Dear President Obama…


By Jason Bradford
Willits

Dear President Obama…

…How You Could Give Me Hope

I know heaps of ridiculously high expectations are being placed upon you, but allow me to give you five simple, inexpensive and immediate ways that you could provide hope.

1. Convert White House lawns to food gardens. In addition to an assortment of vegetables (imagine fresh arugula whenever you are at home), go ahead and include hens, a beehive, and perhaps a dairy cow (I think you have the space). I am a farmer so I know that getting your nails dirty would be a great compliment to a basketball workout and is fantastic for mental relaxation and acuity. A walk through the garden would likely help during tense negotiations, whether foreign or domestic. But most importantly, this move would give people the message that some degree of self-reliance is good for them and their country.

2. Bring House Rep. Roscoe Bartlett over to your office for a special presentation of his energy talk, make sure your cabinet is there, and present him with an appropriate Presidential Medal of some sort. He’s a Republican so this would be a great bipartisan move. He is also a bona fide scientist who can speak with authority on the “source” side of the equation with respect to fossil fuels.

3. Invite James Hansen and his wife to stay in the Lincoln bedroom. Keep him around long enough to personally be assured that you understand his positions and reasoning. He believes substantive changes in energy policy need to happen within your first term or the planet is toast. Unfortunately, I think he’s right.

4. Place Herman Daly as a key economic advisor. So far your economic team looks to me like the same folks who created the mess. I have absolutely no confidence in them. Much of the banking system is a black hole that is insolvent and unredeemable. By contrast, the hundreds of billions (soon to be trillions?) of dollars wasted in shoring up banks could help pay down our ecological debts if allocated wisely. Maybe you are going to tell these guys to do a pirouette and reform themselves and their ilk?

5. Develop a “Securing the Basics” plan. With the economy tanking, the risk of civil unrest, both here and abroad, is real. Because we are mostly a society of urban and suburban consumers, households in the U.S. must pay for basic goods. The extreme income inequity in the U.S. is an additional vulnerability. Lack of self-reliance means that if oil imports are cut off suddenly or commerce falters due to a cascade of credit failures, the very necessities of life such as food, water, and shelter may be lost to tens of millions of citizens. If the population knew that a credible plan existed to mitigate for such a catastrophe, ensuring fair and timely distribution of goods, it would reduce the likelihood that panic would set in. Over the long-term, a society that is not so import-dependent, especially for food and energy, should be a policy goal.

Read the whole letter at The Oil Drum

Hat tip to Meca


Self-Actualizing Work – Abraham Maslow


Maslow on Management (Book Excerpts)
Abraham H. Maslow

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization… It refers to man’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming…
~

To do some idiotic job very well is certainly not real achievement. What is not worth doing is not worth doing well.
~

The test for any person is—that is you want to find out whether he’s an apple tree or not—Does He Bear Apples? Does He Bear Fruit? That’s the way you tell the difference between fruitfulness and sterility, between talkers and doers, between the people who change the world and the people who are helpless in it.
~

…seeking for personal salvation is anyway the wrong road to personal salvation. The only real path [is] salvation via hard work and total commitment to doing well the job that fate or personal destiny calls you to do, or any important job that “calls for” doing… This business of self-actualization via a commitment to an important job and to worthwhile work could also be said, then, to be the path to human happiness (by contrast with the direct attack or the direct search for happiness) — happiness is… a by-product, something not to be sought directly but an indirect reward for virtue… The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important… Or I can put this very bluntly: Salvation Is a By-Product of Self-Actualizing Work and Self-Actualizing Duty.
~

…most people prefer no work at all to meaningless work, or wasted work, or made work… In self-actualizing people, the work they do might better be called “mission,” “calling,” “duty”, “vocation,” in the priest’s sense… For the truly fortunate worker, the ideally enlightened worker, to take away work (mission in life) would be almost equivalent to killing him.
~

All human beings prefer meaningful work to meaningless work. This is much like stressing the high human need for a system of values, a system of understanding the world and of making sense out of it. This comes very close to the religious quest in the humanistic sense. If work is meaningless, then life comes close to being meaningless. Perhaps here is also the place to point out that no matter how menial the chores—the dishwashing and the test-tube cleaning, all become meaningful or meaningless by virtue of their participation or lack of participation in a meaningful or important or loved goal.
~

Enlightened management is one way of taking religion seriously, profoundly, deeply, and earnestly. Of course, for those who define religion just as going to a particular building on Sunday and hearing a particular kind of formula repeated, this is all irrelevant. But for those who define religion not necessarily in terms of the supernatural, or ceremonies, or rituals, but in terms of deep concern with the problems of human beings, with the problems of ethics, of the future of man, then this kind of philosophy, translated into the work life, turns out to be very much like the new style of management and of organization.


The gap and the bridge


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

What is real anymore? Local neighbors, you and me, struggling to weather a financial tsunami that threatens to take us all down with it.

What is real? Our need as citizens to “put away childish things” and work to find a common ground on which to stand together.

That common ground is local and precious, not national or symbolic. It requires us to trust, not fuss. It moves us back in a direction that we lost long ago when we all decided that the point of life was to stampede through the door and grab all we could before someone else did. And now that the grabbing is over, the bills are coming due in the mail, and in the environment.

Judging another’s values based on our identity as consumers, of various political stripes, has been a favorite pastime writ large by mass media… and it kills community. What will get us through locally will be the virtues we share, not the values we fight over.

Values are legion, symbolic, and divisive. Political values are conservative vs liberal, right vs left, us vs them; economic values are socialist vs capitalist, communist vs fascist, etc. etc., all made moot by their smudging together into a bewildering hodge-podge of muttering and grimacing, point-counterpoint yelling and screaming… then suddenly gone silent with the overwhelming alarms of financial and planetary disaster, and personal tragedy. What now?

Virtues are what is best of who we really are. They are the fundamentals of our individual character, and full of meaning. Although defined most recently by religions, they go back much further in ancient wisdom traditions before religions codified them, and thus are relevant to the secular as well. Faith in each other, hope in the future, justice for all, courage to do what is right, and love for our neighbors. And there are a couple more that we’ve forgotten even existed: Prudence, which is wisdom and sensibleness in practical matters; and Temperance, which means to be moderate in one’s needs… knowing when enough is enough.

It is from this place of responsibility that citizens can expect and demand an open and responsive democratic government, both at the county and national level. Closed off, suspicious, and paranoid government officials, as recently demonstrated by our county CEO refusing access to journalists, are not what a renewed and empowered citizenry requires in this county, and at this time in history.

While we stand and fight for our values, as a democratic society demands that we do as citizens, we will find much more to admire and work with by recognizing each other’s virtues and responsibilities. The measure is how we respect and work together as citizens, neighbors, political representatives, and journalists.

Recognize the virtues in a neighbor, and you’ll find a friend, not a foe. And in a time of fear and trembling, that’s what builds a community.
~~

The problems…

Crash Course in Economics

The Automatic Earth

Local solutions…

Mendo Time Bank

Mendo Moola

Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts. ~Wendell Berry


More Stonewalling: Growth of County Debt (Updated)


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Continue to YourPublicMoney.com


Update

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

The feeling returns
whenever we close out eyes
Lifting my head
looking around inside.

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts dont do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things
Facts dont stain the furniture
Facts go out and slam the door
Facts are written all over your face
Facts continue to change their shape

I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…

Crosseyed and Painless – Talking Heads


The Pond at the Center of the Universe


By Gene Logsdon (1991)

The man standing stone-post-still on the shoreline of The Pond was watching a muskrat swimming on the water surface, its wake forming a V-shaped ripple of scarlet fading to indigo against the sunset. Without turning his head, which might scare the muskrat into diving underwater and scooting for its den, the man also watched, out of the corner of his eye, a great blue heron drifting down out of the sky toward him.

He was used to seeing the heron on its nightly trip up the creek valley, headed back to the rookery where most of Wyandot County’s herons, silent and solitary by day, gathered to roost. But this time, the huge slate-gray bird, its wingspan over five feet, was doing something wary great blue herons do not normally do. It continued to drift down in the twilight, made a pass over the pond, and then turned straight at him as if to land on one of the posts that held the homemade pier he was standing on. Forgetting the muskrat, but still not moving a muscle, the man watched aghast as the great bird hovered above him, like an avenging angel, and perched right on top of his head.

Not many people would have the steely nerves to suffer, without moving, a great blue heron’s talons gripping his head, but this man, my brothter-in-law, is not known in these parts for reacting to anything in an ordinary manner. He had already realized that no one was going to believe him unless he caught the bird. He started inching his right hand up the side of his body. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Gotcha! With one swift grab, he snatched the heron’s legs in his hand like a chicken thief removing a hen from the roost and bore his prize homeward so that all the neighborhood might see and believe. His family gathered round, ignorant of the danger involved. None of them knew that great blue herons can skewer an unsuspecting human’s eyeball right out of its socket with one lightning stab of its beak. This time, fortunately, its captor wore glasses and when the heron jabbed at him, it only knocked the glasses from his head. When another onlooker reached for the glasses, the heron speared him in the hand, having endured, it seemed, enough human attention for one day. A quick decision was reached. In the case of herons, better two in the bush than one in the hand. The bird haughtily stalked away, looking like the dignified old lady who hoped no one was watching when the wind momentarily blew her dress over her head. Then it regally pumped its wings up and down, slowly lifted itself into the air and flew away.

Continue reading The Pond at the Center of the Universe at OrganicToBe.org


Ukiah’s Saturday Farmers’ Market 1/31/09


From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Greetings!

Looks like another freakishly balmy winter Saturday… take advantage with a trip to the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market. Help us celebrate the mid-way mark for the new off-season market.  When we conclude the market this Saturday we will have successfully extending our farmers’ market season by three whole months with three to go.  Stop by and get yourself a treat. You will be supporting the many fine farmers, ranchers, apiarists, fishers and crafters (how about getting your baby a World Peace Doll or some server dinner on some new locally crafted linens for Valentines Day?) who have toughed out our first winter market and made it a success– helping to create a local market opportunity that can pay dividends for our local economy and personal health for years to come.

Thanks to John Johns for finding Josh Madsen to play for us last Saturday. Keep bringing those musical recommendations, recipes, suggested additions, AG related news items, etc.

This weekend we have one more scheduled appearance by the Julian Trio.

At this Saturday’s market you can expect our usual array of great vendors — come for Caroline, Pedro or Richard’s greens, fish should be in the house, the Ford’s great natural beef, Shamrock Cheese, an array of Olivino oil, baked goods that support the Ford Street Project, Thanksgiving coffee, lots of really great crafts and much more.  We have several new things on the horizon … but not quite ready including a seaweed vendor, jams and jellies from two producers, and …. Mendocino grown wheat! Shamrock promises to start bringing their fresh local eggs, perhaps as soon as this Saturday.

For those of you unhappy with things like mercury in your processed foods

(http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_16627.cfm) or our non-organic, commodity and monoculture oriented national AG policy in general, the Organic Consumers Union is one of the groups leading the charge for more farm, food, and eater friendly policies.  You can get a status and find some recommended actions at http://www.organicconsumers.org/vilsack.cfm.

See you at the market.

[“…studies have shown that including apples in your diet may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, liver, prostate and lung. The flavonoids in apples were credited with the anti-cancer effects.” -DS] See: Apples are beneficial only if organically grown


The Ukiah Latitude Observatory (Updated)


From Martin Bradley
Ukiah

The International Latitude Observatories were a system of (originally) six observatories located near the parallel of 39º 08’ north latitude.  They were used to measure the variation in latitude that occurs as a result of the wobble of the Earth on its polar axis.  The orginal six observatories were located in:
• Gaithersburg, Maryland
• Cincinnati, Ohio
• Ukiah, California
• Mizusawa, Japan
• Charjui, Turkestan
• Carloforte, Italy

History

The International Polar Motion Service program was created by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1899 to study the precession, or “wobble” of the Earth’s axis, and its effect on measures of latitude.  Six separate observatories were created .  The alignment of all six stations along the parallel helped the observatories to perform uniform data analysis.  Twelve groups of stars were studied in the program, each group containing six pairs of stars. Each night, each station observed two of the star groups along a preset schedule and later compared the data against the measurements taken by the sister stations.

Economic difficulties and war caused the closing of some of the original stations.  The stations continued to function until advances in computer technology and satellite observations rendered them obsolete in 1982.  The data collected by the observatories over the years still has use to scientists, and had been applied to studies of polar motion, physical properties of the Earth, climatology and satallite tracking and navigation.

Continue to Ukiah International Observatory Index


Update: The Jason Bradford interview of Bill McKibben on the Reality Report KZYX via Global Public Media (Transcript)


The housing bubble’s long emergency (Updated)


[You’ll have to decide for yourself how predictive this might be, and what effect it will have on you and all of us locally. -DS]

Go to Housing as shelter, not speculation

Update [Quote] And that’s where I disagree. We are not spending $850 billion to save people, we are spending $850 billion to save a system. But that system is fraudulent, and saving that system is wrong. We need to help people struggle through difficult times, and then we need to reinvent ourselves. Spending to save the system does nothing to create a new, sustainable, viable system.

So then, what’s the alternative? I believe that the federal government and the states should stop trying to save the banks and other financial institutions, should stop providing trillions in taxpayer dollars to institutions that are already bankrupt and who do not in any way serve the public interest, and should instead use any federal monies to subsidize social support programs during this economic depression. I think that the federal government should admit that the perpetuation of a system of globalization based upon usury is neither moral nor in the public’s best interest. In its place the federal government should provide support and training and funding for projects that recognize the following realities: (1) That the age of growth is over. We have entered the age of sustainability. (2) That saving the system of ‘money-as-debt’ only serves to further incarcerate the people, not liberate them. (3) That the banks and other institutions who have used deception and duplicity and Ponzi schemes to make billions in profits should be held to account.

The bottom line is this: spending money to save a system that has crashed because it is in debt is false. Like with a flooded lawnmower engine, throwing more gas into the tank isn’t going to help the cause. Vermont’s $1 Billion will not fundamentally change the lives and futures of the citizens of the state for the better. It will only, at best, temporize the pain for a brief time. But the system that keeps us in debt-servitude, and that compels us to “consume” when in fact the survival of our planet demands that we learn how to “sustain”, persists.

More of this analysis and context at The Automatic Earth


The Media’s role in the financial crisis


[This article is about why journalism is so important. Locally, the UDJ can never do an effective job until it is independent and locally owned, and also independent internally from its advertisers… as professional, feisty journalism used to be. -DS]

by Dan Gilmor
TPM Cafe
Excerpts
Full article here

Our government’s current operating principle seems to be bailing out people who were culpable in the financial meltdown. If so, journalists are surely entitled to billions of dollars.

Why? Journalists were grossly deficient when it came to covering the reckless behavior, sleaze and willful ignorance of fundamental economics, much of which was reasonably obvious to anyone who was paying attention, that inflated the housing and credit bubbles of the past decade. Their frequent cheerleading for bad practices — and near-total failure to warn us, repeatedly and relentlessly, of what was building — made a bad situation worse…

It’s not as if this is the first time a big issue has had too little discussion while there was still time to fix the problem. Journalism has repeatedly failed to warn the public about huge, visible risks. The media’s complicity in the Iraq War-mongering and 1990s stock bubble were the most infamous recent examples until the financial bust came along, but the willful blindness to reality was uncannily similar…

And even when the reporting was solid, which was rare enough, news organizations didn’t follow up in appropriate ways. If we can foresee a catastrophe, it’s not enough to mention it once or twice and then move on.

That common practice suggests an opportunity. When we can predict an inevitable calamity if we continue along the current path, we owe it to the public to do everything we can to encourage a change in that destructive behavior.

In practice, this means activism. It means relentless campaigning to point out what’s going wrong, and demanding corrective action from those who can do something about it.

So in Florida, Arizona and California, among other epicenters of the housing bubble, newspapers might have told their readers — including governmental officials — the difficult truth. They could have explained, again and again, that the housing bubble would inevitably lead, at least locally, to personal financial disaster for many in their regions, not to mention fiscal woes for local and state governments. How many should have done this, given the media’s at least partial reliance on advertising from those who profited from the bubbles? Any that cared to do their jobs…

Californians are especially practiced at pretending not to see what’s visible in front of them. The state’s fiscal crisis is far worse than most, in large part because the governor and state legislature — with media winks and nods — generated a torrent of new red ink, via borrowing, to cover new spending and earlier debts. The piper is now demanding his payment, and his price threatens to be ruinous. (Will this be our national fate in a few years?)…

Once upon a time, news people went on campaigns when they saw the need. Sometimes this led to yellow journalism, as when newspaper owners used their publications to stir up the populace in dangerous ways. At other times, however, old-fashioned press campaigns led to change for the better; back when editorial pages had more influence in communities, a few courageous newspaper editors in the South campaigned for school integration, and made an enormous difference.

Journalistic activism — precisely what we need despite most journalists’ disdain for the idea — won’t save newspapers that are suffering from a perfect storm of dwindling leadership and advertising losses. But as Online Journalism Review‘s Robert Niles recently wrote, journalists should “accept the responsibility to demand action” based on what they learn when they do their jobs right.

The media’s collective irresponsibility has ill-served its audience. If journalists want to keep the audience they have, never mind building credibility for the future, they need to become the right kind of activists. More than ever, we need what they do, when they do it well.


[The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and a free communication of the people thereon has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right. -James Madison, 1798]


In Honor of Fran Macy


From Earl Brown
Ukiah

On January 20, 2009, after witnessing the inauguration of President Obama with friends and family Fran Macy crossed back into the Great Mystery. Suffering a heart attack after returning home from the festivities Fran passed in his long time home, surrounded and held by family. I understand it was one of the happiest days of his life, which is very meaningful given the fullness of the life he lived. I believe the election and inauguration of President Obama represented undeniable milestones marking the progress of the Great Turning for Fran, symbolic in so many ways of rising consciousness, proving we can choose to generate the political will and create a sustainable human presence on Earth. I am happy he was with his loved ones and he lived to see this historic moment. I already miss him dearly.

To say Fran was a Renaissance man would not be entirely correct, although he certainly embodied this archetype. Perhaps closer to the truth would be that he gives the term a new definition, a higher benchmark, call it a new upgrade in masculine software to, “Renaissance Man, Planet Addition”. Fran was a visionary who saw how life could be, how it was completely interdependent and yet spectacularly individual in creative expression, each Being unique, a whole, a Holon. Giving and allowing were two of his most outstanding qualities for me and he is and will continue to be my role model on how to be a man during these years of questioning, crisis and rebirth. Just by being himself he has influenced thousands. Those inspired by this loving man have in turn inspired countless others and the ripple effect of Fran’s influence will be shared for generations to come. His devotion and love for our planet Gaia and all her children is well renowned. He was a quiet leader, a passionate warrior for truth, a teacher, a compassionate friend, a mentor and probably the most honorable man I have yet to meet.

I have been working with and learning from Joanna Macy for the past five years and Fran has been ever present supporting her and the Work That Reconnects (WTR). It has been inspiring to watch Fran as he quietly and many times humorously supported Joanna, never seeking control, or dominance, yet leading by not taking the lead. Over the past two years I have had the wonderful opportunity and good fortune to work with Fran, Joanna, and some outstanding men, to begin leading men in WTR workshops. Joanna has been brave and courageous to go into retreat with a bunch of men seeking to know themselves and their place in the world better and Fran has been right there all the way. Instead of playing the “facilitator” and staying aloof from the activities, Fran joined us and approached his masculine nature, his wounds, his weakness, his strength and potential, with vulnerability, honesty and in ways that gave others permission to do the same. Men are usually the minority at WTR workshops and intensives, generally about 20 percent of participants, and Fran knew the importance of getting more men into the work. He will live on as an example of how a man, or men, can take an active role in bringing about the Great Turning, to act on behalf of all life and become, or remain, fully masculine.

When they know it is safe men can be very sensitive, vulnerable, compassionate, nurturing. However, as a man I also know we are not very trained in how to handle strong emotions; they tend to overwhelm our meager defenses once we let them in and rend our hearts. Fran showed me this was not only acceptable but desirable. A man who was not afraid to feel could achieve many things and could not be dominated, or deflected, by fear. With a heart opened to the pain and suffering of others, as well as his own, Fran demonstrated wisdom, strength, grace and a passionate fire for justice. Here are a few words from men who attended our last gathering at Land of Medicine Buddha, in the Santa Cruz Mountains this last November:

Continue reading In Honor of Fran Macy


Bad Faith Economics – Krugman


By Paul Krugman
NYT

As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

Some of these arguments are obvious cheap shots. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

First, there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years.

It’s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)

The true cost per job of the Obama plan will probably be closer to $100,000 than $275,000 — and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts.

Next, write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.

Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.

The point is that nobody really believes that a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending. Meanwhile, it’s clear that when it comes to economic stimulus, public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts — and therefore costs less per job created (see the previous fraudulent argument) — because a large fraction of any tax cut will simply be saved.

This suggests that public spending rather than tax cuts should be the core of any stimulus plan. But rather than accept that implication, conservatives take refuge in a nonsensical argument against public spending in general.

Finally, ignore anyone who tries to make something of the fact that the new administration’s chief economic adviser has in the past favored monetary policy over fiscal policy as a response to recessions.

It’s true that the normal response to recessions is interest-rate cuts from the Fed, not government spending. And that might be the best option right now, if it were available. But it isn’t, because we’re in a situation not seen since the 1930s: the interest rates the Fed controls are already effectively at zero.

That’s why we’re talking about large-scale fiscal stimulus: it’s what’s left in the policy arsenal now that the Fed has shot its bolt. Anyone who cites old arguments against fiscal stimulus without mentioning that either doesn’t know much about the subject — and therefore has no business weighing in on the debate — or is being deliberately obtuse.

These are only some of the fundamentally fraudulent antistimulus arguments out there. Basically, conservatives are throwing any objection they can think of against the Obama plan, hoping that something will stick.

But here’s the thing: Most Americans aren’t listening. The most encouraging thing I’ve heard lately is Mr. Obama’s reported response to Republican objections to a spending-oriented economic plan: “I won.” Indeed he did — and he should disregard the huffing and puffing of those who lost.

[Action: Fill the internet with emails, and the phone system with calls to our representatives. Don’t let utterly failed policies or roadblocks screw America over again… -DS]


Veterans For Peace, Depleted Uranium Petition


From Annie Esposito
Ukiah

So-called “Depleted Uranium” is poisoning our troops, according to the Veterans for Peace.  Mendocino County’s Chapter 116 of Veterans for Peace met Sunday (1/25) in Ukiah to work on a petition to stop use of uranium munitions.

The campaign started in Mendocino County with work by John Lewellan and is now on the agenda of the national organization.  There is a letter to the editor in The Daily Journal, and Bernie MacDonald is editing a press release to go out soon.

Pictured holding the petition against use of “depleted uranium” is veteran Bob Wilkinson of Laytonville.  To the left are VfP President Richard Hincker from Willits and Peter Sears of Fort Bragg; Jamie Connerton is on the right.  For more information, people can contact Connerton at 468-9644


... and from Jim Kunstler today

Putting aside whether this “stimulus” represents reckless money-printing in an insolvent society, let’s just take it at face-value and ask where the “money” might be better directed:

– We have to rehabilitate thousands of downtowns all over the nation to accommodate the new re-scaled edition of local and regional trade that will follow the death of national chain-store retail of the WalMart ilk. Reactivated town centers and Main Streets are indispensable features of walkable communities. The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU.org) ought to be consulted on the procedures for accomplishing this and for rehabilitating the traditional neighborhoods connected to our Main Streets.

– We have to reform food production (a.k.a. “farming”). Petro-dependent agri-biz will go the same way as the chain stores. Its equations will fail, especially in a credit-strapped society. That piece of the picture is so dire right now, as we prepare for the planting season, that many crops may not be put in for lack of front-money. This portends, at least, much higher food prices at the end of the year, if not outright scarcities and shortages. And the new government wants to gold-plate highway off-ramps instead? Earth to Rahm Emanuel: screw your head back on.

Read on: State of Change


Fahrenheit 451 – The temperature at which books burn


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

Ray Bradbury, 1950

[Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship; he states that Fahrenheit 451 is a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of “factoids”, partial information devoid of context, e.g., Napoleon’s birth date alone, without an indication of who he was. These excerpts: someone underlined them in a used copy found in a bookstore]

“Why aren’t you in school? I see you every day wandering around.”

“Oh they don’t miss me,” she said. “I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this.” She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. “Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don’t think it’s social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher. That’s not social to me at all. It’s a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it’s wine when it’s not. They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can’t do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. Or go out in the cars and race on the streets, trying to see how close you can get to lamposts, playing ‘chicken’ and ‘knock hubcaps.’ I guess I’m everything they say I am, all right. I haven’t any friends. That’s supposed to prove I’m abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”…

“…and do you know what?”
“What?”
People don’t talk about anything.”
“Oh, they must!”
“No, not anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else. And most of the time in the caves they have the joke boxes on and the same jokes most of the time, or the musical wall lit and all the colored patterns running up and down, but it’s only color and all abstract. And at the museums, have you ever been? All abstract. That’s all there is now. My uncle says it was different once. A long time back sometimes pictures said things or even showed people.”

…Every hour so many damn things in the sky! How in hell did those bombers get up there every single second of our lives! Why doesn’t someone want to talk about it!… Is it because we’re having so much fun at home we’ve forgotten the world? Is it because we’re so rich and the rest of the world’s so poor and we just don’t care if they are? I’ve heard rumors; the world is starving, but we’re well fed. Is it true, the world works hard and we play? Is that why we’re hated so much? I’ve heard the rumors about hate, too, once in a long while, over the years. Do you know why? I don’t, that’s for sure! Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. They just might stop us from making the same damn insane mistakes! I don’t hear idiot bastards in your parlor talking about it. God, Millie, don’t you see? An hour a day, two hours with these books, and maybe…”


Els is back on KZYX today Monday 1/26 9am


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

After a two-year hiatus, Els Cooperrider (photo), much respected host of two previous KZYX radio shows, The Ecology Hour, and The Party’s Over, will resume her radio career today, Monday, January 26 at 9 a.m.

In a cozy interview in front of the fire at The Brew Pub, her family’s brewery and restaurant, Els talked about the new show to be broadcast every fourth Monday (mostly). She and Jason Bradford, host of The Reality Report, will share the time slot and will be flexible depending on their respective schedules.

Els and her guests will address how human relationships will change when cheap energy runs out. She warns, “None of the techno stuff will matter without human relationships.” Peering into a crystal ball, she sees a return to living in groupings of the extended family. This she said will be a matter of necessity for survival. Cheap energy has made the nuclear family possible, and when that goes away, so will the nuclear family.

She made clear that she was not talking about the intentional communities of the 1970’s, which, she said seemed to fall apart. Instead, she meant family by blood and marriage. Her perspective, she said, was made clearer when she came upon an anthropological concept, “Dunbar’s Number.” Dunbar theorized that an optimal group size for humans would be 150. Expect to hear more about that on Els’ show.

Two books could get us all thinking about these issues, she said. The first is a science fiction novel, World Made by Hand, by James Howard Kunstler, in which he portrays us as living in localized, agrarian communities. The second, Daniel Quinn’s Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure, is a series of one-page musings; perfect reading for the bathroom, she noted.

Her first guest will be clinical psychologist, Dr. Richard Miller, already familiar to KZYX listeners as the host of the show, “Mind, Body, Health and Politics.” Be sure to tune in for some intriguing and likely provocative radio.

Welcome back Els!


CFAR Pushes Masonite Site Environmental Review


From Antonio Andrade
Citizens For Adequate Review

As DDR was not being responsive to our lawsuit and claiming refuge for their activities claiming they were simply implementing the site remediation plan signed off on by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board’s (NCRWQB), it prompted Citizens For Adequate Review (CFAR) to review an early communication directed to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and to reframe some of those issues and follow-up with other issues that had not been addressed in the remediation process.

We did not go public with the communication when it was sent in late summer. We did not want to negatively impact our negotiations with the County or DDR. Now that the suit is settled, it is important that the City, County, local agencies and Boards who have oversight responsibilities continue to press for comprehensive remediation of the site. My conversations with Environmental Health Director John Morley were not encouraging in this respect. It was John’s position that his Department has no oversight responsibilities for the site and that his Department was mistakenly listed in the NCRWQB-approved remediation plan as a secondly agency who should be coordinated with for remediation of the site. Isn’t the site located in Mendocino County? Don’t they oversee the buried fuel containers for gas stations in the county and didn’t they oversee the remediation process for leaky fuel tanks?

Right now the focus needs to be on getting a response to this communication and/or getting DTSC in on the oversight…

Continue reading CFAR


Supervisors! Bring Our County CEO To Heel!


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

UDJ Editor K.C. Meadows writes today (excerpts):

Here at the Daily Journal, in an effort to keep the local citizens informed about the changes at the top of county government as we enter a financial crisis locally, we began this week the process of putting together a Who’s Who of the county’s non-elected department heads. We know that there have been some recent changes in the top slots and we figured the best way to let the public get to know these new and existing leaders is to do short profiles on them which we could run twice a week or so until we got through the list…

What we did not expect was that the county’s CEO, Tom Mitchell, would lead the county government in a blanket refusal to answer our questions.

We were told by one county contact that an email went out this week advising department heads that they should not cooperate. Already we have had an email from County Counsel Jeanine Nadel telling us she will not be getting back to us.

We cannot understand why the county’s top officer perceives this simple request for 10 minutes of his or any department head’s time so threatening. We thought of it as not only a public service but a positive one at that. We realize that some of this information is on the county web site but we wanted to give these county staffers a chance to personalize their responses.

Mr. Mitchell, in a snide email to our reporter, said in response to our request for information that he would like to know who our columnists are and how they get paid and why we don’t do more positive stories about the county.

Mr. Mitchell apparently forgets that he heads a public agency…

We can no longer tolerate such undemocratic and uncivil behavior from our lead “civil” servant. Mark Scaramella’s ongoing series in the AVA on the CEO’s lack of open communication only reinforces our view that we need a much more responsive CEO. Does he know what’s going on? If he has to answer “I’ll get back to you” so often to the Supes, and spend so much money on consultants, is it because he doesn’t have any answers, or are the answers being given “off-line” without citizen oversight in public meetings? Maybe he hasn’t heard that we are transitioning into a new era of openness, transparency and accountability. He needs to hop on the ol’ cluetrain.

The recent change in title from Chief Administrative Officer to Chief Executive Officer is a problem. It feeds the arrogance that an administrator is above the citizens and Supes, and takes its cues from corporate CEO behavior and our recently departed Boy King of the United States. This is top down dominance, not service… and not appropriate for a position answerable to the citizenry. Because administrators run the county like a byzantine firewalled fiefdom, switching back to a more respectful title would help redefine the position appropriately and hopefully open the county to healthy scrutiny. Mr. CEO, tear down this wall!

Action: We need an uproar from our citizenry, asking our county’s elected leadership to force compliance to K.C.’s request.

Turn up the heat! Let the sun shine in!
~~
Cartoon Credit Link


Biodynamics – The Original and Future Organic


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

We are blessed with numerous, pioneering biodynamic vineyards and farms here in Mendocino County. Action: Convert conventional farms to organics, and organic farms to Biodynamic. Here is a brief introduction:

BIODYNAMICS is the original foundation of publicly recognized organic agriculture. It is often called “organic plus” as this method is free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but also is minimally dependant on imported inputs and includes proactive holistic farming techniques such as herbal soil preparations, rigorous composting systems, and alignment with a planetary calendar. Avoidance of pest species is based on biological vigor and its intrinsic biological and genetic diversity.

Biodynamic agriculture was conceived in the 20th century by the philosopher Rudolf Steiner (photo). It is a naturally organic, holistic practice that seeks to maximise farm output while ensuring it is also self-sustainable. Special attention is given to balancing the farm with soil, plant, animal and cosmic processes in order to ensure continued harmony. The word “Biodynamics” combines the biology of agriculture with the dynamic aspects of ecological systems. Biodynamic agricultural principles emphasize living soil, the farm as a wholistic organism and acknowledges both the visible and invisible forces that create a healthy ecosystem.

The goal of a Biodynamic farm is to be able to support just the right balance of people, plants and animals, so that no outside inputs such as soil amendments or feed for the animals is needed. This is done by carefully timing planting, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting to coincide with the lunar and celestial phases which will most enhance the farm output. Specially made compost consisting of time-tested doses of plants, minerals and animal manure is applied throughout the seasons to enhance plant vitality and soil fertility.

Biodynamics uses a systematic ecological approach in which the farm is seen as a unique and self-sustaining entity. Any problems that arise are addressed within the confines of the farm itself. This means that fertilizers and pest management substances must be created on the farm.

Biodynamics is the oldest certified ecological farming system and has been an assurance of quality since it’s birth in 1928. When asked why the world was in so much turmoil and why people didn’t seem able to make moral and productive decisions necessary for positive change, Rudolf Steiner responded that our food lacked the etheric life forces to support our will. Steiner believed that the quality of food needed to improve for people to have enough will to be capable of making choices that would lead to a harmonious relationship with nature.
~~

“Naturally grown wines… tell us what is real… These winemakers are basically saying they are prepared to be vulnerable to the rhythms of the earth… Can you taste the Biodynamics? Of course not. But, you can taste courage… you can taste tenderness in the winemaking itself… This is what is real… Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we need that absolutely.” ~~ Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator
~~

More on Biodynamics based on “An Introduction To Biodynamic Agriculture”, originally published in Stella Natura calendar 1995.

What is Biodynamic agriculture? In seeking an answer let us pose the further question: Can the Earth heal itself, or has the waning of the Earths vitality gone too far for this? No matter where our land is located, if we are observant we will see sure signs of illness in trees, in our cultivated plants, in the water, even in the weather. Organic agriculture rightly wants to halt the devastation caused by humans; however, organic agriculture has no cure for the ailing Earth. From this the following question arises: What was the original source of vitality, and is it available now?

Biodynamics is a science of life-forces, a recognition of the basic principles at work in nature, and an approach to agriculture which takes these principles into account to bring about balance and healing. In a very real way, then, Biodynamics is an ongoing path of knowledge rather than an assemblage of methods and techniques.

Biodynamics is part of the work of Rudolf Steiner, known as Anthroposophy – a new approach to science which integrates precise observation of natural phenomena, clear thinking, and knowledge of the spirit. It offers an account of the spiritual history of the Earth as a living being, and describes the evolution of the constitution of humanity and the kingdoms of nature. Some of the basic principles of Biodynamics are:

Broaden Our Perspective
Just as we need to look at the magnetic field of the whole earth to comprehend the compass, to understand plant life we must expand our view to include all that affects plant growth. No narrow microscopic view will suffice. Plants are utterly open to and formed by influences from the depths of the earth to the heights of the heavens. Therefore our considerations in agriculture must range more broadly than is generally assumed to be relevant.

Reading the Book of Nature
Everything in nature reveals something of its essential character in its form and gesture. Careful observations of nature – in shade and full sun, in wet and dry areas, on different soils, will yield a more fluid grasp of the elements. So eventually one learns to read the language of nature. And then one can be creative, bringing new emphasis and balance through specific actions. Practitioners and experimenters over the last seventy years have added tremendously to the body of knowledge known as Biodynamics.

Cosmic Rhythms
The light of the sun, moon, planets and stars reaches the plants in regular rhythms. Each contributes to the life, growth and form of the plant. By understanding the gesture and effect of each rhythm, we can time our ground preparation, sowing, cultivating and harvesting to the advantage of the crops we are raising.

Plant Life Is Intimately Bound Up with the Life of the Soil
Biodynamics recognizes that soil itself can be alive, and this vitality supports and affects the quality and health of the plants that grow in it. Therefore, one of Biodynamics fundamental efforts is to build up stable humus in our soil through composting.

A New View of Nutrition
We gain our physical strength from the process of breaking down the food we eat. The more vital our food, the more it stimulates our own activity. Thus, Biodynamic farmers and gardeners aim for quality, and not only quantity. Chemical agriculture has developed short-cuts to quantity by adding soluble minerals to the soil. The plants take these up via water, thus by-passing their natural ability to seek from the soil what is needed for health, vitality and growth. The result is a deadened soil and artificially stimulated growth. Biodynamics grows food with a strong connection to a healthy, living soil.

Medicine for the Earth: Biodynamic Preparations
Rudolf Steiner pointed out that a new science of cosmic influences would have to replace old, instinctive wisdom and superstition. Out of his own insight, he introduced what are known as biodynamic preparations. Naturally occurring plant and animal materials are combined in specific recipes in certain seasons of the year and then placed in compost piles. These preparations bear concentrated forces within them and are used to organize the chaotic elements within the compost piles. When the process is complete, the resulting preparations are medicines for the Earth which draw new life forces from the cosmos. Two of the preparations are used directly in the field, one on the earth before planting, to stimulate soil life, and one on the leaves of growing plants to enhance their capacity to receive the light. Effects of the preparations have been verified scientifically.

The Farm as the Basic Unit of Agriculture
In his Agriculture course, Rudolf Steiner posed the ideal of the self-contained farm – that there should be just the right number of animals to provide manure for fertility, and these animals should, in turn, be fed from the farm. We can seek the essential gesture of such a farm also under other circumstances. It has to do with the preservation and recycling of the life-forces with which we are working. Vegetable waste, manure, leaves, food scraps, all contain precious vitality which can be held and put to use for building up the soil if they are handled wisely. Thus, composting is a key activity in Biodynamic work. The farm is also a teacher, and provides the educational opportunity to imitate nature’s wise self-sufficiency within a limited area. Some have also successfully created farms through the association of several parcels of non-contiguous land.

Economics Based on Knowledge of the Job
Steiner emphasized the absurdity of agricultural economics determined by people who have never actually raised crops or managed a farm. A new approach to this situation has been developed which brings about the association of producers and consumers for their mutual benefit. The Community Supported Agriculture(CSA) movement was born in the Biodynamic movement and is spreading rapidly. Gardens or farms gather around them a circle of supporters who agree in advance to meet the financial needs of the enterprise and its workers, and these supporters each receive a share of the produce as the season progresses. Thus consumers become connected with the real needs of the Earth, the farm and the Community; they rejoice in rich harvests, and remain faithful under adverse circumstances.
~~


Guiding the Ship of State


From Jim Houle
Redwood Valley

Amongst all the euphoria about our entering the Obama Era, I find the sardonic words of Alexander Cockburn somehow appropriate:

Successfully Guiding The Ship Of State During Its Sunset Cruise

Alexander Cockburn writes in Counterpunch 1/17/09 that/: “I’ve always been a fan of George Bush, on the simple grounds that the American empire needs taking down several notches and George Jr has been the right man for the job. On Bush’s Jr’s fitful watch Latin America edged nervously out of Uncle Sam’s shadow. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia boldly assert their independence and thumb their noses at Uncle Sam. Twenty years earlier the ‘strong leadership’ craved by Americans of all political stripes would have seen Chavez and Morales briskly toppled by the CIA and their local right-wing allies.”

“Barely a month went by in Bush Jr’s second term but that some liberal or left pundit would predict a US attack on Iran. It turns out that the Israeli high command made numerous requests for clearance for its planes to overfly Iraq on their way to Iran, but were adamantly nixed by George Jr. “

“Jr’s greatest single triumph in reducing America’s standing was his insistence that the assembly elections in Iraq go forward as planned, in December of 2005. Many seasoned counselors advised Bush to suspend the elections he’d pledged because they would lead to a majority Shi’ite government. Nevertheless, the 43rd president obstinately rejected these counsels, and the elections resulted in a mortal blow to U.S. objectives in Iraq and in the entire region.”

“Somewhere in late 2003, blaming everything on Bush became a national pastime and alibi. He took the hit for fifty years of venal failure by the city fathers of New Orleans and the legislators of Louisiana to protect their city. He’s even had to shoulder the blame for the Wall Street meltdown and the sub-prime crisis, for which Congressional legislators and overseers can far more justly be held responsible.”

“Blessed blunder dogged his every step: He made so half hearted an effort to ‘reform’ Social Security – the last defense of older Americans – that Wall Street, the instigator of the ‘reform’, remembered with profound nostalgia that Bill Clinton was well on his way to destroying Social Security until the Lewinsky scandal forced him to abort the mission. Bush passed his final White House years in morose seclusion, despised by all, obeyed by none – a welcome rebuke to the concept of ‘unitary power’ and an omnipotent executive.”

“Now Obama proclaims his mission of renewing America, always a sinister prospect. We’re heading back into the high country of moral uplift, and dispiriting talk of America’s ‘mission’.”
~
This is an excerpt from Obama-Watch.us Sixth Edition now available on the Internet:

www.OBAMA-WATCH.US
~~
Also see The Obameter


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