Friday, February 26, 2010

Clean, cheap, water filtration for developing communities

In the last two weeks I've been hearing a lot about several different versions of the same project - ceramic water filters. At the Abriendo Brecha VII Activist Scholar Conference at UT-Austin I saw a presentation by Oscar Muñoz, Deputy Director for the Center for Housing and Urban Development, Coloñias Program. The gist of the project is utilizing low-tech ceramic filters to provide potable water for those without access to it. Amazingly, this includes about 500,000 people in South Texas and untold millions across the globe. The way it works is, they mix fine grains of sawdust with clay, shape these cones to fit over a 5 gallon bucket and then fire the filters in a kiln. The heat burns up the sawdust leaving tiny pores for the water to seep through. Dipping the filters in collodial silver also improves the bacteria killing efficiency by another 2%.

Oscar said the cost floats depending on where you build the filters. In Texas it's about $25, but they also did a project in South America where it was much cheaper. He said their inspiration came from Potters for Peace who have a pretty good page on further details. A few days after this presentation I heard a piece on NPR about a similar program in Yemen. They mentioned a group Potters Without Borders doing very much the same thing as the A&M group.

One interesting side note to this is that local people are starting to learn the techniques and are making and selling these ceramic filters to their fellow townspeople. I haven't looked into the social entrepreneurship aspects of it but it would seem that a micro-loan would definitely fit into a more comprehensive program incorporating sustainability, clean water and economic success.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hold the Spit?

Ha! Looks like being a cop in Burnet County isn't all fun and games. Seems the fellow to the left had a grudge against the local sheriff and messed with his burger when he came in for a bite to eat. What's worse is that this dapper gent's co-workers have ratted him out, and the dude could spend up to 10 years in a federal prison for "harrasment of a public servant." Here's what one witness had to say, "He told me he had taken the buns and wiped himself with it," said Robles, who worked at a different restaurant. She said Perez then told her that he had put vegetables for the sandwich in his mouth before placing them on the hamburger and that he spit on the burger."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Greenhouse Gas improvement?

According to this little "stat-shot" from The Economist, although global emissions of Carbon Dioxide (one of several GHGs, actually) has risen since 2007, "measured from 1990, the base year for Kytoto protocol targets, emissions fell by 4%." Russia, Germany and Britain are leading the decrease with Spain, Australia and Canada at the forefront. China is notably absent.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rod Blagojevich is trapped inside his own brain

Parts one through three of John Stewart interviewing the latest of the Illinois Inglorious Guvners... In all actuality, I bet that Fitzgerald and some of the Democratic machine probably doesn't want the entirety of these tapes to come out. By the time we get to part three, Blago is saying that Hillary "stepped out of" Obama's way in exchange for $10 million in fundraising to get her campaign debt retired and a position for her as Sec of State. Rod and Rezco were in the same circle too, I bet there's a ton of juicy politics in those tapes.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 3
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Uncle Trouble?

Apparently there's a new method for making meth that's causing an uptick in the drug's usage after years of declining numbers. The AP has a lengthy piece discussing the new "shake and bake" technique, which involves common drugstore substances being shaken up in a 2-liter, airtight bottle.

The best part of the piece, however, seems to be a warning from Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams. "It simplified the process so much that everybody's making their own dope... It can be your next-door neighbor doing it. It can be one of your family members living downstairs in the basement."

For some reason it doesn't strike me as terribly odd that a relative living in your Alabama basement could be a meth head. Williams should have added that "it could be scary, scraggly guys living in beat up vans in the holler."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Memories of a Private Dick

Dick Cheney is apparently writing his memoirs of the Bush administration, which is sure to be a fascinating read regardless of your political tilt. The Washington Post has a story about it today, and though they play up the "Frustrated with Bush" headline, what's interesting is that Cheney has long assailed insider accounts of administrations arguing, perhaps correctly, that it compromises the privacy and therefore honesty of closed door discussions. An interesting passage from today's piece,"Cheney himself has said, without explanation, that "the statute of limitations has expired" on many of his secrets. "When the president made decisions that I didn't agree with, I still supported him and didn't go out and undercut him," Cheney said, according to Stephen Hayes, his authorized biographer. "Now we're talking about after we've left office. I have strong feelings about what happened. . . . And I don't have any reason not to forthrightly express those views."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Louisiana 'Hizzy' of Representatives

Hurricane Chris blows up the Louisiana Legislature! Apparently he was given the mic as part of an appreciation or resolution honoring him. Halle Berry!