Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Transition: Emotional Resilience In Traumatic Times…

In Mendo Island Transition on May 31, 2012 at 7:00 am


From CAROLYN BAKER
Age of Limits

In March, 2011, I returned from Northern California where residents there were profoundly anxious regarding the effects of radiation on the West Coast from Fukushima. How not, when on April 1, the San Francisco area newspaper, Bay Citizen, reported that “Radiation from Japan rained on Berkeley during recent storms at levels that exceeded drinking water standards by 181 times and has been detected in multiple milk samples, but the U.S. government has still not published any official data on nuclear fallout here from the Fukushima disaster”?

In typical American media fashion, out of sight, out of mind. Fewer and fewer stories of radiation realities in and issuing from Japan are being reported in mainstream news. An occasional comment surfaces, usually assuring us that we have nothing to fear. It’s all so benign. Apparently, we can now move on to “really important” stories like the 2012 election campaign.

And yet, whether explicitly stated or not, Americans and billions of other individuals throughout the world, are not only terrified about radiation but about their economic future—an economic future which will be inexorably more ruinous as a result of the Japan tragedy and its economic ripples globally. By that I do not mean that they feel mild anxiety about embellishing their stock portfolios, but rather, are feeling frightened about how they are going to feed their families, where they will live after losing their house in foreclosure, where they might find employment in a world More…

Transition: Sustainable Living as Religious Observance…

In Mendo Island Transition on May 31, 2012 at 6:50 am

From DMITRY ORLOV
Club Orlov

I have spent the last few days at a conference organized by the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary near Artemas, Pennsylvania. Titled “The Age of Limits,” it was well attended and promises to be one of a series of annual conferences to address the waning of the industrial age and the social adaptation it makes necessary. This conference was quite different from all the others I have attended.

First, the venue is a campground; a beautiful one, consisting of lush meadows surrounded by an equally lush but passable forest girded on three sides by a fast-flowing creek of cold, clean water. This sanctuary is dedicated to nature spirituality, and includes a very impressive stone circle and a multitude of little shrines, altars, charms and amulets hung on trees. (Also included is an assortment of cheerful hippies skinny-dipping in the creek.) Second, spirituality was prominently featured in the presentations: the question of spiritual and emotional adaptation to fast-changing, unsettled times was very much on the agenda. Third, the campground is owned by a church; one of undefined denomination, theological bent or specific set of beliefs, but a church nevertheless. Lastly, the campground is run by a monastery that is at the heart of this church; the monks and nuns do not wear habits, do not seem to have taken any specific vows other than those of loyalty, poverty and obedience, but in substance not too different More…

Transition: How to Start a Tool Lending Library…

In Mendo Island Transition on May 31, 2012 at 6:00 am

From DAVID LANG
MakeZine.com

David Lang, something of a reluctant maker, is on a journey, intensively immersing himself in maker culture and learning as many DIY skills as he can, in part through a generous arrangement with our pals at TechShop. He’s regularly chronicling his efforts in this column — what he’s learning, who he’s meeting, and what hurdles he’s clearing…

Throughout my Zero to Maker journey, I’ve prided myself on how much I’ve been able to accomplish without actually owning many of the tools I’ve needed. As someone with a tight budget and an even smaller studio apartment, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I can accomplish through collaborative outlets like TechShop and Noisebridge. However, last week, my strategy fell apart.

While working on building a standing desk in my room, the cheap, electric drill I was using totally gave out on me. I was building the desk out of large pieces of reclaimed wood, the drill was a critical part of the equation, and hauling the entire project to TechShop made no sense. If only there was an easy way to borrow a tool. Turns out, there is, but not for me because I live in San Francisco. If I lived across the Bay in Berkeley or Oakland, I could swing by the local Tool Lending Library and get what I needed.

Tool Lending Libraries work just like book lending libraries, except they allow the temporary use of tools instead of books. They allow a community to access the tools they need More…

How to Not Kill a Cyclist…

In Around the web on May 31, 2012 at 5:41 am

From MATTHEW BALDWIN
TheMorningNews

My friend was driving down a suburban road, me in the passenger seat, when he came up behind a cyclist. There was no bike lane and a car was approaching from the opposite direction, so he slowed such that we remained behind the rider.

After the other car went by, my friend began to accelerate, intent on passing. “Hang on,” I said. “There’s a sharp bend just ahead, and you don’t want to pass while we’re both going around it.”

“Why not?”

“Because—well, just watch.”

My friend tapped the brake and fell back. As the rider navigated the curve, he swung out into the road and upon reaching the straightaway returned to the shoulder. As my friend passed a few seconds later, the cyclist gave a friendly wave.

“Got it,” my friend said to me. “Thanks.”

I’m not a better driver than my friend—in fact, quite the opposite. But I am a cyclist, while he is not, and he appreciated knowing more about how we operate.

As many cyclists are aware, there are entire bookstore sections devoted to advice on co-existing with cars. We read them as if our lives depended on them, because often they do. But there are also many things bike riders would like drivers to know—like, we don’t ride on the sidewalk for a reason (it’s dangerous and in many places illegal), or that “cyclists” and “pedestrians on bicycles” are two distinct groups, or that we know we look ridiculous in bike shorts. As well as the following: More…

Gene Logsdon: What Is The Secret Of Parsnips?

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on May 30, 2012 at 5:21 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Whenever I go to a big supermarket that carries fresh food, I always find these long, wrinkled, ugly, rooty-looking things called parsnips on display. Someone must like them or they wouldn’t be there, but I can’t find anyone who admits to eating them, or anyone who knows what the attraction might be. It certainly isn’t phallic, as carrots sometimes get portrayed.  What is the allure of parsnips?

We grew parsnips once. They were slow to germinate so weeds got a head start on them. As for taste, I am not saying they weren’t edible if cooked with enough butter, but that is kind of true of cardboard too. Parsnips are “best” in early spring after having spent the entire winter in cold or even frozen soil. The cold enhances their taste which tells me that in the fall they must taste terrible. Nowadays, marketers sometimes refrigerate fall-harvested parsnips before selling them.

Parsnips have been cultivated and cherished at least back as far as ancient Roman times. The most obvious reason for their popularity is that they are available to eat before any new growth arrives in spring, a real advantage before modern storage methods came along. But there are other roots in the ground that also survive winter. Why parsnips?  Help me out here.

What little solid history I can find about the parsnip only increases the mystery. In Gardening For Profit, an interesting old book by Peter Henderson, first published in 1867, the author goes to great length pointing out that parsnips More…

Krugman, Hartmann: End This Depression Now…

In Around the web on May 30, 2012 at 5:00 am


From THOM HARTMANN

Keynes was right, Reagan was wrong… We’ve gone through a great forgetting…

We have a monoculture of ruthless corporations as the only way we do business… Without strong unions, Big Money is all there is…

The tepid response to the current economic crisis could ruin the United States and Europe.

We are living through a time where we face an enormous economic challenge… We are facing — obviously — the worst challenge in 80 years and we are totally mucking up the response. We’re doing a terrible job. We’re failing to deal with it. All of the people, the respectable people, the serious people, have made a total hash of this. That is a recipe for radicalism. It is a recipe for breakdown…

There are a lot of ugly forces being unleashed in our societies on both sides of the Atlantic because our economic policy has been such a dismal failure, because we are refusing to listen to the lessons of history. We may look back at this thirty years from now and say, ‘That is when it all fell apart.’ And by all, I don’t just mean the economy.
~~

Genuine Heirlooms are Seeds with Stories…

In Around the web on May 30, 2012 at 4:55 am


Heirloom bean harvest. Credit: Patricia Larenas

From PATRICIA LARENAS
Shareable

Genuinely heirloom seeds are seeds with stories. They were passed down through generations of families and communities. Typically, they traveled long distances with immigrants to new lands as cherished food plants. These traditional sources of food were a comfort, and beyond that, a necessity. In our urban supermarket and fast-food culture it’s easy to forget that at one time families relied on what they could grow, and the crops they grew were a rainbow of diversity.

What happens to these unique varieties of edibles when there is no one to grow them and pass seeds on to the next generation? Extinction. Many have already been lost, but there are heroic efforts underway to save as many as possible, along with their stories.

A Cucumber Lost, Then Found

For example, I love the story of the Collier Cucumber, named after a family who began growing it in about 1910, after being given seeds by traveling gypsies. Seed sleuth Sara Straate, was able to collect information through interviews with the Collier children. Straate, who is a Seed Historian with Seed Savers Exchange (SSE), learned that in the 1950’s the parents had planted all of the seeds they had. As fate (and weather) would have it, the entire crop failed. The family was crushed to have lost this much-loved cucumber, which they ate fresh More…

Hey, Mendo Right-Wing Fascists: Ya got nothin to tell and sell but hate and fear…

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on May 29, 2012 at 9:03 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

[Here in Mendo we have our Sunday Ukiah Daily Journal served frequently with a prominent helping of steaming garbage from the far right on the op-ed pages. Here to save the day, The Three Mouskateers, Messrs. Mark Albrecht, John Hendricks and Mark Rohloff have taken it upon themselves to "promote the conservative point of view in Ukiah". They do not appeal with logic nor documented systematic analysis. It's all "pot calling the kettle black" and pure, red-hot, hyperbolic hate.

Marvin Gentz, bless his heart, and others strive mightily to counter their feverish, inept, ineloquent spewing, and my fingers are getting itchy to blast them back.

With apologies to the community, public service sometimes requires us to acknowledge the existence of those who would destroy democracy if we didn't stay vigilant. Here is their latest (UDJ 5/27/12) from the fire-and-brimstone gates of Mousekateer hell... -DS]

In the beginning of our once great country, the United States of America was founded on the joint understanding that God was our guide and partner in the enterprise of freedom. Those who landed at Plymouth Rock sought the guidance of the Almighty, too, and eventually premised the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on this relationship. In fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution states freedom of religion to be the cornerstone of our enterprise. More…

Dumb Rich People…

In Around the web on May 29, 2012 at 6:14 am

From ALAN GRAYSON
Reader Supported News

A few weeks ago, it was reported that some right-wing rich guys’ club had pledged $100 million to defeat President Obama. The Koch Brothers led the way, pledging $60 mil. Which is pocket change, when your net worth is $50,000,000,000.00.

Leaving aside the obvious issue – the estate tax – I’m puzzled as to why all those right-wing rich folks feel that way. The foundation of their wealth – the stock market – has performed vastly better when Democrats have been in charge.

In 2008, the New York Times reported that since 1929, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Democratic Presidents (over 40 years) had become $300,671. Meanwhile, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Republican Presidents (over 35 years) had become only $11,733.

Well, at least the affluent caste didn’t lose money during Republican regimes, right? Wrong. The value of the dollar dropped by 92% during that period. So in real value, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Republican Presidents actually became just $955. And forty-six cents. In economic terms, roughly the same effect as some foreign enemy blowing up 90% of our factories, warehouses, farms, malls, office buildings, apartment buildings, and every other productive asset.

Poor rich people. All the money gone. Those darned Republicans.
More…

Michael Shuman: The Little Grocery That Could…

In Around the web on May 29, 2012 at 6:13 am

From  MICHAEL SHUMAN
BALLE

[Author Michael Shuman, Local Dollars, Local Sense, is well-known here in Mendo. He was here most recently giving an all-day seminar, and gave two wonderful presentations about local business during our successful fight to stop the Masonite Monster Mall. Entrepreneur Jason Brown, Your Local Market in Bellevue, Washington, is a dear friend. -DS]

What happens next in the economy – the nation’s, the state’s, and Seattle’s – no longer lies in the hands of Capitol Hill politicians, the Federal Reserve, or even the boards of companies like Microsoft and Starbucks.  It depends on entrepreneurs like Jason Brown, who has big ambitions for his small business.  Jason recently opened a grocery store in the heart of downtown Bellevue called Your Local Market. It combines the best features of Whole Foods, like high-quality local and organic products, with down-to-earth prices and familiar brands of low cost cleaning products.

Jason, however, is not your typical small businessperson. For more than three decades he has been an innovator in retailing. He brought Columbia Sportswears to New Zealand and Australia.  He created the Natural Apothecary, which was sold to Wild Oats, and then went on to develop Andrew Weil Vitamin Advisor.  He grew a bi-coastal company called Organic To Go, which at its peak made healthy options available in 33 cafes and 150 outlets.

Today, Jason is all about “local.” He and his team have scoured the Pacific Northwest for great suppliers of local fruits, meats, and wines More…

Gimme some of that Seth Godin would ya?…

In Around the web on May 29, 2012 at 6:12 am

From SETH GODIN

[For the small-time marketer, the non-profiter, the freelancer and the local small town entrepreneur... -DS]

The tyranny of low price

If you build your business around being the lowest-cost provider, that’s all you’ve got. Everything you do has to be a race in that direction, because if you veer toward anything else (service, workforce, impact, design, etc.) then a competitor with a more single-minded focus will sell your commodity cheaper than you.

Cheapest price is the refuge for the marketer with no ideas left or no guts to implement the ideas she has.

Everyone needs to sell at a fair price. But unless you’ve found a commodity that must remain a commodity, a fair price is not always the lowest price. Not when you understand that price is just one of the many tools available.

A short version of this riff: The low-price leader really doesn’t need someone with your skills.
~

“If I were you…”

But of course, you’re not.

And this is the most important component of strategic marketing: we’re not our customer.

Empathy isn’t dictated More…

James Lee: Local Money…

In Mendo Island Transition on May 25, 2012 at 5:46 am

From JAMES LEE
Anderson Valley

‘Give me control of a nations money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws’ ~ Amschel Rothchilds

It is critical to understand when, how and why the privately owned, for profit, corporate Fed Reserve and their crony banksters plan to eliminate the dollar and convert us all in one fell swoop to a digital currency.

Less than 7% of all transactions are cash. Merchants, big and small, are now switching to the new Paypal Iphone swiping technology that attaches to YOUR iphone, as they undercut the 3% fee charged by the major credit card companies, making the conversion to a digital currency seamless.

“PayPal today launched a new device, called PayPal Here, in the US, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, that consists of a free, triangle shaped card reader and mobile phone application. The gadget connects into the top of iPhones and iPads allowing merchants to take payments on the go from any any of the four major credit cards (including American Express), PayPal accounts and even checks!”
http://www.business-opportunities.biz/2012/03/15/paypal-introduces-credit-card-swiping-iphone-device/

Spain, Italy and Greece have enacted strict (less than $1500 Euro) customer withdrawals of cash More…

Todd Walton: Austerity

In Todd Walton on May 25, 2012 at 5:09 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“When we deeply understand that actions bring results, it can motivate us to take active responsibility for our actions and our lives.” Joseph Goldstein

Planting time: kale, lettuce, carrots, peas, beets, broccoli. Hearty potato plants rise from the ground and promise a good harvest of spuds in a month or so. Look! A hundred and eight beautiful garlic plants are nearing fruition after many months of growing. As I work in my little garden, I think about the lunatics running our state and national governments, advocates of what they call austerity (but what is actually senseless cruelty and greed), and I imagine a gang of these crazy people surveying my garden and proclaiming, “These seeds and plants aren’t producing anything we can eat right now. They need to be taught a lesson. They need to tighten their belts and pull themselves up by their own root straps. Stop watering them. Stop feeding them. Don’t give them anything until they learn to grow without any assistance from anyone.”

“But…” I try to argue, “…vegetables require time and nurturing to eventually…”

“No buts,” say the lunatics. “No time. No nurturing. Look at those redwood trees over there. More…

Drop the Money Bomb on Monsanto — Two Days Left…

In Around the web on May 25, 2012 at 5:00 am

Moneybomb Monsanto Meter

Donate by Credit Card

Donate with PayPal

Donate by Mail/Phone

Between May 1 and May 26, a broad coalition of food, farm, health, public interest, and environmental groups all over the country, joined by leading organic food companies, will attempt to raise one million dollars to support the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, a citizens’ ballot initiative, and other state GMO-labeling campaigns.

If we reach our goal by May 26, we’ll receive a matching $1 million gift!*

Passing this law in California is the first critical step toward requiring GMO labeling in every state.

We’re almost there.

Please join the thousands who have already donated to this historic campaign by donating online, by mail or by phone before midnight Saturday.

If we all pitch in to help California pass this historic law to require mandatory GMO labeling, it’s only a matter of time before all of us, in every state in the US, will finally be able to know if the food we buy contains genetically engineered ingredients.

Big Biotech and Big Food More…

Where will you be when the Frackers come for Mendo?…

In Around the web on May 24, 2012 at 5:48 am

From ELLEN CANTAROW
TomDispatch
Thanks to Meca Wawona

The Environmental Nightmare You Know Nothing About

If the world can be seen in a grain of sand, watch out. As Wisconsinites are learning, there’s money (and misery) in sand – and if you’ve got the right kind, an oil company may soon be at your doorstep.

March in Wisconsin used to mean snow on the ground, temperatures so cold that farmers worried about their cows freezing to death. But as I traveled around rural townships and villages in early March to interview people about frac-sand mining, a little-known cousin of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” daytime temperatures soared to nearly 80 degrees – bizarre weather that seemed to be sending a meteorological message.

In this troubling spring, Wisconsin’s prairies and farmland fanned out to undulating hills that cradled the land and its people. Within their embrace, the rackety calls of geese echoed from ice-free ponds, bald eagles wheeled in the sky, and deer leaped in the brush. And for the first time in my life, I heard the thrilling warble of sandhill cranes.

Yet this peaceful rural landscape is swiftly becoming part of a vast assembly line in the corporate race for the last fossil fuels on the planet. The target: the sand in the land of the cranes.

Five hundred million years ago, an ocean surged here, shaping a unique wealth of hills and bluffs that, under mantles of greenery and trees, are sandstone. That sandstone contains a particularly pure form of crystalline silica. More…

Transition: Peak Money…

In Mendo Island Transition on May 24, 2012 at 5:30 am

From SHAUN CHAMBERLIN
darkoptimism.org

[The Strongbow Bankers video below is priceless... -DS]

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” – Raymond Williams

Last month I was one of forty or so attendees of the Transition ‘Peak Money’ day. It was a great collection of people, from theorists to community activists, and an important opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing us all as the glaring errors at the heart of mainstream economics start to take their toll. This post is far more personal reflection than report, as Rob Hopkins has already done a great job on that front.

The key theme that seemed to run throughout the day was of ‘collapse’. Sadly, travel problems meant I was an hour late to the event, but the first sessions I witnessed were reports from Transitioners in Portugal, Ireland and Greece on the impacts of the economic problems there. The talk was of collapse having already happened for many there, with statistics quoted including an 89% increase in Greek unemployment in three years, and Irish suicides having doubled since 2007.

This part of the day pulled no punches. Most of us were left grey and shaken as the harsh reality on the frontlines of the crisis was relayed. For me, a defining memory of the day was watching alternative economists in attendance sitting listening to this – people who have spent decades warning of these outcomes and trying to head them off – their heads shaking sadly with lips pursed, hands involuntarily coming to their faces in dismay as their Cassandra curse unfolds. Of course, the statistics were not new to them, but hearing these stories in person More…

15 Thought-Provoking Discussion Questions Every Book Club Should Ask Themselves…

In Books on May 24, 2012 at 5:08 am

From JULIEANNE SMOLINSKI
jezebel.com

Book clubs can be a wonderful way for like-minded people to get together and share their love of literature. Maybe you’re long out of college and miss the academic pleasure of “talking out” a book, or maybe you’d like to get more insights than reading alone can provide. Or maybe you just want an excuse to drink wine and jabber with girlfriends.

Some people have suggested that book clubs are a silly, middle class diversion for the kinds of pretentious bourgie women who want to have high minded discussions about books you buy at an airport so you can read it “before you see the movie.” The ever-reliable Daily Mail has some pretty hairy horror stories about a dark underbelly of mutual trade-paperback enjoyment, one populated by “show offs, drunks, and fibbers.”

To keep your book club on task, and to avoid it devolving into some kind of sycophantic bacchanal of people who buy sweaters on GILT group, try using discussion topics. Many bestsellers come pre-equipped with reader’s guides and discussion questions just for book clubs.

Here are a few that can be adapted to your book club for its specific needs.

1. During the sex scenes in the book, did you picture the other people in the book group also having to read the sex scenes and feel sort of weird about it? Why do you think we have so much trouble acknowledging our friends as sexual beings?

2. Who here owns a TV? Why, or why not?

3. Several people have noted key differences in structure between More…

Gene Logsdon: Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees and Trees Don’t Grow On Money

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on May 23, 2012 at 5:46 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I was so gratified to see Wendell Berry’s remarks in a recent interview (“Wendell Berry: Landsman” with Jim Leach in Humanities magazine, May/June 2012) where he makes a point about economics that is overlooked in these days when divisiveness rules the political roost. The general view is that the economic battle is between capitalism and socialism, but as Wendell observes, “both are industrial systems and they have made the same mistakes in some ways.”  Both have ignored “the propriety of scale and the standard of ecological health.”

Yes, yes, yes. But I would like to go farther (probably too far) than Wendell did. Both capitalism and socialism are similar industrial systems basically because both accept and practice the industrial idea that the fundamental tool to “growing an economy” is the ability to borrow money at compound interest rates. I certainly would be foolish to deny the effectiveness, maybe the necessity, of being able to borrow money. We borrowed to buy our first house and car. But seeing how borrowed money nearly ruined people I knew when I was growing up, I was determined never to borrow again if I could avoid it and I never did. Repaying a loan over a long period of time often means buying the house or car twice and if one carries credit card debt all the time, to paying for stuff more than three times.

Somehow this kind of insanity has become sanctified in our society as if it were holy scripture. The phrase “free enterprise” is uttered by its high priests with all the fervor of a biblical evangelist uttering “the Lord Jesus Christ.”  I remember More…

The Best Lies Money Can Buy…

In Around the web on May 23, 2012 at 5:40 am

From STEVE BENEN
Maddow Blog

The New York Times seems quite impressed with the latest attack ad from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which is poised to blanket the airwaves in swing states. The Times calls it “deeply researched,” “delicately worded,” and “low key.”

The paper neglected to mention another phrase: misleading to an offensive degree.

Jamelle Bouie had a good take on this:

As befitting a Karl Rove outfit, the claims in the ad are either misleading, or outright falsehoods. Citing a Reuters story from 2009 on conservative efforts to sink the bill, Crossroads GPS insinuates that the stimulus was a failure, despite wide consensus that the bill kept United States out of a depression, and significantly improved prospects for recovery.

The ad continues in this vein, blaming high insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act — when the cited article says otherwise — and blaming Obama for the increase in debt, despite the fact that under his administration, government spending has risen at a slower pace than any time in the last 60 years.

Indeed, the great irony of the ad is that it’s Karl Rove attacking Obama for the fiscal policies the president inherited from Rove’s old boss.

The Times write-up focuses on the ad’s efficacy, and I suppose it’s possible uninformed voters who are easily swayed by nonsense, policy gibberish, and outright falsehoods will find it compelling.

But perhaps now would be a good time to note that efficacy and honesty aren’t the same thing, and the latter matters more than the former.

The Crossroads attack ad is as cynical as politics can get, working from the assumption that voters are fools. More…

Romney The Liar Lies About Public Sector Jobs Again…

In Around the web on May 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

From ROMNEY THE LIAR

Willard continues to distort the economic record at every turn. Now he says that President Obama deliberately “bailed out” the public sector in his stimulus, and that the public sector needs to shrink. In point of fact, it already has. The facts are these:

Paul Krugman posted this chart last week:

Krugman explained, “That spike early on is Census hiring; once that was past, the Obama years shaped up as an era of huge cuts in public employment compared with previous experience. If public employment had grown the way it did under Bush, we’d have 1.3 million more government workers, and probably an unemployment rate of 7 percent or less.”

If you take all the job losses that have happened under President Obama, and all the job gains over the same period, the economy is still in the hole — but nearly 100% of the losses are from the loss of government jobs.

This may seem counterintuitive, and the right simply chooses not to even consider the facts on the merits, but the principal difference between our fragile recovery and a more robust recovery is the domestic austerity measures that have been in place — and served as a counter-stimulus for three years. More…

The Rise of the New Economy Movement…

In Around the web on May 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

From GAR ALPEROVITZ
AlterNet

Activists, theorists, organizations and ordinary citizens are rebuilding the American political-economic system from the ground up… The movement includes young and old, “Occupy” people, student activists, and what one older participant describes as thousands of “people in their 60s from the ’60s” rolling up their sleeves to apply some of the lessons of an earlier movement.

Just beneath the surface of traditional media attention, something vital has been gathering force and is about to explode into public consciousness. The “New Economy Movement” is a far-ranging coming together of organizations, projects, activists, theorists and ordinary citizens committed to rebuilding the American political-economic system from the ground up.

The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the “99 percent” in an ecologically sustainable and participatory community-building fashion. The name of the game is practical work in the here and now—and a hands-on process that is also informed by big picture theory and in-depth knowledge.

Thousands of real world projects — from solar-powered businesses to worker-owned cooperatives and state-owned banks — are underway across the country. Many are self-consciously understood as attempts to develop working prototypes in state and local “laboratories of democracy” that may be applied at regional and national scale when the right political moment occurs.

The movement includes young and old, “Occupy” people, student activists, and what one older participant describes as thousands of “people in their 60s More…

How reading fiction can make you a better cook…

In Around the web on May 22, 2012 at 6:15 am

From DARYA PINO
Summer Tomato
For J

It’s a little known fact that before I became interested in neuroscience (which was well before I became interested in food) I spent three years as a literature major at Berkeley. The power of language to whisk us away to other worlds, times and even into other people’s minds never ceases to astound me.

Fiction can often give me a better glimpse into a culture than even visiting, since the amount of time and exploration required to really get a sense for the mindset and lifestyle of the people who live there is substantial.

Excellent works of fiction transform me as a person as I internalize the vibe of a book, and what I read has the power to influence what music I listen to, how I dress, and even how I eat. When a book really pulls me in its hold can last for weeks or even months at a time.

For instance, it’s impossible for me to read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which I’ve done several times, without craving Spanish tapas and red wine for the better part of a month (this is also why Spanish food is one of my absolute favorite cuisines). The Last Chinese Chef had me exploring obscure alleyways in Chinatown in search of the best dumplings and peking duck, and before reading it I would have said Chinese food wasn’t really my jam.

Midnight’s Children, the meta-award winning book by Salman Rushdie, forever changed the way I think and feel about Indian food. Spices and heat permeate the characters and events in Midnight’s Children, which is one of the literary tools Rushdie uses to portray his native culture. My obsession with Indian food lasted for months as I read this and other works by Rushdie, since I couldn’t stop reading him after finishing the first. More…

The Pacific Ocean is Dying…

In Around the web on May 22, 2012 at 5:58 am

From NATION OF CHANGE

Just prior to the Supermoon of March 18th, 2011, the world witnessed a natural and manmade disaster of epic proportions. What transpired off the coast of Honshu Island, Japan on March 11 has forever altered the planet and irremediably affected the global environment. Whereas the earthquake and tsunami proved to be truly apocalyptic events for the people of Japan, the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima is proving to be cataclysmic for the entire world.

Most of the world community is still unaware of the extremely profound and far-reaching effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster has had. If the nations of the world really understood the implications of the actual ‘fallout’ – past, current and future – the current nuclear energy paradigm would be systematically shut down. For those of us who are in the know, it is incumbent upon each of us to disseminate the relevant information/data necessary to forever close down the nuclear power industry around the globe.

There is now general agreement that the state of the art of nuclear power generation is such that it was deeply flawed and fundamentally dangerous from the very beginning. This fact was completely understood to be the case by the industry insiders and original financiers of every nuclear power plant ever built. Nuclear engineers had a very good understanding of just how vulnerable the design, engineering and architecture was at the startup of this industry. Nevertheless, they proceeded with this ill-fated enterprise at the behest of who?

Therefore, this begs the question, “Why would such an inherently unsafe technology and unstable design be implemented worldwide in the first place?”

More importantly, “Who ought to be responsible for mitigating this ongoing planetary nuclear disaster?” And, is there any practical way this predicament can be fixed? Is there technology More…

Mendocino County Today: May 21, 2012…

In Around Mendo Island on May 21, 2012 at 7:36 am

From BRUCE ANDERSON
TheAVA

[Bruce's bracing view of the world, available daily, not to be missed. -DS]

TRAVIS T. HIP from the KSAN days has died in his sleep. Services will be held next Saturday (26th of May in Silver City Nevada.

A READER sends along this accompanying note: From his perch in the high desert of western Nevada, remote control and cup in hand, Chan Laughlin, aka Travis T. Hipp, (“the poor hippie’s Paul Harvey”) pontificated to the world every morning about politics, truth, justice, and modern life. One of the few remaining practitioners of free-form, seat-of-your-pants radio commentary, he worked with few notes and distilled the days events into greater truths that sometimes surprise even himself. Before he died, Chan said he is “still alive and only slightly wounded” in his latest battle with the authorities. They raided his house last year and charged him with felony marijuana trafficking. But all the charges were dropped after the cops failed to produce evidence of any crime.
” “KPIG is expanding slowly and I get a ten bucks a day raise for every new station,” he bragged, “so I am finally making as much as I did at KNEW in 1968, not counting inflation. At this rate my career will take off at 75 years of age, and my fame as the voice of the geriatric revolution will go down in history! Play Politics but keep your powder dry!”

FROM HANK SIMS’ crucial HumCo blog, LostCoastOutpost.com: “The Very Last Chapter of the Reggae War: Dimmick Ranch Under Foreclosure. A legal notice in this morning’s Times-Standard mentions that the Dimmick Ranch — one-time home to ‘Reggae Rising,’ the rogue offshoot in the Late Great SoHum Reggae Wars — is under foreclosure. Redwood Capital Bank is scheduled to auction off the property on the courthouse steps on June 7, after owner Tom Dimmick, who once had hoped to transform his family property into a world-class entertainment venue, defaulted on a $1 million loan. The Reggae Wars broke out in 2006, when Dimmick and concert promoter Carol Bruno attempted to wrest control More…

Transition: New Film Showing Tonight in Ukiah 5/21/12 at 6:30pm

In Mendo Island Transition on May 21, 2012 at 6:53 am


TRANSITION UKIAH VALLEY
PRESENTS

In Transition 2.0
Trailer here

Join us and become inspired!

The Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak Street

Monday, May 21st
6:30 PM

$5-10 Donation requested

This film is an inspirational immersion into the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  You’ll hear about communities printing their own money, growing food, localizing their economies and setting up community power stations.  Here is a story of hope, responding to uncertain times with solutions and optimism.  Join us and learn how you can help prepare our own community for a more resilient future.

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an international localization movement to build community resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic instability.

Contact:  707-462-9405

A Fiscally Sponsored Program of the Cloud Forest Institute.
TUV Film/Speaker Series Sponsored & Supported by S.A.C.
~~

How the Conservative Worldview Quashes Critical Thinking — and What That Means For Our Kids’ Future…

In Around the web on May 21, 2012 at 6:50 am

From SARA ROBINSON
Alternet

The education of our children is a core cultural and political choice that reflects the deepest differences between liberals and conservatives.

The Conservative War On Education continues apace, with charters blooming everywhere, high-stakes testing cementing its grip on classrooms, and legislators and pundits wondering what we need those stupid liberal arts colleges for anyway. (Isn’t college about job prep? Who needs to know anything about art history, anthropology or ancient Greek?)

Amid the din, there’s a worrisome trend: liberals keep affirming right-wing talking points, usually without realizing that they’re even right wing. Or saying things like, “The education of our children is a non-partisan issue that should exist outside of any ideological debate.”

The hell it is. People who say stuff like this have no idea what they’re talking about. The education of our children is a core cultural and political choice that reflects the deepest differences between liberals and conservatives — because every educational conversation must start with the fundamental philosophical question: What is an education for?

Our answers to that question could not be more diametrically opposed.

A Question of Human Nature

Our beliefs about the purpose of education are rooted in even deeper beliefs about the basic nature of humanity.

All conservative politics springs from one central premise: they believe that human beings are essentially fallen and deeply flawed. More…

Herb Ruhs: My response to ‘Marx For Bobos?’…

In Around Mendo Island on May 18, 2012 at 5:00 am

From HERB RUHS
Boonville

[Herb responds to yesterday's article... -DS]

Less is more?

The rule of conquest, the basic operating system of this world for the last five thousand years or so, states that more is the result of taking from others. It is the rule of radical individualism promoted by sociopathic thinking, which, in turn, is promoted by actual sociopaths, who’s brains are wired without a conscience, who prosper and take control of the machinery of competition the better to prey on the weak who actually have our brains wired to allow for a conscience. For those for whom this is a new idea, please read The Sociopath Next Door.

No sustainable culture can successfully tolerate the elevation of these mental defectives to positions of power. The remarkable thing of our time is that the destruction and collapse routinely caused by the assumption of power by this segment of the population is now affecting the entire world rather than isolated cultures. Rome reduced much of the world under its control to a state of collapse, socially and environmentally. But this is true of all expansionist cultures which are all ruled by sociopathic individuals who transfer their diseased attitudes to the general culture and precipitate collapse. Only bottom up, complex and evolving systems of governance, sans ruthless competition, have any track record of sustainability. Marx and the early anarchists understood this fact of nature but remained under the spell of a fundamentally sociopathic world view. More…

Todd Walton: Everything Connected

In Around the web on May 18, 2012 at 4:55 am


Todd reads from Buddha in a Teacup

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“When we express our true nature, we are human beings. When we do not, we do not know what we are.” Shunryu Suzuki

Planting sugar snap pea seeds yesterday, I was thrilled to find the raised bed rife with earthworms, young and old. We garden in soil known hereabouts as pygmy, which left to it’s own devices will not grow vegetables or much of anything except bonsai pines and huckleberries and the nefarious Scotch Broom. Thus we have eight raised beds in boxes and four beds in the ground, all requiring manure and compost in addition to the local soil to give us a decent harvest.

This past fall I scored a truckload of rabbit manure and I surmise it is this precious poop that has proven such an elixir to the worms. When I moved here six and a half years ago and set up my above-ground composting bin (and before the bears demolished that flimsy plastic thing) I was dismayed to find nary a worm coming up out of the ground and through the slots in the floor of the bin to gobble the tasty leftovers and give birth to myriad wormlets. In Berkeley where I gardened a small plot for eleven years, my composting bin (a gift from the city to encourage us to do the rot thing), produced gazillions of worms in collaboration with the local ground. But in pure pygmy soil, earthworms are as scarce as pumas, and it took a good three years of feeding massive amounts of worm food to the soil before any sort of worm population took hold. More…

My Town in Transition: How to change the story of the place where you are…

In Mendo Island Transition on May 18, 2012 at 4:50 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[Click: Transition 2.0 Film Showing Next Monday Evening 5/21/12 in Ukiah -DS]

The video of this is here.

“Hello.  I want to tell you a story which pulls together a lot of what we’ve heard already and looks at what that might look like in the context of one place. And it’s a story which I think can change the world. It’s a story which already is changing the world. It’s the story of my town, Totnes, in Devon.  A town of about 8,500 people, midway between Exeter and Plymouth.   But before I can tell you the story what I really want to tell you about Totnes, I have to get another one out of the way first.

Totnes was once referred to as the “Capital of New Age Chic”, that’s ‘chic’ not ‘sheep’. The idea of a “Capital of New Age Sheep” is too horrible to imagine. The Western Morning News, the local paper, in an article which I’ll be coming back to later, once referred to the average resident of Totnes as a “sandal wearing, crystal gazing soap carver subsisting entirely on brown rice and organic parsnips”. And Matt Harvey, our local poet, says that when you’ve lived there too long your body starts to secrete a hormone called ‘Totnesterone’, where your masculine and feminine come into perfect balance with each other.

More…

Can a Sense of Purpose Slow Alzheimer’s?

In Around the web on May 17, 2012 at 5:40 am

From LANE WALLACE
The Atlantic

New evidence suggests a sense of meaning in life can mitigate symptoms of the degenerative disease, even when the illness’s harmful plaque has already accumulated in the brain.  

[...] From a neurobiological perspective, two of the biggest markers of Alzheimer’s disease are an accumulation of plaque and what neurologists call “tangles” in the pathways of the brain. The researchers did not find any physical difference in the level of plaque or tangles in the brains of people who rated highly on the purpose of life scale, versus those who did not. (A strong sense of purpose in life does not, in other words, prevent the accumulation of potentially harmful material in the brain.)

But when the Rush researchers looked at participants whose brains, upon autopsy, had identical levels of plaque and tangles, and then correlated that with how those people had rated in terms of both cognitive functioning and a strong purpose of life — controlling for other factors ranging from overall physical health, exercise, education, and IQ to personality traits and inclinations for depression and other psychological issues — the people who rated highly on the purpose of life scale had a 30 percent lower rate of cognitive decline, over the whole study period, than those with low scores on the purpose of life scale.

What that means, according to the researchers, is that a strong sense of purpose in life evidently strengthens or provides a higher level of what’s known as “neural reserve” in the brain. More…

The Art of Fermentation…

In Books on May 17, 2012 at 5:17 am

[Just arrived at Mulligan Books & Seeds... -DS]

From SHARON ASTYK

Fermentation: To Infinity and Beyond!

I get a lot of books for review, and for the most part, they are wonderful surprises. Because I receive and read so many books, I rarely sit around saying “Hey, where’s my review copy of…X?” Generally I’ve got a giant pile of books that I need to get to anyway, so I’m much more likely to say “Oh, I didn’t realize X was out.” So let us first note that I was so anxious for my review copy of Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation that I actually sent emails to beg for a copy – only to find that UPS had stuffed this book and another in a really weird place and it had been waiting for me for weeks.

Katz’s Wild Fermentation has had pride of place on my (ridiculously extensive, remember i wrote a book about food preservation) shelves of books on food preservation and storage. Not only does it sit there, but I pull it out ALL the TIME (which honestly cannot be said about most of my cookbooks) and after years of looking at it, still find new ideas. So to say I was excited to receive The Art of Fermentation, three times the size, hardcover and unbelievably comprehensive was an understatement. More…

Marx for ‘Bobos’?…

In Around the web on May 17, 2012 at 5:15 am

From JOHN MICHAEL GREER

The twilight of protest

Bobos are terribly eager to see themselves as the saviors of the world—that’s the bohemian side—and will do absolutely anything to fulfill this role, so long as it doesn’t require them to give up any of the benefits of their privileged status—that’s the bourgeois side.

Over the last four months or so, as this blog has sketched out the trajectory of empires in general, and then traced the intricate history of America’s empire in particular, I’ve been avoiding a specific issue. That avoidance hasn’t come from any lack of awareness on my part, and if it had been, comments and emails from readers asking when I was going to get around to discussing the issue would have taken care of that in short order. No, it’s simply a natural reluctance to bring up a subject that has to be discussed sooner or later, but is guaranteed to generate far more heat than light.

The subject? The role of protest movements in the decline and fall of the American empire.

That’s an issue sufficiently burdened with tangled emotions and unstated agendas that even finding a good starting place for the discussion is a challenge. Fortunately I have some assistance, courtesy of Owen Lloyd, who is involved with an organization called Deep Green Resistance and recently wrote a review of my book The Blood of the Earth. It’s by no means a bad review. Quite the contrary, Lloyd made a serious effort to grapple with the issues that book tried to raise, and by and large succeeded; where he failed, the misunderstandings More…

5 Whole Food Meals that are Cheaper and Faster than Fast Food…

In Around the web on May 17, 2012 at 5:00 am

Sausage and avocado

From CARA
Health, Home, and Happiness

When we used to eat fast food, it was no problem for the two of us to spend $20 on a meal, only to have indigestion immediately after and then be hungry again an hour after that.  Whole foods can be just as fast, without the side effects.

There really shouldn’t be side effects to what you consume as food.

These are 5 easy meals that can serve 2 + 2 little eaters for less than $20 and take less time than driving through the local fast food chain. Have you seen the lines at the drive through around meal time?! I’m giving us 30 minutes to get all this done, with minimal dishes, $20 for ingredients, and making the meals somewhat balanced- not perfect, but good enough that we’ll have plenty of energy and not be hungry right away.

1. Kefir Cocoa Almond Butter Smoothie More…

Why Such A Lack of Common Sense About Dogs?

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on May 16, 2012 at 7:30 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I can’t believe what I am seeing in dog food advertisements. Good old Rover is shown licking people on the face, once even licking a child on the lips. This is so disgustingly unhygienic to me that I have to wonder if there is something going on here I don’t know about. Doesn’t the present generation of pet owners understand where else that dog might have been licking moments earlier? Do I have to spell it out?

We all used to know that dogs carry parasites that can be transmitted to humans. By parasites I mean worms. Yes I know that the well-cared for pet dog is routinely wormed and medicated just like children are, but you don’t want any dog licking your child on the lips. The risk is too great. If you don’t believe me, read any straightforward discussion of animal hygiene and note how widespread is the problem of humans getting worms from pets, especially dogs.

I am constantly amazed at people who get so distraught over the idea of using composted dog manure for garden fertilizer but who think it is just so cute when cuddly little Bow-Wow drools all over them. I think the problem traces directly to the lack of experience in husbandry that our present culture suffers from. You can deify or humanize pets if you wish and provide them with luxuries even lots of humans can’t afford, (and then complain about paying taxes to help people on welfare) but in the end, an animal is an animal and it does not think like a human. Dogs have been known to pick up a baby and shake it to death in innocent play. More…

Christina Aanestad: Love & Thievery in San Francisco…

In Around the web on May 16, 2012 at 7:00 am

From CHRISTINA AANESTAD
The Mendocino Country Independent
Anderson Valley

[From one of our county's heroes... DS]

After a sweet night of lovin with a man of interest, the city I love became cold.

It was a fun night — he treated me well — I’ll spare you the delicious details, besides, all good things must come to an end. By the next day, tho, he was cool, aloof, and then sick… waves of reality put out my passion; so we spent the night laughing instead.  Bitter sweet, as I slept alone, with no touch and woke up twice thinking, ‘I should just leave.’ Spirit was talking but I wasn’t listening.

Unbeknownst to my conscious mind, hoodrats were ramshackling my car outside. They took a small black velvet purse, my favorite these days, and popped the trunk of my car, where they found the gold. I left my black bag tucked away, safely in my trunk, I thought, with my laptop, the only back up to my laptop, all my radio equipment, my digital video camera and photo camera.

Those hood rats landed about $3,000 worth of equipment that night; at least someone scored.

When I stepped out into the sunny streets of San Francisco the next day, I immediately noticed my trunk slightly ajar — thieves.

Just like that–within hours, minutes perhaps, my life’s work was gone. The last 4 years of reporting, the audio, photo and video footage of Ecuador — the stories I reported about More…

How lyin’ smilin’ Romney destroyed thousands of jobs and lives and stole his millions from common people…

In Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on May 16, 2012 at 6:55 am

From ROMNEY ECONOMICS

“I never thought of what I do for a living as job creation. … The primary goal of private equity is to create wealth for your investors.” –Marc B. Walpow, former managing partner at Bain Capital

With Dade Behring, Mitt Romney and his investors took over a healthy company and loaded it with debt. Rather than sell the company, they then had Dade take out even more loans to buy out their shares, driving the company into bankruptcy. Nearly 3,000 workers lost their jobs, while Romney and his partners made more than $250 million in profit.

Kansas City’s GST Steel was a successful company that had been making steel rods for 105 years when Mitt Romney and his partners took control in 1993. They cut corners and extracted profit from the business at every turn, placing it deeply in debt. When the company eventually declared bankruptcy, workers were denied their full pensions and health insurance, and the federal government was forced to step in and bail out the pension fund.

In the late 1980s, Mitt Romney and his partners bought up hundreds of successful small clothing stores and combined them to form Stage Stores. Romney and his team loaded up the company with debt, and then, when the company was at its height, sold nearly all their shares at an enormous profit. In less than three years, the stock had collapsed and Stage was forced to declare bankruptcy.
~~

Don Sanderson: A Madness…

In Around Mendo Island on May 15, 2012 at 6:25 am


Don and Becky

From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”  – Robert F. Kennedy, 1966

Like a Viking berserker, we swing our clubs wildly, determinedly destroying our natural Earth, wracking extinctions beyond the worst recognized to this point, killing the ocean, disrupting the climate, exhausting vital resources, and spreading human poverty and cruelty into every corner without, it appears, a dollop of guilt. This strikes me as symptomatic of madness. So, I went digging for verification beginning with a definition of “mad”, which I summarize from Miriam-Webster:

1 disordered in mind : Crazy, Insane

2 a : completely unrestrained by reason and judgment : utterly foolish : Senseless b : incapable of being explained, interpreted, or accounted for : Illogical

3 carried away by intense anger : Enraged, Furious  b : keenly displeased : Angry, Irked

4 carried away by enthusiasm, infatuation, or desire

5 intensely excited, distraught, or frantic

6 marked by intense and often chaotic activity : Wild, Furious

To which, I compared that for “Sane”:

1 : mentally sound : possessing a rational mind : having the mental faculties in such condition as to anticipate and judge of the effect of one’s actions

2 : proceeding from a sound mind : being without delusions or prejudice More…

60 Million Cancers From Nuclear Weapons Radiation…

In Around the web on May 15, 2012 at 5:55 am

From

‘We are living through the worst public health scandal in history’ — 60 million developed cancer from nuclear weapons tests and government data backs it up.

In the videos here, acclaimed nuclear industry scientist Dr. Chris Busby says we are living in the worst public health scandal in history proclaiming that 60 million people have developed cancer from radioactive fallout due to nuclear weapons tests.

Busby will surely be attacked for his statements by nuclear apologists but the truth be told the US government’s own data goes a long way toward substantiating Busby’s claims.

To be precise, Busby claims 60 million cancers due to the radiation fallout from nuclear weapons test while US government data shows a slightly lower number of cancers – about 40 million cancers – due to background radiation in the United States. At the same time that same government data shows  132.76 million will get cancer in the United States and nearly 70 million of those people will die.

What is in dispute here is the margin of error between the governments 40 million cancers due to radiation versus Busby’s research showing 60 million and I am inclined to accept Busby’s research over the government’s which is clearly influences by the nuclear industry along with lobbyists from other special interests groups.

But what the government won’t admit is that the so-called “background radiation” is largely the result of nuclear weapons tests and those levels More…

Making the Internet Safe for Anarchy…

In Around the web on May 15, 2012 at 5:46 am

From DMITRY ORLOV
cluborlov

As the electric grid goes down people will cease to be docile and become seriously angry.

Suppose you wanted to achieve some significant political effect; say, prevent or stop an unjust war. You could organize gigantic demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets, shouting slogans and waving anti-war banners. You could write angry editorials in newspapers and on blogs denouncing the falseness of the casus belli. You could write and phone and email your elected and unelected representatives, asking them to put a stop to it, and they would respond that they will of course try, and by the way could you please make a campaign contribution? You could also seethe and steam and lose sleep and appetite over the disgusting thing your country is about to do or is already doing. Would that stop the war? Alas, no. How many people protested the war in Iraq? And what did that achieve? Precisely nothing.

You see, the slogan “speak truth to power” has certain limitations. The trouble with this slogan is that it ignores the fact that power will not listen and the fact that the people already know the truth and even make jokes about it. Those in power may appear to be persuaded or dissuaded, but only if it is to their advantage to do so. They will also sometimes choose to co-opt, and then quietly subvert, popular movements, in order to legitimize themselves in the eyes of those who would otherwise oppose them. But, in general, they cannot be shifted from pursuing a course they see as advantageous by mere rhetoric from those outside their ranks. Some weaker regimes may be sensitive to embarrassment, provided the criticisms are voiced by high-profile individuals in internationally recognized positions of authority, but these same criticisms backfire More…

Women are better than men…

In Around the web on May 14, 2012 at 4:50 am

From ROGER EBERT

Women are nicer than men. There are exceptions. Most people of both sexes are probably fairly nice, given the nature of their upbringing and opportunities. But in terms of their lifelong natures, women are kinder, more empathetic, more generous. And the sooner more of them take positions of power, the better our chances as a species.

This occurred to me while watching a forthcoming movie named “Where Do We Go Now?” It could have occurred during dozens or hundreds of movies. It’s set in a tiny village in Lebanon, where Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully side-by-side for generations. Now the local men have become worked up by strife they see on TV, and have decided that even in their village, without any provocation, they need to start hating and fighting each other.

The women are tired of burying their sons and husbands. They conspire to distract the men from their foolish chest-beating. They stage fake miracles. They sneak hashish into their diets. In a bold masterstroke, they import a troupe of exotic Ukrainian dancers who are touring Lebanon.

Enough about the movie, except for this simple mind experiment: Can you imagine a movie in which Muslim and Christian women start fighting with religion as their excuse, and the men band together to import go-go boys? Not easily. The gender roles in the film seem to go without saying.

I’ve been noticing news items lately about how women are gaining in many ways. They now represent a majority of U.S. college students, and 60% of all graduate students. Their income levels are rising, although they still don’t have parity with men. They are far less involved in violent crimes, and crime of all sorts. They are safer drivers. A child in a single-parent home is likely to be better off if the parent is a women. In the U.S. the odds are that 80% of the single parents will be women; having given birth, they stick around to raise children, while men are more likely to be missing. More…

Are the Elite in Control or Are We in a Driverless Car?

In Around the web on May 14, 2012 at 4:45 am

From JOHN MICHAEL GREER

The Descent into Stasis

Last weeks’ post attempted, with the help of the ancient Greek philosopher Polybius, to trace out the trajectory that democracies—and in particular the United States—tend to follow across time. The pattern that Polybius outlined, and that American politics has cycled through three times so far in the course of its history, begins with most of the nation’s political power concentrated in a single person, and follows the diffusion of power to the point that the entire political system settles into a gridlock only a massive crisis can break. Just now, according to that model, we are in the stage of gridlock, and thus of maximum diffusion of power.

Now of course this interpretation flies in the face of the standard narrative that surrounds power in America today. Both sides of the political spectrum these days like to insist that too much power is in the hands of the other side, at least when the other side is in the White House or has a majority in Congress. The further from the mainstream you go, the more strident the voices you’ll hear insisting that some small group or other has seized absolute power over the US political system and is running things for their own advantage. The identity of the small group in question varies wildly—it’s hard to think of anyone who hasn’t been accused, at some point in the last half century or so, of being the secret elite that runs everything—but the theory that some small group or other has all the power that everybody else seems to lack is accepted nearly everywhere. Whether it’s Occupy Wall Street talking about the nefarious 1%, or the Tea Party talking about the equally nefarious liberal elite, the conviction that power has been concentrated in the wrong hands is ubiquitous in today’s America.

It’s an appealing notion, especially if you want to find somebody to blame for the current state of affairs in this country, and of course hunting for scapegoats is a popular sport whenever times are hard. Still, I’d like to suggest More…

Gina Covina: Laughing Frog Farm News…

In Around Mendo Island, Gina Covina on May 14, 2012 at 4:00 am

From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

Days in the 80s, nights above 40. we may after all be heading into that rare season with an early start. If so, we’re ready for those mythical July tomatoes. Just about all our summer crops are planted out, most in the ground a month earlier than ever. I’m still ready to cover everything in a freeze, but I’m beginning to think that may not be necessary.

Once in the ground the plants face new dangers, chief among them – so far this year – gophers. What about our newest hoop house, the one with a hardware-cloth liner for its raised bed, with seams carefully wired together and edges turned to climb the sides? Oh yeah, the “gopher-proof” one. Last week I found a potato plant pulled most of the way underground in that armored bed, only its wilted top showing. A line of dino kale along one side has lost half its number, unnoticed at first because the plants disappear so completely, leaving no trace but a small hole. So much for my vision of the dino kale as a row of miniature palm trees in the hoop house landscape. Not to mention so much for gopher-proofing. (My theory: the young apprentice rodent-hunter cats, playing with a gopher caught outside the hoop house, casually toss it up over the hay bale side, as it squeaks “No, anywhere but there, don’t throw me into that gopherless realm of the most delectable roots.”)

The bonus in all this planting is the simultaneous harvest of winter crops to make room. The glorious nettle plants made the newest 10’ x 10’ compost pile more than a foot taller (nettles make for a fine-textured mineral-rich compost). Kale, spinach, and chard supply us with daily green smoothies, greens for friends and neighbors, and popular chicken feed. Yellow dock and dandelion roots (not purposefully grown as winter crops but encouraged around the edges of the gardens More…

My drop-out homesteading story…

In Around the web on May 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

From RAN PRIEUR
reddit

Ran’s been posting a lot about dropping out recently, so I thought I’d share my own story. I’ve actually been wanting to write something about this for a while, but I have been having trouble organizing my thoughts around what exactly I want to say. As such, this may be a bit long winded and disorganized, but hopefully it’s useful to some on the dropout path.

I won’t go into details about how I got interested in breaking free from the dominant system. I guess I was fortunate enough to read the right things and think critically about my life. In the course of a few years, my whole outlook on life was radically transformed, and there was no going back. Since then, I’ve been working to break free from the oppression of the dominant system.

About a year and a half ago, My wife and I moved to Bellingham, Washington, to a rental house a few miles outside of the city to start our homesteading journey. Our lot was a couple acres, with fruit trees and a grass area around 4000 square feet that we could turn into a garden. When I do something, I tend to go all out, so I decided to have a huge garden that used nearly the whole 4000 square foot area. I was working from home, so I was able to take lots of breaks during the day to work in the garden.

At first, the work was fun. Being outside and using simple tools. Planting and watching things grow. Harvesting and eating the freshest most delicious vegetables I have ever had. And then, it just got old and tiring. Harvesting pounds and pounds of veggies every day. Washing, sorting, freezing, drying, fermenting, cooking. It just became so much work, and I stopped enjoying it for the most part. Not to mention the isolation. We had moved without having jobs in town. Jobs are the main social network for people out of school, so this turned out to make things very difficult. We made a big effort to go to events and meet people More…

Todd Walton: Laughing

In Todd Walton on May 11, 2012 at 6:20 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.” Mel Brooks

Once upon a time, so many years ago it might have been another lifetime, I got two kittens, a boy and girl, and after much thought and research named them Boy and Girl. Boy was an orange tabby, Girl was a gray tabby, and in the hallowed tradition of kittens, they played and slept and mewed and ate and clawed things and were wonderfully cute.

When they were about four months old, Boy and Girl played a particular game that made me laugh until I cried. No matter how many times I watched them play this game, I laughed until I cried. Sometimes other people would watch with me as the kittens played this particular game, and some of these people laughed, too, and a few of them even laughed until they cried; but there were other people who watched the game and did not laugh at all, which was amazing to me, and troubling. Here is the game the kittens played.

A heavy brown ceramic vase about fourteen-inches high, round at the bottom and narrowing somewhat at the top, stood on a brick terrace. Girl would chase Boy onto the terrace and Boy would jump into the vase. Girl would sit next to the vase, listening to Boy inside, and when Boy would pop his head up out of the vase, Girl would leap up and try to catch him, and Boy would drop back down into the vase. Then Girl would stand on her hind legs and reach into the vase with her forepaws and Boy would shoot his paws up to fight Girl’s paws, or Boy might leap out of the vase and the chase would resume. Or Girl would be inside the vase with Boy outside and the vase would tip over in the midst of their roughhousing and out would spill Girl.

Why were their antics so hilarious to me? More…

Will Parrish: Wine Country’s Dr. Sociopath

In Around the web on May 11, 2012 at 6:08 am

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

To paraphrase Upton Sinclair’s 1923 book The Goose Step: A Study of American Education, some of the greatest sociopaths in this country’s history have affixed their names to university buildings in an effort to burnish their reputations.

Sonoma State University provides a perfect illustration. One of the individuals most criminally culpable for the predatory banking practices that led to the 2008 economic meltdown, former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, donated $12 million to help construct a new music venue on campus. The main concert hall, adjoining lawn, and commons performance venues are now named after Mr. Weill and Mrs. Weill, whose name is Joan.

SSU will go even further in the effort to plaster over Philanthropist-Cum-Banking Crook Weill’s reputation this Saturday when, as part of the university’s annual commencement ceremony, SSU President Ruben Armiñana will bestow him with an honorary doctorate. In other words, a public university is giving an advanced degree to someone on the basis of their making hundreds of millions of dollars engineering mega-scams that have immiserated millions of people around the world, and who subsequently gave a relatively small portion of the loot to one program of the university, which has suffered massive budgets cuts largely due to the political and economic aftermath of same said mega-scams.

Weill’s honorary degree has rightfully aroused strong opposition in Sonoma County, including from many people associated with the Occupy groups in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. They are conducting a protest of the commencement activities. More info is at http://shameonssu.org/ .

One of the questions worth pondering in all this, however More…

James Lee: My Response to Movie ‘Thrive’ Review…

In Around Mendo Island on May 11, 2012 at 5:34 am

From JAMES LEE
Boonville

[Jamie responds to this post that appeared here yesterday which included my headline and intro... -DS]

Though I have a lot of respect for Rob Hopkins and Dave Smith it pisses me off when we, who do our own deep research, who think our own independent thoughts, who think critically, who come to our own conclusions, who work tirelessly to be the change we must see, get labeled a (pick one or more) libertarian, egalitarian, liberal, conservative, tea party hack, red, blue or ‘jerk’ because of our independently derived beliefs that there really is an Agenda to deceive, control and depopulate the many.

It is accepted fact by many that Nikola Tesla did discover, and was able to create, ‘Free Energy’ in 1905…and then had his lab and his life destroyed by the Robber Baron J.P. Morgan (see J.P. Morgan Bank of today) because the powerful elite at the time would not be able to make money on ‘free’.

It is also fact that our school books teach that Thomas Edison discovered electricity when it is actually the alternating current we use today was of sole the design of Mr. Telsa. In gruesome capitalist fashion, Mr. Edison used to torture and willingly killed puppies and other small animals at World’s Fair’s using Telsa’s AC to discredit him. He also maneuvered to have the first electric chair in prison use AC to show the world how ‘dangerous’ it was.

One should also re-search the work of Eugene Mallove, former MIT Chief Science Writer, who was murdered after he was ridden out of MIT and founded the publication “Infinite Energy” in 1995.

More…

Why the Movie ‘Thrive’ is Just Another Crock of Libertarian Bullshit…

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on May 10, 2012 at 6:03 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[This silly magical-thinking propaganda garbage pisses me off because these smooth smirking self-aggrandizing jerks so dishonestly and deliberately prey on those who care... -DS]

What do you do when you are the heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune and you have spent years surrounding yourself with new agey thinking and conspiracy theories? You make a film like ‘Thrive‘, the latest conspiracy theory movie that is popping up all over the place.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me “have you seen ‘Thrive’?” Well I have now, and, to be frank, it’s dangerous tosh which deserves little other than our derision. It is also a very useful opportunity to look at a worldview which, according to Georgia Kelly writing at Huffington Post, masks “a reactionary, libertarian political agenda that stands in jarring contrast with the soothing tone of the presentation”.

Visually the film is like some kind of Star Trek fan movie crossed with a National Geographic wildlife film, and is largely built around Gamble’s own years of ‘research’ into the question of what it is that “stops life on earth from thriving”. A reasonable question to ask, but his approach can hardly be called ‘research’ due to the low standards he accepts as ‘evidence’ and his all-round lack of critical analysis. His research, such as it is, is cherry-picked to deepen and support his established worldview, rather than the worldview being built from a careful analysis of the evidence. As we’ll see, this is a dangerous foundation.

So here’s the film’s argument in a nutshell. Humanity is killing itself and the world around it because free energy sources are being deliberately kept from us, cures for cancer are being kept from us, all because we are controlled by an invisible elite who want to create a ‘new world order’ More…

Here’s Where We Are — The Oil Journey…

In Around the web on May 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute Museletter

This month’s newsletter comes in 2 parts. The first part is what I hope you will find a useful and timely FAQ on current issues. It is the culmination of my experience from Q&A sessions during recent lecture tours. It is also a key part of the support kit for budding presenters out there who want to make use of Post Carbon Institute’s new customizable presentation “YOU ARE HERE: The Oil Journey”*. Part 2 is a new essay on gasoline—what it is, and what it means to us.

Top 11 FAQs for “Oil Journey” Presenters

I’ve been giving lectures on Peak Oil for over a decade now, and always look forward to the question period after the main show. It’s an opportunity to interact with the audience, and to see where my presentation may need tweaking or where my thinking may be shallow or incorrect.

Now Post Carbon Institute is offering a tool to help others who wish to give presentations about our global sustainability crisis—a beautiful PowerPoint called “YOU ARE HERE: The Oil Journey,” featuring a script and images that are geared to general audience with little prior understanding of the issue. Presenters of “YOU ARE HERE” are likely to be bombarded with a lot of the same questions I’ve heard over the years, so I thought it might be helpful if I compiled some of those. Other presenters may have answers to these questions different from mine, and that’s of course fair; consider these to be mere examples, suggestions, or conversation openers.

Here are the top 11, along with brief sample replies and some resources for further reading.

1. But what about natural gas? I’ve heard we had a 100 year supply. Can’t we use natural gas More…

You Probably Don’t ‘Have Time’ for this Maurice Sendak Interview…

In Around the web on May 10, 2012 at 5:40 am

From SIERRA VOICES

Terry Gross of NPR’s “Fresh Air” interviewed Maurice Sendak four times over several decades, the first time in the mid-1980s and most recently several months ago. Her show yesterday was a compilation of all those interviews, a full hour dedicated to Sendak.

Radio is not so fashionable these days, and most of us don’t “have time” to listen to interviews, but I have to say this is the finest work Terry Gross has ever done. You get a real sense of Sendak’s tortured and in the end joyful and completely realized life as an artist and as a human being.

In one of the interviews, Sendak explains to Gross why he stopped doing book signings for children, and why he stopped visiting kids in their classrooms: he realized that he had become one of those frightening and problematic adults that many of his monsters were meant to depict!

One little boy who had been standing in line with his copy of “Where The Wild Things Are” — upon being pushed forward by his father for Sendak’s signature — defiantly and bravely screamed “Don’t crap-up my book!!!”

Sendak loved this kid, and took the father aside to plead mercy for him.

In the course of these four interviews over the years, he developed a trust in Terry Gross and clearly a fondness for her. In the last interview several months ago, Sendak — who had always been obsessed with death (in a good Buddhist way, it seems to me, although he was actually a secular jew and a dedicated atheist) — in the last interview he told Terry “I’ll cry my way to the grave,” and a little later, “I’m not afraid of death” and a little after that “I’ll probably die before you, which is good because I won’t have to cry over you.” More…

The Real Hunger Games…

In Around the web on May 10, 2012 at 4:46 am

From DANGEROUS MINDS

The REAL hunger games have begun in the Capitol: This week the House is voting on $36 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance, or SNAP, which would kick 2 million people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), reduce benefits for 44 million more, and drop 280,000 low-income kids from school lunch.

Visit Half in Ten to learn more—and how you can stop the Capitol from winning.

An Austerity Backlash: From Sen. Bernie Sanders’s website…

France handed the presidency on Sunday to François Hollande, who declared that “austerity can no longer be inevitable.”  In Greece, Germany and Italy, parliamentary and local elections Sunday were seen as setbacks for austerity measures. Sen. Bernie Sanders saw a lesson for the United States in the European elections.

“In the United States and around the world, the middle class is in steep decline while the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well. The message sent by voters in France and other European countries, which I believe will be echoed here in the United States, is that the wealthy and large corporations are going to have to experience some austerity also and that that burden cannot solely fall on working families.

In the United States, where corporate profits are soaring and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we must end corporate tax loopholes and start making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. At the same time, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Austerity, yes, but for millionaires and billionaires, not the working families of this country.”
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