In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on July 29, 2012 at 7:00 am
From WILLIAM EDELEN
Ojai, California is nestled in the radiant mountains just south of Santa Barbara. I say “radiant” because famous there is what they call their “pink moment” when every evening at sunset, all the mountains and valley are covered with a rich and bright “pink” color that is gorgeous to witness.
Ojai has a reputation of being one of the artistic and cultural centers of the United States. Many of the creative giants of the world beat a path to the “Sage of Ojai” Krishnamurti, a mystical genius who pointed their lives in a new direction: Joseph Campbell, Joan Halifax, Julian Huxley, Thomas Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, John Lennon, David Bohm (Nobel in physics), Jonas Salk, Charlie Chaplin, and too many more to name.
In my 18 years of my Sunday Symposium I have for some strange reason not spent an entire session on this “sage of Ojai” though often quoting him.
Based on my own life experiences, at 90 years old, I soon realized More…
In Around the web on July 28, 2012 at 9:08 am
From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
of two minds . com
Global Crisis: the Convergence of Marx, Orwell and Kafka
The global crisis is not merely economic; it is the result of profound financial, sociological and political trends best captured by Marx, Orwell and Kafka.
The global crisis is best understood as the convergence of the modern trends identified by Marx, Orwell and Kafka. Let’s start with Franz Kafka, the writer (1883-1924) who most eloquently captured the systemic injustices of all powerful bureaucracies–the alienation experienced by the hapless citizen enmeshed in the bureaucratic web, petty officialdom’s mindless persecutions of the innocent, and the intrinsic absurdity of the centralized State best expressed in this phrase: “We expect errors, not justice.”
If this isn’t the most insightful summary of the Eurozone debacle, then what is? A lawyer by training and practice, Kafka understood that More…
In Todd Walton on July 27, 2012 at 6:56 am
From TODD WALTON
“My stories run up and bite me on the leg, and I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.” Ray Bradbury
Before the advent of personal computers, CDs, digital cameras, digital recordings, the interweb, cell phones, e-books, cyber pads and downloadable everything, long before Amazon and Google and Microsoft, when manuscripts were still typed on typewriters and editing was not instantaneous (which may have been a good thing) I met a man, a writer, who told me a cautionary tale I will never forget.
I was in my early twenties and hoping to become a successful writer and musician, though at the time I had yet to sell a story and was making peanuts More…
In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on July 27, 2012 at 6:30 am
From WILL PARRISH
Part 1 here
From a ridgetop knoll on Bald Hill, in Anderson Valley’s “Deep End,” the Rancho Navarro home of Elaine and Mike Kalantarian affords a generous view of the wooded hills to the northeast. They share the home, which they purchased in 1997, with their 12-year-old daughter. In the foreground, a hill spans out above a tributary of the Navarro River’s north fork, John Smith Creek. The towering Sanhedrin Mountain rises out of the distant east background, its name given by Missouri-born pioneers who wrote with awe in their journals regarding their encounters with seemingly limitless stands of massive, old-growth redwoods in hills much like this one.
Most people who live today among these ancient forest remnants share a watershed with a large corporation More…
In Around Mendo Island, Gina Covina on July 27, 2012 at 6:00 am
From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
We made our first trip to the Mendocino Farmers Market last week, with a new crop of onions, beautiful carrots, the first Dark Star zucchinis and Asian cucumbers, and an assortment of greens. Not a huge amount of vegetables, but I’m amazed we have anything, what with this year’s bumper crop of plant-eating insects, industrious gophers, and a gang of feral peafowl that removed most of the sweet pepper plants from inside the hoop house.
I’ve had to eat pesto constantly (darn, my favorite) since the basil was too cosmetically challenged to go to market after the cucumber beetles got to it. I’ve held off on using even organically-approved insecticides like Neem oil because so many frogs live in the vegetables. Instead we pinch any beetles we can catch More…
In Around the web on July 26, 2012 at 6:00 am
From JAY WALLJASPER
On The Commons
Annie Leonard weaves commons sense, hard facts, witty animation and an engaging “everywoman” narrator role to illuminate complex problems that threaten the commons, and offer promising solutions.
Annie Leonard is one of the most articulate, effective champions of the commons today. Her webfilm The Story of Stuff has been seen more than 15 million times by viewers. She also adapted it into a book.
Drawing on her experience investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues in more than 40 countries, Leonard says she’s “made it her life’s calling to blow the whistle on important issues plaguing our world.”
She deploys hard facts, common sense, witty animation and an engaging “everywoman” role as narrator More…
In Around the web on July 25, 2012 at 5:53 am
From DERRICK JENSEN
A no-nonsense declaration
There isn’t a chance in hell that something like the original Wilderness Act could be passed today. Environmentalists today are too much on the defensive. Sure, there have been green platforms and policy papers, but nothing I’ve read matches the urgency of this moment. So I decided to draft a declaration. It goes like this:
We, the citizens of the United States of America, hold these truths to be self-evident: that a rapid decline in living conditions is taking place all around us; that compromise is no longer an adequate way forward (and perhaps never was); that more drastic measures must be taken immediately in order to preserve a livable planet. From these beliefs springs the following list of demands:
We demand that the United States Constitution be rewritten to explicitly prohibit the privatization of profits and the externalization of costs by the wealthy, and to immediately grant both human and nonhuman communities full legal and moral rights. Corporations should no longer be considered persons under the law. Limited liability corporations must be immediately stripped of their limited liability protection. Those whose economic activities cause great harm—including great harm to the real, physical world—should be punished. Environmental Crimes Tribunals More…
In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on July 25, 2012 at 5:38 am
From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
The drought that is affecting much of the Midwest is scary enough but what makes me even more nervous is the way speculators in the grain futures market are sending grain prices gyrating all over the place as they bet on what will happen next. Betting on the future supply of food is risky business. There’s too much chance for mischievous manipulation. It is risky enough to gamble with banknotes of one kind or another but they aren’t edible no matter how much good steak gravy you sop on them. Food, however, is everyone’s essential necessity and I wonder greatly about the wisdom of gambling with it especially when many of the gamblers can barely tell a stalk of corn from a hoe handle.
Like most everyone else, I’ve had orthodox economics drummed into my head. I know how economists argue that the speculators, by pooling the information upon which they place their bets, arrive at what is called “price discovery” that helps establish some kind of market equilibrium overall, and helps farmers and processors and society in general adjust to the situation. The gamblers also benefit all of us, I’ve been taught, by “risk shifting” or hedging which provides producers and others with a way to shift the risk involved in ownership of a commodity to others More…
In Around the web on July 25, 2012 at 5:30 am
From SALLY McGRANE
Amsterdam Journal via NYT
An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No steam.”
Ms. Held had come to the right place. At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.
Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus.
Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing More…
In Class War on July 24, 2012 at 5:33 am
When it comes to the economy, too many Americans continue to be numbed by the soothing sounds of conservative spin in the media. Here are three of their more inventive claims:
1. Higher taxes on the rich will hurt small businesses and discourage job creators
A recent Treasury analysis found that only 2.5% of small businesses would face higher taxes from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
As for job creation, it’s not coming from the people with money. Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, real estate, and personal business accounts. Angel investing (capital provided by affluent individuals for business start-ups) accounted for less than 1% of the investable assets of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011. The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey agreed that the very rich spend less than two percent of their money on new business startups.
The Wall Street Journal noted, in way of confirmation, that the extra wealth created by the Bush tax cuts led to the “worst track record for jobs in recorded history.” More…
In Around the web on July 24, 2012 at 5:15 am
Jake Tapper reports:
The New Hampshire Union Leader’s John DiStato today reports that in 1999 the business in question, Gilchrist Metal, “received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority ‘to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment’…” In addition, in 2011, Gilchrist Metal “received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008…”
The businessman, Jack Gilchrist, also acknowledged that in the 1980s the company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling “somewhere south of” $500,000, and matching funds from the federally-funded New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.
“I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government,” Gilchrest said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back. I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say ‘no.’ Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available.”
Right. Some of his personal tax dollars paid for all of that, including the roads he’s been using for decades and the education of his workforce and the police and fire protection and reliable energy More…
In Around the web on July 24, 2012 at 5:00 am
From JASON PETERS
Front Porch Republic
I walk through the door after a hard two hours at the office. Whew! That damn-near killed me. Good thing I had time to stop at the campus garden to harvest a little red romaine and arugula. And good thing I’m the faculty advisor to this great unremunerated, unknown, and unappreciated project.
Nothing like occupying an endowed chair and enjoying the same status as the groundhogs and rabbits.
And good thing I arrive at the garden in time. The heat later this week will render the arugula certainly, and the lettuce probably, too bitter even for the rabbits—well, maybe not for those fur-bearing varmints, as Yosemite Sam called them—but tonight these fine leaves will feed me and mine.
And what else will feed us?
Interesting you should ask. I see that the little missus, the goddess excellently bright, has boiled some bowtie pasta. This means two things: that bowties were made for eating, not wearing, and that she wants a green & pasta combo salad tonight. More…
In Around the web on July 23, 2012 at 6:00 am
From CHRIS HEDGES
The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.
Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. More…
In Around the web on July 23, 2012 at 5:39 am
From THE OCCUPIED WALL STREET JOURNAL
This week in Occupy, the 99 Mile March rocked its way across two states, the movement survived an NYPD smear campaign, Comic Con got #occupied, and banks continued their usual reprehensible behavior.
#Led by the Occupy Guitarmy, the 99 Mile March arrived in Manhattan via the Staten Island ferry to honor folk singer Woody Guthrie on his 100th birthday. The trek, which began in Pennsylvania on July 5 following the Occupy National Gathering, terminated at Liberty Square, where marchers were greeted by police. At least one was injured and three were arrested in the aftermath. More…
In Around the web on July 23, 2012 at 5:15 am
From JANA RICHMAN
Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom . . — Bertrand Russell
On a cold, sunny day in early March, my husband, Steve, and I layered up and took ourselves out to our backyard: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. For a few days we had been spiraling downward through a series of miscommunications and tensions — the culmination of my rigorous dedication to fear, or what Bertrand Russell aptly coined “the tyranny of the habit of fear.” A fresh storm had dropped 10 inches of snow with little moisture giving it an airy, crystallized texture that sprayed out in an arc with each footstep and made a shushing sound, as if it were speaking directly to me. Shush. Shush. Shush.
My fear began roiling, slowly at first, but soon popping and splashing out of its shallow container.
Moving into the elegant world of white-draped red rock is usually enough to strip our minds of the qualms that harass us, but on this particular day, Steve and I both stomped into the desert bearing a commitment to hang onto the somber roles we had adopted. Solemnity is difficult, however, More…
In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on July 22, 2012 at 8:34 am
From WILLIAM EDELEN
Toward the Mystery
When all the words have been written, and all the phrases have been spoken, the great mystery of life will still remain. We may map the terrains of our lives, measure the farthest reaches of the universe, but no amount of searching will ever reveal for certain whether we are all children of chance or part of a great design.
And who among us would have it otherwise? Who would wish to take the mystery out of the experience of looking into a newborn infant’s eyes? Who would not feel in violation of something great if we had knowledge of what has departed when we stare into the face of one who has died? These are the events that made us human, that define the distance between the stars and us.
Still, this life is not easy. Much of its mystery is darkness. Tragedies occur, injustices exist. Bad things befall good people and sufferings are visited upon the innocent. To live we must take the lives of other species, to survive we must leave some of our brothers and sisters by the side of the road. We are prisoners of time, victims of biology, hostages of our own capacity to dream.
At times it all seems too much, impossible to accept.
We must stand against this. More…
In Will Parrish on July 20, 2012 at 6:30 am
From WILL PARRISH
From the massive landed estates of Roman antiquity known as latifundias, to those of modern-day Latin America, to the railroad, wheat, timber and cattle barons who controlled vast portions of California following the Gold Rush, obscenely wealthy people have amassed huge concentrations of land in both feudal and capitalist societies. From this vast inequality comes environmental despoliation and great injustice.
Mendocino County, in the year 2012, is no exception to the historical rule.
Mendocino Redwood Company, or MRC, is Mendocino County’s largest largest landholder. No other company or individual comes close. The logging firm owns 227,000 acres of redwoods and mixed conifers throughout the county’s western half. Much of this veritable latifundia stretches across the vast mountainous expanses southwest of Willits to northeast of Point Arena. More…
In Todd Walton on July 20, 2012 at 6:14 am
From TODD WALTON
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T.S. Eliot
Several recent conversations with friends focused on how might we counter the cyber takeover of our society while at the same time fomenting positive change and a more vibrant local community; and the answer seems to be to invite people over to share a meal and talk.
“Four things come not back: the spoken word; the sped arrow; time past; the neglected opportunity.” Omar Ibn Al-Halif
A friend wrote that in an effort to regain the souls of her husband and children she instituted a rule that cell phones and cyber pads were not allowed at the dining table. The initial response to this rule was that her children and husband wolfed their meals and rushed back to their devices. So she instituted a second rule that dinner had to last half an hour. After a week of dismal dining experiences filled with complaints, her children and husband adjusted to the brief nightly respite from tweeting and staring into little screens and “there have even been some nights when the family lingers at the table after the half hour is up because we are so engrossed in conversation.”
In Around the web on July 19, 2012 at 5:53 am
Thom Hartmann rants about how President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies have brought the U.S. to its present economic disaster.
From PAUL KRUGMAN
[...] About this whole business of “attacking capitalism“: to the extent that Obama is attacking anything other than Mitt Romney, he’s questioning a system in which the financial sector has grown to an unprecedented share of the economy (pdf):
So we’re hearing a lot of people – including some alleged progressives – declaring that you can’t criticize the way we’ve run our economy for the past 30 years. Why not? The metastasizing finance sector eventually led us into the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression; that seems reason enough to question the model.
And bear in mind that Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal financial reform. It seems to me that in the wake of the global financial crisis, that – not Obama’s very mild reformism – is the radical position.
In Books on July 19, 2012 at 5:30 am
From BOOK RIOT
From the Redwoods down to San Diego, California is an incredibly diverse state. Start at the coast to do some surfing, and then drive a couple of hours inland for a ski vacation. Don’t shave and live off the land up in Humbolt County before you cruise down the 5 towards the central coast for some wine tasting. Don’t forget to leave time to get stuck in a traffic jam in Los Angeles and max out your credit cards while running into a few celebrities (or getting trampled by paparazzi). Regardless of what you do, be sure to check out some of the books set in California…
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
The White Album by Joan Didion
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger
The region of the Pacific Northwest is not easy to define. Ask two people and you very well might get two answers. For the purpose of this bookish road trip (of the United States), I shaved it down to Washington and Oregon. Whether you’re a Portlandiafan, a Starbucks fanatic, or an REI frequent customer , we know good things come from the Pacific Northwest. In fact, what other region can boast such an eclectic range of achievement? With the ability to boast outdoor sports opportunities, foodie havens, and indie music’s birthplace; this gaming mecca is also home to some of the country’s Greenest cities. Check out some of the literature set in this vibrant corner of the country.
In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on July 18, 2012 at 6:04 am
From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
I can’t figure out why society is so enamored of movies about invaders from outer space when we have a real life invasion going on from earth’s inner space. Squadrons of deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, moles, wild turkeys, crows, robins, wolves, black bears, feral hogs, to mention a few, have unleashed an attack upon homes, gardens and farms unprecedented since the 1800s. It is worse than a century ago because we don’t have nearly as many hunters now as we did then. In the 1940s when I was growing up, there was not a deer in our county. Now they roam at will across the farm fields, towns and highways, laying waste to everything that grows and causing far more deaths on the roads than bombs do in Afghanistan.
If you garden at all, you will get a laugh or at least a sly smile from the cover of the New Yorker for July 2 of this year. It shows a cartoon by Edward Koren, of a man mowing a little plot of lawn surrounded by woodlands and an army of wild animals staring out at him More…
In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on July 18, 2012 at 6:00 am
From BRUCE FESSIER
The Desert Sun
[I first learned of Bill Edelen on the pages of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat years ago. Bill lived in Santa Rosa at the time and wrote a weekly column for the paper. I purchased and read his books. Then the column disappeared and I lost track of him until recently when Mark Scaramella over at the TheAVA.com posted a piece by Bill which I reposted here. One thing led to another and I was asked to take on producing Bill's blogsite which I happily accepted. I think of Bill Edelen as "The Contrary Minister" similar to old friend Gene Logsdon's "The Contrary Farmer" whose blogsite I have been producing from the start. I will be reposting some of Bill's weekly Sunday posts here on Ukiah Blog and hope you enjoy his wisdom on a regular basis... -DS]
People say Bill Edelen is an atheist; an agnostic.
They say the former Desert Sun columnist and resident sage of the Sunday morning symposiums at the Palm Springs Tennis Club doesn’t believe in God.
But the truth is, the English language doesn’t have a word for the god Edelen believes in. If he were to describe himself as a disciple of any deity More…
In Mendo Island Transition on July 18, 2012 at 5:00 am
What’s happening in the world of Transition…
From ROB HOPKINS
Let’s start this month’s round-up in the UK, in Cheltenham. Transition Town Cheltenham have been making some gorgeous short films recently. In the last roundup we shared the one about Ken and his allotment. This month, firstly, Ivor, Remi and Leon talk us through the chickens in their garden, and their 8-person cargo bike:
… and secondly, a short film about In Stitches, who held their The Big Knit event at the Global Footsteps Cafe. A beautiful film about the power of knitting to build community… Complete article here…
In Around the web on July 17, 2012 at 5:37 am
From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Promised Land
This is the fate of young people today: excluded, but forbidden to opt out.
Hounded by police and bailiffs, evicted wherever they stopped, they did not mean to settle here. They had walked out of London to occupy disused farmland on the Queen’s estates surrounding Windsor Castle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that didn’t work out very well. But after several days of pursuit, they landed two fields away from the place where modern democracy is commonly supposed to have been born.
At first this group of mostly young, dispossessed people, who (after the 17th century revolutionaries) call themselves Diggers 2012, camped on the old rugby pitch of Brunel University’s Runnymede campus. It’s a weed-choked complex of grand old buildings and modern halls of residence, whose mildewed curtains flap in the wind behind open windows, all mysteriously abandoned as if struck by a plague or a neutron bomb. The diggers were evicted again, and moved down the hill into the woods behind the campus: pressed, as if by the ineluctable force of history, ever closer to the symbolic spot. From the meeting house More…
In Around the web, Climate Change Series on July 17, 2012 at 5:22 am
From PETER SINCLAIR
Climate Denial Crock of the Week
As the climate has warmed during the past several decades, there has been a growing imbalance between record daily high temperatures in the contiguous U.S. and record daily lows. A study published in 2009 found that rather than a 1-to-1 ratio, as would be expected if the climate were not warming, the ratio has been closer to 2-to-1 in favor of warm temperature records during the past decade (2000-2009). This finding cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone, the study found, and is instead consistent with global warming.
When you look at individual years, the imbalance can be more stark. For example, through late June 2012, daily record highs were outnumbering record daily lows by a ratio of 9-to-1.The study used computer models to project how the records ratios might shift in future decades as the amount of greenhouse gases in the air continues to increase. The results showed that the ratio of daily record highs to daily record lows in the lower 48 states could soar to 20-to-1 by mid-century, and 50-to-1 by 2100.
In Around the web on July 17, 2012 at 5:00 am
From KARL GROSSMAN
The conclusion of a report of a Japanese parliamentary panel issued last week that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster was rooted in government-industry “collusion” and thus was “man-made” is mirrored throughout the world. The “regulatory capture” cited by the panel is the pattern among nuclear agencies right up to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owner of the six Fukushima plants] and the lack of governance by said parties,” said the 641-page report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission released on July 5.
“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made,’” said the report of the panel established by the National Diet or parliament of Japan.
“We believe the root causes were the organizational and regulatory system that supported faulty rationales More…
In Around the web on July 16, 2012 at 7:30 am
From CHRIS HEDGES
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.
The poor embrace the military because every other cul-de-sac in their lives breaks their spirit and their dignity. Pick up Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or James Jones’s From Here to Eternity. Read Henry IV. Turn to the Iliad. The allure of combat is a trap, a ploy, an old, dirty game of deception in which the powerful, who do not go to war, promise a mirage to those who do.
I saw this in my own family. At the age of ten I was given a scholarship to a top New England boarding school. I spent my adolescence in the schizophrenic embrace of the wealthy, on the playing fields and in the dorms and classrooms that condition boys and girls for privilege, and came back to my working-class relations in the depressed former mill towns in Maine. I traveled between two universes: one where everyone got chance after chance after chance, where connections and money and influence almost guaranteed that you would not fail; the other where no one ever got a second try. I learned at an early age that when the poor fall no one picks them up, while the rich stumble and trip their way to the top.
Those I knew in prep school did not seek out the military and were not sought by it. But in the impoverished enclaves of central Maine, where I had relatives living in trailers, nearly everyone was a veteran. My grandfather. My uncles. My cousins. My second cousins. More…
In Around Mendo Island on July 16, 2012 at 7:01 am
From MOLLY BEE
Mendo Discussion Lists
Thanks to Janie Sheppard
Dear California State Parks Department,
Due to an increasing number of ridiculous money-grubbing maneuvers and audacious authority oversteps on your part, I think it appropriate to cut your funding by at least 80%, if not tender your total termination. How can we the public/ citizenry go about this, how can we have any say in how our funds are spent, and how can we lobby against your self-serving schemes?
You tax us in every way you can, finding particular perverse delight in making up inane laws, and then fining us for breaking them. There is an extensive menu of infractions that are heftily fined offenses, many of which seem pointedly geared towards harassing the homeless. I was shocked to learn of the exorbitant fine for “sleeping in a vehicle” which is not only enforced on State Parks property (including parking lots or along the side of the road), but also in the entire City of Fort Bragg or anywhere in Mendocino, among most other places. Guess what happens if one is down on one’s luck (sleeping in a car), gets caught harmlessly snoozing inside a vehicle, and can’t pay the ticket fee? Well, the fine increases by 150% every 21 days, until the offending car is impounded and the offending sleeper faces jail time. This is definitely why you need to carry guns and enforce unethical laws outside the area of your intended jurisdiction: to put homeless people in jail where they ! belong! (If you agree with this last statement, you should be taken out back and have common sense and decency pistol-whipped back into your head.)
This recent stunt of yours to raze down the blackberries and hemlock on the Mendocino Headlands is a poor use of public funds to destroy some of the country charm and character of the town. Your direct reasons for this were to dislodge the homeless who sought shelter in the bushes, and to eradicate an invasive species… More…
In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on July 15, 2012 at 8:03 am
From WILLIAM EDELEN
Toward the Mystery
On Tuesday, July 17th, I reach 90 years of age. As I reflect back on these years, it is fairly easy for me to find the thought, or thoughts, that have shaped my life, my outlook and attitudes, and guided my path regardless of criticism or attacks by those living in the boxes and cages they have chosen for their own confinement.
I realized that the key and path to MEDIOCRITY could be found in worry about the foolishness of public opinion, in “moderation,” in “convention” and “conformity.” Two giant thinkers helped and encouraged me on this path. KRISHNAMURTI, of whom Deepak Chopra said, “He made it possible for me to break through the confines of my own self-imposed restrictions to my freedom”; and a brilliant Aldous Huxley using almost exactly the same language.
And the other giant thinker was the Federal Judge LEARNED HAND, who in his career never had one word of an opinion changed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
My own thoughts were these before being encouraged by the writings of the two men mentioned. A most meaningless cliché is “moderation in all things.” Moderation is the key to mediocrity. Moderation is defined as: “staying within accepted limits.” Creative and uncommon people who are memorable and who use their time on this Earth to the fullest are usually most immoderate and never stay within the accepted limits.
The Sadducees and the Pharisees stayed within the accepted limits of Hebrew law. Jesus did neither. He immoderately loved those whom the Pharisees despised, and he immoderately shattered a great many of their rules and traditions. The most creative giants of civilization More…
In Around the web on July 13, 2012 at 8:54 am
From SARA ROBINSON
Often, religion offers much that progressives need to build movements for change
One of the great historical strengths of the progressive movement has been its resolute commitment to the separation of church and state. As progressives, we don’t want our government influenced by anybody’s religious laws. Instead of superstition and mob id, we prefer to have real science, based in real data and real evidence, guiding public policy. Instead of holy wars, othering, and social repression — the inevitable by-products of theocracy — we think that drawing from the widest possible range of philosophical traditions makes America smarter, stronger, and more durable over time.
That said: while we all want a government free of religion, there are good reasons that we may not want our own progressive movement to be shorn of every last spiritual impulse. In fact, the history of the progressive movement has shown us, over and over, that there are things that the spiritual community brings to political movements that are essential for success, and can’t easily be replaced with anything else.
Religion has been central to the formation of human communities — and to how we approach the future — for as long as homo sapiens has been around. Apart from God-belief (which varies widely between religions), all successful religions thrive and endure because they offer their adherents a variety of effective community-building, social activism, and change management tools that, taken together, make religion quite possibly the most powerful social change technology humans have ever developed.
What does religion offer that progressives need to make our movement work? More…
In Todd Walton on July 13, 2012 at 5:46 am
From TODD WALTON
“Things filled men with fear: the more things they had, the more they had to fear. Things had a way of riveting themselves on to the soul and then telling the soul what to do.” Bruce Chatwin, from The Songlines.
Marcia and I recently watched the marvelous documentary The Salt Men of Tibet, and if you’ve been feeling jangled by modern life, I think you will find this movie a helpful antidote to that jangling. The pace of the movie reflects the pace of life for these nomadic salt men who leave their womenfolk and children to walk with a great herd of yaks, forty yaks per man, to a remote salt lake from which they harvest salt to trade for barley so they and their people may survive another year. Walking to the lake takes the men and their yaks a month or so, with the return trip—each yak now burdened with two large sacks of salt—taking forty-five days or more. Thus three months of every year in the lives of these men is consumed with going and getting salt, and each minute of those three months is part of an all-encompassing sacred ritual.
The film begins in a hut in a mountainous wilderness in which there are no trees. A woman is singing to the salt men, her song the story of Lord Buddha and the events composing the spiritual basis for the reality these men and their families inhabit. The salt people are devout Buddhists and believe their salt lake to be an intelligent and emotionally sensitive being who is deeply influenced by the actions of those who wish to gain the boon of salt from her.
At the conclusion of the woman’s song, the spiritual stage now set, preparations for the incredible journey begin. What we soon realize is that these people live without electricity and motors, their fires fueled with yak dung, their clothing and rope and blankets made from yak wool, and that every aspect of their lives More…
In Around the web on July 13, 2012 at 5:30 am
From DONNA SMITH
California Nurses Association
After spending the past month on the California Nurses Association ‘Medicare for All’ bus tour in California, I am more confident than ever about the prospects of winning guaranteed healthcare for all under an improved Medicare model. Cradle to grave. For life. In California. Everywhere…
There is no question that Californians want guaranteed healthcare for all. Only a small percentage of those we have reached out to have rejected the call. And those few seem fixed on their own isolated “I-have-mine-and-I-don’t–care-about-you” mindset. Those few folks are often turned around when medical crisis strikes, and though I never wish that on anyone else, I know that in an instant life as you know it can change and leave you utterly dependent on others for our lives.
So it was perhaps fitting that last night in South L.A. when we were just getting ready to pull out of our stop at the S.C.O.P.E. offices after the screenings and town hall, our bus got stuck. One wheel perched high in the air, we were straddling the whole of Florence Avenue and going nowhere. Within seconds, traffic started to back up and people in the neighborhood jumped to try to help us. One man tried to shove wood planks under the airborne wheel to give traction but the driver feared that with any additional pressure, that wood might fly out from under the wheel and hurt or kill someone. It didn’t work. So many good people tried to help, but it just didn’t work at all.
Finally, after quite some time, a police officer stuck his head in our bus and said, “What are you all doing in the ghetto?” That seemed an odd question to ask on many levels, but perhaps speaks to where we are in terms of our shared humanity and perceptions of that humanity. The police officer facilitated getting a huge wrecker to the site to pull the bus forward and, after significant effort, return our bus to the road. More…
In Around the web on July 12, 2012 at 6:32 am
In 2001, a gentleman by the name of Grover Norquist (the titular head of Americans for Tax Reform) once (in)famously quipped that his quarter-century goal, which he described as “reasonable,” was to “get government down to the size where [conservatives could] drown it in the bathtub.” In furtherance of that (ig)noble goal, ATF sponsors and, to date, nearly 500 legislators holding federal office in the United States, have signed the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” This pledge commits them to refuse under all circumstances to vote for any tax increase of any kind unless it is offset by an equal tax cut. Ever.
Since Norquist let us all in on his destitute government wet dream in 2001, folks have at least tried to be vigilant in documenting the shrinking boundaries of the federal government’s fisc. Unfortunately, by focusing on the feds, we missed the Norquist ball soaring over our heads into the net, scoring (if something dramatic does not change pretty damned soon) the game-winning goal of drowning “the government”—by destroying the ability of state and local governments to provide for their citizenry.
Few, however, have noticed. More…
In Around the web on July 12, 2012 at 5:47 am
From THE ONION
HOUSTON—During an address Wednesday to the National Association for the Advancement of White People, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney received a lengthy standing ovation from the group of 2,000 Caucasians who had gathered to hear him speak. The NAAWP, a 400-year-old organization with a membership of nearly 8 million whites nationwide, is expected to be firmly in Romney’s camp come November. “Thank you, thank you so much,” said Romney, whose speech was repeatedly interrupted by wave after wave of raucous applause and numerous chants of “We love Mitt!” “I love you, too. Really, this is too much.” Romney’s reception came in stark contrast to the welcome given to President Barack Obama, who spoke to the NAAWP last Thursday and was loudly booed for saying, “Hello, thanks for having me.”
From ROMNEY THE LIAR
Willard, or Mittens, as he is so affectionately known here at Romney the Liar, is a person of such inveterate dishonesty that it can be truthfully said that he lies as easily as most people breathe. When you are unrestrained by any ethical scruples whatsoever and consumed by little more than the desire for power, wealth, and position, you will say anything you think necessary to acquire them. And Willard is more consumed by such desires than most politicians are. One gets the sense that were we to look inside Romney for any hint of integrity we would see nothing more than a barren desert of sociopathy, occupied by a grasping, clutching, desperate little man wholly focused on his own gain, regardless of the damage his words and actions do to others. That such a man has a realistic chance to attain the presidency of my beloved country is appalling to me. Romney outrages my sense of what an American leader should be. More
In Around the web on July 12, 2012 at 5:00 am
From REBECCA SOLNIT
Urban agriculture is producing a lot more than food
THE ANTI-WAR POET and soldier Siegfried Sassoon reports that toward the end of World War I, Winston Churchill told him that war is the normal occupation of man. Challenged, Churchill amended this to “war—and gardening.” Are the two opposites? Some agriculture is a form of war, whether it’s clearcutting rainforest, stealing land from the poor, contaminating the vicinity, or exploiting farmworkers, and some of our modern pesticides are descended from chemical warfare breakthroughs for the First World War. But gardening represents a much wider spectrum of human activity than war, and if war is an act of the state, gardening is far, far more ancient than city-states (if not nearly so old as squabbling).
Can it be the antithesis of war, or a cure for social ills, or an act of healing the divisions of the world? When you tend your tomatoes, are you producing more than tomatoes? How much more? Is peace a crop, or justice? The American Friends Service Committee set up a series of garden plots to be tended by people who’d been on opposite sides of the Yugoslavian wars, but a lot of people hope to overcome the wars of our time more indirectly through their own gardening and farming.
We are in an era when gardens are front and center for hopes and dreams of a better world or just a better neighborhood, or the fertile space where the two become one. There are farm advocates and food activists, progressive farmers and gardeners, and maybe most particular to this moment, there’s a lot of urban agriculture. These city projects hope to overcome the alienation of food, of labor, of embodiment, of land, the conflicts between production and consumption, between pleasure and work, the destructiveness of industrial agriculture, the growing problems More..
In Knuckle Dragger Alert on July 11, 2012 at 6:26 am
From MEDIA MATTERS
Did you know that American doctors are so incensed over Obamacare’s big-government communist socialism that more than eight in ten are going to quit doctoring? It’s true, according to a terribly conducted survey conducted by a shady right-wing group, reported credulously by the Daily Caller, and hyped by Matt Drudge and Fox News.
“Eighty-three percent of American physicians have considered leaving their practices over President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, according to a survey released by the Doctor Patient Medical Association,” reported the Daily Caller yesterday. What is the Doctor Patient Medical Association? The Daily Caller didn’t seem too interested (beyond calling them “a non-partisan association of doctors and patients”) so we’ll have to fill in a few gaps. More…
In Around the web on July 11, 2012 at 5:00 am
From MIKE DRONKERS
Lost Coast Outpost
84 mpg in a standard VW Passat TDI…
It can be done, as John and Helen Taylor have recently proven. And you can do it, too. More on that in a moment.
Humboldt’s gas prices are high, but last week’s North Coast Journal cover story doesn’t suggest relief anytime soon, if ever. And a quick scan of used cars on Humboldt Craigslist shows that people are holding on to their high-mpg cars. So it’s on us to figure this out.
Back to that Passat. New York Times:
“To simulate real-world driving conditions, the Taylors brought along 120 pounds of luggage and limited their driving to daylight hours. “We wanted the drive to be realistic…inspiring Americans to save on their upcoming summer driving holidays,” Mr. Taylor said.”
How did they do it?
Hypermiling is the habit of driving as efficiently as possible. Some people are able to push a Prius up to over 100 mpg, but it’ll work on any old car. More…
In Around the web on July 10, 2012 at 7:06 am
From DAVID ATKINS
Remember how Republican states were certain to accept the Medicaid money because hospitals would insist on it? And how establishment Democrats in D.C. were certain the states would accept the bargain? Well, the biggest Republican state isn’t having any of it:
Texas turned down an expansion of Medicaid coverage and said it will not create a state-run healthcare insurance exchange, joining the chorus of states that are rejecting two key proposals of the Obama administration’s healthcare overhaul measure.
In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released on Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose bid for the GOP presidential nomination fell flat this year, rejected both healthcare proposals. The move, which had been widely expected, echoes similar pronouncements by other conservative Republican governors as well as the GOP’s overall opposition to the heathcare law.
“If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare,” Perry stated. More…
In Around the web on July 10, 2012 at 6:38 am
From MICHAEL SNYDER
Most of us don’t think much about it, but the truth is that people are being watched, tracked and monitored more today than at any other time in human history. The explosive growth of technology in recent years has given governments, spy agencies and big corporations monitoring tools that the despots and dictators of the past could only dream of.Previous generations never had to deal with “pre-crime” surveillance cameras that use body language to spot criminals or unmanned drones watching them from far above. Previous generations would have never even dreamed that street lights and refrigerators might be spying on them.
Many of the incredibly creepy surveillance technologies that you are about to read about are likely to absolutely astound you. We are rapidly heading toward a world where there will be no such thing as privacy anymore. Big Brother is becoming all-pervasive, and thousands of new technologies are currently being developed that will make it even easier to spy on you. The world is changing More…
In Around the web on July 10, 2012 at 6:00 am
From ROBERT JENSEN
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
Via Organic Consumers
In 2005, I preached on the ecological crisis in a sermon I titled “Hope is for the Weak: The Challenge of a Broken World.” Looking back, I realize that I had been far too upbeat and optimistic, probably trying too hard to be liked. Today I want to correct that.
Hence, my updated title: “Hope is for the Lazy: The Challenge of Our Dead World.” Let’s start with two of the three important changes.
First, to be a hope-monger or a hope-peddler today is not just a sign of weakness but also of laziness, and sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. Don’t forget that, as good Christians, we try to avoid those.
Second, our world is not broken, it is dead. We are alive, if we choose to be, but the hierarchical systems of exploitation that structure the world in which we live — patriarchy, capitalism, nationalism, white supremacy, and the industrial model — all are dead. It’s not just that they cannot be reformed, but that they cannot, and should not, be revived. The death-worship at the heart of those ideologies More…
In Mendo Island Transition on July 9, 2012 at 6:48 am
From ROB HOPKINS
George Monbiot announced in the Guardian on Monday “We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all“, an article which concluded “peak oil hasn’t happened, and it’s unlikely to happen for a very long time”. Several people have written, and even stopped me while I’ve been out shopping, to ask for my take on his piece, so here it is. It has been a tricky thing to write, as in the time it took me to compose it, so many other interesting analyses of it have been posted, many of which I have tried to reference here. In a nutshell, I think Monbiot’s piece swallows an over-optimistic take on peak oil, and there are things in his piece that I disagree with and things that I agree with, although I don’t for a moment consider myself a peak oil expert. What he does prompt is a rethink in terms of how we present peak oil. Let’s start with the things I disagree with.
Firstly I would question the idea that it is somehow news to anyone that there are a huge amount of as-yet-unexploited hydrocarbons in the world. I first became interested in peak oil in 2004 when I met Dr. Colin Campbell More…
In Around the web on July 9, 2012 at 6:00 am
Stargazing in Times Square
From AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY | POV
Is darkness becoming extinct? When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves from rural Maine to New York City and discovers streets awash in light and skies devoid of stars, he embarks on a journey to America’s brightest and darkest corners, asking astronomers, cancer researchers and ecologists what is lost in the glare of city lights. Blending a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, The City Dark provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars.
Watch the film free online here until August 5th, 2012
The town in rural Maine where Ian Cheney spent much of his childhood has about 4,000 residents. Waldoboro had electric lights, but on a cloudless and moonless night, it was impossible not to be struck by the incredible array of stars visible above. Cheney became deeply curious about the stars, as humans have been for millennia. He followed his passion into amateur astronomy, fashioning his own homemade telescope, and then into astrophotography to capture the wondrous scenes that revealed themselves at night. More…