Janie Sheppard: What happens to Post Office Art?


Ukiah Post Office Mural

From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

As everyone now knows, the Ukiah Post Office is home to an authentic New Deal mural.  Noted artist Ben Cunningham painted it specifically for the Ukiah Post Office after consulting with respected members of the community.  The mural reflects the agriculture and timber industry of the Ukiah Valley, as it was in the 1930’s and even now.

A recent trip to the East Coast where I searched out post office murals led me to reflect on the particular style of post office murals and the significance of preserving the murals “in situ” (in their natural place).

The Ukiah post office mural exemplifies New Deal art, funded by the federal government to embellish federal buildings and provide employment for artists during the Great Depression.  We are fortunate to have in our everyday lives authentic New Deal art by an artist who went on to paint pieces that hang in the Smithsonian, adorn Coit Tower in San Francisco, and continue to be sold in fine art galleries.

If we convince the US Postal Service to retain the 1936 historic Ukiah Post Office, the mural will remain in its natural home.

If the Postal Service ignores our request, the Postal Service would sell the Oak Street Post Office and the mural would end up far from home, and, in any case, out of our everyday sight.  Viewers, wherever and whenever, would have to be told of the economy of the Ukiah Valley in the Depression

A Primer on Class Struggle


From MICHAEL SCHWALB
Common Dreams

When we study Marx in my graduate social theory course, it never fails that at least one student will say (approximately), “Class struggle didn’t escalate in the way Marx expected. In modern capitalist societies class struggle has disappeared. So isn’t it clear that Marx was wrong and his ideas are of little value today?”

I respond by challenging the premise that class struggle has disappeared. On the contrary, I say that class struggle is going on all the time in every major institution of society. One just has to learn how to recognize it.

One needn’t embrace the labor theory of value to understand that employers try to increase profits by keeping wages down and getting as much work as possible out of their employees. As the saying goes, every successful capitalist knows what a Marxist knows; they just apply the knowledge differently.

Workers’ desire for better pay and benefits, safe working conditions, and control over their own time puts them at odds with employers. Class struggle in this sense hasn’t gone away.

Seth Godin: On The Tribes We Lead


Click On Post Title For Full View
~

From DANIEL QUINN
Ishmael.org

The New Renaissance

(Address Delivered to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, March 7, 2002)

Back in 1995, when I was visiting a school in Albuquerque that had used Ishmael as the year’s focus book, I was asked to meet with a very high-level group of health care professionals–the assembled department heads of Presbyterian Health Care Services, which functions as a regional hospital system. I accepted the invitation but wondered what I might have to say that was relevant to their professional concerns. I know nothing about hospitals or health care or the medical profession. I don’t even watch ER.

It was clear when I sat down with them–perhaps twenty men and women–that they’d all been deeply moved by my book. But none of them could quite explain why it was relevant to them in their profession. I think what it really came down to was that, as a result of reading Ishmael, they themselves had changed, simply as human beings, and they were trying to figure out

Wall Street’s days are numbered. Ours need not be.


From DAVID KORTEN
Yes! Magazine

The End of Empire

In an earlier day, our rulers were kings and emperors. Now they are corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers. Wall Street is Empire’s most recent stage. Its reign will mark the end of the tragic drama of a 5,000 year Era of Empire.

Imperial historians would have us believe that civilization, history, and human progress began with the consolidation of dominator power in the first great empires that emerged some 5,000 years ago. Much is made of their glorious accomplishments and heroic battles.

Rather less is said about the brutalization of the slaves who built the great monuments, the racism, the suppression of women, the conversion of free farmers into serfs or landless laborers, the carnage of the battles, the hopes and lives destroyed by wave after wave of invasion, the pillage and gratuitous devastation of the vanquished, and the lost creative potential.

Nor is there mention that most all the advances that make us truly human came before the Era of Empire—including the domestication of plants and animals, food storage, and the arts of dance, pottery, basket making, textile weaving, leather crafting, metallurgy, architecture, town planning, boat building, highway construction, and oral literature.

As the institutions of Empire took root, humans

Getting The President To Laugh


From GENE LOGSDON

The kind of readers who visit this website may have noticed that one of our heroes, Wendell Berry, made President Obama laugh right out loud the other day. Wendell recently received a National Humanities Medal in Washington, and when the President leaned forward to drape the award over Wendell’s shoulders, the two exchanged whispers and the President broke out in a huge grin. It is a wonderful picture and appeared in many newspapers. To be able to get the president of the United States to laugh like that in front of the whole world in these awful times… well, that’s a real accomplishment. I am not surprised, however. If you know Wendell, he can make very funny remarks at the most unexpected times. I asked him what he whispered to the president but he’s not talking. Says he can’t remember.

Two other writers who received a National Humanities Medal this year were Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth. Jacques Barzun, the historian, got one too. This is top notch stuff, and I don’t know anyone who deserves the recognition more than Wendell. He is the hardest worker I know, traveling and giving speeches incessantly. He’s written 40 books so far and still manages to do a little farming with the help and support of his equally amazing wife, Tanya, and his son Den and daughter Mary and their families. His message, now and always, is that society is ignoring and abandoning ecological and economic common sense

Unequal Protection — Chapter Three: Banding Together for the Common Good


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

A corporation has no rights except those given it by law. It can exercise no power except that conferred upon it by the people through legislation, and the people should be as free to withhold as to give, public interest and not private advantage being the end in view. ~ William Jennings Bryan, address to the Ohio 1912 Constitutional Convention

In the beginning, there were people.

For thousands of years, it was popular among philosophers, theologians, and social commentators to suggest that the first humans lived as disorganized, disheveled, terrified, cold, hungry, and brutal lone-wolf beasts. But both the anthropological and archeological records prove it a lie.

Even our cousins the apes live in organized societies, and evidence of cooperative and social living is as ancient as the oldest hominid remains. For four hundred thousand years or more, even before the origin of Homo sapiens, around the world we primates have made tools, art, and jewelry and organized ourselves into various social forms, ranging from families to clans to tribes. More recently, we’ve also organized ourselves as nations and empires.1

As psychologist Abraham Maslow and others have pointed out, the value system of humans

James Houle: No Making Peace With Atoms?



From JAMES HOULE
OBAMA-WATCH.COM
Redwood Valley

In May 1955, less than ten years after the United States had cremated 150,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in a raid that ended WWII and led to the eventual death from radiation of a total of 300,000, President Eisenhower introduced the still staggering Japanese nation to “Atoms for Peace”. A delegation of American industrialists, financial gurus and scientists brightly explained how this atom that had decimated their people just ten years ago was actually a wonderful gift. The delegation was disrupted during their presentation at Tokyo’s Hibya Park by protesters more concerned with the continuing plutonium poisoning and other still lethal gifts of nuclear fission. Atoms for Peace seemed a cruel joke in a country where hundreds of thousands still faced a slow death from radiation. The Japanese Diet did not see the humor in this cruel joke: it immediately established the Japan Atomic Energy Commission which eventually approved 55 nuclear power stations spread up and down the coasts in the world’s most earthquake hazardous country. (Will Parrish, Nuclear Chickens)

Approvals were streamlined, inspections waved, and technological short cuts introduced

Film Review: The Economics of Happiness


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[Available for rent at Mulligan Books]

The concept of localisation is one increasingly being discussed as the debt-based, high carbon, energy vulnerable model of economic globalisation increasingly comes apart at the seams.  A recent conference run by Transition Colorado had the subtitle “food relocalisation as economic development”.  I think we might argue for localisation in general, not just in terms of food, being seen now as a key strategy of economic development.  ‘The Economics of Happiness’, as a film that argues that “’going local’ is the way to repair our fractured world – our ecosystems, our societies and our selves” has therefore arrived at the right time, but is it the convincing, accessible and rousing film about localisation that we need in order to raise the issue to the next level of the debate?  Here is the trailer:

Joe Bageant: Escape from the Zombie Food Court


[Joe Bageant has died. 'Redneck' Rebel and Popular Progressive Author, Dies at 64. Progressives have lost one of their most talented writers in Joe Bageant, who assailed the corporate takeover of American democracy and the collapse of the middle class. Here is one of his blog posts...]

Joe Bageant recently spoke at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University at Lexington, and the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, where he was invited to speak on American consciousness and what he dubbed “The American Hologram,” in his book, Deer Hunting With Jesus. Here is a text version of the talks, assembled from his remarks at all three schools.

I just returned from several months in Central America. And the day I returned I had iguana eggs for breakfast, airline pretzels for lunch and a $7 shot of Jack Daniels for dinner at the Houston Airport, where I spent two hours listening to a Christian religious fanatic tell about Obama running a worldwide child porn ring out of the White House. Entering the country shoeless through airport homeland security, holding up my pants because they don’t let old men wear suspenders through security, well, I knew I was back home in the land of the free.

Anyway, here I am with you good people asking myself the first logical question: What the hell is a redneck writer supposed to say to a prestigious school of psychology?

The Future of Manufacturing is Local


From ALLISON ARIEFF
NYT

Think manufacturing, and most likely your brain defaults to abandoned factories, outsourcing and economically devastated regions like the Rust Belt. So strong is our tendency to focus on American manufacturing as something that’s been lost that a chorus has risen up to decry the prevalence of “ruin porn” — those aestheticized versions of the decidedly un-pretty, with a particular focus on the once-triumphant automotive center of the universe, Detroit.

But there are many parts of this country where manufacturing is very much alive, albeit in a different form. The monolithic industry model — steel, oil, lumber, cars — has evolved into something more nimble and diversified. As this country continues to figure out how to crawl out of its economic despair, we could benefit from focusing on the shift.

President Obama, looking for ideas for job creation, came to San Francisco last month to pick the brains of tech-industry giants like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg. He would have done well to include Kate Sofis as well — and not only to right the gender imbalance at the dinner table. Sofis, executive director of SFMade, is helping breathe new life into a forgotten potential economic driver: manufacturing.

Over 4 Million Move Their Accounts From Wall Street Banks in 2010


From SARA ACKERMAN
Project Coordinator, Move Your Money

More than 4 million accounts have already moved away from the nation’s largest banks and this trend will only increase according to Moebs Services, an economic research firm in Lake Bluff, IL. Previously, large banks with over $50 billion in assets held 45% of the 130 million consumer checking accounts in 2009. That number has been decreasing dramatically with Bank of America losing 400,000 accounts in 2010 alone.

This trend will only continue, according to Michael Moebs, CEO of Moebs Services, who predicts an additional 7 to 9 million accounts moving by the end of 2011. The trend should plateau in 2012 after the nation’s largest banks see between 13 and 17 million accounts moving to local community banks and credit unions in just three short years. If Moebs’ predictions come to fruition, the largest financial firms will only hold a third of all free checking accounts in the US by the end of 2012, a huge drop from the 45% they held in 2009.

This mass-exodus from the nation’s ‘Too Big To Fail’ firms is by no means accidental. Customers are beginning to wise-up to Wall Street’s abuses and are choosing to vote with their dollars. The Move Your Money project, a campaign that began around a Christmas dinner table by Arianna Huffington and a few friends, encouraged individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions. One year later, the campaign

Barry Vogel Interviews Richard Johnson — Part 2


From BARRY VOGEL
Radio Curious
Originally broadcast February 19th, 2008
Transcribed by Dave Smith
Parts 1|2|3|4
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]

A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words (cont.)

Richard: The more we environmentalists fail to hold [our local representatives] responsible for their votes, then we have failed to get electoral power. Now, as fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings, a lot of us think that going for political power is evil or selfish or bad. All we have to do is get rid of that idea and instead replace it with the idea that political power would be good if it were in our hands, and what we need to do is get some and exercise it… and what we need to do is select environmentalists. That would be a good half-way step I would like to see accomplished in my lifetime… to elect at least three, if not five, supervisors to the Board of Supervisors.

Barry: When you say “fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings” who did you have in mind?

R: (laughing) I was being facetious. Some of us think that we are fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings but we are not, as you know. I’m thinking of the left, the environmental community, the pot-smoking, back-to-the-land folks.

B: In your estimation, what percentage of the electorate does that community make up in this county?

How the ‘Peaceful Atom’ Became a Serial Killer


Nuclear Power Loses its Alibi

From CHIP WARD
CommonDreams

When nuclear reactors blow, the first thing that melts down is the truth.  Just as in the Chernobyl catastrophe almost 25 years ago when Soviet authorities denied the extent of radiation and downplayed the dire situation that was spiraling out of control, Japanese authorities spent the first week of the Fukushima crisis issuing conflicting and confusing reports.  We were told that radiation levels were up, then down, then up, but nobody aside from those Japanese bureaucrats could verify the levels and few trusted their accuracy.  The situation is under control, they told us, but workers are being evacuated.  There is no danger of contamination, but stay inside and seal your doors.

The First Atomic Snow Job

The bureaucratization of horror into bland and reassuring pronouncements was to be expected, especially from an industry where misinformation is the rule.  Although you might suppose that the nuclear industry’s outstanding characteristic would be its expertise, since it’s loaded with junior Einsteins who grasp the math and physics required to master the most awesomely sophisticated technology humans have ever created, think again.  Based on the record, it’s most outstanding characteristic is a fundamental dishonesty.

Colbert: The time to review the safety of nuclear power plants is not immediately after Japan’s environmental catastrophe


The Word: Over-Reactor
~~

Surely we can do better than nuclear socialism


From BRENT BLACKWELDER
Transition Voice

They were in the news a half century ago when they were called “too cheap to meter.”  Now “absolutely safe” nuclear reactors are once again in the news.  As the horrifying scene in Japan unfolds this month, many politicians and media pundits are acting as if the only electricity choice for the U.S. is nuclear reactors or coal power plants.  This is a false choice.

Only clean, distributed power is sustainable

A sustainable economy requires a sustainable energy supply, one that is not subject to the vulnerabilities of big central energy systems.  A steady state economy would run on a decentralized set of renewable energy sources that is clean and resilient.  It would be an economy powered by the sun, the wind, the natural heat content of the Earth, and other renewable sources. Advanced designs for where we live and how we travel would be a key part of this energy transformation. For example, buildings would be designed to generate power rather than requiring external energy supplies for cooling and heating.  And let’s not forget about conservation – we need to set up the economy such that it uses less energy in the first place.

The energy system that would run a steady state economy does not have the severe security problems

Todd Walton: Kyoto Amore


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“But a whole school of lady koto players

Best kimono and Japanese hairdo

Perform on tatami platform underneath falling blossoms”

Philip Whalen

I’ll never forget the night in 1989 when we danced at Melarkey’s on Broadway in Sacramento, dancing for joy because in a free and fair election, for the first and only time in history, the majority voted to shut down an active nuclear power plant. And only a handful of people know that Ben Davis started the whole thing, and I, in the beginning, helped him keep the ball rolling.

Ben, an eccentric, stubborn, self-educated advocate for the public good, first tried to shut down the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Facility by single-handedly taking SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) to court for not having an adequate emergency evacuation plan in the event of a catastrophe such as the multiple catastrophes ongoing in Japan today. The courts wouldn’t oblige Ben for the usual putrid reasons (putrid as in corrupt), though Ben had more than ample proof that SMUD, for all intents and purposes, had no evacuation plan at all.

Failing to overcome the entrenched putrescence

Bruce Patterson: Animal Rescue


From BRUCE ‘PAT’ PATTERSON
4 Mules Blog
Anderson Valley

About a month before my second book came out, I received a form email from my publisher’s Manager of Marketing and Publicity. At the ripe old age of 29, I was informed, worn down by the workaday grind and determined to follow her heart, she was quitting her job so she could devote herself to doing volunteer work with Animal Rescue. So I emailed her back: “How bout me? Ain’t I an animal?”

Although I never received a response, I like to think she got a chuckle of out my wisecrack, at least until she realized I had a point. I mean, imagine if we people loved each other the way we love our little house doggies and pussy cats. Since we’re taking leaps of imagination here— for this we’d need Divine Intervention—what if we loved each other as much as we love the money in our pockets? Since about 90% of human misery is caused by greedy humans, imagine how sweet and easy our lives would be if ever we got out from under their thumbs.

I’ve been an outdoors person, both as vocation and avocation, my whole life, and I’ve spent more time around house pets, wildlife and livestock than most any busload of the kind of animal rights activists you see on TV. Yet, while my attitude toward animals ain’t nearly as romantic as theirs, we’re on the same page ethically. If “soul” is what makes humans more than the sum total

Lack of data from Japan distresses nuclear experts, confusion growing


From LATIMES
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

(See also: Japanese nuclear safety officials said Friday that they suspect that the reactor core at one unit of the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant may have breached, raising the possibility of more severe contamination to the environment.)

How did Japanese workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant jury-rig fire hoses to cool damaged reactors? Is contaminated water from waste pools overflowing into the Pacific Ocean? Exactly who is the national incident commander?

The answers to these and many other questions are unclear to U.S. nuclear scientists and policy experts, who say the quality and quantity of information coming out of Japan has left gaping holes in their understanding of the disaster nearly two weeks after it began.

At the same time, they say, the depth of the crisis has clearly been growing, judging by releases of radioactivity that by some measures have reached half the level of those released in the Chernobyl accident of 1986, according to new analysis by European and American scientists.

The lack of information has led to growing frustration with Tokyo Electric Power Co., known as Tepco, and the Japanese government, which has parceled out information

The Worst That Could Happen


[Has Humanity reached its "level of incompetence?" The Peter Principle is stated in chapter 1 of the book with the same title: "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence". -DS]

In mainstream news reports everywhere, you can feel the urge not to tumble into the irradiated zone of the nuclear imagination.  And so one of the strangest aspects of the massive coverage of the Fukushima catastrophe — wrapped as it is inside an earthquake/tsunami double-disaster — has been the lack of reporting on or exploration of what the worst human and environmental consequences might be.  It’s as if those who report on and assess reality for us had been shoved to the edge of some cliff and none of them could bear to look down or try to describe what might be below.

Missing in the Japan Catastrophe — Thinking the Unthinkable
From TOM ENGELHARDT
TomDispatch.com

Seldom more than thrice annually did any layman or stranger travel the old road that passed the abbey, in spite of the oasis which permitted that abbey’s existence and which would have made the monastery a natural inn for wayfarers if the road were not a road from nowhere, leading nowhere, in terms of the modes of travel in those times.  Perhaps, in earlier ages, the road had been a portion of the shortest route from the Great Salt Lake to Old El Paso; south of the abbey it intersected a similar strip

Wendell Berry and the New Urbanism: Agrarian Remedies, Urban Prospects


From MARK T. MITCHELL
Front Porch Republic

…we would do well to turn our attention to the revitalization of our cities and towns. If we hope to create a context within which human lives can be lived with dignity and joy, then we must turn our attention to preserving local culture, local customs, local beauty, local economies, families, and memories.

The decline of community is a theme taken up by many today both on the right and the left. The solitary bowler, a memorable image from Robert Putman’s book Bowling Alone, represents the loss that many feel and confirms the intuition that, despite the many advantages the modern world provides, something has indeed been lost. But what exactly is a community? Does any group of individuals living in close proximity to each other constitute a community? Does a healthy community exist more easily in an urban, suburban, or rural environment? Although he does not argue that a good life is only possible on the farm, Wendell Berry writes out of the agrarian tradition, and his vision of community is articulated in a rural context centered around a small town. Berry’s work is useful in developing a sense of the various ingredients necessary for a viable community. However, it is necessary to ask if and how this vision of community, if indeed it is compelling, can be translated into urban and sub-urban contexts. Ultimately,

Barry Vogel Interviews Richard Johnson — Part 1


From BARRY VOGEL
Radio Curious
Transcribed by Dave Smith
Parts 1|2|3|4
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]

A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words

Welcome to Radio Curious. I’m Barry Vogel.

Few people in Mendocino County who are not elected officials have created as much enmity and as many disruptive relationships as has Richard W. Johnson, Jr., who since 1984 has been the owner, editor, and publisher of four local newspapers under the banner of Mendocino Country.

Richard Johnson died March 16, 2011, at age 66.

This interview, intended as a tribute to his life, was originally broadcast February 19th, 2008, and he claims, among many other things, to be the original organizer of California’s Certified Organic Farmers; the recipient of The Walking Stick Award from the Mendocino Environmental Center in 1992 for promoting ocean sanctuary off the Mendocino Coast; and was the original proponent of Measure G on the 2000 ballot.

When I invited Richard Johnson to visit Radio Curious, he said he would like to discuss the amazing but little understood and seldom appreciated Richard Johnson… his life and times.

We touched on those and a few other topics in this conversation, recorded in the studios of Radio Curious,

Gene Logsdon: Oaken Resilience



From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

The one thing that I’ve learned living in the woods is that trees can take care of themselves. All we puny humans need to do to help them is to stop the bulldozers from removing them in favor of more asphalt and corn. But since my inclination is to worry too much about almost everything, learning that trees know what they are doing has not been easy.

I like oak trees, especially white oaks. They may not be the very best wood for any particular purpose, but they rank up close to the top in just about everything wood is good for. One big old beauty stands right outside our bedroom window. We run the clothesline on pulleys over to it from the deck, the way the Amish run a clothesline from a porch to the side of a barn. Easy to reel the day’s laundry out for drying and back in again. I also take great pleasure in sitting on the deck for unseemly long periods of time staring up into its branches.

Taking special notice of this tree every day, I have become aware of just how many dangers the oaken world faces while it goes about its business.  I am beginning to understand the resilience of nature. The trees will outlast us even if they don’t know

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