Paradigms Shifting


worldwideweb

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

[Todd’s website, a superlative place for holiday shopping, is UnderTheTableBooks.com. -DS]

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” — Henry David Thoreau

I am writing the first draft of this essay with pen on paper and using a big hardback copy of Buckminster Fuller’s Tetrascroll as my portable desk. I am sitting on a rug a few feet from our woodstove, the fire therein making our living room the most appealing room in our otherwise chilly house. Should I create an essay I want to keep, I will venture into my chilly office, ignite the electric space heater adjacent to my desk, and type these words into my computer to ready them for sending to Bruce and Mark at the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Marcia is in her office, a world apart just 15 feet away, and I am thinking about several events and ideas and technological changes that have commandeered my consciousness and are asking me to write about them.

Climate Change: Why one woman left the insane Fox News cult…



From DAVID ATKINS
Hullabaloo

The movie in question is Chasing Ice, a documentary about receding glaciers due to climate change. I’m told it’s very good, though I haven’t seen it yet myself.

But regardless of the documentary’s merits, it’s instructive to note why this woman disbelieved so fervently in climate change. She just trusted Bill O’Reilly. She didn’t look into the evidence or consider alternate views. She just trusted Bill.

That’s how the Fox News cult works: repeat an endless stream of false drivel that conforms to certain people’s false and prejudicial expectations for how the world works and a lot of people will believe it because the authoritative man on the teevee said so.

There’s no “winning the argument” with these people, a few lifechanging experiences like this woman’s notwithstanding. If the Fox News watchers are to be reached at all, there has to be action taken to break the bond of codependent trust they’ve developed with their cultic abusers.

Update by digby: Dennis Hartley review the film Chasing Ice, here

~~

Lessons for Building a Co-operative Movement…


From MICHAEL JOHNSON
Grassroots Economic Organizing

Pm Press has released a second edition of John Curl’s 550 page history of “cooperation, cooperative movements, and communalism in America,” In this interview GEO’s Michael Johnson talks with John about what is new in the second edition, the surprisingly long history of co-operatives here in the US, and what his history has to tell us about building a 21st century movement for a co-operative/solidarity economy.

John’s life has been steeped in co-operatives. He has been a member for over 30 years in the Heartwood Co-operative Woodshop in Berkeley, CA, where he lives. He has belonged to numerous other co-operatives and collectives. In addition to being a historian of extensive research, he is a poet, woodworker, social activist, and has even been a city planner. Michael’s bio is here. He is also co-writing a book on how worker co-operators in the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives are harnessing the power of the co-operative difference. Janelle Cornwell and Adam Trott, VAWC staff person, are fellow co-writers.

“John Curl’s book For All the People is a one-of-a-kind gem.

Becoming one of “them”


From SHARON ASTYK

A friend of mine who volunteered at a shelter in New York City told me this story over Thanksgiving.  The shelter she worked in responded to the range of people affected by the crisis.  Many of them, as always in a crisis, were those who were already struggling and marginalized – illegal immigrants afraid to go anywhere else, the already-homeless whose usual shelters and places of refuge were closed or underwater, the mentally and physically ill who had to be evacuated from hospitals in the flood zone.  Many of the rest were storm evacuees from some of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, people who don’t normally find themselves in close quarters with the rest of their shelter mates.

My friend spoke of her frustration dealing with the richer victims, with their sense of entitlement, their horror at their companions.  At the same time, she also recognized that they were traumatized and frightened, and victims too.  What she found most difficult, however, was the constant desire of the more affluent residents of the shelter to let her know that they did not belong here, that they were not like the other people who surrounded them.  Not only did they want better treatment, more resources, but they also were desperate for her to know that this was not their lives, that they were and are fundamentally different than the people surrounding them.

After one woman asked her to carry her cot into several different rooms of the shelter, never satisfied by who she would be sleeping next to, my friend struggled not to say “Look, you aren’t ever going to feel comfortable sleeping next to anyone, because they are still mostly going to be poor and not white – and I’ve got more important things to do than carry your cot around.”  At the same time, she felt sorry for the woman, who seemed not less resilient, but more damaged than those who really had lost more.

Gene Logsdon: Planting Rather Than Mining…


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

In contemplative moments I like to think about all the manufactured products that could come from the soil surface rather than from deep underground. Today I was listening to a report on NPR about flutes made of bamboo. Bamboo is a marvelous example of how plants can replace metal and plastic. Asians even make bicycles out of bamboo and use it as scaffolding in construction work.

Bamboo is very invasive and I won’t try growing it after I saw what a weed it has become around Chadds Ford, Pa. where I used to visit often. But invasiveness is an interesting subject for contemplation too. If we decided to make bicycles and structural lumber out of bamboo, it would suddenly become a major resource rather than an invasive plant, would it not?

We could easily go back to baseball bats made of ash like the major leagues still use. The metal ones that have replaced wood in softball and amateur baseball drive the ball farther and break less, but the good ones are more expensive too. One reason the major leagues stick with wood is because metal bats can rocket the ball at lethal speeds back at the pitcher. Also they can render most of the major league ball parks obsolete because with a metal bat even I could knock the ball over the fence. In some ways the case for wood vs. metal in ball bats limns the whole debate about planting vs. mining. It all comes down to money.

Henry Ford made car bodies out of plasticized soybeans. Wood-paneled station wagons were once almost common. Good artificial limbs can be made out of willow. Osage orange has more tensile strength than steel. I have catalpa fence posts that were used for forty years (20 years each by my grandfather and uncle) and are still going strong for me. A friend of mine makes flutes out of various American native woods. We can all think of many such examples.

George Carlin: Playboy Interview 1982…



From LONGFORM

Playboy: Back in the early Sixties, when you were still a disc jockey and just beginning to do comedy in small clubs, Lenny Bruce supposedly selected you as his heir—

Carlin: Apparently, Lenny told that to a lot of people. But he never said it to me and I didn’t hear it until years later. Which is probably fortunate. It’s difficult enough for a young person to put his soul on the line in front of a lot of drunken people without having that hanging over his head, too.

Playboy: Because of what Bruce said about you, are you now overly sensitive about being compared to him?

Carlin: Yes, and those comparisons are unfair to both of us. Look, I was a fan of Lenny’s. He made me laugh, sure, but more often he made me say, “Fuckin’ A; why didn’t I think of that?” He opened up channels in my head. His genius was the unique ability to investigate hypocrisy and expose social inequities in a street rap that was really a form of poetry. I believe myself to be a worthwhile and inventive performer in my own right. But I’m not in a league with Lenny, certainly not in terms of social commentary. So when people give me this bullshit, “Well, I guess you’re sort of…uh…imitating Lenny Bruce,” I just say, “Oh, fuck. I don’t want to hear it.” I want to be known for what I do best.

Playboy: Nevertheless, throughout the early to mid-Seventies, with a five-year run of albums and packed auditoriums for an act that viciously ridiculed every nook and cranny of “the establishment,” you really did seem to be fulfilling Lenny’s prophecy. Then it stopped abruptly about five years ago. No more albums; no more college tours. Why?…

Complete interview here
~~

World Bank: Turn Down The Heat Or Billions Will Die…


From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.

The 84-page document,“Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided,” was written for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and published last week. The picture it paints of a world convulsed by rising temperatures is a mixture of mass chaos, systems collapse and medical suffering like that of the worst of the Black Plague, which in the 14th century killed 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. The report comes as the annual United Nations Conference on Climate Change begins this Monday [Nov. 26] in Doha, Qatar.

A planetwide temperature rise of 4 degrees C—and the report notes that the tepidness of the emission pledges and commitments of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will make such an increase almost inevitable—will cause a precipitous drop in crop yields, along with the loss of many fish species, resulting in widespread hunger and starvation. Hundreds of millions of people will be forced to abandon their homes in coastal areas and on islands that will be submerged as the sea rises. There will be an explosion in diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever. Devastating heat waves and droughts, as well as floods, especially in the tropics

Modernity Bites…


 From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

There is surely a correspondence between an exhausted culture and a populace devolved so far into mental dullness that it can’t recognize its predicament. We don’t seem to get how much the industrial production spree of the past 200 years has just plum worn us out, not to mention the ecosystem we were designed to dwell in. My general sense of things for at least a decade is that we are closing this chapter of history and heading into something smaller, slower, and simpler, and that we could either go there willingly or get dragged there kicking and screaming by circumstances.

It interests me to reflect that they way things are temporarily is the way people define normality, and think things will always be, so that if you are living in a big city like New York where so much remaining wealth is concentrated, and you are dazzled by the whirr and flash of things, including all the pretty young people drilling into their iPhones, you might expect a longer arc to the moment at hand.

Out here in the provinces it’s a different story. The exhaustion is palpable. I dropped into the mall at mid-day on Sunday to take the pulse on the ballyhooed post-Thanksgiving ritual shopping frenzy and the place was like a ghost town. The sparse stream of supposed “consumers” had the dazed, beaten-down look of people pushed beyond the edge of some dark threshold, like displaced persons in a low-grade war zone.

Their behavior seemed ceremonial, though, mere acting-out as opposed to acting. They were not carrying bags with purchases. I saw almost nobody actually shopping, that is, fingering the merchandise, in either the two department stores I passed through or the smaller shops lining the corridors. There were strikingly few clerks in either the big or little retail operations

Modern wheat a “perfect, chronic poison,” doctor says…



From CBS News

[Local small scale grains and organic spelt the best alternatives... DS]

Modern wheat is a “perfect, chronic poison,” according to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has published a book all about the world’s most popular grain.

Davis said that the wheat we eat these days isn’t the wheat your grandma had: “It’s an 18-inch tall plant created by genetic research in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “This thing has many new features nobody told you about, such as there’s a new protein in this thing called gliadin. It’s not gluten. I’m not addressing people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. I’m talking about everybody else because everybody else is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year.”

Asked if the farming industry could change back to the grain it formerly produced, Davis said it could, but it would not be economically feasible because it yields less per acre. However, Davis said a movement has begun with people turning away from wheat – and dropping substantial weight.

“If three people lost eight pounds, big deal,” he said. “But we’re seeing hundreds of thousands of people losing 30, 80, 150 pounds. Diabetics become no longer diabetic; people with arthritis having dramatic relief. People losing leg swelling, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and on and on every day.”

To avoid these wheat-oriented products, Davis suggests eating “real food,” such as avocados, olives, olive oil, meats, and vegetables.

Used Books…


From MICHELLE DEAN

1. The people who fret over the Future of the Book talk about the loss of the tactile, of the physical act of holding the book. Me, the only thing I worry about is no longer having used books.

2. Not long after I graduated from hoarding old Sweet Valley High paperbacks, I bought a beat-up, mass-market paperback copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I had little interest in reading it; I’m not sure I ever did. I bought it because inside the front cover was the stamp of “Shakespeare and Company, Paris.” I was only seventeen or so but I knew what that meant. It was from That Bookstore. I had to have it, though the cover was falling  I kept it for years until it disappeared in a move. I like to think a mover kept it for himself. I can make peace with it finding that kind of home.

Years later, after I lost it, I learned that That Bookstore closed in 1941, long before Pirsig published Zen. (The one that now bears that name in That City does so as a tribute, and occupies a different adress.) Whatever hands it passed through were latecomer ones, impostors. I am not sure if that makes it better or worse.

3. More recently, at the Strand, in the basement (the basement is truly the best part of the Strand, you have missed something if you don’t venture down there), I bought a copy of James Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son. The dust jacket says it would have cost me $4.50, brand new, in 1961. Inside the front cover is the stamp of the “Negro Book Club.”

The Negro Book Club, as it turns out, was a subscription service started in Harlem in 1960. In 1963 the Times reported that the club had 4000 members. In August of 1961, when the second printing of my Baldwin book happened

William Edelen: More Robert Ingersoll…


From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

One of the joyful rewards of writing a column is to receive the delightful letters that arrive in response, with often developing new friendships. After my column on Robert Ingersoll, many wrote, or called, saying the column brought back a bit of nostalgia, because “I remembered how my father (or grandfather, or mother) used to rave about Robert Ingersoll… and I had forgotten.

Since my last column was primarily introducing the man to those who had not heard of him, I did not have space to give examples of the gems that flowed from his pen.

Women: “The men who declare that woman is the intellectual inferior of man, do not and cannot, by offering themselves in evidence, substantiate their declaration. Husbands as a rule, do not know a great deal, and it will not do for every wife to depend on the ignorance of her worst half… It is the women of today who are the great readers. No woman should have to live with a man whom she abhors. I despise the man that has to be begged for money by his wife. ‘Please give me a dollar?’… ‘What did you do with the 50 cents I gave you last Christmas?’ he asks.”

Government: “I despise the doctrine of state sovereignty. States are political conveniences. Rising above states as the Alps above valleys are the rights of man, the sublime rights of the people… Nothing is farther from democracy than the application of the veto power. It should be abolished… I do not believe in being the servant of any political party. I am not the property of any organization, I do not believe in giving a mortgage on yourself or a deed of trust for any purpose. It is better to be free.”

Church and state: “Church and state should be absolutely

Todd Walton: What’s New?


Hungry For Color note card by Todd Walton

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“Life is full of obstacle illusions.” Grant Frazier

A recent San Francisco 49ers game ended in a tie with the St. Louis Rams, the first professional football game to end in a tie in four years. I’m still not used to the Rams being the St. Louis Rams because they were the Los Angeles Rams for all of my youth and for decades thereafter, which made them our dread rivals along with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Lakers and all things Los Angeles. The Lakers, by the way, are called the Lakers because they were originally the Minneapolis Lakers, Minnesota having lakes whereas Los Angeles has viaducts; but the Los Angeles Viaducts would have been a silly name for a basketball team, so… the Dodgers were originally the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Golden State (Oakland) Warriors were originally the Philadelphia Warriors, and soon the San Francisco 49ers will be playing their games in Santa Clara and… nowadays professional sports franchises move ever more frequently from city-state to city-state at the whim of their billionaire owners.

This year, for instance, the Brooklyn Nets played their first games with that moniker having been moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey by their new multi-billionaire Russian owner who just built a billion-dollar sports complex in Brooklyn to house his new team. The Nets are the first professional sports franchise to call Brooklyn home since the Brooklyn Dodgers fled to Los Angeles in the 1950’s, and now New Jersey is without a professional basketball or football or baseball franchise. Oh well.

Shift Change



~~

2012 Karl Rove Election-Rigging Claim Can’t Be Ignored…



From THOM HARTMANN
and SAM SACKS
Truthout

At around 11:25 pm EST on election night, Karl Rove knew something had gone terribly wrong.

Minutes earlier, Fox News called the key battleground state of Ohio for President Obama, sealing his re-election. But as the network took live shots of jubilant Obama supporters celebrating their victory camped outside the Obama re-election headquarters in Chicago, Karl Rove began building a case against the call his employer network had just made.

Rove explained that when Fox called Ohio, only 74% of the vote was in showing President Obama with a lead of roughly 30,000 votes. But, as Rove contended, with 77% reporting according to the Ohio Secretary of State office, the President’s lead had been slashed to just 991 votes.

“We gotta be careful about calling the thing,” Rove said, “I’d be very cautious about intruding in on this process.”

Rove was supremely confident that the numbers coming in from Ohio throughout the night that favored President Obama weren’t indicative of who would win Ohio when all the votes were ultimately tabulated by the state’s computers. With a quarter of the vote still out there, Rove was anticipating a shift to the Right just after 11 pm, which, coincidentally, is exactly what happened in 2004.

That year, John Kerry and the entire nation were watching Ohio just after the 11pm hour. Florida had just been called for George W. Bush and according to

Death Knell for a Dying Paradigm…


From PHIL ROCKSTROH
Worldwide Hippies

So much has been lost to the hubris and cupidity inherent to the hyper-industrialization and commercial hustler that defines the Anthropocene Epoch. To take it all in, to allow oneself to feel the full implications of the dire situation, of the ecocide and humanity lost to endless war and economic exploitation, one would be knocked to one’s knees with sorrow or compelled to give voice to bursts of full-throated rage.

Therefore, as the grid-decimating tide of Sandy recedes and the power and lights have been restored to our East Village, fifth floor walk-up flat, I sit at my writing desk, and I am staring down the scope of my cerebral cortex, desiring to unload both barrels into the delusional asses of climate change deniers.

This mutant strain of hurricane (that has inflicted much disruption in our lives and a great amount of stress on my six month, pregnant wife, Angela) was caused by changes in the Gulf Stream, wrought by manmade greenhouse gasses.

Personally, I’m done with attempting to persuade idiots by intelligent discourse and fools by plying them with common sense…finished with issuing reasoned warnings to dissemblers and dimwits who claim the iceberg directly in the path of our ocean liner is simply an ice dispenser, conveniently located to refresh our beverages.

Sandy (as did Katrina) reveals, how tenuous the grid work of final stage capitalism is…how rapidly it comes unraveled by nature’s impersonal fury.

While composing the first draft of this essay (pre-Sandy) — as I was writing the following lines, “Often, the soul is forced to get your attention by guiding you into situations that serve to open your heart

Gene Logsdon: Falling Leaves…


From GENE LOGSDON

This time of year our inside window sills clutter up with tree leaves that Carol and I have found in our grove while walking to and from the barn and which are so pretty we just have to save them. At first we try to outdo each other in finding the brightest yellow-red-orange-gold maple leaf with still a little green in it. As the season advances, our choices become more eclectic, perhaps more abstract, favoring leaves with more somber purples and olive greens, or even with brooding browns and blacks along the veins or margin edges. Some of these are downright ugly in a way. My interest in human art paintings has followed a similar course over the years, going from bright and garish in the days of youth to earth tones in old age. In fact, walking to the barn in the fall becomes sort of like visiting an art gallery. Only the paintings in the woods are almost infinite in number, cater to every taste, and are free for the picking.

Now in mid-November, with all the bright and beautiful leaves faded away, I find myself admiring foliage rarely given much attention in fall coloring exhibitions. Sycamore leaves, for instance. This year, our sycamore mostly dried up and shed its leaves early. But way in the top of the tree, a few leaves hung on and are just now fluttering down in time for Thanksgiving table decorations. Their color is a mingling of muted mauve, olive and brown with rather metallic green veins that filigree out from the central stem to the lobe tips. Very arresting— my photo above doesn’t quite do them justice. They seem unreal, in fact, something that if an artist were to put it on canvas, would seem like fakery to sycamore-deficit viewers.

The late autumn leaf show takes a sort of radical turn for us. I see out the window at this very moment on Nov. 19 a little tree clad in bright green leaves amidst the somber brown grove around it.

A Conversation With Marshall Ganz…


From SASHA ABRAMSKY
The Nation
Thanks to Elizabeth Hutchins

[From Chavez to Obama, one of the great organizers... -DS]

Marshall Ganz opens the door to his large frame house on a residential street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Outside, a freezing late autumn rain is falling hard. Inside, it’s warm, calm. An eighteenth-century wind quintet, Mozart perhaps, is playing in the background. There are books everywhere, CDs stacked high—Ganz is a confessed opera fanatic—artwork lining the walls. A little painter’s palette resting atop a bookshelf filled with cookbooks is emblazoned with a quote from Claude Monet. It is ordered chaos, a clutter of intellectual themes and competing cultural expressions.

Over the old kitchen stove is an even older AFL-CIO sign: Union House. It’s an understatement. The occupant of the house is one of America’s great organizers, a man who has spent half a century organizing everyone from impoverished African-Americans in 1960s Mississippi to California farmworkers, from environmental advocates and Middle Eastern activists for women’s rights to the legions of young people who flocked to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.

Early on, Ganz realized Obama’s ability to connect with his audiences through his powerful voice

The Practice of Anarchy…


From DMITRY ORLOV
ClubOrlov

In my previous three-part series on anarchy (available here, here and here) I argued, among other things, that anarchic (that is to say, non-hierarchical and self-organizing) systems are the norm in evolution and in nature and have also been the norm in human societies through much of their existence. They have a great deal to offer us as we attempt to navigate a landscape dominated by the failure of various centrally controlled, rigidly organized, explicitly codified hierarchical systems based on complex chains of command that have come to dominate human societies in recent centuries. I have also pointed out that, based on recent results from complexity theory, such hierarchical systems are collapse-prone. This is because they scale badly, increasing their metabolic cost per unit size as their size increases, which is just the opposite of how living organisms behave. This is also because, in order to continue to meet their internal maintenance requirements, they have to grow exponentially until they encounter physical limits.

But, as some astute readers have pointed out, what are we to do with all this excellent information? We live in a hierarchically structured society whose sometimes oppressive but always ever-present top-down authority we cannot escape. With many generations of people having become used to hearing anarchists vilified as terrorists, communist revolutionaries and having been conditioned to accept anarchy as a synonym for chaos and mayhem, any attempt at advocating anarchism as a political program is bound to go nowhere. We may be able to accept that anarchy is the way of nature, but we must also accept that it is no longer (at least for the time being) the way of human nature—or, if you like, not the way of man—or at least not the way of “the man”—the one who

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