Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

This time around, I’d like to focus on the steady erosion of conventional wisdom…at least until I run out of applicable stories.

It’s looking as though the loathsome Richard Pombo (R-CA) - who's always been considered untouchable - could actually lose his seat. Pombo inaugurated his House career with a deranged lie, and has conducted himself more or less like a character out of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest ever since. ‘Til now, this has benefited him in his generally Republican district. But shifting demographics (along with the fact that the stench of Pombo’s corruption is becoming impossible to ignore, and the spread to the general population of Bush Derangement Syndrome) have made him vulnerable. Defenders of Wildlife is working overtime to unseat him (click here to donate or get involved), and his opponent Jerry McNerney could use donations and volunteers too. There are more important races, in pragmatic terms, but this is the one that I take most personally. If you can help in any way, please do.

I’ve argued repeatedly (here, here, and here, just for starters) that Bush’s religiosity is a sham, and that he and his cronies have been playing the fundies for suckers. As I’m sure you know, there’s new evidence that this is indeed the case; the fact that it comes from the former Deputy Director of the Office for Faith-Based Initiatives makes the accusation fairly devastating, and I don’t think it’s going to go over very well at all:

“National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy,’” Kuo writes.
If it's any consolation, I’m sure BushCo would launch far more vituperative attacks on this rather lovely idea from Iceland:
Authorities in the capital Reykjavik will turn off street lights on Thursday evening and people are also being encouraged to sit in their houses in the dark, writer Andri Snaer Magnason said on Wednesday. While the lights are out, an astronomer will describe the night sky over national radio.
This is socialist tyranny, plain and simple. The jury’s still out on whether we’re truly facing a Global Rotation Crisis, but even if we are, free-market solutions are always preferable.

Speaking of which, The Weather Channel – another omphalos of Trotskyite dogmatism - is launching a new broadband channel on climate change:
Their stated goal is to "create a national dialogue around and humanizing the impact of climate change". They call it One Degree in reference to the "one degree of warming that has occurred in the last century and the fact that what seems small – just one degree – can make a big difference in the climate and in people’s lives." In fact, the sub-title on the website is "One degree can change the world".
Given TWC’s credibility and vast viewership, the forecast is cloudy for the denial industry. (Plus, they’re currently reduced to arguing that they shouldn’t be tried and executed for crimes against humanity, which is not the most successful example of framing a debate I’ve ever seen.)

WorldChanging reports on The Canary Project, which is amassing powerful photographic evidence of climate change and environmental degradation. Its images are getting plenty of circulation:
As you might expect, the photographs are appearing in art galleries, but they’re also seeping into all kinds of other public spaces. In Denver, 12-foot visuals of global warming are on the sides of public buses. Podcasts are providing material for public schools, and magazines are publishing photo-essays. Free images are also available for groups like UNESCO, which will feature them on the cover of its journal Globalization and Education for Sustainable Development. Ultimately, The Canary Project will release a book combining essays and images to win over even more people.
It turns out that “lower-cost housing” in suburbs and exurbs is more expensive than people think:
A study of Washington and 27 other metropolitan areas by the Center for Housing Policy found that the costs of one-way commutes of as little as 12 to 15 miles -- roughly the distance between Gaithersburg and Bethesda -- cancel any savings on lower-priced outer-suburban homes.
As David Roberts notes, the really interesting point is made at the end, by Steven Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth:
"A three-car family puts a lot of money into depreciating assets, instead of into mortgages and college educations," he said.
Although elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn on their creators, this one moves slowly enough that the benefits may outweigh the risks:
A solar-powered robot with 20/20 vision, on a search-and-destroy quest for weeds, will soon be moving up and down the crop rows at the experimental fields at the University of Illinois. What's more, this robot has the potential to control weeds while significantly reducing herbicide use.
Of course, there’s always a chance that foreign robots will stream over the border and take jobs from American robots. But such is life. As President Bush has wisely observed, "we live in a global world."

San Antonio is switching to cleaner-burning fuel in big rigs and buses:
When ultra-low-sulfur diesel is used in all trucks and buses, diesel emissions are expected to be reduced as much as 95 percent, the environmental group National Resources Defense Council said.
Treehugger has an interesting post on the Pelamis wave energy converter, which includes a link to some terrific animations. Also from Treehugger, titanium fiber paper:
[T]itanium dioxide nano-fibers…create a paper-like product that can withstand 700 degrees Celsius, making the paper fire resistant. In addition, due to the fun properties of titanium dioxide it is also self-cleaning in UV light, and could act as a re-usable sterile filter.
Speaking of Ti02, BLDG BLOG discusses titanium dioxide tiles that form respiratory oases:
When positioned near pollution sources, the tiles neutralise NOx and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) directly where they are generated. They transform previously inert urban surfaces into active surfaces, re-appropriate polluted spaces for safer pedestrian use, and invert problem spaces – dark, polluted, uninhabitable – to benevolent spaces that benefit communities.
This is an interesting idea:
With no external power requirements or wires whatsoever, you can’t find a simpler or more inexpensive way to illuminate dark walkways around your home or in your garden. Just replace standard bricks or pavers with our completely self-contained Sun Bricks.
Maine is experimenting with porous pavement:
While water puddles up on the other lots and then runs off, it leaks right through this one. Even the contents of a 5-gallon bucket disappear without a trace.
A large section of the Amazon forest has been protected:
Known for its diverse landscape, the 5.7-millon-acre area has more than 1,700 species of animals and plants, reports Conservation International (CI) and the Amapá State Institute for Research. Among these are 430 species of birds, 104 species of amphibians, 124 reptile species and 127 mammal species. (The forest is swarming with bats; of the mammals, 62 are bat species.) A recent expedition brought to light 23 potential new species, including the fish and frog above.
If you’re in the mood to pore over technical papers (it’s good for what ails ya!), I recommend this fascinating article on Air Wells, Dew Ponds, and Fog Fences. I also enjoyed this discussion of participatory map-making.

Via Defense Tech, a strange new material allegedly stops bleeding instantly:
Swab a clear liquid onto a gaping wound and watch the bleeding stop in seconds. An international team of researchers has accomplished just that in animals, using a solution of protein molecules that self-organise on the nanoscale into a biodegradable gel that stops bleeding.
If the material works as well in humans, it could save thousands of lives and make surgery far easier in many cases, surgeons say.
This is pretty amazing:
[A] 14-year-old who suffers from epilepsy, is the first teenager to play a two-dimensional video game, Space Invaders, using only the signals from his brain to make movements.
The goal, of course, is not to make teenagers lazier, but to make controllable artificial limbs.

Now, let’s talk photography. Ceci Est Un Test has complied links to all previous editions of Friday Nudibranch Blogging. It's pretty amazing to see how many there are, and nice to have 'em in one place. I'm grateful!

The Smithsonian Photography Initiative is a huge searchable database of images, which allows you to make your own montages from the collection (click Enter the Frame to access this feature).

Gerhard Richter’s Atlas is similarly dizzying, falling somewhere between Hannah Hoch’s Album, and Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne. Marvelous stuff, but the images could be a wee bit bigger.

Assuming you ever find your way out of those labyrinths, the European Space Agency has beautiful photos and animations of small galaxies merging into a larger galaxy (see photo above). If you prefer to stay in your own backyard, try the Digital Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon. Or you can explore these grain elevators, thanks to the good folks at Pruned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Too busy again this week for hope blogging, which is extremely labor-intensive. Should be getting back to normal very soon, though.

i'll say. noblesse oblige indeed.

i just spent an hour check'n and saving links. thanks.