Short Takes: News From All Over

Right Brain-Left Brain Conservation
By Nancy Bazilchuk, Conservation in Practice
Home to one of the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs, H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range has helped advance the research of hundreds of scientists since the 1950s. One of Andrews’ newest programs — the Long-Term Ecological Reflections project — opens the field of ecology research to writers and humanists. In this creative adaptation of the original LTER program, writers-in-residence take on the role of literary researchers — taking contemplative nature hikes as ‘field work’ while they ‘collect data’ by penning their thoughts into journals. — Evan Noetzel

Mail Order Chickens
By Staff, Pressureworks
Pressureworks, a Christian Aid online hub campaigning for ‘peace, economic justice, and basic rights for all,’ tackled trade injustice by creating ‘Mail Order Chickens,’ a tongue-in-cheek website pushing for the adoptions of 10 chickens from Ghana, where local farmers can’t compete with cheap, imported birds. Each chicken on the site has a bio (Bertie is a Christopher Walken fan who creates art with his bodily fluids), celebrity advocate, and links to a ‘live’ webcast. But don’t get too attached to your bird — it’s doomed from the get-go. Mrs. Yumbia, the African farmer who owns the fake chickens, ends up slaughtering her animated flock for food. — Kristen Mueller

The Pirate Party
By Staff, The Pirate Party
It may sound like a Halloween tradition, but the Pirate Party is quickly gaining credibility as a political movement in Sweden. The political party is based on three core principals: ‘the need for protection of citizen’s rights, the will to free our culture, and the insight that patents and private monopolies are damaging to society.’ All other issues have been put aside to unite the party under a banner of digital freedom. — Bennett Gordon

Who Owns What
By Phil Howard, Cyber-Help for Organic Farmers
The word ‘organic’ may conjure up images of local farmers producing environmentally and socially responsible food, but that’s not always the case. This illuminating flow chart pulls back the veil on the corporate ownership of many organic products. ‘Back to Nature’ may sound like a nice brand, but it’s really just Kraft. (Thanks, Triple Pundit) — Bennett Gordon

NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program
By Staff, New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program
For those who lament their cell phone’s silence, your wait is over. Students at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) have come up with the Popularity Dialer, a web interface that calls whatever number you want it to (including yours) whenever you want it to. The ITP is ‘dedicated to exploring and expanding the ability of real people to use media to connect one another.’ Other recent projects include T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land represented in binary code and the MoPod, a backpack-like strap that holds an iPod and speakers for those on the go. — Nick Rose

Connecting Flights
By Frances Cairncross, Conservation in Practice
A tiny strip uniquely situated at the intersection of Africa, Europe, and Asia hosts the biannual migration of some half a billion birds. Unfortunately, this avian airway exists directly above Israel, within a dense and near-constant concentration of low-flying military aircraft. Millions of dollars in damaged planes and the human and bird casualties caused by collisions posed a challenge to both Israel’s military and its conservation community for decades. Enter Yossi Leshem, a researcher at Tel Aviv University. Equipped with sophisticated weather-tracking radar, a reliable network of bird-watchers, and financial backing from the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Leshem has applied 20 years of his research mapping the paths of the birds to bring the number of harmful bird collisions to a grinding halt and achieve a modest degree of peace above an otherwise chaotic region. — Evan Noetzel

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