Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

California will recognize gay marriages performed in other states:

Couples legally married in other states before Proposition 8 was approved last November will be considered legally married in California. In addition, couples legally married in other states after the measure was approved will not be considered married in California but will be afforded "the same legal protections available to couples that enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships in other states," Schwarzenegger wrote in his signing message. "In short, this measure honors the will of the People in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states," the governor wrote.
Though you wouldn't necessarily know it from watching the news, evangelicals are increasingly supportive of LGBT equality:
In the most recent national survey done by the Pew Research Center, more Americans than ever recorded (57 percent) support civil unions.

Thirty-nine percent of this support comes from white evangelicals, and even though that’s not a majority, it shows there are definite inroads being made into that community....

In a recent survey during the 2008 presidential election cycle, 58 percent of young white evangelicals supported some form of legal recognition of gay partnerships, whether in the form of civil unions or marriage. Twenty-six percent supported full marriage rights.
A new study suggests that sheltering the homeless saves taxpayers money:
The four-year study followed four homeless people while they lived on the streets and later as they found stable housing. Researchers concluded that taxpayers could save $20,000 a year per person in public services.
California is finally easing restrictions on greywater use:
[T]he new standards allow homeowners to use up to 250 gallons of greywater per day on their landscaping without a permit, if they follow a list of 12 do's and don'ts. Arizona set the national precedent for relaxed greywater rules in 2001, and New Mexico and Texas soon followed suit.
In related news, Los Angeles has approved waterless urinals for use in all buildings.

A new power station could link the nation's electrical grids:
Currently, the US is sub-divided into three electrical grids (East, West, and Texas). This means that electricity produced in one of the grids cannot be transmitted to the other grids. For example, solar power from Arizona cannot reach Oklahoma, wind power from Texas cannot be used in the East, and so on. But this could change if the "Tres Amigas" project for a superstation connecting the three grids in Clovis, New Mexico, goes ahead. This could be a good thing for renewable energy, though problems are also on the horizon....

This would be good for renewable energy because it would increase the number of potential buyers. For example, if the wind is blowing hard in Texas and there is a surplus of wind power, it could be sold to the Eastern grid at a better price than the local market where supply is temporarily outpacing demand.
An Italian firm will use weather satellite data to improve the siting of solar power plants, and monitor their performance:
This information assists to determine the best sites for new PV plants, as well as how much electricity they will produce yearly. This helps to decide precisely how large the plants have to be for a given use, optimising investment and improving solar power economy.

The second development uses Meteosat data to monitor if the solar cells are working properly all the time, by comparing in real-time the actual production of electricity to what can be expected from the amount of available sunshine.
The Daily Climate has an interesting article on a pilot who uses small plane flights to promote environmental awareness:
A sense of scale is central to Gordon's mission, what he has dubbed "conservation flying." For more than 20 years, Gordon has piloted Pipers and Cessnas, single engines and turboprops across the western United States to provide people with a pilot's-eye view of changing landscapes – a view that won't come into focus through the windshield of a pickup truck.

That awareness of scale, over both time and vast distances, is what gives Gordon – and his many passengers – the ability to piece together a startling and disturbing picture. Whether it's clear-cut forests in the Pacific Northwest, coal bed methane development in Wyoming, pine beetle blight across the Western Slope of Colorado, giant open-pit gold mines in Nevada, scars from a decades-long natural gas boom in New Mexico or melting Montana glaciers, his vantage point connects the disparate dots that reveal a tattered Western tapestry.
ORVs will no longer be allowed in the Tellico River watershed:
Conservation groups concerned about water quality in the Tellico River watershed in national forests in North Carolina and Tennessee from a degraded off-road vehicle (ORV) area hailed the final decision announced today by the U.S. Forest Service as a win-win approach to resolving the problem. The agency will close most trails in the Tellico area and invest substantial resources to restore those lands, and convert the remaining ORV trails to forest roads for public access for other types of recreation. ORV use will no longer be allowed anywhere in the area.
Congress has scrapped a plan to build more fencing along the Mexican border:
Congress has stripped a provision from a Department of Homeland Security appropriation bill that would have required 300 more miles of tall fencing along the Mexican border, saying the money needed to build the barrier would be better spent on alternative security measures.
(h/t: Southern Beale.)

It was another bad week for the US Chamber of Commerce:
The much beleaguered U.S. Chamber of Commerce is having another bad PR week after Mother Jones revealed yesterday that they have inflated their membership numbers and that the holding company owned by multi-billionaire Ronald Perelman is thinking of leaving the Chamber because of their policy on climate change action.
A bird that was thought to be extinct has been rediscovered:
Known to science only by two specimens described in 1900, a critically endangered crow has re-emerged on a remote, mountainous Indonesian island thanks in part to a Michigan State University scientist.

The Banggai Crow was believed by many to be extinct until Indonesian biologists finally secured two new specimens on Peleng Island in 2007....A photo of the Banggai Crow debuts this week in volume 14 of the influential Handbook of the Birds of the World.
Ireland will ban GM crops:
The agreement specifies that the Government will "Declare the Republic of Ireland a GM-Free Zone, free from the cultivation of all GM plants". The official text also states "To optimise Ireland's competitive advantage as a GM-Free country, we will introduce a voluntary GM-Free logo for use in all relevant product labeling and advertising, similar to a scheme recently introduced in Germany."
Baltimore's public school system has embraced Meatless Mondays:
The Baltimore City Public School system is about to become the first fully Meatless Monday school system in the U.S. They’re joining a growing international movement of individuals, organizations, communities and cities making the commitment to lower meat consumption and enjoy a plant-based diet on Mondays.

The 80,000 young people BCPS serves will begin each week with a Meatless Monday menu. And that’s not all. The school system has introduced a wide variety of projects to ensure its students eat and learn about healthy, environmentally friendly choices. BCPS has teemed up with local farmers and distributors to provide students fresh, locally raised fruits, vegetables and milk. They’ve also introduced Great Kids Farm, a 33-acre teaching farm, home to chickens, goats and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Educators on the farm teach kids and adults how to produce home-grown fresh food, even in an urban setting. BCPS is also in the process of developing gardens for each of the system’s 200 schools.
Inhabitat discusses Vienna's reuse of 19th-century gasometers:
In 1896 the Viennese authorities decided to invest in large-scale gas and electric utilities, so they constructed what became Europe’s largest gas plant. After nearly a century long run the plant was decommissioned, and left behind were four massive gasometers. These incredible structures were cast off, but a recent revitalization project led by Jean Nouvel, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Manfred Wehdorn, and Wilhelm Holzbauer have transformed these four tanks into spectacular and thriving communities.

Today the gasometers form a unique city center all their own, with a strong sense of community given its abundant housing and diversity of destinations.
This is long overdue:
It took a failed nuclear inspection, two missile trucks crashing, and junior officers literally dozing off with launch codes. But finally, the Air Force has canned Col. Christopher Ayres, the leader of the bumbling 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
So is this:
In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court."

The amendment passed by a 68-30 vote. Jones commented: "It means the world to me. It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it."
And this is pretty amazing:
A breakthrough discovery by scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, may lead to a new treatment for Alzheimer's Disease that actually removes amyloid plaques—considered a hallmark of the disease—from patients' brains. This discovery, published online in The FASEB Journal, is based on the unexpected finding that when the brain's immune cells (microglia) are activated by the interleukin-6 protein (IL-6), they actually remove plaques instead of causing them or making them worse.
Also: This Man (via Coudal). The Virtual Dime Museum. More pictures of icebergs. Art by Josef Lada. Photos by Constantine Manos (via wood s lot). The Museum of British Folklore. A close-up view of the chrysanthemum.

Furthermore: Pygmy hippos. A timely Venn diagram. Kite aerial photography by Matthias Grimm. The winners of the 2009 Small World photomicrography contest. Vintage photographic backdrops. And photos by Vivian Maier (via Lilian Nattel).

In summation: Life on White. Symbolism of the Crinoline. Examples of Japanese threadballs (you'll find many more here). Fifty years of space exploration. Art by Amy Bennett. And spiderweb decorations.

And, naturally, a short film.

(Photo at top: "Stars Over Easter Island" by St├ęphane Guisard.)


The Nazi Gnomes said...

Patience pays off. If only Arnold would drop the faux "fiscal conservative" schtick. The right disowns him anyway. If he had a half a brain, he'd switch parties, find god and embrace liberal/progressive politics and he could run for Mayor of SF.

Anonymous said...

well done, as usual. thanks for the good news!


The Nazi Gnomes said...

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

- Napoleon Bonaparte


I don't know if Obama has read Napoleon, but it wouldn't surprise. He's well read. To do nothing but sit back and watch while the enemy is just fucking up big time seems like the mark of a brilliant strategist and tactician to me. He should coast past two terms without breaking a sweat, or meeting his Waterloo.

They are going to purge Newt, the RNC and the NRCC now.

I could be wrong, but that is my hope. Gotta watch the rest of Rachel.

Phila said...

To do nothing but sit back and watch while the enemy is just fucking up big time seems like the mark of a brilliant strategist and tactician to me.

Here's hoping. Though what interests me is whether the goal is simply to get reelected, or actually make some lasting changes.

If the GOP implodes in the meantime, that's great. But I'm afraid a lot of the structural obstacles to change will still be in effect. If the GOP were reduced to one toothless 97-year-old Klan member, the Dems would still bend over backwards to appease him, IMO.

We'll see, I guess.

charley said...

And photos by Vivian Maier (via Lilian Nattel).

that's just awsome. really awesome.

and of course i didn't read it all, i come for the pictures. but one thing the obama presidency proves to me. this country is run by corporations.

well, that's obvious, but i had hoped obama had a few teeth in him.

who knows, i'm surprised enough he's president.

cereal said...

as usual, the most cheering and intelligently informative thing I read in a week! Thanks.

Speaking of repurposed gas structures, there's also this one in Amsterdam:


The entire gas works has been turned into a combination "cultuur park" and city administration offices...there are several cafes, a disco, a movie theatre, chid care center, art spaces, concert spaces, soccer field, kid's wading pool, waterfall landscaping park area, and so on, including the giant gas tank which is used for art shows and music concerts.

cereal said...

as usual, the most cheering and intelligently informative thing I read in a week! Thanks.

Speaking of repurposed gas structures, there's also this one in Amsterdam:


The entire gas works has been turned into a combination "cultuur park" and city administration offices...there are several cafes, a disco, a movie theatre, chid care center, art spaces, concert spaces, soccer field, kid's wading pool, waterfall landscaping park area, and so on, including the giant gas tank which is used for art shows and music concerts.

Paul Lamb said...