Thursday, April 12, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

I'm generally skeptical of the style and substance of Arnold Schwarzenegger's environmentalist rhetoric, but I did appreciate this stab at the denial industry:

“So who are the fanatics now?” Schwarzenegger asked during his address at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall, which was packed with young adults who twice gave him standing ovations. “They are the ones who are in denial.”
I suspect that a single statement like this is capable of counteracting tens of thousands of dollars' worth of denialist ad campaigns and hit pieces.

The same could probably be said for Conoco Phillips' decision to join a coalition calling for limits on greenhouse gases:
Conoco Phillips became the newest member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, an alliance of big business and environmental groups that in January told President Bush that mandatory emissions caps are needed to reduce the flow of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Conoco Phillips is the largest oil producer in Alaska and runs some of the North Slope oil fields.
And the Duke Foundation's decision to set up a $100 million fund for research into global warming:
Up to $100 million (€75 million) is to be awarded to nonprofit groups, research institutions and universities. They would be expected to study which policies and technologies will be the best to help build a "clean-energy economy," the foundation said in a statement Sunday.
Nor does it help the denialist cause to have Republican senator Wayne Gilchrest saying things like this:
How do you awake this sleeping giant called America that is lethargic because it’s well fed, well housed, well clothed, and well entertained? How do you break out of that cycle? An Inconvenient Truth, the movie, was one significant way to do it.

Educators in all our public schools, which are or should be the epicenter of intellectual thought, should begin making this a high priority in their curriculum. Colleges and universities should make it a high priority. Churches should make it a high priority: preserving God’s creation. People who are in positions of authority should be relentlessly pursuing this as an issue.
There's more to our changing attitude than rhetoric, though. Maryland's legislature has passed a groundbreaking solar power bill, largely because citizens got involved:
After the bill passed out of both the House and Senate by commanding majorities (Senate 30-17, and House 128-7) a small cabal of Senators took it upon themselves to do whatever it took to kill it -- including parliamentary maneuvers to delay action until the session ended....

So over the weekend, Maryland citizens sent hundreds of emails, and phone calls lit up the switchboards Monday morning -- all demanding that the Maryland Senate stand firm and not allow last-minute shenanigans to kill the solar bill. And when State Senator EJ Pipkin stood up Monday night to filibuster ... his cabal had evaporated.
While dead-enders like Pipkin make abject fools of themselves, researchers like Dr. Wayne Campbell continue to improve solar-cell technology:
After 10 years of research, Dr. Campbell has developed solar cell technology capable of generating electricity at a 10th of the cost of current silicon based solar cells.
The advent of 3D solar cells bears watching, too:
Unique three-dimensional solar cells that capture nearly all of the light that strikes them could boost the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) systems while reducing their size, weight and mechanical complexity.
The beleaguered Bush administration....

That was so pleasant, I believe I'll type it again.

The beleaguered Bush administration has suffered yet another setback:
A federal appeals court Monday rejected the Bush administration's novel 2004 plan for making Columbia Basin hydroelectric dams safe for salmon, saying it used "sleight of hand" and violated the Endangered Species Act....

"Under this approach, a listed species could be gradually destroyed, so long as each step on the path to destruction is sufficiently modest," Judge Sydney R. Thomas wrote of the Bush administration's approach to balancing dams against salmon. "This type of slow slide into oblivion is one of the very ills the ESA seeks to prevent."
Speakling of endangered species, a live condor egg has been found in California for the first time in a century:
"The first wild egg to us is the sign that the birds are being successful out in the wild and that they're going to make it," said biologist Joe Burnett.
Missouri seems to be having some success with restoring wetlands:
Ted Heisel, a local environmental attorney, said he has "mixed feelings" about the man-made features in the conservation area, but he credited the new wetlands with attracting wildlife, including the large flock of snow geese he saw about a month ago.
In Canterbury, England, grazing horses are being used to rejuvenate marshlands:
"Koniks do a fantastic job," says Peter Smith, chief executive of the Wildwood Trust in Kent. "Their low-level grazing means reed beds will soon return, which will provide the habitat to support a wider range of wildlife, such as black-tailed godwits, bitterns and water voles."
Agricultural Biodiversity reports on an interesting ethnobotanical garden in Sarawak, and adds "gardens of useful plants strike me as an excellent way to promote the virtues of agricultural biodiversity in a local context."

WorldChanging discusses the True Cost Clearinghouse, which is "an extensive archive of articles, studies and reports about the hidden ecological and social costs behind pricetags and standard cost-benefit analyses." Worth a look.

Congress has voted to make cockfighting a felony:
The Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday night that the House had approved in a lopsided vote late last month. President Bush is expected to sign the bill, which imposes a prison sentence of up to three years on anyone caught shipping fighting dogs or roosters, or the fighting implements used in cockfights.
There's talk of using insect eggs to produce vaccines:
An experimental flu vaccine made in insect cells – not in eggs, where flu vaccines currently available in the United States are grown – is safe and as effective as conventional vaccines in protecting people against the flu, according to results published in the April 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
As usual, Revere cuts through the hype and offers a balanced assessment:
This method produces substantial protein yields and the protein seems to be of good quality for immunological purposes. This has implications for other methods of producing immunogenic viral flu protein, including DNA based vaccines.

Even if this vaccine doesn't become the newest and best way to produce influenza vaccine, we've learned something.
Revere is also cautiously optimistic about the possibility that statins can reduce mortality in pandemic flu cases:
Some statins have now gone off patent and are available in generic form. They are among the highest volume drugs and supplies are plentiful, so if they are truly protective of the most virulent outcomes of H5N1 infection this is good news.
It does my antiquarian heart good to know that we'll soon be using zeppelins to explore the North Pole. More important, though, it gives me a perfect lead-in to recommend Stereoscopic Images of Lighter Than Air Flight.

Science and the Artist's Book is old, but new to me. It's worth visiting more for the scans of original science texts than for the artistic responses to them, although I did like Scott L. McCarney's Diderot / Doubleday / Deconstruction:

Luminous Lint presents War Models by William Laven.

Coudal recommends 100% Recuerdos Ajenos, a found photo site from Brazil. As do I.

As for Early Las comment, except that it goes nicely with the sounds of the Xenia Tornado, recorded on April 3, 1974.

Gallery of Automata strikes a blow for truth in advertising by offering a gallery of automata. You might also want to look at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, a Flickr set from Chris O'Shea.

All of which pales in comparison to this video from Karakuri Corner, a site dedicated to Japanese automata.

If you need a soundtrack, you may choose between the pyrophone and the hydraulophone.

(Photo at top: "View of the telescope at Slough" by Sir John Herschel, 1839.)


Anonymous said...

I was especially interested in the photos of blimps. My Dad was stationed at Lakehurst, NJ during WWII and I was born there 10 years after the Hindenberg went down there. He was an engineer working on de-icing systems for the blimps. I googled his name once and found that some of his reports were declassified and can be found on the Internet. It was weird to see photocopies of typed reports that he wrote.

Interrobang said...

That tornado audio really was sort of interesting... Kind of overlong, though. It doesn't really do the sound justice, either, but what do you expect from 1974 recording technology? I got to listen once as a tornado passed within 1.5km of my house at the time. It was close enough that my ears popped. The only commonality to the sound that I recall is that weird pulsating quality to it.

Nanette said...

I really want one of those Japanese automata things. How cool is that?

Okay, I want some of the ones in the Cabaret theater as well. It's a good thing I have limited space (and even more limited patience for dusting) or I'd have fun, but useless, junk all over the place.

Found photos are interesting, but somehow sad.

Kudos to the Marylanders.

(word verification thingies are really starting to make me doubt my eyesight. Or its abilities to read perfectly legible and correct letters.)