Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cool collage: Waste into Art

For the past several days I've been seeing a group of students busily doing an "art project" on the side of the building that's on the way from my office to the school cafeteria. (Usually that's not a good sign...but it is can't do too many bad things here!). On closer inspection, I was seriously impressed.

Here's a student working on it. The tools are simple. Used aluminium cans of various colors, a paper background with the design outlined, and some hardy glue, and of course people to do the work :-)

If you look closer, you'll see the remnants of drink cans (many are Asian specific drinks, so you may not recognize them). Some of the white pieces are pieces of Diet coke cans, the red pieces are from coca cola cans, and the black from coke zero!!

The kids were undergraduates in the Law program at NUS. They have to put together a float for their department, during some Uni parade. Low on funds, one insightful person came up with this design. I LIKE!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Watch "Water on the Table"

Filmmakers Maude Barlow and Liz Marshall talk during the filming of "Water on the Table." (Click on the picture for original photo source)

Have you seen Water on the Table?? It is a film by Liz Marshall and Maude Barlow, about the humanity of water. I first heard about it when it was featured in one of my college auditoriums at Lake Forest College in the US. Along with promoting this documentary, the book Blue Gold written by Barlow and Tony Clarke, was also promoted. It is claimed that film director, Liz Marshall, was truly inspired by the book and had decided on bringing a visual aspect to pass on the message.

The message was simple-“water is a human right and not a commodity to be bought and sold like oil and sugar.” This documentary is both beautiful and poetic, as well as controversial and thought provoking.

If you have not seen it, I would strongly recommend doing so.

More links:
Water on the Table main website:
You can also follow them on twitter: @wateronthetable

This is the first in a series of posts by KS, an intern who is working with me over the summer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Links I liked

I'm in the middle of reading through my blogroll after a very long time. I've just been inundated with work, and am finally able to make the time to catch up on my reading. Here are some of the best of the links I've seen so far:

1. Interesting Q&A session with popular development economist and author of "The End of Poverty", Prof Jeffrey Sachs

2. Diagnostics continue to be the bottleneck for most healthcare in the developing world. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that this particular cheap diagnostic test out of Vietnam is causing ripples.

3. Around a fifth of global science papers are now freely available online, a study finds, with Latin America and India leading the pack!

4. Ask a garbologist questions. Fascinating potential discussion and amusing writeup.

5. Belgium is considering resomation...would you want to be resomated after you die??

6. How "easy" do you think this award-winning "easy latrine" is??

7. Alaskan water being shipped to India...(seriously!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

CHECK OUT the BBC World Debate on Water...airing THIS WEEKEND

Panelists debate water issues at the BBC World Debate, filmed live on location in Singapore. Photo Credit: Institute of Water Policy

A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I helped put together the first BBC World Debate on Water. Its the first time that such a major network has done such a high profile debate on the issue of water (and might I say, about time!!).

The event was part of our attempt to bring more public dialoguing about water issues into the limelight. We purposely held it during the famous and very international Singapore International Water Week (a week-long conference that brings together almost 15,000 water geeks from all over the world), so that we could get an international and eclectic audience into the room who could then take their viewpoints to others. Only 250 people were allowed to attend the live filming, and they came from around the world...ranging from high school kids to high profile water ministers.

Feedback has been very positive thus far. And we are happy that you can all finally see it too!!

The BBC World Debate on Water will air worldwide THIS WEEKEND as follows. Please note that ALL times listed below are in SGT (Singapore Time). Please check local listings for the exact time in your country or area, (its supposed to be the singapore time converted into whatever your timezone is but I'm not sure):


On the BBC
World News Channel

Saturday, 17 JULY 2010, 17:10 (SGT)

Sunday, 18 JULY 2010, 10:10 (SGT) and 23:10 (SGT)

Should you miss seeing it on TV, you can watch it online starting next week, directly on the BBC site at

Please feel free to forward this around. Also we would love to hear your feedback on the event. Do email us back with comments, questions, and/or suggestions about the event (eg. how we can make it better or other types of events you would like to see us host)!

Do email me at tworque AT gmail DOT com, with your feedback.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Sanitation Crisis explored by Current TV's Adam Yamaguchi

Adam Yamaguchi on site in India (

Sanitation crisis documentary

Vanguard correspondent Adam Yamaguchi travels to India, Singapore and Indonesia to understand why people don't use toilets and what's being done to end the practice of open defecation.

An estimated 2.6 billion people, about 40% of the world's population, have no access to toilets and defecate anywhere they can. As a result, more than 2 million people -- including 1.5 million children -- die from complications of chronic diarrhea.

When human waste isn't contained or flushed down the toilet, it's everywhere -- in streets, open fields and, most dangerously, in the very water people drink. Adam investigates how countries are trying to solve an epidemic that few people want to talk about -- the world's toilet crisis.

"Vanguard," airing weekly on Current TV Wednesdays at 10/9c, is a no-limits documentary series whose award-winning correspondents put themselves in extraordinary situations to immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Unlike sound-bite driven reporting, the show's correspondents, Adam Yamaguchi, Kaj Larsen, Christof Putzel and Mariana van Zeller, serve as trusted guides who take viewers on in-depth real life adventures in pursuit of some of the world's most important stories.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is the World Ready for Waterless Urinals?? Article from WIRED

Gotten from Wired Magazine, July 2010. Credits below


Pissing Match: Is the World Ready for the Waterless Urinal?"

By Joshua Davis June 22, 2010 | 12:00 pm | Wired July 2010

In a laboratory 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, a mechanical penis sputters to life. A technician starts a timer as a stream of water erupts from the apparatus’s brass tip, arcing into a urinal mounted exactly 12 inches away. James Krug smiles. His latest back-splatter experiment is under way.

Krug is an unusual entrepreneur. Twenty years ago, he was a rising star in the film and television business. He served as a vice president of the Disney Channel in the 1980s and ran a distribution company with members of the Disney family in the ’90s. But 11 years ago, Krug became convinced that the world did not need another TV show. What it needed was a better urinal.

His transformation from Hollywood player to urinal evangelist began in 1999 at the Universal Studios Hilton in LA. A business acquaintance of Krug knew that he was interested in exploring new opportunities and arranged a meeting with Ditmar Gorges, a German engineer who fervently believed that flushing a urinal was a waste of water. Sitting in the Hilton lobby, Gorges gushed potty talk. He explained that he had invented a water-free urinal and pointed out that urine was already liquid and a generally sterile liquid at that. Gravity could drain it completely. No flush necessary.

Krug immediately grasped the implications: The German’s humble innovation had the potential to save millions of gallons of water at a time when demand for the natural resource was draining aquifers dry. It would do more than any film or TV show to solve a pressing problem. Krug decided to help.

Drawing on sales skills he’d honed at the Cannes Film Festival, Krug dived into the bathroom business. He formed Falcon Waterfree Technologies with Gorges and explained to anyone who would listen that the water-free urinal would save more than just water: In California, a fifth of the electrical output was consumed by processing and pumping water. Cutting water usage would reduce our carbon footprint.

Falcon wasn’t the first to develop a waterless urinal. A company near San Diego had been struggling to sell them since 1991. But Krug made a conceptual breakthrough: The real profits wouldn’t come from the urinals themselves. They’d come from selling the replaceable cartridges that sat in each of the waterless receptacles.

In a traditional urinal, water pools in the drain after every flush, preventing sewer gases from escaping into living areas. Gorges’ invention employed a plastic cartridge filled with a liquid sealant. Urine could pass through, but sewer gases remained trapped beneath the sealant no water needed. The $40 cartridge had to be replaced after 7,000 uses, turning a onetime urinal purchase into a perpetual income stream. Krug’s business model took a page out of the Gillette playbook: Keep the urinal cost low and lock customers in to buying the cartridges.

He quickly won converts. Cable tycoon Marc Nathanson made a substantial investment in early 2000, and in 2001 Falcon began to manufacture its urinal, dubbed the U1P. Soon Al Gore signed on as an adviser, and in 2006, Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, made a significant investment. Krug was sure the world was ready for a better bowl there hadn’t been any major advances in urinal technology for decades but there was something he wasn’t prepared for: the plumbers.

Mike Massey didn’t like Krug’s urinal. As head of PIPE, a plumbing union advocacy group in Southern California, Massey looks out for plumbers’ interests. And as far as he was concerned, the waterless urinal was a threat to public health. Diseases might fester because the urinals weren’t being washed down with every use. Sewer gasses might leak through the cartridge. “People take plumbing for granted,” Massey says. “But the reality is that plumbers protect the health of the nation. That’s how we think of our job.”

Full story at Wired: