Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

Scooter Libby has been disbarred for “moral turpitude”:

“When a member of the Bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory,” the District of Columbia Court of Appeals wrote in its opinion, which is posted on its Web site.
Israel has legally recognized a gay couple as the parents of a five-year-old child.
The Shadiv-Shavits are the first gay male couple to go to court seeking joint parenthood through adoption. A family court in Tel Aviv ruled for the Shadiv-Shavits and the government agreed to amend the forms.
The Oklahoma House has narrowly rejected a bill that would've required parental consent for sex education in schools:
Opponents of the bill said the measure would make it more difficult for children to receive sex education in the state, which has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. Oklahoma also has the 12th highest percentage for repeat births to teenage mothers in the country, according to a study conducted by the research organization Child Trends.
In California, a woefully stupid development plan has been withdrawn:
Coyote Valley is safe from premature development for at least another decade.

That sigh of relief you hear is not just from farmland and open space activists but also from existing neighborhoods in San Jose. They would have paid the price while home builders profited from paving over the rural valley. With a surprise announcement Tuesday, developers in the Coyote Housing Group abandoned further financing of consultants and a task force to plan, in essence, a new city the size of Mountain View at San Jose's southern edge.
The USPS will offer free postage for recycling:
Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a nationally recognized company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.
WorldChanging discusses wind-powered desalinization:
This particular combination may or may not prove itself in the field, but it's a great example of what ought to become more and more possible, which is a form of hybrid appropriate technology, combining easily maintained simple tools (like windmills) with select advanced parts (like RO filters) to produce something inexpensive, rugged and useful.
Inhabitat reports on a somewhat more grandiose Korean tidal-power project:
A collaboration between Lunar Energy and Korean Midland Power Co (KOMIPO), and would create a colossal 300-turbine field in the Wando Hoenggan Water Way off the South Korean coast by 2015, providing 300MW of renewable energy, enough to power 200,000 homes!
There's also talk of using osmotic forces to generate energy:
Only up to powering light bulbs so far, "salt power" is a tantalising if distant prospect as high oil prices make alternative energy sources look more economical.

Two tiny projects to mix sea and river water - one by the fjord south of Oslo, the other at a Dutch seaside lake - are due on stream this year and may point to a new source of clean energy in estuaries from the Mississippi to the Yangtze.
Make of that what you will.

A new bird has been discovered in Indonesia:
The new species is called the Togian white-eye, or Zosterops somadikartai…Its nearest relatives have a band of white feathers around their eyes but this energetic little bird, which travels in small groups, is less showy, the researchers said.

Giant sea creatures have been discovered off Antarctica:
In total, the RV Tangaroa voyage collected some 30,000 specimen, hundreds of which may be new to science.

Among the creature "recovered and identified" include 88 fish, 8 squid and 18 octopus species.
And a rare frog has been found in Colombia:
A brilliantly-colored frog has been rediscovered 14 years after its last sighting in a remote mountainous region in Colombia.

The critically endangered Carrikeri Harlequin frog (Atelopus carrikeri), a member of a family of amphibians that has been decimated by the outbreak of a deadly fungal disease, measures about 2 inches (5 cm) in length and lives at an altitude of 13,000 feet (4,000 m).

"By discovering that the endangered frog still exists, we hope it will show how important conservation is," said Luis Alberto Rueda, scientist for the Project Atelopus team who led the expedition.

In related news, a new paper presents evidence that conservation efforts in the Philippines are paying off:
The authors present four examples of successful conservation initiatives for endangered species. The Philippine Cockatoo, considered critically endangered, has seen population growth since various programs have worked together incorporating strategies like education, protection of nests, captive breeding, and research. In 1997 a sanctuary was step up to protect a particular population of the species. The critically endangered Visayan Wrinkled Hornbill is another success story: with the help of The Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project (PESCP) the bird raised 502 successful broods in 2006. The Philippine Crocodile, also considered critically endangered, has benefited from educational programs to change negative perceptions of the animal. Finally, the Philippine Eagle, the national bird and considered one of the world's most endangered, has recently had good news. Research on the bird's population has discovered that there may be more eagles than thought and recent conservation methods have increased protection of its threatened habitat….

Dr. Posa, who is an instructor at the Institute of Biology at the University of the Philippines stated that she believed the paper would draw more attention "to the positive developments and little-known success stories that we can learn from and build upon. To dismiss the country as a lost cause for conservation would merely create a self-fulfilling prophecy that dooms biodiversity where there are still opportunities for effective action."
In Rwanda, meanwhile, conservationists have launched an ambitious reforestation program:
Backers of the Rwanda National Conservation Park say the project will help restore biodiversity and ecosystem services including improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, flooding, and landslides and increasing carbon sequestration. The initiative is expected to generate income for Rwandans through ecotourism, investment opportunity and local employment.
A pygmy hippo has been spotted in Liberia:
The black-and-white image of a pygmy hippopotamus half-facing the camera is the first ever of a pygmy hippopotamus in Liberia. Perhaps even more astonishing EDGE, the organization that accomplished the photo, believes the image to be only the second photographic evidence of the animal in the wild (the first was taken in 2006 in Sierra Leone).

France’s State Council has upheld the government’s ban on GM maize:
France issued decrees banning the use of MON 810 maize seeds in February after a government-appointed committee said it unearthed new evidence of damage GM products could inflict on the environment.

Ecologists and ordinary consumers hailed the ruling, but seedmakers, including MON 810 creator Monsanto, and maize farmers lodged an emergency injunction in an attempt to overturn the ban.
Pruned surveys military gardens:
We wanted to include the gardens tended to by detainees at Camp Iguana in Guantanamo Bay — yes, even those in limbo have gardens; with seeds saved from their meals, they were able to grow small plants like watermelon, peppers, garlic, cantaloupe and even a lemon tree about two inches tall — but unfortunately, there are no photos to be found.
Effect Measure discusses a promising new vaccine-delivery patch for H5N1, with the usual caveats:
The patch is applied to a the subject's skin after it has been lightly abraded with a sandpaper like material. The patch itself has 50 micrograms of some material (not identified in the news reports) and was tested with an egg-based vaccine, but the company says they believe it could be used with other vaccines after suitable testing. They also claim the patch has a 2-year shelf life (and so could be stockpiled) and "treavels" well. These are essential characteristics for practical distribution and use in a crisis.
A black swan that had previously fallen in love with a swan-shaped paddle boat has found a more suitable companion; perhaps there's hope for the rest of us!
Petra met a live swan this winter. Zoo director Joerg Adler says she and her new mate — a white swan — are building a nest together.

Onwards and upwards! AfriGadget has a nice gallery of handmade African toys. And Dark Roasted Blend has an incredible survey of the Armenian landscape:

I was pleased to hear that a lost silent film has been discovered in Korea:
The Korean Film Archive has announced the discovery of a print of the 1934 silent film Crossroads Of Youth, making the film the oldest Korean movie with a still existing print.

The film's original nitrate negative was discovered by the son of a former theater owner, who handed it over to the archive. Eight of the film's nine reels were found to be in at least viewable condition and were sent to a Japanese film lab for restoration.

If that’s the sort of news that brings the roses to your cheeks, you’ll also want to browse the Ross Verlag Movie Star Postcards Checklist, and visit The Bioscope, an early-cinema blog wisely recommended by things.

Apropos of restoration, The Old Machine is a blog dedicated to the discovery and restoration of “American-made, cast-iron vintage woodworking machinery.” currently, you can follow the restoration of a No. 25 Hollow Chisel Mortising Machine from 1920. Lovely, informative, and oddly soothing.

Next up, we have historical photos from New York’s Chinatown and its environs, accompanied by a 1917 cookbook “containing more than one hundred recipes for everyday food prepared in the wholesome Chinese way.”

Also via things, a gorgeous vintage science photoset. It's nearly too nice to talk about.

All this amounts to very little, however, when compared to this animated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Other Gods” from 1924.

(Illustration: "City Ornament" by Andrea Dezsö.)


Anonymous said...

Once again, thank you for taking the time to post these finds.

Always so interesting.

CKR said...

I love those "stealth cams" that caught the pygmy hippo.

In the early nineties, my team used a film version to monitor wildlife at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. (The National Laboratories, because they have kept people out, have tended to become de facto wildlife refuges.)

One photo was a tan and white blur. We finally deciphered a mountain lion nuzzling up to the camera.

I see now that there is a consumer version. I'm thinking of getting one...

Anthony McCarthy said...

A week with FHB is always better. This is one of the best services done by bloggers of any kind, thank you Phila.

Hope said...

Thank you for your great posts :) I started watching this blog because of the nudibranchs - who doesn't love marine invertibrates? - and stayed for the Hope Blogging (not just becuase it's also my first name) and the good, thought-provoking posts. I really appreciate getting to read along.

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