Book Review: The Lovely Bones


From RON CHARLES
Christian Science Monitor

Don’t start Lovely Bones unless you can finish it. The book begins with more horror than you could imagine, but closes with more beauty than you could hope for.

Still, there are reasons not to open this runaway bestseller. In the first chapter, 14-year-old Susie Salmon describes how she was enticed into a little cave by a neighbor on a snowy day. He stuffs her hat into her mouth. They both hear her mother calling her for dinner. He rapes her, cuts her throat, and then dismembers the body. It’s the most terrifying scene I’ve ever read.

For the next seven years, she describes how her family and friends – and even her murderer – cope with her absence. She’s in heaven, so she can see everything from up there. It sounds mawkish, like a ghastly version of “Beloved” for white suburbia, but Alice Sebold has done something miraculous here.

It’s no coincidence that the novel has been embraced during a period of high anxiety about child abductions – perhaps the only dread darker than our new fear of terrorism.

With her disarming wit and adolescent candor, Susie drags us behind those stories from Salt Lake City and Stanton, Calif., forcing us to consider the mechanics of rape and murder and grief in a way no news report ever could.

A few days after her death, Susie realizes that all the people she’s with now are experiencing their own versions of heaven, reflecting their simplest dreams and aspirations from earth.

“There were no teachers in the school,” she tells us about her paradise. “We never had to go inside except for art class for me and jazz for my roommate.

Sexual Attitudes In Agrarian Life


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

When a writer wants to sound astute, lofty words like agrarian come in handy. Nobody knows for sure what agrarian means. Makes what one says on the subject sound intelligent whether it really is or not. I use the word here to mean the whole farming and gardening way of life that wraps around the actual work of producing food. That would include, of course, sexual behavior. What follows is an excerpt from the Afterword of my recent (2007) book, The Mother of All Arts where I discuss, among other agrarian attitudes, whether people who farm and garden as a vital part of their lives look at human sexual behavior a little differently than people who don’t. Quote:

At one point in this book, I was moved to say—almost blurt out, if one can speak of writing as blurting—that all art is about sex. I made that statement in reaction to Mississippi John Hurt’s remark that all music was about human sexual relationships. [John Hurt was an early country blues singer and a real farmer whose music is now enjoying a resurgence among country music purists.]

The Final Word On Cell Phones


From JASON PETERS
Front Porch Republic

In the early days of FPR, and then again more recently, I was impertinent enough to write disparaging remarks about cell phones, which as everyone knows are utterly pernicious. On both occasions interlocutors expressed their disapproval by espousing the publicly sanctioned predictable sentiment: that technology is neutral, that it is only our use of a given thing that renders it good or bad, right or wrong, boonful or baneful.

As any pine board knows, this is nonsense. It’s time for the correct opinion to be more widely disseminated.

Plato, if I remember aright, was worried about the perfidy a certain new technology—we would recognize it by the name “book”—would perpetrate on memory. He was vexed by what the transition from an aural to a written culture would do to our capacity to bear things in mind.

Now I like books — even Bill Kauffman’s — and I’m going to side with them. The book is a technology I’m going to defend. But I also happen to sympathize with Plato, who, I believe, was right: by writing things down we cheat the memory. I would go so far as to say that a written record resembles all technology

Book Review: Wimpy Kid Dog Days


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From TERRY MILLER SHANNON
KidsReads.com

Oh, poor Greg Heffley! Somehow, he must manage to endure his summer vacation. You see, Greg knows his parents expect him to be outside enjoying the warm weather during the “three-month guilt trip” as he calls it, but he despises the outdoors. He only wants to spend those 90 precious days inside and in front of the television with the blinds drawn and the lights turned off — all the better to play one video game after another.

Greg reflects on how the first part of the summer, when he actually did venture outside, was not exactly stellar. His best friend, Rowley, invited him to go to the local country club swimming pool with his family every day. The first mishap was asking a new neighbor girl to go with them and then watching her find romance with the lifeguard. Moving onward while musing about some people’s lack of loyalty, Greg felt free to kvetch about the service at the country club, griping whenever the waiter forgot to put an umbrella in his drinks. Eventually, Rowley informed Greg that he was no longer invited to go to the pool with his family.

However, Greg’s escapades at the country club pool pale beside his misadventures at the town pool.

Suzanne Somers speaks out against the conventional cancer industry: mammograms, chemotherapy vs. alternative cures


From Natural News

As the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Knockout: Interviews with doctors who are curing cancer,” Suzanne Somers is making waves across the cancer industry. Her powerful, inspired message of informed hope is reaching millions of readers who are learning about the many safe, effective options for treating cancer that exist outside the realm of the conventional cancer industry (chemotherapy, surgery and radiation).

Recently, Suzanne Somers spoke with NaturalNews editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, to share the inspiration for her new book Knockout. “People are just starving for some new information… for other options, for hope in [treating] cancer,” she explained.

The full interview with Suzanne Somers is available as a downloadable MP3 file from NaturalNews.com: http://naturalnews.com/Index-Podcas…

In it, Somers explains why she’s so concerned about the current course of the cancer industry:

Book Review: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Annoying Argument Against Eating Meat


From JENNIFER REESE
Double X

Eating Animals

For weeks I’ve walked around debating Jonathan Safran Foer in my head, trying to put my finger on what it is that irritates me so deeply about his new book, Eating Animals [2]. Getting to the root of this animus has been particularly tough, because Eating Animals is an unwieldy hybrid of two different narratives—one I like very much, and one I find wrongheaded and staggeringly condescending.

So let’s start by disentangling the two. The central and admirable point of Eating Animals is to critique industrial agriculture and, as a case against factory farming, this book is both timely and stirring. Although Foer’s descriptions of agricultural atrocities may be familiar, he brings literary celebrity and a bracing moral urgency to the topic, arguing that our eating habits should reflect our ethics and that if we disapprove of filthy, overcrowded chicken factories, we should never buy another Perdue broiler. I agree.

But Foer does not stop there. Eating Animals is also a meditation—sometimes whimsical, sometimes strident, often personal—on animal husbandry and carnivory more generally. Here, Foer’s ignorance and biases are matched only by his arrogance.

Question #1: What if Al Gore’s Climate Change Conclusions Are Wrong?


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

I don’t trust Al Gore. He wrote Earth In The Balance, and then, after becoming Vice President, said and did nothing about the environment for eight long years. That doesn’t mean he is wrong. But now, working in his own investment firm, promoting the cap-and-trade scam, one must question motives and intent and be open to what other scientists are also saying before drawing one’s own personal conclusions and taking action…

Question #2: Who will make the Big Bucks from Climate Change?

Question #3: Who are the Climate Change Deniers?

Gore’s Guru Disagreed…

Calling him “a wonderful, visionary professor” who was “one of the first people in the academic community to sound the alarm on global warming,” Gore thought of Dr. Revelle as his mentor and referred to him frequently, relaying his experiences as a student in his book Earth in the Balance, published in 1992. Gore’s warmth for Dr. Revelle cooled, however, when it became clear that he had misunderstood his former professor: Although Dr. Revelle recognized potential harm from global warming, he also saw potential benefits and was by no means alarmed, as seen in this 1984 interview in Omni magazine:

The best current overview of peak oil, what it means, and what we should do



From GAIL TVERBERG
The Oil Drum

I decided to write another rather basic level article because there are so many people I meet who have heard a bit about the oil situation, and it is hard to point to one single article to give an overview of some of the current issues. Regular readers will find many repeats of graphs. There are some new ones, as well, from the Denver ASPO-USA conference. Because there is so much to tell, the story gets a little long.

We live in a finite world. It is clear that at some point, we will eventually start hitting limits—we won’t be able to extract as much oil, or we won’t be able to mine as much silver or platinum, or fresh-water aquifers that have built up over millions of years will run dry.

We are reaching limits in several areas, but the one I would like to talk about here is oil production. Oil is essential, because nearly all transportation depends on oil, and because a huge number of goods use oil in their manufacture (including textiles, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, asphalt, plastics, lubricating oils, and computers). Oil is also essential for our current agricultural system–growing food and transporting it to market.

Why people are concerned about a decline in oil production

Keep reading at The Oil Drum

See also Abiotic Oil
~~

Debt, equity, and a third thing that might work better – Seth Godin



From SETH GODIN

If your business needs money, it seems as though you have two choices:

  • Get a loan from a bank
  • Raise equity from an investor, giving up part of your company in exchange

Banks are everywhere, so the idea that they can loan us money seems obvious. And venture capitalists and the companies they fund are in the news all the time… and making a billion dollars sounds like fun.

Here’s the thing: for most businesses, most of the time, neither is a realistic option.

Banks aren’t in the business of taking risk. Which means that they make boring loans to boring companies for boring purposes. They do everything they can to be riskless. Which means you need to guarantee the loan with your house or with assets worth far more than the loan. Which means that a good idea is not a sufficiently good reason for a loan.

And equity? Well there are two problems. The first is that the number of investments that professional VCs can make is microscopically small compared to the number of businesses that want them. Go to Seth’s Blog for article
~~

The Fate of Cesar Chavez’s Dream

From MARC COOPER
TruthDig

[Having worked for Cesar Chavez from 1968 - 1972, I am saddened by the ineffectiveness of the union in subsequent years. -DS]

In the midst of a searing heat wave in the summer of 2005, three Mexican-born California farmworkers succumbed to the relentless sun within a few weeks of each other. Outraged local community groups, some with roots in but no longer affiliated with the legendary United Farm Workers union, organized a protest march and rally in the gritty town of Arvin, in California’s Central Valley.

At the last minute, a delegation from the UFW more or less commandeered the event from the original organizers. I was there reporting on the conditions in California’s fields (for a piece that would be published few weeks later in the L.A. Weekly) when I saw the UFW arrive. Accompanied by a caravan of shiny vans, with a high-tech mobile broadcast unit along from one of the union-run radio stations, UFW members in trademark red-and-black T-shirts disembarked from a couple of buses and joined the crowd assembled in a church patio.

The contrast couldn’t have been more stark.

Mendo Island Transition – New Grain-Share Project


From DOUG MOSEL, JOHN GRAMKE, and SOPHIA BATES
Mendo Island Transition

A Grain-Share for Mendocino County

What’s a Grain-Share?

• A community-supported way of producing grain locally
• Members buy a share in the annual grain harvest and receive a portion of the grains produced
• Member shares support the cost of growing, harvesting and distributing the grain
• Members share with the farmers the risk of poor or failed crops

How Will It Work?

• The farmers will prepare the fields, care for the soil, plant and harvest the crops, and distribute the grain shares to members
• Each member of the grain-share will buy one or more shares of the harvest in exchange for 100-120 pounds of grains. We anticipate that each share will cost $150-$200.
• Members will receive periodic updates on progress of the crops, expected harvest times, plans for distributing the grain shares, and suggestions for storing and using the grains.

Drawing Marathon Saturday 11/14/09 – Art Center Ukiah



Artists will work from 10 am Saturday till they just can’t go on! Public is invited to drop in any time during the marathon to cheer and support the artists while they work. View the drawing, painting, quilting, collage and more in progress.

Participating Artists

William Bacon ~ Oolah Boudreau-Taylor ~ Lisa Bregger ~ Josh Christensen ~ Tania Evans ~ Laura Fogg ~ Tom Johnson ~ Sandy Marshall ~ Nancy Horowitz ~ Elizabeth Raybee ~ Esther Siegel ~ Eva Strauss-Rosen ~ and more

~~

Why The Economic Markets Imploded – John Perkins on Democracy Now


From AMY GOODMAN
Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: John Perkins calls himself a former economic hit man. He has seen the signs of today’s financial meltdown before. The subprime mortgage fiasco, the collapse of the banking industry, the rising unemployment rate—these are all familiar to him.

Perkins was on the front lines of monitoring and helping create these very events that were once just confined to the third world. From ’71 to 1981, he worked for the international consulting firm Chas T. Main, where he was a self-described “economic hit man.” It was based in Boston.

He’s the author of the New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire. Well, he’s out with a new book. It’s called Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded—and What We Need to Do to Remake Them.

He joins me here in the firehouse studio.

Bozos on the Couch – What is ‘Good Therapy’ in a Time of Collapse?


From KATHY McMAHON, Psy.D.
Via Energy Bulletin

I read Sally Erickson’s post [The Culture of Pretend] and as a clinical psychologist, I gotta tell you, I found it sort of depressing. It wasn’t her criticism of psychotherapy. I understand her point about psychotherapy not healing a sick culture. James Hillman made the same point in “One Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and The World’s Getting Worse.” But golly, if we’re here anyway, shouldn’t we have some role as Peak Shrinks while the world as we know it collapses around us?

Psychotherapy wasn’t designed to heal a sick society, but proponents of psychotherapy have been calling our world a sick culture for quite a while. Harry Stacks Sullivan complained bitterly about it, when he was launching his own psychiatric practice during the Great Depression. The theory he developed talked a lot about the importance of honest, emotionally-connected relationships, and the lack of them in his time.

Therapists with a clear macro-view of the world realize that to be minimally effective, they are going to have to leave the therapy room and actually attempt to heal and repair the world, just as Sally has tried to do in her movie. But let’s talk about what relevant therapy is going to look like in the future.

I run a site, Peak Oil Blues, which is devoted to helping people face an energy-depleted future, full of climate change and a collapsing economy.

Farmers Market Ukiah Saturday 11/14/09

 


From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

The Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market is still going strong and this Saturday promises to be another clear, crisp morning — perfect produce gathering weather.  Please help get the word out that the Ukiah Saturday market is now year-round, 8:30 to noon as always, and is still going strong.  We had 24 vendors last week and expect as many or more this Saturday.

At this Saturday’s market you can expect a couple of new craft vendors including blown glass, locally assembled purses and wooden toys. Add that to our great selection of dolls, linens, body care, candles, glassware, knitted goods, toffee, etc, and your holiday buying can be done in one spot with unique, locally-produced gifts that keep your $ local.

We will also have the usual great range of local produce including the expected (weather permitting) return of Humboldt Bay oysters.  I also expect the return of Flowers By the Sea from Elk.  They promise to bring cabbage, three kinds of onions, four kinds of potatoes, apples, lettuce, arugula, spinach, radishes, Bok Choi, Swiss chard, beautiful broccoli, sugar snap peas, possibly a few late raspberries, and eggs.

See you at the market!
~~

Major Hasan and The Legacy of George W Bush


From THOM HARTMANN
Via Common Dreams

If Bill Clinton – or, presumably, Al Gore (or even Ralph Nader) – had been President in 2001, the Ft. Hood massacre almost certainly wouldn’t have happened. Because George W. Bush was president, it did. Here’s why it’s Bush’s fault:

One of the first lessons aspiring novelists and screenwriters learn is that the goodness of a hero is defined by a single quality – the evil of his opponent. From Superman’s Lex Luthor to Batman’s Joker to Indiana Jones’ Nazis to Luke Skywalker’s Darth Vader, for a hero to be perceived as larger than life, he must have a larger than life enemy.

If Frodo in “Lord of the Rings,” for example, hadn’t been forced to do battle with the supernatural powers of the Ring and its minions, his story would have merely been a boring travelogue. But with an army of supernaturally brilliant, evil, and powerful opponents, Frodo had the opportunity to display his extraordinary inner courage and resourcefulness, qualities he didn’t even realize he had until they were called forth by the peril of an awesome evil.

This is a lesson that was not lost on Karl Rove and George W. Bush. If they could recast George as the opponent of a power as great as the Ring, then the rather ordinary Dubya could become the extraordinary SuperGeorge, rising from his facileness to prevail over supernatural powers of evil.

Bill Clinton had a similar chance, but passed on it for the good of America and the world.

The Culture of Pretend: How Psychotherapy Keeps Our Communities Sick


From Sally Erickson
Via Energy Bulletin

Early in my experience as a psychotherapy client I received the therapeutic counsel that “Secrets keep you sick.” As scared as I felt when I identified and then disclosed secrets to my therapist, I saw the healing power that came as as a result. I worked hard in therapy. I realized how much material I had kept secret, even from myself. I learned the power and value of deep insight, as I recalled forgotten events, experiences, and emotions. I committed myself to make the most out of my therapy and that counsel about not keeping secrets proved to be of great personal value. I felt real relief at finally knowing myself and then at allowing someone else to know me to the bone.

I saw some smart and helpful therapists along the way. It is not a stretch to say that psychotherapy very likely saved my life. It definitely improved my life and my regard for myself. But, like most people who have been on either or both sides of “the couch,” I didn’t expect complete healing of everything. I accepted on-going self-doubt, neuroses, bouts of insecurity, and inner triggers and over-reactions as part of being human. I’ve kind of accepted, like Jack Nicholson does in one of my favorite movies, that this is “As Good As I Gets.”

Now, after twenty-five years of being a psychotherapist and some thirty-five years since I first entered therapy as a client, I’m questioning some basic assumptions about the institution of psychotherapy. And it is because of that counsel about not keeping secrets, that I have begun this questioning.

Psychotherapy can help people to acknowledge their own history of unmet needs, hurts, and trauma, and the resulting emotions. It also can help us to acknowledge the pain of friends and family who take the risk to share themselves deeply.

Our most important task – Vandana Shiva (video)


From VANDANA SHIVA
Via Transition Culture

The most important pressure people in the South face is the grabbing of their resources to feed a consumer machinery where the rich North doesn’t really benefit from that consumption, but it thinks it’s benefiting.

A Transition Town movement in the North, that reduces the pressure on the South, while maintaining solidarity on issues where the North can’t provide for itself — you can’t grow your coffee, you can’t grow your spices in Europe, you can’t grow your cotton — a Transition Town movement in the North needs to shrink its ecological footprint in areas where it is shrinkable, and it needs to generate more livelihood locally in production and the first candidate for this is fresh vegetables.

Fresh vegetables are the reason Third World people are losing their land. Fresh vegetables do not get exported by small peasants… giant companies take over the land, put green beans and lettuce onto flights, and ship it to the North.

So if you reduce your consumption of long distance flights for vegetables, and increase your local production ecologically, you are reducing the pressure on the South, you are making sure families don’t go hungry in the South.

That’s the kind of solidarity that helps.

Go to video at Transition Culture

See also Sharon Astyk’s Comments

[This is the reason the so-called "Green Revolution" is a disaster for the world. -DS]
~~

Avoiding Factory Farm Foods

 


 

From NICOLETTE HAHN NIMAN
Huntington Post Blogs

Livestock Rancher, Lawyer, and Author, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms

Most people share at least the following traits: they want to be healthy; they like animals; and they value clean air and water. Yet relatively few Americans connect those concerns with their food. As more people start making the link (especially if they’ve seen graphic video footage of industrial animal operations), many decide it’s time to stop eating foods from factory farms. This is a guide for doing just that.

I’ve been a vegetarian for more than twenty years. Unlike the fits and starts described in Jonathan Safran Foer’s autobiographical book Eating Animals, the day I decided to quit eating meat was the last time I ever did. I remember that dinner well. It was my mother’s tuna fish casserole, and actually quite tasty. But while I chose to stop eating meat, I never adopted the view that it was morally wrong, and, consequently, didn’t become one of those vegetarians who spends her spare time plumbing the depths of meat industry literature looking for bits of information to shock my friends and family into giving up meat.

Nine years ago, I had just started working as an environmental lawyer for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. when he approached me about leading a national campaign to reform the livestock and poultry sector. He said that industrialized animal production had become one of the nation’s worst polluters of water and air, and he wanted to aggressively attack the problem.

Spokane Considers Community Bill of Rights



Thousands of people voted to protect nine basic rights, ranging from the right of the environment to exist and flourish to the rights of residents to have a locally based economy and to determine the future of their neighborhoods.

[After two resounding and very satisfying defeats of outside Big Money interests, is this a good next step for Mendocino County? -DS]

From Mari Margil
Yes! Magazine

Of all the candidates, bills, and proposals on ballots around the country [last week], one of the most exciting is a proposition that didn’t pass.

In Spokane, Washington, despite intense opposition from business interests, a coalition of residents succeeded in bringing an innovative “Community Bill of Rights” to the ballot. Proposition 4 would have amended the city’s Home Rule Charter (akin to a local constitution) to recognize nine basic rights, ranging from the right of the environment to exist and flourish to the rights of residents to have a locally based economy and to determine the future of their neighborhoods.

A coalition of the city’s residents drafted the amendments after finding that they didn’t have the legal authority to make decisions about their own neighborhoods; the amendments were debated and fine-tuned in town hall meetings.

Good Calories, Bad Calories


From DON SANDERSON
Mendocino County

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. ~ Plato

This is a review of a book that Michael Pollen has described as “A vitally important book, destined to change the way we think about food.” Alternative medicine guru Andrew Weil, M.D., called it “A very important book.” Yet, it is an investigated report of intimidating depth, 609 pages including the index, that sadly I doubt most of you will ever read. I only try below to give you a softer tour of a few of the high points to tempt you. The book is Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, Anchor Books, 2007. Taubes not only describes the expected results of various diets, but at least as importantly I believe, recounts a pertinent allegory of our times, of how easily we can be manipulated to our and the Earth’s detriment.

Nearly thirty years ago, I was experiencing a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms that became more worrisome over time. So began a wandering from physician to physician, specialist to specialist, seeking relief. One night, after ten years or so and a dozen physicians, I was in terrible distress and Marlene somehow or another got me to an emergency facility.

Vegetarian’s Rebuttal to ‘The Carnivore’s Dilemma’


From TreeHugger

Last week’s NY Times featured an op-ed entitled “The Carnivore’s Dilemma“–an ostensibly enlightened response to the chorus of voices promulgating a vegetarian diet as a way to significantly reduce one’s emission of greenhouse gasses (not least amongst these voices is Michael Pollan, author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma”). Unlike “The Omnivore’s Delusion“–a fluff piece by the industrial agriculture lobby that defends the status quo–the author of the Times’ piece, Nicolette Hahn Niman, is no great defender of current industrial agricultural practices; she’s a rancher and advocate of “traditional”, grass-fed livestock production. Hahn Niman’s argument focuses on debunking the notion that vegetarianism is inherently the most beneficial way of eating for the environment.

While Hahn Niman has several valid points, her arguments often fall short of a sale. She frequently compares best-case scenario meat consumption and worst-case scenario vegetarianism. She states, “It could be, in fact, that a conscientious meat eater may have a more environmentally friendly diet than your average vegetarian.” First off, she doesn’t say that this theoretical conscientious carnivore will be more environmentally friendly, she merely uses the more hopeful “could” and “may”. Moreover, she never deigns to compare a conscientious meat eater to a conscientious vegetarian.

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