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Yu Gi Oh

(category: Environmental, Word count: 375)
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"Yu-Gi-Oh!" is a popular Japanese animated "franchise" created by Kazuki Takahashi. Originally a hit in Japan, "Yu-Gi-Oh!" has found strong success in the United States, as well, and is one of several Japanese anime and magna that have done well across the ocean, following in the footsteps of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon. "Yu-Gi-Oh!" has a story line that always involves characters playing one another in a card game called "Duel Monsters."

"Duel Monsters" is a card game where each player buys, and then assembles, a deck of cards in an attempt to defeat each other. The decks are made of three different types of cards: Monsters, Magic, and Trap cards. The specific use of these cards is what determines each individual hand strength. Since the story line is repetitive and basic by some standards, in the United States "Yu-Gi-Oh!" has done especially well as children's programming.

"Yu-Gi-Oh!" started as a magna, back in 1996, but has grown at an astounding rate into what can only be described as a global franchise. There have been two additional magna series' (think sequels), three anime series, two movies, as well as the real-life version of the card game. This has sold millions of cards, not to mention the massive amount of clothing, toys, and even video games. Quite an empire to spawn out of what started out as a simple magna series.

The original series ran from 1996 to early 2004. The manga, which is where the entire "Yu-Gi-Oh!" craze strats, initially focuses on Yugi Mutou as he uses games to fight various villains. Yugi also gets into misadventures with his friends Katsuya Jonouchi, Anzu Mazaki, and Hiroto Honda. It is only later on where the plot arc shifts to include the well known duels between them and villains, and where the arc of the story that is well known and accepted now actually takes hold.

The amazing success of "Yu-Gi-Oh!" shows the continued popularity of magna and anime, and the amazing popularity both can attain, even with audiences outside of Japan. "Yu-Gi-Oh!" followed several other anime and magnas from Japan to the United States, and its strong success in both places is a tell-tale sign that more will follow.

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Nature Vs Mankind

(category: Environmental, Word count: 354)
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The Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts the gradual energetic decay of physical closed systems ("entropy"). Arguably, the Universe as a whole is precisely such a system.

Locally, though, order is often fighting disorder for dominance. In other words, in localized, open systems, order sometimes tends to increase and, by definition, statistical entropy tends to decrease.

Some physical systems increase disorder, either by decaying or by actively spreading disorder onto other systems. Such vectors we call "Entropic Agents".

Conversely, some physical systems increase order or decrease disorder either in themselves or in their environment. We call these vectors "Negentropic Agents".

Human Beings are Negentropic Agents gone awry. Now, through its excesses, Mankind is slowly being transformed into an Entropic Agent.

Antibiotics, herbicides, insecticides, pollution, deforestation, etc. are all detrimental to the environment and reduce the amount of order in the open system that is Earth.

Nature must balance this shift of allegiance, this deviation from equilibrium, by constraining the number of other Entropic Agents on Earth - or by reducing the numbers of humans.

To achieve the latter (which is the path of least resistance and a typical self-regulatory mechanism), Nature causes humans to begin to internalize and assimilate the Entropy that they themselves generate. This is done through a series of intricate and intertwined mechanisms:

The Malthusian Mechanism - Limited resources lead to wars, famine, diseases and to a decrease in the populace (and, thus, in the number of human Entropic Agents).

The Assimilative Mechanism - Diseases, old and new, and other phenomena yield negative demographic effects directly related to the entropic actions of humans.

Examples: excessive use of antibiotics leads to drug-resistant strains of pathogens, cancer is caused by pollution, heart ailments are related to modern Western diet, AIDS, avian flu, SARS, and other diseases are a result of hitherto unknown or mutated strains of viruses.

The Cognitive Mechanism - Humans limit their own propagation, using "rational", cognitive arguments, devices, and procedures: abortion, birth control, the pill.

Thus, combining these three mechanisms, nature controls the damage and disorder that Mankind spreads and restores equilibrium to the terrestrial ecosystem.

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Americans Get Serious About Recycling

(category: Environmental, Word count: 286)
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At home, at work and at school, Americans have successfully engaged in recycling programs-and one of the best success stories is paper.

In 2005, a record-high 51.5 percent (51.3 million tons) of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) hopes to increase that number and has set an ambitious goal of 55 percent recovery by 2012.

Every American can do his or her part. Although each community's recycling programs may be different, you can generally recycle newspapers, corrugated containers (cardboard), direct mail, magazines and catalogs. Check with your local municipality to find out what you can and cannot recycle.

The AF&PA Recycling Awards were created to recognize outstanding individual, business community and school paper recycling efforts. In 2006, the program was expanded to include a category for schools.

This year's award winners are:

Ed Hurley Memorial Paper Recycling Award (for individual achievement)

(*) Joel Ostroff, Macon County, North Carolina

AF&PA Business Leadership Recycling Awards

(*) Small Business: Bluegrass Regional Recycling Corporation, Richmond, Kentucky

(*) Large Business: Brewer Science, Inc., Rolla, Missouri

AF&PA Community Recycling Awards

(*) Small Community: North-field, Minnesota

(*) Large Community: Seattle, Washington

AF&PA School Recycling Awards

(*) Classroom: Heber Springs High School, Heber Springs, Arkansas

(*) Schoolwide: Mountain Home High School, Mountain Home, Arkansas

(*) College & University: tie between the University of Colorado at Boulder in Boulder, Colorado, and the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon

"This year's Recycling Award winners have exhibited innovation and social responsibility," said AF&PA President & CEO W. Henson Moore. "Their accomplishments in recycling have set new precedents."

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Log Homes The Natural Green Building Solution

(category: Environmental, Word count: 540)
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Building and living "Green" is good for your health, conserves energy and protects the environment. Log homes are the original green building solution made directly from the earth's natural resource. This abundant, beautiful and renewable natural resource is 100% green.

Building green is a hot topic among building professionals and consumers - for good reason. The exposure to toxic chemicals in our every day lives is resulting in significant increases in asthma and respiratory illnesses, skin problems, migraine headaches and any number of health related problems.

Since we spend much of our time indoors, it is critical that our indoor environment is healthy and safe. Many building products today are made of man-made chemicals and emit high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Health experts are becoming increasingly aware and alarmed that these man-made chemicals are showing up in our blood and lungs.

Logs are 100% natural and don't emit VOCs or other pollutants. Soil, water and air combined with the energy from the sun, in a miraculous process of photosynthesis, are everything needed to make a tree grow. From an ecological point of view, solid wood is the only building product that is renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, energy efficient and extremely beautiful. Logs and other solid wood, as basic building components, generate the least amount of air and water pollution, emission of greenhouse gases and solid waste. For example, steel and concrete require 2.4 times and 1.7 times more energy than wood to produce and 1.42 times and 1.67 times more airborne emissions with potential toxic or negative health effects. (The Canadian Wood Council - The Anhena Project).

Advances in forestry practices have steadily increased the supply and growth of plantation and private forests. In North America, the growth of new forests has outpaced the demand and can remain at a sustainable rate. In the long run, sustainable building products that are ecologically friendly are the only viable answer to a cleaner environment.

With energy costs on the rise and no end is sight, it makes good economic sense to design and build with conservation in mind. There is a great deal of documented evidence supporting the energy efficiency related to the construction of log homes. Studies conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other testing organizations have compared log homes to other types of construction such as conventionally framed and masonry. Test results prove the energy efficiency gained through the thermal mass of solid wood walls. Log walls better utilize the available energy in both summer cooling and winter heating. (The Log Home Council (, Documented Energy-Efficiency and Thermal Mass Benefits of Log Construction).

Most people building log homes plan to own and live in them for an extended period of time. Their log home may be a family retreat or a retirement home that they intend to own for the rest of their lives. The turnover rate of log homes is much lower than the average conventionally built house. With such a long term outlook, the decision to build and live in an energy efficient log home makes good sense for the health of the environment, you and your family.

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Planting Trees Can Cut Your Energy Costs

(category: Environmental, Word count: 326)
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Your trees are an important part of your yard. They not only provide shade and comfort to your family and add value to your house, they provide an important cost-savings opportunity. "You can dramatically reduce your heating and cooling bills by planting trees and caring for them," says Bayer Advanced™ Garden Expert Lance Walheim, a best-selling author and regular contributor to Sunset magazine.

Try this test: Take a walk through the woods on a hot day. Notice how much cooler it is? Leaves block sunlight. Take the same walk in the winter. It feels warmer because the trees, now without their leaves, allow sunlight through, while the trunks and limbs serve as a wind-breaker, thereby reducing windchill.

According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, your winter heating bills could be reduced by as much as 25 percent and summer cooling bills by 50 percent if you place trees in the best locations around your home.

The east and west sides are most important to shade because of the path of the sun. Try to keep the south side of your home unshaded so winter sun can warm the house during the cooler months.

The ideal shade tree is about 25- to 50-feet high with a big canopy. A tree that size will partially shade the roof of a one-story home but will not get too big for most properties. You want to plant your trees at least 10 feet from the foundation to prevent roots from breaking through. Plant trees even farther from your house to avoid damaging it in a storm. Your home and garden center can recommend appropriate tree species for your landscape.

How do you keep your trees around for years? The key is preventing problems. Insects destroy more trees each year than wildfires. You can protect your trees from insects by using Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Insect Control with Merit

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Starting A School Recycling Program

(category: Environmental, Word count: 290)
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Teachers, parents and students have found a way to say goodbye to homework (at least to old homework): They recycle it.

In fact, students have helped to contribute to a new record in paper recycling. In 2005, 51.5 percent of paper used in the U.S.-51.3 million tons-was recovered for recycling.

To start a school recycling program, try these tips from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and Keep America Beautiful (KAB). The groups provide training and a variety of resources to help educators teach students about recycling. Together, they have helped to start school paper recycling programs across the U.S.

Recycling 101

(*) Determine the amount and types of recyclable material in your school, and how to collect and separate it. Enlist the support of school administrators and staff, and appoint a coordinator and support team. Make sure to involve a student leader.

(*) Hold a kickoff event to start your recycling program and involve as many students as possible. Use the event to educate teachers, students and staff about the importance of recycling. Hold contests and offer small incentives to keep students interested.

(*) Work with a recycling company to gather materials and collect monthly results for your program.

Students Making A Difference

School recycling programs can have big environmental and educational benefits. Programs such as the AF&PA Recycling Awards and KAB outreach efforts can help.

The AF&PA Recycling Awards recognize outstanding individual, school, business and community recycling efforts. KAB has raised awareness for the program, and also has tools and resources available to help implement school recycling programs.

Join both organizations in supporting increased paper recovery efforts in your school and community.

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Climate Modification And Volcanoes

(category: Environmental, Word count: 465)
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Climate modification is a multi-faceted and complex subject. In this article, we take a look at the relationship between climate modification and volcanoes.

Climate Modification and Volcanoes

The climate modification debate is a nasty one. Parties pick their positions, dig in and refuse to listen to the rants of the other side. Lost in the yelling is the simple fact that climate modification is a natural phenomenon to some extent. For proof, we need merely look at the materials kicked out by volcanoes.

It is an undeniable fact of the earth record that volcanoes have changed the climate during certain periods. Small explosions don't have much impact, but large explosions send massive amounts of material and gases into the atmosphere. The gases include carbon dioxide, the ultimate bugaboo greenhouse gas. Beyond these gases, however, volcanoes can kick out so much debris and ash that the material in the atmosphere can actually block out the sun or reduce the warming effect.

Mount St. Helens is the most studied and well known recent eruption. Unless you have been meditating in a cave for the last 20 years, you know that the volcano exploded on May 18, 1980. The eruption was powerful enough to flatten everything for 17 miles, immediately turning 10 million trees into so much firewood. The huge volcanic ash cloud stretched halfway across the United States, but barely had an impact on global temperatures.

In contrast, the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in 1982 had a measurable climate impact. El Chichon is located in Mexico and was a much smaller eruption than Mount St. Helens. Still, the average temperature around the globe cooled by one degree. What scientist learned is the climate modification impact of volcanoes is highly dependent on the type of explosion. The materials from Mount St. Helens fell out of the atmosphere quickly, while El Chichon belched enormous amounts of sulfur that remained in the atmosphere for much longer.

One of the problems with climate modification is it occurs over a relatively long period of time. Since we started paying attention to the situation, we have not had a chance to see the impact of a major eruption. The stuff we see on television is really small potatoes compared to historically eruptions of note. For example, Mount St. Helens threw roughly a half a cubic mile of material into the air. In 1815, a volcano in Indonesia belched 24 cubic miles of material into the atmosphere. Obviously, one has to imagine it impacted the climate of the earth.

Is there a relationship between climate modification and volcanoes? Undoubtedly. From what we see, however, the relationship is generally of a short duration and not an explanation for the rising temperatures we are seeing currently.

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Can Home Improvements Increase The Value Of Your House

(category: Environmental, Word count: 344)
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One of the most common reasons people give when asked why they are improving their home is that home improvements increase house value. While this can often be true, it is by no means as universal as some people assume it is. When you're about to pay out lots of money for a home improvement, it's worth checking whether the value of your house will increase by enough to pay for it - or, worse, whether it might actually force your house value down.

Let's start with bathrooms and kitchens. While well-maintained and nice-looking kitchens and bathrooms do add value to a home, there's nothing to say that they have to be the very latest thing. An older room that is well looked-after and wasn't a complete abomination to begin with can often help the value just as much as a newly-installed one.

Extensions, on the other hand, almost always increase the value of your home, as they make it bigger. A four-bedroom home can be significantly more valuable on the market than a three-bedroom one, as a bigger family can live in it. However, you need to watch out for building too far out into your garden if you only have a small one: get rid of too much of your garden, and you could knock even more value off your home than you gain from the extra bedroom.

Although it might seem strange, this same rule also applies to garden features such as swimming pools and ponds. While you might like them, not everyone does - and you've just taken a piece of garden that could be used for almost anything and turned it into a single-use feature. Also, swimming pools especially can be very expensive to maintain, which can put off potential house buyers.

Overall, it's a bad idea to make home improvements just to make money, as you will almost always fail. Instead, just make the improvements that you want, while avoiding any that will really hit your house's price.

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Don T Touch It And Other Simple Nature Friendly Advice

(category: Environmental, Word count: 644)
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Each summer, I visit the Chequamagon National Forest in Wisconsin. An amazingly beautiful and lush forest, this place is my sanctuary. I stay at a low-key resort, in a cabin overlooking Lake Namekagon. It's a breath of fresh air - quite literally - to spend two weeks each year at this place, away from bustling streets and busy people. It's like a different world.

Or, at least, it was. I had a very different experience this past July. Upon entering our cabin, my fiance and I were greeted by a large television, equipped with Direct TV. Don't get me wrong: I'm a TV-lover, through and through. There was, however, something strange about having to look around the television to see the lake.

We overlooked this; after all, we don't own the cabin. Some resort-goers might crave 500 channels before they crave hiking and fishing. Convinced that the TV (both the sight of it and the temptation to watch it) would put a damper on things, we went out on the water.

As I started the old, rented pontoon boat, something occured to me. We were no better than the TLC, MTV, and MSNBC addicts. Yes, our boat was used for the enjoyment of the outdoors; however, it left a muddy, green wake behind it. Yes, we came to the resort to get away from everyday conveniences and to surround ourselves with nature, but we were staying in a cabin - not a tent or a sleeping bag. We cooked our breakfast every morning on a fairly modern stove, we drank coffee made in a Bunn coffeemaker, and we turned on the electric heat if the cabin got too cold. It turns out we weren't roughing it; we were faking it.

Since this realization, I've been troubled. I don't understand where our appreciation for nature went. I don't understand how misguided travelers - myself included - consider themselves to be experiencing nature, when really all we're doing is glancing at it between commercials. Granted, everyone experiences nature in a different way. For some, glancing at it through a window - or on a TV screen - might be enough.

I'm concerned, though, that by accepting this as a legitimate way to experience nature, we are missing something. Or, perhaps, we are missing everything. On a basic level, there is something satisfying about feeling a different kind of air on your skin, and about feeling the crunch of leaves and dirt beneath your feet. Where city lights don't corrupt the night sky, we can see stars in a new way, and the level of darkness is foreign and exciting.

There more to this simple human/nature combination than deep satisfaction, though. There is a danger present in the ways we currently explore nature. It is common for travelers to hop on boats, jetskis, waverunners, or ATVs to travel through lakes and forests. In these cases, vacationgoers are experiencing nature - while leaving a trail of pollution behind.

And what about our cabin? Built in the middle of the forest, trees had to be removed in order for the resort to exist. There is an inherent disconnect, here: the resort was designed to house nature-loving travelers who want to see the forest's natural beauty, and yet in order for the resort to exist, some of the forest had to be cut down. Instead of experiencing untouched and unscathed nature, vacationers are experiencing a forest marred by human interference.

This is the way with us. We, whether intentionally or accidentally, can't help but tinker with nature in its natural forms. Even when we attempt to truly experience it, we are also hindering it. So, we must consider some simple pieces of advice if we wish....(read the full article at the link below)

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