Friday, January 29, 2010

Calendar: Ghosts in your Genes

The structure of part of a DNA double helixImage via Wikipedia

Many good things happening at the Salem Public Library, but this one stands out:
Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center
Lecture Series

Environment and Disease: The Ghosts in Your Genes

7 p.m. Thursday, February 25, Loucks Auditorium

Dr. Michael Skinner of Washington State University will provide a general overview of endocrine disruptors. He will talk about how his research has shown that environmental factors change the expression of our DNA – but don’t change the underlying DNA sequences – and how these lasti ng eff ects can be passed
on from generation to generation.

Dr. Michael Skinner‘s research has been highlighted in BBC and PBS documentaries and selected in the top 100 discoveries in 2005 and 2007 by Discover.

The presentation is free and open to the public through support from the Charla Richards-Kreitzberg Charitable Foundation, the Salem Foundation, Salem Public Library, City of Salem, and Marion Soil and Water Conservation District. For more
information, contact the Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center at 503- 391-4145 or visit

The Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center is a Salem-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education.

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At last: Salem takes halting first steps towards better public outreach

This icon, known as the "feed icon" ...This is the standard icon to indicate RSS feeds. Image via Wikipedia

A first step at last.

If you go to the City of Salem webpage and click on the little (nonstandard) orange envelope icon in the top right corner you will go to a subscription management page (which includes an explanation of what an RSS feed is) and you can sign up for one of three feeds (city news (press releases), police news, and fire news).

The implementation so far is clunky and very incomplete -- all the links on all the city's pages take you to the same place (instead of providing you with a feed for that page), the subscription management page, where there are (so far) just the three feeds (general city press releases, fire news, and police news).

So there is not yet a feed for the things that would be most useful to have promptly: land use applications, zoning change requests, development permit applications, etc. Presumably feeds for those are coming --- after all, we're "streamlining" the development ordinances now, so helping citizens learn of proposed land use changes as soon as they are proposed would go a long way toward making the process better.

If these feeds are implemented throughout all the city's web pages with an eye towards helping citizens stay current, these feeds could become quite helpful in promoting timely citizen participation.
Expand/Collapse Question: : 1. What is RSS? ‎(1) RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) feeds are free content feeds from websites that contain article headlines and summaries and links back to full text articles on the web.
Expand/Collapse Question: : 2. What are the benefits of using RSS? ‎(1) RSS is fast and sometimes easier than receiving updates in your email inbox. It doesn't clog your inbox with emails or require you to revisit websites that you're interested in. Instead, the information comes to you when you want it.

Click on the section title link to obtain the RSS URL, which you will see in the "Address" field of your browser. Simply copy this URL and follow the instructions for your particular news reader to subscribe.

Expand/Collapse Question: : 3. What tools do I need to use RSS? ‎(1) To start using RSS, you need a special news reader or aggregator that displays RSS content feeds from websites you select. There are many different news readers available, many of which are free of charge. Most are available as desktop software that you download and install on your computer.

There are some email programs that can handle RSS feeds (e.g., Thunderbird, Outlook, Groupwise, ...), there are browser-based plug-ins or extensions (e.g., Firefox, IE, ...) or self-contained applications to install (e.g., Feedreader). Another way for you to read feeds would be through a Web-based solution (e.g., Some programs are free and some charge a fee, so be sure to read the fine print on the software before installing it.

Several Web-based news readers are available as well.

List of news readers (Yahoo)
List of news readers (Google)

Once you have set up your news reader, you simply subscribe to the RSS content feeds you want.

The person to thank and to contact to suggest improvements is
Mike Gotterba, CSP
City of Salem
555 Liberty Street SE, Room 325
Salem, OR 97301-3503
503-588-6211 or
503-588-6255 or
cell 503-949-1015
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