People of the Center vs. The Children of Moloch

Author, A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil

I’ve gotten literally dozens of emails begging me to weigh in on the East Anglia climate scandal, and for a while, I was reluctant to do so, because ultimately, paying attention to something so inane just gives it credibility. We’re back, again, to the old battles over climate change – attention to trivialities in the absence of the central issue.

Anyone who made any effort at all knows that no, they didn’t lose or hide the data – it is still out there to be gathered by anyone doing the work. Yes, they should have kept the raw data, but given that they had a tiny budget, limited storage space and were writing their own code, maybe cut them some slack – maybe some discredit is due the climate skeptics who have kept this subject so wildly underfunded? Yes, we can still find raw temperature data at both the collection sites and at the several other compilers.

Yes, the scientists said some stupid and imprudent things – but saying that they were responsible for politicizing the discussion ignores the tens of millions of dollars spent by climate skeptic lobbyists over the last decades to create dissension and attack the scientists. Is there a religious-like orthodoxy of science that has exerted pressure on poor, hapless political leaders? Sure…30+ years of not accomplishing jack-shit – wow, those mean and powerful scientists – where do they get their power? Does an attack on four guys in England undermine all climate data? Ummm…four guys. Compared to tens of thousands of peer reviewed papers.

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

Flint, Michigan

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new “war president”? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn’t so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That’s the way General Washington insisted it must be. That’s what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. “You’re fired!,” said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in’ hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner.

It is the REAL economy that needs the help…


I was moved to quote this passage from a novel I recently finished. The novel, written by Stieg Larsson, was set in Sweden and is about a journalist unafraid to investigate and expose a number of criminal corporations and the Swedish mainstream media lack of reporting the facts, instead aiding and abetting the corporations. Near the end of the book the corporations begin to be exposed and the corporation’s many investors cause the Swedish stock market to plummet. Our protagonist is being interviewed on TV and he was asked if he felt responsible for the economy’s freefall…

“The idea that Sweden’s economy is heading for a crash is nonsense,” Blomkvist said.

The host on TV4 looked perplexed. His reply did not follow the pattern she had expected and she was forced to improvise. Blomkvist got the question he was hoping for. “We’re experiencing the largest single drop in the history of the Swedish stock exchange – and you think that’s nonsense?”

“You have to distinguish between two things – The Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the things goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan and shipments from Kiruna to Skovde. That’s the Swedish economy and it is as strong or weak as it was a week ago.” He paused for effect and took a sip of water.

“The stock exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions more or less. It doesn’t have a thing to do with reality or with the Swedish economy.”

How To Grind, Leach, Cook and Eat Acorns


[This extremely important, locally-produced book, Acorns and Eat ‘Em, is available to download free here. I also have a copy I’ve printed out that can be browsed at Mulligan Books. If anyone wants a copy and cannot download and print it out themselves, I’m happy to do it for you. -DS]


Hunker Down Locally as the End of the World Arrives in Mendocino County

Family Frog Farm, Redwood Valley

Some interesting thoughts are going through the minds of our friends and neighbors – check out the ones who called Jeff Blankfort’s KZYX radio show on Nov 25…

Peak Oil Blues

Ordinary fears/extraordinary times: 55 (real) things to worry about (if you must…)

We have other things to worry about right now…

Peak Oil, Climate change and the Greater Depression will pose many challenges to our way of life but let’s get real, for a moment: Golden Hordes aren’t one of them. At least not now. Economic depression brings with it a host of serious problems, and I think you can say quite confidently, without being a chicken little, that most of the world is in a Greater Depression. But still, we’ve got a few years to go before we can say that the USA is no longer a viable culture, when no one wants to live in Paris or London, when potatoes no longer grow in Poland, and before donkey’s begin pulling our rusted-out cars. Bikers with shotguns; weaving socks from milk thistle; crashing waves drowning our cities; evacuating your house on a moments notice to house troops; the government coming to confiscate your precious metals; a mass exodus of cities as the violence and mayhem escalates to untolerable levels—all of these things should not be on the top of the list of what to prepared for. So what should be?

Cultural orphan of the class struggle

From Joe Bageant
Author, Deer Hunting With Jesus

Hi Joe,

I just found your site a few weeks ago, computer-phobe and migraine sufferer that I am, but it seems like the more I read of you, the more I understand of myself. I’m from southern Illinois, born and raised, although I lived away from here for a short time.

Now I’m back living in Williamson county, in a town where our last major factory closed two years ago, and coal mining, what’s left of it, is not much more than an irritating reminder of better times long gone. But I give the folks around here a lot of credit. They’re always looking to get beyond the disappointments of the present, find ways to attract new business, and keep the population from decreasing. We’ve held at a steady 10,000 for a good thirty years, and although it might seem laughable to some, that’s a victory in itself, considering everything we’ve lost, believe me.

As for me, I was born working class, well, underclass, truth be told. My dad had been a prosperous farmer post World War Two, but after he lost the farm, he had no other skills to fall back on. He became a house painter, working from dawn till dusk. When his health failed, he became a janitor. My mom was a nurse’s aid at a time when not only didn’t you need a certificate, you didn’t even need to show an 8th grade diploma. It was my bad fortune to be born long after the farm was gone, so all I ever heard from my parents was how wonderful everything use to be, and how shitty it is now. I was one of those quiet, bookish, pessimistic little kids, having little in common with my parents or peers. But rural poverty will have its effect, and I grew up to hold the same jobs as everybody else, working at Wal-Mart, Kroger, and at gas stations which seemed to change their names every few months. I never had what most would consider a real job. I guess because I never felt I deserved it.

And at middle age, I have to say I’ve never found a way to overcome those feelings. A few years ago, while still in my thirties, I had the quixotic idea to go to college.

From Wage Slave to Micro Entrepreneur

From The View From Brittany

My girlfriend is setting up her own business. It is something she had always wanted to do, but her being laid off in the wake of the current economic downturn – as we have come to call what might very well be the new economic normality – kicked her into action. She is hardly the only one in this situation. All over the country there is a flurry of new business creations. In normal times, this would bode well for a country which has indeed coined the word “entrepreneur” but had forgotten it quite a long time ago. We are not in normal times however, and this unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship tells in fact of a deep economic insecurity which can only increase with the coming energy descent. It also announces the end of an economic arrangement which had shaped the western social landscape for nearly a century : the wage system.

Wage labor has become so common, so “normal” in today’s society, that we have forgotten how marginal – and despised – it was before the Industrial Revolution. In agrarian societies wages were what farmhands, servants and journeymen got – and for the last category it was considered temporary. All respectable working people were self employed, either owning or renting land or running small – or even not so small – businesses. Living on wages was something you did when you had no other choice, and, socially speaking, that put you a mere step above a beggar or a slave. It is particularly revealing that in Latin, the word for wages has the same root as the word for prostitute.

There were, of course exceptions, but they were not seen as such. Journeymen lived on wages but, at least theoretically, it was, for them only a temporary step

Spencer Brewer urges shop local… as he closes his own store

Ukiah Daily Journal

As the Christmas shopping season kicks off, one Ukiah business will begin a giant sale on Monday.

A going out of business sale.

Spencer Brewer, well-known local musician, is closing the Ukiah Music Center after six years selling pianos, guitars, amplifiers, guitar strings, music books, drums and every other kind of musical instrument or gizmo imaginable.

It was the largest music store in three counties and the only piano store between here and the Oregon border.

The economy certainly had a hand in the problems at UMC this year, but Brewer said he feels his situation also presents a cautionary tale about shopping locally.

“We’re going out of business in large part because of the Internet,” he said, “where they don’t pay sales taxes or freight.”

Competitors on the Internet, he said, can sell musical instruments cheaper than he can even stock them wholesale.

What is most aggravating, he continued, was that people would come into the Ukiah Music Center, ask about an instrument, get the store to give them the research and the brochures, and then buy their instrument or equipment on the Internet.

Local Mendocino Politics: Norman de Vall interviews Joe Wildman about Measure A and upcoming elections (Audio)

Redwood Valley

In case you missed it, Norman de Vall’s interesting and informative interview show with Joe Wildman, on Norman’s KZYX Access Show, is available to download or listen online at:

More Gang-Bang For Your Buck


Faced with new credit card restrictions, lenders are touting debit card loyalty programs. But many come with fees that may not be worth it for consumers.

Could debit cards be the next cash cow for banks? If banks have their way, they will.

Americans have conducted more transactions and spent more money using debit cards than credit cards this year — the first time that’s ever happened.

Next year, consumers are expected to spend $1.64 trillion with their debit cards, nearly two-thirds more than in 2006, according to the payments industry trade publication The Nilson Report.

And there is no indication this growth is slowing down anytime soon. Not only are Americans increasingly reluctant to take on more debt, but banks are expected to become more stingy with credit cards once new federal legislation takes effect next year, which could make the debit card the preferred form of payment for many consumers.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by large and small banks, who are currently looking for ways to wring any extra dollars out of their business at a time of severe loan losses.

“Banks, just like airlines and local governments, are looking for fee income to fill the revenue gap,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with

What is shaping up to be an area of focus for lenders are loyalty or rewards programs for debit card users.

A concept that has long been associated with credit cards, increasing numbers of banks have looked to such programs as a way to generate more fees from consumers.

5 evil things credit card companies can (still) do

Passing Wind

To live sanely in Los Angeles (or, I suppose, in any other large American city) you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be. They have planned a life for you — from the cradle to the grave and beyond — which it would be easy, fatally easy!, to accept. The least wandering of the attention, the least relaxation of your awareness, and already the eyelids begin to droop, the eyes grow vacant, the body starts to move in obedience to the hypnotist’s command. Wake up, wake up — before you sign that seven-year contract, buy that house you don’t really want, marry that girl you secretly despise. Don’t reach for the whiskey, that won’t help you. You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity. ~Christopher Isherwood, “Los Angeles,” 1966 via this week’s AVA. Subscribe to the new AVA website with meaningful local news, opinions, and blogs.Locally owned and feisty as hell!

See also “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Mike Geniella’s on-line AVA column

How infantile is American society?  Last night’s CBS “Business Update” (in the midst of its “60 Minutes” program) featured three items: 

Rural Matters

Redwood Valley

From the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (the trade association for domestic microenterprise development): On Wednesday, November 18, 2009 Connie Evans, president and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) participated in President Obama’s Small Business Financing Forum, hosted by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills held at the Treasury Department. The invitation-only Forum included Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Grady Hedgespeth, SBA Director of Financial Assistance, Gene Sperling, Counselor to the Treasury Secretary, small business owners from around the country including a borrower from a micro lending institution, CDFI leaders, and bankers.

The purpose of the forum was to provide ideas to President Obama on what additional steps the Administration can take to improve access to capital to the small business community. Evans acknowledged the good relationship AEO has with both the SBA and the CDFI, and thanked both Administrator Mills and Secretary Geithner for their inclusion and attention to the smallest of businesses served by the microenterprise development community which includes both CDFIs and SBA Microloan intermediaries. Evans continued with these specific remarks when recognized from the floor:

“Our members are receiving ten times the number of bank referrals for loans per week as compared to before the economic crisis. They are spending more time providing technical assistance in making these loan applications viable. We ask that you allow technical assistance funds

Feeding America: How the hell did we get here?

Daily Kos

[With the expansion of Walmart in South Ukiah, I think we need to be asking if we will be seeing a food desert (explained in this excellent post on the Daily Kos) in the Ukiah Valley. For people who are not farmers market shoppers for whatever reason, I think this is a real possibility. I say this because if Walmart becomes a superstore that contains a huge supermarket, will the other supermarkets be able to survive? Will Safeway, Lucky, and Raley’s still be around? Or, will only people with transportation to Walmart be able to buy food from other than fast food establishments and minimarts (where the food is both bad for you and very expensive. -JS]

So why in the name of (insert your deity or hero’s name here) are there people starving in America? According to Feeding America’s latest figures, 49 Million people are in a state of food insercurity:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA) reported (Nov. 19th) that 49 million Americans, including nearly 17 million children, are food insecure. The 2009 report on Household Food Insecurity in the United States paints an alarming picture of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation.

This is an increase of 36 percent over the numbers released one year by the USDA, which found that 36.2 million American were at risk of hunger.“It is tragic that so many people in this nation of plenty don’t have access to adequate amounts of nutritious food,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America.

Go to complete article here

Animal, Vegetable, Miserable

NYT Op-Ed Contributor

LATELY more people have begun to express an interest in where the meat they eat comes from and how it was raised. Were the animals humanely treated? Did they have a good quality of life before the death that turned them into someone’s dinner?

Some of these questions, which reach a fever pitch in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, pertain to the ways in which animals are treated. (Did your turkey get to live outdoors?) Others focus on the question of how eating the animals in question will affect the consumer’s health and well-being. (Was it given hormones and antibiotics?)

None of these questions, however, make any consideration of whether it is wrong to kill animals for human consumption. And even when people ask this question, they almost always find a variety of resourceful answers that purport to justify the killing and consumption of animals in the name of human welfare. Strict ethical vegans, of which I am one, are customarily excoriated for equating our society’s treatment of animals with mass murder. Can anyone seriously consider animal suffering even remotely comparable to human suffering? Those who answer with a resounding no typically argue in one of two ways.

Some suggest that human beings but not animals are made in God’s image and hence stand in much closer proximity to the divine than any non-human animal; according to this line of thought, animals were made expressly for the sake of humans and may be used without scruple to satisfy their needs and desires.

How Relocalization Worked

Via Energy Bulletin

One of the points that I’ve tried to make repeatedly in these essays is the place of history as a guide to what works. It’s a point that deserves repetition. A good many worldsaving plans now in circulation, however new the rhetoric that surrounds them, simply rehash proposals that were tried in the past and failed repeatedly; trying them yet again may thus not be the best use of our limited resources and time.

Of course there’s another side to history that’s more hopeful: something that worked well in the past can be a useful guide to what might work well in the future. I’d like to spend a little time discussing one example of this, partly because it ties into the theme of the current series of posts – the abject failure of current economic notions, and the options for replacing them with ideas that actually make sense – and partly because it addresses one of the more popular topics in the ongoing peak oil discussion, the need for economic relocalization as the age of cheap abundant energy comes to an end.

That relocalization needs to happen, and will happen, is clear. Among other things, it’s clear from history; when complex societies overshoot their resource bases and decline, one of the things that consistently happens is that centralized economic arrangements fall apart, long distance trade declines sharply, and the vast majority of what we now call consumer goods get made at home, or very close to home. Now of course that violates some of the conventional wisdom that governs economic decisions these days; centralized economic arrangements are thought to yield economies of scale that make them more profitable by definition than decentralized local arrangements.

When history conflicts with theory, though, it’s not history that’s wrong,

Obama, One Year On (Updated)

Editor and Publisher
The Nation

Updated below

Barack Obama was elected president at a time defined by hope and fear in equal measure. It was a remarkable moment in our country’s history–a milestone in America’s scarred racial landscape and a victory for the forces of decency, diversity and tolerance. For the first time in decades, electoral politics became a vehicle for raising expectations and spreading hope while it mobilized millions of new voters. Obama’s was a campaign built on the power and promise of change from below. At the same time, he was elected as the nation was rapidly sinking into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The night Obama was elected, relief was felt around the world. There was a widespread feeling that the United States had turned its back on eight years of destructive, swaggering unilateralism and was re-embracing the global community. In many ways, the election was a referendum on an extremist conservatism that has guided (and deformed) American politics and society since the 1980s. The spectacular failures of the Bush administration and the shifts in public opinion on the economy and the Iraq War presented a mandate for bold action and a historic opportunity for a progressive governing agenda.

A year later, it’s clear we are a long way from building a new order and reshaping the prevailing paradigm of American politics. That will take more than one election. It requires continued mobilization, strategic creativity and, yes, audacity on the part of independent thinkers, activists and organizers. The structural obstacles to change are considerable. But at least we now have the political space to push for far-reaching reforms.

Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policy on any specific issue, he is clearly a reform president committed to the improvement of people’s lives and to the renewal and reconstruction of America.

A Local Currency Pilgrimage to Wörgl

Co-Founder Transitions Network
See also Mendo Moola

Well not quite, but en route to a gathering of Ashoka Fellows in Austria where I’ll be for the next couple of days, I by chance found myself in the Austrian town of Wörgl, famed for its alternative currency experiment in the 1930s… The Wörgl was introduced to the town in 1932, at the height of the Depression, when a third of the town was without work. It is an amazing story.

The town’s then Mayor, the wonderfully named Michael Unterguggenberger, was taken with the idea that the national currency promoted hoarding and disincentivised spending, and proposed instead what he called “Certified Compensation Bills” (not a name to trip off the tongue I grant you). The notes were issued by the Council, who agreed to accept them as currency. The idea of the Wörgl was that it was money that went off, it lost value over time, a process known as ‘demurrage’. The notes needed to be stamped each month, or else they depreciated by a small amount, which incentivised its rapid turnover (a feature of the Stroud Pound). The back of the notes contained the following explanation;

“To all whom it may concern! Sluggishly circulating money has provoked an unprecedented trade depression and plunged millions into utter misery. Economically considered, the destruction of the world has started. It is time, through determined and intelligent action, to endeavour to arrest the downward plunge of the trade machine and thereby to save mankind from fratricidal wars, chaos, and dissolution. Human beings live by exchanging their services.

In Memory of Wayne Knight


The Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra is chanted daily in Buddhists Monasteries in China, Japan, Tibet, Korea and right here in Mendocino County. Also known as the Great Prajna Paramita Sutra, the name refers to the intuitive wisdom that can be experienced by the mind that has gone over to the far shore. A sutra is not a prayer to a supreme being, for Buddhists do not experience a supreme being. Rather, a sutra is a discourse, a homage to how things are. This discourse concerns “heart-mind”, the indissoluble linkage between thinking and feeling, between mind and matter. Wayne Knight experienced this linkage and expressed it in his portraits of Cambodians. Please suffer with me for a moment as I try to explain the inexplicable.

The convergence between science and mysticism, between Eastern thought and Western pragmatism became apparent in the Post-Einsteinian revelations of Quantum Physics, which confirmed what the Mahayana Buddhists discovered about 350 CE. Matter was found to be essentially empty of materiality and subatomic particles were found to be packets of light, or of waves, without mass. The solid indestructible blocks of matter upon which our Newtonian/Cartesian science has comfortably rested all these years was badly shaken in the 1920s by Bell’s Theorem and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. When looked at under an electron microscope, instead of particles of matter, physicists found nothing but a continuous dance of energy particles. The elementary particles were not independently existing entities but merely sets of relationships with no inherent separate existence. Nagarjuna, in 200 CE had already explained this: “Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves”.

Pastured Turkey Cooking Tips

Chelsea Green Books

For the past week, farm families across the country (including my own) have been rising each morning to engage in what has become our own unique, albeit macabre, Thanksgiving Tradition.  We are processing our turkeys.  Unlike the factory-farmed birds found in most grocery stores, these birds are usually processed just a few feet from the lush grasses where they were raised, quite often by the same hands that first gently set their newly hatched toes into a brooder, and then carefully moved them, once they were old enough, out to the fields for a few months of free-ranging turkey living.  Now that the processing complete, our birds sit in our coolers and await our customers, who will venture out to the farm for a tradition of their own, retrieving their annual Thanksgiving feast.  For those of you who are new to this process, here is a list of tips to guide you through and make sure that you have a delicious holiday feast.

  1. Please be flexible. If you are buying your pasture-raised turkey from a small, local, sustainable farmer, thank you VERY much for supporting us. That said, please remember that pasture-raised turkeys are not like factory-farmed birds. Outside of conscientious animal husbandry, we are unable to control the size of our Thanksgiving turkeys. Please be forgiving if the bird we have for you is a little larger or a little smaller than you anticipated. Cook a sizeable quantity of sausage stuffing if it is too small (a recipe appears below), or enjoy the leftovers if it is too large.  If the bird is so large that it cannot fit in your oven, simply remove the legs before roasting it.

Book Review: The Last of the Husbandmen – Gene Logsdon

Reviews of
The Last of the Husbandmen
By Gene Logsdon

[From TIM BATES, Philo Apple Farm: Join Dan and Tim this Monday Nov. 22nd at 1:00 KZYX for another fun, lively, and sobering discussion with Gene Logsdon–ye old Contrary Farmer himself. Still raging against the machineries that keep rural people from realizing their potential as vital parts of American society. Gene now hosts a blog site  — The Contrary Farmer — with well over a hundred postings carrying forward the conversation. Gene’s books include All Flesh is Grass, Good Spirits, The Pond Lovers, and most recently a novel, The Last of the Husbandmen — which will be a focal point of the show. All topics are fair game and nothing is sacred.]

“In The Last of the Husbandmen—as in everything Gene Logsdon writes — wit is the nurse crop to wisdom. With a conclusion as comical as it is hopeful, this latest book is equal parts entertainment and enlightenment—just what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Logsdon.”

Michael Perry — author of Truck: A Love Story

“Gene Logsdon remains as true–to–form in his fiction as he does in his non–fiction.… this book was maybe as valuable a read as any of his books, not for the instruction, but for scope and perspective on a life lived ‘tied down’ to a place.”

Mendocino Landscapes at Grace Hudson Museum

Curator, Grace Hudson Museum
November 21, 2009 – February 7, 2010

This exhibition presents the work of eight resident Mendocino County photographers who have had a long relationship with their subject. Each has found his or her unique vision of the area’s landscapes. The photographs span a wide range of processes and photographic heritage. Bill Brazill, frequently using a large format camera, creates film- based black and white images that are reminiscent of A. O. Carpenter’s documentary style. Robert Taylor works in the rich tradition of high contrast, modernist, black and white images, while Paul Kozal explores a softer approach reminiscent of California Pictorialism. Tom Liden, known for his bright color images, debuts enchanting sepia works featuring subtle patterns of light across quiet textured terrain. In the realm of color, Peter W. Stearns presents his lush views of rural panoramas. Rita Crane’s compositions offer detailed glimpses of poetic coastal and inland scenes. Jon Klein materializes masterful color visions of spectacular seascapes. Finally, Charlie Hochberg digitally captures the soft atmospheric moods of early morning in the inland valleys. All of the artists give caring, soulful renditions of what is through the viewfinder, their Mendocino landscapes.


Flattened! Final Monster Mall Results


We should all send appreciations to the DDR carpetbaggers and their Big Time, high-priced, out-of-county consultants for getting out the vote! It was a masterful job!

Every phone call, every mailing! Wow! They made every dollar, and every dumb decision count! Good job!!!

63% vs 37%! And 50% voted in an off-year election!

Break out the cheers and the cheescake!

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

Christian Science Monitor

Don’t start Lovely Bones unless you can finish it. The book begins with more horror than you could imagine, but closes with more beauty than you could hope for.

Still, there are reasons not to open this runaway bestseller. In the first chapter, 14-year-old Susie Salmon describes how she was enticed into a little cave by a neighbor on a snowy day. He stuffs her hat into her mouth. They both hear her mother calling her for dinner. He rapes her, cuts her throat, and then dismembers the body. It’s the most terrifying scene I’ve ever read.

For the next seven years, she describes how her family and friends – and even her murderer – cope with her absence. She’s in heaven, so she can see everything from up there. It sounds mawkish, like a ghastly version of “Beloved” for white suburbia, but Alice Sebold has done something miraculous here.

It’s no coincidence that the novel has been embraced during a period of high anxiety about child abductions – perhaps the only dread darker than our new fear of terrorism.

With her disarming wit and adolescent candor, Susie drags us behind those stories from Salt Lake City and Stanton, Calif., forcing us to consider the mechanics of rape and murder and grief in a way no news report ever could.

A few days after her death, Susie realizes that all the people she’s with now are experiencing their own versions of heaven, reflecting their simplest dreams and aspirations from earth.

“There were no teachers in the school,” she tells us about her paradise. “We never had to go inside except for art class for me and jazz for my roommate.

Sexual Attitudes In Agrarian Life

The Contrary Farmer

When a writer wants to sound astute, lofty words like agrarian come in handy. Nobody knows for sure what agrarian means. Makes what one says on the subject sound intelligent whether it really is or not. I use the word here to mean the whole farming and gardening way of life that wraps around the actual work of producing food. That would include, of course, sexual behavior. What follows is an excerpt from the Afterword of my recent (2007) book, The Mother of All Arts where I discuss, among other agrarian attitudes, whether people who farm and garden as a vital part of their lives look at human sexual behavior a little differently than people who don’t. Quote:

At one point in this book, I was moved to say—almost blurt out, if one can speak of writing as blurting—that all art is about sex. I made that statement in reaction to Mississippi John Hurt’s remark that all music was about human sexual relationships. [John Hurt was an early country blues singer and a real farmer whose music is now enjoying a resurgence among country music purists.]

The Final Word On Cell Phones

Front Porch Republic

In the early days of FPR, and then again more recently, I was impertinent enough to write disparaging remarks about cell phones, which as everyone knows are utterly pernicious. On both occasions interlocutors expressed their disapproval by espousing the publicly sanctioned predictable sentiment: that technology is neutral, that it is only our use of a given thing that renders it good or bad, right or wrong, boonful or baneful.

As any pine board knows, this is nonsense. It’s time for the correct opinion to be more widely disseminated.

Plato, if I remember aright, was worried about the perfidy a certain new technology—we would recognize it by the name “book”—would perpetrate on memory. He was vexed by what the transition from an aural to a written culture would do to our capacity to bear things in mind.

Now I like books — even Bill Kauffman’s — and I’m going to side with them. The book is a technology I’m going to defend. But I also happen to sympathize with Plato, who, I believe, was right: by writing things down we cheat the memory. I would go so far as to say that a written record resembles all technology

Book Review: Wimpy Kid Dog Days



Oh, poor Greg Heffley! Somehow, he must manage to endure his summer vacation. You see, Greg knows his parents expect him to be outside enjoying the warm weather during the “three-month guilt trip” as he calls it, but he despises the outdoors. He only wants to spend those 90 precious days inside and in front of the television with the blinds drawn and the lights turned off — all the better to play one video game after another.

Greg reflects on how the first part of the summer, when he actually did venture outside, was not exactly stellar. His best friend, Rowley, invited him to go to the local country club swimming pool with his family every day. The first mishap was asking a new neighbor girl to go with them and then watching her find romance with the lifeguard. Moving onward while musing about some people’s lack of loyalty, Greg felt free to kvetch about the service at the country club, griping whenever the waiter forgot to put an umbrella in his drinks. Eventually, Rowley informed Greg that he was no longer invited to go to the pool with his family.

However, Greg’s escapades at the country club pool pale beside his misadventures at the town pool.

Suzanne Somers speaks out against the conventional cancer industry: mammograms, chemotherapy vs. alternative cures

From Natural News

As the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Knockout: Interviews with doctors who are curing cancer,” Suzanne Somers is making waves across the cancer industry. Her powerful, inspired message of informed hope is reaching millions of readers who are learning about the many safe, effective options for treating cancer that exist outside the realm of the conventional cancer industry (chemotherapy, surgery and radiation).

Recently, Suzanne Somers spoke with NaturalNews editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, to share the inspiration for her new book Knockout. “People are just starving for some new information… for other options, for hope in [treating] cancer,” she explained.

The full interview with Suzanne Somers is available as a downloadable MP3 file from…

In it, Somers explains why she’s so concerned about the current course of the cancer industry:

Book Review: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Annoying Argument Against Eating Meat

Double X

Eating Animals

For weeks I’ve walked around debating Jonathan Safran Foer in my head, trying to put my finger on what it is that irritates me so deeply about his new book, Eating Animals [2]. Getting to the root of this animus has been particularly tough, because Eating Animals is an unwieldy hybrid of two different narratives—one I like very much, and one I find wrongheaded and staggeringly condescending.

So let’s start by disentangling the two. The central and admirable point of Eating Animals is to critique industrial agriculture and, as a case against factory farming, this book is both timely and stirring. Although Foer’s descriptions of agricultural atrocities may be familiar, he brings literary celebrity and a bracing moral urgency to the topic, arguing that our eating habits should reflect our ethics and that if we disapprove of filthy, overcrowded chicken factories, we should never buy another Perdue broiler. I agree.

But Foer does not stop there. Eating Animals is also a meditation—sometimes whimsical, sometimes strident, often personal—on animal husbandry and carnivory more generally. Here, Foer’s ignorance and biases are matched only by his arrogance.

Question #1: What if Al Gore’s Climate Change Conclusions Are Wrong?


I don’t trust Al Gore. He wrote Earth In The Balance, and then, after becoming Vice President, said and did nothing about the environment for eight long years. That doesn’t mean he is wrong. But now, working in his own investment firm, promoting the cap-and-trade scam, one must question motives and intent and be open to what other scientists are also saying before drawing one’s own personal conclusions and taking action…

Question #2: Who will make the Big Bucks from Climate Change?

Question #3: Who are the Climate Change Deniers?

Gore’s Guru Disagreed…

Calling him “a wonderful, visionary professor” who was “one of the first people in the academic community to sound the alarm on global warming,” Gore thought of Dr. Revelle as his mentor and referred to him frequently, relaying his experiences as a student in his book Earth in the Balance, published in 1992. Gore’s warmth for Dr. Revelle cooled, however, when it became clear that he had misunderstood his former professor: Although Dr. Revelle recognized potential harm from global warming, he also saw potential benefits and was by no means alarmed, as seen in this 1984 interview in Omni magazine:

The best current overview of peak oil, what it means, and what we should do

The Oil Drum

I decided to write another rather basic level article because there are so many people I meet who have heard a bit about the oil situation, and it is hard to point to one single article to give an overview of some of the current issues. Regular readers will find many repeats of graphs. There are some new ones, as well, from the Denver ASPO-USA conference. Because there is so much to tell, the story gets a little long.

We live in a finite world. It is clear that at some point, we will eventually start hitting limits—we won’t be able to extract as much oil, or we won’t be able to mine as much silver or platinum, or fresh-water aquifers that have built up over millions of years will run dry.

We are reaching limits in several areas, but the one I would like to talk about here is oil production. Oil is essential, because nearly all transportation depends on oil, and because a huge number of goods use oil in their manufacture (including textiles, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, asphalt, plastics, lubricating oils, and computers). Oil is also essential for our current agricultural system–growing food and transporting it to market.

Why people are concerned about a decline in oil production

Keep reading at The Oil Drum

See also Abiotic Oil

Debt, equity, and a third thing that might work better – Seth Godin


If your business needs money, it seems as though you have two choices:

  • Get a loan from a bank
  • Raise equity from an investor, giving up part of your company in exchange

Banks are everywhere, so the idea that they can loan us money seems obvious. And venture capitalists and the companies they fund are in the news all the time… and making a billion dollars sounds like fun.

Here’s the thing: for most businesses, most of the time, neither is a realistic option.

Banks aren’t in the business of taking risk. Which means that they make boring loans to boring companies for boring purposes. They do everything they can to be riskless. Which means you need to guarantee the loan with your house or with assets worth far more than the loan. Which means that a good idea is not a sufficiently good reason for a loan.

And equity? Well there are two problems. The first is that the number of investments that professional VCs can make is microscopically small compared to the number of businesses that want them. Go to Seth’s Blog for article

The Fate of Cesar Chavez’s Dream


[Having worked for Cesar Chavez from 1968 – 1972, I am saddened by the ineffectiveness of the union in subsequent years. -DS]

In the midst of a searing heat wave in the summer of 2005, three Mexican-born California farmworkers succumbed to the relentless sun within a few weeks of each other. Outraged local community groups, some with roots in but no longer affiliated with the legendary United Farm Workers union, organized a protest march and rally in the gritty town of Arvin, in California’s Central Valley.

At the last minute, a delegation from the UFW more or less commandeered the event from the original organizers. I was there reporting on the conditions in California’s fields (for a piece that would be published few weeks later in the L.A. Weekly) when I saw the UFW arrive. Accompanied by a caravan of shiny vans, with a high-tech mobile broadcast unit along from one of the union-run radio stations, UFW members in trademark red-and-black T-shirts disembarked from a couple of buses and joined the crowd assembled in a church patio.

The contrast couldn’t have been more stark.

Mendo Island Transition – New Grain-Share Project

Mendo Island Transition

A Grain-Share for Mendocino County

What’s a Grain-Share?

• A community-supported way of producing grain locally
• Members buy a share in the annual grain harvest and receive a portion of the grains produced
• Member shares support the cost of growing, harvesting and distributing the grain
• Members share with the farmers the risk of poor or failed crops

How Will It Work?

• The farmers will prepare the fields, care for the soil, plant and harvest the crops, and distribute the grain shares to members
• Each member of the grain-share will buy one or more shares of the harvest in exchange for 100-120 pounds of grains. We anticipate that each share will cost $150-$200.
• Members will receive periodic updates on progress of the crops, expected harvest times, plans for distributing the grain shares, and suggestions for storing and using the grains.

Drawing Marathon Saturday 11/14/09 – Art Center Ukiah

Artists will work from 10 am Saturday till they just can’t go on! Public is invited to drop in any time during the marathon to cheer and support the artists while they work. View the drawing, painting, quilting, collage and more in progress.

Participating Artists

William Bacon ~ Oolah Boudreau-Taylor ~ Lisa Bregger ~ Josh Christensen ~ Tania Evans ~ Laura Fogg ~ Tom Johnson ~ Sandy Marshall ~ Nancy Horowitz ~ Elizabeth Raybee ~ Esther Siegel ~ Eva Strauss-Rosen ~ and more


Why The Economic Markets Imploded – John Perkins on Democracy Now

Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: John Perkins calls himself a former economic hit man. He has seen the signs of today’s financial meltdown before. The subprime mortgage fiasco, the collapse of the banking industry, the rising unemployment rate—these are all familiar to him.

Perkins was on the front lines of monitoring and helping create these very events that were once just confined to the third world. From ’71 to 1981, he worked for the international consulting firm Chas T. Main, where he was a self-described “economic hit man.” It was based in Boston.

He’s the author of the New York Times bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire. Well, he’s out with a new book. It’s called Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded—and What We Need to Do to Remake Them.

He joins me here in the firehouse studio.

Bozos on the Couch – What is ‘Good Therapy’ in a Time of Collapse?

Via Energy Bulletin

I read Sally Erickson’s post [The Culture of Pretend] and as a clinical psychologist, I gotta tell you, I found it sort of depressing. It wasn’t her criticism of psychotherapy. I understand her point about psychotherapy not healing a sick culture. James Hillman made the same point in “One Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and The World’s Getting Worse.” But golly, if we’re here anyway, shouldn’t we have some role as Peak Shrinks while the world as we know it collapses around us?

Psychotherapy wasn’t designed to heal a sick society, but proponents of psychotherapy have been calling our world a sick culture for quite a while. Harry Stacks Sullivan complained bitterly about it, when he was launching his own psychiatric practice during the Great Depression. The theory he developed talked a lot about the importance of honest, emotionally-connected relationships, and the lack of them in his time.

Therapists with a clear macro-view of the world realize that to be minimally effective, they are going to have to leave the therapy room and actually attempt to heal and repair the world, just as Sally has tried to do in her movie. But let’s talk about what relevant therapy is going to look like in the future.

I run a site, Peak Oil Blues, which is devoted to helping people face an energy-depleted future, full of climate change and a collapsing economy.