In Around the web on November 30, 2011 at 8:38 am
From DANNY GOLDBERG
Progressives and mainstream Democratic pundits disagree with each other about many issues at the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protests, but with few exceptions they are joined in their contempt for drum circles, free hugs, and other behavior in Zuccotti Park that smacks of hippie culture.
In a post for the Daily Beast Michelle Goldberg lamented, “Drum circles and clusters of earnest incense-burning meditators ensure that stereotypes about the hippie left remain alive.” At Esquire, Charles Pierce worried that few could “see past all the dreadlocks and hear… over the drum circles.” Michael Smerconish asked on the MSNBC show Hardball if middle Americans “in their Barcalounger” could relate to drum circles. The New Republic’s Alex Klein chimed in, “In the course of my Friday afternoon occupation, I saw two drum circles, four dogs, two saxophones, three babies….Wall Street survived.” And the host of MSNBC’s Up, Chris Hayes (editor at large of the Nation), recently reassured his guests Naomi Klein and Van Jones that although he supported the political agenda of the protest he wasn’t going to “beat the drum” or “give you a free hug,” to knowing laughter. More…
In Around the web on November 30, 2011 at 8:31 am
From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
This week we present a timely and important series on debt renunciation and forgiveness by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. Today: Part 2: generational, historical, and psychological drivers of debt.
PART 2: Facing forward: Examining generational, historical, and psychological drivers of debt The demand for credit and debt is driven by generational values, historical habits, and psychological desires. These in turn are premised on evolving notions of the good life. If someone thinks material consumption equates with the good life, then chances are that person will get much farther into debt than another person that values non-material staples as supporting the good life— i.e. family, community, and friendship. Where you put your energy and money communicates something strong about the person you are and the way you will interact with the world.
American baby boomers were born into a world of cheap oil, plentiful jobs, and expansionary foreign policy More…
In Gene Logsdon Blog on November 30, 2011 at 8:12 am
From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
The breathtaking photo accompanying this blog post shows a grove of young black walnut trees growing above a lustrous carpet of wild hyacinths in late spring. But what the picture does not show makes it even more wildly beautiful. I would bet that very few readers can guess, in environmental or geographic terms, where photographer Dennis Barnes found this lovely scene. I would never have recognized the locale myself, even though seventy years ago I played many a day right there in that exact spot. You are not looking at some lush tropical jungle, or wild sanctuary in a national park, or institutional arboretum, or wildlife preserve, or refuge far from the haunts of humans. The location is a nondescript patch of Ohio farm country only a few yards away from a world of gullied corn fields. Seventy years ago it was open, park-like woodland used as sheep pasture and had been used that way for about another 70 years. The sheep kept new trees from coming in and limited the growth of wildflowers and brush. When the sheep were withdrawn, sure enough new trees and these wild hyacinths, which as children we had never seen, began to return.
At first there was nothing spectacular about this rejuvenating forest, but then Brad and Berny Billock More…
In Around the web on November 29, 2011 at 6:46 am
From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
This week we present a timely and important series on debt renunciation and forgiveness by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. Today: Part 1.
Given accelerating conditions and trends in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, debt will be renounced, forgiven or written down, and how that process unfolds is now of paramount importance.
Will private entities who dined so gloriously on their profits now eat their losses? Can the public who has seen its fortunes commandeered mount an effective response? Will there be convincing practical alternatives to a rigged world economy based in debt expansion and servitude? The answer is “yes” to all three, contends this five-part series by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. The series offers practical analyses and blueprints for liberating the world from debt and thus freeing its people to pursue greater, more productive purposes.
In Around the web on November 29, 2011 at 6:17 am
From PEAK MOMENT TELEVISION
Robyn and I biked with our friend Marita across Seattle to get our Undriver Licenses™ at a Liveable Streets event held at the University of Washington, with lots of groups tabling there, low-cost helmets, and more. We made a beeline for the Undriver Licensing™ station.
We were greeted by Undriving™ founder Julia Field and her team of volunteers. Since we’ll be taping a conversation with Julia, I wanted Robyn to videotape me and others getting our Undriver Licenses™ for that show.
Chelsea took the lead, explaining Undriving’s goal — to reduce car use, mine or others. I filled out a short pledge form for action’s I’d take in the next month. She urged me to do something that was doable but a stretch. Since I’ve already been doing many errands by bike instead of car, I had to dig a bit deeper. More…
In Around the web on November 29, 2011 at 5:30 am
From GEORGE PACKER
The New Yorker
A man out of work finds community at Occupy Wall Street.
[A good long read... -DS]
…The protesters in Zuccotti Park were angry about things that Kachel recognized from his own life: the injustice of an economic system in which the rich and the powerful sucked the life out of the middle class. He had long felt critical of the big banks, the oil companies, the huge corporations that didn’t pay taxes. Fracking, the hydraulic extraction of natural gas, was a particular concern of Kachel’s. He was also an obsessive follower of Rachel Maddow—he loved her wit, her agreeableness—and Occupy Wall Street was starting to come up on her cable news program.
Kachel had four hundred and fifty dollars from the sale of his copy of Final Cut Pro. For two hundred and fifty, you could travel to New York City on a Greyhound bus. He had never been farther east than Dallas, but New York City was so dense and diverse, and so full of ideas and ways to make money, that if he could learn to exist More…
In Around the web on November 28, 2011 at 6:16 am
From CONNOR SIMPSON
Amid discussions in the tech community over the health of young, overworked engineers, Michael Arrington has written a polarizing post on Uncrunched urging Silicon Valley to, “work more, cry less, and quit all the whining.”
Arrington’s post argues that Silicon Valley workers are going soft in their relatively young age. “Suddenly everyone’s complaining about how unfair things are in Silicon Valley,” Arrington writes. “How hard everyone has to work so darn hard, and how some people don’t get venture capital or a nice sale to Facebook or Google even though lots of other people are getting those things.” But the payoff, according to Arrington, is worth it. “If you work at a startup and you think you’re working too hard and sacrificing too much, find a job somewhere else that will cater to your needs,” he argues.
Arrington uses quotes taken from Jamie Zawinski’s 1994 diary entries
about working as an engineer on the Netscape web browser to show that people have been working like this in Silicon Valley for over 17 years. It’s the way things are meant to be! What Arrington doesn’t mention is how Zawinski introduces his stories on his own page as a “cautionary tale” More…
In Around the web on November 28, 2011 at 6:00 am
From RICHARD RHODES
Cross-Posted at Mendo Books
[Hedy's Folly available now for rent $2/week at Mulligan Books. -DS]
The Life And Breakthrough Inventions Of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman In The World
Actress Hedy Lamarr invented a form of wireless communication that led to Bluetooth, GPS and more.
At the height of her Hollywood career, actress Hedy Lamarr was known as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” For most of her life, her legacy was her looks.
But in the 1940s — in an attempt to help the war effort — she quietly invented what would become the precursor to many wireless technologies we use today, including Bluetooth, GPS, cellphone networks and more.
An Unlikely Beginning
A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes More…
In Around the web on November 28, 2011 at 5:57 am
From SUSIE MADRAK
Crooks and Liars
Is there anything quite as exhilarating as knowing that, despite their posturing to the contrary, Big Banks took a real hit, thanks to a broad-based populist movement? Maybe we can move onto the cable behemoths next: “A Month Without Cable,” where everyone cancels their cable for a month and uses Netflix instead — I can dream, can’t I?
During “Bank Transfer Day” earlier this month, 40,000 Americans moved their money from the nation’s biggest banks to credit unions, voicing their distaste with the action’s of America’s financial behemoths. About 650,000 Americans joined credit unions in October, which is more people than in all of 2010 combined. According to cg42, a consulting firm that does work for the biggest banks, “the nation’s 10 biggest banks could stand to lose as much as $185 billion in deposits in the next year due to customer defections.” Of the banks, “Bank of America is the most vulnerable and could lose up to 10% of its customers and $42 billion in consumer deposits in the next year.”
Plus, you know, a lot less money to buy politicians!
In Around the web on November 26, 2011 at 6:35 am
From FOOD SAFETY NEWS
Wild, edible mushrooms are a delectable treat but California issued a warning earlier this week to people who forage for them.
Mistakes in wild mushroom identification can result in serious illness and even death, cautions Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and State Public Health Officer.
“It is very difficult to distinguish which mushrooms are dangerous and which are safe to eat. Therefore, we recommend that wild mushrooms not be eaten unless they have been carefully examined and determined to be edible by a mushroom expert,” Chapman said.
Wild mushroom poisoning continues to cause disease, hospitalization and death among California residents. According to the California Poison Control System (CPCS), 1,748 cases of mushroom ingestion were reported statewide in 2009-2010. Among those cases:
- Two people died.
- Ten people suffered a major health outcome, such as liver failure leading to coma and/or a liver transplant, or kidney failure requiring dialysis.
- 964 were children under six years of age. These incidents usually involved the child’s eating a small amount of a mushroom growing in yards or neighborhood parks.
- 948 individuals were treated at a health care facility.
• 19 were admitted to an intensive care unit.
The most serious illnesses and deaths have been linked primarily More…
In Around the web on November 26, 2011 at 6:10 am
From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH
I’m under the impression that it’s not all that difficult to see what goes on and why in the financial world these days. Everyone simply keeps talking about what Germany should do, and about eurobonds etc., but a relatively concise overview of a few numbers should be adequate to point out that none of that “solution” talk is based on too much realism.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible that Germany would succumb to the growing pressure to “act”, just that even it it did, not one underlying issue would be solved. Instead, it would mean that the Germans would take the huge risk of taking on enormous losses incurred by other countries and their banks.
Germans may have enjoyed their spot in the safe haven limelight a bit too much to see the mote in their own eyes, but that should not mean they must keep on doing so. All’s not well in Berlin either.
Let’s do a list of where several countries stand at this point (I made a list of 10-year sovereign bond yields at 8.00 AM EST):
- Greece: Will be broke in 3 weeks unless it receives the €8 billion next bailout tranche. It will get this only if the main opposition party signs a letter declaring its support for the EU/CB/IMF troika’s austerity measures and budget cuts, supported by new technocrat PM Papademos. Opposition leader Samaras has so far refused to sign.
10-year bond yields 29.87%.
- Portugal: Downgraded by Fitch to junk status. 2012 GDP expected to fall 3%. Portugal expected to need the same level of bailout as Greece, though a 50% debt writedown has been ruled out by the Greece deal.
10-year bond yields 12.32%.
- Ireland: Nominal gross national More…
In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on November 25, 2011 at 7:21 am
From WILL PARRISH
By casting 99% of the US population as collective victim of a miniscule minority’s monumental greed, the American branch of the Occupy Movement has provided a brilliant framework for bringing together a broad coalition to take on the worst manifestations of what, for the past 35 years or so, has been an almost entirely one-sided class war waged by the ruling elite. Students, their grandparents, heretofore apolitical people, the employed and unemployed, veterans, the housed and the homeless, and people of all ages and colors have partaken in the Occupy Movement (all, of course, to varying degrees).
This framing has profound limitations, however, which are evident in places like Mendocino County, where the vast majority of those who identify themselves as being on the “left” seem to have little interest in delving deeper into the local class structure. As a result, the political interests of a large segment of the so-called 99% — needless to say, the bottom 50% or so — are almost entirely marginalized. It’s difficult to graft the Occupy framework onto each and every place.
Speaking only for myself, I’ve lived in inland Mendo for over three years, and I’ve almost never heard of or participated in a public discussion about structural inequality. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Occupy Movement so far is that it has changed the focus of political conversation, opening up the national discourse so that frank conversations about class in America are actually possible. A a cursory look at the state of Mendo’s housing, employment, healthcare, education, and politics — in other words, its economic and social structure — is an important point of departure. More…
In Around the web on November 25, 2011 at 7:14 am
Transition Towns UK
From LUANE TODD
Why do you think Occupy has been more effective at mobilizing participation and discussion than peak oil or Transition? Their ‘message’ is not so dissimilar but it has connected.
The Occupy movement, unlike the peak oil/climate/Transition movement (?) is a bottom-up not a top-down approach. That appeals to the younger people and many of the older ones as well. What they are doing is not coming in the form of ‘delivered wisdom’ from the ‘experts in the field’ with their laundry list of what we ‘must’ do.
From what I can tell there is a lot of debate/discussion going on all the time about what to do and how to do it. It seems that the ‘leaderless’ or open classroom idea where everyone is a teacher and a learner is a very powerful concept that actually makes our younger people enthusiastic players. For the first time in ages (or forever for some of them) they feel they have the right to speak AND be heard with respect. It is ok to question other points of view, everyone is encouraged to do so.
For comparison I submit that one reason the local food projects are getting a lot of popular support and interest is that to some extent they are site-specific in a way and they lend themselves to customization in another location.
On the other hand, as has already been noted a few times here at Energy Bulletin, there is a hint of elite-ism and follow the manual in the order presented (there will be a test at the end) about the Transition approach More…
In Around the web on November 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm
From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
The Archdruid Report
…No amount of protesting is going to refill the once vast and now mostly depleted reserves of cheap oil and other resources that gave America its age of extravagance, nor is protest going to do anything to stop the decline of America as a world power or the rise of competing powers. Blaming the results of both these processes on the manifold abuses of Wall Street is not going to help the situation noticeably—though seeing bankers and stockbrokers doing perp walks through the streets of Manhattan might do a little to restore public faith in the rule of law, which has taken quite a beating in recent years. Most Americans, ignoring these realities, still insist they are entitled to a standard of living that neither their country’s faltering position in the world, nor the hard facts of physics and geology, will enable them to have for much longer, or get back if they’ve already lost it. Until that sense of entitlement gives way to a more realistic set of expectations, nothing is going to solve the problem Americans think they have—that of finding a way to hang onto hopelessly unsustainable lifestyles—and nothing is going to be done to deal with the predicament Americans actually face—that of dealing with the end of abundance in a way that doesn’t finish shredding the already frayed fabric of our society.
Any attempt to walk the talk that we’ve been discussing here, in other words, has to begin with the individual, and has to start with the acceptance of a very significantly lowered standard of living. To return to an acronym I’ve proposed here already, any response to the future that doesn’t involve using LESS—Less Energy, Stuff, and Stimulation—simply isn’t a serious response to the downside of the industrial age. The toolkit of the Seventies—organic gardening and appropriate tech movements… is among many other things a very effective way of responding to the need More…
In Food on November 23, 2011 at 8:27 am
From COOKING UP A STORY
The baking season is upon us. In this video, Catherine Schon, of Sassafras Catering, demonstrates how to make a tasty homemade pie crust. Now for some of you this will be old hat, but for many who are rediscovering the baker within, this will be very useful to watch. Actually, even as a seasoned home-baker, you might pick up some tips – I did! Ms. Schon was kind enough to also share her Home Made Pie Crust Recipe.
Traditionally folks will make pumpkin pie for their Thanksgiving meal. Or, you might want to consider apple pie or pecan pie – both primary ingredients are in season. Whichever type you decide, try making it yourself. For me that’s part of the fun of making a Thanksgiving meal…find some good music, roll up your sleeves, create, and share!
And before you start making dough, here’s a good tip I learned from the TwoJunes post, Pie, It’s A Way of Life; double or triple the pie dough recipe, divide accordingly, wrap in wax paper, and freeze until needed.
Happy baking, and Happy Thanksgiving!
In Around the web on November 22, 2011 at 7:01 am
From MICKEY Z.
“Pass the gravy.”
“How ’bout them Packers?”
“I wonder how much of this food is genetically modified.”
Hmm…which line doesn’t belong? The table talk at many holiday gatherings often fluctuates between strained and superficial at best—as most folks try to keep the family peace. This reality can leave the radicals in quite a quandary: maintain proper etiquette or exploit a golden opportunity to spark a crucial conversation?
Then, as you sit there agonizing over the right way to broach a touchy topic, the person next to you suddenly blurts out something that makes your blood boil. Do you react or do you “mind your manners”?
When Aunt Betty sez: “If the planet is heating up, why is it so cold today?”
What you want to say: “Listen, you old bat, if you stopped tuning in to right wing radio long enough, you might realize how ignorant you sound.”
Another approach: “The term global warming can be confusing. If we perceived it as climate change instead, it’d make more sense because shifting weather patterns often result in unusually cold weather in certain areas.”
Link for Aunt Betty: Changing the climate…of denial
In Around the web on November 22, 2011 at 6:50 am
From KATE SHEPPARD
This horrifying video of UC Davis police indiscriminately pepper-spraying peaceful student protesters has gone viral. Two officers have been placed on leave. But for anyone who’s never been pepper sprayed, it’s hard to imagine exactly what it feels like. Over at Scientific American, Deborah Blum makes a valiant attempt to explain.
Using a scale of intensity developed 100 years ago by Wilbur Scoville, Blum notes that commercial-grade pepper spray is 1,000 times “hotter” than a jalapeño pepper. Most sprays are between 2 million and 5.3 million Scoville units—and the higher-end figure is the type police use. Here’s the chart:
As Blum notes, getting sprayed in the face isn’t at all like putting too much hot sauce on your burrito:
The reason pepper-spray ends up on the Scoville chart is that – you probably guessed this – it’s literally derived from pepper chemistry, the compounds that make habaneros so much more formidable than the comparatively wimpy bells. Those compounds are called capsaicins and – in fact – pepper spray is more formally called Oleoresin Capsicum or OC Spray. More…
In Around the web on November 21, 2011 at 7:08 am
From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute
Every activist engaged in combating human-caused climate change or specific elements of the current energy economy knows that the work is primarily oppositional. It could hardly be otherwise; for citizens who care about ecological integrity, a sustainable economy, and the health of nature and people, there is plenty to oppose—biomass logging in Massachusetts, mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia, natural gas drilling in Wyoming, poorly sited solar developments in California, river-killing dams in Chile and Brazil, and new nuclear and coal plants around the globe.
These and many other fights against destructive energy projects are crucial, but they can be draining and tend to focus the conversation in negative terms. Sometimes it’s useful to reframe the discourse about ecological limits and economic restructuring in positive terms, that is, about what we’re for. The following list is not comprehensive, but beauty and biodiversity are fundamentals that the energy economy must not diminish. And energy literacy, conservation, relocalization of economic systems, and family planning are necessary tools to achieve our vision of a day when resilient human communities are imbedded in healthy ecosystems, and all members of the land community have space enough to flourish.
Energy is arguably the most decisive factor in both ecosystems and human economies. It is the fulcrum of history, the enabler of all that we do. Yet few people have more than the sketchiest understanding of how energy makes the world go ’round.
Basic energy literacy More…
In Around the web on November 21, 2011 at 7:00 am
From SHARON ASTYK
Here is the single biggest question to consider about the economic, energy and environmental unwinding we are facing – what will the economy look as we go? I get more questions about this than about anything else – what should people do for work, what should they do with savings, how should they begin to prepare themselves for a lower energy world. What I find, however, is that among both the prepared and the unprepared, there’s a whole lot of people kidding themselves. There are those who imagine that there is no economy outside the world of the stock market and formal jobs – that a crash in those things is the end of the world, which means to them either that it can’t happen or they should buy a bunker and some ammo. Others have imagined themselves “free’ of all economic structures larger than the neighborhood, cheerfully providing most of their needs or bartering and never again touching cash. Both ideas fall into the realm of fantasy.
Let us remind ourselves that the informal economy is, in fact, the larger part of the world’s total economy. When you add in the domestic and household economy of the world’s households, the subsistence economy, the barter economy, the volunteer economy, the “under the table” economy, the criminal economy and a few other smaller players, you get something that adds up to 3/4 of the world’s total economic activity. The formal economy – the territory of professional and paid work, of tax statements and GDP – is only 1/4 of the world’s total economic activity. More…
In Around the web on November 19, 2011 at 5:25 am
From DAVID WHITFORD
One of the original organizers of the Occupy Wall Street movement is ready to declare victory.
Kalle Lasn, the white-haired evangelist of Occupy Wall Street, was on the phone from Vancouver, pressing me in his thick Eastern European accent. “So how do you feel there at Fortune?” he asked before I could begin my interview. “Are you scared? You feel that some sort of a heave is happening underneath your feet?”
It was late October, six weeks into a movement that Lasn and his crew of “culture jammers” at Adbustersmagazine take credit for launching. “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?”Adbusters posted on its website in July. “On Sept 17, flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street.” Now Tahrir may have been a stretch. Even Lasn, who was born in German-occupied Estonia in 1942 and spent part of his childhood in a refugee camp, doesn’t think that America is quite ready for Tunisia-style “hard regime change.” Otherwise, good call.
But what’s next, now that winter is on its way and mayors in New York and Oakland, two of the movement’s epicenters, have sent riot squads to shut down the camps in their cities? Lasn told me during the same interview that perhaps the occupation as we know it was coming to an end. “Some heroic people will hang in there and sleep in the snow and inspire us all with their guts,” he predicted, “but by and large I think this movement More…
In Around the web on November 19, 2011 at 5:15 am
Probably 97 percent of police act professionally toward protesters. But the other 3 percent are armed and dangerous, and know that they’re unlikely to be held accountable.
Occupations across the country have born the brunt of some violent police tactics, and in a world where everyone has a camera-phone, a lot of their brutish behavior has been caught in photographs and on video.
Police work is difficult and dangerous, and the majority of officers on the street behave like pros. When it comes to controlling crowds of angry protesters, they’re often put into tense situations and ordered to do things they may not want to do by commanders who are far removed from the scene. I’ve witnessed a lot of restraint from cops, which of course doesn’t make the news.
But being human, cops are also prone to fear and rage like everyone else. A minority of cops, like a minority of protesters, lose their cool in tense situations. The difference is that they aren’t amateurs – they’re well trained and have guidelines that they’re required to follow. When a cop loses his or her cool, it can be terrifying. And when a protester exercising his or her right to assemble and speak is a victim of excessive force, it also violates the United States Constitution…
More footage here
In Around the web on November 18, 2011 at 6:57 am
From DAVE JOHNSON
Who gains – and who loses – when public assets and jobs are turned over to the private sector?
The corporate right endlessly promotes “privatization” of public assets and public jobs as a cash-raising or cost-saving measure. Privatization is when the public turns over assets like airports, roads or buildings, or contracts out a public function like trash collection to a private company. Many cities contract out their trash collection. To raise cash Arizona even sold its state capital building and leased it back.
The justification for privatization is the old argument that private companies do everything better and more “efficiently” than government, and will find ways to cut costs. Over and over we hear that companies do everything for less cost than government. But it never seems to sink in that private companies don’t do things unless the people at the top can make a bundle of cash; if the CEO isn’t making millions, that CEO will move the company on to something else. When government does something they don’t have to pay millions to someone at the top.
So how do private companies save money? What costs do companies cut that government doesn’t? When you hear about “cost-cutting” here is something to consider: what if by “costs” the privatizers are talking about … us? More…
In Around Mendo Island, Around the web, Guest Posts on November 18, 2011 at 6:26 am
From TODD WALTON
Someone broke into our car last week while we were in Cotton Auditorium for another marvelous Symphony of the Redwoods concert, Marcia in the orchestra, I in the audience. I left our car unlocked, having lost the habit of locking up since I moved to Mendocino from Berkeley six years ago. The thief or thieves took a water bottle, a pair of dark glasses, and several CDs. They did not steal the stereo or wreck anything, but the invasion left us feeling sad and cranky. Marcia always locks her car, and I will do so henceforth, though it pains me to feel I must.
I’ve been robbed several times in the course of my life, each robbery ushering in a time of self-review. I’ve had six bicycles stolen, each theft necessitating the purchase of my subsequent mount, along with new and improved locks and chains. And because riding my bicycle was, until quite recently, my primary mode of transport, I understand very well why we used to hang horse thieves.
The grandest material theft of my life befell me two days after Christmas in 1979. I had just moved to Sacramento and was renting a house in a demilitarized zone—poverty to the south of me, wealth to the north. For the first time since childhood, and after more than a decade of living a monk’s life, materialistically speaking, I was relatively affluent. In quick order I had acquired More…
In Around the web on November 18, 2011 at 6:24 am
From BILL MOYERS
Thanks to Janie Sheppard
During the prairie revolt that swept the Great Plains in 1890, populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease exclaimed, “Wall Street owns the country…. Money rules…. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us.”
She should see us now. John Boehner calls on the bankers, holds out his cup and offers them total obeisance from the House majority if only they fill it. Barack Obama criticizes bankers as “fat cats,” then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 a person.
That’s now the norm, and they get away with it. The president has raised more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and private equity managers than any Republican candidate, including Mitt Romney. Inch by inch he has conceded ground to them while espousing populist rhetoric that his very actions betray.
Let’s name this for what it is: hypocrisy made worse, the further perversion of democracy. Our politicians are little more than money launderers in the trafficking of power and policy—fewer than six degrees of separation from the spirit and tactics of Tony Soprano.
Why New York’s Zuccotti Park is filled with people is no mystery. Reporters keep scratching their heads More…
In Around the web on November 17, 2011 at 7:56 am
From CHARLES MINGUS
1 First, you must train your cat to use a home-made cardboard litter box, if you have not already done so. (If your box does not have a one-piece bottom, add a cardboard that fits inside, so you have a false bottom that is smooth and strong. This way the box will not become soggy and fall out at the bottom. The grocery store will have extra flat cardboards which you can cut down to fit exactly inside your box.)
Be sure to use torn up newspaper, not kitty litter. Stop using kitty litter. (When the time comes you cannot put sand in a toilet.)
Once your cat is trained to use a cardboard box, start moving the box around the room, towards the bathroom. If the box is in a corner, move it a few feet from the corner, but not very noticeably. If you move it too far, he may go to the bathroom in the original corner. Do it gradually. You’ve got to get him thinking.Then he will gradually follow the box as you move it to the bathroom. (Important: if you already have it there, move it out of the bathroom, around, and then back. He has to learn to follow it. If it is too close to the toilet, to begin with, he will not follow it up onto the toilet seat when you move it there.) A cat will look for his box. He smells it… Complete instructions here
In Around the web on November 17, 2011 at 7:30 am
From GLOBAL GUERILLAS
…How does a resilient community build a solar farming platform? Here’s what is required (this is MUCH easier to do with new construction):
- The community must own/operate the grid infrastructure that currently supplies them with power. Buy it back if you don’t own it already. If this is impossible, you might want to think about moving…
- Convert the local grid into a smart micro-grid. A micro-grid is a digitized, small scale version of the national grid. There are lots of commercial packages available for this already (like this: the Paladin SmartGrid). A micro-grid turns the community’s local grid from a simple pipe into a digital platform (like the Internet). This means that new date rich features can be added to the local power system, irrespective of how far behind the national grid is, and it can operate independently from the larger national grid if it goes down (which is a big advantage).
- Add plug and play power generation AND a power micro-market. The combination of these features lets solar farmers, whether entrepreneurial family farmers or farmer co-operatives (that share expertise and equipment) rapidly jump into generating power and selling it at More…
In Around the web on November 17, 2011 at 7:23 am
From CHRIS HEDGES
Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.
Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise. They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security—by making us disappear. They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation, a nation where crime and government policy have become indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving, where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth, human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and the voice of the people is a cruel joke.
In Around the web on November 16, 2011 at 6:26 am
From JOE CONASON
At a time when nations that tax, spend, regulate and invest more consistently outstrip the United States in many measures of progress, leading Republicans speak only of smashing government and ending vital programs. In this constantly escalating rhetorical game, it became inevitable that one of them would eventually expose the emptiness of this vainglorious display. And it was unsurprising that the ultimate faker would turn to be Rick Perry.
The dim demagogue could scarcely contain himself during the CNBC debate last Wednesday night as he turned to Ron Paul, his fellow Texan whose sincere hatred of government verges on anarchism, saying: “I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education and the—what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”
With the world watching, he literally didn’t know what he was talking about. And from there it only got worse.
Grinning and groping for an answer, Perry flailed embarrassingly until Paul helpfully suggested “EPA?” But for some reason that didn’t satisfy Perry, who smirked as if someone was trying to trick him into giving the wrong response. “The third agency of government I would—I would do away with More…
In Around the web on November 16, 2011 at 6:05 am
From GLOBAL GUERRILLAS
Event: Bloomberg, the emblematic plutocrat, raids Liberty Square to drive out the Occupy Wall Street protest. In fact, looking across America, it’s amazing how irritating peaceful protest is to its plutocrats, particularly if it is directed against them rather than some useless issue (that the commerical conservatives/liberals love to waste time on).
The question this should raise: how do a very, very small group of neo-feudal plutocrats control a global population (of economic losers) in the modern context?
Right now? Lawfare and the buraucracy of the nation-state. As things continue to degrade, that veneer of legality and constraint will fade and become less effective.
Long term? Bots. Software bots. Drones. My good friend Daniel Suarez did a great job of demonstrating how this works in his books Daemon and Freedom.
In short, bots will increasingly allow a VERY small group of people (in our case, a small group of plutocrats that act as the world’s economic central planners) to amplify their power/dominance in a the physical world to a degree never seen before.
Software bots automate information dominance. They can do everything from checking purchasing habits to energy use (via smart meters) More…
In Around the web on November 16, 2011 at 6:00 am
Thanks to Ron Epstein
Other quotes from Gandhi:
Gandhi on Non-Violence (speech 1919)
I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence. Hence it was that I took part in the Boer War, the so-called Zulu Rebellion and the late war. Hence also do I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour.
But I believe that non-violence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment, forgiveness adorns a soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish; it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless treasure. A mouse hardly forgives a cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. I therefore appreciate the sentiment of those who cry out for the punishment of General Dyer and his ilk. They would tear him to pieces if thy could. But I do not believe Indian to be helpless. More…
In Local on November 15, 2011 at 6:52 am
From ROSALIND PETERSON
Agriculture Defense Coalition
“Climate Remediation” = Geoengineering – Global Geoengineering Governance: Currently the U.S. Government, our military, NASA, NOAA (other U.S. agencies), any city, county, state, private indivduals, corporations, foreign governments, and foreign corporations, can initiate any type of geo-engineering experiments without public knowledge, consent, government restrictions or public debate.
Rosalind Peterson is California President and Co-Founder of the Agriculture Defense Coalition (ADC). The ADC was formed in 2006, to protect agricultural from a wide variety of experimental weather and atmospheric testing programs.
Ms. Peterson also founded California Skywatch in 2002, when she began researching atmospheric testing and weather modification programs. The two websites are separate entities but are linked together by issues listed alphabetically in the “Categories” section.
Ms. Peterson was a Keynote Speaker at the 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference on More…
In Around the web, Books, Food on November 15, 2011 at 6:52 am
From DAN SHAPLEY
The Daily Green
A portrait of Hardwick, Vt., which may be unique in its efforts to develop a new kind of local food system.
I wanted to read The Town that Food Saved because I grew up and live in New York’s Hudson Valley, where small-scale farming has always been a part of the fabric of life…
The book tells the story of Hardwick, Vt., a small town that the modern U.S. economy basically forgot about after its days as a center of granite quarrying ended. An influx of Canadian farmers, followed by a wave of back-to-the-land countercultural types helped maintain a local farm economy while downtown decayed into a familiar rust belt shell of itself: a strip club, a liquor store, a supermarket and a lot of abandoned buildings. Then along comes, along with a wave of wealthy second-home owners seeking the bucolic country life, a fresh crop of farmers and “agripreneurs”: Young, educated and – in some key cases – as well-suited to the world of PR as to the world of farming. Buzz builds about how the town is redefining a local food system in opposition to the consolidated More…
In Around the web, Food on November 15, 2011 at 6:39 am
From NAOMI STARKMAN
During the 20th century, centralized forces made a long-lasting impact on the US food system. An economic and social structure of common markets supplying food produced by local farmers was slowly and steadily dismantled as food production, processing, and distribution consolidated into corporate agri-business.
These changes, on a national scale, created fundamental market barriers for small and midsize farms.
A return to roots
Today, Detroit’s Eastern Market, first established in 1891, is a revitalized food hub, returning to the historical practice of actively offering processing and aggregation support to small and midsize farmers, facilitating relationships between local producers and institutional buyers, and strengthening Michigan’s regional food system. Its evolution says much about the history of our food system and a transformation currently taking place across the country.
From the coasts to the middle of the country, people are seeking new ways to change and sustain the food system.
Nationwide, consumer demand for locally grown food is growing exponentially. The number of farmers’ markets is skyrocketing, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are on the rise, and restaurants More…
In Around the web on November 14, 2011 at 6:43 am
From JAKE LAMAR
From DAVID ATKINS
This is Your Modern GOP
Let’s reiterate what we just witnessed: a contender and one-time frontrunner for the nomination of the Republican Party declared that America should eliminate food stamps, Medicare and the expansion of Social Security, before stating that America should emulate China’s social safety net. And the Republican audience cheered her.
At some point the pearl clutchers and bipartisan fetishists are going to acknowledge that there is a political civil war in this country, that the right wing is going off the rails at an accelerated pace, and that these people represent a grave threat to democracy should they ever take power again.
It’s not just the Bachmanns of the world are living in a dystopic fantasyland. The GOP base is living there, too.
In Around the web on November 14, 2011 at 6:18 am
From MADELEINE BUNTING
It is chilling that so many thinkers, politicians and academics have signed up to the deadening consensus of globalization
EF Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful was the first book on politics I ever read; it was the only book about politics I ever saw my father read or heard him talk about. It arrived in our cottage in rural North Yorkshire as a manifesto from a radical countercultural world with which we had no contact. Re-reading its dense mixture of philosophy, environmentalism and economics, I can’t think what I could possibly have understood of it at 13, but in a bid to impress my father I ploughed on to the end.
Looking back over the intervening almost four decades, the book’s influence has been enormous. “Small is beautiful” was a radical challenge to the 20th century’s intoxication with what Schumacher described as “gigantism”. For several decades, mass production methods were producing more cheap goods than ever before; the mass media and mass culture opened up new opportunities to a wider audience than ever. It was creating bigger markets and bigger political entities – his book came on the eve of the vote on the European Common Market More…
In Around the web on November 14, 2011 at 6:00 am
From ERIK CURREN
“The Transition Towns movement teaches us that peak oil and climate change are a threat to democracy and economic justice all by themselves,” writes a blogger for the Organic Consumers Association. “No amount of democratic reforms or economic regulations will save us, if we don’t also transition from fossil fuels to more resilient, lower carbon systems.”
Yet, the post continues, the Occupy movement reminds Transitioners that we can’t adequately address peak oil and climate change without democracy and fairness in the economy. Their blogger then goes on to recognize that Occupiers have picked up on their own some of the open ways of the Transition movement: decision-making by consensus and making cooperative action plans to increase community resilience.
Rob and the mob
But not all Transitioners agree that Occupy is a good angle for local groups devoted to making their communities more resilient.
“I personally resonate with the Occupy Wall Street action––a lot,” said one participant in a discussion about Occupy on the Transition US listserv in early October. “But I see my choice to support that action as one I would make as an individual More…
In Around the web on November 12, 2011 at 8:29 am
From MATT TAIBBI
I have a confession to make. At first, I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street.
The first few times I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protesters on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he’s not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want, but he and his fellow financial Frankensteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.
That’s what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I’m beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about More…
In Around the web on November 12, 2011 at 8:00 am
From NATHAN CAREY
The Automatic Earth
The Historical Trade-Off Between Efficiency and Resiliency
For several generations people have been tearing up their country roots and planting themselves in urban centers. It is one of the strongest and most ubiquitous migrations of this century across the world – the migration from rural areas to urban cities. In fact, “rural areas” have simply become the space between departure and arrival. They’re just exits off of the freeway that you have no reason to take. The reason for leaving is quite clear, though.
Starved of jobs and opportunities for socioeconomic “mobility”, our rural towns are dying painfully slow deaths. This process is evident traveling through almost any small town two hours away from any urban center in North America. We see empty storefronts with yellowing “For Rent” signs, empty cracked streets with faded paint, empty crumbling grain silos and empty tilting barns. In the last few years, poverty has only gotten worse in America, and especially the rural portions that are largely ignored. More…
In Around Mendo Island, Don Sanderson, Local on November 12, 2011 at 7:45 am
From DON SANDERSON
Maybe not ninety nine percent, but most of us can’t help but support those demonstrating on Wall Street and elsewhere around the world. Never before has humankind seen greed so out of control. Copious availability of fossil fuels has loosened energy restraints and democratic movements have loosened social constraints. I’ve argued elsewhere that the OWS movement is likely to fail because of our modern civilization’s dependence upon fossil fuels and other natural resources that become economically available thanks to fossil fuels. These resources are only sufficiently cheap if they are harvested and utilized under vast economies of scale, which requires capital and naturally results in wealth accumulation. I conclude that OWS should be targeting the root of our problems, our lifestyles, if it has any hopes of being successful. If we insist in living in a fossil fuel based economy, we can expect to pay. But inequality and wealth accumulation aren’t the only consequences, nor even the major ones; fossil fuel usage-caused global warming is. More…
In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on November 11, 2011 at 7:12 am
From TODD WALTON
As the local and state and national and global economies continue to stagger under the weight of debt, real and imagined, and seven billion hungry humans vie for space and food and air and water on the besieged planet, and the Haves continue their eternal battle with the Have Nots, Hollywood has, in the last few years, been rescued from financial ruin by the advent of huge budget movies made in 3-D to be shown in special 3-D theaters and on special 3-D screens for audiences wearing special 3-D glasses. Yes, it was a close call. People weren’t going to the movies much anymore, preferring to wait to watch the junky new films at home for pennies on the dollar or pirating them off the interweb. Why drive to a multiplex and pay a small fortune to see crap when that crap can be delivered right to your doorstep, so to speak, like bad pizza?
But crap in 3-D is amazing. 3-D crap looks fifty times more real (and better) than real crap. And little kids, the second largest engine of movie ticket sales after kids slightly older than little kids, love 3-D, probably because their brains aren’t fully formed yet and the impact of watching massive multi-dimensional animated penguins and cartoon characters and toys and gigantic super heroes killing and killing and killing More…
In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on November 11, 2011 at 7:09 am
From WILL PARRISH
On the night and early morning of October 16th to 17th, the San Francisco Police Department raided the Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza, disassembling people’s tents and nabbing basic provisions such as food, water, and utensils. Five people were arrested. Footage of the police roughly dragging protesters across the pavement and beating them with batons spread quickly across the internet, sparking widespread outrage among movement supporters.
Those supporters include Anderson Valley residents Lisa and Francois de Melogue, who had been following the Occupy movement since its genesis as a small protest in Zucotti Park in the New York City financial district in August. “We just thought that was, in a nutshell, bullshit,” says Mr. de Melogue, 47, referring to the SF police raid. “We decided right there and then that we would start bringing food down to the Occupy San Francisco camp as a show of support.”
The San Francisco protesters reassembled their camp only hours after the police finished the raid. In a matter of days, the de Melogues had solicited enough donations from farmers, bakeries, and grocery outlets in Fort Bragg, Willits More…
In Around the web on November 11, 2011 at 7:08 am
Women from Fukushima hold a three day sit-in in Tokyo calling for the permanent evacuation of at-risk children in areas of high radiation – and also the permanent shut down of nuclear reactors currently switched off in Japan.
The consequences of the Fukushima disaster will be emerging for at least several decades. According to the Japanese government, it will take up to 30 years for the complete clean up of the radiation released from the reactors.
Japan aims to reduce radiation by half over the next two years. To do so it may have to remove and dispose of massive amounts of radioactive soil, possibly enough to fill 23 baseball stadiums, reports Reuters.
Experts say the areas inside the evacuation zone will have to remain uninhabited throughout the years of contamination. All collected soil and other waste will be stored in the Fukushima Prefecture, in an “interim facility” with an estimated capacity of up to 28 million cubic meters.
Despite official information, some reports suggest the Japanese government is seriously downplaying the real amount of radioactive substances that leaked from Fukushima. More…
In Around the web on November 10, 2011 at 8:53 am
It is impossible to separate homelessness from Occupy Wall Street’s struggle for economic justice.
In just under two months, the Occupy movement has managed to turn the country’s attention toward social inequality. As many in the movement struggle with unemployment, student debt and unaffordable mortgage payments, words like foreclosure, debt and joblessness have reentered the public discourse.
More recently, as the number of homeless people at Occupy encampments climbs, the conversation has shifted toward the growing but often hidden dilemma of homelessness in America.
One of the country’s largest occupations can be found in Portland, Oregon’s Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, where an estimated 500 people spend their nights in a sprawling encampment of tents. Many of them are homeless.
Kip Silverman, an organizer with Occupy Portland, told AlterNet, “The majority of them are homeless or disenfranchised people. We have folks that have just recently lost jobs, lost their homes, and the Occupy encampment is all they have right now. We actually have nine families living there.”
During a one-night count in January conducted by Oregon’s Housing and Community Services, the state identified 22,116 homeless people, 30 percent of whom were children. In 2010, the city of Portland had the third highest rate of homelessness in the country. With its free medical facilities, health and outreach services and kitchen serving 1,500 meals a day, it’s no surprise that Occupy Portland has attracted such a high number of the homeless.
The movement is well aware that there are downsides to inclusiveness. Read the rest of this entry »
In Around the web on November 10, 2011 at 8:15 am
Thanks to Debora McGillivray
Historically, biking and drinking beer is a bad idea. But imbibing brews and pedaling while someone else steers? That’s a stroke of two-wheeled brilliance. Actually, make that four wheels.
Recently, Bend, Oregon, featured the debut of the Cycle Pub, a trolley car–shaped traveling bar that blends the city’s twin passions: cycling and craft beer. (The innovation is an American riff on Holland’s lush-friendly Bier Bike.) Up to 12 beer lovers belly up to the glossy wooden bar and pump their legs, while an additional three non-pedalers can plop down on a plush bench and sip brewskis served by a pal doubling as a bartender. (Cycle Pub employees are unable to dole out drinks.)
To cut down on the risk of crashes — and spilling your precious carbonated nectar — “we provide the driver, so riders can legally enjoy a local fine-crafted beer, glass of wine or cup of coffee en route,” founder James Watts told The Bulletin.
But forget caffeine. This a bicycle built for brews. Thanks to Cycle Pub, gaining — and losing — a beer belly has never been so much fun.
In Around the web on November 10, 2011 at 8:07 am
From DAVID KORTEN
Cooking Up A Story
What if we had to make a choice between two quintessential American beliefs: Capitalism and Democracy?
As a society, we may well ask ourselves, what is the ultimate purpose of money, if it is not to satisfy human need, and reduce human suffering? Is it possible to make large amounts of money but not create real wealth? What is the difference between our present form of capitalism and a true, self-regulating market economy?
In this frank interview with noted author, and visionary David Korten, he minces no words about the dangers our current capitalist system poses to democracy, and how Wall Street undermines the well-being of society, and threatens civilization itself. The creation of real wealth, Korten argues, by satisfying true human needs, strengthens individuals, promotes the well-being of local communities, and protects the environment, the foundation of all living things.
Korten warns that we are living again in a Plutocracy, where the financial elites of society control the political, social, and economic levers that mainly serve their narrow interests, to the detriment of society.
Although this interview took place in October of 2010, nothing has changed since then (certainly not for the better), and political gridlock in Washington is stronger than ever. National unemployment remains disastrously high, and half our homes are underwater (where borrowers owe more to the banks than their houses are worth) More…
In !ACTION CENTER!, Local on November 9, 2011 at 7:52 am
From TAMARA WILDER
Help launch this weekend protest at Hendy Woods State Park, Philo, November 11th, 2011, 5:15ish PM Occupation runs Friday, November 11 at 3:00pm – Sunday, November 13 at 2:00pm
We refuse to sit back and watch OUR park close in June 2012 when the fiscal year ends. We, as a local community, are dedicated to finding ways to protect and preserve the park’s natural beauty for generations to come, which is why we are planning to occupy it for a weekend. We hope to raise awareness in our own community and let the state know that we care about it too much to let it go.
See the event page for more information:
Join the conversation:
In Gene Logsdon Blog on November 9, 2011 at 7:50 am
From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
I know something I would much rather occupy than Wall Street. I wonder if the typical young critic of the moneychangers realizes where the wealth that drives Wall Street comes from. How much of it, for example, resides in the land out here in corn and soybean country that is owned by wealthy people who have never set foot on it? A typical if somewhat fictionalized example is Mrs. Petunia Luckybirth who inherited 1200 acres of good Illinois prairie simply because she slid out of the right womb at the right time (as a friend puts it) 84 years ago, but who long ago moved to California and married a man wealthy in his own right. He left her with a million dollar mansion and about 3 million in his own investments when he passed away a few years ago.
Her Illinois farmland is worth some $9,000 an acre at the moment and earns her about $24,000 a year in rental payments which she (actually her lawyers) has been investing dutifully in the stock market at an average return of around 6% over the years which means it about doubles the money every ten years. Industrial corn growers farm her land. She has never had to spend a penny of her farm income. She has never thought of selling it. One thing her father and grandfather had drummed into her head: never sell farmland. It is the best long term investment there is.
What her entire current net worth amounts to is hard to say, but if suddenly her farmland disappeared, she wouldn’t even know it until someone told her. She would have a hard time finding it if she did go back to her roots because she has been away so long all the old landmarks are gone. Even on the county plat books, her farmland is no longer listed under her name but under an investment company her lawyers cooked up to shield her from nosy people like me who used to be able to use plat maps to figure out how much land a farmer owned.