Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

Inhabitat announces that for a measly $25, you can donate a Lifestraw to a needy household in Mumbai:

Project H will deliver 100 systems this summer as the first step in a bigger examination of local water sanitation issues. With more than a billion people lacking access to safe drinking water and five million people dying of water-related disease every year, here’s an opportunity to make a small but very real difference.
For more details, click here.

When you're done with that, you can help prevent malaria by supplying poor families with mosquito nets, either by donating at the previous link or by playing this online game. (Or both.)

Speaking of malaria, there seems to be some hope of an improved malaria vaccine for children:
Florida State University biologists have discovered an autoimmune-like response in blood drawn from malaria-infected African children that helps to explain why existing DNA-based anti-malaria vaccines have repeatedly failed to protect them.

The groundbreaking study is expected to speed and better inform the development of new treatments and vaccines that effectively target the unique medical needs of malaria’s smallest, most vulnerable victims.
Russia has shut down a weapons-grade nuclear reactor:
Russia said on Monday it had closed a weapons-grade plutonium reactor as part of a deal with the United States to reduce the risk of proliferation from Cold War-era nuclear bomb plants.

The reactor, at a secret Siberian plant founded by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, was turned off on Sunday, 45 years after it was started up to create plutonium for the Soviet weapons programme.
A Chinese ship full of weapons that was headed for Zimbabwe has turned back:
China’s decision to turn the ship around was welcomed by the dock workers, trade unionists, religious leaders, Western diplomats and human rights workers who have been campaigning since last week to block delivery of the weapons to Zimbabwe.

They had said the weaponry could be used to carry out an even more violent crackdown on Zimbabwe’s political opposition, which is allied with the country’s unionized workers.

“This is a great victory for the trade union movement in particular and civil society in general in putting its foot down and saying we will not allow weapons that could be used to kill and maim our fellow workers and Zimbabweans to be transported across South Africa,” said Patrick Craven, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which represents 1.9 million South African workers.
(Hat tip: Karin.)

Brussels Airlines hopes to reduce its fuel costs by flying a little more slowly:
The airline said slowing its planes by about 10km/h would cut its annual fuel bill by 1m euros ($1.6m; £800,000) and add a minute or two to flight times.

The measures will also reduce the airline's emissions of global warming greenhouse gases, a spokesman said.
Clearly, they've been taken over by radicals who won't be satisfied until we're all painting ourselves with woad and gnawing at roots and twigs.

A study finds that transgenic soy crops have a lower yield than coventional crops.
The Independent points to a recent University of Kansas study showing that Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans (designed to withstand copious lashings of Monsanto's own weed killer, Roundup) deliver yields 10 percent lower than conventional beans. The U. of Kansas verdict comes on the heels of a similar one from researchers at the University of Nebraska.
Which means that any day now, we can expect to hear CS Prakash and Roy Innis accuse Monsanto of willfully perpetuating Third World poverty and hunger.

New research suggests that massive die-offs in the Gulf of Mexico could be alleviated by changing agricultural practices:
The assessment team found that the most significant opportunities for nitrogen and phosphorus reduction in the Mississippi Basin are promotion of the production of environmentally sustainable biofuel and other perennial crops, improved infield management of nutrients, construction and restoration of wetlands, tighter nitrogen and phosphorus limits on municipal and industrial sources and improved targeting of riparian buffers.
The House has passed legislation that would help to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes:
Perhaps most importantly to the Great Lakes states, the legislation will force ocean-going vessels coming into the Great Lakes to flush their hulls of ballast water 200 miles outside of the U.S. And beginning in 2012, vessels will be required to have treatment systems to purify ballast water from invasive species.
The Nature Conservancy has taken on the ambitious (to say the least) project of planting one billion trees in Brazil:
The plan proposes to populate 2.5 million acres with a billion trees, which—as stated on the program's website—will become a carbon sink for ten million tons of carbon. The program is focusing on specific areas of the degraded forest, especially ten watersheds.
A federal court has blocked a plan to kill sea lions in order to protect salmon, on the grounds that the harm it would cause is as irreparable as the harm it's intended to prevent:
"The stunning wildlife of the Pacific Northwest deserves protection, but choosing between salmon and sea lions is not the answer," [The Humane Society of the United States] says on its Web site. "A thriving river needs a greater variety of creatures sharing its waters, not less."
Cameroon has established a unique sanctuary for the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla:
The Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary — created by Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni's decree — covers 19.5 sq km in a mountainous region of Cameroon. WCS estimates the area is home to 20 of the world's remaining 300 Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli).

The Bronx Zoo-based group says that the gorillas of Kagwene have been protected from the poaching that otherwise affects apes in the region by the local belief that gorillas are people. The consumption of gorilla meat is therefore taboo.

The EU is contemplating a tax on trucks:
EU countries would be allowed to charge heavy road users for the costs they incur on society, including congestion, air pollution and noise — something prohibited by EU law up till now — according to an early draft of a Commission proposal to revise its 'Eurovignette Directive'.
A Dutch study finds that children raised by lesbian couples are just as well adjusted as children raised by heterosexual couples. As for the parents, they seemed to be happier than their straight counterparts:
The results showed that lesbian biological mothers were more satisfied with their partners as a co-parent than heterosexual mothers were. It was also shown that lesbian mothers were more committed to the task of parenting than straight fathers.
In related news, the host of a popular Christian TV show has come out of the closet:
"I know this will end my career in Christian television, but I must now live my life openly and honestly with everyone," [Azariah] Southworth said in the article...."We all know there are so many other gay people in the Christian industry; they're all just scared," he said. "I was scared, but now I'm no longer afraid."
Iowa Governor Chet Culver has signed a bill that forces insurance companies to cover the cost of HPV vaccine:
Des Moines obstetrician-gynecologist, Linda Railsback, says the new law will make it easier for women to fight off H-P-V. Railsback says "In the future, the burden of the H-P-V disease, which includes genital warts and cervical cancer, and some cancers of the vagina and vulva, will be decreased -- markedly decreased-- by 70 to 80-percent, and in some women, absent.
The Senate has passed legislation that forbids discrimination on the basis of genetic data:
It would allow only patients and their doctors to access data obtained through genetic testing.

Employers, unions and health insurance companies would be forbidden from discrimination via genetic information.
The Ohio legislature has passed a fairly impressive renewable energy bill:
the Ohio Legislature passed a renewable energy standard requiring utilities to provide 12.5 percent of Ohio's electricity from clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2025. This bill has a solar-specific requirement that will result in about 594 MW of solar in the Buckeye State. Not too shabby! Kudos to Environment Ohio and the thousands of other activists that worked hard to make it happen.
An interesting survey claims that Canadians are increasingly likely to blame their own consumerism for environmental problems:
A new survey of environmental attitudes, one of the most extensive undertaken in the country, has revealed a profound shift in public opinion on the causes of environmental problems: People now suggest harm to the planet is being driven by their own demand for consumer goods and wasteful activities, rather than by causes such as company-produced pollution.
Here's hoping this attitude is contagious.

According to Miles Grant, "a study found that while young people could identify a thousand corporate logos, they couldn't identify even a handful of plants and animals in their backyards. Will future generations care about protecting the planet if they can't even pick a starling out of a lineup?" No Child Left Inside aims to do something about the problem:
The Coalition’s focus is passage of the federal No Child Left Inside Act. This legislation would authorize major new funding for states to provide high-quality, environmental instruction. Funds would support outdoor learning activities both at school and in non-formal environmental education centers, teacher training and the creation of state environmental literacy plans.
Against all odds, PZ Myers has reason to be pleased with Texas:
[T]he Institute for Creation Research's application to offer an online master's degree program in creationist bullshit has been rejected. Bravo!
Also via PZ, Yoko Ono is suing the makers of Expelled for using "Imagine" without permission. That's two commandments they've broken so far, by my count.

A few quick links, strictly for entertainment purposes. First off, Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu, which pretty much speaks for itself.

You'll want to pay careful attention to Archaeology of a 1945 Prison Escape Tunnel, Part 1 and Part 2; there'll be a test later. Recommended soundtrack: Roland Olbeter's Electro-Pneumatic Instruments.

The Wrong House, a exhibition on the architecture in Hitchcock's films (via Coudal). A collection of online movies at Who's Who in Victorian Cinema. A heart-gladdening collection of Portraits of Dancers at Luminous Lint, which now has a blog.

Not only that: Unfinished hotels along the Sinai Peninsula at BLDGBLOG, and Will Eisner's artwork for The Preventative Maintenance Monthly at BibliOdyssey.

On a personal note, I'll be moving for the third time in 18 months this weekend, which'll be the final stage of a process I started almost two years ago, and never really expected to live through. Virtually every post I've written in the last six months was slapped together under extreme duress, and I have to apologize again for being even more scattered and abstruse than usual. I'm grateful to everyone who's stuck with me, and I'd like to think that things will improve from here on out. If nothing else, being reunited with my books after 18 long months is bound to put me in a better mood!

Having gotten that bit of administrative trivia out of the way, I'll leave you with the lilting strains of the Howson Phono-Fiddle.

(Illustration at top: "Dreaming Story at Warlugulong" by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, 1976.)


Anonymous said...

Do0d, you have nothing to apologize for. Hopeblogging and nudibranch-sharing through 18 months of dislocation and uncertainty is a major accomplishment. Congratulations and thanks.

What you should be apologizing for is the word verification thing going on down there. It took me three tries to figure out a complete set of letters. And many people consider me to be a sentient being!

four legs good said...

YAY for you guys getting moved and settled.

Enjoy your new home.

Phila said...

Thanks to the both of yez.

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

had you not said so, I for one would never have known from the tenor or the complexity of your posts that you were so afflicted with residential mobility. None has any cause to complain, brudda...

ellroon said...

Three times in 18 months? That usually leads to murder, divorce and madness... not usually in that sequence, but wow! You show great stamina and resilience!

Thank you for the research and goodness you give us every Friday!

res ipsa loquitur said...

The genetic testing bill is great news. I know a fair number of women who should -- but who have been too scared to -- take the test for brc1 and brc2 (the breast cancer gene).

Hope the move goes well.

roger said...

and here i thought your sometimes silence was due to work. moving is an order of magnitude, several actually, harder than work. good luck on resettlement.

and thanks for all the extracurricular work you share with us.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with this final move, and enjoy your new home!

The Kenosha Kid said...

These posts have been "scattered?" Dood, my typical post goes 'wingnut sez sumthin funny. heer is a picture.'

Interrobang said...

People now suggest harm to the planet is being driven by their own demand for consumer goods and wasteful activities, rather than by causes such as company-produced pollution.

Here's hoping this attitude is contagious.

Speaking as a Canadian, I rather hope it's not. That reads to me like the triumph of Frasier Institute environmentalism -- blame everything on individual people to take the emphasis off corporations and systemic problems. Agribusiness, factory hog farms, and industrial water mining are doing more to kill the Great Lakes watershed, for instance, than even the most wasteful water users taken collectively. At least where I live, transit policy sucks, and the urban planning people seem to be of the mindset that sprawl is good. Those are systemic problems, not problems that are likely to be fixed even if everyone decides to put up solar panels and downsize their cars.

I'm really all about people becoming more environmentally conscious. On the other hand, I think businesses should be held to the same, or, dare I say it, more rigourous standards than individual people. Tell the corporations to stop draining our aquifers so they can bottle the product and sell it at grossly inflated prices. Tell the enormous factory farms to figure out something better to do with their animal waste than store it in giant cesspools that leak and contaminate the groundwater with e. coli. Tell the operators of coal-fired power plants that they're helping to cause the greenhouse effect and acid rain and lake die-offs, and that they'd better do something about it now.

I think ordinary people should take responsibility for ordinary people's environmental concerns, but I am definitely concerned about that becoming the priority.

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