Embrace the Mystery…


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.

Will Parrish: Hack & Squirt, Part 1…


From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

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.

Todd Walton: Humility


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“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.”

The Green Deserts of Western Civilization…


From MASANOBU FUKUOKA
Chelsea Green

[Available at Mulligan Books -DS]

The following commentary is adapted from the posthumously published Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka (Chelsea Green, 2012). Fukuoka was the author of the international bestseller One-Straw Revolution. He died in 2008. Given the recent news about the extended drought facing much of the United States, we thought our readers might want to read Mr. Fukuoka’s deep insight into how Western agricultural practices have helped to create vast deserts across the planet, while on the surface appearing very “green.” In fact, Mr. Fukuoka notes, below the grassy surface, soils are being depleted and drained — becoming deserts under our feet. As you read this, keep in mind that Sowing Seeds in the Desert first appeared in print – in Japanese – in the mid-1990s.

Although the surface of the ground in Europe and the United States appears to be covered with a lovely green, it is only the imitation green of a managed landscape. Beneath the surface, the soil is becoming depleted due to the mistaken agricultural practices of the last two thousand years.

Much of Africa is devoid of vegetation today, while just a few hundred years ago it was covered by deep forests. According to the Statistical Research Bureau in India, the vegetation there

30 years of trickle-down Republican Reagonomics has devastated our country…


Thom Hartmann rants about how President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies have brought the U.S. to its present economic disaster.
~

From PAUL KRUGMAN
NYT

Finance Capitalism

[…] 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.
~~

Books Set In California and the Pacific Northwest…


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.

10 Science Fiction Novels You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Actually Read Them)…


From CHARLIE JANE ANDERS
io9

Science fiction and fantasy offer a rich legacy of great books — from Asimov to Pynchon, there are some fantastic, ambitious works of genre fiction out there. But they’re also daunting. So a lot of us just muddle through and pretend to have read these classics — which isn’t that hard, because they’re everywhere, and we’ve heard people talk about them so many times. We SF fans are good at pretending. But these books are classics for a reason — and they’re worth reading.

We asked some of our favorite writers, and they told us the 10 science fiction and fantasy books that everybody pretends to have read — and the reasons why you should read them for real. Here they are, in no particular order.

1) Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson’s 1999 novel features World War II code-breakers and 1997 geeks in a complex, interlocking storyline.

Gene Logsdon: The Wild Empire Strikes Back…


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

Bill Edelen leads quest to explore life’s mystery…


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 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

The Story of Change: Why Citizens (Not Shoppers) Hold The Key To A Better World…



~~

What’s happening in the world of Transition…

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

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
~~

Our youths face a lifetime of rent, debt and insecurity…


From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Guardian

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

Global Warming: Heat Records Exceed Cold by Increasing Margins…


From PETER SINCLAIR
Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Climate Central:

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.
~~

Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically-Modified Seeds…


From BILL MOYERS

BILL MOYERS: We turn now from one champion of the public interest to another. From Sheila Bair fighting for greater oversight of the big banks to a global advocate for social justice named Vandana Shiva.

VANDANA SHIVA: We need a new paradigm for living on the earth because the old one is clearly not working.

BILL MOYERS: The last time we spoke with her, she was battling Coca-Cola and other multinational giants over the privatization of water in her native India—including the waters of the sacred river Ganges. Since then, Vandana Shiva has become a rock star in the worldwide battle over genetically modified seeds. Those are seeds aggressively marketed around the world by big companies like Monsanto to not only increase, but also to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge their safety, claim they harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt and dependent on suppliers.

Following Europe’s example, many American consumers are demanding that food products made from genetically modified seeds be labeled.

Fukushima: The nuclear pushers must be stopped…


From KARL GROSSMAN
Counterpunch

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

War Is Betrayal…


From CHRIS HEDGES
Boston Review

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.

Dear California State Parks Department…


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…

William Edelen: Reflections at age 90…


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

Six Reasons We Can’t Change The Future Without Progressive Religion…


From SARA ROBINSON
AlterNet

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?

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