Another short edition, I'm sorry to say, thanks to another hectic week. Regular posting -- or something like it -- should resume on Monday.
The California Supreme Court has denied a request to stay its decision on same-sex marriage:
Wednesday's denial clears the way for gay couples in the nation's most populous state to get married starting June 17, when state officials have said counties must start issuing new gender-neutral marriage licenses.The Center for Biological Diversity has reached a settlement with the US Fish and Wildlife Department:
[T]he agency has agreed to revisit a grossly flawed 2005 decision to protect “critical habitat” for the arroyo toad, a decision tainted with political interference by notorious Bush administration official Julie MacDonald.The US will reportedly protect Arctic seas from commercial fishing:
According to the agreement, a new proposal for critical habitat is due in October 2009 with a final new decision due by October 2010.
President Bush today established a U.S. policy halting the expansion of industrial fishing into the Arctic until we have more information. The policy in part states that "the decline of several commercially valuable fish stocks throughout the world's oceans highlights the need for fishing nations to conserve fish stocks and develop management systems that promote fisheries sustainability," and also states that until international agreement for managing Arctic fishing are in place, "...the United States should support international efforts to halt the expansion of commercial fishing activities in the high seas of the Arctic Ocean."NOAA claims that two species of dolphins may be rebounding after restrictions on the use of purse-seine nets:
"This is the first significant step the U.S. government has taken to protect the Arctic Ocean," said Jim Ayers, Vice President of Oceana.
The numbers of northeastern offshore spotted and eastern spinner dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean are increasing after being severely depleted because of accidental death in the tuna purse-seine fishery between 1960 and 1990, according to biologists from NOAA’s Fisheries Service.The Oregon Zoo has hatched one California condor chick, and lost another.
“These estimates are encouraging because they are consistent with what we would expect to see if these stocks are recovering, now that reported fishery mortality has been dramatically reduced,” said Dr. Lisa Ballance, director of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center protected resources division. “However, we have to be careful not to jump to final conclusions. We need to resolve the uncertainties around these estimates before we can definitively say these stocks are recovering.”
Tuesday, keepers celebrated the arrival of spring's fifth and final hatchling. Wednesday, they mourned the loss of another -- an ailing month-old chick that died during emergency surgery.
Because California condors are critically endangered, each hatch brings the species closer to recovery, and each loss is keenly felt, said Shawn St. Michael, the zoo's condor curator. Only about 300 of the huge, prehistoric looking birds exist today....
The zoo's program, which is off-limits to the public because of the birds' fragile status, has produced 15 eggs since it was established. Four Oregon-hatched condors now fly free -- one near Central California's Pinnacles National Monument and three near northern Arizona's Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
Hat tip: ErinPDX at Eschaton.
Grist reports on solar hybrid lighting:
You take a parabolic concentrator and focus some sunlight, optically split with plastic fiber into visible light and heat. Pipe the visible light through diffusers throughout the building. It saves lighting electricity, of course, but unlike skylights or conventional T8s, it adds almost no heat to the building. In a cooling climate it saves about a third as much in air-conditioning energy as it does in light.Plans are afoot to generate electricity from exhaust.
Researchers are working on a thermoelectric generator that converts the heat from car exhaust fumes into electricity. The module feeds the energy into the car’s electronic systems. This cuts fuel consumption and helps reduce the CO2 emissions from motor vehicles.We'll see, I guess.
AIDG Blog alerts me to an interesting design for a rainwater-cooled house.
The tank cools the house, stores rainwater and is a structural element too.
This sort of cooling where a surface of the structure is at a lower temperature than the ambient air only works in climates where the air is dry.
Seems like an appropriate-tech version of this design should be possible.
Peruvian authorities will reportedly make an effort to protect isolate tribes from the effects of logging:
Authorities from the Madre de Dios region said they are working with NGOs to put in place a monitoring scheme that would keep outsiders from the areas where the indigenous groups live.Here's more info on the Israeli-Palestinian Archaeology Working Group, which I discussed in an earlier edition of FHB:
The local government would also take steps to halt illegal logging.
The agreement remains a theoretical exercise, at least until Israeli and Palestinian political leaders manage to strike a lasting deal. But for now, Dodd, Boytner and other participants sound pleased with the increasingly rare example of a successful Israeli-Palestinian effort toward a common goal.Colorado researchers are studying ancient agricultural techniques in the Four Corners:
Corn may seem like an impossible dryland crop for the Four Corners region. With an annual rainfall of 13 inches and soils full of clay, it's certainly not Iowa. Yet the early Ancestral Puebloans successfully grew enough corn, beans and squash without irrigation in a short growing season to support populations that equaled today's population in Montezuma County.In related news, a new study in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment suggests that big farms can profitably switch to organic practices:
[M]elding organic techniques with ideas from big-farm management helped one grower navigate the jump, the new study says. This success could point the way toward cheaper, more widely available organic produce, and away from environmentally damaging fertilizers and pesticides.BoingBoing discusses an open-source earth block machine:
How did they do it? That�s the answer being sought by a Pueblo Farming Project at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center northwest of Cortez.
The Liberator project aims to make an "open source" compressed earth block machine that can turn out 3-5 blocks per minute for a total cost of $1,000-$1,350. That's enough blocks to build a new house every day, turning dirt into shelter. The project page does a good job of making the case for the efficiency of compressed earth blocks, challenging some of the conventional wisdom on the subject.Oklahoma's governor has rejected a deranged bill that would've required the state attorney general's office, rather than schools, to foot the bill for lawsuits relating to the separation of church and state. More details here.
In conclusion: The astonishing History of Sealand (via Plep). Plenty of bridges. A film of visible magnetic fields (via GrrlScientist). The joys and terrors of Surinam Insect Metamorphosis.
220 Dates for the End of the World!! (They all turned out to be wrong...but don't worry, it'll happen!). A 180-foot poster of the inner Milky Way. A poignant effort to identify forgotten faces. And an equally poignant survey of Movies and Conduct, circa 1933:
The first picture which stands out in my memory is “The Sheik” featuring Rudolph Valentino. I was at the impressionable and romantic age of 12 or 13 when I saw it, and I recall coming home that night and dreaming the entire picture over again; myself as the heroine being carried over the burning sands by an equally burning lover. I could feel myself being kissed in the way the Sheik had kissed the girl. I wanted to see it again, but that was forbidden; so as the next best thing my friend and I enacted the especially romantic scenes out under her mother’s rugs, which made excellent tents even though they were hung over the line for cleaning purposes. She was Rudolph and I the beautiful captive, and we followed as well as we could remember the actions of the actors.Here's a pinboard film to end with. Stick with it.
(Photo at top by Marie Šechtlová, 1963.)