Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chemists Without Borders has been selected as one of the web's best blogs by the editors of

From: Kimberly
Subject: Your Blog
To: Chemists Without Borders
Date: Monday, December 8, 2008, 4:04 PM

Hi. I wanted to let you know that your blog, Chemists Without Borders, has been selected as one of the web's best blogs by the editors of, the most selective blog directory on the web. Each blog featured on Regator is hand-selected and reviewed by an editor to ensure that its content is topical, original, well-written, and frequently updated.

It is then put into one of nearly 500 channels covering topics as diverse as beekeeping, neuroscience, books, and pop culture. This makes it easy for mainstream audiences to find high-quality posts on things that interest them. Regator's What's Hot List gives an at-a-glance summary of what the chemistry community is discussing right now and is a great resource for bloggers and academics.

Please let your readers know you've been selected by visiting this link to download a badge for your site. There is NO fee involved and you don't have to take any action to have your blog added to Regator's directory--it's already there.

We know your content has value, so we aggregate your titles and summaries, but our users must click through to your blog to read the full text of your posts. In this way, we hope to drive traffic to your blog and expand your audience.

If you visit our site and find it useful, we'd be extremely grateful if you could help us spread the word by mentioning Regator on your blog.

Congratulations and welcome to Regator! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

All the best,

Kimberly Turner
Co-Founder / Editorial Director

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Donate airline miles?

Do you think anyone would be willing to donate airline miles so we can get one of us to Bangladesh?

Bangladesh Initiative

The way I see it our arsenic project has unravelled into several strands.

First, we still have the original idea of using water hyacinth to remove arsenic from water. There are several difficulties there. How much dried water hyacinth will absorb how much arsenic? Scientifically what are the isotherms that describe the sorptive behavior? What procedure can be worked out that would be effective in a non-lab setting? What is the best way to remove the arsenic-rich hyacinth? How does one dispose of the contaminated plant material? Culturally, would you drink water that have been mixed with powdered plants? As Elmo says, its not much different than drinking tea, is it? Maybe, maybe not.

Next, arsenic is not the only significant environmental problem in Bangladesh. Three others have been suggested: surface water pollution from tanneries, from textile dyers, and indoor air pollution from burning a variety of materials to provide cooking fires. Perhaps with much of the global community focused on the arsenic, we should tackle something else.

Third, what would it take to assist the Bangladeshi chemical community to build an environmental chemistry research and development centre? Rather than jumping in and jumping back out, how can we set up infrastructure that will train new Bangladeshi scientists, provide research space to current scientists with up to date technologies to study and make recommendations for improving the conditions in Bangladesh?

Fourth, can we set up a model semester abroad for science students in Bangladesh? Can we collaborate to the extent that US (and other) undergraduate students (graduate students also?) could go to Bangladesh and not miss out on their requirements for graduation. Students might study Bangladeshi language and culture, take a science class, and assist a graduate student or professor with a research project.

Ideas? Reactions?

Mindmap added by Bego, 12/14/2008 (click to enlarge image):

Thursday, November 13, 2008

EPA Denies Appeal for New Coal-Fired Power Plant

My favorite quote:

The 69-page decision described the Bush administration’s arguments as “weak,” “questionable,” “not sustainable,” and “not sufficient,” and rebuked EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson for failing to issue CO2 regulations, repeatedly recommending an “action of nationwide scope.”

Click on the title for the link.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Social Values and Shopping Merge Through 'World of Good'

Keep thinking about ways to help people economically. It's not just about chemistry. At the same time, when you watch this, consider ways in which chemistry is involved in what people like this are doing. Often, people are completely unaware of the occupational and environmental risks of their activities.

Video Report

November 6, 2008 | Transcript: The World of Good company takes a different approach to shopping -- by encourage mainstream retailers like Whole Foods and eBay to take a build ethnical consumer experiences. Spencer Michels profiles Priya Haji, the CEO and co-founder of World of Good, and examines how the company sells messenger bags, handicrafts and other products with the aim of employing people in impoverished parts of the world and spreading social awareness among U.S. consumers.

World of Good Web site

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Following The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste, 60 Minutes Follows The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste, Illegally Shipped From The U.S. To China - CBS News

This is an important story in which I believe Chemists Without Borders must become involved. Lives are at stake and it is our chemistry that is jeopardizing them. Please watch this video segment and respond with thoughts on where we can make a difference. Thank you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Once again, Muhammad Yunus impresses

On October 27, Muhammad Yunus and Michael Milken were interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS. Very impressive. They are implementing in the United States the micro-financing model for which Muhammad Yunus so deservedly received the Nobel Prize in 2006. Microloans in the United States are naturally of a different scale from those in developing countries, but they are nevertheless necessary given the serious condition of the poor in the United States. Yunus and Milken propose to offer loans of up to $3000 without collateral. The model has demonstrated elsewhere that over 98% of loans are paid back. Imagine the impact on the poor here. The beauty of this approach is that it does not simply provide a handout; on the contrary, this is free enterprise at its best. I highly recommend that you watch this very exciting interview.

As a special bonus, the second half of the program is about a play currently on Broadway, about the Black Watch. The Black Watch is a Scottish regiment that has existed for hundreds of years, and it is often the Black Watch whom the British send in to battle first. This play, which is very moving, addresses their recent deployment into Iraq. Since I am from Scotland, and lived in Fife whence comes the Black Watch, this is a story very close to my own heart. I would be very happy to hear from others your opinions on both segments.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Newsletter #9

Chemists Without Borders Newsletter #9 is out on the website. Click on the title of this post for the link (.pdf).


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Systemic Approach to Teaching and Learning

An announcement from Professor Fahmy:

Dear colleagues-

We are pleased to be able to announce the availability of the official Systemic Approach to Teaching and Learning (SATL) website; the website is called “SATL Central.”[] . As you may know, SATL techniques have been successfully applied to a wide spectrum of disciplines, and those reports have been published in a number of places, some of which may not readily be available. This SATL website incorporates a database of such reports that could be useful to colleagues of CCE.We should appreciate receiving notice you may find and any contribution in the area of SATL and its application.


Professor A. M. F.Fahmy
Professor of Chemistry
and Professor J. J. Lagowski
Professor of Chemistry and of Education

contact: or

Monday, September 01, 2008

On Wings of Eagles

My sister-in-law recently recommended that I read Ken Follett's On Wings of Eagles about extricating Ross Perot's falsely accused EDS employees from prison in Iran during the fall of the Shah. It was a fascinating story, and often quite moving. I found various comments, listed below, quite relevant to our own Chemists Without Borders enterprise.

As I may have mentioned before, Chemists Without Borders, like most enterprises, is as much about human relations as about anything else, for it is only through successful human interactions that our goals are reached. Few of us, however, have had any training on the subject. Indeed, with all due respect, I think some of us, including myself, may have chosen scientific and engineering occupations to avoid human interaction. One of my own goals for Chemists Without Borders is to provide resources which help us improve our ability to interact successfully with others.

Finding the best man for the job was Perot's specialty.
During every episode on The Goon Show on BBC radio when I was growing up in the 1950s, a particular character would have reason to say, "Do you think he's the right man for the job?"
He did just one thing superbly well: pick the right man, give him the resources, motivate him, then leave him alone to do the job.
Good advice.
[Of Bull Simons] He was a meticulous, endlessly patient planner; he was cautious -- one of his catchphrases was: "That's a risk we don't have to take."
It's easy to confuse "risk" with "risky". Many activities, like driving a car, have risk. Risky, by contrast, is driving the car drunk, smoking a cigarette, eating a sandwich, and drinking hot coffee whilst talking on a cell phone.
This was a persistent failing of Perot's: when he was in high gear, he trod on people's toes and never knew he had hurt them. He was a remarkable man, but he was not a saint.
When I was taught about Social Styles, it was as if I'd been provided with steel toe caps on my shoes.
Perot's single-mindedness, his ability to focus narrowly on one thing and shut out distractions until he got the job done, had its disagreeable side. He would wound people.
I never forgot the scene in the film Lawrence of Arabia where Lawrence slowly extinguished a burning match with his bare fingers. When asked by an observer, "Doesn't it hurt?" he said, "Of course." "So what's the trick," he was asked. "The trick is not to mind," he replied.
His occasional unfeeling harshness was just part of the incredible energy and determination without which he would never have created EDS.
While I disapprove of callousness, I came to realize that for some people it was sometimes a necessary component of their greatness. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.
There had been times, in business, when EDS had been ready to admit defeat but had gone on to victory because Perot himself had insisted on going one more mile: this was what leadership was all about.
Never quit!
…: she understood her husband's concept of duty and she never complained. That was why he could stay focused on what he had to do, and block out negative thoughts that would excuse inaction. He was lucky to have her.
While we are not all so fortunate, the goal is worthy. For those of us so blessed, stay mindful of the blessings and acknowledge them.
You never said: "I can't do that because …" You always said: "This is the progress I have made so far, and this is the problem I am working on right now…"
I am proud to say this is an attitude commonly found within Chemists Without Borders.
[Rashid] It was easy to manipulate people if you understood the psychology of the human being. You just had to study the people, comprehend their situation, and figure out their needs.
The book gives several examples of Rashid's natural prowess in this. The necessary skills can be learned by anyone. Manipulation, however, is not something I recommend, but helping people meet their goals in ways that coincide with our own is a healthy win-win.
The decision was made. If you go through life thinking about all the bad things that can happen, you soon talk yourself into doing nothing at all. Concentrate on the problems that can be solved.
If I understand Thomas Khun correctly in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, this is precisely how we tend to select problems, knowingly or not.
As Simons talked, Coburn admired how he announced his decision in such a way that they all thought they were being asked for their opinions rather than being told what to do.
If we own an idea, if we think it was ours, we tend to be more committed to capitalizing on it.

There is a book that has been translated into many different languages and has over the decades sold millions of copies around the world because of the wisdom therein. Huge numbers of people have read the book, and if you mention it in a crowd of people, you will get common acknowledgment and often laughter. Ask these same people if they've actually read the book, and most will say no. If you were to read only one book on the subject of human relations, this should be it. It is How to Win Friends and Influence People. I strongly recommend it, and that you read it in the manner the author prescribes in the preface. Happy reading.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Understanding Social Styles, and Why It Matters

Chemists Without Borders holds open conference calls twice a month (see here for details), in which I encourage you to participate. This Thursday at 6 PM PDT, we will start a discussion of social styles and how understanding them can have amazing results. Whether we are chemists or not, much of what we do involves communication and interaction with others. This is especially true for Chemists Without Borders. We are as much in a people business as anything else. Therefore, understanding how best to communicate with different types of people is essential.

Have you ever noticed how highly analytical people and highly expressive people seem not to understand each other as well as they do people of their own style? The same is true of amiable people and those who are strong drivers. To communicate well with others, we must ensure that we broadcast on the same wavelengths that they are receiving. Our discussion will examine the four basic social styles, how to identify them in ourselves and others, and how best to relate to the various types. If you are unfamiliar with this topic, I think you'll find it fascinating and quite useful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

If it's not one thing, it's another: Latest News - Arsenolipids In Fish Oil

Another interesting piece, "Potentially hazardous arsenic-containing compounds are characterized", by Carrie Arnold, in Chemical & Engineering News: Latest News - Arsenolipids In Fish Oil, August 11, 2008, Volume 86, Number 32, p. 10.

It seems the fish we've been encouraged to eat may contain arsenic. We usually just worry about drinking water, whether here in the US where I am, or, for example, in Bangladesh where tens of millions of people daily drink water contaminated with dangerous levels of arsenic from geologic sources. I wonder:
  • How prevalent is this arsenic in fish?
  • What are its sources?
  • Is it harmful to humans and other animals in this form?
  • Is this a new phenomenon or has it always been this way?
  • Do people who eat such fish as part of their daily lifestyle or culture have health consequences?
  • Are those consequences good or bad?
  • Do such arsenic compounds protect us from the arsenic?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chemical & Engineering News: Government & Policy - Francis Collins Leaves NIH

Chemical & Engineering News: Government & Policy - Francis Collins Leaves NIH: "August 4, 2008, Volume 86, Number 31,
pp. 33-35

Francis Collins Leaves NIH
After 15 years at the helm, Genomics Institute Director steps down
by Susan R. Morrissey"

This was an interesting article about Francis Collins that brought a bunch of questions to mind, questions to which I would welcome answers from anyone. Viz.:

How does the Human Genome Project benefit the developing world physically as opposed to intellectually (health versus genetic history and origins)?

What needs to be studied that is not being?

What doors does this open for the developing world?

Where's the opportunity?

What ideas or actions should Chemists Without Borders be promoting?

What is BlogThis! ?

Here's another useful tool. By the way, immediately after clicking Publish Post, please select Edit and add the appropriate tags for the piece you are adding.

What is BlogThis! ?:

BlogThis! is an easy way to make a blog post without visiting Once you add the BlogThis! link to your browser's toolbar, blogging will be a snap. Or rather, a click. Clicking BlogThis! creates a mini-interface to Blogger prepopulated with a link to the web page you are visiting, as well as any text you have highlighted on that page. Add additional text if you wish and then publish or post from within BlogThis!

There are two ways to use BlogThis!: if you use Windows and Internet Explorer, you can use BlogThis! from the SendTo feature of the Google Toolbar. If you're on another browser, just drag the link below to your browser's Link bar. Then, whenever the mood strikes, click BlogThis! to post to your blog:

BlogThis! -- drag this link to your browser's Links bar.

CutePDF - Create PDF for free, Free PDF Utilities, Save PDF Forms, Edit PDF easily.

For those whose software does not print directly to PDF, I recommend CutePDF, a simple program which will appear as a printer on your PC. When you want to create a PDF file from a document, instead of printing to your regular printer, just select CutePDF from the list of printers and continue. CutePDF will simple ask where you want the file created, and do it. Links are below.

CutePDF - Create PDF for free, Free PDF Utilities, Save PDF Forms, Edit PDF easily.: "CutePDF Writer (Freeware)

Create professional quality PDF files from almost any printable document. FREE for personal, commercial, gov or edu use! No watermarks! No popup Web ads! Now supports 64-bit Windows.

Free Download Free Download (1.6MB) (Vista Ready)"

Monday, August 11, 2008

How to Log on and Clock In - Solutions by PC Magazine

How to Log on and Clock In - Solutions by PC Magazine

Here's a nice summary of how various online software tools could be used by any member of the team who has internet access, regardless of location. These include a universally accessible desktop, instant messaging, mind-mapping, office suite with word processor, spreadsheet and presentation, file sharing, personal finance and expenses, among others. Does anyone have additional suggestions or improvements?

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Power Really Is in the Network

Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon -

Here is one of the keys to our impact. Consider some numbers: the American Chemical Society has over 160,000 members; the American Medical Association has over 360,000 members. Suppose we assume that there are a like number in the rest of the world. That amounts to about one million people, professional people, educated people. Now consider all the other occupations that are necessarily involved in accomplishing our goals, for it is not just science and medicine that solves humanitarian problems. Many other activities are involved, from accounting to distribution to plumbing to information management to diplomacy to law to architecture, etc. (Another opportunity to stress that Chemists Without Borders is not just for chemists: "If all you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail." Some of the most exciting stuff comes from the interface between unlike and improbable things.) That's a lot of people.

One important point is that these millions of people are all connected to one another through their professional organizations and other relationships, and indeed there is nobody in our profession, whom we could do not reach in the six steps described referred to in the Washington Post article. We can reach anywhere on the planet just in our own profession never mind all the other people we know. One of the things that makes the Information Age so exciting is that we can capitalize on all these connections much more easily than people could do in the past. Networking is in. Social networking is a phenomenon unseen before. We have an opportunity that others do not have. The American chemical Society is the largest scientific society in the world. We uniquely positioned to connect people to address problems. Chemists Without Borders is devoted to seeing that happen.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Perspective from John MacIntyre for the San Jose Mercury News

I didn't find a link for this. The column is called Figuratively Speaking, August 3, 2008. How novel it is, I don't know, but it bears repeating, and repeating, and repeating, and repeating, and repeating, and .......

A picture of a starving African baby in its mother's arms tops the column; the caption is, "What's wrong with this picture?" Then:

$30 billion
The amount of money needed annually to eradicate world hunger, relaunch agriculture and avert future threats of conflicts over food, according to the Director-General of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf.

$1.2 trillion
The amount of money spent on arms in 2006.

Given our capacity to run up an annual deficit of hundreds of billions of dollars of deficits (and that's just the US) with seeming impunity, why don't we just tack this on and get the job done? If we're going to run up credit, why not spend the money to improve the planet and the human condition? (But then, the demand for armaments might diminish, and then where would we be? Who was that Eisenhower fellow, anyway?) What then must we do?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Press Release: Chemists Without Borders Granted 501(c)(3) Status

Chemists Without Borders Granted 501(c)(3) Status
Campbell, CA, July 19, 2008 --( Chemists Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization, today announced it has been granted 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS has classified Chemists Without Borders as a public charity, which means that contributions to the organization are tax exempt; this is often a requirement to qualify for foundation grants.

Chemists Without Borders was founded on the principle that through the use of appropriate chemical technologies and related skills, human suffering in developing countries can be alleviated. Chemists Without Borders will do this by mobilizing global resources, expertise, knowledge and creativity; by developing self-reliance operating models; by organizing shared processes and activities; and by partnering with other social entrepreneurs and humanitarian organizations.

Rolande Hodel, president of AIDSfreeAFRICA and a board member of Chemists Without Borders said, “Chemists Without Borders and AIDSfreeAFRICA had a meeting of hearts knowing that we already have the solutions to the most pressing problems humankind faces. It is not rocket science, but it takes a great organization such as Chemists Without Borders to pull it all together, to connect the dots and to deliver the vision it takes to implement what is so obvious that is has been overlooked for so long.”

“Receiving 501(c)(3) status was critical for our development as it provides the possibility for others to contribute to our work, alleviating human suffering in developing countries,” said Bego Gerber, president and co-founder of Chemists Without Borders.

About Chemists Without Borders
Chemists Without Borders ( is a 501(c)(3) public benefit, non-profit, international humanitarian organization designed to alleviate human suffering through the use of proven chemical technologies and related skills. It was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in Campbell, California. Please take a look at the website and the weblog,, for more information.

Contact Information
Chemists Without Borders
Bego Gerber
(888) 595-5604

Monday, July 14, 2008

e2 | PBS: Environment and Energy

e² | PBS

A new series of half-hour programs about sustainable energy innovations, e² energy, releases on PBS stations October 19. And the second season of e² design releases on November 30. Check it out - very informative.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jamie Dimon conversation with Charlie Rose on PBS

This is the first of a two-part, fascinating conversation with one of today's most significant business leaders. There are some who think Jamie Dimon an exceptional businessman, others who think he is an exceptional villain (see for viewers' feedback). Assuming the former, Dimon has much to say about values, integrity and showing up. I encourage everyone to view this interview. There are lessons for us all. All comments are welcome, of course.

Monday, July 07, 2008

EPA drops...

EPA dropped wetlands cases, memo says:

From the EPA:

"The confusion primarily surrounds temporary streams and wetlands not large enough to be navigable, but which are among the most prevalent types of waters across the country."

Uh, the creek runs in the spring, and is empty in the fall.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

possible life on Mars?

This is exciting... if for nothing else, the chemistry of Mars is starting to be known!

(click on the title for the link)


Friday, June 20, 2008

Annan Discusses Food Aid and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa | June 11, 2008 | PBS

"Annan: World Must Help African Nations Tackle Food Crisis

"Fuel costs and supply shortages have caused a spike in food prices across Africa -- prompting calls for an agricultural revolution on the continent. Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan discusses efforts to address the crisis." Please watch the video here.

Web Tools Help to Reshape '08 Campaign Trail

This NewsHour segment is a great review of the impact of the Information Age on current affairs. While it specifically refers to the impact on the US presidential election, the implications are broad and apply to the building of our own Chemists Without Borders community. Please check this out. You can watch the video, listen to the audio, or read a transcript. It begins:
"A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project finds that a record-breaking 46 percent of Americans have used the Internet, e-mail or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaigns. Analysts examine how new Web-based tools are expanding the campaign trail."

The Online NewsHour: AIDS in Africa: Focus on Rwanda and Tanzania | PBS

The Online NewsHour: AIDS in Africa: Focus on Rwanda and Tanzania | PBS

Here are some excellent reports on progress being made in Africa resulting from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

First week June conference call

Regular 1st week meeting June 5, 2008 @ 1700 GMT
Doug Molitor, Steve Chambreau, Bego Gerber, Lois Ongley

Our first meeting will be in Campbell, CA June 15, 2008 from noon on.
We will discuss our mission and vision; introduce everyone; review our on-going projects and do a project management training. In articular we will discuss efforts to alleviate some of hte difficulites caused by the China earthquake.

We will try to use and invote our members. If you would like to attend and don't get an evite, contact longley at unity dot edu.

After the meeting, we will have a potluck BBQ and swim.

Restructure these biweekly calls. We will consider using Skype Live for our phone calls which are held regularly the first Thursday of the month @ 1600 GMT and the Friday after the third Thursday at 0100 GMT. More later. Timing may vary due to the US dayligfht savings time and other minor complications :).

Press releases
Press releases should be no more than 350. We hope to get them our more regularly so that we can widen our "google footprint". We now have a group on Facebook.

Green auto advertising in Britain

Choice quote:

"But the ad agencies argue their work has a minimal role in persuading people to buy a new car, raising the question of why car companies take up so much space in magazines."

Either the advertisers are really bad at their jobs, or they haven't watched the Superbowl...


Friday, May 30, 2008

U.S. National Institutes of Health Policy: please express support!

Chemists without Borders - and especially our colleagues in the U.S. - please consider writing a comment in support of the U.S. National Institutes of Health' Public Access Policy! Comments are due tomorrow, Saturday, May 31, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The U.S. NIH Public Access policy requires that publicly-funded medical research in the U.S. be made publicly available within 12 months of publication - a more-than-generous-embargo to reassure the publishing community.

If you are not familiar with the details of the policy, you can still respond to question # 4 expressing strong support for the policy in principles. You might want to refer to the Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement, which can be downloaded from here.

Details from Peter Suber on Open Access News:

Time is short to comment on the NIH policy

Public comments on the OA mandate at the NIH are due by 5:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time), Saturday, May 31, 2008, less than two days from now

Submit your comments through the NIH web form.  But before you do, see some of the comments already submitted.  The pro-OA comments will give you ideas, and the anti-OA comments will show you what objections to answer and what perspective might predominate if you don't send in your own.

This time the NIH wants separate answers to four separate questions.  The web form has four separate spaces for them:

  1. Do you have recommendations for alternative implementation approaches to those already reflected in the NIH Public Access Policy?
  2. In light of the change in law that makes NIH’s public access policy mandatory, do you have recommendations for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy?
  3. In addition to the information already posted [here], what additional information, training or communications related to the NIH Public Access Policy would be helpful to you?
  4. Do you have other comments related to the NIH Public Access Policy?

If you're thinking that the NIH just concluded a round of public comments for its March 20 meeting, you're right.  See the comments generated by that round (and my blog post on them).  One persistent publisher objection is that the policy has not been sufficiently vetted and one purpose of the new round no doubt is to give the stakeholders one more chance to speak.  We must use it.  Publishers will.

Please submit a comment and spread the word.  Even if you have no suggestions to improve the policy, it's important to express your support.

Thanks to Peter Suber on
"">Open Access News

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Technology Review: $100 Laptop Gets Redesigned

Technology Review: $100 Laptop Gets Redesigned

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) version 2.0, smaller, cheaper. Imagine what we can do when everyone is connected. This is just the beginning of the Information Age. Consider this: the types of jobs that many of today's elementary school children will end up seeking do not even exist yet.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Health Commons video

Science Commons' John Wilbanks has produced a 6-minute video on the Health Commons which explains succinctly what is broken about the current approach to health discovery, and how a health commons could make a difference.

The current approach emphasizes profit; this makes the weight problems of the wealthy a higher priority than river blindness, a serious affliction for millions of people around the world.

The world wide web makes it possible to create new approaches to science discovery, based on open sharing of knowledge and collaboration.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Repositories without frontiers

Repositories without frontiers (news release from BioMedCentral)

* Médecins Sans Frontières implements Open Repository service
* Growing momentum of the open access movement highlights the benefits of BioMed Central's platform

Today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) adopts 'Open Repository' - the service from BioMed Central, which allows institutes to build, launch, host, and maintain their own repositories.

Whilst MSF is well known for its humanitarian medical work, the organisation also produces important research based on its extensive field experience within vulnerable populations. Its studies have often changed clinical practice and have been used for further humanitarian advocacy.

Through the implementation of the Open Repository system, MSF is now able to provide a personalized in-house repository that maximises the distribution of their research at a fraction of the cost of other commercial systems.

Speaking of the new system, Tony Reid, Medical Editor for Médecins Sans Frontières said: "The vast majority of our medical work, and by extension our research activities, take place in poorer countries where access to scientific publications is often difficult and expensive to obtain. With Open Repository, we are able to make MSF's research experience available to health workers, policy makers and researchers in those countries in an easily-searchable format at no cost."

Reid went on to add "Throughout the development process for this site, I have been most impressed by the support and professionalism provided by BioMed Central's Open Repository team. They have been unfailingly helpful and cooperative and I believe the final product demonstrates excellent quality."

There is ever increasing number of funding bodies mandating open and unrestricted access to published research. This has necessitated institutions like MSF to look for innovative ways to store and publicise their open access research. BioMed Central's Open Repository service provides an extremely cost effective solution for institutions looking to showcase their open access research. Not only does the system help institutions comply with open access mandates, but it can also be fully customized to help organizations raise their profile and showcase their intellectual output.

Médecins Sans Frontières is just one of 15 organizations who have adopted the Open Repository solution since its inception.

"Open Repository provided our organization with a hosted solution that was quick and simple to set up, customizable to our needs and extremely easy to use," said Adam Edwards who adopted the service in 2007 "We switched from our previous repository service with Digital Commons because Open Repository offered much better value for money and all of the features we required."

Open Repository is built upon the latest version of DSpace, an open-source solution for accessing, managing and preserving scholarly works. Customers of Open Repository benefit from updated system features not only from DSpace themselves, but also from BioMed Central's team who are continually working to enhance their repository service.


Media Contact
Matt McKay
Head of PR, BioMed Central

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7079 4845
Mob: +44 (0) 7825 257 423

BioMed Central ( is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.

Médecins Sans Frontières ( is an international humanitarian aid organisation that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 70 countries.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tejon Ranch conserved

I live very close to the Grapevine in Southern California, and this is truly a huge deal.

Click on the title to check out the story.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Rust Could Be the Key to Arsenic-Free Water: Scientific American

Rust Could Be the Key to Arsenic-Free Water: Scientific American:

Another interesting technology is described here, published in 2006 (original Science article here). I don't know what stage it's at currently.

The Scientific American report ends as follows: "Given the batch nature of this process, it is unlikely that homes in the developing world can be outfitted with filters placed directly on taps, but getting poison-free water by the tank load is still a step in the right direction." I immediately pictured the technology in conjunction with a water tower and indoor plumbing. Is that what the people we serve would really want?

Is this something about which our Engineers Without Borders colleagues can advise? (I also thought about Plumbers Without Borders - not the first time that idea has arisen, it seems.) Perhaps it's already happening and I just don't know about it. That happens a lot.

The Superbug That Cures Arsenic Poisoning

The Superbug That Cures Arsenic Poisoning

Check this article out, for it bears on what we are doing. There's exciting new stuff happening all the time. Also, the source web site is packed with valuable information. There's an RSS feed for research news.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reinstall Windows and outfit your system with all freeware programs Review & Download Link |

Reinstall Windows and outfit your system with all freeware programs Review & Download Link |

Chemists Without Borders promotes open source solutions. The above link, and other links therein, point to excellent resources for running Windows machines entirely with freeware programs. For those who wish to avoid Windows altogether, there are excellent Linux implementations like Ubuntu and Xandros which offer comparable desktops and resources.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jan Egeland on Charlie Rose

This is a fascinating and informative inverview with Jan Egeland, former Undersecretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). He talks about the many successes of the the various humanitarian efforts, as well as current critical issues and what to do about them.

Egeland's new book on these issues, A Billion Lives : An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity that looks worth a read.

President Carter on Charlie Rose

This is a very interesting perspective from former President Carter.

Monday, April 28, 2008

25 Tools: A Free Toolset for Learning

25 Tools: A Free Toolset for Learning

This is a site with useful links. Slideshare, for example, is a popular way to create presentations and make them available to specific users or to the general public. We may use this for our continuing education and personal development program.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

As Food Prices Soar, U.N. Calls for International Help

(Once again the NewsHour on PBS provides excellent analysis of current issues. You can read the transcript and listen to the audio. There are additional links to other relevant discussions.)

Here's an opportunity for us: Chemistry claims to be "The Central Science". If so, we are central to the issue of food and energy. The "silent tsunami" of rising food prices is exacerbated, for example, by the diversion of corn from food to fuel. Millions of lives are jeopardized not by the scarcity of the food, but by the price of the food. (I once heard that the 1,500,000 deaths during the notorious Irish Potato Famine of 1845 were more caused by prices rising beyond the reach of the poor than by an actual lack of potatoes.)

There are already many intelligent people addressing this problem, but it is by no means solved. Imagine the impact of bringing the minds of a half a million or so chemists worldwide to bear on the question. Add to that the medical profession, the architects, the designers, the financiers, the businesspeople, etc., etc., etc., not to mention the students most importantly, and you have a huge pool of people with minds trained to identify and solve problems.

If 70% of your $1-a-day income goes on food for the family, and the price of rice and wheat rapidly doubles, your family goes from 2 meals a day to 1 meal a day, and then .......

What then must we do?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Long Slide For R&D Energy Spending

The US General Accountability Office recently reported in Advanced Energy Technologies: Budget Trends and Challenges for DOE's Energy R&D Program that federal R&D dropped from $6 billion in 1978 to $1.4 billion in 2008, adjusted for inflation. Fossil and nuclear will get an increase of 34% and 44% respectively in 2009, while renewable energy R&D will drop by 1%. What do you think of that?
GAO-08-556T March 5, 2008

Green Chemistry R&D Bill S.2669 Introduced

US Senate measure aims to prevent pollution by encouraging cleaner and safer chemicals

The purpose of the Green Chemistry Research & Development Act of 2008 is to advance research into environmentally friendly chemicals. Check it out and please contact your Senators and Representatives to express your opinions.

Interesting Argument About Global Warming

I like the simplicity of this argument. The choice is yours. Please let me know what you think. - Watch more free videos

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sarah Chayes: Hope is irrelevant. It's determination that counts.

I recently saw on PBS this wonderfully enlightening Bill Moyers interview about Afghanistan with Sarah Chayes, former New York Times correspondent. At the end of the conversation, they have the following dialogue:

BILL MOYERS: There's a thin line. As I listen to you, there's a thin line we sometimes walk, we human beings, between hope and folly.
BILL MOYERS: Are you very close to that line?
SARAH CHAYES: I don't think that hope is relevant. I think determination is all that counts. You just have to try. It doesn't matter if you hope you're going succeed or not. You have to keep trying.

Pasted from <>

I agree with the opinion about hope. It is indeed determination which counts. (Mind you, I wouldn't use the word "try" either. In the words of the great Yoda: "Do or not do, there is no 'try'.") Consider this: At the end of the ABC World News on television, Charlie Gibson finishes with , "I hope you had a nice day." I never understand what he means. Hope is about the future, if anything, so how does it apply to the day that has already passed?

I think "hope" is a word worth dropping from the vocabulary, as are words like "struggle", "desperate" and "try". When Victor Frankl talks in "Mans' Search for Meaning" about how people like him survived the Nazi concentration camps, it's not "hope" that he talks about; it's about a commitment to an idea that some day he would be reunited with his family (didn't happen -- they were all murdered), and that he would be standing in front of audiences answering the question, "How did you survive when so many others didn't?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bradley's Open Notebook Science: Must-Read for Science Librarians

Chemists Without Border's Jean-Claude Bradley recently did a presentation for my class at UBC on Open Notebook Science that has been called a must-read for science librarians. Chemists are sharing information openly, from every step of an experiment to sharing molecules on Chemspider. This can advance our knowledge much more rapidly, for example in Malaria which Jean-Claude's group is working on; it also makes our knowledge available to everyone, making it possible for every Chemist with an internet connection to keep up to speed; this will make it easier for developing countries to create programs to teach new Chemists. For more details and the links, please see my post on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

In other recent open access news, EBSCO has created a free database for environmental information called GreenFILE, which includes bibliographic information and a fair bit of full text, too. Congratulations and thanks to EBSCO.

Monday, April 07, 2008

OA Week to celebrate US National Institutes of Health new OA mandate policy

Researchers are celebrating OA Week, in honour of the US National Institutes of Health new policy requiring open access to the results of NIH-funded research, which took effect today!

For details on how to join in the festivities - and support the NIH in this important move which certainly takes us beyond borders - see Peter Suber's post on Open Access News.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

European Universities Association (EUA) urges universities to develop clear strategies to advance open access

The European Universities Association (EUA), at their spring meeting in Barcelona, unanimously endorsed a recommendation to develop and support open access at every university in Europe. Details of the recommendation have been posted in the EUA Newsletter.

Details of the policy and my comments can be found on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

Thanks to Bernard Rentier and Stevan Harnad.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Online NewsHour: Report | Climate Change Worries Bangladesh | March 28, 2008 | PBS

Online NewsHour: Report | Climate Change Worries Bangladesh| March 28, 2008 | PBS

You can view the video (recommended), hear the audio and read the transcript.

This is an excellent report on the flooding of Bangladesh and the impact of even a modest rise in sea level of just a few feet, a process which seems already to have begun. The consensus is that such a rise is quite within the realm of possibility (for an intelligent overview, see, for example, and click the Go button).

In Bangladesh, they get it from both sides, the rising ocean on the coast, and the increasing expansion and flooding of their major rivers owing to increased runoff from snow melting in the Himalayas. The latter leads to major flooding in central areas within Bangladesh. indeed, a good half of the entire country has the potential to flood as land-based ice melts around the globe.

For some perspective, Bangladesh occupies an area of 144 km² , about the same size as New York state (142 km²). The US itself is about 9.6 million km² . The population of Bangladesh (about 150 million) is about half that of the United States. The aforementioned flooding has the potential to displace a good half of the population of Bangladesh, 70 million people! As this climate change progresses, irrespective of the cause, we can expect massive population shifts globally during the current century. Massive opportunities exist to prepare for and capitalize on the increasing need for goods, services, transportation, distribution, housing, etc.

Think big, think bigger, plan, do. Involve other people.

Online NewsHour: Report | Fighting TB in Bangladesh | March 27, 2008 | PBS

Online NewsHour: Report | Fighting TB in Bangladesh | March 27, 2008 | PBS

A success story about fighting tuberculosis in Bangladesh!

I recommend watching the video on this page. There is also an audio link and transcript.

One of the things that struck me about his was that this is not really an issue of technology, science or medicine, but of distribution, monitoring and compliance. The skills required for effectiveness are organizational and relational. So many of us are focused on what we know rather than on what our customer, client, consumer or end user actually needs. It is crucial to have direct contact with the people we serve in order to know what and how to provide what is needed.

This TB treatment and prevention program is worth understanding and possibly duplicating for some of our own efforts. Indeed, for some things that we may wish to do, perhaps we would utilize their existing system of people and resources.

Friday, March 28, 2008

CARB lowers standards

CA Air Resources Board caves to auto industry pressure yet again (click on the post title for the link).

If I remember correctly, the National Research Council said within the last 2 years that it was achievable to raise fuel economy standards by 5-7 MPG without a significant effect on the cost of a vehicle.

Oh yeah, and see here:


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Author's Rights 2-minute video

The 2-minute Author's Rights Video by the Association of Research Libraries explains clearly and succinctly what scholars can do to make sure they retain the rights to use and share our work in the ways we would like to - including making them open access and so freely available to colleagues in the developing world.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tap water better than bottled water?

Ever been to Hetch Hetchy?

"Earlier this month, the American Waterworks Association Research Foundation tested 20 of the nation's water systems for compounds typically used in medicines, household cleaners and cosmetics and found San Francisco's water almost alone in being free of contaminants. And blind taste tests have also shown that the city's water tastes as good as, and in some cases better than, bottled water."

SF water comes from Hetch Hetchy, a beautiful resevoir north of Yosemite. After all of the recent reports on pharmaceuticals in the tap water of many areas of the country, it is nice to know that the tap water in San Francisco is still drinkable.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ride a bike vs...?

This is just a sad story all around. I feel for the Deputy and the cyclists:

We need to share the road, meaning: give as much room to cyclists as you can without compromising your safety with oncoming traffic. If it looks like you can't pass safely, then please WAIT! until it is clear to pass. Please don't forget that bicyclists are considered to be vehicles on the road, too, and your car is much heavier that they are!

Just think of the CO2 you're saving by riding a bike to work!


UPDATE: the numbers are out from the CA CHP:

As a cyclist, I think these numbers are skewed against us, but I have also seen many unsafe riders.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Growing corn for ethanol

Perhaps the real problem with producing ethanol from grains- it makes food too expensive for poor people:

Sheeran (UN) noted that in some countries food was available, but cost too much for the poor to buy it, or, as she put it “markets full of food with scores of people simply unable to afford it. These conditions have triggered food riots from Cameroon to Burkina Faso to Indonesia to Mexico and beyond.”

Food, she reminded the European Parliament, is a geostrategic issue, just as oil is.

“This challenge may be one of the most critical peace and security issues of our time. Fragile democracies are feeling the pressure of food insecurity; food riots have erupted throughout the globe,” she said.

Don't forget about water rights...


Thursday, March 13, 2008

EPA and ozone

Line of the day:

When the OMB's Susan E. Dudley urged the EPA to consider the effects of cutting ozone further on "economic values and on personal comfort and well-being," the EPA's Marcus Peacock responded in a March 7 memo: "EPA is not aware of any information that ozone has beneficial effects on economic values or on personal comfort and well being.

Click the title for a link to the WaPo article


Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS) to contribute to Wikipedia

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society, has announced that they will contribute to Wikipedia!

CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, is pleased to announce that it will contribute to the Wikipedia project. CAS will work with Wikipedia to help provide accurate CAS Registry Numbers® for current substances listed in Wikiprojects-Chemicals section of the Wikipedia Chemistry Portal that are of widespread general public interest.

The CAS Registry is the world’s most comprehensive collection of chemical substances and the CAS Registry Number is the recognized global standard for chemical substance identification.

CAS views Wikipedia as an important societal tool for the general public, and this collaboration with Wikipedia is in line with CAS’ mission as a Division of the American Chemical Society.

We look forward to working with the Wikipedia volunteers over the next few weeks to make this happen.

Kudos to CAS and the American Chemical Society - what a great contribution to Open Chemistry!

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Friday, March 07, 2008

CA Salmon = 12% of average

As water gets more and more scarce in CA, the price of salmon is going to go up.

(click on the headline for the article).


Friday, February 22, 2008

Open Access Advances

The February 18, 2008, issue of C&EN reports that Harvard University's arts and sciences faculty members now back the open-access movement in scholarly publishing. See also Harvard Library Director Robert Danton's editorial in the Harvard Crimson.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Returning to the US is always like diving in from outer space. It does not seem real.
This years trip to Cameroon was a difficult one. On arrival two children in our school died on Malaria, two easily preventable death. Four year old Benwih (picture) survived because her mother knew how to turn adult malaria pills into pediatric drugs. One funeral after another followed week by week. Nothing worked according to plan. Nothing happened the way it had been anticipated. But the expectations on us as "givers" where sky high. This was in part fueled by our last years capacity of gifts/donations carried by six volunteers. There was no way for me to match this.

Having said that the trip was also utterly successful. We as in AIDSfreeAFRICA strengthened our relationships with Cameroonians and made many more friends. I trained a technician at the Cameroonian Baptist Convention on how to produce a diagnostic reagent that is usually in short supply but urgently needed by AIDS treatment centers and hospitals. We delivered donations in form of vitamins, skin lotions, mosquito nets, tooth brushes, sewing supplies, and crocheting yarn.

On the pharmaceutical side of our work, the trip was in part supported by a grant from Tibotec, a Belgium based Pharmaceutical outfit. With their help I established the a non-profit program selling an antifungal at cost. To accomplish this we were enabled to hire four Cameroonians for the various aspects of the project. They are Eric the sales manager (picture next to me), Tamukum the medical delegate (picture middle), Suh Theresia Bi our secretary and Richard a pharmacist who will be conducting a feasibility study. The jobs are not full time and as of yet limited to a year or less but they create jobs for Cameroonians who educated themselves and would otherwise have to leave the country for employment. Pharmacist Charles Boyo (picture far right) from Bamenda joined us as well. We appreciate his generous gift of his expertise in handling this project.

Now back in the US my job is very clear: We need to raise US$ 50,000.00 to buy and ship a blister packaging machine to Cameroon. This machine is the missing link between now and the start of production - with production meaning packaging drugs bought as bulk tablets from India - Acquiring this machine for Diamond Pharmaceutical is a pivotal step that has more impact than what is visible to the bare eye.

I challenge everyone - no I beg everyone of you to send a check or go on-line to our web site and use paypal for your most generous contribution. Please ask your friends, colleagues and tell your neighbors. The US Ambassador Janet Garvey put it succinctly when she said: "Cameroonians will be so proud when they learn that their country produces drugs." Yes, so am I am and so should you. Thank you everyone at home in the US, Europe and in Cameroon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unanimous OA Recommendations from the European University Association

The 791 universities from 46 countries of the European University Association have unanimously endorsed some very strong OA recommendations, which Peter Suber has summarized as follows:

* Here's a digest of the most important of the recommendations. European universities should...

1. launch OAI-compliant institutional repositories (A2)
2. adopt OA mandates for their research output (A3)
3. educate faculty about copyright and encourage the removal of permission barriers at least for users in the author's institution (A4)
4. consider paying publication fees for faculty who publish in fee-based OA journals (A5)
5. work with public funding agencies with OA mandates to encourage deposit in institutional repositories (B1)
6. educate university rectors about the importance of OA (B2)
7. support OA mandates for publicly-funded research in the EU (C1)

Kudos especially to Lesley Wilson, Secretary General of the EUA, and Sijbolt Noorda, chair of the Working Group on Open Access. Thanks to Stevan Harnad for breaking the news, and to Peter Suber for comments and summary.

My comments: this is huge; it sets the direction for European universities. It will take some time, of course, for each university to set its own policies and procedures, and a bit longer for these policies and procedures to take effect. Other jurisdictions are likely to follow the European example, each in its own time. Even if the impact is not felt immediately, the importance of this endorsement should not be underestimated.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Two major open access announcements this week

Some major events in open access this week:

The final text of the NIH policy has been posted:
and a very interesting FAQ

The European Research Council has announced an exemplary Open Access Policy - open access to funded research within 6 months, no loopholes, and an indication that the 6-month maximum will be shortened! For links and a summary, see Peter Suber's Open Access News.

As always, the best way to keep with the latest developments is to tune into Peter Suber's Open Access News.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Social Innovation Conversations: Heather McLeod Grant

What makes nonprofits great? Listen to this excellent podcast of Ms Grant summarizing her and Leslie Crutchfield's new book, Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits. They also offer a course at Stanford University: Stanford Continuing Studies Course: BUS 92.

Cover Image

Thanks to Bob Rehner for the referral.

Bangladesh on "energy for a developing world" episode 2 (PBS)

Excellent program on the impact of a few dollars' investment on quality of life, environment and economics in Bangladesh. Don't miss it. See this preview.

Nobelist Muhammad Yunus on Charlie Rose

Watch this January 10, 2008 video of A conversation with Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammed Yunus on Charlie Rose. Excellent discussion of principles and social business (or entrepreneurship). One of our opportunities is to contribute to the goals he discusses. His new book ($18 at is Creating a World Without Poverty : Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus, Karl Weber.
Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year! Thank you to our generous donors

Happy New Year and Peace on Earth!
I want to take this opportunity and thank our donors. You are too many to all be listed individually but a few I will introduce to you all and explain the purposes that are attached to the donations.
Thank you to our 200+ donors during the year 2007 who have given big and small to our main cause: supporting people in Africa to produce drugs. We are pushing hard on this and before I come home Diamond Pharmaceutical will be producing a diagnostic reagent that the Hospitals and AIDS testing centers need to make sure patients are on the right combination of AIDS drugs. Most recently my hiking buddy Susan has contributed $500.
Gary Ostrow, Dr. DO PC donated $1800 towards the $6000 we need to give a micro loan so a very successful new school can move onto their own land and continue to grow in peace. He also donated $800 to buy mosquito nets. Pictures on that to follow soon.
Phyllis Pawlovsky and Ann Higgins are our sponsors. That means they contribute continuously on a monthly base.
Jeff Hurst from Herschey Pensilvania donated an analytical balance
Elliott Bay donated some of the chemicals we need to produce the diagnostic solution. He also donated an electrode to measure the pH of a solution, that is to measure how acidic or basic an aqueous solution is.
Susan from Rockland County was so kind to give us her mothers sewing supplies. See pictures below from Weh.
My dentist Lenore Schwartz, White Plains, NY donated toothbrushes and tooth paste for children living in a poor neighborhood in Bamenda.
This trip is sponsored in part by Tibotec, a company based in Belgium. They produce a very efficient and userfriendly antifungal drug and are making the drug available on a non-profit base in countries in Africa. Tibotec gave us a grant to find out what it takes so that this drug can be distribued and sold in Cameroon. We also want to find out if the doctors as well as the patients like the drug - as of today this question can be answered with a resounding YES. Fungus infections are very comon in Africa. Children have it in form of ring worms. That is a white flaky, itchy coloring on the head. Women know it as yeast infections and AIDS patients have it in the mouth and esaphokes and it is called thrush. It is one of the opportunistic infections of HIV/AIDS. Although thrush does not kill directly, the patient have difficulty eating and swallowing. Thus they stop taking in enough food. Unfortunately AIDS drugs require a patient to eat sufficiently. We are very hopeful that the drug will be allowed to be distributed through the already existing Cameroon Drug Procurement and Distribution Agencies.

I am looking forward to 2008 as the year in which we raise 1/2 a million US dollar. We have almost everything in place. What is now holding us back is lack of funding. I urge you to continue to be generous. Our web site offers the convinient PAYPAL credit card option. Your checks are always welcome.

With heaps of love and peace
Dr. Rolande