Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags – New York Times

There is something missing from this otherwise typical bustling cityscape. There are taxis and buses. There are hip bars and pollution. Every other person is talking into a cellphone. But there are no plastic shopping bags, the ubiquitous symbol of urban life.

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

in order to combat regular flash flooding in kuala lumpur (sometimes twice yearly) caused by two overflowing rivers in the north of the city, engineers decided to construct a huge stormwater tunnel to drain the water from it’s source to a reservoir, underground. they then thought, `why not kill two birds with one stone?’, went back to the drawing board and managed to alleviate another of the city’s problems: major traffic congestion.

in a circular nutshell, here’s the amazing solution…

the whole tunnel system is 9.7km long – only the 4km of tunnel that runs under the heavily congested roads of the city is split into the three sections you can see above.

this system has three modes of operation.

mode 1: no storms – the tunnel is used purely as an underground motorway on the top two levels.

mode 2: moderate storms – traffic is still permitted to use the top levels and any flood water is channeled through the lower level.

mode 3: major storms – all traffic is cleared from the tunnel and water surges through all 3 levels.

Moon-Fish-Ocean: A Zen Conversion of Rock-Paper-Scissors

Moon * Fish * Ocean is a Zen hand game for one, two, or three players. In the strictest Zen interpretation, the game is played by only one person, with one hand, as a koan (a paradoxical puzzle to trigger enlightenment).

Easy to learn and highly rewarding, every game communicates a Zen poem through sign language. That’s because in Buddhism, moonlight symbolizes enlightenment, water symbolizes self-nature, and fish symbolize living beings (K’uan Y Lu, Ch’an and Zen Teaching, 1960).

A less poetic, secular version of Moon * Fish * Ocean is popularly known as “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”