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The Italian concrete with an appetite for air pollution

constructionBusinessweek reports that Italcementi, an Italian concrete company, has introduced a smog-eating compound called TX Active, which can be mixed into regular cement and applied to buildings and road surfaces. The resulting concrete has the ability to break down many air pollutants such as nitric oxides into less volatile compounds. And these aren't just laboratory results—streets in Segrate, Italy, that were repaved with the material have generated air pollution reductions of up to 60 percent. Best of all, the compound is very inexpensive. Adding it to the facade of a five-story building only costs around $120. The other added benefit: White concrete stays white, since TX Active breaks down many of the pollutants that regularly stain structures.

Some other facts on concrete:
Concrete is the most abundant man-made material on Earth. About six billion cubic meters are poured every year, one for every person on the planet. China consumes about 40 percent of annual worldwide concrete production.

via Slashdot 

Passport

Zen and the art of military management

RumsfeldToday's "Recycled" feature at Slate.com is a 2003 posting on Rummy's poetry. Reporter Hart Seely used DoD transcripts to put Rumsfeld's ruminations into verse. If you didn't read the original posting or Seely's book, The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld, it's worth a look.

My personal favorite:

A Confession
Once in a while,
I'm standing here, doing something.
And I think,
"What in the world am I doing here?"
It's a big surprise.

—May 16, 2001, interview with the New York Times