31 August 2011

Ode to Joy

We sometimes wish we had a magic wand we could wave over our head and make everyone around us happy. Unfortunately, such a device does not exist. Not even Jesus had such a luxury. Notice how he died forsaken even by his closest friends. Our "culture of consumer happiness" is an illusion and will soon be exposed as such. Once we get over the shock we may move on a to a more appropriate human aspiration: Joy.

26 August 2011

Peter's story: “May I help you, m’sieur?”

I once sat in a five-star restaurant in Paris, and watched a waiter working. He moved as if he were on skates, gliding so smoothly, with such balance, that it was a pleasure to watch him. As he put the food down on each table, he said something to the people sitting there. Each diner's face would light up as the waiter spoke. I watched the other waiters, and no one seemed to be having the same impact on the people they were serving. I caught this waiter's eye, and he came over to my table at once.

"May I help you, m'sieur?"

"I know this sounds like a strange question," I said, "but I've been watching you, and you seem to be having a huge impact on the people in this room. What are you saying to them?"

He smiled. "As a young man, when I first came to work in a fine restaurant, I was instructed by the headwaiter to say 'Bon appétit' after I served each table. Because I was in such a rush, I would usually just put the plates down, repeat, 'Bon appétit,' and leave quickly. One day I noticed that there was one second, after I put the plate down, when the diners would look up at me. I found that in that moment, I could look into their eyes, say, 'Bon appétit,' and mean it. I could tell them without words, 'I wish that you have a good meal. I want you to be happy.' Through this simplest gesture, I could make them feel wonderful. It took only a moment to do this, to put the plate down in front of them as if I had cooked it myself. I went from serving food to serving a sacrament. I am the most fortunate of men, m'sieur. What an honor it is to host a meal, to bring nourishment to people, to offer things that brought them joy and delight!"

That's where I learned that with the right intention, you can transform anything into the opportunity to give a gift.

via Meyers, Peter; Nix, Shann (2011-07-26). As We Speak (Kindle Locations 180-195). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.

The point here is that intention is the key to the kingdom when it comes to communication. Communication is sharing a gift with another person. The gift if yourself and your good intention for their wellbeing, health and life. In the Hebrew Bible such an act is called chesed. In the New Testament it is called agape. In the Buddhist tradition it is called compassion. In the business world it is called gravitas. Get some and use it. The world will be a happier place. So will you.


Hurricane Preparations

Hurricane Irene reminds us that this is hurricane season in Houston. Below are some hurricane preparation tips from the latest version of The Beacon. We offer prayers for protection for people this weekend for people who live in or own property on the East Coast.

Are you ready? — Hurricane Season is Here!

2011 Hurricane season is here! The most important thing you can do at this time of the year is create a hurricane survival kit. The basics supplies you should stock include water and food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and supplies and important documents. Keep the items that you would most likely need in an easy-to-move container— suggested items are a large, covered trash container, camping backpack, or a duffle bag. These supplies can be used during an evacuation and/or sheltering in place. Remember once disaster hits, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies. The following lists will help you assemble your supplies.


• At least 1 (one) gallon of water per day per person for 3-5 days

• Non-perishable dry or canned food: ready-to-eat meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, juices and milk

• High energy snack foods: protein or fruit bars, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers

• Comfort foods: nuts, cookies, sweetened cereals, instant coffee, tea and hard candy

• Salt, pepper and sugar

• Vitamins

First aid

• A kit with bandages, gauze pads, tape, anti-bacterial ointment, hydrogen peroxide, thermometer, anti-diarrhea medication, laxative, aspirin or non-aspirin pain relievers, syrup of ipecac, pain medication, antacids, and tweezers

• Latex gloves

• Toilet paper and personal hygiene items

• Paper towels and facial tissues

• Hand sanitizer (Waterless soap saves water for drinking and cooking.)

• Mosquito/insect repellent and sun screen

• Special needs items such as prescription medications (minimum two-week supply), eye glasses, contact lens solutions, hearing aid batteries and other personal items


• Clothing (at least one complete change of clothes per person including one long sleeve shirt)

• Bedding (blankets, pillows and sleeping bags)

• Sturdy work shoes or boots

• Raincoat, hat and gloves

• Sunglasses

Tools and Supplies

• Eating and cooking utensils, paper plates and cups

• Manual can opener

• Liquid detergent and household chlorine bleach

• Plastic bucket and lid

• Aluminum Foil and plastic wrap

• Zip bags (all sizes)

• Matches or lighters in a waterproof container

• Battery-operated radio and extra batteries

• Flashlights (one per person) and extra batteries

• Scissors and assorted safety pins

• Duct tape (useful for clean-up or patching leaks)

• Assorted screwdrivers and screws, pliers, hammer and nails plus shut-off tool for gas and water lines

• Plastic sheeting

• Shovel, utility knife, hatchet and crowbar

• Whistle (one per person)

• Heavy duty plastic garbage bags

• Cell phone, cell phone batteries and extra chargers (Note: Include a telephone that plugs directly into a wall jack.)

• Also pack books, games, puzzles, cards, notebook paper and pencils.

Important Documents

• Insurance & medical records, passports, deeds, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers and companies, inventory of valuable household items, family records (Social Security cards, birth, marriage and death certificates), etc.

• Copies of important keys

• Backup of computer files (on a CD, DVD, USB drive, etc.)

• List of important contact phone numbers stored in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag.


Shelter-in-place means occupants remain inside their home or other building for increased safety and security, weathering the storm and the storm's aftermath without evacuating. This means having food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for a minimum of three days.

Needed Shelter-in-Place items

• Disaster kit supplies

• AM/FM/Weather band radio with extra batteries

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• Corded phone

• Permanent markers and paper

• Dust masks

• Carbon monoxide detector

• Plastic sheeting

• Duct tape

• Whistle

How to Shelter-in-Place at home:

• Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.

• Close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.

• Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.

• Close the fireplace damper.

• Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils. TIP: First sterilize bathtubs and sinks with bleach, then flush with water to remove bleach.

• Go to an interior room without windows that's above ground level.

• Bring your family disaster supplies kits with you.

• Also bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.

• Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.

Remember: Your single greatest information source before, during and after an emergency will be your battery-powered radio.

Sheltering-in-place questions and answers

What does bleach do?

When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant.

Or in an emergency you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops from a medicine dropper or 1/8 teaspoon of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

What type of radio is best?

An AM/FM/Weather band radio that can be powered by batteries AND plugged into an electrical outlet is your best choice for an emergency. However, any battery-powered radio will do.

Why a carbon monoxide detector?

Deadly carbon monoxide from a generator outside your house can filter in through vents or open windows. You would never know it was happening without an inexpensive detector.

Why a corded phone?

A corded phone can be used during a power outage, since it doesn't plug into an electrical outlet. The long cord means you can take it to the safest part of your house.

Why plastic sheeting?

It can be used with duct tape to seal doors, windows, and air vents at home, and offers some protection from contaminated air, hazardous materials and bad weather.

Is my food safe to eat?

Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40° F and frozen food at or below 0° F. This is difficult when the power is out. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if half full) if the door remains closed. Fill the freezer and refrigerator with water bottles to occupy more space. You also can wrap the refrigerator/freezer in a blanket to keep it insulated and preserve foods longer.

24 August 2011

Human Slaves Cheap

Free the Slaves President Kevin Bales was on the radio show 'State of Affairs' on Louisville, KY's NPR station WFPL this week, talking about modern-day slavery. In this interview, Bales discussed the distinction between human trafficking and slavery, saying "human trafficking is simply a process by which people are brought into a situation of slavery." But, he continues, human trafficking victims "are only a smaller part of the slaves in the world."

He also discussed the alarmingly low cost of slaves today. At the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, back in the mid 1800′s, the average cost of a slave in the U.S. was the equivalent of $40 to $50 thousand dollars in today's money. Today, the average cost of a human being is a mere $90. There are more slaves today than ever before in history—an estimated 27 million.

Human Trafficking Awareness month begins next week. Learn more. Get involved. Make a difference.

23 August 2011

Few Successful Questions

What would you do if you knew that there was no way you could possibly fail? What is something you would try? How might you live your life differently for your faith if you knew God was always with you?

Today and every day, right now and in every moment, God is with you. Think about your answers to these questions with that in mind!

21 August 2011

The Peter Principle

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven (in other words, both heaven and hell are here on earth), and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20)

While I've been away I attended worship in a few different churches in Houston. One was a mainline church similar to our own. It was a great service and included a wonderful celebration of the Lord's Supper. The other church I attended was a more modern non-denominational type church. The worship space was dark like a movie theater with no windows and three large screens framing the worship area. The screens showed images of the theme of the day which was mercy. I wanted to attend this church because I sometimes drive past it and each time I wonder what do they do in there? What do they believe? Who are they? The only way to answer such questions is by showing up. Jesus told some people when they asked him what he was about, "Come and see." So I did.

So did Jesus' disciples. They came and saw who Jesus was and what he was about. In our text today Jesus wants to know how they perceive him. So he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Notice Jesus refers to himself as "the Son of Man." That is an interesting phrase. In one of my New Testament classes in seminary, the professor made a big deal out of that phrase. He challenged me and my classmates to go find out what the phrase "the Son of Man" means. I tried and we tried but we never figured it out for sure. It seems the best answer is that "the Son of Man" may be translated as "the human being." So it seems that Jesus was asking his disciples, "Who do people say this person is?" This person in this case means Jesus himself.

The disciples answer Jesus, "Some say you are John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." In other words, they tell Jesus what other people have said. It's always easy to fall back on what others have said about Jesus. What would you say if a stranger on the street asked you who is Jesus? Perhaps your mind would harken back to a childhood church school class or a Vacation Bible School setting and you would respond: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." If so, you would be in good company. Karl Barth was perhaps the most important mainline theologian of the 20th century. He published thousands of pages about the Christian faith. He once said he could boil the whole Christian faith down into one sentence: "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so." But that's Karl Barth's answer so you can't use that one for yourself. For you see, Jesus is asking each of us, as he asked each of his disciples, "Who do ''you'' say that I am?" This is a rhetorical question, meaning, I don't expect you to answer out loud. But think about it. How would you answer Jesus if he asked you, "Who do you say I am?

Someone recently gave me the book. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. It's the story of a 4 year old boy who has an out of body experience during surgery and visits with Jesus in heaven. He describes Jesus in a literal fashion that sounds similar to the way we know him from our kindergarten church school class. Some of us would answer Jesus question: "Who am I?" like the little boy in Heaven is for Real. We would say Jesus is a real person up in heaven who rides around on a white horse and hugs people when they come to heaven for a visit. Yet I wonder if Jesus, being the earthy Jewish carpentar scriptures portray him to be, would not be wanting something different from us when he asks, "Who do you say that I am?"

Here is my own answer to the question: "Who is Jesus?" Jesus is the Christ in me, the hope of glory. That may sound a little New Age to you. My answer does connect myself to Jesus in a very personal manner. Yet, this is the very manner in which the Apostle Paul answered the question. Paul referred to Jesus as "the Christ in me, the hope of glory." That understanding of Christ could be understood as a mystical connection that goes deeper than blood kin.

This makes for interesting conversation but it doesn't answer the question of what's going on in the market today? Is my job safe? Is our country's economy doomed? How did we get to the place where we once again are staring into the abyss? Those are the questions of today. You hear the answers in the media. It's the European Union's fault, especially Greece. It's the S&P's fault for downgrading the rating of the United States. But our question for today is not about the economy it is about Jesus. And no matter how hard we may try to change the subject, we still see Jesus standing there with imploring eyes waiting to hear our answer to his question: "Who do you say that I am?"

After a prolonged silence, Peter pipes up in a moment of divine inspiration and says, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus loves his answer. Thank goodness for Peter! He is seemingly the ADD disciple with attention deficit disorder. He speaks his mind. He does what comes to him. He takes the initiative. Need someone to try walking on water? Peter is your man. Need someone to tell Jesus to lay off talking about the cross? Peter will do that. No wonder a short time later Jesus will tell this same Peter, "Get behind me Satan." This Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. That tells me God never expects or demands perfection in people or in churches. Peter was certainly not perfect but he is the one whom Jesus chose to be an example for the church to follow.

If we are to follow Peter, we will become people of action more than people of speech. We will walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We do that her at St. John's. We are all over the map in missions. We have several new mission initiatives just this summer in the Mustard Seed Grant projects. We are doers of the Word and not hearers only. Peter applauds us for that. So does Jesus. Yet neither Peter nor Jesus expects perfection in us.

Peter was not perfect and he would not have been my choice for leader of the church. He doesn't exhibit the flawless character, the intellectual profundity, the spiritual depth I would prefer in the founder of my church. Instead, I would prefer to have the Apostle Paul as the rock upon which Christ built his church. But Peter gets the nod and I will tell you this: I am really glad to hear that he is the one in charge of heaven's gates! Someone like him may understand someone like me—someone who finds answers hard to come by, who finds it easier and safer to repeat other people's answers—because I have not thought about my own, or because I do not trust God to help me with them. Or someone who goes ahead and says things and then regrets them, or makes brave promises, like, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you," (Matthew 26:35) and then loses heart, saying not once but three times, "I do not know the man." (Matthew 26:74)

If Peter is the rock upon which the church is built then there is hope for all of us, because he is one of us, because he remains God's chosen rock whether he is acting like a cornerstone or a stumbling block, and because he shows us that blessedness is less about perfectness than about willingness—that what counts is to risk our own answers, to go ahead and try, to get up one more time that we fall.

The story of Peter's last encounter with Jesus is told not by Matthew but by John. It takes place on a beach, where the risen Lord has just cooked breakfast for his disciples. As soon as the meal is over, Jesus turns to Peter ands asks him, not once but three times, "Do you love me?" Three times Peter answers, "Yes Lord, you know that I love you." And three times Jesus replies, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17), which leads you to think that maybe the final answer Jesus seeks from those who love him is not an answer that is spoken so much as one that is lived, that the real truth about who he is for each one of us shows up not on our lips but in our lives.

The desire to reach out and share is a characteristic of Christian churches. I saw this in the churches I recently visited. Christ the King Lutheran Church in Rice Village hosts a resilient community action group called Transition Houston. The church provides the group with meeting space and the group provides the church with free yard work. Crosspoint Church in Bellaire is starting a new ministry similar to our apartment ministry but more involved as it provides 3 meals a day and a full time volunteer staff person living in a house with the cancer patients. Churches do things. We don't just talk about things. As the Epistle to James puts is, "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only."

Maybe that is the meaning of the odd ending of this text. Peter has just proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah. Then Jesus sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. I wonder if Jesus was concerned that the disciples not think that talking about it was the most important thing. I wonder if he meant for the disciples to do something about it. Perhaps Jesus wanted the disciples to build solar water systems in Haiti more than he wanted them to write theological treatises about the Divinity of Christ. Both are important endeavors but Jesus seems to prefer action to words. That's why he chose Peter as the leader of the church but then told them all to keep their mouths shut about it. Actions speak louder than words.

19 August 2011

Daniel Suarez

Author Daniel Suarez presents a view of where the world is heading with the rise of bots that manage our lives.

Books by Daniel Suarez

  • Daemon by Daniel Suarez. A highly successful video game designer designs a program that monitors the news for his own obit and when it finds it a cascade of other programs are put in motion that lead to positive changes in the world.
  • Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez. Hackers lead a world revolution toward a new society of greater freedom and self-reliance beyond the control of hollowed out nation states and corporations.

Related books

Related topics

16 August 2011

Homeschooling Resources

Here is a book list I compiled on the topic of homeschooling. I send it out now as school is about to restart. Here's to those parents and children who are bold enough and competent enough to take matters into their own hands when it comes to education.


14 August 2011

RepRap Free 3D Printer

RepRap free desktop 3D printer

RepRap - RepRap is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap is a self-replicating machine - one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that - if you've got a RepRap - you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend.

This Vimeo video shows the RepRap in action and explains the implications of a "free" 3D Printer.

<The RepRap 3D printer is a self replicating machine.>
<RepRap wiki>

More about the RepRap 3D Printer

RepRap is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap is a self-replicating machine - one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that - if you've got a RepRap - you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend.

RepRap is about making self-replicating machines, and making them freely available for the benefit of everyone. We are using 3D printing to do this, but if you have other technologies that can copy themselves and that can be made freely available to all, then this is the place for you too.

Reprap.org is a community project, which means you are welcome to edit most pages on this site, or better yet, create new pages of your own. Our community portal and New Development pages have more information on how to get involved. Use the links below and on the left to explore the site contents. You'll find some content translated into other languages.

RepRap was the first of the low-cost 3D printers, and the RepRap Project started the open-source 3D printer revolution. It is described in the video on the right.

Products related to 3D Printing

External Links for 3D Printing

John Robb Speaking About Open Source Ventures

John Robb of MiiU.org speaks about open source ventures.

12 August 2011

The Help

A review of the movie adaptation of this novel by Kathryn Stockett is available here.

Book Review of The Help

This memorable novel demonstrates the power of courage to increase resilience in the lives of ordinary people. Against the law and the culture in which they lived, a young white woman and two African American domestic workers create a bond, share their stories, engage in civil disobedience and effect positive change in their community. The novel is set in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi (USA), a racially segregated culture. At great personal risk, three women playfully and systematically forge alliances and make stands and continue the effort to effect positive cultural change.

The film shows how African American domestic workers, called “The Help,” reared the children of their white employers. The Help were often the felt mothers of these children. Yet when these white children whom they reared became adults they sometimes became “just like their parents” in their treatment of The Help due to a cultural peer pressure and adjustment to cultural norms.

Nuances in roles and relationship are acknowledged in the film. In some cases The Help were treated with respect and affection and became extended family of and their employing families. In other cases they were abused and the legal and political system of the time always supported the employing whites since they controlled the legal and political system at that time.

In the end, this is a heart warming story of how courage looks in a particular setting. You see courage in the way these women risked their freedom and their lives to tell their stories. In doing so, they broke out of their cultural prison and became free in a way that no legal system can take away. They became free on the inside. They gain their freedom when they tell their stories by writing them down in a book and publishing them for the world to see how the ugly features of how their culture had a different set of rules depending on the color of your skin.

One take away for resilient communities and individuals is to know your opponent and exploit their weaknesses. When an opponent' behavior is predictable is becomes exploitable. For instance, one of the African American maids knows that if they include in the book a particularly embarrassing story about one of the white women employers, they will have power over her and it works. After publication of the story, the white woman, the antagonist in the story, becomes trapped by the chains of the very culture she strives to uphold to her own personal advantage.

Related Novels by Mississippi authors

Purchase The Help

More about The Help

Related media

These three songs come from the same culture and era as The Help.

  • Johnny Cash & June Carter - Jackson / uploaded by Hippekuln / This song was a big hit among the white community in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, the culture and era of the movie The Help.
  • The Johnny Cash Show: The Best of Johnny Cash 1969-1971 Starring Johnny Cash. DVD available here.
  • 118 customer reviews rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars.

09 August 2011

How to save when you shave

Razor blades are expensive! The longer you can make them last the more money you will save. Here are two tips for razor blades savings. These are the kinds of tips that your grandfather probably knew and practiced and it saved him a lot of money over the course of his lifetime.

Keep your razor blades oiled when not in use

Put some olive oil or sesame oil into a soap bin or cup. After you shave, dry the water off your razor blades then store them in oil.

Use a strop to sharpen your razor blades after every use

Find an old pair of blue jeans or similar cloth that you are not using. Cut out a strip and let is serve as your strop. Keep it in your bathroom near where you shave. Before or after you shave rub your razor blades on the strop cloth to sharpen the blades. Rub them 12 times with the handle pointed up and then 12 times with the handle pointed down.

That's it. Mission accomplished! Follow these two simple steps and your razor blades will stay sharp for months instead of days. You can put that money to better use. See the pictures below for an illustration of how it works.

What you will need

  • Some olive oil available here or sesame oil available here.
  • A strip of cloth off a pair of old blue jeans.
  • A razor blade available here.
"How to" pictures here.

*Credit for these ideas goes to garynorth.com.

08 August 2011

Free online AI course from Stanford University

via kurzweil.ai.net
Stanford University's CS221: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Fall quarter 2011 is now available, for free, Stanford has announced.
You can take this online course from professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, along with several hundred Stanford undergrads, without having to fill out an application, pay tuition, or live in a dorm.
This is more than just downloading materials and following along with a live stream; you're actually going to have to do all the same work as the Stanford students. There's a book, at least 10 hours per week of studying, weekly graded homework assignments, a midterm exam, and a final exam. The professors will be available to answer your questions. If you finish the work, you'll get a certificate of completion and a final grade (no college credits, however, unless you're a Stanford student).
You can sign up here, and keep up to date through the class Twitter feed here.
Read original article.

07 August 2011

Transition Houston

I'm posting a MiiU page about Transition Houston. Here is their recommended reading list:
Looks like some good reading to me.

Go Firebirds !!

My son is playing baseball with the Firebirds in Cooperstown All Star Village in Oneonta, NY
this week. 

Here is the live feed for this morning's game.

The games will be broadcast on the web at  www.iscorecast.com with the code 4C0AD05DF3. Look for #12 at shortstop.

Here is the game schedule:
  • Sunday 11:30 am and 7:00 pm.
  • Monday 9:00 am and 2:00 pm
  • Tuesday 11:30 am and 7:00 pm

06 August 2011

Meditation may help the brain reduce distractions and focus

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that positive effects of mindfulness meditation on pain and working memory may result from an improved ability to regulate alpha rhythms to deal with an often-overstimulating world.

Previous studies have suggested that attention can be used to regulate alpha rhythms and, in turn, sensory perception. When an individual anticipates a touch, sight or sound, the focusing of attention toward the expected stimulus induces a lower alpha wave height in cortical cells that would handle the expected sensation, which actually "turns up the volume" of those cells. At the same time the height of the alpha wave in cells that would handle irrelevant or distracting information increases, turning the volume in those regions down.

Because mindfulness meditation — in which practitioners direct nonjudgmental attention to their sensations, feelings and state of mind — has been associated with improved performance on attention-based tasks, the research team decided to investigate whether individuals trained in the practice also exhibited enhanced regulation of the timing and intensity of alpha rhythms. Read more here.

World’s first ‘printed’ aircraft

July 28, 2011 via KurzweilAI.net

Engineers at the University of Southampton have designed and flown the world's first "printed" aircraft, which could revolutionize the economics of aircraft design, the engineers say.

The SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft) plane is an unmanned air vehicle (UAV), with its entire structure printed. This includes wings, integral control surfaces, and access hatches. It was printed on an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, which fabricates plastic or metal objects, building up the item layer-by-layer.

It took only 48 hours to print. No fasteners were used and all equipment was attached using "snap fit" techniques so the entire airframe could be put together without tools in about 30 seconds, according to Prof. Andy Keane. The aircraft took around 8 person weeks. It passed tests for speed, maneuverability, and climb rates.

"The great attraction is the fully automated manufacture with guaranteed quality and very simply assembly — weight is comparable to other systems since reduced strength of nylon compare to CFRP is compensated for by structural design sophistication," Keane told KurzweilAI. Read more.

3-D Printer: Your Next Home Accessory

For the latest developments on this topic see 3D Printing updates.

Imagine being able to print a cup and saucer on a machine that sells for the price of a toaster. Such is the promise of 3-D Printers in the home (or at least at local Hackerspaces.

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. Advanced 3D printing technologies yield models that can serve as product prototypes.

3-D printers are older than you may think. They have been around for more than 20 years. Hobbyists are printing their own action figures, doctors have used the systems to print artificial organs, and chefs are testing out ways to print gourmet meals.

The cheapest printers five years ago ranged from $25,000 to $50,000. Now, they're available for as little as $1,000. Read more at CNN Money.

  • The 3D printing "industry" grew 24% last year. Wohlers Associates conservatively forecasts industry-wide growth to be $3.1 billion by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020. Thus, according to John Robb at Global Guerrillas, 3D printing is breaking out of the hobbyist market.

  • There are now 4,000 MakerBot 3D printers out in the wild. Join Chris Hardwick as he ventures into the "Botcave" to uncover the story—and vision— behind MakerBot's mission to democratize personal manufacturing. View the MakerBot tour here.

  • Illustrative of the movement of 3D printers into the mainstream, there is now an  iPhone app that allows users to scan and print models of their faces on home fabrication machines.


I'm posting now at MiiU.org. Check it out. It's the resilience wiki. Lots of useful information there.