August 23, 2012
From USA Today
Mainly because power plants have switched from coal to natural gas, climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions hit an unexpected 20-year low earlier this year, the Associated Press reports.
AP cites a “little-noticed technical report” released earlier this month by the U.S. Energy Department. It stated that CO2 emissions from January through April hit 1992 levels, a “surprising turnaround,” AP writes.
AP says it contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies “and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.”
Although conservation, the sluggish economy and wider use of renewable energy contributed to the decline, low-priced natural gas was the prime factor, the Energy Information Agency found. The speed of the electric-power industry’s switch from coal to gas surprised just about everyone.
Despite the good news here, coal use and CO2 emissions are rising worldwide. And natural gas still emits carbon dioxide, though CO2 emissions from natural gas in the United States were down in the first quarter.
“Natural gas is not a long-term solution to the CO2 problem,” Roger Pielke Jr., a climate expert at the University of Colorado, told AP.
The portion of the nation’s electricity that comes from coal has fallen to its lowest level since World War II.
Today in Louisville, Ky., natural gas was on the agenda at a major coal conference: “Natural Gas: Is the Threat to Coal Sustainable?”
August 22, 2012
Do animals think and feel?
by Marc Bekoff
Every now and again I receive an email message I ignore after reading the subject line. I know I’m not alone in following this rule of thumb, but today I broke down and opened a message the subject line of which read “Scientists Declare: Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious“. I honestly thought it was a joke, likely from one of my favorite newspapers, The Onion. However, it wasn’t.
My colleague Michael Mountain published a summary of a recent meeting held in Cambridge, England at which “Science leaders have reached a critical consensus: Humans are not the only conscious beings; other animals, specifically mammals and birds, are indeed conscious, too.” At this gathering, called The Francis Crick Memorial Conference, a number of scientists presented evidence that led to this self-obvious conclusion. It’s difficult to believe that those who have shared their homes with companion animals didn’t already know this. And, of course, many renowned and award-winning field researchers had reached the same conclusion years ago (see also).
Michael Mountain was as incredulous as I and many others about something we already knew. It’s interesting to note that of the 15 notables who spoke at this conference only one has actually done studies of wild animals. It would have been nice to hear from researchers who have conducted long-term studies of wild animals, including great apes, other nonhuman primates, social carnivores, cetaceans, rodents, and birds, for example, to add to the database. Be that as it may, I applaud their not so surprising conclusion and now I hope it will be used to protect animals from being treated abusively and inhumanely.
Some might say we didn’t really know that other animals were conscious but this is an incredibly naive view given what we know about the neurobiology and cognitive and emotional lives of other animals. Indeed, it was appeals to these very data that led to the conclusions of this group of scientists. But did we really need a group of internationally recognized scientists to tell us that the data are really okay? Yes and no, but let’s thank them for doing this.
I agree with Michael Mountain that “It’s a really important statement that will be used as evidence by those who are pushing for scientists to develop a more humane relationship with animals. It’s harder, for example, to justify experiments on nonhumans when you know that they are conscious beings and not just biological machines. Some of the conclusions reached in this declaration are the product of scientists who, to this day, still conduct experiments on animals in captivity, including dolphins, who are among the most intelligent species on Earth. Their own declaration will now be used as evidence that it’s time to stop using these animals in captivity and start finding new ways of making a living.”..
Read rest of the article here
August 21, 2012
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Jokes
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LAN, LAN ago, in the land of I/O-dhya, there ruled a king named DOS-rat. Three queens had he – CONSOLE-ya, CHECKSUM-itra and CIE/CAE (Kaikeyi). However, he had no line drivers – i.e. no one to perpetuate his line. In sheer desperation, he performed a great sacrifice after which his queens gave birth to four sons – RAM, LSIman, BUG-rat and SED-rughana.
RAM was a microchip off the old block – he had an excellent memory, he logged in quickly and semi-conducted himself in a manner fit for a king. His brothers, however, were only perpheralI ICs; every time RAM addressed them, they said, “I-C”. Once when RAM was only sixteen years old, the great sage Vish-WAN-mitra sought his help to fight some DAEMONs who persistently RAIDed his hermitage. After a brief collision, RAM routed them so easily that he came to be called DAEMON ROUTER.
RAM then proceeded to Media, where he married Pricess C+ta. C+ta’s sisters, who were not her blood sisters and hence called TRAN-sisters, married RAM’s ICs. This ceremony came to be known as TTL.
On the way back to I/O-dhya,the entourage met Parasu-ROM (or P-ROM as he was better known), the scourge of the kshatriyas. Taking up the P-ROM challenge, RAM aimed an arrow at him; he threatened to take away P-ROM’s powers of locomotion, thereby converting him to Static RAM.
P-ROM humbly withdrew and the procession reached I/O-dhya. Twelve years passed and DOS-rat decided to crown RAM as his successor. However, CIE/CAE, at the instigation of her BIOSed maid MANtharai(a real plotter), insisted that her son Bug-rat be crowned king and that RAM be banished to the FOR(;;)est for fourteen years. At this cruel and unexpected demAND, a surge passed thru DOS-rat and he CRASHED, power-less.
RAM agreed to go to FOR(;;)est and C+ta insisted to go with him. She said that at the time of her marriage, her father had advised her to follow the footsteps of her husband like a shadow, hence, she came to be called SHADOW-RAM. LSI-man was also resolved on accompanying his brother as a SLAVE LSI. Unable to bear separation,
DOS-rat died, setting the precedent that no system could function in the absence of RAM. The forest was the dwelling of SPARC-nakha, the sister of RAW-van, King of LAN-ka. Attracted by RAM’s stature, she proposed that he marry her. RAM routed her to LSI-man, who also politely declined. Perceiving C+ta to be the source code of her distress, she hastened to kill her. At this stage LSI-man executed the Memory resident code and converted SPARC-naak to SPARC-no-naak. He TRUNCATED her nose.
Weeping, SPARC-no-naak fled to LAN-ka, where RAW-van, moved by sisters plight, approached his uncle MAR-icha.
Ignoring MAR-icha’s compilation warnings not to RISC SPARC-ing a war with RAM, he insisted on going ahead.Accordingly, MAR-icha transformed himself into the form of golden sTAG and drew RAM deep into the forest. Finally, tired of chase, RAM shot the deer, who, with his last breath, cried out desperately for LSI-man in RAM’s voice. Fooled by this Virtual RAM cry, C+ta urged LSI-man to his brothers aid. Catching the opportunity, RAW-van delinked C+ta from her library and changed her root directory to LAN-ka by BROADCASTING her over sky.
RAM and LSI-man started FINDing for the missing i-node, C+ta allover the forest. They made friendship with the forest admin SU-greev and his powerful co-processor ha-NEUMAN. ha-NEUMAN was a legendary figure. He had a swollen cheek ARCHITECTURE. He was a child prodigy and came up with newer methedologies and techniques which inspired many others. In particular his RAM mantra technique became extremely popular for generations. SU-greev agreed to help RAM but first wanted help from RAM to delete his own root node VAALI.( valli?) SU-greev’s intention was obvious. He wanted to be the only admin around & wanted to grab all the consulting jobs in the forest.
RAM fought with VALLI and surprised him using some un-documented features.VALLI cried foul and started complaining to the justice department saying that it was not a fair fight.RAM then convinced everyone using his trademark MICRO SOFT WORDs coupled with a few FREE vedic goodies.Though some of the onlookers such as ORACLE (seer)and pancha bhutas such as SUN, disagreed with RAM’s micro soft touch,they all shut their mouths fearing RAM’s reach among the user community. SU-greev was happy with the outcome and ordered his programmers to use powerful ‘search’ techniques to find the missing C+ta. His programmers searched all around the INTER-NET worked forests. Some of them shouted ‘YAA-HOO’ but ended up with ‘not found’ messages. Several other search techniques proved useless.
Ha-NEUMAN using a radically different paradigm devised a RISKy technology and used it to cross the seas at astonishing clock speeds. On the way he bumped with a few satellite signals but was able to avoid deflections due to his own high strength. As soon as ha-NEUMAN reached LAN-ka, he had to collide with its firewall called LAN-ki. The firewall made desperate attempts to stop ha-NEUMAN entering into its internal web, but the great ha-NEUMAN detected a loop hole in LAN-ki’s firewall. Using micro code, he broke the security and entered LAN-ka.
After doing some local search, ha-NEUMAN found C+ta weeping under the weight of a TREE structure. ha-NEUMAN used a unique key-id (ring) to identify himself to C+ta. After decrypting the key, C+ta believed in him and asked him to send a STATUS_OK message to RAM through RING topology.
Meanwhile all the raakshasa BUGS around C+ta tied ha-NEUMANand tried to terminate him using pyro-techniques. But ha-NEUMAN managed to spread chaos among the raakshasas by SPAMMING the fire using some side effects.
Several raakshasa programmers were later called to restorethe operational stability in LAN-ka. ha-NEUMAN happily escaped LAN-ka again and conveyed all the STATUS messages to RAM and SU-greev. RAM felt happy with ha-NEUMAN’s methodology of execution and embarked on a project code named EXPLORER to delete the netESCAPING RAW-wan. He even created a bridge and GATEWAY to access LAN-ka network.
In the mean time, signs were apparent in LAN-ka about the imminent danger from RAM’s project EXPLORER, but RAW-wan refused to budge. Sensing disaster, his ownsub-program called vibhee-SHUN,executeda ‘GO TO’statement and branched out to RAM’s camp. RAW-wan still insisted on taking the all powerful RAM head-on. He decided to use the boons given to him by SUN, sHIVa etc.and prepared for the battle on a remote island on LAN-ka called JAVA.
He thought that his presence in JAVA will give him victory over RAM. RAM and his entourage made small and buggy progress in the beginning but the world community on the whole started watching them with awe. In the battle on JAVA island, it appeared initially that RAM had no chance.
In fact one of the RAW-wan’s SUN indrajIT (son) almost killed RAM & LSI-man with a powerful brahma-astra called JAVA-BEAN. It appeared for a while that the world has seen the end of RAM’s MICRO SOFT touch. But ha-NEUMAN resorted to some ACTIVE-Xgradients from HILL GATES and concocted a potion using some herbs.
His powerful HERBAL-COMPUTER aided him in making this potion which restarted RAM and LSI-man. Appearing, reluctant RAM used the source code secrets of RAW-wan given by vibhee-SHUN and once and for all wiped out RAW-wan’s presence on the earth. Before that he even SCHEDULED RAW-wan to come next day when all his resources were locked up bu RAM’s virus weapons He proved again that even the so called invincible RAW-wan cannot be netESCAPED from his power.
After the battle, RAM spread his MICRO SOFT WORKS and other user friendly programs to all users across the world and every one lived happily thereafter.
August 20, 2012
I was chanting japa in the dark of the night the other day and I heard coyotes howling in the distance. While it isn’t rare to hear them it is uncommon as they tend to be quite discreet. They can be known to be active in that there are less ground hogs this year than previous years and that is probably attributable to them.
They also eat cats. We had one cat who abruptly disappeared, no trace. If he had been hit by a car we would have seen a body on the roadway but one day he just wasn’t there.
We have two cats now, one who is too dumb to figure out how to use the cat door so she is always safe in the house at night, but James is free to go in and out even at night.
The thought was that even if it put his life in danger being out at night, let him live free.
James came to us from Georgia. One day my son Madhu found him as a kitten crawled up into his motor at night for warmth. They kept him but it was a problem as he had issues with their two existing cats.
James was constantly peeing, staking out his territory so they had to keep him locked up in the laundry room. He loved going outside so they would let him out a few hours a day but mostly had to keep him confined.
Eventually they realized this wasn’t working so took him to the animal shelter. Two hours later they couldn’t stand it so went and got him back. While I am not a cat person, Madhu knew my wife is and played on her sympathies and secured her permission to bring him here.
So Madhu drove James up here from Georgia and dropped him off.
James loves it here and is a voracious hunter, he will bring in multiple rodents a day some days. Even our neighbor said that lately James has been hanging out at their place and since he started, they noticed they have less mice.
Madhu was part of the decision to let him wander at night, despite the danger from coyotes. Let him take the risk and have his freedom, but he has survived for several years now and my bet is he is wily enough to survive several more.
August 16, 2012
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Poetry
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When in his twenties a poetry’s full strength
Burst into voice as an unstopping flood,
He let the divine prompting (come at length)
Rushingly bear him any way it would
And went on writing while the Ferry turned
From San Francisco, back from Berkeley too,
And back again, and back again. He learned
You add to, you don’t cancel what you do.
Between the notebook-margins his pen travelled,
His own lines carrying him in a new mode
To ports in which past purposes unravelled.
So that, as on the Ferry Line he rode,
Whatever his first plans that night had been,
The energy that rose from their confusion
Became the changing passage lived within
While the pen wrote, and looked beyond conclusion.
Forty years later, and both kidneys gone;
Every eight hours, home dialysis;
The habit of his restlessness stayed on
Exhausting him with his responsiveness.
After the circulations of one day
In which he taught a three-hour seminar
Then gave a reading clear across the Bay,
And while returning from it to the car
With plunging hovering tread tired and unsteady
Down Wheeler steps, he faltered and he fell
—Fell he said later, as if I stood ready,
“Into the strong arms of Thom Gunn.”
The image comic, as I might have known,
And generous, but it turned things round to myth:
He fell across the white steps there alone,
Though it was me indeed that he was with.
I hadn’t caught him, hadn’t seen in time,
And picked him up where he had softly dropped,
A pillow full of feathers. Was it a rime
He later sought, in which he might adopt
The role of H.D., broken-hipped and old,
Who, as she moved off from the reading-stand,
Had stumbled on the platform but was held
And steadied by another poet’s hand?
He was now a posthumous poet, I have said
(For since his illness he had not composed),
In sight of a conclusion, whose great dread
his life soon to be enclosed
Like the sparrow’s flight above the feasting friends,
Briefly revealed where its breast caught their light,
Beneath the long roof, between open ends,
Themselves the margins of unchanging night.
August 15, 2012
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Liver Transplant
My creatinine level is 4.77 which means I have 12 % kidney function. 6 months ago I still had 20% function and was advised when it got to 5% I would need to go on dialysis. It was predicted that would happen in 2 -12 months so I am right on schedule, sort of beating the odds really, hoping the longer time frame prevails.
One symptom of decreased kidney function is fluid retention. I have been retaining fluid for a while but it has been getting worse. It used to be that if I was active or laying down my feet would be fine but if I sat for extended periods they would swell up. Even if they swelled during the day after a night of laying down they would be fine. For the last month that is no longer holding true, they simple vary between being a little puffy or feeling like the skin is being stretched.
Another manifestation of fluid retention is a bloated gut. It accumulates in the peritoneal cavity. While it is a bit unpleasant to be carrying around that extra weight, the other night it crossed a tipping point. I was so bloated I was having having difficulty breathing hence was unable to sleep.
Like if you take a really deep breath and your diaphragm is fully extended, that was where I was starting. There was no room for the diaphragm to expand so I couldn’t take in much air.
Same with my ribs. When you fully inhale the ribs rise a little bit but they were already pushed out so I could only take take these shallow breaths so had to speed up my breathing rate to stay oxygenated. Not pleasant at all.
I had been having to sleep on my back for a while so the fluid wasn’t pressing on my lungs. If I had tried to lay on my side it would slosh up against the lungs and restrict breathing, but this was the first night even laying on my back wasn’t working. Sitting up didn’t even help much.
I called my nephrologist as soon as her office opened and they put me on 100 ml of Lasix every 8 hours. Lasix is a diuretic that helps shed fluid. I had been on 80 ml every other day but that was no longer sufficient. They said call back in 24 hours and if that didn’t work I would have to go to the hospital and go on a Lasix IV.
Fortunately it worked and last night I was able to breath and sleep. I am still bloated but there is room for expansion of my diaphragm so I am grateful and not taking breathing for granted, it is really such a gift.
August 14, 2012
Posted by Madhava Gosh under Thomas Merton
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“Those corrupted by a type of sophisticated cynicism may mock these descriptions of a paradisiacal world situation effected simply by worshiping the Supreme Lord. Unfortunately, modern man has created a hell on earth in his cynical rejection of heaven on earth, which is actually possible through Krsna consciousness.
“The situation described here, created simply by the auspicious bathing ceremony of the Lord, is an authentic historical incident. Since history repeats itself, there is hope that the Krsna consciousness movement may again bring the world community to the brilliant reality of self-realized existence.”
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.27
“Hope takes us entirely out of this world while we remain bodily in the midst of it. Our minds retain their clear views of what is good in creatures. Our wills remain chaste and solitary in the midst of all created beauty…”
No Man Is An Island (New York: Harvest Book, 1983):253
August 13, 2012
When the dereche hit and hundreds of thousands were without electricity, it was complicated because we simultaneously had a heat wave. Temperatures were in the upper 90s and even hit 100 degrees (38 C). As most people are addicted to air conditioning, this made for quite a lot of discomfort.
We were less affected because we didn’t have air conditioning to start with. We were already using passive cooling. Besides having a white metal roof that reflects a lot of heat, we have the habit of opening and closing windows and curtains.
We check ambient temperature and when it becomes cooler at night outside than inside we open up all the windows. When the sun shines through he south windows in the morning we close them and pull the curtains to cut off any heat gain, and when the temperature outside rises to the indoor temperature we close the rest of the windows.
We use fans in the windows to help bring the cool night air into the house.
Most days we can keep the interior temperature to 74 degrees (23 C) or less. Even after numerous days of upper 90s, the day it got to 100 (38 C) it only got to 78 degrees (25.5 C) by the end of the afternoon.
The problem with those consecutive hot days is that it doesn’t get cooler outside than inside until quite late so I was having to get up in the middle of the night to open things up whereas the normal routine is to open things before going to bed, but that was a minor inconvenience.
Anybody, even those who do use air conditioning, can adopt these techniques and save a lot of energy. Closing south curtains during sunny days will cut the workload of an air conditioner and is simple enough to do.
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