Type Fast and Without Your Fingers

Writers--especially those who have carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or arthritis--rejoice. You may now type without your hands. Using a microphone, a computer and a software package called Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10, you will discover an easy and fast method of writing. Even better, there is not a large learning curve involved in using the software with your computer (see the film above).

Think about it! No longer will you have to wait for your fingers to catch up to your mind. No longer will you discover after typing a paragraph that your fingers were not on the home keys when you began.

Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Basic with Discount Coupon Code

I tried Dragon NaturallySpeaking, or its predecessor, when it was first released in the early 2000s. At the time I was developing training plans for teachers to use technology in the ESL/GED classroom. The teachers loved it! Two of the teachers wrote mini-grants to get the funds to buy the software and upgrade their computers.

Would you like to try writing without typing? If you wish to take advantage of these coupons, please realize they expire TODAY.
Recently, I have read many blog posts about how easy it is to blog with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10.

Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Basic with Discount Coupon Code In fact, I have thought about purchasing Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10. As the great procrastinator, I am waiting for the last moment to make my purchase.

Luckily, if I purchase the software by 23:59 tonight, I will be able to take the deduction on my 2008 business tax return.


Blog Your Blessing : Earthrise

My brother worked at NASA 40 years ago. I remember when he brought home a picture of the first Earthrise. The engineers had designed a Christmas postcard featuring the Earthrise. I have tried to recreate it.

We must remember the magical time when we first explored space. How beautiful Earth looked from orbit. How glad we were to get home. The magic is still there. It is us who have lost our way. Let us journey spaceward again . . . after we have mended what we have done on Earth. This is my wish for 2009.

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

What to Call a Fake Facebook Group?

Buzz Marketing Daily: Facebookgate #2013 Raises Great Points About Authenticity & Social Media in Higher Ed

College Prowler, whose motto is the ONLY college guides written by students for students, hired interns to create 250+ Class of 2013 groups on Facebook. There was a core group of members in all 250+ groups. Supposedly the members were high school seniors; however, when investigated, several of the members of the groups had already graduated from college.

There’s something going down on Facebook. Pay attention. | SquaredPeg

Brad J. Ward of SquaredPeg found the following ad on Craigs list (it has been deleted since).
Viral Marketing Internship (Spring Semester)
An internship that combines the addicting glory of facebook with viral marketing? It’s true. College Prowler Inc., the Pittsburgh-based publisher of the only complete series of college insiders’ guides written by students, is actively seeking an unpaid viral marketing intern who has a solid understanding of the web, social networking, and interactive marketing.
This is mind boggling to me. If the interns had spent the same amount of time setting up real groups and recorded a viral video, fun contest or giveaway, the social network would have worked.

Honesty is not optional and deception is always exposed. Ask Edelman, Zipatoni, McDonalds and Sony. All these companies have launched fake blogs, supposedly written by "real people."

What to call a fake Facebook group? Fooks? Fookers?

Google: No Support for Blogger.com

Update 9:44 PM. Evidently the squeaky wheels gets the grease. My Endangered Spaces blog is now allowing me to edit my posts. I still cannot export my blog, but I will settle for one miracle at a time.

I have been unable to edit posts on my blog, Endangered Spaces since 12/19. I also cannot export the blog.

I have been to the Help groups and reported the error (bx) code to http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help/web/report-your-bx-code-bug-here. There are so many people having problems with these codes and no one is there from Google to help. There are some bloggers (God bless them!) that are trying to help, but they cannot handle Blogger issues.

I had a comment on one of my blogs about my profile being inaccessible. It was set to private. My profile has been public for four years. I have a link from everyone of my blogs to my profile. Then I noticed that in my profile, the ABOUT ME section was about someone else.

People with custom domains hosted on Blogger are also having problems. I hate to be a pessimist, but it is like Blogger is going to implode.

I would suggest that everyone who uses Blogger (blogspot) protect themselves:

Under BASIC SETTINGS there is a export blog function that has been added. I would advise everyone to backup their posts and comments using this option.

Under LAYOUT EDIT HTML, check expand widgets and copy and paste your complete template to a text editor (like notepad). Do not use Word for this.

VIEW BLOG and highlight your sidebars, one at a time. View SELECTION SOURCE (on browser menu VIEW) and copy and past your widget contents to a text editor (like notepad). Do not use Word for this.

If you do these things, you can recreate your blog if Blogger does breakdown. What a Christmas that would be, huh?

Anyone else having problems?

----------------------My BX code-----------------------------

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help
Group, please:

* Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
* Provide the following error code and additional information.

Additional information
blogID: 18857559
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /posts.g

This information will help us to track down your specific problem and
fix it! We apologize for the inconvenience.


Blog Your Blessing: Christmas Season

During the coming Christmas season,
May you be blessed . . .

With the spirit of the season,
which is peace,

The gladness of the season,
which is hope,

And the heart of the season,
which is love.

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Internet Explorer Has Major Security Flaw

Security experts have disclosed a major security flaw in all versions of Internet Explorer from IE5 to the latest beta of IE8. In fact, this flaw exploiting a problem in the Internet Explorer(IE) software which has existed from the day it was launched.

You should switch to another browser, like Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera, as none of them are affected.

Currently, 10,000 gaming websites are infected with the code needed to take advantage of this flaw in IE, which infects your computer with a trojan. It is just a matter of time before the code propagates across the Internet.

Microsoft suggests you set your Internet security settings to high and other workarounds that DO NOT WORK.

You should switch to another browser, like Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera, as none of them are affected.

Read more at The Daily Telegraph or BBC

Need Web Hosting? Ask the Geeks!

Are you looking for web hosting for your blog or website? There are so many choices for hosting that it is almost impossible to compare them all. Fortunately, WebHostingGeeks.com has done most of the work for us.

They list the top 10 web hosting services, with independent reviews by webmasters and customers of the best web-hosting providers. The website compares services like multiple domain hosting and free domain names, as well as the free advertising and free marketing credits included.

Also on the site, you may find out which host won the award for best budget hosting, best blog hosting or best forum hosting. Alternatively, which host has the best Unix hosting, best Windows hosting or best PHP hosting. They also have selected the top providers of unlimited domains on one account (BlueHost) and green web hosts, where alternative energy runs the servers (HostPapa, GoodAvocado).

Business customers will find reviews of the best e-commerce hosting, VPS hosting and email hosting. Read the reviews of customer service, uptime and technical support, issues that are important to all hosting customers, but can sound the death knell for a business.

I like the customer reviews. After you select and use a hosting provider, you may come by the website and write a review. The items that are reviewed are technical support, customer support, software, traffic, reliability and uptime, space, price, quality and user-friendliness.

WebHostingGeeks has a selection of articles that provide solid information on topics like how to choose the best web hosting service. I have bookmarked this site and will return again when I need a web hosting provider. This is, by far, the most comprehensive guide to web hosting and the site is easy to read and understand.

Update on Blog Traffic Exchanges

Bloggers are different from webmasters. There is a sense of community that builds around blogs that cannot be duplicated for commercial sites. It makes sense that blog traffic exchanges would be different. My favorite is Blog Explosion just for the fun you may have there.

Blog Clicker was one of the first blog traffic exchanges several years ago. It disappeared when the owners lost control of the domain name (lesson for everyone). BlogClicker is back online. You may want to check it out if you are looking to marketing your blogs.

Blog Advance

Blog Advance is a free manual blog surf exchange community offering 1:1 ratio and free forum.

Blog Explosion

BlogExplosion is very different. You my rent your blog space for credits or enter your blog into the Battle of the Blogs and win (or lose) credits! Other options are BE Radio, Blog Rocket, statistics, blog directory, podcasts, banners and links.

Blog Soliders

Blog Soldiers offers 2:1 surf ratio, blog directory, text links, banner exchange as well as blog traffic exchange. Blog soldiers has a wonderful education section that provides video instruction on adding your blog, links and banners; assigning and converting credits. Upgraded memberships available.

Blog Your Blessing : Women Who Change the World

There are women who make things better... simply by showing up.
There are women who make things happen.
There are women who make their way.
There are women who make a difference.
And women who make us smile.
There are women of wit and wisdom who--
through strength and courage--make it through.
There are women who change the world every day... women like you.

Ashley Rice
(Copyright Blue Mountain Arts, Inc.)

Women Who Changed the World

More women heroes may be found on MyHero.com.

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Web 2.0 : Where Will It Go in 2009?

8 Experts Predict How Web 2.0 Will Evolve In 2009 | Radical Tech | Fast Company

While the Fast Company article makes a quick read and links to the eight experts' blogs, not much new information was purveyed

Chris Brogan, Mary Hodder, Charlene Li wants to see portable identities across networks, as I posted in Neglecting Your Networks?
Tara Hunt posits a shift in how marketing should be more about customer interaction and empowerment and less about the message.

Rebecca Moore has an original idea to use mapping in times of natural disasters, and points as social mapping as a collaborative tool for grassroots organizations.

Nate Ritter sees technological innovation coming to the foreground as venture funding dries up, believes location based and aggregation tools will be refined as well.

Richard Yoo thinks it is still about trying to figure out what users really want and what they find most important. He also sees a shakedown of web2.0 companies.

Finally Free Internet

In an unprecedented action, the outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing to offer free, pornography-free wireless Internet service to all Americans, despite objections from the wireless industry and some consumer groups.

Read the article here: Free Web Plan Being Pushed by FCC Head - WSJ.com

So, nine years after The National Digital Divide Summit, there finally may be Internet for everyone. Now, if we can just have jobs, benefits, good health, clean air and water, life could be good in the USA once again.

Blog Your Blessing : Recovered Blessings

Jesus and baby
Jesus and children

Jesus playing with childrenJesus and the children

The images above were sent to me with several others back in 2002. Recently, I found myself thinking about these images of Jesus and the children. In fact, I felt called to find them and share them before Christmas.

The images were left on the hard drive of a computer that cratered years ago. I found the hard drive, purchased an USB2.0 IDE hard disk drive enclosure on the Internet and recovered the images. These are my recovered blessings. I hope they bring you joy.

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Opt-In, Opt-Out of Behavioral Marketing

Behavioral Marketing Targeted by ATT&T

The AT&T-backed think tank Future of Privacy Forum launched a campaign warning consumers how search engines store their queries and marketers use online cookies. AT&T favors an opt-in model for behavioral advertising, which serves advertisements to people based on their Web-surfing activity.

MediaPost Publications - Delete Cookies, Says New Privacy Forum - 12/01/2008
The group goes on to instruct people about options to enhance privacy. The advice includes directives to delete cookies and use Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser -- which includes a feature that can block the cookies that track users across sites for ad-serving purposes. The organization also suggests that searchers use IAC's Ask Eraser, which deletes some log files tying search queries to IP addresses.
To Protect Yourself

I have set up my browser to delete all cookies and privacy information when my browser closes.

Some adware programs automatically opens Internet Explorer, so make sure you clear your information out of IE if you use it at all.

Software Helpers

Make sure your computer is secured with a firewall, and protection against viruses, spybots and malware. Make sure you set the programs to automatically update or you should manually update them 2-3x a week.

I use ZoneAlarm, Spybot Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware, and Norton Anti-Virus. These are direct links and the download are free of any type of trojans or tracking cookies.

Give Yourself a $250 Gift Card


Would you like to receive a prize for giving a gift? How about being entered to win one of forty-five (45) free Xbox systems for giving a gift? What if the gift was something you really wanted? Would you gift yourself? Well, you better decide quickly, as this offer is only good through December 5, better know as cyber Monday.

Gift Certificate and Entry into XBox Giveaway

If you sign up for The Ultimate Bundle with Charter for $165.97 per month (for 12 months) between black Friday and cyber Monday (December 5, 2008) you will receive a $250 gift certificate and an entry in the Xbox sweepstakes. Select the gift certificate you want from over 17 popular restaurants, name brand department and specialty shops.

What exactly is The Ultimate Bundle?

10 Mbps High Speed Internet
Telephone with Unlimited Calling
Charter Digital Cable®, including:
  • Charter HDTV™ - wide-screen format and Dolby® Digital surround sound.
  • Charter DVR™ - play, pause and rewind live TV while you are recording.
  • Charter Expanded Basic Cable TV - 70+ channels,watch new releases and cliassic.
If Charter provdes service in your area, you may want to check out this deal and all the deals being offered by Charter before Monday.


Automakers must give up corporate jets!

Auto executives will travel from Detroit to Washington DC in their own fuel-efficient cars rather than corporate jets to ask for the $25 billion bailout from the Federal Government. When it was discovered that all three CEOs had flown in separate corporate jets to ask for the bailout dollars in November, it was a public relations disaster.

The bigwigs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will drive 500+ miles from Detroit to Washington to secure loans to help their companies through the recession and the worst sales downturn in 25 years. Hearings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Do you sometimes feel that these CEOs do not live in the real world? Someone should check their hotels. I am sure they are not staying at the economy hotel that serves the best continental breakfast. Also, they could have carpooled.

Tags: , , , ,

Blog Your Blessing : She Who Heals

Art Work from FirstPeople.us

She Who Heals

Mother, sing me a song
That will ease my pain,
Mend broken bones,
Bring wholeness again.

Catch my babies
When they are born,
Sing my death song,
Teach me how to mourn.

Show me the Medicine
Of the healing herbs,
The value of spirit,
The way I can serve.

Mother, heal my heart
So that I can see
The gifts of yours
That can live through me.

An American Indian Healing Prayer

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving

Find more great graphics at Pat's Web Graphics

GM and Nissan Worst Family-Friendly Advertisers

Parents Television Council (PTC) issued their annual ranking list of the best and worst advertisers. The PTC ranking is based upon the content of the shows that are sponsored by top companies. Emphasis, of course, is on family-friendly content rather than with sexual content, violence or profanity.

Number 1 and 2 on the worst list were GM and Nissan, respectively, followed by L'Oreal, Pepsi-Cola, GlaxoSmithKline, Reckitt Benckiser, Target, Kohl's, Verizon Communications and Toyota.

On the flip side, these companies sponsored the best shows (according to PTC) were: Coca-Cola, Clorox, Century 21 Real Estate, H&R Block, Ferrero; CVS Caremark, Whirlpool Corp., Hershey, State Farm and Hewlett-Packard.

Parents Television Council President Tim Winter had this to say:
The role that television advertisers play in determining what type of content comes into every home in America cannot be overstated. We commend the advertisers on our best list that have chosen to associate their hard-earned corporate brands with positive programming that the entire family can watch together.
Read the article: Parents Television Council Pillories GM and Nissan - Advertising Age - News

I agree with the rankings. There is nothing worse than watching a family-friendly show and have an off-color commercial break. If the advertisers realize they are hurting their bottom line, maybe they will rethink their sponsorships.

Do you agree or disagree with Parents Television Council? Would you rank advertisers differently?

Blog Your Blessing : Iroquois Thanksgiving

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

Iroquois Thanksgiving Prayer
by Ohenton Kariwahtekwen

This is a Thanksgiving prayer from one of the First People. May we all learn to live in harmony with the Earth, to appreciate all the gifts of the Earth, to realize we are all connected to everyone and everthing else in the universe.

~ Happy Thanksgiving ~

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

DDOS Attacks More Sophisticated

The Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, produced annually by Arbor Networks, found that distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks are becoming more powerful and sophisticated. The largest attacks can be over 40 gigabits, up from less than half a megabit over the last seven years. Internet attackers are now using networks of hijacked computers to overwhelm large web sites and corporate networks with DDOS attacks.

View the press release here: Arbor Networks Publishes Fourth Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report | Arbor Networks

Or download the computer report here: Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report

Make sure your computer is secure with firewall, and protection against viruses, spybots and malware. Otherwise, YOUR computer could be used to perform part of a DDOS attack. Make sure you set the programs to automatically update or you should manually update them 2-3x a week.

I use ZoneAlarm, Spybot Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware, and Norton Anti-Virus. These are direct links and the download are free of any type of trojans or tracking cookies.

The Faster the Speed - The Bigger the Mess

Warning: graphic wreck

This is the most effective advertisement for slowing teen drivers down on the road I have seen. It is extremely graphic, but for teens who are playing video games that show guts and blood and heads rolling, it will shock them.

If you do not have a reckless teenager driver, PLEASE skip watching this video. If you have a teen like mine that thinks going 110 mph is "fun," email it to him or her.

Blog Your Blessing : Solitude and Difficulty

. . . we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence,
in order to reach forth to the enchanted place
where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song--
but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled
the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human
and of believing in a common destiny.

Pablo Neruda Toward The Splendid City

This particular passage struck a chord with me. I have been so ill for so long that I have forgotten that it is our difficulties and our pain that makes us human. I await my turn to dance.

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on any Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Tags: , ,

Next Government Bailout?

Y! is trading for $10 per share. BigG is priced under $300. Do you think the next governmental bailout will involve search engines?

Scary thinking about it. Where does it stop? Everyday Americans are expected to pay their debt or to lose their cars and homes or to open themselves to lawsuits and garnishment of wages.

Federal agencies, automobile manufacturers, and quasi-governmental entities are bailed out by the government.

It is time for everyone, every agency, every company, every CEO and board, to become fiscally responsible for the actions of their respective organizations. There should be no more bailouts.

Perhaps if we held the bigwigs responsible and attached their personal fortunes to the health of their organizations, honesty in business would become the byword.

We can hope.

Veteran's Day and Remembrance Day

I am a baby boomer. I was born in peace time and enjoyed an uneventful childhood and adolescence. Then there was war. Most of the young men and many of the young women of my generation joined up with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines ... most of them flew or sailed out of my life ... forever. Some returned, weary and battle scarred to a country that did not appreciate their sacrifice. Today, November 11, 2008, I remember them.

For all veterans of all conflicts, whether alive and well or lying in the Fields of Flanders, inscribed in the Wall in Washington, or buried in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery:

God Bless You. Thank You. We Will Remember ...

Bloggers Unite : Refugees United

Bloggers Unite

From Hurricane Katrina we learned that not every person has a personal vehicle in which to evacuate, many people do not want to leave their home to be looted or flooded, governmental agencies charged with emergency management do not always fulfill their role, and race can be a factor in the level and timeliness of services provided.

The survivors of Katrina were scattered to the four winds, becoming refugees in their own country. No system to unite families or body identification existed. In fact, the website of Katrina Blankenship in Virgina was pressed into services as an ad hoc location service.

This scenario is not unique. It has been the experience of refugees the world over. Refugees United is a service that began to help refugees find their families. It is an anonymous service where family members of refugees and refugees may register and provide information that may help unite them. The service is free, not tied to any governmental entity and is open to refugees of any conflict.

This post is made in support of Bloggers Unite and Refugees United.

Blog Your Blessing : Common Good

God of all nations,
Father of the human family,
we give you thanks for the freedom we exercise
and the many blessings of democracy we enjoy
in these United States of America.

We ask for your protection and guidance
for all who devote themselves to the common good,
working for justice and peace at home and around the world.
We lift up all our duly elected leaders and public servants,
those who will serve us as president, as legislators and judges,
those in the military and law enforcement.

Heal us from our differences and unite us, O Lord,
with a common purpose, dedication, and commitment
to achieve liberty and justice in the years ahead for all people,
and especially those who are most vulnerable in our midst.

Prayer After An Election, Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop of Detroit

I felt moved to find and post this prayer. I have read such hate-filled comments and blog posts about our president-elect. I was in grade school when JFK was assasinated in Dallas and high school when RFK and MLK were taken out of this life. I truly believe life would be very different today in the USA if these leaders had lived out their natural lives. That is my wish for President-Elect Obama.

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Tags: , ,

Contributors, Lurkers and Abstainers

According to a survey of web users in the USA, conducted by Rubicon Consulting, approximately 80 percent of the user generated content on the web, including comments and questions is produced by 9 percent of users.
  • 65 percent of web users contribute 20 percent of online content, contributing rarely.
  • 9 percent of web users are pure lurkers, never contributing any content.
  • 17 percent are community abstainers.
This survey is of great importance to marketers. You may download the entire survey in PDF here or read it online and comment or bookmark the different sections. Start with the Introduction here,

With money for advertising becoming tighter, marketers will want to leverage their use of social networks and take advantage of the 9 percent of Internet users who generate most of the online content, including product reviews.

The 44th President of the United States

The election of Barack Obama shows that the America of opportunity is not gone, that apathy has not destroyed our interest in how we are governed and political campaigns may be run with honor. This was the kindest, gentlest campaign that I can remember. The GOP got a little dirty the last few days, dragging up the preacher in Obama's church again. By then, the momentum that Obama had built was steaming on to the White House and nothing was stopping him.

I would also like to recognize how gracious John McCain was in his concession speech. He is a gentleman of honor and personal integrity, a true American hero. God bless him.

God Bless America!

Want More Links? More Readers?

MasterNewMedia.org has updated their listing of directories, RSSTop55 : Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites.

If you are a new blogger or if it has been awhile since you spent some time submitting your blogs to directories, you should visit MasterNewMedia.org and get busy!

Before you start, make sure you have your blog keywords and a good blog description for each blog you plan to submit.

Make sure you pick the best category for blog. Most directories DO NOT want you to use the category as keyword.

If the directory requires a reciprocal link, make sure you put it on your blog immediately. Most directory sites have bots check your blog within hours for the link. You submission may be human approved in a few days, but the link needs to be up within hours.

Where Do You Launch New Product?

According to a study published in Marketing Science (Sep/Oct) called Global Takeoff of New Products: Culture, Wealth or Vanishing Differences, the best place to introduce a new product is Japan. The worst place is China. The researchers compiled 50 years worth of data across 31 developed and developing countries on consumer household products. They created an index based on the time it takes for new products to take off (mass market) in a particular country.

From the Study:
Japan, Norway and Sweden came in first, second and third, respectively. The U.S. came in sixth, and traditionally strong European economies landed in the middle of the list, behind Venezuela and South Korea. Oddly, two of the countries normally considered fast-growing, India and China, were on the bottom.
For the study, the co-authors analyzed two different kinds of consumer household products: fun and work products. Across the 31 countries, the co-authors found that "fun" products take off far more quickly than "work" products (7 versus 12 years), and therefore require different marketing strategies.

If you market products overseas, this article is a required read, especially with the economy in the USA tanking and Japan and China coming into their own.

For more information, please read the complete article:
Advertising Age - CMO Strategy
Marissa Miley, October 28, 2008, NEW YORK (AdAge.com)

Press Release as Marketing Tool

According to the Executive Summary of a study conducted by Fellows of the Society for New Communications Research into a new communication tool used by public relations and marketing professionals alike.

The respondents' top goals for online press releases indicated that the traditional goals of increasing an organization's visibility and credibility and announcing news are now almost equally as important as new goals that include reaching customers directly, creating online content, and search engine optimization (SEO).

The most frequently mentioned criterion for evaluating the success of online press releases was:

  • The number of times the release has been republished on websites (79.6 percent)
  • The number of times the release has been viewed online (76.8 percent)
  • An article based on the release (75.4 percent)
  • Media interview requests as a result of the release (74.2 percent)
For more information download this white paper.

Are you using Press Releases to your benefit? New blog,-write a PR. Moved blog-write a PR. ew sponsor--write a PR. New Co-Author=write a PR. Don't forget human interest stories in support of charities and causes. Need help? PRWeb can help you.

Blog Your Blessing : Lifeblood of Earth

Lakewood Park on Bull Creek, Austin, Texas
Eileen Trainor, all rights reserved


Sit by a river
Find peace and meaning

In the rhythm

Of the lifeblood of the Earth


The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Note: To my BYBS friends. Thank you for your wishes, prayers, Reiki and lightness you have sent my way. Please keep sending as I am only 1/2 way through the chemotheraphy.

What the Heck are White Spaces?

A Quick Explanation of White Spaces

Without affordable and accessible Internet choices, too many people are left on the wrong side of the digital divide -- virtually forgotten in a nation that increasingly demands high-speed Internet access to engage socially, politically and economically.

On November 4, the Federal Communications Commission will decide whether to open the vacant public airwaves between TV channels, the white spaces, for high-speed Internet access. The FCC has indicated their support for opening the airwaves to everyone. Then, a powerful corporate lobby started pressuring the FCC to keep the white spaces available for sale.

Take Action: Tell Washington To Use White Spaces for the Public Good.

Find the Best Hosting Company for Your Needs

Have you noticed all the web hosting companies on the Internet, lately? Seems like every day I see a new hosting provider, each offering a different incentive to get your business. Web hosting has gone down in cost, but it is hard to compare the services offered by each web hosting company. It is not exactly like comparing apples and oranges, is it? Some web hosts give you a free domain name with hosting, bill by the month or year, give you a discount for a longer term contract, offer add-ons like Front Page extensions or SQL or provide unlimited bandwidth or charge for it.

On a basic level, there are four choices for web hosting. In a shared server environment, the web hosting company owns and manages the server, upgrades, maintenance and support. You pay a set amount per month, with extra charges for options you may choose, like extra bandwidth or storage, extensions or security certificates. Virtual hosting is a method that web hosting companies use to host more than one domain name on the same computer, sometime with the same IP.

WebHostingRating.com has a searchable web hosting directory for web hosting providers and web hosting plans, promotional and discount coupons and consumer reviews. Web Hosting Rating provides a useful service that locates the hosting companies, determines the services offered and pricing structure, finds stats on reliability and uptime, and finds consumer reports on technical support and customer service. Go to their website and check the web hosting rating of any web hosting companies.

Search for web hosts that have won web hosting awards or search by type of hosting, such as Unix, Windows, Reseller, VPS, dedicated, collocation or managed hosting or by content management systems like Drupal, MODx, Wordpress, b2evolution, phpBB, vBulletin, SMF, Coppermine or PHPWiki. Web Hosting Rating has web hosting tutorials and articles to help you understand important concepts like CPanel or FTP.

Make your next web hosting decision based on the ratings of consumers like yourself and updated information on prices and packages. Visit Web Hosting Rating.

Blog Your Blessing : My Faith

Lighthouse at Matagorda Island

Standing Since 1873

Today, while my health worsens and breathing leaves me with doubts;
Today, while my son remains in trouble beyond my power to correct;
Today, while depression draws me into deep abysmal fear.
Today, of all the days of the year, I must remember my faith.

I must trust He can turn my son around and put him on his path where the Lord wants him.
I must have faith in God that I will be well again and trust that pain is not remembered.

I must remember my faith today. It is all I have in this world that matters and I could easily lose it. I must remember my faith today.

I am in need of spiritual help. I ask you, my friends the Blog Your Blessing bloggers, to stop and say a simple prayer that CyberCelt remembers her faith today. Thank you!

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. Visit the blog, grab the blogroll code, add it to your blog, and leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience. Next Sunday, post your blessing. We are of all faiths, creeds and races, so everyone is welcome. Join us on Sunday as we blog our blessings.

Tags: , ,

Blog Action Day : Poverty/Hunger in USA

14th October - Michael Pollan, The New York Times

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril.

Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda.

But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production.

But there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign.

Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change.

Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on — but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them. Let me explain.

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air.

But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food.

Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.

In addition to the problems of climate change and America’s oil addiction, you have spoken at length on the campaign trail of the health care crisis. Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today, putting a significant drag on the economy. The goal of ensuring the health of all Americans depends on getting those costs under control.

There are several reasons health care has gotten so expensive, but one of the biggest, and perhaps most tractable, is the cost to the system of preventable chronic diseases. Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

It is no coincidence that in the years national spending on health care went from 5 percent to 16 percent of national income, spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount — from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent. While the surfeit of cheap calories that the U.S. food system has produced since the late 1970s may have taken food prices off the political agenda, this has come at a steep cost to public health. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet.

The impact of the American food system on the rest of the world will have implications for your foreign and trade policies as well. In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen. Should high grain prices persist and shortages develop, you can expect to see the pendulum shift decisively away from free trade, at least in food.

Nations that opened their markets to the global flood of cheap grain (under pressure from previous administrations as well as the World Bank and the I.M.F.) lost so many farmers that they now find their ability to feed their own populations hinges on decisions made in Washington (like your predecessor’s precipitous embrace of biofuels) and on Wall Street. They will now rush to rebuild their own agricultural sectors and then seek to protect them by erecting trade barriers. Expect to hear the phrases “food sovereignty” and “food security” on the lips of every foreign leader you meet.

Not only the Doha round, but the whole cause of free trade in agriculture is probably dead, the casualty of a cheap food policy that a scant two years ago seemed like a boon for everyone. It is one of the larger paradoxes of our time that the very same food policies that have contributed to overnutrition in the first world are now contributing to undernutrition in the third.

But it turns out that too much food can be nearly as big a problem as too little — a lesson we should keep in mind as we set about designing a new approach to food policy.

Rich or poor, countries struggling with soaring food prices are being forcibly reminded that food is a national-security issue. When a nation loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue is not only the availability of food, which may be held hostage by a hostile state, but its safety: as recent scandals in China demonstrate, we have little control over the safety of imported foods.

The deliberate contamination of our food presents another national-security threat. At his valedictory press conference in 2004, Tommy Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, offered a chilling warning, saying, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”

This, in brief, is the bad news: the food and agriculture policies you’ve inherited — designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so — are in shambles, and the need to address the problems they have caused is acute. The good news is that the twinned crises in food and energy are creating a political environment in which real reform of the food system may actually be possible for the first time in a generation.

The American people are paying more attention to food today than they have in decades, worrying not only about its price but about its safety, its provenance and its healthfulness. There is a gathering sense among the public that the industrial-food system is broken. Markets for alternative kinds of food — organic, local, pasture-based, humane — are thriving as never before.

All this suggests that a political constituency for change is building and not only on the left: lately, conservative voices have also been raised in support of reform. Writing of the movement back to local food economies, traditional foods (and family meals) and more sustainable farming, The American Conservative magazine editorialized last summer that “this is a conservative cause if ever there was one.”

There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done — fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves.

To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does.

If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.

How We Got Here

Before setting out an agenda for reforming the food system, it’s important to understand how that system came to be — and also to appreciate what, for all its many problems, it has accomplished. What our food system does well is precisely what it was designed to do, which is to produce cheap calories in great abundance.

It is no small thing for an American to be able to go into a fast-food restaurant and to buy a double cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke for a price equal to less than an hour of labor at the minimum wage — indeed, in the long sweep of history, this represents a remarkable achievement.

It must be recognized that the current food system — characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table — is not simply the product of the free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that sponsored a shift from solar (and human) energy on the farm to fossil-fuel energy.

Did you notice when you flew over Iowa during the campaign how the land was completely bare — black — from October to April? What you were seeing is the agricultural landscape created by cheap oil. In years past, except in the dead of winter, you would have seen in those fields a checkerboard of different greens: pastures and hayfields for animals, cover crops, perhaps a block of fruit trees.

Before the application of oil and natural gas to agriculture, farmers relied on crop diversity (and photosynthesis) both to replenish their soil and to combat pests, as well as to feed themselves and their neighbors. Cheap energy, however, enabled the creation of monocultures, and monocultures in turn vastly increased the productivity both of the American land and the American farmer; today the typical corn-belt farmer is single-handedly feeding 140 people.

This did not occur by happenstance. After World War II, the government encouraged the conversion of the munitions industry to fertilizer — ammonium nitrate being the main ingredient of both bombs and chemical fertilizer — and the conversion of nerve-gas research to pesticides.

The government also began subsidizing commodity crops, paying farmers by the bushel for all the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice they could produce. One secretary of agriculture after another implored them to plant “fence row to fence row” and to “get big or get out.”

The chief result, especially after the Earl Butz years, was a flood of cheap grain that could be sold for substantially less than it cost farmers to grow because a government check helped make up the difference. As this artificially cheap grain worked its way up the food chain, it drove down the price of all the calories derived from that grain: the high-fructose corn syrup in the Coke, the soy oil in which the potatoes were fried, the meat and cheese in the burger.

Subsidized monocultures of grain also led directly to monocultures of animals: since factory farms could buy grain for less than it cost farmers to grow it, they could now fatten animals more cheaply than farmers could. So America’s meat and dairy animals migrated from farm to feedlot, driving down the price of animal protein to the point where an American can enjoy eating, on average, 190 pounds of meat a year — a half pound every day.

But if taking the animals off farms made a certain kind of economic sense, it made no ecological sense whatever: their waste, formerly regarded as a precious source of fertility on the farm, became a pollutant — factory farms are now one of America’s biggest sources of pollution. As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution — animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete — and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter is remedied not at all.

What was once a regional food economy is now national and increasingly global in scope — thanks again to fossil fuel. Cheap energy — for trucking food as well as pumping water — is the reason New York City now gets its produce from California rather than from the “Garden State” next door, as it did before the advent of Interstate highways and national trucking networks.

More recently, cheap energy has underwritten a globalized food economy in which it makes (or rather, made) economic sense to catch salmon in Alaska, ship it to China to be filleted and then ship the fillets back to California to be eaten; or one in which California and Mexico can profitably swap tomatoes back and forth across the border; or Denmark and the United States can trade sugar cookies across the Atlantic. About that particular swap the economist Herman Daly once quipped, “Exchanging recipes would surely be more efficient.”

Whatever we may have liked about the era of cheap, oil-based food, it is drawing to a close. Even if we were willing to continue paying the environmental or public-health price, we’re not going to have the cheap energy (or the water) needed to keep the system going, much less expand production. But as is so often the case, a crisis provides opportunity for reform, and the current food crisis presents opportunities that must be seized.

In drafting these proposals, I’ve adhered to a few simple principles of what a 21st-century food system needs to do.

First, your administration’s food policy must strive to provide a healthful diet for all our people; this means focusing on the quality and diversity (and not merely the quantity) of the calories that American agriculture produces and American eaters consume. Second, your policies should aim to improve the resilience, safety and security of our food supply. Among other things, this means promoting regional food economies both in America and around the world. And lastly, your policies need to reconceive agriculture as part of the solution to environmental problems like climate change.

These goals are admittedly ambitious, yet they will not be difficult to align or advance as long as we keep in mind this One Big Idea: most of the problems our food system faces today are because of its reliance on fossil fuels, and to the extent that our policies wring the oil out of the system and replace it with the energy of the sun, those policies will simultaneously improve the state of our health, our environment and our security.

I. Resolarizing the American Farm

What happens in the field influences every other link of the food chain on up to our meals — if we grow monocultures of corn and soy, we will find the products of processed corn and soy on our plates. Fortunately for your initiative, the federal government has enormous leverage in determining exactly what happens on the 830 million acres of American crop and pasture land.

Today most government farm and food programs are designed to prop up the old system of maximizing production from a handful of subsidized commodity crops grown in monocultures. Even food-assistance programs like WIC and school lunch focus on maximizing quantity rather than quality, typically specifying a minimum number of calories (rather than maximums) and seldom paying more than lip service to nutritional quality.

This focus on quantity may have made sense in a time of food scarcity, but today it gives us a school-lunch program that feeds chicken nuggets and Tater Tots to overweight and diabetic children.

Your challenge is to take control of this vast federal machinery and use it to drive a transition to a new solar-food economy, starting on the farm. Right now, the government actively discourages the farmers it subsidizes from growing healthful, fresh food: farmers receiving crop subsidies are prohibited from growing “specialty crops” — farm-bill speak for fruits and vegetables. (This rule was the price exacted by California and Florida produce growers in exchange for going along with subsidies for commodity crops.)

Commodity farmers should instead be encouraged to grow as many different crops — including animals — as possible. Why? Because the greater the diversity of crops on a farm, the less the need for both fertilizers and pesticides.

The power of cleverly designed polycultures to produce large amounts of food from little more than soil, water and sunlight has been proved, not only by small-scale “alternative” farmers in the United States but also by large rice-and-fish farmers in China and giant-scale operations (up to 15,000 acres) in places like Argentina.

There, in a geography roughly comparable to that of the American farm belt, farmers have traditionally employed an ingenious eight-year rotation of perennial pasture and annual crops: after five years grazing cattle on pasture (and producing the world’s best beef), farmers can then grow three years of grain without applying any fossil-fuel fertilizer. Or, for that matter, many pesticides: the weeds that afflict pasture can’t survive the years of tillage, and the weeds of row crops don’t survive the years of grazing, making herbicides all but unnecessary.

There is no reason — save current policy and custom — that American farmers couldn’t grow both high-quality grain and grass-fed beef under such a regime through much of the Midwest. (It should be noted that today’s sky-high grain prices are causing many Argentine farmers to abandon their rotation to grow grain and soybeans exclusively, an environmental disaster in the making.)

Federal policies could do much to encourage this sort of diversified sun farming. Begin with the subsidies: payment levels should reflect the number of different crops farmers grow or the number of days of the year their fields are green — that is, taking advantage of photosynthesis, whether to grow food, replenish the soil or control erosion.

If Midwestern farmers simply planted a cover crop after the fall harvest, they would significantly reduce their need for fertilizer, while cutting down on soil erosion. Why don’t farmers do this routinely? Because in recent years fossil-fuel-based fertility has been so much cheaper and easier to use than sun-based fertility.

In addition to rewarding farmers for planting cover crops, we should make it easier for them to apply compost to their fields — a practice that improves not only the fertility of the soil but also its ability to hold water and therefore withstand drought. (There is mounting evidence that it also boosts the nutritional quality of the food grown in it.)

The U.S.D.A. estimates that Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy; much more is wasted by retailers, wholesalers and institutions. A program to make municipal composting of food and yard waste mandatory and then distributing the compost free to area farmers would shrink America’s garbage heap, cut the need for irrigation and fossil-fuel fertilizers in agriculture and improve the nutritional quality of the American diet.

Right now, most of the conservation programs run by the U.S.D.A. are designed on the zero-sum principle: land is either locked up in “conservation” or it is farmed intensively. This either-or approach reflects an outdated belief that modern farming and ranching are inherently destructive, so that the best thing for the environment is to leave land untouched. But we now know how to grow crops and graze animals in systems that will support biodiversity, soil health, clean water and carbon sequestration.

The Conservation Stewardship Program, championed by Senator Tom Harkin and included in the 2008 Farm Bill, takes an important step toward rewarding these kinds of practices, but we need to move this approach from the periphery of our farm policy to the very center. Longer term, the government should back ambitious research now under way (at the Land Institute in Kansas and a handful of other places) to “perennialize” commodity agriculture: to breed varieties of wheat, rice and other staple grains that can be grown like prairie grasses — without having to till the soil every year.

These perennial grains hold the promise of slashing the fossil fuel now needed to fertilize and till the soil, while protecting farmland from erosion and sequestering significant amounts of carbon.

But that is probably a 50-year project. For today’s agriculture to wean itself from fossil fuel and make optimal use of sunlight, crop plants and animals must once again be married on the farm — as in Wendell Berry’s elegant “solution.” Sunlight nourishes the grasses and grains, the plants nourish the animals, the animals then nourish the soil, which in turn nourishes the next season’s grasses and grains. Animals on pasture can also harvest their own feed and dispose of their own waste — all without our help or fossil fuel.

If this system is so sensible, you might ask, why did it succumb to Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs? In fact there is nothing inherently efficient or economical about raising vast cities of animals in confinement.

Three struts, each put into place by federal policy, support the modern CAFO, and the most important of these — the ability to buy grain for less than it costs to grow it — has just been kicked away. The second strut is F.D.A. approval for the routine use of antibiotics in feed, without which the animals in these places could not survive their crowded, filthy and miserable existence. And the third is that the government does not require CAFOs to treat their wastes as it would require human cities of comparable size to do.

The F.D.A. should ban the routine use of antibiotics in livestock feed on public-health grounds, now that we have evidence that the practice is leading to the evolution of drug-resistant bacterial diseases and to outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning. CAFOs should also be regulated like the factories they are, required to clean up their waste like any other industry or municipality.

It will be argued that moving animals off feedlots and back onto farms will raise the price of meat. It probably will — as it should. You will need to make the case that paying the real cost of meat, and therefore eating less of it, is a good thing for our health, for the environment, for our dwindling reserves of fresh water and for the welfare of the animals.

Meat and milk production represent the food industry’s greatest burden on the environment; a recent U.N. study estimated that the world’s livestock alone account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined. (According to one study, a pound of feedlot beef also takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce.)

And while animals living on farms will still emit their share of greenhouse gases, grazing them on grass and returning their waste to the soil will substantially offset their carbon hoof prints, as will getting ruminant animals off grain. A bushel of grain takes approximately a half gallon of oil to produce; grass can be grown with little more than sunshine.

It will be argued that sun-food agriculture will generally yield less food than fossil-fuel agriculture. This is debatable. The key question you must be prepared to answer is simply this: Can the sort of sustainable agriculture you’re proposing feed the world?

There are a couple of ways to answer this question. The simplest and most honest answer is that we don’t know, because we haven’t tried. But in the same way we now need to learn how to run an industrial economy without cheap fossil fuel, we have no choice but to find out whether sustainable agriculture can produce enough food.

The fact is, during the past century, our agricultural research has been directed toward the goal of maximizing production with the help of fossil fuel. There is no reason to think that bringing the same sort of resources to the development of more complex, sun-based agricultural systems wouldn’t produce comparable yields.

Today’s organic farmers, operating for the most part without benefit of public investment in research, routinely achieve 80 to 100 percent of conventional yields in grain and, in drought years, frequently exceed conventional yields. (This is because organic soils better retain moisture.) Assuming no further improvement, could the world — with a population expected to peak at 10 billion — survive on these yields?

First, bear in mind that the average yield of world agriculture today is substantially lower than that of modern sustainable farming. According to a recent University of Michigan study, merely bringing international yields up to today’s organic levels could increase the world’s food supply by 50 percent.

The second point to bear in mind is that yield isn’t everything — and growing high-yield commodities is not quite the same thing as growing food. Much of what we’re growing today is not directly eaten as food but processed into low-quality calories of fat and sugar. As the world epidemic of diet-related chronic disease has demonstrated, the sheer quantity of calories that a food system produces improves health only up to a point, but after that, quality and diversity are probably more important. We can expect that a food system that produces somewhat less food but of a higher quality will produce healthier populations.

The final point to consider is that 40 percent of the world’s grain output today is fed to animals; 11 percent of the world’s corn and soybean crop is fed to cars and trucks, in the form of biofuels. Provided the developed world can cut its consumption of grain-based animal protein and ethanol, there should be plenty of food for everyone — however we choose to grow it.

In fact, well-designed polyculture systems, incorporating not just grains but vegetables and animals, can produce more food per acre than conventional monocultures, and food of a much higher nutritional value.

But this kind of farming is complicated and needs many more hands on the land to make it work. Farming without fossil fuels — performing complex rotations of plants and animals and managing pests without petrochemicals — is labor intensive and takes more skill than merely “driving and spraying,” which is how corn-belt farmers describe what they do for a living.

To grow sufficient amounts of food using sunlight will require more people growing food — millions more. This suggests that sustainable agriculture will be easier to implement in the developing world, where large rural populations remain, than in the West, where they don’t. But what about here in America, where we have only about two million farmers left to feed a population of 300 million?

And where farmland is being lost to development at the rate of 2,880 acres a day? Post-oil agriculture will need a lot more people engaged in food production — as farmers and probably also as gardeners.

The sun-food agenda must include programs to train a new generation of farmers and then help put them on the land. The average American farmer today is 55 years old; we shouldn’t expect these farmers to embrace the sort of complex ecological approach to agriculture that is called for. Our focus should be on teaching ecological farming systems to students entering land-grant colleges today.

For decades now, it has been federal policy to shrink the number of farmers in America by promoting capital-intensive monoculture and consolidation. As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories.

To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America — not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.

National security also argues for preserving every acre of farmland we can and then making it available to new farmers. We simply will not be able to depend on distant sources of food, and therefore need to preserve every acre of good farmland within a day’s drive of our cities.

In the same way that when we came to recognize the supreme ecological value of wetlands we erected high bars to their development, we need to recognize the value of farmland to our national security and require real-estate developers to do “food-system impact statements” before development begins. We should also create tax and zoning incentives for developers to incorporate farmland (as they now do “open space”) in their subdivision plans; all those subdivisions now ringing golf courses could someday have diversified farms at their center.

The revival of farming in America, which of course draws on the abiding cultural power of our agrarian heritage, will pay many political and economic dividends. It will lead to robust economic renewal in the countryside. And it will generate tens of millions of new “green jobs,” which is precisely how we need to begin thinking of skilled solar farming: as a vital sector of the 21st-century post-fossil-fuel economy.

II. Reregionalizing the Food System

For your sun-food agenda to succeed, it will have to do a lot more than alter what happens on the farm. The government could help seed a thousand new polyculture farmers in every county in Iowa, but they would promptly fail if the grain elevator remained the only buyer in town and corn and beans were the only crops it would take. Resolarizing the food system means building the infrastructure for a regional food economy — one that can support diversified farming and, by shortening the food chain, reduce the amount of fossil fuel in the American diet.

A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions.

Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it.

Today in America there is soaring demand for local and regional food; farmers’ markets, of which the U.S.D.A. estimates there are now 4,700, have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market. Community-supported agriculture is booming as well: there are now nearly 1,500 community-supported farms, to which consumers pay an annual fee in exchange for a weekly box of produce through the season.

The local-food movement will continue to grow with no help from the government, especially as high fuel prices make distant and out-of-season food, as well as feedlot meat, more expensive. Yet there are several steps the government can take to nurture this market and make local foods more affordable. Here are a few:

Four-Season Farmers’ Markets. Provide grants to towns and cities to build year-round indoor farmers’ markets, on the model of Pike Place in Seattle or the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. To supply these markets, the U.S.D.A. should make grants to rebuild local distribution networks in order to minimize the amount of energy used to move produce within local food sheds.

Agricultural Enterprise Zones. Today the revival of local food economies is being hobbled by a tangle of regulations originally designed to check abuses by the very largest food producers. Farmers should be able to smoke a ham and sell it to their neighbors without making a huge investment in federally approved facilities.

Food-safety regulations must be made sensitive to scale and marketplace, so that a small producer selling direct off the farm or at a farmers’ market is not regulated as onerously as a multinational food manufacturer. This is not because local food won’t ever have food-safety problems — it will — only that its problems will be less catastrophic and easier to manage because local food is inherently more traceable and accountable.

Local Meat-Inspection Corps. Perhaps the single greatest impediment to the return of livestock to the land and the revival of local, grass-based meat production is the disappearance of regional slaughter facilities. The big meat processors have been buying up local abattoirs only to close them down as they consolidate, and the U.S.D.A. does little to support the ones that remain.

From the department’s perspective, it is a better use of shrinking resources to dispatch its inspectors to a plant slaughtering 400 head an hour than to a regional abattoir slaughtering a dozen. The U.S.D.A. should establish a Local Meat-Inspectors Corps to serve these processors. Expanding on its successful pilot program on Lopez Island in Puget Sound, the U.S.D.A. should also introduce a fleet of mobile abattoirs that would go from farm to farm, processing animals humanely and inexpensively. Nothing would do more to make regional, grass-fed meat fully competitive in the market with feedlot meat.

Establish a Strategic Grain Reserve. In the same way the shift to alternative energy depends on keeping oil prices relatively stable, the sun-food agenda — as well as the food security of billions of people around the world — will benefit from government action to prevent huge swings in commodity prices.

A strategic grain reserve, modeled on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, would help achieve this objective and at the same time provide some cushion for world food stocks, which today stand at perilously low levels. Governments should buy and store grain when it is cheap and sell when it is dear, thereby moderating price swings in both directions and discouraging speculation.

Regionalize Federal Food Procurement. In the same way that federal procurement is often used to advance important social goals (like promoting minority-owned businesses), we should require that some minimum percentage of government food purchases — whether for school-lunch programs, military bases or federal prisons — go to producers located within 100 miles of institutions buying the food.

We should create incentives for hospitals and universities receiving federal funds to buy fresh local produce. To channel even a small portion of institutional food purchasing to local food would vastly expand regional agriculture and improve the diet of the millions of people these institutions feed.

Create a Federal Definition of “Food.” It makes no sense for government food-assistance dollars, intended to improve the nutritional health of at-risk Americans, to support the consumption of products we know to be unhealthful. Yes, some people will object that for the government to specify what food stamps can and cannot buy smacks of paternalism.

Yet we already prohibit the purchase of tobacco and alcohol with food stamps. So why not prohibit something like soda, which is arguably less nutritious than red wine? Because it is, nominally, a food, albeit a “junk food.” We need to stop flattering nutritionally worthless foodlike substances by calling them “junk food” — and instead make clear that such products are not in fact food of any kind.

Defining what constitutes real food worthy of federal support will no doubt be controversial (you’ll recall President Reagan’s ketchup imbroglio), but defining food upward may be more politically palatable than defining it down, as Reagan sought to do. One approach would be to rule that, in order to be regarded as a food by the government, an edible substance must contain a certain minimum ratio of micronutrients per calorie of energy.

At a stroke, such a definition would improve the quality of school lunch and discourage sales of unhealthful products, since typically only “food” is exempt from local sales tax.

A few other ideas: Food-stamp debit cards should double in value whenever swiped at a farmers’ markets — all of which, by the way, need to be equipped with the Electronic Benefit Transfer card readers that supermarkets already have. We should expand the WIC program that gives farmers’-market vouchers to low-income women with children; such programs help attract farmers’ markets to urban neighborhoods where access to fresh produce is often nonexistent. (We should also offer tax incentives to grocery chains willing to build supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods.)

Federal food assistance for the elderly should build on a successful program pioneered by the state of Maine that buys low-income seniors a membership in a community-supported farm. All these initiatives have the virtue of advancing two objectives at once: supporting the health of at-risk Americans and the revival of local food economies.

III. Rebuilding America’s Food Culture

In the end, shifting the American diet from a foundation of imported fossil fuel to local sunshine will require changes in our daily lives, which by now are deeply implicated in the economy and culture of fast, cheap and easy food. Making available more healthful and more sustainable food does not guarantee it will be eaten, much less appreciated or enjoyed. We need to use all the tools at our disposal — not just federal policy and public education but the president’s bully pulpit and the example of the first family’s own dinner table — to promote a new culture of food that can undergird your sun-food agenda.

Changing the food culture must begin with our children, and it must begin in the schools. Nearly a half-century ago, President Kennedy announced a national initiative to improve the physical fitness of American children. He did it by elevating the importance of physical education, pressing states to make it a requirement in public schools. We need to bring the same commitment to “edible education” — in Alice Waters’s phrase — by making lunch, in all its dimensions, a mandatory part of the curriculum. On the premise that eating well is a critically important life skill, we need to teach all primary-school students the basics of growing and cooking food and then enjoying it at shared meals.

To change our children’s food culture, we’ll need to plant gardens in every primary school, build fully equipped kitchens, train a new generation of lunchroom ladies (and gentlemen) who can once again cook and teach cooking to children. We should introduce a School Lunch Corps program that forgives federal student loans to culinary-school graduates in exchange for two years of service in the public-school lunch program.

And we should immediately increase school-lunch spending per pupil by $1 a day — the minimum amount food-service experts believe it will take to underwrite a shift from fast food in the cafeteria to real food freshly prepared.

But it is not only our children who stand to benefit from public education about food. Today most federal messages about food, from nutrition labeling to the food pyramid, are negotiated with the food industry. The surgeon general should take over from the Department of Agriculture the job of communicating with Americans about their diet.

That way we might begin to construct a less equivocal and more effective public-health message about nutrition. Indeed, there is no reason that public-health campaigns about the dangers of obesity and Type 2 diabetes shouldn’t be as tough and as effective as public-health campaigns about the dangers of smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. The public needs to know and see precisely what that sentence means: blindness; amputation; early death. All of which can be avoided by a change in diet and lifestyle. A public-health crisis of this magnitude calls for a blunt public-health message, even at the expense of offending the food industry. Judging by the success of recent antismoking campaigns, the savings to the health care system could be substantial.

There are other kinds of information about food that the government can supply or demand. In general we should push for as much transparency in the food system as possible — the other sense in which “sunlight” should be the watchword of our agenda. The F.D.A. should require that every packaged-food product include a second calorie count, indicating how many calories of fossil fuel went into its production. Oil is one of the most important ingredients in our food, and people ought to know just how much of it they’re eating.

The government should also throw its support behind putting a second bar code on all food products that, when scanned either in the store or at home (or with a cellphone), brings up on a screen the whole story and pictures of how that product was produced: in the case of crops, images of the farm and lists of agrochemicals used in its production; in the case of meat and dairy, descriptions of the animals’ diet and drug regimen, as well as live video feeds of the CAFO where they live and, yes, the slaughterhouse where they die.

The very length and complexity of the modern food chain breeds a culture of ignorance and indifference among eaters. Shortening the food chain is one way to create more conscious consumers, but deploying technology to pierce the veil is another.

Finally, there is the power of the example you set in the White House. If what’s needed is a change of culture in America’s thinking about food, then how America’s first household organizes its eating will set the national tone, focusing the light of public attention on the issue and communicating a simple set of values that can guide Americans toward sun-based foods and away from eating oil.

The choice of White House chef is always closely watched, and you would be wise to appoint a figure who is identified with the food movement and committed to cooking simply from fresh local ingredients.

Besides feeding you and your family exceptionally well, such a chef would demonstrate how it is possible even in Washington to eat locally for much of the year, and that good food needn’t be fussy or complicated but does depend on good farming. You should make a point of the fact that every night you’re in town, you join your family for dinner in the Executive Residence — at a table. (Surely you remember the Reagans’ TV trays.) And you should also let it be known that the White House observes one meatless day a week — a step that, if all Americans followed suit, would be the equivalent, in carbon saved, of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road for a year. Let the White House chef post daily menus on the Web, listing the farmers who supplied the food, as well as recipes.

Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden.

When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she helped start a Victory Garden movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime. (Less well known is the fact that Roosevelt planted this garden over the objections of the U.S.D.A., which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry.)

By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America. The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population.

Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system — something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently.

I don’t need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.)

Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community.

The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement.

You’re probably thinking that growing and eating organic food in the White House carries a certain political risk. It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”) But it should not be difficult to deflect the charge of elitism sometimes leveled at the sustainable-food movement.

Reforming the food system is not inherently a right-or-left issue: for every Whole Foods shopper with roots in the counterculture you can find a family of evangelicals intent on taking control of its family dinner and diet back from the fast-food industry — the culinary equivalent of home schooling. You should support hunting as a particularly sustainable way to eat meat — meat grown without any fossil fuels whatsoever.

There is also a strong libertarian component to the sun-food agenda, which seeks to free small producers from the burden of government regulation in order to stoke rural innovation. And what is a higher “family value,” after all, than making time to sit down every night to a shared meal?

Our agenda puts the interests of America’s farmers, families and communities ahead of the fast-food industry’s. For that industry and its apologists to imply that it is somehow more “populist” or egalitarian to hand our food dollars to Burger King or General Mills than to support a struggling local farmer is absurd.

Yes, sun food costs more, but the reasons why it does only undercut the charge of elitism: cheap food is only cheap because of government handouts and regulatory indulgence (both of which we will end), not to mention the exploitation of workers, animals and the environment on which its putative “economies” depend. Cheap food is food dishonestly priced — it is in fact unconscionably expensive.

Your sun-food agenda promises to win support across the aisle. It builds on America’s agrarian past, but turns it toward a more sustainable, sophisticated future. It honors the work of American farmers and enlists them in three of the 21st century’s most urgent errands: to move into the post-oil era, to improve the health of the American people and to mitigate climate change.

Indeed, it enlists all of us in this great cause by turning food consumers into part-time producers, reconnecting the American people with the American land and demonstrating that we need not choose between the welfare of our families and the health of the environment — that eating less oil and more sunlight will redound to the benefit of both.

Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for the New Yorke Times Magazine, is the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author, most recently, of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

Link to original source