A List of Environmental and Telecommunications Events and Issues

September 26 to October 3, 1997

Published, Edited and Written by George Mokray for
Information Ecologies
218 Franklin St #3
Cambridge, MA 02139

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Saturday, September 27

10 am - 4:30 pm
Clean Water Action Alliance Annual Meeting and 25th Anniversary Party
Sandra Steingraber, Ross Gelbspan, John O'Connor, and others
contact 423-4661 or bostoncwa@igc.org
Point Breeze on Webster Lake, Webster, MA
Lunch & Party $6 plus Cash Bar

8:30 pm
Yanomami Indian Film Benefit: Amazon Journal
contact 495-4700
Harvard Film Archive, Carpenter Center, Room B-04

Party for Food Not Bombs and Radio Free Allston (106.1 FM)
contact 562-0828 or http://www.tiac.net/users/error/radiofreeallston/
229 Northhampton St, Boston

Sunday, September 28

Environmental Writers' Festival - meet award-winning nature environmental writers and participate in lectures and panels during an all-day workshop
contact 973-5295 for fees and registration information
New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston

New England Environmental Education Alliance
contact Richard Haley (860)455-9534 or write NEEA 12 George Ave, Middleton, MA 02842
YMCA Camp Jewell, Colebrook, CT

12 pm - 5 pm
Benefit for the Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts (BCOM) - $2 of the $5 admission goes to bicycling advocacy and education initiatives; the rest buys a Redbones' BBQ sandwich and a pint of Pilgrim Ale or soft drink
contact ConradLW@aol.com
Redbones, Chester St, Davis Sq, Somerville

1 pm
Violence and Children and The Children's War - exhibit of works of African children
contact 577-1400
Cambridge Multicultural Art Center, 41 Second St

Monday, September 29

3:30 pm
Superconducting Magnets for Fusion and the ITER Project
Joe Minervini, MIT
MIT Building NW12, Room 222

4 pm
Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush and the Limits of Government Patronage of Technological Research
Gregg Pascal Zachary, journalist and independent historian
contact 253-4062
MIT Building E51, Room 095

AI and Theology: From Logos to Mythos and Back
Anne Foerst, MIT
MIT Building 34, Room 101
Editorial Comment: There is some controversy at MIT about this course, being taught by a scientist who is also a minister. Deus ex machina, anyone? Or are you ready for the technological singularity?

Canada and Global Competitiveness: Recent Lessons from Ontario's Experience
Ernie Eves, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, Ontario
Harvard, Coolidge Hall, 1737 Cambridge St, Room 3

4:10 pm
Race and Intimacy in Television Advertising
Robert Entman, NC State Univ
Harvard, Taubman Hall, Room 275

4:30 pm
Polymer Physics - Who Cares?
Frank Bates, Univ of MI
Harvard, Jefferson 250

7 pm
Forum on Religion, Values, and the Economy
Doug Hicks, Harvard
contact 496-3586
Harvard, Pfeiffer Room

September 30 - December 16, 1997

Tuesdays, 9:30am - 12:30 pm
Ecopsychology: New Models of Mental Health and Psychotherapy
Sarah A. Conn and Lane K. Conn
contact 497-1553 or cpsc@igc.apc.org
Somerville Hospital at Heritage

Tuesday, September 30

12 pm
Late-Breaking Foreign Policy: The News Media's Influence onPeace Operations
Warren Strobel, Washington Times
Harvard, Taubman Hall, Room 275

Hydraulic Empire: John R. Freeman and America's Massive Dam Tradition
Donald C. Jackson, Lafayette College
contact 253-6989 or dibner@mit.edu
MIT Building E56 (Dibner Institute)

2:15 pm
Cinderella Coming to the Ball? The New Look of Europe
David williamson, European Commission
Harvard, Center for European Studies, 27 Kirkland St

4 pm
Micromachining of High Performance RF MEMS for Microwave and Millimeter-Wave Applications
Charles Goldsmith, Raytheon TI Systems
contact 253-4799
MIT Building 34, Room 101

4:30 pm
The Shape of Waters Wars to Come in the Middle East
John Waterbury, Princeton Univ
contact 253-8961 or gabig@mit.edu
MIT Building E51, Room 095

5:30 pm
Mind Control and Cult Phenomenon
Steven Hassan, author
contact 776-6762
Harvard Divinity School Chapel, Andover Hall

6:30 - 9pm
Charles River Master Plan Meeting
contact 727-5114 x533 or Kate.Sullivan@state.ma.us
Howard Johnson's on Memorial Dr, near River St

7 pm
New Urban Agenda
Rudolph Guiliani, Mayor of New York
Harvard, Kennedy School of Government, ARCO Forum

7 pm
Forum on Haiti: Noam Chomsky and Sen. Renaud Bernardin
contact 354-2731 or 265-9248
St Paul AME Church, 85 Bishop Allen Dr
Suggested donation: $5

7:30 pm
Political Correctness, Psychoanalysis, and a Not Too General Theory of History
Teresa Brennan, Cornell Univ
Harvard, Barker Center, Room 133

Wednesday, October 1

12 pm
Should the US Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban?
Joan Rohlfing, Special Asst. to the Secretary of Energy
contact 253-0133 or llevine@mit.edu
MIT Building E38, Room 615

3:30 pm
Instructional Technology at the Graduate School of Design
Stephen Ervin, Harvard
Harvard, Gund Hall, Room 111

4:30 pm
God, The Scientist
Paul Penfield, MIT
MIT Building 34, Room 101

Thursday, October 2

7:30 pm
Religions of the World and Ecology Lecture Series: Hinduism, Gandhi, and Patterns of Development in India
T N Khoshoo, former Minister of Environment, India
Harvard Divinity School, Andover Hall, Braun Room

Friday, October 3

4 pm
The Evolution of Atmospheric Oxygen
Heinrich Holland, Harvard
contact http://www-eaps.mit.edu/dept_sem.html
MIT Building 54, Room 915

Saturday, October 4

National Day of Conscience against Sweatshops
contact 524-1166

10 am - 12 pm
Living More Simply: Transforming Your Lifestyle
contact 628-5558 or oggc@fcl-us.net
Central Sq Library, 45 Pearl St

7 pm
Benefit Showing of Michael Moore's new documentary "The Big One"
for MA Jobs with Justice. Michael Moore will be present.
contact 491-2525
Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St, Brookline $5 - $10 Donation

7:30 pm
Science and Environment: Issues Facing India in the 21st Century
Anil Agarwal, Center for Science and Development, New Delhi, India
Harvard, Andover Hall, Sperry Room

Sources for Listings:
MIT _Tech Talk_ :
Harvard _Gazette_ :
Harvard Environmental Resources On-Line:
MA Executive Office of Environmental Affairs calendar:
Earth Day Network international/national listings:
Earth Day Greater Boston calendar:

act-ma the Massachusetts activists mailing list:
subscribe by emailing majordomo@igc.apc.org, leaving the subject line blank and typing "subscribe act-ma" as the message

Peace and Justice Events Hotline at (617)787-6809

Computer Organizations of NE (CONE):
http://bcs1.ziplink.net/cone/sig - Special Interest Group list
http://bcs1.ziplink.net/cone/cal/index.html - calendar
Boston Webmasters Guild

Community Technology Center Network http://www.ctcnet.org Table of Contents

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Change in Sources for Listings

Note that I've changed the Sources for Listings section, dropping SigNet, one of the organizations that formed to replace the Boston Computer Society. Its calendar Webservice is not being updated right now. CONE, Computer Organizations of NE, has a list of computer user groups that are continuing to meet. This is where you should go with specific hardware and software problems and many have monthly meetings with speakers of interest. Allan Sherman (als@ma.ultranet.com) is compiling a timely calendar of such meetings. This is the one essential activity of a general self-help group and Allan deserves our respect for his hard work and all the help we can give him. Take a look at
and tell him what you think.

I am also including the Community Technology Center Network as they are coordinating with many of the local experiments in public access at libraries, schools, public access TV stations, and sites established for computer access and training.

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Grade School Planning

Editorial Comment: I published this piece in a recent edition of _Spare Change_, the local homeless newspaper. What continues to amaze me is the quality of the work these 5th and 6th graders put out. Their book puts all of us adults to shame and their innocent eyes see so clearly it hurts. I have sent Isabel Eccles, their teacher, a packet including the basic information the Sustainable Cambridge Coalition assembled about five years ago, a proposal for having students do local environmental monitoring, and an article from "A List..." about Webresources for online planning and GIS. As far as I am concerned, we should turn over our development process to ten and eleven year olds like these. By all measures, they probably would do a much better and more honest job.

I've been reading _Voices of Central Square_ by the 1996 5th/6th Grade Class of the Fayerweather Street School taught by Isabel Eccles and Susan Daily. These 20 children have produced a better history and planning document than anything I've seen from the Central Square Improvement Project and their $3.5 million "revitalization." Unlike almost everybody in the recent debate over Central Square, including the developers, lawyers, designers, and politicians, these children know how to do their homework.

The students interviewed elders at the Senior Center to discover what life was like when they were growing up in and around Central Square. They heard about Harvard Bazar, Kresge's, the Manhattan Market, the Central Square and Olympia Theatres. They learned how the kids back then had no snow holidays but would skip school to see the movies and usually get caught by the principal as he waited in the lobby between shows.

They surveyed close to 200 individuals to discover why people go to Central Square and what they like and dislike about it. Since the trash situation was the most frequently mentioned problem, they did another survey on the causes of the trash and dirt and litter. 40% said that there aren't enough trash cans on the street, 36% of the people asked thought that the trash problem was a result of the Square's overuse, 34% believe that the fast food restaurants generate too much trash.

They interviewed Mary Chung and wrote an ode to her Suan La Chow Show, Edwin Ortiz of CCTV, Rozann Kraus of The Dance Complex, Captain Mahoney of the Lafayette Square Firehouse, City Councillor Frank Duehay who responded to the question "What are some of the big changes involving Central Square that have been made since you've been on the City Council?" by saying:

"Well, I think that there haven't been a great many changes. One of the very important changes is in the zoning. Zoning is what controls the height and density of new buildings, and the Central Square area was zoned for high rise at a 4.0 density and it has been changed to 3.0 which means that new development will occur at a more modest rate."

It is interesting to note that the recent proposal by Holmes Real Estate Trust is to build a building at the corner of Magazine Street and Massachusetts Avenue that has a density of 4.7 and a height of around 115 feet. So much for Councillor Duehay's powers of prognostication.

They visited the Police Station and found that crime is at an all time low in Cambridge and that Central Square should be considered relatively safe. The Square's reputation is worse than the reality. According to Officer Dave Gittens, "The biggest problem in Central Square is probably public drunkenness." According to the Community Oriented Policing Task Force on Public Drunkenness, there are only about 45 people who are consistent public drunkenness problems throughout Cambridge.

They interviewed Mark Lahoud of 1369 Coffeehouse, Bonnie Boulay of TT the Bear's, Gwen Gray of Carberry's, Allen Day and Big John Belmonte at Cheapo records and wrote a poem about hunting for musical treasure on the cold floor of their basement, Robert LeBlanc of Harvard Donut who ran through the litany of store names with a customer named Helen:

Helen: In Central Square we had Woolworth's, Grant's, Lincoln's...
Robert: Kresge's
Helen: Kresge's, Almee's
Robert: Cochran's
Helen: Cochran's, Harvard Bazar, Goran's
Robert: Oh, yeah
(And I still miss Rachel's Fabrics.)

They interviewed Alan Wiener of Wiener's Tobacco, Reverend Larry Love who has a photographic-genic memory, John Sudbury of the Liberty Cafe, and walked through time with Mr Jones who told them about the Waldorf Restaurant which like the Hayes-Bickford was open all night, once upon a time. They wrote about the natural history of the pigeons in Central Square (where have they all gone this summer?) and a poem for them. They interviewed Francess Finde Sammah at the Salvation Army Store, Nabil and Sahar at the Middle East, built a timeline from the days Central Square was a hillock surrounded by swamps to the making of their book. They wrote poems and drew pictures, authored a comic on the elemental superheroes of Central Square, and ended their volume with a Central Square quiz. Can you pass their test?

They even covered the Central Square Improvement Project:

"We asked if the planning committee reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the Central Square neighborhood and Roger Booth [of the Cambridge Community Development Department] admitted that, 'It could be more racially diverse.' We thought that this was kind of stupid and maybe hadn't been thought through very well because Central Square is very diverse and any planning committee should reflect the people of the community - so everyone's voices can be heard." They found that the newer residents and businesses in the Square were more likely to favor "renovation" while the longer term residents and businesses were worried that the planned changes will destroy "their same old hometown Square." They wondered whether the Square would become more of a mall, yuppified, that rents would go up and people would have to leave.

They studied the demographics of Central Square and found that 24% of the people who are over 5 speak a language other than English at home and that 55.1% have at least a college degree or higher. The city's average is 54.2% so it seems the people of Central Square are better educated than most of Cambridge. They discovered the median income per household is $29,405 which means that half the people in Central Square will not be able to afford the "market rate" apartments Holmes Real Estate Trust plans to build. Holmes Real Estate Trust wants to rent out two bedroom apartments at $1000 to $1200 a month or $12,000 to $14,400 per year. I can remember when the rule of thumb was one week's pay for one month's rent. These days, I think the Consumer Price Index is based upon one third of income for housing costs.

In every interview these perceptive young people asked, "What do you like about Central Square." Time after time after time, the answer came back, "Diversity." Arvilla Sarazen from the Elder Center said about her high school days, "There wasn't any color - just people!" Edwin Ortiz said, "Central Square is called Central Square because it's central to everything and anybody who's anybody can come to Central Square for something." Dave Gittens said, " What I like is it brings in a lot of people together." When they asked Gwen Gray why Carberry's chose to come to Central Square, she answered, "Because the guys who opened it wanted to be a part of a community."

Alain Duchemin, Ben Sadler, Cassie Fliegel, Claudia Augustin, Colin Brennan, Corey Haddad, Elissa Huber-Anderson, Emily Eames, Hillary Hayward-Thomas, Leora Fridman, Lizzie Johnson, Jon Colburn, Josh Billings, Morgan Sweet, Nick Barber, Orlando Klass, Rachael Flaherty, Sam Missel, Tara Zagoren, and Tom Malnati have compiled a great resource with the help of their teachers, Isabel Eccles and Susan Daily. You can purchase the book from the Cambridge Historical Commission at 831 Mass Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139 and from the Fayerweather Street School, 74 Fayerweather St, Cambridge, MA 02138 for $12 (well worth the price) or find it in the Cambridge Public Library. I only wish that these fine scholars and thoughtful activists were making the final decisions about the changes that Central Square now faces.

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MAI Online Seminar Invitation

Editorial Comment: Douglas Hinrichs (hinrichs@csf.colorado.edu) sent this to me. Wonder if our trade reps and multinational and transnational CEOs will participate?

"Fast Track, the MAI and Sustainability" will be the topic of the next Communications for a Sustainable Future (CSF) Online Seminar, starting Monday, September 29 and ending October 10, 1997. The seminar continues CSF's series in "Sustainable Economics" and will examine various perspectives and implications of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) currently being negotiated at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Joining in the online discussion of this controversial proposal for a new international agreement on investment will be OECD Representative and MAI investment specialist Marie-France Houde, Stephen Viederman, Paul Hawken, and experts from various nations and fields of study.
OPINIONS on the MAI are profoundly divided. The United States Council for International Business says:

"When concluded, the MAI will become the next pillar in the global system of trade, finance, and investment."

But The Preamble Center for Public Policy maintains:

"The MAI will guarantee foreign investors the ability to acquire 100% equity ownership in almost all economic sectors, enabling manufacturers to relocate almost anywhere they please. (also), the MAI will make it more lucrative for corporations to move production facilities to low-wage countries by banning costly performance requirements..."

Of proposed "Fast Track" negotiating authority, Chantell Taylor of Public Citizen says:

"... the President did not explicitly EXCLUDE the MAI in fast track, which means that he has maneuvering ability ... to apply fast track when the time comes WITHOUT risking the political heat now..."
Several more perspectives on the MAI - including those from David Korten, the OECD, George Monbiot, William Witherell, and Noam Chomsky - may be accessed from:
To SUBSCRIBE to the online seminar, please send an e-mail message of: sub sustainable-economics Firstname Lastname
to: Listproc@csf.colorado.edu

To POST your comments to the list, e-mail them to:

We encourage you to include a descriptor in the "Subject" line of your e-mail. If there is interest, a CONSENSUS STATEMENT will be drafted by seminar participants.
For more INFORMATION, please see:
and http://csf.colorado.edu/sustainable-economics/mai/
If you have QUESTIONS about the online seminar, please e-mail Douglas Hinrichs at hinrichs@csf.colorado.edu

Table of Contents

Public Owned Renewable Power

Editorial Comment: This came in from Wind Energy Weekly (http://www.igc.apc.org/awea/). I understand from my sources that the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (http://www.nesea.org/) is also talking about a similar venture. Me, I still want my windowsill or backpack system and complete decentralization but then I've always been a minimalist.

Randy Udall, director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) in Aspen, Colo., circulated a proposal May 24 to energy advocates around the U.S. calling for a "Clean Power Alliance" that would build its own renewable- energy generating plants and sell the power to retail customers nationwide.

* The Clean Power Alliance would be a publicly-owned cooperative utility. Says Udall, "We sometimes forget that of the 3,200 utilities in this country, only 244 are IOUs [Investor-Owned Utilities]. The rest are publicly-owned [municipal utilities] or rural co-ops. Have munis and co-ops done enough for renewables? Of course not. But as an institution, public power has a long and distinguished history. . . .

"Public ownership of renewable energy has succeeded wherever it has been tried. In Denmark, 100,000 families cooperatively own and operate utility-scale wind turbines. In England, The Wind Company is selling turbine shares in its wind projects. In Traverse City, Mich., 200 people are, in effect, banding together to buy a wind turbine. In Ft. Collins, Colo., some 700 people have agreed to pay the incremental cost of owning two wind turbines."

* The Alliance would look for ways to lower the cost of its product through innovative financing methods. Udall points to recent studies by Ryan Wiser and others at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (see Wind Energy Weekly #709, August 12, 1996; #747, May 12; and #748, May 19) and by Thomas Wind, a consultant for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, that demonstrate that lower financing costs can sharply lower the cost of wind energy, making it much more competitive in a deregulated marketplace.

Says Udall, "[A] 10% decrease in financing costs, from 15% to 5%, reduces wind's cost from 6 cents/kWh to 3 cents/kWh. That's not as cheap as springtime hydro or baseload coal, but it's in the ballpark with everything else . . . Maybe there's a fatal flaw here, but why couldn't Working Assets or a Clean Power Alliance offer its customers 5% returns on 10-year wind power bonds or wind power CDs [Certificates of Deposit] or wind turbine shares. "Make them payable in cash or, better yet, clean power. That way, the energy buyers are the energy sellers. Plus, you've locked in your customers . . . "

* The Alliance, as proposed, would own renewable energy generating plants instead of simply purchasing power from them. Argues Udall, "When the product is invisible, packaging is king. The more real the packaging, the more alluring the product. And what is more real than a turbine, more alluring than 150-foot blades spinning in the wind? . . . The hardware makes the power visible. It adds credibility. It closes the loop on certification and disclosure."

* The Alliance would seek to develop a pure product rather than one that is blended with conventional energy sources. Market researchers at Public Service Company of Colorado, a utility that has developed a wind green pricing program, "discovered that the decision to buy clean power is grounded in emotion," says Udall. "If buying clean power is a transaction of the mind, the product should have spirit and soul. It has to sing. It has to speak to our higher aspirations."

Developing a purely clean product, Udall adds, addresses the issue of certification and disclosure from the competitive side rather than the enforcement side: "[The certification-and-disclosure issue is] a Rubik's cube that will be some years in solving. What's more, both certification and disclosure may require legislative approval--which utilities will attempt to torpedo."

Concludes Udall, "I believe a Clean Power Alliance, organized by Working Assets or Green Mountain Power or Foresight or . . . someone else is our best hope to develop a market-based mechanism for promoting renewable energy. . . . There's a great product here. Working together, let's invent, produce, market, and buy it."

For further information, contact James R. (Randy) Udall, Director, Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Box 9707, Aspen, CO 81612, phone (970) 544-9808, fax (970) 544-9599, e-mail <rudall@aol.com>.

Editorial Comment: In related news, the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of MA voided the DPU ruling that compelled MIT to pay a "customer transition charge" of $1.3 million per year to Cambridge Electric Light. MIT had built a cogeneration facility that met most of its electricity needs and CELCo applied for a settlement for their so-called stranded costs due to this lost business. Whether this ruling is final or a harbinger of what is to come in the multi-billion dollar battle over who is to pay for uneconomical power plants is another question.

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Northern Forest Stewardship Act Action

Editorial Comment: Julie Wormser (julie_wormser@tws.org) fo the Wilderness Society sent this notice out.

For more information, contact Julie Wormser or Bob Perschel at The Wilderness Society (p) 617/350-8866 (f) 617/426-3213 (e) julie_wormser@tws.org

Your Voice for Common Sense is Needed to Pass the Northern Forest Stewardship Act

Originally introduced in Congress in 1995, the Northern Forest Stewardship Act lays the foundation for protecting wildlands, ensuring good forestry, and strengthening local economies by building upon the recommendations of the Northern Forest Land Council. The Stewardship Act is the product of one of the most extensive consensus-building processes ever undertaken in the development of a piece of federal legislation. It is a moderate, reasonable and balanced plan to protect a region that contains vital resources that are essential to the whole country. It has the unanimous support of the senatorial delegation from the four Northern Forest states and strong, regional bi-partisan support in the House of Representatives.

Today, in spite of strong support from almost all the stakeholders in our region, the Northern Forest Stewardship Act (NFSA) (S. 546) is still stalled in committee. It is being held hostage by national, western-based, wise-use groups. They have launched a blatant misinformation campaign to try to block passage of the Stewardship Act.

Allowing these groups to undermine the outstanding public process that helped develop the Stewardship Act and the widely supported measures it would implement calls into question whether this Congress can deliver on common sense environmental concerns. It also calls into question whether constructive compromise can achieve change or bitter controversy and polarization is the only alternative.

We have worked too hard and this bill is too reasonable to allow extreme outside interests to derail it at the last minute.

Call or Write your Senators TODAY
Urge them to do everything they can to pass the Northern Forest Stewardship Act (S. 546) and make good on the commitment the people of this region made as part of the Northern Forest Lands Council Process. Urge them to stand up to the western-based wise-use movement and ensure common sense public consensus wins out over extremist, marginal ideologies. It is critically important that your senator hears from you within the next two weeks. We must get action on the senate bill before Congress adjourns in November.

Write a Letter to the Editor of Your Local Paper
Use the information in this alert to compose a letter to the editor of your local paper. It is vitally important that our elected representatives and the public see that there is strong support for the Northern Forest Stewardship Act among people in the region. Contact your state NFA coordinator or the NFA office is you need assistance.

To call your Senator, dial toll-free:
or call the Capitol Switchboard and ask for your Senator at:

Table of Contents

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay Job

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, a citizen-based non-profit fostering a positive vision of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay and build a broad-based constituency to promote the restoration and protection of these valuable resources, is looking for a full time Policy/Program Director to direct SHSB policy and related programs as well as assist with fundraising.

Janey Keough
Operations Director
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay
25 West Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: 617-451-2860

Deadline for applications is Oct. 10, 1997. Decision expected by November 3, 1997.

Table of Contents

Tacachale Programs Workshop

Editorial Comment: D. Ann Gill-Lawson (tacachal@datastream.net) asked me to include this event announcment. The best environmental workshop I went to last year was the one in which I learned how to twist cord from leaves and bark. I twisted about six feet of cord from my dead spider plant leaves in celebration of reading all the fiber articles in the latest _Whole Earth_ (http://www.well.net/mwec/wer.html). Maybe someday I'll learn a little about tracking too.

Tacachale Programs is sponsoring a primitive skills workshop on Nov. 6-9, 1997 at Magnolia Springs State Park, near Millen, GA. College credit is available to interested participants. Class descriptions are at the internet address:

They include:

D. Ann Gill-Lawson, Director
871 Willis Lane
Dublin, GA 31021 Email tacachal@datream.net
912-274-9008 Home 912-676-3963 Work 912-676-3965 Fax

Editorial Comment: It's always good to be ready for the Neolithic.

Table of Contents

HDTV, WebTV, Computer TV, Whose TV?

_Boston Globe_ (http://www.boston.com) Sunday Business section of September 21 had two front page articles on TV. The bigger piece was on the future of HDTV, high definition television, the new standard that allows for film or better image quality from a television set (or computer monitor?). According to the article, new HDTV sets will be available for $5000 by Christmas 1998. Another option is a set-top converter box for existing sets. I can put this new converter on top of the cable TV box or next to the new cable modem the cable company wants to sell me. This is the same cable company that seems to have eliminated NASA and the International channels in favor of two new golf channels. The same cable company that's also trying to sell me high speed Internet access. 50x the speed for twice the money. And a major computer upgrade, in my particular case.

The article concentrates on the lack of broadcasters jumping into HDTV technology. Conversion for the 1400 TV stations across the country is estimated from $3 million to $8 million per station (or $4.2 to 11.2 billion for the industry). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave the broadcasting industry a large chunk of the electromagnetic spectrum to use for HDTV broadcast with the understanding that it would be done within a few years. Now, these same broadcasters seem to be more interested in using that bandwidth for "enhanced" existing services, multiplexing five or six channels in the space that one HDTV channel requires.

_The Globe_ points out "the most immediate problem is building enough towers to hold all of the new digital antennas." And that's just for the HDTV systems. What about all the other wireless communications devices? A recent Village Voice article talked about a number of people being affected by line of sight microwave antennas for "personal communication systems" (PCS). We're swimming in a more and more turbulent electromagnetic atmosphere. What are the biological effects to each of our "bodies electric"? It may be more than that microwave ringing in your ears. The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive (http://feb.se/) has a lot of information about the general issues and the Environmental Health Advocacy League, PO Box 425, Concord MA 021742 (508)287-4543 has specific information about PCS antennas and health effects (and the regulatory barriers to stopping of slowing installations on health or environmental grounds).

The other article was on the second generation of WebTV, just bought into by Microsoft. WebTV Plus allows a user to watch TV programs and the Internet on the same machine at the same time (monthly fee and 56 k modem included). There are at least three other companies trying a variety of ways of "converging" TV with the computer.

Hiawatha Bray, the author of the article, says, "Maybe the rest [of us] are hanging back because traditional computers are too expensive, or becasue they can't surf the Web and view 'Baywatch' at the same time." Well, I'm typing this on my computer next to my television which is on at this particular moment (ABC "20/20," God help me) and I have definitely accessed the Net while watching CSPAN (God help me twice as much).

Table of Contents

The Begging Bowl

I tried to publish this edition of "A List..." on my sister's machine in New Jersey and found it to be impossible to transfer my original text file into a format that would be mailable to you, dear reader. Such are the tribulations of someone with (much) limited computer skills. This is the first time in nearly three years that I haven't published on schedule. I apologize for the inconvenience and my own failure.

However, it is amazing to me that I have been able to keep to such a schedule for nearly three years. Especially since I am such a lazy person. Foolishly, I gave myself a Friday deadline for the listserv and a Sunday deadline for the Webpage (a deadline that I am also forced to ignore this week), effectively screwing up my week-ends for as long as I do "A List..." What a maroon!

I hope that you enjoy reading all this as much as I enjoy putting it together. More importantly, I hope that some of all this stream of verbiage proves to be useful to you in real and practical ways. Thanks for your time and attention. Any comments, criticism, suggestions for articles and pointers to resources, money, good wishes, or a kind thought in an off-hand moment are fully appreciated and always an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

How "A List..." works:
If you want to have a listing included in "A List..." please send it to me before noon on the Friday before the event and if said even is deemed suitable for coverage, it will be included in the appropriate edition of "A List..." Articles and reviews, ideas, rants and opinions are also solicited. Publication is up to the erratic discretion of the editor.

"A List..." is also a listserv. You can subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv by emailing a-list-request@world.std.com, leaving the Subject line blank, and typing "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" as the message.

"A List..." is a freeware/shareware publication. If the information is of any value to you, please contribute - money, information, encouragement, prayers and good wishes are all valid currencies for feedback and will be gratefully appreciated by
George Mokray
Information Ecologies
218 Franklin St #3
Cambridge, MA 02139

This publication is copyrighted to George Mokray and the individual writers of the articles. Permission to reproduce is granted for non-profit purposes as long as the source is cited.