Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

How Online Education Is Changing the Way We Learn

In Around the web on June 11, 2011 at 7:04 am

From MASHABLE

Over the past decade or so, the Internet has become a huge source of information and education, especially for those who might be short on time, money or other resources.

And it’s not just crowdsourced data collections like Wikipedia or single-topic blogs that encourage individual learning; huge corporations and nonprofits are making online education and virtual classrooms a very formal affair these days.

From the first online classes (which were conducted by the University of Phoenix in 1989) to the present day, when online education is a $34 billion industry, more and more students are finding new life and career education opportunities online.

Check out this infographic from OnlineEducation.net about how the world of online learning has changed and grown over the years.

Infographic here
~~

Ask me about my agony and despair!

In Around the web on June 11, 2011 at 7:00 am

From MARK MORFORD
SFGate

Often is the question posed to me, maybe over on my Facebook page or via email after someone has made it through the messier parts of my book, but also in sundry sweaty nightclubs or boutique SF coffeeholes and therefore almost always fully clothed but almost never in a state of calm emotional stability: Mark, how the hell do you do it?

How do you avoid becoming horribly soiled and tainted, downtrodden and depressed every single day by the relentless onslaught, the endless horrors and bleakness hurled forth by the blood-soaked and desperately panicky mainstream media, inside of which you apparently still writhe and (mostly, sporadically, drunkenly) thrive?

It’s a common refrain, of course, a question posed to anyone not merely aswim in the MSM, but also to upbeat politicos and yoga teachers, spiritual gurus and organic farmers, smiling scientists and perky baristas — pretty much anyone at all who seems to move through life reasonably free of the bone-crushing angst so delightfully common to our misery addicted species…

Complete article at SFGate
~~

True Patriots?: Millionaires Who Want to be Taxed

In Around the web on June 11, 2011 at 6:00 am

From New Deal 2.0
Via Sierra Voices

A group of millionaires have gotten together to create a video about a “mistake” made ten years ago: the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. While they got more money (which has gone to dance floors and yachts), local, state, and federal budgets are facing shortfalls that mean cuts to vital investments. Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson and ND20 contributor Dan Berger joined other wealthy Americans with one simple call: “Tax me.”
~~

So Much More Than Plasma and Poison

In Around the web on June 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

From NYT
Thanks to MotherJones.com

[...] In the May 10 issue of the journal Current Biology, Dr. Garm and his colleagues describe the astonishing visual system of the box jellyfish, in which an interactive matrix of 24 eyes of four distinct types — two of them very similar to our own eyes — allow the jellies to navigate like seasoned sailors through the mangrove swamps they inhabit…

“The bottom line is, jellyfish do a lot more than people think,” said Dr. Satterlie, “and when college textbooks claim they have no centralized nervous system, that’s flat-out wrong.”…

Dr. Albert discovered that the jellies aren’t passive floaters at all. When the tide starts flowing out, they ride the wave until they hit a gravel bar, and then dive down to reach still waters. They remain in the calm oasis until the tide starts flowing back in, at which point they come up and get swept back into the bay. He also learned that the jellies have salinity meters and in summer avoid the fresh water dumped into the bay from mountain snowmelt, again by diving until they find salt enough to suit their taste. They like to aggregate into schools and through molecular signatures on the outside of their bells can distinguish between a friendly fellow jelly and any predatory species of jellyfish that might eat them…

All jellies are carnivorous, feeding on plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs…

Complete article here
~~

Todd Walton: Something Missing

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on June 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

[The following essay is about interpersonal relationships, though the opening paragraphs may seem to be about disaster, ignorance, greed, and selfishness. ~TW]

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix

International news sources (because American media is mum on the subject) report that a powerful cyclone just blew through the out-of-control and inconceivably deadly Fukushima nuclear power plants, with more such storms on the way. The four nuclear power plants, in the words of the Japanese government, are uncovered, so the ferocious winds of the cyclone picked up and blew tons of radioactive debris all over Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and much of the northern hemisphere. The Japanese government released a statement saying they were sorry they were not able to cover the nuclear power plants before the cyclone hit, but they don’t have the resources or manpower or money to do much of anything about the situation, so… sorry. Meanwhile, the land around those power plants, thousands of square miles, will be essentially uninhabitable for thousands of years; and now a growing number of scientists fear that the megalopolis of Tokyo is doomed.

Am I missing something here? Is this not one of the worst environmental disasters in history? More Todd Walton…

Imagine a prominent figure was charged, not with raping a hotel maid, but with starving her, and her family, to death

In Around the web on June 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

From The Independent

 It’s not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial…

Sometimes, the most revealing aspect of the shrieking babble of the 24/7 news agenda is the silence. Often the most important facts are hiding beneath the noise, unmentioned and undiscussed.

So the fact that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is facing trial for allegedly raping a maid in a New York hotel room is – rightly – big news. But imagine a prominent figure was charged not with raping a maid, but starving her to death, along with her children, her parents, and thousands of other people. That is what the IMF has done to innocent people in the recent past. That is what it will do again, unless we transform it beyond all recognition. But that is left in the silence.

To understand this story, you have to reel back to the birth of the IMF. In 1944, the countries that were poised to win the Second World War gathered in a hotel in rural New Hampshire to divvy up the spoils. With a few honourable exceptions, like the great British economist John Maynard Keynes, the negotiators were determined to do one thing. They wanted to build a global financial system that ensured they received the lion’s share of the planet’s money and resources. They set up a series of institutions designed for that purpose – and so the IMF was delivered into the world. More IMF…

How Financial Oligarchy Replaces Democracy, and How to Stop it

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on June 9, 2011 at 6:54 am

A World at Financial War

By MICHAEL HUDSON
Counterpunch

[Thanks to The Automatic Earth: Perhaps when you look at the ways in which the ECB and IMF are planning to drain and sell off Greece, you shouldn't just shudder, you should also realize that that gravy train will one day make a full stop in your country, city, community, load up all the goodies and leave with them. And why? Because you let them... We've handed the financial elites absolute powers over our economies, and thereby our lives and well being, as well as our childrens' futures. We’ll have to wrestle it back from their cold dead hands. And that's not going to be an easy one...]

[To really understand what is going on in world economics, this is well worth the time. -DS]

[...] The crisis for Greece – as for Iceland, Ireland and debt-plagued economies capped by the United States – is occurring as bank lobbyists demand that “taxpayers” pay for the bailouts of bad speculations and government debts stemming largely from tax cuts for the rich and for real estate, shifting the fiscal burden as well as the debt burden onto labor and industry. The financial sector’s growing power to achieve this tax favoritism is crippling economies, driving them further into reliance on yet more debt financing to remain solvent. Aid is conditional More Oligarchy…

Wendell Berry: The Work of Local Culture

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on June 9, 2011 at 6:45 am

Tanya and Wendell Berry Farm in Port Royal, Kentucky

From WENDELL BERRY
E. F. Schumacher Society

For many years my walks have taken me down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather’s farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and I never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know, the greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth. The old bucket has hung there through many autumns, and the leaves have fallen around it and some have fallen into it. Rain and snow have fallen into it, and the fallen leaves have held the moisture and so have rotted. Nuts have fallen into it, or been carried into it by squirrels; mice and squirrels have eaten the meat of the nuts and left the shells; they and other animals have left their droppings; insects have flown into the bucket and died and decayed; birds have scratched in it and left their droppings or perhaps a feather or two. This slow work of growth and death, gravity and decay, which is the chief work of the world, has by now produced in the bottom of the bucket several inches of black humus. I look into that bucket with fascination because I am a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts, and I recognize there an artistry and a farming far superior to mine, or to that of any human. I have seen the same process at work on the tops of boulders in a forest, and it has been at work immemorially over most of the land-surface of the world. All creatures die into it, and they live by it. More Wendell Berry…

Pasteurization Fetish: The War On Raw Milk

In Around the web on June 9, 2011 at 6:39 am

Raw Milk Police Raid, Food Club, Venice CA

From JERRY SALYER
Front Porch Republic

Last Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, the city’s Department of Health and Wellness issued a cease-and-desist order to the Whole Life Buying Club, and then placed the organization’s milk cache under quarantine. Since the contraband milk has not been pasteurized – it comes directly from a small farm located outside the city – officials deemed it a potential threat to public health and safety.

In response about 40 members of the club picked up their milk as usual, after having signed the following declaration:

I, the undersigned, hereby declare that I have taken my milk that comes from cows I own via private contract under the protection of the KY constitution (articles 1,2,4,6,10,16,26), and if the county health department would like to speak with me about this matter, I can be reached at the number given below.

As the collective statement of club members indicates, there is a legal twist here, in that nobody can be “guilty” of either selling or buying contraband milk because the milk itself undergoes no transaction – rather, club membership entails purchasing a share in the cattle that supply the club. In other words, the health department was trying to regulate club members’ access to milk from their own cows.

For those who don’t know, raw milk has become More Raw Milk…

Rise of the Commons — Report from the Future: From ‘Me’ to ‘We’

In Around the web on June 8, 2011 at 7:33 am


Privatizing the Police

From JAY WALLJASPER
On The Commons

Rise of commons transforms a rust belt city — Report from the future: South Bend, Indiana, in 2035

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA (USA) As late as the 2010s, the sight of downtown streets in South Bend thronged with shoppers, office workers and entertainment seekers in the evening would have been shocking. Once upon a time you could shoot a cannon down South Bend’s Main Street at 8 p.m. with little risk of casualties. But the area is now bustling with people day and night, many of whom come not to work or shop but simply to be where the action is. “There’s no other place to be,” says Vandana Van der Kamp, who takes the new fast train from Merrillville, Indiana, at least once a week. “The best bands, the best Filipino food, the most fun— it’s all here.”

As much as anywhere in the United States, South Bend has prospered by capitalizing on the promise of the commons — which means assets belonging to all of us, from water and wilderness to the Internet and cultural treasures. The commons also refers to a new ethic of sharing and cooperation that can help solve pressing problems of the 21st century, advocates say. This ethic has come to influence decision making at all levels in South Bend, bringing big changes to city hall, businesses and neighborhoods. More Commons…

Derrick Jensen: To Live or Not to Live

In Around the web on June 8, 2011 at 6:15 am

From DERRICK JENSEN
Orion Magazine

[Dreams — Derrick Jensen's new book just out: A countercultural masterpiece of environmental philosophy, Dreams is Jensen's challenge to the view that there is no knowledge outside what can be validated using the tools of science. Dreams draws on the mythologies of ancient cultures and the wide-ranging wisdom of contemporary thinkers as diverse as American Indian writer Jack Forbes, Dakota activist Waziyatawin, mycologist Paul Stamets, and sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, among many others. Their insights join the author's descriptions of his own life experiences among the birds, frogs, redwoods, and bears of the Pacific Northwest. Jensen invites us to explore the shadow country of dreams and hopes, muses and loves that motivate our actions and imbue our world with meaning. Only when we find the courage to honor the truths hidden in our deepest needs and wildest imaginings, Jensen insists here, will we begin to find the answers to the most urgent questions of our time.]

The danger of the tragic hero mindset

Have you ever noticed how many excuses we all find to not act in defense of the planet? Sure, we all have errands to run and e-mails to answer and we all need down time and the problems are so big and [insert your best excuse here]. But lately I’ve been encountering a particularly frustrating excuse that a lot of people seem to be giving for not acting: they say it’s too late, that various tipping points have been reached in terms of runaway global warming, More Derrick Jensen…

Stacy Mitchell: Declarations of Independents

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on June 8, 2011 at 6:11 am

From STACY MITCHELL
New Rules Project

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago a group of colonists forced their way onto three ships docked in Boston Harbor and dumped more than 90,000 pounds of tea into the sea. This is familiar history to most of us, but what many do not realize is that the colonists’ actions that night were as much a challenge to global corporate power as they were a rebellion against King George III.

The ships were owned by the East India Company, a powerful transnational corporation that had recently suffered losses, in large part because the colonists had boycotted its merchandise. In order to rescue the company and restore its profits, the British parliament passed the Tea Act, which exempted the East India Company from paying taxes on the tea it sold in the colonies. The aim was to enable the company to undercut small local competitors, all of whom were subject to the tax, and drive them out of business.

The British government and the East India Company were counting on the lure of cheap tea to overpower any sense of principle, but they misjudged. The colonists continued to support their independent merchants and boycott East India tea. Their actions in the harbor that night and the British retaliation that followed ultimately led to an organized boycott of all British goods. Homegrown and locally made became the fashion of the day. The Declaration of Independence soon followed; the rest, as they say, is history. More Stacy Mitchell…

Who Were the Witches?

In Around the web on June 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

“Day by day, it’s worse for my people, especially for the women. And that’s why, because of all of these main reasons, we say this is the mockery of democracy and mockery of War on Terror.” – Malalai Joya, Afghan democracy activist

From ALEX KNIGHT
The End of Capitalism

Who Were the Witches? – Patriarchal Terror and the Creation of Capitalism

[...] There is no book I could recommend more highly than Silvia Federici’s brilliant Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia 2004), which tells the dark saga of the Witch Hunt that consumed Europe for more than 200 years. In uncovering this forgotten history, Federici exposes the origins of capitalism in the heightened oppression of workers (represented by Shakespeare’s character Caliban), and most strikingly, in the brutal subjugation of women. She also brings to light the enormous and colorful European peasant movements that fought against the injustices of their time, connecting their defeat to the imposition of a new patriarchal order that divided male from female workers. Today, as more and more people question the usefulness of a capitalist system that has thrown the world into crisis, Caliban and the Witch stands out as essential reading for unmasking the shocking violence and inequality that capitalism has relied upon from its very creation.

Parents putting a pointed hat on their young son or daughter More Witches…

Call for Climate Direct Action [Updated]

In !ACTION CENTER! on June 7, 2011 at 9:09 am

From:

Bill McKibben, 350.org
Phil Radford, Greenpeace USA
Becky Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network

Dear friends,

In early March, a jury in Utah found Tim DeChristopher guilty for standing up to the oil and gas companies in an effort to protect our health and our climate.

If the federal government thinks that it’s intimidating people into silence with this kind of prosecution, think again. This is precisely the sort of event that reminds us why we need creative, nonviolent protests and mass mobilizations.

Over the last six months, we’ve witnessed big changes in the world that call out for creative, nonviolent protest, including: More Direct Action…

On Belief Systems

In Around the web on June 7, 2011 at 8:38 am


From J. KRISHNAMURTI
Commentaries on Living

One of the things that most of us eagerly accept and take so totally for granted is the concept of “Belief”. I am not attacking beliefs. What we are trying to do is to find out why we accept “belief” and if we can understand the motives, the cause of that acceptance, then perhaps we may be able to understand why we do it, but also be free of it. …

One can see how political, national, cultural and religious beliefs do separate people, do create conflict, confusion and antagonism — this is an obvious fact – yet we are unwilling to give them up.

There is the Hindu belief, the Christian belief, the Muslim belief — innumerable sectarian and various political ideologies, all contending with each other, trying to convert each other. One can see, obviously, that “Belief” is separating people, creating intolerance. Is it possible to just live without belief? One can find that out only if one can study oneself in relation to a ‘belief’. Is it possible to live in this world without a belief – not change belief, not substitute one belief for another, yet be entirely free from all belief? So that one meets life anew each minute?

This, after all, is the truth: to have the capacity of meeting everything anew, from moment to moment, without the conditioning-reaction of the past, so that there is not the accumulative effect which acts as a barrier between oneself and that which is. Can you do it?
~~

Where Food Is God — How fringe religious groups helped launch the healthy eating movement.

In Around the web on June 6, 2011 at 6:39 am

Sri Chinmoy

From DANIEL FROMSON
Slate Magazine

Near the buffet at Annam Brahma (Sanskrit for “food is God”), a white-robed Bengali man played the flute on a muted TV. As I sat down to eat vegetarian curries and a fresh, crunchy salad, I noticed his face on the back of my waiter’s white hoodie. Opposite my table, there he was again: hoisting a barbell that was mostly weight and not much bar. The photo’s caption: “Sri Chinmoy lifts 3½ tons with one arm at the age of 55.” A peace-and-love-preaching guru, Chinmoy died in 2007, but virtually every patch of the airy natural-foods restaurant in Queens, N.Y., was covered with his image, his books, or his artwork. There was even a colorful doodle on my mug of chai—along with the words smiles and dreams and his looping signature. More Food is God…

Ann Patchett Journeys To The Amazon With ‘State of Wonder’

In Around the web, Books on June 6, 2011 at 6:26 am

From NPR

Novelist Ann Patchet has a knack for taking her readers to completely new places. In 2002′s Bel Canto, she blended terrorism and opera and now — several acclaimed books and almost a decade later — Patchett’s out with a new novel about an Amazonian expedition.

State of Wonder [Available to rent from Mulligan Books: $2/week] follows medical researcher Marina Singh as she joins her former mentor in a search to discover a promising and valuable new drug in the Amazon. Patchett tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden that she spent 10 days in the Amazon to get a feel for the book’s setting.

“For the first three days, I thought it was the most extraordinarily beautiful, fascinating, all-encompass[ingly] gorgeous place More Ann Patchett…

Fukushima and U.S. West Coast: Don’t stir up the dust in your house — The average person breathed in 10 hot radiation particles a day

In Around the web on June 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

From ARNE GUNDERSON
Thanks to Meca Wawona and Anna Taylor

Some important new information in both parts below. Even if you think you know all the critical information about the initial events of Fukushima nuke disaster, I believe you’ll learn some important new facts in part 1, including what TEPCO and the US NRC knew early on but weren’t revealing. and in part 2, other relevant info like this short excerpt below, along with recommendations of ways to reduce your exposure over the coming months and years.

Arnie Gundersen: Well, I am in touch with some scientists now who have been monitoring the air on the West Coast More Fukushima…

In The World After Abundance

In Around the web on June 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

Bicycle Washing Machine

From THE ARCHDRUID REPORT

Over the past month or so the essays on this blog have veered away from the details of appropriate tech into a discussion of some of the reasons why this kind of tech is, in fact, appropriate as a response to the predicament of industrial society. That was a necessary diversion, since a great many of the narratives that cluster around that crisis just now tend to evade the necessity of change on the level of individual lifestyles. The roots of that evasion had to be explored in order to show that change on that level is exactly what can’t be avoided by any serious response to the crisis of our time.

Still, if it’s going to do any good, that awareness has to be paired with something more than a vague sense that action is necessary. Talk, as Zen masters are fond of saying, does not boil the rice; in the rather more formal language of the traditions More Archdruid…

Pedal powered farms and factories: the forgotten future of the stationary bicycle

In Around the web on June 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

From LOW-TECH MAGAZINE

If we boost the research on pedal powered technology – trying to make up for seven decades of lost opportunities – and steer it in the right direction, pedals and cranks could make an important contribution to running a post-carbon society that maintains many of the comforts of a modern life. The possibilities of pedal power largely exceed the use of the bicycle.

One way to solve the large energy losses of pedal power generators is not to produce electricity at all but power devices mechanically, whenever possible. More Pedal Power…

We have to break the Chamber of Commerce and the Fossil Fuel Industry, and break them soon

In Around the web on June 4, 2011 at 8:44 am

From  CHRIS HEDGES
Thank to Don Sanderson

The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out More Chris Hedges…

Forever Blowing Bubbles: R.I.P. Reaganomics Revolution 1981-2011

In Around the web on June 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

 From PAUL B. FARRELL
MarketWatch

Like the Roaring Twenties, ending in a crash

The 30-year Reaganomics Revolution will be over soon. Like the Roaring Twenties, ending in the game changing crash. Though more than 80 years apart, they share a common theme song of irrational exuberance: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

Many bubbles, now merging like tornadoes, in a perfect storm, a megabubble itching to blow, signaling the end of the ego-centered Reaganomics Revolution, which must, unfortunately, also take down America’s markets, economy and monetary system.

Yes, folks, that one song captures More R.I.P. Reaganiomics…

Small Is Beautiful — Economics as if People Mattered: Our Favorite Quotes

In Around the web, Books on June 4, 2011 at 8:18 am

From E.F. (FRITZ) SCHUMACHER
The New Economics Institute

Chapter 1: The Problem of Production

One of the most fateful errors of our age is the belief that “the problem of production” has been solved.

The arising of this error, so egregious and so firmly rooted, is closely connected with the philosophical, not to say religious, changes during the last three or four centuries in man’s attitude to nature…Modern man does not experience himself as a part of nature but as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it. He even talks of a battle with nature, forgetting that, if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side.

The illusion of unlimited powers, nourished by astonishing scientific and technological achievements, has produced the concurrent illusion More Schumacher

Will Parrish: Sustainable Viticulture?

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on June 3, 2011 at 8:25 am

From WILL PARRISH
TheAVA
Laytonville

In the fall of 2008, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources devoted an entire 88-page edition of its quarterly magazine, California Agriculture, to profiling a trend known as “sustainable viticulture.” Broadly speaking, the “social movement” the magazine’s editors were pointing to consists of efforts by wineries and vineyards to mitigate their impact on the natural environment ranging from reduced use of certain toxic chemicals to conserving water to not chopping down as many trees and replacing them with vines.

In the minds of California Agriculture’s editors, these efforts add up to an unmitigated success. “Since the early 1990s, More Will Parrish…

Todd Walton: What We Do

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on June 3, 2011 at 7:33 am


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”Bertrand Russell

The first few times I finished writing a novel (each book representing two or three years work), I was gripped by the same terrible fear that I might die before I could make copies of the books and send them out into the world. Before the advent of personal computers and the ability to send massive documents in email attachments, making copies of fat manuscripts meant going to copy shops and leaving the precious documents overnight while copies were made.  Then, exhausted from lack of sleep and worry, I would pick up the copies and mail them to people scattered More Todd Walton…

Why the Marijuana Renaissance Is Here to Stay

In Around Mendo Island on June 3, 2011 at 7:30 am

From LESTER GRINSPOON M.D.
Alternet

The following is the text of a speech by Lester Greenspoon, M.D. recently delivered to the 2011 NORML conference.

In 1967, because of my concern about the rapidly growing use of the dangerous drug marijuana, I began my studies of the scientific and medical literature with the goal of providing a reasonably objective summary of the data which underlay its prohibition.  Much to my surprise, I found no credible scientific basis for the justification of the prohibition.  The assertion that it is a very toxic drug is based on old and new myths.  In fact, one of the many exceptional features of this drug is its remarkably limited toxicity.  Compared to aspirin, which people are free to purchase and use without the advice or prescription of a physician, cannabis is much safer: More Grinspoon…

Kurt Vonnegut — Still Speaking To The War Weary

In Around the web on June 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

From TOM VITALE
NPR

Kurt Vonnegut’s blend of anti-war sentiment and satire made him one of the most popular writers of the 1960s, a time when Vietnam dominated the headlines in a way the country’s current wars do not. On Thursday, The Library of America is republishing four novels written when Vonnegut was at his height — Cat’s Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions.

The central theme in Vonnegut’s fiction from the 1960s is the irrationality of governments and the senseless destruction of war. In a 1987 interview, Vonnegut said he was determined to write about war without romanticizing it.

More Vonnegut…

General Smedley Butler: War is a racket

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on June 2, 2011 at 8:50 am

From GENERAL SMEDLEY BUTLER (1933)
Thanks to Dan Hamburg

War is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits More Smedley Butler…

Gene Logsdon: A Field Guide to Farmers

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on June 2, 2011 at 8:23 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Now that farmer-watching has become more popular than bird-watching, urban people need a way to help them distinguish between the various breeds in case they want to rent one, or buy one for a personal pet. Farmers actually resemble other members of the human race in most respects. They walk upright if there is no wheeled vehicle available to ride, have cell phones hanging on their ears most of the time, and feed at short order restaurants more than in their natural environment of open fields.

Like the ivory-billed woodpecker, farmer numbers are decreasing because of urban encroachment on their natural habitat. Little is known about their behavior because they shun the public eye whenever possible. More Gene Logsdon…

Ted Trainer: The Transition Towns Movement, it’s huge significance, and a friendly criticism

In Around the web on June 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

From TED TRAINER
The Simpler Way

Australia

The only way the alarming global sustainability and justice problems can be solved is via a Transition Towns movement of some kind. At present the rapidly growing movement is inspiring, but there is an urgent need for critical thought about vision, goals, and means.  There is a serious risk that without this it will not make a significant contribution to solving our problems.

The Transition Towns movement began only about 2006 and is growing rapidly. It emerged in the UK mainly in response to the realisation that More Ted Trainer…

Rob Hopkins: Transition and activism — a response

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on June 1, 2011 at 7:46 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Founder
Transition Towns Movement

This post is a response to Charlotte DuCann’s beautiful and heartfelt post over on the Transition Norwich blog arguing that Transition needs to more explicitly embrace activism.  It is wonderful to see, whether through that blog, through Transition Voice, or through the emerging social reporting project, new voices coming through in the Transition blogosphere.  Charlotte speaks powerfully to the split that some of those engaged in Transition feel, that they almost need to keep their activism ‘in the closet’ in order to remain engaged.  She states that she sees her post as a ‘working document’, and invites reflections, so here are a few of mine.

Personally speaking, while there is much in the post that I agree with, there is a fundamental point I profoundly disagree with.  Charlotte writes “to embrace activism More Rob Hopkins…

Ted Trainer: The Simpler Way perspective on the global predicament

In Around the web on June 1, 2011 at 7:43 am

From TED TRAINER
The Simpler Way
Australia

The dominant view, almost never questioned, is that major global problems can be solved within and by the kind of society we have now, i.e., one providing high material living standards and increasing wealth, and driven by market forces and economic growth. Many believe the changes required will have to be big but hardly anyone seems to think that the kind of society we have built over several hundred years needs to be fundamentally reconsidered, let alone abandoned.

People who work in technical fields tend to be among those most firmly adhering to this view, and the most enthusiastic of all seem to be those involved in renewable energy. There are many highly impressive reports, detailed and in glossy format, written by a cast of thousands of heavy-weight academics “proving” that we could run the world on renewables. More Ted Trainer…

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