Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

How Austerity Conservatism Will Screw Us…

In Around the web on November 5, 2012 at 8:02 am


The enormity of last week’s super-storm is just beginning to sink into political consciousness. Hurricane Sandy should transform what Americans expect from their government, and give the party of government activism new force.

As soon as the election is behind us, the country faces a major struggle over what the super-storm portends and requires. But that struggle will be as much within the Democratic Party as between Democrats and the right, because of the deadweight of austerity politics.

I. The Three Faces of Conservatism.

In this political season, progressives are actually battling three forms of conservatism — and two of them have made deep inroads in the Democratic Party, especially the presidential party.

The first variety — call it Yahoo Conservatism — is epitomized by the Tea Party and Rep. Paul Ryan, and by Mitt Romney’s intermittent, clumsy efforts to impersonate it.

Its credo is: cut taxes, privatize social programs, slash government, bash immigrants and gays, deny climate change, dictate reproductive rules, move America in the direction of theocracy, and valorize gun-slinging both at home and globally.

This face of conservatism doesn’t represent most Americans. And on the Yahoo front, Barack Obama More…

Why political journalists can’t stand Nate Silver: The limits of journalistic knowledge…

In Around the web on November 5, 2012 at 7:49 am


The more I think about the rift between political journalism and Nate Silver, the more it seems that it’s one that’s fundamentally an issue of epistemology — how journalists know what they know. Here’s why I think that’s the case.

When we talk about the epistemology of journalism, it all eventually ties into objectivity. The journalistic norm of objectivity is more than just a careful neutrality or attempt to appear unbiased; for journalists, it’s the grounds on which they claim the authority to describe reality to us. And the authority of objectivity is rooted in a particular process.

That process is very roughly this: Journalists get access to privileged information from official sources, then evaluate, filter, and order it through the rather ineffable quality alternatively known as “news judgment,” “news sense,” or “savvy.” This norm of objectivity is how political journalists say to the public (and to themselves), “This is why you can trust what we say we know — because we found it out through this process.” (This is far from a new observation – there are decades of sociological research on this.)

Silver’s process — his epistemology — is almost exactly the opposite of this:

Where political journalists’ information is privileged, his is public More…

The Pulpit Needs Agnostics

In William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on November 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

The Contrary Minister

For more than 25 years the beloved Senior Minister of the famed City Temple of London (Methodist) was Leslie Weatherhead. His books have been read by millions.

In The Christian Agnostic he opens with this: Not for much longer will the world put up with the lies, the superstitions and the distortions with which the simple message of Jesus has been overlaid. The message of Galilee has been so overlaid with creeds, ceremonies and doctrines, that one can hardly catch the essential message.”

He goes on to say that any minister, standing in a pulpit, who is not an agnostic is dangerous. Why is he (she) dangerous? Because he pretends to have positive and absolute answers, that he does not have. He lives in the 20th [and 21st] century, parroting back a third century biblical mentality, as though nothing had been learned, thought or discovered in the last 2000 years.

As the religious historian Joseph Campbell put it: “The majority of ministers either do not understand their material or else are deliberately misrepresenting it, if they know better. They present myth and metaphor as historical literal events. The idea of virgin birth, for example, is presented as historical fact, whereas every mythology (and religious tradition) in the world has included the mythological motif of virgin birth in their legends and folklore. American Indian mythologies abound in virgin births.”

I commend another book of his to those of you who would like to become more knowledgeable in this area. It is The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. More…

Todd Walton: Yard Sale

In Around Mendo Island, Todd Walton on November 2, 2012 at 5:41 am

Under The Table

We just had a big yard sale to move along the myriad things we did not wish to keep in our new life in our new house. This was my fourth such undertaking and Marcia’s first time trying to sell stuff we no longer care to possess. I keep wanting to call the event a garage sale because the things were first stored in our garage, but the category heading in the newspaper where we ran our ad was Yard Sales, and the sale did take place in our yard, so…

Because the universe is mysterious and seemingly a bit sadistic, as well as loving and miraculous, Marcia came down with a bad flu cold a week before the event and was just starting to feel better as the blessed day dawned, whereas I was just entering Zenith Flu Cold Symptom Time as the alarm clock sounded at 6 AM on the dreaded day. Oh, joy. Had we not advertised the bloody sale in the newspaper I might have stayed in bed battling exhaustion and sleep deprivation and tides of snot, but such was not the case, the hordes would soon be descending, and so I rose from my warm nest and went out into the frigid dawn to help Marcia empty the garage onto our driveway.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the aforementioned possibly sadistic and certainly ironic universe had, just two days before the event, seen fit to break our two-car garage door, a folding fiberglass contraption More…

How Genetically Modified Cotton is Taking Over…

In Around the web on November 2, 2012 at 5:31 am


There is a very good chance that if you’ve bought anything made of cotton within the last several years, you have indirectly, and most likely unknowingly, supported the GMO industry. That’s because it is estimated that 90 percent of cotton produced worldwide is now genetically modified. While GM cottonlikely won’t hurt you, the concern is that we, as consumers, haven’t been kept informed of the presence of these crops and their byproducts in our lives.

According to The Telegraph, British author Simon Ferringo says that only 12 countries in the world actually grow genetically modified cotton, but that their crops account for the majority produced in the world.

In the United States and elsewhere, the cotton is genetically modified to resist pests. The large prevalence of GM cotton means finding organic cotton is getting more and more difficult and is coming at a heftier price.

Some retailers have formed a “sustainable cotton consortium”. The companies, known as The Better Cotton Initiative, include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, H&M, Adidas, M&S, and Nike. While they currently have little control over whether or not they are using GM cotton More…

Dave Smith: Ukiah Priorities Skewed…

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on November 1, 2012 at 6:21 am


Letter to Editors: AVA, UDJ

We all know that in emergencies, seconds count. Seconds can mean life or death.

My store on State Street in Ukiah is a vantage point for observing the response times of our first responders. As the sirens sound, first past the store is always the Fire Department paramedic ambulance, and then a few seconds later, sometimes many seconds later, comes the big, lumbering fire truck.

Chief Dewey is requesting the elimination of the Fire Department ambulance due to budget reductions of six firefighter/ paramedics (Ukiah Daily Journal 10/27/12) leaving us with fire trucks, and woefully inadequate private agencies, for emergency response. And our Police Department is so overwhelmed that the City Council is being asked to please add back police officers.

Meanwhile, our city staff seems to be hanging on to administrative jobs by unsuccessfully challenging state budget cuts to redevelopment money over and over again.

Has our leadership forgotten that their first priority is public safety? One wonders what their priorities are when they cut into bone before cutting away the fat.

Helping Your Your Community Prepare For The Next Disaster…

In Around the web on November 1, 2012 at 6:00 am


People want to help their communities when tragedy strikes, but it’s often impossible to match up eager volunteers with people and tasks that need manpower. This new web platform will get cities and towns ready to do just that.

Every time a populated region experiences a natural disaster, people have the same reaction: Why didn’t we prepare for this better? What can we do differently next time?

Those were some of the thoughts going through Caitria O’Neill’s head after a freak tornado hit her hometown of Monson, Massachusetts in May 2011. O’Neill had just graduated from Harvard and moved her boxes home when the tornado arrived, making her home uninhabitable. O’Neill tried to help with recovery efforts as best she could, using Facebook, Google Voice, and even post-it notes to organize volunteer information.

“There were these two completely uncoordinated things happening on the ground: people showing up who wanted to help and organizations and families that needed help,” she says. “There was no infrastructure binding the two. More…

Archiving The Information Necessary To Rebuild Society…

In Around the web on November 1, 2012 at 5:50 am


The world economy has collapsed. There is no internet or Wikipedia. How do you rebuild society?

CD3WD is a site built by programmer Alex Weir that’s meant to help spur the improvement of the infrastructure of third world nations by giving them first-world technology and knowledge for free.

Everything from agriculture to technology is addressed in its roughly 4 DVDs worth of the archived information available online and for free in text and PDF format; it’s also available to download in its entirety from this torrent.

Not only is this project a great information resource for third-world countries, but if you are of the survivalist mindset, this resource would be great to keep in your tool chest for possible use in the future if such a civilisation-ending disaster ever did occur. Think of it as a repository of some of the most useful human knowledge and technology.

The project is also looking for volunteers to add content to areas which are missing substantive content.

Agriculture – VITA – Cereals Manual I
Agriculture – VITA – Cereals Manual II
Agriculture – VITA – Seed Germination
Agriculture – VITA – Seeds and Weeds
Agriculture – VITA – SoyBeans
Agriculture – VITA – Garden Sileage
Agriculture – VITA – Greenhouses
Agriculture – VITA – Grain Storage III


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