What if the world runs out of water? In a session titled Water Scarcity and the Human Right to Water at the Skoll World Forum, water experts Peter Gleick, Gary White, and Gidon Bromberg discussed the very real problem of water scarcity in the world. Nearly a billion people in the world don't have access to clean water right now, and some are drinking muddied water from nearby streams because the good kind is either too far, too dangerous to get to, or inaccessible due to the lack of knowledge or wells. Gleick — whom Wired called one of 15 people Obama should listen to, spoke about the need to rethink and reframe the water problem. We have the impression that we'll never run out of water, but that simply isn't true — like oil, water can be over-pumped and its supply can peak, bringing us to a point where the next gallon of water will cause more harm than good. He points out that, in the 20th century, we focused our water efforts on "hard" solutions, technology and infrastructures that could improve water delivery. Now, he says, we have to think of "soft" solutions, economic and social aspects that complement the tech. "The population is growing too rapidly, but we still need to provide people with water and food," he said. "The good news is I think we can do it."
Dwarf Fortress, an intimidating old-school city-building game, is famous for its vast scope and difficulty. Technically a roguelike, it allows players to construct elaborate underground civilizations -- and even the entire world they are set in -- then crushes them with goblin invasions, lava flows and micromanagement. Players often show off their labyrinthine creations using 3D visualization apps, but Jong89's creation is especially worthy of your attention: his dwarf fortress is a vast turing machine.
The Dwarven Computer is finally complete! I've tested it and it functions as expected, though its performance is really lousy. ... Yellow gears represent gears that are disengaged by default. Grey gears are not linked to any pressure plates. Blue gears are engages by default. Unfortunately I didn't have enough cobaltite to make all the blue gears on the upper deck so I used orthoclase instead. This monumental build contains 672 pumps, 2000 logs, 8500 mechanisms and thousands of other assort bits and knobs like doors and rock blocks. I believe this is the first programmable digital computer that anyone has built in DF. I believe it is turing complete, for anyone who cares.
When examining the map, be sure to note it has multiple levels--and that the computer intersects with an underground river!
"Granite State of Mind" is a rap about the wonders of New Hampshire. As a lifelong Midwesterner, I think I'm missing a lot of the jokes. What I do get, though—and LOVE—is the sequence that starts around 2:33.
(Thanks, Shea Gunther!)
Special Granite State of Mind shout-out to Nathan C. and Sarah K.—two awesome people who just moved to New Hampshire—and to Max and Clay W., who've been rocking upper New England for a while now. Miss you all
The search for truth goes on: yesterday morning, I blogged a study from the Cornucopia Institute on the use of the neurotoxin hexane in production of soyburgers, which sparked a controversy in the comment thread about the science, focusing mostly on the question of whether any of the volatile hexane would still be present after the burgers made it to your shelf. For the record: I'm dubious about this objection, since in the absence of a study to the contrary, I think it makes sense to assume that the substances you put into food during production are still present at consumption. And of course, the release of hexane into the environment as part of the production of these "healthy alternatives" undermines the whole cause of improving health.
I posted a followup last night, after Xeni emailed me with a tip that the Cornucopia study had been funded by an agriculture think-tank/lobbying group called the Weston A Price Foundation. Based on that tip, I believed that I'd been had -- just another example of a corporate subsidized "science" that concludes that the company's products are just dandy (or that its competitors' wares are bad for you).
But I was wrong. I've just spoken to Kiera Butler from Mother Jones, who has followed up with Cornucopia. Cornucopia promises that the Price Foundation did not fund its research (and further, that none of its research is ever substantially funded by any concern or individual), and the principal researcher repeated her concern that there is no evidence that the hexane boils off before consumption, and that in any event, "health food" companies have no business emitting terrible toxic waste into the atmosphere (here's her update). Read the rest
With tropes as, err.. 'timeless' as the 16-bit games that inspired it, Studio Joho's Dan the Man animation -- its moral seemingly somewhere along the lines of 'don't waste your extra life' -- shows us what fate awaits the hero after the boss has been defeated and the princess is rescued. [via David Surman] Read the rest
Laura sez, "Mark Fiore just won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning for his animated works appearing on SFGate.com. I spoke with Fiore about what's next for him, and he said he'd like to take his freelance shop mobile. Only problem: Apple denied his iPhone app because it 'ridicules public figures,' a violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. If he can get his app past the Apple satire police, he should be good to go."
How's that benevolent dictatorship working out for ya?
(Thanks, Laura!)Previously: Warrantless wiretapping explained by Snuggle the Security Bear ... Grimly hilarious cartoon about telecom immunity and warrantless ... Read the rest
Speaking of using hexane to extract oil from soybeans: Apparently, back in 1981, the Ralston-Purina plant in Louisville, Kentucky, illegally discharged hexane vapors into the city sewer system—leading to a series of explosions that destroyed two miles of sewer line. Luckily, this happened super-early in the morning, meaning lots of people were woken up, but nobody was killed. (Via Dr. Kiki Sanford) Read the rest
Richard Metzger interviews Kim Fowley, "record producer, rock impresario, songwriter and musician. Manager of The Runaways, Animal Man and the original Mayor of the Sunset Strip." The video includes gossipy details about Sly Stone and Doris Day; Sonny and Cher; Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, Gene Vincent and more. (Dangerous Minds) Read the rest
Yet another reason Yoko Ono is awesome: she loves to collect rare books, and feels that going to antiquarian book fairs can be as thrilling as going to a horror movie (though the experience is of course not one of horror, she says). What got her started on the path of bibliophilia? "My father was my influence. John Lennon was a lover and a collector of old books, as well. He was an avid reader, which is not known so much." (Book Patrol) Read the rest
Troy Smith, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, was charged with assault and battery charges after allegedly using a 4 foot long ball python as a weapon. The victim is Jeff Culp, 47, who was staying in a hotel room near Smith's room. From WSOC (Wikimedia Commons image):
Culp and his wife Nancy are staying at the Executive Inn on Anderson road. On Tuesday night, Culp said he asked his neighbors a few doors down from him to turn down their music. Culp exchanged words with one of them, and said a while later, that neighbor, Smith, came back holding a python.
"He just walked up and tapped me on my shoulder, and stuck the snake in my face."
But it was worse than that. Culp said Smith pinched the snake's head so its mouth opened, then touched his face with it, and even stuck it partially into his mouth.
The incident nearly made Culp sick. "I fell down and crawled back here into my room. I took a shower for three hours last night. I just can't stand those things touching me," he said.
Classic Gojira clips cut to the Blue Oyster Cult anthem. Hope YouTube doesn't yank it for copyright issues any time soon, because it's making my day. Last night's South Park reminded me (BA-BOO-RAAAAH, BA-BOO-RAAAHH!). Read the rest
Once upon a time, there were slaughterhouses on the island of Manhattan. But, even in the 1870s it wasn't easy to move a herd of cattle through New York City, so that job was done underground. Now, Gothamist has found evidence that two of the "Cow Tunnels" that took cows from dock to death may still exist below 12th Avenue at West 34th St. and West 38th St. Exploration, ahoy! Read the rest
Remember Eyjafjallajökull? Iceland's "lazy" volcano that was the site of wacky wiener roasts and beautiful photos featuring the Northern Lights? In that last post, reader Nash Rambler predicted that Eyjafjallajökull was simply "unmotivated" and would someday "graduate from college, throw out the bong and Snoop Dogg posters, and wipe out an Italian city".
Well, not quite. But it has managed to ground all air traffic in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Yesterday, Eyjafjallajökull erupted, sending up a huge ash plume that's forced flight cancellations all across northern Europe, for fear that large particles in the plume could clog jet engines. The UK's air traffic control service told the BBC that this is the worst airspace restriction in living memory. The eruption itself apparently melted large chunks of a glacier, forcing 800 Icelanders to flee flooding. So far, it doesn't look like there've been any deaths.
Whatever it's up to, Eyjafjallajökull is certainly photogenic. More great pictures on Flickr.
Thanks to our own Arkizzle for the tip-off!