A Christian and a Buddhist Walk Into a Cartoon…

For Ron…
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With sub-$60 oil, fracking and tar sands losses threaten the whole financial system…

Activists Rally Against Fracking Outside California EPA Office

From Ecologist

A new financial crisis is threatening to dwarf the ‘subprime’ mortgage debacle, writes Paul Mobbs. Cheap money from central banks has fuelled some $1.3 trillion of risky investments in high-cost ‘unconventional’ oil and gas. Now, with oil sinking below $60, all that paper is turning to junk – and that’s putting the entire economic system at risk.

Throwing free money after bad, the US fracking industry mopped up a large wad of QE cash, and shortly after the number of drilling rigs in the US took off again.

Brought about by the recent fall in oil prices, investors are beginning to review the economics of unconventional oil and gas. For the last few years there have been a number of damning reports about the economics of unconventional fossil fuels.

Now it seems those long-ignored observations are being taken seriously by the money-lenders of Wall Street.

John Maynard Keynes was one of the most significant economists of the Twentieth Century, whose observations still draw the ire of pundits and politicians today.

One of his better-known economic aphorisms was, “If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.”

Sound advice, but what if you owe hundreds of billions? Then it becomes a problem for the whole economic system, not just the bank.

Déjà Vu All Over Again…

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From David Michael Greer

Over the last few weeks, a number of regular readers of The Archdruid Report have asked me what I think about the recent plunge in the price of oil and the apparent end of the fracking bubble. That interest seems to be fairly widespread, and has attracted many of the usual narratives; the  blogosphere is full of claims that the Saudis crashed the price of oil to break the US fracking industry, or that Obama got the Saudis to crash the price of oil to punish the Russians, or what have you.

I suspect, for my part, that what’s going on is considerably more important. To start with, oil isn’t the only thing that’s in steep decline. Many other major commodities—coal, iron ore, and copper among them—have registered comparable declines over the course of the last few months. I have no doubt that the Saudi government has its own reasons for keeping their own oil production at full tilt even though the price is crashing, but they don’t control the price of those other commodities, or the pace of commercial shipping—another thing that has dropped steeply in recent months.

California Highway Patrol Has Now Gone Paramilitary…

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From Prison Planet
Thanks to Chris

America’s largest police agency, the California Highway Patrol, is now officially describing itself as a “paramilitary organization,” a revelation that will undoubtedly feed into concerns that the militarization of domestic law enforcement is intensifying.

The CHP’s adoption of this term is now so prevalent that the organization is openly using it as a recruiting tool for new employees.

A post entitled Is This Job for You? which appears on the CHP.gov website asks all new applicants for the role of CHP Cadet, “Are you willing to work in a para-military organization, operating under a structured chain-of-command?”

What’s Behind The Pet Craze

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I thought I had heard it all with the ad on National Public Radio for pajamas for every member of the family, including the cats and dogs. But now on sale are coats for your pet chicken. Obviously, Henny Penny, not only is the sky falling but our collected social sanity. But then my wife, ever the practical one, pointed out that if your hen has a tendency to fly over the fence around her chicken run, a coat over her wings would solve the problem. Why didn’t my mother think of that instead of clipping the wing feathers of errant hens?

Christian Crock of the Week: When Christianity Became the Opposite of Social Justice…

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From Roll to Disbelieve

Love your neighbor as yourselfGive till it hurts. Feed the hungryClothe the naked and comfort the sick, imprisoned, and mourning. As you treat the least, you treat Jesus himselfNever fight back against persecution or resist the predations of those who mean you harm. If you’re hit in the face, turn the other cheek to your attacker’s hand. If you’re told to carry heavy stuff for a mile, carry it for two without complaint. If someone compels you to give them your coat, give them your shirt as well. Sell everything you own, if you’re convinced you’ve done everything else to keep the laws, and give the proceeds to the poor. Your King is a beggar, a stranger in his own land, who died the most humiliating death imaginable at the time, and a Prince of Peace rather than a Warlord, so following him all but guarantees that you will be led to the slaughter. When, not if, that happens, accept it with a smileDon’t judge anybody. Oh, and all that stuff you think you know about the proper roles of men and women, slaves and free people, and Jews and Gentiles? That’s all wrong too.

–Stuff Modern Christians Have Decided Is Totally Boring

Interesting list, isn’t it? It’s unlikely that Christianity came up with all these ideas by itself–quite a bit of the stuff people think of as uniquely Christian was plagiarized from other sources at the time, like the writings of Philo of Alexandria that seem to undergird quite a bit of the religion’s earliest writings–but even so we can certainly appreciate how early Jews would have been simply scandalized that this man who growing numbers of people claimed was their Messiah was, rather than being a powerful war-chief who’d lead Israel to independence from the Roman Empire as they expected, in actuality a lowly pacifist who did not fulfill any of their requirements of a Messiah. Still, as religions go it was likely quite startling at the time to both Jews and Gentiles.

A Hacker in Every Server…

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From Business Week

Most gamblers were still asleep, and the gondoliers had yet to pole their way down the ersatz canal in front of the Venetian casino on the Las Vegas Strip. But early on the chilly morning of Feb. 10, just above the casino floor, the offices of the world’s largest gaming company were gripped by chaos. Computers were flatlining, e-mail was down, most phones didn’t work, and several of the technology systems that help run the $14 billion operation had sputtered to a halt.

Computer engineers at Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) raced to figure out what was happening. Within an hour, they had a diagnosis: Sands was under a withering cyber attack. PCs and servers were shutting down in a cascading IT catastrophe, with many of their hard drives wiped clean. The company’s technical staff had never seen anything like it.

“This isn’t the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing”

Christopher Hitchens, Three Years Gone, Rewrites the Ten Commandments…


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What Choice Do We Have?


From Charles Hugh Smith

The bottom line for the vast majority of us is that there is an extremely high price to be paid for independence from fealty to the State or Corporate America.

It’s jolly good fun to discuss alternatives to the doomed status quo, but what choice do most of us have to participating in the current system, even if we loathe it? The lack of choice is of course a key characteristic of the status quo– if alternatives were plentiful, how many would opt out of Corporate America and the Financial Nobility’s manor house of debt servitude?

The absence of alternatives results from several interacting dynamics.The first is false choice, the illusion of choice that enables the Powers That Be to claim we live in a democracy that is also a meritocracy where anyone can rise to the top if they follow the prescribed pathway: a four-year university degree, followed by a graduate degree, and so on.

Degrowth, the Book…

From David Bollier

In industrialized societies, where so many people regard economic growth as the essence of human progress, the idea of deliberately rejecting growth is seen as insane.  Yet that is more or less what the planet’s ecosystems are saying right now about the world economy. It’s also the message of an expanding movement, Degrowth, that is particularly strong in Europe and the global South.

A few months ago I b logged about the massive Degrowth conference in Leipzig, Germany, that attracted 3,000 people from around the world. The basic point of the discussions was how to get beyond the fetish of growth, intellectually and practically, and how to transform our idea of “the economy” so that it incorporates such important values as democracy, social well-being and ecological limits.

William Edelen: To live with wonder…

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
Repost

If we are fortunate, at some point before we die, we can discover WONDER. For we who have become so preoccupied with gaining and spending, with winning and losing, have lost sight of the miracles around us. Wonder is the capacity of sustained joy and awe. Wonder is a sense of freshness and spontaneity. Every day is a surprise party. Life is a cafeteria of delights, a new flower, a hummingbird hovering, a cucumber cucumbering.

To sense the ultimate in the common and in the rush of the passing, stillness in the eternal is to live with wonder, with “Ah.”

The purpose of religion for thousands of years has been to put human life into direct contact with the life of the cosmos, mountain life, desert life, cloud life, sun life, moon life, water life, rain life, snow life, plant life, animal life, storm life, rock life, and so receive energy, joy, and transformation. That is why the seasons of Solstice and Equinox are so important in the celebrations of so many traditions.

Todd Walton: Multiple Thanks

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From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“All the successful parents I have observed seem to possess one common quality: that of being able to visit with their children.” Marcelene Cox

The week before Thanksgiving, we pre-ordered our organic, free-range, successfully psychoanalyzed, thrice-blessed, kosher, Pulitzer-Prize-winning turkey from Harvest Market and then drove to Santa Rosa to spend a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving with Marcia’s mother Opal at Spring Lake Village, a groovy retirement community where Opal has lived for many years.

Weary of institutional food, no matter how good the cooks, Opal was raring to go out to eat, so for supper we went to an excellent Thai restaurant and for lunch the next day, after a hearty breakfast in the Spring Lake Village bistro, we went to Opal’s favorite Chinese restaurant. You see the pattern: one meal leading to the next, with brief intermissions for billiards and sleep.

The Media Is Focusing On the WRONG Senate Torture Report… The Real Question is WHY We Tortured, Which Leads Directly To WHO Is Responsible…

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From Washington’s Blog

The Big Torture Story Everyone Is Missing…

While the torture report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee is very important, it doesn’t address the big scoop regarding torture.

Instead, it is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report that dropped the big bombshell regarding the U.S.  torture program.

Senator Levin, commenting on a Armed Services Committee’s report on torture in 2009, explained:

Put Those Police Cameras on Bankers…

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From Jesse Jackson

Recently, five St. Louis Rams professional football players entered a game with their hands up, protesting the killing of Michael Brown. They stand in the lineage of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, of Muhammad Ali, identifying with the pain in their communities and turning protest into power.

The gesture turned to chants — “Hands up; Don’t Shoot” in demonstrations across the country. Protesters shut down major thoroughfares from Manhattan to Chicago to Los Angeles to decry the Staten Island grand jury that refused to indict the policemen who killed Eric Garner, turning his plea — “I can’t breathe” — into a call for justice.

In these cases, there was no cross examination and thus no indictments. “Justice” rings hollow across the nation. Injustice reins.

These demonstrations, largely by young and remarkably multi-racial crowds, are not the first. They were preceded by Occupy Wall Street, indicting the 1 percent and spreading to hundreds of cities. They were foreshadowed by the dreamers, children demanding the right to come out of the shadows of the undocumented.

Los Angeles, City of Water…

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From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

[If Los Angeles can hugely reduce its water consumption it’s worth a few minutes to consider the claims of Claude Lewenz that MendoVito could indeed further show us the way forward.  Surely if Los Angeles can reduce its water usage, a new community that doesn’t have to retrofit can reduce per capita water use hugely as well.  It’s at least worth considering.  I recommend reading the article in the New York Times via the link below.

“One sign of Los Angeles’s earnestness is its success in conservation: The city now consumes less water than it did in 1970, while its population has grown by more than a third, to 3.9 million people from 2.8 million. Two projects — a nine-acre water-treating wetland constructed in a former bus maintenance yard and a water management plan devised for a flood-prone district of 80,000 people — won awards this year from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. The city itself won one of the first water sustainability awards given by the U.S. Water Alliance, in 2011.” -JS]

LOS ANGELES is the nation’s water archvillain, according to public perception, notorious for its usurpation of water hundreds of miles away to slake the thirst of its ever-expanding population. As a character in “Chinatown,” the noirish 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson that churns through the city’s water history, puts it, “Either you bring the water to L.A., or you bring L.A. to the water.”

Recently, however, Los Angeles has reduced its reliance on outside sources of water. It has become, of all things, a leader in sustainable water management, a pioneer in big-city use of cost-effective, environmentally beneficial water conservation, collection and reuse technologies. Some combination of these techniques is the most plausible path to survival for all the cities of the water-depleted West.

Gene Logsdon: Shocking Stories

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From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Nothing I read or see in the news can shock me like the real thing: backing inadvertently  into an electrified fence. That is the ultimate wake-up call and it has been my bad fortune to have been awakened that way so often in my sordid past that I might have built up enough immunity to survive the electric chair.

Not much is made of the fact, but without electric fence, today’s rotational grazing would not be so easy and inexpensive— hardly possible at all. But ’twas not always so. l began getting electrified way back in the 1950s when my father and I decided that we could replace real livestock fences with one wispy strand of electric wire and hold in a hundred head of hungry Holsteins. I still have nightmares of our thundering herd  disappearing into standing corn and exiting out the other side into Aunt Stella’s garden, dragging a fourth of mile of high tensile wire behind them.

Claude Lewenz of MendoVito interview now posted at Mendocino Talking…

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(Claude Lewenz proposes to build a self-contained “VillageTown” of 5,000 to 10,000 people to be located in McDowell Valley, Southeast of Hopland on 423 acres. 

The purpose of my interview was not to learn more about the project — which was well-presented at the recent forum in Hopland, and in his book How To Build a Village, and on the website MendoVito.com — but rather to find out who he is. He says that he is not a “developer” looking to make a profit, but rather a “social entrepreneur” defined on the website as “individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems.”

On the website… “A VillageTown is a set of organizational principles designed to enable people and communities to regain control over their own economies and lives. It is used to design and build a self-created, self-funded, self-governing settlement, an archetypal country town that is made of villages, and that does not use a developer. Car-free within its urban core, its people work within walking distance of home… Based on common sense, not utopian ideals, it is what happens when timeless “patterns” proven to work are integrated with the best potential of new technology. Environmentally, socially and culturally, it focuses on balancing life to be sustainable, so present generations leave the earth and its people in better condition than what they inherited from those who came before.”

Here is Claude’s personal story…)
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Todd Walton: Holiday Shopping Reminder

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 Dear Reader,

I promise this will be my last holiday shopping reminder for 2014. A graduate of the self-taught course How To Sell Excellent Esoteric Original Literature and Music All By Yourself With No Advertising Budget, I have learned that reminders to the wonderful people who read my blog are important, but should be used sparingly to avoid annoying those rare beings who might patronize my art. And you are one of those rare beings. With the Winter Solstice fast approaching, I hope you will come visit Under The Table Books and do some window shopping and possibly purchase an item or seven. http://underthetablebooks.com/index.php

Of special note this year are the first four cards of our new line of large Solstice Cards (good for both Solstices). Just three dollars each with envelope. Or you can get all four for just ten dollars. What a great alternative to the usual hoo ha. If you go to see them, click on the smaller images to see them large.
http://underthetablebooks.com/drawings/solstice.php

Another new creation we’re thrilled about is Ida’s Place Book Two: Revival, the second volume in the Ida’s Place saga set in the mythical town of Big River on the far north coast of California with a large cast of unforgettable characters involved in all manner of dramas and intrigues. Each coil-bound copy signed and lavishly numbered.
http://underthetablebooks.com/words/pubs/revival.php

Reaction to Book Two has been wonderful so far, and Book Three is now underway.
If you haven’t read Ida’s Place Book One: Return, you can read the first three chapters on my web site and see if you want to give the larger opus a try. As Alex MacBride wrote, ”I had forgotten what it’s like to enjoy a book so purely and unambiguously and happily and want nothing more than to keep reading. I love it. It gave me a kind of reading-joy I haven’t had much since I was thirteen and fourteen, a tingling sort of excited comfort—moving along eagerly but resting at the same time, happy to be in the book’s world.”If you have read the Ida books, we hope you’ll consider giving them as gifts to unsuspecting friends and relatives. http://underthetablebooks.com/words/pubs/ida.php

Our other brand new creation, just now starting to get airplay on a few tiny public radio stations here and there around America, is nature of love, solo piano, two songs with words, and two poems. “A thrilling mixture.” says Max Greenstreet  Downloadable from CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Or gettable from me for just ten dollars at http://underthetablebooks.com/music/natureoflove.php

My other CDs and the two CDs of tunes I made with Marcia playing her gorgeous cello can be found at. http://underthetablebooks.com/music/index.php And are downloadable from iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon.My award-winning casebound collection of dharma stories Buddha In A Teacup is now just ten dollars. http://underthetablebooks.com/words/pubs/buddha.php

And my other award-wnning novel of stories Under the Table Books is a mere seven dollars for the beautiful hardback! http://underthetablebooks.com/words/pubs/uttb.php

Remember: No matter how much you order, shipping is only five dollars.

Come visit. Come listen to readings from my works on the Listen Page. Peruse the Art in the Art section. Listen to music samples in the Music Section. Have fun.

Until next year, thanks for being you, and please share this notice with friends if you are so inclined. For those who don’t want to use a credit card online, just send me a list of the goodies you want and I will calculate the total and any applicable sales tax and let you know how much to send via check to my p.o.box.

Muchas Gracias,

Todd
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