Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Most Frightening Thing You Will See Online July 7, 2015

Almost attacked by a shark:

Shark Week!

It is shark week in American culture. I don't know how it started, but for some reason, various media outlets every year about this time focus on sharks as a point of discussion. One sees sharks everywhere on television and in newspapers. My guess is that it is a way to drive up readership/viewership during the low ratings summer season.

I have always loved sharks so I don't really have a problem with the whole idea of shark week. In fact, I embrace it. I remember when I first moved to Florida in 1990's I would see small nurse sharks all the time in Tampa Bay. Plus, the local papers often featured wonderful photos taken from low flying airplanes of people swimming at the beaches on the Gulf Coast. In the photos, one could see a few hammerheads among the bathers. As a card carrying beach bum, I am sure that I have had some close encounters with sharks that I never noticed. There are lots of sharks off the coast of Long Island--some of them are rather large. Indeed, a nearly two ton great white shark was caught off Montauk.

For my contribution to shark week, here are 5 cool open access photos of sharks that I found on Flickr. Enjoy and I'll see you at the beach!

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Integrity of Creation-Climate Change Conference at Duquesne University

Duquesne University is in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh.
Click for photo credit.
Registration is now open for Duquesne University's Integrity of Creation-Climate Change conference that will be held September 30-October 2nd. I will be one of the plenary speakers along with Nobel Laureate Richard Alley and Professor Mary Wood.

The conference is the first of Duquesne's new annual Presidential Conferences. Duquesne is a progressive Catholic University. They focused this first conference on the issue of climate change given the importance of climate change within the Catholic world today. The Pope's new encyclical on climate change provides a suitable backdrop.

For those of you interested in climate change, the conference looks to be an interesting event. You can find links and registration information for the conference here.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See Online July 5, 2015

Tears--A New Poem by Stan Brunn

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 The topic for this poem was suggested by Natalya Tyutenkova.                       


Tears surface when we lose a close friend
            Or someone we love did us offend.
Tears surface when a dream has been deferred
            Or an unexpected miracle in life occurred.
Tears surface in cases of hurt and personal agony
            Or rebirth, new found ecstasy and inner harmony.
Tears surface with re-reading soul-wrenching lines in a poem
            Or welcoming the restless soul back home.
Tears surface with new found liberation
            Or rekindling the ashes of emancipation.
Tears surface when performing community service and not paying a fine
            Or being found innocent of some terrible crime.
Tears surface in the emotions of the new immigrant citizen
            Or victims of hatred and supporters of patriotism.
Tears surface with healing and the marvels of modern science
            Or touching, enduring prayers and steadfast patience.
Tears surface with the death of a pet and favorite flower
            Or loss of a homeland and political power.
Tears surface with those facing a terminal illness situation
            Or babies born with a debilitating  mental and physical condition.
Tears surface when singing a familiar hymn or recounting a folk tragedy
            Or sharing one’s pilgrimages and personal geography.

Tears are the result of deep-seated sentiments
            Of grieving, happiness and outright fulfillments.
Tears represent the outpouring of some emotion
            Of unexpected losses and personal emancipation.
Tears release our rivers of joys and of sorrows
            Of heavy burdens and beds of flowers.
Tears come from victims of bullying, subtle and blatant racism
            Of family abuse, police and acts of terrorism.
Tears accompany acts of personal growth and freedom
            Of breaking free of a family, society and religious tradition.
Tears are welcomed in times of confession
            Of emptying pent-up anger and frustration.
Tears are our geysers of an endless search for oneness
            Of striving for newness and being morally righteous.
Tears and weeping are mediums of therapy
            Of deep sharings of both harm and ecstacy.
Tears can also be fountains of surprise and glee
            Of inward growth and new found liberty.
Tears come from fantasy and from happiness
            Of giveness and also forgiveness.
Tears forever water the desert of the human soul
            From which all goodness and love eternally flow.

                                                          Stan Brunn, June 28, 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebrating Independence with Inspiration from Solar Impulse

The Solar Impulse in flight. Click for photo credit.
To me, the story of the Solar Impulse serves as an allegory for the quest for freedom as we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S.

This week the plane Solar Impulse left Japan and flew 7200 kilometers to Hawaii without fuel. It was powered completely by solar power. You can read about the epic flight here on a BBC story by Jonathan Amos.

We can have freedom from fossil fuels. Indeed, the Solar Impulse demonstrated that you can fly farther with solar than you can with fossil fuels. .

In 1776, the U.S. rejected King George III in order to gain greater freedom. Today, many are working to free us from the dependence on the international oil industry. The Solar Impulse provides a bit of inspiration to demonstrate that energy independence is possible.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Lisa-Marie's Green Summer Reading List

Me at the beach :) 
Being in a PhD program has limited my reading of dense novels. When I want a break from scholarly reading, I find myself gravitating towards children's books, science fiction, or thrillers. I always enjoyed these genres, but even moreso now that I am in my program. Children's books bring me back to a time when I was carefree. Often those books from my childhood  were required school reading and now as an adult, I have a deeper understanding of these books. Science fiction taps into my creative and imaginative side. All day I deal with empirical papers and sometimes, it is fun to fantasize about a world where humans have super powers. As a child, I wanted to be a detective. When my friends and siblings would play games, I was either the judge or the detective, sometimes even both. It was always fun and this genre always proves to be an enjoyable read.

My  summer beach reading list is a reflection of my tastes in books and my interpretation of green and sustainability. Hopefully some of you share my love for science fiction, children's books, and thrillers. Some of these books I have read in the past and others I am currently reading.

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

The Pelican Brief is a legal thriller about two Supreme Court justices who are murdered and a law student who suspects they were killed because of a court case on oil drilling in an area with a endangered species.

The Appeal by John Grisham

This is book is about a corporation that knowingly let pollutants enter the water supply of a town. A stockholder decides to take things into his own hands and tries to get a court decision overturned.

Song of Trees by Mildred D. Taylor

Originally I was going to add my all-time favorite book - Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry - to this list, but I decided that I could find a Mildred D. Taylor Book that addresses both social justice and the environment. This novella is part of the Logan Family series, which takes place in 1930s rural Mississippi. The Logan family has the choice of selling their land for a better life.  Cassie Logan, wants to save the trees and thinks they hold more value than monetary. Trees are my favorite part of nature and this novella touches not only on their practical value, but their symbolic value.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Another story dealing with trees. I really love trees and nature, so this might be a common theme in my list. This book touches on the economic side of environmentalism. It is about corporations who take over the environment to supply demand for products. This story is about a boy cares enough about saving the trees.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

This is a classic book about the relationship between a young boy and a tree (surprise). The entire book follows the boy and the tree as they age and illustrates the giving (or taking) relationship between the two.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation is book one of a series about an uninhabited place called Area X this is a place where nature has taken over. A team sets out to find out about the mysterious events that occur when people enter Area X.

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book is about the ecological decline of the planet and the humans  left trying to survive. The book mostly centers around a teenager and an individual he saves from a shipwreck.