I've just finished my first "science project" in Guatemala: prototyping a treadle pump with a team of engineering students. We have been working with the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group here in Xela. You should check them out, they have lots of cool projects, technologies, and internships, if that's your thing.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Foreign Policy Passport recently wrote about the United States' updated efforts to combat pirates. Some of them, such as using unmanned aircraft to monitor the vast expanses of international waters, sound pretty cool.
Navy Lt. Nate Christensen:
I can confirm that UAVs are being used aboard U.S. Navy ships to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. They bring the ability to stay airborne for long periods and cover hundreds of square miles of ocean during the course of one mission.
by Japanese whalers against environmentalists).
What's really fascinating about these new tactics is that the Navy is beginning to arrest pirates and hold them aboard their ships:
The suspected pirates were apprehended and brought on board Vella Gulf, where they were processed and are being held until they are transfered to a temporary holding facility on board the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE-1). They will remain aboard Lewis and Clark until information and evidence is assembled and evaluated and a decision is made regarding their further transfer.Foreign Policy's Derek Reveron writes that international law is unclear on pirates. For my part, just looking at the text of the Navy press release, I can't help but feel that this seems unpleasantly similar to the nature of detention at Guantanamo. There's no definite way to try pirates, whose crimes occur in international waters and outside of any real jurisdiction, so it remains unclear where any "further transfer" would send these men.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Here's a few more.
10 ml fresh lime juice
10 ml fresh lemon juice
10 ml fresh grapefruit juice
50 ml fresh orange juice
15 ml passion fruit syrup
1 tsp. grenadine
30 ml BOLS Red Orange liqueur
20 ml white rum
20 ml gold rum
20 ml dark rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
15 ml aged damerara rum
Shake all ingredients (except damerara rum) in ice-filled shaker. Strain in to zombie glass (or hurricane) with crushed ice. Float damerara rum. Garnish with exotic fruit.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I'd just like to start off by saying, thanks for having me, G.A.P.! I haven't seen a literary/blogging circle this scintillating since the "Lost Generation" back in '26 on the streets of the Left Bank.
Now, I'd really like for us to get started on the right foot. (Or the left; really, I care about all people.) So:
FREE PANCAKES are available today until 10PM at your local IHOP. Just like those Christians back in the olden times, the chefs at IHOP will be using their egg, flour, and butter supplies before they fast for lent. Or we would assume so, if they are God fearing Christian cooks. In any case (and no judgement here, I can't remember the last time I went a day without a pancake battered pork cutlet) the International (has anyone ever established if this is true?) House of Pancakes will be serving a free short stack (3 flapjacks, folks!) to every customer. All they ask in return is any donation to The Children's Miracle Network.
All right, that's a blatant misrepresentation and extremely insulting. I apologize. However, given the state of the Western news corps, the quality of information we get about Africa is almost uniformly sub par. Thus the average American's knowledge of Africa is decidedly lacking.
Disappointingly, Africa continues to be portrayed as a dark continent in many forms of American media. Even beloved NPR has unconsciously regressed into the dismal, Conradian take on the continent that birthed humanity. Exhibit B: this trailer for the imminent XBox 360 release, Resident Evil 5. For my part, a cursory viewing elicited an initial sense of subconscious unease and then a dawning realization that we have not come so far as we might have hoped, our current president notwithstanding. So as not to color your impressions of the promotional video, I won't comment on it further, but after watching it for yourself, check out some other reactions.
To begin to remedy this situation, here is a list of 100 blogs that deal with all things Africa. I do not profess any sort of expertise, but I am trying to expand my knowledge as much as I can and this list is helpful.
I recently had the pleasure of taking a course on the Constitution of South Africa, taught by the chairman of that country's Human Rights Commission, Karthy Govender. Comparative constitutional study is fascinating enough by itself, but South Africa's Constitution is pretty remarkable: their constitutional democracy is less than 20 years old, but already they've outlawed the death penalty and categorically protected gay marriage, among other things. Their Constitution is also long. It's about 100 pages (compared to the 30 pages or so of American Constitution).
I recommend keeping an eye on the imminent presidential elections in South Africa. The dominant political party, the African National Congress, has recently split. Nelson Mandela has sided with the core of the ANC, rather than its offshoot, the Congress of the People. There is some anxiety given last year's violence in Kenya, but by all accounts the South African elections should be both successful, peaceful, and illustrative of the success of a young constitutional democracy.
For some inspirational viewing, check out this archived BBC video from Nelson Mandela's release in 1990, originally posted on the wonderful blog, Africa is a Country.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Guatemala is great. The people are friendly and and the beers are large (1L). Today they let me drive a pickup or "un pickup" in the local Spanish. I almost killed everybody riding in the bed. It was wonderful.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
As mentioned in the past, Grown Ass Person, Ben Connor Barrie is heading to Guatemala for a spell to do some kind of science project or something. In the meantime, the blog will be graced with the literary stylings of guest blogger, Nora Hickey.
So take heed, children, and reflect.
We all have heard that the economic stimulus package won't immediately work wonders. We all have heard that the economy of Michigan never really recovered during the last decade. We all have heard the Big Three aren't so big any more.
Dear Readers, we dare say it is past time that we took to the streets -- for a tour of the city. A visit can be of nice value for the wallet and Detroit's distress. A few suggestions for scheduling follow.
- Make a mess of a Coney Island dinner at Lafayette Coney Island.
- Then indulge your inner artist at the recently renovated and freshly interactive Detroit Institute of Arts. Wonder around, make a workshop kite or send the (grown-up) kid to draw in the galleries until 10pm when the Museum's "Friday Night Live!" program ends.
- Continue to contemplate those masterpieces as you slide into a booth or stool at the Prohibition-themed D'Mongo's Speakeasy that's only open on Fridays. Listen to locals talk old garage bands and the interim mayoral race over a Kid Rock or Ghettoblaster beer by Motor City Brewing Company.
- Start with the best of Detroit's bread at Avalon Bakery, a hip-leaning joint in the historic Cass Corridor where organic loaves bear names like Corktown Cinnamon Raisin, honoring the old Irish 'hood nearby.
- Feed your book monster at the real John K. King Used and Rare Books on Lafayette.
- Get into second-gear by visiting the Russell Industrial Center, where metal is innovatively sculpted and glass is blown ever so artfully.
- Third gear and fuel: tour the country's largest historic public market district, Eastern Market. Note the grinning pig heads, sample the Michigan cider, smile when that old farmer yells at you to, and hit the general stores Rocky's or Hirt's for further friendly and diverse bustle. At the market pick up fresh fruit and Russell Street Deli soup and sandwiches.
- Picnic and fly kites at Belle Isle's Cass Gilbert/James Scott Memorial Fountain. Also: look for new beavers in the Detroit River and wave your lower peninsula hand to Canada.
- Near Belle Isle, on Jefferson: Peek in at the Arts and Crafts-era Pewabic Pottery founded by Horace Caulkins and partner Mary Chase Stratton Perry, who also haunts the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
- Driving Northwest, check out the former house of the Ossian Sweet family, unsung African American heroes in a trial and tragedy pivotal to the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
- A nap and tea at your host's home or your lovely bedroom at The Inn on Ferry Street will refresh you to drive off to Dearborn, host to both the Ford Rouge Plant and a very large Arab and Arab American population (see Census for lack of data). What to do? Tour the Plant, of course, and wander the world's first museum dedicated to Arab American culture. That means: see the reinvented Ford Rouge Plant's "living roof" that spans 10.4 acres and then march from the roof or assembly line to the Museum's Utopian Visions exhibit. Utopian Visions features work by women of Arab descent, and runs through March 29.
- Stay in the area and make a meal out of بابا غنوج or baba ghanoush with proper pita bread, which is much more pleasant to stomach than the reality of Kwame Kilpatrick's employment -- no matter how much money he could donate to the city.
- Communal organized religion may not be your thing, but a morning religious institution visit can be architecturally or historically intriguing at minimal or zero cost. Second Baptist Church served as an Underground Railroad stop. The smaller St. Ambrose of Grosse Pointe Park was recently the church of Gran Torino. Outside, note the absence of visible Hmongs and Hmong Americans. Hmongs and Hmong Americans are not a comparatively sizable population in Detroit or Grosse Pointe.
- Drive the surface streets some more in the daylight for views of vast urban meadows and CSAs, Heidelberg circles and abandoned apartments, houses and schools. The post-industrial grit may just romance you like the many Jackson Five melodies that you will soon find yourself unable to stop singing and skipping along to after visiting the Motown Museum. This Museum is a homey little place -- indeed, a house -- where Motown Records was born and lived until moving to Los Angeles.
- Speaking of which, it's Sunday afternoon already, and nearly time for your departure from Detroit. Make the last stop be Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit. Enjoy a lunch of tamales in this population growth enclave that boasts the lowest rate of housing foreclosure in the city. End on a positive note.
1. The above itinerary is obviously a mainstream one that is constrained by time, place, personal preferences and is designed for someone unfamiliar with the area.
2. Better ideas can be found in the book, Global Journeys of Metro Detroit by Marcia Danner, Helen B Love and Patricia Banker Peart (ISBN 0-9673379-0-9).
3. The omission of a suggestion to tour CAFOs does admittedly neglect a "positive" part of Michigan's economy.
Detroit is for Lovers tee, pictured above, postcards, and assorted seat belt bags for your non-native or displaced Detroit lover available at Real Detroit.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It's arrived at last! Head over to sister site, The Funny Side Up, to check out Lisa L.'s delightful video gastronomie on rooster in wine. It's must eat TV!
Also, be sure to vote for next week's recipe. I'm pulling for Green Curry, but that should in no way affect your decision. (Vote for Green Curry.)
Apparently if you implant a microchip in a pupal moth, when it emerges from its chrysalis, you can control its muscle movements with radio waves. Thanks DARPA!
Friday, February 20, 2009
A particularly strong application for the Best Job in the World. Vote as if your vacation destination depended on it. Because it does. If this student of marine biology and experienced blogger receives enough votes he will be able to welcome you to his villa.
Starting tomorrow, I will be posting from the road
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"I hope people learn from my story and just, like, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess."
According to the salon.com's review of Bristol Palin's recent Fox News, the young mother makes some compelling pro-comprehensive sex education and pro-choice arguments. I don't mean that in a tongue-in-cheek, "look at the teen mother have an awkward interview way", but rather a "some kids are going to end up boning so abstinence only education doesn't really prepare them to make good decisions" type way.
It's official: The Cold War is over.
And electronic warfare is now an army career path, a senior official announced at a Defense Department Bloggers Roundtable conference call last week. During the past two years Fort Sill (Oklahoma) conducted a skill-identifier course for interested servicemembers including those in the Navy and Airforce. Soon electronic warfare specialists will be distributed throughout the ranks. Most specialists will work in brigade combat teams, said Col. Laurie G. Moe Buckhout, chief of the electronic warfare division in Army Operations, Readiness and Mobilization.
“There's been a sea change, a huge paradigm shift in the understanding of electronic warfare,” she said. “For decades, it's been run from the air, and now that you have an asymmetric ground battle -- not the Cold War anymore -- people are beginning to understand that there are a plethora of targets in any square kilometer on the ground, … and we have to protect ourselves and be able to attack from a ground point of view.” [Yikes.]
The colonel cited the words of President Barack Obama in explaining the new direction. "We must adapt and make tradeoffs among systems originally designed for the Cold War and those required for current and future challenges,” she said, quoting Obama. “We need greater investment in advanced technology, … like unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare capabilities.”
The Army’s new electronic warfare career field puts those words to work, Buckhout said. “Like the new commander in chief said,” she told the bloggers, “this is a way to get out of old-style Cold War business and to get into something new. That is right in line with the Army way ahead, our mantra is change.”
Next up: securing Fort Lewis, please.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Playing beach volleyball and learning Spanish across the San Diego-Tijuana fence sounds hot. It's probably not possible this Spring Break due to DHS fencing off this fence that, in other sections, is steel mesh and surplus landing mats from the Vietnam War. Sand tubing outlook isn't good either.
I've gone on record as hating the new Pepsi ad campaign. I recently came across this forum post, where an individual with the nom de plume, pepsisucks, posted a copy of the "design guidelines and presentation of the design process" from the company that is redesigning Pepsi's .
The .pdf is pretty ridiculous, and culminates by comparing Pepsi to gravity:
Or as it's been redesigned (does this make it re-redesigned?):
Monday, February 16, 2009
The Institute for Human Continuity website is an essential resource for understanding the ragnarok of 2012. Check it out for simulations about how the end might possibly arrive, and also enter the lottery to be among the chosen few to survive the coming holocaust. Space is limited, so act fast.
Posted by B.C. Houston at 10:34 AM
Sunday, February 15, 2009
An old recreational read as a post-Valentine's Day pick-me-up.
The following telephone conversations among members of the Milosevic family were recorded in 1997 by Croatian intelligence agents and released in January 2002 to Globus, a weekly newspaper in Zagreb. Prior to his death on March 11, 2006, Slobodan Milosevic was on trial in The Hague for several counts of war crimes, including genocide; Mira Markovic, his wife, and Marko, his son, currently live in Moscow. All three were alleged to have embezzled billions of dollars. Translated from the Serbian by Tanja Bosak."All violence against nature is stupid," eh?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Happy VD from GAP.
Via Paper Crave
Friday, February 13, 2009
MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables -- cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. Is this the next thing in hands-on learning?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Abraham Lincoln was born on the same day as Darwin. What a day!
And he's the only president to hold a patent. He invented a device to lift boats over shoals and sandbars. A monument and a patent: I'm jealous.
Today actress and activist Mira Sorvino was named Goodwill Ambassador for the UNODC. In a 2005 Lifetime miniseries Ms. Sorvino played an ICE agent combating human trafficking. Her new role rocks more.
Also today the UNODC released its executive summary of The Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. This is the first report of its kind in breadth. Among the highlights:
- Sexual exploitation is by far (79 percent) the most commonly identified form of the crime -- but this may be due to statistical bias. Other forms of trafficking may be more under-reported. Those forms include forced or bonded labor, domestic servitude and forced marriage, organ removal, and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade, and warfare.
- Women are disproportionately involved both as victims and perpetrators. Crime, especially that which is organized and violent, is typically a male activity, according to the UNODC. Now in Europe, women comprise a larger share of those convicted for human trafficking offenses than for most other forms of crime. How the perpetrator gender trend may reflect women's positions in trafficking rings and in overarching societal structures such as justice systems was not alluded to in the summary.
- Legislative frameworks for anti-trafficking are fast developing in countries with large and small purses. More and more countries have seriously implemented the Protocol. Yet an inadequacy of political will and legal instruments means that populations in 30 out of the 155 countries surveyed cannot work to hold their governments accountable to the Protocol's obligations. Worldwide, trials and convictions remain relatively rare.
- An average of a jazillion persons are trafficked annually. In reality the report contains no total. (ILO estimates that at any time 2.4 million are being trafficked intra-regionally, within a country, or across an international border.)
- The nature of trafficking in persons and certain governmental actions continue to impede efforts to combat it. "This Report increases our understanding of modern slave markets, yet it also exposes our ignorance," said UNODC Director Antonio Costa. "We have a big picture, but it is impressionistic and lacks depth. We fear the problem is getting worse, but we can not prove it for lack of data, and many governments are obstructing. ... If we do not overcome this knowledge crisis we will be fighting the problem blindfolded."
No doubt many of my biology students from the last two years would agree with the first half of Mr. Dobzhansky's statement. That can easily be blamed upon poor pedagogy. Tragically, 200 years after Carlos Darwin's birth, fewer than 4 in 10 American's believe in evolution. Views are similar across the pond in the U.K. where Chucky D. was born.
Before Charlie published "On the Origin of Species" biology was not a science. Instead a mixture of folklore and religion stood in it's place. It's unfathomable that in an age where there is so much documented evidence of evolution and where we benefit so much from our understanding of evolution, so many people do not believe in the most basic cornerstone of biology.
Maybe our education system is to blame for our collective evolutionary ignorance. But maybe this just reflects our the human ability to disregard facts that don't agree with our feelings. Regardless, you should check out UC Berkeley's Understanding Evolution if you find yourself feeling a little uneasy about evolution.
Apologies the complete recipe is not viewable. We think you get the idea.
Pictured: Woman's Day: 250 Easy Recipes. Waterloo, NSW: Magazine Promotions, 2005.
Photo via: The Last Appetite
Ignore that conversation about 24 year-old women getting "preventative" botox treatments. Suspend your anxiety about intellectual inertia, and stop worrying about diversifying those three saved dollars while you madly google "social security" + "hope." Hold up re-doing the math of your five-year plan to fit more friends and family and fellowships in. Just for a moment. Instead contemplate Aristotle's observations of the octopus.
The History of Animals by Aristotle: The octopus is a stupid creature, for it will approach a man's hand if it be lowered in the water; but it is neat and thrifty in its habits: that is, it lays up stores in its nest, and, after eating up all that is eatable, it ejects the shells and sheaths of crabs and shell-fish, and the skeletons of little fishes. It seeks its prey by so changing its colour as to render it like the colour of the stones adjacent to it; it does so also when alarmed. ... The octopus as a rule does not live the year out. It has a natural tendency to run off into liquid; for, if beaten and squeezed, it keeps losing substance and at last disappears. The female after parturition is peculiarly subject to this colliquefaction; it becomes stupid; if tossed about by waves, it submits impassively; a man, if he dived, could catch it with the hand; it gets covered over with slime, and makes no effort to catch its wonted prey. The male becomes leathery and clammy. As a proof that they do not live into a second year there is the fact that, after the birth of the little octopuses in the late summer or beginning of autumn, it is seldom that a large-sized octopus is visible, whereas a little before this time of year the creature is at its largest. After the eggs are laid, they say that both the male and the female grow so old and feeble that they are preyed upon by little fish, and with ease dragged from their holes; and that this could not have been done previously; they say also that this is not the case with the small and young octopus, but that the young creature is much stronger than the grown-up one. ... So much for the mollusca.Actually, the giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini ) has a lifespan of three to five years. And octopi are more and more recognized as intelligent animals. That thriftiness and intelligence, that color-changing adaptability, that flexibility, that strong defense and keen eyesight which are unmentioned above: certain characteristics of the octopus might well be emulated. But comparing lifespan, at least, we've still got it good. If nothing else we have numbers on our side and the continuing advancement of science (besides botox) to anticipate. Squeeze on. With stereognosis.
Now, about that world food situation...
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This dialogue pretty much sums up how I feel about TLC:
J. What is this?Tragically, I can't seem to turn if off. Maybe I need a better cable package, but maybe I just enjoy being judgmental. TLC provides a chance to do some top quality people watching, and sometimes I just can't get enough of it. I think I might just be a lot tackier than I previously though.
W. John and Kate Plus 8.
J. Why do they have so many?
J. TLC. This is the same channel that had Mermaid Girl on the other night. And the one with the show about feral children and Octopus Man and Half Man Half Tree.
W. Don't forget about the Morbidly Obese Mexican. And the Duggars.
J. Bible Belt Brood. The Littlest Family. Two-headed teenager. Coma Mom. What is wrong with this channel? What does TLC stand for, The Lives of Circusfreaks? Too Little Compassion?
W. You're just jealous because Pregnant Dad has a thicker beard than you.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
If you're single on Valentine's Day, there are only two ways to avoid being pushed by society into the dark recesses of ostracism:
1. Disregard Valentine's Day as a legitimate holiday. The easiest way to do this is to be a non-Christian or convert to become one. As a Jew I don't really honor saints so I'm fine ignoring the day honoring Saint Valentine.
2. For those unwilling to convert, just watch videos of people crashing on Segways. You'll soon realize that there are others in this world who have more to worry about than being single on our nation's day of love (like the G Bush tandem on right).
This one never gets old:
Segway crash test dummies(plus German cops and a nice crash compilation):
Even LEGO Segways crash:
Photo credit: http://blogs.redding.com/mbeauchamp/archives/Bush_Segway_Crash.jpg
Found Magazine is a nice collection of uses of the written word. The mag's nothing too new, but neither is the human condition. Especially in our electronic age the handwriting here adds that personal touch.
Monday, February 9, 2009
While Valentine's Day is the perfect day to go out with friends for Thai food, we at GAP acknowledge the existence of options.
1. Hot book. The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values. By MacArthur Genius Nancy Folbre.
2. Seedy valentines. Help peace & love flourish in the spring.
3. Talk the politics of public health. An FDA advisory panel unanimously recommended the second-generation female condom on December 11; now the FC2 is up for further FDA review. Intrigued? PATH and the UNFPA offer a concise primer on the subject. OxFam and the World Population Fund have a report on the FC and public policy.
4. Chocolate. Ghanaian or Italian.
5. Moment of silence. 80th anniv. of Valentine's Day Massacre.
Georgia O'Keefe. Ladder to the Moon. 1958. Oil on canvas 101.6/76.2 cm.
On Friday CBS launched CBS classic, an ad based website that streams, among other things, Twin Peaks. If you haven't ever seen the show now is your opprotunity. The show is wonderful. It follows the adventures of coffee loving FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper as he tries to solve a brutal murder in the quirky town of Twin Peaks Washington.
- 69 million of those child laborers live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 69 million is one in three children there.
- 44 million South Asian children are engaged in labor.
So, until robots are perfected and priced down, what's one more child laborer?
McSweeney's sells a nice instructional series for little ones. "Baby, Fix Me a Drink," "Baby, Fix My Car," "Baby, Make Me Breakfast," and "Baby, Do My Banking" are the titles.
While your young niece or neighbor cashes your checks, surf to the Millennium Development Goal monitoring site to see how the gender parity index in primary level enrollment maps out and compares to other progress areas.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
There is a lot of "crazy shit" on the internet. Sometimes though, the internet hands you some shit that's just so crazy that it leaves you speechless. Case in point: Animusic.
Maybe I'm just not on enough drugs to enjoy this.
Seriously, what kind of person wakes up one day and thinks to themselves "Let's make some crazy ass animations of midi songs?"
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Growing up I'd see a Calder mobile (entitled Mobile) whenever I visited the public library. It hung far too high for my liking; my fingers itched to tickle and spin its giant, whimsical odd shapes. So I had to stuff my hands in my jeans pockets when I came close to Calder's animal sculptures in the National Gallery of Art. Although made of sheet metal, they appear delicately elegant, like origami. And they look ready to leap across the room and gently lick one's hidden hand or be stroked. Take a less tempting virtual tour here. (Or meet me at the library.)
Calder's jewelry that is on display at the MET through May 1 is no less enticing. It's wirey, it's North African-influenced, it's larger than life. But, as the Wall Street Journal laments, it is not worn. The "self-consciously clever" pieces mostly of brass and steel, sometimes with other-material adornments, are not displayed on the lobes or chest of Peggy Guggenheim. Chances are if it were, Ms. Guggenheim would not be getting down to Beyonce's brilliant song. If she did there'd be a mass of bobby pins and jangling. Really, the jewelry that is likened to mini-mobiles and armour could well shimmy on its own.
The exhibit does provide super glimpses into Calder's life. Placards help clue us into who Calder valued. For example, his wife:
Before 17 December: Calder makes a gold ring that he presents to Louisa.
"I had known a little jeweler in Paris, Bucci, and he had helped me make a gold ring--forerunner of an array of family jewelry--with a spiral on top and a helix for the finger. I thought this would do for a wedding ring. But Louisa merely called this one her 'engagement ring' and we had to go to Waltham, near by, and purchase a wedding ring for two dollars." (Calder 1966, 116) (From Calder Foundation)
Calder with goats, Roxbury, c. 1938 Photo by Herbert Matter. Calders' wedding day, 1931. Louisa Calder's dressing bureau, Roxbury, c. 1942. Photo by Herbert Matter. Via: Calder Foundation.
Not shown: the simultaneous sunrise and full moon that inspired Calder one early morning off the Guatemalan coast, where the ship he was working on lay. See it yourself.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Until teleporting becomes reality, physically transporting ourselves is a fact of life. Often it's also a fact of death. In 2008 it was less so -- according to the National Safety Council, the estimated annual death rate from motor vehicle-related crashes in 2008 was 13 deaths per 100,000 people, a 9 percent decrease from 2007. The NSC cites law enforcement, safer vehicles, and improved public awareness as factors in the rate that they say is its lowest yet since 1920 (no mention of changes in methodology).
Likewise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives us hope that the number of people killed in traffic crashes reached a record low in 2008. Projections showed a near 10 percent drop in traffic deaths in the first 10 months. The numbers:
Estimates show 31,110 people died on U.S. roads from Jan.-Oct., compared with 34,502 in 2007 during that same period. In addition, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicles miles traveled for the first nine months of 2008 is 1.28, compared with 1.37 for 2007.At a December press conference, then-Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced that we are experiencing one of the safest periods in the country's transportation history. Let's frame safety in terms of homeland security, discount energy dependence and air pollution, and return to numbers: 31,110 is 28,137 more than the 2,973 killed on 9/11. Remember, these are fatalities and don't count serious closed head injuries that my mother is forever warning me of. In a country that is more car than motorcycle crazy, moreover.
An agnostic bus sign customized for this post.
There's more. Congress requires the NHTSA to collect and maintain data about fatalities *and* injuries in nontraffic and noncrash incidents. This started recently, spurred by the passage of Public Law 109-59, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and Public Law 110-189, the K.T. Kids Safety Act. Info is pulled from police reports, death certificates, ER records, and NHSTA's own Special Crash Investigations crew. The Not-in-Traffic Surveillance 2007, published this January, gives us 1,700 fatalities (and 840,000 injuries) to add to that.
So we share a concern for our individual mortality. We're still missing something here. Mass transit? Surely. Also: mimes. And an international perspective.
In a 2004 report, the World Health Organization and the World Bank cited traffic crashes as the leading cause of death worldwide for people between the ages of 10 and 24. The report predicted deaths and injuries could increase 65 percent by 2020 if dramatic changes weren't undertaken. Dang, that's dismal.
can-I-get-some-mass-transit Motor City GAP blogger.
Go Stimulus? And stay safe.
Information in last two 'graphs from: "Calming Traffic on Bogota's Killing Streets." Science. 8 February 2008. Volume 319, pp. 742-743.
As human civilization expands into previously untouched corners of the earth, scientists have been discovering more and more previously unsubscribed species. Take these recently discovered species of toads from the genera Nectophrynoides and Probreviceps. They are among 15 species of amphibians that have just been found in the forests of Tanzania.
Photos via BBC.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Economist Greg Mankiw recently posted a Sunday strip from the best comic ever, Calvin and Hobbes. Even though it's fifteen years old, the strip is eerily prophetic:
This is a Christopher Wallace movie.
Other Notorious takeaway: Careful about that catcalling.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Keep up on Obama's promise-keeping and promise-breaking record with PolitiFact's Obameter. So far his record is good although according to the meter he has already broken a promise he made to allow five days for public commentary before signing non-emergency bills. In this case it was the Lily Ledbetter Act so I can't give him too much flack for pushing this one through. Interesting that we're already holding Obama more accountable during week two than anyone ever did for GWB in eight years.
Nothing good to wear to work or class? The Detroit Free Press has an Obama half and full mask that one can easily print and don. Use the mask to steal a few extra seconds of solace at the desk where you dream of a United States in which all trusted and talented leaders fully paid taxes. Then, quick like a fox, prepare for intense scrutiny.
"Andy Warhol said we all get our 15 minutes of fame," said then-Senator Barack Obama at a 2005 Gridiron Club event. "I've already had an hour and a half. I mean, I'm so overexposed, I'm making Paris Hilton look like a recluse."
Those who could relate know the world ain't cake.
photos via Freep photographer Romain Blanquart
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Sharing is caring:
Do you like the articles you read on Grown Ass People? Well now you can share them with your friends thanks to our handy dandy little new button found at the bottom of each post. The share button allows you to e mail our articles, or to bookmark our articles on any number of social bookmarking sites. Ya digg?
Vote for fruit tart:
You only have 2 days left. Please, for the love of all that's sacred, vote for fruit tart on Funny Side Up. I really want it to win.
Photo via: foxxyriot
I've been reading a parenting blog lately. Is that lame? Sweet Juniper! is the blog of a hip young couple raising a zombie-obsessed almost four-year old and an infant in Detroit. They have great practical parenting tips, like keeping your children's vacation expectations low by only visiting rust belt cities:
My wife goes to Cincinnati every month for business, and sometimes we drive down and stay with her at the fancy hotel. I know why some people build swimming pools in their backyards or buy trampolines: they love their kids and want them to be happy. And (for the same reason) when some people go on vacation, they go to places like Hawaii or Florida. But that's just not our style. We parent on the theory of lowered expectations: if they don't know what they're missing, they won't get upset about it until they're already old enough to resent us for a whole host of other reasons. Disneyworld is, I'm sure, a totally magical pain in the ass. But when your kid has never seen a Disney movie and doesn't know Florida even exists, places like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati will do in a pinch.Good to know guys. Maybe I'm just very impressionable but this kindof makes me want to have kids.
Monday, February 2, 2009
From Boing Boing:
I think this is probably a pretty accurate graphic of the terror to zombie ratio during the zombie apocalypse, although I'd like to know more about the data-gathering methodology.
Speaking of zombies apocalypses, I'm almost done with Max Brook's World War Z and I'm really enjoying it. The son of Mel Brooks probably won't be known by future generations for his literary oeuvre, but as a cautionary tale it sure does the job. All I can say is that I hope Barack Obama has read it and taken it to heart.