Archive for June, 2006

060626 – Monday morning

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Monday morning. Fresh from Starbuck’s. TIme has a lot of cycles here at the nursery. Years, months weeks each have their rythym and predictability.

Today, last week’s done. The accounting’s caught up – we know what we made for the week. This morning, I’ll run the deposit down to the bank and mail out the week’s bills.

They say men are mono-taskers and that women are a lot better at multi-tasking. I don’t doubt that it’s true. But, in this job, I’ve learned to multi-task better than all my years in the computer industry ever taught me. Accounting, customers, computers, web sites, machinery, irrigation systems, personal projects and more all come and go in any day’s hours almost without predictabilty.

Woods Creek Wholesale Nursery

But, none of this is in the form of complaint. When I drove out today on my way to Starbucks, I took a look around at all the greenhouses and plants and trees standing everywhere. Greenery and health incarnate in the morning light. And I realized how blessed I am. Most of what I saw was my wife and my worker’s doings and yet I get to be a part of it all. And blessed by Good Livelyhood in the Buddhist sense. Blessed by a successful business and workers and customers that are a constant pleasure.

Someday, I’ll say more here about my wife, Sharon. But it’ll be a longer piece than I have time to wade into this morning. She is the central wonder and treasure in my life.

excerpt from a letter…

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

This was extracted from a long personal E-mail thread between myself and some friends on the subject of Climate Change and what we can do about it.

> What more do you want from people who will hear the message,
> many of them for the first time?

I guess what I want and hope for is that those with the intelligence to see and understand the problem and to realize it is by far the most serious problem facing us, will ‘speak their truth’ at any good opportunity rather than quietly adopting a fatalistic, “Oh well, I can’t really do anything about it attitude.”

I don’t mean that we should change careers, sell our cars, wear hair shirts and pound our chests behind a card table in front of Safeway.

More…

Study: Earth ‘likely’ hottest in 2,000 years

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Panel: ‘Warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years’

WASHINGTON (AP) — It has been 2,000 years and possibly much longer since Earth has run such a fever.

The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the “recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.”

A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that Earth is heating up and that “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.” Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.

This is shown in boreholes, retreating glaciers and other evidence found in nature, said Gerald North, a geosciences professor at Texas A&M University who chaired the academy’s panel.

The report was requested in November by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New York, to address naysayers who question whether global warming is a major threat.

More…

Places to Intervene in a System

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Places to Intervene in a System” is the name of a paper written in 1999 by Donella Meadows of the Sustainability Institute.

Maybe it’s because I was a computer programmer/systems analyst for 25 years, but this is one of the best things I’ve read. When I read it, it was like watching someone pick up a tool you’d used many times and then suddenly seeing them do incredible virtuosa things with it. The clarity of her thought processes is amazing, to say the least.

Systems are everywhere around us. It’s probably not too strong to say that they comprise everything significant in this physical world. Once you’ve read Donella, you’ll probably realize, as I did, how poorly we understand how to intereact with these essential components of our world. And, you may see as well how that bears on the terrible mess humanity is geting itself into vis-a-vis the environment at this point in history.

Read and enjoy: (this requires a PDF reader)

060624 – As it is

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

I’ve decided to create a category for my own day to day thoughts about whatever. It will be sort of a diary – more personal and immediate than most of the stuff I focus on here, which is fairly bleak. Hopefully, this may level things out a bit and give it a more personal aspect.

Today’s been a good day though a hot one for the U.S. Pacific Northwest where we live. I started the day off at 7 AM at Starbucks with a latte and a good conversation about politics, unions, the environment and musings on the subject of ‘what can we ever really know about what goes on in high political circles?’ The idea being that by the time information gets down to we common folks, so many spin doctors have adjusted it – it’s hard to have any idea what really happened.

I spent the morning wandering about in this blog’s PHP code noodling out how to modify this and that. Mixed PHP and HTML is messy and the logic embedded within it is hard to ‘see’. I spent a lot of time rearranging code to see if I could take advantage of the code’s indifference to white-space to make it more intuitive and readable – but with mixed success.

Business was good here at the Nursery today. Folks came out in spite of the heat. Sales continue to be better than last year’s. We’re going to go out in a few minutes and get a salad someplace indoors where it is cool. Later, when we come back, I’m going to go out and do some spraying in the cool of the evening. Weeds need love to – and I’m going to help them out – at least the ones who are so unwise as to encroach on my fields .

What a Concept

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

What a simple and bold idea. And some states have already done it. If this would catch on, government might become truly responsive to the people rather than big money.

With the likes of Diebold on the voting scene, this idea may be rendered moot — but it does cause one to pause for a moment, realizing that we could, given enough political will, be free from the distorting influence of money in the electoral process.

LETTER TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS RE: INTELLIGENT THOUGHT

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Last week, the sixteen scientists who contributed essays to Intelligent Thought: Science Versus The Intelligent Design Movement, wrote a letter that was addressed individually and sent with a copy of the book to every member of Congress.

—————–

June 16, 2006

To Members of Congress:
We, the authors and editor of Intelligent Thought, are sending you a copy of the book in hopes that you will consider its message. The book is largely about Intelligent Design (ID), the latest incarnation of creationism. ID is a movement that threatens American science education and with it American economic predominance and credibility.

To full text:

—————–

The individuals who signed this letter include the following (who are among the very brightest and most articulate men and women of science on the planet today):

Scott Atran
Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique
Paris,
Department of Psychology
University of Michigan

John Brockman
Publisher and Editor
Edge (www.edge.org)
New York City

Jerry Coyne
Department of Ecology and Evolution
The University of Chicago

Richard Dawkins
Oxford University Museum

Daniel Dennett
Center for Cognitive Studies
Tufts University

Marc D. Hauser
Departments of Psychology and Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University

Nicholas Humphrey
London School of Economics
London, UK

Stuart Kauffman
The Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics
The University of Calgary,
The Santa Fe Institute
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seth Lloyd
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Techology

Steven Pinker
Department of Psychology
Harvard University

Lisa Randall
Department of Physics
Harvard University

Scott Sampson
Utah Museum of Natural History and
Department of Geology and Geophysics
University of Utah

Neil Shubin
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
The University of Chicago,
The Field Museum, Chicago

Lee Smolin
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Frank Sulloway
Institute for Personality and Social Research
The University of California, Berkeley

Leonard Susskind
Department of Physics
Stanford University

Tim White
Department of Integrative Biology and
Human Evolution Research Center
The University of California at Berkeley

Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

A multimedia report on television newsrooms’ use of material provided by PR firms on behalf of paying clients

Over a ten-month period, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented television newsrooms’ use of 36 video news releases (VNRs)—a small sample of the thousands produced each year. CMD identified 77 television stations, from those in the largest to the smallest markets, that aired these VNRs or related satellite media tours (SMTs) in 98 separate instances, without disclosure to viewers. Collectively, these 77 stations reach more than half of the U.S. population. The VNRs and SMTs whose broadcast CMD documented were produced by three broadcast PR firms for 49 different clients, including General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and Capital One. In each case, these 77 television stations actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients’ messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety.

Norway building ‘doomsday vault’ to protect seeds

Monday, June 19th, 2006

OSLO, Norway (AP) — It sounds like something from a science fiction film — a doomsday vault carved into a frozen mountainside on a secluded Arctic island ready to serve as a Noah’s Ark for seeds in case of a global catastrophe.

But Norway’s ambitious project is on its way to becoming reality. Construction began Monday on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, designed to house as many as 3 million of the world’s crop seeds.

There’s a mystery at the edge of our solar system

Monday, June 19th, 2006

30 Years of Pioneer Spacecraft Data Rescued:
The Planetary Society Enables Study of the Mysterious Pioneer AnomalyPasadena, CA, —There’s a mystery at the edge of our solar system.  Two spacecraft, Pioneers 10 and 11, which were launched to Jupiter and Saturn more than 30 years ago, are hurtling towards the edge of our solar system — but at a slower than expected rate.  Called the “Pioneer Anomaly,” the effect of this slowing is small, but measurable, and so far unexplained.