Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Hope Blogging

HP has vowed to end e-waste exports:

A little less than a year ago, Dell announced that it was not going to export e-waste to developing countries - a corporate policy that is only surprising in that every single electronics manufacturer doesn't already have it on the books. While it seems like an obvious part of acting as a responsible company, it's a notion that has yet to make it into more companies' consciousness. However, thankfully HP is stepping up and following Dell's lead. They've just updated their corporate policy to include a ban on sending e-waste from rich nations into poor nations to be dismantled.
California will withdraw its adoption of a program that allows timber companies to earn "carbon credits" by clearcutting forests:
In response to a formal legal letter filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Air Resources Board has proposed to withdraw its adoption of a “Forest Project Protocol” that would have allowed logging companies to earn valuable carbon credits for clearcutting projects and other destructive practices. At its February 25 meeting, the Board will consider reversing its adoption of the protocol pending a legally required review of environmental impacts to forests and the climate.
The timber industry has also lost a legal battle in Alaska:
U.S. District Judge John Bates Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a timber group and an organization of Southeast Alaska civic and business leaders. The Southeast Conference and Alaska Forest Association had challenged a 2008 management plan for the Tongass developed by the Bush administration.

Environmental groups hailed the ruling as a small victory, saying the judge had prevented what they consider a bad forest plan from becoming even worse....

Under legal arguments made by the industry groups, any effort to protect forest land or prevent logging could have been barred, said Tom Waldo, an attorney for Earthjustice, an environmental group that is involved in a separate lawsuit over the Tongass.
The EPA will allegedly strengthen federal stormwater regulations:
The rules may include guidelines for techniques such as rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, green streets and porous pavements, said Connie Bosma, the municipal branch chief in the EPA’s water permits division.

“Whatever we can do to make sure it infiltrates on site instead of flowing across the land and picking up the pollutants,” she said. “Those are the kinds of approaches we would like to encourage.”
The Danish shipping firm Maersk is experimenting with slower ship speeds:
In a global culture dominated by speed, from overnight package delivery to bullet trains to fast-cash withdrawals, the company has seized on a sales pitch that may startle some hard-driving corporate customers: Slow is better.

By halving its top cruising speed over the last two years, Maersk cut fuel consumption on major routes by as much as 30 percent, greatly reducing costs. But the company also achieved an equal cut in the ships’ emissions of greenhouse gases.
The DoD claims that algae-based jet fuel may be cost-competitive with fossil fuels in a matter of months:
"Darpa's research projects have already extracted oil from algal ponds at a cost of $2 per gallon. It is now on track to begin large-scale refining of that oil into jet fuel, at a cost of less than $3 a gallon, according to Barbara McQuiston, special assistant for energy at Darpa. That could turn a promising technology into a ­market-ready one. Researchers have cracked the problem of turning pond scum and seaweed into fuel, but finding a cost-effective method of mass production could be a game-changer.
As long as we're suspending our disbelief, here's more exciting news that may or may not pan out:
[C]hemists at UCLA have developed a new type of synthetic crystal this is capable of trapping [carbon dioxide] 400% more efficiently than similar materials. The crystals were made using a breakthrough technique that “codes” information into their structure much like DNA, allowing researchers to tailor them to soak up carbon dioxide with incredible efficiency.
The EPA will tighten regulations on non-automotive internal combustion engines:

EPA estimates that there are more than 900,000 of these engines that generate electricity and power equipment at industrial, agricultural and other facilities. Industrial facilities use these engines to generate electricity for compressors and pumps as well as grind wood and crush stone. They also are used in emergencies to produce electricity to pump water for flood and fire control....

Operators of non-emergency engines will be required to add on additional control devices to reduce these air emissions by as much as 70%. Selected engines will also have to be of a certain horsepower and age.

In Colorado, the ski industry is fighting Republican attempts to prevent the EPA from regulating CO2:
“It's interesting to me that Senator Murkowski is leading this charge, because Alaska is pretty much Ground Zero for climate change,” said Aspen Skiing Company's Auden Schendler....

Aspen Skiing Company is particularly irked by Murkowski's efforts since the company took part in the fight to allow the EPA to play a role in limiting greenhouse gas emissions in the first place.
The New Hampshire House has rejected a fetal personhood bill.

The House voted 219-122 against the bill, which opponents called an attempt to define an unborn child in statute in an attempt to suppress abortion rights.

"This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and an assault on reproductive freedom," said state Rep. Beth Rodd, D-Bradford, who argued that the bill would establish conception as the legal definition of life in New Hampshire.

Virginia will offer pro-choice license plates, the fees from which will go to Planned Parenthood despite a conservative attempt to divert the money elsewhere:
After we were thrilled to announce the sale of Planned Parenthood of Virginia's "Choose Choice" license plates, the state House decided that although the plate was introduced by the organization, none of the funds made from the plates' sales should actually go to them. This is despite the fact that the funds from "Choose Life" license plates -- already available in the state -- currently support the anti-choice organization that introduced them, Heartbeat International.

The good news is that the Virginia Senate struck down the Senate version of the House amendment yesterday, and voted to allow the license plates with the money going to Planned Parenthood.
Also in Virginia, a senate panel has rejected a bill that would've made more criminals eligible for the death penalty:
In a time when death sentences are at an all-time low since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, attributable to high-profile death row exonerations and the expensive, drawn-out appeals process of death penalty cases, some Virginia legislators are actually trying to find ways to execute more people.

SB7 would have redefined what's known as the "triggerman rule," which holds that only the person who actually committed the murder would be eligible for execution. This bill would have allowed for a death sentence for someone who didn't commit murder.

San Francisco may convert parking spaces to public space:
A new plan calls for transforming part of Columbus Avenue, the heart of North Beach's vibrant commercial corridor, where street parking already is scarce and alfresco dining is in demand.

If deemed a success, the parking space conversion program would be expanded to other neighborhoods.

The city already is testing road closures in the Castro and the Mission to create what amounts to asphalt miniparks in spaces once dominated by cars and trucks.
New York is turning parking meters into bike racks:
[T]the city recently announced plans to massacre and recycle 225 parking meters and turn them into circular bike racks! This news comes in the midst of NYC’s plans to increase bike commuting three-fold by 2020. New Yorkers across the five boroughs would tell you it’s rather hard to park your bike in the city, so the new racks are sure to encourage cycling.
And Seoul has turned a freeway into a river:
Long ago in Seoul, South Korea city planners paved right over a natural stream to put in a road. It stayed that way for decades, becoming a freeway and adding to the traffic congestion in the burgeoning metropolis. But...that recently, city officials decided to return the road to its natural roots.
Over 100 countries have signed a conservation agreement for endangered sharks:
The sharks are to benefit from better international protection by fishing nations by reduction of illegal fishing and trade through the enforcement of existing laws.
A Sumatran rhino living in a sanctuary is pregnant:
Ratu's pregnancy holds special significance for a number of reasons. It is the first pregnancy at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary; it will be both Ratu's and Andalas' first calf; it is also the first pregnancy in captivity since Andalas' mother Emi—the only Sumatran rhino to successfully give birth in captivity for 112 years—passed away last fall.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio seems to be having more legal problems:

A federal judge has imposed sanctions on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio must answer questions regarding an immigration file he kept.

U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow's order, released Friday, also calls on the Sheriff's Office to try to recover e-mails that were deleted and to swear under oath to steps it took to gather the records.

This seems to me like a good idea:
Under a pilot program starting in the 2011-2012 school year, 10 to 20 high schools in each of eight states (Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) will allow sophomores ready to take college courses to graduate and move onto local community colleges.

The idea comes from the National Center on Education and the Economy, which proposed in a 2006 report the introduction of a battery of board exams covering English, history, math, and science, which, if passed by a student at the end of the 10th grade, would allow them to leave high school. The point: Cutting down on the number of students not ready for college work. Says that NCEE: "Today, nearly half of the students in community colleges take one or more remedial courses and many are never able to complete developmental courses and move on to credit-level courses to complete their college degree."
A new process may keep vaccines viable at tropical temperatures:

The team showed it was possible to store two different virus-based vaccines on sugar-stabilised membranes for 4 months at 45°C without any degradation. The vaccines could be kept for a year and more at 37°C with only tiny losses in the amount of viral vaccine re-obtained from the membrane. When required the membrane is then attached to a conventional syringe and flushed with liquid, with the re-dissolved product quickly and simply injected.

Skeptical Science has created an iPhone app:

The app lets you use an iPhone or iPod to view the entire list of skeptic arguments as well as (more importantly) what the science says on each argument....

A novel inclusion is a feature that lets you report when you encounter a skeptic argument. By clicking on the red ear icon...the iPhone adds another hit to that particular skeptic argument.

This is pretty interesting:
New research in the American Naturalist shows that crickets can warn their unborn babies about potential predator threats.

Researchers Jonathan Storm of the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg and Steven Lima of Indiana State University placed pregnant crickets into enclosures containing a wolf spider. The spiders' fangs were covered with wax so the spiders could stalk the crickets, but couldn't kill them. After the crickets laid their eggs, Storm and Lima then compared the behavior of those offspring to offspring whose mothers hadn't been exposed to spiders. The differences were dramatic.

When placed into a terrarium with a hungry wolf spider, the crickets born of spider-exposed mothers were more likely to seek shelter and stay there. They stayed hidden 113 percent longer—and as a result had higher survival rates—than offspring from mothers that hadn't been exposed to spiders.
Also: A virtual tour of the California coastline. A virtual journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway. A virtual representation of the Marianas Trench. And a virtual survey of eighteenth-century color samples.

Public Collectors, "a place for small things and for fragments of much larger things." Moth engravings and musical geography. Photos from the Ukraine by Arlie Aplin. Lots of snow. Reflections on the glass delusion in Europe, 1440-1680 (via wood s lot). Popcorn clouds and The Silver Lining. And photos of Cristatella mucedo statoblasts.

Wooden Churches in the Russian North (via Coudal, IIRC.) WWII ration cards. Arcade Expressionism. An online service that makes your URL more disturbing. (Bouphonia's URL is now Please make a note of it.) A close-up view of the Japanese toad-lily. Photos by Benedikt Haack. And the Flickr vintage typography pool (via HypeForType).

Here's a movie, too.

Part II is here.

(Photo at top: an aerial view of California City, CA, via BLDGBLOG.)


Anonymous said...

That's awesome about the road to river re-conversion. There used to be so many creeks in Toronto that have been paved over. But I can't see them being dug up anytime soon.

Karin said...

that science skeptic iPhone app seems like it would be awfully handy

Phila said...

that science skeptic iPhone app seems like it would be awfully handy

The thing I really like about it is the ability to note new denialist arguments. If it gets popular enough, it seems like it might be possible to see new claims emerge in semi-real time, which could be very interesting.

chris said...

Superb as always.

I'm amused that Maersk is "experimenting" with lower speeds for their cargo ships. Slow down, save fuel! Whocoodanode?
At what fuel price do they go back to sail and oars?

PS: This is good news.

Rmj said...

What on earth has Hope done to deserve blogging from you? I rather doubt that you'd understand much of what Hope does with those feathers, unless you're familiar with literary metaphor yourself at a practitioner level. Are you? Or are you just flinging words?

And if you could point to me to one of Hope's famous "flights" that would also be cool, because in my experience Hope is both featherless and flightless, and is refreshingly free of both a website and a tantrum (unlike this one, which not only flings the hope of Hope, but questions whether mankind [sic]actually deserves hope! And the answer isn't quite "maybe!")

--Author unknown

Anonymous said...

Well, that just makes good sense.

I love, love, love the 18th Century color survey.

* In the 17th century, the word pink was used to describe a shade rather than a color and often meant a greenish or yellowish color.

Code Greenish or Yellowish!


Phila said...

Or are you just flinging words?

I prefer to think of myself as secreting them.

but questions whether mankind [sic]actually deserves hope! And the answer isn't quite "maybe!")

I'm also trying to decide whether the human spirit deserves peace. I'll get back to you on that just as soon as I work it out on my abacus.