Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

An extra-large edition this time around, to make up for last week. You may want to pack a lunch.

A majority of Americans feel Bush isn’t doing enough to protect the environment. No surprise there, of course. But I found this quote somewhat heartening:

Respondent Lisa Brutvan, 42, a real estate consultant from Atlanta who is not registered with any political party, said she voted for Bush because of his stance on terrorism. "I knew in making that decision that I was making a choice against the environment. I figured that for eight years we could survive it," she said. "But I think it's reaching a little bit more of a critical mass.

"At some point you've just got to look at things realistically and realize we're not leaving much of a legacy for our grandchildren if we don't address these issues," she said.
At least one federal judge seems to agree:
A federal judge lashed out at U.S. EPA yesterday for pursuing industry-friendly regulations at the same time it missed statutory deadlines to control toxic air pollution from small industrial plants…. Friedman's opinion includes an order placing EPA on schedule to complete 50 toxic emission regulations.
To give credit where it’s due, the EPA has pleased me greatly by calling for a ban on carbofuran:
The bug-killer, sprayed over corn, soybeans and other vegetables, was the greatest remaining chemical menace to bald eagles, migratory songbirds and other birds since the pesticide DDT was banned in the 1970s, according to the American Bird Conservancy.
In related news, a new bioreactor supposedly eliminates methyl bromide emitted during fumigation (a use which actually wasn’t included in the Montreal Protocol’s phase-out):
The technology harnesses methylotrophic bacteria, which oxidize methyl bromide to get energy. The system is designed to recapture the pesticide from the waste-gas stream created after fumigation. The proof-of-concept, 10-liter bioreactor successfully removed 100% of the methyl bromide from an air stream.
An appealing low-tech refrigerator from Africa comprises two earthen pots and a bit of sand:
Fill the space between the two with moist sand, and you have a most ingenious fridge….The water in the sand naturally migrates towards the outer pot, where it evaporates causing a temperature drop around the inner pot….

“Eggplants, for example, stayed fresh for 27 days instead of three, and tomatoes and peppers lasted for three weeks or more. African spinach, which usually spoils after a day, remained edible after 12 days in the pot-in-pot.”
A Nigerian teacher has set up production facilities; apparently, the system costs a mere forty cents.

In a story echoing my recent discussion of Taiwanese ghost money, Indian conservationists are attempting to change the way in which people celebrate the Ganesh festival, which normally contaminates bodies of water with lead- and cadmium-based paints:
Nature conservationists plan to tell devotees to bring home paper and clay idols of Ganesh during this year's festival rather than those made out of materials dangerous to the environment.
A pediatrician has come up with a remedy for malnourished children in Haiti:
The mixture, known to Haitians as "Medika Mamba," or peanut-butter medicine, is a nutrient-rich mixture of peanuts, sugar, oil, vitamins, minerals and powdered milk. It is distributed in plastic containers for families to feed their children at home and can be stored for several months. Children start to show visible signs of improvement about 1-2 weeks after receiving the peanut-butter mixture, becoming more active and growing new black hair. One course of the six-week treatment, which can be enough to renourish the child, costs under US$100.
A Japanese company wants to use the energy generated by the motion of commuters through ticket gates to power train stations:
”When combined with high-efficiency storage systems, the ticket gate generators can serve as a clean source of supplementary power for the train stations. Busy train stations (and those with large numbers of passengers willing to bounce heavily through the gates) will be able to accumulate a relatively large amount of electricity."
A school in Florida hopes to use a geothermal loop to control temperature:
The proposed said to be more energy efficient than traditional heating and cooling, taking advantage of the constant temperature of groundwater. Some estimates put the cost savings at as much as half of a conventional system.
Leaders in the food industry have vowed not to buy soya grown on illegally cleared rainforest:
In a victory for consumer power, the companies say they will not deal with the four trading giants who dominate production in Brazil unless they can show they are not sourcing soya from areas being farmed illegally.
The new terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport is the first to get LEED certification:
The new technology will save the terminal almost $300,000 in electric bills and 1.7 million gallons of water a year.
And finally, a use of RFID tags I can wholeheartedly support: Attaching them to sponges and surgical instruments will make it more difficult for surgeons to leave these tools in patients’ bodies.

The world is so full of a number of things, and so on. Pruned reports on a new method of making letters appear in water:
“The device, called AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin), consists of 50 water wave generators encircling a cylindrical tank 1.6 meters in diameter and 30 cm deep (about the size of a backyard kiddie pool). The wave generators move up and down in controlled motions to simultaneously produce a number of cylindrical waves that act as pixels. The pixels, which measure 10 cm in diameter and 4 cm in height, are combined to form lines and shapes. AMOEBA is capable of spelling out the entire roman alphabet, as well as some simple kanji characters.

The post continues with a series of onanistic free associations involving Italianate gardens in the Atlantic, and Al-Qaeda attacking Los Angeles with a tsunami in the shape of Versailles (why not Islamic calligraphy, for heaven’s sake? Let’s be realistic!). My tastes are simpler, so I’m imagining Pepsi’s logo shimmering in the swimming-pools at the Summer Olympics.

On the other hand, the possibilities for skating rinks and frozen ponds are very interesting…I imagine one could make a nice bas-relief labyrinth for ice-skaters.

While we’re on the subject of water, have you ever wondered how drizzle sounds underwater? How about earthquakes? It’s all very interesting, but not as interesting as this mystery sound from the equatorial Pacific. Perhaps these brave explorers will discover its source.

Via Coudal, a few pictures of an abandoned city outside Taipei.

Despite (or because of) the hypermodern design, these buildings look far more decrepit and dated than most of the old buildings photographed by M.O. Hammond in the early 20th century.

The Flying Machines of 1909 are dated, too, but in a far more agreeable way.

If nothing else, they’ll soothe your jangled nerves after you’ve toured the Museum of Frogs. Or listened to Scott Smallwood’s cicada recordings. Or learned to play the Silophone.

When you’re done with all this, the Digital Landfilll allows you to dump unwanted files: “All refuse is automatically layered into the Digital Landfill composting system.”


juniper pearl said...

the calligraphy is beautiful, isn't it? i suppose it's a good thing that i don't know how to read it, because if i did a far greater percentage of my body might be covered in it.

do you know how much energy goes into making that big wet S? i'm sorry if you love the idea, but it seems a bit useless to me. not that all art has to be useful, of course, but this particular endeavor strikes me as especially null.

Phila said...

i'm sorry if you love the idea, but it seems a bit useless to me.

No strong opinion either way. I like the look of it, and it's an interesting accomplishment, but I'm not dancing for joy because of it and I don't think anything good'll be done with it.

But then, the stuff at the end of the FHB posts is really just intended to be entertaining/surprising/unusual, rather than heartening.