Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

TV is a Stalking Horse (Updated)

In Books on January 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

From Possum Living
A seventies classic updated

Television is like a loud salesman in your living room. Sometimes he’s interesting, frequently he’s embarrassing, and always he’s trying to sell you stuff.

The whole purpose of mainstream TV [including the "news" -DS] is to get you to buy things — not to entertain you or teach you or make you feel you belong, but to get you to spend money. Think about it: millions and millions of dollars and thousands and thousands of hours of man power put in by clever people just to get you, personally, to buy stuff. They will resort to almost anything  to accomplish this. They will make you feel you are inadequate, a failure, a bad parent, incomplete; they will use any method and pander to your basest instincts to get you to spend money. Just like most of the people on TV are better looking than you are, most of the homes, cars, possessions are better than yours. This will affect you even though you swear it doesn’t. And if they can’t get you with ads, hypermaterialism, or product placement, they will promote shows that breed envy and discontent, such as “Lifestyles of the Beautiful and Ostentatious” or “Exorbitant Fabulous Houses.” They will even try to sell you leisure time so you can have a break from your hectic lifestyle of earning money to buy things.

You can get the benefits of television programming without all the pressure if you just disconnect the TV and use the library or Netflix to get DVDs. If you combine this with a little Internet research, you can completely control the content of what enters your home in the guise of entertainment.

Never forget that the whole purpose of TV is to make you want to spend money. Of course, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet [increasingly becoming obnoxious] present the same problem, but it’s a lot easier to ignore the obvious advertising and rampant commercialism posing as stories in written media.
Update: See also Watching TV shortens life span
Thanks to Ron Epstein

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 1/9/2010

In Dave Smith on January 8, 2010 at 2:10 am


Friend of the Farmers’ Market …

We’re back!  The holiday break is over and the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market is back.  Through April the market’s hours will be 9:30 to noon, in Alex Thomas Plaza at the corner of School and Clay Streets in beautiful, historic downtown Ukiah.

We should have lots of great, fresh local food including Ortiz Brothers produce, Green Uprising salad mix, and lots of other goodies such as crab and the first local bacon in some time.  We also expect to have a supply of Redwood Valley farm fresh eggs.

Food Stamps/EBT/Advantage welcome.  Come to the market table (where the coffee is) to swipe your card.

Live music provided by Jerry Krantman.

See you at the market!

Harvesting Tranquility

In Garden Farm Skills on January 8, 2010 at 12:00 am

The Contrary Farmer

When visitors ask what our main crop is on our little farm, they look a bit startled when I reply “wood.” They look even more startled when I say the reason wood is important to us is that it brings tranquility to our lives. In winter when an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of staying warm, I am just about as happy to have a garage full of stove wood as to have a storeroom full of food. I could not afford to keep the house toasty warm with “bought” fuel. If the electricity conks out in a January blizzard, as it seems to do more often now than in years past, we can ride the storm out fairly well. Not only will we stay warm, but we can cook our food and warm our water. The mere thought of this kind of security relieves stress and brings tranquility— the Federal Reserve can take away the interest on our life’s savings, but I don’t think even that bunch of buzzards can take away the warmth from our wood. Tranquility is the most precious possession of life, possibly more conducive to good health than proper food, exercise or medication. Add to that the tranquility that can be achieved in the work of cutting and splitting wood in the sanctuary of the trees. I often think of one of my heroes, Scott Nearing, who kept cutting wood until he was 100 years old. He stopped then, figuring he had enough ahead to last the rest of his life.

In terms of income, we reckon our tree land brings in about $1000 a year from the value of the wood substituting for other home heating fuels and an occasional sale of sawlogs and veneer logs, plus some black walnut and cherry lumber turned into furniture. There are also nuts and mushrooms for food, and hickory bark for cooking and smoking meat on the grill. There are bean poles and fence posts and gate boards and chicken roosts too. A thousand dollars is not much in terms of today’s high-flying business profits, but even this small amount, in terms of saving money is interesting (another dratted pun).

Complete article here

Whole Grain Biscuits Recipe

In Around Mendo Island on January 7, 2010 at 7:29 am

Wonderful Ingredients


news is out at our house- these are the best biscuits yet. this last month i’ve been working out just the right mix for a biscuit that is both dense and fluffy, wholesome without tasting like a brick, and with just the right amount of height. tonight i finally got a full thumbs up from dylan, i.e. there was barely enough time to click a pic before they were all gone. btw: do i need to mention organic is ur best choice for the funky ingredients?!

Whole Grain Biscuits
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
5 tbl cold unsalted sweet butter
3/4 cup raw goat milk (or cow)
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Softly mix flours, baking powder, salt & baking soda. cut butter into small chunks, add a bit at a time to the flour mixture making sure each piece gets individually coated w/ flour (keeps em from sticking together). at this point i dump the mixture into my vitamix and turn it on to 7 (low) for 10-15 seconds until the butter is mixed into the flour, resembling coarse cornmeal. caution, over-mixing will tend towards a flat biscuit. you can also pulse a few times in a food processor, mix in a mixer or cut the butter into the flour mixture using your hands, pastry cutter, or a couple of knives.

If using a blender/food processor, dump back into your mixing bowl and add milk. stir w/ a fork till just combined. it may be a bit sticky. more→

Mendocino County: Fire the CEO and Open Up the Planning and Budgeting Process!

In Dave Smith on January 7, 2010 at 7:28 am


[After overwhelmingly defeating the Monster Mall with Measure A, citizens are outraged to learn that the county CEO is still trying to get a Big Box store on the Masonite site. This is anti-democratic and he should be fired forthwith! Further, the title of CEO should be eliminated as it pumps up the power-seeking, games-playing politico. The position is an administrative public servant. We need someone who will open up the democratic process and get this county moving forward again. -DS]

Wikipedia: Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, in which ordinary residents decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. Participatory budgeting allows citizens to present their demands and priorities for improvement, and influence through discussions and negotiations the budget allocations made by their municipalities.

Participatory budgeting is usually characterized by several basic design features: identification of spending priorities by community members, election of budget delegates to represent different communities, facilitation and technical assistance by public employees, local and higher level assemblies to deliberate and vote on spending priorities, and the implementation of local direct-impact community projects.

Various studies have suggested that participatory budgeting results in more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.

Wild Fermentation Sauerkraut Recipe (Video)

In Books on January 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Author, Wild Fermentation
Video here

Making Sauerkraut is Easy!

Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003) has earned the nickname “Sandorkraut” for his love of sauerkraut. This is Sandorkaut’s easy sauerkraut recipe, one of more than 90 ferments included in his book.

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)

Special Equipment:

  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)
  • Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):

  • 5 pounds cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt



Fidel Castro on Climate Change, Copenhagen, and Obama

In Climate Change Series on January 6, 2010 at 9:19 am

Thanks to Pinky Kushner

As the Revolution celebrated its 51st anniversary two days ago, memories of that January 1st of 1959 came to mind. The outlandish idea that, after half a century — which flew by — we would remember it as if it were yesterday, never occurred to any of us.

During the meeting at the Oriente sugar mill on December 28, 1958, with the commander in chief of the enemy’s forces, whose elite units were surrounded without any way out whatsoever, he admitted defeat and appealed to our generosity to find a dignified way out for the rest of his forces. He knew of our humane treatment of prisoners and the injured without any exception. He accepted the agreement that I proposed, although I warned him that operations under way would continue. But he traveled to the capital, and, incited by the United States embassy, instigated a coup d’état.

We were preparing for combat on that January 1st when, in the early hours of the morning, the news came in of the dictator’s flight. The Rebel Army was ordered not to permit a ceasefire and to continue battling on all fronts. Radio Rebelde convened workers to a revolutionary general strike, immediately followed by the entire nation. The coup attempt was defeated, and that same afternoon, our victorious troops entered Santiago de Cuba.


Mixed Farming Systems & Carbon Sequestration

In Around Mendo Island on January 5, 2010 at 9:15 am

Redwood Valley
Mendocino Organics CSA Newsletter

I’m visiting family on the East Coast but also catching up on all the news from Copenhagen, including a briefing paper I came across from the UK’s Soil Association. They promote planet-friendly food and farming through education, campaigns, and community programs.

If you’re looking for some good, scientific reading, check out SA policy advisor Richard Young’s paper, “The role of livestock in sustainable food systems.” While meat production has been bashed for associated methane emissions contributing to global climate change, this briefing paper summarizes how mixed farming systems  – using grassland rotation to build soil fertility for arable crops – gives the best means of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and replenishing the soil carbon bank. This research actually points to beef and sheep production as central in carbon-friendly ag systems.

“One way to enable soil carbon sequestration is to convert cropland into grassland as part of a ley/arable rotation which deploys a leguminous grass ley to build fertility, grazed by ruminant animals to convert the forage into food. This appears to be the only proven method applicable to large areas of farmland that is capable of sequestering substantial amounts of soil carbon, whilst at the same time maximising the production of an adequate range and quantity of food for human consumption.” more→

The Warning

In Around the web on January 5, 2010 at 9:14 am


Frontline has produced a remarkable documentary titled The Warning, which has aired on PBS Television across the nation. It documents how Lawrence Summers, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin attacked and blocked Brooksley Born, who was in charge of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission when she warned of the derivatives danger in the mid-1990s and heroically fought to regulate them. The presentation follows the problem that created the crisis back through Greenspan, to its origin in his philosophical mentor, Ayn Rand. You can watch this documentary here.


Mendocino County: Community Egg Co-ops Anyone?

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on January 4, 2010 at 10:45 pm

From Cooking Up A Story

Have you ever thought about raising chickens? Have you given much thought to the difference between a freshly gathered egg and one from the store? You may want to after meeting Patrick and Holly, and watching this story. They had raised chickens themselves in the past and wanted to again, but this time they wanted to raise more of them for themselves and through their local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to provide directly to others. Through serendipity and the community coming together, they were able to pull together a team of 14 people to take care of 30 chickens to form Eastside Egg Co-op.

There are so many benefits to raising chickens. They are a great addition to any garden, they clear out whatever area of land defines their boundary, and they also leave their nitrogen rich manure for the next round of plantings. The eggs from these naturally raised chickens are higher in the good omega-3 fatty acids than eggs produced from factory farms, not to mention being fresher. Typically, eggs from the supermarket are at least 2 weeks old before they even reach the shelf.

If this is something you think you’d like to try, find out first if chickens are allowed where you live. If yes, like Patrick says, make it happen!

Go to story video here

Praising Leaves/Condemning Leaf Blowers

In Around the web on January 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Sonoma County
Via Energy Bulletin

Leaves are one of nature’s most miraculous creations. They tie it all together. They rise from the ground, reach to the sky, and bring life to the Earth. Leaves do many good things — manufacture food for trees and other plants, use the sun’s energy to transform carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, and decompose water (H2O) into oxygen and hydrogen. The resulting complex compound, glucose, is the universal and basic energy source for all living organisms. Leaves also provide beauty and delight, thus meriting our praise for their abundant gifts. Children and animals love frolicing in fresh piles of leaves.

Yet by the late 20th century human ingenuity, irritated by fallen leaves, created a fossil fuel-driven industrial machine — the highly-polluting, gas-operated leaf blower — that disrupts leaves natural cycle and night-workers sleeping cycle. Left to their own, leaves leave their perch and fall to the ground and remain there. Even when brown, dead, and on the Earth, their transformative work continues — first as mulch, then as compost, and eventually integrating into the soil that nourishes plants and so much of life. Interrupting that cycle will have all kinds of negative unintended consequences. more→

Selected Comments on Move Your Money Local (Updated)

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on January 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm

[I've been a Credit Union member for more than 40 years for the simple reason that, like the Co-op food store  I am also a member of, it is owned and run democratically by its members. -DS]

[Updated below]

From Move Your Money Local post

Janie Sheppard: Thanks for this post Dave. I hope lots of people move their money to credit unions that lend locally.

Mary Anne Landis: Really important reminder for us all, Dave. Loved seeing the re-cap of “It’s a Wonderful Life” juxtaposed within our current circumstances. The zipcode search leads only to banks; our credit unions serve our communities well, too. Thanks!

Sean Re: A little worrisome. I put our zip code in there and not one Credit Union came up. There’s a significant difference between the two, namely where the money is being invested.

I put my money in Credit Unions 20 years ago and never looked back- and was rewarded with better service and rates too. Imagine what would happen if everyone did just that. I’m no economist but I imagine it would be a tremendous shift in power downward.

Here’s an interesting story about the Redwood Credit Union. I moved up here to go to grad school at SSU, and switched my accounts from the San Diego Credit Union to the Redwood Credit Union. more→

Feeding The World By Cleaning The Air

In Around the web on January 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm

See full image by clicking on the title of this post above

Redwood Valley

NASA Funded Study November 23, 2009: “Feeding the world by cleaning the air…study ties heavy regional haze to reductions in crop production.”

“A new study suggests that cleaning up the air may help to feed the world. Published in the November 23, 2009, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that heavy regional haze in… important agricultural areas may be cutting food production there by as much as one-third. Covering a million square kilometers or more, the haze scatters and absorbs solar radiation, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching key rice and winter wheat crops. That decreases plant growth and food production…”

“For crops that are irrigated and fertilized, there is often a direct correlation between how much is grown and how much sunlight reaches those crops,” said Dr. William L. Chameides, professor in the School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “In China there is a significant amount of haze that reduces the sunlight reaching the surface by at least five percent, and perhaps as much as 30 percent. The optimal yields of crops in China are likely reduced by the same percentage.”

“…Extensive studies by agricultural researchers have documented the relationship between crop production and the sunlight received… more→

FDA approves Crestor drug for people who have no health problem to correct

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on January 2, 2010 at 8:24 am


Big Pharma has been trending this direction for a long time: marketing medicines to people who don’t need them and who have nothing wrong with their health. It’s all part of a ploy to position prescription drugs as nutrients — things you need to take on a regular basis in order to prevent disease.

The FDA recently gave its nod of approval on the matter, announcing that Crestor can now be advertised and prescribed as a “preventive” medicine. No longer does a patient need to have anything wrong with them to warrant this expensive prescription medication: They only need to remember the brand name of the drug from television ads.

This FDA approval for the marketing of Crestor to healthy people is a breakthrough for wealthy drug companies. Selling drugs only to people who are sick is, by definition, a limited market. Expanding drug revenues requires reaching people who have nothing wrong with them and convincing them that taking a cocktail of daily pharmaceuticals will somehow keep them healthy.

All this is, of course, the greatest quackery we’ve yet seen from Big Pharma, because once this floodgate of “preventive pharmaceuticals” is unleashed, the drug companies will be positioned to promote a bewildering array of other preventive chemicals you’re supposed to take at the same time. more→

A New Year’s Revolution

In Around the web on January 2, 2010 at 8:02 am

Next American Revolution blog

Welcome to The Next American Revolution, coming soon to your neighborhood.  Or so we can hope.  Because the revolution we need will have to come neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community, congressional district by congressional district.

Nothing is more depressing, given the corrupted state of our politics, than to hear responsible and perceptive critics of business as usual calling for greater efforts to secure federal funds to solve local problems, as we did this morning on our local public radio station.  Of course we need all the help we can get, especially in rural counties like ours, where unemployment is high and underemployment higher, where poverty levels are growing and state services shrinking. Of course we could benefit from help from any source.

But all those federal funds out there — for small business development, for green enterprise, for strengthening local food systems, for creating jobs — come at some price. One price is the procrustean bed of Congressional micro-management on which all proposals must stretch and the limited reach, consequently, of such funding. “Small business,” if I’m not mistaken, is currently defined as any business employing fewer than 500 employees, and much of what the Small Business Administration does caters to businesses at the larger end of the spectrum. Local start-ups need not apply.



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