Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

Bush's poll numbers in freefall? I'll drink to that with a tankard of ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, which is using a huge solar array to manufacture its line of microbrews.

Lunar power is on the march, as well. In New York, at least one Gristedes will be partially powered by East River tides, thanks to six underwater turbines. That'd never work in Arizona, unfortunatly, because that state banned all turbines in 1994 on the basis of a misconstrued Bible verse. But that doesn't mean they're completely behind the times. In fact, Republican commissioners have voted to require utilities to switch over to renewable energy:

This could provide support for up to 2,000 MW of solar, which is more, on a per-capita basis, then California's groundbreaking $3.2 billion, 3,000 MW solar initiative passed earlier this year.
Did I mention that they're Republicans? 'Cause they are.

It's been a rough few years for conventional wisdom, all things considered. Triple Pundit reports that microfinancing - which makes small loans to people who are treated like plague-rats by banks and traditional lenders - is becoming an increasingly popular investment choice. One thing it's demonstrating is that the poor, by and large, are more honest and reliable than our titans of industry:
It turns out that poor rural women are better credit risks than many companies, meaning that default rates are low. Accion reports a historical repayment rate of 97 per cent. No Accion or Calvert investors have lost money to date.
While we're on the subject of irresponsibility among the corporate elite, did you know that 1.3 million Americans suffer injury every year because the glossolaliac names of prescription drugs are sometimes too similar to one another? To solve the problem, a software firm has snapped up a program previously thought to be useless:
PPC looked at the problem and then, based on a tip from a professor at the University of Maryland, turned to Dr. Greg Kondrak, a professor in the University of Alberta Department of Computing Science.

"During my PhD research, I wrote a program called ALINE for identifying similar-sounding words in the world's languages. The program incorporates techniques developed in linguistics and bioinformatics," Kondrak said. "At the time some people criticized it because they felt it wouldn't ever have a practical application."
I always enjoy stories about useless things that end up coming in handy. Speaking of which, a wildflower called cuphea has some interesting properties:
The plant's seeds contain novel fatty acids along with lauric acid, which is used as a wetting and foaming agent in soaps, detergents, shampoos, toothpaste and even airplane fuel....

Cuphea could reduce U.S. reliance on imported tropical oils like palm and coconut. It could also cut dependency on some petrochemicals and give American farmers a new crop to rotate with corn.
Last and very definitely least, who among us does not love ephemeral folk art? If ice palaces, butter sculptures, and furniture made out of oranges are too outre for you, you can soothe your fevered brow with these vintage patent drawings of equally ephemeral diners, gas stations, and novelty buildings. Or you could go directly to A Catechism of Familiar Things, neither passing "Go" nor collecting $200, and rejoice in these glad tidings:
Vapor is water, combined with a still greater quantity of caloric,—that is, an imponderable and subtile form of matter, which causes the sensation of heat; and which, driving asunder the particles of the water, renders it aĆ«riform.
If I had my way, this lulling, singsong compendium of the world's knowledge would be set to music of some sort...the Stridulation Sounds of Black Fire Ants in Different Situations, preferably.

No comments: