Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Ted Trainer: The Way I Live

In Around the web on May 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

The Simpler Way

This account is intended to make two important points. Firstly we could live very cheaply compared with the normal lifestyle in consumer society, and secondly this could yield a very high quality of life. Unfortunately people tend to think that we could not move to much lower rates of consumption without giving up most of the things that make life enjoyable, but this is a mistake. Living simply does not have to imply hardship or deprivation. There are many sources of interest, activity and satisfaction available in a materially simple lifestyle.

The passages in bold type below refer to the way I actually do live. The normal type refers to things I am not able to do but would do if I lived in a neighbourhood that had been redesigned according to alternative principles. More Ted Trainer…

A Pigpen for the Backyard

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on May 31, 2011 at 5:47 am

From GENE LOGSDON (1985)
The Contrary Farmer
Garden Farm Skills

[Please visit the upgraded pages for Gene's Books here and Post Archive by Title here. -DS]

Loose talk about pigpens in the yard will send the blood pressure soaring in the veins of local zoning officials, if not your neighbors. It’s perfectly all right in our culture to keep a dog half the size of a cow in the yard, letting it bark all night and running all over town dropping manure in its wake. But a quiet, clean hog producing something useful like pork chops? Heaven forbid.

People think hogs are dirty because hogs will survive in crowded conditions. Because hogs will survive in crowded conditions, humans have always raised them that way, the better to make a buck. Try raising cats like we do hogs, and you’ll know what dirt and stench are really like.

A neighbor woman has for twelve years More Gene…

Freak Storms — Ready For More?

In Around the web on May 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Naomi Klein on Climate Change


In a world of climate change, freak storms are the new normal. Newsweek’s Sharon Begley on why we’re unprepared for the harrowing future, and how adapting to the inevitable might be our only option.

Joplin, Missouri, was prepared. The tornado warning system gave residents 24 minutes’ notice that a twister was bearing down on them. Doctors and nurses at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, who had practiced tornado drills for years, moved fast, getting patients away from windows, closing blinds, and activating emergency generators. And yet more than 130 people died in Joplin, including four people at St. John’s, where the tornado sucked up the roof and left the building in ruins, like much of the shattered city.

More Climate Change…

Peet’s at Peet’s or Peet’s at Zach’s?

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on May 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm



To the Editors:

The Peet’s Corporation has asked the Ukiah City Council not to ban it from our downtown (See UDJ Article Below). The choice could not be clearer. We have access to Peet’s fresh-brewed coffees at Schat’s Bakery downtown, owned by Zachery Schat and his family. Now the Peet’s Corporation, traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, wants the right to move into our downtown.

There is only one difference between the two companies: More Schat’s…

On Memorial Day, America Should Honor Her Troops by Bringing Them Home

In Around the web on May 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm

The Nation

It is unfortunate but true that on this Memorial Day — when we pause to honor those Americans who have fought the good fights against British colonialism, the sin of slavery and the menace of fascism — U.S. troops are currently bogged down in a quagmire of George Bush’s creation in Afghanistan and an continuing mission of Bush’s creation in Iraq.

Appallingly, Barack Obama has maintained Bush’s undeclared wars of occupation. And he has now steered the United States into another fight with Libya.

Everything about these undeclared and open-ended conflicts is at odds with the vision of the founders of the American experiment — who generally shared James Madison’s view that “permanent war” posed the greatest More Bring Them Home…

Fukushima Equals 3,000 Billion Lethal Doses

In Around the web on May 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

Veterans Today

…There are at least 48.6 Chernobyls in the burning old reactor cores pumping fiery isotopes into the Earth’s atmosphere. It is no stretch to say Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors and the dry holding pools for old reactor cores are equal to more than 50 Chernobyl disasters…

Looking at the current Japanese meltdown as more than 50 Chernobyls is just the start. In addition, the fate of the four nearby reactors at Fukushima Daini is as yet unknown by the outside world. Working at the nearby reactors, only 10 km (6 miles away) is a quick, painful death sentence. They are inside the mandatory evacuation zone.

This much is known. All radioactive exposures are cumulative for each human, animal and plant. What’s more, mutated genetic codes are passed on to offspring forever. More Fukushima…

The last days of the salt-is-bad fad

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on May 28, 2011 at 7:30 am


A new study finds that low-salt diets actually increase the risk of death from heart attack and stroke — and in fact don’t prevent high blood pressure.

For something that’s so often mixed with anti-caking agents, salt takes a lot of lumps in the American imagination. Like fat, people tend to think of it as an unnecessary additive — something to be avoided by seeking out processed foods that are “free” of it. But also like fat, salt is an essential component of the human diet — one that has been transformed into unhealthy forms by the food industry.

Historically, though, salt was prized. Its reputation can be found in phrases like, “Worth one’s salt,” meaning, “Worth one’s pay,” since people were often paid in salt and the word itself is derived from the Latin salarium, or salary.

Those days are long over. More Salt…

The last days of the soy-is-good fad

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on May 28, 2011 at 7:29 am


Studies have found that soy-fed infants have estrogen levels an average of seventeen thousand times higher than infants fed human or cow’s milk.

Thanks to Michael Pollan, many Americans are now aware that when a food boasts a health claim it usually means it’s actually not that healthy after all. But there’s one food that consistently flies below the radar despite its numerous health claims when found in processed and packaged foods: Soy. A long-time staple in the American health food repertoire, it is a prominent example of Pollan’s observation. And the research is mounting that soy foods are not only questionable in terms of their benefits, but in fact, may be hazardous to your health.

Most recently, the Cornucopia Institute conducted research on the processing of soy foods and found that the industry commonly uses hexane—a petroleum-based solvent and known neurotoxin Less Soy…

The last days of the fat-is-bad fad

In BS Buzzer on May 28, 2011 at 7:27 am


If you work out the numbers, you come to the surreal conclusion that you can eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease.” 

The low-fat trend finally appears to be on its way out. The notion that saturated fats are detrimental to our health is deeply embedded in our Zeitgeist—but shockingly, the opposite just might be true. For over 50 years the medical establishment, public health officials, nutritionists, and dieticians have been telling the American people to eat a low-fat diet, and in particular, to avoid saturated fats. Only recently, have nutrition experts begun to encourage people to eat “healthy fats.”

This past December, the Los Angeles Times reported that excess carbohydrates and sugar, not fat, are responsible for America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. One of the lead researchers in this field, Dr. Frank Hu, More Fat…

Charles Hugh Smith: There are community-based alternatives to Corporate America

In Around Mendo Island on May 27, 2011 at 8:09 am


As I have often observed, the majority of America’s household income flows to a handful of corporate cartels protected by the Central State. Most of the mortgage payments flow to the “too big to fail” banks. Most of the telecom payments flow to the few companies in the telecom cartel. Most of the energy money flow to the energy cartel. Most of the food budget go to the Big Ag cartel and the retail cartel. Most of the money spent on “entertainment” flows to the corporate media cartel, and so on.

Most of the global media is owned by 5 or 6 corporations. Most of the radio stations in the U.S. are owned by two corporations. This tremendous concentration of ownership of the nation’s assets gives these cartels immense political power, and so the Central State acts as “partner” to Corporate America, protecting the cartels from competition More Charles Hugh Smith…

Todd Walton: Both At Once

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 27, 2011 at 7:34 am


“Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Morning: A beautiful day in Mendocino, the rhododendrons madly blooming, the headlands a riot of wild roses and wild irises and wild mustard, while across the ocean a terrible thing is happening: four nuclear reactors in Japan are out of control, melting down, and turning vast areas of that nation into dead zones for thousands of years to come.

“The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world.” Allen Ginsberg

Noon: A friend writes to say his business is doing well, his daughter about to get married, and he hasn’t felt so well in ages. In the same mail is a note from another friend telling me about his neighbor, a fellow from Japan, who now has five relatives living with him in his tiny apartment in Berkeley, More Todd Walton…

Will Parrish: Vineyard Frost Protection’s Chilling Impact

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on May 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

The Anderson Valley Advertiser

In the next few weeks, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is slated to release its final draft of new regulations governing water pumping for frost protection by the biologically invasive vineyard species of the Russian River basin. A debate concerning the wine industry’s impact on watersheds generally, and on the Russian River basin particularly, has intensified accordingly.

For their part, local environmental organizations have been pressing for much stronger regulations than the perennially agribusiness-friendly SWRCB has been wont to consider. To a large extent, the environmentalists — not to mention the the fish who reside in the river — have been aided by the federal government’s National Marine Fisheries Service, representatives of which have documented numerous fish killings and strandings More WIll Parrish…

The Domestic Apocalyptic Goddess of Doom Summer Reading List

In Books on May 26, 2011 at 9:05 am


Summer is just about here, and you need some summer reading. Light. Fuzzy. Delightful. Amusing. Perfect for the deck chair or the sand. Nevermind the fact that you are a low-energy, transitioning, cheap, homseteading type, and your deck chair is probably planted on your porch, and the sand is the local playground sandpit – hey, it is summer, you’ve got to kick back with a book. But what book? The contemporary equivalent of The Devil Wears Prada isn’t exactly the stuff of anti-consumerist legend. He may not be that into you, but since really you are both into your garden, who gives a hoot? No, we need our own summer reading list, and of course, your blogsite has you covered. So here’s what you can take to the (nearby, busable) beach with you!

I don’t buy a lot of sustainability/farmy books new – the single biggest benefit of being a writer is that people send them to me free (boy, oh boy has this been bad for my book habit!)… More Reading List here

Privatization: The Road to Hell

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on May 26, 2011 at 8:01 am


Billionaires are different from you and me, for obvious reasons, including the fact that they buy much pricier baubles than we do.

A sleek car costing $100,000? Why, for them, that’s just an easy impulse purchase. A few million bucks for a Matisse original? Go ahead — it’ll liven up the hallway. How about throwing a fat wad of cash at a university to get an academic chair named for you? Sure, it’s all part of the fun of living in BillionaireLand.

Then there is the top crust of the upper-crust — such megalomaniacal megabillionaires as the Koch brothers. Using money from their industrial conglomerate, their foundation and their personal fortunes, these two far-out, laissez-faire extremists are literally buying public policy. Their purchases of everything from politicians to the tea party help them push the privatization of all things public and the elimination of pesky regulations and taxes that crimp their style. More Privatization…

A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!

In Around the web on May 26, 2011 at 7:38 am

Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. More Joplin…

Calling All Seed Savers

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on May 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

About this project

Heritage Seed Co. is an organic farm collective and a online community building project.

Our mission is to bring back the lost foods of our country and teach interested gardeners the value of fresh. local, and heirloom produce.  We are also going to provide support and encouragement for more to plant gardens and seed save/trade. We are committed to preserving the past with the help of modern technology and social media.

Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato is one of the varieties we are saving.  But we are also saving the Paw Paw a fruit bearing tree that tastes kind of like a banana and is native to our region.  We have a diverse list of starters that will grow as the project grows but this is a slow process and it will take many years to root some of the varities.

Heritage Seed Co. has targeted 30 plants on the Slow Foods Ark of Taste endangered foods list that we are planting in our greenhouses More Seed Savers…

Alan Kapuler — Peace Seeds: Man of Science, Ideas, and Humanity

In Around the web on May 25, 2011 at 8:45 am


Video 1 | Video 2
[Very inspiring... -DS]

This is Dr. Alan Kapuler, founder of Peace Seeds, and former co-founder and research director for Seeds of Change. He currently resides in Corvallis, Oregon where he continues his research projects, and maintains his remarkable organic seed catalog.

Dr. Alan Kapuler is a man who thinks on big time scales, and across wide geographic spheres of reality.

A molecular biologist by training, as a young adult, Kapuler experienced an almost spiritual connection from working with plants. Years later, he became a public domain organic plant breeder, and an impassioned advocate for the protection of the natural world. Kapuler believes, the interconnectedness of all living things—biodiversity itself, is the true seed of life. Widely regarded as the founding father of the organic seed movement, Kapuler’s reverence of living things is embodied in his daily work—planting, More Kapuler…

We want a world as it should be

In Mendo Island Transition on May 25, 2011 at 8:08 am

Transition US

After decades of accepting the world as it is …, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be. — President Obama (speaking about the Middle East, 5/19/11)

President Obama -

We want a world as it should be: a world where people quit fouling their own nest, where money isn’t the only object, a world where people consider the planet we are leaving to our children.

In the past few months, your executive order has indefinitely rescinded EPA limits on emissions from industrial boilers which power oil refineries, chemical plants and other factories. You have slow-tracked new rules on storing toxic coal ash. (source)

We want a world as it should be: where government protects the health of the people from powerful corporate interests, where government takes action to protect the environment and to slow global warming.

Right now, More What We Want…

Transition: Why I care more about the Koch brothers than heirloom tomatoes

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on May 24, 2011 at 8:30 am

Transition Voice

“Why do you write about politics so much? Why so negative?  Why not more stories on Permaculture?” are questions we sometimes get from readers. Often followed by a statement about what the Transition movement is really about.

Transition, we are told, is really about “positive actions in the local community” such as…

  • Planting community gardens
  • Working with your city council to cut energy use in municipal buildings
  • Printing a local currency

For the record, I’m a fan of all the above. I’m just not ready yet to join Voltaire’s Candide in withdrawing from the world to cultivate my garden.

Gardening in the community More Transition…

How To Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds

In Around the web, Garden Farm Skills on May 24, 2011 at 8:20 am


Real On-Line Democratic Farming

In Around the web on May 24, 2011 at 6:30 am


The farm is on the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate. You’ll be part of a group of 10,000 online Farmers working with farm manager Richard Morris to decide how it should be run. You’ll vote once a month, discuss the issues with other members and explore the world of farming.

Introducing your expert farming advisors

Author Farmer Jon

As you can already tell, farming is a complex business and we want to make sure that we’re giving you as much information and as many angles as possible.

To help us, we’ve enlisted the help of five prominent figures in the farming world.

They’ll be working with us in a couple of different ways, talking to Richard about how the project should be run and who we should talk to, but also getting involved in the discussions themselves…

The animals of MyFarm More MyFarm…

The Next Golden Age

In Around the web on May 23, 2011 at 7:53 am


The Next Golden Age will blossom without the burden of the Savior State and its Elites and fiefdoms

I recently received this insightful challenge to address the positive future that potentially lies beyond devolution and collapse:

Good morning sir, I love your writing I read it everyday. You focus so much on the coming collapse and not at all the inevitable rebirth and the beginning of the next 80-year cycle. Would you spend some time speculating about the new golden age beginning in 2021 or so? Your glass half empty pessimism is sometime overwhelming.

Thank you,

Sgt C., U.S. Marines

Thank you, Sgt C., for suggesting the challenge of imagining not just collapse (all too easy) but a positive rebirth from the ashes of the present unsustainable status quo.

In a way, I’ve already tried to address this with my book Survival+, but with the focus on individual, household and community actions. What I will attempt in this occasional series More Golden Age…

Derrick Jensen: Deep Green Resistance

In Around the web on May 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm


[With many fans in this area, Derrick Jensen takes the next step. However, I think it's a mistake to advocate violence, and I don't endorse the tactics, doomed to failure, discussed on Jensen's website. -DS]

What is Deep Green Resistance?

Deep Green Resistance is an analysis, a strategy, and a movement being born — the only movement of its kind.

As an analysis, it reveals the last 10,000 years of human history–the rise and dominance of civilization–as the culture of death that is now threatening every living being on Earth.

As a strategy, it critiques ineffective lifestyle actions and explains their inevitable failure to stop the destruction of people, species, and the planet. In contrast, DGR offers a concrete plan for how to stop that destruction.

As an aboveground movement, just now taking its first steps, Deep Green Resistance is based on this analysis and implementing this strategy. And we’re recruiting. More Derrick Jensen…

Martin Luther King, Jr. On Nonviolence

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on May 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm

From MLK

In his speech on receiving the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King Jr recognized that the prize was made as a response to violence: “I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeing to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation.”

“After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time — the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”

In his speech, King refers to More MLK…

Reveille for Radicals

In Books on May 21, 2011 at 7:37 am


The American people were, in the beginning, Revolutionaries and Tories. The American people ever since have been Revolutionaries and Tories regardless of the labels of the passed and present. Regardless of whether they were Federalists, Democrat-Republicans, Whigs, Know-Nothings, Free Soilers, Unionists or Confederates, Populists, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, or Progressives. They have been and are profiteers and patriots. They have been and are conservatives, liberals, and radicals.

The class of radicals, conservatives, and liberals which makes up America’s political history opens the door to the most fundamental question of what is America? How do the people of America feel? It is in the feeling that the real story of America is written. There were and are a number of Americans — few, to be sure — filled with deep feeling for people. They know that people are the stuff that makes up the dream of democracy. These few were and are More Alinsky…

Spain’s Icelandic Revolt

In Around the web on May 21, 2011 at 7:30 am

From Oscar Gutiérrez- El Pais

After passively submitting to the crisis, young Spaniards have finally taken to the street. Breaking out on the eve of municipal elections, the protests of recent days have been inspired by those in Iceland that led to the fall of the government in Reykjavik.

One morning in October 2008, Torfason Hördur turned up at what Icelanders call the “Althing”, the Icelandic parliament in the capital city, Reykjavik. By then, the country’s biggest bank, the Kaupthing, had already gone into receivership and the Icelandic financial system itself was in danger of going under. Torfason, with his guitar, grabbed a microphone and invited people to talk about their dissatisfaction with the freefall of their country and to speak their minds.

The following Saturday Torfason’s initiative brought dozens of people back to the same spot. Those Saturdays in the autumn of 2008, rallying to the People’s Voices movement, led to the proclamation to dissolve Parliament on January 23, 2009, and to hold elections. Now the murmur of the Icelanders has reached the throats of the thousands of demonstrators that gathered in several cities around Spain on 15 May: “Spain arise, another Iceland”, “Our model – Iceland” were some of the yells from the crowds. More Revolt…

Right Wing Understands Saul Alinsky — Why Doesn’t the Left?

In Books on May 21, 2011 at 7:13 am


With any book, one of the most important pieces of that work is its frame or context. In “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky lays out his largest frame brilliantly in his chapter “The Purpose” when he talks about class distinctions.

“The setting for the drama of change has never varied. Mankind has been and is divided into three parts: the Haves and Have-Nots, and the Have-A-Little, Want Mores.”

Alinsky then includes a social critique worthy of writers from Thomas Hobbes to John Locke to Thomas Malthus to Karl Marx. In many ways, he summarizes the meta-story of most of Charles Dickens’ novels (Dickens’ father had spent time in a debtors prison). For example:

“On the top are the Haves with power, money, food, security, and luxury. They suffocate in their surpluses while the Have-Nots starve. Numerically, the Haves have always been More Alinsky…

Todd Walton: Ball Bear Cat Piano

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 20, 2011 at 7:23 am

Photo by Marcia Sloane


“A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.” Humphrey Bogart

Jon Miller, my favorite bard of baseball, recently used the words egregious, preposterous, cerulean, prodigious, and greensward whilst painting verbal pictures of our San Francisco Giants sweeping the Rockies and the Snakes, and making history as they did so. Jon revealed today during a lopsided loss to the Cubs, that no team in the long history of baseball had ever won six home games in a row in which they scored less than four runs in any of those six games. I agree that isn’t nearly as important as the ongoing meltdowns of the Fukushima nuclear power plants, but it does prove we have some mighty impressive pitching.

Sometimes Jon will quote the Bard (Shakespeare) himself. Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
 Hover through the fog…” might have been written More Todd Walton…

Janie Sheppard: Ukiah Shop Local (video)

In Around Mendo Island on May 20, 2011 at 7:20 am


After watching a video version of a 1937 film made by the original owner of the Ukiah Theater on State Street, I found a modern version here. Do go to the Grace Hudson Museum to watch the 1937 Buy Local film. The narrator tells us that all the local businesses pay most of the taxes that support our schools, paved roads, police and firefighters. You gotta love that guy. Great film of businesses that you might recognize and people who your grandmother might recognize. The film is part of the excellent exhibit now at the Museum, and it’s on a small TV to the left as you enter the exhibit (I missed it the first time).

Scott Cratty: Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 5/21/11

In Around Mendo Island on May 20, 2011 at 7:00 am


Friends of the Farmers’ Market,

Despite the long, cool Winter the produce at the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market is off to a booming start!!

Last weekend Mendocino Organics’ bounty was so great that they were able to sell some excess from their CSA.  Expect a repeat this weekend including some kale, spinach, and their giant meal-for-four sized green romaine lettuce.

Amazingly we had two new area farms make their debut at the Ukiah Saturday market.  Coastal Ridge Farm is currently offering a selection of greens, with a few different salad/greens mixes: an all-lettuce Oak Leaf Mix (red and green leaves), a Braising Mix (with kale, mustard, and cress)that can be used in cooking as well as to spruce up a salad, a European Mesclun Salad mix that has baby kale, mustard, cress, mache, and radicchio (no lettuce), as well as a custom mix that will probably include some of the mesclun and some lettuces. They also have small to medium sized head lettuces including More Farmers Market…

Will Parrish: Wine Mogul Jess Jackson’s True Legacy

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on May 19, 2011 at 6:40 am


It was a striking display of the corporate media’s capacity to dumb down and mislead: A billionaire wine mogul who perpetrated vast environmental harm and perhaps contributed more overall to the rural gentrification of California’s north and central coast regions than any single individual, during a period spanning more than the past two destructive decades, had passed away. The largest daily newspapers and television news programs universally failed to mention any of these controversial aspects of the billionaire’s legacy, instead hailing him as a fallen hero, paragon of the American system of free enterprise, and unswerving steward of the land. To the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, he was “a man of the earth, who walked the land in his grandfather’s boots, talked of farming as a spiritual experience and quietly gave back some of his vast wealth to the local community.”

The man in question, of course, is Jess Jackson, More Will Parrish…

Book Review: A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization And How To Save It

In Books on May 19, 2011 at 6:35 am

Mud City Press
Via Energy Bulletin

Why does neoliberal capitalism fail to see that in ravaging the biosphere it’s spelling its own demise (with the Stern Review memorably calling climate change “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen”)?

There are two common reactions to news about our species’ present-day crisis. One is confusion and bewilderment arising from the fact that even the experts can’t seem to agree on which threats are real or what to do about them. The other is despair at the sheer number of crises and the dire implications of each, which can eventually lead to tune-out, apathy and annoyance whenever they’re mentioned. Neither response is productive, and thus there’s a dawning recognition on the part of experts, activists and educators that the way in which these issues are presented to the public must change if we’re to keep people engaged.

One person calling for such a change in focus is international security analyst Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. More User’s Guide…

Howard Zinn on Democracy and Civil Disobedience

In !ACTION CENTER! on May 19, 2011 at 6:32 am



Seven guidelines for civil disobedience

  • Civil disobedience is the deliberate, discriminate, violation of law for a vital social purpose. It becomes not only justifiable but necessary when a fundamental human right is at stake, and when legal channels are inadequate for securing that right. It may take the form of violating an obnoxious law, protesting an unjust condition, or symbolically enacting a desirable law or condition. It may or may not eventually be held legal, because of constitutional law or international law, but its aim is always to close the gap between law and justice, as an infinite process in the development of democracy.
  • There is no social value to a general obedience to the law, any more than there is value to a general disobedience to the law. Obedience to bad laws as a way of inculcating some abstract subservience More Howard Zinn…

The 50 Most Influential Progressives of the Twentieth Century

In Around the web on May 18, 2011 at 7:30 am

The Nation

A hundred years ago, any soapbox orator who called for women’s suffrage, laws protecting the environment, an end to lynching, workers’ right to form unions, a progressive income tax, a federal minimum wage, old-age insurance, the eight-hour workday and government-subsidized healthcare would be considered an impractical utopian dreamer or a dangerous socialist. Now we take these ideas for granted. The radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense of the next. When that happens, give credit to the activists and movements that fought to take those ideas from the margins to the mainstream. We all stand on the shoulders of earlier generations of radicals and reformers who challenged the status quo of their day.

Unfortunately, most Americans know little of this progressive history. It isn’t taught in most high schools. You can’t find it on the major television networks or even on the History Channel. Indeed, our history is under siege. More Progressives…

Michio Kaku: This is Huge! Raging Meltdowns and Uncontrolled Release of Radiation and Plutonium at Fukushima [Updated]

In Around the web on May 18, 2011 at 7:29 am

[Update: Nuclear Physicist: Most of the fallout from plutonium-containing MOX fuel will drop on U.S., unless very strong winds take it elsewhere Interview with Akira Tokuhiro, Nuclear Engineer: Fukushima and the Mass Media, Vivian Norris for Hufffington Post, May 17, 2011: [...] Fukushima differs from other nuclear reactors in that it uses a dirty fuel or MOX which is banned in many of the countries where nuclear power is a major energy source. My Swedish-Russian nuclear physicist friend is sending me links for reliable radioactivity readings and weather/wind patterns. We must remember some of what is posted on the internet are simulations, not actual readings. But he did add this: The most terrifying fact is that the Japanese power plants are using ‘dirty’ fuel, which most countries have rejected and banned. Needless to say that the Americans built them. Since the Earth is moving Counterclockwise most of the fall-out will drop on U.S., unless very strong winds take it somewhere else. [...] Meltdowns…

Situation at Fukushima is out of control… it’s a global problem now

In Around the web on May 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Video here

The situation at the Fukushima plant is currently out of control, says Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, who gave RT his insight into the recent developments in Japan.

“Of course, it’s time for the Japanese government to take control. But having said that, it’s very hard to know how you could take control of the situation. The situation is essentially out of control,”

Busby stressed.

“I believe personally that it’s a global problem – and not the Japanese government’s problem only,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that his government was determined to “take responsibility” for Japan’s crippled nuclear plant “right to the end” as the operator of the plant said a revised roadmap to resolve the crisis would stick with the existing timeline. More Out of Control…

Movie review: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

In Books on May 17, 2011 at 7:40 am

LA Times

The fascinating documentary gives the back story of the book and its author, including interviews with people who know Lee and celebrities who are fans of the book.

Many books and films have partisans who insist their works are loved and admired by the American people, but “To Kill a Mockingbird” is the real thing.

The Harper Lee novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has sold nearly 50 million copies in the 50 years since its publication. And when the U.S. Postal Service recently issued a stamp honoring “Mockingbird” star Gregory Peck, it used a still from that Oscar-winning performance as its image.

But what of Nelle Harper Lee, the young Southern writer from Monroeville, Ala., whose reaction to all this success, she said in a radio interview, was one of “sheer numbness, being hit over the head and knocked cold.” What has happened to her? Why hasn’t she given any interviews since 1964 or written any other novels since this remarkable success?

Writer-director Mary McDonagh Murphy addresses these questions and others in her documentary “Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’” More Harper Lee…

James Houle: Egypt Tries to Overcome the Army

In James Houle on May 17, 2011 at 7:36 am

Redwood Valley

With a rebel force supported by neo-colonialists from France, UK and Italy attacking the Qaddafi regime in Libya,widespread demonstrations and heavy-handed suppression by Bashar al-Assad in Syria, brutal suppression by King Khalifa in Bahrain using Saudi tanks, and weekly mass marches upon the Presidential Palace in Yemen, the calm that is Egypt today is hard to believe – unless you are there.

Your Editor, Jim Houle returned from a visit to Egypt in late April and can tell you that the Egyptians are a most peaceful and accommodating people and that their sense of common identity as Egyptians above all else, goes back at least three thousand years and holds them together.

Yet the Army arrested American University Law Professor Amr Shalakany during a recent altercation and charged him with “insulting the military Supreme Council”. The Army Supreme Council were given sole executive power in Egypt after President Mubarrak resigned 11 February following weeks of mass demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Suez and many other cities. More James Houle…

Good news for a failing American Empire (or would we rather take ourselves into the abyss in exchange for hot pizza and cold beer?)

In Around the web on May 17, 2011 at 7:35 am

Photo: Llyn Gayatri Crounse

Transition Voice

When people tell me the dire messages about which I write don’t resonate with other people, I struggle with a coherent response. Would you prefer continued overshoot on an overshot planet? Would you prefer we keep heating our overheated home? Would you prefer we ignore the most important issues in the history of our species?

Okay, well party on, brothers and sisters, until you can be bothered to extract your heads from the sand. You’re welcome to operate as if as long as we ignore reality, it’ll all be fine. That is the cultural norm.

Judging from their actions, most people I know are more committed to maintaining their imperial lifestyles than in securing the lives of their children by retaining a livable habitat for humans on Earth. At least for me, this aberrant behavior explains how we managed to find ourselves in this dire array of interconnected predicaments. Empathy is so rare More Good News…

Gene Logsdon: The Gentle Approach to Animals Saves Time and Money

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on May 16, 2011 at 9:32 am

From GENE LOGSDON (1985)
The Contrary Farmer
…with 2011 update
Garden Farm Skills

With a very small number of animals on a homestead, the whole tenor of livestock management differs from that of the commercial farm. You get to know your few animals well as individuals, and you become almost friends with them. Chore time becomes pleasurable. If you have hostile animals, you can get rid of them and buy others. And, if after a while you cannot find gentle animals, nature is telling you something. I have always believed that a good dairyman would be successful in any working relationship with humans because if you can get along well with a bunch of cows, you can get along well with anyone.

Animals are creatures of habit, too. Domesticated, they will tolerate being trained to a routine somewhat foreign to their instincts, but once that routine is established, they do not look kindly upon an abrupt change. Change only confuses and alarms them. You must be patient, or suffer the consequences.

A totally gentled cow — the only animal I can talk about with conviction — is a pleasure to be around, more relaxing companionship than most people. More Gene Logsdon…

Crisis of Capitalism

In Around the web on May 16, 2011 at 7:37 am


Rev Billy: On Being Jailed For Protesting The Koch Brothers

In Around the web on May 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Battle of the haircuts


I’m at home now. Sitting in my window listening to Thelonius Monk.

On Wednesday night 500 people marched on Lincoln Center in a most unusual way. The protest – this commons-retaking – filled the plaza with a from-everywhere kind of diverse crowd. They turned the imagery the great buildings into a comic critique of Charles and David Koch. The oil moguls who gave Lincoln Center $100 million are the bucks behind the Tea Party, climate change denial, homophobia – just the beginning of a long list of Evil-doing. More Rev Billy…

So, the Rich create jobs? No they don’t… We do.

In Around the web on May 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Campaign for America’s Future

You hear it again and again, variation after variation on a core message: if you tax rich people it kills jobs. You hear about “job-killing tax hikes,” or that “taxing the rich hurts jobs,” “taxes kill jobs,” “taxes take money out of the economy,” “if you tax the rich they won’t be able to provide jobs.” … on and on it goes. So do we really depend on “the rich” to “create” jobs? Or do jobs get created when they fill a need?

Here is a recent typical example, Obama Touts Job-Killing Tax Plan, written by a “senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth,”

Some people, in their pursuit of profit, benefit their fellow humans by creating More We Create Jobs…

Jesus Lays On That Hippie Stuff Pretty Thick

In Around the web on May 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

Bill Maher: If you rejoice in revenge, torture and war …you’re not a Christian

During Friday night’s “New Rules” segment on Real Time, Bill Maher argued that “non-violence was Jesus’ trademark” and that Christians who celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden are not faithful to the teachings of Christ.

“If you’re a Christian and support killing your enemies and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself,” Maher said.

“Capping thine enemy is not exactly what Jesus would do… He has lines like “do not repay evil with evil… and do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.” Really. It’s in that book you hold up when you scream at gay people…

Entire segment here

We Are a Police State

In Around the web on May 14, 2011 at 8:16 am

Huffington Post Union of Bloggers

Perhaps you recall the major uproar over President George W. Bush’s use of massive telephone and wire tap surveillance in cooperation with major telecommunications companies after the New York and Washington 9-11 terror attacks.

Ultimately the Congress adopted FISA legislation in 2006 that was supposed to curb these wiretaps by judicial review, with then U.S. Senator Barack Obama one of Bush’s leading critics.

Last Monday a three-judge federal appellate court dealt a serious blow to the Bush/Obama tactic for shielding government’s unconstitutional eavesdropping from judicial review by trying to place secret executive surveillance above and beyond the rule of law. More Police State…

Hal Zina Bennett: Putting a Dollar Value On The Arts

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

Blue Lakes, Lake County (7/02)

Last month  there was an article in the San Diego Union Tribune spelling out the contribution made by the arts in America. Unlike other polemics arguing the moral, aesthetic and spiritual values of these activities, the author, Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts (AFA) looked at the strictly economic contribution of the arts. Here are some of his findings:

Nonprofit arts groups, including museums, theater companies, performing arts centers, orchestras, dance companies, arts councils and other, generate $134 billion in economic activity nationally every year.

The above groups employ nearly 5 million full-time employees. More Hal Bennett…

Bill Hicks and the Place of Corporate Comedy

In Around the web on May 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

This Can’t Be Happening

I have three comedians on my iPod: Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Bill Hicks. All of them evolved as much into prophets as comedians, and all of them died younger than they should have from maladies that probably had something to do with the stress of being a live performer on the road in corporate America.

Hicks died the youngest, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32 in 1994. Perhaps his pancreas had had enough of his drinking, which started later than usual at the age of 21 but got excessive quickly. Or maybe it was road food from all that driving to comedy clubs around the country. He looked puffy by his mid-20s. If Hicks came back from the dead, he could do a good routine about government agents slipping some carcinogen (white sugar?) into his food because his routines had come too close to the truth.

That was one of his best joke constructions, taking some dark conspiracy theory lurking in the collective unconscious and validating not so much the theory as the paranoia that got the imagination fired up in the first place. In a routine called More Bill Hicks…

Here’s a Way to Eliminate the Regulators and Lawyers, and Build Community At the Same Time: Organize and Declare ‘Food Sovereignty,’ Like Sedgwick, Maine

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island, Mendo Island Transition on May 13, 2011 at 8:29 am


[...] On Saturday morning, Sedgwick became likely the first locale in the country to pass a “Food Sovereignty” law. It’s the proposed ordinance I first described last fall, when I introduced the “Five Musketeers”, a group of farmers and consumers intent on pushing back against overly aggressive state food regulators. The regulators were interfering with farmers who, for example, took chickens to a neighbor for slaughtering, or who sold raw milk directly to consumers.

The proposed ordinance was one of 78 being considered at the Sedgwick town meeting, that New England institution that has stood the test of time, allowing all of a town’s citizens to vote yea or nay on proposals to spend their tax money and, in this case, More Food Sovereignty…

Todd Walton: Duck

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on May 13, 2011 at 8:09 am


“One cannot write of ducks without mentioning water.”  Ernest Thompson Seton

Just when we thought the apex of human stupidity was a toss up between building nuclear power plants and waging wars for gasoline, here comes…

Marcia and I strolling inland along the shores of Big River, a cool breeze wafting in from the Pacific, the sun playing peek-a-boo with wispy white clouds, when suddenly Marcia shouts, “Duck!”

And I reply (hoping for a glimpse of a mallard or possibly a merganser or improbably a McGregor’s Cuckooshrike), “Where?”

“Not a duck,” cries Marcia. “Duck! As in Get Down!”

So I do a belly flop in the sandy duff just as a loud report from a big gun presages a swarm of buckshot flying overhead and ripping a humongous chunk More Todd Walton…

Don Sanderson: Only Dreaming

In Around Mendo Island on May 12, 2011 at 9:08 am


‘It’s very good jam,’ said the Queen.
‘Well, I don’t want any TO-DAY, at any rate.’
‘You couldn’t have it if you DID want it,’ the Queen said. ‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.’
‘It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”‘ Alice objected.
‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.’
‘I don’t understand you,’ said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!’
‘That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: ‘it always makes one a little giddy at first–’
‘Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. ‘I never heard of such a thing!’
‘— but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
‘I’m sure MINE only works one way,’ Alice remarked. ‘I can’t remember things before they happen.’
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked. ~ “Through the Looking Glass”, Lewis Carroll More Don Sanderson…


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