Thursday, December 29, 2011

Study debunks myths on organic farms

The results are in from a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania's Rodale Institute. Contrary to conventional wisdom, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every measure.
There are about 1,500 organic farmers in Saskatchewan, at last count. They eschew the synthetic fertilizers and toxic sprays that are the mainstay of conventional farms. Study after study indicates the conventional thinking on farming - that we have to tolerate toxic chemicals because organic farming can't feed the world - is wrong.
In fact, studies like the Rodale trials ( show that after a three-year transition period, organic yields equalled conventional yields. What is more, the study showed organic crops were more resilient. Organic corn yields were 31 per cent higher than conventional in years of drought.
These drought yields are remarkable when compared to genetically modified (GM) "drought tolerant" varieties, which showed increases of only 6.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties.
More important than yield, from the farmer's perspective, is income, and here organic is clearly superior. The 30-year comparison showed organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems. The average net return for the organic systems was $558/acre/ year versus just $190/acre/year for the conventional systems. The much higher income reflects the premium organic farmers receive and consumers pay for.
But even without a price premium, the Rodale study found organic systems are competitive with the conventional systems because of marginally lower input costs.
It puts to shame Monsanto and RoundUp and all the other Big Ag companies poisoning our food and our water.

The beat down of Mr. David Brooks, esq.

Don't think much is left.

What do teachers make?

Update:  This video came from MoveOn:   Vote On The Top 5 Most Viral Progressive Videos and Graphics Of 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Listen to her words

"If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she's gonna call me Point B ... " began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis -- from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York's Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. -- and gives two breathtaking performances of "B" and "Hiroshima."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quoted on Facebook

Joe McKee
"Ron Paul wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act, privatize public education, abolish Social Security, kill Medicare, re-establish DADT, eliminate public housing, abolish federal student loans, kill Planned Parenthood, end the Departments of Energy and Education and the EPA, abolish the minimum wage, end affirmative action, disagrees with equal pay for women, and wants to end FEMA. He is a... dangerous individual who believes in mixing religion and government. Ron Paul would allow fundamentalist Christians to control the government, the very people who would end the personal liberties he claims to fight for. Ron Paul would destroy every good thing liberals have stood for and fought hard to gain over the last 100 years."Otherwise, he's a lovable old coot.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Sorta like this kitty:


Making the rounds on Facebook: Charlie Chaplin's final speech in the 'The Great Dictator':


 Banks actually just a bit concerned about Occupy Wall Street protesters. As they should be. Also, the squidding of Goldman Sachs.

 I KNEW my fascination with bees had something to do with brains.

 Cool new idea to sterilize hospital rooms.

 Monsanto's genetic food being rushed to market: Under Industry Pressure, USDA Works to Speed Approval of Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Crops.  And childhood obesity be damned, food giants fight proposed nutrition guidelines.

 Looks like Beijing is copying the pea-soup fogs of Jack the Ripper's era: Beijing air goes from 'hazardous' to off the charts, literally

 The Republicans' radical embrace of nullification.

 The trial of Bradley Manning.

 Keeping an eye on the radiation levels in Japan.

 Incoming water wars.

 How doctors choose to die when they know the options available.

 All this might not matter. The melting of the permafrost in the Arctic is releasing huge quantities of methane:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Houses out of Legos

Make this the next wave!  Article is from 2009, but wouldn't it be delightful?
May has set what he thinks should be a new world record: becoming the first man to live in a fully functioning house made of Lego.
"There are all sorts of things embodied in the Lego brick – geometry and mathematics and truth and proportion and shape and colour," says May. 
"It's very deep. Everybody should have a box and play with it occasionally. It's a form of brain training as well. I can't see how it can be bad for you. Unless you tread on it."
Update: News of the world in Legos.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

War presented by those who have no idea what the reality is


 And war presented by those who know full well what it means:

An Afghan woman cries out among the dead and injured in Kabul after a suicide bomber hidden among worshipers at a Shiite Muslim shrine exploded a device, killing 55 people and injuring 134 others. It was one of two deadly bomb attacks on Shiites in Afghanistan on a religious holiday. (Massoud Hossaini, AFP/Getty Images / December 7, 2011)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

When will we need geiger counters to go shopping?

Traces of radiation found in Japanese baby formula 
 A Japanese baby food manufacturer has announced the recall of 400,000 cans of infant formula that reportedly contain traces of radioactive cesium connected to the nation's recent nuclear plant meltdown. 
After panicked parents deluged Tokyo-based Meiji Co. with calls and e-mails, officials of the Tokyo-based food and candy maker responded Wednesday that they do not know how much of the tainted formula had reached consumers, but said the milk was manufactured in March and April and shipped not long afterward. 
The incident marked the second time this week that skittish Japanese citizens learned of more radioactive after-effects from the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The facility was struck March 11 by an earthquake-triggered tsunami that knocked out its cooling system and led to several reactor core meltdowns that spewed radiation into the air, water and soil. 
On Sunday, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, announced that 45 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from a filtration system at the atomic plant, with some of the water possibly reaching the nearby Pacific Ocean. 
Critics say the leak counteracts assurances that Tepco has largely controlled the environmental damage at the coastal plant, located 220 miles northeast of Tokyo. The radiation in the water from Sunday's leak measured up to 322 times higher than government safety limits for various types of cesium. 
On Wednesday, plant officials acknowledged that nearly 40 gallons of water from the weekend leak had reached the Pacific Ocean. The water, which was used to cool the reactors, contained not only cesium, but strontium, another dangerous isotope, the utility said.
Update: The Japanese are trying to tell themselves their land contaminated by radiation will be salvageable.
Those who fled Futaba are among the nearly 90,000 people evacuated from a 12-mile zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and another area to the northwest contaminated when a plume from the plant scattered radioactive cesium and iodine. Now, Japan is drawing up plans for a cleanup that is both monumental and unprecedented, in the hopes that those displaced can go home. The debate over whether to repopulate the area, if trial cleanups prove effective, has become a proxy for a larger battle over the future of Japan. Supporters see rehabilitating the area as a chance to showcase the country’s formidable determination and superior technical skills — proof that Japan is still a great power. For them, the cleanup is a perfect metaphor for Japan’s rebirth. Critics counter that the effort to clean Fukushima Prefecture could end up as perhaps the biggest of Japan’s white-elephant public works projects — and yet another example of post-disaster Japan reverting to the wasteful ways that have crippled economic growth for two decades. So far, the government is following a pattern set since the nuclear accident, dismissing dangers, often prematurely, and laboring to minimize the scope of the catastrophe. Already, the trial cleanups have stalled: the government failed to anticipate communities’ reluctance to store tons of soil to be scraped from contaminated yards and fields. And a radiation specialist who tested the results of an extensive local cleanup in a nearby city found that exposure levels remained above international safety standards for long-term habitation. Even a vocal supporter of repatriation suggests that the government has not yet leveled with its people about the seriousness of their predicament. “I believe it is possible to save Fukushima,” said the supporter, Tatsuhiko Kodama, director of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. “But many evacuated residents must accept that it won’t happen in their lifetimes.”
Map of contaminated area in Japan.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

To and fro

Registration of Guns and Licensing of Gun Owners from the Alien Perspective

Two interesting posts from Juan Cole: Israeli Ads against Marriage with American Jews are Part of a Population War   and Theocratic Dominance of the New Egypt may be Exaggerated

We've used PayPal with great success... because we are customers.  Apparently those who sell things often have a different experience.  The evils of PayPal.  Numbers of PayPal higher-ups.  Another person's experience and his Reddit post.  An anti-PayPal site.

Paul Krugman's take on the GOP's field of candidates:  Send in the Clueless.
Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today. You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year — and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!).
And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security.
So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or totally clueless.
For women cartoonists.. if any...  (I talked about this way back in 2007.)

One more thing in the Affordable Care Act that helps.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Big Bang?

Hundreds of metres under one of Iceland's largest glaciers there are signs of a looming volcanic eruption that could be one of the most powerful the country has seen in almost a century. Mighty Katla, with its 10km (6.2 mile) crater, has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland's east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. "There has been a great deal of seismic activity," says Ford Cochran, the National Geographic's expert on Iceland. There were more than 500 tremors in and around the caldera of Katla just in October, which suggests the motion of magma. "And that certainly suggests an eruption may be imminent."