Jan 14, 2012

Renaissance for Change: A New Civil Order? - Kingsley Dennis, Ph.D.

Kingsley Dennis, Ph.D.
Full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kingsley-dennis-phd/renaissance-for-change_b_1182789.html

The world systems for a new era will be more likely not to emerge from an elite center, like the Renaissance that sprung up in Florence in the late Middle Ages, but from a groundswell of people-centred change. The "new renaissance" will come from the periphery or from the bottom up, a distributed and networked emergence of conscious individuals and groupings. Like ink dots on blotting paper, these conscious and creative active nodes will spread their influence through decentralized channels and processes until a time will come when the ink dots begin to fill the blotting paper. The social changes of the future are likely to come from revolutionary movements from the people, a shift catalyzed within the hearts, spirit and minds of the people. Movements for social and perceptual change are already growing, adding more pressure to the older institutions, which will be forced to adapt or die off.

The future years will demand that we change many of our current practices. It is imperative that creative individuals begin to think out of the box. It seems that our future will be steered more from the bottom up than from the top down. Frustration and despair can soon shift toward resilience, re-adaptation and renewal... What is being proposed by the framework of a new civil order is that as people are forced to learn new skills, they will take more and more responsibility for themselves. This will manifest also in revitalized concerns for one's family, friends and community. A shift of dependency is likely to occur that will take back power that many people had previously given away to external socio-political institutions (and commercial dependencies), and they will use this to empower themselves. People's relationship with technology is also likely to undergo a reevaluation. Instead of being wholly dependent on complex, unknowable technologies, people will learn to redesign tools to aid and empower rather than pacify themselves.

By this, it is meant that instead of technology working beyond us -- against us and/or out of our reach -- it will be working for us, and sometimes in more simplified forms. Projects and schemes already underway around the world that utilize new modes of technology include online gardening workshops for growing your own food. Information made available for self-farmers will encourage food production to be once again a prime aspect of family and civic life. There is currently a strong growth in the number of urban gardens and communal composting. Neighborhoods are sourcing water supplies and introducing local permaculture schemes. Social networks are already established that seek to bring home gardeners together to share tips, advice and friendship. Inspired innovators are currently developing new sustainable alternatives to industrial agriculture that push toward forming a post-industrial food system that is less resource intensive and more locally based and managed. An array of such start-ups includes BrightFarm Systems, SPIN-Farming, Virtually Green, Aquacopia, and NewSeed Advisors. Similarly, new networks are emerging of investors, donors, entrepreneurs, farmers and activists who are committed to building local food systems and local economies (such as the Slow Money network).

Alternative technologies are arising that seek to bypass traditional dependencies as the civil movement grows in power and determination. There are now markets for rocket stoves, vegetable-oil generators, solar refrigerators, cheap wind generators and reusable water bottles used as solar lamps. Innovations are also turning shipping containers into virtually cost-free homes. Social information networks are advising people on how to make their own soap, toothpaste, clothes and much more. Instead of recycling, there is now a movement toward "pre-cycling," that is, training people on how to exist not only on what they have, but also to transform their conception of necessity so that non-primary needs are taken out of the equation. Individuals and communities are learning how to live more on less. Monopolies of control belong to the old paradigm and will find no welcome as people collectively shift toward self-determination. It is predicted that these agents of self-determination will emerge as a new social generation of disruptive innovators. Disruptive innovation is that which is unexpected and arrives, usually from the periphery or the bottom up, to provide services that have previously been monopolized. Such disruptions are highly threatening to the hierarchical status quo, yet often empowering to civil society.

There is much disruptive innovation taking place around the world, with many tinkerers searching for solutions that are beneficial for people rather than for profit. And this shall be the new paradigm, the new civic order: a reorganizing of the social sphere away from consumerist dependency and exploitation and toward self-empowerment and community sustainability. People shall be motivated for their families and for other people rather than for profit and those binary digits in a virtual bank somewhere. The fallacy of the old world is angering a lot of people and the veil has already begun to fall. The curtain is being pulled back, and Dorothy is now seeing the Wizard for what he truly is: as the bald, bumbling man and not as the powerful maestro. We have been fooled for far too long, and it is time to wake up, to engage with the program of social evolutionary change, and to move on. The time is ripe for a new kind of emergent innovation, one that comes from high energies of experimentation and enthusiasm. Whatever the disastrous social consequences that the world may be forced to live through in the early 21st century, the renewal will be worth it.

A renaissance for change is coming into being, and it heralds an epoch for opportunity like none other.

For more by Kingsley Dennis, Ph.D., click here.

Excellent article... We are change that is coming. Don't count on anyone else... Monte

Danny Schechter - 12-17-2012

Very interesting watch, primarily about Occupy movement... Danny is a very dedicated, smart  journalist, ... Monte

Jan 13, 2012

nettle lasagna made from stinging nettles - how to recipe



Jocelyn Campbell of http://www.jocelynsevents.com makes a nettle lasagna. It's a lot like other lasagna, but the hamburger is replaced with stinging nettles. I thought it was an excellent lasagna. The best part is that a picky 15 year old eats the nettle lasagna.

Jocleyn starts off showing how to harvest some nettles for the lasagna.

The layers in the lasagna recipe (starting at the bottom): sauce, gluten free lasagna noodles, nettles, ricotta, mozerella, parmesan, more sauce (with shitake mushrooms), lasagna noodles, ricotta, mozerella, lasagna noodles, sauce, parmesan on top.

This turns out to be a vegetarian lasagna.

Jocelyn explains that the cooking time for the whole lasagna is 30 minutes and that she takes back the foil a few minutes before the end.

Just one layer of nettles in the lasagna this time. A previous lasagna had two layers.

Some friends come over for dinner and express their comments on the lasagna. 

Music by Jimmy Pardo

Never to late to learn new things... we have lots of these in our timber... and where we had sheep manure... rich soil, high nitrogen indicator plant... definitely wear gloves and pants or you will be etching forever... Mississippi River Islands are covered with these in understory ... Monte

Brandon Paul's bionic three - video

A Timeless Moment, a Classic  !!!

Ohio State coach is the voice...

Why Eat Organic Webinar Video

This webinar was recorded at the 2012 Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism, and Organic Conference. Jim Riddle, University of Minnesota, takes you through some current research and compelling reasons to choose organic food.

Excellent - many compelling reasons to choose organic food... Monte

raised garden beds: hugelkultur instead of irrigation

by paul wheaton

raised garden bed hugelkultur after one month

raised garden bed hugelkultur after one year

raised garden bed hugelkultur after two years

raised garden bed hugelkultur after twenty years


hugelkultur raised garden beds in a nutshell:
  • grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization
  • has been demonstrated to work in deserts as well as backyards
  • use up rotting wood, twigs, branches and even whole trees that would otherwise go to the dump or be burned
  • it is pretty much nothing more than buried wood
  • can be flush with the ground, although raised garden beds are typically better
  • can start small, and be added to later
  • can always be small - although bigger is better
  • You can save the world from global warming by doing carbon sequestration in your own back yard!
  • perfect for places that have had trees blown over by storms
  • can help end world hunger
  • give a gift to your future self
the verbose details about hugelkultur raised garden beds
It's a german word and some people can say it all german-ish. I'm an american doofus, so I say "hoogle culture". I had to spend some time with google to find the right spelling. Hugal, hoogal, huegal, hugel .... And I really like saying it out loud: "hugelkultur, hoogle culture, hoogal kulture ...." - it could be a chant or something.

I learned this high-falootin word at my permaculture training. I also saw it demonstrated on the Sepp Holzer terraces and raised beds video - he didn't call it hugelkultur, but he was doing it.

Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the rootsof what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets - so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water - and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.

I do think there are some considerations to keep in mind. For example, I don't think I would use cedar. Cedar lasts so long because it is loaded with natural pesticides/herbicides/anti-fungal/anti-microbial (remember, good soil has lots of fungal and microbial stuff). Not a good mix for tomatoes or melons, eh? Black locust, black cherry, black walnut? These woods have issues. Black locust won't rot - I think because it is so dense. Black walnut is very toxic to most plants, and cherry is toxic to animals, but it might be okay when it rots - but I wouldn't use it until I had done the research. Known excellent woods are: alders, apple, cottonwood,poplar, willow (dry) and birch. I suspect maples would be really good too, but am not certain. Super rotten wood is better than slightly aged wood. The best woods are even better when they have been cut the same day (this allows you to "seed" the wood with your choice of fungus - shitake mushrooms perhaps?).

Another thing to keep in mind is that wood is high in carbon and will consume nitrogen to do the compost thing. This could lock up the nitrogen and take it away from your growies. But well rotted wood doesn't do this so much. If the wood is far enough along, it may have already taken in sooooo much nitrogen, that it is now putting it out!

Pine and fir will have some levels of tanins in them, but I'm guessing that most of that will be gone when the wood has been dead for a few years.

In the drawings at right, the artist is trying to show that while the wood decomposes and shrinks, the leaves, duff and accumulating organic matter from above will take it's place. The artist is showing the new organic matter as a dark green. Read more, photos, & videos

Awesome usable knowledge that can help you feed yourself and others easier and change the world significantly for the better... !!! 
Monte & Eileen

Jan 12, 2012

Honeybee deaths linked to seed insecticide exposure

ScienceDaily (Jan. 12, 2012) — Honeybee populations have been in serious decline for years, and Purdue University scientists may have identified one of the factors that cause bee deaths around agricultural fields.

Analyses of bees found dead in and around hives from several apiaries over two years in Indiana showed the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides, which are commonly used to coat corn and soybean seeds before planting. The research showed that those insecticides were present at high concentrations in waste talc that is exhausted from farm machinery during planting.

The insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam were also consistently found at low levels in soil -- up to two years after treated seed was planted -- on nearby dandelion flowers and in corn pollen gathered by the bees, according to the findings released in the journal PLoS One this month.

"We know that these insecticides are highly toxic to bees; we found them in each sample of dead and dying bees," said Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology and a co-author of the findings.

The United States is losing about one-third of its honeybee hives each year, according to Greg Hunt, a Purdue professor of behavioral genetics, honeybee specialist and co-author of the findings. Hunt said no one factor is to blame, though scientists believe that others such as mites and insecticides are all working against the bees, which are important for pollinating food crops and wild plants.

"It's like death by a thousand cuts for these bees," Hunt said.

Krupke and Hunt received reports that bee deaths in 2010 and 2011 were occurring at planting time in hives near agricultural fields. Toxicological screenings performed by Brian Eitzer, a co-author of the study from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, for an array of pesticides showed that the neonicotinoids used to treat corn and soybean seed were present in each sample of affected bees. Krupke said other bees at those hives exhibited tremors, uncoordinated movement and convulsions, all signs of insecticide poisoning.

Seeds of most annual crops are coated in neonicotinoid insecticides for protection after planting. All corn seed and about half of all soybean seed is treated. The coatings are sticky, and in order to keep seeds flowing freely in the vacuum systems used in planters, they are mixed with talc. Excess talc used in the process is released during planting and routine planter cleaning procedures.

"Given the rates of corn planting and talc usage, we are blowing large amounts of contaminated talc into the environment. The dust is quite light and appears to be quite mobile," Krupke said.

Krupke said the corn pollen that bees were bringing back to hives later in the year tested positive for neonicotinoids at levels roughly below 100 parts per billion.

"That's enough to kill bees if sufficient amounts are consumed, but it is not acutely toxic," he said.

On the other hand, the exhausted talc showed extremely high levels of the insecticides -- up to about 700,000 times the lethal contact dose for a bee.

"Whatever was on the seed was being exhausted into the environment," Krupke said. "This material is so concentrated that even small amounts landing on flowering plants around a field can kill foragers or be transported to the hive in contaminated pollen. This might be why we found these insecticides in pollen that the bees had collected and brought back to their hives."

Krupke suggested that efforts could be made to limit or eliminate talc emissions during planting.

"That's the first target for corrective action," he said. "It stands out as being an enormous source of potential environmental contamination, not just for honeybees, but for any insects living in or near these fields. The fact that these compounds can persist for months or years means that plants growing in these soils can take up these compounds in leaf tissue or pollen."

Although corn and soybean production does not require insect pollinators, that is not the case for most plants that provide food. Krupke said protecting bees benefits agriculture since most fruit, nut and vegetable crop plants depend upon honeybees for pollination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the value of honeybees to commercial agriculture at $15 billion to $20 billion annually.

Hunt said he would continue to study the sublethal effects of neonicotinoids. He said for bees that do not die from the insecticide there could be other effects, such as loss of homing ability or less resistance to disease or mites.

"I think we need to stop and try to understand the risks associated with these insecticides," Hunt said.

The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative funded the research.

Ex-FCC Commissioner Michael Copps on Media Consolidation, Broadband Expansion, Threats to Journalism

Michael Copps served two terms with the Federal Communications Commission. 

Video discussion is excellent and informative... Monte

Now the staunch supporter of an open internet and opponent of media consolidation has retired. In a wide-ranging discussion, he examines the FCC’s key accomplishments and failures of the past decade.

Copps argues broadband is "the most opportunity-creating technology perhaps in the history of humankind," and laments that the United States still lacks a national broadband infrastructure.

He says the FCC has yet to address a lack of diversity in media ownership, noting that "owning a station has a lot to do with the kind of programing that is going to be on that station."

Regarding the future of journalism, Copps calls on the FCC to make access to quality journalism a "national priority," saying, "the future of our democracy hinges upon having an informed electorate."[includes rush transcript-partial]

Filed under FCC, Supreme Court, Freedom of the Press

Biochar Research

This is the beginnings of an undergrad research project examining the differences between the effects on soil cation exchange capacity, moisture and pH of two different biochar particle sizes as well as the impact of biomasses of plants grown in the two amended soil types.

Should be interesting results... Monte

Permaculture Is the Silver-Green Bullet

Jordanian Nadia Lawton, a permaculture teacher tells Green Prophet why she permaculture could be the region’s silver green bullet.

“Permaculture made total common sense to me,” insists Nadia Lawton, “it also fitted with my life ethics a a Muslim.” While the first part of Nadia’s statement may not be considered unique, her remark about Islam is. Permaculture is defined as the design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems that have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It basically looks at growing in a holistic framework which promotes sustainability, the conservation of resources and biodiversity. It is also generally promoted by atheist Westerners- so as a Jordanian born-Muslim, Nadia Lawton does not exactly fit the mould. I caught up with her to talk about the importance of permaculture in the Middle East, the role of Islam and overcoming barriers.

Back in September 2011, Jordan hosted the tenth International Permaculture Conference. The week-long events were coordinated by Nadia Lawton, who along with her husband Geoff Lawton, is a permaculture teacher eager to spread the word about the advantages of permaculture in the Middle East. Indeed, when I got in touch with her she was on her way home from teaching a Permaculture Design Course in Tarim, Yemen (yes, the very same conflict-ridden Yemen hitting the headlines). She informed me that there were plans to partner their Permaculture Research Institute with Sheik Habib Umar’s Dara Mustafa Institute and set up a new small 1 hectare permaculture school farm and a 16 hectare farm permaculture college.

“This is a very exciting new project of ours that could influence the whole Muslim world,” she remarked. “We are also working on a direct translation (of permaculture information) not only into Arabic but also to include Islamic text references to the holy Qu’ran and hadiths.” For Nadia Lawton, faith plays an central role in her dedication to permaculture and she insists that Muslims should all have permaculture values. She also adds this belief will soon be verified by Islamic scholars of the highest respect .

Nadia Lawton is also the founder of the Jordan Valley Permaculture project in Jordan which was completed in 2011. Located in a harsh desert environment, it demonstrates how permaculture principles can work even in the harshest Middle Eastern climate. “We always wanted to have a demonstration site and education centre to help local people… It has become part of my life work to set this project up so people can live in peace with the environment and each other.”

Nadia is also optimistic about the future. Over the years, she states she has seen big changes with more people – from locals to royal families- taking permaculture seriously. In fact, Nadia says she is certain that Permaculture “holds all the answers for food, water and sustainable development [problems in the Middle East] and it fits perfectly with the culture.” So when I ask her what is holding the development of permaculture in the region, she replies that it is limited funding. “This means we have to work with what we have and show people what they can do with minimum funding, which is good. But we always want to do more, so we can help more people.”

:: Images via Craig Mackintosh.

For more information on Jordan and permaculture see:
Jordan To Host International Permaculture Conference
Permaculture Hannukah Party at Yesh Meain Ecological Farm
Jenin Playground to get Green Makeover

The Declining Nutrient Value of Food - Sustainable Farming

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Conventionally grown cornmeal contains significantly fewer nutrients than an heirloom variety.

Evidence continues to accumulate that our industrial food system is not serving us well when it comes to the nutrient value of food. True, American agribusiness has given us one of the cheapest food supplies in the world, but science reveals this food is “cheap” in more ways than one. Here are some of the things we know at this point:


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Over the last 50 years, the amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C in conventionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables have declined significantly. We know this thanks to rigorous analysis of USDA nutrient data by biochemist Donald Davis of the University of Texas. Similar trends have been discovered in the United Kingdom.
Wheat grown 100 years ago had twice as much protein as modern varieties.
Major declines in protein and several other nutrients have been documented in modern corn varieties (see the chart).

Davis lists the following causes for declines in the nutrient value of food:

Environmental Dilution Effects. Scientists have known for years that high rates of fertilizer and irrigation use can lead to higher yields, but sometimes at the expense of nutrient density of the crops. Nitrogen in particular is difficult to manage in the soil, and when farmers apply too much it causes plants to take up more water, resulting in high yields but giving us foods that have lower nutrient density.

Genetic Dilution Effects. As plant breeders develop “improved” varieties that give farmers ever higher yields, they are inadvertently causing food nutrient values to decline. Consider calcium in broccoli: Widely grown varieties in 1950 had about 13 mg/g of calcium, but today’s varieties provide only about 4.4 mg/g of calcium.

Similar declines are also being documented in meat, eggs and dairy products. Compared with industrial products, foods from animals raised on pasture are consistently richer in vitamins A, D and E, beta-carotene and beneficial fatty acids.

Prominent biochemist Bruce Ames argues that many Americans are not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals, and that the health consequences of these dietary deficiencies — increased cancer and accelerated aging — should be taken far more seriously than other problems such as pesticide residues in our food. In his paper, “Increasing Longevity by Tuning Up Metabolism,” Ames points out that the quarter of Americans who eat the fewest fruits and vegetables have twice the cancer risk of the quarter that eats the most.

For a great list of ways you can get food with better nutrient value and still not break your budget, see Senior Associate Editor Tabitha Alterman’s article How to Find Better Food.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/sustainable-farming/nutrient-value-of-food-zm0z11zphe.aspx#ixzz1jECcGYab

5 Founding Fathers Whose Skepticism About Christianity Would Make Them Unelectable Today

Thomas Jefferson believed that a coolly rational form of religion would take root in America. Was he ever wrong.
January 10, 2012

To hear the Religious Right tell it, men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were 18th-century versions of Jerry Falwell in powdered wigs and stockings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike many of today’s candidates, the founders didn’t find it necessary to constantly wear religion on their sleeves. They considered faith a private affair. Contrast them to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (who says he wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president because non-believers lack the proper moral grounding to guide the American ship of state), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who hosted a prayer rally and issued an infamous ad accusing President Barack Obama of waging a “war on religion”) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (whose uber-Catholicism leads him to oppose not just abortion but birth control).

There was a time when Americans voted for candidates who were skeptical of core concepts of Christianity like the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus and the virgin birth. The question is, could any of them get elected today? The sad answer is probably not.

Here are five founding fathers whose views on religion would most likely doom them to defeat today:

1. George Washington. The father of our country was nominally an Anglican but seemed more at home with Deism. The language of the Deists sounds odd to today’s ears because it’s a theological system of thought that has fallen out of favor. Desists believed in God but didn’t necessarily see him as active in human affairs. The god of the Deists was a god of first cause. He set things in motion and then stepped back.

Washington often employed Deistic terms. His god was a “supreme architect” of the universe. Washington saw religion as necessary for good moral behavior but didn’t necessarily accept all Christian dogma. He seemed to have a special gripe against communion and would usually leave services before it was offered.

Washington was widely tolerant of other beliefs. He is the author of one of the great classics of religious liberty – the letter to Touro Synagogue (1790). In this letter, Washington assured America’s Jews that they would enjoy complete religious liberty in America; not mere toleration in an officially “Christian” nation. He outlines a vision of a multi-faith society where all are free.

“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation,” wrote Washington. “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.”

Stories of Washington’s deep religiosity, such as tales of him praying in the snow at Valley Forge, can be ignored. They are pious legends invented after his death.

2. John Adams. The man who followed Washington in office was a Unitarian, although he was raised a Congregationalist and never officially left that church. Adams rejected belief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, core concepts of Christian dogma. In his personal writings, Adams makes it clear that he considered some Christian dogma to be incomprehensible.

In February 1756, Adams wrote in his diary about a discussion he had had with a man named Major Greene. Greene was a devout Christian who sought to persuade Adams to adopt conservative Christian views. The two argued over the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. Questioned on the matter of Jesus’ divinity, Greene fell back on an old standby: some matters of theology are too complex and mysterious for we puny humans to understand.

Adams was not impressed. In his diary he wrote, “Thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity.”

As president, Adams signed the famous Treaty of Tripoli, which boldly stated, “[T]he government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion….”

3. Thomas Jefferson. It’s almost impossible to define Jefferson’s subtle religious views in a few words. As he once put it, “I am a sect by myself, as far as I know.” But one thing is clear: His skepticism of traditional Christianity is well established. Our third president did not believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, original sin and other core Christian doctrines. He was hostile to many conservative Christian clerics, whom he believed had perverted the teachings of that faith.

Jefferson once famously observed to Adams, “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

Although not an orthodox Christian, Jefferson admired Jesus as a moral teacher. In one of his most unusual acts, Jefferson edited the New Testament, cutting away the stories of miracles and divinity and leaving behind a very human Jesus, whose teachings Jefferson found “sublime.” This “Jefferson Bible” is a remarkable document – and it would ensure his political defeat today. (Imagine the TV commercials the Religious Right would run: Thomas Jefferson hates Jesus! He mutilates Bibles!)

Jefferson was confident that a coolly rational form of religion would take root in the fertile intellectual soil of America. He once predicted that just about everyone would become Unitarian. (Despite his many talents, the man was no prophet.)

Jefferson took political stands that would infuriate today’s Religious Right and ensure that they would work to defeat him. He refused to issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and fasting, saying that such religious duties were no part of the chief executive’s job. His assertion that the First Amendment erects a “wall of separation between church and state” still rankles the Religious Right today.

4. James Madison. Jefferson’s close ally would be similarly unelectable today. Madison is perhaps the most enigmatic of all the founders when it comes to religion. To this day, scholars still debate his religious views.

Nominally Anglican, Madison, some of his biographers believe, was really a Deist. He went through a period of enthusiasm for Christianity as a young man, but this seems to have faded. Unlike many of today’s politicians, who eagerly wear religion on their sleeves and brag about the ways their faith will guide their policy decisions, Madison was notoriously reluctant to talk publicly about his religious beliefs.

Madison was perhaps the strictest church-state separationist among the founders, taking stands that make the ACLU look like a bunch of pikers. He opposed government-paid chaplains in Congress and in the military. As president, Madison rejected a proposed census because it involved counting people by profession. For the government to count the clergy, Madison said, would violate the First Amendment.

Madison, who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, also opposed government-issued prayer proclamations. He issued a few during the War of 1812 at the insistence of Congress but later concluded that his actions had been unconstitutional. As president, he vetoed legislation granting federal land to a church and a plan to have a church in Washington care for the poor through a largely symbolic charter. In both cases, he cited the First Amendment.

One can hear the commercials now: "James Madison is an anti-religious fanatic. He even opposes prayer proclamations during time of war."

5. Thomas Paine. Paine never held elective office, but he played an important role as a pamphleteer whose stirring words helped rally Americans to independence. Washington ordered that Paine’s pamphlet “The American Crisis” be read aloud to the Continental Army as a morale booster on Dec. 23, 1776. “Common Sense” was similarly popular with the people. These seminal documents were crucial to winning over the public to the side of independence.

So Paine’s a hero, right? He was also a radical Deist whose later work, The Age of Reason, still infuriates fundamentalists. In the tome, Paine attacked institutionalized religion and all of the major tenets of Christianity. He rejected prophecies and miracles and called on readers to embrace reason. The Bible, Paine asserted, can in no way be infallible. He called the god of the Old Testament “wicked” and the entire Bible “the pretended word of God.” (There go the Red States!)

What can we learn from this? Americans have the right to reject candidates for any reason, including their religious beliefs. But they ought to think twice before tossing someone aside just because he or she is skeptical of orthodox Christianity. After all, that description includes some of our nation’s greatest leaders.

new years re:solutions | re:char

by JASON on JANUARY 9, 2012

As leaders in the biochar space, the re:char team tries to stay at the bleeding edge of emerging trends. We’ve come up with a list of predictions for the coming year and beyond. Comment around this time next year to see what we got right (assuming the world doesn’t end in 2012):

The Black Revolution is Coming: 2012 will be the breakout year for biochar. Soil carbon sequestration has become an emergent trend in Africa. On several occasions, we have heard Kenyan gov’t officials state that East Africa could be the ‘Inverse Saudi Arabia’ of soil carbon sequestration. In addition, Australia has launched the world’s first ever Biochar Capacity Building program to incentivize farmers to work with biochar. Multiple companies are launching bagged biochar products for horticulture with nationwide distribution. Oh yeah, and re:char has some big plans for this year, but we can’t talk about them right now….

Poop Becomes Cool: The influential Italian art and living magazine COLORS recently published an entire issue devoted to sh*t. It examines all aspects of the human waste supply chain, and how it can be improved. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also committed $42M (of which re:char is a grant recipient) to reinvent the toilet. For thousands of years, we’ve flushed value down the toilet. In 2012, we predict humans will finally give up the taboo and convert human waste products into value-added products like fertilizer and biochar.

Africa Rises: East Africa will become the most exciting place to invest and do business in 2012. The populations in the countries within are rapidly growing, urbanizing and increasing their standards of living while still maintaining ties to agriculture and their roots. Anyone working in tech, agriculture or clean energy should be looking closely at Africa.

Urban Agriculture Becomes a Necessity: As food supplies become increasingly more unstable and urbanization continues, city-dwellers will come to depend on food crops grown in urban areas. We are witnessing urban agriculture explode everywhere from Amsterdam’s Plantlab to Vertical Farming in Nairobi’s largest slum. This trend will represent one of the greatest disruptions in agriculture. Traditional farms will focus on grain production, with vegetable and fruit production shifting to urban farms.
Traditional Investment Models Collapse: Kickstarter has totally disrupted early-stage VC for hardware-based products. Tech Incubators have done the same for early-stage internet investing. The Occupy Wall Street Movement and the Financial Crisis have shown the risks associated with allowing the few to control the wealth of the many. 2012 will be the year that investment becomes truly democratized. Anyone can be an investor and can invest directly into the means of production. There will be massive losses but also massive gains in unexpected places.

Abundance: Conflict originates with resource scarcity. The West has been embroiled in conflict for resources for the entirety of the past 100 years. New models for food and energy production will emerge that will begin to create an abundance of resources in places traditionally shaped by scarcity (Africa, SE Asia, India). As these innovations become democratized, individuals will become radically self-reliant rather than dangerously dependent.

Governments Become Increasingly Less Relevant: A significant portion of the United States will be disappointed by the 2012 election. The US is so culturally and ideologically divided that it simply won’t matter who wins. In the Developed World, people feel alienated from their governments. In the Developing World, people don’t expect anything from their government. Groups like Peter Thiel’s Blueseed are subverting government policy through entrepreneurship. In 2012 and beyond, people will seek and employ new models to govern and provide social services.

I happen to agree with Jason's excellent predictions...
Looking forward to individuals becoming radically self-reliant rather than dangerously dependent...

Jan 11, 2012

Lou Henson investiture

Old timers pay honor to an even older timer.

Very nice honoring of Coach Lou Henson... 
Must have been inspiring for this year's team... 
Big win over Ohio State...

The Era of Entanglement: Humanity Is 'Back to the Jungle'

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2011/10/24/World_Changing_Ideas

Danny Hillis, co-chairman of the technology and design firm Applied Minds, characterizes the present day as a "post-Enlightenment" point in time in which people no longer understand the technology that surrounds them. Branding it "the Entanglement Era," Hillis compares humanity's current relationship to the technological environment to its relationship to the natural environment, such as a jungle.


World Changing Ideas

A conversation between:
Danny Hillis, Co-Chairman, Applied Minds
Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief, Scientific American

Compass Summit, a forum for true interaction and exchange, examines some of today's most pressing problems through the lens of global citizenship, recognizing that human ingenuity is an unlimited resource. Guided by NPR's Ira Flatow, an intimate group of some of the world's best thinkers and doers convened along the rugged Palos Verdes coastline on Oct 23-26, 2011 at Terranea Resort to engage in meaningful conversation, ask questions, and challenge ideas -- we invite you to join in the conversation.

Danny Hillis is an inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While completing his doctorate at MIT, he pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers, as well as the RAID disk array technology used to store large databases. He holds over 150 U.S. patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices. Danny is also the designer of a 10,000-year mechanical clock.

In addition to his leadership role at Applied Minds, he is co-chairman of The Long Now Foundation, Judge Widney professor of engineering and medicine of the University of Southern California, research professor of engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and professor of research medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and serves on the board of the Hertz Foundation. He has also served on the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute, the Advisory Board of Yale's Institute for Biospheric Studies, and SETI Institute's Technical Advisory Committee.

Making the Most of Your Mast, reproductive bodies of plants and is often associated with wildlife food sources

Carolyn M. Sekerak and George W. Tanner 2

What is Mast?

The term “mast” is a general term that refers to the reproductive bodies of plants and is often associated with wildlife food sources. Mast is often divided into categories of “hard mast” and “soft mast”. "Hard mast” is the production of hard-shelled seeds, such as acorns and hickory nuts. “Soft mast” describes seeds that are covered with fleshy fruit, as in apples and berries. Mast may also include seeds and fruits of all other plants such as grasses, herbs (forbs), pines, hardwoods, and fungi.

Diversity and Mast Production

Natural forest stands are composed of a variety of overstory tree species and understory shrub species. Species diversity protects forests from insect damage and disease. It also improves soil fertility, and is essential for providing wildlife with food and shelter. By understanding the importance of managing for a variety of plants, you are taking the first step towards maximizing your mast production.

Wildlife management has a rich history that traditionally focused mainly on game species. Original food habit studies were conducted on hunter-harvested individuals. Although these data were quite informative, they represented the diets of animals in just the fall and winter seasons. Modern scientific wildlife studies have identified year-round food habits of not only important game animals, but of many non-game wildlife species as well. Mast has been found to be consumed in all seasons, but not necessarily from the same plant species. Therefore, it is essential to manage a diversity of vegetation so that different types of mast will be available throughout the year. Examples of mast producers in different seasons are listed in Table 1. Mast producers for each season should include an array of vegetation ranging from ground-cover plants such as grasses, forbs and low shrubs, to large shrubs, mid-story trees, and overstory trees. Managing for several mast producers each season ensures that a variety of nutrients will be available to wildlife, and provides alternative food sources should one plant species have a year of low seed production. For example, white oaks produce few acorns during years in which acorn production is high in red oaks, demonstrating how the presence of both oak groups is complementary.

Nutritional needs of wildlife change from season to season, depending on whether they are preparing for reproduction, growth, migration, or hibernation. A diversity of mast producers can fulfill the changing needs of wildlife species. Nuts are very high in carbohydrates, making them an important energy source especially in the colder months. Mushrooms and other fungi, legumes, grasses and forbs are very high in protein. These plants are especially important to reproducing animals and their young during spring and summer. An example of seasonal variation of nutrients is evident in berry-producing plants. Berries of summer-bearing plants are high in sugar and carbohydrates, while the berries of fall and winter-bearing plants are high in lipids (fats). This seasonal difference meets the changing nutritional needs of wildlife through the year.

Mast diversity and increased mast production can be achieved by creating a varied landscape. In a pasture you may disc strips for planting forbs and legumes, or for providing a seed bed for establishment of local species. Leaving snags and logs to rot will provide fungi, a valuable protein source in spring and summer. Crowded stands of overstory trees produce poor mast yields and varieties. By opening the canopy you will allow light to reach more of each tree's crown, where it will stimulate more mast production. The canopy should also be open enough to allow light to reach the ground, where it will encourage the growth of desirable understory vegetation. Similarly, a dense midstory provides little mast, and suppresses the development of understory growth. A diverse vertical structure (vegetation growth from understory to canopy) supports more species than if most of the vegetation is in one stratum (e.g., a dense canopy). This can be achieved by thinning, prescribed burning, and mechanical or chemical treatments.

Mast Production Strategies

First, evaluate your land. Make a list of all plants and categorize them by season of mast production. What percent of your mast is produced in the spring, summer, fall, and winter? Ideally you want to have equal amounts of mast in every season, or only slightly more in the colder months when wildlife energy demands are higher. Is your seasonal mast production reliant on one type of plant? If that plant has a low mast year, what other species will provide mast? After reviewing your list, consider what you can do to increase desirable mast producers.

Now that you have identified some mast production goals, you are ready to achieve them. The following land management tools can be applied toward maximizing mast production.

Prescribed burning is the most effective tool available to the landowner, and can be used to achieve most management objectives. Growing season fires stimulate mast production of grasses, forbs, blueberries, and runner oaks. After a summer burn, protein content and palatability of grasses are higher, and the amount of mast produced by herbaceous and shrubby vegetation is increased. Summer burns are also effective at reducing midstory shrubs and vines, and promoting growth of herbaceous vegetation. Properly used, prescribed fires can be applied to site preparation prior to planting of overstory trees, range forage improvement, restoration and maintenance of natural vegetation, and control of undesired vegetation. The Florida Division of Forestry will help you plan and implement a burn program that is best for your land management objectives.
Soil Scarification

Through fire or mechanical means such as discing, scarification can be used to create openings for understory vegetation, or for planting or seeding native forbs in plantations or pastures. Fire is preferable to discing, as it retains root crowns of perennial plants.
Tree Removal

Thinning and partial harvests are important operations for gradually increasing community diversity. Selection cutting of overstory and midstory trees allows an uneven-aged stand to develop if a variety of species already exist in the stand. Uneven-aged, multi-species forests will promote mast diversity, and thinning should increase mast yields on the remaining trees. Patch cutting provides larger openings for the growth of herbaceous vegetation and establishment of young trees and shrubs. For rapid vegetation regrowth follow these removals with a prescribed growing season fire. Crown thinning (removal of large overstory trees) creates an open canopy that promotes development of understory and midstory trees and shrubs. Thinning by any of these methods on a 5 to 8 year cycle is recommended for increasing mast production. Alternatively, if different sections of a forest are thinned at staggered intervals of 3 to 5 years new mast production will be encouraged in different parts of the stand on a regular basis.


Byrd, N.A. 1981. A forester's guide to observing wildlife use of forest habitat in the south. USDA/U.S. Forest Service. SA-FR 15. 36 pp.

Byrd, N.A. & H.L. Holbrook. 1974. How to improve forest game habitat. Forest Management Bulletin.

Cerulean, S., Botha, C. & D. Legare. 1986. Planting a refuge for wildlife: How to create a backyard habitat for Florida's birds and beasts. Florida Game & Freshwater Fish Comm.

Collins, J.O. 1961. Ten year acorn mast production study. LA Wildl. & Fish. Comm. W29R-8.

Grelen, H.E. & V.L. Duvall. 1966. Common plants of longleaf pine-bluestem range. Southern Forest Exp. Sta., 96 pp.

Halls, L.K. & T.H. Ripley. 1961. Deer browse plants of southern forests. Southeastern Forest Exp. Sta. 78 pp.

Hunter, M.L. 1990. Wildlife, Forests, and Forestry: Principles of Managing Forests for Biological Diversity. Prentice-Hall Inc. 370 pp.

Miller, H.A. & L.K. Halls. 1969. Fleshy fungi commonly eaten by southern wildlife. South. Forest Exp. Sta. SO-49.

Robbins, L.E. & R.L. Meyers. 1992. Seasonal effects of prescribed burning in Florida: A review. Tall Timbers Research, Inc., Miscellaneous Publication No.8.

Shaw, S.P. 1971. Wildlife and oak management. In Oak Symp. Proc. Northeastern Forest Exp. Sta.

Stiles, E.W. 1984. Fruit for all seasons. Natural History. v:8/84. pp. 43-54.

Download PDF  Publication #SS-FOR-3  - Contains the Important Table --> Table 1.
Season of importance of wildlife food plants.

This document is SS-FOR-3, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published March 1994. Reviewed August 2010. Please visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

Carolyn M. Sekerak, former graduate research assistant, and George W. Tanner, professor emeritus, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611-0430.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension service. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim Dean.

The Basics of Permaculture


Permaculture is an emerging method of sustainable agriculture, focused on maintaining harmony with the native ecosystem.

Imagine a prairie. It stays as a prairie year after year, though the individual grasses may change throughout the season. What are those grasses, what animals live there, and how does this ecosystem stay stable through the seasons?

In essence, Permaculture studies the local ecosystem, and seeks to integrate its farming practices appropriately.

The methodology of Permaculture is structured like a pyramid:

Ethics forms the foundation of this system, followed by Principles, Design Methodology, Design Strategy, and Technology. Everything at the top of the pyramid must fit in with what’s below: Technology and Design must incorporate a system of Ethics and Ecological Principles.

This system in its concept is idyllic – what’s feasible to accomplish right now may not meet all of the requirements, but the ideal map serves as a guideline for where to go. It was created to be applied beyond just agriculture, to social structures like community, business, and government. Currently, its primary use is in gardening and farming, as the potential for other applications has only been explored on the surface.
The Ethics:
Earth Care
People Care
Share the Surplus
The 12 Principles, based on ecological patterns:

1. Observe & Interact

Nature just is – there is no right or wrong, there is only different. Values and judgments are human concepts that distort what’s really happening. It’s wise to spend a long time observing an ecosystem before starting to build or garden in it. That way, you can build or garden in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.

2. Catch & Store Energy

Energy comes in the form of:
- sunlight
- water
- seeds
- inherent heat (such as in stones)
- wind
- organic matter (in soil & compost)

3. Obtain a Yield
You want to obtain a yield in growing food, but also you want to make viable profit while running your own farm business. This concept includes taking care of yourself and balancing the budget books.

4. Apply Self-Regulation and Respond to Open Feedback Loops

Negative feedback probably means you need to do things a little differently, pointing to unsustainable methods. Excess positive feedback may hurt other systems. Your goal is balance.

5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
Don’t use up non-renewable resources, and always seek to restore resources. Build relationships with animals – they are our allies.

6. Produce No Waste
Everything should be made and used on site.

7. Design from Patterns to Details

The big picture is the most important thing to sort out first. Everything else falls in place after that. An important concept to remember is that every element has many functions, and every function has many elements.

8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate
Every element has strengths and weaknesses. In gardening, you can use this to your advantage by pairing plants with complementary needs, so they help each other grow steadily.

9. Use Small & Slow Solutions

Small and slow builds resilience and diversity, allowing your system to be adaptable.

10. Use & Value Diversity

Diversity forms the foundation of resilience.

11. Use Edges & Value the Marginal
Marginal land is not useless land. Marginal people are not useless people. Different things happen in different conditions, so there’s something useful to be found everywhere.

12. Creatively Use & Respond to Change
Things will always change, that’s guaranteed. What’s more important is how you respond to change – innovate continuously, and don’t give up

Those are the basic principles. If you wanted to apply these ideas to a business, for example, you can use #1 to observe and interact with the market before you build your business. You can use #2 to catch and store connections that come straight towards you so you don’t have to fight to network.

Source: Green Living Ideas (http://s.tt/15bnm)

Brandon Paul (Illinois) vs Ohio State 1/10 - Tribute to Lou Hensen

January 10, 2012. Brandon Paul scores 43 and Illinois beats the Buckeyes.

Brandon & Meyers Interview

Another Brandon Interview and Story--> Brandon Pauls-Historic-Night Lifts-Illinois

Great Tribute to Coach Lou Hensen

Brings back a lot of good memories...

Not seen a performance like that from an Illini player for several years... 
It was special night, especially with the honoring of Coach Lou!  

Go Brandon!!! Live on Lou!!! Go Illini!!! 
Monte & Eileen

Jan 10, 2012

Green Builders | Watch Green Builders Online | PBS Video

Watch Green Builders on PBS. See more from Green Builders.

'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss gives a talk on our current picture of the universe, how it will end, and how it could have come from nothing. 

Great presentation... Monte

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss and Richard Dawkins (Jan 10, 2012) (2 customer reviews)

Behind the Recipe - Angel Food Pie - YouTube

Great Video at http://youtu.be/FzfkenEPFUQ

It all started during the Depression, on Fran's wedding day. The hard times couldn't rain on the celebration. Though times were lean, people gave whatever wedding gifts they could, including this pie recipe given in lieu of the pie itself! Since then, this family favorite has been passed down from generation to generation, made for family dinners, birthdays, and other celebrations. It's a tradition that ties the family to its past, deliciously. Learn more about this heartwarming story and get the recipe for making Fran's famous pie!


2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) baked pie shell
1 pint heavy cream, whipped
1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts

Partially fill the bottom of a double boiler with water, and bring the water to a boil. Pour 2 cups of water into the top of the double boiler with the salt. Place the top of the boiler onto the bottom. Whisk 1 cup of sugar with the cornstarch in a bowl until all lumps are gone, and whisk the mixture into the water until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and translucent.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks. Pour in the hot cornstarch mixture in a slow, steady stream, beating constantly, until the mixture is fluffy and forms peaks. Beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread the filling into the baked pie shell in an even layer, and chill in refrigerator.
With an electric mixer, beat the cream with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a large metal bowl until the cream forms soft peaks; frost the pie with decorative swirls and peaks of the whipped cream. Sprinkle pie with chopped walnuts. Refrigerate until serving time.

Definitely going to try this recipe... !  Monte& Eileen

Jan 9, 2012

Documentary- A Silent Forest. The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees- Full Movie

This award winning documentary film explores the growing global threat of genetically engineered trees to our environment and to human health. The film features renowned geneticist and host of PBS' The Nature of Things David Suzuki, who explores the unknown and possibly disastrous consequences of improperly tested GE methods. Many scientists and activists are interviewed in the film, which serves as an effective and succinct tool for understanding the complex issue of GE trees. The film includes the testimony of many experts on the subject and serves as a valuable tool to inform students and those interested in environmental issues. The film has been well used in public forums, government as well as college and high school classrooms.

Excellent documentary... why Monsanto and others must be stopped...  Monte 

National Geographic Live! - Exploring the Edge of Existence

Nobel Laureate John Mather and Nat Geo Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard discuss how technology expands the limits of the known universe.

Very interesting discussion of the recent discoveries of the sea and the universe... Monte