Navigation from peripheral vision

The problem with navigation applications during the act of navigation is that there is way too much information at hand. Once I start a navigation app, the two questions I have in mind are “When do I need to turn, and in what direction will it be?” I am under the assumption that most navigation occurs in the context of a city, while driving or biking — distractions are unsafe and unwelcome.

On a long drive, I pondered up a hands-free way to navigate without looking at a screen or listening to a nagging voice. Here’s my attempt to answer this question in the form of a smartphone app:

The app sits just inside your peripheral vision, and its sole purpose is to kick into gear when your next turn approaches with highly visible indicators. For example, if a right turn approaches, the app’s screen:
* fades from a neutral color to yellow, as if to say slow down
* a HUGE arrow facing in the direction of your turn slides down from the top. When the vertex of the arrow reaches the bottom of your screen, make the turn.

The idea is that you can navigate to a location without ever looking at a device after the initial destination’s input — the information about the next turn is fed to the user without any effort. Less time with your head down, fewer deaths on the road, and sharper focus on what lay ahead.

Try looking off to the side, and hit the ‘Right Turn Approaching’ button below:

Congress: Keep our National Parks Open

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

Dearest Congress:

I write to you with deep concern about the threat the current budget situation poses to national parks. Congress has allowed park budgets to continuously erode, and now face the possibility of an additional cut in January. We cannot allow our national parks to be the victims of a failed budget process, especially when parks are so important to millions of Americans like me and do so much to benefit many local economies.

     If Congress fails to find a solution by January, the National Park Service budget will automatically be cut by more than $200 million. That could mean some level of closure at virtually every national park in the system, including reductions in park hours or seasons, closures of campgrounds or visitor’s centers, and even the outright closure of many parks in the next year. And it will force the firing of as many as 9,000 rangers who serve the public, protect our parks, and keep the parks running—a devastating blow. We need a balanced approach to addressing the federal budget deficit that accounts for cuts to parks that have already occurred.

     Even if the mindless budget sequester does not occur, Congress needs to stop nickel and diming our nation’s national parks each year. The budget for the National Park Service in today’s dollars is already 15 percent less than it was a decade ago. Every driver knows you need to put enough gas in the tank or you run out. Congress isn’t putting enough gas in the tank, and the tires are about to fall off.

     Washington needs to solve our deficit problem, but national parks didn’t cause the deficit. Cutting or closing them won’t cure it. Our national parks attract nearly 280 million visitors each year. The parks support 258,000 jobs and more than $30 billion in private-sector spending and generate $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar spent. And they do it all with funding that is only 1/14th of 1 percent of the federal budget. Our national parks are job producers and economy builders (in the latest political parlance) and should be treated accordingly in federal budget deliberations, not subjected to mindless cuts. At the end of the day, slashing national park spending does not make sense.

     At a time when there is so much disagreement, the American public agrees that protecting our national parks should be a priority. According to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters–which includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents–agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased. I am one of those people. Please prevent the January sequester from occurring, and support an alternative solution that protects our national treasures. We should be investing in what works.


Daniel Morgan

If this is something YOU believe in, take action here.

(Edited from a boilerplate message on

Here’s some history of the National Parks in the US.

Winter in Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee / Evosia on Vimeo.

Tuesday: A big day for Genetically Modified Food

Update: California disappointed me. Prop 37 did not pass.

I’ve been diving into the history of Genetically Modified foods lately. I find the difference between attitudes in Europe and those in the U.S. really striking (Yep, we’re an easy-going bunch of eaters in comparison). Here’s a snippet from an article titled Europe angers US with strict GM labeling posted in Nature Biotechnology in 2003 right when Europe began establishing its import bans on Genetically Modified Organisms:

…the new regime—agreed to in late November 2002 after lengthy negotiations between ministers of individual member states—extends labeling to end-products such as sugars and oils even when GM ingredients cannot be detected in them because they are physically and chemically identical to products derived from non-GM crops. Even meat suppliers who feed their animals with transgenic grain will have to GM-label their products.
Food items will be exempted only if they were derived from crop material of which less than 0.9% was genetically modified. Comprehensive tracing of GM corn shipments will be essential to verify this. The effect will be that North American manufacturers will soon find their corn- or soy-based foodstuffs—virtually all of which are GM-derived—tagged with what the National Grain and Feed Association (Washington, DC) has likened to a “skull and crossbones on the packet.”

The CFR put out a great report in April of 2001 with a great introduction to the rampant skepticism of GMOs in Europe. Paints us Yankees as corn-dog scarfing ne’er-do-wells. To remedy this, Californians will vote Tuesday whether Genetically Modified food must be labelled in the state — a right Europeans have enjoyed for a decade. Also within the bill are restrictions on use of the word ‘Natural’, ‘Naturally made’, ‘naturally grown’ and ‘all natural.’

It’s amazing that entire aisles of our supermarkets cannot be fed even to the swine of Europe.

The Corn Aisle

On a related note, I recommend watching the film (or even just the trailer) of Genetic Roulette and reading Michael Specter’s take in the New Yorker. I agree with the idea that seeds are at the root of the issue, but I have a huge amount of faith in the growing popularity of organic seed libraries sprouting all over America.