The ring that rescues

A concept “Remember Ring” GETS HOT 24 hours before your wedding anniversary or wife’s birthday, starting with 120 degrees Fahrenheit, for ten seconds. Every hour thereafer for the rest of the day, the ring gets hot again, each time a little hotter. Miniature electronics keep track of the date and control the heater.

Men’s Ring Turns Up Heat (So Wives Don’t Have To) with pic.

Rose colored asses

I came across this new study and thought, “Ah ha! So that’s how I screw myself!”

Experts have speculated that one’s prior success or sense of power can lead to disastrous mistakes, but until now there’s been little research that establishes such a link.

A sense of power leads to risk-seeking behavior.

Story & research here.

Where are the Voyager spacecraft?

“We’ve entered a totally new region of space,” says Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist and the former director of JPL.

Our entire solar system—planets and all—sits inside a gargantuan bubble of gas about four times wider than the orbit of Neptune.

The sun is responsible.

It blows the bubble by means of the solar wind. Astronomers call the bubble itself “the heliosphere” and its outer membrane “the heliosheath.”

The heliosheath is 3 to 4 billion miles in thickness, and Voyager 1 will be inside it for another 10 years or so. Story at PhysOrg

Transporting embedded value

WorldChanging points out,

When we manufacture goods, we embed energy in them: that is, their existence means we have already spent a certain amount of energy, no matter what we then do with them.

In a similar way, when we grow crops we are in a sense embedding water within them.

If a kilo of wheat takes a thousand liters of water to grow from sowing to harvest, we can, seen from a certain light, think of that kilo of wheat as containing 1,000 liters of water.

When we consider how much water is embedded in the food we transport around the planet, it turns out that there is a massive trade in virtual water.

The wetter regions of the world every year ship vast amounts of embedded water to the drier parts of the planet. This has gigantic ecological and geopolitical consequences, and as climate change intensifies, could be a trend which produces great friction.

Accelerating your age

“So the dog who insisted I let him out at 4 AM this morning helped accelerate my aging.”, says FuturePundit in this important post warning us how lack of sleep increases inflammation, reduces immunity and accelerates aging.

Reporting in the Sept. 6 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Archives of Internal Medicine, the research team finds that even modest sleep loss triggers cellular and genetic processes involved in the immune system’s inflammatory response to disease and injury.

New research help us understand inflammation:

Bacteria and parasites often use special toxins to perforate the membranes of target cells. These pore-forming toxins are a key weapon in the attack arsenal of some common and virulent bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, well-known for its role in hospital-acquired infections, Streptococcus pneumonie, responsible for middle ear infections and pneumonia, and Helicobacter pylori, implicated in ulcers. Pore-forming toxins compose about a quarter of all known protein toxins that increase the infectivity and severity of bacterial diseases.

Once the toxin perforates the host membrane, ions begin to leak out of the cell.

Sensing a drop in its potassium concentration, the cell reacts by forming a multi-protein complex known as an inflammasome. Scientists know that inflammasomes act like a sort of roving security force inside the cell, detecting a variety of danger signals such as bacterial RNA or bits of bacterial flagellin.

The inflammasomes join together and activate a protein, caspase-1, that in turn triggers an inflammatory response.

From New Scientist:
Snooze your way to high test scores

If you are trying to commit something to memory, take a nap – even a short daytime snooze could help you learn.

A cooler reversal

The UTRC “lower-temperature geothermal power plant” can be thought of as a reverse cooling system.

The new turbine is essentially a refrigerator compressor running backwards

The modular, 200-kilowatt power plant from UTRC can convert temperatures as low as 165°F into electricity. [low enough for solar too] The technology is similar to steam engines, except that steam or hot water vaporizes a hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant that drives the turbine. And the refrigerant has a lower boiling point than water.

via WorldChanging

Why are beggars despised?

Why are beggars despised? —for they are despised, universally.

Plazoid, a blog in Humboldt County, says, “I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living.

“In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable.

“Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised.”

A couple stats that set northern California’s Humboldt County apart:

  • 30 overdose deaths per 100,000 population, while the state average has been about 9.2

  • a suicide death rate of 20.8 per 100,000 people, more than twice the state average of 9.3

Suck essential gases out

New options for spinach safety?

A new method for ridding harvested fruits and vegetables of insect pests and microorganisms, without the use of ozone-depleting chemicals like methyl bromide, has been developed by researchers at UC Davis.

The technique, called metabolic stress disinfection and disinfestation, effectively suffocates insects found in harvested produce. Forces produced by alternating vacuum and pressurized carbon dioxide applications cause irreversible changes in cell chemistry and damage to essential respiratory structures. Ethanol gas also is applied briefly to accelerate killing of fungi and bacteria and to damage insect eggs.

Researchers hope that the new technique will replace the use of post-harvest pesticides and allow for the complete phase-out of methyl bromide.

The process would be applied to pallets of fruits and vegetables to prevent damage during storage and shipping, and to avoid transporting dangerous contaminants. All major fruits, including table grapes, citrus, apples, pears, bananas and kiwifruits, as well as vegetables and ornamental flowers, retain their quality when treated with this technology…

I worked with Russel Hines, Emeritus Research Director at the USDA, to promote modified atmosphere food safety systems in the industrial sector using molecular sieve technology.

The Monsanto sieves would remove oxygen and inject nitrogen into truck and ocean shipping containers starving pests and pathogens and somewhat slowing further growth and ripening.

My $250million proposal to install the system across Russia’s rail system — which may still be losing as much as 30% of its food production to pests and poor refrigeration — was stymied when the restructuring of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the 1990’s took the focus away from institutional government-backed investments.

Models of disease

The University of California, Davis, will play a key role in a new worldwide effort to create a so-called “knockout” mutant mouse for each of the approximately 20,000 genes in the mouse genome. These mice can be used to study the function of specific genes and to create models of human disease, ranging from growth and development to cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The group plans to create lines of embryonic mouse stem cells in which 5,000 individual genes will be systematically turned off, or “knocked out.” Those embryonic stem cells will then be used to breed live mice that lack those genes.

A Mouse for Every Gene

It’s hard to improve on milk, but

University of California, Davis, have found that milk produced by transplanted genes in goats carry the gene for an antibacterial enzyme found in human breast milk.

Lysozyme is a protein found in the tears, saliva and milk of all mammals. It is found at high levels in human breast milk, however goat’s milk contains only 0.06 percent as much lysozyme as does human milk. Lysozyme inhibits the growth of bacteria by destroying the bacterial cell wall, causing the contents of the cell to leak out.

Because lysozyme limits the growth of bacteria that cause intestinal infections and diarrhea, and encourages the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, lysozyme is considered to be one of the main components of human milk that contribute to the health and well-being of breast-fed infants.

For more than a decade, UC Davis researchers have been looking for ways to enrich the milk of cows and goats with some of the beneficial compounds like lysozyme that are found in human breast milk. About eight years ago, they used gene-transfer technology to develop a line of transgenic dairy goats that carry the gene for human lysozyme and, consequently, produce human lysozyme in their milk.

Gee, pull up your genes

Washington Post

The disclosure last month that American long-grain rice has become widely contaminated with traces of an experimental, gene-altered rice has, according to this story, provoked an economic crisis for farmers and reignited a long-smoldering debate over the adequacy of U.S. oversight of biotech food.

Already, Japan has banned U.S. long-grain imports, noting, as have other countries, that the genetically altered variety never passed regulatory muster. Stores in Germany, Switzerland and France have pulled American rice off their shelves. And at least one ship last week remained quarantined in Rotterdam, awaiting word of whether its contents would be diverted or destroyed.

Greg Yielding, executive director of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association, was quoted as saying, “Until this happened, it looked like rice farmers were finally going to make a profit this year.”

Instead, U.S. rice prices have slumped about 10 percent…

Heed no bug

The E.coli outbreak is the 20th time in a decade that leafy greens from Monterey County have been contaminated with E. coli, and government officials already had warned growers and processors in the Salinas Valley to improve their conditions.

Update from PhysOrg
Many creeks and streams near the region’s spinach fields are known to contain 12,000 or more E. coli organisms per 100 milliliters of water — 30 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard. California officials are currently studying ways to bring the Salinas River watershed into compliance with the EPA’s rules.

Another PhysOrg clip:
Sensor to Detect E.coli
As the Food and Drug Administration takes days to track down the source of the E. coli outbreak, Dr. Raj Mutharasan is optimizing a sensor that can enable growers to do the job themselves in a few minutes.

The nine bags of baby spinach now linked by DNA testing to the national E. coli outbreak all held conventional rather than organic produce and all were sold under the Dole label, state health officials said late September. LATimes

The power of many

People who want to work together can do amazing things. Nitin Nohria and Paul Lawrence, in Driven, spoke of the Drive to Acquire, the Drive to Defend, the Drive to Bond and the Drive to Learn.

Note: In Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, the authors combine the latest thinking from the biological and social sciences to lay out a new theory on human nature.

The idea: We are all influenced and guided by four drives: acquiring, bonding, learning, and defending. In this excerpt, Lawrence and Nohria examine how an organization built around the four-drive theory might look.

JP Rangaswami on Four Pillars says, “I do so like their model, so much more than that of Maslow fifty years earlier. People want to bond. People want to learn. People want to defend that which they hold as precious. And people want to acquire, yes, but not at the cost of the other drivers.”

“Sure, any form of collective action has its perils and its misuses. But hey, any form of anything has its perils and its misuses. So let’s celebrate the different ways people work together in different contexts.

Email is addictive

Email is addictive because it is
a variable-interval reinforcement schedule

We’re animals – we have animal brains. All animal brains have the circuitry in place for producing operant conditioning. It’s a fundamental psychological process, and just the sort that can create behaviours what operate automatically, or in spite of our consciously telling ourselves we should do otherwise.

Story at MindHacks

via Preoccupations

China, India and other

At The Economist

Emerging countries are looming larger in the world economy by a wide range of measures.

Their share of world exports has jumped to 43%, from 20% in 1970.

They consume over half of the world’s energy and have accounted for four-fifths of the growth in oil demand in the past five years.

They also hold 70% of the world’s foreign-exchange reserves.

Of course there is more than one respectable way of doing the sums. So although measured at purchasing-power parity (which takes account of lower prices in poorer countries) the emerging economies now make up over half of world GDP, at market exchange rates their share is still less than 30%. But even at market exchange rates, they accounted for well over half of the increase in global output last year.

It’s the violence, stupid.

The first “just war” theories argued that Christians should only engage in warfare for defensive purposes.

So Pope Benedict was indeed [waving] a double edged sword as the denunciation [in his speech] applies as equally to Rome as it does to Mecca. Pope Benedict would have known this.

Thus the real message of the pope’s lecture has been entirely missed.

When once will we all be fair?

Why is social and economic and political and religious growth so rough and tumble?

Buckminster Fuller once opined that it was because not enough people were involved. He invited more population on the earth where once educated there would be enough minds and bodies to more effectively carry out our work together.

I’m snipping all of this from the Agnet newsletter, produced by the Food Safety Network at Kansas State University and the University of Guelph, Ontario.

On India’s despairing farms, a plague of suicide
New York Times
Somini Sengupta
BHADUMARI, India — Here in the center of India, on a gray Wednesday morning, a cotton farmer swallowed a bottle of pesticide and fell dead at the threshold of his small mud house.

The farmer, Anil Kondba Shende, 31, left behind a wife and two small sons, debts that his family knew about only vaguely and a soggy, ruined 3.5-acre patch of cotton plants that had been his only source of income.

Whether it was debt, shame or some other privation that drove Mr. Shende to kill himself rests with him alone. But his death was by no means an isolated one, and in it lay an alarming reminder of the crisis facing the Indian farmer.

The story says that across the country in desperate pockets like this one, 17,107 farmers committed suicide in 2003, the most recent year for which government figures are available. Anecdotal reports suggest that the high rates are continuing.

Though the crisis has been building for years, it presents an increasingly thorny political challenge for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. High suicide rates and rural despair helped topple the previous government two years ago and put Mr. Singh in power.

Changes brought on by 15 years of economic reforms have opened Indian farmers to global competition and given them access to expensive and promising biotechnology, but not necessarily opened the way to higher prices, bank loans, irrigation or insurance against pests and rain.

Mr. Singh’s government, which has otherwise emerged as a strong ally of America, has become one of the loudest critics in the developing world of Washington’s $18 billion a year in subsidies to its own farmers, which have helped drive down the price of cotton for farmers like Mr. Shende.

At the same time, frustration is building in India with American multinational companies peddling costly, genetically modified seeds. They have made deep inroads in rural India — a vast and alluring market — bringing new opportunities but also new risks as Indian farmers pile up debt.

M. S. Swaminathan, the geneticist who was the scientific leader of India’s Green Revolution 40 years ago and is now chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, was quoted as saying, “The suicides are an extreme manifestation of some deep-seated problems which are now plaguing our agriculture. They are climatic. They are economic. They are social.”

The story notes that Monsanto has more than doubled its sales of Bt cotton here in the last year, but the expansion has been contentious. This year, a legal challenge from the government of the state of Andhra Pradesh forced Monsanto to slash the royalty it collected from the sale of its patented seeds in India. The company has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court.

The modified seeds can cost nearly twice as much as ordinary ones, and they have nudged many farmers toward taking on ever larger loans, often from moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates.

Steve Irwin and daughter Bindi

Steve and Bindi IrwinPeter’s Reviews reports,

“It seems that the acorn really doesn’t fall far from the Irwin tree. Following Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin’s accidental death, his daughter, Bindi, is set to have her own show.

“The show had been planned before Steve’s death and Bindi intends on honoring her father by following in his footsteps, including eventually swimming with the stingrays.

From Life Style Extra: Steve, 44, died tragically when a stingray’s poisoned barb pierced his heart while he was filming a documentary at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

It was thought Bindi’s show, expected in January 2007, would be axed following his death but she wants to carry on her father’s conservation and TV work.

Bindi Irwin has a wiki page.
Rebecca Murray at posted a short promo/interview with Steve and Terri Irwin, noticing “For all the passion and wildness in Steve’s speaking demeanor, Terri is the perfect balance to reign it in and keep it all in perspective.”

Friend John Stainton has a wiki link.

Harnessing energy from peat

Peat is a plant material created when decomposition fails usually because conditions are too cold, waterlogged, sterile or acidic. It can be thought of as coal at an early stage of development.

There may be 250,000 square miles of peat bogs.

Some poorer nations such as Ukraine would benefit if they could effectively use their domestic peat rather than import coal, gas or oil.

Famous for using peat to warm a stone cottage, Scotland and Ireland now use it to generate electric power. The Scotsman newspaper reports, “Crofters are shunning the traditional but time-consuming toil of cutting peat each summer, cutting peat slices measuring about 16 inches square and four inches thick, instead relying on Irish peat briquettes, coal, oil or electric heating. Even rises in energy prices have not been enough to get Highlanders back out on the moorlands to gather virtually free fuel – leading some to fear that the ancient art might be lost.

Peat cutting is not unique to Scotland and Ireland. It is also cut for fuel in Finland, Romania, Russia, Belarus, the Baltic states and in China. In Russia it is used for 30 per cent of their power stations. [link] One of the biggest deposits of peat is in Indonesia, and a peat-fired power station is generating electricity in Sumatra. The use of peat for power generation has also been studied in Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the United States.

The challenge for peat is drying and sizing the particles to feed into boilers. These costs often stop peat development. Today’s burners are often called reactors because of their sophisticated control of combustion. Without advanced engineering, fuels like peat can burn dirty, like coal, unless prepared prior to conveying, burned under controlled pressure and mixed atmospheres with variable responsive feed rates. However advanced and complete the combustion, current techniques still require condensing and scrubbing of exhausts.

Today’s new plants are usually not causing the pollution problems we’ve seen from “dirty coal”, peat, wood, or even our fireplaces. Most air pollution headlines about dirty solid fuel are based on emissions from many many hundreds of older plants where owners – nations – are reluctant to upgrade or scrap. In the USA, these older plants are paid for, stable, cheap to run, and make big profits for many complacent owners.

Here’s a link to using hollow fibre technology technology to making coal and solid fuels burn cleaner.

It’s surprising that firewood remains the number one method of cooking in the world.

Electricity is cleaner.

YIN City

PM Pierre Trudeau cited a project called YIN City by sending encouragement in a friendly telegram. We were proud to receive it.

YIN City was organized in the latter 1960s by a gaggle of enthusiastic and bright Canucks. A few of us were holding meetings and sketching plans for a new and independent city to be erected in the Arctic for the purpose of developing a ‘prototype for humanity’ where under controlled hardship humanity would again learn how to share.

The project was called: Youth Innovation North.

I was 19.

geesh-a-rama aunt Isabel Holt of Minneapolis enjoyed much adventure post-WWII. For instance, she had an act in the “Ice Follies” with her ice skating dog, a boxer named Duke.

Duke had four paw-skates, as precise and expensive as professional figure skates, with the sharp toe picks on chrome-plated blades and the speed-eyelets to lace his white tapered skate boots !! He could do circles and figure eights and race along the sideboards. But dogs can’t turn their ankles, so he would stop by sliding on his butt. To grand applause, the last part of his act was to sit on the cold ice as he slid through the curtain. I loved Duke.

I remember her story about driving her tiny English Austin car west of Denver over Rocky Mountain roads chugging at perhaps 15 miles per hour when a huge boulder slammed into her roof, filling the entire interior, splitting the doors open, and spilling her onto the road unhurt!

Her husband Marvin Holt passed away in 2007 at the age of 93.

Our democracy are us

Community is more important than leadership.

I debated this point with Senator Barbara Boxer during the 1982 election season.

“It takes three generations to meet the Mayor.”, I tease folks by worrying that our blocs of government are too large and thus unresponsive.

Plato warned that no government should be larger than for citizens you can see.

At I read this snippet,

“In the early 1910’s, our representatives passed Public Law 62-5, limiting the number of representatives to 435. This is less than the Parliament of England during the reign of Henry VIII during the plague years! This problem is, in my opinion, the genesis of all our problems.”

and followed their link to

The House of Representatives was intended — by this nation’s founding fathers — to be a peoples’ house. How many of us would call it that today?

As is shown in this web pamphlet, the House of Representatives has devolved into a virtual oligarchy. Incumbents re-election rates currently exceed 95% and their average tenure in office is more than 10 years. Most alarming is the corrupting co-dependence between the elected officials and special interests, especially those that provide campaign financing. Perhaps even more insidious is the growing lack of faith in our government by the general public.

This web pamphlet attempts to demonstrate that the primary underlying cause for these adverse trends is increasingly oversized House districts. In 1804, a member of the House of Representatives represented, on average, 40 thousand citizens. Today, each Representative “represents” over 660 thousand people….

In the early ’80s as a director on Marin County’s Steering Committee for the Future, we built a four day community college conference to encourage citizens to realize that all futures begin where we stand.

We do not wait for edict but build agreement.

Stronger than law, agreement is our good and precious secret.

Whether 1, 10, 1,000, 10,000, our representatives merely manage what we create.

Our democracy are us.

Think Global. Act Local.

Be Personal.

Our Intermodal Yodel:

Network from matrix
And matrix from node,
To coin a modern ode.

Web .0