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Archive for November, 2008


Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Go to the The Hindu (Chennai, India) original

ocean-water.jpg    © Geography for Kids


London (PTI): Scientists have developed what they claim is a revolutionary device, which can generate energy from ocean currents, enough to power the entire world.

According to them, the technology can harness power in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot — about a mile an hour — meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.

Professor Michael Bernitsas, who led an international team at University of Michigan, said that the device was based on the changes in water speed caused when a current flows past an obstruction.

“This is a totally new method of extracting energy from water flow. Fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them.

“Their muscle power alone could not propel them through the water at the speed they go, so they ride in each other’s wake,” professor Bernitsas was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying.

In fact, the device, called Vivace or vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy, has been inspired by the way a fish swims and consists of a system of cylinders that are positioned horizontal to water flow and attached to springs.

As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity. Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts.

According to the researchers, the technology requires up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation. “If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people,” said Prof Bernitsas, whose study is published in the Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.




Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Edna Froehlich
December 23, 1914-October 23, 2008,
beloved neighbor and landlord

“You’ve got too many zippers,” she told me,
observing my bag search to find a pen
when it came time to sign. Edna could see
and did see everything. She smiled, and then
she handed me her pen. I drew my breath.

Respect for others? Edna wrote the book
down to the last detail, from births to death;
she kept things straight. With just one look
she sized you up, then let her heart take charge.

For Edna fair was fair, and wrong was wrong.
A stopped-up sink, a roof – nothing too large
or small for her to fix. She took the long
approach, the route that worked. She loved her A’s,
her Chardonnay, her progeny. Sing praise.

Al Young

© 2008 Al Young




Friday, November 28th, 2008

Go to the original

Comcast Blacklist Nightmare (How to get off the list)


charlesmoffat-united-states-censorship-2001.jpg    © Charles Moffat


By Sam Gustin,

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, violated federal guidelines when it blocked and degraded Web traffic, the head of the Federal Communications Commission will announce Friday.

The sanctions would be the first time the commission has come down on an internet provider for denying consumers the right to open, unfettered internet access. It may set a precedent on how the federal government oversees management of internet traffic flows in the future.

Last fall, Comcast reluctantly acknowledged that it had temporarily blocked certain peer-to-peer traffic (file sharing). The cable giant called its actions “reasonable network management.”

But consumer rights groups and internet experts accused the company of violating the F.C.C.’s 2005 “Internet Policy Statement,” which established four principles intended to guarantee consumers unfettered access to all legal Web content, applications, and services.

The chairman of the F.C.C., Kevin Martin, now agrees.

“The commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers’ access to the internet,” he told the Associated Press on Thursday night. “We found that Comcast’s actions in this instance violated our principles.”

The consumer advocacy group Free Press trumpeted Martin’s decision as a victory for consumers.

“This is going to be a bellwether,” said Ben Scott, federal policy chief for Free Press.

The decision, contained in an order to be circulated by Martin, brings the agency’s nine-month investigation of Comcast close to completion. Martin, a Republican, is expected to gain support from the two Democratic F.C.C. commissioners for his position, which would ensure the order’s passage when the commission meets on August 1.

Comcast has long maintained that the government’s standard gives it the right to manage its digital traffic “reasonably” for the sake of “network management.”

For almost a year, consumer rights groups have battled Comcast, after an Associated Press investigation discovered that Comcast was blocking legal peer-to-peer traffic.

Comcast faced further public outrage after it admitted to paying people off the street to sit at a public hearing at Harvard, while members of the public were prevented from attending. At the time, Comcast claimed it merely paid people to save spots at the hearing for Comcast employees, but the event’s organizer disputed that claim.



Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Conference on Happiness Wraps Up in San Francisco

Read the Shambhala SunSpace original

Where Buddha Meets Freud (Psychology Today Blog)

 Clickable image

 gach1.jpg   Photo: Edward Brooks

Gary Gach

Author, editor and advisor to the Buddhist Channel Gary Gach reports from the Happiness & Its Causes conference that just ended in San Francisco

By Molly De Shong

Have you heard? “Positive psychology” is a term for a deep shift in thinking among some in the psychology community—which, until now, has focused largely on treating neurosis. There’s a new emphasis on discovering our great potential for true contentment and happiness. And, a shift from focusing on the negative framework of “fight-or-flight” response to “tend and befriend,” an equally important survival trait. Cognitive scientists are finding that compassion is hardwired into our brain; it’s not just a learned response. And as we’ve all heard by now, training the mind can change the brain. Fortunately, such breakthroughs don’t occur in complete isolation, as I can report from the floor of the Happiness & Its Causes conference here in San Francisco.

The conference opened on Nov. 24 with 700 people filling the Westin Hotel. There were health workers, therapists, teachers, students, media, Buddhist practitioners — all of whom soon formed a single, palpable, attentive, living link with the high-powered presenters, spurring them on to share their best. The first of five panels, “Deconstructing Happiness,” established a baseline for the rest of the day and for the conference. Psychologist Paul Ekman sharpened our discernment of the spectrum of possible states (and traits) implied by “happiness.” He was followed by a provocative capsule of the history of happiness in Western thought, presented by Prof. Darrin McMahon (author of the new book,  Happiness: A History).

After equally fine presentations by Dr. Thupten Jinpa (known to millions as principal translator to the Dalai Lama) and Prof. Owen Flanagan (who staked out the materialist, or naturalist, perspective), the four came together for an “In-Depth Discussion” moderated by Dr. B. Alan Wallace (President of the Santa Barbara Institute of Consciousness Studies).

Other panels explored social engagement, creativity, and cognitive research on the value of altruism,  compassion and hope.

This is the fourth Happiness & Its Causes conference. The first—held last year in Sydney, Australia—drew some 4,000 participants. Robina Courtin (executive director of the Liberation Prison Project) spearheaded this year’s event, working on behalf of the Sherab Plaza Trust.

So, what is happiness, and what are its causes? Sister Robina tells us that these are fundamental questions, and that recent research is challenging many of our firmly-held beliefs and assumptions. “It seems that we’re not limited by what we’re born with, that our brains can change; that our self-perception has an impact on whether we succeed or fail; that introspective techniques such as meditation can help us overcome depression and anxiety; that forgiving those who’ve harmed us can help our own peace of mind; that we’re hardwired for compassion; that we can learn to be happy, even joyful, in the face of suffering and death; and, finally, that happiness can be taught.”

—Gary Gach, San Francisco  
Gary G Gach at Red Room

© 2008 Shambhala SunSpace


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008


2009 Poetry Speaks Boxed Calendar
(Poetry Speaks Experience)


ISBN-13: 978-1402212666
 A year of poets and poetry based on the bestselling book with audio, bringing you short poetry from the greatest poets past and present, along with their thoughts and reflections on their craft and fascinating biographical information. Includes much-loved favorites and little-known works by well-known as well as new poets, and introduces the reader to many new talents working today.
“In late 2007 we were excited to publish Poetry Speaks Expanded, a new edition of the classic book, now including the poems and audio of Joyce (yes, you can hear James Joyce read from Finnegan’s Wake), Jack Kerouac, and many more. We also published our first single-poet book and audio collection, Something About the Blues, by California poet laureate Al Young. This marked the beginning of a strategic expansion into new poetry collections, an initiative that I will be personally spearheading. And we continue to promote the joy and beauty of poetry in so many other ways.”
– Dominique Raccah
Publisher, Sourcebooks




Poetry Speaks, Expanded

Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby, Editors


5.0 out of 5 stars An Enthralling Experience

Kathryn Atwood (Midwest) – See all my reviews

Although poetry was read, recited and memorized by entire families through the 19th century, during the 20th century it fell out of general popular favor. “Modern” poetry was considered too difficult for the average reader, so while it was read in schools and adored in academia, it moved out of the family parlor and into the anthology.

Enter the latest edition of “Poetry Speaks.” Seeking to make a new connection with potential readers (and listeners) of 20th century poetry, Sourcebooks has again assembled a package that is at once enthralling and educational. Each poet (47 in all) featured in the volume receives a biography, an extremely readable analysis of the poet’s work and several key poems. Some of the “chapters” also include a fascimilie of a poem or section of a poem written in the poet’s own hand.

The outstanding feature of “Poetry Speaks, Expanded” is, of course, the set of CDs which feature each poet reading their own work. This, aside from being extremely exciting for those of us with a bit of familiarity with a particular poet, also sheds some interesting light on the poems themselves. Who knew, for example, that Tennyson meant to emphasis the word “rode” in his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (as in: “into the valley of death RODE the six hundred) or that Gwendolyn Brooks’ “we” of “We Real Cool” was a barely audible syncopated beat in her famous poem?

But the real thrill is that by listening to the poets read their beautiful poems, one gets a window into their very souls. Carl Sandburg sounds Swedish (who knew?) and musical, Robert Frost sounds weary, Sylvia Plath sounds bitter, Edna St. Vincent Millay sounds actressy, Dorothy Parker sounds melancholy, Jack Kerouac sounds cool (which is obviously to be expected from the author of “On the Road,” but his beloved jazz music playing in the background helps!) and Robert Browning sounds, well, inaudible, but kudos to Sourcebooks for including him and several other 19th century poets — they’re a bit scratchy but, aside from Browning, basically audible. While listening to Dylan Thomas, one wonders if his absolutely gorgeous voice had something to do with his immense popularity, since he gave extensive readings of his work during his short lifetime.

In addition to including well known poets such as those already mentioned, “Poetry Speaks, Expanded” also includes the work of many lesser-known poets including Louise Bogan, Louis MacNeice, Muriel Rukeyser, Robert Duncan, and Robert Hayden. The book presents the material on each poet so thoroughly that it is a marvelous way to gain an introduction to the work of previously unfamiliar poets.

The poems collected here are the very best of the very best and hearing them read by their creators is absolutely breathtaking. The CD also contains brief but very insightful introductions to each poet by Charles Osgood who is very easy on the ears.

Poetry, in its essence, is meant to be heard, not merely seen, and this edition of “Poetry Speaks” has gone a long way towards making that happen.

Kathryn Atwood
Customer reviewer at Amazon.Com