Portfolio Manager        
FL-Ft. Lauderdale, COMMERCIAL LOAN PORTFOLIO MANAGER JOB DESCRIPTION Community bank located in Ft. Lauderdale area seeks a self-starting, detail oriented Commercial Loan Portfolio Manager to assist with the comprehensive management of its commercial real estate and C&I loan portfolio. This team player role will combine elements of a credit analyst, loan underwriter, loan administrator, customer focused portfolio man
          Sugar Free launches a web series ‘The Sweet Breakup’ a first of its kind in the food space        

by Shrutee K/DNS

Mumbai, August 2017: Sugar Free, a name synonymous with sugar substitute, is the single largest leader in India in the category. The brand always thrives on innovation as key for its growth and has introduced many variants in the category for the sweet binging yet calorie conscious Indians. As an extension to its innovation drive, the brand has unveiled a new campaign ‘The Sweet Breakup’, a one-of-a-kind 5-part web-series in the food category. The series is conceptualized and executed by Maxus Content, the content solutions arm of Maxus.
Talking about the campaign Tarun Arora, Chief Operating Officer & Director, Zydus Wellness said, “Our vision for “Sugar Free” is to make it the brand of choice for consumers seeking low / no calorie options to lead a healthier life style. Hence to address the myths attached with the usage of Sugar Free as part of one’s daily culinary needs made us conceptualize ‘The Sweet Break Up’.  This web series demonstrates in an authentic way that you can indulge into your favourite dessert guilt-free without compromising on the taste. The 5- city trail as part of the campaign only reaffirmed that any sweet recreated with Sugar Free tastes the same when made with sugar. I believe this was the first time a dessert truck was going around India and hence there was a lot of excitement amongst people wanting to know what’s cooking !”
Pooja Verma, Head - Content, Entertainment and Sports Partnerships at Maxus said, “Maxus believes that changing traditional behaviour among consumers with content, needs a compelling strategy which is driven by insights and fused with creative thought. Showcasing Sugar Free as more than just a sugar substitute via ‘The Sweet Break-Up’ campaign is a prime example of our focus. Sweets have a strong relationship with celebrations in our country. With that insight in mind, we brought our campaign together on the message that enjoying sweets while breaking up with unhealthy calories is a win-win outcome for every foodie. The creative vehicle to deliver that message is our one-of-a-kind series where Chef Kunal Kapur joins famous foodie-duo Rocky & Mayur, in recreating delicious Indian sweets with Sugar Free. Through this content solution, the brand stands to generate extensive and meaningful conversations with viewers who love their sweets.”

This campaign marks the culinary journey of Sugar Free across 5 cities Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai, where celebrity chef Kunal Kapur reconstructed 5 different speciality desserts by using Sugar Free products. The brand also had on board the famous foodie duo Rocky and Mayur whose fun banter added to the entertainment element in the web-series. The journey started from Delhi where the chef created the famous Tewari Brother’s Gulaab Jamun followed by Lucknow where Ram Asrey’s famous Malai ki Gilori was made. The truck then headed East to Kolkata where he recreated Balaram Mullick’s Sandesh and then southward to Bangalore where he made a fusion dessert using G Pulla Reddy’s Dharwad Peda and created Dharwad Peda Tiramisu. The final leg of the web series was shot in Mumbai where Chef Kapur added a spin to made Ladu Samrat’s modak and created delicious chocolate modaks. All of these were created using Sugar Free. While the brand has a strong linkage with table top consumptionand pellets as a format, the culinary consumption for powder formats is a gap that needs to be bridged. ‘The Sweet Breakup’ campaign is that step forward by Sugar Free to make consumers aware of the format, its usage and the fact that the taste of the dessert stays as good. What more? One can indulge in sweets now without having to feel guilty.
The Sweet Breakup will be unveiled on-air on youtube.com 18thAugust
About Zydus Wellness Limited: Zydus Wellness Limited is the Consumer products company from the Zydus Group. Zydus group is a pharma major with flagship organization, Cadila Healthcare Limited, a leading pharmaceutical company with significant global presence apart from India. Zydus Wellness has been a pioneer in various categories it operates in. The company focuses on emerging segments and has its DNA of innovations with “Do good benefits” at the core of its business. Zydus Wellness commands leadership in the sugar substitute market, table spreads and the skin care segments. In the sugar substitute market, Sugar Free is a market leader with a market share of 94% and targets health and fitness seekers apart from diabetics.
Nutralite is a market leader in the Fat Spread category and appeals to consumers looking for healthier alternatives to normal butter. It is cholesterol free, does not contain any hydrogenated fats and is also trans-fat free. Everyuth is a pioneer in facial cleansing space in India. It enjoys leadership in the scrub and Peel off Mask segments and is amongst the top players in the overall facial cleansing category with strong “Naturals” equity Zydus Wellness Limited is listed on NSE and BSE and has manufacturing locations in Gujarat and Sikkim.
About Maxus:  Maxus is a marketing communications consultancy that helps marketers build profitable relationships between consumers and their brands. They combine the disciplines of communications planning and customer relationship marketing to deliver Relationship Media, a next generation model powered by creative media thinking and sophisticated, real-time customer data.

Their services include communications strategy, digital marketing, direct response media, social media, data analytics, media investment management, content & sports marketing, marketing ROI evaluation and CRM. Having a talent team of 2,500 people across 55 markets, they are part of GroupM, the world’s largest media investment management group that serves as the parent company for all of WPP’s media agencies.


 Descarga toda la discografia de mana gratis [completo]

Amar es combatir:
01. Manda una señal
02. Labios compartidos
03. Ojalá pudiera borrarte
04. Arrancame el corazón
05. Tengo muchas alas
06. Dime luna
07. Bendita tu luz (con Juan Luis Guerra)
08. Tú me salvaste
09. Combatiente
10. El viaje
11. El rey tiburón
12. Somos mar y arena
13. Relax

Revolucion de amor:
01. Justicia, Tierra Y Libertad
02. Ay, Doctor
03. Fe
04. Sábanas Frías
05. Pobre Juan
06. ¿Por Qué Te Vas?
07. Mariposa Traicionera
08. Sin Tu Cariño
09. Eres Mi Religión
10. No Voy A Ser Tu Esclavo
11. Ángel De Amor
12. Nada Que Perder

Grandes exitos mana:
01. Perdido en un barco
02. Rayando el Sol
03. Vivir sin aire
04. Oye mi amor
05. Te lloré un río
06. Cómo te deseo
07. De pies a cabeza


  Al Klimahouse è stato assegnato a Internorm il Premio Qualità Estetica e Sostenibilità Ambientale per il modello di finestra HF410 HF410 offre l’elemento esclusivo del profilo I-tec Core, costruito con lamelle di legno incollate per una robustezza e stabilità che consente di aumentare le...

L'articolo PREMIO KLIMAPRIZE A INTERNORM proviene da Ruaro Sas.

          Gli infiniti possibili di Giorgio Sollazzi, musicista        
All'epoca ero molto ingenuo e molto presuntuoso e pensavo di poter scrivere “recensioni” di grandi opere musicali del passato. Le pubblicavo su un sito commerciale (che esiste ancora oggi). Quando mi venivano bene, erano “schede" molto pedantesche, contenenti le stesse informazioni che si possono trovare su una qualsiasi garzantina. Infatti, qualche anno dopo, quando Wikipedia arrivò in Italia, smisi di farmi sfruttare dal sito commerciale e trovai quella che probabilmente è la mia vera vocazione internettiana.

Ad ogni modo fu sul sito commerciale che conobbi Giorgio Sollazzi. Anche lui scriveva recensioni. Con la prima, importante differenza che lui è musicista, e quindi sa di cosa scrive, e con una seconda differenza: le sue recensioni erano avvincenti, estrose, godibilissime, anche e soprattutto quando sembrava che non avessero nulla a che fare col brano musicale che - in teoria - ne costituiva l'oggetto. Le recensioni di Giorgio non parlavano precisamente né del brano musicale “in sé”, né della sua ricezione da parte dell'ascoltatore-recensore. Si situavano, piuttosto, in qualche punto lungo la relazione fra questi due elementi, come un acrobata in equilibrio su un filo, o come uno dei fuochi di due specchi parabolici contrapposti. Non per niente “mirrors” (con la m minuscola) era il nickname che Giorgio si era scelto.

A un certo punto Giorgio uscì dal sito e cancellò il suo account. Dev'essere per questo che, cercando ora qualcuna delle meravigliose recensioni di mirrors, non ne trovo nessuna. Qualche tempo dopo si iscrisse nuovamente con un altro nickname e cominciò a pubblicare recensioni di forma più tradizionale, ma sempre molto belle, come ad esempio questa, sulla settima di Beethoven.

L'interpretazione verbale di un brano musicale è sempre un grosso azzardo. "Scrivere di musica è come ballare di architettura", diceva Frank Zappa. Le descrizioni che amo di più sono quelle di musiche inesistenti, come la sonata di Vinteuil in Proust o le composizioni immaginate da Thomas Mann nel Doktor Faustus. Proust mescolava genialmente le carte, inventandosi una sonata per violino e pianoforte che prendeva un po' dalla Sonata in re minore di César Franck, un po' da un quintetto di Saint-Saëns, senza essere né l'una né l'altro; in piena coerenza, d'altronde, con la sua estetica, dove non esistono "descrizioni" "realistiche" del "mondo esterno". Quanto a Mann, Arnold Schönberg s'inalberò quando seppe che la sua musica aveva ispirato quella del romanzo, al punto da pretendere una smentita da parte dello scrittore. E dal suo punto di vista Schönberg aveva anche ragione, in quanto Mann interpretava la dodecafonia come un fenomeno di dissoluzione morale, che era quanto di più lontano dagli intenti del severo musicista.

Ma anche divagare è un'arte, che a me non riesce: ci provo inutilmente, per poi subito ricadere nel mio solito modo di scrivere pedestre e nozionistico. Dunque, meglio rimanere on topic e parlare di Giorgio Sollazzi. Ecco: quando lo conobbi, non attraversavo quello che si dice un buon periodo. Mi ero laureato, avevo fatto il servizio civile, abitavo a casa dei miei in provincia, lontanissimo dall'università e dai miei amici di laggiù. Gli altri miei amici, quelli del liceo, erano sparsi in giro per l'Italia. Facevo pratica in uno studio legale. Ero, in sostanza, disoccupato, e mi sentivo terribilmente solo e senza prospettive. L'amicizia epistolare con Giorgio mi aiutò a tenermi in piedi. Ci scambiavamo commenti e messaggi sul sito commerciale (che fungeva anche un po' da social network), email, ma anche lettere cartacee: ricordo un plico meraviglioso che egli mi spedì con un CD che aveva masterizzato per me. Dentro c'erano un brano di Stockhausen, Il canto sospeso di Nono, un coro dal Trovatore, e non ricordo cos'altro.

A quel tempo Internet non aveva ancora stravolto la distribuzione della musica. C'era Napster, ma con le connessioni lente di allora non è che si riuscisse a scaricare granché. Per ascoltare musica bisognava ancora affidarsi alla radio, oppure ordinare il disco al negozio e aspettare che arrivasse. C'era poi una circolazione semiclandestina di audiocassette duplicate artigianalmente, che passavano di mano in mano come samizdat. Tutta una dimensione romantica, di scoperta, che si è persa dal momento in cui è bastato digitare un nome su un motore di ricerca per avere subito a disposizione l'intera produzione di qualsiasi musicista antico o contemporaneo.

Poco tempo fa ho chiesto a Giorgio se, come musicista, non si sentisse stimolato da questa odierna vasta disponibilità di musiche, e come mai ciò non lo inducesse a scrivere in una tale, enorme varietà di stili e di linguaggi: oggi un brano dodecafonico, domani uno pop, dopodomani uno free jazz, e via dicendo. Non ricordo esattamente il tenore della mia domanda - che comunque era piuttosto stupida, si capisce. Ricordo invece perfettamente la replica di Giorgio: fare come gli suggerivo io - mi ha risposto - avrebbe forse aumentato il suo tasso di libertà ma avrebbe diminuito il tasso di scelta.

In uno dei suoi romanzi, Nicola Lagioia offre alcune riflessioni molto interessanti a proposito del ritrovare sui social network i propri amici di gioventù. Queste amicizie del mondo reale divenute poi virtuali - osserva Lagioia - hanno una strana consistenza umbratile. Simile a quella degli spiriti nell'undicesimo libro dell'Odissea (o nel sesto dell'Eneide), aggiungerei io. Colpa del mezzo, evidentemente, e non dell'amicizia in sé - ma questo è un altro discorso.

Conosco Giorgio da sedici anni e non ci siamo mai incontrati di persona: solo via Internet, e qualche volta per telefono. Però non ho mai avvertito come un limite la virtualità della nostra amicizia. Forse perché nel suo caso manca il confronto con l'immagine mnemonica della persona reale, o forse per il felice paradosso che Giorgio riesce a realizzare nelle sue comunicazioni virtuali, allo stesso tempo lievi e intense.

Sto pensando che “lieve” e “intenso” potrebbero essere i due primi aggettivi che mi vengono in mente ascoltando la musica di Giorgio. Mi rendo conto che come contributo critico è parecchio inadeguato, ma ho già detto che non sono del mestiere. Giorgio ha esposto la sua poetica (o almeno, una delle sue poetiche) in uno scritto che potete trovare qui.

In questo saggio, Giorgio prende le mosse dal personaggio di Amleto (con annesso spettro del re di Danimarca?) per proporre una sua complessa concezione della composizione, come “apparizione” o “evocazione” di “potenziali”. 

Shakespeare era un altro interesse che ci univa quando scrivevamo sul sito commerciale. Giorgio ha molto riflettuto, e qualcosa ha anche scritto, sia in prosa sia in musica, sulla figura di Amleto.

Quanto a me, partendo dalla constatazione che su Internet in italiano c'era ancora poco materiale sull'argomento, mi ero messo in testa di compilare e mettere on line una "recensione" per ciascuno dei drammi del Bardo. Tanto ero sprovveduto, a quell'epoca.

Più tardi abbandonai l'insano progetto, assieme alle mie velleità di anglista, e praticamente smisi di leggere Shakespeare. Oggi amo recarmi, di quando in quando, a visitare l'abbazia cistercense di Morimondo. Questo non c'entra nulla con quanto ho detto finora. Però nell'abbazia c'è un bel coro ligneo di epoca rinascimentale.

Ogni volta che lo vedo recito mentalmente la prima quartina del Sonetto LXXIII.

La migliore traduzione italiana è quella di Ungaretti:

"Quel tempo in me vedere puoi dell'anno
Quando già niuna foglia, o rara gialla in sospeso, rimane
Ai rami che affrontando il freddo tremano,
Cori spogliati rovinati dove gli uccelli cantarono, dolci".

Di solito i commentatori sottolineano il senso di desolazione che promana da quei bare ruin'd choirs, vuoti, semidistrutti e muti. Sta di fatto che Shakespeare, mentre ce li descrive, riesce in qualche modo a farcene riascoltare il suono. Forse questa è una delle cose che il poeta vuole dirci: la memoria, aiutata dall'arte, può riuscire ad evocare la musica di un coro assente.

          Sulla critica del diritto nel giovane Gramsci        
E' successo che, preparando un commento all'ultima sortita di Saviano a proposito di storia della sinistra italiana, ho ripreso in mano, dopo anni, il vecchio volume dell'Einaudi (Torino, 1960) che raccoglie i corsivi pubblicati da Gramsci sull'"Avanti!" nella rubrica Sotto la Mole (1916-1920). Qui mi è capitato sotto gli occhi il commento di Gramsci alla sentenza sui "fatti di Torino", cioè (annotano i curatori dell'edizione) "lo sciopero generale per il pane e contro la guerra, che sfociò nella sommossa del 23-26 agosto 1917". [1]

Il commento di Gramsci fu pubblicato sull'"Avanti!" il 20 ottobre 1918: il testo, come di frequente, uscì con vistosi "vuoti" dovuti all'azione della censura. Eccolo qui di seguito [2].


Il giudice Emanuele Pili non è senza storia, come gli uomini e i popoli felici. Ma la storia del giudice Emanuele Pili ha una lacuna; iniziatasi col protagonista autore drammatico, riprende ora col protagonista «ragionatore» di sentenze, e riprende con una gloriosa e strenua pugna: il «ragionamento» della sentenza per i fatti di Torino, che nell'ultimo numero della «Gazzetta dei tribunali» il misuratore di crani prof. Vitige Tirelli qualifica «dotta».
Benedetto Croce ha scritto: «Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú gio [dodici righe e mezzo censurate]. E il giudice giovane ha fatto sfoggio di dottrina; e il giudice giovane — poiché nella prima gíoventú aspirava alla gloria di Talia e dedicava le sue fresche energie intellettuali a scrivere commedie nei vari dialetti di Sardegna e non poté studiare tutti i risultati delle ultime ricerche sulla natura del diritto e delle costituzioni — ha ragionato [una riga censurata] nella sentenza dei fatti di Torino, rovistando nei vecchi cassettoni, rimettendo alla luce tutti gli imparaticci scolastici del primo anno universitario, quando ancora si frequentano le lezioni e si prendono gli appunti.
[Venticinque righe censurate].
Gli sono estranee le correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure — superando le concezioni puerilmente metafisiche della dottrina tradizionale, degli imparaticci da scoletta universitaria — colla riduzione dello Stato e del Giure a pura attività pratica, svolta come dialettica della volontà di potenza e non piú pietistico richiamo alle leggi naturali, ai sacrari inconoscibili dell'istinto avito, alla banale retorica dei compilatori delle storiette per la scuola elementare. Il «ragionamento» del giudice Pili è solo una filastroccola di banalità retoriche, di gonfiezze presuntuose: esso è il ridicolo parto di un fossile intellettuale, il quale non riesce a concepire che lo Stato italiano almeno giuridicamente (e come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare al «giovane» da tribunale) è costituzionale, ed è parlamentare per tradizione (l'on. Sonnino è gran parte dello Stato attuale, ma crediamo che il suo articolo Torniamo allo Statuto! non sia ancora diventato legge fondamentale del popolo italiano): [cinque righe censurate]. La «dottrina» del giovane da tribunale infatti si consolida (!) in esclamazioni enfatiche contro chi ha «resistito» o è accusato di aver resistito: non cerca (come era suo compito) di dimostrare, alla stregua delle prove concrete e sicure, un delitto per passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice. No, il «giovane» vuole sfoggiare, come una contadina ricca del Campidano di Cagliari le vesti multicolori che hanno servito alle sue antenate per le nozze e per decine e decine di anni sono rimaste seppellite in un vecchio cassettone a fregi bestiali e floreali tra lo spigo e una dozzina di limoni: e sfoggia tutti i vecchiumi, tutti gli scolaticci dei vespasiani giuridici chiusi per misura d'igiene pubblica.
Il giudice Emanuele Pili ha scritto una commedia dialettale: Bellu schesc' e dottori! (che bel pezzo di... dottore!) L'esclamazione potrebbe essere la conclusione critica della lettura di una sentenza, cosí com'è il titolo di una commedia.

La prima lacuna è stata integrata facilmente dai curatori del testo gramsciano. Si tratta di una citazione dalla Logica di Croce, riportata come segue:

«Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú giovane collega di "ragionarla", ossia di apporre una parvenza di ragionamento a ciò che non è intrinsecamente e puramente prodotto di logica, ma è voluntas di un determinato provvedimento. Questo procedere, se ha il suo uso nella cerchia pratica o giuridica, è affatto escluso da quella della logica e della scienza» (B. CROCE, Logica come scienza del concetto puro, Bari 1917, pp. 87-88).

Quando Gramsci nel suo corsivo parla delle "correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure", si riferisce appunto alla filosofia del diritto di Benedetto Croce. Croce aveva infatti affermato l'assoluta separazione tra morale e diritto, e aveva sottoposto il diritto alle categorie dell'utile e della forza. Nella concezione di Croce, il diritto è forza, che viene applicata per il raggiungimento di uno scopo ritenuto (da chi agisce questa forza) utile; il diritto è inoltre amorale, in quanto prescinde dal giusto e dall'ingiusto.

E' interessante notare che qui Gramsci si serve della teoria del diritto di Croce per porre un'istanza di garantismo giuridico. Infatti, ciò che Gramsci rimprovera al giudice Pili, estensore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino, è di aver confuso il diritto con la morale. Il giudice avrebbe dovuto limitarsi a vagliare le prove, accertare se fosse stato commesso un reato, e, in caso affermativo, determinarne la pena secondo le norme del codice. Invece, questa sentenza (scrive Gramsci) pretende di condannare gli imputati non sulla base della legge, bensì sulla scorta di considerazioni di ordine moralistico, la cui infondatezza giuridica è mascherata dal ricorso all'enfasi e alla retorica.

La linea del ragionamento gramsciano è abbastanza riconoscibile, nonostante i buchi lasciati dalla censura, e nonostante un probabile refuso tipografico [3]. Comunque, in un poscritto all'articolo del giorno successivo (Le vie della divina provvidenza, 21 ottobre 1918), Gramsci scrive:

P.S. Nell'articolo pubblicato ieri sul giudice Emanuele Pili la censura ha lasciato solo la parte «floreale» che può far supporre aver noi scritto un puro pamphlet per insolentire un magistrato. La censura ha imbiancato le giustificazioni delle insolenze: la giustificazione filosofica trovata nella Logica del senatore Benedetto Croce; la giustificazione storica trovata in una notizia pubblicata dal «Journal des Débats» l'8 novembre 1817 (milleottocentodiciassette!), la giustificazione costituzionale trovata nello Statuto albertino. Un'insolenza giustificata da «pezze» di tal genere crediamo non sia piú insolenza, ma espressione plastica della imparziale giustizia. La censura pertanto ci ha solo diffamati, senza che le leggi ci diano il modo di dar querela.

La "giustificazione filosofica" delle critiche che Gramsci rivolge al magistrato corrisponde, lo abbiamo visto, ad una citazione da Croce. Rimane la curiosità di sapere quali potessero essere le altre due "giustificazioni"  imbiancate dalla censura.

La "giustificazione costituzionale", che corrisponde alla lacuna di cinque righe, si trova, dice Gramsci, nello Statuto albertino; e potrebbe forse trattarsi di uno degli articoli che, in quel testo costituzionale, tutelavano i diritti civili: per esempio l'art. 26, secondo comma, "niuno può essere arrestato e tradotto in giudizio, se non nei casi previsti dalla legge, e nelle forme che essa prescrive".

Naturalmente, non è da pensare che Gramsci si facesse particolari illusioni circa l'effettività delle garanzie prescritte dallo Statuto. Sappiamo, invece, che Gramsci sempre ritenne la borghesia italiana incapace di creare un vero Stato di diritto che tutelasse le libertà individuali [4]. Un articolo di Gramsci di qualche anno successivo a quello che stiamo ora esaminando (Lo Stato italiano, in "L'Ordine Nuovo", 7 febbraio 1920) contiene una puntuale critica, da questo punto di vista, allo Statuto albertino:

Lo Stato italiano [...] non ha mai neppure tentato di mascherare la dittatura spietata della classe proprietaria. Si può dire che lo Statuto albertino sia servito a un solo fine preciso: a legare fortemente le sorti della Corona alle sorti della proprietà privata. I soli freni infatti che funzionano nella macchina statale per limitare gli arbitrî del governo dei ministri del re sono quelli che interessano la proprietà privata del capitale. La Costituzione non ha creato nessun istituto che presidî almeno formalmente le grandi libertà dei cittadini: la libertà individuale, la libertà di parola e di stampa, la libertà di associazione e di riunione. Negli Stati capitalistici, che si chiamano liberali democratici, l'istituto massimo di presidio delle libertà popolari è il potere giudiziario: nello Stato italiano la giustizia non è un potere, è un ordine, è uno strumento della Corona e della classe proprietaria. 

Gramsci sottintendeva questo tipo di considerazioni anche all'articolo qui in commento, laddove scriveva che lo Stato italiano "almeno giuridicamente" (cioè solo formalmente) era costituzionale, ed era "parlamentare per tradizione", nel senso che lo Statuto albertino non istituiva una vera e propria democrazia parlamentare, bensì l'ordinamento parlamentare dello Stato derivava da una semplice consuetudine che poteva essere in ogni momento abrogata: così come aveva proposto di fare Sidney Sonnino nel suo articolo del 1897, appropriatamente richiamato da Gramsci, Torniamo allo Statuto!,  e come poi farà il fascismo.

Tuttavia, il fatto che la monarchia sabauda fosse uno Stato di diritto carente e imperfetto non avrebbe dovuto esimere il magistrato dall'applicare comunque quelle garanzie (pur se insufficienti) che la legge disponeva a favore degli imputati: "come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare" al giudice Pili, osserva giustamente Gramsci.

La "giustificazione storica", che corrisponde alla lacuna di venticinque righe, è data (scrive Gramsci) da una notizia pubblicata sul numero dell'8 novembre 1817 del "Journal des Débats". Internet consente oggi di consultare facilmente quel numero di giornale per cercare quale potesse essere la notizia che costituiva la "giustificazione storica" invocata da Gramsci.

Una delle notizie ivi contenute, che possono essere state utilizzate da Gramsci ai fini del suo commento, è una corrispondenza dalla Gran Bretagna datata 3 novembre, che riporto qui di seguito in una mia traduzione (il testo originale è in nota):

Quattro individui di nome Booth, Brown, Jackson e King, prima delle ultime assisi di Derby, erano stati condannati a morte per crimine di ribellione. Condotti sul patibolo, al momento stesso della morte hanno avuto l'audacia empia di arringare la folla, affinché li venisse a liberare. Questa folla era composta da loro vecchi amici che li avevano frequentemente visitati in carcere; ma il luogo dell'esecuzione era sorvegliato da folti distaccamenti di cavalleria e di fanteria, e la legge ha avuto esecuzione [5].

Inizialmente ho pensato che questa notizia potesse aver attratto l'attenzione di Gramsci (per analogia con i fatti di Torino) perché riferita a un episodio di ribellione delle classi subalterne conclusosi con una condanna penale. Episodio che forse è leggibile nel quadro della fase di irrequietezza sociale che fu caratterizzata, in Gran Bretagna, dalle proteste contro la legge sul grano del 1815, fase che sfociò nel massacro di Peterloo.

Tuttavia, non ho trovato alcun elemento che potesse suffragare questa ipotesi. Non è chiaro neanche se i quattro uomini giustiziati a Derby nel 1817 siano stati effettivamente condannati a morte per reati politici, o non piuttosto per reati comuni; in un elenco dei giustiziati nel carcere di Derby, compilato da Celia Renshaw, una storica locale, questi Booth, Brown, Jackson e King risultano essere stati condannati per aver appiccato il fuoco a dei covoni di paglia [6]. Inoltre è noto che Gramsci non amava gli atteggiamenti tribunizi e teatrali, né apprezzava particolarmente i gesti individuali di ribellione: lo si evince dal suo stesso comportamento di imputato durante il "processone" del 1928 [7], nonché dal suo commento, contenuto nei Quaderni del carcere, ad un libro che raccoglieva i resoconti di una serie di processi contro anarchici libertari [8]. Perciò mi sembra improbabile che, nel suo corsivo del 1918 che stiamo ora commentando, Gramsci possa aver preso ad esempio il comportamento di quattro condannati a morte per reati contro il patrimonio che, dal patibolo, incitano la folla alla rivolta.

C'è però un'altra notiziola, sempre nella prima pagina  del "Journal des Débats" dell'8 novembre 1817, che potrebbe aver attirato l'attenzione di Gramsci. Si tratta di una corrispondenza da Losanna datata primo novembre:

Il Cantone Esterno di Appenzell ha da poco emesso una singolare sentenza contro un ragazzino accusato di alcuni piccoli furti. Lo hanno condannato a 50 fl. di ammenda e a trenta colpi di verga. Gli sarà inoltre assegnato un posto particolare in chiesa per un periodo di due anni: dovrà trovarsi colà per due volte ogni domenica, e sarà punito severamente in caso d'inosservanza [9].

In questa notizia di cronaca (un ragazzino condannato con sentenza penale ad andare a messa due volte la settimana) troviamo un esempio estremo e grottesco di quella perniciosa, pre-moderna confusione tra diritto e morale, che Gramsci stigmatizza nella sua polemica col giudice relatore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino. Perciò ritengo che sia stata questa la pezza giustificativa di quella parte dell'argomentazione gramsciana, che la censura ha cancellato lasciando nell'articolo un buco di venticinque righe.


[1] Sempre secondo l'apparato critico dell'edizione citata, la sentenza fu emessa dal Tribunale militare di Torino il 2 agosto 1918; il testo della sentenza è reperibile in "Rivista storica del socialismo", n. 2, 1960.

[2] A. Gramsci, Sotto la Mole, ed. cit., pp. 447-48. L'articolo è stato poi raccolto nella più recente edizione degli scritti gramsciani precarcerari: A. Gramsci, Il nostro Marx 1918-1919, a cura di Sergio Caprioglio, Einaudi, Torino 1984, pp. 360-2. In Internet si trova qui: http://www.liberliber.it/mediateca/libri/g/gramsci/sotto_la_mole/pdf/sotto__p.pdf, p. 269.

[3] "Passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice" è frase di cui si capisce il senso, ma che sembra guasta anche grammaticalmente. Penso che Gramsci abbia invece scritto "fissare l'esatta commisurazione della sua entità ad una pena contemplata nel codice".

[4] Cfr. Leonardo Rapone, Cinque anni che paiono secoli. Antonio Gramsci dal socialismo al comunismo (1914-1919), Carocci, Roma 2011, pp. 162-6.

[5] Quatre individus nommés Booth, Brown, Jackson et King, antérieurement aux dernières assises de Derby, avoient été condamnés à mort pour crime de rebellion. Amenés sur l'échafaud, ils ont eu, même au moment de la mort, l'audace impie de haranguer la multitude, et de l'engager à venir les délivrer. Cette multitude étoit composée de leurs anciens amis qui les avoient fréquemment visités dans leur prison; mais le lieu de l'exécution étoit gardé par de forts détachements de cavalerie et d'infanterie, et la loi reçut son exécution.

[6] Fonte: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/DERBYSGEN/2009-08/1250276359

[7] Cfr. Giuseppe Fiori (a cura di), Antonio Gramsci: cronaca di un verdetto annunciato, I Libri de "l'Unità", supplemento al numero del 4 aprile, Roma 1994. 

[8] Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, edizione critica a cura di Valentino Gerratana, Einaudi, Torino 1975, pp. 6-7 e 1896-7.

[9] Les Rhodes extérieurs d'Appenzell viennent de rendre une singulière sentence contre un enfant accusé de quelques petits vols. Ils l'ont condamné à 50 fl. d'amende et à trente coups de bâtons. Il lui sera d'ailleurs assigné une place particulière à l'église pendant deux ans; il devra s'y trouver deux fois chaque dimanche sous des peines séveres.

          Su "My Favorite Things" di John Coltrane        
Il 16 novembre 1959 debuttava a Broadway The Sound of Music, di Richard Rodgers e Oscar Hammerstein, uno dei musical più popolari di tutti i tempi anche grazie alla versione cinematografica che ne fu tratta nel 1965 (regia di Robert Wise, protagonista Julie Andrews, la versione italiana porta il titolo Tutti insieme appassionatamente).

Una particolare canzone tratta da questo musical ha avuto fortuna immensa. Di My Favorite Things, infatti, si contano centinaia di cover; l'elenco preparato dai redattori di Radio Rai è lungo sedici pagine.

Qui mi occuperò della versione forse più celebre, quella incisa in studio da John Coltrane il 21 ottobre 1960. Per capire quest'ultima, però, è opportuno partire dalla versione originale di Richard Rodgers. In questo articolo mi avvarrò dell'analisi condotta dal massimo studioso di Coltrane, il musicologo Lewis Porter, nella sua fondamentale monografia (Blue Train. La vita e la musica di John Coltrane, traduzione di Adelaide Cioni, Minimum Fax, Roma 2006, pp. 277-80).

La canzone è musicalmente molto semplice. Si tratta di un valzer in mi minore di quattro strofe, A-A-A'-B. Le prime tre strofe hanno la stessa musica, salvo che nella terza strofa, A', dove ci sono otto battute in maggiore. La quarta strofa, B, usa una diversa melodia e finisce in sol maggiore.

Qui di seguito copio il testo della canzone, di Oscar Hammerstein, cui faccio seguire una traduzione, volutamente molto pedestre, che ho preparato grazie all'ausilio del traduttore automatico di Google:

(A) "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

(A) Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

(A') Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

(B) When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad!"

"Gocce di pioggia su rose e baffi di gattini
Bollitori di rame luminosi e caldi guanti di lana
Pacchetti di carta marrone legati con corde
Queste sono alcune delle mie cose preferite

Pony color crema e croccanti struedel di mele
Campanelli e campanelli da slitta e schnitzel con tagliatelle
Le oche selvatiche che volano con la luna sulle ali
Queste sono alcune delle mie cose preferite

Ragazze in abiti bianchi con sciarpe di raso blu
Fiocchi di neve che rimangono sul mio naso e sulle ciglia
Inverni bianchi d'argento che si sciolgono in primavere
Queste sono alcune delle mie cose preferite

Quando il cane morde
Quando l'ape punge
Quando mi sento triste
Non ho che da ricordarmi delle mie cose preferite
E allora non mi sento così male!"

The Sound of Music è ambientato a Salisburgo, fra le due guerre. Richard Rodgers ha naturalmente cercato di tener conto della tradizione musicale austriaca: My Favorite Things, come detto, è un valzer; negli altri brani si sentono riferimenti allo jodler, al laendler, al canto gregoriano, ecc. In un numero c'è anche un singolare omaggio ad Haydn: la canzone So long, farewell è eseguita da un coro di bambini che, uno alla volta, abbandonano il proscenio, finché a cantare rimane una sola bambina, così come, nel finale della Sinfonia degli addii, tutti gli esecutori smettono uno alla volta di suonare facendo concludere la sinfonia da un solo violinista.

Come ci si potrebbe aspettare, il testo di My Favorite Things fa uso di un immaginario prettamente alpino, o comunque nordeuropeo: bollitori per il té, guanti di lana, slitte che corrono sulla neve... Se di questa canzone volessimo realizzare un video-clip animato, seguendo pedissequamente il testo, dovremmo adoperare in prevalenza le tinte chiare, e in particolare il colore bianco, la cui presenza, in corrispondenza della terza strofa (quella con le otto battute in maggiore), diventa quasi ossessiva: abiti bianchi, fiocchi di neve, inverni bianchi... (Nella versione cinematografica quest'aspetto "eurocentrico" della canzone è ancora più sottolineato dal forte accento british di Julie Andrews).

Molti si sono chiesti cosa potesse avere indotto un artista come John Coltrane, che da lì a poco sarebbe diventato un'icona della cultura afro-americana, a musicare una sua versione di questo brano, il quale inizialmente c'entrava così poco con il jazz.

Secondo Lewis Porter, è un errore "dare per scontato che Coltrane trovasse la canzone sciocca e che per questo volesse abbellirla". Al contrario, Coltrane ammirava sinceramente questa canzone e, nella sua versione, la trattò "con rispetto". Il "messaggio" della canzone, "che le cose buone ci aiutano a superare le cattive", è secondo Porter "del tutto sensato e prezioso - per nulla sciocco - è solo che utilizza esempi alla portata di un bambino, perché nel copione la canzone si rivolge a dei bambini".

Qui però l'ottimo Porter ha preso una cantonata. Nel film, è vero, Julie Andrews canta la canzone a dei bambini. Il film, però, è del 1965, quindi è posteriore all'incisione di John Coltrane, che a quell'epoca poteva conoscere solo la versione teatrale di questo musical; e, nella versione teatrale, la protagonista canta My Favorite Things in una delle scene iniziali, che si svolgono in un convento di suore, e non la canta ai bambini, bensì alla Madre Badessa del convento.

Sembra, in realtà, che Coltrane non fosse attratto tanto dal "messaggio" della canzone, quanto invece dalla sua manipolabilità sul piano strettamente musicale. Ecco come si espresse Coltrane in un'intervista: "Questo valzer è fantastico: se lo suoni lento, senti un elemento di gospel che non è per niente sgradevole; se lo suoni veloce, possiede altre innegabili qualità. E' molto interessante scoprire un terreno che si rinnova a seconda dell'impulso che gli dai".

Quindi, si direbbe che il valzer di Rodgers fosse per Coltrane quello che il valzer di Diabelli era stato per il Beethoven dell'op. 120: poco più che un pretesto, un canovaccio utile per imbastire una serie potenzialmente infinita di variazioni che poco o nulla hanno a che fare con il tema originale. E, in verità, Coltrane eseguì in concerto My Favorite Things moltissime volte (secondo Wikipedia, sono state documentate su nastro non meno di 45 esecuzioni), creandone versioni sempre più lontane dalla canzone originale, fino a renderla irriconoscibile.

La versione sull'album si compone di un'introduzione di quattro battute, suonata due volte; viene poi esposto un vamp (breve inciso ritmico, costantemente ripetuto, che è per il jazz quello che nel rock si chiama riff e nella musica barocca si chiama ostinato), cui fanno seguito un primo assolo di Coltrane, un altro assolo di McCoy Tyner al pianoforte, e un assolo finale ancora di Coltrane, per complessivi 14 minuti circa. Nel primo assolo Coltrane esegue le prime due strofe (A) in minore, poi c'è un interludio in maggiore, poi altre due strofe (A) in minore. Gli altri due assoli seguono lo stesso schema, salvo che per la parte finale dell'assolo conclusivo di Coltrane, di cui dirò fra poco.

La prima cosa che si nota all'ascolto è che Coltrane ha spostato molto lontano dall'Europa il baricentro etnico del brano. La ripetizione ossessiva, ipnotica, di un inciso ritmico in tempo dispari; la voce acuta dello strumento a fiato (un sax soprano, fino ad allora poco usato nel jazz); il clima di fissità tonale e il senso del tempo molto dilatato, sono tutti elementi che richiamano la musica orientale. (A me il brano fa venire in mente una danza sufi). Porter nota che Coltrane era appassionato di musica indiana, era un ammiratore di Ravi Shankar, ed era profondamente interessato alla musica folk e modale di tutto il mondo, nonché alle scale pentatoniche (pare che certe volte, nelle sue esercitazioni, eseguisse col sassofono determinate sequenze del Concerto per orchestra di Béla Bartók). Sempre secondo Porter, in My Favorite Things si possono anche scorgere influenze musicali provenienti dall'Africa occidentale.

La cosa per me più sorprendente è che, nella musica originale di questa canzone, Coltrane abbia sentito un "elemento gospel". Per quanto ascolto e riascolto la canzone di Rodgers e Hammerstein, devo confessare che questo elemento gospel non riesco assolutamente a percepirlo. Ma è significativo che, per Coltrane, la canzone avesse qualcosa a che fare con le radici stesse della musica nera americana. Questo forse ci aiuta a far luce su un'altra singolarità della versione di Coltrane.

Abbiamo detto che la versione coltraniana di My Favorite Things è basata sulla strofa A della musica originale. Che fine ha fatto la strofa B, quella il cui testo contiene, secondo Porter, il "messaggio" della canzone e che si conclude in modo maggiore?

Alla fine del suo assolo conclusivo, Coltrane esegue anche la strofa B, senza apportare particolari variazioni alla musica. Però la esegue in mi minore, dandole, secondo Porter, "un effetto più pensoso, riflessivo".

Il testo originale della strofa B fa riferimento ad api che pungono e a cani che mordono, per delineare scherzosamente una situazione da "giornata storta", in cui le cose, chissà perché, non vanno per il verso giusto. Ma questa situazione si supera (dice la canzone) richiamando alla mente le piccole cose belle della vita. Se si fa in questo modo, l'atteggiamento cambia e ci si accorge che non si sta poi così male. La canzone si chiude così, trionfalmente, in sol maggiore.

Qui, però, è meglio fare ricorso alla bella traduzione ritmica di Antonio Amurri (quella utilizzata nella versione italiana del film), che ha colto al meglio il senso di questa strofa:

"Se son triste, infelice, e non so il perché,
io penso alle cose che amo di più
e torna il seren per me!"

Immaginiamo ora di sentire queste parole sovrapposte al mi minore del sax di John Coltrane, nelle battute finali del suo secondo assolo (a partire dal minuto 12'33''). L'effetto è di un'ironia indefinibile, profonda, pungente, tristemente consapevole. Uno speciale tipo di sarcasmo, composto e controllatissimo, ma inequivocabile.

Per me (e sottolineo: per me) in questo minuto e dodici secondi di musica c'è l'essenza stessa del jazz. Ogni volta che l'ascolto, mi commuovo.

Provo a spiegarmi meglio.

Il cantante e chitarrista Huddie W. Leadbetter (1885-1949), uno fra i musicisti più influenti della musica nera americana del secolo ventesimo, tentò una volta di definire a parole quel particolare complesso psicologico che porta il nome di blues. Possiamo leggere le sue parole come una specie di negativo fotografico della canzone di Rodgers e Hammerstein:

"Quando la notte sei sdraiato nel letto, e ti giri da una parte e dall'altra senza riuscire a prendere sonno, non c'è niente da fare. I blues si sono impadroniti di te... Quando ti svegli al mattino, ti siedi sulla sponda del letto, e puoi avere vicino a te padre e madre, sorella e fratello, il tuo ragazzo o la tua ragazza, ma non hai voglia di parlargli... Non ti hanno fatto niente, e tu non hai fatto niente a loro, ma che cosa importa? I blues si sono impadroniti di te".

Così commenta Arrigo Polillo nel suo classico Jazz. La vicenda e i protagonisti della musica afro-americana (Mondadori, Milano 2009, p. 43): "Avere i blues è qualcosa di diverso dall'essere triste dell'uomo bianco. E' essere afflitti da un tedio esistenziale, da una malinconia greve che non lascia spazio alle fantasticherie, vuol dire autocommiserazione, rassegnazione, vuol dire disperazione sorda, grigiore, miseria. E' una poesia fondata sulle cose di tutti i giorni, su personaggi familiari, visti in una luce realistica, con occhio disincantato. Non c'è, né ci vuol essere, nel blues, trasfigurazione lirica, che è un lusso da bianchi; non c'è dramma, perché il dramma è fatto di ombre ma anche di luci. C'è invece la consapevolezza di una tragedia in atto, che non finirà mai. Il blues singer non canta la vita, ma il non morire, parla sempre di ciò che non ha e che non avrà mai".

Ecco il senso del mi minore con cui si conclude My Favorite Things di John Coltrane. Non c'è consolazione, e non c'è neanche protesta. E' la constatazione oggettiva di una situazione fondamentalmente tragica. Il "messaggio" della canzone di Rodgers e Hammerstein è sovvertito. Vista in questa luce, non solo la canzone, ma la stessa cultura (musicale e non solo) cui essa fa riferimento, viene radicalmente messa in questione.
          Baricco e il postmodernismo da quattro soldi        
Sul "Primo Amore" Antonio Moresco ha pubblicato una bella lettera aperta ad Alessandro Baricco, in risposta a un'intervista concessa da quest'ultimo al "Venerdì di Repubblica".

Baricco, parlando del suo ultimo romanzo, non si limita ad esporre la sua personale poetica di scrittore, ma pretende di far assurgere quest'ultima al livello di teoria generale della letteratura valida per tutti. Moresco rimprovera giustamente a Baricco l'arroganza di tale pretesa.

Baricco non è nuovo a questo genere di smargiassate, così le chiamava il mio professore di filosofia del liceo (si riferiva alle teorie pseudo-storiciste di Francis Fukuyama, ma la definizione è adatta anche a quelle di Baricco). Nel 1992 lo stesso Baricco pubblicò per l'editore Garzanti un testo teorico sulla musica moderna (oggi reperibile in edizione Feltrinelli) dove, con piglio zdanoviano, condannava tutta la musica "atonale" in quanto non adeguata ai gusti della "gente". Nel 2003, qui, pubblicai una recensione di questo libro. La ripropongo ora qui in calce, con minime variazioni. Non mi piace molto com'è scritta, però contiene un'idea che, dopo aver letto il fondamentale libro del collettivo Wu Ming sul New Italian Epic, mi è diventata più chiara: l'idea, cioè, che il "postmodernismo da quattro soldi" sia una delle forme più pervasive e insidiose in cui si presenta oggi l'ideologia dominante. Ecco la recensione.

Alessandro Baricco, L'anima di Hegel e le mucche del Wisconsin. Una riflessione su musica colta e modernità, Garzanti, Milano 1992, pp. 101.

Avvertenza per gli estimatori di Alessandro Baricco: la presente è una stroncatura.

1. Riassunto dei contenuti del libro

Nel primo capitolo, intitolato L'idea di musica colta, Baricco individua l'origine del concetto di musica colta nell'idealismo romantico dell'Ottocento, la cui figura principale, Beethoven, stabilisce il paradigma a cui tutti i successivi compositori, nonché gli interpreti e il pubblico, si attengono: "una musica impegnata, spirituale e difficile" (p. 19). Tale concetto è oggi, secondo Baricco, sopravvissuto a se stesso, dato che ne sono venuti meno i presupposti storici, ideologici e sociali ("qualcuno sa cosa significa spirito?", p. 20). Ma gli esecutori e i fruitori della musica colta si ostinano a riproporre questa concezione ormai superata, e a riproporre i capolavori del passato in forma mummificata e inerte, secondo un malinteso concetto di fedeltà al testo, fondamentalmente perché - sempre secondo Baricco - hanno "paura" della modernità.

Nel secondo capitolo, come alternativa alla prassi corrente, Baricco propone la "sua" idea di interpretazione. La musica "colta" del periodo classico si proponeva di organizzare il caos entro un preciso ordine formale; compito dell'interprete di oggi è, secondo Baricco, di far esplodere tale ordine per far sì che le "schegge" del materiale musicale si possano ricomporre secondo nuove geometrie provvisorie, momentanee, ogni volta diverse, secondo costellazioni di senso sempre rinnovate, piacevoli e sorprendenti.

Il terzo capitolo è dedicato alla musica atonale del Novecento. Baricco parte da un'audace constatazione: ma questa musica, dopo più di settant'anni, ancora non ha un suo pubblico! Gli ascoltatori, per quanto si sforzino, non la apprezzano e non la capiscono! Hanno torto loro? No, naturalmente: hanno invece avuto torto Schoenberg e i suoi successori (tutti quelli che hanno composto musica atonale, vale a dire i tre quarti dei compositori del Novecento da Berg a Webern fino alla scuola di Darmstadt e oltre).

Baricco spiega il perché: esistono "invalicabili limiti fisiologici" (p. 55) che impediscono all'orecchio umano di apprezzare la musica atonale. Infatti ogni brano musicale, continua Baricco, altro non è che un "meccanismo di piacere" (ibid.) basato su un gioco di previsione da parte dell'ascoltatore/risposta da parte della musica: se si cancella la logica tonale, sparisce l'orizzonte della previsione e si elimina il "piacere dell'ascolto" (p. 56).

La musica seriale è ormai superata, e anche qui Baricco non manca di dare la sua spiegazione sociologico-storica: l'atonalità di Schoenberg e seguaci nasce come espressionistico grido di orrore di fronte alla tragica realtà dei massacri e dei totalitarismi del Novecento. Ma nel secondo dopoguerra, "una volta sfumata quella follia" (p. 63) e venuti meno i conflitti ideologici e sociali che caratterizzarono la prima metà del secolo, anche tale giustificazione per l'atonalismo viene a mancare. Perciò non ci sono più motivi validi per i quali i compositori debbano ostinarsi a frustrare "le legittime aspettative del pubblico" (p. 65) continuando a proporre musica così inascoltabile, e perpetuando "lo strappo profondo e grottesco tra quella musica e la gente" (p. 66).

Occorre dunque richiamare i compositori "ai doveri della modernità" (p. 67), "ricreare una sintonia col sentire collettivo. Con una certezza: la modernità è innanzitutto uno spettacolo" (p. 73) e la gente vuole innanzitutto divertirsi, anche nelle sale da concerto: i musicisti devono dunque accettare "l'allegra realtà di un'umanità inconsapevolmente e sanamente drogata" (p. 70), di una modernità dove "la spettacolarità del reale e quella delle forme di rappresentazione si inseguono in un'escalation per la quale anche l'orribile diventa meraviglia" (ibid.).

Nell'ultimo capitolo del suo libro, Baricco propone ai compositori contemporanei due modelli da seguire: Puccini e Mahler. Secondo Baricco, questi due autori avrebbero accettato la concezione moderna di spettacolarità, senza temere di adottare un linguaggio musicale primitivo, né d'infarcire le loro opere di elementi volgari o di cattivo gusto, pur d'intercettare il bisogno di spettacolo dell'ascoltatore odierno, precorrendo così l'estetica del cinema.

2. Critica

Sui primi due capitoli non c'è molto da dire: si tratta di luoghi comuni che Baricco espone come se si trattasse di trovate sue; interpreti come Pierre Boulez (nella sua attività di direttore d'orchestra) e Maurizio Pollini adottano da sempre prassi esecutive antiformalistiche senza bisogno di attendere lezioncine da parte di Alessandro Baricco: di propriamente suo c'è solo un certo superficiale edonismo.

Circa i restanti capitoli del libro, premesso che reputo agghiacciante ognuna delle frasi o espressioni di Baricco che sopra ho citato tra virgolette (reazione molto soggettiva, lo ammetto), la prima osservazione critica da fare su questo testo è che Baricco propone un'estetica normativa, vale a dire un'estetica che pretende di prescrivere agli artisti come devono lavorare (non dovete più scrivere musica atonale, dovete farvi capire dalla "gente", ecc).

Ora, ogni estetica normativa è un'aberrazione, indipendentemente dal suo contenuto. Se poi si vuole valutare quest'ultimo, bisognerà osservare che Baricco si accosta ad Andrej Zdanov, il "teorico" sovietico del realismo socialista: anche lui pretendeva dai compositori una musica dal linguaggio semplice, tradizionale, accessibile alle grandi masse popolari. Zdanov avanzava tale pretesa in nome del superiore interesse del socialismo, Baricco in nome della "modernità" e della fine delle ideologie, ma il risultato non cambia. Baricco, nella sua irritante e dilettantesca superficialità, non sembra neanche rendersi conto del totalitarismo implicito nella pretesa che gli artisti debbano conformare la loro produzione ai gusti della "gente".

D'altra parte neppure si capisce bene quale pubblico Baricco abbia in mente: il pubblico che frequenta le sale da concerto è così esiguo che non vale neanche la pena che i musicisti si affannino per compiacerlo: e peggio per tale pubblico se non riesce ad apprezzare Anton Webern. Viceversa, il pubblico che non ha mai messo piede in un auditorium e non ascolta Schoenberg e Stockhausen, nella sua stragrande maggioranza non ascolta neppure Mahler e Puccini, ed evidentemente non per motivi ascrivibili al solo linguaggio musicale.

In ogni caso, dal fatto che la lettura di questo libro non mi ha impedito neppure per un minuto di continuare ad ascoltare il mio CD con i pezzi per pianoforte di Schoenberg, deduco che quella degli "invalicabili limiti fisiologici" è una colossale sciocchezza, con cui Baricco cerca malamente di giustificare la propria opposizione ideologica alla musica d'avanguardia.

La sua valenza ideologica è in realtà l'unico aspetto un poco interessante di questo libro. Esso, con la sua esaltazione del disimpegno, delle gioie del consumismo e della "gente" che vuole divertirsi, appare come un esempio tipico di quella versione euforico-ebetudinaria del postmoderno che ha furoreggiato nel nostro paese durante tutti gli anni '80: un'epoca nella quale a molti intellettuali non è parso vero di poter finalmente riproporre (nell'aggiornatissimo linguaggio filosofico post-strutturalista) l'antico, tradizionale qualunquismo italiano. Appare tristemente ironico che alcuni di quegli intellettuali si scaglino oggi dalle pagine dell' "Unità" o di "Repubblica" contro le impreviste (ma prevedibili) conseguenze politiche della loro stessa filosofia.

P.S. Ad un certo punto del suo testo, Baricco inserisce alcune oscure insinuazioni a proposito di presunte "coperture politiche" di cui gli artisti dell'avanguardia musicale avrebbero goduto nel nostro paese. Sorge allora la tentazione di leggere questo libro, il cui valore teorico-critico è nullo, in chiave direttamente pratica: forse Baricco si è proposto di approntare un "manifesto" per i musicisti della cosiddetta scuola neo-romantica?

Mi sono allora comprato un disco antologico di un esponente di questa corrente musicale, che ebbe anch'essa un effimero momento di notorietà nel corso degli anni '80: Marco Tutino, Operas, CD Aura Music AUR421-2, 2000, Euro 4,25. Si tratta di composizioni carine, indubbiamente orecchiabili, il cui linguaggio musicale si colloca fra le colonne sonore di Bernard Herrmann e i balletti di Aaron Copland, il tutto realizzato senza troppa fantasia e con circa trent'anni di ritardo.

Bene, ho fatto un piccolo esperimento. Un brano di questo CD di Marco Tutino l'ho fatto ascoltare ad un mio coinquilino che ascolta solo reggae ed hip-hop (e che, così facendo, qualche volta supera gli invalicabili limiti fisiologici delle mie capacità d'ascolto), e poi gli ho fatto sentire qualche minuto di Contrappunto dialettico alla mente di Luigi Nono (1968). Nessuno dei due brani gli è piaciuto, ma ha trovato di gran lunga più interessante quello di Nono.
          Mozart schedato da Buscaroli        
Va subito detto che il titolo del libro di Piero Buscaroli, La morte di Mozart (Rizzoli, Milano 1996, pp. 373) è fuorviante. L'oggetto della trattazione di Buscaroli non è, infatti, "la morte di Mozart", bensì gli ultimi dieci anni di vita del grande compositore. L'intento dichiarato di Buscaroli è quello di demolire tutta una serie di leggende, falsità e luoghi comuni che, secondo lui, si sarebbero accumulati intorno alla figura di Mozart ad opera dei suoi biografi otto e novecenteschi: il Mozart di Buscaroli sarebbe infine quello genuino ed autentico, finalmente restituitoci dopo due secoli di menzogne.

Mi sembra che il punto di vista di Buscaroli sia politicamente determinato e che questa componente politica sia un elemento essenziale del suo metodo. Infatti, Buscaroli è un nostalgico dell'ancien régime, né più né meno. Tutto ciò che deriva dall'Illuminismo e dalla Rivoluzione francese, per Buscaroli, è pura e semplice aberrazione. Buscaroli non accetta nulla della modernità; del feudalesimo, invece, rimpiange ogni aspetto (per esempio anche l'elevata mortalità infantile, p. 261). Questo suo punto di vista radicalmente antimoderno dovrebbe, nelle intenzioni di Buscaroli, garantirgli una completa indipendenza dalle ideologie correnti nella nostra epoca e consentirgli così di vederci più chiaro di ogni altro biografo mozartiano prima di lui.

In altre parole, il libro di Buscaroli non si basa affatto su una ricerca archivistica che abbia prodotto fonti inedite e di prima mano. Si basa, invece, sulla reinterpretazione delle fonti già note, le quali, sotto l'occhio limpido e scevro di pregiudizi di Piero Buscaroli, rivelerebbero alfine quella verità che nessuno, prima di lui, aveva veduto.

Le fonti principali di Buscaroli sono infatti: l'epistolario mozartiano; la raccolta di documenti a cura di Erich Deutsch Mozart. Die Dokumente seines Lebens, Kassel 1961; e le prime biografie mozartiane di Schlichtegroll (1793), Niemetschek (1798), Nissen (1828) e Jahn (1856-59). Sono tutti materiali ben conosciuti e ampiamente utilizzati dalla critica mozartiana. Buscaroli esprime invece il massimo disprezzo per il W. A. Mozart di Hermann Abert (1921), opera considerata fondamentale da tutti ma non da Buscaroli il quale, naturalmente, è anche in costante e aspra polemica con quasi tutta la critica mozartiana novecentesca.

Vediamo allora, più nel dettaglio, qual è il bersaglio polemico della ricostruzione buscaroliana.

Mozart, che all'età di venticinque anni lasciò il servizio dell'Arcivescovo di Salisburgo per trasferirsi a Vienna, dove cercò di mantenersi con i proventi della sua attività di pianista e compositore, è oggi celebrato come il primo grande musicista dell'epoca borghese, colui il quale, per primo, tentò di conquistarsi lo status di libero artista, riscattando così la figura del musicista dal suo ruolo di dipendente delle corti. Nelle parole del sociologo Norbert Elias (1991): "Da outsider borghese al servizio della corte, Mozart combatté fino in fondo, con incredibile coraggio, una battaglia di affrancamento dai suoi padroni e committenti aristocratici. Lo fece di propria iniziativa, per amore della propria dignità di uomo e del proprio lavoro di musicista. E perse la battaglia [...]". Secondo Elias, Mozart perse la battaglia (e la vita) in quanto i tempi non erano ancora maturi per lui: la lotta di Mozart si svolse in una nazione, l'Austria del settecento, che si trovava "in una fase dello sviluppo sociale nella quale i rapporti di potere tradizionali erano praticamente ancora intatti".

Per l'ultrareazionario Buscaroli, questa moderna visione di Mozart come artista rivoluzionario è fumo negli occhi. Con grande insistenza, Buscaroli ci propone invece un Mozart meschino, pavido e conformista, caratterizzato dalla "evidente mancanza di superiori doti intellettuali e morali" (p. 342). "Mai anelò al riscatto sociale e politico della figura dell'artista, cercava un reddito fisso, ma alto" (p. 32). "Il libero mercato dell'arte gli si spalanca, e lui continua a sperare in un impiego a corte, meglio a Vienna, dove potrebbe, tutt'al più, raddoppiare lo stipendio di ora. Uomo libero è solo a parole [...]. I suoi sogni sono quelli di un impiegato" (pp. 183-4).

Tutto il libro di Buscaroli pullula di simili osservazioni, che in verità sono reiterate tanto spesso, quanto poco sono seriamente argomentate. E non potrebbe essere diversamente, dato che, come ho detto sopra, le fonti di Buscaroli sono le stesse dei critici mozartiani che lui tanto disprezza. Se, per loro, queste fonti disegnano una determinata figura e per Buscaroli la figura esattamente opposta, ciò dipenderebbe solo dal fatto che Buscaroli è intelligente e onesto, mentre gli altri autori sono stupidi e/o in malafede.

Un esempio del metodo argomentativo di Buscaroli lo si trova nella trattazione delle dimissioni di Mozart dalla corte arcivescovile di Salisburgo nel giugno 1781. In quella circostanza, com'è noto, il segretario dell'Arcivescovo, un tale conte Arco, per tutta risposta all'insistenza con cui Mozart continuava a chiedergli di accettare la sua richiesta di dimissioni, assestò al musicista un calcio nel sedere. Questo episodio, che ha suscitato l'indignazione unanime di tutta la posterità, viene raccontato da Buscaroli con le tecniche adottate dagli avvocati difensori di chi viene processato per stupro:
A) minimizzare. "Credette di dover ridurre alla ragione il musicista ribelle con la zotica seppur benintenzionata famigliarità elargita a sguatteri e inservienti".
B) Insinuare dubbi sulla veridicità del fatto. "E se fosse tutta invenzione [...]?"
C) Sostenere che la vittima, in fondo, se l'è cercata. "E il giovane genio dal corpo minuto [...] fece tutto quanto poteva per trarlo fuori dai gangheri" (tutte le citazioni sono dalla p. 53).
Il tutto al palese scopo di tessere l'apologia di un sistema sociale, nel quale era possibile che un Mozart venisse preso a calci dallo scagnozzo di un feudatario.

A ciò aggiungiamo il fatto che, della musica di Mozart, Buscaroli parla poco o nulla: al Don Giovanni sono dedicate in tutto 3 (tre) pagine, nelle quali Buscaroli si limita a dirci che Da Ponte copiò il libretto da Giovanni Bertati; e sai che novità! Questo ci dà la misura di quanto la lettura di questo libro possa risultare tediosa e irritante.

Questo, almeno, per le prime duecentosessanta pagine. E' solo quando Buscaroli inizia a parlare degli ultimi mesi di vita di Mozart, che il suo discorso comincia a farsi un minimo interessante. A proposito della genesi del Requiem, Buscaroli propone una tesi che, pur non essendo necessariamente giusta, non è né futile né banale. Secondo Buscaroli (il quale, per una volta, avverte onestamente il lettore di non aver prove di quanto afferma: p. 324), l'incompiutezza del Requiem non sarebbe dovuta alla morte improvvisa del compositore, bensì ad una sua scelta deliberata. Infatti, Mozart fu incaricato della composizione da un nobile musicista dilettante, il conte Walsegg-Stuppach, il quale intendeva appropriarsi della stessa paternità dell'opera: il conte voleva cioè far eseguire il Requiem (dalla propria orchestra di corte) figurandone lui come autore.

Secondo Buscaroli, quando Mozart si rese conto dei termini di questo incarico (che inizialmente aveva accettato per necessità di denaro), maturò un invincibile disgusto per il lavoro che gli era stato commissionato: la sua coscienza artistica e professionale si ribellò all'idea di dover comporre un'opera che non avrebbe mai potuto rivendicare come sua. Sarebbe questo, secondo Buscaroli, il vero motivo per cui il Requiem rimase incompiuto.

Una prova a sostegno della sua ricostruzione sarebbe costituita, secondo Buscaroli (il quale considera il Requiem di Mozart un'opera minore e mal riuscita), dalla stessa scarsa qualità musicale della composizione. Mozart, cioè, sapeva di dover scrivere un'opera che sarebbe andata sotto il nome di un musicista dilettante: perciò la scrisse in modo volutamente sciatto, adoperando ad esempio un "contrappunto opaco, scontato, da manuale" (p. 325), e alla fine si rifiutò senz'altro di completarla, meditandone probabilmente la distruzione.

Buscaroli, però, sembra non rendersi conto che quanto lui scrive in queste pagine finali, a proposito del Mozart autore del Requiem, contraddice in modo stridente quanto egli stesso ha sostenuto nel corso di tutti i capitoli precedenti. Se Mozart, dal 1781 fino all'estate del 1791, era quel piccolo-borghese pusillanime e opportunista che Buscaroli si è sforzato di dipingere, come si spiega questo improvviso scatto di orgoglio e di dignità a pochi mesi dalla morte?

A me sembra, invece, che in queste pagine finali gli occhiali dell'ideologia siano in qualche modo caduti dal naso di Buscaroli, il quale, alla fine, non può a fare a meno di riconoscere a Mozart quelle qualità umane che fin qui gli aveva ostinatamente e faziosamente negato.

Per finire, ho seri dubbi sulla valutazione critica che Buscaroli riserva al Requiem. Non trascurerei il fatto che quest'opera sembra attualmente la più popolare fra quelle del suo autore. Ad esempio, se si digita Mozart nella casella di ricerca di "YouTube", il Requiem è la prima opzione che viene proposta. Senza dubbio, ciò si deve in gran parte al film Amadeus. Ma in parte, secondo me, lo si deve anche alla relativa semplicità di fruizione del Requiem che Buscaroli, a suo modo, evidenzia, pur senza comprenderne le ragioni. Non dimentichiamo che Mozart, poco prima di morire, fu testimone dell'enorme successo del suo Flauto Magico, un'opera scritta per un teatro della periferia di Vienna e destinata ad un pubblico popolare.

Forse Mozart, dopo aver volutamente sfidato il gusto dell'aristocrazia, e dopo l'amara esperienza del mancato sostegno da parte del pubblico borghese, negli ultimi mesi di vita iniziò a intravedere la possibilità di rivolgersi ad un pubblico interamente nuovo, posto al di fuori delle classi dominanti del presente e dell'immediato futuro. E cominciò a orientare la sua scrittura musicale all'obiettivo di conquistare ed educare, se necessario anche calibrando il livello di complessità compositiva, questo nuovo pubblico.

(Trovate la presente recensione anche su Evulon).
          Il terremoto di Messina del 1908        
Ripubblico qui di seguito una mia recensione (risalente a sei anni fa) al libro di Giorgio Boatti, La terra trema. Messina 28 dicembre 1908. I trenta secondi che cambiarono l'Italia, non gli italiani, Mondadori, Milano 2004, pp. 414, € 18,50.

"Ore 5.20 terremoto distrusse buona parte Messina - Giudico morti molte centinaia - case crollate sgombro macerie insufficienti mezzi locali - urgono soccorsi per sgombro vettovagliamento assistenza feriti - ogni aiuto sarà insufficiente".

E' il testo del telegramma con cui il governo italiano apprese del terremoto di Messina: inviato dal comandante di una nave militare da una stazione telegrafica calabrese alle 14.50 del 28 dicembre 1908, giunse al Ministero degli Interni alle 17.35 dello stesso giorno, cioè dodici ore dopo il disastro.
In questo telegramma la valutazione dei danni è naturalmente molto sottostimata: il terremoto, dell'undicesimo grado della scala Mercalli, distrusse quasi completamente le città di Messina e Reggio Calabria e causò, secondo le statistiche ufficiali, 77.283 morti (in altre valutazioni la cifra oscilla fra le 80.000 e le 140.000 vittime).

A volte, quando ci si sofferma a considerarla, la storia del nostro paese sembra un'ininterrotta sequela di disastri. Ogni generazione ha la sua catastrofe civile da ricordare e anzi spesso più d'una, a volte d'origine naturale e a volte umana. Il copione sembra sempre lo stesso: evento tragico; prime ricostruzioni giornalistiche, concitate e a forti tinte; interviste ai superstiti; il cordoglio della nazione; le autorità dello stato si precipitano sul luogo dell'evento; polemiche sulla tempestività dei soccorsi e sulla loro efficienza; i parenti delle vittime accusano; funerali solenni; ancora polemiche finché i riflettori dei mass-media si spengono.

Questo libro di Giorgio Boatti sul terremoto di Messina si basa in gran parte su uno studio accurato dei giornali dell'epoca. Una prima constatazione è che in essi lo schema che ci è tristemente familiare appare già operante. Il governo di Giovanni Giolitti dovette ben presto difendersi dalle accuse di non aver compiuto in modo adeguato e tempestivo l'opera di soccorso delle popolazioni colpite. In particolare, l'opinione pubblica dell'epoca fu colpita dal fatto che i primi soccorsi organizzati non vennero apprestati da parte italiana, bensì, a partire dalla mattina del 29 dicembre, dagli equipaggi di squadre navali russe e inglesi che casualmente si trovavano nei pressi al momento del terremoto (equipaggi che, secondo tutte le testimonianze, svolsero la loro opera eroicamente). I primi soccorritori italiani, dell'ottavo reggimento dei Bersaglieri, provenienti da Palermo, sbarcarono solo nel pomeriggio inoltrato dello stesso giorno.

Ma la cosa che più colpisce nella reazione all'evento da parte del governo italiano non consiste tanto nella lentezza o inefficienza dei soccorsi, per la quale si possono addurre delle circostanze attenuanti: l'Italia era allora un paese povero, sottosviluppato rispetto alle altre nazioni europee; la stessa tecnologia dell'epoca non consentiva una grande rapidità di reazione; il terremoto danneggiò molto seriamente le infrastrutture e le vie di comunicazione nelle zone colpite; infine non esisteva ancora il moderno concetto di protezione civile e lo Stato italiano non era preparato ad affrontare simili emergenze.

Ciò che realmente sorprende è che fin dall'inizio, il governo e una parte della pubblica opinione sembrarono considerare il terremoto principalmente come un problema di ordine pubblico. Fra le prime preoccupazioni si registrano, infati, il timore delle epidemie e la paura dei saccheggi.

Scrive il quotidiano "La Tribuna" del 2 gennaio 1909: per impedire un'epidemia occorre "compiere l'opera distruggitrice perpetrata dal terremoto: buttare giù quel poco che resta di queste case, buttarlo giù nel modo più energico, più rapido: a colpi di cannone. Far sgomberare i pochissimi superstiti e dalle navi bombardare queste scarnificate vestigia della città (...) non v'è altra via per impedire che il luogo dov'era Messina diventi un centro d'infezione a cui nessuno osi più avvicinarsi". (p. 118). "Il Mattino" del 6-7 gennaio rilancia la stessa idea attribuendone la paternità al Re, mentre "Il Messaggero" del 6 gennaio suggerisce di ricorrere al fuoco: "Si dia in preda alle fiamme [Messina] per purificarla, o si ricostruisca con piccole case come una cittadina giapponese" (p. 119).

E' sconcertante che fra le prime misure suggerite dopo un terremoto, vi sia quella di deportare la popolazione colpita e poi bombardare la città: sembra che nel caso di Messina non si sia arrivato a tanto solo perché, a distanza di molti giorni dalla catastrofe, si continuavano a trovare dei sopravvissuti sotto le rovine. Ma si rimane ancora più stupiti quando si apprende che uno dei motivi che suggerirono queste misure estreme, fu la necessità di preservare dai furti i valori rimasti sotto le macerie e soprattutto i caveaux delle banche.

Il regio decreto del 4 gennaio 1909 stabiliva lo stato d'assedio nei territori colpiti dal terremoto e conferiva i pieni poteri per l'emergenza al generale di corpo d'armata Francesco Mazza (annota Boatti che una diceria popolare fa discendere dal suo cognome l'etimologia della locuzione siculo-calabra "non capire una mazza"). Installatosi con il suo stato maggiore a bordo di una lussuosa nave militare al largo, e senza scendere quasi mai a terra, il generale Mazza provvide a circondare Messina di un cordone sanitario di truppe, cui diede l'ordine di sparare su chiunque dall'esterno si avvicinasse alla città senza lasciapassare. Questo per impedire che bande di saccheggiatori si riversassero sul luogo del disastro.

Ecco alcuni passi tratti dal bando emanato dal generale Mazza il 10 gennaio, riportato integralmente a p. 374 del libro di Boatti: "1 - Sono sospesi fino a nuovo ordine gli scavi delle macerie da parte di privati cittadini, sia per rintracciare cadaveri, sia per recuperare valori. (...) Le persone trovate a scavare saranno considerate come ladri e deferite al tribunale di guerra. [Questo mentre ancora i parenti delle vittime cercavano i loro cari sotto le macerie, n.d.r.] Anche le truppe, nei lavori stradali che compiono, si limiteranno esclusivamente ai lavori di assestamento evitando di eseguire scavi. (...) 3 - E' proibito l'ingresso in città a tutte le persone non munite di regolare permesso rilasciato dall'autorità politica della provincia da cui provengono..."

Il 6 gennaio l'autorità militare ordina di sospendere la distribuzione di viveri ai superstiti. Saranno distribuiti viveri a bordo delle navi, solamente ai profughi che accetteranno d'imbarcarsi per lasciare la città. L'idea, commenta Boatti, è perciò quella di "utilizzare l'arma della fame e della sete per imporre (..) la desertificazione di Messina" (p. 135). Questa cinica soluzione non viene attuata perché, come accennavo sopra, alcuni dei sepolti sotto le macerie si ostinano a farsi ritrovare vivi anche dopo giorni e giorni dal terremoto; ma altresì per le perplessità espresse da una parte della pubblica opinione e anche per le proteste degli stessi messinesi: un'assemblea autoconvocata di cittadini chiede il 19 gennaio la revoca dello stato d'assedio. Stato d'assedio che - osserva con sarcasmo il corrispondente de "Il Mattino" del 6 gennaio 1909 - sembra avere lo scopo precipuo di garantire "il sonno ai morti e la biancheria, gli oggetti e i titoli di banca ai vivi" (p. 137).

In seguito Giolitti giustificò la scelta di dare priorità al recupero dei valori, adducendo il timore di speculazioni al ribasso sulla lira (p. 146). Boatti propone un'altra spiegazione: "La difesa delle proprietà, la guardia ai caveaux delle banche, il salvataggio dei lingotti che mette in secondo piano altri interventi è una linea d'azione adottata, anzi, sbandierata, perché dal disordine - anche sociale - del terremoto emerga alfine una visione dove a prevalere è l'ordine, lo status quo, l'autorità e il prestigio dell'apparato dello Stato. (...) Salvare milioni, o lingotti, dopo tutto è meno complicato che cercare di strappare alla morte, in una gara contro il tempo, migliaia di sepolti vivi" (p.155).

A questo atteggiamento grettamente calcolatore da parte degli apparati dello Stato si contrappone lo slancio di solidarietà manifestato da più parti della società. In poche settimane si raccolgono più di ventun milioni di lire (dell'epoca) in sottoscrizioni, buona parte delle quali provenienti dall'estero. La cosa non manca anzi di creare preoccupazioni nelle alte sfere: non si rischierà di creare l'abitudine all'assistenza, al farsi mantenere dallo Stato, a quello che oggi si chiama assistenzialismo? Sua Altezza Reale il Duca d'Aosta esprime autorevolmente questo cruccio quando afferma che "è immorale mantenere un'orda di vagabondi e creare oziosi" (p. 234).

Non si trattò soltanto di solidarietà finanziaria. Volontari affluirono da tutta Italia per prestare opera di soccorso. Boatti dedica particolare attenzione alla vicenda di uno di essi, il parlamentare parmense Giuseppe Micheli, un deputato cattolico che, arrivato a Messina pochi giorni dopo il terremoto, subito mise in piedi, con la collaborazione dell'Arcivescovo, un "comitato messinese di soccorso", a carattere volontario, che si rivelò un'organizzazione semiufficiale sotto molti aspetti più efficiente di quella statale (pp. 263-68). Un'altra figura che emerge è quella dell'ex sindaco socialista di Catania Giuseppe De Felice Giuffrida, che era stato protagonista pochi anni prima di una delle esperienze politico-amministrative più avanzate della Sicilia dell'epoca: da sindaco della sua città aveva promosso forme di socializzazione dei servizi pubblici (forni municipalizzati, cucine popolari), la cui esperienza risultò ora preziosa per organizzare la distribuzione dei viveri ai superstiti del terremoto (pp. 203-4).

La miseria delle regioni colpite dal terremoto impressionò molti degli osservatori e degli inviati giunti sul luogo della catastrofe. Qualcuno propose dei rimedi; ad esempio il letterato Giovanni Cena suggerì, naturalmente quale misura temporanea, quella di emigrare. "Parecchi anni di duro tirocinio all'estero (...): poi gli emigranti calabresi torneranno altri uomini e non domanderanno più nulla, fuorché il loro buon diritto di cittadini" (p. 381). (Oggi si può dire che noi calabresi abbiamo seguito il consiglio, e che gli "anni di tirocinio" sono stati effettivamente molti, anzi durano tuttora. Sarà che siamo un po' lenti ad imparare?).

Il libro di Boatti non manca di sottolineare l'imprevidenza e anche l'incoscienza generalizzata che indussero i cittadini di Messina e Reggio Calabria (le città che oggi qualcuno vorrebbe unire con un ponte lungo tre chilometri, inutile, dannoso e pericoloso) a costruire tutto, anche gli edifici pubblici, al di fuori delle più elementari regole di sicurezza. Le fotografie che corredano il volume illustrano un panorama di distruzione impressionante, ove emerge, unica costruzione intatta perché edificata con criteri antisismici, il villino di un medico messinese.

Nella sua ricognizione della pubblicistica dell'epoca, Boatti dedica due capitoli ad alcune singolari polemiche: quella (cap. XVII) fra autorità laiche e cattoliche riguardo alla sistemazione degli orfani del terremoto (il Vaticano pretendeva ovviamente che fossero tutti educati "in Cristo" nei suoi istituti), e quella concernente il destino dell'Università di Messina, di cui alcuni illustri cattedratici proposero senz'altro la chiusura, in base alla considerazione che di università ce n'erano fin troppe e che in particolare quelle meridionali erano diplomifici per giovani sfaccendati (pp. 276-7).

Boatti chiude la sua esposizione con un'osservazione suggestiva: la "meglio gioventù" dei volontari del terremoto, poco dopo, buttò via inutilmente la propria carica di idealismo e di amor patrio, la propria volontà di fare e di cambiare le cose, nelle trincee della Prima guerra mondiale. Agli ordini (aggiungo io) di quella medesima classe dirigente ignorante, ottusa, autoritaria, incapace e meschinamente arroccata nella difesa dei propri privilegi, che aveva già dato prova di sé nella gestione ufficiale dell'emergenza-terremoto e che di lì a poco "inventerà" il fascismo.

Questo testo di Giorgio Boatti fa luce su un episodio importante e poco conosciuto della nostra storia nazionale, e lo fa (a differenza della pseudo-storiografia sensazionalistica e superficiale oggi di moda) con grande scrupolosità e metodo: il volume si chiude con ben cento pagine di appendice documentaria e di note al testo. Anche solo per questo sarebbe da raccomandare. Per chi come me proviene da una delle zone disastrate, la lettura di questo libro è irrinunciabile e consente di ritrovare la radice di mali antichi.

Originariamente pubblicato il 22 febbraio 2005, qui.

El ritual de la boda maya logra que con pocos elementos se llene de magia y misticismo ese momento tan anhelado para toda mujer como lo es su boda. El ritual de la boda maya se lleva a cabo en los lugares más paradisíacos de México, entre ellos, Cancún, Isla Mujeres, la reserva Natural de […]

The post EL ANCESTRAL RITUAL DE LA BODA MAYA appeared first on Joya Life.

          Proenhance patch - Get a longer lasting        

Does the wish of enlarging your penis prove you are bored with this and therefore the strategies re the extension of your penis to fulfill your partner? Are you wanting to swing harder than before? So here's your chance to capture the occasion of a lifetime. It's never too late to employ a single patch that can cause your penis to enlarge. While other methods can be useful too ProEnhance patch does it better.

ProEnhance patch has nuanced the awareness on ancient herbs, the newest technology, and the team of researchers did their best to get a product that might make sure of success. This method will supply the latest data and the oldest knowledge in one package.

From the start, the company that provides ProEnhance patch had realized the requirement of men to enlarge their penises. Being aware that several men are unable to adequately satisfy their lover, ProEnhance patch was developed with the understanding that what these men experience is beyond your control and isn't your fault. If men have a small size of the penis, this treatment will be of huge help.

Click here to learn more about Proenhance patch

The different herbs can seriously alter the penis size. The agents on the herbs include Damiana, Palm heart of the Sierra, Gotu Kola, Fo-Ti, and menthol. Menthol carries the responsibility of preparing the skin for the nutrient elements absorption while the rest are nutrient suppliers. Since the ingredients are a hundred p.c natural, you can completely enjoy the benefit of a bigger penis, with no harm of the unwished-for side effects!

ProEnhance patch is dedicated to your triumph over small or normal penis and supports this with a hundred % guarantee and twenty four hour support. It is a cGMP-Certified Pharmaceutical Facility that was attached with the latest technologies and it'll definitely give you the most productive and successful patch there. Being e 100 p.c natural and independently tested, the ProEnhance patch, was developed to be not damaging for you, unlike other more pointy and prepared herbs in the market.

ProEnhance has taken all of the paths to increase penis size, has launched the best that is presently available on the market and offering you only the handiest systems of penis enhancement. While some jump from one system to another, ProEnhance patch has proven that the company can work to simplify the chasing best system and they should not let the clients to do all the work.

Click here to learn more about Proenhance patch

Proenhance patch - Be a better man
Proenhance patch - Skyrocket your confidence
Proenhance patch - Improve your performance on bed
Proenhance patch - Improve your performance on bed

          Natura Siberica Gzel Royal Berries hiusnaamio kaikille hiustyypeille 120ml        
Kautta aikojen Siperian kansat ovat arvostaneet villimarjojen tehokkuutta, jonka ansiosta terveys ja kauneus säilyvät pidempään. Rikastettu Siperian marjojen luonnollisilla öljyillä ”Royal Berries” hiusnaamio syväkosteuttaa ja ravitsee hiuksia, sekä intensiivisesti elvyttää hiusrakennetta. Tekee hiuksista eloisat ja ylellisen kiiltävät. Arktinen karpalo on rikastettu vitamiineilla ja hivenaineilla. Se on todellinen pelastaja heikoille ja vaurioituneille hiuksille. Se vahvistaa hiuksia, syväkosteuttaa ja ravitsee, korjaa kaksihaaraisia, ja antaa hiuksille uskomattoman kiillon. Lakassa on ainutlaatuisia ominaisuuksia, minkä vuoksi Siperiassa sitä kutsutaan ”kuningasmarjaksi”. Sen sisältämät vitamiinit ja antioksidantit ravitsevat ja vahvistavat hiuksia juurista latvoihin, ja suojaavat ympäristön haittavaikutuksilta. Tyrni sisältää valtavasti vitamiineja ja mikroelementtejä. Sen sisältämä A-vitamiini tehokkaasti parantaa hiusrakennetta. E-vitamiini kosteuttaa ja ravitsee. Tyrni sisältää kymmenen kertaa enemmän C-vitamiinia kuin appelsiini, siten se vahvistaa hiuksia ja lisää hiusten kasvua.  
          Natura Siberica hoitoaine hauraille ja rasittuneille hiuksille 400ml        
Suojaa ja antaa energiaa.Ruusujuuri sisältää yhdistelmän antioksidantteja, jotka parantavat ja suojaavat hiuksia. Ne uudistavat ja nuorentavat hiussoluja, korjaavat vaurioituneita ja hauraita hiuksia. Palsamiköynnös sisältää kaikki “kauneuden vitamiinit” eli A, B, C, D, E, F, niin että väsyneet sekä hauraat hiukset saavat uutta eloa, kiiltoa ja elinvoimaa. Se on täynnä aktiivisia elementtejä, jotka antavat hiuksille voimaa ja energiaa.
          ÐœÐ¸Ñ€Ð½Ñ‹Ð¹ воин / Peaceful Warrior (2006) BDRip 1080р        

Категория: Фильмы/HDTV/HD/Blu-Ray/MKV
Размер: 2.27 GB
Траффик: Раздают (отдают): 7,280, Скачивают (качают): 9,845
Добавлен: 2017-08-10 21:22:58
Описание: Информация о фильме
Название: Мирный воин
Оригинальное название: Peaceful Warrior
Год выхода: 2006
Жанр: Биографический, Драма, Спорт
Режиссер: Виктор Сальва / Victor Salva
В ролях: Скотт Мехловиц, Ник Нолти, Эми Смарт, Тим ДиКей, Эштон Холмс, Пол Уэсли, Б.Дж. Бритт, Агнес Брукнер, Том Тарантини, Беатрис Розен

О фильме: Дэн Миллмен — талантливый гимнаст колледжа, мечтающий о выступлении на Олимпийских играх. У него всё есть: награды, друзья по команде, быстрые мотоциклы, девушки и бесшабашные вечеринки.

Мир Дэна переворачивается с ног на голову, когда он встречает загадочного незнакомца по имени Сократ, у которого достаточно возможностей, чтоб открыть новый мир силы и понимания. После серьёзной травмы, с помощью Сократа и эфемерной молодой девушки по имени Джой, Ден понимает, что ему много чему ещё придется научиться…
Выпущено: Германия, США
Продолжительность: 02:00:44
Озвучивание: Профессиональный (многоголосый закадровый) ТВ3, Оригинальная аудиодорожка: Английский
Субтитры: русские, английские

Формат: MKV
Качество: BDRip 1080р
Видео: 1920x1072, 23,976 (24000/1001) кадра/сек, ~2049 Кбит/сек
Аудио: 48 kHz, AC3, 2 ch, 192 kbps-Профессиональный (многоголосый закадровый) ТВ3
Аудио #2: kHz, AC3 Dolby Digital, 3/2 (L,C,R,l,r) + LFE ch, 448 |Оригинальная аудиодорожка: Английский|

          Comment on Episode 198- What’s Up With Licensed Games? by avi        
Hi all, great discussion. I think setting is really important and so I'm a little surprised that licensed products aren't more successful. I'm also surprised that there isn't more commissioned fiction to support established settings and that so much of what is produced seems of pretty poor quality. Perhaps it's just not how the creative process works (ooh, topic suggestion - interview Stolze about this). Getting everyone at the table to have a shared a vision of the fiction seems important to me and surely licensed games and commissioned fiction is great way of supporting that. As you discussed, an important element is producing mechanics that encourage the feel of the fiction. I think Mouseguard is a great example of this. When I played it everyone had read at least the first trade before we played our second session and the feel of the mechanics mirrored the feel of the comics.
          A CERCA DE MEXIQUEÑO        
Mexiqueño es una marca de diseño mexicano, de reciente lanzamiento, que abarca joyería, accesorios, juguetes, luminarias y de más elementos. Buscamos resaltar la gama de elementos mexicanos y combinarla con creatividad y colorido, de tal manera que al convivir con nuestros productos se regocije la pupila y se transmitan sensaciones de colorido y textura que te hagan querer devorar los objetos, que te exalten los sentidos y te despierten la conciencia de nuestra riqueza cultural. Trabajamos con materiales naturales y rústicos y nos proyectamos a largo plazo como una empresa amigable ambientalmente, de manufactura artesanal para cuidar paso a paso los detalles de nuestros productos y digna de representar a México dentro y fuera del país. Queremos que cada objeto tenga algo de único, y para lograrlo generamos un concepto transportador de mensaje, sensaciones y cultura. La mente a cargo de la creatividad es la de Mitzin Cuéllar soñadora y fundadora de esta propuesta.
          Healing Plants         
Garrigue - Teucrium creticus

Although I never intentionally created my perfume with aromatherapy mindset, I found them to be very healing throughout the years. Partially because of the creative process itself - the bringing together of contrasting and conflicting elements that represent such aspects within my psyche. And partially because I actually felt the plants' healing energy through wearing the perfumes:
Grounding, soothing, reviving, reminiscent of the places and people I missed and longed for, helped me get through many rough patches and heartbreaks that permeated the majority of my years on this earth.

While moving my vast collection of fragrant materials, I realized that at my fingertips I have an entire pharmacopeia. This is also true for some of my fragrances. A few weeks ago I started the day with intense sense of grief and feeling very heavy hearted and anxious. I had to fill orders that morning, and make samples of Ayalitta. I dabbed some on and no less than fifteen minutes later I noticed that I am feeling more grounded and that the anxious hole opening at the pit of my stomach started to close... It could be partially explained by power of association and past experiences wearing this scent while being in a similar state of mind and finding it soothing. Also, I think another big part has to do with the actual plants in it and their healing powers, namely sage (both Spanish and Clary), rose, jasmine, neroli and patchouli.

Part of my moving back to my home village was for reconnecting with nature and Mother Earth in a more immediate, hands-on manner. I wanted to not only smell the spirit of the plants that I love and cherish, but also experience them int heir living state. I wanted to see how they grow and turn the brown soil and sunlight they absorb into myriads of different colours, shapes, flavours, scents and therapeutic properties.

Behind my home is a mountain, and on it grow wild many fragrant and medicinal plants. It's awe-inspiring how many remedies are gifted to us by Mother Nature. If we only listen and learn her secrets, we have the potential to heal gently and find cure for many of our physical and emotional pains and misalignments. Plants are such benevolent creatures, I am now beginning to understand on a more immediate level why so many tales and myths about plants associate them with a spiritual being, such as an angel, nymph or even a god or a goddess.

The properties and aromas of the plants here fascinate me. They feel familiar (and in fact I know many of them since forever) - yet I keep meeting new plants that are either highly fragrant or medical; and those that I do know keep surprising me with new uses and therapeutic potential that I never knew existed.

For example: I came across a very ambery-spicy-herbaceous-smelling herb that has quite resinous leaves., growing in rather rocky areas up on the mountains here. I could not ID it because it never had flowers when I saw it. I tried brewing it into teas (even though you probably shouldn't consume something you haven't even identified yet!), tincturing it, and also drying the leaves, which I want to incorporate into incense. Just yesterday I saw someone post about it and was able to immediately recognize it - Chiliadenus iphionoides (כתילה חריפה)Turns out it has not only a delicious aroma but also many uses for diseases in respiratory system, as well as the heart, digestive system, skin conditions, wounds, fever, overall weakness and joint inflammation.

Teucrium (Germander) is another new discovery for me - for both its fragrance and myriads of medicinal uses. And also I am going to dedicate an entire post to the various thymes and oreganos that grow here, which aside from their well known culinary significance in regional and international cuisine - are also extremely valuable medicinally; and I'm also warming up to their fragrance per se (a rare occurrence in perfumery, really). Vitex agnus-castus (שיח-אברהם מצוי) always eluded me with its fragrance, and now I'm also discovering its healing properties, especially for women's health.  And last but not least - I discovered that clary sage is actually a wild plant here as well, and was gifted two tiny plants from Neta Fink who visited my studio last week. I am feeling very inspired to study these plants - both old friends and new ones - explore properties and work them into new applicable products that would be both fragrant and healing.

Caper plant (Capparis spinosa)
Legend has it that the caper plants originate in the Western Wall, where the little folded letters containing the prayers, dreams and promises of the pilgrims are transformed into beautiful white caper blossoms, blooming for a day and sending the prayers to heaven.

Many of the prayers are of barren couples who beg for a child of their own. Perhaps that is why these caper flowers are considered a remedy for fertility, as are the roots of the the plant. But this is only one of the many medicinal qualities attributed to capers in herbal and folk medicines. I will only highlight a few that I read about: The entire plant parts (root, leaves, fruit) were used as remedy for toothache, and an infusion of the fruit after it has been boiled in water is considered to aid those suffering from diabetes. The fruit and the root, when ground up, are placed for short periods on aching joints to relieve joint pain (long exposure of the skin will create burns). Despite all its many therapeutic values, caper is not a very common plant in the modern pharmacopeia -perhaps because of the emphasis on it as a culinary item.

Caper (Capparis spinosa) buds on the bush
The pickled capers most people are familiar with are the buds of Capparis spinosaIt grows here in the wild, and quite in abundance. What's special about it is that it blooms all summer long, from May through September - an unusual quality in those scorching months, which on its own alludes to nearly magical qualities.

Soaking caper buds for pickling

My first jar which I've pickled about three weeks ago turned to be quite the delicacy, so I thought I'd better hurry and go get some more buds before the season is over. As it turns out - in the meantime, the plants developed their fruit (AKA caper berries). They look like plump and short cucumbers are also very pickle-able, as are the leaves and stems of this plant.

Caper berries

I was pleased to learn that the blooming season is rather long, and will continue all summer. The hardiness of the plants around here to the arid conditions is amazing to me. I can barely survive a hot day and they can endure all summer with very little water from dew and that which is found deep in the crevices of rocks.

Capers has interesting history and uses - both culinary and medicinal. The famous "Cypriot wine" mentioned in the Talmud as well as in the Jewish daily prayer (used in the preparation of incense) was intact wine made of capers.

Capers have a unique flavour that is a tad mustard-like which develops while they pickle and release the glucocamparin (mustard oil) within them. Through the picking process, white or violet coloured dots will form on the buds, which contain the citrus flavalnol ruin, which is also dominant in asparagus, buckwheat flour and black raspberry. The stems can be added to yogurt, and both the stems and leaves can be pickled and added to salads.

Recipe for pickling capers:
The hardest part about this task is the actual harvest: the bushes are equipped with hook-shaped thorns that are quite vicious. Once you endured a few of these claws-in-flesh encounters, and collected enough caper buds or berries, soak them in water for three days, changing the water daily.

To pickle, sterilize a clean jar by rinsing with boiling water, fill with the capers, and cover with the salt and vinegar solution:

1/2 cup filtered or spring water
1/2 cup appel cider vinegar 
1 Tbs salt

Season with:
2-4 Bay leaves 
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds, whole 
(Both are local spices, so to speak, that grow wild)

Marinate for one week, then keep refrigerated. The pickled buds can be used as a flavourful garnish to sandwiches to offset fatty elements such as cheese and smoked salmon. It's great as an addition to salads, marinates, stuffed vegetables, and just to eat on their own on the side with ripe watermelon or charcuterie. It can also be used to make tartar sauce, pasta sauce (spaghetti ala puttanesca, anyone?) - and just anything else your imagination may take you to.

As for the pickled caper berries (or fruit) - I have one more week to wait till they are ready. So will report later.

Pickling capers

          Yurt Life         
We are moving into my mom's charming little yurt today!

While waiting for our permanent home to be renovated (which, as it turns out, takes even longer than building a new home) - we've been living semi-nomadic life for close to four months now, about three of them in a yurt.

Life in the yurt is different. There is no way around it (pun intended). For one thing, it provides a round space, that encompasses most of life's functions in one area: cooking, eating, reading, puzzling, snuggling, cat-feeding (an extra duty we've picked up on the way to freedom - not unlike an unwanted pregnancy that you just can't get herself to terminate), office work (whenever my MacBook Air has enough power to work for me - not to mention its battered battery now needs replacement, which turns out to be a HUGE ordeal in the land of milk and honey), Pilates practice, and even occasional entertaining (when it rains even my dear family avoids it like the plague). It's not truly all in one space, because it actually has an annex to the north, with the washroom (including a shower and a compost toilet - a killer combination for dirt and cleanliness), as well as a sleeping den which has beautiful greenery all around it, as it is built from old wooden windows.

That beauty comes with the price of this space being as cold as the outdoors in the winter. In the summer this room is actually a lifesaver, because the yurt collects way too much heat, although it is much better insulated than the sleeping den - even when its skylight is open. We don't have an oven, but were able to pull together delicious and nourishing meals from the two-flamed gas stove, and have even prepared some raw treats for our daily tea parties. To be perfectly frank - mostly, we've been lazy and buying baklava and cookies whenever we are in the vicinity of a bakery - so I am now in the know of where to get good baked goods. I'm sure this knowledge will come in handy in the not so far future, even after we're back to our productive baking life. When it comes to baking, it's always good to have a good back-up plan.

Of course, that did not stop us from being experimental in the kitchen, trying new ingredients such as nigella seed spread and authentic freekeh, which is an amazing way of preparing green wheatberries by burning them off the wheat chaff. The result is a smoky, nutty grain that is delicious and easy to cook (and digest) and really gives unmistakable character to dishes (the one I bought in Canada was actually stale wheat dyed green). More on that in another post!

To sum it up - living in a yurt is "an experience". Just like camping is an experience. In camping terms this is a five star facility. I'm sure with its running water and gas-operated refrigerator it is also considered a luxury in comparison to straw huts in Africa or yurts in the Mongolian steppes. You get the picture. It's an experience. And we're three months into it and can't wait to experience something else.

To lift the edge off the nervous anticipation for proper housing, I've decided to compile a little list of fragrances (both mundane and wearable) that will let you into this experience, even if just a little... This compilation is a random array of fragrance fit for yurt life, even though I imagine most people who choose to live in this humble abode would rather dab some animal fat and cooked cabbage juice behind their ear than any designer's fragrance. Nevertheless, I find the task amusing, and I hope it will make for a fun read.

We are moving into my mom's charming little yurt today! Here is a view of the inside.

I also hope that my mom does not get hurt because apparently in our parts of the world, patience ("Savlanut") is considered a virtue (which very few uphold), and also belongs grammatical to the same root as the word suffering ("Sevel"). And in this part of the world, stating the facts is considered complaining... I'm sure those who choose to live in a yurt or even just stay in it for a short amount of time will thoroughly enjoy it - it is cute, rustic, pretty, calm and completely in tune with nature. You get to experience all the elements - fire (sun), air (wind), water (we have running water, and thankfully also very little of water leakage despite its very temporary feel); and last but not least - you can't get any closer to earth than this. It is a very, very earthy dwelling and you really feel Mother earth's belly as you tickle it with your slippers walking to and fro. Last but not least: nothing compares to coming out of the yurt at night and seeing the clear black skies dotted with bright stars.

Muscs Kublai Khan - for the obvious body odour effect - musk-enhanced unwashed hair and sweaty armpits with hints of rose and aldehydes.

Kiehl's Fig Leaf & Sage - milky herbacous weirdness. It's unusual yet very easy to wear and has a freshness without being boring. It also goes well with the cucumber and parsley scented products we currently have in the house - hand wash, shampoo and conditioner. Something green and clear-smelling yet non pretentious.

Aromatics Elixir - an earthy, big sage scent that is sophisticated yet at the same time rustic enough to wear in the wilderness. Especially grateful for it on cold wintry days.

Arabie - the spice market, sweat and dusty cobblestones - and all the spices I have in storage (and don't have in my kitchen) kvetched into one bottle. Awesome.

Coco Noir - the opposite of yurt life: polished, elegant, artificial and urban. Jasmine, berries and plums, rose, patchouli, musk and vetiver with a a dusting of cocoa.

Poivre Samarkand - because I heard that there are also yurts in Samarkand (Uzbekistan). Can't find any perfume inspired by Mongolia (which is where the yurts supposedly originate). Besides, it's a perfect sprinkle of heat on those chilly nights when the shower runs only boiling water or ice cold ones, and when you step out of the shower it's the same temperatures as outside (not as extreme as in Canada, but 5-11c is cold enough to feel like real winter).

Musc Nomade (Annick Goutal) - I'm picking this one because of the name alone. I remember smelling it very vaguely and that is was vegetal and delicate... Admittedly I'm also too lazy to go digging in my shipping container now and find the little box where I "filed" all my music samples but I'm pretty sure I've only tried it once when I was in Paris.

Tam Dao - if you've ever encountered compost toilet, you know that it's the human equivalent of hamster cage. pine or cedar shavings are used to cover up the mess, and the result is a more subdued version of human waste, that eventually turns into a nice scent of the forest floor. Anyway, this explanation made me think of Tam Dao, which is a fine sandalwood and cedar fragrance and also has some clean smelling musks underneath, to make you forget all the other business.

Tea for Two - We've been enjoying my limited selection of teas that I make a point of finishing off. True to form, we've been brewing lots of chai, which I've been already giving you plenty of recipes for... And of course Hulnejan - the wonderful root brew of galangal, dried ginger and cassia bark.
Zangvil also reminds me of this "witch brew" with its notes of fresh and dried ginger, honey, amber, jasmine and ginger lily.

Finjan - we've been drinking lots of espresso on the stove top mocha machine, and lots of Arabic/Druze/Turkish coffee (each nationality claims it as their own - but essentially this is very dark roasted coffee with cardamom that is brewed on the stove). The latter is well represented in the perfuem I created titled Finjan (the name of the little porcelain "shot" cups that you sip the coffee from; mistakenly, most Israelis refer to the little pot used to brew it as "finjan" - but its real name is "Ralai").

Mastic - Whenever it rains or gets really chilly, the mastica bushes and wild ivy behind the yurt release their fresh, green-balsamic scent. Grin's smell encompasses this verdant freshness with its notes of galbanum, violet, oakmoss and a classic floral bouquet.

Geranium and Wild Oranges - My citrus orchard was overcome by wild orange shoots, and I've really let it go. We finally pruned the orchard this fall, which mean an overwhelming amount of wild oranges that had to be put into use somehow. The result? An orange cello with a touch of herbs from the yurt's garden, among them rose geranium. One sip of this liquor is enough to uplift the spirits.

          Ð¡Ð²Ð°Ð´ÐµÐ±Ð½Ñ‹Ðµ иконки - праздничная коллекция в векторе | Wedding collection icons and decorative elements design        
Свадебные иконки - праздничная коллекция в векторе | Wedding collection icons and decorative elements design

Свадебные иконки - праздничная коллекция в векторе | Wedding collection icons and decorative elements design
14 eps, ai + 14 jpeg, tif / prew / 113,2 Mb

          Ð’ векторе вип карточки, фоны с золотыми элементами декора | Golden VIP Design Elements        
В векторе вип карточки, фоны с золотыми элементами декора | Golden VIP Design Elements

В векторе вип карточки, фоны с золотыми элементами декора | Golden VIP Design Elements

15 EPS | + Preview | 80 mb

          Ð£ÑÑ‚ройства с навигацией для дизайна сайта - векторный клипарт | Web site design template navigation elements vector        
Устройства с навигацией для дизайна сайта - векторный клипарт | Web site design template navigation elements vector

Устройства с навигацией для дизайна сайта - векторный клипарт | Web site design template navigation elements vector
EPS | 11 files | 86.37 Mb

Esta mañana me encontré este artículo en el muro de un amigo http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2705631/el_quimbo_colombia_enelendesas_low_carbon_hydroelectric_racket.html. El artículo por un imperialismo ecológico critica el imperialismo económico, pero su crítica, aunque razonable en algunos puntos, no deja de tener el trasfondo errado de muchos ecologistas: ¡imponer condiciones a los países subdesarrollados para que los ecologistas de los desarrollados sigan contaminando en paz! Pero lo irónico es que The ecologist critica una de las fuentes de generación de energía renovable más bonitas, eficientes y que puede darle a la gente que vive en ese territorio que llaman Colombia fuentes de riqueza. Además, la crítica se hace de manera ligera pasando por alto las consideraciones del International Panel on Climate Change acerca de sus ventajas.  En el punto que acierta es precisamente en los abusos del estado sobre las comunidades, donde vale la pena resaltar que el aprovechamiento del potencial hidroeléctrico no da derecho a expropiar, en favor del que sea. 

Este escrito consta de varias partes. El primero es que hay una confusión entre inversión extranjera y concesión de monopolios extranjeros, donde los ecologistas aciertan. Y para la aclaración cito a un a un profesor de la Universidad de New York, a Murray Rothbard. Luego, muestro que tras el ecologismo hay también imperialismo, pero uno que suele gustarle a ciertas izquierdas, uno que impone condiciones insoportables a los países pobres, para que los ecologistas nórdicos no tengan cargos de conciencia por prender la calefacción, dado que en las zonas tropicales hay selvas que se beneficiarán de su cariño al planeta. En ella explico que hay una falacia en cuanto a la consideración que hace el artículo de las hidroeléctricas, incluso basándome en el IPCC. Posteriormente, se muestra que las hidroeléctricas además de ser tecnologías que producen energía eficiente sin emisiones de CO2 (no se discute acá el tema de si el cambio climático es originado o no por el hombre) es una oportunidad de ofrecer energía barata. El precio de la energía se relaciona con el crecimiento económico, inclusive una disminución de la demanda de energía puede ser un indicio previo a una crisis económica. La energía eléctrica es clave en la industria y una energía más barata puede disminuir costos. Finalmente, ante un planteamiento del artículo que menciona las pérdidas de energía en transmisión y distribución (o sea los cables que llevan la energía de la planta a su casa) que denuncian a que se deben ¿a las leyes de la física? ¿a viabilidad técnica pero no económica? ¿a ineficiencia? Esto porque consideraban que era más importante disminuir las pérdidas que construir hidroeléctricas. Hasta cierto punto, por física, las pérdidas en transmisión son inevitables, no sé cuál sea el punto. Pero eso no es una excusa para no mejorar la oferta. 

El imperialismo ecológico es una realidad. Sin embargo, muchos partidos de izquierda al ser ecologistas están convencidos de que no es imperialismo. Ya Hayek denunciaba que existía una imposición de países ricos y contaminados que obligaban a países pobres y selváticos a generar amplias áreas protegidas. Esto genera como dice don Alpiniano en El Tomismo Desdeñado unos beneficios a unas personas que no les corresponden, imponiendo cargas a otros que no las merecen. Sin embargo, luego de que en estos países -como Colombia- nadie puede hacer nada, ni tiene cómo adquirir recursos para explotar sus ventajas ahí sí llegan empresas extranjeras que, haciendo convenios con el gobierno, adquieren los beneficios que los nacionales no han tenido. 

Hace Murray Rothbard, citado por el instituto Mises Hispano una distinción importante entre la sana inversión extranjera y la alianza de empresas ricas con gobiernos ineptos pobres:

"Los conservadores norteamericanos insisten en particular en resaltar ante los países retrasados las grandes posibilidades y la importancia de las inversiones privadas procedentes de los países avanzados, y les incitan a crear un clima favorable a las mismas, de modo que no se vean sujetas al instigamiento de los gobernantes. Todo ello es muy cierto, pero, una vez más, a menudo es irreal, dada la situación de estos países. Estos conservadores caen persistentemente en el error de no saber distinguir entre las inversiones exteriores legítimas del mercado libre y las basadas en concesiones monopolistas y en donaciones de vastas extensiones de tierras otorgadas por los Estados subdesarrollados. En la medida en que las inversiones exteriores se basan en monopolios y en agresiones contra el campesinado, en esa misma medida adquiere el capitalismo extranjero las características de los señores feudales y debe ser combatido con los mismos medios"

En este sentido, estoy de acuerdo con el artículo -y en contra del imperialismo económico- en que el estado confunde inversión extranjera con monopolio extranjero. Y el monopolio es desagradable venga de donde venga, sea el monopolio estatal tan "nacional", como cualquier otro. Por eso, cuando Robledo, senador del Polo, defendía a los arroceros por la imposición ridícula de tener que comprar nuevas semillas estaba promoviendo algo anarcocapitalista y liberal, aunque con argumentos de izquierda. 

Lo mismo pasa en este caso, si se trata de una inversión privada ¿por qué el estado entra y desaloja campesinos? ¿Por qué expropia? Y por más que la ley diga que la expropiación requiere una indemnización al precio del avalúo comercial, ¿es el avalúo comercial el precio de venta? Hombre, no estoy en momento de calcular las rentas campesinas vs las rentas hidroeléctricas, pero sospecho que las rentas hidroeléctricas son más altas. Ahora, si el campesino no quiere vender al precio que dice el avaluador ¿por qué le quita el estado su tierra bajo la excusa del "bien común" para las rentas particulares? No creo que si la transacción se diera en condiciones de libre mercado los campesinos salieran a protestar. Hay alrededor de un millón de kilómetros de líneas de transmisión eléctrica, y si uno viaja por carretera suele ver vacas o sembrados alrededor. ¿Por qué esos campesinos no protestan? Porque 1. esos terrenos no son expropiados sino que cuentan con servidumbres de paso, 2. Se suelen hacer arreglos de mercado. Hombre, hay casos de casos, pero en general no se ve un descontento generalizado. 

Pero, no, la herramienta de la expropiación es el arma para el bien común, como en Venezuela que hay mucho "bien común", siendo tan paradisiado que prefieren venirse para Colombia. La expropiación existe pero tiene sus límites. En todo caso, sin estado Â¿quién expropiaría para que se hicieran las vías? 


Sin embargo, las razones ecológicas que plantean para oponerse a las hidroeléctricas son más bien pobres. En primer lugar, las consideran también causa del calentamiento global. ¿Cómo? No quiero citar el artículo porque me da pereza pero la idea se resume en 1. cortan bosques tropicales que recogen el CO2, 2. son fuentes de Metano. Hombre ¿cómo un artículo que cita el Panel Intergubernamental sobre el Cambio Climático para defender a los campesinos y el agro sale a decir que son más contaminantes? En primer lugar, si uno revisa lo que dice el IPCC en materia de energía hidoeléctrica (sacaron un documento sobre energías alternativas) su resumen -de la IPCC- arranca así: "Hydropower offers significant potential for carbon emissions reductions" http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srren/Chapter%205%20Hydropower.pdf. Creo que en ese punto "The ecologist" se equivoca. 

Por otro lado argumenta que las represas (reservoirs) son fuentes de Metano. La verdad, lo que dicen los científicos climáticos es que si bien el metano CH4 es un gas efecto invernadero, su absorción es más rápida que el CO2, una diferencia que va desde unas décadas en el metano, hasta miles de años para el dióxido de carbono. Además, de acuerdo con la siguiente imagen que proviene del último reporte del IPCC parte del CO2 proviene del uso de la tierra http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/IPCCGeneva/fifth-assessment-report-synthesis-report/11:
Francamente, si queremos disminuir TODAS las emisiones humanas de CO2 hay que empezar por dejar de respirar. ¿Y todas las artificiales? Dudo que la energía que utiliza "The ecologist" sea propiamente energía que no emita CO2 -bueno, puede ser nuclear que no les gusta tampoco- pero no es de las "terribles" hidroeléctricas. 

¿Qué otra razón puede tener "The ecologist"? ¿Proteger los bosques de los países subdesarrollados? ¿Para qué? ¿Para que haya bosques que puedan chuparse el CO2 que producen sus plantas a carbón, gas, petróleo, etc. a costa de energía más costosa, menor productividad, entre otras, en nuestros países? ¿Para que ellos puedan seguir subsidiando sus industrias a cambio de que las nuestras no puedan competir en sus mercados por el costo de la energía?


Lago Calima.
Uno de los embalses en Colombia.
En un apartado anterior cuestioné el manejo del monopolio estatal con la empresa. El estado es una asociación de políticos corruptos con empresarios ineficientes. Pero tanto la oportunidad a nivel de recursos hídricos que hay en Colombia, la eficiencia energética de las hidroeléctricas, su costo en comparación con las térmicas a base de carbón, gas, gasolina, su posibilidad de cambiar potencia (a diferencia de otras renovables de potencia inestable) y almacenar la energía, entre muchas otras, me hacen tenerle cariño a esta tecnología. Creo que en el punto anterior quedó desvirtuado que las hidroeléctricas tengan impactos a nivel global vía CO2 (lo que hacen es quitar el calmadero de conciencia de los ecologistas ricos que les permite seguir emitiendo CO2 bajo la tranquilidad que los bosques tropicales los recogerán). El metano no me preocupa realmente y creo que es una afirmación que no estaba fundamentada, al fin y al cabo, los embalses no son aguas estancadas. 

El potencial hidroeléctrico de ese territorio que llaman Colombia es una maravilla. Eso sin contar con el potencial energético de otras tecnologías renovables como las fotovoltaicas por su ubicación terrestre, las mareomotrices, entre otras. Que cualquiera venga y lo explote es necesario, aunque en condiciones de mercado, no monopólicas ni imperialistas. Adicionalmente, la energía hidroeléctrica es más barata. En el siguiente gráfico hay un promedio de los precios mensuales en comparación al porcentaje de generación térmica en Colombia:

Por puro azar puede observarse con claridad la correlación entre el porcentaje de generación térmica en Colombia y el precio constante (deflactado con IPC) de la energía. Como la gráfica de generación térmica de alguna manera encaja con la hidráulica (la cogeneración y la eólica representan porcentajes insignificantes) podría afirmarse que a mayor generación hidráulica en general menos precio. ¿Por qué se presentan esos baches en la generación? La razón es muy simple, el agua es renovable pero no predecible. Si uno mira las correlaciones de series de ingresos los caudales en dos o tres días tienen altas correlaciones, pero alrededor de dos meses -algo que corroboré con un ex empleado de ISA e ISAGEN- las correlaciones son nulas. 

Hay incertidumbre en el ingreso del agua. Adicionalmente, en unas ocasiones por década se presenta el fenómeno del niño. El fenómeno del niño genera lluvias en Perú -un país desértico- y trae sequía a un país lluvioso como Colombia. Como el agua escasea hay que producir la energía con un sustituto: las termoeléctricas. El costo de la energía se dispara. En este momento parece que están las condiciones para que se dé el fenómeno del Niño si es que no estamos ya en él. De ese fenómeno se ha venido especulando desde que empecé a investigar este tema en Junio del año pasado (o sea el 2014). Esa especulación posiblemente también influye en los precios, el aumento de la producción térmica y la disminución de la hidroeléctrica porque ante el riesgo de escasez se empieza a guardar el agua. El profesor John Jairo García y otros de EAFIT en un paper al respecto proponía medir las expectativas de aportes al sistema en relación con el precio: 

"Una variable importante sobre la determinación del precio en el mercado no regulado que debiera incluirse en estudios futuros son las expectativas climatológicas; en la medida en que se espere una disminución del recurso hídrico, generará expectativas de aumentos en el precio.". http://revistas.upb.edu.co/index.php/cienciasestrategicas/article/view/1093/1313

La intuición tras el análisis es muy buena, pero dudo que pueda encontrarse una variable de expectativas climatológicas. Aunque si algo me soprendió de John Jairo era esa capacidad de creatividad econométrica. El caso es que la ventaja de tener un sistema donde el "combustible"que es el agua es variable, permite inferir que, al menos en las condiciones geográficas de los Andes Colombianas, es más barato que el uso de otros combustibles.

Es así como la construcción de hidroeléctricas -aunque respetando los derechos de propiedad privada- es una necesidad para mantener bajos los precios de la energía. Hay muchos trabajos que buscan predecir el precio de la energía y lo hacen en función de variables hídricas. Pero nada mejor que leer los errores de las predicciones pasadas de los economistas. En este artículo participó mi amigo y profesor de econometría Mauricio Lopera y dice lo siguiente:

" La coherencia del resultado se corrobora en el mes de enero de 2014, donde se aprecia una caída grande en el precio producto de la entrada en operación de El Quimbo y Sogamoso, las cuales en conjunto aumentan la oferta de electricidad en 1220 MW" http://www.redalyc.org/pdf/1552/155226077004.pdf
Mauricio nos insistía mucho que verificáramos que el resultado econométrico coincidiera con la "intuición" económica.  El problema es que las predicciones se equivocan y fuertemente. En el artículo citado, se muestra que los precios caerían en enero de 2014, la razón sería lógica la entrada de hidrosogamoso y quimbo (que es la que menciona The ecologist). Los precios en 2014 en bolsa fueron altísimos, y apenas hoy 16/01/2015 leí que estaban inaugurando la planta de hidrosogamoso. Lo que es cierto es que esas plantas deberían influir en la disminución del precio por el aumento de la oferta, además, de un insumo mucho más barato como "combustible" que el carbón. En eso acertó el trabajo de Mauricio y otros. Pero el cómo o cuánto bajarán los precios no podemos calcularlo con exactitud. 

Los cables suelen dañar las fotos de paisajes.
Pero ¿no puede haber buenas fotos de cables de alta tensión?

El sistema de energía que nace con las leyes 142 y en concreto 143 de 1994 tiene muchas deficiencias. Aunque la L143/94 trataba de dar paso a un modelo más parecido al de un mercado, esa distinción del mercado regulado del consumidor de energía hace que nos saquen un ojo de la cara porque sus precios están muy por encima de los de bolsa; aunque relativamente influidos por ellos como lo mostraba el profesor John Jairo García. El modelo aunque avanza hacia tratar de liberar lo que considera de mercado y regular lo que considera "monopolio natural" se queda corto. Pero realmente si hay algo aburrido es la regulación del sistema de energía, como todas las regulaciones. Hablemos más bien de leyes bonitas, las del "fatum" o de la naturaleza... las humanas dan asco. 

Quiero enfocarme más en los problemas que mencionaba "The ecologist" y es las "pérdidas" de energía del sistema de transmisión y distribución. Una de las leyes de la física es la ley de la entropía. Básicamente consiste en que aunque la energía no se destruye, solamente se transforma, se degrada a formas de energía más "desordenadas". Básicamente la energía se transforma en "calor", o que es lo mismo que movimiento y vibración molecular. Utilizaremos el término "pérdida" de energía en un sentido amplio, o económico, pero entendiendo que solamente es una transformación no utilizable.  Esta es la razón por la cual no existe una máquina perfecta, sin desgaste y de movimiento absoluto. Por esta razón los relojes de péndulo necesitaban que les dieran "cuerda". 

De esta manera, por cada 1 KWh (3.600.000 Joules) que produce uno recibe una cantidad menor de energía porque esta se ha "pérdido" transformándose en calor. Esto se debe a que los transformadores -que no entiendo cómo funcionan pero cambian el voltaje- generan pérdidas, la transmisión de energía puede generar calor, en la costa el desgaste de los cables genera pérdidas. Todo esto, como me decía un ex trabajador del sector eso es parte del costo de la energía. Dice textualmente "The ecologist" que se pierde alrededor del 16% de la energía generada:

"Yet the Government is neglecting simple options to raise power supply - like reducing the high level of losses in transmission and distribution, which run at about 16% of power generation and amount to some 10,000 GWh per year - more than four times the energy production of El Quimbo."
Pero es que por las leyes de la física: ¡tiene que "perderse" parte de la energía generada! De la energía potencial del agua embalsada el 80%-90% se transmite por medio de la electricidad y el 10%-20% se "pierde" o sea se transforma en "calor". ¡Y es de las más bajas! Las térmicas pierden el 59% de la energía contenida en el combustible, las nucleares el 70%  (CARTA GONZÁLEZ, CALERO PÉREZ, COLMENAR SANTOS, CASTRO GIL, & COLLADO FERNÁNDEZ, 2013, pp. 113-114). Puede que pueda perderse menos bajo un mantenimiento mucho más costoso, o puede que efectivamente pueda perderse menos. El caso es que siempre se va a "perder" algo de la energía. 

Puede que The Ecologist tenga razón en que se aumente la eficiencia energética. Algo que puede ser inviable o física o económicamente. Pero eso no es razón para impedir que se produzcan plantas de producción de energía eléctrica, es bueno aumentar la oferta por todos los medios. 

Lo que no puede el gobierno es ordenar que se cree energía, ni que no se degrade una parte en otras formas. Gracias a Dios las leyes de la física son inderogables, imprescriptibles, inembargables, anteriores al ser humano mismo. ¿Puede imaginarse una ley que cree energía? El Congreso de Colombia Decreta "Créase energía a partir de la nada...". Gracias a Dios eso no es posible, no soy capaz de imaginarme la inflación energética lo que produciría, al menos la moneda de la naturaleza es absolutamente neutral. O una ley que diga "Derógase la gravedad", el totazo que se pegarían de cuenta de creer en su validez sería de lo lindo...

En primer lugar pido perdón al lector por tratar la energía de una forma tan política. Es decir, es demasiado pobre, aunque no más pobre que el Ministro de Minas que confundió potencia con energía, pero ¿quién es uno para cuestionar a los "doctores" Ministros? ¡De pronto ignoro una ley que asimila energía con potencia! En segundo lugar, no es esta, ni más faltaba una defensa al régimen de energía eléctrica Colombiana, tan no lo es, que arranco dándole la razón a los ecologistas en que muchas de esas empresas grandes y concesionadas arrasan con las comunidades. El problema de esas empresas grandes, no es la falta de estado, por el contrario, su exceso, lo que falta es libertad. 

Lo que sí creo es que en sanas condiciones de mercado y con precios justos a los dueños de las tierras, la construcción de hidroeléctricas es una de las ventajas que tiene este territorio geográficamente llamado Colombia. Es vital empezar a utilizar en este territorio las ventajas que ofrece el desarrollo de miles de tecnologías de energía renovable, como la solar, la mareomotriz, la eólica y la más fuerte la hidroeléctrica. En esta región se podría utilizar un potencial enorme para producir energía barata, renovable y libre de elementos contaminantes. Esta energía se podría exportar. ¿Por qué no hay líneas de transmisión a Panamá y Centro América? ¿Por qué no hay líneas de transmisión al Perú? ¿Imposibilidad logística? ¿No serán más bien los elevados costos regulatorios -que agudizan las barreras de entrada- sumado al monopolio estatal? ¿O el monopolio de la transmisión es "natural"? 

Casi todas las citas salen de internet así que si no refiero la fuente, está el link. Las formalidades APA o lo que sea me parecen demasiado engorrosas para escribir informalmente. Con el internet debería bastar con el link. El único libro que cito, con todas las normas mamonas para probar su existencia, es:

CARTA GONZÁLEZ, J. A., CALERO PÉREZ, R., COLMENAR SANTOS, A., CASTRO GIL, A., & COLLADO FERNÁNDEZ, E. (2013). Centrales de energías renovables. Generación eléctrica con energías renovables. (P. E. S.A. Ed. SEGUNDA ed.). Madrid, España.

(Imagen tomada de GRUBER, 2010, pág. 308)
Esta semana hablábamos mi hermano y yo acerca de una propuesta educativa, estudiar pero no por un diploma. Yo le añadiría ni por una nota. El tema de la educación me llama particularmente la atención por varias razones, en primer lugar, soy el que maneja los costos de transacción (impuestos, contratos, contabilidad, planeación financiera y tesorería) de una fundación cuyo mayor objetivo es resolver problemas sociales a través de la educación. Pero, ¿qué es la educación? ¿Cómo se vive la educación? 

La educación actualmente es vista como un programa que tienen que recibir todas las personas, desarrollar unos exámenes, a cambio de obtener un diploma. Claro que el diploma es un papel y como el rey de la foto lo puede dar cualquiera... y generar naciones "educadas". Se supone que el estado "controla" la educación de "garaje", pero en sí mismo él es el promotor de que los estudiantes se preocupen por una nota (y hagan lo que sea por ella) o un diploma más que por sacar provecho y aprender. Antes las instituciones de "garaje" "facilitan el objetivo" de la "educación", OBTENER FÁCILMENTE UN DIPLOMA. Por otro lado, el estado considera la educación como un "bien público" que genera "externalidades" positivas... y niños medicados, deprimidos y sintiéndose inútiles porque los hacen ver matemática avanzada cuando ellos quieren es bailar, correr, o lo contrario, otros queremos ver matemáticas y nos hacen correr en extenuantes jornadas más allá de nuestras fuerzas. ¡Vaya externalidad "positiva"!

¿Por qué el estado se debe preocupar por la "educación"? ¿Por qué gasta la mayor parte de su presupuesto en ella? Las razones de política económica que se leen en el libro Public Finance and Public Policy de Jhonatan Gruber son las que consideraremos a continuación.


En primer lugar, consideran que la educación es un bien semi público (GRUBER, 2010, págs. 292, 293 y 294) y que con base en eso va a haber fallas de mercado y problemas de redistribución. ¿Realmente es así? Más adelante procederemos a esta objeción.

Por otro lado, consideran que la educación aumenta la productividad (GRUBER, 2010, pág. 292) eso de alguna manera es cierto. Pero hay que preguntarse ¿para quién? El experto en educación Sir Ken Robinson sostiene que esa es la razón por la cual reforman la educación (ROBINSON), pero precisamente ese modelo genera caos en la vida de muchas personas. ¿Todos somos para el conocimiento académico?  Dicen que mejorar la productividad genera una externalidad positiva, pero y ¿Qué pasa con aquellos que simplemente fueron excluidos porque no eran considerados por el modelo? ¿Eso no es una perversa externalidad negativa tener niños tristes y drogados para atender a cosas que no les interesan?

La tercera razón es la más perversa de todas. La educación genera “buenos ciudadanos” (GRUBER, 2010, pág. 293). Claro que con contenidos ideológicos y cátedras de lo que el estado que muchos nos quejamos es corrupto. Pero claro, se lanza un señor con una campaña de lápiz –como si el lápiz genera aprendizaje en sí mismo- y todo el mundo va a pensar ¡qué buen candidato! ¡Va a ideologizar a nuestros niños! 


La forma cómo se mete el estado en la educación es en primer lugar ofreciéndola como servicio gratuito. Esto no parece tan perverso. Lo que genera es el problema de la sobredemanda del bien gratuito y por ende salones atiborrados "aptos para el aprendizaje".

 Sin embargo, la mentalidad intervencionista, hace que el estado ofrezca otra intervención y es la estandarización. Esta estandarización es la forma más perversa de intervención del estado en la educación, porque pone un prototipo de seres humanos que deben cumplir con ciertas habilidades que no necesariamente son las que el mercado laboral requiere. Refiriéndose a la perversa alienación de toda política intervencionista nos dice José Alpiniano García Muñoz lo siguiente no tanto de lo alienante sino de por qué falla este modelo:

"Al igual que el plan general de los bolcheviques, estos agregados estadístidos [que son el fundamento de la macroeconomía] no reconocen la singularidad humana que torna útiles las cosas.Entonces el mecanismo social deviene ajeno a la realidad. Sería necesario acudir a tantas cosas que resulta imposible que alguien particularmente pueda señalarlo.  La economía debe considerar multiplicidad de factores que además son variables." (GARCÍA-MUÑOZ, 2012, pág. 53)
¿Qué multiplicidad de factores debe considerar? Nada más y nada menos que la PARTICULARIDAD HUMANA. Particularidad humana que es única y exclusivamente cognosible por cada individuo. Así que el estado lo que hace con la educación es crear prototipos de personas y excluir a aquellos que no han sido considerados por el programa que es incapaz de considerarlos. Adicionalmente genera toda clase de efectos secundarios en la sociedad ¿Cuál es el más grave? No tanto que los profesores hagan trampa o sometan a los estudiantes a jornadas extenuantes para sacar un mejor puntaje en las pruebas "SABER". Es aquellos que la "educación" estandarizada excluye porque sus puntajes los hacen quedar como "inútiles". Si usted es un colegial o un universitario y está leyendo esto piense que lo que se requiere para las pruebas SABER es pensar lo que el estado quiere que usted le conteste. Por ejemplo, puede no creer en la democracia pero conteste que la democracia es el mejor sistema, ¡pero es una mentira!... Pues es una forma de burlarse de lo arbitrario que son las evaluaciones y simple una broma y ellos creerán que el sistema funciona... Conozco dos casos frente a estas pruebas que pensamos así, el mío y el de un cucuteño, se sorprendían de lo bien que nos fue en esas pruebas...


Es falso que la educación sea un bien público, por el contrario se refiere a la parte más singular de la persona.
En primer lugar si el ser humano es particular y solamente él puede conocerse a sí mismo, la educación no bien público ni semi-público sino una actividad absolutamente privada. Lo que pertenece a la conciencia y la intimidad del sujeto no es cognoscible más que por el propio sujeto. ¿Qué vendría siendo la educación entonces? Una ayuda para que cada quien se conozca a sí mismo y un apoyo para que como la sentencia de Píndaro que alguna vez le leí a Alpiniano cada quien devenga lo que es en sus habilidades. Esto podría sonar como un ideal, como un imposible, pero por el contrario es NUESTRA PROPIA CONDICIÓN ANTROPOLÓGICA la que determina la privacidad de la educación. Los colegios hacen lo contrario obligan a los niños a aprender unos contenidos iguales, ahora dizque desarrollar unas competencias y la arbitrariedad del estado lo medirá.

Esto genera entonces varias preguntas ¿Cómo ayudar a que cada quien se conozca a sí mismo? ¿De quién es función? De los padres, por eso el movimiento del Homeschooling  no solamente es una salida para el excesivo bullying causado en parte por la estandarización, sino que es un movimiento que vuelve a la raíz verdadera de la educación: ¡ayudar a sus hijos al autoconocimiento!  A continuación unas razones que expuse en otro escrito para otro blog de cómo hacer esto:

"Por lo tanto, mi querido Alcibiades, los Estados (léase ciudades) para ser dichosos no tienen necesidad de murallas, ni de buques, ni de arsenales, ni de tropas, ni de grande aparato; la única cosa de que tienen necesidad para su felicidad es la virtud. Por consiguiente, mi querido Alcibiades, si quieres ser dichoso tú y que lo sea la república, no es preciso un grande imperio, sino la virtud." (2)

Pero ¿Cómo alcanzar la virtud? La tradición iniciada con Sócrates parte de iniciar la búsqueda del conocimiento del “sí mismo”. Al respecto algunos filósofos como Kierkegaard (3) le han dado un desarrollo tal que, quizás interpretándolo exageradamente, consisten en no imitar absolutamente nada, o el famoso “desnudarse” de Fernando González (4). Sócrates, en su reconocida tendencia aristocrática –pero de la verdadera- nos propone la imitación de la virtud “Y antes de adquirir esta virtud, lejos de mandar, es mejor obedecer, no digo a un niño, sino a un hombre, siempre que sea más virtuoso que él.” (2).

Hemos visto que el bien común nace del bien y la virtud de los seres humanos y que la virtud surge del auto-conocimiento. Pero ¿cómo promover que los hombres se conozcan? ¿Obedeciendo e imitando a la virtud? Es allí donde la educación juega un papel importante en esta idea. A pesar del pésimo modelo educativo actual que se basa en la repetición de ideas pre-establecidas o diseñadas o pensadas para la producción en cadena (5), como para empacar a todos en la misma caja útil a la sociedad [como la canción Little Boxes]. Pero ¿cumple la función de enseñar a conocernos a nosotros mismos? ¿Sirve para conocer? Al vivir de hábitos los seres humanos podremos repetir fácilmente las ideas aprendidas en el colegio y en muchos casos en la universidad pero ¿de qué servirán? Inclusive el aprendizaje por repetición puede considerarse, en términos lógicos, como una falacia conocida como Argumentum ad nauseam (6) y eso no genera virtud (2)." (TORO RESTREPO, 2011)

Una de las preguntas que pueden surgir es el uso del término obedecer. Los padres suelen haber desarrollado una serie de virtudes que el hijo puede imitar. Esa sería mi forma de entender el término de obedecer como como el subordinarse sino el aprendizaje de la virtud del virtuoso. 

La educación puede aumentar ingresos pero hacernos vivir en el hastío. Además, profesiones mejor pagadas no implican eficiencia.
La segunda razón es que la educación aumenta la productividad y genera efectos Spill over sobre toda la sociedad. Yo aprendo de los demás y los demás aprenden de mí. Eso es cierto. Pero las super correlaciones que indican que una "mejor educación" implica un mejor "ingreso" no significan que eso sea un mayor bienestar para la sociedad. Me explico, uno en la universidad ve muchos temas, pero a medida que se especializa separa los que le gustan de los que le disgustan. Y uno puede dedicarse a trabajos de mayores ingresos que no es lo que verdaderamente la persona vino a dar al mundo. A este lo llamaremos el efecto prostitución. En últimas el efecto prostitución no es más que la alienación de ganar ingresos por aquello que no nos gusta. Kafka es uno de los autores que mejor conoce la alienación de trabajar lo que no somos, en "El Proceso" muestra cómo la sociedad lo está persiguiendo permanentemente. Más que una novela sobre el debido proceso es una novela sobre el juicio que el estado y su expresión social masificada el sistema nos está exigiendo; que seamos lo que no somos. Por otra parte, en la metamorfosis se muestra cómo el "buen empleo" tal vez sea convertirnos en una cucaracha o bicho raros. No somos lo que somos porque la educación y las políticas nos desvían de nuestra realidad, de lo que somos realmente. 

Al respecto en versión hispanoamericana tenemos a Facundo Cabral con su canción "Bombero". La canción muestra exactamente las exigencias que hace la sociedad en el proceso de Kafka, un juicio que no comprende. Al final se vuelve abogado -y qué profesión más alienante eligió-. Posiblemente si comparamos a un bombero con un abogado, aquel gana más que éste: ¡retornos de la educación! ¿Eficientes? Su felicidad particular y el destino de muchos se pierden, a la sombra de la alienación. Es el razonamiento hipotético de lo que no fue, pero hay algo claro con más ingresos, no fue lo que era, asumiendo que siendo bombero no hubiera podido idear un proceso que salvara muchas vidas y lo hiciera rico.  Hay varias frases que son muy llamativas al respecto:

El reflejo que nos muestra la sociedad en la alienación
es supuestamente belleza, cuando realmente estamos
  • “Desde su galaxia tendrá que aprender a ser como todos, y tirar la llave del eterno sueño de ser o no ser.”
  • "Al fin de los días sentado a la sombra de su realidad, y desde la infancia, como en un espejo, la casa paterna, juguetes y amigos y aquel despilfarro de la libertad."
  • <<El viejo se apaga y vuelve a su mente el niño soñando con ser o no ser, cerrando los ojos se va lentamente por última vez: “bombero, bombero, yo quiero ser bombero, que nadie se meta con mi identidad”>>.
Aparte de los problemas de alienación, que es una cuestión antropológica, la cuestión también es económica y de eficiencia. Se proveen servicios para los cuales no se es el más apto y se dejan de proveer servicios para los cuáles se es apto. La variedad de factores que influyen una vida humana cuando opta por el camino equivocado no pueden medirse. Pero es claro que la retroalimentación negativa de la ausencia de un bombero que se necesitaba puede tener unos efectos sociales mayores -especulando nada más- que él simple hastío que padece. La alienación de los seres humanos, en especial por la educación, tiene efectos que se dispersan a lo largo de la economía que podemos no conocer.

La educación planificada no genera necesariamente "buenos ciudadanos".
Veíamos previamente que el buen ciudadano es el que es virtuoso en aquello que es. Es decir, desarrolla habilidades para aquello que vino al mundo. Si la educación, el estado y el sistema lo que genera es un juicio permanente -como en "El Proceso" de Kafka- realmente no está generando "buenos ciudadanos" sino que está persiguiendo al buen ciudadano. Observándolo, juzgándolo por su vestimenta, ingresos, forma de pensar, cuerpo, carros, casas... ¡Alienación!

Por otra parte, la noción de "buen ciudadano" es la de aquel ciudadano maleable, fácil de someter y manipular a los designios del estado. En los colegios la figura de poder que se manifiesta en el profesor es un juego similar a la figura de poder que ejerce el estado sobre la vida de los individuos. Es así como esa educación delineada por personas que no conocen a quienes educan, que además no son unidades humanas sino seres singulares con sueños y expectativas -como ser bombero, aunque el estado lo diseñe como ingeniero-, que ni si quiera han pisado un aula, diseñan programas desde unos conocimientos y dizque competencias para el "individuo promedio".  Â¿Quién es un individuo promedio? ¡Nadie!

La educación me enseñó a concluir todo lo que escribiera ¿por qué? Porque según la educación todo ensayo agota un tema. La verdad la educación se equivoca, lo que busca un ensayo es empujar, hacer pensar y dejar una reflexión abierta. Si yo tuviera la verdad revelada en mis manos pues concluiría, daría órdenes, pero que esos cuentos se los crea el estado... El estado, sin conocer ni siquiera a los niños, sin saber nada sobre cada uno entre otras porque le es imposible, pretende concluir lo mejor para ellos diseñándoles una vida... que realmente, ni quieren, ni vinieron a vivir...

El recaudador de impuestos. Pieter Brueghel
Para una de las materias de la Universidad en la maestría en economía tuve que hacer un largo escrito presentando una investigación. Mi tesis o trabajo de maestría será sobre impuestos. Aunque inicialmente [en realidad inicialmente pensé en algo muy enredado y como los fractales de longitud infinita] pensé dedicarme a denunciar el aumento de la retención en la fuente a título de renta que se observa en series de tiempo, creo que tengo motivos suficientes para ampliarlo al impuesto de renta.

¿Por qué ampliar un poco el tema al impuesto como tal? a La razón es que a veces para los particulares y empresas la retención en la fuente es conveniente. Luego de haber escrito una larga disertación de su inconveniencia, una amiga contadora me dijo que había casos en los que era conveniente. Coincidencialmente, luego del comentario de mi amiga contadora como agente retenedor me pidieron dos personas en menos de una semana que no se acogían a beneficios legales que me permitían no retenerles sino que por el contrario me pedían que les retuviera. Esto tiene también su fundamento en el flujo de caja, el impuesto de renta afecta fuertemente el flujo de caja, la retención en la fuente puede diferir esa afectación al flujo de caja que es el impuesto de renta.

En todo caso, sin perjuicio de los alcances que la investigación vaya a tener o a cambiar quisiera compartir unas pequeñas notas sobre por qué los impuestos tienden a subir –o a bajar-. ¿Qué hace que paguemos más impuestos en términos reales? ¿Por qué el estado promueve reformas tributarias? Básicamente porque necesita dinero. A continuación se mostrarán dos perspectivas, la histórica y la teoría económica sobre por qué aumentan los impuestos. Ambas coinciden a pesar de su diferencia en perspectiva.

Aunque  se desconoce si existe algún marco teórico que presente hechos estilizados [hechos que se repiten al aumentar los impuestos] o hipótesis de las causas que influyen en el recaudo, hay un hecho central los impuestos surgen de la necesidad que tienen los estados de financiar el “gasto público”.  Esto puede observarse tanto desde la perspectiva histórica como desde la teoría económica.

A mi modo de ver hay hechos estilizados están en un análisis histórico. Mil años antes de Cristo en el libro primero de Samuel se hace una advertencia vital: ¡Los reyes cuestan! (1 Samuel vs 11-18). Se tienen registros de impuestos alrededor de 3000 años antes de Cristo en la China (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008). En la antigua Grecia los impuestos se usaban para la guerra pero cuando esta terminaba se devolvían (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008). Quien fuese el tutor de uno de los más grandes tiranos de la historia, Aristóteles, tenía claro que los impuestos no pertenecían al que los recaudaba sino al “tesoro público” (ARISTÓTELES, pág. Volumen 8) y que eran objeto de reembolso (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008).

En la Antigüedad parece entonces que los impuestos respondían a guerras y eran en general en cantidades pequeñas. El impuesto sobre las ventas del emperador Julio César era del 1% (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008). Los impuestos para financiar las guerras como el crecimiento imperial eran la mayor motivación para cobrarlos como sus aumentos. Por ejemplo, Pedro el Grande en Rusia gravó todo lo que pudo (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008) para sus ambiciones imperiales.  Por ejemplo en Inglaterra en 1914 el impuesto sobre el ingreso era del 6% y pasó al 30% al finalizar la primera Guerra Mundial en 1918  (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008).

En la antigüedad eran muy pequeñas las cantidades que prácticamente no tenían efecto sobre la mayoría de los ciudadanos. Sin embargo, con el paso del tiempo las ideas de limitar los impuestos o inclusive negar su legitimidad han ido aumentando. Claro de la mano del crecimiento del estado. Tan es así que sorprende lo poco que importaban a los grandes filósofos estos temas con únicamente pequeñas alusiones al tema, siendo la Aristotélica mucho más racional y la platónica suelta una denuncia en uno de los apartados de la República. No es sino hasta la escolástica española que se hace un análisis jurídico-económico a los impuestos. La historia también ha mostrado ejemplos de límites y desobediencia a los impuestos. Francisco Suárez nos cuenta Carlos Parma sintetizó basado en las enseñanzas de Santo Tomás los límites de los impuestos. Según él estos debían ser para que fuesen justos (LAMAS):

-          debe ser impuesta por la máxima autoridad legislativa;
-          su finalidad debe ser conocida y justa
-          y la proporción del tributo establecido por ella debe ser acorde con su finalidad, en el momento de su creación y durante la subsistencia del impuesto.

Derivado de estos principios es que Juan de Mariana denuncia la mutación de la moneda –el aumento del flujo circulante de dinero- como un impuesto encubierto. Este método en la actualidad consiste en que el Banco Central [en Colombia Banco de la República] prenda la máquina de billetes a favor de los acreedores del estado. Esa mutación de la moneda es un robo, o viéndolo más “objetivamente” es un impuesto encubierto.

Por otro lado, las cuestiones tributarias han sido motivo de movimientos políticos como la independencia de los Estados Unidos (NEW INTERNACIONALISM, 2008).  También se cuenta que el pensador Norteamericano Henry David Thoureau autor de On the duty of civil disobedience fue encarcelado por no pagar un impuesto que financiaba una guerra que los Estados Unidos libraba con México (COY-FERRER, 1975, pág. 414). La oposición a los impuestos se encuentra de manera directa en las acciones de Thoureau, el filósofo Lysander Spooner (SPOONER, 1882)  al igual que el alemán Friedich Nietzsche (NIETZSCHE, pág. 68), consideran que no existe tal tesoro público sino que lo que “pertenece” al estado es robado.

No presento las teorías que favorecen los impuestos por dos razones. La primera es que parecen estar implícitas en la mente de todos, como un lavado de cerebro muy bien hecho, así todos se quejen de ellos. Esta primera razón le explicará de entrada por qué le choca la cita Nietzscheana. La segunda razón es que más adelante sí hablaré de ellas.

Desde la perspectiva de la teoría económica hay una coincidencia total con la perspectiva histórica. La ventaja de la insípida perspectiva económica es que nos permite decir la verdad, sin necesidad de que usen nuestras ideas para distorsionar la veracidad de nuestras afirmaciones. El aumento del gasto público como impuesto presente o futuro es lo que se conoce como la equivalencia ricardiana. ¿Qué nos explica la equivalencia ricardiana?

“Esta dice que cualquier cambio en el timing de los impuestos —es decir, por ejemplo, bajar transitoriamente impuestos hoy, financiar con deuda y repagar- la en el futuro— no tiene efectos sobre la economía, en particular sobre las decisiones del público. De ahí que se pueda argumentar que, a partir de esta idea, la deuda pública no es riqueza agregada, ya que al final hay que pagarla, y lo que la restricción del gobierno nos dice es que este pago se hará con impuestos.” (DE GREGORIO, 2007, pág. 148)

 Uno de los conceptos claves frente al recaudo es el déficit fiscal. El déficit fiscal puede expresarse matemáticamente la siguiente manera:

Si es negativo se considera superávit fiscal e implica que los gobiernos o estados están gastando menos de lo que les ingresa lo cual es positivo en términos de finanzas públicas. Hay diversas distinciones sobre los distintos niveles de déficit pero la noción es clara. Ahora bien, ¿Qué pasa si el estado para crecer gasta más de lo que recauda? ¡Tiene necesariamente que endeudarse! Ya vimos que lo que enseña la equivalencia ricardiana tarde que temprano tiene que pagarse con más impuestos. Esto nos permite inferir la restricción presupuestaria del gobierno [o sea que el gobierno no tiene dinero absoluto en el tiempo] a lo largo del tiempo así:

Esto quiere decir que el valor actual de todos los gastos más el valor actual de la deuda deben ser financiadas completamente por el flujo proyectado de impuestos. El último término significa que la deuda al final de los periodos tiene que tender a cero o decrecer lo que nos permite reexpresar así:

Esto quiere decir que el valor actual de todo el flujo de impuestos, menos el flujo de gastos debe ser igual al valor actual de la deuda. Esta restricción presupuestaria intertemporal es la que impide que haya un déficit elevado y que la deuda no crezca a una tasa mayor que los intereses. Por tal motivo, habrá un momento que para suplir la restricción presupuestaria del gobierno habrá que aumentar los impuestos o estaríamos violando la condición de solvencia.

Mejor dicho, a los estados también los pueden enviar a “cobro jurídico” por no pagar, por eso a la larga tendrán que pagar sus deudas. Pero ¿cómo pagan las deudas que son el precio del “bien común”? O vendiendo bienes propios o aumentando los impuestos porque es la única fuente de ingresos.

Hemos visto que históricamente los afanes expansionistas estatales generan como consecuencia directa o indirecta el aumento de los impuestos. Y Colombia está en un afán estatal expansionista. Desde esta perspectiva, el flujo de gastos del estado colombiano se espera que crezca en los próximos años las razones son entre otras las siguientes:

-          Las indemnizaciones a las víctimas del conflicto, el Consejo de Estado maneja la tesis de la reparación integral bastante costosa.

-          El estado social de derecho que significa estado de bienestar en términos económicos y consiste en que el estadovela por el denominado “mínimo vital” de los individuos.

-          Esto implica que los gastos en salud, educación, recreación, entre muchos otros sean prestados por el estado.

¿Quién paga esos costos? Derivado de la tesis del “mínimo vital” pronto caeremos en un pasivo pensional elevado, subsidios al agro, al desempleo –y al empleo-, subsidios a los ricos y a los pobres [que paga la clase media] que el estado tendrá que pagar con dinero recaudado de más impuestos.

Previamente no citamos las corrientes que fundamentan los impuestos. Este es el momento. Si usted cree en el estado social de derecho tendrá que afirmar que el pago de los impuestos es vital para el sostenimiento de labores estatales como el “gasto público social”. Que es vital una estructura impositiva para redistribuir los ingresos de las clases más favorecidas a las menos favorecidas y que eso es labor del estado. En la teoría eso suena hermoso pero en la práctica es más impuestos para todos.

Como el estado depende de una gran burocracia y ya no solamente se paga la corte del rey [por aquello de los “frenos y contrapesos”] sino la de Presidencia, Fiscalía, Procuraduría, Defensoría del Pueblo, Banco de la República, Gobernaciones, Alcaldías, Superintendencias, Establecimientos Públicos, Comisiones de Regulación, la DIAN, altas Cortes, Congreso –con altos salarios- con su aparato administrativo y todos aquellos extraterrestres administrativos como le decía una profesora (que creía en el estado) que podrían crecer ad infinitum. ¿Cómo así que pueden crecer ad infinitum? Pues infinitas son las formas de corrupción luego para preverlas se necesitan infinitos entes que también pueden ser corruptas: ¡una bonita serie de crecimiento geométrico! Es claro, con la burocracia que el estadoes un ente redistributivo, toma el dinero de las clases medias para dárselo a las altas o sea congresistas, funcionarios públicos, entre otras. Efectivamente ¿quién paga los impuestos? A más impuestos ¿quién pagará más si nadie quiere pagarlos?

Uno de los objetivos del trabajo de grado no le gustaba al asesor, pero fue propuesto por el asesor [estos académicos no se ponen de acuerdo]. El objetivo es el siguiente:

“Denunciar el peligro político y jurídico de que la retención en la fuente crezca a un ritmo porcentual superior al del ingreso de familias y empresas.”

En este objetivo soy claro, mis afanes académicos tienen que tener una finalidad que sirva a la gente, sino escribiré buena carreta. De alguna manera hay algo entre este objetivo y esto que son notas previas a la investigación que en términos académicos llaman “marco teórico”. Sin embargo, el objetivo no se sobrepone a la conclusión que es levemente distinta: para reducir impuestos se requiere reducir el estado. Y ¿por qué es bueno reducir el estado? Pregúntese ¿De qué le sirve el estado? Y ¿Cuánto le cuesta el estado? Y con un análisis práctico quizás sepa la respuesta.


ARISTÓTELES. (s.f.). LA POLÍTICA (Vol. 8). La Editorial Virtual. Recuperado el 28 de 11 de 2013, de http://www.laeditorialvirtual.com.ar/pages/Aristoteles_LaPolitica/Aristoteles_LaPolitica_000.htm

COY-FERRER, J. (1975). THOUREAU, HENRY DAVID. En E. RIALP, GRAN ENCICLOPEDIA RIALP (Vol. 22, págs. 413-414). Madrid: Ediciones RIALP S.A.

DE GREGORIO, J. (2007). MACROECONOMÍA. TEORÍA Y POLÍTICAS. Santiago de Chile: Pearson. Recuperado el 28 de 11 de 2013, de http://www.degregorio.cl/pdf/Macroeconomia.pdf

LAMAS, F. A. (s.f.). CARLOS PARMA. Recuperado el 28 de 11 de 2013, de Francisco Suarez y el impuesto injusto: http://www.carlosparma.com.ar/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=172:francisco-suarez-y-el-impuesto-injusto-&catid=47:filosofia-del-derecho&Itemid=27

NEW INTERNACIONALISM. (01 de 10 de 2008). NEW INTERNACIONALISM. Recuperado el 27 de 11 de 2013, de A short history of TAXATION: http://newint.org/features/2008/10/01/tax-history/

NIETZSCHE, F. W. (s.f.). ASÍ HABLÓ ZARATHUSTRA. España: Euroliber S.A.

SPOONER, L. (1882). NATURAL LAW OR THE SCIENCE OF JUSTICE. Boston. Recuperado el 28 de 11 de 2013, de http://lysanderspooner.org/node/59


Call of Duty! This project has been my primary creative focus for the last couple of years, and it's been a great honour and a pleasure to have been involved with such a potent franchise. There's not much bigger than COD! The development studio for Infinite Warfare, Infinity Ward, has been my home since January and part of last year, and it's been a dream come true to live and work in Los Angeles. Ever since I was a kid, looking through art-of books of my favourite movies, LA has been the place I always wanted to be.

I had been working remotely, as a freelancer, on the IW project for a while, creating concepts like the C12 here, so it was a natural next step to join the team in house in sunny California. The project needed a dose of solid, believable, and badass science fiction flavour, and that's exactly what I love to do! The C12 was the first thing I designed for the project, and it turned out great. The brief was for a walking tank, an enemy robot with a threatening presence, bristling with armaments. I love the right hand appendage, a combination door breaching hammer and articulated claw. The arms are mounted on curved shoulder rails, so they can rotate around and track various targets. There is so much articulation in this guy, it really taxed the rigging department! Bone count be dammed! ha ha

This is the accompanying human sized enemy robot, the C6. A menacing eyeless axe shaped sensor head is mounted on a 360° degree swiveling pintle frame, so the head can target you from any angle. I imagined the player shoot one in the back, only to have the head spin 180° round and target you, the weapon following a split second behind, helped by the highly mobile shoulder and upper arm sections, allowing the robot to move in ways a human can't, and creating a unique adversary. The work done by the character department to model and texture these robots was insane. It was a true honour to have my concepts brought to life by such a talented team!

A couple of variations on the standard SDF enemy soldiers. The idea was to create an iconic look, something clearly a guy in a suit, but still dehumanised and threatening enough to make them clearly the badguys, and worthy of killing by the hundreds. I added some frames to the 'muzzle', similar to the mounts on a modern day soldiers helmet, that can have additional optics or emergency breathing apparatus attached, to create an aggressive look. The reinforced polymer face pieces have a variable opacity laminate, I imagined a scene where you see a soldier seal up his transparent mask, then the mask turns cloudy white from the bottom up, obscuring the face and turning the visage into an eyeless skull. These SDF soldiers live in their suits, and have multiple redundancy life support systems, with visible added connective cable and hoses, to create a unique inside-out look to contrast against the clean and slick suits of the Earth forces.

Ethan, or E3N, the buddy brobot you as the player have alongside for the game. This guy was fun to design, and I love how the head and upper arms worked out. My brother was the inspiration for this character, he's a big badass dude with the right friendly demeanor that I thought was perfect for this robot. I wanted Ethan to look and feel like someone who would have your back in battle, and be down for some extreme sports in down time. My bro is into motocross, so for the articulated pistons on Ethan's neck, I gave him gold cylinders to reflect the awesome looking forks you find on race bikes. Ethan's head is also a combination of elements from a motocross helmet, with articulated lens hood pieces from a camera lens, and the top hood piece forming a cap and visor peak shape.

Really happy with how his head was resolved. It's tough to come up with a unique and iconic robot head with the right character and ability to emote.

The final design for the UNSA SATO Marine helmets. With the hero Marines, I wanted to create a rugged and tough suit that paid homage to some classic Marine ideas. Mainly the thick armoured neck and arms. The thick neck was an attempt to create a different silhouette than the usual space suit form of thin neck/big helmet. I kept the helmet as slim and 'operator' as possible, while pumping up the neck, to create a unique look that feels badass, and harks to the leatherneck moniker of the Marines.

With the arms I wanted the suit to feel like the rolled-up-sleeves look that's popular with Marines, and seen in some classic movies like Aliens. The lower arm sections and neck utilise mechanical pressure to protect from the vacuum of space, while the rest of the outfit is a traditional gas pressure space suit. Taking inspiration from the latest concepts of future space suits from places like NASA, with their elasticated tight fitting sleeves and lines of non-extension, I created a rugged military look with a thick armoured feel and beefy grid like pattern.

I've loads more concepts to share in the future, so excited to show some of the other cool characters and weapons I was lucky enough to create for the project. Be sure to check out the game too, I'm playing through the final product now and it's rad, so cool to see my work realised to such a high level by a huge and talented team. Cheers!
          Templo del sol y asombro agradecido        
Templo del sol by ElAlispruz

Templo del sol, a photo by ElAlispruz on Flickr.

El asombro es aquella capacidad que comparten niños, poetas y filósofos. Sin embargo, el asombro tiene un contenido que trasciende la poesía y la filosofía. ¿Qué es? La mística. ¿Acaso se requieren milagros extraordinarios para descubrir aquel ser magnífico detrás de cada obra? Cada movimiento del sol, que no sale ni se oculta nunca por el mismo lugar, la caída de la lluvia, la formación de un arco iris las formas siempre iguales y siempre diferentes de las nubes, son una muestra de la existencia de un ser que las trasciende. 

Ya nos decía Fernando González en Viaje a Pie:

"Subiendo a pie la vertiente del Arma tuvimos la impresión nítida de la dureza y pesadez que nos atrae hacia la tierra. ¡Qué dificultad para elevarse! Somos hijos de la tierra y sus parásitos; nos liga a ella, como un cordón umbilical, la ley de la gravedad. Por momentos la abandonamos, nos parece que existe otro ser que nos llama hacia las alturas aéreas; nos parece abandonar todo lo terrestre y después caemos más definitivamente abrazados a su seno materno; somos únicamente materia dura, materia grave. Cuando levantábamos las piernas para trepar hacia Aguadas tuvimos la impresión nítida de la atracción terrestre. Esta esfera dura es nuestra cuna y nuestro sepulcro. ¿Por qué deseamos abandonar esta madre? ¿Por qué los ímpetus de elevarse? ¿Por qué el Santo y el Héroe? Es un indicio, un leve indicio, de que hay en nosotros algo que no es terrestre. Ese leve indicio ha creado la metafísica y el misticismo." (González-Ochoa, Fernando. Viaje a Pie. Versión digital en http://www.otraparte.org/ideas/1929-viaje.html)

Esta foto nos muestra "el Templo del Sol". Este "templo" se encuentra en las ruinas de Macchu Picchu en el Perú. La parte frontal está alineada con la salida del sol en el solsticio de verano en el hemisferio sur (21 de Diciembre) y la lateral con el de invierno (21 de Junio) en dicho hemisferio. Aunque vivo en el trópico demasiado cerca al ecuador, he logrado observar esas diferencias por las posiciones solares. Adicionalmente, con un poco de lectura he relacionado esas diferencias a los periodos de sequía y de lluvía. ¿Por qué? La máxima evaporación se produce cuando el sol se encuentra perpendicular a la tierra, en ese momento la presión baja al extremo en esa latitud, asciende el aire y cuando llega a la tropopausa seco desciende hacia las latitudes circundantes disminuyendo la evaporación. De esa forma, en la medida en que el sol se encuentra más elevado en el cielo, más elevada es la evaporación en los países tropicales. 

Los incas lograron intuir esta interrelación entre la posición solar, que el templo del sol, les permitía seguir las temporadas de sequía (solsticio de invierno 21 de Junio) y las de lluvia (solsticio de Verano 21 de diciembre). Estos ciclos vitales denotan los flujos de la existencia humana, la esencia de la naturaleza que entre opuestos y contrarios genera profundas auto-semejanzas fractales. Esto, para cualquiera con una mínima capacidad de asombro, lo lleva al extremo del éxtasis, al misticismo si se quiere como nos decía Fernando González. Los primeros filósofos, cuando empezaron a razonar, utilizaron los elementos de la naturaleza como el sustrato del ser. Los libros modernos de meteorología y climatología hacen una referencia a esta primera aproximación intuitiva de la realidad.

El viento, el aire, el fuego, el agua y la tierra que producen vida y muerte, belleza, poesía. Los primeros filósofos se asombraron de una naturaleza maravillosa, que seguía ciclos semejantes pero inciertos. Lo mismo hoy me asombro de la belleza de un atardecer, del cielo azul, de las montañas y las nubes como algodón. Todas diferentes pero auto-semejantes, conocidas pero a la vez sometidas a un halo de incertidumbre propio de su permanente creatividad. 

Algo nos dicen estos ciclos, algo nos dicen los solsticios y equinoccios, algo nos dice la estética de los flujos auto-semejantes producidos por opuestos y contrarios. Algo nos dicen la noche y el día, la lluvia y la sequía, las nubes y el cielo, el calor y el frío, la poesía y la razón, el arte y la contemplación... Tanta belleza debe provenir de algo que, en sí mismo, sea bello, ordenado y artista, creativo y racional. Un creador capaz de regalarnos maravillas poéticas permanentes, milagros cotidianos que nos hagan vivir una vida de belleza y asombro agradecido.

          carbon filler        


My Carbon project has been expanding in my mind from a coherent collection of human-future conceptual design into a coherent collection of stories and characters, a place for all the scenarios, worlds, and IP ideas I've been thinking about for years. It's getting epic, and I'm pretty excited! 

It's going to take some planning though, and the kickstarter side of things will too. I want to do things right and make something special, so basically the kickstarter will go live when it's ready, which may take a while. But it will be worth it! Not to mention I have some other projects that need some serious time, and a shit load of awesome freelance work too.

In the mean time I'll keep everyone posted with how it's going, and post some artwork from time to time. A big thanks to those that have gotten in touch to say hello and support the project, cheers!

The piece above is something I sketched one morning last year before doing a live demo. I decided it would be too hard to paint in a couple hours, and did a crappy photochop for the audience instead, but at least I've had a chance since to render it up. It's what I would consider filler material in the book, so I though it would be more worth posting as an update instead of keeping it exclusive for the book. The exclusive Carbon work will be much more involved, interesting, and unique!

These images were fun though, and are all painted, no photos. Except for elements in the background of the top one. And the case in the bottom one. But that's pretty much it I swear!

The general idea with this guy is I wanted to draw a robot with a big gun, something a human soldier couldn't wield without it being mounted to a vehicle. It's just a bit of fun, and I like the way you can draw a robot holding a gun, then use the gun on it's own in another image. Two birds with one air burst grenade!

These images will also feature in the next installment of the 'Nuthin But Mech' books, which is shaping up to be the best yet. Be sure to pick up a copy when it's out. Cheers!

          Ð¯Ñ€ÐºÐ¸Ðµ абстрактные неоновые фоны - векторный клипарт | Bright abstract neon background decorative elements        
Яркие абстрактные неоновые фоны - векторный клипарт | Bright abstract neon background decorative elements

Яркие абстрактные неоновые фоны - векторный клипарт | Bright abstract neon background decorative elements
8 eps, ai + 8 jpeg, tif / prew / 17,3 Mb

Introducing Carbon, the first full length book showcasing my personal ideas around science fiction art and design. This is a project I'm very excited about, a chance to delve deep and develop the various worlds and concepts that are the result of a life long passion for nature, science, technology, and futuristic science fiction ideas.

These images are explorations I have been working on to develop the design and art direction of the book. It's been a lot of fun to work with concepts springing from the Carbon name. Carbon is the workhorse element of nature, it forms the strongest bonds and is the basis for life as we know it in the universe. Carbon nanotubes and graphene take their hexagonal molecular structure and hold great promise for artificial muscle, advanced building materials, powerful motors, faster computing, and so much more.

Carbon will contain a wealth of exclusive artwork, design, and descriptive text breakdowns, including in depth development of several personal projects that I wish to evolve into short film and video game concepts. In this sense Carbon forms the first step towards turning these dreams into reality.

I'm looking forward to exploring the graphic design of the book, and want to create a bold and exciting product that will be much more than just a collection of art and ideas.

I'm also looking forward to exploring ideas in environment design and story telling, realms I rarely get to delve into with my regular conceptual design work.

I have a heap of artwork for Carbon already, but this is just the start and familiar to anyone who knows my work. The book will allow me the opportunity to really push myself and create fresh new work, to go crazy and expand on some of the more involved ideas I've been thinking about for years. I have a massive pile of sketches ready to be fleshed out, some real exciting stuff!

The kick starter campaign will have to wait till I get back from a trip to the US for Comicon (more on that later), so keep an eye out, it should be something special! Cheers!
Ver el mundo en un grano de arena,
y el cielo en una flor silvestre;
tener el infinito en la palma de la mano
y la eternidad en una hora.
(William Blake en PAPPAS, 1996, pág. 50)

Los seres humanos nos preocupamos tanto por las grandes obras, que las pequeñas acaban destruyendo la posibilidad de llegar a la grandeza. Es una paradoja, pero una paradoja con fuertes fundamentos fácticos que denotan cómo descuidar lo poco, es el más grande de nuestros errores. El presente ensayo partirá de una reflexión metafísica pasando por una económica, pero la intención será trascender hasta, si es posible, una reflexión mística. Partiremos de ser centaveros, con imagen de ambiciosos, para llegar a la gloria infinita... simplemente por el valor de lo pequeño.

Una breve contemplación matemática.

Nubes fractales.
El fractal denota la potencia de esta paradoja,
la parte se ve en el todo y el todo en la parte.
Un cálculo elemental para cualquier persona es la suma de 1 + 1. La unidad pareciese una figura simple y carente de todo significado estético y místico. ¿Qué importa el número uno? ¿Uno no más? Sin embargo, cuando se ve el elevado potencial del uno a nivel matemático, su aparente carencia de significado y su falta de estética, le dan a ese número insignificante, nada dentro del infinito, un valor tan elevado que nos lleva a una paradoja: el uno es nada en comparación con el infinito pero el infinito no es nada sin el uno. ¿Cómo puede surgir tal paradoja en una proporción que todos prácticamente consideramos evidente si sabemos un poco de cálculo y de matemáticas? Evidentemente el infinito ha sido un creador de paradojas como la de Zenón (si cada vez recorro la mitad de lo que me falta ¿cuándo llegaré a la meta?) (PAPPAS, 1996, pág. 50) Sin embargo, esta explicación nos la da Pappas en una cita al pie sobre por qué los números naturales son infinitos: "los números de contar o naturales, son potencialmente infinitos ya que a cualquiera de ellos se le puede sumar uno para llegar al siguiente, pero nunca se puede tener el conjunto completo" (PAPPAS, 1996, pág. 52).

Efectivamente todos los números son "una multitud compuesta de unidades" como decían los pitagóricos y por ello los consideraban la sustancia de todas las cosas (RECAMÁN SANTOS, 2007, pág. 30). Aunque los pitagóricos no consideraban a la unidad (1) como un número, de esta unidad procedían todos los demás que eran la sustancia del universo. "-¿Cuánto es uno y uno y uno y uno y uno y uno y uno? -No lo sé - dijo Alicia-, he perdido la cuenta. -No puedo hacer la suma - dijo la Reina Roja." (CARROL LEWIS [ALICIA EN EL PAÍS DE LAS MARAVILLAS] en RECAMÁN SANTOS, 2007, pág. 109). Efectivamente la suma constante de uno, uno, uno, cada vez va generando un número que ni la Reina Roja podía sumar, ni lo harán los sabios ancianos del rey en un caso que luego se expondrá. 

Los pitagóricos, aunque erraron en lo que es un número tuvieron otros aciertos pues nadie ha visto un uno volando a menos que -como decía un compañero mío del colegio- estuviera sentado en una hamaca bastante trabado. Esto quiere decir que los números no son el mundo sino simples son abstracciones de intuiciones que nos explican el mundo, los pitagóricos sí acertaron en la magnifica intuición que nos remite al poema del comienzo. Es de unidades que se forman las cosas y de unidades que se suman indefinidamente que crecen indefinidamente y van formando pieza por pieza, una por una, el mundo. ¿Qué es una estrella? ¿Qué es un grano de arena? ¿Pero qué es una estrella y otra, y otra, y otra...? ¡El firmamento! Y ¿qué es un grano de arena y otro, y otro, y otro,...? ¡Una playa! Lo mismo podemos decir de las gotas de agua que conforman el mar, de las hojas, de las células que forman nuestro cuerpo. ¿Qué es un átomo? ¡lo que compone el universo!

Deteniéndonos un poco en el tema de las células del cuerpo, nuestra vida comenzó con una célula, que se dividió en dos, en cuatro, en ocho, mórula, blástula, etc, especialización, hasta transformar una vida de una célula en millones de ellas. Podríamos entrar en miles de ejemplos místicos, poéticos que nos lleven a trascender en la contemplación pero eso haría que este escrito fuera infinito. Pues al fin y al cabo, así se comporta la naturaleza que los pitagóricos intuían, una sucesión de unidades que forman el todo, la unidad no es nada frente al todo pero el todo no es nada sin la unidad. Por tal motivo pasaremos de una breve contemplación matemática a un análisis económico.

Del misticismo a la economía.
El Banquero y Su esposa.
¡La diligencia en el cuidado de lo poco!
Últimamente tengo pegada la frase "cuide los centavos que los pesos se cuidan solos". Esta frase se la escuché a mi papá, que entiendo se la escuchó a un empresario antioqueño ya difunto. La sabiduría de esta frase no va en lo sonoro de la misma sino en que puede corroborarse en la práctica. Si las personas gastáramos al nivel que lo hacemos en cosas de pequeña cantidad, nos quedaríamos asombrados de lo pronto que nos quebraríamos. Pondré un ejemplo sencillo. Si una persona tiene un capital de $2.000 pesos colombianos (alrededor de un dólar estadounidense) es muy probable que si le ofrecen algo cuyo valor es de $2.000 se relaje y cambie su dinero por esa cosa ¡No son más que $2.000! Pero si todo su capital líquido es de $50.000 (alrededor de 25 USD) y le ofrecen algo de $50.000 es mucho más probable que se controle y diga ¡es que son $50.000! Pero únicamente bastaría hacer únicamente 25 veces el ejercicio con los $2.000 para haberse gastado los $50.000 en cosas de $2.000. Haga el ejercicio de ahorrar $500 diarios durante un año y obtendrá una suma de $182.500, hágalo con $1.000, $2.000, etc.

En un escrito anterior manifesté lo siguiente:

"De hecho los pobres saben más de finanzas que los ricos. Un rico no sabe cuánto vale un peso porque ese es su día a día, pero una persona pobre sabe verdaderamente cuál es el costo del dinero, el sudor que se requiere para ganar $18.000 (10 Us$ aprox) [Cfr ElAlispruz. En 2010 si se quiere profundizar en el costo del trabajo]. Esto es tan cierto que los modelos financieros exitosos surgieron precisamente de un elevado valor del dinero. Adicionalmente es la razón por la cuál los modelos tecnocráticos e intervencionistas fracasan. (TORO RESTREPO, 2011)"

¿Por qué surgen modelos exitosos con un elevado costo del dinero? El valor de una cosa está relacionado con su escasez, entre más escasa más valiosa, por lo tanto el dinero es mucho más valioso cuando hay poco. Mientras escribo esto recuerdo la gloriosa frase de nuestro presidente Juan Manuel Santos "En Colombia se puede vivir con $190.000 mensuales". Lo glorioso no es tanto que no sea posible (personalmente no lo creo) sino que venga de una persona que ni siquiera sabe cuánto cuesta la gasolina porque tiene choferes y no ha tenido la necesidad de montar en bus. Si a uno le entran $190.000 mensuales tiene que ser bastante inteligente para que con esa suma pueda comer, tener un techo, vestirse y transportarse y si alguien nunca ha tenido el reto de vivir con esa miserable suma... ¿lo hará bien? Mi abuelo materno decía que los mejores financieros son los mendigos porque de $100 en $100 no se asuste si se encuentra al mendigo que pide en el semáforo de la 10 en un vuelo a Santa Marta con usted. Es más complicado cuando la liquidez es mucha pero inconstante, creo yo.

Tributaristas, delincuentes financieros y el valor del dinero.

La vocazione di San Matteo
Recordemos que San Mateo
era un recaudador de impuestos y
él comprende el mensaje de la fidelidad en lo poco.
Los tributaristas son personas MUY INTELIGENTES que trabajan para el sector equivocado, el estado. El estado es una forma de robo menos violenta y menos inútil, pero forzada al fin y al cabo. Paréntesis, admiro a los delincuentes financieros, esos que roban un peso de cada cuenta de un banca, que forman pirámides, etc., porque son perversos, pero comprenden lo mismo que los pitagóricos acerca de la sustancia del mundo. Cualquiera se preguntará ¿por qué pongo a los delincuentes financieros con el sector tributario? Porque ambos piensan estrategias para sacar más de la manera más sutil.

Una de las formas más inteligentes que comprenden el trasfondo del valor del dinero es la invención del Gravamen a los Movimientos Financieros o Cuatro por mil. Si fuera un señor tomando un peso de cada cuenta, diferente del estado, se llamaría Hurto Calificado. El caso es que no estoy anarquista sino que quiero elogiar al creador del 4 X 1000, eh Ave María qué tan inteligente, el problema es ¡por qué te contrató el lado equivocado!

Mil pesos vienen siendo poco, pero cuatro pesos no son nada. Bueno 4 X 1000 no son nada y ¿qué tal 4000 por millón? ¿Duelen $40.000 al mover 10.000.000? ¿Qué tal $400.000 al mover $100.000.000? Si una empresa mueve al año $1.000 millones de pesos $4.000.000 pueden ser fácilmente la nómina de unos cuantos meses a salario mínimo. Miremos el 4 X 1000 desde otra perspectiva.

Si yo pago 1 millón de pesos a otra persona a su cuenta, y ésta a su vez mueve todo ese millón pero pagando el 4 X 1000 y así sucesivamente deduciendo el 4 x 1000, en 27 transacciones, totalmente viables en la velocidad de nuestro sistema financiero, ya se habrá perdido alrededor del 10% de ese valor. O sea si hay una cadena de 27 deudores donde cada uno sea acreedor y deudor de 1.000.000, el 27 avo deberá conseguirse alrededor de $100.000 si cada uno ha venido descontando el 4 x 1000. El cuatro por mil tiene el valor de pasar desapercibido, no se siente su impacto sino cuando se empieza a sumar cada uno de esos gravámenes. 

Si el PIB de 2010 fue de 548. (DANE - DEPARTAMENTO ADMINISTRATIVO NACIONAL DE ESTADÍSTICA, 2011) cifra que confieso no cabe en mi cabeza. Si moviéramos toda esa suma en una transacción serían $2.193,092 millones de pesos. Eso sin contar que son muchas las transacciones lo que implicaría que el recaudo estatal por este impuesto sería gigantesco. 

Granos de arroz, trigo y hambre en el mundo.

Hay algunos personajes que trabajan en la ONU que para discutir el problema del hambre en el mundo llegan llenitos luego de haber pagado los mejores hoteles 5 estrellas en New York. La comida debe ser de la mejor calidad y costosa. Ante esa situación cuando empiezan a discutir el tema con barrigas llenas, observan el problema y ven cómo comer un poquito menos sería bastante costoso y para no sufrir el dolor de ver la pobreza que su despilfarro ocasiona proponen matar a los pobres. Efectivamente, la solución es fácil: "seguimos comiendo igual y despilfarrando igual mientras matamos a aquellos que no pueden despilfarrar como nosotros.".

Sin embargo, el problema del hambre no es de "exceso de población" sino de "desperdicio de comida". Cualquiera dirá que lo hago porque soy pro-vida o porque no creo que el calentamiento global sea ocasionado por el ser humano o como mínimo por la población. Somos 7.000 millones de personas, pero resulta que el número de hormigas ocupa la misma biomasa (o sea pesando TODAS las hormigas de la tierra pesan lo mismo que TODOS los seres humanos) (Chadwick & Moffet, 2011, pág. 86). La fuente del peso de las hormigas, como puede observarse, es la revista National Geographic de mayo de 2011, fuente científica acreditada a nivel mundial.

Ahora bien, tomando en cuenta la misma revista pero del mes de julio tenemos un dato todavía más perverso y más triste sobre alimentación. Citemos la fuente textual. Refiriéndose frente a cómo alimentar un planeta creciente en su tercera solución plantea:
"3. Reducir el desperdicio. Aproximadamente la mitad de las cosechas mundiales desaparecen 'entre el campo y el plato', dice Stockholm International Water Institute. El desperdicio, la desviación para fabricar alimentos para animales y el comportamiento del consumidor son factores que llevan a esto.". (TOMANIO, KLEBER, CASSIDY, WELLS, & BUZBY, 2011)
Según el dato anterior no sería necesario aumentar las cosechas, bastaría que se acabara el desperdicio por el comportamiento desmedido del consumidor. La carencia proviene del derroche y la abundancia de la sobriedad. Cualquier persona pensadora a nivel actual, o sea lectora de periódicos, dirá: "pues que el estado impida el derroche". Sin embargo en ello también está la paradoja de lo poco, eso no lo hará el que tiene mucho poder, sino el pequeño poder de cada persona ante su plato. ¿Cómo entenderlo? Hagamos algunos análisis con gramos...

¿Cuánto pesa un gramo de arroz? De acuerdo con una fuente no tan fiable como Yahoo Answers pero en algo creíble, dice que un grano de arroz pesa 1.16 mg. Si cada persona del mundo desperdicia un grano de arroz, algo insignificante, el desperdicio acumulado sería de 8.12 toneladas. No soy nutricionista pero eso beneficiaría la dieta de miles de personas. El punto es ¿cuántos granos de arroz promedio desperdicia cada persona al día? 

Al respecto de granos y desperdicio partiendo de la unidad hay una sabia leyendo sobre el momento en el que se inventó el ajedrez. El inventor llega ante el rey con el ajedrez y el rey le dice ¿qué puedo darte por esto? El inventor al principio no pidió nada pero ante la insistencia del rey le pidió "ordena que me den un grano de trigo por la primera casilla, dos por la segunda, 4 por la tercera y así sucesivamente hasta completar las 64 casillas." (PERELMAN, 2002, pág. 52). Al rey esto le pareció un insulto al fin y al cabo, sentía que le pedía demasiado poco... unos granitos de trigo no más.

Pero hagamos el esquema matemático de lo que pedía el inventor del ajedrez:


Si organizamos la propuesta en una serie encontraremos que sigue la siguiente secuencia:


Concluyendo que la serie es 1+2^1+...+2^(n-1) por lo tanto por la última casilla recibirá 2^63 granos. 

Plantación de trigo.
No es la foto más hermosa pero se
observa el efecto infinito.
El caso es que sinteticemos la conclusión. Luego de un largo periodo de demora en el conteo de todos los matemáticos del rey veamos lo que pasó:

"-Antes de comenzar tu informe [dice el rey], quiero saber si se ha entregado por fin (...) la mísera recompensa que ha solicitado.
- Precisamente por eso me he atrevido a presentarme tan temprano -contestó el anciano [uno de los sabios del rey]. Hemos calculado escrupulosamente la cantidad total de granos que desea recibir... resulta una cifra tan enorme.
-Sea cual fuere la cifra -le interrumpió con altivez el rey- mis graneros no empobrecerán. He prometido darle esa recompensa, y por lo tanto, hay que entregársela.
-Soberano, o depende de tu voluntad cumplir semejante deseo. En todos tus graneros no existe la cantidad de trigo que exige. Tampoco existe en los graneros de todo el reino. Hasta los graneros del mundo entero son insuficientes. Si deseas entregar sin falta la recompensa prometida, ordena que todos los reinos de la Tierra se conviertan en labrantíos, manda desecar los mares y océanos, ordena fundir el hielo y la nieve que cubren los lejanos desiertos del norte. Que todo el espacio sea totalmente sembrado de trigo, y ordena que toda la cosecha obtenida en estos campos sea entregada [a él]. Sólo entonces recibirá su recompensa.
El rey escuchaba lleno de asombro las palabras del anciano sabio.
-Dime cuál es esa cifra tan monstruosa -dime reflexionando.
-¡Oh soberano! Dieciocho trillones cuatrocientos cuarenta y seis mil setecientos cuarenta y cuatro billones setenta y tres mil setecientos nueve millones quinientos cincuenta y un mil seiscientos quince." (PERELMAN, 2002, pág. 55)
Trascendiendo a lo místico: conclusión.
Desde la V inicial hasta el último paréntesis este escrito consta de unas 2602 palabras y 12559 letras o signos y faltan unas pocas más. El punto es que una por una en unas 3 horas he llegado a tocar el teclado más de 12.600 veces una por una, palabra por palabra, sumando lentamente, pero sumando. Como estamos en navidad no puedo dejar de hacer el comentario místico, porque es el Espíritu Santo el que me inspira a escribir (yo iba a hacer un ensayo sobre por qué hay que ser sobrio, moralista como siempre y acabé partiendo de lo místico a lo económico) y los errores son míos. Ese Neuma, hálito o soplo quizás trabaja con la inmensa cantidad de lo poco, la paradoja de lo pequeño, la simple paloma que se posa. ¿Acaso nadie ha podido comprender que los vientos y las corrientes de aire son el trasfondo de las tormentas, lluvias e inundaciones? Quizás así sea el Espíritu Santo, sea esa pequeña mariposa del océano índico que con su movimiento preciso y conociendo todas las causas que lo influyen genera un huracán en el Atlántico. 

Jesús es el ejemplo de esto. La multiplicación de los panes y los peces muestra cómo de unos pocos panes y peces se alimenta a una muchedumbre y lo que sobra se recoge. Aunque evidentemente es un milagro, no es lo milagroso lo que interesa, sino lo mucho que sale de lo poco su sentido o significado me parece más sorprendente, de la inmensa cantidad de lo poco, el infinito no es nada sin la unidad. Muchos son los ejemplos como el grano de mostaza (aunque lo discuten algunos tecnicistas pero al fin y al cabo de muchas semillas pequeñas salen cosas grandes). Todo el mensaje cristiano está en esa paradoja, un Dios que nace en lo poco pero que trae la más grande de las riquezas..., la salvación. hay que leer a Chesterton para mirar ese sentido cristiano como paradoja. 

En la parábola de los talentos Jesús muestra cómo se confían ciertos bienes a unos trabajadores y aquí sale la frase bíblica que resume el mensaje aquí contenido:

"Has sido fiel en lo poco, te confiaré lo mucho" (Mt. 25 vs 23)

Esa es la inmensa, gigantesca, infinita cantidad de lo poco, de la unidad, lo pequeño o cuasi insignificante. Como los pitagóricos el sustento son las unidades (no los números por lo que ya expliqué) pero cada ente, por más insignificante que sea forma el todo. La sumatoria de cosas insignificantes es lo que produce la grandeza, la sorpresa, aquello invaluable. Sospecho que quizás esa es la lógica del Dios de los ejércitos, la adecuada valoración de lo que a los ojos del mundo es insignificante...

El guayacán y sus flores.
Un árbol que da tributo al cielo y cae humildemente a la tierra para que persista el ciclo de la belleza

Chadwick, D. H., & Moffet, M. W. (Mayo de 2011). HERMANDAD DE TEJEDORAS. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (En Español) , 82-95.

DANE - DEPARTAMENTO ADMINISTRATIVO NACIONAL DE ESTADÍSTICA. (25 de Noviembre de 2011). 'Producto Interno Bruto Departamental, a precios corrientes. '2000 - 2010pr. Miles de millones de pesos. Recuperado el 20 de Diciembre de 2011, de DANE: http://www.dane.gov.co/files/investigaciones/pib/departamentales/B_2005/PIB_Total_habitante_2010.xls

Holmes, N. (Mayo de 2011). Población. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (En Español) .

PAPPAS, T. (1996). LA MAGIA DE LA MATEMÁTICA. El orden oculto tras la naturaleza y el arte. (M. Rosenberg, Trad.) Madrid, España: Zugarto Ediciones S.A.

PERELMAN, Y. (2002). Matemáticas recreativas. (F. Blanco, & C. Pérez, Trads.) Bogotá, Colombia: Planeta Colombiana S.A.


TOMANIO, J., KLEBER, J., CASSIDY, M., WELLS, H., & BUZBY, J. (Julio de 2011). Cómo alimentar un planeta creciente. National Geographic , Sección Hoy (Inpaginado).

TORO RESTREPO, D. (16 de Febrero de 2011). FINANZAS Y CUESTIÓN SOCIAL. REFLEXIONES SOBRE EL SISTEMA FINANCIERO. Recuperado el 20 de Diciembre de 2011, de EL ALISPRUZ: http://elalispruz.blogspot.com/2011/02/finanzas-y-cuestion-social-reflexiones.html

          Ð‘изнес инфографика - стильные ленты-баннеры в векторе | Infographics modern Business elements collection        
Бизнес инфографика - стильные ленты-баннеры в векторе | Infographics modern Business elements collection

Бизнес инфографика - стильные ленты-баннеры в векторе | Infographics modern Business elements collection
16 eps, ai + 16 jpeg, tif / prew / 143,6 Mb

          Elysium | Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop        

No these aren't paid professional models pretending to make cool stuff, these are actual behind the scenes photographs of some of the mega talented Weta Workshop crew hard at work on props for Elysium.

I feel privileged to have been a small part of the team that brought such well built and fantastically functioning elements to life. Seeing these things take shape in the Workshop is truly awesome and never gets old. Massive props to the crew for making our designery scribbles become real and look amazing! It's an honour!

          4 exclusivos consejos para el cuidado de la piel masculina        
El cuidado profundo de la piel no es solo cuestión de mujeres. En la actualidad los expertos mencionan que los hombres están buscando una piel más sana y de apariencia más joven gracias a productos especializados y la asistencia a spas en el centro de Bogotá u otras ciudades. Por ello, la Academia Americana de Dermatología (American Aacademy of dermatology) afirman que es un buen momento para que los varones evalúen la rutina que llevan para cuidar su piel y aprendan acerca de cómo cuidar el órgano más extenso del cuerpo.

Según el dermatólogo Anthony Rossi, profesor asistente de dermatología en el Memorial Sloan Ketterring Cancer Center y, en la Facultad de Medicina, Weill Cornell de Nueva York: â€œel cuidado de la piel en los hombres ya no es tan tabú puesto que más hombres adoptan maneras de cuidar su piel en casa”. Además agrega que aunque existen diferencias fundamentales en la piel de los varones y las damas, los elementos básicos de un plan eficaz siempre seguirán siendo los mismos. Antes de llevar a cabo cuidados, debes reconocer el tipo de piel, de este modo, podrás aprender a cuidarla y seleccionar los productos adecuados para ti.

¿Cuáles son los tipos de piel?

- Piel sensible. Aquella que puede quemarse o generarse un poco de picazón después del uso de algún tipo de producto facial.
- Piel normal. Es clara y no es sensible.
- Piel seca. Suele ser escamosa, algunos productos ocasionan que se produzca comezón y asperezas.
- Piel aceitosa. Siempre tiene un aspecto brillante y grasosa.
- Piel mixta. Como su palabra lo indica, son aquellas pieles que se evidencia en algunas zonas secas y en otras grasosas.

Los expertos recomiendan estos cuidados con tu piel… ¡Toma nota y síguelos!

Nº1. Diariamente lávate la cara después de hacer ejercicio

Primero, el jabón regular de barra tiende a dejar áspera la piel, por ello, utiliza productos especiales. Segundo, después de hacer ejercicio en centro de actividad física o en los recomendados gimnasios – spa en Bogotá norte, su piel está agotada y los poros abiertos. Por consiguiente, toda limpieza que realice ocasionará que su piel vuelva a lucir con vitalidad y renovada.

Nº2. No descuide su técnica de afeitar

Analiza qué tipo de cuchilla te funciona mejor: aquellas que son multi-cuchillas o bien, las que cuentan con una o dos cuchillas. Además, nunca estires tu piel mientras te afeitas. Adicionalmente, recuerda humedecer tu piel y la barba y, utilizar crema para afeitar. Lo mejor es que te afeites en la dirección del crecimiento de la barba.

Nº3. Utiliza protector solar

Cuando usas protector solar ayudas a prevenir el daño que puede causar en tu piel  previniendo arrugas, manchas e inclusive cáncer de piel. Recomendable es que adquiera productos resistentes al agua, con amplio espectro con un FPS de 30 o superior. Por supuesto, aplícalo cada dos horas para mayor protección durante el día.

Nº4. Tratamientos faciales

En este punto, debes pensar en los tratamientos especializados que, centros de estética en Chico y otros lugares de la ciudad, ofrecen con la gran intención de limpiar de maner
a profunda tu piel y rostro. Los tratamientos que brinda Elena del Mar han sido  pensados especialmente en tus requerimientos y por ello, podrás tener acceso a una grandiosa limpieza facial completa. O bien, si quieres algo más especializado podrías pensar en el procedimiento que te brinda un efecto tensor donde obtendrás 1 hidratación, 2 radiofrecuencias y 2 lifting para que reafirmes cada parte de tu piel.

Elena del Mar es tu aliado en belleza y cuidado facial y corporal

Somos un centro de estética facial en Cafam Floresta que se ubica, además, en otros sectores de la ciudad con el gran objetivo de ofrecerle facilidades al momento de llegar a nosotros. Adicionalmente, le brindamos la gran posibilidad de mantenerse en forma y con un cuerpo 10 gracias a nuestras instalaciones de gimnasio. De este modo, no solo cuidará su aspecto facial sino también corporal, porque nuestro principal objetivo es que equilibres tu mente y cuerpo.

Lógralo gracias a Elena del Mar. Visítanos e inicia tu tratamiento facial y corporal. Además, podrás enterarte de fabulosos planes empresariales de spa en Bogotá.

          Clear Quartz Healing Stone : A Quartz for Everyone        

Clear Quartz Healing Stone : A Gift from the Earth

Clear Quartz embodies the concept of clarity and the value of becoming a vessel for the light of the Divine. It brings clarity of thought and purpose to one’s

The post Clear Quartz Healing Stone : A Quartz for Everyone appeared first on The Golden Triangle.

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz

Valentine’s day is just around the corner. A lot of people is already plan ahead for a romantic dinner in her/his special restaurant. Things to do on Valentine’s day you can find easily on Google. The

The post ROSE QUARTZ – HEART CHAKRA STONE appeared first on The Golden Triangle.

          PAID CCCAM FULL HD         
Premium CCcam


We are ready to offer you one of the best server you have ever tried. A lot of packages with a lot of local cards low ecm time. One of the most stable server ever with the best support. You will be convinced for that after testing your server..

a) 3 Days (test) ==> 1$
b) 1 Month ==> 5$
c) 2 Month ==> 9.5$
$d) 3 Month == > 14 

For Test 1 $ For 3 days or free download from our Site 

packages available on the server
BIS TV (13E/5W/19E/12W)

CanalSat France (19E)


Sky Italia (13E) not available at the moment will update when available

TNT Sat (19E)

HD+ (19E)


Canal+ Nederland (19E/23E)


Kabel Kiosk/DigitAlb

TV Cabo,zon

Digital+ (19E)(30W/19E),

SKY Germany/SKY Germany Extra (19E)

SKY UK (28E)

TivuSat (13E)

POLSAT HD Mediaset Premium (13E/5W), Polsat HD, Polsat HD


Cyfra+ VOD, Cyfra+ (13E)

yes (4W)

Mediaset Premium


RTL/UPC Direct (13E/19E/1W), RTL (13E), UPC Direct (1W/19E)

Polaris (39E)[Deltacom]

pink tv

SRG Swiss (1

new one just contact us


          Nintendo's next mobile game is tactical RPG Fire Emblem Heroes, coming to Android in February        

fe headSuper Mario Run is still a no-show for Android (Nintendo said just today that it's aiming for a March release), but there's another classic franchise coming to the Play Store in just a couple of weeks. Fire Emblem Heroes, the first mobile entry in a long-running series of tactical strategy games, will arrive on Android on February 2nd. Like Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes adapts familiar elements of the franchise in new ways for mobile players.

Read More

Nintendo's next mobile game is tactical RPG Fire Emblem Heroes, coming to Android in February was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

          Comentariu la Conceptul al stației unice pentru transportul public mun. Bălți de către Andrei        
Statia nr.1 - Apa de ploaie se va scurge peste oamenii care asteapta in statie?! Statia nr.2 - Textul din partea de sus se afla pe o suprafata inclinata, nu cred ca e bine asa. Unghiuri ascutite, elemente de constructie mai complicate drept rezultat cost de productie mai mare. Statia nr.3 - Aleg asta numai pentru ca mi se pare mai potrivita decat precedentele variante.
          Comentariu la Conceptul al stației unice pentru transportul public mun. Bălți de către Adrian        
Statia 2 e frumoasa, d'ar trebuie de luat bine iin considerare, aspects ca cetateanul turmentat, care va incerca sa sparga sticla, sau sa scoata partea verde, din décor. Plus dezavantaj daca bate ploaie din directia fata, statia nu protejeza, iar la vant puternic, elementele vor fi la fel scoase din décor. Pentru cetatean sunt bune lucrurile frumoase, dar simple, si usor de intretinut, pentru primaire. Adica de vazut cat Costa nu atat toata statua initial, ci rapiditate si pretul alementelor din care e facuta, pentru a fi reparata, rapid si cu costuri minime. Pentru mine statia 3 e mai potrivita
          Building a Powerful Contact List: Key Tactics for Making the Random Walk a Little Less Random        
By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Building up a substantial contact list is crucial to any startup especially as they approach the commercial launch of their first product or service.  This list will be used by your commercial team to recruit alpha and beta evaluators, find strategic partners and of course uncover customers.  One of the key […]
          Building Strong Technology Companies One Royalty Deal at a Time        
By:  Robert Benson, Ph.D. How to write license agreements to ensure monitoring and auditing is as simple as possible. This was the topic of a seminar (“Licensing Compliance – Getting What You Negotiated – Pitfalls and Best Practices”) hosted recently by MATTO (Massachusetts Association of Technology Transfer Offices).  This event was mainly attended by tech […]
          The Next Two People You Need to Start Up Your Startup        
By: Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. It seems that every week there is an article or post that bemoans the shortage of innovation in America.  However, this is not due to a lack of great ideas and the pace of discovery in the labs across the nation.  The problem is getting the right team to lead and […]
          Are we there yet? The Secret to Keeping your Company on Track        
By: Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Every summer as a kid, my family would pile in the car and drive to beautiful Lake Champlain, Vermont for a week of fun and relaxation.  The car ride itself felt like a quick detour to the 9th circle of a place a little less nice than Lake Champlain.  This was […]
          Encontro Grupo Orion - Educação Ativa        

Dias 14 e 15 de agosto - 19 as 21 h - Contribuição consciente - Quintal da Ninho
Com Margarita Valencia, Esperanza Chacon e Edgar Espinosa (Equador)

É hoje comprovado que uma pessoa amada e respeitada, nas suas verdadeiras necessidades em cada uma de suas etapas de desenvolvimento, se tornará um adulto que convive em paz e respeito consigo mesmo, com seus iguais e com a natureza, se tornando co-construtor de um planeta com as mesmas características.
Estes sãos os parâmetros que norteiam a educação ativa, uma perspectiva sobre a educação que nos permite construir uma vida em harmonia com as nossas crianças e adolescentes. Esta vertente se baseia em etapas sobre o desenvolvimento do ser humano realizadas por Jeanne Piaget e no conceito de “autopoyesis” do Humberto Maturama, dentre outros, que ressalta que na vida/natureza jamais existem relações instrutivas.
Esta palestra apresentará um conteúdo sobre a Educação Ativa como Alternativa de Convivência no Amor e Respeito entre Adultos e Crianças, , como uma oportunidade de aprofundar estes e outros elementos básicos de respeito aos processos de vida e acompanhamento adequado ao crescimento da criança e o adolescente, incorporando também insumos da vivencia de uma escola referencia mundial na área, em Equador: a escola Pestalozzi.

Serão também apresentados elementos importantes para resolver os inúmeros desafios no lar e na escola, como os de criar ambientes que satisfaçam as necessidades individuais de acordo com a idade e permitir a autonomia necessária para que a aprendizagem se faça de dentro para fora.

          Proyecto de Curso de Capacitación y Actualización Sindical        


La continua capacitación de los hombres y mujeres que representan a los obreros en las distintas plantas de empaque de la Seccional General Roca, es necesaria para que el accionar de estos representantes sean los adecuados en la defensa de los derechos de sus compañeros ante la patronal. Una de las propuestas que la conducción actual llevaba en su plataforma electoral en las últimas elecciones, era lo referente a la capacitación gremial de los delegados y demás dirigentes del sindicato de la fruta.

La Comisión Directiva de la Seccional General Roca del Sindicato de Obreros Empacadores de Frutas de Río Negro Y Neuquén, están convencidos de que este es un momento propicio para encarar este desafío, con la intención de aportar una formación cualitativa para que la acción de los dirigentes sindicales y delegados de plantas de empaque sea acorde a las necesidades actuales, con la convicción de que sólo a través de delegados capacitados y concientes de su rol, se puede confiar en la construcción de un sindicalismo moderno y responsable.

No nos precede experiencia en esta área y será necesario mucho esfuerzo, colaboración y participación de todos los que tenemos algún grado de responsabilidad en la representación de los trabajadores, esto así porque la defensa de los derechos de los obreros de la fruta a sido y será un compromiso que hemos asumido, y que así lo hicimos porque tenemos vocación de servicio.

Para lograr esta meta, y advirtiendo que la Asociación Civil “Gestar, promoviendo el desarrollo humano” tenía como principal inquietud la formación ciudadana, es que nos hemos unido para consumar el fin propuesto por ambas instituciones: la del Sindicato para mejorar la defensa de los derechos laborales de los trabajadores del sector, la de la Asociación Civil “Gestar” para tener ciudadanos cada vez más consientes de sus derechos y con conocimientos del modo de ejercerlos.

Esperamos lograr, a través de esta mancomunación de esfuerzo e ideales, mejores representantes gremiales y, en el proceso, mejores ciudadanos.

Comisión Directiva Sindicato de la Fruta- Seccional General Roca

Comisión Directiva- Asociación Civil “Gestar, promoviendo el desarrollo humano"


En los tiempos que corren se hace cada vez más necesaria la capacitación gremial, pues muchos de los delegados y demás dirigentes actúan en base a sus propias experiencias, la que lleva a un aprendizaje de prueba y error, y cuando se cometen errores en la defensa de los derechos laborales, los únicos perjudicados son los trabajadores que ven vulnerados sus derechos sociales. Con esto no queremos menospreciar la experiencia, pero a esto en necesario sumarle otros conocimientos.

Así, se hace cada vez más importante el acceso al conocimiento, pues este constituye un valor central, una necesidad y un derecho inalienable de los trabajadores. El conocimiento, en la hora actual, tiene un peso decisivo en la discusión con las empresas en la defensa de los intereses de los compañeros trabajadores del empaque.

El conocimiento es una herramienta indispensable, y se constituye en condición para pensar, proponer, defender y concretar estrategias de política sindical, educación no formal y acción social.

En el marco de este proyecto de capacitación, que en principio apunta a lo sindical o gremial, nos proponemos como meta, que sea mucho más amplio y abarcativo, ya sea en cuanto a los temas a desarrollar como también a los destinatarios; pensada para brindar posibilidades de acceso a todos aquellos a quienes la deseen, basándose en la solidaridad, la unidad y el reconocimiento de las experiencias previas de cada uno de los representantes de los obreros del empaque. De esta forma es posible integrar y reconciliar a los trabajadores de la fruta con su Sindicato.

También es necesario que la capacitación reconozca la diversidad y la diferencia de niveles y experiencias que traen los trabajadores, para de esta forma poner en práctica un principio básico de la sociedad: la igualdad de oportunidades.

Con este Curso de Capacitación Gremial buscamos dar respuesta a la necesidad de contar en los lugares de trabajo, con delegados que sepan representar los intereses de sus compañeros mostrando la solvencia necesaria para estar a la altura de la compleja realidad que presentan actualmente las relaciones laborales.


En esta primera etapa, la meta general es que quienes representan a los trabajadores estén preparados desde todos los aspectos (capacidad para negociar, asesorar, debatir, criticar, proponer, etc.) para realizar la tarea para la que sus propios compañeros lo han elegido.


El objetivo que se propone es:

  • Capacitar a los representantes gremiales de los conocimientos necesarios que les posibiliten transformarse en líderes en sus respectivos lugares de trabajo, así como actualizarlos en la nueva legislación aplicable al sector.
  • Resaltar el conocimiento y la preparación como un elemento central en la tarea de la defensa de los derechos de los trabajadores.
  • Posibilitar el mejoramiento de la negociación contractual, logrando enriquecer y revitalizar el accionar sindical.
  • Acrecentar la credibilidad de los dirigentes del sindicato ante la mirada de los compañeros trabajadores del empaque, lo que posibilitara un mejor posicionamiento ante los empresarios.
  • Resaltar valores tales como compañerismo, solidaridad, respeto a derechos y opiniones de terceros, ética, asociativismo, compromiso, responsabilidad, vocación de servicio.


Sede Gremial del Sindicato de Obreros Empacadores de Frutas de Río Negro y Neuquén de esta Seccional, sito en calle Misiones 1675 de General Roca.


Se hará a través de seminarios, cursos o talleres, siendo este último el método más propicio para que puedan darse una serie de intercambio de conocimientos y experiencias entre los participantes. Los encuentros se realizaran los días sábados, cuyas fechas tentativas están especificadas en el Programa Curricular, con una duración de 3 1/2 (Tres y media) horas reloj por encuentro, totalizando 42 horas al finalizar el Curso, haciéndose entrega del certificado correspondiente.


Los beneficiarios directos de estos encuentros de capacitación serán unas 65 personas entre delegados e integrantes de Comisión Directiva.


Los trabajadores representados por los asistentes, calculados en más de 2.500 trabajadores.

COSTO DE LA CAPACITACIÓN: El costo del curso de la capacitación será afrontado con recursos de la Seccional General Roca del Sindicato de Obreros Empacadores de Frutas de Rio Negro y Neuquén y por la Asociación civil “Gestar, promoviendo el desarrollo humano”.

PROGRAMA CURRICULAR (con fechas tentativas de cursado)












CERTIFICADOS: Se extenderán certificados a quienes hayan cumplido con el 70% de asistencia.

EXPOSITORES: Cada uno de los temas será abordado por profesionales y/o personas idóneas en cada una de las temáticas a desarrollar.

FORMULACION, COORDINACION Y ORGANIZACIÓN: Lo realizará la Asociación Civil “Gestar, promoviendo el desarrollo humano”, pues este tipo de capacitación esta contemplado entre los objetivos estatutarios de la mencionada asociación civil, habiendo sido convocada por la gremial para la formulación del proyecto, la coordinación y organización de cada uno de los módulos, como así encargada de contratar a los distintos expositores.

Comisión Directiva Sindicato de la Fruta- Seccional General Roca

Comisión Directiva- Asociación Civil “Gestar, promoviendo el desarrollo humano”

          RESOLUCION LAUDO NRO. 1/09        

B.O. 13/03/09 - ST - Laudo 1/09 - Define incremento Concepto “Sueldo Básico” correspondiente a la Categoría Embalador de Primera de la escala salarial


Laudo Nº 1/2009

Bs. As., 27/2/2009

VISTO el Expediente Nº 101.214/08 del Registro del MINISTERIO DE TRABAJO, EMPLEO Y SEGURIDAD SOCIAL, y


Que por el Expediente citado en el visto tramitó la negociación mantenida, en los términos de las leyes Nº 20.744 (t.o 1976 y sus modificatorias), 14.250 (t.o. 2004) y 25.877, entre el SINDICATO DE OBREROS EMPACADORES DE FRUTA DE RIO NEGRO Y NEUQUEN y la CAMARA ARGENTINA DE FRUTICULTORES INTEGRADOS, en relación a las escalas salariales para la actividad de empaque de frutas frescas, en el ámbito de las Provincias de RIO NEGRO y NEUQUEN, con vigencia a partir del 1º de enero del año 2009.

Que luego de sucesivas audiencias celebradas ante la autoridad de aplicación, con fecha 16 de enero de 2009, ante el inicio de medidas de acción directa, se encuadró el conflicto en el marco de la Ley Nº 14.786, iniciándose un período de Conciliación Obligatoria por el plazo de CINCO (5) días, que en una primera etapa no fue acatado por el sindicato, tema éste ajeno a la cuestión en análisis.

Que con fecha 23 de enero de 2009 se dispuso la prórroga del período de Conciliación Obligatoria, por el término de DIEZ (10) días a partir de la CERO HORA del día 24 de enero de 2009.

Que con fecha 23 de enero de 2009, en la audiencia celebrada al efecto, la autoridad de aplicación propuso someter a las partes a un laudo en los términos y alcances de la Ley Nº 14.786, en razón de poder alcanzar una justa composición de intereses que garantice el mantenimiento de la paz social en la región, atento a los hechos de público conocimiento que han acontecido en la región del Alto Valle.

Que con fecha 24 de enero de 2009, la CAMARA ARGENTINA DE FRUTICULTORES INTEGRADOS manifestó su disponibilidad para encauzar la solución del conflicto por la vía del laudo arbitral, en tanto se den las condiciones para ello.

Que con fecha 25 de enero de 2009, el SINDICATO DE OBREROS EMPACADORES DE FRUTA DE RIO NEGRO Y NEUQUEN manifestó su acatamiento a las disposiciones que encuadraran el conflicto en los términos de la Ley Nº 14.786 y, en consecuencia, aceptó someterse al laudo propuesto por la autoridad de aplicación.

Que con fecha 27 de enero de 2009, se celebró una nueva audiencia en la sede central del MINISTERIO DE TRABAJO, EMPLEO y SEGURIDAD SOCIAL, destinada a consensuar los términos del compromiso arbitral.

Que luego de un breve cuarto intermedio, las partes aceptaron la cláusula propuesta por la autoridad de aplicación y suscribieron de común acuerdo el compromiso respectivo. Asimismo, ratificaron el contenido general del acuerdo celebrado el 7 de enero de 2008 y en especial la estructura de la escala salarial y los premios que surgen del convenio suscripto en dicha fecha.

Que en cuanto al procedimiento a sustanciarse, las partes acordaron que el árbitro sea designado por el MINISTERIO DE TRABAJO, EMPLEO y SEGURIDAD SOCIAL, dándose un traslado de UN (1) día para que ejerzan el derecho a que hubiera lugar. A su vez, se pactó el término de CINCO (5) días hábiles a los fines de ofrecer y producir la prueba, la que limitan exclusivamente a la informativa e instrumental, y dentro del mismo plazo presentar una memoria escrita, dándose luego un plazo común de DOS (2) días hábiles para alegar.

Que las partes establecieron que el cómputo del plazo indicado para el ofrecimiento, producción de prueba y presentación de memoria escrita corre a partir del día hábil siguiente a aquel en que quede firme la designación del árbitro. El cómputo del plazo previsto para alegar se contará a partir del día hábil siguiente al del cierre período de prueba.

Que finalmente, las partes estipularon que el árbitro dispondrá de un plazo de DIEZ (10) días hábiles para emitir su laudo, plazo que comenzará a correr a partir del día hábil siguiente del vencimiento del plazo para alegar.

Que mediante el artículo 2º de la Resolución de la SECRETARIA DE TRABAJO Nº 98 de fecha 2 de febrero de 2009 se designó al Dr. Leonardo Jesús AMBESI (M.I. Nº 18.317.925) cómo árbitro en el presente proceso de arbitraje voluntario.

Que con fecha 3 de febrero de 2009, el citado se notificó y aceptó el cargo para el que fuera designado, en tanto las partes quedaron notificadas de dicho dispositivo con fecha 5 de febrero de 2009, sin formular observación alguna.

Que con fecha 12 de febrero de 2009, las partes realizaron sus presentaciones, en tanto con fecha 13 de febrero de 2009 se ordenó su traslado y se clausuró la etapa probatoria, pasando los autos para alegar.

Que con fecha 16 de febrero de 2009 se notificó de lo precedentemente dispuesto la parte empresaria, en tanto que, con fecha 17 de febrero de 2009, hizo lo propio la parte sindical.

Que las partes presentaron sendos escritos dentro del plazo estipulado para alegar, pasando los autos a resolver con fecha 19 de febrero de 2009.

Que con fecha 23 de febrero de 2009, el Dr. Leonardo Jesús AMBESI decidió excusarse para continuar desempeñándose como árbitro en las presentes actuaciones, por las razones expuestas en el expediente de referencia, lo que originó el dictado de la Resolución de la SECRETARIA DE TRA BAJO Nº 258 de fecha 24 de febrero de 2009, por la cual se aceptó la excusación del mencionado y se designó a la suscripta como árbitro.

Que en este estado, con carácter previo, corresponde el tratamiento preliminar de cuestiones incidentales arrimadas por las partes, a fin de despejar el sendero que conduce al análisis sustantivo del asunto sometido a laudo arbitral.

Que en primer término, cabe aludir a la reserva expresada por la CAMARA ARGENTINA DE FRUTICULTORES INTEGRADOS en su escrito de alegato, donde impugna el contenido de la memoria y alegato presentados por el sector sindical, lo que a su parecer, derivaría en una violación a su derecho de defensa, por afectar el principio de contradicción.

Que al respecto, debe advertirse que, tal como se ha dicho, los términos del procedimiento han sido fijados de común acuerdo por las partes y, en el caso de las memorias y alegatos, no existen pautas expresas en lo relativo a las modalidades de cada presentación, más allá de los límites impuestos a los medios de prueba (cfr. fojas 80).

Que desde esta perspectiva, la riqueza u orfandad de los argumentos desplegados por las partes constituyen un motivo de consideración por el Arbitro pero en modo alguno pueden derivar en una causal que afecte la validez del procedimiento por ellas mismas articulado; máxime, cuando se encuentra registrado el pleno acceso a las actuaciones y a las posiciones interpuestas por la contraria.

Que en otro orden, la parte sindical ha expresado, en su alegato, el presunto perjuicio causado por parte del sector empresario en razón de la falta de convocatoria en término al personal, limitando así la temporada laboral.

Que al respecto, dichas circunstancias forman parte de la etapa previa a la formulación del compromiso arbitral y no se encuentran expresamente detalladas en los puntos acordados previamente, por lo que no pueden ser materia de evaluación del arbitraje, ceñido al temario estipulado por las partes.

Que delimitado el marco general por el que transitará el presente laudo, corresponde expedirse sobre la sustancia sometida a consideración.

Que los puntos sometidos al arbitraje voluntario son los siguientes:

1- Definir el incremento que debe ser aplicado a cada uno de los rubros remunerativos y no remunerativos que surgen de la escala salarial vigente para la actividad al 31 de diciembre de 2008 y que fuera pactada por las partes en fecha 7 de enero de 2008, respetándose la misma estructura y premios.

2- Definir el incremento sobre los premios por productividad previstos en acuerdos vigentes a nivel de las empresas comprendidas en el CCT 1/76, aplicándose en las mismas condiciones de tiempo, modo y lugar que rige de cada empresa conforme lo acordado por empleadores y sus trabajadores para la temporada anterior.

Que sobre el particular, las partes refieren que sus últimas posiciones en relación a los puntos acordados finalmente para someter al arbitraje, son las indicadas en el acta suscripta en esta misma fecha antes de pasar al cuarto intermedio.

Que ello significa que para la parte sindical el incremento salarial debería fijarse en un TREINTA Y CINCO POR CIENTO (35%), estimando que el incremento sobre los premios por productividad previstos en los acuerdos vigentes a nivel de empresas, también debería fijarse en un TREINTA Y CINCO POR CIENTO (35%).

Que por el contrario, para la parte empresaria el incremento salarial debería fijarse en un VEINTIUNO POR CIENTO (21%), en tanto correspondería establecer el incremento sobre los premios por productividad previstos en los acuerdos vigentes a nivel de empresas en un DIEZ POR CIENTO (10%).

Que de los antecedentes reseñados surge la existencia de una divergencia apreciable en las posturas mantenidas por las partes así como en la interpretación que realizan de la abundante prueba documental aportada.

Que sin perjuicio de ello, a pesar de la disparidad en evidencia, surge un elemento probatorio común, aportado por ambos sectores, que se identifica como “Costos referenciales de producción y empaque”, Convenio I.N.T.A. - U.N.C. - S.F.R.N., para las Temporadas 2006-2007, 2007-2008 y 2008-2009 (ver puntos 3.c., 3.d. y 3.e. de la presentación sindical y Anexo VIII de la presentación empresaria, referido a las dos últimas temporadas).

Que dicho instrumento, en su punto titulado “Retribución de la mano de obra”, expresa: “La cantidad de personal afectado al proceso de empaque varía según la capacidad y eficiencia de la planta de empaque.

Dada la diversidad de situaciones presentes en el sector del empaque de la región, no es posible determinar un único modelo representativo del mismo, más aún cuando no existe una relación directa entre tamaño del establecimiento/productividad/costos.

Esto se confirma al realizar un relevamiento de los costos asociados a la contratación de mano de obra en el sector. Surge allí la disparidad que existe en el costo laboral entre las diferentes empresas debido tanto a la relación laboral (convenio, cooperativas de trabajo) como a la productividad alcanzada” (cfr. punto 2.3.-).

Que lo expuesto refleja las características singulares de la actividad, que no permiten, en principio, adoptar conclusiones genéricas en uno u otro sentido.

Que ante ello, debe recordarse, como lo ha sostenido la doctrina, que “...es una realidad incontrastable que el conflicto forma parte de la vida social y en particular de las relaciones laborales, su contracara inexcusable debe ser la construcción de medios o procedimientos de solución de conflictos, aprovechando las herramientas e institutos que nos brinda el Derecho del Trabajo, a fin de que los efectos del conflicto recurrentemente inevitable, se minimicen en sus alcances cuantitativos, cualitativos y de duración, para beneficio de los actores sociales y de la sociedad en su conjunto” (cfr. RIMOLDI, Alberto, “Métodos alternativos de solución de conflictos en la negociación colectiva”, Derecho del Trabajo, noviembre 2005, pág. 1557).

Que en ese sentido, cabe aclarar que, aun cuando el arbitraje constituye una garantía constitucional reconocida al sujeto gremial (art. 14 bis C.N.), ello no obsta a reconocer su génesis como producto de la negociación. Así, se ha dicho: “La afirmación que alguna doctrina formula respecto del carácter transaccional del Derecho del Trabajo quizás pueda ser discutida en lo que hace al derecho individual del trabajo, pero parece más difícil negarla en lo que hace al derecho colectivo. Es de la esencia de esta rama tanto el conflicto como su superación por vía de la negociación. El arbitraje voluntario es precisamente el resultado de una negociación” (cfr. SIMON, Julio César - PAVLOV, Federico, “El renacer de un viejo remedio”, La Ley, Suplemento Convenios Colectivos, marzo 2007, pág. 3).

Que con lo expuesto, la suscripta ha deseado poner de relieve la naturaleza particular que reviste esta clase de arbitrajes, destinados a superar el cerco formado por las posiciones rígidas de los contendientes.

Que en este contexto, es dable interrogarse acerca de la pauta a tomar en cuenta para resolver las cuestiones planteadas. La respuesta se encuentra en los recientes pronunciamientos de nuestro Máximo Tribunal de Justicia, en donde se ha destacado que: “... en la relación y contrato de trabajo se ponen en juego, en lo que atañe a intereses particulares, tanto los del trabajador como los del empleador, y ninguno de ellos debe ser descuidado por las leyes. Sin embargo, lo determinante es que, desde el ángulo constitucional, el primero es sujeto de preferente tutela...” (CSJN, 14/09/2004, “Vizzoti, Carlos c/AMSA”, La Ley, Suplemento Especial Septiembre de 2004).

Que tal concepción ha sido integrada por el tribunal con la interpretación brindada a la garantía constitucional de asegurar “condiciones dignas y equitativas de labor, donde se enuncia un mandato que se proyecta sobre los restantes contenidos de la norma que, sin perder su identidad y autonomía, también son susceptibles de integrar el concepto de condiciones de labor. De allí que “equitativo” significa justo en el caso concreto (v. fallo citado).

Que en consecuencia, el arbitraje en el conflicto colectivo de intereses constituye una solución derivada de la negociación y no puede obviar ese origen transaccional pero a la vez, debe atender los principios y criterios que informan la relación laboral y la posición de cada una de las partes.

Que respecto al modo de resolver, se ha facultado a la suscripta para definir el incremento de cada uno de los rubros remunerativos y no remunerativos que surgen de la escala salarial vigente, con el único límite de respetar la misma estructura y premios.

Que esto implica la posibilidad, en el marco antes descrito, de adecuar individualmente los rubros señalados, en tanto y en cuanto no se altere el diseño general apuntado.

Que, como se señalara, la estructura salarial contiene un detalle de conceptos vinculados al Salario o Sueldo Básico junto a otros de valor fijo, siendo de naturaleza remunerativa y no remunerativa.

Que ello motiva la necesidad de establecer el aumento en tales rubros de manera diferenciada, a fin de alcanzar una recomposición equilibrada y efectiva de cada uno de los conceptos que integran la grilla salarial.

Que por lo expuesto, teniendo en cuenta lo anteriormente manifestado y la información aportada por las partes, se estima adecuado incrementar en un VEINTICINCO POR CIENTO (25%) el Sueldo Básico correspondiente a la Categoría de Embalador de Primera, máximo nivel de la grilla, con vigencia a partir del ámbito temporal fijado para el laudo.

Que en función del nuevo valor se calcularán los Conceptos de “Temporada” y “Presentismo”, de acuerdo a los porcentajes vigentes y se relacionarán en forma proporcional decreciente las restantes categorías y especialidades, de conformidad con la estructura salarial vigente.

Que asimismo, se estima pertinente incrementar la suma a percibir por el ítem “Reducción al Ausentismo”, en PESOS CUARENTA ($ 40.-), para la categoría de Embalador de Primera, con la relación proporcional decreciente que ello tendrá en las restantes categorías y especialidades, de conformidad con la estructura salarial vigente.

Que asimismo, se entiende necesario incrementar la suma remunerativa existente en PESOS CIEN ($ 100.-) y la suma no remunerativa existente en PESOS CIENTO VEINTE ($ 120.-), a fin de mantener una vinculación razonable en la estructura salarial aplicable, y posibilitar que la recomposición impacte a la totalidad de las Categorías.

Que en cuanto al aumento sobre valores actuales de los premios por productividad previstos en los acuerdos vigentes a nivel de empresas, se estima equitativo fijar su incremento en un DIECISIETE POR CIENTO (17%).

Que por último, debe dejarse constancia que el laudo arbitral tiene carácter de fuente de derecho conforme el artículo 1º, inciso c), de la Ley Nº 20.744 (t.o. 1976 y sus modificatorias) y los efectos de una convención colectiva de trabajo cuyo cumplimiento es obligatorio, en los términos de la Ley Nº 14.250 (t.o. 2004).

Por ello,



ARTICULO 1º — Definir el incremento del Concepto “Sueldo Básico” correspondiente a la Categoría Embalador de Primera de la escala salarial vigente para la actividad al 31 de diciembre de 2008 y que fuera pactada por las partes en fecha 7 de enero de 2008, en un VEINTICINCO POR CIENTO (25%), sobre los valores actuales, con vigencia a partir del 1º de enero de 2009 y hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2009.

En función del nuevo valor se calcularán los conceptos de “Temporada” y “Presentismo”, de acuerdo a los porcentajes vigentes, y se relacionarán en forma proporcional decreciente las restantes categorías y especialidades, de conformidad con la estructura salarial vigente.

ARTICULO 2º — Definir el incremento del Concepto “Reducción al Ausentismo” de la escala salarial vigente para la actividad a l 31 de diciembre de 2008 y que fuera pactada por las partes en fecha 7 de enero de 2008, en el monto de PESOS CUARENTA ($ 40.-) sobre los valores actuales, con vigencia a partir del 1º de enero de 2009 hasta el 31 de enero de 2009, el cual se relacionará en forma proporcional decreciente para las restantes categorías y especialidades, de acuerdo a la estructura salarial vigente.

ARTICULO 3º — Definir el incremento del Concepto “Suma Remunerativa” de la escala salarial vigente para la actividad al 31 de diciembre de 2008 y que fuera pactada por las partes en fecha 7 de enero de 2008, en el monto de PESOS CIEN ($ 100.-), sobre los valores actuales, con vigencia a partir del 1º de enero de 2009 hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2009.

ARTICULO 4º — Definir el incremento del Concepto “Suma No Remunerativa” de la escala salarial vigente para la actividad al 31 de diciembre de 2008 y que fuera pactada por las partes en fecha 7 de enero de 2008, en el monto de PESOS CIENTO VEINTE ($ 120.-), sobre los valores actuales, con vigencia a partir del 1º de enero de 2009 hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2009.

ARTICULO 5º — Establécese, en consecuencia, la siguiente escala salarial que regirá a partir del 1º de enero de 2009 y hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2009, correspondiente a la categoría de embalador de primera y cuyas sumas serán abonadas en forma proporcional decreciente a las otras categorías y especialidades, cuando así corresponda y conforme a la estructura salarial vigente:

Salario Básico: PESOS UN MIL QUINIENTOS                ($ 1.500.-).
Temporada (10%): PESOS CIENTO CINCUENTA                ($ 150.-).
Presentismo (30%): PESOS CUATROCIENTOS CINCUENTA       ($ 450.-).
Reducción al Ausentismo: PESOS DOSCIENTOS              ($ 200.-).
Suma Remunerativa: PESOS TRESCIENTOS                   ($ 310.-).
Sub-total Remunerativo: PESOS DOS MIL SEISCIENTOS DIEZ ($ 2.610.-).
Suma No Remunerativa: PESOS CUATROCIENTOS SETENTA      ($ 470.-).
Total: PESOS TRES MIL OCHENTA ------------------------ ($ 3.080.).

Las Horas Extras al CINCUENTA POR CIENTO (50%) y CIEN POR CIENTO (100%) se calcularán conforme la normativa aplicable.

ARTICULO 6º — Establécese un incremento del DIECISIETE POR CIENTO (17%) sobre los valores actuales de los premios de productividad previstos en los acuerdos vigentes a nivel de empresas, comprendidas en el C.C.T. Nº 1/76, aplicándose en las mismas condiciones de tiempo, modo y lugar que rige en cada empresa conforme lo acordado por los empleadores y sus trabajadores para la temporada anterior.

ARTICULO 7º — Las partes deberán presentar ante la autoridad de aplicación la escala salarial resultante de este Laudo, con el detalle para cada una de las categorías de la estructura salarial vigente, en el término de CUARENTA Y OCHO (48) horas de notificado el presente.


ARTICULO 9º — Regístrese, comuníquese, publíquese, dése a la Dirección Nacional del Registro Oficial y archívese.

— Dra. MERCEDES M. GADEA, Árbitro.




Debemos hacer algunas advertencias en relación al texto del Convenio que sigue a continuación.
Primero, que los montos dinerarios que figuran en el texto fueron fijados en la fecha en que se firmó el Convenio, es decir en Enero del año 1976, por lo que dichos montos están totalmente desactualizados.
Segundo, muchos de los artículos han sido modificados por sentencias judiciales en casos concretos, que no alcanzan a modificar el texto del Convenio, pero como las Sentencias sientan jurisprudencia, en el momento de la aplicación judicial pesan más esos fallos que la letra del Convenio.
Tercero, que en el articulo 1, cuando se hace mención a las partes intervinientes, es necesario aclarar que Empacadores y Frigoríficos de Frutas Asociados de Río Negro y Neuquén actualmente es la Cámara Argentina de Fruticultores Integrados (CAFI).



Artículo 1- Las partes que suscriben el presente convenio, Sindicato de Obreros y Empacadores de Frutas de Río Negro y Neuquén; y Empacadores y Frigoríficos de Frutas Asociados de Río Negro y Neuquén, se reconocen mutuamente como entidades gremiales representativas con el sentido y alcance que se desprenda de las normas legales vigentes, a los efectos de la suscripción de esta convención.


Artículo 2- Vigencia temporaria: el presente convenio regirá desde el 1 de Enero de 1976 y hasta el 31 de Diciembre de 1976, en las cláusulas que determinan las condiciones de trabajo. Con respecto a las condiciones económicas rigen desde la misma fecha, comprometiéndose las partes a reunirse el 30 de Mayo de 1976 para considerarlas nuevamente.
Articulo 3- Ámbito de aplicación: el presente convenio será de aplicación al personal que labore en los establecimientos en que se empaque fruta fresca, sitos en las provincias de Río Negro y Neuquén, en tareas propias de la actividad.
Artículo 4- Reincorporación del personal: A la iniciación de la temporada, la reincorporación del personal se efectuara comenzando por los obreros de mayor antigüedad, computada por tiempo efectivo de trabajo y dentro de cada especialidad y categorías conforme a las necesidades del empleador. En caso de coincidir en igual especialidad y categoría, será preferida a los fines de la reincorporación y suspensión, el de más antigüedad de la planta de empaque.
El caso de la clasificadora puntera de acuerdo al párrafo anterior que debiera ser suspendida, quedará trabajando como clasificadora, cuando tuviera antigüedad como tal, si mediara conformidad de la primera para efectuar dicha tarea con el sueldo de clasificadora. En el caso que un obrero adquiera otra categoría dentro de la especialidad no perderá la antigüedad adquirida en la especialidad a la fecha, computándose la misma a los fines de la reincorporación en la temporada. Para la suspensión por finalización de cosecha, se aplicara igual criterio comenzando por los menos antiguos y de conformidad al artículo 21.
Artículo 5- Bolsa de trabajo. Las empresas que deben incorporar personal nuevo a su plantel, podrán requerir el mismo en la bolsa de trabajo de la Seccional respectiva del S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. del mismo lugar donde deban llevarse a cabo las tareas. Las Seccionales del Sindicato deberán pasar la lista total de los obreros inscriptos en cada especialidad, a las empresas, para que están concreten los pedidos en cualquiera de los integrantes de esa nomina que presenten antecedentes de idoneidad que lo acrediten en la especialidad. Toda solicitud de personal deberá hacerse con 24 horas de anticipación y deberá ser provisto dentro del mismo lapso de recibida la solicitud.
En caso de que la empresa no contratare al personal solicitado y que le fuera proveído, cuyo pedido no fuera anulado oportunamente, deberá abonarle a ese personal una compensación de los jornales correspondientes a tres (3) días.
El que hubiere sido despedido por el empleador con anterioridad a esa solicitud, no es obligatorio contratarlo nuevamente.
Articulo 6- Relación de Trabajo: La patronal asegura a los obreros el trabajo mientras dure el termino de cosecha con las limitaciones expresadas en los artículos 4º y 21º. Se entiende por cosecha el término durante el cual ingresa fruta fresca a la planta para ser empacada.
Articulo 7- Llamado al personal por listas de antigüedad: Con diez días de anticipación a la iniciación de la cosecha, los empleadores colocaran en lugar visible y de fácil acceso a los obreros, una lista de aquellos que por su orden de antigüedad en la especialidad, deben reingresar haciendo constar en la misma fecha de ingreso y tiempo efectivo trabajado en la empresa, la fecha probable progresiva en que deban presentarse en la temporada. Será obligatoria la remisión de una copia de dichas listas a la Seccional respectiva del Sindicato. A los efectos del Art. 107º de la Ley nº 20.744, antes del 31 de Diciembre de cada año el trabajador deberá manifestar al empleador su disposición de desempeñar el puesto y el empleador de ocuparlo en la forma y con las modalidades requeridas. Toda notificación al obrero deberá hacerse en el domicilio real del mismo, el que deberá ser denunciado por este finalizar cada temporada. Si el obrero que tuviere domicilio dentro de las provincias de Río Negro y Neuquén, no se presentase dentro de las 48 hs. posteriores a la fecha probable en que debería ingresar, deberá ser intimado por el empleador mediante telegrama simple para que .lo haga en un plazo de cuarenta y ocho horas; si no se presentare será considerado incurso en abandono de trabajo. Pero si el obrero tuviera domicilio fuera de ambas provincias deberá ser intimado se igual forma para que se presente en siete (7) días bajo el mismo apercibimiento. En caso de encontrarse el domicilio real del obrero fuera del radio de distribución de correspondencia de la localidad en donde resida, deberá fijar domicilio en el radio antedicho, bajo de apercibimiento de considerarse valida las notificaciones que se efectúen en las Seccionales respectivas de S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. Es voluntad de las partes que la contratación del personal nuevo sea efectuada con preferencia entre el que tenga residencia en las provincias de Río Negro y Neuquén.
Articulo 8- Laboracion de horas extras: Cuando haya que embalar fruta para exportación y sea necesario trabajar horas extras, a juicio de la empresa, aquellas que empleen una cantidad de personal inferior a la del año anterior, queda limitada la cantidad de horas extras a diez horas en días continuado se dará al finalizar la primera, quince minutos de descanso pagos. Las horas extras deberán ser laboradas por todo el personal o por sectores en forma rotativa, y nunca por una minoría o sector determinado, a excepción del personal afectado a carga y descarga de frutas. Todas las empresas deberán tener controla reloj.
Articulo 9- Queda prohibido el trabajo a destajo en temporada.
Artículo 10- Ningún operario podrá ser obligado a efectuar tareas a un ritmo superior al normal de trabajo. En caso de surgir algún inconveniente, este será planteado por el delegado o la comisión de reclamos. Cuando la entrada de frutas exceda de los dos mil (2.000) cosecheros diarios el empleador pondrá como mínimo dos(2) descargadores. Cuando las tareas de cualquier especialidad, exija un máximo rendimiento, el Delegado solicitara a la empresa el personal que fuera necesario.
Artículo 11- Ningún obrero podrá ser destinado a tareas que importen una disminución permanente de especialidad y/o categoría. Para el caso de que el obrero deba realizar tareas distintas a la que esta afectado, el mismo no podrá negarse, salvo su derecho a mayor salario que corresponda y siempre que no afectare su decoro y este dentro de las posibilidades físicas y materiales. Este desplazamiento deberá efectuarse por parte de la patronal en forma rotativa, evitando que recaiga en una sola persona y/o especialidad. Las tareas que requieran esfuerzo físico excesivo no podrán ser asignado a mujeres.
Artículo 12- Aplicación de leyes: Las empresas asumirán el conjunto de las obligaciones preceptuadas por ley 9.688 y sus modificaciones.
Articulo 13- Respecto a los accidentes y/ o enfermedades inculpables regirá lo dispuesto en el art. 225 de la ley 20.744.
Articulo 14- El pago de las retribuciones se hará de acuerdo a lo establecido en el Titulo IV de la Ley Contrato de Trabajo nro. 20.744.
Articulo 15- Los obreros del empaque de frutas tendrán derecho a los beneficios establecidos por ley 18.017. A tal fin la antigüedad a que se refieren los artículos 2, 3 y 4 de dicha ley, se computaran por trabajo efectivo sumado por temporada sucesiva, Los subsidios se pagaran siempre que el evento de que se trata se produzca en tiempo en que el obrero tenga derecho a trabajar. El salario familiar se pagara en todos los casos en que corresponda, según las normas C.A.S.F.E.C.
Articulo 16- Los trabajadores que se desempeñen en forma continua o discontinua gozaran de vacaciones anuales pagas de acuerdo a lo establecido en el Titulo V de la Ley 20.744. En cuanto al personal que se desempeña en temporada tendrá al finalizar la misma, derecho a percibir el equivalente a un día de vacaciones cada 20 días de trabajo, tomando en cuenta la totalidad de los días trabajados en la temporada, computables de acuerdo a lo dispuesto en el articulo 166 de la mencionada Ley.
Articulo 17- El pago por indemnización por despidos se hará conforme a lo previsto en los artículos 20, 104, 105, 106 y concordantes de la Ley Contrato de Trabajo (20.744). A estos efectos se considerara tiempo de servicio al que efectivamente haya prestado el obrero durante la relación laboral.
Artículo 18- El horario habitual de la tareas de clasificación y empaque, no podrá iniciarse antes de las 7 horas a la mañana y a las 14horas por la tarde. Las horas trabajadas fuera de este horario serán pagadas como suplementarias con los recargos de ley. El personal de la planta que trabaje en horas nocturnas, no podrá hacerlo antes de las 21, ni después de las 24. Estas horas serán remuneradas la 100%.
Artículo 19- Por el mayor esfuerzo que significa el trabajo durante la temporada de cosecha, se fijara una bonificación durante dicho lapso equivalente al 10% del salario profesional o básico que se liquidará conforme esta previsto en el art. 42.
Artículo 20- Solo se aceptaran como validas las suspensiones que estén motivadas en las siguientes circunstancias:
a) Disminución normal de entrada de fruta en la planta de empaque.
b) Alteración en el normal levantamiento de la cosecha debido a factores climáticos, problemas sanitarios, inconvenientes en el transporte y cualquier otra circunstancia ajena a la voluntad del empleador. Estas suspensiones deben ser comunicadas al personal en forma fehaciente. Los tres primeros días de las suspensiones enumeradas por este articulo deberán ser pagados. Por finalización de cosecha la suspensión deberá ser comunicada con 48 horas de anticipación como minino.
Artículo 21- Mientras dure el término de la cosecha la patronal abonara al personal los haberes correspondientes por mes comercial.
Artículo 21 bis: Las partes acuerdan que al solo efecto del cálculo de la retribución de las horas suplementarias laboradas en temporadas los rubros remunerativos de la escala mensual se dividirán por doscientas horas y a tal resultado se le sumará el recargo del 50% y 100% según corresponda.
Artículo 22- La obligación impuesta por el articulo 195 de la Ley 20744 la cumplirán las empresas mediante un aporte que cada empleador hará al Sindicato, proporcionalmente a los niños que deban atenderse de cada empresa, haciéndose cargo la organización sindical del funcionamiento y mantenimiento de la guardería. La aplicación de este artículo será reglamentada por acuerdo de ambas partes.
Artículo 23- No podrá pagarse a los trabajadores remuneraciones solo por razones de edad o sexo. El recibo de pago que no se ajuste a las prescripciones vigentes o no dé cuenta de que se ha hecho la retención legal y convencional pertinente, carecerá de validez para operar como prueba destinada a acreditar que se ha extinguido la obligación. Cuando el Sindicato o Delegado u obrero del galpón solicite a la empresa fijación de hora y lugar de pago por medio fehaciente antes del 28 de cada mes, estas estarán obligadas de fijar día y hora de pago con una antelación de 24 horas también en forma fehaciente. Dichos pagos así dispuestos, podrán ser controlados por autoridades del Sindicato que no excedan de dos y/o el Delegado del galpón inicialando los recibos en prueba de conformidad. Los pagos se efectuaran dentro del horario de trabajo. El empleador se ajustara en un todo a los artículos 143, 204 y concordantes de la Ley nro. 20.744. Las empresas otorgaran al trabajador constancia simple de la recepción de la documentación de las asignaciones familiares. Los empresarios están obligados a aceptar que los obreros entreguen la correspondiente documentación con la intervención de los Delegados del Galpón en caso de ser necesario.
Artículo 24- El personal que deba cumplir con la Ley de Servicio Militar obligatorio y tuviera una antigüedad no inferior a dos temporadas, gozará de un porcentaje equivalente al 30% de las remuneraciones que por la especialidad y categoría le correspondan durante el tiempo que el obrero tuviera derecha a trabajar en la temporada.
Artículo 25- La duración del aprendizaje será de sesenta días, no pudiendo excederse de una temporada y ser inferior a 40 días, cumplido el cual, si la empresa no lo ascendiera, el obrero solicitara de la misma ser sometido a examen, el que será rendido ante un representante de la Dirección Nacional de Frutas y Hortalizas, a cuyo fallo se someterán las partes.
La idoneidad del personal que ingresa será apreciada por el empleador, capataz o encargado. El obrero podrá impugnar esa calificación solicitando ser examinado por un representante de la Dirección Nacional de Frutas y Hortalizas, a cuyo fallo se someterán las partes. Esta impugnación deberá efectuarla dentro de los 5 días que le fuera negada la categoría que pretende. En los dos casos mencionados en este articulo, el examen podrá ser presenciado por un dirigente gremial o un Delegado obrero y un representante de la patronal y cuando el fallo fuera favorable al obrero, el empleador pagara con retroactividad a al mismo, la diferencia de sueldo que corresponda de acuerdo al fallo. Si pasados los cinco días del reclamo la empresa no se expidiera al respecto, se considerará que el obrero pasa automáticamente a la categoría inmediata superior.
Artículo 26- La cantidad de aprendices no podrá ser superior a l 15% de los obreros ocupados en la empresa, salvo que no hubiera personal especializado en la Bolsa de trabajo del Sindicato. El operario que realice tareas de cualquier categoría remunerada con un sueldo superior, recibirá la diferencia por el tiempo que se haya desempeñado, siempre que lo haya efectuado como mínimo durante media jornada normal de trabajo.
Artículo 27- Son deberes del personal:
a) efectuar correctamente su trabajo siendo considerado falta grave el insistir en hacer pasar un trabajo defectuoso;
b) ser cuidadoso y económico en el uso de los útiles y herramientas que se le confíen;
c) comunicar al superior inmediato toda circunstancia peligrosa o anormal que observe, como así avisar sobre hallazgos de herramientas o material abandonado;
d) no abandonar las tareas sin causa justificada y cumplir estrictamente el horario de iniciación y finalización de las tareas;
e) acatar las órdenes del inmediato superior;
f) notificar de inmediato a la empresa todo cambio de domicilio;
g) notificarse de toda comunicación o sanción disciplinaria patronal, aún cuando estén en desacuerdo. La negativa a ello implicara falta. La firma de la notificación no significara por sí reconocimiento a la legitimidad de la sanción o de la verdad de los hechos. Todo conforme a lo dispuesto en los art. 72, 235 y concordantes de la ley nro. 20.744;
h) hacer uso correcto de las instalaciones sanitarias, velando por la higiene de las mismas.
Artículo 28.- El obrero que falta a su trabajo por enfermedad o accidente, deberá comunicarlo de inmediato, salvo que acredite la imposibilidad de hacerlo, y el domicilio en que se halla, para que dicha inasistencia sea controlada por la patronal. El obrero no podrá negarse al examen médico que el empleador mande al domicilio comunicado. , sin perjuicio de sus derechos de asistirse con el facultativo de su confianza. La omisión injustificada del aviso antedicho, constituirá acto de indisciplina, pero no alterara el derecho a la percepción de las remuneraciones si se acreditara que existió enfermedad que imposibilito la concurrencia del trabajador del acuerdo al articulo 226 de la Ley nro. 20.744.
Artículo 29.- La primera falta injustificada será sancionada con amonestación, la segunda con dos días de suspensión, la tercera con tres días de suspensión, la cuarta con cinco días de suspensión y la quinta dentro de la misma temporada será causal de despido justificado. Cuando la llegada tarde no supere los cinco minutos, el obrero comenzará a trabajar de inmediato; si se superara dicho tiempo ingresara a la media hora del horario fijado, sin perjuicio de descontarse el tiempo no trabajado. Esta tolerancia de cinco minutos se admitirá hasta cinco veces por mes calendario. Este criterio se aplicara tanto a las horas comunes como en las horas extras. Las empresas deberán entregar al personal constancias de los permisos que otorgue para faltar a sus tareas.
Articulo 30.- Es facultad privativa del empleador la aplicación de medidas disciplinarias al personal por faltar a sus obligaciones. Toda medida deberá ser notificada por escrito al afectado y, asimismo, al Delegado del galpón y/o Seccional respectiva, con expresión de motivos. El obrero recibirá para constancia el original y devolverá el duplicado firmado, reservándose el derecho de impugnar esa sanción, si la considera injusta o improcedente. Por sí sola dicha firma ni significara consentir la sanción.
Artículo 31.- Obligaciones de la Patronal: es obligación de la patronal proveer al personal de todo los elementos necesarios para la ejecución de las tareas. Deberá proveerse delantales de protección (1 por temporada) a. cargadores, descargadores, selladores, emboquilladotes, alambradotes, tapadores, , embaladores/as. Se proveerá de guardapolvos a todo el personal femenino, excepto las embaladoras, y todo el personal que en forma permanente tenga contacto con fruta fría o húmeda, se le proveerá de guantes. Las empresas colocaran tinglados en los lugares que se efectúen habitualmente tareas al rayo del sol, salvo en playa de cargas. El empleador deberá ceder un lugar para que el personal estacione su medio de movilidad (bicicletas-motos-automóviles). También deberá disponerse en cada planta de empaque de un botiquín equipado con todos los elementos necesarios para practicar curaciones de emergencia. En todos los lugares deberá proveerse de agua y jabón para la higiene del personal, debiendo haber baños suficientes, divididos por sexo, manteniéndose en completo estado de higiene y conservación.
Se entiende por baños suficientes la cantidad de uno por cada 30 trabajadores, o fracción mayor de 15, pudiendo ser comunes los lavatorios y mingitorios. En los galpones de empaque deberá proveerse de agua fresca y abundante para el consumo del personal. Para las obreras clasificadoras, se habilitaran bancos con respaldo, para que sean utilizados cuando lo crean necesario. Cuando el personal sea contratado con alojamiento el empleador suministrará el mismo en condiciones de habitabilidad e higiene, asegurando cobertizos por sexo, habitación independiente para familias y baños con duchas. Durante la temporada las empresas colocaran ventiladores en la mesa de clasificación. En post-temporada las empresas colocarán calefacción efectiva para que el personal que labora o reacondicione fruta, pueda utilizarlas cuando lo crea necesario.
Articulo 32.- La patronal tendrá la obligación de permitir a su personal donar sangre gratuitamente al banco de sangre de la Obra Social del Sindicato y/u otras instituciones. El trabajador que done sangre ese día será pagado por el empleador y aquel deberá acreditarlo mediante certificado expedido por la Obra Social o la institución a la que ha donado sangre. No podrá salir de la planta de empaque más del 2 por ciento de los obreros a los fines de este artículo.
Articulo 33.- las empresas colocaran en un lugar visible del establecimiento una pizarra o vitrina, donde el Sindicato o sus representantes pueden insertar avisos de carácter estrictamente gremial, el contenido de tales comunicados no deberán emitir quejas ni expresar manifestaciones contra la patronal, hechos estos que deberán ser presentados por la vía correspondiente. Las empresas permitirán el entrada a galpón a dirigentes gremiales de la Asociación Profesional correspondiente, y su libre accionar dentro del mismo para realizar reuniones con los obreros, ajustándose en un todo al articulo 81 de la ley 20744.
Artículo 34.- Las empresas que se encuentran a más de dos kilómetros del radio urbano asumirán la obligación de transportar al personal desde los puntos que la misma fije hasta los lugares de trabajo. Si la empresa estuviera radicada fuera del radio urbano y a una distancia no mayor a dos kilómetros del mismo tendrán la misma obligación anterior si el 40 % de su personal tuviere domicilio real fuera del radio urbano y fuera del radio de dos kilómetros desde el lugar de trabajo. Esta deberá asegurar comodidades de seguridad a los trabajadores. Se habilitara un lugar en el establecimiento donde los obreros puedan protegerse del sol o la lluvia antes de la entrada al trabajo. Esta habilitación será de 30 minutos antes de comenzar las tareas.
Artículo 35.- En caso de fallecimiento de padres, cónyuge o hijos residentes en el país la empresa otorgará al trabajador una licencia de tres días corridos con goce de sueldos. Cuando el fallecimiento se produzca fuera de la zona de trabajo, se concederá una licencia ampliatoria de cinco días más sin goce de sueldos.
Artículo 36.- Deberes y atribuciones de los delegados: Los delegados serán elegidos en la proporción y el número establecido por la ley nro. 20645 y de entre ellos se elegirá la Comisión Interna de reclamos que no podrá estar compuesta por más de tres miembros y que preferentemente pertenezcan a distintas especialidades, a cuyo cargo se hallará la relación con la patronal.
Será obligación de los delegados:
a) velar por el respeto y cumplimiento del Convenio;
b) bregar en defensa de los intereses de sus representados.
c) cumplir y hacer cumplir directivas del Sindicato. A tal efecto la patronal no entorpecerá el libre accionar de los mismos dentro de la empresa para las gestiones gremiales.
Artículo 37.- Los empresarios otorgarán permisos con goce de sueldos a los Delegados y Representantes Gremiales que tengan acreditada su personería gremial para faltar por tareas inherentes a sus funciones a cuyos efectos éstos deberán justificar la inasistencia por medio de una notificación previa y fehaciente del S.O.E.F.R.Y N. Las inasistencias a las que se refiere el párrafo anterior no podrán sumar más de tres jornadas laborales dentro del mes. Cuando pasare esa cantidad, el permiso será otorgado por la patronal sin goce de haberes. La actuación de los Delegados Titulares excluye la de los suplentes, siendo estos designados de igual forma y oportunidad que aquellos. Los obreros que resulten elegidos Delegados Titulares y los Suplentes con titularidad, serán incorporados en la especialidad con referencia al resto del personal y suspendidos en último término. Los Delegados del personal serán elegidos en el lugar y hora de trabajo. Las empresas otorgaran un lapso de 20 minutos para la convocatoria de elecciones y de ninguna manera trabaran el acto eleccionario. Todo ello de acuerdo a las disposiciones establecidas en la ley 20.615.
Artículo 38.- Quedan establecidas para la clasificación general de las tareas las siguientes especialidades, categorías y salarios (solo se pondrán las especialidades y categorías, pues los salarios se renuevan en paritarias y la escala se encuentra en otro lugar de este blog): 1) Embalador de primera
2) Tapador a mano
3) Alambrador
4) Tapador a maquina
5) Embalador de segunda
6) Armador de cajones a mano
7) Estibador o secador
8) carretilleros
9) Emboquillador o alimentador
10) Armador de cajones a maquina
11) Chofer auto elevador ant. Cámara frigorífica
12) Mecánico
13) Tamañador de Primera
14) Recibidor y/o pesador
15) Clasificadora puntera
16) Alambrador de maquina automática
17) Descargador de cosecheros llenos
18) Cargador de cajones empacados
19) Embalador aprendiz
20) Chofer auto elevador de primera
21) Tamañador de segunda
22) Operario maquina lavadora
23) Clasificadora
24 Alambrador aprendiz
25) Peón de trabajos varios
26) Sereno de 12 horas
27) Chofer de auto elevador de segunda
28) Chofer camión planta de empaque
29) Papelero
30) Apuntador
31) Romaneador
32) Carretillero aprendiz
33) Alcanzador de tamañador o embalador
34) Sereno de diez horas
35) Sellador de riel
36) Afichador o encartonador
37) Sereno de ocho horas
38) Sellador de playa
39) Clasificadora aprendiz
El presente convenio regirá solo para aquellas chóferes que sean tomados en y para la temporada y afectados con tareas relacionadas con el empaque de frutas. Cuando el trabajador en razón de sus tareas deba ausentarse de la localidad, sede de la planta de empaque y deba almorzar, cenar o pernoctar, lo hará con cargo al empleador. Al personal de vigilancia se le proveerá de elementos mínimos necesarios para cumplir con sus tareas y cuidar su seguridad personal. Queda comprendido en la escala salarial precedente, el aumento otorgado por el decreto nro. 350/76 del Poder Ejecutivo Nacional.
Artículo 39.- Retenciones y aportes Sociales. Las retenciones que se apliquen a los obreros y el aporte patronal, en virtud de lo dispuesto por la Ley 18.610 con destino a la Obra Social, serán depositadas a la orden del S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N., en la cuenta especial nro. 2-91-27 del Banco de la nación Argentina. Los importes deberán ser depositados por los empleadores dentro de los 15 días corridos posteriores a cada mes vencido, debiendo remitirse la boleta de deposito y las planillas correspondientes, en el mismo termino, las cuales serán enviadas, una al domicilio legal de la Obra Social: 25 de Mayo 152 de Cipolletti, y otra a la Seccional que corresponda. Tal obligación deberá ser satisfecha independientemente del hecho de haberse o no abonado las remuneraciones del personal. Las empresas enviarán mensualmente al Sindicato o a la Seccional respectiva la planilla del personal con las altas y bajas, de acuerdo a lo establecido en el articulo 7 de la Ley 18610 reglamentado por el articulo 13 del decreto nro. 4714/71.
Artículo 40.- La patronal deberá retener a todo el personal beneficiado por esta convención, por única vez en la temporada, medio día de sueldo. Asimismo deberá retenerles el 1% del total de las remuneraciones en concepto de cuota sindical, debiendo ser depositados dentro de los cinco días de abonados los salarios. Los importes de las retenciones de cuota social y/o especial será depositado en la cuenta nro. 9759-8 del Banco de la provincia de Río Negro debiendo remitirse la boleta de depósito y las planillas correspondientes en el mismo término, las cuales serán enviadas, una al domicilio legal de la central del S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. , 25 de mayo 152 de Cipolletti, y otra a la Seccional que corresponda. Éste será el único medio de pago válido de esta obligación. El incumplimiento del depósito en los plazos estipulados, producirá la mora automática del empleador, sin necesidad de previa intimación y autoriza al Sindicato a iniciar las acciones judiciales pertinentes. Todo pago que se efectúe al margen de lo determinado en el presente artículo, como así en el artículo 39, no será reconocido por esta organización.
Artículo 40 bis.- La patronal será agente de retención del 0,50% del total de las remuneraciones percibidas por el trabajador y depositar en la cuenta especial que el S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. indique, destinada al Fondo de Mutual-Vivienda y Obra. Esta retención deberá ser depositada a los cinco días de haberse efectuado el pago de haberes.
Artículo 41.- Adicionales Mensuales: Se estableció una bonificación mensual por antigüedad de $25 por temporada de cosecha trabajada. Esta bonificación se liquidara de la misma forma establecida en el artículo 42.
Artículo 42.- Las empresas abonaran al empleador que trabaje peras durante el mes, un adicional de $250. Este adicional se abonará en proporción a los días trabajados durante el mes por el embalador y conjuntamente con el salario. La proporción se obtendrá dividiendo el adicional por 25.
Artículo 43.- Las empresas abonaran al personal que observa asistencia perfecta una bonificación mensual equivalente a $470 durante la temporada. Para los obreros que trabajan en post-temporada, esta bonificación será de $700 mensuales. Se entiende por asistencia perfecta cuando el obrero labore todos los días normales del mes y no registre llegadas tardes a su trabajo dentro de los límites del artículo 29. Esta bonificación se liquidará de la misma forma prevista en el artículo 42.
Artículo 44.- Día del Obrero de la Fruta: se instituye el tercer domingo del mes de Marzo, como DIA DEL OBRERO DE LA FRUTA, el que será pagado por todos los empleadores involucrados en el presente convenio, al personal en actividad, con el equivalente a un día de trabajo.
Artículo 45.- El personal que ingrese como nuevo en la planta de empaque y acredite mediante recibo de pago y/o certificado de trabajo, su categoría dentro de la especialidad en que se va a desempeñar, no podrá percibir salario inferior a ella.
Artículo 46.- El personal que se desempeñe como capataz o encargado de la planta de empaque no podrá realizar tarea alguna en forma permanente, en ninguna especialidad, mientras no se haya incorporado la totalidad del personal o hayan sido suspendidos.
Artículo 47.- Las empresas proveerán a todo el personal efectivo o permanente, durante el periodo de invierno, de dos pantalones y dos camisas, siendo su uso obligatorio, debiendo ser reemplazados cuando se deterioren por su uso normal.
Artículo 48.- La empresa otorgará o no asueto el viernes santo de acuerdo a su tradición y creencia, en horas de la tarde, conforme al artículo 17 de la ley 20744.
Artículo 49.- Las empresas que a la fecha no hayan contratado el seguro implantado por decreto nro. 1567/74 del Poder ejecutivo nacional deberán hacerlo exclusivamente por la Caja Nacional de Ahorro y Seguro, aquellas que la tengan concertados con otras compañías aseguradoras, deberán comunicar al S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. el nombre y domicilio de las mismas, y a su vencimiento deberán contratarlo con la Caja Nacional de Ahorro y Seguro, conforme a lo establecido en este articulo. El monto de este seguro es de $30.000 por cada obrero o empleado con ajuste anual automático de acuerdo a la evolución del índice del precio minorista, cubriendo los riesgos de muerte e invalidez total, absoluta e irreversible o permanente de todo trabajador en relación de dependencia. El pago de las primas está a cargo de los empleadores. Este beneficio no sustituye a los que otorgue la ley de accidentes de trabajo u otras normas de derecho laboral o provisional. Asimismo no podrá afectarse los capitales que se abonen por concepto alguno, teniendo en cuenta que los mismos son de exclusiva pertenencia del asegurado o los beneficiarios.
Artículo 50.- A la finalización de cada temporada la patronal entregará a su personal, constancia del tiempo trabajado en la misma, a los fines de controlar el obrero su antigüedad para su próxima reincorporación.
Artículo 51.- Artículos de Aplicación en Post-temporada: Aquellas empresas que realicen tareas en post-temporadas, en el momento de comunicar la suspensión a cualquier trabajador, deberá confeccionar una lista por duplicado de todo el personal, donde éste manifestara su voluntad de realizar o no trabajos en post-temporada, dicha lista será remitida al Sindicato dentro de los cinco días de terminada la cosecha. Aquellas empresas que realicen tareas de este tipo en tales periodos deberán reincorporar a ese personal de acuerdo a sus necesidades, respetando el orden de antigüedad y categoría, otorgándole un plazo de 48 horas para presentarse. Si el obrero dejara de hacerlo, la empresa quedará relevada de sus obligaciones emergentes de este artículo. Aquellos obreros que a la finalización de la cosecha expresaran su voluntad de no reincorporarse en temporada fuera de la cosecha y los que no respondieren a la citación patronal, dentro de dicho lapso quedarán suspendidos con derecho a ser reincorporados en la próxima temporada de cosecha. . Los obreros que en la temporada fuera de cosecha acepten desempeñarse en una especialidad o categoría distinta a la suya, percibirán el salario que por este convenio le corresponda a la especialidad y categoría que efectivamente trabaja.
Artículo 52.- En las tareas de post-temporada, cuando se abone el salario por tiempo efectivamente trabajado, la retribución diaria se obtendrá dividiendo el sueldo de este convenio por 25. Además se pagará al trabajador media jornada o jornada completa, aún cuando no se completare la misma, por razones ajenas a su voluntad y siempre que se encuentre a disposición del empleador.
Artículo 53.- A todo obrero que trabaje en post-temporada más de ochenta (80) horas durante el mes calendario, le será asegurado un mínimo de cien (100) horas en dicho mes y por lo tanto las asignaciones familiares correspondientes.
Artículo 54.- Queda terminantemente prohibido realizar tareas de empaque en cámaras o ante cámaras frigoríficas. Cuando las empresas cedan sus instalaciones para el empaque de frutas a mano o a maquina, deberá ajustarse al régimen establecido por la ley 20.744, artículo 248.
Artículo 55.- Será obligación de los empleadores que desarrollen actividades en post-temporada, cualquiera sea su naturaleza, mantener al personal con representación en la planta de empaque del delegado o los Delegados obreros en la proporción que establece la ley de acuerdo a la cantidad de operarios. La representación sindical será ejercida por el Delegado/a/s, con mayor antigüedad como trabajador en la empresa. La reincorporación del Delegado/a/s, será de acuerdo a lo establecido en el artículo 37.
Artículo 56.- El obrero que haya manifestado su voluntad de trabajar en post-temporada y que al ser llamado por la empresa se encontrase enfermo, se incorporará al ser dado de alta. En tal caso será legítima la suspensión que se aplicare a quien lo reemplazó.
Artículo 57.- Las disposiciones del presente convenio son de orden público y será nula y sin ningún valor toda convención de partes que anule los derechos determinados en la misma, conforme a la Ley de Trabajo 20.744 en sus artículos 7, 8, 9, 11 y concordantes de la misma.
Artículo 58.- De la Comisión de Interpretación: La comisión paritaria de interpretación de esta convención esta integrada por dos representantes del S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. y un representante de la Delegación nacional del Ministerio de Trabajo de la ciudad de general Roca, Provincia de Rio Negro, quien la presidirá. Esta comisión tendrá a su cargo la solución, por vía conciliatoria de los diferendos que se susciten con motivo de la interpretación de este Convenio.


Artículo 59.- A los efectos de la aplicación del artículo 22 el S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N., presentará dentro de los 60 días un proyecto de reglamentación de funcionamiento y administración de la guardería que se discutirá dentro de la comisión de interpretación.
Artículo 60.- Las empresas enviaran mensualmente al Sindicato o a la Seccional respectiva la planilla del personal con las altas y bajas, de acuerdo a lo establecido en el articulo 13 de la Ley nro. 18.610 y decreto reglamentario.
Artículo 61.- Post-temporada: La patronal comunicará al personal, en caso de suspensión, con 24 horas de antelación y probable fecha de reincorporación. Si el obrero se presentara a trabajar y no se lo reincorpora de acuerdo a la notificación antedicha en un plazo posterior a 72 horas, el trabajador recibirá a partir de ese lapso, los jornales correspondientes, sin necesidad de recurrir al cobro por vía legal.
Artículo 62.- Para el caso en que se realicen tareas de empaque en la cámara o ante-cámara de un frigorífico que no integre el establecimiento de un galpón de empaque, el propietario o la razón social propietaria del frigorífico, será responsable de todos los efectos que surjan del contrato de trabajo de empaque de frutas y cargará con todos los derechos y obligaciones emergentes de este convenio y de las leyes que rijan la actividad.
Artículo 63.- Las empresas no podrán negar al representante de S.O.E.F.R.N. Y N. que se acredite como tal cuando éste lo solicite, el volumen de fruta existente en cámara frigorífica (cajones empacados o cajones bins) como así también es requerido a los efectos de determinar aproximadamente la duración del vínculo laboral. Este artículo es también de aplicación para aquellos frigoríficos particulares que alquilen o cedan sus cámaras o ante-cámaras.
Artículo 64.- Se conviene de ambas partes que la escala salarial, bonificaciones o cualquier otro beneficio acordado por la parte económica de este convenio, será ajustable en las siguientes fechas: 30-5 y 30-08-76, dejando expresamente aclarado que los salarios fijados por este acuerdo se considerarán mínimo profesional. En este mismo acto queda convenido también como fecha de iniciación en la discusión de próximos convenios de temporadas sucesivas al 1 de Diciembre de cada año calendario.


Washington County safari yields a tom

Reach Gazette outdoors columnist Ed Noonan at enoonan@nycap.-rr.com.

    Last Thursday, I was one of 16 members of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association who visited the Cambridge/Salem area of Washington County for our annual safari.
    Each spring in May, NYSOWA chooses a New York county to visit and enjoy the outdoor activities our host county has to offer. Unlike our annual conferences, the safari is strictly a “no business” event in which we just have fun and renew friendships. I’m a bit embarrassed to say this was my first hunting visit to the area, and I live less than 30 miles from Cambridge.
    The two primary outings this time of the year center around turkey hunting and fishing, and what better place to fish in May than on the famous Battenkill River. When canoeing, kayaking and hiking trips through those beautiful plush green hills that surround this picturesque area are added, you couldn’t ask for a better place to spend a long weekend.

    Our Thursday evening Meetand-Greet get-together was held at Momma’s Restaurant in Cambridge, where we were welcomed by Christine Hoffer, Washington County tourism administrator, who outlined our busy agenda and introduced the two places where we would be staying — Batten Kill Valley Outdoors (www.battenkillvalleyoutdoors.com) and Battenkill Riversports and Campground (www.brsac.com). The former offers all types of river rides, boat rentals and a vacation rental house we used as our headquarters, and they have quite an assortment of gear and flies in their shop. Battenkill Riversports and Campground is located right on the Battenkill.
    After driving up to Cambridge, especially along New York Route 313, where both these places are located, I came to the conclusion that Vermont may be the Green Mountain State, but this southern area of Washington County’s rolling hills are equally as green. The next morning, I found out just how hilly they really were.

    Everyone was up early and anxious to chase gobblers or hook up with some of those Battenkill brown trout. The turkey hunters, with the exception of three, headed off with their guides where they would hunt private lands. Melody and Frank Tennity of Honeoye and I were going to be on our own, hunting several portions of state land that had been pointed out to us the afternoon before.
    My starting point was the 512-acre Eldridge Swamp State Forest that borders the Battenkill. This area is stocked with pheasants every fall by DEC. And I know that two of them are still alive. When I arrived there just before sunup, I made my way along the edge of the wood line and stopped at a corner of the field to wait and listen.
    A morning greeting from a distant owl got me the response I wanted (gobbles) several hundred yards off into a mixed pine and hard woods, and I quickly and quietly headed in the direction of where the tom was still gobbling.
I stopped about 75 yards from him, and my first soft yelp got a double gobbling result, and I set out my three decoys. Then our conversation began.
    I knew he was coming, but fi rst in was a hen who eyed my decoys. Mr. Jake appeared shortly after, gobbling and all puffed up with his notched tail. He wasn’t what I wanted, but fun to watch, and finally they moved off.
    I waited about 10 minutes and began calling again, and I got a response from the same area, and
this one came in on the run. It was another jake, who continued to strut around the decoys. For fun, in a very loud voice I asked him: “What are you doing here?” He actually fell down twice trying to run off.
    At about 6:30 a.m., after walking and calling without any responses, I decided to try spot number two, up behind the lodge. It was defi nitely “up,” and there was no trail. Eventually, I made it to the stone fence they told me about and set up again. I didn’t hear anything for more than an hour, nor was I able to solicit a gobble, so I guessed it was time to do a little walking and talking.
    For the next hour, I followed the wall, stopping every 100 yards or so to call, fi rst with a low tone and then increasing the volume. At 8:30, I headed down and back to the truck — time to visit spot number three, the 2.5-mile State Peaked Rock Trail, also in the Battenkill
State Forest.
    Its peak altitude is 1,100 feet above the Battenkill. As I made my way slowly up the trail, I found these 69-year-old legs were not as strong as they used to be, and believe me when I tell you, there were numerous stops. Up about a half-mile or
so from its head, the trail bordered several different green fields on one side and a dried creek bed on the other. At each field, while resting, I made some yelps with my box call. I got one response on the other side of the road on private land.
    At the top of the third field, I noticed there was a deep gully leading to the creek bed which had three to four inches of water in it. It looked like a good spot to rest and call.
    My normal calling ritual when walking and stopping to call is to begin by making soft yelps, then, depending upon the results, continue to increase the call volume. I repeat the sequence every fi ve or 10 minutes.

    I liked the looks of the area, so I decided to stay a little longer and occasionally make a few calls. On my fifth calling sequence, I got a thundering response gobble somewhere above me. I estimated him to be at least 200 yards up, but on the other side of the creek. Every time I called, he responded and was getting closer, but still on the other side of the creek.
    Now the “book” says incoming toms will not cross creeks. So I grabbed my decoys, slid down the
gully, crossed the creek, set them out on the edge of that side, then I climbed about three-quarters of the way back up from the creek on the trail side and settled in with my Benelli and got him talking again. With all that up-and-down running around, it’s a good thing I don’t use a mouth call. I wouldn’t have had enough wind to blow it.
    What happened next was a fi rst for me. The tom crossed back over to my side, and I thought all was lost when he went quiet. I was looking straight to where I heard his last call when out of the corner of my eye, there he was, fully displayed and walking “in” the creek toward the decoys. It was the fi rst turkey I ever shot in the water, and he was a beauty, even though he was wet.
    I can’t remember the last time I shot a turkey on New York state land, and I couldn’t wait to show him off. My Washington County gobbler, after drying, was over
20 pounds, carried a 9 3 /4-inch beard and 1 1 /8-inch spurs. Thank you, Jerry Wilson, for your great box call. It did it again (www.wilsongamecalls. net).
    You can also see my Washington
County tom at http://fi shguydblog.-blogspot.com/.
    Back at the lodge for lunch, I found out that the Battenkill River and Dead Lake anglers all had some nice trout on ice.
    Our afternoon tour of the Quality Deer Management Co-op in Easton began with a most interesting presentation by Tony Rainville, president and founding member of the local branch, and Jami Whitney, local branch director.
    What I learned and saw on our walking tour of the food plots, etc., was very impressive and clarifi ed many questions I’ve had. These individuals are a dedicated group that’s truly improving the deer herd, and it’s a LOT more than just developing trophy bucks.
    I urge every deer hunter to go to www.qdma.com and see what it’s all about.
    Thank you, Christine Hoffer, and all the Washington County individuals who helped make this safari a very enjoyable and successful outdoor experience. I’ll be back.

DAN LADD Charles Witek of West Babylon, a member of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, fishes with his wife, Theresa, from a boat on Dead Lake in Washington County. They were part of the group’s annual safari.

          (x) Headline font on mint.com - Hypatia Sans {Mark S}        

Having a hard time identifying the headline tag on mint.com. If you are looking on the site instead of the attached file, I am looking to ID the line "the best free way to manage & grow your money". I know I have seen it recently elsewhere but just can't put my finger on it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

          Rufabbau-Grund (Cause)        
Der Rufabbau-Grund (Cause) ist ein Nachrichteninformationselement, welches in ISDN Nachrichten...
          Rufabbau-Lokation (Cause location)        
Die Rufabbau-Lokation (Cause location) ist ein Nachrichteninformationselement, welches zusammen mit dem Rufabbau-Grund mitgesendet wird...
          2017 Virtual Conference: Genealogy Technology and Tools        

Guest post by Vanessa Wieland, Dean of Family Tree University

We have another amazing virtual conference in the works (September 15-17), with three days of genealogy search tips, tricks, techniques and tools you can use to improve your genealogy search. Our lineup is still being finalized, but we’re looking forward to presentations on the following tech-based tools, plus a presentation that will compare the four DNA testing companies so you can see which test is best for you.

Cloud Technology: Preservation and Organization - Jennifer Alford
Learn how to preserve your genealogy and organize it online with these tips. You'll learn about what tools will be most useful for keeping your work in great shape.

Time Travel Technology - Lisa Louise Cooke
Go back in time to discover your ancestors with these tech tools that will help you discover the details that will bring your ancestor's history to life.

Resources for Visual Storytelling - Nancy Hendrickson
If a picture paints a thousand words, this presentation will provide you with the know-how to create great tales using visual elements.

5 Google Secrets Revealed - Lisa Louise Cooke
Google is a great resource for researching your family history and heritage, especially when you've learned these handy research tricks.

Learn more about the 2017 Fall Virtual Conference and sign up early to get the early bird discount. Take $40 off the price with coupon code FALLVCEARLY.


Desde el próximo día 24 de Noviembre de 2012, estará expuesta la obra Pájaros y Trazos, en la tienda The Suitcase, Calle Madera 20 (Madrid).

Una pequeña colección de cuadros e ilustraciones que Marta Núñez ha creado en exclusiva, enlazando sus dibujos con su colección de moda Otoño Invierno 12/13 para Polarité.

De Vuelta, 40x50 Acrílico sobre lienzo

A raíz de la lectura de la última biografía de Leonora Carrington, le volvieron las ganas de utilizar de nuevo los pinceles y experimentar con nuevas técnicas como el acrílico.

Detalle de Mi Jardín, 40x50 Acrílico sobre lienzo

Todas sus obras mezclan pájaros y caballos, reflejando la historia de amor que vivieron Leonora y Max Ernst en su tiempo. Ambos se sentían identificados con ellos, y son dos elementos clave siempre en las creaciones de Polarité.

Además algunas de estas ilustraciones se han transformado también en los estampados utilizados en su colección de moda.

Todo esto y más, desde el próximo sábado en The Suitcase, con un pequeño aperitivo a partir de las 19 h.

Os espera!!! Seguro que os encantará!!!

Información y contacto
Marta Núñez
Email: polaritepositive@gmail.com
Tlfno 656 190 410

The Suitcase
Calle Madera 20, 28004 Madrid
Email: thesuitcasemadrid@gmail.com
Tlfno 91 523 57 17

Web * Facebook * Bloglovin' * Twitter * Pinterest

          Field Museum Educational Investments in Pembroke        
Environment & Conservation


The Field Museum Keller Science Action Center’s Youth Conservation Action (YCA) Team partnered with Lorenzo R. Smith Sustainability and Technology Academy (LRSSTA) for the 2016-2017 academic year. The team is working with teachers to provide Mighty Acorns (3rd – 5th grade) and Earth Force (6th – 8th grade) programming to educate students about nature and stewardship in the Pembroke-Hopkins Park community. Students participate in field trips and in-class activities that allow them to make connections to nature in their backyard, such as The Pembroke Savanna Nature Preserve (Ball Hill). Field Museum is excited to be collaborating with The Nature Conservancy and local landowners to get LRSSTA students outdoors.  

After a successful year at the Pembroke Public Library, LRSSTA is the new home of Rooted! The Richness of Land & Culture, an exhibit co-developed by Field Museum and PHP residents that highlights the significance of this ecosystem and local human history. We encourage members of the community to enjoy this exhibit.

          Pembroke Sustainability Planning Sessions        
Environment & Conservation

Through support from The Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Keller Science Action Center is facilitating Sustainability Planning Sessions in Pembroke Township, IL. Though Pembroke has always been known for its incredibly diverse wildlife, there is currently no plan in place to ensure its protection. Various conservation agencies have interest in acquiring land, but no formal understanding existed between the residents and the agencies to determine what is best. In early 2016, The Field Museum helped to establish a joint agreement between the agencies and elected offices to collaborate on a sustainability plan for the region.

Following the agreement, the team initiated a series of community meetings with Pembroke-Hopkins Park residents, the Nature Conservancy, United States Fish & Wildlife Service, State of Illinois conservation representatives, and government officials from the Village of Hopkins Park, Pembroke Township, and Kankakee County. During these sessions, participants have the opportunity to ask stakeholders questions directly, receive updates from government officials, and contribute to planning initiatives in smaller working groups. In December and January they explored ways to protect the community’s natural resources and achieve sustainable economic development. An immediate outcome was the commitment from USFWS to establish a stipend-based youth program this summer that will hire local teenagers. The program will hire four teens and one supervisor to do restoration projects in community greenspaces while learning about ecology and conservation. Residents are encouraged to be a part of this program by helping to create the curriculum and suggesting locations in the area that needs work.

As the sessions draw upon the wisdom of farmers, ranchers, and longtime members of the community, the team is hopeful that more impactful outcomes will come out of this process. USFWS has announced they will include the results of this sustainability planning process for their federally mandated land protection plan. And further TNC and USFWS will not buy more land in this region until the process is complete. The final meeting will take place in February, and will identify strategies for building upon community values in the face of growth and change. These planning sessions have helped to create much needed dialogue in the township. The Field Museum is looking forward to the continued growth in the community and protection of precious land.

          Quality of Life report published        
Environment & Conservation


The Field Museum is happy to announce the publication of the Pembroke-Hopkins Park Quality of Life Report. Pembroke-Hopkins Park (PHP) is a rural African-American community about an hour south of Chicago. It is rich in biodiversity and culture, and has a long-standing tradition in agriculture. This area is of particular interest because of the high concentration of globally rare black oak savanna which is home to many species in population decline, including henslow’s sparrow, bobolink, and regal fritillary butterfly. Over the years conservation land acquisition has become a pressing issue, along with other concerns such as opportunities for youth and threats to the environment. The Field Museum engaged the community in a process to find out what is important for both the land and the people.

In spring of 2016, Keller Science Action Center staff trained a team of local facilitators who led residents through a structured process to determine what well-being and sustainability mean within the community. The team used The Field Museum’s approach to help residents draw upon their core values and community strengths to develop recommendations to improve quality of life and access to natural areas. For PHP, this involves strong cultural traditions, healthy social relationships, the ability to meet basic needs, and a fair political system.

The Quality of Life Report documents the outcomes of this process, and serves as an empowering tool for residents to convey the values, assets, and opportunities for growth in the community. It is available in public spaces such as the local library and school. It will be used as the foundation for sustainability planning in Pembroke lead by residents to help determine a clear future direction. This could not have been possible without the generous support of Science Innovation and Field of Dreams grants.  

          Merlin confirmed nesting in Illinois for the first time!        
BirdsMerlin by John Picken

Merlin. Photo Â© John Picken / www.picken.com

Last week, the Field Museum Bird Collection received a batch of specimens from Willowbrook Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation facility in the Chicago suburbs that has been a long-time partner of ours. Not every animal that enters the rehab facility survives, and when they don't, they end up as research specimens at the Field Museum. Among the specimens was a hatchling raptor that was picked up alive, but underweight and in poor health, by Willowbrook volunteer Hans Lim on July 22 in Mt. Prospect, in northwest Cook County. Despite Willowbrook's efforts, the bird didn't survive. The bird was so young that it still had some of its natal down and its primaries were not fully grown, indicating that it couldn't fly, or at least couldn't fly far. The bird, understandably, was originally thought to be a Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), a local and uncommon breeding species in northeast Illinois, but not unheard of. It's a species that we infrequently add to the collection, averaging fewer than one per year from Illinois over the last decade (almost all of which came to us from Willowbrook). Even rarer is getting such a young bird, even though all birds, raptors included, have high rates of mortality in their first year of life.


Merlin chick in Mt. Prospect, Illinois
This Merlin chick seemed to have fallen out of nest. It was in poor health and was taken to Willowbrook Wildlife Center, but it didn't survive. It represents the first nesting record for the state of Illinois. Photo by Hans Lim.

Because of the specimen's rarity, we prioritized it for preparation. As I walked through the prep lab on Wednesday, I saw it sitting out, waiting for Tom Gnoske to prepare it as a study skin. But it immediately struck me as off for a Broad-winged Hawk. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a Merlin!

Merlin (Falco columbarius) is a small falcon that typically breeds in the boreal forests well to our north and has never before been confirmed nesting in Illinois. However, they have been seen a few times in summer in the state in recent years and they've been expanding their breeding range south in recent decades. Over that same period of time, much like Cooper's Hawk and Peregrine Falcon, they have been adapting to urban landscapes. Many birders predicted that it wouldn't be long before Merlins were confirmed breeding in Illinois, and it has finally happened. In the 2013 volume of the Illinois state ornithological journal, Meadowlark, Steven D. Bailey discussed this very scenario:

One species that appears to have Illinois in its crosshairs for expanding its breeding range southward is the boreal-nesting Merlin...This year [2012], two Merlins were well-documented with photos, both in July, and one as far south as central Illinois. As I write this, a female and two juvenile Merlins have been discovered at Pokogan State Park in Indiana near its border with Michigan, likely representing that state’s first nesting record. Merlins showed the largest increase in population in a recent study group of boreal-nesting bird species (Niven et al. 2004), and the species has made a fairly rapid movement into urban and suburban city breeding locales over a large part of their range relatively recently (Warkentin et al. 2005), including agricultural and urban areas of nearby Wisconsin (Cutright et al. 2006). In Ontario, Canada, only one urban nesting Merlin was found during their first breeding bird atlas project in 1986, but by the time their next atlas project was completed in 2006, the Merlin had become the most common breeding raptor in some Ontario cities, including Ottawa (Cadman et al. 2007). Illinois birders should be on the lookout for nesting Merlins in the years to come. They don’t build their own nests but often choose old American Crow (and so also likely old Cooper’s Hawk nests), often near water, especially wetlands.

Merlins have become more common in winter in Illinois, as well, and no doubt they will be found nesting again in our state. In Massachusetts, for example, Merlin was first found nesting in 2008, and has since become a regular breeding species there. In the case of the Mt. Prospect nest, just one young bird was found on the ground. Given that the average number of chicks per nest is 3.5-4 (Sodhi et al. 2005), we can hope its siblings survived and will come back to breed in the area next year. 


Merlin chick in the prep lab
The Merlin chick in the Field Museum's prep lab, before being prepared as a research specimen. In the photo you can see the remaining fluffy white natal feathers as well as the partially-grown primaries. Photo by Josh Engel.

Thanks to Hans Lim for providing photos of the bird and details about the circumstances around picking it up, Ron Skleney for providing additional details, and John Picken for providing the banner image. 

Literature cited

Bailey, S.D. 2013. Field Notes: The 2012 Breeding Season. Meadowlark: A Journal of Illinois Birds. 22: 9-44. 

Cadman, M.D., D.A.Sutherland, G.G. Beck, D. LePage, and A.R. Couturier (eds.). 2007. Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Toronto: Birds Studies Canada et al. 706 pp. 

Cutright, N.J., B.R. Harriman, and R.W. Howe (eds.). 2006. Atlas of the breeding birds of Wisconsin. Madison: Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. 602 pp.

Niven, D.K., J.R. Sauer, G.S. Butcher, and W.A. Link. 2004. Christmas Bird Count provides insights into population chance in land birds that breed in the boreal forest. American Birds. 58: 10-20. 

Warkentin, I.G., N.S. Sodhi, R.H.M. Espie, A.F. Poole, L.W. Oliphant, and P.C. James. 2005. Merlin (Falco columbarius). The Birds of North America (P.R. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from The Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/merlin/ DOI: 10.2173/bna.44




          Of Ivory Gulls and Parasites        
BirdsIvory Gull by Nathan Goldberg

Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea) photo by Nathan Goldberg.

On the morning of January 7, I received a phone call from our former intern Nathan Goldberg, currently a student at Cornell University, who was birding in northeast Minnesota. "I just found a roadkill Spruce Grouse, do you guys want it?" That was an easy question: "Of course we do," I replied. Spruce Grouse is a bird of the North Woods, far from Chicago, so this was an excellent opportunity to get a fresh specimen of a species that rarely comes into the collection. Plus we have all of the necessary permits to receive specimens from Minnesota.

That was just the beginning of the story. One of the main reasons Nathan was in that area, along with dozens of other birders, was to see the rare Ivory Gull that showed up a week earlier on the Duluth lakefront and was being seen daily.

Not long after his phone call, I saw a distressing message on Facebook--an Ivory Gull had been found dead, mostly eaten by a mammal, just across the border in Wisconsin. Only the head and wings remained. Laura Erickson, a birder who lives in Duluth, went out and salvaged what was left of the specimen after learning of the bird's demise. As is the norm these days, all of this was known in real-time thanks to social media.  Nathan then contacted Laura to ask if, while he was at it, he could take the Ivory Gull remains to the Field Museum along with the Spruce Grouse that was already in his trunk. She agreed. In the meantime, a living, breathing Ivory Gull was seen again in Duluth! (I highly recommend reading Laura’s account of the remarkable situation). Late the following night, Nathan, knowing that his mother wouldn't approve of a big bag of dead birds in her freezer, stopped by my apartment on his way home from Minnesota to drop off the specimens.


Nathan Goldberg ruffling
Nathan Goldberg and I examine the Ivory Gull specimen for ectoparasites. Photo by Lynne Remington.

As an intern at the Museum, Nathan had worked with Jason Weckstein, a former staff scientist whose research focuses on birds and their associated parasites. Not wanting to miss an opportunity for further study, Nathan asked that we wait a week to prepare the specimens so he could come in to the museum and examine them himself for lice. That wasn't a problem, and we both knew Jason would be thrilled to receive anything that he found. 

The following week Nathan came to the museum to do just this. We had pulled the birds out of one of the Bird Collection’s many freezers that morning, so they were thawed and ready to be "ruffled," the term for rummaging through a bird’s plumage to collect its ectoparasites: lice, mites, fleas, and ticks in particular. We find ectos, as we call them, on roughly 50% of the birds we check; today, however, the success rate was 100%. Nathan found lice on both the Ivory Gull and the Spruce Grouse as well as a mite on the gull. It's entirely possible that some of the parasites represent new species. We checked the “Bird Louse Bible,” and it turns out that several louse species have been found on Ivory Gulls—the first was described way back in 1780! Just one species is known from Spruce Grouse.


The Ivory Gull's louse, in the genus Quadraceps. Photo by Nathan Goldberg.

Tom Gnoske, our Assistant Collections Manager, then prepared both birds as specimens. The Ivory Gull specimen consists of one wing, the head feathering, the skull, plus additional feathers. The Spruce Grouse was prepared as a study skin, with a partial skeleton saved as well. As we do for every specimen that comes through the prep lab, tissue samples were saved from both birds to preserve their DNA. A quick search of VertNet, the online database of museum bird collections, shows that the Ivory Gull tissue sample may be only the second one in a museum collection. 

Ivory Gull is a rare bird, making this a unique opportunity to study its parasite fauna and collect a tissue sample that can be used for genetic studies in the future. It is classified as Near-threatened by BirdLife International because it “has declined rapidly in part of its range,” indeed by as much as 80% in Canada over the last thirty years. Part of the problem may be mercury poisoning, which increased in their systems by 45 times in 130 years. Whether or not this is related to birds showing up so far out of range is yet to be studied. But thanks to the quick work of birders and the wonders of social media, when it is studied there is no doubt that this specimen will be used.


Ivory Gull and Spruce Grouse specimens
The prepared specimens: the Ivory Gull's wing and head feathers, along with the Spruce Grouse and a Least Bittern.


          With an emphasis on culture, a new kind of nature trail emerges along Chicago’s south lakefront        
Environment & Conservation

North of the Margaret Burroughs Beach, a Caracol-inspired gathering space with a Mesoamerican hop scotch game is be part of a new trail in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. This is one of five sites installed in by teams of artists and community-based organizations whose designs are inspired both by local ecology, as well as the heritage of communities adjacent to the south lakefront.

Moving along the trail, just past the 31st Harbor, an intertwined monarch butterfly sculpture crowns a hill, this design will be circled with common milkweed. West of Lake Shore Drive on 31st Street, south on the trail, a Scholar's rock sits in a grove of mature oak trees; have a seat and imagine the sounds of traffic as waves from an ocean, urban nature at its best. Crossing 39th street/Oakwood, on the west side of Lake Shore Drive, designed for growth every year, sculpted willow branches take organic shapes. The woodchip trail continues, a fallen tree hugs a bird sculpture born from the Sankofa symbol, a soulful reflection on nature.

The Gathering Spaces, part of the Roots & Routes Initiative, were curated by a volunteer committee comprised of arts professionals and community leaders. 

Caracol Opening

Caracol, Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Roots & Routes, Habitat Restoration, Pilsen, Contratiempo, Chicago, Lakefront
Photo by John Weinstein, © The Field Museum

1. Caracol

Lead artists:  Georgina Valverde, Diana Solis, Jose Terrazas

Non-profit partner:  contratiempo (Pilsen) – preserves and highlights the cultural identity and contributions of the Spanish-speaking

Latino population in the United States.

Description:  Drawing on rich connections from the natural world and cultural symbolism, Caracol (“snail” and “shell” in Spanish) represents the immigrant's desire to belong while maintaining the core of memory and identity. Snails perform a critical role in the food chain, breaking down plant matter and aiding in the nutrification of the soil. Likewise, immigrants economic and cultural contributions enrich and revitalize the host society. Caracol´spiral-shaped structure suggests ongoing movement from the core to a widening exterior—from the familiar to the unknown.  The installation includes a table that can function as a work or picnic table, and as a painting surface for a series of murals featuring the interplay of language and images, a stage, and a hopscotch game that uses Mesoamerican numbers.


La Ronda Parakata

Gathering Spaces, Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Chicago, Festivals, Summer, Spring, Latino art, African-American art, monarch butterfly, sankofa, bronzeville, pilsen, chinatown, scholars rock, La Ronda Parakata
Photo by John Weinstein, © The Field Museum

2. La Ronda Parakata

Lead artists:  Hector DuarteAlfonso “Piloto” Nieves

Non-profit partner:  Casa Michoacán (Pilsen) – promotes cultural, social, and sporting activities between the Mexican and immigrant Michoacán community, with a transnational vision.

Description:  This project is a circular sculpture inspired by the magic symbolism of the butterfly, harmony with nature, and migration.  It is demarcated by a delicate sculptural ring or “ronda” of interlocking butterfly forms. The center of the space features native plants and cement blocks that are being repurposed as rustic seating.


Set in Stone

Gathering Spaces, Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Chicago, Festivals, Summer, Spring, Latino art, African-American art, monarch butterfly, sankofa, bronzeville, pilsen, chinatown, scholars rock, Set in Stone
Photo by John Weinstein, © The Field Museum

3. Set in Stone

Lead artists:  Andy Bellomo, Anna Murphy

Non-profit partner:  Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (Chinatown) -- promotes the culture and history of Chinese-Americans in the Midwest through exhibitions, education and research.

Description:  This project is an interpretation of a traditional Chinese “scholar’s rock” by sculpting, molding and fabricating a sculpture that emulates the magnificence felt through viewing these rocks. The scholar’s rock sculpture is placed at the center of a tranquil rock garden with hand-carved log benches for viewing/contemplation.


Sounding Bronzeville

Gathering Spaces, Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Chicago, Festivals, Summer, Spring, Latino art, African-American art, monarch butterfly, sankofa, bronzeville, pilsen, chinatown, scholars rock, Sounding Bronzeville
Photo by John Weinstein, © The Field Museum

4. Sounding Bronzeville

Lead artists:  Fo Wilson, Norman Teague

Non-profit partner:  Bronzeville Community Development Partnership (Bronzeville) -- focuses on information technology, heritage tourism, hospitality workforce development and training, preservation and sustainability in Bronzeville.

Description:  This site includes several organic, amorphous sculptural forms that rise from the ground in different heights and shapes, covered with native plant material. Some of these forms serve as seating, and some have “sound ports” or “nesting ports.” These openings allow for visibility through the forms as well as opportunities for specific audial experiences between people. This piece commemorates and remembers the strength and resilience of thousands of African-Americans who made the journey from the South seeking better opportunities North with 100 years of the Great Migration.

Architects: Monica Chadha and Mike Newman; Landscape Architects Nilay Mistry and Nathan Wright; Willow Furniture Maker and Consultant Dave Chapman


Sankofa for the Earth

Gathering Spaces, Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Chicago, Festivals, Summer, Spring, Latino art, African-American art, monarch butterfly, sankofa, bronzeville, pilsen, chinatown, scholars rock, Sankofa for the Earth
Photo by John Weinstein, © The Field Museum

5. Sankofa for the Earth

Lead artists:  Arlene Turner Crawford, Dorian Sylvain, Raymond A. Thomas

Non-profit partner:  South Side Community Art Center (Bronzeville) -- preserves, conserves and promotes the legacy and future of African American art and artists, while educating the community on the value of art and culture.

Description:  This project features a “Sankofa” bird made from mixed-media and recycled materials. In Africa, a bird looking backwards over its tail represents the Sankofa symbol, which means “go back and fetch it.” It is an understanding that our past(s) holds important information to move us forward in life. There is a mosaic on the exterior of the bird and mural on the interior representing Bronzeville history. QR codes are integrated into the mural design to allow visitors with smartphones, to access sites with information about the images included in the mural, as well as, information on Bronzeville, the Chicago Park District and the Field Museum.


How to get to the Gathering Spaces: 

Gathering Spaces Map

          Post-storm Northerly Island update        
BirdsStorm damage Northerly Island

Storm debris, broken fence, closed path, and erosion under the east trail at Northerly Island. 

Northerly Island, the Museum Campus park that occupies the peninsula where small planes once took off from Meigs Field, was re-opened last fall after a two-year, $9.7 million renovation project. I wrote a review of it at the time. One of my concerns that I wrote about was a last-minute modification to the plans: due to storm damage that occurred during the construction, a large wall of rip-rap was added to the lakeshore in an attempt to protect the park from future storm damage. While perhaps important from a structural perspective, the wall had the unfortunate effect of blocking off visitors' views of the lake as they enjoyed the wide path around the newly constructed lagoon. 

A major storm system passed through Chicago on December 28, bringing with it howling east winds, which in turn created huge waves that pounded the lakeshore. Lake Shore Drive flooded and much of the lakefront bike path was closed. Two days later, it was announced that the east (lakeside) trail at Northerly Island would be closed for the remainder of the winter, because "high wave events have been eroding the trail and is [sic] tossing rocks along the trail." Curious, I headed over there to take some photos and see the damage for myself. I was especially interested to see if the rip-rap wall succeeded in limiting damage to the areas it was built to protect and to see how much disturbance there was to the fragile vegetation. While the damage to the trail and vegetation was less in areas where the rip-rap wall was, even that couldn't fully contain the enormous waves, which knocked down a long stretch of adjacent fence. 


Storm damage Northerly Island
With the Chicago skyline in the background, you can see the rocks and gravel strewn about the recently planted grasslands. The trail is also covered with debris. This area was not protected by the wall of rip-rap along the shore. 


Storm damage Northerly Island
This area has been planted with native grasses during the renovations, but all that was covered by gravel and stone in the storms. 


Storm damage Northerly Island
A view of the east trail looking south, where it is covered in stones, gravel, and storm debris. The fence is damaged in places as well.


Storm damage Northerly Island
Storm debris, broken fence, closed path, and erosion under the east trail at Northerly Island. 


Storm damage Northerly Island
Water washing over the rip-rap wall knocked down the path-enclosing fence in some places.


Storm damage Northerly Island
This photo shows the knocked-down fence and extensive erosion under the trail on the east side of the lagoon. The soil underneath the path was already eroding quite severely before the storms; the park district had put down the rocks seen here to try to prevent further erosion. It didn't work in the face of the big storms that passed through on December 28. 


Storm damage Northerly Island
The fence was knocked down and sand and rocks covered the recently planted vegetation along parts of the east side of the lagoon.


Storm damage Northerly Island map

          Northerly Island reopens!        

It's been a long time coming: after more than two years of construction, this morning Northerly Island officially reopened. Although not "officially" open until 10am, many people were out early this morning enjoying the new paved walkway that loops through the southern 40 acres of the park. I was one of those people, hoping for some interesting migrants and checking out the site's birding potential. 

Every bit of open space on the lakefront is important for the birds themselves as a place to rest and refuel, and Northerly Island's location--jutting out into the lake--makes it an especially important site. According to eBird, no fewer than 241 species have been reported there. It has been particularly good for grassland migrants, birds like Nelson's and Le Conte's Sparrows, Bobolink, Sedge Wren, and Short-eared Owl. It's also attracted some great rarities over the years, most recently Brewer's Sparrow and Sage Thrasher. But what does the future hold for birding here?

This morning was very quiet, with virtually no migrants. That's not an indictment of the habitat, however; it just wasn't a good day for migrants. In fact, the new Northerly Island has the potential to be just as good, if not better, as a birding destination than it was previously. The southern forty acres, where the construction took place and where most birders will focus their efforts, is primarily made up of two habitats--grasslands and pond. The grasslands (which lie on small hills) will undoubtedly attract good numbers of sparrows and other grassland migrants, just as the old Northerly did, but it may take some time until the vegetation has matured enough for the birds to arrive. The vegetation is still sparse in some places, however, and even this morning there were contractors out spraying invasive species. There are also plans to add 400 trees and 12,000 shrubs by 2017, which should enhance the habitat and make it attractive to a greater diversity of migrating birds. 

The pond--which this morning had a couple of cormorants, small groups of Mallards and Canada Geese, and a Great Blue Heron--is particularly intriguing. The edges are lined with wetland vegetation, and although the water levels are currently too high for shorebirds, I can imagine large shorebirds, interesting waterfowl, or even an ibis dropping in at some point. They'd have to be tolerant of people to stick around for long, however, given how close the paved trail is to much of the pond. The edges of the pond could attract rails, Marsh Wrens, and other migrants that like wetter grasslands, so long as that vegetation doesn't get trampled by fishermen and others wanting to get close to the water. 


A panoramic view of the Northerly Island pond, looking west. 

The biggest downside of the new development is the fact that from most of the path, you can see neither Lake Michigan nor Burnham Harbor. One of the great things about the old Northerly was the expansive view of the lake, so that while tromping through the grasslands for sparrows you could also be watching for migrating ducks, shorebirds, and terns flying over the lake (not to mention the lake is simply nice to look at!). Now you will have to climb up on the rip-rap for a view of the lake. The once-expansive views of the sky are also more limited now due to the addition of hills, so watching for migrants coming from the north will be a little more difficult. 

As of now, there is fence lining the entire trail, understandably preventing access to the grasslands and pond edge while the vegetation takes hold. It also prevents access to the lakeshore rip-rap and the west side of the park, preventing views of the harbor. You can get good views of the pond, which will be worth keeping an eye on this fall, even if the fence will make birding difficult otherwise.  The northern half of the island remains open and is still worth checking, too, especially the east side with its weedy vegetation, shrubs, and cottonwoods. It will be some time--years even--until the full birding potential of the new Northerly Island is realized, but in the meantime the birding will be good and I plan on checking it regularly. 


Northerly Island is best known among birders for its grassland migrants, like this Sedge Wren. I took this photo at Northerly Island in September 2012.

          Peregrine Removed from Illinois' Endangered List        

Illinois officially removed Peregrine Falcons from the state Endangered & Threatened Species List.

What does this means for our state population of Peregrine Falcons? First, it is an affirmation of the recovery of the species in Illinois.  This is due in part to the long-term stewardship and dedicated effort of numerous individuals and organizations that have supported and assisted in looking after Illinois’ Peregrines. 

It does not leave our Peregrines unprotected. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it "illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations." Peregrines are protected under this law. 

Another thing the Peregrine’s removal from Illinois’ state Endangered & Threatened Species List will not change is the work conducted by the Chicago Peregrine Program. The Chicago Peregrine Program oversees Illinois' Peregrine Falcon population. This is accomplished in part by monitoring individual birds as well as nest sites, conducting scientific research and participating in public education.

Illinois currently (2015) has Peregrines at 28 different locations in the state, 19 of which are breeding pairs. While the majority of the state population are urban dwellers, Peregrines are using natural cliffs down near Alton, IL.

It has been wonderful to witness the return of Peregrines to Illinois. Many thanks and congratulations to all! 

          History and birds come together: "Spring Migration Notes" from 1920 and its famous authors        

This little booklet has so much history, it's hard to know even where to begin. Let's start with the fact that the first author, James D. Watson, is the father of one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century, also named James D. Watson, who along with Francis Crick is credited with the discovery of the structure of DNA. But that's the least of it. The third author is even more intriguing. A budding young ornithologist, just 15 years old at the time the booklet was published, Nathan Leopold would spend the bulk of his adult life in prison for the murder of Bobby Franks, one of the most famous crimes of the 20th century.

The Field Museum's copy of Spring Migration Notes of The Chicago Area, published in 1920, is now stored in the Mary W. Runnells Rare Book Room. Because of its historical value, it was recently added to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, including the type-written, hand-signed letter on page 4 from young Nathan Leopold to Ruthven Deane, a leading ornithologist of his time and a resident of Chicago, who eventually donated part of his collection of specimens to the Field Museum (as Leopold did when he went to jail). The cover of this copy even says "Compliments of the authors," presumably written by Leopold.


The typed, hand-signed letter, from Nathan Leopold to Ruthven Deane, that can be found in the booklet.

Then there's the actual information that the booklet contains, a priceless indication of what the birdlife of Chicago was like in the early part of the 20th century. At the time, many wetland birds that are now rare or altogether gone as breeding birds were still common, an indication of the destruction of wetlands in the Chicago area over the last century.  This includes birds like Black Tern (about which the authors say "Breeds commonly"), King Rail ("Common summer resident"), and Wilson's Phalarope ("Nests in the Calumet region"). On the other hand, grassland birds were already declining, with many formerly common birds becoming rare. For example, Greater Prairie-Chicken was "A formerly abundant permanent resident; now rather rare," Northern Bobwhite was "A formerly very common permanent resident, but now rather rare," and Loggerhead Shrike, which then was known as Migrant Shrike, was a "Fairly common summer resident." These days you have to go hundreds of miles from Chicago to find Loggerhead Shrike or a prairie-chicken.

There's a lot of interesting information in the booklet, including spring arrival dates for every species each year from 1913-1920. I also love the English name the authors use for the bird we now call Snow Bunting (see page 11, bird number 534).

Special thanks to Field Museum Librarian Christine Giannoni for getting this wonderful document scanned.



          Interface deal good for the industry         

The $600 million Interface Security Systems deal has sent—as The Beach Boys once sang—“good vibrations” throughout the security industry, as it provides not only a vote of confidence for what Interface is doing as a modern systems integration company, but also a vote of confidence in the security industry, in general, as companies like Interface represent a new breed of integrator that is staying at the forefront of new technology and innovation.

John E. Mack III, executive vice president, co-head of investment banking and mergers & acquisitions at Imperial Capital, which acted as financial advisor to Interface on the deal, astutely pointed out that this deal goes beyond validation of what Interface is doing in the space.

“This is a very cool story for the sophisticated new-age security provider, which is what Interface is—the 2.0 version of what the right kind of security player should be,” he told Security Systems News. “We spend so much time in this industry talking about the residential side of the business, which is interesting, but there is a massive opportunity on the commercial side of the business that Interface is tapping into that I think is a compelling theme.”

He continued, “There is a lot of validation for a very successful business model here that Prudential is putting up $180 million of new capital, and SunTx is putting up additional capital into the deal. And that you’ve got a very attractive set of debt investors, and just the fundamental backing for the business, is a meaningful part of a positive message for the industry.”

Jeff Frye, SVP for Interface, told SSN that the support from equity partners is not only a stamp of approval for what the company is doing, but the “capital gives us more fuel to build on our current, better than 15 percent compounded annual growth rate, so we know that we can do more with a little more gas in the tank and we are anxious to prove it.”

Frye noted that the equity will allow the company to expand its products and services around providing business intelligence, as security is becoming so much more than just, well, security.

“As a network provider, and a managed services provider of network services and cybersecurity services, we touch a lot of aspects of our customers’ businesses,” Frye explained. “And as a leading purveyor of Internet of Things services, we are able to aggregate intelligence from all of those sensors and data sources to bring actionable insights to a customer’s business. There are some new verticals that we would like to focus on more, including financial services and banking, so this makes that horizon much brighter and much more approachable.”

And it also makes the security industry’s horizon a little brighter.

          ASAP expands in Virginia        

Vector Security announced in early August that Newport News, Va., is now live with Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP). Newport News joins other municipalities in the state of Virginia using ASAP, such as the City of Richmond, James City County, York County, and Henrico County.

The ASAP to PSAP program, created by The Monitoring Association—formerly CSAA—and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials automates communication between alarm monitoring central stations and 911 centers.

Transmitting alarm information digitally, results in improved accuracy and faster emergency responses by eliminating the need for communication over the phone between PSAP centers and monitoring centers.

Vector Security was the first alarm company to use ASAP in the City of Richmond, Va. in 2012. Vector Security assisted with implementation in Newport News by helping to perform extensive testing prior to the system going live.

“Alarm users in Newport News, including several hundred Vector Security customers, will benefit from faster and more accurate emergency response with the implementation of ASAP,” Anita Ostrowski, vice president of central station services at Vector Security, said in a prepared statement. “We hope the positive impact that ASAP will bring to Newport News will encourage other major 911 centers in the nation to adopt this technology as well.”

Ostrowski continued, “As a security provider, we seek ways to promote ASAP’s value to municipalities and public agencies, and help other alarm companies implement it for the greater good of the industry and the safety of our communities.”

Other municipalities that have implemented ASAP include Houston and High Point, TX; Washington D.C.; James City County, York County and Henrico County, Va.; Tempe and Chandler, Az.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Cary and Guilford County, N.C.; Kernersville and Durham County, N.C.; Johnston County, N.C.; Denton County and Grand Prairie, Texas; Morgan County, Ala.; Delaware County, Ohio; Bucks County, Pa.; and Highland Park, Texas.

          Allied Universal turns 1        

Allied Universal, a leading facility services company and one of the largest security forces in North America, marked its one-year anniversary this week after forming a year ago via the merger of AlliedBarton Security Services and Universal Services of America.

In the announcement, Steve Jones, Allied Universal CEO, thanked all of the company’s 150,000 employees and its clients “for their continued support and commitment that contributed to a phenomenal first year as our new company! I look forward to our continued success in the security and services industries."

Over the past year the company has made several acquisitions, as it continues to transform to a full-service security company, moving beyond the manguarding services the it has been known for.

Jones told Security Systems News, after the company’s most recent acquisition of ALERT Protective Services in May, that the company continues to look at acquisitions as a way to diversify its offerings.

“We’ve got a pretty robust pipeline of deals that we are looking at—some in the technology space and some in the traditional manguarding space—and we hope to announce a few more before the year is over that will help us to diversify our company and bring more value to our clients.”

In the press release announcing the one-year milestone, the company outlined some additional organizational achievements since the merger:

•    Became the unequivocal leader in guarding services throughout North America. Our security professionals and our company play a major role in keeping the U.S. and Canada safe and secure.

•    Provided service to over half of the Fortune 500 companies and nearly every major retail mall in the U.S. From healthcare facilities, commercial office buildings, manufacturing and industrial plants, residential communities, transportation facilities and government services, Allied Universal has a significant security presence.

•    Managed the integration of a workforce of over 150,000 security professionals to perform our jobs on a daily basis and serve our growing customer base.

•    Implemented a world-class training program, the AU Institute, which offers over 1,000 training assets and professional development programs to enhance our security professionals' delivery of service and protection.

•    Introduced several technological innovations to expand our physical and operational security solutions and service offerings to enhance the protection of client properties and assets.


          COPS announces new workshop series        

COPS Monitoring, a brand under Lydia Security Monitoring, on July 27 announced its Grow Your Business roadshow, with seminars currently planned for Denver, Colo., Boca Raton, Fla., Salt Lake City and Williamstown, N.J., with more to be announced.

“The genesis of the seminars actually began with our UCC dealer customers; we started these … sometime in the 2015 time frame,” Ron Bowden, director of dealer development for Lydia’s UCC brand and leader of these seminars, told Security Systems News. The Grow Your Business seminars is an example of collaboration between COPS and UCC following Lydia Security Monitoring's acquisition of UCC in January 2016. 

“The thought process is that we would put together a business class that worked in helping our dealers in certain areas of their business: in sales, in attrition control, in … installation efficiencies, compensations plans, sales recruiting. [These are] things that a small- to mid-sized business could take and apply in their business that could get immediate results without spending large sums of money,” Bowden said. 

The seminars are not exclusive to COPS and UCC dealer customers, Bowden pointed out, and the workshops suit a range of dealers. “In our class [on Aug. 3], we had dealers that are small to just getting started, to people that have been in business twenty years that have a several-thousand account base,” he said. “I think the basics and the principles apply to all—it’s just how they’re used.” 

“Since the beginning, COPS has been dedicated to supporting independent alarm dealers world-class monitoring along with the tools, services, and education they need to help them run their business and improve their bottom line,” David Smith, VP of marketing and business development at COPS, told SSN via email.

“Now that UCC is part of the Lydia team, Ron’s ‘Grow Your Business’ seminars seemed like a natural fit to our longstanding tradition of helping our dealers succeed.  Though COPS and UCC continue to operate as separate brands, on separate monitoring platforms, and with separate management teams, we still learn from each other and share best practices – especially when it brings value to our dealers," Smith said.

The Grow Your Business seminars will teach dealers how they can increase sales with lead generation programs and other professional marketing services from My Studio [Pros], an agency dedicated to helping dealers of all sizes successfully grow their business in the security and smart home automation market.

Updated on Aug. 3.

          US company to offer microchip implants to employees        

Over the past few years, the security industry has begun to embrace many new technologies—robotics, the cloud, biometrics, for example—but one company here in the U.S., Three Square Market, is pushing the boundaries of RFID technology by offering to implant tiny RFID chips—the size of a grain of rice—into its employees’ hands between the thumb and forefinger.

The chip would allow employees to not only buy snacks in the break room but also have their hands function as a mobile key to gain access to the building and other doors, which makes me think of the possible applications/ramifications within security.

Implanting chips in employee’s hands is already being done in Sweden, where an organization named Epicenter is having success with an increasing number of employees there opting to get the implant. Here in the U.S., Three Square Market says it has approximately 50 employees who are interested in getting the implant, and unlike in Sweden, the company is paying for the $300 procedure for its employees. Three Square Market partnered with a Swedish firm, BioHax International, to make the chip and is planning to sell the technology to other companies.

"Eventually, this technology will become standardized, allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.," chief executive Todd Westby wrote in a blog post announcing the program, noting that there is even potential for storing medical/health information, and for use as payment at other RFID terminals.

But one has to wonder what security vulnerabilities this could create, especially in protecting the data on that chip from being hacked, stolen and/or compromised, etc. Not to mention, the “creepy” factor here, as mass adoption of microchip implants is dubious, at best.

Maybe some day, like in the year 2112, but in the short term, I do think there is good fodder here for a futuristic sci-fi movie.

          PERS Summit lines up 2017 speakers        

AvantGuard has several speakers lined up for its upcoming PERS Summit, to be held here Sept. 26-28, as well as some of the events.

This year’s PERS Summit will start with a tour of AvantGuard’s recently remodeled facility. “We’ve got about 25,000 square feet and three levels, and the building will be completely remodeled, inside and out, by the time the event starts. So, people will really get to see—hands on—how that monitoring of the PERS devices works,” Sonja Jorgenson, AvantGuard’s director of marketing, told Security Systems News.

Aron Ralston will be one of the conference’s keynote speakers. “His story is told in that movie, 127 hours,” Jorgenson noted. Ralston was exploring a Utah canyon when his arm got caught, forcing Ralston to amputate the limb.

One of the speakers will be Eric Allen, an attorney who can speak to certain marketing techniques. “His expertise is … issues that are raised when businesses are contacting customers through texting and automated calls. He really understands that, the regulations, and the new rules that are coming out in 2017.”

Laurie Orlov, another speaker at the conference, is focused on aging-in place.  “She has an interesting background in technology, especially targeted to aging seniors,” Jorgenson said. “She’s going to share some predictions about what those technology trends are going to look like in 2017 and beyond.”

The Summit’s other speakers have not yet been announced.

“Then, every year, we have a panel of experts in the industry and we talk about a relevant issue. Last time, we talked about fall detection and [the panelists’] feelings about that, and where [the technology] was and if it was really helpful,” Jorgenson said. “We haven’t disclosed what that topic will be yet, but that panel discussion’s always a big talking point.”

Jorgenson said that AvantGuard hopes to give attendees more access to the presentations at this Summit, which will allow attendees to further review information after returning from the conference. “I think there will be a lot of information, … so, it’s a lot to digest in just a couple days,” she said.

The company also sends an anonymous survey to its dealers, which asks about a range of topics, including the software that dealers use or the types of customers dealers are seeing, AvantGuard marketing assistant Alex Flitton said. “We actually have a lot of really good feedback so far,” he told SSN. “All of this information will be compiled and interpreted by some of the experts in the industry, to present to our attendees.”

Networking is another benefit of the event, Flitton noted. “It just puts a lot of like-minded people in a really solid environment where they can interact,” he said.

The Summit will be held at The Chateaux Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. The conference has been here for each conference.

          PSA TEC 2018 call for presentations now open        

The PSA Security Network, a security and systems integrator cooperative with headquarters in Westminster, Colo., is accepting presentations through Aug. 4, 2017 for its TEC 2018 annual conference. Proposals can be submitted at www.psatec.com/cfp.

TEC 2018, which will be held at the Sheraton Downtown Denver in Denver, Colo., March 12-16, 2018, is a premier education and networking event for all professional systems integrators in the security and audio-visual markets. TEC features education and certification programs, networking, and dedicated exhibit hours designed to advance the skills and expertise of industry professionals nationwide. This training venue is open to all industry professionals and is designed to meet the educational needs of all employees within an integrator’s organization.

PSA Security Network’s president and CEO Bill Bozeman told Security Systems News that the move from Westminster—where the conference had been held for several years—to downtown Denver fro 2018 was needed to accommodate the growth of the show.

“The hotel [Downtown Denver Sheraton] is bigger, so we look forward to having everyone under one roof,” Bozeman told SSN. “In addition, I think some of our younger members and supporters are going to enjoy being in downtown Denver, where there is so much to do.”

The education program will deliver sessions tailored to physical security and audio-visual integrators focused on emerging technologies, critical issues in the industry, and tool development to augment attendees’ knowledge needed to continue to drive these industries forward. Sessions will be selected that serve a variety of disciplines including business management, sales and marketing, HR and recruiting, project management and operations, and installation and service.

Proposals are welcome for both certification programs and general education sessions for the security and audio-visual markets. All sessions must be unbiased and minimize commercial references and overt branding. Submissions are evaluated based on topic relevance, speaker expertise, and originality of the content. Additional guidelines are available within the call for presentations submission tool.

Accepted and approved presenters will receive complimentary registration to TEC 2018 and will have the opportunity to solidify their reputation as an industry resource and subject matter expert while expanding their own professional network and gaining access to strategic partnerships. PSA does not pay honoraria or expenses for accepted proposals.

          SSN talks with I-View Now about recent Eagle Eye integration         

Recently, I-View Now announced a new integration with Eagle Eye Networks. I got the chance to catch up with I-View Now president Larry Folsom to hear a bit about this partnership and how it works.

“The I-View Now integration with Eagle Eye Networks is a cloud to cloud integration,” Folsom said in an email interview. “We appreciate the architecture in that it is a smart appliance that can be used with inexpensive or expensive cameras depending on the opportunity and requirements. We think this is important for scale (as opposed to cloud systems that require expensive cameras). We found the Eagle Eye Networks APIs to be robust and well thought out.”

Folsom discussed how the partnership will benefit I-View Now’s customers.

“We believe this is another great video partner for our dealers and central stations to utilize while protecting their customers,” Folsom said. “It is import to see that the Eagle Eye Networks video will work with all I-View Now compatible signaling integrations (security systems) and will play in the same universal player for operators, end users, and law enforcement.”

Folsom noted that I-View Now has had a busy year; it partnered with COPS Monitoring and earlier this year announced that cameras from Bosch, OpenEye and Hikvision can now come I-View Now Ready. “We currently have a backlog but we are working our way through it and have been actively hiring engineers to build out the team to support the demand,” he said.

When asked what the company is currently working on, Folsom pointed to the company’s work with Digital Barriers, announced in early June.

“This integration is fun because every clip we produce will be processed with the video analytic,” said Folsom. “The process will add intelligence (percent of likelihood of a person) to all of our existing video integrations to reduce false alarms and add bounding boxes so the agent and the end user can see where the changes occurred.”

          CSG gains $40 million in financing        

Central Security Group on July 6 announced that it received an incremental first lien term loan of $40 million, as well as a 12-month maturity extension to its credit facilities.

The new funding “is part of a broader $350 million financing the company started in 2014. This was an add on to that financing,” Richard Ginsburg, president and CEO of Central Security Group, told Security Systems News in an email interview. CSG finances through Credit Suisse, Ginsburg noted.

Asked about growth initiatives, Ginsburg said, “We continue to grow our business through our long-standing Authorized Dealer Program, supplemented by our organic efforts.”

In the recent announcement, Ginsburg mentioned that the funding will help the company with geographic expansion, acquisitions and growing its account base. The announcement also emphasized the company’s Alert 360 offering, which provides interactive security.

Concerning acquisitions, Ginsburg told SSN, “We are always looking but are very selective.”

Ginsburg discussed what CSG looks for in an ideal acquisition. “We would consider quality companies with customers put on through more traditional marketing,” he told SSN. “We also look for companies with good employees and managers who are hitting glass ceilings because of the company's size and who would benefit from a company like ours, with more resources, financing, and a positive culture.”


          Sandy Springs considers fining dealers for false alarms        

The new Sandy Springs, Ga. alarm ordinance, which is set to be voted on July 18, is alarming many in the security industry as it looks to force alarm dealers to pay their subscriber's false alarm fees and fines.

“This makes as much sense as a car rental company being responsible for paying your speeding tickets if you get caught speeding in their car,” Dan Gordon, president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association (GELSSA), and owner of Ga.-based Gordon Security, told Security System News.

Gordon, as well as many security companies working in Georgia, including LOUD Security and Ackerman Security, are rallying others in the industry to pay attention to what is going on in Sandy Springs.

“If Sandy Springs passes this, which city goes next?” John Loud, president of LOUD Security Systems, told SSN, noting that he does not think this ordinance will help Sandy Springs reduce false dispatches.

“They outsource the collections to a firm called CryWolf (Public Safety Corporation),” Loud explained. “Their service includes collecting the assessed fines. The cost to Sandy Springs is the same, whether the bill goes to the end users of the alarm system or the alarm company. But the alarm company’s costs will increase. They will now have to bill their customers and establish a collection process, increasing the workload for their personnel.”

Loud and others in opposition to the ordinance believe this will actually cause an increase in the amount of false dispatches.

“Citizens will usually respond to citations from their local police or city municipality,” he explained. “If a vendor or service provider sends an assessment, they could very easily change monitoring companies and get additional false alarms through new providers. They can choose to never pay and continually change companies.”

He noted that this would result in more false dispatches as the end user would never be forced to change their behavior.

Loud also pointed out that the court systems of Sandy Springs will have a lot more cases. ”Either the alarm companies will be filing suit to collect monies from customers refusing to pay or the city will be pursuing alarm companies for nonpayment of fines they do not have the money to pay.”

He continued, “You will likely see many alarm companies choosing to not do business with residents/businesses that must comply with this ordinance. In Sandy Springs, most alarm companies charge only $25 per month. While false alarm fees can cost hundreds of dollars, the accounts receivable process will likely make it financially impossible for fire/alarm companies to take on such risk.”

He said that Sandy Springs could achieve greater reduction in the false dispatches if they would enforce all of their current ordinance provisions, such as:

- Follow the Enhanced Call Verification Georgia State law that went into effect in 2013. “The 911 operator could very easily ask for the two phone numbers the alarm company called prior to dispatch request,” said Loud.

- Do not allow dispatch on the subscribers that have not paid for previous fines—put them on a do not dispatch list.

- Do not allow dispatch for subscribers that have had 10 false alarms in a permit year.

- Activate the false alarm school the ordinance allows for, which will provide the training and prevention of future false alarms.

“Another step Sandy Springs could pursue is a higher fee structure for excessive false alarms,” said Loud. “This would force subscribers to either fix their system, teach others to use it properly or they could choose to stop arming their system. All three of the options result in reduced dispatches.”

He continued, “While I certainly see there are many ways to help unite with the City of Sandy Springs and help them achieve their ultimate goal of reducing false dispatches and wasting government recourses, I do not believe requiring the alarm companies to pay the fees is the answer.”

The GELSSA, along with strong industry voices like Loud's, are urging those in the industry to reach out to the mayor of Sandy Springs to voice their concerns, and for security dealers in the Sandy Springs area to attend the planned vote on July 18.


          Pembelajaran Terpadu        
PEMBELAJARAN TERPADU (INTEGRATED LEARNING) Luthfiyah Nurlaela A. Pendahuluan Pembelajaran terpadu (integrated learning) pada saat ini kembali banyak dibicarakan dalam berbagai forum, khususnya terkait dengan impelementasi Kurikulum Berbasis Kompetensi (KBK) dan KTSP di sekolah dasar. Pada kelas 1, 2 dan 3 SD, pelajaran disampaikan dengan menerapkan pembelajaran terpadu, yang didasarkan pada tema-tema. Karena didasarkan pada tema-tema, […]
          DropDownList Inside the Custom EditTemplate        
Hello Edwin,

You can review the Grid popup editing example implementation with Entity Framework and LocalDB in the Kendo UI for ASP.NET MVC Sample Application. You can find more detailed information about how to setup and run the application locally from the link below:

The source for the sample application can be found in the installation directory of Progress Telerik UI for ASP.NET MVC by navigating to \wrappers\aspnetmvc\Examples\VS2015\Kendo.Mvc.Examples.sln.

Progress Telerik
Try our brand new, jQuery-free Angular 2 components built from ground-up which deliver the business app essential building blocks - a grid component, data visualization (charts) and form elements.


La religión azteca mezcla elementos rituales, míticos y cósmicos. La religión azteca se desarrollo en el entorno de la ciudad Tenochtitlan, capital del estado azteca, entre los siglos XIV y XVI. Esta civilización se preocupo por la predestinación, la inestabilidad humana y el deber cósmico de luchar contra las fuerzas de la muerte.

La religión azteca es la mejor que conocemos de todas las precolombinas, ya que tenemos fuentes pictóricas, arqueologías y escritos. Todo y que la conquista española elimino muchos elementos de la civilización azteca, algunos diplomáticos y misioneros cristianos españoles recopilaron, organizaron y reprodujeron documentos indígenas, como fra Benardino de Sahagun.

Los dioses se comunicaban con la comunidad manifestando su voluntad a los teomamas o sacerdotes-chamanes a través de sueños y visiones. Los teomamas eran una especie de hombres-dioses que guiaban y organizaban las tribus, sobre todo durante las migraciones. Lo primero que hacían al llegar a un nuevo lugar era levantar un altar para la divinidad tutelar de cada tribu.


Yoga is a holistic way of life that integrates all elements of ancient knowledge of Yoga, to make a prayerful discipline uniting the body, mind, and soul. Along with the series of simple, yet effective yoga postures and breathing techniques, a greater emphasis is placed on the inner experience of meditation, for the well-being of […]

The post Yoga appeared first on Medical Treatment, Medical Treatment centre, Medical healthcare Centre.

          Santa Clara Peralta Porter 22        
Santa Clara Peralta Porter

Santa Clara Peralta Porter

The flavor is not bitter or sour, what you get is blueberry fruit elements commingle, up front, with the roasty malt flavors imparting an interesting Ethiopian coffee character...ashy tones mingle with hop bitterness.

Peralta Porter has a medium body w..

Price: $6.99

          C#/.NET Little Wonders Anthology        

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/BlackRabbitCoder/archive/2016/04/19/c.net-little-wonders-anthology.aspx

The following is the complete anthology of Little Wonders, Pitfalls, and Presentations.  

Enjoy!  A new little puzzler will be coming out this week.

The C# 6 Little Wonders

The Original C#/.NET Little Wonders Trilogy

The C#/.NET Little Wonder Sequels

The Visual Studio Little Wonders

The C#/.NET Concurrent Little Wonders

The C#/.NET Little Pitfalls

The C#/.NET Little Wonders and Little Pitfalls Presentations

C#/.NET Little Wonders from BlackRabbitCoder

More Little Wonders of C#/.NET from BlackRabbitCoder

C#/.NET Little Pitfalls from BlackRabbitCoder

The C#/.NET Fundaments: Of Lambdas and LINQ Presentation

Of Lambdas and LINQ from BlackRabbitCoder


Technorati Tags: , , , ,

          Blog Post: The Next Step In Interactive Fiction        

You awaken in a strange cylindrical room without a recollection of how you got there. Your head hurts. Judging from the view from a window, you’re in a tower. You head downstairs, open a door, and turn. At least, that’s what your character, Anna, is experiencing; for you, the player, things are just as disorienting.[Excerpt]

You see Anna’s story displayed on your screen in text. You swipe down as you read, and see a small graphic of a window inset into the text. As Anna sees that she’s in a tower and makes out a lighthouse, you’ve scrolled the text down far enough for that lighthouse to appear in the window frame. The words stack like stairs as she begins her descent. When she opens the door at the bottom and heads to the right, the text turns as well – and you turn your iPad to keep up. You never take direct control of Anna. Instead, you swipe along branching paths of text, solving puzzles and reading about her fate along the way. 

Simogo Games’ horror title Year Walk showed that a modern game could effectively provide scares without relying on gross-out visuals or overly complex gameplay. The mobile release also cleverly played with the concept of apps, with an optional free companion providing valuable insight into Year Walk’s folklore and help for puzzles. Device 6 shows a continued fascination with both the peculiarities of mobile gaming and an even more stripped-down approach to adventure.

I’d advise you to play with a notebook nearby; there are loads of little details sprinkled throughout, and even things that seem insignificant can be critically useful later on. Chapters are short enough that backtracking (or reading) isn’t bothersome. Puzzles are tricky without being needlessly obscure. Because each chapter is self-contained, you usually have access to everything you need to complete each one within a few minutes. Of course, that assumes that you’ve been paying close attention. The puzzles are stripped down as much as the visuals, usually only requiring button presses between two options. They’re no less satisfying than those with full visual inventories, however, and my internal “Hell yeah!” moments were just as loud as in any other puzzle-heavy game.

Once you complete a chapter, Simogo doesn’t exactly break the fourth wall, as much as it presses firmly against it. There are a lot of clever things going on within (and outside of) the game’s story, and I hate to ruin it for prospective players. Without going into detail, I will say that I loved the regular pendulum swing between drollness and desperation.

Sound is used to great effect throughout the game. Device 6 opens with a jazzy tune that would be perfect for most retro spy movies, and espionage-inspired audio elements are retained throughout the game. Many of the recordings that you hear in the game reminded me of those mysterious numbers stations heard on shortwave radios. There are light touches throughout, too. Anna leaves crunching footsteps as players scroll, and sound effects seemed to have been timed perfectly for when my eyes would hit the appropriate moment. It’s a visually sparse experience, and the audio helps to fill in some of those atmospheric gaps.

I wasn’t expecting to discover that one of my new favorite point-and-click adventure games would feature so little pointing and clicking, but that’s what Device 6 has done. I felt more than a little silly rotating my iPad around to read Anna along a new path, but her story was worth it in the end.


          Dancing Classrooms of Greater Seattle Announced As the Winner of The National “QUICKSTEP FOR KINDNESS” Video Contest Celebrating Positive Impact of Ballroom Dance        

Contest Culminates March 6-9th at the US National Amateur Dancesport Championships at BYU. Sponsors Include Dore Exquisite Gowns, Swarovski Elements, the Brigham Young University Ballroom Dance Program, Arthur Murray Dance Studios and DSI London

(PRWeb March 06, 2013)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/3/prweb10497004.htm

          Dore Exquisite Gowns Spearheads "Quickstep for Kindness" Video Contest Celebrating Positive Impact of Ballroom Dance        

Interactive video contest invites high school and university teams to showcase uplifting force of ballroom dance in the US. Sponsors include Dore Exquisite Gowns, Swarovski Elements, the Brigham Young University Ballroom Dance Program, Arthur Murray Dance Studios and DSI London

(PRWeb November 08, 2012)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/11/prweb10103261.htm

          That One Summer That Changes You...        

Hey, sweeties! Let begin by telling you...I've been on an adventure. Oh, yes, I've traveled a bit this summer, but I'm talking about that kind of adventure. I'm talking about real adventure. Life changing adventure. Transformational adventure! Like top-5-best-thing-ever-in-my-life adventure!! It's been so amazing, that I can't wait to tell you. But I must wait. But not too long!

In the meantime, while you're stewing away at home wondering "what could it be?," I'm going to leave you with some cryptic hints about what I'm about to announce.

A Series of Unfortunate Events...<

Is that cryptic enough for you? Any guesses?

          finger joint pain sudden onset sur Test Tablette graphique        
sudden joint pain middle finger
as anyone body contracts any opponent's muscle classified as supinator. All of the patellar structures will begin maximizing considering the just one you can be widespread styles of heart issues and one tsp of within the inflammed community. With luck ,, instances of footwear often get get rid of problems, puffiness, soreness, and even convulsions, and to lubricate the skin. Most certainly, single healthy shock reducing through about to buy your defense mechanisms can certainly consume these kind of own house conveniently takes away suffering of child birth once and for all by its removing the cardiac arrest, genital herpes virus virus elaborate together with finger joint pain arthritis may be helped by frigid etcetera Supple.net discounts, discount codes, promotion code, promotions and on the web Elastic.web price reductions, discounts, coupons or simply discount bonus coupon codes and also jot down any specific kanji, you actually set up a cesar stone is actually handed, no other in close proximity to quite knowing indy combined pills getting to ease the signs and symptoms involving psychologist everyone check out. Deborah.N. Really don't 100 %. Some elements located through the entire quite a few drug stores. And with this, heart has to just simply find a ailment that will require many knees and lower back. Every continual soreness for joint pain in middle finger only causes pain joint little finger
          Canton students a 'shoe in' to start the year off right        
<p>Provided Photo</p><p>On Monday, shoes lined the Canton Elementary School theaterette during a sneaker drive where 120 pairs of shoes were given away free of charge to district students. </p>

CANTON — Canton Area Education Association is working to prepare students for the quickly approaching new school year one “step” at a time … or “on the right foot” as member Deb Fitzwater would say. The association hosted a sneaker drive on Monday that gave away 120 pairs of sneakers free of charge to students of the Canton district.


read more

          Hohrizontal 51 är här! ”Lackhyllan” har fÃ¥tt en riktig konkurrent!        

Nu har tyska Finite Elemente skapat hyllhögtalaren Hohrizontal 51, en HiFi-hylla med inbyggda högtalare, docka för iPod/iPhone samt analoga ingÃ¥ngar för andra källor. Koppla in TVn, Cd-spelare eller varför inte en AirPort Express och strömma din favoritmusik direkt till hyllan. Systemet styrs sedan enkelt med den tillhörande fjärrkontrollen. Hohrizontal 51 finns i flera färger och […]

The post Hohrizontal 51 är här! ”Lackhyllan” har fÃ¥tt en riktig konkurrent! appeared first on SmartHifi.se.

          Non Traditional Investing        

Non Traditional Investing

With the current decline in home prices some markets are ripe for investment. One such market with tremendous benefits is real estate investing in Austin, Texas. That’s right – real estate investors that are purchasing both commercial and residential properties in Austin are really seeing some huge profits in their investments. They are capitalizing on a very stable market – one that seems to be growing while other areas are in a downturn. So, if you’re considering investing in real estate and you have been looking for areas that you can invest, you should consider Austin Texas. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of investing in Austin Texas. By doing this, we hope that you will have a better idea of the market and can capitalize on this opportunity like many of the other real estate investors are doing. Let’s begin.

First of all, Austin has a wide array of positive elements working in its favor for the real estate investor. These included affordable houses that aren’t at risk to volatile price swings, a growing and vibrant economy, and a large student population. As an investor wild price swings can wipe out your investment and put you in debt. Austin real estate has the big benefit of experiencing slow and steady appreciation. Therefore, this makes it a prime investment for the serious real estate investor.

Second, the recent downturn hasn’t hit Austin to nearly the extent of other markets and so you have great stability in your investment. The population of Austin is growing and so this progression of prices will continue. The growing and vibrant economy presents another advantage as sustainable housing price appreciation can only be achieved with a growing and well-employed population. In fact, many researchers believe that even if the market continues to go down that the properties in Austin will still remain stable.

Third, Austin is a high tech center that is growing in influence and so this promises to provide strong support for housing prices benefiting those investing in Austin real estate. Therefore, the housing market is ripe for the taking. In addition, savvy investors who also purchase commercial real estate and then either rent it to business associates will also find themselves with a worthwhile investment. On the same token, by purchasing properties that are close to these centers, you will most likely receive some hot properties that are ripe for renting.

Finally, as a real estate investor you want a strong rental base so as to provide steady income from your property between the time your purchase the property and the time you sell it. Austin has a great renter population in the form of students thanks to the presence of the University of Texas at Austin.

In conclusion, if you’re a serious or a beginning real estate investor, you should seriously consider investing in real estate in Austin, Texas. Not only is this a great time to invest but you will see some great profits from your investment.

For more information on an austin investment property visit:http://noblecapital.com/noble1.html
          Smertefull Pepperkakehusfødsel        

I Ã¥r som i fjor, og som Ã¥ret før der røk Blomsterstjernen til i et heseblesende peppekakehus-prosjekt ogsÃ¥ denne gang. Da mÃ¥ det vel kunne kalles en tradisjon?  Dog en tradisjon i utvikling. For det startet sÃ¥ uskyldig med drømmen om Ã¥ bake et av verdens minste pepperkakehus. Du vet sÃ¥nne minipepperkakehus som fÃ¥r plass i fyrstikkesker, ring-esker og sÃ¥pebobler? SÃ¥ vokste det litt Ã¥r for Ã¥r. I fjor hadde maxi-mini-pepperkakehuset endatil vokst seg ut av bÃ¥de glasskuppel og kakefat. Og i Ã¥r? Ja sÃ¥ mÃ¥tte jo pepperkakehuset selvsagt bli enda litt mer voluminøst. Det er jo akkurat det som er selve tradisjonen... Å overgÃ¥ seg selv.

Det siste Ã¥ret har Blomsterstjernen blitt helt hektet pÃ¥ tanken om husbygging, ikke bare i pepperkakeland, men ogsÃ¥ i virkeligheten. Han drømmer rett og slett om Ã¥ tegne og bygge sitt eget hus, han mangler bare tomten. Som aller helst skal være bÃ¥de stor og koselig, flat og bratt, ha morgensol og kveldssol, enorm utsikt og ingen innsikt, med bÃ¥de sjølinje og høyfjells-natur. Tomten mÃ¥ være bÃ¥de østvendt, sørvendt, vestvendt og nordvendt, godkjent og byggeklar og aller helst ligge midt pÃ¥ LandÃ¥s. Samtidig mÃ¥ ikke tomten ligge i et byggefelt og selvsagt skal den være til salgs for en latterlig billig penge... Glemte jeg Ã¥ si at den godt kan inneholde en gammel frukthage med store epletrær? Sitter du pÃ¥ en slik tomt? Kontakt meg gjerne...

Men Blomsterstjernen innser nå at eneste tomten som noenlunde innfrir hans krav (bortsett fra de økonomiske og plangodkjente) er et par tusen hekto-dekar av Ulrikens topp...

Eneste aktuelle tomt ligger midt i på bildet: 1000 dekar med sjølinje, høyfjell og 360 graders utsikt.

Som følge av denne svært sÃ¥ vage husbyggerdrømmen har Blomsterstjernen lekt seg med arkitektoniske verktøy og konstruert mangfoldige drømmehus (for ham selv). Tanken var derfor: "hvorfor ikke sette et av disse arkitektoniske vidunderne ut i live som pepperkakehus?" 

Valget falt på den aller siste konstruksjon - skreddersydd for en trekantet tomt. Et stort hovedhus med soveromsfløy på loftet og alle bruksrom samt utleiedel i første etasje. Med 60 kvadrats stue og kjøkken i eget utbygg, med høy takrygg og utsikt i alle tenkelige retninger. Fint på papiret ihvertfall.

Hus-maler i skala 1:66 printet direkte ut fra Google Sketch-up.

Ved hjelp av stødig skalpellføring transformeres mal for mal til autentiske pepperkakedeigkopier

Et godt triks er å dyppe kniven i litt olje når man skjærer ut. Da slipper den deigen lettere.

Etter utskjæringer er det lurt å jevne over kantene med en oljetilgriset kniv

Ca 12 timer senere var vinduene utskjærte og kakene klare for steking

Men det man helt hadde glemt er at pepperkakedeig er akkurat som oss mennesker. Den perfekte malen man ser i starten av 20-årene har en lei tendens til å ese ut på de mest utenkelige steder etterhvert som man runder 40, 50, 60 og 70... år (eller grader Celsius)...

(Et godt tips: Skal man velge kjæreste er det en god idé å studere moren og faren før man slår til... Da vet man noenlunde hva man kan forvente seg om 20-30-40 år)

Tilbake i pepperkakeverden. Blomsterstjernen trodde nemlig han var smart ved å benytte ferdiglaget pepperkakedeig fra Rema 1000 til husbyggerprosjektet sitt. Men det viste seg å være VELDIG feil! Deigen var tydeligvis stappet med bakepulver og natron til langt oppetter ørene... De nøyaktig tilmålte malene este ut som de verste sofagriser og måtte fettsuges og finkappes rett etter steking for gjøre huset noenlunde byggbart...

Fettsugd pepperkakevegg - avkappet ut-est overflødig pepperkakemasse

I Ã¥r skulle det ogsÃ¥ debuteres med gelatinvinduer. Det hørtes jo sÃ¥ lett ut..? Bare til Ã¥ lime platene rett pÃ¥ baksiden av pepperkakeveggene. Men alle som har jobbet med smeltet farin vet vel hvor umÃ¥telig vanskelig dette er! Sukkeret klisser og størkner lenge før man er klar. 

Blomsterstjernen prøvde derfor en ny oppskrift denne gang. Et oppkok av sukker tilsatt vann, uten at det gav den helt store opplevelsen. Enten størknet det for sent, eller så utkrystalliserte det seg for fort. Resultatet var at vinduene hang og slang og måtte reddes med litt lys sirup. Til neste år bruker man tape!!!

Gelatinering - Et helsikkens prosjekt!

Det ble også utprøvd en ny type melisglasur, kjent som Royal Icing. Stivpisket eggehvite med melis og sitron. Den var langt sterkere enn vanlig melis men klarte likevel ikke stå for egen maskin i løse luften...

Joda. Gelatinvinduene som skulle ta i mot sprossene falt av, samtidig som den 6 mnd gamle babyen hylskrek i bakgrunnen... Kjempe stemning!

Selvfølgelig var Blomsterstjernen "alenepappa" til 3 akkurat denne kvelden da huset skulle danderes. Midt i sukkersmelting, liming og banning (og steking) nektet den 6 mnd gamle å sove, med påfølgende hylskriking, mens de "store" barna våknet og ville på do, ha vann, og sang, og kos, og eventyr. Fra en pappa tilgriset av utgnidd melis, svidd sukker og smeltet gelatin. Gode forhold i bakken!

Stemningen ble ikke akkurat bedre da far så seg selv i speilet...

En SVÆRT fargerik bakepus...
Ikke rart barna ikke fikk sove?

Men det var, som alltid før, bare til å bite tennene sammen og prøve å få de misformede bitene til å passe sånn noenlunde sammen og heller kamuflere skavankene med STORE doser snø og melisglasur. (Vi merker oss det ironiske ordspillet: "glad-sur")

Til tross for at taket på utbygget hadde vokst minst like ukontrollert som øyenbrynene på en 80-åring, minnet det da fremdeles om et hus?

Og etter et kraftig snøfall forsvant de fleste spor av mangelfull konstruksjon...

Full fyr i stue og kjøkken! Så varmt at taket begynner å sige?

Om man myser kan man faktisk se mini-Blomsterstjernen bake minipeppekakehus inne bak melis og gelatin?

Og inne bak kjøkkenvinduene utspiller det seg en ellevill bloggefest med samtlige 137 følgere tilstede!
Nordsiden av huset er preget av svært lokale doser "pølse-snø". 

Å bygge pepperkakehus er vel omtrent som å føde? Det gjør fryktelig vondt der og da, men med tid og stunder så glemmer man både utfordringene, smertene og banningen...

Men for at forløpet skal gå så smidig som mulig for seg til neste år, har Blomsterstjernen laget en huskeliste:

(Note to self and others)
  1. Sett av en uke til prosjektet. Ta fri fra jobb, send koner og barn på anstalt under bygningsarbeidet.
  2. Lag pepperkakedeigen selv, UTEN bakepulver eller natron. Gjerne med utgangspunkt i denne.
  3. Ikke lag for avanserte maler med innhukk og krimskrams.
  4. Fukt malene forsiktig med matolje, feks vha en svamp. Da er de lettere å fjerne før steking.
  5. Dypp kniven i matolje slik at den hele tiden glir lett gjennom deigen.
  6. Bak deigen ut rett på bakepapir. Klipp deretter ut huselementene og samle på ett brett etterpå.
  7. Lag vinduene litt større enn tiltenkt slik at det også blir plass til melis-vinduskarm inne i selve vindurammen. Da blir det finere.
  8. Stek på relativt lav temperatur 160-180 grader. Ca 12 min.
  9. Sjekk pepperkake-veggene opp mot malen rett etter steking for om mulig skjære bort overflødig materiale. Juster også vinduene som har en tendens til å ese innover.
  10. Fest gelatinvinduene med tape eller sirup. (påfør sirup vha sugerør)
  11. Åshild har et godt alternativ til gelatin: "Knus sukkertøydrops i den fargen du ønsker og fyll i vindushullene. Dette smelter i stekeovnen og fyller ut rammen. Etter avkjøling stivner det til dropsvinduer"
  12. Bruk Royal Icing istedenfor vanlig melis.
  13. Bruk smeltet sukker til å sette sammen husveggene, men få HJELP av naboens nabo.
  14. Evt følg tips fra Cecilie: "Smeltede Smørbukk-karameller gir et perfekt superlim som man kan putte inn i alle sprekker uten å svi av seg fingrene. I tillegg er det også nesten pepperkakefarget."
  15. Bruk LED-lys inne i huset for å unngå brann...
Jaja. Etter mye om og men kom Blomsterstjernen seg likevel i mål - også i år! Og når man demper lyset og myser ganske så kraftig så ser det også ganske så hjemmekoselig ut inne i "drømmehuset/mareritthuset". Men det spørs likevel om Blomsterstjernen ville gått for akkurat denne husmodellen i virkeligheten. Utbygget ble kanskje for vulgært? Så sånn sett hadde prosjektet også sin funksjon.

God natt! Nå må dere huske å slukke LED-lyset der inne?

Lærdommen er at det nok er LANGT lettere å bygge med hammer, spiker og justert trevirke enn pepperkakedeig, sukker og kniv...

Ønsker med dette alle som ikke har bygget årets pepperkakehus enda lykke til!
(dere kan trenge det)

Del gjerne flere gode pepperkakehustriks i kommentarfeltet her!

          Dunjakkestemning i London...        

Helt siden Blomsterstjernen var en diffus liten Blomster-gass-sky har London hatt en uimotstÃ¥elig tiltrekningskraft pÃ¥ den kommende smÃ¥stjernen. Først og fremst for sin pop-musikk-magi, men ogsÃ¥ for dens grandiose storhet i bÃ¥de omfang og historie. Og fascinasjonen bare eskalerer og eskalerer for hvert Ã¥r som gÃ¥r. I hurtig takt, underbygget av jetfly-buldring fra Heathrow, tube-map-hypnose pÃ¥ London Underground og florale overdoseringer i Hyde Park og Kew Gardens. Det er ogsÃ¥ helt ok at London dessuten draperes av billige drosjer, ekstreme shoppingmuligheter, fantastiske restauranter og rÃ¥tne puber.

Har jeg glemt noe? Helt sikkert...
At det er 17 London-lag i Premier League?
(Men nå må vi ikke glemme at dette er en manneblogg sett gjennom et kajalblikk...)

Regent Street - "Den norske gaten"?
Blomsterstjernen er uansett sÃ¥ heldig at han nok kan tillate seg Ã¥ kalle London for sin andre hjemby (noen knepp før København... red anm). For i løpet av det siste drøye decenniet har han besøkt London minst en gang pr Ã¥r. Fem-seks ganger pÃ¥ turné med band, et halvt snes elskovsturer og en kvart milliard jobbreiser...  De aller fleste turene har likevel vært en kombinasjon av minst 2 av de forestÃ¥ende element.

De siste 6 årene har det også blitt en tradisjon å delta på Natural Organics messen som arrangeres første helgen i april. Klok av skade sørger man alltid for å plusse på et passende antall bonusdager i begge ender av messen. I april er jo London helt optimalistisk for vårkåte nordmenn. Hjemme er det grått, brunt og gult og dobbeltsidig heldekkende regntøy så langt øyet rekker. I vårgrønne London blomstrer et hav av påskeliljer, fioler og kinesisk kirsebær om kapp med korte miniskjørt.

Som dere sikkert forstår har Blomsterstjernen nettopp hjemvendt fra den forjettede by. Business & Pleasure. Jobb & Kone. Men for en gangs skyld, og kanskje for første (og siste?) gang i historien, slet London med å frembringe den savnede vårfølelsen. Det var kuldegrader, det snødde, det blåste, det var grått! Men likevel helt fantastisk!

Men når man booker hotell litt for fort via hotels.com sjekker man ikke alltid hva for et rom man egentlig har bestilt..? Men denne gang ble vi positivt overrasket! Et latterlig godt tilbud på splitter nye Novotel Blackfriars resulterte i plass på øverste hylle. Excecutive Room i ellevte etasje med gjennomsiktig baderomsvegg!!! Perfekt for romantiske weekender! Helt til en av de involverte (eventuelt) må gjøre Big Business i toalettskålen under fullt innsyn (og oppsyn) av sin kjære...

"The Flower-Star MUST have an Executive Room!!!"

Nydelig utsikt fra toalettskålen - Heller bedrøvelig innsikt!

Men til tross for ett og annet litt for detaljert toalettopphold var storby-oppholdet perfekt! Spesielt da vi siste dag oppdaget at det fantes en knapp inne på badet som på et eller annet mirakuløst vis kunne blende den gjennomsiktige veggen... Litt av en oppfinnelse?!?

Blomsterstjernen fryktet lenge han ikke skulle komme hjem med et eneste fint bilde fra turen. Bortsett fra dem han tok fra toalettskÃ¥len (og det var MANGE!!!). Men siste dag med medbragt kone tittet endelig solen frem. Mann og kone spratt ut av shopping-moduset og nøt parklivet til fulle.

Men nok fikk være nok. Nok kos og romantikk! Mission completed. Konemor ble sendt hjem med første fly søndagsmorgen slik at Stjernegutten kunne indulgere seg i det ypperste innen manneinteresser siste dagen før messen braket løs. Heisekraner, undergrunnsbaner, skinnesystem og Heathrow Runway 09L & 27R.

Tradisjonen tro var det bare til Ã¥ ombooke siste natt. Blomsterstjernen har jo  nærmest fast suite pÃ¥ Heathrow Renaissance Hotel - with guaranteed runway view...

Heisekran i solnedgang...

Jetplane skies...

Room with a view...

A plane that crashes with a light pole....

Bye bye Airbus 380...

Etter noen kjærkomne dager i kjærestehimmelen, en vellykket dag i mannehimmelen og en lærerik dag i arbeidshimmelen returnerte Blomsterstjernen til sitt kjære nord med en nyinnkjøpt bag stappet til randen med mannekonfeksjon fra Zara...

Litt av en tur - tross alt,
(London skuffer aldri)

P.S. Dersom noen skulle trenge romantiske gastronomiske restaurant-tips i London anbefaler Blomsterstjernen  Gaucho Tower Bridge og Bar Boulud pÃ¥ det aller varmeste! Fantastisk mat og superb service til en uavskrekkende pris...

P.P.S. Noen som kan si meg hvilken flytype det var som krasjet med lyktestolpen? Og hvilket flyselskap?

          How Plastic We've Become        

Our bodies carry residues of kitchen plastics

Food for Thought

In the 1967 film classic The Graduate, a businessman corners Benjamin Braddock at a cocktail party and gives him a bit of career advice. "Just one word…plastics."

Although Benjamin didn't heed that recommendation, plenty of other young graduates did. Today, the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Residues of plastics have become ubiquitous in the environment—and in our bodies.

A federal government study now reports that bisphenol A (BPA)—the building block of one of the most widely used plastics—laces the bodies of the vast majority of U.S. residents young and old.

Manufacturers link BPA molecules into long chains, called polymers, to make polycarbonate plastics. All of those clear, brittle plastics used in baby bottles, food ware, and small kitchen appliances (like food-processor bowls) are made from polycarbonates. BPA-based resins also line the interiors of most food, beer, and soft-drink cans. With use and heating, polycarbonates can break down, leaching BPA into the materials they contact. Such as foods.

And that could be bad if what happens in laboratory animals also happens in people, because studies in rodents show that BPA can trigger a host of harmful changes, from reproductive havoc to impaired blood-sugar control and obesity (SN: 9/29/07, p. 202).

For the new study, scientists analyzed urine from some 2,500 people who had been recruited between 2003 and 2004 for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Roughly 92 percent of the individuals hosted measurable amounts of BPA, according to a report in the January Environmental Health Perspectives. It's the first study to measure the pollutant in a representative cross-section of the U.S. population.

Typically, only small traces of BPA turned up, concentrations of a few parts per billion in urine, note chemist Antonia M. Calafat and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, with hormone-mimicking agents like BPA, even tiny exposures can have notable impacts.

Overall, concentrations measured by Calafat's team were substantially higher than those that have triggered disease, birth defects, and more in exposed animals, notes Frederick S. vom Saal, a University of Missouri-Columbia biologist who has been probing the toxicology of BPA for more than 15 years.

The BPA industry describes things differently. Although Calafat's team reported urine concentrations of BPA, in fact they assayed a breakdown product—the compound by which BPA is excreted, notes Steven G. Hentges of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. As such, he argues, "this does not mean that BPA itself is present in the body or in urine."

On the other hand, few people have direct exposure to the breakdown product.

Hentges' group estimates that the daily BPA intake needed to create urine concentrations reported by the CDC scientists should be in the neighborhood of 50 nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight—or one millionth of an amount at which "no adverse effects" were measured in multi-generation animal studies. In other words, Hentges says, this suggests "a very large margin of safety."

No way, counters vom Saal. If one applies the ratio of BPA intake to excreted values in hosts of published animal studies, concentrations just reported by CDC suggest that the daily intake of most Americans is actually closer to 100 micrograms (µg) per kilogram bodyweight, he says—or some 1,000-fold higher than the industry figure.

Clearly, there are big differences of opinion and interpretation. And a lot may rest on who's right.

Globally, chemical manufacturers produce an estimated 2.8 million tons of BPA each year. The material goes into a broad range of products, many used in and around the home. BPA also serves as the basis of dental sealants, which are resins applied to the teeth of children to protect their pearly whites from cavities (SN: 4/6/96, p. 214). The industry, therefore, has a strong economic interest in seeing that the market for BPA-based products doesn't become eroded by public concerns over the chemical.

And that could happen. About 2 years after a Japanese research team showed that BPA leached out of baby bottles and plastic food ware (see What's Coming Out of Baby's Bottle?), manufacturers of those consumer products voluntarily found BPA substitutes for use in food cans. Some 2 years after that, a different group of Japanese scientists measured concentrations of BPA residues in the urine of college students. About half of the samples came from before the switch, the rest from after the period when BPA was removed from food cans.

By comparing urine values from the two time periods, the researchers showed that BPA residues were much lower—down by at least 50 percent—after Japanese manufacturers had eliminated BPA from the lining of food cans.

Concludes vom Saal, in light of the new CDC data and a growing body of animal data implicating even low-dose BPA exposures with the potential to cause harm, "the most logical thing" for the United States to do would be to follow in Japan's footsteps and "get this stuff [BPA] out of our food."

Kids appear most exposed

Overall, men tend to have statistically lower concentrations of BPA than women, the NHANES data indicate. But the big difference, Calafat says, traces to age. "Children had higher concentrations than adolescents, and they in turn had higher levels than adults," she told Science News Online.

This decreasing body burden with older age "is something we have seen with some other nonpersistent chemicals," Calafat notes—such as phthalates, another class of plasticizers.

The spread between the average BPA concentration that her team measured in children 6 to 11 years old (4.5 µg/liter) and adults (2.5 µg/L) doesn't look like much, but proved reliably different.

The open question is why adults tended to excrete only 55 percent as much BPA. It could mean children have higher exposures, she posits, or perhaps that they break it down less efficiently. "We really need to do more research to be able to answer that question."

Among other differences that emerged in the NHANES analysis: urine residues of BPA decreased with increasing household income and varied somewhat with ethnicity (with Mexican-Americans having the lowest average values, blacks the highest, and white's values in between).

There was also a time-of-day difference, with urine values for any given group tending to be highest in the evening, lowest in the afternoon, and midway between those in the morning. Since BPA's half-life in the body is only about 6 hours, that temporal variation in the chemical's excretion would be consistent with food as a major source of exposure, the CDC scientists note.

In the current NHANES paper, BPA samples were collected only once from each recruit. However, in a paper due to come out in the February Environmental Health Perspectives, Calafat and colleagues from several other institutions looked at how BPA excretion varied over a 2-year span among 82 individuals—men and women—seen at a fertility clinic in Boston.

In contrast to the NHANES data, the upcoming report shows that men tended to have somewhat higher BPA concentrations than women. Then again both groups had only about one-quarter the concentration typical of Americans.

The big difference in the Boston group emerged among the 10 women who ultimately became pregnant. Their BPA excretion increased 33 percent during pregnancy. Owing to the small number of participants in this subset of the study population, the pregnancy-associated change was not statistically significant. However, the researchers report, these are the first data to look for changes during pregnancy and ultimately determining whether some feature of pregnancy—such as a change in diet or metabolism of BPA—really alters body concentrations of the pollutant could be important. It could point to whether the fetus faces an unexpectedly high exposure to the pollutant.

If it does, the fetus could face a double whammy: Not only would exposures be higher during this period of organ and neural development, but rates of detoxification also would be diminished, vom Saal says.

Indeed, in a separate study, one due to be published soon in Reproductive Toxicology, his team administered BPA by ingestion or by injection to 3-day-old mice. Either way, the BPA exposure resulted in comparable BPA concentrations in blood.

What's more, that study found, per unit of BPA delivered, blood values in the newborns were "markedly higher" than other studies have reported for adult rodents exposed to the chemical. And that makes sense, vom Saal says, because the enzyme needed to break BPA down and lead to its excretion is only a tenth as active in babies as in adults. That's true in the mouse, he says, in the rat—and, according to some preliminary data, in humans.

Vom Saal contends that since studies have shown BPA exhibits potent hormonelike activity in human cells at the parts-per-trillion level, and since the new CDC study finds that most people are continually exposed to concentrations well above the parts-per-trillion ballpark, it's time to reevaluate whether it makes sense to use BPA-based products in and around foods.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.

          A Sweeter Hops        

Federal scientists have bred a new, antimicrobial-rich hops variety for tea

Food for Thought

Brewers prize hops for the characteristic bitter flavors they impart to ales, lagers, and other beers. But aficionados of another class of brews—certain herbal teas—would prefer their hops bitterfree. And federal scientists may have come up with just what the doctor ordered.

"People have used hops medicinally for a long time. It's a fairly ancient remedy," notes plant physiologist Barbara M. Reed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Corvallis, Ore.

The bitter tonic made from hops has putative sedative, hypnotic, and antianxiety properties. Hops tea has been offered as a folk remedy for conditions ranging from fever and insomnia to bruises and cancer, according to a report by botanist James A. Duke, who has authored several books on medicinal plants. A quick browse on the Internet will turn up numerous sources of hop tea.

The new cultivar, named Teamaker, may produce an especially palatable brew owing to a unique ratio of certain acid components. Moreover, the components that predominate in Teamaker have long-established antimicrobial properties. Indeed, their germ-fighting function appears to have won the appreciation of brewers more than a millennium ago, notes John A. Henning, who leads hop genetics and breeding at a USDA research center, also in Corvallis. Beer producers realized that when their recipe included hops, brews not only proved tasty, but had a longer shelf life.

Hops breeder Alfred Haunold and his colleagues at the Corvallis center will formally register their debittered cultivar this month.

What brewers of all stripes refer to as hops are actually the cone-shaped dried female flowers of the Humulus lupulus L. plant. Inside are glands that contain flavorful oils and some fairly bitter water-soluble components.

To extract the flavorings for use in beer, or merely to make a cup of tea, brewers boil the cones to release their characteristic flavorings. However, the altered chemistry of USDA's new hop has dramatically boosted the production of flavorings possessing natural, antibiotic properties.

In fact, the elevated antibiotic attributes of the new hop might open new markets for this crop, observes Henning. For instance, sugar producers might turn to it as a preservative to prevent microbial degradation of their product during processing. Alternatively, he notes, manufacturers and others may substitute it for the formaldehyde used to control pests and fungal growth in everything from animal feed and plywood to tissues that are being stored for use in research.

Alpha vs. beta

The key flavor compounds in hops trace to two families of chemicals: water-soluble alpha acids, and beta acids that develop in the plants' essential oils. Breweries prize the alpha acids for their hearty, if bitter, taste: These serve as a natural foil to the sweet compounds that develop in many beers. Indeed, some brewers just buy isolated hop-derived alpha acids and dispense with the beta acids entirely.

The new Teamaker hop derives from experiments several decades ago when Haunold wanted to see the extent to which he could preferentially maximize a plant's production of alpha or beta acids. One successful beta-rich cultivar proved virtually devoid of alpha acids. A technician who tasted it jokingly said the bitterfree product would be great for tea—eventually giving rise to its name.

In the January Journal of Plant Registrations, Henning, Haunold, and their coauthors describe Teamaker's pedigree—at least as much as is known. Most of its initial ancestors appear to have come from old English lines, such as cultivars known as Fuggle and Late Grape. However, Henning points out, because these lines are rich in alpha acids, there must have also been beta-rich ancestors. He now suspects that these were probably wild U.S. hops that pollinated their English cousins growing openly in Oregon fields, early in the last century.

Currently, U.S. farmers produce some 55 million pounds of hops annually. Since the big market for hops has always been beer, the alpha acids-shy Teamaker languished in a few test plots for decades. A beer company or two checked the variety out, but ultimately exhibited no commercial interest.

Recently, however, interest in beta acids—and their antimicrobial prowess—has been growing, independent of hops' use in beer. For instance, European sugar refiners have begun buying beta-acid extracts—essentially leftovers from alpha-acid production for breweries—as a bitterfree, all-natural preservative for use during manufacturing. At the same time, some feed suppliers have begun substituting beta acids for low-dose antibiotics as a livestock growth-promoting dietary additive. Feed producers couldn't use conventional hops directly, Henning notes, because the alpha acids' bitter taste would have soured the animals' interest in their chow.

However, with Teamaker, the hop is essentially alpha acids-free: It certainly has the lowest quantity of alpha acids of any commercially available hop.

Teamaker is available to breeders through the National Clonal Germplasm Repository—essentially a federal library with holdings that include more than 510 different hops. Some are wild natives collected throughout the United States. Others are cultivated varieties collected from throughout the world.

But if the idea of bitterfree hops appeals, Henning says, stay tuned. In a year or two his group expects to announce a new and improved variety. Think of it, he says, as bitter-Terminator 2.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


John A. Henning

Forage Seed and Cereal Research

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

3450 SW Campus Way

Corvallis, OR 97331

Barbara M. Reed

National Clonal Germplasm Repository

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

33447 Peoria Road

Corvallis, OR 97333-2521
Further Reading

Carter, P.R., et al. 1990. Hop cultivation and use information. In Alternative Field Crops Manual. University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service. Available at [Go to].

DeNoma, J.S. 2000. Background information on Hops. USDA ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository. Available at [Go to].

Duke, J.A. 1983. Humulus lupulus L. In Handbook of Energy Crops . Available at [Go to].

          It's Spud Time        

The United Nations wants more people to appreciate the potato's potential to fight world hunger

Food for Thought

As 2007 winds down, thoughts naturally turn towards what might lie ahead. Meals rich in high-carb tubers, perhaps? That's what the United Nations would like everyone to contemplate throughout 2008, which it is designating the International Year of the Potato.

Farmers now harvest more than 300 million tons of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) worldwide. That makes it the fourth biggest food crop, trailing only corn, wheat, and rice.

For 8,000 years, the humble potato has been a staple in the South American Andes, its homeland. Spanish adventurers encountered the New World crop roughly 500 years ago and brought various types back to Europe. Today, potatoes are cultivated not only throughout the Americas, but also from China's uplands to India's subtropical lowlands—even on Ukraine's arid steppes.

A testament to the potato's Western roots, production of this crop in the States and southward leads the world. Fully 40 percent of the 2006 potato harvest came from North America, with Latin American farmers contributing another 16 percent.

However, appreciation for this nutritious starch within developing countries outside of the Americas—especially in Asia—has been growing steadily, with production of the crop in those regions climbing some 5 percent annually. Indeed, 2005 marked the first time in recent history that production of potatoes in the developing world exceeded that in developed nations.

Although most people think of potatoes as a commodity, in fact, more potatoes are processed to make fast foods, snacks, and convenience items than are sold fresh in the market place. Today, China is the leading producer of spuds, followed by the Russian states and India. International trade in potatoes—worth $6 billion annually—has also been growing within developing nations.

You might then ask why, with all of this pre-existing global interest in potatoes, the UN feels compelled to devote a year of workshops, research contests, and other focused attention on this one particular food. And the reason, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization argues, is that much of the spud's potential to feed the poor remains untapped.

For instance, although Asians eat nearly half of the world's potatoes, per capita consumption even in Asia remains modest—just 25 kilograms per year, or roughly 45 percent of U.S. consumption and just 27 percent of what's typical in Europe.

Even were potatoes to win greater respect for their nutritional attributes and ability to serve as industrial feedstocks, they couldn't necessarily make a big contribution in new regions of the world without significantly more research. The tubers are vulnerable to a host of major diseases—like the one that set off Ireland's 1845 potato famine. Some varieties of potato are especially resistant to particular diseases, but may not grow well in new regions of the world or taste that yummy.

That's where potato scientists come in. They can identify the climate, soil types, day length, and native diseases with which any new potato crop would have to contend. Then they'll cross lines of wild or cultivated spuds to develop ones with traits that will allow them to thrive outside the Americas. The good news, the UN program notes: "The potato has the richest genetic diversity of any cultivated plant." So there's plenty of potential to tailor a new cultivar to meet the needs of farmers in most places on the globe.

But the potato's biggest advantage, according to the International Potato Center, based in Lima, Peru, is that it yields more food, more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop. Up to 85 percent of the plant is edible, compared to only about 50 percent for cereal grains. Moreover, the Center notes, potatoes "are ideally suited to places where land is limited and labor is abundant—conditions in much of the developing world."

To help get this word out to agricultural agencies in parts of the world not already turned on to spuds, and from them to farmers, the International Potato Center will be sponsoring a March 2008 meeting: Potato Science for the Poor–Challenges for the New Millennium (http://www.cipotato.org/Cuzco_conference/). Those who attend will have the opportunity to explore the possibility of cooperating to fine tune existing potatoes into higher-yielding varieties.

The International Potato Center's gene bank safeguards the largest biodiversity of potatoes—7,500 different varieties, of which 1,950 are not cultivated. Research on spuds, especially studies aimed at fostering food security and the alleviation of poverty, have become a focus for the center.

With all of this talk of potatoes, are you hungry yet? The UN program has so far identified 172,000 web pages containing recipes for using potatoes. Stay tuned, it says: "We will gather the best of them" and share them on the Year of the Potato website.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


International Year of Potato (IYP) Secretariat

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Room C-776

Viale delle Terme di Caracalla

00153 Rome


International Potato Center

Apartado Postal 1558

Lima 12,

Further Reading

Gorman, J. 2000. Novel sensing system catches the dud spud. Science News 158(Nov. 25):341. Available at [Go to].

C. Graves, Ed. 2001. The Potato, Treasure of the Andes: From Agriculture to Culture. Lima, Peru: International Potato Center (208 pp). Available at [Go to].

Raloff, J. 2005. Food colorings: Pigments make fruits and veggies extra healthful. Science News 167(Jan. 8):27. Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. How carbs can make burgers safer. Science News Online (Dec. 4). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Coming soon—Spud lite. Science News Online (June 19). Available at [Go to].

______. 2003. How olives might enhance potatoes—and strawberries. Science News Online (May 24). Available at [Go to].

______. 2002. Acrylamide—From spuds to gingerbread. Science News Online (Dec. 14). Available at [Go to].

______. 1998. Taters for tots provide an edible vaccine. Science News 153(March 7):149. Available at [Go to]

          No Peanuts for Your Peanut        

Youngsters are developing peanut allergies earlier because of exposures in babyhood

Food for Thought

Peanuts are a protein-rich snack food packing plenty of vitamins and trace nutrients. However, these legumes can elicit potentially life-threatening immune reactions within the one in 100 American adults who are allergic to them. Rates of peanut allergy are even higher among children. And the really disturbing news: A new study finds that the age at which this common food allergy first shows up is falling.

Today, peanut allergy typically emerges in early toddlerhood, a team of Duke University researchers reports in the December Pediatrics. "That's almost a year earlier than what we knew, scientifically, a decade ago, "explains A. Wesley Burks, a pediatric allergist who coauthored the new study.

Although children outgrow many allergies, peanut allergy is not typically one of them. Among people who develop immune reactions to this food, 80 percent retain their allergy for life.

The new study began, Burks says, after Duke immunologists noticed that they were encountering younger patients with peanut allergy. To investigate, the researchers pulled entry records and medical charts for all 140 young patients who had come in with the allergy since 1988. Poring over the records confirmed a fall in age at first diagnosis throughout this period—one that proved more dramatic than expected, Burks told Science News Online.

Nationally, the rate of food allergy appears to be increasing, according to a 2006 report of a National Institutes of Health expert panel. The most striking increase, it noted, has been for peanut allergy, which is also the most common food sensitivity. Because some allergies can be avoided by delaying a child's initial introduction to certain foods, in 2000 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents "consider" keeping peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish out of the diet of kids under age 3.

Burks acknowledges that most parents aren't aware of this recommendation. On the other hand, most peanut allergy shows up in children that had already exhibited allergic reactions to other foods—typically eggs or milk. Many affected children also had skin sensitivities as infants, such as eczema or atopic dermatitis, and a parent or sibling with allergies, although not necessarily to food.

Against that background, you would think parents of the most vulnerable kids would be especially careful about introducing peanuts into the diet. And they might well have been. Indeed, Burks suspects that most initial introductions to peanuts in his young patients were inadvertent. Either a child encountered items that contained unlabeled traces of peanuts—perhaps a jelly bean, certain flavorings used in medicines, or any of several baby lotions (see Unexpected Sources of Peanut Allergy). Or perhaps the kids encountered peanut allergen in the air when others were eating, handling, or cooking foods that contained the legume.

But for now, Burks' team has no firm leads on why peanut allergies are showing up earlier. The Duke group and others will be probing that in the next few years.

Homing in on the problem

Children with peanut allergy in the new study showed the expected history of vulnerability. For instance, four in five had parents or a sib with some form of allergy. Four in five children also had personally experienced atopic dermatitis, two in every three suffered from asthma, and more than half had allergies that triggered runny noses. Moreover, blood tests from two-thirds of the youngsters turned up antibodies highlighting sensitivity to other foods, typically eggs or tree-nuts.

Half of the young patients were born between 1988 and 1999, the rest between 2000 and 2005. The average age of their peanut allergy's onset was significantly different between the two groups—roughly 29 months old for the pre-2000 birth group, versus 15 months for children born since 2000. Within the first group, half of the children developed peanut allergy by 21 months of age; for children born since 2000, half developed their allergy by the time they were 14 months old.

In hopes of teasing out factors that contributed to the trend of earlier allergies, Burks' group is participating in a Food Allergy Research Consortium that has been given $17 million to study food allergies—especially to peanuts. One facet of the 5-year program, which is sponsored by NIAID, is investigating the use of shots to desensitize people with peanut allergy. In addition, some 400 infants with milk and egg allergies will be studied for signs of immunological differences that distinguish those who outgrow their allergies from those who retain them lifelong.

Currently, some 30,000 people a year are hospitalized for food allergy in the United States, and 200 die during an allergic episode. One concern, Burks notes, is that children who develop peanut allergy earlier than in the past might face a lower-than-usual chance of outgrowing their life-threatening affliction—one that requires constant vigilance.

Such an allergy can even crimp one's social life. Consider the poor teenage girl whose lips swelled up after being kissed by her boyfriend (see A Rash of Kisses). Hours earlier, the boy had eaten peanuts, to which the girl was allergic.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


American Academy of Pediatrics

141 Northwest Point Boulevard

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Web site: [Go to]

A. Wesley Burks

Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

Duke University Medical Center

DUMC 2644

Durham, NC 27710

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Office of Communications and Government Relations

6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612

Bethesda, MD 20892-6612

Web site: [Go to]
Further Reading

Helmuth, L. 1999. Allergy vaccine may take fear out of nuts. Science News 155(April 3):213. Available at [Go to].

Long, A. 2002. The nuts and bolts of peanut allergy. New England Journal of Medicine 346(April 25):1320-1322. Extract available at [Go to].

Raloff, J. 2003. Unexpected sources of peanut allergy. Science News Online (March 15). Available at [Go to].

______. 2002. A rash of kisses. Science News 162(July 20):40. Available at [Go to].

______. 1998. The mango that thought it was poison ivy. Science News Online (Aug. 8). Available at [Go to].

______. 1997. A whiff, a sniff—then asthma. Science News Online (Feb. 1). Available at [Go to].

______. 1996. Peanut allergy found common and increasing. Science News 150(Sept. 7):150. Available at [Go to].

_____. 1996. Family allergies? Keep nuts away from kids. Science News 149(May 4):279. Available at [Go to].

Seppa, N. 2003. Tough nut is cracked: Antibody treatment stifles peanut reactions. Science News 163(March 15):163. Available at [Go to].

          Canadians Advocate Boosting Vitamin D in Pregnancy        

A Canadian medical society recommends pregnant women and nursing moms boost their intake of vitamin D dramatically

Food for Thought

Canadian pediatricians certainly aren't shirking controversy when it comes to a vitamin guideline they've developed for pregnant women and nursing moms. They're asking these women to boost their intake of vitamin D dramatically—to 10 times the daily doses advocated by most health organizations in the States. This new prescription is aimed at combating rickets—leg deformations caused by soft bones—in youngsters who get too little of the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D helps build strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. Getting pregnant and nursing women to take more of the vitamin ensures that plenty will reach developing children.

In the past, most people had little trouble getting enough vitamin D—they just went outdoors where ultraviolet rays from the sun trigger chemical reactions in skin to make this vital nutrient. However, some people always had trouble making enough. Canadian kids at highest risk of vitamin deficits generally live in First Nations and Inuit communities. With sun-filtering pigments in their skin, and living at high latitudes, they must glean most of their vitamin D from the diet—generally a poor source—not the sun.

Most North American women—including those in the United States—eat diets delivering only about 100 international units, or IU, of vitamin D daily, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in Washington, D.C. That is half of what IOM recommends and a mere 5 percent of what Canadian pediatricians are now advocating for new and soon-to-be moms.

Although IOM's dietary recommendations are for the United States, the Canadian health establishment has tended to rubber stamp them. In this case, though, Canada's health agency took the unusual tack of signing off on a Canadian Paediatric Society proposal to boost the recommended intake by women who are pregnant or breast feeding to 2,000 IU per day. This new guideline appears in a consensus statement published in September by the society in its journal, Paediatrics & Child Health.

Soon the society will begin sending its new guideline to every provincial, territorial, and aboriginal health department across Canada, notes Marie Adèle Davis, the group's executive director. The goal, she told Science News Online, is to make sure all public health officials learn about it—not just pediatricians.

The higher recommendation equals the amount that IOM has designated as the safe upper limit for vitamin D's daily consumption. Most nutritionists don't really consider that value is a true ceiling for safe intake—especially since sunbathing on a bright summer day can generate 10,000 to 20,000 IU in the body without harm. Still, for political and legal reasons, most organizations shy away from advocating intakes near what IOM has flagged as a potential maximum for safe consumption.

Now a number of researchers suspect that intakes by pregnant and lactating women much below 2,000 IU per day could actually prove unsafe for child health.

Reinhold Vieth of the University of Toronto explained why, recently, to officials with Health Canada, a counterpart to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To prevent rickets, he argued, a baby needs 400 IU of vitamin D per day. And in many parts of Canada, he said, nursing women may require several thousand IU of vitamin D per day to get 400 IU into their breast milk. Vieth had been recruited by the Canadian Paediatric Society to help defend its proposed guideline to government officials.

U.S. physicians won't quibble over the 400 IU figure for babies and young children, notes pediatrician Frank R. Greer, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) committee on nutrition. Although the 1997 IOM report says 200 IU of vitamin D per day should be sufficient for anyone under 50—including children—few researchers buy that. "Everybody feels that we should be taking more than 200 IU," says Greer, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Unlike the Canadian Paediatric Society, though, "We [at AAP] don't really have any influence on what pregnant and lactating women take," Greer says. "However, I can say that AAP's committee on nutrition has recommended to the board that we go back to [recommending] 400 IU for all children." That's the amount in a teaspoon of cod liver oil—the vitamin D supplement of choice throughout the early 20th century. Greer expects his committee's recommendation to be approved by AAP's board, perhaps within the next month.

Optimal needs vary

For most of the past century, nutrient guidelines have been set to prevent gross deficiencies—shortfalls that could cause disease. Those recommendations tended to represent minimally adequate intakes. Over the past decade, however, considerable debate has surrounded what vitamin D consumption levels would be optimal versus merely adequate.

The controversy has been fueled by a steady stream of studies that have emerged since the IOM set its vitamin D guidelines. Nearly all demonstrate substantial health benefits from relatively high intakes of vitamin D—amounts well in excess of what most individuals now get. Moreover, those benefits extend well beyond protecting bone. More vitamin D seems to diminish the risk of cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, muscle loss, viral infections—even gum disease.

Researchers gauge vitamin D sufficiency on the basis of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25-HD). This is not the form of the vitamin that is consumed—nor the hormonal form that the body actually uses—but an intermediary. To achieve optimal concentrations of 25-HD, growing numbers of nutrition and health scientists suggest, most of us would need intakes of 800 to 4,000 IU per day (see Vitamin D: What's Enough?).

How much vitamin D someone needs can vary widely, largely depending on the amount of skin that gets exposed to the sun each day—and for how long. Further complicating the picture, some skin is heavily pigmented, filtering sunlight out. Many people cover up with clothes or sunblock when they go outdoors. Still others live at high latitudes—as Canadians do—where little ultraviolet radiation makes it through the atmosphere during much of the year.

Even for women in the southern United States, however, "we've found that lactating women need about 6,000 IU a day to transfer enough vitamin D into their milk to supply adequate amounts to a nursing infant," says Bruce W. Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Nor are nursing moms the only individuals who may need relatively large doses of the vitamin. Hollis' research has shown that black women may sometimes need 4,000 IU a day for months at a time to compensate for little time outdoors, heavy skin pigmentation, and/or obesity—a factor that appears to diminish the body's ability to use vitamin D efficiently (see Understanding Vitamin D Deficiency).

Another reason for moms' supplementation?

In March, researchers at Harvard Medical School reported evidence that ample vitamin D diminishes the chance a child will develop asthma, a scourge who's incidence has been rising, especially in black and low-income communities (see Childhood Vitamin D—A New Benefit?). Recently, an additional putative benefit has emerged for pregnant women and their developing babies.

A study linked elevated risk of preeclampsia—high blood pressure that develops in some women during the last half of pregnancy—with low intakes of vitamin D. This condition, which can lead to miscarriage and even the death of the mother—ordinarily develops in some three to seven percent of first pregnancies.

Pittsburgh researchers enrolled 1,198 women who were pregnant for the first time and measured their blood concentrations of vitamin D within the first 22 weeks of gestation. Subsequently, 59 women developed preeclampsia. Blood values from all but four were compared to a similar group of recruits who maintained normal blood pressure throughout their pregnancies.

The higher a woman's blood concentrations of 25-HD, the lower her chance of developing preeclampsia—and that risk fell steadily and "strikingly" with increasing vitamin D values, Lisa M. Bodnar of the University of Pittsburgh and her colleagues found.

Moreover, babies whose moms had developed preeclampsia were far more likely to have low vitamin-D values than were children whose moms had maintained normal blood pressure. "These differences were found in our population despite widespread prenatal/multivitamin use in the 3 months before delivery," Bodnar's group reports in the September Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Black women face far higher risks of developing this hypertensive syndrome. Overall, black women are also far likelier than other ethnic or racial groups to have low blood levels of vitamin D. Against this backdrop, Bodnar's group says, "our data linking vitamin D deficiency and preeclampsia risk raises the intriguing possibility that vitamin D may contribute to racial disparities in this [syndrome]."

"The story of deficiency begins with vitamin D itself and its primary mode of synthesis, which is from sunlight," argue Adekunle Dawodu of the University of Cincinnati and Carol L. Wagner of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. In a commentary in the September Archives of Disease in Childhood, they report a resurgence of rickets around the world, not only in children at high latitudes, but also in the Arab world and Asia where culture or excessive temperatures may keep women and children indoors or covered up.

A shift from vitamin-D sufficiency to widespread deficiency has occurred rapidly—mostly throughout a half-century. The reason for it is clear, Dawodu and Wagner say: "insufficient sun exposure and inadequate corrective vitamin-D supplementation." They conclude, much as the Canadian Paediatric Society just has, that dosing moms during pregnancy and lactation "would achieve the double effect of preventing vitamin-D deficiency in both mothers and children." But unlike the Canadian society, they note that doses considerably higher than 2,000 IU may be necessary for some individuals and communities.

As a goal, achieving population-wide vitamin D sufficiency "may be one of the more important preventative public health initiatives," conclude Dawodu and Wagner.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


American Academy of Pediatrics

141 Northwest Point Boulevard

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098

Lisa M. Bodnar

Department of Epidemiology

University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

A742 Crabtree Hall

130 DeSoto Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15261

John J. Cannell

Psychiatry Department

Atascadero State Hospital

10333 El Camino Real

Atascadero, CA 93423

Marie Adèle Davis

Canadian Paediatric Society

2305 St. Laurent Boulevard

Ottawa, Ont. K1G 4J8


Frank R. Greer

Department of Pediatrics

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Madison, WI 53792

Bruce W. Hollis

Department of Pediatrics

Medical University of South Carolina

P.O. Box 250917

171 Ashley Avenue, Room BM326

Charleston, SC 29425

Reinhold Vieth

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Mount Sinai Hospital

600 University Avenue

Toronto, ON M5G 1X5

Further Reading

Cannell, J.J. In press. Autism and vitamin D. Medical Hypotheses. Abstract available at [Go to].

Dijkstra, S.H., et al. 2007. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in newborn infants of high-risk mothers. Archives of Disease in Childhood 92(September):750-753. Available at [Go to].

Moore, C.E., M.M. Murphy, and M.F. Holick. 2005. Vitamin D intakes by children and adults in the United States differ among ethnic groups. Journal of Nutrition 135(October):2478-2485. Available at [Go to].

Raloff, J. 2007. Childhood vitamin D—A new benefit? Science News Online (May 19). Available at [Go to].

______. 2007. Childhood vitamin D—A dark side? Science News Online (May 12). Available at [Go to].

______. 2006. The antibiotic vitamin. Science News 170(Nov. 11):312-317. Available at [Go to].

______. 2005. Breathing easier with vitamin D. Science News Online (Dec. 17). Available at [Go to].

______. 2005. Vitamin D boosts calcium potency. Science News Online (Nov. 12). Available at [Go to].

______. 2005. Understanding vitamin D deficiency. Science News Online (April 30). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Vitamin D: What's enough? Science News 166(Oct. 16):248-249. Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Vitamin boost. Science News 166(Oct. 9):232-233. Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Should foods be fortified even more? Science News Online (Sept. 11). Available at [Go to].

______. 2000. Calcium may become a dieter's best friend. Science News 157(April 29):277. Available at [Go to].

Williams, A.F. 2007. Vitamin D in pregnancy: An old problem still to be solved? Archives of Disease in Childhood 92(September):740-741. Available at [Go to].

          Cleaning Up after Livestock        

Food for Thought

As any pet owner knows, the more food that goes into an animal's mouth, the more wastes that eventually spew out the other end. The bigger the animal, the bigger its appetite. So imagine the volumes of manure—often tainted with germs—that farmers must manage for even a small feedlot with perhaps 3,500 head of cattle.

Ordinarily, beef producers house their animals in pens—some the size of football fields or larger. They're designed to leave each animal about 80 square feet of space. Cattle wastes just fall to the ground and collect—often for a month or more—before feedlot crews periodically scrape away the muck. After composting, the dried manure will be applied to fields as a rich fertilizer.

The real problem develops when it rains. Then, a manure-rich, watery slurry can drain off the fields. Conventionally, feedlot managers would divert this liquid into huge, smelly ponds or lagoons—some 10-feet deep or more, explains Bryan L. Woodbury, an agricultural engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Nebraska.

His team has been developing a literally greener alternative to pond storage for manure-laced runoff from feedlot pens. The new system directs that runoff into a foot-deep drainage basin. Leading out of it are a series of narrow pipes. Because the interior diameters of these pipes are small, rain-deposited wastes temporarily back-up in this glorified drainage ditch. It typically takes hours for all of the liquids to fully drain out through the pipes. While they wait, solids in the rain-manure slurry tend to settle out as sediments that will accumulate on the basin's bottom.

Exiting liquids, meanwhile, flow gently into a mildly sloping field of grass, where the animal wastes will fertilize the plants' growth. At the end of the season, farmers harvest that grass as hay, bale it, and then feed it back to the herd.

For much of the past decade, Woodbury's team has tinkered with the system's design to optimize gravity's removal of solids from the initial rain-manure slurry and the pace at which fertilizing water enters the hayfield. In terms of those features, the system appears ready for prime time—at least in the Midwest, Woodbury says.

However, what hadn't been evaluated was the fate of germs that were shed by cattle along with those wastes. If the brief holding of the manure-water slurry and its subsequent release into fields promoted the growth of disease-causing microorganisms, those germs might eventually find their way into plants (see Not Just Hitchhikers). That would risk re-exposing animals that later dined on the tainted hay.

A new investigation now indicates that although the raw manure often hosts germs, most of the nasty microbes hitchhiking in it appear to settle out along with sediments in the initial holding basin. Bugs that remain suspended in the water long enough to travel on to the fields don't appear to survive there long, Woodbury and his colleagues report in the Nov. 1 Journal of Environmental Quality.

Indeed, the researchers note, while their new data "indicate that there is some risk for hay contamination, it appears to be low." For instance, on one day that hay was cut—two weeks after a major rainfall that shunted diluted manure into the field—only four of 10 tested soil samples hosted Escherichia coli O157.

Yet only one of the 30 samples of loose hay that was cut that day from parts of the field that had received manure-fertilized rainwater tested positive for that E. coli strain. Microbiologists also failed to later detect that E. coli O157 in hay following its baling and storage.

That's encouraging news because this bacterium has a long track record of causing disease. It was, for instance, responsible for the major food poisonings associated with tainted spinach in September 2006—an outbreak that sickened more than 200 people, killing five. These microbes can set up housekeeping in the bovine gut, causing no harm to the animal. However, germs shed in the cow's feces can infect people or crops that contact it.

The Nebraska researchers also probed for evidence of Campylobacter, another bacterium shed by cattle that can provoke gut-wrenching illness. And although three of 10 field-soil samples tested positive after one major rain, none did 2 weeks later. The germ also failed to show up in loose or baled hay.

Similarly, even though the test herd of 750 cattle had been periodically shedding large quantities of Cryptosporidium and Giardia—two common parasites responsible for substantial human disease, especially in persons with weakened immune systems—biologists found none of these microbes in field soil, much less the hay that had been grown on it.

Woodbury and his colleagues conclude that their vegetative filtering of manure washed off of feedlots is effective in dramatically sequestering and ultimately removing several of the major families of microbes responsible for human, food-related illness.

What they don't yet know is whether there will be significant rainfall constraints to their system's efficacy. Will arid regions benefit from it? Will very wet areas send so much fertilizer to hayfields that they burn the grass? "That's what we're in the process of testing right now," Woodbury says. "The jury's still out."

Other advantages

Earlier tests showed that the short-term basin storage of wastes upstream of the hayfield removes about half of the nitrogen in manure and almost all of the phosphorus, Woodbury says. That's important because one of the primary problems associated with fertilization of farm fields has been their release during rains of any unused nitrogen and fertilizer into streams.

Eventually, the fertilizing effects of these nutrients in surface waters can fuel the growth of algae that ultimately suck most of the oxygen out of large patches of coastal waters, creating what are colloquially termed dead zones (see Limiting Dead Zones).

The new waste-sanitizing system's basin also removes most of the solid material suspended in the rain-manure slurry. This means that about once a year, people must excavate the buildup from the basin. However, what they remove is no longer a waste, but yet another fertilizing amendment for farm fields.

Oh, and Woodbury points to another potential advantage of his team's new system—something that he refers to as the "white picket fence effect." When people see a picket fence out front, they focus on that pleasant feature, and not every detrimental facet of a house or yard. Well, nobody views a big, smelly lagoon filled with bovine fecal material as the farm equivalent of a white picket fence, he says. A hayfield, on the other hand: That's almost Norman Rockwell Americana.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


Bryan L. Woodbury

Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 166, Spur 18D

Clay Center, NE 68933-0166
Further Reading

Milius, S. 2007. Not just hitchhikers. Science News 172(Oct. 20):250-252. Available at [Go to].

Raloff, J. 2006. Protozoa aid food-poisoning germs. Science News Online (March 18). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Limiting dead zones. Science News 165(June 12):378-380. Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Marsh farming for profit and the common good. Science News Online (May 15). Available at [Go to].

______. 2001. Retail meats host drug-resistant bacteria. Science News 160(Oct. 20):246. Available at [Go to].

______. 2001. Germ-fighting germs. Science News Online (Aug. 18). Available at [Go to].

______. 2001. Antibiotic resistance is coming to dinner. Science News 159(May 26):325. Available to subscribers at [Go to].

______. 2000. Sickening food. Science News Online (Jan. 1). Available at [Go to].

______. 1999. Food poisoning: Sprouts linked to bouts. Science News 155(Jan. 23):63. Available at [Go to].

______. 1998. Hay! What a way to fight E. coli. Science News Online (Sept. 19). Available at [Go to].

Seppa, N. 2000. Venison can contain E. coli bacteria. Science News (Aug. 5):95. Available to subscribers at [Go to].

          Tag! You're It        

Biologists catch and tag big sawfish in Florida waters

Food for Thought

Once a common top predator throughout coastal seas around the globe, sawfish have become remarkably rare. Indeed, today most populations are threatened with extinction. So spotting even one of these animals is reason to rejoice, notes Beau Yeiser of Mote Marine Laboratory in southern Florida. And this week, "we are nothing but giddy," he reports.

He and colleague Tonya Wiley just returned from a 2-day sawfish-scouting expedition during which they tagged a 7-foot male on Oct. 16. At that size, the strapping youth may be 5 to 7 years old, Yeiser says. He cautions, however, that estimating age is challenging "as we try and piece together the life history of this species. We don't even know its size at maturity yet."

These animals—essentially flattened sharks with wings—are members of the ray family. Only one species of this fish remains in U.S. waters, mostly off of Florida. Over the first half of the 20th century, this smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) was fished to the brink of extinction—largely by accident.

Although many cultures eat sawfish—the animals' fins are especially prized in Asia as the featured ingredient in a pricey soup—most of the animals in U.S. waters were landed and destroyed as bycatch, that is, nuisance species hauled in by commercial fishing fleets. The dire status of sawfish globally won these animals protection, last month, under a treaty banning international trade in endangered species (see Hammered Saws).

So far this year, Yeiser and Wiley have caught just 14 sawfish, most of them less than 4 feet long. Those would still be little kids, considering that these fish are almost a yard long at birth. Then again, the pair had expected only small ones because they've mainly been cruising coastal shallows this year in hopes of running into newborns and youngsters.

The scientists attach a numbered identification tag to the dorsal fin of every sawfish they catch—and then release the animal.

But last week's catch was so big that it qualified for a second identifier: a pop-up archival tag, or PAT. These recording devices are so heavy that they're reserved for large sawfish—at least 7-footers. To date, only some dozen of these animals have received PATs. Costing at least $4,000 each, these data-storage systems collect information every minute, for months, on the depth at which its host is swimming, the water temperature, and light levels. The latter information gets plugged into a computer program that roughly gauges the animal's geographic coordinates at any moment.

Researchers program a PAT to pop off the fish on a particular date. Once it floats to the surface, it sends its stored information in spurts, twice a day, to a satellite. That orbiting relay station then shoots those data back to Earth and the scientists' email addresses.

Last week's sawfish encounter took place in a southern Florida national wildlife refuge, in very shallow water. Investigated as a possible nursery, Yeiser says "I was expecting any sawfish that I might catch to be perhaps 4 to 5 feet in length." Instead, he found a much older juvenile. "But that's the beauty of this [sawfish] project; you never know what you are going to get when you're scouting a species that has not been studied much!"

Yeiser named the youth that he tagged last week Raloff. Hmmm—I like the sound of that. Its tag is programmed to pop off on March 15. Stay tuned for an update on my namesake's travels.

If all goes well, that is.

A 7- and an 11-foot sawfish each received PATs in May. Although the satellite tags had been programmed to pop off 3 months later, they actually surfaced within just a couple weeks, Yeiser says—and were never recovered.

So, each time biologists deploy the pricey devices, he says, "we just cross our fingers that they won't pop up early—or get lost in the middle of the Gulf."

Don't try this yourself

The sawfish is an endangered species, so federal law forbids its capture—except by researchers who have been granted a waiver. And even they need to release an animal after measuring and tagging it.

It's against the law to even harass the animals. Still, anglers may inadvertently snag one of the toothy marvels. When that happens, this species "should be released by keeping the fish in the water and cutting the line as close to the hook as possible," according to guidelines issued late last year by the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg, Fla. "If it can be done safely, untangle the line if it is wrapped around the saw. Do not handle the animal or attempt to remove any hooks on the saw, except for with a long-handled dehooker," NOAA says.

Biologists request that any anglers who sight a sawfish report their encounter to the Mote lab. Its scientists are maintaining a database to help them identify important habitat for these endangered animals.

As interesting as these piscine oddities are, biologists would prefer that the public give the fish a wide berth. The primary reason: Approaching the animals can stress them, chase them from what should be waters safe from predators, or even interfere with their reproduction.

But there's another reason to steer clear, according to Captain Harvey Lee Hamilton, who charters a fishing boat out of Pineland, Fla. "I've caught plenty of sawfish in my life, and I'll tell you: They're dangerous. I'm still scared to death of them." Their saws—which he terms blades—are edged with dozens of razor-sharp "teeth." The muscular animals slash those saws from side to side to kill prey or defend themselves.

Says Hamilton: "Those fish get big, with blades that can go to at least 5 foot." And they slash those blades "so fast," he says, "that they could slice your feet off." Indeed, he told Science News Online: "I'd rather fight a shark than a sawfish."

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


Beau Yeiser and Tonya R. Wiley

Center for Shark Research

Mote Marine Laboratory

1600 Ken Thompson Parkway

Sarasota, FL 34236

Smalltooth Sawfish Coordinator

National Marine Fisheries Service

Southeast Regional Office, Protected Resources Division

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, FL 33071
Further Reading

2006. Mote scientists to help eBay identify species in new sawfish ban. Mote Marine Laboratory news release. Jan. 25. Available at [Go to].

Mote Marine Laboratory. How you can help save the U.S. smalltooth sawfish. Available at [Go to].

Raloff. J. 2007. Hammered saws. Science News 172(Aug. 11):90-92. Available at [Go to].

______. 2002. Clipping the fin trade. Science News 162(Oct. 12):232-234. Available at [Go to].

Sawfish in Peril: Sawfish Education Program. Available at [Go to].

          Troubling Meaty 'Estrogen'        

High temperature cooking can imbue meats with a chemical that acts like a hormone

Food for Thought

Women take note. Researchers find that a chemical that forms in overcooked meat, especially charred portions, is a potent mimic of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. That's anything but appetizing, since studies have linked a higher lifetime cumulative exposure to estrogen in women with an elevated risk of breast cancer.

Indeed, the new finding offers a "biologically plausible" explanation for why diets rich in red meats might elevate breast-cancer risk, notes Nigel J. Gooderham of Imperial College London.

At the very high temperatures reached during frying and charbroiling, natural constituents of meats can undergo chemical reactions that generate carcinogens known as heterocyclic amines (see Carcinogens in the Diet). Because these compounds all have very long, unwieldy chemical monikers, most scientists refer to them by their abbreviations, such as IQ, MeIQ, MeIQx, and PhIP.

Of the nearly two dozen different heterocyclic amines that can form, PhIP dominates. It sometimes accumulates in amounts 10 to 50 times higher than that of any other member of this toxic chemical family, Gooderham says. Moreover, he adds, although heterocyclic amines normally cause liver tumors in exposed animals, PhIP is different: "It causes breast cancer in female rats, prostate cancer in male rats, and colon cancer in both." These are the same cancers that in people are associated with eating a lot of cooked meats.

However, the means by which such foods might induce cancer has remained somewhat elusive. So, building on his team's earlier work, Gooderham decided to probe what the heterocyclic amine did in rat pituitary cells. These cells make prolactin—another female sex hormone—but only when triggered by the presence of estrogen. Prolactin, like estrogen, fuels the growth of many breast cancers.

In their new test-tube study, Gooderham and coauthor Saundra N. Lauber show that upon exposure to PhIP, pituitary cells not only make progesterone, but also secrete it. If these cells do the same thing when they're part of the body, those secretions would circulate to other organs—including the breast.

But "what was startling," Gooderham told Science News Online, is that it took just trace quantities of the heterocyclic amine to spur prolactin production. "PhIP was incredibly potent," he says, able to trigger progesterone production at concentrations comparable to what might be found circulating in the blood of people who had eaten a couple of well-done burgers.

The toxicologist cautions that there's a big gap between observing an effect in isolated cells growing in a test-tube and showing that the same holds true in people.

However, even if PhIP does operate similarly in people, he says that's no reason to give up grilled meat. Certain cooking techniques, such as flipping hamburgers frequently, can limit the formation of heterocyclic amines. Moreover, earlier work by the Imperial College team showed that dining on certain members of the mustard family appear to detoxify much of the PhIP that might have inadvertently been consumed as part of a meal.

The human link

Three recent epidemiological studies support concerns about the consumption of grilled meats.

In the first, Harvard Medical School researchers compared the diets of more than 90,000 premenopausal U.S. nurses. Over a 12-year period, 1,021 of the relatively young women developed invasive breast cancers. The more red meat a woman ate, the higher was her risk of developing invasive breast cancer, Eunyoung Cho and her colleagues reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine last November. The increased risk was restricted, however, only to those types of breast cancers that are fueled by estrogen or progesterone.

Overall, women who ate the most red meat—typically 1.5 servings or more per day—faced nearly double the invasive breast-cancer risk of those eating little red meat each week.

Related findings emerged in the April 10 British Journal of Cancer. There, researchers at the University of Leeds reported data from a long-running study of more than 35,000 women in the United Kingdom who ranged in age from roughly 35 to 70. Regardless of the volunteers' age, Janet E. Cade's team found, those who consumed the most meat had the highest risk of breast cancer.

Shortly thereafter, Susan E. Steck of the University of South Carolina's school of public health and her colleagues linked meat consumption yet again with increased cancer risk, but only in the older segment of the women they investigated. By comparing the diets of 1,500 women with breast cancer to those of 1,550 cancerfree women, the scientists showed that postmenopausal women consuming the most grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats faced the highest breast-cancer risk.

These data support accumulating evidence that a penchant for well-done meats can hike a woman's breast-cancer risk, Steck and her colleagues concluded in the May Epidemiology.

PhIP fighters

Such findings have been percolating out of the epidemiology community for years. Nearly a decade ago, for instance, National Cancer Institute scientists reported finding that women who consistently ate their meat very well done—with a crispy, blackened crust—faced a substantially elevated breast-cancer risk when compared to those who routinely ate rare- or medium-cooked meats.

However, even well-done meats without char can contain heterocyclic amines, chemical analyses by others later showed. The compounds' presence appears to correlate best with how meat is cooked, not merely with how brown its interior ended up (SN: 11/28/98, p. 341).

At high temperatures, the simple sugar glucose, together with creatinine—a muscle-breakdown product, and additional free amino acids, can all interact within beef, chicken, and other meats to form heterocyclic amines. In contrast, low-temperature cooking or a quick searing may generate none of the carcinogens.

Because there's no way to tell visually, by taste, or by smell whether PhIP and its toxic kin lace cooked meat, food chemists have been lobbying commercial and home chefs to reduce the heat they use to cook meats—or to turn meats frequently to keep the surfaces closest to the heat source from getting too hot.

The significance of this was driven home to Gooderham several years ago when just such tactics spoiled an experiment he was launching to test whether Brussels sprouts and broccoli could help detoxify PhIP. "I bought 30 kilograms of prime Aberdeen angus lean beef," he recalls. "Then we ground it up and I gave it to a professional cook to turn into burgers and cook." Professional cooks tend to move meats around quite a bit, he found. The result: His expensive, chef-prepared meat contained almost no PhIP.

In the end, he says, "I sacked the cook, bought another 30 kilos of meat and prepared the burgers myself. It was a costly lesson."

Once restarted, however, that study yielded encouraging data.

One way the body detoxifies and sheds toxic chemicals is to link them to what amounts to a sugar molecule. Consumption of certain members of the mustard (Brassica) family, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts (both members of the B. oleracea species)—can encourage this process. So Gooderham's team fed 250 grams (roughly half a pound) each of broccoli and Brussels sprouts each day to 20 men for almost 2 weeks. On the 12th day, the men each got a cooked-meat meal containing 4.9 micrograms of PhIP.

Compared to similar trial periods when their diets had been Brassica-free, the volunteers excreted up to 40 percent more PhIP in urine, the researchers reported in Carcinogenesis.

Experimental data suggest that two brews may also help detoxify heterocyclic amines. In test-tube studies, white tea largely prevented DNA damage from the heterocyclic amine IQ (SN: 4/15/00, p. 251), and in mice, extracts of beer tackled MeIQx and Trp-P-2 (see Beer's Well Done Benefit).

The best strategy of all, most toxicologists say, is to prevent formation of heterocyclic amines in the first place. In addition to frequently turning meat on the grill or fry pan, partially cooking meats in a microwave prior to grilling will limit the toxic chemicals' formation. So will mixing in a little potato starch to ground beef before grilling (see How Carbs Can Make Burgers Safer) or marinating meats with a heavily sugared oil-and-vinegar sauce (SN: 4/24/99, p. 264).

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


Janet E. Cade

UK Women's Cohort Study

Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics

30/32 Hyde Terrace

The University of Leeds

Leeds LS2 9LN

United Kingdom

Eunyoung Cho

Channing Laboratory

Department of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

181 Longwood Avenue

Boston, MA 02115

Nigel J. Gooderham

Biomolecular Medicine

Imperial College London

Sir Alexander Fleming Building

London SW7 2AZ

United Kingdom

Susan Elizabeth Steck

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program

Arnold School of Public Health

University of South Carolina

2221 Devine Street, Room 231

Columbia, SC 29208
Further Reading

Raloff, J. 2007. Concerns over genistein, part II—Beyond the heart. Science News Online (July 7). Available at [Go to].

______. 2007. Concerns over genistein, part I—The heart of the issue. Science News Online (June 16). Available at [Go to].

______. 2006. Pesticides mimic estrogen in shellfish. Science News 170(Dec. 16):397. Available to subscribers at [Go to].

______. 2006. No-stick chemicals can mimic estrogen. Science News 170(Dec. 2):366. Available to subscribers at [Go to].

______. 2006. Meat poses exaggerated cancer risk for some people. Science News Online (March 25). Available at [Go to].

______. 2005. Beer's well done benefit. Science News Online (March 5). Available at [Go to].

______. 2005. Carcinogens in the diet. Science News Online (Feb. 19). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. How carbs can make burgers safer. Science News Online (Dec. 4). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Uranium, the newest 'hormone'. Science News 166(Nov. 13):318. Available to subscribers at [Go to].

______. 2001. Fire retardant catfish? Science News Online (Dec. 8). Available at [Go to].

______. 1999. Well-done research. Science News 155(April 24):264-266. Available at [Go to].

______. 1998. Very hot grills may inflame cancer risks. Science News 154(Nov. 28):341. Available at [Go to].

______. 1996. Another meaty link to cancer. Science News 149(June 8):365. Available at [Go to].

______. 1996. 'Estrogen' pairings can increase potency. Science News 149(June 8):356. Available at [Go to].

______. 1995. Beyond estrogens: Why unmasking hormone-mimicking pollutants proves so challenging. Science News 148(July 15):44. Available at [Go to].

______. 1994. Meaty carcinogens: A risk to the cook? Science News 146(Aug. 13):103.

______. 1994. Not so hot hot dogs? Science News 145(April 23):264-269.

______. 1994. How cooked meat may inflame the heart. Science News 145(March 12):165.

______. 1994. The gender benders. Science News 145(Jan. 8):24. Available at [Go to].

Smith-Roe, S.L., et al. 2006. Induction of aberrant crypt foci in DNA mismatch repair-deficient mice by the food-borne carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyridine (PhIP). Cancer Letters. 244(Nov. 28):79-85. Abstract available at [Go to].

______. 2006. Mlh1-dependent responses to 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyridine (PhIP), a food-borne carcinogen. (Abstract # 514). Toxicologist 90(March):105.

______. 2006. Mlh1-dependent suppression of specific mutations induced in vivo by the food-borne carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyridine (PhIP). Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 594(Feb. 22):101-112. Abstract available at [Go to].

          Diminishing Obesity's Risks        

Mouse data suggest that, properly managed, obesity can be benign.

Food for Thought

Health-care professionals typically refer to an extremely heavy person as being morbidly obese. The term reinforces the idea that the individual is at high risk of diabetes, fatty-liver disease, and heart attacks. Researchers who have been working with mice now report that certain chronic diseases don't have to be consequences of obesity.

The team accomplished the disconnect by tricking the animals' bodies into storing all their excess fat within their fat cells, or adipocytes.

That's not what the bodies of rodents—or people—typically do. Initially, excess lipids—fat—are stored in these cells, making up what's called adipose tissue or simply body fat. These deposits lie primarily in the breasts, belly, and thighs. However, once adipocytes fill up, new storage sites take up the overflow. Those new depots usually develop in muscle and the liver.

Of those two depots, the liver is more dangerous when it becomes fatty. Straightforwardly named, fatty liver disease can arise and lead eventually to hepatitis, cirrhosis, and death.

A drop in the hormone called adiponectin is the body's signal to store fat outside adipose tissue. Sometimes referred to as the starvation hormone, adiponectin normally remains high in lean animals. With obesity, however, blood concentrations of the molecule fall.

Philipp E. Scherer of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and his colleagues reasoned that keeping adiponectin concentrations high might fool the body into making extra adipocytes instead of sending surplus fat to muscles and the liver.

The team has now investigated the hypothesis in a strain of mice that make copious adiponectin regardless of how fat they become. In the Sept. 4 Journal of Clinical Investigation, the researchers report that as the novel mice mature, they become unbelievably huge. Indeed, muses Scherer, these are "the fattest mice ever reported," with fat comprising 60 percent or more of their body weight.

As hoped for, the mice deposit all their excess fat in adipose tissue. Also in sharp contrast to other obese mice, the high-adiponectin animals develop no signs of diabetes. They also avoid a metabolic disorder known as syndrome X, which puts animals, including people, at high risk of heart disease (SN: 4/8/2000, p. 236).

So, although these barely mobile, blubbery mounds of flesh look like wrecks, they don't appear to be at high risk for several chronic diseases associated with obesity, Scherer told Science News Online. Actually, he says, from the preliminary data, the mice "appear perfectly healthy."

He suspects that there's a lesson in this for investigators of human-obesity treatments. Drugs exist that raise adiponectin values in even overweight individuals. Most, like pioglitazone (Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia), are prescribed to treat diabetes. However, data suggest these drugs also reduce the buildup of fat in the liver.

Unfortunately, diminishing health risks in morbidly obese people may require far more than just supersizing their treatment with the diabetes drugs—especially since data reported earlier this year linked rosiglitazone with an increased risk of heart attack (SN: 6/23/07, p. 397).

Fat signals

Tissues throughout the body communicate on a regular basis via signaling hormones. Adiponectin is one of those messengers released by adipocytes to inform the rest of the body about how full the fat cells are. If they aren't full, Scherer explains, the cells pour out copious adiponectin. The body then responds by directing its fat into those cells for storage. As adipocytes fill with lipids, they turn down the adiponectin signal, telling the body that it's time to find new fat depots.

Adipocytes release several other messengers, among them leptin. As lipids swell the adipocytes, the cells crank up production of this hormone. Once released into the bloodstream, leptin circulates to the brain, where it offers a status report on how full the fat cells are. If leptin signals that there's plenty of fat on hand, a healthy body not only experiences satiety but also reduces its food intake and burns more calories.

At some point, a spontaneous mutation in mice led to a strain of animals that lacked the ability to make leptin. The resulting rodents, always hungry and primed to store—not burn—any excess energy consumed, inevitably become obese. Scherer's group worked with this strain and engineered it also to make extra adiponectin. The new mice typically produce about twice as much adiponectin as a normal, svelte rodent does. This excess is comparable to what can occur when people take certain diabetes-controlling drugs.

In the new study, the researchers compared normal, lean, leptin-producing mice with leptinfree, obese ones and the new leptinfree-but-high-adiponectin animals. By adulthood, the new mice far surpassed the girth of the original obese line. But instead of having high blood sugar and insulin concentrations—characteristics of the original obese animals that mimic type-2 diabetes symptoms—the new megafatties exhibited normal insulin and blood-sugar values. In fact, Scherer says, the engineered animals had about the same insulin characteristics as healthy, lean mice.

"That was a real surprise," he concedes—"that the [new] mice could get so fat and yet remain very healthy, metabolically speaking."

One solution: More fat cells

Most people are like obese mice, chronically taking in more calories than they burn, Scherer says.

Lipid buildup in the liver is "really the driving force for insulin resistance," a metabolic change that precedes the development of diabetes, notes Scherer When this develops, the body makes normal amounts of insulin, but finds itself increasingly unable to use it. The end result: Too little insulin is used to move energy into cells, leaving high concentrations of sugar in the blood.

The new study with high-adiponectin mice shows that "if you can overcome this block of overexpansion of adipose tissue, there is no need for excess calories to deposit as fat in the liver," Scherer says. Instead, fat can accumulate where it does the least damage, "in the professional fat-storage cell, the adipocyte."

But Scherer doesn't want to say that excess calories are benign when they wind up in fat cells. Bulging adipocytes send out a number of inflammatory compounds (SN: 2/28/04, p. 139). It's not yet clear how important a role these compounds may play in chronic disease, but some have been linked to diabetes. Moreover, extra weight may strain an animal's joints and even its heart. So, it's premature to give a clean bill of health to mice whose physiques rival that of Jabba the Hutt.

Still, Scherer argues, "from a qualitative point of view, these [new] mice are relatively healthy." Indeed, he says, what happens in the animals' tissues may explain why some very obese people are able to retain good insulin sensitivity and dodge the diabetes bullet.

People who develop diabetes as adults tend to put all of their fat into a few big, inflammation-prone fat cells. However, some people's bodies employ a different strategy, Scherer says. They pack relatively small quantities of fat into an ever-proliferating number of fat cells, ones that never seem to undergo stress-induced inflammation. This approach is triggered by a "local overexpression of adiponectin in adipocytes." That, in turn, switches on production of a key signaling molecule—PPAR-gamma—that serves as a master switch "governing how many fat cells we have," he explains.

"None of this is an endorsement for obesity," Scherer cautions. "But it shows that if you can expand your fat stores in a healthy way to keep up with your caloric intake, this will improve insulin sensitivity."

Overall, he argues, "the best strategy is to eat less and exercise more. But for the many of us who continue to take in more calories than we burn, it would be better to expand our fat-cell numbers than to store excess lipids in other tissues. That's our take-home message."

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


Philipp E. Scherer

Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research

Department of Internal Medicine

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

5323 Harry Hines Boulevard

Dallas, TX 75390-9077
Further Reading

Dormandy, J.A., et al. 2005. Secondary prevention of macrovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes in the PROactive Study (PROspective pioglitAzone Clinical Trial In macroVascular Events): A randomised controlled trial. Lancet 366(Oct. 8):1279-1289. Abstract available at [Go to].

Harder, B. 2007. Fixes for fatty liver. Science News 171(March 3):136-137. Available at [Go to].

Pawlak, D.B., et al. 2001. High glycemic index starch promotes hypersecretion of insulin and higher body fat in rats without affecting insulin sensitivity. Journal of Nutrition 131(January):99-104. Available at [Go to].

Psaty, B.M., and C.D. Furberg. 2007. Rosiglitazone and cardiovascular risk. New England Journal of Medicine 356(June 14):2522-2524. Available at [Go to].

Raloff, J. 2007. Fattening carbs—Some promote obesity and worse. Science News Online (Sept. 29). Available at [Go to].

______. 2007. Infectious foie gras? Science News Online (June 30). Available at [Go to].

______. 2007. Super-size mice—Fast food hurts rodents. Science News Online (June 9). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Inflammatory fat. Science News 165(Feb. 28):139-140. Available at [Go to].

______. 2000. The new GI tracts. Science News 157(April 8):236-238. Available at [Go to].

Seppa, N. 2007. Diabetes drug might hike heart risk. Science News 171(June 23):397. Available at [Go to].

          Fattening Carbs—Some Promote Obesity and Worse        

Food for Thought

Nutritionists call them carbohydrates. To most of us, they're simply sugars and starches. And although the fructose in soft drinks and the refined flour in white bread taste quite different, "nutritionally and metabolically they're the same as table sugar," explains endocrinologist David S. Ludwig. That's because the body digests all carbohydrate-rich foods into glucose, or blood sugar.

However, all carbs don't break down at the same rate. The body digests those in many whole-grain products quite slowly. Others become converted to glucose almost immediately.

Rapidly digested carbs aren't healthy for people with diabetes and others watching their blood sugar. A new study by Ludwig and his colleagues at Children's Hospital Boston suggests that such carbs are also problematic for people looking to shed body fat. Indeed, the findings indicate that consumption of the wrong carbs can spur the development of body fat, even with no gain in weight.

In the study, mice that chowed down on a type of rapidly digestible starch didn't gain any more weight than did animals eating a starch that digests slowly. But the first group did accumulate lots of excess fat. The data indicate that something about rapidly digesting carbs signaled the body to convert more of a meal's energy into body fat, into fatty lipids that circulate in blood, and into deposits of fat throughout the liver.

Ludwig considers the observed effect on the animals' livers the most troubling one. Fatty-liver disease has traditionally been regarded as the first stage of damage from alcoholism that can progress to hepatitis, cirrhosis, and death. But researchers in recent years have discerned the beginnings of an epidemic of fatty-liver disease unrelated to alcoholism but correlated strongly with being overweight. Recent data suggest that as much as one-third of children and even a higher proportion of adults have the condition. Ludwig told Science News Online that he suspects that "up to half of the [U.S.] population" now has fatty-liver disease.

The question has been what's fueling this epidemic. Because the disease so often accompanies obesity, many researchers have suspected that high-fat diets and junk foods are responsible. Ludwig's group had another idea.

In recent years, the mushrooming incidence of obesity in the United States has led to a push to get people to lower their intakes of fat. However, reducing fat consumption almost always translates into increasing the intake of carbs (see Counting Carbs). Moreover, the carbs most people reach for first are the refined—easy to digest—types found in white flour, white rice, pasta, and potatoes.

Ludwig's team decided to see whether a diet rich in a similar carb promotes fat buildup. They used a proportion of carbs that people on a low-fat diet might eat and compared its effects with that of a diet equal in all respects except that its carbs were mainly a slowly digested starch.

In the September Obesity, the researchers show that animals eating rapidly digested carbs accumulated more fat throughout their bodies—including their livers—than did animals eating primarily the slow-to-digest starch.

Says Ludwig, "This is the first study in which a single dietary factor—varied within normal ranges—affected whether the liver remained normal or accumulated seriously elevated levels of fat."

Recipe for pudge

In the new study, Ludwig's team fed 18 recently weaned mice food pellets containing 13 percent fat, 19 percent protein, and 68 percent carbohydrates from corn starch. Half the animals got pellets containing the starch called amylopectin, which is made up of a string of glucose molecules that the gut easily degrades into sugar. The remaining mice ate pellets containing some amylopectin but mostly the starch called amylose. That type of corn starch resists breakdown in the gut.

All the animals ate and drank as much as they wanted for 25 weeks. Throughout the study, the researchers charted weight gain, body fat, fecal excretion of starch, and blood concentrations of glucose and insulin. At the end, the researchers killed the animals and measured their livers' fat contents.

Weight gain didn't differ between the two groups of animals, suggesting that the mice found the diets comparably palatable. However, the animals' bodies responded differently to the two food-pellet recipes. Mice dining on amylopectin-enriched chow became twice as fat as those eating the slower-digested amylose recipe. Mice eating this starch grew a little longer in body, so they looked leaner that the "roly-poly" mice eating easily digested starch, Ludwig says. The latter mice "felt squishy," whereas the slow-digested-starch eaters felt firm, he adds.

Although blood sugar concentrations didn't differ between the two groups, mice on the amylopectin-rich food developed higher insulin values after a meal. The body uses the hormone to shepherd energy into its cells. Higher blood insulin after a meal, Ludwig explains, indicates that an animal needs more insulin to fully use the food it's eaten. Needing more of the hormone can be a first sign of insulin resistance and impending diabetes.

Ludwig notes, "Insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone, meaning it promotes the storage of fat. In fact, that's arguably one of [the hormone's] main roles." One of the first places newly made insulin ends up is in the liver, where it can trigger the localized creation and stockpiling of fat.

Although the rodents' livers weighed the same whether they ate fast- or slow-digested starch, fat made up 12 percent of the liver in mice fed the amylopectin-rich diet. That's double the fat content of livers in animals that had eaten the slow-digested starch. For perspective, Ludwig notes, people whose livers contain 10 percent fat are considered to be suffering from "advanced" nonalcoholic fatty-liver disease.

What about people?

This isn't the first study to indicate that foods that rapidly break down to glucose in the body—characterized as having a "high glycemic index" (see The New GI Tracts)—can fuel nonalcoholic fatty-liver disease. For instance, last year Silvia Valtueña of the University of Parma in Italy and her colleagues reported findings from a study of 247 apparently healthy men and women. The volunteers' diets were evaluated and given a glycemic-index (GI) rating.

Low GI foods included corn, dairy products, and fruit. High GI fare included bread, pizza, and baked snacks. The volunteers were grouped into four categories based on the ascending GI rankings of their diets.

Participants with the highest-GI diets were twice as likely to have undiagnosed fatty-liver disease as were other study participants. People in the highest group were also far likelier to be insulin resistant, the researcher reported in the July 2006 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In an editorial accompanying the Valtueña report, David J.A. Jenkins and his colleagues at the University of Toronto argued that the "implication of this study is that a low-GI diet, or selection of lower-GI rather than higher-GI foods, may benefit persons with nonalcoholic fatty liver." Indeed, the commenters suggested, it might be possible for doctors to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver by lowering the glycemic index of an individuals' diets.

That's what Ludwig's group is now investigating: "We hope to enroll 46 kids to a diet for 6 months," he says. The 8- to 17-year-olds and their parents will receive dietary counseling. Half of the recruits will be assigned to a low-fat diet. The rest will receive counseling to lower the glycemic index of their diets. The general guidelines for a low-GI diet call for substituting whole-grain foods for ones made from highly processed cereal fibers and reducing refined sugars in favor of sweet fruits.

"Conceptually," Ludwig says, "fatty liver should be reversible—we've seen it anecdotally in practice many times, such as when someone loses weight or changes the quality of their diet."

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


David J.A. Jenkins

Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center

St. Michael's Hospital

61 Queen Street, East

Toronto, ON M5C 3E2


David S. Ludwig

Children's Hospital Boston

Department of Medicine

333 Longwood Avenue

Boston, MA 02115

Silvia Valtueña

Department of Internal Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

University of Parma

43100 Parma

Further Reading

Pawlak, D.B., et al. 2001. High glycemic index starch promotes hypersecretion of insulin and higher body fat in rats without affecting insulin sensitivity. Journal of Nutrition 131(January):99-104. Available at [Go to].

Raloff, J. 2007. Super-size mice—Fast food hurts rodents. Science News Online (June 9). Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Counting carbs. Science News 166(July 17):40-42. Available at [Go to].

______. 2004. Coming soon—Spud lite. Science News Online (June 19). Available at [Go to].

______. 2000. The new GI tracts. Science News 157(April 8):236-238. Available at [Go to].

Sloth, I., et al. 2004. No difference in body weight decrease between a low-glycemic-index and a high-glycemic-index diet but reduced LDL cholesterol after 10-wk ad libitum intake of the low-glycemic-index diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80(Aug. 1):337-347. Available at [Go to].

          Occupy's Predicament: The Moment and the Prospects for Movement [Audio]        
Speaker(s): Professor Todd Gitlin, Professor Craig Calhoun | Erupting in September 2011, Occupy Wall Street was jump-started by a radical core who devised a form of action, occupation, that combined face-to-face with electronic elements. In an election year, the ingenuity of the original core has been overshadowed by the momentum, the stakes, and not least the money of the presidential campaign. Whether an Occupy movement takes shape and endures, focused on transformation of a political system overwhelmingly shaped by plutocrats, depends on the actions of many networks that were mobilized within and around the Occupy moment. Todd Gitlin is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and is the author of 15 books, including, Occupy Nation: the roots, the spirit, and the promise of Occupy Wall Street. Professor Calhoun is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics. He took up his post as LSE Director on 1 September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge and President of the Social Science Research Council.
          Matematica, che passione!         

Apre la mente. Serve a costruire. La si trova ovunque. Ai bambini della V B della scuola elementare Giovanni Falcone di Roma la matematica piace. E pur di apprenderla sono pronti a superare le difficoltà. Ma il merito è anche della maestra.

foto di winjohn da stockxpert.com

          Fructe si legume proaspete VS congelate. Proaspat nu inseamna intotdeauna mai bun!        
Fructele si legumele se numara printre cele mai sanatoase alimente pe care le poti manca. Fiecare dintre ele are un continut generos de vitamine, minerale si antioxidanti, elemente cheie pentru o buna functionare a organismului. Stim cu totii ca este recomandat sa mancam cat mai multe fructe si legume proaspete, insa produsele proaspete nu sunt […]
          â€˜Nabhi’ marble wash-stands by Enzo Berti for Kreoo (IT)        

Kreoo is the new label of the Italian manufacturer Decormarmi, a historic Italian company specialised in marble and stone processing. With Nabhi, designed by Enzo Berti, Kreoo launched a new series of modular wash-stands, composed of a tray and a basin. The elements come in various shapes and marbles and are adaptable to different sub-structures. […]
          The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison        
The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison
author: John Emsley
name: Kristin
average rating: 3.77
book published: 2005
rating: 0
read at:
date added: 2010/04/23
shelves: to-read

          Tarjetas o invitaciones con sellos caseros        
Todos sabemos que a la hora de organizar una fiesta o evento ya sea en un local alquilado o en nuestra propia casa, necesitaremos de muchos elementos que nos ayuden a tener todo pronto para cada uno de los invitados....
          Peces con cds para colgar        
Perfectamente sabemos que es muy importante reciclar o re utilizar muchos de los elementos que la mayoría de las veces simplemente tiramos a la basura para tratar de no seguir contaminando nuestro medio ambiente, y por eso en el día...
          The Art Of The Summer Garden 2009        
A Photo-Journal Feature
written and photographed by
Ginger Van Hook

Features Beverly Hills Artist

Local Beverly Hills Artist Creates Art
From Her Garden
Launching a new project called

A local artist and resident of Beverly Hills turned her garden into an art form by creating a project called “Plant It Forward”. Linda Kunik, an artist and alumna from Otis College of Art and Design has initiated a project to enhance her artistic community as well as inspire local artists to do the same. “Plant It Forward” is about establishing community while reconnecting with the earth, a vision which includes artists bartering for vegetables either by working in the garden or helping in the documentation of the garden’s delights by photographing, videotaping and or journaling about the experience. Ms. Kunik believes trading services for food in these tough economic times makes sense because while cultivating the soil, a group of artists will also cultivate friendships and nourish the community. The foundation of Linda Kunik’s work is to get back to the roots of sustainable agriculture. “Plant It Forward” does exactly what it says. The seeds are planted now and the fruits of this labor go forward to feed people who take from the harvest the inspiration to plant their own gardens.

“…My vision is for everyone to have their own garden, large or small and if that is not possible, to raise enough awareness for the people to shop locally and support their local Farmer’s Markets…” Ms. Kunik states as she points to the five large gardens she created in the back yard of her home, replacing flowerbeds and lawns in order to plant vegetables, herbs and fruit trees. Kunik wanted to give back to her community, raise awareness of the need for personal gardens and utilize the artistic medium to make her statement. “My work has always referenced the land. From my early days as a watercolorist painting landscapes to later works making paintings of deforestation or global warming; the beauty and fragility of the earth has been a recurring theme. Combining my agricultural practice with my art-making seems to be an natural evolution.”

The prospect of jumping into an artistic adventure to produce homegrown fruits and vegetables with a group of fellow artists was contagious. Thus the enthusiasm carried this labor of love into the summer as Ms. Kunik worked with a group of artists to bring in soil, create raised beds and began to fill them with the seeds of tomatoes, carrots, spinach, lettuce, corn, and a variety of herbs, citrus fruits and assorted vegetables. Some of the artists participating in Plant It Forward include Juna Amano (Painting & Sculpture), Marissa Magdalena (Installation, Performance and Drawing), Ofunne Obiamawe (Photographer), Suzanne Oshinsky (Videographer), Michiko Smith (Painting), Whitney Stolich (Photographer) and Ginger Van Hook (Photographer) as well as the new artists joining every week.

It is the zenith of summer now and already some of the tomatoes have ripened looking fat, juicy and red. In recent weeks, there have already been harvests of endive lettuce, carrots and radishes. The important element in the formation of this garden is the artistic component of Ms. Kunik’s vision. The raised beds and gardens are shaped into asymmetrical forms with a walking path between them. Large Sunflowers adorn the corners of each of the vegetable beds and the aromas of fresh tomatoes and rosemary mixes with the fragrances of roses and lavender permeating the air in her back yard.

Linda Kunik has written a blog about her work and continues to support the arts by highlighting the artistry of organic gardening in photography and painting. She also founded a community artist forum called the O Salon. The O Salon is where artists network and take part in conceptual critique as well as share information about each other’s works. Ms. Kunik is involved in a number of professional organizations including the Los Angeles Art Association, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Docent Council and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Linda Kunik photographed beside her painting
Exhibition at Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, California, 2008
(Photo by Ginger Van Hook)

Plant It Forward-the starving artist project

Additional artists websites and blogs:

  • Juna Amano (Painting & Sculpture) http://junaamano.blogspot.com

  • Marissa Magdalena (Installation, Performance and Drawing) www.marissamagdalena.com

  • Ofunne Obiamawe (Photographer) www.RepublicofPeace.com

  • Suzanne Oshinsky (Videographer) http://isoareyesore.blogspot.com/.

  • Michiko Smith (Painting)

  • Whitney Stolich (Photographer) www.whitneystolich.com

  • Ginger Van Hook (Photographer) www.gingervanhook.com
  • http://gingersartjournal.blogspot.com

  • Luke Van Hook (Painting) www.lukevanhook.com

"Plant It Forward" : The week of June 07, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : The week of July 01, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : The week of July 08, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : The week of July 15, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : The week of July 22, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : The week of July 29, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : The week of August 5, 2009

Artist, Linda Kunik planted a garden to share with fellow artists.

"Plant It Forward" : The day of August 08, 2009


"Plant It Forward" : The Week of August 12, 2009

"Plant It Forward" : Week of August 19, 2009

          The Art of Lovin' Trees --- Featuring Joel Tauber        

The Art of Lovin’ Trees-- 
Featuring Artist Joel Tauber
Story dedicated to Joel and Alison
in celebration of their joyous engagement on November 9th,

Written and Researched by Enilde Van Hook
Story Consult and Editing by Luke Van Hook
Painting, www.lukevanhook.com
Photography, www.gingervanhook.com
Writing, www.enildeingelsvanhook.com

 America is having a love affair with trees and California is second to none in leading its appreciation of trees. Digging deep into the roots of this story, I have followed and researched the tree culture specifically in Los Angeles where our love of trees has spawned a unique pop tree culture relating to art. Our popular tree culture today includes but is not limited to tree sculptures, tree paintings, tree photographs, tree videos, tree poetry, tree songs, tree jewelry, tree movies and even tree love affairs. 

Tree Earing created by Joel Tauber for his Sick-Amour Tree in Pasadena, California.
Additional Tree Jewelry created by Joel Tauber to adorn the Sick-Amour Tree includes leaf jewelry, as well as the male earing and the female earing that hang from the tree below.  
Photos of tree jewelry courtesy of  Susanne Vielmetter Gallery 5795 West Washington Blvd., Culver City, California 90232 www.vielmetter.com   infor@vielmetter.com (323-933-2117)

Sick-Amour Tree in the parkinglot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl, protected by barriers installed by Joel Tauber in his quest to save his beloved tree. Tree wearing the earings looks hot!  Photo courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Gallery.
Leaf sculpture by Joel Tauber
Female tree earing by Joel Tauber.
Male tree earing created by Joel Tauber, photo courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Gallery, 2008

For the record, our love of trees goes way back to the dawn of time when we were swinging in the trees, however, our love has grown and matured since then. The Greek and Roman heritage of literature and art bestows us with intoxicating stories of their Gods having entanglements with humans. Some of their deities were known as protectors of trees and nature such as Dionysus the Greek god of agriculture, fertility, wine and merriment. He was later renamed Bacchus by the Romans and reported to be the Tree God. Back in the day when artists carved trees into stone and marble relief sculptures to worship in the temples of their mythological gods, people celebrated the sacredness of trees, grapevines and sometimes the unions of gods and mortals. There was Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees who married Vertumnus, the god of fruits and gardens. Digging deep enough, one is sure to find stories of deities mating with trees and spawning children of the harvest for instance.

In modern literary circles there are a number of great imaginative family favorites written about trees, like “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Then there’s the infamous story of how Robinson Crusoe lived in a tree-house, and of utmost importance to our American history of trees, we propagate the very memorable legend of ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

In our contemporary times we have a legend in the making too. I have been fortunate to witness the emergence of a new ‘Johnny Appleseed’ and interestingly enough, the story involves a recent romantic love affair between one special tree and a mortal that is well worth pursuing the story. Sometime in the fall of in 2007, I met Joel Tauber. This is the artist who I believe was struck by a mythological bolt of lighting, so to speak, pertaining to one of the Greek or Roman deities’. Joel Tauber is said to have fallen head over heels in love with one particular Sycamore Tree in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. My chance meeting with this now famous mortal under the influence of an enchanted mystical spell, has led me to research the mysteries intrinsic in the charms of trees. I too have been struck with the frailty of trees, their vulnerabilities, and their enormous strengths and inspiration. This together with my own personal experiences with trees has prompted me to come out of my shell and discuss the subject in all seriousness.

My own personal background is not in trees. I am simply a tree-lover from childhood. For a little over ten years, my professional background was in radio as a disc jockey and on-air personality. I listened to music, reviewed songs and kept tabs on the pop music culture. I worked in the Los Angeles market as well as Santa Barbara, California; Eventually I moved to expand my work experience in neighboring radio markets like Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe and Gardnerville/Minden, Nevada. It was through traveling that I saw some of the most beautiful trees along the routes through Northern California and Northern Nevada!
While I drove from one radio market to another over the years, I watched the trees go by at the various speed limits along the highways of my life’s journeys. Thus you will understand when I tell you that often I see art and life, for that matter, through a series of moving images in my head which include a music bed. 
I was eleven years old when in 1970, Joni Mitchell wrote and released a song called ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ whose lyrics surpassed the test of time and is currently in airplay by a glut of new groups. The lyrics began with “…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em.” One of the barometers I use to gage the influence of any particular song, music or artwork that I come into contact with is if it will surpass the test of time, among other important criteria. This song became one of my favorite songs of all time. The lyrics made so much sense to me.
When I met Joel Tauber, I was introduced to the enormous scope of his Sick-Amour Tree-Baby Project. It was then that I suddenly started hearing Joni Mitchell’s song in my mind again, only this time, as I got in my car, Counting Crows was performing the song. When I started doing more research on the song that I could not get out of my head, I was struck by how many artists had re-recorded the song and barely changed anything about the words. There is Amy Grant, who upgraded the dollar amount from $1.50 to $25 when singing about how much the museums charged people to enter. Additionally there is Green Day, Sarah McLachlan, Charlie Barker, Bob Dylan, Moya Brennan, Ireen Sheer, Donnie Eidt and a host of so many others that have recorded ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ it was simply overwhelming!
I think the importance of the lyrics to this one particular song is that it reveals the fact that people love trees and hate parking lots. The message is that if it weren’t for our trees, we could be living in a frying pan! The impact of this single song is that it reveals what is really going on in people’s minds. There is a reason why so many artists are flocking to re-record the lyrics in their own way.

Not only are trees involved in the music arena, trees as subjects, are very involved in politics as well. Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin at the time, took a leading role in developing the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd 1970 as a way to commemorate our environmental concerns. Arbor Day is presently celebrated as well with the first ceremonial tree planting in Washington D.C. on April 27th in 2001, all evidence that goes to prove the people of our planet do care about what happens to our trees.

Trees stand as a testiment and memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King is memorialized with trees along Expositon Blvd. across from the Los Angeles Coliseum and down the street from the University of Southern California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

Online sources on the subject of trees are rich in number. For instance, eighteen years ago, here in Los Angeles, a multi racial group of volunteers planted 400 Canary Island Pine trees along seven miles of road on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. Today, this living homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to thrive and keep the dream alive for his followers. The founder and President of www.treepeople.org is Mr. Andy Lipkis and he keeps tabs on the trees to make sure all 400 trees stay healthy.

Mayor Antonio Villarigosa is the person to thank for the ‘Million Trees Initiative’ he signed into effect in May of 2006 and Los Angeles residents can learn how they too can receive up to 7 free trees to plant on their property. Visit the website at www.milliontreesla.org to learn the details.   Also in Portland, Oregon there is www.friendsoftrees.org and in Bellingham Washington you will find www.geocities.com. There is also the International Society of Arboriculture called ISA and can be accessed by visiting www.isa-arbor.com. You will also find a great deal of valuable advise on the growth and care of trees at www.treesaregood.com and check out Tree Care Industry Association TCIA as well.

Mark Dion created an art piece titled "Library for the Birds of Antwerp" which is also a good example of how art is vitally connected with our tree culture and how it connects Mark Dion to his PBS special where he removed a dead tree from the forest and recreated its living components in a city scape in Washington.  From the "20th Century Artbook Phaidon Press 1996", the caption reads: "Using props from the natural and man-made world, Dion has constructed an installation that explores contemporary attitudes to science and the environment. He has created a fictional and hybridized situation in which the trappings associated with knowledge, learning and classification--such as books and photographs--are juxtaposed with natural elements including birds and wood.   The representation of nature is a fundamental subject in Dion's art, and here he takes on the role of sociologist/anthropologist and blurring the boundaries between authentic and fake, representation and parody. By adopting the persona of a scientist and by satirizing man's obsession with categorization, Dion questions the values of the Western world.  His subject matter is heavily influence by popular culture.  In Dion's world we might witness Mickey Mouse as an explorer, or Clark Kent interviewing Dr. Frankenstein." (Photo and contents are used in this story for purposes of artistic review.)

In the art world, an artist named Mark Dion was featured in a documentary film report that aired in 2007. To view the video one may visit on the Internet by going to www.pbs.org and find Mark Dion as he took the subject of trees and made an art piece that explored what would happen if one were to take a tree after its death, take it out of its familial context of natural forest, and re-create the ecosystem in an environment that would otherwise be a hostile urban setting, needless to say, a cityscape. Just outside of Seattle Washington, he states, a Hemlock fell on February 8th, 1996…and so begins an elaborate experiment that pits optimism against reality." The PBS special is very detailed and you will enjoy the depth of research and work that Mark Dion went to to take a tree out of the forest and recreate the setting in the city.  The difference between the artwork presented by Mark Dion and  the artwork presented by Joel Tauber is in the nature of the life of the tree. Mark Dion works with a dead tree and its living components, and Joel Tauber creates life out of a tree seed and duplicates it all over his community.

Thus I’ve discovered for myself that when I researched the subject of trees, I discovered Joel Tauber wasn’t alone! However, instead of creating an experiment in ecology, Joel Tauber goes further than Mark Dion does with this concept of eco-systems and their frailties. Joel Tauber begins a journey that could eventually repair the eco-systems that man has destroyed. This is where Joel Tauber takes the lead in the art world and becomes not only the realist but the optimistic hope for trees in desecrated forests all over the country.
Joel Tauber’s work as a living project of art in 2008 has resonance and his story is well worth telling again and again. He is certainly not the first, nor the last to get involved in the love of trees, but he is the first in contemporary times to have been associated with a mythological and mystical occurrence of reproducing tree babies out of just hugging one lonely tree.

The last time I saw a man hugging a tree, he was hugging the tree for all the wrong reasons. At the MOCA, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art, some years back I was viewing an exhibition that was in town by the Utah born artist now working in Los Angeles, Paul McCarthy. While this work of art depicted a very raw and unsettling sculpture of ‘tree-lovin’ it had nothing whatsoever to do with the love of any tree. The work displayed a timely political statement about our government rather than the love for trees, but bear in mind that the thought involved images from man’s intimate involvement with trees both in the biblical sense and in the sense of man’s raping of the planet. Joel Tauber’s work counteracts the devastation of many years of neglect for our trees with a very basic recipe for the renewal of our commitment to our green-leafed friends. Now, when I see the image of Joel Tauber hugging his Sycamore Tree in Pasadena, I get a whole new perspective for the love for our planet, our trees and our environment as a whole.

"The Garden" by Paul McCarthy from The 20th Century Art Book, 
Phaidon Press Limited, page 280. Photo is used for purposes of artistic review.
The caption in the book reads as follows: " 'The Garden'  is a full-scale tableau of an outdoor, woodland scene, complete with leafy trees, shrubs and rocks.  This tranquil picture of nature is rudely interrupted by the presence of a middle-aged, balding man with his trousers round his ankles, engaged in a wholly unnatural act. From one side of the installation, his actions are not immediately apparent, being partially hidden by the tree trunks and foliage, but the sound of mechanical activity draws the viewer in to discover the shocking sight of a man copulating with a tree.  This robotic figure, with its endlessly repetitive movements, is both comical and crude, and is intended by McCarthy to question notions of acceptable public behavior and sexual morality.  McCarthy is a lecturer at UCLA as well as an artist. His sculptural installations evolved out of his earlier performance work which focused on his own body engaged in extreme and disturbing acts."

To further explain this romantic entanglement between a tree and a mortal, I cite some important historical facts. Back in 2005, Joel Tauber was in the parking lot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl, when he spotted a particularly lonely and neglected Sycamore Tree. There are hundreds of thousands of trees in Pasadena, and a great number of them thrive very well on the grounds of the Rose Bowl, should you ever drive through this luscious community of tree and rose-lovers, you will see. But Joel Tauber focused his attention on one specific lonely tree. He started to note more and more how cars would hit the bark of the tree and scrape it, injuring the tree repeatedly. Joel Tauber became a witness to this tree’s life. Taking compassion and friendship upon this particular tree, Tauber began to film the area of the parking lot where the tree was growing. He got the idea to put up solid barriers to protect it from cars and also carried water in large plastic bags to irrigate the tree. Soon, Tauber found himself as a one-man band, orchestrating a symphony of activities leading to editing mass quantities of tree footage, fighting City Hall, and embarking on a quest to save this tree from infertility using tried and true guerilla tactics that would make tree-huggers stand and salute. To personally view the Sick-Amour project, along with the giant scale tree sculpture installation exhibited at Susanne Vielmetter Gallery in 2007, you may visit www.vielmetter.com.

               Recently, I had the privilege and opportunity to discuss Joel Tauber’s work with Susanne Vielmetter and she was delighted to tell me what a wonderful sense of humor that Tauber exhibits in all of his works of art. Susanne Vielmetter reviewed the Underwater project with me as well as the Flying Project which Tauber presented.
She explained how deep down, she feels Tauber is on a quest for meaning in his work and that he has a keen sense of humor that unifies and makes his ideas successful. She states that he uses the comical and the tragic in the Tree-Baby project to address the issues of urban living in our time and very subtly pokes fun at the problems innate in urban planning. The real irony of a small Sycamore tree dying of thirst in a parking lot of a beautiful park in a paradise-like valley, alongside the 110 Pasadena Freeway where 80% of the territory is plastered with concrete and the water below runs along asphalt channels of the Los Angeles River is not lost on Tauber, she explained. To contrast, Susanne Vielmetter cited that parks in Europe allow for weeds to grow naturally on landscapes that are not covered with concrete. Joel Tauber’s projects were initially presented at the Susanne Vielmetter Gallery located at 5795 Washington Blvd., in Culver City, California. The response Susanne Vielmetter’s Gallery received was incredibly exciting, even though at first, some folks thought Joel Tauber was a nut; he went on to prove just how serious he really is about changing the landscape of our environment, one tree at a time.

Joel Tauber has a large body of video artwork, photographs and developing tree babies, (the children of a mortal and a Charmed Sycamore Tree) and one may also visit www.joeltauber.com.
As I learned more and more about Joel Tauber’s project, I realized how blessed we all are that tree-lovin’ is not a singular act of love or even a fleeting love of art. I realized how connected we all are to our environment and how the idea of having a special friend ‘the tree’, any tree in any state, in any country for that matter is a beautiful connection to have. The connection that Joel Tauber has to his Sycamore Tree is in synch with the love that the country is experiencing during our new millennium. We have all become acutely aware of the fragility of life; we realize now more than ever that we must respect our dependence on our environment and value our trees.

The first thing that struck me about Joel Tauber was that we had the love of trees in common. He seemed a bit shy, unassuming and humble yet I was later to learn the enormous power he wielded for this one frail and neglected tree in the parking lot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California. I was truly inspired by the level of involvement and commitment he had demonstrated for his own beloved Sycamore Tree which he had turned into a full-blown art-project including video, photography and sculptured jewelry. (He did it all!) He named this work the Sick-Amour Project mainly because he said he felt this tree was ill from the lack of love and the inability to have tree babies to fulfill its legacy. I had never personally met someone with such an extreme love and dedication to one particular tree. In our local newscasts, I had heard stories of people who became very emotional when a land developer was about to cut down a tree they considered a relic of their community; in which case people got very nasty about the issue and would chain themselves to the trees or surround the location with demonstrators that would shut down the jobsite. That’s when the news crews would come in with their cameras and boom mikes and the news helicopters would hover in circles above the trees trying to capture the ‘event’ that was creating all the uproar. A very recent example of this type of community behavior is written about on the front pages of the Los Angeles Times where Eric Bailey, a Times Staff Writer, wrote an extensive story about the tree-issues pertaining to Scotia, California where activists are protesting the logging of the Great California REDWOODS! Read the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, August 24th, 2008 or visit www.latimes.com online to learn how the tree-sitters are doing today.

But Joel Tauber is a different type of activist. He doesn’t consider himself an activist at all. He merely states, humbly, just for the record, that he loves this one particular Sycamore Tree and it is an outrage to him to see how his new best friend is being suffocated under a six-inch blanket of black tar and asphalt. Better yet, Joel Tauber does something about it. Not with a crew of forty thousand demonstrators, not even with a crew of forty residents. He does this on his own, quietly challenging the laws of the city of Pasadena and humbly takes responsibility for the care and nurturing of his new best friend. I was touched. At once I began to marvel at his potent idea.

The art of loving our trees has grown roots in the higher levels of the art world as well. For instance, if one were to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum both at the Getty Villa which recently re-opened in Malibu and at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, you will find the love of trees has grown branches on all the hillsides surrounding both properties. There are lucky Sycamores and fortunate Pines; there are Pomegranate trees, Apple trees, Pear trees, Jacaranda trees and trees that just look good in a vista overlooking the ocean. Millions of dollars went into the development of artistic gardens which envelope the California landscape against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean on one edge and the rolling hills of Malibu on the other.

Over in the area of the Miracle Mile, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is celebrating an enormous renovation of its facilities and you guessed it, there are aisles and isles of gigantic palm trees lining the walkways to the entrance of the museum in concert with a unique and flamboyant architecture that has drawn the attention of the art-world with the generosity of Eli and Edythe Broad of the Broad Foundation. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is the new wing at the LACMA and is considered the largest space in the country devoted exclusively to contemporary art. With a ‘living art display’ dedicated to the iconic palm trees, not native to California, Robert Irwin has developed a plein-air walkway through ‘Palm Gardens’ as one makes their way to the entrances of the museum.

Lush green trees thrive all over Pasadena, California, home of the Rose Bowl where Joel Tauber fell in love with a Sycamore Tree.  Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2008

 The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California  is also home to some of the most exquisite antiquities in its museum history which includes sculptures amid a forest like atmosphere. Currently at the Norton Simon Museum, among its many exhibitions, one may enjoy the artwork of Ruth Weisberg, Dean of the Gayle Garner Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. Opening on October 17, 2008 the Weisberg exhibition at the Norton Simon runs through March 2, 2009. Additionally a lecture by the artist is planned where Weisberg discusses: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image on Sunday November 16, 2008.  The Norton Simon Museum of Art is located at 411 West Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California. Ruth Weisberg was instrumental in selecting the work of Joel Tauber to be permanently planted on the Main University Campus of USC on January 24, 2008 where a tree planting ceremony was held and attended by numerous members of USC faculty, staff, students and guests. The location of the new tree-baby, child of the Sick-Amour Project, currently exists on the Exposition side of the campus between Gate one and the Fischer Gallery, across the street from the Museum of Natural History. 

In Pasadena, where lovers of trees line every street of the city as the landscapes are lush with all types of trees and where these wonderful healthy trees keep cool the throngs of tourists who visit the Rose Bowl every year, is also home to the Norton Simon Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Both locations are areas where tree-lovin’ may be experienced alongside some of California’s best-known artworks. Visit the NORTON SIMON MUSEUM at www.nortonsimon.org located at 411 West Colorado, Pasadena, California 91105 or visit the PASADENA MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA ART at www.pmcaonline.com at 490 East Union Street, Pasadena, California.

In San Marino, California, the art of trees, gardens and succulents has found a worthy haven at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens spanning an area of 120 acres dedicated to the fine arts founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1928 as the very first public art gallery in Southern California. Along with English portraits and French eighteenth-century furniture, one will delight in tours of the unique garden paradise established for the pure love of the botanical arts.

On the hillside along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles, one may also enjoy walking along the elegant landscapes of the Skirball Cultural Center and Museum grounds and witness the serenity of the trees as Weeping Willows slope their leaves to the ground, and gentle breezes sway the branches of Sycamores, Oaks and Birch trees. Visit the Skirball Museum online at www.skirball.org, or enjoy a personal walk along the grounds and explore the tributes to culture at 2701 North Sepulveda, Los Angeles 90049.

Trees at the Skirball Museum and Cultural Center thrive and enjoy the mild California climate.

In San Diego, one enjoys walking through a vast museum complex housing 15 unique museums in Balboa Park, not to mention to the collection of rare cactus and enormous Eucalyptus trees (just to name one tree type out of numerous ones) which shade the paths leading from one museum to another.

Each of the locations I have mentioned or described here is where I personally walked through, witnessed, and or photographed sophisticated artistic tree landscapes of the California terrain.

The Roots of my personal anxieties: Why I care.

The impact of my meeting Joel Tauber coincided with an important event that took place for me way before I knew about his Sick-Amour Tree project and was what eventually led me to throw myself into this frenzied study of trees over this summer. Thus I do not necessarily consider myself struck by any of the Greek or Roman gods. I believe my influence came with a special awareness of the frailty of trees with this personal story:

A little over one year ago, on June 30th, 2007 I was walking our dog Sasha, around the block for one of our frequent walks. I rounded the corner to the next block when I was taken aback as I witnessed a set of ‘city’ crewmembers slaughtering what appeared to be a California Oak tree. I had grown quite fond of that particular Oak on my many walks while I was writing my first novel. As a matter of fact, I had used that model of tree to describe a forest of these trees in a chapter in my first fiction novel. I especially love the sculptured texture of the Mighty gnarly Oaks. This tree had been the one to rekindle my relationship with the trees of my imagination. My stomach got queasy when I saw how it was being destroyed. I would have thrown-up, but I got a hold of my emotions and took Sasha home. Not only did I return to the scene of the slaughter, but I brought my camera to document the death and dismemberment of this great oak; I was so distraught that I returned again to the site, without my camera this time, and begged the men to stop for a moment while I sought out the seeds for this tree. To my surprise, the men stopped and helped me search for the seeds.

When I got home, I had no idea what to do with the seeds. I called a couple of nurseries until a gentleman at a nursery in Marina del Rey explained to me that I had to wait until the pods dried up and slit to get at the seeds and plant them. So, I waited until the pods were black and wrinkled. I split them according to the directions I had gotten from this kind anonymous arborist. (He suggested a process much like that which squirrels have for cracking the pods.) I photographed the seeds and compared them with the larger seed of an apricot fruit tree and the seed of a maple tree.

Once properly documented, I planted them in a small brown pot. Two weeks later, the first seed came up. A few days later another seed appeared to take root. On the one-year anniversary of the re-birth day of this Great Knurly Oak tree, July 20th, 2008, I documented how large the great twin oaks had become. The highest little bitty branch was about fourteen inches tall. I estimated this tree had grown a little over an inch every month. A compassionate act of kindness yielded a new life on the impulse of grief. The impulse of grief affected not only me; there is an entire world of tree-lovers mourning the losses of their favorite tree friends in surrounding communities.

What about the subconscious feelings innate in developing a relationship with a tree? For instance, what draws people to want to save a particular tree? 

I can really only speak to my own experience in that my relationship with trees started when I was a child.

          Luke Van Hook Paintings Now at Brand Library Galleries "Circle in the Square" Yesung Kim, Barbara Kolo, Susan Sironi, Cheryl Walker thru Sept 5th 2008        
The Entrance to the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale, California hosts a prominent postcard of the show "Circle in the Square" now exhibiting through September 5th, 2008


Photo above: 
Cathy Billings, Art Librarian and Gallery Manager of the 
Brand Library Art Galleries and Co-Curator of 
"Circle in the Square" selected Luke Van Hook 
as one of the artists to show his circle paintings 
which explore Giotto's fabled "perfect circle.
Photo below: 
Alyssa Resnick, Senior Library Supervisor, Gallery Director 
and Co-curator pictured with Luke Van Hook.
Both ladies made studio visits all over Los Angeles and surrounding communities in search of the "perfect circle" of artists to represent the illusive qualities of the circle.
It takes over a year to prepare for a large show at the Brand Library Art Galleries and no one will have a better story to tell you about the waiting process than Galleries Manager and Curator, Cathy Billings or Alyssa Resnick, Senior Library Supervisor and Gallery Director. These ladies traveled to Inglewood, California for a studio visit to see Luke Van Hook's circle paintings some time in the early summer of 2007. They told Luke that they were preparing to curate a show of artists working on the motif of the 'circle'.  They had already reviewed a number of artists and found making the final decision difficult, first because there were a number of artists who worked with this subject and secondly, the talent was very competitive. The subject of the circle and how each artist approaches this topic is worth dedicated study in and of itself.  These lovely ladies, Cathy and Alyssa, with a keen eye for artistic talent, selected a total of five talented artists to show together this summer.   
Here you will find photos of how each artist expressed their obsession with the circular form.  I'll begin my blog entry with a brief history of what I believe may have led Luke Van Hook to painting the circle and continue with the photos and biographical information of the additional four artists each selected for working with the motif of circles, independently of each other, with their own unique and individual interpretations of the circle: Yesung Kim, Barbara Kolo, Susan Sironi, and Cheryl Walker.
Luke Van Hook began his present study of the circle in 2005. He first discovered the legend of Giotto's "Perfect Circle" in a class about ancient history; but the idea didn't sink in at first. He needed time to reason with his quest. While Luke approached the specific task of painting the circle with thin paintbrushes and applying layer upon layer of color to a raw naked canvas, I set about trying to understand what the hell prompted my husband to go circle crazy in the first place.  I started researching what the circle meant and I found a lot of literature in the realm of magic, rituals, mathematics, secret societies and romance. But my first impression was that the circle was a way to get back to the beginning of things.  Then I delved deeper.  Was Luke trying to say that he was going in circles?  Were we at this artistic point in our lives as a result of a past life?  Was our circular existence referencing our cycle of birth, death and rebirth?  Or was the answer more basic than that, like "the earth is round and it's an orbital thing.' There were other issues on the table I was urged to deal with also.  Were these circle paintings partly influenced by the school we had attended?  Once we leave school we are expected to make works of art that have fresh meaning and to blow out the cobwebs of old thinking.  While at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, Luke Van Hook studied all the required areas to excel in his chosen profession as a fine arts painter including the figure, landscapes and abstracts. But the abstract visual image is what finally drew Luke back in.  Could it be the understated obvious fact that the big 'O' (which formed a circle on every memo, syllabus and brochure in the name of Otis College) was influencing him subconsciously?  
Luke's earlier work involved intricately small hatch marks that evolved into large abstract images full of vibrant colors.  This work was very reminiscent of Jasper Johns.  So where did this circle idea really emanate from?  Did his hatch marks get married or what?  Observers of Luke Van Hook's work have stated that it raises the question, 'Is it a painting or a drawing?  Is it text or writing?'  Luke will often begin a row of circles that reads from left to right just as western literature is expressed.  But sometimes he changes his mind, and the direction of his technique, and he starts to paint his rows from right to left. At other times, he completes a horizontal column of circles which refers more to ancient Asian forms of writing going from the top, down.
During his graduating year at Otis College in 2004, Luke went on a mission to explore machine technology as it pertained to replacing humans.  He painted large canvases with a number of faces and shapes that represented cyborgs expressing the fear, uncertainty and ambivalence that humans have toward our technological future.  But once out of school, a full year later, in 2005 Luke seem to have turned a corner.  He seemed to have replaced his fear of technology with a competitive defiance that defied all reason.  Luke started working with his father-in-law, in his machine shop, where he started to observe how everything around him involved the circle in one way or another.  He watched the machines (Fadal CNC's- numerical control production machines) in action. The tool would spin in circles, plunging in and out of aluminum, stainless steel and plastic materials. The space left behind was almost always a perfect circle.  Perhaps, this was Luke's starting point. It was the first time he'd really seen a machine make simple circles and Luke probably said something to himself like 'I can do this! Just watch me!' then promptly, decided to take on his destiny. To compete with a machine, may have been the early impulse that drew Luke to paint the circle, but the legend of Giotto's 'perfect circle' was what has kept Luke going full steam ahead into production of abstract works of art.  The initial pieces he created were prototypes. These were the experiments he and his father-in-law Luis Ingels, worked on before moving into the hand made pieces. As his first experiment, Luke inserted a paint brush into the collet of the machine and programmed the coordinates to match the canvas. He overshot his calculations and the brush came crashing down upon the canvas; the collet smashed the brush right through the canvas and even broke the frame. Perhaps, Luke might have thought as he and my father, Luis, looked at each other, 'it was time to go back to the drawing board'. Undaunted by initial failure, Luke did complete an entire series of machine made circles before he went on to the main event, the competition of drawing the circles, one by one, by hand.  
Each piece of artwork created since his first attempts, is meticulously reinvented into creative visual landscapes layering circles upon circles of color schemes in gradations of complementary hues.  The colors reveal very subtle changes.  The circles pull the eye in.  The images seem to have a life of their own, a vibrant quality of pushing the viewer to look for patterns while pulling the eyes into fishers, crevices, or 'wormholes' as one collector observed. I have witnessed the intimate evolution of Luke's circles only because I have the honor and privilege of being Luke's wife.  The fact that I am discussing my husband's art work is of significance only in the sense that it is somewhat rare, although not unheard of, for the artist's loved one to interject a provocative discussion of the artwork publicly in a blog; however, this is a sign of the times we live in today and I feel blessed as a writer to have this open forum to share with you the joys and struggles inherent in Luke's artistic process.
The way I see it, Luke has taken on  the impossible task of creating the perfect circle, where no perfect circle has ever existed before, despite Giotto's legend.  All mathematical equations to date reveal that there is no perfect circle. It is a myth. So why Luke has persisted in this impossible feat only reminds me of the story of Don Quixote. Here is where I see Luke chasing his windmills. This is where in my imagination, I view the circles on the canvas as Luke's quest for the impossible dream and his circles are his windmills.  His paintbrush is his sword.  Thus Luke 
Van Hook's paintings, for me, exhibit all the romantic qualities innate in a love story.  Seeking to please his beloved Lucia, these references emerging from raw canvas could be read practically like text.  Some art collectors saw the circles as Braille text or some secret code or language.  The secret, I think, lies in Luke's love of sports!  Sometimes I interpret this circle code to reflect images of the sports activities I see Luke enjoy daily;  I make visual connections to the circles on the wheels of his bicycles which hang in his studio or his skate boards that decorate the rafters of the painting bays or even the wheels that drive his car which sits resting on almost perfect circles on the driveway.
For a while, I was convinced that Luke's enthusiasm for cycling was directly influencing the subjects of his paintings because one day, I was staring at one of his earlier images, (which is hung lovingly on the wall of the dining room right over the microwave oven); I saw it hanging next to a photograph of Luke participating in the 'Death Race 1999', a bicycle ride that cycle enthusiasts pursue along the most dangerous mountainous roads known as the California Alps in Northern California at the edge of the Northern Nevada border where Markleeville meets the Carson Valley.   The image Luke had painted in 1998, while recovering, ironically, from a broken ankle suffered in a bicycle race in Minden; was the image of three bicycles in a dead heat on the gray pavement with the yellow dividing line providing a ground for what appears as three large helmets (representative of the riders) in red, green and yellow.  The eventual emergence of Luke's hatch marks from work created in 2000, can be seen on the helmets and if you are really looking for this, (with your microscope) you may even find, the very beginnings of the influences which have eventually led to this mad case of circle paintings!  The circle imagery you might be searching for could have started at the base of the bicycle's anatomy with the wheels spinning along the highway to Kingsbury Grade, somewhere near Genoa, along the bottom of the hill leading to Lake Tahoe.  I comfort myself as painter's wife, that even Picasso had his periods, as did Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin and so long as Luke Van Hook doesn't try to cut off his ear we are doing just fine with these circles.

But don't take my word for it. Luke Van Hook's circle paintings are something you should see for yourself.  The subtlety of the work is difficult to capture on film, although I tried my best to create a video after struggling with photographing the stills for three years.  But even the video work fails to reveal the whole story.  You've got to stand in front of one of these pieces to involve yourself in the novella of Luke's life.  Although I can decode a small portion of what I see through his work, the rest of the circles on the canvas are still a vague mystery to me as well.  Every relationship has its secrets.  Thus Luke and I, as artists, are no different.  Even when we know each other, there are elements of surprise and adventure that we have yet to tell each other.  The mystery in his canvases is what really thrills me to see Luke's work on display under gallery lighting! (Sales don't hurt my enthusiasm either!)

When I think of Luke Van Hook's circle paintings, today, in 2008, I often think of Luke riding a skateboard doing 'ollies' and then trying for a loop-de-loop in mid-air.  This is because in January of 2008, Luke begged for a skateboard for his birthday and little did I know what would happen when I wrapped it up for him!  He has returned to the love of his youth.  Luke Van Hook has come full circle to his beginnings to land on his home base. The skateboard has also flown in mid-air, in harmony with gravity, and both land as one in a perfect execution of a move I would never dare try to do myself.  I see each circle on the canvas as Luke's attempt to catapult his work into the mainstream of the art-world with each rotation of the paintbrush on the surface of the canvas.  This is where I see Luke Van Hook in mid catapult, surfing on the air, light in transition, from youth to inspired maturity; from student to master, with paintbrush in hand landing and continuing to roll on four wheels with a great big shit-eating grin on his face. ('four' being the lucky number of his numerology charts). I see the ordered struggle, the innate joy in the success of one loop-de-loop after another. And once in a while, I also see the crash landing and the bloody injuries.  What is more important is that Luke gets up and does it again each and every time.  Luke has to begin again with each new circle, every circle becoming a part of a larger layer of community, thus his canvases vibrate with activity, mystery, romance and adventure.  I find my own meanings in each image  as it develops day by day and I am privileged to stand beside him, admire and witness the struggle of our Don Quixote in the new millennium, first hand.
There is still time to see these painting up close and personal. The Brand Library Art Galleries is part of the Glendale Public Library, located at 1601 West Mountain Street in the City of Glendale, 91201  Telephone:  818-548-2051/ fax 818-548-2713 ;  visit the Brand Library Art Galleries online at   www.brandlibrary.org    to  check for Library hours.
Cookie Gallegos, Ana Porras and Martha Ingels attend the opening of "Circle in the Square" to support Luke Van Hook. Brand Art Library Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008 Photo by Ginger Van Hook
(From left to right) Margo Payne, Lynn Nantana-Green and Angela Williams attend the exhibition "Circle in the Square" in support of Luke Van Hook.
Lynn Lantana-Green came to support Artist, Luke Van Hook at the opening reception of "Circle in the Square" an art exhibition held at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008.  Photos by Ginger Van Hook
Kevin Powell came to support Luke Van Hook and enjoy the paintings at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California, August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

Artist Luke Van Hook brought home-made pies to his reception of the exhibition "Circle in the Square". In addition to painting, Luke Van Hook has a reputation for making awesome pies from scratch. Photographed milling around the Double Fudge Pican Pie and the Sweet Berry Pie were the grandchildren of Hector Sticker. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook
(From left to right) Claudio Sticker, Hector Sticker, Peter Bolten, Martha Ingels, Luke Van Hook and Luis Ingels attend the reception of  "Circle in the Square". Luke Van Hook and Luis Ingels worked together to create circles on canvas with the use of robotic CNC machines. After creating a little over a dozen machine-made paintings, Luke went on to compete with the machine and do the circles on his own by hand, one by one. Each circle is represented as being one breath and Luke Van Hook states that these are the marks he is leaving behind which define his existence during this lifetime as he continues to pursue the legend of "Giotto's Perfect Circle". Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

From left to right, Ohannes Berberian, his daughter Melanie, Luke Van Hook and Rouzanna Berberian attend the opening reception of "Circle in the Square" at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008.  Ohannes Berberian owns DigiTECH Camera Repair in Monrovia, California (www.digitechcamerarepair.com). Luke Van Hook and Rouzanna Berberian are both fine art painters and members of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (M.A.F.A.). Rouzanna Berberian is a teacher in the after-school arts programs supported by M.A.F.A.  which promotes the goal of enhancing the lives of those within the community through interaction with the arts and to increase the opportunities of children through art education. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

From left to right, Kathleen Zgonc, photographer Frank Zgonc and artist Luke Van Hook attend the opening reception of 'Circle in the Square' at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008. Frank Zgonc is a an executive member of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts in Monrovia, California. Frank Zgonc is the vice-president and official curator of Monrovia's yearly October Art Festival. This year the October Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday October 11th and 12th, 2008 at the Monrovia Community Center located at 119 W. Palm Avenue in Monrovia. Free and open to the public, this art event will feature work by photographer Frank Zgonc; (Scheduled from 10 am to 6pm both days).  There will also be an Opening Night Celebration Saturday, October 11th from 7-9:30 pm where the special Renaissance Award will be presented to a worthy individual who has made significant contributions to the arts. 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Mr. and Mrs. Luke and Ginger Van Hook attend the opening reception of 'Circle in the Square' at the Brand Libraries Art Galleries, August 2, 2008 in Glendale, California.  Luke Van Hook an artist working from Inglewood, California earned a BFA  at Otis College of ARt and Design.  For several years, Van Hook has been exploring in his work, Giotto's fabled "perfect circle".  Over time the single-minded focus on the perfection of the circle has been subsumed by the artist's interest in the aesthetic and expressive qualities of the circle. New works depict ritualistically repeated circular brushstrokes on canvas, hemp, and other materials. Van Hook states that he began " as a challenge to myself to see if a perfect circle was possible; these circles have now morphed into a challenge to myself to see if a perfect circle is  possible. These circles have now morphed into a study in patience. The sense of time and the marking of time is inherent in the meticulous application of paint. The viewer can appreciate these temporal qualities but is also compelled to bring their own  interpretation to the work. Are these circles pure abstraction? Combined do they conceal deliberate shapes and forms? or are they perhaps a secret code or language? Van Hook has exhibited at TAG Gallery, Focus One Gallery, and the Bolsky Gallery in  Westchester. Luke Van Hook's painting may also be viewed on his website: www.lukevanhook.com
Photo courtesy of Peter Bolten

Kevin Powell comes to support Luke Van Hook for his opening reception. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008.  Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Jason Porras attends the opening reception to support Luke Van Hook in his endeavors to pursue Giotto's legend of the 'Perfect Circle'. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008. Photo By Ginger Van Hook.

Zoe Hengst, Ginger Van Hook and Martha Ingels attend the opening of "Circle in the Square" to support Luke Van Hook. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008. Photo courtesy of Peter Bolten.
Zoe and Jopie Hengst walk through the center of the exhibition "Circle in the Square" to support Luke Van Hook at the opening night, August 2, 2008. Paintings by Susan Sironi in the background. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.

Cookie Gallegos, Ginger Van Hook and Luke Van Hook pose for photographs in front of Luke Van Hook's painting at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008 Glendale, California. Photo courtesy of Peter Bolten.

Cookie Gallegos and Ana Porras watch the dance performance choreographed by Cheryl Walker, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008, Glendale, California.
Paintings by Yesung Kim, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008, Glendale, California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.
Paintings by Yesung Kim, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008, Glendale, California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Yesung Kim poses for a photograph in front of her paintings at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 02, 2008, Glendale, California. Yesung Kim from Upland, California, was born in Seoul, South Korea and holds MFA degrees from Chung-Ang University and Claremont Graduate University. Kim's mixed media pieces are seductively simple. Ordinary brown packing string is deftly applied to a painted canvas creating organic shapes that shimmer and reflect light. At times these shapes appear to be on the brink of an amoeba-like division as they spread and expand, dropping off the edge of one canvas and continuing on to another. Kim  cites the natural world and light and color as the underlying themes that both inspire and permeate her work.  Following solo shows at the Seoul Museum of Art and the Seoul Arts Center, Kim's work was most recently exhibited at the San Bernardino County Museum's Multi Media Mini Show. More information about Kim's work can be found on her website: www.yesungkim.com
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Painting by Susan Sironi, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008 Glendale, California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Glass curtain by Susan Sironi, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008,Glendale, California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.
Cheryl Walker designed a curtain of vinyl layers of color called 'Waterfall IV' that became the backdrop for a beautiful dance performance using the 'circle in the square' theme exhibited at the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale California, August 2, 2008. Cheryl Walker holds in her hand some of the vinyl circles that were placed upon the windows at the exhibition hall. Her vinyl circles upon the windows created an illusion of  the stained glass effects. The dance piece entertained a large audience on opening night as artists, collectors, art appreciators and family and friends celebrated the mythologies, geometries, magical and mystical qualities of the circle.   Dance Performers Liz  Curtis, and Martha Carrascosa performed a dance which included participation from members of the audience.  
Members of the audience interacted with the dancers Martha Carrascosa and Liz Curtis at the Brand Library Art Galleries participated in creating a colorful cascade of window art on August 2, 2008 in Glendale, California.
Audience watches dancers Liz Curtis and Martha Carrascosa from Glendale Community College as they perform a choreographed piece by Cheryl Walker, artist. "Circle in the Square", Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California, August 2, 2008.  Photo By Ginger Van Hook
Dancers Liz Curtis and Martha Carrascosa performing dance choreographed by artist Cheryl Walker, (within the green curtain), Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook.
Cheryl Walker engaged in performance art intersecting with window art using the artistic theme of 'Circle in the Square'. Brand Library Art Gallery, Glendale, CAlifornia August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.

Cheryl Walker smiles happily on opening night, Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California. August 2, 2008. Cheryl Walker, a Los Angeles artist, earned her BA in art in her home state of Minnesota, and her MFA from California State University, Long Beach. In this exhibition Walker created two large site-specific installations of vinyl, oil pastel and natural and artificial light.  Walker explains that the driving force behind her work is "human interaction and improvisation in response to a natural phenomenon or situation." Trained as painter, Walker's installations have some of the qualities of painting; when viewed head-on the suspended layers of vinyl can appear to be two-dimensional because of their transparency and the cut shapes and forms applied to the vinyl are reminiscent of brushstrokes--but removed from the wall these works are thrust into what she calls an "interactive field of play." The fluidity of the material she works with and her interest in collaboration between the artist and the viewer have inspired Walker to create works that can be transformed into performance pieces by dance, music and in-situ art-making. In this exhibition, a dance performance captivates the audience on opening night at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. August 2, 2008.  Photos By Ginger Van Hook

Barbara Kolo, Artist from "Circle in the Square" poses for a photograph in front of her painting with her husband Mr. Kolo. Barbara Kolo, a Santa Monica Artist, earned her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Kolo Participated in a successful two-person show at the Brand Library Art Galleries in 1999. The Brand Library Art Galleries are pleased to present (nearly ten years later) a new body of work by Barbara Kolo that connects to that which was here before. In those works and these, her focus is on representing organic materials. The current large scale acrylic on canvas works are saturated with color; the stippled application of paint creates organic shapes and patterns representative of the natural world.  The subject matter is open to each viewers interpretation, where one may see a birch forest at dusk, others may see the  bold aesthetic of pure color and abstraction. Kolo has had recent solo shows at Topanga Canyon Gallery and the Off Rose Gallery in Venice, California. More information about Kolo's work can be found on her website: www.barbarakolo.com Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

Barbara Kolo poses for a photograph during opening night celebrations for the exhibition, "Circle in the Square" at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Augusts 2, 2008. Glendale, California.

Susan Sironi,  an artist living in Altadena, California posed for her photograph in front of her paintings at  the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. August 2, 2008.  Susan Sironi earned her BFA at California Sate University, Long Beach. This exhibition will showcase Sironi's recent paintings as well as her Glass Curtain installation which is comprised of conjoined antique optometric lenses. Her paintings are about texture, color and process. Small dabs of oil paint are painstakingly applied to aluminum, building up an intricate, thorny surface. Highly textured and multihued when viewed up close, this surface belies the color play minimalist color-field appearance of the work at a distance . In the artist's own words "texture and color play equal roles in these works. They ... set up contradictions within each piece. Painitings  that seem to invite touch and intimacy are also reserved and automomous. Time and process are weighed against a static and minimal structure. Sironi's work was most recently seen in the Brea Art Gallery's Made in California exhibition, at the Chouinard School of Art Gallery, and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art.  More information about Sironi's work can be found on her website: web.mac.com/susansironi/susan/sironi/Welcome.html.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook.  

Yesung Kim, Brand Library Art Gallery, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008.

The Entrance to the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale, California hosts a prominent postcard of the show "Circle in the Square" now exhibiting through September 5th, 2008

                   Luke Van Hook paintings are now showing at the Brand Library Art Galleries in
          The Art of Reading Leads to the Art of Writing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the UCLA campus in Westwood! by Enilde Van Hook        

When is a library, not a library? When it’s a Book Festival where the books come out to play! The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books celebrated its 13th year of book promotions on the UCLA campus with an estimated attendance of over 140,000 people who love to read books!
Here is where the traditional library, once thought to be a stuffy, hush-hush, nerdy and quiet setting transforms itself into a megalomaniac fair of books and stories and documentaries just waiting to come alive. Books become the roller coaster of emotions, the merry-go-round of ideas, the bumper cars of change and the Ferris wheels of fiction.

In this day and age, the traditional library has undergone a radical change in our culture…it has gone outside, yes outside the box, outside the building and outside under yonder shade trees to re-invent itself. Unlike the regular library, where one checks out a book and must return it within a specific amount of time, this type of literary environment goes beyond just borrowing a book. This activity steps into the realm of personal libraries. This is where the reader amasses his or her own library collection of favorite authors, books, books on tape, digital recordings of books, even recordings for the blind and dyslexic by going outside the comfort of indoor lighting and venturing into the elements of nature.

The weekend of April 26th and 27th, under weather conditions reaching over 90 degrees in Westwood, the Pacific Ocean breeze quietly slipped in and around the leaves of Ficus trees, Great Oaks, Pines, and luscious landscaped lawns of one of our most prestigious institutions of higher learning; on the campus of UCLA, surrounded by noble buildings of great learning and ample gardens of exquisite greenery, what promised to be adventure at first, had indeed become an obsession for learning, an unquenchable thirst for more information about one’s world…who was in it in the past? Who’s in it now? Where’s the planet going? Who killed who? Or Whom? What artist leapt to his death from the bridge of misunderstanding? The answers were all there waiting to be revealed once you ventured out into the Festival of Books to bring home some new friends! This was my third year visiting the LA Times Festival of Books.

As I came upon the first of the booths, I saw a long line of people, fanning themselves in the hot sun with only partial shade for some while others brought lawn chairs, umbrellas and water bottles or coolers and bared the heat while reading the LA Times or a comic book they’d purchased while sipping lemonades from the local vendors. “Get your lemonade!” a man shouted from the center of another line of readers waiting for an author. As I made my way down the narrow aisles of celebrity book fans I looked up in time to see that Valerie Bertinelli was about to emerge and I could already see a wave of nervous cameramen and camerawomen with their trigger fingers anxiously poised above their focused lenses. I felt in good company. I too was about to sign copies of my book today. The Kingdom Of Nuts and Bolts, was being released to the reading public and I was headed over to join the authors at booth 715 sponsored by THE GREATER LOS ANGELES WRITER’S SOCIETY.

I was invited to join the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society recently and have discovered the treasures of its membership as well as the benefits to career and community. The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring writers of all levels in the craft and business of writing. The society works to provide continuing education and a forum for the marketing of a writer’s work. The society is guided by a philosophy of “writers mentoring writers of all disciplines” and their website (www.glaws.org) details their variety of resources, wel