Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging


The Tripoli Six have been released after eight years of wrongful imprisonment, and have returned home. Here’s Revere on the massive, nonpartisan movement to free them:

I don't know all the heroes, but I would like to make special mention of Nature Senior Correspondent Declan Butler who was instrumental in getting Nature, the world's greatest science journal, many scientists and, not least, the science blogosphere actively engaged. I am proud of my colleagues here at Science Blogs and elsewhere who weighed in at just the right moment, becoming the spearhead for a huge reaction from the blogosphere in general, both on the left and the right of the political spectrum. Declan was the spark that set it ablaze.
A federal judge has tossed out a frivolous lawsuit by off-road criminals:
A federal court has denied an attempt by off-road vehicle enthusiasts to reopen a rare, fragile desert stream in Death Valley National Park to extreme vehicle use. The off-roaders’ group had sued the federal government claiming it had a right to use the streambed under a repealed Civil War-era law known as R.S. 2477. District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

“It’s a great day for Surprise Canyon and Death Valley National Park,” said Ted Zukoski, an attorney for Earthjustice, representing six conservation groups involved in the case. “This place is a miracle — a gushing stream running through the desert. We’re pleased the court denied an attempt to turn this marble canyon’s waterfalls into a highway.”
Some background information is in order here. ORVs were previously allowed into the canyon. In order to make it passable, riders hacked down trees, ripped out plants, filled in portions of the river with rocks, and committed sundry other acts of vandalism. A coalition of groups sued the BLM for failing to protect the canyon, and won; the area has since made an amazing recovery. Here's a picture (via Ubehebe).


New PDA software designed by African researchers lets Kalahari Bushmen record animal sightings in order to aid conservation efforts.
Pressing an icon records a sighting or other indications, which is sent wirelessly to a computer server by satellite. Of course, this free software can be used for other purposes than nature conservation. It can be applied around the world to social surveys, organic farming, integrated pest management and disaster relief.
A redevelopment plan in New Jersey has been halted on the grounds that its decision to raze a “blighted” older neighborhood was politically motivated:
In her decision, Judge Simonelli mentioned the close links between the developers and the James administration, adding that large contributions had been made to the former mayor and the Municipal Council, whose approval was needed for the area’s condemnation.
Historic preservation seems to be catching on in Phoenix, too, which is a mindboggling concept on any number of levels. Apparently, some historic buildings are being moved, instead of demolished. I suggest they be sent to the moon.

The LA Times reports on architectural activism in the Mojave Desert:
[R]arely have architectural skills been used to try to change the outcome of a controversy in the way one might use tree-sitting or monkey-wrenching. Now, a small group is doing just that in…an isolated outpost called Eagle Mountain….
It’s a long article, but well worth reading in full.

The North Carolina state House stands revealed as a gaggle of joyless old scrooges:
The state House on Monday voted 108-0 to ban the construction of new waste lagoons on hog farms and set higher standards for new waste disposal systems.

State leaders have been struggling with how to reduce the water and air pollution caused by the factory farms, which produce huge volumes of manure and urine that sit in open-air waste ponds.
Speaking of open-air waste ponds, AIDG Blog has an fascinating article on Weston, MA’s greenhouse-based sewage system:
Sometimes referred to as a “living machine”, the center treats 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of sewage per day and has an upper limit of 7,000 gallons. Waste is treated to secondary or tertiary standards through natural wetland processes, using absolutely no chemicals….

The old waste treatment system cost 11 to 15 cents per gallon of waste treated, compared to the natural system, which costs merely 10 cents per gallon. This reduction in cost per gallon seems to be common after switching to natural systems. In Poughkeepsie, for instance, a newer reed bed operation costs 3 to 5 cents per a gallon, whereas the older mechanical systems cost 7 to 15 cents.
In related news, the Chelsea Flower Show features a garden designed for Mars, or any other planet whose human population must wisely use limited resources.

A new research technique has revealed a talented new microorganism in Yellowstone's hot springs:
Unexpectedly, the new bacterium was discovered to have special light-harvesting antennae known as chlorosomes, which each contain about 250,000 chlorophylls. No member of this phylum nor any aerobic microbe was known to make chlorosomes before this discovery.
Inhabitat offers a deeply erotic account of paint-on solar cells:
The sunlight excites the polymer backing, which in turn causes it to release electrons.
Yes I said yes I will Yes.

CKR sees some positive movement towards arms control, and Revere sees some improvement in pandemic preparation. Small steps, granted, but these are tough critics, so their approval counts double. Another tiny step: PepsiCo will identify Aquafina as tap water on the label.

Unlike a lot of patchouli-drenched socialist bedwetters, I’ve never gotten very excited about the architectural reuse of shipping containers. This article is pretty compelling, though.

In Liberation Hydrology, Geoff Manaugh provides visual aids for exploring a different kind of hope, based on aestheticizing disaster (which is something I've wrestled with before). As Geoff says: "If this is what people think climate change will bring them, then a whole lot of people are probably looking forward to it."

That's exactly right, in my view. Scaring people with disaster on this scale doesn't work, not so much because it breeds apathy as because it tantalizes us with the "negative pleasure" of the Sublime.

But enough about that. You should have a look at Bees, Bees and More Bees, a beautiful Flickr set via Coudal.



And Images from a Galilean Telescope, and the decorated buses of Port-Au-Prince. You might also wish to take a few virtual flights over the Tibetan plains.

Also, BibliOdyssey has compiled plates from Kircher's Musurgia Universalis.



Last, because I'm too lazy to do my own research today, a dizzying nonverbal transcription of Moby-Dick, via Moon River.


(Photo at top from A Gallery of Citric Acid Photomicrographs, by Brian Johnston.)

1 comment:

Karin said...

Glad to hear about the death of the Newark redevopment project. Totally ridiculous because I'm familiar with that area and it's not blighted, so condemning it was just an excuse for eminent domain. Ex-Mayor Sharpe James's idea, but his ass is in jail now.