Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

Brazil's expanded birth-control program will provide the morning-after pill to the poor:

Speaking at a round-table discussion Monday sponsored by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Temporao called the morning-after pill "an important tool for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies that will definitely be part of our strategy" to help Brazil's poor have the same access to birth control as its rich elite.
The leaders of ten African countries are calling for abortion to be made safe and legal:
"It is sad to learn that 68,000 women die of unsafe abortion each year and out of these, 30,000 are in Africa," said Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori at a three-day conference addressing human rights and maternal mortality. He and representatives from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia urged African leaders to make a "political commitment" to end unsafe abortion in their countries.
New Hampshire has repealed its parental notification law for abortions:
"I strongly believe parents should be involved in these decisions, providing important support and guidance. Unfortunately that is not possible in every case," Lynch said.

Lynch cited the law's lack of a provision regarding the pregnant minor's health, agreeing with the judge who ruled the law unconstitutional in 2003.
There's more evidence that Echidneism is the One True Faith:
Eating about 30 calories a day of dark chocolate was associated with a lowering of blood pressure, without weight gain or other adverse effects, according to a study in the July 4 issue of JAMA.
A new medical procedure with the pleasingly retro-futuristic name of irreversible electroporation will soon be tested as a treatment for prostate cancer:
Oncologists already use a variety of methods to destroy tumors using heat or freezing processes, but these current techniques can damage healthy tissue or leave malignant cells. The difference with IRE is Davalos and Rubinsky were able to adjust the electrical current and reliably kill the targeted cells. “The reliable killing of a targeted area with cellular scale resolution without affecting surrounding tissue or nearby blood vessels is key,” Davalos said.
I've never liked the idea of wind turbines that are anchored in the sea floor. Floating turbines, however, seem just dandy:
Norsk Hydro expects to be able to use this technology on sites located 50-100 miles off shore, and with a depth of up to 500 meters. Norsk Hydro’s turbine will be the first large scale prototype of its kind, expected to be installed in the North Sea by 2009. If successful, Norsk Hydro expects a full windmill to be operational by 2012.
A new room-sized sodium-sulfur battery is allegedly poised to revolutionalize power distribution:
Using so-called NaS batteries, utilities could defer for years, and possibly even avoid, construction of new transmission lines, substations and power plants, says analyst Stow Walker of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. They make wind power — wildly popular but frustratingly intermittent — a more reliable resource. And they provide backup power in case of outages, such as the one that hit New York City last week.
The Hague will use geothermal power to heat 4,000 homes and several industrial buildings:
Although the idea of using underground warmth to heat homes is not new, the plan would be the largest attempted in the Netherlands and is unusual in its design....

"This geothermal energy will be transported to the district heating network through heat exchangers," the statement said. "Via this network of pipes the energy eventually will be distributed to the houses," which would be equipped with underfloor heating instead of a radiator.
If it gets too hot, they can cool down with this solar icemaker.

In other solar news, an ingenious solar kiln is helping Kenyan woodcarvers to achieve fair trade certification:
Part of that certification involves utilizing sustainable woods such as Neem wood. One of the downsides to utilizing Neem is that if it is not dried properly it can cause the carvings to crack. To combat this problem they are utilizing a solar Kiln. Dark sheets located on the roof of the kiln trap solar energy heating up the inside of the Kiln. The Kiln has been outfitted with electric fans so that during the rainy seasons the carvers can still dry their carvings.
And there are some massive solar plants planned for California's Central Valley:
"There are so many positive ripple effects," Swearengin said, such as the prospect of cleaner energy, new jobs and an opportunity to build an international reputation in an emerging field.
China has apparently ceased the production and import of halon and CFCs:
Eight industries that used or produced CFCs and halon had banned the substances at the end of June, the official Xinhua News Agency said, without naming the industries. The final six Chinese factories to produce CFCs, located in Changshu in eastern China's Jiangsu province, agreed to stop production Saturday, Xinhua reported.
And Elliot Spitzer has signed a bill that will "phase-out the manufacture, sale and use of creosote."

A judge has rejected two Utah counties' attempt to allow off-road vehicles in the Escalante National Monument:
Heidi McIntosh of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said, "The court's ruling reaffirms that counties may not undermine the protection of unique and scenic public lands like national monuments by simply uttering the 'magical' phrase R.S. 2477. And it should put some steel in the spine of the BLM, which has too often allowed the counties who do so to get away with it."
And a Florida utility has shelved plans to build a new coal-fired plant:
Project Manager Mike Lawson said, "Our mission is to provide reliable power at an affordable price in an environmentally responsible manner. We believe the state-of-the-art technology we proposed would satisfy those objectives; however, growing concerns about climate change have raised questions that must be addressed thoughtfully."
Climate denialists who blame the current warming trend on cosmic rays turn out to be - wait for it, now - wrong, which is heartening both because the truth is a dagger in their black hearts, and also because anthropogenic climate change, while daunting, is not quite as daunting as catastrophic natural warming.

The EU is taking on the philosophical complex task of perceiving the sky as one thing, instead of as a reified composite of imaginary borders:
Despite numerous efforts to integrate air traffic management systems, Europe is still broken up into small slices of airspace controlled by national governments, which for political reasons have traditionally been keen to retain control over flights. This has contributed to making air travel over Europe 70 percent less cost efficient than in the United States.
For whatever it's worth, new research suggests that organic tomatoes have more antioxidants:
According to the new findings, levels of the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol were found to be on average 79 and 97 per cent higher, respectively, in organic tomatoes.
Interesting, if true.

The Sietch has a nice story on Cape Cod's annual effeort to protect the nests of piping plovers:
Because these animals are endangered and because their nests are so hard to see, every year the people who manage sandy neck beach on Cape Cod install over 6 miles of symbolic fencing to keep people and cars from destroying these tiny creatures by accident.
I also enjoyed this story on the Quakers' effort to escape from fossil-fuel dependence:
Still to come: up to six 1,500-foot-deep geothermal wells under the 15th Street sidewalk that will use groundwater and a heat exchanger to reduce by almost 40 percent the energy needed to heat and cool the building, and holding tanks to reuse rain runoff from the center's adjacent 1856 meetinghouse for toilet flushing.

High-tech may not be the first adjective most people associate with Quakers. But, McBee explained, as plans to renovate the Friends' 34-year-old office building evolved, "greening" the structure came to be seen as the only way to be true to Quaker principles of peace, simplicity and social equality.
Those Trotskyite nanny-staters in the People's Republic of Kansas are at it again:
Nearly three-quarters of Kansas voters responding to a recent poll said they would favor a state law or local ordinances prohibiting smoking indoors, including in bars and restaurants.

About two-thirds of the respondents -- 64 percent -- said they also would favor increasing the state's 79-cent-a-pack cigarette tax.
Thanks to the miracle of the Intertubes, you can delight your neighbors, entertain your pets, and overawe your squalling brats with the sounds of real and fictional air-raid sirens. Afterwards, you'll probably want to calm down by perusing Selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection. Or The Fulton Street Trade Card Collection

Recommended listening: Locust St., an mp3 blog.

You may also wish to take a whirlwind tour of the globe via Graphic Design from the 1920s and 1930s in Travel Ephemera. Or pay a visit to E. Boyd Smith's Chicken World.

You'll definitely want to check out the gallery of astronomical marvels at BLDGBLOG. And Pruned's feature on Disused Mines as Subterranean Observatories for Supernovas. And this fascinating selection of archival films from Sweden. And, via Things, the Honey Moon Flickr set; and a mindboggling article on the transportation of London's Baltic Exchange to Estonia.

That's it for this week. I'll leave you with a interesting demonstration of ferrofluid.

(Photo at top: "Landsat false-color composite (MSS Bands 4, 5, and 7 in blue, green, and red) of scene 1285-17445, Map 4, 1973, enhanced and color-printed to emphasize compositional differences among alluvial fans in the Mojave Desert around Parker, Arizona.")


ellroon said...

The fundies desire to force abstinence as the one and only birth control method is going down in flames.

As much as they try to deny it, people will have sex for recreational purposes, and babies will not be forced upon couples as punishment for lustful thoughts.

At least other countries such as Brazil and some in Africa understand this as our own US 29 percenters try to steer us back into the dark ages.

And sadly, they said all you would need for lowering blood pressure is one lonely little chocolate kiss...

whig said...

Wait until there's a birth control pill for men. What kind of conniptions will the fundies have then?