Why Are You So In Love With Green Smoothies?


From GREENSMOOTHIEGIRL.com

If you do just ONE thing to improve your family’s health, make it green smoothies! Believe it or not, kids WILL drink it, and you will be surprised that you enjoy them and even learn to crave them. Don’t let the name put you off—I make them look more purple than green, with a magic ingredient called frozen mixed berries!

You can read Victoria Boutenko’s book, Green For Life, for comprehensive overview of why this is so important. I had three people in a one-week period recommend the book to me, and I’ve learned from past experience to sit up and listen when things happen to me in threes! (Actually, I’m getting smarter and now follow through when I hear something TWICE.) Her research of people drinking green smoothies yielded 100 percent positive reviews, with the top three health benefits being better digestion/elimination, more energy, and weight loss!

I’ve written a book review as a summary and motivation for you to start making them. And included in my recipes is my a master template for green smoothies that you can adapt to various greens and fruit for variety. It’s easy, it takes 10 minutes of my day, and it’s the highest and best use of my kitchen time!

Who eats a big plate of plain, raw, kale, collards, spinach and celery? Mustard greens, arugula, turnip greens, dandelion greens, beet greens, and chard don’t end up in too many salads. Just the time to chew it would be half an hour (oh, and the chopping)! They’re a regular feature in my green smoothies every day. My kids drink a pint every day, and you can make it ahead and stick it in the frig. And, in a smoothie, you don’t have to drizzle them with fattening, chemical-laden salad dressings to get them down.

You won’t believe how much green food it has in it: chlorophyll and a powerhouse of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Unlike a juicer (which makes such a mess and throws away much of the plant), green smoothie is packed with insoluble plant fiber capable of carrying many times its own weight in toxins out of the body. Drinking a quart a day addresses what I believe is the #1 deficit in the American diet: lack of leafy greens. (And I am NOT talking about iceberg lettuce, an essentially nutrition-free food.) A close second deficit is lack of overall plant fiber in the diet, but eating green smoothies addresses that, too.

More here.
~
See also Just try ‘em – Organic Green Smoothies
~~

Some First Steps


From THE OIL DRUM

[...] So how do we start down this necessary path? First, let’s start with a few things we cannot do — some doors that are now closed to us due to our decades of profligate resource destruction.

Firstly, anything requiring significant amounts of energy is out of the question. The era of cheap, abundant fossil energy is behind us — forever. Despite repeated warnings from our best scientists, we failed to make the transition to renewables in time. Now it’s too late. Every year from now on will afford us less and less energy — possibly significantly less in the coming years.

Secondly, anything requiring significant amounts of money in the form of credit is out of the question. In a future of a continually-declining resource base, there is simply no such thing as economic growth, and thus no credit. Basically, we play with what material resources we have at this point — which is a lot less than we used to.

But enough with the negatives — let’s start with some concrete positive steps that we can accomplish. I can think of three that deserve our immediate attention:

1. I see no more crucial place to start than with food and our country’s food-security. We will change both the way we grow food and the food we eat. We will create more small local farms, more small farmers, more ecologically-sane fertilization methods, more seed saving and exchanging, more farmers markets and CSAs. We will grow food on our city’s rooftops, windowsills, and front stoops. We will grow food in our suburban lawns, parking lots, and golf courses. We will become self-sufficient in food-production with a smarter kind of agriculture that does not waste soil, pollute water, and poison our children. This, my fellow Americans, is true “homeland security.”

2. Next up is transportation. We will need to move ourselves and our products around largely without the aid of fossil fuels, as these will become only more expensive and unavailable in the years ahead. Is transportation with minimal fossil fuels even possible? Of course it is! We did it for centuries before the Industrial Age, and we need only to reclaim those technologies. Bicycles with trailers, hand-carts, and electric scooters will be made available as much as possible. Mules, oxen, and draft horses will be bred as rapidly as possible for distribution to our farms, towns, and cities. These will not allow us the mobility of former years, but that is the price we pay for thoughtlessly squandering our fossil fuels.

3. If we are to be a less-mobile, more-localized people, we will need to start producing most of the necessities of everyday life in the places where we live.

R.I.P.



The Soul Desires Expression at Work


From JOHN O’DONOHUE
Anam Cara (Soul Friend) 1998

For many people, the workplace is unsatisfactory and permits neither growth nor creativity. More often than not, it is an anonymous place where function and image have control since work demands such labor and effort, it has always made the worker vulnerable. Even in the ancient Celtic tradition, negativity could be harnessed to make nature work against the worker…

In the modern workplace, a negative atmosphere can be very destructive. When we speak of an individual, we speak of his presence. Presence is the way a person’s individuality comes toward you. Presence is the soul texture of the person. When we speak of this presence in relation to a group of people, we refer to it as atmosphere or ethos. The ethos of a workplace is a very subtle group presence. It is difficult to describe or analyze an ethos; yet you immediately sense its power and effect. Where the ethos is positive, wonderful things can happen. It is a joy to come to work because the atmosphere comes out to meet you and it is caring, kind, and creative. If the ethos of the workplace is negative and destructive, then when people wake up in the morning, their first thought of going to work literally makes them ill. It is lonely that so many people have to spend so much of their short time in the world in a negative and destructive work ethos. The workplace can be quite hostile; it is often an environment of power. You are working for people who have power over you. They have the power to sack you, criticize and bully you, or compromise your dignity. This is not a welcoming atmosphere. People have power over us because we give our power away to them…

Frequently people in power are not as strong as they might wish to appear. Many people who desperately hunger for power are weak. They seek power positions to compensate for their own fragility and vulnerability. A weak person in power can never be generous with power because they see questions or alternative possibilities as threatening their own supremacy and dominance. If you are going to be creatively confrontational with such a person, you need to approach that person very gently in a nondirect manner. This is the only way that the word of your truth can reach such a frightened, powerful person.

The workplace as a place of power can also be a place of control. Control is destructive because it reduces your own independence and autonomy. You are placed back in an infantile role where you are dealing with an authority figure. Because of our untransfigured relationship to our parents, we sometimes turn authority figures into giants. There is a crucial distinction here between power and authority. When you are awake to the integrity of your inner power, then you are your own authority. The word authority signifies your authorship of your ideas and actions. The world functions through power structures.

Mark Scaramella: Queen Kendall — Round 4


From MARK SCARAMELLA
The Jaundiced Eye – TheAVA.com

[Shameful... -DS]

The Mendocino County Grand Jury gets extra credit for persistence, if not effectiveness.

For the fourth year in a row, the Grand Jury has concluded that Fourth District Supervisor Kendall Smith is a thief, and this time they seem to be saying that she should be removed from office.

I hesitate to bore readers with yet another recitation of the particulars of Ms. Smith’s petty criminality because it’s been hashed out in all its excruciating glory in several previous Grand Jury reports and in several stories the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Basically, the Grand Jury determined that Ms. Smith claimed travel reimbursement to and from Fort Bragg when she hadn’t traveled, but stayed at friend’s house in Ukiah. There was more, but the Grand Jury, in an overabundance of caution, gave Ms. Smith the benefit of the doubt and only asked her to pay back the most completely documented and clear amount. (There were other amounts that were less obvious due to the County Auditor’s and the Supervisors’ self-serving “interpretations” of the travel reimbursement policy that the Supes themselves wrote for themselves.)

So even after trimming back the amount to the bare minimum that Smith clearly owed, Smith first said she’d repay it, then reneged on that promised and refused. One of her more outrageous reimbursement claims was for “pet care” of her pet while she was at “work” in Ukiah.

The Supes get $68,000 per year plus perks which bring it up to the range of $90-$110k depending on the Supervisor District. One of those perks is a monthly travel stipend which reimburses the Supervisors for commuting to work. The amount of the stipend is tied to the distance the individual Supervisors travel to Ukiah. (One is forced to wonder what will happen when Dan Hamburg or Wendy Roberts is elected Supervisor in January. Hamburg lives very near Ukiah, much closer than Colfax; Roberts lives on the Coast, much farther than Colfax. Will the reimbursement “policy” be revised based on who is Supervisor? Don’t ask.)

When the Grand Jury first looked at the Supervisors’ travel reimbursements back in 2007, they concluded that “some Supervisors have a casual and loosely defined understanding of what is considered to be ‘official County business,’ resulting in substantive travel policy abuse.”

Those Supervisors were John Pinches, David Colfax and Kendall Smith. To his credit, Supervisor Pinches didn’t quibble over what the Grand Jury said were overpayments to him and he quickly paid it back.

But Supervisors Colfax and Smith, instead of paying back the rather small amount given their generous public salaries, angrily denounced the Grand Jury.

More here.
~~

Farming’s future (right here in Ukiah)


From THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

New breed of agri-curious entrepreneurs emphasizes ‘growing food responsibly’

As Mendocino County residents dash off to work during the morning rush hour, Paula Manolo and her boyfriend, Adam Gaska, are hard at work at an entirely different kind of office: A 4-acre plot on land near Ukiah.

The biodynamic farm, situated on Heart Arrow Ranch (which is owned by Golden Vineyards), is among the fields the couple leases and tends as part of their business, Mendocino Organics.

By September, the duo will be farming a total of 50 acres as their primary occupation.

Manolo, 28, and Gaska, 31, are not alone. At a time when farm revenues are declining along with the national economy, a number of young and “agri-curious” Sonoma and Mendocino county residents are turning to farming as a viable profession.

This influx of fresh blood comes just in time. The average age of Sonoma County farmers has risen steadily for the past 30 years, peaking at 56 in 2009. The new generation also has introduced a new way of thinking to the profession. Most have turned to farming to help improve the way food is grown and to make communities more self-sustaining.

“For us farming is about much more than production and consumption,” says Manolo. “It’s about growing food responsibly, using the Earth sustainably and giving back whenever possible. It truly is a way of life.”

Many members of this new breed refer to themselves as “Greenhorns,” an eco-conscious play on a compound word that has come to mean “novice.”

The group has spawned quite an organic community. A number of participants met up this spring at a lively mixer at the Baker Creek Seed Bank in Petaluma, while others frequently “meet” on online forums and message boards to share best practices and chat about challenges associated with the farming life.

There’s even a documentary film about this nationwide phenomenon titled, simply, “Greenhorns.”

Among all of the local Greenhorns, Manolo and Gaska are perhaps the most adventuresome. They are growing sweet corn, beans, winter squash and melons, and they raise sheep and chickens for meat, and cows for milk.

Their average day begins around 5:30 or 6 a.m., when the pair gets up to water plants in their greenhouse, feed animals and move chickens to a new part of the pasture. Later, they might tend to some of their 100sheep, or look after the nine cows that hang together on leased land in the Potter Valley. They also might head out to inspect some of the irrigated pasture land they run.

More here.
~~

More “Whacking The Old Folks” – Social Security On The Line


From OPENLEFT

[...] This is really important. They increased the Social Security tax on working people, gave the money out as tax cuts for the wealthy, created deficits on purpose to defund government, created a huge debt mess, and now the next stage of this plan is to gut social programs.

This is what the Deficit Commission is about. Tax cuts for the rich and military spending caused the borrowing and raising taxes on the rich can stop it.  But the plan was to force a perception of a debt emergency to stampede people into accepting a dismantling of government that works for We, the People, and provides for us, empowers us and protects us.    This is the confrontation of  plutocracy vs democracy.  We can’t let them get away with it.

What can you do?  Visit Social Security Works, get on their mailing list or follow them on Twitter.

Get mad.

And get informed.
~

From FIREDOGLAKE (video)

Each time the Catfood Commission holds its secret meetings, Alex Lawson of Social Security Works has been outside with his camera, shooting video of the closed front door as FDL runs a live stream on our front page. The Washington Post wrote it up recently.  As committee members go in and out of the room Alex asks them questions when he can and yesterday he had an exchange with Alan Simpson that was…well, extraordinary.

Simpson is apparently a graduate of the Bobby Etheridge school of charm. Alex Lawson was incredibly respectful and polite as the crankly Simpson berated, interrupted and cussed him. Simpson has been a long-time supporter of rolling back the New Deal, and when asked about cuts he would recommend to the President and Congress on CNBC, Simpson said  “We are going to stick to the big three,” meaning Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  His sentiments haven’t changed.

CJR’s Trudy Lieberman recently ran down Simpson’s history of delicate statements on the subject of Social Security.   He is equally decorous on camera with Alex, who clearly knows a great deal more about the subject than he does.  Simpson starts from the premise that the Treasury will default on the bonds issued to the Social Security trust fund, because all the best people apparently know that it’s better to default on America’s senior citizens and plunge them into poverty than it is to default on, say, the Chinese.

Despite Simpson’s assertions, raising the retirement age to 70 IS a benefit cut.  It would put an estimated 1.5 million  senior citizens into poverty.

5 Free and Open-Source Software Alternatives for Small Businesses


From MASHABLE

[...] Many business owners and managers don’t realize is that they can get all the software they need to run a business — quite literally all of it in most cases — 100% free of charge. That includes operating systems, word processing programs, accounting software, email servers, graphic design programs and more.

If you put in some time to do some research, you might find perfectly free software alternatives that work just as well as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop (Adobe Photoshop), QuickBooks, and other better-known programs.

Best of all, since FOSS is free to download and try, there’s no risk in testing it out. Take a look at some of these programs and see if a few of them would fit your business needs…

GIMP is a free Photoshop substitute that will satisfy all but the most demanding professional graphic designers. If you need to make simple web graphics, retouch a few product photos, or create flyers or other marketing materials, this program should work nicely for you. It’s robust, and if you’ve used Photoshop or Photoshop-like clone programs, the interface and commands will be familiar to you. The images you create can be saved in an array of common formats, including PSD Photoshop files, in case you need to send your files to a Photoshop user.

All in all, GIMP might be the single greatest money-saver on this list. It’s completely free, whereas a single Photoshop license — which you’ll need to pay for again each time Adobe releases a new version of the software — can cost hundreds of dollars per user…

For years, there’s been the commonly held idea that Linux OSes are command-line intensive, difficult to use, easy to crash and generally for nerds only. Much of this “fear, uncertainty and doubt” has come from corporate entities that benefit most from these drastic misperceptions. While you might want to reach out for a little help when installing your Linux OS for the first time, you’ll be shocked at how simple and user-friendly a Linux distro (that’s short for “distribution,” the Linux term for version) can be. The interfaces are elegant and intuitive, much more so than even Windows or Mac for many users…

1. OpenOffice open-source alternative to Microsoft Office.

2. GNUCash …alternative for Microsoft Money and Quicken

3. GIMP …alternative for Photoshop

4. Zimbra …alternative for Microsoft Exchange email

5. Linux …alternative for Windows and MacOS

More details here.
~~

Getting Shit Done


From ANDREW SULLIVAN
Daily Dish

What are the odds that Obama’s huge success yesterday in getting BP to pledge a cool $20 billion to recompense the “small people” in the Gulf will get the same attention as his allegedly dismal speech on Tuesday night? If you take Memeorandum as an indicator, it really is no contest. The speech is still being dissected by language experts, but the $20 billion that is the front page news in the NYT today? Barely anywhere on the blogs.

This is just a glimpse into the distortion inherent in our current political and media culture. It’s way easier to comment on a speech – his hands were moving too much! – than to note the truly substantive victory, apparently personally nailed down by Obama, in the White House yesterday. If leftwing populism in America were anything like as potent as right-wing populism – Matt Bai has a superb analysis of this in the NYT today – there would be cheering in the streets. But there’s nada, but more leftist utopianism and outrage on MSNBC. And since there’s no end to this spill without relief wells, this is about as much as Obama can do, short of monitoring clean-up efforts, or rather ongoing management of the ecological nightmare of an unstopped and unstoppable wound in the ocean floor.

I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control – big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms. When you do, you realize that the left’s “disgruntleist” faction needs to take a chill pill.

Take Iran. Everyone – part from still-delusional neocons – accepts that this is a hugely difficult issue. To read the neocon right, you’d think all our problems would be solved by the president declaring the regime “evil” and launching military strikes all over the country. Sound familiar? In the real world, most of us understand that the military option is madness, that the machinery of repression is strong enough for the  coup regime to survive – but only just. Since Obama was elected, the legitimacy of the Tehran regime has been shredded – and I’d argue that removing America from the equation helped Iran’s opposition, rather than stymying it. Most of us knew, moreover, that Russia and China would oppose any and all sanctions.

But in fact, after a painstaking process in which Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have been successfully cornered in world opinion as the transgressors, sanctions, with Russia’s and China’s support, have passed the UN Security Council. More focused sanctions are in force against the financial interests of the Revolutionary Guards, and will soon come from the US Congress and European capitals. The price of Ahmadi’s paranoia will be high, which may explain his recent fulminations.

Todd Walton: The Presence of Absence


From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley

(This essay originally appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser June 2010)

Thursday in the village of Mendocino is the day the AVA (Anderson Valley Advertiser) arrives in our post office boxes and at the liquor store (should we need extra copies.) Now and then the AVA is delayed for a day and arrives on Friday. But this week, the AVA did not come at all. I inquired of my heroes at the post office, but they had not seen hide nor hair of the goodly rag. And though I knew the liquor store is supplied via the mails, too, I nevertheless went thither in the vain hope that a batch had been brought by pony express or valiant pickup from the inland empire to our coastal enclave.

The liquor store in our hamlet is a living foreign movie. No matter how many times I go in there, I have the feeling something important is missing. There is an empty feeling about the place, as if the proprietors are just moving in or just moving out. The lighting is strange and forlorn and bathes everything in a pale yellow light. My friendly greetings invariably fall into a bottomless chasm of ennui, and in thirty tries I have never once elicited a smile from the fellow at the cash register. Perhaps he is hardened by years of dealing with drunks. I don’t know. I don’t buy anything there except the AVA, and maybe this bugs him. In any case, they didn’t have any AVAs and I was apparently not the first person to inquire.

Certainly one of the great appeals of the AVA to me is that I often have something published therein. Discovering that I am once again in the goodly rag never fails to impart a momentary thrill, a sense of well-being, a revivifying and inspiring validation that I did not waste however many hours I spent writing whatever I wrote. I never know in advance if my pieces will run. The editors are not in the habit of telling me, possibly because they don’t know themselves until the very last minute before they put the paper to bed, and perhaps not even then.

No, the only way to find out if I’m in the AVA is to look through her pages. Now and then I will land an essay on the front page (mazel tov!) but more often than not my pieces are tucked away in the cozy confines of the middle. In truth, I don’t care where they land, just so they do. Land.

Those weeks when I do not appear (assuming I’ve submitted something before the deadline) I invariably experience a brief emotional downturn. I want to make it clear (to myself if no one else) that this downturn has much less to do with my absence from the pages of the AVA than it does with the absence of my books from the bookstores of America, the lack of reviews of my books in The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and the towering indifference of the great big world to the creations of little old me.

Fannie and Freddie and What Not


From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH

[...] As longtime readers will know, my forecast for a real estate prices is for a decline of 90% on average, albeit with considerable local variation. For those who think this is not possible, you might want to look at what you can buy a house for right now in Detroit. It is considerably less than the price of a second-hand car, and in a market where the price of second-hand cars is depressed. In places where there is no work for miles around, and no access to mortgages in dying neighborhoods, the pool of buyers will be limited to those who can afford to buy a property in cash and would choose to spend what will be extremely scarce cash on that particular purchase. The price support that will convey will be minimal, to say the least.

As unemployment takes a moonshot in the coming years, purchasing power will be far more limited than most can imagine. The liquidity crunch we are moving into will cause the same kind of economic seizure as we saw in the depression, when a lack of money alone made it exceptionally difficult to connect buyers and sellers, or producers and potential consumers. Money is the lubricant in the engine of the economy in the same way that oil is the lubricant in the engine of your car. Running an engine with too little lubricant will cause it to grind to a halt.

The ‘assistance’ currently being provided in the form of down payments is only going to make the situation worse in the long run. Bailouts are never for the little guy. Offering inducements to further indebtedness is merely a trap. It will do nothing but increase the pool of future debt slaves. This is not a benefit for the people it is ostensibly aimed at. Instead it is a cynical move intended to keep our game of extend-and-pretend going a little longer. Rising unemployment will cruelly expose the fragility of buying power and the ability to service debt in the relatively near future. Defaults are likely to be shockingly high, and with them losses to Fannie and Freddie.

As John Stuart Mill observed, “Panics do not destroy capital, they merely reveal the extent to which it has already been destroyed by betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works.” The construction of much of suburbia has been a giant exercise in the creation of negative added value. It is this decades-long commitment of resources to living arrangements with fatal structural dependencies that has been destructive of value, and there is a limit to how long we can stave off the day when that will be generally recognized. That is all we are doing in supporting Fannie and Freddie.

Now that it appears the credit markets have turned again, the real economy will inevitably follow. The long rally facilitated a suspension of disbelief that was kind to policy makers while it lasted. The resumption of the downtrend will conversely strip away their credibility, making everything they do fail conspicuously and ignominiously.
~~

Call the Politburo, we’re in trouble


From TOM ENGELHARDT
TomDispatch.com

Entering the Soviet Era in America

Mark it on your calendar.  It seems we’ve finally entered the Soviet era in America.

You remember the Soviet Union, now almost 20 years in its grave.  But who gives it a second thought today?  Even in its glory years that “evil empire” was sometimes referred to as “the second superpower.”  In 1991, after seven decades, it suddenly disintegrated and disappeared, leaving the United States — the “sole superpower,” even the “hyperpower,” on planet Earth — surprised but triumphant.

The USSR had been heading for the exits for quite a while, not that official Washington had a clue.  At the moment it happened, Soviet “experts” like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (then director of the CIA) still expected the Cold War to go on and on.  In Washington, eyes were trained on the might of the Soviet military, which the Soviet leadership had never stopped feeding, even as its sclerotic bureaucracy was rotting, its economy (which had ceased to grow in the late 1970s) was tanking, budget deficits were soaring, indebtedness to other countries was growing, and social welfare payments were eating into what funds remained.  Not even a vigorous, reformist leader like Mikhail Gorbachev could staunch the rot, especially when, in the late 1980s, the price of Russian oil fell drastically.

Looking back, the most distinctive feature of the last years of the Soviet Union may have been the way it continued to pour money into its military — and its military adventure in Afghanistan — when it was already going bankrupt and the society it had built was beginning to collapse around it.  In the end, its aging leaders made a devastating miscalculation.  They mistook military power for power on this planet.  Armed to the teeth and possessing a nuclear force capable of destroying the Earth many times over, the Soviets nonetheless remained the vastly poorer, weaker, and (except when it came to the arms race) far less technologically innovative of the two superpowers.

In December 1979, perhaps taking the bait of the Carter administration whose national security advisor was eager to see the Soviets bloodied by a “Vietnam” of their own, the Red Army invaded Afghanistan to support a weak communist government in Kabul.  When resistance in the countryside, led by Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas and backed by the other superpower, only grew, the Soviets sent in more troops, launched major offensives, called in air power, and fought on brutally and futilely for a decade until, in 1989, long after they had been whipped, they withdrew in defeat.

Gorbachev had dubbed Afghanistan “the bleeding wound,” and when the wounded Red Army finally limped home, it was to a country that would soon cease to exist.  For the Soviet Union, Afghanistan had literally proven “the graveyard of empires.”  If, at the end, its military remained standing, the empire didn’t…  More here.
~~

Worst Case Scenario on Gulf Spill?


From SHARON ASTYK
Causabon’s Book

Reader Stephen B. pointed me to this comment at The Oil Drum by someone who argues that there’s more going on under the Gulf that we think. For those who think it is strange that I be highlighting a comment in a thread, I should note that TOD attracts many, many petroleum geologists and other professionals, and while sometimes the comments are the same “pulled it out of my ass” as on every other website, often, the technical knowledge on offer is pretty astounding. This one passes my smell test, which is usually pretty good – that doesn’t mean I claim commenter Doug R is right – it means I think his information is interesting enough to be worth exposing to a wider audience for clarification or correction.

The whole thing is worth a read, including the many cites and sources (again, why I take it at least a little seriously), but here’s one of several major points made, building on a Wall Street Journal article (link at source):

There are some inconsistencies with this article.
There are no “Disks” or “Subsea safety structure” 1,000 feet below the sea floor, all that is there is well bore. There is nothing that can allow the mud or oil to “escape” into the rock formation outside the well bore except the well, because it is the only thing there.

All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking. Now you have some real data of how BP’s actions are evidence of that, as well as some murky statement from “BP officials” confirming the same.

I took some time to go into a bit of detail concerning the failure of Top Kill because this was a significant event. To those of us outside the real inside loop, yet still fairly knowledgeable, it was a major confirmation of what many feared. That the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to.

What does this mean?

It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?…the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?…it doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle?…it leaks real bad, same dynamics… More here.
~~

Seth Godin: Goodbye to the office


From SETH GODIN

Factories used to be arranged in a straight line. That’s because there was one steam engine, and it turned a shaft. All the machines were set up along the shaft, with a belt giving each of them power. The office needed to be right next to this building, so management could monitor what was going on.

150 years later, why go to work in an office/plant/factory?

1. That’s where the machines are.

2. That’s where the items I need to work on are.

3. The boss needs to keep tabs on my productivity.

4. There are important meetings to go to.

5. It’s a source of energy.

6. The people I collaborate with all day are there.

7. I need someplace to go.

But…

1. If you have a laptop, you probably have the machine already, in your house.

2. If you do work with a keyboard and a mouse, the items you need to work on are on your laptop, not in the office.

3. The boss can easily keep tabs on productivity digitally.

4. How many meetings are important? If you didn’t go, what would happen?

5. You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.

6. Of the 100 people in your office, how many do you collaborate with daily?

7. So go someplace. But it doesn’t have to be to your office.

If we were starting this whole office thing today, it’s inconceivable we’d pay the rent/time/commuting cost to get what we get. I think in ten years the TV show ‘the Office’ will be seen as a quaint antique.

When you need to have a meeting, have a meeting. When you need to collaborate, collaborate. The rest of the time, do the work, wherever you like.

The gain in speed, productivity and happiness is massive. What’s missing is #7… someplace to go. Once someone figures that part out, the office is dead.
~~


Another bullshit sandwich? (Updated – Rachel Maddow for President!)


From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute

[Where's the beef? -DS]

Last night’s presidential speech on the Gulf oil spill had been pre-billed by the Washington Post as Barack Obama’s “Jimmy Carter moment.” But reading any of Carter’s speeches (a good one to start with is that of April 18, 1977) side by side with last night’s bromide is an invitation to nostalgia and bitter disappointment.

President Obama offered up one promising paragraph:

“For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked—not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.”

It sounds for all the world as though the President is about to unleash a grand program on the scale of the New Deal—an energy Moon Shot, a rousing call-to-arms reminiscent of December 8, 1941. But this is what follows:

“So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party—as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development—and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development. All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom.

Trying To Understand The Tea Party


From ANDREW SULLIVAN
The Daily Dish

[T]hey’re the usual reactionary crowd that goes nuts whenever there’s a Democrat in the White House and they’re looking for something to be outraged about. And right-wing media and the Republican Party have decided (correctly, I think) that banging on about the deficit is a handy way to gin up opposition to pretty much everything Democrats want to do.

The previous tea party incarnations worked the same way, but their leaders chose topics suited to their time and circumstances. In the 30s it was opposition to the New Deal. For the Birchers it was communism. For the Clinton-haters it was the culture wars. Those were the most obvious and convenient stalking horses of their day for broad-spectrum outrage at Democrats, while today’s is the deficits/socialism message. There’s really nothing mysterious here. It’s just ordinary partisan politics.

So please please please: trying to figure out what’s behind the tea parties is fine. But psychoanalysis isn’t the right tool. History and politics are.

~

From clinical interviews and thematic apperception tests, Adorno and his co-workers found that their pseudo-conservative subjects, although given to a form of political expression that combines a curious mixture of largely conservative with occasional radical notions, succeed in concealing from themselves impulsive tendencies that, if released into action, would be very far from conservative.

The pseudo-conservative, Adorno writes, “shows conventionality and authoritarian submissiveness” in his conscious thinking and “violence, anarchic impulses and chaotic destructiveness in the unconscious sphere. The pseudo-conservative is a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them from largely fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition.”

John Yoo anyone? Dick Cheney? I can think of few examples of this more telling than the suspension of habeas corpus, the enactment of preventative war as policy and the institutionalization of torture as the celebration of American traditional values. So Hofstadter helps me understand how a movement based on inalienable individual freedom had nothing to say about the most authoritarian period in the American executive branch in their lifetimes. But the maintenance of shrill ideology against reality is still the most prevalent feature. Hofstadter noted some classic examples from a previous era that seem plucked from Fox News today:

Victor Frankl: Our Search for Meaning


From DAVE SMITH
To Be Of Use

Internationally renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who endured years of unspeakable horror in Nazi death camps, wrote this in his groundbreaking book Man’s Search for Meaning:

I published a study devoted to a specific type of depression I had diagnosed in cases of young patients suffering from what I called “unemployment neurosis.” And I could show that this neurosis really originated in a twofold erroneous identification: being jobless was equated with being useless, and being useless was equated with having a meaningless life.

Consequently, whenever I succeeded in persuading the patients to volunteer in youth organizations, adult education, public libraries, and the like — in other words, as soon as they could fill their abundant free time with some sort of unpaid but meaningful activity — their depression disappeared although their economic situation had not changed and their hunger was the same.

Frankl developed “logotherapy.” Logos is a Greek word that denotes “meaning,” and his therapy was based on the “striving to find a meaning in one’s life,” which he felt was “the primary motivational force in man.” What matters is “not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. … Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it… The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself … self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”
~

More from Man’s Search For Meaning (1959)

Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning. There are some authors that contend that “meanings and values” are nothing but defense mechanisms, reaction formations, and sublimations.” But as for myself I would not be willing to live merely for the sake of my “defense mechanisms,” nor would I be willing to die merely for the sake of my “reaction formations.” Man, however, is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values!

Books and the Hungry Soul


From RANDALL SMITH
Front Porch Republic

One of the great benefits of being someone who studies the Middle Ages is that I not only have the privilege of reading great books — Dante, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas — I also have the special privilege of seeing beautiful books.  I was reminded of this the other day as I was walking through the reading room of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame and saw a student poring over a color facsimile of a beautiful Fourteenth Century illuminated manuscript.  It was visually stunning.  And I thought to myself: “Wow, those people really knew how to make books!” In the age of Kindle, we need to be careful of not losing our appreciation for books.

It’s interesting how the advent of technology does not always bring with it unmitigated progress in all areas.  Flying across the Atlantic with my legs tucked up against my chest in one of Continental Airlines’ economy seats is not necessarily better than sailing across the Atlantic on an ocean liner.  And flying almost anywhere in the States is not necessarily better than taking a train, especially if you like to read, talk to people, stretch your legs regularly, and breathe real air.  Granted, if all you want to do is “get there,” then the plane is probably your best bet.  But “faster” isn’t the same thing as “better” or “more civilized,” any more than “fast-food” necessarily means “more nourishing.”

Several weeks ago I heard someone on National Public Radio arguing in defense of books saythat they remain a good “information delivery system.”  As much as I appreciate any defense of books, I had to cringe a bit when I heard books being described as a kind of “information delivery system.”  For lovers of books, calling them a kind of “information delivery system” is akin to describing eating as a kind of “fuel delivery system.” It’s possible to do, of course, and not entirely untrue, but one feels that a crucial element of the experience has gone missing.

Several years ago Dr. Leon Kass, former head of the President’s Council on Bioethics during the George W. Bush administration, wrote a wonderful book entitled The Hungry Soul in which he argued that “eating” among human beings was not merely about “feeding.”  It could be (and in fact generally should be) a much more civilized and civilizing activity.  When “eating” is done in a social context with one’s family or friends, such meals, with their conversation and good cheer, are not only about feeding one’s body, but also about feeding one’s soul.  Thus the title of his book: The Hungry Soul.

So too, I would argue, with books, the point isn’t merely to fill one’s brain with information, any more than eating is merely about filling one’s belly with food… More here.
~~

Janie Sheppard: Laura Fogg’s Quilts at the Corner Gallery, Ukiah (video)


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

Laura Fogg’s art has top billing at the Corner Gallery in Ukiah.  On Friday, June 4th, Laura’s show opened, with her newest quilts, tile mosaics, and some older drawings that together show her development as one of Mendocino County’s outstanding artists.

The Corner Gallery is located at 201 S State Street in Ukiah.  Check out the website: artcenterukiah.org. Hours are 11-6, Tues thru Saturday.  It is a co-op gallery with over 20 artist members. Laura’s work will be in the front windows for the month of June.

Fogg’s website, where you can see her other work, is fogwomancreations.com.

Plan a visit soon.
~~

Belief systems at a turning point


From GAIL TVERBERG
The Oil Drum via Energy Bulletin

It seems to me with the BP Horizon Blowout, we may be hitting a turning point in belief systems, in more than one way:

• Can businesses really be expected to regulate themselves, with minimal oversight?

• Can technology solve all our problems?

• If there are technological solutions, can they be expected immediately?

• Can we really depend on the oil supply that everyone has told us is here?

1. Can businesses really be expected to regulate themselves, with minimal oversight?

Once upon a time, back in the pre-Reagan era, capitalism and profits didn’t seem to have quite the emphasis they have today in the the way the country functioned.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” and people took him seriously. Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1963 to 1969 period was responsible for designing the “Great Society” legislation that included laws that upheld civil rights, Public Broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his “War on Poverty.”

But by 1980, the country had been through a lot of hard times, with the decline in US oil supply starting in 1970, Nixon canceling the convertibility of dollar to gold in 1971, real wages starting to decline in 1973, and the oil price shock of 1973-1974.

Ronald Reagan was elected as US president in 1980. He was known policies that much more oriented toward laisse faire capitalism, including trickle down economics, reduced taxes, getting tough on labor unions, and deregulation of businesses.

The BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and what appears to be questionable internal decisions, makes one wonder about whether this deregulation really makes sense. There were hints that deregulation might be a problem before–with Enron’s manipulation of energy markets and creative accounting, discovered in 2001, followed by all of the bank bailouts in 2008 and 2009.

Now, when one hears all the detailed allegations made in the BP incident, one wonders whether our faith in deregulation might be misplaced…

More here.
~~

Chicken coops, once uncouth, are springing up in Santa Cruz backyards


From SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL

Four babies arrived at the Branciforte Avenue home of Holly and Jeff Akiyoshi early last summer. The new parents held their breath. They wanted girls.

The Akiyoshis got their wish within a few months — not a rooster in the bunch.

The loud-mouthed males are banned in the urban areas of Santa Cruz County, but hens don’t require so much as a permit. Whether it’s the economy, a desire for sustainable living or the appeal of farm-fresh eggs, a growing number of county residents appear to be catching on to the idea of backyard coops. And they’re in places where chickens haven’t traditionally been kept, at least not for the past half-century.

“I’m planning on getting two hens each year, so we don’t have any dry years,” said Holly Akiyoshi, whose flock now numbers 11 and is laying half-a-dozen eggs a day in the heart of the Eastside.

Scotts Valley Feed sold 3,000 chickens in 2009, up from 150 to 300 just four years earlier. Spring started in February this year at the store — chicks usually don’t go on the shelves until April — and already 1,500 have found homes.

“We got 300 and sold them out in 45 minutes,” said co-owner Christine Richie. “The hatcheries were caught off guard.”

Jen Dumford, manager of DIG Gardens in Santa Cruz, reports an increased interest in heritage breeds — the cold-hardy Speckled Sussex, the Rhode Island Red — from customers who want to add more variety to the color of their hens’ plummage and resulting eggs.

But unlike growing parsley, keeping chickens isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying eggs from the store. There’s the expense of creating a sturdy coop — a necessity. Chickens are natural foragers who can live off bugs and greens in the wild, but urban chickens need to be given feed. A 50-pound bag of organic scratch runs about $30 and lasts a month or two, depending on the size of the flock, and the birds can sometimes require supplements like ground oyster shells to ensure hard eggs.

So with organic eggs at the market starting at roughly $2.99 a dozen, why bother with a coop? Because for many, chickens are less of a farm animal, more of an all-in-one family pet — one that helps with the compost, offers a feeling of self-sufficiency and requires minimal care beyond the owners’ watchful eye.

More here.
~~

Todd Walton: Words, Words, Words


From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley

(This essay originally appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser June 2010)

We are awash in words. Our thoughts are words. We talk with words, we read words, we listen to words. We depend on words to define our reality. And when we hear the same pronouncement often enough, most of us come to believe the pronouncement is fact even if the only proof is repetition.

Shortly after the World Trade Center came tumbling down, a comprehensive national poll revealed that less than one per cent of the American population believed Sadaam Hussein had anything to do with that event. Then the administration of George Bush, speaking through their corporate media, embarked on an all-day-every-day-all-channel campaign of repetition stating briefly and with no corroborating evidence that Sadaam was joined at the hip with Osama Bin Laden and possessed weapons of mass destruction. Six months and ten million repetitions later, a new poll revealed that seventy-nine per cent of the American people believed Sadaam was directly involved in bringing down the twin towers. Repetition of an unfounded lie became general belief.

For a month now this same corporate media has been calling the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico a leak. I think they have intentionally chosen the word leak so we will associate this unprecedented disaster with a dripping faucet. What do you think of when you hear the word leak? Certainly not millions and millions of gallons of oil gushing into the ocean for days and weeks and months on end. Yet even after movies began to appear on television and on the Internet showing the oil gushing from a massive broken pipe, commentators continued to use the word leak. As of this writing, that catastrophic gusher is still being called a leak, with only a few of the more daring journalists using the word spill, which is also inaccurate and inadequate.

Do our overlords think we’re stupid? You bet they do. You may recall some years ago when there used to be occasional news of the war that has never ended in Iraq, commentators and journalists referred to Iraqis killed by American forces as insurgents; a brilliant choice of words for the purposes of propaganda,

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