Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Good News: The future is about conserving and higher-quality lives

In Dave Smith on January 31, 2010 at 7:01 pm


From CHRIS MARTENSON
Post Carbon Institute (transcript, audio)
Address to the Commonwealth Club
Excerpts
Thanks to Mendo Conservers Club

Chris is a former Vice President of an international Fortune 300 company and used to be living in a large waterfront house until he came to the same realization that something isn’t quite right with society. About 5 years ago, Chris terminated his former high-paying, high-status position. He produced the hugely popular, on-line economics Crash Course. His children are now home-schooled, and the big house was sold in July of 2003 in preference for a small rental in rural western Massachusetts. The family grows a garden every year; preserves food, knows how to brew beer & wine, and raises chickens. Chris and Becca are making sure their family and community are becoming more self-sufficient and are sharing much of their wisdom with the online community on his website.

[...]  within our lifetime and that of our children, these disparate facts will coalesce into the greatest economic and physical challenge ever faced by our country, if not humanity.

It is also my opinion that if we do not develop a clear picture of the world we wish to create, the economic chaos and turbulence that we are now experiencing will prove to be the opening salvos in a long, disruptive period of adjustment.

It is my belief that we still have the time, resources, and know-how to create a brilliant future of our own design but that by putting our energies into sustaining the status quo we will default into a future shaped by disaster…

…we have everything we need right now to align our economics and resource use with reality. And we don’t need any new understandings to be developed. Brilliant people have been working at the margins for decades defining the issues and finding new ways of doing more with less.

What we lack is political will.

But there’s good news here too because more and more people are waking up all the time to the fact that humanity’s long experiment with “more” is about to end and an exciting new chapter is about to begin. Where people’s minds go, politics will eventually follow.

The really excellent news is that if we manage the transition elegantly we can actually improve things. A life with less pollution, more free time, meaningful jobs, more happiness, less stress and greater connection to each other as well as to nature are all within the realm of the possible. But only if we correctly diagnose the predicament and respond intelligently.

Our challenge then is not to find vast new resources to exploit, but to undertake the far more sophisticated and worthwhile task of using what we’ve got more wisely.
~

Q and A:

Q. How do we get off our addiction to oil?

A. We have to start telling ourselves different stories. When I go to Europe, I find that they lead a pretty comfortable lifestyle. And they exist on half the energy Americans do. We can do so much with conservation. That’s the first thing that should be out of our lips: not how do we get a better technology, not how do we find more oil really deep down, but how can we conserve? I believe we can cut our energy consumption in half which will buy us a lot of time which we can use for reorganizing ourselves. Electrified trains, reorganizing how we work and play so they are closer together, barge networks that move things on water, which is the most efficient way to do it. Get by with less.

The status quo is not going to be changed in Washington D.C. Women’s Rights, Labor Rights, the Environmental Movement, Civil Rights… all of these were brought kicking and screaming from the outside in.

We change our minds. We create a groundswell of what we want, and the politicians will follow. We will have to put enormous pressure on them… it will have to be an old social movement again.

I like what Sweden is doing. The 2020 plan. They’re going to be off imported oil by 2020 if they execute it. Efficiency standards, new building design codes, etc.

We also need a network of currencies. Currencies are commodities. We need other kinds of currencies that are not based on debt. Why does our government have to borrow money?

I purposefully cut my standard of living in half,  and I doubled my quality of life. Where we get our happiness and satisfaction is about the community we’ve got, the connections that we have… the ways we have fun is a lot less consumptive than a lot of families and we haven’t noticed it. We have absolutely high quality lives.

Complete presentation here
~~


Mendo Media

In Around Mendo Island on January 31, 2010 at 9:15 am

From MARK SCARAMELLA
The AVA

My uncle, the late 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, was an avid reader all his life. He described the county’s media during his tour in office in the 50s and 60s as “mostly duplicative and wishy-washy.” But Uncle Joe conceded that despite its pale timidity, the Mendo media were influential: he always said that without the endorsement of the Ukiah Daily Journal he would not have elected Fifth District Supervisor in 1952. “I ran four times before without the Journal’s endorsement,” he’d laugh. “And I lost every time.”

Joe Scaramella was subsequently re-elected four times and was responsible for a variety of major reforms of county government: an end to private budget meetings held in the offices of lumber company lawyers; a set of rules and procedures for the operations of the Board of Supervisors; establishment of a Civil Service Commission and orderly personnel management procedures; and an hour set aside before each meeting for a general hearing of the public. He implemented these steps in his first term in office — well before enactment of the Brown Act which at least theoretically forced public business out into the open for the public to admire. For his work on behalf of the public interest, Uncle Joe was denounced by the private beneficiaries of back door politics as a troublemaker.  “They fostered the notion that I was a troublemaker because I was critical, perhaps sometimes unnecessarily,” Scaramella remembered. “But, criticism in my judgment is an essential part of life. If nobody says anything negative, how can you expect things to improve?”

So how do the media in Mendocino County today stand up to Joe Scaramella’s invocation of negativity as change agent? A few pretty well — most not so good.

For criticism and negativity you’d have to concede that the Anderson Valley Advertiser wins rather easily, although there’s not much competition. The AVA, like it or not, can count numerous triumphs, from the clean-up of the County Office of Education and the return of the Courthouse law library to the public it was designed to serve in the 1990s to in-depth critical coverage of the Board of Supervisors and the legal system.

More Mendo Media at The AVA here
~~

New Network of Responsible Business Organizations Forms

In Around the web, Small Business Skills on January 31, 2010 at 9:13 am

From Better World Club

Turmoil at the US Chamber of Commerce Is The Backdrop

A number of Responsible Business Organizations came together on October 23rd to agree on principles for a network of responsible business organizations, the American Sustainable Business Council. The groups included New Voice of Business, Green America, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and B Corporation, among others…

The new network comes together against the backdrop of turmoil at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has announced a hardline stance against action on climate change, a policy that may have breached the Chamber’s internal rules as it was not passed by a board vote.

In September and October 2009, several companies quit the Chamber due to the Chamber’s stance on environmental impact reform, including Exelon Corp, PG&E Corp, PNM Resources, Apple Inc, and Mohawk Fine Paper. Nike, Inc decided to resign their board of directors position but to continue membership. Nike stated that they believe they can better influence policy by being part of the conversation.

Give credit where it’s due: The US Chamber of Commerce “Knows Drama” (our apologies to TNT). In a move calculated to simultaneously grandstand and stall for time (until another round of elections?), the Chamber attempted to force the Environmental Protection Agency to arrange a climate science hearing before any federal climate regulations were passed and in order to challenge the very notion of human-caused climate change.

In any case, regardless of their impact on society and whether they are warming or cooling the earth, the fossil fuels that are a substantial source of climate change are polluting. And products should be priced so that pollution and its impact on 3rd parties are discouraged.

The Chamber opposes the Waxman-Markey energy bill and is threatening to sue the EPA if it regulates greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that such a move would dramatically increase “the price of everything that uses energy.” more→

Take Action! WELL (Willits Econonomic Localization) Local Currrency Meeting 4pm Today Sunday 1/31/10

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 31, 2010 at 9:12 am

Map Little Lake Grange
291 School Street, Willits

Panel discussion will feature Bret Cooperrider from Ukiah Brewery discussing “Mendo Moola,” Derek Huntington, President of Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative speaking about his local buying card program, Cyndee Logan with Mendo Food Futures, commodity backed currency, and others. Sponsored by WELL (Willits Economic Localization). Please bring your own table wares in addition to potluck dish, and join us for this rousing discussion about viable local currency options for our community.
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We Need a Food Revolution: Michael Pollan with Oprah (VIDEO)

In Around the web on January 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

From PAULA CROSSFIELD
Civil Eats

On Wednesday, Michael Pollan appeared on Oprah to discuss the food system and the film Food, Inc. At the beginning of the program, entitled “Before You Grocery Shop Again: Food 101,” Oprah said that she saw Food, Inc., and it inspired her to host this discussion. “We all have to start paying more attention to what we’re putting in our bodies,” she said. “Do you know where you food really comes from? What’s been added, what’s been taken out? What goes down before they put a label on it?” Interspersed throughout the show were clips of the film, including the film’s introduction on the disconnect between our idea of food production and its reality; chicken production, featuring a farmer speaking out against the industry; and a family that can’t afford to eat real food and is forced to choose fast food.

Pollan explained how “the less we spend on food, the more we spend on healthcare,” siting statistics that show that in 1960, we spent 18% of our income on food and 5% on healthcare nationally, while we now spend 9% of our income on food and 17% on healthcare nationally. They got into the nitty gritty about the western diet and its pitfalls, and Oprah got a laugh when she exclaimed, “the low-fat kick made everybody fatter!”

When Oprah asks Pollan what he eats, and he speaks in favor of cooking: “I think cooking is really key because it’s the only way you’re going to take back control of your diet from the corporations who want to cook for us,” he said. “The fact is, so far corporations don’t cook that well. They tend to use too much salt, fat and sugar—much more than you would ever use at home.” The best line in the program came from Oprah: “We need a food revolution, because people want the corporations to cook for them because it all boils down to convenience.” Pollan agreed, saying that when you understand what it takes to make the food we are currently eating, “you lose your appetite.”

Article and video here
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Oco Time’s New Website

In Around Mendo Island on January 29, 2010 at 10:24 am

OcoTime.com

[What an honor to have this family, this beloved business, these employees, in our community! -DS]
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A Just Cause, Not a Just War

In Around the web on January 28, 2010 at 10:11 pm

From HOWARD ZINN
Via CommonDreams

Editor’s note: The following essay appeared in the December issue of The Progressive in 2001, and was reposted here at CommonDreams.org shortly after, just three months following the events of September 11th.  As Rudyard Kipling long ago and famously observed, you can recognize wisdom amidst crisis by locating those who ‘keep their heads when all about are losing theirs.’  Zinn’s work is too vast and too incalculable to paraphrase or compile, but when you read his Violence Doesn’t Work or Changing Obama’s Mindset you easily recognize the wisdom and integrity of a man who saw beyond the hysteria of a moment.  Howard Zinn, as Daniel Ellsberg has said, “was the best human being I’ve ever known. The best example of what a human can be, and can do with their life.” We could not agree more.

A Just Cause, Not a Just War (December, 2001)

I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present “war”: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.

And yet, voices across the political spectrum, including many on the left, have described this as a “just war.” One longtime advocate of peace, Richard Falk, wrote in The Nation that this is “the first truly just war since World War II.” Robert Kuttner, another consistent supporter of social justice, declared in The American Prospect that only people on the extreme left could believe this is not a just war.

I have puzzled over this. How can a war be truly just when it involves the daily killing of civilians, when it causes hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to leave their homes to escape the bombs, when it may not find those who planned the September 11 attacks, and when it will multiply the ranks of people who are angry enough at this country to become terrorists themselves? more→

How To Ruin Organic Farming

In Guest Posts on January 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

This is supposed to be good news. Our dear government has finally recognized that organic farmers are at least as deserving of bribery as all those sinful chemical farmers. After all, industrial agriculture gets $17.2 billion dollars in direct payments every year so surely a little bit of money ought also to go to holy, humble, horse and hoe husbandmen who also help keep the world from starvation. In fact, organic farmers now have their very own farm subsidy program under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to the tune of $50 million bucks. Ain’t that wonderful?

I will go as far out on the end of my bucket loader as I can and bet even money that this is the beginning of the end of organic farming. Government learned a long time ago that farmers, like everyone else, can be persuaded to do what the government wants done by handing out money. The result? Since government subsidy programs got serious about 70 years ago, the number of commercial farmers has plummeted from over 12 million to something less that one million. That’s how helpful the payments have been. Then along came small organic farmers who although unsubsidized for the most part, began doubling and tripling in number with each passing year. Whoa. Can’t have that, for heaven’s sake. That might mean that government subsidies don’t really help farmers. Maybe, perish the thought, government doesn’t know how to help farmers. Or, perish two thoughts, maybe government doesn’t really want to help farmers but just wants cheap food so the people can afford to buy more SUVs. Any trend toward farmers becoming successful without government subsidies has to be stopped. Uncle knows how to do that. Offer them money.

Full article here
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World-Class Absinthe from Ukiah’s Own Germain-Robin Distillery

In Around Mendo Island on January 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Ansley Coale, left, and Crispin Cain sip absinthe in Ukiah, Calif.

From ERIC ASIMOV
NYT
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

In the oceanic world of distillers and spirits distributors, 200 gallons is a drip of the faucet. But at the original Germain-Robin distillery, a tiny wooden cottage on the side of a mountain just west of this small city in Mendocino County, 200 gallons is the entire annual output of one of the best absinthes made in the United States.

To adherents of absinthe’s lurid, mythic glamour, the distillery’s Absinthe Superieure must seem disappointingly pure in its mellow complexity and lingering, subtle evocation of herbs and botanicals. It’s yet another triumph for Germain-Robin, whose brandies are recognized as among the best in the world, rivaling top Cognacs and Armagnacs.

But producing distinctive, world-class brandies and spirits does not guarantee financial success in the precarious world of microdistilling. Paradoxically, Germain-Robin owes its survival to the spirit that hip bartenders and cocktail aficionados love to hate: vodka. Making vodka would never have occurred to Ansley Coale back in 1981.

He was a frustrated history professor who owned 2,000 acres in the hills above Ukiah. One day, he picked up a hitchhiker, Hubert Germain-Robin, a young French tourist whose family had made Cognac for nine generations. Mr. Germain-Robin was concerned about the direction of the Cognac industry, which he saw losing its ancient hand-distilling methods as it became more corporate.

Together, they hatched the idea of making brandy using fine wine grapes like pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, rather than the mundane ugni blanc employed in Cognac. Mr. Germain-Robin found an old copper still abandoned in Cognac and shipped it over. Mr. Coale proposed housing it on his land, which he said he had bought in 1973 for $90 an acre. more→

New Report: Wal-Mart and Costco kill as many jobs as they create

In Around the web on January 27, 2010 at 10:11 pm


From AL NORMAN
Sprawl-Busters
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini

[This report MUST be included in any environmental impact reports produced by Costco and Wal-Mart for Ukiah and Mendocino County. -DS]

They don’t teach “Wal-Math” in American high schools, but here’s how it works: 1 job created – 1 job destroyed = 1 job.

Wal-Mart has never admitted the difference between gross jobs and net jobs. That’s why when Wal-Mart opened its only store in Chicago, Illinois on the west side, the retailer said: “This store will show what a great asset Wal-Mart can be to the community, as an employer and corporate citizen.” From Day One of its drive to locate stores in the Windy City, Wal-Mart based its case on jobs.

One of Wal-Mart’s most vocal apologists is Alderman Howard Brookins of the city’s 21st Ward on the South Side. “We need jobs, plain and simple,” the Alderman likes to repeat. Brookins has been so outspoken on the issue of Wal-Mart and jobs that The Chicago Tribune has referred to him as “the Alderman from Wal-Mart.”

But the jobs argument isn’t adding up in Chicago. A new study from Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has put the giant retailer on the economic defensive once again.

The study, The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An Evaluation of One Chicago Neighborhood’s Experience found that Wal-Mart’s opening in Chicago has produced a loss of 300 full-time jobs.

Researchers conclude that the probability of a local retailer going out of business during the study period was significantly higher for establishments close to Wal-Mart’s location. more→

Racial Insults and Quiet Bravery in 1960s Mississippi

In Books on January 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm

From JANET MASLIN
NYT

In “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s, one woman works especially tirelessly. She labors long into the night. She is exhausted. Her eyes are stinging, her fingers bloody and sore.

Is she ironing pleats? Scrubbing toilets? Polishing silver for an all-important meeting of the local bridge club? No way. She is Miss Skeeter Phelan, a white woman. And the white women of “The Help” don’t do those demeaning jobs. They don’t do much of anything else either.

But brave, tenacious Skeeter is different. So she is slaving away on a book that will blow the lid off the suffering endured by black maids in Jackson, Miss. Skeeter’s going to call the place “Niceville,” but she won’t make it sound nice. All of Jackson’s post-sorority girls from Ole Miss will be up in arms if Skeeter’s tell-all book sees the light of day.

The trouble on the pages of Skeeter’s book is nothing compared with the trouble Ms. Stockett’s real book risks getting into. Here is a debut novel by a Southern-born white author who renders black maids’ voices in thick, dated dialect. (“Law have mercy,” one says, when asked to cooperate with the book project. “I reckon I’m on do it.”) It’s a story that purports to value the maids’ lives while subordinating them to Skeeter and her writing ambitions. And it celebrates noblesse oblige so readily that Skeeter’s act of daring earns her a gift from a local black church congregation. “This one, this is for the white lady,” the Reverend of that church says. “You tell her we love her, like she’s our own family.”

A brief word now about Ms. Stockett: When she moved to New York City from Jackson, she came to understand how deeply ambivalent she felt about her roots. If a New Yorker told her that Jackson must be beautiful, she would say it was fraught with crime. But if a New Yorker spoke contemptuously about Jackson, Ms. Stockett would rise to its defense. more→

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction

In Around the web on January 26, 2010 at 8:20 pm


From CHRIS HEDGES
TruthDig

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

Much of the outrage expressed about the court’s ruling is the outrage of those who prefer this choreographed charade. As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of “inverted totalitarianism.”

Inverted totalitarianism represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry,” Wolin writes in “Democracy Incorporated.” Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.

Go to full article here
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Italian White Bean Soup Recipe

In Organic Food & Recipes on January 26, 2010 at 7:50 am


From Farmgirl Fare

Paula Butturini’s Zuppa di Fagioli / Italian White Bean Soup
(My version made about 9 cups)

Paula says:
Whenever it’s snowing, or simply dank and cold, my family likes eating sturdy soups to ward off mid-winter chills. This hearty Italian soup—which can be made with any dried white beans or a combination of varieties—warms our kitchen while it’s cooking and warms us through when we sit down to eat it.

You can speed the whole process by using a 20-oz can of good quality, canned, white or cranberry beans, and using only 3-4 cups of water. In that case, you simply skip Steps 1 and 3, and add the canned beans and water to the stockpot at the end of Step 2.

My notes:
This is the sort of recipe that invites improvisation and experimentation. You could make it ten different times and end up with ten different soups—all of them good. Just use what you have on hand and personalize the pot to suit your taste.

I tend to prefer thick (dare I say sludgy?) soups to brothy ones, so I reduced the amount of water, upped the veggies, and added extra beans (I used canned organic cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans).

For the pork portion, I used a small but meaty smoked ham hock from the locally raised hog we bought a while back and had butchered to our specifications (and which has sadly just about all been eaten up). Good call—it added a wonderful smoky flavor. After the soup finished simmering, I cut the meat from the bone and into small pieces, then stirred the ones I didn’t pop in my mouth back into the pot.

If you want to make a vegetarian version, you could toss in some fresh (or even dried) herbs to add more depth. It would probably also be very tasty made with good chicken stock instead of water.

Go to full article here
~~

Volume has Tripled on Credit Union Web Sites

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 26, 2010 at 7:41 am

From CREDIT UNION TIMES

Consumers are being driven in higher numbers to credit union Web sites as a result of the media and government focus on big bank practices, according to National Association For Credit Unions (NAFCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

NAFCU, for one, said this week its “CULookup” locator has recorded “a tripling of volume” since the first favored mention of CUs appeared on New York pundit Arianna Huffington’s “Move Your Money” Web site.

For days, both CUNA and NAFCU have promoted their online systems aimed at providing access and convenience for consumers to make the switch from banks to CUs.  NAFCU noted that the Huffinton Post first  listed  NAFCU’s “call to action”  on Jan. 6 with commentary by  Fred Becker, president/CEO of NAFCU.

“The groundswell of positive recognition of credit unions generated by the Huffington Post campaign is a welcome testament to the good work credit unions are doing as not-for-profit, member-focused institutions,” said Becker.   The tripling of traffic, he said, “clearly reflects the keen interest that we have generated among consumers for a solid alternative to banks.”

“It doesn’t do us any good to generate great media coverage concluding that credit unions are better than banks unless we make it very easy for consumers to find one they can join,” he added.

CUNA said also its “creditunions.coop -Quickfind” also has enjoyed high volume following a contributing article on CU advantages by CUNA President Dan Mica appearing also Jan. 6 on the Huffington Post Web site. “We’ve seen a 300% traffic jump,” said a CUNA spokesman noting also CUNA’s “Quickfind” link is comprehensive in covering state and federal CUs.

Separately, CUNA also said  Mica  this month cut a new YouTube video urging viewers to “Move their Money” to a CU.
~
See also Move Your Money Local
~~

Cars fed on corn, people fed on horseshit

In Around the web on January 25, 2010 at 7:23 am

From JOE BAGEANT
Deer Hunting With Jesus blog
Excerpts

[My response to LTE in today's UDJ: Editor: Yikes! After being savaged by no less than Tommie Wayne Kramer, now that old meanie David Anderson weighs in, just like we knew he would (UDJ 1/25/10), calling me "...an obnoxious braying ultra Left Progressive." I'm speechless! All I can say is "Hee Haw!!" -DS]

[...] Getting back to the undeserving “leeches” in our society sponging off the rest of us … I defy you to personally go out there, take names and photos, then send them to me. And I mean personally, not just some cut and paste propaganda off the web. I am not saying you will not find any. I’m just saying pack some extra shoe leather because such citizens represent a very small portion of the national population. I’ll see you in ten years when you are finished.

In testimony to the durability of certain strains of bull shit, Republicans and neocons are still successfully flogging the old welfare queen stuff, not to mention claiming that millions of illegal aliens getting free medical services…

To my mind, socialism is this:

A community and national philosophy, a commonly shared and not necessarily politicized way of life wherein the first priority is the fundamental well-being of the people (also known as “the masses,” a term you have probably been programmed to wrinkle your brow in ominous suspicion of.) “Fundamental well-being” means that everyone eats well, enjoys safe and adequate homes and a common standard of good health. It means that children are educated to do more than just the rote tasks that serve corporate empires. It means the man actually doing the work negotiates the value of his labor. It means that somewhere in the last third or quarter of his life, that working man, after enjoying his freedom, bacon and common work, and diligently sustaining his fellow men, is released from his toil. Released into security and peace and modest but guaranteed sustenance. He is free to nurse his aches, chase old women or take up Bourbon or Buddhism. Or both, as I have. Whatever he chooses as a free man in a free and benevolent socialist society.

Don’t let the ideologues, demagogues and half-assed spoiled little middle class jerks who call themselves socialists in this country fool you. Socialism has to do with man’s innate longing for justice, the undying heart within us, and all that is generous and good in that heart. That’s why so many have so willingly died for it, and will continue to do so in corners of the world we will never see or hear about because we are not allowed to, but which are never the less part of this world, and therefore affective of this world…

Full article here
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“If on-farm slaughter is done properly, it’s very, very humane…”

In Around the web on January 24, 2010 at 11:20 am


From The Atlantic Food Channel

The Need for Custom Slaughter
Excerpts

[...]To get around such backlogs, some small, sustainable producers have opened or purchased their own facilities. These include Will Harris’s White Oak Pastures, Georgia’s largest grass-fed beef producer; Sallie Calhoun, owner of Paicines Ranch, a grass-fed cattle operation in San Benito County, California; and Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia, made famous in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma

“It’s the best way to slaughter them because you don’t have to transport them,” Temple Grandin, the renowned author, livestock handling expert, and associate professor at Colorado State University, told me. Being trucked long distances and then herded shoulder-to-shoulder into confined areas with strange sights and noises is a huge stress on animals, she said. A cow killed on its home turf doesn’t know what hits it. “If on-farm slaughter is done properly, it’s very, very humane,” Grandin said…

I followed Winship for about 30 miles to a building off to the side of a winding gravel road. The unimposing structure, not much bigger than a two-car garage, was the headquarters for the company that had hired Winship, Rup’s Custom Cutting, a mom-and-pop business run by Rupert LaRock and his wife, Jeanne. The spotlessly clean facility is regularly inspected by health officials, so apart from the manner in which he had died, Léo would comply with all state and federal policies regarding the sale of meat. LaRock, a butcher for 41 of his 55 years, hoisted Léo’s quarters onto meat hooks connected to an overhead rail. He immediately started spraying them with a high-pressure hose, commenting on the size and high-quality of the carcass, but nonetheless grumbling, “Cows get so dirty this time of year.” I could detect no traces of filth.

Because of the slaughterhouse shortage, LaRock is run off his feet. He processes only one cow per day. “And it gets busier all the time,” he says. If you want Rup’s to butcher, wrap, and freeze one of your steers, you have to book an appointment three to four months in advance.

For those of us who want to eat local, sustainably raised meat, LaRock has some words of encouragement. “Every time there’s an E. coli scare, my phone starts ringing. There’s so much demand out there that they are going to have to open on-farm slaughter to commercial sale soon.”

Full article here
~
See also Yes I Care For Animals And Then I Eat Them- Gene Logsdon
~~

Comments on Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!

In Dave Smith on January 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

Original article here

From DAN HAMBURG

I like Mark’s ideas a lot and would like to steal many of them (even if he does run). His observations make one wonder, though, if county government is truly as totally incompetent as he portrays. For example, Sonoma County is looking at a $30 million deficit over the same period of time (18 months) that Mendocino is facing a $7 million deficit. Are Sonoma County officials also totally incompetent? A comparison to nearly all other jurisdictions (city, county, state and federal) would yield the same result; ie, the entire country is awash in red ink.

I don’t know why “monthly departmental reports” aren’t part of the Board’s agenda but I assume (maybe mistakenly) that the CEO is getting such reports. I’d think that these reports “identify cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting, etc.” If not, they certainly should. I’d like to see the Board more involved and wonder whether reverting back to old CAO system might not help in this regard.

In any case, there needs to be a formal system for keeping track of priority items. If the CEO is failing to do this, as Mark charges each week in his column, he should be replaced.

Enlisting local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget might be a good idea. It would depend on who the “local retirees” and “volunteers” were, their skills levels, and whether they had political axes to grind.

Of course, one of the main things that drives county costs is mandates from the state and federal government (which provides 53% of county revenues) and the demand for services from an increasingly impoverished population.

I agree with Mark that salary cuts are coming. The Board realizes it too. They are making some cuts and more will come in the near future.

I also agree that supervisors would be “responsible for the predictable financial and organizational meltdown that looms.” But they would share that responsibility with jurisdictions at higher levels that have beggared local government. Unfortunately counties and cities are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to allocation of funds in this country.

Every government budget in the state of California continues to be affected by the misbegotten Proposition 13. more→

Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University

In Around the web on January 24, 2010 at 11:14 am



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Why Nothing Gets Done In Mendocino County

In Around Mendo Island on January 22, 2010 at 8:37 am


From MARK SCARAMELLA
The AVA Online
Mendo’s Management Deficit 12/12/09
Excerpt

[...]The county has never required formal departmental reporting on a regular basis from their various departments. Such reporting is standard fare for ordinary businesses and should include preformatted reports addressing personnel/staffing, budget status, outside contracts, overtime, extra help, lost time, and the (brief) status of all special projects in the department. There are also needs to be specific identification of current and anticipated problems which each department is aware of with recommendations for how to deal with them. Problems which involve other departments should require the other department(s) to be on hand to resolve them at the time of each departmental presentation. Each department must also identify “cost drivers” — the primary factors driving their staffing levels and budgets. Each monthly report from a department must provide a summary and status of these cost drivers and what’s being done to control them.

As time passes, such reporting provides a basis for follow-up by comparing current months to previous months; objectives and assignments are accumulated with status reports each time they make presentations. The supervisors then gain an understanding of what their departments are doing, what the trends are, what affects their budgets, what can be done to handle them, and surprises will be minimized. This also provides a much better basis for annual budgeting and staffing decisions. Each department’s summaries should also include identification of which positions are funded by grants and special funds as separate from general fund positions.

Unfortunately, none of this kind of formal supervision — which you would expect from someone whose title is “supervisor” — is mentioned during political campaigns. Instead, what we get is standard, business as usual blather about water, zoning, “budget challenges,” why things can’t get done, “my position” on this or that, and the rest of the unattended, unaddressed “issues” over which the supervisors have very little control anyway.

Don’t expect anything different this year either. Candidates Hamburg, Roberts, Wells, Madrigal, Pinches, Orth, etc. can not and will not address the county’s urgent management deficit. Without such oversight, the county will continue to founder on the ever-steepening shoals of bloated, growing debt and looming revenue cuts…
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Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on January 22, 2010 at 8:28 am


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

If you’ve been reading Mark Scaramella’s insightful weekly reports on the County Board of Supervisors for the past few years in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or gone to any of their meetings, you realize how utterly ineffective the Supervisors and CEO have become. With county budget deficits growing by the day, it is now alarming. Isn’t there somebody around in the 5th District who has the history, experience, smarts and toughness to ask hard questions, demand real answers, and help make reasonable decisions?

How about Mark?

Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Enology from Fresno State University. Ten years as USAF officer in aircraft maintenance management, defense acquisition and contract management, and logistics engineering. 15 years in defense and commercial contract engineering management, computer programming and consulting, technical writing, and part-time community college instructor.

Nephew (and political student) of the late former 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, the best and most popular supervisor Mendocino County has ever had. Almost 20 years at the Anderson Valley Advertiser following county issues and politics in depth. 15 years as public rep on the Anderson Valley Fire Department Budget committee.

I asked him if he were a candidate for Supervisor in the 5th District what he would do about our looming problems…

Basic platform: Until basic management reporting and information systems are implemented and dealt with — such as monthly departmental budget reports developing a basis for follow-up, tracking and accountability over time, identifying cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting and current problems, projects and priorities, there’s no point trying to address the so-called “issues.”

The only real county issue at this point given the badly declining revenues and state gridlock is how to introduce staff and contracting efficiencies, particularly in general fund departments. Revenue increases can be considered, but they won’t help in the short term. more→

What Gets Measured Gets Done

In Around the web on January 22, 2010 at 8:20 am


From TOM PETERS
Business Management Guru

Both of my books, In Search of Excellence and A Passion for Excellence, are said to have placed renewed emphasis on the qualitative aspects of business — for example, on people, customer satisfaction, nurturing of unruly champions and managing by wandering around.

While that comment is true, I retain strong vestiges of my engineering training from 25 years ago and admit to being a closet quantifier. I think the soundest management advice I’ve heard is the old saw; “What gets measured gets done.”

My own organization applies this dictum rigorously. Our five-day executive seminars are organized around a series of “promises” which demand of our participants practical action in our areas: customers, innovation, people and leadership. We quantify wherever possible. Although some of the promises may seem wildly ambitious, each is thoroughly grounded in observed business practice, usually in the toughest markets.

In the customer arena, we believe that regular, quantitative measurement of customer satisfaction provides a much better lead indicator of future organizational health than does profitability or market share change. We suggest monthly measurement. Further, we urge participants to make the level of customer satisfaction the primary basis for incentive compensation and annual performance evaluation for virtually every person at every level in every function throughout the organization. We also urge every organizational unit in every function to develop key quality measures. Progress should be posted on charts in every work space, and a quantitative goal report should be the first item of business at every staff meeting, regardless of topic.

Next, we specify that all marketers should be out in the field, listening to customers, at least 50 percent of the time. Even manufacturing or operations managers should be out with customers, listening, at least 15 percent of the time. In a related vein, each senior manager should habitually call at least four customers (ultimate users, distributors or major franchisees) each week from a “top 100″ customer list kept in his, or her, upper desk drawer or wallet.

Complete article here
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Let’s Do It!

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 21, 2010 at 8:05 am


From digby
Hullabaloo Blog

Howie caught a statement about yesterday’s results that’s well worth reading:

Marcy Winograd, the progressive Democrat running against Blue Dog Jane Harman, could well be swept into office on the same kind of tide– although of a more enlightened variety– that helped Scott Brown. On the surface she blames overnight bank bailouts and mandated health insurance for what happened last night. Her perspective:

Unfortunately, the Republicans were able to craft Brown’s campaign as an insurgent struggle for the working people against ever-intrusive big government. All they had to do was point their finger at overnight bank bail-outs & mandated private health insurance, then scream about corporate welfare and attacks on individual freedoms. Too many Democrats stayed home, no longer energized by the possibility of change, only deflated by the politics of appeasement. We need the Democratic leadership to keep the keys to our treasury, rather than allow the banking, health insurance, and big pharmaceutical interests to raid it under the banner of the Democratic Party. If we stand for the people, the people will stand with us. Campaigns for progressive congressional challengers offer the greatest promise for re-energizing the base and mobilizing Democrats to vote in mid-term elections.

Washington faces the danger of drawing the wrong conclusions, of believing that the current Democratic Party leadership must abandon a progressive agenda for labor rights and immigration reform and, instead, bow to the most reactionary forces in American politics. Quite the contrary. The Party must redefine itself as the voice of working people, of immigrants, of women, of the populist. more→

Secret Handshakes and the Flight from Community

In Around the web on January 21, 2010 at 7:50 am

From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
Via Energy Bulletin

Last week’s Archdruid Report post on the costs of community called up an interesting simulacrum of community in one corner of the peak oil blogosphere, as Sharon Astyk, Rob Hopkins, and Dmitry Orlov all joined in the conversation with blog posts in response. This didn’t exactly come as an unbearable surprise; the role of community in the deindustrial world of the imminent future has been a hot-button issue in the peak oil scene since before there was a peak oil scene, and a fair percentage of the posts here that have fielded more than the usual flurry of comments have been on that confused and contested subject.

Still, it interests me that so much of the discussion, as so often happens, went on as though history has nothing to teach us. One example out of many, and by no means the worst, is Astyk’s suggestion that the reason community has fallen apart in recent decades is that so many people work so hard, and are too tired to get involved. This echoes a common plaint, but the fact remains that a century ago most Americans worked 50, 60, or more hours a week as a matter of course, and most of those hours were spent at hard physical labor. Somehow that didn’t keep a dizzying array of community groups from flourishing to an extent I think few people remember today.

I want to focus here on one particular set of those community groups, partly because they’re tolerably well documented, partly because they offer some intriguing possibilities for an age of economic contraction and social fragmentation, and partly because I happen to know a fair amount about them, and not just from my usual eccentric historical reading. In fact, most Monday evenings you’ll find me helping to preserve one of the few survivals from an all-but-forgotten world, as I don one of the few neckties I own and head over to the old brick Masonic lodge here in Cumberland.

Complete article here
~
See also Community in Time and Space – Sharon Astyk
~~

The Security Scam

In Around the web on January 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm

From MICHAEL FOLEY
The Next American Revolution Blog
Willits

From the moment the news of Haiti’s devastating earthquake hit the White House, the U.S. has been committed to a military presence there. Yesterday, Haitian President Rene Preval officially granted the U.S. control of the Port au Prince airport, but the U.S. military has been in control from Day Two. Complaints have been coming in from organizations as well-known as Doctors Without Borders that the military has obstructed the flow of aid, turning back one important shipment three times over the last few days. This morning Amy Goodman’s report from Haiti on Democracy Now! showed U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne clutching their rifles and machine guns while directing crowds at Port au Prince’s General Hospital, unbidden by the medical staff there. Across the street was the flattened pharmacy, where medical supplies and the bodies of pharmacists, doctors and patients were buried. No soldier lent his hands to uncover the bodies or search for supplies. After all, they had their hands full.

There is no “security crisis” in Haiti. At least that is the testimony of the doctors, volunteers and those journalists who venture into the so-called red zones established by the military. According to Dr. Evan Lyon, the American surgeon working at the General Hospital, there are clinics with ten or twenty doctors and ten patients in so-called “secure” areas, but a thousand wait for surgery at General Hospital, which has only enough supplies to continue to operate for another 12 hours. Maybe the 82nd Airborne, now that they’ve arrived, will help get those supplies downtown. But they’ll have to put their guns down first.

The U.S. reaction to the crisis in Haiti has been likened to the Bush administration’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Fear the victims. Fear the black face in a sea of crisis. But the focus on “security” and reliance on a military presence in the face of untold human suffering bespeaks a deeper malady. more→

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are… cows, pigs, and chickens?

In Climate Change Series on January 20, 2010 at 7:21 am


From ROBERT GOODLAND AND JEFF ANHANG
Worldwatch Institute
Thanks to RON EPSTEIN
Ukiah

Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil fuels top the list. Oil, natural gas, and especially coal are indeed major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). But we believe that the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of GHGs, and in fact account for at least half of all human-caused GHGs. If this argument is right, it implies that replacing livestock products with better alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. In fact, this approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations—and thus on the rate the climate is warming—than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

Complete article available here
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George Will Displays Core GOP Value: Cheap, Disposable Labor

In Around the web on January 20, 2010 at 7:19 am

From Crooks and Liars

I’ve been writing for years that the core Republican value boils down to this: cheap, disposable labor.

They want the workforce battered to the point where they will be grateful for any kind of work, no matter how badly paid or how poor the working conditions – and they want you stripped of any rights in the workplace that might slow them down while making money.

I was reminded of that this basic truth this morning when I read George Will’s latest column:

Today’s unemployment rate is 10 percent; the underemployment rate—the unemployed, plus those employed part time, plus those discouraged persons who have stopped looking for jobs—is 17.3 percent. Almost 40 percent of the unemployed have been so for seven months or more—which is not surprising: Congress continues to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, apparently oblivious to the truth that when you subsidize something you get more of it.

He’s not talking about the Wall Street Bankers who got us into this mess, of course. He’s chiding people who are on unemployment for not taking anything they can get, under any conditions.

He bemoans the fact that I can still pay my rent.

And here, I’ve been thanking the lucky stars that had me accept a job across the bridge in New Jersey, where the reasonable benefits are generous enough to still cover my rent and food. (I suppose I could get find a job doing manual labor at minimum wage somewhere, but the medical bills wouldn’t be worth it.)

more→

Useful work versus useless toil

In Around the web on January 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm


From KURT COBB
Resource Insights Blog

It was the contention of William Morris, the great progenitor of the modern arts and crafts movement and the historic preservation movement, that the signal qualities of industrial society are waste and useless toil. One hundred and twenty-six years after Morris gave a lecture entitled “Useful work versus useless toil” to a group of workingmen in London, little has changed except perhaps that the amount of waste and useless toil has grown exponentially.

The waste, of course, is obvious: wasteful consumption (tied neither to survival nor beauty but rather status); planned obsolescence as an industrial principle (which helps create repeat sales as well as ever higher mountains in our landfills); and profligate energy use which exhausts finite sources of energy such as fossil fuels.

Useless toil refers to all those tasks which either produce nothing of value for society (even if they enrich some individuals) or which actually detract from the overall public good. Morris had a nascent environmental awareness and decried the destruction of the landscape caused by industrialism in England.

Today, some of Morris’s themes may seem passé. He champions shorter working hours so that people can not only rest but also have adequate leisure to enjoy their lives. He thinks work ought to be on the whole pleasurable, that human beings want to work and make things of value and beauty. And, he wants working conditions to be not merely tolerable, but actually pleasant and enticing. more→

Let it rain……

In Around Mendo Island on January 19, 2010 at 7:07 am

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Ukiah Proposal: Trash In, Cash Out

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on January 18, 2010 at 7:25 pm

From IKE HEINZ
Ukiah

Proposal for Biogas Capital Improvement Project

Thanks for the attention to the subject of energy from biogas. Following is a brief explanation of using landfill gas (LFG) and biogas from local organic waste.

The 2007 feasibility report projects LFG from the Ukiah landfill to be 300 cubic feet per minute for the next ten years.  It will slowly decrease to 200 cubic feet by 2023. We contacted national experts who proposed biomass gasification for increasing power potentials.  Gasification of biomass is not burning at all nor producing any more methane gas, rather is it an instant hot smoke gas extraction. All emitted gasses are completely absorbed, filtered and compressed. The process of gasification is automatic, extracting first water vapors then volatile gasses with heat. Using the exhaust heat from the electric turbine generators, gasification has no smokestacks and a relatively small physical footprint. In a closed loop cycle, no new additional pollution is created. The gasified material is left as agrichar, a clean soil amendment. The process purifies the carbon by heat. It qualifies for carbon credits. Distilled hot water is another byproduct.

Since LFG is bound to its location, a good site for a gasification plant is at the old dump on the existing concrete slab.  The LFG can then be mixed with the biogas as additional fuel. Biomass material for gasification is all locally available; it includes: biosolids, tree trimmings, agricultural and yard waste (currently burned.) At the moment, Ukiah pays for transporting its biosolids from the waste water treatment plant to “Redwood” in Marin for landfill. Cost and pollution can be redirected. more→

Wall Street’s Dirty Little Secret

In Around the web on January 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm

From The Daily Beast

“Awarding bankers bonuses is tantamount to paying them for not being certified cretins.”

The biggest problem with 2009’s megabonuses is economic, not moral. Tunku Varadarajan on how Wall Street made money soaking savers and taxpayers, rather than adding value.

Bankers do not deserve bonuses this year, at least not in the Western world. And I don’t say this from atop some moral or aesthetic or populist high horse. Instead, my arguments are mostly economic.

Banks are making money because they’re borrowing at ridiculously low rates from the public and central banks and then investing in higher-yielding government securities.

The banks receive deposits from savers (on which they pay negligible interest) and then leverage it several times by borrowing from other banks, or the central bank. LIBOR (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) as well as the Fed’s discount window are below 0.5 percent. This is the cost of money to banks. The loot is then invested in government bonds, which are yielding anywhere from 3.75 percent to 4.75 percent in the U.S. and Europe.

This interest margin may not sound like much, but when applied to the trillions of dollars that make up various banks’ balance sheets, it produces profits in tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. For a well-leveraged bank, this is a safe “carry” trade as long as the value of government securities does not collapse. In fact, a bank would have to be incredibly inept not to make money in these circumstances. Awarding bankers bonuses is tantamount to paying them for not being certified cretins.

Go to article
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Mendo Slaughterhouse? Kill ‘em Where You Raise ‘em! (Updated)

In Around the web, Dave Smith, Garden Farm Skills on January 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

From Grist

Whole Foods’ new mobile slaughterhouses

Massachusetts poultry farmer Jennifer Hashley has a problem. From the moment she started raising pastured chickens outside Concord, Mass. in 2002, there was, as she put it “nowhere to go to get them processed.” While she had the option of slaughtering her chickens in her own backyard, Hashley knew that selling her chickens would be easier if she used a licensed slaughterhouse. Nor is she alone in her troubles. Despite growing demand for local, pasture-raised chickens, small poultry producers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and even New York can’t or won’t expand for lack of processing capacity…  Full article here
~
Update: [As a carnivore, I support our small, local, pastoral farmers. Our weekend lamb-shank soup/stew (simmered for 4 hours with local organic veggies), from Owen Family Farm in Hopland, was superb! (They'll raise lamb, goat, or Black Angus beef for you - 707-744-1615.) Other than our much-respected vegan/vegetarian community, previous opposition centered around outside investors imposing a large facility on our population center to serve distant markets. I believe that the healthiest, sustainable farms are small, "garden farms" that include grass-fed livestock, with agricultural practices such as Biodynamics. Whether using mobile units for chickens, or more permanent structures for larger animals, sustainable community principles for local meat-processing include: humane slaughter, small-scale, location on the ranches or ranch-lands outside population centers, environmentally-friendly, wastes composted, locally-owned. -DS]

See also: Save The Planet: Eat More Beef

…and Favorite Veggie Burger recipes
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What’s Killing The Honeybees?

In Books on January 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

From California Literary Review
Thanks to Lisa Bregger
Ukiah

Rowan Jacobsen is an environmental writer living in Vermont. His most recent book is Fruitless Fall, an investigation into the collapse of honeybee colonies throughout the world. Below is Rowan’s interview with the California Literary Review.

For those of us who weren’t paying close attention during biology class, would you give us an overview of flowers, fruit and the role of bees?

Flowers are the sexual organs of plants. Most contain both pollen (plant sperm) and ovaries. For a plant to reproduce, it needs to somehow transfer its pollen to the ovaries of another member of the same species. For hundreds of millions of years, plants used the wind to do this. It’s like Internet spam: send hundreds of millions of flyweight grains of pollen in all directions, hoping that just one or two finds its way by chance to the right ovary. Many plants, such as pine and birch trees and the dreaded ragweed, still use wind pollination.

But about a hundred million years ago, one class of plants hit upon a revolutionary idea: Why not use insects to transport the pollen instead of wind? That way, you can make much bigger, heavier, more sophisticated pollen packages. And you can make far fewer of them if you can rely on the insects to travel more or less directly to another flower of your species… Full article here
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Local Stock Exchanges and National Stimulus

In Small Business Skills on January 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm

From MICHAEL SHUMAN
Small-Mart.org
Thanks to Michael Foley
Willits

Since the global financial system unraveled in 2008, U.S. policymakers have struggled heroically to improve the performance and oversight of global banks and investment firms. But these actions have been largely unresponsive to the growing number of Americans who would like to remove their hard-earned retirement savings from these high financial fliers altogether and invest their nest eggs in their community. Might it be time for policymakers to consider the potential stimulus payoffs from nurturing micro-equity investments?

One reason for growing public interest in local investment is the spread of “buy local” campaigns, a movement that is more than just local hucksterism. Consider the title of an article in a recent issue of Time: “Buying Local: How It Boosts the Economy.” Cutting-edge economic developers (except at the national level) increasingly recognize is the importance of strengthening locally owned, small businesses.

Growing evidence suggests that every dollar spent at a locally owned business generates two to four times more economic benefit—measured in income, wealth, jobs, and tax revenue—than a dollar spent at a globally owned business. That is because locally owned businesses spend much more of their money locally and thereby pump up the so-called economic multiplier. Other studies suggest that local businesses are critical to tourism, walkable communities, entrepreneurship, social equality, civil society, charitable giving, revitalized downtowns, and even political participation. more→

No on A But Yes on CostCo?

In BS Buzzer, James Houle on January 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm

From JIM HOULE
Redwood Valley

Many of us fought against Measure A because we believed that Ukiah had no need for out-of-county retailers stealing business from our local merchants. Yet both the City Council and the County BOS are moving ahead trying to entice CostCo to locate here either as a part of the Airport Blvd. shopping area or as a special use permit on the old Masonite Site.

Many of those who seemed so militant last fall about keeping out the DDR complex now seem to be showing their true colors: they are really well brain-washed Super-Consumers trained in front of TV screen since infancy. They like the idea of a local CostCo in town. They love to push those oversized carts around a store empty of sales help and with an unpredictable inventory. They really don’t give a shit about the fate of our local merchants nor about the seedy look of empty stores on State Street that are the legacy of our previous run-ins with the Bog Box Monster. Yet, but yet, maybe they are actually the Realists: they know Little Ukiah can’t keep fighting the Big Capitalists indefinitely and are willing to make this one compromise so they can frolic along the broad aisles of a Ukiah CostCo and stand for 20 minutes at the checkout.

But how will CostCo impact local business? Who will be hit first? Probably the food stores: The Ukiah Valley cannot support our three big supermarkets plus both CostCo and the planned Walmart food store. Already struggling Raleys will likely go under first and those living in the north end of town without cars will be miles from a food store. more→

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 1/16/10

In Dave Smith on January 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Neosho, Missouri

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

Farmers’ Market Fans,

Greetings.  Please come out Saturday to enjoy the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market debut of musician John Craigie.  (More at http://www.johncraigiemusic.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/johncraigie )

John John reports that gopher activity has been spotted in the valley.  You can take action to protect your summer crops now by planting Gopher Purge, which John happens to have, in gallons pots and six packs.

When you get to the market Saturday (remember that we are starting at 9:30) you will notice that we are starting to ramp back up from the holidays, as describe below in the Market Message column slated to appear in this Friday’s Ukiah Daily Journal.  Here it is:

Food Not Drugs

Growth is not inherently better any more than turning up the volume makes bad music better.  Just because a farm is filling bins and bushels with food does not mean the food is fit to eat.  Remember, cancer is a growth-unregulated and uncontrolled growth.  Does anyone what to see a growth in the number of wars?  The number of abortions?  The number of high school dropouts?

Through modern technology, we have learned to produce bins and bushels without nutrient content.  It’s like giving tons of high school diplomas without knowing the information. more→

Action Center: Demonstrations at Geo-Engineering Scientists Conference in San Diego

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 14, 2010 at 11:16 pm

From ROSALIND PETERSON
Redwood Valley

Geo-Engineering (Wikipedia) is the artificial modification of Earth’s climate systems. Geo-Engineering projects range from DECLASSIFIED experimentation (like iron particles being dumped into the oceans to attract algae, which sequesters carbon and, theoretically, slows global warming) to HIGHLY CLASSIFIED experimentation like AEROSOL SPRAYING (chemical spraying). The two most quickly advancing Geo-Engineering philosophies are carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM).

ALL Activists, Demonstrators Meet at (at closest public property- to be announced) San Diego Convention Center at 7:30 AM on Saturday, February 20th. Scientists and others will be meeting for their conference entitled “Can Geoengineering save us from Global Warming”. Bring signs, flyers and media connections. Groups are now co-ordinating from several nearby states. News has been that reports of this are spreading far and wide. Keep it LEGAL, keep it safe, STAY ON PUBLIC PROPERTY. When you arrive, others will be able to help guide you.

You can obtain the information by going to www.geoengineeringwatch.org
~~

The Costs and Problems of Community (Update 2)

In Around the web on January 14, 2010 at 9:16 am

From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
Via Energy Bulletin
[Sharon Astyk's response below]

The point to be made in this week’s post is a bit complex, and I hope that my readers will have the patience to read through an apparently unrelated story that leads to it. A few years back, I researched and wrote a book on the UFO phenomenon, somewhat unimaginatively titled The UFO Phenomenon. It was an intriguing project, not least because the acronym “UFO” has all but lost its original meaning – something seen in the sky that the witnesses don’t happen to be able to identify – and become a strange attractor for exotic belief systems that fuse the modern myth of infinite progress with archaic religious visions of immanent evil and apocalyptic renewal.

Behind the myths, though, I noted the intriguing fact that the “alien spacecraft” of each decade had quite a bit in common with whatever secret aerospace projects the US military was testing at that time. From the round silver shapes of the late 1940s, when high-altitude balloons were the last word in strategic reconnaissance, to the black triangles of the early 1980s, when stealth planes were new and highly secret, the parallels were remarkable, as was the involvement of the US military in fostering the UFO furore. While plenty of things fed into the emergence of the UFO mythology, it seems pretty clear that this mythology was used repeatedly for the kind of strategic deception the Allies used to bamboozle the Germans before D-Day, to provide cover for secret aerospace projects in the US and elsewhere, not to mention plenty of less exotic situations where it was inconvenient to talk about who was flying what in whose airspace.

more→

Michelle Obama’s Food Rules

In Around the web on January 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm

From OBAMA FOODORAMA

[Draft Michelle Obama For President 2012. C'mon, really! -DS]

Making sense of food, from processed sugar to homegrown sweet potatoes…

Over the last year, First Lady Michelle Obama has told the world a lot about her personal and family food guidelines, during the course of many interviews, speeches, and remarks, and while planting and harvesting the White House Kitchen Garden. Bestselling author Michael Pollan has just published Food Rules, a tome on eating boundaries, and there’s much overlap with Mrs. Obama’s platform. Both sets of rules embroider and expand on Pollan’s now-famous mantra from his earlier book, In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And both sets of food rules highlight gustatory pleasure, too. Mrs. Obama does not yet have her own book on the topic, so herewith, a collection of her food rules. Taken as a whole, they make perfect sense, especially because Mrs. Obama has said that “being First Lady is like the icing on the cake of helping other people.”

Michelle Obama’s Food Rules

1. No child in the United States of America should ever go to bed hungry, and no family in this country should have to worry that they won’t have food on the table.

2. We need to educate kids about the need for healthy eating.

3. We eat dinner together as a family.

4. Vegetables and fruits are not the enemy; it is the power to a good future.

more→

Loco Food

In Around the web on January 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Out here in the flatland corn forests of the Midwest, we boast that we have the localest food in the country. Some of it never travels farther than 200 feet, the average distance between barn and house.

Souse is one such delicacy. If you don’t know about souse you are a mere fledgling in the world of local foods. If you do know about it, you may refer to it more often as loco food. You can find out about it in cookbooks, but I can save you the time. Souse is the inedible parts of a hog cooked to a gelatinous mass that has the consistency and taste of Vaseline washed in vinegar. If it is not a local food where you live, count your blessings.

Blood pudding is another loco food still made in our county. Some cookbooks have recipes for it but none of them tell the whole story. Frontier farmers eking out a living before giant tractors were discovered in the primeval forests invented this savory dish. It consists of everything in or on a razorback hog that can’t be eaten until one is near starvation. After surviving on the stuff in one’s youth, old timers keep forcing it on younger generations out of loyalty to the past. Younger generations, worried about the future of mankind, have been known to make blood pudding disappear on the way from barn to the kitchen. It goes from barn to doghouse, ten feet away, making it the grand champion of all local foods.

If you are a locavore, be thankful you don’t live in Kentucky. A local dish where my wife grew up is called Kentucky oysters…

Complete article at The Contrary Farmer
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Redefining Prosperity: Energy Descent and Community Resilience

In Around the web on January 13, 2010 at 7:49 am


Report of the Bloomington, Indiana Peak Oil Task Force
Via Energy Bulletin

[Where's OUR Task Force?! -DS]

On December 5, 2007, the Bloomington Common Council passed Resolution 07-16: Establishing a Bloomington Peak Oil Task Force (PDF 12.21 KB). Sponsored by Councilmember Dave Rollo, the purpose of the Task Force is to assess Bloomington’s vulnerability to changing energy markets and to develop researched and prudent strategies to protect our community.

The City of Bloomington first formally recognized that the City must begin preparing for peak oil in July 2006, with the adoption of Resolution 06-07: Recognizing the Peak of World Petroleum Production (PDF 10.19 KB). With the support of the Mayor, the Environmental Commission and the Commission on Sustainability, the Task Force shifts this recognition to action.

It is widely acknowledged that the global supply of petroleum is finite and that production will peak at the mid-point of extraction and decline thereafter. With most forecasts locating peak production within the next 14 years and a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy advising that communities implement mitigation strategies at least 15-20 years in advance of peak oil to offset and largely avoid the implications of a liquid fuels shortage, Rollo states that now is the time to start planning for a community shift away from reliance on petroleum and other fossil fuels. more→

Bill Maher: You don’t have to stay in a loveless, abusive relationship with your big bank. Move your money.

In Around the web on January 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm

From BILL MAHER
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Bringing Down The Monster

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

…So to change “the system” it is not sufficient to persuade a majority of the people who work within it (up and down the hierarchy) that a change is needed and appropriate. Like Frankenstein’s monster, “the system” has enormous inertia when you want it to start moving somewhere new, and enormous momentum when you want to stop it or shift its direction. As Clay Christensen has written, the larger a corporation gets, the less capable it becomes of any innovation whatsoever, and the same is true for other types of institution.

So what can be done about it? How do we “bring down the monster” if persuasion and democratic means, even when available, will inevitably be ineffective? If changing “them” isn’t enough, how do we change “it”?

Perhaps the first thing we need to do is to get past the “pathetic fallacy” and realize that this “monster” has no human attributes. It is not capable of feeling or morality or judgement…

Complete article here
~
See also Jack London’s Credo and Bioregionalism
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Save the Internet from Corporate Control: You have until Thursday at midnight…

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm

From MEGAN TADY
Huffington Post
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

How much have you already used the Internet today?

We don’t think twice about how much we rely on the Internet. Imagine not being able to map directions on Google or check the weather online. A business that doesn’t have a Web site? Forgettable. Or rather, unsearchable. Remember when we didn’t have e-mail? Would you want to go back to those Dark Ages? Me neither.

The Internet is in the very fabric of how we communicate, learn, shop, conduct business, organize, innovate and engage. If we lost it, we’d be lost.

But did you know that we’re at risk of losing the Internet as we know it? Millions of Americans don’t know that a battle over the future of the Internet is being played out right now in Washington. How it ends will have deep repercussions for decades to come.

On one side are public interest and consumer groups, small businesses, Internet entrepreneurs, librarians, civil libertarians and civil rights groups who want to preserve the Internet as it is – the last remaining open communications platform where anyone with access and a computer can create and consume online content.

Right now a film student in Idaho can upload a video the same way a Hollywood movie studio can. more→

The Most Idiotic Thing I’ve Read This Decade

In Around the web on January 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

From JILL RICHARDSON
Daily Kos
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Well, I’ve found a frontrunner for “The Stupidest Article of the Decade” award. Oh, I’m sure it won’t win overall because we’ve got most of 10 years to go and lots of rightwing publications all competing for the title, but allow me to share with you the stupid article that was published in The Atlantic this week…

It’s a piece slamming school gardens and Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard specifically. They begin by painting a picture of a migrant laborer coming to the U.S. to give their child a better life, enrolling them in a wonderful American school, only to have the kid waste his or her school day picking vegetables. They go on to say:

The cruel trick has been pulled on this benighted child by an agglomeration of foodies and educational reformers who are propelled by a vacuous if well-meaning ideology that is responsible for robbing an increasing number of American schoolchildren of hours they might other wise have spent reading important books or learning higher math (attaining the cultural achievements, in other words, that have lifted uncounted generations of human beings out of the desperate daily scrabble to wrest sustenance from dirt).

I’m sorry but you cannot get it any more wrong than that. I’ve been gardening with my boyfriend’s kids for a few months now and the amount of science (not to mention language, history, and math) they have learned from our adventures in the garden is unbelievable. more→

Costco Stupidity

In Around the web on January 11, 2010 at 10:55 am

From CHRIS MARTINSON
ChrisMartinson.com
Excerpt

Do we really want to default into a future that delivers 30 square feet of retail space per capita?  How about 40?  Does a shopper in the US really need more than six times as much retail shopping space as someone in Europe?  How much is ‘too much?’

The heroic efforts to sustain that way of life could well have something to do with the fact that so many people have a sinking feeling in their stomachs that we are on the wrong track.

The challenge at any great turning point in history is recognizing that the landscape has fundamentally shifted.  For my part, I am so certain that the Aughts [2000-2009] cannot be recreated in letter or spirit that I am not at all interested in playing the stock market or fiddling around with bond funds, both of which are trading at levels that explicitly assume the Aughts are coming back.

They are not.

It’s a different future that awaits.  Not necessarily worse, but certainly involving a whole lot less stuff bought on credit.  Some will interpret this as a distressing decline in living standards, but for those who can shift their perception, this will be an exciting time of transformation from a culture of consumption to something far more satisfying and lasting.
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Dave responds to Tommy Wayne Kramer’s scurrilous attack

In Dave Smith on January 11, 2010 at 6:39 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

Letter to the UDJ Editor:

Closet Environmentalist

Can one truly say they have “arrived” in Mendocino County unless they have been called out and made fun of by columnist Tommy Wayne Kramer? After living in and out of the Mendocino County for over 20 years, yes, I’ve finally arrived. In the Sunday paper (Building a Skatepark with SOLE?, Ukiah Daily Journal 1/10/2010), I was smeared as an environmentalist and S.O.L.E. (Save Our Local Economy) fellow traveler by this man, and lumped in with Eddie Bauer wannabes, Prius drivers, and Evian slurpers. I suppose he also thinks I walk to work, bicycle to the Co-op, and watch birds in my free time!

This is the height of hypocrisy! I’ve seen this guy walking around town like other environmentalists do so they won’t contribute to global warming or peak oil. Oh, you may say he’s just skulking around looking for something to make fun of, but no… I’ve seen him stop and look up into trees! There ain’t nothing up in a tree to make fun of. He’s looking at birds!

Recently, I saw a man coming towards me with his hoody up over his head and as he drew closer I saw it was Tommy Wayne. As I turned to watch him pass, sure enough, printed on the back was “100% Organic Cotton!”

This guy has got to cop to his secret life, or we can never again trust the journalistic integrity of this newspaper.
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A great, short, inspiring video about a local town’s future

In Around the web on January 11, 2010 at 3:45 am

From Transition Manchester in Vermont

Transition Town Manchester, Vermont – Manchester 2020 Vision video
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Everything this farmer does is illegal

In Around the web on January 10, 2010 at 11:32 am

From CHELSEA GREEN

The problems associated with the way we’ve chosen to feed our population include food borne pathogens from robust strains of antibiotic resistant pathogens, diabetes, obesity, water pollution, increased green house gasses, and a general disconnect between ourselves and real food. We wander the grocery store, reaching for whatever processed corn product we feel most suits our appetite. The source of our meals is more often the factory than the farm.

Still, we idealize the pastoral. We imagine the farmer on his beat-up tractor, or smiling happily as he feeds his livestock, or walking through his golden fields of waving grain. But anymore, the small farm is rarity. We may not see it in Portland, where we can find a farmers market ever single day of the week for most of the year. We may take it for granted that we’ve been able to develop a regional system of small farms supported by a healthy community. This is truly an agricultural Shangri-la. The majority of America is not so lucky.

Enter Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms. Salatin is an outspoken agriculture revolutionary with designs to redeem our food system. His farm has become a symbol for a new way of growing food. Well, not actually a new way. Salatin has discovered that the best way to farm the land and feed the community is to do exactly what nature has been doing for millions of years. more→

Man Gets Life In Order For 36 Minutes

In Around Mendo Island on January 10, 2010 at 10:34 am

From THE ONION

Briefly overcoming a near-continuous streak of disorganization, area man Terry Oberlin, 37, got his life together for exactly 36 minutes, sources confirmed Monday.

According to family reports, Oberlin’s bills for the month were paid, the living room was vacuumed, the dishes from dinner were all washed and put away, and the father of two was sitting in his favorite chair in the living room without a single thing in his life out of place.

“It was nice to get some chores out of the way,” Oberlin told reporters later, acknowledging that for more than half an hour he experienced no regrets, despair, or frustration of any kind. “Felt really good.”

The crucial worry-free period reportedly began at 7:50 p.m., when Oberlin took the garbage out to the curb and then returned to the house, where his back, which had been bothering him all day, finally cracked back into alignment. Upon entering his kitchen, he spotted a month-old magazine sitting on the counter where it didn’t belong, and dropped it into the garbage.

At that precise moment, sources said, Oberlin achieved a state of total order in his life.

Witnesses indicated that upon entering into his relaxed state, Oberlin—who had no e-mails to respond to and was finally caught up with everything at the office—spent a full 90 seconds staring quietly at nothing in particular, and then approximately 8.5 minutes paging leisurely through the evening newspaper.

more at The Onion
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Today’s Scripture

In Around the web on January 10, 2010 at 9:04 am


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We Don’t Need This Culture of Overwork

In Around the web on January 9, 2010 at 8:37 am

From JOHANN HARI
The London Independent
Via Energy Bulletin

This year, we all need to become more like Utah, under its Republican governor – and then go further. No, dear reader, don’t panic – I have not converted to Mormonism, nor have I tossed out my sanity with my old Santa hat and Christmas decorations. The people of one of the most conservative states in the US have stumbled across a simple policy that slashes greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent, saves huge sums of money, improves public services, cuts traffic congestion, and makes 82 per cent of workers happier. It can do the same for us – and point to an even better future beyond it – without the need for the Arch-Angel Moron (yes, Mormons really do believe in him) to offer his blessing.

It all began two years ago, when the state was facing a budget crisis. One night, the new Republican Governor Jon Huntsman was staring at the red ink and rough sums when he had an idea. Keeping the state’s buildings lit and heated and manned cost a fortune. Could it be cut without cutting the service given to the public? Then it hit him. What if, instead of working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, the state’s employees only came in four days a week, but now from 8 to 6? The state would be getting the same forty hours a week out of its staff – but the costs of maintaining their offices would plummet. The employees would get a three-day weekend, and cut a whole day’s worth of tiring, polluting commuting out of their week.

He took the step of requiring it by law for 80 per cent of the state’s employees. (Obviously, some places – like the emergency services or prisons – had to be exempted.) At first, there was cautious support among the workforce but as the experiment has rolled on, it has gathered remarkable acclaim. Today, two years on, 82 per cent of employees applaud the new hours, and hardly anyone wants to go back. Professor Lori Wadsworth carried out a detailed study of workers’ responses, and she says: “People love it.” more→

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