January 5th, 2009


Edible & Useful Plants

This permaculture page features an extensive list of nurseries in Canada and the United States that sell edible and useful plants. Some are native species, others cultivated fruits and vegetables.

This is a good time of year to start thinking about gardening or landscaping. If you can grow some of your own food and/or provide a little habitat for wildlife, it will help make the world a better and safer place.

Obama Shoots for the Moon

I'm thrilled with just about anything that gets humans into space for serious projects, not just fooling around in Earth orbit. We need a thriving space program.

Obama is Dead Serious About Quickly Going Back to the Moon: Great News for NASA Fanboys

The most recent NASA soap opera started with administrator Michael Griffin giving the incoming Obama transition team a hard time — coming from an engineering background Griffin’s fear was that the Obama administration was going to gut the new moon rocket program. To be fair to Griffin the program was way over budget (so it looked like a good target) and early in the campaign trail Obama sent mixed signals on his support for manned exploration. The latest chapter was Griffin’s wife sending out a sad email pleading his case to keep his job (despite the fact that he is a Bush administration employee).

As a NASA fanboy I admit that I was fearing the worst: But now the good news is that it turns out that Obama is dead serious about not only going back to the moon, but trying to beat China. This story just came out on Friday when the press leaned that Obama was going to tear down the wall between NASA and the Pentagon. At first I sort of winced at the idea of watering down NASA’s mission — but it made me realize that Obama was dead serious about manned spaceflight a cause that I fully approve.


2009 Rhysling Award Eligible Poems

The Rhysling Award recognizes excellence in speculative poetry. Members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association may nominate poems, one each in the short (1-49 lines) and long (50+ lines) categories. (If you are not yet a member, you can still join and get in on this year's Rhysling activity.) Later, members receive a copy of the award anthology with most of the nominated poems reprinted, so they can vote on the best poems.

The following poems of mine are eligible for the 2009 Rhysling Award:

“A String of Beads” published in EMG-zine November 2008 11/1/08

“A Door into Summer” published in Abandoned Towers #1 11/1/08

“Artifacts of Intelligent Design” won 2nd Place in 2008 SFPA Poetry Contest 9/26/08, published on SFPA website

“Everybody Knows”
“The Wild Hunt”
“The Song of Two Mothers”
“Circling the Grain”
“Passing Shadows”
all published in Doorways #6 Summer/Fall 2008

“the leaf whisperer” published in Doorways #5 Winter/Spring

“The Outcast’s Curse” published in Sorcerous Signals August-October 2008 8/1/08

“If It Weren’t For Her” published in Flashing Swords #11 7/25/08

“Elegy for a Chaos Mage” published in The Lorelei Signal July-September 2008

“Dancing with Stones” published in Strange Horizons June 16, 2008 issue

“To Keep the Wolves at Bay” published in Flashing Swords #10

“Ride Away” published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #34

“With Every Fine and Subtle Sense Perceive” published in Sybil’s Garage #5

“bête noire” published in New Voices in Horror Magazine

“An Eyrieman Foresees His Death” published in Flashing Swords #9

Of these, my favorites include "Artifacts of Intelligent Design," "A String of Beads," and "An Eyrieman Foresees His Death."
watch, hawk

Protect Colorado Wilderness

This call to action comes from the Wilderness Society:

Protect western Colorado's spectacular landscapes. Now!

January 5, 2009

If you could take one simple action that could protect some of
Colorado's amazing landscapes from the scars of development,
wouldn't you take it?

Well, here's your chance:

The resource management plan for 1.2 million acres of land in
the spectacular Colorado Plateau region is up for review by the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

These unique lands are targeted for increased uranium mining and
oil and natural gas exploration. The new BLM management plan
will impact them for decades to come. The good news is the BLM
is asking for your voice in the shaping of this plan.

Your voice, right now, is extremely important to ensure these
western Colorado lands are protected from industrial
exploitation as the region feels the pressures of rapidly
increasing oil and gas development, mining, and off-road vehicle

Riddled with shale hills and rocky sandstone gorges, the wild
lands of western Colorado represent a masterpiece of erosion,
weathering and wildness. From the towering Book Cliffs spanning
the northern skyline of Grand Junction to the labyrinthine
redrock canyons of the imposing Uncompahgre Plateau to the
hidden natural arches and jumbo-jet sized alcoves that grace the
area's rugged canyons, all of these lands deserve protection.

Click here to tell the BLM to manage western Colorado lands with
wilderness, wildlife, quiet recreation and paleontological
protection in mind:

But, you must weigh in before Jan. 9!

Best Wishes,

Kathy Kilmer
The Wilderness Society

Most Popular Topics

According to the "Manage Tags" feature, the topics most often appearing in this journal are:

Writing -- 355 posts
Politics -- 274
Networking -- 254
Science fiction -- 241
Poetry -- 231
News -- 214
Reading -- 170
Economics -- 163
Cyberfunded creativity -- 160
Fantasy -- 157

Not much motion this time, but cyberfunded creativity has crept above fantasy.

Ozymandius voting open

Nicola Griffith is developing a publishing co-op called Ozymandius. Currently there is a vote going to determine audience interest in some proposed projects. Options include short fiction, graphic novellas, cartoons, collaborative stories, novels, poetry, and other goodies. If you're interested in cyberfunded creativity and other alternative publishing models, go check it out!

8 Reasons Why We Need Manned Space Exploration

President-elect Obama has indicated an interest in manned space exploration, including a return to the Moon. This has provoked an immediate outcry about manned space exploration being a waste of resources. (An interesting pro/con analysis of space exploration can be found here.) Let's consider some of the reasons that make manned space exploration a good investment.

1) An active space program creates numerous jobs, excellent ones that pay well and provide benefits. Most of these jobs connect directly to NASA facilities, making them difficult or impossible to outsource overseas. Because manned space exploration is more complex than robotic missions, it creates even more jobs. Right now, America needs all the high-quality homelocked jobs we can get.

2) Space exploration generates technological advances. Many of today's materials, computers, and other technological marvels emerged from the massive space efforts of the 1960s-70s. It's easy to forget how much we have already gained because now it is so commonplace. The more we do in space -- especially with human beings, who require more support than telescopes or rovers -- the more new discoveries we will make. New technology yields many benefits including improved safety and health, more efficient energy use, and new business opportunities.

3) Space offers a unique opportunity to develop solar energy technology. Above the Earth's atmosphere, the Sun's power is undiminished. Solar power can provide energy for equipment in space, but we can also use it down here. The faster we learn to take full advantage of solar energy and other renewable sources, the sooner we can end our dependence on fossil fuels. The more we try to work with solar energy, the more we will learn about how to gather and use it most efficiently -- and humans in space need plenty of energy. In this field, discoveries in space can translate directly into discoveries we can use on Earth.

4) Moving some humans into space can lower population pressure here on Earth. We're putting a huge burden on Earth's biosphere, and while emmigration isn't the only solution, it does help. Having somewhere else to go also lowers social tension by providing an outlet for people who want to leave, as the frontiers once did. For this to work, we need sizable colonies in orbit, on the Moon, or elsewhere.

5) Extraplanetary colonies also spread out humanity so we don't have all our eggs in one basket. At the rate we are damaging our environment and threatening each other with weapons, this is a vital step towards species survival. Numerous people involved or interested in the space program have cited this need.

6) With a thriving population of humans in space, we can get industry off the Earth. Much of the damage we do to the Earth comes from mining, manufacturing, and processing. Some of that could be done elsewhere, in an environment less vulnerable to harm. In particular, extraplanetary manufacture of equipment needed in space saves the effort of hauling it out of the gravity well. The Moon and the asteroids offer a variety of raw materials.

7) Space exploration demands the best of us. We have "civilized" the Earth to the point that many of us live in an environment that allows us to become soft and lazy. America was settled by explorers, adventurers, heroes ... people who believed in seeking out opportunities. We get bored and self-destructive without a challenge in front of us. Space doesn't allow that kind of coasting. It will kill you if it can. In space, you are alert and ready to face challenges, or you die. Humanity needs that rejuvenation to undo some of the damage we've done to ourselves in overpacifying the Earth.

8) Manned space exploration inspires people in ways that unmanned missions cannot match. Right now, people feel despondent; they need something to believe in and participate in that will make a real difference. They need the kind of hope that has both symbolic and practical aspects. People need opportunities to achieve great things, and space exploration is a tremendous adventure. Robots don't excite them much. Heroes do. The real power of space exploration is this: when we send people Out There, they are lifted by the hands and the hearts of everyone involved in the space program, from engineers to taxpayers ... and we fly with them.

20 Easy Ways to Change the World

Most of these tips are familiar, but some might be new to you:

20 Easy Ways to Change the World - By Small Footprints
Global Warming … Carbon Footprint … Green. These are the environmental buzz words of our time. They are used and abused to the extent that most of us have come to discount them as just a lot of talk and meaningless gibberish. The problems that gave birth to them, however, are anything but meaningless.</div>

The Power of Art

I really like how this article describes what purpose art can serve in a civic context. It illustrates our ideals for us so that, even if we aren't there yet, we know what direction to head. I think we need more art like this.

Actually, that would be another terrific idea for Obama's job-creation plan: commission inspirational murals for public buildings. It would employ artists, giving their work exposure, so that they'd be likely to find further contracts after the government ones are completed. It would make public spaces more colorful and engaging. And it would remind us where we should be heading.

Murals Depict Power Of Law And Justice
The Justice Department headquarters building has more than 50 murals on its walls. Painted during the Great Depression, they aimed to show how law and justice could improve lives.

What do you think public art is good for?

Greening the Ghetto

Here is a great article talking about alternative energy in community. In order to switch America's power from unsustainable to sustainable sources, we have to make it affordable and available to everyone. We have to get everyone interested and invested in the process. If we do it right, part of the reward will be improving our communities.

Greening the Ghetto
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker: "A few months ago, Van Jones, the founder and president of a group called Green for All, went to visit New Bedford, Massachusetts. His first stop of the day was the public library, where someone had assembled an audience of about thirty high-school dropouts. They leaned back in their chairs, hands in the pockets of their oversized sweatshirts. A few appeared to be stoned."