Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Don Sanderson: And, My Choice Is ….

In Around the web on May 6, 2010 at 10:34 pm


The Mendocino County supervisor campaign is hot, campaign literature (interviews, blogs, mailings, affairs, sample ballots, …) is beginning to flood upon us, and voters are excitedly choosing sides in that two hundred and more year old celebration of American representative democracy. The affair is becoming so entrancing that we have nearly forgotten the mistaken choices we made in the last election, and the time before, and the time before that, and onward into dim memories of just how disordered and decrepit the whole process is. Not that we ever had real choices, only us humans with all our many pratfalls. Oh, we are told the system is better than any other, so smile and cast your dice. Does it really matter who wins? Oh, yes, you say; we can’t let “them” win this time. Well, maybe, but ….

We hear rumblings that the world economy is failing, especially that of the U.S., especially that of California. But, as perhaps the most in-your-face example, Goldman-Sachs is reporting amazing profits playing with mortgage securities, the stock market, and the petroleum commodities market among others with that bailout money and government guarantees awarded them by our elected representatives; massive employee bonuses are being rewarded. So, we’re told by our representatives that, though it may not have touched Mendocino County yet, the economy is improving and you should thank them in the next election. Social Darwinist survival of the fittest or greediest, as so well promoted by Ayn Rand, is a, perhaps the, dominant force in this country, this culture, as epitomized by Goldman-Sachs and associates; I read that Rand’s still best-selling books have been found in surveys to be only somewhat less influential than the Bible. When will this bubble, which is being funded by Fed funny money, crash? Like the last, this is not all smoke and mirrors? What might you conclude this can this portend for us here in Mendocino County? I’d say, run for cover. more→

Rosalind Peterson: Take Action! Stop the Cap and Trade Ponzi Bill

In !ACTION CENTER! on May 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Redwood Valley

Senators Kerry, Lieberman & Graham are pushing hard to introduce and pass a Climate, Energy, Jobs bill which includes a Cap & Trade Ponzi Scheme (PRI) Pollution Reduction Investment and a carbon tax.

The backroom negotiations are now underway and the banks and Wall Street are drooling over the prospect of the taxpayers being charged in order to enrich their coffers one more time…this is why the banks have been written into this new U.S. Senate Bill.

The U.S. monetary printing press is gearing up to print free offsets and offsets that can be given free to some polluters (others will be required to purchase them), in order to offset their pollution.  Thus, corporate polluters will be engaged in buying and selling the right to pollute.

It is no surprise then the corporations and venture capitalists are looking for carbon offsets around the world to purchase for a pittance in order to offset tons of pollution which they will continue to emit – unregulated for at least seven to the next ten years… Senator Kerry’s new bill will then only required a 10% to 17% reduction by 2017or 2020, of 2005 Emission Levels.  It is a great deal…the new Ponzi Scheme that is going to allow polluters to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense.

The American public will be taxed at all levels, hurting the poor and the working poor, along with the middle class while the banks and Wall Street enrich themselves.  And the polluters get off free with their offsets from every imaginable source.   Some of the carbon taxes will go to a private corporation set up under the United Nations… President Obama and Secretary Clinton have agreed to fund this corporation at $100 Billion per year.  The lie about all of this is that the carbon taxes will be returned to the people… no such luck… by the time one reads the bill one will understand that there will be nothing left at the end except a mere pittance. more→

Transition Towns: Microcosms of Hope

In Around the web, Mendo Island News Service on May 6, 2010 at 8:50 am


The Earth makes us, she shapes us, and if we make the Earth toxic, the Earth makes our bodies toxic… ~Vandana Shiva

…and watch In Transition movie here

See also: Jason Bradford: Healthy Addictions

Learning Reality The Ram Way

In Guest Posts on May 5, 2010 at 7:04 am

The Contrary Farmer

We generally refer to male sheep as bucks in our neck of the woods, but ram is probably a better term since everyone here thinks bucks are football players at Ohio State. Turn your back on a ram and he will plant his head into the small of your back and send you to the nearest chiropractor for the rest of your life. And don’t think you can teach him a lesson by returning the favor with anything short of lethal force. Rams love getting hit in the head. I think it gives them orgasms. The only way you can get any respect is to rap them sharply on the nose with a short, stout stick that you should carry in your pocket when you are in the barn.

When I hear an animal lover who has never had to take daily care of animals criticize the way we husbandmen treat our livestock, I wish that they had to learn reality the ram way. I look with considerable reservations at all those sweet biblical pictures of “good shepherds” who leave the ninety nine behind to go search for the one that is lost. Why are there no pictures of good shepherds getting nailed in the butt by a ram, a scene a whole lot more common? Sheep are never lost. Shepherds just don’t always know where they are.

For some reason, in agrarian cultures, nothing is as funny as seeing a buck send a farm boy flying into a pile of manure. It has happened to all of us who raise sheep. I don’t care how carefully you keep an eye out, the moment you forget and turn your back, BAM. Most of the time no harm is done which I suppose is why it seems so comical (especially if it happens to Dad after he has scolded you for something your sister did). But ram attacks are not funny. Rams can kill humans. So if you are a shepherd new to the business, I am, right now, going to save your life.

More here

Thom Hartmann: Is European socialism bleeding like a stuck PIG? Uh, no.

In Around the web on May 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Thom’s blog

The conservatives are yelling from the rooftops that we are witnessing the slow death of European Socialism due to massive spending on social programs. They say the countries bleeding the most red ink are Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain or the P.I.G.S. of Europe as they are known in financial circles.

Greece has run out of money and is now using German money to prevent total collapse. Portugal may be next followed very closely by Spain. Yet the European countries with some of the most socialist – that is, strong social safety networks – are Germany and Denmark, two countries where things are going just fine.

In Germany, for example, every corporation in the country is required to have half of the members of their board of directors appointed by the union representing the workers of the company – the most corporate-intrusive system in all of Europe. In Denmark, not only are healthcare and education free, but they even pay students a monthly stipend to cover food, housing, and books – all the time they’re in school all the way up to PhD or MD degrees.

So what differentiates Germany and Denmark from Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain? Germany and Denmark never fully drank the so-called “free trade” kool-aid, and thus both have strong manufacturing sectors. Across America you’ll find German cars and Danish wind turbines, as well as across those nations themselves. But walk into any store in Spain, Greece, Ireland, or Portugal and you’ll find row after row of Chinese-made goods.

Twenty years of insane flat-earth free-trade policies have disemboweled the economies of the United States and numerous European countries. The US, for example, has gone from 20% GDP in manufacturing before the election of Reagan to just 11% now. Countries that don’t make things don’t create real wealth, and thus must turn to Goldman Sachs to help them borrow money. more→

How the truth can be twisted by those who seek power, and how the weak can be used

In Books on May 4, 2010 at 10:22 am


The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ

It’s Jesus versus his evil twin (really) in Philip Pullman’s newest.

Philip Pullman is perhaps best known for his trilogy, His Dark Materials, which was written in part to counter the Christian themes in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. (The Golden Compass, the trilogy’s first book, was made into a 2007 film starring Nicole Kidman.) With this new book, Pullman takes on the ultimate icon of Christianity, Jesus Christ himself. In his retelling of the Jesus story, Pullman imagines that twin boys are born to Mary that night in the manger. One, Jesus, goes on to become a challenging and charismatic preacher who attracts the love of his followers and the hatred of the powerful. The other twin, Christ, is a weak and complicated man who ultimately betrays his brother and stages his resurrection. At the behest of a mysterious stranger, Christ also makes a record of what Jesus had done and said, but he embellishes the truth, making Jesus something he is not and interpreting what Jesus means for his future followers — who will become the official church.

At the beginning of this short novel, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, you think you know pretty well where this story is going. Pullman adds some new twists to the well-trod material and you figure that these twins will rather simplistically represent good and bad, darkness and light. But never underestimate the intelligence of Philip Pullman. He is up to something more clever here. He wants to explore how the truth can be twisted by those who seek power, how the weak can be used, how the storyteller can’t help but make a story better, no matter what the consequences. And most of all, this staunch critic of organized religion wants to make a convincing case that a church can be built on lies. It’s an interesting read for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Why the European Way Is the Best Hope for an Insecure Age

In Around the web on May 4, 2010 at 8:17 am

on Democracy Now

[...] But what Europe has managed to do is to figure out how do we harness this ability of capitalism to create wealth, because there’s no question that capitalism creates a lot of wealth, but there’s an outstanding question here of what do we do with that wealth. Whose pockets does that money go into? Europe has figured out a way to harness this wealth and create a more broadly shared prosperity that all of their people enjoy, and even in the midst of an economic crisis like this, whereas the United States, we’re still trying to figure it out. We can’t even figure out how to give healthcare to all our people or to get sixty votes in the United States Senate, you know, where the filibuster has gone wild. So, in many, many ways, Europe is doing fine through this crisis, where we in the United States here are really having difficult times….

…they decided that it was time to quit pouring their nations’ wealth into the military machines they had been and to start pouring it into their people. So a movement emerged for what was called then the “social market economy”—in my book, I call it “social capitalism”—to start taking the resources of their free markets and plowing it back into developing their people, giving things like, for example, free or nearly free university education, which Europe still has today…

…one of the ways in which Europe has really—is really leading the way is on its use of environmental technologies, green technologies, green design, conservation technologies and renewable technologies, that are being implemented in a much more widespread fashion in Europe, to the point where they’ve lowered their ecological footprint, as it’s called, to half that of the United States, even though they have the same standard of living… it has robust economies, it’s figured out how to take that wealth and make it a broadly shared distribution, and do it all in a way that’s as environmentally sustainable as possible.

More here

Honeybees may be in terminal decline

In Around the web on May 4, 2010 at 7:25 am

From The Observer UK
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

The decline of the country’s estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.

Potential causes range from parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods. The disappearance of so many colonies has also been dubbed “Mary Celeste syndrome” due to the absence of dead bees in many of the empty hives. US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem…

More here
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons


Janie Sheppard: Enough Already

In Around the web on May 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Mendocino County

Following the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the recent underground mine disaster in West Virginia, and yet another mine disaster in Kentucky, it now appears that before we “run out” of fossil fuels we will die trying.  All we need now is another nuclear power plant disaster, and because the existing plants are all “on borrowed time”, that will likely happen in the near future.

Unless we come to grips with the dangers to the environment and ourselves, dangers that are inherent in trying to extract oil in deep water, mining under old mines, and handling nuclear materials, these disasters will become a regular feature of our daily existence, if they aren’t already.

What to do?  Tell the big fossil fuel and nuclear interests to back off.  Instead, adopt an energy policy based on conservation, solar energy, and wind energy where it can be done without killing birds.

Enough already with trying to get the last drop of oil, last lump of coal, and last granule of uranium ore out of Mother Earth.

Roasting Tommy Wayne Kramer

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on May 2, 2010 at 9:53 am


Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives —the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change— truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. —Salman Rushdie

I’m not sure why Tom Hine aka Tommy Wayne Kramer still stirs up so much venomous hostility after writing for several years here in Mendocino County. The complaining letters to the editor get particularly interesting when either someone’s personal ox gets gored, or someone already hates the ox and enjoys the goring. I’ve enjoyed my own goring.

Surely someone else has drawn this comparison, so I may be repeating what has already been offered by others, but the way I interpret Tom’s humor is like celebrity roasts. Most of the celebrity roasters and roastees know and love each other, and the better they know each other, the more they are able to hone in on weak spots and really cut to the bone.

I’ve met Tom, and he seems mild-mannered and friendly enough. Much like Bruce Anderson, Publisher/Editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, harmless in person, wicked with the pen. Unlike some of the silly rantings of our more clueless and humorless wingnuts, these are talents, rare and creative, who know and love our community. Our character and strength may be found in how we respond to them.

May they continue to be goring, and never boring.

Doomer Mania

In Around the web on May 2, 2010 at 8:56 am

Thanks to Dave Pollard

Resilience contagion

Recently I wrote about my awakening from doomer porn stupor. This week, I would like to talk about positives in the doomer community. Stuff that keeps me hanging in with this at times panic stricken, over-the-top folk.

There are two good things I can think of off hand. First, the doomer community is past denial and awake. They see the clusterfuck of crises heading our way and don’t flinch. It can be pretty cool to hang out with people who do not require tutoring or persuasion regarding the predicaments we face. I fit well enough with doomer beliefs: that peak oil is pretty much upon us, that there are a number of crises converging upon humanity at the same time, climatic vagaries are in the offing, that human population has reached overshoot and is consuming its children’s tomorrows, that a growth-based economic system is unsustainable and absurd, that industrial agriculture is a ludicrously damaging and inefficient way to eke out our sustenance, and that complex systems eventually reach a point of diminishing returns and must simplify. I don’t see any of this as particularly controversial, and I appreciate being part of a community of people who keep on clarifying and growing in understanding past these basics.

The second good thing is… a lot of doomers are doing something interesting, useful and catching. Whether learning to keep chickens, putting food up, cultivating old timey skills, or starting local currencies and barter, doomers have a lot of nifty projects going, projects that will, in a pinch, come very handy. They are learning and sharing skills and ways of being useful at any time life must pull back and decomplexify… and it looks like that time is now…

more here
See also Lentil As Anything, a chain of restaurants in Australia founded on the principle of generosity, where clientèle pay what they can afford or wish to pay, by making a contribution in a “magic box” after their meal here


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