27 September 2007

More NYTimes Coverage of China's Economic Boom and Environmental Woes

Excerpt from the NYTimes front page article today:

"For the Communist Party, the immediate challenge is the prosaic task of forcing the world’s most dynamic economy to conserve and protect clean water. Water pollution is so widespread that regulators say a major incident occurs every other day. Municipal and industrial dumping has left broad sections of many rivers “unfit for human contact.”

Cities like Beijing and Tianjin have shown progress on water conservation, but China’s economy continues to emphasize growth. Industry in China uses 3 to 10 times more water, depending on the product, than industries in developed nations.

“We have to now focus on conservation,” said Ma Jun, a prominent environmentalist and author of “China’s Water Crisis.” “We don’t have much extra water resources. We have the same resources and much bigger pressures from growth.”

In the past, the Communist Party has reflexively turned to engineering projects to address water problems, and now it is reaching back to one of Mao’s unrealized schemes: the $62 billion South- to-North Water Transfer Project to funnel 45 billion cubic meters, or 12 trillion gallons, northward every year along three routes from the Yangtze River basin, where water is more abundant. The project, if fully built, would be completed in 2050. The eastern and central lines are already under construction; the western line, the most controversial because of environmental concerns, remains in the planning stages.

The North China Plain undoubtedly needs any water it can get. An economic powerhouse with more than 200 million residents, the region has limited rainfall and depends on groundwater for 60 percent of its water supply. Other countries have aquifers that are being drained to dangerously low levels, like Yemen, India, Mexico and the United States. But scientists say the aquifers below the North China Plain may be drained within 30 years."

17 September 2007

How amazing is Andrew Bird?

I've recently fallen in love with a musician named Andrew Bird. He's a violinist, a mandolinist, a glockenspielist, a guitarist, and a phenomenal whistler, among many other things. And, best of all, he does all of these things in one song by looping back. His lyrics can be enigmatic at times (according to Andrew himself, he just says words that feel right), but at other times there is so much subtle meaning.

Here's one of my favorites, called Imitosis:

He's keeping busy
Yeah he's bleeding stones
With his machinations and his palindromes
It was anything but hear the voice
Anything but hear the voice
It was anything but hear the voice
That says that we're all basically alone

Poor Professor Pynchon had only good intentions
When he put his Bunsen burners all away
And turning to a playground in a Petri dish
Where single cells would swing their fists
At anything that looks like easy prey
In this nature show that rages every day
It was then he heard his intuition say

We were all basically alone
And despite what all his studies had shown
That what's mistaken for closeness
Is just a case of mitosis
And why do some show no mercy
While others are painfully shy
Tell me doctor can you quantify
He just wants to know the reason why
The reason why

Why do they congregate in groups of four
Scatter like a billion spores
And let the wind just carry them away
How can kids be so mean
Our famous doctor tried to glean
As he went home at the end of the day
In this nature show that rages every day
It was then he heard his intuition say

We were all basically alone
Despite what all his studies had shown
That what's mistaken for closeness
Is just a case of mitosis
Sure fatal doses of malcontent through osmosis
And why do some show no mercy
While others are painfully shy
Tell me doctor, can you quantify
The reason why?

Watch him in live performance. He does some interesting rhythm and variations of the lyrics, so that you aren't going to see him just play the same version of the song that you'd hear on the CD. Maybe it's just that he was a violinist from the age of four (and I love string players), but he is one of my all-time favorites. And he won me over pretty quickly, considering I just downloaded his albums two weeks ago.

He was in my area just last week, but I missed it because I was sick, didn't have a ride, and didn't have time to convert my friends to love his music. Next time...

12 September 2007

In sickness and in health

I've made a pact with myself to begin the school year in good health. Despite this minor setback of a cold that I've just come down with, three weeks into the year (so soon!), I'm determined to eat healthy, sleep well, and get all of my daily nutrients. Who says you can't be healthy in times of stress with constant access to free pizza?

My priorities are as follows:
  1. Eat balanced meals with at least two servings of vegetables and fruit (this should be more, but it's so hard to get good fruit and veggies on campus)
  2. Take my Centrum vitamins, from A to Zinc!
  3. Chew my calcium chocolates
  4. Drink a cup of soy milk or eat several yogurts as daily snacks
  5. Go to the gym at least three times a week
Alright... so far I've been doing this each day, more or less. It's not a rigorous study, but I have data to back my methods up: just three days ago, I came down with what threatened to be a bad case of the common cold. I had chills, aches, and what I think was a fever (without a thermostat, I really can't tell). But three days later, I'm in the last stages of the cold, with all of my previous energy restored. Hooray! All it took was a lot of sleep, vitamin C, and a lot of ginger and lemon tea. That last part is key, according to my sister--and I believe it now.

Here's to staying healthy for the rest of the year. Hoping I don't get sick again this semester...

05 September 2007

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fundraiser

Help me fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! I'm walking 2 miles for the Light the Night Walk next Tuesday, Sept. 11 in honor of all the kids who are afflicted with cancer, and especially in memory of a great little buddy I had while volunteering at the hospital, who passed away last spring. Anything you can contribute, from $5 to $1 will help!

Donate here!

I'm only $10 short of my goal of $200, so help me out!
Thanks. :)