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Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Paradigms Shifting

In Around the web on November 30, 2012 at 5:16 am

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. More…

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

In Around the web on November 30, 2012 at 4:55 am


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

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Lessons for Building a Co-operative Movement…

In Around the web on November 29, 2012 at 6:23 am

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. More…

Becoming one of “them”

In Around the web on November 28, 2012 at 5:23 am

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.

More…

Gene Logsdon: Planting Rather Than Mining…

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on November 28, 2012 at 5:21 am

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. More…

George Carlin: Playboy Interview 1982…

In Around the web on November 28, 2012 at 5:00 am


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

In Around the web on November 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

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 More…

Modernity Bites…

In Around the web on November 26, 2012 at 7:00 am

 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 More…

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

In Around the web on November 26, 2012 at 6:19 am


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. More…

Used Books…

In Around the web on November 26, 2012 at 6:00 am

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 More…

William Edelen: More Robert Ingersoll…

In Robert Ingersoll Series, William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on November 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm

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 More…

Todd Walton: What’s New?

In Todd Walton on November 23, 2012 at 7:49 am

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. More…

Shift Change

In Around the web on November 23, 2012 at 7:29 am


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

In Around the web on November 22, 2012 at 6:02 am


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 More…

Death Knell for a Dying Paradigm…

In Around the web on November 21, 2012 at 7:59 am

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 More…

Gene Logsdon: Falling Leaves…

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on November 20, 2012 at 6:46 am

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. More…

A Conversation With Marshall Ganz…

In Around the web on November 20, 2012 at 6:22 am

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 More…

The Practice of Anarchy…

In Around the web on November 20, 2012 at 6:00 am

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 More…

Millions Join Largest European Strike Ever…

In Around the web on November 19, 2012 at 5:24 am

From ZCommunications
Thanks to Todd Walton

Europe’s Mediterranean rim trembled on Wednesday as violent clashes broke out following the largest coordinated multinational strike in Europe ever. In the hope to stave off decades of austerity, precarity and unemployment, European labor unions united for the first time since the start of the European debt crisis to organize strikes and protests in a total of 23 EU member states, with millions of workers walking off their jobs and marching on parliament buildings across the continent. Bloody street battles ensued across Spain, Portugal and Italy.

In Italy, over 300,000 protested in over 100 cities as workers observed a 4-hour stoppage in solidarity with Greek, Spanish and Portuguese workers. In Milan and Rome, scenes of street “guerriglia” were witnessed as thousands of students clashed with riot police, bringing traffic to a standstill and leading to dozens of injuries. In Sardinia, industry minister Corrado Passera and Fabrizio Barca, minister of territorial cohesion, had to be evacuated by helicopter after angry protesters besieged a meeting and started burning cars all around them.

In Naples and Brescia, thousands of students occupied railway tracks; in Genoa, the entrance to the ferry port was blocked; in Florence, Venice, Trieste and Palermo, banks were smeared with eggs and banners unfurled from monuments; in Padua clashes broke out between students and police; in Bologna 10.000 students took to the streets and attempted to march straight through a line of riot police; and in Pisa protesters occupied the leaning tower, unfurling a banner that read “Rise Up! We are not paying for your Euro crisis!”

Meanwhile, France witnessed protests and strikes in over 100 cities More…

Romney Lost More Than An Election…

In Around the web on November 19, 2012 at 5:00 am

Mitt Romney at Bain Capital in 1993

From GARRY WILLS
NYR

What happens to those who lose a presidential campaign? Some can do it with heads rightly held high, and go on to give valuable service to the nation. We were reminded of this just two weeks before the recent election, when George McGovern died. Though he underwent a humiliating defeat by Richard Nixon forty years before, he was a man of integrity, some of whose ideas were continued by people who worked in his 1972 campaign, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, veterans of his Texas office that year. McGovern was re-elected to the Senate after his presidential loss, where he performed important services, like defying the cattle, egg, and sugar lobbies to set up national dietary standards. This was a long-time commitment of his. Even before he went into the Senate, he had served as President Kennedy’s point man in the Food for Peace Program. In 1998, President Clinton appointed him his ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, where he worked effectively to curb world hunger. Above all, though he was a heroic flyer in World War II, he was a principled opponent of useless militarism.

What public service do we expect from Mitt Romney? He will no doubt return to augmenting his vast and hidden wealth More…

Robert Ingersoll

In Freethought, Robert Ingersoll Series, William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on November 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

What is surprising is that Robert Ingersoll is so little known in our time. He lived from 1833 to 1899 and was internationally known as the “great Agnostic,” one of the most brilliant thinkers, lawyers, orators, debaters and authors of his day, or any day. Twelve volumes of his works are still available and are a collector’s treasure. He lectured all over the United States and abroad to standing-room-only audiences.

He spoke on many subjects, but thousands upon thousands turned out to hear him demolish the absurdities of orthodox religious dogmas. He found them repugnant due to the damage they did to the human mind and spirit. He and Thomas Jefferson shared similar views regarding organized religion. And yet, on a deep and profound level he had a sense of the mystery that was breathtaking.

I can tell you that without exception his funeral eulogies are the most beautiful that I have read in the English language. The poet laureate of the universe, Walt Whitman, said that only one man could speak at his funeral, and that man was Robert Ingersoll.

Carl Sandburg said of Ingersoll’s eulogy of Whitman, “It was a most precious treasure.” More…

Occupy: Big Problems, Little Solutions…

In Around the web on November 17, 2012 at 7:46 am

Queens, United States. 11th November 2012 -- Volunteers from Greenpeace and Occupy Sandy movement gather in front of a community center that will be used for a permanent relief center. -- After nearly two weeks, with power companies working around the clock the Rockaways, in Queens, New York, remain blanketed in darkness. Occupy Sandy has organized relief efforts since the immediate aftermath of the storm, providing food and water.

From PAUL FREY
NYMagazine

This is the idea of Rolling Jubilee: Raise funds online; buy up consumer debt for pennies on the dollar; cancel it; set those in bondage free. So far the Occupy Wall Street offshoot has raised $200,000 to forgive $4 million. Strangers giving money to strangers to help other strangers: an inversion of the financial order, a genuine kindness, a great prank, and not incidentally a way to highlight how simultaneously abstracted and connected the world has become.

I know a guy named Dan Phiffer, who is helping the Rolling Jubilee people with their web server. When we talked Monday night, he was worried that as the news got out, the site would crash. He and I ran down the technologies in use. There were weaknesses and vulnerabilities, precarious linkages to outside services. If a throng arrived, RollingJubilee.org might get swamped under the load. Then money couldn’t come in (bad) and the message wouldn’t go out (worse).

Scaling is everything. A site that works perfectly for a hundred people fails catastrophically with a hundred thousand. If you expect traffic you can’t just hope for the best. There are dials to turn, files to configure, variables to tweak. For big companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, a huge portion of their annual effort is in scaling—ferreting out More…

Reading on a kindle is not the same as reading a book…

In Around the web on November 17, 2012 at 7:36 am

20121116-164056.jpgDante and Virgil in Hell

From ANDREW PIPER
Slate

Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future.

Understanding reading at this most elementary level—at the level of person, habit, and gesture—will be essential as we continue to make choices about the kind of reading we care about and the kind of technologies that will best embody those values. To think about the future of reading means, then, to think about the long history of how touch has shaped reading and, by extension, our sense of ourselves while we read.

***

The significance of the tactility of reading could begin with St. Augustine. More…

Todd Walton: Nature Bats Last

In Todd Walton on November 16, 2012 at 7:08 am

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“Deer have been around for five million years and must know what they’re doing.” Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Our new home turns out to be a deer park, the resident deer so numerous and hungry that only rhododendrons and redwoods and ferns and huckleberries (the bushes not the berries) and a few other large trees can hope to survive the ravenous hordes. A crumbling wooden fence surrounds our property, and here and there remnant strands of barbed wire speak of a time when the previous owners may have experienced a modicum of deer-free living. I am a vegetable and herb gardener and hope to have a large garden growing soon, as well as berries and fruit trees and flowers, with a few raised beds off the deck outside the kitchen, none of which I can have until we transmogrify the deer situation.

To that end we have engaged the services of a deer fence installer, and at the moment he arrived last week to give us a bid, there were not four or five deer, but seventeen of those hungry animals browsing the shrubs and lower branches of trees and vacuuming up the golden leaves fallen from a very tall plum tree and devouring lilies and daisies, and shitting profusely everywhere around our house. And the deer fence guy, scanning the assembly of does and bucks and fast-growing fawns, quipped, “I see the problem.” More…

You Can’t Say That!

In Around the web on November 16, 2012 at 7:05 am


From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute

In his November 14 press conference President Obama made a few brief comments about global warming:

“There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices and understandably, you know, I think right now the American people have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that if the message somehow is that we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anyone’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that. If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.”

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, almost everything.

Yes, the most effective way to slow climate change is to shrink the economy. That statement is inconvenient as hell, but it’s true. Sure, efficiency and renewable energy can nibble around the edges of our carbon emissions, but just three or four percent economic growth per year More…

How Germany Is Getting to 100 Percent Renewable Energy…

In Around the web on November 16, 2012 at 7:00 am


From THOMAS HEDGES
Truthdig
Thanks to Todd Walton

There is no debate on climate change in Germany. The temperature for the past 10 months has been 3 degrees above average and we’re again on course for the warmest year on record. There’s no dispute among Germans as to whether this change is man-made, or that we contribute to it and need to stop accelerating the process.

Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. The architects of the clean energy movement Energiewende, which translates to “energy transformation,” estimate that from 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.

Germans are baffled that the United States has not taken the same path. Not only is the U.S. the wealthiest nation in the world, but it’s also credited with jump-starting Germany’s green movement 40 years ago.

“This is a very American idea,” Arne Jungjohann, a director at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation (HBSF), said at a news conference Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C. “We got this from Jimmy Carter.” More…

The Real GOP Fiasco: Fairness…

In Around the web on November 15, 2012 at 6:35 am

Wikimedia Commons

From WICK ALLISON
The American Conservative

Bill Kristol, for once, is right. The Bush tax cuts for the rich have to go.

The election is barely over, but true to form, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have already bungled the next one. Their line in the sand is exactly the wrong way to recast the GOP’s appeal to minorities, women, and working-class whites.

Look at the data. Exit polls showed that voters largely agreed that Romney was a “strong leader” and “had a vision for the future.” But as AEI’s Henry Olsen notes, “Romney lost because he lost among those who chose the remaining characteristic – by 63 points, 81-18. That characteristic? Cares about people like me.” (The exit polls do not include the nine million white voters who showed their opinion by not voting at all.)

Having lost two national elections in which the Bush tax cuts were at issue, the GOP Congressional leadership now seems determined to dig the ditch deeper.

C.S. Lewis begins his classic Mere Christianity by listing phrases we’ve all heard or said: “How’d you like it if someone did the same to you” – “That’s my seat, I was here first” – “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” – “Why should you shove in first.” He notes that a child’s first introduction to immorality is when someone cuts in front of him in the school lunch line. The response is instinctual: “That’s not fair.” All moral codes, Lewis says, begin with that one reaction: “That’s not fair.”

The Republican Party can appeal to “Judeo-Christian values” as long as the sun shines and their voices hold out. But they’ve abandoned the most basic moral value of all: fairness. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity. More…

My Introduction to Socialism (age 10)…

In Around the web on November 15, 2012 at 6:30 am

“There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. Each person was given freely by his neighbors whatever he required for his use, which is as much as anyone may reasonably desire. Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do.” L. Frank Baum. (from L Frank Baum’s Socialist Society)

A reader has recently turned me on to William Still’s 2009 film, The Secret of Oz, about the socialist writer L. Frank Baum, who happens to be my earliest political influence. In addition to his outrageously popular The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum wrote thirteen sequels in which Dorothy returns to Oz for further adventures. Many of his later books provide detailed depictions of Oz (always governed by women) as socialist utopias. I still vividly recall one of the more remote regions of Oz being governed by a young woman who is required by law to dress in plain clothing and live in a crude one room hut.

According to numerous scholars, parts of Baum’s 1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are loaded with symbols related to monetary reform, which was at the core of the Populist movement and the 1896 and 1900 presidential bids of Populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan. The yellow brick road represents the gold standard, the Scarecrow farmers, the Tin Man industrial workers, the Wicked Witch of the West Cleveland banker  J.D. Rockefeller, the Wicked Witch of the East (NY banker J.P.Morgan), the Cowardly Lion William Jennings Bryant More…

The World Is Socialist…

In Around the web on November 15, 2012 at 6:25 am

From DAVE WINER
Scripting News

When I was 17, I read Atlas Shrugged and it “changed my life.” For about a year. In that book I heard that I was great and there were a few others like me, and most of the rest of the people were bullshitters. Grifters, looters, politicos, people who asked for us, the great ones, to work for them, because we could and they couldn’t. And all the time they put down the great people, said they were ungrateful, bad people etc etc. The great ones got tired of working for everyone and not being appreciated, so they all went and hid in their rooms until the world fell apart without them, and the people begged them to come back, saying they were sorry and they didn’t realize how cool they were. The great ones came back, straightened everything out, lived forever, never got sick, never got hit by a car, or had their house invaded by burglars, or burned down by fire. Etc etc.

It’s a beautiful story for a person caught between childhood and adulthood. You’re not yet aware of how the world actually works, in any real sense, and you remember all the issues of being a child (you still are a child at 17, despite how your body looks). Over the horizon is adulthood, which is beginning to come into view. You’re trying to imagine yourself as an adult. It’s understandable that the child, looking out to the future, wants to create something that looks a lot like the past. But it doesn’t work that way.

In New York we had a massive snow storm. It’s hard to know for sure if it could have been handled smoothly like so much in NY is. In normal times, NY is an amazing place. A busy street can be transformed into a street fair in a few hours, then switch back to being a busy street just in time for Monday morning. But throw a huge curveball at the city, like last week’s storm, and all bets are off. More…

Transition: Cheer up — things really are as bad as you think…

In Mendo Island Transition on November 14, 2012 at 6:36 am

From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

In last week’s election, Obama may have been a better choice than the alternative, but no American president is likely to have much positive impact on climate change, peak oil and the worldwide economic crisis anytime soon. Given the sorry state of national governments, controlled as they are by rapacious corporations driven by the profit motive, there’s little chance of either hope or change coming from the top in Washington or any other capital.

So, it’s up to local communities around the world to save themselves. Three new books will inspire you to join the effort while helping you achieve the calm and cool mind you’ll need to succeed.

Old McDonald had a brownfield

Deeply embedded in daily life, industrial food could be the most insidious kind of tyranny that today’s society exerts over people and communities. You nearly have to become Amish to completely avoid processed food made from GMOs and packed with chemicals and additives that may not kill you right away but will certainly kill you slowly through cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Urban Farms

Urban Farms by Sarah Rich is a non-combative hardcover volume with pictures by photographer More…

Human Bodies For Fertilizer?

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on November 14, 2012 at 5:54 am


From GENE LOGSDON

I thought I had an original idea recently only to find that thousands of others were way ahead of me. I got to thinking about cemeteries and their potential for garden farming while making death a little less abhorrent. That’s when I had this “new” idea that actually is very old but is now a new movement.

Have you heard about “green burials”?  A growing number of people want to be buried without toxic embalming fluids like formaldehyde, in a shroud or cardboard box or cheap, wooden, readily-biodegradable coffin. Since our bodies are going to decompose no matter what (even in mummification), why not let them return to life-giving humus naturally, thereby enriching the soil?

So I’ve been entertaining myself with a bizarre vision of cemeteries as gardens and orchards of lush food plants fertilized by all that nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, trace elements and organic matter that dead bodies would provide. Could human culture advance toward the true definition of immortality, the enfolding of our remains back into the food chain to contribute to the health of the environment even in death?

I see on Google that every year we are burying 90,000 tons of steel caskets, 14,000 tons of steel vaults, 2700 tons of copper and bronze caskets, 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete, and some 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, mostly formaldehyde which destroys microbial life in the soil. Even if these numbers are not quite accurate, they make the point very well. More…

Coalition kicks off ‘Rolling Jubilee’ campaign to eliminate debt…

In Around the web on November 13, 2012 at 7:10 am

From COMMONDREAMS

Coalition kicks off ‘Rolling Jubilee’ campaign to eliminate debt

A coalition of activists looking to build popular resistance to predatory lending kicked off a new initiative, The Rolling Jubilee, to challenge the status quo of debt collection by purchasing distressed debts and then—rather than collecting on it—wiping the slate clean.

 The Rolling Jubilee telethon will air Thursday, November 15 and can be live streamed on rollingjubilee.org The Occupy offshoot, Strike Debt, will hold a telethon and variety show called “The People’s Bailout” in New York on Nov. 15 to raise money for the cause. For pennies on the dollar ($32 for every $1), individuals or companies can buy distressed debt—including student loans and outstanding medical bills—from lenders if the borrower is either behind their payments or in default. Whereas traditional debt collectors then hound the debtor to pay up, the Rolling Jubilee is bunking the system by erasing the debt and, therefore, liberating the debtor.

Rolling Jubilee, whose website went live on Monday, has already raised over $87,000 to abolish $1.7 million worth of debt. According to writer and Jubilee organizer David Rees, the group has already performed a test run on the debt market by spending $500 on distressed debt, buying $14,000 worth of outstanding loans and pardoning the debtors.

Their stated goal is to raise $50,000 to buy up (and eliminate) $1 million worth of debt, focusing primarily on communities hardest hit by the recession. More…

James Houle: Obama’s Second Term…

In James Houle on November 13, 2012 at 7:00 am


From JAMES HOULE
Obama Watch
Redwood Valley

What sort of victory was this?
After defeating John McCain in 2008 by 7.2%, Obama has stumbled back for a second term with only 50.4% of the popular vote: a narrow 2.4% margin over the totally hapless Romney. In 2008 Obama’s win was fueled by a widespread disgust with George Bush’s performance. This week, nine million fewer voters chose Obama than in 2008, and there was widespread disenchantment with Obama’s first term performance. He received only one half million votes more than the inept John McCain had collected back in 2008! The President’s total vote was 13% less than four years ago, when his lead over McCain was three times as high. Total vote count was down 11 million across the country as many could not find a candidate they believed in. (WSWS 11-8-12) In California, 30% fewer went to the polls than in 2008!

If the people’s enthusiasm for your leadership declines by 11 million on your second try, would you as President interpret the message as “give us more of the same”? Yet some call the results a new mandate, while Obama himself talks of compromise with Republicans to work out a solution to the impending fiscal crisis on December 31st when both rich-guy tax increases and cuts in Social Security and Medicare are up for grabs? With a guarantee of four more years as President and slightly increased Democratic party strength in Congress, is it time for new initiatives and risk-taking, or is it time for more giving in to a leaderless Republican party? There was some good news in California where voters approved Proposition 30 increasing taxes on the rich and giving the Democrats More…

Transition Ukiah Valley: ‘Urban Roots’ Film Showing Tonight Tuesday 11/13/12 at 6pm

In Mendo Island Transition on November 12, 2012 at 5:38 am

Transition Ukiah Valley Film Series
and the
Gardens Project of N.C.O.
Present

The post-industrial urban landscapes of Detroit’s neighborhoods are being reclaimed, and a community spirit is being built, and people are feeding each other through community gardening and farming.

“Detroit’s farmers are building a new and powerful urban economy, and providing an invaluable service to their community. We need empowering films like Urban Roots to keep us moving in the right direction.” ~Alice Waters

Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak St. Tuesday, Nov. 13th at 6:00PM
$5-10 Donation requested

Discussion after the film…
Folks from the Gardens Project
and the Transition Ukiah Valley Food & Seeds working group
will talk about their local projects and answer questions.

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an international localization movement to build community resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic instability.

Join us! Contact: 707-376-8846

A Fiscally Sponsored Program of the Cloud Forest Institute.
TUV Film/Speaker Series
Sponsored & Supported by the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse.

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Climate science is Nate Silver and U.S. politics is Karl Rove…

In Around the web on November 12, 2012 at 5:30 am

From DAVID ROBERTS
Grist

Throughout this long, crazy campaign, there’s been a tension simmering between empiricists like Nate Silver and Sam Wang, who cited poll data showing Obama with a small but durable lead, and pundits who trusted their “guts” and the “narrative,” both of which indicated that Romney had all the momentum after the first debate.

In the face of model projections like Silver’s, Jonah Goldberg said that “the soul … is not so easily number-crunched.” David Brooks warned that “experts with fancy computer models are terrible at predicting human behavior.” Joe Scarborough said “anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue.” Peggy Noonan said that “the vibrations are right” for a Romney win. All sorts of conservative pundits were convinced the Romney campaign just felt like a winner.

Empiricism won. It didn’t win because it’s a truer faith or a superior ideology. It won because it works. It is the best way humans have figured out to set aside their perceptual limitations and cognitive shortcomings, to get a clear view of what’s happening and what’s to come.

As it happens, there’s another issue in American politics where empiricists are forecasting the future and being ignored. Here’s what the Nate Silvers of climate science are up to:

Looking back at 10 years of atmospheric humidity data from NASA satellites, [John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research] examined two dozen of the world’s most sophisticated climate simulations. They found the simulations that most closely matched actual More…

The Theology of Laughter

In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on November 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm

JC

From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

My title is borrowed from the writings of that beautiful Persian poet, Rumi.

At one of the most serious times of the war, Abraham Lincoln turned to the members of his cabinet and said, “Laugh, gentlemen… laugh or you will go mad.” Lincoln’s favorite stories were what he called his “preacher jokes.” Needless to say, the clergy of that day did not find them amusing or funny.

Too many forget that laughter is a sacred gift that can refresh the soul. There is no humor in the entire bible except one priceless scene in the Old Testament when Abraham and Sarah, both of them, laugh at God. God wants to know, “what’s so funny?” Abraham and Sarah thought it was hilarious what God wanted of them at their age. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old and here God wanted them to have a child. The height of optimism  and humor.

Abraham fell down on  his face, rolling with laughter at God, and said: “Do you mean that we can have a child at our age?  Do you know how old we are?” They laughed, even at God. Would we not all be better off and far healthier spiritually and emotionally if we would, even as Abraham, laugh at God more often? And laugh at our own religious pretensions?More...

Why were, and are, so many of our Church “fathers” opposed to laughing at much of the church and the clergy? Do they sense that laughter might weaken the somber, grim, fabric of their creeds, doctrines and dogma? Laughter was even punishable during periods of church history. Maybe they knew, deep within their hearts that they were in some sense laughable.Laughter can strip away excessive dignity and presumptuous titles. More…

Fiscal Cliff notes…

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on November 10, 2012 at 7:02 am

From digby
Hallabaloo

James Galbraith lays down some truth on the Grand Bargain nonsense:

That the looming debt and deficit crisis is fake is something that, by now, even the most dim member of Congress must know. The combination of hysterical rhetoric, small armies of lobbyists and pundits, and the proliferation of billionaire-backed front groups with names like the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” is not a novelty in Washington. It happens whenever Big Money wants something badly enough.

Big Money has been gunning for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for decades – since the beginning of Social Security in 1935. The motives are partly financial: As one scholar once put it to me, the payroll tax is the “Mississippi of cash flows.” Anything that diverts part of it into private funds and insurance premiums is a meal ticket for the elite of the predator state.

And the campaign is also partly political. The fact is, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the main way ordinary Americans connect to their federal government, except in wars and disasters. They have made a vast change in family life, unburdening the young of their parents and ensuring that every working person contributes whether they have parents, dependents, survivors or disabled of their own to look after. These programs do this work seamlessly, for next to nothing; their managers earn civil service salaries and the checks arrive on time. More…

Todd Walton: Precious Dream

In Todd Walton on November 9, 2012 at 7:05 am

Marcia and Stella at the Mendocino Coast Hospital

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

Last night I had a precious dream,
dreamt I woke into the dawn,
walked out of my little cottage,
found a newspaper on the lawn
When I picked up that morning tribune,
and it opened to the very front page,
the headlines they told me
it was the dawning of a brand new age

Several years ago, I wrote the song Precious Dream, and three years ago when Marcia and I recorded So Not Jazz, our CD of cello/piano/guitar/vocal duets we included the song on the album. A few months after the CD was released, a DJ in Astoria, Oregon used Precious Dream as her theme song for several weeks, and that about sums up the commercial life of the song.

I wrote Precious Dream to elucidate my hopes for the world and human society, and I like to think of the tune as a campaign song in search of a candidate. I have yet to find such a candidate, though the Greens come closest to embodying the gist of my reverie; and since we are about to find out who our next President is and how far to the right of the mythic center our Congress and state houses will be, I thought this would be a good time to share the lyrics with you.

Yeah, the rich folks had all decided
to share their money with the poor

The movie that most influenced my thinking about the human world More…

Four more years of obstruction, faux drama, and trench warfare?

In Around the web on November 9, 2012 at 7:03 am

From ANDREW SULLIVAN

Heritage is promising to double down on obstruction…

Massie rounds up The Corner’s reality-deficient responses to Obama’s victory:

[W]hat these eight responses demonstrate is the extent to which too many conservatives believed their own propaganda. This is what it’s like to live in a cocoon. The apparent inability to appreciate why any sane person might contemplate voting for Barack Obama is evidence of, well, of the closing of the conservative mind.

Hence the recourse to fantasies of the sort that leave the average, sober-minded voter wondering just what kind of crazy juice you’re hooked on. Obama wants to make the United States a kind of France? Check. Obama wants to crush religious liberty in America? Check. Our colleges are indoctrinating yet another generation of sadly-impressionable young American minds? Check. (Bonus: perhaps it would be better and certainly safer if fewer Americans risked going to college!) There is a War Against Americanism and Barack Obama is the enemy general? Check. The media are hoodwinking poor, gullible Americans? Check. Universal healthcare is the road to serfdom? Check. The people, damn them, are too stupid to know any better and deserve what they get? The fools. Check.

Drum fears that the GOP won’t “back down from their all-obstruction-all-the-time agenda” and we will have “four years of faux drama and trench warfare.” More…

Republicans don’t have a problem with their appearance. They have a problem with their reality…

In Around the web on November 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

From HULLABALOO

Akin And Mourdock Were Not “Outliers”

It truly is breathtaking, the depth to which Republicans can’t distinguish appearance from reality:

“We have a significant problem with female voters,” said John Weaver, a senior Republican strategist. Mr. Akin’s comments, Mr. Weaver said, “did not seem like outliers.” Nor, he added, were those made by Richard E. Mourdock, whose Senate campaign in Indiana was derailed in spectacular fashion after he said in a debate that it was “God’s will” when a pregnancy resulted from rape.

“They did not seem foreign to our party,” Mr. Weaver said. “They seemed representative of our party.” (Bold added.)

No, Mr. Weaver, it’s not an appearance problem. It’s not that Akin and Mourdock did not “seem” like outliers. It’s that they aren’t outliers. The Republican party platform doesn’t even have rape exception, for goodness sakes! And if the very position paper Republicans have agreed to run on isn’t central enough, let’s not forget that their standard bearer talked bizarrely about “binders full of women” and pointedly refused to disown supporters like Mourdock.

Forced birth, unequal pay, coat-hangers, and vaginal sonograms – that is precisely what the Republican party stands for when it comes to women. More…

Several Short Sentences About Empathy…

In Around the web on November 8, 2012 at 5:32 am

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

(the style of this essay is borrowed from that of NYT nature writer Verlyn Klinkenborg’s brilliant essay & book “Several Short Sentences About Writing”; I’m playing with it as an interesting new form of prose)

  • If we’re going to survive as a species when our civilization crumbles (and when that collapse brings about the end of the industrial economy, the end of abundant cheap energy and the end of stable climate), we are going to have to relearn how to live in community.
  • That will entail relearning to get along with (and to love, not just tolerate) people in our physical communities who we don’t like much. In our modern, anonymous, isolating society we have not had to do this.
  • Getting along with people we don’t like will require us to study, understand and appreciate why they are the way they are. They are the way they are for a reason.
  • Once we appreciate this reason, we will be able to empathize with their behaviour, and from that it’s a short journey to loving them.
  • One of the likely reasons they are the way they are is that, because of how and where they were raised, they learned that this is a good way to be. A good way to be, depending on the worldview you’re endowed with (and evolve through critical and imaginative thinking) is one that is, at least for you: Moral, safe, rewarded and/or mandated.
  • This good way to be More…

How Does Bernie Sanders Do It?

In Around the web on November 8, 2012 at 5:32 am

From JOHN NICHOLS
The Nation

The narratives spun by political and media elites at the close of the 2012 election campaign were all about money and television buys, polls and personalities. Both major parties focused on a narrow set of issues, and an even narrower set of appeals directed to a conventional wisdom that imagined Americans wanted only drab variations on the moderate themes sounded by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in their last debate. But up in Vermont, one of the most refreshingly unconventional politicians in America was coasting toward re-election with a campaign that broke all the rules. A week before the election, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had run no attack ads. In fact, he hadn’t run any TV commercials. He was still speaking in full sentences, not soundbites; still inviting voters to ask complicated questions on controversial issues—and still answering with big, bold proposals to address climate change, really reform healthcare with a single-payer “Medicare for All” program, steer money away from the Pentagon and toward domestic jobs initiatives, and counter the threat of plutocracy posed by Citizens United by amending the Constitution. Rejecting the empty partisanship of the pre-election frenzy, Sanders was ripping the austerity agenda of Romney and Paul Ryan, while warning that Obama and too many Democrats were inclining toward an austerity-lite “grand bargain” that would make debt reduction a greater priority than saving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. More…

Empathic Civilization

In Around the web on November 8, 2012 at 5:30 am



~~

Naomi Klein: Seizing the climate crisis to demand a truly populist agenda…

In Around the web on November 7, 2012 at 6:31 am

From NAOMI KLEIN
The Nation

Less than three days after Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States, Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute blamed New Yorkers’ resistance to big-box stores for the misery they were about to endure. Writing on Forbes.com, he explained that the city’s refusal to embrace Walmart will likely make the recovery much harder: “Mom-and-pop stores simply can’t do what big stores can in these circumstances,” he wrote.

And the preemptive scapegoating didn’t stop there. He also warned that if the pace of reconstruction turned out to be sluggish (as it so often is) then “pro-union rules such as the Davis-Bacon Act” would be to blame, a reference to the statute that requires workers on public-works projects to be paid not the minimum wage, but the prevailing wage in the region.

The same day, Frank Rapoport, a lawyer representing several billion-dollar construction and real estate contractors, jumped in to suggest that many of those public works projects shouldn’t be public at all. Instead, cash-strapped governments should turn to “public private partnerships,” known as “P3s.” That means roads, bridges and tunnels being rebuilt by private companies, which, for instance, could install tolls and keep the profits.

The overriding principle must be addressing the twin crises of inequality and climate change at the same time.

Up until now More…

Gene Logsdon: Lima Beans Into November

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on November 7, 2012 at 6:19 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Bad weather almost always brings a few good results, something to hang on to in the time of adversity. After the extremely dry summer, rain came here again in September and October and nature reacted with a tremendous spurt of new growth. Sometimes I wonder if during drought the soil doesn’t store up energy that is then unleashed when moisture returns. Anyway, among various good effects of this spurting green revival, our pole lima beans decided to come alive with new growth and blossoms.  Aiding that spurt of growth, we suffered no killing frost going into November.  (The photo shows the pole beans after the last harvest, after frost did come on Nov. 5.)

So on October 27, with the “storm of the century” bearing down on us (seems like every year now we have the storm of the century), Carol and I were out in the cold wind harvesting the last of these late beans. We picked even the ones that we normally might leave to mature another day or two. The advantage of pole limas is that you can hold a pod up to the sky light without picking it and ascertain the size of the beans inside. The secret of a really tasty lima bean is to harvest it when it is just a little bigger than a man’s thumbnail which is difficult to determine any other way. By the time the bean is plump enough to feel with your fingers, it has past its tenderest, tastiest stage.

Shivering in the wind and with fingers turning blue More…

Local Resilience: Tips for Harvesting, Storing and Using California Bay Nuts…

In Around the web on November 7, 2012 at 6:01 am


From PALEOTECHNICS
Mendocino County

Bay nut season is starting here in Northern California and it appears to be a good year. They should be raining down from trees up and down the coast for the next month or more.  The season varies year to year.  Sometimes it will extend into late November or even later.  Ripening times also vary among individual trees with some dropping early and some later on.  Here are some tips to increase your success and enjoyment with baynuts this year and for years to come!  See this article on the Paleotechnics website for a more in-depth treatment of bay nuts and Bay trees.

*Harvest the nuts in a timely fashion.  You don’t want them to either mold, or to start undergoing the physiological changes that happen when they begin sprouting.  It’s best to harvest the nuts before the husks are very dried or very rotten… Complete article here
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Struck Dumb…

In Around the web on November 6, 2012 at 5:55 am

From GEORGE MONBIOT

Why, even now, climate change cannot be mentioned in the presidential election.

Here’s a remarkable thing. Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama – with the exception of one throwaway line each(1,2) – have mentioned climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

They are struck dumb. During a Romney rally in Virginia on Thursday, a protester held up a banner and shouted “What about climate? That’s what caused this monster storm”(3). The candidate stood grinning and nodding as the crowd drowned out the heckler by chanting “USA!, USA!”. Romney paused, then resumed his speech as if nothing had happened. The poster the man held up? It said “End climate silence.”

While other Democrats expound the urgent need to act, the man they support will not take up the call. Barack Obama, responding to his endorsement by the mayor of New York, mentioned climate change last week as “a threat to our children’s future”(4). Otherwise, I have been able to find nothing; nor have the many people I have asked on Twitter. Something has gone horribly wrong.

There are several ways in which the impacts of Hurricane Sandy are likely to have been exacerbated by climate breakdown. Warmer oceans make hurricanes more likely and more severe(5,6). A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, increasing the maximum rainfall(7). Higher sea levels aggravate storm surges. More…

Transition: Who will get this economy going? No one…

In Mendo Island Transition on November 6, 2012 at 5:30 am

From DAVE GARDNER
GrowthBusters

“We’ve got to get this economy going again!” Unless your cave lacks wifi, cable or satellite, you’ve heard this once or twice in the last four seconds.

Job creation and economic growth dominate the November election in the U.S. — perhaps more than any election in history. Campaign ads for local, state and national candidates all promise jobs. The presidential election this year has become a referendum on who can breathe new life into our economy.

News Flash: Neither presidential candidate will succeed.

What if our unexamined assumptions about the need and possibility of perpetual economic growth are wrong? What if robust economic growth is our civilization’s way of driving off a cliff? What if the planet is incapable of supporting continued increase in global economic throughput?

We’ll excuse almost anything if it happens in the name of jobs. At last count the U.S. Congress had passed 247 anti-environmental measures in its current term. The Republican Party wants to throw environmental regulations overboard because they throttle back the unfettered growth we must have. Across the aisle, many who normally exhibit a stronger environmental ethic are joining the massacre, so strong is the mandate to grow the economy and create jobs. More…

Occupy, declared dead, is shining in this mess…

In Around the web on November 6, 2012 at 5:10 am

From REBECCA SOLNIT

The first horseman was named al-Qaeda in Manhattan, and it came as a message on September 11, 2001: that our meddling in the Middle East had sown rage and funded madness. We had meddled because of imperial ambition and because of oil, the black gold that fueled most of our machines and our largest corporations and too many of our politicians. The second horseman came not quite four years later. It was named Katrina, and this one too delivered a warning.

Katrina’s message was that we needed to face the dangers we had turned our back on when the country became obsessed with terrorism: failing infrastructure, institutional rot, racial divides, and poverty. And larger than any of these was the climate — the heating oceans breeding stronger storms, melting the ice and raising the sea level, breaking the patterns of the weather we had always had into sharp shards: burning and dying forests, floods, droughts, heat waves in January, freak blizzards, sudden oscillations, acidifying oceans.

The third horseman came in October of 2008: it was named Wall Street, and when that horseman stumbled and collapsed, we were reminded that it had always been a predator, and all that had changed was the scale — of deregulation, of greed, of recklessness, of amorality about homes and lives being casually trashed to profit the already wealthy. And the fourth horseman has arrived on schedule.

We called it Sandy, and it came to tell us we should have listened harder when the first, second, and third disasters showed up. This storm’s name shouldn’t be Sandy — though that means we’ve run through the alphabet all the way up to S this hurricane season, way past brutal Isaac in August More…

The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon…

In Around the web on November 6, 2012 at 5:00 am

From CHARLES HUGH SMITH

How many people would click “despise FB” and “abandon FB” if those were offered alongside the new “promote for a fee” button? 

Just in case you haven’t noticed, your Facebook activity may not be reaching the FB audience you enjoyed a few months ago.

If you want to reach your previous audience, you need to click that little “promote” button and pay the fee.

My friend Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds alerted me to a remarkable coincidence: shortly after Facebook’s May launch of the “promote” option for business accounts, business users noticed an 85% reduction in their FB reach. Facebook: I Wany My Friends Back.

Like many other “stealth” revenue campaigns in social media, the “promote” revenue stream was first introduced as a marketing tool for enterprises and groups: Facebook’s tempting ‘Promote’ button for business (CNET).

It was presented as a way to expand one’s reach on FB, to friends of friends, etc. What was not highlighted was the “stealth” reduction in reach to “encourage” use of the “promote” option: Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right:

Many of us More…

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