In Around the web on April 11, 2011 at 6:00 am
From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER
Cue the xylophone.
Like the dancing skeletons of film history, here come the elected office-holders of the US government cutting their capers in the graveyard of empire, giving the paying customer – er… citizens – a nice case of the Friday night heebie-jeebies in a mock battle over inanities. It made for a few hours of diverting theater, with an emphasis on diversion – since the whole gruesome melodrama of the US budget finally hinged on a ploy to de-fund the Planned Parenthood organization, one of the few useful endeavors left in this land of depravity, monster trucks, and microwaved cheese snacks.
I don’t believe for a moment that the political right cares about the well-being of fetuses, anyway. The abortion issue is just a convenient cudgel to bash their political adversaries on the left. Karl Marx, a useful polemicist if a hinky guide in practical politics, had an apt term for what has become the ideology of the American right wing: “rural idiocy.” It included all the familiar superstitions, phobias, obsessions, bugaboos, misconceptions, animosities, and sadistic impulses of simple country folk. Of course, today we’d have to update it as “suburban idiocy,” because that is where the simple country folk of yesteryear have transpired to relocate, most traumatically in the Sunbelt, More Jim Kunstler…
In Rosalind Peterson on April 10, 2011 at 9:16 am
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson
Radionuclides, once deposited by rainwater or air onto the ground, will find their way through the ecosystem. We are already tracking its path from rainwater to creek runoff to tap water, but we would also like to monitor how much these isotopes that make their way into our food. For example, how much gets taken up by the grass and eventually winds up in our milk?
We have been collecting produce that is as local as possible to test for the radioactive isotopes. We might expect different kinds of plants to take up different quantities of cesium and iodine, so we are trying to measure as many different plants and fruits as we are able to. So far, we have measured spinach, strawberries, cilantro, grass, and mushrooms. We have also measured local topsoil.
In the tables below, we are providing two numbers for each of the isotopes. The first is a standard concentration unit of Becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg) which is the number of particles decaying per second in each kilogram of the sample. The number in parentheses after the activity is the number of kilograms that one would need to consume to equal the radiation exposure of a single round trip flight from San Francisco to Washington D.C. (0.05 mSv). For more information on how this equivalent dose is calculated, the details are here: How Effective Dose is Calculated
The experimental setup used for the food testing is the same setup used for the Rainwater Collection Experiment.
In Around the web on April 10, 2011 at 8:48 am
From a comment on The Automatic Earth…
So it appears to me regarding the budget situation that we have finally arrived at the moment where we have to make “the choice” – for all the false monetary “morality” espoused by the likes of Paul Ryan, well let’s see where your morals truly lie thieving Republicans… if you are in the “we need massive cuts” camp then what exactly does the remaining budget go for – to restore some semblance of humanity to this country – to maybe try to do something different and on a more human scale and actually help the “citizens” get thru this at a livable (albeit much lower) standard of living or is the aim of the cuts… for a much smaller subset of the population and yet another reinforcement of the winner take all mentality that has become our pseudo-religion ? Is it to just basically let anyone not in on the game rot by the wayside as the haves continue to get to have more… well I think I know the answer – so spare me your sudden conversion to fiscal morality and lectures on how we must now live within our means, esteemed budget committee chairman Ryan… please instead tell us what your endgame is for the 300+ million who aren’t in on the joke.
See also Pulling the Plug on Working Families to Give Tax Cuts to Millionaires
The Ryan budget has nothing — not a single frickin’ thing — to do with cutting the federal deficit. It is all about income redistribution, simple as that.
In Around Mendo Island on April 9, 2011 at 7:40 am
From HERB RUHS
In response to your question about sources other than Kropotkin allow me to speak off the top of my head on a subject that I have been pursuing for many years. Undoubtedly, with reflection, I will think of others. I would be thrilled to be part of a seminar on the subject, BTW.
An extensive selection of such sources exist, and most of them are derivative of Kropotkin’s turn of the previous century work on mutual aid. E.O Wilson’s fans, advocates of the “sociobiologic” approach to behavorial science, discuss this phenomena of spontaneous organization into mutual aid which, in that tradition, is felt to be a basic, hardwired if you like, property of the species. The whole idea of altruism in behavioral biology is a battlefield of authoritarian thinking vs. self organizing social structures. Recently Rebecca Solnit wrote the popular book Paradise Built In Hell that gives a good hearing to the phenomena of spontaneous formation of structures of mutual aid in disaster situations. That book has references that are up to date. Other major books supportive of this view include archeological and anthropological works like The Chalace and the Blade More Herb Ruhs…
In Around the web on April 9, 2011 at 7:38 am
Thanks to Doug Mosel
The FDA approval categories and labeling requirements are here–dating back to ’99.
…when transglutaminase enzyme is used to fabricate or reform a cut of meat, the resulting product’s labelinginclude a statement to indicate that the product has been “formed” or“reformed” as part of the product name. The Agency has determined that such labeling is necessary because TG enzyme alters the essential character of a product by making multiple cuts of meat or pieces of muscle tissue appear to be one intact cut or piece of meat, which could mislead consumers about the nature of this type of product. The Agency has determined that the terms “formed” and “reformed” are appropriate descriptive terms. Although it must be revealed in the ingredients statement, the presence of TG enzyme need not be disclosed as part of the product name.
In Around the web on April 9, 2011 at 7:29 am
From THE LIBERTY GARDEN
I love purple carrots. Yellow tomatoes just make my day. Orange beets, blue potatoes, bell peppers the color of dark chocolate, speckled lettuce, and purple green beans all absolutely delight me. I had read all of the foodie and greenie arguments about preserving our gardening heritage and fighting the Man at Monsanto through heirloom vegetables. But alas, I confess; it was the colors that really got me into starting my vegetables from seed and focusing on heirloom varieties. I guess I’m a sucker for novelty. I’m also a sucker for saving a buck, so I began saving seed from open-pollinated cultivars.
First, I should lay out the difference between open-pollinated and hybrids plants. Open-pollinated cultivars (cultivar means a cultivated variety of any plant) are pollinated by the wind or insects. Seeds have been selectively saved over generations to pick the traits the gardener wants, leading to the many different open-pollinated cultivars. If you save the seeds from these plants, you can expect the next generation to be pretty similar to the parent, assuming no cross-pollination. Heirlooms are generally defined as open-pollinated cultivars More Heirloom Seeds…
In Around the web on April 8, 2011 at 7:38 am
From HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER
Peak Oil Blues
This piece is part rant, part educational, part cathartic and part..oh, what does Dr. K call it???, Reb Butler Syndrome. At the end of last year, I resigned from a 25 year career as an engineering professional. There were many reasons why. These are the reasons that are probably ubiquitous to every corporate slave. I offer this to all those who are contemplating rising out of your cubicles and heading to the garden.
Too Much Debt:
In order to have a seat at the company table, I had to invest in it. In order to do that, I had to be in debt. All my life’s savings were tied up within company. Both my sets of my grandparents had gotten through the Great Depression by avoiding debt before and after the cycle. They lived off the land and weathered it out. After land prices deflated to pennies, they culled their livestock and bought up land. They lived long, happy lives. Being in debt went against my grain to the core. Inflation and housing price collapse was eating away at my equity. A few years of 15% inflation would wipe my equity out.
Three month update: Inflation, especially food inflation, is totally out of control More Why I Quit…
In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 8, 2011 at 7:26 am
Video Clip Here
From TODD WALTON
“Divine right of kings means the divine right of anyone who can get uppermost.” Herbert Spencer
I just finished reading an excellent book by British historian Derek Wilson: A Brief History of Henry VIII, 386 pages of densely informative prose that is certainly not brief by American standards. I do not often read history, but I’m glad I read this book because it illuminates much of what’s going on in the world today. But before I tell you a little more about Henry VIII and why his story reminds me so much of George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and innumerable bullies and louts responsible for the ruination of our local, national, and global societies, I thought you might enjoy knowing how I came to be interested in Henry VIII.
“Kings are in the moral order what monsters are in the natural.” Henri Gregoire
Several years ago, I wrote a play about a history professor who has a nervous breakdown that features visitations from Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII’s daughter. When I came out of my trance and found More Todd Walton…
In Around Mendo Island on April 8, 2011 at 6:52 am
From WILL PARRISH
Raj Patel’s first book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, can be read as a ten-chapter exegesis on the ills of global capitalism, as manifested by its gut-wrenching stranglehold over people’s access to food and other basic necessities. At one point in the book, Patel notes in a manner typical of his deeply intelligent yet accessible prose style, that “Unless you’re a corporate food executive, the [food] system isn’t working for you.”
Yet, in February 2010, Stuffed and Starved touched down on the New York Times’ non-fiction best-seller list. For the past few years, Patel has also been much in-demand as a public speaker, making presentations before hundreds of people who crowd university lecture halls and community auditoriums at nearly every stop.
The success of Patel’s work is a reflection of his rare combination of dazzling intellect and irrepressible charm. The British-born American academic, journalist, activist, and writer has a knack for endearing himself More Food Sovereignty…
In Around the web on April 7, 2011 at 8:31 am
Frontispiece and title page of “A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party with a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes, a Survivor of the Little Band of Patriots Who Drowned the Tea in Boston Harbour in 1773.” (New York: S. S. Bliss, 1834)
From THOM HARTMANN
In Around the web on April 7, 2011 at 8:30 am
From DMITRY ORLOV
A particularly annoying question I am often asked and have come to hate is: “How do I invest my money for it to survive financial, political and commercial collapse?” The short answer is: “Nohow. Money will not survive collapse; not yours, not anyone else’s.” But that answer is not acceptable, because accepting it would require a profound loss of faith—faith in money, a profound Götterdämmerung for a civilization based on the worship of money. People want continue to believe all sorts of things: that they can own land (i.e., shares in the Earth), or that they can do good through philanthrophic spending and charity, or that the world with which they have grown up and have lived their lives can collapse all around them, but that if they are informed and prepared, they can survive with all of their middle-class trappings intact. I am told that there is good money to be made in telling them such things.
Those who care to look can easily turn up plenty of evidence that the value of every type of financial asset, not just fiat currency or debt instruments, is unsupported. Its value derives from the goods and services provided by a functioning global industrial economy, which is quickly running out of every type of resource it requires; not just high-EROEI fossil fuels, but also metals, rare earth elements, More Financial Totalitarianism…
In Around the web on April 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm
From ANDREW O’HEHIR
A new film explores the career of the comedy cult hero, whose legend continues to spread 17 years after his death
When Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994, he was just 32 years old but had been a working comedian for more than half his life. He was somewhere on the outer fringes of stardom, having done an HBO special, appeared a dozen times on Letterman and been offered a weekly column in the Nation. But Hicks was also seen as a “comic’s comic,” someone who was too heady and acerbic for a mass audience, and unlikely ever to top-line a sitcom or host a talk show. His last Letterman appearance in late 1993 was edited out of the show entirely, a decision for which the CBS late-night host would apologize to Hicks’ mother, on the air, 16 years later.
In the wake of the first Gulf War and the federal siege of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas, Hicks had become increasingly angry and political, focusing his comic radar on the United States government and everything it represented around the world, especially the mind-set derived from capitalism and consumerism. More Bill Hicks…
In !ACTION CENTER! on April 6, 2011 at 7:52 am
From THOM HARTMANN
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 is first based on survival. Humans must breathe air, eat food, drink water, keep warm, and sleep safely. Once the basic survival and safety needs are accounted for, we turn to our social needs—family, companionship, love, and intellectual stimulation. And when those are covered, we work to fulfill our spiritual or personal needs for growth.
Our institutions reflect this hierarchy of needs. Families, whether tribal nomads or suburban yuppies, first attend to food, water, clothing, and shelter. Then they consider transportation, social interaction, and livelihood. And when those basics are covered, More Thom Hartmann…
In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on April 5, 2011 at 7:31 am
From STEVE CHASE
Can doing Transition be just another upscale distraction, like an evening at the mall?
The exchange below took place between DM, an anti-nuclear activist in Vermont, and Steve Chase, a professor at Antioch University in Keene, NH and co-founder of a local Transition Group. We’ve published an excerpt from Steve’s response.
Is Transition US just a sort of yuppie substitute for taking serious political action on, say, the Yankee G.E. nuke plant in Vernon, VT and the 100+ such plants that are scattered across our country? In a few words, are you simply DIVERTING US, with cutsie-pie, from doing serious and adult things? ~ DM in Vermont
Something that draws in many of the movement’s participants, including me, is that the Transition organizing model promotes an innovative and inspiring strategy for change — and at a local scale that many people see as the most workable for themselves. More Transition…
In Rosalind Peterson on April 5, 2011 at 7:30 am
All is well…
From ROSALIND PETERSON
Agriculture Defense Coalition
[See more links from Rosalind below article. -DS]
[Update: Radioactivity in Sea up 7.5 Million Times]
EPA Plans to Reduce Cleanup of Nuclear Fallout Now
“No rest for the wicked!” Says EPA Employee With a Smile
From Michael Kane
(Special to CollapseNet)
© Copyright 2011 CollapseNetwork, Inc. (Please Distribute Widely)
[Long time readers will remember Michael Kane from his years of writing for From The Wilderness where he proved himself a fearless investigative journalist. Michael also contributed a chapter to my book “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. It’s nice to see him in the field again. – MCR] In the wake More Nuclear…
In Around the web on April 5, 2011 at 7:15 am
[I've been reading this book since Todd Walton praised it in one of his posts. Highly recommended! -DS]
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (b.1931) is an American anthropologist and author. She has written seven books, fiction and non-fiction, and for The New Yorker, National Geographic and The Atlantic Monthly.
Until recently, Bushmen of the Kalahari desert have been described as an ancient people from whom all humans can trace their genetic heritage. They are also called “San.” Among the Bushmen it was with the Ju/wasi group that Thomas lived, in the 1950s, with her brother and parents. (Ju/wasi is plural, Ju/wa is singular.) Her mother, Lorna Marshall, became a noted anthropologist over the course of these and other trips, and her brother devoted most of his life to the Bushmen.
Thomas writes of the Ju/wasi having maintained “at least material aspects of their culture” More Old Way…
In Around the web on April 4, 2011 at 8:46 am
From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER
“We also have Secretary Steven Chu, my Energy Secretary. Where is Steven? There he is over there.” – President Obama at Georgetown U last week
Blame Steven Chu, then, because when it comes to America’s energy predicament, the president has been woefully misinformed. Mr. Obama pawned off a roster of notions and proposals already product-tested in the public meme-o-sphere. Almost everyone of these ideas is inconsistent with reality, based on faulty premises, or represents some kind of magical thinking. What they have in common is that they’re ideas the public wants to hear, whether they are truthful or not, because we don’t want to change the way we live.
The central idea in Mr. Obama’s speech is that we will reduce our oil imports by one-third in a decade. This is a gross distortion of reality. The truth is that our oil imports will be reduced automatically, whether we like it or not. The process is already underway. The nations that export oil to us are using much more of their own oil even while their supplies have passed peak production and entered depletion. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico have some of the highest population growth-rates in the world. They sell gasoline to their own people for less than More Jim Kunstler…
In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on April 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm
From BARRY VOGEL
Originally broadcast February 19th, 2008
Transcribed by Dave Smith
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]
A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words (cont.)
Barry: Tell us about your personal experience with marijuana.
Richard: Well, I stopped smoking about 3 years ago.
R: My lungs are shot… I have congestive heart failure… I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.
B: Do you eat marijuana?
R: Oh no.
B: Have you ever?
R: It makes me want to pass out. I remember eating a brownie at a rock concert and I was prostrate for about two and a half hours. What happens is that my blood vessels expand and my heart can’t keep up and I can’t stand up… I have to stare at the ceiling and try to breathe.
B: Well, Richard, I can’t help but asking, More Richard Johnson…
In Around the web on April 3, 2011 at 8:19 am
Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is placed in interim storage, which are vulnerable to natural disasters, man-made disasters, and to societal changes. In Finland the world’s first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock – a huge system of underground tunnels – that must last 100,000 years as this is how long the waste remains hazardous.
Once the waste has been deposited and the repository is full, the facility is to be sealed off and never opened again. Or so we hope, but can we ensure that? And how is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures? Which languages and signs will they understand? And if they understand, will they respect our instructions? While gigantic monster machines dig deeper and deeper into the dark, experts above ground strive to find solutions to this crucially important radioactive waste issue to secure mankind and all species on planet Earth now and in the near and very distant future.
Captivating, wondrous and extremely frightening, this feature documentary takes viewers on a journey never seen before into the underworld and into the future.
In Around the web on April 3, 2011 at 8:18 am
Thanks to Sean Re: The speech they seem to forget, exactly one year before his death (audio)…
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, and some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: More Martin Luther King, Jr….
In Around the web on April 3, 2011 at 8:13 am
From Thom Hartmann’s Blog
The real Boston Tea Party was a protest against huge corporate tax cuts for the British East India Company, the largest trans-national corporation then in existence. This corporate tax cut threatened to decimate small Colonial businesses by helping the BEIC pull a Wal-Mart against small entrepreneurial tea shops, and individuals began a revolt that kicked-off a series of events that ended in the creation of The United States of America.
They covered their faces, massed in the streets, and destroyed the property of a giant global corporation. Declaring an end to global trade run by the East India Company that was destroying local economies, this small, masked minority started a revolution with an act of rebellion later called the Boston Tea Party.
That is how I tell the story of the Boston Tea Party, now that I have read a first-person account of it. While striving to understand my nation’s struggles against corporations, in a rare book store I came upon a first edition of “Retrospect of the Boston Tea Party More Boston Tea Party…
In Around the web on April 2, 2011 at 9:18 am
From THE AMERICAN PROSPECT
Will the economy follow Wal-Mart’s race to the bottom—or will social counterweights or other business models demonstrate a better way?
Full On-Line Report Here
In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 2, 2011 at 6:51 am
From TODD WALTON
“More relative than this—the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” William Shakespeare
Yes, it will only be a staged reading in a tiny theater on the fringes of civilization, but I feel like my play Milo & Angel is about to open on Broadway. And you’re invited! When I was sixteen years old, I decided to try to make my way as a playwright and actor amidst the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd, but other scenarios intervened, other roads were taken, and all the plays I wrote remained hidden from public view.
True, the actors will be sitting in chairs and holding scripts as they perform, and they will only have rehearsed a few times under the inspired guidance of Sandra Hawthorne, but they will be on a real stage in a real theater (not a living room or a café) imbuing my lines with character. What an amazing process it has been so far, the blessed night still to come—April 13, a Wednesday evening at 7 PM at the Helen Schoeni Theater at the Mendocino Art Center—mark your calendars.
“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” George Bernard Shaw
More Todd Walton…
In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on April 2, 2011 at 6:45 am
From BARRY VOGEL
Originally broadcast February 19th, 2008
Transcribed by Dave Smith
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]
A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words (cont.)
Barry: Richard, I want to stay with marijuana for a bit. Some people have said that the concept of medical marijuana is a political ruse… that many people enjoy marijuana just as many people enjoy wine… but we don’t hear of medical wine. Why do we hear of medical marijuana? Why not just allow marijuana to be?
Richard: I don’t know. I favor complete decriminalization. I believe medical marijuana was sold to the people of California in Proposition 215 as a half-way step to decriminalization in order to benefit people who are suffering, who needed medical marijuana, for example, on their way to die, or undergoing chemotherapy… and it is compassionate. So the voters of California said ok, for these suffering patients we will decriminalize marijuana, but only in this way. However, because it is only a partial decriminalization, it has created the situation that you noted before… the crime, the environmental abuse, the foreigners coming in, under the guise of medical marijuana… because partial decriminalization of a banned substance creates the anomalous situation of ample supply and high price simultaneously which contradicts a lot of economics… that’s what partial bans do. The way I state it is that medical marijuana is a government-granted franchise More Richard Johnson…
In Around the web on April 1, 2011 at 8:37 am
From GRAY BRECHIN
Thanks to Alan Nicholson
Many of those who worked for the New Deal believed that they were building a civilization. They left us thousands of schools, colleges, bridges, dams, murals, parks and aqueducts, now falling into ruin, as did those of ancient Rome. To recover their vision, we must relearn an ethical language now as alien as Latin. It speaks to us from the buildings New Dealers left in their faith that we would continue to build toward greater human happiness and opportunity.
“The noblest motive is the public good,” declares an inscription from Virgil on San Diego’s County Administration Building. A terrazzo floor in its rotunda proclaims, “Good government requires the intelligent interest of every citizen.”
A Deco relief of St. George slaying the dragon of ignorance on Berkeley High School bears a text panel announcing, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” That, after all, was what the public education we are told we can no longer afford was ideally all about.
All of these structures share a common origin: They mushroomed in the brief spasm of public building activity launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. They were designed to lift the country out of the Great Depression by giving millions work, More Legacy…
In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on April 1, 2011 at 8:20 am
From MIKE SWEENEY
When the United States Postal Service announced that it had financial reasons to close the Ukiah Post Office, many voices said: “Show us the numbers.”
Since the USPS is a government agency, I assumed such information was in the public record and filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The USPS denied it.
Both the City of Ukiah and Congressman Mike Thompson’s office asked for the same information, and they were denied too.
Then the City asked for permission to inspect the post office building so that it could make an independent evaluation of repair costs, if any. More than two weeks after this request, the USPS hasn’t bothered to reply.
This stonewalling doesn’t do the USPS any good. It arouses mistrust and casts doubt on the truthfulness of any of their numbers. As Councilman Doug Crane told a local newspaper, “It appears to be rationalized math. Without their willingness to disclose what supports the math how can we accept or consider that math is valid in any way?”
More Mike Sweeney…