This Week's Top Ten (11/11/07-11/17/07)

  1. A Molotov, with love from Africa Flak via TED Blog

    The idea of this site is to provide proof that Africa stands for a lot more than the press – sorry folk, the U.S. press – gives it credit for. Africa’s a complicated place, a much more complex game than its highlight reel. When one concentrates on the final push, the bottom line, we’ll only see the extremes.

    I pointed this out a few weeks ago: Using a simple search method at the New York Times, the terms “AIDS” + “Africa” brought back 250 stories published in the past year. What I didn’t say was that searching the terms “Africa” + “fun” returned 91 hits. (The greatest ranked section: sports!). In the same vein, searching “Africa” + “pleasure” = 69 hits, most of them in movies.

    So, where is the fun?

  2. Jaime Lerner on Sustainability in Curitiba and ‘Urban Accupunture’ from Treehugger

    A sustainable city is the one that integrates housing, work and leisure, while preserving its history and investing in public transportation.” With this idea in mind, Jaime Lerner has turned Curitiba, capital of the Parana State in Brazil, into one of the greenest cities in the world.

    Some of his ideas were to educate children on garbage separation in order for them to educate their parents, to exchange food for recovered garbage in favelas (poor settlements) in order to encourage trash separation, and to put sheep in parks for them to take care of grass and attract children.

  3. OPEC issues bizarre oil threat, Financial Times also confused from Gristmill

    Apparently these absurdly rich countries — with projected revenues of $658 billion this year — who are selling their product at nearly $100 a barrel, are threatening not to invest in new production unless the consuming countries promise to maintain demand. Seriously! No, seriously

    This sounds vaguely like extortion, doesn’t it?

  4. New Process Turns Silicon Chips into Solar Panels from Inhabitat

    There is plenty of waste in industrial processes, and the world of computer manufacturing is no exception. A prime example of this are the silicon wafers used as starting materials for the production of chips by the computing industry. Every year, roughly 3.3 million silicon wafers are sent to landfills across the world to be crushed. Of course where some see waste, others see opportunity — such as IBM, who just announced a new process to turn these silicon wafers into solar panels.

    …and wins the “2007 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award” from The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) in the process.

  5. In modern China, eye on mental health from Christian Science Monitor

    Most psychotherapists and counselors are setting up shop as Chinese struggle with the demands of a rapidly changing society and the profession loses its stigma.

    “The faster society develops, the faster people’s lives become, and the more stressed they get,” explains Che Hongsheng, dean of Beijing Normal University’s psychology faculty. “Many people feel they are losing their balance, and balance matters a lot to Chinese.”

  6. An inconvenient truth about venture capital from How the World Works

    So Al Gore is now a partner at Kleiner-Perkins, the legendary venture-capital firm. And according to Fortune Magazine, he’s thinking big!

    “What we are going to have to put in place is a combination of the Manhattan Project, the Apollo project, and the Marshall Plan, and scale it globally.”

    But at another point in the same article, Gore says “We all believe that markets must play a central role.”

    O.K. What do the Manhattan Project, Apollo project and the Marshall Plan all have in common?

    The “market” was not the prime mover in their success. The federal government of the United States conceived these projects, funded them, and changed the world by executing them successfully.

  7. Precycle before you recycle from Green Daily

    Precycling is trying to reduce waste by “pre-thinking” our purchases. While recycling is, of course, a positive thing, it still requires energy to transport the materials, melt them down and then re-manufacture items. Precycling tries to avoid the amount of stuff that gets chucked into landfills AND the recycling bin to begin with.

  8. In Drought, Upscale Homeowners Dig for Water from NPR

    Whaa! My grass is brown. Whaaa! As you can tell, my sympathies lie elsewhere.

    Wake County, N.C., where Pericchi lives, has issued permits for more than 25 irrigation wells in the past six weeks. And local well driller Jason Poole said his company has installed dozens of them since the drought began.

    But in North Carolina, some leaders are concerned about the growing popularity of irrigation wells. The resort town of Pinehurst last month imposed a moratorium on new wells, and state officials are warning that some irrigation wells can affect local water tables.

    “Putting in new wells for irrigation may affect some neighbors who are dependent on their wells — not just for irrigation, but for their ordinary complete domestic water supply,” said John Morris, the director of the North Carolina Division of Water Resources.

  9. Did I Steal My Daughter? The Tribulations of Global Adoption from Mother Jones via Guatemala Solidarity Network

    i first met my daughter in the lobby of the Westin Camino Real, the grandest hotel in Guatemala City. The night before, my husband Walter and I had soothed our nerves running on the treadmills in the fitness center, where a polite attendant handed us plush white towels and spritzed the equipment with a flowery disinfectant. Afterward I wrote a series of letters to our daughter. Because children adopted from overseas usually have little information about their history, parents are advised to document the trip as best they can, creating what is known as an “adoption story.”

  10. Really, its for a good cause. Sucker! from Philanthropy 2173

    Free Rice purports to be a vocabulary test masking as a fundraiser for the UN. Sad thing is, its actually a vocabulary test masking as an ad server, while the rice you donate does seem to go to the UN World Food Program. The real money is in the ad clicks – companies support the site, you click on their ads, they pay the website for the click. That fee is no doubt more than the cost of the 420 grains of rice you’ll earn before you realize you’ve wasted another 10 minutes of your day.

Bonus: Chinese Dam Projects Criticized for Their Human Costs

Last year, Chinese officials celebrated the completion of the Three Gorges Dam by releasing a list of 10 world records. As in: The Three Gorges is the world’s biggest dam, biggest power plant and biggest consumer of dirt, stone, concrete and steel. Ever. Even the project’s official tally of 1.13 million displaced people[emphasis added] made the list as record No. 10.

…The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s biggest man-made producer of electricity from renewable energy. Hydropower, in fact, is the centerpiece of one of China’s most praised green initiatives, a plan to rapidly expand renewable energy by 2020.