May 7th, 2011



Leafsnap is a smartphone app that lets you identify a tree by taking a picture of a leaf from it. The image is automatically compared to other images in a database, then the program responds with the tree's name and other details. This is far simpler than previous "field guide" apps where you had to key in the features of a plant or animal to identify it.

Regarding the questions at the end of the article ...

I wonder what impact this software will have on children today when they know they can identify something within a matter of a few seconds without any real effort or engagement? Will that help to educate and inspire them? Or, conversely, will it tune them into things they might have otherwise simply ignored?

Nature is pretty awesome.  I think that once people start paying attention to it again, they will be intrigued enough to learn more.  Just using the app repeatedly should teach leaf/name associations if people actually read the name once the ID rings up.  Of course, some folks will just use this app as a toy, and not pay much attention to nature itself.  But I suspect more will get hooked, and go deeper.

A Fracking Problem

 This article talks about a proposed panel to analyze fracking., and argues that what we really need is a moratorium on fracking until it can be scientifically studied to see whether it is actually safe.  Since the corporations started out by getting their fracking process exempted from the Clean Water Act and several other laws intended to protect human beings and the environment, it's pretty clear that they intended to frack those laws to pieces.  Fracking has subsequently blown up people's houses, set wells on fire, poisoned people, contaminated groundwater, and caused minor earthquakes.  This does not reassure me as to its "safety."  Moratorium?  Good idea.  Figure out a way to extract natural gas without creating disasters in the process, or quit doing it.

[EDIT 5/7/11]  If you're not familiar with fracking, read about it here:

Poetry Fishbowl Report for Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May's theme was "folk tales."  Prompts arrived in a steady trickle throughout the day.  I didn't get to all the ones I wanted, and may eventually double back for some; I've already written one extra poem, "Mending Fence," based on comments about a fishbowl poem.  There were 55 comments on the fishbowl post.  I worked from 12:50 PM to 1:20 AM, so about 10 hours 30 minutes, accounting for breaks.  The length clustered snugly in the middle; most were medium with a few long.  There were no epics, and the only short was the after-hours "Mending Fence."  I wrote 19 poems, plus that extra one.  Most were free verse but there were several forms: ballads and quatrains, a terza rima, and one written in haiku verses.  Most of the poems derived from a single prompt; a few used multiple prompts.

A total of 16 people sent prompts.  Welcome to new prompter idhren24, who's partly responsible for second freebie poem.

The serial perk qualified a second time.  Donations reached the $150 goal.  The perk poll chose Fiorenza to get the free serial poem.  Donors have been invited to offer a prompt for that.

Read Some Poetry!
The following poems from the May 2011 Poetry Fishbowl have been posted:

"Backwater Tales"
"Chasing the Rain"
"A Cryptic Zoology"
"Folk Tales in 4/4 Time"
"The Library at the End of the World"
"Mending Fence" (a Monster House poem)
"Moral Traditions"
"Old Husbands' Tales" (a Torn World poem)
"ongaeshibanashi" (an Origami Mage poem)
"Prezzemolina" (a Fiorenza poem)
"Slashing Through the Undergrowth"
"Threads of Magic"
"Until the Cows Come Home" (a Monster House poem)

Buy Some Poetry!
If you plan to sponsor some poetry but haven't made up your mind yet, read the list of unsold poems from May.  That includes the title, length, price, and the original thumbnail description for the poems still available.

All the sponsored poems have been posted.  Backchannel copies of other poems have been sent to their respective prompters.  The May perk-post for donors is on folklore.  I've also updated the "Serial Poetry" page on my website.  There will be a poll on Monday to choose which poems get published out of the general fund, which currently contains $20.

Donors for May include: marina_bonomi, the_vulture, ladyqkat, angela_n_hunt, janetmiles, laffingkat, natasiakith, and eseme.  Please give a cheer for new donors angela_n_hunt and natasiakith, who are partly responsible for the second freebie poem.  Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm!

The Poetry Fishbowl project also has a permanent landing page.