Wilderness — A Meditation

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Vulnerability - A Rare Gift

In Sierra Sunrise Demi Tryon proves Brown's point 
as she searches the globe 
for her own acceptance of vulnerability.

Available Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Flipcart, Apple, Barnes&Nobel

Friday, March 27, 2015

Knowledge Is Power

Knowing this the Republican governors 
leaders of the Republican party
 earnestly attempt
 to decrease the total sum of monies 
for the enhancement of  public eduction 
in America.  
Why would they do this?
What do they hope to gain 
from decreasing the monies available 
to provide the best possible education 
for the students in America?
I have no answer.

Do you?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring — Who Says?

Three inches of snow atop an inch of freezing rain made the roads miserable yesterday.  Before bed last night, I looked out at the highway, about a quarter mile away across the prairie.  A carnival-zone lit-up semi-truck limped east along the skating rink we call North Dakota Highway 52, a west-east blue highway that joins US 2 to carried commerce from Montana across the whole northern tier of the Bakken to Grand Forks and thence beyond the border into Bemidji, Minnesota and on down to Minneapolis and Chicago.

This route is our primary exit from the land of oil pumpers, fraking-water and oil tankers, of dry land oats, wheat, and golden canola. It is much easier to travel Amtrak than the highway. Diesel locomotives don’t much mind ice although they hate snow when it falls three feet deep on the sidings. 

And I, the one who is always making sure there is a doorway behind me into which I can back in case I deeply offend one more local resident of this bastion of conservatism, finds herself wishing away the week before I leave for points far south, before I fly to Australia.

Speech — How Important Is It to Be Heard?

Sigh — Here We Go Again — Change Is Essential

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pearson - Ripping Off America's Children

Has the company that produces many standardized tests gained control of our education system?

March 24, 2015 2:00AM ET

Who stands to gain from education reforms such as the controversial Common Core standards?
One big winner is the British publishing company Pearson, which delivered 9 million high stakes tests to students across the United States in 2014, including the PARCC Common Core assessments. Pearson has an especially tight hold on New York’s education system, which one critic has compared to the grip of an octopus. Pearson runs the edTPA program, which certifies New York teachers, and the company has a $32 million contract to administer the state’s end-of-year tests. And it offers a wide variety of services to implement the Common Core, including curriculum models and tools to measure student understanding.

The company is expanding its brand into the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia. Pearson earns over $8 billion in annual global sales, with much more to come if countries continue to use standardized tests to rate students, teachers and schools.

We can learn more about Pearson and its sweeping vision for the future by turning to a 2011 book by the company’s chief academic officer, Michael Barber. In “Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for Educational Leaders,” he lays out his philosophy and, unintentionally, reveals why parents, teachers and politicians must do everything they can to break Pearson’s stranglehold on education policy around the world.

Barber has worked on education policy for British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as for McKinsey & Co. “Deliverology,” written with assistance from two other McKinsey experts, is clearly inflected by the worldview of management consulting.

The authors define “deliverology” as “the emerging science of getting things done” and “a systematic process for driving progress and delivering results in government and the public sector.” The book targets systems leaders, politicians who support education reform and delivery leaders, employees responsible for the day-to-day implementation of structural change.

Deliverology alternates between painting a big picture of what needs to be done and offering maxims such as “To aspire means to lead from the front” and “Endless public debate will create problems that could potentially derail your delivery effort.”

Beware — Pick Your Books Carefully — Never Know What They Might Do to Your Mind

 And just what are the titles that have changed my life: 

To Kill A Mockingbird
Parenting makes a difference. It is not what we say, but what we model, that makes a difference in our children's lives when they grow into adulthood.

The English Patient
Communication can take place across thousands of miles without any word being spoken once the initial connection has been made.

Riders of the Purple Sage
Imagination is provocative and creates our futures.

Sierra Sunrise
Remember what the flight attendant on the plane tells you. Put your oxygen mask on first. Then take care of those who need your attention. 

Would you like to add your titles below? Go for it in the comments section. Be sure to explain why a title made a difference.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Work of a Magician

Try describing this composition. 
The symmetry of the detail, 
the merging colors, 
the design
 All on the most precious canvas. 
I am more than impressed. 
I am drawn into the art, 
captured by its beauty.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vale, Malcolm Fraser

A fair man who represents the best of what it means to be Australian. I shall miss his thoughtful, compassionate, rational approach to governing.

Pictures from Tracey Smith - Stunning Australia

Uluru (Ayers Rock) with Yuluru (tourist center in the lights)

Blue Mountains of New South Wales

 Sydney Harbour

Kakadu Western Australia

Uluru at Dawn 
Red Centre Northern Territory

Universal Travel — How to Become a Planetary Citizen

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Demi's Wilderness Adventure — Sierra Sunrise

"When she goes online and meets an Australian outdoor adventurer, [Demi's] life takes on new meaning. The two fly around the world to be with each other in various outdoor locales. If they can’t be together, phone calls and emails keep them connected. With each trip, Demi has an epiphany . . .The protagonist’s experiences with wildlife and her surroundings in the Australian Outback or mountains of California are vivid and detailed: “The muted greens of the eucalypt forests encapsulated by soft mosses created a cave like atmosphere. The bottomlands oozed spongy soils.”' Kirkus Review

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: My Life as a Pencil by Ron Arias

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Conservatives - Around the Globe

Around the world, folks circle the wagons, refuse to see what is needed to celebrate inclusive communities, and hunker down in the depths surrounded by their collections of 'goods' rather than enjoy the sunlight and adventures of new days. 

 Fear rules lives, accumulating 'their very own trash' grows
more important as conservatives avoid forging new relationships with the varied peoples around them. These are the new Neanderthals who will fade into oblivion as the more open, inclusive, creative, open minded forward looking citizens of the world move into the forefront of manunkind's future.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Queensland scientists discover treatment that could restore memory

By Leonie Mellor
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Queensland scientists have discovered a new treatment that could help restore the memory of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

The process uses ultrasound technology to help clear a plaque that builds up in the brain of Alzheimer's sufferers.

Researchers at the University of Queensland's Brain Institute (QBI) trialled the technique on genetically engineered mice and found it restored their memory function to the same level as healthy mice.
PhD student Gerhard Leinenga, who had been working on the project for the past three years, said he was surprised at how much the mice improved in memory tests and was hopeful for future therapeutic treatment in humans.

"Definitely if we can improve the functioning in daily life and delay the progression of the disease, then it will have a huge benefit not just to the patients but to their families and carers," he said.
In Alzheimer's sufferers, a plaque of the toxic protein amyloid beta builds up within the blood-brain barrier.
The word breakthrough is often misused but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease and I foresee a great future for this approach.
Professor Jurgen Gotz

Mr Leinenga said they used ultrasound therapy combined with micro-bubbles to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier and clear the amyloid beta.

"In the Alzheimer's brain it's a toxic environment ... because there's this build up of amyloid beta peptide in their brains so when it's removed in mice, as we show, their memory improves," he said.
"But in humans it's more difficult because the human brain is more complex and the human cognition is more complex.

"It's a bit more difficult to say, but certainly we envisage that if you can reduce these levels perhaps early when they're starting to build up in a human brain, you could rescue the memory impairment."
The research has been published in the peer-reviewed Science Translational Medicine journal.

Mr Leinenga said the approach was a novel one and it did not rely on drugs.

"So far the drugs that are available only help improve memory performance a small amount for a short period of time," he said.
"It doesn't treat the underlying disease, it doesn't remove the amyloid beta peptide."

He said the team was in the process of designing a larger ultrasound device to test in the brains of sheep before trialling in humans.

Maine inn again offered for a pittance, and up to 200 perfect words

Innkeeper Janice Sage is asking prospective owners of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant to persuade her to let them take it over.

What’s the price of a dream?
According to one innkeeper in western Maine, $125, no more than 200 words and a postage stamp will do.
More than two decades after a Maine couple gave away the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant to the winner of an essay contest, the woman who won the quaint year-round inn with views of the White Mountains will once again offer up the 12-acre property to a hopeful, persuasive entrant in the same unorthodox way.

“There’s a lot of very talented people in the restaurant business who would like to have their own place but can’t afford it,” said Janice Sage, who took possession of the business in 1993 after dashing off a few handwritten paragraphs that would change her life. “This is a way for them to have the opportunity to try.”

When she was selected to take over the property from Bil and Susie Mosca in 1993, the contest drew national and international attention, including a segment on the “Phil Donahue Show.” Entries from around the world flowed in, followed by questions of its legality.

It also triggered a property-as-prize fad, with subsequent contests to give away homes and businesses achieving mixed results. In some cases, the gambit cost owners more than they reaped, and drew scrutiny from authorities concerned the setup constituted a lottery, or illegal gambling, according to news reports at the time.

But Sage, 68, isn’t worried.

Because the essay relies on skill, not luck, it has been deemed legal in Maine, and the Maine State Police already have given her the go-ahead.

She hopes to receive 7,500 responses, or about $900,000, about what local real estate agents suggested as a listing price for the 210-year-old inn and two outbuildings overlooking Kezar Lake in Lovell. It is also an amount that would allow Sage to transition smoothly into retirement, her ultimate goal.

She also hopes the novel approach will ensure that the inn will land in worthy hands.
“I’ve never been known to do anything the normal way,” she said. “I just want to pass it on for someone else.”

In her carefully laid-out rules, Sage included some hint of a contingency plan if her contest falls flat, reserving the right to both return the fees, or keep them, even if she does not meet her 7,500 goal.
Although Sage’s contest borrows heavily from the contest she won years ago, it differs in one key way: She will not return entries if she exceeds her goal.

“If I get more entries, all the better,” she said.

Sage will read all of the essays and narrow the list to 20 finalists before turning them over to two unnamed judges, who will select the winner.

Entries are to be postmarked by May 7, and must arrive at the Center Lovell Post Office no later than May 17. Sage plans to announce her successor May 21.

The Moscas, who charged $100 to enter, came up with the novel approach after realizing that the real estate market in the early 1990s likely wouldn’t yield what they believed was a fair price for their business and that many prospective buyers wouldn’t be able to come up with the 20 percent to 40 percent down payment banks were requiring.

Sage said that in 1993, when a friend told her about the contest, she was managing a 50,000-square-foot restaurant in Maryland.

She put pen to blue-lined paper, and in about an hour, had completed her entry.
“Then I kept going over it and changing it,” she said. “Then I went back to my original, and mailed it.”

Exactly what Sage wrote remained a secret until Bil Mosca, who retained the copyright to Sage’s entry, published it in Yankee Magazine after she won.

More Max - Check Out the Australian Film of the Year


Total Film says its the most spectacular film of the year! #hollywoodneedsmadmax

An Excerpt: The Novel as Protestant Art

Joseph Bottum

". . . If the individual soul's journey increasingly defines the social line of the English novel from Fielding through the 18th-century picaresques of Smollett and on to Thackeray and Dickens—together with writers as diverse as Mrs. Gaskell, Mark Twain, and James Joyce; novels as different as Moby-Dick, Crime and Punishment, and Herzog—so even more does it define the personal line that runs from Richardson through Jane Austen and Henry James and down to Alice Walker and innumerable others.

I confess there's something in this kind of novel I find tedious. Austen and James, many others in the Richardson line, are beyond carping; to prefer Dickens to them is as individually revealing and critically pointless as preferring the planet Mercury to the planet Mars. Still, I do prefer Wuthering Heights to Jane Eyre, War and Peace to Madame Bovary, Death Comes for the Archbishop to The Awakening (and Rabelais to them all). Reading even much of Virginia Woolf, I find myself tiring of the relentless search inside the psyche, the endless dwelling on internal reality, as though feelings and thoughts about the self were as important and interesting as actions and thoughts about the external universe.

Except that feelings and thoughts about the self actually are important. They were important even in the premodern Aristotelian and Stoic rational accounts of the good life, although they were understood mostly as tools: instruments to be left behind once virtue had been achieved. And feelings and internal consciousness become more than important—they become vital—in the modern turn to the self.

This is what the novel as an art form emerged to address, and what the novel as an art form encouraged into ever-greater growth. The inner life, self-consciousness as self-understanding, becomes the manifestation of virtue and the path for grasping salvation. It's there in 1813 when Jane Austen has Elizabeth Bennett declare, "Till this moment I never knew myself," at the great turning point of Pride and Prejudice, and it's there in 1908 when E. M. Forster has Lucy Honeychurch exclaim that she has at last seen for herself "the whole of everything at once," at the great turning point of A Room with a View—Forster's most Austen-like book, intended (as he described it in his diary) to be "clear, bright, and well constructed. . ."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ill Informed Members of American Congress Make Fools of Themselves Once Again

Part II: Iran Responds to GOP Letter
March 9, 2015 | 2:52pm

On Mach 9, Iran’s U.N. mission circulated the following press release detailing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s reaction to the GOP letter on a nuclear deal.

Asked about the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.  It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.  This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”

Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.

Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.” 

The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 [Britain, China, France, Germany Russia and the United States] result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Zarif expressed the hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”

The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate.  He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”

Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to UN - New York

Photo credit: Robin Wright