Saturday, October 29, 2011

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

 October 29, 2011

What's so great about mindfulness?

The current myth among some meditation circles is that the more mindful we are, the more beauty we'll perceive in mundane objects. To the mind with bare attention, even the suds in the dishpan—as their bubbles glint and wink in the light—are windows on a divine radiance. That's the myth. But the truth is almost the opposite: in fact, the more mindfulness we have, the less compelling sense-objects seem, until at last we lose all desire for them. It's true that strong concentration can seem to intensify colors, sounds, and so forth. But concentration alone doesn't lead to insight or awakening. To say that mindfulness makes the winter sky more sublime, or the act of doing the dishes an exercise in wonder, chafes against the First Noble Truth.
– Cynthia Thatcher, "What's So Great About Now?"
Read the entire article in the Tricycle Wisdom Collection

Friday, October 28, 2011

Via Buzzflash: Perhaps the Best Way to Occupy Wall Street Is by Pulling Our Money Out of Big Banks


Perhaps the best way to occupy Wall Street is by pulling our money out of big banks.
Sure, it's a big inconvenience to find a credit union or local bank that then doesn't have thousands of branches around the country. But if the banks that are "too big to fail" collapse because of a lack of consumer confidence in their ability to financially serve the nation, a new system that is based on rebuilding the American economy and customer service might emerge.
In, for instance, dissecting just some of the reasons (ten) to leave Bank of America, Nomi Prins writes for Truthout that we can choose where we keep our money:
Without being broken up via a new, strong Glass-Steagall Act, when banks need to find ways to make money, they resort to extorting it from their sitting ducks, er - customers. Meanwhile, that's where credit unions, which are not-for-profits owned by their members and not by outside shareholders, come in. They generally don't engage in crazy derivatives trades, or charge unnecessary fees for holding your money or for letting you pay bills with it, or for online banking. In terms of personal attention, among other economic reasons, the credit and smaller community banks are a much better bet.

Via JMG: Afternoon View - One World Trade Center

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Lousy Debater Wants To Skip Debates

Rick Perry's handlers say he's likely to skip future debates. And that's totally NOT because he turns into Porky Pig when given a direct question.
“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates,” Mr. Perry told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. “It pretty hard to be able to sit and lay out your ideas and your concepts with a one minute response. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one,” Mr. Perry added. Mr. Perry’s campaign has struggled in the wake of several debate performances that were widely criticized. But whether Mr. Perry could get away with skipping a debate is an open question.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Today In Wingnut Cruelty

Earlier this week I mentioned the campaign to allowed loaded concealed firearms on Virginia's campuses. Unbelievably (or not) the group behind the effort will stage a rally at Virginia Tech.
Supporters of concealed carry on college campuses have scheduled an all-day demonstration for Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech, the university where in 2007, 33 students and faculty were killed in the worst school shooting in U.S. history. The pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League announced the date in a message sent this morning to its members and e-mail news subscribers. The group announced last month plans to demonstrate at more than a dozen public colleges and universities across the state in opposition to efforts to ban concealed carry in campus buildings. The Tech protest is set for 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with speakers from noon to 1:30 p.m., league President Philip Van Cleave wrote in the message.
Maybe they can sell t-shirts with this guy on them.
reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Cain: No Federal Money For College

"I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the federal government to help fund a college education because herein, our resources are limited and I believe that the best solution is the one closest to the problem. The people within the state, the people within the communities, ultimately, I believe, are the ones who have that responsibility. If you want an education, a college education in America, I believe that people can get it if they are determined to get it." - Herman Cain.

I wonder how the folks at Dead Jerry Falwell's Liberty University feel about that.

reposted from Joe

World's Population Teeters on the Edge of 7 Billion -- Now What?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Via JMG: Grayson: It's Class Warfare vs. Class Surrender

 Former Rep. Alan Grayson nails it as usual.

reposted from Joe

Bold Candidates vs. Boehner. Fighting for the 99%.

A Future Free from Famine

Voa JMG: India's $35 Tablet

India's government-subsidized $35 tablet is in the hands of some tech sites and the reviews are surprisingly positive.
What makes the Aakash tablet different is that its creators didn’t strive for perfection. Instead, the emphasis was on getting the product into the market quickly so it could be adopted, tinkered with, and improved over time. As Wadhwa said, “to get the cost down, you have to make some compromises.” The unmistakable impression we all got from using the Aakash tablet was that it is built for performance. Every design choice that might seem like a negative reveals three, four, five — or more — net benefits. Why does it have two USB ports? So you can plug in a keyboard, of course, and still have a free slot for an external hard drive, or some other device. What about that screen cover that seems like it’s made from laminating material? If the tablet is meant for educational use, it’s probably going to have to contend with some pretty rough handling, dirt, dust and moisture. Better that it should withstand damage than look the extra bit nicer.

reposted from Joe

People & Power - The Koch Brothers

Via JMG: Spending Chart


Labels: ,

reposted from Joe

Oakland Policeman Throws Flash Grenade Into Crowd Trying To Help Injured Protester

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nathalie Miebach: Art made of storms

Via Maddow Blog: Oakland mayor commends police for raid

The eviction that Occupy Wall Street protesters feared nearly two weeks ago never took place, but many of their fellow Occupiers in other cities haven't been so fortunate. Occupy Oakland began a protest yesterday afternoon to retake the public area (which some have unofficially renamed Oscar Grant Plaza) from which police had removed them from in the predawn hours.

The police reaction was such that they were not successful. Tear gas had a lot to do with it:
Police gave repeated warnings to protesters to disperse from the entrance to Frank Ogawa Plaza at 14th Street and Broadway before firing several tear gas canisters into the crowd at about 7:45 p.m. Police had announced over a loudspeaker that those who refused to leave could be targeted by "chemical agents."
Protesters scattered in both directions on Broadway as the tear gas canisters and several flash-bang grenades went off. Regrouping, protesters tried to help one another and offered each other eye drops.
One wounded woman, who others said had been hit by one of the canisters, was carried away by two protesters.
One protester, 35-year-old Jerry Smith, said a tear gas canister had rolled to his feet and sprayed him in the face.
"I got the feeling they meant business, but people were not going to be intimidated," Smith said. "We can do this peacefully, but still not back down."
Oakland's embattled mayor, Jean Quan, reportedly rushed back from Washington, D.C. once word of the events broke. Her official statement commended Oakland's interim chief of police for the way the police handled themselves, and the chief himself offered justification for their behavior -- the police were being hit with objects thrown by protesters:

"We were in a position where we had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks," the chief said. Protesters had also thrown paint "and other agents" at officers, he added.

Mother Jones, Boing Boing and local news publication Oakland North all had comprehensive coverage during and after the events that are worth a look. Heads-up: a lot of the video is at least PG.

make the jump here to read the original article

Via Transportation For America:

The nation's busiest bridges | 10/19/2011 

New report finds more deficient bridges in the largest 102 metropolitan regions than McDonald’s restaurants in the entire country – 18,239 versus about 14,000. Find out how your metro region stacks up.

Jason McElway, Autistic Basketball Hero

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Via JMG: Tea Party's Debt Solution: Sell Pristine Federal Lands To Corporations

Tea party darling Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wants to sell millions of acres of pristine federally-protected park land. Leading the list of potential buyers? Timber, mining, and petroleum corporations, of course.
The two-term Utah Republican cites a 1997 report, which Congress ordered the Clinton administration to produce, listing public lands that were not otherwise set aside for oil and gas or mineral extraction or that were not currently in the pipeline for wilderness consideration or protection. “While there are national treasures worthy of federal protection, there are lands that should be returned to private ownership,” Chaffetz said in introducing his legislation earlier this year. “If the land serves no public purpose and is ‘identified for disposal,’ let’s return it to private ownership."
If we really "returned" the land to private ownership, those original owners would not be the ones currently lining the pockets of Rep. Chaffetz.

reposted from Joe

JMG Tweet Of The Day II - Dolly Parton

reposted from Joe

DC Douglas' "Why #OccupyWallStreet? 4 Reasons."

2011: A Year of Extreme Weather

OCUPE WALL STREET! Movimento ganha corpo por todo o mundo.

OCUPE WALL STREET! Enfim, um movimento importante contrário à lógica do capital é germinado no principal centro comercial e financeiro do mundo, reduto de uma insustentável e cínica organização econômica, cujo vírus é disseminado por grandes corporações ao redor do planeta.

Assista com bastante atenção e crítica as imagens que estampam as contradições entre os discursos dos líderes norte-americanos e as suas verdadeiras práticas. Violência extrema!

Para um aprofundamento crítico não deixe de ler o texto de Naomi Klein (Ocupem Wall Street é o movimento mais importante do mundo hoje) anexado ao vídeo.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Via Utne: 25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World

Every year, Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries: people who have that extra twist of imagination and determination and energy, people who don't just concoct great ideas but also act on them. We're proud to present you with 2011's lineup of dreamers and doers.

Via ClimateProgress: October 24 News: Crop Scientists Warn Global Heating is Shrinking Crop Yields


Crop Scientists Now Fret About Heat, Not Just Water
Crop scientists in the United States, the world’s largest food exporter, are pondering an odd question: could the danger of global warming really be the heat?
For years, as scientists have assembled data on climate change and pointed with concern at melting glaciers and other visible changes in the life-giving water cycle, the impact on seasonal rains and irrigation has worried crop watchers most.
What would breadbaskets like the Midwest, the Central Asian steppes, the north China Plain or Argentine and Brazilian crop lands be like without normal rains or water tables?
Those were seen as longer-term issues of climate change.
But scientists now wonder if a more immediate issue is an unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures being seen in crop belts around the world.
Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables.
“We don’t grow tomatoes in the deep South in the summer. Pollination fails,” said Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida.
The same goes for snap beans which can no longer be grown in Florida during the summer, he added.
“As temperatures rise we are going to have trouble maintaining the yields of crops that we already have,” said Gerald Nelson, an economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)….

Via ClimateProgress: Greenland Ice Sheet “Could Undergo a Self-Amplifying Cycle of Melting and Warming … Difficult to Halt,” Scientists Find

Greenland Ice Sheet Ties Record for Mass Loss in 2011

Another day, another amplifying feedback or vicious cycle.
The Greenland ice sheet can experience extreme melting even when temperatures don’t hit record highs, according to a new analysis by Dr. Marco Tedesco, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York.  His findings suggest that glaciers could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming that would be difficult to halt.
“We are finding that even if you don’t have record-breaking highs, as long as warm temperatures persist you can get record-breaking melting because of positive feedback mechanisms,” said Professor Tedesco, who directs CCNY’s Cryospheric Processes Laboratory….
… melting in 2011 was the third most extensive since 1979, lagging behind only 2010 and 2007. The “mass balance”, or amount of snow gained minus the snow and ice that melted away, ended up tying last year’s record values.

Marco Tedesco standing on the edge of one of four moulins (drainage holes) he and his team found at the bottom of a supraglacial lake during the expedition to Greenland in the summer, 2011. (Credit: P. Alexander)

The photo on the right is “Marco Tedesco standing on the edge of one of four moulins (drainage holes) he and his team found at the bottom of a supraglacial lake during the expedition to Greenland in the summer, 2011.”
It’s not news that there are amplifying feedbacks at work on the great ice sheets.  Just this March, the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory published its analysis that Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050.  That study found:
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.
But the new CCNY study, based on in situ observations “during a four-week expedition to the Jakobshavn Isbræ glacier in western Greenland,” lays out for the first time a very specific amplifying feedback occurring way up north:


Combining data gathered on the ground with microwave satellite recordings and the output from a model of the ice sheet, he and graduate student Patrick Alexander found a near-record loss of snow and ice this year. The extensive melting continued even without last year’s record highs.
The team recorded data on air temperatures, wind speed, exposed ice and its movement, the emergence of streams and lakes of melt water on the surface, and the water’s eventual draining away beneath the glacier. This lost melt water can accelerate the ice sheet’s slide toward the sea where it calves new icebergs. Eventually, melt water reaches the ocean, contributing to the rising sea levels associated with long-term climate change….
Temperatures and an albedo feedback mechanism accounted for the record losses, Professor Tedesco explained. “Albedo” describes the amount of solar energy absorbed by the surface (e.g. snow, slush, or patches of exposed ice). A white blanket of snow reflects much of the sun’s energy and thus has a high albedo. Bare ice – being darker and absorbing more light and energy – has a lower albedo.
But absorbing more energy from the sun also means that darker patches warm up faster, just like the blacktop of a road in the summer. The more they warm, the faster they melt.
And a year that follows one with record high temperatures can have more dark ice just below the surface, ready to warm and melt as soon as temperatures begin to rise. This also explains why more ice sheet melting can occur even though temperatures did not break records.
Tedesco has a good analogy — and he explains that this effect is widespread:
Professor Tedesco likens the melting process to a speeding steam locomotive. Higher temperatures act like coal shoveled into the boiler, increasing the pace of melting. In this scenario, “lower albedo is a downhill slope,” he says. The darker surfaces collect more heat. In this situation, even without more coal shoveled into the boiler, as a train heads downhill, it gains speed. In other words, melting accelerates.
Only new falling snow puts the brakes on the process, covering the darker ice in a reflective blanket, Professor Tedesco says. The model showed that this year’s snowfall couldn’t compensate for melting in previous years.  “The process never slowed down as much as it had in the past,” he explained. “The brakes engaged only every now and again.”
The team’s observations indicate that the process was not limited to the glacier they visited; it is a large-scale effect. “It’s a sign that not only do albedo and other variables play a role in acceleration of melting, but that this acceleration is happening in many places all over Greenland,” he cautioned. “We are currently trying to understand if this is a trend or will become one. This will help us to improve models projecting future melting scenarios and predict how they might evolve.”
2011 Melting in Greenland report
Have I mentioned that the time to act was a long time ago, but now is a lot better than later if one doesn’t want endlessly rising seas?
Related Posts:

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:


October 24, 2011

The Root of Happiness

It takes some training to equate complete letting go with comfort. But in fact, "nothing to hold on to" is the root of happiness. There's a sense of freedom when we accept that we're not in control. Pointing ourselves toward what we would most like to avoid makes our barriers and shields permeable.
– Pema Chödrön, "The In-between State"
Read the entire article in the Tricycle Wisdom Collection
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