Business idea: any-local-recipient donation pick-up and drop-off service

Donations today often involve a lot of work for the donater, which might discourage people from donating. Not only do you have dig the stuff out of your basement or closet, but you have to find and load up a large enough vehicle, drive it to a donation center, maybe unload the vehicle for them, maybe return the vehicle if you rented/borrowed it, and then find your way home.

What if, for a small fee, a van or truck service would drive around picking up people’s stuff, taking it to whomever/wherever they want it donated in the local region (e.g., a particular non-profit organization, a friend or relative, etc.), and scanning any receipts (for tax deductions) from the receiving person/organization and electronically returning them to the customer?

In case the recipient isn’t available, or doesn’t want, to receive the donation, the service might need a secure warehouse for temporary storage, might need good theft and damage insurance, etc. This idea might be quite future-proof as well (for the business’s owner). The delivery vehicles might become self-driving, the warehouses might become automated, and people probably will always accumulate more stuff than they want/need and occasionally will want to donate some of it.

(This idea is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. It may be used commercially.)

The time since/at something we all share

GMT/UTC has a British imperial past (i.e., the time at Greenwich) and was colonialistically imposed on the world. Many countries seem to prefer to measure time with respect to themselves. I wish we could think of something that all of humanity shares, and measure universal time with respect to that.

Time (e.g., seconds and multiples thereof) since the Big Bang, or some other large astronomical event, is perhaps the most universal and future-proof idea. Big Bang time is not yet possible, because humanity’s best astronomy instruments currently can measure when the Big Bang happened to a precision of only about ±21 million years. Whenever it becomes possible, perhaps only the last few digits could be used, for convenience.

The time at the center of the Earth, or at some location that is administered by an open-member international committee, is another idea. The poles probably wouldn’t work, because the sun rises and sets there only once per year. Time runs slightly slower at the center of the Earth than at the surface, due to Earth’s gravity well and time dilation, but I have read it is only about one year slower for every billion years. I understand that GMT/UTC is local mean solar time, meaning the apparent position of the sun relative to a fixed point on a sphere. Even if the sphere was much smaller, one still would have to pick a point on it.

Can you think of anything else that all of humanity (going into the future) shares with respect to which we could measure time?

Idea: Sanghas for disabled people

For people who want a Buddhist monastic lifestyle, but who can’t be regular/full monastics for some reason (e.g., a health disability that makes them unable to be healthy while following all of the precepts, or a long-term responsibility to care for a disabled family member). Such people probably don’t want marriage, but they still need a committed and reliable/robust network of helpers/caretakers as they and their immediate family get old, and they might find commitment and solidarity from others who are in a similar situation. They might have a hard time living on donations, because Buddhists often associate disability with negative past karma, but they could hold whatever jobs they can manage, and they could split costs or share resources.

War with sport

If only we could convince people to fight battles with sports. The losers would only have to be submissive to the winners until next year’s re-match, and no one would have to experience the hell of war. Diplomacy (e.g., negotiating the stakes of sports matches and the terms of winning/surrender), school athletics programs, and defensive police-type forces might receive more funding.

Idea: family journals

Something I wish would exist, or become more organized, is a tradition of families making and passing down records of the views and wisdom that individuals in the family had, and the reasons why certain family members made certain important decisions. It wouldn’t need to be lengthy autobiographies — just a journal that preserves important insights. Personal letters and diaries often don’t survive, possibly because individuals might not want their private thoughts, romantic letters, etc. shared so broadly. But a family journal could preserve a less intimate or embarrassing, yet still insightful, account. If every family kept more-or-less the same kind of journal, the tradition might become more organized than the proverbial shoebox of photos and recipes that many families hand down now. History records migrations, wars, social movements, etc., but individuals are not necessarily/completely defined by society. What kinds of people were my ancestors, and why did my family do what they did?

Experiment idea: monks vs. microscopes

In my experience, Buddhist monks often say that modern externalities (technologies, drugs, etc.) are unnecessary for seeing absolute reality and for healing or improving oneself, that they can have negative side-effects, and that meditation contains natural safeguards (e.g., progress in meditation depends on one becoming increasingly loving/harmless and sober of mind and body, and meditators can maintain control of themselves throughout the process) which technologies and drugs lack. They also sometimes claim that the most advanced meditation masters can see atomic-scale phenomena directly with their minds in jhana meditation. Wouldn’t it be interesting, and possibly validating of meditation for billions of non-Buddhists around the world, to find a rigorous way to compare what such people can see vs. what microscopes can see?

For example, have a CPU manufacturer produce metal plates with microscopic pictures etched onto them at scales from millimeter to nanometer. Deliver highly reputable meditation masters to an isolated facility, so they can’t be accused of cheating. Perhaps they should make the trip secretly, so there is no humiliation if they fail. In a controlled environment, give them the plates, without telling them what pictures they should see, and give them as much time and comfort as they need. Have them draw or describe (on record) whatever they could see, and then let them see the images for themselves with their eyes in a microscope, so that they know they were not deceived, before taking them home. Incentives for their participation might be that, the smaller of pictures they can accurately see, the more money will be donated to their home monastery or village, and the more positive international publicity and funding there could be for their branch of Buddhism. If any masters are found to be reliably capable of competing with powerful microscopes, perhaps the experiments could be demonstrated more publicly.