Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Holy Mackerel! Good FIsh to Eat -- from NYT 5/31/06

A Guide to Guilt-Free Fish

Published: May 31, 2006
These fish can be eaten once a week by adults, according to an assessment of contaminant levels by Environmental Defense. Those marked with an asterisk can be eaten more than once a week.


ARCTIC CHAR, color added
*BLACK COD (Sable, Butterfish on West Coast)
*BLACK SEA BASS Younger children no more than four times a month
*HAKE (white, silver and red)
HAKE (Chilean, Cape and Argentine)
*HALIBUT (Pacific only) Older children 3 times a month, younger children twice
*MACKEREL (Atlantic or Boston only)
MAHI-MAHI Younger children 3 times a month
*PACIFIC SAND DAB (yellowtail flounder)
*SALMON (Pacific)
*SOLE (gray, petrale, rex, yellowfin)
SOLE (Dover; English or lemon, older children 3 times a month, younger children twice)


CATFISH (domestic)
STRIPED BASS (rockfish)
*TROUT (rainbow); TROUT (steelhead)


*CLAMS (northern quahogs)
CLAMS (Atlantic surf, butter, Manila, ocean quahog, Pacific geoduck, Pacific littleneck and soft-shell)
*CRAB (Dungeness, snow) Dungeness: younger children once a week
CRAB (Florida stone, Jonah, king)
*CRAYFISH (United States)
*LOBSTER (American) Children 2 to 4 times a month
*MUSSELS (farmed blue; wild blue, children 2 to 3 times a month)
MUSSELS (New Zealand green, Mediterranean)
OYSTERS (farmed Eastern and Pacific)
*SCALLOPS (bay; Northeast, Canadian sea)
*SHRIMP (wild American pink, white, brown)
SHRIMP (spot prawns and northern shrimp)
*SPINY LOBSTER (Caribbean, United States, and Australia)

Monday, May 29, 2006

World Burning: Get Smart Here

Real Climate is the place to go for climate change science news, according to NYT Paul Krugman

Krugman writes about the Corporate Right (Exxon Mobil, Shell & Oilogopoly swift boating a respected scientist who had his fact right about our ecological emergency way back in the 1980's. You just have to wonder-- don't these people have children, grandchildren? There is no future in status quo. We may not be able to effect a change in the climate, but being Americans, being optimistic by nature, we ought to try. Read on.

Op-Ed Columnist
Swift Boating the Planet


Published: May 29, 2006
A brief segment in "An Inconvenient Truth" shows Senator Al Gore questioning James Hansen, a climatologist at NASA, during a 1989 hearing. But the movie doesn't give you much context, or tell you what happened to Dr. Hansen later.

And that's a story worth telling, for two reasons. It's a good illustration of the way interest groups can create the appearance of doubt even when the facts are clear and cloud the reputations of people who should be regarded as heroes. And it's a warning for Mr. Gore and others who hope to turn global warming into a real political issue: you're going to have to get tougher, because the other side doesn't play by any known rules.

Dr. Hansen was one of the first climate scientists to say publicly that global warming was under way. In 1988, he made headlines with Senate testimony in which he declared that "the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now." When he testified again the following year, officials in the first Bush administration altered his prepared statement to downplay the threat. Mr. Gore's movie shows the moment when the administration's tampering was revealed.

In 1988, Dr. Hansen was well out in front of his scientific colleagues, but over the years that followed he was vindicated by a growing body of evidence. By rights, Dr. Hansen should have been universally acclaimed for both his prescience and his courage.

But soon after Dr. Hansen's 1988 testimony, energy companies began a campaign to create doubt about global warming, in spite of the increasingly overwhelming evidence. And in the late 1990's, climate skeptics began a smear campaign against Dr. Hansen himself.

Leading the charge was Patrick Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia who has received substantial financial support from the energy industry. In Senate testimony, and then in numerous presentations, Dr. Michaels claimed that the actual pace of global warming was falling far short of Dr. Hansen's predictions. As evidence, he presented a chart supposedly taken from a 1988 paper written by Dr. Hansen and others, which showed a curve of rising temperatures considerably steeper than the trend that has actually taken place.

In fact, the chart Dr. Michaels showed was a fraud — that is, it wasn't what Dr. Hansen actually predicted. The original paper showed a range of possibilities, and the actual rise in temperature has fallen squarely in the middle of that range. So how did Dr. Michaels make it seem as if Dr. Hansen's prediction was wildly off? Why, he erased all the lower curves, leaving only the curve that the original paper described as being "on the high side of reality."

The experts at, the go-to site for climate science, suggest that the smears against Dr. Hansen "might be viewed by some as a positive sign, indicative of just how intellectually bankrupt the contrarian movement has become." But I think they're misreading the situation. In fact, the smears have been around for a long time, and Dr. Hansen has been trying to correct the record for years. Yet the claim that Dr. Hansen vastly overpredicted global warming has remained in circulation, and has become a staple of climate change skeptics, from Michael Crichton to Robert Novak.

There's a concise way to describe what happened to Dr. Hansen: he was Swift-boated.

John Kerry, a genuine war hero, didn't realize that he could successfully be portrayed as a coward. And it seems to me that Dr. Hansen, whose predictions about global warming have proved remarkably accurate, didn't believe that he could successfully be portrayed as an unreliable exaggerator. His first response to Dr. Michaels, in January 1999, was astonishingly diffident. He pointed out that Dr. Michaels misrepresented his work, but rather than denouncing the fraud involved, he offered a rather plaintive appeal for better behavior.

Even now, Dr. Hansen seems reluctant to say the obvious. "Is this treading close to scientific fraud?" he recently asked about Dr. Michaels's smear. The answer is no: it isn't "treading close," it's fraud pure and simple.

Now, Dr. Hansen isn't running for office. But Mr. Gore might be, and even if he isn't, he hopes to promote global warming as a political issue. And if he wants to do that, he and those on his side will have to learn to call liars what they are.

Next Article in Opinion (5 of 8) »

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Stanley Kunitz poem: The Snakes of September


All summer I heard them
rustling in the shrubbery,
outracing me from tier
to tier in my garden,
a whisper among the viburnums,
a signal flashed from the hedgerow,
a shadow pulsing
in the barberry thicket.
Now that the nights are chill
and the annuals spent,
I should have thought them gone,
in a torpor of blood
slipped to the nether world
before the sickle frost.
Not so. In the deceptive balm
of noon, as if defiant of the curse
that spoiled another garden,
these two appear on show
through a narrow slit
in the dense green brocade
of a north-country spruce,
dangling head-down, entwined
in a brazen love-knot.
I put out my hand and stroke
the fine, dry grit of their skins.
After all,
we are partners in this land,
co-signers of a covenant.
At my touch the wild
braid of creation

Friday, May 19, 2006

What would you trade for freedom?

"Once you start to see through the myth of status, possessions, and unlimited consumption as a path to happiness, you'll find that you have all kinds of freedom and time. It's like a deal you can make with the universe: I'll give up greed for freedom. Then you can start putting your time to good use."
David Edwards
"Nothing To Lose But Our Illusions"
from The Sun Magazine

New Toucan & Orchid Watercolor by Carol Woodin

Carol Woodin's one of the best orchid watercolor artists in the world. Original commissions are two year waits she is in such demand. Here she has extended her award winning artistic talents to a beautiful scene: Toucan and orchid -- painted from recent journey to Ecuador.

I see toucans, I think rainforests of South America. (Actually I see a cereal box, then the rainforest shows up after I consider how awfully sugary it tasted.)

And the rainforests need our help now more than ever. So a portion of sale of each print we make will go to groups working to protect and celebrate rainforests of Central and South America that the toucan calls home.

Toucan & orchid: $3950 per limited edition print signed and numbered edition of 25. Get it for your grandchildren's collection. It is a keeper.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Good News! Green Taxes on Autos and Half Empty Planes

Fantasy island story. Some day this will be a story in an American paper, but right now the only people concerned about global burning and doing something significant about it are British politicians. By significant, I mean taxing people who drive luxury cars that suck a lot of fuel.

We ought to raise most of our revenues with green taxes on transport and energy to force conservation, and stop taxing labor and income. Where is a progressive Democratic party in US to say Yo! se puede!

Meanwhile, in land far away, on an island that has seen what melting icecaps and vanishing Greenland ice shelf will do to the London landscape, we have people who are already doing better.

BBC has the story

Chart Source Wikipedia Global Warming

Telephone companies screwing your internet service this week in Congress

Big Tel -- publicly subsidized and regulated fat monopolists who faint at real competitiveness, are working your Congressional delegation overtime this week to pass leglislation that prevents competition, raises the cost of internet services, and creates a class system to slow down small business' internet connection online.

Read Mayor Martin Chavez's perspective, (Albuquerque, N.M) here on CNET

Then get a hold of your Congresswomen and men and tell them we the people paid for the internet, we want public high quality information systems that are low cost.

Our internet is an information utility funded from the get go with public money to the Defense Dept.

Now that we use it so much, the privateer pirates are trying to get their hands on a business that isn't theirs to begin with! We built it, we paid for research to make it better, and we already own it. We don't need to screw it up by giving telephone and cable companies more control over the net.

A side note: It always bugs me when I see maps of how much each country pays for internet connection -- and we Americans pay the most-- I believe because we don't flex our democratic political muscle and insist on a low cost, super fast internet. Korea has 20 x the throughput on their net, and it costs the average subscriber $20 a month.

Comcast's usurious tax on my service at home alone is $56 a month. Pirates! Customers wonder what costs so much in small businesses -- I can tell you one element of costs every month is the overly inflated expense of telephone and internet. Hidden tax -- fealty to the corporate kings that pay off Congress to prevent competition.



Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Be Cool -- I am on Lactic Acid, man

Lactic Acid is bad no more-- it is fuel! Now go outside and run, swim, bike-- stay strong.

I work out every day for an hour. I have dropped weight, gotten fit, love swimming on my masters team, try to eat 6-10 balanced little meals a day. And up until this week I held these truths to be self evident: lactic acid was something to avoid-- like butter-- only my body made it and it didn't taste as good. It was something vaguely sinister -- not permanently harmful, but created a good excuse not to take it to the limit in a work out. You never wanted too much lactic acid built up in your bulging biceps, hamstrings, and other "Ahnold" or "Michael" reveries.

Turns out it was all SCIENCE FICTION. You can thank Dr. George Brooks for turning up the truth.

And here is the story to shine the light on how lactic acid got its bad rap-- even better story about the researcher who persisted in challenging the theory that said lactic acid was bad -- in spite of funding difficulties, ridicule, and lack of support.
(Photo of Gold Medal Shark Michael Phelps Swimming World Magazine)
From the New York Times Science Section 5/16/2006

Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles' Foe, It's Fuel

Published: May 16, 2006

Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out.

Coaches and personal trainers tell athletes and exercisers that they have to learn to work out at just below their "lactic threshold," that point of diminishing returns when lactic acid starts to accumulate. Some athletes even have blood tests to find their personal lactic thresholds.

But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid.

The notion that lactic acid was bad took hold more than a century ago, said George A. Brooks, a professor in the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. It stuck because it seemed to make so much sense.

"It's one of the classic mistakes in the history of science," Dr. Brooks said.

Its origins lie in a study by a Nobel laureate, Otto Meyerhof, who in the early years of the 20th century cut a frog in half and put its bottom half in a jar. The frog's muscles had no circulation — no source of oxygen or energy.

Dr. Myerhoff gave the frog's leg electric shocks to make the muscles contract, but after a few twitches, the muscles stopped moving. Then, when Dr. Myerhoff examined the muscles, he discovered that they were bathed in lactic acid.

A theory was born. Lack of oxygen to muscles leads to lactic acid, leads to fatigue.

Athletes were told that they should spend most of their effort exercising aerobically, using glucose as a fuel. If they tried to spend too much time exercising harder, in the anaerobic zone, they were told, they would pay a price, that lactic acid would accumulate in the muscles, forcing them to stop.

Few scientists questioned this view, Dr. Brooks said. But, he said, he became interested in it in the 1960's, when he was running track at Queens College and his coach told him that his performance was limited by a buildup of lactic acid.

When he graduated and began working on a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, he decided to study the lactic acid hypothesis for his dissertation.

"I gave rats radioactive lactic acid, and I found that they burned it faster than anything else I could give them," Dr. Brooks said.

It looked as if lactic acid was there for a reason. It was a source of energy.

Dr. Brooks said he published the finding in the late 70's. Other researchers challenged him at meetings and in print.

"I had huge fights, I had terrible trouble getting my grants funded, I had my papers rejected," Dr. Brooks recalled. But he soldiered on, conducting more elaborate studies with rats and, years later, moving on to humans. Every time, with every study, his results were consistent with his radical idea.

Eventually, other researchers confirmed the work. And gradually, the thinking among exercise physiologists began to change.

"The evidence has continued to mount," said L. Bruce Gladden, a professor of health and human performance at Auburn University. "It became clear that it is not so simple as to say, Lactic acid is a bad thing and it causes fatigue."

As for the idea that lactic acid causes muscle soreness, Dr. Gladden said, that never made sense.

"Lactic acid will be gone from your muscles within an hour of exercise," he said. "You get sore one to three days later. The time frame is not consistent, and the mechanisms have not been found."

The understanding now is that muscle cells convert glucose or glycogen to lactic acid. The lactic acid is taken up and used as a fuel by mitochondria, the energy factories in muscle cells.

Mitochondria even have a special transporter protein to move the substance into them, Dr. Brooks found. Intense training makes a difference, he said, because it can make double the mitochondrial mass.

It is clear that the old lactic acid theory cannot explain what is happening to muscles, Dr. Brooks and others said.

Yet, Dr. Brooks said, even though coaches often believed in the myth of the lactic acid threshold, they ended up training athletes in the best way possible to increase their mitochondria. "Coaches have understood things the scientists didn't," he said.

Through trial and error, coaches learned that athletic performance improved when athletes worked on endurance, running longer and longer distances, for example.

That, it turns out, increased the mass of their muscle mitochondria, letting them burn more lactic acid and allowing the muscles to work harder and longer.

Just before a race, coaches often tell athletes to train very hard in brief spurts.

That extra stress increases the mitochondria mass even more, Dr. Brooks said, and is the reason for improved performance.

And the scientists?

They took much longer to figure it out.

"They said, 'You're anaerobic, you need more oxygen,' " Dr. Brooks said. "The scientists were stuck in 1920."

See more on lactic acid @ Wikipedia

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Michael Pollan writes about Wal Mart & Organics

Organic Food at
Wal-Mart...why don't these words go together?

Michael Pollan

NYT's blog entry -- summarizing the essential craziness of Wal Mart going organic.

What is next? The pillars of big box cheap labor extolling the virtues of slow food cooked by SEIU chefs?

How about something even more subversive like slow shopping?

Or if we dare to bring up the truly heretical, NO SHOPPING! Oh -- the day Wal Mart has a no shopping day, you know golden calves (Visa/Master Card, AMEX ) of our state religion has been undone.

Why is a small businessman saying this? Well-- I tell you friend -- small business is always going to be here. This state religion-- going to the mall temple and walking down aisles fosters loneliness and lack of vision. You don't need to buy someone else's brand. You need to be yourself and stop seeking approval through purchase of stuff.

It wasn't that long ago that there was no shopping on Sundays. My Grandpa & Grandma were always happy with Sundays to be spent at church and with family.

People recognized the importance of a day in the community. And we know in our hearts that you can't buy happiness. I sit quietly in the morning before exercise, and find happiness in meditating, in welcoming dawn.

This is an experience -- like connecting with nature, a good friend, or a great book-- you cannot buy what matters most.

Here is some more food for thought: I leave you with this story in the upcoming Orion Magazine
on food being grown in North Dakota, and how small farmers are winning against big corporations.

best fishes,


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

This I Believe: Small Businesses Will Lead Revolt Over Corporate Oiligopoly

The Price of Oil

What a week it has been for the giant oil companies! Billions in record quarterly profits rushing into their coffers. An even bigger round of quarterly profits coming up. Gargantuan executive pay bonanzas. And a pile of “forces beyond our control” excuses to publicize in response to the empty outrage of Washington politicians and the real squeeze on consumers and small businesses.

Oil man Bush, atop his administration marinated with ex-oil executives in high positions, keeps saying there is little he can do. It is the market of supply and demand. Only fuel cells and hydrogen sometime down the 21st-century road can save the country from dependency on foreign oil, he says repeatedly. Plus more drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

The public heat about energy prices prodded Mr. Bush this week, however, to at least make a little change in rhetoric. He repeated his warning that his government will not tolerate any gouging. Yet the supine reporters did not ask him whether he has ever caught a gouger. But he did mumble something about higher fuel economy standards so that your car guzzles a little less gasoline. He said he will be meeting with the domestic auto company executives in the White House in mid-May. He praised ethanol again. He visited a gas station in Mississippi to feel the pain of the motorists.

Will Hollywood every leave Washington, DC?

On Capitol Hill – aka withering heights – the Republicans are starting to talk tough, mumbling about larger taxes on oil industry profits – an idea Bush said he would veto last year. The Democrats cannot even agree on an excess profits tax, preferring the greasy band-aid of lifting the 18.4 cent gasoline tax for sixty days. This new detour is pathetic since it takes the heat off the industry’s skyrocketing gasoline price which are well into the $3 to $4/gallon range in many places.

A few, very few members of Congress, like Senator Byron Dorgan (D – North Dakota) know what has to be done to this industry and its long-time grip over the federal government. First, the gouging profits must be recaptured and returned now to the consumer. The government must also invest in advanced public transit systems.

Big oil has been on a marriage binge and the mergers, including the wedding of Exxon (number one) and Mobil (number two), have tightened further the corporate cartel of oil as it feeds off the government producers’ cartel of oil abroad. Antitrust break up action is necessary.

The claim by the oil barons that they’re just responding to the marketplace of supply and demand is laughable. Why are they making double and triple profits? Why are their top executives tripling their own pay? Hard-pressed sellers of oil would not have such a luxurious profit and pay spiral. Hard-pressed sellers of oil would not have paid $144,000 every day to Exxon CEO, Lee Raymond since 1993 and then send him off with a $398 million retirement deal.

A competitive domestic oil industry would not be so able to close down scores of refineries and then turn “refinery shortages” into higher gas prices at the pump. Nor would competitive companies get away with a return on capital of 46 percent for upstream drilling and production operations, plus a 32 percent for refining and marketing. Washington Post business reporter, Steven Pearlstein, call these returns “hedge fund returns.” Except with hedge funds there is a risk of losing from time to time. Not so with the corporate government of Big Oil.

A President, preoccupied with his criminal, fabricated war in Iraq, would not leave Americans defenseless as oil prices eat into their family budgets. A standup President would order an all-fronts investigation of the oil industry’s pricing practices from the oil well to the gasoline station.

There would be full use of subpoenas and public testimony from the oil bosses under oath by his regulatory agencies. He would organize with his Republican majority in Congress a repeal of past and recent unconscionable tax breaks and stop giving away your oil on federal property in the Gulf of Mexico to the oil companies without any royalties. He would press for an excess-profits tax and legislation raising by statute the fuel efficiency performance for new motor vehicles, including SUVs, Minivans and light trucks.

A standup President would raise margin requirements to tone down the speculation in oil futures that are swelling the New York Mercantile Exchange and contributing to higher gasoline and heating oil prices. He would support tariffs on imported refinery products to push the companies to expand and build new cleaner refineries in the U.S. Where? In some of the exact locations where the oil industry shut down these refineries over the past thirty years to contract overall output and move operations to cheap labor locations abroad.

A standup President would give an address to the nation that mobilizes small and larger businesses which use oil to join with consumers in a common cause against the looming inflationary jolts that will raise prices for many regular products and lead to higher interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

Bush can never proactively do this for the American people who already by more than a 2 to 1 margin believe he cares more about the interests of Big Business than the interests of regular people.

But, mobilized small business can get him to relent and let some of these changes happen.

The small business revolt can start with several hundred economically squeezed truckers bringing their 18 wheelers to Washington in a protest that encircles in a wide arc the Congress and the White House and the federal buildings in between. Now that would be more than a message. It would be an irresistible visual image for the television cameras day after day.

Thanks Ralph! Write your congressional delegation and cc this essay.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Raising Mt St Helens

Fellow Traveler,

Amazing grace! Well-- amazing! Mt St. Helens is growing. This link gets you some time lapse-- so you can confirm you are living in a fantastic world-- enjoy!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Neil Rocks Against the War -- Free Tunes

Enough talk. Listen to the man here

Neil Young rocks against the war, and gives you the blessings of his musica -- raw, organic, unhomogenized, beautiful.

"Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it." Bertolt Brecht