Thursday, June 28, 2007
Water fleas put to work
RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE Press Review June 28, 2007 -
NRC.next has a story on the latest in ecological water purification. A sewage plant in the northern province of Friesland has introduced an ecological filter for the additional purification of one fifth of the sewage. A million litres of water a day is being 'treated' by water fleas and a 'purification marsh' planted with reeds.
According to the paper, the water fleas disinfect the water by eating floating particles containing E Coli bacteria and viruses, while micro-organisms on the reed stems provide additional oxygen. The project is part of the Urban Water Cycle, a collaboration between the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands.
Urban Water Cycle have an ambitious program.
Concert for Diana
Clearly the Wembley concert is just an excuse for Harry and Wills to throw an extravagant shindig. And we all know that's right up Elton John's alley...
Come to think of it, half the aristocracy have been up Elton's alley.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Burlington Voter Power
Burlington Voter Power is now inactive and has been dissolved (as a non-profit corporation). [Weird legalese they use, huh? It sounds so harsh.]
Burlington Voter Power was the the inspiration of Owen Mulligan. BVP was founded by Owen to promote citizen engagement in politics through voter education, registration and mobilization. We worked on it together. A joyful collaboration. Why am I grieving over the loss of an organisation, a project? Because it was a labour of love. It was our baby, our kid. The shared experience of working together is what bound us. We spent months, days and hours nurturing it, streamlining it. There was also a core group of volunteer notaries who helped out on registration drives and pre-election reminder-to-vote calls.
BVP was recognised by the Secretary of State's office and worked closely with the Burlington City Clerk's office. We had registration drives all around town, at schools and businesses. In 2006 BVP registered 228 voters, the majority of which were first time voters. 80% voted in the elections last November!
This Ain't Paintball
Police prepare for the worst, in bucolic, suburban Milton, no less! BPD already use shocking force.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Background on the SCOTUS decision this week.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Via Lenin's Tomb and American Leftist.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
A Sound Container
In our daily work, in our roles as caregivers and providers, in our manner of receiving gifts and good works of others, we can be disciplined or not, mindful or not, responsible and responsive or not, but always our actions both shape and are shaped by the vessel of character. And traditionally, religious faith and spiritual practice are thought to strengthen this vessel, creating a sound container for our developing relationship to mystery, suffering, and the Divine. Life throws things at us that we cannot predict and cannot control. What we can control is who we are along the way.
From Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons (Bantam Books, 2000).
Teens & Internet Social Networking
The Lead - June 24, 2007 -
Is The Web Dangerous For Teens?
As any one under 30 can tell you, the most important trend in Internet culture has been the rise of the so-called Web 2.0, which is the use of the Internet for social networking through such sites as Face Book and MySpace.
The most recent article of Atlantic features an often frightening exploration of the implications of the rise of the Web 2.0 for parents of American teenagers. First, Flanagan notes that these sites expose our children to the world--and the world to them--at a much younger age than before:
The history of civilization is the history of sending children out into the world. The child of a 17th-century weaver would have been raised and educated at home, prey to the diseases and domestic accidents of his time, but protected from strangers who meant him harm. As the spheres of home and work began to separate, cleaving parents from their sons and daughters, children faced dangers of an altogether different kind. The world is not, nor has it ever been, full of people who prey upon children. But it has always had more than enough of them, and it always will. . . . With the Internet, children are marching out into the world every second of every day. They’re sitting in their bedrooms—wearing their retainers, topped up with multivitamins, radiating the good care and safekeeping that is their lot in life in America at the beginning of the new century—and they’re posting photographs of themselves, typing private sentiments, unthinkingly laying down a trail of bread crumbs leading straight to their dance recitals and Six Flags trips and Justin Timberlake concerts, places where anyone with an interest in retainer-wearing 13-year-olds is free to follow them. All that remains to be seen is whether anyone will follow them, and herein lies a terrifying uncertainty, which neither skeptics nor doomsayers can deny: The Internet has opened a portal into what used to be the inviolable space of the home, through which anything, harmful or harmless, can pass. It won’t be closing anytime soon—or ever—and all that parents can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
And the incidence of predation appears to be more prevalent than parents seem to realize:
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children maintains that one out of five kids who use the Internet has been propositioned for sex. It’s hard to know just how accurately such events can be quantified, and when I first read the statistic, I found it hard to believe that, if indeed so many children were being propositioned, more parents weren’t uniting in outrage, rather than wiring up their kids at a blistering pace. My friends with teenagers were very open with them and were well-informed about the dangers of the Internet; I couldn’t imagine one out of five of those kids being propositioned by a stranger and not telling their parents.
But Hansen provides a second bit of information that made me wonder if that statistic wasn’t in fact on the low side. As part of the first episode of his show, Hansen convened a panel of tweens and teens, among them children of some of his colleagues at NBC, and asked how many of them had been “approached online by someone in a sexual way that made you feel uncomfortable.” Almost all the kids raised their hands. Then he asked how many had told their parents. Not a hand went up. And when he asked why they hadn’t told their parents, all the kids in the room said they didn’t tell because they didn’t want their parents to take away their Internet connections.
Suddenly, it all made sense to me: Teenagers don’t tell their parents that someone nasty got through to them for the same reason I didn’t tell my parents that kids were dropping acid at a party—because they wouldn’t let me go to those parties anymore. That’s the horrible, inescapable fact of coming of age: The moment you choose the world over your parents, you’ve chosen to make your own decisions about what’s safe and what’s not, with only your own wits to protect you.
Yet, perhaps the most troubling aspect of these social networking sites is not the obvious dangers of predation, but rather that this technology amphlifies the worst features of teen culture:
Most parents of teenage girls with Internet connections will tell you that their daughters’ physical safety isn’t in jeopardy—they’ve taken all kinds of precautions they think ensure this—but that the online experience is doing nothing for the girls’ peace of mind. Not many people are as ill-served by having their natterings subjected to instantaneous, global transmission as adolescent girls. In the first place, these girls’ feelings can be hurt by even a well-intentioned comment or question, and having a caustic remark that would have been bad enough if kept between two people suddenly unleashed to the whole clique, team, or school can be a wretched experience. Furthermore, because this new technology can make the old girl standbys of gossip and social exclusion and taunting more efficient—and therefore more cruel—many girls arrive at school each morning having experienced the equivalent of a public hazing in the privacy of their own rooms. While Johnny’s upstairs happily sneaking hard-core pornography past his Internet filter, poor Judy is next door weeping into her pillow because everyone in the eighth grade now knows that she still uses pads, not tampons. (Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, Mom and Dad are trying to figure out how to watch Dancing With the Stars now that the remote’s on the fritz again.)
. . .
Some of the most harmless aspects of MySpace would have crushed me at 14. Members get to list their “Top 8” friends, a list they can change at whim. It’s an ingenious number, because it’s just large enough to make exclusion really hurt—eight people, and there wasn’t any room at all for me?
One of the great paradoxes of our age is that at the exact moment when a huge number of teachers, parents, and school administrators have dedicated themselves to the emotional well-being and self-confidence of adolescent girls, a technology has come along that’s virtually guaranteed to undermine that confidence. A girl can go to school and happily discover that it’s possible for her to become a scientist when she grows up, but that may be cold comfort when she comes home to discover that five people just dropped her from their Top 8.
Read the entire essay here (subscription required).
These sites are here to stay--and are already an important part of teen culture. What can parents, educators and youth leaders do in response? Should our congregations address the implications of this new social trend in their youth programs?
Remember: It comes with the ADA Seal of Approval
Keep in mind, that the "fake" toothpaste had even higher amounts of fluoride than the high amounts in US brands (1,000-1,5000 ppm) ostensibly because those "unfortunate" foreigners don't have the "benefit" of fluoridated water. In addition to the diethylene glycol contamination of the toothpaste, the overload of fluoride itself was undoubtedly a major factor in the poisoning of those US kids who were hospitalized after using the bad toothpaste (as reported by Diane Sawyer on ABC's Good Morning America on June 18).
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Tuning into the deep secrets of creation
- E. M. Forster, A Passage to India
On the evening of Thursday, June 21, I truly experienced my own Mysterium Tremendum.
Approximately 40 people gathered at the Burlington Earth Clock for a Summer Solstice celebration. I live just a three-minute walk from its location at Blanchard Beach and headed over with my friends around 7 o'clock for the pot luck supper. Friends of the Earth Clock brought salads, soups, casseroles, and fruit to share. I had made a delicious fruit salad with poppy seed dressing. While people gathered to eat, others carried pails of lake water up the embankment to nourish the plants at the site. At 8 p.m., we assembled in a circle while Jessie lead us in the spiritual part of the celebration. Actually, the meal was a spiritual offering - placed on a flat rock apart from the stone circle - for breaking bread together. These kinds of rituals in common have deep meaning for me. We started by sitting in a small circle just outside the larger circle of rocks. People introduced themselves and, passing around a stone which Jessie had brought, said a prayer - one word or a phrase - about their hopes, dreams or praise and connection with spirit, God - as each person understood her - creation, the universe, the sun, the people and animals who came before us. Several participants drummed out rhythmic beats with sticks on stones, played simple wooden recorders as we all got up barefoot and danced inside the rocks, the 'circle of peace.' As the sun lowered over the summer solstice rock, the group became quiet for a moment and then, holding hands in a people-circle, shouted what sounded to me like garlic in Spanish - a loud Ajo! - but I think the sound is meant more an exclaimation of awe and wonder.
The participants were spiritually a pretty eclectic bunch. There were Buddhists, Jews, Druids, Wiccans, Deists, Christians - all sorts and conditions, to use a phrase from the BCP.
One of the organisers of the Earth Circle explained the importance of the placement of the rocks. One pointed to St Anne's Shrine on Isle La Motte, which is an Abenaki sacred ground; another rock pointed south to the deepest part of Lake Champlain; there is a rock for the Winter Solstice and another for the Spring and Fall Equinox.
Today, at 2:30 p.m., the Earth Circle group will gather for another celebration.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Speak out of love
I have on my office door these words from an accomplished Indian yogi: “Before speaking, consider whether it is an improvement upon silence.” The man who wrote them once went nineteen years without speaking, setting a standard I can’t hope to meet. Yet his words remind me that when we do speak, we must speak truth. Even more important, because truth so often eludes us, we must speak in kindness. In fact, we might amend the yogi’s saying to read, “Before speaking, consider whether you speak out of love.” If we could learn always to speak out of love, we could change everything.
For much of my life I’ve lived contentedly by a few simple rules: don’t track mud in the house, take care of your own, help others, do as little harm as you can, change your oil every three thousand miles. But maybe enlightenment is simpler than we think. I’ve been told that religion boils down to two beliefs: first, that there is something of ultimate significance in the universe; second, that there is a way of being connected to it. Each of the world’s religions offers a distinct way of connecting, and each of us must find his or her own way in to ultimate significance. Prayer, meditation, and selfless service are all honored methods. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has taught me that, if done right, washing dishes can serve as well.
From Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons (Bantam Books, 2000).
(Today was the Summer Solstice. This evening , just before dusk, I went to the celebration at Burlington's Earth Clock on Blanchard Beach. I'll post a report about it with some photos tomorrow.)
More on Moran
Ken Picard/Seven Days reports on the city's plans for the waterfront and the Moran Plant. The article quotes activist Loyal Ploof of Waterfront Watchdogs on its ballot initiative for the 2008 city election to demolish the plant. The Green Party of Burlington endorsed this initiative at its June 3rd meeting.
How not to win friends and reassure people
Related to what I wrote yesterday.
Don't kid yourself, though, it's also about getting re-elected
It was like a flashback to the fall, when we were getting fliers from political candidates every day, sometimes five in a day.
There in the mail yesterday was one from Peter Welch, our just-elected congressman. It looked a lot like the campaign fliers. Pastoral picture on the cover. "Working for Vermont," it says. Open it up and there he is in jeans and checked shirt, talking to a farmer.
This time Welch says he wants to hear from constituents about the issues that matter to them. There's a card you can tear off, fill out and send in ranking your issues. It's about constituent services, which are after all the number one purpose of a member of Congress.
Read the rest of "Postal Flashback"... (The comments are a hoot.)
Bumps and potholes in Bicycleland
AD reports that 47,000 cyclists have to go to the emergency room every year after an accident involving just one bicycle. The total number of bike accidents in the Netherlands is around 70,000 per year.
The Royal Dutch touring club, ANWB, and the Dutch Cyclists' Union say that they have had 18,000 complaints about bike paths so far this year. An ANWB spokesperson said, "It's just the tip of the iceberg."
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
William Gordon, the New York Times administration military lapdog, describes the assault on Baquba as a sort of arcade game called whack-a-mole.
So the planners of this latest operation are attempting to plug the holes that have allowed the insurgents to escape in the past. The goal is not merely to reclaim western Baquba from insurgent control, but to capture or kill the estimated 300 fighters to 500 fighters who are believed to be based in that part of the city.[...]Lenin's Tomb has a wonderfully thought-out post, vis-a-vis the assault on cities like Baquba, how it relates to the history of urban warfare, and the defilement of cities.
The presence of so many civilians on an urban battlefield affords the operatives from Al Qaeda another possible means to elude their American pursuers. If the insurgents do not manage to sneak out, some may hide their weapons and try to blend with the city’s residents.
To frustrate such plans, the Americans intend to take fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident who seems to be a potential fighter after they and Iraqi forces have gained control of the western side of the city. The Americans will also test for the presence of explosive material on suspects’ hands.
Officers are hoping that local residents and even former insurgents who have split with Al Qaeda may quietly help the American troops pick out insurgents. American troops have already begun to work with more than 100 Iraqis on the eastern side of the city — a group American soldiers have nicknamed the “Kit Carson scouts.” To try to prevent insurgents from escaping, American commanders are also stepping up their reconnaissance efforts.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Your Aim Will Help
24Oranges has a story on new Dutch toilets that separate urine from water to avoid polluting the Maas River with medications and hormones.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Green Gets Appointed to Burlington Housing Board
Congratulations to Owen Mulligan on his appointment this past week by the City Council to serve on the Burlington Housing Board of Review. Owen became the first Green to serve on this city commission. The Housing Board has traditionally been full of landlords and corporate "professionals." Owen will add his experience as a renter and a much needed fresh Green perspective to the board's deliberations. He is the second Green to serve on a city commission.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Declining Bird Population
Undernews - 20 SPECIES OF COMMON BIRDS HAVE LOST HALF THEIR POPULATION
Barre-Montpelier Times Argus - Population of Vermont state bird down 63 percent
Suburban sprawl, climate change and other invasive species are largely to blame, said the study's author Greg Butcher of the National Audubon Society.
In Vermont, suburban development has overtaken acres of pastures, forests and wetlands. Early season hay-cutting also destroys nests...
John James Audubon on the hermit thrush.
Their blood is on our hands
The thing to remember about the civil war between Hamas and Fatah now raging in the Gaza Strip and the Westbank is that it isn't some unexplainable eruption of senseless violence, but something that has been carefully engineered ever since Hamas won the 2006 elections. Fatah was of course loath to relinquish its power from the start, but more importantly both Israel and the socalled international community never had the intention to treat any Hamas led government as a true representative of the Palestinians, no matter if it had been democratically elected. the reason being that Hamas is a terrorist organisation and you don't talk to terrorists.
Read the rest of "Their blood is on our hands..."
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Coulda fooled me!
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Inland North
You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
No offence - oops, I mean offense (haha) - but I've never been asked if I was from Wisconsin. I've never even been to the 'inland North,' though I grew up as a kid in the NYC and New England; after uni I lived for over 20 years in Houston, Texas; and having lived in south-east England for a while, I can mimic the best Estuary accent. It was fun to do the quiz. How did all y'all do? :-P
Cheers to Michele at Anglican Underground.
The Snark is back
The Politics of Stem Cell Research
"Hollywood figure, filmmaker Jerry Zucker, is trying to influence the [stem cell] debate with his own video, this one a slickly produced spot posted on youtube.com.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Thanks to TalkLeft for this headline of the week.
As long as it's done tastefully
Monday, June 11, 2007
VIA Report Back to the Community - UVM Housing Proposal
June 7, 2007
Daniel Mark Fogel
To Our Friends at Vermont Interfaith Action:
Since I cannot be with you for your gathering on June 10 at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, I wanted to share this brief personal overview of the results of our recent discussion about the potential for the construction of affordable housing on UVM land.
I think we had a very frank and productive meeting on May 31st. Although we did not see eye to eye on everything, we found much comment ground among us; we have a good foundation from which we can move ahead and make progress on creating more affordable housing. - particularly for UVM employees.
VIA has worked hard to bring attention and awareness to these problems, and I greatly respect the energy, passion and persistence with which you have approached this issue. Although I did not agree with some aspects of your analysis with respect to UVM's role in creating current affordable housing shortages to the local community, we did not spend much time debating these differences. Rather, we quickly moved to what I think is a genuine "win-win" strategy.
That strategy involves the University's sincere commitment to pursue the construction of affordable housing units for our employees on an appropriate site or sites. Such a project needs to be consistent with our University mission, which includes our need to recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff who need to find housing they can afford. On a priority basis we are moving forward to identify, for such a project, potential sites that are consistent with our Campus Master Plan, will not interfere with future academic and other facilities needs, and can be accomplished within our available resources. We will keep this process moving as quickly as possible, and will keep VIA regularly and appropriately informed as to our progress.
In the near term, we will be working behind the scenes with local officials in the municipalities in which the properties we are considering are located. Once we have identified our preferred site(s), a more public phase of discussion will begin.
I am proud of the countless ways UVM positively impacts the greater Burlington community every day. These impacts will be enhanced and strengthened when this project comes to fruition. Be assured that this effort has my full personal commitment and support.
I wish to thank Vermont Interfaith Action for its possible role in helping to address important set of issues, and, with your help and encouragement, I have every confidence that we will succeed in this effort to create more affordable housing at UVM.
With every good wish, sincerely,
Daniel Mark Fogel
COMMENT: Shocker - I was surprised by the Fogel response. I want to believe his sincerity in finding a solution to this problem.
Be assured that this effort has my full personal commitment and support.
I am cautiously optimistic. One of the VIA tenets is accountability from officials. We already have the attention of UVM (power respecting power).
We will keep this process moving as quickly as possible...
VIA has done it's research. Its listening campaign strategy of building relationships works. Now the real work begins. Feasability studies can take place over the summer. VIA expects UVM to report back at the end of August.
Relatedly, UVM's liveable wage figures have gaps.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Affordable Housing Action TODAY in Burlington
Christopher Howse - The Beautiful Names of God
Jonathan Sacks - Can we really learn to love people who aren’t like us?
Giles Fraser - Remember that manners makyth man
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Waterfront Watchdogs Meeting in Burlington on Sunday, June 10
Friday, June 8, 2007
Impeachment: Let's look at the numbers
A Cruel and Unusual Sentence Indeed
Wilson is taking another shot at persuading a court to reduce his sentence by arguing in a habeas petition that 10 years is, under the circumstances, cruel and unusual.
Here's the bottom line, as expressed by the editorial board of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:[T]here is more at stake here than the freedom of one young man. The integrity of Georgia's criminal justice system is on trial, and the world is watching....
All told, Genarlow Wilson has served 32 months in jail. It's time to end this ride and let him go home.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
The Rigged Global Death & Destruction Industry
Oh, Look at that POLICE TRAINED K-9 in the Window!
Chelsea - Max was sitting in a police cruiser one night last summer, ready to leap into action to protect co-workers investigating the report of a brawl at West Fairlee's B&B Cash Market, when suddenly, a woman began creeping along the side of the cruiser and Max did what he had been trained for years to do: Bark. Loudly.
The Boston Globe has further coverage & TalkLeft has a opinion.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Arguing for a middle way from the extremes
An alternative African perspective, in the Anglican tradition of via media - The Anglican Communion: crisis and opportunity - read the full text of a speech by Bishop Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba of Botswana.
The late Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, wrote in a foreword to a book, Grow or Die in 1981, that "…no single form of Christian experience, conviction or organisation is going to prevail over others. Conservative and radical, contemplative and activist, pietist and social reformer, all must learn to live together. They may and should see much to criticize in their own and others’ position. The critical faculty must not be lost. Reverence for truth must still be paramount. But all must learn to live together, for in religion, as in all else, the same things do not appeal to everybody".
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
The Red Church
The parish is known as ‘Los excluidos,’ ‘the excluded,’ because of the three priests’ work with ex prisoners, drug addicts and immigrants, and their open door policy of services being open to all, including non-believers and Muslims. The priests always took services in street clothes in what is one of the poorest areas of the Spanish capital.
State Department Security Alert!?!
From EPISCOPAL LIFE ONLINE:
Episcopal clergy and laity from the United States and the Church in the Province of the West Indies attended the consultation, themed "Hol' Strain: Redeeming the Time," May 28-31 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queens, New York. The newly elected suffragan bishops of Cuba were also invited, but the U.S. State Department denied them entry based on Article 251 which deemed them a danger to the security of this country.
Shifting the Political Consensus
Monday, June 4, 2007
Radio Netherlands Worldwide -
Trouw and AD print almost the same Spencer Tunick photograph taken early on Sunday morning in Amsterdam. The photos both feature the spiral bands of a multi-storey car park with 2000 naked people standing facing the camera. De Telegraaf places a picture of naked cyclists leaning backwards and looking upwards on a bridge on the inside pages. Below it is a picture of the artist with a megaphone held to his mouth, "Thank you Amsterdam".
The pictures have been taken as part of the art festival, Dream Amsterdam, held for the first time last weekend. Each year, the festival asks a famous artist to create a piece of art in the city. Don't worry if you missed the spectacle, life-size photographs will be on view in the city centre throughout the summer.
Comment: I totally approve of the event. A friend in NL writes that yesterday's Dream Amsterdam got immense publicity. However, I don't like men and women reduced to just a mass of fleshcolour. I would tend to agree with my friend, "I prefer more the close ups of naked bodies and the beauty of a person in detail."
The car park (Lijnbaansgracht, next to old Police HQ) is very beautiful. Coincidentally, my friend and I had the same reaction: it has kind of NYC Guggenheim-feel to it.
Trouw story in Dutch.
In English and Dutch - Dream Amsterdam
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Reflections on Poverty and Climate Change
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Conyers' Internal Battle
Friday, June 1, 2007
Carrying a disease is not a crime
Today is the birthday of Frederica von Stade. Here she sings - with Kathleen Battle and Elisabeth Söderström - a concert performance of Hab' mir's gelobt, the final trio from my most favourite opera ever, Der Rosenkavalier...