Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

We'll start this week's edition with a brief exchange between Alan Greenspan and Henry Waxman:

Referring to his free-market ideology, Mr. Greenspan added: "I have found a flaw. I don't know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact."

Mr. Waxman pressed the former Fed chair to clarify his words. "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working," Mr. Waxman said.

"Absolutely, precisely," Mr. Greenspan replied. "You know, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well."
Meanwhile, FDR biographer Conrad Black reminds us of a few little details about the New Deal:
"The government hired about 60 per cent of the unemployed in public works and conservation projects that planted a billion trees, saved the whooping crane, modernized rural America, and built such diverse projects as the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, the Montana state capitol, much of the Chicago lakefront, New York's Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge complex, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the aircraft carriers Enterprise and Yorktown.

It also built or renovated 2,500 hospitals, 45,000 schools, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 7,800 bridges, 700,000 miles of roads, and a thousand airfields. And it employed 50,000 teachers, rebuilt the country's entire rural school system, and hired 3,000 writers, musicians, sculptors and painters, including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock."
Granted, a few nonconforming ciphers who refused to praise the mathematically perfect life of the One State were asphyxiated in the Gas Bell Jar, but we can't allow innumerate pity to cloud our judgment. The New Deal seems, on the whole, to have been a worthwhile idea. Perhaps it's worth another shot.

As long as we're puzzling over the pros and cons of civilization, it's worth noting that prosecutions for rape are increasing in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
The United Nations has said the Democratic Republic of Congo has some of the worst sexual violence in the world, according to the New York Times, but some recent efforts are starting to slowly change that.

In the last several months, international groups have poured money into the country to try to bolster Congo’s justice system. Investigators are getting more training, and an American Bar Association clinic has been opened to help rape victims get their cases prosecuted. Rape victims themselves are also speaking out about their experiences in forums that move listeners to tears, the Times said.
One of BushCo's hired goons will resign at the end of January:
Bloch who is under investigation for not only refusing to protect LGBT workers but also for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers in his own office said he will leave at the end of his term rather than stay on until a replacement is found by the next administration. Under federal law Bloch could stay for up to a year during the transition from Bush to the next administration.

Critics have termed Bloch’s tenure as special counsel as "bizarre," and lawmakers repeatedly have demanded he step down.
An extremely rare bird has been found in Indonesia:
Scientists have rediscovered the endangered Wetar Ground-dove (Gallicolumba hoedtii), one of the world's least known birds, 100 years after it was last seen on the remote Indonesian island of Wetar, reports Columbidae Conservation, a UK-based conservation group.

Surveying the rugged, 3600-square-kilometer island for bird life, scientists working for Columbidae Conservation found Wetar Ground-dove to be locally abundant, recording the largest-ever documented gathering of the species of 30-40 birds at a fig tree. The scientists also found the endangered Timor Imperial Pigeon (Ducula cineracea) to be locally abundant. In all, the expedition reported 39 new bird species for the island.

GrrlScientist has more on the recent ornithological discoveries in Indonesia.

In related news, a rare deer has been discovered in Sumatra:
A rare species of deer has been rediscovered in Sumatra 78 years after it was last sighted, reports Fauna & Flora International.

The deer, known as the Sumatran muntjac (Muntiacus montanus), was rescued from a snare during an anti-poaching patrol by the Kerinci-Seblat National Park Tiger Protection Team in Kerinci-Seblat National Park. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) subsequently caught two more of the deer on film using camera traps.
And eBay has banned the sale of ivory products:
"In reviewing this issue, eBay has consulted with a number of organizations, including World Wildlife Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The team concluded that we simply can't ensure that ivory listed for sale on eBay is in compliance with the complex regulations that govern its sale. So, to protect our buyers and sellers, as well as animals in danger of extinction, eBay has decided to institute a global ban on the sale of all types of ivory. This global ban will be effective January 1, 2009."
Turkey has decided not to flood a cave full of hibernating bats:
One cave near newly completed Havran Dam is thought to hold 15,000 to 20,000 bats of eight or nine different species, the second largest colony in Turkey. According to a 2005 paper in the journal Zoology in the Middle East, "the species richness and the colony sizes qualify the site as an Important Mammal Area and would qualify it as a Special Area for Conservation, according to the Habitats Directive of the European Union."
There's talk of creating a global, interdisciplinary science library:
The existing networks for collecting, storing and distributing data in many areas of science are inadequate and not designed to enable the interdisciplinary research that is necessary to meet major global challenges. These networks must be transformed into a new interoperable data system and extended around the world and across all areas of science. The General Assembly of the International Council for Science agreed today to take the first strategic steps to establish such a system.
A new water harvesting device will allegedly pull up to 3.2 gallons of water per day out of the air:
[T]he WaterMill is a small, relatively simple home appliance that draws moisture from the outside air and condenses it into fresh potable water. The WaterMill promises to provide 3.2 gallons of drinking water a day under ideal conditions - enough for a family of six.

While the elegant design of the WaterMill is striking, its real breakthrough seems to be its efficiency. According to Element Four, the WaterMill operates “at a cost of approximately 11 cents per gallon (three cents per liter), the average operating cost of 35 cents a day is a fraction of that of bottled water, which averages around $4.00 per day for the same amount of water.” Not bad!
Inhabitat also looks at a boardwalk that uses kinetic energy from foot traffic to pump water:
Detractors may cite the projected figures: “1 step -> pumping -> 1 liter water”, and “50 visitors/day = 5000 steps = 50000 liters water”, not to mention the fact that in Nam’s drawings, precious, life-saving water seems to be spilling into the desert unimpeded. However, similar kinetic energy prototypes such as MIT’s Crowd Farm demonstrate that the technology is certainly feasible.
Apropos of boardwalks, New Jersey plans to build a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City:
The wind turbines will produce 345 megawatts, enough electricity to power all the single-family homes in Passaic County plus all the single-family homes in Teaneck, Fair Lawn, Paramus, Ridgewood, Mahwah, Bergenfield, Dumont, Englewood and Hackensack.
(h/t: Karin.)

India is experimenting with a solar rickshaw:
India has an estimated eight million cycle-rickshaws. The makeover includes FM radios and powerpoints for charging mobile phones during rides....

The fully-charged solar battery will power the rickshaw for 50 to 70 kilometres (30 to 42 miles). Used batteries can be deposited at a centralised solar-powered charging station and replaced for a nominal fee.
The Sietch Blog links to a film of a solar furnace that can melt steel. (See also the collection of innovative stoves at AIDG Blog.)

A Japanese airport says it will store snow as a coolant for summer months:
An unspecified amount of snow will be collected in winter and stored through the summer under heat-insulating materials (again, unspecified exactly what those materials will be). Tests done last winter show that up to 45% of the collected snow could be stored until September. The snow will be used in the warmer months to chill the liquid in the airport’s cooling system, thereby avoiding energy use which would otherwise emit an estimated 2,100 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
An interesting idea, though as the article notes, the details are a bit too hazy for comfort.

New research suggests that "organic farming may offer Africa the best opportunity to break out of the devastating cycle of poverty and malnutrition parts of the continent have faced in recent decades."
The new report analyzed 114 projects in 24 African countries and found that yields had more than doubled when organic and near-organic practices had been implemented. In East Africa, the use of traditional farming techniques boosted yield by 128 percent.
Rivers and mountains compared: yet another candidate for the best post ever at BibliOdyssey. This also serves as a fine preamble to some recent photos of the Xe Bang Fai River cave in Laos.

X-ray photographs by Nick Veasey (via Coudal). The Atlas of Early Printing. Antique microscope slides by Thomas Southwart.

A prospective translation of Gilgamesh for apes (via Plep). Our simian brethren and cistern may also enjoy these recordings from the National Sound Archives of the Jerusalem National University Library. Or this attic full of cylinders comprising field recordings of sea shanties from the 1920s. Anatomy Acts explains "how we come to know ourselves." And Written in Stone explains how we come to know the geology of Canada.

Nomadic hotels and lighthouses (some of which were undoubtedly frequented by Loose Women in Tights). Speaking of which, The Bioscope reports that footage has been found of a seagoing tram:
George Albert Smith’s Brighton Sea-going Electric Car (1897), discovered this year by the Filmoteca de Catalunya is a mysterious masterpiece in miniature. This was an elevated, sea-going platform, a sort of maritime tram, invented by Magnus Volk, which is seen to traverse the screen from right to left, like some bizarre vision of modernity drifting into view then out again.

Last, here's some animation from 1935.

(Photo at top via Stuck in Customs.)


Anonymous said...

I recall reading that when the Republicans again took power in the 50s they sold many of the oil paintings produced under the Roosevelt program, to be scrapped for their canvas. So their petty, vicious, adherence to disproven ideology proves they are retail idiots as well as know-nothing philistines.

A week without Hope Blogging is just not a full week.

Anthony McCarthy, who might fix his Google identity one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the hat tip!