Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

The big story this week is that Massachusetts has slapped down a bid to end marriage equality. Pandagon compiles the responses of Freepers; some vow not to support Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, and others claim they’ll never set foot in Massachusetts again. One can only hope they really mean it.

Lindsey at Eschaton informs me that Asheville, North Carolina has banned gated communities.

The City Council voted Tuesday to forbid new gated communities, following through on concerns the developments make the city less of a community.

The ban passed by the council on a 5-2 vote applies to future developments, which would no longer be allowed to restrict access to only residents and their guests, done usually with gates or security workers.
It took me a couple of minutes to grasp what an incredible - and healthy - change in thinking this represents...particularly given the thinking of the last seven years.

Also in North Carolina, the state senate has passed a right-to-know bill that would improve residents’ access information about hazardous waste facilities in their neighborhoods.
The bill also closes a loophole that allows hazardous waste storehouses to operate outside of state regulation if they keep waste for less than 10 days.
In Brooklyn, meanwhile, parking spaces for cars are being eliminated to create parking spaces for bicycles. And Toronto is toying with the idea of banning leaf-blowers and gas mowers.

Praising Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’m having a hard time seeing the downside of his ongoing attacks on BushCo’s denialism:
On Monday, he teamed up with Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, a fellow Republican, to chastise the folks on the Hill for "inaction and denial" on climate change in an open letter published in the Washington Post....

"It's bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously," wrote the guvs, "but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public's health and welfare."
John Warner’s bid to renew offshore drilling has failed in the Senate:
Five of Warner's fellow Republicans, all from coastal states, joined 37 Democrats and two independents in opposing the effort.

Opponents warned that the move could have a "domino effect" that could unravel the drilling ban inspired by a devastating 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara.
The coal industry has also suffered a dramatic legal defeat:
Coal operators cannot evade the Clean Water Act by building sediment-treatment ponds just downstream from strip mine valley fills, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers essentially outlawed the common coal industry practice of turning small stream segments downstream from fills into waste treatment systems.
Another federal judge has ruled against the BLM’s industry-friendly grazing rules:
The BLM violated the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in creating the rules, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled.

Winmill's 52-page ruling said the BLM's rule revisions would have loosened restrictions on grazing on millions of acres of public land nationwide, limited the amount of public comment the BLM had to consider and diluted the BLM's authority to sanction ranchers for grazing violations.
And yet another judge has ruled that growing fish in hatcheries isn’t a valid way of meeting the goals of the Endangered Species Act:
His decision flatly rejects the idea that if enough salmon can be produced in hatcheries, there is little need to protect wild stocks. It also strikes down what environmentalists widely viewed as a Bush administration policy to appease building and agriculture interests.
Triple Pundit has a fascinating post on the possibility of kite-powered irrigation:
[I]f you can engineer a kite to pull on a cord with some degree of consistency, then you can use that energy to pump irrigation water - a task that currently accounts for about 7% of worldwide energy use.
Speaking of irrigation, a new sensor could save water by allowing crops to tell farmers when and how much to water them:
The technology includes a tiny sensor that can be clipped to plant leaves charting their thickness, a key measure of water deficiency and accompanying stress, said Research Associate Hans-Dieter Seelig of CU-Boulder's BioServe Space Technology Center. Data from the leaves could be sent wirelessly over the Internet to computers linked to irrigation equipment, ensuring timely watering, cutting down on excessive water and energy use and potentially saving farmers in Colorado millions of dollars per year, he said.
Aerial surveys of the Sudan have revealed that animals thought to have been wiped out during decades of warfare have actually survived in staggering numbers.

“I have never seen wildlife like that, in such numbers, not even when flying over the mass migrations of the Serengeti,” said Fay. “This could represent the biggest migration of large mammals on earth.”

Fay, Elkan and Marjan also report an estimated 8,000 elephants, with concentrations mainly in the Sudd, the largest freshwater wetland in Africa. They also found evidence of even larger numbers of elephants in Boma and in the Jonglei landscape. According to the World Conservation Union’s African elephant database, there were no reliable records of elephants in Sudan.
India is on the verge of introducing air-powered cars:
The Air Car uses compressed air to push its engine's pistons. It is anticipated that approximately 6000 Air Cars will be cruising the streets of India by 2008. If the manufacturers have no surprises up their exhaust pipes the car will be practical and reasonably priced. The CityCat model will clock out at 68 mph with a driving range of 125 miles.

Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn't have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car's built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.
In New York, the incidence of childhood lead poisoning has decreased substantially:
Although childhood lead poisoning remains a serious problem, the number of new cases identified in 2006 marks the lowest level in more than a decade. The number of new cases identified in 2006 – 2,310 among children ages 6 months to 6 years – marks a 13% decline from 2005 and an 88% decline since 1995, when nearly 20,000 children were newly identified with lead poisoning.
WorldChanging reports on Kenya’s Camel Library, “a mobile book-lending service that delivers books to 3,500 villagers and nomads around Garissa.”

They’re not going to save the world, but these staircase drawers are still pretty impressive:

Also via Inhabitat, solar cell phones from China:
The phone’s battery lasts 2.5 times longer than a traditional battery and can be recharged outdoors, indoors, even by candle light! Just one hour of direct sunlight will provide enough juice to power 40 minutes of talk-time.
2 Blowhards discusses Donald Evans’ beautiful handmade stamps for imaginary countries (link via Coudal.)

But as lovely as Evans' work is, it can't compete with the slightly less imaginary world of Manila Carnivals, 1908 - 1939:

At Opacity, you can take a virtual tour of The Fourth County Lunatic Asylum at Whittingham. Very...evocative. That goes double for their tour of the Mesa State Training School, which includes this wonderful picture of an indoor meadow:

The Australian War Memorial has an exhibition of the paintings of Stella Bowen. It’s kind of hit and miss, but still worth a look...even though it doesn’t include my favorite painting of hers:

Also: 1800’s Ephemera. And a small but poignant Flickr set of ephemera by pennynotes. Images from The Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Wild Sanctuary's WildBlog. An interesting paper on Meaningless artificial sound and its application in urban soundscape research. (See also Auditorium Mundi.) A map that shows US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs. The advent of powdered alcohol. MP3s of the Badger Theatre Movie Phone. And some astonishing photos of Iceland (via Dark Roasted Blend).

(Illustration at top: “Maligne Lake, Jasper Park” by Lawren Harris, 1924.)


Tena said...

God your blog is beautiful - it's incredibly rich with wonderful everything, IMO.

Lindsey at Eschaton informs me that Asheville, North Carolina has banned gated communities.

I'm thrilled about Mass, but not surprised. This however, absolutely tickles me pink. I really hate those things. Every time I have to visit one, I wonder if I'm really in America or Brazil. There's nothing wrong with Brazil, except for the fact that there are a handful of wealthy people behind gates and a vast number of other people living in terrible poverty.

This is some of the best news I've read in a year, honest and truly. Thanks!

Phila said...

Thanks, Tena...few people's approval means more to me.

This however, absolutely tickles me pink.

Ditto. As I said in the post, it took me a couple of minutes to realize just how amazing this was. It's something that's never really occurred to me as a realistic possibility, and I've been obsessed with land use and urbanism for decades...

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

This blog is exceptional, ya know, brotha?
Sher ya do...
and this weekly summary of the state of knowledge is invaluable.
never got around to tellin ya before...

Phila said...

Thanks a million, WGG. Most appreciated.

Tena said...

Well I have asked any number of people I've talked to lately if they've ever spent any time here. I've strongly encouraged them to.

I think it's so very much worth anyone's time. It's a shame to me that so often, real quality keeps getting overlooked. This is such real quality work and so lovely and so full of information and fascinating images.

Wish I knew how to do that! LOL