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Can Planting Vegetables in Vacant Lots Save Cleveland?

Can Planting Vegetables in Vacant Lots Save Cleveland? | Wired Science |

Backyard vegetables can fight crime, improve health, and boost the economy.

By transforming its vacant lots, backyards and roof-tops into farming plots, the city of Cleveland could meet all of its fresh produce, poultry and honey needs, calculate economists from Ohio State University. These steps would save up to $155 million annually, boost employment and scale back obesity.

“Post-industrial cities like Cleveland are struggling with more and more unused land, these become sources of crime,” said Parwinder Grewal co-author of a study “Can cities become self-reliant in food?” published July 20 in Cities.

“I was motivated to show how much food a city could actually produce by using this land,” he said. “We could address global problems through this way of gardening.”

Urban gardening improves health, reduces pollution, and creates local businesses, Grewal said. The population of Cleveland, what Grewal considers a typical post-industrial city, peaked near one million in 1950, and has been declining since. Today scarcely half a million people call Cleveland home.


As industrial jobs have dried up, the city’s exodus has accelerated. Unable to keep up their properties, many former residents have abandoned their homes. Vacant lots are proliferating, and currently number more than 20,000, according to the Cleveland City Planning Commission.

Ten percent of Clevelanders have been diagnosed with diabetes, as compared to the national average of 8 percent, and more than a third are obese. Among cities with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, it is the seventh most dangerous, according to one crime ranking. Growing tomatoes and beans, and keeping bees and chickens, would change all this, Grewal said. Studies have shown that gardens improve community health, reduce crime and increase property values.

Cleveland city planners have placed special emphasis on programs to foster urban gardening in the past five to 10 years, however, Grewal’s visions are on a more ambitious scale.

In the most intensive scenario he outlines 80 percent of all vacant lots, 62 percent of business rooftops, and 9 percent of residential lots would be tied to food, allowing the city to meet up to 100 percent of its fresh food needs. Grewal, who grows the bulk of his own food in his backyard, believes that his propositions are realistic and practical. The largest barrier is convincing citizens to garden.

“No discredit to the value of Grewal’s study,” said Kim Scott, a Cleveland City Planner and urban gardening specialist, “but articulating an idea is a different experience from implementing it.”

While Cleveland might have enough land to be self-sufficient, it doesn’t yet have the labor force to make it happen, Scott said.

“A mental shift has to take place,” said Scott. “Many people don’t have a clue about farming. They lack the patience to eat whole foods, they lack the desire.”

Both Scott and Grewal hope that shift is coming. Cleveland now has hundreds of community gardens. Some residents are growing market gardens, cultivating and selling produce as a full-time job. The city is seeing the grandest show of large public gardens since the Victory Gardens of World War II, when 40 percent of U.S. vegetables came from private and public gardens.

“If we could do it then,” said Grewal, “we can do it now. And if we design cities that are as self-sufficient as possible, the longer human civilization can sustain itself.”

Image: Parwinder Grewal

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Inflatable Sat antenna fits in your backpack

One Per Cent: Inflatable antenna you can stick in your backpack.

Jesse Emspak, contributor

Dish.jpg(Image: GATR Technologies)

A big issue in setting up satellite communications networks is the antennas – it takes time to set them up. In the wake of a big disaster cell networks can be damaged when the towers fall and take months to repair. For television crews and military units carrying a rigid satellite antenna can be a serious logistical problem, as even a metre-sized dish is quite heavy and difficult to transport.

Enter GATR Technologies, which has designed an inflatable 1.2-metre satellite antenna that can fit into a backpack and be carried by a single person. The company’s antenna looks something like a beach ball. It is a double-layered sphere with one layer a nylon mesh and the other made from sail material. The antenna is in the centre.

The receiving dish divides the sphere’s interior into two chambers and by applying pressure to one chamber you can push the antenna into a parabolic shape. The company already sells a larger, 2-metre version but this one is small enough to fit in an airline’s hand luggage area when folded.

GATR’s director of marketing, Dean Hudson, said the military is the major customer, though the company also hopes to get some interest from television crews who don’t want to go through the trouble of packing an entire satellite-link system up when they travel to areas without roads.

High-speed trading algorithms place markets at risk

One Per Cent: High-speed trading algorithms place markets at risk.

Jacob Aron, technology reporter

Computers that buy and sell shares in a fraction of a second are in danger of destabilising stock markets around the world says Andrew Haldane, executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England. Speaking last night at the International Economic Association in Beijing, China, Haldane said that High Frequency Trading (HFT) firms were in a “race to zero” that could increase market volatility.

HFT algorithms can execute an order in just a few hundred microseconds, rapidly trading shares back and forth in order to quickly eke out profits from minor differences on the various exchanges. These trades are so fast that the physical location of the computers executing them becomes vital – even being a few hundred kilometres away from the exchange could mean missing out. It’s commerce far removed from any ordinary experience, as Haldane illustrated with an every day example: “If supermarkets ran HFT programmes, the average household could complete its shopping for a lifetime in under a second.”

Now it seems this lightning-fast trading could come at a cost. Haldane blamed HFT for causing the “Flash Crash” which occurred on US markets last year, with the Dow Jones losing $1 trillion in just half an hour. The event was marked by trading oddities such as management consulting firm Accenture shares falling from $40 to $0.01, while auction house Sotheby’s rose from $34 to $99,999.99 – the lowest and highest values permitted by HFT algorithms.

Haldane said that the latest research shows that while HFT increases liquidity when markets are functioning normally, it has the opposite effect during more troubled times. He also built on work by Benoit Mandelbrot, the mathematician famous for inventing the word “fractal” for patterns with self-similarity. Mandelbrot showed that stock trading can also display fractal behaviour, and Haldane last night said that HFT algorithms cramming more and more trades into this fractal structure could lead to the kind of pricing abnormalities seen during the Flash Crash.

The solution? Introduce new rules to limit the speed of HFT. “Flash Crashes, like car crashes, may be more severe the greater the velocity,” said Haldane. “Grit in the wheels, like grit on the roads, could help forestall the next crash.”

The World's Biggest Environmental Crisis Flows on

the oil spill is nothing!

bill mckibben

So — whew — the bleeding seems finally to have been staunched, three months after BP stabbed its hole in the bottom of the sea.

It’s disgusting that it took that long to stitch it up, but there’s every sign that after the first few weeks everyone was working it, stat. BP tried “junk shot” and “top kill,” skimming ships and low risers; the feds went with daily briefings, multiple Cabinet secretaries, retired admirals. Some 17,500 National Guardsmen, 1,900 ships. Twenty billion dollars. “From the beginning,” said the president, “we have worked to deploy every tool at our disposal to respond to this crisis.”

Which was only right—every day that passed saw more oil spew into the Gulf. Time was of the essence.

But here’s the thing: Over that same period, if you add up all the carbon being burned in all the cars and factories and power plants, we had the equivalent of at least 5,000 Deepwater Horizons pouring carbon into the atmosphere, every minute of every day in every corner of the world. You couldn’t see it—CO2 is invisible. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less of an emergency. In fact, during the three months the spill was leaking:

* A host of federal agencies announced that the planet’s temperature was higher than in any six-month period we’ve yet observed. April, May, and June—the spill months—were the warmest April, May, and June on record, all over the world. Last month in Pakistan, they measured an all-time Asia temperature record: 129 degrees. (I can set my oven for 129 degrees).

* Scientists reported that higher ocean temperatures—all around the world—were killing off the coral reefs that harbor a quarter of the sea’s life at a record pace. In the words of a federal researcher, “this is a really huge event and we are going to see a lot of corals dying.

* Record rainfall and flooding events—of the kind tied directly to climate change by every climate model—claimed scores of lives around the world. Some, ironically, were close to the Gulf: in Nashville, in Arkansas, in Oklahoma City, along the Texas/Mexico border. But there was no live webcam, so the stories passed in a day or two. Continue reading The World's Biggest Environmental Crisis Flows on

Bankster – Corporate – Politicians I

(see also  below)

Doc Holliday said, “My hypocrisy knows no bounds” in the movie Tombstone. The same apparently is true for our current crop of Bankster Politicians, many of whom today voted against extending unemployment benefits even after they voted in 2008 for a bank bailout.

Yes, these Corporate Communists not only voted for billion dollar bailouts for companies that were about to fail due to their own terrible decisions, but then subsequently have done nothing to prevent the ongoing and future theft. By destroying this very tenet of capitalism — that the losers actually lose so that new ideas, people, companies can become winners — they have now crippled our economy and kept millions out of work.

Now when faced with giving a pittance of support to many of the same people tossed from employment by their cronyism, they have all of a sudden found ideology. Of course, considering that many of these Bankster Politicians are going to lose their jobs for this, they will try to make excuses like the following:

Unemployment needs to be paid for out of current spending!
And for some reason the bank bailouts did not? But even letting bygones be bygones, I have a suggestion — let’s use clawbacks to pay for unemployment, considering this financial crisis (a) was caused by these people and (b) is why there are no jobs.

But unemployment pays people not to work!
Well, bailing out these banks is even worse — it’s the government literally paying people ungodly sums to destroy our country. Like I’ve said before, there’s a reason why banking is an unpaid job in Monopoly — it is basically a utility rendered unprofitable by modern technology. These bailed-out banks are dangerous casinos gambling with the well-being of America, and America is losing.

Mind you, I don’t even agree with the current unemployment program in this country. I believe people should have to volunteer for a non-profit for 10-20 hours a week to qualify for unemployment. However, our vote-loving politicians like to keep their jobs by giving future generation’s money away for nothing in return.

TARP was to keep people working!
Really? Well then it’s done a terrible job of keeping people working, because unemployment is actually getting worse. The only place it’s actually saved “us” is in the imaginary crony-ist utopia of those who benefited. Their jobs plan is a lucky few of you cleaning the pools built with their $145 billion in 2010 bonuses.

TARP was just a loan and has been paid back, with interest!
I suggest you all familiarize yourselves with THE BIG TARP LIE… and make sure the politicians and media that continue to spout it become familiar as well.

Continue reading Bankster – Corporate – Politicians I

After Iraq And Afghanistan: More Of The Same — Or No Thanks?

At a rare congressional hearing Tuesday morning about how to spend less — not more — on defense, panelists raised a question that has barely ever been asked on Capitol Hill.

Namely: What lesson have we learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it that we should prepare for similar conflicts in the future, or that we should avoid them like the plague? Continue reading After Iraq And Afghanistan: More Of The Same — Or No Thanks?

Glowing algae turn Australian lakes electric blue

Glowing algae turn Australian lakes electric blue

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 7:03 PM Monday, Jul 19, 2010

shiny! .jpg

This time-lapse photo was taken in eastern Victoria, Australia, and features Noctiluca Scintillans, a type of algae that naturally produces a light-emitting chemical reaction. You can’t see it during the day, but, at night, the algae glow electric blue, illuminating portions of the shoreline where wind pushed the blooms during the day.

Call it Mother Nature’s little light-switch rave.

The backstory of this algae outbreak is every bit as interesting as the photos themselves. As told by photographer Phil Hart, this infestation of shiny is the direct result of (in this exact order) raging forest fires, massive floods and a potentially deadly outbreak of Cyanobacteria. Epic!

Check out Phil Hart’s full gallery of Noctiluca Scintillans photos.

Disabled oil rig alarm points to human failures in Gulf oil spill

V: BLOG: CONVERGENT CAUSATION< TIPPING POINT< THRESHOLD< OCMPLEXITY – signaling problems, checks and balances, regulation…

As investigators probe the Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident, it’s becoming clearer that human decisions regarding key safety equipment were part of the nation’s largest oil spill.

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An explosion on April 20 aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig working for oil giant BP, led to the largest oil spill in US history. A disabled fire alarm and critical gas venting systems set to “bypass” likely became part of a complex web of human errors that contributed to the accident


Continue reading Disabled oil rig alarm points to human failures in Gulf oil spill