Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Spoon Guitar: A beautiful thing to behold

In Around the web on April 30, 2010 at 8:57 am


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DRILL BABY DRILL
DUMB BABY DUMB

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Mendo Farmers Markets Opening Day This Saturday, May 1st 2010

In Dave Smith on April 30, 2010 at 7:21 am


Fairport, New York

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

Farmers’ Market Fans,

This Saturday is Opening Day for the new farmers’ market season.  The Saturday market will start opening at 8:30.  (The Ukiah Tuesday market will also open this week and runs from 3-6pm.)

At the Ukiah Saturday Market we will celebrate with free Jumperz for the kids (Jumperz will hopefully be a regular attraction at the market this season, but it is only free this Saturday).  The Fish Peddler reports that they will have some local fresh sablefish, snapper, pertale sole, halibut and some frozen salmon.  But, get there early as they have been selling out. They hope to start bringing fresh salmon from Oregon as early as the second week of May … but that is hopeful.  I just hear from the Potter Valley Garden Club that they will be joining us with their annual benefit sale day. Add that to Spiral Gardens, Lovin’ Blooms and Blue Sky Nursery, all starter plant specialists, and should have a huge selection of starts for you – in addition to all of the usual produce and other treats.  With the new season we will have a heap of new activity including UC Master Gardner instruction on the 3rd Saturday of the month.  2nd Saturdays will feature presentations with Q&A by Kermit Carter of Flowers by the Sea, starting with how to grow tomatoes in and around Ukiah.

Tomorrow’s Ukiah Daily Journal will include my final Market Message column. It is pasted below in case you want to preview it…

One Last Market Message

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Deal with it

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on April 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

To The Editors:
AVA, UDJ

It is unfortunate at a time when we are all struggling to find solutions to our common problems, that we get the kind of haranguing rants by John Hendricks (Utopia it ain’t, etc. UDJ), who has apparently taken it upon himself to be the local voice of conservatism, decrying the so-called evils of “socialism”. Such divisive screeds are a disservice to our community, our democracy, and true conservatism. Rather, we need calm, reasonable, and firm voices such as, on a national level, Thom Hartmann, Wendell Berry, and John Ikerd.

We have always had a mixed economy of both capitalism and socialism, as has the European industrial nations. America and England, especially beginning with Reagan and Thatcher, has leaned to the capitalist side… Europe to the socialist side. Finding the right mix for the right times has always been the democratic struggle among industrialized nations. And socialism has always been, and will always be, a part of that mix. Deal with it.

Unfortunately, American-style economics has been converted by neo-conservative ideology into a highly-destructive form of capitalism: oligarchic monopoly corporatism. We’ve swung way too far to the right, and it is now our job as democratic citizens and political representatives to repair the damage and get us back to a more fair economy.

As for me, I hope we swing way too far to the socialist side and recover our humanity, our social safety net, and a conserving way of life in the process. We may never reach our personal utopias, but for sure, the future will reward survival of the cooperative.
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See also Sanctimonious Deficit Hawks Target Social Safety Net
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The Betrayal of Capitalism

In Guest Posts on April 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

From JOHN IKERD
Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO – USA

“The idea that the markets are always right was mad.” This was the reaction of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to the meltdown in global financial markets. He blamed the current financial crisis on a betrayal of the “spirit of capitalism.” He argued that capitalist economies should never have been allowed to function without strict government oversight and regulation. He was right. It remains to be seen whether capitalism can survive the betrayal.

During its early stages of development, economics was called political economy. Classical economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, and Karl Marx were clearly as concerned as much about philosophy and politics as what we today call economics. They had clear ideas concerning whether economic choices were good or bad for nations and right or wrong for humanity, though obviously not always agreeing.

Over time, however, academic economists sought to distance themselves from the social and ethical consequences of growing industrialization by retreating to scientific empiricism. They began relying on the observable and quantifiable choices of consumers and producers. They accepted the preferences revealed by those choices as inherently right and good, or at least left such matters to the philosophers, sociologists, and political scientists. Philosophy and politics had no place in the new economics, other than dealing with “market failures,” which they thought to be few. The “spirit of capitalism” had been betrayed long before the financial meltdown of 2008.

Economic systems have acquired their names – capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism… – from their sources of dominant economic power or authority. Under socialism, workers – those who make up the vast majority of society – are the dominant source of economic power. Communism focuses the socialist power of workers on their local communities. more→

Mendo Slaughterhouse: The Community Comments

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith, Mendo Slaughterhouse on April 28, 2010 at 9:28 am

From Ukiah Daily Journal

[Reader comments on UDJ slaughterhouse article -- no longer available -- gathered into paragraphs for readability. A very few repetitious ones eliminated. The photo above is from a photo documentary of how sheep are humanely led to slaughter and processed down on the farm, in Romania, as has been done for thousands of years all over the world. Small-scale, on-the-farm, meat processing with mobile units, outside our population centers will be encouraged. The horror, filth, and unhealthiness of centralized slaughter in our Ukiah Valley will be resisted. Let's hear it for the NIMBYs! -DS]

[Wendell Berry: There’s  a lot of scorn now toward people who say, “Not in my backyard,” but the not-in-my-backyard sentiment is one of the most valuable that we have. If enough people said, “Not in my backyard,” these bad innovations wouldn’t be in anybody’s backyard. It’s your own backyard you’re required to protect because in doing so you’re defending everybody’s backyard. It is altogether healthy and salutary.]

Traveler didn’t read the story. to quote: “Concerns about a dirty, smelly, offensive operation are addressed in the concepts used in New Zealand where plants are “clean enough to provide tours to the public.”
Study writers need to demonstrate — not just claim!– that a small meat plant does not have to be a smelly nuisance. How about posting some video from New Zealand? How about talking to neighbors of Redwood Meat Co. on Myrtle St. in Eureka? In this thread, http://humboldt-herald.blogspot.com/2007/06/h… neighbors say they don’t notice odors.
Our Mendocino County grass-fed beef is delicious, and our cattle lead lives outdoors eating grass like cattle should. Let’s work together to find a location that works, to get our good beef to urban customers who want it, and who can pay for it, and to give good jobs to those who need it here.

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Swedish True Crime Author: Henning Mankell

In Around the web on April 27, 2010 at 9:19 am

From THE GUARDIAN (2003)

[If you've read the Stieg Larsson books, and are casting around for a similar author, this is the guy. -DS]

Henning Mankell was raised by his father, a judge, in a flat above a courtroom, and has had an interest in legal systems since childhood. He worked as a merchant seaman and a stagehand before turning to fiction. Now, as the author of an acclaimed series of detective novels, he divides his time between his native Sweden and Mozambique, where he runs a theatre.

Twelve years ago, when Henning Mankell published the first of his Inspector Wallander novels, he could not have imagined how successful they would be. In his native Sweden the series was to triumph spectacularly and he has sold more than 20 million books worldwide; Wallander outsells Harry Potter in Germany and is top of the book charts in Brazil. Ruth Rendell, who is half Swedish, has read all nine in the original. She admires their edgy, convincing police work and social concerns. “There’s a belief that crime fiction should be about little old ladies solving murders in country villages,” she says. “But Mankell is modern, and he makes you reflect on society.” Questions of responsibility and morality – of justice and democracy – are explicitly raised, which is unusual in detective fiction. “I work in an old tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks,” Mankell says. “You hold a mirror to crime to see what’s happening in society. I could never write a crime story just for the sake of it, because I always want to talk about certain things in society.” He says the best crime story he has ever read is Macbeth – “a terrible allegory about the corrupting tendency of power that could equally be about President Nixon”. more→

Herman Daly: Money and the Steady State Economy

In Around the web on April 27, 2010 at 8:59 am

From HERMAN DALY
The Daly News

That which seems to be wealth may in verity be only the gilded index of far-reaching ruin. ~ John Ruskin

The larger system is the biosphere. The economy is geared for growth… whereas the parent system doesn’t grow. It remains the same size. So as the economy grows… it encroaches upon the biosphere, and this is the fundamental cost. ~Herman Daly

Historically money has evolved through three phases: (1) commodity money (e.g. gold); (2) token money (certificates tied to gold); and (3) fiat money (certificates not tied to gold).

1. Gold has a real cost of mining and value as a commodity in addition to its exchange value as money. Gold’s money value and commodity value tend to equality. If gold as commodity is worth more than gold as money then coins are melted into bullion and sold as commodity until the commodity price falls to equality with the monetary value again. The money supply is thus determined by geology and mining technology, not by government policy or the lending and borrowing by private banks. This keeps irresponsible politicians’ and bankers’ hands off the money supply, but at the cost of a lot of real resources and environmental destruction necessary to mine gold, and of tying the money supply not to economic conditions, but to extraneous facts of geology and mining technology. Historically the gold standard also had the advantage of providing an international money. Trade deficits were settled by paying gold; surpluses by receiving gold. But since gold was also national money, the money supply in the deficit country went down, and in the surplus country went up. Consequently the price level and employment declined in the deficit country (stimulating exports and discouraging imports) and rose in the surplus country (discouraging exports and stimulating imports), tending to restore balanced trade. Trade imbalances were self-correcting, and if we remember that gold, the balancing item, was itself a commodity, we might even say imbalances were nonexistent. more→

Jimmy Stewart is dead: Break up the banks

In Around the web on April 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

From ILARGI
The Automatic Earth

It promises to be an interesting week, the one we’re entering. 44 House Democrats have signed a petition for criminal investigations against Goldman Sachs. Goldman’s executives (including Fabrice Tourre?!) will be heard on Tuesday by Carl Levin and his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Levin released tons of internal Goldman emails over the weekend, which at the very least appear to contradict former statements by the firm that it did not profit from the housing and financial collapse.

It’s not hard to predict that Blankfein c.s. will be insulted, furious and indignant. These are people for whom $10 million is NOT a lot of money. And however you think about that, it is still a sharp contrast with the millions of American citizens who’ve come to rely on foodstamps and emergency extended unemployment checks, to a large extent because of the financial crisis. For them, $10 million is an enormous amount of money, so large they can’t even fathom it.

I think the undoing of Goldman will be that its execs, just like those at Morgan Stanley, or GE, or GM, have failed to understand that their own personal wealth can only last as long as the “lower classes” have at least a decent life. A chance to feed their kids and send them to a proper school, to get proper medical treatment for their families if and when required, and, when they age, to draw sufficient retirement funds not to suffer from hunger and cold.

The Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the planet have no idea who these people are, or what they think, what they’re going through, many hundreds waiting in line for an entire day for a handful of low-paid jobs. See, if you make $20,000 a year, and many wish they’d make that much, you have to worth for 500 years to get to that $10 million. Lloyd Blankfein made over $400 million in the past decade. more→

Take Action! Sign Up Now For Local Farm CSA Weekly Veggie Baskets

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on April 26, 2010 at 8:41 am

From GLORIA DECATER
Live Power Community Farm
Covelo

I have been caring for and milking cows for over 30 years now. In addition to pigs and chickens, they are my favorite animal, I adore them. Routine, rhythm, and consistency are very important to cows. They want to eat and get milked at the same time each day and they have their spot in the barn where they stand when they are eating. If another cow should take that spot by mistake, they will get very worried. The maximum milk production comes from regularity for them. Change is hard for them, they will adapt, but it takes a little bit of time. So for humans, we have to learn to adapt to change. Being a Taurus myself, to even think about changing our sorting system was incredibly challenging and a bit scary!

So I want to thank you all for considering this change to our delivery system after 17 years! And thank you for all the wonderful responses, suggestions, and offers of help! I believe we have come up with a plan for the moment that should take care of everyone’s needs and interests. And if it does not, we will adjust where we need to so that it will take care of everyone.

I plan to arrive at Martin and Debra’s home at 1101 West Clay St at 5 pm on Tuesdays with one of our apprentices to help with the sorting. I will stay until 6:30 or 7 till all is done.

There will be a list of the vegetables and amounts posted on the tables as well as a list of all members to check in.

You will have various options:

  1. You can arrive anytime from 5 pm to 6 pm to sort your own basket
  2. more→

Transition Handbook in a Nutshell

In Around the web on April 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm

From Energy Bulletin

Paul Heft has provided an outline with notes for The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, the foundational text of the Transition Movement. Notes are in italics.

You can buy the book online or through your local bookstore. Other free information on Transition that is available online:
Transition Primer
Study guide for the Transition Handbook
In Transition (movie)


Introduction: Tantalizing glimpses of resilience

  1. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to hold together and maintain its functions in the face of change and shocks from outside. The book argues that building local resilience is key. A resilient culture thrives by living within its limits, and can function indefinitely.
  2. The Achilles heel of economic globalization is its degree of oil dependency. Moving away from oil dependency, toward more localized energy-efficient and productive living arrangements, is inevitable.
  3. Our culture is underpinned with cultural myths, misleading and harmful stories, which we must replace.
  4. The book favors generating a “sense of elation, rather than the guilt, anger and horror that most campaigning involves.” The book advocates a “sense of anticipation, elation and a collective call to adventure … positive engagement and new storytelling … [exploring] the possibilities of applied optimism …” It offers a vision of “an extraordinary renaissance—economic, cultural and spiritual … making a nourishing and abundant future a reality.”

Chapter 1: Peak Oil and Climate Change

[Has Hopkins failed to focus on any other problems that seem as daunting? For example, pushing beyond the planet's capacity to maintain living environments—forests, rivers, oceans, aquifers, soil, etc.—that provide humanity's sources and sinks; more→

Rural Entrepreneuring

In Dave Smith on April 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm

From SHEILAH ROGERS
Redwood Valley
Rural Matters

From the Center for Rural Affairs:

There is a developing broad agreement among researchers, policy advocates and others that the traditional economic development models of industrial and business recruitment simply do not meet the needs of rural communities.

Entrepreneurship has been lifted up as an economic development model that will better serve rural people and rural places. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City states that, “Rural policymakers, who once followed traditional strategies of recruiting manufacturers that export low-value products, have realized that entrepreneurs can generate new economic value for their communities. Entrepreneurs add jobs, raise incomes, create wealth, improve the quality of life of citizens and help rural communities operate in the global economy.” Federal rural policy must begin to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship as a rural development strategy and provide the resources necessary for rural people and rural communities to leverage the spirit, creativity and opportunities entrepreneurship creates.

Asset- and wealth-building strategies are equally important. Greater income alone cannot lead to economic well-being for individuals and families; asset- and wealth-building through home ownership, business ownership or enhanced education lead to important long-term psychological and social effects that cannot be achieved by simply increasing income. While income is an important factor, income can be achieved nearly anywhere in varying degrees. Assets, like businesses, bond one to a place and help to build sustainable communities. A commitment to rural asset- and wealth-building strategies like microenterprise development can lead to a stronger individuals, families and communities.

Agriculturally-based entrepreneurship and innovation must also continue to play a vital role in rural development policy and can be easily linked to microenterprise development. more→

Derrick Jensen: No, We Can’t Have It All

In Around the web on April 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

From DERRICK JENSEN
Humboldt County
CommonDreams.org

An Excerpt from ‘Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization’

We all face choices. We can have ice caps and polar bears, or we can have automobiles. We can have dams or we can have salmon. We can have irrigated wine from Mendocino and Sonoma counties, or we can have the Russian and Eel Rivers. We can have oil from beneath the oceans, or we can have whales. We can have cardboard boxes or we can have living forests. We can have computers and cancer clusters from the manufacture of those computers, or we can have neither. We can have electricity and a world devastated by mining, or we can have neither (and don’t give me any nonsense about solar: you’ll need copper for wiring, silicon for photovoltaics, metals and plastics for appliances, which need to be manufactured and then transported to your home, and so on. Even solar electrical energy can never be sustainable because electricity and all its accoutrements require an industrial infrastructure).  We can have fruits, vegetables, and coffee brought to the U.S. from Latin America, or we can have at least somewhat intact human and nonhuman communities throughout that region. (I don’t think I need to remind readers that, to take one not atypical example among far too many, the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala was overthrown by the United States to support the United Fruit Company, now Chiquita, leading to thirty years of U.S.-backed dictatorships and death squads. Also, a few years ago I asked a member of the revolutionary tupacamaristas what they wanted for the people of Peru, and he said something that cuts to the heart of the current discussion [and to the heart of every struggle that has ever taken place against civilization]: more→

Stacy Mitchell: Local economies close the distance between us

In Around the web on April 23, 2010 at 7:44 am

From STACY MITCHELL
New Rules Project
Via Yes! Magazine/Energy Bulletin

I live in a 19th century neighborhood in a small New England city. My mother-in-law, who grew up in this same neighborhood, often talks about what it was like during her childhood in the 1940s. What I find most striking about her description is how many businesses our little section of town once had. There was a grocery store, hardware store, two drugstores, a tailor, and more.

All of those businesses disappeared in the following decades. Families acquired cars and shopping migrated out to supermarkets and, later, malls and big-box stores. When I moved to the neighborhood in 2003, there were no businesses left save one lone corner store. Meanwhile, scores of big-box stores and massive shopping centers had grown up on the edge of town.

This transformation was not natural or inevitable. It was engineered by government policy. After World War II, federal and state officials poured money into highway construction, dismantled public transit, guaranteed mortgages in the suburbs but not in the city, and enacted planning rules that insisted on a rigid separation of residential and commercial uses. All of this created a landscape ideal for chains and big-box stores, but inhospitable to local businesses. In recent decades, municipal governments have gone even further, doling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year in subsidies and tax breaks that directly underwrite the construction of shopping centers and superstores.

Most Americans, as well as a growing number of Europeans, now find themselves living in a built environment that is ill-suited to a post-carbon world—in part because it fails to support a local economy and in part because it demands an extraordinary amount of driving. Between 1987 and 2007, total miles driven in the U.S. rose 60 percent.

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Vote Dan Hamburg for 5th District Supervisor

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on April 22, 2010 at 9:06 pm

From DAVE SMITH

I support and endorse Dan for Supervisor, and agree with his stands on the issues of our county. Dan is not a “one-issue candidate” nor does he ignore any meaningful issue that confronts our citizens. He is experienced and effective. He has been on the front lines of progressive social change all his adult life. See the excellent interview with Dan in this week’s AVA and online at The AVA.com. Dan’s website is VoteHamburg5.org/.

From DAN HAMBURG’s Website

Dan Hamburg has committed to positions on issues that matter to Mendocino.

OUR ASSETS

· Mendocino County has more organic acreage than any county in the nation.
· Mendocino County has the most biodynamic acreage in the state
· Mendocino County has more artists per capita than anywhere else in the nation
· Mendocino County boasts more houses “off the grid” per capita than anywhere else in the nation.
· Mendocino County is the first county in the nation to ban the growing and production of genetically modified crops and animals (GMOs).

Let’s build upon these resources. We have the ingenuity, the will and the heart to create a vibrant and more prosperous County. All that’s stopping us is our own imagination.

BUILD A STRONGER LOCAL ECONOMY more→

Sewage Sludge is Really the Sh**s

In Around the web on April 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

From OUR EYES ARE ON THE WATER

[...] The ramifications of land application of biosolids not being 100% safe are catastrophic. And, yo, it’s not okay to “slip up” here. Does the spreading of biosolids pose a clear and present danger to public health? Is there the slightest risk that harmful chemicals, hazardous toxic material can get into the food and water supply? They do not know for certain. One thing we know for certain is IF that happens there will be no turning back. We have had enough experience to know that.

If human life could be sustained solely on episodes of Glee, the music of Nicki Minaj, and the dance moves of the JabbaWockeeZ, then sure spread biosolids, sling sludge until you pass out. But the truth of the matter is humans have to eat and drink to live. Our digestive systems are not designed to separate bad things in foods from the good. We are mutations. Mutants. What we eat goes directly into our collective systems and the rest is called evolution, for better or for worse.

In North Carolina, Virginia, and many other states, sludge spreading is a serious problem. If it is known that sludge is potentially harmful, why is it being spread? In my mind, if Sugar Brand A is laced with arsenic and Sugar Brand B is not; why would I voluntarily put Sugar Brand A in my coffee? It appears that they want to count us brain dead before our time. Sewage sludge is known to have caused serious medical complications in people and animals that have been exposed to it. Getting the powers that be to admit to and take responsibility for this has proven to be somewhat difficult. When money is involved people do some strange things. And if a company can cut some corners and make a few extra bucks, say, like hundreds of millions, the amount of strange things they’ll do is endless.

NEWS FLASH: We all drink the same water and eat the same food. Sludge will get to you too!

More here
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Not Really Simple

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

From CHARLOTTE ALLEN
InCharacter Blog
Thanks to Ron Epstein

It was the $380 “bona fide horse-riding boots” that got me clued into the simple life. There they were, sleek, polished to the sheen of black pearls, and taking up an entire page of Real Simple magazine. “You’ll never want to take them off,” the accompanying copy promised. It was the first time I’d ever picked up Real Simple, the women’s magazine that distinguishes itself from other women’s magazines by its lack of tips for getting rid of belly fat, its Zen-lite self-help pages (“learn to live with uncertainty”), and its tastefully minimalist layouts characterized by snowdrift-sized expanses of white space. Here’s a food article picturing six balloon-sized Brussels sprouts scattered over the page and not much else. There’s a photo essay featuring elegant mothers and their poetically posed toddlers that actually seems to be about hand-tatted lace, which appears in the foreground or background of nearly every picture. And here’s one about jewelry crafted out of the original brass door numbers at New York’s Plaza Hotel – the pin goes for $260. I closed my issue of Real Simple, stuffed with equally tasteful and equally minimalist ads for wines, Toyota Priuses (the automobile of choice for simple people), and many, many wrinkle creams, and thought: gee, all this simple living can set you back.

Welcome to the simplicity movement, the ethos whose mantras are “cutting back,” “focusing on the essentials,” “reconnecting to the land” – and talking, talking, talking about how fulfilled it all makes you feel. Genuine simple-living people – such as, say, the Amish – are not part of the simplicity movement, because living like the Amish (no iPod apps or granite countertops, plus you have to read the Bible) would be taking the simple thing a bit far… More at InCharacter
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Why I Hate Earth Day (Updated)

In Around the web on April 21, 2010 at 9:27 pm

From SHARON ASTYK
Casaubon’s Book

I bloody hate Earth Day. No offense to those of you who love it, and I know there are some awesome Earth Day programs out there, but by the time we get there, I’m spending my days hiding under the covers, because every freakin’ time I open my email inbox a wave of the most nauseating spew of greenwashing comes flowing out.

Guess what? A major department store chain, nearly in bankruptcy, is now selling the eco-tote, made from organic sheepskin, embossed with “Think Global, Act Local” to show your care for the earth and indifference to grammar. And not to trouble me, but just so you know, the manufacturers of a disgusting sugar laden soft-drink have a new organic one, in a special collectible earth-day bottle. Don’t forget to follow the adventures of Eddie, who is marching nude across the Alaskan wilderness (except for his high priced hiking boots, oh, and the camera crew is clothed, as are the drivers of the six suport jeeps that follow him at 3 mph for the whole way) to raise awareness of Caribou migration Here’s a new website that helps affluent consumers buy carbon offsets so they don’t have to give a shit about their flights to Cancun wants to let me have an interview with their CEO. And don’t forget the chance to meet the manufacturer of a new, even bigger hybrid SUV that gets …woah…23 mpg!

This happens every year, but of course, for the fortieth anniversary of earth day, the bullshit levels reach new heights. My favorite new innovation is that now the press-releases actually acknowledge the problem of greenwashing, implying that you can’t trust those other manufacturers of pointless bullshit, but you definitely, really and truly, can trust someone who a. knows the word “greenwashing” and b. cares enough to add your email to a mailing list of 70,000 people… More at Casaubon’s Book
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See also New Senate Climate Bill Is “Slap in the Face to Everything that Earth Day Stands For” at DemocracyNow
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson
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[Update]
Sharon Astyk follows up with Why I hate Earth Day II: the road to hell in baby steps
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Farming Is Cultural As Well As Agricultural

In Garden Farm Skills, Guest Posts on April 20, 2010 at 10:23 pm

From GENE LOGSDON

Last week, in company with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson, I spent a delightful evening at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, discussing the importance of good food and good farming. [Podcast 42 minutes Wendell Berry / Wes Jackson / Gene Logsdon.mp3 or here.] At one point, someone in the audience asked what we thought of the practice of urban farming. As often happens at panel discussions, we got sidetracked a little, and I did not have an opportunity to say as much as I would have like on that subject. So I will try to answer the question more fully here.

I think urban farming is one of the most hopeful developments to come down the street in a long time. First of all, it encourages the practical economic advantages and benefits of raising and consuming food locally. But its importance goes beyond that for me. I am sometimes asked why I spend my time writing about farming and gardening when, it is suggested, there are more important topics to which to apply my talents. That, in one sentence, indicates one of the most troublesome cultural problems that modern society faces today: the notion that food-getting is not an important enough subject to merit the close attention of all of us.

First of all, if you let big food business rule the roost in agriculture, you are going to get just what you pay taxes for: more big food business. For example, most people don’t even know that they are eating potatoes that have been genetically modified to kill potato bugs. If sometimes you get a notion that potatoes don’t taste as good as they used to, you just might be right. The potato bugs would surely agree with you.

But there’s something else that I think is important in this regard. The fact that our country has become divided into so-called red and blue states is an outcome directly traceable to the urban-rural division of our society… More at The Contrary Farmer
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Evergreen Cooperatives Forge an Innovative Path toward High-Quality Green Jobs

In Around the web on April 20, 2010 at 8:17 pm

From ANDREA BUFFA
Apollo News Service

How can we make sure green jobs are good jobs? One approach to this much discussed question is to make green jobs union jobs, which typically offer higher wages and better benefits than non-union jobs. Another is to require that contractors who receive public funding for green projects pay their workers family supporting wages and provide health insurance. In Cleveland, Ohio, a new and different path is being forged toward high-quality, green jobs—through worker-owned cooperatives, where the workers are not only being paid well, but also can accumulate wealth for themselves and their communities as partial owners of profitable green businesses.

“If you can link wealth building and ownership opportunities to the creation of green jobs, then you maximize benefits to workers and you stabilize communities,” said Ted Howard, founding executive director of The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland and one of the architects of Cleveland’s groundbreaking Evergreen Cooperative Initiative.

The idea for the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative came out of a partnership between the Cleveland Foundation and several local hospitals and universities that are situated in the Greater University Circle area of Cleveland, a one-square mile area surrounded by neighborhoods where the unemployment rate is 20-25 percent and 30 percent of the residents are living in poverty… More at Apollo News Service
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Making Media Local Again

In Around the web on April 20, 2010 at 7:09 am

From JOSH STEARNS
Daily Kos
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

What is driving a new era in local journalism. I look at the mission statements of a range of new journalism nonprofits to explore this new trend in localism. Guess what I find when it comes to the commercial media counterparts?

In my day to day work I get to talk with a lot of journalists about why they do what they do. As you might expect, the answers tend to share some similar themes: commitment to truth and facts, desire to hold leaders accountable, passion for amplifying the voice of people whose voice is often silenced, love of language and storytelling, the thrill of the hunt, an eagerness to help people understand the world around them.

These are motivations I understand and can relate to in my own work. But I’m not a journalist. I am fighting for the future of journalism at a structural level. I have long worked as a community organizer, concerned with how we can build better, stronger communities. While I have worked in conservation and environmental advocacy, education and national service, media and telecommunications reform, at the root of each of these issues has been a concern for the unique local civic infrastructure that I believe undergirds so much of our lives.

When I began working with Free Press I was coordinating the organizations StopBigMedia.com campaign which focused on media ownership and localism. The vocabulary of “localism” was new to me, but the idea behind it was not. Localism is simply how broadcasters are serving their local community. It’ll be no surprise to readers here that in most cases the media is failing in this regard. more→

Jim Kunstler: Where’s Rico?

In Around the web on April 19, 2010 at 10:38 am


From JIM KUNSTLER

It’s interesting and instructive to read The New York Times‘ lead story this morning, Top Goldman Leaders Said to Have Overseen Mortgage Unit. While it pretends to report all the particulars of the huge scandal growing out of Friday’s SEC action against Goldman Sachs, the story really comes off as an attempt to create an alibi for the so-called “bank.” It pretends that some kind of an intellectual struggle was going on among GS executives as to whether the housing market was doing just fine or poised to tank — therefore muddling the company’s intent in setting up investment deals based on sketchy mortgages designed to blow up so that a favored big customer, John Paulson, could collect on the deal insurance known as credit default swaps.

The truth is that anyone with half a brain could see the securitized mortgage fiasco coming from ten-thousand miles away. I said as much in Chapter Six (“Running on Fumes: the Hallucinated Economy”) of my book The Long Emergency, which was published in 2005 but written well before that in 2002-4. And I had had no work experience whatsoever in banking generally or Wall Street investment banking in particular.

One week before the SEC action against GS, the Pro Publica website published a story about virtually the same kind of mischief being run out of the Chicago-based hedge fund Magnetar led by a clever young fellow named Alec Litowitz. Like Goldman Sachs, Magnetar deliberately constructed investments (bundles of bundled mortgage-backed securities called collateralized debt obligations) that were certain to fail so that Magnetar could collect on credit default swaps that amounted to a bet against products they themselves had participated in creating. There was no question that Litowitz and his employees did this absolutely on purpose. Nor is there any question that they aggressively sold positions in these CDOs to credulous investors like Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and others.

More at CF Nation
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Driven to Destruction – The Streetcar Conspiracy

In Around the web on April 19, 2010 at 9:31 am

From JIM MOSS
FireDogLake

Driven to Destruction is a series outlining how America became so dependent on the personal automobile, and how we must break this dependency if we want to create a sustainable way of life for future generations.

The second installment of Driven to Destruction outlined how advertising trends have created a mystique-based car culture that is very difficult to transform. For 100 years, commercials from auto and oil companies have helped create a national ethos in which the automobile is king. But clever advertising is far from being the only culprit. Our love affair with our cars has also been fueled by the devious actions of a few major corporations – most notably General Motors.

The PBS documentary “Taken For a Ride” describes how the once ubiquitous electric streetcar was driven into the ground by the automobile. It wasn’t a fair fight:

When you’re talking about public transportation in America, for the first part of this century, you’re talking about streetcars. Trolleys ran on most major avenues every few minutes.

In 1922, only one American in ten owned an automobile. Everyone else used rail. At that time Alfred P. Sloan (President, General Motors) said, ‘Wait a minute, this is a great opportunity. We’ve got 90 percent of the market out there that we can somehow turn into automobile users. If we can eliminate the rail alternatives, we will create a new market for our cars. And if we don’t, then General Motors’ sales are just going to remain level.’

Sloan had the idea that he wanted to somehow motorize all the major cities in the country…. More at FireDogLake
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An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People From Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military

In !ACTION CENTER! on April 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

From JOSH STIEBER and ETHAN McCORD
Thanks to Linda Gray

Iraq veteran Josh Stieber was deployed to Baghdad with Bravo Company 2-16. (Written with Ethan McCord, who pulled injured children from van in Wikileaks ‘Collateral Murder’ video)

Peace be with you.

To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the “Collateral Murder” Wikileaks video→:

We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses. We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize what we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.

We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.

We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and carried out in the name of “god and country”. The soldier in video said that your husband shouldn’t have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.

More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.

Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the value of our nation’s leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won’t lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation’s importance pales in comparison to our common humanity. With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask.

Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.

Solemnly and Sincerely,

Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army
~~

Green Manifesto in UK Adds ‘Radical Change’ to Message of ‘Hope’

In Around the web on April 17, 2010 at 7:22 am

From MICHAEL McCARTHY
The Independent/UK via Common Dreams

‘Robin Hood’ tax policies put redistribution on equal footing with saving planet

… The Green Party launched a manifesto yesterday, openly promising to take quite enormous sums from the rich and hand them over to the poor. [See Thom Hartmann's The Great Tax Con Job. -DS]

The party that for the past 20 years has put the planet first has found a fierce new focus to sit alongside its environmental concern: social justice and inequality. Yesterday it set out an eye-popping programme of redistributive taxation that would have been considered radical even by Old Labour at its most extreme period in the early Eighties. To pay for a wide range of benefits for people on lower incomes, the Greens in government would seek to raise £73bn in new taxation right away, rising to £112bn in 2013, and increasing the tax take as a share of national income by 25 per cent in just four years. This would come from large hikes in income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, financial transaction tax and a permanent tax on bankers’ bonuses. The Greens would also increase taxes on motoring, flying, cigarettes and alcohol.

However, 87 per cent of the population would be better off under the Green soak-the-rich regime, the party claimed, as in return the public would be offered much higher pensions, higher minimum wages, free home insulation, free social care for the elderly, big tax breaks for people on lower incomes and reopened local post offices – not to mention large-scale improvements in public transport with renationalised railways, the scrapping of the Trident nuclear missile system, and a radical regime for fighting climate change. more→

Todd Walton: Carma

In Guest Posts on April 17, 2010 at 7:08 am

From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley

(This article originally appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser: April 2010)

Yesterday a tree fell on our car. Fortunately no one was in the car when the wind snapped the top third off the pine tree and a thousand pounds of soon-to-be firewood fell twenty feet though the crystalline springtime air and smashed the roof, the windshield, and the hood of our dearly beloved cello-toting 1996 Toyota Corolla wagon.

We had just gone for a brief spin in our old pickup truck, eschewing the wagon because she was low on gas, and I had just said to Marcia regarding the formidable westerly winds, “This is a trees-falling-on-power-lines kind of day if I’ve ever seen one.” Upon our return from the spin, there was Zephyr (so named in a fit of poesy when I bought her five years ago) half-buried under the glossy needles and sappy timber of the former upper reaches of a quasi-stunted pine doing his best to survive in that nutrient-stingy soil known hereabouts as Pygmy. The bottom two-thirds of the still-living tree loomed over the wreckage; the scene only lacking a raven perched on the stub cawing, “Nevermore.”

We were in shock. When we got married two plus years ago we not only exchanged rings, we exchanged cars. I needed a pickup for pruning jobs and toting manure, Marcia needed a zippy little car for the aforementioned cello toting and friend toting in all sorts of weather. Now Zephyr was totaled. Marcia immediately called AAA and within the hour we were on our way to Fort Bragg to pick up her rental car so the cello toting could continue unabated. Say what you will about the decline and fall of the American Empire, if one has comprehensive auto insurance, the system will seamlessly keep you rolling along. Now if only health insurance would work so seamlessly when trees, as it were, fall on your health. more→

ukiaHaiku Festival Tomorrow, Sunday, April 18, Ukiah Civic Center, 1:30-4 p.m.

In Around Mendo Island on April 17, 2010 at 6:58 am

From KATE MARIANCHILD
Ukiah

early spring–
ukiah sprouts
haiku and taiko

Suspense is building with the approach of the Eighth Annual ukiaHaiku Festival and Awards Ceremony. The poems have been written and submitted, the judges have made their decisions, and the best is yet to come: the opportunity for the community to spend an afternoon basking in the haiku form of poetry. The ukiaHaiku festival and Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 18, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue. The thunderous sounds of Yokayo Taiko will drum the festival to life beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the courtyard by the fountain; the indoor ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

Taiko drumming is a poetically perfect way to usher in a haiku festival because both haiku and taiko are art forms that originated in Japan. “Taiko” is actually the Japanese word for drum, but in North America it also refers to ensemble drumming using Japanese drums. The eleven members of the Yokayo Taiko ensemble, directed by Jennifer Ung, will perform “Taiko Train”, “Renshu” (Practice), “Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi and Isamigoma” (Leaping Dragon and Brave Horse), and “Iwai” (Celebration), written by Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan. Poets and audience members are encouraged to arrive early to experience the spine-tingling drumbeats of Yokayo Taiko. (Rain will cancel the drumming because it would damage the drums).

The indoor portion of the program will begin at 2 p.m. with brief remarks by Mayor Benj Thomas and Poet Laureate Theresa Whitehill. Winning poets from age 6 to 66+ will then read their poems aloud to an appreciative audience and receive their awards. A reception with refreshments will follow, during which audience members will have the opportunity to scan many of the fine poems that did not make the final cut and learn more about the Japanese art of origami, or paper folding. more→

Richard Heinberg: Peak Oil Bombshell

In Around the web on April 16, 2010 at 7:18 am

From RICHARD HEINBERG
Santa Rosa
Energy Bulletin

According to an article in Le Monde on March 25, the U.S. Department of Energy “admits that ‘a chance exists that we may experience a decline’ of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 ‘if the investment is not there.’” This bombshell emerged in “an exclusive interview with Glen Sweetnam, main official expert on the oil market in the Obama administration.”

The Le Monde article goes on: “The DoE dismisses the ‘peak oil’ theory, which assumes that world crude oil production should irreversibly decrease in a nearby future, in want of sufficient fresh oil reserves yet to be exploited. The Obama administration supports the alternative hypothesis of an ‘undulating plateau.’ Lauren Mayne, responsible for liquid fuel prospects at the DoE, explains : ‘Once maximum world oil production is reached, that level will be approximately maintained for several years thereafter, creating an undulating plateau. After this plateau period, production will experience a decline.‘”

In other words, we don’t believe that world oil production will soon reach a maximum and begin to decline (the “peak oil theory”); instead, we believe that world oil production will reach a maximum, stay there for a few years, and then decline. That decline could commence as soon as next year.

Two comments: First, what’s the difference? Is this just a way to announce Peak Oil without acknowledging it? more→

Wendell Berry: Home Economics

In Books on April 16, 2010 at 7:15 am

From WENDELL BERRY
Exerpts from Home Economics (1987)

The small family farm is one of the last places—where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker—and some farmers still do talk about “making the crops” — is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfillment of physical need…

The family farm is failing because the pattern it belongs to is failing, and the principal reason for this failure is the universal adoption, by our people and our leaders alike, of industrial values, which are based on three assumptions:

1. That value equals price — that the value of a farm, for example, is whatever it would bring on sale, because both a place and its price are “assets.” There is no essential difference between farming and selling a farm.
2. That all relations are mechanical. That a farm, for example, can be used like a factory, because there is no essential difference between a farm and a factory.
3. That the sufficient and definitive human motive is competitiveness — that a community, for example, can be treated like a resource or a market, because there is no difference between a community and a resource or a market… more→

Tim Stelloh: Unsolved Deaths & Disappearances on the Mendo Coast

In Around Mendo Island on April 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm

From TIM STELLOH
TheAVA.com

Though lightly populated and scenic as a Kinkade painting, the Mendo Coast is–at times, anyway–as sinister, violent and lawless as the rest of this county. Below is an index of the area’s unsolved deaths, attempted murders, disappearances and questionable classifications–along with links to AVA coverage and websites with relevant info.

Jeanne Huckins

Huckins, 63, was found dead in the garage of her Fort Bragg home in January 2010–the victim of a gunshot wound. Though her death was officially labeled suicide, police now say they’re awaiting new evidence from the Department of Justice and that they recently received “good information” from Huckins’ friends, who have doubted the suicide classification.

Click here to read our coverage of her death.

Katlyn Long

Long, 22, died of a methadone overdose in the basement of her parent’s home near Fort Bragg in May 2008. Her ex-boyfriend was with her at the time of her death, but he’s yet to tell detectives what happened. Police forwarded the case to the DA’s office but no one has been charged.

Click here to read our coverage of the case, or here for a website devoted to Long’s memory.

Victoria Horstman

Horstman grew up around Fort Bragg and was heavily involved with the cops’ efforts in the mid-90s to lock up her husband, John Dalton, for growing pot. Her body was found floating in the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana three years ago. There were no signs of injury, and the medical examiner classified her death as “undetermined.”

To read our coverage of Horstman–and John Dalton–click here. More at TheAVA.com
~~

House of Cards: How Money Flows from the Poor to the Rich

In Around the web on April 15, 2010 at 8:40 pm

From DAVE POLLARD (March 2006)
How To Save The World blog

On a couple of occasions, I’ve tried to explain the vulnerability and unsustainability of our over-leveraged, debt-dependent, consumption-dependent economy.While Jon Husband was visiting with me today, he talked about the power of visualizations, and I decided it might be easier to explain this with a chart… Here’s its explanation:

The economy depends fundamentally on the ‘consumer’ activities of taxpayers, and specifically on the willingness and ability of taxpayers to spend their money on real estate (flow 1), taxes and user fees (2), and the purchase of (now mostly overpriced, imported) products (3). The spending on real estate (1) drives up real estate prices, providing increased collateral to consumer lenders (4), allowing these lenders to loan ever-more money to taxpayers (5). This creates a self-perpetuating Real Estate Cycle (flows 1, 4, 5) that produces the Two Income Trap.

The taxes and user fees paid by ordinary taxpayers (2) fund large tax cuts to rich taxpayers (6) which are rewarded by campaign contributions to ‘friendly’ politicians (7), so that a Campaign Funding Cycle (flows 2, 6, 7) is created.

Keep reading on Pollard’s blog
~~

Interactive Seasonal Ingredient Map

In Around the web on April 15, 2010 at 9:00 am


From EPICURIOUS

Use the interactive map here to see what’s fresh in your area, plus find ingredient descriptions, shopping guides, recipes, and tips.
~~

Michael Laybourn: An update on PG&E Proposition 16

In Around the web on April 15, 2010 at 8:30 am

From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

An update on the Proposition 16 initiative, which PG&E has written and managed to get on the June ballot. The initiative is called “Two-Thirds Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers Act” and is a Constitutional Amendment that thwarts ANY attempts at local public power. Officially the bill is sponsored by “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote”, which labels itself as “A Coalition Of Taxpayers, Environmentalists, Renewable Energy, Business And Labor”.  Which is not true. It is a coalition of one. PG&E has said they are willing to spend 35 – 40 million dollars to pass this law and Proposition 16 is completely self-funded.

PG&E wants to lock its monopoly advantage into the State Constitution, not wanting any competition.

Marin County and San Francisco, both have created public power authorities because they wanted more green power than PG&E was offering, took the case to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) after PG&E illegally threatened not to deliver power to them. Here is what happened:

PG&E must stop threats to public power agencies
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010
California energy regulators delivered a rare rebuke to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Thursday, banning some of the hardball tactics the utility has used in its efforts to derail Marin County’s new public power agency. Although the move by the California Public Utilities Commission didn’t go as far as some PG&E critics wanted, it could have great significance as other communities – most notably, San Francisco – try to enter the electricity business. “It’s really just a slap on the wrist, but it’s a very important slap,” said San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, one of the key proponents of a public power agency in the city. more→

The Suburbanization of Poverty

In Around the web on April 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

From Brookings Institution

An analysis of the location of poverty in America, particularly in the nation’s 95 largest metro areas in 2000, 2007, and 2008 reveals that:

  • By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country. Between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s largest metro areas saw their poor population grow by 25 percent—almost five times faster than primary cities and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities. As a result, by 2008 large suburbs were home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall.
  • Midwestern cities and suburbs experienced by far the largest poverty rate increases over the decade. Led by increasing poverty in auto manufacturing metro areas—like Grand Rapids and Youngstown—Midwestern city and suburban poverty rates climbed 3.0 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively. At the same time, Northeastern metros—led by New York and Worcester— actually saw poverty rates in their primary cities decline, while collectively their suburbs experienced a slight increase.
  • In 2008, 91.6 million people—more than 30 percent of the nation’s population—fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. More individuals lived in families with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of poverty line (52.5 million) than below the poverty line (39.1 million) in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, large suburbs saw the fastest growing low-income populations across community types and the greatest uptick in the share of the population living under 200 percent of poverty.
  • Western cities and Florida suburbs were among the first to see the effects of the “Great Recession” translate into significant increases in poverty between 2007 and 2008. more→

Organic Farming Opens a Way for Farmers to Return to Their Proper Role as Innovators and Stewards of the Land

In Around the web on April 14, 2010 at 8:38 am

From OLGA BONFIGLIO
CommonDreams.org

“There seems to be three ways for a nation to acquire wealth: the first is by war…this is robbery; the second by commerce, which is generally cheating; the third by agriculture, the only honest way.” Benjamin Franklin

The twenty-first century’s uncertainty about the future abounds with predicaments like climate change, depletion of our water resources, and the end of cheap energy. And farmers are being called upon to assume a new role as innovators and stewards of the land because they know how to produce food.

“Farmers were the true founders of the United States,” said Lisa Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness, “because they went out into the wild and built the first structures and communities that eventually became our cities and the nation.” In 1800, 90 percent of Americans were farmers.

She spoke recently at the 21st Annual Conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held in La Crosse, Wisc.

By 1900 after the frontier closed and the nation moved from an agricultural to an industrial economy, the percentage of farmers dropped to almost 40 percent. That’s also when farmers began to shift in their role from “citizens” to “producers.”

And they have been rebelling ever since over land and crop prices and agricultural policies, said Hamilton.

“They weren’t looking to change the system; they only wanted their fair share of the wealth.” more→

The Homeless Modern

In Around the web on April 13, 2010 at 9:27 am

From FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC

In 1848 Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of “the approaching irresistible and universal spread of democracy throughout the world.” Since his time the drumbeat has quickened, and with the fall of the Soviet Union the ultimate triumph of democracy seemed inevitable. In his 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argued that liberal democracy really is the final historical step in the development of political thought and practice. The fact that so much of the world today seems either to be embracing democracy outright, or taking faltering steps toward it, or at least paying lip service to it suggests to many that Fukuyama was right, and all that is left is merely a mopping-up operation.

Of course, the smooth highway to universal democracy encountered a serious obstacle on September 11, 2001. It would seem that not all the world shares the same dream. In fact, if the rhetoric is to be believed, the very freedoms that we in the West cherish as essential to a good life are just those that Islamic militants see as the source of Western decadence. With patriotic pride, we instinctively object. But with dispassionate reflection, we can see that the Islamist rhetoric may point to at least a shadow of the truth. If liberty is not directed toward a common good that transcends arbitrary will—even if it is the will of a vast majority—then it eventually descends into a libertinism that is ultimately destructive to society.

This raises important questions: Is it really true that democracy is a stable system that can, on its own terms, perpetuate its freedoms? Is it really true, as the end-of-history theorists claim, that democracy satisfies our basic need for “recognition”? If so, why do so many citizens in the most democratic society in the world behave as if something is amiss? Tocqueville noted the “strange melancholy often haunting” the Americans. This sense of longing is not explicit and generally has no definite object. It is, rather, an underlying dissatisfaction that today manifests itself in a variety of ways: restless mobility, consumerism, frenzied sexuality, substance abuse, therapy, and boredom… Read the rest here (pdf).
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A youngster to us geezers: “Take a hike.”

In Around the web on April 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

From “VK”
The Automatic Earth

I was thinking of writing something about the age of consequences that we have entered. With the world going all topsy turvy and unending chaos. I wanted to write something about the decline of complexity, an age of payback or blowback but before I do that, I reckon I want to thank the old farts who got us here. I mean the baby boomers -and gen X’ers to some extent-. No really, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart from Gen Y. It is not even conceivable how ridiculously spoilt the boomers and Gen X’ers are.

You had everything, and you give us nothing. Now that’s a gift worth giving isn’t it?

Where to begin on the gifts that just keep taking from us. You saddle us with your debt burdens, your legacy costs. You use our names and paint little bullseyes on our dreams and hopes and shatter them with the gift of debt. Trillions upon trillions you’ve saddled upon us to save your McMansions, your stocks, your portfolios and your yachts. Thanks for that.

Youth unemployment across much of Europe and the US is hovering between 20-25% with Spain at 45%. This doesn’t even count underemployment, where the youth have been even worse hit. Unemployment and underemployment among young people could be as high as 40-50% in much of the world. So you gift us with debt as well as with no jobs and low wages!

Why do I feel like a PhD in Greece who’s serving fat tourists on a beach earning €700 a month, or maybe the Italian kids who can’t afford to buy their own house or maybe the Australian kid who was sold out by his government into buying houses that (s)he can’t even afford, in an effort to prop up ridiculously over-valued home prices. Or maybe it was the American kid who got out of college with a huge debt burden and now can’t find a job or even get a start in life because of your reckless greed and exuberance to party. Thank you, you’re so kind and gentle and giving.

more→

Nine Myths About Socialism In The US

In Around the web on April 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm

From BILL QUIGLEY
CommonDreams.org

Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires are claiming that the US is hot on the path towards socialism. Part of their claim is that the US is much more generous and supportive of our working and poor people than other countries. People may wish it was so, but it is not.

As Senator Patrick Moynihan used to say “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.”

The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and poor people compared to other countries.

Consider the US in comparison to the rest of the 30 countries that join the US in making up the OECD – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable European countries but also include some struggling countries like Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Turkey. See http://www.oecd.org

When you look at how the US compares to these 30 countries, the hot air myths about the US government going all out towards socialism sort of disappear into thin air. Here are some examples of myths that do not hold up.

Myth #1. The US government is involved in class warfare attacking the rich to lift up the poor.

There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10% in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10% in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. more→

Cookbook Review: In The Green Kitchen – Alice Waters

In Around the web on April 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm

From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

Friday, Bill and I ventured to Berkeley where we had a lunch reservation at our favorite restaurant, Chez Panisse. I truly love the café, the cheaper alternative to the very posh upstairs restaurant.

Simple is the way it is, but Waters’ version of simple: white tablecloths covered with white butcher paper, flatware that is perfectly weighted so it doesn’t slip out of your hand, simple plates that are always spotless, servers– several who I recognized from previous visits.

The décor is craftsman with a big touch of Frank Lloyd Wright in the fixtures and furniture. The walls have posters of the old Marcel Pagnol movies, Cesar, Fanny and Marius. I have a sentimental nostalgic feeling for a life I did not live in Marseille about 100 years ago so the posters take me there. And I imagine what Cesar, Fanny and Marius ate in their little bistro/bar, anticipating the café food.

Waters’ cookbooks are things of beauty. The best known is probably Chez Panisse Vegetables, published in 1996. The color linocut images are gorgeous. The recipes are arranged alphabetically and according to season so that if you find perfect red and yellow peppers in the fall, you just might want to make pizza with them.

But I digress. In the Green Kitchen goes in a different direction. Thirty cooks contributed recipes that they use in their home cooking. There is no fussy food to be found here. The recipes mostly illustrate basic techniques, but with flair and lots of herbs. Examples of really simple stuff are a Cherry tomato & tofu salad, which, Waters informs us, “applies traditional Asian flavorings and methods to the foods of this continent.” more→

Transformation

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 11, 2010 at 8:45 pm




From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley

(This memoir first appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser April 2010)

I have read a great deal about dreams and dreaming, and whether you believe dreams are communications from the astral plane or meaningless imagery resulting from cerebral out gassing, they can certainly remind us of people and places and things we have successfully avoided thinking about for the longest time.

I recently dreamt of being in high school again, and of a transformative moment in my less than excellent adventure there. My dream was a fair enactment of the event from my junior year, though the dream ended differently than the so-called real event.

I was a disinterested student suffering from the sudden onset of chronic pain in my lower back that ended my official athletic career in a heartbreaking twinkling. Verbally precocious, I was enrolled in Advanced English wherein my teachers persistently failed to see the genius behind my sloppy prose. In class discussions I invariably scored points with my classmates for wit and irony and double entendre while merely annoying my sadly average instructors on whom subtly and originality were invariably lost. Or so it seemed to my arrogant teenager’s mind.

My English teacher for my third year of incarceration was a very sad woman who never relaxed. Not in our presence. Ever. I will call her Mrs. R. She trembled when she spoke, as if she feared lightning would strike her for pontificating about things she clearly knew nothing about. She was not inherently stupid, but her anxiety rendered her so. more→

Ike Heinz: Ukiah Landfill biggest air-polluter. Do we want more of it?

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

From IKE HEINZ
Ukiah

A new attempt to rethink Ukiah’s waste stream

In reference to the Ukiah Daily Journal article 3/26 (see article below), the city staff is taking the first steps towards a disaster in planning to open this site again. The Landfill at the present condition has no space to deposit more garbage. Toxic landfill gas is emanating constantly unused into the air with no installation to flare off the gas. 300 cubic feet of landfill gas per minute and neighbors protest.

The State Waste board and water board are not aware of any new applications for reopening the site and outstanding requests are still pending.

All of our good counsel from the Landfill Gas Task Force has fallen so far on blocked ears. This issue was presented to the city council in one form or another since 2001. We produced a feasibility report stating usable gas till 2023. We made a DVD film of Sonoma County’s Central Landfill with city staff visiting this 10 megawatt electric power production site, operating since 1993. Additional gas is used as CNG, fuelling  36 County busses.

In January 2010 we submitted a proposal to the Ukiah City Council and the County sanitation board in regards to available technology, to make use of waste water bio-solids with gasification. Landfill gas could be added at the same time and the proposal received no response.

We are recommending a different approach to the waste stream cost. Neglect to sort will cost you more!

Promote Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.
more→

Movie Review: From Japan, Elegant (And Eloquent) ‘Departures’

In Around the web, Books on April 10, 2010 at 7:14 am

From BOB MONDELLO
NPR

Departures explores distinctly Japanese questions about class and culture, but it’s entertaining enough to appeal to a global audience. [Recommended by Darca Nicholson, we recently rented from Netflix and loved this little gem. -DS]

If there was one real surprise at this year’s Academy Awards, it was the winner for Best Foreign Language Film. The front-runner was widely thought to be the Israeli war movie Waltz with Bashir — but the Oscar went to Departures, a Japanese film that hadn’t yet opened in the U.S.

The brainchild of its leading actor, onetime boy-band member Masahiro Motoki, Departures turns out to be a delightful surprise, at once an engaging dramedy and an eloquent social statement about … well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

When a Tokyo orchestra goes bankrupt, its cellist, a young sad sack named Daigo (Motoki) finds himself unable to support the big-city lifestyle to which he and his wife are just becoming accustomed. So they move to his rural hometown, where he starts a job search.

There’s no orchestra to work for, but an ad offering a career “working with departures” sounds promising; the travel industry intrigues him. So he arranges an interview and, to his surprise, is hired almost before he sits down. At a high salary, too.

There is, however, a catch: The word “departures” in the ad was a misprint. The job involves working with the departed — the dearly departed. As in, Daigo will be preparing bodies for cremation.

He’s about to flee the interview when the boss offers him his first day’s salary and suggests he try the job for a bit and see. more→

Pinky Kushner: Here is what I’m sick about…

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

From PINKY KUSHNER
Ukiah

Sometimes, it’s important to take positions on little items as well as big ones.  This week at City Hall, the Ukiah City Council voted 3-1 (with one absence) to go forward with a plan to re-configure the municipal pools at Todd Grove Park (see UDJ article below).   The decision was regrettable and needs to be reversed for three primary reasons:

It is fiscally irresponsible for the City, because the re-configuration, although partially funded by a State grant, will cost the City $450,000, which it does not have.

It is a decision that was not made democratically since it was made during winter months and was not posted on the pool itself and did not involve people who use the municipal pools regularly.

It is an unreasonable use of State money for recreational facilities because the re-configuration reduces the available pool area by nearly 50%, thus reducing recreational access not enhancing it.

The agenda item can be found on the City’s website at http://www.cityofukiah.com/pdf/city_hall10/ccitem10g_040710.pdf

A letter that I sent prior to last night’s meeting is copied below.   I plan to appeal this decision in any way that I can.   How can I fight for the earth and ignore my own backyard?

April 5, 2010

City Council Members
City of Ukiah
Ukiah, CA

more→

Behind Obama’s Cool

In Around the web, Books on April 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

From NYT

In 2004, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois attended a White House event wearing the campaign pin of her state’s candidate for the United States Senate. When she saw President Bush do a double take at the one word on her pin, she assured him that it spelled “Obama,” not “Osama.” Bush shrugged: “I don’t know him.” She answered, “You will.” Not long after this, Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, and many people suddenly knew him. It happened so fast that he seemed to come out of nowhere. The truth was more intriguing — he had come out of everywhere.

His multiple points of origin made him adaptable to any situation. What could have been a source of confusion or uncertain identity he meant to turn into an overwhelming advantage. As he told a Chicago Reader interviewer in 2000:

“My experience being able to walk into a public-housing development and turn around and walk into a corporate boardroom and communicate effectively in either venue means that I’m more likely to be able to build the kinds of coalitions and craft the sort of message that appeals to a broad range of people.”

David Remnick, in this exhaustively researched life of Obama before he became president, quotes many interviews in which Obama made the same or similar points. Accused of not being black enough, he could show that he has more direct ties to Africa than most ­African-Americans have… More at NYT
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Take Action: Credit Unions

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on April 9, 2010 at 9:03 am

A Call to Action from Redwood Credit Union President & CEO Brett Martinez

As a Member and owner of Redwood Credit Union (RCU), your voice is vital on issues related to your Credit Union, our industry and on financial matters that can affect you and your fellow Members. As our nation begins to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Congress is considering legislation that will significantly impact credit unions, and you can help.

  • In recent years, credit unions have excelled at providing much-needed financing to local small businesses. In your community, Redwood Credit Union was recently ranked the #1 SBA lender in the greater North Bay.
  • Currently, credit unions are restricted in the amount of business loans we can make. Meanwhile, many large and mid-sized banks have not extended credit lines or enhanced their business lending—even after receiving taxpayer funds to do so.
  • Congress has introduced two key pieces of legislation to increase the existing lending cap. If Congress passes this legislation, RCU and other credit unions will lend to more small businesses, aid in job creation, and help improve our local economies.

The vote by Congress is likely to occur soon, so please take a moment now to let your Representatives know you support this legislation that would lift the business lending cap on credit unions. more→

Blast from the Past: Scott and Helen Nearing

In Around the web on April 8, 2010 at 8:57 am


Simple Food and the Good Life
Published: September 9, 1981
NYT

[For many of us in the sixties and seventies, the Nearings represented models of how we wanted to live: simply, self-sufficiently, independent from the corporate world we had grown up in. Mendocino was (and is) well stocked with Nearing acolytes. Only much later did I learn that Helen was a "bond baby" who received monthly checks from Standard Oil. Oh well, oil wells... not so simple... Beautiful  lives, just the same. Speaking of which: National Treasures in person→  -DS]

From LORNA J. SASS

”Live hard not soft; eat hard not soft; seek fiber in foods and in life.” For the five decades that Helen and Scott Nearing have been homesteading in Vermont and Maine, they have made a concerted effort to live by that philosophy, which is the guiding principle of Helen Nearing’s recent book, ”Simple Food for the Good Life” (Delacorte, $12.95).

Back in 1932, when the Nearings fled to an old farmhouse in the Green Mountains, they considered themselves pioneers. They wrote about the satisfactions and rewards of living off the land in a book called ”Living the Good Life,” first published in 1954. Before long, they became the symbolic leaders of generations of homesteaders in a movement back to the land that still seems to be gaining momentum.

More at NYT
~~

Scottish Fiddler Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas in Ukiah this Saturday 4/10/10

In Around Mendo Island on April 8, 2010 at 8:32 am

From SPENCER BREWER

This Saturday, April 10th at 7:30pm at the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse in Ukiah, Ukiahjoel and Spencer Brewer present a special return engagement with the world famous fiddle legend Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas for one performance. Last year this famous team performed to a full hall in Ukiah with multiple standing ovations…… this is not a concert to be missed!  This year for the first time, they will also be offering a fiddle/cello master class as well!

The fiddle/cello master class will be held the same day at the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse from 2:00 to 4:30. Admission for the workshop is only $25. For more information or to sign-up go to ukiahmusic.com.

“Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced. [His] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene.” —SCOTS Magazine

Scottish fiddle legend Alasdair Fraser and cello artist Natalie Haas team up to make some of the richest, most exhilarating music imaginable. more→

Farming for the Future (Video)

In Around the web on April 7, 2010 at 7:07 am

From Documentary-Log.com
Thanks to Linda Gray

Watch it here

[After college and an early career as a nature photographer, daughter comes back to the traditional cow and sheep farm in Devon where she grew up. Her father, who calls their work "glorified lavatory attendants," and uncle, are still farming it long after they should have retired. Her friends tell her to sell it and get on with her life, but she wants to preserve the nature that is still abundant and thriving there.

She knows that the farm will have to change to survive, and she turns to Colin Campbell and Santa Rosan Richard Heinberg, Peak Oil experts, to understand what the future will bring; and then explores sustainable alternatives she (and we) could adopt: grass and hedgerow husbandry, Permaculture, and Forest Farming.

A 50-minute, beautifully-made, sobering, yet hopeful documentary, well worth spending time with. -DS]

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Action Alert! Rescue Local/Organic Farming in the Food Safety Bill!

In !ACTION CENTER! on April 6, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Action Alert:

Rescue Local/Organic Farming in the Food Safety Bill!

Urgent—Call your Senator Today

Next week, as early as Tuesday, April 13, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of federal food safety law – S. 510. The House food safety bill passed last year (HR 2749) included several measures that threaten small-scale organic producers, including a registration fee of $500 and blanket application of complicated monitoring and traceability standards — regardless of one’s farm size.

There’s no doubt that industrial agriculture needs better oversight. But, family-scale local and organic farms are probably the safest in the nation — they are part of the solution, not part of the problem — and need to be protected! more→

Julia Child’s Famous Potato Leek Soup (Organic Version)

In Organic Food & Recipes on April 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm

For about 2½ quarts, serving 6 to 8

4 cups sliced organic leeks—the white part and a bit of the tender green
4 cups diced organic potatoes—old or baking potatoes recommended
6 to 7 cups water
1½ to 2 tsp salt, or to taste
½ cup or more organic sour cream, heavy cream, or créme fraîche, optional

Special equipment suggested: A heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan with cover.

Simmering the soup: Bring the leeks, potatoes, and water to a boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cream, taste, and correct seasoning.
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See also: “When you think about it, a breakfast cereal is a bizarre product — there is nothing natural or normal about eating manufactured flakes and puffs created by giant machines in factories, shipped around the world and sealed in plastic for months…” Against breakfast cereal at Energy Bulletin
~
Image Credit: 1961, public domain
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Fox and Republicans Feigning Outrage Is Showbiz. It’s Bull. It’s Bad For Democracy.

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on April 5, 2010 at 8:13 am

From CROOKS AND LIARS

Video here

Rachel Maddow calls bull-pucky on Fox News and the GOP for fake outrage on everything from fake pimp James O’Keefe who helped take ACORN down, to Climate-gate, to recess appointments, to the individual mandate in the health care plan, to Miranda rights, to trials for terrorists, to the birthers to you name it.

She asks “Has there ever been a time where we shared so few political facts?” and after noting that we need some actual serious political discourse in America and how important that is to our democracy adds this:

Two things disqualify you from this process. You can’t threaten to shoot people, and you have to stop making stuff up.

Amen sister. She’s right, the Republicans and their allies in the press should be disqualified from this process for propagandizing the public and for allowing the violent rhetoric coming out of these Tea partiers, Fox News and Republican members of Congress to continue. Until some more of your cohorts in the media are willing to do the same thing you did here, that’s not going to happen. This dangerous nonsense only going to get worse until we get these media monopolies broken up.

We should have hundreds of those like Rachel Maddow, Amy Goodman, Thom Hartmann, Bill Moyers and others out there that everyone that visits this site is well aware of, giving equal weight to liberal voices that there is a market for, but has been suppressed by our corporate media that wants to pretend to play fair while marginalizing those that care more about facts over hype.

I don’t know what it’s going to take to finally get Glenn Beck off of the air or for someone in the GOP to finally tell Michele Bachmann to sit down and shut up but something’s got to give or we’re headed down a very dangerous path with how this all ends. I truly think some of these useful idiots would rather destroy our country than ever stop what they’re doing, and it saddens and terrifies me. I was happy to see Rachel call some of them out for what is just a small portion of how destructive they’ve been to our democracy and our political discourse.
~~

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