Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

An independent review of the BBC has found that it pays too much attention to climate denialists:

The BBC is to revamp its science coverage after an independent review highlighted weaknesses and concluded that journalists boosted the apparent controversy of scientific news stories such as climate change, GM crops and the MMR vaccine by giving too much weight to fringe scientific viewpoints….

Commissioned last year to assess impartiality and accuracy in BBC science coverage across television, radio and the internet, the review said the network was at times so determined to be impartial that it put fringe views on a par with well-established fact: a strategy that made some scientific debates appear more controversial than they were.
Michael Bloomberg is donating $50 million to the Siera Club's anti-coal campaign:
Sierra Club's anti-coal campaign is one of the few national environmental initiatives to have substantial success in the last five years, blocking 153 coal plants and counting. And that was done while most of the establishment money and attention were going to the climate-bill effort. The anti-coal movement was bootstrapped and genuinely grassroots.
Congress has confirmed an openly gay federal judge:

The first federal judge to be an openly gay man was confirmed July 18 by a vote of 80 to 13....The vote and approval of Oetken went over with little fanfare – social conservatives like Tom Coburn, John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions, Jon Kyl voted for him.

What if they held a tea party, and no one came?
A Tea Party convention and straw poll scheduled for late September in Kansas has been called off amid sluggish enrollment and allegations of infighting. On the event's website, Freedom Jamboree chair William Temple accused local groups of a "preoccupation with prospering their own organizations at the expense of the 'grassroots' movement as a whole" and said "the spirit intrinsic in 2009 has diminished nationwide, and some lethargy and weariness persists."

Speaking of which, the California Milk Processor Board has pulled an ad campaign that showed hapless men groaning under the yoke of the Premenstrual Woman. At the risk of shocking you, it turns out that the people who were smug and stupid enough to approve this campaign are also too smug and stupid to apologize for it properly:
"Over the past couple of weeks, regrettably, some people found our campaign about milk and PMS to be outrageous and misguided — and we apologize to those we offended," the California Milk Processor Board says on its website. "Others thought it funny and educational. It has opened up a topic that affects women, of course, but also relationships."
Or to put it another way, "it's too bad these humorless bitches couldn't look beyond our little joke about period-driven domestic tyranny, because we were actually making an important point about women being irrational and difficult." (Bonus points to MSNBC for putting "sexist" in quotes on account of Views Differ.)

Anyway. Toyota claims to have created an engine filter that will remove ground-level ozone from the air:
Toyota’s Central Research and Development labs have announced the development of a material that removes 95% of unreacted ozone from the air when used in an ozone filter. The material is called mesoporous two-line ferrihydrite or M2LFh (say that ten times fast) and is porous, which gives it a large inner surface area with numerous iron sites near the surface for absorbing ozone.
The conservative stronghold of Orange County has been crushed under the eco-friendly heel of atheo-Islamic envirosocialism:
Chevron Energy Solutions and the City of Brea today unveiled Orange County's largest municipal solar installation....By using the sun to generate its own power, the city has projected to reduce its electrical utility costs by an average 40 percent and its carbon emissions by 86,000 metric tons; comparable to removing 16,000 cars from the road. During construction, the project also provided more than 25 local jobs and 125 indirect jobs with an estimated $3 million boost to the local economy.
Portland, OR is the latest city to ban plastic bags:
Oregon's largest city has just joined a growing list of municipalities that are fed up with plastic bags -- It has just adopted an ordinance that will ban plastic bags from major grocery stores, as well as some big box retailers. Even better, the ban is slated to go into effect in a mere matter of months
An Ohio Republican who was pushing a restrictive voter ID law will step down:
Ohio state Representative Robert Mecklenborg announced Sunday that he is resigning after news of a drunk driving charge became public. Rep. Mechlenborg, chairman of the House Government and Elections Committee and sponsor of a controversial bill requiring voters to show a valid photo ID to register, was arrested in Indiana last April for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and with an expired driver's license. According to media reports, he was accompanied in his car by a young woman and was found with Viagra in his system.
Researchers have found a large population of northern white-cheeked gibbons in Vietnam:

Scientists from Conservation International made the discovery in Pu Mat National Park, near the Vietnam-Laos border, in an area of remote, dense forest that has been largely isolated from human activity. By recording the gibbons’ loud, territorial ‘songs’, the team were able to confirm a population of 130 groups, or 455 gibbons in total.

Previous work by Conservation International in other parts of north-central Vietnam had found no population of the northern white-cheeked gibbon larger than a dozen groups. The newly discovered population at Pu Mat National Park is therefore all the more important, as it represents over two thirds of the total population of this species in Vietnam and may be the only viable population left in the world.

In related news, conservation efforts have brought the blue iguana from the brink of extinction to...whatever brink the rest of us are teetering on:
With help from local and international NGOs, the effort, dubbed the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, has achieved a rarity in conservation. Within nine years it has raised the population of blue iguanas by twenty times: today 500 wild blue iguanas roam Salina Reserve.
Rupert Murdoch continues to have problems:
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations—currently investigating illegal activity in News Corp.'s American operations—to examine the details of the case, settled in New Jersey courts, between News America Marketing and Floorgraphics, which sold floor advertising in grocery stores (clients included Winn-Dixie and Safeway). Floorgraphics alleged that its rival hacked its computer system as many as 11 times in 2003 and 2004 to gain business.
The Birmingham city council has found a remarkable collection of silent film scores:
All the pieces, British, French and American (roughly a third of each), are uniquely written for cinema use, published by commercially operating music publishers and are nearly all in sets of parts for a band of 7-11 players (a ‘salon orchestra’ as it was known). They all have generic titles (‘Bizarre March’, ‘The Onslaught’, ‘Emotional Waltz’, ‘Desert Monotony’(!)) or numbers, and often suggestions for their use (‘for Eastern pictures’, ‘For Pathetic or Tragic scenes’, ‘Fire or Torture scenes’ etc etc).
Home movies by pigeons. A clockwork city. The return of the repressed. Ditto. Nineteenth-century microscope books. Sixteenth-century pyrotechnics. Images of universal harmony. Photos by Andrew Meredith (via things). Photos by Susan S. Bank. Pure blue animals. And photos by Terence Vincent Powderly.

And now, a word from our sponsor:

(Image at top: "Landscape" by Ralph Blakelock, ca. 1910.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

In California, Jerry Brown signed the FAIR Education Act:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed into law the FAIR Education Act, which requires California public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies curricula. The law is the first of its kind in the country.
In Wisconsin, Democrats defeated six phony primary challengers:

Democratic Wisconsin Senate candidates overwhelmingly defeated their fake rivals Tuesday night in the Democratic primary election....

The Wisconsin Republican Party entered six fake Democratic candidates into the race to force Democratic primary elections in Wisconsin and delay the general election.

The cost of this corporatist charade to taxpayers: About $400,000.

The cleantech sector is doing well:
Sectors like clean energy, green building, and efficient transport employ 2.7 million workers — more than the biosciences and fossil fuel sectors.

And guess what? They pay better than the average job too. Median salaries for cleantech-related jobs are $46,343, or about $7,727 more than the median wages across the broader economy.

Meanwhile, conservatives are promoting inefficient lightbulbs, and attempting "to prohibit websites that teach children about energy efficiency." (And, of course, praying for rain.)

The Murdoch Empire continues to crumble:
With investigations into News Corp. already underway in the U.S. and the U.K, the prime minister of Australia has expressed interest in launching Australia’s own investigation. PM Julia Gillard told the National Press Club today that she is “shocked and disgusted” at allegations of improper information gathering by Murdoch’s British tabloids and predicted a “long debate about media ethics in this country.”
Federal regulators have rejected an application for an idiotic dam in Southern California:
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today dismissed a proposed dam and hydroelectric project in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest that would have severely damaged the environment, wildlife habitat and the area’s rural character. The Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project, or LEAPS, has been beset with problems since its inception: Opposition has been continuous, while financial and regulatory difficulties have also plagued the project.

“This dam project was an ecological and economic catastrophe waiting to happen,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Hopefully today’s decision dismissing the application will be the final nail in its coffin.”

A frog unseen for 87 years has turned up in Borneo:
Scientists are elated after the surprise rediscovery of a wildly-colored frog not seen for 87 years and never before photographed—until now. The Bornean rainbow toad, also known as the Sambas Stream toad (Ansonia latidisca) was rediscovered on Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sarawak by local scientists inspired by a 2010 search for the world's missing amphibians by Conservation International (CI).

Photo © Dr. Indraneil Das.
A Muslim man who was shot and partially blinded by a Texan death-row prisoner is attempting to prevent his attacker's execution:
Rais Bhuiyan opposes the execution. In fact, he is part of a movement for clemency for Stroman because he believes "in order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence." Instead, Bhuiyan is seeking to engage in a victim-offender reconciliation dialogue with Stroman, a right guaranteed to crime victims in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
An appeals court has struck down an absurd "anti-prostitution pledge" that was hampering efforts to fight HIV/AIDS:
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the "anti-prostitution pledge," a part of the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act. The law required nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. funding for HIV/AIDS work to declare — or pledge — that they opposed prostitution. Most alarmingly, the pledge extended to all parts of an organization's work, even parts that didn't use U.S. money.
New research suggests that smaller wind turbines are more efficient than big ones:

The first field results from a Caltech research team led by John Dabiri have been published, and they suggest that Dabiri’s new approach to wind generation may be just what rural communities have been hoping for: the ability to proceed with widespread wind energy development without changing the character of local landscapes and soundscapes.

Neptune's first orbit since its discovery. Historypin. Cartographic octopi. Photos by Jonathan Williams. Dummy portraits (via Coudal). And farm animal portraits:

(Photo at top: "Longmont, Colorado, 1979" by Robert Adams.)