Forest Gardening

Yesterday’s USA Today included a very interesting little item on reforestation plans – plans which could lead to the planting of 18 million acres of new trees pursuant to a “bill passed by the US House of Representatives in June.” (Compare this, however, to the 26 million acres of forests to be lost to development by 2050, according to the US Forest Service’s Ralph Alig, in the absence of any legislation or other initiatives.) Unfortunately, despite a variety of extraneous links, the article, Climate Plan Calls for Forest Expansion, does not link to the EPA analysis which it uses as the basis for its reporting, or the specific bill analyzed. I have yet to track either down with confidence. If and when I do, I’ll let you know.

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hidden Treasures

Wired has a wonderful little slide show featuring hidden treasures Behind the Scenes at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History, including a Carolina parakeet, a trilobite fossil unearthed by the discoverer of the Burgess shale, a gynandromorph butterfly, a southern gastric brooding frog, and more.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Back to School


Yesterday (for grades K-6 and 9) and today (for grades 7-8 and 10-12) are the first day of school in Haysville USD 261.

If the first day of school has you thinking of sending an apple along with your child for his or her teacher, you may be interested to learn that 9.9 billion apples were produced last year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, up from 9 billion in 2007. (Nearly half of all these apples were grown in the state of Washington).

There are a few other facts you may also find of interest:

Students — In October of 2007, the latest year reported by the US Census Bureau in Student Enrollment in the Current Population Survey, 76 million children and adults were enrolled in schools from nursery school to colleges and universities, 27 percent of the entire population aged 3 and older. 56 million were attending classes in elementary through high schools (grades K-12). Among 3 and 4 year-olds, 55% were enrolled in schools. Among 3 to 6 year-olds enrolled in kindergarten, 71% attended all day. And an average of 31 million children each month participated in the national school lunch program last year.

Back-to-School Shopping — Last August, according to the US Census Bureau’s report on Monthly and Annual Retail Trade, bookstore sales totaled $2.4 billion (more than in any month other than January), while spending at family clothing stores reached $7.6 billion (exceeding every month except December).

Colleges – 19 million students are projected to be enrolled in American colleges and universities this year, up from 13.5 million 20 years ago. 15% of these students will be age 35 and older, while (in 2007) 49% of all 18 and 19 year-olds were enrolled in college. Among these students, 55% of all undergraduates and 60% of all graduate students are women.

Teachers and Schools – In 2008 there were 7.2 million teachers in the United States, 2.9 million teaching at the elementary and middle school level. They taught at 98,793 public schools (in the 2006-2007 school year) and 28,213 private schools (in the 2007-2008 school year). In 2007 4,352 institutions granted college degrees.

Expenditures – In 2007, public expenditure on public elementary and secondary students was $9,666 per pupil. Kansas expenditures per pupil were $8,988 that year – 29th in rank. (For a full 144-page report, see Public Education Finances 2007.)

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Cash Clunker

At the University of California Energy Institute, Christopher R. Knittel (an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Economics) has issued a revealing 13-page paper on The Implied Cost of Carbon Dioxide Under the Cash for Clunkers Program. In a nutshell, the analysis suggests that costs per ton of carbon removal exceed $200 – and may even approach $500. Even the minimum figure is more than 10 times the current cost of carbon credits in Europe, indicating that Cash for Clunkers is a grotesquely expensive way to achieve greenhouse gas removal. For a brief discussion of the paper see this article in Science Daily.

Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm  Comments (1)  

On Second Thought: Banning Harry Potter

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban

Writing in the Religion section of a recent issue of the Boston Globe, Michael Paulson addresses the controversies surrounding J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books, and avers “how the boy wizard won over religious critics – and the deeper meaning theologians now see in his tale”. It’s a theme not unfamiliar to those who have observed the censuring, censoring and banning of other books.

This year Banned Books Week will run from September 26th to October 3rd. (We’ll soon have more announcements about events and programs at the Haysville Community Library during Banned Books Week.)

Want to learn more about Banned and Challenged Books? Visit the website of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, or their Frequently Challenged Books page. For a listing of recently challenged or banned books, including those of the Harry Potter series, see Books Challenged & Banned in 2008-2009 and Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008.

Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Victoria Crater, Mars

Victoria Crater, Mars (MRO) 1

This remarkable image, captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, offers an aerial view of Victoria Crater, Mars — the crater which Mars Rover Opportunity explored over the course of nearly two years, until last August.

For more information about this image, see this page at the NASA MRO website.

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aspiring Library Cats

Aspiring Library Cats, Daphne Doodles & Gingerbread

Aspiring Library Cats, Daphne Doodles & Gingerbread

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  

On Books, #10

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
— Joseph Brodsky

Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Haysville City Budget 2010

At the most recent City Council meeting on August 10th, the Haysville city budget for 2010 was approved unanimously. For the complete budget as approved, visit the city website or go straight to the 105-page text here.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

As the Wind Blows

Wind Technology 001

The US Department of Energy has issued its 2008 Wind Technologies Market Report, a 68-page document focusing upon the US wind industry.

During the past year, the report notes, wind power contributed 42% of all new US electrical generating capacity, second only to natural gas plant capacity added. More than 8,500 MW of new capacity, and $16.4 billion in investment, shattered the previous records established in 2007. This is the fourth consecutive year in which the US has led the world in new windpower generation capabilities. But whereas Denmark supplies nearly 20% of its total electric power demand with wind energy, Spain 13%, Portugal 12%, Ireland 9% and Germany 8%, total US windpower capacity supplies only 1.9% of national electricity consumption.

Kansas ranked 4th in windpower additions in 2008, adding 450 MW of capacity, bringing the state into 11th place (with 815 MW) in production capacity. Windpower constitutes 6.7% of the state’s total generating capacity.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Library Road Construction

Construction work on South Hays in front of the new library has picked up again, with a large crew at work on curbing. Despite appearances, the north parking lot remains open to library patrons.







Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Red Clothing and Shoes Donation Boxes

The red clothing and shoes donation box across from the old library on Grand

The red clothing and shoes donation box across from the old library on Grand

If you, like me, have wondered about the proliferation of red clothing donation bins in the metro area, this early April item from KWCH explains the basics. You decide what you think of it, and whether you’ll be making your contributions to this enterprise.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment