A week in which Ted Stevens claims to have suffered the saddest day of his life hardly needs my help to seem cheery. (Students of pathology, take note: Attaturk mentions one of the sad days in Stevens' life that apparently distressed him quite a bit less.)
Throw in a crushing legal defeat for Wal-Mart, and an annihilating legal defeat for intelligent design, and this week's news starts to seem like the best we've had all year. Do I really need to gild the lily?
Sure I do. Engineer-Poet discusses a couple of important developments in the hybrid-car market. Here's one of them:
Honda has announced hybrid Civic price cuts and the possible withdrawal of non-hybrid Civics from some markets. With the hybrid price premium set to fall to $1700, there are fewer and fewer reasons to buy the conventional drivetrain. Eventually, Honda may no longer build them.WorldChanging reports on the use of iPods as portable medical guides, with instructions on CPR and other emergency medical treatments:
Getting rid of the non-hybrid Civic is a very big shift. A company which is willing to do this is probably open-minded enough to make other bold moves.
FirstAidPod is an organization that provides emergency instructions as podcasts. The idea is that, while few of us carry around printed medical guides, many of us carry music players; if a medical emergency occurs, users can open up the correct audio file and listen to step-by-step instructions for handling common -- but life-threatening -- problems. Currently-available first aid podcasts include Infant CPR (.m4a) and Child CPR (.m4a), with Adult CPR coming soon.WorldChanging also describes an interesting form of low-tech water desalinization:
Made of a rugged, transparent plastic, the Watercone is incredibly easy to use: fill up the base plate with salt water, place the cone over the plate, and wait. 24 hours later, a trough around the edge of the cone will contain 1-1.5 liters of fresh water, produced by evaporation/condensation. Pour the water out, and start again. Individual units are expected to cost around $50 apiece, although that will depend in large part on who manufactures them.I enjoyed this article about two couples who created Indiana's Spicer Lake Nature Preserve. Even if you skip the article, click that last link and have a look at the Preserve....it's gorgeous. (Link via Beakspeak.)
The four people who protected the wetlands at Spicer Lake recently received an award for their efforts from the National Audubon Society. By way of contrast, three people who destroyed wetlands in Mississippi have received prison sentences and fines:
Sentenced were Robert J. Lucas Jr. of Lucedale, who developed the Big Hill Acres mobile home park in Vancleave; his daughter, Robbie Lucas Wrigley, an Ocean Springs real estate agent who sold at Big Hill Acres; and engineer M.E. Thompson Jr. of D'Iberville, who designed septic systems for the development.Here's a story that ought to please everyone:
Lucas received nine years in prison, and Wrigley and Thompson each got seven years and three months. Two corporations, Big Hill Acres Inc. and Consolidated Investments Inc., both run by Lucas, were fined. Big Hill Acres was ordered to pay $4.8 million and Consolidated Investment to pay $500,000. Federal officials hailed the sentences as the largest of their kind in U.S. history.
The European Union (EU) will impose a complete ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed as from Jan. 1, 2006. The last four antibiotics which have been permitted as feed additives to help fatten livestock will no longer be allowed to be marketed or used from this date, said the European Commission on Thursday.And while we're on the subject of unregenerate socialism, here's an unusual example of consumer activism from the sunny land of Sweden:
On January 1, the EU launched a system that enables companies which have not used up all their "polluting rights" to sell them to companies which have exceeded their limit.Not a bad haul, eh? I seem to have gotten into the habit of ending this feature with links to aesthetically pleasing sites, so I may as well make it an official tradition. Visual Complexity compiles various graphic representations of complex networks. On a more populist note, Tick Tock Toys has an eye-gouging gallery of food advertising premiums here. For those of a more antiquarian bent, I recommend Robots of the Victorian Era.
The sale of emission rights is open to the public, a fact which has not escaped SNF. The group is giving the public the chance to buy carbon dioxide rights on its website for 350 kronor (37 euros, 44 dollars) per tonne, thereby depriving companies of those rights to emit the greenhouse gas.