Category Archives: society

Support Pine Street Inn

Support Boston’s Pine Street Inn this year and buy holidays cards based on a photograph I took:

The photograph also came 24th in the Boston Globe’s 2008 Winter Wonderland contest:

Boston Sunset

Penny over at BostonZest did a write up on this and asked me to comment on the picture:

Updated: Oct 25th with updated link to Pine Street Inn’s Greeting Card page.

Light bulbs

Drat! Seems those energy efficient CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) contain just enough lead that the bulbs could be a problem when they’re put in the rubbish (link found via Slashdot):

The amount is tiny — about 5 milligrams, or barely enough to cover the tip of a pen — but that is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury. Even the latest lamps promoted as “low-mercury” can contaminate more than 1,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels.

And at the moment, there are few places where one can dispose of them properly:

In fact, qualified places to recycle CFLs are so few that the largest recycler of of fluorescent bulbs in America is Ikea, the furniture chain.

Even breaking one and breathing the resulting dust could be bad for you, and especially bad for children. Children can suffer severe long-term learning disabilities from lead poisoning, and it’s takes smaller doses of lead for children to be poisoned.

On the other hand, CFL’s are so much more energy efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs, that they might result in less overall pollution because less energy is needed which means less oil and coal are burned. But, with millions upon millions of CFL’s being sold, and few people aware that that CFL’s shouldn’t be put in the trash, then we may have a problem.

Consumers bought more than 300 million CFLs last year, according to industry figures, but they may be simply trading one problem (low energy-efficiency) for another (hazardous materials by the millions of pounds going right into the earth).

However, an even more efficient light bulb with more natural light may be on it’s way, and it should be easier to dispose of. See a video at ZDnet (with a really annoying commerical at the start):

OLPC for Birmingham, Alabama?

I just submitted this to Slashdot, as I think it’s interesting what the end result will be? Will the OLPC get squeezed out? Will US kids like ’em (I think they will).

bettlebrox writes Birmingham, Albama, may be the first US city to purchase the OLPC, per the Boston Herald:

‘The City Council has approved a $3.5 million plan to provide Birmingham schoolchildren with 15,000 computers produced by the nonprofit One Laptop per Child Foundation, which is putting low-cost laptops in the hands of poor children in developing countries. The city School Board still must agree to the deal, and some members have reservations. They want proof that computers designed for the remote African bush or the mountains of South America operate properly in an American city already laced with computer networks.

“Third World countries just don’t have some of the issues that we have to deal with, like liability and networking,” ‘

Other concerns they have include training for teachers and kids, and responsibility if OLPC’s are lost or stolen from a child.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, they’re easy to use (even for teachers), it’s a great way encourage kids to be more computer (and maybe programming) savvy, and it allows for easy online social networking. Also, kids and families can easily pool wireless connections using the OLPC, and it should work seamlessly with any existing networks.

What can we tell the School Board (if they read Slashdot) to address their concerns? And how soon do you think it’ll be before some major US software company offers them free computers running a different OS instead? Also, is it me or does the attitude of the article seem to imply that as this is for poor foreign children that’s it not good enough for Amerikan kids?”

Health Care?

RAM, (Remote Area Medical) a US charity group originally started to provide health care to remote regions in the Amazon is now doing 6o% of it’s work in the US:

“RAM operates on a shoestring budget of about $250,000 a year. Yet, last year, it treated 17,000 patients.”

“You created this medical organization designed to go into Third World countries to go into remote places, and now doing 60 percent of your work in urban and rural America, what are we supposed to make of that?” Pelley asked Brock.”

“In the expedition to Knoxville, RAM saw 920 patients, made 500 pairs of glasses, did 94 mammograms, extracted 1,066 teeth and did 567 fillings. But when Stan Brock called the last number, 400 people were turned away.”

CBS estimates that there are 50 Million people in the US without health insurance, that’s means about every one in six people has inadequate health care.

We have got to get our groove back.

From the NYTimes:

Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. “Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world,” Mr. Dow said. …

Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that “the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.” Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us …

We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.

Beantown Paddle Boat