Links for the week of September 11th, 2009

If you want to follow my shared links in real time instead of as a weekly digest, head over to Delicious. You can search them there easily too.

  • Driving Kills – Health Warnings – Maybe cars and car advertising should come with the same kind of waring labels that now accompany tobacco products in most developed nations. In the US there are 40,000+ automobile related deaths each year, and (according to @AlexSteffen anyway) roughly half of those killed are people who were not in cars at all: pedestrians, cyclists, etc. And that number is only the people who were killed via trauma. The contribution of sedentary transportation to health related problems in the US is non-trivial as well.
  • The Zen of vehicle co-existence – A Canadian journalist living in Tokyo describes Japan's culture of road sharing. 30 million people and 20 million bikes in the Tokyo metropolitan area, with basically no separated infrastructure, but people still manage to ride safely and drive courteously. I totally disagree with the last two paragraphs though… "in a world with 6 billion car drivers" (I hope we never see such a world) and his belief that somehow driving a car has something to do with empowering citizens to democratic self-determination.
  • The Sayano-Shushenskaya dam accident – This accident almost seems like some kind of hydroelectric Chernobyl… I know which one I'd rather live next to.
  • Optometrist Attic – Traditional eyeglass frames from across the 20th century, in all three styles: wire-rimmed, combo (wire+plastic JFK/Malcom X) and the thick plastic kind your dad wore in the 60s. Lots of macro shots. Great for people who want things designed to last, and be fixed. Helpful proprietor too.
  • Rugged Femininity, my new work corset! – If Carhartt made corsets, this is what you'd get. Much, much cooler than the Utilikilts, I must say
  • Garden Tips for Los Angeles County – Los Angeles County UC Extension gardening guide. What to plant when for our fine Mediterranean climate.
  • Edge Master Class in Synthetic Biology – The Edge held their 2009 "Master Class" in SoCal on Synthetic Biology. All 6 hours of lectures are available in HD online. The teachers were Craig Venter and George Church. I'm sure it was awesome. Probably also terrifying. What a fascinating modern age, indeed.
  • Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance – A huge finance industry that has the government in thrall to it *and* a juicy incentive to make sure that the old and the sick die quickly? Our healthcare woes are solved! These people never learn. Oh, or wait, maybe it's us that never learn. Damn.
  • Neutral Bunkers – Apparently Switzerland is riddled with naturalistic camouflaged bunkers and other military installations, built to blend into the apparently wild landscape. Awesome. Creepy.
  • California proposes new program for 1 GW of renewables – The CPUC has proposed to use a reverse-auction mechanism to set the "feed in tariff" for smaller and mid-sized renewable generation, that can often be built much closer to demand centers and existing transmission capability. The utilities would thus get as much renewable generation as possible for their renewable budget, and we get to avoid paying more than we have to for the privilege. Hopefully this can help ramp up actual construction of the so far promised 8GW of CA renewables.
  • eSolar lights up their first 5MW plant – eSolar has brought online a 2-tower, 5 megawatt concentrating solar thermal plant in Lancaster. The first fully private commercial CSP in the US. They have a cool timelapse of construction, which took less than one year from groundbreaking to bringing power to the grid. The plant is on private, industrially zoned land, adjacent to existing transmission lines. The components are mass produced, and shippable via standard containers. The plants can share the turbine between solar steam and natural gas (at night) mitigating some of the intermittence problems (and poor capitalization on equipment) problems renewables have. This electricity is currently price competitive with natural gas, and they claim to be aiming at coal. Best of luck!
  • The Meta-evolution of an Idea – An awesome animated visual representation of the changes that took place between the six editions of Darwin's Origin of Species.
  • Nils Gilman: The Global Illicit Economy – A short talk on the professionalization of the global illicit economy, or so-called "deviant globalization", by examples: weapons, drugs, software, medicine (organs), and finance. These are not "revolutionary" actors, attempting to usurp states, but rather organizations on the same scale as states and large corporations, that are happy to work around states and their rules, to satisfy illicit economic and political demands.

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