Archive for May 21st, 2007

Another Kind Of Timeshift

What precious natural resource goes from wild abundance to nonexistent scarcity every 24 hours?

Since August 2005, when visits to an Eritrean village prompted him to research global access to artificial light, [Mark] Bent, 49, a former foreign service officer and Houston oilman, has spent $250,000 to develop and manufacture a solar-powered flashlight.

His invention gives up to seven hours of light on a daily solar recharge and can last nearly three years between replacements of three AA batteries costing 80 cents.

Over the last year, he said, he and corporate benefactors like Exxon Mobil have donated 10,500 flashlights to United Nations refugee camps and African aid charities.

Another 10,000 have been provided through a sales program, and 10,000 more have just arrived in Houston awaiting distribution by his company, SunNight Solar.

“I find it hard sometimes to explain the scope of the problems in these camps with no light,” Mr. Bent said. “If you’re an environmentalist you think about it in terms of discarded batteries and coal and wood burning and kerosene smoke; if you’re a feminist you think of it in terms of security for women and preventing sexual abuse and violence; if you’re an educator you think about it in terms of helping children and adults study at night.”

…Peter Gatkuoth, a Sudanese refugee, wrote on “the importance of Solor.”

“In case of thief, we open our solor and the thief ran away,” he wrote. “If there is a sick person at night we will took him with the solor to health center.”

A shurta, or guard, who called himself just John, said, “I used the light to scare away wild animals.” Others said lights were hung above school desks for children and adults to study after the day’s work.

(…)

“At a dedication ceremony for the first four schools in June 2006,” Mr. Gardner said in an e-mail message, “we noticed that a lot of the children had upper respiratory problems, part of which is likely due to the use of wood, charcoal, candles and kero for lighting in the small homes they have in Kibala.”

The Awty International School, a large prep school in Houston, has sent hundreds of the flashlights to schools it sponsors in Haiti, Cameroon and Ethiopia, said Chantal Duke, executive assistant to the head of school.

“In places where there is absolutely no electricity or running water, having light at night is a luxury many families don’t have and never did and which we take for granted in developed countries,” Ms. Duke said by e-mail.(…)

With a little research, [Bent] discovered that close to two billion people around the world go without affordable access to light.

Of all the privations that Africa is associated with, light is typically not one of them – but if you don’t have electricity or fuel, then your life pretty much shuts down after sunset. Much applause for Mr. Bent.

May 21st, 2007 at 06:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

This Was Just A Warning

Like I said, we need to leave the bees alone:

LIGONIER, Ind. (AP) — A swarm of honeybees temporarily disrupted a charity fundraising event, but no one reported being stung.

Authorities evacuated the area Saturday after the swarm of about 3,000 bees emerged from the woods around the West Noble High School football field, where 700 people were participating in a fundraising walk for the American Cancer Society.

The bees landed on a large umbrella shading the campsite of one of the more than 60 teams taking part in the 24-hour event in the town, 40 miles northwest of Fort Wayne.

A local beekeeper, Matt Green, used a smoke machine to calm the bees and coax them into a beehive he brought to the field. The event was delayed about 45 minutes.

Don’t make the bees angry. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.

Also: Bees can be coaxed into beehives other than their own? I find that surprising, but I am admittedly not an expert on bees.

4 comments May 21st, 2007 at 05:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Environment

Mama Don’t Take My Autochrome Away


Color photo by Edward Steichen. From 1908.

At first glance the two pictures seem to be gorgeous anachronisms, full-color blasts from the black-and-white world of 1908, the year Ford introduced the Model T and Theodore Roosevelt was nearing the end of his second term.

But they are genuine products of their time, rare ones, among the few surviving masterpieces from the earliest days of color photography, made using a process developed by the Lumière brothers in France and imported to the United States by the photographer Edward Steichen a century ago this year. They were taken by Steichen, probably in Buffalo, and are thought to be portraits of Charlotte Spaulding, a friend and student who became his luminous subject for the portraits, which resemble pointillist miniatures on glass.

(…)

Eastman House has a substantial collection of Steichen works, including 22 of the same kind of color photographs, known as autochromes. But when Anthony Bannon, the museum’s director, received a call last summer from a Buffalo lawyer, who said his client, Charlotte Albright, a 96-year-old painter, wanted to donate three examples of what were probably antique glass-plate negatives, Mr. Bannon assumed they were the works of her mother, Charlotte Spaulding.

(…)

Mr. Bannon said that because the photographs had sat for so long out of the light, their colors remained particularly vivid. “They’re in just as perfect a shape as you could expect from something from almost a century ago,” he said.

Autochromes are positive images, meaning they are unique and not negatives that can be used to create prints. They were made using a complex process in which tiny dyed grains of potato starch were spread across a piece of glass and light was passed through them to a photo-sensitive plate.

The three colors of the starch grains — bright blue-violet, bright orange-red and Kelly green — worked together to produce a wide range of realistic-looking colors, in the same way that combinations of red, blue and green dots produce a color-television picture.

“If you did it right, you had the basic colors you were looking at when you took the picture,” said Mark Osterman, the photographic-process historian at Eastman House.

Very, very cool.

4 comments May 21st, 2007 at 11:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Art/Architecture,Coolness

Monday Media Blogging

Oh my. Insane psychedelic music videos by Hifana, by way of Pink Tentacle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Ikay3a1Zc
Wamono.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sGi7zZSznk
Fat Bros.

Wow.

5 comments May 21st, 2007 at 07:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging


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