Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

San Francisco and Oakland are requiring restaurants to stop using styrofoam containers:

[T]he new laws not only ban the foam but also encourage food establishments to reduce their use of all plastic in favor of materials that are biodegradable or can be composted, such as SpudWare, the trademark for cutlery made of potato-starch.
Here's hoping they'll also require restaurants to capture and use waste heat:
Take a peek inside the kitchen of any busy restaurant and you'll quickly realize there's a lot of heat being produced, and wasted. Ovens are constantly on and being opened, grills sizzle with burgers and steaks, pots boil with soups, sauces and pastas, and hot water and steam wash dishes and cutlery. Where does all that heat go? Well, it usually gets sucked up an exhaust stack and released into the air.

Meanwhile, under a separate process, natural gas is typically used to heat up municipal water and, in the winter, the fresh air coming into a restaurant through an intake vent.

"Why buy gas to heat a restaurant when thousands of dollars of that heat is sent up an exhaust stack every month?" says Jeff Martin, president of Martin Air Systems.

The Burlington entrepreneur says there's no reason for such waste – and he's proving it. For the past three years his company has retrofitted a number of restaurants around the GTA with a system that captures otherwise wasted kitchen heat and uses it to pre-heat water and restaurant air.
The batfish has apparently changed its eating habits, which is good news for coral reefs:
Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) who were studying how coral reefs are lost to weed were astonished when, after removing a cage from a particularly weedy bit of reef, the rare batfishes emerged out of the blue and cleaned up most of the weed.
Most people would rather save coral reefs than parasitic flies, but the latter - amazingly enough - have their uses:
A parasitic fly may revolutionize hearing aid technology. Cornell's Chronicle reports how researchers there and elsewhere have found the Ormia ochracea fly has amazingly acute hearing, able to detect the location of a sound within two degrees. Heretofore such acuity was thought possible only in large creatures like humans, whose ears can be placed many centimeters apart, but these flies' entire bodies are smaller than the smallest hearing aids today.
The Coast Guard's plan to shoot millions of rounds of lead ammo into the Great Lakes is dead. (That'll learn 'em to go up against Interrobang.) And Boston is requiring all new large buildings to meet green building standards.

The bushmen of Botswana have won a landmark case against the Botswanan government:
Judges in Botswana ruled two-to-one that the country's government removal of thousands of bush people from their ancestral lands was illegal and unconstitutional. The government moved the bush people to another settlement, which the bush people argue was a "poverty trap"...

The ruling is seen as a wider test of whether governments can legally move people from their tribal and ancestral lands."
Inhabitat reports on FuseProject's XO computer, which is designed for technologically underprivileged children:
The device boasts a slew of streamlined features, from its Wi-Fi antenna “rabbit ears” and energy-efficient LCD to the digital writing tablet and integrated video camera. Networking capabilities allow children to connect to each other, their school, their teacher, and the Web. And if that weren’t enough, the machine runs off of power from a variety of sources- from rechargeable batteries to hand cranks, and eventually solar energy. When closed, the laptop features an integrated handle and is completely protected from dust and dirt, allowing each student to transport their laptop to and from school. Aesthetically, the XO is simple yet kid-friendly, engaging, tactile, and even anthropomorphic.
The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit group "committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource," has launched a new open-access site:
PLoS ONE will accelerate the pace of scientific research because publication is faster and more interactive than ever before. No longer need there be months of delay between submission and publication. Now there is a way to share not only the results of research but also the responses, ideas, and opinions of fellow researchers as well.
And in a rather lovely confluence of religion and reason, synagogues are using Hanukkah as a example of making the most of one's energy resources:
The central tale of the holiday involves a lamp in a liberated temple burning for eight days when the Jews had enough oil for only one day. As a result, Jews light a nine-armed candelabra, often called a hannukiah or menorah. Eight arms represent the days, and the ninth is for a symbolic candle used to light the others....

But synagogues this Hanukkah are celebrating the light-oriented holiday by launching energy audits, giving out CFL bulbs to congregants and chanting a newly written "installation prayer" for the changing of the bulbs.
Flickeur (via Coudal) is an amazing site created by Mario Klingemann, which randomly assembles "films" from images on Flickr.
Flickeur works like a looped magnetic tape where incoming images will merge with older materials and be influenced by the older recordings' magnetic memory. The virtual tape will also play and record forward and backward to create another layer of randomness. This principle will create its own sometimes very suggestive or scary story.
American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850 – 1920 comprises 2,800 magic-lantern slides featuring “views of cities, specific buildings, parks, estates and gardens," including the Winsor McCay-esque view of San Francisco at top. Not sure how I missed this site, but I’ve been making up for lost time all week!

Vilar allows you to search a huge database of of architectural and landscape features, by century, country, and typology. If you’re looking for pictures of 16th-century French archways, this is the site for you! Unless, that is, you're bothered by high-maintenance interface and confusing navigation, in which case you should proceed directly - without passing "Go" or collecting $200 - to this gallery of postcards from the Detroit Publishing Company:

I also recommend Jim Reed's photos of "severe and unusual weather." And, via Things, this gallery of photos from the drowned village of Lago di Vagli.

1 comment:

Phila said...

I love the Hanukkah energy audits and the connecting of them to the holiday and the original story. Just think if the other religions (and non religious rituals, like concerts) that use candles for so many things were to do something similar.

A lot of concerts are doing stuff like that now, I think. But yeah, it'd be very nice to see a higher profile for the positive and responsible side of religion. And I do actually believe that we'll see more of that in 2007.

Hope you and yours had/have happy holidays (or just fun days), Phila.

Thanks, and same to you! Best wishes for 2007, and I hope you'll continue to find it as worthwhile to drop by as I do to have you as a reader.