Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Challenging conventional wisdom in Kansas and Louisiana

Hello friends of the urban wilderness. I've been silent for a couple weeks, away from my computer - in Nicaragua. I recommend taking a computer-free vacation now and then. It's very relaxing.

I haven't had time to write anything new, but I'm catching up on two weeks of old news. Apparently Nicaragua isn't the only hot place in our hemisphere! Check out this story from the NY Times on doing without air conditioning, even in the heat: No Air-Conditioning, and Happy.

The only air conditioning I felt for the last two weeks was in the vehicles that I rode in - and not all of them! So, I can relate very well to that story. I can't help recalling my youth, when we had no air conditioning. Somehow we survived. Of course, fewer people lived year round in Florida or Arizona back then for that very reason.

The other story that caught my attention is about challenging conventional wisdom regarding events in the gulf, which don't seem to have changed much in the weeks since I left. This one is also from the NY Times: Daring to Pose a Challenge to the Oil Culture. This is a topic I reflected on myself in an earlier post.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A beautiful evening on the Milwaukee County Grounds

I've been recovering from an ankle injury for four weeks and yesterday I got the doctor's OK to go outside without the "walking cast." It's been frustrating not to get out to the county grounds or along the rivers for a month, as those of you who know me can imagine. So, to celebrate my release, I spent a couple hours watching the sunset and the changing clouds and lighting conditions on our newest county parkland. Under the circumstances it was even more delightful than usual. Here are three sample images from my experience.

Chicago River story in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Here is the second of a two part series the Journal Sentinel did this week about the Chicago River, the city's sewage problems, the Asian carp, and the fate of the Great lakes.

A Chicago Solution: Think Big

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fast Food Drive Throughs

A little story in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about drive-throughs at fast food restaurants caught my eye. In Baldwin Park, CA, where the drive through was first conceived in 1948, the city has decided to ban any more of them.

Now, I fully admit that I’m a bit weird but I personally never use a drive through to obtain food. Of course, I don’t consider fast food food either. I will stop for frozen custard now and then, but I always park my car and go inside for it. I say this because the one thing that I find most objectionable about drive-throughs is not even mentioned in the story: all those cars waiting for food are running their engines and therefore using more oil and contributing more to air pollution problems.

(Full disclosure: I do occasionally pull my car up to an ATM. But only if there’s no other car ahead of me. If there is, I park and go in the bank. I sometimes come back out before the car at the ATM has left.)

I read the story about Baldwin Park in the Journal Sentinel, but their website refused to divulge it. I did find it, however, posted on the Seattle Times website. You can read it there:
City where drive-through eating began is full

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Coal & Dirty Jobs win, clean jobs & environment lose

Predictably, the politicians caved in to Bucyrus in the face of the prospect of lost jobs. Read my previous post on this by clicking here. Today’s story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is all about the great effort made by the Bucyrus CEO, Tim Sullivan, in his successful effort to save his company from the loss of a contract to build coal mining equipment for India. Sadly, there is no attempt by the newspaper to question the larger issues of coal production and use that are at stake here, nor any suggestion that dirty jobs in the coal industry can be (let alone should be) replaced with clean jobs in renewable energy.

For a very thorough and eye-opening analysis of this critically important issue, however, it is worth revisiting an excellent story that was published in Milwaukee Magazine last fall: King Coal.

Will the Chicago River finally be fixed? Chicago River, which has been that otherwise great city’s sewer for far too long, may be a weak link that destroys the Great Lakes ecosystem if the Asian carp isn’t stopped soon. There’s a nice, long article that explains it in detail, with maps and all, in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A Roadmap to Restoration.

They provide a photo gallery as well: Chicago River.

John Gurda on Kinnickinnic River

Removing concrete channels from rivers is definitely my idea of great news. In today's Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee’s premier historian, John Gurda takes us down memory lane along the Kinnickinnic River, which is about to undergo a major—and welcome—transformation:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Something on the lighter side?

After the success of Toy Story 3, Pixar's next sequel, sponsored by BP:
Try Finding Nemo Now!

(OK, I didn't make that one up: thanks to Jay Leno, who did.)

In the "how large a brain do we need before we learn" department, there's an interesting story in the NY Times about the size of cetaceans' brains and our responsibility for these intelligent creatures (that's whales and dolphins, btw.) Go to "Save a Whale, Save a Soul."

And to round out today's offerings, the following editorial cartoon is from David Horsey of the Seattle Post/Intelligencer: