John Scalzi gets it.
Modern Farmer: What motivated you to start Mountain Moss?
‘Every time I see the bulldozers, my heart aches for all of the plants that got destroyed.’
Annie Martin: I had a two-pronged stimulus. Number one, I wanted to create moss gardens for other people so that they could enjoy the aesthetic aspect, as well as some of the environmental advantages of using mosses in landscapes. My second motivation was that, having lived in western North Carolina, going back generations, these mountains are my home. I’ve watched development occur my entire life. Every time I see the bulldozers, my heart aches for all of the plants that got destroyed. My particular plant of concern is all the varieties of mosses. We have 450 species of bryophytes in western North Carolina. That’s what prompted me to start Mountain Moss as a business.
MF: You describe moss as a viable horticultural choice. If someone has a garden or farm, what are the benefits of introducing moss?
‘There’s no groundwater contamination from any aspect of landscaping with mosses.’
AM: The overall environmental benefit, if you want to generalize about all species, would be that they require no fertilizer, no pesticides and no herbicides, therefore, there’s no groundwater contamination from any aspect of landscaping with mosses. They’re really off in a category by themselves. With that said, some grow sideways, and some grow upright. Both ways, there are species that are valuable in erosion control. For instance, Polytrichum is an upright species and it goes straight down into most nutrient-poor, atrocious soil you can imagine: red clay and gravel. It can end up holding the soil so that on very steep hillsides, you can address erosion issues without plants that require you to get up there with a weed-eater and maintain them. The other [benefit] is water filtration. We can utilize mosses, for instance, for storm water control, even in urban locations, or in settings where river rock continues to try to help mediate the flow of water. That’s kind of ugly, in my opinion. You can soften it by utilizing mosses that will grow on the rocks themselves.
MF: Can moss only complement what someone is already doing for erosion control and water filtration?
AM: In can actually be the total alternative, in my opinion. In my most recent installation in Georgia, they had a problem with mud and sediment coming from an upper terrace of what was an original cotton plantation, and then it terraced down to a new pond like three or four levels. They were having a big runoff issue at one spot, and, of course, they didn’t want mud in their newly-created trout pond. They were using hay bales and river rock to mediate the situation and get it under control. But, that’s pretty ugly. So, we changed it out with these huge mature colonies of Polytrichum that I’m confident will solve the problem.
MF: Do you have a favorite moss that you like to incorporate into your displays?
‘I will admit that sometimes my favorites change from day to day. I believe that most of the time, Climacium is my favorite.’
AM: I have to smile when you ask that question, because I will admit that sometimes my favorites change from day to day. I believe that most of the time, Climacium is my favorite. It just has this growth pattern. When it starts out, it looks like a little conifer tree with this intense, brilliant green. As it starts to grow up, it can reach heights of maybe an inch and a half, two inches. At its maturity, the top part of the “tree” is maybe as large as a silver dollar. Its color ranges from that initial bright, intense green to some medium green, to some olive green, then into kind of a pretty ugly brown. But, if it’s in the sun, it can be an intense yellow. I mean just a gorgeous yellow.
MF: What’s one of the most important things you want people to know about moss?
AM: Mosses require moisture or humidity to thrive. There are many moss myths. Mosses do grow in the shade, but there are certain species that can tolerate sun — it can be more of a challenge to grow them. My moss mantra is “water and walk on your mosses.” If I gave any guideline at all, to me, that is the key.
All photos are courtesy of Annie Martin. More information on moss and it’s many uses can be found at here at Mountain Moss Enterprises.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
The post Beautiful Bryophytes: A Q&A with Moss Queen Annie Martin appeared first on Modern Farmer.
via firehose, cosigned
list of people i like:
This is the future if nothing is done to stop it.
In a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department sent a civilian aircraft over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality.
Compton residents weren't told about the spying, which happened in 2012. "We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people," Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting. The technology he's trying to sell to police departments all over America can stay aloft for up to six hours. Like Google Earth, it enables police to zoom in on certain areas. And like TiVo, it permits them to rewind, so that they can look back and see what happened anywhere they weren't watching in real time.
If it's adopted, Americans can be policed like Iraqis and Afghanis under occupation–and at bargain prices:
McNutt, who holds a doctorate in rapid product development, helped build wide-area surveillance to hunt down bombing suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan. He decided that clusters of high-powered surveillance cameras attached to the belly of small civilian aircraft could be a game-changer in U.S. law enforcement.
“Our whole system costs less than the price of a single police helicopter and costs less for an hour to operate than a police helicopter,” McNutt said. “But at the same time, it watches 10,000 times the area that a police helicopter could watch.”
A sargeant in the L.A. County Sheriff's office compared the technology to Big Brother, which didn't stop him from deploying it over a string of necklace snatchings.
Sgt. Douglas Iketani acknowledges that his agency hid the experiment to avoid public opposition. "This system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,"he said. "A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so to mitigate those kinds of complaints we basically kept it pretty hush hush." That attitude ought to get a public employee summarily terminated.
He also gave this incredible quote:
"Our first initial thought was, oh, Big Brother, we're going to have a camera flying over us. But with the wide area surveillance you would have the ability to solve a lot of the unsolvable crimes with no witnesses, no videotape surveillance, no fingerprints."
Notice that he didn't conclude that the "wide area surveillance" wouldn't be like Big Brother after all, just that Big Brother capabilities would help to solve more crimes.
So why not try them out?
He later explains that while the public may think its against this, we'll get used to it:
I'm sure that once people find out this experiment went on they might be a little upset. But knowing that we can't see into their bedroom windows, we can't see into their pools, we can't see into their showers. You know, I'm sure they'll be okay with it. With the amount of technology out in today's age, with cameras in ATMs, at every 7/11, at every supermarket, pretty much every light poll, all the license plate cameras, the red light cameras, people have just gotten used to being watched.
The CIR story reports that no police department has yet purchased this technology, not because the law enforcement community is unwilling to conduct mass surveillance of their fellow citizens without first gaining the public's consent, but because the cameras aren't yet good enough to identify the faces of individuals. It's hard to imagine that next technological barrier won't be broken soon.
I'd be against mass surveillance of innocents in any case.
But it's especially galling to see law enforcement professionals betray the spirit of democracy by foisting these tools on what they know to be a reluctant public because they deem it to be prudent based on a perspective that is obviously biased.
Many Americans elect their own sheriffs. This is the future if nothing is done to stop them.
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.
In lieu of flowers, Carolyn has asked that you go have an excellent glass of champagne; tell your family how much you love them; buy yourself a book you've been meaning to read; do one nice, small thing for a stranger.
Based on Google Alerts, a snapshot of pandas in black-and-white. In the here-and-now.
Officials in Columbus, Ohio, are scrambling to contain a burst of mumps cases. There's a new clinic open for vaccinations, and Ohio State University is teaching students how to protect themselves.
I’d excerpt this whole essay if I could. It’s that good. You can read the whole thing here.
finally found a few comfreys at the local nursery, looking forward to getting these in the new garden
Yes! – I’d frame that. I find the ‘G’ particularly nice and it reminds me of Colorado history and some of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder stories. I’m also partial to the H – (I love a good bridge) and the W (maybe my parents would like that — it is the first letter of my maiden name) seems so pleasingly garden-y.
These are my favorites — which do you love?
Wednesday's announcement that TriMet has named the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge after the murderous orca Tilikum has led to renewed interest in the life and homicides of this beloved killer whale.
The transit agency had considered other names for the bridge, but ruled out the most-suggested name, that of popular street musician "Working" Kirk Reeves, after determining that he lacked "historical and lasting significance." The naming committee also spurned pioneering feminist publisher Abigail Scott Duniway.
That's understandable—because whatever their accomplishments, neither Reeves nor Duniway murdered three people.
Trimet's bridge namers considered a number of criteria before choosing the name of a homicidal fish that has delighted millions of small children with skillful acrobatics and natural majesty. The questions considered by the naming committee included "Is it inspirational? If so, why?" and "Does it reflect how a bridge connects people? If so, how?"
At least three of the people Tilikum met are connected by being dead.
But while the legend of Tilikum is well known, spread through sources such as Youtube videos of tragic and protracted assaults in which dedicated SeaWorld trainers are repeatedly dragged to the bottom of clear blue pools and gnawed on like chew toys in front of thousands of people, the real Tilikum remains elusive to most.
Here are some fun facts about the recently honored Tilikum you might not have known—until now.
No TriMet officials were harmed during the writing of this listicle.
Scientists and food activists are launching a campaign to promote seeds that can be freely shared, rather than protected through patents and licenses. They call it the Open Source Seed Initiative.
About 100 girls were grabbed Monday. Officials have blamed a radical Islamist group. Late Wednesday, Nigeria's military said almost all the girls had been accounted for. That claim is in dispute.
now ever dog is going to want a pair of horns
Here's another reason to be nice to the neighbors: They might just give you a no-money-down, low-cost loan to put solar panels on your roof, and once you pay off that debt you’ll get essentially free electricity as long as you own your home.
Welcome to the latest innovation in renewable energy: The crowdsourced solar loan.
The loans are administered by Mosaic, an Oakland, California, start-up that made its name by letting ordinary investors – that’s you and me – put money into commercial and non-profit solar projects that were once the exclusive domain of big banks and corporations like Google.
In the coming months, the environmentally minded can go to Mosaic's site and invest in portfolio of 20-year loans made to homeowners. (Each individual loan will be scrubbed of identifying information.) Mosaic is offering the loans through a partnership with solar installer RGS Energy.
The interest rate is 4.99 percent as long as homeowners pay down the loan with a 30 percent federal tax credit they’ll receive for installing a solar system. If they keep the tax credit, the rate jumps to 10 percent after 18 months.
"We think a solar loan if structured right can open up the market and make solar more affordable and accessible for more homeowners," Mosaic co-founder Billy Parish says.
That goes against the grain of solar financing. In recent years, leases have driven the explosion in residential solar installations as they let homeowners avoid the typical five-figure cost of buying a solar array. Instead, homeowners would pay a monthly fee to a solar installer like SolarCity or Sungevity that in most cases is less than what they’d fork over to their local utility for electricity. In California, for instance, leases account for two-thirds of residential solar installations.
But leases also are a product of the peculiar way the federal government subsidizes solar energy in the United States.
Individuals and businesses that install solar panels qualify for a 30 percent tax credit – known as the investment tax credit, or ITC. Since young solar companies like SolarCity have few taxes to offset, they instead transfer the credits to banks and corporations that put up funds to finance the installation of solar systems for homeowners. These so-called tax equity funds have financed billions of dollars in residential leases in recent years.
But with the ITC set to decline to 10 percent at the end of 2016, tax equity investors are expected to look for other places to put their money. In the meantime, rooftop solar has gone from being one of those nutty-crunchy California affectations to a mainstream phenomenon and a hedge against rising electricity prices.
That means homeowners are more comfortable taking out loans to pay for a solar system.
"Solar is no longer an emerging technology," says Jon Doochin, chief executive of Soligent, a California solar distributor that provides financing and other services to independent solar installers. "People say, ‘Solar I get it.'"
More important, banks get it. So these days companies like Soligent can offer loan financing at competitive rates – around 6 percent to 14 percent – to homeowners who previously would have had to tap their home equity lines or credit cards to pay for a solar system.
"The rates are dropping significantly because people have more confidence in the technology," says Doochin.
And there’s another reason homeowners may increasingly opt to own rather than rent: A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that a solar system boosted a home’s resale price by $17,000.
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic. Disclosure: Mosaic co-founder Dan Rosen is The Atlantic's Rebecca J. Rosen's brother. She was not involved in the conception or execution of this story.
It was 1912. The Pendleton Round-Up was 2 years old. And Tillie Baldwin, a 26-year-old cowgirl, had been honing her craft for 12 years.
Moving from Norway to her aunt’s farm on Staten Island, she saw American icon Will Rogers perform in her new hometown. It was the moment that would change her life.