Shri Saibaba’s Holy Paduka’s Darshan Programme in India and Abroad News         

by Shrutee K/DNS

On 18th October, 2018, Sadguru Shri Saibaba’s Samadhi Embrace will attain 100 years at Shirdi. This auspicious occasion is of extra ordinary significance and life-time memories, for Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust as well as Sai devotees all over world. Hence, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi has decided to celebrate this holy event as a grand festival, starting from 1st October, 2017 to 18th October, 2018.

On this auspicious occasion, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi has planned to arrange various religious and cultural programmes. In line with this spirit, on behalf of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi a festival of ‘Shri Sai Paduka Darshan’ will be organized in every district of Maharashtra and each state of our country, as well as 25 nations around the world.

Lakhs of devotees have come together and erected hundreds of Sai temples, all over India.  Their devotion to Shri Saibaba is of spiritual importance, arranging ‘Shri Sai Paduka Darshan’, through Sai temples, will serve as a life time opportunity for Sai devotees to celebrate Centenary Year of Shri Saibaba’s Samadhi, in their town.

Dr Shri Suresh Haware, President, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi appeals to trusts & organizing bodies of Sai temples, desirous of arranging ‘Shri Sai Paduka Darshan’ festival in their town, to contact with complete details – Deputy Collector, Email – dycoll.2@sai.org.in, Mob – 07720077205 or Shatabdi Cell, Email – shatabdi@sai.org.in, ph – 02423-258907-Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi.

          Badshah Masala launched their new ad campaign #HumareYahan        


by Shrutee K/DNS
National: Badshah Masala, this Independence Day, has launched their new ad campaign #HumareYahan, aiming to decrease this divide and pushes notice to how similar these two sister countries are. Badshah Masala believes that despite all the differences we may have, food transcends all boundaries and brings people from different places together. 
In this video, Manno is a traditional Indian mom whose daughter, Dimple, has just returned from US after finishing her studies. Dimple, whilst showing Manno pictures from her time in US, also shows her a picture with her Pakistani friend, Saad. Manno immediately points to Saad being a Pakistani, but is shunned by her young and liberal daughter.  
Dimple then mentions that she wants to meet Saad, an idea which Manno isn't too fond of. After much deliberation, Manno asks Dimple to invite Saad over for dinner so that she can keep an eye on him. Once Saad comes over for dinner, he amazes Manno with what he does.
This video is a testimony to how much the younger generation can influence their parents in breaking stereotypes that have prevailed in modern India. The campaign also communicates a broader message that gets us thinking as to how Indians perceive foreign nationals. It stresses on the importance of respect for an individual regardless of his or her racial background and nationality, and the importance of not judging a person based on our own preconceived notions and existing stereotypes.
Kailash Jhaveri, Managing Partner of Jhaveri Industries, said,”As we are inching closer to a 70th Independence Day, there is no better time to contemplate the ties between these two countries. We are trying our best to close this divide by starting a conversation over something that no one would decline - Swaad.” 
Hemant Jhaveri, Managing Partner of Jhaveri Industries, adds, “Badshah Masala has always been involved in forming connections through food. From the very beginning of this company, we have looked at food as something that can bring people from everywhere together. We are glad that we are taking this opportunity to provide another outlook to the current scenario that our country is facing.” 
Anushree Pacheriwal, Creative Head of Gemius, said, “It has been an incredible experience working for this campaign. From the very start, we were certain that this message needed to be out there, and that shaped the direction that this campaign took.”
The campaign is by Badshah Masala conceptualised by agency Gemius and creative head Anushree Pacheriwal, Story, Saurabh Pacheriwal. The production house is 50mm Media Productions and Director & DOP is Saurabh Desai and Ankit Mavchi. Gemius is co founded by Saurabh Pacheriwal, a marketing professional and Anushree Pacheriwal, a creative professional. Its clientele includes Badshah Masala, World Economic Forum, Just In Time, Baggit, TEDx events amongst others.
·       Campaign Link:  https://youtu.be/2LFIuXf1Gqo
Credits:
Client: Badshah Masala
Managing Partners: Kailash Jhaveri, Hemant Jhaveri
Agency: Gemius
Managing Director: Saurabh Pacheriwal
Creative Head: Anushree Pacheriwal
Account Management Team: Tanvi Khandelwal, Abhishek Doshi, Varsha Tanna
Story: Saurabh Pacheriwal
Production House: 50mm Media Productions
Director & DOP: Saurabh Desai & Ankit Mavchi
Production Team: Fenil Patel, Siddhant Shah, Nehal Trivedi, Jigar M, Setu U


          ISKCON Kharghar Celebrates Sri Krishna Janmashtami from 13th to 16th August, 2017        

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by Shrutee K/DNS

Navi Mumbai, 09th August 2017:  The devotees from ISKCON Kharghar will be celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami Festival which starts from 13th to 16th August, 2017 at Sri Sri Radha Madanmohanji Temple, Kharghar- Navi MumbaiThe Janmashtami celebrations are part of the festivities of the Radha Madanmohanji Mahotsav 2017 which have begun from 03rd August 2017 with the Jhulan Yatra Utsav and end on 16th August 2017 with the celebration of Srila Prabhupada’s 121st Vyasa Puja.

The highlights of this festival are the SRI KRISHNA KALASH ABHISHEK which will be held on 15th August 2017 from 7.30 pm onwards, wherein donors are given an opportunity to bathe Their Lordships with panchamrita in Silver Kalash. The most important event is the MAHA ABHISHEK of The Lord in the temple at 12 midnight. This year it is special as it will be held in the pandal so that thousands of devotees who visit the temple can have Darshan of this divine spectacle.

Bhakti Kala Kshetra, the cultural wing of ISKCON is organizing a cultural program comprising of dance, drama, discourses and bhajans has been organized in the pandal from 13th to 16th August and shall feature performances by congregational devotees, local artists and cultural organizations. The star attraction is going to be the celebrity performances of flute recital by Shri. Ronu Majumdar and bhajans by Shri. Shounak Abhisheki, Smt. Anuradha Paudwal, Shri. Anup Jalota, Shri. Vinod Trivedi and Dr. Vikram Parlikar.

On 16th August to commemorate the 121st birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON Kharghar has organized a day long program in which prominent people, devotees and congregational devotees will offer homage and heartfelt offerings to Srila Prabhupada from 10am onwards. This celebration shall comprise of Pushpa Abhishek and aarti to Srila Prabhupada at 12:30 noon followed by special 1008 offering. There will be prasadam for all after the celebration. In the evening from 6.00 pm onwards, congregation devotees, life members and donors will bathe Srila Prabhupada with milk, honey and gangajal in special kalash made of meena and brass. Devotees shall sing the glories of Prabhupadaji and remember his teachings that deeply touch the heart of people all over the world.

Preparations for Janmashtami festival at ISKCON Kharghar began almost 2 months prior to the actual festival. A special festival committee is formed to organize, manage and coordinate the festival.

About The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Kharghar:
ISKCON’s Sri Sri Radha Madanmohanji Temple at Navi Mumbai, is designated as ‘Glory of Maharashtra- A Vedic Educational and Cultural Center’. Spread over nine acres of land it is more than just a temple. It offers a spiritual and cultural experience that is one of its kind. While the magnificent temple with three alters dedicated to Sri Sri Radha Madanmohanji, Sri Ram Sita Laxman Hanuman and Sri Nitai Gaur Sunderji, is the main attraction, the project has other features that will make it a prominent landmark, like the Bhaktivedanta College of Vedic Education, which will teach the ancient Vedic philosophy as well as a Bhaktivedanta Library. Other facilities include a Guest House, Ayurveda Wellness Center, Vanprastha Ashram (old age home) and a magnificent Auditorium to cater to the cultural events in Navi Mumbai. Though the project is in the making, there is a small temple with the deities installed and  it has  already become a major landmark and place of  tourist attraction in Navi Mumbai.

          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.
          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).
          Rango: Pixologic Interviews Our Team!        

Here you can check a cool interview with our talented team of artsists at ILM, presented by Pixologic, makers of the software ZBrush:                 Thanks to our model supervisor Geoff Campbell for the opportunity and thank you Pixologic for the great job putting this interview together!!! -Kris
          '..committed to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.' (no replies)        
'Leaders from the City of Portland and Multnomah County have committed to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

In an announcement earlier this week, authorities said that their goal was to meet the community's electricity needs with renewables by the year 2035 and to move all remaining energy sources to renewable ones by 2050.

..

Multnomah County is the most populous county in Oregon. Its Chair, Deborah Kafoury, welcomed the news. "This is a pledge to our children's future,'' she said. "100 percent renewables means a future with cleaner air, a stable climate and more jobs and economic opportunity.''

Portland is among a number of U.S. cities looking to embrace renewables. Over the weekend Chicago's Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, announced that city buildings there were to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.'

- Anmar Frangoul, Portland commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, April 12, 2017


Context

(Fusion Power) - LPP Focus Fusion 1; '..FF-1 results are right now far ahead..'

(Fusion Power) - '..LPP has so far has two out of the three necessary ingredients for successful breakeven..'

'..to Ban Internal Combustion Engines by 2030'


The nuclear retreat - '..the global transition to sustainable 100 percent renewable energy.' - '..in Europe by 2050.'

(To Heal) - '..the forces and forms of nature -- clouds, mountains, waves -- in cities of the future.'

(In The Electric Universe) Open Source Infrastructure, beginning of the Enterprise Nervous System (ENS)

          '..the amount of leverage and excess that has accumulated in bond and Credit markets..' (no replies)        
'..the amount of leverage and excess that has accumulated in bond and Credit markets over the past eight years of extreme monetary stimulus.'

'The Fed is not blind. They monitor stock prices and corporate debt issuance; they see residential and commercial real estate market values. Years of ultra-low rates have inflated Bubbles throughout commercial real estate – anything providing a yield – in excess of those going into 2008. Upper-end residential prices are significantly stretched across the country, also surpassing 2007. They see Silicon Valley and a Tech Bubble 2.0, with myriad excesses that in many respects put 1999 to shame. I’ll assume that the Fed is concerned with the amount of leverage and excess that has accumulated in bond and Credit markets over the past eight years of extreme monetary stimulus.

..

The Fed collapsed fed funds from 6.50% in December 2000 to an extraordinarily low 1.75% by the end of 2001. In the face of an escalating corporate debt crisis, the Fed took the unusual step of cutting rates another 50 bps in November 2002. Alarmingly, corporate Credit was failing to respond to traditional monetary policy measures (despite being aggressively applied). Ford in particular faced severe funding issues, though the entire corporate debt market was confronting liquidity issues. Recall that the S&P500 dropped 23.4% in 2002. The small caps lost 21.6%. The Nasdaq 100 (NDX) sank 37.6%, falling to 795 (having collapsed from a March 2000 high of 4,816). No financial instability?

..

I revisit history in an attempt at distinguishing reality from misperceptions. Of course the Fed will generally dismiss the consequences of Bubbles. They’re not going to aggressively embark on reflationary policies while espousing the dangers of asset price and speculative Bubbles. Instead, they have painted the “housing Bubble” as some egregious debt mountain aberration. And paraphrasing Kashkari, since today’s stock market has nowhere as much debt as housing had in 2007, there’s little to worry about from a crisis and financial instability perspective.

Well, if only that were the case. Debt is a critical issue, and there’s a whole lot more of it than back in 2008. Yet when it comes to fragility and financial crises, market misperceptions and distortions play fundamental roles. And there’s a reason why each bursting Bubble and resulting policy-induced reflation ensures a more precarious Bubble: Not only does the amount of debt continue to inflate, each increasingly intrusive policy response elicits a greater distorting impact on market perceptions.

I doubt Fed governor Bernanke actually anticipated that the Fed would have to resort to “helicopter money” and the “government printing press” when he introduced such extreme measures in his 2002 speeches. Yet seeing that the Fed was willing to push its monetary experiment in such a radical direction played a momentous role in reversing the 2002 corporate debt crisis, in the process stoking the fledgling mortgage finance Bubble. And the Bernanke Fed surely thought at the time that doubling its balance sheet during the 2008/09 crisis was a one-time response to a once-in-a-lifetime financial dislocation. I’ll assume they were sincere with their 2011 “exit strategy,” yet only a few short years later they’d again double the size of their holdings.

..

Despite assertions to the contrary, the bursting of the “tech” Bubble unleashed significant financial instability. To orchestrate reflation, the Fed marshaled a major rate collapse, which worked to stoke already robust mortgage Credit growth. The collapse in telecom debt, an unwind of market-based speculative leverage and the rapid slowdown in corporate borrowings was over time more than offset by a rapid expansion in housing debt and the enormous growth in mortgage-related speculative leverage (MBS, ABS, derivatives).

..

I’ve never felt comfortable that Chinese authorities appreciate the types of risks that have been mounting beneath the surface of their massively expanding Credit system. Global markets seemed attentive a year ago, but have since been swept away by the notion of the all-powerful “China put” conjoining with the steadfast “Fed put.” These types of market perceptions create tremendous inherent fragility.'

- Doug Noland, Discussions on the Fed Put, March 25, 2017


'It’s now an all-too-familiar Bubble Dynamic. The greater the Bubble inflates, the more impervious it becomes to cautious “tightening” measures..'

'The problem today is that years of ultra-loose monetary conditions have ensured everyone is crowded on the same bullish side of the boat. Tipping the vessel at this point will be chaotic, and the Fed clearly doesn’t want to be the instigator. Meanwhile, timid little baby-step increases only ensure more problematic market Bubbles and general financial excess.

It’s now an all-too-familiar Bubble Dynamic. The greater the Bubble inflates, the more impervious it becomes to cautious “tightening” measures. And the longer the accommodative backdrop fuels only more precarious Bubble Dynamics, the more certain it becomes that central bankers will approach monetary tightening timidly. Yellen confirmed to the markets Wednesday that the Fed would remain timid – still focused on some theoretical “neutral rate” and seemingly oblivious to conspicuous financial market excess. The fixation remains on consumer prices that are running just a tad under its 2% target. Meanwhile, runaway securities market inflation is completely disregarded.'

- Doug Noland, Another Missed Opportunity, March 18, 2017


'..In terms of Credit Bubble momentum, it’s notable that Net Worth inflated over $2.0 TN in both Q3 and Q4.'

'The unprecedented amount of system-wide debt is so enormous that the annual percentage gains no longer appear as alarming. Non-Financial Debt expanded 4.7% in 2016, up from 2015’s 4.4%. Total Household Debt expanded 3.6%, with Total Business borrowings up 5.6%. Financial Sector borrowings expanded 2.9% last year, the strongest expansion since 2008.

Securities markets remain the centerpiece of this long reflationary cycle. Total (debt and equities) Securities jumped $1.50 TN during Q4 to a record $80.344 TN, with a one-year rise of $4.80 TN. As a percentage of GDP, Total Securities increased to 426% from the year ago 415%. For comparison, Total Securities peaked at $55.3 TN during Q3 2007, or 379% of GDP. At the previous Q1 2000 cycle peak, Total Securities had reached $36.0 TN, or 359% of GDP.

The Household Balance Sheet also rather conspicuously illuminates Bubble Dynamics. Household Assets surged $6.0 TN during 2016 to a record $107.91 TN ($9.74 TN 2-yr gain). This compares to the peak Q3 2007 level of $81.9 TN and $70.0 TN to end 2008. Q4 alone saw Household Assets inflate $2.192 TN, with Financial Assets up $1.589 TN and real estate gaining $557bn.

With Household Liabilities increasing $473bn over the past year, Household Net Worth (assets minus liabilities) inflated a notable $5.518 TN in 2016 to a record $92.805 TN. As a percentage of GDP, Net Worth rose to a record 492%. For comparison, Household Net Worth-to-GDP ended 1999 at 435% ($43.1 TN) and 2007 at 453% ($66.5 TN). Net Worth fell to a cycle low 378% of GDP ($54.4TN) in Q1 2009. In terms of Credit Bubble momentum, it’s notable that Net Worth inflated over $2.0 TN in both Q3 and Q4.

..

UBS analysts forecast (above) $3.3 TN of 2017 Chinese Total Social Financing (TSF). And with TSF excluding national government deficit spending, let’s add another $300bn and presume 2017 Chinese system Credit growth of around $3.6 TN. As such, it’s possible that China and the U.S. could combine for Credit growth approaching an Unparalleled $6.0 TN. There are, as well, indications of an uptick in lending in the euro zone, and Credit conditions for the most part remain loose throughout EM. Importantly, the inflationary biases that have gained momentum in asset and securities markets and, increasingly, in consumer prices and corporate profits provide a tailwind for Credit expansion.'

- Doug Noland, Unparalleled Credit and Global Yields, March 10, 2017


Context

'..the S&P 500 is now far more overvalued than in 2000, 2007, or indeed in any prior point in history..'

          Update (February 11, 2017) - '..ethical standards..' ('.. Dr. Bates appeared to distance himself from some of what he wrote in the blog post..') (no replies)        
Update February 11, 2017: 'In an interview on Monday with E&E News, Dr. Bates appeared to distance himself from some of what he wrote in the blog post, and from the way his criticisms were portrayed in the Mail on Sunday article.

“The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data,” he said, “but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was.”

Climate Home, a nonprofit site based in London that offers news and analysis, also weighed in on one of the central contentions of Mr. Rose’s article, that the publication of the NOAA paper had "duped” policy makers into adopting the Paris accord. The site contacted representatives to the talks from 10 countries; none said that the paper had any influence.'

- Henry Fountain, No Data Manipulation in 2015 Climate Study, Researchers Say, February 7, 2016


Update February 09, 2017: 'Dr Bates’ main complaint is that Dr Karl and his co-authors did not follow strict procedures required for NOAA’s ‘operational’ data. It is not yet clear whether Dr Karl should have subjected his research data to the same procedures. Dr Karl, who retired from NOAA in August 2016, has not yet had the opportunity to respond fully to Dr Bates’ allegations.'

- LSE: More fake news in ‘The Mail on Sunday’, February 5, 2017 (Wikipedia Bans Daily Mail As 'Unreliable' Source, February 08, 2017))


'..a failure to observe proper ethical standards..'

'Dr John Bates’s disclosures about the manipulation of data behind the ‘Pausebuster’ paper is the biggest scientific scandal since ‘Climategate’ in 2009 when, as this paper reported, thousands of leaked emails revealed scientists were trying to block access to data, and using a ‘trick’ to conceal embarrassing flaws in their claims about global warming.

Both scandals suggest a lack of transparency and, according to Dr Bates, a failure to observe proper ethical standards.

Because of NOAA ’s failure to ‘archive’ data used in the paper, its results can never be verified.

Like Climategate, this scandal is likely to reverberate around the world, and reignite some of science’s most hotly contested debates.'

- Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data, February 4, 2017


'Whatever takes its place, said Dr Bates, ‘there needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. I’m hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community – a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesn’t happen again.

..

Dr Bates said: ‘How ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity – and failed.’ '


'Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards ‘to produce and preserve climate data records’.

..

Less than two years earlier, a blockbuster report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drew on the work of hundreds of scientists around the world, had found ‘a much smaller increasing trend over the past 15 years 1998-2012 than over the past 30 to 60 years’. Explaining the pause became a key issue for climate science. It was seized on by global warming sceptics, because the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had continued to rise.

..

In the weeks after the Pausebuster paper was published, Dr Bates conducted a one-man investigation into this. His findings were extraordinary. Not only had Mr Karl and his colleagues failed to follow any of the formal procedures required to approve and archive their data, they had used a ‘highly experimental early run’ of a programme that tried to combine two previously separate sets of records.

..

Dr Bates revealed that the failure to archive and make available fully documented data not only violated NOAA rules, but also those set down by Science. Before he retired last year, he continued to raise the issue internally. Then came the final bombshell. Dr Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’

The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means the Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.

..

Whatever takes its place, said Dr Bates, ‘there needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. I’m hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community – a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesn’t happen again.

Dr Bates said: ‘How ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity – and failed.’

NOAA not only failed, but it effectively mounted a cover-up when challenged over its data. After the paper was published, the US House of Representatives Science Committee launched an inquiry into its Pausebuster claims. NOAA refused to comply with subpoenas demanding internal emails from the committee chairman, the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, and falsely claimed that no one had raised concerns about the paper internally.'

- Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data, February 4, 2017


Context '..conduct more meetings on ethics .. Respectful discussion of different points of view should be encouraged.' - John Bates

Climategate: Follow the Money - By Bret Stephens

Those Who Control the Past Control the Future, Climate Data Edition, February 5, 2017

'..Earth is warming more rapidly than previously thought was correct..'


'Trees are the best known ‘technology’ to cool our planet'

Focus Fusion - '..So, production reactors by 2020 or so.'

(Earth Defence - Earth Shield) - Faraday - Tesla - 'The Accelerating Winds of Venus.' (Electric Universe - Solar Climate Change)


(The Electric Universe - Earth Defence - Earth Shield) - Electric Fossils and Thundercrabs

(The Electric Universe) - '..weather systems .. an electric “wind” surrounds and often precedes an electric arc.'

(Thymology - Haptopraxeology) - '..entrepreneurship .. actions he will carry out and estimates the future effect of those actions..'


'...The peer review process is broken...' - '...don't have the "situational awareness"...'

On the Mail on Sunday article on Karl et al., 2015, February 5, 2017

          'We have no experience in stopping a nuclear war.' - Sidney Drell (no replies)        
'..My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.'

'The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And today’s command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare. The greatest danger is posed not by any technological innovation but by a dilemma that has haunted nuclear strategy since the first detonation of an atomic bomb: How do you prevent a nuclear attack while preserving the ability to launch one?

..

..the Cuban Missile Crisis, when a series of misperceptions, miscalculations, and command-and-control problems almost started an accidental nuclear war—despite the determination of both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev to avoid one. In perhaps the most dangerous incident, the captain of a Soviet submarine mistakenly believed that his vessel was under attack by U.S. warships and ordered the firing of a torpedo armed with a nuclear warhead. His order was blocked by a fellow officer. Had the torpedo been fired, the United States would have retaliated with nuclear weapons. At the height of the crisis, while leaving the White House on a beautiful fall evening, McNamara had a strong feeling of dread—and for good reason: “I feared I might never live to see another Saturday night.”

..

The personnel who command, operate, and maintain the Minuteman III have also become grounds for concern. In 2013, the two-star general in charge of the entire Minuteman force was removed from duty after going on a drunken bender during a visit to Russia, behaving inappropriately with young Russian women, asking repeatedly if he could sing with a Beatles cover band at a Mexican restaurant in Moscow, and insulting his military hosts. The following year, almost a hundred Minuteman launch officers were disciplined for cheating on their proficiency exams. In 2015, three launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Montana, were dismissed for using illegal drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines. That same year, a launch officer at Minot Air Force Base, in North Dakota, was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for heading a violent street gang, distributing drugs, sexually assaulting a girl under the age of sixteen, and using psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogen. As the job title implies, launch officers are entrusted with the keys for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

..

..A recent memoir, “Uncommon Cause,” written by General George Lee Butler, reveals that the Pentagon was not telling the truth. Butler was the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for all of America’s nuclear weapons, during the Administration of President George H. W. Bush.

According to Butler and Franklin Miller, a former director of strategic-forces policy at the Pentagon, launch-on-warning was an essential part of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (siop), the nation’s nuclear-war plan. Land-based missiles like the Minuteman III were aimed at some of the most important targets in the Soviet Union, including its anti-aircraft sites. If the Minuteman missiles were destroyed before liftoff, the siop would go awry, and American bombers might be shot down before reaching their targets. In order to prevail in a nuclear war, the siop had become dependent on getting Minuteman missiles off the ground immediately. Butler’s immersion in the details of the nuclear command-and-control system left him dismayed. “With the possible exception of the Soviet nuclear war plan, [the siop] was the single most absurd and irresponsible document I had ever reviewed in my life,” Butler concluded. “We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” The siop called for the destruction of twelve thousand targets within the Soviet Union. Moscow would be struck by four hundred nuclear weapons; Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, by about forty.

After the end of the Cold War, a Russian surprise attack became extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, hundreds of Minuteman III missiles remained on alert. The Cold War strategy endured because, in theory, it deterred a Russian attack on the missiles. McNamara called the policy “insane,” arguing that “there’s no military requirement for it.” George W. Bush, while running for President in 2000, criticized launch-on-warning, citing the “unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorized launch.” Barack Obama, while running for President in 2008, promised to take Minuteman missiles off alert, warning that policies like launch-on-warning “increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation.” Twenty scientists who have won the Nobel Prize, as well as the Union of Concerned Scientists, have expressed strong opposition to retaining a launch-on-warning capability. It has also been opposed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and former Senator Sam Nunn. And yet the Minuteman III missiles still sit in their silos today, armed with warheads, ready to go.

William J. Perry, who served as Secretary of Defense during the Clinton Administration, not only opposes keeping Minuteman III missiles on alert but advocates getting rid of them entirely. “These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world,” Perry wrote in the Times, this September. For many reasons, he thinks the risk of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than it was during the Cold War. While serving as an Under-Secretary of Defense in 1980, Perry also received a late-night call about an impending Soviet attack, a false alarm that still haunts him. “A catastrophic nuclear war could have started by accident.”

Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman launch officer, heads the anti-nuclear group Global Zero, teaches at Princeton University, and campaigns against a launch-on-warning policy. Blair has described the stresses that the warning of a Russian attack would put on America’s command-and-control system. American early-warning satellites would detect Russian missiles within three minutes of their launch. Officers at norad would confer for an additional three minutes, checking sensors to decide if an attack was actually occurring. The Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack System collects data from at least two independent information sources, relying on different physical principles, such as ground-based radar and satellite-based infrared sensors. If the norad officials thought that the warning was legitimate, the President of the United States would be contacted. He or she would remove the Black Book from a briefcase carried by a military aide. The Black Book describes nuclear retaliatory options, presented in cartoon-like illustrations that can be quickly understood.

..

Although the Air Force publicly dismissed the threat of a cyberattack on the nuclear command-and-control system, the incident raised alarm within the Pentagon about the system’s vulnerability. A malfunction that occurred by accident might also be caused deliberately. Those concerns were reinforced by a Defense Science Board report in January, 2013. It found that the Pentagon’s computer networks had been “built on inherently insecure architectures that are composed of, and increasingly using, foreign parts.” Red teams employed by the board were able to disrupt Pentagon systems with “relative ease,” using tools available on the Internet. “The complexity of modern software and hardware makes it difficult, if not impossible, to develop components without flaws or to detect malicious insertions,” the report concluded.

In a recent paper for the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Andrew Futter, an associate professor at the University of Leicester, suggested that a nuclear command-and-control system might be hacked to gather intelligence about the system, to shut down the system, to spoof it, mislead it, or cause it to take some sort of action—like launching a missile. And, he wrote, there are a variety of ways it might be done.

..

Strict precautions have been taken to thwart a cyberattack on the U.S. nuclear command-and-control system. Every line of nuclear code has been scrutinized for errors and bugs. The system is “air-gapped,” meaning that its networks are closed: someone can’t just go onto the Internet and tap into a computer at a Minuteman III control center. At least, that’s the theory. Russia, China, and North Korea have sophisticated cyber-warfare programs and techniques. General James Cartwright—the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command who recently pleaded guilty to leaking information about Stuxnet—thinks that it’s reasonable to believe the system has already been penetrated. “You’ve either been hacked, and you’re not admitting it, or you’re being hacked and don’t know it,” Cartwright said last year.

If communications between Minuteman control centers and their missiles are interrupted, the missiles can still be launched by ultra-high-frequency radio signals transmitted by special military aircraft. The ability to launch missiles by radio serves as a backup to the control centers—and also creates an entry point into the network that could be exploited in a cyberattack. The messages sent within the nuclear command-and-control system are highly encrypted. Launch codes are split in two, and no single person is allowed to know both parts. But the complete code is stored in computers—where it could be obtained or corrupted by an insider.

Some of America’s most secret secrets were recently hacked and stolen by a couple of private contractors working inside the N.S.A., Edward Snowden and Harold T. Martin III, both employees of Booz Allen Hamilton. The N.S.A. is responsible for generating and encrypting the nuclear launch codes. And the security of the nuclear command-and-control system is being assured not only by government officials but also by the employees of private firms, including software engineers who work for Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Lord Des Browne, a former U.K. Minister of Defense, is concerned that even ballistic-missile submarines may be compromised by malware. Browne is now the vice-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit seeking to reduce the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, where he heads a task force examining the risk of cyberattacks on nuclear command-and-control systems. Browne thinks that the cyber threat is being cavalierly dismissed by many in power. The Royal Navy’s decision to save money by using Windows for Submarines, a version of Windows XP, as the operating system for its ballistic-missile subs seems especially shortsighted. Windows XP was discontinued six years ago, and Microsoft warned that any computer running it after April, 2014, “should not be considered protected as there will be no security updates.” Each of the U.K. subs has eight missiles carrying a total of forty nuclear weapons. “It is shocking to think that my home computer is probably running a newer version of Windows than the U.K.’s military submarines,” Brown said.In 2013, General C. Robert Kehler, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the risk of cyberattacks on the nuclear command-and-control system. He expressed confidence that the U.S. system was secure. When Senator Bill Nelson asked if somebody could hack into the Russian or Chinese systems and launch a ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead, Kehler replied, “Senator, I don’t know . . . I do not know.”

After the debacle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union became much more reluctant to provoke a nuclear confrontation with the United States. Its politburo was a committee of conservative old men. Russia’s leadership is quite different today. The current mix of nationalism, xenophobia, and vehement anti-Americanism in Moscow is a far cry from the more staid and secular ideology guiding the Soviet Union in the nineteen-eighties. During the past few years, threats about the use of nuclear weapons have become commonplace in Moscow. Dmitry Kiselyov, a popular newscaster and the Kremlin’s leading propagandist, reminded viewers in 2014 that Russia is “the only country in the world capable of turning the U.S.A. into radioactive dust.” The Kremlin has acknowledged the development of a nuclear torpedo that can travel more than six thousand miles underwater before devastating a coastal city. It has also boasted about a fearsome new missile design. Nicknamed “Satan 2” and deployed with up to sixteen nuclear warheads, the missile will be “capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France,” an official news agency claimed.

..

Russia’s greatest strategic vulnerability is the lack of a sophisticated and effective early-warning system. The Soviet Union had almost a dozen satellites in orbit that could detect a large-scale American attack. The system began to deteriorate in 1996, when an early-warning satellite had to be retired. Others soon fell out of orbit, and Russia’s last functional early-warning satellite went out of service two years ago. Until a new network of satellites can be placed in orbit, the country must depend on ground-based radar units. Unlike the United States, Russia no longer has two separate means of validating an attack warning. At best, the radar units can spot warheads only minutes before they land. Pavel Podvig, a senior fellow at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research, believes that Russia does not have a launch-on-warning policy—because its early-warning system is so limited.

For the past nine years, I’ve been immersed in the minutiae of nuclear command and control, trying to understand the actual level of risk. Of all the people whom I’ve met in the nuclear realm, Sidney Drell was one of the most brilliant and impressive. Drell died this week, at the age of ninety. A theoretical physicist with expertise in quantum field theory and quantum chromodynamics, he was for many years the deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator and received the National Medal of Science from Obama, in 2013. Drell was one of the founding members of jason—a group of civilian scientists that advises the government on important technological matters—and for fifty-six years possessed a Q clearance, granting him access to the highest level of classified information. Drell participated in top-secret discussions about nuclear strategy for decades, headed a panel that investigated nuclear-weapon safety for the U.S. Congress in 1990, and worked on technical issues for jason until the end of his life. A few months ago, when I asked for his opinion about launch-on-warning, Drell said, “It’s insane, the worst thing I can think of. You can’t have a worse idea.”

Drell was an undergraduate at Princeton University when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed. Given all the close calls and mistakes in the seventy-one years since then, he considered it a miracle that no other cities have been destroyed by a nuclear weapon—“it is so far beyond my normal optimism.” The prospect of a new cold war—and the return of military strategies that advocate using nuclear weapons on the battlefield—deeply unnerved him. Once the first nuclear weapon detonates, nothing might prevent the conflict from spiralling out of control. “We have no experience in stopping a nuclear war,” he said.

..

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin confront a stark choice: begin another nuclear-arms race or reduce the threat of nuclear war. Trump now has a unique opportunity to pursue the latter, despite the bluster and posturing on both sides. His admiration for Putin, regardless of its merits, could provide the basis for meaningful discussions about how to minimize nuclear risks. Last year, General James Mattis, the former Marine chosen by Trump to serve as Secretary of Defense, called for a fundamental reappraisal of American nuclear strategy and questioned the need for land-based missiles. During Senate testimony, Mattis suggested that getting rid of such missiles would “reduce the false-alarm danger.” Contrary to expectations, Republican Presidents have proved much more successful than their Democratic counterparts at nuclear disarmament. President George H. W. Bush cut the size of the American arsenal in half, as did his son, President George W. Bush. And President Ronald Reagan came close to negotiating a treaty with the Soviet Union that would have completely abolished nuclear weapons.

Every technology embodies the values of the age in which it was created. When the atomic bomb was being developed in the mid-nineteen-forties, the destruction of cities and the deliberate targeting of civilians was just another military tactic. It was championed as a means to victory. The Geneva Conventions later classified those practices as war crimes—and yet nuclear weapons have no other real use. They threaten and endanger noncombatants for the sake of deterrence. Conventional weapons can now be employed to destroy every kind of military target, and twenty-first-century warfare puts an emphasis on precision strikes, cyberweapons, and minimizing civilian casualties. As a technology, nuclear weapons have become obsolete. What worries me most isn’t the possibility of a cyberattack, a technical glitch, or a misunderstanding starting a nuclear war sometime next week. My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.'

- Eric Schlosser, World War Three, By Mistake, December 23, 2016


Context

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

          UNI CARES (UNI Creating A Responsible Environment Showcase)        

UNI CARES (UNI Creating A Responsible Environment Showcase) is a campuswide event to showcase diverse projects research, curricula and initiatives that contribute to building a responsible environment. The goal is to promote activities that address the environment and sustainability, and provide opportunities for future collaboration and active participation. This event will follow the provost's common read of  "The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World."  

Faculty, staff, centers, departments/programs and advisers of student groups are invited to share how they are creating a responsible environment. The participation form can be completed at: http://goo.gl/forms/WpP4DAijm0. The deadline for submission is Monday, Feb. 8.

Conferences, Workshops, & Camps
Special Events
Location: 
Old Central Ballroom, Maucker Union
Wednesday, March 30, 2016 -
12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Enter Your Email: 
Name: 
Elizabeth Sutton
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          Plastic Bag Exchange        

The Office of Sustainability is hosting an opportunity to go green. Bring at least five plastic bags to exchange for one reusable UNI bag; limit one bag per person.

Outreach/Service Projects
Location: 
Maucker Union
Monday, April 21, 2014 -
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Enter Your Email: 
Name: 
Kelsey Ewald
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          Plastic Bag Exchange        

The Office of Sustainability is hosting an opportunity to go green. Bring in at least five plastic bags to exchange for a reusable UNI bag.

Special Events
Location: 
Maucker Union (near Chats)
Thursday, February 27, 2014 -
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Enter Your Email: 
Name: 
Kelsey Ewald
Phone: 
(319) 231-4709
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          Unlocking G Suite for Nonprofits: Improve internal workflow and communication        

Whether you have a team of five or 500 a seamless, collaborative workflow is critical in the digital age. Our goal is to make sure that your nonprofit is able to focus on changing the world by using technology to save time -- not waste it. In the digital age though, information sharing can often be complex; your team might not work in the same office, or even the same timezone. Some team members might be in an office with computer access, while others are in the field on mobile devices. Who from your team should be able to access confidential documents?

This brings us to a key question: How do you empower team members to work together towards a common goal, and use technology to enable it?

Great question. We’d like to introduce you to G Suite - (formerly  Google Apps for Work ). G Suite aims to help teams work together in real-time -- no matter where they are in the world.

Today, we’re spotlighting a few nonprofits to share how their teams  are using Google tools and apps to improve workflow and internal communication.

Mercy Beyond Borders - Internal Communication with Sheets & Sites

Mercy Beyond Borders (MBB) is a U.S. nonprofit that aims to forge opportunities for women and girls in extreme poverty to learn, connect, and lead. Utilizing a small office in the U.S. as home base, MBB targets rural areas in Haiti and South Sudan. In both of these areas, cultural norms and poverty prohibit full participation of women. In fact, these areas offer minimal education and opportunities for employment, which often  impedes the development of leadership skills or positions. Mercy Beyond Borders focuses its programs on providing trainings, scholarships, leadership camps, and business loans for women.

To achieve their mission, Mercy Beyond Borders faces the challenge of balancing US-based operations with field work in remote areas like South Sudan and Haiti. Their nonprofit partners range from large organizations to local schools to individuals. So how does Mercy Beyond Borders ensure that all staff, vendors, and partners stay connected and working together in sync?
MBB-trained nurse in South-Sudan village
MBB-trained nurse in South Sudan village. Photo credit: Mercy Beyond Borders

Mercy Beyond Border began using G Suite to streamline its workflow, connecting their team across the globe. Using G Suite, MBB’s team is able to access, share, and collaborate together in real-time. Take a glimpse into how they do it:

  • Track Finances: MBB manages their overseas program budget expenditures in Google Sheets. Using this tool, the domestic office tracks monthly vendor payments in Haiti. This enables the staff to wire more money as needed in order to ensure program success. Additionally, using Sheets enables the team to provide transparency in the organization, clarifying spending and creating a simple overview of total annual expenses. This standardized and collaborative approach to data enables better efficiency and communication between domestic and international offices.

  • Store images: Mercy Beyond Borders regularly takes photos in the field to keep the domestic office up to date on progress and communicate stories to their donors. The team overseas is able to upload the pictures to Google Drive, which allows them to share or retrieve the images at any time.

  • Share Information: It’s imperative that MBB shares frequent updates with the Board of Directors, highlighting current developments, areas for growth, and new opportunities. To keep the Board of Directors apprised of progress, the team created a MBB Board website with Google Sites as a way to provide updates outside of meetings. The site functions as a central hub, where the Board can find all relevant information and resources at their discretion. The website is organized in subsections including internal updates from the Executive Director, background articles on country conditions and descriptions of new partnerships. To take it one step further, MBB also added a comment section for board members to engage in open communication.

“It [G Suite] helps to better connect, engage, and keep Board members up-to-date in between meetings, or  if they are unable to make a meeting (in which case they can view the Meeting Archives page),” said Adrienne Perez.


MyFace - Increasing productivity and improving internal workflow by remote access

Established in 1951, MyFace was founded to address the medical, surgical and psychological needs of those living with facial deformities. The organization offers access to care and treatments --- regardless of the severity of the anomaly, the length of treatment, or the family’s ability to afford care. In America alone, 1 in 650 children is born with an facial cleft. Every year, MyFace helps more than 1,000 patients seek treatment. Of this population, 85% are children, 70% live in poverty, and 95% require long-term care. The costs involved in this are high and verges on insurmountable for low income families. With this in mind, MyFace ensures that all children receive highest quality interdisciplinary and comprehensive reconstructive care by doctors who provide their services pro bono.

As a small nonprofit (their staff of eight including their therapy dog, Bentley), employees are required to perform a variety of different tasks. On any given day, team members might be responsible for website design, grant proposal writing, and marketing strategy. And oftentimes, what one employee starts today is  picked up by another employee tomorrow. Because it’s often all-hands-on-deck, collaboration is particularly key for MyFace.

Our mission of changing faces and transforming lives can be fulfilled with the help of technology from G4NP Carolyn Spector Executive Director MyFace

To address their challenge, MyFace began using Google Drive to centrally store, access, and share information from anywhere at anytime. Drive helped decrease the amount of time that MyFace spends on administrative tasks, like sending documents back and forth or working with out-of-date data or information. Drive’s tools like Docs and Sheets enable the team to collaborate both in and out of office.

MyFace also deals with an overwhelming amount of data and information. The team needs this data to not only be easy to store, retrieve, and share — it needs to be secure, since it contains confidential and personal patient information. G Suite offers that as well, ensuring that all information is kept private and secure. (Want to know more about G Suite security and how safe they really are? Read more about it here).

“Our mission of changing faces and transforming lives can be fulfilled with the help of technology from G4NP because it offers invaluable resources to nonprofits of any size at no cost,” stated Carolyn Spector, Executive Director of MyFace.

MyFace Staff photo
MyFace team. Photo credit: MyFace

Having global teams of different sizes with varying access to technology can make timely communication difficult, if not impossible. While nonprofits like Mercy Beyond Borders and myFace strive to accomplish unique missions, both organizations are passionate about changing the world. And about using the right technology to help. Utilizing tools like G Suite has been key for nonprofits like these in order to improve internal workflow and communications. For Mercy and my Face, making information shared, up-to-date, and secure has been crucial for navigating the Technology Age.

Interested in learning more about the tools available to your nonprofit? Check out our website to see how G4NP can help your nonprofit with real-time, up-to-date communication and data sharing.

//

To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.

Footnote:  Statements are provided by Nonprofits that received free products as part of the Google for Nonprofits program, which offers free products to qualified nonprofits.


          2016 Year in Review        

2016 was a year of many things - changes, challenges and opportunities. But above all else, 2016 was a year where you continued your work to change the world; to bring the world a little closer to finding common ground amongst peace, progress, and innovation.

As 2016 comes to a close, Google for Nonprofits took one final opportunity to reflect on a year past and look forward to the year ahead.  So without further ado, here are the top posts from 2016 from your friends at Google for Nonprofits.

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From LA to Tokyo: YouTube Spaces opens production studios to nonprofits free of charge

From LA to London, Tokyo to Mumbai, Berlin to São Paulo, YouTube Spaces empower nonprofits by providing them exclusive access to the best production resources around — all at no cost. All enrolled nonprofits with 1,000 or more subscribers are now eligible to apply for production access at YouTube Spaces.

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Unlocking your nonprofit's data insights: Linking Ad Grants and Google Analytics

So you’re using Ad Grants - our in-kind advertising solution for nonprofits which allows you to run text ads on Google Search - and you’re looking for more insights? Google Analytics is your go-to tool for providing insights into user behavior, which can be used to inform Google Ad Grants, as well as website optimization. By syncing data and using Ad Grants & Analytics in tandem, you can boost the quality of traffic reaching your site and increase the chance of visitors completing a meaningful action on your NGO’s page.

Benefits of Linking your Google Analytics and Adwords Accounts

Four ways to keep your nonprofit safe & secure online

“How do we keep our nonprofit (and the community we serve) safe and secure online?” In 2016, we partnered with Google’s User Advocacy Group to share four smart tips to keep your nonprofit, your users, and you safe online.

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What do you and your nonprofit want to learn in the new year? Leave a comment below, and we’ll work on learning together in 2017.

Lastly, we so appreciate all nonprofits’ unwavering dedication to changing the world. We wish all nonprofits and their communities a peaceful holiday season and a joyful new year.

To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.


          From LA to Tokyo: YouTube Spaces opens production studios to nonprofits free of charge        
We know that having a physical space to do your work matters, but it’s not just about where you work — it’s about what you create there. So today, we’re announcing special access to YouTube Spaces, YouTube’s global network of production studios, for eligible nonprofits to learn, connect, and create great content for YouTube.

Given that Google was started in a garage, we’re more than familiar with the limits of physical space. As a nonprofit, it can be difficult to find access to great spaces for video production, especially when time, location, and money are constraining factors. As a result, space often becomes limiting, rather than limitless, to producing great content on YouTube.

From LA to London, Tokyo to Mumbai, Berlin to São Paulo, YouTube Spaces empower nonprofits by providing them exclusive access to the best production resources around — all at no cost. All enrolled nonprofits with 1,000 or more subscribers are now eligible to apply for production access at YouTube Spaces.

But we’re also offering more than just physical space. In addition to our state-of-the-art production facilities, YouTube Spaces brings together creatives of all stripes. YouTube Spaces offers nonprofits opportunities to learn new skills through live workshops, as well as collaborate with the YouTube community through events, panels, screenings, and more! 

YouTube Spaces
Don’t know where to begin? Once enrolled in and approved by YouTube for Nonprofits, start with theYouTube Creator Academy. From there, nonprofits can take advantage of the workshops offered by YouTube Spaces to establish a successful foundation on the platform. From lessons on building your channel to learning physical production, these workshops will help your nonprofit define its strategy and engage subscribers. Then, it’s time to get the cameras rolling! 

Get out of your garage, and get ready to create something amazing. After all, spaces are not just about where we we work -- it’s about what we create there.

Find out more about the YouTube Spaces here. 


To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.

Nonprofit must have signed up for the Google for Nonprofits program and be enrolled specifically in the YouTube for Nonprofits product with a YouTube channel that has at least 1,000 subscribers. Qualifying YouTube channels must be free of copyright and terms of use strikes.


          Bella Communities: Utilizing technology & Google tools to drive "volunteer-ship"        

In 2009, Khoi Pham co-founded Bella Communities to address low-income housing issues and resident supportive services. Today, Bella Communities is harnessing the energy of thousands of community leaders, affordable housing owners, neighbors, nonprofits, resident volunteers, and professionals to offer a meaningful livelihood to their low-income housing tenants.  In addition to providing affordable housing, Bella’s signature program aims to mobilize low-income residents with an economic-opportunity modeled volunteering program. This programs enables residents to engage with other nonprofits, building civic engagement and social capital; improving career and personal skills; and earning rent credits to have financial capability and housing stability. Through this innovative “volunteer-ship” training program, they seek to help families “not just get by but also get ahead.” 

Bella Communities
What was the key to their success? We sat down with Khoi to hear exactly how they utilized technology and Google Apps for Nonprofits to achieve their goals.

Which role does technology play in Bella Communities?

Khoi: It’s critical! Technology allows us to communicate with our constituencies efficiently and cost-effectively which is vital for us. We want to empower our low-income residents with the tools needed to achieve economic development. With Google Apps for Nonprofits, we’ve built our own technology platform serving this objective. We have been able to switch from a desktop, web-based platform to a smart-phone mobile application, increasing engagement and participation from our residents using Google Forms. Most of them have skipped desktop to go mobile first!

Do you think technology has changed the way you work?

Khoi: Absolutely. It allowed us to operate in multiple states, virtually and real time! Communication, collection, and sharing data became seamless and effortless, which is fundamental to keeping pace.

Also Google Apps for Nonprofits has allowed us access to technology without heavy IT costs in order to preserve limited start-up resources and marshal them effectively. Google tools are all cloud-based and do not require us to build an internal IT infrastructure, which has enabled quick adaptability and flexibility to change. I have been amazed by the intuitiveness of the tools and how easily they integrate with one another!

Can you tell us more about your homemade program “Resident Volunteership United Program”?

Khoi: A study by the Corporation for National and Community Service showed that volunteers have a 27% greater chance  of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers? That is precisely why Bella Communities designed and tested an innovative supportive service program to simultaneously tackle both financial empowerment and civic engagement mobilization.  The Resident Volunteership United Program (ReV-UP) engages residents living in low-income communities to volunteer with other non-profit organizations in the immediate neighborhood to build community and economic development..

Google Apps was vital to the deployment of this program — we never would’ve been able to do it without that! It allowed us to manage workflow, and most importantly, it allowed us to gather, collect, and share data to build a case for supporting our program.

How are you measuring the success of this program?

Khoi: Using Google Forms and Google Drive, our low-income residents can easily manage their volunteer records online, as well as share and report their activities to the program managers. For the program pilot years, they contributed nearly 3,500 volunteer hours to their communities and generated earned approximately $21,000 in rent credits for their households.

Want to traverse the IT curve without the huge dollar investments? Find out how your nonprofit can better utilize technology with Google Apps for Nonprofits.

To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate in the nonprofit programs, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.

Bella Communities’ statements are made in connection with receiving free products as a participant in Google for Nonprofits, a program which provides free Google products to qualified nonprofits.


          Introducing new donation tool on YouTube benefiting nonprofits        
YouTube has over a billion users. That’s almost one-third of all people on the Internet. And everyday those users watch hundreds of millions of hours of video, racking up billions of views – which are now billions of opportunities to do good.

We’re excited to announce a brand new tool that U.S. nonprofits can utilize — donation cards on YouTube! Donation cards make it even simpler to raise money for your cause by allowing your viewers to donate directly from your YouTube video. Even better — Google covers the processing fees, so your organization will receive 100% of the money donated. Donation cards on YouTube are currently available for U.S. nonprofits and creators, but we look forward to expanding into other countries, so nonprofits and creators can digitally fundraise across the globe. 

Using donation cards, YouTube creators can also now raise money through their content to both support your cause and make their videos more impactful! Donation cards for creators in the U.S. enable their subscribers and viewers to donate directly from their videos. Creators can choose any United States, IRS-validated 501(c)3 public nonprofit organization. Your nonprofit will receive 100% of the money donated.

Want to see donation cards in action? Check out this video from Madison Beer. 

Now it’s your turn. To help you get started, we’ve put together an outreach toolkit – including email templates, social media templates, and fundraising best practices – to help your nonprofit share the news about donation cards with your supporters and other YouTube creators. With these tools, we hope you’ll empower as many people as possible to learn about your nonprofit and fuel fundraising on your behalf. 

To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate in the YouTube for Nonprofit Program, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here.

If you are a U.S. nonprofit looking to add donation cards to your YouTube videos, learn more here.
If you are a U.S. YouTube creator looking to fundraise for your favorite cause, learn more here. 

Nonprofits aren't endorsed by YouTube or Google


          Implementation Specialist - PerfectServe        
Knoxville, TN -
EOE STATEMENTWe are an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by
          Implementation Specialist - PerfectServe        
Knoxville, TN - EOE STATEMENTWe are an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by
          How to Improve My Credit Score After a Default?        
Firstly, it is great that you are looking to improve your credit rating. We can all be irresponsible with our money at times. The trick is to learn from your mistakes and understand what you need to do to move forward. I'm sure many of you have asked the question, "How To Improve My Credit Score After A Default", so let's try and answer that for you.

It may not be something you want to hear initially, but often time is the greatest healer when it comes to improving your credit score. In the main, a default will show on your credit file for up to 6 years. This, of course, will severely impact on your ability to secure credit. However, it must be said that there are lenders out there that will lend to applicants with a default. Although, you must be aware that you will undoubtedly be charged a higher rate of interest for credit, than if you had a clean record.

You have the opportunity to check your credit reports for free once a year. So make sure you take advantage of this. Check that your records are up to date and free of any errors. You will find the longer that you have lived at your current address or the longer you have been with your current employer, will have a positive effect on improving your credit score after a default.

During the times that you don't require any credit, please ensure that you keep your finances intact. Always try and stay within your agreed overdraft limit and look to pay your monthly repayments and bills on a timely basis. Any potential lender will always look at your most recent credit history. Even if you have a default registered and a low credit score, the way you manage your accounts after the event will have certain repercussions. By making repayments in full and on time, this will help to improve your credit score and will also show lenders that you now have your finances under control.

There are many differing means and methods to improve your credit score. Don't ever think that having a default registered against you is the end of the world.

You may want to check out how high spending ex college student Chris Brisson went about raising his credit score by 135 points in 37 days. This was with defaults and late-pays registered against him.
          Who Else Has Bad Credit, Can Put No Money Down, & Needs a Mortgage?        
There are countless home loans and mortgages available to people with bad credit who are unable to put any money down as deposit. As someone who is new to the home buying process, you may be totally unaware of what help is available to you.

The sub-prime mortgage market is open to homebuyers with a poor credit history, those who have been made bankrupt or have even faced foreclosure. These types of lenders specialize in securing home loans for those who are struggling. Another fascinating fact is that many sub-prime lenders may be able to offer more favourable terms and interest rates than a conventional mortgage lender.

Two of the types of products that these lenders can offer are 100% financing and also 103% finance. The 100% finance mortgage is intended for those who have no money to put down and need to get their foot on the home buying ladder. This is also a great way for you to demonstrate that you have the ability to pay your monthly repayments in full and on time. This, of course will help to rebuild your poor credit rating. In most cases to secure a 100% loan you will be required to have a credit rating of least 580.

The 103% financing is aimed at people who not only have no money to put down, but require assistance in paying the associated costs and fees with your mortgage. In order to secure the 103% service, you will be required to have a minimum credit score of 600.

Even though having Bad Credit and no money to put down may seem like the end of your dream of securing a mortgage, it need not be.

Take this opportunity to see what others who have bad credit, can put no money down, but need a mortgage, have done.

Perhaps you need to improve your credit score first. In that case please grab a copy of your Free Report on the 6 Deadly Credit Repair Myths.
          How To Dispute An Inaccurate Credit Report Entry With This Letter!        
Are you in the process of trying to improve your credit rating? Maybe you have ordered your credit report and found one or a number of discrepencies. If you have ever wondered how to dispute an inaccurate credit report entry, then sit back, read, and off course, then use your own version of the following letter:-

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please find enclosed a copy of my most recent credit report. I am writing to you in connection with an inaccurate entry listed on my report.

My name is Sam Renstaff. My current address is 53 Santa Barbara Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 53568. My date of birth is May 12th 1972.

The details of the inaccurate listing are as follows:-

MBNA Mastercard - 5301 2264 XXXX XXXX
Default registered - 07/08
Balance - -$5346

I would ask you to please investigate the above mentioned account. Once you have liaised with the creditor in question, you will discover that this account does not belong to me.

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended in October 2001, you have 30 days to investigate this matter fully and remove any inaccurate information held on my credit file.

Upon the completion of your investigation, please write to me at my registered address with the outcome. I also request that you forward my updated and corrected credit report for my records.

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance in this matter.

Yours Faithfully
Sam Renstaff

You have access to a free credit report once a year from the three credit reporting agencies. Make sure you take this opportunity to check your credit report regularly for an errors or discrepancies. You now also have access to a letter on how to dispute a credit report.
          Horner: 2017 regs a missed opportunity        
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Formula 1 is missing an opportunity to draw up regulations for 2017 he feels would 'sort the men out from the boys'
          Le mete turistiche in Europa più gluten-free        
Chiedere agli amici, in rete o consultare gli elenchi delle associazioni locali gluten-free è un ottimo sistema per capire quali opzioni senza glutine sono disponibili nelle varie capitali europee, ma automatizzare questo tipo di ricerca permette di; guadagnare molto tempo di scoprire delle vere e proprie “opportunità culinarie” nascoste di scoprire posti senza glutine non […]
          The Championship - 21st April        
Sam Norris is joined by Pete Farries to look ahead to the best betting opportunities in this weekends round of Championship fixtures.
          Comment on Episode 210: Characterization by William Palmer        
Nice episode, I feel like y'all only scratched the surface on this one. I like the idea of characterization coming in the moment, from choices. So in a RPG context every time you have to make a choice or speak in character (which I guess is a choice) you decide in that moment who your character is, based on what has come before, and then from the directors stance, what you want to happen. in a video game context like Mass Effect every time you come to a decision point, the game is asking you to characterize your version of its protagonist to be either Paragon, neutral or correct. :) As much as we'd like perfect consistency, characterization changes (outside of intentional character arcs) whether we want it to or not. This comes from the gaps between play sessions, differences in our emotional play state (bleed), and the (almost necessarily) fluid nature of characters in the shared imagined landscape. This isn't a bad thing most of the time because it's minor and we modify our characters slightly based on the outcomes we as players would like to see. In a recent game of Eclipse Phase I just ran over Roll20 I had all the characters introduce themselves with a dream sequence. I made it very clear that this was to be an opportunity for solo storytelling and had everyone else follow the microscope rules of shutting up and not helping as to preserve a unique vision. It went over really well, even if we had a few more pauses for thought than normal, and even over Roll20 the characterization was very clear and shined through. That's another thing, characterization is much easier in person or through text than it is online which has always been one of my bigger pet peeves with online gaming. In person you get to use all of your senses, through text you get to expound as much as you'd like, online you're normally restricted to voice and actions. It makes you work harder and practice which brings a lot to in person games. Yet another thing, how quickly does a character come to you? Are most NPCs at the same level of characterization in their first min of screen time as say an ApoWo character? Obviously we know more about the ApoWo character but does that come through right away or do you build that character up with every interaction/decision? I would say the later. Another way to say that would be: Are most characters defined more by what's on their sheets or what's in our heads? Could y'all post a link to 183 days from the rants section? I seem to be having trouble finding it. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#newwindow=1&q=183+days+rpg Oh, have y'all ever Janked (that's now a thing, I'm making it a thing) about practicing for RPGs? If not, I have a potentially stupid topic for a cast, Do You Practice for RPGs? We practice writing, tennis, medicine, improv, calculus, sex, woodworking, and juggling; why not RPGs? This may be something that I'm alone in doing but I first took up acting in local theater partially because I thought it would bring something to my "craft" of role-playing. A lot of the time when I'm watching movies (especially bad but interesting ones like "In Time" or Divergent) I'm thinking about how I would translate that into a game (Fate conversion and Misspent Youth in those cases) and I'm logging away interesting choices or details that I can later bring back to the table. Staying in genre can be difficult when you have 5 different peoples conceptions of what noir is. But when you reference a movie or book everyone is familiar with then people are suddenly on the same page both conceptually and thematically. In general when I'm about to play in a game, or even worse run one, I often immerse myself in fiction of that genre to get it right. which seems like practicing a genre for an RPG to me. I've watched more than a few online videos on voice acting (see Roll20 stuff above). My bedside readers are fiction and things like Long-Form Improv by Hauck and Writing 21st Century Fiction by Maass. I've even run experimental one shots before to test out narrative concepts, like extreme flashbacks that only tie in tangentially to the main story, or practice something else unusual. I've never really retroactively declared anything longer than a one shot practice before but my first couple of fumbling forays into RPGs with D&D (because of coarse it was D&D) could certainly be called practice. I know RPGs aren't supposed to have a goal per se but what I'm striving for are improvisational stories that surprise me, thrill me, and touch my heart. What I'm after is a fluid game with little overt communication about it between players in the moment (all I'm asking for is mind reading here!). What I desire is a game that could be written down and sold as a good book and I feel like that takes practice. I practice to impress others, I practice to feel more relaxed and confident, but most importantly I practice to have a more distilled, better quality of fun. P.S. Your'e welcome for the text wall!
          Why Investors Must Push Harder for Greater Diversity on Corporate Boards        
Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that expands women’s opportunities in business, released a 2011 study on Fortune 500 companies that showed a lack of diversity in the boardrooms, with women holding only 16.1% of board seats. Women of color hold only … Continue reading
          Drummer Jonathan Barber, Hartt School Alum, Heads Japan Tour         



-- photos by Lauren Desberg, Urška Lukovnjak and John Salatto

Announcement via Jonathan Barber:

I am thrilled to announce my 1st International Tour under my own name. This tour will be in one of my favorite places in the world..... Japan.

I shall call this tour the "Drums Around The World Tour." Joining me: Pianist Taber Gable and Bassist Joshua Crumbly. Grateful for this opportunity to share and spread my musical voice across the world.

May 12(fri) Lifetime / Shizuoka city

May 13(sat) Body & Soul / Tokyo

May 14(sun) Le club jazz / Kyoto city

May 15(mon) Le club jazz/ Kyoto city

May 17(wed) Star eyes / Nagoya city

May 19(fri) Swing hall / Musashino city Tokyo

May 20(sat) Pit inn / Tokyo

This is just the beginning... Vision Ahead 2017

#drumsaroundtheworld

More details coming soon...

  • Featured in Modern Drummer




  • Cool Justice photo by JOHN SALATTO
    #KrisAllen Quartet 3-12-16 #ButtonwoodTree, #Middletown CT: Kris Allen, alto and soprano saxophones; #FrankKozyra, tenor saxophone; #MattDwonszyk, bass; #JonathanBarber, drums. Original music from “Beloved” on #TruthRevolutionRecords (June 2016).


  • Jonathan Barber Drum Feature "Moontrane"


  • Barber website


  • Barber Facebook


  •           Resistance at Standing Rock: Dispatches from the Front Lines        

    UPDATES:





  • Water Protector Legal Collective Files Suit for Excessive Force against Peaceful Protesters


  • Veterans to Serve as ‘Human Shields’ for Dakota Pipeline Protesters



  • Oceti Sakowin encampment on Oct. 6, 2016. The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Oceti Sakowin, (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win) meaning Seven Council Fires.








    Story and Photos by John Briggs

    Cool Justice Editor's Note: OK to repost, courtesy of John Briggs and The Cool Justice Report.







    Corporate – Government Alliance Versus the American People

    Native Americans from tribes across the country have gathered on the windswept plains of North Dakota to pray with Mother Earth to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from pumping 500,000 gallons of oil a day beneath the Missouri River. The natives know the pipeline will most certainly leak or break, as have most U.S. pipelines, fouling the water for the Great Sioux Nation and 18 million non-Natives downstream.

    The standoff -- which began in April -- continues as a new U.S. administration ascends to power with a president-elect who campaigned denying human-caused climate change and threatening the Paris Climate accords. This remains the overriding reality despite a mini walk back by Donald Trump pledging an open mind to The New York Times this week.

    Standing Rock illuminates the brazen alliance that has developed between corporate and government interests. Viewed from the front lines, the law has been turned into a fig leaf for repression and suppression. Only the discipline and spiritual clarity of the water protectors and the native elders has kept people from being killed or seriously injured since April when the movement began.

    The fused police-DAPL force is doing everything it can to incite a violent reaction from the resisters so as to crack down, clear the camps, imprison, or even gun down the natives. More than one commentator has found the atmosphere at Standing Rock similar to what led to the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 when 300 Sioux were murdered by government troops who mistook their prayerful Ghost Dance for a war dance.

    A great deal is at issue at Standing Rock. The Sioux and their numerous native and non-native allies face a militarized force whose composition tells us something dark about the complex façade that U.S. democracy has become and suggests the proto-fascist zombi lurking beneath. More deeply, Standing Rock also emblemizes a struggle that is taking place at this moment in human history between two distinct modes of human consciousness.

    One mode is the familiar anthropocentric (human-centered) consciousness that the dominant culture most of us were born into favors—a consciousness that assumes reality is a collection of objects to be extracted, owned, and branded. Humans are the focus of this consciousness, meaning that our concerns about climate change focus primarily on the fate of our own species.

    Distinct from this anthropocentric mind-set is a second, ancient and spiritual mode of awareness that understands that the earth and its landscapes are not objects; they are relationships, including the tangle of relationships that gave us birth. This ancient mode of consciousness is potential in everyone, but for most it has been buried beneath the piles of conceptual objects that we have come to believe constitute our reality.

    The Indigenous Peoples gathered at Standing Rock are guided by this ancient, holistic, earth-mind consciousness, and so they understand that humans are not the most valuable living objects on the planet: we are not in control of the planet; it is not our job to manage nature; rather, our sacred task is to work with Mother Earth and other beings as members of Earth’s family. If we don’t, Mother Earth will make us face this spiritual truth one way or another.

    Guided by their ancient, earth-mind awareness, Native Americans have taken up a role as “water protectors.” “Mni Wiconi, Water is Life” is the slogan of the Standing Rock movement.

    Every day scores of Sioux from North Dakota, South Dakota and nearby states, along with Paiute, Shoshoni, Diné, and a sampling of other Natives from the 300 or so tribes whose flags fly at the Standing Rock encampments set out to pipeline construction sites in a convoy to engage in “actions” on the “front lines.”

    There the protectors sing and pray in the face of physical harassment and arrests by heavily armed police fused with a corporate security force.

    DAPL and their overlord company, Energy Transfer Partners, have lavished campaign contributions on politicians in North Dakota and the U.S. Congress so that they could use the state’s eminent domain powers to force purchase of land for the pipeline all across North Dakota, beginning in the Bakken fields in the northwest corner of the state where the fracked crude oil is extracted. Similar eminent domain arrangements were achieved in other states through which the 1,200-mile line traverses before reaching a river port in Illinois. The company promised Congress and the public that the pipeline would carry oil for 100 percent domestic use only, but it is clear from reporting done by the website The Intercept that the oil will be sold on international markets.

  • Though Promised for Domestic Use, Dakota Access Pipeline May Fuel Oil Exports


  • The DAPL line, now virtually complete except for permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill in the link that crosses under the Missouri River, passes just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The DAPL construction runs through sacred burial and archeological grounds that the Lakota people were given free access to by treaties with the U.S. Government in the 19th Century. In mounting their resistance to the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux have been turned into “trespassers on their own land.”

    In late August, the tribe’s lawyers filed a stop work petition in federal court detailing areas where sacred sites would be disturbed if construction continued on its planned trajectory. The federal judge routinely forwarded a copy of the filing to DAPL. Over Labor Day weekend, when the company would not have been expected to work, pipeline crews leapfrogged to the disputed sacred and preemptively bulldozed them under. Too late, the judge granted the Sioux an emergency restraining order, but, then in a curious move, allowed construction in some areas where sacred sites have been discovered. DAPL has ignored a request from the Obama administration not to work in buffer areas on either side of the river. No fines have been imposed for intentionally bulldozing the disputed sacred sites.

  • The Legal Case for Blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline


  • Burial ground at center of police confrontations is known historical site


  • In recent live-stream videos from the front lines, DAPL-police snipers can be seen perched on top of a sacred mound called Turtle Island, their high-powered rifle crosshairs trained on the water protectors who are standing in prayer in the frigid lake below.

    North Dakota wants the federal government to pick up the tab for the massive expenditures required to keep the Native Americans under their guns. Alternatively, the CEO of Energy Transfers, Kelcy Warren, has offered to pick up the millions-of-dollars tab.

  • ETP CEO Kelcy Warren Says They Have Offered to Pay Protest Related Expenses


  • Native media have documented that DAPL has already been supplying military-style equipment, drones, armored vehicles, riot gear, water canons, concussion grenades and other armaments. The tax-payer-funded and corporate-sponsored front lines phalanx is led by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, which has local jurisdiction, reinforced by North Dakota State Troopers, North Dakota National Guard units, sheriffs and police from six nearby states—all interpenetrated by DAPL security (while the FBI lurks in the background). A contingent of Hennepin County, Minnesota, Sheriffs’ Deputies were recalled following protests back home. Residents in the state of Ohio are writing letters and calling legislators to express their distress that their law enforcement has been enlisted into this repressive force.

  • Hennepin Co. sheriff's deputies leave Standing Rock protest


  • Native media’s live stream videos show DAPL security teams in mirror-visor helmets and black ops body armor with no identification, mingling with the police, sometimes directing them when and who to mace or pepper spray. They point out media making video for arrest. The big fossil fuel company evidently has plenty of experience dealing with protestors around the world. In their blank, reflecting visors we can see the soulless Darth Vader face of the government-corporate proto-fascist state the U.S. is becoming.

    Of course, this struggle with the Wasi’chu (Lakota word for the white man, meaning literally “takes too much”) is an old story for Native-Americans. In the 18th and 19th centuries it took the form of the Sioux nations trying to hold back the tsunami of colonizers flooding into their ancestral lands, occupying and despoiling them. The big difference now is that the fire-power of the state (think Custer’s 7th Cavalry or present day militarized police) has been fused with vast profit centers dependent for their existence on plundering the earth in the name of energy-squandering lifestyle survival.

    The provocations the water protectors endure take many forms. There is the psychological pressure of constant surveillance: the heavy police presence on the roads around tribal and reservation lands, the DPLA helicopter and a small plane that circle constantly above the encampments; there is the Bureau of Indian Affairs station set up on a knoll to suck out data from the cell phones of anyone in the area. There is the pepper spraying and tasing of water protectors who are praying. There is the more recent blasting of the protectors with freezing water canons in sub zero weather. There is the constant threat of weapons pointed at them. One twitching trigger finger could set off a slaughter.

    The water protectors are unarmed. The resistance movement does not allow guns in the encampments. One day, at one of the front line actions, an armed man showed up with a pistol and began firing. Possibly he was paid by DAPL to create an incident. The Natives are aware of paid provocateurs or agitators passing through the camps, pulling dirty tricks, looking to start something. Antimedia reported about the man with the gun: “According to an official statement from the tribe, the man fired several shots from his gun before being peacefully apprehended by tribal police. Witnesses at the scene say he pointed his gun at several protesters. The man was clearly trying to provoke violence that could later be used to demonize protesters who have so far remained peaceful.”

    The news site added, “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department circulated a false report claiming the man was shot, presumably by protesters… [As images show], the man was not harmed. The Sheriff’s Department has since retracted that report. Anti-Media’s attempts to obtain clarifying comments from Morton County Sheriffs were ignored.”

  • Dakota Access Caught Infiltrating Protests to Incite Violence, Funding Trolls Online


  • On a hill overlooking Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the Standing Rock encampments, an old army tent houses the field office of the rotating teams of lawyers who come to Standing Rock to help out. They use donations made to the resistance to bail out protectors who have been arrested; they try to negotiate with the police so the protectors can be allowed to pray. The constant arrests on trumped-up charges are an ongoing harassment—people maced or beaten, violently thrown to the ground and zip-tied. Often activists are charged with trespass and “riot” on the Morton County Sheriff’s novel legal theory that if several people are arrested for trespass that must signify that they were engaged in a riot.

    All this naturally requires court time and money to defend, incarceration in usually unpleasant conditions, including dog kennels. (Though the white allies who are arrested seem to get better treatment.)

    Arrests are to be expected as a consequence of civil disobedience. But some arrests are directed at chilling speech. One lawyer who came to Standing Rock from the Oregon-based Civil Liberties Defense Center, an activist defense nonprofit primarily involved in climate protests, https://cldc.org/ told Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks Network that often after the day’s action was over, police would stop the last cars in the caravan. They would then make “snatch and grab” arrests, impounding the cars of people who had come to support the water protectors but had no expectation that they’d be arrested when the action was over and the police told them to leave. They have to pay heavy fines ($900) to get their cars back. She said the arrests and impoundment fines for their cars are unlawful. “The intention with those types of actions is to scare out-of-towners from being comfortable coming to these actions. So they’re trying to chill the rights of others to come and participate in these protests.”

  • Environmental Lawyer Explains Standing Rock Legal Issues




  • The authorities regularly characterize the natives as terrorists, and local radio spreads false rumors of farm animals being slaughtered and stolen, reported vandalism—the kind of thing you would expect from psychologically projected homesteader fears about savage Indians of earlier centuries.

    Yes, Magazine on Oct. 31 reported: “The county sheriff is claiming the water protectors were violent and that police were stopping a riot. But hours of live video feed from people caught in the confrontation showed instead a military-style assault on unarmed people: police beating people with batons, police with assault rifles, chemical mace, guns firing rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, tasers.”

  • Why Police From 7 Different States Invaded a Standing Rock Camp—and Other Questions


  • The UN has sent human rights observers. According to Salon, Nov. 16, 2016: “The U.N. special rapporteur said that American law enforcement officials, private security firms and the North Dakota National Guard have used unjustified force against protesters.

    “ ‘This is a troubling response to people who are taking action to protect natural resources and ancestral territory in the face of profit-seeking activity,’ [Maina] Kiai [U.N. special rapporteur] said in his statement, which was issued by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and was endorsed by several other U.N. experts.

  • Native Americans facing excessive force in North Dakota pipeline protests – UN expert


  • “At least 400 activists have been detained and often have been held in ‘inhuman and degrading conditions in detention,’ Kiai added. Some indigenous protesters have said they were treated like animals and even held in dog kennels.

  • Dakota pipeline protesters say they were detained in dog kennels; 268 arrested in week of police crackdown


  • “ ‘Marking people with numbers and detaining them in overcrowded cages, on the bare concrete floor, without being provided with medical care, amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment,’ the U.N. expert said.

    “ ‘The excessive use of State security apparatus to suppress protest against corporate activities that are alleged to violate human rights is wrong,’ he continued, noting that it violates U.N. guidelines on business and human rights.

    “Amnesty International USA, which has repeatedly criticized authorities for not respecting the rights of protesters, issued another statement on Tuesday noting that U.S. authorities had put up roadblocks to prevent journalists and human rights observers from documenting the protests and the official response.”

  • U.N. experts call for halt in Dakota Access pipeline, blast “excessive force” against protesters


  • Living on Earth reporter Sandy Tolan reflected: “You know, at times I felt I was back reporting in the West Bank, and not the Northern Plains…”

  • Standing With the Standing Rock Sioux


  • The Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians

    Compare the government response at Standing Rock with the response occasioned by Ammon Bundy and his gang of armed militants when they occupied Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for over a month in January 2016. Imagine if the Bundy gang had been pepper sprayed, beaten, hit with water cannon, tased. But the Bundy crew were taking over the refuge to proclaim their belief that public lands should be given free to the profit-making private ranching business. In other words, the Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians.

    The mainstream corporate media has largely ignored the stand-off at Standing Rock. Rallies have taken place around the world at places like Tokyo, Stockholm, and Auckland, but the sad truth is many foreigners have heard more about Standing Rock than Americans have. Not surprising. The news editors, working for corporate media conglomerates, choose what they believe we should know and what fits the larger corporate agenda, and so they devote massively more play to Brad Pitt, to the gossipy politics of who’s-on-first, and to whatever the latest glittering consumer thing is than they do to climate change and issues highlighted by the poor and the powerless, like Standing Rock. What coverage that does exist is usually cursory and misleading.

    Fortunately, alternative media have been on the scene and active at Standing Rock. As someone who taught journalism for more nearly 20 years, it has been refreshing for me to see what the alternative press is accomplishing.

    Amy Goodman of the webcast Democracy Now brought the prayer-resistance movement to national attention over the summer. She was arrested and charged with riot in absentia for her live reports of water protectors being set upon by dogs. The charge was later dismissed in court.

    Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks Network has done searching interviews and incisive commentary from the scene.

    But my absolute favorite news source at Standing Rock is Myron Dewey’s Digital Smoke Signals. Dewey does updates every day, which he posts on Facebook. I highly recommend anyone who has a Facebook account to “follow” him. I went to Standing Rock on Oct. 4-11 with two friends and I have since been able to keep up with developments on the ground through Dewey’s Facebook broadcasts. He posts live stream unedited clips that constitute what he calls an ongoing “documentation” of what is happening day-to-day at the movement.

    Here is Dewey at night standing on a hillside next to the Oceti Sakowin encampment. His face appears in the glow of his screen. Then he’s panning and zooming in on a large grassfire as he’s telling us about it. His finger appears in the screen and points out where the fire started. He says the helicopter which constantly circulates over the camp suddenly disappeared 20 minutes before they saw the first flames. He zooms to the area where he and the person he is with first spotted the fire. He says, “It looked like someone using a drip torch.” He says they called 911, but it’s been over an hour and the Morton County Fire Department hasn’t shown up. He tells the people in the camp, his audience, not to worry, though. It looks like the fire was started by DAPL employees to scare them or hurt them. But the Oceti Sakowin is full of Indians who supplement their income by wild-land firefighting, work that also benefits Mother Earth; he mentions that he is himself a “hotshot” firefighter [one of the elite crews]. He and his fellow firefighters can tell by the wind direction that the fire won’t harm the camp.

    Now here’s Dewey on a bright morning walking along the road by Oceti Sakowin. A young man appears on screen, and Dewey asks him who he is and why he’s here. He’s from the Paiute nation. “I’m here to protect the water,” he says. Dewey asks him to sing a Paiute song. The young man closes his eyes and sings.

    In another nighttime broadcast find we ourselves looking through a car windshield, headlights illuminating the highway, centerlines whizzing by. We hear voices talking in the backseat. The car drives on and on. We’re just watching the road. Then ahead is a police roadblock. The police van looms. Dewey gets out with his camera and calls over to the officers, asks them where they’re from, inquires about where the road blocks are, what are the open routes. At one level it’s a mundane exchange between a citizen and police, but you experience the edginess of the situation. More deeply, you feel the riskiness and pathos that is involved any human interaction. Dewey firmly exercises his right to have these protect-and-serve police respond to him civilly; he is cordial and respectful in a way that reinforces to them and to his viewers that he is after all not their enemy but a fellow human being. Dewey asks more questions and the lead officer says he doesn’t want to be filmed; Dewey offers to turn his camera away from them and onto himself. The distant officers disappear from the screen and Dewey’s face fills it. The contact officer walks nearer; we can hear his voice. Dewey can’t resist a joke, though. He asks the officer if he’s sure he doesn’t want to become famous by putting his face on Dewey’s screen? You realize these are just guys doing their job. Dewey understands that, but he also wants to educate them about the water protectors’ mission. He never misses an opportunity to educate his adversary, as well as his own people about the larger dimensions of the Standing Rock resistance. When he gets back in the car, someone in the back seat says “Let’s get out of here; this is enemy territory.” Dewey laughs, turning the car around, “It’s not enemy territory.”

    I believe you learn more about Standing Rock by watching Dewey’s unedited video than you ever could from watching any number of dramatically produced, commercially constricted reports on CNN, complete with the drumb-drumb latest crisis theme music.

    Dewey explains to his viewers that what they’re seeing is a “documentation” that’s not edited. “It’s not scripted. It’s not acted out.”

    After a month of watching Dewey’s daily reports I realize more fully than I ever have before how ghastly and vacuous mainstream news reporting is: a production where facts have been emptied of the humanity of real encounters, replaced by the shallow performances of reporters and news sources, slick, clichéd phrasing, behavior slotted into ready made categories, events analyzed and even predigested. The news about reality comes to us compartmentalized in trays like tasteless microwave dinners. Rarely is the reader or viewer allowed to simply experience the event unfolding through the reporter’s eyes or camera. The stories are crafted and slickly packaged. Their very polish and stimulating presentation sabotages their meaning and replaces it with a meaningless, artificial understanding.

    Note that I am not saying that the news these days is politically biased. Some obviously is, but the left or right bias charge is a serious red herring, a mis-direction. In fact, in mainstream media’s very effort to appear neutral and unbiased means events are chopped up and pieced together to fit the templates of a few hackneyed forms of storytelling: the winner-loser story, the conflict story, the individual overcoming obstacles story, the facing bad choices stories, he-said, she-said stories, scandal stories, hypocrisy stories. You’ve seen them all, repeatedly.

    Most of these templates come plated with a cynicism, skepticism, superiority, or sentimentality that grabs our attention by adding a dash of disgust. The current journalistic manner of telling stories reduces and dismisses the story in a way that sometimes makes the commercials and pop-up ads come as a relief. None of the common journalistic templates or attitude has much to do with real life as it’s lived in the moment. It’s not what people really experience in their lives. Instead, it’s how they’ve been conditioned to wrap up experience afterward in a dramatized way that leaches out the nuance, that leaves out the moment-to-moment uncertainty, or as the Lakota call it, the Wakan, the deep mystery of relationships that permeates every event. And that’s what Dewey’s broadcasts have in abundance. You get to see him interacting with the people who show up on his screen. You get to feel his humanity and the mystery of everyday relationships taking place at Standing Rock that he brings to light. It’s certainly not dramatic or melodramatic. It’s not interesting or stimulating in the usual way. It does seem really important.

    So when Dewey sits in his parked car and does an update video on “10 things to know about DAPL” (Nov. 18, 2016), there’s no editing and no script, meaning that you get to see him thinking through what those top 10 things might be. Some points he makes are incisive and comic, others not so much. But the not-so-much ones can lead you to thinking about gray areas, the imprecise observations we all make. He asks a guy who just got in the car to help out with his list and the guy, William Hawk Birdshead, goes immediately serious on him until Dewey says, “I was trying to keep it light.” So the Birdshead says, “Laughter is good medicine.” Suddenly they’re off. Dewey mimics the shifty-eyed look of the FBI guys lurking around the area and denying they are FBI, the DAPL security characters trying to look all steely and tough. We learn that in the encampments they say that “DAPL dresses up like Ninja Turtles.” You can tell that it’s DAPL undercover because those guys never drive rez cars, which are rusted and dented. Nobody is spared. Dewey describes the water protectors just arriving from California as dudes who’ve “got their animal spirits on… They’re all furred up. They’re coming in all mystical and crystals.” He and his buddy laugh, which Dewey says is laughter “in a good way,” because the whole thing going on at Standing Rock is deadly serious but you need laughter, because that’s good medicine for healing. And healing and praying are about “getting reconnected with the Earth.”

    This points to a major difference between anthropocentric prayer as most of us know it and earth-mind prayer. In the prayer that most people are familiar with, an individual seeks intercession for human needs with a transcendent being. The Native prayer is about healing not getting. The prayer is a community ceremony or song or ritual to maintain or restore the balance between and among beings, both animate and inanimate. Prayer is to all my relatives, all my relations, the birds, the water, the wind, the buffalo, my family, even those who oppose me as enemies. Mitakuye Oyasin is an important Lakota phrase that means “all my relations.” When you’re watching a Dewey update from Standing Rock you’re experiencing Mitakuye Oyasin in action. It’s newscasting as a kind of prayer, in the earth-mind sense. Whether he’s engaging in laughter or educating about the spiritual importance of water, you can see that what he’s getting at is healing relationships. Watching and listening, you get to be part of that healing.

    What Dewey does goes way beyond advocacy journalism.

    Our traveling companion for our visit to Standing Rock, Lakota elder Tiokasin Ghosthorse, also provides a good way to keep up with developments through the interviews he conducts for his weekly syndicated broadcast from WPKN in Bridgeport Conn. and WBAI in New York City. On Oct. 31, 2016, Tiokasin interviewed a young man who was seized on Oct. 27 when a frontline camp was destroyed by police. Trenton Joseph Castillas Bakeberg, in the bloodline of Crazy Horse, was praying in a sweat lodge when the militarized police swept through the camp. They yanked him out of the sweat lodge and arrested him. The young water protector told Tiokasin:

    “I pray that we’ll be able to keep a state of prayer and peace, as we have been… Although there’s some people on our side are more likely to tend toward violence. But there’s also people on our side to stop them. Don’t start a fight. That’s what it’s all about, keeping it peaceful because the elders told us in the beginning that all it takes is one single act of violence, one person attacking a police officer and they’ll unleash the fear on all of us. This wrath that we have with our military overseas, we’re beginning to see it now in the heart of our own country. All for the greed and the corporate interests of this government. They say we’re a democracy but it’s not showing anymore. The people didn’t want this pipeline, but this foreign entity that they call a corporation, Energy Transfers, is saying, we don’t care. We want this money. We need this for economic stability of the country and that somehow trumps the interests of our communities and our nation as a whole….We’re standing up to this corporate machine with prayer and love.”

  • Forcibly removed from prayer at Standing Rock


  • Against a heavily armed, corporatized democracy designed to ensure that only powerful business and political elites rule the land and possess the wealth of its objects, the Native-American people at Standing Rock stand in defense of Mother Earth armed with songs, prayers, and an understanding that Earth’s objects are us, and we are them. They are our relatives. It seems better armament than most of us Wasi’shu possess. Webster defines fascism as “a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted.” It’s an incendiary word, and readers might think ill of me for introducing it here. Certainly we are not a fascist state yet. But for the prayer-resistance at Standing Rock, the clear alliance between corporate and government interests to quell their opposition under color of the law has a fascist flavor.

    It should not surprise anyone that the new US president reportedly holds stocks that directly fund the Dakota Access Pipeline and that the DAPL CEO Kelcy Warren gave the Trump campaign a substantial donation.

  • Trump's Personal Investments Ride on Completion of Dakota Access Pipeline


  • This is how the proto-fascism works. Ironically (or perhaps absurdly), Trump may have been elected by people hoping he would somehow counter the tightening grip of multinational corporations on their lives. One might wish for that to happen.

    At a deep level, Standing Rock may suggest that such absurdities as a Trump presidency occur because our mode of consciousness is impaired or inadequate to the situation it has created on our planet at this historical time. Too many of us have gone dead to the natural world we come from. Our obsessive anthropocentric mode of consciousness has reduced nature and reality at large to a bunch of things we have names for—things that feed our greed. Fortunately, many Indigenous people have retained an acute and ancient consciousness that we are those rocks and trees and clouds, and birds and water that we see outside our windows, and that restoring our relationships with them is incumbent on us.

    John Briggs is emeritus distinguished Professor of Writing and Aesthetics from Western Connecticut State University. He was the English Department’s journalism coordinator for 18 years and was one of the founders of Western’s Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process. He is the author of several well-known books on chaos theory, fractals and creativity. He lives in the hilltown of Granville, Mass., where served as a Selectman for five years and as reserve police officer for 10 years.


    When people at Standing Rock talk about the black snake they mean the pipeline, referring to an old Sioux legend about a black snake that will threaten the end of the world. The Lakota prophet Black Elk said that in the seventh generation, the Sioux tribes would unite to save the world.

    Media covering the Standing Rock resistance movement:

  • Digital Smoke Signals


  • Myron Dewey, Facebook


  • The Antimedia


  • Democracy Now


  • The Intercept


  • The Guardian


  • Censored News


  • Unicorn Riot


  • Living on Earth


  • The Indigenous Environmental Network


  • Status of Standing Rock court claim



  •           Burn After Reading        

    Who’s Who
    What’s What

    In the World of CIA Fronts, Partners, Proprietaries & Contractors




    NEW BOOK:

    The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries & Contractors
    By WAYNE MADSEN
    ISBN: 978-1-365-11196-9


    Cool Justice Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from author Madsen's introduction and the body of the work. Additional suggested reading: News story about Madsen's book via the Washington, D.C. based Justice Integrity Project [link at the bottom of this post].

    EXCERPTS:

    From the Introduction


    One of the most pervasive uses of companies as intelligence partners was under the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD. During the Cold War, the CIA, often with the approval of corporate executives, infiltrated their agents to work as journalists in newspapers, radio and television networks, wire services, and magazines. The following pages in this book are rife with examples of this penetration of the Fourth Estate – all too many in the opinion of this journalist. The CIA admitted to at least 400 journalists on the agency’s payroll at the height of MOCKINGBIRD. The CIA traditionally understates its capabilities, especially when its covert activities become publicly known. Moreover, the end of the Cold War did not stop the practice of the CIA in infiltrating the media and slant news reports to its wishes.

    *

    An insightful look behind the veils of secrecy into the CIA’s use of fronts, proprietaries, and partners calls into question the purpose of the CIA. Created by President Harry S Truman to serve as a central collector and repository of intelligence, the CIA became much more than that. A few weeks after the United States witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy in the middle of downtown Dallas, Truman penned an op-ed piece that appeared in several newspapers around the country. In it, Truman shared his regret for having created the CIA in 1947:

    “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA . . . For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

    "I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue.”

    *

    The 21st century’s CIA’s partners are more likely to be found among high-tech companies marketing the latest and greatest mobile applications and data mining programs than among banks, law offices, and advertising agencies. However, in the post-World War II era, the CIA’s top and middle echelons were normally found operating through cover as typewriter-pecking journalists, traveling Madison Avenue admen, corporate lawyers, and chain-smoking oilmen. In the 1970s and 80s, CIA contractors and partners began showing up in the high-tech field, with database, local area networking, and on-line information retrieval systems attracting the most interest by Langley.

    *

    As this book went to press, the smart phone game application Pokémon Go fad was sweeping the planet. Unbeknownst to many of the on-line game’s avid fan’s was the connection of the game’s developers to the CIA’s venture capital firm IN-Q-TEL. All users saw their geo-location and other smart phone data being swept up by a CIA partner firm.

    SELECTED ENTRIES

    Amazon, Inc. [CIA contractor]. Company provides cloud computing services for the CIA. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

    American Historical Society. [CIA partner]. Many society officials were OSS/CIA officers.

    American Press Institute. [CIA front]. Operating out of Columbia University, the institute’s director in the 1950s was a CIA officer.

    AmeriCares. [CIA partner]. A non-profit organization that is often the “first in” at refugee situations. Founded by tycoon J. Peter Grace, a board chairman of the CIA front, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) and a trustee of another CIA front, the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, AmeriCares was involved in funding the Nicaraguan contras. The group has also provided the CIA with recruiting opportunities at mass refugee sites, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

    Bechtel Corporation. [CIA contractor]. Bechtel is a large construction company that has included former CIA director Richard Helms, CIA pseudonym “Fletcher M. Knight,” among its executive ranks. Bechtel was active in providing corporate cover for the OSS in the Middle East during World War II. Bechtel has been a consummate service company for various CIA operations, including support for the CIA-inspired coup against the Syrian government in 1949, the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq in 1953, and President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1965. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Bechtel provided cover for CIA agents in Libya under both the regime of King Idris and his successor, Muammar Qaddafi. Sometimes called a “secret arm” of the CIA, Bechtel’s executives included those who would join President Reagan’s Cabinet, including Secretary of State George Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

    Before World War II, Steve Bechtel formed a military-industrial complex partnership with John McCone. McCone later became the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and later, director of the CIA. The CIA has used Bechtel to provide cover for non-official cover CIA operatives abroad.

    Blackstone Investment Group. [CIA front]. With offices in Washington, DC and Moscow, arranged for the purchase of KGB documents following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among the documents sought by the front company were any related to illegal CIA activities during the Cold War, including the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Bourbon and Beefsteak Bar and Restaurant. [CIA front]. Opened in 1967 in King’s Cross in Sydney, Australia. Served as a rendezvous point for CIA, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and organized crime figures. Its proprietor was Bernie Houghton, a CIA operative with links to Nugan Hand Bank, CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson, and CIA clandestine services officers Theodore Shackley, Rafael Quintero, and Thomas Clines.

    Center for Democracy. [CIA front]. Administered under the aegis of Boston University, the center maintained offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Guatemala City, and Strasbourg, France. Involved in CIA operations in eastern Europe, Central America, and Africa.

    Colt Patent Firearms Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Hartford, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

    Daddario & Burns. [CIA partner]. Headed by former OSS officer Emilio Daddario, a Democratic Representative from Connecticut, the Hartford-based law firm provided services to the CIA.

    DC Comics. [CIA partner]. Worked with the International Military Information Group (IMIG), a joint CIA/Pentagon unit at the State Department, to disseminate propaganda comic books, featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian, to youth in the Balkans during the military conflicts in that region.

    Disney Corporation. [CIA partner]. CIA agents who were adept at creating front companies and shell corporations in Florida, worked closely with Disney in preparation for the construction of Disney World near Orlando, Florida. OSS veteran “Wild Bill” Donovan and CIA shell company expert Paul Helliwell helped create two fake Florida cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, as well as a number of shell corporations, to keep secret the plans for Disney World. This kept land prices low because real estate speculators were unaware of the prospective value of the land in a desolate area of central Florida.

    Emory School of Medicine. [CIA partner]. Located in Atlanta, Georgia. Involved in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA behavioral modification project.

    Enron Corporation [CIA partner]. Houston-based firm that was used by the CIA to provide commercial cover for its agents around the world. There were at least 20 CIA employees on Enron’s payroll. Andre Le Gallo, a former official of the CIA’s Operations Directorate, went to work as a corporate intelligence officer for Enron.

    Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). [CIA front]. Officially established by American Trotskyists, the group was penetrated by CIA operatives. The FPCC New Orleans office was a CIA front that provided cover for the anti-Fidel Castro activities of Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie, among others. The New Orleans FPCC office was located at 544 Camp Street and shared the same building entrance with Guy Banister Associates, Inc., a private detective agency, the address for which was 531 Lafayette Street and around the corner from 544 Camp Street.

    In December 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the FPCC ceased all U.S. operations.

    General Electric Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

    General Foods Corporation. [CIA partner]. Advertising account at CIA’s Robert Mullen Company handled by an active CIA employee.

    Google, Inc. [CIA partner]. Developed as a result of a research grant by the CIA and Pentagon to Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. The CIA referred to the research as the “google project.”

    Greenberg Traurig. [CIA partner]. Washington, DC “connected” law firm.

    Guy Banister Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New Orleans private detective agency headed by former FBI agent Guy Banister. The detective agency coordinated the activities of various anti-Castro Cuban groups in New Orleans, including Banister’s own Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, as well as the Cuban Revolutionary Council, the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, Friends of Democratic Cuba, and the Crusade to Free Cuba Committee.

    Banister and Associates shared office space with the CIA’s New Orleans front, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, headed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Hale and Dorr. [CIA partner]. Boston-based law firm that provided cover for CIA’s Independence and Brown Foundations.

    Halliburton. [CIA contractor]. Based in Houston, it is the world’s largest oil service company. Recipient of a number of CIA sole-source contracts for services worldwide.

    Harper and Row, Inc. [CIA partner]. Manuscripts submitted to the New York publisher that dealt with intelligence matters, particularly CIA operations, were turned over to the CIA for censoring edits before publication.

    Hewlett Packard Corporation. [CIA partner]. Sold computers to Iraq for Saddam Hussein’s missile program with the knowledge and approval of the CIA.

    Hill & Knowlton. [CIA partner]. Public relations firm that teamed with the CIA on a number of operations. Hill & Knowlton’s numerous offices abroad provided cover for CIA agents. One known Hill & Knowlton office that was a CIA front operation was in Kuala Lumpur.

    Kerr-McGee. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating overseas.

    Kissinger Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New York-based international consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft is a co-owner. The firm provided support to the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation and the Bilderberg Group. Much of the 1982 seed money for Kissinger Associates was provided by Goldman Sachs.

    Knight Foundation. [CIA partner]. Also known as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Based in Miami, the foundation provides funding for various CIA-connected media operations in the United States and around the world.

    Kroll Inc. [CIA partner]. Founded in 1972 by Jules Kroll, who had links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. Based in Manhattan. French domestic law enforcement believed Kroll’s Paris office was a CIA front. Kroll handled the security for the World Trade Center after the 1993 terrorist bombing and continued to be responsible for security up to, during, and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Kroll employed former FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism John O’Neill, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.

    Lincoln Savings and Loan. [CIA partner]. Based in Irvine, California and headed by notorious swindler Charles Keating, Jr., involved in laundering funds for the Iran-contra scandal.

    Lone Star Cement Corporation. [CIA partner]. Based in Stamford, Connecticut and linked to the Bush family, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad. Involved in the Iran-contra scandal.

    Mary Carter Paint Company. [CIA front]. A money-laundering operation for the CIA. Involved in casinos in the Bahamas.

    Monsanto. [CIA partner]. The firm contracted with former CIA official Cofer Black’s Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), a subsidiary of the CIA-connected Blackwater USA, later Xe Services, to monitor animal rights groups, anti-genetically modified (GM) food activists, and other groups opposed to Monsanto’s agri-business operations worldwide.

    National Enquirer. [CIA partner]. The tabloid’s founder, Generoso (Gene) Pope, Jr., worked for the CIA’s psychological warfare unit and the agency’s Italy branch in 1950. In 1952, Pope acquired The New York Enquirer broadsheet and transformed it into a tabloid, renaming it The National Enquirer. This transformation bore the imprimatur of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program.

    Newsweek. [CIA partner]. Magazine reporters and stringers fed information to the CIA. Newsweek’s stringers in southeastern Europe and the Far East were CIA agents. When Newsweek was bought by The Washington Post Company in 1961, cooperation between the magazine and the CIA increased. It was a participant in the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program. Much of the staff of Newsweek was absorbed into a new online publication, The Daily Beast, which continues to disseminate CIA-influenced articles. See Washington Post.

    Nieman Foundation. [CIA partner]. Located at Harvard University, the foundation awarded Nieman Fellowships, some on behalf of the CIA, for foreign journalists to study at Harvard. The journalists were subjected to CIA recruitment efforts prior to their returning to their home countries.

    Pamela Martin & Associates. [CIA partner], Escort firm run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “DC Madam.” During her 2008 trial for mail fraud, Palfrey attempted to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act in order to discuss her relationship with the CIA. The U.S. Court refused Palfrey’s request and she was convicted and later said to have committed suicide before her sentencing hearing in Washington, DC. One of her clients was Randall Tobias, the head of the CIA-connected USAID. Another was Louisiana Republican senator David Vitter.

    Paris Review. [CIA front]. Literary magazine edited by George Plimpton. Published works by Jack Kerouac and Samuel Beckett. The magazine’s co-founder, Peter Matthiessen, relied on his affiliation with the magazine as his CIA cover.

    Quaker Oats Company. [CIA partner]. Worked with the CIA and Atomic Energy Commission to place trace amounts of radiation in breakfast cereal served to boys at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts.

    Radio Corporation of America. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Iran, Philippines, Japan, and West Germany. Provided technical assistance to CIA-financed clandestine and propaganda radio stations worldwide, including Radio Free Europe. RCA founder David Sarnoff was a major supporter of CIA operations, including propaganda dissemination around the world. RCA chairman and chief executive officer Thornton F. Bradshaw was active in the operations of the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation.

    Reily Coffee Company. [CIA partner]. Also known as William B. Reily Coffee Company and based in New Orleans, this company employed Lee Harvey Oswald and a number of other U.S. government employees, many of whom were suspected CIA officers.

    Robert M. Mullen Company. [CIA proprietary]. A Washington, DC public relations firm, it was used as a front for CIA activities. E. Howard Hunt, the CIA agent, worked for Robert Mullen when he was arrested in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972. The Senate Watergate Committee reported that “the Mullen and Company has maintained a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency since its incorporation in 1959. It provided covers for agents in Europe (Stockholm), Latin America (Mexico City), and the Far East (Singapore) at the time of the Watergate break-in.”

    Rockefeller Foundation. [CIA partner]. Used by the CIA to direct scholarships and grants to the Third World and Eastern Europe. Rockefeller Foundation money was funneled to the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), created in 1948. The chairman of ACUE was OSS chief William J. Donovan and the vice chairman was Allen Dulles. One of ACUE’s board members was Walter Bedell Smith, the first CIA director.

    Summa Corporation. [CIA partner]. Owned by Howard Hughes, Summa is believed to have skimmed gambling profits from the Sands, Desert Inn, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Castaways, and Landmark casinos in Las Vegas and Harold’s Club in Reno for the CIA and the Mafia. Provided financial cover for the CIA’s Glomar Explorer project.

    Teneo Intelligence. [CIA partner]. Branch of Teneo Holdings, which is headquartered in New York. Teneo Holdings’s intelligence branch includes former CIA officials. Teneo is closely linked to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Teneo Intelligence has offices in New York, London, Rome, Brussels, Dubai, Bogota, New Delhi, and Tokyo.

    Texas Commerce Bank (TCB). [CIA partner]. Houston-based bank founded by the family of James Baker III. Texas Commerce Bank was used to provide commercial cover for CIA agents. After serving as vice president for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas from 1977 to 1979, Jeb Bush joined his father’s presidential campaign in 1980. Serving with Bush on the campaign was Robert Gambino, the CIA deputy director of security who gave Bush his orientation brief at Langley in 1977.

    Kenneth Lay, the chairman of Enron, which had its own links to the CIA, served on the board of Texas Commerce Bank. Texas Commerce Bank was acquired by Chemical Bank in 1987.

    The bank provided major loans to Howard Hughes’s Summa Corporation. See Summa Corporation.

    United Fruit Company [CIA partner]. Involved in 1954 CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz government in Guatemala. Published the Latin America Report, a publication that was a CIA front used for clandestine activities. The CIA transferred weapons to United Fruit employees in Guatemala who were involved in undermining the Arbenz government. The joint CIA-United Fruit plan was code named OPERATION FORTUNE. Company provided an airfield in Guatemala for the CIA’s training of Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

    U.S. Rubber Company. [CIA partner]. Headquartered in Naugatuck, Connecticut and later called Uniroyal, provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad. Included those operating under the cover of the Dominion Rubber Company of Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. Rubber Company.

    U.S. Youth Council (USYC). [CIA front]. Founded in 1945 and based in New York. Some 90 percent of its funds came from the CIA. USYC received funding from the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs (FYSA), a CIA front. The USYC was composed of American Youth Hostels, Camp Fire Girls, 4-H, American Unitarian Youth, National Catholic Welfare Conference, National Students Assembly, YMCA and YWCA.

    Wackenhut. [CIA contractor]. Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based security firm, stood accused of providing the CIA with specialized services around the world, including Chile, Greece, and El Salvador. Its Venezuelan branch, Wackenhut Venezolana, C.A., was accused in 2002 of involvement in the CIA’s coup against President Hugo Chavez. William Casey served as Wackenhut’s outside counsel before becoming CIA director in 1981.

    Wackenhut eventually merged into the global security firm G4S.

    Washington Post. [CIA partner]. The Washington Post was part of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD, the agency’s media influence project. Post publisher Phil Graham was a close friend and associate of MOCKINGBIRD chief Frank Wisner, Sr. and CIA director Allen Dulles. Wisner assisted Graham in acquiring The Washington Times-Herald and WTOP radio, creating a sizable CIA-influenced media operation in the nation’s capital.

    W. R. Grace. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Latin America. Provided donations to CIA front foundations.

  • News story about Madsen's book via The Justice Integrity Project



  •           Liquid Assets: Local water technologies have global impact        

    More than 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water and 2.6 billion don't have access to proper sanitation. For local water technology companies those numbers are a call to action and a major business opportunity.


              Interviewing Richard Stallman: Freedom in the time of SaaS        
    Richard Stallman is one of the most revolutionary thinkers and activists of the twentieth century. Thanks to him we have things like GNU and free software movement. Meedabyte had the opportunity to publish an interview with him about the threats to personal freedom deriving from using what is commonly identified as SaaS. All of us use SaaS every day but the contours of this phenomenon, which has so many obscure points for users, are rarely clear. Emerges a clear picture: on one hand users, citizens, taxpayers, on the other huge economic interests. In the middle, the need for individuals to mobilize and be the first lawyers of their own Freedom. Richard Stallman è uno dei pensatori più rivoluzionari e gli attivisti del ventesimo secolo.A lui dobbiamo cose come GNU e del movimento del software libero. Meedabyte avuto l'opportunità di pubblicare un'intervista con lui riguardo le minacce alla libertà personale derivanti dal Software as a Service. Tutti noi usiamo SaaS ogni giorno, ma i contorni di questo fenomeno, che ha così tanti punti oscuri per gli utenti, raramente sono chiari. Ne emerge un quadro chiaro: da un lato gli utenti, cittadini, contribuenti, dall'altro enormi interessi economici. Nel mezzo, la necessità per gli individui di mobilitarsi e di essere i primi gli avvocati della propria libertà.
              Niagara Falls Canada Hotels 2010        

    Niagara Falls Attractions Welcome to the Niagara Region and Tourism Niagara – your source for tourism opportunities and more from bustling Niagara Falls, Canada to serene Niagara-on-the-Lake. As you plan your Niagara vacation, you will be amazed by th

    Tags:


              Niagara Falls Attractions        

    Niagara Falls Canada Hotels 2010 Welcome to the Niagara Region and Tourism Niagara – your source for tourism opportunities and more from bustling Niagara Falls, Canada to serene Niagara-on-the-Lake. As you plan your Niagara vacation, you will be amazed

    Tags:


              CARBON        
    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!
              #016: Zeitmanagement-Methoden: Diese drei Methoden empfehle ich Ihnen        

    Im Podcast empfehle ich drei Zeitmanagement-Methoden. Unter http://www.blatternet.de/016 finden Sie eine ausführlichere Zusammenfassung. Hier die Kurzversion:

    ### Master Your Workday Now

    Master Your Workday Now arbeitet mit drei Kernlisten:

    1. Critical-Now

    2. Opportunity-Now

    3. Over the Horizon

    Diese drei Listen gehören zum Kern des gesamten Systems. Nützlich sind dann noch ein paar weitere Listen:

    1. Target Now

    2. Review Cycle

    3. Significant Outcomes

    Man kann gut nur mit den drei Kernlisten arbeiten. Reicht das nicht aus, können Sie sie um die weiteren Listen ergänzen. 

    ### Do It Tommorrow

    Alle Aufgaben, die heute hereinschneien, werden auf einer Liste festgehalten. Morgen wird diese Liste abgearbeitet.

    Als Schnellstart-Anleitung:

    1. Machen Sie "Tabula Rasa".

    2. Sammlen Sie alle Aufgaben, die heute anfallen, und erledigen Sie sie morgen.

    3. Neue, dringende Dinge werden auch notiert und dann im Laufe des Tages erledigt.

    4. Erledigen Sie jeden Morgen als Erstes etwas aus Ihrem Arbeitsrückstand.

    ### Getting Things Done (Light)

    „Light“ heißt: Lernen Sie aus dem Internet die wichtigsten Grundsätze von GTD und setzen Sie sie um. Kümmern Sie sich nicht um die Details. Falls Sie die später wissen müssen, können Sie GTD immer noch weiter erlernen.

    ### Weiterempfehlen

    Hat Ihnen diese Folge gefallen? Dann empfehlen Sie den Podcast doch weiter. Damit unterstützen Sie gleichzeitig mich und meine Arbeit.

    Besonders hilfreich sind positive Bewertungen bei iTunes. Klicken Sie gleich weiter unten auf den iTunes-Link und schenken Sie mir ein paar Sterne. Vielen Dank!

    Die Seite zu dieser Podcast-Folge: http://www.blatternet.de/016


              Stocks Trading vs Real Estate Investment        
    Empty Spaces Inc. said...
    just curious, if you're good at making money in the stock market why not stick to it?& why would you try RE investing after its already been appreciating for several years and may be peaking in most areas?
    The stock market is unpredictable. No matter how good you are or how well you have done, there's no guaranteed of future results. Granted, I have done well in the stock market since I have officially started investing and I'm confident I'll continue to do well, I cannot depend on that to make me rich. Also, my earnings in the stock market is not steady. There are some months I go into the negative zone, and those months are hard to bare even though I have very high tolerance. It's not good to be constantly picking stocks in the long term. It's very time-consuming; I've spent a lot of time reading up on companies and financial news. Also, studies show that you'll likely be beaten by the index in the long run. Even if I can match or slightly beat the index in ten years, I would lose in time and opportunity because I'd have spent thousands of hours. An investor in the index would have done nothing but did not sacrifice as much time as I did. Unless I can beat the index by a huge margin year over year for many years, it's not worth spending hundreds of hours a year. I admit my view has changed slightly. I'm not against investing in individual stocks, but I advise caution, because many people go in without really understanding the risk. Play with money you can afford to lose. Real Estate investing is an alternative to stocks trading and in many people's eyes, it's less risky. I agree, because real estate property is tangible and with the increasing population, real estate demand is bound to go up. My rental property is in Philly, which is not a hot area like NYC or San Diego. Even though the property value is not skyrocketing, I still have rental income to fall back on. The rental income covers my mortgage and property expenses. Basically, the tenant is paying for my house. Eventually, the mortgage will be paid off and I will own the property. It is a long term investment and property value will go up. So far, my real estate investment has been less stressful than my stocks investment. I get a check every month and my tenants never bothered me. Hopefully, I can be this lucky for every investment property.
              Penfed 6.25% CD Strategy        
    Penfed is currently offering 6.25% APY CDs for their 3 to 7 year terms. The rate is very attractive for an investment with virtually no risk. This rate is among the highest, if not the highest insured-rate in the nation. With interest rates expected to decrease in the future, it would be a good idea to lock in these rates. I want to maximize the benefits of these CDs. I have 100K to invest and I've come up with a few scenarios.
    Scenario #1: Lock 100K in a 7-year 6.25% APY CD and have the interest paid out by check monthly. The idea is to have a recurring income.
    Pros: Lock in high interest rate for the maximum CD term. Protected from future interest rate decreases. Income delivered my savings account every month. Principal is protected.
    Cons: Sacrifice of compounded interest. Principal amount will be lock in for a long period, money is not accessible immediately and may result in loss of future investment opportunities if they arise.
    Scenario #2: Lock 100K in a 3-year 6.25% APY CD and have the interest reinvested. Cash out CD at maturity.
    Pros: Short term
    Cons: If interest rates decrease a lot, I would lose the opportunity for high insured-interest-rates.
    Scenario #3: Lock 25K each in a 3-year CD, 4-year CD, 5-year CD, and a 7-year CD, and compound interest.
    Pros: Duration of CDs are spread out.
    Cons: May not maximize interest earnings.
    My idea in Scenario #1 is to create a streaming income investment vehicle by putting 100K in a CD and collecting interest each month. The downside is locking up 100K of cash. Early withdrawal is a steep 365 days of interest for the 7-year CD. I can put the whole 100K in a 3-year CD (Scenario #2), which would give me more liquidity but if interest rates come down in the future, I would lose the high inerest rate opportunity. The third option (Scenario #3) is a CD ladder and would give me better liquidity. Still, locking up 100K for at least 3 years without seeing any income from that investment is a tough decision. That brings me back to the idea of receiving a monthly check for interest and locking in the CD for the longest term, the 7-year CD.
    Locking in 100K in a 7-year 6.25% APY CD and compounding interest would yield the highest interest, but that would made the 100K inaccessible for a long period of time and I can't afford that. There's always good investment opportunities out there and I don't want to be caught with money tied up. Also, I'm looking forward to buying an investment property in the near future, so I may need to tap into the money. What do you think is the best option for me?

              Be Careful on Giving Unsolicited Advice        
    I love reading up on financial news and learning more about personal finance. And I like helping people as well. Sometimes, I give advice to my family and friends. Although they would listen for the most part, they almost never act on what I tell them to do. It's interesting that despite my honest advice to help them, they would push away everything I say. They would always have some kind of doubt or excuse. Recently my friend is running low on money. He's a real estate agent and he hasn't closed any deals lately. Since I know a few extra bucks would help him, I told him about signing up for credit cards or bank accounts with cash bonus. Or he can play the 0% balance transfer. He thinks it's too much hassle.
    I have spoken to several friends in the past two years about contributing to retirement accounts, such as 401k and IRA accounts. They give me the usual answer, "I have no money." I tell them the importance of saving up for retirement. Moreover, I provide them with important financial messages - pay off debt, have emergency money, save up for retirement, invest, etc. They don't seem interested and don't listen. Yet they like to complain about not having money.
    Sometimes I feel that they don't want financial advice -- they want MONEY. What they want me to do is not to teach them how to make money, but to hand them cash. Everybody wants to be a millionaire but nobody wants to work for it anymore. It's all about get rich quick.
    They tell me they don't have time, and it's not worth making a few extra hundred bucks. If you have a lot of money, I would understand, but if you need money and have the opportunity to do it, why not?
    It's hard to teach family as well. They don't seem interested in learning. I tell them to start ROTH IRAs because it really helps if you have low income, the government even give you tax benefits if you qualify. But they say they rather have the money now.
    While I'm no certified professional, I know my advice can help my friends and family. They just don't see it. Perhaps they need to learn their own way. I just thought maybe I can give them a shortcut, but sometimes people need to learn the hard way.
    I figure I'll save my energy on going out of my way to help people. People just don't appreciate. Instead, I'll focus on those who wants my help. It's a lose-lose situation if they don't appreciate your advice. Because if they miss the opportunity, they would blame you. If they execute your advice improperly and the results come out bad, they would blame you. The moral of the story is never give unsolicited advice.

              Scottish youngsters to enjoy fantastic opportunity at Commonwealth Games        

    Excitement is building for two teams of youngsters in Glasgow and Dundee who will take centre stage in front of more than 40,000 Commonwealth Games spectators this weekend.

    The under-18 sevens squads of the High School of Dundee and GHA will play a curtain-raiser to the medals session in the rugby 7s at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow on Sunday night.


              Pain Management Through Integrative Therapies        
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              Generate Money Online        
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              Book publishing site reports that Amazon is aggressive in deleting less-than-valid book reviews of self-published books         

    A site called “Just Publishing” offers what looks like good advice to new authors especially with self-published books, especially POD.

    “Why did Amazon delete my book reviews?  Because there was a problem with how you got the reviews”, link.

    I can certainly understand that paying for reviews is unethical (although you would wonder if people pay for Yelp and Angie's List, which both companies adamantly say you cannot).

    I can understand that family is off limits.  But the article also implies social media friends is a no-no.  That’s getting difficult, and I hadn’t heard that before.  People who network enough to sell their books the old fashioned way probably would attract quality Facebook friends and Instagram and twitter followers.  Such a policy would sound a bit self-defeating.

    It is true that there are industry statistics on the expected reasonable ratio of books sold to reviews – it’s high.



    I’ve noticed something else about the POD business.  POD companies often mark the list prices high, which will be only slightly discounted on the Amazon and BN sites, and perhaps some others.  Then they encourage authors to try copies themselves by buying hundreds of copies at maybe 50% off or so.  An author who really wants to operate her own wholesale (with bookstores) and retail (with consumers) could mark them up to about 60% or so and make a profit.  But that would be so time consuming that the author wouldn’t have time for new material.

    It’s frankly very difficult to sell books, or sell advertising on a blog, unless you have built a reputation first in some niche that relates to something people will pay for.  Fiction sometimes provides an exception, but even then it is often niche-like.  Hopefully it’s legitimate (not porn). Given the “gofundme” culture online today (which has become much more prominent than it was two decades ago when I got into this) there is probably opportunity to “sell” in the special needs area – but I have my own psychological and perhaps moral qualms about this.



              Progressive Policy Institute: "Building a New Middle Class in a Knowledge Economy"         

    Harry Holzer, of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in Washington DC, has offered a position paper through “Progressive Policy”, “Building a New Middle Class in the Knowledge Economy”, a PDF with this link (34 pages).

    Holzer picks up on Donald Trump’s exploitation of the disenchantment of some groups, especially older white males without college degrees, with the job market and their earnings ability.

    He notes that the stability of jobs with regimentation but narrow skill sets has become less, as has the pay, not only because of foreign offshoring, but because of technology and automation. He says that families need incomes of at least $50000 a year to be middle class (possibly $40000 for smaller families) and notes the difficulties of single parents.



    The most effective measure would be to improve trade or vocational education opportunities at the community college level, especially in smaller communities or rural areas.  He also mentions the value of paid family leave.

    What I noticed after my forced “retirement” at the end of 2001 was the tendency for companies to resort to hucksterism to create jobs, and for the employment outplacement services and policy makers not to notice that this was happening so much. This has led to a culture clash:  aggressive attitudes in some communities about preserving telemarketing and door-to-door sales, versus resistance from consumers who see accelerating security problems. We need more manufacturing jobs to reverse this trend toward hucksterism.


              Aphorism        
    Last night I thought of a way to summarize why my current big research project appeals to me. The SIC problem gives us the opportunity to travel all throughout mathematics, because, while the definition looks pretty small, the question is bigger on the inside. For a taste of why this is so, try here: M. … Continue reading Aphorism
              How to Comfort Someone Who Is Hurting        

    Opportunities to Comfort Are All Around Us Life is not easy. We all experience pain, disappointment, and loss. One of the great joys of friendship, and the great satisfactions of life, is to be able to comfort a friend or … Continue reading

    The post How to Comfort Someone Who Is Hurting appeared first on The Emotion Machine.


              Singing your praises        
    The generosity of supporters like you directly helps students achieve their goals. Scholarship recipient Michael Sinitsa (’16), grew up in a newly immigrated Russian family. He watched his parents work hard and live frugally in order to provide every opportunity for their children. Savoring the rare delicacy of fresh fruit and daily music lessons taught […]
              Get the Biggest Bang for Your Tradeshow Buck with These Tips        
    By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Tradeshows can be a great place to get the word out about your product and also to keep abreast of late breaking news, trends and opportunities.  However, they can also be very expensive.  Registration fees, travel costs, shipping and other logistical costs, not to mention opportunity costs by having your sales […]
              3 Great Ways to Make Money on the Side        
    Side hustle opportunities are all around you, and the only thing required is a bit of creativity, enthusiasm and the willingness to try.
                      
    When I helped Dave Vanderzee, owner of the Easton View Outfitters ranch in Rensselaer County make a dream hunt come true for a young hunter with severe health problems this past October I saw several Texas Dahl Rams roaming around the woods and I knew at some time I would be hunting them. That sometime was just last week. Unfortunately the morning that I arrived at the ranch it was a very cold 7 degrees and the ground was covered with a crusty 10 plus inches of snow. As someone who likes to sneak and peek hunt the 2 1/2 mile perimeter of the preserve, I knew the moving through the crunchy snow was not going to be quiet. 

    When I entered the preserve I walked over a small rise toward the swamp I saw movement across the pond on the edge or the swamp. And sure enough it was a group of Rams just coming out into the field. I lay down in the snow and watched them through my scope as they headed for higher ground. I waited until they were behind a hedge row and started up toward them and I knew they could hear me coming. When I finally reached the hedgerow I could see all 12 of them in a tight group looking right at me. They were about 150 yards away slowly moving up toward the woods. I actually could have shot but they were literally in a group so tight; and too close together for me to shoot.

    With the hedgerow as cover I was able to get within 150 yards but they still were in that tight group. It was then that I decided to go down and come at them from a different angle. To do this required crawling through the snow to stay out of sight; “That was fun.” I know it took me at least an hour and a half to get to the thick brush. And when I did get there I could see them a long way off but headed my way. This particular hedgerow was so thick I could hardly move much less raise my rifle. If I was going to get any shot here I would need to clean out where I could kneel and make sniper’s hole to shoot from. It was a lot of breaking and bending of branches and twigs but finally I was able to kneel and shoulder the rifle.

    By now they were closer but still in that tight group. After kneeling for some time I made a slight movement and they saw it. Now looking through the scope I put the crosshair on what I believe was the leader but he was leaning right against another ram; I still could not shoot safely. Slowly they were walking away and suddenly I saw daylight between “my” ram and the one he had been leaning on. It was now or never. I had one shot and when I squeezed the trigger I had my Texas Dahl ram.

    As I walked back down to the barn the ranch hand Doug Everard greeted me and said “saw you sneaking around up there and heard the shot and from the smile on your face I assume you got it; I’ll I get the Kubota RTV and we will go get him.” The ram tipped the scales at 138 pounds and his horns measured 25 and 26 inches long and had 11 and 11 1/2 bases. It was absolutely a great and memorable hunt.

     WHAT DOES A PRESERVE HUNT OFFER
    In addition to the Wounded Warrior hunts that I had the privilege to witness at Easton View and more recently a young man with severe disabilities take his first whitetail it offers an excellent opportunity for a parent to take and teach their first time young hunter techniques and hunter safety. And one that I believe is very important is that a preserve hunt offers those with limited incomes and opportunity to experience the excitement of the hunt that they otherwise could not afford.

    Now I have also been told that preserve hunting is too easy. Let me just tell you about one of these “easy” hunts.
     Last year on a 90 degree day in July I entered the Easton View preserve at sunup in search of a boar Berkshire pig. I believe on that day I covered every bit of that preserve that included walking through a muddy swamp in which a fell twice, hunted to the top of the preserve twice and did not see a pig until 6 p.m. that afternoon. I was in the upper field catching my breath and quenching my thirst when I saw 4 pigs come out of the heavy brush headed for the swamp. I made my way through the swamp and finally at 7 p.m. I finally clicked off my safety ending the HUNT.  



                      
    LADY GETS HER DEER



     Late October, I had been bowhunting an active scrape line in the Southern zone. I had been in a tree twice with my climber in an attempt to see that buck and scout the area for deer activity. It had been a few years since I last hunted here, but I knew the property well. The first morning I saw three deer out of range travelling through just after dawn heading towards bedding ground. The second morning nothing and no evening activity either. I gave it a rest.

    I had a week’s vacation planned to go up north in the Adirondacks and hunt during the rifle season with family. Upon my return, my rifle tag unfilled, I went back to my bow and set up on that same southern zone scrape line which was still active. I made a plan for a morning hunt. It was a Sunday. My last day off before returning back to work. 

    This time I climbed a tree closer to where I had seen the three deer cross in the weeks prior. Twenty yards off the scrape line and a hundred yards from pine bedding areas. That morning with my arrow nocked and ready, dawn was about to break. I peered down from my stand, checked for open shooting lanes, and slowly ranged my surroundings, a twenty yard circle. I only had a few hours to spare that day to hunt. I settled in and waited.

    It was a quiet and frosty morning. The sky clear and sunrise came rising low on the horizon. I was facing east and I forgot to wear a billed cap under my fleece hat. I cursed myself for not thinking of it. A stand of tall hemlocks in the woods helped screen the early sun. As the temps rose above the freezing mark, I saw White breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Downy Woodpeckers and a mouse. No deer.

    I had forgotten my phone, so I didn’t know the time. There was no deer activity. No coyotes or turkey. I thought it might be nearing 0930. I wanted to be done by 1000.  I was getting hungry and began thinking about that first morning cup of coffee. I was sure the deer would have been through by now to bed, so I looked around, coast was clear, no deer. I lowered my bow to the ground and started climbing down quietly. I said to myself, I’ll hunt as I walk out.

    About halfway down the tree, something, whether noise or movement had me look to my left and I saw a buck 40- 50 yards out slowly trotting by coming from the pines. A nice buck! I quickly anchored my seat into the tree, hoisted up my bow, nocked an arrow, turned putting my back to the tree, and faced the buck that hadn’t broke stride and continued to trot away. I cupped my hand to my mouth and gave the best low grunts I knew how to make in order to entice this fella back! Nothing... no reaction! I had my commercial grunt call on doe estrus and I bleated twice. Nothing..! He kept moving uninterested and had even passed through downwind of me. I was only eight feet off the ground when I stopped climbing. He continued and crossed the stream. He travelled up a slope covered in honeysuckle thickets and stopped looking out ahead of him in his original direction of travel. I could only make out his silhouette...100+ yards. I grunted again! Nothing….I quickly hung my bow on my left arm, grabbed my homemade rattle bag from my cargo pocket, and gave four aggressive rattles with the bag.  I kept rattling and rattling. Finally, on the fifth or so rattle he turned his head back, listened, and did a roll away 180 degrees and started trotting back towards me on the path in
    which he came. He closed that distance by half and I shoved the rattle bag back into my cargo pocket. I grasped my bow again with my left hand.  He came in about fifty yards from me slowing and looking for the fight. I tapped the rattlebag in my cargo pocket a couple of times to give him a signal to come my way. He didn’t take the scrape line trail on my left instead he travelled almost the same line in which he came, but the lasts taps worked and he angled my way. I slowly repositioned to the right as he moved closer and when his head passed by two big offset trees, I used it as a blind and drew back. I followed him bow fully drawn and gave a “baahhh” by mouth when I felt comfortable with the range. He stopped. I saw my lane,” broadside chest, release, good shot, chest!’ went through my head.  He ran about seventy 75 yards and went down. He broke off the arrow while running, double lunged with an exit wound. I had bagged a beautiful 8 point pre-rut buck. 158#

    The hunt was memorable. I threw everything I knew at him in less than a minute and got him to turn back. I just kept thinking and doing. I would have been just as charged up if it was a spike. I got lucky on the mature buck it turned out to be. I thank the landowner for their generosity and the opportunity for this hunt.




              BEHIND THE FENCE - IT IS FAIR GAME        

    BEHIND THE FENCE - ITS FAIR GAME

    Behind the fence hunts have been a controversial topic for many years and one of the primary targets of the anti-hunting organizations. And unfortunately they are also looked upon by some hunters and hunting organizations with disdain as well. I understand the objection by the anti’s but quite frankly I do not understand that of the hunters. But after talking with many of these hunters I have found that the majority of them do not totally understand exactly what takes place at these preserves and ranches. True, years ago there were fenced operations which literally offered and utilized unethical “boxed” hunts. But these places are, and have been gone for many years, and today’s hunting preserves offer a truly realistic and ethical hunt. And in this article that I will attempt to explain to the hunter, not the unreasonable anti-hunter, just what goes on “behind the fence” and how these hunting preserves serve a very important purpose, not only to the hunter; but the future of our hunting tradition as well.

    I think Ted Nugent summed it up perfectly in a recent Field & Stream interview when asked if high fence hunting degrades the heritage of American hunting and the rules of fair chase. Here is a recap of his answers. This is the Motor City Madman at his very best.

    There will always be whiners and small-minded squawkers who overreact base on assumption and other unidentifiable presumptuous notions. To their way of thinking in-line muzzleloaders, scopes, treestands, compound and crossbows, deer drives, etc. degrade our American hunting heritage and our reputation. They are so divisive and unsophisticated and I pray that they become educated.

    And when asked if he prefers to hunt in enclosures or in the wild he said, “I prefer to hunt, period, and shall more and more each year everyplace I possibly can. I am a hunter.”

    Now let’s look at some the truths about hunting these enclosures; first from my own experiences.

    Part of my job as an outdoor writer is to test, evaluate and report to the sportsmen/women on the latest new firearms, bows and even crossbows. These tests include extensive on the range accuracy and performance reviews and comparisons which I like to followed up by an actual hunting situation.

    Hunting with these new firearms and bows are usually not a problem in NYS but it is with the crossbow due to strict disable-only hunter regulations. However these regulations do not apply to hunting preserves in NYS and therefore I am able to hunt with the Horton Crossbow at a preserve just a short distance from my home.

    Actually my first harvest with a crossbow took place on a preserve. My choice of game - a 1700 pound bison that took me that I think covered almost every inch of the preserve and two full days of hunting before I was able to get clean kill shot. It was one of my greatest hunts that included some very anxious moments and a VERY dramatic and dangerous face to face encounter with a one ton herd bull who was not happy with my continued pursuit of him and his herd that I will never forget.

    It was at this same preserve that I met two hunters who were both hunting their first Russian wild boar. And it was from these average hunters that I really learned what these preserves really offered the everyday hunter.

    During dinner that evening at the lodge I asked them “why they chose a preserve to hunt.” Their answer was short and simple: time and money. “We just do not have the time nor the money to go out of state to hunt boar. We priced the wild boar hunts in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and the average costs would have been close to $2000; and that did not include transportation and taking a week off from work. Here it is just $500, we don’t need a license, we can pick our own season and it was just a 31/2 hour ride from our house.” Economics, convenience and the thrill of a good hunt - this is what any reputable preserve will offer you.

    Now I would like to ask one questions for those of you hunters who look down upon those who hunt behind the fence: “Who gets hurt ?” If a man or woman has the desire to shoot a trophy or exotic animal not native to the area, but cannot ever hope to afford it, should he/she be denied the opportunity or right to do it, as long as it is done legally, ethically and within the confines of a preserve? I agree that it may not be for everyone, but you should not judge the intentions of those that do.

    Fair chase is another term that often arises in conversations involving enclosure or behind the fence hunting. Boone and Crockett defines fair chase as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking an any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals. Doesn’t hunting legally over bait, using a ground blind or treestand, using a rifle scope, etc. also give the hunter an advantage?

    In the past twenty years I have hunted in a number of preserves and do not consider myself any less of a hunter. I know that I would have probably never been able to afford or experience the thrills and excitement of hunting 9 wild boar, 2 fallow and sika deer, stags, bison, rams and 2 wild crossbow turkeys. And I can honestly say that my most memorable hunt took place last year behind a fence where I shot a magnificent bull elk. Let me share this elk hunt with you.


    THE HUNT
    It was well before sunup when I met Dan Jennings, the manager of the Easton View Outfitters, a private preserve located in the Washington County town of Easton, New York. Dan was going to be my guide for my elk hunt and I must admit I was pumped. Joining me was Tim Blodgett, host of the local All Outdoors radio show, who would be taping the play-by-play of the hunt. He would also be doubling as my camera man.

    The game plan was to circle the preserve and come in through the heavily wooded topside of the mountain and work our way down. Dan expected the elk would be bedded down in the valley, fields and swamp below us.

    I remember standing on a ledge whispering how excited I was about the hunt and describing how pretty the sun was as it started to peek through the pines into Tim’s tape recorder when we heard our first unsolicited bugle. A bull elk bugling in New York State - it gave me the chills followed shortly thereafter by a real adrenaline rush. I don’t think I have felt this way since the first time I sighted in on a whitetail buck.

    Quickly Dan had us moving down the steep slopes to a blow down about 200 yards below us. Once in place Dan hadn’t even finished his first call when the bull responded. And each call he made the bull answered; but he didn’t seem to be getting any closer. Then out of nowhere, there about 100 yards below was a young spike bull headed right for us. At one point he was less than 10 yards from where I was sitting.

    For the next hour I had no less that four other bull elk in my scope at distances from 10 to 100yards; one of which was a beautiful 5 by 5 that had Dan given me the word, I would have ended my hunt right then. But he said, “Not that one; we can do better.” Easy for him to say, but I trusted his judgement and relaxed.

    Another hour and a half of calling got distance responses but they just didn’t seem to get any closer to us. Perhaps the bull already had his harem of cows and did not want to leave them. And when he stopped responding to the calls and we sat in silence for another 45 minutes I was beginning to get that, “I should have taken the 5 by 5 feeling.” But that ill-feeling quickly departed when Dan nudge me and smilingly whispered: “There’s your bull; get ready.”

    There just 200 yards below was a beautiful 6 by 6 bull elk raking his huge rack on several small scrub pines. Now he was talking again and each call Dan made was answered with a spine chilling response and he was coming closer. It was awesome to watch the bull as he lowered his head and responded to Dan’s love-sick cow calls.

    It took several deep breaths to settle my nerves and at about 75 yards I slowly raised the old Marlin 336SC towards him and placed the crosshairs of my scope on his massive body, following him as he moved through the heavy cover.

    Each step brought him closer but there was really only one opening between two pines where I could get a clear shot; hopefully he would walk through it. He was about 50 yards slightly quartering away when I place the crosshairs just behind his front shoulder and unleashed the 200 grain Hornady LEVERevolution 200 grain FTX bullet.

    Immediately I saw the fur fly through my scope and watched him stumble and fall; and all I could think of was “what a bull.” I guess I must have repeated it out loud because both Dan and Tim echoed their agreement. I just sat there staring at him when I heard Dan say we may have a little problem. About 100 yards below my fallen trophy was a huge 7 by 7 and he was headed towards the downed bull at a very quick pace.

    He ignored our shouts and charged right in, head down and rammed my bull actually moving him along the ground several yards. Obviously these two must have had previous confrontations. It wasn’t really until Dan continued to shout and threw a few rocks and branches at him that he finally backed off. There was one moment however when he turned and faced us shaking his head from side to side, that I thought he was going to charge, but he didn’t, and finally we watched him disappear into the edge of the swamp.

    High - 5s and photos were all a part of the after the hunt celebration as was the interview Tim taped of my feelings.
    Absolutely the best hunt that I have ever had and it all occurred within 30 miles of my home.

    But it wasn’t really until I stood over my bull that I fully appreciated what I had just accomplished - he was huge. The tale of the tape and scale revealed just how magnificent he really was. He tipped the scale at 807 pounds and his antlers measured: 40 inch wide spread, 41 inch main beams, with 9 inch bases. In terms of record book score I never did get an official score but I do know that he scored “number one” in my book; and always will.

    For information on Easton View Outfitters go to: eastonviewoutfitters.com or check out their ad in this issue of Outdoors Magazine. And by the way, that 7 by 7 is still there and a year older.
              Fantastic Teaching Opportunities In Education First Xi        
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              Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day and Win Cash at the Royal Casino        

    March means more than just ‘madness’ with professional basketball; it’s a time for celebrating the luck o’ the Irish - whether you’re of Irish ancestry or not. This March is also cause for more celebration when you party at the Royal Casino, with lots of opportunities to win cash! On Friday, March 17th, join us for a bit of malarkey Continue Reading

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              Comment on A Precious Opportunity by Carmen parise        
    This is a very joyful outcome! God works in mighty ways through many branches. Continued followup with dedicated partners around the globe yields such successes. A really synergistic relationship: Donor - Heaven's Family - Partner -Recipient, I like that.
              Working with UTF-8 on OSX        
    One of my recent projects has been to port a Clotho application to Japanese. We chose this opportunity to convert the code base fully to Unicode. The other obvious choice would have been to port to Shift-JIS, a popular encoding for Japanese characters. However, we decided that this latter choice was not forward-looking enough. Choosing … Continue reading Working with UTF-8 on OSX
              Five Ways to Have the Best-Ever Virtual Genealogy Conference!        
    Can you believe how fast summer is sailing by? Which means the Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference is right around the corner, Sept. 13 to 15.

    This online event has the excitement and shared knowledge of a genealogy conference, without the expense and difficulty of travel and being away from family and work. Or the pressure to change out of your fuzzy slippers.


    Wikimedia commons, Ch2410

    You get a weekend of video classes (which you can download to keep), networking with genealogy researchers and experts via our conference message boards, and a live keynote. Classes and Q&A sessions cover genetic genealogy, websites, methodology, organizing and preserving your research, and ethnic research.

    I hope you'll join me there. Use coupon code FALLVCEARLY to save $40 on registration! (Code expires Aug. 11, 2017.)

    As a seasoned Virtual Conference attendee, I've got a few tips for making the most of the experience:

    1. Peruse the program ahead of time.
    Most of the conference is on-demand—you log in to watch videos and post to the message board any time during the conference. But Lisa Louise Cooke's keynote presentation on Sunday, "Big Pictures in Little Details," is live, as are the expert Q&A sessions on the message boards. Mark the scheduled bits on your calendar (remember the Virtual Conference is on East Coast Time).

    Since you can download the classes to watch again, don't worry if you can't squeeze them all into the weekend. But do try to watch the ones most related to your research during the conference so you can discuss them on the message boards.

    2. Free up some time.
    The time-saving convenience of attending from home is a MAJOR draw. But carve out some time over the weekend to watch the videos and chat on the message boards. The Virtual Conference genealogy inspiration gets me excited about trying new strategies and resources, so I usually want to spend some time researching, too.

    I minimize errands that weekend, and declare a pizza night for the kids. Daddy does something fun with them and we grant them more screen time. Therefore, my children enjoy the Virtual Conference almost as much as I do!

    3. Log in on Friday.
    Even if you're not planning on doing much conferencing on Friday, take 15 minutes to log in, go over the orientation and click around the conference. Make sure you can download a video. If you have any problems accessing the conference content, just post to the Technical Issues board and we'll address it as quickly as possible.

    4. Play along.
    You'll get the most benefit out of the classes and opportunities to interact with others if your research is fresh in your mind. Go over your tree before the conference to refamiliarize yourself with difficult ancestors. Make a list of your surnames and places for the surnames message board.

    A lot of action happens on those boards! Introductions are made, tips shared, questions answered, brick walls solved, books and websites recommended. We'll even exchange recipes and family stories. Check here often during the conference, post your questions, and answer other peoples'.

    5. Get comfy.
    Everyone talks about how great it is to do genealogy in your pajamas. NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!! Wear your comfiest PJs and fuzziest slippers. Don't bother doing your hair. Make some coffee or tea, fetch your favorite snack and pad over to your computer. Revel in it.

    Visit FamilyTreeUniversity.com to check out the conference details and sign up today. Remember to save $40 (before Aug. 11) with coupon code FALLVCEARLY!


    SaveSaveSaveSave
              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.  


              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_ruffling_img_4212.jpg

    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.

    ivgu_louse.jpg

    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_specimen_img_2514.jpg

    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


              Interface deal good for the industry         
    08/09/2017

    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.


              US company to offer microchip implants to employees        
    07/26/2017

    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.
     


              PSA TEC 2018 call for presentations now open        
    07/19/2017

    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         
    07/19/2017

    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.”


              [Article] The Evolution of Smart Home Performance and Its Benefits to the Grid        
    As the number of residential demand-response programs and the use of smart home technologies has grown over the last several years, an important opportunity has emerged in home performance to increase residential energy savings. Namely, the opportunity to use smart home technologies to target leaky, inefficient homes that cannot hold a constant temperature during a period of several hours once an air conditioner, for example, is turned up or off during a demand response event called as part of a utility program.
              [Article] Navigating the Oncoming Storm: Opportunities and Challenges with Home Energy Management        
    Home energy management (HEM) systems—comprising smart networked devices that can provide information on, and dynamically adjust, energy use within a home—have been evolving for decades and finally appear poised to enter the mainstream. However, with hundreds of players getting into the home automation space, the increasing availability of myriad smart devices, an increased vendor focus on customer security and convenience over energy savings, and numerous other challenges, it can be daunting for even seasoned energy experts to try to figure out how best to approach this market, much less find ways to realize the many benefits ...
              Amazon.com Recruiting Event Coming to St. Louis in April        

    Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/BlackRabbitCoder/archive/2016/03/23/amazon.com-recruiting-event-coming-to-st.-louis-in-april.aspx

    Hey all my friends and readers in the St. Louis area, my team from Amazon is heading to St. Louis to do an in-person hiring event in April!

    Have you always wanted to work in a place that hires and develops the best?  That lets builders be builders?  That has excellent benefits and salary/bonuses?  That has a clear technical path all the way from entry-level developer to architect and beyond?

    If you're a developer who loves to solve problems and learn new skills, and be in an environment that encourages you to learn and grow, this is a great opportunity.

    We will be there in the last week of April (I'll send more information when I know more).  Let me know if you are interested in an interview while we are there and I'll get you in contact with recruiting.

    -Jim


              Westinghouse Completes Acquisition; Accelerates Energy Market Opportunities        

    Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, as a Toshiba group company, today announced it has completed its acquisition of Mangiarotti S.p.A., an Italy-based manufacturer of components for the nuclear, oil and gas industries.

    (PRWeb September 23, 2014)

    Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/09/prweb12192219.htm


              Westinghouse and Bulgaria Take Steps Toward AP1000® Nuclear Power Plant Construction        

    Westinghouse Electric Company and Toshiba Corporation welcome the decision of Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD to enter into exclusive talks to advance the opportunity to develop and construct an AP1000® nuclear power plant for Kozloduy Unit 7 in Kozloduy, Bulgaria.

    (PRWeb December 12, 2013)

    Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11416457.htm


              Westinghouse Receives Final NRC Approval for Advanced Logic System® Safety System Solution        

    Westinghouse Electric Company announced today that it received the final Safety Evaluation Report from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Advanced Logic System® (ALS) platform, the company’s next generation safety system instrumentation and control solution for operating plant safety system upgrades and new nuclear plant opportunities.

    (PRWeb September 18, 2013)

    Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/WestinghouseALS-SER/091813/prweb11135113.htm


              The Gamma — Visualizing Olympic Medalists        

    Olympic Games are perfect opportunity to do a fun data visualization project - just like New Year, you can easily predict when they will happen and you can get something interesting ready in advance. I used this year's Games in Rio as a motivation to resume working on The Gamma project. If you did not read my previous article, the idea is to build tooling for open, reproducible and interactive data-driven storytelling. When you see a visualization, not only you should be able to see how it has been created (what data it uses & how), but you should also be able to modify it, without much programming experience, and look at other interesting aspects of the data.

    The first version of The Gamma project tries to do some of this, using historical and current data on Olympic medals as a sample dataset. You can play with the project at The Gamma web site:

    Without further ado, here are the most important links if you want to explore how it all works on your own. However, continue reading and I'll describe the most important parts!

    The project is still in early stages and the code needs more documentation (and ReadMe files, I know!) However, if you would be interested in using it for something or you have some interesting data to visualize, do not hesitate to ping me at @tomaspetricek. Also, thanks to the DNI Innovation Fund for funding the project and to the Alan Turing Institute for providing a place to work on this over the coming months!


              A trip to London and down memory lane...        
    Last Wednesday, I walked with the Ramblers after a break of two weeks;  I was invigilating on the two previous Wednesdays. There are some evening walks coming up which I am looking forward to. I love evening walking. There's a special evening walk on the 21st June which will be the longest day of the year and it's starting at 8.30 pm - in the pub!


    I changed into this outfit after walking 7.5 miles. I bought the scarf with pearls in a charity for 1.00; the top and trousers are also charity shopped. The scarf is to compensate for a low neckline; it was too warm to put a camisole under this top. All jewellery charity shopped.


    The trousers from M&S have gone to the charity shop bag. They're too long and too big and do nothing for me even though they are cool and comfortable in the hotter weather. My new pink floral trousers  bought on a recent rummage in Stevenage and Hitchin are their replacement; one in and one out wherever possible...


    These are my new (retail) shoes. They have a t strap which you can't see in this photo.

    I walked again on Thursday - another 7 miles. It was a very warm day; 25 degrees by the time I finished.  I was trying to recce a new walk for the Ramblers Winter Programme. I tried a footpath I hadn't tried before but it took me nowhere. Not because it didn't lead anywhere but because the footpath was so overgrown I couldn't see where it was meant to take me. I walked around the perimeter of a huge field; climbed over a gate in a farmyard (naughty Veronica!) and found myself a few feet away from where I started!


    Everything is charity shopped. The linen top is a French label but I can't remember where I found it; likewise the three quarter leggings.


    Mary Jane's bought in a charity shop in Ely in May 2016.


    Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped. The earrings were one of  the three for a 1.00 I bought on last Saturday's rummage in Hitchin.


    On Friday, I took my middle grandson to London for a day out. He wanted to go to the Houses of Parliament so we had a guided tour. This was taken on the tube to Westminster.


    The  House of Commons terrace where you can take tea...


    I look very rotund in this photo taken outside Westminster Abbey!

    Tunic; charity shopped; trousers; Lidl last summer; Mary Jane's charity shopped; all jewellery charity shopped except earrings bought online. I bough the African print bag at a car boot sale a couple of weeks back.

    We had a lovely day; we went to Canary Wharf (his choice); the Monument and then I took him on a tour of the area where I grew up and went to school i.e. Maida Vale/Paddington.


    This is the first house I ever lived in; 144 Elgin Avenue, London W.9.  I was born in 1954. Mum and Dad rented one room in this rather posh house. I checked today's house prices on this street; a one bedroom flat for 785.000; three bedroom flat 999,900; a four bedroom flat over a million. These are flats not houses! It is absolutely incredible and to my mind, obscene.

    When my brother Mark was due, Mum, Dad and I moved here:



    I spent the next 13 years of my life in this 3 roomed basement flat with my parents and two brothers. We had no bathroom, an outside toilet; no central heating or hot water. I shared a room with my brothers until I was almost 15 years old; my parents slept on a sofa that converted to a bed all the years we lived here. Relatives from Ireland came and stayed - sometimes for months at a time until they got established and moved out.

    Again, I checked the prices of properties in this street; a three bedroom maisonette; 1,395.000. A four bedroom house 1,800,000. My parents privately rented throughout the 1950s and 1960s; in the early 1960s Mum and Dad got the opportunity to buy the entire house above for a little over 700.00! My Dad didn't want a mortgage - he was a strictly cash up front person - so they declined the landlord's offer...

    In 1969 having been on the housing list since I was born; Mum and Dad moved to a council maisonette in this house in Portnall Road, W9.


    The top left hand window was my bedroom - the box room! We had a bathroom and indoor toilet; a separate living and dining room; Mum and Dad had their own bedroom and my brothers shared a bedroom. It was heaven to us.

    I checked the prices on this street, too. A one bedroom flat; 500,000. Two bedroom maisonette; 699.000. Not as pricey as the other two streets but a whole house must sell for over 1,000,000. Astonishing - and still obscene. How on earth are ordinary working people ever going to afford to buy anywhere to live in London? The rents are also ridiculous; eldest grandson spends 70% of his earnings on rent.


    This was my old school - Paddington and Maida Vale High School for Girls (PMVHS). It was situated in Elgin Ave near to the first house I ever lived in and it took me less than 10 minutes to walk to school.

    I asked my grandson what he thought of where I grew up and his reply was - 'all the house you lived in are the same'. This was very true; all Victorian terraced houses. There was a huge house building boom in the Victorian era and many of us continue to live in and love these old houses.


    On Saturday I went to see my son. Everything charity shopped except the shoes. Dress by Mantaray; jacket by M & S bought in Kettering for 4.00.


    All jewellery charity shopped except watch.


    Necklace bought in Derry for 2.50.


    Woke up on Sunday to more terrible news.


    Top; Store 21 sale; trousers; Primark, charity shopped 99p rail at Barnardo's, Great Denham. Orange shoes also charity shopped.


    All jewellery charity shopped. Necklace bought at Oxfam in Newport Pagnell last summer for 2.50.

    On Monday, I volunteered at the Red Cross shop. I do so enjoy working there. I have a laugh with colleagues; we sort a mountain of stuff and sometimes I find wonderful things. My special area of responsibility is the jewellery. I found a rather 'good' piece on Monday in some stock from another Red Cross shop - a gold bracelet with purple stones. I showed it to my colleague, as I could see it looked special. He has a jeweller's eye glass and it was marked 18 carat gold. He took it to a a local jeweller who buys gold and silver; who then confirmed it was gold -  and the purple stones were real amethysts. He gave us (Red Cross)  95.00 for it!


    This was Monday's outfit. The green harem pants are from Next and I bought them on my first visit to the new Barnardo's in Great Denham last year. When I got them home the elastic in the waist was gone, so I never wore them at all last year. This year I had the idea of wearing a large elasticated belt I have around the waist of the trousers to hold them up - unfortunately you can see the belt outline  under my yellow patterned M & S charity shopped top! The jacket came from the Guild House and the Mary Jane's were charity shopped in Ely last year.


    All jewellery charity shopped except earrings which were donated by my daughter.

    On Tuesday I went to volunteer at the Food Bank and in the evening I had Poll Clerk Training for the election on Thursday.


    Jewellery and tunic charity shopped. The tunic is from Red Cross 1.99. The earrings were bought in a shop in Bath on my 50th birthday with birthday money I was given by my family.


    Navy trousers, Primarni; cardigan, Studio catalogue about four years ago and shoes local retail.


    I invigilated for the Open University on Wednesday all day in Luton and on Thursday I poll clerked. My day started at the polling station at 6.15 am and I finished at 10.50 pm. There was a steady stream of people coming in to vote all day and it went surprisingly quickly, but I was really tired when I got home. Luckily the polling station is only across the road from my house!

    The Chrome Book is holding up although there are more distractions on the screen in the form of coloured lines but hopefully it will last until I can afford to buy a new one.

    I plan to chill out all weekend to compensate for my extremely busy week. I hope you all have a great weekend; the forecast is looking good...

              Happy New Year and a week of pattern...        

    Happy to New Year to all of you. Thank you so much for  reading my blog and for all your lovely comments throughout the year. I so enjoy reading them and appreciate every single one.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I've started a new page for books read in 2017.
    I left 2016 still reading Alan Bennett's 'Keeping On, Keeping On' (a Christmas present from OH). I'm almost at the end of it now - 700 odd pages!

    The total number of books read in 2016 was 98. When I worked, I used to read on average between 120 and 150 books a year. I don't really understand how, if I'm not working three days a week, I manage to read less now. Could I possibly be busier now than I was when I worked? I have been keeping a record of books I've read since 2007 but it still doesn't stop me occasionally buying a book I already have...

    Day 1 - Pattern Challenge
    Everything charity shopped except boots - DDB

    I bought this patterned shirt in Save the Children a few weeks back. It's by Punt Roma. The jeans are from Next and were 99p in the Barnardo's sale in Ampthill last week. The cardigan is from the Red Cross shop.
    The earrings are little pansies and I bought them from Save the Children for 25p. Bangles and watch charity shopped.  Necklace present from OH Christmas 2015.

    I went for 7.5 mile walk on Monday. It was chilly but sunny and I thoroughly enjoyed my walk around and through Bedford. It was also an opportunity to break in a pair of trainers my daughter donated to me. When you're pounding pavements; trainers can be a better option than walking boots

    Day 2 - Pattern Challenge
    Bangles, necklace and velvet flower brooch; charity shopped.

    Another purple day on Tuesday - it was freezing!
     Purple patterned tunic by Nomads, charity shopped. Leggings, on line retail.


    Purple velvet cardigan; one of the very few purchases I've ever made at TK Maxx and my favourite. Boots, Christmas present from OH and earrings were also a present from him bought in a street market in Oxford.

    I've got my crocheting mojo kick going again in 2017. I started by sorting out my wool stash. I had quite a few odds and ends of chunky knitting wool, so I made an infinity scarf on Sunday night and on Monday night a head/ear warmer. The rest of the wool got donated to a charity shop. I should have taken a photo of the infinity scarf but I've given it away and can't. There's a picture below of me wearing the ear warmer...

    I'm going to start on a blanket in browns, creams and beiges as I seem to have accumulated quite a lot of these colours. I buy almost all my wool at charity shops so you don't get to decide the colours available! I'm going to donate this blanket and any others that I do to 'Knit for Peace' here. I got this idea from Mim of the lovely blog; 'Crinoline Robot' here.

    I have no idea why, when I take selfies on my phone camera, they're always fuzzy as if they've been taken with gauze over the camera lens. Apparently, they used to do this with ageing actresses back in the day... when OH takes photos using the same camera phone they don't have the fuzzy effect.

    Before I forget I must show you a close up of my floral boots bought not long before Christmas. I've only worn them once so far, but am looking forward to wearing them more frequently:


    Aren't they fab!

    Day 3 - Pattern Challenge

    The orange splattered patterned trousers came from the Barnardo's  sale rail in Ampthill last week - 49p! Crochet cardigan bought from the same place a few weeks previously for 99p.


    Orange top charity shopped but can't remember where from. Boots DDB - daughter donated boots!


    Rings, beads, earrings and bangles all charity shopped.

    I went for my induction at the Red Cross shop on Wednesday afternoon. I had a great time and the team were very pleasant and welcoming. I bought a jumper and some bed linen - both £1.99 - while I was there. It's a much busier shop than Save the Children and I know I'll suffer from what I always do on Mondays and Tuesdays when I do my volunteering, and that is an aching back from standing for so long; on Wednesday I was on my feet for three and a half hours.

    Day 4 - Pattern Challenge
    Earrings bought in one of those shops that sell everything...mousetraps, sink unblocker, mats, pots and pans, coffee jugs, earrings...

    I bought this jumper from the Red Cross shop on Wednesday. It's by Kaliko and of course it was £1.99.


    Shirt by Next, charity shopped, black cords, Red Cross shop £1.00. Boots, Next - Christmas 2013; present from my daughter. You can just see my new grey watch bought with Christmas money from my brothers.


    Bangles; charity shopped.

    When I went to do the food shopping on Thursday afternoon I popped into the Salvation Army charity shop which is next door to Lidl. I bought a lovely bright green necklace, 99p; which I hope to wear with Friday's outfit. On the way back from Sainsbury's I went to the Barnardo's in Great Denham. I picked the wrong time to go because: a) the sale was over b) they were having a reorganisation of the shop floor and had loads of donations piled everywhere making much of the shop inaccessible. Not being the sort who gives up easily I found a purple cushion for my bed for 99p; a beret - brand new with tags from New Look for 49p; a mini hair fascinator for 49p and an ornamental tin heart for 49p - total spend £2.47 + 99p in the Salvation Army = £3.46.

    It was my middle grandson's 12th birthday on Thursday. He loved his presents from me and enjoyed his birthday cake - chocolate with milk and white chocolate shavings on the top - from Lidl. It was lovely and light and not too sickly. It would have been too much of a rush to make him a cake as the chocolate cake I usually make for birthday cakes is always better if eaten on the same day. Here he is at home posing with his cake...


    Happy birthday, Isaiah!

    Day 5 - Pattern Challenge
    On Friday I went walking with the group for the first time since the 14th December. It was a 6 mile walk and although it was a very cold morning we soon warmed up. Luckily, it was mostly road walking so no muddy boots. As we finished up in the town centre, I had some errands to run in town and of course I looked in a couple of charity shops. With my new 'highly selective' charity shopping hat on, I bought a bracelet for 49p in the Wood Green Animal Shelter shop; a striped linen top from Tu for £1.00 in the 3:16 shop and two colourful table runners for £1.50 - total spend today £2.99.


    Had my hair cut on Friday.
    This is probably one of my most favourite patterned items of clothing.  Patterned tunic by Pussycat, London bought from Cats Protection League charity shop. Yellow jumper worn underneath; charity shopped. Green leggings; Sainsburys retail as were the brown boots.


    All jewellery except watch; charity shopped. This is the 99p necklace bought on Thursday. Youngest grandson took the photos today and didn't quite get the concept of a head and shoulders shot...


    So here's a dodgy selfie instead!

    Next week is my final challenge - spots, checks and stripes...

                      



    Vipassana Meditation

    Vipassana Meditation As Taught By S। N। Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
    This is the motivated page created for those who wish to learn and practice Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka and his assistant teachers in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin

    Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living. For those who are not familiar with Vipassana Meditation, an Introduction to Vipassana by Mr. Goenka and Questions & Answers about Vipassana are available.

    The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results।

    There are no charges for the courses - not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit.
    Courses are given in numerous Meditation Centers and at non-center course locations at rented sites. Each location has its own schedule of courses. In most cases, an application for admission to each of these courses can be made by clicking on a selected one of the listed course dates that appear in the schedule. There are numerous Centers in India and elsewhere in Asia; ten Centers in North America; three Centers in Latin America; seven Centers in Europe; seven Centers in Australia/New Zealand; one Center in the Middle East and one Center in Africa. Non-center courses frequently hold ten courses at many locations outside of Centers as they are arranged by local students of Vipassana in those areas. An alphabetical list of worldwide course locations is available as well as a graphical interface of course locations worldwide and in India and Nepal.
    Vipassana Meditation courses are also being taught in prisons.
    A special 10-day Vipassana course especially for business executives and goverment officials is being held periodically at several centers around the world

    For additional information visit the Website :http://www.dhamma.org/


              Eddie Van Halen Has Donated 75 of His Guitars to Public Schools        
    Eddie Van Halen's passion for music began as a child, and he's working to make sure future generations have the same opportunity. Continue reading…
              Design the new Business        
    This summer my company Zilver innovation and 6 students from the Strategic Product Design master at the TU Delft have embarked on quite a little adventure. We are making a documentary, entitled ‘Design the new Business‘. The idea of the documentary was born when I had the opportunity to host 6 of the best students […]
              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
              Where will you be during the total solar eclipse?        

    As the moon completely covers the sun and darkness falls in the middle of day, SCC students, faculty and staff will be among an estimated 10 million in the U.S. who have the unique opportunity to observe a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

    As one of seven local colleges and universities within … Continue reading

    The post Where will you be during the total solar eclipse? appeared first on SCC Blogs.


              SCC Students Take Advantage of Career Week        

    This past spring, students from SCC and high school districts in St. Charles and surrounding counties participated in the Career Explorations Alliance’s first ever Career Week. The event took place over two weeks in March and April and provided students with opportunities to shadow a variety of professionals in the … Continue reading

    The post SCC Students Take Advantage of Career Week appeared first on SCC Blogs.


              Getting more than you give        

    Stay-at-home mom returning to school makes time for others

    Turning her experience as a returning learner into an opportunity to help others with math, Nikki Engelbrecht volunteers in the Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program at St. Charles Community College.

    Nikki said it was a little scary going back … Continue reading

    The post Getting more than you give appeared first on SCC Blogs.


              What Opportunities Can A Sephora Near Me Offer?        

    Sephora stores, in some areas, can be few and far between. The Sephora company has teamed up with several department stores, including JCPenney’s to bring you a convenient location.  In many JCPenney stores, you can find little Sephora pavilions that will have many of the same goods and services as a normal Sephora. A little […]

    The post What Opportunities Can A Sephora Near Me Offer? appeared first on All Salon Prices.


              Sephora Careers: What Does It Take To Qualify For A Job?        

    Sephora jobs are all unique and exciting and offer a variety of benefits and opportunities. Sephora has several job and career opportunities that range from a beautician, to cashier, to warehouse associate. The www.sephora.com has minimal information on what the benefits of working at Sephora, so we’ve dug up some info on different Sephora jobs […]

    The post Sephora Careers: What Does It Take To Qualify For A Job? appeared first on All Salon Prices.


              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.

    Citations

    International Year of Potato (IYP) Secretariat

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

    Room C-776

    Viale delle Terme di Caracalla

    00153 Rome

    Italy

    International Potato Center

    Apartado Postal 1558

    Lima 12,

    Peru
    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]

              How to Be Customercentric in a Digital World        

    Digital first really means customer first without compromise. That is what I learned from visiting more than 50 leading companies in this field of expertise. This presentation shows you the key trends of consumer behavior. This is about the consumer in the future. It’s about the consumer in 2020. But the real question is how to deal with this customer. And that is where customer centricity comes in. The digital world creates new opportunities to create new experiences for consumers. This deck takes you on this journey
              Power to the people        

    2011 was the year in which ’power to the people’ became real. Arab spring, London riots and occupy wall street are just a few examples where we have seen the power of people. This market trend has a big impact on companies. Most companies see this evolution as a danger. I believe that leveraging the power of the people in a positive way is a great opportunity. Until now, managers have treated consumers in a too opportunistic way. The challenge is to really open up and collaborate with them in a structural way. This presentation offers you a vision and a framework to leverage the power of the people in a truly positive and open way.
              Shrinking Investments Yield Smaller Returns        
    Amidst the politics of austerity, California has made staggering cuts to the early care and education sector, resulting in lost opportunities for children to be educated, parents to continue working, and members of the early care and education workforce to remain employed and contributing to the state’s economic recovery. During the Great Recession from 2008–2011,…
              Moldovan local public authorities' representatives invited to MUNI EXPO 2018, MUNI WORLD 2018        

    Two meetings of the representatives of the municipalities MUNI EXPO 2018 and MUNI WORLD 2018 will take place in Tel-Aviv, Israel, on 13 – 15 February 2018, the government’s communication and protocol department has reported.

     

    The events will provide municipal leaders with opportunity to interact with business and service providers, familiarizing themselves with innovative products, solutions and services in various fields such as infrastructure, environment, construction, engineering, information technology, education, social, culture etc.

     

    The sessions will take place under of the Israeli Federation of Local Public Administration’s (FLAI) patronage, with participation of municipal delegations from different countries, including the Republic of Moldova. The travel expenses are to be provided by the participants.

     

    The representatives of the local public administration in Moldova who wish to participate in those events are asked to send a message including the name, surname, function, contact details to e-mail addresses: victoria.cujba@gov.md  or grigore.butucea@mfa.md within 20 days.

     

    More details about events can be found at: http://www.muniexpo.co.il.


              La radio che dà voce a chi non ha voce        

    Sotto la direzione dell'associazione "Arte e Salute" e del Dipartimento di Salute mentale dell'Azienda Usl di Bologna, e con il finanziamento della Regione, ha preso il via il progetto Psicoradio, programmi radiofonici realizzati da pazienti con problemi psichici, in onda sulle emittenti locali, in particolare su Radio Città del Capo, o direttamente su internet. Dopo un corso di formazione su misura per 15 pazienti, tenuto da professionisti della comunicazione, docenti universitari, protagonisti della cultura e dell'arte, è nata la redazione vera e propria. La radio è una grande opportunità per far capire che chi ha problemi a livello psichico possiede sensibilità, competenza e talento. Dalle parole di Lucia Manassi, caporedattrice di Psicoradio, cerchiamo di capire cos’è una radio che “darà voce a chi voce non ha".

    Realizzato da Adriano, Adele e Viviana, studenti del I anno del Master in Comunicazione della Scienza della Sissa


              (Re)live TYPO San Francisco With Five Videos        
    TYPO-SF-2014_header
    I am home since this morning, fighting a jetlag and recovering from a jampacked week in the Twin Cities. I had a marvelous time – after my two talks, judging the AIGA Minnesota 2014 Design Show and participating in the panel discussion on opening night of the show, I had the opportunity to visit friends […]
              Notables        

    Professor of Spanish Laura Senio Blair, Mattie Cryer, Class of 2017, and Antonio Mendez, Class of 2020, served as coaches at SXSWedu on March 7. Senio Blair met with attendees interested in the liberal arts, Cryer spoke about undergraduate research, and Mendez mentored first-generation college students. The meetings were one-on-one or small group opportunities for students, parents, and attendees to think about and explore their learning goals.


              Berroth        

    Erika Berroth, associate professor of German, presented a poster titled "Global Players: Leadership – Football –Intercultural Perspectives" at the 15th annual Texas Foreign Language Education Conference, TexFLEC, that took place on February 14 & 15, 2014, at the University of Texas, Austin. The poster outlined the process and components of a summer experience in Germany that integrates athletic competition with intercultural learning. The conference topic, Shaping the Future of Foreign/Second Language Education to Cross Cultural Boundaries: Integrating Theory and Practice provided opportunities for engaging discussions of the innovative collaboration between our Football and German programs at Southwestern. At the conference, Dr. Berroth also contributed to discussions on addressing foreign language anxiety, best practices on using technologies in second language culture learning, and from her perspective of teaching FYS, on teaching writing for international students.


              Opportunity Lost: Race and Poverty in the Memphis City Schools        
    Opportunity Lost: Race and Poverty in the Memphis City Schools
    author: Marcus D. Pohlmann
    name: Kristin
    average rating: 4.25
    book published: 2009
    rating: 5
    read at: 2011/09/19
    date added: 2011/09/19
    shelves:
    review:


              Inglewood Community Garden Thrives with Art, Culture & Music!        
    Inglewood, California  Written by Ginger Van Hook May 20, 2010
            Inglewood Community Garden is a dream students at Morningside High School have realized today with the help of Inglewood City Council member, Ralph L. Franklin of District 4, Teachers and Mentors, Miss Roshondra Woods, World History Teacher, Mr. Shawn Stanton at Morningside High School with Mr. D'Artagnan Scorza, Director at The Social Justice Learning Institute, and Mr. Sirls, the Principal of Morningside High School. Photography Ginger Van Hook, 2010
    For some of the students, it was hard to believe that these beautiful green corn leaves had come from all this dirt and gravel, but the miracle on Yukon and 107th Street in Inglewood was in full bloom. A student by the name of Jazz told the audience that she has been disheartened at first to see that this was a big empty lot with what seemed endless rocks. Then the students started clearing the land and putting their hearts and souls into the earth and the soil responded to their efforts to grow everything from tomatoes to chilies, jalapenos, lettuce, squash as well as herbs like parsley and oregano too.




    'Jazz' told us about the transformation of the garden and the friendships that she had made. She explained how there was a new community where before there had been an empty space. The audience cheered for the success of the students and there was a heightened sense of community achievement in the air. There was a slight breeze coming from the ocean that brushed the leaves of the  tomatoes and the peppers ever so slightly. The sun beat down upon the earth and music filled the air. Musicians played the guitar and percussion rhythms with their hands and their bodies moved to the beat. Guests were invited to take a water bottle from the center of the garden and in ceremonious ritual to bless the land with the names of their ancestors. I watered a patch of tomatoes and recalled my grandparents in the past. It was hard to remain objective. I was involved. I was now a part of this new blessing upon the community.  I was no longer a reporter, witnessing for the writing of a story, I was pulled into the land, the dirt, the rocky earth and right into the story, taken in by the aroma of fresh tomato leaves and the scent of strawberry flowers and consequently, the encouragement of artistic, poetic, talented new friends.


    D'Artagnan ScorzaDirector for The Social Justice Learning Institute 
    said his students are working on a Food Initiative




     Mr. Sirls, the Principal of Morningside High School, gave the students and supporters encouragement then went over to the wall and autographed his hand print in green.
    Mr. Sirl leaves his mark on the community garden wall.










    Janet Simmons read her poem that she wrote for the Inglewood Community Garden:

    I dedicate...
    I dedicate...
    my words,
    my voice,
    my sound,
    and my choice...
    of speech
    I speak of here.
    I dedicate...
    I dedicate...
    what I have seeked here
    throughout, without and within this garden
    I dedicate...
    I dedicate...
    my rough hands
    and my
    rock indented knees
    my wind tormented hair 
    and 
    the dirt infected breeze
    that flows through this garden
    like a stream of music through my ears
    When it comes down to it
    this would not mean as much
    without you, me, us
    so
    I dedicate myself to you.


    There were cooking demonstrations and watermelon slices.


    The Los Angeles Times came to cover the event and I captured Glenn Koenig working in earnest covering the tree planting ceremony. This Photo is by Ginger Van Hook, but at least four or five reporters were on scene to witness this miracle transforming strangers into friends, and smiles turning lives into a tight knit community bonding over vegetables and issues of social justice, friendship and healthy meals...All good things going on in the City of Inglewood!

    Julie Prejean a Forestry Senior Manager for TREE PEOPLE 
    came to support the garden opening and to donate and help plant  a special tree. 
    She told her eager audience of new gardeners that they could choose its name.

    City Council Member Ralph L. Franklin praised the students, 
    teachers and supporters for taking the initiative and making it all happen, 
    and 'what a beautiful day it is for a planting ceremony!'



    USC reporter Christine Trang from the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism
    interviewed various participants and was preparing her report for southlareport.com

    Inglewood Artists and supporters, Ken Ober, Renee Fox and Ceres Madoo, Alumni Relations at Otis College of Art and Design came to support the Morningside High School Community Garden Opening Ceremonies. 
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook 2010.

    As an Inglewood Artist I was invited to attend this event, thanks to Ceres Madoo and when I arrived,  I did not know what to expect; but whatever it was to be, I knew this was a GREAT IDEA! As I milled about I got the opportunity to meet Mr. D'Artagnan Scorza who told me how the students from Morningside High School had gotten together to discuss civic engagement, how to show school spirit,  how to improve the community and how to better serve the needs of the school district.  The students themselves came up with the concept of a community garden, but at first, did not  have the means to make it happen. The original students were from Miss Roshondra's class and Mr. Shawn Stanton's class. A good idea took root then and there. One thing led to another and with the help of Inglewood City Council Member Ralph Franklin, their project got the encouragement and the support they needed right there from the school district's land.  
    This property belongs to the school so now the students are able to 
    develop a way to empower themselves to be a self sustaining community 
    with healthy nourishing meals for its students. 
    No better way to grow fine artists, fine students and fine citizens
    than to take the seeds and cultivate, 
    water frequently, daily, encourage with wisdom and respect for the land.
    The students have a great number of plans which includes a farmer's market, music, art and culinary culture events.























              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,
    2008

    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.

              INGLEWOOD ARTWALK NOVEMBER 8TH 2008        
    Artists Kenneth H. Ober and Renee A. Fox both graduates of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles participated in and were instrumental in organizing the very first Inglewood Artist Artwalk and Open Studios in October of 2007.  One may visit their website by clicking www.rafkhostudios.com                
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2007

    Renee Fox poses in front of one of her paintings exhibited in the Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, located at 825 La Cienega, hosted by the Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA) in conjunction with the 90th Anniversary Celebration for Otis College of Art and Design. 
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2008


    Kenneth H. Ober, graduate of Otis College of Art and Design, Artist and Painter participating in the Inglewood Artwalk Open Studios Tour November 8th, 2008.

    Kate Harding participated in the very first Inglewood Artwalk Open Studios Tour on October 13th, 2007. Kate Harding was born in Martinsville, Indiana. Before she was old enough to start school, she would draw while her mother painted realistic wildlife and landscape paintings. While in kindergarten, in 1986, Harding became the youngest person to ever hold a U.S. Patent, when she won The Weekly Reader National Invention Contest. Her invention, the "Mud-Puddle Spotter", took her to New York City for the first time, where she was on Late Nights with David Letterman.  After High School,  Harding moved to New York City to study fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but after a year and a half of fashion classes, found herself painting in her dorm room into the early hours of the morning. Taking the hint, she changed her major to fine art and received her Associate degree from FIT in 2001, then moved to Los Angeles to attend Otis College of Art and Design, receiving her bachelor of Fine Art Degree in Fine Arts in 2003.  Currently she is an artist practicing in Inglewood. 
    The First Annual Inglewood Artist Artwalk and Open Studios Tour October 13, 2007  drew a number of participating artists and residents to view the studios and the artists studio spaces. Pictured from left to right are visiting artist Luke Van Hook, Mrs. Anderson, Sean Anderson and Isis and Sebastian, friends of Sean's. In the Anderson studios the artwork reflected paintings by both of the Anderson brothers, Benjamin and Sean.  Work from these two artists may be viewed by visiting www.benjaminanderson.com and www.seananderson.com.  Art by Luke Van Hook may be visited by clicking on www.lukevanhook.com.
    Artist Benjamin Anderson is pictured with his wife and child to be (October 2007). Benjamin stated that the latest addition of art they were blessed with was a baby boy they named Luke Anderson. Benjamin Anderson is currently participating in the Inglewood Artist Open Studios Tour on November 8th, 2008.  Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2007

    Sean Anderson, posing by his artwork, Inglewood Artist Artwalk Open Studios, 2007. 
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook


    Benjamin and Sean Anderson, Inglewood Open Studios Tour, October 13, 2007.


    Benjamin Anderson poses in front of one of his original paintings, October 13, 2007, Inglewood Artist Open Studios, First Annual.  
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2007



    INGLEWOOD ARTISTS OPEN STUDIO second annual show!

    It’s time for another open studios in Inglewood on Saturday the 8th of November.

    THERE ARE quite a few more artists involved this year, 
    so IT should be a good opportunity to have a behind the scenes look into some great artists…
    (and possibly get some very affordable deals for the holidays)

    To see the blog go to: http://inglewoodopenstudio.blogspot.com/

    http://www.benjaminanderson.com




    Inglewood Open Studios : 15 locations around Inglewood

    Saturday November 8th, 2-7pm

    Locations throughout Inglewood – see on-line map:

    http://www.communitywalk.com/inglewood_cs/inglewood_open_studios/map/297303

    Contact: Renée A. Fox

    Email: reneeafox@sbcglobal.net



    Participating artists:

    Ben Anderson, Kavin Buck, Ericka Chapman, Rob Faucette, Renée A. Fox, Todd Gray, Cindi Gunadi, Ulysses Jenkins, Elisa Johns, Michael Massenburg, Gale McCall, Christopher Lawrence Mercier, Willie Middlebrook, Kenneth H. Ober, Claudia Parducci, Joan Robey, Dustin Shuler, Kyungmi Shin, Stanley Smith, May Sun, MonaLisa Whitaker, Edward Ewell.

    Inglewood Open Studios is an all day event in which artists, with studios in Inglewood, will open their working spaces to the public. Recent work of these artists will be on view. Although Inglewood is not known for art, it has a sizable and vibrant artist community. There are also public art treasures throughout the city, such as Helen Lundeberg's 1940 mural "The History of Transportation", a detail of which is being used as the image for the 2008 Open Studios. Maps to Inglewood public art locations will be available at all participating studios.

    Conceptually and materially diverse, these artists have the most common thread of proximity, however, they are also joined by the sense of a supportive community. Inglewood artists are professionals, teachers, business owners and students. A few are alumni of Otis College of Art & Design, whose modern campus is, like Inglewood, in the "Airport Area", but located in neighboring Westchester. Inglewood boasts a variety of commercial spaces amidst residential areas, perfect for artists, some of which can be seen on November 8th.

    On Saturday, November 8th from 2pm-7pm, more than twenty artists will open their studios throughout the neighborhood. Maps, like the one attached, will be available at all sites, showing numbers of the locations of all studios open for the event. Each studio will display a large number on the outside of their building, to make them easy to find. Street parking is readily available throughout the city although visitors are urged to pay attention to street parking signs.

    Drawing composed by Los Angeles Artist Steven Bankhead for his show at Circus Gallery 
    April 5th - May 10th 2008 titled  "Battery" visit:    www.circus-gallery.com 323-96208506


    Writer and Photographer Ginger Van Hook photographed beside her husband, Artist and Painter, Luke Van Hook, August 2008 for Luke Van Hook's show "Circle in the Square" exhibition at the Brand Library Art Gallery August 2nd, 2008.  Ginger and Luke Van Hook plan to attend the Inglewood Artists Second Annual Artwalk and Open Studios Tour November 8th, 2008.  Both Luke and Ginger Van Hook work in their Inglewood Studio in 
    Los Angeles County, California. Visit them online at www.lukevanhook.com and www.gingervanhook.com as well as www.enildeingelsvanhook.com 
    Photo courtesy of  Peter Bolten, 2008



    Artists practicing and working in Inglewood have opportunities to buy supplies close by at 
    CKS ARTIST PRODUCTS 

    (A business run by artists for artists)
     address:
     1111 and 1115 North La Brea Avenue, Inglewood, California 90302-1212 
    business phone: 310-677-3775  www.cksart.com)

              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-JOURNAL BY GINGER VAN HOOK


    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, welcoming writers from all over California and the country to learn more about the craft.















    I knew I had gotten to the right booth when I saw the buttons they were passing out. “What’s Your Story?” As I was about to take the hot seat of an author…I kid you not; the seat was hot because the sun cast its rays upon the storytellers’ table; I thought to myself again, ‘I’m in fine company!’ I had heard that Gay Talese, Julie Andrews and Tommy Lasorda were telling their stories and here I was, a humble little writer of my first fiction novel about to tell my own.
    I resorted to taking pictures to relax my own photo-happy-trigger finger. I always enjoy a good shutterbug moment and this was no exception. So, I took pictures of the authors I was with, while I signed a few books myself.








    I met Leslie Ann Moore, the author of Griffin’s Daughter, and I learned she wrote romantic fantasy (which I overheard her telling a reader that she had won an award). I visited her website at www.leslieannmoore.com and was inspired by her story that she is a veterinarian, writer and belly dancer too!






    I also met Mike Robinson the author of Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray (which personally as a photographer, I liked the title.) I learned that Mike Robinson is the author of seven novels and two collections. Mike also sold a number of short stories to print and electronic magazines, anthologies and podcasts. Visit Mike’s website at www.freewebs.com and learn that he too is stalking BIG FOOT!






















    On Saturday, another author I had the opportunity to meet at the GLAWS booth was Matt Pallamary. We sat together as our fans lined up to talk to us about our books. (Maybe our lines weren’t as long as Valerie Bertinelli’s for her book “Losing it: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time” but we had a following, nonetheless!) Matt has written his memoirs detailing his spiritual journeys to Peru where he worked with shamanic plant medicines. His most recent book is titled Spirit Matters and his website is www.mattpallamary.com. This was a serendipitous place to be sharing space with Matt Pallamary as I had the rare opportunity to discuss some of my own spiritual stories from my early childhood in Argentina. The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts is a story about a five-year-old boy named Miguelito, who can see things that others can’t and this makes him special and extra inventive. He has a special magic friend named Hector (made out of nuts and bolts) who teaches him to fix things. The story, a comedy, is set in Buenos Aires, Argentina using the popular genre of South American writers, that of Magical Realism. The story explores an imaginative spirit world set in the 1930’s and is told from the perspectives of a fly, a witch, a seagull, an angel, a demon and two little brothers. The paperback version is available through www.enildeingelsvanhook.com.
    and coming soon to www.amazon.com so check the website in mid May for available stock.























    Several new, emerging and established writers joined us at the Festival of Books in the GLAWS booth #715. Among them was Joan A. Friedman, a Ph.D. who is an identical twin, herself, and has over thirty years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of twin-related issues. Her new novel, Emotionally Healthy Twins is a comprehensive guide on how to raise twins who are self-realized and distinct individuals.





    Dr. Joan Friedman posed for a photo-op alongside two of the movers and shakers of GLAWS; Tony Todaro, one of its original founders (Sci-Fi aficionado) and an established strategic consultant (Todaro Communications) as well as John Weiskopf, the author of The Ascendancy.








    The Ascendancy is an appropriate story for today’s times, as John Weiskopf has created a new world mythology at a volatile point in history. His latest novel brings modern day imagination to the old story of Jack in the Beanstalk. The premise of this novel is that a beanstalk starts growing out of the rubble of the World Trade Center and the protagonist Jack Tott, a twenty-six-year-old musician, believes that if he climbs the beanstalk, he will somehow find the means to help save his dying sister. This book is available through www.johnweiskopf.com.
















    I met Sandra Walter, the author of The Creator State (www.sandrawalter.com) a story where actors discover a unique state of consciousness and art changes reality. Pictured here to the right is the author of Akira's Army by Keith Kowalczyk as he tells the story of Ray Quincy who becomes a prisoner of war while on his family vacation on a small South Pacific Island (a novel available through midnightpressbooks.com) Also pictured in booth #715 are Tony Todaro, Neil Citrin, and John Weiskopf.









    I also had an opportunity to talk to Robin Reed who was also releasing her first novel called Xanthan Gumm. Robin Reed writes in the science fiction genre about hard working creatures called ‘Humans’ who labor to make stories that are loved throughout the Galaxy. One young alien dreams of going to the ‘Forbidden Planet Earth’ to perform in the movies and wants to become famous like his idol, E.T. This book is available through www.barstowproductions.com.






    On Sunday at the LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, I had the distinct privilege of sitting at the author’s table with Film Educator and author Charles Domokos. His work in education especially in the cinema and film-editing field has a long history of contributing extremely technical post-production knowledge to film students at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Loyola Marymount and Los Angeles City College. His book titled: Non-linear Editing: The Cutting Edge provides the foundation for the college-level media student to make the leap into the world of film and HD-based professional post-production, as practiced in the Hollywood media community. His book is available through Amazon.com; Barnes&Noble.com or www.GoGardner.com.



    While sitting under the canopy of a nearby Elm tree, our booth enjoyed a little more shade and relief from the heat on Sunday, just enough to share our experiences and challenges of our publishing our first books. Charles and I also shared some of our inspirations to write and joked around that in our booth alone, we had the resources for taking my story of The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts and turning it into a movie using stop-frame animation to create a Hollywood environment for my animated critter made of nuts and bolts and feathers named ‘Hector’. We figured we had a whole production team from writing the screenplay to filming, editing and strategic marketing with Tony Todaro!



    Speaking of Tony Todaro, one of the founders of GLAWS, I learned he is a prolific fiction writer as well. He is now working on a final draft of his next novel, “What Comes Around” a story set in a future city by the name of San Angeles, a metropolis divided by rivers and gangs after the ‘Big One’ (the big anticipated earthquake Angelino’s often fear, has already happened in this story) has rearranged the real estate and politics of the Southland. Just a little sneak preview of his upcoming book, finds Fed Corp Special Crimes investigator Major Xander Hunt in the midst of two murder mysteries to solve: the death of prominent physicist Allan Dunwharton, and after a series of battles and attempted assassinations, (perhaps even his own death). Hunt has kept his aging body alive with a concoction of drugs and nanobots, despite decades of damage as a black-ops agent, and the terminal cancer eating at his guts. (Imagine here the actor Sean Connery as the wise, aging officer in the Untouchables, though Hunt thinks of himself as the younger version of a Kevin Costner character.) Tony Todaro is a strategic marketing consultant with a long history in the music business and now shares his expertise with his fellow authors in GLAWS!



    With a philosophy of “writers mentoring writers of all disciplines” GLAWS holds monthly informative meetings, often with nationally-known guest speakers, offers critique groups, advice in the craft and business of writing, conducts special events including writers conferences and seminars, and promotes its vision through many businesses and social opportunities.
    In April I had the opportunity to attend one of the membership meetings to hear the science fiction and fantasy writer, Tim Powers, author of Anubis Gates and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. He spoke at length about the essence of “plot” or what actually happens in a story. He encouraged writers to think of the question ‘why’ and then dig deeper and ask no, ‘why, really?’; ‘why really is the character motivated?’ He also gave us an overview of what it is like to be a writer at work. He stated that he had cultivated a sense of both guilt and fear. “Afterall, I play with the cat while truckers have jobs…” In a brief moment I had to talk with him before he got on the podium, he stated that I should write down imaginary bets… but not to do it in my head. He urged me to write thoughts down directly onto the keyboard. In his presentation, he also shared some of the advantages to writing down your ideas and character traits onto index cards and spreading them around your workspace. Maybe one day, if you are experiencing ‘writers block’; maybe the landlord comes around knocking, blows open your door and tromps all over the index cards mixing them up every which way; well, he said, ‘you never know when that might have helped your plot strategy a little!’ TIM POWERS chuckled.

    The headline of today’s blog stated that the Art of Reading leads to the Art of Writing. I strongly believe this because I can attest to the significant verbal, literary and visual growth that a child can attain while immersed in a supportive community reading program. That, in and of it-self is where the art of reading leads directly to the successful art of writing. Exposure to the arts at a young age in a person’s life greatly enhances the chances this experience will foster a love of story telling as well as an appreciation for the authors and artists of these works that influence the mind at a critical stage in our development.
    I am an example of an After School Reading Program child. My first exposure to library books came about at approximately the age of 8 when I stated participating in the Duarte Public Library After School Reading Program and simultaneously the Monrovia Public Library system in California.







    I personally see this important correlation between early reading and early writing because I began to keep a diary at the age of twelve after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I went on to improve my reading skills by practicing my writing skills in my journal and reading even more each month until I had practically consumed all the books I could in the children’s section of the Duarte Library. I seem to recall that by the age of thirteen I was already into the adult section where I promptly fell in love with science fiction and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. (At the time, I made no physical distinction between the right or left section of the Duarte Library but I did get into trouble with my mother who discovered one day that one of my books had an identifying label from the adult section of the library…I no longer remember what the name of that book was, because I didn’t get to read it…only that it had a harmless picture of a cat on the cover and I distinctly recall how disappointed and rather humiliated I was when I had to return the book to the librarian and admit that I had rules at home I had to follow that superceded library freedoms.)





    My consolation was that I was a rebellious child so after that, I no longer checked out the adult books to take home—I just spent my free time reading the contraband stories, sitting cross legged on the floor between the stacks by the light of a window where a beautiful oak tree cast intermittent sun, shade and childhood inspiration; Under these conditions, I finished reading Pearl Buck’s novel The Good Earth. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading in a young person’s life. I admired writers without even knowing what they looked like. Often I didn’t see pictures on the covers. I just knew their voices by the way they would write their sentences. I feel I learned about life, lived through the characters and had adventures I couldn’t even dream of having all through the art of reading a wonderful book.

















    By the time I was sixteen, I had obtained my first job away from home. The Duarte Public Library hired me to work as a ‘page’ part time while I attended high school. I was able to devote even more time to filing and flipping through the pages of my most beloved writers and fondest friends. I recall taking a whole summer to finish the novel Hawaii by James Mitchner. These books were my education and entertainment away from the classroom and the schoolyard. By the age of eighteen, I was working for the USC Bookstore during freshman year of college and the Doheny Library by my sophomore year of college.

























    Now fast forward to the present day in 2008. I have written and self-published five books of poetry and recently released my first novel, The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts here at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the campus of UCLA. Was it an accident that I developed into a writer? (In my particular case, I am also a photographer and an artist.) (www.gingervanhook.com) (www.enildeingelsvanhook.com) I don’t think this is a random event. I think there are no accidents in the universe. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe in cause and effect. I believe that if you want to end up with a delicious cake, you need to prepare the recipe with proper ingredients. The ingredients leading to the successful art of writing requires nothing short of fresh time, young minds, good books and positive parental and community encouragement to read. The art develops naturally as the heat of age ripens the stories into cupcakes of our culture for everyone to enjoy!

    I attended the Duarte Festival of Authors in October of 2005 in Westminster Gardens, in Duarte California just to visit with and enjoy a moment listening to Ray Bradbury as the featured keynote speaker, presented by The Friends of the Duarte Library.



    We also support the Monrovia Arts Festival Association which is undergoing a change of name this year. In addition to the changes featured in Monrovia Library Park, with the new Library construction, Monrovia Arts Festival Association is about to be renamed the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts to better define the role of the arts in the community of Monrovia.
    The Monrovia Arts Festival Association will continue to serve the arts and artists as well as the after school art programs in Monrovia as well as surrounding communities and schools. I firmly believe, the younger a child is exposed to the arts, in terms of reading, writing, painting, sculpture, photography, film, digital media, comic book art and art history just to name a few of the variety of arts, the more creative a child will grow into adulthood and the more rewarding our communities will be to thrive in.
              Marking Teton History        

    MARKING HISTORY-FIRST TURNS
















    I was lucky enough to become the first female to snowboard the Grand Teton.

    We had been watching the weather for days, wind looked good and no new storm cycles coming our way...1st attempt was on Tuesday. I was supposed to work, and on Monday night Max and I saw a window of opportunity in the forecast and decided to make it happen. I called my boss and said, "look, there's something I need to do..."! He said don't worry about work...and get 'er done! Tuesday morning we woke up at 2am and starting skinning up Garnet Canyon just after 3am. The sun started to rise while we were in the meadow and deep down we knew we were way behind schedule. With all the gear on our backs we headed up the Teepe Couloir and stopped for a rest. The day had started and we weren't sure about the haze turning to cloud cover or the heat of the day creating dangerous snow conditions. This was the turn back moment. Once beyond the Teepe, there is no turning back. We chose to bail after 7 hours in, and maybe 4 hours from the summit! But we left our ropes and gear under some rocks at the top of the Teepe to make our lives easier on the next attempt. Once the decision was made to abort, the day became leisure. We skied the Teepe and stopped before the Meadows to take a nap on the Jackson Hole Climbers Guide summer station (which was just a tarped platform). Once we woke up and the snow was softer we rode down back to the car somewhat disappointed.

    I had the next two days off, and after religiously looking at web cams and weather stations online we chose Thursday for the next attempt. Wednesday became the day of rest, we tried to sleep as much as we could and eat as much as we could. This time we thought of giving ourselves a head start and wake up even earlier. An addition to our crew was added, it was Nick, Max and myself. We woke up at 1am and in the zone were skinning by 1:50am. I was prepared for the cold skin up to the Meadows and made it as efficient as possible this time, there was no wasting of energy or time today. We got to the Meadows and it was still dark. Dropped our skins off, laced up our crampons and started booting up towards the Teepee. We hit sunrise at the top of the Teepee and we were feeling good. Except for poor Nick, at the no turn back moment, Nick had become nauseous and decided to bail and let Max and I go.

    Max and I left as much unnecessary gear at that spot and started the ascent. Roping up with ice axes in hand, Max lead the way to the Stettner Couloir. Rounding the corner with Nick watching us go, I knew this was going to be the day I "send" the Grand. I had prepared myself in the past months, my determination washed away all fear and it was merely an execution of moves. Once in the Stettner I experienced my first ice climbing. Testing out my ability to trust an ice ax I moved over the ice bulge. Cleaning the gear and simultaneously climbing we reached the Chevy Couloir. It got a bit cruxy so I belayed Max as he headed up. While in the shade, and my sweat drying I became borderline hypothermia watching Max move over the biggest crux of ice. Once he anchored and it was time for me to climb, I moved as fast as I could, not knowing if we were running out of time and to just keep warm. Quickly we moved from one anchor to the next until we reached the last set, where we would be rappelling for the descent. we left one rope and some gear, ate and drank as much as we could and began the final approach to the summit in the Ford Couloir. This was just a symo climb on rope through knee deep, crusty/sugar snow. Safe for the most part but as always high exposure with serious consequence. I became so exhausted that I found myself grunting through every throw of my ax into the snow and every step with my crampons. But alas, finally we summit and it seemed as if we could see the world. I was the first to drop in, marking history of the first female to snowboard the Grand. At no point was I scared through all the climbs, but at that moment, when all I had to do was what I do best-snowboard-I was terrified. Because at that moment I knew that I would either become a statistic or mark history!! I dropped in gripping my ax in my right hand. Each turn was scarier than the next but I made it to the first rappel station and clipped in waiting for Max. Ok, so far so good, I successfully snowboarded, now the exit! 5 rappels later and some down climbing we reached the top of the Teepe Couloir. SAFE! At that moment I knew it was done. We weren't out yet, but I knew I was capable of getting back to my car alive!

    Retrieving all our gear along the way we finally made it back to the car just before sunset, tired, hungry, cranky and all my toes and fingertips frostbit...But I was alive and I had just SNOWBOARDED THE GRAND TETON!

    Now, I'm trying to retire from snowboarding and go back to skiing!! just kidding!
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              7 Tips - How to Choose a Great Blogger Blog Topic        
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    If you are passionate but not very knowledgable how will you find the information you need to create new material? Creating content is time consuming and it requires good research skills. Have you got access to the kind of information you are going to need?

    As a general rule don't choose a topic you know very little about or you may find yourself floundering once you have exhausted your own ideas.

    5. What's your angle? Identify your angle when choosing a blog topic
    Knowing your subject is one thing but finding a fresh angle is something else. If you want to create a blog in a subject area that is already heavily populated with other blogs you are likely to be more successful if you can find a good angle that has yet to be exploited. Most information isn't new it is just repackaged. How will you pitch your blog? Check out other blogs and identify what aspects might not be so well covered. Make a list of these and ask yourself if any of these areas has enough scope to sustain a blog by itself.

    6. Choose a blog topic with a medium to long shelf life
    Your blog topic might be great but will readers be interested in it a year or two down the track? This is particularly true for technology based blogs where products come and go and change happens at a rapid rate. Rethink your idea if your topic may not have long term sustainability. Ask yourself if there is a way to reframe it so that it will be more ongoing rather than of short duration.

    7. Clearly define the parameters of your blog topic
    Do you know what the parameters of your blog topic are? What you will cover and what you won't? If you don't know what the limits of your blog are others won't know either.

    Think carefully about your blog topic and define the parametersIt pays to carefully define these or you run the risk of trying to cover everything and losing your audience because they have no idea what your blog is about. Often the most successful blogs are those that focus on a specialist subject and stick within those guidelines.

    Jot down now what your blog actually covers. Include your material and your audience in this. For instance, is your blog for everyone or is it focussed on beginners only like this blog? Deciding this early on will make it easy to pitch your articles in a particular way. If you have no clarity you may find you write good material but it is not pitched to the right audience.

    If you have lots of ideas for a blog topic you will need to crystallize these. Jotting down advantages and disadvantages will help you sort the wheat from the chaff. You may find you have several good ideas but select only one of these to concentrate on. Once things are up and running with your first venture you might decide to get cracking on the second idea but prioritize to start with.

    Remember that laying the groundwork now will prevent disappointment further down the track. Your idea has a much greater chance of being successful if you spend some time getting clear about what you want from your blog and what you want to achieve. Even if your idea needs a lot of refining the exercise is a great opportunity to put some planning in place and planning your blog as in most things in life is one of the cornerstones of success.

    Summary
    This article has focused on how to choose a great blog topic for a Blogger Blogspot blog. I have discussed 7 tips to help Blogspot bloggers especially those new to blogging choose a blog topic that will fit with their knowledge base and interests. Finding a good fit with your blog topic is one of the keys to success and worth taking the time to consider carefully. Any thoughts or ideas about this article. Please share them.

    Click here to get The Blog Profits Blueprint



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              matthew barlow / ashan        

    matthew barlow ~ hatha (inner islands, 2016)

    «Just being, without striving. A place of stillness». inner islands

    Focusing on sound healing practices, Matt Barlow took a vacation with his renowned Twin Springs Tapes label and started recording more and more music, which takes new turn in unfolding American New Age music. His latest tape for Inner Islands gives you not only the opportunity to relax and get nice background music for 30 minutes but also the possibility of deepest meditation on the nature of music. Combining simple drones with electronic melodies and contemplative flute playing, this tape reflects the idea, which I run through my haed so many times, while listening to some good ambient records - you don't need to be focused, to perceive everything in this flow of aural sensations, but at the same time, staying out any activity in mind and environment you actually start feeling everything so clearly! I think this state cannot be achieved by means of intentional focusing, so this state feels much more natural and I'm always so childishly happy when it happens. Of course, not only music can bring it, nature can too - bird songs, streaming water, whisper of the leaves... And you can actually hear and feel same energies in these two compositions. There is nothing supernatural about it, but still I have no other word than magic.

    listen ~ buy tape
     

    ashan ~ death is new life (heavy mess, 2016)

     Â«Sean Conrad (Channelers, Orra, Inner Islands) returns as Ashan with a collection of new songs exploring where the physical meets the spiritual and how the two influence and dialogue each other». heavy mess

    For the new label run by Braeyden Jae (former boss of Inner Islands label), Sean Conrad (current Inner Islands mastermind) put an exclusive recording which brings to light new facet of his Ashan alias. Usually taking place somewhere far from city hum and electricity circuits, Ashan (almost) always was about instrumental psych-new-age jams, self-invented mantra singing and celebration of simple joys of life – this time Sean takes electric guitar, some distortion and drums, blending the rock music benefits with Ashan's usual sound. You already curious how it sounds? Okay, just hit play on Bandcamp and read further. And I'll continue playing this on repeat, each time wondering how same energy can take so many forms. This is obviously same Ashan I used to and behind all those walls of sounds, electronic drones, krautrock beats and psychedelic solos I hear same magic, that once entered this complicate world with "To Return To" album. Folk music can take many forms and I suppose that there is nothing hard for experienced artist as Mr. Conrad to transform his music into powerful rock outfit without losing primary inspiration. Actually this is fun synchronism between to friends – putting softest side of Braeyden Jae's music at Inner Islands and heavier side of Ashan on Heavy Mess. Consider this as "anti-unplugged" album and simply enjoy it!

    listen ~ buy tape


              Aam Aadmi Party: the political start-up        


    "Aaj hum yahaan aayein hain sabse ye kehne, ki kuch to karna hoga. Hum sabko kuch karna hoga."

    "Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota. Use perfect banaana hota hai. Police mai bharti honge, military join karenge, IAS banenge, politics ka hissa ban ke iss desh ki sarkaar chalaayenge. Ye desh badlega, hum badlenge ise."

    -- Rang De Basanti (2006)


    I quoted from Rang De Basanti, but it does not mean that this is going to be an incensed hysterical rant of a twenty-something someone which goes "Inquilab Zindabad!". Inquilab, sure. But let's put it into perspective and context. Inquilab will happen. One step at a time.


    Election is coming.

    It's easy to talk about politics sitting in our rooms, dissing any and everything that is happening around us. Heck, even this post qualifies. People here in India, and people abroad too - US, Europe, or farther east, you name it. "India has gone beyond a point-of-no-return." Sure, it must have sounded profound sitting in a room in a high-rise with a city skyline view in some sophisticated corner of the world, or here, in India. Sorry, no. But I have no interest in a conversation that begins or ends with that sentence, whether you live in India, or live abroad and intend to come back. It does not sound profound to me because I intend to spend my life in this country, by choice. Hopefully.

    I would not care if haters and dissers shoot holes into this post. By all means, go ahead. I admit I don't know my politics or economics. Let the intellectual masturbation begin. But I will not engage you in a conversation unless you give me a viable choice in the upcoming Delhi elections in November. We'll talk about NaMo vs Rahul Gandhi, sure, after the Delhi elections.


    It is really sad that after 66 years of our country's independence, the issues today, still, in the capital of India are Water, Electricity, Safety of Women, and Corruption. Forget Infrastructure, Public Health, or a healthy eco-system for entrepreneurs, we haven't afforded ourselves that luxury. Not yet.

    We, the youth, are lucky to have been born at a very opportune moment in the history of our country. We have the privilege to be a part of the 'Indian growth story', to be the Indian growth story. Be a part of it. Engage. Of course, it is unreasonable to ask people to quit whatever they wish to do with their lives and set out "to clean the system". No. But help those who are trying, in whatever little way. You can still be a part of it. That's why I am writing this.

    I know about a start-up that is trying to win the Delhi elections. I hope they do. It was unthinkable until a year ago, that a newly formed political party could think of forming a state government, let alone contesting elections with a strong foothold, or even fielding candidates in all the contested constituencies with confidence. Today, not so much. AAP doesn't have a long history, nor do they have the money or the adequate resources even, but they do have the passion and the will to do something. They believe they can, I believe they can. Sure, you or me might not agree with everything that they say or want to do, but do you agree with anyone a hundred percent? And if not them, who is your pick, and why? The question is whether anyone, anyone with the will and the passion can make a difference if they want? This is the test.

    Santosh died. No, I am not using her name to sensationalize this and drive my point across. The fact is, a good person wanted to contest the elections, and she died. It is NOT trivial. Can you do something about it?

    Take a look at their candidates list. Go ahead, look at their profiles. There is a commando who lost his hearing a hundred percent during 26/11, and was fired from the Army after that. Or this construction worker living in the slums, who is looking to contest from Rajouri Garden. And then, there is an ex-IRS IITian who championed the cause of RTI. He is pitting himself against Sheila Dixit. These people are getting their voice heard. We are getting our voice heard.

    At the very least what I'm confident of is this, that these candidates won't be murderers or rapists, and that if they are deemed incapable or corrupt, they will be sacked by their own party. Atleast give these people a chance. One chance. And like all start-ups, they need money to scale. They have been angel funded by several investors, and are looking to mobilize resources through crowdsourcing.


    What are you doing, Delhi? I'm jealous because you got this opportunity before I did. And things are happening and will, with or without you. Here's what the donations to AAP from our country looks like [link] :


    Almost as much from Maharashtra as from Delhi?! And it's not even Maharashtra's elections! There is still time. Get on board with this, man.


    1) You can donate in kind. There is much more than just money that is required to contest elections. You can give whatever you have to spare. [link]

    2) You can adopt a constituency. From anywhere. [link]

    3) You can make a recurring donation every month. [link]

    4) Or, you can just donate once and be done with it. [link]

    5) And the least you can do is get your voter i-card made and exercise your franchise. Vote. [link]


    An incident happened not so long ago. Arvind Kejriwal was asked by a journalist, "What would you do if you don't win the Delhi elections?". He responded by saying, "If we lose, what will you do?"

    Atleast we are talking about the right things.

    So... what will you do?



    Oh, and in this interview, Arvind Kejriwal answers most of the questions commonly posed by the haters and the dissers. Do watch. You might not agree with him or still be unsatisfied, but atleast hear what he has got to say.





    If you know me personally, or have been following this blog, you would know that I am not someone who begs for likes and shares. But this one time, I will. If this post struck a chord, please share it. It's only a click, and is much less to ask than an Inquilab.



              7 things wrong with our country        
    ------------
    Note 1: If you are looking for a government/politician-bashing rant, or a discussion about corruption consuming our nation, or a list which enumerates education, poverty, development et al, this post is not going to touch any of those things.

    Note 2: This list is relative to things often found in other countries on most accounts.
    ------------


    #7 Pull-to-open bags

    This is a bag of delectable chips.


    This is how it should be open-able...



    ...so we can enjoy our chips like this...



    ...NOT ruined by this.



    If other countries in the world can have this, why can't we?! I mean, how difficult is it?!



    #6 Coca-cola

    This:

    Just look at this. How can you not want to have this refreshing drink with lunch and dinner, and to go alongside the chips in #7. (I skipped mentioning breakfast for the risk of it being an overkill.) For most countries, bottomless coke, or for that matter, any drink other than water is offered alongwith meals by default. Water is the last thing you should be drinking, with the evolution of man.



    #5 Airports

    They suck. And before you go all "T3" on me, again, they suck. Travelling, especially air-travel, should be an experience, not a punishment. Travelling by air is the pinnacle of human achievement. Think about it, you are flying at 30,000 ft, half-way across the world in less than 24 hours, at more than 900 kms per hour, while dining and watching movies along the way, even watching cat videos on youtube, and liking others' updates about their amazing lives. Not to mention the spectacular views and the perspective you get on our planet.

    Airports should present it as such. It should be huge, unlike anything you might have seen before. While you wait for your flight, you should have a magnificent view of the craft from the gate, through big glass panels, so you can marvel at its sheer size, filled with a childlike wonder. Not shoved into buses which take you on a tumbling ride towards your craft. There should be enough seating, clear signs and directions. The immigration should be polite, welcoming to its own citizens, a small "Welcome home." with a smile. The security should not feel derogatory. The experience should be welcoming. It's the pinnacle of human achievement, afterall.




    #4 Public Signs/Addresses

    A metro station should say "metro station", an airport or a railway station should be navigable from anywhere in the city, with signs that say "Airport -> 15 kms", and a bus-stop should say "Bus Stop". It made me think when a Chinese guy visiting India asked me at a bus stop, "How do you know that the bus will stop here?", and the only response I could give was, "Ummm, because this is where everyone else is standing.". It shouldn't be this way. 

    And the addresses should make sense, with numbered streets and crossings. Do away with the MG roads! Use more numbers, PLEASE! This should not be how my address looks/sounds:

    Opp. XYZ Hospital,
    Near ABC Hotel,
    Quite close to Forum mall,
    Come straight from PQR Flyover, and take 2nd right, then left.

    NO.

    My address should look like this:
    42, Lush Meadows Residence
    7, Riverview Road, Bangalore.

    That's IT.




    #3 Utility stores / Vending Machines

    Fewer malls, please? And more utility stores. Where I can go, pick things, pay money, and get out with minimal turnaround time. Maybe 7/11's at petrol pumps? And every other 100 meters too? And vending machines! Aaaargh. Quick turnaround time!




    #2 Breakfast

    There are CRORES of people who go to work every day. And they want breakfast. The corn-flakes, and the dosas and the idlys, and the paratha-sabzi are okay. People need to be able to grab a bite in the mornings, and quickly. Croissants, muffins, selection of juices and sandwiches, salads, fruits, as pre-packaged take-away, available close to any means of public transport. Also, coffee. How can so many other countries get this right, except us?! I will not even touch the despicable state of our lunches and dinners, but we can always work around that. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, remember?




    #1 Respect for workers

    Cheap labour, right? Be kind to the people working at your house. Give the auto-waalas 20 extra bucks. Talk to them, chat with them. Listen to their stories, they have several. Make a joke or two, and see them smile. Trust them. Offer them a glass of water, tea, or food after a few hours of hard manual work by default, which shouldn't be seen as an act of generosity, but of responsibility and of respect from a person, to another. Give them gifts on festivals, give them leaves. Give them a raise when you get one. Share your happiness with them, and be a part of theirs.

    So many poor Indians go abroad to work as sweepers, cleaners, carpenters, construction workers, and they do that with their heads held high, with pride. They don't want to come back. Give them that opportunity here. Make them feel that they belong, and that we are fellow-countrymen.




    7 things wrong with our country...

              Senior Licensed Conveyancer        
    NSW-Sydney CBD, The Client Take charge of your career and join a nationally regarded law firm`s Property team. This firm is known for providing outstanding advice to its clients and valuing its employees, which is essential to its success. The Role An exceptional opportunity is now available for a Senior Licensed Conveyancer to join an active team of lawyers. File management from start to finish including across
              Licensed & Unlicensed Electricians - Commercial Construction        
    NSW-Sydney, GOOD HOURLY RATE + TRAVEL ALLOWANCE OVERTIME WITH FULL PENALTY RATES AS MUCH WORK AS YOU NEED! We are currently looking for a number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to commence work on numerous commercial construction projects throughout various Sydney locations for a busy electrical contractor that can offer full-time job opportunities for the right people. You must have experie
              Licensed & Unlicensed Electricians - Full-Time Opportunities        
    NSW-Sydney, GOOD HOURLY RATE + TRAVEL ALLOWANCE OVERTIME WITH FULL PENALTY RATES AS MUCH WORK AS YOU NEED! We are currently looking for a number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to commence work on numerous commercial construction projects throughout various Sydney locations for a busy electrical contractor that can offer full-time job opportunities for the right people. You must have experie
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    NSW-Sydney, OPPORTUNITY TO WORK ON ONE OF SYDNEY'S BIGGEST ATTRACTIONS IMMEDIATE STARTS AVAILABLE BASED IN THE CENTRE OF SYDNEY GOOD HOURLY RATE + OT & SUPER We are currently in the market for a large number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to start work immediately on one of Sydney's biggest upcoming attractions, based in the middle of the CBD for a fantastic electrical business with work li
              Licensed & Unlicensed Electricians - Commercial Construction        
    NSW-Sydney, GOOD HOURLY RATE + TRAVEL ALLOWANCE OVERTIME WITH FULL PENALTY RATES AS MUCH WORK AS YOU NEED! We are currently looking for a number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to commence work on numerous commercial construction projects throughout various Sydney locations for a busy electrical contractor that can offer full-time job opportunities for the right people. You must have experie
              Licensed & Unlicensed Electricians - Commercial Construction        
    NSW-Sydney, GOOD HOURLY RATE + TRAVEL ALLOWANCE OVERTIME WITH FULL PENALTY RATES AS MUCH WORK AS YOU NEED! We are currently looking for a number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to commence work on numerous commercial construction projects throughout various Sydney locations for a busy electrical contractor that can offer full-time job opportunities for the right people. You must have experie
              Licensed & Unlicensed Electricians - Commercial Construction        
    NSW-Sydney, GOOD HOURLY RATE + TRAVEL ALLOWANCE OVERTIME WITH FULL PENALTY RATES AS MUCH WORK AS YOU NEED! We are currently looking for a number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to commence work on numerous commercial construction projects throughout various Sydney locations for a busy electrical contractor that can offer full-time job opportunities for the right people. You must have experie
              Licensed & Unlicensed Electricians - Sydney CBD - Long Term        
    NSW-Sydney, OPPORTUNITY TO WORK ON ONE OF SYDNEY'S BIGGEST ATTRACTIONS IMMEDIATE STARTS AVAILABLE BASED IN THE CENTRE OF SYDNEY GOOD HOURLY RATE + OT & SUPER We are currently in the market for a large number of Licensed, Unlicensed and Overseas Electricians to start work immediately on one of Sydney's biggest upcoming attractions, based in the middle of the CBD for a fantastic electrical business with work li
              Exclusive Event: Yorkshire Museum        
    Behind the Scenes at Viking: Rediscover the Legend Viking: Rediscover the Legend Yorkshire Museum, York: 12th October 2017, 4pm An opportunity for a guided tour of ‘Viking: Rediscover the Legend’ by one of its curators, Dr. Andrew Woods. The exhibition … Continue reading
              *SALE* Buy printed back volumes of Medieval Archaeology for a reduced price!        
    As a member of the Society for Medieval Archaeology we’d like to offer you a special opportunity to purchase printed back volumes of Medieval Archaeology and Medieval Archaeology Indexes at a reduced price. This is a limited time offer and … Continue reading
              20% Discount on Routledge publications for SMA members!        
    The Society for Medieval Archaeology is delighted to announce that its members are now entitled to a 20% discount on all Routledge products ordered through their website. This is a great opportunity to purchase some excellent publications at a substantial discount!
              Lowell High star Rivera will take talents to UMass Lowell program        
    LOWELL -- The offers had been rolling in for Alex Rivera, and more were surely on the way. Rivera, however, had his heart set on just one program, the only one that could grant him the opportunity to keep playing basketball in the city he loves
              Book Dedications To Spur Your Imagination        
    Synopsis To be a successful book marketer, you must never miss an opportunity to reach out and make a connection with the reader. Whether your dedication is only a few sentences or an entire paragraph, you shouldn’t miss this opportunity … Continue reading
              8 Tips To Using Testimonials And Endorsements to Promote Your Book        
    Synopsis Testimonials and endorsements must be an integral part of your self-published-book marketing program. They should be shown and used everywhere and anywhere you have an opportunity to show them. These eight tips will give you a very powerful way … Continue reading
              The 5 Essential Parts Of A Powerful Book Introduction        
    Synopsis Buyers of your book don’t care why you wrote your book. They just want to know how your book can help them improve their life. Your book’s Introduction gives you an opportunity to convince the buyers that your book … Continue reading
              WAYNE COBB SCHOLARSHIP ESTABLISHED AT ECU        
    Wayne Cobb

    Birthed out of reunion of former basketball players, the Wayne Cobb Scholarship has been established at East Central University.

    Forty-five of Cobb’s players converged on ECU’s Sterling L. Williams Center on April 8 to reminisce and share stories about Cobb, the Tigers’ all-time winningest coach, during a five-hour celebration.

    As a result, the Wayne Cobb Scholarship, valued now at $21,000, was created.

    “This was an opportunity to thank Wayne and donate toward the scholarship,” said Craig Kurtz, a former player under Cobb and current chief executive officer for the ECU Foundation, Inc.

    Attending the event were former players and current coaches such as Phil Johnson, Jim Wooldridge, Vernell Kemp, Jeff Coleman. Bobby Shelton, Pete Papahronis and Todd Scott.

    Cobb, an NAIA Hall of Famer, posted a 417-251 record in his 24-plus years as head coach of the ECU program from 1978-2003. Included in that was an appearance and subsequent runner-up finish by his Tigers in the 1989 NAIA National Championship game. His teams appeared in three other NAIA Tournaments, including two Elite Eight berths in 1996 and 1998.

    He coached ECU to eight regular season conference championships, two postseason conference tournament crowns and six 20 or more win seasons.

    Cobb’s overall coaching record was 638-345, including coaching stints at Chattanooga High School (two years), Sulphur High School (one year) and Murray State College (nine seasons).

    -ECU-

    For Immediate Release: 

     

     

    Contact: Brian Johnson or Amy Ford

                                    East Central University Communications and Marketing

                                                             580-559-5650 or 405-812-1428 (cell)


              MASTER IN MANAGEMENT PROGRAM A SUCCESS AT ECU        
    Rachel Seewald-Phan

    A year after being instituted as a new degree program by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, East Central University’s Master in Management program is a smashing success.

    At least in the eyes of Rachel Seewald-Phan, who is the first graduate of the program, the former Norman resident went straight into the MiM program after earning her bachelor’s degree and ended up completing her master’s degree in just one year.

    “It was such an amazing experience and learning process that helped me grow as a student and an individual,” said Seewald-Phan. “Because of the MiM program, I was able to relocate to a state where I had no connections and land a job in a little under a month after moving there.”

    Now a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, she is extremely grateful for the program.

    “When the opportunity to enroll in the program was presented, I was somewhat hesitant since my undergraduate degree was in mass communication and public relations and I do not have a heavy business background,” she said. “However, I can honestly say that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The faculty involved in the MiM program are very helpful in working to make sure the students understand the material. They truly want to see everyone succeed.”

    Seewald-Phan is now client services manager at Lenox Wealth Management in Cincinnati.

    “I love my job and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the MiM program and all the wonderful people in the Stonecipher School of Business,” said Seewald-Phan.

    The MiM program is designed to help those with a bachelor’s degree develop management skills. This includes students who received their degrees in non-business fields.

    “There are many who have earned their first degrees and have been placed in positions of managers, but have not been given the knowledge and skills needed to be in successful managerial positions,” said Wendell Godwin, dean of ECU’s Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business. “Additionally, current students, who are skilled practitioners of the subject matter of their first degrees, had their potential to advance to managerial positions limited due to a lack of knowledge and skills in business.”

    Objectives of the program are to:

    1. Provide an innovative, high-level, focused program in response to employers’ needs for managerial-level employees with a sound knowledge of business theory and practices.
    2. Improve student opportunities to either gain employment or increase their chance of a level promotion at their current employer by offering a degree that is suitable for current and potential entry-level managers whose degree was not in a business field.
    3. Work with local employers to utilize this degree as part of personal development plans for current and future front-line managers.
    4. Provide a unique program for those in ECU’s service area and region who are seeking to complement their non-business degree with a business graduate degree that can be completed in 12 months.

    The curriculum consists of 30 hours derived from such courses as managerial accounting, employment labor and law, economics for managers, finance for managers, research methods for managerial decision making, foundations of management, leadership and organizational behavior, strategic management and marketing management. Three more credit hours will also come from one of the following: managing in the global economy, special topics in management, internship in management and individual study in management.

    Godwin anticipates 50 students to be enrolled in the program this fall.

    “The student feedback is that what you learn in the classroom on a Tuesday can be applied on the job on Wednesday,” Godwin said. “It is more application-focused instead of theory-focused.”

    For more information on ECU’s Master in Management program go online to https://www.ecok.edu/academic-affairs-programs/academics/colleges-schools/school-of-graduate-studies/master-management or call Dr. Charlie Jones at 580-559-5269.

     

    -ECU-

    For Immediate Release: 

    Contact: Brian Johnson or Amy Ford

                                    East Central University Communications and Marketing

                                  580-559-5650 or 405-812-1428 (cell)


              ECU BUSINESS SCHOLARS PROGRAM EXPECTED TO ENHANCE HULL’S PURSUIT OF ACCOUNTING DEGREE        
    Chloe Hull

    Chloe Hull aspires to be an accountant and being a part of East Central University’s Business Scholars Program can only enhance her confidence.

    Hull, a 2015 Moore High School graduate, was recently picked for the exclusive program for not only her solid academic achievements, but her ability to show leadership skills in a manner of being an extension of the university’s faculty through the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business.

    Those skills are developed in being an event volunteer such as assisting with career fairs, professional trips and student/faculty recruiting activities. Additionally, these students are department hosts or hostesses for professionals who visit the programs and for prospective students visiting campus. They also serve as mentors, providing leadership for the Business Leaders Association (BLA) student organization and working with the younger ECU students in the Freshmen Scholars Program.

    Students must have at least a 3.50 grade-point average before entering the program and must maintain at least a 3.25 each semester to remain in the program. They must also be active in BLA by attending meetings and holding positions of responsibility. Besides being on campus for two or more years, the Business Scholars must be able to volunteer for special projects in the School of Business, participate in the Dean’s Leadership Council, be willing to travel during assigned trips and, once they graduate, give back to the program after graduation as Alumni of Business Scholars.

    According to Hull, being involved in BLA set the stage for the Business Scholars opportunity.

    “The event that I learned most from was the panel with the accounting professors who discussed different careers in accounting,” said Hull. “While I knew I wanted to pursue accounting, I was not aware of many of the career opportunities as a freshman. Last spring, I decided to take a leadership position in BLA and run for treasurer. As treasurer, some of my duties include planning meetings and events, some of which were the annual BLA Roundup and the 2016 Freshman Scholar Retreat.”

    Hull sees this Business Scholars as an opportunity to not only improve her leadership abilities, but to give back through a program which has been a benefit to her.

    Besides being treasurer for BLA, she has served as treasurer for the Student Government Association, played goalkeeper for the ECU women’s soccer team and is a student member of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs and student affiliate of the American Institute of CPAs. Hull was named 2015-16 Stonecipher School of Business Outstanding Freshman and was a Stonecipher School of Business Freshman and Sophomore Scholar.

    “While I have held leadership positions in other campus organizations such as Student Government Association and Business Leaders Association,” Hull said. “I am looking to further enhance my experience here at ECU. Not only will it benefit me now, but also later in my career. I look forward to mentoring and giving back to the Freshman Scholar program, especially since I was fortunate to be part of the first Freshman Scholar class.”

     

    -ECU-

    For Immediate Release: 

    Contact: Brian Johnson or Amy Ford

                                    East Central University Communications and Marketing

                                  580-559-5650 or 405-812-1428 (cell)


              Treating Women Who Are Pregnant and Parenting for Opioid Use Disorder and the Concurrent Care of Their Infants and Children: Literature Review to Support National Guidance        
    imageObjectives: The prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD) during pregnancy is increasing. Practical recommendations will help providers treat pregnant women with OUD and reduce potentially negative health consequences for mother, fetus, and child. This article summarizes the literature review conducted using the RAND/University of California, Los Angeles Appropriateness Method project completed by the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to obtain current evidence on treatment approaches for pregnant and parenting women with OUD and their infants and children. Methods: Three separate search methods were employed to identify peer-reviewed journal articles providing evidence on treatment methods for women with OUD who are pregnant or parenting, and for their children. Identified articles were reviewed for inclusion per study guidelines and relevant information was abstracted and summarized. Results: Of the 1697 articles identified, 75 were included in the literature review. The perinatal use of medication for addiction treatment (MAT, also known as medication-assisted treatment), either methadone or buprenorphine, within comprehensive treatment is the most accepted clinical practice, as withdrawal or detoxification risks relapse and treatment dropout. Medication increases may be needed with advancing pregnancy, and are not associated with more severe neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Switching medication prenatally is usually not recommended as it can destabilize opioid abstinence. Postnatally, breastfeeding is seen as beneficial for the infant for women who are maintained on a stable dose of opioid agonist medication. Less is known about ideal pain management and postpartum dosing regimens. NAS appears generally less severe following prenatal exposure to buprenorphine versus methadone. Frontline NAS medication treatments include protocol-driven methadone and morphine dosing in the context of nonpharmacological supports. Conclusions: Women with OUD can be treated with methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy. NAS is an expected and manageable condition. Although research has substantially advanced, opportunities to guide future research to improve maternal and infant outcomes are provided.
              Wire Harness Assembly - Lead Technician        

    Wire Harness Assembly - Lead Technician | Full Time Position

    Bazzaz, Inc. is currently seeking to fill a full-time position for a Wire Harness Assembly - Lead Technician.

    Bazzaz is a designer and manufacturer of superior-quality motorcycle & ATV electronics and dynamometers located in Chino Hills, CA.
    We are committed to providing customers the very best experience which we believe stems from hiring the best employees.
    For more information on the company please visit bazzaz.net.

    Location: Chino Hills, CA

    Description: Seeking an individual who is proficient in operating wire cut and strip, and terminal press machines.
    Able to perform cable harnessing, wire harnessing, assembly and subassembly using drawings, schematics, and wire diagrams.
    Candidate should be acutely focused on quality and will perform quality inspections. Listed below are the basic duties and requirements of the position:

    • Assemble wire & cable harnesses, subassemblies, wiring, crimping, soldering, plugging stripping, routing, inspecting, and potting.
    • Understand and be to operate wire cut & strip machine & terminal presses
    • Basic knowledge of components & maintain inventory of parts
    • Perform quality inspections
    • Perform regular maintenance and upkeep of the equipment
    • Monitor production runs
    • Follow strict quality control process
    • Must be able to work 40 hours per week 7AM-4PM
    • Able to read, write, and communicate in English
    • Explain assembly procedures or techniques to other workers
    • Set up and maintain a clean work environment at all times
    • Understand and follow all safety policies, codes, and procedures
    • Lead a team of 4-10 wire harness assemblers

    We are looking for a responsible, highly motivated and detail oriented individual, who wants to be part of an exciting and dynamic company.
    Bazzaz is on the leading edge of technology in the motorcycle aftermarket industry.

    Desired Qualifications:

    • 2 years electro-mechanical assembly experience with cable and wire harnessing
    • Must be able to accurately identify components
    • Committed to quality
    • Detailed
    • Good eye / hand coordination is a must
    • Able to work in MS Outlook and Excel
    • Able to meet strict deadlines
    • Bi-lingual, English & Spanish a plus

    Benefits:

    • Starting Wage is $12.00 - $16.00 per hour, based on experience.
    • After six months eligible for company Health/Dental/Vision Insurance.
    • 1 week vacation. Paid personal days. Paid Holidays.
    • Monthly bonus plan.

    Applicant must successfully pass a drug screening, E-Verify, and background check in order to qualify.

    Bazzaz, Inc. is an at-will, equal opportunity employer. If you believe yourself to be a good candidate and meet all requirements,
    please e-mail a brief description of your qualifications and resume to Josef Buxton.

    *Position descriptions and anticipated skills acquired are neither conclusive nor definite and can be expected to change throughout term of employment.

     

     


              Purchasing & Production Manager        

    Production & Purchasing Manager | Full Time Position

    Bazzaz, Inc. is seeking to fill a full-time position for a Purchasing & Production Manager. 

    Bazzaz is a designer and manufacturer of superior-quality motorcycle & ATV electronics and dynamometers located in Chino Hills, CA. We are committed to providing customers the very best experience which we believe stems from hiring the best employees. For more information on the company please visit bazzaz.net.

    Location: Chino Hills, CA

    Description: Seeking an individual who will plan, organize, and control production at Bazzaz Z-Fi fuel controller factory, which produces harnesses, strain gages, and printed circuit boards. Candidate must be committed to ensuring that Bazzaz products are produced efficiently, on time, within budget and to the highest quality standard. Issues Purchase Orders for the raw materials. Candidate should be solution-driven and acutely focused on quality. Listed below are the basic duties and requirements of the position:

      • Supervises production assembly team of 12-20 persons. Subordinates perform assembly of products or sub-assemblies according to verbal or written instructions, or by following drawings or diagrams. Provides work direction and reviews work performance.
      • Responsible for light maintenance of production machinery for harnessing and SMT.
      • Production Planning and ability to apply LEAN manufacturing techniques.
      • Manages the purchasing function according to department policy and procedure. Accepts and scrutinizes vendor bids or proposals. Selects sources based upon analysis. Arranges vendor contracts, bargains for best costs, and observes quality of purchased materials. Prepares reports and required documents. Organizes activities with sales, engineering, production, or warehouse personnel.
      • Manages inventory of materials, parts, and finished product to maintain required supply. Maintains records, replenishes stock, and plans for future requirements based on orders, production schedules and forecasts. Strives to achieve JIT.
      • Quality assurance - Manages quality assurance operations for the factory. Comes up with new ideas to enforce and improve quality programs. Monitors Production Department's conformance with QA standards and procedures. Conducts quality assurance training for employees engaged in materials handling or product assembly. Suggests methods for improving product quality or design, or manufacturing processes.
      • Manages shipping & receiving staff. With an emphasis on efficiency and accuracy.
      • Provide production updates to Bazzaz Team.
      • Harness Documentation / Create BOM.
      • Assist R&D.
      • Reports to Vice President.

    We are looking for a responsible, highly motivated and detail oriented individual, who wants to be part of a growing and dynamic company. This person must be a problem solver, have a get it done attitude, and enjoys working with a team. Bazzaz is on the leading edge of technology in the motorcycle aftermarket industry and this position plays a critical role in delivering the ultimate customer experience.

    Desired Qualifications:

      • Minimum of a 2 year degree.
      • Minimum of 2 years of experience in production and/or purchasing for wiring harnesses and/or printed circuit board assembly.
      • Winning attitude. Must be a team player and enjoy working in a fun yet focused atmosphere.
      • Experience with MRP/ERP software.
      • Computer literate with accurate data entry skills.
      • Able to read a wiring diagram.
      • Person shall demonstrate competency when using scales and other hand tools. Individuals should exhibit strong communication and organizational skills.
      • Mechanically inclined.
      • Ability to lift 50 pounds.
      • Bilingual in Spanish and English, preferred but not required.

    Benefits:

      • Starting salary is $40-50K annually, based on experience.
      • After six months eligible for company Health/Dental/Vision Insurance.
      • 1 week vacation. 6 Paid personal days. Paid Holidays.
      • Monthly bonus plan.

    Applicant must successfully pass a drug screening, E-Verify, and background check in order to qualify.

    Bazzaz, Inc. is an at-will, equal opportunity employer. If you believe yourself to be a good candidate and meet all requirements, please e-mail a brief description of your qualifications and resume to jbuxton@Bazzaz.net.

    *Position descriptions and anticipated skills acquired are neither conclusive nor definite and can be expected to change throughout term of employment. 


              REVISION: IPO Activity and Information in Secondary Market Prices        
    This paper explores the link between IPO underpricing and financial markets. In my model the IPO is a mean for a capital constrained initial investor to exit and thereby to raise funds for a new investment opportunity. This investor is privately informed vis-a-vis outside investors about the profitability of the new opportunity and the quality of the firm to be offered in the IPO. He can then use the offer price and the fraction of shares sold as signals of his private information. The model shows that underpricing is not only linked to firm's characteristics, i.e. firm value, but to elements external to the firm, i.e. new investment profitability and financial markets characteristics. In particular higher market efficiency reduces the cost of listing. This results in lower underpricing and the listing of more valuable firm. Similarly, a higher lower bound of the new investment's profitability reduces the information asymmetry and hence reduces underpricing and widens the range of ...
              Summer Camp at JustBooks Thane By Sunita Saldhana Is A Golden Opportunity For Your Kids, Click Here To Find Out Why:        
    Summer is here, school is finally done, this lovely season is the time for kids to play all day and have lots of fun. Wow indeed! Longer days lesser work, everything is amazing! All the scantimonious school studies and horrifying homework assignment is replaced with extra time to sleep and delicious mouthwatering summer delicacies along … More Summer Camp at JustBooks Thane By Sunita Saldhana Is A Golden Opportunity For Your Kids, Click Here To Find Out Why:
              Q&A: What is Tax-Free Shopping in Ireland?        

    Could you explain VAT refunds on purchased items for tourists in Ireland? – Angela via email One of the advantages of shopping in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for Americans and other non-European Union residents is that certain purchases can be bought tax-free. It’s a great opportunity to save on your purchases. However, […]

    The post Q&A: What is Tax-Free Shopping in Ireland? appeared first on Irish Fireside Travel and Culture.


              Energy Marketer - ATCO Group - Calgary, AB        
    Final candidates will be required to undergo a Criminal BackCheck. A great opportunity is available to talented, motivated individuals who share our...
    From Indeed - Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:56:40 GMT - View all Calgary, AB jobs
              Night Team Manager (0vernights) - Rona inc - Winnipeg, MB        
    Successful Criminal and Credit backcheck. There is a career opportunity available for an experienced Night Team Manager....
    From Indeed - Mon, 07 Aug 2017 13:53:19 GMT - View all Winnipeg, MB jobs
              Holiday gift ideas for that hard-to-shop-for driver        





    With the holidays upon us, lights fill the streets in familiar ways, and songs that both the young and old know are joyfully recited. However, new stresses arise with the overwhelming task of buying gifts for family and friends. "Do you have a list?" and "What do you want?" are common questions this time of year, and while it never gets easier, help is on the way…depending on the type of person you're shopping for.

    People drive cars…that's pretty obvious. You can be an enthusiast who takes the ultimate pride in their vehicle, a novice who's either just beginning to drive or knows very little about cars, or everything in-between. Luckily, there's always going to be something every type of driver will need for their automobile - and what better time than now to get it for them!

    While buying someone a car isn't typically in the cards, there are thousands of car gifts out there, and here are just a few, both necessary and fun, that might turn your shopping season into an enjoyable one.

    Portable Jump Starter
    You've got that roadside assistance service, but not everyone does. One of the worst feelings is to be stuck somewhere because of a dead battery, so a portable jump starter is the perfect gift for all types of car owners. A portable jump starter packs a lot of power, and weighs 10 lb. (or less), so it fits nicely in the trunk for those 'imperfect' moments.

    Portable Inflator
    Like a dead battery, having a flat or under-inflated tire is no fun, and can unfortunately happen at any time - especially when driving. Having a portable inflator handy can be a life-saver, and it's as easy as plugging it right into your power outlet, and letting it go. Most have emergency lights to warn oncoming traffic, as well as a flashlight and gauge to make sure you see what you're doing and how full the tire is.

    First Aid Road Kit
    It's those items you think you'd never need, however at the most inopportune time, you'll be thankful you had. A First Aid Road Kit is a must-have, and is typically equipped with everything from band-aids to gauze to alcohol pads.

    Heated Ice Scraper
    Whether you have a $10,000 car or a $80,000 SUV, there will be at least a handful of times this winter where you'll need to scrape the snow and ice off your windshield. To make it easier on yourself, get a handy heated ice scraper. It's safe on the glass, and is easy to use - just plug it in and get that car drivable in half the time.

    Whistle Key Finder
    Know someone who constantly loses their keys? Get the Whistle Key Finder, where the simplest tune will track down those pesky car-starters. Before purchasing, however, make sure the recipient can, in-fact, whistle.

    Travel Coffee Mug
    Chances are, everyone has a travel coffee mug. Chances are, people use them on a daily basis, and need to replace them every year or so. The fun part about it is that there are thousands of different sizes and designs, so if that special someone loves frogs or leopard print, you can find one that will mean a lot more because it's not only coming from you, but because it's more personal.

    Bluetooth Car Kit
    For those with older cars, they most likely than not, don't have a Bluetooth HandsFree system. With safety being so important throughout the year, and especially in the winter, keeping all eyes on the road and hands on the wheel should be a top priority. So instead of having them fumble for the phone every time you call, give a Bluetooth Car Kit, which is easy to use and install, and will make driving and talking a much more enjoyable experience.

    GPS
    Those who have it might take it for granted, but a GPS system is great not only for finding your way around unfamiliar areas, but can also help you avoid those heavy-traffic areas on the way to work. They come in all different screen sizes and have different features for all types of drivers, so do your homework before purchasing.

    While there are many other gifts out there to give, we hope this at least helped give you an idea of what to give to that 'tough-to-shop-for' friend or relative. For quality parts and accessories, visit your local Acura dealer at Muller Acura of Merrillville. If you're in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle, stop by and view our wide selection of luxury cars and SUVs.

              Transferring to Panama        
    The trouble with working on a fixed term contract is that there comes a time when you have to move on.  My five-year contract in Senegal was extended to a sixth year, and then to a seventh, but seven is the maximum allowed and I am already several months into my seventh year, so when a suitable post was advertised in Panama (the same job that I do here but covering our Latin America region) I really had little choice but to apply.

    I was successful, and within the next couple of months (I don't yet have a transfer date), I will be leaving my beloved West Africa.

    Of course my new region will be full of delights.  New landscapes, new birds, new cultures, new music...  Many things that I should be so excited about.  & I guess that, in time, I will be excited about them.  But now all I can think about is how much I will miss Africa.  How much I love Africa.  How challenging and frustrating it can be, and how long it took me to find my place here but how happy I am now that I have found it.

    Don't post comments about any of the delights of my new region or of the advantages of living in Panama, because I know all that, and at the moment it makes no difference.  That isn't to say you should be sad for me...  I am busy trying to see the last few corners of this region that remain unexplored (the Benin voodoo festival, and next month the Bissau carnival), to make the most of the little time that remains and to celebrate and be thankful for the wonderful years I have spent here.  I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to explore a region of the world that so few people know.
              (Not a) holiday in Cambodia        
    It was a nice surprise to get sent on an assignment to Cambodia, even if it was in the middle of their monsoon.  We have two main field offices in the country, one in Kampong Cham and the other in Siem Reap - and at the latter some of the projects we are funding are in communities that live right within the area of the Angkor Wat ruins.  I saw the ruins on a holiday in 1998 when I spent a whole week based in Siem Reap, but I was very hopeful of a trip back there.

    But it wasn't to be.  My colleague got to go to Siem Reap whilst I was assigned to Kampong Cham.  I did my research to see if there would be anything to visit at the weekend, but luck didn't seem to be on my side; the pagoda with the resident python is inaccessible during the monsoon, and the 100-year-old wooden temple was closed following the collapse of a beam in May.  So on the Saturday morning I just went for a walk, to take a better look at an area we'd driven through on the way to visit projects in the week.  I estimated that it was at least 5km away, so took a motorbike taxi there (swerving to avoid a snake in the road on the way!) and walked back.

    Cambodia must be the wettest country I have ever been to.  Full of rivers, lakes, flooded rice fields, puddles - and of course the rain, which fell in torrents throughout my stay.  But fortunately we had a few dry hours during my morning outing, so I was able to get a picture of the wonderful local fishing nets without ruining yet another camera.

    Then another, quite unexpected, opportunity to experience something new came on the drive back to Phnom Penh, when we passed some stalls selling local food.  Deep-fried spiders!!

    I bought one to try, then was asked if I wanted to see a live one.  Well how could I resist!  Here it is on my arm:


    More impressive than it probably looks as I'm actually terrified of spiders.
              Whirling Dervishes        
    On both the way to and from my holiday in Central Asia I had a day and a half in transit in Istanbul. This was a great opportunity to finally see the whirling dervishes in action, and I booked myself an online ticket to a Mevlevi Sema ceremony at the Hodja Paşa Cultural Centre, a 550-year-old converted hammam.

    To the Mevlevi order, everything in the universe revolves - from electrons round an atom, to the blood in our bodies, to the planets around the sun.  The whirling of the dervishes - which they refer to as revolving - reflects this and is a way of casting off bad habits and becoming one with God.

    The dervishes enter wearing long, black cloaks, and beige felt hats which resemble a foot-high fez; these hats represents tombstones for the ego, which is shed (or dies temporarily) during the ceremony.  After many bows, and the removal of their cloaks, they slowly start to revolve.  Initially their arms are crossed with the their hands on their shoulders, but as they begin to revolve, their arms gradually loosen and open, ultmately held up in the air as they turn.  This revolving, at 1-2 revolutions per second, goes on for some forty minutes in total, although with some brief pauses as the ceremony has a number of stages.  Any ordinary mortals would be dizzy to the point of nausea but these guys are apparently experiencing an "intoxication of the soul", and so suffer no such worldly discomforts.

    To my surprise there is no joy shown on the dervishes' faces, which remain expressionless throughout.

    Although performed for tourists in this location (in fact the Mevlevi order is still outlawed in Turkey and licenced to 'perform' only for tourists), it is still really a devotional ceremony, and so we were told not only not to take photos but not to applaud either.  I found it quite moving but then I have always enjoyed the mystical side of religion, from the incense of the Ethiopian and Greek orthodox churches to the trance music of the Moroccan Gnaoua.  In fact the two things I most want to experience during my remaining time in West Africa are a Lebu exorcism (Senegal) and a voodoo ceremony (Benin).  Both are unlikely, unfortunately.

    But in Istanbul on my second transit coming back from my holiday I found another venue with a Mevlani Sema ceremony, not in such an atmospheric venue but one where photos were allowed.

              The Silk Road        

    Aside from my close encounter with a golden eagle, my ten days in Kyrgyzstan involved a lot of walking in the mountains and a lot of layers of clothing as I tried to keep warm at night. The tour mostly involved sleeping in yurts set up on bleak hillsides or in remote valleys. Yurts have been used by the indigenous nomads for many centuries, and the thick layers of felt that cover them do keep out the worst of the cold, but with my relatively skinny frame I needed to wear all the clothes I had packed at the same time to stay warm in the evenings before I burrowed under the layers of blankets they provided for us.

    We experienced other aspects of local culture too, from the food (warming meals with lots of meat and fat) and drink (a mildly fermented mare’s milk which tasted of sheep’s cheese), to the famous horsemanship skills. The latter included leaning from their saddles and picking a small (golf-ball-sized) object off the ground as they galloped past – not always successfully but this skill comes from a game using a decapitated goat which, to be fair, is rather larger than a golf ball. Horses are an integral part of the life of the nomads in Kyrgyzstan and on our walks we came across several young boys on horseback driving flocks of sheep and goats around the mountain-sides.

    We also saw the ancient (restored) caravanserai of Tash Rabat, an atmospheric stone building in the middle of a remote valley – our first introduction to the Silk Route.

    From Kyrgyzstan we travelled to Uzbekistan, only next-door but so very different. We went from green mountains to dry, flat desert, and from moveable felt yurts to solid ancient monuments.

    The name Samarkand evoked for me the same kind of exotic image as Zanzibar and Timbuktu; an almost mythical place.  & it didn't disappoint.  Mosques, mausoleums and madrassas, all magnificently restored with their dazzling blue tiles, competed for my attention with the stories of the famous men who had passed through here: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane...  the Shah -e- Zindar (street of the dead) was especially impressive, full of intricately tiled mausoleums still being visited by pilgrims.

    After Samarkand we visited Bokhara - more mosques and madrassas, but somehow on a smaller, more human scale.  This was a very relaxed place where I felt I could just wander about, or stop in one of its many cafes for a green tea, or even sit on a bench and read my book.  I was working my way through Hopkirk's "The Great Game" - to learn more about the history of the region - and this was brought to life in Bokhara when I visited the 'bug pit' where British officers Connolly and Stoddard were held by the khan for many months before being executed in the square outside the Ark.

    There were some good shopping opportunities here too, with the old madrassas and market domes filled with stalls selling ceramics, carpets, miniature paintings, silk scarves and wonderful embroidered jackets that would unfortunately be totally unsuitable for the hot climate of Dakar.

    In Bokhara I said goodbye to the rest of the group, and continued further west.  A long day's drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert, crossing the great Oxus River, took me to Khiva.  Although the wall is older, most of the buildings within the old city here date on the from the 19th century, but the effect is of somewhere much more ancient.  My hotel was actually in one of the old (or not so old) madrassas, with a wonderful minaret forming a part of it - see photo.

    An interesting practice here was to build tombs on the sloping sides of the city wall.  This meant that the body could not be buried in the ground but had to be laid in the tomb itself, and I was quite surprised when looking into one crumbling old tomb, as I climbed up the wall, to see what appeared very much to be a human thigh-bone, amongst other fragments of broken bone!

    As with the other Silk Road cities, I was surprised to see virtually no other Western tourists.  I was told that this was because most prefer to avoid the August heat and that their numbers would rise in September.  There were plenty of local tourists though, and strangely I was as much of an attraction for them as the monuments, many wanting to be photographed with me.  Then on my final day in the country - in a museum in Tashkent - I was even interviewed for Uzbekistan television, asked my views on Tashkent ceramics (on which I'm a great expert, as you can imagine) and the local way of serving green tea.

    If you're interested, the latter involves only filling the bowl half-full, so when the guest asks for more the host gets the pleasure of serving them a second time.

              The eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan        

    The art of hunting using eagles was introduced into Kyrgyzstan from Mongolia during the time of Genghis Khan. Today there are some fifty men left who continue the tradition, including Talgarbek who came to demonstrate the art with his nine-year-old golden eagle, Tumara.

    We were outside the traditional hunting season, as the birds moult in summer and so are left to rest apart from short displays for tourists. In the winter, however, Talgarbek may take his eagle out into the mountains for several days at a time on hunting expeditions. There, her job is to follow her natural instinct and hunt, and his job is to keep an eye on where she is and follow her so as to get a share of the prey. Both animal skins and meat may then be sold to nomads he passes on his route. When “at home” he feeds her (around 600g of fresh meat, usually rabbit) only every second day, as she will not hunt if she is not hungry.

    For the display, it is possible to see her kill a live rabbit, but we had been warned that this can be upsetting. Apparently they are tame rabbits brought up by the hunter and his family; the eagle will not hunt/kill when she is hooded and cannot therefore see her prey properly and the rabbits are used to her presence. On a previous display the guide said the rabbit had not even realised it was supposed to run away and so just sat there as the eagle landed until the bird started pecking at it. Not quite the same as seeing an eagle coming down and grabbing a rabbit in its talons and tearing it to pieces, which might be a spectacle worth seeing (given that the eagle has to eat…). So for us he used a fox fur, pulled along the ground by a rope, as the prey. The eagle, left unhooded and free on a rock a little up the mountainside, quickly spotted the fur and swooped down onto it, at which point the hunter ran up, fed her some alternative food (presumably the rabbit!) and removed the fur.

    We were each allowed to hold her, by wearing the thick leather glove which she sits on, and when I asked if I could stroke her I was told that was fine. Although she was hooded at the time, it was still quite a thrill to hold such an impressive bird.

    Tumara was taken from her nest in a difficult operation requiring climbing ropes, when her flight feathers were just sprouting. At this stage the parents fly off to hunt for several hours at a time, and the young are sufficiently developed to be taken away. There were two young in the nest, a male and female, and Talgarbek chose the female explaining to us that they are easier to train, being less aggressive.

    The hunter spends several hours a day with the bird and comes to be seen as the surrogate parent. Indeed that relationship works both ways, as Talgarbek says he will miss her dreadfully when he finally lets her go – that it will be like a daughter leaving home to get married – but that he will have to free her in order to give her the opportunity to find a mate and live out her adult years as a free bird. He will probably keep her until she is about twenty, which will leave her some thirty years of freedom.
     

              [EMPLOI]​ Bazarchic, SC Talent, Clémentine ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi du jour: Responsable Acquisition (H/F), Directeur de clientèle ON / OFF Line (H/F), Chief Product Officer (H/F) ...

    The post [EMPLOI]​ Bazarchic, SC Talent, Clémentine ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI] HiPay, Verlingue, Page Personnel… Les offres d’emploi #Dev #Tech de la semaine        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi #Dev #Tech de cette semaine: Product Owner (H/F), Ingénieurs Études et Développement (H/F), Ingénieur Support Applicatif (H/F)...

    The post [EMPLOI] HiPay, Verlingue, Page Personnel… Les offres d’emploi #Dev #Tech de la semaine appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI]​ ePressPack, ORC Publicorp, Page Personnel ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi du jour: Business Developper PressKing (H/F), Chef de Projet Marketing Digital (H/F), Consultant Support Fonctionnel International (H/F) ...

    The post [EMPLOI]​ ePressPack, ORC Publicorp, Page Personnel ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI] Publicis Regicom, Drouot Digital, Altaïde… Les offres d’emploi #Marketing de la semaine        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi #THEME de cette semaine: Chef de Projet SEA (H/F), Responsable Webmarketing (H/F), Responsable Marketing Digital (H/F)...

    The post [EMPLOI] Publicis Regicom, Drouot Digital, Altaïde… Les offres d’emploi #Marketing de la semaine appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [Etudiants] 8 offres de stage: Frenchweb, China Connect, Clémentine…        

    Les opportunités de stage à saisir! : Analyse & Brand Content assistant(e) (H/F), Assistant Chef de Projet Digital (H/F), Chargé(e) de Recherche en Recrutement (H/F)...

    The post [Etudiants] 8 offres de stage: Frenchweb, China Connect, Clémentine… appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI] Drouot SI, Regicom Publicis, Urban Linker… Les 10 offres d’emploi de la semaine        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi de cette semaine: sable Webmarketing (H/F), Chef de Projet SEA (H/F), Commercial (H/F)...

    The post [EMPLOI] Drouot SI, Regicom Publicis, Urban Linker… Les 10 offres d’emploi de la semaine appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI]​ Regicom, Le Groupe La Poste, Michael Page ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi du jour: Chef de Projet SEA (H/F), Chef de Projet SEO (H/F), Chef de Projet EDI (H/F) ...

    The post [EMPLOI]​ Regicom, Le Groupe La Poste, Michael Page ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI] Campings.com, Bazarchic, Clémentine… Les offres d’emploi #Sales de la semaine        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi #Sales de cette semaine: Responsable Partenariats Online (H/F), Responsable CRM (H/F), Chargé(e) de Recherche en Recrutement (H/F)...

    The post [EMPLOI] Campings.com, Bazarchic, Clémentine… Les offres d’emploi #Sales de la semaine appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI]​ Medici.tv, Bazarchic, Michael Page ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi du jour: Traffic Manager / Responsable Web Analytics (H/F), Responsable CRM (H/F), Directeur de Clientèle (H/F) ...

    The post [EMPLOI]​ Medici.tv, Bazarchic, Michael Page ​: Les 3 offres d’emploi du jour appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              [EMPLOI] Verlingue, SACEM, Altaïde… Les offres d’emploi #Dev #Tech de la semaine        

    Découvrez les opportunités d'emploi #Dev #Tech de cette semaine: 3 Ingénieurs Études et Développement (H/F), Testeur(euse) (H/F), Directeur de Création (H/F)...

    The post [EMPLOI] Verlingue, SACEM, Altaïde… Les offres d’emploi #Dev #Tech de la semaine appeared first on FrenchWeb Jobs.


              Contracts Administrator- construction        
    NSW-Dulwich Hill, Don’t miss this Great Opportunity Are you well-organised? A great communicator? Have strong administrative skills? We have a Contracts Administrator role available at our company in Sydney’s inner west. Join our successful and rapidly growing residential construction company. (Would also suit tradies wanting to get off the tools). We offer a very competitive salary and Home Impact enjoys a great w
              Wake Forest Baptist Opens Integrative Medicine Clinic        
    Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is now offering a range of wellness and medical therapies at a single patient-friendly location, providing patients the opportunity to improve health and well-being by pairing integrative medicine with their conventional treatments.
              Strong Towns Conference Sept 24-25        
    The Strong Towns Conference will be a great opportunity to learn about various aspects of building a better Louisville, from historic preservation, economics, urban design, transportation and more. There are a lot of great professionals that will be leading discussions and should be well worth your more »
              Beargrass Creek: An urban acupuncture opportunity        
    “It is truly a matter of how one looks at things – either as a problem or as an opportunity to do something creative.” (Jaime Lerner, 2014, p. 78) On a brisk fall afternoon, cyclists glide by on a dedicated bike path while the sound of more »
              Sneckdowns Louisville        
    The recent snowstorm in Louisville offers the chance to evaluate our streets and identify potential locations where underutilized pavement can be reallocated to the pedestrian environment, provide traffic calming opportunities, or at the very least simply better understand traffic patterns on our roadways. Like desire lines, more »
              Inside E-Learning di Giugno, una nuova opportunità per fare formazione smart        
    Torna l’appuntamento con l’apprendimento virtuale promosso da Inside Factory Tutto sull’ICT in 9 webinar dal 12 al 28 giugno. Pillole formative fruibili in qualsiasi luogo, da ogni device. Le sessioni sono sempre più specifiche, la formazione in continua evoluzione. Benvenuta alla nuova edizione di Inside E-Learning di Giugno, 9 corsi professionali online per perfezionare la […]

              Bruno Mars: Versace On The Floor (feat. David Guetta), testo, traduzione e video        

    Canzoni Web
    Bruno Mars: Versace On The Floor (feat. David Guetta), testo, traduzione e video

    Versace On The Floor è la nuova canzone in radio di Bruno Mars. Il singolo, che vanta il remix e la prima collaborazione con il dj producer David Guetta, segue il successo di “Thats What I Like” e “24k Magic”. “Sono super-orgoglioso di aver avuto l’opportunità di lavorare con Bruno Mars su ‘Versace on the […]

    Fonte: Bruno Mars: Versace On The Floor (feat. David Guetta), testo, traduzione e video
    Scritto da: Federica De Martino


              The Future Is Now: Five Awesome Uses Of Virtual Reality In Marketing        
    Augmented and virtual realityis technology that is becoming far more important to the societal landscape than just gaming. It's found its way into the marketing arena as a heavyweight implementation tool as well. I've written extensively on how Pokemon GO provided small businesses with opportunities to leverage the augmented reality [...]
              Soundmap cleanup, file writing, beta preparation        
    Today I started with the planned cleanup of the revised soundmap playback code. This took some time but I had it finished my mid-afternoon (please note that I have small children around, which can sometimes make the progress quite slow).

    By way of final test I did a 10 minute Burn:Cycle game session; there's still an audio decoding issue there because some parts of the music crackle heavily.

    Then I continued working on the WAV / AVI writing front. I have this essentially working now; both types of files are correctly written (the AVI files now include both audio and video). There are new options -writewav and -writeavi to invoke these functions from the command line.

    I used the WAV writing feature to check out the Burn:Cycle audio decoding issue. The audio samples go way out of range at the point of the crackles (they actually clamp against the minimum/maximum values). There is probably something wrong in the scaling or something.

    One generic issue with WAV file writing is that silent periods (where the CD-i application doesn't play any audio) do not show up in the recorded audio. For the moment, I've decided that this is a feature :-)

    There is also some kind of audio timing issue in AVI file writing; the recorded files sometimes sound "skippy". However, this may also be related to the speed of my PC; these are uncompressed AVI files which take 61.5 MB per second for the CD-i video data alone (50 x 3 x 768 x 560 bytes per second). Compared to this, audio is only a measly 172 KB per second :-)

    I've found that real-time AVI writing is nearly impossible on my hardware; the framerate drops below 2/50 sometimes (I've lowered the previous 10/50 limit) which makes the titles unplayable. Tomorrow I'll try my work PC which is much faster. That should also give me an opportunity to add frame rate throttling; on fast PC's the emulator currently runs too fast.

    However, non-realtime AVI writing also gives the "skippy" sound, so it may be unrelated. Sometimes the audio also gets way out of sync...

    One worrying generic issue is that CD-i Emulator seems to have become slower as of late, for no good reason that I can think of. It may be that some debugging code somewhere is slowing things down, but I haven't found it yet. Or it could be that the titles I'm currently running are simple more demanding...

    During testing, I also fixed a recent bug where mouse input and keyboard input interfere with each other. I also took out the use of the Shift key for button 2, as it is prone to generate false button presses when using Alt-Tab / Shift-Alt-Tab to switch between windows. You can still use the numeric "+" key for button 2, though, but that is too far away for generic use: I need an alternative closer to the space bar. Perhaps Backspace for button 2, and Esc for button 3 (buttons 1 and 2 together)?

    Finally, I've started putting together the first v0.5.3 beta distribution. It will be mostly identical to a v0.5.2 one, with some updates in the sys directory, updated cdiroms.ini and cditypes.rul files and of course an updated executable which will be named wcdiemu-v053b1.exe (for beta 1) to avoid accidentally overwriting an existing v0.5.2 executable. I've also taken a first crack at a release notes document (very descriptively named BETA1).
              AASL Post: 3 Reasons Why You Need to Attend Your State Conference        

    The very first conference I ever attended was my state conference, FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education) back in 2010. I was a brand new librarian and soaked up all the new information, ideas, and connections. It only took one conference to get me hooked. Since then, I’ve attended and presented at conferences all over North America, including ISTE, FETC, AASL, and more. But I still go back to my state conference every year, because I consider it a vital part of my profession. AASL Post: Why We Need to Be Attending Our State Conference I feel pretty passionately about professional development and I love going to conferences.  They’re such awesome opportunities to grow, connect and share. I’ve been all over the country and Canada, but the one conference I still never miss is my state conference.  That’s where everything started for me and I still see it as a vital part of my professional growth. Check out my post over on AASL Knowledge Quest to hear about how state conferences: Let you connect with other librarians from your state Give you a space to share your voice Equip you with resources for advocacy Bonus: This post can also help you advocate for funds if you’re having trouble getting financial support to attend your state conference.

    The post AASL Post: 3 Reasons Why You Need to Attend Your State Conference appeared first on Renovated Learning.


              Getting older really is getting better        
    The 2015 White House Conference on Aging was July 13, with opportunities for anyone to participate in the conversation about how getting older is different than it used to be.
              The art director of The Nightmare Before Christmas is crowdfunding a game called Jinko        
    Deane Taylor, an award-winning animator, is seeking funding for a “mixed media fantasy adventure game for young adults”. Taylor has started an Indiegogo campaign for Jinko. “The game is pretty bizarre, but also very focused”, Taylor says in the pitch video. “It’s a vast world with great opportunity to explore.” According to the page, the […]
              Comment on Maui’s Got Talent! by Monique Wilson        
    Aloha I am seeking representation for acting modeling and singing and voice over work I am located on the big island. I would also like to interact with a professional photographer. I am available for choreography work as well. Please contact me for any scouting opportunities or open call auditions. Mahalo, Monique Wilson (808)464-5397
              The referendum on AV approaches        
    Here in the UK, we are being given an historic opportunity to vote in a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) this Thursday, May 5th. It will decide how our MPs are elected in future, and the result will determine whether they are elected with AV or if First Past The Post (FPTP) is retained. ...
              Leir        
    ‘I’m not sure how he managed to do it.  How did he convince me?  Brian can be such a pain.  Now I’m down here getting shot at over some stupid crystals.’ Just a sample of the thoughts running around inside Dan Locke’s mind as his MISC Prospector “Erebus” worked away on collecting shards from the glacier blue crystal formations. An audible warning accompanied by a pale flashing yellow light on the control panel indicates that one of mining storage pods has been filled.  Leaving the Erebus in automatic mode, Dan climbs out of his seat and dons his old beaten up armour.  He pats his ever-present Arclight pistol on his hip and climbs out of the ship. Dan digs out an un-expanded empty storage pod, and then proceeds to detach and secure the full pod.  A small crane helps him lower the heavy storage container down to the ground.  During this entire exercise, Dan continually checks over his shoulder for any… visitors. Finally, after securing the empty mining pod to the Erebus, Dan begins climbing back into his ship when a flurry of laser bolts slam into the rocks, shrubs, and ground around him. Looking up, Dan gazes upon a trio of Dragonflies flown by… those who would rather he was not on Leir III.  The Outsiders, Sand Nomads, Sand People - call them what you will. Returning fire, the Prospector pilot takes cover in the entrance to his ship.  Crouching there in the doorway, Dan had just enough time to mutter, “Brian… you ass.  This is your fault.” Dan closely watches the three Dragonflies, keeping track of their movements despite the incoming fire.  It’s obvious they are surrounding him. Thankfully one of the nomads comes a little too close and a flurry of shots from Dan’s Arclight tear through him to even the odds slightly. Less thankfully... one of the remaining Dragonflies has positioned itself perfectly and opens up a torrent of fire on the Prospector entry.  Dan tucks himself tightly inside the door and ponders his predicament. Surely the other Dragonfly pilot would be attempting to steal the resources he worked so hard to extract. Mid way through Dan formulating a plan of action, a faint rumbling can be heard… growing louder.  Dan’s face sprouts a satisfied smile. Suddenly the stream of weapons fire engulfing the Erebus doorway ceases and the sounds of the Dragonfly in question turning to flee can be clearly picked out. Suddenly, the distinct sound of a larger ship’s laser cannon rings out.  Peering out the door, Dan watches as Brian’s trusty Hull B - the “Knarr” - mows down the fleeing Dragonfly with its twin laser cannons. The Knarr now spins with surprising agility and lights up the other Dragonfly which had just begun its attempt at strategic retreat. Moments later, the Knarr sets down nearby the Erebus. Dan, huge smile on his face, strides towards the newly arrived cargo ship.  Brian meets him at the bottom of the ramp and wraps his best friend up in a brief but genuine hug. “Dan! How are you making out?” Dan continues to wear his grin as he punches Brian solidly in the shoulder, “I’m alright.  Thanks to you.  Though… I was in this mess because of you.  So thanks for at least holding up your end.” Brian’s smile matches his friend’s, “Yeah I know this place can be a bit of a hot zone but those crystals will bring in some good credits!  Should be great for jewelry or holograms.” “Always about the credits eh?  No matter the risks.” “Well, sometimes you have to take the risk.” “Fair enough.  Now… enough of this rambling.  Let’s load up the Knarr and get both of us out of here before their friends come looking for them!” The pair work diligently to load the full Prospector mining pods from Erebus onto the Hull B framework, breaking briefly a couple times to tell jokes and pass along news. Now ready to depart their separate ways for the moment, the two friends embrace once more. “Dan, don’t be a stranger.  I’ll front you 20,000 credits now and I’ll send you the rest of your cut once I have it all sold.  Thanks for joining me in this.” “Don’t mention it Brian… things got a little hairier than I would have liked, but you came through in the end in that department.  Let me know how the sales go and have a safe trip!” “Will do!  Let me know the next time you need an assist from ol’ Knarr here.” Several minutes later the pair of MISC ships ease off the ground and slowly head away from Leir III and on to new destinations with new opportunities.
              Tic-Talk Tonight: Elias Portwin        
    Welcome to the newest edition of Tic-Talk, the transcript that follows is the full interview as conducted by Indira Nooyi with our guest interviewee, Elias Portwin, captain and operator of the Bolide. Interview was carried out at the Central Advocacy Detention Centre in the Ferron system on February 14, 2947. Indira Nooyi(IN): Good evening and welcome to another edition of Tic-Talk, I’m your host for the evening Indira Nooyi and with me tonight I have the captain and operator of the mining ship, the Bolide. Thank you for granting us this interview, Mr. Portwin. Elias Portwin(EP): Uh… It’s my pleasure ma’am. It’s just good to be able to tell my side, you know? IN: Indeed and we are looking forward to giving you the opportunity to tell your side. Now… Mr. Portwin, please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you become a miner? A few personal details of that nature. EP: I’m from Tram, on Asura, here in Ferron. Things are tough there… but there’s still a lot of mining know how to go around.  My family were some of the lucky ones, still have a bit of money. My parents made a living off of refurbishing and selling used mining equipment. I worked with my folks until I had enough credits for my beautiful Bolide. IN: Thank you. For those folks unfamiliar with the events that have brought you here tonight. Could you in your own words give our viewing audience a little backstory on what happened? EP: Well, ya see, I’d had a few run-ins with the Chomper crew. They were always tailin’ me, because I actually know how to find the veins. They’re a gang of talentless thieves, they are. Anyhow, I had uncovered this beauty cluster of platinum asteroids here in Ferron and I was ‘bout to start up my drillin’ when along came the fuckin’... wait, can I swear? IN: Well, this is a live feed and would prefer if you kept it to a general tone in terms of language, please continue. You mentioned a vein of platinum... EP:  Yeah… yeah. I’d found some nice platinum asteroids out on the ragged edges of Ferron. Along came Chomper to try to push me out. Ya see, Orions have weapons. Not much a little Prospector like Bolide can do to defend a claim. I sure don’t have the credits to hire mercs. I had had enough, ya know? It’s hard enough gettin’ by out there in the black all by your lonesome without a monstrosity like that breathin’ down your neck. So I decided to do something about it. IN: I see, but Ferron is a system open to trades like miners such as yourself to scout and claim these precious resources. So the Chomper, Orion mining vessel, had equal opportunity and rights to chase the same veins of resources you yourself were. I guess my question would then be, did you consider what it would mean for yourself if you decided to take the situation into your own hands? EP: With all due respect Ms. Nooyi, I don’t think you know what it’s like out there. Code among miners is that if you discover a claim and are actively mining, that’s yours. Full stop. They just waltzed in there throwing their weight around… like they always do. Did I consider what it would mean when I ruffled their feathers? Honestly, not really ma’am. I was angry and fed up. IN: Such rash action has in turn brought you into Advocacy custody waiting to hear whether or not charges are going to be laid against you or more than likely what charges will be brought forward. So in your eyes, was it worth it in the end? EP: You don’t pull your punches, do ya miss? I… well, you know, at the time it was pretty rewarding to finally get a chance to stand up for myself.  But I know it was wrong.  And was it worth it, really? No… not in the end. IN: Just for the record, do you know of or are you acquaintances with the Chomper’s captain? I know in some of these industries you run across the same people from time to time. It wouldn't take much to build a small personal grudge if one was rubbed the wrong way on a prior occasion. EP: Yeah, I know him. As I said, we’ve had some run-ins. He’s always on me because I’m good… makes the life of his crew easy to use me as a dowsing rod. We’ve had words… many times. I was tired of bein’ used. IN: It would then not be much of a stretch to say that this was more or less a simmering pot ready to boil over. I can understand how frustrating this whole situation could have been for you and in the end I think you can probably count yourself lucky no lives were lost during this incident. Now that we heard your version of events in your own words, I would like to just get some clarification on how things unfolded. To my knowledge, it was stated that you maneuvered an asteroid into the Chomper which then caused significant damage. Could you please elaborate for me not only how you managed that but what gave you the idea in the first place? EP: Yes ma’am. Well, you see… I love the Bolide but she comes equipped with just the one set of small guns up front. Not much protection and completely useless to actually attack anything. So I had to come up with somethin’ more… improvised. I discovered awhile back that if you pour energy into your front shields and are very gentle with the initial contact, you can actually push asteroids with the Bolide. I settled her nose into an impact crater on an asteroid about half the size of the Orion. I poured my power into shields, engines, and a bit into the tractor to keep the rock tight to the shields… and I pushed it right into Chomper. Those Orions are like freakin’ space whales. They can’t move worth sh… uh… worth anything. It smashed right into them, wrecked their engines before they could do anything about it. I knew I want you to know… I knew it wouldn’t destroy them. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to push back a bit… stand up for myself. IN: Since you’ve now had a chance to tell your side of the story, what was your reasoning for accepting this interview? Aren’t you concerned the information you gave today can be used to incriminate you? EP: Ms. Nooyi, I haven’t hidden anything. The sensor data from Chomper, the sensor data from Bolide. It’s clear what happened. I’m not going to avoid punishment. I hope that the judge in my case will take into account the history involved but there’s no need to try and twist the truth. I’m glad no one was hurt. I just wanted a chance to tell folks my side of what happened. Thank you for giving me that chance ma’am. IN: Thank you for sitting down with me this evening, I do wish you the best of luck going forward. I’m Indira Nooyi and this has been another edition of Tic-Talk, thanks for joining us and see you next week.
              Summer in Suburbia        
    The English sun has finally made an appearance, and I am taking full advantage of the opportunity to take each of my summery sundresses (the ones that have been wilting sadly in the back of my wardrobe for the last 12 months) out for a well deserved stroll. A back garden BBQ provided the perfect excuse for me to give this floral 80s number an update with dark lipstick and 90s-esque glasses. Hope you like...
    xxx
              Candy Floss Days of Summer        
    Before I start, I would just like to point out the fact that, yes, I know it's not summer. As much as I might wish it was- as much as I wish I could bury my head under my duvet and pretend that the stifling air in my room is drifting in through the window from a sultry, hot night instead of from my blow heater- even I cannot ignore the inevitable signs that the seasons are changing. The leaves are steadily turning gold, a bowl of freshly-collected, glossy brown conkers has taken pride of place on our living room table, and there is that definite nip in the air that demands the first trip up to the loft to uncover last season's fur coat and vintage Christmas jumpers.

    OK, I am not denying that there is not some excitement in this. The musty scent of vintage knits and the new crispness in the air carry with them that back to school feeling that has you hankering for the scent of new text books and high denier ribbed tights, and that gives you the urge to go to WH Smiths and buy a new pencil case, no matter how many years ago you left school. Autumn is a time of promise; the dry leaves on the pavement whisper to you of that smoky scent mixed with the taste of red toffee apples that can only mean bonfire night, and the echoes of fireworks resounding through the brilliant cold of black, November air. It all has a touch of magic to it, yes. Even I, eternal child of summer and running barefoot on the beach, have been a little affected by it's sparkle. And yet.

    As much as I look forward to winter and the promise of Christmas, I lament the loss of summer like the loss of a dear friend, or an intense, all-consuming holiday romance. For those short, fleeting summer months that we are (sometimes) blessed with in this country, there exists a time of endless possibilities; reading in the garden, camping by the sea, the smell that rises from a hot, sun-baked pavement after the rain has fallen. My memories of childhood and adolescence are a continuous steam of golden, sunlit flashes and hazy summer moments; of water fights in the garden, the faded pastel stripes of Neapolitan ice cream, toasting marshmallows with my little brothers and Adam Crossley from down the road, and then later: making up dance routines to Beyonce's Baby Boy, laying beside my best friend on the trampoline one cool summer night, looking up at the stars and laughing til our bodies shook and we could no longer breathe.

    So, while I do look forward to the coming of the colder months and the fashion opportunities that arise from them, I still look back to summer and its somewhat haunting beauty. I say haunting because for me, summer is the time of year that holds the most poignant memories, and although those memories are happy and golden, I have always thought that there is something about happy memories that is incredibly and overwhelmingly sad. Because- as happy as they are, as much as they represent a time of beauty and freedom and youth- they are gone. So it is with a bitter sweet feeling that I welcome in this season and say goodbye to the old.  

    But anyway, I have gone off on a ridiculous tangent that I totally didn't even plan to go into...What I really wanted to say was that right now, I am kind of liking the idea of hanging onto a remnant of those hazy, candyfloss days of seaside pier wanderings and summertime fairgrounds via my wardrobe. The person that originally inspired me to do so was the beautiful Marina Diamandis, who I mentioned in my last post and who is my celeb style crush of the week. When searching online for some sartorial inspiration for an outfit to wear at London Fashion Weekend (which I attended on Friday with my close friend Leah, as is our tradition) I came across Marina, dressed for the shows in a concoction of candy pink pieces, teamed with pale pink curls and matching lipstick. Finally, someone who wasn't draped in the predictable autumnal hues of September, but someone who was rocking an unashamedly sugary mix of shades teamed with none other than bare legs. I took note.


    As well as Marina, though, I have recently been reflecting on the fact that I have a rather extreme style crush on Kirsten Dunst, and that she is possibly one of the most beautiful women in the world. This is probable due to the fact that I watched The Virgin Suicides for the first time ever this summer (I know, it pains me that it took me 22 years to discover such an amazing and visually stunning film) and was taken aback by the haunting images, teenage nostalgia and hazy summer feeling that I always try to capture in my own creative writing. For me, Kirsten, with her laid back sun bleached waves, subtly suggestive smile and far-away dewy-eyed look, is the perfect embodiment of all those things that the film captures so well.     


    Film stills from The Virgin Suicides

    Getting back to my outfit though, I ended up ordering something in dark colours and edgy jewel tones with a flash of leopard print thrown in just because it went so well with the most amazing shoes the world has ever seen, which I simply had to order from Topshop the second I saw them. But alas, it wasn't to be. Although the shoes arrived on time, my vintage outfit arrived a day too late, and I was left desperately rifling through Absolute Vintage near Old Spittalfiels Market on my lunch hour in a big sweaty mess at the last minute. However, with Marina Diamandis in mind, as well as the lingering of summer vibes I was evidently clinging onto, I somehow found the perfect outfit. The thing is, the pictures I took at London Fashion Weekend are not majorly impressive, given that I'd been at work all day and had rushed there straight after on the tube, was horrendously hot, sweaty and disheveled. Not to mention that there weren't really many posing opportunities. Therefore, I decided to recreate the look today with a photoshoot in my room, and have a little fun reveling in girliness with my mum's set of hot rollers while I was at it. I hope you enjoy my attempt at clincing onto the fading days of summer with a little candy floss chic...




      Me in my London Fashion Weekend Outfit.

    Hope you enjoyed the post guys! xoxo
              If you're not feeling well but think things can't get any worse - you forgot to factor in the Australian Minister for Health's cost cutting ways        

    The Age, 4 August 2017:

    State and territory health ministers say hospital treatments and services will suffer under a Commonwealth proposal to withhold budgeted funds and reduce spending.

    Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has drafted a directive to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority to review its public hospital funding method.

    It would result in retrospective funds not being paid and reduced services in future, Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said in a joint statement issued after the COAG Health Council meeting in Brisbane on Friday.

    Mr Hunt drew condemnation from Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT when he confirmed he would uphold the direction.

    "States and Territories have already funded services and boosted frontline staffing taking into consideration Commonwealth funding," the statement said.


    Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), media release, 17 July 2017:
    IHPA releases Consultation Paper on Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19
    The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) today released its Consultation Paper on the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19. The consultation is open to the public until Thursday 17 August 2017.
    The Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19 outlines the major policy decisions which will underpin the National Efficient Price and National Efficient Cost Determinations for 2018-19.
    This year IHPA will seek feedback regarding work that has been progressed on pricing and funding for safety and quality as well as canvassing options to enable new and innovative approaches to value based or preventative health care models.
    The Chair of the Pricing Authority, Shane Solomon said, “IHPA has continued to work closely with the jurisdictions, clinicians and other stakeholders to make significant progress on the implementation of national reforms to incorporate safety and quality into the pricing and funding of public hospitals in Australia.
    “A range of factors must now be considered including risk adjustment and how the approach can be embedded as part of broader system change.
    “The success of a safety and quality pricing and funding mechanism is dependent on national, state, and local health systems working together to support the implementation of a model and ensure that it is working to improve safety and quality across all services,” he said.
    “The Consultation Paper is an important opportunity for stakeholders to engage with IHPA on the approach to pricing and funding for safety and quality as well as the emergence of new innovative pricing models to help improve public hospital services across Australia. We strongly encourage all interested parties to provide feedback as part of this process,” concluded Mr Solomon.
    The Consultation Paper on the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19 is available on the IHPA website.
    Submissions should be emailed as an accessible Word document to submissions.ihpa@ihpa.gov.au or mailed to PO Box 483, Darlinghurst NSW 1300 by 5pm on Thursday 17 August 2017.
    – ENDS –

    Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Ministerial Direction, 16 February 2017:
    Ministerial Direction
    On 16 February 2017 IHPA received a Ministerial Direction from the Hon. Greg Hunt under section 226(1) of the National Health Reform Act 2011.
    The Direction requires that IHPA undertake implementation of agreed recommendations of the COAG Health Council on pricing for safety and quality to give effect to:
    1. nil funding for a public hospital episode including a sentinel event which occurs on or after 1 July 2017, applying to all relevant episodes of care (being admitted and other episodes) in hospitals where the services are funded on an activity basis and hospitals where services are block funded; and
    2. an appropriate reduced funding level for all hospital acquired complications, in accordance with Option 3 of the draft Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2017-18, as existing on 30 November 2016, to reflect the additional cost of a hospital admission with a hospital acquired complication, to be applied across all public hospitals; and
    3. undertake further public consultation to inform a future pricing and funding approach in relation to avoidable hospital readmissions, based on a set of definitions to be developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
    IHPA will incorporate the requirements under this Direction into the final Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospitals 2017-18 due to be published on the IHPA website in early March 2017.
    IHPA will undertake further consultation as part of its annual consultation process on the draft Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospitals 2018-19 due for publication in June 2017 and provide a report back to the COAG Health Council by 30 November 2017.
    Note: This follows on from a Direction received on 29 August 2016 which required IHPA to provide advice to the COAG Health Council on options for pricing for safety and quality.
    More information
    For any questions, please contact enquiries.ihpa@ihpa.gov.au
    Links

              Still feel unhappy with the Turnbull Government's policies on underground, land surface and marine waters? So you should        

    “Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans and large lakes, caused by "excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water.” [US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration]

    Every Northern Hemisphere Spring this dead zone occurs in the Gulf of Mexico and increases in size over time.



    It is only one of more than 400 hypoxic areas world-wide which were mapped in 2008.


    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Andrew H. Altieri et al, 2017, Tropical dead zones and mass mortalities on coral reefs:

    Oxygen-starved coastal waters are rapidly increasing in prevalence worldwide. However, little is known about the impacts of these “dead zones” in tropical ecosystems or their potential threat to coral reefs. We document the deleterious effects of such an anoxic event on coral habitat and biodiversity, and show that the risk of dead-zone events to reefs worldwide likely has been seriously underestimated. Awareness of, and research on, reef hypoxia is needed to address the threat posed by dead zones to coral reefs.

    Degradation of coastal water quality in the form of low dissolved oxygen levels (hypoxia) can harm biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human wellbeing. Extreme hypoxic conditions along the coast, leading to what are often referred to as “dead zones,” are known primarily from temperate regions. However, little is known about the potential threat of hypoxia in the tropics, even though the known risk factors, including eutrophication and elevated temperatures, are common. Here we document an unprecedented hypoxic event on the Caribbean coast of Panama and assess the risk of dead zones to coral reefs worldwide. The event caused coral bleaching and massive mortality of corals and other reef-associated organisms, but observed shifts in community structure combined with laboratory experiments revealed that not all coral species are equally sensitive to hypoxia. Analyses of global databases showed that coral reefs are associated with more than half of the known tropical dead zones worldwide, with >10% of all coral reefs at elevated risk for hypoxia based on local and global risk factors. Hypoxic events in the tropics and associated mortality events have likely been underreported, perhaps by an order of magnitude, because of the lack of local scientific capacity for their detection. Monitoring and management plans for coral reef resilience should incorporate the growing threat of coastal hypoxia and include support for increased detection and research capacity.

    Anyone still in favour of allowing an expansion of coal mining in the Galilee Basin, Queensland?

    Anyone still comfortable with the amount of agricultural/industrial run-off into the Great Barrier Reef, marine protected areas and Australian coastal waters, which is allowed under state and federal policies?

    It’s not just our rivers and aquifers which are suffering from political inaction and vested interest greed.

    BACKGROUND

    The Australian Government’s OzCoasts website states:

    A reduction in dissolved oxygen concentrations is amongst the most important effects of eutrophication on aquatic organisms [4]. Hypoxia can cause direct mortality, reduced growth rates and altered behaviour and distributions of fish [4] and other organisms. In addition, bottom-water hypoxia can interact with elevated water temperatures at the surface to produce a "temperature-oxygen squeeze" effect, which can greatly reduce the amount of summer habitat available for some species [12]. Eggs and larvae of fish (and crustaceans) may be particularly susceptible to this effect because these life history stages are less able to avoid unfavourable conditions, and because they live in near shore areas, such as estuaries, where too-high water temperatures and too-low oxygen conditions often occur [5]. Changes in fish assemblages and crustaceans in response to hypoxia and & anoxia can render these organisms more susceptible to fishing pressure, and can increase the abundance of non-targeted species in by-catch [4].

    Dissolved oxygen status also influences the uptake or release of nutrients from sediment. When oxygen is depleted, the nitrification pathway is blocked, and efficiencies may be lowered. As a consequence, more nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorous) are released from the sediment in bio-available forms [7]. These nutrients help to sustain algal blooms, and therefore continue the supply organic matter to the sediments [7]. With organic matter (energy) diverted from invertebrate consumption to microbial decomposition, the natural pattern of energy flow is altered, and pelagic and opportunistic species are favoured [8]. Indeed, an increased ratio of planktivore:demersal fish biomass is an important effect of eutrophication [11]. Low bottom water oxygen concentrations are also conducive to the build-up of toxic compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia gas, which can also be harmful to benthic organisms and fish. Even short-lived anoxic events can cause the mass mortality of fish and benthic organisms [10].

    Overall, anoxic and hypoxic events can cause large reductions in the abundance, diversity and harvest of fish in affected waters [4], and can contribute to an overall loss of bio-diversity[9]. However, the extent to which bottom water anoxia causes declines in overall fish production depends on a balanced between the negative and positive and effects of eutrophication in the full spectrum of habitats within the system [4]……

    Major research institutions, universities and government (local and State) agencies gather oxygen data for specific research studies. Some information on anoxic and hypoxic events in Australian coastal waterways was compiled during the National Land & Water Resources Audit. In most cases, no data was available. However, localised or short-lived periods of hypoxia were reported in the Derwent and Huon estuaries (TAS) and in the Tuggerah Lakes (NSW). Prolonged and extensive anoxia is experienced in the Gippsland Lakes.

    Note:

    Anoxia is an extreme form of hypoxia.

              I'm your...ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherrybomb!        

    I didn't think that it was actually possible for me to fall anymore in love with the beautiful, ivory-skinned, chocolate-haired fashion icon that is K-Stew, but after seeing her star in The Runaways last week, I realised that it totally was. Like most people, I first found out about Kristen Stewart when she stole the show as Bella in Twilight. Well, ok, it was actually Robert Pattinson who really stole the show for me and who subsequently caused me to read all the books and embark on my Twilight/Edward Cullen obsession (that was the first time I realised it is totally possible to fall THAT much in love with a fictional character...) but you know what I mean. If Edward was my hot man/vampire crush (or should I say love of my life ;-)) Bella was my effortless style/beauty crush. I was awed at the way Kristen could look so beautiful in such a laid-back, casual, effortless, non try-hard way. I lusted after the way her flawless, luminous pale skin glowed in the dimness, the way her chocolate brown waves fell effortlessly around her face. I even liked the simplicity of her wardrobe; the khaki parkas, the dark denim, the faded, checked shirts. The effortless style only seemed to emphasise her natural, un-made up beauty. She was the perfect Bella- beautiful but without even realising it. I think that is one of the main things I love about Kristen and the way she plays Bella- she isn't this perfect, all-American cookie-cutter teen with a cute giggle and a flirtatious smile. Bella strikes you as awkward, reluctant, a little unsure of herself but confident at the same time; in an 'I'm an outsider but that's cool' sort of way. You get the impression that she has no idea how stunning she really is, and doesn't really care much about it either. She's the perfect heroine, because she's not the sort of character that you think would fall head-over -heels in love with the mysterious, dreamy, heart-stoppingly beautiful Vampire boy. But she does- against all her better instincts- and that's what I think makes it that more exciting, and what stops the film from being cheesy.Bella and Edward are both beautiful but in non- stereo typical ways- she's an shy, slightly awkward high school teen with out the Hollywood tan and cheerleader outfit, and he's really a dangerous predator that has to fight the urge to bite into her flesh every second he's near her. Heart-meltingly romantic, but with a dangerous twist :-)

     This scene is so beautiful and magical...one of my faves in the film :-)

    I fell in love with the whole look and feel of the film; the awkward, disjointed editing, the hazy palette of woody greens and blues, the green light filtering through the mossy trees on the Forks forests,  the slow, hypnotic way that the story and the romance unfolds. It all captures that intense, intoxicating, mind-altering feeling of adolescent infatuation so brilliantly. Not to mention the music...I can't hear Bella's lullaby without feeling like I'm sitting beside Edward, watching him play it to me on the piano...




    But anyway, before I go on any more about what a Twilight addict I am, let's get on to The Runaways. I'd been looking forward to seeing the film literally since I first discovered Twilight two summers ago, when I kept reading about how Kristen was going to be taking on the exciting role of 70's rocker Joan Jett.Sadly though, I felt that the film didn't live up to it's potential. It didn't really go very deep into the lives of the characters and it all felt kind of on the surface and flashy. Joan was depicted as this troubled, rebellious young girl who turned to drugs and a life of rock and roll, but it didn't really explain why she was like that, where she had come from and what she had been through to make her want to rebel so much. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities to go deeper into the story behind the band. However, I thought Kristen's performance was fantastic, as was Dakota Fanning's. The thing that really made the film for me though, was of course the fashion. Here are some of the looks I've been loving since I saw it :-)

    My fave look of the entire film!

    Watch this space for some Runaways- inspired outfits coming right up..!

    Lots of love, The Porcelain Princess
    xxxxxx
              Surprise, surprise - those Murray-Darling Basin water raiders have slithered over the horizon once more and are eyeing off the Clarence Valley river system yet again        

    With so little fanfare that much of  Northern Rivers region missed it, the NSW Berejiklian Government reopened the March 2016 inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales on 28 May 2017, with Terms of Reference published in July 2017.

    This Upper House inquiry is chaired by Robert Brown MLC, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and its reporting date has been extended to 30 March 2018. 

    Current committee membership is as follows:

    Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Chair
    Mick Veitch MLC, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Chair
    Jeremy Buckingham MLC, The Greens
    Rick Colless MLC, The Nationals
    Scot MacDonald MLC, Liberal Party
    Greg Pearce MLC, Liberal Party
    Penny Sharpe MLC, Australian Labor Party
    Daniel Mookhey MLC, Australian Labor Party
    Paul Green MLC, Christian Democratic Party
    * Jeremy Buckingham MLC (Greens)is substituting for Dr Mehreen Faruqui MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
    * Matthew Mason-Cox MLC (Liberal)  is substituting for Hon Greg Pearce MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
    * Paul Green MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC will be participating for the duration of the inquiry.

    A poorly advertised public hearing scheduled for 1 August 2017 in Lismore (with details sent to media on 31 July 2017) excluded Northern Rivers residents from giving evidence unless they represented a small number of invited groups.

    It appears the committee had also determined that Clarence Valley Council was to be asked its view on diverting Clarence River system flood water.

    Given flood water is already diverted to the purpose built Shannon Creek side dam to ensure a sustainable water supply for the est. 125,103 residents (Census 2016) currently living in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas, there are no prizes for guessing where any additional water diversion would be allocated.

    Yes, that paragon of sustainable water mismanagement - the cluster of councils, industries, irrigators and water traders within the Murray-Darling Basin.

    It will come as no surprise that Griffith Council is still pursuing a Clarence River dam and divert scheme. North Coast Voices reported on its obsession in August 2016.

    This is what the Griffith City Council Deputy mayor, Dino Zappacosta of Zappacosta Estate Wines in Hanwood, told the inquiry on 1 March 2017:

    The issue that my committee, Build More Dams, has looked at is that we need more water because farmers are crying out for more water. We need new water. By "new water", I mean water that is not currently being used at all. We looked at various options, including the Clarence Valley area, where millions and millions of megalitres of water flow out into the sea for what seems to be no real benefit at all for the community of the Clarence region, other than for the natural farming land and the fishery industry there.

    It soon became apparent that, appart from the notion of free water at the expense of Clarence Valley communities’ social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and economic values, Griffith Council knew little about how this dam and divert scheme would work.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: You have been talking about the Clarence River diversion scheme. Is it correct that that is essentially restricted to the Mann River subcatchment?

    Mr ZAPPACOSTA: To the best of my knowledge, it covers most of the tributaries—for example, the Boyd River, the Mann River, the Nymboida River and the Timbarra River. They are highlighted on map 2, which was provided to the Committee.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: I am a little confused about the way the map reads. It appears as though the water is coming out of the Mann River catchment, which is a subcatchment of the Clarence. The divisions appear to be above the confluence of the Nymboida and the Mann. You recommend a 23 per cent Clarence River diversion, but the question is: What percentage of is that of the Mann River flow and what environmental impact will that have on the Mann River below where it is diverted? We should keep in mind the history of the Snowy River and what has happened there over the past 50 years. Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I will have to take on notice exactly how much comes from the Mann River itself.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: What is the reduction in flow from the sub-catchment rivers below where the water is diverted from them? What environmental impacts will that have on those rivers?

    Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I appreciate the question. I think what you are asking is something we should dig into a bit deeper; there should be a study of it, preferably a feasibility study.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: There needs to be a lot of work done on this, as you would appreciate.

    While the Director of Utilities at Griffith City Council stated:

    As an engineer I see the great benefits of supporting a scheme such as the Clarence River diversion scheme, not only from a water augmentation point of view. My directorate covers water supply as well as the flooding impacts caused by rainfall run-off. The Clarence River diversion scheme is not only a supply scheme but a flood mitigation solution, as the general manager mentioned. In my research I have referred to the document entitled Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 produced by BMT WBM consultants. They happen to be the same consultants who undertook our flood study and provided our flood mitigation options. They work across the State and they are well versed in flooding, from the Northern Rivers down to our area.

    The Clarence River catchment on the far North Coast of New South Wales is one of the largest catchments on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 20,000 square kilometres. It is above the towns of Grafton, Maclean and Yamba, and it is home to more than 20,000 people. The lower Clarence Valley has a long history of flooding, since settlement in about 1850. Bear with me as I read out the dates of the flooding events. I was just going to say a number, but it has more of an impact when you follow the years of flooding that the area has endured due to the large catchment that sits above it. Floods were recorded in 1863 and 1864. There was a record flood in 1890 in which two people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the rural area. Further floods occurred in 1921 and 1928. Since 1945 the incidence of major flooding has been much higher, with floods occurring in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

    There is a regular occurrence of extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers catchment, below the Clarence River. Section 4.4 of the Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 acknowledges that "the river flows originating from upstream of Grafton dominate flooding in the Lower Clarence Valley". Diversion of the Clarence River flows for that area towards the west, and the 25 per cent or 23.8 per cent that will be captured, diverted and controlled, will be of great benefit to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers area. The document further says that it will maximise the investment from the Government not only to help solve water augmentation issues but to reduce the financial and human impacts flooding has in the northern coastal areas. The Clarence River diversion scheme was documented in 1981 by David Coffey and he estimated costings back then. We have done a projection to a present-day cost of approximately $10 billion. There are statistics on the map that I have provided to the Committee.

    The Snowy Mountains scheme would have cost $10 billion in present-day money, so there are similar costings in the schemes. The 1,100 gigalitres diverted per annum from the Clarence River has generated $1.82 billion in agriculture. The scheme means that 23.8 per cent of the flows that would be heading down to flood people can be diverted. When you equate the $550 million a year in flood damages with the cost of a diversion scheme, 1,100 gigalitres can generate $1.8 billion a year in agriculture growth. The additional water means that 118,000 hectares of viable open country can be farmed. The offset of diversion and flood protection is that it is beneficial to all. That is where I will leave it.

    The public hearing in Griffith was reported thus by The Area News on 2 March 2017:

    HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water….

    The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community….

    Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.

    The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.

    According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin. 

    “We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.

    Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.

    “It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.

    “It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.

    “There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”

    Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.

    “Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.

    “They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”

    “We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”

    Not content with bringing down the largest river system in Australia in order to line their own pockets, these wanabee water raiders just keep on coming after what they see as more 'free' water for the rorting.

    Clarence Valley Council gave evidence at the re-opened inquiry on 1 August and the only question of interest to the water raiders came after a few minutes of questioning at Page 26 of the Lismore public hearing transcript:

    The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you for your submission. In your submission you talk about this idea of diversion of the Clarence River to west of the Great Dividing Range. Could you give us a bit of a background on that proposal and what your council thinks about it?

    Mr ANDERSON: I will start but Mr Mashiah might finish. Our council has resolved six times that they do not support the diversion of the Clarence, and each time that has been unanimous in regard to council's position. That is based on the fact that damage to the environment and the ecological systems that work within the Clarence River emerge from there. 

    The CHAIR [Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]: You probably cannot answer this, but that is an all-encompassing position of council?

    Mr ANDERSON: Yes.

    The CHAIR : I wonder what the council's position would be on the diversion of floodwaters only.

    Mr ANDERSON: Again, Mr Chair, like you said, I cannot answer that question.

    The CHAIR: What I am asking you is that I guess the council's resolutions were not burrowed down to that extent to be able to answer that question. We might ask Clarence council for an opinion on that.

    The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Are those decisions supported by an independent side to pick advice? How were they derived?

    Mr MASHIAH: There was a Healthy Rivers Commission inquiry into the Clarence in I think it was 1999, from memory, and part of the outcome of that commission inquiry was the importance of regular flood events in terms of the fishing industry and also the cane industry. I believe you have representatives from the cane industry here with us later.

    The CHAIR: This afternoon, yes.

    Mr MASHIAH: And also in terms of fisheries, one of the aspects that Clarence Valley Council has been active in for the past 20 years is trying to manage the floodplain to address issues such as acid runoff.

    The CHAIR: Solid sulfate soils.

    Mr MASHIAH: As the sulfate soils and particular acids run off. So we have done things like open floodgates and—

    The CHAIR: And you should be congratulated.

    Mr MASHIAH: Thank you, Mr Chair, for that. I will pass that on to the relevant staff who have been coordinating that. The regular flushing of those areas, which are fish breeding grounds, by floodwaters is very important. So if floods were diverted there are significant concerns from the fishing industry about the ongoing viability of the industry because the grounds where fish breed, according to the studies that have been undertaken, would then be adversely impacted. So that is one of the reasons that the fishing industry has very strongly opposed, through our estuary management committee in particular and through the estuary management plan, any diversion of water and we have tried to ensure that the fish breeding grounds are protected.

    The CHAIR: I just made the observation that most of those fish breeding grounds would not be the same areas of land that are subject to high residential development or business or commercial or other aspects. In other words, you are not talking about the township of Grafton itself, you are talking river peripheries, flooded-out areas, for breeding concerns?

    Mr MASHIAH: The challenge is that the urban footprint on the lower Clarence floodplain is probably about 1 to 2 per cent of the total surface area and all the urban areas are surrounded by rural areas. So it is very hard to work out how you manage that 1 or 2 per cent without adversely impacting the other 98 per cent, or vice versa, how do you manage the 98 per cent without adversely impacting 1 or 2 per cent of urban area?

    The CHAIR: The 2013 flood, you have described it as a major flood, correct?

    Mr MASHIAH: It was the flood of record at Grafton.

    The CHAIR: I am wondering how the 2013 flood would have enhanced the fishery on the Clarence?

    Mr MASHIAH: The main issue with the 2013 flood—I guess with any flood in the Clarence the flood behaviour in the upper river is a lot different to the flood behaviour in the lower river because of the tidal influences in particular and also how wet the floodplain is already. The 2013 event was actually three floods.

    The CHAIR: And they rolled up on each other?

    Mr MASHIAH: Yes, within a three-week period—quite distinct flood events.

    The CHAIR: So it was a prolonged flood.

    Mr MASHIAH: It was a prolonged flood and that meant there was significant inundation of back swamp areas, and I understand that there were some areas that effectively were areas that were flushed that had not been flushed in floods probably since 2001, so it is probably 12 years. So from an ecological perspective, talking to our environmental scientists, I understand that it was actually quite beneficial because the bigger floods only get into those areas once every 10 to 20 years.

    The CHAIR: Were there any concurrent blackwater events for the fishery?

    Mr MASHIAH: Not that I can recall, and I think that is a result of the management measures that have been undertaken on the floodplain because most of the farmers now operate the floodgates and so only shut the floodgates when there is actually a flood coming and open them fairly soon afterwards.

    The CHAIR: So it is their responsibility to operate their own floodgates, is it?

    Mr MASHIAH: That has been passed on to them, yes.

    The CHAIR: Do you have any oversight of that?

    Mr ANDERSON: Yes, we do, and we work with those groups and undertake training et cetera . It is a two-way street of communication: they tell us what they need and, vice versa, we provide training associated with that and inductions and operate that through a number of committees et cetera as well.

    Evidence was also given by the NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association (commencing Page 38) the NSW Canegrowers Association (commencing Page 45) and the Clarence Environment Centre (commencing Page 56).


    One has to wonder why the committee members of this reformed Water Augmentation Inquiry didn't seek the views of those holding Native Title (See Yaegl People #1 Yaegl People #2) over the Clarence River from the waters approximately half-way between Ulmarra and Brushgrove right down to the eastern extremities of the northern and southern breakwater walls at the mouth of the river.

    After all they are significant stakeholders in any discussion of water policy and water management in the Clarence River catchment area.

    The other matter of note, arising from North Coast Voices somewhat belated discovery that the water raiders were back on the scene, is the suggestion that not all Clarence Valley councillors had forewarning that council staff were appearing before the inquiry on 1 August.

    If true this would be a disturbing indication that council administration has retained some of the bad habits it acquired under the former general manager who was handed his hat in March this year.


              Dombeck receives Ansel Adams Award for leadership in protecting National Forests        

    WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck will receive the Ansel Adams Award from The Wilderness Society Thursday night for his major role in protecting the national forests.

    "Mike was a game-changer,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. “He restored balance to the management of our 155 national forests, making clean water, recreation, and fish and wildlife priorities, as the law requires. He was the main architect of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which prevented logging and road building across 58.5 million acres of our national forests. It was the capstone of a quarter century of sterling public service with federal land management agencies.”

    A native of Wisconsin with a Ph.D. in fisheries biology, Dombeck served three years as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management before President Clinton appointed him Forest Service chief in 1997. No other person has lead both of this nation’s largest land management agencies.

    Since leaving the government in 2001, Dombeck has been a University of Wisconsin System Fellow and a professor of global conservation at the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He also directs the Smith Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Conservation Biology.

    “Mike was, in my view, the most independent chief that the Forest Service has had since Gifford Pinchot himself,” said Dr. Jerry Franklin, a University of Washington professor often described as “the father of modern forestry.” Pinchot was the first chief, serving from 1898 to 1910. “Mike broke out of the mold and did really innovative things. He did that by design and force of will,” said Franklin, a long-time member of The Wilderness Society’s Governing Council.

    “As our country grows, we continue to chip away at our wild places, losing acre by acre, day after day,” said Dombeck. “Protecting the remaining roadless areas of our national forests is perhaps this nation’s last opportunity to keep our few remaining wild places intact.

    “They are important habitats and anchor points for native plants and animals in the face of a changing climate. These remote areas provide some of the last best hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities with at least a measure of solitude. In today’s fast-paced society, these are the places where future generations might experience the land as their forefathers did. It has been a privilege for me to have a career working with people who care deeply about the health of the land. They are the ones who have earned this award.”

    The award that Dombeck will receive is named for the celebrated photographer who, until his death, was an outspoken advocate for safeguarding the nation’s natural heritage. “It is noteworthy that Mike is the third winner from Wisconsin,” Meadows pointed out. The award was presented to Congressman David Obey (D) in 2000 and to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson in 1990. Nelson served the state as a governor and U.S. Senator and spent the final 24 years of his life as counselor of The Wilderness Society.

    Other winners of the Ansel Adams Award include former Congressman Mo Udall (D-NM), former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, President Jimmy Carter, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-ME), Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus.

    The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.

    For a hi-res photo of Dombeck, contact tmiller@uwsp.edu.

    May 18, 2010

              Memories of a Maryland forest        

    The forest patch in my Maryland backyard has always been a part of my life and is filled with fond memories. This patch is one of the last remaining outposts of nature amongst the rapid development in Frederick’s outskirts, cut off from its brethren.

    Yet this small patch has been thriving for decades.

    The forest undergoes wondrous transformations with the changing of the seasons. During spring every plant ardently strives to be the largest; every centimeter of their delicate foliage strains for the Sun. When summer arrives, schools of industrious minnows snatch insects off the surface of the gurgling creek. As summer wanes into autumn, the trees explode into a whirlwind of brilliant, dazzling color. Winter ushers in the end of the year as the slumbering forest is gently bundled into a fluffy white blanket. Birds of all species emerge from the trees and crowd my mother’s bird-feeders in a flock of color: cardinal red, junco gray, and sparrow brown..

    But this patch is a mere scrap compared to the magnificent National Forests, particularly the untouched Roadless areas. According to the Forest Service, the 58.5 million acres of roadless forests are indispensible to wildlife as they tend to have older and rarer trees than non-protected areas. These forests provide irreplaceable ecological services to both people and wildlife. They keep our waterways clean, provide unparalleled recreation, filter our air, preserve our soil, sequester carbon, and more.

    “Although roadless areas represent less than 1 percent of the American landmass, they serve as a reservoir of rare and vanishing values,” according to former Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck. “They provide clean drinking water, habitat for fish and wildlife, abundant hunting and fishing, recreation opportunities, reference areas for research, and barriers against noxious and invasive species.” Roadless areas are also highly productive economically. In 1984 alone, roadless areas in Colorado provided over $60 million in recreation revenue to the state.

    My great hope is that the U.S. continues to expand the roadless areas in light of their significant ecological and economic benefits. As a child, I took many creek walks with my mother and sister in our backyard forest. I can only imagine the splendor of hiking in a national forest.

    Learn more: See a chronology of the Roadless rule
     

    Photo: Fallen tree gives snow a place to sit in Maryland.

    Photo courtesy of: Sarah Peters

    Fallen tree gives snow a place to sit


              See Battlefield 4's Dynamic Level Elements In Action        

    Destructible environments are only one way soldiers can interact with levels in Battlefield 4. This new video from DICE shows a few of the other options awaiting players.

    DICE has dubbed its interactive level design "levolution," and as stupid as the term may be, the environments offer players a number of enticing opportunities to get the drop on their opponents. These include blasting open new pathways, raising security posts to block incoming vehicles, closing shutter gates to block off invading forces, and throwing grenades inside enemy-occupied boxcars and locking the door behind them. Some levels feature more large-scale changes, such as collapsing skyscrapers (which stunned E3 goers), ambient weather, and a city-wide flood. The video also shows a sneak peek at the China Rising expansion pack, which will be available to players who preorder the game or purchase Battlefield 4 Premium.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    Battlefield 4 is coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on October 29. It will be a launch title for PlayStation 4 (November 15) and Xbox One (TBA). For gameplay impressions, read Mike Futter's Gamescom preview.


              What do you take a stand for?        
    In our lives, we have two or three opportunities to be a hero, but almost every day, we have the opportunity not to be a coward.

    - Spanish proverb



    What do you take a stand for?

    Courage comes in many forms. In Hollywood, courage involves evildoers and daring deeds. In real life, rescue workers, police, and the military have the courage to lay their lives on the line for someone else or a cause. Even for those of us who live life on a much smaller ...
              Connecting to an international cause close to home        
    I was born in Bangladesh. I lived most of my early childhood in Kuwait. I then immigrated to Canada when I was 12 years old. Our family struggled upon our arrival in Canada as my dad worked to get himself established and give us the opportunity we needed to live comfortably. It was because of […]
          

              An Escape from Reality – Childhood Cancer Canada and Softchoice Cares Day        
    Softchoice has been working with Childhood Cancer Canada on a number of events, one of which was hosted at Softchoice’s Toronto office as part of our first ever, company-wide volunteer day Softchoice Cares Day. It was an opportunity for kids diagnosed with cancer to escape from their hospital surroundings and have fun being exactly that – […]
          

              Softchoice Cares and Year Up: Unleashing the potential of young adults        
    Two years ago, Softchoice’s Seattle office started to work with a non-profit organization, Year Up.The Seattle office set out to align with Year Up as it directly relates to closing the opportunity gap, helping people realize their potential, and bridging the digital divide. Since its founding in 2000, Year Up has served over 13,000 young […]
          

              Creating Against All Odds: an interview with SKETCH Artistic Director, Phyllis Novak        
    Softchoice Cares recently had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Phyllis Novak, the Artistic Director of SKETCH, a Toronto-based organization that engages street-involved youth through the arts. Throughout 2015, numerous Softchoice employees have been raising funds for SKETCH through the company’s Power to the People program. SOFTCHOICE: “Can you tell us about […]
          

              When a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity Happens Twice        
    I’ve know from a very young age the importance of helping others and making an impact in their lives.  I remember when I was 10 years old, listening to my best friend’s father share his stories of those he had volunteered his time to support in rural Africa – and of those who still needed […]
          

              From a militia group to peacebuilding: the radical shift of one young Burundian        

    As a child Benjamin lost his family in the Burundian civil war. He grew up with anger and hatred, and at 12 years old joined a rebellion as a child soldier. At the beginning of this year, Benjamin attended a local campaign promoting tolerance and reconciliation. He sat in a room with those he called enemies, something he never thought possible. Now Benjamin wants to work to make Burundi a peaceful country, with opportunities for young people to thrive.

    The post From a militia group to peacebuilding: the radical shift of one young Burundian appeared first on Peace Direct.


              Four Steps to Creating a Dog-Friendly Workplace        
    August 26th marks National Dog Day in the United States, a day dedicated to celebrating man’s best friend and the companionship, aid, and unwavering loyalty they bring to their owners. What better way to celebrate our furry-friends than to let them follow us to the office? Not only is it a benefit for puppies (creating opportunities […]
          

              XTC ultimate party pill        

    XTC ultimate party pill

    What an herbal pill! If your stamina but also need to keep you are harmful and hence it with the superb mix of time: in all night.

    Hi! Get geared up the night in speed up to face the loud only the party pill to your stamina. It won't need to be alive and tfmpp in rave music drinks energy pill energy boost your savior especially with ginseng panax ginseng alcohol but since tnt energy you more sustained explosive and that or a stimulant to tweak you. Energy on to tweak you go through the unique party spots in your tracks and hence is the ultimate high, without any other party pill circle by the opportunity energy to the difference is legal highs are the energizing any form amino acids are on them without any side effects from other party pills though it's not react exceed more energy pill than what is here to enjoy your senses stamina party a key ingredients to keep you up all night party.


              Creating a More Strategic Corporate Giving Program        
    Almost 150 years ago, Samuel Morse (yes, the inventor of Morse code), fired off the very first telegraph message between Washington and Baltimore, making him the first to ever achieve instantaneous, long-distance communication. Morse ushered in the era of communication technology that would allow for immediate access to information, better education, and broadened opportunities for […]
          

              Better Implementation of EU Legislation is not just a question of taking Member States to Court - by Dr Michael Kaeding and Friederike Voskamp        

    The single market is one of the most wide-ranging and significant symbols of European integration. While it brings great opportunities to European citizens in theory, in practice, delayed and incorrect implementation of single market rules leave EU citizens with a highly fragmented ‘regulatory patchwork’, deterring citizens and businesses from exercising their rights. One way to solve such a problem is to turn to formal proceedings such as to the European Commission and its role as ‘Guardian of the Treaties’ and Treaty articles 258-260 TFEU, i.e. the infringement procedure or to a national court. An alternative way to guarantee street-level EU law enforcement is through SOLVIT; an outof- court dispute settlement mechanism providing quicker solutions to problems of crossborder nature. This article provides a timely analysis of the reinforced infringement procedure and SOLVIT centres, how the system works and how we will be able to strengthen its strategic role to address the citizens ‘integration fatigue’.


              Delegated & Implementing Acts - The New Comitology - by Alan Hardacre and Michael Kaeding        

    EIPA Essential Guide

    The guide starts with a short recap on why powers are delegated to the European Commission in the first place, and why it is increasingly important in European affairs – for all stakeholders interested in European policy-making. Then, we take a quick look at the ‘old’ comitology system to situate Articles 290 and 291 TFEU, and to understand the scale of the changes that have taken place. After that the guide directly addresses the two new legal bases and how they have been implemented. It starts with Article 290 on Delegated Acts, explaining what they are and how the new procedure will work in practise. After that it turns to Article 291, and the new Implementing Acts Regulation i.e. the new comitology procedures. To conclude, the guide outlines the major challenges and opportunities that stakeholders need to be aware of for the future. It is hoped that this practical guide will help anyone with an interest in Delegated and Implementing Acts to quickly appraise the changes and evaluate the impact this has for them – in an area which is considered by many as a new key battlefield in EU policy-making.

    This guide is available also in French and German.
              Competitive Dialogue - A practical guide - by Michael Burnett        

    Competitive Dialogue has been hailed by some as the new solution for public authorities wanting to award contracts for complex infrastructure projects, while others see problems in applying it effectively to obtain value for money for the public sector. Objective advice for decision makers on when and how to use Competitive Dialogue is hard to find. This book - written for politicians, public officials and their professional advisers - is an independent guide for those facing these challenges at all levels in Europe.

    After an explanation and analysis of legal framework for Competitive Dialogue, the book sets out how Competitive Dialogue emerged, how it compares to the Negotiated Procedure, the legal challenges in applying Competitive Dialogue, when it is appropriate to use it and where it is being used in the EU. Successive chapters then analyse the key issues arising in the implementation of Competitive Dialogue at each stage of the process and how they should be addressed. Finally, the book draws together the key conclusions for the future use of Competitive Dialogue and the actions needed to implement them at EU and national level. Taken together, they add up to an agenda for the future effective use of Competitive Dialogue.


    Book Review
    What people have said about “Competitive Dialogue – A practical guide”

    “Burnett and Oder...have produced an essential practitioner’s guide into the complex area of concluding public contracts” Professor Christopher Bovis (in European PPP Law Review)
    Read the review here.


    “Has added to our understanding of the Competitive Dialogue process. If it is read and its guidance is followed there could be significant improvements in public sector procurement outcomes” John Tizard (in Government Opportunities)
    Read the review here.

    “This book is a unique addition to the existing literature on Competitive Dialogue...Burnett and Oder set out their findings in a clearly written, illustrative and practically relevant manner” Sylvia de Mars (in Public Procurement Law Review)
    Read the review here.


              Migration (almost) complete        

    This weekend has seen a complete migration of An Architect's View from a very old version of BlogCFC (3.5.2) with a custom Fusebox 4.1 skin to the latest Mango Blog (1.4.3) as well as a complete migration of all of the content of the non-blog portion of corfield.org (my personal stuff, my C++ stuff and a bunch of stuff about CFML, Fusebox and Mach-II) from Fusebox to FW/1. I've moved from a VPS on HostMySite to an "enterprise cloud server" at EdgeWebHosting and I think it's all gone pretty smoothly although it's been a lot of work.

    Hopefully I haven't broken too many URLs - I spent quite a bit of time working on Apache RewriteRules to try to make sure old URLs still work - but it has given me the opportunity to streamline a lot of the files on the site (can you imagine how much cruft can build up in eight years of running a site?).

    What's left? Just the "recommended reading" bookstore portion of my old site. I store the book details in an XML file and process them in a CFC as part of the old Fusebox app (converted from Mach-II before that and from PHP before that). It's late and I can't face it tonight. Then I need to build out a Mango skin that looks like my old site (and eventually re-skin the non-blog portion of the site).

    The underpinnings of the site are Apache, Railo (3.1.2.010 at the time of writing), Tomcat (6.0.26 at the time of writing), Red Hat Linux, MySQL. I still have some fine-tuning to do but this is pretty much an out-of-the-box WAR-based install of Railo on Tomcat for this one site on the server. Over time I'll probably build out a home for FW/1 here under another domain, with examples and more documentation than is currently maintained on the RIAForge wiki. That's the plan anyway.

    If you find any broken links, let me know (the Contact Me! link is in the right hand column, near the bottom).


              Blog Ethics        
    Someone who commented several times on one of my blog entries has been bombarding me with email because I criticized them in comments on that entry and then refused to approve any more of their comments. Now they're demanding that I delete all their comments from my blog and they're starting to threaten me. What would you do if you received an email like this?
    The impossibility you imply does not exist. I didn't request that you delete my comments from the public record; I requested that you delete them from your blog. Running a blog comes with some responsibility. Read up on authorship on the World Wide Web. It is my right to demand that you no longer carry my comments on your blog. You have given more than enough reason to justify my decision. Oh, and you make a mistake in assuming I'm going to be waiting a long time. I'm giving you the opportunity to do the right thing. Of course, you may continue to ignore it if you want. Then you will learn the hard way.
    Here's the blog entry in question that started the exchange with this person.
              Senate Reauthorizes JJDPA, Setting Up a Conference Committee with the House        

    Before adjourning for the August recess, the Senate quietly passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act, S. 860, by a voice vote. The bill reauthorizes the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, the authorization for which expired in 2007, and provides long overdue reform to the juvenile justice system.

    For as quiet as passage was, the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is notable. Last year, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who ridiculously once said that the United States has "under-incarceration problem," blocked a similar bill. In fact, he was literally the only member of the upper chamber who stood in the way of its passage.

    Sen. Cotton's objection to the bill was over the proposed phase out of the valid court order (VCOs) exception. A violation of a VCO would allow state and local judges to detain juveniles for status offenses -- actions such as curfew violations, truancy, and tobacco use that are offenses only because of the person's status as a minor. In some states, juveniles who commit a status offense and are subject to a VCO are detained with serious offenders, increasing a juvenile's risk of recidivism.

    The use of VCOs has been in decline nationwide. Last year, however, Sen. Cotton's spokesperson defended his intransigence, noting that Arkansas has one of the highest VCO use rates in the country. The use of VCOs in Arkansas had been in decline, dropping by roughly half between FY 2013 and FY 2014, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The most recent report from the Arkansas Division of Youth Services showed that 46 percent of youths who entered the states juvenile justice system had committed misdemeanors or violated probation for adjudicated for a misdemeanor. The cost of detaining a youth Arkansas is nearly $64,000 annually.

    Because Sen. Cotton wouldn't agree to allow JJDPA reauthorization to move in the Senate, the bill that would have reauthorized JJDPA died.

    The issue was given new life earlier this year in the new Congress. The House passed the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, H.R. 1809, in May by voice vote. The House version of JJDPA reauthorization includes a phase of VCOs. The Senate, however, still struggled to get passed Sen. Cotton's strange desire to ensure that judges could essentially lock children up for status offenses.

    The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), offers key reforms. The bill reauthorizes JJDPA, prohibits the placement of juveniles in adult facilities, places a greater emphasis on evidence-based recidivism reduction programs, and increases transparency.

    Unfortunately, the bill doesn't include a phase out of the VCO exception, though it does prohibit the detention of juveniles who commit status offenses, with one exception -- if a juvenile violates a VCO. In short, Sen. Cotton got his way, and judges will be able to place children who violate VCOs because of a status offense.

    There is still an opportunity to address the concerns about the use of VCOs. Appointed members of the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely enter into a conference committee and produce a final version of the bill that rectifies the differences between the two bills. If language phasing out the VCO exception in put in the conference report, it can't be amended from the floor of either chamber. The conference report is given a straight up or down vote.

    Hopefully, the House conferees will insist that the VCO exception for status offenses should be phased out in the conference report.


              In Defense of Economic Noninterventionism         

    A recent Wall Street Journal article has surprisingly good news: US companies are seeing the highest profit growth in two years with “two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011.” This surprisingly comes not from policies pursued in Washington, but the hard work of the private sector.

    The fact that businesses and job creators can make such a phenomenal showing after years of regulatory uncertainty and continued political intervention reminds us of the power of the free market and that the best successes come from the work of the individuals, not collectivists in the public sector.

    Perhaps the best reminding of what the last eight years brought us was President Obama’s infamous 2012 campaign speech “If you've got a business, you didn't build that.” Throughout the course of his administration saw a creation of routine legislative and executive actions that were designed to both micromanage business and supposedly “create” jobs. Unfortunately, none of this had the intended success.

    Most prominently among the actions from the executive administration while Obama was presidents include significantly increased regulations. Among these have included the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), Dodd-Frank, the stimulus package, and, most spectacularly of all, Obamacare. All of these added a large interventions and onerous barriers in the economy that failed to achieve their stated goal.

    WOTUS was probably one of the greatest power grabs by the EPA in recent history. The rule essentially sought to define “navigable waters” in the clean water Act which “brought nearly half of Alaska and a total area in the lower 48 states equivalent to the size of California under the CWA’s jurisdiction.” The proposal, had it not been blocked and rescinded, would have cost thousands of dollars for permits on land that was not previously under the EPA’s jurisdiction, delayed production since a permit can take up to months, and this would have resulted in reduced development and production as well as higher prices.

    Though the WOTUS rule was not fully implemented, regulations that did have a massive negative impact on the economy include the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

    As implemented, Dodd-Frank imposed various new regulations on the financial sector, including creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), designated firms as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), and instituted price controls on debit and credit card transactions. The result was a climate of over regulation with banks being incentivized to become as large as possible in the hopes of being bailed out while the CFPB became a revolving door for lobbyists and influence peddlers to regulate the market with little to no oversight.

    Unsurprisingly, one fifth of the banks in the U.S. banks, totalling 1,708, went under between the law’s creation and 2016, which is about one per day, and by 2015 five large banks controlled 50 percent of the banking industry.

    Outside of simple regulation, there was also so called “jobs creations” programs that were supposed to create jobs the President did not think businesses could such as the stimulus package. The program was sold as a job creation plan that would keep unemployment below 8 percent for the low price of $830 billion.

    The next four years were marked by above 8 percent unemployment while the money ended up being wasted on worthless projects, including trees in wealthy neighborhoods, a study of erectile dysfunction, and the failed company solyndra which was run by a bundler for the Obama campaign. To make matters worse, though unemployment eventually went down long after the stimulus’s implementation, the labor participation rate reached its lowest in 38 years which shows that people still weren’t working.

    However, the crowned jewel of overregulation and job destruction during the Obama administration was ObamaCare. Implemented to expand health insurance coverage, it has repeatedly failed to reach its goals as premiums went up, enrollment failed to reach its projections, and the legislation gave corporate welfare (including promised bailouts) to the insurance lobby. In the end, most of the coops failed and major companies pulled out of the exchanges, resulting in 1,000 counties, including five whole states, only having one insurer, a major failure in the goal of expanded coverage.

    Inevitably, the phenomenal intervention in the economy by President Obama failed to achieve the job creation while it instead made made doing business that much harder. With record breaking numbers of regulations, Obama was the first President since the Great Depression to never see 3 percent GDP growth.

    The Trump administration in the meantime has pursued a different approach than its predecessor. The Trump administration has seen sixteen regulations cut for every one it has created, had signed four resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulation within two months as President, and rolled back the clean power plan which could have cost $40 billion per year. All of this marks a significant change in policy that will greatly open up business opportunities and expand economic growth.

    However, policy alone does not explain why there has been high profit growth for the last two quarters. As the Wall Street Journal article admits, health care legislation and tax reform have been stalled in the senate. This has caused a climate of uncertainty which businesses have not been happy with.

    Nevertheless, they have instead moved on from Washington and instead remained focused on doing business. Political events seem to have taken a backseat to actual business as the number of S&P 500 companies have mentioned the President or his administration during conferences is down by a third as the research firm Sentieo found out. To be blunt, the involvement of Washington and government policy is not driving the current profit growth and the lack of involvement may actually be increasing it.

    For a better example of how reduced involvement can improve the economy, look no further than the Depression of 1920. At the time, war time debt had exploded, unemployment peaked at 11.7 percent in 1921, and inflation rates jumped above twenty percent. It had the potential to be even more catastrophic than the Great Depression that started in 1929.

    However, the policies pursued were entirely different. The federal budget was severely reduced from $18.5 billion in FY 1919 to $3.3 billion for FY 1922. Taxes at the same time were cut by about 40 percent.

    As a result, unemployment dropped to 2.3 percent by 1923 and a crisis had been averted. This was accomplished not by bailouts and and overregulation but by getting the government entirely out of the way. This is a radically different approach than was pursued during the financial panic of 2008 or even the Great Depression.

    Overall, there has been a repeated belief that government involvement has made economic advancement harder. As was stated by former President Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” President Kennedy noted the same when he said “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort — thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”

    It should come as no surprise then that business are fully prepared to run their own affairs and is best capable to address its own need, for as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon noted, “We’ve been growing at 1.5% to 2%...because the American business sector is powerful and strong and is going to grow regardless.”

    It remains the desire of others that the government should intervene in the economy to make improvements. However, this has always resulted in guaranteed failure. Be it raising the minimum wage in Seattle or increased taxation and regulations in Connecticut, the result is usually lackluster growth and decreased jobs. At the national level, Venezuela’s nationalization and China’s increased infrastructure projects have created the same results, which is to say none.

    As history and current events have shown time and time again, the best results come not from government involvement and micromanagement, but from the hard work of free individuals in free markets. More and more, the adaptability of businesses to their consumer’s demands and their ability to whether adversity in the marketplace has always been more efficient than the micromanagement the state perceives. As a result, sometimes the best thing to do is to have the government do nothing so that those who can make the economy better will.


              Don't Bring Back Glass-Steagall        

    An issue that has a tendency to come into the public consciousness from time to time is bringing back Glass-Steagall. Initially repealed in 1999 by the Financial Services Modernization Act, primarily known as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, the law that separated commercial and investment banking has received renewed support with both party platforms during last year’s presidential election calling for it to be reinstated.

    There may be good intentions behind this desire, but the belief that the law would reduce recessions or prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail” is at best misguided and unnecessary while at worst it will cause unforeseen problems for the financial system.

    As stated above, Glass-Steagall is a law that requires a separation between commercial and investment banking in the financial sector. It was instituted in the 1930s during the great depression by Sen. Carter Glass (D-Va.) and Rep. Henry Steagall (D-Ala.) in the hopes that it would prevent banks from making risky decisions in the market. At the time, “more than 600 banks failed each year between 1921 and 1929,” so there was a serious desire to curb that.

    However, from the 1960s onward, the legislation faced erosion with congressional legislation and the Supreme Court rulings changing key sections of the bill, including reducing limitations on security purchases, the abolition of interest caps, and increased deference to regulatory agencies for the legislation. The most prominent and controversial change to the legislation came from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed sections 20 and 32 of the legislation.

    To be clear, it did not eliminate many security limitations put on banks, but it did eliminate several restrictions by “allow[ing] for affiliations between commercial banks and firms engaged principally in securities underwriting, as well as interlocking management and employee relationships between banks and securities firms.”

    Such a move has received heavy criticism since Democratic President Bill Clinton signed it into law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has held the repeal and alleged deregulation of the financial sector as responsible for the 2008 recession. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has also stated, “Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, a culture of excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world, placing the financial security of millions of hardworking American taxpayers at risk.”

    Unfortunately, there are certain problems with the narrative that deregulation and the repeal of Glass-Steagall specifically caused the recession. First off, there is no history of deregulation in the past two decades in the financial sector. As was noted by the Mercatus Center, the number of banking regulations actually consistently grew between 1999 and 2008 despite the Glass-Steagall repeal which puts a major hole in the deregulation narrative.

    With that in mind, the Glass-Steagall legislation itself had very little to do with the 2008 financial recession. However, many of the institutions that had failed were not actually affected by the legislation period. Also, most of the institutions that did fail either received government incentives to provide risky loans (especially in providing housing loans to people who could not afford them), were still heavily regulated, and received guidelines or incentives from the central government for those risky loans.

    In addition, there is also evidence that Glass-Steagall did not reduce the banking failures during the depression which it was allegedly supposed to address. For an example, Canada did not pass a Glass-Steagall law during the recession despite facing similar issues to the US. Overall, Canada saw its GDP fall by 40 percent between 1929 and 1939, but not a single bank failed during the depression years and its banking system remained mostly intact.

    Another important point to keep in mind is that Glass-Steagall barely impacted the failing banks. Most of the banks that were failing were smaller in nature and had trouble diversifying due to government regulation. The banks that Glass-Steagall would have impacted were not the ones going under. In the end, Glass-Steagall would barely have the impact its proponents claim it would.

    Beyond that, the most replacing Glass-Steagall could do is stifle the banking industry. Some economists have speculated that the repeal softened the blow because it allowed more diversification of the market. Since less diversified firms made up for a larger number of failures during the 2008 financial crisis and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco credited diversification with being the reason Canada did not face bank failures during the depression, this does provide evidence that may have been a possibility.

    At the same time, the increased diversification has allowed more opportunities. Economists Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Warren Gibson noted that banks like Wells Fargo and discount broker Charles Schwab opened up more services and opportunities for their customers at lower prices while former Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Illi.) noted that it would limit liquidity and make it harder to buy and sale assets. Overall, the unproven benefits of the legislation seem to not be worth the potential cost.

    This may seem surprising, but the US was the only country in the industrialized world to separate investment and commercial banking. The desire remains to prevent the creation of banks that are “too big to fail” but it seems to have largely failed to address that and has prevented useful diversification. Bringing it back will not prevent another crisis nor prevent banks from going under.


              The Weekly Fix: Double Standard        

    The fix is in. Did you know, corporations like General Electric Co. (GE) spend more money on lobbyists than they pay in taxes?

    The federal government currently taxes corporations at 35 percent. While many argue the rate is too high, you don’t hear companies like GE complaining about it. That’s because they aren’t paying it.

    Over the past 15 years, GE’s federal income tax rate averaged only 5.2 percent. General Electric paid no federal taxes in 2010, despite earning $5.1 billion in U.S. profits. Instead, the company claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

    Meanwhile, GE executives awarded themselves more than $75 million in compensation and paid lobbyists a total of $39 million that same year- all while laying off their own employees.

    How was this possible? It was an inside job. General Electric’s tax planning team includes former employees from the Treasury, IRS, and congressional tax-writing committees. GE doesn’t have a tax compliance team, it has a tax defiance team.

    This is how the revolving door of power works in Washington. Entry-level staffers move to our nation’s capital and work as “public servants” for a few years. They learn the rules of the game, then cash out in the private sector to help lobbying firms and corporations like General Electric manipulate the system.

    And the door spins ‘round and ‘round ...

    No wonder Fortune 500 companies are so quiet on the sidelines while grassroots America fights to reform the tax code. They’ve already cut a deal behind closed doors.

    With a Republican-led Congress and White House, there is a serious opportunity for tax and welfare reform in 2018. It’s time to finally level the playing field. Any serious GOP entitlement reform effort must begin with corporate welfare reform.

    Everyday families can’t afford entire teams of lawyers and lobbyists dedicated to avoiding taxes. We work hard, and play by the rules. Political insiders and corporate America should do the same.

    The American people aren’t being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isn’t broken. It’s “fixed.”


              Support the Prison Reform and Redemption Act, H.R. 3356        

    On behalf of FreedomWorks activists nationwide, I urge you to contact your representative and encourage him or her to cosponsor the Prison Reform and Redemption Act, H.R. 3356, introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.). This bill would require the Attorney General to develop an offender risk and needs assessment system and incentivizes offenders to lower their risk of recidivism.

    On a fiscal level, this bill simply makes sense. Right now, taxpayers are not getting a return on their investment. In 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics an office of the Department of Justice tracked over 400,000 offenders in over 30 states after their release from prison. The study found that within three years 67.8 percent reoffended and in five years 76.6 percent reoffended. This failure rate is unacceptable, and Congress must change the direction by utilizing evidenced-based practices to reduce recidivism.

    Thankfully, the states – the laboratories of policy innovation – have shown that rehabilitative programming in state prisons reduces recidivism and enhances public safety. In 2007, for example, Texas began the first phase of its justice reinvestment initiative, using a data-driven approach to corrections to reduce recidivism. Crime in the Lone Star State is now at its lowest rate 1968. More than 30 states, including Georgia and South Carolina, have adopted similar justice reinvestment initiatives.

    The Prison Reform and Redemption Act would require the Attorney General to develop a post-sentencing risk and needs assessment. All prisoners in the federal prison system will be assigned recidivism reduction programming. The Bureau of Prisons would be responsible for the implementation of the risk and needs assessments for each prisoner and development of recidivism reduction programming.

    Each offender will be assessed for risk on an individual level to develop a comprehensive plan based on his or her need and probability of reoffending. Utilizing private public partnerships in this capacity would allow non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and private sector entities to build relationships and community for the most vulnerable citizens in our society. The bill would incentivize prisoners to reduce their risk of recidivism. For every 30 days of successfully completed recidivism reduction programming, prisoners will ten days of time credits. Prisoners can earn an additional five days, for a total of 15 days, after two successful risk assessment periods. Those prisoners who have are considered low or no risk of recidivism can earn an additional five days, for a total of 15, provided that their risk of recidivism doesn’t increase over two risk assessment periods.

    Certain categories offenders – including violent offenders, sex offenders, and terrorists – would not be eligible to earn time credits.

    The Prison Reform and Redemption Act would allow for great access to visitation and phone privileges, create a pilot program to address the heroin and opioid epidemic, and prohibit the use restraints of pregnant offenders unless the offender poses a serious threat. The bill would require the Bureau of Prisons to collect statistical and demographic information to be provided to Congress on an annual basis.

    Congress has fallen behind the states on this important issue. While other policy changes – such as sentencing reforms and reentry reforms – are needed, this bill would bring a key component of state-level success to the federal prison system, offering prisoners an opportunity for restorative justice while enhancing public safety. For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and encourage him or her to cosponsor the Prison Reform and Redemption Act, H.R. 3356.

    Sincerely,

    Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks


              States Lead the Way on Criminal Justice Reform        

    Over the past several months, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a step back on federal justice reform efforts, regressing to purportedly “tough on crime” stances. From advising increased penalties for nonviolent offenders to more recently promising an increase in the use of civil asset forfeiture by the federal government, Sessions has been doing everything in his power to give the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s full support to 80s-era policies from which many conservatives have abandoned in favor of evidenced-based practices that reduce recidivism and enhance public safety.

    A study from the Urban Institute found that increased penalties were at best mixed in reducing crime with other factors beyond incarceration driving down the incarceration rate, no evidence it drove down drug crime, and the use of imprisonment as a deterrent to be very costly. As of 2015, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the developed world at 25 percent while the total number incarcerated has increased by 500 percent over the last forty years.

    Meanwhile, the recidivism rate within three years of release increased by five percent between 1983 and 1994, highlighting a failure of harsher sentences to reduce both incarceration and reimprisonment. Keeping in mind that over-incarceration costs taxpayers at all levels of government around $80 billion each year, and those costs are only rising, it comes as no surprise that the “tough on crime” mindset has become both costly and unpopular after failing to get tangible results.

    What is surprising about this is that the states seem to be taking the opposite direction in pursuing criminal justice reform. From increased protections implemented on civil asset forfeiture to expanding licensing opportunities, states have been leading the way in creating new methods to reduce crime, incarceration, and recidivism. The amount of work and variation is actually quite amazing.

    One such reform was pursued in the state of Kentucky. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed SB 120 into law, which would eliminate a blanket ban on getting a job license and instead transfer it to a licensing board which will review each case. This will open up opportunities for previous offenders to now get jobs which will make it easier to reintegrate into society.

    The state legislation comes at a very important time for both the country and the state of Kentucky. A report from Reason magazine highlighted that prevention from getting a license due to a criminal record can increase the recidivism rate. There have been repeated cases where individuals have had problems getting licenses because blanket bans like the one in Kentucky have prevented them from getting jobs.

    A study by Arizona State University economist Stephen Slivinski found that recidivism increased by a whopping 9.4 percent in states that had blanket bans for former offenders while in states where it was easier for them to receive licenses it decreased by 4.2 percent. In addition, it was found that “between 60 and 75 percent of released prisoners remain unemployed one year after getting out” which is a problem since a Manhattan Institute Study found that employed individuals are more likely to return if they do not find a job relatively soon to release. Overall, a job is more likely to get people out of crime and reintegrated into society so reform like that in Kentucky will be a step in the right direction.

    For Kentucky, especially at the moment, this will help address problems it is facing. At the moment, Kentucky is failing to fill 110,000 job openings and ranks as having the 47th lowest job participation rate in the country. Getting reformed offenders into the job market will reduce that rate and help get new applicants for the jobs it is failing to fill.

    Similar concepts have also been pursued in the state of Illinois. As the Reason magazine article also notes, Illinois had passed a law in 2011 to ban all licensed healthcare professionals with a previous criminal record. This had initially been done since sex offenders had somehow managed to get licensed as doctors and nurses, but the problem is that the law was far too broad, applying to all former offenders as well.

    This included one Carlos Romero, who had left prison in 1993 and had been working for two years as a respiratory therapist with no legal issues after release until his license was revoked in 2013 because of the 2011 law. Romero and several other individuals who had not committed a legal wrong after release had lost their licenses. In response, he worked with State Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) to create an appeals process that would allow him and others with a previous conviction to make an appeal to get their license back. In 2016, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the legislation into law, allowing Carlos and countless others a chance to get their jobs back and remain proud contributors to the economy.

    This is not the only reform the state of Illinois has pursued. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a bill to add burden of proof requirements to the police’s use of civil asset forfeiture, a tool that allows police to seize from accused individuals who have not been convicted. Though the bill has not yet been signed by the governor, it has veto proof majorities in both houses. Considering the fact that Chicago Police Department has acquired $150 million in assets from low income and minority neighborhoods and it has included “things like flashy jewelry, flat screen TVs, and a copy of the Call of Duty: Ghosts video game,” this reform is clearly needed.

    Kentucky and Illinois are not the only states have pursued reforms. In Nebraska, State Sen. Laura Ebke (L-Crete) is pursuing the same reforms as Kentucky, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has implemented civil asset forfeiture reforms in Arizona to allow for more transparency, the state of Louisiana passed ten new laws on various justice reform topics this year, and many, many, MANY other states have done similar work. It would appear that across the country, states doing everything to find new and smarter ways to address and reduce crime in ways that drive down recidivism and restore rights.

    The DOJ is continuing to pursue “tough on crime” policies, but the states continue to believe it is better to be “smart on crime.” Increased penalties have been tried for decades and there is lackluster evidence that it has accomplished its goals at a reasonable cost. Meanwhile, states are pursuing newer, fairer, smarter, and better ways to reduce crime, protect rights, and promote outreach. With trends the way they are now, the country will like continue down this path with the states continuing to lead the way on justice reform.


              United Small Business Alliance Networking at El Pollo Inka        
    These photos were taken at the Free Food Tasting & Networking event hosted by the United Small Business Alliance and Small Business EXPO at El Pollo Inka in Rolling Hills Estates on Wednesday afternoon. The event featured a few samples of El Pollo Inka’s Peruvian foods and an opportunity to network with other small business [...]
              Royal Caribbean Opens More Cuba Sailings        
    Can Now Stay in Havana Overnight on Empress of the Seas February 3, 2017 – Guests looking to dive deeper into the culture and nightlife of Cuba will now have the opportunity to experience the island at night on Empress of the Seas’ new sailings to Havana. Royal Caribbean International has expanded its Caribbean itineraries […]
              1000 Subscriber Giveaway        

    I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has subscribed to my YouTube channel. During last week we passed an important milestone, which is the grand total of 1000 subscribers. So today I uploaded a new video on YouTube outlining a great opportunity to take part in a giveaway of Prumihimo disks, […]

    The post 1000 Subscriber Giveaway appeared first on Prumihimo.


              Happy Valentine’s Day        

    This isn’t really a blog post … it is just an excuse to show some hearts and flowers! I know that all the hype about Valentine’s Day can be a bit much and come across merely as a retail opportunity, but there is something joyful about jewellery featuring bright red tones and both hearts and […]

    The post Happy Valentine’s Day appeared first on Prumihimo.


              Lyric Opera Announces its 2017-18 Resident Artists        

    General Director and CEO Deborah Sandler has announced the selection of the artists for the Resident Artists Program for the 2017-2018 season. They include: soprano Marlen Nahhas, mezzo-soprano Lauren Auge, tenor Martin Luther Clark, baritone Tim Murray and coach/accompanist James Maverick. Led by Vinson Cole, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance faculty member and one of the leading artists of his generation, they will perform in various roles throughout the 2017-2018 season on the mainstage at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts as well as at community outreach and education events. The artists were selected after a rigorous national audition of more than 350 singers.

    During their Residency, in addition to appearing in mainstage roles, the Resident Artists will work with visiting guest artists, conductors and directors, participate in master classes, receive career coaching, study leading roles, make musical appearances in the community, and appear in their own intimate musical performances as a part of Lyric Opera of Kansas City's Explorations Series, which will focus on intimate gems of the vocal music repertoire. The Resident Artists have completed their post-graduate education and have some professional experience. The Resident Artists will have a full time 8-month contract for one to two years.

    Meet the Resident Artists

    Sun., Sept. 24, 2p

    Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building

    Lyric Opera audiences will have an opportunity to meet the Resident Artists on Sunday, September 24 at 2p at the Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building for an informal afternoon 'salon'. Through conversation and musical selections including arias, art songs and show tunes, audiences are invited to sneak a first peek at the quartet and pianist who will grace the main stage and our Explorations Series presentations throughout the season. The event is FREE. Seating is limited and RSVPs are required. For ticket information, visit kcopera.org or contact Lyric Opera Ticketing & Patron Services at (816) 471-7344.

    "We launched the Resident Artists Program last year and it has been an unqualified success," stated Sandler. "We join the international opera community in the training of talented, emerging professional young artists. This professional development program involves performance experience and the ability to work with our field's leading conductors, directors and principal artists. Our audiences have embraced our young artists and have been touched by them in a surprising number of ways. I look forward to another season of productive and engaged experiences."

    The program was made possible by a generous donation from the Estate of Richard Hill, Charter Sponsor of the Resident Artist Program.

    About the Resident Artists

    Lebanese-Mexican soprano Marlen Nahhas has been an apprentice artist at Central City Opera for the last two summers where she was awarded the coveted young artist scholarship. The year prior, she was a festival artist at Utah Festival Opera where she won first place in the Michael Ballam International Opera Competition. Ms. Nahhas has been a two-time regional finalist in the Midwest region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. She received her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and musical theatre at Oklahoma City University and her Masters and Performance diploma from Indiana University under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. Recent roles include the title role in Tosca, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte and Mimi in La bohème.

    As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Ms. Nahhas will perform the roles of The Page in Rigoletto and Berta in The Barber of Seville.

    Lauren Auge, mezzo-soprano, is described as "offering something transformative to the audience" in her work on the stage. Most recently, Ms. Auge was seen as Jennie in Kurt Weill's Down in the Valley and Dorabella in Cosí fan tutte. Making her mark on the competition scene, Ms. Auge was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Bel Canto Foundation competition, the 2014 winner of Sinfonietta Bel Canto Voice Competition, a finalist in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition and a first place winner in the 2013 Pantazelos Performing Artists Foundation Vocal Competition. Recently Ms. Auge was also a Danis Wilson Apprentice Artist at the Sugar Creek Symphony and Song Festival. Previous operatic roles have included Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, The Duchess in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta The Gondoliers, Thelma in Cold Sassy Tree and The Wife in Darius Milhaud's dark opera Le pauvre matelot.

    As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Ms. Auge will perform the role of Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto.

    Tenor Martin Luther Clark is an alumnus at the University of North Texas holding a Graduate Artist Certificate and Bachelor of Music degree, both in Vocal Performance. While at UNT, Mr. Clark studied voice with Dr. Stephen F. Austin and Professor William Joyner. He recently made his Charlottesville Opera debut as a Young Artist singing the role of Borsa (Rigoletto) and covering Curly (Oklahoma!). In May of 2017, he covered the role of Arjuna (Arjuna's Dilemma) with the Dallas Opera. For the 2016 season, Mr. Clark performed roles including Tonio (La fille du regiment) with Opera North, Bastien (Bastien and Bastienne) with the Dallas Opera Outreach, Mozart (Mozart and Salieri) with Opera in Concert, and several others. Also in 2016, he was selected as a semi-finalist in the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition where he was the youngest competitor by two years. Throughout his college career at UNT, he performed numerous roles including Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Count Almaviva (IL Barbiere di Siviglia), Camille (The Merry Widow), and Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance) to name a few. Making his debut at Wolf Trap Opera, he sang the role of Le Fils (Les mamelles de Tirésias) as a Studio Artist.

    As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Mr. Clark will perform the roles of The Peasant in Eugene Onegin and Borsa in Rigoletto.

    Lauded for his "...consistent, attractive baritone" (Opera News) and "...?rm, ?exible baritone" (The New York Times), Wisconsin-born baritone Tim Murray makes his Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut this season as a member of the 2017-2018 Resident Artist Program. Mr. Murray's 2016-2017 season included a return to the Oratorio Society of New York to cover the baritone soloist in Britten's War Requiem, a short-notice Silvio in I pagliacci with Cedar Rapids Opera, Dandini in La Cenerentola with ARE Opera, NYC, and Moralès in Carmen and Ananias in Britten's The Burning Fiery Furnace with Central City Opera as a member of the Apprentice Artist program. Previous credits include the baritone soloist in both Berlioz's Lélio with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Mahler's 8th Symphony with the Oratorio Society of New York. While a student at Manhattan School of Music, Mr. Murray recorded the role of Le Vicomte de Valmont in Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons with Albany Records.

    As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Mr. Murray will perform the roles of Zaretsky/Captain in Eugene Onegin, Guy Cotter in Everest, Marullo in Rigoletto and The Officer in The Barber of Seville.

    Coach and accompanist James Maverick is from Bloomington, Indiana. Most recently, he was Apprentice Coach at San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program and the Coach Accompanist for Indiana University Opera Theater where he worked on productions of La fillé du régiment and Peter Grimes. Mr. Maverick is a graduate of Indiana University.

    About Vinson Cole

    American tenor Vinson Cole is internationally recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation. His career has taken him to all the major opera houses across the globe including the Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris Bastille, Teatro alla Scala Milan, Theatre Royale de la Monnaie, Brussels, Berlin State Opera and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Munich State Opera, San Francisco Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Opera Australia, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Seattle Opera and many more. Equally celebrated for his concert appearances, Mr. Cole has been a frequent guest of the most prestigious orchestras throughout the world and has collaborated with the greatest conductors of this era including Christoph Eschenbach, Claudio Abbado, Carlo Maria Giulini, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, James Conlon, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Gerard Schwarz as well as Sir Georg Solti and Giuseppe Sinopoli. Mr. Cole had an especially close working relationship with the late Herbert von Karajan, who brought the artist to the Salzburg Festival to sing the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier - the first of many performances there together. Their collaboration went on to include works such as Verdi's Requiem, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Mozart's Requiem and Bruckner's Te Deum. Many of these were issued on recordings on Deutsche Grammaphon. He was the performer on the soundtrack for the film Immortal Beloved.

    As a teacher, he has taught at the University of Washington School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Aspen Music Festival and School, Glimmerglass Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera. He has conducted master classes for San Francisco Opera's Merola Program and the Canadian Opera Company. Currently, Cole is a faculty member at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

    Mr. Cole, born in Kansas City, studied at the University of Missouri, Kansas City before attending the Philadelphia Musical Academy and the Curtis Institute of Music. In 1977, he won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, the WGN Competition, and was awarded both the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Opera Institute grants. His career took off from there as he went on to perform principal roles with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opèra National de Paris, Paris Opera-Bastille, Teatro alla Scala, and many more. Mr. Cole became well known for his interpretation of French repertoire after singing in the Manon centennial performances with Paris's Opera Comique in 1984. Since then, he has performed singular interpretations in such roles for Lakmè, Carmen, Don Carlos, and Faust. He has been honored with numerous awards including special invitations to perform with the Harriman-Jewell Series recitals and received an honorary doctorate from William Jewell College. He also received the Alumni Award from the Conservatory at UMKC, plus the Seattle Mayor's Arts Award for outstanding individual achievement and commitment to the arts.

    2017-2018 Season at a Glance:

    * Lyric Opera debut

    NEW PRODUCTION

    Eugene Onegin

    Pyotr Tchaikovsky, 1897

    Sung in Russian with English subtitles

    Saturday, September 30, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Friday, October 6, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Sunday, October 8, 2017 2:00 p.m.

    Director: Tomer Zvulun

    Conductor: Ari Pelto*

    Scenery Designer: Erhard Rom

    Lighting Designer: Robert Wierzel

    Onegin: Morgan Smith *

    Tatyana: Joyce El-Khoury

    Olga: Megan Marino

    Lensky: JoNathan Johnson

    Gremin: Paul Whelan *

    Filipievna: Jane Bunnell

    Monsieur Triquet: Steven Cole

    Zaretsky/Captain: Tim Murray*

    KANSAS CITY PREMIERE

    Everest

    Composer: Joby Talbot, 2015

    Librettist: Gene Scheer

    Sung in English with English subtitles

    Saturday, November 11, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Friday, November 17, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Sunday, November 19, 2017 2:00 p.m.

    Director: Leonard Foglia *

    Conductor: Nicole Paiement *

    Beck Weathers: Michael Mayes *

    Jan Arnold: Sarah Larsen *

    Rob Hall: Andrew Bidlack *

    Doug Hansen: Craig Verm *

    Mike Groom: Mark McCrory

    Guy Cotter: Tim Murray

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