Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

Thanks to public and governmental opposition, "Divine Strake" - a demented quasi-nuclear test comprising 700 tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil - has been cancelled:

The detonation of conventional explosives had been designed to test the effectiveness of weapons against deep underground targets but critics had expressed concern that dust containing background radiation could be spread into the air.

"I have become convinced that it’s time to look at alternative methods that obviate the need for this type of large-scale test," said James Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
You and me both, pal.

As further evidence that America is becoming a nation of limp-wristed metrosexuals, NASCAR is looking into ethanol. While I'm not in love with the stuff, I agree with Kyle Petty that the proposed switch has a certain amount of cultural significance:
Driver Kyle Petty says NASCAR's marketing horsepower might drive alternative fuels into the mainstream, helping consumers get over the image of hippies tinkering with their 1980s Mercedes to make them run on vegetable oil. "I think once you start seeing alternative fuels show up in places like racing and places where you least expect them, then you don't think about that guy with the Volkswagen van that runs off of whatever," Petty said.
NASCAR is also phasing out the use of leaded fuel this year, which pleases me primarily because it'll be yet another dagger in Steve Milloy's black, shriveled heart. He'll also be happy to know that in a recent poll, 82 percent of American respondents said that "industrial companies should be taxed according to the amount of pollution they produce." And that Minnesota is moving towards passing extended producer responsibility laws. And that the FDA's attempt to promote milk from cloned animals has suffered a serious setback:
The nation's biggest milk company, Dean Foods, said Thursday it will refuse milk from cloned cows.
Apparently, their customers don't want to buy it. Go figure!

This week also brings bad news for Milloy's erstwhile paymasters at Monsanto:
EU member states have for the third time snubbed the European Commission by backing a national ban on genetically modified maize products - in this case Hungary - which Brussels says is against international trade rules.
Canada's Supreme Court has struck down an anti-terror law that allows indefinite detentions based on secret evidence:
The court ruled unanimously that the government had broken Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms by issuing so-called security certificates to imprison people, pending deportation, without giving them a chance to see the government's case.
I've finally discovered why Echidne is so much more cogent and sensible than I am:
Eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills, a University of Nottingham expert has found. A study led by Professor Ian Macdonald found that consumption of a cocoa drink rich in flavanols — a key ingredient of dark chocolate — boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours.
Clearly, I should've eaten that absinthe chocolate myself, instead of mailing it to her.

An innovative Indian company uses Bollywood-style videos to explain the use of low-cost, water-saving drip irrigation systems:
IDEI's products cost around $30 and employ simple components that are easy to use. To make it even easier, IDEI has been running a marketing program to help farmer's learn how to adopt this technology. Their instructional tool is a Bollywood-style film that educates viewers about the benefits of drip irrigation. IDEI workers bring the film from village to village and either project it from the back of a truck...or project it onto the side of a house.
It seems that drowning is one of the leading causes of death in Uganda; despite the Ugandan population's reliance on that country's lakes, very few people have ever learned to swim. Therefore, a charitable organization is taking the sensible and humane step of teaching them:
[T]he program, run by the nonprofit Lake Bunyonyi Development Company, has taught 2,200 Ugandans to swim since 2003. The group, a government-registered charity, also funds programs for HIV/AIDS education, orphan care, agro-forestry and small livestock distribution, as well as offering scholarships for local students.
Speaking of sensible and humane, 46 of 49 nations have called for a ban on cluster bombs.

Grist reports on an interesting new computer server:
British firm Zybert's Z1 GEM server, which among other things is made completely out of recycled (and recyclable) parts, when "always on" runs at 45 watts and on 1 watt when idle. That's about 25 times less than a modern toaster -- 1146 watts -- and almost half the the wattage of a typical light bulb.
The Xoloitzcuintle, a 3,500-year-old Mexican dog breed, has rebounded from near-extinction:
Emotionally fragile, with delicate skin that burns easily and poor teeth that mean they prefer chewing carrots to bones, Xoloitzcuintles had nearly died out by the 1950s, when just a hundred or so were kept by Mexican artists and intellectuals.
Here's a mug shot:

Wild elk have made a similarly impressive comeback in Ontario, over a century after they were wiped out by hunters. And a beaver was recently seen swimming in the Bronx River; they haven't been seen in NYC for the last 200 years.

Coudal alerts me to Art of the Explosion, a terrific site devoted to pyrotechnics. Which reminds me that The Paul R. Dupee Jr. '65
Collection on Fireworks
features some marvelous pyrotechnical graphics, as thus:

And here, you'll find a number of video clips of fireworks from Poland.

Giornale Nuovo has compiled some incredible artwork by Pietro Ciafferi and Gherardo and Giuseppe Poli. Here's a sample:

Things recommends Flickr's Now and Then Pool, which is sure to keep me occupied for days (assuming I ever get done with Los Angeles Mapped.

But the best site I've seen this week - or possibly ever, for that matter - is Agence Eureca, whence I swiped this astonishing illustration:

(Photo at top: "G6 Nebula Magnus, Slender Network Nebula Coming Apart," taken in 1910 by an anonymous photographer at Mount Wilson University.)


juniper pearl said...

i think the absinthe might negate the mind-sharpening qualities of the flavinols. i also think absinthe tastes better on its own than it ever could coupled with chocolate--but i haven't eaten any chocolate today, so i could be confused and incorrect about both of those things.

as ever, i feel compelled to drizzle on your hopeful parade: it's suspected that there is a beaver in the bronx river because beavers are being steadily nudged out of their prior habitats. not so good. on the other hand, though, who would ever have thought that animals could survive in the bronx river? so something good might be at least balancing out the something bad, if not exactly winning out.

Phila said...

as ever, i feel compelled to drizzle on your hopeful parade: it's suspected that there is a beaver in the bronx river because beavers are being steadily nudged out of their prior habitats.

You mentioned that it's pretty remarkable that they're able to survive in the Bronx River; that's exactly right. The river was almost viscous with industrial waste and sewage by 1900. By the early seventies, it had been dumped full of mattresses, old appliances, and garbage. Neighborhod groups have put almost three decades into cleaning it up, and they're still not done. So yeah, the fact that even one beaver has returned to it is positive news, in my opinion.

Then again, I used to live right near the BR, so perhaps it's a more heartening story for me than for other folks. In any case, there's some background info here.

olvlzl said...

Xoloitzcuintl used to be my blog nickname back when I was EPT.

I'm clinging to this post because any reason to hope is a good reason.