(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘disaster

“Since there is no real silence / Silence will contain all the sounds”*…

From Bartosz Ciechanowski (who brought us the remarkable interactive explainers of how mechanical watches, GPS, and so many more things work), a piece on sound…

Invisible and relentless, sound is seemingly just there, traveling through our surroundings to carry beautiful music or annoying noises. In this article I’ll explain what sound is, how it’s created and propagated…

And so he does– beautifully: “Sound,” from @BCiechanowski.

Dejan Stojanović

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As we listen, we might recall that on this date in 1811– in the Mississippi River Valley near New Madrid, Missouri, there was a very loud noise: the largest series of earthquakes in U.S. history began; by the time it was complete, it had raised and lowered parts of the Mississippi Valley by as much as 15 feet and changed the course of the Mississippi River.  The earthquakes– measuring as high as 8.6 magnitude on the Richter scale– were felt strongly over roughly 50,000 sq. mi., and moderately across nearly 1 million sq. mi.  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake, by comparison, was felt moderately over roughly 6,200 sq. mi.

Remarkably, there were no (known) fatalities.

“The Great Earthquake at New Madrid.” a nineteenth-century woodcut from Devens’ Our First Century (1877) source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 16, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation”*…

An opportunity to learn from one of the best: Pirkko Lindberg on Finalnd’s public libraries…

Library services are the most used cultural services in Finland, 50 % of all citizens use the library at least once a month and 20 % use it weekly. A national user inquiry from 2013 showed that experiences of the users according the benefits of the library are remarkable. Nine out of ten respondents told that libraries have made their life better. Finnish people are also heavy library users, last year my library, Tampere City Library, had 22.5 lends/inhabitant. Lending is not decreasing, for example children´s loans went up 6 % last year!

Finland is one of the few countries in the world that has own Library Act, the law that defines tasks and official guidelines to public library`s work. The first Finnish Library Act was published 1928 and it has been renewed several times during decades. The Act must live and develop with the society and it has to reflect surrounding environment and changes in the society. Digitization, economic crises and the changes in the municipalities requires authorities to update the Library Act in Finland…

The new act enhances in the new way libraries’ tasks in the society. The act´ s goal is to promote among other things citizen´s equal possibilities to civilization and culture, possibilities to lifelong learning, active citizenship and democracy. To implement these goals the baselines are commonality, diversity and multiculturalism…

License to cure – the new Finnish Library Act gives a mandate for better citizenship: “New Library Act and New Strategy for Finnish Public Libraries from @IFLA.

See also: “Light and enlightenment: libraries in Finnish cultural identity” (source of the image– the third-floor reading room in the Helsinki Library– above)

* Walter Cronkite

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As we check it out, we might recall that it was on this date in 1836 that disaster befell a very specialized “library”: a fire destroyed the U.S. Patent Office (which shared quarters in Blodget’s Hotel with the Post Office). All records of nearly 10,000 patents issued over 46 years– all the patents issued to that date– were lost, most forever, along with around 7,000 patent models filed with them. All patents from prior to the fire were listed later as X-Patents by the office (having been reconstructed by getting copies of the approved applications from inventors).

In response to the fire, Congress made the Patent Office (which had been part of the Post Office) its own organization under the United States Department of State. Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, its first Commissioner, immediately began construction of a new fire-proof building, that was not completed until 1864. But a fire in 1877 destroyed the west and north wing of the new building and caused even more damage.

Blodget’s Hotel with stagecoach parked in front, in around 1800s—before 1836 Great Fire (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 15, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Many a person will forget the past for a present”*…

… and many won’t, as Benjamin Errett explains…

… Do consider where many gifts end up: The fulskåp, defined in The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning as “a cupboard full of gifts you can’t stand to look at, and which are impossible to regift. Usually these are presents from distant aunts and uncles that you put on display when the giver comes to visit.” 

The perfect gift for the person who has everything is either penicillin or a burglar alarm, as the old jokes have it. So there’s always the option of deliberately flubbing the gesture with a gag gift, which is what the British royal family reportedly does. Prince Harry once delighted the Queen with a shower cap that read “Ain’t life a bitch.”…

You shouldn’t have: “The Wit’s Guide to Gifts, ” from @benjaminerrett.

Gladys Parker

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As we wrap it up, we might recall that it was on this date in 1946 that UNICEF (the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) was launched. Among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories, it provides immunizations and disease prevention, administers treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhances childhood and maternal nutrition, improves sanitation, promotes education, and provides emergency relief in response to disasters (most recently, e.g., the COVID epidemic and the invasion of the Ukraine).

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 11, 2022 at 1:00 am

“By preventing dangerous asteroid strikes, we can save millions of people, or even our entire species”*…

The probability of an major asteroid strike on earth at any given moment is low, but the consequences could be catastrophic… and the odds of it happening at some point grow frighteningly large. Happily, the B612 Foundation and Asteroid Institute has developed a way of identifying potentially dangerous asteroids so that they can be deflected by NASA…

Protecting the planet: The Asteroid Institute, @b612foundation.

* Rusty Schweickart, astronaut and co-founder of B612

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As we dodge disaster, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that the space age– and the space race– began in earnest: Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union into earth orbit.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 4, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Managed retreat is not just a last resort. It is not a failure to adapt at all. It is actually an active decision to adapt.”*…

Community High School, Valmeyer, Illinois

The town of Valmeyer, Illinois relocated decades ago after devastating floods. It may have lessons for communities forced to consider a managed retreat from climate impacts today…

In the summer of 1993, the southwestern Illinois town of Valmeyer took the brunt of a massive flood when, not once but twice in a month, the swollen Mississippi River topped its levee system. The village was engulfed in up to 16ft (5m) of floodwater that lingered for months, damaging some 90% of buildings.

Faced with either rebuilding the town and risking yet another disaster, or simply scattering to other towns or states by themselves, the 900 residents of this tight-knit farming community made a bold choice: to pack up everything and start over on new ground.

In the years that followed, hundreds of people moved out of the floodplain as the entire town was rebuilt from scratch on a bluff a mile uphill. In doing so, the town has become an early example of one of the most radical ways a community can adapt to a warming world: moving people and assets out of harm’s way.

Known as managed retreat, or planned relocation, the approach is often framed as a last resort to be pursued only when no other alternatives exist. But as the effects of climate change intensify, exposing more and more people across the globe to the risk of catastrophic flooding, devastating fires and other calamitous natural hazards, the concept is increasingly making its way into the mainstream as a viable – and necessary – adaptation strategy…

When one can’t resist the effects of climate change (e.g., with a sea wall to hold back rising water levels), or accommodate it (e.g., using air cooling and “greening” to combat rising temperatures), the remaining option is retreat: “The Illinois town that got up and left,” from @BBC_Future.

See also: “Managed Retreat in the United States.”

Miyuki Hino

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As we rethink relocation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that rain storms led to floodwaters from the Great Miami River reaching Dayton, Ohio– causing the Great Dayton Flood, which lasted another five days. The volume of water that passed through Dayton during this storm equaled the monthly flow over Niagara Falls; downtown Dayton was submerged up to 20 feet.

More than 360 people died; 65,000 were displaced; nearly 1,400 horses and 2,000 other domestic animals died. 20,000 homes were destroyed and buildings were moved off of their foundations. Property damage to homes, businesses, factories, and railroads was estimated at more than $100 million in 1913 dollars (more than $2 billion in today’s dollars).

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