Nature in the Backyard: Black Rat Snake

This black beauty visited our backyard recently. It was about 6 feet long and very relaxed. I don’t know if it is the same snake that visited two years ago (here’s the link: Nature in the Backyard). I can’t tell one six foot Black Rat Snake from another, but this one was very mellow and the other one wasn’t. The other one seemed thicker, but that could have been the big meal it had just swallowed. I hope it stays around, it’s always a pleasant surprise to see such a large reptile.

Who Will Pay to Save the Rain Forests?

Fred First highlights a dilemma that every affluent country will face. How do we save the remaining wild places from destruction — if we decide it is worth doing? Excerpts below.

Link: Fragments from Floyd

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and his government say that if the international community can compensate the country with half of the forecasted lost revenues, Ecuador will leave the oil in Yasuni National Park undisturbed to protect the park’s biodiversity and indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation.

Here’s what’s at risk:

Yasuni National Park protects one of the most biologically rich regions in the world, including a large stretch of the world’s most diverse tree community and the highest known insect diversity in the world. It is one of the most diverse places in the world for birds and amphibians.

And here’s the conundrum:

Now: how much is it worth to the commons of the planet to pay Ecuador to not develop Yasuni? How is that decision made across cultures and world political divides, and who will pay and how might that be prorated for each contributor? Can we expect energy-hungry nations (very like our own) to volunteer to pay higher oil and gas prices so that unseen indigenous people and rare salamanders can continue to survive?

Yum! Irradiated Food

The FDA continues to take care of the big corporations and the lobbyists who take care of the FDA.

Link: OCA: Take Action

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new federal regulations that will allow manufacturers and retailers to sell controversial irradiated foods without labeling them, as previously required by law. Consumers are justifiably wary of foods bombarded with nuclear waste or powerful x-rays or gamma rays–since irradiation destroys essential vitamins and nutrients, creates unique radiolytic chemical compounds never before consumed by humans, and generates carcinogenic byproducts such as formaldehyde and benzene. Although irradiation, except for spices, is banned in much of the world, and prohibited globally in organic production, U.S. corporate agribusiness and the meat industry desperately want to be able to secretly "nuke" foods in order to reduce the deadly bacterial contamination that is now routine in industrial agriculture and meat production.

The Organic Consumers Association and other public interest groups have repeatedly pointed out that the best way to reduce or eliminate America’s 78 million cases of food poisoning every year would be to clean up the nation’s filthy slaughterhouses and feedlots, stop contaminated runoff from intensive confinement feedlots from polluting adjacent farms (as in the recent spinach e-coli outbreak), and to stop feeding animals slaughterhouse waste and manure. Instead, FDA and corporate agribusiness have apparently decided, with the backing of the nuclear power and weapons industry, to take away consumers’ rights to know if their food has been irradiated or not.

10 Lessons From Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Computers and was the inspiration behind the Mackintosh computer and the iPod. For more detail on the 10 lessons, visit the Ririan Project web page at the link below.

Link: 10 Golden Lessons From Steve Jobs at Ririan Project

1. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

2. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

3. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

4. “You know, we don’t grow most of the food we eat. We wear clothes other people make. We speak a language that other people developed. We use a mathematics that other people evolved… I mean, we’re constantly taking things. It’s a wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that puts it back in the pool of human experience and knowledge.”

5. “There’s a phrase in Buddhism, ‘Beginner’s mind.’ It’s wonderful to have a beginner’s mind.”

6. “We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.”

7. “I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.”

8. “I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.”

9. “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

10. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”