“Bobolinks, called skunk blackbirds in some places, were once a common sight in the Eastern United States. The birds are being poisoned on their wintering grounds by highly toxic pesticides. Rosalind Renfrew, a biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, captured bobolinks feeding in rice fields in Bolivia and took samples of their blood to test for pesticide exposure. She found that about half of the birds had drastically reduced levels of cholinesterase, an enzyme that affects brain and nerve cells — a sign of exposure to toxic chemicals.
“What should you put on your bird-friendly grocery list? Organic coffee, for one thing. Most mass-produced coffee is grown in open fields heavily treated with fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. In contrast, traditional small coffee farmers grow their beans under a canopy of tropical trees, which provide shade and essential nitrogen, and fertilize their soil naturally with leaf litter.
“Organic bananas should also be on your list. Bananas are typically grown with one of the highest pesticide loads of any tropical crop. Although bananas present little risk of pesticide ingestion to the consumer, the environment where they are grown is heavily contaminated.
“When it comes to nontraditional Latin American crops like melons, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers and strawberries, it can be difficult to find any that are organically grown. We should buy these foods only if they are not imported from Latin America.” via nytimes
“Ugly men, according to research published this week, are a safe bet when it comes to love. Marry an ugly man and he will never tell you your bum looks big or turn his head to gawp at prettier women. Why? Because he is so grateful that you even look in his direction. Or so the experts tell us. According to scientists at the University of Tennessee, if you choose a facially challenged male then you are going to have a happy life. The study suggests that most ugly men who married attractive women were happy to bask in the glory of their partner’s beauty and enjoyed the prestige of having a beautiful wife. How depressing for anyone planning to stroll up the aisle with a half decent bloke on their arm. You’re destined for a life of misery. But marry Quasimodo and every day will be bliss.”
This is so true. (The grotesque proprietor of this blog awaits proposals from any fetching beauties.)
“Whether you are a Mac person or a PC person, even the briefest exposure to the Apple logo may make you behave more creatively, according to recent research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada. In work to be published in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Professors Gavan Fitzsimons and Tanya Chartrand of Duke, and Gráinne Fitzsimons of Waterloo, found that even the briefest exposure to well-known brands can cause people to behave in ways that mirror those brands’ traits.”
So now, does that mean seeing a Swastika can make you act more like a Nazi? Does symbol association with brand traits go in bad directions? I think the Verizon logotype makes me want to barf…
“Grain edit is focused on classic design work from the 1950s-1970s and contemporary designers that draw inspiration from that time period. Site content includes interviews, articles, designers’ libraries as well as examples of rare design annuals, type specimens, Ephemera, posters and vintage kids books from our bookshelves.”
“Renowned French designer Philippe Starck says he is fed up with his job and plans to retire in two years, in an interview published in a German weekly on Thursday. “I was a producer of materiality and I am ashamed of this fact,” Starck told Die Zeit weekly newspaper.”
“Cool your carbon consequences with CarbonCool, AIGA’s unique carbon offset program for designers and their studios. You can offset your individual lifestyle, your family’s lifestyle, the impact of your studio or even a single flight. The cost of offsets includes two expenses:
AIGA’s direct investment in carbon-reducing projects through one of its partners
An informational campaign on sustainable practices for AIGA members, the design community, the business community and the public.
AIGA does not use any portion of the offset purchase fees for staff costs, overhead or indirect expenses.
The offsets offered are estimates based on reasonable profiles of activity levels, calculated using systematic analytic tools. Estimates will vary depending upon assumptions.
As an AIGA CarbonCool participant, you will receive a CarbonCool-branded, embossed certificate and an easel to display your commitment, as well as the permission to use the digital AIGA CarbonCool logo for one year.
“We all have an innate ability to think in pictures. Well over half the sensory neurons in our brains are oriented towards vision. It is far and away our most sophisticated sense. Designers spend a lot of time studying such things as composition, color, drawing, sketching, all of which are approaches that take advantage of our innate ability to think visually. This is something almost completely missing in business.” Dan Roam”—The Disposable Business Plan
“This is a historic find, the earliest known recording of sound,” said Samuel Brylawski, the former head of the recorded-sound division of the Library of Congress, who is not affiliated with the research group but who was familiar with its findings. The audio excavation could give a new primacy to the phonautograph, once considered a curio, and its inventor, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer who went to his grave convinced that credit for his breakthroughs had been improperly bestowed on Edison.”
“As the world grows more populous — the United Nations projects eight billion people by 2025, up from 6.6 billion today — it also is growing more prosperous. The average person is consuming more food, water, metal and power. Growing numbers of China’s 1.3 billion people and India’s 1.1 billion are stepping up to the middle class, adopting the high-protein diets, gasoline-fueled transport and electric gadgets that developed nations enjoy.” via WSJ
“This year, San Francisco, Orlando and Washington all received their first scheduled nonstop flights to Dublin on Aer Lingus under a related transitionary arrangement. And Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, the Irish no-frills carrier, has said he plans to start a new airline that will fly from secondary European markets like Liverpool or Birmingham to a half-dozen American cities like Baltimore or Providence, R.I., for a base fare as low as 10 euros, or about $16 at $1.59 to the euro.”
“In the age of global warming, the greening of the American college campus is a largely grassroots effort driven by students, faculty, and in-house staff dedicated to sustainable thinking.” via Metropolis
“This whole China thing we’ve been hearing so much about? The pace, scope, and scale of building? The contrasts and ironies? Mind-blowing. But it took me a few days in Beijing last fall to really get it.” via Metropolis
Why I liked John 10 years ago when I first met him.
"What were some of the ideas you introduced during the search process that got them jazzed about you?
One thing that put people at ease is that I’m a technologist but I don’t like technology. I’m a very conservative thinker in terms of art and design. I believe in the fundamentals, the classics. But at the same time, I’m pragmatic about the future and willing to ask, What’s going to happen twenty years from now? I can see it coming. So I’m asking the question, How do you connect quality, which is represented by the classics and tradition, with the question mark of the future? How do you ask that and avoid the common situation worldwide in all art and design schools, who say, “Hey, we need a computer lab. We need a hundred Macs, or they should all run Adobe, this/that.” The world is working in a very homogenous space of expression. So how do you get beyond that? You do it by not playing catch-up.” via Metropolis
“Every working day for the past 20 years, Suresh Kanwar, a civil engineer in Chandigarh’s Forestry Department, has been sitting on the same battered wooden chair, an object he said had “no beauty” even if it was, “for office use, very comfortable.”
Hazarding a guess as to its value, he suggested 400 rupees, or about $10, “perhaps, at a junkyard.”
A pair of chairs identical to Mr. Kanwar’s, instantly recognizable to collectors as Pierre Jeanneret teak “V-chairs,” will go on sale at the auction house Christie’s in New York this month with a reserve of $8,000 to $12,000.” via nytimes
60 percent of total non-industrial waste generation.”
Hundreds of coal-fired power plants, a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, are currently on the drawing boards in the United States. According to one report, 76 percent of the energy produced by these plants will go to operate buildings.”
In the United States, residential buildings account for approximately 1,210 megatons of CO2 per year while commercial buildings are responsible for approximately 1,020 megatons of CO2.”
I did a more up to date analysis of my yearly energy use and carbon output recently and I agree with this study. If I could make my home very energy efficient (more insulation, more efficient appliances, cut natural gas use, solar for electric, etc., etc.) it would be the biggest impact by far on cutting my carbon output. My car would be next but, after that, I can’t cut much more beyond that since I have already done the rest!
“Does coffee in a flimsy cup taste worse than coffee in a more substantial cup? Firms such as McDonalds and Starbucks spend millions of dollars every year on disposable packaging, but a new study suggests that trying to skimp in this area might not be worth it — and may negatively impact consumers’ perceptions of taste and quality.”
“THE 63-year-old mystery surrounding the death of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the celebrated French aviator and author of the beloved book Le Petit Prince, has finally been solved. An 88-year-old Luftwaffe veteran has confessed to shooting down the writer’s plane over the Mediterranean on 31 July, 1944. Saint-Exupéry was last seen alive when he took off in his Lockheed Lightning P-38 from Borgo air base in Corsica at around 14:30. He was 44 when he died and his body has never been found. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have fired,” lamented the former Luftwaffe pilot, Horst Rippert, who greatly admired the author and kept the secret of how he died until he was tracked down by a German historian.” via The Scotsman