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Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Better School Lunches Should Taste Better Too

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on October 31, 2012 at 5:00 am

From GENE LOGSDON

Seems to me that if we want school kids to eat lettuce, broccoli, carrots, peas, green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, whole wheat bread, fruit cocktail etc. etc., we have an obligation to make these foods taste as good as fast food hamburgers and French fries. MacDonald ‘s spent millions of dollars developing its French fry and now we want the kids to eat instead untried sliced, browned potatoes that I’m sorry to say, are not nearly as tasty. Ask any school kid.

Have you eaten a school lunch lately? I don’t want to criticize the cooks at all because they work hard and do the best they can, given the circumstances. About all they have to work with are mass-produced, canned products or “fresh” products from distant places. Commercially canned peas, green beans, or sweet corn taste awful to me and the fresh lettuce out of supermarkets is not very desirable either. Mechanical vegetable harvesters can’t handle peas and corn at their tenderest, most tasty stage and factory-processed food of whatever kind just isn’t as good as home-cooked. Just because bread is brown doesn’t mean it tastes good. Mass production equals mediocre taste and most school lunches are by definition mass-produced. When I ate school lunches with my grandsons on Grandparents’ Days, I noticed that most of the vegetables went right off the plates into the garbage buckets.

It’s good to see some new programs developing like the “National Farm To School” project and other efforts to link up local fresh fruits and vegetables with school lunch programs. An article in the Farm and Dairy magazine of October 11vreports that local food is being served in various counties in West Virginia (and I presume other states) and some cafeterias are actually cooking from scratch instead of heating up from cans. In one project, students planted and picked the beans that were fed to them in the cafeteria for two days. I have doubts that such dedication and pilot programs will continue, because school time occurs mostly when fresh garden produce isn’t available. But West Virginia’s Ag Department has thought of that too, and in some instances high tunnel greenhouses have become part of the effort to deliver local fresh food to schools through the winter.

Accompanying these programs there should be more experienced efforts employed in selecting good tasting vegetables and fruits. Everyone has his or her own taste, but I’m sure that those of us with long gardening experience will agree that most commercial sweet corn is harvested too late or served too stale. Peas are often picked too late, even from gardens where machines aren’t involved. Commercial peaches and tomatoes are picked too green. People complain to me that store-bought potatoes increasingly have an off taste now. I don’t know why, perhaps from being stored too long. Select varieties (Red Norland is my favorite but there are others) direct from the garden or even after four month storage, are so good. Likewise the taste of apples varies widely. I’ll bet a MacDonald hamburger that if children had access to the new Honey Crisp apple, they’d prefer it to candy.

More…

Last Week of the Vegetable CSA 2012…

In Around Mendo Island on October 31, 2012 at 4:53 am

butternut

From ADAM & PAULA
Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA

Our Vegetable CSA shareholders enjoy a weekly newsletter sent via email. Here’s a peak at how we ended our veggie CSA season. Be sure to read our “Last Notes” – a farewell until next growing season!

In Your Share this Week – Ukiah

  • Butternut Squash
  • Pie Pumpkin
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Baby Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • French Shallots

Wine grapes are getting picked. Olives are ready for harvest. Reggae music is drifting through the neighborhood. Fall harvest is an active, energizing time of the year in Mendocino County, and the weather could not be more beautiful. Just in time for this last distribution, we have spinach, broccoli, and some baby roots. The turnip greens are good in soup, like miso soup. If you haven’t tried shallots before, they are a sweet allium great for any cooking.

Butternut is probably the most popular winter squash. They will last for a few weeks in a cool, dry place. You can slice it thinly, coat in olive oil, and bake for a delicious side dish. The other night, we couldn’t finish a butternut squash we baked, so the next day, we cut the remaining half into strips and cooked it in oil, almost like French fries. They were so good!

If you’re looking for a spiced up soup this fall, here is a good one from Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine (November 2012):

Butternut Squash Soup with Red Chile & Mint

Serves 4

Prep 10 min.

Cook 1 hr.

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp. crumbled dried mint
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 2-3 tsp. ground red chile or ancho chile, plus more for garnish
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
  • Sliced fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • t bsp. heavy cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve and seed the squash. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh and measure out 2 cups.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, 1 tbsp. basil and the dried mint. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash, cinnamon stick, ground chile and 1 tsp. coarse salt. Stir in the stock or water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Break up any large squash pieces with a spoon, or pulse in a blender or with an immersion blender to smooth. More…

Monopoly Is Theft…

In Around the web on October 30, 2012 at 7:14 am

From HARPER’S

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game

[...] The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”

For close to thirty years after Magie fashioned her first board on an old piece of pressed wood, The Landlord’s Game was played in various forms and under different names—“Monopoly,” “Finance,” “Auction.” It was especially popular among Quaker communities in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, as well as among economics professors and university students who’d taken an interest in socialism… Complete story here
~~

Transition Town Fujino goes for local energy independence…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 30, 2012 at 6:30 am

From RESILIENCE

Fujino Town in Sagamihara City in Japan’s northwestern Kanagawa Prefecture is a peaceful place with a population of about 10,000 people. Located in a valley and surrounded by abundant nature with mountains and lakes, though it is only one hour away from central Tokyo, it is known as an artists’ haven, promoting and displaying art works around town.

Fujino (officially renamed Midori Ward in 2010) is also home to a Transition Town initiative. As we have explained before on Our World 2.0, the Transition Town Movement is an international network of grassroots groups that form to apply the theory of permaculture to community revitalization. The concept of permaculture, which originated in Australia, is a practical approach to designing a lifestyle that will create sustainable human environments. The word “permaculture” comes from the combination of “permanent” and “agriculture”, later expanded to signify “culture”.

Working to build resilience in the face of climate change and peak oil, the Transition approach can be particularly instructive in demonstrating how to accomplish this shift using bottom-up rather than top-down methods (the top-down approach has been characteristic of most Japanese eco-towns). The Transition Movement promotes action at the local level and encourages communities to draw on their own creativity, building on existing regional resources.

The world’s first Transition Town was initiated in the fall of 2005 by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins in Totnes, a small town in England. Supporters promoted the movement across England and all over the world. Currently, there are around 450 official Transition Initiatives and another almost 600 communities preparing to become official, according to the Transition Network.

Going local in Fujino

Fujino is one of three fully functioning Transition Movement initiatives in Japan, although over twenty are in the works. Established in the fall of 2008, Transition Fujino (which we’ve featured on Our World a few times in the past) started up by sharing information on the core issues through events like briefings and film presentations.

Then a local currency, the Yorozuya (meaning “general store” in Japanese), was launched and began playing a major role in stimulating local networking. The Yorozuya project started with 15 members in 2009 and has now grown to include 150 households. Those participating can exchange goods and eat at restaurants using the currency. The network also thrives by targeting local needs, such as providing pet care, weeding vegetable gardens, and picking up children. It further serves to connect those in need with those who can give a hand. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the network displayed a great ability to support disaster-affected areas by collecting cash donations, gathering and sorting emergency relief supplies More…

Barbara Kingsolver Takes On Climate Change…

In Around Mendo Island on October 29, 2012 at 6:15 am

From MICHAEL SHAPIRO
Press Democrat

Barbara Kingsolver, Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, presented by Copperfield’s Books, 7 p.m., Thursday Nov. 15, 546-3600 or wellsfargocenterarts.org, copperfieldsbooks.com

Barbara Kingsolver, whose novels’ deep evocation of place has made her a national treasure, almost tossed her first book into the trash.

“I had no way of knowing that it could matter to anyone else. I didn’t dream I could be a writer,” she said in a phone interview this month, in advance of a 10-city tour that brings her to Santa Rosa and Corte Madera on Nov. 15.

Instead of discarding her manuscript of “The Bean Trees,” Kingsolver drove to a mailbox in an Arizona mall and sent it to a publisher.

“I was nine and a half months pregnant. I got out of the car and wobbled over and said, ‘Here you go, goodbye.’ It felt kind of like throwing it in the trash can,” she said. “I was pretty sure the results would be exactly the same.”

Kingsolver’s latest novel, “Flight Behavior”, is due out November 6

Fortunately for Kingsolver and the legions of people who became her fans, “The Bean Trees” was published in 1988 and became a critical and commercial success.

“The Poisonwood Bible,” her 1998 book about a missionary family that goes deep into the Congo, was selected by Oprah’s Book Club and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Raised in rural Kentucky, Kingsolver, 57, studied biology at Indiana’s DePauw University. In 1978 she moved to Tucson, earned a graduate science degree and worked as a science writer at the University of Arizona.

In the 1990s, Kingsolver met and married biology professor Steven Hopp at a college in southwestern Virginia; in 2004, Kingsolver moved there, and two years later the couple had a daughter, Lily.

Her new novel, “Flight Behavior,” takes on the topic of global warming and is set in Appalachia, where Kingsolver grew up and where she again lives. It will be published Nov. 6.

Following are highlights of a phone conversation with Kingsolver:

Q. Can you tell me about the title of your new book?
A. What I love about a good title is that it can function as a key that unlocks every important door in the book. Until I have that title, I’m not happy. More…

Our Words Are Our Weapons — Against the Destruction of the World by Greed…

In Around the web on October 29, 2012 at 6:10 am


From REBECCA SOLNIT
TomDispatch

In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money.

This was part of what made Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign so electrifying: he seemed like a man who spoke our language and called many if not all things by their true names. Whatever caused that season of clarity, once elected, Obama promptly sank into the stale, muffled, parallel-universe language wielded by most politicians, and has remained there ever since. Meanwhile, the far right has gotten as far as it has by mislabeling just about everything in our world — a phenomenon which went supernova in this year of “legitimate rape,” “the apology tour,” and “job creators.”  Meanwhile, their fantasy version of economics keeps getting more fantastic. (Maybe there should be a rectification of numbers, too.)

Let’s rectify some names ourselves. We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I’m not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.

Calling lies “lies” and theft “theft” and violence “violence,” loudly, clearly, and consistently, until truth becomes more than a bump in the road, is a powerful aspect of political activism. Much of the work around human rights begins with accurately and aggressively reframing the status quo as an outrage, whether it’s misogyny or racism or poisoning the environment. What protects an outrage are disguises, circumlocutions, and euphemisms — “enhanced interrogation techniques” for torture, “collateral damage” for killing civilians, “the war on terror” for the war against you and me and our Bill of Rights.

Change the language and you’ve begun to change the reality or at least to open the status quo to question. Here is Confucius on the rectification of names:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.” More…

Transition: Rethink the idea of “Jobs”…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 29, 2012 at 5:50 am

From ECONOMIC RESILIENCE

Becoming a jack of all trades and a master of one…

“Jobs” as we know them today — paychecks from large corporate employers — are a very recent phenomenon in human history. Within our new understanding of the future economy, this form of earning a living is not too likely to continue.

Even the idea of “green jobs” is deeply flawed. Many of the “green” jobs are completely dependent upon government funding. Some supposedly “green” jobs are in tech-centric industries, dependent upon oil, overseas manufacturing, and continued supply of trace elements, all of which will be difficult to sustain as we move deeper into the post-peak-everything era. Most “green” industries are built upon the presumption of economic growth, and depend on continued societal affluence to get the fledgling “green” industries off the ground. And many so-called “green” industries merely provide green-cast consumption, perpetuating the five-planets-worth-of-consumption which we have told each other is “normal.”

The role of “employee” of a giant facility controlled by corporate executives is part of the fading past. If we are to achieve The Great Redistribution, there will be a redistribution of ownership. As we Relocalize and powerdown, making a living is much more likely to be in the role of “proprietor,” rather than employee.

Income sources in the future are less likely to look like paychecks and far more likely to look like local businesses, home businesses, or barter businesses. These small businesses are likely to be providing some of the basic, core services that local community members need, such as food, water, basic shelter, basic clothing, low-input forms of health care, and human services such as psychological and spiritual help in coping with this vastly altered course of events. (more on this at Practical Tool #4) All those Reskilling classes we create within the Transition movement begin to look very different!

Remember that in the not-so-distant past, people thought not in terms of “jobs” but in terms of “trades.” A young boy was sent out to apprentice and learn a craft or a trade. Yes, some people did have jobs, but they were nothing like the massive oil-supported corporate structure we see today. People farmed food, people crafted everyday necessary tools, people made clothing, people nursed each other, all done locally. In a post-petroleum world, the globalized corporate structure is doomed. We will be left with a lot more community-level sufficiency. In our March 2009 economics session in Los Angeles, when we asked the audience the types of businesses we would need for greater resilience here in L.A., the list was extensive and inspiring.

Thus more likely possibilities for future livelihoods include small businesses in resilience-building industries, or working for a local businessman within a resilience-building industry. This becomes important not only for “how will I pay the rent” but also when we consider the messages we give our children More…

Todd Walton: Zero Population Growth

In Todd Walton on October 26, 2012 at 5:25 am

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“The chief cause for the impending collapse of the world—the cause sufficient in and by itself—is the enormous growth of the human population: the human flood. The worst enemy of life is too much life: the excess of human life.” Pentti Linkola

Decades ago I joined an organization called Zero Population Growth, a group founded by Paul Ehrlich dedicated to educating people and elected officials about the dire need to take political and educational action to combat overpopulation in America and around the world. I liked the name of the organization because it said clearly what we wanted to do: intentionally reduce the human birth rate so human population would begin to decline and the earth might be saved. However, some years ago during a time when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House, funding grew scarce for organizations espousing such radical ideas as limiting population growth, and in order to survive, Zero Population Growth changed its name to Population Connection.

Did the name change help? Apparently so, because the organization lives on and continues to do valuable work. The Reporter, the magazine of Population Connection, dedicates one issue per year to an extensive Congressional Report Card wherein the battle lines are clearly drawn and readers are shown a Congress very much under the sway of ignorant morons who routinely vote against any legislation to fund or enhance family planning or birth control both here and abroad. Ignorant morons doesn’t quite do these particular hominids justice. Evil malicious poopheads would be more accurate; and it is both fascinating and sad to see that the vast majority of these EMP’s are from the South and Midwest; which is not to say that the South and Midwest are hotbeds of ignorance and misogyny and the rest of the country is enlightened, but to suggest that the South and Midwest are hotbeds of ignorance and misogyny.

Say what I will about there being little difference More…

ZPG: We Still Exist. Here’s What We’re About…

In Around the web on October 26, 2012 at 5:20 am

From JOHN SEAGER
Population Connection 

Last Friday, Slate.com reporter Emily Bazelon wrote a post about a confusing quote made by Ruth Bader Ginsburg three years ago. Bazelon might have cleared up what Bader Ginsburg said, but it certainly didn’t do anything to clear up Population Connection’s position on population growth, women’s rights and social justice! President John Seager straightens things out here:

It was nice to see Slate clear up some misunderstandings about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views on abortion and feminism (Talking to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oct. 19). Unfortunately, the explanation might have engendered some new misunderstandings – about our organization.

First of all, Zero Population Growth didn’t disappear with the VW buses and Birkenstocks. We still exist – both as a nonprofit organization and a movement. We’re now called Population Connection, and the movement is centered on expanding human rights – making sure every person who wants it has access to voluntary family planning, fighting for social justice and protecting the planet we all depend upon. We are a pro-choice organization not out of some drive to reduce “certain populations,” but because we support women’s rights. Period.

However, two things have changed since the heyday of interest in population growth. Number one: The world’s population has nearly doubled. Number two: Nobody wants to talk about it. Any suggestion that the planet has limits tends to brand one as some sort of eugenicist, as Jonah Goldberg so ably demonstrated.

Currently, our Earth’s population stands at more than 7 billion. Count noses in 1974, and there were 4 billion of us. The United Nations projects that by 2050, we could have anywhere from 8.1 billion (if contraception access is expanded) to 10.6 billion.

Perhaps that eye-popping number wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for several inconvenient truths. One is that growth in agriculture yields is not keeping pace with population growth – meaning a lot more hungry people in the future. Another is that clean water More…

Dave Smith: Still the Best Damn Pizza in the Universe Bar None… (Update)

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on October 26, 2012 at 5:15 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah
Repost

When I make pizza at home, I always, always, pile way too much and way too many different ingredients on. I guess because it seems to be the American way of living large or something. Or maybe it’s because of all the choices available at Round Table and you fall into a pattern of having tons on top.

Here in Ukiah we have several good choices when we’re hankerin’ for something cheezy and greezy. There are home town favorite Marino’s and the ever-present Round Table. There are the (ugh) cheapo national chains. Schat’s offers tempting varieties sitting there amongst the croissants and sticky buns. And only recently the new owners of the Brewpub installed a pizza oven, hired away one of the Round Table managers, and offer pretty good selections which I assume are all organic. [And, just open, a new pizza restaurant on Standley.]

And then there are Greg’s pizzas at Mama’s downtown (formerly Local Flavor, and before that the Garden Bakery). Greg Shimshak says he learned pizza-making “from mama” and then honed his skills while learning and working at Alice Water’s legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley. While there, he worked with our beloved Jacquie Lee who eventually migrated to Ukiah and opened the Garden Bakery, then retired and rented the building to Greg and Heidi. And that is why we have great, great pizzas available here in Ukiah.

I’m no sniffin’ hoity toity… my taste buds are very peasanty. Why Greg’s pizzas are incomparable is the difference between piling on the goop and the subtlety of blending just the right amount (not too much) of just the right combination of ingredients for the tastious flavors: field mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, fresh herbs; wilted kale, chorizo, onion, fontina; wilted spinach, basil pesto, onion, tomato sauce, goat cheese. And the thin crust? OMG! More…

Transition Streets: A powerful tool for getting beyond the converted…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 25, 2012 at 9:40 am

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

I have written several times here about ‘Transition Streets’, the street-by-street behaviour change model created by Transition Town Totnes which was the winner of the 2011 Ashden Award for behaviour change.  There is a good evidence base now, showing how it enables a Transition (or other) group to reach the parts that other community engagement projects may not, becoming ‘green by accident’ by having a good time.  It is an approach to change which is self-propelling with tea.  It embodies the Transition commitment to self-organisation, the groups managing themselves and determining themselves once the project has been set running.  Here is a short video about it.

What I am delighted to announce today is that now Transition Streets (also known as ‘Streets-Wise’) is available for any group to run, anywhere.

So, award-winning community engagement project Transition Streets has done the legwork to create a tried-and-tested way to break down the barriers and bring people together to take action on energy – and a new Streets-wise programme is now available for community groups to adapt the project to their own area.

Transition Streets from Transition Town Totnes (TTT) has inspired over 550 households – who may not identify themselves as environmentalists – to make changes in their lives to help the environment (80% Totnes compared to 51% nationally, DECC LCCC baseline research, 2011). It has also increased TTT’s influence on local development. More…

Why Even President Obama Won’t Champion Social Security…

In Around the web, Social Security on October 25, 2012 at 9:31 am


From DEAN BAKER
The Guardian

Although millions of middle-class Americans strongly support social security, big bucks campaign donors hate it. That’s why…

It is remarkable that social security hasn’t been a more prominent issue in the presidential race. After all, Governor Romney has proposed a plan that would imply cuts of more than 40% for middle-class workers just entering the labor force. Since social security is hugely popular across the political spectrum, it would seem that President Obama could gain an enormous advantage by clearly proclaiming his support for the program. After stock market shocks and housing bubble, social security has become an even more vital source of retirement income.

But President Obama has consistently refused to rise to the defense of social security. In fact, in the first debate, he explicitly took the issue off the table, telling the American people that there is not much difference between his position on social security and Romney’s.

On its face, this is difficult to understand. In addition to being good politics, there are also solid policy grounds for defending social security. The social security system is perhaps the greatest success story of any program in US history. By providing a core retirement income, it has lifted tens of millions of retirees and their families out of poverty. It also provides disability insurance to almost the entire workforce. The amount of fraud in the system is minimal, and the administrative costs are less than one 20th as large as the costs of private-sector insurers.

In addition, the program is more necessary now than ever. The economic mismanagement of the last two decades has left the baby boomers ill-prepared for retirement – few have traditional pensions. The stock market crashes of the last 15 years have left 401(k)s depleted More…

Prop 37: Monsanto’s Lies and the GMO Labeling Battle…

In Food, Industrial Agriculture on October 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

From JOHN ROBBINS
Beyond Chron

You may have never heard of Henry I. Miller, but right now he is attempting to determine the future of food in this country. And he has enormous financial backing.

Mr. Miller is the primary face and voice of the “No on Prop 37” campaign in California. At this very moment, Monsanto and other pesticide companies are spending more than $1 million a day to convince California voters that it’s not in their best interest to know whether the food they eat is genetically engineered. And Henry I. Miller is their guy.

If you live in California today, he’s hard to miss. You see him in TV ads, hear him in radio spots, and his face is all over the expensive fliers that keep showing up uninvited in your mail box. Initially, the ads presented Miller as a Stanford doctor. But he isn’t. He’s a research fellow at a conservative think tank (the Hoover Institute) that has offices on the Stanford campus. When this deceptive tactic came to light, the ads were pulled and then redone. But they still feature Miller trying to convince the public that Prop 37 “makes no sense,” and that it’s a “food-labeling scheme written by trial lawyers who hope for a windfall if it becomes law.”

Actually, Prop 37 makes all the sense in the world if you want to know what’s in the food you eat. It was written by public health advocates, and provides no economic incentives for filing lawsuits.

Who, then, is Henry I. Miller, and why should we believe him when he tells us that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe?

Does it matter that this same Henry Miller is an ardent proponent of DDT and other toxic pesticides? Does it matter that the “No on Prop 37” ads are primarily funded by pesticide companies, the very same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe?

I find it hard to avoid the impression that Henry Miller is a premier corporate flack. More…

John Ikerd: The industrialization of agriculture has been an absolute failure… I believe in the future of sustainable farming…

In Around the web on October 24, 2012 at 5:30 am

From JOHN IKERD [2]
Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics
University of Missouri Columbia
College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

I believe that to live and work on a good farm is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of farm life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations, which even in the hours of discouragement, I cannot deny. (An excerpt from the creed of the Future Farmers of America)

During my high school years, I was a member of the Future Farmers of America or FFA. Since then name has been changed to simply FFA – agribusiness has replaced farming as the focus of the once-popular organization.  During my times, the FFA Creed began with the words: I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words but of deeds.  I believed those words then, and I believe them even more today. However, I do not believe there is any future in the kind of farming or agribusiness the FFA is promoting today.  I believe we are living through the end of an era in America and the rest of the so-called developed world, including the end of agribusiness and the rebirth of real farming in America.

When I finished high school, there was only room for one family on our farm, and my younger brother never wanted to do anything other than farm. So I left the farming to him and choose a career where I could at least work with farmers if not be a farmer. However, if I were a young man today, I would find some way to become a farmer. The opportunities are far greater now than when I was young. For example, it doesn’t take as much land or money today to start a successful small farm. More important, we are in the midst of a great transition that eventually will transform virtually every aspect of American life. This great transition More…

From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education…

In Around the web on October 24, 2012 at 5:25 am

Photo taken at UC Berkeley in February, by jankyHellface

From AARON BADY and MIKE KONCZAL
Dissent

The California student movement has a slogan that goes, “Behind every fee hike, a line of riot cops.” And no one embodies that connection more than the Ronald Reagan of the 1960s. Elected governor of California in 1966 after running a scorched-earth campaign against the University of California, Reagan vowed to “clean up that mess in Berkeley,” warned audiences of “sexual orgies so vile that I cannot describe them to you,” complained that outside agitators were bringing left-wing subversion into the university, and railed against spoiled children of privilege skipping their classes to go to protests. He also ran on an anti-tax platform and promised to put the state’s finances in order by “throw[ing] the bums off welfare.” But it was the University of California at Berkeley that provided the most useful political foil, crystallizing all of his ideological themes into a single figure for disorder, a subversive menace of sexual, social, generational, and even communist deviance.

When Reagan assumed office, he immediately set about doing exactly what he had promised. He cut state funding for higher education, laid the foundations for a shift to a tuition-based funding model, and called in the National Guard to crush student protest, which it did with unprecedented severity. But he was only able to do this because he had already successfully shifted the political debate over the meaning and purpose of public higher education in America. The first “bums” he threw off welfare were California university students. Instead of seeing the education of the state’s youth as a patriotic duty and a vital weapon in the Cold War, he cast universities as a problem in and of themselves—both an expensive welfare program and dangerously close to socialism. He even argued for the importance of tuition-based funding by suggesting that if students had to pay, they’d value their education too much to protest.

It’s important to remember this chapter in California history because it may, in retrospect, have signaled More…

Russell Means on Matriarchy: If you don’t know how to nurture, then you’re going to be afraid…

In Around the web on October 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

 

See also Comments on Patriarchy vis-à-vis Matriarchy
and…
Matriarchy is the Answer to a World in Crisis
~~

Rigging Election for Romney…

In Around the web on October 23, 2012 at 7:30 am

From MICHAEL COLLINS
OpEdNews
Thanks to Herb Ruhs

 A group of independent researchers caught a pattern of apparent vote flipping during the 2012 Republican primaries that consistently favored Mitt Romney. A form of election fraud, vote flipping occurs when votes are changed from one candidate to another or several others during electronic voting and vote tabulation.

Vote flipping is difficult to detect because the vote totals remain the same for each precinct. In one of several possible scenarios, an instruction is given to a precinct level voting machine or to a county-level central tabulator. The corrupted totals from precincts are sent from county election officials to state elections board and published as final results. (Primary documents for this article: Republican Primary Election 2012 Results: Amazing Statistical Anomalies, August 13, 2012 and 2008/2012 Election Anomalies, Results, Analysis and Concerns, September 2012).

The group’s analysis is based on raw data from primary sources, local precincts, and state and county election records. The pattern of vote flipping raises serious doubts about the Romney victories in the 2012 Republican primaries in Wisconsin and the Ohio. Apparent vote flipping was demonstrated in the group’s paper for at least nine other 2012 Republican primaries as well.

The findings showed a consistent pattern of increasing votes and vote percentages for Romney in the precinct vote tally. The pattern emerges when precinct vote tallies are presented by candidate based on the size of a county precinct.

Wisconsin, for example, is represented in the graph above. Moving from the smallest to largest precincts, you can see Romney’s percent of the vote takes off and those of the others drop after about 7% of the votes are counted. Romney’s percentage of precinct votes goes up (the upward slope of the green line) while those of the three other candidates decline. More…

How the rich and greedy stole the American dream all for themselves…

In Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya, Books on October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am

From DAN FROOMKIN

Who stole the American Dream? The short answer to the question in the title of Hedrick Smith’s new book is: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Wal-Mart.

But the longer answer is one heck of a story, told by one of the great journalists of our time.

In his sweeping, authoritative examination of the last four decades of the American economic experience, Smith describes the long, relentless decline of the middle class — a decline that was not by accident, but by design.

He dates it back to a private memo — in effect, a political call to arms — issued to the nation’s business leaders in 1971 by Lewis F. Powell, Jr., a corporate attorney soon to become a Supreme Court justice. From that point forward, Smith writes, corporate America threw off any sense of restraint or social obligation and instead unstintingly leveraged its money and political power to pursue its own interests.

The result was nothing less than a shift in gravity. Starting in the early 1970s, every major economic trend — increased productivity, globalization, tax law overhauls, and the phasing out of pensions in favor of 401(k)s — produced the same result: The benefits fell upward.

Smith, a 1970 Nieman Fellow, is at his very best as he examines, one by one, the key economic shifts of the last 40 years and shows that in each case the money flowed to the very richest Americans, particularly those on Wall Street, while impoverishing the middle class.

Nowhere was that more blatantly the case than in the housing sector. We are all well aware of how the bursting of the housing bubble has left many middle-class Americans without the nest egg they were counting on for their retirement. More…

Narcissistic Consumerism and Self-Destruction…

In Around the web on October 22, 2012 at 6:13 am

From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
of tw0 minds

The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism now include narcissistic consumerism and definancialization…

Today I’m going to tie together the major themes I have been discussing in the context of Japan being the bellwether of economic stagnation and social recession.The basic idea is that Japan offers a limited but still insightful experiment in what happens to advanced consumer-driven economies as definancialization hollows out the economy.What happens is that economic malaise leads to profound social recession that affects society, workplaces, families, individuals that then feeds back into the economic stagnation.

Definancialization is the process in which excessive speculation, debt, leverage reverse, crushing the economy with malinvestment and legacy debt while the crony-capitalist Central State attempts to stem the resulting deflation with massive, sustained Keynesian stimulus (fiscal deficits).

What we’re seeing in Japan is the confluence of three dynamics: definancialization, the demise of growth-positive demographics and the devolution of the consumerist model of endless “demand” and “growth.”

Japan is the leading-edge of the crumbling model of advanced neoliberal capitalism: that consumerist excess creates wealth, prosperity and happiness.

What consumerist excess actually creates is alienation, social atomization, narcissism, and a profound contradiction at the heart of the consumerist-dependent model of “growth”: the narcissism that powers consumerist lust and identity is at odds with the demands of the workplace that generates the income needed to consume.

One theme that weaves together this week’s essays on Japan is the cultural/economic shift that is eroding the traditional Japanese corporate workplace. More…

McGovern Never Sold His Soul…

In Around the web on October 22, 2012 at 5:30 am

From CHRIS HEDGES

In the summer of 1972, when I was 15, I persuaded my parents to let me ride my bike down to the local George McGovern headquarters every morning to work on his campaign. McGovern, who died early Sunday morning in South Dakota at the age of 90, embodied the core values I had been taught to cherish. My father, a World War II veteran like McGovern, had taken my younger sister and me to protests in support of the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War. He taught us to stand up for human decency and honesty, no matter the cost. He told us that the definitions of business and politics, the categories of winners and losers, of the powerful and the powerless, of the rich and the poor, are meaningless if the price for admission requires that you sell your soul. And he told us something that the whole country, many years later, now knows: that George McGovern was a good man.

McGovern, even before he ran for president, held heroic stature for us. In 1970 he attached to a military procurement bill the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment, which would have required, through a cutoff of funding, a withdrawal of all American forces from Indochina. The amendment did not pass, although the majority of Americans supported it. McGovern denounced on the Senate floor the politicians who, by refusing to support the amendment, prolonged the war. We instantly understood the words he spoke. They were the words of a preacher.

“Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave,” he said. “This chamber reeks of blood. Every senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval [hospitals] and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many More…

William Edelen: The American Indian

In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on October 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm

From WILLIAM EDELEN
Special to The Desert Sun

As one who has studied the Plains Indians at the Graduate level at the University of Colorado, and as one who is ordained in the United Church of Christ (Congregational) the farce of Friday nights “debate” combined with the ignorance of one of the participants sent my blood pressure to a new level.

The bigotry and obscenities inflicted upon the American Indians by Christian missionaries constitute one of the most repugnant periods of American history.  But among the more enlightened elements of the Christian church there have been signs of maturing spirituality. I refer to the recent requests for forgiveness to the Native American people. The warm and touching apology from Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders of the Pacific Northwest reads as follows:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: This is a formal apology on behalf of our churches for the destruction of Native American spiritual practices. Your spiritual power can be a great gift to us. We ask for  your forgiveness and blessing.”

This was signed by the senior Bishops, or Executives, of the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Congregational churches.

The United Church of Christ (Congregational), the church of my ordination issued another apology of their own:

“We bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the ongoing injustice and religious imperialism that have been so disruptive of the spiritual values of Indian life and culture. The effect of the Christian missionary legacy, and the Christian influence has been the disparagement and undermining of the Indian culture and a spiritual impoverishment. The missionaries were blinded by a religious ethnocentrism. The depth of this tragedy is now being realized. We take full responsibility for our part in the ongoing atrocity, and we express to you, our brothers and sisters, a deeply felt sorrow and penitent spirit.” More…

Will Parrish: The Struggles Of Local Sacred Sites…

In Will Parrish on October 19, 2012 at 6:09 am

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

It was 520 years ago this week that a lost Italian seaman flying the Spanish flag washed ashore on the Bahama Islands, three-quarters of a world away from where he thought he was, and became known as one of history’s greatest navigators. When Christopher Columbus and the other crewmembers of the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria arrived in the Western Hemisphere, roughly 100 million people lived here, dwelling on landbases from the tip of Alaska to the tip of South America. Their cultures were as staggeringly diverse as the lands they inhabited.

Thanks in no small part to Columbus, that diversity — and the tens of millions of people whose individual lives embodied it — were devoured in the centuries that followed by the insatiable maw of European capitalism, which ate Indian flesh to feed its global expansion.

According to the conservative estimates of Spanish surveys, an estimated eight million people lived in the places where the Colombus’ crews feverishly sought new sources of gold, silks, and slaves: the Caribbean Islands and the eastern shores of parts of mainland South America. During Columbus’ tenure as “viceroy and governor” of the region from 1493 until 1500, he instituted policies of slavery (encomienda) and the systematic murder and rape of the Taino population. Dominican priest Bartolome de Las Casas was the first European historian in the Americas. In a 1496 survey, he estimated that over five million people had been exterminated within the first three years of the Columbus’ rule.

In addition to inflicting a nearly unfathomable scale of death on indigenous peoples, Columbus was perhaps the premier slave trader of his time. Before he sailed the Atlantic, he was a slave trader for the Portuguese, transporting West African people to Portugal to be sold as slaves. More…

Todd Walton: Inventing Ourselves

In Todd Walton on October 19, 2012 at 6:00 am

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.” John Ciardi

My last few trips to the village of Mendocino have coincided with the lunchtime release of the children from the high school on the hill—dozens of young ones wandering singly and in groups down into the miniature commercial district to buy food and drink and to escape the air of confinement and regimentation that is so antithetical to the spirit of the young.

Some of the kids wander as far as Big River Beach to smoke pot or sunbathe or commingle with scruffy older boys and girls, some of whom are homeless, some simply at loose ends as they haunt the beach and headlands, waiting for Godot. But most of the high school kids go straight to their chosen food sources—Mendocino Market & Deli (across the street from the post office), Harvest Market, Frankie’s, the bakery, Moody’s, Mendo Burgers—purchase their goodies and boomerang back to campus where they scarf their food and socialize until the bell tolls for them to resume what we hope is meaningful education but fear is mind-numbing incarceration.

Watching this lunchtime parade of teens often puts me in mind of my own time in high school (1963-1967), a death-defying adventure in communal insanity, the insanity of puberty in America and the desperate search for a workable way to survive the frightening world of our parents and their fellow adult imbeciles who seemed hell bent on destroying the planet before we had a chance to write a good song or get laid.

I think it must be the costumes the Mendocino teens are trying on these days that most remind me of my own high school experience—that search for the perfect apparel to capture the essence of who we hope to be. Look! Here are three lovely young women walking shoulder to shoulder, each clutching a cell phone—a full-blown hippy, a quintessential geek, a scantily clad prostitute. More…

Daniel Ellsberg Urges Activists in Swing States to Vote For Obama…

In Around the web on October 18, 2012 at 8:00 am

From DANIEL ELLSBERG
Truthdig

The following statement written by Daniel Ellsberg was originally released by RootsAction.org.

It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.

The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine — progressives, especially activists — to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.

An activist colleague recently said to me: “I hear you’re supporting Obama.”

I was startled, and took offense. “Supporting Obama? Me?!”

“I lose no opportunity publicly,” I told him angrily, to identify Obama as a tool of Wall Street, a man who’s decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who’s launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. “Would you call that support?

My friend said, “But on Democracy Now you urged people in swing states to vote for him!  How could you say that? I don’t live in a swing state, but I will not and could not vote for Obama under any circumstances.”

My answer was: a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better — no different — on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.

More…

Scapegoat-in-Chief: The Race for the Oval Office…

In Around the web on October 18, 2012 at 7:46 am


From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute

The first two U.S. presidential debates have been painful to watch. Both candidates are running on platforms constructed from verbal hallucinations about the nation’s past, present, and future. And the American people are being asked to choose between those hallucinations in order to select the best available scapegoat for the next four years of national economic decline. The race is burning up billions of dollars in advertising money, yet few citizens seem genuinely excited about either candidate, with households evidently viewing the proceedings as a prime-time ritual combat in which it is the winner, rather than the loser, who will ultimately receive the fatal thumbs-down.

Most of the delusions and fantasies that pervade the debates can be grouped into three baskets:

Energy. In the second debate, a questioner from the audience asked president Obama if there is something the latter can do to lower gasoline prices. The ensuing fiction-laced candidate dialogue featured assertions like the following:

· America has a century’s worth of cheap natural gas. (It doesn’t, and production levels will probably begin declining within the next couple of years.)

· Oil drilling in North Dakota will soon free the U.S. of the need to import oil. (It won’t, and production there will similarly peak and start to wane in the next 2-5 years.)

· The president of the United States should be held accountable for high gasoline prices. (In fact, aside from temporary gestures like opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, there’s almost nothing a president can do to reduce gas prices, which mostly track the global price of crude oil.)

The reality is that America faces profound energy challenges. The “Beverly Hillbillies” era of cheap oil is over, and with it the decades-long spate of economic expansion that both candidates appear to believe is the birthright of all citizens. Oil production costs have skyrocketed More…

Fruits of Labor: Adventures in Pomeography…

In Around Mendo Island on October 18, 2012 at 7:23 am

A cross between Golden Russet and Cox’s Orange Pippin.  It’s pretty, but still under evaluation before I can recommend it, or not.

From STEVEN EDHOLM
Turkeysong Blog
Mendocino County

“Annual vegetables are like getting a goldfish.  Trees are like getting a tortoise that might outlive us.”

When we moved here to Turkeysong six and a half years ago, it was a very rainy December.  We moved into a tiny trailer with just a propane oven for heat.  I was rather unhealthy that winter with long continuing complications from Lyme disease, so my physical resources were limited.  But it was an exciting time and full of promise as we embarked on a long held dream.  Bathing was accomplished at the nearby hot springs most of the winter until I built a wood fired bathtub which worked passably well.  Parking was a mile walk down the 4 wheel drive only road, and the winter was so wet that only two trips were made driving in the 1/2 mile driveway before late spring arrived.  I carried office chairs, a desk and sheets of plywood down the half mile drive.   I remember many times walking in at night after bathing at the springs, exhausted, sick, dizzy and weak.  Most days I spent laying down alone in the damp cold miserable trailer feeling ill and tapped out.  The Accommodations were very uncomfortable, but frugality ruled the day and I still knew where my priorities lay.  Rather than move toward better shelter, showers, making the driveway passable or other creature comforts, I started preparing to plant trees and put in a garden.

The first year’s nursery row of apples, peaches, pears and cherries More…

Holly Cratty Memorial

In Around Mendo Island on October 17, 2012 at 6:44 am

From SCOTT CRATTY

This is devoted to the memory of the Westside Renaissance Market’s co-owner, and my wife, Holly Cratty, who passed away last Saturday evening, October 13.

I hope you had the opportunity to meet her and to know her at least a little. I know that those who did were blessed. In case you are one who did not, I wanted to share a small bit about this profoundly fine person.

Holly was a person of fierce integrity, wide knowledge, deep feeling and resolute moral courage and convictions. She believed, and acted on the belief, that we are obligated to do the right thing, not just talk about it (and never to take credit for it.) Her life was thus devoted to trying to help uplift others, to creating beauty and to doing what she could to help preserve the natural world – while also staying out of the spotlight.

She was a fully engaged person, in addition to helping run the Westside Renaissance Market and being vocationally and at heart an artist (although, if being a full time student was a vocation, she might have done that instead) she was also a philosopher, poet, scholar (in many fields), photographer, deeply contemplative person of spirit and faith, nature lover, animal champion, activist, humanitarian and relentless self-examiner.

She had a great thirst for both knowledge and understanding and was well versed in more subjects than anyone else I have known. She was keenly interested and informed about both things global and local. Holly added the “Renaissance” to the Westside Market and was a Renaissance woman.

Holly was also a gentle soul who vastly preferred home to a crowd and one-to-one conversation to a party. However, when in public behaving rightly toward others (i.e., following the Golden Rule) was always her first concern.

She was a devoted practitioner of kindness and humility.   As one example, countless times (biting my tongue the whole while) I have watched her patiently praise, encourage and draw out someone who was lecturing her More…

Transition: We’re In a Slow Motion Collapse… Take Advantage of the Time Available…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

Our economic and political system is in collapse and there’s no way to fix it from inside the system.

It’s a systemic crisis. The systems we rely upon aren’t viable.

They haven’t been for a long time. Every year we are worse off than the year before.

A political fix, switch, or reform isn’t going to do the job.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that we didn’t see a wholesale collapse in 2008. When people lost faith in the financial sector. What prevented it?  At first, it was the US government’s ongoing bailout of the financial sector’s gambling debts.

Since then, it has been the ability of the US government to spend enough to keep 41% of the economy afloat.

As long as the US government continues to borrow at those levels, we’ll avoid a sudden economic collapse like Greece and Spain.

However, this spending won’t fix the system.  Far from it.  We’ll still be in a slow and steady collapse.

Why do I think this is good news?  Two reasons.

Firstly, many people are finally waking up to the fact that the old system isn’t viable anymore, and we need to create a new one.  A system that actually More…

In Praise of Anarchy Part III

In Around the web on October 16, 2012 at 8:15 am



From DMITRI ORLOV
Club Orlov

Parts I & II

Kropotkin worked within the framework of 19th century natural science, but his results are just as relevant today as they were then. Moreover, the accuracy of his insights is vindicated by the latest research into complexity theory. Geoffrey West, who was a practicing particle physicist for forty years and is now distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute, has achieved some stunning breakthroughs in complexity theory and the mathematical characterization of scaling of biological systems. Looking at animals big and small, from the tiny shrew to the gigantic blue whale, he and his collaborators were able to determine More…

How Psychologists Subvert Democratic Movements…

In Around the web on October 15, 2012 at 6:10 am

From BRUCE E. LEVINE
ZCommunications

By the 1980s, as a clinical psychology graduate student, it had become apparent to me that the psychology profession was increasingly about meeting the needs of the “power structure” to maintain the status quo so as to gain social position, prestige, and other rewards for psychologists.

Academic psychology in the 1970s was by no means perfect. There was a dominating force of manipulative, control-freak behaviorists who appeared to get their rocks off conditioning people as if they were rats in a maze. However, there was also a significant force of people such as Erich Fromm who believed that an authoritarian and undemocratic society results in alienation and that this was a source of emotional problems. Fromm was concerned about mental health professionals helping people to adjust to a society with no thought to how dehumanizing that society had become. Back then, Fromm was not a marginalized figure; his ideas were taken seriously. He had bestsellers and had appeared on national television.

However, by the time I received my PhD in 1985—from an American Psychological Association-approved clinical psychology program—people with ideas such as Fromm’s were at the far margins. By then, the focus was on the competition as to what treatment could get patients back on the assembly line quickest. The competition winners that emerged—owing much more to public relations than science—were cognitive-behavioral therapy in psychology and biochemical psychiatry. By the mid-1980s, psychiatry was beginning to become annexed by pharmaceutical companies and forming More…

The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent…

In Around the web on October 15, 2012 at 6:08 am

From NYT

In the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. At the heart of its economy was the colleganza, a basic form of joint-stock company created to finance a single trade expedition. The brilliance of the colleganza was that it opened the economy to new entrants, allowing risk-taking entrepreneurs to share in the financial upside with the established businessmen who financed their merchant voyages.

Venice’s elites were the chief beneficiaries. Like all open economies, theirs was turbulent. Today, we think of social mobility as a good thing. But if you are on top, mobility also means competition. In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.

The political shift, which had begun nearly two decades earlier, was so striking a change that the Venetians gave it a name: La Serrata, or the closure. It wasn’t long before the political Serrata became an economic one, too. Under the control of the oligarchs, Venice gradually cut off commercial opportunities for new entrants. Eventually, the colleganza was banned. The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink. More…

William Edelen: Ancient Prophecy — Modern Ignorance

In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on October 14, 2012 at 10:53 am


From WILLIAM EDELEN
Toward the Mystery

Well, here we go again. We lived through the superstition of the Millennium and Armageddon, staggered by the onslaught of superstition and ignorance, masquerading under the phony and scary heading of “prophecy.” This virus of illiteracy even affected the Oval office. Then President Reagan’s weird and stupid speculations about an “imminent arrival of Amageddon in the Middle East” left intelligent people gasping.

Today we are playing that tape again with the gullibility of the American public. We are being smothered by radio, books, television and movies by those out to make a buck, about the disaster and world destruction waiting for us on Dec 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar predicts an apocalypse for the end of the year, end of the world (they say). It will be open season on reason, rationality, normal intelligence and religious literacy. “Survival kits” are now being sold by the con men and fast buck operators. Sandra Noble, the Executive director of Mesoamerican Research Foundation, says: “portrayal of that date as doomsday is a total fabrication and a chance for a lot of slick people to cash in.”

But to refresh your memory about the “millenniumn, armageddon” circus for the gullible clowns that set the stage for the circus being replayed today under a different heading, what seemed to be missing from the brain/mind (I use the words loosely) is the fact that time is fiction. Time is man-made. A history of man-made calendars would enlighten many. More…

Bill Maher Slams Focus On The Family: ‘If you’re doing God’s work, and God is perfect, how come you’re always wrong?’…

In Around the web on October 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

I don’t expect the far right christian group Focus on the Family to agree with me on everything… or even anything. But they do have to answer one question: If you’re doing God’s work, and God is perfect, how come you’re always wrong? Is the problem you can’t follow instructions, or is Jesus just dicking you around?

I bring this up because in 2008 Focus on the Family tried to frighten their vast mailing list of snake-handlers and early onset dementia patients by sending out a letter with a set of predictions about what our great nation would look like if we elected that evil Count Chockula as our President. And of the 34 predictions they made, they got right exactly NONE… 0 for 34.

So I’m just saying they claim to work for God but for some reason they’re always wrong, and it’s always a disaster. It’s like if every time you tried to put together some bunk beds from Ikea, you died and woke up in hell blowing a guy named Sven.

So if I may let me relay some predictions Focus on the Family made about what would happen if Obama became President: The Pledge of Allegiance, gone. The Boy Scouts of America, gone. Private guns, seized. Abortion, free on demand. And, worse of all… pornagraphy is available at gas stations. Tittie magazines available at the Arco…

They almost gone one right when they predicted the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” but then they went on to say it would lead to turning the Navy into a fire island booze cruise sponsored by Lube. Oh, and I almost forgot America would have single-payer health care… More…

In Praise of Anarchy…

In Around the web on October 12, 2012 at 8:45 am

From DMITRI ORLOV
Club Orlov
Parts 1 and 2 of 3

Once upon a time there lived a prince. Not a fairytale prince, but a real one, his bloodline extending back to the founder of Russia’s first dynasty. It was his bad luck that his mother died when he was young and his father, a military officer who paid little attention to his children, remarried a woman who also took no interest in him or his brother. And so our prince was brought up by the peasants attached to his father’s estate (he was born 20 years before Russia abolished serfdom). The peasants were the only ones who took an interest in him or showed him affection, and so he bonded with them as with his family. And so our prince became a traitor to his own class. Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin is our prince’s name, and he eventually became a renowned scientist who advanced the understanding of the history of glaciers, an historian of revolutionary movements, foremost theoretician of anarchism, and, because of his lifelong burning desire to do something to help the plight of the common man, something of a revolutionary himself. His memory has not fared well over the 90 years that have passed since his death. On the one hand, he suffered from being associated with the Bolsheviks, although he never spoke out in favor of state communism or dictatorship of the proletariat. On the other hand, a major effort has been made by Western capitalist régimes to denigrate anarchism and equate it with terrorism. More…

Todd Walton: City-States

In Todd Walton on October 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

My brother, a successful Internet Technology person living in San Mateo, recently wrote, “I know the Bay Area is back because for about three years no one was going out to dinner and a concert, so almost no one was playing at Yoshi’s; it was almost all spillover comedy acts. Now, all the ancient jazz/funk/smooth jazz/new age artists are performing at Yoshi’s again, and come to think of it, we just saw Liz Story there a few months back. The aging Yuppies, or as I like to call us, the sachems of the lower-reaches of the 1% are back in the tall cotton. Unfortunately it’s still not very recovered at all for the other 99%.”

My brother’s observation of those important economic indicators—going out to dinner and a concert—reminded me of something else he hipped me to a few years ago: the Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index, a remarkable and telling project funded by MasterCard. This fascinating study culminated in a multi-dimensional ranking of the top seventy-five city-states in the world, and has not, as far as I know, been updated since 2008. Nevertheless, if you are interested in how the giant multinational corporations develop their global game plans, I highly recommend you hop on a fast computer and check out the Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. The revelatory information in the study confirms everything Buckminster Fuller wrote about how the supranational powers operate on spaceship earth.

Long before the rise of large and powerful nations came the rise of powerful city-states. Venice, for instance, known for several centuries as the Republic of Venice, was one of the most powerful city-states More…

Will Parrish: Greenwashing Forest Destruction by Forest Stewardship Council…

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on October 12, 2012 at 7:30 am


Forest Stewardship (sic) Council certified monocultures and clearcuts – Sappi, Swaziland


Visible from space: FSC-certified clear-cuts, Savoy state forest, Massachusetts, USA (courtesy of Clearcutting Massachusetts’ Public Forests)

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

The forests of the world are in deep trouble. One especially sobering illustration is as follows. 1970 is commonly cited (erroneously) as the year environmental movement was born. Yet, according to the World Wildlife Fund, close to half of the world’s remaining so-called “virgin” forests have been cut since. Although there has been a great diversity of campaigns throughout the world to protect what remains of the world’s forest, which have doubtless slowed the rate of destruction, those campaigns have nevertheless been woefully inadequate.

Meanwhile, according to an estimate by the Rainforest Action Network, two and a half acres of forest are cut every second: equivalent to two and a half football fields. That’s 214,000 acres per day, an area larger than New York City. Each year, 78 million acres are deforested: an area larger than England and Wales combined. More…

Don’t Cut Taxes For Billionaires. Double Them…

In Around the web on October 11, 2012 at 8:26 am

From RICHARD ESKOW
The Smirking Chimp

Forget the “Buffett rule.” It’s not enough. What’s more, “letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich” isn’t enough either – although it might get us halfway there.

As for that “Simpson Bowles” so-called “deficit reduction” plan: It’s a hoax, another ploy to give the ultra-rich yet another huge tax cut – unless you believe that the lobbying fairy will magically grant a wish that’s never been granted before: an end to billionaires’ loopholes.

If you buy that – which I don’t – then the plan’s just grossly unfair.

The real moment of truth Washington won’t face is this one: It’s time to admit that we can’t rebuild our economy – or balance the Federal budget – without raising taxes on the very wealthy. That’s what Simpson, Bowles, and all their highly-funded friends won’t tell you: We need to raise their taxes a lot.

And by “a lot,” I mean doubling them.

Left Is Right

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about imposing sharp increases on incomes over $250,000 or even $500,000, at least not until the economy’s healthier. At those levels an expiration of the Bush tax cuts would probably be enough. But once you hit income of a million dollars a year and over, we should go back to the higher tax rates that were in place for millionaires during the Nixon years.

That’s right: When it comes to taxes, Nixon’s the One. More…

Why Walmart, Why Now?

In Around the web on October 11, 2012 at 7:56 am

From MICAH UETRICHT
In These Times

Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein sheds light on the new surge of Walmart protests.

If, over the next several months, Walmart does not systematically retaliate against these striking workers, it will show other workers that they can stick their necks out. It will embolden other workers to do the same thing.

For years, the world’s retail behemoth, Walmart, has seemed impervious to organizing attempts. Unions, specifically the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), have attempted to organize retail workers at the company—long known for both its low prices and poverty wages—but the company’s aggressive union-busting has always won the day.

So it comes as a surprise to many to hear, seemingly out of the blue, that workers in both the retail and distribution arms of the company have walked off the job in Illinois, Maryland, Dallas, California, and elsewhere over the last month. Striking warehouse workers have organized with Warehouse Workers United in California and Warehouse Workers for Justice in Illinois; retail workers around the country with OUR Walmart—all organizations affiliated with unions, but which aren’t unions themselves.

In These Times asked labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein to shed some light on the recent wave of Walmart worker unrest. Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy and a professor of history at the University of California-Santa Barbara, has long observed both Walmart’s business practices and workers’ attempts to organize there. More…

Vandana Shiva: Corporate Monopoly of Seeds Must End…

In Around the web on October 10, 2012 at 8:47 am

From THE GUARDIAN
UK

Sustainability pioneer Vandana Shiva speaks to Jo Confino about campaigning against seed slavery, corporations and patents

Vandana Shiva, one of the Guardian’s Top 100 most inspiring women, is currently leading a campaign to create a global citizens’ response on the issue of seed freedom.

In 1991, Shiva founded Navadanya, a movement which aims to protect nature and people’s rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food. It does this by setting up community seed banks that generate livelihoods for local people and provide for basic needs.

Shiva, a scientist, philosopher, feminist, author, environmentalist and activist, explains why the two week campaign on seed freedom against major corporations, which culminates on World Food Day later this month, is so important and the consequences of failure.

Shiva calls for civil disobedience, quoting Gandhi who said that “as long as the superstition that unjust laws must be obeyed exists, so will slavery exist”.

Why do you refer to the term seed slavery?

In another time, some people thought it was alright to own other people as slaves. In our times some corporations think it is alright to own life on earth through patents and intellectual property rights (IPR). More…

Gene Logsdon: Hens Are Changing The Meaning of “Profit”

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on October 10, 2012 at 8:29 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

The most amazing cultural event of the 21st century, at least so far, may be the rise of the hen. And Henny Penny is not squawking that the sky is falling, like humans are, but how locally produced eggs and fried chicken are a main part of the pot of gold at in the end of the food revolution rainbow.

Forgotten are our old cultural icons of milk maid and cowboy, replaced by the backyard gardener surrounded by a lovely little flock of hens. The egg has even weathered the condemnation of cholesterol paranoia and is once more as honored at the breakfast table as a glass of wine is at dinner.

You see chickens just about everywhere these days: on magazine covers, in television ads, and all over Facebook where humans show them off to their friends like they do new babies. Hens saunter demurely across the manicured lawns of suburbs as well as the manure-peppered barnyards of rural homesteads. You hear them clucking and cackling in the background when news reporters interview Afghan or Iraqi villagers on the radio. I imagine they are saying something like “Cackle, cackle, why don’t you clucking Americans go home.”

Chickens are winning over the world again, as they have always done throughout so-called civilization because they are such a cheap and easy source of good food. So handily can they produce eggs More…

Mulligan Books Opens Downtown Ukiah Post Office…

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on October 9, 2012 at 7:30 am

From KAREN RIFKIN
Ukiah Daily Journal

[I've edited for clarity... couldn't help myself... -DS]

Dave Smith, owner and operator of Mulligan Books & Seeds in the heart of downtown Ukiah, has expanded his business to include mail service.

“I used to go to the post office daily, and the people at the windows who worked there were friends to many of us who work downtown. When they decided to shut it down we protested with Barry Vogel and Mike Sweeney heading up the effort. People had been coming in, especially downtown merchants, concerned about the closure and its relocation to Orchard Avenue. When they finally left last December it felt like a ghost town and I definitely noticed the difference in foot traffic. I started talking to other merchants to see if [any of them were interested] in setting up a contract post office.”

“I knew it could be done and I thought it would be good for me and great for downtown. I had to apply and it took two- to three months to get everything approved. There is a lot to it and I am now on a steep learning curve. I can sell postage, stamps, weigh out packages, use express or priority mail and media and parcel post.

“I can only do domestic [mail] at this point but will be adding international pretty soon. The mail gets picked up here [five] days a week at 5 p.m. [earlier on Saturdays] More…

Fukushima: The American Government Is Dictating Japanese Nuclear Policy…

In Around the web on October 9, 2012 at 7:11 am

From WASHINGTON’S BLOG

We’ve repeatedly slammed the Japanese government for corruption in allowing unsafe nuclear reactors and covering up the severity of the Fukushima disaster.

But – as this article shows – the American government and nuclear industry is partially responsible.

The former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland – Mitsuhei Murata – said recently:

In the US there are 31 [sic] units the same type of that of Fukushima nuclear plant [23 are virtually identical to Fukushima]. So, if the accident be spread too far that really embarrasses the US. So that is why the crisis of Unit 4 has been toned down recently. The USA is actually the main reason.

(Ambassador Murata has repeatedly spoken out about the extreme danger posed by the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Unit 4.)

This is not the only indication that the U.S. has had a large role in Japanese nuclear policy after the Fukushima disaster.  For example – in an effort to protect the American nuclear industry – the U.S. has joined Japan in raising “acceptable” radiation levels  after the disaster.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also purportedly signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite the fact More…

Involuntary Enlightenment: Radical Simplicity and the Middle Class…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 9, 2012 at 6:00 am

From SAMUEL ALEXANDER
The Simplicity Institute

1. INTRODUCTION

How would the ordinary middle-class consumer – I should say middle-class citizen – deal with a lifestyle of radical simplicity? By radical simplicity I essentially mean a very low but biophysically sufficient material standard of living, a form of life that will be described in more detail below.1 In this essay I want to suggest that radical simplicity would not be as bad as it might first seem, provided we were ready for it and wisely negotiated its arrival, both as individuals and as communities. Indeed, I am tempted to suggest that radical simplicity is exactly what consumer cultures need to shake themselves awake from their comfortable slumber; that radical simplicity would be in our own, immediate, self-interests. In this essay, however, I will only defend the more modest thesis that radical simplicity simply would not be that bad. Establishing that thesis should be challenging enough.

Of course, if a radically lower material standard of living were to be imposed upon us suddenly by force of circumstances and without anticipation and some preparation, I acknowledge that most people would find such a dramatic change terrifying and painful – an existential disaster. Such a response would be quite natural and understandable. But I will argue that if such dramatic change were to be stoically anticipated and prepared for, it would not be that bad. More…

William Edelen: Jesus and Wives

In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on October 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

From WILLIAM EDELEN
Toward the Mystery

A very live and contemporary issue today, with many magazines and newspapers covering it, is the question “Was Jesus Married?” This is all due to a lost manuscript that has surfaced. An outstanding article in the New York Times for Sept 27th, was Fighting Over God’s Image. Please find a copy and read it if this is a subject that appeals to you.

A number of years ago when Dr. Robert Funk had his Jesus Seminar here in Palm Springs with over 100 leading New Testament scholars present, he asked me to give the lecture on The Sexuality of Jesus. The fear among many of pursuing this subject has been revealing and shocking. Also a number of years ago The Sexuality of Christ in the Renaissance Art and in modern Oblivion received rave reviews from all quarters. It was written by Leo Steinberg, who delivered the material at a Lionel Trilling Seminar at Columbia University and was honored by the College Art Association of America with its annual award. Some will find it offensive… those who find all expressions of sexuality offensive. The sexuality of Jesus is very obvious in the paintings.

Jesus was a Hebrew male, a man in the fullest sense and a sexual human being in the same sense that all men are sexual human beings. And yet, for some strange, neurotic and weird reason, many want to keep this subject More…

Poverty in America — It’s not what you think…

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on October 5, 2012 at 6:30 am

From SOJOURNERS

The Line documents the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me. Across America, millions are struggling every day to make it above The Line.

Tell the presidential candidates to put the focus on poverty here

1 out of 5 children in the U.S. live in poverty and more than 46 million Americans have fallen below the poverty line. These are alarming statistics and we need to hear more from the candidates about what they are going to do about it.

Poverty needs to be put back on the public agenda and you can make it happen. Tell President Obama and Governor Romney they need to spend less time on political attacks and more time focusing on poverty.

With every email you send, we’ll also copy in the debate moderators to make sure that they know that poverty must be raised as a major issue in this campaign.
~~

Todd Walton: Walking To Town

In Todd Walton on October 5, 2012 at 6:20 am

 From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” Steven Wright

Last night by the fire, our new (old) house enshrouded in dense fog, I said to Marcia that I didn’t feel we were on the land where this house sits but rather on a boat, or possibly a raft, floating somewhere on the ocean of existence. I was not yet anchored anywhere except in my own interiority, except I didn’t use the word interiority because I didn’t think to use it until today when a letter came from my friend Max that said, “While it’s fun for me to say I’m on the Riviera, I notice this: in a certain way I am always in a room and inside my interiority when you and I are talking to each other. Wherever I may go, I’m always coming from that same place.”

Speaking of interiors, yesterday we had one of those spatial breakthroughs that amaze and gladden the spirit. On the east-facing wall of our new living room, two feet above the top of the doorway, sat a massive room-spanning shelf, a single piece of old growth heart redwood sixteen-feet long and a foot wide and two inches thick—an amazing slab of wood. And because the shelf was there and so massive and commanding and impressive, we kept trying to figure out what to put on it. We tried statues, books, driftwood, stones, gongs, drums, and pottery, yet nothing seemed quite right. But we had to find something to go there. Didn’t we? More…

Transition: Building Resilient Local Economies through Local Investment…

In Mendo Island Transition on October 5, 2012 at 6:15 am

“Building Resilient Local Economies through Local Investment”
Presented by Michael Shuman, Fellow, Post Carbon Institute

In the face of multiple increasing global uncertainties – economic and environmental – the need to build the strength and resilience of our local economies has become very clear in the last few years. This forum addresses how we can work toward achieving that aim by encouraging entrepreneurship and cooperation between business and citizens locally and by harnessing local investment to support the start up and expansion of locally owned enterprises.

Produced for Transition Sydney and Energising Communities
Filmed at UTS, Sydney, September 2012
~~

Post Office in Mulligan Books
Downtown Ukiah
Now Open

Stamps, Postage, Mailing

Last Mail Pickup – 5pm
~~

Transition: California Homemade Food Act signed by the Governor…

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on October 4, 2012 at 7:14 am

What the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, will accomplish – a summary

Click here to download the final version of the bill.

The new law will go into effect in January. It creates a new category of food production called a cottage food operation, which, unlike other types of commercial food facilities, can be operated out of a home kitchen. The types of foods that a cottage food operation can sell are limited to “non-potentially hazardous foods,” which are foods that are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria or other toxic microorganisms at room temperature. The list of foods includes:

  • Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
  • Candy, such as brittle and toffee
  • Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried pasta
  • Dry baking mixes
  • Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
  • Granola, cereals, and trail mixes
  • Herb blends and dried mole paste
  • Honey and sweet sorghum syrup
  • Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Nut mixes and nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Vinegar and mustard
  • Roasted coffee and dried tea
  • Waffle cones and pizelles
  • More…

James Lee responds to ‘On Fukushima Beach’…

In Around the web on October 4, 2012 at 6:47 am

From JAMES LEE
Anderson Valley

The ‘Gift’ that will just keep on giving and giving ’till it hurts so many so bad!

No bigger topic than this. Our, every…single..one of us, for the short, medium and very long term will likely be effected from what is not being done or even acknowledged some 19 months since Fukushima reactors became compromised and began leaking toxic radiation.

One of the most amazing takeaways from this documentary was that the Japanese officials chose to ‘save face’ and not disclose the radiation affects to their own people, even though those scientists that new the true dangers were/are recommending the evacuation of Tokyo!

This is incredibly unconscionable behavior and these ‘authorities’ need to be held accountable for their egregious behavior. Yet did we  not see the exact same action during Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., when private parties attempted to bring supplies to those in need while FEMA, Bush, et. al took days to provide assistance and remedy?

The other critical takeaway from this is that we are in a complete YOYO (You’re On Your Own) mode of society now.  Each individual, family and town needs to self protect, self preserve and, as best they can, become self sufficient and reliant in the communities where they live.  Their is simply too much evidence that our government ‘representatives’ have zero interest in the well-being of you, me or the future of our children or will come to our aid in times of more and greater disasters.

Our collective problems on radioactive fallout are not nearly as severe or widespread as problems More…

On Fukushima Beach — Explosive New Documentary…

In Around the web on October 3, 2012 at 6:00 am

From STUART BRAMHALL
The Most Revolutionary Act

On Fukushima Beach is an hour long brilliantly constructed documentary that uses a montage of mainstream and Internet media clips to unpack the Fukushima disaster. In addition to providing a painless scientific overview of radiation health issues, it outlines the ongoing radiation risks faced by all residents of the northern hemisphere.

There are simple measures people everywhere (except the Japanese – they need to be evacuated asap) could be taking to protect themselves. Yet in their eagerness to promote and support the nuclear power industry, the Obama administration, the Japanese government and the international agencies charged with monitoring and addressing similar health issues (such as the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization), have remained stubbornly silent on what promises to be the most serious health crisis of the 21st century.

Relying heavily on the technical expertise of highly prominent and credible medical professionals and scientists (including Australian pediatrician Dr Helen Caldicott and Japanese-American theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku), the film stresses the following essential points:

  • Despite being “shut down,” all four Fukushima reactors continue to release dangerous radioactive nucleotides, both to the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean. There is a self-perpetuating chain reaction occurring in Reactors 1-3, in which core meltdowns have occurred. Continuing radiation release can only be stopped by encasing them in a concrete shell More…
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