World Prison Population. (50KB PDF) by country, 2003. Though only 4% of the world’s population lived in the U.S. in 2003, the U.S. held 23% of the world’s prison population — more than any other nation.
World Prison Population
>  25 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in ,
cu @ my rally. Presidential candidates in Uganda drum up support with thousands of ‘personal’ text messages.
>  25 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in
No Oil for Sweden. “Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years — without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.” Bring in the biofuel, bring in the renewables. (via)
>  9 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
txt mob. In the New Zealand Herald: “Syrian protesters who burned and looted the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus were encouraged to organise by the Syrian authorities, and received text messages from Islamic study centres urging them to gather. ‘The sheikhs told us to send five text messages to every true Muslim we knew urging them to participate,’ said a student from the Abu Nour Islamic Institute in Damascus.” And Radio Sweden: “The attack in Damascus followed SMS text messages which falsely claimed that people in the Danish capital Copenhagen planned to burn copies of the Moslem holy book the Koran.” (via)
>  7 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in

It’s the Politics, 2

The LA Times ran a great editorial last week in response to Bush’s State of the Union address. It chided him for hyping research, spending, and technology over policy and implementation.

Robot Love

“By and large, it isn’t a lack of technology that keeps the nation so dependent on oil. It’s the lack of will to use it.

Engineers have produced a basket of new technologies for making cars burn less gasoline, yet fuel standards for passenger cars in this country haven’t changed in more than two decades, and fuel economy has barely budged. Brazil has shown the way to energy independence by powering cars with ethanol made from sugar. This country, meanwhile, continues to pour billions of dollars in subsidies into producing ethanol less efficiently from corn. Advances in solar energy have made it less expensive and more reliable, yet only California is making a significant bid to exploit the power of the sun....

Technologies that could make the U.S. more energy independent sit on the shelf while the automotive industry dithers about raising the price of a car by a couple of thousand dollars (money that could largely be recouped in savings on gasoline) to raise gas mileage by about 20 miles per gallon. Bush also talked about investing in zero-emissions coal plants. Yet, after a former EPA administrator said the technology existed to reduce mercury pollution at coal-fired plants by 90% within a few years, the Bush administration issued far weaker regulations.

The energy legislation passed last year provides individual homeowners with tax incentives to install solar energy units, but it does nothing to lure builders into solar, which would have a far greater effect.

How about importing ethanol from Brazil to put more fuel-efficient cars on the road now? That would mean dropping tariffs and ending protectionism for U.S. corn growers.”

I tried to make a similar point here a few months ago, though was not as eloquent.

(via Planetizen)

>  4 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Free Yingying!

Beijing 2008 Mascots

The 2008 Beijing Olympics Committee today announced their five Official Mascots:

“Like the Five Olympic Rings from which they draw their color and inspiration, the Five Friendlies will serve as the Official Mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, carrying a message of friendship and peace — and blessings from China — to children all over the world.

Ying YingDesigned to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends, the Five Friendlies also embody the natural characteristics of four of China’s most popular animals — the Fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow — and the Olympic Flame.”

That’s the same Tibetan Antelope now teetering on the edge of extinction — endangered by infrastructure development and poaching. (Its wool is some of the finest in the world.)

The character is intended to project an image of happy diversity:

“His head ornament incorporates several decorative styles from the Qinghai-Tibet and Sinkiang cultures and the ethnic design traditions of Western China.”

Students for a Free Tibet, however, notes another agenda:

“The Chinese authorities’ plan to use the Tibetan antelope as propaganda purporting the unity of the nationalities in China in order to distract from the reality that China has illegally occupied Tibet for more than 50 years can be seen clearly in the statements made at the mascot unveiling ceremonies. According to Liu Qi, head of the Olympics organizing committee, the mascots ‘reflect the cultural diversity of China as a multi-ethnic country... and the enthusiasm and aspirations of our people.’

The Tibetan antelope is not a Chinese symbol and is being used to legitimize China’s occupation of Tibet.”

SFT is encouraging letters to Mr. Liu Qi. For more, see the SFT and Human Rights Watch campaigns on the 2008 Olympics in China.

>  12 November 2005 | LINK | Filed in , ,

NYPD Trackback

Yesterday saw a hit to this entry in my referer log from ‘’ using a Google Blog search for ‘nypd.’ Is that the NYC Office of Management and Budget?

Given the petty things friends have been arrested for lately, I should probably be more paranoid than I am, but I think this is a good thing.

Not quite eDemocracy (and who knows how the information will be used) but it’s nice to know at least someone’s checking the comments and complaints box.

At least amongst bloggers.

>  28 October 2005 | LINK | Filed in , , ,


Danish anti-war posters hit Iraq:

“On Friday, Iraqis started hanging over 1000 posters created by the artists in the most populous and important quarters of the capital, including the diplomatic Green Zone in the very heart of the city. Artist Claus Rohland, 50, explained to why he and fellow artist Jan Egesborg, 40, had got involved and what message they hoped to send to ordinary Iraqis.... ‘We as Danes are part of this so-called coalition and are taking part in this war. But Denmark is a very small country that has not been at war for many years. We need to question what we are doing and what is happening,’ Rohland said. ‘None of the warring parties — neither US-led forces nor Iraqi rebels — present a solution to this war. The ultimate solution needs to come from ordinary people. It may sound naive, but we would encourage people to keep faith in themselves that a final solution rests with them.’”


North Dakota has no plans to alter Sioux logo:

“The NCAA considers the logo and nickname ‘hostile and abusive,’ and has ordered the school to cover up all Fighting Sioux references for the NCAA playoffs. The arena, which operates separately from the school, is holding the West Regional hockey tournament in March. [Jody Hodgson, arena manager,] said there are no plans to alter any logos, which can be found on floors, walls, seats and railings. Eliminating them would be too expensive, he said.”


Electronics industry urges federal e-waste action:

“A nine-member panel appearing before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on environment and hazardous materials expressed concern that the current trend of varied state and local laws targeting e-waste management would breed inefficiency, confusion and higher prices for consumers.... The best approach, [Renee St. Denis of Hewlett-Packard] said, is for federal lawmakers to create a system in which the manufacturers themselves set up recycling programs and bear the necessary costs.”


Deal for Public Toilets in New York City. Only 20 toilets, but it’s a start. The winning company will rebuild all city newsstands and bus shelters, too — and sell the ad space. Not sure how I feel about a private corporation owning all that public space — but then the NYC gov pays nothing. More on the the long history of trying to build public toilets in NYC here and here.


Alcaldía favorece proyecto de biogas. Nicaragua’s biggest garbage dump in the Barrio La Chureca in Managua could be used to create enough electricity to illuminate the nearby municipality of Ciudad Sandino. The joint U.S.-Nicaraguan company Conjuris says they can create four megawatts of electrical energy from the gases emitted by burning the garbage. The company is willing to invest US$5.25 million in the project in return for a twenty year contract.


It’s great to see graphic designers come together at, the AIGA, and Design Observer to help other graphic designers affected by Hurricane Katrina. I’m all for community and solidarity. But then it’s really not the professional designers that are hurting the most, no?


Only one more month until the October 31 deadline to submit your radical graphics to Reproduce & Revolt. And it looks like Favianna has joined the project!

>  23 September 2005 | LINK | Filed in , , , , , , , , , ,

Papers in the Dark is a grassroots campaign to alter the design of U.S. currency to make denominations recognizable without purely visual cues:

“Can you tell the difference between a one dollar and a twenty dollar bill in the dark?

Dim BillsBlind people use money just like everyone else, but since American paper currency is all the same size and texture, blind people can’t tell the bills apart independently. We all deserve the personal security of knowing what’s in our wallets.

Even those with sight would benefit from making paper money accessible by feel

  • It would simplify paying the bill and counting change in a dark restaurant
  • It would make it safer to get out money for an upcoming toll while driving
  • It would allow everyone to count money more discreetly in public

Please write or call your Congresspeople now! Our Contact Congress Tool makes this fast and easy.

... is an independent volunteer organization committed to the dream of having currency that all Americans can use safely and independently. Our first job is to educate the public about the positive effects of being able to differentiate between bills without having to look at them. We hope that one day we all will be able to count the money in our wallets more discreetly, no matter who we are or where we are, without the fear of being cheated or robbed.

The U.S. Treasury Department doesn’t have to invent any special technology to make our currency more accessible. In fact, they’ve already done it in roughly 100 countries around the world, including Canada, Great Britain, and the countries of the European Union (see The American dollar is one of the most powerful currencies in the world. We are committed to making it safer and easier for everyone to use.

We are not affiliated with any other organization. We do not actively solicit donations.


In 2002, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department demanding that U.S. paper money contain features that will enable blind people to independently distinguish between denominations. The government is continuing to fight the suit, claiming that such modifications would be too expensive.

The Treasury protested that this would cost too much because it would require redesigning the currency — but in the meantime, they have spent millions of dollars to redesign nearly all of the denominations in circulation! As the Treasury continues to develop new bill designs with new anti-counterfeiting features, they should include accessibility features useful to blind people, people with dyslexia, and people who work with cash in low light.”

Making design usable by a differently-abled minority (old, young, tall, short, sighted, not, or otherwise physically different) often makes it more usable by all.

>  18 September 2005 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

It’s the Politics, Stupid

I’m still new to the literature of sustainable design, but I find again and again that much of the writing consistently ignores the political, addressing the social only peripherally, usually in the analysis but not in the response. Instead the authors pursue solutions based on individual design and purchasing choices or through technological fixes — creating cool new materials or processes — hoping the market will sort things out once the ‘good’ is cheaper than the ‘bad.’

Is this a matter of expedience? Cynicism? Organizing to set standards or pass legislation is messy and slow and often involves other people.

And yet so many materials and processes already exist around us. Why they are not used more pervasively is, I think, a political problem.

The same technologies are generally available in the U.S. as the E.U. And there’s no doubt the E.U. is light-years ahead of us down the path towards sustainability.

And yet, even among those pursuing “market” oriented solutions, folks seem focused on making new, better, cheaper things rather than intervening in the market to, say, make the polluting more expensive. The former approach ignores the huge subsidies and political weight of industries invested in the old ways of doing things.

Still, if one wanted to pursue a market-based solution, why not require the Federal Government to purchase such products — say, requiring all government printing use a percentage of recycled paper. This would create an enormous demand for ecological goods and ultimately lower the prices of such.

But folks seem to focus on individual choice rather than industrial requirement, ignoring the power of the State altogether. Yeah, cleaner technology is cool and good, but I’m not convinced we we can just invent ourselves out of, say, deforestation without shaping the force of law.

And how to pressure the State? Building a movement is hard. Grassroots organizing is slow. And battling clients every day certainly makes me want to focus on making things instead of dealing with other people. But something’s got to give.

>  5 August 2005 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

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