Sunday, July 26, 2009

Apollo 11 NOT FAKE, but ...

the tapes have been erased. There *WAS* a plan to FAKE some
of the first landing... maybe:


You can be sure that the USA had a PLAN B.

Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits
Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:49pm EDT

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at

NASA admitted in 2006 that no one could find the original video recordings of the July 20, 1969, landing.

Since then, Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who oversaw television processing at the ground-tracking sites during the Apollo 11 mission, has been looking for them.

The good news is he found where they went. The bad news is they were part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed -- magnetically erased -- and re-used to save money.

"The goal was live TV," Nafzger told a news conference.

"We should have had a historian running around saying 'I don't care if you are ever going to use them -- we are going to keep them'," he said.

They found good copies in the archives of CBS news and some recordings called kinescopes found in film vaults at Johnson Space Center.

Lowry, best known for restoring old Hollywood films, has been digitizing these along with some other bits and pieces to make a new rendering of the original landing.

Nafzger does not worry that using a Hollywood-based company might fuel the fire of conspiracy theorists who believe the entire lunar program that landed people on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972 was staged on a movie set or secret military base.

"This company is restoring historic video. It mattered not to me where the company was from," Nafzger said.

"The conspiracy theorists are going to believe what they are going to believe," added Lowry Digital Chief Operating Officer Mike Inchalik.

And there may be some unofficial copies of the original broadcast out there somewhere that were taken from a NASA video switching center in Sydney, Australia, the space agency said. Nafzger said someone else in Sydney made recordings too.

"These tapes are not in the system," Nafzger said. "We are certainly open to finding them."

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, July 26, 2009 0 comments

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Film for Mike - Rivette

"Loosely adapted from Honoré de Balzac's The
Hidden Masterpiece, La Belle noiseuse is an
elegantly realized, exquisitely tactile,
understated, and deliberative exposition on
the complex mutualism and turbulent process
of artistic creation."

Download the movie here:
La Belle Noiseuse (The Beautiful Troublemaker) -- Rivette (1991)
  • There was no script per se. The film was shot in sequential order and the day's shooting was dictated by what had been filmed the day before.
  • Frenhofer mentions a sculptor, Rubek, and his model, Irene, who both died in Norway. This is a reference to a play by Henrik Ibsen, 'When We Dead Awake'.

La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento

In this fascinating and unconventional
examination of the creative process, an
artist near the end of his career finds new
inspiration in a young model. Edouard
Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) is a famous and
well-respected artist who lives in a
comfortable estate in the French countryside.

At the age of 60, Frenhofer considers his
career as a painter to be over; he says he no
longer feels any inspiration to create, and
his last attempt at a major work, a nude
study of his wife Liz (Jane Birkin) called
"La Belle Noiseuse" (The Beautiful Nuisance),
has sat unfinished for ten years. Just as
Frenhofer has lost his enthusiasm for his
art, he has also lost his passion for Liz;
their relationship is polite and friendly,
but without enthusiasm. When Frenhofer tells
Nicolas (David Bursztein), his young protégé,
that he no longer feels the desire to paint,
Nicolas suggests that he needs a more
inspiring subject, and he offers his
girlfriend Marianne

(Emmanuelle Béart) as a
model. Frenhofer is taken with Marianne's
beauty, and, with Liz's cool approval, he and
Marianne spend several arduous sessions
together, exchanging ideas and opinions as
Frenhofer methodically attempts to create a
final masterpiece. While La Belle Noiseuse
runs 240 minutes, director Jacques Rivette
also prepared an alternate version, La Belle
Noiseuse -- Divertimento, which runs 120
minutes, features a different framing
sequence, and incorporates takes unused in
the original cut.

by Mark Deming

ultra-rare and uncut "Out 1" pls?
You can find it with emule (KAD) freegoodcinema
torrent download Seeders 10 Leechers: 11
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The last of Ibsen's plays, " When We Dead
Awake," was published in 1899, being separated by
three years, instead of the customary two, from its
predecessor. The play is further described as " a
dramatic epilogue," which seems to mean that the
author has definitely closed the series of problem-
plays, or studies in social pathology, which was
begun in 1878 with "The Pillars of Society," and
which is made an even dozen by the work now
under discussion. One in search of fanciful anal-
ogies might find in that first title some suggestion
of an intellectual Samson determined to pull down
the temple of modern society, and in the last some
suggestion of the nobler social structure that may
be expected to spring from the ruins of the old

This is, of course, the merest fancy and nothing
more, but it is the prerogative of Ibsen's work to
suggest ideas that lie far afield from its direct mes-
sage, and it is impossible to remain literal-minded
in the presence of the extraordinary series of com-
positions now brought to an end. Their signifi-
cance is none the less real because it is elusive, and
their larger implications must determine our judg-
ment quite as much as the nicety of their drama-
turgical craftsmanship. " When We Dead Awake "


is a title which in itself awakens many echoes from
the author's earlier writings. It proclaims anew
his whole insistent gospel of the need of spiritual
regeneration for an age sunk in slothfulness the
gospel of Brand's

" Forth ! out of this stifling pit !
Vault-like is the air of it !
Not a flag may float unf url'd
In this dead and windless world."

It sounds once more that note of high idealism
which is never altogether missing from his work,
and which is the real secret of the appeal which he
has so powerfully made to all who have ever dreamed
of the realization of Utopias and the permanent
betterment of the social order.

But, whatever aspirations may breathe through
his symbolism, Dr. Ibsen never forgets that he is a
dramatic artist writing for the stage, and that his
first concern is the concrete presentation of such
men and women as we may at any time meet with in
actual life. The new play opens in the most matter-
of-fact way at a summer resort on the Norwegian
coast. Professor Rubek and his wife Maja are
seated outside the hotel. They have just finished
breakfast and are reading the newspapers. Rubek
is a sculptor of European reputation, who has re-
turned to his native land after a lengthy sojourn
abroad. Both are restless, and it soon transpires


that neither of them has found satisfaction during
the years of their married life. It is a case of the
deeper sort of incompatibility.

An artist and a
frivolous woman are joined together, and neither
of them can give the other what is most wanted.
To him has been denied inspiration for his work,
to her the joyous round of gaiety which she craves.
For years they have pretended a satisfaction they
did not feel, but the breaking-point has nearly been

All this comes out very clearly in the opening
scene. Soon afterwards, the two remaining char-
acters of the play appear. One is a landed
proprietor named Ulfhejm, the other is Irene, a
pale, mysterious woman who turns out to be an
old friend of Rubek, no other, in fact, than the
woman who had been his model for "The Day of
Resurrection," and thus the inspiration of his best
artistic effort. She is attended by a deaconess, a
shadowy, silent figure, who speaks only three words
at the very close of the drama. Ulfhejm, who is
an enthusiastic sportsman, is coarse of speech and
unconventional in manner. Maja is attracted to
him by his abundant animal spirits, and they plan
a hunting expedition. When they have gone off
together, Rubek is left with Irene, and memories
of the past come surging upon him. In the in-
timacy of their earlier relations, he had viewed her
with the artist's eye only ; she, on the other hand,
had loved him with all the strength of her passion-
ate nature. To him she had been an episode ; to
her he had been everything that makes life desir-
able. When they had parted she had become like
" The Woman with the Dead Soul " of Mr. Stephen
Phillips's poem. She had existed, but the vital
spark had been extinguished within her breast.
He, learning too late how great was his need of her
inspiration, had made a prosaic marriage, and had
discovered that the creative impulse had fled be-
yond his control. The situation is something like
that of " The Master Builder," when the appear-
ance of Hilda reawakens in the artist the old
aspirations and the old ideal visions. Irene re-
proaches the sculptor with having seen in her
only the beautiful figure, not the loving woman's

RUBEK. I was an artist, Irene.

IRENE. Just that, just that.

RUBEK. An artist first of all. And I was ill and would
create the great work of my life. It should be called
" The Day of Resurrection." It should be produced in
the likeness of a young woman, waking from the sleep of

IRENE. Our child, yes.

RUBEK. She should be the noblest, purest, most ideal
woman of earth, she who awoke. And then I found you.
I could use you with complete satisfaction. And you


submitted so willingly, so gladly. Left people and home,
and followed me.

IRENE. It was my resurrection from childhood when I
followed you.

RUBEK. That was just why I could use you. You and
none other. You became for me a sacrosanct creature,
whom I might touch only in the worship of my thoughts.
I was still young then, Irene. And I was possessed by
the superstition that should I touch you, desire you in
reality, it would be a desecration, and put beyond my
power the work that I sought to do. And I yet believe
there is truth in that.

IRENE. First the work of art then the human child.

RUBEK. Judge of it as you will. But I was completely
controlled by my task at that time, and it made me jubi-
lantly happy.

IRENE. And your task turned the corner for you,

RUBEK. With thanks and blessings for you, it turned
the corner for me. I sought to create the pure woman
just as it seemed to me she must awake on the day of
resurrection. Not surprised at anything new and un-
known and undreamed of, but filled with sacred joy at
finding herself unchanged she, the woman of earth
in the higher, freer, more joyous lands after the long
and dreamless sleep of death. So did I create her in
your image I created her, Irene.
He speaks of a projected journey along the north
coast with his wife, but Irene counsels him rather to
seek the heights, and asks if he dare meet her again
up there. " If we only could ! " is his cry, and she

replies: "Why can we not do what we will?
Come, Arnold, come up to me." " Why can we
not do what we will ? " The whole of Ibsen is
in that passionate question. Why does deed fall
so far short of impulse? Why do we cripple our
lives by making them so much less than our
ideals ? Noticeable also in this scene is the re-
currence of the typical motive of " The Master
Builder," for as Hilda comes to Solness and re-
calls the past in such fashion as to rekindle his
artistic energies, so Irene comes to the sculptor
at a similar period of slackened will, and bids
him once more be greatly daring.

In the second act, Rubek and his wife, in sor-
row rather than in passion, say some of the
things they have long felt, and put into bare and
almost brutal speech their attitude toward one
another. After this discussion, Maja leaves the
scene, meets Irene, and sends her to Rubek. A
long reminiscent dialogue between these two then
follows, leading to this poetical and impressive
climax :

IRENE. Look, Arnold. Now the sun is sinking behind
the peaks. Just see how red the slanting rays shine upon
all the hilltops yonder.

RUBEK. It is long since I have seen a sunset on the

IRENE. And a sunrise?


RUBEK. I think I have never seen a sunrise.

IRENE. I saw a wonderfully beautiful sunrise once.

RUBEK. Did you? Where was it?

IRENE. High, high up on a dizzy mountain top. You
enticed me thither, and promised that I should behold all
the glory of the world, if I would only

RUBEK. If you would only ? Well ?

IRENE. I did as you told me. Followed you up to
the heights. And there I fell on my knees, and be-
sought you and worshipped you. Then I saw the

The close of this act brings an appointment be-
tween the two to spend the warm bright summer
night upon the heights. At the same time it
must be remembered that Maja and Ulfhejm have
planned a hunting expedition for that night also.

IRENE. Until to-night. On the upland.

RUBEK. And you will come, Irene ?

IRENE. I will truly come. Wait for me here.

RUBEK. A summer night on the upland. With you,
with you. Oh, Irene, it might have been a lifetime.
And we have wasted it, we two.

IRENE. We first come to see the irretrievable when

RUBEK. When ?

IRENE. When we dead awake.

RUBEK. What is it we come to see ?

IRENE. We see that we have never lived.

With the last act comes the inevitable tragic
ending. The scene is laid high up among the
mountains, with precipices on the one hand, and


snovvclad peaks on the other. The time is just
before sunrise. Maja and Ulfhejm first appear,
and after a long dialogue come upon Irene and
Rubek. A storm is brewing, and the note of
warning is sounded by Ulfhejm. He goes down
the mountain with Maja, promising to send succor
for the others, but they take little heed of this,
having reached the pitch of exaltation that cares
nothing for physical dangers, and fears only a re-
lapse into the deadly moral conditions of ordinary
prosaic life.

RUBEK. Then let us two dead live life once to the
dregs, ere we go down again into our graves.

IRENE. Arnold !

RUBEK. But not here in the twilight. Not here,
where the wet, hideous shroud flaps about us.

IRENE. No, no. Up into the light and all the glitter-
ing glory ! Up to the peaks of promise !

RUBEK. Up there we will celebrate our bridal festival,
Irene, my beloved.

IRENE. The sun will see us gladly, Arnold.

RUBEK. All the powers of light will see us gladly.
And all the powers of darkness. \_Taking her hand~\ Will
you follow me, then, my gracious bride?

IRENE. Willing and gladly will I follow my lord and

RUBEK. We must first make our way through the
mists, Irene, and then

IRENE. Yes, through all the mists, and so straight up to
the towering peak, that gleams in the sunrise.


As the two pass upward hand in hand, the tempest
increases in violence. The silent attendant of
Irene appears and looks about for her mistress.
The jubilant voice of Maja is heard from far
below. Then, with a roar like thunder, an ava-
lanche sweeps down the mountain side, and buries
the devoted two in its depths.

Such is the scene which, like the similar scene
in " Brand," leaves us awe-stricken at the close of
the drama. We leave to others the task of read-
ing a lesson into this tragic presentment of two
human souls thus brought to the crisis of their
lives. Journalism and by journalism is meant
the sort of writing which, whether found in news-
papers or in books, invariably balks at every form
of idealism, and always, of the possible motives
for any course of action, assumes the basest or the
least worthy, to offer the most rational explana-
tion journalism, we say, will scoff at this story,
just as it scoffed at " L'Abbesse de Jouarre " and
" Die Versunkene Glocke," with both of which
works this drama has suggestive affinities. But
we pity the reader who can contemplate the situ-
ation here created by the genius of Dr. Ibsen,
and find only prosaic emotions to feel, only pro-
saic things to say. An awful pity and an awful
sense of omnipotent fate seem the fitting subjec-
tive accompaniment of the tragedy here worked


out with unerring objective mastery. In the
presence of such creative power, of such a cer-
tain grasp upon the very core of passion, such an
envisagement of the problem of life when stripped
of all adventitious trappings, all criticism seems
futile, and all comment superfluous.

Ibsen returned to Norway for permanent resi-
dence several years ago, making his home in
Christiania, and the honors that have since been
heaped upon him by his fellow-countrymen, now
unanimous in the pride with which they claim him,
have richly atoned for the mistrust and calumny
of the earlier years. He has become a prophet
for his own country, as well as for the rest of the
world, and has entered into the full heritage of his
fame. His seventieth birthday, in 1898, was made
the occasion of the heartiest of celebrations, and
evoked tributes of praise for his work from all
parts of the world. This year (1901) he has
suffered from a severe illness which leaves little
hope of a restoration to his former activity. It is
understood that he has prepared some sort of an
autobiography, but, such is his habitual secretive-
ness concerning his literary work, not even his
closest friends know very much about it. Even
during the months of his recent illness he has
been working almost daily at some composition of
which no other human being has yet had sight.


It is evident that the work of his' life is practically
completed ; the content and significance of that
life-work, as set forth in the preceding pages, are
such as to make of it one of the most remarkable
intellectual manifestations of the nineteenth cen-
tury, and to insure its profound and lasting in-
fluence upon the twentieth century.

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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, July 25, 2009 1 comments

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Socialist Communities in USA

We are Acorn Community, a secular, egalitarian community, founded in 1993. We are committed to income-sharing, sustainable living, and creating a vibrant, eclectic culture. Our thriving seed business is part of an exciting movement and growing network of farmers, gardeners and seed savers dedicated to organic and heritage agriculture. Our community encourages personal responsibility, supports queer and alternative lifestyles, and strives to create a stimulating social, political, feminist and intellectual environment.

If you are interested in visiting us, interning in our seed business and garden, or just learning more, e-mail us at for more information.

Remember, this stuff is hard! Living and working together, having fun and running a business, making decisions together and sharing income, are all challenging every day. We are interested in meeting people experienced in community-building, communication and facilitation, and interested in building a dynamic, supportive social culture.

We always have need for maintenance and tech skills, home and land improvement, business management, tasty veggie cooking, alternative construction, seed saving knowledge, and people interested in organic gardening. Or if you just like to work hard, get things done, and to be surrounded by stimulating conversation, get to know us by scheduling a visit.

The Membership Process

Once come for a visit, the fun begins! If you are interested in membership, you will have an interview sometime around the 2nd week of your visitor period. The purpose of the interview is to help foresee and work out any potential problems, ensure that the visitor.s expectations are realistic, see that she or he is well-informed about the community, and provide the community with information relevant to making a membership decision. The questions are available in advance. In the final week, visitors have an open meeting called a .clearness,. where the visitor and community members can talk about what it might be like to live together, along with raising any potential concerns. After that, the community will attempt to decide by consensus to accept or reject the membership application. In some circumstances, we may offer internship or some other arrangement, rather than membership.

Occasionally a decision is made while the visitor is still here, but we make no commitment to that. You should make plans to leave for one week at the end of your visitor period. We will contact you when a consensus decision has been made. If either you or the community believe more time is necessary to make a well-informed decision, occasionally the visitor period can be extended, usually for one week.

Our general policy is .If it.s not an obvious .yes,. it.s not yes.. In other words, all members need to feel reasonably confident that you are a good fit for membership for you to become a member. If we are uncertain, or don.t feel like we know you well enough, we will not offer membership. We may ask you to visit again or offer internship or a position as an associate if that seems more appropriate. In cases where members don.t feel Acorn is a good fit, we may simply say no to membership.

We believe that visitors have the right to know why they were accepted or rejected. Reasons for accepting or rejecting tend to include things such as ability to get along with other people, willingness to accept feedback, organization and responsibility, completion of useful work, needs of the group at that time, dedication, respect of boundaries, ability to cope with existing mental or emotional issues, and commitment to nonviolence, community living and egalitarianism.

We strive to keep our membership as open as possible and are willing to consider any special needs (such as financial obligations, physical and mental health conditions, age, single parenthood, etc.). If you foresee potential concerns regarding your membership application, it is wise to bring them up as early as possible so that we have time to think about it and try to work something out. Similarly, if people here have specific concerns about you as a member, we encourage them to talk with you about it prior to the decision.

If accepted for membership, you are welcome to move in immediately if there is a room available or if you are willing to camp. Once you are a member, there is a provisional period of at least one year. In most ways provisional and full members are treated exactly the same. The main differences are that the community can decide to expel a provisional member for any reason at any time (although this is extremely rare), provisional members do not receive health benefits, and provisional members technically cannot block any community decision. However, their input is still taken seriously. Since we operate by consensus, any one full member may block someone.s provisional period from continuing or from moving to become a full member. However, except in cases of violence, abuse, or serious violation of policy, any member who has issues with another member is expected to make a full, good faith effort to work out the problems rather than force someone to leave the community.

Acorn Community

c/0 Visitor Program

1259 Indian Creek Road

Mineral, Virginia 23117
The letter of introduction (1-2 pages, typewritten) should tell us:
· your age
· your gender
· the work or studies in which you are presently involved
· your work history
· your hobbies and interests
· how you heard about Acorn
· why you are interested in visiting community, and why Acorn in particular
· any physical ailments or limitations (e.g. back problems) which would prevent you from doing certain kinds of work
· any special skills you have or work you like or dislike, e.g. indoor work vs. outdoor work
· if you have any children, and their ages, even if you are not planning on visiting with them.
· your preferred dates to visit
· your permanent postal address (or .most permanent.)
· a phone number where you can be reached previous to your visit
· emergency contact information in the form of the address and phone number of a relative or friend whom we could contact in case of an emergency during your visit

Keep in mind, we cannot reserve a space for you until your visit and dates are mutually confirmed.

Twin Oaks Intentional Community

Twin Oaks is an intentional community in rural central Virginia, made up of around 85 adult members and 15 children. Since the community's beginning in 1967, our way of life has reflected our values of cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology. We welcome you to schedule a visit.
We do not have a group religion; our beliefs are diverse. We do not have a central leader; we govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees. We are self-supporting economically, and partly self-sufficient. We are income-sharing. Each member works 42 hours a week in the community's business and domestic areas. Each member receives housing, food, healthcare, and personal spending money from the community.

Our hammocks and casual furniture business generates most of our income; indexing books and making tofu provide much of the rest. Still, less than half of our work goes into these income-producing activities; the balance goes into a variety of tasks that benefit our quality of life - including milking cows, gardening, cooking, and childcare. Most people prefer doing a variety of work, rather than the same job day in, day out.

A number of us choose to be politically active in issues of peace, ecology, antiracism, and feminism. Each summer we are hosts to a Women's Gathering and a Communities Conference where we welcome both experienced communitarians, and seekers who are new to community living.

The Saturday Tour: We give tours of Twin Oaks almost every Saturday afternoon from March through October, and on most alternating Saturdays from November through February. Your tour guide will tell you about the history, culture and philosophy of the community and will be available to answer any questions you may have. The tour is from 2 - 5 pm, and much of this time is spent walking around the community. Please plan to arrive at 1:45. Please dress appropriately for the weather (it's very hot in summer and there's no air-conditioning, and can be cold in winter), wear comfortable walking shoes, and let us know if you have particular mobility needs. It can be a long tour for children--please consider the limits of their attention span when considering bringing them or not. Do not bring pets. Phone (540) 894-5126 Ext. 0 during regular business hours to make reservations. Our operator will double-check that a tour is being offered on the date you want. (Sometimes we don't offer scheduled tours for various reasons.) We request a $5.00 donation per person for the to

Twin Oaks Community
138 Twin Oaks Rd #W
Louisa, VA 23093 USA
540-894-4112 Fax
Email us

Twin Oakers are involved in a variety of activist work. Some social justice activities that members have participated in include serving food to the homeless with Food Not Bombs, working at a battered women's shelter, going to demonstrations, animal rights work, protesting the School of the Americas/Assassins in Georgia, writing letters for Amnesty International, participating in Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans/Queer Pride marches, and more. While many individuals at Twin Oaks engage in activist activities, as a community we do not officially endorse any particular course of political activism (i.e. members do this work as individuals, not in the name of community).

We collectively own about 15 public computers, many of which are networked with each other and connected to the internet. They are available for both community work and personal use. Some members have their own personal computer (laptops and desktops) kept in their bedroom, which they can use for either community work or personal use. Most members have email accounts and use them for both internal (within the community) and external communication. As you've discovered, Twin Oaks has an extensive webpage and several members have their own webpages.

In any group of people living or working together, some amount of conflict is inevitable. At Twin Oaks, there are different types of conflict. Conflict can spring from values differences, from communication difficulties, from different assumptions of what's "normal" or "acceptable" and from having different perspectives on the same set of events. Some conflict is work-related, some is interpersonal. There are different ways we deal with conflict as it arises. Sometimes the people involved simply talk to each other to resolve differences. Sometimes the people prefer to have a mediated meeting, in which a third party is present either as a facilitator with skills in helping resolve conflict, or simply as a witness, creating a feeling of greater safety. Our Process Team offers support and resources for people in conflict, and also keeps an eye on "hot" issues in the community which might cause conflict to come up. We try to keep in mind that it isn't the existence of conflict that determines the health of a group, but rather the manner in which a group does or doesn't deal with conflict which determines it's health.

Twin Oaks culture places a much higher value on cooperation than mainstream culture. Sometimes, this can mean we need to learn new skills, and we strive to "raise the cultural bar" around communication skills. To a large extent, the expectation at Twin Oaks is that if conflict does arise, members be willing to engage in working it out,and to use respectful communication in doing so. The ability to see and understand (although not always agree on) more than one perspective of "the truth", and each of us being able to take responsibility for our own behavior in partially creating the conflict are skills that can go a long way in resolving conflict . We're still learning. Conflict resolution exists here along a spectrum; different members have different opinions. We find common ground in our hope that ultimately we can find a way to work out our differences and work together.

Connection to the Mainstream
Members can be as connected to the mainstream as they desire. A few prefer to live a quiet life on a farm, while many others are quite connected to the mainstream. We get newspapers from Louisa, Charlottesville, Richmond and Washington DC. Many members listen to the radio, especially NPR. We have chosen to not have television here, as we want to avoid it's influence in importing mainstream values such as consumerism, violence, pre-packaged "canned" entertainment, etc. However, we are not purists, and we do rent and watch various movies, including documentaries and independent and foreign films.

We have more than a dozen public computers, all linked to the internet, and many members read news, surf the net and email with friends. There are almost daily trips to town for social, volunteer, or political activities, to go to the library, to visit friends, to take a day off, etc. We shop at local shops and know the people there. There are also quite a few ex-members who have settled in the town and city near us, and so we are further spread out into the larger community in that way. Although we are interested in creating a culture that is distinct from the mainstream, we are not interested in isolating ourselves from the mainstream.

We have a mixed diet at Twin Oaks--some members are vegetarian, some are meat-eaters, and some are vegan (people who consume no animal products at all e.g. no butter, no eggs). Diet can be pretty fluid at Twin Oaks; members often follow their dietary instincts, and eat differently at different times over the months and years. We produce a significant portion of our own food including vegetables, fruit, beans, and meat, and this means some people make diet choices based on knowing they are eating organic, free-range, locally-produced food.

Ecological Sustainability
Twin Oaks incorporates a variety of ecological practices. Our choice to share houses and cars reduces our footprint on the earth; our 18 vehicles and 7 residences for 100 people are both well below the national average, and use substantially less resources per person. Because we work in our community-owned businesses on our land, our commute involves a short walk through the woods instead of using fuel. When we do drive (for business or social reasons), we carpool extensively.We build our own buildings, and although our building techniques in terms of structure of the building are fairly conventional, we incorporate a wide variety of alternative energy features. These include passive solar features (large south-facing windows to light and heat the building), super-insulation, skylights and suntubes for natural lighting, cellulose insulation in some places (instead of fiberglass), wood heat (using wood from our own forests and scrap from our sawmill) in almost all of our buildings, solar hot water, photovoltaic solar electricity in one residence, multi-use of most spaces, permaculture landscaping around buildings, and more.

Growing a significant portion of our food in our organic garden also helps us be more sustainable, by not using pesticides, and by reducing the amount of food we buy that needs to be transported by trucks. We also buy most purchased food in bulk, thereby reducing packaging.

Twin Oaks feminist values manifest on at least two different levels--systemically and culturally.

Systemically: Much of the organizational infrastructure here is classically feminist in nature; for example, our decision-making process is egalitarian (as opposed to hierarchical) and the community.s labor system equally values traditionally women.s work (cooking, cleaning, laundry, some amount of child-care) whereas in the mainstream this work is often undervalued when done as paid labor, and/or is done over and above paid labor.

Culturally: We have much less division of labor based on gender. Women and men both do traditionally women.s and men.s work. Both men and women prepare food, fix cars, do child-care, use power tools, etc. Unlike the mainstream, there are no cultural barriers to being a manager or being involved in our system of self-government. It.s assumed that personal boundaries will be respected and that all people (especially men towards women) will be sensitive and tuned into interacting with and treating each other with appropriate respect. We largely ignore mainstream values of clothing choices, make-up, hair (including body hair), etc., instead opting for a fashion of self-determination. Whereas in the mainstream, certain relationship styles tend to be socially and economically rewarded (most notably a man and woman married to each other), at Twin Oaks a much wider range of relationship choices are accepted as normal and are not remarked upon.

Twin Oaks is sufficient in size to have developed our own holiday culture, including rituals and ceremonies which are unique to our village life. We have one member who serves as our Holiday Manager, who coordinates the organization of each holiday activity. Read about specific examples.

One of our primary values is non-violence. Our culture is one that values resolving conflict in a cooperative, peaceful manner, and living one's daily life in line with those principles. We do not tolerate physical violence at Twin Oaks, and verbal violence (this can mean different things to different people) is discouraged. We have members who have been involved in the war-tax resistance movement, and our choice to not have television here is partially rooted in wanting to avoid importing the violence often found in that medium.

We have a quite wide variety of intimate relationship styles at Twin Oaks. Some members are single, some are married, some are in non-married but long-term committed relationships, some have a series of relationships over time, some people are celibate, and some are polyamorous (in relationships with more than one person at a time). We have bisexual, lesbian, gay and heterosexual people living here. (plus some who would refuse to be labeled). There is no community norm about relationship choices--it's up to the individual. Unlike mainstream culture, we tend not to have social or economic rewards for choosing a particular relationship style.

Social Scene
We are very social creatures at Twin Oaks. We have all kinds of different social and cultural activities. We have innumerable on-going, weekly activities that are at least somewhat social in nature, and over time have included a singing group, a band, yoga class, juggling group, knitting group, art night, scrabble night, video nights, women's and men's groups, political discussion groups, etc. Events of a more purely social nature (dances, parties, games nights, etc.) also happen frequently. We also tend to socialize throughout the day, during work and at other times.We chat with each other, lay in the sun in hammocks, read, email, canoe on the river, play music, go to church, do political activism work, etc. However, members also take alone-time as needed, walking in the woods, spending time in their room, and other solitary pursuits. People can be as socially engaged or as solitary as they like, according to personal preference.

As a community, we purposefully have no one specific spiritual direction/path; the choice is left up to the individual. As a result, we have quite a variety. Many members practice no spiritual path or religion at all, and would be identified as atheist or agnostic. Our membership also includes Buddhists, Pagans, Christians of several (mostly progressive) varieties, and general "New Age" types.

In terms of religious observances: the community officially celebrates the Solstices and Equinoxes, usually with a day off of work, a party and an informal ritual. (all optional) There is a group of Pagans who gather throughout the year for more involved rituals. We host a local Quaker meeting, we sometimes have Friday night Shabbat gatherings, we sometimes have a meditation group, and sometimes members attend services at a nearby country church.


Twin Oaks collectively runs several community-owned businesses. This is how we earn the income needed to purchase that which we cannot provide for ourselves. Most members work in at least one of our businesses, and a good portion of members work in several of the businesses.

Our largest business is Twin Oaks Hammocks, in which we make and sell hammocks, both retail and wholesale. We sell them through our mail-order business, our webpage and at crafts fairs. Our second-largest business is Twin Oaks Community Foods, in which we produce and sell tofu, tempeh and soymilk. We sell primarily through organic/natural food distributors. Our third-largest business is Twin Oaks Indexing, our book indexing business, in which publishers send us a manuscript and we create the index for the back of the book. In addition to these three main businesses, we have many smaller businesses--our Women's Gathering and Communities Conference, herb workshops, we are hired by the Fellowship for Intentional Community to distribute the Communities Directory and magazine, we teach reading classes in town and more.

Twin Oaks is an income-sharing community. Members keep all assets they come with (they are frozen during membership), but all income from our community businesses goes to the collective; no one earns individual "wages" or a "salary". We all work approximately 40 hours in our community businesses and domestic areas (for example, cooking, gardening, building maintenance, etc.) and more or less in exchange for our work, community members receive everything we need including housing, food, clothing, health care, etc. That is the economic agreement between the individual and community. The money received from the businesses is pooled and each year we collectively decide how to allocate it to our various community budgets. Also, each member receives a small personal spending allowance ($75 a month) to cover items the community does not provide (e.g. chocolate, a trip to town to see a movie, etc.). Our tax status reflects our income-sharing--we are a 501(d) entity which is based on having a shared treasury, and is similar to a monastery. In addition to being a working model of a more equitable and just distribution of wealth, pooling our income allows us to be able to afford amenities that can benefit the entire community that would be difficult for one or two people to afford on their income alone.

Twin Oaks collectively owns a fleet of about 18 vehicles (including cars, pick-up trucks, cargo vans, and a mini-van) for our approximately 85 adult members. Members do not have personal vehicles. One of our core values is resource-sharing, and we're able to get all of our transportation needs met with vehicles shared by all of us. Most of our day-to-day interactions take place within the community. We don't need a car to commute to work since most of our work is done here. We have a group-shopping-and-errand-running system where one person goes into town every day and shops and does errands for people here, so that 15 people aren't taking 15 separate trips into town. We carpool a lot. Our vehicle-sharing is also related to our value of egalitarianism. One of the most concrete ways we do this is by creating a system where members have equal access to resources. Access to transportation is a powerful tool and we don't want some members to have access to their own transportation while others don't.

The community provides for all our basic needs--food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. Each member has their own private bedroom. The community will provide furniture (bed, lamp, dresser, etc.) or members can bring their own. Members bring their own clothing when they move here, and we also have Community Clothes aka "Commie Clothes" which provides additional clothing as members need it over time. Members can bring personal possessions with them (e.g. books, musical instrument, camera, stereo, CD's, computer, etc.) and whatever they keep in their room remains theirs. Other personal possessions can either be stored elsewhere (usually at family/friend's house), donated to the community, or lent to the community for the duration of the person's membership. Please also see our Property Code for more information.

Work is a significant part of life at Twin Oaks. People often invest a lot of their identity in the work they do here. Members work 42 hours each week, both in our collectively-owned businesses and also our domestic areas (see below). No one earns individual "wages" or a "salary"; in exchange for our work, community members receive everything we need including housing, food, clothing, health care, etc. That is the economic agreement between the individual and community.

We use a labor credit system to track our work. Every hour of work a member does is worth one labor-credit; each member needs to earn 42 labor credits each week (this system is adopted from Walden Two, the book on which we were founded). Every week we each get a labor sheet, which we each fill out ourselves with our own work preferences, and then hand in to the labor assigner, who makes sure that all the workshifts are filled for that week. The only work each member is required to do is one two-hour kitchen cleaning shift each week; all other work is decided by each member, according to personal preferences (indoor/outdoor, physical/sedentary, day/evening, etc.). Each day as we complete our work, we record it on our labor sheet, and at the end of the week we turn our sheets in to the Labor Manager. This both helps ourselves to keep track of how much work we've done, and also tracks labor as it relates to our community budgets.

There are many different types of work available at Twin Oaks; in addition to our community businesses, there is plenty of work in our domestic areas which include gardening, milking cows, building maintenance, office work, plumbing/electrical projects, cooking and baking, cleaning, childcare, computer work, bike repair, yardwork, sewing, carpentry, farmwork, forestry, as well as serving on the teams that manage various aspects of life here (Membership Team, Health Team, Child Board, Planners, etc.).

Membership & Visiting

We give tours of Twin Oaks almost every Saturday afternoon from March through October, and on most alternating Saturdays from November through February. Your tour guide will tell you about the history, culture and philosophy of the community and will be available to answer any questions you may have. The tour is from 2 - 5 PM, and much of this time is spent walking around the community. Please dress appropriately for the weather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and let us know if you have particular mobility needs. Do not bring pets. Phone (540) 894-5126 during regular business hours, or email us at our main email address, to make reservations. We will double-check that a tour is being offered on the date you want. (Sometimes we don't offer scheduled tours for various reasons.) We request a $5.00 donation per person for the tour.

Twin Oaks puts a lot of time and energy into our Visitor Program, and we haveThree-Week visitor periods scheduled throughout the year. We welcome people who think they might be interested in living at Twin Oaks as well as people who just want to spend three weeks experiencing the community but aren't interested in living here.

During the three-week program, visitors live together in our visitor building, work alongside members doing the work of the community, and attend orientations about the systems, policies and culture of our community, including the financial, legal, health, labor and governmental structures at Twin Oaks.

Visiting Twin Oaks is good way to learn an incredible amount about the workings of a thriving intentional community, and to meet a wide variety of people with quite diverse life experiences and knowledge. It's also a lot of fun! Lastly, a visitor period provides an opportunity for community members and people who think they may want to live here to get to know each other, and start to explore how good a fit there is between the visitor and the community.

Becoming a Member
Basically, in order to become a member, a person needs to be willing to abide by the agreements of the community (e.g. no personal cars, our income-sharing agreements, and lots more). They also need to be able to fit into our social norms which, because we live so closely together, are quite particular (e.g. being sensitive to people's "personal space", being able to pick up social cues, being able to be cooperative and share control, etc).

The process for membership involves an interview with the Membership Team during a Three-Week Visitor Period. The interview consists of telling one's life story, and answering questions about how one deals with various aspects of community living like conflict, anger, people with different values, etc. Then there is an input period during which all visitors leave Twin Oaks for some time, and have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and decide if they really do think they want to live here. During this time, each member of the community has an opportunity to give input on the visitor (Accept, Visit Again, or Reject for membership). If there are outstanding health (including mental health) issues those will also be taken into consideration. The Membership Team makes the final decision about a visitor becoming a member.

The primary internship that Twin Oaks offers is that of Conference Organizing, which involves helping to organize our two conferences (Women's Gathering and Communities Conference) which take place in late summer. That internship usually runs from spring to early autumn, although there's some flexibility. More details are available here. Some years we offer other internships; contact us for specifics for this year. If you are interested in interning here during another time of the year, or aren't interested in conference organizing but would like to spend a few months here, you might be interested in our Residency Program. Residents live in the community 2 - 6 months and participate in various aspects of life here. Please contact us for more information, and specifically mention that you are possibly interested in Residency.

Leaving / Being Asked to Leave
There are many different reasons people choose to leave the community, although they can be broken down into a few main categories. Sometimes the person wants to pursue a different life path (e.g. go back to school, travel, follow a certain career path). Sometimes the person has felt dissatisfied with their life for a while (like everyone does everywhere) and something happens to tip the scale for them to decide to leave (e.g. a relationship break-up, a difficult community issue, etc.). Sometimes the person decides they want a different lifestyle than we live (e.g. private housing, more individual money, etc.) and so they pursue that elsewhere.

On very very rare occasions we will ask a member to leave, if repeated instances of unacceptable behavior have occurred. (e.g. consistently not working enough, violent behavior, etc.) However, many steps are taken to try to address the behavior before asking someone to leave, and often a member who is having repeated difficulties will choose to leave before being asked to leave, when it becomes evident that it isn't working to live in the community.

Systems & Policies

Basic Values
Our basic guiding principles are cooperation, egalitarianism, income-sharing, and non-violence. We are a member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, which is an organization made up of communities which share those values.

Our decision-making model is based on the Walden Two Planner-Manager system combined with our egalitarian values. Managers are responsible for the day-to-day decisions for their area. For community-wide decisions and larger issues, the Planners (3 rotating members) make decisions by looking at our bylaws and policies, and by soliciting community input by posting papers for comment, holding community meetings, putting out surveys, talking with members (especially members that are closely involved in the issue or have strong feelings), etc. They don't make decisions based on their personal preference, but rather by gathering information and determining the larger will of the community on a given issue. Any member can appeal a Planner decision they feel is unfair, although this rarely happens as Planners generally do a pretty good job at considering all the aspects of a given issue. The community as a whole does not use consensus for making decisions, but some decision-making bodies within the community use consensus to make their decisions. (eg. the Membership Team)

In keeping with our egalitarian values, we all have a voice in making the decisions about how to spend our collective money and labor during each year.s economic planning. The Managers and Planners put out their proposed economic plan, and each member can alter the plan according to their values and preferences (eg. I can cut the office budget, and shift that money/labor to the garden budget instead, if I want). Once every member who wants to has done this, the Planners synthesize everyone.s changes to create the final budget.

Egalitarianism is one of our primary values. Each member here has equal access to our decision-making process; we all have a voice in making decisions, unlike hierarchical communities where a sub-group of the community or a single individual makes decisions for the whole.

This value also plays out in how we share our resources. We all have an equal opportunity to access our resources; there is no individual or group here that has access to community resources that others don't. We have no structured inequality as can be found in the mainstream (one example: there is no disparity here between what women and men or new members and long-term members receive as compensation for their labor). However, we also balance this with our creed "From everyone according to co's abilities, to everyone according to co's needs". ("co" is our gender-neutral pronoun that means "s/he".)

We are a member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, an organization of communities that value egalitarianism, income-sharing, non-violence and cooperation.

Health Care
Once someone becomes a full member of the community, the community provides for all basic healthcare needs. Our Health Team oversees all health care issues, and we support both allopathic ("western") medicine as well as alternative healing modalities, as our annual budget allows.

The community stocks all sorts of remedies for common problems - everything from aspirin to homeopathic remedies to tinctures made from our own herbs. We also provide some on-the-farm alternative care such as massage, reiki, etc. Because of our income-sharing, our members often qualify for state-subsidized health care at medical facilities in the area. Sometimes it will happen that we have a member who is a health-care practitioner, and to the extent that person is qualified and willing to treat members, that can be an option for those members who feel comfortable with it. We are also part of a larger mutual aid health care program for intentional communities.

We live collectively in residences of approximately ten to twenty people. Each member has their own private bedroom, and the living rooms, bathroom and kitchen are shared public space. We have a total of 7 residences (each named after a historic community) and they each have their own distinct style. New members are assigned to a room wherever space is available, and as other people move and rooms become available, the member can find a room in a residence that is suited to them.

Families & Kids

Child Care
We started out with a completely communal child-care system modeled after the Israeli kibbutzim, in which children lived in a special child house and were cared for in shifts by "metas". However, the system eventually proved unsatisfactory to parents, who wanted more contact with and responsibility for their children. So now a certain number of childcare labor credits are allotted per child, more for infants and less for older kids; parents generally take some of these credits themselves and give the rest to other adults who help. Non-parent adults who commit to spending regular time with specific kids are called primaries. Depending on the preferences of individual parents and kids, some kids are cared for almost solely by their parents and some kids spend much more of their time with primaries. There is no one who just does childcare and housework. Both parents and primaries frequently bring kids with them while they work; for example, in the hammock shop, the kitchen, etc.

Children at Twin Oaks have several choices for education. Some attend public schools in town. Some are home-schooled by their parents and other community members. In the past some of our children have gone to an alternative private school (Montessori), and, just like any family, we had to make decisions based on what we could afford and how much financial aid we could receive. The choice about what type of schooling each child will have is up to the parent(s) and child to decide.


Twin Oaks was founded in 1967 by a group of people who were studying psychologist BF Skinner's book about a fictional behaviorist community, called Walden Two. They were so impressed and intrigued by his fictional community that they decided to create a real-life community modeled after it. A supporter leased the land to Twin Oaks for 3 years for $50 with an option to buy at the end of that time if the group was still in existence, which it was and which we did. After a few years, we stopped defining ourselves as a "behaviorist" community, although we still use the labor credit system and the Planner-Manager system of self-government originally described in the book. We have also bought more land since that time, mostly contiguous but also about 50 acres of non-contiguous agricultural land up the road. Our current total acreage is 465 acres.

Walden Two
Twin Oaks was founded in 1967, based on the book Walden Two by BF Skinner. The book described Skinner's vision of what a community would look like if his principles of behaviorism were practiced. The book was the blueprint for the original forming of the community.

The community has changed significantly since we were founded. We no longer identify ourselves as a "behaviorist community", and haven't for a long long time. However, we have kept several of the features from the book, most notably the Planner-Manager decision-making model and the labor-credit work system. Some of our members have read Walden Two, but the majority are not very familiar with it. BF Skinner did visit Twin Oaks twice. When he was here in 1979, his visit was featured on the PBS program "Nova".

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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, July 14, 2009 1 comments

Sunday, July 12, 2009

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Pew Research Center: Religious People Accept TORTURE more often ...

Amid intense public debate over the use of torture against suspected terrorists, an analysis by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life of a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press illustrates differences in the views of four major religious traditions in the U.S. about whether torture of suspected terrorists can be justified. Differences in opinion on this issue also are apparent based on frequency of attendance at religious services.

However, statistical analysis that simultaneously examines correlations between views on torture, partisanship, ideology and demographic variables (including religion, education, race, etc.) finds that party and ideology are much better predictors of views on torture than are religion and most other demographic factors (See "The Torture Debate: A Closer Look"). Of course, religion itself is known to be a strong factor shaping individuals' partisanship and political ideology. Attitudes about torture are likely to reflect both moral judgments and political considerations - both of which may be formed in part by religious convictions - about circumstances under which torture may be justified.

Data from a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 14-21, 2009, among 742 American adults. Other religious groups are not reported due to small sample sizes.

Question wording: Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?

No sightseeing while walking
No walking while sightseeing

A shark carcass on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, where plastic particles outnumber sand grains until you dig down about a foot Photo: ALGALITA MARINE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Richard Grant reports on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and a new expedition that aims to make us reassess our relationship with plastic. Illustrations by Brett Ryder

Way out in the Pacific Ocean, in an area once known as the doldrums, an enormous, accidental monument to modern society has formed. Invisible to satellites, poorly understood by scientists and perhaps twice the size of France, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not a solid mass, as is sometimes imagined, but a kind of marine soup whose main ingredient is floating plastic debris.

It was discovered in 1997 by a Californian sailor, surfer, volunteer environmentalist and early-retired furniture restorer named Charles Moore, who was heading home with his crew from a sailing race in Hawaii, at the helm of a 50ft catamaran that he had built himself.

For the hell of it, he decided to turn on the engine and take a shortcut across the edge of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a region that seafarers have long avoided. It is a perennial high pressure zone, an immense slowly spiralling vortex of warm equatorial air that pulls in winds and turns them gently until they expire. Several major sea currents also converge in the gyre and bring with them most of the flotsam from the Pacific coasts of Southeast Asia, North America, Canada and Mexico. Fifty years ago nearly all that flotsam was biodegradable. These days it is 90 per cent plastic.

'It took us a week to get across and there was always some plastic thing bobbing by,' says Moore, who speaks in a jaded, sardonic drawl that occasionally flares up into heartfelt oratory. 'Bottle caps, toothbrushes, styrofoam cups, detergent bottles, pieces of polystyrene packaging and plastic bags. Half of it was just little chips that we couldn't identify. It wasn't a revelation so much as a gradual sinking feeling that something was terribly wrong here. Two years later I went back with a fine-mesh net, and that was the real mind-boggling discovery.'

Floating beneath the surface of the water, to a depth of 10 metres, was a multitude of small plastic flecks and particles, in many colours, swirling like snowflakes or fish food. An awful thought occurred to Moore and he started measuring the weight of plastic in the water compared to that of plankton. Plastic won, and it wasn't even close. 'We found six times more plastic than plankton, and this was just colossal,' he says. 'No one had any idea this was happening, or what it might mean for marine ecosystems, or even where all this stuff was coming from.'

So ended Moore's retirement. He turned his small volunteer environmental monitoring group into the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, enlisted scientists, launched public awareness campaigns and devoted all his considerable energies to exploring what would become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and studying the broader problem of marine plastic pollution, which is accumulating in all the world's oceans.

The world's navies and commercial shipping fleets make a significant contribution, he discovered, throwing some 639,000 plastic containers overboard every day, along with their other litter. But after a few more years of sampling ocean water in
the gyre and near the mouths of Los Angeles streams, and comparing notes with scientists in Japan and Britain, Moore concluded that 80 per cent of marine plastic was initially discarded on land, and the United Nations Environmental Programme agrees.

The wind blows plastic rubbish out of littered streets and landfills, and lorries and trains on their way to landfills. It gets into rivers, streams and storm drains and then rides the tides and currents out to sea. Litter dropped by people at the beach is also a major source.

Plastic does not biodegrade; no microbe has yet evolved that can feed on it. But it does photodegrade. Prolonged exposure to sunlight causes polymer chains to break down into smaller and smaller pieces, a process accelerated by physical friction, such as being blown across a beach or rolled by waves. This accounts for most of the flecks and fragments in the enormous plastic soup at the becalmed heart of the Pacific, but Moore also found a fantastic profusion of uniformly shaped pellets about 2mm across.

Nearly all the plastic items in our lives begin as these little manufactured pellets of raw plastic resin, which are known in the industry as nurdles. More than 100 billion kilograms of them are shipped around the world every year, delivered to processing plants and then heated up, treated with other chemicals, stretched and moulded into our familiar products, containers and packaging.

During their loadings and unloadings, however, nurdles have a knack for spilling and escaping. They are light enough to become airborne in a good wind. They float wonderfully and can now be found in every ocean in the world, hence their new nickname: mermaids' tears. You can find nurdles in abundance on almost any seashore in Britain, where litter has increased by 90 per cent in the past 10 years, or on the remotest uninhabited Pacific islands, along with all kinds of other plastic confetti.

'There's no such thing as a pristine sandy beach any more,' Charles Moore says. 'The ones that look pristine are usually groomed, and if you look closely you can always find plastic particles. On Kamilo Beach in Hawaii there are now more plastic particles than sand particles until you dig a foot down. On Pagan Island [between Hawaii and the Philippines] they have what they call the "shopping beach". If the islanders need a cigarette lighter, or some flip-flops, or a toy, or a ball for their kids, they go down to the shopping beach and pick it out of all the plastic trash that's washed up there from thousands of miles away.'

On Midway Island, 2,800 miles west of California and 2,200 miles east of Japan, the British wildlife filmmaker Rebecca Hosking found that many thousands of Laysan albatross chicks are dying every year from eating pieces of plastic that their parents mistake for food and bring back for them.

Worldwide, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, plastic is killing a million seabirds a year, and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles. It kills by entanglement, most commonly in discarded synthetic fishing lines and nets. It kills by choking throats and gullets and clogging up digestive tracts, leading to fatal constipation. Bottle caps, pocket combs, cigarette lighters, tampon applicators, cottonbud shafts, toothbrushes, toys, syringes and plastic shopping bags are routinely found in the stomachs of dead seabirds and turtles.

A study of fulmar carcases that washed up on North Sea coastlines found that 95 per cent had plastic in their stomachs – an average of 45 pieces per bird.

Plastic particles are not thought to be toxic themselves but they attract and accumulate chemical poisons already in the water such as DDT and PCBs – nurdles have a special knack for this. Plastic has been found inside zooplankton and filter-feeders such as mussels and barnacles; the worry is that these plastic pellets and associated toxins are travelling through the marine food chains into the fish on our plates. Scientists don't know because they are only just beginning to study it.

We do know that whales are ingesting plenty of plastic along with their plankton, and that whales have high concentrations of DDT, PCBs and mercury in their flesh, but that's not proof. The whales could be getting their toxins directly from the water or by other vectors.

Research on marine plastic debris is still in its infancy and woefully underfunded, but we know that there are six major subtropical gyres in the world's oceans – their combined area amounts to a quarter of the earth's surface – and that they are all accumulating plastic soup.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has now been tentatively mapped into an east and west section and the combined weight of plastic there is estimated at three million tons and increasing steadily. It appears to be the big daddy of them all, but we do not know for sure.

Dr Pearn Niiler of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in San Diego, the world's leading authority on ocean currents, thinks that there is an even bigger garbage patch in the South Pacific, in the vicinity of Easter Island, but no scientists have yet gone to look.

The French cultural theorist Paul Virilio observed that every new technology opens the possibility for a new form of accident. By inventing the locomotive, you also invent derailments. By inventing the aeroplane, you create plane crashes and mid-air collisions.

When Leo Baekeland, a Belgian chemist, started tinkering around in his garage in Yonkers, New York, working on the first synthetic polymer, who could have foreseen that a hundred years later plastic would outweigh plankton six-to-one in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?

Baekeland was trying to mimic shellac, a natural polymer secreted by the Asian scale beetle and used at the time to coat electrical wires. In 1909 he patented a mouldable hard plastic that he called Bakelite, and which made him very rich indeed.

Chemists were soon experimenting with variations, breaking down the long hydrocarbon chains in crude petroleum into smaller ones and mixing them together, adding chlorine to get PVC, introducing gas to get polystyrene. Nylon was invented in 1935 and found its first application in stockings, and then after the Second World War came acrylics, foam rubber, polythene, polyurethane, Plexi­glass and more: an incredible outpouring of new plastic products and the revolution of clear plastic food wraps and containers, which preserved food longer and allowed people to live much further away from where it was produced.

Single-use plastic bags first appeared in the US in 1957 and in British supermarkets in the late 1960s; worldwide there are more than a trillion manufactured every year, although the upward trend is now levelling off and falling in many countries, including Britain. We reduced our plastic bag use by 26 per cent last year, to 9.9 billion. Bottled water entered the mass market in the mid-1980s. Global consumption is now 200 billion litres a year and only one in five of those plastic bottles is recycled. The total global production of plastic, which was five million tons in the 1950s, is expected to hit 260 million tons this year.

Look around you. Start counting things made of plastic and don't forget your buttons, the stretch in your underwear, the little caps on the end of your shoelaces. The stuff is absolutely ubiquitous, forming the most basic infrastructure of modern consumer society. We are scarely out of the womb when we meet our first plastic: wristband, aspirator, thermometer, disposable nappy. We gnaw on plastic teething rings and for the rest of our lives scarcely pass a moment away from plastics.

The benefits of plastic, most of which relate to convenience, consumer choice and profit, have been phenomenal. But except for the small percentage that has been incinerated, every single molecule of plastic that has ever been manufactured is still somewhere in the environment, and some 100 million tons of it are floating in the oceans.

A dead albatross was found recently with a piece of plastic from the 1940s in its stomach. Even if plastic production halted tomorrow, the planet would be dealing with its environmental consequences for thousands of years, and on the bottom of the oceans, where an estimated 70 per cent of marine plastic debris ends up – water bottles sink fairly quickly – for tens of thousands of years. It may form a layer in the geological record of the planet, or some microbe may evolve that can digest plastic and find itself supplied with a vast food resource. In the meantime, what can we do?

What we cannot do is clean up the plastic in the oceans. 'It's the biggest misunderstanding people have on this issue,' Moore says. 'They think the ocean is like a lake and we can go out with nets and just clean it up. People find it difficult to grasp the true size of the oceans and the fact that most of this plastic is in tiny pieces and it's everywhere. All we can do is stop putting more of it in, and that means redesigning our relationship with plastic.'

At the far end of a huge loading warehouse on the San Francisco docks dub reggae is pulsing and two young women are shooting dry ice into two-litre plastic bottles. David de Rothschild, the tall, bearded, long-haired, environmentalist son of the Rothschild banking family, wearing hemp Nikes and a skull-and-bones belt buckle, strides in past a display of nurdles, an aquarium full of plastic soup and various rejected prototypes of the catamaran he intends to build and sail across the Pacific to Australia, visiting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and various rubbish-strewn islands along the way.

He wants the boat to be made entirely out of recycled plastics and float on recycled plastic bottles, and this has presented a daunting challenge to his team of designers, consultants and naval architects. Human ingenuity has devised many fine applications for recycled plastic, but boat-building has not so far been one of them. The design team has had to start from scratch, over and over again. Furthermore, because the point of this voyage is to galvanise media and public attention on the issue of plastic waste, the boat needs to look dramatic and iconic, and it must produce all its own energy, generate no emissions and compost its waste.

'The message of this project is that plastic's not the enemy,' de Rothschild says, speaking rapidly and unstoppably in a mid-Atlantic accent. He is full of bright energy, good humour, marketing slogans and an almost childlike enthusiasm. 'It's about rethinking waste as a resource. It's about doing smart things with plastic and showcasing solutions. It's about using adventure to engage people and start a conversation that creates change in society. You're always going to get people who say, "Oh, he's a bloody Rothschild, sitting on a boat made of, what's that? Champagne bottles?" And that's fine because it gets people talking about it and thinking about where their rubbish goes.'

The idea took hold of him in July 2006. He had just got back from the North Pole, where he led an expedition designed to heighten awareness about global warming. On the internet he came across a UN report describing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and estimating that there was now an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of the world's oceans. 'I thought, this is nuts that we don't know about this! Six-to-one plastic-to-plankton ratio? This has got to be my next expedition.'

Born in London, de Rothschild, 31, was a reckless, hyperactive child and teenager who found an outlet for energies in competitive showjumping and triathlons. His school career was erratic but he manage to buckle himself down, pass his A-levels and get into Oxford Brookes University to study computing. Afterwards he got a job with a music licensing and merchandising company, designing websites for Britney Spears and U2, and absorbing lasting lessons on the power and strategies of marketing.

Then, with the encouragement of a girlfriend, he got deeply involved in alternative medicine, which led him to organic farming in New Zealand and the subsequent realisation that it was all for naught if the air, the water and the natural environment continued to be poisoned.

In 2004 a friend's brother invited him on a 1,150-mile traverse of Antarctica by foot and ski, and on a whim he invited schoolteachers and children in New Zealand to follow the expedition's progress and learn about Antarctica.

On his return he founded an organisation, Adventure Ecology, intended to use expeditions to get schoolchildren interested and actively involved in environmental issues. The Arctic global warming expedition was the first. Crossing the Pacific in a recycled-plastic boat will be the second.

He decided to name the boat Plastiki, in homage to Kon-Tiki, the raft of balsa logs and hemp ropes in which Thor Heyerdahl sailed across the Pacific in 1947. He recruited designers, a public relations team and corporate sponsors, including Hewlett-Packard and the Inter­national Watch Company. He won't say how much it is costing or how much of his own money is going into it, only that it is more than he would like and less than it could be.

Jo Royle, the renowed British yachtswoman, has signed on as skipper, and two of Thor Heyerdahl's grandchildren have agreed to join the crew. And through Adventure Ecology, de Rothschild has launched a competition called SMART, inviting individuals and organisations from science, marketing, art and industrial design research and technology to present tangible solutions to the problems of plastic waste, and offering grants and publicity to the winners.

In general terms, it is already clear what we need to do about plastic. Since it is made from oil, which will run out in our lifetimes and get more expensive as it does, we have to start re-using plastic and designing it for re-use. At present only a few of our many hundred plastics can simply be melted down and moulded into something else; the rest are cross-contaminated with other chemicals and types of plastic. But the billion- dollar plastic industry is tooled for virgin plastic and resistant to change.

Charles Moore gives talks to plastic industry executives whenever he can and finds very little interest in recycling, because it's the least profitable sector of the industry. 'A lot of companies and product designers and marketing people don't like recycled plastic either,' de Rothschild says, 'You can't dye it with those bright, attention-grabbing colours.'

For consumers, the easiest way to make a difference is to give up plastic shopping bags and plastic water bottles, which contribute more to plastic pollution than any other products. Then comes plastic packaging, which is a little more complicated. It is easy to point out examples of excessive packaging, but plastic does have the virtue of being lighter than paper, cardboard and glass, which gives it a smaller carbon footprint. For food especially, recyclable plastic packaging is probably the best option.

For the hull and cabin of the Plastiki, the team was enthused about recycled plastic lumber until they discovered that it sags badly unless reinforced with glass rods. Now they are excited about self-reinforcing PET, a new product manufactured in Denmark, similar to fibreglass but fully recycled and recyclable. When heat-fused to boards of PET foam, it appears to be capable of withstanding the battering of Pacific waves for a hundred days, although the effect of salt water on the material is still unknown. Dry ice in the two-litre bottles hardens them without losing any flotation, although some of the bottle caps have managed to work themselves loose and are now being resealed with what de Rothschild calls 'a very cool bio-glue' made from cashew nuts and sugar.

Sitting now with a pint of beer and an artichoke in a restaurant opposite the waterfront, he is confident that the Plastiki will be built and on its way to Australia some time this summer. 'We do need to get from A to B but what this project is really about is remarketing and rebranding the message about recycling, about sustainability, about interconnectedness,' he says. What he sees as the failure of the environmental movement, as measured by ever-increasing carbon emissions, rainforest destruction, species extinctions and marine plastic debris, he understands as a failure of marketing and communication, rather than insurmountable forces working in the opposite direction.

'The environmental message has been very exclusive, very guilt-mongering, very fear-mongering, and is that the right way to engage with people? We're bombarded by 2,500 images a day. How are you going to stop someone watching Lost and make them watch someone saying, "You're a bad person because you don't drive a hybrid"? To effect change, you've got to inspire people, not moan at them.'

After another pint, he admits to serious doubts – not that the Plastiki will get built and complete its voyage, but that it is still possible to save the oceans from ecological collapse. Overfishing is the most urgent problem, but what really scares him and the marine scientists is acidification caused by global warming. The oceans are absorbing more and more of the carbon dioxide that we are putting into the air and it is changing the pH of the water, turning the seas more acid, with potentially catastrophic effects on marine organisms and ecosystems.

'A lot of scientists think we're basically screwed, but what are you going to do?' he asks. 'Enjoy your beer, enjoy your family, make the most of it while it lasts? I think there's a real big movement for that at the moment and part of me understands that. But there's a bigger part of me that says we've got to find a solution, collectively. I mean, come on. We spent $265 billion preparing for the Y2K bug and we didn't even know if it was going to happen or not. We know for an absolute fact that if we continue on our current rate of consumption, we're going to run out of resources. But the annual budget for the United National Environmental Programme last year was $190 million. And the budget for the latest James Bond movie was $205 million.'

He chuckles at that, checks his watch and calls for the bill. It is time to walk the dogs and then work the second half of his standard 17-hour day. Outside, he points to San Francisco bay, looking pristine and lovely in the late afternoon sunshine. 'Maybe that's the trouble,' he says. 'You'd never guess what's under the surface if you didn't know, would you?' ;

How can you say you love her if you can’t even eat her poop?

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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, July 12, 2009 0 comments

Biggest Bankruptcies

click to enlarge - source: GOOD MAGAZINE

#1: Lehman Brothers

With General Motors becoming the 99th American company this year to go under, the current year may go into record books with a dubious distinction of having maximum number of public company bankruptcies.

So far, the record is held by 2001, when as many as 263 companies filed for bankruptcy in the entire 12 months.


However, the average for both 2001 and the current year are almost same at about 20 bankruptcies a month or about five in a week. Taking into account the fact that there are only five working days in a week, the average could also be termed as one publicly-held company going belly up every working day.

Washington Mutual

#2: Washington Mutual

While it remains to be seen whether 2009 would break the record of 2001 in terms of number of bankruptcies, it has already breached all records in terms of the assets of the companies seeking bankruptcy protection.

Already, three of this year’s bankrupt companies — GM, Chrysler and Thornburg Mortgage — have found place among the 10 biggest ever bankruptcies in the American history.


#3: WorldCom

GM’s is the fourth biggest so far, while it is the largest ever industrial bankruptcy in the US.

The biggest bankruptcy in 2001 was that of energy giant Enron, which is now the fifth biggest company to go under in the American history.

2006 GM TEN Event - Stacy Keibler

#4: General Motors

In terms of employees too, GM, with a staff size of 243,000, is probably the second biggest ever bankruptcy.

It is only next to retailer KMart Corp, now part of Sears Holdings, which had about 10,000 more employees when it filed for bankruptcy in 2002.


#5: Enron

Taking into account the last few months of 2007, the current economic crisis has accounted for five out of the 10 biggest ever bankruptcies in the US.

Making the current crisis even worse, the five new entrants to this dubious league account for more than 80 per cent of the top ten in terms of the asset size of the bankrupt companies.

The five bankruptcies in the current economic crisis together account for assets worth about $1.2 trillion, as against about $250 billion for the rest five.

#6. Conseco

GM is the fourth biggest ever bankruptcy candidate in the US, next only to those of Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and WorldCom.

Lehman Brothers and WaMu also went belly up in the current economic crisis itself, while that of once iconic telecom brand WorldCom happened in 2002.


#7: Chrysler

Another auto giant Chrysler fell into bankruptcy about a month ago and is the seventh biggest so far in the US history.

Energy giant Enron in 2001 and insurance and finance major Conseco in 2002 are the fifth and sixth biggest ever bankruptcies respectively so far.


#8: Thornburg Mortgage

Others in top 10 bankruptcy list include residential mortgage lender Thornburg Mortgage Inc (eighth), electricity and natural gas firm Pacific Gas and Electric Company (ninth) and petroleum major Texaco (tenth).

Among these, Lehman, WaMu, GM, Chrysler and Thornburg fell victims to the current economic crisis, while others happened in late 80s or early this decade.


#9: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Lehman became the first major victim of the current crisis when it went bankrupt on September 15, 2008 with assets worth $691 billion and debt of $613 billion.

It was soon followed by the country’s largest savings and loan holding company WaMu, which went bankrupt on September 26, 2008, and its $327 billion asset was immediately sold to J P Morgan Chase for mere $1.9 billion.


Image: Oil giant Texaco rounds off the list at No 10.

#10: Texaco

The auto sector started falling apart a few months later and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30, 2009, with assets worth $ 39.3 billion. The very next day, Thornburg Mortgage followed with assets of $ 36.5 billion.

GM has become the latest to join the list as fourth biggest bankruptcy with assets worth $91 billion.

The third biggest bankruptcy candidate so far, WorldCom, had gone belly up in July 2002 with $107 billion.

Besides, Enron had gone bankrupt in December 2001 with $63.4 billion in assets, while Conseco filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2002 with assets worth $65.5 billion.

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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, July 12, 2009 0 comments