1. Help reduce fire danger in El Cerrito hills SATURDAY 10 am
2. Grow It Here, Eat It Here - at College of San Mateo SATURDAY 1-3 pm
3. Presidio Sustainability Volunteer Internship available
4. Sunday Streets in the Mission October 23 - last of the year
6. 10-year-old produces scientific paper on runoff from artificial turf
7. SFPUC offers big discounts on rain barrels and cisterns
8. Speaking of water, no fracking good
9. Take your pick from energy subsidies tree; a little history helps
10. Austin develops an Invasive Species Management Plan
11. Ted Kipping potluck Oct 25 - botanizing Western Australia
12. Everything moves in arcs, spirals, and gyres; take a little here, give a little there
13. Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand"? Contradictory interpretations
14. A "letter" from Goldman Sachs to investors about Occupy Wall Street
15. Reflections on Occupy Wall Street and the failure of political debate
16. If it ended completely at loss, the rest wouldn't matter - Gregory Orr
17. Ohio provides vital information on how to determine Leap Year
18. Sign of the times; an experience with electronic devices
19. After 3,000 years, does the Iliad really need translating again?
20. ...the exact moment of creation was Sunday 23 October 4004 BCE...at 0900
1. Help F5C reduce fire danger in Hillside Natural Area Sat., Oct. 22
Twenty years after the Oakland Fire, join our volunteers in lessening danger of wildfire10 AM – 12:30 PM Oct. 22. We'll remove invasive, flammable French broom in El Cerrito’s beautiful Hillside Natural Area. Besides turning to tinder as twigs in dense thickets die, broom crowds out natives and provides almost no useful habitat for wildlife.
Meet at the service-road gate opposite 7500 Schmidt, east of Navallier and west of the El Cerrito Recycling Center. Wear closed-toed shoes with good traction and long pants and sleeves. (There is poison oak in the area.)
Tools, gloves, water, snacks, and gorgeous views provided!
“If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy it will in the end not produce food, either.” Joseph Wood Krutch
2. "ARTICHOKES TO ZUCCHINI: Grow It Here, Eat It Here"
Saturday, October 22, 1:00 - 3:00 pm
San Mateo County Democracy for America is hosting a free public forum aimed at informing, inspiring, and influencing local sustainable food practices and policies.
Our distinguished panel features: Assemblymember Jerry Hill; Prof. Christopher Gardner of the Stanford Prevention Research Center; Kari Hamerschlag of Environmental Working Group; Jered Lawson of Pie Ranch in Pescadero; Kelly Toomey from Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association, and Jamie Johansson of the California Farm Bureau. The moderator will be Adam Scow of Food & Water Watch.
Event co-sponsors include: Sustainable San Mateo County, Acterra, Sierra Club, Second Harvest, Recology, Greenbelt Alliance, Food & Water Watch, Coastside Democrats, Canada College Outreach Program, Committee for Green Foothills, and the San Mateo County Democratic Party.
SMCDFA will have an information booth at the CSM Farmers' Market from 9:00 - 11:30 am preceding the forum, and a number of community organizations will have display tables available a half hour before and after the panel discussion at CSM College Center.
Free admittance - light refreshments - wheelchair accessible
What: Free public forum, "ARTICHOKES TO ZUCCHINI: Grow It Here, Eat It Here," hosted by San Mateo County Democracy for America
Where: College of San Mateo, College Center, Rm. 10-195 (College Center is located up at the rear of the campus next to the library. Free parking is available near the building.)
When: Saturday, October 22, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Contact: Ashleigh Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org, 650-573-7544
3. Position Title: Sustainability Volunteer Intern
Division: Public Safety and Municipal Services
Reports To: Jean Koch, Presidio Trust Organic Debris Specialist
Supports implementation of the Presidio Trust Compost, Community Garden and Integrated Pest Management Programs under direction of the Presidio Trust Organic Debris Specialist.
4. Come play in the streets of the Mission on October 23!
Sunday Streets is closing out the season with the last event in the Mission! On Sunday, October 23 from 11a.m. until 4p.m., Valencia and 24th Streets will once again be transformed into a car free space. There will be dancing, roller disco, break dance lessons, and so much more! Dust off your running shoes, your skateboard, or that old bike you haven't used in a while and come play in the streets!
Tell us what you think about Sunday Streets
As we begin planning 2012 Season, we'd like to have your thoughts and input as we move forward. Please take a moment to fill out this brief, 10-question survey.
Sunday Streets is also a Food Day event this year!
The popular Sunday Streets in the Mission happens to fall just at the right time for the first national, annual Food Day this year. Sunday Streets on the 23rd will be a Food Day event! More information on Food Day is at www.FoodDay.org.
Tie your plans and activities for Sunday Streets into the six Food Day principles:
• Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
• Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
• Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
• Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
• Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
• Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
On or around October 24th, Food Day is basically like an Earth Day for the food movement -- a national day for which any group/org/individual/community can host events, showcase work, launch new projects, push for legislative change, educate people, etc around issues like sustainability, justice, health, and how they intersect. It's grassroots-driven, in that communities and organizations put together the events, projects, editorials, and campaigns they feel would be most beneficial for Food Day.
Ideas include helping kids make art about Food Day or healthy eating, or making music about food justice, or offering dietary-related health screenings.
Jake, Thanks for posting this data point about population explosion -- too many people don't realize there is an explosion - or understand the terrible burden it is bringing us response to item 1.) Population Matters:
I know. Funny how we can not notice the crowding, the traffic, the lack of affordable housing, the necessity of commuting up to 100 miles to work, the price of food, the hideous cruelty to animals viewed strictly as food machines, the lack of decent air and water for most of the world's people...and so on. Unbelievable.
Be sure to get your endangered species condoms at the Center for Biological Diversity
Through a network of volunteers, the Center for Biological Diversity is giving away 100,000 free Endangered Species Condoms in 2011 as part of our 7 Billion and Counting campaign.
The condoms are an engaging, lively way to get people talking about the unsustainable growth of the human population (it’s expected to hit 7 billion by the end of October 2011) and the effect it’s having on the extinction of species around the globe.
And, Mary, you didn't mention that Homo sapiens could be one of the eliminated species. Poetic justice it may be; still, I'm not ready to accept it.
6. Claire Dworsky, Third Place, Age 10, San Francisco, California
Researching water runoff from soccer fields
As a young soccer player, Claire Dworsky became very aware of the surface of playing fields. She overheard a lot of argument among adults about whether turf fields made of plastic were unhealthy for kids and she wondered what was in the runoff water that she stepped in when she played soccer. Upon being successful in a National Science Foundation Kids Science Challenge, she was paired with a local university professor who trained her to do water sampling. Over six months, she tested more than one hundred water samples from both synthetic turf and grass fields.
Claire’s research showed that most of San Francisco’s turf field runoff water contained dangerous levels of heavy metals and other toxics which were in excess of state and federal guidelines. This is believed to be the first study of its kind. Nobody had any idea of what kind of water kids were stepping in on playing fields. Not only is this water potentially hazardous to kids, but because the playing fields are near the ocean, the runoff water could also be very dangerous to marine wildlife.
When her research project ended, she continued to search for new facts, wrote a blog and talked with people she came across who were interested in these issues. She has spoken at her school, with city officials and presented at the American Geophysical Union, one of the largest gatherings of scientists in the world. She has also been interviewed on TV, in EARTH Magazine, Scholastic/Weekly Reader “SuperScience,” and “Pulse of the Planet.”
7. Don't let good water go to waste - harvest rainwater!
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has launched year four of our popular Discounted Rain Barrel and Cistern Program. Starting now, get discounts of 30-60% off 60-gallon rain barrels and up to $640 off cisterns!
You may also wish to consider utilizing graywater. Our Laundry-to-Landscape Graywater Program lets you convert your clothes washer into a garden-watering system -- for less than $15! You‚ll get a Laundry-to-Landscape kit, installation training, in-home technical assistance and more!
Get details on both of these programs at: http://sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=488
8. gasland (http://gaslandthemovie.com/) is a new documentary on natural gas extraction via a method called fracking. Millions of Americans' water supply is at stake (see website for more information). Please take a quick second to click on the link and send the form letter (all you have to do is fill out your name, address) encouraging your respective congressmen/women to pass the FRAC Act: the purpose is to remove the exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act for fracking and calls for the disclosure and monitoring of chemicals used in the process. Once you put in your zip code, it automatically sends it to your respective representative.
Fracking is also happening in California, and the industry will continue to grow, so we need to let our senators and reps know that we demand safe regulation of the industry.
THE GREEN GROK: Take Your Pick from the Energy Subsidies Tree: Apples, Oranges or Blossoms
When assessing green energy subsidies, a little history helps
10. A working group, consisting of city of Austin departments, the Wildflower Center, and representatives from Keep Austin Beautiful, Austin Parks Foundation and the Austin Invasive Species Coalition have been working on an Invasive Plant Species Management Plan for the City of Austin. This will be the first municipal plan in Texas and, to the best of our knowledge, the second nationwide (after Portland). The link below directs you to the plan, the history of the plan and the public comment page.
11. Ted Kipping pot luck/slide shows
4th Tuesday of the month at 7 pm (slide show at 8 pm) at the San Francisco County Fair Bldg, 9th Av & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park
Served by Muni bus lines #6, 43, 44, 66, 71, and the N-Judah Metro
OCT. 25 TED KIPPING - BOTANISING WESTERN AUSTRALIA
*Please bring a dish and beverage to serve 8 people
I Saw Her Dancing
Nothing moves in a straight line,
But in arcs, epicycles, spirals and gyres.
Nothing living grows in cubes, cones, or rhomboids,
But we take a little here and we give a little there,
And the wind blows right through us,
And blows the apples off the tree, and hangs a red kite suddenly there,
And a fox comes to bit the apples curiously,
And we change.
Or we die
And then change.
It is many as raindrops.
It is one as rain.
And we eat it, and it eats us.
And fullness is never,
~ Marge Piercy ~
13. Beware false sightings of Adam Smith's invisible hand
Crude interpretations of the economist's ideas are popular, but a new book suggests he was no cheerleader for small government
There are many contradictory interpretations of Adam Smith's theories
In the Oscar-winning documentary about the credit crunch, Inside Job, writer director Charles Ferguson spares some of his most vitriolic criticism for Ivy League free market economists. These US academics, argues Ferguson, gave Wall Street banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs and their rightwing politicians on Capitol Hill the intellectual support during the 1990s for a catastrophic bonfire of regulations on the financial sector. Let the invisible hand do the job, said the Harvard, Yale and Chicago school professors.
Their economic philosophy was revealed in a series of interviews by Ferguson who filmed them arguing that a free market should be left to rule without a government hand on the tiller or taxes that distort economic behaviour. The market, they said, propels business people to conduct a relentless search for profit and produce economic goods that benefit all.
The invisible hand releases such a flurry of activity that economic goods trickle down to labour, despite the concern of unions that from those who have first claim on them, the capitalists, will hoard their gains.
Conflating free market theories with utilitarianism, these academics appeared to argue that allowing a free-for-all would bring the greatest benefit to the largest number of people.
Warren Samuels, a professor at Michigan University who died in August, set about investigating what the originator of the term invisible hand, the influential 18th-century economic thinker Adam Smith, meant by the term and examine how it is applied.
In his book, Erasing the Invisible Hand, he argues that free market thinkers, including Smith himself, were ambiguous about what the term means. A close examination of articles, books and speeches over the last 200 years shows it means different things to different people.
Samuels says the academics – and in particular the monetarists and free market cheerleaders of the all-powerful Chicago school, who influenced many senior figures from Margaret Thatcher to Bill Clinton – tailored the term for their own political ends.
Samuels spends much of his book dissecting all the many and contradictory definitions and supposed benefits of the invisible hand. In particular, he debunks the idea that Smith's support for what Keynes later described as the animal spirits of business confidence and pursuit of profit also led him to demand small government.
"That Adam Smith stands for laissez faire, non-interventionism and minimal government is a dominant theme in economics and elsewhere. Was it a misperception to attribute it to Adam Smith?
"Smith provided a spirited attack on mercantilism for its extraordinary restraints, but he did not extend the attack to government and law in general. Indeed, many of those who do extend the attack, wittingly or otherwise, are silent about Smith's candour."
He then goes on to quote a passage by Smith that libertarians, Tea Party members and even property-owning middle classes would like to think is less relevant to the present than it so obviously remains.
"Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality … Civil government supposed a certain subordination. But as the necessity of civil government gradually grows up with the acquisition of valuable property, so the principal causes which naturally introduce subordination gradually grow up with the growth of that valuable property … Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."
Sadly, crude interpretations of Smith have won important friends, especially since the 1960s, when widespread property ownership became a big issue for politicians. The Nobel prize for economics was first awarded in 1969, and since then has rewarded research into how markets work, with the emphasis on the examination of pure markets and the equilibrium they can achieve if only they are left alone by governments and regulators. All market failures are blamed on interventions. And that is still the case today, with many on the right arguing the banking crash was not the result of too little regulation, but of too much.
Philip Inman op-ed in Guardian Weekly 14.10.11
14. Correspondence from Goldman Sachs
Up until now, Goldman Sachs has been silent on the subject of the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street. That does not mean, however, that it has not been very much on our minds. As thousands have gathered in Lower Manhattan, passionately expressing their deep discontent with the status quo, we have taken note of these protests. And we have asked ourselves this question:
How can we make money off them?
The answer is the newly launched Goldman Sachs Global Rage Fund, whose investment objective is to monetize the Occupy Wall Street protests as they spread around the world. At Goldman, we recognize that the capitalist system as we know it is circling the drain -- but there's plenty of money to be made on the way down.
The Rage Fund will seek out opportunities to invest in products that are poised to benefit from the spreading protests, from police batons and barricades to stun guns and forehead bandages. Furthermore, as clashes between police and protesters turn ever more violent, we are making significant bets on companies that manufacture replacements for broken windows and overturned cars, as well as the raw materials necessary for the construction and incineration of effigies.
It would be tempting, at a time like this, to say "Let them eat cake." But at Goldman, we are actively seeking to corner the market in cake futures. We project that through our aggressive market manipulation, the price of a piece of cake will quadruple by the end of 2011.
Please contact your Goldman representative for a full prospectus. As the world descends into a Darwinian free-for-all, the Goldman Sachs Rage Fund is a great way to tell the protesters, "Occupy this." We haven't felt so good about something we've sold since our souls.
Satirist Andy Borowitz
15. Reflections on Occupy Wall Street and related phenomena
(JS: My hastily-scribbled notes on NPR [around 2007] are disjunct but understandable, and Sandel comes closer to identifying the discontent that is almost universal. His final question is a poser, and why has political debate not found a way of addressing this discontent?)
Michael Sandel, Harvard University
neither liberals nor conservatives are addressing the concerns and frustrations
1. disempowerment: in spite of affluence and gaining rights, people feel less in control of their lives
2. fear: moral fabric is fraying, erosion of sense of community
The political debate hasn't found a way of addressing these
Attack ads and sound bites don't address this, instead focus more or less on welfare, education, regulation, strengthening economic growth and its distribution among population
Why don't political parties address 1 and 2? Both parties share same idea
Not the loss alone,
But what comes after.
If it ended completely
At loss, the rest
But you go on.
And the world also.
And words, words
In a poem or song:
Aren't they a stream
On which your feelings float?
Aren't they also
The banks of that stream
And you yourself the flowing?
~ Gregory Orr ~
(Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved)
* Leap year is determined if the 4-digit year can be divided by 4 UNLESS
* The year can be divided by 100, then it is not a Leap Year, UNLESS
* The year can be divided by 400, then it is a Leap Year, UNLESS
* The year can be divided by 4,000, then it is not a Leap Year, UNLESS
* The year is 200 or 600 years after a year that is divisible by 900, then it is a Leap Year
Ohio Department of Administrative Services Memo
18. Sign of the times, JS
Last night I attended a San Francisco Symphony performance of Verdi's Requiem. A man in his 20s was sitting next to me. When a small earth shock gently swayed the building about five minutes from the music's beginning--at a very solemn, hushed moment in the music--he whipped out his telephone. It was very distracting to me, but I endured it for about five minutes. I decided I didn't want to put up with it longer, and gently indicated he should turn it off. He looked at me in disbelief, pondered for about a minute, then turned it off.
What I found disturbing is that there is a generation or more which seemingly has no sense of when they are intruding into other people's space. (Or care?) BTW, there is a recorded announcement before the beginning of every concert that electronic devices should be turned off.
I fantasized that he was texting his friends with messages like this: "Where are you? On the 12th floor? Wow, cool. I bet you really felt it there." And so on.
19. After nearly 3,000 years, does the “Iliad” really need translating again?
Oct 15th 2011 The Economist
(illustration to follow - JS)
The Iliad of Homer. Translated by Richmond Lattimore.
The Iliad. Translated by Anthony Verity.
The Iliad. Translated by Stephen Mitchell.
Memorial. By Alice Oswald.
BLOODY but beautiful, is there a greater poem than the “Iliad”? Depicting a few weeks in the final year of the Greek siege of Troy, Homer’s epic glitters with bronze spears and the blazing sun. Rich with his famous similes and repeated expressions, it describes a war in which men can pause from fighting in order to speak of their family lineage in terms of “As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity”; in which Gods can yank warriors back by their hair or cover them in a cloud of mist if it is not yet their turn to die. It is both brutally realistic (once you have heard how Phereclus died by a spear through his right buttock into his bladder, you won’t forget it) and belonging to another world—as the Greek epithet for Homer, theois aoidos or “divine singer” suggests. It is no wonder that the “Iliad” is a text that people constantly turn back to, and continually translate.
And yet, it comes as something of a surprise that this month there are four translations competing for the status of a definitive “Iliad”. Richmond Lattimore’s translation, originally from 1951, has been reissued with scholarly notes and a new introduction. For years, Lattimore’s version has been a standard text, particularly in his native America. It is not hard to see why. Both lucid and learned, Lattimore writes with a certain grace, capturing the combination of nobility and speed which over 100 years ago Matthew Arnold famously heard in Homer’s work.
In certain respects, both Stephen Mitchell and Anthony Verity are setting their versions against Lattimore’s. Mr Verity, a former Master of Dulwich College in London, declares that his translation “does not claim to be poetry.” Mr Mitchell, a translator who had little Greek before starting out on this project, claims that his version is more reliable as he bases it on a different edition of the text from Lattimore’s. By doing so, Mr Mitchell cuts what has, for centuries, been included in the performance tradition of the “Iliad”. Gone is the whole of Book Ten (“baroque and nasty”, apparently), most of the adjectives and fixed epithets that contribute to the life of Homer’s figures and, subsequently, most of the poetic value of Homer’s work. It is doubtful, for example, that Zeus, the father of the universe, would ever exclaim as Mr Mitchell has him do, that “I have a sensible plan”, or even that Achilles, tempestuous as he is, would rally “To hell with that man…I don’t give a damn about him.”
Similarly, although Mr Verity is far more restrained and scholarly in his translation, he too fails to capture the full force of Homer’s work. In Mr Verity’s translation, Achilles’s outburst above becomes the prim “I abominate his gifts, and I value him no more than a splinter.” Such differences may seem slight in comparison, but the accumulated result, whether of Mr Mitchell’s colloquialisms or Mr Verity’s carefulness, render these both rather dull literary works. Both Mr Verity and Mr Mitchell give Hecuba’s speech to her husband, Priam, when he tells her of going to retrieve their son Hector’s body from Achilles, a certain shrillness not necessarily heard in the Greek. “Good God! Are you out of your mind?” wails Mr Mitchell’s version, while Mr Verity’s is similarly brusque: “You are mad! Where has your good sense gone…” In contrast, Lattimore captures something far nearer to the original, a mother mourning her son’s death: “Ah me, where has that wisdom gone for which you were famous?” Homer’s epic is not just composed of harridan wives and brave men. It encompasses the whole messy breadth of humanity, and so needs a decent translation to bring this about.
Paradoxically, Alice Oswald manages to achieve this, even if her “Memorial” is about an eighth of the length of the “Iliad”. Ms Oswald has audaciously set out to translate the book’s atmosphere, rather than its story. A poet known for her landscape verse, Ms Oswald read classics at Oxford. The result is a work by someone who not only understands Homer’s Greek, but who also has an ear for modern verse. It is a delight to read. Although some of the best-loved moments in Homer’s text are referred to only obliquely or fleetingly—when Achilles, mourning, covers his face in earth at the news of the death of his companion, Patroclus, or when Andromache is seen running a bath for an already-dead Hector—Ms Oswald has captured a certain spirit of Homer’s text, preventing the reader from missing these narrative moments too much.
Ms Oswald translates Homer’s similes literally, but paraphrases the rest, creating a modernised version that delights in the unexpected. She brings the poem’s violence shockingly to life: a figure dies as quickly as “a lift door closing”, suddenly obscured from view, while another soldier, stripping the dead, has “tin-opened them out of their armour”. Diomedes kills “Red-faced quietly like a butcher keeping up with his order”. Ms Oswald is aware that these characters can at times seem more horrific than heroic: “This is horrible this is some kind of bloodfeast”. And Hector waits for Achilles, “Like a man rushing in leaving his motorbike running”, both arrogant and charming at once.
Ms Oswald’s “Memorial” strips the “Iliad” down to its bare bones, capturing the terrifying brevity and brutality of the deaths (240 named, many more anonymous) that Homer depicted. With no gods in her version, it could seem rather bleak. And yet there is a liveliness to her poem—part elegy, part war memorial—that prevents it from becoming so. Read Richmond Lattimore’s translation for the epic scale and narrative of Homer’s poem. But read Alice Oswald in order to be reminded how such an everlasting work can still shock, even in the 21st century.
20. Happy Creation Day! - the exact moment of creation was...Sunday 23 October 4004 BC…at 0900
The exact date of the creation of the world was calculated according to James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, the date was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC (that didn’t take long!!), and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 2348 BC `on a Wednesday'.
Time of day of creation was calculated by John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University as 9:00 AM. Lightfoot was a contemporary of Ussher. Lightfoot published his calculations in 1644, before Ussher's were completed.
The following excerpt from Andrew D. White's book A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (D. Appleton and Co., 1897, p. 9) identifies the culprit as Sir John Lightfoot:
...the general conclusion arrived at by an overwhelming majority of the most competent students of the biblical accounts was that the date of creation was, in round numbers, four thousand years before our era; and in the seventeenth century, in his great work, Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and one of the most eminent Hebrew scholars of his time, declared, as the result of his most profound and exhaustive study of the Scriptures, that "heaven and earth, centre and circumference, were created all together, in the same instant, and clouds full of water," and that "this work took place and man was created by the Trinity on October 23, 4004 B.C., at nine o'clock in the morning."
This announcement was brought to you by the Intelligent Design Review Board.
Someone pointed out that today, October 21, perhaps not by coincidence, is the revised “end of days”, as predicted by Harold Camping. I hope you get this newsletter before the universe ends. And I think it's really cool of God (is she the one doing the destroying?) to do it by time zones, so we can watch it begin at the International Date Line via TV. How exciting!
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