Monday, October 29, 2007

chengdu news roundup

i just found a wire service that comes up with a pretty comprehensive seeming collection of news bits based on search queries you enter.

some of these i found interesting:

-the university of utah will open a joint cooperation with sichuan university (where i attended for a semester). says the son of some guy who donated $100,000 to the program, "This will be an opportunity for people who want to learn about China, who want to learn about the mysterious East that many have read about and thought about."

how '00s.

-fuel-price inflation finally hits china. it's about time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

it might be lack of sleep, but i find this article hilarious

Msnbc advises all of America how to be paranoid freaks in

Soap up! The 12 germiest places in your life

Among the tastier of quotes (italics are mine):

"There are often traces of E. coli or fecal bacteria on the faucets and door handles because it’s hard to wash hands in the tiny sinks. And the volcanic flush of the commode tends to spew particles into the air, coating the floor and walls with whatever had been swirling around in it."

"After using the toilet, wash and dry your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to handle the toilet seat, lid, tap and doorknob. Put the lid down before you flush. If there’s no lid, turn your back to the toilet while flushing and beat a hasty retreat."

"Transfer wet laundry to the dryer quickly so germs don’t multiply, wash underwear separately (there’s about a gram of feces in every pair of dirty underwear) and dry for at least 45 minutes. Wash your hands after laundering." [Ew. Ew. A gram? Never mind that the stat immediately calls to mind visuals of other substances usually weighed out in such units lurking in one's briefs; perhaps people should just put more effort into effective wiping habits rather than freaking out about the two-second transfer from washing machine to dryer.]

"Many stores have dispensers with disinfectant wipes near the carts. If your store doesn’t, bring your own wipes and give the handle a quick swab. Or carry along a cart cover like the Grip-Guard or Healthy Handle." [OK, what the hell? I know I've been out of the States for a while, but seriously. It's come to this?]

"A recent study tested various surfaces for the cold virus after a group of sick people had stayed overnight and found the virus on the remote, door handles, light switches, pens and faucet handles.

Reduce the risk: Clean the remote control, phone, clock radio, door handles and light switches with germicidal wipes."

[Yeah, I'm glad we have the resources to conduct studies that can make the brilliant conclusion that "a group of sick people" contaminated a room they stayed in. And now everybody, run out to your local Wal-Mart and stock up on germicidal wipes. Since when was "germicidal wipe" even a term?]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

energy efficiency

From a report by the American Public Transportation Association:

"The research shows that when compared to other household actions that limit carbon dioxide (CO2,), taking public transportation can be more than ten times greater in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas. It takes one solo commuter of a household to switch their daily driving to using public transportation and he or she can reduce their household carbon footprint by 10 percent. If one household’s driver gives up that second car and switches to public transit, a household can reduce its carbon emissions up to 30 percent.

"'Encouraging use and expanding public transportation should be a part of our national strategy to address global climate change,' said James L. Oberstar, U.S. Congress (D-MN), chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 'The report provides further evidence that public transportation is one of the most important tools to minimize carbon output, help the environment and assist the nation in achieving a sustainable transportation system.'

"'Congress has yet to have a serious, comprehensive debate about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change,' said Peter DeFazio, U.S. Congress (D-OR), subcommittee chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 'As the APTA report shows, however, increasing use of public transportation will be central to the discussion about how to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, which is something that I will pursue as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.'

While it is very important to employ environmentally-friendly household activities, commuting by public transportation makes a more substantial impact. An individual switching to public transit can reduce their daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds; that’s more than 4,800 pounds in a year. This is far greater than the many actions people are being encouraged to take, for instance;

  • Home weatherizing and adjusting the thermostat for heating and cooling saves 2,847 pounds of carbon per year. Transit use saves almost twice the carbon.

  • Replacing five incandescent bulbs to lower wattage compact fluorescent lamps saves 445 pounds of CO2 per year. Transit use saves more than ten times the CO2.

  • Replacing an older refrigerator freezer with a high efficient one saves 335 pounds of CO2 per year. Taking public transportation saves more than fourteen times the carbon.

"'Public transportation use should be at the top of the list of ways for households to become greener,' said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). 'Switching to public transit gives a person the opportunity to immediately become part of the solution to help reduce carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas.

"'Commuting by public transportation is one of the most significant actions a household member can take to reduce their carbon footprint,' Millar added.

"The research points out that due to increases in vehicle miles traveled, the problem of pollution from vehicle emissions is accelerating. Greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources have grown 27 percent from 1990 to 2004. Autos and light duty trucks represent about 61 percent of the total mobile source of greenhouse gas emissions. The report says single occupancy drivers switching their work commute to public transportation is one of the more effective ways to reduce the nation’s vehicle miles traveled while reducing harmful carbon dioxide.

"'While it is good public policy to require more fuel efficient automobiles, increasing the use of transit can have a more immediate impact on our nation’s transportation fuel consumption,' said Millar. 'It could take twenty to thirty years to see a complete turnover of the vehicle fleet. A household does not need to go to the expense of buying a new vehicle to make a difference; they can simply take advantage of the nation’s existing bus or rail services to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint.'"

I guess I can pat myself on the back: no central heating or air in my flat; haven't driven a car in over five years; no refrigerator; (for that matter no oven or clothes dryer, either)--so the only major things are light bulbs, computer, water heater (gas), stove, and low-capacity washing machine (no hot water).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

boxing comes to chengdu

In what seems to be a never-ending slew of international sporting events coming to Chengdu (most notably the FIFA Women's Cup last month), last night brought the World Boxing Association 86th Conference to the Sichuan Stadium.

As we got a hold of ten free tickets, I decided to go to my first professional sporting event in China along with the rest of Team CHENGDOO and some friends.

It was actually pretty fun, although the stadium was half-empty, and the first couple of hours were spent watching ho-hum matches between mostly lightweight male boxers--China vs. France, China vs. China, China vs. Thailand.

But things heated up when the big event of the night--the female super flyweight (115 lbs.) match between China's Zhang Xi Yan and two-time champion Ha Na Kim from Korea--got underway. With fanfare involving flags and national anthems, the ladies came out to the ring, spectators rose to their feet, and the punching began.

While the previous matches--all between men--saw a grand total of one knockout, Zhang had Kim on the floor several times, much to the delight of her fellow Chinese nationals, and most everybody else in the crowd as well.

The match ended with Zhang, not surprisingly, taking the title, after having beaten Kim in every single round.

A nice start for China, who enters the international boxing arena with this groundbreaking event--the first of its kind to be held in the country.

a sad, scary, and infuriating article

A Quest for Energy in the Globe’s Remote Places

The New York Times reports on "energy companies ... going to the ends of the earth to find new supplies."

Among the choicest of quotes:

"And the politics of oil and gas are getting trickier, with producing countries demanding a bigger share of the revenue and growing angry about project delays that postpone their payments."

"'We’re facing bigger risks and bigger difficulties when we go into new frontier regions,' said Odd A. Mosbergvik, a senior manager at the dominant Norwegian energy company, StatoilHydro. 'But this is why the oil industry is for big boys. It’s a big gamble.'"

"There is plenty of oil and gas still in the ground, energy executives say. But global consumption is rising so fast that they must keep looking for new sources. Despite worldwide concern over global warming and the role of fossil fuels in causing it, United States government specialists project that global oil and gas demand will increase by some 50 percent in the next 25 years.

"At the same time, the big discoveries of the last three decades, like those in the North Sea and on the North Slope of Alaska, are drying up. ...

... And consumption is rising fast in the economically booming Asian countries."

"Hans M. Gjennestad, strategy manager at Statoil for the Barents region, said, 'We believe this resource potential may contribute significantly to the long-term security of supplies of Europe and the United States.'"

Yes, the big boys.