Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Rev Billy: Hysterical Revolution

In Around the web on July 9, 2011 at 5:40 am



At our gathering fighting tar sands in Salt Lake City with Tim DeChristopher – he stressed that a new generation of protest must have ingenuity. He cites the great protests that have moved freedom in the past, but calls for a new inventiveness. That got me thinking.

For decades we have had no progressive consensus on a strategy for structural change in this country. Not since the heyday of the Gender Rights movement and ACT UP – now on our minds and in our hearts with the passage of the Gay Marriage law finally in New York.

New and ultimately successful strategies often appear to be outlandish at first. And in each of the great social movements of the 20th century – labor, civil rights, women and gender rights -there was a moment where strategy was adopted that was entirely unique; a moment where those activists knew they were not the same as the famous movements full of their heroes from before. There began creative pranks, mass actions, rhetorical and visual and musical shifts – which were scary, unprecedented and history-making. We’re at such a point now with our Earth Movement. Either we stop emulating the now-cliched approaches of our ancestor activists or we perish and the Earth accelerates into a deadly spiral.


Facebook now helping governments spy on and arrest peaceful activists

In Around the web on July 9, 2011 at 5:30 am


News reports confirm that governments are now being aided by Facebook to spy on activists who plan peaceful protests. One report reveals that over 300 activists were tracked, detained and in some case deported after organizing events on the popular social networking site.

While talking to Russia Today about recent revolutions in the Middle East and the role of social media, Assange explained that Facebook is “the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, and their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. Intelligence.”

In the interesting interview, Assange added that it’s not just Facebook, but Google and Yahoo as well as all other major U.S. organizations have developed built-in interfaces for U.S. Intelligence. It helps get around the costly and time-consuming serving of subpoenas.

Not that Facebook is run by U.S. Intelligence agencies, but instead of handing out records “one by one,” it saves Facebook time and money to have “automated the process” for spying. Assange believes that all Facebook users should understand More…

Todd Walton: Lives Unlived

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 8, 2011 at 6:20 am


“Every art has its secrets, and the secrets of distilling are being lost the way the old songs were lost. When I was a boy there wasn’t a man in the barony but had a hundred songs in his head, but with people running here, there and everywhere, the songs were lost…” Frank O’Connor

I am reading The Collected Stories of Frank O’Connor for the third time in twelve years. Enough time has passed since my last reading of his remarkable stories so I have forgotten sufficient details and plot twists and endings to make the stories new to me again; and in some ways they are better than new because I know them now as I know favorite pieces of music or beloved paintings, and in this further experience of them I discover more and more of the genius they contain.

Frank O’Connor, who died in 1966, was Irish, and most of his stories are set in Cork and Dublin in the 1940’s and 1950’s. O’Connor was hailed by W.B. Yeats as the Chekhov of Irish literature, yet very few of my well-read friends have heard of him, and I, a voracious story reader since childhood, discovered him relatively late in my incessant search for great stories. I should note that many of my well-read friends are aghast at my reading habits which now largely involve reading and re-reading a relatively few dead writers of short stories, with barely More Todd Walton…

Book Review: Kim, Rudyard Kipling

In Books on July 8, 2011 at 6:19 am

A review

There is a fine antidote to all manner of morbidness in the brilliant pages of Kim. Mr. Kipling’s last work is, to my mind, his best, and not easily comparable with the work of any other man; for it is of its own kind and of a novel kind, and fairly amazes one by the proof it affords of the author’s magnificent versatility. “Not much of a story” may perhaps be the verdict of the ruthless boy reader who revels in the Jungle Book and Captain Courageous, and derives an unholy gratification from Stalky & Co. Kim is, in fact and upon the surface, but an insignificant fragment of human history; a bit out of the biography of a little vagabond of Irish parentage, orphaned when a baby, and left to shift for himself in infinite India. But the subtlety of the East and the “faculty” of the West are blended in this terroe filius, this tricksy foundling of earth’s oldest earth. His adventures are many and enthralling. He joins himself, as scout and general provider,—incidentally, also, as chela or disciple—to a saintly old lama from Thibet, “bound to the Wheel of Things,” and roaming India in search of the Stream of Immortality. The pious people of the country are permitted to “acquire merit” by feeding and lodging these two, between whom there grows up More…

Transition: Resilient to what?

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on July 8, 2011 at 5:30 am

Transition Culture

I was reading through the Executive Summary of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2011 this afternoon (as you do) and the chart on page 3 caught my eye. In it, the authors set out all the risks they see in the world on a matrix which positions the various risks by their perceived impact on the global economy and by the perceived likelihood of their happening. What you might expect to be at the top, given recent media reports, would be the threat of terrorism or perhaps some hideous computer virus that knocks out nuclear power station.  But no.  There at the top, leading the pack, are climate change, ‘extreme energy price volatility’ and fiscal crises.

In my research over the past couple of years on the subject of resilience, I often ended up at the question of ‘resilient to what?’  In a paper for the think tank DEMOS called ‘Resilient Nation’, Charlie Edwards listed the things he felt we should be preparing resilience to. They were climate change, floods, extreme weather events, pandemics, energy shortages, nuclear attacks, terrorism and a few others.  The UK government Cabinet Office runs ‘Regional Resilience Teams’ who are charged with creating plans for each region. Yet the main focus of this will most likely be on terrorism and pandemics.


Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…

In Around the web on July 7, 2011 at 8:11 am

Thanks to Bruce McCloskey

The government’s promises, for pensions and healthcare and everything else, cannot be kept. We as a nation will eventually have to have a truthful conversation about that reality…

The fact that the Federal government cannot possibly fund the entitlement/ benefit programs that have been promised to the citizenry is well-known, but remarkably unwelcome.

I have addressed this difficult reality dozens of times, as have hundreds of other commentators, for example:
To Fix Social Security, First Ask Why It Is Deep in the Red (January 18, 2011)
Is the Recovery “Self-Sustaining”? Here’s a Test (March 22, 2011)
If You Want Solutions, First Pin Down Where the Money Is Going (May 23, 2011)

Bruce Krasting recently penned a wonderful evocation of the bitter “I, Me, Mine” rage this reality triggers in Americans: I go to a 4th of July party (Zero Hedge).

The typical reaction is either denial, mixed with wishful thinking–if only we taxed the rich and cut out war spending, everything could easily be funded indefinitely–or rage against anything and everyone that threatens the individual’s own share of the swag. More…

I wish to be treated as an object — The Fountainhead of Ayn Rand Foolishness

In Around the web on July 7, 2011 at 8:00 am

Transition Voice

If you’re one of the 16 or so people who has seen the recent release of Atlas Shrugged: Part I, you’ll be heartened to know there’s another Ayn Rand film adaptation to enjoy while you’re waiting for the next Atlas installment (but don’t hold your breath). That film is The Fountainhead, released in 1949.

Russian-born Ayn Rand (1905-1982), a staunch anti-Communist, promulgated a philosophy of extreme individualism called Objectivism. It holds that man is an end in himself, and it rejects altruism in any form.

I wish to be treated as an object

The title of her 1964 book, The Virtue of Selfishness, sums up the philosophy succinctly. Objectivism promotes the capitalist system, especially property rights, and reviles “distribution of wealth” carried out – or stolen, in Rand’s view –in the form of taxes. Above all, Objectivism exalts the primacy of the gifted individual, the doers and “wealth builders,” unfairly shackled by the less productive More foolishness…

Reinventing the Informal Economy

In Around the web on July 7, 2011 at 7:54 am


[...] economic historians have long documented that formal economic models suggest people should be starving to death – even when they aren’t. The question “how do people in collapsed societies or societies in great crisis live, when the formal economy cannot support them” is answered by the informal economy. It is literally life and death.

I do not believe that the formal economy will disappear – but we are facing falling incomes, increasing insecurity and instability, and more and more of our formal economy incomes being used to serve enormous, and unsustainable debts. We already know that safety nets are being undermined and debt levels rising rapidly – this is a long term problem, whether there are green shoots or not. And most of us are vastly overreliant on the formal economy.

Which means that we must rebuild the commons, and the informal economy – and that means reallocating time and resources and labor away from the formal economy. The law of conservation here requires that just as we have rapidly taken our commons and informal economy labor and placed it in the service of economic growth, we must equally rapidly begin shifting our resources to the informal economy – we need to spend more time volunteering, we need to return to domestic labor that saves us money, like gardening, mending, More…

Radio Curious: Barry Vogel interviews Dr. Helen Caldicott on Nuclear Disasters

In Around Mendo Island on July 6, 2011 at 8:00 am


Dr. Helen Caldicott describes how the nuclear disasters that began in Japan on March 11, 2011, with the massive 9.0 point earthquake and resulting tsunami, present catastrophes the likes of which human kind has never seen before.  We discuss what happened, the medical and health consequences around the world, why public information has not been forthcoming, and what can be done to protect ourselves.  In response to the question, what can be done to prevent similar disasters in the future, Dr. Caldicott’s suggested action is somewhat reminiscent of the 1960s civil right’s movement in the United States.

Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1938, Dr. Caldicott received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961, she was a co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and has devoted the last 35 years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and what she believes are necessary changes in human behavior.

Our conversation, recorded by phone from her home in southeast Australia on June 26, 2011, begins with her explanation of what occurred at the Fukushima Nuclear Power plants in Japan after the March, 2011 earthquake.

The books Helen Caldicott recommends are “On The Beach,” by Nevil Shute, and her book, “Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer.”

Listen here

Transition: Hard work + Vision = Kilowatts

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on July 6, 2011 at 7:54 am


Naresh Giangrande reports…

Nothing sets me off more than people who portray Transition town folk as a bunch of happy clappy, ‘we just vision it and it will happen’ eco activists. Last night’s EGM of TRESOC was a delightful, difficult, heart warming, and frustrating exploration of unknown territory; raw Transition in Action. It was a good example of what happens when a project moves from the great idea phase into real decision involving, in this case, significant sums of money, within a community. Suddenly emotions run high, and fragile relationships can become frayed. Although last night I think we emerged intact, more or less. It is what happens when a community expresses it’s will grounded in a positive vision- amazing things can happen.

The workload for the directors is going through the roof as four projects are taking shape;

The 4.5 MW wind farm development is moving forward, data collection is being done to enable an autumn 2011 planning application to be made.

  • An Anaerobic Digestion scheme now has a technology partner, Monsal Ltd who are taking an equity stake in the project, with South Hams District Council and the Dartington Trust also on board.
  • There is a request from TQ9 developments for TRESOC to supply a bio mass boiler for the new development at Baltic wharf. More…

Gene Logsdon: Basketball Patches and Plastic Jug Blossoms

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on July 6, 2011 at 7:00 am

The Contrary Farmer

People who pass on the road sometime slow down considerably when they see our patch of basketballs and our plastic jugs in bloom. Our gardens are beginning to look like a modern exhibit of recycled trash art. But we have gone berserk only in the sense that wild animals are driving us there. We spend as much time now protecting our food supply from predators like deer and raccoons as we do planting and weeding.

The basketballs are holding up black plastic netting above the strawberries to keep the infernal deer from eating all the plants and the infernal birds from eating the fruit. If we laid the netting directly on the plants, it would depress plant growth too much and the robins would be able to get to the berries through the netting. Spaulding may not have realized it but basketballs are perfect for this job. The netting is barely visible from a distance so there seems to be no reason for the basketballs to be there. Friends like to make jokes, like what’s our yield of basketballs per acre this year.

The balls in the strawberry patch won’t hold air anymore. We have a fairly large supply of them because our grandsons are bent on sending me and their grandmother to an early grave playing basketball in the barn all the time. The stupid balls keep bouncing up against the roofing nails projecting through the roof… More at The Contrary Farmer here

Mendo Islanders: Cease and Desist says California Dept. of Food and Agriculture to Green Uprising Farm in Willits [Updated]

In Around Mendo Island on July 5, 2011 at 9:32 am


[Update below from Michael Foley...]

Dear friends, family, newspaper editors, and those who seek wholesome food in their local community:

On Thursday June 30th during the weekly farmer’s market in Willits, California, my husband Michael Foley was served a notice of violation from Jim Dentoni of the Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture.  The notice said: “You are hereby ordered to cease and desist the sale of, and giving away, of any and all raw or pasteurized dairy products from any unlicensed dairy and/or processing milk plant.”

My husband and I run a small family farm called Green Uprising at Blackberry Bend where we reside with our children and grandchildren.  In addition to providing the community with fresh fruit and vegetables grown without artificial pesticides and fertilizers, we board, feed, and milk ten adult goats for shareholders who have purchased ownership interest in the herd.

According to the Calif Dept. of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) this is a threat to the public health.  Our children, our grandchildren, friends, family, neighbors and shareholders all drink raw milk directly from the teats of goats boarded at our farm (my goodness!) More…

Cry out! The Social Security benefit cut on the table in the debt limit talks

In Around the web, Social Security on July 5, 2011 at 7:01 am


Here’s some deficit reduction talk to make your eyes glaze over.

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Lawmakers are considering changing how the Consumer Price Index is calculated, a move that could save perhaps $220 billion and represent significant progress in the ongoing federal debt ceiling and deficit reduction talks.According to congressional aides familiar with the discussions, the proposal would shift how the Consumer Price Index is calculated to reflect how people tend to change spending patterns when prices increase. For example, consumers tend to drive less when gas prices increase dramatically.

While that might “save” the government perhaps $220 billion, it could cost the nation’s seniors dearly. This is a shift to what’s called a chained CPI. The National Women’s Law Center explains what that means [pdf] for the people most reliant on cost of living increases.

Social Security benefits are adjusted annually to account for inflation—when the cost of living increases, benefits automatically increase so that their purchasing power does not erode over time. Shifting to the chained CPI would mean a cut in Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries, compared to the benefits More…

Greenpeace: Fukushima… this is just unbelievable… hotspots up to 500-700 times what is normal [Updated]

In Around the web on July 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

RT – Energy News

Jan Beranek, part of Greenpeace team investigating Fukushima fallout:

Hotspots, where children play, up to 500-700 times what is normal.

This is just unbelievable, at those levels of exposure this is certainly risking the health and lives of people.

Soviets decided to evacuate everyone that was living in areas where radiation was 3-4 times lower than what is found in Fukushima City.

Japan groups alarmed by radioactive soil

The citizens’ groups — the Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation and five other non-governmental organisations — have called for the evacuation of pregnant women and children from the town…. “Soil contamination is spreading in the city,” Yamauchi said in a statement.

“Children are playing with the soil, meaning they are playing with high levels of radioactive substances. Evacuation must be conducted as soon as possible.”…

Patriots? Fundamentalist Religion Will Destroy the World

In Around the web on July 4, 2011 at 9:51 am


The deluded religious belief that any people or nation or church is a “chosen” people is the root of almost all our troubles.

The earth bursts with life. Far right exclusionary religion bursts with death. If there is a creator of life He/She/It must hate fundamentalist religion.

The countries in the world that are the most fundamentalist and religious, and/or those whose identity is most religion-based, are the world’s greatest troublemakers. Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA, Vatican City and the state of Israel come to mind.

If the rest of the human race could find a time machine to roll back the clock and make a world where these countries/city states had never existed we’d live in a better world.

Just take one example of religion’s baleful influence: President Woodrow Wilson’s messianic religion-inspired intervention in World War One. “My life would not be worth living” Wilson wrote, “if it were not for the driving power of religion, for faith, pure and simple.” (Letter to Nancy Toy, 1915.)

Wilson’s religious views were the driving force in his political career, informing his quest for world peace. And like all fanatics he decided to achieve this “peace” through war. The devout Woodrow Wilson upset fellow Presbyterians More…

Reverend Billy’s Freakstorm

In Around the web on July 3, 2011 at 7:56 am


Rev. preaches on whittling those 700 causes in your inbox every morning down to just one: saving life itself.

You hear him shout it all the time – EARTHALUJAH! Rev. explains what he means…

Dreams (2011)

…perhaps you can begin to ask yourself how you would interpret events in your own life if you perceived your life as significant, if you perceived the events in your life as being rich with potential meaning, perceived the universe as immeasurably complex and filled with other intelligences who talk to each other and sometimes to you, who say things not meant for you to hear, and who say things meant for you to hear. How would your own life be, and how would you live this life, if you fully internalized and realized the implications of participating in a vibrant, living, meaningful universe?

Democracy Is Coming

In Around the web on July 3, 2011 at 7:33 am


It’s coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel
that this ain’t exactly real,
or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
It’s coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate More…

We must tell the truth about the domination that is at the heart of the American Dream so that we may face the brokenness of our world

In Around the web on July 2, 2011 at 6:37 am

The Smirking Chimp

[...] I believe that to be fully alive today is to live with anguish, not for one’s own condition in the world but for the condition of a broken world. My anguish flows not from the realization that it is getting harder for people to live the American Dream, but from the recognition that the American Dream has made it harder to hold together the living world.

So, our task is to tell the truth about the domination that is at the heart of the American Dream so that we may face the brokenness of our world. Only then can we embrace the anguish of the American Dream and confront honestly our moment in history…

whatever the specific articulation of the American Dream, it is built on domination. This is the obvious truth on the surface, the reality that most dreamers want to leave out, perhaps because it leads to a painful question: How deeply woven into the fabric of U.S. society is the domination/subordination dynamic on which this country’s wealth and freedom are based?

First, the American part: The United States More Patriotism…

Todd Walton: Thus Spake Angelina

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 1, 2011 at 8:00 am


“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.”  Montaigne

I used to hate it when I predicted something long in advance of when it happened, and then no one remembered I predicted it or believed me when I insisted I predicted the thing. And I used to really hate it when I invented something but didn’t bother to patent it because I didn’t have the money or the time or the personality, and then someone else found out about the thing I invented and they patented it and became filthy rich from my invention. But now I don’t mind when people don’t believe I predicted important things before they happened. Nor do I mind when people get rich and famous from my inventions. And here’s why.

The writings of my hero Buckminster Fuller convinced me it was a colossal waste of time to worry about people stealing our ideas or not believing us because ultimately the universe (transcendent of human pettiness and ignorance) responds appropriately and exquisitely to our thoughts and actions regardless of whether we own the patents on the lucrative inventions or whether people believe us. More Todd Walton…

Will Parrish: Trees Don’t Read The Press Democrat

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on July 1, 2011 at 7:55 am


During the three-day period June 11-13, a story published on the Associated Press wire concerning a pair of massive redwood forest-to-vineyard conversions in the northwestern corner of Sonoma County, just outside the small town of Annapolis, was featured by newspapers, internet periodicals, and business trade publications throughout the United States.  It was a rare instance of at least one aspect of the wine industry’s ecological impact receiving national attention, if only fleetingly.

The main conflict in the story, written by long-time AP reporter Jason Dearen, was captured by one of headlines that accompanied it in several publications, “Redwoods or Red Wine?”  While many of the North Coast’s leading politicians and entrepreneurs would prefer to remain blissfully unaware of the fact, it strikes most people in this country as strange that hundreds of acres of redwood trees are on the verge of being cut to make way for wine grapes. That’s particularly so given that this a region of the country where vineyards already dominate the landscape, and where there is such a glut of grapes that farmers are still having trouble unloading last year’s crop at a decent price.

The two “conversions” the piece focused on, which we have More Will Parrish…

Farmer’s Market Price Comparisons

In Around Mendo Island on July 1, 2011 at 7:40 am


Friends of the Farmers Market,

Greetings.  The season is starting to pick up pace.  Pedro Ortiz promises to have the season’s first tomatoes at the Ukiah Saturday Market … but only about 20 lb total, so they will likely only last a few minutes. Cinnamon Bear farm hopes to have the first Mendo County tomatoes in another week.  It has been a long wait for the amazing treat that is the fresh, local tomatoes. The article at this link (provided by Ron Epstein) provides a compelling reminder about why it is worth foregoing those bland mid-winter box store tomatoes altogether and waiting for the locals.

One of the things we have lots of at market these days are turnips.  Turns out, it seems that lots of you aren’t too sure what to do with a turnip. So, to the rescue, Jini Reynolds!  Jini will meet up with you at 10am, shop with you for some turnips and then show you how to use them in salads, dressings and more.  After the session you should be forever ready for turnip season.

Will Siegel will More Farmers Market…


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