Monday, February 22, 2010

Empathy and the Internet: Can the Web Help Human Rights?

David Weinberger says YES. In the light of my recent conversation with Eugenie Scott I am inspired to agree.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hand-Crafted Bicycle Exhibit

Josh Kerson of runabout cycles proudly displays his work and the work of others at the Art-lab on Linden Street in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has organized a hand-crafted bicycle exhibit this week. With a thriving bike culture this community is the perfect venue for a display of such useful creativity.

Pictures and Video by Kristopher Hite

Check out all the Masterpieces!

This all reminds me... Join Team Wonderbike!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nobel Laureate - Thomas R. Cech

Awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of catalytic RNA (ribozymes) Dr. Thomas Cech gave a seminar at Colorado State University Wednesday February 17th, 2010. He spoke about current research in his lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Here he has recently begun academic research once again after a 10 year hiatus acting as president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). After recording part of his lecture I would like to share this with you. I had the opportunity to meet with him after his talk where he made the point that there is a deleterious lack of "cross-talk" between scientists in various fields.  Professor Temple Grandin has the same complaint.  Understanding that the group of researchers present at the lecture was the most diverse I have seen, I hope to help build a network of researchers to continue the discussion Dr. Cech began in Yates hall. If you are interested in continuing this conversation please subscribe to this blog and if you are interested in more technical discussions please consider joining the Colorado discussion forum on Nature Network

Monday, February 15, 2010

Post with the Most on Tom Paine's Ghost

The 2010 Post with the Most blogging contest continues. So far there have been 5 entries submitted. If you write, read, paint, or perform in any way and have a blog or have thought about writing a blog this is an opportunity to showcase your work. Contests like these  help connect and expose you to others interested in pushing citizen generated content into a rich new context. The contest has received some encouraging support from elsewhere in the blogosphere, including Abbas at 3QD and Bora at a blog around the clock.

Here are the entries so far...

You'll either get this or you won't by Ivor Tymchak

Monday Musing: the greatest of all time by Abbas Raza 

A Natural History of my instrument: by Alicia Jo Rabins 

A Natural History of My Mishearing: by Ed Skoog 

Natural Histories Project: by Sean Hill

Please submit your own entry by posting a link in the comments below. For more details on the criteria for posts visit the original competition announcement here. In a nutshell, we are looking for entries using at least 3 different forms of media. These forms include, but are not limited to - text, static images, audio, video, and any other medium, even those not yet known to the world.

Thank you for visiting,
may your day be filled with free thought.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Story of Stuff

In a few weeks Annie Leonard's book the story of stuff will be on bookshelves and downloaded to e-book readers all over the planet.  Following her wildly popular web movie it is sure to delve into our supply lines and paint a complete picture of consumerism.  Walking us through working conditions in copper mines to the forging of the iPod cover to the online purchase and ultimate disposal of the obsolescent product be it planned or perceived

With the lessons of this work looming I am preparing myself to deal with the complete lifestyle change realization of resource destruction (both natural and human) requires.  Last week an economist from New York's New School named Duncan Foley gave a talk at Colorado State University. He is, beyond an economist, a historian of economic philosophy specifically aware of the entire life's works of both Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Foley's position is that there are unresolved moral consequences continuing to plague the free market system.  As I learned in high school economics class the United States is considered a mixed market economy where certain sectors are regulated and others are not.  The shifting political power usually dictates how much or how little regulation we have at any given point in history.  It happens that in the United States we currently have a gridlocked political system stuck in the eddy of deregulation brought on, not only by George W. Bush but also the corporatist democrats of the Clinton era.  The massive deregulation and relinquished reigns of energy markets have created a bubble of oil so large that the dot com and housing bubbles look like tiny specs in comparison.

This topic of the oil bubble is where the ideas of Foley and Leonard overlap and is quite literally the source of the dilemma.  When corporations calculate the cost of each piece of their product the equation has a tragic flaw... The complete misrepresentation of the true cost of fossil fuel and therefore product transport.  A company operating with the infinite "cheap fuel fallacy"  will simply not endure.  Small electronics like cell phones are a great example.  Of course the manufacturer will have a half assembled phone shipped halfway round the globe if they can get a certain component added at lower cost than shipping.  Therefore all complex industrial products move through a globalized matrix floating atop a huge bubble of oil that will slowly deflate until the equations don't make sense anymore. 

So what do we do?

Though it is not my place to tell anyone how to behave or what they should do, I have the right to put out examples of what can be done so at least people become aware of alternatives. 
In my opinion the meta-analysis of personalized sustainability auditing should proceed with the following list...


- prioritized in that order.

It really is not rocket science.  The first thing to do is take small steps to create a grassroots infrastructure to allow for what is hailed as the "liberation of food."  In this field there are real American leaders taking charge.  Michael Pollan brought some of these folks to our attention in the Omnivore's Dilemma.  Joel Salitin of Polyface farms in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is one of many food revolutionarys.  He just happens to be coming to Fort Collins in March.  But before we get into all the philosophies of potential food liberators we as individuals need to take it upon ourselves to set up our lives in a way  such that the green revolution can be realized.  How do we do this?  Help build sustainable supply lines from farm field to stomach.  In our individual homes the kitchen is the nervous system of this brave new world.  Mason jars are part of American history and culture for a reason.  Jars and the preservation of food have indeed helped us get through some of the toughest times in our economic history. Victory gardens indeed sustained our nation and an iteration, be they large community supported agriculture projects or other forms of co-operatives need to become our lifeblood.  To do this our kitchens and bodies need to be ready to receive the bounty of liberated food. Most commercial food packaging is made from oil-derived products. These are not necessary and may be environmentally damaging. Look at the BPA facts for crying out loud. These stores where no packaging is used and customers bring their own containers need to become an American tradition!

I will save housing and transportation for a future post while urging all readers to consider how to alter their personal food infrastructure first!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ed Yong Speaks!

And am I glad he does. What a voice of reason. I am proud to be published alongside such a hero. Ed Yong author of one of my favorite blogs -Not Exactly Rocket Science - seems to really get it when it comes to breaking down the gates. After I posted my interview with Eugenie Scott last week an acquaintance who had seen it through facebook asked me if I was a journalist. I had to think about that - of course I'm not a journalist and don't claim to be. But I think that is an outdated question. Does the word "journalist" simply mean having progressed through a journalism program at University? Aren't we all editors, fact checkers, and peer-reviewers now? If someone is peddling bunk won't the hordes descend on them? If someone is spouting truth, then no matter their background, they will rise in the ranks. The blogosphere's most vindicating asset is that it is a MERITOCRACY. This is especially true in the world of science blogging. If you do bad work then you don't get readers if you do exhibitionist work you get lots of shallow readers, if you do good work you get good readers. Good writing is good writing no matter the credentials of the source. In my humble opinion Ed Yong is a great writer and with people like him at Not Exactly Rocket Science, Christie Wilcox at Observations of a Nerd, Scicurious at Neurotopia and many others I have no doubt the quality of science writing online will not only remain but thrive.