class not dismissed

The new Harper’s (June 2007) contains a stunning and powerful “Notebook” essay titled “Climate, Class, and Claptrap,” by Garret Keizer — a minister, if I recall correctly. Keizer writes as well as Wendell Berry, but with a kind of righteous anger that the more ponderous Berry tamps down. This essay is about the contradictions inherent in the environmental community’s fast embrace of “green capitalism” and wondertoys.

The Secret of Apple Design: user-experience document

“There were three evaluations required at the inception of a product idea: a marketing requirement document, an engineering requirement document, and a user- experience document,” Norman recalls. Rolston elabo rates: “Marketing is what people want; engineering is what we can do; user experience is ‘Here’s how people like to do things.’”

I really like that idea of “a user-experience” document. Or at least the idea that the user experience – not the feature or change itself – is a documented requirement in a design. Maybe this is already implicitly part of the DCR process.

I see the user-experience as being a critical part of implementing any kind of change (not just product-related) – how do people like to do things, how do we do things now (if there is a difference) and what does this change have to do with both of those things?

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nice nytimes article about a business

A Corner Deli with International Appeal

“Our goal in 2020 is to leave our world better than it was when we came here,” he said.

Originally saw at:

What I was most taken with, however, is that that Saginaw and Wienzweig have grown this business by focusing in the quality of their products and service, and on treating their employees very well, and treating profit as a secondary goal.

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IPCC’s mitigation report

== Highlights of the IPCC’s mitigation report ==
(from Gristmill)

I want to highlight a few points from the IPCC’s Mitigation Report (PDF). First, even the most stringent global greenhouse gas targets can be met at a cost of a mere 0.1% of GDP per year! While the report is not explicit about when action should be taken, it does say that: In order to stabilize the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, emissions would need to peak and decline thereafter. The lower the stabilization level, the more quickly this peak and decline would need to occur. The Center for American Progress and I have encouraged stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentration at 450 ppm and/or a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial era. That said, according to one of the report’s charts (see page 22), reductions aimed to cut emissions 85% by 2050 must be initiated before 2015. And maybe sooner. According to the IPCC: Decision-making about the appropriate level of global mitigation over time involves an iterative risk management process that includes mitigation and adaptation, taking into account actual and avoided climate change damages, co-benefits, sustainability, equity, and attitudes to risk. … if the damage cost curve increases steeply, or contains non-linearities (e.g. vulnerability thresholds or even small probabilities of catastrophic events), earlier and more stringent mitigation is economically justified. Tucked into footnote 37 of the report, there’s a brief discussion of feedbacks that could certainly, and dangerously, be categorized as a non-linear, vulnerable threshold to which we are blind. The message of the report is clear. Countries must act, and soon. We can choose to stabilize the climate and still maintain prosperous economies. But we must make a financial commitment that just hasn’t materialized. We’ve been going backwards. The IPCC reports: Government funding in real absolute terms for most energy research programmes has been flat or declining for nearly two decades (even after the UNFCCC came into force) and is now about half of the 1980 level. At this point, that is unacceptable. The policies the IPCC has recommended have great potential and low cost. The world needs make the political and economic commitments to curb emissions. The time to act is now. This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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eat local and “foodmiles”

Another article about food and transportation costs…

AskPablo: Foodmiles

I used a cost study from UC Davis to determine the energy input versus the yield. I arrived at roughly 4.85 kg of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent units) for each kg of cherries. If we assume 500 km of transportation by semi we add 0.06 kg CO2e, or about 1.2%. If the same cherries are grown in Argentina and flown to the US (21,000 km) the emissions jump to 16.82 kg CO2e per kg of cherries, or 71.1%. Quite a difference! It is possible that the cherries would be shipped by container ship in a refrigerated compartment but then we would have to account for the refrigeration as well.

What if the cherries are dehydrated first and the transported by ship? Removing moisture from agricultural products is one way to cut back on transportation costs and emissions. Dried cherries have about 15% moisture content (vs. 75% in fresh cherries) so the CO2e from cultivation per kg of dried cherries will be higher, around 12.14 kg CO2e per kg of dried cherries. Trucking over 500 km would again add 0.06 kg CO2e, or 0.5%, but shipping by container ship over 25,000 km (more than air cargo because you can’t ship point-to-point) contributes only 0.42 kg, or 3.3%.

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philosophy of perl

From Larry Wall, creator of Perl, in 1995:

* Learn it once, use it many times

You learn a natural language once and use it many times. The lesson
for a language designer is that a language should be optimized for
expressive power rather than for ease of learning. It’s easy to
learn to drive a golf cart, but it’s hard to express yourself in

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