Apr 14, 2012

Fabricating a Heavy-Duty Rocket Stove

Full Article:

Rocket stoves are small efficient stoves that can produce a hot flame with only a few small pieces of wood. The reason it is called a rocket stove is because when wood is added to the fire the flames create an internal draft. As the draft is created, the fire begins to produce a jet of fire coming through the stove pipe. The stove flame eventually becomes so hot that it produces very little smoke. The stove should be able to produce a hot continuous flame that will lick the bottom surface of a pot or pan placed on top of the stove.

These stoves were created out of necessity in third world countries to cook small meals and have recently become more popular as a do-it-yourself camping stove. A rocket stove is usually made from readily available materials that can be recycled for reuse. To make a large stove, it is not unusual for the outside shell of the stove to be made from an old propane tank, Freon tank, or air compressor tank. To complete the following instructions for making a rocket stove, experience in welding and metalworking is needed as this project requires a great deal of it.

SFMOMA on Buckminster Fuller - the original genius

Saturday, April 14, 2012
Olivo Barbieri, site specific_ MONTREAL 04 [Buckminster F... Courtesy of SFMOMA

Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Non-Symmetrical Tensi... Courtesy of SFMOMA
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Motor Vehicle-Dymaxio... Courtesy of SFMOMA
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Building Construction... Courtesy of SFMOMA

Courtesy of SFMOMA

SFMOMA's Buckminster Fuller show features Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno's "HYDRAMAX Port Machine" (2012), model.

Right away it's like falling down the rabbit hole.

The first piece in the Buckminster Fuller show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art poses the kind of woozily daunting challenge Lewis Carroll might have relished. On a text-heavy chart that tracks, among other things, the U.S presidents, transportation systems and predictions of World War III, visitors can pause to contemplate, as one line puts it, "the dynamic interpositioning of all the individually remote bodies of a complex movement."

What to make of this "Grand Strategy of World Problem Solving"? Was it in dead earnest or an elaborate put-on, or perhaps a little of both?

What does Fuller, the iconoclastic scientist, designer, theorist and writer whose geodesic domes made him a 1960s countercultural emblem, mean to us now? Or is he, like his three-wheeled Dymaxion car, quixotic energy schemes and plans to end world poverty, a kind of endearing fossil of our naively visionary past? Is Bucky just too much of a maximalist dreamer for the byte-size 21st century?

The SFMOMA show, "The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area," argues that its hero's influence was wide and long-lasting. "The Whole Earth Catalog," David de Rothschild's recycled Plastiki sailboat, the global One Laptop per Child program, North Face camping tents and San Francisco's energy-efficient 2007 Federal Building, with its folded-screen facade, are all seen as part of the Fuller legacy.

Such long-lens views of his enduing, even prophetic importance are nothing new. "R. Buckminster Fuller intentionally worked fifty years ahead of his time," wrote J. Baldwin in the 1996 book "Bucky Works." "Thirteen years after his death (in 1983), his ideas, discoveries and inventions offer solutions to many of our most severe worldwide problems."
Lasting fascination

Even when the evidence for such claims seems spotty or wishfully inflated, Fuller continues to fascinate. Books, like "Becoming Bucky Fuller" and "New Views on R. Buckminster Fuller," both published in 2009, continue to appear. A wonderstruck play, D. W. Jacobs' "R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe," which enjoyed a long San Francisco run in the 1990s, played major East Coast theaters in 2010-11. The SFMOMA show was crowded on a recent weekday afternoon.

Like his famous domes, Fuller registers now in a multifaceted way. It's impossible not to admire and pine for his comprehensive big-picture views. Who, today, can match his scope and fervent passion on the essential issues - energy, world population, education, urban planning, housing? He may have been wrong about a lot of things - those domes turned out not to transform the way we live, and poverty is still very much with us - but the sheer grandeur of his ideas conjured a kind of collective idealism that a hundred topic-oriented TED Talks can't match.

Fuller's "Spaceship Earth," with everyone aboard, was a poetic plea to pay attention to our fragile planet long before climate change was part of the conversation. His sermons on energy make our petro-political chess games seem like so much dangerous squabbling over enormously high stakes. His concern for children is a humbling commentary on the schools and society that fail them. "Every well-born child is originally geniused," he wrote in his distinctive word-coining prose, "but is swiftly de-geniused by unwitting humans and/or physically unfavorable environmental factors."

Fuller thought on multiple planes at once, merging the macro and the micro. He pondered "the thinking proclivities of humans" and designed bathrooms down to the last detail. His drawings are at once meticulous and fanciful and sometimes eerily prescient. The tear-drop profile of his Dymaxion car could be an early draft of a Prius.

At the same time, we've grown skeptical, even spooked by the notion of the utopias Bucky proposed. A domed city brings "The Truman Show" to mind. Would we, any more than the duped Jim Carrey character in that 1998 dystopia, want to live in hermetically sealed "perfection"?

Several elaborate "future cities" models have a similarly artificial effect. Instead of seeming like places where people might like to live and work, they resemble the kind of overbuilt, transitory environments constructed every few years for the Olympics.

The flip side of any visionary is a control freak who's supremely confident that he knows what's best for all of us. In a way, Fuller was an early practitioner of virtual reality. His medium wasn't the computer but rather the physical world he hoped to master with his adhesive plans for almost everything.
Sense of conviction

All of us may be born "originally geniused," as Bucky believed. But we falter and fail and fall away from the ideal. One of the videos in the show tells the rueful tale of a '60s high school for troubled kids that set out to build a bunch of geodesic domes. What started out as a self-made hillside paradise eventually foundered on drugs and other problems. The shoddily built domes leaked, fell into disrepair and were torn down.

There's one video of Fuller spilling out a stream of talk. More striking than what he has to say is his conviction. Looking off away from the camera, through thick glasses, Bucky presses his hands together from time to time like someone worshiping. Not many of his prayers were answered, but it's instructive and even inspiring to remember how many of them this believer sent aloft. Caring about the future, as Fuller showed us, is always an act of faith.

The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area: Through July 29. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., S.F. Museum admission: $18. Call (415) 357-4000. www.sfmoma.org.

Steven Winn is a freelance writer. datebookletters@sfchronicle.com

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/13/DDRM1O2P3E.DTL#ixzz1s17RxTgS

Figured Wood: Reading the Grain in Wood

Published on Apr 13, 2012 by WYOMINGWOODTURNER
Sam looks at grain and figure in wood and shows proper ways of milling wood to best display figure and grain

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Apr 13, 2012

Prime-Time Permaculture - YouTube

Published on Apr 13, 2012 by permascience

Short permaculture clip from prime-time British TV.
Tim and Maddy Harland explain how they have designed and planted a permaculture garden that is both a wildlife sanctuary and an abundant forest garden.

The Sustainability Centre in Hampshire aims to educate, enable and inspire people from all walks of life to make positive changes to the way they live and work. To find out more please visit the Centre's website : http://sustainability-centre.org/index.php

The Sustainability Centre also houses Permanent Publications :http://www.permanent-publications.co.uk/publications_1.htm

Recommended recent releases can be found here :http://www.designedvisions.com/resources-topmenu-79.html

Get involved with permaculture worldwide :http://www.permacultureplanet.com/

Brewing Compost Tea - Fine Gardening Article

Tap your compost pile to make a potion that both fertilizes and prevents diseaseby Elaine Ingham

Start with good compost, give it some water, some aeration, and some time, and you'll have a multipurpose elixir for your garden.

Gardeners all know compost is terrific stuff. But there's something even better than plain old compost, and that's compost tea. As the name implies, compost tea is made by steeping compost in water. It's used as either a foliar spray or a soil drench, depending on where your plant has problems.

Why go to the extra trouble of brewing, straining, and spraying a tea rather than just working compost into the soil? There are several reasons. First, compost tea makes the benefits of compost go farther. What's more, when sprayed on the leaves, compost tea helps suppress foliar diseases, increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant, and speeds the breakdown of toxins. Using compost tea has even been shown to increase the nutritional quality and improve the flavor of vegetables. If you've been applying compost to your soil only in the traditional way, you're missing out on a whole host of benefits.

Supplies you will need
To brew compost tea, you'll need a pump, some air tubing, a gang valve, and three bubblers.

• An aquarium pump large enough to run three bubblers or air stones

• Several feet of tubing

• A gang valve

• Three bubblers

• A stick to stir the mixture

• Unsulfured molasses (preferrably organic)

• Something to strain the tea, like an old pillowcase, tea towel, or a nylon stocking

• A bucket

How to brew compost tea

To brew compost tea, you will need a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a few aquarium supplies: a pump large enough to run three bubblers (also called air stones), several feet of air tubing, a gang valve (which distributes the air coming from the pump to the tubes going to the bubblers), and three bubblers. You'll also need a stick for stirring the mixture, some unsulfured molasses (preferably organic), and an old pillowcase, tea towel, or nylon stocking for straining the tea. An extra bucket comes in handy for decanting the tea.

Don't try to make compost tea without the aeration equipment. If the tea is not aerated constantly, the organisms in it will quickly use up the oxygen, and the tea will start to stink and become anaerobic. An anaerobic tea can harm your plants.

1. Attach one end of a piece of tubing to the pump; the other end will connect to the gang valve.
2. Attach tubing to each of the three ports on the gang valve. Plug bubblers into the other ends.

Also, keep in mind that tea made using this bucket method needs to brew for two or three days and then be used immediately. If you work Monday through Friday, start the tea on Wednesday or Thursday, so it will be ready in time to apply it on the weekend.

If you're on a well, you can use water straight from the spigot. But if you're using city water, run the bubblers in it for about an hour first, to blow off any chlorine. Otherwise, the chlorine will kill all those beneficial organisms you've gone to the trouble of raising.

Once you have safe water, fill the empty bucket half full of compost. Don't pack it in; the bubblers need loose compost to aerate properly. Cut a length of tubing and attach one end to the pump and the other to the gang valve. Cut three more lengths of tubing long enough to reach comfortably from the rim to the bottom of the bucket. Connect each one to a port on the gang valve and push a bubbler into the other end.

Hang the gang valve on the lip of the bucket and bury the bubblers at the bottom, under the compost. Fill the bucket to within 3 inches of the rim with water, and start the pump.

3. For adequate aeration, be sure the bubblers sit on the bottom of the bucket, which is half filled with compost.
4. Add water to within a couple of inches of the rim. If you're using city water, aerate it first for an hour to get rid of any chlorine.

When it's going, add 1 oz. of molasses, then stir vigorously with the stick. The molasses feeds the bacteria and gets the beneficial species growing really well. After stirring, you'll need to rearrange the bubblers so they're on the bottom and well spaced. Try to stir the tea at least a few times a day. A vigorous mixing with the stick shakes more organisms loose and into the tea. Every time you stir, be sure to reposition the bubblers.

After three days, turn off the pump and remove the equipment. If you leave the tea aerating longer than three days, you must add more molasses or the good organisms will start going to sleep because they don't have enough food to stay active. Let the brew sit until the compost is pretty much settled out, 10 to 20 minutes, then strain it into the other bucket or directly into your sprayer. You'll have about 2 1/2 gallons of tea. If you want, this is the time to add foliar micronutrients, like kelp or rock dust. Use the tea right away, within the hour if possible.

You can put the solids back on the compost pile or add them to the soil. There are plenty of good bacterial and fungal foods left in them.

5. To feed the microorganisms, add an ounce of unsulfured molasses (organic is best) to the bucket and stir.
6. Stir vigorously a few times daily to shake free as many organisms as possible and to increase aeration. Reposition the bubblers after stirring so they're well spaced.

7. When the compost tea is finished brewing, in two or three days, strain it into another bucket--you'll have about 2 1/2 gallons--and use it immediately.

Use the right kind of compost

To make good compost tea, you need actively managed, mature compost; that is, compost that has been turned a few times and allowed to heat adequately so weed seeds and pathogens have been killed. Worm compost also makes excellent tea, without the hassle of turning or checking the temperature. Tea brewed from vermicompost that has been made from a fair amount of paper and woody materials is also high in humic acid, an organic substance that is especially good for potted citrus or other trees and shrubs, or perennial plants.

When the center of the pile reaches about 155°F, it's time to turn it. Mixing air into the pile brings the temperature down, but within a day it will climb back up.

You can manipulate compost so it's dominated either by bacteria or by fungi. Which one you want depends on what you're growing and what kind of soil you have. You always want a bacteria-dominated compost tea for use as a foliar spray, whatever the plant. Bacteria-dominated compost is also best for applying to the soil before growing vegetables and herbs. Fungi-dominated compost is good for mulching around berries and fruit trees. But research has shown that a foliar spray of bacteria-dominated compost tea is extremely useful to prevent the foliar diseases that plague most gardens. Thus, most of us need only be concerned with making a bacteria-dominated compost tea.

For bacteria to dominate, compost should be made from a preponderance of green materials. You need a mix of 25 percent high-nitrogen ingredients, 45 percent green ingredients, and 30 percent woody material. High-nitrogen materials include manure and legumes, such as alfalfa, pea, clover, or bean plant residues. Grass clippings from the first two or three cuttings in spring, when the blades are lush and tender, qualify as high-nitrogen; the rest of the season, they're simply green material. Green material includes any green plant debris, kitchen scraps, and coffee grounds, which, although brown in color, contain sugars and proteins that bacteria love. Woody material includes wood chips, sawdust, paper plates and towels, and shredded newspaper.

When making compost, measure your ingredients by volume. Try to mix a whole pile at a time. To get it up to temperature and keep it there, you need a mass that measures at least one cubic yard. Moisten the pile as you make it so that it is damp but not wet. An easy way to tell is to pick up a handful of the material and squeeze it as hard as you can; only one or two drops should be squeezed out. Less than that, add water; more than that, let it dry out.

Once the pile is made, you can add kitchen scraps as they accumulate. Bury them in the center in different places to help maintain heat in the pile. Small additions don't upset the ratio. If needed, you can balance the green additions with shredded newspaper or wood shavings.

A good compost pile really cooks

The pile will heat up right away, as microorganisms start breaking down the material. The pile must stay between 135°F and 160°F for three days. At 135°F, weed seeds, human pathogens, most plant pathogens, and most root-feeding nematodes are killed. The pile shouldn't go above 160°F because at that temperature large numbers of the beneficial organisms begin to be killed.

Within a day or two, the center should reach 135°F. Measure the temperature with a long-stemmed thermometer. A 20-inch compost thermometer is nice but not necessary; I use my turkey thermometer. Just be sure to stick the probe deep into the center of the pile. Take two or three readings from several areas of the pile each day for the first week when you first start making compost, so you get a feeling for what is normal. If you make the same mix again and again, after several batches you won't have to monitor quite so closely.

When the temperature gets to about 155°F, turn the pile with a pitchfork or a shovel. This mixes the cooler materials on the outside to the center and brings air into the pile, preventing anaerobic conditions. Within a day or so, the pile will be back up to 155°F, and you'll need to turn it again. Expect to turn the pile every day or two for about the first week to get it and keep it in the 135° to 155°F range. After that, you can let it alone, maybe turning it once or twice more during the next few weeks. The more you turn the pile, the more the compost tends to become bacterial. That's because any kind of disturbance destroys fungi by breaking up their mycelia and helps the bacteria beat the fungi by bringing the foods bacteria need into range for the tiny individual bacteria.

As the compost matures, the temperature will drop gradually until, after six to eight weeks, the center of the pile is cool or barely warm to the touch. The compost is now ready.

Follow your nose

With any form of compost, solid or tea, bad smells mean bad business. Healthy, adequately oxygenated compost and compost tea should smell sweet and earthy. Never use a smelly compost tea on your plants. The true bugaboo is alcohol, a product of anaerobic decomposition that destroys cell walls. Roots tolerate only 1 part per million alcohol. That's a very small amount, and human noses aren't good at detecting it. Instead, we can detect all the other smelly compounds that go with anaerobic production of alcohol.

If your compost tea smells bad, add a second pump with more bubblers, and stir it more often. Aerate it until the smell goes away. Likewise, if your compost pile smells bad, turn it more frequently.

Using the tea

How often to spray your plants with tea depends on how healthy your garden is. In my garden, which has had no pesticide use since 1986, I spray my plants one time in spring, then let the beneficial insects spread the compost tea organisms around the plants in my garden, preventing any pest problems for the rest of the season.

Beneficial insect presence is a good indicator of your garden's health. If you don't have good levels of beneficial insects in your garden, then spray at least once a month, or as often as once every two weeks. Start when plants have developed their first set of true leaves.

To control damping-off, spray the soil with full-strength tea as soon as you plant. On trees and shrubs, spray two weeks before bud break, then every 10 to 14 days. You'll have to spray every 10 days if you have a neighbor who sprays pesticides, because pesticides kill the beneficial organisms as well as some of the pests.
A little science

It's not coffee—it's tea. Well-brewed compost tea is rich in microorganisms that are highly beneficial to your plants' growth and health.

The soil is full of microorganisms that aid plant growth and plant health—bacteria and fungi, which are decomposers, and protozoa and beneficial nematodes, which are predators. But there are bad guys, too—disease-causing bacteria and fungi, protozoa, and root-feeding nematodes. Our goal as gardeners is to enhance the beneficial microorganisms in this soil foodweb, because they help our plants.

The bad bacterial decomposers and the plant-toxic products they make are enhanced by anaerobic, or reduced-oxygen, conditions. By making sure the tea and the compost itself are well oxygenated and highly aerobic, you eliminate 75 percent of the potential plant-disease-causing bacteria and plant-toxic products. To take care of the other 25 percent of potential diseases and pests, you want to get good guys into the soil and on at least 60 to 70 percent of your plants' leaves. Good bacteria work against the detrimental ones in four ways: They consume the bad guys, they may produce antibiotics that inhibit them, they compete for nutrients, and they compete for space.

Plants themselves don't use all of the energy they make through photosynthesis. For example, 60 percent of a vegetable plant's energy goes to its root system, and half of that energy is exuded into the soil. Of those exudates, 90 percent are sugars; the rest are carbohydrates and proteins. When you think about these ingredients as food, they're the makings for cake. This is high-energy stuff. Why is nearly one-third of a vegetable plant's output going into the soil as energy-rich food? To feed the good bacteria and fungi.

When we human beings kill off bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and other organisms, whether by polluting the air or by spraying pesticides or even by using chemical fertilizers, we're reducing the population of critters that plants feed. That's why one of the simplest and best things you can do for your garden is to spray your plants with compost tea, to bring back organisms killed by chemicals.

Photos: Ruth Lively

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Apr 12, 2012

Bruce Springsteen's Political Voice | The Nation

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform onstage at SiriusXM's 10th anniversary celebration at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York March 9, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

This article is adapted from The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism From Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama, coauthored by Eric Alterman, recently published by Viking.

When I caught Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Philadelphia in late March, it was the eighth night of the band’s US and European tour, which would go on for another six or seven months. While the songs change with the release of new albums, like this year’s Wrecking Ball, the structure of the show has remained relatively constant for nearly three decades now. It is, as Springsteen told 60 Minutes, “part circus, dance party, political rally and big tent revival.” The sum of these parts forms an incomparably larger whole, one that has no equivalent in American life and culture.

About the Author

Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman is a Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Professor of...

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During the course of a nearly three-hour show in Philadelphia, for instance, the 62-year-old performer:

§ shared two choruses of “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” with a frog-voiced little girl plucked from the audience;

§ allowed himself to be held aloft and passed from midway in the arena back to the stage by his fans, while lying on his back, singing;

§ played a rarely heard but much beloved song in response to a sign reading: Please play Thundercrack for my dad in Iraq;

§ gave a short speech on the political, social and psychological dangers of economic inequality, in which he suggested his audience focus not on “which side of the 99 percent you’re on but on which side of history you’re on”;

§ brought his “almost 90”-year-old mom, Adele Springsteen, onstage to dance.

Across town, the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall was hosting an exhibition titled “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen,” in which Springsteen’s old clothing, guitars, cars and lyric sheets were treated alternately as holy relics and fodder for scholarly studies—which for many fans and scholars, they are. Drummer “Mighty” Max Weinberg paid a visit to it after giving a lecture at the new National Museum of American Jewish History down the Mall, in which he spoke of his work in the band as his way “of living a life of tikkun olam.” (And if all this is a bit too much for you, then take heart in the cover of the alternative Philadelphia Weekly, on which Springsteen was pictured beneath a halo and above the headline, Enough Already.)

I could go on, but you get the point: each Springsteen concert is an event so unique in our cynicism-besotted culture that relatively sane people like yours truly keep going back for more, after 200 shows and counting. (This is not a lot by true fan standards, trust me.) In 2003 Springsteen decided, after more than thirty years of touring, to keep adding stadium show after stadium show at the Jersey Meadowlands until fans finally felt they got enough. He stopped at ten, selling 600,000 tickets—more than any one artist has ever sold in a single place anywhere, anytime, and he could have kept going.

It’s hard to find an analogue for Bruce Springsteen anywhere in American history. Musically, he is an amalgam of so many disparate influences it looks ridiculous to list them together. (Don’t believe me? OK, here goes: Elvis, Dylan, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Frank Sinatra, Sam & Dave, the Shirelles, King Curtis, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Roy Orbison, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, the Sex Pistols, Pete Seeger, the Swinging Medallions, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett…) But it is equally difficult to locate a proper political antecedent for Springsteen in American history. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are the obvious nominees, but the fact that they were associated with the Communist Party, as well as pretty orthodox folk singers, significantly limited their ability to be heard by many Americans. Springsteen, meanwhile, has managed to give voice to political values—what he calls “news with a beat”—that fall well leftward of the boundaries of mainstream political discourse.

This happened almost entirely by accident. Springsteen began his career singing about guitars, cars and girls before moving on to empty factories and abandoned quarries. His songs began as stories of individual characters divorced from what Trotsky called “the dialectic,” until, in the early 1980s, he began to read deeply in American history and literature. Springsteen began to ask questions of himself about what really determined the contours of the lives of the working-class characters whose tribune he had become. “A lot of the core of our songs is the American idea: What is it? What does it mean? ‘Promised Land,’ ‘Badlands,’” he would explain in 2009, decades after the transformation took place. “I’ve seen people singing those songs back to me all over the world. I’d seen that country on a grassroots level…. And I met people who were always working toward the country being that kind of place. But on a national level it always seemed very far away.”

* * *

Raised in Freehold, New Jersey, the first-born child of Irish and Italian parents, Springsteen’s father, Douglas, was an embittered man who struggled to find a place for himself in the local economy. He worked for brief periods in the local rug mill, as a jail guard and as a cab and bus driver. Adele Springsteen, who worked as a legal secretary, took pride in her professional identity and remained in the same job for Bruce’s entire childhood. To Bruce she “was just like superwoman. She did everything, everywhere, all the time.”

The Springsteens lived in a lower-middle-class section of town called Texas, where a group of Appalachian refugees had come together with a smattering of white ethnics in one of America’s less publicized migrations. Yet the town was largely bypassed by the prosperity of the 1950s and ’60s. Most of the available work came from the local 3M factory, a rug mill, a NescafĂ© factory and a number of much smaller manufacturers. Deeply segregated, Freehold’s whites and blacks lived on opposite sides of the railroad track.

A loner par excellence, in high school Bruce participated in no activities, sports or even much in the way of academics. One of his teachers even suggested to his classmates that, for the sake of their own “self-respect,” Bruce not be allowed to graduate, given the indecency of his hair. After only the briefest appearance at community college, Springsteen practiced his craft obsessively, partaking in few of the late ’60s rituals that characterized the life of the rock musician. His early lyrics were rarely political, save the occasional mocking of the pretensions of the Woodstock generation with lyrics like “Take LSD and Off the Pigs.” Springsteen was interested in personal freedom—the right to be who he wanted to be, even if he didn’t know precisely who or what that was.

Springsteen would go on to achieve almost unimaginable degrees of fame and national attention. In October 1975 he catapulted overnight from a virtual nobody with two critically acclaimed but commercially obscure albums to his credit to the first entertainer ever to simultaneously grace the covers of Time and Newsweek. The vehicle for this transformation, the now-classic Born to Run album, may be seen as a counternarrative to the culture of mid-’70s America, offering hope in hard times, but it was not political by any literal interpretation.

Despite this taste of megastardom, Springsteen stayed out of the spotlight in the years immediately following as he fought his manager for creative control of his career. Springsteen repeatedly refused, against the advice of his lawyers, to give in on even the most minor points. As he explained to a judge at the time: “My interest is in my career, which up until now holds the promise of my being able to significantly contribute to, and possibly influence, a generation of music. No amount of money could compensate me if I were to lose this opportunity.”

He took his music gradually from the personal to the political. Born to Run led to the grim but powerful Darkness at the Edge of Town, which led to the raucous The River, which led to Nebraska, a stark, Woody Guthrie–like album recorded at home on a cassette tape recorder. Released in 1982 as national unemployment reached 11 percent (and while President Reagan complained that he was tired of hearing about it every time someone lost a job in “South Succotash”), the album offered an intimate portrait of the people victimized by America’s winner-take-all economy.

This work was filled with what literary historian Bryan Garman calls “working-class geographies,” like closed factories, mines and mills. For Springsteen, Garman writes, “These markers—the industrial town, the factory, and the neighborhood bar—have become so marginalized that it is impossible to forge a collective working-class identity which provides people with a sense of self-worth.”

Springsteen remained cautious to a fault when it came to traditional politics, consistently resisting myriad pleadings to lend his reputation for integrity to one cause or another. He spent much of this period, as he put it, “tryin’ to figure out now where do aesthetic issues that you write about intersect with some sort of concrete action, some direct involvement, in the communities that your audience comes from.” At his first-ever political concert appearance in 1979 to protest nuclear power, he left his part of the printed concert program wordless. Three years later, when he made a surprise appearance with a single song alongside Jackson Browne at a 750,000-person nuclear freeze rally in Central Park, he again let the music do all the talking.

Springsteen made his first stab at direct political involvement after reading Ron Kovic’s harrowing Vietnam memoir,Born on the Fourth of July, which would inspire the Oliver Stone film. Speaking from the stage at a series of Los Angeles fundraising concerts, surrounded by handicapped veterans, Springsteen compared his learning process to “walking down a dark street at night and you see somebody getting a beating in an alley. You want to keep walking because you don’t want to feel involved, but you feel guilty.”

If Nebraska had been Springsteen’s quietest album, then what followed it, 1984’s Born in the USA, would be his loudest. Released as America was undergoing an orgy of right-wing patriotism during Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” re-election campaign, Springsteen suddenly found himself at the center of America’s political debate. The album, another commercial breakthrough, became Columbia’s bestselling album to that point in its history, and Springsteen’s world tour was an event of political and cultural significance—widely understood to represent an alternative model of American patriotism from that so ominously emanating from the Reagan White House.

In a story that has been told and retold many times now, the conservative columnist George Will attended a Springsteen concert with cotton in his ears, and after leaving at midpoint in the show, offered up Springsteen as a right-wing icon. The president’s staff read the column and sought to hijack Springsteen’s left-wing patriotic bombast and turn it into right-wing patriotic bombast. Springsteen resisted, warning audiences with respect to Reagan’s war plans for Central America that “blind faith in your leaders can get you killed.” But the train had left the station and in truth, “Born in the USA” invited misinterpretation, as few people listen to rock music for the lyrics.

The shock of such success led Springsteen to pull back again and inspired a long period of fitful personal growth and therapy, marriage, divorce and a second marriage; breaking up his band and then reconstituting it, moving to Los Angeles and then back again to New Jersey. During this period he would occasionally emerge with musical statements that sometimes spoke to the country’s cultural/political moment and sometimes stood outside it. He took part in a worldwide tour for Amnesty International. When Springsteen wrote and sang “Streets of Philadelphia,” he became the first prominent male singer to explicitly adopt the voice of a gay man. His largely acoustic 1995 album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, was a self-conscious re-creation of John Steinbeck’s (and John Ford’s) proletarian masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, with songs drawn directly from stories in the newspapers. With its descriptions of railroad transients, people around a fire under a bridge, homeless people waiting in line for shelter and families sleeping in their car, the album was an implicit rebuke to the corporate-friendly politics of “triangulation” practiced by Bill Clinton at the time. Appropriately, Springsteen chose as his next cause that of legalizing (and honoring) Latino immigration, fighting against a proposed extremely punitive California law—Proposition 187—which united him with farmworkers, home workers and others who had hitherto been merely the subject of his songs.

After a nearly fourteen-year break, Springsteen reconstituted the E Street Band in 1999 for a reunion tour and premiered the song “American Skin (41 Shots),” a pointed racial commentary in the aftermath of the shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant, and the acquittal of four police officers who had fired at him forty-one times. The song angered some fans, particularly policemen, and once again he was roundly misinterpreted. The lyrics were actually sympathetic to the officers, but their representatives denounced Springsteen, and quite a few beat cops booed the song when he performed it in concert. It was his first taste of a fan backlash, but he held his ground. (Springsteen played it on night one in Philadelphia after explaining, “This is for Trayvon.”)

* * *

September 11, 2001, returned Springsteen to the crossroads of American culture. As the story goes, he was pulling out of a New Jersey parking lot when a man in another car rolled down his window and shouted, “We need you!” The Rising was a major cultural event of 2002, and it was treated by the media as the equivalent of a presidential address. Employing explicitly religious imagery, Springsteen called upon people to “rise up” to their better angels—not out of vengeance but out of mutual understanding, rising above even reality. In the Muslim/Christian love story “Worlds Apart,” he sang, “Sometimes the truth just ain’t enough/Or is it too much in times like this/Let’s throw the truth away.”

Springsteen continued to believe that an artist should act as a “canary in the coal mine…with a certain distance from the seat of power.” But he found himself chafing on the sidelines of the fight to save the country from the consequences of George W. Bush’s re-election. Given that he had set for himself the task of charting “the distance between American ideals and American reality,” once the country “reached a point where it seems that we’re so intent on protecting ourselves that we’re willing to destroy the best parts of ourselves to do so,” he felt he had no choice but to throw himself into the election process with the full force of his music, his reputation and the risks to both that an unambiguous political stance would mean.

Springsteen led a tour of politically sympathetic friends like Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty and James Taylor, doing concerts for the Kerry campaign in battleground states under the rubric of “Vote for Change.” His “No Surrender” became Kerry’s campaign theme. He gave speeches at these events about the darkness that had descended on the country under Bush, then agreed to travel the country by Kerry’s side, guitar in hand, singing before Kerry’s speeches like a rock ‘n’ roll Uncle Sam: the performer giving the politician/war hero credibility with segments of the citizenry with whom he would otherwise likely fail to connect.

Following Kerry’s defeat, Springsteen toured with a makeshift folk troop he assembled in the spirit of Pete Seeger’s hootenanny shows. With the band, he toured the country in 2006 preaching against “rendition, illegal wiretapping, voter suppression, no habeas corpus, the neglect of that great city New Orleans and its people, an attack on the Constitution. And the loss of our best men and women in a tragic war.”

Springsteen kept it up through the 2008 election, endorsing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and touring the country on behalf of his candidacy in the general election against John McCain. On the eve of Obama’s inauguration, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, he sang “The Rising” for the president, the vice president, their families and a group of American dignitaries together with a crowd estimated at 400,000, and backed by a multiracial chorus of young people. He then joined Pete Seeger for a rousing (and complete) version of “This Land Is Your Land.”

It was a rare and beautiful moment for this country and what remained of its progressive tradition, one in which Guthrie’s anti-capitalist anthem became “a part of the beating heart of the nation,” as Springsteen told the 2012 SXSW conference in Austin. But what did this magical moment mean in the realm of actual politics? The answer, as we all know now, was not to be found in a folk song—not even one in which the newly elected African-American president-elect could be seen tapping his feet and singing along.

Following the death last year of his beloved saxophonist and longtime character foil, Clarence “Big Man” Clemons, Springsteen returned in March with what strikes most people as his angriest and most explicitly political album yet:Wrecking Ball. Speaking to reporters in Paris on the occasion of its release, he made the album’s inspiration—and intention—explicit. “The genesis of the record was after 2008,” he told a group of reporters there earlier this year, “when we had the huge financial crisis in the States, and there was really no accountability for years and years. People lost their homes, and I had friends who were losing their homes, and nobody went to jail. Nobody was responsible. People lost enormous amounts of their net worth. Previous to Occupy Wall Street, there was no pushback: there was no movement, there was no voice that was saying just how outrageous—that a basic theft had occurred that struck at the heart of what the entire American idea was about. It was a complete disregard of history, of context, of community; it was all about ‘what can I get today.’ It was just an enormous fault line that cracked the American system wide open.”

The album’s opener, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is intended to be more aspirational and inquisitive than accurate or descriptive but has nevertheless already been adopted by the Obama campaign as part of its official rally mixtape. The driving force of the album, however, is a decidedly un-Obama-like anger at the increasing injustice of the American economic system. And yet despite the (sometimes violent) fury of his characters—one sings of irresponsible and exploitative bankers, “If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight”—Bruce Springsteen’s America remains one of shared optimism and collective responsibility. It is a land of “hope and dreams” where “dreams will not be thwarted” and “faith will be rewarded.” The stories change, but the “message” remains the same. It’s right there in Wrecking Ball: “Hold tight to your anger, and don’t fall to your fear.”

Editor's note: For more from Eric Alterman on Bruce Springsteen, read his book It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen.

DIY Universal Bandsaw Fence by American Woodworker

Published on Apr 11, 2012 by AmericanWoodworker

Great fence jig... Monte

Apr 11, 2012

World’s first prototype for walking forest machine now on display at John Deere Pavilion | Forest Business Network

Moline, Ill. (April 10, 2012) — Now on display at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Ill., is the Walking Harvester – the world’s first prototype for a walking forest machine. Only one of two in existence, the walking harvester was designed by John Deere’s research and development unit in Finland in the 1990s but was ahead of its time and never reached the production phase.

Manufactured in 1994, the walking harvester machine on display at the Pavilion was the first to be equipped with a harvesting head and accumulated approximately 2,000 working hours during testing. Sensors in the machine’s legs reacted automatically to soft, sloping, or uneven terrain, while a computer control system distributed weight and support equally to all six legs. The machine simply walked over obstacles that crossed its path, and the machine operator was able to adjust the ground clearance and height of every step.

“Although the walking harvester never reached full production, innovations such as these demonstrate John Deere’s forward thinking and commitment to developing solutions for the types of challenges loggers are facing out in the woods – not only here in the United States, but all around the world,” said Cliff Caudill, Manager of Forestry Product Marketing, John Deere Construction & Forestry.

Walking Harvester On Display At John Deere Pavilion

The walking harvester prototypes helped pave the way for future developments in productive and environmentally friendly machines. For example, the automation and stability system technology used in developing the concept underwent further development and is now applied in all of John Deere’s forest equipment. Due to progressive development work on the control systems, hydraulics and transmission, modern John Deere harvesters cause less burden on the terrain.

The new display at the Pavilion was opened on February 15 to celebrate John Deere’s 175th Anniversary and also the Pavilion’s own 15th Anniversary. In addition to the walking harvester, also on display is the John Deere 643K Wheeled Feller Buncher with lifelike full trees gripped in its FD45 Felling Head, giving visitors a sense of what the machine would look like in action. These are just two examples of the new machines, interactive displays, original artifacts and media displays now available to visitors.

For more information about John Deere’s forestry equipment or the John Deere Pavilion, please visitwww.JohnDeere.com.

About Deere & Company

Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land – those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world’s dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at www.JohnDeere.com.

Shifting into Higher Consciousness: Will It Happen to All of Us?

Full Article
by Jen Grisanti

Higher consciousness: Is this a state that we will all become familiar with? Is it part of our destiny? As an author and a Story/Career Consultant, I study and am fascinated by the concept of how we move from ego into a higher consciousness that benefits the greater good both in our lives and through the stories that we tell. How do we move into a higher consciousness? What has to happen in our lives? I'm always seeking to further understand this shift so that I can help writers identify the shift in their own lives, in order for them to know how to apply it to the stories they write. I feel that writing from a place of higher consciousness is the key to affecting universal change through story.

I have found, from reading about others who have gone through this kind of transformation, a common story point in the experience -- what I refer to, both in life and in story, as the "all is lost" moment. In scriptwriting, this is a moment when the central character is as far away as possible from achieving his/her goal. In life, we hit this type of moment when our world appears to suddenly turn upside down. We lose our balance. Part of our journey back to balance, I am learning, is directly linked with reaching a higher consciousness.

To reach the desire to move toward a higher consciousness in my own life, I feel like I had to hit my "all is lost" moment; it came after losing a job that I had for 15 years with two sister companies. At that moment of loss, I realized that I had become married to my career after my divorce years before. When I lost my job, it felt as if I was going through a second divorce. In finding a new direction, I knew that I had to find something deeper that meant more, spiritually. It took me losing all that was (i.e., the past tied to ego) to motivate me into venturing into all that could be -- the infinite space of possibility. I find that behind the personal stories of many authors/screenwriters, there is a moment like this that causes the same type of transcendence. This is why we connect to what they write.

L. Steven Sieden is the author of the book A Fuller View: Buckminster Fuller's Vision of Hope and Abundance For All, which explores the life shift of "Bucky" Fuller -- a wise visionary, architect, inventor and motivational speaker -- after he hit an "all is lost" moment. For the first part of his life (before the shift), Bucky had served as an officer in the Navy during World War I. He got married and experienced the birth and untimely death of their first child. He then went through a major business and financial failure with his own construction company. As a result of that endeavor, Bucky lost all of his money as well as the investments of his friends and family. Sieden writes:
With the loss of his construction company and the birth of his second daughter, Allegra, Bucky found himself stranded with a young family in 1927 Chicago. He had no money, no job, no formal education beyond high school, a reputation as an unsuccessful businessman, and no prospects for the future.

Sieden continues, "Extremely dejected, he seriously considered drowning himself in Lake Michigan. It was then that Bucky had the famous mystical experience that transformed his life. He realized that he did not belong to himself, and consequently, did not have the right to end his own life." Then Sieden goes on to explain:
In that cosmic flash, Bucky suddenly understood that he (like every human being) belonged to Universe, and he committed himself to an experiment that provided the foundation and context for his every action and decision during the next fifty-six years. He decided to embark upon a lifelong experiment to determine and document what one average healthy individual with no college degree and no money could accomplish on behalf of all humankind that could not be achieved by any nation, business, organization, or institution, no matter how wealthy or powerful.

Justine Willis Toms, guest commentator in Sieden's book, adds:
One concept of Bucky's that remains a touchstone for me over the years is that we can all be 'trimtabs' -- that is, we can play a role in changing the course of things. A trimtab is a small device that is part of the rudder mechanism, which plays a crucial role in controlling the direction of a ship or an airplane. The metaphor was so important to him (Bucky) that 'Call Me Trimtab,' serves as the epitaph on his gravestone.

DeAnne Hampton is the author of The New Human: Understanding Our Humanity Embracing Our Divinity. Explaining her own shift into a higher consciousness she writes:
As I began stepping back from my egoic restlessness and dropping into an emerging essence that responded to my anxiety with more inspired thought and creative possibility, I was given graceful mirrors within my routine that allowed my physical energy to grow in equal proportion to the conscious work that I was doing and engaging within the higher realms. Enthusiasm grew as I created the space for more nothingness to enter, accepting that as my consciousness expanded from within, my ego that enhanced itself from without would become extremely uncomfortable.

DeAnne adds:
I began to seek a new counsel within that increasingly guided me in conscious action to balance doing with being. Curiously, without knowing what it was, friends and colleagues started noticing a new glow, a radiance emerging that I would come to understand as the light of my inner being, hungry for spaciousness and room to grow... I no longer belonged to my self, I was suddenly swept up by my own higher intent to know my Self: the formless, creative, intelligent force of my spiritual essence.

I was mesmerized by these two depictions of the life shift into higher consciousness. These books helped to increase my own awareness and understanding of how better to teach the idea of transformation into a deeper place of being -- a place where we can each become a "trimtab" and, in the process of doing so, effect change in ourselves.

Apr 10, 2012

Jeep Mighty FC Concept Storms Moab

Published on Apr 10, 2012 by MotorTrend
On this episode of The Downshift, we head to the 2012 Easter Jeep Safari to check out Jeep's Mighty FC Concept. Watch this rock-ready concept conquer the Moab terrain alongside its military forebearer, a 1964 Jeep Forward Control.

Teetering on the Brink with the Jeep Mighty FC Concept
By Jalopnik  April 3, 2012

Photo: Benjamin Preston/Jalopnik

Despite the iconic seven-slot grille, the Jeep Mighty FC Concept is as American as a Katyusha rocket. The retro-fantastic rock crawler owes its design lineage to the Soviet GAZ-66 and the arsenal of atom bombs that terrorized the nightmares of ’50s schoolchildren.

Regardless of whether its roots are red, white and blue or just red, the Mighty FC — i.e. Forward Control — has the stature and I-don’t-give-a-crap-about-your-human rights might befitting a superpower. Thank you, my Jeep comrades, for blessing me with the chance to drive it yesterday in Moab.

The cab over layout is nothing new for Jeep, which — under the auspices of Willy’s and Kaiser — produced something similar between 1956 and 1965. But amongst the now Chrysler-owned division’s array of rock-crawling Wrangler variants, it stands out as something special, and definitely bears more than passing resemblance to a Soviet missile hauler.

Not many American drivers have had the opportunity to pilot a truck which juts the driver’s feet out ahead of the front axle. Mark Allen — head of Jeep’s design department — and his team of like-minded Jeep aficionados admitted to geeking out about the ass-over-axle design, which garnered a lot of attention Monday as Jeep showed off its lineup at the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Fitted with massive portal axles and bead-locked offroad tires, the Mighty FC is more or less made from parts they found lying around the Jeep factory.

Powered by an aluminum, dual overhead cam Pentastar V6 — which, rated at nearly 300hp, is no slouch — the FC is basically a mutated four-door 2012 Rubicon. It has the same automatic transmission and dual range transfer case, with the front axle position tweaked to accommodate the cab, which looks like a Wrangler body with its nose lopped off and reaffixed without an old-style snout. Allen made sure air lockers were added to both beefy axles, so the truck can crawl over challenging terrain without much of a problem.
Going uphill is great; going downhill is … whoa

Jeep wanted to show off its quiver of souped up rockcrawlers bad enough to wine and dine the cadre of journos willing to make the trek to the tiny desert town, but getting a crack at driving them was enough of a lure for most (it certainly was for me).

Driving the Mighty FC is absolutely bizarre. There’s something foreign about riding in front of the wheels that steer the vehicle (driving behind it, I watched the FC drift all over the highway as its newly-minted driver learned the eccentricities of its tiller), and with its high stance, going up and down steep inclines provides a heightened sense of adventure.

Ascending, all you see is sky, and descending, you get an intimate view of the downward slope. Its relatively short wheelbase makes the FC difficult to high-center, and there’s absolutely no front or rear overhang to worry about scraping as you go from one impossible pitch to the next.

“Going uphill is great; going downhill is … whoa,” Allen said at the Safari Monday.

The bottom line: if you have a load of RPGs that absolutely must be delivered over brutal terrain in a timely manner, the Mighty FC isn’t a bad choice of conveyance. Don’t expect to see it in production anytime soon, though. Allen hinted that modern NHSTA crash safety regulations would make producing the vehicular equivalent of dangling your legs over the front bumper a near impossibility.

As an offroad journalist schralped a huge rock pile in the animal-like machine Monday, someone in the crowd of onlookers bellowed, “Americaaaa, f&$# yeah!” But somewhere on the breeze hung the last notes of a Soviet hymn.

Big Trouble in Little Havana: The Perilous Politics of Ozzie Guillen | The Nation

Dave Zirin on April 9, 2012

Short of a hurricane or an armed tax-payer revolt, this had to have been Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's worst nightmare. Loria was opening a new state of the art, tax-funded stadium in Little Havana that will cost the city two billion dollars over the next 40 years. He also paid out several hundred million dollars in salary for free agents, making his new ballplayers the nation's wealthiest public employees. This was the last, best, chance to sell baseball in South Florida. Loria desperately needed a hot start for his team and some sugary sweet media coverage for his new ballpark. Then his new manager Ozzie Guillen decided to share his views about Cuba and Fidel Castro. Guillen tends to talk without a filter and in an interview with Time Magazine, he revealed that he happens to not believe that Castro is Satan incarnate. Saying that he "loved" Castro, Guillen explained, "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a b---- is still here."

Casual kind words for Castro in South Florida is akin to looking at a leaky bottle of kerosene and thinking it could use a match. Now, we haven't seen outrage like this in South Florida since butterfly ballots and hanging chads.

The Miami Marlins immediately released a condemnation of Guillen but that couldn't stop a volcanic political explosion. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez called on the organization "to take decisive steps" against Guillen in the name of "freedom loving people." Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez demanded Guillen's resignation. Cuban-American State Senator and Hispanic caucus chair Rene Garcia - in record time! - sent an open letter published in the Miami Herald calling Guillen's comments "appalling" and said he was "looking forward to further actions taken against him for his deplorable comments." Garcia also stuck Loria in the ribs by including, "What I also consider disturbing is the fact that the Miami Marlins received tax dollars from this community, including Cuban-American exiles, to fund the construction of the new stadium." Suffice it to say, many a sports commentator also want Guillen fired or suspended. In their frothy anger, they have a common demand with the Cuban hardline exile group Vigilia Mambisa. An organization that has never shied from street violence and intimidation, Vigilia Mambisa has called for protests in front of the stadium until the Miami Marlins manager is fired.

As for Guillen, he has crumbled under the weight of all this, saying that he is now flying back to Florida to apologize in person to every animal, vegetable, and mineral he might have offended. "I want them to know I'm against everything [in Cuba] 100 percent-I repeat it again-the way [Castro has been] treating people for the last 60 years."

Let's leave aside the rather glaring irony that the politicians, sports commentators, and Cuban exiles want to show their love of freedom by taking Guillen's job for the crime of exercising free speech. The fact is that when looking for political consistency and clarity, Ozzie Guillen is not the best place to start. The Venezuela-born Guillen's comments on Castro are not very different from what he has always said about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He has made comments very favorable about Chavez and very negative. He said, "Viva Chavez" after his Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series. He has also been one of Chavez's most high profile critics.

Trying to make sense of Guillen based on public utterances is a fool's errand. As someone who knows people that talk to Guillen when the cameras are off, I will try to explain his actual politics on Venezuela and Cuba. Guillen is big on a collective Latin American pride and will not abide anti-immigrant and anti-Latino words or deeds. He has a great deal of respect for the way Castro and Chavez stand up to the United States. He opposes efforts by the US to impose their will on these countries and wishes the rest of Latin America would show similar mettle. It's not a question of the relative good or bad of Cuba's internal politics. It's a question of independence. He's also as gung ho for the United States as any manager in baseball, going as far as to fine players for not showing proper respect for the National Anthem, a practice I criticized in 2005. I know that people love portraying Ozzie Guillen as an out-there, crazy kind of guy, and that's in part because he is an out-there crazy kind of guy. But what's crazier? Guillen's views on Cuba or the fact that an aging coterie of people who mourn for the strong hand of Fulgencio Batista control the political debate in South Florida?

But this issue is bigger than Guillen and it's bigger than Cuban exiles who dream of returning to a smoldering "free Havana", with Castro's head on a pike. It's bigger than the petty hypocrisies of those who stand for freedom by denying it for others. It's now about whether the ire produced by Guillen's words will be directed against Loria, his grab of pubic funds, and the entire Miami baseball operation. If that happens, this issue won't die, but the Marlins might.

Apr 9, 2012

With "Roundup Ready PLUS" Monsanto Capitalizes on the Superweeds It Created : TreeHugger

This spring, farmers are expected to plant the largest corn crop in 75 years, according to a USDA report that predicts cornstalks will sprawl over 95.9 million acres, the LA Times reports. That's good news for industrial agriculture giants like Monsanto, which has come under increasing fire in the last few years for its contribution to the country's superweed problem.

But for Monsanto, superweeds are just another selling point for its products.

Monsanto writes on Chem.Info:

According to Dr. Rick Cole, Weed Management Technical Lead for Monsanto, Midwestern soybean growers are becoming increasingly aware of the threat of weed resistance to various herbicides, and the best way to manage weed resistance is to use residual herbicides this spring.

“Farmers need to be proactive in taking steps now to manage establishment of tough-to-control weeds, including those resistant to glyphosate or other types of herbicide chemistries,” Cole says. “This is true whether they have experienced weed resistance or not.”

The Chem.Info post is a push for Roundup Ready PLUS, which will include two new "post-emergence herbicides"—Cobra and Flexstar—for use in northern states against waterhemp, and in Mid-South states against Palmer amaranth pigweed (the glyphosate-resistant, three-inch-a-day superweed), respectively.

It also attracts farmers by offering, through its Roundup Ready PLUS Corn Incentives, up to $6.00 per acre case-back.

Farmers can continue to listen to Monsanto and buy up the ever-expanding array of chemicals and genetically engineered seeds it keeps offering, or they can listen to people like Stanley Culpepper, the weed scientist who finds solutions like planting rye to fight the same superweeds that Monsanto says the new-and-improved Roundup Ready crops will attack. The key difference is, among many others, rye didn't cause the superweeds in the first place.

BIOCHAR in Agriculture 2 - YouTube

Pee: Bill Gates’ Latest Investment To Save The World | WebProNews

Do you recall a Time article last year that featured Bill Gates’ latest idea to improve sanitation in the developing and poorer areas of the world with the bold idea ofturning human waste into a usable natural resource? He talked the talk, and now he’s walking the walk.

You may have heard that the next big thing to worry about after the oil shortage crisis – if we even survive that – will be a shortage of clean drinking water. Lack of access to clean water is already a dire situation in developing and poorer parts of the world, but that problem looks to become a global pandemic if humans don’t come up with something to confront the shortage. But Bill Gates is on the case: he’s investing in a new technology that would effectively turn your urine-mixed toilet water into clean, refreshing drinking water.

The Microsoft founder is reportedly funding a new technology that’s currently being developed at Manchester University. Dr. Sarah Haigh, who specializes in the nanotechnology field of transmission electron microscopy, spoke with the Daily Mail about the funding she’s received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue the research. She says that by constructing a scaffold into a toilet’s design containing a mix of nanoparticles and bacteria would “react with the water to extract useful hydrogen, with the remainder filtered again to produce clean water.”

Her research team has already received $100,000 to get started but if they can demonstrate that their technology actually works, they stand to receive an additional $1 million to develop their research.

But Bill Gates isn’t done with your pee just yet.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also invested in something called microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that will essentially transform urine into electricity. The Foundation is financing a research proposal by a team at the Bristol Robotics Lab in the United Kingdom who plan create a sustainable source of natural energy from urine and “other waste-streams” (wanna guess what that is?). Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos, one of the researchers working on the project, believes that this type of technology could change the course of humanity’s future.

Dr Ieropoulos said: “Urine is chemically rich in substances favourable to the MFCs. At the moment the output from one MFC is small. Through this study and the related work carried out by our group over the years, we were able to show that by miniaturisation and multiplication of the number of MFCs into a stack and regulating the flow of urine, it may be possible to look at scales of use that have the potential to produce useful levels of power, for example in a domestic or small village setting.”

What’s the saying, “We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for”? Think about that the next time you flush the toilet and consider that sometime in your lifetime, that may very well be how you stay hydrated and keep the lights on.

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