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With children no longer the universally accepted reason for marriage, marriages are going to have to exist on their own merits.

                    --Eleanor Holmes Norton

Posted on July 26, 2008 at 01:46 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Very cool story in the Chronicle about a woman who found a simple way to radically transform the quality of life for girls in Nepal.

In the southern Dang district, rural Tharu farming families trapped in extreme poverty - earning less than a dollar a day - were making horrible sacrifices: selling their daughters as domestic slaves to wealthy Kathmandu families for $35 to $75.

"These girls are 7, 8, 9 and 10, and no one was checking up on them," said Murray, 83. "I was shocked."

That was in 1989. Her solution to break the practice has since made her a philanthropic legend in the area...

...Murray and Paneru have since steered 3,000 girls away from slavery and all but eradicated the long-held tradition of indentured servitude in the Tharu village.


Posted on July 22, 2008 at 08:57 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Science, public domain, conservation 2008

My lovely long weekend is about to end so here's a quick set of things I've been meaning to tell you about:

Increase science knowledge among students in Florida with this Donors Choose project.

Easily calculate public domain works in the U.S. with the American Library Association's "Is it in Copyright?" digital slider tool.

What if America as a nation had risen to the challenge President Carter laid out for us on July 15, 1979? Solid steps to energy independence, funding from windfall profits taxes, $10 billion invested in public transportation,

"We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our nation's strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives."

He said "there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems" and he was right. Those problems didn't go away between now and then; they just got worse and more time-critical.

Lest you think that's all just hypothetical, compare the U.S. approach to foreign oil use to Japan's:

In Japan, on the other hand, the government and private companies have stayed on course since the First Oil Shock. Despite the doubling of Japan's gross domestic product during the 1970s and 1980s, its annual overall levels of energy consumption have remained unchanged. Today, Japan uses only half as much energy for every dollar's worth of economic activity as the European Union or the United States. In addition, national and local authorities have continually enforced strict energy-conservation standards for new buildings.

It is, again, Japan that has made significant progress when it comes to renewable sources of energy. By 2006, for instance, it was responsible for producing almost half of total global solar power, well ahead of the U.S., even though it was an American, Russell Ohl, who invented the silicon solar cell, the building block of solar photovoltaic panels, which convert sunshine into electricity.

Does it take behavior change? Yes. However,

Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?
                                       --Marian Wright Edelman

Posted on July 21, 2008 at 07:11 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The climate is changing, we need to change too. 2008

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has (finally) reported that climate change is impacting our weather and that this warming world is directly related to human activities which increase  the atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. U.S. government scientists conclude that droughts, heavy downpours, excessive heat, and intense hurricanes are likely to become more commonplace in the United States as we continue to increase global warming pollution in the atmosphere. [full report]

If you ever needed a reason to join the movement to solve the climate crisis, this is it. Please join me by signing up for the We Campaign, a powerful nonpartisan movement of concerned citizens, founded by someone for whom I have tremendous respect, Nobel Prize Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore. We're already almost a million and a half strong -- and growing each day:

This crisis can be solved and we have the ability to do so if we all rise to the challenge.

Learn more at WeCanSolveIt.org

Posted on July 21, 2008 at 03:39 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thirty countries! 2008

I just made another microloan through Kiva; this time to a group of women in Mali. This brings me to 30 countries I've invested in. Great to have these connections building all over the world.

Posted on July 21, 2008 at 03:16 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

And the big fool says to push on... 2008

Listening to Dick Gaughan's version of Pete Seeger's Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and thinking about Iraq, tax cuts, global warming...

Posted on July 15, 2008 at 09:12 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A share in two revolutions is living to some purpose.

                                            --Thomas Paine

Posted on July 14, 2008 at 07:56 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gary Vaynerchuk & Wine Library TV 2008

After seeing him speak in Kathy Sierra's session at SXSW Interactive this spring and hearing the buzz about how much he opens wine up as a topic anyone can be knowledgeable on without being a snob, I decided to give the show a try sometime.

It's a testimony to two things - my overall bias toward spirits & cocktail mixing and how stupid goddamn busy I've been since March - that I didn't get around to it until last night.

He has a reputation for a great, approachable show, and being a bit fussy about liking to begin at the beginning I figured I'd go back to the first episode and put up with watching him work up to speed. They're currently up around episode 500 so I thought this was a bold move when it comes to podcasts and might take lot of watching. Nope.

Episode #2, he's clearly in stride, rockin' the house, and I totally understand his reputation.

If you like wine and want to be smarter about which wines to drink and buy, check Gary Vaynerchuk out.

Posted on July 11, 2008 at 08:57 AM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (1)

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.          

--Mark Twain

Posted on July 5, 2008 at 11:36 AM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

cheerful evening 2008

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Posted on July 2, 2008 at 12:00 PM in friends & family | Permalink | Comments (0)

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