Monsanto: A Modern Day Plague…


From LISA CERDA
City Watch Los Angeles

Monsanto’s history is one steeped with controversial products, deadly consequences, massive cover ups, political slight of hand, and culminates as a modern day plague on humanity, a plague that is about to peak to biblical proportions. Created in 1901, the company started producing its first form of poison, the artificial sweetener saccharin. The rise in use of saccharin really began 70 years later. Monsanto had plenty of time for a realistic and long term study on the impact of saccharin on human health. Instead, Monsanto learned how to finagle political support and grow its empire despite the growing consensus that saccharin caused cancer.

No surprise then that the company continued on a path of controversy. Here’s a bullet point history.

  • Contributed to the research on uranium, for the Manhattan Project, during WWII.
  • Operated a nuclear facility for the U.S. government until the late 1980s.
  • Top manufacturer of synthetic fibers, plastics and polystyrene (EPA’s 5th ranked chemical production that generates the most hazardous waste).
  • A top 10 US chemical company.
  • Agriculture pesticides producer.
  • Herbicide producer – herbicides 2,4,5-T, Agent Orange, Lasso, and DDT.
  • Agent Orange (used in Vietnam), had the highest levels of dioxin and contaminated more than 3 million civilians and servicemen of which only partial compensation awarded.
  • Nearly 500,000 Vietnamese children were born deformed and never compensated.
  • Lasso was banned in USA, so weed killer “Roundup” is launched

Being alive is by far your greatest achievement…


 

From OLIVER BURKEMAN
The Guardian

For obvious reasons, it’s entirely appropriate that a book entitled The Underachiever’s Manifesto never really became a huge seller. Written by an American doctor named Ray Bennett – not the kind of doctor whom I’d necessarily want if I had a life-threatening illness – it vanished soon after its debut, in 2006. Now, though, its publishers have finally got it together to release it as an ebook in Britain, so you can download it. I mean, if you like. Don’t push yourself. After all, you’re already doing great. As Bennett himself points out, “Being alive is by far your greatest achievement.”

Subtitled The Guide To Accomplishing Little And Feeling Great, Bennett’s short treatise seems at first like another of those jokey-but-unfunny gift books they sold by the tills at Borders, back before Borders itself stopped achieving. But it soon becomes clear there’s more to it. “The achievement lobby is powerful,” he notes early on, “and underachievement is, surprisingly, not as easy as it should be. Our world is so full of unrelenting messages about being the best you can be that it may not even have occurred to you to try for anything less.” Yet “how many careers are coupled with disastrous marriages? How many talented, hard-working people smoke too much [and] exercise too little… How many fitness-crazed [people] tear up their knees running marathons?” Underachievement, the way Bennett uses the term, begins to seem less like an appealing option for the lazy-minded and more like a path to a superior kind of achievement.

Partly, that’s just because moderation’s often best. (Bennett’s “underachiever’s diet” involves avoiding bad fats and keeping treats occasional; his “underachiever’s workout” entails walking, doing something with your upper body and getting enough sleep.) But the deeper point is your life is an enormously complex web

Today’s Farmer: Nine Hours Daily On A Computer


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I promised not to use his name because I wanted him to speak freely which is not easy to do these days when society is in such conflict. He is a fortyish farmer, articulate, engaging, a delight to talk to. He and his brother grow upwards of 5000 acres of corn and soybeans, much of it rented. The first time I met him, several years go, I remembered him saying that a farmer needed to spend two hours a day on the computer, hedging and marketing his grain. Talking to him a few days ago, I recalled his remark and he smiled. “Make that 8 to 9 hours today,” he said. That included time he spent marketing for other farmers who evidently recognized his skill in this regard.

I was aghast. Just think of that: a man who considers himself a farmer spends his working day almost entirely in electronic grain marketing. His brother “tends to the farm machinery.” They employ five people and “we pay them very well because it is really difficult to find people who have a real work ethic.” (None of the hired help has gone to college and it occurred to me that here was an opportunity to make a good living without spending a hundred thousand dollars to get a degree. Are there any guidance counselors pointing this out?)

Meeting this farmer again, I decided to take advantage of his experience to ask my favorite question these days.  “I keep sticking my neck out and saying there’s going to be crash in farm land prices. Is that the case in your opinion?”

“Not yet,” he said. “Unlike the crash in the 80s, much of the land expansion now is being done with cash, not borrowed money. If prices drop, most farmers are in a better position to ride it out.”

“But accountants who handle farm business tell me that while farmers are paying half or more down with cash

Brain Pickings…


 

From BRAIN PICKINGS

Anne Lamott might be best known as a nonfiction writer, but Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life affirms her as a formidable modern philosopher as well. The 1994 classic is as much a practical guide to the writer’s life as it is a profound wisdom-trove on the life of the heart and mind, with insight on everything from overcoming self-doubt to navigating the osmotic balance of intuition and rationality.

On the itch of writing, Lamott banters:

We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

And on the grit that commits mind to paper, she counsels:

You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story. You are desperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transcendence, to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started.”

On why we read and write:

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
~~

Take Action! Mendo Free Skool Summer Solstice Celebration Tomorrow Thursday 6/21/12


From MENDO FREE SKOOL

What: Mendo Free Skool Summer Solstice Celebration
When: Thursday, June 21st, 6:00-9:30 p.m.
Where: Ukiah Trinity School, 555 Hazel Ave.

[I will be reviving Neighbors Reading, a monthly gathering at Mulligan Books on First Fridays where our local neighbors will be reading favorite passages from favorite books, eventually to be carried live on Community TV... -DS]

Mendo Free Skool celebrates the upcoming summer quarter of classes, our extremely successful inaugural quarter, *and* the Summer Solstice at this informational potluck!  We will eat, share inspiring stories about the first quarter of classes (http://mendofreeskool.wordpress.com/calendar), and play games/music. This will be your first chance to snag Summer Session calendars.

All the Summer Session teachers will be on hand. This is the perfect opportunity to meet them and talk shop about the classes they are offering.

Summer Session class topics to include: permaculture, Ukiah bird watching, Being Human, Empowered Budgeting, Neighbors Reading, bread-making, meditation, greywater installation, palmistry, applesauce canning, local food foraging/harvesting, Mendo Anarchist Study Group, compost tea making, flower essences, tai chi, kim chi, local history, Derrick Jensen Reading Group, kickball, improvisational dance, Ukiah Bike Tours, and many, many others!!!

We are seeking a handful of volunteers to help the potluck run smoothly. If you can help out for an hour or two, please drop us a line at mendofreeskool@gmail.com.

A cooperative approach to living and learning, Mendo Free Skool

Welcome back to the Dark Ages…


From JOHN ATCHESON
Common Dreams
Thanks to Linda Sanders

We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving, hurtling headlong into a past that was defined by serfs and lords; by necromancy and superstition; by policies based on fiat, not facts.

Much of what has made the modern world in general, and the United States in particular, a free and prosperous society comes directly from insights that arose during the Enlightenment.

Too bad we’re chucking it all out and returning to the Dark Ages.

Literally.

Two main things distinguished the post Enlightenment world from the pre Enlightenment Dark Ages.

First, Francis Bacon’s Novo Organum Scientiarum (The New Instrument of Science) introduced a new way of understanding the world, in which empiricism, facts and … well … reality … defined what was real. It essentially outlined the scientific method:  observation and data collection, formulation of hypotheses, experiments designed to test hypotheses and elevation of these hypotheses to theories when data consistently supported them.  It was and is a system based on skepticism, and a relentless and methodical search for truth.

It brought us advances

How Progress Happens…


From MIKE LUX
Democracy Partners

The Presidents we revere historically for making progressive change weren’t exactly eager to do so. Abraham Lincoln did not go into office wanting or intending to emancipate the slaves. Teddy Roosevelt was open to reform but did little to nothing about food safety until the pressure kept building from the muckrakers and the book “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. Woodrow Wilson did nothing to help women’s suffrage until women started chaining themselves to the White House gate and getting arrested. FDR had to be constantly pushed by the labor movement to help on their agenda. And Jack and Bobby Kennedy had no plans to make civil rights a central issue in their legacy until the civil rights movement forced them to act.

The thrilling announcement from the Obama administration that they are going to stop targeting DREAM Act-eligible young people for deportation is a reminder of what progress requires in America: first, a movement that never stops fighting for justice; and second, a President with progressives in his base who is open to change. Presidents rarely change important things unless an effective movement presses them to do it, and movements with a conservative President in office rarely win anything that matters because the conservative base wouldn’t let it happen.

This change in deportation policy happened because immigrants’ rights groups wouldn’t back down, kept banging away, and had the courage to confront a President who at times got very irritable under the pressure. It didn’t happen when Bush was in office even though Bush and Rove wanted desperately to resolve the immigration issue to give Republicans an opening

James Houle: The Case for Production of Asphalt at the Harris Quarry…


From JAMES HOULE
Redwood Valley

We are all tired of the seemingly endless revisions to the Planning Department Report, the tiresome repetition of fear-inspiring stories concerning the mixing of asphalt with aggregate at the quarry, the merging of trucks into the traffic flow, and the inevitable asphyxiation of the small community who live several miles south of the quarry that is predicted by “Keep The Code”, their noisemakers.

During the past four to five years while this controversy has been plodding along, here are the results:

  1. The Planning Department and their consultants have wasted several hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies, printing cost and staff salaries merely attempting to get this “Keep the Code” crowd to rest easy. It has not worked.

  2. The county cannot meet its needs for asphalt and particularly for rubberized asphalt, the new standard paving material, from within its own boundaries and must pay outside contractors to produce and truck it into our projects. We have lost considerable revenue and payed extra fees for this transport to no benefit.

  3. Asphalt only has a one to two hour holding time between mixing and application. There are no other suitable quarry sites on major thoroughfares within the county where this plant could be relocated.

  4. Mendocino County has lost out for the past ten years on State compensation for the use of rubberized asphalt as a means of disposing of worn out tires. This loss amounts to

The Occupy Caravan: Dispatch From Reno…


From OCCUPY WALL STREET JOURNAL

As the Occupy Caravan roars east, organizer and Occupied Wall Street Journal editor Michael Levitin will be filing dispatches from the road. First up: Reno.

Our caravan of three vehicles with nine riders pulled into Reno a little before six o’clock on Monday afternoon as the hot Sierra sun was still beating down on dozens of bathers out splashing around by the rocks in the Truckee River.

At the Strega Bar on Arlington Street, a potluck spread was laid out for our arrival: quiche, lasagna, salad, crumble pie, strawberries—and lots of ale. We dove into conversation with a lively mix folks from Occupy Reno, about 30 in all, then headed out to march through the warm, deserted evening streets of “The Biggest Little City in the World” bearing signs, flags, some livestream cams and a chorus of chants—our voices united across cities and states on this first leg of the Occupy Caravan, which had left downtown Oakland at midday heading east.

That evening we pitched tents and settled into the backyard of Cathy Blaine. Dressed in a long-sleeved cotton shirt with rolled-up jeans and leather sandals, Cathy sat on her patio deck describing what led her, a 53-year-old middle class mother of two, to join the Occupy Movement. She had quit work as a massage therapist, she said, to stay home and raise two children but was thrust back out into the workforce—this time as a dermatological assistant—when the housing market crashed and she and her husband, Steve, a realtor, found themselves inches away from bankruptcy and losing their home.

Ann Patchett: Why Independent bookstores matter…



~

From JIM KUNSTLER

Hazardous Games

The story-line behind the convulsions shaking the money centers of the world is such a hopeless labyrinth of mathematical metaphysics because abstraction unto infinity is the last refuge of those seeking to evade reality. This is why individual human beings faced with terrible choices go crazy, and it is true of societies and nations, too.
     Reality is so boringly concrete. The facts just sit there implacably like dull cement bollards in a roadway, waiting for impact with objects in motion. These facts are as follows:
     The world is dead broke. (By “world” I mean those places where the electricity is on more than it is off.) The world spent all of its future capital to stage an orgy of blow-out development and then the future arrived and there was no money to run everything.
     To make matters worse, there are massive interest payments due on all that money misspent. Nobody has the means to pay the interest. All the activity around this fact is an Olympiad of money games that amount to musical chairs and hot potato, signifying that 1) there is not enough to go around, and 2) somebody has to end up stuck with a problem.
     The orgy averred to above coincided with the last years of cheap and abundant energy supplies to run the development. That’s over and done with, too, despite the strenuous efforts of wishful thinkers, cornucopian propagandists, and corporate racketeers to pretend that technological magic can make up for dwindling cheap supplies.
     The net effect of all this is that advanced societies all over the planet have entered a comprehensive compressive contraction

Harris Quarry Expansion Board Of Supervisors Hearing Tuesday 6/19…



Denuded hills of Harris Quarry lie open to industrial pollution and erosion —  Black Bart Road at 101

From KEEP THE CODE
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing  on the Keep the Code appeal of the Use Permit for the Harris Quarry Expansion Project is Tuesday, June 19th Board of Supervisors Chambers, 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, at 10am. 

Please sign our petition to the Supervisors: www.keepthecode.info.

Please join Keep the Code and the public for input as to why the Supervisors should appeal the Planning Commission’s Use Permit for the project, which would allow building of a 300-ton-per-hour continuous mix asphalt plant, and the extraction of up to 200,000 cubic yards of rock from the hillside quarry.

Please come be seen and/or heard at the Public Hearing!  And bring a friend!

What you say will become part of the record for this case, which is important!

If you’d like to speak, and would like us to provide you with something to say, please e-mail us at contact@keepthecode.info, so we can coordinate with you.

And share the petition with friends. We have a goal of 3,000 signatures, and if each one of you would sign and share it with at least 3 friends, we could make a big splash and meet our petition goal! Each petition signature drops a letter in the BOS e-mail.
~~

Todd Walton: Homelessness


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

I am currently in the throes of rewriting a novel I first completed in 2003, rewrote entirely in 2006, and then did not touch for six years. I have only undertaken this kind of extended creative venture a few times in my life because most of my long dormant creations do not stand the test of time for me; so I have no interest in spending another thousand hours remaking them. Nor would I have had the opportunity to rewrite any of these long slumbering works had I been a more successful writer with publishers and producers clambering for my works as I completed them the first time. In any case, these books and plays and screenplays I remake multiple times over the course of many years are my favorite creations, regardless of their commercial fates.

This novel I am rewriting is a quasi-autobiographical tale about a middle-aged man who invites a homeless woman and her four-year-old son to live with him. His relationship with the boy is loving and parental, his relationship with the woman in no way sexual, though sexuality is one of the larger subjects of the novel. And though I am still keenly interested in the book’s exploration of sexuality, I am most interested (at the moment) in the subject of homelessness, for I was reminded when I read this manuscript that homelessness has played a central role

Dave Smith: Let Us Now Praise Creative Men…


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

We are blessed with many creative people around our corner of the world here in Mendoland…  artists and writers and actors and musicians seem to congregate in abundance around Mendocino and Northern California mainly because, I suppose, we live in beautiful surroundings.

I would like to stop just a minute and stand in awe of a particularly rare creative talent shared by two men in our midst that I find magical. That is the ability to pull out of thin air an imaginative piece of writing against deadline.

Todd Walton and Tom Hine create interesting, topical, opinionated columns in the Anderson Valley Advertiser and Ukiah Daily Journal respectively. This is not the common commenting on today’s news that you find everywhere. This is local, original, intelligent, emotional, engaging, tragic, quirky, funny, pissed off writing… done against deadline, week in, week out, year after year after year.

I, for one, with gratitude, am amazed.
~~

Books: Fermentation IS Culture…


From CHELSEA GREEN

[An Excerpt from The Art of Fermentation, just out and available now at special discount from Mulligan Books & Seeds, a Chelsea Green bookshop partner... DS]

From Publisher Chelsea Green: Sandor Katz — the nation’s foremost fermentation expert — has written a bible-sized book about his craft. Beyond sauerkraut, bread, and beer, The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World takes readers into the outer realms of the theory and practice behind this edgy, traditional approach to food preservation. What follows is an excerpt from Katz’ introduction, but it can also serve as a kind of manifesto

CommonVision.org: Local Heroes Doing Good Work…


From COMMON VISION

[Local Heroes: Michael Flynn, Megan Watson, Leo Buc, Paul West, Carrie Staller. -DS]

20-educators and performing artists from Common Vision will arrive at a school in vegetable-oil powered buses to deliver a program that includes

  • A 40-min Theater assembly that weaves colorful stories, larger than life puppets, a live band, and relevant, engaging environmental education
  • Planting 15-30 fruit trees in the schoolyard with the students.  Varieties are numerous and school-year fruiting
  • Dynamic 45-minute arts workshops that focus on articulating vision and goals through words,  visual arts, and the painting of orchard signs
  • Fruit tree care workshop for teachers, parents, community members, groundskeepers, and sometimes students.
  • Installation of drip irrigation for the orchard
  • A day that the teachers and students will never forget!

Mission

Common Vision implements innovative strategies in sustainability with diverse communities and schools throughout California.  Focusing on fruit trees, local agriculture, renewable energy, and community engagement Common Vision uses inspirational education to create a healthier and more just society.

How We Roll

Common Vision brings inspiring and relevant earth education to diverse communities to cultivate dynamic and experienced leaders in sustainability practice and education. With a fleet of vegetable-powered vehicles, a dedicated staff, and big vision, Common Vision’s mobile operation weaves a wide network in California as it creates and inspires collaborations amongst schools, farms, volunteers, mentors, nurseries, musicians, and native peoples.

Contact
~~

Gina Covina: Mendocino Seed Growers Co-op Meet…



Big Pink Beauties remain mild and sweet

From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

[Fifty summer vegetable varieties are now being grown for seed by local co-op farmers and gardeners, for Mendo/Lake farmers and gardeners, and why you should care... -DS]

Last Saturday we hosted the first farm/garden tour for members of the new Mendocino Seed Growers Co-op – lots of gardening info shared and progress compared, followed by a totally delicious potluck lunch featuring plants from each of our gardens — fresh turnips, kale, and lettuces, last year’s dried tomatoes and peppers, plus rhubarb pie. We also taste-tested the radish varieties and some of the lettuces from our current trials. Among six radishes the winner by a slim margin was Pink Beauty. The lettuces were even harder to judge, being almost equally delicious, but Mayan Jaguar (bred by Wild Garden Seeds) and Marvel of Four Seasons (from seed selected and grown by Julianne Ash of Anacortes, Washington) edged out the others. The variety trials continue, as we wait to see who holds their flavor and refrains from bolting as the weather warms.

The seed growers co-op enters its first season with lots of yummy locally adapted vegetable crops planted in 18 different locations. Growers range from veteran seed-saving market gardeners to beginning seed-savers with backyard plots. There are even a few politically motivated gardening newbies. Yes – rescuing the genetic heritage of our food sources from the jaws of Monsanto, one heirloom variety at a time, and just in time. The geographical hub of this activity is Laytonville – ideally situated for seed-saving with widely scattered gardens tucked in the folds of forested hills. There are also participating growers in Willits, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, Hopland, and on the coast.

Fifty summer vegetable varieties are being grown for seed by co-op gardeners. Among them are two notable pole beans that have both been saved in Mendocino County for many years: Rattlesnake, in Laytonville, and what we can call

Dave Pollard: A Clear, Actionable Platform for Those Who Care About Earth’s Future


progress cartoonCartoon by Barry Deutsch of Alas, A Blog fame, in ZMag.

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

Back in February, I wrote about the frustration of citizens being offered “stimulus” (to restore “growth”) and “austerity” (to reduce debt levels) as the only choices for an economic platform, and why both of these “options” will only accelerate the pace of collapse of our economy and our civilization culture. I concluded the post by proposing a 4-point alternative platform I call “Plan C”:

  1. End the wars: Immediately cease the imperialist and resource wars being waged by affluent nations against struggling nations all over the world, and the ideological and futile wars on “terror” and on drugs and “illegal” immigrants.
  2. End corporate subsidies: Eliminate all agricultural, energy, military and other corporate subsidies, and instead provide incentives for new small business creation and employment.
  3. Replace “free” trade with “fair” trade to reinvigorate domestic work and employment. Cancel globalist trade treaties like NAFTA and those of the WTO. This will provide an enormous boost to local economies, and save valuable energy used in long-distance transportation. And while we’re at it, forgive struggling nations’ debts: These nations will only be able to achieve self-sufficiency and democracy if we give them back the land and resources we’ve stolen from them, and let them make a fresh start.
  4. Radically simplify tax laws and really enforce them: Current tax codes in most countries are so complicated that the rich who can afford to pay for expensive tax evasion schemes end up paying less than the rest of us. A simple tax code that computes your year-end global net worth and the annual change in it, and taxes a certain portion of each, with no deductions or exemptions or loopholes, on a graduated scale, could generate vastly more tax revenue, more fairly, with much less effort by everyone, even if those with income

Gene Logsdon: Can Garden Farming Be Too Successful?

From GENE LOGSDON

This is just mischievous philosophical musing. Don’t take me too seriously.  On the other hand…

One of my favorite  books is the classic “Farmers of Forty Centuries” by F.H. King, written in 1911. It details the way food was produced in much of Asia for something like four thousand years and still is in many places there. It was, according to King who traveled the area at that time, an amazing kind of small scale agriculture that, without chemical fertilizer or power machinery of any kind was producing more food per acre at the beginning of the 20th century than farming in America then or now. The way the Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese returned all organic wastes, including human manure, to the soil was an absolutely triumphant model of sustainable farming. Some of the production figures from that time, over a century ago, seem almost unbelievable even today, and it all happened without Monsanto Claus if you can imagine that. Author King writes of farms in Japan which were producing food enough for 240 people, 24 donkeys, and 24 pigs per 40 acres, a size of farm that in the United States at that time would be regarded, he says, as too small to support a single family. Some 500,000,000 people (the present population of the U.S. of course is around 300,000,000) were being fed in the Far East upon the products of an area smaller than all the improved farm land of the United States in 1911. These garden farms hardly averaged one to two acres each. With a climate similar to our mid-south to lower corn belt area, these tiny farms sometimes grew three and even four crops per year on the same land. So precious were organic fertilizers that a private contractor paid the city of Shanghai $31,000, gold, for 78,000 tons of human waste which the contractor removed from residences and public places at his own cost— and felt privileged to be able to do so, says King because he was going to resell it to farmers.

To maintain ultra- high production, hundreds of miles of canals

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,534 other followers