Geography Facts [via David Angsten]


More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska ..


The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% the world's oxygen supply.

The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States ...


Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.

Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica . This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it, ice.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

Best Weather Map Yet! [via Vicki Hake]

This is the coolest thing! Just move your cursor around the map and see what the current temperatures and weather conditions are in cities all over the country!


Swiss solar innovator wins Millennium Technology prize [via Nina Reznick]

Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Wednesday, 9 June 2010 17:44 UK

Artist's impression of a Gratzel cell
Gratzel cells mimic natural plant photosynthesis

The inventor of a low-cost solar cell that could be used to build electricity generating windows has been awarded this year's Millennium Technology Prize.

Professor Michael Gratzel of the Lausanne Federal Technology Institute received the €800,000 (£660,000) prize at a ceremony in Helsinki.

Professor Gratzel's innovation mimics the way plants turn light into energy.

Two British inventors also won prizes of €150,000 (£124,000) each.

The three shortlisted entries were all vying for the world's biggest technology prize, which is awarded every other year by Finland's Technology Academy.

Big honour

Professor Gratzel expressed his excitement to BBC News: "It was a wonderful experience to win the grand prix, and of course a tremendous honour".

"The constraint of solar energy has traditionally been its price. 'Gratzel cells' provide a more affordable way of harnessing solar energy," said Dr Ainomaija Haarla, President of Technology Academy Finland.

"Gratzel's innovation is likely to have an important role in low-cost, large-scale solutions for renewable energy."

You could think that the glass of all high-rises in New York would be electricity generating panels

Professor Michael Gratzel Millennium Technology Prize winner

Explaining his inspiration, he said: "I was always intrigued by the way plants capture sunlight and turn it into fuels like sugar.

"Natural photosynthesis was the inspiration, and our solar cell is the only one that mimics the natural photosynthetic process."

Gratzel cells rely on nanotechnology to produce power from sunlight. "We are using nanocrystal films in which the particles are so small, they don't scatter light," said Professor Gratzel.

"You can imagine using those cells as electricity producing windows.

"Electronic paper, cheap organic solar cells and illuminating wall paper are examples of the revolutionary future products his work has made possible," it said.

Gratzel cells have recently been launched in consumer products, including as battery charging backpacks, and Professor Gratzel said that the €800,000 prize would benefit his research and go back into science.

The shortlist

Both the other shortlisted nominations for the prize were British inventors, each of whom won €150,000.

Professor Sir Richard Friend of the University of Cambridge invented organic Light Emitting Diodes, which Finland's Technology Academy said was "a crucial milestone in plastic electronics".

"Electronic paper, cheap organic solar cells and illuminating wall paper are examples of the revolutionary future products his work has made possible," it said.

And Professor Stephen Furber of Manchester University is the principal designer of the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor, an innovation found in gadgets ranging from Apple's iPhone to Microsoft's Zune. The Academy said it "revolutionised mobile electronics".

It said: "The ingeniously designed processor enabled the development of cheap, powerful handheld, battery-operated devices".

Previous winners of the prize have included Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is widely credited as having invented the web, and Professor Shuji Nakamura, who invented blue and white Light Emitting Diodes.

How Will Mel Gibson's Latest Rants Affect Jodie Foster's Beaver?

by Marc Malkin
Read more:

Jodie Foster may be regretting giving her ol' pal Mel Gibson a job.

Foster is currently putting the finishing touches on The Beaver, a dramedy she not only directed, but costars in with the embattled actor. Gibson plays a man who develops a friendship with a hand puppet.

With Gibson's reputation taking a hit, it's not looking good for the $20 million flick...

An insider tells me that Summit Entertainment, the studio releasing Beaver, is at a standstill. "They don't know what they're going to do," the source said. "It's sort of a wait-and-see until Mel makes his next move."

Foster has yet to comment on Gibson's recent troubles or how it will affect the film. "Jodie is not available at this time," her rep said. "She is in post on the movie."

Our source said that research conducted by Summit before the Mad Max star imploded showed movie-goers were ready to forgive and forget his problems of the past and see the film. Despite reports that the film had a release date, Foster's rep said it "was not yet dated before all of the current news."

A rep for Summit did not comment.

Even if Beaver bombs, Summit has apparently already recouped Foster's $20 million budget through foreign sales, according to our source.

No word yet if anyone has asked for their money back.

Global Zero: A World Without Nuclear Weapons

Sign the Declaration

"WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, believe that to protect our children, our grandchildren and our civilization from the threat of nuclear catastrophe, we must eliminate all nuclear weapons globally. We therefore commit to working for a legally binding verifiable agreement, including all nations, to eliminate nuclear weapons by a date certain."

+ Next Steps to Zero

April 2010: In Prague, Presidents Obama and Medvedev sign historic  treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals

April 2010: In Prague, Presidents Obama and Medvedev sign historic treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals

KUNMING, CHINA [via Vicki Hake]

The red land of the eastern river is a place where one almost can not find it in China's tourist maps. Even if there is, it has only a few words to introduce it.

It is located in the southwestern part of KUNMING, 2600 ft. above sea level, a remote area.

Because of its lack of infrastructure, transportation problem, inadequate lodging facilities ordinary travel agency would not think of going there.

Even the people living there are not so aware or familiar with its existing beauty. But for those who have seen the pictures of the Red land , no one can resist being attracted to its beautiful scenery! Just like a painting of a great magnificent landscape


Here's a few pictures I took at our June event. There's one of the morning assembly line at Brentwood Presbyterian, one of volunteer Alec wrapping things up as we were about to hear Tom's speech, one of the room full of backpacks set to go out that day, and one of the Covenant House where I went to deliver bags.

Morning assembly line

Backpacks ready to go

Alec helping us wrap things up

The Covenant House in Hollywood

Lila French Art Display at Libration Yoga

LILA FRENCH — The "Van Nuys" Collection
June 16 - August 10, 2010
Liberation Yoga, 124 S. La Brea Ave. 90036

25% of sales from the show will be donated to Yoga Gives Back, a great non-profit involved with dedicated to helping alleviate poverty in India through microfinancing. (You could also just make a donation to YGB in any amount.)

You can view more info and a few photos on Lila's web site!

Germany could kick fossil fuel habit by 2050: study [via Nina Reznick]

BERLIN | Wed Jul 7, 2010 10:11am EDT

(Reuters) - Germany could derive all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050 and become the world's first major industrial nation to kick the fossil fuel habit, the Federal Environment Agency said on Wednesday.

Germany is already a global leader in renewable energy and exports green technology around the world.

It gets 16 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources -- triple the five percent level it had 15 years ago.

"A complete conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is possible from a technical and ecological point of view," said Jochen Flasbarth, president of the Federal Environment Agency as he presented a new study to journalists on Wednesday.

"It's a very realistic target based on technology that already exists -- it's not a pie-in-the-sky prediction," he added, saying the timetable could even be accelerated with new technology breakthroughs and a greater public acceptance.

Thanks to its Renewable Energy Act, Germany is the world leader in photovoltaics with half of the installed capacity. It expects to add more than 5,000 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity this year to a total of 14,000 megawatts.

Germany is also the world's second-biggest wind power producer after the United States. Some 300,000 renewable energy jobs have been created in Germany in the last decade.

The government has set goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 to 2020, and by 80 to 85 percent by 2050. That goal could be achieved if Germany switches completely to renewable sources by 2050, Flasbarth said.

About 40 percent of Germany's greenhouse gases come from electricity production, in particular coal-fired power plants.

Flasbarth said the Environment Agency's study found that switching to green electricity by 2050 would have economic advantages, especially for the vital export-oriented manufacturing industry. It would also create tens of thousands of jobs.

"The costs of a complete switch to renewables are a lot less than the costs to future generations that climate change will cause," he said.

Last month a report by the UK's Center for Alternative Technology said Britain could eliminate all its carbon emissions by 2030 by overhauling its power supply.

(Editing by Maria Golovnina)


Andrea Atchity McKeown, 54, of Stilwell, Kansas, was carried to our Lord in the arms of the angels on June 30, 2010 after a valiant fight with lung cancer. She was born on October 12, 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri. She married Richard McKeown October 9, 1976 and together they operated McKeown Sign Co. for over 30 years. Everyone will remember Andrea for her devotion to Rick , her family, their dogs Meggie, Buddy and Buster, and for her love of cooking. She was also a devoted caregiver to her parents. Andrea was preceded in death by her parents Fred and Myrza Atchity. She is survived by her husband Rick McKeown, their children Bart McKeown, Susan Anstein, Amy Taylor, Jill Gibson and Sara McKeown, and eight grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers and sisters Ken Atchity and wife Kayoko, Fred Atchity and wife Jan, Mary Atchity Calhoun and Laurie Atchity Dressman and husband Marty. A celebration of Andrea's life will be held at 11:00 a.m.

Friday, July 2, at Mt. Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home, 10507 Holmes Road, with visitation one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Contributions may be made in memory of Andrea McKeown to Kansas City Cancer Center Charitable Fund, 1055 Broadway, Suite 130, Kansas City, Missouri 64105. Condolences may be made at Mt Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home.

10507 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, MO 64131. (816) 942-2004 Published in Kansas City Star on July 1, 2010

ARE YOU AN IDIOT? [via Mary Calhoun]


1. You cannot stick your tongue out and look up at the ceiling
at the same time.

2. All idiots, after reading #1 will try it.

3. And discover #1 is a lie.

4. You are smiling now because you are an idiot.

5. You soon will forward this to another idiot.

6. There is still a stupid smile on your face

I apologize for this but I'm an idiot and I needed company.

"Why do writers write? Because it isn't there."
Thomas Berger via Michael A. Simpson