Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Growth is over. Time to move on…

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on January 31, 2012 at 4:41 am

From RICHARD HEINBERG
Thanks to Bob Banner
~

…but we’re exceptional…
~

From PAUL KINGSNORTH
Orion Magazine

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

…We are not environmentalists now because we have an emotional reaction to the wild world. Most of us wouldn’t even know where to find it. We are environmentalists now in order to promote something called “sustainability.” What does this curious, plastic word mean? It does not mean defending the nonhuman world from the ever-expanding empire of Homo sapiens sapiens, though some of its adherents like to pretend it does, even to themselves. It means sustaining human civilization at the comfort level that the world’s rich people—us—feel is their right, without destroying the “natural capital” or the “resource base” that is needed to do so.

It is, in other words, an entirely human-centered piece of politicking, disguised as concern for “the planet.” In a very short time—just over a decade—this worldview has become all-pervasive. It is voiced by the president of the USA and the president of Anglo-Dutch Shell and many people in between. The success of environmentalism has been total—at the price of its soul…

Original article here
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Occupy California: Single Update: Payer Health Care Urgent Action Needed Today Tuesday January 31…

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 31, 2012 at 4:14 am

 

[Update: Money again defeated democracy. These democrats get money from the medical/insurance corporations and they abstained again. Pitiful! -DS]

From Nurses for Social Responsibility
Santa Barbara Independent

There is a vote in the California State Senate on Senate Bill 810, Health Care for All today, and just two more votes are needed for passage. Four Democrats abstained from voting. We could turn them around if you decide to OccupySacramento and get insurance corporations out of health care!

Call these four California senators now, and urge them to vote for Healthcare for All. And call/email your friends, too.

Ca. Sen. Juan Vargas, Juan.Vargas@sen.ca.gov, 916 651-4040

Ca. Sen. Alex Padilla, senator.padilla@sen.ca.gov, 916 651-4020

Ca. Sen. Rodrick Wright , senator.wright@sen.ca.gov, 916 651-4025

Ca. Sen. Michael Rubio, michael.rubio@sen.ca.gov, 916 651-4016

The bill, Senate Bill 810, ensures primary care and preventative care to head off disease before it is too late to get well.\ It is comprehensive, because it not only includes short term care, like clinics, ERs, labs, etc., but it also covers holistic medicine, chiropractic, dental, and vision, and it does so without deductibles, co-pays, or added out-of-pocket costs.

If you are employed and have healthcare through your employer, your employer no longer has to go through an insurance company. This cuts your portion you pay because your employer will pay a lot less for health care. And the bill insures that those out of work More…

Occupy a Garden This Year: How to sow vegetable seeds directly into the soil…

In Mendo Island Transition on January 31, 2012 at 4:00 am


Onion Seeds

From VERONICA HAWKINS
HowToDoThings.com

[See also Monsanto’s new seeds a dead end below... -DS]

If you have a patch of land that you are not making use of, why not consider planting vegetables?

Nowadays, people should be more practical in sourcing basic necessities such as food. Plant some vegetables in your garden and enjoy the freshness of your food while also saving money to purchase your other needs.

To know more about how you can sow vegetable seeds directly into your garden, read on.

  • Pick a spot. Make sure that the land in which you plan to plant is not covered with sand or rock beds. The soil should be conducive for the vegetables to grow on.
  • Purchase the materials you need. Go to the nearest gardening store to purchase all of the supplies you need for this project.
  • Pick the vegetables you want to plant. Be cautious about the type of vegetables that you want to plant. This will be very much dependent on the weather conditions of your area. Try to research online on what types of vegetables are suitable in your area and the type of soil and land area that you have.
  • Read the seed packaging instructions. Each seed will require a different way of planting. Read the instructions in the packaging to know how much depth you need to dig to plant and how much sunlight and water the seed needs in order to grow.
  • Set up your soil. Make sure that the area where you will plant is composed of suitable soil More…

Global supply lines are breaking down…

In Around the web on January 30, 2012 at 7:11 am

From NATURAL NEWS
Thanks to Dave Pollard

[Here's a followup to my recent Peak Walmart letter to the editors where the claim was made that Walmart, Costco, and other big box stores would contract and die themselves after destroying our local "supermarkets, our co-op, our family farmers and farmers markets, our downtown family-owned shops and our local community networks of economic exchange"... -DS]

This is one of the most important trends you’ll see in 2012 and beyond: Global supply lines are breaking down. The just-in-time system of deliveries on tap is deteriorating. Have you noticed how often the products or parts you need are backordered or delayed? That’s what I’m talking about.

Try to order 3TB hard drives for data storage. You’ll discover they’re all back-ordered. When you order items from Amazon.com that are shipped by third party companies, they’re often delayed due to sourcing problems. Even our own NaturalNews Store has suffered from sourcing challenges, where customer demand is much higher than the available supply, and the suppliers sometimes can’t get us products in a timely manner.

This issue is especially notable across the firearms industry, where record firearm sales More…

Dying Honeybees: It’s been insecticides from seed companies all along…

In Around the web on January 30, 2012 at 5:55 am

From JEANNE ROBERTS
Reader Supported News
Thanks to Peggy Bruton and Janie Sheppard

With news that the U.S. honeybee population has been so devastated that some beekeepers will qualify for disaster relief dollars, comes a report from Purdue University that one of the causes of honeybee deaths is – as long suspected - neonicotinoids.

I say one of the causes, because the article does. In fact, the levels of neonicotinoid contamination of the powder used to spread seeds – up to 700,000 times the lethal dose – suggest that this insecticide may be the major, or precipitating, cause, with Varroa mites and other problems simply the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

And this, a myriad of causes, none of them dominant, is what agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have us believe, either because (as some suggest) they are understaffed to adequately investigate Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or because some of their former (or present) members are in bed with major chemical More…

Collecting a wild honeybee swarm…

In Around the web on January 30, 2012 at 5:30 am

From COOKING UP A STORY

When the population of worker bees exceeds the resource capacity of a hive, a portion of the colony will leave to find a new home. A swarm is the natural way for a hive to divide itself (usually) in half, and transport the new colony (with the old queen) to a temporary spot (cluster) from which select bee members (scouts) search for a new home.

There are a number of incredibly complex interactions that the honeybees make in order to decide when its time to form a new colony, when to actually start swarming (leave the hive); for the scouts to locate potential new homes; communicate their findings to other bees; select among a choice of different offerings; and then finally, direct the majority of the colony (that have never seen the new home) to its precise location. Chemical signals called pheromones play an integral role in their ability to communicate, but honeybees also rely upon acoustic signally methods. For example, the buzz-run dance signals the bees it’s time to leave the hive.

In this video, beekeeper Matt Reed demonstrates how to collect a wild honeybee swarm; this one is about 2 pounds in size, or 7000 bees. A swarm may range in size anywhere between roughly 1000 to 30,000 bees, and relies upon a small contingent of scouts to find a suitable home, and relay that information back More…

The Welfare Entitlement Queens of Crony Capitalism

In Around the web on January 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm

From BILL MOYERS

Moyers & Company explores the tight connection between Wall Street and the White House with David Stockman – yes, that David Stockman — former budget director for President Reagan.

Now a businessman who says he was “taken to the woodshed” for telling the truth about the administration’s tax policies, Stockman speaks candidly with Bill Moyers about how money dominates politics, distorting free markets and endangering democracy. “As a result,” Stockman says, “we have neither capitalism nor democracy. We have crony capitalism.”

Stockman shares details on how the courtship of politics and high finance have turned our economy into a private club that rewards the super-rich and corporations, leaving average Americans wondering how it could happen and who’s really in charge.

“We now have an entitled class of Wall Street financiers and of corporate CEOs who believe the government is there to do… whatever it takes in order to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward,” Stockman tells Moyers.
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The intercession of a thousand small sanities…

In Around the web on January 29, 2012 at 5:22 am

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

In last week’s New Yorker, Adam Gopnik laments the epidemic of imprisonment in America, especially of the young and visible minorities, and explores what leads a society to give up on, incarcerate and hence enslave so many in brutal, soul-destroying institutions. In the article he describes the atrocity of privatization of prisons:

No more chilling document exists in recent American life than the 2005 annual report of the biggest of these firms, the Corrections Corporation of America. Here the company (which spends millions lobbying legislators) is obliged to caution its investors about the risk that somehow, somewhere, someone might turn off the spigot of convicted men:

“Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities. . . . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes More…

Get Rhythm…

In Around the web on January 28, 2012 at 6:35 am


For K. Dornhuber coming west…
~~

What to do? Take Action! Build the new economy by generating alternatives…

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on January 28, 2012 at 6:30 am

From The Economics of Happiness

Across the world millions of people are actively resisting the process of corporate globalization while simultaneously creating viable local alternatives in the here and now. This powerful emerging movement represents a radical departure from ‘business as usual’. In place of the imposition of a single, global world economy, the new paradigm seeks ‘a world that embraces many worlds’ – an adapting biocultural mosaic rather than a global monoculture. Proponents of this approach call for ‘small scale on a large scale’ rather than one-size-fits-all, ‘too big to fail’ blueprints. In turn, the kind of solutions that are being generated flow from diversity, are attentive to the ecological particularities of place, are more responsive to social needs, and are often far more equitable, participatory and democratic.

Help create the new economy from the ground up!

Support local independent businesses, cooperatives & social enterprises…


Buy local first

Keeping money circulating locally will help reinvigorate the local economy and generate desperately needed jobs. If you are a business owner, source locally for your supplies and services whenever possible and engage in fair and sustainable (‘translocal’) trade for those goods that can’t be sourced locally.

The 3/50 Project

Local Multiplier Effect

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

Start or support a “Local First” campaign in your town or city

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies – Local First

The New Economic Foundation’s Local Multiplier 3

Civic Economics

Crossroads Resource Center

Join, start or support a local worker cooperative

Help create more equitable and democratic local economies… More…

Don Sanderson: Scylla

In Around the web on January 28, 2012 at 6:20 am

From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

We cannot resolve the problems of our existence at the same level of thinking that created them. – Albert Einstein

As blind Homer told us so long ago, after a series of torturous adventures in which most of his men are lost, Odysseus is swept up into the whirlpool Charybdis guarded by the six-headed monster Scylla. He only just survives to undergo still more challenges before finally years later returning to his home to slay his last adversaries and end his Odyssey.

The oil-guzzling Scylla we confront is a bizarre creature of many clashing colors and shapes. Its most prominent three heads, on coiled necks entangled nearly in strangleholds, are continually quarreling, each attempting to use the others for its own purposes. Those protuberances are that grossly bloated wealth symbolized by Wall Street, a Zionism that fantasizes rebuilding Solomonic empires on Islamic bones, the original of which archeologists can find no trace, and an apocalyptic Christianity determined to see a new Jerusalem constructed on the smoking remains of the present damned world. Scylla’s spoor is seen everywhere in smoking remains of villages, of starving urban homeless, of thousands of dying species, of degradation of arable land, rainforests, fresh water, and the oceans, all the excesses of climate change, and the increasingly likely demise of the human species. The U.S. military is the blaze with which it is attempting to use to enflame the world into submission. Units are buzzing everywhere, notably in equipping and training others, both foreign militaries and American police, to attempt to control popular movements that embarrass Scylla, reminding it that it is actually powerless to succeed without the hearts of those it seeks to overbear. More…

Leonard Cohen takes Austin (1988)…

In Around the web on January 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

1) First We Take Manhattan
2) Tower of Song
3) Everybody Knows
4) Ain’t No Cure For Love
5) The Partisan
6) Joan of Arc
7) Jazz Police
8) If It Be Your Will
9) Take This Waltz
~~

Will Parrish: ‘America’s Last Newspaper’

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on January 27, 2012 at 5:27 am

Bruce Anderson, Editor/Publisher, Anderson Valley Advertiser
From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

I decided to enroll in the journalism program at my alma mater, the University of California Santa Cruz, during the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, circa late 2002 and early 2003. UCSC was home to a trenchant anti-war movement, far more than in most of the country. For example, a 2,000-person demonstration against the impending US invasion of Afghanistan took place there on October 11, 2001. It was the first event I covered as a student journalist.

The experience of these actions — which reached their pinnacle on February 15, 2003, when more than 15 million people protested throughout the world — gave me my first sense of belonging to a force capable of transforming history. We jumped on the earth, as Abbie Hoffman once put it, and the earth jumped back. With each demonstration, the repressive and heavily militaristic post-9/11 political climate thawed a bit more. Several US-allied countries responded by backing out of the invasion. Though the movement tragically failed to stop the war, many thousands of people — me included — were compelled to continue on with political resistance of various kinds.

Most journalism programs at US universities are feedlots of mediocrity. Their underlying purpose in most cases is to prepare the students for careers propagandizing on behalf of corporate and state power. By contrast, the lure of UCSC’s journalism program was that it encouraged advocacy journalism and dissident thinking. The course instructors were accomplished investigative reporters, authors, and academically-inclined people from various backgrounds. Yet, their lessons and assignments tended to be based on an unapologetic left-wing slant on news reporting and the functions of mass media.

The program’s main architect was a member of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most fascinating Irish political family, Conn Hallinan. His grandfather, Patrick, was a member of the revolutionary Irish National Invincibles who fled to the US to avoid persecution, then became a leading San Francisco labor agitator. His father, Vincent, was a famous Communist attorney best remembered for successfully defending union leader Harry Bridges against perjury charges More…

Todd Walton: Going Postal

In Todd Walton on January 27, 2012 at 5:23 am


Saroyan Envelope by Jenifer Angel

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“I claim there ain’t


Another Saint


As great as Valentine.” Ogden Nash

The notices currently taped to both sides of the glass doors of the Mendocino Post Office proclaim that starting February 14, 2012, our post office will henceforth be closed on Saturdays, and postal business shall only be conducted Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM. That our government, otherwise known as the Council of Evil Morons, would choose Valentine’s Day to kick off this latest contraction of our terrific postal system strikes me as ironic and cruel, as well as evil and moronic.

I and most Americans over fifty first learned how the postal system worked when we were in First and Second Grade and our teachers helped us create and operate our very own in-classroom post offices for the purpose of sending and receiving Valentines to and from our classmates. At Las Lomitas Elementary School we had actual post offices (built by handy parents) that took up big chunks of classroom real estate. These one-room offices featured windows behind which stood postal workers from whom we could buy stamp facsimiles (fresh from the mimeograph machine) to affix with edible white paste to our properly addressed envelopes. These envelopes contained store bought or handmade Valentines, and we would drop these childish love missives into cardboard mailboxes located across the rooms from the post offices. Then every hour or so postal workers would open these mailboxes, empty the contents into transport bags, and carry the mail to the post offices wherein the letters would be sorted into cubbyholes bearing the names of the recipients. And we, the children, got to be the postal workers and do all these fun jobs. How cool is that? For a six-year-old, way cool.

These Valentines postal operations stimulated many other sectors of our classroom ecology. Making art took on new and urgent meaning, as did writing. Anyone could send a regular valentine, but only artists and poets could make valentines covered with glitter (affixed to that same edible paste) bearing heartfelt original (or accidentally plagiarized) rhymes. Roses are red, violets are blue, please be my Valentine, shoo bop doo wah.

Valentines were the gateway drugs More…

Unions = Democracy = Middle Class = Shared Prosperity…

In Around the web on January 27, 2012 at 5:00 am

From DAVE JOHNSON
Campaign for America’s Future

Democracy v. Plutocracy, Unions v. Servitude

Servitude: “a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life”

Democracy: “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections”

Plutocracy: government by the wealthy

Labor union: a [democratic] organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions

You may have seen the recent flurry of stories about how hi-tech products are made in China. The stories focus on Apple, but it isn’t just Apple. These stories of exploited Chinese workers are also the story of how and why we — 99% of us, anyway — are all feeling such a squeeze here, because we are suffering the disappearance of our middle class. Our choice is democracy or servitude.

Working In China

A collection of excerpts from the Charles Duhigg and David Barboza story, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad and the Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher story, How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work both from the NY Times:

Rousted from dorms at midnight, told to work:

Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.”

Banners on the walls warned the 120,000 employees: “Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.”

(How close is that to the very definition of servitude?) More…

Rosalind Peterson: Good News! Groups sue over Navy sonar use off Northwest coast…

In Around the web on January 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

SEATTLE (AP) — Conservationists and Native American tribes are suing over the Navy’s expanded use of sonar in training exercises off the Washington, Oregon and California coasts, saying the noise can harass and kill whales and other marine life.

In a lawsuit being filed Thursday by the environmental law firmEarthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups against the National Marine Fisheries Service claims the service was wrong to approve the Navy’s plan for the expanded training.

They said the regulators should have considered the effects repeated sonar use can have on those species over many years and also required certain restrictions on where the Navy could conduct sonar and other loud activities to protect orcas, humpbacks and other whales, as well as seals, sea lions and dolphins.

Instead, the Navy is required to look around and see if sea mammals are present before they conduct the training.

Kristen Boyles, a Seattle-based attorney with Earthjustice, said it’s the job of the fisheries service to balance the needs of the Navy with measures to protect marine life.

“Nobody’s saying they shouldn’t train,” she said. “But it can’t be possible that it’s no-holds-barred, that there’s no place where this can’t happen.”

In 2010, the fisheries service approved the Navy’s five-year plan for operations in the Northwest Training Range Complex, an area roughly the size of California, about 126,000 nautical square miles, that stretches from the waters off Mendocino County in California to the Canadian border. The Navy has conducted exercises in the training range for 60 years, but in recent years proposed increased weapons testing and submarine training.

The groups want the permit granted to the Navy to be invalidated. They are asking the court to order the fisheries service to study the long-term effects of sonar on marine mammals, in accordance with the Endangered Species Act and other laws.

Regulators determined that while sonar use by navies has been associated with the deaths of whales around the world, including the beaching of 37 whales on North Carolina’s Outer Banks in 2005, there was little chance of that happening in the Northwest. The short duration of the sonar use, typically 90 minutes More…

Transition to the future — Making it simple and local…

In Around the web on January 26, 2012 at 6:13 am



From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH

[Nicole Foss videos above extremely important! Please watch... -DS]

Ilargi: Ironically and unfortunately, the economic growth faith delusion is too strong to make people, even if they acknowledge that harder times lie ahead, understand that they need to focus some place other than how much their gold is worth today, or their pension. That things other than monetary items will be much more important to their survival and well-being.

That land and community and practical skills will in the future trump all the things they’ve ever seen as valuable. And, to be honest, how can you be expected to change your myopic points of view when everyone around you holds on to them in the exact same way that you do? You look around, and everything seems alright, nothing a spoonful of austerity and hard work can’t cure.

But, just as the only good thing to do for Obama right now is to abolish Fannie and Freddie and Sallie Mae and the FHA and FHFA, to get out, which he won’t, there’s an equivalent for Jill and Jack on Main Street. And that is also to get out. Get out and cut, to the extent possible, all dependence on the government that makes its decisions for all the wrong reasons, and on all other top-down systems that rely on it.

Because those systems are going to crash, and there’s no doubt that they will bring all the Jack and Jills that depend on them, down with them. Obama and Merkel won’t get out of the way, and that increases the urgency for Jack and Jill to do so.

There are people whose role in this unfolding tragedy will be to Occupy Wall Street or Tahrir Square. And there are people whose role it will be More…

Fibershed: Sourcing Textiles Locally…

In Around the web on January 26, 2012 at 4:48 am

From CHRIS MARTINSON

Most of us dress ourselves each morning with garments that were grown, processed, designed and sewn by an anonymous supply chain. A combination of animal, plant, machinery, imagination, and technical skill came together to clothe you, but it is rare to have connection to any of these real life elements.

It is the goal of one central Californian community’s members to put a face on their wardrobes, and to uncover, develop, and build a new way of engaging with the textiles of their lives. A bioregional supply chain known as a Fibershed is being grown out of a region with a 150 mile diameter — the epicenter just north of San Francisco.

The project aims to bring a thriving local alternative to conventional textile manufacturing systems and to support communities in reviving, sustaining, and networking their raw material base with skilled design and artisanal textile talent.

The Rationale for Domestic, Sustainably-Made Textiles

This DIY revival is steeped in an awareness of the global economic, social, and environmental realities brought forth by conventional textile supply chains and is a response to the following situation:

  • After agriculture, the textile industry is the #1 polluter of fresh water resources on the planet.
  • The industry’s carbon footprint has been deemed the ‘elephant in the room’ by many in the trade –- ranking as the 5th largest polluter in the United States, where only a fraction of the industry even remains.
  • The chemical cocktail used to soften, process, and dye our clothing is attributed to a range of human diseases – including chronic illness and cancer.
  • Even the most ‘eco-friendly’ synthetic dyes contain endocrine disrupters, and the most commonly used dyes still contain heavy metals such as cobalt, chrome, copper, and nickel.
  • Labor is sought for cost, first and foremost – not quality — leading to massive exploitation and many unstable jobs.

In 1965, 95% of the clothing in a typical American’s closet was made in America. Today less than 5% of our clothes are made here. Unfortunately, this huge movement of the industry was not prompted by a desire for higher standards of production, economic equity for laborers, or tight environmental regulation. It was done to circumvent More…

Occupy: Showdown in Chicago May Day 2012

In Around the web on January 26, 2012 at 4:29 am

From ADBUSTERS

Hey you redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,

Against the backdrop of a global uprising that is simmering in dozens of countries and thousands of cities and towns, the G8 and NATO will hold a rare simultaneous summit in Chicago this May. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there.

And so will we.

On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.

And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 … nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the City of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights. We’ll go there with our heads held high and assemble for a month-long people’s summit … we’ll march and chant and sing and shout and exercise our right to tell our elected representatives what we want … the constitution will be our guide.

And when the G8 and NATO meet behind closed doors on May 19, we’ll be ready with our demands: a Robin Hood Tax … a ban on high frequency ‘flash’ trading … a binding climate change accord … a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals … an all out initiative for a nuclear-free Middle East … whatever we decide in our general assemblies and in our global internet brainstorm – we the people will set the agenda for the next few years and demand our leaders carry it out.

And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear.

Jammers, pack your tents, muster up your courage and prepare for a big bang in Chicago this Spring. If we don’t stand up now and fight now for a different kind of future we may not have much of a future … so let’s live without dead time for a month in May and see what happens …

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ
~~

Gene Logsdon: Talking To Animals…

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on January 25, 2012 at 7:11 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Have you ever had this happen to you? You stop at a friend’s farm. Knowing he or she is in the barn doing chores, you saunter across the barnyard unannounced. You can hear your friend carrying on quite an animated conversation with someone. You walk through the barn door and there indeed is your friend and he is indeed talking but there is no one else in the barn. He sees you and abruptly falls silent. He gets a look of awful embarrassment on his face. He has been talking to his animals as we all do but don’t like to admit it.

During the days when I was milking a hundred cows, I was often caught carrying on learned discussions with my Holsteins. If the visitor were a friend, especially if he had been caught talking to animals himself, he might put on a big show of mystification, going to great lengths to look around to see whom I had been talking to.

A milker of cows is sort of like the blacksmith of yore. Morning and evening you are always in your office, so to speak, and the whole neighborhood knows it. You are a captive audience to every fervent Republican who wants to pleasure you with his latest joke about stupid Democrats. Or vice versa.  Salesmen know you can’t escape them.  Every righteous crusader for every righteous cause wants to practice his pitch on you. Every hunter has a new escapade to tell you about how he saw the buck deer with the biggest rack in the county but of course did not get a shot at it.

Animals are great to talk to. They can be trusted to keep any secret, will not point out to you embarrassing contradictions of logic in your arguments, and they never argue back. They just nod and keep on eating. They will only interrupt your flow of brilliant reasoning if they run out of food.

Conversing with animals can be quite effective.

“I tell you, they should just throw all those politicians out of Washington and start over.”

“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.” The sound of a cow chewing hay is as soothing as the sound of a waterfall.

“Well, yes, of course, somebody has to run the government but why can’t they compromise more.”

“Munch, crunch, munch crunch.” The big round cow eyes stare placidly out on the world, unperturbed.

“As long as they don’t kiss up to those rich Republicans too much.”

“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.” One ear wiggle-waggles. More…

Resilient Communities: Decoupling from a global train wreck…

In Around the web on January 25, 2012 at 6:18 am

From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

Most of us are DEPENDENT on a global network to get through the day.

Unfortunately, this network is tightly coupled.

Tightly coupled?  What the heck is that?

Tightly coupled is a term used by engineers.   It’s a system where the parts are interdependent.

As a result, a change or failure in one part of the system has an immediate impact on the other parts of the system.

In world that’s tightly coupled, a disaster in one part of the world will immediately be felt in another part of the world.   We saw this on a grand scale with the financial disaster in 2008, and we are going to see it again and again in the future.

Here’s an example of tight coupling in practice:

___________

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the last decade working on “what if” scenarios for the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA.

One of those scenarios, naturally, was a war with Iran (one of the world’s top oil exporting countries).

A little known conclusion of that scenario analysis was that a war with Iran greatly increased when deep sanctions were applied.

Why?  Simply:

  1. Sanctions disconnect the Iranians from the global economy which soften the impact of a war with them.
  2. Sanctions also accelerate societal and economic decay in Iran, making it highly likely that it would start a conflict.

The reason I’m bringing this up, is that these deep sanctions are now being put in place.

In particular, the EU is about to start a boycott Iranian oil and the Chinese are already looking for alternatives.

This means one thing:  our governments have radically increased the probability of a war with Iran.

Oh joy.

So, what does a war with Iran mean?  I could spend hours on this analysis, but most of that really would not matter to you.  What does matter is that a war with Iran will ripple through the world as energy prices zoom and economies already on the brink crump. More…

Books: Top 5 characters I’d like to punch in the face…

In Around the web on January 25, 2012 at 6:00 am

From greengeekgirl
Insatiable Booksluts

1. Albert Johnson from The Color Purple

If you’ve never seen or read The Color Purple–well, for one thing, it’s just an excellent book and film, you really should experience it. But for those who might need an explanation of why I would deck Mr. Johnson, the story centers around a young girl, Celie, and her supposedly more attractive sister, Nettie. Mr. Johnson, being from that era when creepy old dudes look for wives who have barely hit puberty, wants to take Nettie for a wife, but “settles” for Celie. He treats Celie like total shit, sends Nettie away and hides her letters so Celie thinks she’s dead or something, and constantly cheats on Celie (but it’s not cheating if a man does it, amirite Albert?) openly with a singer named Shug Avery. Not only that, but he beats Celie and emotionally abuses her while she takes care of his children and his house. He won’t even let her learn to read; she has to do it on the sly. He’s a world-class dick. As a woman from a bygone (good riddance) era, Celie has no recourse for a long time but to shut up and take it.

Complete article here
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Why the rich bash the poor…

In Around the web on January 24, 2012 at 6:07 am

From SHARON ASTYK

Well, as the republican donnybrooks narrow down, the enemy becomes evident – the American poor. Newt Gingrich particularly dislikes poor folk, especially poor children, because after all, if they were good people they wouldn’t be poor, they’d be working 50 hours a week in some nice sweatshop!

Celeste Monforton at The Pump Handle has a nice post on the realities of the food stamp recipients Newt claims are lazy buggers.

“And we think unconditional efforts by the best food stamp president in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future of this country.”

It is absolutely true that there are more food stamp recipients as a percentage of the population than ever in history – and that that was also true during the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency. President Obama’s claim that this is due to the recession is only partly right – the reality is that as fossil energies, health care and housing costs have risen, most households have a smaller and smaller portion of their income to devote to discretionary expenses like food – and oddly, food as become functionally discretionary for many people, I’m not just being facetious, although I wish I was.

For most people with fixed costs for transportation, medications and high housing and associated costs, food is one of the few things you can cut back on – which means that the end of the month looks very different than the beginning. The incredible draw on food pantries, food stamps and soup kitchens isn’t about dependency – or at least dependency on social programs. It is about another kind of dependency, on an economic system that is slowly chewing people up and spitting them out.

It is disturbing that 1 in 7 Americans will soon probably depend on food stamps and 1 in 3 children. As I have argued before that represents a fundamental shift in our culture – we can no longer afford to eat well even on the cheapest food in the world, and the US has now functionally joined other nations that have to subsidize food for its people in order to ensure that they eat. This is a huge fundamental shift – but we also know what happens when we don’t subsidize food for the hungry poor in any nation. The kids suffer, the elderly suffer and those with the strength and the anger riot.

The reason so many people (and you can see this in the comments at the Pump Handle) get so angry about recipients of any kind of aid is that we are so good at setting people against one another, particularly the weakest and most desperate people – so the barely getting by working poor hate the unemployed poor – and we feed on this just as we do on our government subsidized milk.

Depending on food subsidies should not be a source of shame as the last three presidents have moved towards making them normative, and our whole culture has worked to making sure that food came second to everything else. What should be more troubling is asking why we are spending so much More…

We need a maximum wage: High pay to the executive class is both counterproductive and unnecessary…

In Around the web on January 24, 2012 at 5:32 am

From MONBIOT
“Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.”
The Guardian

The Great Pay Robbery

The successful bank robber no longer covers his face and leaps over the counter with a sawn-off shotgun. He arrives in a chauffeur-driven car, glides into the lift then saunters into an office at the top of the building. No one stops him. No one, even when the scale of the heist is revealed, issues a warrant for his arrest. The modern robber obtains prior approval from the institution he is fleecing.

The income of corporate executives, which the business secretary Vince Cable has just failed to address, is a form of institutionalised theft, arranged by a kleptocratic class for the benefit of its members. The wealth which was once spread more evenly among the staff of a company, or distributed as lower prices or higher taxes, is now siphoned off by people who have neither earned nor generated it.

Over the past ten years, chief executives’ pay has risen nine times faster than that of the median earner. Some bosses (British Gas, Xstrata and Barclays for example) are now being paid over 1000 times the national median wage. The share of national income captured by the top 0.1% rose from 1.3% in 1979 to 6.5% by 2007.

These rewards bear no relationship to risk. The bosses of big companies, though they call themselves risk-takers, are 13 times less likely to be sacked than the lowest paid workers. Even if they lose their jobs and never work again, they will have invested so much and secured such generous pensions and severance packages that they’ll live in luxury for the rest of their lives. The risks are carried by other people.

The problem of executive pay is characterised by Cable and many others as a gap between reward and performance. But it runs deeper than that, for three reasons.

As the writer Dan Pink has shown, high pay actually reduces performance. Material rewards incentivise simple mechanistic jobs, such as working on an assembly line. But they lead to the poorer execution of tasks which require problem solving and cognitive skills. As studies for the US Federal Reserve and other such bolsheviks show, cash incentives narrow people’s focus and restrict the range of their thinking. By contrast, intrinsic motivators — such as a sense of autonomy, of enhancing your skills and pursuing a higher purpose — tend to improve performance.

Even the 0.1% concede that money is not what drives them. Bernie Ecclestone says “I doubt if any successful business person works for money … money is a by-product of success. It’s not the main aim.” Jeroen van der Veer, formerly the chief executive of Shell, recalls, “if I had been paid 50 per cent more, I would not have done it better. If I had been paid 50 per cent less, then I would not have done it worse”. High pay is both counterproductive and unnecessary…

Original article with references here
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500 Referees to ‘Blow the Whistle’ today on Big Oil’s Corruption of Congress in Washington…

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on January 24, 2012 at 5:00 am

From Real Time with Bill Maher: Bill Moyers discusses the importance of people power and popular support to help enable the President to do the right thing using Bill McKibben and Occupy Movement, as it relates to Obama not allowing the Keystone pipeline for now, as an example.

Chris Hedges, suing Obama, speaks to Occupy Movement…
~
500 Referees to  “Blow the Whistle” on Big Oil’s Corruption of Congress

Keystone XL pipeline protesters will go on the offensive this Tuesday with a rally on Capitol Hill featuring 500 people dressed as referees “blowing the whistle” on fossil fuel funded corruption in Congress.

Who: 500 referees, a marching band, Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Steve Cohen, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, Energy Action Coalition Environmental Justice Director Lili Molina, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, and peace and justice advocate Rev. Graylan Hagler.

What: 500 referees blowing whistles, throwing penalty flags, and holding signs that call out individual members of Congress for the amount of money they have received from the fossil fuel industry. After the event on Capitol Hill, protesters will march to the American Petroleum Institute to protest the industry front group.

Where: West Lawn, US Capitol Building

When: 12:00 – 2:00 PM, Tuesday, Jan 24

Why: Despite President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL permit, Speaker Boehner and certain members of Congress continue to push the pipeline, in large part because of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions they’ve received from Big Oil. This sort of bribery wouldn’t be allowed at the Super Bowl – let alone a high school football game – and it shouldn’t be allowed in our democracy. One day before Congress holds new hearings on Keystone XL (and two weeks before the Super Bowl), protesters will “blow the whistle” on this fossil fuel funded corruption and use Keystone XL to hold politicians accountable for their ties to Big Oil.
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National Call to Action Made by the Portland General Assembly – January 1st, 2012

Occupy Portland calls for a national day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations.  We are rejecting More…

Things I learned from opening a book store…

In Around the web on January 23, 2012 at 6:16 am


From jlsathre
Open Salon

1.  People are getting rid of bookshelves.  Treat the money you budgeted for shelving as found money.  Go to garage sales and cruise the curbs.

2.  While you’re drafting that business plan, cut your projected profits in half.  People are getting rid of bookshelves.

3.  If someone comes in and asks where to find the historical fiction, they’re not looking for classics, they want the romance section.

4.  If someone comes in and says they read a little of everything, they also want the romance section.

5. If someone comes in and asks for a recommendation and you ask for the name of a book that they liked and they can’t think of one, the person is not really a reader.  Recommend Nicholas Sparks.

6.  Kids will stop by your store on their way home from school if you have a free bucket of kids books.  If you also give out free gum, they’ll come every day and start bringing their friends.

7.  If you put free books outside, cookbooks will be gone in the first hour and other non-fiction books will sit there for weeks.  Except in warm weather when people are having garage sales.  Then someone will back their car up and take everything, including your baskets.

8.  If you put free books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they’re really free, no matter how many signs you put out .  Someone else will walk in and ask if everything in the store is free.

9.  No one buys  self help books in a store where there’s a high likelihood of  personal interaction when paying.  Don’t waste the shelf space, put them in the free baskets.

10.  This is also true of sex manuals.  The only ones who show an interest in these in a small store are the gum chewing kids, who will find them no matter how well you hide them.

11.  Under no circumstances should you put the sex manuals in the free baskets.  Parents will show up.

12.  People buying books don’t write bad checks.  No need for ID’s. They do regularly show up having raided the change jar.

13.  If you have a bookstore that shares a parking lot with a beauty shop that caters to an older clientele, the cars parked in your lot will always be pulled in at an angle even though it’s not angle parking.

14.  More people want to sell books than buy them, which means your initial concerns were wrong.  You will have no trouble getting books, the problem is selling them.  Plus a shortage of storage space More…

Occupy San Francisco takes the fight to local banks in ambitious next step for movement…

In Around the web on January 23, 2012 at 6:12 am

From GARY KAMIYA
Salon

… 198 different methods of nonviolent action. Camping out is one tactic. We still have 197 more tactics to go through, and another 500 to create.

Act II of the Occupy Wall Street movement, San Francisco version, kicked off on a rainy, blustery Friday in the heart of the city’s financial district. Targeting specific corporations like Wells Fargo and Bank of America and emphasizing real, tangible issues like home foreclosures, affordable health care and education as well as broader ones like the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, several hundred protesters – the exact number was impossible to estimate – fanned out across the city, snarling traffic, getting arrested, holding sidewalk teach-ins, and generally serving notice that after its brief winter hibernation, the Occupy movement was back and kicking.

Occupy’s first act, the Tent Phase, ended in early December, when city authorities raided its urban camp at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building. But even before the tents were removed, it had become clear that the movement needed both to develop new tactics and deepen its strategic vision.

“After the raid, when our attention was no longer focused on [the encampment], people turned back to their neighborhoods and their campuses,” said David Solnit, who is part of a direct action working group associated with Occupy SF. “We started Occupy Bernal Heights [a multi-ethnic, mixed-income neighborhood on the edge of the Mission District], and we had 65 people at the first meeting. We went door to door meeting folks facing foreclosures. We got meetings with mid-level people at Wells Fargo Bank.”

Solnit – who is the brother of San Francisco writer Rebecca Solnit – said that OccupySF Housing, a housing-related spinoff of the movement, had held marches in four neighborhoods and succeeded in saving four homes from foreclosure.

“We’re more diversified now, but more powerful than when all our eggs were in one basket,” Solnit said. “Gene Sharp came up with 198 different methods of nonviolent action. Camping out is one tactic. We still have 197 more tactics to go through, and another 500 to create.”

At 6:20 a.m., in pitch darkness, with a miserable rain pelting down in front of the enormous 52-story monolith of 555 California, it seemed like a good idea for Occupy to come up with a new tactic immediately. More…

Bay Area Solutions Guides: chickens, greywater, rainwater harvesting …

In Around the web on January 23, 2012 at 5:54 am

From BAY LOCALIZE (San Francisco Bay Area, California)
(January 2012)

Our Mission

We inspire and support Bay Area residents in building equitable, resilient communities. We confront the challenges of climate instability, rising energy costs, and recession by boosting our region’s capacity to provide for everyone’s needs, sustainably and equitably. We achieve this by equipping local leaders with flexible tools, models, and policies that strengthen their communities.

Why local? Why now?

Humanity is at a turning point. We’re using so much of the Earth’s resources that we’re endangering the very life-support systems upon which we all depend. At the same time, too many people in our communities are going without the basics to lead healthy lives. The task of our generation is to learn to live happily on fewer resources, to distribute these resources equitably, and to make our communities resilient enough to withstand the bumps in the road along the way.

The goal is clear. Reaching it means coming to terms with climate change, our addiction to oil, and deep social inequalities. Bay Localize creates innovative solutions for communities to meet basic needs in ways that harness local resources creatively, sustainably, and equitably. We catalyze change at the community level by providing tools to chart a path to resilience, and ramping up good models to scale through local policy change. Bay Localize focuses our work where we live in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, but our tools and models are replicated throughout the country and the world.

Bay Localize believes that vibrant local economies and healthy communities are the answer to our growing challenges. They are the best safeguard against global insecurity, an essential part of achieving social equity, and a vital way to enrich our day-to-day lives. Join Bay Localize in creating a hopeful and vibrant future for us all.

With the growing interest in urban agriculture, greywater, rainwater catchment and permaculture solutions, we have a tremendous opportunity to help meet the needs of our communities and boost our local economy. Explore the following Solutions Series Guides to help you get started on making a real difference in your household and neighborhood!

Chicken Coops
Greywater Systems
Rainwater Harvesting
Rooftop Gardens
Urban Farming and Gardening
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Misery Loves Company: Top 10 Depression Films…

In Around the web on January 22, 2012 at 5:15 am

From DENNIS HARTLEY
Hullabaloo

I’ve sure been hearing the “D” word an awful lot lately. They say that in times of severe economic downturn, people crave pure escapism at the movies. I say, screw that. I wanna revel in economic downturn, ‘cos there’s something else “they” say as well: Misery loves company. So, with that in mind, and in the spirit of a little cinematic aversion therapy, here’s my Top 10 Great Depression Movies. Study them well, because there’s yet one more thing that “they say”: Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.

Berlin Alexanderplatz- When you think of the Great Depression in terms of film and literature, it tends to vibe America-centric in the mind’s eye. In reality, the economic downturn between the great wars was a global phenomenon (not unlike our current situation); things were literally “tough all over”. You could say that Germany had a jumpstart on the depression (economically speaking, everything below the waist was kaput by the mid 1920s). In October of 1929 (interesting historical timing), Alfred Doblin’s epic novel Berlin Alexanderplatz: The Story Of Franz Biberkopf was published, then adapted into a film in 1931 directed by Phil Jutzi. It wasn’t until nearly 50 years later that the ultimate film version would appear as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15 hour opus. It’s nearly impossible to encapsulate this spiritually exhausting viewing experience in just a few lines; I’ll just say that it is (by turns) the most outrageous, shocking, transcendent, boring, awe-inspiring, maddening and soul-scorching film I’ve ever hated myself for loving so much.

Bonnie and Clyde- The gangster movie meets the art film in this 1967 groundbreaker from director Arthur Penn. There is much more to this influential masterpiece than just the oft-mentioned operatic crescendo of violent death in the closing frames; particularly of note was the ingenious way that its attractive antiheroes were posited to directly appeal to the rebellious counterculture zeitgeist of the time, even though the film was ostensibly a “nostalgia piece”. Our better instincts may tell us that the real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were nowhere near as charismatic (or physically beautiful) as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, but we don’t really care, do we? (Is it getting warm in here? Woof!)

Bound for Glory-There’s only one man to whom Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan More…

Playing for keeps…

In Around the web on January 21, 2012 at 5:03 am

From DERRICK JENSEN
OrionMagazine.org

People who read my work often say, “Okay, so it’s clear you don’t like this culture, but what do you want to replace it?” The answer is that I don’t want any one culture to replace this culture. I want ten thousand cultures to replace this culture, each one arising organically from its own place. That’s how humans inhabited the planet (or, more precisely, their landbases, since each group inhabited a place, and not the whole world, which is precisely the point), before this culture set about reducing all cultures to one.

I live on Tolowa (Indian) land. Prior to the arrival of the dominant culture, the Tolowa lived here for 12,500 years, if you believe the myths of science. If you believe the myths of the Tolowa, they lived here since the beginning of time. This story may sound familiar, but its significance has, thus far, been lost on the dominant culture, so it bears repeating: when the first settlers arrived here maybe 180 years ago, the place was a paradise. Salmon ran in runs so thick you couldn’t see the bottoms of rivers, so thick people were afraid to put their boats in for fear they would capsize, so thick they would keep people awake at night with the slapping of their tails against the water, so thick you could hear the runs for miles before you could see them. Whales were commonplace in the nearby ocean. Forests were thick with frogs, newts, salamanders, birds, elk, bears. And of course huge ancient redwood trees.

Now I count myself blessed when I see two salmon in what we today call Mill Creek. Another Tolowa staple, Pacific lampreys, are in bad shape. Just three years ago you could not hold a human conversation outside at night in the spring, and now I hear maybe five or six frogs at night. More…

Our time to come alive…

In Mendo Island Transition on January 21, 2012 at 4:50 am

From DIANNE MONROE
Transition Voice

This is an amazing time to be alive!

“Yeah, right,” my inner cynic says, “crumbling economy, peak oil, peak everything, melting ice caps, mass extinctions…”

The list goes on and on, all woven together, I remind my cynic within, by the fact that we’re living in a time when the old is crumbling, which is when there’s the greatest opportunity to create something new.

And that is an amazing time to be alive!

If you’re alive today, you’re part of this Great Unraveling/ Great Turning, or whatever we choose to call it. If, like me, you’re middle aged or beyond, we’ve lived through the apex of a global empire now passed irrevocably into decline.

When exactly that point of turning was passed is the topic of many discussions. I’m not sure how important it is to know the precise point. We know that something big happened on the way down with the economic crisis of 2008, even if the mainstream economic pundits keep assuring us that prosperity is just around the corner.

We’re experiencing this great crumbling from within, and that’s a very good (if at times painful) thing. In times of crumbling, when the old way of being and doing can no longer hold itself, can no longer hold us in its grip, there’s greater fluidity, a greater opening. In times like these even small actions can reverberate widely into the future.

That makes it an amazing time to be alive.

The gift

Think about all the humans that have ever lived. They lived through times of joy and plenty, through wars, famines, natural disasters. They lived through the rise and crumbling of empires. More…

Dreams from endangered cultures…

In Around the web on January 21, 2012 at 4:47 am

From WADE DAVIS
National Geographic
Ted Talks video here

You know, one of the intense pleasures of travel and one of the delights of ethnographic research is the opportunity to live amongst those who have not forgotten the old ways, who still feel their past in the wind, touch it in stones polished by rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants. Just to know that Jaguar shamans still journey beyond the Milky Way, or the myths of the Inuit elders still resonate with meaning, or that in the Himalaya, the Buddhists still pursue the breath of the Dharma, is to really remember the central revelation of anthropology, and that is the idea that the world in which we live does not exist in some absolute sense, but is just one model of reality, the consequence of one particular set of adaptive choices that our lineage made, albeit successfully, many generations ago.

And of course, we all share the same adaptive imperatives. We’re all born. We all bring our children into the world. We go through initiation rites. We have to deal with the inexorable separation of death, so it shouldn’t surprise us that we all sing, we all dance, we all have art.

But what’s interesting is the unique cadence of the song, the rhythm of the dance in every culture. And whether it is the Penan in the forests of Borneo, or the Voodoo acolytes in Haiti, or the warriors in the Kaisut desert of Northern Kenya, the Curandero in the mountains of the Andes, or a caravanserai in the middle of the Sahara — this is incidentally the fellow that I traveled into the desert with a month ago — or indeed a yak herder in the slopes of Qomolangma, Everest, the goddess mother of the world.

All of these peoples teach us that there are other ways of being, other ways of thinking, other ways of orienting yourself in the Earth. And this is an idea, if you think about it, can only fill you with hope. Now, together the myriad cultures of the world make up a web of spiritual life and cultural life that envelops the planet, and is as important to the well-being of the planet as indeed is the biological web of life that you know as a biosphere. And you might think of this cultural web of life as being an ethnosphere, and you might define the ethnosphere as being the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. More…

The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act

In !ACTION CENTER! on January 20, 2012 at 6:33 am

From RONNIE CUMMINGS
Organic Consumers Union

We are on the road to victory in California with coalition members, strategic allies, and key donors increasing their support all the time. We now have over 50 environmental, alternative health, and sustainable food organizations and businesses advocating for our cause. But, most importantly, we have over 1,500 dedicated CA volunteers trained and ready to hit the streets when signature gathering begins in February. You can go here to volunteer by gathering petition signatures in California.

This November 2012 California Ballot Initiative, which will require foods
sold in California retail outlets to be labeled as such, may be the most important GMO battle of all time. A win in California will mean radical changes to food labels everywhere. Producers will either have to change the way they market Frankenfoods or else stop using GMOs altogether. We think we can reverse the biotech strangle-hold on our food system in our lifetimes.

You don’t have to live in California to donate to this historic ballot initiative.

Consumers everywhere have a right to know what’s in the food we buy and eat and feed our children, just as we have the right to know how many calories are in the food we buy, or whether food comes from other countries like Mexico or China. In the past, we’ve successfully fought for labels telling us the country of origin of products, as well as whether foods have been irradiated. Now it’s time to stand up for our right to know which foods are laced with GMOs.

Efforts to enact labeling laws in Congress and in other state legislatures have been blocked by big food and chemical company lobbyists. The California Ballot Initiative will take the issue directly to the people. For more information about the initiative visit California Right To Know and the Organic Consumers Fund.
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Todd Walton: Crazy Memory

In Todd Walton on January 20, 2012 at 6:18 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” Aldous Huxley

I used to know a loquacious drunk who punctuated his pontifications with the disclaimer, “Of course, memories are, at best, only fair approximations of what actually happened, so please don’t quote me.” At least I think that’s what he said. And I took his disclaimer to mean that his memory was not so sharp, whereas my own recollections were essentially photographic and therefore highly accurate. Silly me.

A few nights ago we watched the movie Bedazzled (the original work of genius, not the execrable remake) created by and starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, with a stirring cameo by the preternatural Raquel Welch, and we laughed so hard at some of the scenes I felt five years younger at movie’s end. I hadn’t seen Bedazzled in thirty years and feared the sarcastic romp might not stand the test of time, but it did with ease. However, what did not stand the test of time were my memories of favorite scenes from the film, for they were, as the drunk foresaw, only approximations of the actual scenes.

Indeed, I was crestfallen that my most favorite scene (as I remembered it) only barely resembled the actual scene in the film. Which scene? The one in which Raquel Welch brings Dudley Moore breakfast in bed. In my misremembered version, Raquel’s seduction of the hapless Moore lasts a good ten minutes and features the nearly naked Raquel erotically enunciating each syllable of the expression, “hot buttered buns” as part of an excruciatingly slow build to an orgasmic finish; when in actuality Raquel spat that delectable phrase rapid fire in the midst of a badly blurted speech prelude to seductus interruptus. More…

Bash the Beast…

In Around the web on January 20, 2012 at 5:00 am

From orgtheory.net

A long time ago, in graduate school, my television was stolen and it changed my life. I now had lots of free time. I never understood on a gut level what I was missing until my tv was gone. There was a whole world beyond my living room low rent studio apartment. Jacob Levy once told me during a party, “Fabio, if you don’t watch tv, you had better be very well read.” Indeed, fair ranger, I am now quite well read.

I learned a second lesson. Most television is garbage. Once you unplug and then start watching later, you are immediately confronted with this truth. Ever since childhood, I was accustomed to watching whatever came on. Sure, I had preferences. Some shows are better than others, but I was letting someone throw rubbish at my face every night for hours at a time. For free!

Later, I realized that the issue wasn’t drama or comedy. Ultimately, there’s no harm in having an abnormally thorough knowledge of the Jeffersons and its catchy theme song. There real issue is television news. As a social scientist in training, I began to believe that I am seeking the truth about social life. It’s my calling. It is what I have decided to dedicate my life to at the expense of more remunerative careers. Therefore, it is unethical for me to consume or support cultural products that are misleading depictions on the social world.

You don’t need to be a die hard Chomskian who believes that the media is a mere tool of corporate and state interests, although that does happen to fair degree. Rather, you need to compare social science 101 to what happens on the news.

Example 1: Local television news is driven by “if it bleeds, it leads.” That gives the impression that crime is ubiquitous. Instead, much evidence shows a long term decrease in criminal violence in Western society. Steven Pinker’s recent book on violence merely documents what historical criminologists have known for a while. More…

Small scale organic farmers our only hope…

In Around the web on January 19, 2012 at 5:27 am

From ROBIN BROAD and JOHN CAVANAGH
Yes! Magazine 

There is battle raging across the world over who can better feed its people: small-scale farmers practicing sustainable agriculture, or giant agribusinesses using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

It was small-scale organic farmers growing rice for themselves and local markets in the Philippines who first convinced us that they could feed both their communities and their country. Part of what convinced us was simple economics: These farmers demonstrated substantial immediate savings from eliminating chemical inputs while, within a few harvests—if not immediately—their yields were close to or above their previous harvests. From these farmers, we also learned of the health and environmental benefits from this shift.

Moving up from what we learned in the Philippines to examine other countries, we have concluded that small-scale farmers practicing different kinds of what is now called agroecology can feed the world. Agroecology extends the organic label to a broader category of ecosystem-friendly, locally adapted agricultural systems, including agro-forestry and techniques like crop rotation, topsoil management, and watershed restoration. (For more details on our research and conclusions, check out our “Can Danilo Atilano Feed the World?” in the current Earth Island Journal, the magazine of the California-based Earth Island Institute.)

Eager to learn more and network with others from across the globe, Robin accepted an invitation from the Transnational Institute and the International Institute of Social Studies to speak about our Philippine research at a global conference in the Netherlands on alternative approaches to food and hunger.

She came away even more convinced that small-scale farmers are our only hope. She also came away excited to have met an impressive range of experts on the subject, including a bold champion for small-scale farmers: More…

Walking away…

In Around the web on January 19, 2012 at 4:55 am

From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
The Archdruid Report

Last week’s Archdruid Report post, despite its wry comparison of industrial civilization’s current predicament with the plots and settings of pulp fantasy fiction, had a serious point. Say what you will about the failings of cheap fantasy novels—and there’s plenty to be said on that subject, no question—they consistently have something that most of the allegedly more serious attempts to make sense of our world usually lack: the capacity to envision truly profound change.

That may seem like an odd claim, given the extent to which contemporary industrial society preens itself on its openness to change and novelty. Still, it’s one of the most curious and least discussed features of that very openness that the only kinds of change and novelty to which it applies amount to, basically, more of the same thing we’ve already got. A consumer in a modern industrial society is free to choose any of a dizzying range of variations on a suffocatingly narrow range of basic options—and that’s equally true whether we are talking about products, politics, or lifestyles.

I suppose the automobile is the most obvious example, but it has dimensions not always recognized and these bear a closer look. To begin with, the vast majority of cars for sale these days are simply ringing changes on a suite of technologies that was introduced in the late 19th century and hit maturity close to fifty years ago. That’s as true of electric and hybrid cars, by the way, as it is of the usual kind—the hype surrounding the so-called “hybrid revolution” conveniently fails to mention that the same system has been used for more than sixty years in diesel-electric locomotives, and cars powered by electricity were common on American roads before the Big Three auto firms succeeded in getting a stranglehold on the industry during the last Great Depression. Steam-powered cars were also to be had back then—the Stanley Steamer was a famous brand; try finding one now.

What variations can be found nowadays are almost entirely a matter of style rather than substance, and this becomes even more evident when it’s recognized that the auto is simply one way More…

When the people rise up…

In Around the web, Knuckle Dragger Alert on January 18, 2012 at 5:35 am

From MARY BOTTARI
OurFuture.org

1 Million Petition for the Recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

The petition drive to recall and remove Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has surpassed all expectations, collecting one million signatures in just 60 days. The signatures represent the largest recall effort in the history of the United States.

Petitioners were only required to collect 540,000 by law. They far exceeded this number, making a successful legal challenge of the recall highly unlikely. Volunteers also gathered 845,000 signatures to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and additional signatures to recall four of the state senators who voted for Walker’s collective bargaining bill in March 2011, creating a mountain of paper estimated to weigh over one ton.

As for Walker, he attended a New York fundraiser hosted by no less than Hank Greenberg, the former CEO of American International Group, according to Mother Jones.

Wisconsin Recall Will Make History

The numbers coming out of Wisconsin are stunning. Of the 19 states that permit the recall of governors, Wisconsin has one of the highest thresholds. For governors (and legislators), recall organizers must gather signatures equaling 25 percent of the turnout in the previous election for the office. That means organizers faced the daunting task of collecting 540,000. To avoid losing the election through signature challenges, signature collectors wanted a “cushion” of additional signatures, so they set a goal of 720,000 signatures. They surpassed even that goal.

When California governor Gray Davis was recalled in 2003, residents collected 1.6 million signatures out of 21.1 million eligible voters or approximately 7.6 percent. In Wisconsin, 25,000 trained volunteers had 60 days to collect approximately 1 million signatures from 4.37 million eligible voters… Original article here
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Can a Godless Farmer be a Good Steward of the Soil?

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on January 18, 2012 at 4:01 am

From GENE LOGSDON

There is a growing realization in organized religion that something is awry in our industrial food delivery system. Churches are actively urging their members to become more involved directly in local and family gardening and farming. This is great news for those of us who have been fighting this battle for a long time. Organized religion can be a very powerful force in getting society’s feet back on the ground (literally) and we welcome all the help we can get.

But I am not sure how this is going to turn out. Hardly a week goes by now that someone doesn’t send me a book about church involvement in food production or I am not invited by a member of the clergy or a professor at a Christian college to give a talk, which pleases me deeply. But it also causes me a problem. I hardly qualify as a Christian anymore. I don’t know what I am. Sometimes I lean toward Buddhism but then I read a little more in that direction and don’t much agree with that either. I sort of envy Christians and Muslims because they believe in something so fantastically wonderful as an eternal life of utter bliss. I’ve tried to believe. Just can’t. Sorry.  So anyway when I am asked to give a talk about farming at a private religious college or, horrors, in a church, I get nervous. If the inviters knew that I was a godless contrarian, would they really want me to speak? America is a place where “godless” suggests “sinner” or certainly not saint. So I retreat into hypocrisy, giving my talk while cagily hedging my words so that I do not sound too heretical or hypocritical.

Last week when a professor of religion at a private college wanted me to give a talk, I decided it was time to be honest. I told him he might not like what I would say especially about how religious institutions so often glorify rich industrial farmers who practice destructive farming but who give generously to the churches. I told him I was sort of a godless heathen. Did that bother him?

Here was his reply, verbatim: “I am not offended one bit by the approach you are outlining in your email. I am more offended by the vast majority of religious folk who are gleefully ignorant of how their behavior affects the environment and the others around them More…

New tool reveals country’s most polluted places: How close do you live?

In Around the web on January 17, 2012 at 6:04 am

From ALTERNET

Thanks to a new tool from the EPA, you can see how close you live to the country’s biggest polluters.

Looking for some awkward synergy? The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a comprehensive database of America’s greatest greenhouse gas creators. It interactively indexes the 6,700 power plants and other facilities responsible for 80 percent of U.S. emissions, in an accessible online resource that gives interested citizens the ability not only to monitor their local and national pollution, but also to reproduce data-specific graphs and charts to fire off to colleagues and friends on social networks.

The tool debuted the day after President Obama made his first-ever visit to the EPA, a much less impressive debut. Fueled by billions of tons of the greenhouse gases the EPA’s GHG Reporting Program data publication tool dutifully tracks, global warming has recently unleashed an unseasonal hellscape on the U.S., with temperatures scorching some regions 40 degrees above normal. But at least Obama came with his environmental game-face on.

“We don’t have to choose between dirty air and dirty water or a growing economy,” President Obama stumped to a crowd of 800 employees gathered at the EPA’s Washington headquarters. “We can make sure that we are doing right by our environment and in fact putting people back to work all across America. When I hear folks grumbling about environmental policy, you almost want to do a Back to the Future reminder of what happened when we didn’t have a strong EPA. You have a president who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way.”

He may joke about time travel, but late last year it was the Sierra Club and many others — likely including some of those EPA employees he addressed for the first time — who wondered aloud whether America had slipstreamed straight back to the Bush regime after President Obama halted EPA regulation of smog and air pollution…Original article here
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Contraction…

In Around the web on January 17, 2012 at 6:00 am

From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
oftwominds.com

For the past 67 years, Americans have been conditioned to expect expansion and more of everything: more income, more stuff, more opportunity, more benefits, more medical care, more government entitlements, and so on.

As a result, Americans have habituated to permanent expansion. The concept that contraction–less of everything–is the new normal simply doesn’t register; it is rejected, denied, or decried as a great tragedy. The notion that it is simply reality does not compute with a populace habituated to permanent “growth” that is at worst interrupted by brief recessions.

U.S. politicians have learned that Soaring Rhetoric (TM) about “morning in America,” “the New Frontier,” “hope” and other ritualistic appeals to permanent expansion win elections, while accurate descriptions of reality lose elections.

The voting public’s demand for “permanent good news” promising permanent expansion has spawned a feedback loop of officially sanctioned manipulated statistics and media spin (a.k.a. propaganda) that expands with every administration, even as the real economy visibly weakens. Though the Obama Administration has perfected the techniques of presenting “permanent good news,” the divergence of the real economy and the official “story” that “we’ve returned to permanent expansion” is widening.

The real story is the “expansion” has cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars in new debt and trillions of dollars of backstops, shadow purchases and money-printing by the Federal Reserve. Roughly speaking, $6 trillion in additional Federal borrowing has been blown to simply keep the Status Quo from imploding, and around $13 trillion in guarantees, backstops, asset purchases, and losses made good have been issued to keep the Status Quo’s financial sector afloat and in charge.

By any credible, unmanipulated measure, for example, the number of people with fulltime employment More…

Peak Walmart

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on January 16, 2012 at 5:58 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

To the Editors (AVA, UDJ), Ukiah City Council, Ukiah City Management

For every 2 jobs Walmart creates it destroys 3 (Institute of Local Self-Reliance)… are yours and mine next? Walmart is so desperate to grab every last piece of retail sales it can that, even as it tries to force a huge expansion of its local store on our community, it is downsizing its new stores into “express size” units to kill off even more downtown merchants in urban areas across the US.

A secret behind Wal-Mart’s rapid expansion in the United States has been its extensive use of public money. This includes more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country. In addition, taxpayers indirectly subsidize the company by paying the healthcare costs of Wal-Mart employees who don’t receive coverage on the job and instead turn to public programs such as Medicaid (walmartsubsidywatch.org).

Not only will we lose many jobs and small businesses when Walmart expands its Ukiah store into a gigantic grocery market featuring extremely cheap “organic” produce and meats from China, but even more will be lost as it eventually contracts. Contracts? The Wall Street Journal reports: “Walmart’s U.S. business… has reported declining sales at stores open at least a year for two consecutive years.”

So once Walmart, and the looming Costco store, have killed off their local competition… our supermarkets, our co-op, our family farmers and farmers markets, our downtown family-owned shops… and destroyed our local community networks of economic exchange, it will face its own demise as Peak Oil’s inevitable rising energy costs destroy the big box business model… and the ship loads of containers from China grind to a halt.

What then?
~~

Farmers talk about the books that inspire them…

In Around the web, Books on January 16, 2012 at 5:30 am

From CYNTHIA SALAYSAY
Civil Eats

Scores of books depict farms as little slices of heaven on earth, where venison is smoked and butter is churned, and things seem perfect. But today’s farmers are far from unrealistic dreamers, longing for a Little House on the Prairie-esque pastoral ideal. They’re socially conscious doers. And when asked about books that inspire them, they cite writings that are practical, at times poetic, and that beckon them to rescue the land.

Here are some of the books that farmers are reading and getting inspiration from today.

The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry. “I had spent  seven or so years of my life as a ‘punk’ growing up in the the central NJ suburbs of NYC, disgruntled and disillusioned and looking for real meaning and ways to be in the world, and [Berry] was someone seemingly so disgruntled and disillusioned, yet incredibly intelligent and coherent, with a posited solution of sorts…. Challenges [were] laid forth to take full responsibility for our lives and to truly push against what our culture is feeding us, to move towards a society built around community, equality, a new free culture, and a cooperative economy in which we all work satisfying jobs in support of each other; ideals I cannot imagine any human being would deface. Farming could embrace these challenges and reconnect us with the land and each other like no other, I was convinced.” — Anthony Mecca, Great Song Farm

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. “I read The Good Earth when I was a child, I think I was ten or eleven. I read it again in my 20s, and again in my 30s…. It’s an inspiring novel about building a dream, perseverance. I think the best line is at the end of the novel when it says, ‘without land, you’re nothing.’ It’s a quote my father and mother used to repeat to us kids all the time. So that book always meant something for many reasons.” — Alexis Koefoed, Soul Food Farm

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. “I read it as a freshman in college. This was kind of a critical treatise More…

A Time to Break Silence…

In Around the web on January 16, 2012 at 5:00 am

From REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING
4 April 1967

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King's speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all]

http://www.ssc.msu.edu/~sw/mlk/brkslnc.htm


I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well More…

Fukushima — Pacific Ocean radiation levels up 45 million times…

In Around the web on January 15, 2012 at 6:57 am

From ALEX ROSLIN
Montreal Gazette
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

Evidence has emerged that the impacts of the disaster on the Pacific Ocean are worse than expected

After the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, authorities in Canada said people living here were safe and faced no health risks from the fallout from Fukushima.

They said most of the radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant would fall into the ocean, where it would be diluted and not pose any danger.

Dr. Dale Dewar wasn’t convinced. Dewar, a family physician in Wynyard, Sask., doesn’t eat a lot of seafood herself, but when her grandchildren come to visit, she carefully checks seafood labels.

She wants to make sure she isn’t serving them anything that might come from the western Pacific Ocean.

Dewar, the executive director of Physicians for Global Survival, a Canadian anti-nuclear group, says the Canadian government has downplayed the radiation risks from Fukushima and is doing little to monitor them.

“We suspect we’re going to see more cancers, decreased fetal viability, decreased fertility, increased metabolic defects – and we expect them to be generational,” she said.

And evidence has emerged that the impacts of the disaster on the Pacific Ocean are worse than expected.

Since a tsunami and earthquake destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last March, radioactive cesium has consistently been found in 60 to 80 per cent of Japanese fishing catches each month tested by Japan’s Fisheries Agency.

In November, 65 per cent of the catches tested positive for cesium (a radioactive material created by nuclear reactors), according to a Gazette analysis of data on the fisheries agency’s website. More…

This culture is @†‰Ø the planet…

In Around the web on January 14, 2012 at 4:36 am

From DERRICK JENSEN
Orion Magazine

What we don’t say and why we don’t say it

This culture is @†‰Ø the planet. The latest studies show that global warming will be far #+?þ than anyone has imagined, and could easily lead to an increase of #-+^)@ Fahrenheit by 2100, which would effectively spell the ?*#-+@* of life on Earth. Yet our response—including the response by most of the #/?*#-+^)!@* community—is utterly incommensurate with the #216;‰§« posed by #/?*#-+^)!@*. For crying out loud, most @?#/?*#-@ can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge that the @†‰Ø system is inherently unsustainable, much less that ?*??#-+^)!@ itself must be !$#/?*#=-+^)!@*.

I’m #/?*#-+^)!@* of it. I want to talk about what we #/?*#-+^)!@*. But before we can talk about what we #/?*#-+^)!@*, it’s necessary for us to talk about why we don’t talk about it.

One big reason is censorship—from without and within.

The United States government is said to have been founded on free speech and freedom of expression. After all, doesn’t the First Amendment to the Constitution state that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”? Pretty clear, no? And haven’t we seen landmark case after landmark case declaring that even such vile material as the most degrading More…

Occupy: The over-winter diehards…

In Around the web on January 14, 2012 at 4:30 am

From ADBUSTERS

Holding the ground till crocuses bloom next Spring.

In Auckland. In London. In Newfoundland. In Austin, Boulder, Delaware, Buffalo and DC, they’re hanging in there against all odds, defending sacred ground for what will surely be the magical soil of Spring. As we indoors continue brainstorming, networking and tactical planning for the actions to come, lets take a moment to celebrate those inspirational die hards hanging in there through Winter. Our hearts go out to you … you are our heroes … we are in awe of your resolve.

Here is a message from Occupy Newfoundland, Canada’s last-standing encampment:

Day 83. We have survived critique from politicians, citizens and media. Been pelted with rain, sleet and snowstorms. Endured the cold, damp and windy conditions that only the turbulent Atlantic Ocean can offer. We have tolerated and embraced the difference of opinion on the major issues we as people and as a society are now facing, for we believe only dialogue and communication without violence is the key to our success. Occupy has more to do with becoming engaged in your community, city, country and own personal ambitions and beliefs than it does with Occupying a park or a tent. It’s the reflection of the desire and hope inside the people of this planet. This is why we remain, this is why we will persevere … Occupy Newfoundland/Everywhere 2012 and beyond.
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Occupy the fundamentalist God…

In Around the web on January 14, 2012 at 4:20 am

From REV BILLY

Life is dying…

Tropical forests, wetlands and estuaries, and the coral reefs beneath the ocean’s surface are the carriers of most of the life on the Earth. Tropical forests are the home of half of all species, and they are, as of the beginning of 2012, one third gone. Caught in the slash-and-burning and lumbering and fast-food grazing of current economies, the planet will be deforested for our grandchildren.

We are turning out the lights on the stage of the creation of life. Life needs enough life to keep making life. Life-a-lujah! Put it this way: Evolution, to work, needs its genetic pool. No-one knows for sure how many species and in what numbers will survive as the centers of intense life are cut down.

We are witnessing the extinction of hundreds of thousands of species of life. How can this be? And, this is not a decision that has been open to much public discussion. It is an apocalypse of accumulating silence. No public leader would dare state that human beings will be the only life remaining, and yet that seems to be the plan. The idea that people would be the only living thing – with I suppose pets, and parks preserved like museums… Is that where we are heading? People simply don’t realize how extreme this is: the extinction rate has risen to 400 times above the average. Life is dying.

More…

Todd Walton: Close Calls

In Todd Walton on January 13, 2012 at 5:22 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Fate laughs at probabilities.”  E.G. Bulwer-Lytton

For me to be born, my parents had to meet at Beverly Hills High in 1939, which only happened because in 1932, when my mother Avis was eleven, she went on a long walk in Phoenix, Arizona and learned from the announcement on a hotel marquee that Tommy Dorsey and his band were playing there that very night.

Avis took that fateful walk because she was tired of being cooped up in a motel room with her seven-year-old brother Howard and her thirty-three-year-old mother Goody, and because she was sad and lonely and didn’t know what else to do. Avis and Goody and Howard were living in that Phoenix motel room, having hurriedly left Los Angeles some weeks before, because Goody was fed up with her husband Casey for failing for the umpteenth time to bring home enough bacon, so to speak, to keep the bill collectors at bay and put sufficient food on the table for two growing kids. Casey was a real estate broker and a gambler, and in the depths of the Great Depression things were not going well for him in either field. Goody and Casey were Jewish, their last name Weinstein, and so their struggles were compounded by the fierce anti-Semitism of those times. They would eventually change their last name to Winton so they could pretend not to be Jewish, a tactic they hoped would increase their options for housing and employment.

Why Phoenix? Family lore has it that Phoenix was as far as they got before Goody ran out of money. Goody’s parents were in Michigan where Goody was born, so perhaps Goody’s plan was to get back to the Jewish ghetto of Detroit where her relatives would not let her starve. But I think Goody chose Phoenix because it was just close enough to Los Angeles (an eight-hour drive) for Casey to visit every weekend to give Goody a little money, if he had any, and to beg her to come back to him. Goody was adamant she would not come back to him until he started making good money and giving most of that money More…

Transition: What it looks like when food grows everywhere…

In Mendo Island Transition on January 13, 2012 at 5:15 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture
Transition Ukiah Valley

Today I’d like to share a map with you (you can download a hi resolution pdf of it here — caution, it’s a big file), and I’m hugely grateful to Geri Smyth for giving me this.  It is a map of the town of Guildford (or Guldeford as it was then) in 1793.  Regular readers will know I love a good map, and I have spent a fair while poring over this one.  There are a couple of things I love about it.  Firstly, it is the most amazing piece of draughtsmanship.  It is a thing of extraordinary beauty in a way that Googlemaps can only dream of.  The way its laid out, the calligraphy, the attention to detail, are beautiful in a way very few people could recreate today.  But what is so extraordinary, upon closer inspection, is how it captures what it looks like when food grows everywhere. Think of it, if you like, as Incredible Edible Guildford, circa. 1739.

This is a Guildford before the car, before before shopping malls, before tarmac.  It is also clearly a Guildford with a much lower population than today, with far far lower living standards, and with a lot more mud on the soles of its shoes.  My reason for posting this beautiful artifact isn’t to romanticise times that were very different, and in many ways much harder, rather it is to marvel at what a really local food culture looks like in reality for those of us who have no living memory of such a thing.

We see, for example, that the hospital has its own vegetable garden. The Free School has its own orchard.  While many of the houses have their own gardens, others appear to have allotments out the back, large pieces of land divided into plots.  In the centre of the map is a cluster of coaching inns, each of which have yards full of vegetable gardens.  Behind every house, on every piece of ground, food is being grown.  It is an extraordinary snapshot of a time when food production was the principal form of urban land use after roads and buildings. More…

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