Archive for February, 2007

New Zealand, Telecom and the future

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

For my New Zealand friends who read this site, I recommend you take a look at the following posting from one of your best and brightest.

Rod Drury has written a paper entitled, “Securing our Digital Trade Routes” and it makes some strong and appropriate suggestions with regard to what New Zealand should do about reforming its telecommunications structure – if it doesn’t want to get left at the back of the pack with the third-world nations.

I highly recommend it.

Here’s the link to his post and the paper:

070228 – Wednesday – Opening Day

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Our web site says we’re opening this Saturday, March 3rd, for the 2007 season. But, the other day, we decided to unofficially open today since we’d promised customers we’d be here. So, the gate is standing open as I write this. Here are some photos of what our 2007 opening looks like.

The nursery on opening day Customers are stacking up out there Snow as far as you can see


The cats won’t go out in this Fish in the pond don’t like it These Witch Hazels are very confused

So, come on out for our Spring opening. And bring your own hot chocolate – you mght need it <smile>.

Cheers, from Woods Creek Wholesale Nursery
out in the wilds of the Snohomish

— later.   I posted the above at 10 AM or so.   It’s now 1:30 PM and it is continuing to fall. Yikes!   I hope it lets up or we’ll be out all night  removing snow from the greenhouse roofs to prevent them from collapsing under the load.

Where to report Spam

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

I report some of the spam I receive – especially any connected with the banks I use. Today, I wanted to report one which originated from a yahoo E-mail address and I didn’t know where to report it to. In the course of trying to find out, I discovered a great web site which has compiled a ton of E-mail addresses to which you can report many kinds of spam. I suggest you bookmark it – it is a great resource.

And, since we’re on the topic of Spam, isn’t it amazing that you could ask virtually anyone who spends time on the Internet if they think Spam should be outlawed and they would say ‘Yes’. And yet, and yet, we apparently have no effective laws and prosecution against it. Our national representatives find time to slip in every pork-barrel measure they can but, as a group, they cannot unite against an annoyance that 99% of their constituants would like to see banned. It really makes you wonder.

White House: U.S. Invaded Iraq ‘Under U.N. Authorization’

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

– Ya gotta love the brass of the Administration as they try to rewrite history.  A week or so back, they were also claiming that they have always been staunch environmentalists. 

 Yeah, right !


In an effort to push back against congressional efforts to rescind the original 2002 Iraq War resolution, White House press spokesman Tony Fratto on Friday argued the United Nations had authorized the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq:

“The president said this isn’t the fight we entered in Iraq, but it’s the fight we’re in,” Fratto told reporters Friday. “We went in as a multinational force under U.N. authorization to take military action in Iraq. We were there as an occupying force, and now we’re there at the invitation of the sovereign, elected government of Iraq.”

Actually, the White House did not invade Iraq “under U.N. authorization.” President Bush had promised to take the issue to the U.N. Security Council “no matter what the whip count,” but never did. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan described the invasion of Iraq as “not in conformity with the UN charter…from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”

To the original post…

5 governors agree to work on climate

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — Governors from five Western states agreed Monday to work together to reduce greenhouse gases, saying their region has suffered some of the worst of global warming with recent droughts and bad fire seasons.

The governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington state agreed that they would develop a regional target to lower greenhouse gases and create a program aimed at helping businesses reach the still-undecided goals.

“In the absence of meaningful federal action, it is up to the states to take action to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this country,” said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat. “Western states are being particularly hard-hit by the effects of climate change.”



New Sub Dives Crushing Depths

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Scientists at the University of Washington have developed an autonomous underwater vehicle that can stay out to sea for up to a year and dive to depths of nearly 9,000 feet — nearly three times deeper than the deepest-diving military submarines.

Known as Deepglider, the 71-inch long, 138-pound device is made of carbon fiber that can withstand the deep ocean’s immense pressure. The energy-efficient, battery-powered glider carries sensors to measure oceanic conditions including salinity and temperature — information that is key to understanding climate change. When the measurements are complete, Deepglider rises to the surface and transmits the data via satellite to onshore scientists.

“Reaching a depth of 2,700 meters (nearly 9,000 feet) is quite a feat and promises to extend the nature and type of missions that can be carried out by gliders,” says Princeton University engineering professor Naomi Leonard. “You could even imagine a heterogeneous fleet of gliders working in tandem at different depths to explore this otherwise impenetrable undersea.”


First bird-flu vaccine less effective than thought

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s first vaccine against bird flu is even less effective than previously thought, according to Food and Drug Administration documents released Monday.

In clinical trials, the two-shot series appears to provide protection to just 45 percent of adults who received the highest dose of the Sanofi Aventis SA vaccine.

An earlier, interim analysis of the same study of the vaccine suggested it sparked a protective immune response in 54 percent of patients, when measured 28 days after getting the second shot. The New England Journal of Medicine published those results in March 2006.

The FDA released the more recent results, contained in company and agency documents, ahead of a Tuesday meeting where it will ask a panel of outside experts to review the vaccine. The agency isn’t required to follow the advice of its advisory committees, but usually does. The vaccine is the first against the H5N1 influenza strain to seek FDA approval.


070226 – Monday – Letter to a friend

Monday, February 26th, 2007


I do speculate.   Probably everyone does.  Quantum physics and cosmology are both tough areas, though.  As humans, we find it hard to imagine that things might not have a beginning or end; like time and space.  Or that things can work the way they tell us they do at the quantum physical level.  So, I find that my mental machinery is already ‘challenged’ to try to imagine what they are telling me, much less to really grasp it and then imagine on further.

The ultimate question of where did the universe come from assumes a beginning.  The idea that the universe will expand forever, suggests the question of what’s beyond the area it is expanding into.  If you talk to scientists, some will tell you that it is the questions themselves that are wrong.

I used to try to understand how space/time could curve back on itself as Einstein suggested.  That if you went long enough in one direction, you’d end up back in the same place again.   I never got it until someone pointed out the Mobius Strip as a representation of the idea and that being on the surface of a sphere is another.  In both cases, you can start from a place and go in a direction and arrive back in the same place.  With three-dimensional space, it is harder for our brains to wrap themselves around the same idea but, apparently, it is true.   So, there may not be a ‘beyond’ beyond what we see as strange as it might seem.  I’ve read several laymen’s books on Einstein’s theory of Relativity and I still find them tough going.

I guess I’m seeing, as I’m writing, that in these areas I’m not speculating so much as trying to grasp what there already is to know.

The idea of the Big Bang and of what they call The Expansion bugs me.   It doesn’t feel right but that’s about all I can say about it.

And what about quantum physics?   They tell us that as you get smaller and smaller, you finally come to things the size of the Planck limit.   They say that there is nothing smaller.  Well, I find that bizarre just like I find the idea that there’s nothing bigger than the universe or no beginning of time.  But, perhaps that’s just because I inhabit an evolved mammalian brain which has no way to wrap itself around such ideas.

And Schrodering’s Cat is a situation that endless numbers of folks have thought about and gone away baffled and yet quantum physics tells us it is so.   Too weird.

So, where do I like to speculate?  I’m fascinated by the mind and consciousness and what perception really is.  What is awareness and self-awareness and how does the mind ‘model’ the reality around us?   How accurate or inaccurate are our perceptions?   The very tool (the mind) we use to ponder these things has inherent in it distortions and shortfalls that interfere with our ability to see through to the answers clearly.   I think a lot of this interest arose from having meditated for many years and spent a lot of time in inner spaces.

One of the reasons I enjoyed altered states of consciousness years ago was because they gave me an alternative to the normal state.  And it is a truism that you cannot see where you are until you’ve seen it from some alternate place.   The more ‘elses’ you’ve visited, the more perspectives you can get on what is transitory and what is fixed among the different places.

Meditation allows you time to experiment with awareness without words, of being without time, of forming intentions and holding them as feelings and not words.  Of identifying with the nervous system that is centered in your abdomen rather than the one in your head.  Of separating your awareness from the stream of chatter that is ever arising from the mind’s language center.  Of realizing as a direct knowing what creativity is and then coming back into normal consciousness and not being able to say it.

I like to speculate about history and where mankind is going and how this same drama might have played itself out on other planets where intelligent life evolved long ago and what might have become of those creatures if they managed to pass through their technological adolescence without destroying themselves.

I like to aggressively find and separate myself from my unconscious belief systems and replace them with things that I’ve had a good look at and have consciously decided are worth incorporating so that who and what I am is more and more a matter of conscious intentional choice rather than being composed of the flotsam and jetsam that happened to wash through my life during my formative years.  And this connects back into a circle with the stuff I said earlier about trying to understand the foibles and limitations of the human mind.  I highly recommend a book called “A Mind of it Own” by Cornelia Fine in this regard.

I find a lot of this to be hard going.   On every side, the temptation to get sucked into some bogus belief system is there.  Hence, why I cleave so tightly to what science reveals.  Hence why I constantly am taking time to stand away from my own beliefs and challenge them and look at alternatives so that I don’t get sucked into the trap of identifying with them and associated them with my ego and thus ending up defending them – right or wrong.

The ego is a big obstacle to clarity.   Cognitive dissonance is a big obstacle.  Assumptions are a problem.  The very way the mind works is a problem.  And yet, someplace behind all of these shifting sands of illusion and misperception, is the bedrock reality we find ourselves within – even though each of us will give a different description of it.

I could go on for while like this.


The Stuff Sam Nunn’s Nightmares Are Made Of

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

By now we can too readily imagine the horror of terrorists exploding a nuclear weapon in a major American city: the gutted skyscrapers, the melted cars, the charred bodies. For Sam Nunn, however, a new terror begins the day after. That’s when the world asks whether another bomb is out there. “If a nuclear bomb went off in Moscow or New York City or Jerusalem, any number of groups would claim they have another”, Nunn told me recently. These groups would make steep demands as intelligence officials scrambled to determine which claims were real. Panic would prevail. Even after the detonation of a small, crude weapon that inflicted less damage than the bomb at Hiroshima, Nunn suggested, “The psychological damage would be incalculable. It would be a slow, step-by-step process to regain confidence. And the question will be, Why didn’t we take steps to prevent this? We will have a whole list of things we wish we’d done.“

Nunn thinks of those things every time he picks up a newspaper. When, for instance, he reads about the arrest of a Russian man who, in a sting operation, tried to sell weapons-grade uranium – a reminder of a possible black market in nuclear materials and of the poor security at facilities in the former Soviet Union. Or when he sees news about Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, which could set off a wave of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and thus significantly raise the possibility that terrorists will someday acquire a bomb. And despite the apparent diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea earlier this month, in which the North Koreans agreed to begin dismantling their nuclear facilities in return for fuel and other aid, Nunn, who finds the deal encouraging, remains concerned since North Korea’s unpredictable, cash-starved dictatorship still retains perhaps half a dozen nuclear bombs, and the ingredients to make more.


– This article is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, recently, a friend of mine suggested the website :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

– Research thx to Tony B.

Net Neutrality – A major big deal

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

– I’m convinced these folks are right. We need to maintain Net Neutrality. Big corporations control TV, Radio and Newspapers. Virtually all the news we get is through a one-way pipe; from them to us. And that news has the spin they want to put on it for their good – not ours. Remember, in the end, corporations are entities which exist only to maximize the profits of their stock holders.

– The Internet is the one thing that has happened in recent history wherein media has been recreated as a two-way street available for all of us to use. Big corporations want to take over control of this new media to (1) profit from it by forcing us to pay them for their services and access and (2) to better control the news and information we receive for their benefit.

– We cannot afford to let them do this. Support Net Neutrality and contact your respresentatives and tell them that you do.

Save the Internet | Rock the Vote