Monday, April 7, 2014

POEM for Earth Day


On a drive out beyond
the urban sprawl, where Prairie
and barb wire dwell

A thousand pieces
of litter
blowing in the wind

Imagine this is prose
lost by some
poet laureate

haiku on the fence
Love poems tangled
in tumble weeds

Could this be
Billy Collins lost book ?

stop the car and find out

Thursday, April 3, 2014

back to the land on top of Hong Kong sky scrapers

  Sad And Hopeful story about the future of Mega Cities

Under eerie blue lights designed to simulate the ocean depths, hundreds of fish swim serenely through the bubbling waters of their circular tanks, 15 floors up in the sky.
There are 11 plastic tanks in total, holding a combined 80,000 litres of salt water.
They are full of grouper, a white-fleshed fish, which are all destined to end up on the plates of restaurant-goers across Hong Kong.
This is the scene at Oceanethix, one of the numerous so-called "vertical fish farms" in the special administrative region, which have become a key fixture of its supply chain.
If you like, this is rooftop farming on steroids”
End Quote Lloyd Moskalik Oceanethix
For while most fish farms around the world are at sea, or at least, land level, in Hong Kong it is more often a necessity to put them many floors up in tall buildings.
This is because as one of the most densely populated places in the world, there is simply very little spare space. So fish farms have to fit in where they can.
For the small firms that dominate the industry, it is worth the effort, as Hong Kong has an insatiable appetite for fish and seafood. It consumes more than 70kg (11 stone) per capita every year, 10 times more than in the US.
"We're way above the hustle and bustle," jokes Lloyd Moskalik, managing director of Oceanethix, which is based in Hong Kong's New Territories. "If you like, this is rooftop farming on steroids."
A school of groupers People in Hong Kong are big fish eaters
His business, which employs six people in Hong Kong, buys in the groupers as baby fish, or fingerlings. They then take between 10 and 13 months to get up to market weight.

If you come here on a Saturday it's an absolute theme park - there are people running everywhere”

End Quote Osbert Lam Owner, City Farm
Oceanethix sells about two tonnes of groupers to fish wholesalers each week, and Mr Moskalik says he can get as much as 776 Hong Kong dollars ($100; £60) per kilogram.
As demand for farmed fish has soared in the region, wholesale prices have risen at a rate of between 10% and 15% per annum for the past five years.
Oceanethix also sells its water-recycling systems to other companies across Asia setting up similar fish farms in the sky.
"We've been selected by the Korean government as part of an ambitious plan to establish vertical farms in multi-story buildings... in Seoul," says Mr Moskalik.
The Singapore government has also bought a country licence for Oceanethix's water-recycling systems, and the company has its own sister facility in Shanghai.
Farm waiting lists But it is not just fish farms that have been taking to the skies in Hong Kong, as a growing number of organic fruit and vegetable plots are being created on top of skyscrapers and other spare rooftop spaces.
Osbert Lam, founder of City Farm There is a waiting list for space at Osbert Lam's rooftop farms
No doubt in part caused by a string of recent food safety scandals in mainland China, from where Hong Kong sources most of its food, a growing number of Hongkongers are wishing to grow their own produce as naturally as possible.
Helping to meet this demand is Osbert Lam, the owner of Hong Kong City Farms.
From just a hobby 10 years ago, he now runs three farms that convert thousands of square feet of rooftop space into organic plots he rents at about 190 Hong Kong dollars per month.
"We've got a list of about 30 people all waiting to get boxes," he says, from the top of a 14-storey industrial estate building in Quarry Bay, in the heart of one of Hong Kong's business districts.
Michael Leung Michael Leung's honey commands a premium price
"If you come here on a Saturday it's an absolute theme park - there are people running everywhere."
He says the urban farms reveal just how shallow Hong Kong's urban roots are.
"Many of the people that come here are not even two or three generations away from the land," says Mr Lam.
"In many cases, it's just one generation before they were from farming families. A lot of people come here with a lot of knowledge."
Expensive honey The growth of rooftop gardens has also meant more business for Hong Kong's urban beekeepers.
Michael Leung, founder of HK Honey, is always on the look out for new places to put his hives, and to help him locate them, he looks up for papaya trees.
Hong Kong's skyline Green spaces are limited in central parts of Hong Kong
"The papaya tree grows very well in Hong Kong - most people, if they grow anything on the roof, it's a papaya," he says. "The height of the tree allows you from ground level to see that someone is using the rooftop.
"We're always looking for little trees that stick out. They're like a flag, a modern agricultural flag," he says. "Through that, we then try to approach the people growing on the roof."
Mr Leung then arranges to rent space for his hives.
He says that the honey his bees produce has a spicy tang, which reflects the biodiversity of Hong Kong's urban flora, and particularly the Chinese basil many people like to grow.
Such is the quality of Mr Leung's honey that he is able to sell it for a whopping 240 Hong Kong dollars per jar.
Pressure on land For Hong Kong's larger commercial organic farming operations, which buy produce from Hong Kong's dwindling slivers of agricultural land near the border with China, the continuous pressure on agricultural land from developers could mean that rooftop farms will one day be all that's left to the special administration region, which even now produces 2% of the food it consumes.
Cooked whole grouper Hong Kong has a proud restaurant scene
Todd Darling, of Homegrown Foods, an organic grocery delivery business in Hong Kong, said permissive zoning regulations make it more cost effective for owners of agricultural land to store shipping containers on the space than to farm it.
In the meantime, however, the food scandals that creep across the border from mainland China have, perversely, been good for his organic business.
"I would never like to say that, but it does tend to encourage people to consider alternatives," he says.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The reality and the virtuality

Que Sera, Sera

Gigabytes and Zillionaires,
twitter wars ,scandals ,tear gas and barricades
this is the world.

Push the button on the remote
Bill O'Reilly , Honey Boo Boo, duck dynasty
this is the world we see.

The armies of industry,
the reign of the oligarchs
The Marketing of consumption
this is the world

Push the button on the remote
car chases and Wardrobe malfunctions
Justin Bebier in Cuffs
this is the world we see

Jihadis and Crusaders
waving bibles and Korans
for God and control
this is the world

Que Sera , Sera
what ever Will be, will be
The Future is not ours to see
Que Sera , Sera

Friday, December 13, 2013

Don't Eat The Fish

this from NPR, but if you google Plastic Ocean there is a lot of scary stories out there 


We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.
But mercury is just one of a slew of synthetic and organic pollutants that fish can ingest and absorb into their tissue. Sometimes it's because we're dumping chemicals right into the ocean. But as a study published recently in Nature, Scientific Reports helps illuminate, sometimes fish get chemicals from the plastic debris they ingest.
"The ocean is basically a toilet bowl for all of our chemical pollutants and waste in general," saysChelsea Rochman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, who authored the study. "Eventually, we start to see those contaminants high up in the food chain, in seafood and wildlife."
For many years, scientists have known that chemicals will move up the food chain as predators absorb the chemicals consumed by their prey. That's why the biggest, fattiest fish, like tuna and swordfish, tend to have the highest levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other dioxins. (And that's concerning, given that canned tuna was the second most popular fish consumed in the U.S. in 2012, according to the National Fisheries Institute.)
What scientists didn't know was exactly what role plastics played in transferring these chemicals into the food chain. To find out, Rochman and her co-authors fed medaka, a fish species often used in experiments, three different diets.
One group of medaka got regular fish food, one group got a diet that was 10 percent "clean" plastic (with no pollutants) and a third group got a diet with 10 percent plastic that had been soaking in the San Diego Bay for several months. When they tested the fish two months later, they found that the ones on the marine plastic diet had much higher levels of persistent organic pollutants.
"Plastics — when they end up in the ocean — are a sponge for chemicals already out there," says Rochman. "We found that when the plastic interacts with the juices in the [fish's] stomach, the chemicals come off of plastic and are transferred into the bloodstream or tissue." The fish on the marine plastic diet were also more likely to have tumors and liver problems.
While it's impossible to know whether any given fish you buy at the seafood counter has consumed this much plastic, Rochman's findings do have implications for human health, she notes. "A lot of people are eating seafood all the time, and fish are eating plastic all the time, so I think that's a problem."
And there's a lot of plastic out there in the open ocean. As Edward Humes, author of Garbology,told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2012, the weight of plastic finding its way into the sea each year is estimated to be equivalent to the weight of 40 aircraft carriers.
Consider the five massive gyres of trash particles swirling around in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans alone. Those gyres, Hume told Gross, contain "plastic that has been weathered and broken down by the elements into these little bits, and it's getting into the food chain."
One of those gyres is the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Fish could encounter the plastic in those gyres, but also much closer to shore, says Rochman.
Even so, the consensus in the public health community still seems to be that the benefits of eating fish — because of their omega-3 fatty acids, among other assets — exceed the potential risks. And many researchers advocating for Americans to increase their fish consumption argue that the levels of dioxins, PCBs and other toxic chemicals in fish are generally too low to be of concern.
The Environmental Protection Agency does put out advisories to warn consumers when fish get contaminated with chemicals in local U.S. waters. But a lot of our seafood now comes from foreign waters, which the EPA does not monitor. Just a tiny fraction of imported fish get tested for contaminants.
As for Rochman, she says her research in marine toxicology has persuaded her to eat seafood no more than twice per week. And she now avoids swordfish altogether.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Pope is a Communist

Or says the Tea Party ideologist


Democracy Lab

The Heretical Pope Francis vs. Rush Limbaugh

When a radical pope says it's time we stopped treating capitalism like it's a religion, American conservatives get preachy.

Wow. This pope really is good at getting people riled up. A few days ago, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church issued a 224-page document (an "apostolic exhortation," to be precise) that laid out some of his thoughts on how the church should conduct itself in the modern world. It's a thoroughly religious document. But a few of his observations have touched off gales of indignation.
Most of the aggravation has to do with the pope's criticism of what he calls "the new idolatry of money." In his text he assails the problem of inequality, asks that we pay greater attention to the needs of the poor, and attacks the idea that the urge to accumulate wealth is an end unto itself. Sure, the bible has a lot of harsh things to say about the wanton rich: "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotten and your garments have become moth-eaten.... You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." And so on.
But Francis is going straight after Milton Friedman: Few of his remarks have attracted greater attention, for example, than the one where he criticized the notion that "trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world."
Nowhere in the document does he mention specific policies to counter these problems. He doesn't call for increased taxation of the rich. (The word "tax" occurs only once in the document, in a passage that criticizes tax evasion and corruption.) He doesn't sing the praises of collectivism. He doesn't attack the principle of private property, nor does he advocate public ownership of the means of production.
It's worth noting that this pope has a long track record of opposing liberation theologists in his homeland of Argentina. Still, I guess it's theoretically possible that the pope really is a closet Maoist. After all, he does say (in one of my favorite passages): "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and clinging to its own security."
That's pretty subversive stuff. But the point here is that he doesn't actually offer up specific policy proposals to cure the problems he's describing. That's because he's analyzing a spiritual crisis. He's not outlining programs. He's describing a malaise that he sees in the world and challenging us to fix it.
But who cares? Why would anyone actually trouble to read what the guy is saying? It turns out that it's much more satisfying to scold the pope for wading into such controversial waters. It turns out there are plenty of red-blooded (mostly American) men out there who are keen to defend capitalism's honor against even the slightest of slights.
Take, for example, Louis Woodhill, a commentator for Forbes magazine. Woodhill works himself into a tremendous lather over the pope's musings. Francis, he writes, "has lent the prestige of the Catholic Church to leftist/socialist whining about the 'new tyranny' of 'inequality,' 'exclusion,' and 'marginalization.'" Woodhill is appalled. How dare the pope claim that such things exist! If there are poor people in the world, it's their own damned fault.
Or perhaps the Vatican itself is to blame. After all, Woodhill explains, the world suffered from low economic growth during the 1,500 years or so when the church played a major political role in the life of Europe. Luckily, though, the Reformation came along, and self-starting Protestant culture liberated us from the scourge of Jesuitical socialism. Given this record of poor economic management by the church, Woodhill contends, the pope should hold his tongue.
The conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, America's premier political entertainer, was keen to pile on (though not quite so ingenious in his arguments). He was especially upset by this part of the pope's critique: "The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us."
This sounds pretty keenly observed to me. But Limbaugh just couldn't bear it: "That's going way beyond matters that are ethical," he spluttered. "This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets. He says that the global economy needs government control."
- See more at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/06/the_heretical_pope_francis_rush_limbaugh#sthash.d1o2Yo3k.mbcsnZum.dpuf