Saturday, June 29, 2013

Master on marriage

The doing away with one or certain articles of diet, in itself, will not open the sealed portals. 

If this contained the key, what wise beings must the beasts of the field be, and what a profound Mystic must Nebuchadnezzar have been, after he was "turned out to grass"!

There are some adherents of a faith, which has arisen in the land, who deem it wise to cast away all things that are distasteful to them.

To cut asunder the ties of marriage because they deem it will interfere with their spiritual development.

Or because the other pilgrim is not progressed enough. 

Brothers, there lives not the man who is wise enough to sit as a judge upon the spiritual development of any living being. 

He is not only unwise but blasphemous who say to another: 

"Depart! you impede my exalted spiritual development."

The greatest of all truths lies frequently in plain sight, or veiled in contraries. 

The impression has gone abroad that the Adept or the Mystic of high degree has only attained his station by forsaking the association of his fellow creatures or refusing the marriage tie. 

It is the belief of very wise Teachers that all men who had risen to the highest degrees of Initiation, have at some time passed through the married state. 

Many men, failing in the trials, have ascribed their failure to being wedded.

Precisely as that other coward, Adam, after being the first transgressor cried out "It was Eve."

One of the most exalted of the Divine Mysteries lies hidden here -- therefore, oh Man, it is wise to cherish that which holds so much of God and seek to know its meaning; not by dissolution and cutting asunder, but by binding and strengthening the ties. 

Our most Ancient Masters knew of this and Paul also speaks of it.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Endless growth for ever and ever

. In the case of Earth, there is still some natural wealth that we could commodify. 

Perhaps we can drill in the Arctic, pump a few more billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, log the remaining rainforests. 

Surely if we try hard enough we can wring a few more years of growth from this planet.
Advocates of “sustainable growth” hope to expand the realm 
of goods and services — that is, increase consumption — without doing all of these things. 

In other words, they hope we can consume more and less at the same time. 

That is impossible, when growth means more purchasing power, more production, more automobiles, bigger houses, more electronics, more roads, more air travel… all of these contribute to economic growth as we define it today.
Transferring growth from these areas onto “green” industries is not a long-term way to sustain eternal growth either, although that transition is important in its own right. 

Certainly, we should get energy from sunlight rather than fossil fuels and nukes — but can we increase the number of solar panels forever? 

Certainly, we should stop clearcutting, mining, and ranching the Amazon and tap rubber trees and collect brazil nuts instead — but can we increase the production of those things forever? 

Obviously not. 

Furthermore, the most effective green technologies involve simply using less: conserving energy, living in smaller houses, biking instead of driving, couchsurfing instead of building new hotels, sharing and borrowing instead of owning a personal copy of every good, and so on. 

All of these involve economic degrowth.

So why is it that all we ever hear from our leaders is growth, growth, growth?

Can be that they do not understand?

Can it be that they do not care?

Can it be that they only care about the short term?

It is all of the above and that is why we must all be involved in fighting for greater awareness about these issues that so affect us all.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nice little lines

           A penny   saved is a
Government oversight.

The older you get, the tougher
It is to lose weight, because by
Then your body and your fat have
Gotten to be really good friends.

The easiest way to find
Something lost around the
House is to buy a replacement .

He who hesitates is probably right.

Did you ever notice: The Roman
Numerals for forty (40) are  'XL'.

The sole purpose of a child's
Middle name is so he can
Tell when he's really in trouble.

Did you ever notice: When you
Put the 2 words 'The' and 'IRS'
Together it spells 'Theirs....'

Aging: Eventually you will
Reach a point when you stop
Lying about your age and
Start bragging about it.
Some people try to turn back
Their odometers. Not me, I want
People to know 'why' I look this
Way.  I've traveled a long way and
Some of the roads weren't paved.

When you are dissatisfied and
Would like to go back to your
Youth, think of Algebra.

You know you are getting
Old when everything either
Dries up or leaks.

One of the many things no
One tells you about aging
Is that it is such a nice change
From being young.  Ah, being
Young is beautiful, but being
Old is comfortable.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just how we are

Think a lottery win would make you happy forever? 

Many of us do, including a US shopkeeper who just scooped $338 million in the Powerball lottery – the fourth largest prize in the game's history. 

Before the last Powerball jackpot in the United States, tickets were being snapped up at a rate of around 130,000 a minute. 

But before you place all your hopes and dreams on another ticket, here’s something you should know. 

All the evidence suggests a big payout won’t make that much of a difference in the end.
Winning the lottery isn't a ticket to true happiness, however enticing it might be to imagine never working again and being able to afford anything you want. 

One study famously found that people who had big wins on the lottery ended up no happier than those who had bought tickets but didn't win. 

It seems that as long as you can afford to avoid the basic miseries of life, having loads of spare cash doesn't make you very much happier than having very little.
One way of accounting for this is to assume that lottery winners get used to their new level of wealth, and simply adjust back to a baseline level of happiness – something called the “hedonic treadmill”. 

Another explanation is that our happiness depends on how we feel relative to our peers. 

If you win the lottery you may feel richer than your neighbours, and think that moving to a mansion in a new neighbourhood would make you happy, but then you look out of the window and realise that all your new friends live in bigger mansions.
Both of these phenomena undoubtedly play a role, but the deeper mystery is why we're so bad at knowing what will give us true satisfaction in the first place. 

You might think we should be able to predict this, even if it isn't straightforward. 

Lottery winners could take account of hedonic treadmill and social comparison effects when they spend their money. 

So, why don't they, in short, spend their winnings in ways that buy happiness?
Picking up points
Part of the problem is that happiness isn't a quality like height, weight or income that can be easily measured and given a number (whatever psychologists try and pretend). 

Happiness is a complex, nebulous state that is fed by transient simple pleasures, as well as the more sustained rewards of activities that only make sense from a perspective of years or decades. 

So, perhaps it isn't surprising that we sometimes have trouble acting in a way that will bring us the most happiness. 

Imperfect memories and imaginations mean that our moment-to-moment choices don't always reflect our long-term interests.
It even seems like the very act of trying to measuring it can distract us from what might make us most happy. 

An important study by Christopher Hsee of the Chicago School of Business and colleagues showed how this could happen.
Hsee’s study was based around a simple choice: participants were offered the option of working at a 6-minute task for a gallon of vanilla ice cream reward, or a 7-minute task for a gallon of pistachio ice cream. 

Under normal conditions, less than 30% of people chose the 7-minute task, mainly because they liked pistachio ice cream more than vanilla. 

For happiness scholars, this isn't hard to interpret –those who preferred pistachio ice cream had enough motivation to choose the longer task. 

But the experiment had a vital extra comparison. 

Another group of participants were offered the same choice, but with an intervening points system: the choice was between working for 6 minutes to earn 60 points, or 7 minutes to earn 100 points. 

With 50-99 points, participants were told they could receive a gallon of vanilla ice cream. 

For 100 points they could receive a gallon of pistachio ice cream. 

Although the actions and the effects are the same, introducing the points system dramatically affected the choices people made. 

Now, the majority chose the longer task and earn the 100 points, which they could spend on the pistachio reward – even though the same proportion (about 70%) still said they preferred vanilla.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Road changes........maybe

Glow in the dark ice symbols on roadTemperature-sensitive road paint warns drivers of icy conditions

While car makers have raced to add the latest technologies to their vehicles, the roads they drive on have arguably failed to evolve at the same pace.

Now, an odd couple based in the Netherlands hope to change that with visions of self-illuminating weather warning signs painted on to the tarmac, and a dedicated lane capable of recharging electric cars on the go.

The pair are Daan Roosegaarde, an artist famous for wacky interactive projects, and Hans Goris, a manager at the Dutch civil engineering firm Heijmans.

Mr Roosegaarde's past efforts have included a dance floor with built-in disco lights powered by dancers' foot movements, and a dress that becomes see-through when the wearer is aroused.

Heijmans spends much of its time working on more sober schemes, such as city centre car parks and shopping centres.

As unlikely as the pairing sounds, the two men believe their smart highway concept has the potential to revolutionise motorways.

The project is dubbed "Route 66 of the future" - a nod towards the US highway which connected Chicago and Los Angeles in the 1920s.

Tellingly the route - which was decommissioned in the 1980s - also serves as a warning of what can happen if infrastructure fails to move with the times.

I was completely amazed that we somehow spend billions on the design and R&D of cars but somehow the roads - which actually determine the way our landscape looks like - are completely immune to that process, Mr Roosegaarde says.

They are still stuck in the Middle Ages, so to speak.

One of the innovations he dreamt up involves painting road markings with glow-in-the-dark-paint.

The idea is that a "photo-luminising" powder contained in the substance would charge up in the daytime and then slowly release a green glow at night, doing away with the need for lamps.
Glow in the dark road markingsOne idea is to paint road markings with paint that uses sunlight to glow up to 10 hours in the dark

When we started this project [Heijmans] was working on an energy-neutral street light, trying to work with solar panels and things like that..

I thought that was updating an old idea, and I forced them to look at movies of jellyfish. 

How does a jellyfish give light? 

It has no solar panel, it has no energy bill.

And then we went back to the drawing board and came up with these paints which charge up in the daytime and give light at night.

Coming up with such an idea is one thing, turning it into reality another. 

This is where Mr Goris' technical expertise comes into play.

You're talking about large amounts of crystal that need to be mixed with the paint.

They make these crystals these days with certain additives. 

One of them is Europium... it increases the quality of the crystals by a factor of two or three.

We would like to use [this] outside of cities, in rural areas where there's no lighting.

The two men also plan to use another temperature-sensitive paint mixture to create giant snow flake-shaped warning signs on the roads.

The patterns should glow when sections of the tarmac become cold, warning that they may have iced over and become slippery.

Tests have already been carried out on wood-based mocked-up sections of motorway in Mr Roosegaarde's studio at Waddinxveen, about 45km (27 miles) south of Amsterdam.

Heijmans now plans to fund an outdoors trial on a strip of road at Brabant, near the Dutch border with Belgium, later this year.

The two men also advocate more costly updates.

One involves creating an "induction priority lane" containing built-in coils capable of recharging electric cars as they pass overhead.

The idea may sound like something out of science-fiction, but similar technology is already being used to power a "cable-free" tram system in Bordeaux, France.

Efforts to bring the innovation to roads are already being worked on atStanford University, Canadian transportation firm Bombardier, USchip maker Qualcomm and German engineering firm IAV among others.

Electric priority lane graphicInduction lanes could let electric cars avoid having to park for lengthy battery recharges
If you're able to recharge vehicles while driving you can limit the amount of batteries or extend the range that they have.

I don't foresee that every motorway in Holland will have a third or second lane available with coils that charge your vehicle, but at specific locations you could think of it.

The two Dutchmen also have another trick up their sleeves: small turbines placed at strategic locations to take advantage of wind generated by passing vehicles.

Attached to each one would be an LED light, providing a free source of illumination to mark the motorway's edges.

We figured out that in front of and after tunnels there is an enormous amount of wind flow that is not being used at all, which you can easily take and use," says Mr Roosegaarde.

Mr Goris adds that it would also be ideal to place them in the middle of roads to take advantage of the breeze generated by cars rushing past each other in opposite directions.

It looks good on paper, it works.

But new roads are built in Holland with a middle barrier of [between] 10 to 20 metres so you lose the effect of the wind.

However, we don't look at these ideas only for the Dutch market. 

If it helps other people in different countries to come up with practical ideas we would love to show the idea there and have somebody else continue with it.

It's still early days for these ideas and they may ultimately remain pipe dreams. 

But tech writer and BBC Click regular Bill Thompson believes such efforts are to be commended.

Unless you've got someone who is willing to take the risk of saying things that may sound very silly you're never going to make progress," he says.

The problem is that a lot of money is already invested in road building using traditional materials... it's not that these aren't brilliant ideas, but how are you going to deliver them.

Leo Kelion/Colin Grant

Monday, June 24, 2013

Flat pack truck

Sir Torquil Norman is an inventor who has done many things in his life, 
he was responsible for the Polly Pocket range of mini-dolls and the plastic lunch box. 

Sir Torquil Norman, who is also an aviator, philanthropist, former Wall Street banker and the father of Jesse, the Conservative MP tipped as a future prime minister, has now directed his brain beyond the playground to the developing world of the future. 

This week he unveiled a prototype flat-pack truck that, appropriately, looks like a toy. 

But it has a serious purpose – to provide cheap, reliable transport in the world's remotest places.

The OX would be shipped in pieces, packed six to a standard shipping container (which hold only two standard trucks, Norman says). 

The vehicle then emerges, Transformer-like, from a box formed by its own trailer area. 

Assembly is an involved process by Ikea standards but not for a working truck – it takes three handy people 11 hours to build each OX. 

The vehicle can be adapted to carry people or cargo and supports two tons, more than twice the weight, say, that a standard Land Rover can take. 

The engine can be used to power a water pump or serve as a generator.

Norman, below, who is 6ft 7in and has the lanky, avuncular charm of a senior Snow brother, has long been dismayed by the car industry's approach to the developing world. "I could never understand how every car that came out seemed to be heavier, more complicated and more expensive than the last. 

But then you realise the entire industry caters for less than 25 per cent of the world's population, which is insane when you're looking at countries where only a tiny fraction of people have access to vehicles."

The OX's flat-pack advantages include many parts, such as the doors, that can be bolted to either side of the vehicle. 

Its windscreen is made of three panes, making repairs less costly, and the seats can be pulled out and used as ramps to get heavy cargo in the back or "ladders" to bridge sand that would otherwise give the wheels insufficient grip. 

The truck, which Norman will sell from his charitable Norman Trust, will cost from £10,000 to £25,000, much less than a shinier model from an established manufacturer.

A village with an OX would suddenly be independent and could conceivably prevent its young people being forced to move to some terrible slum in a huge city," Norman says. "

I think we might just have the tiger by the tail. 

It seems to me we may be opening a door to making a lot of people's lives better."

Norman is already in talks with several charities that rely on traditional trucks. 

Riders for Health provides and maintains more than 1,400 vehicles, including motorbikes, for health workers in sub-Saharan Africa.

There is a real market failure here," says Vinay Nagaraju, who runs operations for the Northampton-based charity. "

We still haven't seen big manufacturers, the global players, really look at vehicles specifically designed for regions where there is huge potential to drive the economy forward."

Riders for Health typically sources vehicles from the big makers, shipping them at great expense for use in projects such as community immunisation programmes in remote villages. 

Further funds are required to adapt vehicles that are inevitably designed with less-than-hostile environments in mind. 

Their typical useful working life in the field is as little as five years. 

Norman believes the OX could keep rolling for 20 years or more.

It's a very promising vehicle because it is also durable and versatile," Nagaraju adds.

Norman has competition. Joel Jackson is a young social entrepreneur from Sheffield who was advising a forestry enterprise in rural Kenya in 2010 when he, too, observed the lack of good, rural transport. Mobius, the 28-year-old's new Mombasa-based company, has already built a second prototype car that swaps frills for practicality, offering a rugged all-terrain vehicle that will cost just £4,500.

I thought it could be game-changing if we could provide a platform for mobility that would bring out latent entrepreneurialism across Africa," he told Wired magazine. 

Mobius will also offer business advice to customers and even help them find financing, but also plans to be a profit-making enterprise.

Others have failed where Norman and Jackson hope to succeed. 

Back in the Live Aid era of the 1980s, Sir Torquil was originally inspired by a book called Africar. 

It accompanied a Channel 4 series of the same name that charted the efforts of a man called Tony Howarth to build a cheap vehicle for the continent. 

But his plywood invention got seriously stuck in the mud when he was found to have been less than honest in dealing with the project's backers. 

In 1994 he was imprisoned for fraud.

A seed had been sewn and Norman has finally found the time in his later years to do the job properly. 

But, at 80, should he not be slowing down a bit? 

He laughs. "I only stopped flying a fortnight ago," he says. "

My partner and I took my old Dragon Fly up for a run. 

I'd just fitted new cylinder heads and it was smooth as silk."

Norman is fanatical about planes and has amassed a vast collection of classic flying machines. In 2007 he stepped down as chairman of the Roundhouse Trust and later wrote a book, Kick The Tyres, Light The Fires: One Man's Vision For Britain's Future And How We Can Make It Work. 

His personal visions may now be firmly at ground level, but there's no holding him back. "

I think if I started taking it easy I'd be dead," he says, still laughing

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Iodine and pregnant women

Iodine deficiency is widespread amongst pregnant women in the UK and may be harming the cognitive development of their children, scientists have found.

The first large study of the problem in the UK has revealed that two-thirds of expectant mothers had a mild to moderate deficiency in the mineral, which was associated with significantly lower IQ and reading ability in their children at the ages of eight and nine.

Iodine is essential for growth and development of the brain, and pregnant women need 50 per cent more. 

Researchers said women should ensure they are getting enough from their diet – milk, yogurt and fish are the best sources – and that any pregnancy supplement they take contains iodine.

But they warned that kelp and seaweed supplements should be avoided as they contain variable levels of iodine and could lead to overdose. 

Severe iodine deficiency is known to cause brain damage and is the biggest cause of mental deficiency in the developing world. 

But mild to moderate iodine deficiency has been little studied – until now.

Researchers from the Universities of Surrey and Bristol examined records of 1,000 mothers who were part of the Children of the 90s study which has followed the development of children born to 14,000 mothers in Avon since 1990-91. 

They found that 67 per cent of the mothers had levels of iodine below that recommended by the World Health Organisation. 

Their children were divided into groups according to how well they performed on IQ and reading tests at eight and nine. 

The results showed those whose mothers had low iodine levels were 60 per cent more likely to be in the bottom group.

Children of mothers with low iodine scored six points lower on verbal IQ than those born to mothers with adequate iodine. 

Professor Jean Golding, founder of the Children of the 90s study, said the effect was large enough to influence exam grades later in life. 

“If iodine deficiency were rare I would not be so worried. 

But it is not rare. 

This may prevent a child reaching their full potential.

Margaret Rayman, professor of nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey, who led the study published in The Lancet, said deficiency of iodine had been widespread in the UK until the 1960s. 

A change in farming practice led to iodine being added to winter cattle feed to boost milk yield in cows. 

Milk then became a good source of iodine, especially in winter, supplying 42 per cent of the population’s needs and it was assumed the UK had sufficient levels. 

However a Lancet study in 2011 found mild deficiency in schoolgirls in nine parts of the UK.

“You would expect to see a deficiency in women and girls. 

They don’t drink a lot of milk. 

Teenage girls are worried about their weight,” Professor Rayman said.

Conventional milk contained more iodine than organic milk, and white fish more than oily fish, she said. 

Recommended amounts for pregnant women were two portions of fish a week and three portions of dairy products a day. 

“If you are taking pregnancy supplements check the label – not all contain iodine. 

The recommended levels from all sources for pregnant and breastfeeding women are 250 micrograms of iodine a day, for adults 150 micrograms and for children 90-120 micrograms.”

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those planning a pregnancy, need 250 micrograms daily. 

The best source is fish and dairy products. 

As a guide, two portions of fish a week and three portions of dairy products a day should be sufficient. 

Women taking pregnancy supplements are advised to choose ones containing iodine. 

The recommended amount is 140-150mcgs a day – the rest coming from diet. 

It is important not to have too much – more than 600mcgs a day can cause thyroid problems. 

Kelp and seaweed supplements should be avoided as they contain excessive amounts of iodine.           

Jeremy Laurance

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Three big companies

Three big companies now control more than half of the global seed market.

A position that has sent prices soaring. 

In the first half of the 20th century, seeds were overwhelmingly in the hands of farmers and public-sector plant breeders. 

In the decades since then, Gene Giants have used intellectual property laws to commodify the world seed supply.

A strategy that aims to control plant germplasm and maximise profits by eliminating Farmers' Rights.

Since the mid-1990s just five biotech giants - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont - have bought up more than 200 other companies between them to dominate our access to seeds.

The top 10 seed companies account for $14,785 million - or two-thirds (67%) of the global seed market. 

The world's largest seed company, Monsanto, accounts for almost one-quarter (23%) of the global seed market. 

The top three companies (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta) together account for $10,282 million, or 47% of the worldwide seed market.

Not coincidentally the report said the average cost of planting an acre of soybeans had risen 325% between 1995 and 2011.

The role of genetically enginered (GE) seeds

The introduction of GE, or transgenic, crops has fundamentally altered farming for thousands of
American farmers. 

And others worldwide.

Biotechnology firms claim comprehensive rights to GE plants by virtue of
inserting single genes.

The advent of genetic engineering has expedited claims for seed patents and
has subsequently become a gateway to controlling seed germplasm.

This shift toward market domination of GE seeds is a primary basis for the plethora of investigations and lawsuits targeting farmers.

The vast majority of the four major commodity crops in the U.S.are now genetically engineered.

U.S.adoption of transgenic commodity crops has been rapid, in which GE varieties now make up  the substantial majority:

Soybean 93 percent transgenic in 2010 and climbing further every year. 

Cotton 88 percent. 

Corn 86 percent 

Canola  64 percent.

The two major types of GE crops are:

1) herbicide resistant crops that enable application of one or
more herbicides to kill weeds without harming the

2) insect-resistant,Bt crops that produce
toxins in their tissues that kill certain pests that try
to feed on them.

There is and has been little or no research on the effects upon humans of eating these foods.

There is no research on the long term effects on human systems.

There could be a very high price to pay for biodiversity and human well being

Time will show