New economy for Africa

Punditry on fuels blended for analysis:

Africa is the continent with the largest sustainable bioenergy potential.

It can produce more bioenergy than all the oil currently consumed world-wide, while providing enough food, fiber and forest products to its growing populations, and without negative impacts on the environment.

From Biopact

Impact on our Oceans

Skytruth trawler sediment trail galleryIs it a plane on fire? No, it’s a trawler deploying a drag net lifting sediment that drifts into the sea.

Skytruth trawler sediment trails galleryIt adds up,
altering temperature, distributing particulates, unsettling toxins….

Skytruth has satellite images and a tour of sediment plumes at Trawling Impacts. The gallery of satellite pictures reveal only the tip of the iceberg because “most trawling happens in waters too deep to detect sediment plumes at the surface”.

The drag nets scour the sea bottom, plowing the seafloor in each coastline of the world’s oceans, leaving a persistent dust along the coastline and within ocean currents.

Skytruth trawler sediment trails and drag net gallery Skytruth trawler sediment trails and drag net plowing galleryFrom the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Dragnet: Bottom Trawling symposium revealed severe damage, the world’s most severe and extensive seafloor disturbances.

“Until recently, the impact was basically hidden from view. But new tools – especially Internet-based image sites, like Google Earth – allow everyone to see for themselves what’s happening. In shallow waters with muddy bottoms, trawlers leave long, persistent trails of sediment in their wake.”

“Overfishing has eliminated 90 percent of the world’s large predatory fishes and is devastating marine ecosystems.”

“What is amazing is the level of damage these types of animals have suffered, after the cod fishery in Canada was closed. We immediately started trawling deeper with no restrictions, and continue to do so.”

“There are ways to catch fish that are less harmful to the world’s vanishing marine life. We need to start protecting the seafloor by using fishing gear, besides bottom trawls, especially in the deep sea. It’s the only thing left.”

“For years marine scientists have been telling the world that fishing has harmed marine biodiversity more than anything else. And it’s clear that trawling causes more damage to marine ecosystems than any other kind of fishing. Now, as the threats of ocean acidification and melting sea ice are adding insult to injury, we have to reduce harm from trawling to have any hope of saving marine ecosystems.”

“Just four percent of Earth’s oceans are still pristine.”

A NOAA biologist says interactions among species, the effects of climate change, and the effects of human impacts such as harvesting are factors in an ecosystem-based fishery management plan. Conventional fishery management practices concentrate on individual species rather than a holistic approach that looks at the bigger picture.

Wired and Science Magazine are reporting about a groundbreaking new map showing human impact on oceans at a global scale. It is the “first comprehensive analysis of human impacts on marine ecosystems” showing that we’ve affected nearly half of the world’s oceans. Coral reefs, seagrass beds, rocky reefs and continental shelves have been particularly hard hit. [tip to Kaila Colbin]

Ocean Map Charts Path of Human Destruction

Rivers of Ocean

8.5 billion gallons per second

Well over half of the planet is water and the use of tides and currents for the production of electricity could be endlessly renewable. The world’s first field of underwater turbines, using currents of the East River, will be in New York City.

I was promoting ‘current’ turbines during the 1980s and 90s with TR International, including an integrated rapid deployable port with Baker Engineering.

There are 1000s of low impact power generation sites.

Will the bottom lift?

In the beginning was the logos and the logos enjoyed the unwashed… that’s a comfortable view of the universe, tho’ it doesn’t reconcile horror or death.

Kevin Kelly is receiving hits for this essay exploring the web’s hive [the unwashed] and whether it will provide adequate substance without intervention from vigorous and inspired leaders. Is our future up from the bottom?

Steering the plate

Putting the base back in baseball, Nonist notices Major League Baseball struggled to clean up the game in other times,

Today the league is having some serious public relations problems wrestling with the use of performance enhancing drugs, in the 1890’s, when the document in question was issued, they were having serious public relations problems of another kind.

Nonist, Swearing at the baseball game

Don’t heat junk polymer

Food safety organizations are warning that plastic food packages used for margarine, soup, takeout containers, trays of pre-packaged meals, and even bread bags, break down and release unhealthy gas and particles when heated more than once.

Many folks re-use packaging in a microwave. That’s not smart.

Summarizing an era

No more needed to say what’s needed:

Banks tend to have very strong controls to prevent people from stealing from the institution, but much weaker controls to prevent people from stealing for the institution.

When the rich steal from the rich, it’s Good Business;
When the rich steal from the rich for the poor, it’s Noblesse Oblige;
When the middle steal from the middle, it’s Corruption;
When the rich and the middle steal from the poor, it’s Fiscal Responsibility;
When the poor steal from the rich and the middle, it’s Crime;
When the poor steal from the poor, it’s Tough Luck.
– BH

Airline air quality poisonous?

Poor transportion air qualityTristan Loraine is a retired airline pilot. After years of research, he’s campaigning to make us aware of poor air quality in commercial aircraft. Though he knows the next generation 787 will provide clean air, current aircraft do not.

His book Toxic Airlines highlights hidden scandal that I believe will one day lead to [story]

Before Soul and Rock Roll

Fun, concise, excellent writing at this blog, The Blog Brothers; stories crossing today and yesterday.

In the beginning the music was formless and void,
and a great emptiness went forth across the airwaves.
All that could be heard therein was Patti Page,
Theresa Brewer and Frankie Laine.

Then God said, “Let there be rhythm, let there be blues!”;
and His spirit went forth across the airwaves

in the form of Chuck Willis, Ray Charles and LaVerne Baker.
And God saw that what he had made was good, very good;
and He began to replace the old with the new.

Thus God had provided man with soul,
and from that day forth, man and his descendants
would groove upon the earth.
Then God rested,
for He had grown weary from all the dancing He had done.

The shock of SoulIt must be difficult for younger people who’ve lived their entire lives in the aftermath of that glorious earthquake to have any sense at all of what it was like living in a world without Soul, an entire universe void of Rock and Roll.

It must seem to them as though it had always existed, but it didn’t. There was a time…

A perilous success

Pondering and prospecting the great wonder of us… etc etc… this guy’s life, a classic Horatio Alger story, “except that he was black”.

Almost no one today knows who he was, but he was a major figure in 19th-century black America, as well as being a critically important person in British Columbia’s first decade.

Summarizing his achievements is a challenge:

  • Abolitionist agitator and a worker on the underground railway in Philadelphia.
  • Shoeshine boy, boot merchant, and newspaper publisher in gold-rush San Francisco.
  • First competitor with the Hudson’s Bay Company in gold-rush Victoria.
  • Builder of B.C.’s first railway, in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
  • Victoria city councillor and acting mayor.
  • Member of the Yale Conference for B.C.’s entry into Canada.
  • America’s first elected black judge, in Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • U.S. Consul in Madagascar in his 70s,
  • and founder of a bank on his return.

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs died rich in 1915, aged 94.

“What? Downhearted? Go do some great thing!”

Put Bush in the bush

Sorry. I’m worried. I’ve not had time to learn to trust Russia. I’ve had too many years learning to distrust Bush.

The BBC quotes Putin. He’s saying other countries were spending far more than Russia on new weapons.

“It is already clear that a new phase in the arms race is unfolding in the world.” but Russia would always respond to the challenges of a new arms race by developing more hi-tech weaponry.

“We have still not seen any real steps towards finding a compromise. In effect, we are forced to retaliate, to take corresponding decisions. Russia has, and always will have, responses to these new challenges.”

Mr Putin said.

He said

, he said.

Military muscle

Referring to Nato’s activities in Central and Eastern Europe, Mr Putin said “there are many discussions on these, but… ” he said.

The gain of girls

MindHacks reports big news:

Clinical psychologist Dan Kindlon has been researching children and adolescents for over 20 years and argues that the psychology of American girls has radically changed in recent years owing to the effect of feminism and increased equality.

Harvard Magazine has an article on what he calls ‘alpha girls’ in his new book – confident girls and young women with high expectations and high self-esteem.

“The psychological demons that used to affect girls and women in this country just don’t affect today’s girls in the same way.”


Learner to Learner

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched telemedicine as a requirement for manned space flight, squeezing a stream of images into radio audio circuits and later for telephone lines.

Telemedicine consultation was used over Intelsat after the devastating 1989 earthquake in Soviet Armenia. In addition to assist scans, technique allows transmission of x-rays, nuclear scans, ultrasonic imagery, thermograms, electrocardiograms or live views of patient. Also allows conferencing and consultation among medical centers, general practitioners, specialists and disease control centers.

Scanning camera & processor by Glen Southworth's Colorado Video Much of the progress at JPL relied on the work of Glen Southworth’s several patents and equipment that he developed at his firm Colorado Video, such as his 1970 camera and scanning processor.

“Paper and pencil are wonderful inventions, watercolors and oil are cheap. But let’s look at it closely – these techniques are millennia old and we’re in an electronic era. Video image creation and manipulation is fast, fascinating, and capable of effects never dreamed of by daVinci or Michelangelo.”

Glen Southworth's scan samples of bird flightGlen Southworth enjoyed birdwatching and turned his cameras toward the sky to chart bird flight activity.

He wrote about his patent,
“I’ve had more fun with this device than anything else that I’ve worked with and I continue to find new ways of looking at the world.Glen Southworth's scan samples of bird flight

“Use a television camera to look at the sky, and watch what’s going on with a TV monitor. We’re no longer restricted to those nice summer days, but can be puttering around the house, or even be at work if you have a window and a view of the sky.”

JPL’s 1984 spinoff with Southworth’s Colorado Video introduced business and industry to teleconferencing, cable TV news, transmission of scientific/engineering data, security, information retrieval, insurance claim adjustment, instructional programs, and remote viewing of advertising layouts, real estate, construction sites or products.

“Why waste time at the airport and rack up travel expenses when you can hold that business meeting over the Internet?” Another pioneer at NASA, Elliot Gold says, “Teleconferencing isn’t just for replacement of travel,” emphasizes Gold, noting that reading books wasn’t replaced by radio, radio wasn’t replaced by TV, TV wasn’t replaced by other video technologies. Teleconferencing, quite simply, he says, “is for holding certain types of meetings that couldn’t be held by any other means.”

I’ve just noticed that Glen Southworth passed away in 2006. Glen has been acknowledged for his efforts, receiving several awards including the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Engineering Award.

In the early 1980’s I worked with Bruce Sullivan, an officer of the pioneering text service called “The Source”, who introduced me to Colorado Video. We pioneered ‘slow scan’ video as “telestrategic industry”, showing workable remote visual connections using unfiltered phone lines and radio. We demonstrated the technology all over California.

During the oil embargo of the 70s, the National Science Foundation predicted that as much as 20 percent of business travel could be displaced by teleconferencing. Video conferencing has since vastly improved and today a web meeting is more than a curiosity. Companies that provide equipment and service for remote conferencing are thriving.

It seems to take forever, but a new infrastructure is emerging, partly to enable IT and Internet transactions and increasingly to improve communications and reduce both costs and the excess use of fossil fuels.

Writing about Green Thinking on his blog, David Tebbut says “I think the bottom line is for everyone to start thinking in terms of input-process-output. (Sound familiar?)

“In a fractally sort of way, this can be applied from macro to micro level.

“From the company looking at what it’s doing right down to an individual, they are all capable of looking at what resources they draw on, how they exploit them and what outputs result, both good and bad. IT can raise its game…

But, to radically reduce costs and alter our environmental impact, we don’t just need to reprogram our computers. We actually need to reprogram our brains.”

The Cruelty of G. W. Bush

There’s much information in this lead sentence:

It took US Army interrogators at Guantánamo Bay five years to reach the conclusion that Adel Hassan Hamad was exactly who he claimed to be: a hospital administrator in Pakistan.

What happened next?

On Dec. 11, 2007, they put him back on a military cargo plane, hooded and handcuffed, and sent him back….

What is the released prisoner saying now?

“We don’t want animosity, we just want to respect America again.

“The American conscience and the American people need to return to the great concepts established by the Founding Fathers, of freedom, democracy, equality, and justice.

“All these values and even the justice system are being shaken, played with.”

Are we teaching cruelty?

Scott Baldauf writing for the Christian Science Monitor points to many former inmates of Guantánamo telling stories of torture and abuse that have become so common as to lose their shock value.

[His] treatment was “inhumane”.

Every unimaginable transgression was committed, including beatings and torture.

“We used to look to America as a model for human rights.”

“But now, after 11th September, US policy has given dictatorships in the third world the right to do what they want. Now they use America as a model, and what happens at Guantánamo is the same as what happens in third world prisons.”

Draw your conclusion

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. It is not just in some of us it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Nelson Mandela.

Kaila Colbin discovers a ‘toon maker on the web.
And wouldn’t you know it?
She’s saying the same thing!

Kaila Colbin, 'Saying the Same Thing'

USA shunned advice

Britain has experienced much of what the United States is going through.

Prince Andrew is saying,

If you are looking at colonialism, if you are looking at operations on an international scale, if you are looking at understanding each other’s culture, understanding how to operate in a military insurgency campaign – we have been through them all.

We’ve won some, lost some, drawn some. The fact is there is quite a lot of experience over here which is valid and should be listened to.

Post-invasion chaos in Iraq could have been avoided if President George W. Bush’s administration had listened more….

In a rare Buckingham Palace interview, the prince described the United States as Britain’s No. 1 ally but conceded that relations were in a trough.

“There are, he added, “occasions when people in the U.K. would wish that those in responsible positions in the U.S. might listen and learn from our experiences.”

Health breaks health care

The UK’s Daily Telegraph points out that most of the health care budget is spent on the healthy.

The obese and smokers use less health care, cost taxpayers less, because, well, they die earlier from less complex disease.

While smokers and the overweight are often criticized for the financial impact of their unhealthy lifestyles, an obese person’s medical bills actually average 10 per cent less overall than those of a person of normal weight.

Smokers require even less treatment, say the researchers.

The reason is that the healthy tend to live longer and so, while they might not have to battle lung cancer, heart disease or diabetes in their fifties, they may need long-term care for illnesses of old age such as Alzheimer’s.

As a result, any “savings” made by them being healthy when young are more than offset by their being ill in old age.

The underlying mechanism is that there is a substitution of inexpensive, lethal diseases towards less lethal, and therefore more costly diseases.”

Among others, one stubborn medical worker cries foul, pointing out the study failed to account for the cost of buildings lost by fire caused by smokers.

The power of emphasis

JP at Confused of Calcutta found a fun twist of language where the meaning of the sentence shifts.

  1. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  2. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  3. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  4. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  5. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  6. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  7. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.

Some Science on Happiness

From the Smithsonian,

Why does it seem we’re hard-wired to want to feel happy, over all the other emotions?

That’s a $64 million question. But I think the answer is something like: Happiness is the gauge the mind uses to know if it’s doing what’s right. When I say what’s right, I mean in the evolutionary sense, not in the moral sense.

Nature could have wired you up with knowing 10,000 rules about how to mate, when to eat, where to seek shelter and safety. Or it could simply have wired you with one prime directive: Be happy.

You’ve got a needle that can go from happy to unhappy, and your job in life is to get it as close to H as possible. As you’re walking through woods, when that needle starts going towards U, for unhappy, turn around, do something else, see if you can get it to go toward H. As it turns out, all the things that push the needle toward H—salt, fat, sugar, sex, warmth, security—are just the things you need to survive. I think of happiness as a kind of fitness-o-meter.

Worth repeating?

…when that needle starts going towards U, for unhappy,
turn around, do something else,
see if you can get it to go toward H.

Navigating the unknown

I was almost blinded by it – this concept of Choice –
that on Earth I could have left this place I had known…
that I could have taken any day and made my life different…chosen another way…
that I could have gone anywhere I wanted to.
And I wondered then, was it the same in Heaven as on Earth?
Was what I had felt was missing in Heaven the wanderlust that came from letting go?

I realized then that what I had been doing by watching Earth was taking the time
to fall in love – in love with the sort of helplessness, not of death, but of being alive –
to feel as you go, groping in corners and opening your arms to light –
and I realize now that all of it, everywhere, is about navigating the unknown.”

“The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold, via Seeds for a Happy Planet