Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A LoveBug for your valentine

I first came across Hilary Pfeifer's blog when she took part in the International Turning Exchange 2006. Hilary describes herself as a mixed-media sculptor, making small wood parts that are assembled into larger sculptures.

Two years ago she did an installation of 1500 lovebugs at the Fuller Craft Museum and later at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Now you can get a pair of these lovebugs mailed to the love of your life just in time for Valentine's Day.

Dolphins at play

The content of this blog has been getting a bit depressing lately, so something a little lighter today:

Blowing ring bubbles

Monday, January 28, 2008

More reasons Harper needs to go

Coming fast on the heels of the Chalk River nuclear fiasco in which the government overuled then fired the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Mr Harper has decided that he doesn't need any advice from scientists. This man is unbelievable in his arrogance. I thought the Liberal party were bad enough, but this regime is totally out of control.

No science in the PM's ear: Canada dismisses National Science Adviser

One of the comments in the post above suggests that Harper gets all the advice he needs from Washington. I suspect he also takes a fair bit from some whacko interpretation of the bible.

Another troubling aspect of his character is highlighted by Elizabeth May who reports that all the art in the Government Lobby at the House of Commons has been replaced by photos of Harper.
[Update: confirmation of this by Kady O'Malley, and the Ottawa Citizen seeks a comment from a Harper press aide]

Is Canada safe with this man as leader?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The cost of advertising

Have you ever thought about how much it costs it costs to advertise to you? Not the cost to the advertiser, but the cost to you?

Every weekend a bunch of flyers gets pushed into my mail box. They end up in a blue bag and get hauled off to the dump where I think they get sent on to a 'balefill' facility in another county. I don't know if or when they actually get recycled.

This morning the flyer collection weighed 200grams. This was actually a light load, am I am sure that at other seasons we regularly get twice that amount or more. But lets stick at 200g. Over the course of a year that is 20kg. There are 18,000 households in Pictou County, so that comes to an annual total weight of 360 tonnes.

Don't forget that is just one county. How much would this be for the whole of Nova Scotia, or Canada. Bear in mind too that most of this advertising trash comes from large corporations, not small local retailers, so much of the economic advantages of flyer advertising flows out of the local community.

Who pays for collecting and processing all this? I bet it's not the advertisers or the printers. It's you and me through our municipal taxes. And of course the cost of your blue bags.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rethinking biofuels

I am pleased that the EU are rethinking their policy of encouraging biofuels.

The Royal Society has just published a report (Adobe PDF File, 788kb), which Professor John Pickett, Chair of the study discusses in this video:

Wikipedia has a lengthy article about Biofuel, and lots of links to references on the subject, so I won't go into all the details. But do beware of claims that biofuels are 'green'. The only real problems they solve are those of fuel security and peak oil. Their carbon neutrality is debatable, and certainly not all biofuels are created equal. Their other environmental consequences are very real, and a full field to forecourt analysis needs to be done for each fuel type.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The cost of wasted food

I just read an interesting news release from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme, an organisation in the UK), Food Waste Set to Soar over Festive Season.

I find the figures rather hard to believe. It works out at 8.5 pounds per person. The article raises a lot of questions, such as how do they arrive at the statistics, how many days does the Festive Season include, and do the figures include waste from food retailers? Elsewhere on their website they look at annual waste and say:

In total food waste in the UK is around 18 - 20 million tonnes, with household food waste making the single largest contribution (6.7 million tonnes).

Retailers are believed to generate about 1.6 million tonnes of food waste, food manufacturers about 3.5 million tonnes, with food service and restaurants producing about another 3 million tonnes. The remainder comes from the agricultural and horticultural sector, and commercial food waste (e.g. from hospitals, schools, etc).

However accurate the figures are, it does make good points about the environmental impact of producing, storing and getting the food to our homes. They calculate it is equivalent to taking 1 in 5 cars off the road in the UK. Food is wasted because we either cook or prepare too much, and we let food go off. Love Food Hate Waste is their campaign to reduce waste.

WRAP have a number of other initiatives, including the Courtauld Commitment which aims to reduce waste from retail packaging, including looking at ways to extend shelf life of food products.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008