Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Will Parrish: A Day Of Infamy In Lakeport [Local]

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on September 30, 2011 at 5:48 am

From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville
The Anderson Valley Advertiser

If you’re a First Nations tribe in Lake County, California, United States of America, you can provide 100 painstaking pages proving under the federal government’s own property laws that you own a piece of land, and the Board of Supervisors still vote against you on grounds of “protecting private property.”

It happened on September 6, 2011 in Lakeport — a date that will live in infamy in the oft-bloody annals of regional aboriginal-settler relations.

The land at issue is an island known traditionally as Elem Modun, now commonly referred to as Rattlesnake Island: the cultural and spiritual center of the Elem Pomo, who have lived in and around southeastern Clear Lake for at least 10,000 years.  For 6,000 years of those years, if not far longer, Rattlesnake Island has been a burial grounds, site of several villages, and ceremonial area for the Elem.  Archeologists have dated artifacts More…

The banks are beyond salvation…

In Around the web on September 30, 2011 at 4:57 am

From ILARGI
The Automatic Earth

It’s time to make one thing clear once and for all: the financial institutions at the heart of our economic system are finished, broke, bankrupt. Since 2008, they have been kept alive only by gigantic infusions of our, the public’s, money. We have been, and still are, told this is only temporary, and that the money will help restore them to health and then be repaid, but temporary has been 3 years and change now and there’s no restored health anywhere in sight.

The opposite is true: Obama launches another -even more desperate- half-trillion dollar jobs plan, and Europe is devising another multi-trillion dollar plan aimed solely at keeping banks from going belly-up, because these banks have lost anywhere between 50% and 90% of their market capitalization in the past few years, despite the multi-trillion capital infusions(!), and are still More…

Libraries Aren’t Dying, They’re Evolving

In Around the web on September 29, 2011 at 8:19 am

From SHAREABLE

[Vote Yes On Local Libraries - Measure A -DS]

“People who talk about libraries dying out are the ones who remember the libraries of their childhood,” says American Library Association (ALA) President, Molly Raphael, from her home in Portland, Ore. “But the library of today is not the library of our childhood, and the library that children see today is not the library we’ll see in 20 years.”

Raphael is giving me an insider’s perspective of the current state of libraries, which are actually thriving. They are evolving and innovating despite significant economic challenges and budget cuts, and people are utilizing libraries at steady or increasing rates. The State of America’s Libraries Report for 2011 notes that library visitation per capita and circulation per capita have both increased in the past 10 years.

Raphael explains More…

Food From The Sky [Transition]

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 29, 2011 at 7:32 am

From FOODFROMTHESKY.org.uk

A brilliant urban food growing initiative on the roof of the Budgens supermarket at Crouch End in London... a Permaculture community garden growing food to sell in the supermarket below while providing a learning and educational space for the different part of the communities. We are growing vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and herbs grown to organic standard with children and other members of our diverse community – sold through the store 8 metres below.


~~

Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga

In Around the web on September 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

From JOE BAGEANT  1946-2011
12/7/10
Repost

If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don’t even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out. More…

The problem is not the thing that is big, but bigness itself

In Around the web on September 28, 2011 at 7:26 am

From PAUL KINGSNORTH
The Guardian
Thanks to Ran Prieur

This economic collapse is a crisis of bigness. Leopold Kohr warned 50 years ago that the gigantist global system would grow until it imploded. We should have listened…

Kohr’s claim was that society’s problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organisation, but by their size. Socialism, anarchism, capitalism, democracy, monarchy – all could work well on what he called “the human scale”: More…

Organic Farming Superior to Industrial Agriculture

In Around the web on September 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

From RODALE INSTITUTE

Organic farming is superior to conventional agriculture according to 30-year comparative study

Rodale Institute today announces the latest results of the Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional farming practices. Originally created to study the transition from conventional to organic production, this 30-year study also examined productivity, soil quality, energy and economics.

Key findings show:

• Organic yields match or surpass conventional yields.
• Organic yields outperform More…

Mendo Island Transition: Project Kleinrock — Setting up a local internet completely free of Internet Service Providers and untouchable by the government

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 28, 2011 at 5:00 am

From PROJECT KLEINROCK

[Needs a nerd... -DS]

Following are the details of a project to create a completely autonomous “second layer” of the Internet, completely free of the influence of or need for Internet Service Providers, and untouchable by the government. This plan is named after Leonard Kleinrock, inventor of the Internet Packet. It has been enacted after news of a bill entering the United States Senate which would allow a President to disable all Internet connectivity within the United States. (We later heard that this bill More…

I am the population problem

In Around the web on September 27, 2011 at 8:29 am

From LISA HYMAS
GRIST

Take a look in the mirror.Population growth tends to get blamed on other people: Africans and Asians who have “more kids than they can feed,” immigrants in our own country with their “large families,” even single mothers in the “inner city.”

But actually the population problem is all about me: white, middle-class, American me. Steer the blame right over here.

Well-meaning people have told me that I’m “just the sort of person who should have kids.” Au contraire. I’m just the sort of person who should not have kids.

Population isn’t just about counting heads. The impact of humanity on the environment is not determined solely by how many of us are around, but by More…

Sorting out possible scenarios for the future

In Around the web on September 27, 2011 at 8:16 am


From SHARON ASTYK
Causaubon’s Book

There are a lot of possible ways to imagine the future. Unfortunately, most of the time we imagine only a few of them. Most Americans are caught up in the Klingons/Cylons distinction in ways that are destructive – the default assumption is a techno-utopianism that doesn’t take physical limits into account, and if they consider any other viewpoint, they assume that the alternative is an apocalyptic nightmare, a Mad-Max-style cartoon.

Neither of these is a likely outcome – we know that we are likely to experience unchecked climate change, energy depletion and economic instability More…

Facebook is scaring me

In Around the web on September 27, 2011 at 7:52 am

From DAVE WINER

Yesterday I wrote that Twitter should be scared of Facebook. Today it’s worse. I, as a mere user of Facebook, am seriously scared of them.  #

Every time they make a change, people get angry. I’ve never myself been angry because I have always assumed everything I post to Facebook is public. That the act of putting something there, a link, picture, mini-essay, is itself a public act. #

This time, however, they’re doing something that I think is really scary, and virus-like. The kind of behavior deserves a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking. #

What clued me in was an article on ReadWriteWeb that says that just reading an article on their site More…

Brazil’s Local Money [Local]

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 26, 2011 at 8:12 am

From WSJ

Towns Issue Their Own Money, Which Brings Local Discounts

[...] The capivari circulates only in this dusty, agricultural town 60 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. The money is an effort by the town, one of the poorest in southeastern Brazil, to encourage its 23,000 residents to spend locally.

The capivari is one of 63 local moneys now circulating in needy towns and neighborhoods throughout Brazil.

Ten months after introduction of the capivari—named after the capybara, a pig-sized rodent common in a local river—the currency is More…

Todd Walton: Sexual Comportment [Local]

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 26, 2011 at 7:50 am

Shall We Dance painting by Todd

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“There’s only one person in the whole world like you, and that’s you yourself.” Fred Rogers

You may have heard about Cynthia Daily, a social worker using an interweb directory to keep track of all the children fathered by the same sperm donor who fathered her child. According to Cynthia’s data, this same sperm donor More…

Making Books and Bookmarks [Books]

In Around the web, Books on September 21, 2011 at 7:24 am

Making Books video series here

I’ve been making books in schools, libraries, and with my family for twenty years. My primary goal is always to make it easy and fun. It is my pleasure and delight to share what I have learned and bring the joy of making books to you.

Includes:

· Bookmark Book
· Gingerbread House Accordian Book
· Handmade Books for a Healthy Planet
· Books Around The World
· Step Book
· Word-A-Day Journal
· Accordion Book
· Stick and Elastic Book
· Hot Dog Booklet
~~

Don Sanderson: Wellness Insurance? [Local]

In Around the web, Local on September 21, 2011 at 5:51 am

From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

Doc Story brought me into the world in the midst of the depression, In coming years, he took out my tonsils, set a broken elbow and a collar bone, and dealt with one and other minor complaints. He was one of two doctors in my farm community; the other concentrated on older people and was wealthier.

The community consisted of maybe 4,000 residents scattered over an area twenty miles square. Doc’s house was large and old, but not otherwise exceptional except that he had constructed an emergency treatment room in the basement – the tiny local hospital didn’t have an emergency room. More…

Occupying Wall Street

In Around the web on September 20, 2011 at 6:30 am

null

Third Communiqué: A Message From Occupied Wall Street

We’re still here. We intend to stay until we see movements toward real change in our country and the world. This is the third communiqué from the 99 percent.

Today, we occupied Wall Street from the heart of the Financial District. Starting at 8:00 AM, we began a march through the Wall Street area, rolling through the blocks around the New York Stock Exchange. At 9:30 AM, we rang our own “morning bell” to start a “people’s exchange,” which we brought back to Liberty Plaza. Two more marches occurred during the day around the Wall Street district, each drawing more supporters to us.

Hundreds of us have been occupying One Liberty Plaza, a park in the heart of the Wall Street district, since Saturday afternoon. We have marched on the Financial District, held a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen victims of Wall Street, and filled the plaza with song, dance, and spontaneous acts of liberation.

Food has been donated to the plaza from supporters all over the world. Online donations for pizza, falafels, and other food are coming in from supporters in Omaha, Madrid, Montreal, and other cities, and have exceeded $8,660. (Link to donate: www.wepay.com/donate/99275) More…

Republicans are the ones waging class warfare

In Around the web on September 20, 2011 at 6:20 am

From DEMOCRACY NOW

David Graeberm, one of the organizers of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest, said Monday on Democracy Now that it was Republicans, not President Barack Obama, who were engaged in class warfare.

“Well, generally speaking, when you hear a Republican talk about class warfare, you know they’re waging it,” he said. “I think that the easiest way to put what’s going on in perspective is to think the situation in the ’50s under Eisenhower, who was of course a Republican president, when tax rates on the wealthiest were actually 90 percent. I don’t remember the economy freezing up and falling apart in the 1950s. In fact, it was booming.”

“I think that for the last 30 years we’ve seen a political battle being waged by the super-rich against everyone else,” Graeberm added.

On Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) accused Obama of practicing “class warfare” with a proposal to tax millionaires at a higher rate.
~

From PAUL KRUGMAN

some notes on the actual class war that has taken place over the past 30 years — namely class warfare for the rich against the middle class. More…

The yuck in your milk

In Around the web on September 20, 2011 at 6:15 am

From KRISTIN WARTMAN
Grist

See also [the real answer for milk needs: local, raw milk]: Michael Foley: The Great Raw Milk Brouhaha — Four Easy Pieces ~DS]

Milk is truly one of the oldest, simplest whole foods – and we certainly drink a lot of it. According to the USDA, Americans consumed an average of 1.8 cups of dairy per person, per day in 2005.

But is the milk Americans are drinking today the same milk our ancestors drank thousands of years ago? Is it even the same milk our great-grandparents were drinking a hundred years ago? By and large, the answer is no.

Like many other modern foods, most of the milk sold today has been altered, stripped, and reconstituted. Once minimally processed, milk now undergoes a complicated and energy-intensive process before it ends up bottled and shipped to grocery store shelves. There are so many additives and processes involved that buying a gallon of milk or a cup of yogurt at your grocery store essentially guarantees that you’ll get a mixture of substances from all over the country — and possibly the world.  But that’s not where it ends; milk by-products also now appear in a wide variety of other processed foods.

Lloyd Metzger, director of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center and Alfred Chair of the Dairy Department at South Dakota State, outlined the process: Milk is received at the processing facilities and is tested for off-flavors More…

My Car-Free Life

In Around the web on September 19, 2011 at 7:53 am

From DENNIS LUECK
Culture Change

I grew up riding a bicycle and continued to depend on my bike for most of my transportation needs right on through graduate school. But when I got a salaried job and suddenly had far more money than I was accustomed to, a strange thing happened: I considered getting a car.

Fortunately, because I was living in Portland, Ore., and could easily bike or bus to work and everywhere else during the week, I eventually realized it would be cheaper and more sensible just to rent a car when I really needed one.

So I did not buy a car. And shortly thereafter, I quit my job after deciding that I really didn’t have to work so much to meet my few material needs.

In contrast, my friends and co-workers who owned new cars continued to work full time, partly to make their car payments, plus pay for gas and insurance. But they also had to keep making money so they could belong to a health club, since by driving everywhere, they no longer got enough physical exercise.

Some of them moved up into the hilly section of town, or farther out into the country and then commuted from there by car to their city jobs. And they drove their kids to schools outside their neighborhoods, each kid to a different school in some cases. In short, because they owned cars, they organized their lives around them.

Meanwhile, I quietly went about organizing my own life around my bicycle. I moved to a bicycle-friendly community, buying a small house near a major north-south bicycle path. I figured out how More…

Dave Smith: The death of books has been greatly exaggerated [Updated]

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on September 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

From DAVE SMITH
Bookseller
Ukiah

Letter to the Editors:

The death of books and libraries has been greatly exaggerated (Tom Hine, Ukiah Daily Journal, 9/18/11 – See below), just as the death of radio was proclaimed many years ago. “Books and libraries are evolving” would be the correct assesment in my opinion.

What I’m learning from my customers is that some people, mainly younger, are indeed moving completely into personal technology for their book reading; some, mainly older, will have nothing to do with reading books on a computer screen; but most book readers still love having physical books in their hands to read, and to pass around, while they also may use technology sometimes when they travel.

I think that will be the norm for awhile yet, and then, as Peak Oil starts pushing energy prices into the stratosphere, and our energy infrastructure crumbles, as it is already beginning to do, then all bets are off. How affordable will eBooks be then, or even available? Will real books be used as barter currency? Will there be armed guards at the library and Mendocino Book Company to prevent looting? Hmmm. You may want to hang on to those books taking up space in your house for awhile yet, Tom. A local farmer may be quite willing to trade some organic potatoes and kale for your dog-eared copy of War and Peace, when times get really tough and your Kindle is gathering dust in the closet.
~

[Update] Assignment Ukiah: Rise of the Kindle, the end of books
Tom Hine

I bought two Kindles in the past month. This is bad news for everybody in the world of book publishing because if I’m starting to make the transition everybody is.

Kindles are new electronic gizmos that I won’t even try to explain, other than that just about every book in the known world is available on one, the vast majority for free. Half my family members now have Kindles and they love them. That’s more bad news for books.

If I ran Random House Publishing I’d try merging with Proctor & Gamble. If I was Ann Kilkenny at the Mendocino Book Company I’d start stocking the shelves with potato chips and 12-packs of Budweiser. If I ran the county library I’d start making calls to see if there were any openings on a road crew.

Books are in trouble. I’m the canary in the coal mine and I just fell flat on my back. My wife reads two or three books a week; she reads murder mysteries faster than the industry prints them. We have books on every horizontal surface of the house, plus boxes and boxes of books up in the rafters in the garage. We spend more on books in any given year than we do in car payments and cable TV service put together.

Oops. Did I say we “spend” more money …?

Sorry.

That should have been “spent” more money. Our book-buying days are coming to an end, you see. So are yours, but you might not know it yet.

Teri recently went to Europe for a few weeks and instead of toting along 40 used paperbacks, all she took was one thin Kindle loaded with several thousand titles. And yeah, I’ll bet she missed those old books with their familiar tactile sensations, the lovely aroma of ink and musty paper creating the evocative fragrance she’s spent a lifetime experiencing, the pages unfolding as she immersed herself in the magical realm of reading.

I’m sure she missed out on all those charming sensory delights. But I’m also sure she got over it by about page six of the first “book” she read on Kindle. She loves her new electric book replacement unit. So does my son. He’s already adapted to the new reading format and can hardly remember what it was like when he didn’t have one. Sort of the way you feel about yellow sticky notes and sushi.

The rise of Kindle and similar devices coincides with the ongoing collapse of the big box book stores. Borders Books is gone, Barnes & Noble is down with a chilled, sweaty fever. They’ll be revived and in good health around the same time drive-in movies, cassette tapes, and the local pear industry are revived.

Inevitably we come to the question of what all this means for libraries across the country and right here in Mendocino County. At the moment the usual batch of big-hearted progressives around the county want you to Vote Yes on a tax increase that will provide an eighth-cent increase to the library from now until (a) Borders Books returns or (b) forever, whichever comes first.

Why should we guarantee funding for the library from now until the end of time when none of us think the library system will endure? No one would possibly tell you the future of libraries is bright except maybe a librarian, and that’s only because her paycheck depends on it.

Do you think that libraries are going to be more like Borders Books in five years or more like Amazon Books? Well, there’s your answer. There is absolutely no reason to be writing a huge check to local libraries every year when the book publishers themselves are out of business and the only things libraries have on their shelves are potato chips and 12-packs of Budweiser.

Anyone who would be willing to bet libraries will still be up and running 10 years from now is a fool. Anyone betting that their grandchildren are going to be happy to continue to pay massive annual fees so libraries can continue to pretend to be doing something functional and necessary in 2025 shouldn’t be trusted with their grandchildren’s inheritance.

Before we all pledge an endless stream of money to this dinosaur business called The Library, we should take some minimal precautions that the business will still be around when we aren’t. And I’m pretty darn sure libraries won’t.

TWK reminds you that the same familiar mob of locals who have never met a tax increase they didn’t embrace and fall in love with are the ones pushing the new library tax. But remember: They love taxes. They name their children after their favorite taxes. Tom Hine just lives in Ukiah and doesn’t want to get involved.
~~

Yesterday’s Car-Free Times

In Around the web on September 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm

From OLIVE TWINING
Culture Change
Thanks to Sean Re

[This was read at Olive's memorial. She was 96 when she died this spring. We reside in her old house, and she and her husband were ahead of their time in many ways. I think you'll enjoy this article she wrote. ~SR]

I wonder whether people today can envision the sort of changes needed to reach an auto-free time. After reading Dennis Lueck’s My Car-Free Life, I began reminiscing about the car-free life I led in the 1920s and 1930s in Berkeley, Calif. In some ways life was more hassle-free, not only for those who rode bicycles but also for people like our family who owned no vehicles at all.

We lived in a residential district. Elementary schools were within easy walking distance. Two street-car lines were within Berkeley and Oakland, and ran past high schools, churches and parks. You could transfer to buses that led beyond the reach of the street-car lines. Two competing commuter-trains led to ferries that took you to San Francisco and its vast system of street-car lines and buses.

Small grocery stores were located within walking distance of homes everywhere. Some, like the one near us, made daily deliveries. You phoned in your order for the day and later a young fellow arrived at your back door with your groceries in a box, on his regular daily round. For us that meant no driving, no parking lots, no walking through endless aisles of supermarkets pushing carts, no lugging heavy bags of groceries home.

Dairy supplies were even easier. Very early every morning the milkman left your bottles of milk and cream on the porch. More…

Blind Minds: How Psychology Ignored (the last) Great Depression

In Around the web on September 17, 2011 at 7:58 am

From PEAK SHRINK
Peak Oil Blues

I’ve been discouraged by the lack of careful thinking in my field about our current situation worldwide.

We’ve been in the New Reality for several years, now, but where are my colleagues who write and publish?  I’m not saying nobody is out there, writing, thinking, talking.  Of course they are…but not in the professional journals.  There’s a media black-out.  As a group, we’re MIA.  Looking through one publication, Psychological Bulletin,  I found very little that would lead me to believe that psychologists even notice the heartbreak going on around them.  Surely, during the Great Depression, psychologist heeded the call, and began to research how to help the mass suffering…

Alas, I was mistaken.  Here’s what one colleague wrote about his fellow psychologists:

When the United States entered the first World War, psychologists, as an associated group, volunteered their professional services. Their contribution was considerable, both to the conduct of the War and to psychology.

When the United States entered the big world depression, psychologists did nothing and, as a group, have so far done nothing. More..

The Flight From Reason

In Books on September 17, 2011 at 7:26 am

Susan Jacoby talks with Bill Moyer. Watch here. Here’s an excerpt:

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, why is it we’re so unwilling to give, as you say, a hearing to contradictory viewpoints? Or to imagine that we might learn something from someone who disagrees with us?

SUSAN JACOBY: Well, I think part of it is part of a larger thing that is making our culture dumber. We have, really, over the past 40 years, gotten shorter and shorter and shorter attention spans. One of the most important studies I’ve found, and I’ve put in this chapter, they call it Infantainment– on this book. It’s by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And they’ve found that children under six spend two hours a day watching television and video on average. But only 39 minutes a day being read to by their parents.

Well, you don’t need a scientific study to know that if you’re not read to by your parents, if most of your entertainment when you’re in those very formative years is looking at a screen, you value what you do. And I don’t see how people can learn to concentrate and read if they watch television when they’re very young as opposed to having their parents read to them. The fact is when you’re watching television, whether it’s an infant or you or I, or staring glazedly at a video screen, you’re not doing something else.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you, Susan, that half of American adults believe in ghosts? Now I take these from your book. One-third believe in astrology. Three quarters believe in angels. And four-fifths believe in miracles. More…

Peak Oil = Peak Hollywood, Peak Advertising, Peak Pollution, Peak Capital, Peak Profits, Peak Greed

In Around the web on September 17, 2011 at 6:45 am

From CHARLES EISENSTEIN
The Oil Drum

When theorists approach the peak oil problem from the perspective of finding a substitute that will allow us to maintain our present energy infrastructure, their conclusion is one of despair. There may be many substitutes for oil as a concentrated form of storable energy, but none of them are nearly as good as oil itself. Those invested in the status quo would, quite understandably, like to maintain it, but it is becoming apparent even to the most highly invested that the status quo is doomed; that it can be maintained only temporarily, and at a rapidly accelerating environmental cost. The transition before us is not merely a transition in fuel types. It is also a transition in the whole energy infrastructure, both physical and psychological; a transition away from big power plants, distribution lines, and metered consumers; away from capital-intensive drilling, refining, distribution, and consumer fueling stations. More broadly, it is a transition away from centralization, concentration, and all the social institutions that go along with it.

Both the energy system and the money system are based on accumulation and the concentration of power. More…

Todd Walton: Wrong Thinking

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 16, 2011 at 7:00 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Taken out of context I must seem so strange.” Ani DiFranco

One of my Anthropology professors was Nigerian, his people Yoruba. An exceptional student as a child, he was sent to school in England and eventually got his PhD from a prestigious American university. My professor married an African American woman, with whom he had two children, and when those children were five and three-years-old, he and his wife took the kids to Nigeria so they could get to know their paternal grandparents and the huge extended family that was my professor’s clan. After a few days in Nigeria, my professor was summoned to a meeting of the male elders of his clan who severely chastised him for not taking a second and third wife to produce more sons.

“You are a very rich man,” said his father, with twenty other men nodding in agreement. “You are richer than any of us, yet you shame your parents and your clan by not taking more wives. Why are you doing this?”

The professor explained to his outraged father and uncles and cousins that in America it was the law that a man may only have one wife. The Yoruba men were disgusted to hear this and shouted many insults at my professor, the gist of their insults being that wealthy American men who take only one wife More…

Will Parrish: The Great Thirst & The North Coast

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on September 16, 2011 at 6:55 am

From WILL PARRISH
TheAVA
Laytonville

Capital is mired in its greatest slump since the 1930s. The ecological fabric that sustains life throughout much of the world is being brutally eradicated; around 200 species go extinct every day, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. In a saner system, these dire circumstances might lead those who steer the ship of state to try heading in a dramatically different direction.

Instead, we get news like the following: On August 11, the administrations of California Governor Jerry Brown and US President Barack Obama issued a joint statement touting an “aggressive schedule” to move ahead with that monument to destruction and folly known as the California peripheral canal, a multi-billion plan to export more of Northern California’s water to Southern California’s corporate agribusinesses and water agencies, which had previously been a pet project of the Schwarzenegger administration.

The enormous concrete structure would divert the Blue Gold from the Sacramento River around the periphery of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. From there, it would enter the largest network of water storage and transfer systems ever engineered: the already existing water infrastructure, that is, the water infrastructure More…

The concept of ‘free markets’ is a lie

In BS Buzzer on September 16, 2011 at 6:20 am

From RAN PRIEUR

[...] First, “freedom” is the perfect propaganda word: its meaning is vague, we have strong feelings about it, and it is value-loaded. Nobody will stand up and say “I am against freedom.” So if you’re clever with words, you can control the minds of people who are not paying attention, by convincing them that “freedom” means what you say it means. And if you apply “freedom” to economics, it gets even more confusing.

Among the many things that “freedom” can mean, two big ones are absence of constraint and absence of coercion. These two things are not only different — they’re opposite. Constraint means you want to do something but you’re not permitted; coercion means you don’t want to do something but you’re forced. Now, if one person is powerful and another person is weak, can you guess which definition of freedom is most important to each of them? And have you ever met a libertarian living in poverty? “Economic freedom” has been defined by the economically powerful as absence of constraint, so they can control the economically weak. In response, the weak use a weak word: fairness. “Unfair” is the complaint of losers. Instead, the economically weak should claim Freedom, and explicitly define it as lack of coercion.

If freedom is lack of coercion, then a free market is one in which no one is permitted to buy the labor of someone who needs money.

So if you need money More…

Local Businesses Key to Income Growth

In Mendo Island Transition on September 15, 2011 at 7:39 am

From STACY MITCHELL
New Rules Project

The results of a new study suggest that the key to reversing the long-term trend of stagnating incomes in the U.S. lies in nurturing small, locally owned businesses and limiting further expansion and market consolidation by large corporations.

Economists Stephan Goetz and David Fleming, both affiliated with Pennsylvania State University and the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, conducted the study, “Does Local Firm Ownership Matter?”  It was published in the journal Economic Development Quarterly.

Goetz and Fleming analyzed 2,953 counties, including both rural and urban places, and found that those with a larger density of small, locally owned businesses experienced greater per capita income growth between 2000 and 2007. The presence of large, non-local businesses, meanwhile, had a negative effect on incomes.

“Even after we control for other economic growth determinants … the non-resident-owned medium and large firms consistently and statistically depress economic growth rates … The other major result is that resident-owned small firms have a statistically significant and relatively large positive effect” on income growth, the authors report. Small firms are defined as More…

Monopoly Capitalism Destroys Jobs

In Around the web on September 15, 2011 at 7:30 am


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Gene Logsdon: Small Farms Create More Jobs

In Garden Farm Skills, Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on September 14, 2011 at 5:17 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

All the talk about creating jobs strikes me as another example of how so many of us sneakily drink one way and piously vote another. Oh how we voice our concern, how much we pretend to support more jobs but we go right on conducting real business on the basis of replacing human workers with machines whenever possible. All the ways being proposed to increase jobs right now are the same old methods that do not face the real cause of the dilemma. The awful truth is that we have created an economy that can’t afford people to do the work and so every year there are fewer meaningful jobs and more pretend jobs. Pretend jobs require pretend money. We are capitalizing costs on money interest not on human interest.

No where is this truer than in farming. We boast about how many people one farmer feeds—155 is the latest number I think— as if that kind of efficiency is a sign of progress. I don’t hear a single business person or government official pointing out that if the whole economy of the common good is considered, one farmer feeding 155 people is not a sign of true profitability but of gross and unsustainable inefficiency. So gross in fact that while the 155 are getting fed, others are going hungry.

It is fairly easy, I think, to demonstrate the inefficiency of one person feeding a hundred and fifty five especially when some of the hundred and fifty five are having a hard time earning enough to buy their food. More…

What Are People For?

In Around the web on September 14, 2011 at 5:04 am


From WENDELL BERRY
What Are People For?

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.
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Why I Farm — A City Version

In Garden Farm Skills, Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on September 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

From BARBARA AYERS
The Contrary Farmer

I hope everyone won’t mind if I contribute my story. I have often wanted to comment on this wonderful, thought provoking site, but felt too shy because I don’t have a farm. My husband works in the entertainment business, hence we live in Pasadena, part of the giant suburban sprawl of Los Angeles, California. I didn’t grow up on a farm either — suburbs, again, outside of Washington, DC. But my maternal grandparents were farmers who emigrated from Romania to Western Canada. I believe the urge to farm must be passed down in one’s genetic code.

I’d always made flower gardens, and I’m a good cook. Somewhere back during the culinary revolution, I came upon a cookbook by Alice Waters, who can’t help but be inspiring. So I planted a pot of basil and parsley on my apartment balcony. Alice was right — picking that super fresh basil whenever I needed it, instead of spending two dollars for it, half wilted from the grocery store, was absolutely life changing. I spent the next fifteen years growing fruits and vegetables wherever they could be squeezed in, and dreaming of life in a more rural setting. Then, one happy day, my young children were accepted by a school that had, among other attractive features, a small organic farm. I spent the summer driving stealthily past the school’s farm property, stalking it, wondering if there would be any space for me to sponsor a project or two. It turned out to be a dusty acre of weeds with a pretty, tiny pond More…

Mendo Island Transition: Knitting a new future

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 13, 2011 at 8:44 am

From JOANNE POYOUROW
Transition US

My name is Joanne and I am a knitter. (Yep, it’s that serious)  For quite some time I have made excuses, telling myself that “knitting was one of those reskilling things” and it was a powerdown craft. But I got to thinking about it seriously this week.

Here, in the middle of urban Los Angeles, knitting is a pretty elitist hobby. It might be a “reskilling type of thing” good for necessary clothing-making somewhere out on a farm where there are plenty of goats and sheep. Or if I took to raising angora rabbits. Because when the serious hiccups in the economy come, when the darker transportation issues of peak oil set in, the boutique yarn stores I patronize today likely won’t be around anymore.

Although every seriously addicted knitter has her enormous stash of yarn, even that won’t last long under such circumstances.  Cotton takes too much acreage, and bamboo requires tons of processing before you can make it into yarn. I don’t think my neighbors would tolerate pigmy goats.  Newspaper we have in great supply, but it doesn’t make washable clothing.  I’ll be out of raw materials.  I have no sustainable supply.

Some of the Transition groups around here have been hosting Repurposing Old Clothes workshops. This is where everyone brings in something old from their closet, plus a spare bit of fabric or some trims. They put it all in a big pile. Then people start pulling garments from the pile — probably not the ones they brought with them. The workshop flows best when you invite someone with an eye for design to help put cool things together. Then out come the sewing machines (or the thread-and-needle). In a powerdown future in the middle of a city, I think we’ll have plenty of leftover mass-produced clothing that can be repurposed like this. More…

Michael Foley: The Great Raw Milk Brouhaha — Four Easy Pieces

In Around Mendo Island on September 12, 2011 at 6:24 am

From MICHAEL FOLEY
Willits

The FDA is on a campaign to ban raw milk sales. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has made it increasingly difficult for people to sell raw milk in the state and recently issued “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares across the state, including one here in Mendocino County (public disclosure: the one my wife, Sara Grusky and I have been supplying).

A task force of agencies, including FDA and CDFA, fronted by a SWAT team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, recently raided the Rawsome food buying club in Venice, California, seizing produce, destroying milk stocks, confiscating cash, and arresting the owners. The charges? Processing and sale of unpasteurized milk to club members, plus storing unwashed eggs at room temperature. Heavy stuff.  Meanwhile, federal regulators were walking executives of Cargill, the grain and meat giant, through a “cost-benefit analysis” to see if it was worth while recalling ground turkey after more than 100 people were sickened and one Californian died of salmonella poisoning. (In the end, Cargill voluntarily recalled 36 million pounds of their product. No charges have been filed.) No one has reported illnesses at Rawsome or among the dairy shares targeted.

So what’s a reasonable person to think? The FDA’s food czar, Michael Taylor (poster boy for the revolving door between American’s most hated corporation, Monsanto, and America’s most hated public institution) recently defended his agency’s preoccupation with tiny dairy share operations as a vital part of protecting public health. Those of us who would like our milk fresh, whole and uncooked, defend dairy shares More…

Is Your Gmail Account Killing the Planet?

In Around the web on September 12, 2011 at 6:20 am

From KIERA BUTLER
Mother Jones

Google says its cloud is way green, but others claim that the internet is a giant, energy-gobbling monster. Whom should you believe?

I don’t know about you, but I really do my part to clutter the internet with crap. I post silly photos of my friends on Facebook by the dozen. I email videos of my little cousins opening Christmas presents to my entire extended family. I tweet my chickens’ baby pictures. And that’s nothing compared to my friend Seth, who saves all his emails, along with every single digital picture he’s ever taken, both on his home server and online. I remember reading somewhere that putting two megabytes of data online is the equivalent of burning a pound of coal. By that calculation, Seth’s 240-gigabyte digital hoard could have powered a 100-watt lightbulb 24/7 since the War of 1812. Which got me wondering: Are digital pack rats like Seth and me guzzling tons of energy with our obsessive archiving?

As it turns out, we really aren’t. Some sleuthing revealed that the original source of the widely reported coal figure I’d read was a 1999 paper by a researcher named Mark Mills. Titled “The Internet Begins With Coal,” it was full of frightening statistics and ominous predictions. The report claimed, for example, that the internet used 8 percent of all the electricity in the United States. The gist was that this newfangled information superhighway could change everyone’s lives for the better, but since it would require so much power, we’d better find enough energy to support it. As it turned out, Mills wrote his report on behalf of the now-defunct Greening Earth Society, a group that, despite its hippie name, was affiliated with Western Fuels Association Inc., a coal-industry trade group notorious for sowing misinformation about climate change. Mills and fellow researcher Peter Huber repeated the argument in a Forbes piece headlined “Dig More Coal—the PCs Are Coming,” which included the outdated claim that traffic on the web was doubling every three months.

Mills’ numbers never held much sway with scientists: More…

Robert Reich: Standing up to the Republican Economic Bullies and their Big Lies

In Around the web on September 12, 2011 at 6:09 am

Former U.S. Labor Secretary and University of California at Berkeley professor Robert Reich gave the keynote speech at the “Summit for a Fair Economy” held in Minneapolis on Saturday. He discussed the big lies about the economy and what could be done to make the economy work for everyone.
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Paul Krugman 9/11 Blog Post Stokes Controversy
From HuffPo

Paul Krugman drew conservative outrage on Sunday when he wrote that the anniversary of 9/11 had become a marker of “shame” for the U.S.

The New York Times columnist wrote a blog post called “The Years of Shame,” in which he said that “what happened after 9/11″ was “deeply shameful.” Krugman castigated people like Rudy Giuliani and President Bush as “fake heroes” who exploited the attacks for their own personal, political or military gain. He also said that many in the media had “[lent] their support to the hijacking of the atrocity.”

Krugman concluded, “the memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And, in its heart, the nation knows it.” He said he had turned off the comments on the post “for obvious reasons.”

Conservative commentators quickly seized on Krugman’s post. Blogger Michelle Malkin called him a “smug coward.” Writer Glenn Reynolds called the post “an admission of impotence from a sad and irrelevant little man.” A writer at the Big Journalism site called Krugman “vile.”

However, some progressives defended Krugman. Blogger Glenn Greenwald vociferously backed the post on Twitter.

“Michael Moore & The Dixie Chicks were just as right back then as Krugman is today – but today the taboos (& their enforcers) are much weaker,” he wrote.

And, on Crooks & Liars, Nicole Belle said that Krugman was simply telling the truth. “That day was the impetus for us to attack and invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks More..

9/11/11: Coaxing Peace Out Of Us

In Around the web on September 10, 2011 at 7:26 am

Our Grief Is Not A Cry For War

From REV BILLY

On that impossible day when the skyline of New York City collapsed on its southern tip – I watched from a rooftop across the East River – we entered an unexpectedly peaceful eye of the storm. We all fell toward the terrible scene. We fell through tunnels, over bridges. We were cultural first responders and many of us ricocheted over to a park called Union Square, the site of so much freedom fighting in the history of the United States.

There, thousands gathered in candle-light vigils on the first nights after 9/11, and this quickly evolved the park into a “people’s republic” without police, with an intense series of sing-alongs, rallies, prayer sessions and circles of traumatized but also liberated citizens, having conversations with strangers, passing the “talking stick” from hand to hand. Around us were copy-shop color reproductions of the faces of the missing, with Magic Marker notes by loved ones, “Hurry home Katherine, Bob and Nancy will wait up for you!”

Candles and flowers were everywhere, and mementos of a personal nature were left in little shrines: feathers and diary pages, old record covers from John and Yoko. Artists set up easels and painted images of firemen with angel-wings. Break-dancers took turns. Monologists shouted in the trees. Fire-swallowers. Mimes dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. Professors studied this unfolding “original culture.”

The vortex of expression continued for weeks and weeks. We stood in circles talking about Peace. We passed the talking stick. We felt Peace was among us, as the missing dead, a parallel world of peaceful smiling friends who died that Tuesday, watched us from every surface. Yes Peace is here, we thought. Something we do here will forgive everyone. A large act of forgiveness is possible – the habit of war can be changed. The bombs haven’t dropped yet.

In the ten years since then, the official violence has been grotesque. Our taxes kill children, with old dead “freedom” rhetoric spoken over the bodies by politicians. At home here in New York City, the 1st Amendment protections that made the Union Square moment possible are strictly hunted down. We have gone to jail for the simple act of shouting or singing in public. Peace – we are told – cannot come from anything but brute force. This infantilizes the citizenry – into consumers only, victims momentarily safe in a culture of fear, in a culture of apocalyptic blockbusters and Tea Party crazies…

This is a very dark time. We can only love and work in a parallel world, in local cultures that we can touch and make sense of. We must carefully select when and how to stand up to an energy company, for instance, that walks into town with bank money and drilling equipment. We do have power from that Union Square world we created.


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Mendocino County’s Inept Energy Plan

In Around Mendo Island on September 9, 2011 at 6:10 am

From DARWIN BOND-GRAHAM TheAVA

Mendocino County has a plan for how it will power its communities and economy far into the future. It’s written into several chapters of the county’s newly updated General Plan. Unfortunately it’s mostly planning by means of inertia: patterns of the present weigh heavily upon the future, as it’s imagined. The General Plan’s recommendations for energy development policies and initiatives are rife with qualifications like “should,” “consider,” “promote,” and “encourage,” all of which are synonyms in government for “do little to nothing.”

The Supervisors, at least those who were on the board in 2007 when the General Plan was last updated, and staff in the Planning Department, seem mostly satisfied with the status quo. As I outlined in my last AVA piece on energy, the status quo is unsustainable and undesirable. Mendocino County communities import nearly all their electricity and gas through PG&E, and rely on increasingly expensive gasoline and diesel to fuel transportation. PG&E purchases or generates electricity primarily from large-scale gas-fired and nuclear power plants, or the hydroelectric dams that have done so much to kill off fish populations and damage watershed ecosystems. PG&E is also fast becoming an importer of “fracked” natural gas. And oil is only going to become more expensive. Mendocino has very few energy sector jobs, and literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being extracted from the county each year to pay PG&E bills and fill up fuel tanks.

While Sacramento is moving to implement laws, regulations, tax credits, and infrastructure programs that will dramatically reshape how energy is produced and used in in the state, it’s up to Mendocino County to determine the specific course of its future. It’s largely up to local communities, cities, and counties to take advantage of these new laws and programs that can, if seized upon, create good local jobs producing clean energy.

To give them credit, staff in the County’s Planning office seem to understand that trouble lies ahead. The General Plan’s introduction contains acknowledgements that, “the county’s widely separated cities and towns make it necessary for many residents to travel long distances to work, shop and recreate. Fuel costs are therefore a major concern More…

Todd Walton: Good People

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 9, 2011 at 6:02 am


Mr. and Mrs. Magician and their son Mischief by Todd

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” Abraham Lincoln

Our maternal grandfather Casey died when he was eighty. He was institutionalized for a year prior to his death because his worsening dementia made him too unpredictable and uncontrollable for our diminutive and frail grandmother to handle. I visited Casey several times in that sad institution where he spent his last days, and though my parents always prefaced my visits to him by saying, “Casey just spouts gibberish now,” I invariably found him cogent and funny in a rambling sort of way.

At the tail end of my last visit to Casey, about a week before he contracted a virulent flu and died, he said two things that have stuck with me for thirty years. We were sitting side-by-side on a concrete patio in a little pool of sunlight when Casey arched his eyebrow (he reminded me of Groucho Marx in appearance and voice) and said, “You know, this is a very exclusive university. It’s extremely difficult to get in here. But eventually, everyone does.”

We laughed about that and then Casey said, “Listen. When you find yourself with the bad people, get away from them and go to the good people.”

“Nothing can be more readily disproved than the old saw, ‘You can’t keep a good man down.’ Most human societies have been beautifully organized to keep good men down.”  John W. Gardner

So what makes someone good or bad? Or are good and bad essentially useless terms, since one nation’s mass murderer is another nation’s hero, and the town harlot turns out to be a tireless advocate for women’s rights, and that usurious money lender is the beloved grandfather of a girl to whom he gave a pony? I took Casey’s advice to mean: if I find myself entangled in unhealthy relationships, I should, as swiftly as possible, get out of those relationships and seek healthier ones. But maybe that’s not what Casey meant. Maybe he meant there really are bad people, and they should be escaped from and avoided; and there really are good people, and they should be found and hung out with. Or maybe he was just speaking gibberish.

“I’ve never met a racist yet who thought he was a racist. Or an anti-Semite who thought they were anti-Semitic.” More…

Who’s building the do-it-ourselves economy?

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 9, 2011 at 5:40 am

From SARAH VAN GELDER and DOUG PIBEL
YES! Magazine

Corbyn Hightower was doing everything right. She worked long hours selling natural skin care products, flying between cities to meet customers, staying in posh hotels. She pulled down a salary that provided her family of five with a comfortable home in a planned community, a Honda SUV, health insurance, and regular shopping trips for the best natural foods, clothes, shoes, and toys.

Then the recession hit. Her commissions dried up, and the layoff soon followed. Life for Hightower, her stay-at-home husband, and three children changed quickly.

First the family moved to a low-rent house down the street from a homeless shelter. They dropped cable TV, Wi-Fi, gym membership, and most of the shopping. Giving up health insurance was the most difficult step — it seemed to Hightower that she was failing to provide for her young daughters. Giving up the car was nearly as difficult.

As our economy goes through tectonic shifts, this sort of adaptation is becoming the new normal. Security for our families will increasingly depend on rebuilding our local and regional economies and on our own adaptability and skills at working together. At the same time, we need government to work on behalf of struggling families and to make the investments that create jobs now and opportunities for coming generations. That will require popular movements of ordinary people, willing to push back against powerful moneyed interests.

Where are the jobs?

How did we get to an economy in which millions are struggling?

Officially, the “Great Recession” ended in the second quarter of 2009. For some people, the recovery is well under way. Corporate profits are at or above pre-recession levels, and the CEOs of the 200 biggest corporations averaged over $10 million in compensation in 2010 — a 23 percent increase over 2009.

But for most Americans, there’s no recovery, and some are confronting homelessness and hunger. More…

Local Food: Humboldt’s Fields of Gold

In Around the web on September 8, 2011 at 6:11 am


From VIRGINIA GRAZIANI
The Redwood Times
Thanks to Doug Mosel

For the past five years, a small group of Humboldt County farmers has been working to revive local grain production, researching and experimenting with different varieties to find out what was grown historically and what works best in local conditions.

Kevin Cunningham of Shakefork Farms in Carlotta, Dan Primerano of Redway and John LaBoyteaux of Camp Grant Ranch near Weott, while not yet rivaling the grain production of the Midwest, Northwest and California’s Central Valley, have produced enough grain to sell at farmers markets and to local bakers and natural food stores.

LaBoyteaux, now retired from raising fruits and vegetables for farmers markets, spent his “free time” this season growing four varieties of wheat. Although he planted only a little more than four acres, all the varieties did well, with better-than-expected yields.

This year LaBoyteaux focused on “hard red” wheats, the type best suited for making bread. In past years he tried smaller amounts of several varieties of “soft white” wheat, which is preferred for pastry.

To a novice looking at the wheat, it seems almost impossible to tell “hard red” from “soft white,” but the hard grain is harder to grind than the soft grain, and red grains do have a reddish tint compared to the lighter, brown-toned color of white wheat.

LaBoyteaux’s star performer this year is ‘Kelse,’ a spring wheat from the Skagit Valley of northwest Washington. Because it was developed for a wet climate, it did particularly well in this year’s long, wet spring.

Two acres of Kelse at Camp Grant yielded 5,000 pounds of grain. LaBoyteaux believes this may be the best yield anyone has had locally, with the previous high yield estimated at 1,700 pounds per acre.

Besides Kelse, LaBoyteaux planted an acre each of two winter wheats, ‘Expresso’ from the Sacramento Valley and ‘Red Fife,’ an heirloom wheat generally grown in the Dakotas and Canada.

Although winter wheats are typically planted in the late fall or early winter, so that they can take advantage of winter precipitation in dry climates, these varieties can be planted later in Humboldt County, where rainfall More…

Don Sanderson: This Old Car

In Around the web on September 8, 2011 at 6:09 am

From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

This Old House is a quite popular television program and magazine. Back in the old days when we had television, I used to enjoy watching. Our present home is a rental, but one with which we have free rein to redecorate the inside and landscape the outside in my usual wild permaculture way. If something needs fixed, such as the new furnace/air conditioner we just got, and not a cheapee, the owner takes care of it. And, he eats the depreciation housing is now undergoing. We’ve owned homes before, but the overhead was always a problem. Give me a rental every time, assuming I can find a landlord such as the present one. This has been our home for a decade and we fully expect it to be for the foreseeable future. Wait, I really intended to talk about cars.

We have a ’92 Crown Vic that we purchased a dozen years ago. It has six cylinders and burns between 22 and 25 miles per gallon, so Obama didn’t want it. I don’t have any idea how fast it will go, but I’ve held it for many miles above 110 on 5 between the Bay Area and LA. It is wonderful to drive, steady as a rock, like a cop car but with a smaller motor. The speedometer claims it has gone 215,000 miles, so it surely must be getting ready for the garbage dump?

Recently, we noticed that the coolant was dropping rather faster than we liked, so we took it to our favorite local mechanic. Whoa, he said, under pressure there is water spurting out at one point in your head gasket. There was no water in the oil, so the spurt was only to the outside, a real win. The mechanic said it can’t be safely driven, because the gasket could completely fail at any moment. We can remove the head, he to us, replace the gasket, and repair any valve problems in the process for about $2,500, but the car is so old that this surely isn’t worth it? We thought only moments and told him to go for it.

Over the past few years, we’ve replaced the rear end and axles, rebuilt the transmission, installed new steering rods, replaced the front seat with bucket seats I helped remove from a ex-cop car, installed a new ignition system and muffler, and other odds and ends. Recently, I had the brakes repaired and purchased new tires. Since we drive very little, just to Ukiah and back mostly with very occasional trips to Healdsburg, Laytonville, and Santa Rosa, I’d guess these repairs have been performed in the last 50,000 miles, mostly much less. So, how old is this car really?

The entire cost of all these repairs and the regular oil changes More…

Jim Houle: Twisted Records of 9/11 Drive Our War Machine

In Around the web on September 8, 2011 at 5:30 am

From JIM HOULE
Redwood Valley

Our nation-wide shock on September 11th, 2001 at seeing those two airliners penetrate the World Trade Center towers generated a sense of fear and vulnerability deep within our psyches. Seizing upon this, our national leaders convinced us that we must attack Afghanistan and Iraq, where those Al Qaeda terrorists allegedly came from. The majority of Americans still feel vulnerable to terrorist attack and have accepted that we must live in a era of endless war without any coherent rationale. Ten years later, these unending Pentagon battles abroad have become, in the words of the Washington Post’s Sept. 5th editorial, our only growth industry. In a declining job market, they represent one of our very few successful jobs programs, employing everyone from GIs to weapons assemblers, from drone makers to private “security” firms protecting our occupiers abroad and taking on tasks our soldiers cannot do. No politician, including Barack Obama, will seriously challenge our huge military-industrial complex, nor question the Pentagon’s brilliant propaganda machine that manufactures those new “enemies” we continually must find to justify our ever expanding war program with its enormous profits. Imagine how the Los Angeles Basin would collapse overnight into Depression should the war machine stop ordering new weapons from Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

Fear-Based Economics
Now, ten years after September 11th 2001, when 2606 innocent office workers were deliberately murdered, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth believes it is time to seriously examine how these people actually died and if their deaths were really necessary. Why now do the A&E 9/11 Truth people bring this up, after much of the evidence of that day’s disaster has been destroyed or well hidden, and when Americans are fully burdened by their need for economic survival? It seems to many that the very shaky story of the 9/11 attack by foreign terrorists upon our Homeland was too quickly accepted by a public driven by fear and is still used as the rationale for our abject surrender to the war machine that drives our entire economy. We have since learned that none of the 19 alleged hijackers were Iraqis or Afghanis, but we invaded those countries anyway. The 19 alleged hijackers actually included 15 Saudi Arabian citizens, 2 from the Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon. More…

Media continues to edit and misrepresent Hoffa remarks

In Around the web on September 7, 2011 at 9:28 am

From DAILYKOS

[Speech transcript below]

As we see time and again, the inaccurate story that Fox News and conservative blogs kick off, other outlets eventually pick up more or less whole cloth. And so it is that the comments in which Teamsters President James (or Jim, but not Jimmy) Hoffa urged listeners to vote have been edited to sound like a call to violence. Media Matters reminds us of the immediate context of the quotes that have been repeatedly taken out of context:

President Obama this is your army. We are ready to march. And president Obama we want one thing: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. That’s what we’re going to tell him. He’s going to be—and when he sees what we’re doing here he will be inspired. But he needs help and you know what? Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!

But the extremely and misleadingly shortened version Fox used is the one that’s making the rounds, in a host of publications that aren’t necessarily trying to do Fox’s partisan work for it, but may just be too damn lazy to get the story right, or too addicted to controversy to want to do so. Falling into the latter category is Politico, which in a story that notes that the “Teamsters slammed conservative [...] media for supposedly editing Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that Hoffa was inciting violence against members of Tea Party organiations (sic),” totally edits Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that he was inciting violence.

In fact, the longest segment of Hoffa’s original speech quoted in the article is seven words: “take these son-of-a-bitches out.” More…

Hollow Bankrupt States and the Crisis of Capitalism

In Around the web on September 7, 2011 at 6:16 am

From JOHN ROBB Global Gorillas

Hollow, bankrupt states and crisis of capitalism is not a “dystopian future” if it is actually happening now. With almost hourly updates.

I coined the term, “hollow stateback in 2007.  The idea derived from what I was seeing develop due to open source warfare and primary loyalties.  Here’s a run down on what it means:

The modern nation-state is in a secular decline, made inevitable by the rise of a global market system. Even developed nations, like the US, are not immune to this process. The decline is at first gradual and then accelerates until it reaches a final end-point: a hollow state. The hollow state has the trappings of a modern nation-state (“leaders”, membership in international organizations, regulations, laws, and a bureaucracy) but it lacks any of the legitimacy, services, and control of its historical counter-part. It is merely a shell that has some influence over the spoils of the economy. The real power rests in the hands of corporations and criminal/guerrilla groups that vie with each other for control of sectors of wealth production. For the individual living within this state, life goes on, but it is debased in a myriad of ways. The shift from a marginally functional nation-state in manageable decline to a hollow state often comes suddenly, through a financial crisis.

This early analysis was right on. Four years on from the above and we’re seeing a rapid “hollowing out” of the developed nation-states. So much so that nearly every nation in the developed world is in a debt crisis, cutting services, and losing legitimacy.

The other idea I’m currently working on is:  “a crisis of capitalism.”  It may also take 3-4 years for people to really get that it is real.

The idea is simple. That capitalism, as it works today More…

The iPhone, Kindle, and US Unemployment

In Around the web on September 7, 2011 at 5:48 am

From ANDREW SULLIVAN The Daily Beast

Here’s a brutal but persuasive piece on why unemployment is likely to stay where it is possibly for the rest of our lives. If you think of American innovation, you often think of Apple, an astonishingly innovative, brilliant industrial high-tech company. The iPhone has been a massive success – but has created jobs mainly … in China. Apple could manufacture the iPhone in America, but its profit margin would drop from 64 percent to 50 percent. And Apple isn’t alone, of course. Which is why China’s high-tech exports to the US keep growing in number and value. Most of those high-tech products are designed and developed by US companies.

Or take the Kindle. Here’s another grim piece:

Amazon’s Kindle 2 couldn’t be made in the U.S., even if Amazon wanted to:

- The flex circuit connectors are made in China because the US supplier base migrated to Asia. - The electrophoretic display is made in Taiwan because the expertise developed from producting flat-panel LCDs migrated to Asia with semiconductor manufacturing. - The highly polished injection-molded case is made in China because the U.S. supplier base eroded as the manufacture of toys, consumer electronics and computers migrated to China. - The wireless card is made in South Korea because that country became a center for making mobile phone components and handsets. - The controller board is made in China because U.S. companies long ago transferred manufacture of printed circuit boards to Asia. - The Lithium polymer battery is made in China because battery development and manufacturing migrated to China along with the development and manufacture of consumer electronics and notebook computers.

As China and India develop even faster, I see no way American skilled workers can truly compete without CEOs hurting their own shareholders. More…

The Republicans Are Now The Anti-Science Party

In Around the web on September 6, 2011 at 8:07 am

From PAUL KRUGMAN

Jon Huntsman Jr, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the Republican party in the United States, namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party”. This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

To see what Mr Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the Republican nomination:Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Mr Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissingevolution as “just a theory“, one that has “got some gaps in it”, an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got people’s attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement – or maybe the right adjective is “vile”.

The second part of Mr Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming – which includes 97% to 98% of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences – is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all, you know that the main development over the past few years More..

Our Only Hope

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on September 6, 2011 at 7:37 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

To the Editors:

Our only hope is long-term hope, and our only real power in dealing with peak oil, climate change, and financial chaos is locally within our communities.

Having said that, I’m a registered Independent because I cannot stand either major political party. I can’t stand the Republican Party leadership for their stupid, greedy, corrupt, libertarian selfishness who don’t give a hoot about their constituents and spend all their time and energy trying to defeat their opponents and kill democratic governance. I can’t stand many of the Democratic Party rank-and-file for their stupid, mumbling, head-shaking, back-stabbing disloyalty to the President they worked for and elected.

President Obama plays by the rules with the hand he was dealt. As one of my favorite bloggers wrote: “He’s not Moses, he’s the President. He presides. He doesn’t rule. We gave him an awful job, and he’s doing it with dignity, sobriety, intelligence, and a variety of other personal and administrative virtues that were absent or compromised in the prior two administrations… while running a country that risks devolving into misery and chaos… in a system rigged against him.”

What is wrong with you people? Obama hurt your feelings? Poor babies. If nothing else, don’t you understand what will happen if the dark side rides again and appoints a couple more corporate Supreme Court judges who, illegally and unconstitutionally, rule us as Kings? We will be a lost nation for generations to come.

Get real, Democrats! Even though he’s not the second coming of Jesus Christ, I’ll be supporting and voting for Obama in the next election, and if you sit this one out you will have betrayed us all.
~
See also So ya think Obama’s not doing his job? Think again…
~~

A GOP Insider Takes His Money and Defects

In Around the web on September 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

From MIKE LOFGREN
Truthout

Barbara Stanwyck: “We’re both rotten!”
Fred MacMurray: “Yeah – only you’re a little more rotten.” -”Double Indemnity” (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten – how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats’ health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats’ rank capitulation to corporate interests – no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party More…

Why the Breakfast Most Americans Eat Today Is a Corporate Scam

In Around the web on September 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

From ANNELI RUFUS
Alternet

Wake up and smell the McCafé: Cold cereal, donuts and orange juice are breakfast staples because somebody somewhere wanted money.

Seeking to provide sanitarium patients with meatless anti-aphrodisiac breakfasts in 1894, Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon and anti-masturbation activist John Kellogg developed the process of flaking cooked grains. Hence Corn Flakes. Hence Rice Krispies. Hence a rift between Kellogg and his business partner/brother, who wanted to sweeten Kellogg’s cereals in hopes of selling more. Guess who won.

In pre-Corn Flakes America, breakfast wasn’t cold or sweet. It was hot, hearty and lardy, and it had about 4,000 calories.

“Breakfast was the biggest meal of the day. Eaten before you headed out to do a whole day of farm chores, it had to keep you going until dinner,” says food historian Andrew F. Smith, author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009). Pre-industrial Americans loaded up on protein-rich eggs, sausages, ham and American-style belly-fat bacon along with ancient carb classics: mush, pancakes, bread. More..

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