Tropical Fruit Growers Meeting

SOURCE: Ken Taylor (
SUBHEAD: Fruit growers and bee keepers will get together at Kauai Nursery on Thursday 8/11 from 5-7pm.  

By John Anderson on 8 August 2011 for HTFG -  

Image above: Tropical fruit from a Hawaiian farmer's market. From (  

Hawaiian Tropical Fruit Growers meeting with Kauai Beekeeper Association  

Thursday 11th August 2011 from 5pm - 7pm  

Kauai Nursery and Landscaping

We will be meeting at Kauai Nursery and Landscaping Thursday (2nd Thursday, every other month) 5-7pm.

We will be sharing fruit,seeds, and trees. We will also have a raffle of a tissue cultured banana thanks to the nursery, t-shirts(20$), and copies of Craig Elevitches latest pacific isles crops textbook (500+pages-wow)(50$)

Then we will have as a special guest presenter Jimmy Trujillo of the Kauai Bee Association discuss bees and latest implications for farming. We will be seeking donations for the conference silent auction.

Also, the Hawaiian Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) has money to buy interesting fruit (including shipping to big island) for our annual conference thisSeptember 9-11th in Kona... so, we will be discussing coordinating that and other stuff.

Also, following the conference, Ken Love , our Executive Director, will be coming to Kauai (sept 13) with some of the speakers at the conference so we will have some sort of meeting with them.

As usual we will have cold water, and I will bring some smoothies as well. Kauai Nursery and Landscaping is on the highway just south of the college in Puhi, makai side, which is just south of Lihue. If you have any questions, I welcome your call at 635-2880. I also want to thank Ken Taylor for helping bring together the fruitgrowers and beekeepers.

Contact HTFG:
John Anderson - Kauai


Molten salt vs light water reactors

SUBHEAD: The road to Fukushima - The nuclear industry locked into light water reactors in order to make nuclear weapons.

 By Kurt Cobb 11 April 2011 for -  

Image above:This produced model by Blickensderfer was the first truly portable typewriter. It came with a 3-row keyboard having the "Scientific" key configuration. From (

  Imagine a nuclear reactor that runs on fuel that could power civilization for millennia; cannot melt down; resists weapons proliferation; can be built on a relatively small parcel of land; and produces little hazardous waste. It sounds like a good idea, and it was a well-tested reality in 1970 when it was abandoned for the current crop of reactors that subject society to the kinds of catastrophes now on display in Japan. This rather remarkable design is called the molten salt reactor (MSR), and it lost out for two reasons: 

1) It wasn't compatible with the U.S. government's desire to have a civilian nuclear program that would have dual use, that is, that could supply the military with nuclear bomb-making materials. 

2) Uranium-fueled light water reactors, which are in wide use today, already had a large, expensive infrastructure supporting them back in 1970. To build MSRs would have required the entire industry to retool or at least create another expensive parallel infrastructure. And, that's how MSRs became the victim of lock-in. One familiar example will show how lock-in works. 

Anyone who types on a standard English keyboard may already know that the arrangement of the letters was designed to slow down typists so that the typebars--the things which strike the paper in a typewriter to make the letters--would not get jammed together. Other keyboards have since been designed to allow much faster, less error-prone typing, but few people have adopted them--even with the advent of computers which, of course, have no typebars to worry about. 

Decisions made early on in the history of keyboard technology locked in a path for nearly all subsequent adopters. Everyone learned to use the so-called QWERTY keyboard, and so manufacturers only made this configuration, which then obliged all those new to typing to learn it, and so on. So strong was the lock-in for QWERTY that it's been that way since the 1870s regardless of changes in typing technology. 

Lock-in has worked in much the same way for the nuclear industry. The decision within U.S. government circles to focus on light water reactors and abandon MSRs relegated the latter to a footnote in the history of civilian nuclear power. And, because the United States was the leader in civilian nuclear technology at the time, every nation followed us. So, should the world look again at this "old" technology as a way forward for nuclear power after Fukushima? 

 My sympathies are with the MSR advocates. If the world had adopted MSR technology early on, there would have been no partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, no explosion at Chernobyl, and no meltdown and subsequent dispersion of radioactive byproducts into the air and water at Fukushima. It's true that MSR technology is not foolproof. But its very design prevents known catastrophic problems from developing. 

The nuclear fuel is dissolved in molten salt which, counterintuitively, is the coolant. If the reactor overheats, a plug at the base melts away draining the molten salt into holding tanks that allow it to cool down. Only gravity is required, so power outages don't matter. As for leaks, a coolant leak (that is a water leak) in a light water reactor, can quickly become dangerous. If there is a leak from an MSR, the fuel, which is dissolved in the molten salt, leaks out with it, thereby withdrawing the source of the heat. 

You end up with a radioactive mess inside the containment building, but that's about it. If the world had adopted MSRs at the beginning of the development of civilian nuclear power, electricity production might now be dominated by them. And, we might be busily constructing wind generators and solar panels to replace the remaining coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. Would there have been accidents at MSRs? Certainly. Would these accidents have been large enough and scary enough to end new orders for nuclear power plants as happened after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States? I doubt it. Having said all this, I believe that MSR technology will never be widely adopted. 

The same problem that derailed it early in the history of civilian nuclear power is still with us. We still have lock-in for light water reactors. Yes, the new designs are admittedly quite a bit safer. But these designs still don't solve as many problems as MSRs do, and they continue to rely on uranium for their fuel. MSRs have shown themselves capable of running on thorium, a metal that is three times more abundant than uranium, and 400 times more abundant than the only isotope of uranium that can be used for fuel, U-235. This is the basis for the claim that MSRs fueled with thorium could power civilization for millennia. Attempts have been made to run current uranium-fueled reactors using thorium. But all the dangers remain because the reactors are still subject to catastrophic meltdowns.

 Only in the MSR, where the fuel is dissolved in molten salt, is this danger avoided altogether. The Chinese have announced that they are interested in pursuing MSRs and the use of thorium to fuel them. Perhaps in China--where the nuclear industry is synonymous with the government and therefore does what the government tells it to--MSRs might actually be deployed. I have my doubts.

 Even China suffers from the lock-in problem. Back in the United States it is easier to predict that we'll see little progress. In the U.S. it is the industry that tells the government what new nuclear technologies will be developed rather than the other way around. And, the American nuclear industry is committed to light water reactors. I believe that even if the Fukushima accident had not occurred, nuclear power generation would probably have done no more than maintain its share of the total energy pie in the coming decades. 

Now, I am convinced that that share will shrink as people in democratic societies reject new nuclear plants. This could, in turn, free up funds to pursue energy sources that could serve us well and permanently. The cheapest is conservation. We desperately need to reduce our energy use significantly so that we can come into balance with the amount of power that renewable energy can realistically provide us. 

And, we need to build that renewable energy infrastructure, primarily wind and solar, while solving the problem of electricity storage that currently plagues it. The nuclear future we were promised in the 1950s and 1960s never arrived. Fukushima tells us that it probably never will. We need to get on with the business of constructing an energy infrastructure that provides all of us a decent, healthy and dignified life while accepting the limits suggested by wisdom and ultimately imposed upon us by nature.

Talk Story Revives Hanapepe

SUBHEAD: Hanapepe is definitely on the map with its active salt ponds, lively Friday-night cultural scene and now Kauai’s only bookstore. By Jon Letman on 9 August 2011 for Hawaii Business - ( Image above: Facade of Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii. Photo by Jon Letman.

Hanapepe was one of Kauai’s most vibrant communities until hard times fell. Competition from a new shopping center in Lihue and hurricanes in 1982 and 1992 closed businesses and wounded Kauai’s “biggest little town.”

But Hanapepe is definitely on the map with its active salt ponds, lively Friday-night cultural scene and now Kauai’s only bookstore. Since opening Talk Story Bookstore in 2004, owners Ed and Cynthia Justus have proven themselves savvy entrepreneurs and have garnered a string of awards, including a Better Business Bureau Torch Award this year.

The couple – die-hard Hanapepe supporters – have now launched a project that, even in a healthier economy, would be daunting.

Image above: The long abandoned Aloha Theater that is next door to the Talk Story Bookstore. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Adjacent to the bookstore stands the old Aloha Theatre, a 1930s, pink, tumbledown cinema with an art-deco facade that hints at the building’s erstwhile charms. The Justuses plan to renovate the main building and two smaller structures, salvaging roughly half the original materials, rejuvenating the vintage facade and transforming the interior under the name Aloha Theatre Marketplace.

They formed a nonprofit (Hanapepe Aloha Theatre & Cultural Renaissance Center) and are working with community volunteers and a general contractor through the permitting process.

With two levels and 6,500 square feet of usable space, they envision one dine-in and two takeout restaurants, six shops, restrooms and a 30- to 40-seat mini-theater/event space. When complete, the Justuses say, the project will allow existing businesses to expand and will invigorate commercial activity, while increasing property values and helping preserve a historical look consistent with the town’s character.

Ed Justus likens it to a “heart transplant for Hanapepe” that he hopes will bring new life.

Talk Story Bookstore 3785 Hanapepe Road PO Box 770 (mailing address) Hanapepe HI 96716 Phone: 808-335-6469 Email: Website: Monday - Thurs 10am to 5pm Friday - 10am to 9:30pm Saturday & Sunday - Closed See also: Civil Beat: .

Owl Lands in Slo-Mo

SUBHEAD: Slow-motion hi-definition video of owl flying to camera and landing. Amazing coordinated sureness.  

By Staff on 8 August 2011 in Huffington Post -  

Image above: Still image of an Earasian Eagle Owl landing. From video below.
We know that vibrations, huge bursting water balloons and sonic booms look pretty cool when viewed in slow-motion.

But wild animals are especially awesome.

Although this slow-motion video of an owl landing was uploaded over two years ago, it's making the rounds on the Web after being posted on Videosift, The Daily What and Arbroath.

According to the video's description on YouTube, the footage is taken at 1,000 frames per second using a Photron SA2 HD camera.

Although the YouTube user only describes the animal as an "eagleowl," the Oregon Zoo says that Eurasian Eagle Owls "are large owls with prominent ear tufts that are usually not raised upright. Because of this, their feather tufts probably help them more with communication and recognition than camouflage."

Can't get enough birds? Check out these videos of baby geese growing up and a beautiful, endangered Albatross soaring through the sky.

Video above: Original source of owl video we are aware of was From (


LGBT Labor Leadership Workshop

SUBHEAD: A LGBT Labor Leadership Workshop is taking place on August 27th at 9am to noon.  

By Ray Catania on 7 August 2011 for Pride at Work Hawaii - 

Image above: From (  

LGBT Labor Leadership Workshop

Saturday 27th August 2011 from 9am to 12 noon.  

ILWU Hall 4154 Hardy Street, in Lihue, Kauai

A LGBT Labor Leadership Workshop is taking place on August 27th at 9am to noon. The workshop is sponsored by Pride at Work Hawaii. Pride at Work Hawaii invites Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals as well as straight allies to learn how to organize for your rights on the job and in your union. The workshop will be at the ILWU Hall 4154 Hardy Street, in Lihue, Kauai.

The 3 hour workshop costs $15 but scholarships are available. For more information or applications please call Steve at (808) 543-6054 or email This workshop is being supported by a grant from the McElrath Fund for Economic and Social Justice.

 Locally you can also call Ray Catania at 634-2737 or email ( .

Change is Here

SUBHEAD: Change you don't have to believe in, because it going to bite you in the ass. By James Kunstler on 8 August 2011 for ( Image above: Tony Glenn from Quality Towing comes up for air after attaching a towing cable to a car caught during Las Vegas desert flood in October of 2000. Photo by Sam Morris. From ( A waterfall of woe broke over all the realms of money last week - including especially the realm where we determine just what money is supposed to mean - and a lot of folks barely made it to a rooftop, or a floating log, or some scrap of high ground, where they sit wet and shivering, expecting to get slammed again. The torrent of events is still flowing and there are countless dangerous objects bobbing in it. Remember what that in-rushing ocean was like in the Fukushima tsunami? A wall of miso soup strewn with Toyotas and houses instead of squid rings and fish balls. Try swimming in that. (Try swimming in your Cuisinart on the guacamole setting.)
Europe is telling itself one cockamamie story after another. We've got a rescue fund! Only it has no money! But we will bail out Italy nonetheless! But Italy is too big to bail out - and we tried stuffing it under the carpet, but there's no more room with Greece, Ireland, and Portugal already suffocating in there. The whole G-20 is yakking on the phone as I write, hatching fresh cockamamie stories. Oh, now it looks like the European Central Bank will ride to the rescue with a dispatch satchel full of good intentions. They said the same thing last time, a month or so ago, when a caryatid fell on Greece's head. They are not so sure what money is either. Is a bond like money? Maybe not so much anymore. A stock portfolio? Feh! A Euro? The damned thing is starting to look like a ball-and-chain custom-crafted to weigh down Germans. (And, let's face it: they never did pay any of us for World War Two, really, except what they had to fork over to get the communist side of their own country out of hock. Their guilt-o-meter is still buzzing, I'm sure.) All I know is I hope the whole gang printed up some fresh lira, francs, marks, drachma, pesetas, punts, and whatnot. It would be nice to go back to one of these cute places some day at a discount.
Did you admire Standard and Poor's sly, Friday night downgrade of the United States Treasury bond rating? I was probably the only one in the whole country besides Anderson Cooper not out eating something bigger than my own head at Applebees, or watching the "Footwear Clearance" show over on the Shopping Network. However, I'm not the only one in America asking where do these S and P punks get off downgrading US bonds when three years ago they wore out their Triple-A rubber stamps on the cartloads of stinking offal that Angelo Mozillo and other mortgage rustlers were pawning off as bond-fodder on every Frankenstein "investment opportunity" pumped out of the Wall Street CDO mills. Government officials were righteously seething over S and P's chutzpah, but I suppose when they tried to ring-up Eric Holder over at the DOJ they got connected to some call center in Uttar Pradesh where a friendly fellow named "Dale" picked up. China's government-run newspaper virtually spanked the US: "Learn (thwack) to live (thwack) within (thwack) your (thwack) means!"
I'm not convinced that the US bond rating will even matter that much because nobody knows what anything is worth anymore - especially when governments teeter and the folks in the public square (or the parking lot in America's case), start yelling for blood. Merkel, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Zapatero, will soon be swept away by that selfsame rolling torrent of dreck-strewn woe - in their case a bouillabaisse - while poor Obama looks like one of those hapless, floating creatures in the second-to-last scene of O Brother, Where Art Thou. Even the gold bugs are scared the price will collapse in a debt deflation, or that the federal government will slap a giant extra-special punitive capital gains tax on precious metal sales, or will try to confiscate it from the public altogether like Franklin Roosevelt did - though, given the vast arsenals of private firearms across this land, and the martial spirit lingering in many pissed-off factions of the Tea Party ilk, nothing would invite a revolution, or civil war, or civic upheaval as surely as trying to snatch folks' gold. As a capital preservation refuge, I'm sympathetic to gold, of course, though not so much to buggery.
Everybody is broke now: national treasuries, giant banks, pension funds, insurance companies. The wonder so far is that credit default swaps have not yet been triggered by interest rate changes or some other silly shit, but when that comes to pass there is no way the counterparties can settle their contracts. Ruin will thunder through the financial system like winged death. Everybody is broke and there's a lot less real "money" (whatever it is) out there. Everybody's quailing at the prospect of QE 3, in all its cosmic futility. The United States has already half killed itself at the Golden Corral steam-table of deep-fried debt. I guess we could go all the way and shoot what remains of the dollar in its pitiful, lolling head.
There is a welling recognition that the dice have been cast and the world has rolled snake eyes. The casino is on fire and a flash flood is boiling down the strip. It's no fun running to the exits only to find the revolving doors already eyeball deep in dirty water. America gibbers to itself but nobody has a clue. I'll try to help: this is a compressive financial and economic contraction (one is money, the other is activity). Late-summer storm that it is, it looks to be intensifying. Everything that's super-big is going down sooner or later. The exact sequence of failures is unpredictable. But you can be sure Nature is telling you to get local, get smaller, get finer, downscale, solidify your friendships, and drop your stupid grandiose fantasies about running WalMart on algae. This is change you don't have to believe in, because it is about to jump up and bite you on the ass.

Fox News Sunday Madness

SUBHEAD: Republicans say they saw the credit rating downgrade coming and this is more vindication of their action. [Editor's note: This is only the first section of Linkins' Sunday Talking Head TV Sound Off] By Jason Linkins on 7 August 2011 for Huffington Post - ( Image above: Top Ten conservative pundits on TV. From ( From Fox News Sunday Hooray! Paul Ryan is here today, with his famous haircut. If you're just now joining us, in America, Paul Ryan is the Wisconsin Representative whose plan to reduce taxes is to raise them on nearly everybody, whose plan to balance the budget is to not balance the budget, and whose plan to "save Medicare" is to stop paying for it, with vouchers that diminish in value over time, relative to rising costs. Only in Washington could someone with the ambition to work little and accomplish less find a field of endeavor suited to those limitations. Naturally, he is a superstar.

Also, Tim Pawlenty is here, in one of his last ditch efforts to get someone to pay attention to him. Plus, it looks like the dregs of the Fox Panel universe are out in force today -- Byron York and Kirsten Powers And Susan Something-Or-Other will be today's troika of pundits belittling Juan Williams.

But first, here's some guy from Standard And Poors to explain how all those toxic-tranched credit derivatives and swaps from 2008 could have possibly attained a top rating from an agency whose mission it is to safeguard the global economy what the American people have done to so displease the great God Moloch.

The S&P guy says that there's been a "mild deterioration in the country's credit rating" and he doesn't expect much financial impact. Wallace points out that the Tel Aviv markets opened very badly. Should we expect the same when our markets open? The S&P guy says that the market is reacting to a lot of factors.

Who is responsible for the dysfunction? The S&P guys says that all of Congress and the White House are responsible. He says that "credibility" means that both political parties support S&P's vague notions of what "good" is. Wallace asks if that means that fiscal policy that includes entitlement reform without revenue increases would not be seen as credible? The S&P guy sort of hedges, but says that entitlements are a major source of spending, in case that's a newsflash for anyone.

He says that critics should step off, because his company is all about "making highly technical assumptions." This must be a nice job to have!

Wallace asks the S&P guy if the credit downgrade is an "effort to get their reputation back" after choking on their own dumb failure for a year while the economy collapsed in a heap. Naturally, the S&P guy says that's "completely untrue." He is very haughty about it! Even his mustache is high and mighty about it.

Should we expect further downgrades? The S&P guy says that the expectation is one of "downside," but of course, he and the other S&P high-priests will have to enter in to their Friday morning blood-orgy and read what the entrails of the dead goat carcasses they rut upon have to say about the market outlook before they make that determination.

So, now Paul Ryan will yell at the Democrats who are not invited on the show, and also there is the guy from Legg Mason, who I think is here only because he was sitting around with nothing to do now that the Legg Mason tennis tournament is winding down.

Ryan says he "more or less saw this downgrade coming" and "this is more vindication of our actions." Yes, it was those actions, debt ceiling hostage-taking that led to the downgrade. And the end result of the negotiations was massive budgetary austerity, so...what sort of vindication is being claimed here?

Wallace, feeling me, quips to Ryan, "Isn't that like a doctor saying 'I did the operation perfectly but the patient died?'" That's an almost-good analogy. The problem with it is that the doctor in that scenario is not some disingenuous hack, but is sincerely trying to save a life, and sometimes death just happens. So, it's hard to fit Paul Ryan into that model.

Wallace also points out that S&P condemned the "brinksmanship" and asks, "What about the failure to compromise?" Ryan says, everyone's to blame, but he is the least to blame, because he's the only one who has a plan for health care entitlements. (The Affordable Care Act is actually a "plan for health care entitlements." Maybe not the best! But the reason Ryan opposes it and doesn't count it as a "plan for entitlements" is because it insists on preserving them in some form, as opposed to ceasing to pay for them, and handing customers worthless chits.")

The Legg Mason guy says that the debt deal isn't so big that it will drag the economy down, but the drag is going to come from the fact that there's nothing the government can do to stimulate the economy. This seems to be true: the only bullet left in the chamber might be a QE3, but reasonable people tell me that sooner or later, the Fed's classic "even a tiny bit of inflation unleashes poltergeists" paranoia kicks in and the full employment mandate gets tossed on a fire.

So, Wallace points out that the White House wants to extend a payroll tax cut and create an infrastructure bank (public money is spend to manage an influx of private money; government involvement at this minimal level prevents the "infrastructure" created from being nothing but toll roads and "fee-for-service" things that exclude the participation of the middle and lower class) and extending unemployment benefits so that a few million Americans don't die. Ryan basically says that he would support none of those things. "It would exacerbate our debt problem." Sorry, unemployed people, but did you ever think about the problems you were causing for our elite politicians, whose children will never go wanting? Maybe you all should think about crawling off into the woods to die right now?

Who's got the better plan? The Legg Mason guy won't make it that simple: he favors both an extension of the payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits. He also agrees in principle with Ryan that long term tax reform would a useful endeavor. (Unfortunately, tax reform will now be another thing that won't be hasked out in the light of day by our sworn representatives. Instead, it's likely to be a matter taken up by the SuperCommittee.)

Speaking of! Who will be on the SuperCommittee? Ryan says he doesn't know if he'll be on the SuperCommittee.

Ryan also lies about what the White House offered in terms of the debt ceiling negotiation -- per Ryan, it was "blank check" to "big tax increase." In actuality, the guy who made the "blank check" proposal was Mitch McConnell, and the White House, most notably, offered four trillion in cuts and included changes to Medicare eligibility. Because it hurt the GOP's chances of being able to tag the White House as unserious, they rejected it, predicting (correctly, as it turns out) that the media wouldn't remember the "grand bargain" and its terms. Indeed, I seem to be one of the few people who do remember it.

(Though this week, the RNC did this Mediscare thing where they yammered about how Obama wanted to cut Medicare -- a policy position the RNC supports, so I didn't understand the negativity -- that recalled, nonetheless accurately, a plan the White House put forward. But toward the end of the negotiations, the GOP insisted that the White House never put forward a plan! No one in the media had the basic wherewithal to note these discrepancies either.)

Anyway, the Super Committee will save us, and Ryan would join, if asked, but he's not itching to join it.

Wallace asks Ryan if he'd be as open-minded to compromise as he insists the Democrats need to be, and the answer is "it depends on the spending side of the ledger," and at the very least, he seems to reject the notion of "revenue-neutral tax reform."

Legg Mason guys says that the only thing that will ensure that the very richest people in America will have "confidence" and "certainty" is for old, poor people to get sicker and poorer and die sooner than they might ordinarily have.

Paul Ryan reiterates that he won't be running for president.

But, here's someone who is running for President. Tim Pawlenty! Here is his campaign song:

This guy! I actually thought in 2008 that he might have a future in presidential politics, and it's like he's gone out of his way to chip away at my instincts. Anyway, hit us with your best shot, Tim! Tim? Tim? Can you hear what's going on? No, he evidently can't. He's sitting there with this dumb expression on his face as Wallace tries to get his attention. Man. This is not Pawlenty's fault, but this brief moment is the indelible image that sums up his entire candidacy.

After a second, we're fixed. Will Pawlenty surprise us in the Ames Straw Poll? Pawlenty says, sure but he'll be here for the caucuses! Seriously! He'll make it!

He's getting beaten in the polls by Bachmann, who's spent a sliver of the time in Iowa that Pawlenty has, and Romney, who has gone out of his way to NOT come to Iowa at all. So what gives? Pawlenty isn't worried about the "early polls."

What about all the fussing and feuding with Bachmann? Is it fair to say she's without accomplishments? (Actually, it totally is!) Pawlenty says that he's got the ability to unite people. He's been the guy who "ran an enterprise" and "accomplished things." He compares Bachmann's rhetorical flourish to Obama's suggesting that they are similarly bereft of accomplishment. Wallace asks, if that's a comparison he's making and will stand behind, and the answer of course is no, he'd rather people just learn to like him, instead of always asking him to stand behind his criticism of other people.

The Cato Institute, who have no experience running anything, think that Pawlenty is very good at running things, says Pawlenty, bringing forward an opinion of his leadership that doesn't quite align with, say, "residents of Minnesota."

I think that Pawlenty has said some of the same sentences three or four times in this interview already.

How about that credit downgrade? Wallace points out that S&P didn't like the brinksmanship or the gridlock, but that Pawlenty opposed the deal that WAS eventually struck. "Doesn't that mean that President Pawlenty would be part of the gridlock?" He says, "Absolutely not." Because he will have the "courage to lead support policies that are anathema to the people who voted for him." (Pawlenty wouldn't have that problem, of course, but it's weird to hear him define "doing whatever the House GOP wants" with "being courageous.")

Doesn't he have to finish 3rd at Ames to stay credible? Pawlenty says he just needs to "show progress" at moving from the back of the pack.

And so it's third-string panel time!

Who has the most "riding" on the debate and the straw poll? York says Pawlenty, because he was just a guest on this show, so SYNERGY. Susan-Person says that TPaw has "a better ground game," and Bachmann is newer at running for President. Wallace points out that the Ames Straw Poll is something like a big dumb game of organization, in which whoever has the best BBQ wins lots of votes.

Powers says, "Mitt Romney is the one to go after." Man, this conversation is so trenchant! Romney is the frontrunner, or something! Good to know!

Williams says that "it's going to be a rough road for Romney." Why? Because maybe in this upcoming debate, people will hit Romney. Williams predicts that "the entire target" of the debate field will be Mitt Romney. (Last time, though, it was President Obama. The only person who got slagged for not hitting Romney was Pawlenty, and that's only because CNN put them in the box together for a moment.)

Rick Perry, is he going to get in, or is he just going to get all revival tenty in Texas with people, forever? York says, "When he enters the race, we'll find out he's not every Republican's cup of tea." Sure thing, mate! Of course, we could say the same thing about everybody in the field. It won't hurt him in Iowa, however, to show "religiosity," says York.

Williams says that the downgrade will be blamed on everyone: Obama's approval rating is low. But Congress, he says, will be the biggest recipient of blame. (Of course, Congress' incumbents are good at dispersing blame across the body and getting re-elected -- if voters were to punish just 20% of incumbents, it would be a demonstration of rage with few precedents.

Wallace wonders if we're going to have another "change" election, and Susan Person says yes, probably, maybe. The economy is bad, so poor politicians!

I like how people are quick to attribute the market falloff to a single recent event, and not just assume that massive swings in the Dow won't just be a feature of the system during this period of time when the economy is totally destroyed! When the market climbed, did everyone really assume that everything was fixed? People are just strange!


Atomic Bomb Big Lie

SUBHEAD: Sixty-six years ago the USA said Hiroshima was a military base and never mentioned a word about its lethal radiation. By Greg Mitchel on 6 August 2011 for Huffingron Post - ( Image above: This is what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs looked like when detonated. From (

In a piece earlier this week I mentioned the decades-long U.S. "coverup" of facts and options related to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 66 years ago today, including the Truman White House censoring the first Hollywood movie about The Bomb. But that shaping of the full impact, and ramifications, of the new weapons -- which would continue for years -- began within hours of the first use.

On Aug. 6, 1945, President Harry S. Truman faced the task of telling the press, and the world, that America's crusade against fascism had culminated in exploding a revolutionary new weapon of extraordinary destructive power over a Japanese city.

It was vital that this event be understood as a reflection of dominant military power and at the same time consistent with American decency and concern for human life. Everyone involved in preparing the presidential statement sensed that the stakes were high, for this marked the unveiling of both the atomic bomb and the official narrative of Hiroshima.

When the astonishing news emerged that morning, exactly 66 years ago, it took the form of a routine press release, a little more than a thousand words long. President Truman was at sea a thousand miles away, returning from the Potsdam conference. The Soviet Union was hours from declaring war on Japan ("fini Japs" when that occurred, Truman had written days before in his diary).

Shortly before eleven o'clock, an information officer from the War Department arrived at the White House bearing bundles of press releases. A few minutes later, assistant press secretary Eben Ayers began reading the president's announcement to about a dozen members of the Washington press corps.

The atmosphere was so casual, and the statement so momentous, that the reporters had difficulty grasping it. "The thing didn't penetrate with most of them," Ayers later remarked. Finally, they rushed to call their editors, and at least one reporter found a disbeliever at the other end of the line. The first few sentences of the statement set the tone:

"Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. ...The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. ...It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe."

Although details were modified at the last moment, Truman's four-page statement had been crafted with considerable care over many months. From its very first words, however, the official narrative was built on a lie. Hiroshima was not an "army base" but a city of 350,000. It did contain one important military base, but the bomb had been aimed at the very center of a city (and far from its industrial area). This was a continuation of the American policy of bombing civilian populations in Japan to undermine the morale of the enemy. It was also to take advantage of what those who picked the target called the special "focusing effect" provided by the hills which surrounded the city on three sides. This would allow the blast to bounce back on the city, destroying more of it, and its citizens.

Perhaps 10,000 military personnel lost their lives in the bomb but the vast majority of the dead in Hiroshima would be women and children. Also: at least a dozen American POWs. When Nagasaki was A-bombed three days later it was officially described as a "naval base." Film footage shot by the Japanese and later the Americans showing the full extent of the human damage would be suppressed by the U.S. for decades. (See some of the footage in video below or here.)

There was something else missing in Truman's announcement: Because the president in his statement failed to mention radiation effects, which officials knew were horrendous, the imagery of just a bigger bomb would prevail in the press. Truman described the new weapon as "revolutionary" but only in regard to the destruction it could cause, failing to mention its most lethal new feature: radiation.

Many Americans first heard the news from the radio, which broadcast the text of Truman's statement shortly after its release. The afternoon papers quickly arrived with banner headlines: "Atom Bomb, World's Greatest, Hits Japs!" and "Japan City Blasted by Atomic Bomb." The Pentagon had released no pictures, so most of the newspapers relied on maps of Japan with Hiroshima circled.

It wasn't until the following morning, Aug. 7, that the government's press offensive appeared, with the first detailed account of the making of the atomic bomb, and the Hiroshima mission. Nearly every U.S. newspaper carried all or parts of 14 separate press releases distributed by the Pentagon several hours after the president's announcement.

Many of them written by one man: W.L. Laurence, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, "embedded" with the atomic project. General Leslie Groves, military director of the Manhattan Project, would later reflect, with satisfaction, that "most newspapers published our releases in their entirety. This is one of the few times since government releases have become so common that this has been done."

The Truman announcement of the atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, and the flood of material from the War Department, firmly established the nuclear narrative (see much more on this in my new book, Atomic Cover-up and e-book).

One of the few early stories that did not come directly from the military was a wire service report filed by a journalist traveling with the president on the Atlantic, returning from Europe. Approved by military censors, it went beyond, but not far beyond, the measured tone of the president's official statement. It depicted Truman, his voice "tense with excitement," personally informing his shipmates about the atomic attack. "The experiment," he announced, "has been an overwhelming success."

The sailors were said to be "uproarious" over the news. "I guess I'll get home sooner now," was a typical response. (Whether the declaration of war by the Soviets might have produced surrender in a few days or weeks remains an open question.) Nowhere in the story, however, was there a strong sense of Truman's reaction. Missing from this account was his exultant remark when the news of the bombing first reached the ship: "This is the greatest thing in history!"

See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Dr Strangelove & Global Warming 2/27/11 .

Farming is a terrible idea

SUBHEAD: Evidence supports that first farmers were shorter, weaker and died younger than their wild-foraging forebears.  

By Michael Hanlon on 28 July 2011 for Daily Mail - 

Image above: Illustration of hunter-gatherers in temperate climate springtime. From (
Progress, we tend to assume is, well, a Good Thing. Things that are new, and better, come to dominate and sweep aside old technologies. When they invented the car, the horse was rendered instantly obsolete. Ditto the firearm and the longbow, the steamship and the clipper, the turbojet and the prop. It’s called the ‘better mousetrap’ theory of history – that change is driven by the invention of superior technologies.

Except it really isn’t that simple. Sometimes a new invention, even if obviously ‘better’ than what came before takes a surprising amount of time to become established.

The first automobiles were clumsy, unreliable and expensive brutes that were worse in nearly all respects than the horses they were supposed to replace. The first muskets were less accurate and took longer to reload than the long- and crossbows which had reached their design zenith in medieval Europe. The last of the clippers were far faster than the first steam packets designed to replace them.

A fascinating essay in this week’s New Scientist points out that perhaps the second-greatest human invention of all (after language), that of farming, was not immediately successful at all. In fact the big switch from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled farming communities 11,000 years ago in the Neolithic had more to do with the creation of new social and economic structures than increasing food supply.

It has long been realised that the advent of farming was not necessarily good for humans. Skeletal evidence tends to support the idea that the first farmers were shorter, weaker and died younger than their wild-foraging forebears.

Indeed, people have been shrinking for millennia since paleolithic times and only very recently have those in the rich world begun once again to approach the statures of our prehistoric ancestors. In his 2010 book ‘Pandora’s Seed’, geneticist Spencer Wells argues that farming made humans sedentary, unhealthy, prey to fanatical beliefs and triggered mental illness.

It is certainly true that large settled communities – possible only with specialisation of labour and organised food production – are more prone to diseases. Of course Stone-Age people got sick, but they tended not to get the plagues and epidemics that are associated with more recent history. A lot of this is speculation, but in his New Scientist essay, Samuel Bowles, describes his quantitative analysis of the relative effectiveness of foraging versus farming - in terms of which provides the most calories for the least effort.

Using a whole host of data, collected by anthropologists studying hunter-gatherer tribes and analysing the effort needed to wield replicas of ancient farming implements, he has come to the conclusion that, like the first cars, the first farmers were no better than what came before in terms of feeding the masses. Indeed, they were probably worse.

So why did we do it? Farming, Bowles points out, ushered in a new era of property rights, created huge inequalities, paved the way for a wealth-based economy, divided the sexes and led to the creation of militaries needed to defend all this. Along with farming then, we got war and crime, madness and disease, cruelty, dictatorship and religions that were all about telling us what to do rather than emphasising our links with the Earth. The writer Jared Diamond has called agriculture ‘the biggest mistake humans have ever made’ and it is tempting to see the story of the Garden of Eden and the Fall as an allegory for the descent of Man into settled barbarism.

It is a persuasive thesis. For most of our hundred-thousand-year history human beings have not lived as we live today. Perhaps a great deal of our problems, from the modern plagues of depression and anxiety, obesity and environmental issues, can be ascribed to the Neolithic Revolution. In the end, though, there was no stopping the farmers. Along with the bad stuff we also got art, medicine, science and literature – all more or less impossible in a nomadic, Stone Age society.

Cars eventually got better than horses, guns won out over longbows and steamships overtook the graceful clippers. But the success of the new is rarely as obvious, at the time, as it seems with historical hindsight. A thought that must have occurred to those first labourers, breaking their backs on someone else’s field, wondering why on earth they were doing this rather than picking fruit off a tree like their grandparents had done.

See also:
Island Breath: Is sustainable agriculture an oxymoron? 8/31/06
 Island Breath: The Garden of Eden 4/19/07


Massive solar flare affects Earth

SUBHEAD: Solar flare is interfering with satellite and radio signals. On a scale of 1 to 5 it is probably a 2 or 3.  

By Randolph Schmid on 5 August 2011 for Huffington Post - 

Image above: Computer generated fractal portrait of our Sun's solar storm. From site monitoring solar activity (

The impact of a series of eruptions on the sun began arriving at Earth on Friday and could affect some communications for a day or so.

Operators of electrical grids are working to avoid outages, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says some satellite communications and Global Positioning Systems could face problems.

Three solar flares erupted on the sun starting Tuesday, and the strongest electromagnetic shocks were being felt Friday by the ACE spacecraft, a satellite that measures radiation bursts a few minutes before they strike Earth, said Joseph Kunches, a scientist at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.

Tom Bogdan, director of the center, said the sun is going from a quiet period into a busier cycle for solar flares and an increase in the number of such blasts is expected over the next three to five years.

Solar flares send out bursts of electromagnetic energy that strike the Earth's magnetic field. The most common impacts for the average person are the glowing auroras around the north and south poles, and the researchers said those could be visible this weekend.

The magnetic blasts, which Bogdan likened to a tsunami in space, can also affect electronic communications and electrical systems. A 1989 solar flare knocked out the electrical systems in Quebec, Canada, but the current solar storm is not expected to be that powerful. On a scale of 1 to 5, he said, it is probably a 2 or 3.

But more significant solar storms are expected in the next few years, he said.

The most powerful known solar storm occurred in 1859, Bogdan said. There were not as many vulnerable electrical items then, but it did knock out telegraph services, even burning down some telegraph stations, he said.

Other serious solar blasts occurred in 1921 and 1940, he noted, and Kunches recalled one on Halloween in 2003.


Google's self driving car crashes

SUBHEAD: Robotic Prius rear and another Prius causing five car collision. No injuries were reported

By Justin Hyde on 5 August 2011 for Jalopnik -

Image above: Google robot car (right) rear ended another Prius in Mountain View California. From original article.

This photo of what looks like a minor case of Prius-on-Prius vehicular violence may actually be a piece of automotive history: the first accident caused by Google's self-driving car. Whose name should the cop write down on the ticket?  

Sent in by a Jalopnik tipster, the photos were snapped earlier this week near Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. The Prius — recognizable as a Google self-driving prototype from the roof equipment that's smaller than a typical Google Streetview image collector — appears to have rear-ended another Prius.

This is precisely why we're worried about self-driving cars. Perhaps the complicated set of lasers and imaging systems that Google chief autonomous car researcher Sebastian Thrun called "the perfect driving mechanism" thought it was just looking at its shadow.

Earlier this year, Google convinced the state legislature of Nevada to create a special license allowing self-driving cars on the state's freeways, and its been racking up hundreds of thousands of miles in California, where there's no law banning them.

Yet Google has never answered the question of who's ultimately responsible for any accidents that happen while the software controls the vehicle. There's a driver in all of Google's tests who can take control, and probably gets the ticket in this case — but Google imagines these vehicles spreading far beyond its corporate campus.

Google can't be hoping to have its software legally blamed for a slice of the traffic crashes that cost more than $160 billion a year in this country. Yet if the operators of Google's self-driving cars retain all legal responsibility, simply turning the system on would be seen in court as a sign they weren't paying attention.

Already some of the more forward-thinking technologists have questioned whether autonomous vehicles should be smart enough to sacrifice its own passengers to save other people in an imminent crash. Aside from promising the worst of a "Blade Runner" future, such thought experiments illustrate why self-driving cars will require such a huge conceptual hurdle to catch on in the United States.

The biggest battle in auto safety today involves keeping drivers focused on driving. Google's self-driving car seems like the ultimate distracted driving machine.

UPDATE #1: The boys at Business Insider received the following quote from a Google spokesperson about the accident: "Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."
Of course, how would we actually know whether it was being manually-driven at the time? Now that we've got confirmation that this was one of Google's self-driven cars, it's high time we got a closer look at the details of how they're trying to make it happen — and any evidence that this actually was being driven by a real, live human being.


NBC's San Francisco station spoke with a woman who witnessed the crash and reported that in addition to the two Priuses, the crash also involved three other vehicles:
Google's Prius struck another Prius, which then struck her Honda Accord that her brother was driving. That Accord then struck another Honda Accord, and the second Accord hit a separate, non-Google-owned Prius.
Striking a car with enough force to trigger a four-car chain reaction suggests the Google car was moving at a decent clip. Google says its unable to provide us with a copy of any official accident report, but that may be the only way to know what happened for sure.

Raw milk purveyors arrested

SUBHEAD: Dairy farms have been raided, farmers arrested and fines of over $100,000 per person levied.

 By Jeff Nield on 4 August 2011 for TreeHugger -  

Image above: A herd of dairy cows. From original article.
In yet another example of wasted resources and misplaced priorities police in LA have raided Rawesome Foods, arresting three people in connection with the distribution of raw milk products without the proper permits.

This isn't the first time the "members only" raw food club has been targeted. Last summer Rawesome was raided by local, state, and federal authorities, with guns drawn.

Presumably the authorities weren't satisfied with the results of the raid so they spent the last twelve months collecting enough evidence to arrest club owner James Cecil Stewart. Police concurrently raided Healthy Family Farms, the source of the nefarious white liquid, where they arrested farm owner Sharon Palmer. Stewarts bail has allegedly been set to $123,000, and Palmer's to $120,000.

Farm employee Eugenie Bloch was also arrested. No word on her bail, but she has been charged with three counts of conspiracy. LA Weekly quotes the D.A.'s office, stating that the three...
... were charged in a 13-count complaint ... Palmer owns Healthy Family Farms, LLC, in Santa Paula, which prosecutors allege has operated without any type of license or permit for milk production since 2007. The business Healthy Family Farms and Palmer are charged in nine of the 13 counts. Bloch works for Palmer and is charged in three conspiracy counts. Stewart runs the Venice market Rawesome, which has been in operation for more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license, prosecutors allege. Stewart is facing 13 counts.
In today's climate of deregulation it's hard to believe that the authorities are working exclusively in the public interest. Since Rawesome is a private club it's safe to assume that the members are aware of what they're consuming when they take home their raw goat milk, yogurt and kefir. These items and more were seized from the premises and the liquid products were allegedly poured down the drain by the police.

I'll leave the last word to club volunteer Danielle Fetzer, quoted in LA Weekly, "You sign a waiver. It's your choice."

LUC Rescinds Lepeuli decision

SOUCE: Hope Kallai ( SUBHEAD: Too good to be true. The craziness goes on. Who twisted whose arm on this embarrassment. By Juan Wilson on 5 August 2011 for Island Breath - ( Image above: Beach access is under attack throughout Hawaii. From ( Hope Kallai has been an activist defending access to Lepeuli Beach for years. This morning she forwarded a copy (PDF) of a letter from the Hawaii Land Use Commission Officer Director Orlando Davidson. In effect it rescinds the determination that the recently constructed cattle fence that the traditional access to Lepeuli Beach was inappropriately placed without a permit on Conservation District Land.
August 3, 2011 To All Interested Parties: RE: Boundary Interpretation No. 11 -0 1 Upon a further review of the file, it appears that Boundary Interpretation No. 11-01 was issued without benefit of a "survey map showing the locations of the shoreline as provided for in section 205A-42, HRS." Pursuant to Section 15-15-22 (b) of the Land Use Commission's Administrative Rules, "(a)ll requests for boundary interpretations involving shoreline properties shall be accompanied by a survey map showing the locations of the shoreline as provided for in Section 205A-42, HRS." The party seeking this boundary interpretation did not provide such a map. Based upon this omission, Boundary Interpretation No. I I - 1 should not have been issued. Accordingly, Boundary Interpretation No. 11 -0 1 is hereby rescinded and of no further force and effect. Should any interested party request a boundary interpretation in compliance with Section 15-15-22 of the Commission's Rules, we will undertake to process such a request as expeditiously as possible. Please contact me if you have any questions. Very truly yours, Orlando Davidson - Executive Officer Mail: P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, Hawaii 96804 Office: 235 South Baretania Street Suite 406 Honolulu Hawaii, 95813 Tel: (808) 587-3822 Fax: (808)587-3827 Email: Distribution List: Rayne Regush, Sierra Club Kaua'i Group, Hawai'i Chapter Mr. Donald H. Wilson, Esq., Belles Graham Proudfoot Wilson & Chun LLP William J. Aila, Jr., Chair (BLNR)
This follows the ruling in favor of beach access just four days earlier. See below and previous article(
July 29, 2011 To Donald H. Wilson, Esq. : Belles Graham Proudfoot Wilson & Chun, LLP Watumull Plaza 4334 Rice Street, Suite 202 Lihu’e, Kaua’i 96766-1388 Dear Mr. Wilson: RE: Boundary Interpretation No. 11-01 Thank you for your letter dated July 27, 2011 regarding the above referenced Boundary Interpretation. The goal in every boundary interpretation is to make the determination based upon the best available information. In this instance, I believe that information from the landowner can certainly be relevant and useful as stated in your letter. Accordingly you are encouraged to submit to me all information, including survey maps, topographical maps, historical information and photographs that you believe will be helpful in reexamining the correctlocation of the Agricultural/Conservation boundary. If you elect to provide this information, could you please do so in the next thirty days. In addition, could you please confirm in writing that you intend to submit such information upon your receipt of this letter. Assuming that you elect to provide additional information, I believe that it would be reasonable for the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Kauai County to hold off taking action based upon Boundary Interpretation No. 11-01 while we undertake our review. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 587-3822 if you have any questions. Orlando Davidson - Executive Officer Mail: P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, Hawaii 96804 Office: 235 South Baretania Street Suite 406 Honolulu Hawaii, 95813 Tel: (808) 587-3822 Fax: (808)587-3827 Email:
Oops! Who knew? .

Salvaging Science

SUBHEAD: The time of specialization for professional scientists is about over. Once again the amateur observer to carry on the scientific tradition.

 [IB Editor's note: This is the latter portion of Greer's long current article. The first six paragraphs can be found at his website that is linked below.]  

By John Michael Greer on 5 August 2011 for the ArchDruid Report - (
Image above: A collection of 19th century amateur science apparatuses. From (

It’s rarely remembered these days that until quite recently, scientific research was mostly carried on by amateurs. The word “scientist” wasn’t even coined until 1833; before then, and for some time after, the research programs that set modern science on its way were carried out by university professors in other disciplines, middle class individuals with spare time on their hands, and wealthy dilletantes for whom science was a more interesting hobby than horse racing or politics.

Isaac Newton, for example, taught mathematics at Cambridge; Gilbert White founded the science of ecology with his Natural History of Selborne in his spare time as a clergyman; Charles Darwin came from a family with a share of the Wedgwood pottery fortune, had a clergyman’s education, and paid his own way around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle.

 It took a long time for scence as a profession to catch on, because—pace a myth very widespread these days—science contributed next to nothing to the technological revolutions that swept the western world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until late in the nineteenth century, in fact, things generally worked the other way around: engineers and basement tinkerers discovered some exotic new effect, and then scientists scrambled to figure out what made it happen.

James Clerk Maxwell, whose 1873 book Electricity and Magnetism finally got out ahead of the engineers to postulate the effects that would become the basis for radio, began the process by which science took the lead in technological innovation, but it wasn’t until the Second World War that science had matured enough to become the engine of discovery it then became. It was then that government and business investment in basic research took off, creating the institutionalized science of the present day.

Throughout the twentieth century, investment in scientific research proved to be a winning bet on the grand scale; it won wars, made fortunes, and laid the groundwork for today’s high-tech world. It’s a common belief these days that more of the same will yield more of the same—that more scentific research will make it possible to fix the world’s energy problems and, just maybe, its other problems as well. Popular as that view is, there’s good reason to doubt it. The core problem is that scientific research was necessary, but not sufficient, to create today’s industrial societies.

Cheap abundant energy was also necessary, and was arguably the key factor. In a very real sense, the role of science from the middle years of the nineteenth century on was basically figuring out new ways to use the torrents of energy that came surging out of wells and mines to power history’s most extravagant boom.

Lacking all that energy, the technological revolutions of the last few centuries very likely wouldn’t have happened at all; the steam turbine, remember, was known to the Romans, who did nothing with it because all the fuel they knew about was committed to other uses. Since the sources of fuel we’ll have after fossil fuels finish depleting are pretty much the same as the ones the Romans had, and we can also expect plenty of pressing needs for the energy sources that remain, it takes an essentially religious faith in the inevitability of progress to believe that another wave of technological innovation is right around the corner.

The end of the age of cheap abundant energy is thus also likely to be the end of the age in which science functions as a force for economic expansion. There are at least two other factors pointing in the same direction, though, and they need to be grasped to make sense of the predicament we’re in. First, science itself is well into the territory of diminishing returns, and most of the way through the normal life cycle of a human method of investigation.

What last week’s post described as abstraction, the form of intellectual activity that seeks to reduce the complexity of experience into a set of precisely formulated generalizations, always depends on such a method. Classical logic is another example, and it’s particularly useful here because it completed its life cycle long ago and so can be studied along its whole trajectory through time. Logic, like the scientific method, was originally the creation of a movement of urban intellectuals in a society emerging from a long and troubled medieval period.

Around the eighth century BCE, ancient Greece had finally worked out a stable human ecology that enabled it to finish recovering from the collapse of Mycenean society some six centuries before; olive and grapevine cultivation stabilized what was left of the fragile Greek soil and produced cash crops eagerly sought by markets around the eastern Mediterranean, bringing in a flood of wealth; the parallel with rapidly expanding European economies during the years when modern science first took shape is probably not coincidental.

Initial ventures in the direction of what would become Greek logic explored various options, some more successful than others; by the fifth century BCE, what we may as well call the logical revolution was under way, and the supreme triumphs of logical method occupied the century that followed. Arithmetic, geometry, music theory, and astronomy underwent revolutionary developments.

That’s roughly where the logical revolution ground to a halt, too, and the next dozen centuries or so saw little further progress. There were social factors at work, to be sure, but the most important factor was inherent in the method: using the principles of logic as the Greeks understood them, there’s only so far you can go.

Logical methods that had proved overwhelmingly successful against longstanding problems in mathematics worked far less well on questions about the natural world, and efforts to solve the problems of human life as though they were logical syllogisms tended to flop messily. Once the belief in the omnipotence of logic was punctured, on the other hand, it became possible to sort out what it could and couldn’t do, and—not coincidentally—to assign it a core place in the educational curriculum, a place it kept right up until the dawn of the modern world. I know it’s utter heresy even to hint at this, but I’d like to suggest that science, like logic before it, has gotten pretty close to its natural limits as a method of knowledge.

 In Darwin’s time, a century and a half ago, it was still possible to make worldshaking scientific discoveries with equipment that would be considered hopelessly inadequate for a middle school classroom nowadays; there was still a lot of low hanging fruit to be picked off the tree of knowledge. At this point, by contrast, the next round of experimental advances in particle physics depends on the Large Hadron Collider, a European project with an estimated total price tag around $5.5 billion. Many other branches of science have reached the point at which very small advances in knowledge are being made with very large investments of money, labor, and computing power.

Doubtless there will still be surprises in store, but revolutionary discoveries are very few and far between these days. Yet there’s another factor pressing against the potential advancement of science, and it’s one that very few scientists like to talk about. When science was drawn up into the heady realms of politics and business, it became vulnerable to the standard vices of those realms, and one of the consequences has been a great deal of overt scientific fraud. A study last year published in the Journal of Medical Ethics surveyed papers formally retracted between 2000 and 2010 in the health sciences.

About a quarter of them were retracted for scientific fraud, and half of these had a first author who had had another paper previously retracted for scientific fraud. Coauthors of these repeat offenders had, on average, three other papers each that had been retracted. Americans, it may be worth noting, far more often had papers retracted for fraud, and were repeat offenders, than their overseas colleagues. I don’t know how many of my readers were taught, as I was, that science is inherently self-policing and that any researcher who stooped to faking data would inevitably doom his career.

Claims like these are difficult to defend in the face of numbers of the sort just cited. Logic went through the same sort of moral collapse in its time; the English word "sophistry" commemorates the expert debaters of fourth-century Greece who could and did argue with sparkling logic for anyone who would pay them. To be fair, scientists as a class would have needed superhuman virtue to overcome the temptations of wealth, status, and influence proffered them in the post-Second World War environment, and it’s also arguably true that the average morality of scientists well exceeds that of businesspeople or politicians.

That still leaves room for a good deal of duplicity, and it’s worth noting that this has not escaped the attention of the general public. It’s an item of common knowledge these days that the court testimony or the political endorsement of a qualified scientist, supporting any view you care to name, can be had for the cost of a research grant or two.

 I’m convinced that this is the hidden subtext in the spreading popular distrust of science that is such a significant feature in our public life: a great many Americans, in particular, have come to see scientific claims as simply one more rhetorical weapon brandished by competing factions in the social and political struggles of our day.

This is unfortunate, because—like logic—the scientific method is a powerful resource; like logic, again, there are things it can do better than any other creation of the human mind, and some of those things will be needed badly in the years ahead of us. Between the dumping of excess specializations in a contracting economy, the diminishing returns of scientific research itself, and the spreading popular distrust of science as currently practiced, the likelihood that any significant fraction of today’s institutional science will squeeze through the hard times ahead is minimal at best.

What that leaves, it seems to me, is a return to the original roots of science as an amateur pursuit. There are still some corners of the sciences—typically those where there isn’t much money in play—that are open to participation by amateurs.

There are also quite a few branches of scientific work that are scarcely being done at all these days—again, because there isn’t much money in play—and their number is likely to increase as funding cuts continue.

To my mind, one of the places where these trends intersect with the needs of the future is in local natural history and ecology, the kind of close study of nature’s patterns that launched the environmental sciences, back in the day. To cite an example very nearly at random, it would take little more than a microscope, a notebook, and a camera to do some very precise studies of the effect of organic gardening methods on soil microorganisms, beneficial and harmful insects, and crop yields, or to settle once and for all the much-debated question of whether adding biochar to garden soil has any benefits in temperate climates. These are things the green wizards of the future are going to need to be able to figure out.

 With much scientific research in America moving in what looks uncomfortably like a death spiral, the only way those skills are likely to make it across the crisis ahead of us is if individuals and local groups pick them up and pass them on to others. Now is probably not too soon to get started, either.


Rumsfeld torture lawsuit to proceed

SUBHEAD: A judge allows Army veteran unjustly tortured to sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. By AP Staff on 4 August 2011 in Huffington Post - ( Image above: Closeup of a clueless Donald H. Rumfeld. From ( A judge is allowing an Army veteran who says he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the U.S. military in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld personally for damages.

The veteran's identity is withheld in court filings, but he worked for an American contracting company as a translator for the Marines in the volatile Anbar province before being detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to holding "high-value" detainees.

The government says he was suspected of helping get classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime and says he never broke the law.

Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive.

Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then suddenly released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to courts in violation of his constitutional rights.

Chicago attorney Mike Kanovitz, who is representing the plaintiff, says it appears the military wanted to keep his client behind bars so he couldn't tell anyone about an important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping collect intelligence in Iraq.

"The U.S. government wasn't ready for the rest of the world to know about it, so they basically put him on ice," Kanovitz said in a telephone interview. "If you've got unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?"

The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld through the Justice Department and argued that the former defense secretary cannot be sued personally for official conduct. The Justice Department also argued that a judge cannot review wartime decisions that are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president. And the department said the case could disclose sensitive information and distract from the war effort, and said the threat of liability would impede future military decisions.

But U.S. District Judge James Gwin rejected those arguments and said U.S. citizens are protected by the Constitution at home or abroad during wartime.

"The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad," Gwin wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday.

"The stakes in holding detainees at Camp Cropper may have been high, but one purpose of the constitutional limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement even domestically is to strike a balance between government objectives and individual rights even when the stakes are high," the judge ruled.

In many other cases brought by foreign detainees, judges have dismissed torture claims made against U.S. officials for their personal involvement in decisions over prisoner treatment. But this is the second time a federal judge has allowed U.S. citizens to sue Rumsfeld personally.

U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen in Illinois last year said two other Americans who worked in Iraq as contractors and were held at Camp Cropper, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, can pursue claims that they were tortured using Rumsfeld-approved methods after they alleged illegal activities by their company. Rumsfeld is appealing that ruling, which Gwin cited.

The Supreme Court sets a high bar for suing high-ranking officials, requiring that they be tied directly to a violation of constitutional rights and must have clearly understood their actions crossed that line.

The case before Gwin involves a man who went to Iraq in December 2004 to work with an American-owned defense contracting firm. He was assigned as an Arabic translator for Marines gathering intelligence in Anbar. He says he was the first American to open direct talks with Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who became an important U.S. ally and later led a revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida before being killed by a bomb.

In November 2005, when he was to go on home leave, Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents questioned him about his work, refusing his requests for representation by his employer, the Marines or an attorney. The Justice Department says he was told he was suspected of helping provide classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces attempting to cross from Syria into Iraq.

He says he refused to answer questions because of concern about confidentiality, and the agents handcuffed and blindfolded him, kicked him in the back and threatened to shoot him if he tried to escape. He was then transferred to an unidentified location for three days before being flown to Camp Cropper.

For his first three months at Camp Cropper he says he was held incommunicado in solitary confinement with a hole in the ground for a toilet. He says he was then moved to cells holding terrorist suspects hostile to the United States who were told about his work for the military, leading to physical attacks by his cellmates that left him in constant fear for his life.

He claims guards tortured him by repeatedly choking him, exposing him to extreme cold and continuous artificial light, blindfolding and hooding him, waking him by banging on a door or slamming a window when he tried to sleep and blasting music into his cell at "intolerably loud volumes."

He says he always denied any wrongdoing and truthfully answered questions but interrogators continued to threaten him. Both sides say a detainee status board in December 2005 determined he was a threat to the multinational forces in Iraq and authorized his continued detention, but he says he was not allowed to see most of the evidence against him. Documents the government filed with the court only say he is suspected of a crime, without providing details.


Lepeuli Beach fence in violation

SUBHEAD: The Land Use Commission determines Waioli Corporation has placed un-permitted fence in Conservation District. By Richard Spacer on 4 August 2011 - ( Image above: LUC map with highlighting, by Juan Wilson of illegal fence (red line) within Conservation District (light green area). Click to download full PDF map. Here is a package of documents regarding the Boundary Interpretation for Lepeuli just completed by the state Land Use Commission. The State of Hawaii feels the boundary is between the gradual, lateral, coastal trail and the parking lot, by the ironwood trees. Waioli attorney Don Wilson is not pleased with the interpretation. Waioli Corporation is considering their next move - to appeal or drop the matter. If it is upheld the fencing makai of the Conservation District boundary is in fact inside the Conservation District, Paradise Ranch could be ordered by DLNR to remove the unpermitted fencing AND pay fines of $15,000. per day. Fencing was installed May 21, 2011. Paradise Ranch has authority to fence in the agricultural district with the Kauai county SMA permit, but NOT to block the lateral coastal trail (Condition 6). They gave up their state CDUP permit in January at BLNR in Honolulu. So, they cannot work in the state Conservation District. Seperately, Kauai County can order the fencing removed from across the entrance to the lateral, coastal trail, irregardless of what land district it is in, as it was unlawfully installed in violation of Condition 6 of the county SMA permit under perceived authority of that permit. See also: Letter from Sierra Club to LUC ( Letter from Donald Wilson to LUC ( Ea O Ka Aina: Lepeuli Beach access surprise 6/30/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Lepeuli Beach access gets hearing 6/23/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Illegal fence blocks Lepeuli Beach 6/13/11 .