May 1st, 2009


Build Smarter, Not Bigger

I'm impressed by this bit of clever engineering efficiency in wind power:

Wind Energizer: 150% Power Boost by Simple Wind Turbine Addon
Until now, in order to make more powerful wind turbines, you had to make longer blades, so they could capture more incoming air and transform it into mechanical work. LeviathanEnergy, led by dr. Daniel Farb, has refreshed this approach towards increased efficiency not by increasing the blades, but by making the wind hit them differently.
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GE High-Yield Corn Goes Seedless

Monsanto, a source of many and varied concerns, has added a new one: some of their genetically engineered seed corn, manipulated for high yields and pesticide resistance, sprouted but failed to produce seeds on the cobs. While I'm not in favor of a total ban on genetic engineering, I think it should be handled with much greater care and that dangerous companies like Monsanto should be reined in before they do irreversible harm.

Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa
South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.
Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces,on alleged 'underfertilisation processes in the laboratory". Some 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the three varieties of Monsanto corn this year, have reported extensive seedless corn problems. 

Urgent investigation demanded 
However environmental activitist Marian Mayet, director of the Africa-centre for biosecurity in Johannesburg, demands an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods, blaming the crop failure on Monsanto's genetically-manipulated technology. 

America Won't Feed Its People

America has more than enough food to feed all of its citizens. The country chooses not to do so, instead distributing food primarily in exchange for money. People without enough money -- in an economy that is shedding jobs rapidly, has stagnant or dropping wages, and has food prices rising far above average inflation -- are often shut out of the food market. They wind up relying on food pantries and soup kitchens, stingy government allotments, less-broke relatives ... or they simply go hungry. And America as a society is okay with this, believing that poor people are poor because they are lazy or stupid or just inferior, and that they deserve to go hungry.

Nobody deserves to go hungry. Food is a human right. Valuing money over human lives and quality of life is disgraceful.

US families rely on handouts in world's richest country
One in six of West Virginia's 1.8 million people receive government food stamps - one of the highest rates in the country - and the total is rising by the week.</p>

Also in the food lines are elderly people who have seen their pensions wiped out by the stock market crash, families driven into destitution by medical expenses because they cannot afford insurance, and the large numbers of people who are perennially dependent on welfare in one of America's poorest states.

But most of those on food stamps need more, and are forced to make use of handouts of groceries or to visit soup kitchens.


A Reflection from the Hall of Mirrors

Recently poeticknowledge did a "friends" meme, describing virtues for each person who commented. This was the description of me:

I love how you are respectful yet assertive and strong in your opinions simultaneously. Whenever you respond to someone on a post or discussion, you are clear and straightforward on your thoughts, but you do so in a way that is not pushy or imposing on other's views. You take a genuine interest in what others have to say, but you make your thoughts known too. You are honest, forthright, respectful, and open-minded. You are always up for learning new things and for trying new projects. :)

I admire your gifts a lot. ^_^ You set a good example for others.

This is what I customarily aim for, so I'm pleased by the feedback. While I don't tend to change myself based on how other people perceive me, it is still often useful information -- particularly from regular readers. You folks are my hall of mirrors, and I really appreciate that.

A Ritual Tip Regarding Rain

If it has been raining a lot, and the rain stops, it is still not a good idea to hold a ritual outdoors just because water is not falling from the sky that very moment. Previous water is probably still all over the ground, plants, facilities, and everything else outside.

Yesterday we decided to hold our Beltane ritual indoors. This was a good thing. When I went out to the ritual meadow for some sticks we needed, much of the area was under a quarter inch of water. Squeesh ... squeesh ... squelch. A silvery sheen of puddle glinted through the dense grass and clover.