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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Talkback on hydrogen vehicles

Friend Curly felt his comment on Why you'll be in a hovercar before you'll drive with hydrogen
was too long for the comment area, so I'm posting it here. I'll post a response tomorrow, hopefully.
Your hovercar/hydrogen post and link made me want to write the following ... which I felt was too long for a comment but which I'm gonna say to you anyway.

AWESOME! I always wanted a hovercar!

I don't agree with the article, though.
1) Saying that the process isn't available now does not negate the benefits of the process should it be made available.
2) Most of the 80% inefficiency he's added up has to do with startup costs - pts 3&4 seem to be the biggest losses, and in both cases it seems reasonable that once the system is in place and demand grows, more efficient means will be desired and engineered.
3) Start-up does seem like the biggest hurdle. Who's the chicken and who's the egg? Unfortunately, Government would have to be both, at least to get the process started. This seems to me like the biggest argument against Hydrogen - that in order to get to a point where private companies buy in, the public would have to get things rolling. But between raising taxes and government mismanagement of funds (war ain't cheap) this seems pretty unlikely.

But these are things we have to argue for. Not find reasons to argue against.

What alternatives does Nelder offer?
a) Status Quo
b) Solar
c) Wind
To which I say:
a) No on Quo
b&c) These are great, should be improved, fit right into the Hydrogen plan, and are actually good parallels to Hydrogen as being great ideas which people avoided for years because they were "impractical" and "inefficient". Hydroelectric, Nuclear, hamsters-on-treadmills ... also similar ideas.

I feel like Nelder is trying to lead us back into the cycle of delay wherein a new technology or idea is ridiculed and denied and deemed impractical for as long as possible, right up until enough people see through the haze of rhetoric and realize that this "new fangled impractical idea" is exactly what they want. Why follow him down this path? Why not accept the logic behind desiring Hydrogen energy-currency, and use that desire to try to affect the changes that are needed to make it efficient and feasible?

A few positive thoughts from recent Iraq visitors

In a letter entitled "A War We Just Might Win," two Brookings Institution scholars discuss the effectiveness of the surge and the prospects for stabilizing Iraq, based on their recent visit.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A solar thought experiment

Update 7/30/07: Mr Rapier updated his figures, and so have I

Just how many solar panels would it take to power the entire United States? Blogger Robert Rapier takes on this hypothetical thought experiment and comes up with some interesting (and very rough) figures:

Area required: 72 miles by 72 miles 50 miles x 50 miles
Cost: $670 billion $309 billion per year over 10 years
Carbon emissions avoided: 2,375 million metric tons (a 1/3 reduction in "anthropogenic" emissions)

Context: the U.S. federal government has annual revenues of $2.4 trillion (it spends a few hundred billion more). This solar extravaganza would be about 1/4 13% of the annual budget.

Why you'll be in a hovercar before you'll drive with hydrogen

Here's the most damning statistic. Read the short article for the full problem with hydrogen.
To build a "hydrogen economy," we would need to start over with everything. Hundreds of thousands of miles of pipeline, 90,000 new pumps at service stations, 210 million vehicles, everything.

The idiocy of designer thirst quenching revealed

Thanks to public pressure from organizations like ThinkOutsidetheBottle, Pepsi Cola will now add this statement to their crystal clear, mountain-scape Aquafina label:
From a public water source
Translation: tap water.

Aquafina isn't the only company charging you 6,000 times more than your local municipality for identical water. Dasani by Coke is also tap water. Other bottled waters aren't much more up front. Poland Spring isn't tap water, but it's not from the actual Poland Spring in Maine, which dried up in 1967. It's well water.

I blogged previously about other side effects of drinking bottled water, from the rising incidence of cavities when kids stop drinking fluoridated tap water to the exorbitant cost. The Natural Resourced Defense Council has more on the lower health quality of bottled water (bacteria?) and the different levels of federal regulation of municipal (lots) and bottled (little) water.

Mentos and beer?

Courtesy of Shadow Eyes, another great Mentos video. But not exactly "another."

The dangerous 13-15 ounce mail

Stopping at my neighborhood Postal Service blue box to drop off a letter this morning, I was greeted by the "new 13-ounce rule." This rule supersedes the "16-ounce" rule, which required all stamped mail exceeding 16 ounces to be brought to an actual post office for delivery.
The change is part of ongoing security measures established by the Postal Service, in cooperation with other government agencies to keep the public, customers, employees and the U.S. Mail safe.
If anyone can find out, I'd love to know how prohibiting those extra 3 ounces in making America safer.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cat exhibition permits and animal shrinks: the sign of civilization's decline

Courtesy of KMF...

The descendants of Ernest Hemingway's cats still roam the museum grounds in Key West, Florida, as they've done for generations. The cats are named for famous friends and actors known to Hemingway.
Archibald MacLeish prefers the cool tiled floor of the master bathroom. Emily Dickinson seems indifferent to the camera catching her in repose on a predecessor's tombstone.
The cats are carefully cared for by museum staff, fed organic cat food and given weekly vet exams. An animal rights activist's dream, yes?
Motivated by concern for what they considered an excessive cat population on the property and the potential for the cats to escape and be run over, two animal rights activists are believed to have brought the museum to the attention of those charged with applying the 1966 Animal Welfare Act...

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) [wants] the museum to obtain an animal exhibition license that would require staff members to "protect" them from spectators and cage them after their daily "performance" when the front gate closes at 5 p.m.
Yes, a bunch of cats roaming a property are "performers." And being carefully caged inside is much better for cats than being able to roam around outside. At least if animal rights activists are around:
The only known off-site fatality involved a cat run over after being lured out by the activists, [site manager] Sands said
So where has this farcical bureaucratic ride taken us?
The USDA postponed a late-July administrative hearing to allow an animal behaviorist to render an independent assessment of how confinement would affect the cats' mental and physical health. Her report is expected in two to three weeks.

From: jff

Re: Independent Assessment

Dear USDA,
The cats are fine, the activists are mental, and this investigation is a farce.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Why is the lying man still in charge of the law?

That, and other fun questions from Jon Stewart and Company. Let's summit this mountain of obfuscation!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Excel trick of the day - quick bar charts!

Courtesy of Lifehacker, this slick Excel trick can help you do a brief analysis of a simple column of data. Clever!

Fat is a social thing?

A new long-term study released yesterday finds that if you have obese friends, it increases your change of being obese.
People were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased a person’s chances of becoming obese by 57 percent...On average, the investigators said, their rough calculations show that a person who became obese gained 17 pounds, and the newly obese person’s friend gained 5.
Other researchers cautioned that due to the unique data set, it may be impossible to replicate the study's findings, a key step in scientific verification. Other obesity researchers also warned against jumping to conclusions, since obesity has many environmental causes. However, any kind of exercise is good for your health...

GOP likes higher cost, less coverage health care

The U.S. House will consider a bill on children's health insurance soon, but the politics are getting far ahead of the actual debate. With new rules requiring offsets for new spending, the children's health care proposal asks for higher tobacco taxes and less money for Medicare patients in the private health care plans. The latter is actually a cost savings, since the government-run Medicare health plans are cheaper than the private ones.

That doesn't stop Republican opponents from political posturing:
“Dragging people out of private health insurance to put them into a government-run program is ‘Hillary care’ come back,” [House Republican leader] Mr. Boehner said.
If "Hillary care" means less expensive but more expansive medical care for Americans, let me know where to sign up.

Note: This post was titled in the spirit of the Republican opponents to children's health insurance. It's inflammatory and misleading and I approved this message.

Foundations admit mistakes to save others

There's an interesting story in the NY Times today about nonprofit foundations and their newfound interest in publishing evidence about their failures. One foundation officer notes that it's a kind of public service:
“There’s an increasing recognition among foundation leaders that not to be public about failures is essentially indefensible,” said Phil Buchanan, the executive director of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which advises foundations. “If something didn’t work, it is incumbent upon you to make sure others don’t make the same mistake.”
This is a great development for grant giving, and one that's also making its way into other fields, such as medicine. Now if we can just get it into politics.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Politics trumps science (again)

President Bush's executive order 13422 (pdf) took effect yesterday, guaranteeing that political appointees of government agencies will have final say over government regulations. The implications are widespread. This analysis from an environmental law firm notes that the executive order also requires that agencies identify the "specific market failure" that their regulation addresses. In other words, the review by a political appointee will have the potential to derail health and safety regulations, even if the best science has found them necessary or in the public interest.

January 2009 can't come quickly enough.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Was this weekend safer?

A study by British researchers found that when the fifth and sixth Harry Potter books came out, the release weekends featured far fewer emergency room visits by children as usual.

I devoured the book in a day and a half after my lovely wife spent an hour in line Friday morning to get us our "entry pass" to the nearest bookstore. Best book of the series, in my opinion.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Web-based music gets royal[ty] screwed

Taking advantage of inexpensive broadcasting and digital music, internet radio has become a significant way for music listeners to find customized playlists and other ways to discover new, or arrange already known music. As many as 50-70 million Americans tune in to an internet stream during a given month. But that was before a decision by the Copyright Royalty Board allowing recording studios to get much higher royalties from 'net radio stations. Among the concerns of the Sound Exchange (collectors of the royalties): digital music streams are too easy to copy, and internet radio stations should pay per listener fees because - unlike regular radio - they know exactly how many folks are listening.

The problem is that most internet radio gigs make very little money. Under the previous royalty regime, internet radio stations could pay royalties as a percentage of revenue (~10%), so even cash-poor stations could broadcast. Under the new regime, all internet radio stations will have to pay a royalty per song played (and per listener), with a $500 minimum.

Read the latest news here, learn more from net radio advocates here, or check out this modest proposal from a Wired columnist.

The oil update: plateau

The Energy Blog has a nice, short piece on what the oil pundits are calling "Peak Lite." A time period where world demand outstrips increasing supply (but before total supply peaks), this period (circa now) will last until the end of 2009 or so before supplies start falling and we really start paying for oil.

How bad will it be? Check out the right axis on this chart, showing projected world oil prices. We're currently at $76/barrel.

Friday, July 20, 2007

$1 billion for nutrition isn't buying much

No one tuned into regular news has missed the rising obesity epidemic in the United States, so it's no surprise the federal government has ponied up over $1 billion to help encourage kids to eat healthy. Sadly, this initiative hasn't shown much effect:
an Associated Press review of scientific studies examining 57 [nutrition] programs found mostly failure...

Last year a major federal pilot program offering free fruits and vegetables to school children showed fifth graders became less willing to eat them than they had been at the start...

In studies where children tell researchers they are eating better or exercising more, there is usually no change in blood pressure, body size or cholesterol measures; they want to eat better, they might even think they are, but they're not.
What's the problem? A clear misunderstanding of the right pressure points. Point one - parents.
Experts agree that although most funding targets schools, parents have the greatest influence, even a biological influence, over what their children will eat.
Point two - Advertising
Children ages 8 to 12 see an average of 21 television ads each day for candy, snacks, cereal and fast food - more than 7,600 a year, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. Not one of the 8,854 ads reviewed promoted fruits or vegetables.

There was one ad for healthy foods for every 50 for other foods.

Ironically, one of the major failures of the programs might be that increased pressure from other federal legislation - No Child Left Behind - pressures schools to drop physical education and recess for more class time. And yet,
School programs that increase physical activity are also more likely to have an impact than nutrition education.
Summary: the government's program is ineffective, even more so because of advertising for junk food.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Get your truly random number here

Most computer random number generators are actually not random. Based on complex algorithms, they simulate randomness but can actually be found to have patterns. So if your work (or play) necessitates the discovery of true randomness, the good folks at the Ruder Boskovic Institute have your solution.

Some good news: public broadcasting gets its funding

Courtesy of Curly, news that the U.S. House soundly killed President Bush's plan to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

And just in case you have wavered in your support for public broadcasting, you may want to refresh with this little fact: people who watch or listen to public broadcasting are much more likely to know the truth about significant public issues, such as WMD in Iraq (3-page pdf).

Respecting the climate means living locally

Residents of Las Vegas - one of the fastest growing cities in America - are learning that living in the desert means living a bit differently from their prior ways. In particular, a severe water shortage - the worst drought in recorded history - has created a new interest in xeriscaping - landscaping that minimizes water use. In Vegas, that means less grass and more cactus.

The New York Times has a nice 5-minute video on xeriscaping and water conservation in Las Vegas.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is also finding ways to raise awareness of the water issues, with some clever public service advertisements:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The unintended consequences of synthesizing government and technology

As technology becomes more sophisticated, government has access to more information about its citizens as a matter of course. Is this a problem?

It can be
I blogged previously about the addition of a "black box" in cars for the purposes of collecting crash data - now used by insurance companies to offer discounts for good driving (or perhaps as proof of bad driving?). And in Britain, it's just been revealed that the camera system used for assessing congestion fees will now be used regularly by anti-terror police, despite earlier assurances to the contrary.

I've got nothing to hide
Some folks argue that privacy concerns are hyperbole - that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from greater surveillance.

What privacy really means
GWU Professor Daniel Solove explores the fallacy of this argument in this compelling essay: "'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy"

How the press #^%&#$%ed up Iraq

Bill Moyers of PBS has a stellar piece of journalism on how the mainstream press gave President Bush a complete pass in the run-up to the Iraq War. From its blind acceptance of the WMD discussion to zealous flag-waving, the media missed many of the big signs that this war was no "mission accomplished."

Check out the video here.

And the war goes on

Senate Democrats failed to convince enough Republicans to support legislation to end the Iraq War last night. The Democratic leadership pushed for an actual deadline this time - the legislation would have required troops to return home by May 2008.

Interestingly, a recent poll shows that while 43% of Americans want troops home by next spring (the bill's target), another 40% would be satisfied if troops were withdrawn to Iraqi bases to focus on training locals to take over the fight.

Asked another way, however, 53% of Americans want to end the military presence in Iraq in one year or less. In other words, it seems some people have bought the Republican line that withdrawal equals defeat (or that we're "turning the corner" in Iraq...)

A lot of the stalling has come down to the anticipated report by the leading commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. Planned for September, it will provide feedback on the "surge" and provide President Bush with some badly needed political cover for the next two months. Bush has made a lot of hay about trusting the "commanders on the ground" (though his administration has demonized and fired three already), so I'm fascinated to see what happens to Petraeus should he refuse to toe the line.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A summer week roundup

I've been doing a lot of "spending time outside" in the all-to-brief northern hemisphere summer, so that's why the posting volume has decreased here at the Moldy. Anyway, just to keep you interested, here's some quick looks from around your world.
  1. The Chinese keep finding new ways to innovate when it comes to food processing.
Baozi are a common snack in China, with an outer skin made from wheat or rice flour and and a filling of sliced pork. Cooked by steaming in immense bamboo baskets, they are similar to but usually much bigger than the dumplings found on dim sum menus familiar to many Americans.
Sound good? Here's what a Beijing TV station found is really being put into your local baozi:
Squares of cardboard picked from the ground are first soaked to a pulp in a plastic basin of caustic soda -- a chemical base commonly used in manufacturing paper and soap -- then chopped into tiny morsels with a cleaver. Fatty pork and powdered seasoning are stirred in.
Maybe this TV coverage will be the modern-day version of The Jungle?
  1. How walkable is your house? This Google Maps mashup finds local hardware, grocery, and dry cleaning stores (and parks and libraries...) and plots their distance to your home, scoring neighborhoods from 0-100. My wife and I life in a neighborhood scoring a not-so-great 37, but they probably don't count the 4-block walk to the lake.
  1. A fat people, we Americans are finally getting pre-packaged foods in non-obese portions. Of course, this lovely pre-packaging also means a lot more garbage. The following may be good advice, but will many people try it?
It's simple and quick to measure out your own serving sized snack packs. Just take a look at the serving size information found on the nutrition label. If a serving is given as a number of pieces (ex. serving size: 20 pieces), count out that many pieces into a graduated measuring cup. Look to see if the number that you've counted comes to 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, etc., and measure that amount for the rest of your servings instead of counting. If the serving size is given as a measurement, then simply measure that amount. If you're fixing a snack to be gobbled up immediately, eat out of a re-usable dish. If the snack is for later or lunch boxes, use a reusable container or a baggie that can be rinsed out for re-use.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Not bad for 400 B.C.

This is a neat article about the first measurements of the solar system - how the Greeks and their basic understanding of geometry led them to measure the size of the earth, the moon, and the distances between. It's pretty cool (and may require some memory of high school math).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CNN is also "fair and balanced"

Sicko may be a piece of political advocacy, but according to CNN that means they fudged the facts. Fascinatingly, Moore's fact checkers show who the fudgers really are.

But thanks for the great reporting CNN!

The Apple product cycle

Ever wonder what will happen when the next iPhone is released? Read no further than the ultimate Apple product cycle timeline. Some favorite moments:

It all starts here:
An obscure component manufacturer somewhere in the Pacific Rim announces a major order for some bleeding-edge piece of technology that could conceivably become part of an expensive, digital-lifestyle-enhancing nerd toy.
Upon hearing of the new device, fanboys hit the forums with such questions as:
Will it support Windows file formats? Will it work with my ten-year-old Quadra 840AV running Mac OS 8.1?
After the product comes out:
Business Week publishes an article stating that unless Apple immediately releases a Windows version of the new product its market share will continue to shrink and Apple will be out of business within six months. Mac zealots howl with fury and crash Business Week’s email server with their angry rebuttals.

Terrorists hate America(n policy)

Courtesy of skemono, a way to shed the propaganda that terrorists simply "hate America."

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Carter, carries this analysis to address the question that obsesses us as a nation: What truly motivates the "terrorists," the insurgents, the suicide bombers, all those people who apparently hate us for one reason or another?

The commonly accepted knowledge in the administration and in the Pentagon is that this is a religious war, that these men blow themselves up for God. Not at all, says Brzezinski: "These are political questions. They may seen religious, but in reality they are directly related to our policies. Look at who they are against: the U.S., the Brits, the Israelis. We are seen as the new British colonialists, just as in Vietnam we were seen as the continuation of French colonialism..."

...The study of 300 suicide bombers made by professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago found that virtually none of them was religiously inspired; they were communists, socialists, Muslim Brothers, Arab nationalists, but above all, they were inspired by Western occupation and dominance of their lands.

In other words, suicide bombers are attacking the United States - its civilians on 9/11 and its soldiers in Iraq - because of our political support for Israel, our invasion of Iraq, and other political behavior. And unlike religious fanaticism, there are non-military solutions to politically-motivated killing - such as leaving Iraq.

For more on Pape's groundbreaking work, see his article in the American Political Science Review (pdf). The table on page 6 is very revealing.

How much more can we hate ethanol?

Folks rip it for being made from fossil-fuel intensive corn, for having less energy per gallon, and for getting subsidies. But here's my deal on ethanol:
  1. You got anything better to stick in your tank? Don't tell me about hydrogen or cellulosic ethanol or any other pipe dream of a fuel. Do they sell it at Super America?
  2. Where does oil money go? OPEC. Where does ethanol money go? Farmers. Half of ethanol plants are owned by corn farmers in cooperatives.
  3. Heard ethanol will increase food prices? Not by as much as higher oil prices, which add a shipping premium to all those supermarket foods. And to reference #1, do you have a better plan?
Ethanol. Imperfect, but better than nothing.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Where's your liberal media now?

Over at the Time Blog, they're taking a look at the public opinion on impeachment. Compared to 1998, when the Republicans started impeachment proceedings over Clinton's perjury on Monica Lewinsky, nearly twice the number of Americans support beginning impeachment proceedings against President Bush (45%) and VP Cheney (54%). In 1998, the comparable figure was 26%.

And yet, there's scarcely a peep from the big media establishment about removing this President, despite his lying about Iraq, use of signing statements, clemency powers, and many other issues that undermine the rule of law.

From January 1 to July 7, 1998, Lexis Nexis shows 71 (+2 letters to the editor) newspaper headlines and 5 magazine/journal articles with the terms "impeach" and "Clinton." From January 1 to July 7, 2007, there are only 40 stories (+6 letters to the editor) and 1 magazine story on impeaching President Bush.

C'mon CNN, where's one of those famous scrolling headlines with the ubiquitous question mark?
"Is it time to impeach the president?"

That CO2 spewing machine: the bicycle

I'd try to explain, but you have to see the video to believe it. Here's a creationists take on the "global warming" issue:

Kudos to CM for the note about this, and to onegoodmove for the coverage (and excellent URL). Oh, and in case you really need some facts to know he's a nutjob, look no further.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Become an Excel master in hours!

I use Microsoft Excel for work and have frequently been trying to use more complex formulas, macros, etc, to make my life easier. However, sometimes you can't learn what you don't know, which is where a nice tutorial comes in handy.

So here's a plug for the good folks behind this site, who have created flash video Excel tutorials for the many more powerful formatting and data sifting functions in Excel. It won't teach you to do multivariate regression, but it may make finding reading your data table a little easier.

The site is run by CASTLE, self-described as:
The UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) is a program center of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) hosted by the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. Directed by Drs. Scott McLeod and Joan Hughes, CASTLE is the nation's leading authority on the technology needs of K-12 school leaders.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Rubber ducks attempt to one-up Magellan

Lost at sea 15 years ago, a flotilla of rubber ducks and other bath toys has made it's way through the Arctic Ocean and is anticipated to make landfall in Southern England later this year. An account of their journey:

10 JANUARY 1992: Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean nearly 29,000 First Years bath toys, including bright yellow rubber ducks, are spilled from a cargo ship in the Pacific Ocean.

16 NOVEMBER 1992: Caught in the Subpolar Gyre (counter-clockwise ocean current in the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Siberia), the ducks take 10 months to begin landing on the shores of Alaska.

EARLY 1995: The ducks take three years to circle around. East from the drop site to Alaska, then west and south to Japan before turning back north and east passing the original drop site and again landing in North America. Some ducks are even found In Hawaii. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked out that the ducks travel approximately 50 per pent faster than the water in the current.

1995 - 2000: Some intrepid ducks escape the Subpolar Gyre and head North, through the Bering Straight and into the frozen waters of the Arctic. Frozen into the ice the ducks travel slowly across the pole, moving ever eastward.

2000: Ducks begin reaching the North Atlantic where they begin to thaw and move Southward. Soon ducks are sighted bobbing in the waves from Maine to Massachusetts.

2001: Ducks are tracked in the area where the Titanic sank.

JULY TO DECEMBER 2003: The First Years company offers a $100 savings bond reward for the recovery of wayward ducks from the 1992 spill. To be valid ducks must be sent to the company and must be found in New England, Canada or Iceland. Britain is told to prepare for an invasion of the wayward ducks as well.

2003: A lawyer called Sonali Naik was on holiday in the Hebrides in north-west Scotland when she found a faded green frog on the beach marked with the magic words 'The First Years'. Unaware of the significance of her find she left it on the beach. It was only when she was chatting to other guests at her hotel that she realised what she had seen.

Blogging Zelda: nerds only

Maybe it's just that I like video games - particularly Zelda games - that this blog caught my attention. Or perhaps it's that the author, a married professional, shares the same nostalgia for the old Zelda games and similar life situation (less the unhappiness with his job). Whatever it is, I am fascinated with the chronicle of his quest to complete all Zelda games in the order they were released. Join me at the beginning of the second quest of the first Zelda game, or just browse the blog.

Vote early and often (and it's legal)!

No, it's not about electing political candidates or anything so interesting. Instead, it's the amusement of seeing a major league baseball pitcher with a fascinating sidearm/submarine delivery pump his candidacy for the All-Star game on his blog. If you've never watched Pat Neshek of the Minnesota Twins pitch (or read his blog), you should check it out (video below - you'll want to mute your audio):

And vote.

Half a million iPhones means a lot of garbage

What happens when a revolutionary new Apple phone hits the market? A lot of old cell phones hit the landfill. With as many as 500,000 iPhones moved in the first weekend, trash trucks will likely be loaded with several thousand old mobile phones.
"If everyone recycles their phones, close to 1.5 million pounds of cell phones won't wind up in the garbage can," [president and CEO of Materials Processing Corp] said. "It's the difference between everybody saying, 'Who cares?' and everyone saying, 'We can do our part.' It's all about education."

Already the average American has three to five of them lying around, which stacks up to a nationwide total of 750 million unused phones just lying dormant.

The disturbing aspect of the coming disposal onslaught is that - due to the presence of heavy and precious metals - old cell phones are both highly toxic and quite valuable.
Cell phones already are the largest and fastest growing segment of the e-waste world, and keeping them out of the waste stream is becoming more difficult. Consumers, on average, get new ones every 18 months, though many recyclers think the turnover is much faster.

If all the obsolete phones in storage were rounded up and recycled -- some 500 million of them -- the metals would amount to a treasure worth $340 million, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

So when you get your iPhone, take note of the recycling opportunities.
Most are separated into parts that get sold to companies that can reuse the pieces in some way. The cobalt in the batteries is recovered and turned into new batteries. The precious metals in the circuitry are stripped out and, in true cradle-to-grave-to-rebirth fashion, could wind up in your new computer's microprocessing chip
Both Best Buy and Staples provide cell phone recycling on-site, every day. If you'd like a karma boost, consider options like CollectiveGood, where revenue from recycling your phone benefits victims of domestic violence, or animals at the Humane Society. Pick your charity, and don't toss your phone.