Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Plan C: Community Solution…

In Around Mendo Island on January 13, 2012 at 5:10 am

From COMMUNITY SOLUTION
Thanks to Debora McGillivray
Transition Ukiah Valley

Plan A seeks to maintain economic growth by developing unconventional fossil fuels (tar sands), increased use of “clean” coal and more nuclear power plants. Plan B also seeks to maintain the status quo, believing this is possible with “renewable” energy sources – bio-fuels, wind turbines and solar photovoltaics (PVs). Both require technological breakthroughs or very rapid scaling up of existing technologies. Both are expensive with high technical and ecological risks.

Plan C focuses on ways to dramatically reduce, or “curtail,” our per capita energy consumption by reducing the goods and services we consume. This is in contrast to “conservation” which refers to reducing the energy required to produce and use goods and services. Plan C focuses on solutions for the household sector of the economy – homes, auto transportation and food – which account for two-thirds of the total energy consumed and CO2 generated in the United States. These areas of use are under our direct personal control.

Curtailment and Community

The two main components of Plan C Solutions are Curtailment and Community. Curtailment is the action of reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Community is the context for a culture where consumption is not the primary value. Community also describes a culture or way of living where relationships are more important than material goods. Since World War II our consumption of fossil fuels has risen dramatically while at the same time the values and benefits we obtained from “community” have declined.

We are facing massive challenges and there is no guarantee that they can be solved or solved quickly. Thus the C of Plan C also stands for Contingency as in “a contingency plan.” Even though it is possible that some breakthrough technology will suddenly make all our concerns go away, it is unlikely. If we do not take seriously the possibility that oil depletion or climate change will force change upon us, we might not begin looking for other options until it is too late. A contingency plan More…

Here’s Mitt Romney — King of the Republican Scumbags…

In Around the web on January 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm


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Occupy Wall Street: What’s next?…

In Around the web on January 12, 2012 at 6:16 am

From NAOMI KLEIN
Common Dreams
Excerpt

Personally, I think the greatest possibility lies in bringing together the ecological crisis and the economic crisis. I see climate change as the ultimate expression of the violence of capitalism: this economic model that fetishizes greed above all else is not just making lives miserable in the short term, it is on the road to making the planet uninhabitable in the medium term. And we know, scientifically, that if we continue with business as usual, that is the future we are heading towards. I think climate change is the strongest argument we’ve ever had against corporate capitalism, as well as the strongest argument we’ve ever had for the need for alternatives to it. And the science puts us on a deadline: we need to have begun to radically reduce our emissions by the end of the decade, and that means starting now. I think that this science-based deadline has to be part of every discussion about what we’re going to do next, because we actually don’t have all the time in the world.

We should also be aware that this kind of existential urgency could be a very regressive force if the wrong people harness it. It’s easy to imagine autocrats using the climate emergency to say, “We don’t have time for democracy or participation, we need to impose it all from the top.” Right now, the way the urgency is used within the mainstream environmental movement is to say, “This problem is so urgent that we can only ask for these compromised cap-and-trade deals, since that’s all we can hope to achieve politically.” Talking about the links between economic growth and climate change is pretty much off the table because, supposedly, we don’t have time to make those kinds of deep changes.

But that was a pre-OWS political calculation. And as you pointed out, OWS is in the business of changing what is possible. So what I’ve been saying when I speak to environmental groups is: More…

Small farms adding value…

In Around the web on January 12, 2012 at 6:05 am

From BLAINDESIGN
Etsy

...AllStar Organics, a small specialty farm owned by the husband-and-wife team of Marty Jacobson and Janet Brown. “When we started about 20 years ago,” says Janet (who I should add is my big sister), “we wanted what a lot of people want — to work where we live. We had no business plan, and limited resources.”

Starting with a difficult backyard that was almost too steep to mow, the couple dug some terraces and planted tomatoes, herbs, and heirloom roses, three things that already grew in their home garden.

“For us, value-added production emerged entirely from our mistakes and failures,” says Janet. “It was all an attempt to salvage something out of what had gone wrong.”

What today is a successful line of dried herbs and herbal products resulted from another “mistake.” “One day we picked 22 pounds of Thai basil to fill an order that turned out to be for only two pounds,” said Janet. “Rather than composting 20 pounds of ‘leftover’ organic herbs, I tried drying them by hand on sheets of newspaper with a house fan. Over time, we expanded the drying operation step by step until we built what we have today — a drying facility, a line of herbs, and an organic certification as a ‘simple on-farm post-harvest handler.’”

As AllStar grew, Janet joined with other farmers to form the region’s first organic marketing association, Marin Organic, a very select group of growers who met with sustainable agriculture advocate Prince Charles on his most recent trip to the U.S.

Allstar’s growth eventually required that it expand beyond a backyard operation…

Here are few of Janet’s ideas for anyone thinking of launching a value-added operation: More…

The joy of books…

In Around the web on January 12, 2012 at 6:01 am

Thanks to Janet Rosen
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Occupy the land with peasant agriculture to resolve the food crisis and the climate crisis…

In Around the web on January 12, 2012 at 6:00 am

From CLIMATE CONNECTIONS

La Via Campesina always goes to all the places where the UN, the G8, or the WTO, or anyone else are making decisions about our lives. Because it is a question about our lives, and it’s a question of the destruction of the planet. We are very concerned because small farmers represent about three billion people, producing about seventy percent of the food for all of the world’s seven billion people. The United Nations process is not about the climate crisis, it is about big business, because the rich countries with their big corporations want to put all the world’s resources into the market. This is why it is very important for La Via Campesinato be spokespeople for the peasant sector – to be the peasant voice.

So we are here to say NO to the false solutions: industrial agriculture, land-grabbing, carbon markets, REDD, REDD+. We are here to say we don’t want agriculture on the table of the negotiations because agriculture is too important for life for it to be a business. We can’t put agriculture on the table where the big corporations are discussing how they can continue to pollute the planet and get more money. We are here to say agro-ecology can cool down the planet, to say that food sovereignty is the way to resolve the climate crisis. The biggest problem for the climate is industrial agriculture. With agro-ecology we can produce food for the world, develop local markets, and cut off the industrial process. The studies are very clear: industrial agriculture and the industrial food system are responsible for 57 percent of greenhouse gas emissions…

When we see the situation in the world we could say it’s impossible to do anything. But here in Durban I saw a lot of people coming, from the US, from the EU, from all over the world, to say, the planet is not for sale. Nature is not for sale. A lot of organizations from around the world give me hope More..

As centralized systems devolve, the solution is Localism…

In Around the web on January 11, 2012 at 6:00 am

From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
oftwominds.com

Depending on Central State/central bank borrowing and spending to prop up the Status Quo is a doomed strategy.

I think the thread between these three seemingly disparate stories is clearly visible. I am indebted to longtime correspondent Joel M. for sending me these articles:

A Dimly Flickering Light in a Darkened Downtown. An Ohio mill town’s once-bustling main street is now a ghost town; people are desperate to sell their family heirlooms to one of the downtown’s few remaining businesses, a vintage shop, to raise cash.

A Fight for Post Offices and Towns’ Souls. Even as the number of family farms rises for the first time in decades in the U.S., long-standing services to rural communities such as post offices and schools are being slashed.

With Work Scarce in Athens, Greeks Go Back to the Land. As Greece’s economy plunges and unemployment rises, many Greeks are fleeing to the countryside and looking to the nation’s rich agricultural past as a guide to the future.

The thread that connects these stories is the devolution of centralized concentrations of control and the power of localism to fill the void. As I have often noted here, the expansive Central State is on an S-curve of decline, and this is most apparent in places such as Greece that cannot print a couple trillion dollars a year to fund a bloated Status Quo like the U.S. can (at least for now).

But the Central State is on an S-curve even in nations such as the U.S. and “socialist” France, where rural post offices are also being closed or their hours drastically slashed for budgetary reasons. More…

Hail, the mighty pocketknife…

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on January 11, 2012 at 5:50 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Time was, a farmer would feel naked without a pocketknife in his bibs. Even today, it is the handiest tool of all. There is always a bale twine to cut, a splinter in the skin to remove, a fingernail to trim,  a scion to be grafted, a hoof to be cleaned, a pig testicle to be removed, a marshmallow stick to be sharpened, spark plugs to be scraped clean of carbon, an apple to peel, a hide to skin, a seed potato to cut, a lid to pry open, a beer bottle cap to pop off, string holding a sack closed to sever, a hole to be poked in fabric or rubber. It would be fun to hold a contest to see who can come up with the most uses for a pocketknife on the farm.

As boys, we used our knives mainly to play a game we called “mumblety-peg.”  (I have a hard time believing this, but Merriam-Webster says the first known use of that word, mumblety-peg, was in 1647, and that it first referred to what the loser in the game had to do— pull a peg out of the ground with his or her teeth.) The essence of the game was to stand the open knife vertically on arm, head, knee, whatever, and flip it so that the blade stuck in the ground. That’s how I learned that any knife will fall, end over end, and stick into the ground every time if allowed to fall from the right height using only gravity without any extra push or flip. Experienced mumblety-peg players knew that and had rules about how the knife was to be flipped or not flipped. Often it had to be flipped from between two fingers, going consecutively from one pair of fingers to the next. Off an arm, the player might have to execute a double flip before the knife stuck in the ground for the maneuver to be legitimate. We also spent a lot of time throwing our knives at trees so that they would stick like in Tarzan movies. This was a good way to ruin a pocketknife in a hurry.

Any of you readers ever play mumblety-peg? I asked my grandson and he never heard of it.

Today, everyone, country or city, needs a pocketknife handy. Anyone who has to open packages (and that’s everyone) encased in the latest impenetrable More…

The very real danger of genetically modified foods…

In Around the web on January 11, 2012 at 5:21 am

From ARI LeVAUX
The Atlantic
Thanks to Gail Johnson and Janie Sheppard

New research shows that when we eat we’re consuming more than just vitamins and protein. Our bodies are absorbing information, or microRNA. The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in Monsanto’s claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous.

Chinese researchers have found small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to proteins in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood.

The type of RNA in question is called microRNA, due to its small size. MicroRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been linked to human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. The Chinese research provides the first example of ingested plant microRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function.

Should the research survive scientific scrutiny, it could prove a game changer in many fields. It would mean that we’re eating not just vitamins, protein, and fuel, but information as well.The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in Monsanto’s claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous.

That knowledge could deepen our understanding of cross-species communication, co-evolution, and predator-prey relationships. It could illuminate new mechanisms for some metabolic disorders and perhaps explain how some herbal medicines function. And it reveals a pathway by which genetically modified (GM) foods might influence human health.

Complete article here
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Four sleezy ways Big Pharma pushes drugs…

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya, BS Buzzer on January 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

From ALTERNET

Big Pharma uses ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and sell diseases to adults and their children.

It’s no secret that advertising works. Big Pharma wouldn’t spend over $4 billion a year on direct-to-consumer advertising if it didn’t mean massive profits.

What is more unknown is why drug ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and “sell” diseases are often the most common–and effective–even when the drugs themselves are of questionable safety.

The nation’s fourth most frequent drug ads in 2009 for were Cymbalta, making Eli Lilly $3.1 billion in one year, despite the antidepressant’s links to liver problems and suicide. Pfizer spent $157 million advertising Lyrica for fibromyalgia in 2009, despite the seizure pill’s links to life-threatening allergic reactions. The same year, it spent $107 million advertising the antidepressant Pristiq, even though it also had links to liver problems.

So, how does Pharma dupe us into using unsafe drugs? Today’s drug ads, targeted directly to consumers since 1999, seem like they sell diseases and often cast women, children, the elderly and mentally ill in a bad light. But a quick look at ads before direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) in medical journals shows that drug ads have always done so. It’s just that patients didn’t used to see them.

Here are some of Pharma’s most offensive ad campaigns, then and now.

1. You’re Sicker Than You Think

When psychiatric drugs first became popular for use in the general population, in the late 1960s More…

Hey Occupy England: It’s okay to protest as long as you’re ineffective…

In Around the web on January 10, 2012 at 5:55 am

From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Guardian

Making Democracy Safe for Business

The government is ensuring that we can mount no effective protest against the banks and corporations.

When governments seek to protect the rich from the poor, they act swiftly and decisively. When they undertake to protect the poor from the rich, they fanny about for years until the moment has passed.

This afternoon the House of Lords will consider a bill containing a cruel and unnecessary clause, whose purpose is to protect landlords who keep their houses empty. Under current law, if squatters move into your home (or a home you are soon to occupy) and fail to leave the moment you ask, the police can immediately remove them.

The only houses with weaker protections are those which remain empty. There are 700,000 such homes in England alone, almost half of which have been empty for a long time(1). They have long been a refuge for street sleepers and other homeless people. Landlords already possess civil powers to remove them, and the police can step in if squatters ignore the court orders(2).

Last year the government launched a consultation on criminalising all squatting in residential buildings. Ninety-six per cent of the respondents argued that no change in the law was necessary(3). But on November 1st, just five days after the consultation ended, the government jemmied an amendment into the legal aid bill, which was already halfway towards approval(4,5). This meant that the House of Commons had no chance to scrutinise it properly, and objectors had no chance to explain the issues to their MPs. More…

James Cone’s Gospel of the penniless, jobless, marginalized and despised…

In Around the web on January 10, 2012 at 5:00 am


From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

James Cone’s Jesus by Felicia Follum

“The Cross and the Lynching Tree are separated by nearly two thousand years,” James Cone writes in his new book, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.” “One is the universal symbol of the Christian faith; the other is the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America. Though both are symbols of death, one represents a message of hope and salvation, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy. Despite the obvious similarities between Jesus’ death on the cross and the death of thousands of black men and women strung up to die on a lamppost or tree, relatively few people, apart from the black poets, novelists, and other reality-seeing artists, have explored the symbolic connections. Yet, I believe this is the challenge we must face. What is at stake is the credibility and the promise of the Christian gospel and the hope that we may heal the wounds of racial violence that continue to divide our churches and our society.”

So begins James Cone, perhaps the most important contemporary theologian in America, who has spent a lifetime pointing out the hypocrisy and mendacity of the white church and white-dominated society while lifting up and exalting the voices of the oppressed. He writes out of his experience as an African-American growing up in segregated Arkansas and his close association with the Black Power movement. But what is more important is that he writes out of a deep religious conviction, one I share, that the true power of the Christian gospel is its unambiguous call for liberation from forces of oppression and for a fierce and uncompromising condemnation of all who oppress. More…

Occupy San Francisco: Seniors in walkers shut down local Bank of America…

In Around the web on January 9, 2012 at 6:30 am

From SFWeekly

What some healthy and spry Occupy Movements across the nation couldn’t quite accomplish, San Francisco geriatrics have!

KCBS reports that a small group of senior citizens between the ages of 69 and 82 successfully shut down a Bank of America in Bernal Heights on Thursday with nothing more than walkers and oxygen tanks. That’s right: No shouting, chanting, tear gas, or window-smashing.

The group, which dubbed itself “Wild Old Women” set up camp right outside the BofA, holding signs in what they were calling “a run on the bank.”

While the protesters said they had no intention (or oxygen) of storming the bank, as occupiers in other communities have done, officials at Bank of America shut the doors and locked them as they spotted the slow-moving group make its way to the front of the bank.

So the seniors took a seat outside the bank where they explained their demands, which were no different than every other occupiers: They want lower fees, and they want the bank to pay higher taxes and stop the foreclosures.

“We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” 80-year-old Tita Caldwell told KCBS reporters. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates, because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.”

And that’s just no way to spend your Golden Years.
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Vandana Shiva: We learn from the seed…

In Around the web, Seeds on January 9, 2012 at 5:14 am

…the first thing we do here on the farm is save seeds… more than 1,500 varieties, and we grow them out for the future. It is also a place where farmers come to get seeds.

In addition, it is an organic farm, an ecological farm. It was a desert when we started. As we have practiced organic farming the soil is alive, the pollinators have come back… it has bacome a biodiversity sanctuary…

Our research shows that ecological systems can produce 2 to 5 times more food per acre than the industrial monocultures… the the lie of industrial farming, the lie of genetic engineering has been put to rest by the loving practices of this farm…

We learn from the seed, renewal… we learn from the seed, generosity… we learn from the seed multiplicity… we learn from the seed diversity…

The emergency of saving seeds is because seed has now been appropriated and colonized. Corporations have declared it is their intellectual property. And the only way they can get intellectual property is by modifying and mutilating through genetic engineering… we have to defend life, we have to defend freedom,  and that’s why we save seeds…

I have hope, because I have deep trust in the earth… she is more resilient than all actions. I have deep trust in people and the irrepressible urge for freedom and happiness…
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‘Locally Adapted’ Organic Garden Seeds available soon here in the Ukiah Valley…

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on January 8, 2012 at 6:00 am

· Underground Seeds ·

Certified Organic · Locally Adapted

Coming soon to Mulligan Books & Seeds

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

We need a zillion new family farms and gardens in this country, and we need to fill the Ukiah Valley with them to come through the challenging times ahead. It all starts with seeds…

Sadly, one of the dirty little secrets of the organic seed trade, and the seed trade in general, is that many of the “organic seeds” now being offered to gardeners are grown by giant transnational corporations in China and India.

Mulligan Books & Seeds is partnering with Sustainable Seed Company in Covelo to localize seed breeding, growing, saving, and trading in Mendocino County with seeds adapted to our particular soils and climate… providing a more secure local food system.

Certified Organic, Locally Adapted, heirloom, untreated, open-pollinated, garden seeds, grown by local and regional organic and biodynamic family farmers, will be offered beginning this month, at Mulligan Books & Seeds in Ukiah. The seeds offered this year will be California-grown, including our local region. We are recruiting local organic and biodynamic farmers to begin growing a portion of their plants for seed so we can gradually localize the seed trade closer to home. Seeds adapted to our local soils and climate produce more abundantly and cost far less than those being shipped around the world and across the country by who knows who, who knows where.

See our Seed Pledge here and below…

We encourage local More…

Seed Pledge from Mendocino County’s Own: Sustainable Seed Company and Underground Seed Company…

In Around Mendo Island, Seeds on January 8, 2012 at 5:00 am

GMOs: World’s Greatest Scam

Fear Not Fine Folks! Our Seeds Are Safe!

shovel Sustainably Grown Means…

  • We do not knowingly grow OR buy seed that is surrounded by GM crops.
  • We do not buy seed from foreign seed companies. We support local seed houses, farmers and their families. When you buy seed from us you are supporting American farm families and companies.
  • We don’t chemically treat our seeds and since we don’t buy from out of country the USDA does not treat our seed like many seed companies. Don’t assume that if a company uses the word “heirloom” that it is grown here in the US. In fact we get hundreds of emails from companies in China and India trying to sell us cheap “heirloom” seed. Where does you seed company get it’s seed from?
  • We farm in a sustainable, water conscious and environmentally responsible manner.

One of the major purposes of this heirloom organic seed company is genetic preservation of heritage open pollinated seeds. We believe it is every person’s right to control and grow their own food. We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. Unlike other seed companies (click & discover who…it might surprise you), we will not buy ANY seed from Seminis, a Monsanto owned subsidiary (Click here to learn more about Monsanto).

Heirloom seeds belong in the hands of people, not nameless, faceless corporations that we feel don’t have our best interests at heart. Corporations that lobby our government so that GM food goes unlabeled in stores for example. We may not know what is in a box of cereal, but you can trust we will not be buying their seed. With this you have the ability to grow your own clean food for your family. More…

Doug Mosel: ‘Farmageddon — The Unseen War on American Family Farms’ Screening and Panel at Anderson Valley Grange TODAY Sunday 1/8/11 2pm. Please…

In Around Mendo Island on January 8, 2012 at 5:00 am

From DOUG MOSEL
Anderson Valley

“Farmageddon, The Unseen War on American Family Farms” will be shown at the Anderson Valley Grange on January 8, 2 p.m. The 90-minute film will be followed by a panel discussion with Sara Grusky or Michael Foley of Green Uprising Farm, Paige Polous of John Woolley Ranch, and Doug Mosel of the Mendocino Grain Project.

Produced by Kristin Canty, mother of four children, Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

The film highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations.

The film and panel discussion are sponsored by the Anderson Valley Foodshed, the Anderson Valley Grange, and the Mendocino Organic Network.

Further information at farmageddonmovie.com
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Occupy your community legally with a local Bill of Rights…

In Around the web on January 7, 2012 at 6:51 am

From YES!

When communities try to keep corporations from engaging in activities they don’t want, they often find they don’t have the legal power to say “no.” Why? Because our current legal structure too often protects the “rights” of corporations over the rights of actual human beings.

If we are to elevate our rights and the rights of our communities above those of a corporate few, we, too, need to transform the way laws work.

As we wrote in Turning Occupation into Lasting Change, mainstream progressive groups have failed by constraining their activities within legal and regulatory systems purposefully structured to subordinate communities to corporate power. Truly effective movements don’t operate that way. Abolitionists never sought to regulate the slave trade; they sought to transform the legal structure that supported it by treating slaves as property rather than people under the law. Suffragists did the same with the legal status of women.This style of organizing moves away from traditional activism—mired in letter writing campaigns and lowest common denominator federal and state legislation—toward a new activism in which communities claim the right to make their own decisions, directly.

To help them do so, we’re offering the model Community Bill of Rights template below, a legislative template for communities that want to protect their own rights. It’s based on real laws already passed from the municipal to the national level—from Pittsburgh stripping drilling corporations of Constitutional “rights” to Ecuador including legal rights for nature in its Constitution. Think of the template as a menu to pick and choose what’s important in your community. It’s meant to provide a framework and a starting point, not necessarily to be used in its entirety.

Passing a new bill of rights is a way for activists to “occupy” their cities with new legal structures that empower community majorities over corporate minorities, rather than the other way around. More…

Follow Iceland where the people are sovereign…

In Around the web on January 7, 2012 at 6:25 am

From SACSIS

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse More…

Occupy the global financial system: The first historic trades have taken place…

In Around the web on January 7, 2012 at 6:10 am

From eClinik

 The first historic trades within the new financial system have taken place!

The many global, independent trading networks all over the planet are rapidly connecting with each other, forming an infinitely expanding web of local and international commerce, exchange and trade.

People have woken up to the fact: for most of what we spend WE DO NOT NEED GOVERNMENT ISSUED MONEY.  In fact, so many different groups have been abusing the money system, it can no longer fulfil its original purposes, which were:

a)    as a medium of exchange

b)    as a unit of account, and

c)     as a store of value

It is the last of these that has led to systemic abuse and criminality, along with usury – the charging of interest.  Money stopped merely facilitating things (a job it can do supremely well) and started to be seen as value in itself – which is one reason why so much is out of circulation! The ‘value’ is being hoarded, availability manipulated, markets distorted.  No wonder the older religions all forbade usury – for they knew that the usurer and his schemes means that he always ends up owning everything, and tends to manipulate ruthlessly to that end.

There have been some interesting clues as to how this controlling and enslaving global finance system might be broken up.  In the 1980’s, in Canada, a man called Michael Linton named the first Local Exchange Trading systems (LETS), from which a number were established.  They then spread around the planet, but were largely ignored by anyone even remotely mainstream.  The system, in brief, means that you have a local, non-interest bearing currency, and members of the system trade together for all sorts of goods and services: up to 70% of everything you need can be acquired this way in a properly run system with enough members. See definition at:

More…

Occupy Facebook with democratic alternatives…

In Around the web on January 7, 2012 at 5:50 am

From SHAREABLE

The dominance of Facebook is a democratic problem. Our only hope is to use the same tactic the internet used to win against the networks of the time: Open up for collaboration between networks. This is done through federation. Here is how and why it will work, and how you can help.

At a recent conference in Norway, Clay Shirky was asked what he thinks of the domination of Facebook. His answer is discouraging. You can see it below, but in short he says that Facebook might now be so big that it’s impossible to challenge its dominance.

Facebook has 800 million active users around the world. In some countries its grasp on the population is staggering. In the US, 41.6% of the population has an account. In Norway, 73% of the population uses Facebook every month, and young people spend 40% of their online time there. You can see why Clay has a negative outlook.

So, is the fight lost? Will Facebook rule for all foreseeable future?

Yes. It might do just that, if we don’t have a radical shift in our thinking. We need to start thinking like the internet. We can not follow the old pattern of one company replacing another (6 degrees -> Friendster -> Myspace -> Facebook) any more. Here I think Clay might be right.

What can replace Facebook then is not another social network, where all your friends have to agree to join the same new place, but something more akin to the internet itself: A network of social networks.

HOW IS THIS DONE?

Through decentralization with federation. Federation means that two people with profiles on two different social networks can do all the things together that they would normally need to be on the same network to do: Follow, @reply/comment, self organize trough hashtags/groups, etc. Social networks using federation is called distributed social networks.

Take a look at this fantastic walk-through explaining what distributed/federated social networks are, how they work, and more, presented as an old school point-and-click game. More…

Pandering to the rich, now in handy chart form…

In Around the web on January 6, 2012 at 7:22 am

From KEVIN DRUM
Mother Jones

As a public service, I’ve collected charts showing all the Republican tax plans to date in one convenient place. (The Tax Policy Center hasn’t yet tried to score plans from Santorum, Huntsman, or Paul.) It’s really pretty spectacular seeing them all together like this. It’s not just the amount of pandering to the super-rich that’s so breathtaking, it’s the lockstep unanimity. At all costs, every single Republican candidate knows that he has to promise the ultra-wealthy a huge tax break as the price of staying in the race. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the modern Republican Party in a nutshell.





~~

Wendell Berry: Men Untrained to Comfort

In Around the web on January 6, 2012 at 6:50 am

From WENDELL BERRY

Jason Needly found his father, old Ab, at work
at the age of eighty in the topmost
tier of the barn. “Come down!” Jason called.
“You got no business up there at your age.”
And his father descended, not by a ladder,
there being none, but by inserting his fingers
into the cracks between the boards and climbing
down the wall.

And when he was young
and some account and strong and knew
nothing of weariness, old man Milt Wright,
back in the days they called him “Steady,”
carried the rastus plow on his shoulder
up the high hill to his tobacco patch, so
when they got there his mule would be fresh,
unsweated, and ready to go.

Early Rowanberry,
for another, bought a steel-beam breaking plow
at the store in Port William and shouldered it
before the hardly-believing watchers, and carried it
the mile and a half home, down through the woods
along Sand Ripple.

“But the tiredest my daddy
ever got,” his son, Art, told me one day
“was when he carried fifty rabbits and a big possum
in a sack on his back up onto the point yonder
and out the ridge to town to sell them at the store.”

“But why,” I asked, “didn’t he hitch a team
to the wagon and haul them up there by the road?”

“Well,” Art said, “we didn’t have but two
horses in them days, and we spared them
every way we could. A many a time I’ve seen
my daddy or grandpa jump off the wagon or sled
and take the end of a singletree beside a horse.”
~~

Todd Walton: Mystery Inventions

In Todd Walton on January 6, 2012 at 6:36 am

Mr. and Mrs. Magician and Daughter Mystery painting by Todd

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

Deeply moved by a concert of music by Martinû and Mozart, a man gives fifty dollars to a street musician, a Venezuelan bass player whose musical inventions are reminiscent of Eric Satie and Bill Evans. The bass player uses the fifty dollars to buy herself the first nourishing meal she’s had in weeks, after which she catches a train to visit her mother for the first time in several months, and arrives to find her mother dying. With her last breath, the bass player’s mother reveals the identity of the bass player’s real father; and while questing to find her father, the bass player meets a pianist with whom she records ten improvisations, each a musical meditation on the question: what is life all about?

“As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.” Albert Schweitzer

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas makes an excellent case for the digging stick and the ostrich egg being the two most important inventions in human history—more important than fire or weaponry. I am reading The Old Way again, Thomas’s masterpiece about the Bushmen of the Kalahari; and I find her book the perfect antidote to the information overload and resultant anxiety of this digital age. Here is a tiny taste of The Old Way.

“A digging stick is humble, yes. The very name of this item in the English language shows how seriously we underrate it—we assign specific nouns, not vaguely descriptive phrases, to objects that we consider important. Our long stick with a blade at the end is call a spear, for instance, not a stabbing stick. But even if a pointed stick seems insignificant to us in our innocence, as an invention of consequence it ranks with the discovery of the deep roots themselves and has made more difference to our species than virtually all the other inventions we celebrate with more enthusiasm.”

“Then, too, there is the ostrich egg. This useful item is first a meal and then a water bottle. To use these eggs, we had to do only two things—steal a fresh egg without being kicked by the ostrich, and open a hole in the shell. More…

A December round-up of what’s happening out in the World of Transition…

In Around the web on January 5, 2012 at 7:51 am

From TRANSITION CULTURE
Original post with ALL the cool videos here

Welcome back to Transition Culture, and a Happy New Year to you.  We’ll kick off with our round-up of Transition for December.  We’ll start with a few stories of Transition groups working on energy efficiency and fuel poverty which, even though this has been the UK’s mildest winter for many many years, is still a big concern for many people, especially as energy prices continue to rise.  TT High Wycombe have created a Warm Homes Team (see right) who have taken to the streets with their council loaned thermal imaging equipment to address winter fuel poverty.

Also in Buckinghamshire, members of TT-Marlow are now trained in using thermal imaging cameras so they can help local residents see where they are losing heat from their homes and take appropriate action (see left).  In Lincolnshire, TT-Louth have teamed up with another community group called Groundworks to help those living in fuel poverty. Funding will enable them to carry out draught busting and other energy reduction techniques More…

Chris Hedges on self-help magical thinking…

In Around the web on January 5, 2012 at 6:43 am

From CHRIS HEDGES
Transcribed from BookTV interview

Q: What do you think of Oprah’s role in the cultural and religious pursuit of personal wealth?

CH: Negative. Oprah peddles this fantasy that we can have everything we want if we just focus on happiness and grasp that we are truly exceptional if we dig deep enough in ourselves, and this is just magical thinking. It’s not just peddled by Oprah… I don’t want to pick just on Oprah. The Christian Right does it, Hollywood does it, Corporatism does it. Tony Robbins, self-help gurus do it… and it’s just a myth… a myth used to beat up on the poor.

There are no jobs in Camden, New Jersey. They used to make Campbell’s soup in Camden… even that’s gone… everything is gone. The school’s are dysfunctional with a gigantic drop out rate, the streets are unsafe… and to somehow tell a poor black child who’s not getting an adequate education, not being raised in an environment that provides safety and security and nurturing… and upon that, being tossed out into a city where there is no work, that they have to dig deep enough within themselves is really a way for us to turn our backs on the vulnerable and the poor. And to say, the cultural message is, “you are responsible for  your fate”… that’s just the way the corporate state wants it as it sheds job after job… as larger and larger segments of American society are reduced to a subsistence level without any kind of job security, without any kind of adequate health insurance… that it’s sort of their fault because they haven’t managed to tap into their inner strength… this is not only delusional, but in the end, I think, callous to the weak and the poor and the working class.

There should be More…

Monsanto says hello to home gardeners…

In Around the web, Seeds on January 5, 2012 at 6:30 am

From GOOD FOOD WORLD

Who needs “Better living with chemistry” when you have “Better breeding with Monsanto?”

If you thought that planting your own garden and growing and harvesting your own crops would keep you safe from the long arm of Monsanto, think again!

The agribusiness giant already has quietly stepped into the marketplace with commercial and consumer vegetable seeds, says the LA Times in Monsanto sprouting a produce-seed line.

Monsanto moved into the vegetable seed business in 2005 when it acquired Seminis Inc., Oxnard CA. Since then, it has bought four other vegetable seed companies and staffed 57 research centers around the world with seed geneticists and agricultural researchers.

Revenue from Monsanto’s vegetable seed business totaled $895 million for the company’s fiscal year that ended Aug. 31. That’s about 8% of its annual revenue, a figure the company hopes to grow steadily in coming years.

That long arm reaches even further; the company also breeds and sells organic seed.

Sue McGann, coordinator at Marra Farm in Seattle, turned down a donation of organic vegetable seed when she learned it came from one of Monsanto’s subsidiaries. Martha Baskin, Green Acre Radio, visits the farm and explores the issue with Sue More…

Earth is dying and so are you…

In Around the web on January 4, 2012 at 7:15 am

bleeding-heart-dove.gif

From RICHARD B. ANDERSON

[A periodic repost... -DS]

At the heart of the modern age is a core of grief.

At some level, we’re aware that something terrible is happening, that we humans are laying waste to our natural inheritance. A great sorrow arises as we witness the changes in the atmosphere, the waste of resources and the consequent pollution, the ongoing deforestation and destruction of fisheries, the rapidly spreading deserts and the mass extinction of species.

All these changes signal a turning point in human history, and the outlook is not particularly bright. The anger, irritability, frustration and intolerance that increasingly pervade our common life are symptoms associated with grief. The pervasive sense of helplessness and numbness that surrounds us, and the frantic search for meaning and questioning of religion and philosophy of life, are likewise often seen among those who must deal with overwhelming sorrow.

Grief is a natural reaction to calamity, and the stages of grief are visible in our reaction to the rapid decline of the natural world. There are a number of steps that people go through in the grief process. The first stage is often denial: “This can’t really be happening,” a feeling common among millions of Americans. Eighty percent of American adults say they are concerned about the environment, and there is some awareness of the gravity of our situation, yet a widespread awareness has yet to be felt in practical terms. We know the facts, but we’re ignoring in the interests of emotional survival.

The second stage of grief is often anger. We go into the “I’ll fight it” mode. Many environmental thinkers and activists put a lot of grief energy into constructive work. That energy is a factor in the undeniable successes of environmentalism, yet it is a sign of suffering and is probably a constraint on the intellectual vitality of the movement.

The third stage in the grief process is often despair. We feel that “no matter what I do, it’s still happening.” Because the planetary future seems so grim, it’s likely that many Americans have despaired, turning away from the quest for a meaningful solution.

The final stage of the grieving process, for those who can achieve it, often brings a more hopeful state of acceptance, even serenity. When we emerge from the bottom of despair, we may find the inner strength for a peaceful accommodation to reality. We can continue to take positive actions, but we are no longer in denial, rage or despair.

Even if we face the consequences of our assault on the natural environment, we may still find that the problems are too big, that there’s not much we can do. Yet those of us who feel this sorrow cannot forever deny it without suffering inexplicable disturbances in our own lives. It’s necessary to face our fear and our pain and to go through the process of grieving because the alternative is a sorrow deeper still: the loss of meaning. To live authentically in this time, we must allow ourselves to feel the magnitude of our human predicament.

Image: Bleeding Heart Dove (endangered)

Dave Pollard: Feeling Unbearable Grief For Gaia
~~

Gene Logsdon: Maybe Old Tractors Do Die

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on January 4, 2012 at 6:20 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

After the conversations we had here recently about old tractors, I began to hear about a problem that really does affect their longevity.  Ethanol in gasoline is not the wonder fuel it has been made out to be. It is causing problems when used in off-road vehicles— lawn motors, chain saws, boat motors, four wheelers, not to mention old tractors. Although I have had no cause to complain yet myself, I first heard rumors of these problems when 10 percent ethanol was added to gasoline (E-10 fuel. Now that the EPA has approved 15 percent ethanol in gasoline (E-15 fuel) the complaints are increasing. Ethanol corrodes plastic and rubber and even some metal not made to handle it. It also absorbs water into the fuel. You don’t want to leave a can of gas set around very long unused if it has ethanol in it.  And recently out of California came reports that E-15 gas pollutes the air more than pure gasoline (can you call gasoline “pure”?) — contrary to all the propaganda the champions of ethanol have been putting out for several years.

I called a local small engine repair shop whose proprietors I know and trust and asked them if the problem is serious. The mechanic’s first reply was a long drawn out groan. “Oh yes, unfortunately,” he finally replied. “Our carburetor repair work has at least doubled lately.”

What can you do about it since there are now reports that E-10 gas is causing problems too? He sighed again. “Well, you just have to get your carburetor worked on more often. There are additives now to put in ethanol gas, but I am not yet sure if they are all that effective. And they are expensive. It looks like manufacturers will have to design and develop new carburetors for their motors. Right now, it you look at the warranty on your new lawnmower or chain saw, you will see that the carburetor and attendant parts are not covered. Manufacturers are washing their hands of the whole problem.”

The government requires service stations that sell E-15 gas to have labels on the pumps which say: “Use only on 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and in flex-fuel vehicles.”  The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers think the warning labels ought also to include specific instructions directing consumers to check their owner’s manual to determine the appropriate fuel for their vehicles but so far the EPA evidently does not think that’s necessary. But that complaint might be beside the point because some mechanics say that E-10 shortens the life of small engines too.

Obviously, owners of old tractors are going to be hard hit by this situation because no one is going to start making ethanol-proof carburetors for them, I don’t think. You are going to be forced to buy a new tractor whether you can afford to or not. Or better yet, move forward to draft animal power.

This situation seems to me unconscionable. If you look at only the ethanol news from the corn industry or ethanol manufacturers, you would never know there is this problem because most of these sources simply ignore it. Ethanol from corn is, furthermore, so expensive that it requires huge subsidies from the government More…

When the taxman comes for your garden…

In Around the web on January 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

G.G. Bain Hey Mrs. Tambourine Woman New York, August 1913. Suffragettes on way to Boston: ‘suffrage caravan’ campaign for women’s voting rights”

From STONLEIGH
The Automatic Earth

One of our consistent themes at TAE has been not expecting solutions to come from the top down. Existing centralized systems depend on dwindling tax revenues, which will dry up to a tremendous extent over the next few years as economic activity falls off a cliff and property prices plummet.

We have already seen cuts to services and increases in taxes and user fees, and we can expect a great deal more of that dynamic as central authorities emulate hypothermic bodies. In other words, they will cut off the circulation to the fingers and toes in order to preserve the body temperature of the core. This is, of course, a survival strategy, from the point of view of the core. But it does nothing good for the prospects of ordinary people, who represent the fingers and toes.

Centralized systems also depend on the political legitimacy that has been conferred upon them as a result of public trust in them to serve the common interest. This trust is rapidly breaking down in an ever-expanding list of places, as ordinary people realize that their interests have been betrayed in favour of the well connected.

Those who played fraudulent ponzi games with other people’s money, and were in the best position to know what could result, have been bailed out time and time again, while the little guy has been told to expect more austerity measures. Protest is inevitable as political legitimacy fades. We are already seeing it spread like wildfire, which is exactly what one would expect given that human beings internalize, reflect and act on the emotions of others. Collective social mood that turns on a dime is very much part of what it means to be human.

The job of national and international politicians in contractionary times is typically to make a bad situation worse as expensively as possible, as they attempt to rescue the dying paradigm that has conveyed so much personal advantage in their direction. More…

2012 Predictions from Association for the Study of Peak Oil…

In Around the web on January 3, 2012 at 7:00 am


From ASPO-USA

[Richard Heinberg et al. -DS]

(Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent the position of ASPO-USA.)

Last year ASPO-USA brought together a host of leading thinkers and their predictions for what to expect in 2011. While not all the predictions were on target, last year’s thinkers and leaders on energy issues were remarkably prescient, accurately anticipating among other things Arab Spring, the flow of energy prices, the re-emergent world food crisis, and the next step in the Transition movement. While foreseeing the future is a delicate exercise, there are real trends that are evident to eyes prepared to see.  Here are their thoughts about the coming year. A Hopeful New Year to all from ASPO-USA!

COLIN CAMPBELL

“Oil and gas are finite resources formed in the geological past, which means that they are subject to depletion. For every gallon used one less remains, and the more we use the steeper the decline. A debate rages as the date when production peaks but misses the point when what matters is the vision of the long decline on the other side of it, which is beyond dispute. The main reason for the uncertainty is the unreliable nature of public data due to lax reporting and ambiguous definitions. For example, the Oil & Gas Journal reports that 66 countries have unchanged reserves at the end this year, although it is manifestly implausible that new discovery and/or so-called reserve growth should exactly match production. Oil-based energy is central to the modern world fuelling transport, trade and agriculture, which has allowed the economy to expand and the banks to lend more than they had on deposit confident that Tomorrow’s Expansion was collateral for To-day’s Debt. The decline of production during the Second Half of the Oil Age More…

Supping with the devil…

In Around the web on January 3, 2012 at 6:49 am

From DOORS OF PERCEPTION

…I just don’t think it’s defensible any more to turn a blind eye to the social and ecological crimes Big Food is committing, in other parts of the world, so that you and I can eat what we damn well feel like.

When it comes to the food business, I’ve been having my cake, and eating it, since 1995. That was when Vandana Shiva spoke at Doors of Perception 3 about the hidden but devastating ecological and social costs of global industrial agriculture. That was a wake-up call.

Food figured prominently in 2000, too, when we did Doors East in Ahmedabad. We learned, then, that for eighty million women in India, who own or look after one or two cows, milk is their only livelihood.

It should not have been a surprise last week, then, to read a grim report entitled The great milk robbery: How corporations are stealing livelihoods and a vital source of nutrition from the poor

In a long and scrupulously documented report, an NGO called Grain confirms the importance of so-called ‘people’s milk’ to the livelihoods and health of hundreds of millions of poor people in the global South – from small-scale farmers and pastoralists, to local cheesemakers and fresh milk vendors. They nearly all supply safe, nutritious and affordable milk at a mainly local scale.

The report chronicles in distressing detail the global push by Big Dairy corporations such as Nestlé, PepsiCo and Cargill to colonise this entire milk flow. Instead of fresh, high-quality milk produced and supplied in the most sustainable ways by small scale farmers, Big Dairy’s strategy is to replace their local milk with powdered and processed milk; produce it on highly polluting mega farms; sell it in excessive packaging; display it in wildly over-chilled stores; and, after all that, charge at least double the cost of ‘peoples milk’.

A continued shift to large-scale farms would be an environmental and public health catastrophe. Big Dairy’s farms guzzle enormous quantities of water, often at the expense of local communities that depend on the same sources. More…

Monsanto declared Worst Company of 2011…

In Around the web on January 3, 2012 at 6:28 am


From NATURAL SOCIETY

Biotech giant Monsanto has been declared the Worst Company of 2011 by NaturalSociety for threatening both human health and the environment. The leader in genetically modified seeds and crops, Monsanto is currently responsible for 90 percent of the genetically engineered seed on the United States market. Outside of GM seeds, Monsanto is also the creator of the best-selling herbicide Roundup, which has spawned over 120 million hectacres of herbicide-resistant superweeds while damaging much of the soil. Despite hard evidence warning against the amplified usage of genetically modified crops, biopesticides, and herbicides, Monsanto continues to disregard all warning signs.

In a powerful review of 19 studies analyzing the dangers of GMO crops such as corn and soybeans, researchers revealed some shocking information regarding the safety of these popular food staples. Researchers found that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans may lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys. This is particularly concerning due to the fact that 93 percent of U.S. soybeans are known to be genetically modified. Ignoring this evidence, Monsanto continues to expand their genetic manipulation.

Monsanto’s Genetic Manipulation of Nature

Outside of genetically modifying crops, Monsanto has also created genetically modified crops containing Bt. Bt is a toxin incorporated in GMO crops that are intended to kill different insects, however Bt usage has subsequently spawned insect populations which are resistant to the biopesticide. After being exposed to Bt, many insect populations actually mutated to resist the biopesticide. So far at least 8 insect populations have developed resistance, with 2 populations resistant to Bt sprays and at least 6 species resistant to Bt crops as a whole. Farmers are therefore forced to use even more pesticides to combat the resistant bugs.

What is the answer to this problem, according to Monsanto? To further genetically modify the Bt crop to make it a super-pesticide, killing the resistant insects.

Tests, however, have concluded that further modified Bt toxin crop More…

The Economic Bill of Rights…

In Around the web on January 2, 2012 at 5:15 am

From FDR

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; More…

Todd Walton: Creative Paradox

In Todd Walton on January 2, 2012 at 5:12 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must break them.” Nadia Boulanger

During the four years in the early 1990’s when I ran the Creative Writing program for the California State Summer School for the Arts, I oversaw the work of two hundred teenaged writers and worked intimately with fifty of those talented scribblers. Three of the two hundred were, in my estimation, brilliant and original and highly accomplished writers; yet these three were so deeply introverted I predicted they would never succeed as professional writers. Sadly, so far, my prediction has proved true. In the publishing world of today, ambition entirely trumps talent, and believe it or not, ambitious imitators rule the narrow roost of your favorite bookstore, independent or otherwise.

We recently watched the first two-thirds of Robert Altman’s excruciatingly painful film Vincent and Theo about Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo—two-thirds of the movie being all we could bear, and even at that I was an emotional wreck. Whether or not the film is an accurate portrayal of the real Van Gogh, the movie conveys the very real suffering that many visionary artists feel in the absence of lasting emotional connections to other people and society, emotional connections these artists desperately want to make through their art. Yet because society is largely a manifestation of well-established perceptions and carefully regulated protocols for the presentation of those perceptions, most creative introverts are doomed to commercial failure unless they are rescued through the intervention of a sympathetic agent (catalyst) in the body of a functional extrovert.

The few moderate successes of my own writing career occurred because of the divine efforts of an extraordinary literary agent named Dorothy Pittman, the likes of which no longer exist, for she was wholly concerned with quality and originality, while caring not a whit about commerciality or the emotional idiosyncrasies More…

It looks at me…

In Around Mendo Island on January 2, 2012 at 5:00 am

spider.jpg

From DERRICK JENSEN
Endgame Volume II Resistance
[Repost]

[One of the most moving passages about nature has to be this... DS]

It’s a beautiful day, and solitary bees are flying low to the ground, buzzing around their homes, then crawling underground to deliver food to their unhatched babies. Small black spiders scurry everywhere, and I see an ant carrying an impossibly large piece of wood from who knows where to who knows where for who knows what reason. There’s a slight breeze, and the tips of redwood branches sway softly. A small blue butterfly lands on my elbow. I walk to the pond. Tadpoles hang beneath the surface, and if I get too close they dive and wriggle their fat bodies into the mud. Caddisfly larvae, looking for all the world like clumps of wet duff (probably because their armor is clumps of wet duff) trundle along reeds. Bright blue dragonflies dip their abdomens into the water, laying eggs, and tiny mayflies hover there, too. A couple of mayflies must have been caught earlier in spiderwebs, for now they’re motionless, suspended.

I sit cross-legged on the ground a couple of feet from the edge, and begin to edit this morning’s work. A quick movement catches me, and I see that a gray jumping spider has landed on my hand. Fearful of accidentally crushing it, I try to wipe it off on a piece of grass. It slips around my hand, always away from the grass and toward me. I let it stay. It turns to look at me, and I look back at it. I lift my hand so I can better see its gray face and many black eyes. It shifts, too, to keep my face always in view. I shift my hand. It shifts its body. I put my hand back on my knee, and begin to write with my other. The spider moves to the edge of my right hand that is closest to my left, clearly considers the distance, and finally jumps. It makes it. I stop writing. It peers again at my face, then walks to my wrist. I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and the spider crawls in and out of the folds, stopping now and again to look up at me. It gets to my shoulder. It stops. It looks at me. I look at it, eyes straining to focus this close. I don’t know how long it stays there. Maybe five minutes. Maybe ten. Then it makes its way back down to my wrist, to my hand, and jumps off into the grass.

Life is really, really good.
~
[Jensen’s two volumes of almost a thousand pages More…

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