Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

I wouldn't want FHB to emphasize feeling good over doing good, so I'll start out this week with a couple of pleas for action.

For a limited time, you can buy an XO-1 laptop for a child in a developing country, and get one free for yourself. The cost is $399, $200 of which is tax-deductible. You'll also get a year of free access to T-Mobile wi-fi. The offer's only good for 11 more days, so get busy!

PZ Myers has a fascinating, frightening post on an infectious form of cancer threatening the Tasmanian Devil. He asks readers to make donations to researchers who are working to save them, which you can do by clicking here. (It shouldn't need to be said, but as PZ points out, understanding this disease will benefit human beings as well.)

Virginia has rejected abstinence-only funds:

"The governor supports abstinence-based education, but the governor wants to see us funding programs that are evidenced-based," said Skinner, who added that Virginia will now offer "more comprehensive" sex education.
A federal judge has ordered anti-abortion zealot John Dunkle to remove threats against abortion providers from his website:
Golden also ordered the government to monitor Dunkle's Web site to ensure he did not post names, addresses or photos of clinic physicians, staff or patients....Jennifer Boulanger, executive director of the Allentown Women's Center and another target of Dunkle's protests, said Golden's ruling was "wonderful" and added that it would improve safety for abortion providers, clinic staff and patients.
Yet another federal court has ruled that the Bush Administration has - steady, now - broken the law:
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today announced its ruling that the Bush government violated the law by ignoring global warming when it set national gas-mileage standards for SUVs and pickup trucks. The court sent the decision back to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a full Environmental Review of the gas-mileage standards.
POGO announces "a victory for transparency in Congress":
Thanks to the diligent efforts of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a provision that would have undermined transparency in government spending will be removed from the final version of the House FY 2008 Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Cited as Section 193 of the appropriations bill, the provision would have prohibited the public as well as congressmen not on the Transportation-HUD appropriations committees from viewing agency budget justifications prior to May 31 of each year.
Coturnix has landed a major scientific paper in his open-access journal PLoS ONE. Revere explains:
This is a Big Deal for paleontology and also a Big Deal for Open Access publishing. The hollow bones of this beast make it a lightweight among dinosaurs, but this publication makes PLoS ONE and Bora heavyweights in Open Access publishing. Bora is justifiably excited and we are excited too. The significance of some events is not appreciated until long afterward, but we think this one speaks for itself.
Research into the chemical vocabulary of cholera bacteria offers hope of treating bacterial diseases:
Bassler's team realized that the cholera must be signaling each other with some unknown chemical when the time was right to stop reproducing and exit the body. But no one before had found it.

"We generically understood that bacteria talk to each other with quorum sensing, but we didn't know the specific chemical words that cholera uses," Bassler said. "Doug (Higgins) led the hard work that was necessary to figure that out."

Higgins isolated the CAI-1 chemical, which occurs naturally in cholera. Then, Megan Pomianek, a graduate student in the laboratory of Martin Semmelhack, a professor of chemistry at Princeton, determined how to make the molecule in the laboratory. Higgins used this chemical essentially to control cholera's behavior in lab tests.
Marketplace has an interesting interview with the head of Interface Carpets:
Interface is nearly halfway toward its goal of having zero environmental impact -- basically, taking nothing from the Earth that isn't renewable, and doing no harm to the biosphere in the process. To get there, Anderson wants to reinvent the way the industry works.

For example: Instead of selling carpets, he wants to lease them to corporate clients. That guarantees Interface a steady stream of recyclable material once the carpets wear out. But it also introduces a revolutionary concept to manufacturing -- corporations taking lifetime responsibility for their products.
Their report on local economies is also worth reading:
McKibben rejects criticism that he's an idealist who just wants to turn back the clock to 19th-century localism. The utopians, he says, are the ones who think our rates of consumption can keep on growing forever.
Both links via Adventus; there's more here.

Treehugger reports that a poor and dangerous neighborhood of Mexico City "is on track to become a prototype for green development":
The community of 5,900 residents is receiving a cash injection of $2 million (20 million pesos) from Venustiano Carranza borough president Julio César Moreno to build gardens in schools and apartment buildings, install solar panels, and recycle wastes.
Also: Structural building blocks made from garbage. A home made from discarded materials from Boston's Big Dig. Lamps made from old irons. Rugs made from old blankets. And - possibly - tires made from orange peels.

Here's some news on hydrogen production, just to keep my hand in:
In certain configurations, nearly all of the hydrogen contained in the molecules of source material converted to useable hydrogen gas, an efficiency that could eventually open the door to bacterial hydrogen production on a larger scale.
There's more at Sietch.

Use of a different type of fish hook is helping to save sea turtles:
Unlike the J-shaped hook that has its point parallel to the shaft, the circular hook points toward the shaft and is also wider, making it more likely that it will lodge in the lip rather than the throat or stomach, which is fatal, the WWF says.
A group of rare birds has been released back into the wild after being rescued from smugglers by Russian authorities:
The falcons were brought in special crates by air from Moscow, then driven into the forest about 70 km (44 miles) outside the regional capital, Barnaul. They were then set free one by one.

"The return of every bird into the wild is a unique process and for us it is also a great joy," said Viktor Plotnikov, director of the Barnaul falcon sanctuary.
Ever considered how many clothes hangers are manufactured and discarded? You should.

A nicely done parody site: The Predatory Lending Association. It's funny 'cause it's true!

Geoff Managh discusses Climate Change Escapism. See also the related - in a certain sense - post on Bannerman's Island, which includes some incredible photos by Shaun O'Boyle, as thus:

Who's Afraid of the Dark? is an amazing collection of "night and night life in photography." The City Night gallery is especially striking.

Botland compiles anonymous photographs "acquired in archives and fleamarkets all over the world." It's small, but definitely worth a look! Have a peek at the Abandoned Photo Museum while you're at it. Or skip directly to this remarkable gallery by Denise Fuson.

(Illustration at top by Tove Jansson, from her illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, 1966. I'll been looking for this book for decades; feel free to send a copy along if you have a spare!)

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