Todd Walton: Last Beans

last beans

Under The Table Books

Step out onto the Planet.

Draw a circle a hundred feet round.

 Inside the circle are

300 things nobody understands, and, maybe

nobody’s ever really seen.

How many can you find?

 Lew Welch

Rained almost an inch today in Mendocino, October 23, 2014. Will we look back from drier times and say, “Remember when it rained almost a whole inch in one day?” Or are we in for years of deluge? Most weather scientists think we’re in for a multi-decade drought, but the globe has so many feedback loops, known and unknown, currently looping and feeding back in ways we barely understand that five years from now California could be getting a hundred inches of rain a year. Or no rain at all. Or a hundred inches one year and none the next.

Stoicism 101…


From Tanner Campbell

“Sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy,” – Epictetus

Why is Stoicism so hard?

There’s learning to be a Stoic, then there’s the practicing of Stoic principles and ideals, and finally there’s being a Stoic. I only think of myself as a practicing Stoic, that is to say I’m not completely confident in calling myself a true Stoic this early on in my study of Stoicism. I practice Stoicism because practice makes perfect and becoming a true Stoic may be one of the most difficult endeavors a human being can undertake. It’s harder than CrossFit, it’s harder than learning Aramaic, it’s harder than being a Rocket Scientist – I really do believe it’s one of the hardest things in life to achieve because what Stoicism really is is the conquering of your own mind.

Madison Bumgarner, World Series Legend…

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
From McCovey Chronicles

Everyone was agog with Bumgarner’s World Series performances before Game 7. Then he released the double album, and the critics went wild.

I did not believe in Madison Bumgarner. I believed in him before the season. During the season. At the start of the postseason and all the way through the World Series. But when the question arose about him starting Game 7 on two day’s rest, it wasn’t even something I was willing to contemplate. We’ve seen what pitching on three day’s rest will do to a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw. What would two day’s rest do to a pitcher who was 270 innings deep into the season?

The problem, see, was assuming Bumgarner was mortal.

There’s too much to cover for a single recap. I keep stopping to hug my computer. Instead, let’s do a 25- to 30-part recap of all the players on the roster, celebrating exactly how they helped this bunch of bozos win the World Series.

Starting with Madison K. Bumgarner.

A Good Farmer is a Craftsman of the Highest Order…


The Farm-to-Street Revolution Is Almost Here…

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From Modern Farmer

They might deal in gourmet grilled cheeses, Korean-Mexican fusion and chocolate-covered bacon, but rare is the food truck that also traffics in food justice.

Luckily, Cassandria Campbell and Jackson Renshaw have added “activism” to the chalkboard menu. The founders of Boston-based Fresh Food Generation aim to bring culturally appropriate, sustainable meals to lower-income areas of the city that typically lack for healthy food options.

The partnership was written in the adolescent stars. The duo met as high schoolers at The Food Project, a local nonprofit that brings together teens from diverse backgrounds to assist in sustainable food production. For both, it was a life-altering experience.

The mission of Fresh Food Generation is to bring culturally appropriate, sustainable meals to lower-income areas of the city.

Gene Logsdon: Marking Time On The Farm


The Contrary Farmer

Like most of you, I’m sure, I’ve developed ways to tell time by eyeing up the sun with various fixed features on the farm. When I’m hoeing in the garden in the summer,  I know it’s about time for lunch when the farthest reach of tree shade from the woods brushes the garden boundary. This changes a bit every day so it’s a little tricky but Swiss watch precision is not necessary. As a boy, cultivating corn in rows running north and south in early June, I knew that when the shade of the muffler top sticking up above the tractor hood reached the third corn row over to the east, it was about five o’clock and time to go home for chores. Who needs watches?

When I left the city office environment, I stripped off my watch and put it in a dresser drawer where it still resides. I think of a wristwatch as a manacle chaining me to a way of life that reckons time as money. Not for me. I want to live where work is so interesting that I don’t care what time the clock says it is. At the office I was constantly glancing at my watch wondering if it was time to go home yet. On the farm in somewhat younger years I could hardly believe how fast the time went by before Carol was calling me in for supper. Or I might get a notion between the corn rows to go sit under a shade tree beside the creek and watch the water flow by. No boss was going to hound me to get back to work. The worst thing to happen to farmers was headlights on tractors which made time seem more like money. Then we felt compelled to work all night and owe the bank more than ever.

Gluten Free? WTF? It’s not the wheat, it’s the processing!

True Grain follows a mantra spelled out by poet Robert Browning. - Andrew Leong

From Cowichan News

Bruce Stewart isn’t exactly on a mission, but he does want to clear up a bit of the sticky confusion regarding gluten.

The 42-year-old married dad of two daughters — Monica, 4, and two-year-old Fiona — owns Cowichan Bay’s True Grain Bread with his wife, Leslie. He believes there is too much propaganda about gluten.

“I love gluten; it’s one of the most wonderful substances going — it’s amazing to me how misinformed people are about gluten and what it is,” he said.

In the 1950s, the incidences of celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine caused by a reaction to wheat proteins — was less than one in 100, said Stewart.

“In 2014, the incidences of celiac disease is less than one per cent — it hasn’t changed.”

In our modern world, many people with digestive, or gut, or fatigue issues believe they might be allergic to gluten.

“In most cases, they’re not allergic to gluten, and that’s a big part of what our customer base is because people can eat our breads,” Stewart said.

Bruce Anderson Interview Posted at Mendocino Talking…


[Bruce Anderson is editor/publisher of  the Anderson Valley Advertiser (the AVA) in Boonville. He and his wife Ling, married 50 years this month, raised three children in Boonville and now enjoy two grandchildren. He describes himself as “a socialist with strong, nay overwhelming, anarchist instincts.” He was born in Honolulu where “the Japanese tried to murder me when I was two years old.” His mother left Honolulu on a troop ship with him and his brother because everyone thought the Japanese were going to invade and occupy the Hawaiian Islands after Pearl Harbor. The family arrived in San Francisco where they were put up at the Fairmont Hotel, which was the evacuation center for the Hawaiian Islands people. They settled in San Francisco in an apartment on McAllister near Fillmore and his father worked at the Hunter’s Point shipyards loading and unloading submarines during the war. Bruce takes it from there...]

Go To Mendocino Talking



Words of Robert Ingersoll Still Ring True…


From Freedom From Religion Foundation

Read these quotes and imagine:

“It may be that ministers really think that their prayers do good and it may be that frogs imagine that their croaking brings spring.”

“If there be an infinite Being, he does not need our help — we need not waste our energies in his defense.”

“The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it.”

Imagine an auditorium, filled to capacity to hear an orator known worldwide discuss atheism and question Christian tenets. Imagine thousands of people willing to pay a substantial admission to hear his eloquence and irreverent wit. Ingersoll, “The Great Agnostic,” would speak extemporaneously for three hours.

He was a lawyer and former colonel in the army. He was called the “most brilliant speaker of the English tongue of all the men on the globe.” Who could this be — Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens? You may be surprised to learn this remarkable speaker was popular over 130 years ago!

Christian Crock of the Week: Mormon Bullshit…


The Police Are Still Out of Control… I should know…


From Frank Serpico

In the opening scene of the 1973 movie “Serpico,” I am shot in the face—or to be more accurate, the character of Frank Serpico, played by Al Pacino, is shot in the face. Even today it’s very difficult for me to watch those scenes, which depict in a very realistic and terrifying way what actually happened to me on Feb. 3, 1971. I had recently been transferred to the Narcotics division of the New York City Police Department, and we were moving in on a drug dealer on the fourth floor of a walk-up tenement in a Hispanic section of Brooklyn. The police officer backing me up instructed me (since I spoke Spanish) to just get the apartment door open “and leave the rest to us.”

One officer was standing to my left on the landing no more than eight feet away, with his gun drawn; the other officer was to my right rear on the stairwell, also with his gun drawn. When the door opened, I pushed my way in and snapped the chain. The suspect slammed the door closed on me, wedging in my head and right shoulder and arm. I couldn’t move, but I aimed my snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver at the perp (the movie version unfortunately goes a little Hollywood here, and has Pacino struggling and failing to raise a much-larger 9-millimeter automatic). From behind me no help came. At that moment my anger got the better of me. I made the almost fatal mistake of taking my eye off the perp and screaming to the officer on my left: “What the hell you waiting for? Give me a hand!” I turned back to face a gun blast in my face. I had cocked my weapon and fired back at him almost in the same instant, probably as reflex action, striking him. (He was later captured.)

When I regained consciousness, I was on my back in a pool of blood trying to assess the damage from the gunshot wound in my cheek. Was this a case of small entry, big exit, as often happens with bullets? Was the back of my head missing? I heard a voice saying, “Don’ worry, you be all right, you be all right,” and when I opened my eyes I saw an old Hispanic man looking down at me like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan. My “backup” was nowhere in sight. They hadn’t even called for assistance—I never heard the famed “Code 1013,” meaning “Officer Down.” They didn’t call an ambulance either, I later learned; the old man did. One patrol car responded to investigate, and realizing I was a narcotics officer rushed me to a nearby hospital (one of the officers who drove me that night said, “If I knew it was him, I would have left him there to bleed to death,” I learned later).

Mark Twain on Religion and Our Human Egotism…

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From Brain Pickings

“The human race … sits up nine nights in the week to admire its own originality.”

A large part of what made Mark Twain the greatest American satirist was his capacity for cultural nitpicking, from his irreverent advice to little girls to his critique of the press to his snarky commentary on the outrageous requests he received. But one subject to which Twain applied his exquisite satire with absolute seriousness was religion. In Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (public library) — the highly anticipated sequel to the excellent first installment — Twain’s grievances with “God” come fully ablaze.

In April of 1906, Twain — who famously believed that any claim of originality was merely misguided narcissism — offers this humorous lament on religion as a manifestation of human egotism:

William Edelen: The Sanitized Life


The Contrary Minister (2002)

As usual, Mark Twain said it best: “There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and movable which has in any way a shady reputation. They pay this horrible price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.”

The knee-jerk and hysterical people who are on a never ending crusade to sanitize our lives are not only boring, but lose their case by hyperbolic obsession. It is almost impossible today to read a magazine or newspaper  without being overwhelmed by the latest news on what is bad for us to do, eat, drink or smoke. We are told to stay clear of fat, milk, ice cream, butter, cream, sugar, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, red meat, white meat, shell fish… the list would take up the rest of this entire article… of all that will destroy us. How I love that Julia Child, the great goddess of cooking, who uses real butter and real sugar and when asked the secret of her abundant health and energy in her mid-80s replied, “Red meat and gin.”

Perhaps I would change my habits for the better if only anyone was sure what “better” was, or is. I am told to “walk more” and yet Arnold Palmer who has walked 5 miles a day all of his adult life came down with prostate cancer. I would give up my wine at dinner, except that I remember “The French Paradox and the fact that Bertrand Russell sipped about a fifth of bourbon daily and was still strong and productive in his mid-90s, as was Winston Churchill, who not only sipped his bottle of brandy daily but went through a box of expensive cigars, daily.

Congratulations, Atheists! America is Growing Increasingly Churchless…


new study released by the Barna Group, in conjunction with David Kinnaman‘s book Churchless, shows that more people than ever before have no need for a church, even if they’re religious.

That’s one of several factors Kinnaman uses to describe those he calls “post-Christian” (which is quite the euphemism):

Todd Walton: Ida’s Place Book Two — Revival


Under The Table Books

“Every existence in nature, every existence in the human world, every cultural work that we create, is something which was given, or is being given to us, relatively speaking. But as everything is originally one, we are, in actuality, giving out everything. Moment after moment we are creating something, and this is the joy of our life.” Shunryu Suzuki

I am pleased to announce the publication of the coil-bound photocopy edition (the only edition there is) of Ida’s Place Book Two: Revival, the second volume of what I intend to be at least a three-volume saga set in the mythical town of Big River on the far north coast of California. I brought out Ida’s Place Book One: Return ten months ago and have sold seventy-one copies to date. This is particularly good news because I broke even on design and production costs when I sold copy number sixty-six. Copies of the Ida’s Place volumes are signed and lavishly numbered by the author and are only available from me via my web site or by bumping into me at the post office or thereabouts.

As a creative adventure, the writing of a multi-volume work of fiction has been endlessly surprising and liberating for me, and many of my rules and limitations developed over forty years of writing single volume novels, certainly those pertaining to structure and pace, have given way to a spaciousness that is thrilling, mysterious and tricky.

This City Came Up With a Simple Solution to Homelessness: Housing…

 From The Nation

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.

“Just because I don’t have a credit card in my pocket,” she says, “does not make me a criminal.”

“A stink bomb into liberals’ certainty”: Doug Henwood on his anti-Clinton crusade…


From Salon

Leftist economist, host and author talks about his controversial new brief for Harper’s opposing a Clinton ’16 bid 

As the media landscape continues to dissolve into sand and melt into air, there’s at least one thing we can still count on: Every six months or so, Harper’s, that venerable and embattled tribune of America’s hyper-educated and perennially dyspeptic left, will put out a strident essay intended to draw a line in the sand and kick off a heated discussion about the movement’s identity and future. More often than not, it does just that.

In this regard, Harper’s latest (paywalled) cover story — a cri de coeur against Hillary Clinton from economist, radio host, author and Left Business Observer founder Doug Henwood — is no exception. A mix of biography and political analysis, Henwood’s essay depicts the likely 2016 presidential candidate as a relatively unaccomplished conformist and careerist, one who’s far more interested in acquiring power (and protecting the interests of her wealthy funders) than making real the progressive vision. “What is the case for Hillary?” Henwood asks. “It’s hard to find any substantive political argument in her favor.”

Earlier this week, Salon gave Henwood a call to chat about the impetus of his piece, why he “can’t stand” the former secretary of state and how he’s responding to some of the attacks being sent his way by Clinton’s famously loyal defenders. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

How to start a war and lose an empire…


From Club Orloff

A year and a half I wrote an essay on how the US chooses to view Russia, titled The Image of the Enemy. I was living in Russia at the time, and, after observing the American anti-Russian rhetoric and the Russian reaction to it, I made some observations that seemed important at the time. It turns out that I managed to spot an important trend, but given the quick pace of developments since then, these observations are now woefully out of date, and so here is an update.

At that time the stakes weren’t very high yet. There was much noise around a fellow named Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer-crook who got caught and died in pretrial custody. He had been holding items for some bigger Western crooks, who were, of course, never apprehended. The Americans chose to treat this as a human rights violation and responded with the so-called “Magnitsky Act” which sanctioned certain Russian individuals who were labeled as human rights violators. Russian legislators responded with the “Dima Yakovlev Bill,” named after a Russian orphan adopted by Americans who killed him by leaving him in a locked car for nine hours. This bill banned American orphan-killing fiends from adopting any more Russian orphans. It all amounted to a silly bit of melodrama.

But what a difference a year and a half has made! Ukraine, which was at that time collapsing at about the same steady pace as it had been ever since its independence two decades ago, is now truly a defunct state, with its economy in free-fall, one region gone and two more in open rebellion, much of the country terrorized by oligarch-funded death squads, and some American-anointed puppets nominally in charge but quaking in their boots about what’s coming next. Syria and Iraq, which were then at a low simmer, have since erupted into full-blown war, with large parts of both now under the control of the Islamic Caliphate, which was formed with help from the US, was armed with US-made weapons via the Iraqis. Post-Qaddafi Libya seems to be working on establishing an Islamic Caliphate of its own. Against this backdrop of profound foreign US foreign policy failure, the US recently saw it fit to accuse Russia of having troops “on NATO’s doorstep,” as if this had nothing to do with the fact that NATO has expanded east, all the way to Russia’s borders. Unsurprisingly, US–Russia relations have now reached a point where the Russians saw it fit to issue a stern warning: further Western attempts at blackmailing them may result in a nuclear confrontation.

Ebola: Clutching Our World Views With a Death Grip…


From Mary Odum

As I write, I am sitting in what might be my last airplane seat, stacked cheek to jowl with a couple with a cute but runny-nosed baby. My trip was with girlfriends on a bike tour in California, and I made the most of it, living very much in the moment. As I traveled, I wore my infection control hat, scanning the settings with new eyes for potentially dangerous situations. I was careful in public places such as airports, trolleys, and the BART, washing my hands frequently and keeping them folded in front of me. I was much more aware of impulses to touch my face. I watched a couple in the San Francisco airport who were headed to Nairobi touch their faces, many times, as they waited. Airport bathrooms were mostly hands-free, but the automatic toilets sprayed their contents powerfully in all directions when flushed. There was a new sign in the TSA line warning us to wash our hands because of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), but no mention of Ebola (EVD). TSA used gloves to pat me down, but they were not washing their hands after contact with people. Boarding passes, drivers licenses, and credit cards were swiped and exchanged, along with bills and coins. I saw a large homeless population on the waterfront in San Francisco with no access to bathrooms or handwashing, who were using the streets as open latrines. I saw prostitutes. Hotels had carpets and mattresses that would defy cleaning in an outbreak. I saw people hugging, and shaking hands, and doing all kinds of human, caring, or even loving things that would be extinguished in a pandemic.

Today the first nurse within the US healthcare system has acquired EVD. My nursing friends are worried. Are we ready for this? How do we communicate risk, or should we settle for optimistic reassurance that our system can handle this? What are our biggest needs in preparation?

Complete article here

Summary of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization…


From John Michael Greer

If you’ve ever wondered just how powerfully collective thinking grips most members of our species—including, by and large, those who most forcefully insist on the originality of their thinking—I have an experiment to recommend: go out in public and advocate an idea about the future that isn’t part of the conventional wisdom, and see what kind of reaction you field. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll get some anger, some argument, and some blank stares, but the most telling reaction will come from people who try to force what you’re saying into the Procrustean bed of the conventional wisdom, no matter how thoroughly they have to stretch and chop what you’ve said to make it fit.

Now of course the project of this blog is guaranteed to field such reactions, since the ideas explored here don’t just ignore the conventional wisdom, they fling it to the floor and dance on the crumpled remains. When I mention that I expect the decline and fall of industrial civilization to take centuries, accordingly, people take this to mean that I expect a smooth, untroubled descent. When I mention that I expect crisis before this decade is finished, in turn, people take this to mean that I expect industrial civilization to crash into ruin in the next few years. Some people, for that matter, slam back and forth from one of these presuppositions to another, as though they can’t fit the concepts of prolonged decline and imminent crisis into their heads at the same moment.

Plants Can Tell When They’re Being Eaten…


From Modern Farmer

Eating a leaf off a plant may not kill it, but that doesn’t mean the plant likes it. The newest study to examine the intelligence (or at least behavior) of plants finds that plants can tell when they’re being eaten — and send out defenses to stop it from happening.

We’ve been hearing for decades about the complex intelligence of plants; last year’s excellent New Yorker piece is a good place to start, if you want to learn more about the subject. But a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, managed to figure out one new important element: plants can tell when they’re being eaten, and they don’t like it.

The word “intelligence,” when applied to any non-human animal or plant, is imprecise and sort of meaningless; research done to determine “intelligence” mostly just aims to learn how similar the inner workings of another organism is to a human thought process. There’s certainly nothing evolutionarily important about these sorts of intelligence studies; a chimp is not superior to a chicken just because chimps can use tools the same way humans do. But these studies are fascinating, and do give us insight into how other organisms think and behave, whatever “think” might mean.

Is Christianity Beneficial or Harmful to Society?

Christopher Hitchens memorably wrote about why God Is Not Great. Now, John W. Loftus has compiled a new anthology building off of that premise and showing us why faith is far from a virtue.

In his book, Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails, Loftus and a panel of experts (including Peter Boghossian, Victor J. Stenger, and Annie Laurie Gaylor) write about why the problem with religion isn’t just a fringe group of believers, but faith itself.

In the excerpt below, Loftus answers the question: “Is Christianity beneficial or harmful to society?”


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