Using used bottles

Spout for recycled bottles
I thought this was innovative.

As I thought about it though, I realized that I admired the invention because it was not only ingenious but frugal. Then it struck me that if being frugal, it wasn’t necessary.

But it is innovative.

A young Swiss designer had won a special Merit Award for its unique design and utility. About $6 at Perpetual Kid

How to be a great audience

Seth Godin posits,

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that information is just delivered to you. That rock stars and violinists and speakers and preachers and teachers and tour guides get paid to perform and the product is the product. But it’s not true. Great audiences get more.

Great audiences not only get more energy and more insight and more focused answers to their questions, they also get better jobs and find better relationships. Because the skills and the attitude are exactly the same.

Frank ZappaI remember my first rock concert.
Frank Zappa stared at me from the stage.
Singled out and embarassed, I
instantly froze my dancing and hooting. But he said loudly into his mike,


There’s different ways of showing your appreciation than just sitting there clapping.

I get so damn sick of clapping.

Use your imagination.

Can’t you guys think of something better than clapping; Like this guy?”

Link to Zappa Family Trust

New method for watering lawns & gardens

Accurain irrigation animation
AccuRain is a new and economical water-efficient garden irrigation solution.

Less cost than traditional automatic lawn sprinklers or drip irrigation systems.

Does the the work of many sprinklers or emitters.

One head can water 15 different zones of almost any size or shape, each with their own unique watering requirements.

Just point the stream of water where you want it; tell AccuRain how much and how often, and it does the rest.

Water anywhere in a 60-foot (18 m) diameter circle.

(posted on Goodwood blog too)

Inactivate E.coli bacteria?

Medicinal Peas

German Biotech company Novoplant plans to carry out field trials with newly developed medicinal peas, that can be used as raw material in animal feed.

The peas are modified with a gene to produce proteins that can inactivate E. coli bacteria. This feature will be an addition to the animals own immunity and help animals to better withstand diseases, according to Novoplant. The first crops are expected to be available in 2010.

Because we cannot [in Europe] use antibiotics in feed anymore, such modified crops may be an alternative.

News from new hearings

A man held in US custody for five years – in secret CIA prisons but now in Guantanamo Bay – has told a military hearing he was tortured into confessing a role in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

“I just said those things to make the people happy,” the transcript read.

“They were very happy when I told them those things.”

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 41, said he had faced years of torture after his arrest in 2002, a Pentagon transcript from the closed-door hearing reveals.

“It happened during interviews. One time they tortured me one way, and another time they tortured me in a different way.”

at the BBC

Background Update:
:: Out2Lunch :: Into the Lake of Fire ::: “Atlantic City by the cold grey sea | I hear a voice crying, ‘Daddy,’ I always think it’s for me, | But it’s only the silence in the buttermilk hills that call. | Every new messenger brings evil report | ‘Bout armies on the march and time that is short | And famines and earthquakes and hatred written upon walls.

“The first thing that strikes the lay student of military commissions is the enormous power vested in the US deputy secretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz, who is the commissions’ ‘appointing authority’. The judges – seven in a capital case – are appointed by Wolfowitz.

“Any judge can be substituted up to the moment of verdict, by Wolfowitz, US Deputy Secretary of Defence.”

Nikon Universcale

Nikon’s Universcale puts the entire universe into proportion, from the smallest particle to the largest measurements of space. From the femtometer to the light year, Universcale spans 40 magnitudes of measurement into a single cosmic web app. says

Every few months, I come across something on the web that completely blows my mind.

It’s really amazing when you zoom all the way out into stars and galaxies and realize that every time you go a magnitude higher, everything you saw before, from the flea to Mount Everest, is contained in this tiny little grid in the lower-left side of the screen. Of course, the Carl Sagan-should-be-narrating-this planetarium music helps.

If you have a few minutes and want to feel really, really small (or really, really large, or really, really disoriented), check out Universcale. It will eat up your afternoon and enlighten you as to the true size and scope of the cosmos.

Scout Report began to follow this physics instructional applet site in 1997.

Multimedia instructional tools for the physical sciences are rather in vogue these days, and a number of universities and colleges have developed creative resources in this area. One such set of resources happens to be the Physics Applets collection, created by staff members at the University of Oregon’s physics department. The interactive applets are divided into four sections, including mechanics, thermodynamics, astrophysics, and energy & environment. In total, there are over thirty different applets, and they include those that illustrate the concepts of potential energy, Kepler’s Third Law, and atomic emission.

Who first coined, “rather in vogue”?

Consider the entire Universe at the University of Tennessee

Recycling update

Each individual generates about 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day of which 1.5 pounds is recycled.

The U.S. recycled 32 percent of its waste in 2005. Including composting, Americans recycled 79 million tons – a huge jump from 16 percent in 1990.

Paper is 40 percent of the waste stream though 50 percent of paper waste is recycled (34% in US mills).

# Newspapers: 82 percent
# Corrugated Boxes: 71 percent
# Office Paper: 56 percent
# Magazines: 33 percent

But e-waste — pollution from the disposal of unwanted electronic and electrical equipment — is fast becoming a problem. [story]

75 to 80 percent of older machines from the United States wind up in Asian countries such as India and China.

Most e-waste in India is dumped in landfills or incinerated, releasing toxins into the air and soil that can cause cancer, birth deformities and arrested brain development. Indian hospitals are treating patients who have 10 times the normal level of lead in their blood.

The number of electronic products discarded globally has skyrocketed in recent years — 50 million tons annually.

“High-tech companies do more than just sweep e-waste under the rug. They are sending it across the world in violation of international laws enacted to protect poor nations from the excesses of the world’s wealthiest,” said Ted Smith, founder of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. “Every new generation of technology … sends zillions more of our computers and TVs to global trash heaps.”

A growing number of prison inmates and guards are expressing fears for their health and safety in electronics recycling factories run by UNICOR, or the “Federal Prison Industries.” UNICOR is a controversial business venture: a government corporation operated under the Department of Justice that uses captive prison labor in a range of industries, including the manufacturing of furniture, textiles and dismantling e-waste.

Top nations searching for sex

Who’s using Google to search for sex?
Who’s using Google to search for sex and God?

1. Pakistan
2. Egypt
3. India
4. Viet Nam
5. Morocco
6. Turkey
7. Iran
8. Saudi Arabia
9. Indonesia
10. Croatia

Check it out at Google Trends

tipped from denisdekat

Largest astrology study completed

The largest test of astrology ever carried out proves it’s a waste of time.

“If there is even the smallest tendency for Virgos to fancy Capricorns, or for Libras to like Leos, then we should see it in marriage statistics.

The Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for Census and Survey Research analysed the birthdays of all 20 million husbands and wives in England and Wales.

The investigation failed to reveal any evidence of attraction between star signs.

“When you have a population of ten million couples, then even if only one pair in a thousand is influenced by the stars, you’d have ten thousand more couples than expected with certain combinations of signs.

“The public appetite for horoscopes makes media astrologers wealthy. These results won’t put them out of business.

“When it comes to love, people will try anything.” [story]

How many homes per megaWatt?

This little tidbit of info will help to understand the news about energy:

Each megawatt of net electricity is enough power to run approximately 800 homes.

Hype can harm

Too much marketing hype can harm sales.

In a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, a team led by UGA Terry College of Business assistant professor Vanessa Patrick finds that people take notice when they feel worse than they thought they would, but—oddly—not when they feel better than expected. The message for marketers, Patrick said, is that too much hype can hurt a company when people realize that their expectations haven’t been met.

The story shows that “affective misforecasting” really has to do with emotions and not with product performance. Misforecasting can be minimized simply by creating a more realistic expectation of the future.

USA slippin’ away

The US has lost its position as the world’s primary engine of technology innovation, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

The US is now ranked seventh in the body’s league table measuring the impact of technology on the development of nations.

A deterioration of the political and regulatory environment in the US prompted the fall, the report said.

The top spot went for the first time to Denmark, followed by Sweden. [story at BBC]

Nature’s poise

OSPCA photo of lab and bird
Photo from the Ontario SPCA

Found at How to Save the World

A similarly wonderful photo here
of a yellow lab nurturing a very young fawn.

It’s the devil, stupid

“I live in a 25-room mansion, I have my own $6 million yacht, I have my own private jet and I have my own helicopter and I have seven luxury automobiles.”, says one evangelist.

The popular Kenneth Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries lives in a large mansion in Texas. He recently asked his audience to help him spread the gospel by giving him $20 million to buy a new jet.

Trinity Broadcasting sits on a $340 million cash hoard, and owns houses in an exclusive Orange County, Calif., community hidden behind very regal gates – one mansion worth about $4 million, and an even bigger one — over 10,000 square feet — that’s worth about $6 million. The Crouches also travel the world in a jet worth a reported $7 million.

Stewardship Partners is a $3.5 billion “christian’ investment fund.

There are at least 28 Christian groups, including some of the most successful televangelists in America, that have little or no financial transparency. (Click here to see the full list.) There’s a backlog of 500 groups that ought to be investigated.

ABC News is covering how millions of christian donors are sending their dollars to prop up hundreds of misleading christian charities and evangelist hustlers. [Finally, as if this were a deeply hidden issue… ]

Tail wagging is important

dog wagging tail.gif
Tail wagging sends a different message depending on the direction of the wag.

By examining dogs’ interactions with people and other animals, scientists have found that a dog wags its tail to the right when it spots someone or something familiar such as their owner and to the left when it feels threatened.

The bias is subtle, requiring video analysis to spot, and not obvious enough for you to tell whether the next dog you meet is going to lick your face or turn tail. The study of wagging could be used in animal welfare to help vets to gauge an animal’s state of mind.

Shown a human, tails wagged consistently to the right. They carefully studied the tail wagging angle and ignored twitches of less than three degrees overall, “which were plausibly not correlated to wagging”.

They found that the unfamiliar person elicited less wagging than the owner, and the cat the least wagging of all, though still slightly to the right – probably because the dog was so keen to give chase that it was distracted.

Shown a large, unfamiliar and intimidating dog, the dogs wagged their tails more to the left.

Dogs also wagged to the left when on their own without anyone to look at, suggesting that they like company.

In dogs, as in humans, the left side of the brain is involved in signaling to approach something while the right side advises retreat.

Dogs are already known to prefer to use one paw over the other – most male dogs are left-pawed, whereas females show a lesser tendency to right-pawedness.

link to story
more at the Daily Telegraph

Why did we hire you?

Soul of the corporation, scourge of the corporation

Mary Minnick is the outgoing CMO at the Coca-Cola Company. To judge from the press reports, it sounds as if she might belong to the category of change agent. Here’s what she had to say this week in the Financial Times.

Change is uncomfortable, just as a human characteristic and for organisations as a whole. It’s challenging, it’s complicated, and it doesn’t always make people comfortable.

Minnick pursued change anyhow. As she told shareholders. “I tend to be quite discontented in general. It will never be fast enough or soon enough or good enough.”

And we may judge how far she was prepared to transform the Coke paradigm, when she says,

All the work we did suggested that consumers are using beverages in dramatically different ways, ranging from disease prevention, to hydration, to weight reduction, to relaxation, to relieving stress and to fortification of nutrition.

Change agents of this kind don’t stay for very long. Ms. Minnick lasted 20 months. But then that is perhaps the very nature of their contribution to the corporation. They so upset the apple cart, they can’t stay for very long.

What’s weird is that the new corporation is going to need these kinds of people. As things speed up, as the corporation grows cloudier, both continuity and discontinuity are called for in equal measure. As things speed up, as change grows more intense, it is really hard sometimes to remember what the corporation stands for. How useful to have a “soul of the corporation” person around to remind us.

Bring in the revolutionary. (And make sure the pay package is rich, because they won’t be here for long.)

overload equals retrieval

purposivedrift is enthused about Grant McCracken, who delves in economics and complexity theory, holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and has taught at the Harvard Business School. McCracken writes about fearless noticing:

“…I found myself telling these young planners about the time I sat beside Marshall Sahlins, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, as he read one of my papers. Professor Sahlins was traveling at speed through my paper, not because it was well written but because not even bad writing could slow him down. Suddenly, he stopped absolutely dead in his tracks and said, ‘hm, I wonder why that is.’

“I was watching a very smart man acknowledge the limits of understanding. You could almost hear him thinking, ‘why can’t I think this?’

“This is the secret of noticing. Spotting things that defy expectation, things that don’t ‘compute.’ The temptation for the rest of us is to ‘fake the results’ and assimilate the anomalous to existing categories.”

McCracken asserts, “Good noticers are fearless noticers.”

Years ago I coined an equation to help describe ‘why can’t I think this?’.

information overload equals information retrieval

I began to think that when the mind encounters a limit of its intelligence, it instantly begins to gather additional resources, seemingly diverting blood flow and energy from other parts of our body inducing a temporary queesiness, a quick exhaustion often called ‘information overload’.

But I also noticed that though ‘information overload’ may be a true and real feeling, it wasn’t the brain that was feeling it; the queesiness was elsewhere. Instead, new material was being formulated, bringing some new likelihood to learning – often much much later.

One of my favorite exercises in thinking is to gaze into a stary night, propelling along tube after tube of photons toward the vast calendar of stars, where only moments pass until I am utterly overwhelmed and instantly ignorant! There is a simultaneous and distinct event – reaching the limit of intelligence within my puny momentary center of infinity – where thinking seems to stop. Is this when new information gathers?

along the way from plankton to pulsar…

To live with life an ally
and all the earth its winking crew
and all the heavens supervise.

I received honors grades for a photo essay I submitted when a student called ‘the moment is infinity’, but as a typical student, I lost the book during one of too many times moving from place to place. Anyone find it?

May we, as if a star, use our hope to breathe:

When the self can loft the mind and, hence, the mind does wire the body in some mimic’d perfection, it is as if all spills upon us, both inside and out, pouring what’s best called adventure to test the courages.

Here’s to recognizing amidst the blinding dark infinity
the sweet triumph of every step we carve from this froth of earth.

The discount crowd

Shoppers team up for better deals
Chinese shopping craze: consumers meet up in shops at a coordinated
time, literally mobbing the seller and negotiating a group discount on the spot.

A new tuangou or team buying site has launched in the UK –

Ethanol backlash developing

The Wall Street Journal cites problems with corn fuel.

Ethanol receives a 51-cents-a-gallon federal subsidy.

But a backlash has been brewing in towns across the Midwest.

Fights have broken out in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and several towns in Wisconsin.

Opponents complain that ethanol plants deplete aquifers, draw heavy truck traffic, pose safety concerns, contribute to air pollution and produce a sickly-sweet smell akin to that of a barroom floor.

Robert Dineen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, a Washington trade group, was quoted as saying, “Generally, communities look at these plants as local economic engines.” The story says that the plants bring jobs and have dramatically raised corn prices and farmland values. Many ethanol plants have paid rich dividends to investors, who often include local farmers and other residents.

But experts hotly debate whether renewable fuels offer a panacea for the world’s energy needs. As with ethanol derived from corn — which slurps up water — many alternative fuels are creating environmental problems of their own.

In Indonesia, Malaysia and Canada, forests are being slashed for energy-yielding crops or other unconventional fuels. In India, environmentalists say, water tables are dropping as farmers boost production of ethanol-yielding sugar.

As the rush to build ethanol plants continues in the U.S. — there are 114 in operation, 80 under construction and many more in planning stages — clashes with locals are multiplying.

Electron spin makes gold heavy

One of the key tenets of relativity is that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

The reason for this is that objects become heavier, or more massive, the faster they go, with the mass approaching infinity as the object approaches the speed of light.

In an atom, where electrons race around the nucleus like buzzing bees, the velocity of an electron doesn’t get anywhere near the speed of light until the atomic nucleus fills up with lots of positively charged protons – the negatively charged electrons have to move faster to keep from being pulled into the highly positive nucleus. This occurs in the transition metals of the periodic table of elements, metals ranging from tantalum and tungsten to platinum and gold. In a gold atom, with 79 protons in the nucleus, the 79 electrons whip around the nucleus at about half the speed of light.

The net effect is that gold’s electrons are much heavier and are pulled in closer to the nucleus, lowering the energy levels and making the atom more compact.

According to this hypothesis, gold’s s shells, which are its lowest energy spherically symmetric electron shells, contract. This shields the electrons in outer, asymmetric p and d orbits from the nuclear charge, allowing them to expand slightly. In gold, the contraction of the outermost (6s) shell and the expansion of the next-inner (5p) shell reduces the energy difference between the two to the equivalent of a photon of blue light.

This allows gold to absorb blue light and, thus, look yellow. Silver, because it exhibits a much less dramatic effect, is unable to absorb any visible light and is totally reflective.

War is a Racket claims many dedicated rants against the Iraq war, and against war in general.

Americans aren’t taught in school about Smedley Butler, an important figure in United States history who spent thirty-three years in the Marine Corps before retiring as a major general in 1931.

Widely respected (he’s one of only two Marines to win the Congressional Medal of Honor twice), he was recruited in 1933 by fascism-admiring, über-rich American businessmen to lead a coup against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Imagine their surprise when Butler reported the plan to a congressional committee instead. Though the committee’s final report corroborated Butler’s testimony, no further action was taken.

Bluntly honest, Butler frequently spoke after his retirement to gatherings sponsored by “veterans, communists, pacifists and church groups” (Wikipedia) in which he made no bones about the masters he truly served during his career.

Probably Butler’s best-known quote comes from a 1935 issue of Common Sense, a socialist newspaper:

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.”

In 1935, Butler penned a damning, no-frills booklet, War is a Racket

People have not been horrified by war to a sufficient extent … War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

How psychoanalysts diagnose

The “Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm [wiki] [bio] was a best seller in humanist circles from the 50s to the 70s.

Jumping from a post at wood s lot, I found a thorough narrative about Erich Fromm posted by one of Fromm’s students and associates.

For instance, Fromm is describing psychoanalytic diagnosis at a 1963 class at the Mexican Institute:

The analyst should determine first, the symptoms, goals and pathology of the patient. What is the type and the degree of pathology, e.g. regressive symbiosis, narcissism, and/or destructiveness? Fromm advised that most conflicts presented by the patient are screens. The analyst cannot help the patient decide whether or not to get divorced or leave a job. These hide the deeper conflicts, which Fromm sometimes called the secret plot. An example is Ibsen’s Peer Gynt: the modern alienated man who claims he wants to be free and express himself but really wants to satisfy all his greedy impulses and then complains that he has no self, that he is nothing and nobody.

The prognosis is better if the patient’s goal is to achieve health in terms of increased capability for freedom and loving relationships, rather than getting help to solve a specific problem which may be merely a symptom of the failure to maintain the cover story.

Second, the analyst should determine the strength of the resistance. He suggested a test of telling the patient something which appears repressed, indicated by a slip of the tongue, a contradiction, or a dream. If there is a positive reaction, the prognosis is better. If there is anger or the patient doesn’t hear, the prognosis is very bad. Fromm considered a sense of humor the best indication of a positive prognosis. Lack of it was an indication of “grave narcissism”. Humor is the emotional side of reason, the emotional sense of reality. Fromm himself had a keen sense of humor with a taste for the sardonic. He loved good jokes.

Third, the capacity for insight is another indication of good or bad prognosis. The analyst should make small tests, such as “You complain about your wife. Perhaps you are afraid of her.” It is a bad sign if the patient either denies an interpretation too quickly or submissively agrees to everything the analyst suggests.

Fourth, what is the degree of vital energy? Is the patient capable of waking up? A person can be quite crazy, yet have the vitality essential for transformation.

At this time, Fromm was no longer claiming that neurotics were healthier than normal people. However, he did maintain that some patients with a severe psychopathology had a better prognosis than those with milder pathology. The key diagnostic factor was the patient’s creative potential or ability to struggle against the pathology.

Fifth, has the patient shown responsibility and activity during his or her life? Fromm contrasted obsessive responsibility with the ability to respond to challenges. If the patient always escapes with a magical, irresponsible flight, analysis is not impossible, but extremely difficult.

Sixth, is there a sense of integrity? This refers to the difference between a neurotic and psychopathic personality. Does the patient accept a truth once experienced? Or is there a quality of bad faith, wiggling away from inconvenient truths, a bad sign for prognosis.

Michael Maccoby says about his ally,

“Although he introduced many American intellectuals of the 40s and 50s to the relevance of psychoanalysis to understanding 20th century social pathology, typical intellectuals of today think of Fromm, if at all, as a critic of the mass consumer society.

A smaller number recognize the contribution he made in Escape from Freedom to understanding the psychic appeal of fascism, an understanding relevant to current events in Russia and the Balkans.

But relatively few appreciate his most valuable and original legacy: understanding human character in relation to society.”

Maccoby concludes:

“As a student of Fromm, I believe the task remains of integrating the analytic and the prophetic voices, the understanding of what is and what can be with a compelling vision of what ought to be in order to create a better life and a more humane world.”

Inside us something is valuable

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.

Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.e.e. cummings