Our national policy for disaster recovery and rebuilding – putting aside, for the moment, risk assessment, mitigation, planning, and response – is effectively no policy. We make it up as we go along.  Did victims of terrorism on September 10, 2001, or beforehand receive compensation? Did airlines before 9/11 get special legislation absolving them of […]

From Reuters reporting on the BP oil spill trial;  First spill trial witness: BP put cost cuts over safety. BP Plc fostered a culture that put cost-cutting over safety before the deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a noted forensic engineer said in the first day of testimony in the federal civil trial centered […]

The keen-eyed folks at Inhabitat have identified a useful way of re-using wooden pallets; you can read about this furniture project, developed by James Higginson –  turning pallets into cabinets. Not for beginners, we think, but in any case it’s inspired: the pallets are common, are abandoned as soon as they’re damaged, and, it’s clear, […]

There’s a proposal pending in Texas which would effectively decertify Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider. Andrea Grimes, an investigative reporter who writes about reproductive and women’s health issues at RHRealityCheck, made inquiries as to the actual availability of health care to women on Medicaid in the Austin area. Grimes used as her criterion the […]

The Anna Maria Blog reported here [Australian] Mining magnate Gina Rinehart intends to bring in semi-skilled migrants to work in her mines.   She doesn’t want Australian workers because our wages are too high so she’s had a brilliant idea – bring in desperate people from other nations willing and overjoyed at the opportunity to […]

Florence Fabricant’s article,  DINER’S JOURNAL; Food Stuff: Keep the Hacksaw In the Garage, from the Style Section of the New York Times, caught my eye, and fired up my imagination in regards to citrus and other fruit drinks in the heat. Neatly slice that blushing peach or that ripe tomato bursting with juice. Cut thin […]

This is from Valdis Krebs’ Visual Complexity. This is an example of Edward Tufte’s proposition that evidence, clearly and honestly arranged, ends up being beautiful. This image was created by Valdis Krebs of Orgnet– via Visual Complexity See also HealthMap.

Latest Updates on Hurricane Irene By ROBERT MACKEY On Friday, The Lede is tracking preparations for the expected landfall of Hurricane Irene, a powerful storm heading for the Northeastern United States. Auto-refresh is: ONTurn ONTurn OFF Refresh nowUpdating…FeedTwitter 5:46 P.M. |Even if Storm Weakens, Flooding Could Be a Problem Jeff Masters, a founder of the […]

Tweet  “Irene is especially worrisome … because of its uncommonly massive size. According to Ron Steve, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Wilmington Office, Irene covers an area of approximately 170,000 square miles, or about the size of California or Iraq.”  Star News Online. The storm had a 400 miles north to south and […]

Fire Engineering ,” The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the adoption of 11 NFPA standards for emergency responders by DHS. The newly adopted standards will set requirements to assist federal agencies and state and local officials responsible for procuring equipment and services used by emergency responders. […]

Because plastic bags are light and compressible, they constitute only 2 percent of landfill, but since most are not biodegradable they will be there for decades. According to the International Herald Tribune, “By ‘bagging it,’ Ireland rids itself of a plastic nuisance“by Elisabeth Rosenthal, There is something missing from this otherwise typical bustling cityscape. There […]

We like Craig Fugate as head of FEMA, and was confirmed by the Senate late today after Senator Vitter (R, LA) released his hold. Choice to Head FEMA is Confirmed (Associated Press via NY Times). We believe that Mr. Fugate is responsible for the best definition of a “disaster” – an emergency is a bad […]

From this morning’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Scott Simon’s essay, Captains of Integrity. Even if you’re a regular listener – it’s worth reading on the page for the essay itself, as a reminder that at times the production values of radio – and a familiar voice – can prevent us from catching the full power of […]

Insufficient numbers of users and industries exist in most of Alaska to support large-scale utilities. Distribution systems must be constructed in very rough country, which increase costs and accessibility for repairs….Alternative small-scale power systems have a place in rural Alaska. Potential improvements in power distribution, generation and efficiency are available to residents of Alaska. Distribution performance can be improved by the use of small-scale power generators. Smaller generators can be placed much closer to the actual point of power consumption. Disruptions to the power supply are reduced and access for line repairs is much easier. Short power lines lose less power in transmission, and the power delivered is also “cleaner”, since there are fewer opportunities for broken insulators and lightning storms. The generation of power is changing with improvements to technology. Small-scale power generation can take many forms. At a village level, there are gas or diesel fired co-generation systems available. Co-generation means there is an effort made to produce power efficiently and utilize the waste heat for community needs. Fuel cells are becoming feasible. Communities that gain access to new natural gas pipelines may make good use of these. Hybrid generation systems seem to make good sense for rural users. A primary generator is powered by diesel or natural gas. By using a computerized inverter, large banks of storage batteries are charged while the generator is running. During periods of low consumption, the generator shuts down and the household runs off of power inverted from the batteries.

Duct tape. Wrapped around a piece of a drinking straw. And there are other variation – see the comments on this brilliant post Make Your Own Pocket Duct Tape Dispenser. By Brad Isaacs on LifeHacker. Brad Isaacs is the creator of the blog Persistence Unlimited.