The Curious Autodidact

September 28, 2009

Things are Looking Up

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related — Honilima @ 1:17 am

high wire acts

high wire acts


Today I was talking near a neighbor’s house when I found on the largest paper wasp nest I have ever seen situated on an electrical transformer. I stopped to ask her if she’d seen it and she admitted she had not. Then she asked me how in the world I’d manage to spot it. I thought about this Boing Boing article about pole watching I’d recently read called A Beginner’s Guide to Pole Watching that gave me a whole new appreciation of these previously maligned view pollution.

September 25, 2009

If the World Were a Village

Filed under: cool internet stuff,environmental ideas,social justice — Honilima @ 3:40 am
a different view

a different view

I have always found this a mind-bender to think of the world as a village, this one is presented by Dr. Donella Meadows was a distinguished professor at Dartmouth (with the Environmental Studies Program). She was an author and highly respected economist for the Sustainability Institute (she died at the age of 59 in 2001)

If the world were a village of 1,000 people, it would include:

� 584 Asians
� 124 Africans
� 95 East and West Europeans
� 84 Latin Americans
� 55 Soviets (including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and other national groups)
� 52 North Americans
� 6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village have considerable difficulty in communicating:

� 165 people speak Mandarin
� 86 English
� 83 Hindi/Urdu
� 64 Spanish
� 58 Russian
� 37 Arabic
That list accounts for the mother tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French and 200 other languages.

In this village of 1,000 there are:

� 329 Christians (among them 187 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 31 Orthodox)
� 178 Moslems
� 167 “non-religious”
� l32 Hindus
� 60 Buddhists
� 45 atheists
� 3 Jews
� 86 all other religions

* One-third (330) of the 1,000 people in the world village are children and only 60 are over the age of 65. Half the children are immunized against preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.
* Just under half of the married women in the village have access to and use modern contraceptives.
* This year 28 babies will be born. Ten people will die, 3 of them for lack of food, 1 from cancer, 2 of the deaths are of babies born within the year. One person of the 1,000 is infected with the HIV virus; that person most likely has not yet developed a full-blown case of AIDS.
* With the 28 births and 10 deaths, the population of the village next year will be 1,018.
* In this 1,000-person community, 200 people receive 75 percent of the income; another 200 receive only 2 percent of the income.
* Only 70 people of the 1,000 own an automobile (although some of the 70 own more than one automobile).
* About one-third have access to clean, safe drinking water.
* Of the 670 adults in the village, half are illiterate.

The village has six acres of land per person, 6,000 acres in all, of which

� 700 acres are cropland
� 1,400 acres pasture
� 1,900 acres woodland
� 2,000 acres desert, tundra, pavement and other wasteland
� The woodland is declining rapidly; the wasteland is increasing. The other land categories are roughly stable.

The village allocates 83 percent of its fertilizer to 40 percent of its cropland – that owned by the richest and best-fed 270 people. Excess fertilizer running off this land causes pollution in lakes and wells. The remaining 60 percent of the land, with its 17 percent of the fertilizer, produces 28 percent of the food grains and feeds 73 percent of the people. The average grain yield on that land is one-third the harvest achieved by the richer villagers.

In the village of 1,000 people, there are:

� 5 soldiers
� 7 teachers
� 1 doctor
� 3 refugees driven from home by war or drought

The village has a total budget each year, public and private, of over $3 million – $3,000 per person if it is distributed evenly (which, we have already seen, it isn’t).

Of the total $3 million:

� $181,000 goes to weapons and warfare
� $159,000 for education
� $l32,000 for health care

The village has buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons are under the control of just 100 of the people. The other 900 people are watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether they can learn to get along together; and if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention or technical bungling; and, if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the world village they would dispose of the radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.

September 19, 2009

Food Choices: A Diet Post

For those of you who made it to see Food Incorporated this post may not have added appeal. I call Food Inc. the perfect “diet” movie, if you are trying the change your eating habits to a little lighter it’s the perfect flick to view. If you are interested in eating more locally take a look at Local Harvest’s site that details where you can buy food closer to home including a tab that details Community Supported Agriculture.

This posting that shows the difference between fast food advertising and the actual product is quite something to see also. Keeping some healthy snacks in the car, such as dried fruit and nuts at hand, will allow you to think twice before making one of these high calorie stops, the actual calorie counts can be looked up here or this list of the highest calorie foods on the run.

September 17, 2009

Maira Kalman: an Artist of Brilliance

Filed under: media related — Honilima @ 9:33 pm

Color your World

Color your World


Artist Maira Kalman has a grand monthly series in the New York Times, this newest entry entry will introduce you to her artwork. Check out her a previous entry about the Supreme Court. She has published more than a dozen colorful books to share her art with the world.

Ms Kalman adds great fun to a dreary day.

September 10, 2009

Not Forgetten

Filed under: end of life,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 9:02 pm
The entry gate to Auschwitz concentration camp, taken in July 2006

The entry gate to Auschwitz concentration camp, taken in July 2006

Reading about a visit to the concentrations camps may not be everyone’s idea of good summer reading but this essay, My Visit to Hell,
by Christopher Buckley, previously unpublished is a vivid reminder of our not so distant past.

If you want to read a recent book about a survivor that was published years ago in Europe but only recently here, try Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal or Rena’s Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Rena Kornreich Gelissen both candid well told stories of wartime experiences in the camps and beyond.

September 3, 2009

Cleaning with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Filed under: environmental ideas,helpful hints,money saving ideas — Honilima @ 6:32 am

Old Fashioned Clean Machine

Old Fashioned Clean Machine


A house cleaner’s best friend may be these two common items from your pantry baking soda and vinegar. Debbie Arrington’s article from the Sacramento Bee about housekeeping with economical ingredients is worth a read.

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