Links for the week of October 15th, 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.

  • Top Financial Services Committee Members Rely Heavily On Finance Industry Campaign Contributions – A truly bipartisan effort: Twenty-seven committee members have so far received over one-quarter of their contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector. This includes Chair Barney Frank, Ranking Member Spencer Bachus, four subcommittee chairs and four subcommittee ranking members. Of the twenty-seven, twelve committee members received over 35% of their contributions in 2009 from the FIRE sector.
  • Four Nuclear Myths – Amory Lovins' critique of Stewart Brand's reasons for supporting increased nuclear power.
  • For the Danes, city planning is all about the bike – With a single sentence, a North American journalist frames bicycle planning in Copenhagen (of all places) as a struggle between cyclists and drivers, as an issue of identity politics. It's totally bizarre, because nobody in Copenhagen "is a cyclist". Everyone just rides bikes. This is apparently so alien a concept to someone from North America that even in an article which is all about how normalized cycling is in Denmark, the author can't help but see the story through our sad, irrational, antagonistic lens. Too bad. Except for that one sentence, it was a pretty good article.
  • The Beautiful Cervix Project – Have you ever wondered what your cervix looks like? This woman was curious, and documented herself for a full menstrual cycle. Then her website got a lot of traffic, and photobucket declared her pictures "inappropriate", so she set up a new site with her own hosting, and has started collecting galleries of other women's cervices too. Young, old, pregnant, with an IUD, before sex, after sex, etc. To call the project intimate would be a serious understatement.
  • Dr. John Pucher – An MIT alum at Rutgers, who studies urban transportation cycling policy. Links to lots of his recent publications looking at what policies work worldwide to encourage cycling.
  • Giant Industrial Gasworks Turned into Domed Indoor Town – Four enormous cylindrical brick buildings from the late 1800's have been transformed in Austria into something almost resembling one of Paolo Soleri's Archologies.
  • Siege of Kingsnorth declared over – The proposed 1.6 GW coal fired power plant at Kingsnorth has been canceled, due to the recession (and thus decreased energy demand) rather than political pressure or direct action (or at least, so says E.ON, the company that applied for the permit). In many ways, the recession is exactly what we need from a natural resources and climate point of view. The real challenge will be to restore a sense of increasing prosperity worldwide without reversing the consumption trend. Good luck.
  • Coal-Fired Power Plants – Water Pollution – There are thousands of Clean Water Act violations by coal fired power plants on the books, which the EPA has unfortunately just decided not to do anything about. Money is the only language corporations speak. If you want them to change their behavior, you have to use the fines.
  • 826 National – The network of after school writing and tutoring centers that Dave Eggers started with 826 Valencia in San Francisco. It's a beautiful model for education, and I suspect that in a lot of ways, it resembles what the decentralized, network mediated education system of the future will look like. A place for knowledge and people to come together: just add dedication. I wonder how well the model can be generalized to fields outside of writing… especially math, science, and engineering. Those subjects are usually seen as much less expressive than writing, less human, but does that have to be true?
  • The most common Chinese characters – A table of the ~3000 most common Chinese characters ordered by frequency of usage. With this number of characters, you can understand about 99.9% of written content.
  • KyngChaos GIS Software on OSX – Native framework builds of lots of great open source software for Mac OS X, including QGIS, PostGIS, GRASS, and their many dependencies. Mostly available in 64 bit versions for Snow Leopard now.

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Zane Selvans

A former space explorer, now marooned on a beautiful, dying world.

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