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With all the pressing problem our country faces, House Republicans have decided that energy efficiency just doesn’t make American sense. Introduced by U.S. Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas) who is, frighteningly, the the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Michael Burgess, (R-Texas), the BULB (Better Use of Light Bulbs) Act seeks to repeal the Bush-era Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The 2007 act, contrary to the Texas dynamic duo’s belief as a “de facto ban on the incandescent light bulb that has its origins in Thomas Alva Edison’s laboratory”, merely requires new bulbs to use 25 to 30 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs starting in 2012, and 65 percent less energy by 2020. There is no language in the original 2007 act that bans incandescent bulbs, even if it should have. Read the rest of this entry »
Even if real streets are not becoming any more hospitable to cyclists, the virtual ones sure are. Today everyone’s favorite online map rolled out bicycling navigation as a native feature of Google maps. The bike routing is available in 150 cities, Chicago included, and also shows bike trails in addition to bike-friendly autoways. As a test I looked up my favorite local ride, Northwest on Elston to the Milwaukee/Devon/Superdawg intersection to pick up the North Branch Trail (unfortunately, there are no trail labels on Google maps yet) for a mostly uninterrupted, 16-mile jaunt to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, which I just noticed is mislabeled as ‘Botanical’ on Google maps. Conversely, I looked up the most death-defying bike route in San Diego, this bike lane abruptly ends at a freeway off ramp just north of Little Italy on India Street. Biker Beware. Read the rest of this entry »
Is capitalism only relevant when it drives prices downward? If one chooses to purchase an item that is more expensive than its competition, for whatever reason, have we crossed a threshold to complacent pretension? A recent New York Times article, by Anand Giridharadas, purports that activism through purchasing power, lovingly referred to in the article as ‘buycotting’, is somehow disengaging us with real political activism. Going on to say that today’s fancy consuming is a “sign of how corroded citizenship has become that shopping is the closest many of us are willing to come to worrying about labor laws, trade agreements, agricultural policy.” The article also conflates the purchasing of green energy offsets with humanely raised wool, which are obviously two disparate forms of consumption. Instead of a slippery slope to political inaction, the very existence of a value minded consumer proves that capitalism (a word mysteriously missing from the NYT article) is evolving into a more humane form of economics. Read the rest of this entry »
Water Hazard is an ongoing architectural research project by moss. We are studying water related issues to become better stewards of this most precious resource. Below is the latest dispatch. (This report was originally published by moss in March of 2005)
The United States is home to more than 23,000 golf courses, by far the most in the world. A large number of courses are located in the west and southwest regions of the country; regions that are in severe drought . In addition, most golf courses are only available to a select few that can afford green fees and access the course. This would not pose such a problem if golf courses did not consume a surfeit of natural resources that are important to the survival of the public. Courses consume an enormous amount of land (an 18 hole golf course of 6200 yards or more would require 110 to 180 acres of land ), and water for decorative features and irrigation. California alone boasts 912 golf courses, second only to Florida which is home to over 1,100 courses . Therefore, California, looking right in the face of severe drought, uses over 164,000 acres of mainly urbanized and irrigated land for golf courses; that equates to 256 square miles, or roughly the size Memphis, Tennessee. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, baloney is more of a real meat substance than whatever is used to concoct a whopper. This sign was spotted outside of at least five Memphis area Burger King locations. Sounds like someone needs a refresher on how CAFO’s operate?
So, the name of the blog. Strawbales are nothing new and, no, they are not to be confused with hay. Straw is the dried stalk of a cereal plant after the grain has been removed, an agricultural by-product. They typically clutter the ubiquitous landscape of the rural world and are usually burned by the farmer as a way to rid themselves of the nuisance.
Here is an opportunity to make use of a waste. An ethic we must subscribe to more frequently as we are fast depleting places to dispose of waste.
Another piece of the design world that needs better exploration is the food system. Outside influences have contributed to the dereliction of our food delivery system, probably best explained here and here. However, how to fix that system is oft described as a repair of the metaphorical link between people and their food. My common frustration is the lack of design intervention in the conversation. There is no reason why everything we build, inhabit, etc does not have an edible component. Read the rest of this entry »