Larry Baum's ideas: (click suns to rate or comment on ideas)

1 Government in many countries alternates between two options: dogma (theocracy) or dictatorship (or military rule). The third D, democracy, tends to lose as it lacks the intense personal reward of heaven (dogma) or wealth (corruption in dictatorship). E-mail
2 Develop a sport using an atlatl (spear-throwing lever) to throw a ball. The distances achieved would be impressive. E-mail
3 2 satellites collided, spewing debris that threaten other satellites. To prevent crashes, a UN agency should track all orbiting objects and program a computer to predict their orbits and potential collisions. Satellites could then maneuver out of danger. E-mail
4 Before starting to date, everyone should find and interview 10 married and 10 divorced people to learn how to avoid their mistakes and do what worked well. This is difficult for kids, thus high schools should arrange this as part of sex education. E-mail
5 Create a website with interviews of people who tried to enter various careers and failed or succeeded, with statistics on % who quit that track or got a job. Are they happy? Provide the site for all high school career guidance counselors worldwide. E-mail
6 Most people are not all good or bad. We are not white hats or black hats, or even gray hats. We are multiple shades and colors, which change with the light and angle from which we are viewed, and they change with time, and with the eye of the beholder. E-mail
7 IPO auctions: companies lose money when their stock prices rise just after their initial public offerings. Companies should auction their shares to the highest bidders instead of the current practice of fixing a price and choosing buyers by lottery. E-mail
8 Applicants to universities should submit a business plan for their chosen career, showing their research into job prospects for their field. This may prevent some painful surprises on graduation and may steer people to better paths before it's too late. E-mail
9 Save life by donating a kidney to a stranger. You may trigger a "domino transplant", in which several donors who were willing to give a kidney to a relative, but were immunologically incompatible, give instead to a stranger. Thus, many lives are saved. E-mail
10 To protect against loss of power to a nuclear power plant, use a water tower. Gravity can force cool water through the reactor until power is restored. E-mail
11 To replace time-consuming and rigid grant applications, pay scientists a fixed salary, from which they need to pay all their research expenses, including supplies, equipment, and staff, encouraging efficient use of money to produce the best results. E-mail
12 Bananasicle: Freeze a banana to eat like a popsicle, but much richer, tastier, and healthier. E-mail
13 Color-blindness in relationships: People are different and will feel some things that their partners don't, as if one is color blind to a feeling the partner sees as glorious, leading to confusion, frustration, and pain. Explain, understand, manage. E-mail
14 Murphy Analysis: Murphy's Law says whatever can go wrong will go wrong. When seeing whether some data fit your theory, erase your assumptions and brainstorm alternative theories the data could fit. Often one of those is right and your theory is wrong. E-mail
15 I heard this: "I'm a historian, not a futurist." That's like a scientist saying, "I collect data. I don't make theories." The purpose of gathering data is to make theories to predict what will happen and improve the course of events. History should, too. E-mail
16 People tend to call other people "bad" if they disagree with their values and thus act in ways they dislike. This is the source of much misunderstanding and conflict in love and war. We should avoid calling people "bad" and instead think "different". E-mail
17 Make an online activity for each citizen to assign spending and taxation categories of his national government. Experiencing the compromises needed to balance the budget will make people more realistic and will transmit that realism to their government. E-mail
18 Just as some people are hyperactive, some people are hypoactive. They're just not noticed because they are quiet. However, it may cause problems: aversion to exercise may harm health, and aversion to interaction may cause problems in marriage and work.. E-mail
19 Why do people marry prisoners? Not for interaction. But they may seek a sense of ownership of a person. Like locking jewelry in a safe deposit box, jail is a secure way to keep a spouse. Ownership may also be one motivation for marriage in general. E-mail
20 People who don't like to argue and thus suppress their disagreements create peace on the surface but may feel angry or sad. They end up like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or more appropriately, Mr. Hide. E-mail
21 Banks that are "too big to fail" threaten the world economy if they do fail. To prevent banks from getting so big, government should force breakups or block mergers of banks/companies with assets or liabilities > 1 day of world GDP (0.3% of annual GDP). E-mail
22 A spiral slide as a fire escape from tall buildings. It has a cover and may use seats (& seatbelts) on gears (to regulate speed). It goes 10 floors at a time. Access via metal, locked doors, opened only in an emergency. Faster than stairs. E-mail
23 Governments should run shelters for all street children and supply basic food, clothing, health care, and education. E-mail
24 Meta behaviors: some personality characteristics affect whole classes of behavior. For example, some people are more flexible in changing their behavior to get along with people; some are more sensitive to sensory input in general; etc. E-mail
25 Permanent UN fund for disaster relief so that emergency aid can be spent quickly when needed, instead of begging and waiting for donations while people die. Fund it with regular dues or taxes. Now it's been created: CERF. E-mail
26 For children to wash their hands, one sink in every public restroom should be placed low, with the faucet closer to the front edge. Now I always need to pick up my child awkwardly, as if giving him an "airplane ride", to let him wash his hands. E-mail
27 Give every person in the world equal allowances to emit greenhouse gasses, and require large emitters to buy allowances from people on an open market. This will bypass countries and corruption and will benefit poor people. E-mail
28 Hand Me Downs: a service pairing rich families with poor families so that instead of discarding used stuff, the rich can give it to the poor, like many extended families and close friends do with their old cell phones, toys, clothes, etc. E-mail
29 Pet rental: service to rent dogs, cats, and other pets to people for an hour, a day, a week, or longer. This would let people decide whether they like and can handle pet care and would reduce abandonment. E-mail
30 Send tsunami and other disaster warnings by SMS (short message service) so that people who don't happen to be watching TV or listening to radio at the moment can be alerted and can evacuate. (tornado, typhoon, cyclone, hurricane) E-mail
31 Divert carbon dioxide from power plants or other sources to greenhouses or fields to increase crop yields. Legumes may benefit most. E-mail
32 Governments should pay for removal of discarded fishing nets snagged underwater. These nets last centuries, killing huge numbers of fish and mammals. E-mail
33 Emotion and logic are both needed for action. Logic alone can show something is true, but so what? Logic gives no motivation to act on truth unless there's a principle to motivate action: an "e-motion". E-mail
34 To improve railway safety, install GPS devices and radio transmitters on all train locomotives. A computer at a control center would monitor all train locations and alert any trains headed for a crash, based on position and velocity estimates. E-mail
35 States or provinces tend to spend all their income when the economy grows, then need to cut spending in a recession, just when more spending is needed. Countries should tax states in expansions and pay them in recessions in order to create balance. E-mail
36 To better predict the magnitude of technological improvement, such as increases in oil reserves, use a top-down approach (extrapolating overall statistics), rather than bottom-up (trying to predict technology). Moore's Law is an example. E-mail
37 Companies charge huge fees to workers who migrate abroad for long-term contract jobs (as maids, construction workers, etc.). Instead, governments should arrange migration and contracts at low cost to let workers keep more of their meager incomes. E-mail
38 Divide problems into parts: behavior, knowledge, or money (there's often overlap). Then it would be easier to focus on the most efficient solutions. AIDS as example: b. to use condoms, k. to make a vaccine, m. to pay for drugs. E-mail
39 To prevent financial tsunamis, countries or UN should define companies that are "too big to fail" and assign a regulator to declare others that fall outside the definition, then put a public official on their boards and limit their leverage and risk. E-mail
40 Teach kids reading with their bedtime storybook. Start by teaching 1-letter words, then 2-letter words, just one each night. If he can't remember a word, then tell him, and read the previous sentence again and ask him the word again. Use praise. E-mail
41 Teach estimation for real-life: Fermi quiz (power of 10 estimates), budgets, taxes, should I buy insurance, how likely are coincidences, how much food to make for a meal. (math,probability,statistics) E-mail
42 Teach practical history. Don't memorize dates. Generalize how people behave in similar events around the world over time: culture clashes, democracy movements vs. dictators, economic booms/busts, ethnic wars, development. Apply to future. E-mail
43 Teach how to handle money: calculate income taxes, how to set up an IRA, how to buy stocks, how to compare returns of various investments, life insurance, annuities, how to start a business, credit cards, loans, mortgage. (practical economics) E-mail
44 Mark cell phone keys with Braille dots so that blind people can more easily use them. E-mail
45 Research grant applications and papers should be accepted or rejected quickly. Now they take up to a year, during which time they may become obsolete. The delay accumulates since follow-up studies are slowed up to 2 years, etc. E-mail
46 Save lives of heart attack victims: put defibrillators in public places and train people in their use like CPR. See this New England Journal of Medicine editorial. E-mail
47 Teach practical behavior: top reasons people divorce or stay married, or have children. Causes of spouse abuse & child abuse. Parent/teen relations. Recognizing and treating psychiatric illness. E-mail
48 Teach how to behave in the legal system: what to do when police stop you or arrest you or if you are summoned or sued, what is bail, what is it like in jail, what to do if you're a victim of crime, how to survive in a mugging or rape. E-mail
49 To raise money needed by charities (such as schools) for specific needs, set up a website to allow recipients to post proposals and allow donors to choose which they will fund. DonorsChoose is an example. E-mail
50 A book interviewing people in various careers, and people who failed in those careers, to inform students about good and bad career choices and give hard-learned tips for succeeding. E-mail