Monthly Archives: May 2010

World Map of Touristyness

A world map of tourism hot spots. Cleverly made using uploaded photos on Panoramio. One of many excellent graphs, charts and timelines etc on informationisbeautiful.net , including but not restricted too; pop culture time travel timelines, Beatles self reference chart, the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill put in perspective. Be sure to check out the older posts.

Update: check out this for touristyness maps of cities but with different colours for locals and tourists.

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Plastiki!

A freerange Associate Nathaniel Corum who works at Architecture For Humanity has been involved with the design of the Plastiki boat seen in the diagram below.    This is a remarkable project with a boat that is almost entirely designed from recycled plastics.  The project aims to educate the world about various environmental issues including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is the horrifying floating rubbish island twice the size of texas floating in the pacific, and other environmental causes and recycling opportunities.   Its also a pretty remarkable example of how resource scarcity can inspire the best of human creativity.

They have set sail on a 17 thousand k journey from San Fran to Sydney, currently 69 days through and well into the Polynesian Islands.  Go Well.

Check it out. Care of the NY Times.  Check the main Plastiki website here.

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Trickstery Bike Activism

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London Zoo speaks up to protect living fossils from mining in NZ

Looks like New Zealanders are not the only ones who want to protect our conservation land from proposed mining projects. London zoo conservationists are calling for people to make submissions to the Ministry of Economic Development’s Schedule 4 Stocktake.

They are concerned about the threat that mining would pose to the survival of two native frog species. They call the Archey’s frog and Hochstetter’s frog living fossils:

“Archey’s frog is currently ranked top of ZSL’s EDGE of Existence amphibian list, making it the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibian on the planet. Described as a “living fossil”, Archey’s frog is almost indistinguishable from the fossilised remains of frogs that walked amongst the dinosaurs 150 million years ago.

“In the year when reducing biodiversity loss is high on the political agenda, it is inconceivable to think that we’d put the nail in the coffin of some of our rarest and most extraordinary frog species,” say Helen Meredith, EDGE of Existence amphibian conservation projects coordinator at ZSL.”

Read more here

Mining on conservation land seems to me to be an easy option for the government, they are looking for land to mine and using conservation land is easier than private land. They don’t have to buy it, no pesky landowners to convince or bully off it. They have no issue bullying their own staff however. Department of Conservation staff have been asked not to talk to non-govt organisation Forest & Bird because of recent leaks of information about mining proposals. So much for transparency in the development of policy. I suppose that never really happens does it…?

So if you care about this issue, you have until Thursday 26th of May to make a submission. Let make a fuss!

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Facism and tyranny in Australia

I try not to use the words in the title of this blog lightly, like genocide and other strong words if they are thrown around loosely they lose the power to represent the truly awful things that humanity periodically does.  I live in a nice country called Australia, it is a vast land full of minerals and a vibrant multicultural society.  It does however occasionally show a remarkable streak of aggressive nasty politics. The post below from Norightturn tells the story of the Australians government vindictive reaction to the exposure of bad policy.

“Wikileaks is a public interest website devoted to exposing information governments want to keep under wraps. Last year they leaked the Australian government’s secret internet blacklist. The leak was deeply embarrassing for the government, as it exposed just how tawdry their blacklist was; alongside the material it was meant to be banning, it also included

a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.

Its a perfect example of the mission creep and false positives which mean that we cannot trust any government to block the internet. The government’s retaliatory action – blocking Wikileaks – underlined the point. But today, they went one further, cancelling Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s passport.

Assange is an Australian citizen. but he has now been effectively forbidden to travel overseas by his government, apparently because he embarrassed them.

This violates the freedom of movement affirmed in the ICCPR, to which Australia is a party. But the Australian government doesn’t care, and as they have no equivalent of our BORA, that right is unenforceable. Which is another example of why they need strong, enforceable human rights legislation now.”

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Doing it DIY

Over the past couple of days I have indulged in some meandering through the wide world of the wed and discovered some inspiring blogs and sites all about making things yourself at home. I think I should follow my nose on the net more often… it usually feels like a waste of my time but now I think maybe I’ve been missing out!

It started when I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to make some clothes for my new little niece. She suggested that I check out Tiny Happy a blog by an NZ mother about things she likes to make and do. This led me to a blog called Elsie Marley and then one called Indie Tutes. I found these blogs really inspiring because I like to make things and it’s wonderful to hear about other people who make things too. Most people don’t make stuff, most people just use stuff. I am a puppeteer and both make and perform with puppets of all kinds. In general I try and make them in the cheapest way possible. Mostly because I can’t afford to spend money on the craft yet (puppetry isn’t a profession know for its high salaries) but also because I like to let the materials that I make puppets from speak to me about the character that will come into being.

Reading these blogs, in particular the Indie tutes one, got me thinking about recycling and creativity. The woman who writes this blog has many kids clothing designs that are all about reusing old adults clothes. Like a pair or trousers made from the sleeves of a mens shirt. Really cool idea and makes me realise how lazy most of us are with our approach to recycling the things we no longer need. Sewing ones own clothes is no longer a cheap thing to do, it’s definately cheaper to head down and buy a t-shirt from Bonds that was made in china that to make one yourself. But when you are creative about the way you do it, and if you can use it as an opportunity to reduce waste, then it’s a fantastic thing to do.

My sister is going with using cloth nappies for her baby and we are about to embark on making some inserts and parts of nappy systems ourselves. I have been surprised to find some websites that teach you how to make your own nappies! Considering the cost of fancy cloth nappies and of disposables, not to mention the amount of waste they generate, we are going to give it a go.

I have been watching my flatmate here in Wellington build a compost system, and a set of shelves and gardening beds all out of waste wood. Mostly pallets from out the back of the supermarket. I don’t know if he would rather use new wood or not, we can’t afford it anyway. But it’s good to know that the veges we are eating didn’t use any more trees.

So, I would encourage you all to be a little creative in your lives this month. It is May after all. Maybe you will cook some new dish from all those weird left over veges in the fridge, or make a monkey from a pair or socks… it’s up to you! And thanks to all the generous sharing of ideas from so many creative people on their blogs.

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And something terrible, the BP Gulf Oil Spill

I started looking at photos of the oil spill at the BP Deepwater Horizon rig and found these. And then this. Seeing pictures really makes you realise how futile efforts are to contain the spill and how wide in scope it is.

BP has finally released footage of the spill point underwater. Terrifying…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/richard-adams-blog/2010/may/13/video-deepwater-horizon-oil-spill

And see more photos here

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Beautiful morning faces

Just wanted to share this little piece of beauty.

Insects with morning dew on them taken by Polish amateur photographer Miroslaw Swietek. Amazing! See more here

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The rise of Urban Farms

An urban Farmer called Will Allen in Milwaukee has just been named on Time magazines list of 100 most influential people. Times are surely a-changing when a proposal for multi-story urban farms is getting such international attention. Allen received a $US500,000 Genius grant from the Catherine T. McArthur Foundation, he is now trying to raise 7 to 10 million dollars to make  a 5-story 2000 square metre prototype.

It’s time to stop dreaming and start building, Allen said.

Allen, 61, for years has been calling attention to the widespread existence of “food deserts” in cities across America, where whole communities lack access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food, and underserved populations have high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.Full Article here.

I reckon this is awesome and if anyone has a spare 7 million lying around this seems like a good cause.  Freerange 2 touched on a lot of issues relating to this with its theme of Gardening and Violence. Have a look.

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“Floods, drought, climate change and even war are all directly related to the way we are treating dirt”

I hate grocery shopping. Even at the holiest of “health”/”whole” food stores, I find refrigerated produce depressing, I find bulk foods sourced from faraway places unnerving, packaged dried pasta disturbing. Is there something wrong with me? Do other people experience this kind of thing?

The other night I watched the new documentary “Dirt! The movie” and it made me cry. It made me realise that there is definitely something dreadfully wrong; it’s the link between food degradation, land degradation and human degradation. And I don’t just mean that supermarket food grown in dead monocultured soil is lacking in nutrients and loaded with toxins. Industrial agriculture is killing displaced people who can no longer live off the devastated, desertified, pesticide-ridden, infertile land. It’s no wonder that I find the experience of buying food so damn depressing, I’m contributing to mass genocide and total destruction. It’s also no wonder that we’ve all moved to the city. More of us in cities than ever before, looking for ways to make money to eat because being a farmer and living out in the country just became way too expensive.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

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