Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Gene Logsdon: A Small Thing But Maybe Not…

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on October 3, 2012 at 5:24 am

The Contrary Farmer

All summer I raved and ranted at the squirrels that were eating the corn in my crib. I was particularly concerned because the drought seemed to be making sure this year’s crop was going to be a bust. I did not look forward to buying corn at drought-inflated prices just to keep squirrels fat eating my reserve supply. Eventually, we practically encased the whole crib in chicken wire. To no avail. Once a squirrel makes up its mind to get into something it will find a way even into a lead vault.

What is most infuriating about squirrels eating corn is how wasteful they are. They do not eat the whole kernel. They do not even eat half of it. They drill into the middle of the white heart of the kernel and with their incisor-like teeth extract a snippet hardly bigger than a flake of dandruff. Sitting on top of the ears of corn, they toss that kernel away like a drunk does an empty beer can, and snatch another off the cob. The wounded kernel then slips and slides down through the piled up ears of stored corn. Sometimes the wanton, fluffy-tailed rats jerk kernels from the cob and then drop them, eating nothing out of them at all. By summer’s end, the top layer of corn in the crib was only half-shelled cobs and the bottom layer mostly half eaten or whole kernels.

I realized on close examination that the half eaten kernels were really not even a third eaten and that there was still plenty of nutritive value left. I fed them to the chickens— at least I didn’t have to shell them off the cobs as I or the hens, usually do. The chickens ate the wounded kernels as well as they ate the whole ones and kept on laying eggs. Talk about a win-win situation. The squirrels got their fill and so did the hens. More…

Jobs of the Future: Cargo cycles are fast, efficient, clean and quiet… and 98% cheaper…

In Around the web on October 2, 2012 at 6:32 am

Cargo cycle electric assist in germany

Low Tech Magazine

Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets

Those with strong cycling legs have ever more jobs up for grabs in Europe these days. A growing number of businesses are using cargo cycles, a move towards sustainable and free-flowing city traffic that is now strongly backed by public authorities.Research indicates that at least one quarter of all cargo traffic in European cities could be handled by cycles. And, by using special distribution hubs, larger vehicles and electric assist, this proportion could be even larger.A cargo cycle is at least as fast as a delivery van in the city – and much cheaper to use, giving a strong economic incentive to make the switch. Cargo cycles also bring important economic advantages to tradesmen, artisans and service providers.


Cargo transport in cities is extremely inefficient. As it currently stands, almost 100 percent of it is done by motorised vehicles, ranging from personal cars to commercial delivery vans and trucks (lorries). However, these heavy vehicles often transport very light goods. The average payload transported in European cities weighs less than 100 kg (220 lbs) and has a volume of less than 1m3 (1).  Of the 1,900 vans and trucks that enter the city of Breda in the Netherlands each day, less than 10 percent of the cargo being delivered requires a van or truck and 40 percent of deliveries involve just one box (2).

This means that a large share of the cargo being moved in and out of cities could be transported by cargo cycles. More…

Corn Syrup’s Secret Labeling Trick Revealed…

In Around the web on October 2, 2012 at 5:32 am

Great Value Butter Flavored Syrup


If you rely on American supermarkets for your sustenance, then no doubt you have bought and eaten products sweetened with corn syrup. Just look at the ingredient list of bread, cookies, candies, sauces, snack bars, and more to see how prevalent an ingredient corn syrup is.

While sugar, most high fructose corn syrup (aka HFCS – not the same as corn syrup!), agave nectar and other nutritive sweeteners count as 100% “sugars” in the nutrition facts panel, corn syrup elegantly gets away with a limited contribution to the total sugar count in a product.

A serving of sugar is 1 teaspoon. It has 4 grams of Total Carbohydrate, per the nutrition facts label below. All 4 grams of carbs (100% of carbs) are from Sugars.

This, however, is not the case with corn syrup. Below you can see the label for Karo Corn Syrup. A serving is 2 tablespoons, and it contains 30 grams Total Carbohydrate. As a sweetener, you would expect those 30 grams to be coming from Sugars. Alas, only 10 grams, or 33% are Sugars. Where are the other 20 grams? More…

CalFire Fire Prevention Fee Errors…

In Around Mendo Island on October 1, 2012 at 6:30 am


More errors are being discovered in the bills being sent to rural property owners by CalFire for “fire prevention.” The controversial “fee,” which many are calling an illegally engineered tax, is based on dubious data collected by CalFire via a combination of assessor records, Community Development records, aerial photographs, and GIS (computerized Geographical Information System) compiled by a third party “designator fee administrator.” Not only do the bills reflect taxable “habitable structures” which are clearly not habitable, but they are based on data which is months if not years old causing the bills, in many cases, to be sent to the wrong people.

Adding penalty to injury, the burden of correcting the errors is the responsibility of property owners who get the erroneous bills. People with inaccurate bills can file a “redetermination petition” within 30 days of receiving their bill. The petition and directions can be downloaded from the Fire Protection Fee Service Center or the State Board of Equalization Websites. To protest a fee the property owner must “attach all documentation to prove your case and make copies for your records before mailing the petition to Fire Prevention Fee Service Center, Attn: Petitions, PO Box 2254 , Suisun City CA 94585.” (And you better send it “return receipt requested.”) More…

The Waning of the Modern Ages…

In Around the web on October 1, 2012 at 6:25 am


La longue durée —the long run—was an expression made popular by the Annales School of French historians led by Fernand Braudel, who coined the phrase in 1958. The basic argument of this school is that the proper concern of historians should be the analysis of structures that lie at the base of contemporary events. Underneath short-term events such as individual cycles of economic boom and bust, said Braudel, we can discern the persistence of “old attitudes of thought and action, resistant frameworks dying hard, at times against all logic.” An important derivative of the Annales research is the work of the World Systems Analysis school, including Immanuel Wallerstein and Christopher Chase-Dunn, which similarly focuses on long-term structures: capitalism, in particular.

The “arc” of capitalism, according to this school, is about 600 years long, from 1500 to 2100. It is our particular (mis)fortune to be living through the beginning of the end, the disintegration of capitalism as a world system. It was mostly commercial capital in the sixteenth century, evolving into industrial capital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and then moving on to financial capital—money created by money itself, and by speculation in currency—in the twentieth and twenty-first. In dialectical fashion, it will be the very success of the system that eventually does it in.

The last time a change of this magnitude occurred was during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during which time the medieval world began to come apart and be replaced by the modern one. In his classic study of the period, The Waning of the Middle Ages, the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga depicted the time as one of depression and cultural exhaustion—like our own age, not much fun to live through.  One reason for this is that the world is literally perched over an abyss. What lies ahead is largely unknown, and to have to hover over an abyss for a long time is, to put it colloquially, a bit of a drag. More…

Democratic Womanism…

In Around the web on October 1, 2012 at 6:06 am

From Mimi,  DAILY KOS

Alice Walker has written a poem for this election year. I heard her reading it this morning on Democracy Now. I just loved it – I was amazed, touched and caught by surprise, nodding and saying “yes” over and over all the verses through. I like to invite you to read it. To me it’s a vision I can fully embrace and I am very sure many, many women would agree with her and wished to walk and work towards Democratic Womanism.

You can listen and watch her reading it here starting at TC 47:48.

[I have added blank lines for easier readability. If they seem odd to you, it's all my fault.]

“Democratic Womanism”

You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.

There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.

Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
somewhat fatuous.

A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
very dear
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
with it.

One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not. More…


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