When Art and Farming Fuse

From Poets.org

[In this lovely piece of poetic review about farming and place, Wendell Berry reveals deep character among three men. Last week, on their final Farm and Garden Show, Tim Bates and Dan Imhoff, Anderson Valley, interviewed Wendell Berry on KZYX here (mp3). Thanks to Tom Davenport, Redwood Valley, who recorded it. Tom writes: “The broadcast recording ends while Wendell Berry is speaking – the recording was made automatically by a computer while I was away from home, and was programmed to run 2 minutes past the hour.  I do not know how much was missed.  Apparently the program ‘ran over’ by more than two minutes. Please feel free to pass this on to those you believe might enjoy it.” -DS]

On Hayden Carruth: A Friendship in Poetry

When I was in college and had become certain that Anonymous was not the name of a prolific medieval poet, I began to read the “little magazines” to try to learn about the poetry of my own time. That was in the early fifties. And so I must have known the name Hayden Carruth for a good many years of such scattered reading before it meant much to me.

It began to mean much to me in May of 1964. My family and I had been living as neighbors to Denise Levertov and Mitchell Goodman on Greenwich Street in New York City. Denise and Mitch had bought an old farm in Temple, Maine, where they spent their summers. They invited us to come up for a visit, and in that May we did so.

Wanting Less

Ursula K. Le Guin

When the world’s on the Way,
they use horses to haul manure.
When the world gets off the Way,
they breed warhorses on the common.

The greatest evil: wanting more.
The worst luck: discontent.
Greed’s the curse of life.

To know enough’s enough
is enough to know.
Image Credit: Rolf Hicker
See also Muddling Toward Frugality
by Warren Johnson, Covelo

Move Your Money Local (Updated)


A month ago, in More Gang-Bang For Your Buck, we suggested the following: “Time to move your money out of the big national banks that are “too big to fail” and let them fail… and put your money into local and regional credit unions and banks that did not get caught up in the disastrous lending greed, or who practice criminal usury. Locally- and regionally-based financial institutions are more responsive to local communities. And with locally-owned businesses, do them a favor by using cash, checks, and local currencies instead of debit and credit plastic.”

Now comes a grassroots movement to do just that. See their video, action items, updates, and comments here

[Update: On that site you will find a listing of banks that have a rating of B and above. However, if a community banking institution has been hurt, through no fault of their own, by the machinations and greed of Wall Street and the national banks, they need our support to pull through this national tragedy.]
See also WATCH: Woman Documents Closing Her Account With BofA, Switching To Community Bank at HuffPost here

Save Us President Daddy, Please

From digby
Thanks to Janie

Please just shoot me now. The media has gone insane. Suzanne Malveaux just asked Candy Crowley how the voters in 2010 are going to rank the president’s response to this failed terror attempt. It’s a stupid question, but the answer really takes the cake:

Candy Crowley: I think the fact that we have seen him for two days in a row is the White House recognizing that this is perhaps more important — the safety of the American people —than jobs at this point. It wouldn’t take much to rev up security moms who were so important in 2000 and 2004. So I think what voters judge is, sort of, the record. So it won’t be today, but then what did he do? How safe did he keep us?

That’s ridiculous. Did Candy wake up this morning and think it was 2003? The plane didn’t go down. Nobody died. The perpetrator is some young, screwed up loser who tried to set his pants on fire. The only “security mom” who cares more about that than the fact that she doesn’t have a job is a well paid television celebrity.

The press loves the boogeyman story because it makes them feel like crusaders for freedom and allows them to make common cause with macho right wingers. It’s far more exciting than dull stories about losers who don’t have jobs — you can see the exhilaration coming off of them in waves. They love it.

Case in point, Chris Matthews, who is ready to force everyone to be cavity searched in the ticket line:

Local Mendocino Slow Money


Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow. –Jane Jacobs from “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”

One of the features of BerkShares [and Mendo Moola], the local currency circulating in the Southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts, is that it fosters this wealth of sidewalk contacts (www.berkshares.org).

Use of BerkShares, a paper currency, requires face to face economic exchange. The citizen/buyer must meet the merchant/owner and enter into conversation about the item purchased. In the course of these multiple transactions an understanding begins to grow of the nature of the business, how it fits in the streetscape of the town, the working conditions of its employees, availability of locally made goods, the impact of new regulations, the necessity to respond to the changing tastes of consumers, the hurdles to prosperity, the many roles the merchant plays in the community as volunteer ambulance squad member, school board official, community theater player.

When purchasing directly from a producer with BerkShares the information shared may be even more deeply sourced in the local landscape. You may learn how to detect the first signs of a blighted maple tree plaguing the maple syrup industry, or learn how heavy spring rains kept bees from pollinating the apples blossoms, resulting in fewer apples to market.

BerkShares are a “slow money” to borrow a term coined by Woody Tasch. It takes more time to process a transaction, time for graciousness, time for building connection with community of place.

“Inconvenient,” some will say. Yes, when compared to the hastiness and anonymity of an internet purchase. But rich with information needed for conducting public life. A democracy only thrives when its citizens are informed and engaged by public issues.

Where’s the Clean Energy?

The Nation

[This article appeared in the December 7, 2009 edition of The Nation. I shortened this article somewhat as much of it didn’t apply locally to Mendocino County. ~Michael Laybourn]

It was in Germany that Ed Regan realized Gainesville, Florida, was going about things all wrong. The assistant manager at Gainesville Regional Utility (GRU) was out looking for ways to boost his city’s renewable energy capacity. “Germany was a game-changer,” Regan says. Wind turbines and solar panels seemed to be everywhere. He soon learned the secret.

Before Regan’s June 2008 trip, the GRU was trying to promote small-scale renewable energy generation by offering hefty cash rebates to customers who installed solar photovoltaic panels. And it had a “net metering program” that allowed customers who generate their own power to run their electricity meters backward, thereby cutting their electric bills potentially to zero.

But the programs weren’t attracting a great deal of interest. The utility’s rebate program had yielded only 300 kilowatts of solar power capacity–roughly the amount of electricity used by 160 hair dryers–and it cost a lot of money. The difference between Gainesville and Germany was that Germany had a national feed-in tariff. Under this system, energy consumers can become renewable energy producers by installing solar panels on their roof or a wind turbine in their backyard and selling their energy to the local utility. These customers-turned-producers receive above-market prices for their energy, often for up to twenty years. With the feed-in tariff, Germany boosted its renewable energy production from 1 percent of its total output in 1995 to 12 percent in 2005. By 2007 renewables supplied 14 percent of Germany’s electricity. Denmark and Spain also have successful feed-in tariff programs.

So this past March, Gainesville rolled out its own feed-in tariff. GRU now pays twice the retail cost for every kilowatt of solar power-generated electricity. The extra cost means a small increase in electrical bills for all utility consumers, less than a dollar per month per household.

Global Warming – Fact or Fiction?

Redwood Valley

The threat of Global Warming has become accepted wisdom in America. Between the Al Gore book and film, the pictures of polar bears leaping amongst ice flows, and snippets of data about melting glaciers and how warm it has become recently, we have become captives of this calamitous scenario. In this essay, I have tried to separate fact from forecast, to examine actual climate history rather than computer generated projections of The Cataclysm That Awaits Us from Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Is Planet Earth really heating up inexorably? Is it because of CO 2 emissions from fossil-fueled power stations? I will lay out a few of the key questions and cite the evidence that exists. You can decide for yourself where reality lies, but first look at some of the data and arguments that question Big Al’s simplistic forecast of a warm and watery doom if we don’t change our ways right now. I hold no brief for dirty coal fired power production, and I believe that moving towards renewable power sources away from gasoline guzzling cars makes good sense. My home is fully solar powered and I’ll purchase an all-electric car in 2010.

I first became wary of ‘made-up’ climate data some years ago, while managing a large irrigation project in Algeria, We lacked sufficient meteorologic data to predict rainfall patterns and thus available water for irrigated agriculture. We were forced to ‘fill-in’ large gaps in the historic rainfall data where trees had grown over rain gauges, or where the French had inadvertently burned a valuable meteorologic station while napalming miserably poor villages in the Atlas Mountains. I was reminded of this when I began to read of the paucity of reliable information on global temperatures before the advent of satellites in 1975, and the very spurious simulating of past surface temperatures by counting petrified tree rings, by drilling ice cores and the like. We are unable to track carbon dioxide levels very far back in time, but we do know that much of Greenland’s shoreline was very warm and green in 1400 and supported herds of cattle. I have found that much of the current UN-sponsored research relies upon computer simulation to fill in their model of the environment.

The Big Lie of Mass Consumption


In his 1925 autobiography, Mein Kampf, Hitler coins the term “the big lie,” which refers to a form of propaganda that pivots on telling a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” A “certain force of credibility” runs through this big lie so people will find it easy to accept. Of course, in accusing an entire people of this falsehood, he was employing the very technique that he was describing, and would continue to do so toward the most monstrous ends.

But don’t think for a moment that any of us are safe from the machinery of “the big lie” today. This enduring, insidious force is very much alive, woven into the very roots of our society.

In our times, governments and corporations still heavily employ “the big lie” psychology with enormous success, their minions none the wiser. In fact, just about all the foundational aspects of our culture can be traced back to one of their big lies: they have convinced us of what to consume, what to put on and in our bodies, what to expect of our health, and what to expect out of life. We accept this way of life because we believe it is correct and created for our highest good, or at least the best that we can expect, given humankind’s extensive shortcomings and iniquitous wiring (which we also accept).

The biggest lie is that it’s all okay—that while our culture may not be perfect, it is the best way of life imaginable thus far, and if we just keep following this trajectory, we’ll eventually make things even better. That is THE BIGGEST LIE!

One BIG TRUTH is that we are consuming our planet at warp speed and we are very close to the point (if we’re not already there) where we cannot save it.

Mendocino County: 18th Annual Professional Pianist Concert 1/9 and 1/10


[This is one of the great reasons for living here. Don’t miss it! -DS]

For 18 years, local keyboard artists have put together sellout concerts benefiting local schools or foundations. In January, there will be two performances in Ukiah at the Mendocino College Center Theatre (1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah): Saturday, January 9 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, January 10 at 2 p.m.

By popular demand, the concert will feature all the pianists on stage throughout the concert! These popular musicians will be trading stories and songs with two pianos on stage to accommodate impromptu collaborations. Performances will feature: Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Tom Ganoung, John Gilmore, Chris James and Elizabeth MacDougall. This concert is an annual sellout because of the diversity and quality of all involved. The musical selections range from classical to jazz, boogie woogie to Cuban and many more.

Sponsors of this concert are: Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Spare Time Supply, Ukiah Music Center, KWNE 94.5, KZYX & Z  and Sol Dial Sound. There will be concessions available. The concerts benefit the Ukiah Educational Foundation, Music for Youth Program and the Allegro Scholarship Program. There will be autographed CD’s and cassettes by the artists for sale in lobby. Refreshments will be provided by Ukiah Civic Light Opera. Tickets: $10/students and seniors; $15 general and $25 “I ‘Wanna’ See the Hands” limited seating. For more information call (707) 468-8910. Tickets are on sale at Mendocino Book Co., Ukiah Music Center, Watershed Books in Lakeport, Leaves of Grass in Willits and online at ukiahmusic.com.

The Slow Money Principles

From SlowMoneyAlliance.org
Thanks to numerous suggestions

In order to enhance food security, food safety and food access; improve nutrition and health; promote cultural, ecological and economic diversity; and accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration, we do hereby affirm the following Principles:

I. We must bring money back down to earth.

II. There is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex. Therefore, we must slow our money down — not all of it, of course, but enough to matter.

III. The 20th Century was the era of Buy Low/Sell High and Wealth Now/Philanthropy Later—what one venture capitalist called “the largest legal accumulation of wealth in history.” The 21st Century will be the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place and non-violence.

IV. We must learn to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered. We must connect investors to the places where they live, creating vital relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises.

V. Let us celebrate the new generation of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors who are showing the way from Making A Killing to Making a Living.

VI. Paul Newman said, “I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” Recognizing the wisdom of these words, let us begin rebuilding our economy from the ground up, asking:

* What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?
* What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits?
* What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

Sign the Slow Money Principles here
See also The “Slow Money” Movement May Revolutionize the Way You Think About Food

Recommended Books on Politics

The Spirit of 676 Blog
Anderson Valley

History is important, as are the stories we tell ourselves. Lately, we’ve been failing on both fronts: remiss in understanding our own recent history, while swinish ideologues narrowly frame our stories in false and misleading ways. These are depressing times.

But I believe/hope/pray the darkest days of this cycle have passed, and it is now imperative that we educate ourselves, so that facts might inform our stories, about where we’ve been and where we’re going. Toward that end, I’d like to recommend some reading…

Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture
by Thom Hartmann, July 2009
I’m listing this book first for a couple reasons: it’s the most recent, and it does a fine job pulling together the many and disparate threads of this subject in a concise and accessible manner. It’s not a perfect work, but if you read only one book on this list, there is a good argument for this being the one.
Moyers on Democracy
by Bill Moyers, May 2008
Soaring and inspired collection of speeches given over the past 30 years, all around the topic of American democracy. Drawing upon his considerable experience in both politics and journalism, Moyers has much to offer.
The Conscience of a Liberal
by Paul Krugman, October 2007
A well-written history on the rise and fall of that great American phenomenon of the twentieth century, the middle class. Roughly spans FDR to GWB, thus providing a good grounding in the recent history of our collective economic fortunes (or lack thereof).

Yes, I still display my Obama For President sticker

From Talking Points Memo
Thanks to Janie

[President Obama is not the King. He is not a Dictator. The structure of government in the United States is laid out in the Constitution. The Constitution describes three co-equal branches of government:  The national, or federal, legislature is called the “Congress.” It is made up of elected officials from each state. These officials are responsible for enacting the laws. The executive branch, headed by the President, is responsible for running the government and enforcing the laws that Congress enacts. The Judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the laws and settling formal disputes between people or between people and the government. Although I am a disappointed progressive, I am willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt until the next election. OMG, do you remember the previous one? That is why I still display a Obama For President sticker on my car. -DS]

In a remarkable bit of good timing, I’ve been re-reading Shelby Foote’s history of the Civil War, in particular his first volume (covering 1861-1862). It provides some much-needed perspective on the current situation with health care reform.

Like President Obama, President Lincoln was seen by many of his supporters as something of a disappointment once in office. This was largely due to the number and types of compromises he needed to make, most notably with the institution of slavery. In his first inaugural address, Lincoln came out and said that he was not bound and determined to end slavery, that the President does not in any case have the power to unilaterally change the law of the land, and that his first priority was the preservation of the Union, even if the price of that preservation was to accept the continuation of slavery. During the war, when pressed by a group of ministers about why he had not more forcefully worked to end slavery, he reiterated that his overriding priority was to preserve the Union, and added that there were four slave states which had stayed loyal and which were currently contributing 50,000 soldiers to the war effort; these, he pointed out, were states and soldiers which he could not afford to lose in a dispute over slavery.


Mendocino County

A few years ago, I was associated with the Ukiah Community Center and had a reason to write an essay explaining the complexity of homeless issues. I’ve been bringing it up to date and intended to blog it shortly. It is filled with negative comments about community involvement in the causes of homelessness and behavior toward those so trapped, very often through no fault of their own. This is related to our community’s contributions to a long list of other issues in unhealthy, unhealing, ways. I’m thinking of our wasting culture: we throw away packaging, wrapping, cans, and bottles, our children, our elderly, our health, the frogs, song birds, polar bears, and blue whales, the oceans, the Earth with hardly a notice ….. who cares?  I like to leave every essay on a positive helpful note, but could find none here. This situation left me very dissatisfied, depressed.

Then, the other night, I had a dream. The setting was a large playing court, open to the sky and with high stone walls. I and my opponent were on opposite ends. The apparent rules were that one would serve the ball and the other would attempt to return it by hitting it with one of their hands before it hit the ground or wall. The ball was about the size of a softball and black. The first serve to me was over my head. Though I jumped high, not high enough. The second serve was almost straight up and was coming down directly at my head. I stepped aside and waited for it to fall to me before hitting it, and again missed. At this point, an older man, maybe my coach, stopped the game and came out to discuss the situation with me – at which point I awoke. As I did so, I was greeted with a buzzing in my chest, which those of you who know about chakras are familiar with.

Most of my dreams have the character of theater, absorbing but not worth remembering. However, a few have carried important messages. This seemed to be one such. My usual response is to later write the dream down and immediately notice the feelings generated. My feeling was that my opponent was the world, that is the human-related world filled with one catastrophe after another. It was tossing balls at me and I was not successfully fielding them. I then spent an hour wondering why so and how I might do better, how I might return each ball of the many coming my way.

Book Review: Look At The Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut


Occasionally from the nation’s cultural attic come rare finds—last touches of genius brought to light—like this wondrous new collection of vintage Kurt Vonnegut short stories. “Look at the Birdie” includes 14 previously unpublished short stories that were written in the years just following World War II, when Vonnegut was back home after witnessing the firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war.

The stories are accompanied by Vonnegut’s own whimsical line drawings, and introduced by Vonnegut’s longtime tennis partner, best friend and literary man about New York, Sidney Offit, who is involved now in compiling a future Library of America Vonnegut volume. In the 1950s and early ’60s, Offit notes, Vonnegut had a growing family to support and published regularly in The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, Argosy. “Hemingway! Fitzgerald! Faulkner! Steinbeck! Vonnegut!” Offit writes. “Their literary legacies survived the demise of so many of the magazines that provided them with generous fees, per word or per line, and introduced them to hundreds of thousands, even millions of readers.”

Why were these stories, with their lean language and supercharged imaginative range, unpublished? Offit speculates they were probably never submitted, as Vonnegut was always revising. “He was a master craftsman, demanding of himself perfection of the story, the sentence, the word. I remember the rolled up balls of paper in the wastebaskets of his workrooms in Bridgehampton and on East Forty-eighth Street.”

By midcentury, when he was writing these stories, Vonnegut was just beginning to publish. In 1950 he sold his first short story, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” to Knox Burger, then fiction editor at Collier’s, for $750—six weeks’ pay at the PR job he had at GE.

The Underlying Causes of Cancer and How To Treat It Without Chemo

From CancerFightingStrategies.com

[A customer came in recently and told me what he and his wife were doing to fight her cancer without chemotherapy, and that she was already “70% healed… not in remission. Healed!” He said that the best on-line resource for those wanting to educate themselves about cancer was this one: CancerFightingStrategies.com. Here are some excerpts from that site… -DS]

Cancerous cells are always being created in the body. It’s an ongoing process that has gone on for eons. Consequently, there are parts of your immune system designed to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Cancer has been around as long as mankind, but only in the second half of the 20th century did the number of cancer cases explode. Contributing to this explosion are the excessive amounts of toxins and pollutants we are exposed to, high stress lifestyles that zap the immune system, poor quality junk food that’s full of pesticides, irradiated and now genetically modified, pathogens, electromagnetic stress, lights, and just about everything that wasn’t here 200 years ago.

All these weaken the immune system, and alter the internal environment in the body to an environment that promotes the growth of cancer.

Cancer is not a mysterious disease that suddenly attacks you out of the blue, something that you can’t do anything about. It has definite causes that you can correct if your body has enough time, and if you take action to change the internal environment to one that creates health, not cancer, while at the same time attacking cancerous cells and tumors by exploiting their weaknesses.

Cancer tumors begin when more cancerous cells are being created than an overworked, depleted immune system can destroy.

The Cult of Individualism and the Desolation of the Earth

How To Save The World

My friend Paul Heft sent around Derrick Jensen’s article on the need to bring down the industrial systems that are destroying our planet, and my article in response, A Serious Resistance, which argued:

It is time for us to mount a serious resistance. It is time for us to tell the world, starting within our own communities, relentlessly, unapologetically, furiously, that the industrial growth economy that is killing our world must stop — now. It is time for us to start to take back our world from the thugs whose reign of industrial, imperial, colonial terror across the globe has begun the sixth great extinction on our planet, one that is desolating the world, bringing about massive and inevitable economic, energy and ecological collapse.

In this serious resistance, we must each pick our own role, yet work in concert and collaboration with our fellow resisters. We must draft others into the resistance movement, and we must do more than just talk about how bad things are, or how we might get the regime to mitigate its horrors. We must choose and commit ourselves to real measures of the defeat of the regime and the undermining and collapse of the industrial growth systems — economic, political, social, educational, technological, and media. Derrick has listed his measures. Mine include the complete stoppage of the Alberta Tar Sands and the industrial agriculture system, especially factory farming (”confined animal farming operations — CAFO”).

One of the recipient of Paul’s note was our mutual friend Nelda Martinez, who responded with this extraordinary letter:

I have read both Jensen’s and Dave’s pieces, and while I agree that the steps they outline are necessary, they remain insufficient – there is a piece missing, and I think I know what it is.

Full article and comments here

And The Rest Is Just Noise

The New Republic

Why the health care bill is the greatest social achievement of our time

American liberals have a habit of withdrawing into cynicism and ennui at the most inopportune moments. The 2000 presidential election, and subsequent recount, was one such moment. The most die-hard reaches of the left, deeming the Democratic Party hopelessly corrupt, rallied to Ralph Nader’s fulsome populist denunciation of Al Gore’s subservience to the corporate agenda. Among more moderate quarters, an attitude of wry detachment prevailed. (“G.O.P.-lite, Democrat-lite,” sighed Frank Rich, “For the 95 percent of the country unwilling to go for Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan, that is the choice, it always has been the choice, and it will still be the choice on Nov. 7.”) Those liberals who did see something large at stake took on an almost apologetic tone, conceding the lack of any inspired positive choice and focusing instead on the dangers of Bush.

The right, meanwhile, was engulfed in passion that occasionally flared into rage. Mobs of chanting conservatives harassed Gore at his residence day after day. Another such mob intimidated Miami canvassers into abandoning a recount then seen as potentially decisive. The left met all this with a shrug.

The denouement of the health care debate has brought about a similar moment in the political culture. The opponents of the bill are full of passionate intensity. The right, of course, is subsumed in rage and paranoia. Conservatives have been joined by fiery liberals like Howard Dean and a slew of left-wing blogs, denouncing the bill as a corporate giveaway and urging its defeat. The attitude closer to the center is more resignation and disappointment. (Frank Rich again: “Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger [Woods]’s public image.”) The endorsements invariably have a defensive tone—the bill “has some imperfections but is worthy of support,” concludes a New York Times editorial.

Go to complete article here

The Paradise Imperative


Humans must create paradise or they cannot live on the planet Earth. Paradise here is described as a human community that lives in perpetuity and in peace on one place on the earth, over many generations. In the modern view, generated from the Alternative Culture and Cultural Creatives, we have a permaculture design in a valley that has been ecologically restored and has added additional trees in different ecological niches to create a food forest of fruits and nuts. Under the forest canopy are tall bushes also of fruit and nuts. Under this, the lower berry bushes and vining plants grow. Lower, are the forbs: perennial vegetable plants that grow year after year and require no disruption of the soil community. Below this are the perennial tuber plants and also down in the soil are the edible mushrooms. This is a perpetual food design that will produce more food per acre than the industrial agricultural system, without digging, disrupting and damaging the thousands of species of the soil community, and at the same time, continually building soil fertility and preventing soil erosion.

Next, we add hand made housing of straw-bale, adobe, log, rammed earth, or other local material, along with attached solar green houses according to many successful contemporary designs. The humans, of course, maintain a stable population and live with a stable biological unit.

Then we add a new human culture based on aiding the life force rather than its consumption and destruction.

Paradise is obviously not a new idea. Richard Heinberg in his book Memories and Visions of Paradise says, “ We are faced with some extraordinary facts. In virtually every culture on Earth we encounter a myth telling how humankind originated in a time of peace, happiness, and miraculous power and, because of some mistake or failure, degenerated to its present condition. Moreover, nearly every tribe and nation reveres the sayings of some ancient prophet who foretold the corrupt human world will one day be consumed in a purifying cataclysm to make way for a renewed Golden Age.

Action Now!! What Happened to the Recommendations of the Mendocino County Energy Working Group?


[It has been over two years now that a few of our extremely knowledgeable local citizens made recommendations for solarizing our county. What could be more important than securing the energy future of our citizens? Yet this comprehensive report has been filed away in some metal cabinet and ignored, along with a report put together by Ike Heinz to capture methane from our dump. A new courthouse? A multi-hundred-million dollar freakin’ courthouse? You’ve got to be kidding! -DS]

Energy Usage and its Impact on Mendocino County Including General Plan Recommendations Prepared for the Mendocino County Planning Department by the Mendocino County Energy Working Group

The Energy Working Group (EWG) is a group of Mendocino County citizens brought together (under direction of the Board of Supervisors) to provide guidance for the General Plan update. Each member of the EWG group represents some aspect of the greater county and brings various aspects of energy expertise, ranging from renewable energy, engineering, and government.

The volunteer group worked under the guidance of (and with special thanks to) Patrick Ford of the Mendocino County Planning Team.

This paper is a working document that is intended to present the results of the EWG’s county-wide energy and emissions inventory and to outline recommendations for the General Plan update and general policy. Where possible, the pertinent narrations appear in the main body of the document while the details are relegated to the appendices. In creating this paper, every measure has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information presented as well as the feasibility of the steps. Should errors or questions arise, we would appreciate them being brought to our attention so that they can be corrected or elaborated on.

Copenhagen Accord Notes

Redwood Valley

1) The United States is committed to implement qualified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020 to be submitted to the United Nations by January 31, 2010.

2) The U.S. Senate will be under the gun to pass their Cap & Trade, Energy & Jobs bill (S1733 or another similar bill) prior to January 31, 2010 to be in compliance with this Accord.

3) The current bill before the U.S. Senate will not reduce any pollution emissions until 2017 and then only a 17% reduction of 2005 identified greenhouse gas emissions (water vapor, a greenhouse gas, is excluded from this legislation). Thus, no action is planned by the Copenhagen Accord or the United States in reducing any greenhouse gases until 2017 or 2020.

4) The EPA, without any passage of legislation and under authority from a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, is now on track to immediately begin to reduce all pollution from every greenhouse gas source. Without interference from Congress or the White House compliance with the Accord will begin in 2010, and could put the United States in the lead in taking immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. The EPA model could set and example for the entire world and the United States would be immediately demonstrating its commitment to protecting the environment.

5) The Accord is weak in that no implementation of greenhouse gas reductions is to take place until 2020.

6) The Accord will use various approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions “…including opportunities to use markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote mitigation actions…” This means that (S1733) a Cap & Trade System will be used in lieu of actual immediate reductions to allow polluters to “Buy & Sell the “Right to Pollute” between 2010 and 2017 or 2020. No pollution reduction will take place until either of these target dates.

A New Chapter Unfolding in the Great Debate Over Feeding the World

The Organic Center

Three times before lunch on most days I encounter another dose of pro-biotech, anti-organic hogwash inspired directly or indirectly by the multiple global PR campaigns now underway in an attempt to re-position public attitudes about genetically engineered crops.  The messages are always some variation on three themes  —

  • Population growth is eroding global food security and only high-yield, GE crops and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) can spare the remaining forests and wild lands from despoliation and rescue the world from famine and environmental catastrophe.
  • Organic farming is backward and elitist and not productive enough to make a meaningful contribution to bridging the gap between global food supplies and food needs.
  • Only conventional agriculture, and in particular the biotech-seed-pesticide industry, is committed to exploit science and technology in the effort to increase food production and promote global food security.

Left unchallenged, more and more people will come to accept these assertions as reasonably accurate reflections of reality.

During my trip to Europe earlier this month, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of arguments encountered wherever debate flared up over the relative contributions of biotechnology and organic farming to global food security.  My sense is that both sides are well represented in the debate, dug in, and likely to hold their own for the foreseeable future.

Here in North America the general public, government agencies, scientists, farmers, and thought leaders are not engaged in this debate to the degree their counterparts in Europe are.  As a result, contemporary “discussions” of how to promote global food security are closer to diatribe than debate in the United States.

High-yield agriculture, as practiced in the industrialized nations, evolved over five decades with the benefit of, and in order to exploit the profit potential inherent in yield-enhancing inputs manufactured with relatively cheap energy.  The era of cheap energy is coming to an end. 

The Difference the Bill Makes

The Daily Dish

Jon Cohn gets down to specifics:

A family making $50,000 will have to make serious sacrifices to find $10,000 [the amount you’re likely to spend for an insurance policy under the new law]. But it’s better–light years better–than finding $25,000 or more [the amount you’d have to find without the new law]. It’s potentially the difference between having to give up your home, get an extra job or declare bankruptcy. Just knowing the bills that could come will be the difference between getting care you need–and skipping it, at grave risk to your health.

I keep waiting for this obvious fact to sink in. What Obama has done is force the existing system to insure 30 million more people at a modest cost, and to include a swathe of (still-insufficient) varieties and strategies of cost-control. This is huge – the biggest first year achievement of any president since Reagan. If you consider that he did this while also managing the steepest down-turn in decades, revamping America’s image in the world, preventing a banking implosion, and prosecuting two unresolved wars in the face of almost deranged opposition, it’s pretty damn impressive.

This seems clearer to me after a break from the Intertubes. Maybe others will feel the same way after the holidays.

Solar for Ukiah and Mendocino County (Update)


FITs( feed in tariffs, REPs(renewable energy payment) & So Forth…
Or, How to Create Jobs So We Can Operate Our Own City and County Energy

Another update on providing solar/renewable energy for Ukiah and possibly even Mendocino County:
When we left this last April Gainesville Florida had become the first US city to try the feed in tariff system to jump-start the solarization of that city…

From an article in the Alliance for Renewable Energy website:

March 08, 2009
Gainesville Solar REPs Program Meets Target Before Launch

On March 1, Gainesville, FL officially became the first city in the U.S. with a solar REPs law. Utilities in the city are required to purchase solar energy from registered producers for $0.32 per kilowatt hour through 2010. This 2009 tariff rate will be adjusted over time but program profits are guaranteed for 20 years. At the commencement of the program, Gainesville now sees an influx of completed applications to request connection to the electricity grid that would sum up to a total of 4MW of generated solar energy, which is the first-year target of the program.

GRU modeled the their gross feed in tariff program on similar strategies that have been successful in European countries such as Germany. Under the program, the utility will buy all of the electricity produced by registered solar power systems at an initial fixed rate of USD $0.32 per kilowatt hour. The program offers guaranteed payments for 20 years. GRU’s experience has by no means been an isolated case, demonstrating the incredible popularity of gross solar feed-in tariff programs and their potential to rapidly increase the uptake of renewable energy in any country by home owners and businesses. Ontario, Canada’s feed in tariff program experienced a similar response where a 10 year target of 1,000 megawatts was reached within a year.

12 Things You Can Do To Make The World A Better Place

How To Save The World Blog

[Repost: Nested within a longer post, Four World Changing Questions (well worth the read), is an update on this Pollard classic. -DS]

Knowing and Learning:

1. Understand What’s Happening: Before you can engage others and act purposefully and effectively you need to understand how the world really works (not what they tell you in school or in the media about how it works). The world is complex, and understanding and embracing complexity is a challenge to our culture’s predilection for oversimplification and dichotomy.

2. Imagine What’s Possible: Next, you need to be able to imagine a better world, one that is not addicted to growth and consumption. If you can’t imagine it, you will never be able to decide how to achieve it.

3. Be Pragmatic and Realistic: There are many things you can do, and many wonderful-sounding but unenforced, unenforceable and/or ineffective regulations and actions, so you need to learn what actions actually work. This takes a lot of time and energy, and to do it you need to stop doing some other things you are doing that are distracting you from learning these important truths.

4. Know Yourself: Then, to assess what you can do about all this, you need to know yourself, which means giving yourself the time and space to discover who you really are, what your true gifts, passions and purpose are, and therefore what you’re meant to do.

5. Build Personal Capacity: And finally, once you’ve learned all this, you need to discover and acquire the additional capacities you need to be effective at bringing about change in the world. This doesn’t entail changing yourself to be what you’re not, but just learning some new skills and abilities that will equip you to accomplish more with less effort.

The Theory of Anyway

The Chatelaine’s Keys
Thanks to Dave Pollard

My friend Pat Meadows, a very, very smart woman, has a wonderful idea she calls “The Theory of Anyway.” What it entails is this – she argues that 95% of what is needed to resolve the coming crisis in energy depletion, or climate change, or whatever is what we should do anyway, and when in doubt about how to change, we should change our lives to reflect what we should be doing “Anyway.” Living more simply, more frugally, using less, leaving reserves for others, reconnecting with our food and our community, these are things we should be doing because they are the right thing to do on many levels. That they also have the potential to save our lives is merely a side benefit (a big one, though).

This is, I think, a deeply powerful way of thinking because it is a deeply moral way of thinking – we would like to think of ourselves as moral people, but we tend to think of moral questions as the obvious ones “should I steal or pay?” “Should I hit or talk?” But the real and most essential moral questions of our lives are the questions we rarely ask of the things we do every day, “Should I eat this?” “Where should I live and how?” “What should I wear?” “How should I keep warm/cool?” We think of these questions as foregone conclusions – I should keep warm X way because that’s the kind of furnace I have, or I should eat this because that’s what’s in the grocery store. Pat’s Theory of Anyway turns this around, and points out that what we do, the way we live, must pass ethical muster first – we must always ask the question “Is this contributing to the repair of the world, or its destruction.”

So if you told me that tomorrow, peak oil had been resolved, I’d still keep gardening, hanging my laundry, cutting back and trying to find a way to make do with less.

50 Simple Ways to Get Off

Orion Magazine

If you’re in love with the world, fall in love with trying to save it

Years ago I was interviewed by a dogmatic pacifist (note to self: bad idea), who in his (grossly inaccurate) write-up said he thought I wanted all activists to think like assassins. That’s not true. What I want is for us to think like members of a serious resistance movement.

What does that look like? Well, to start, it doesn’t have to mean handling guns. Even when the IRA was at its strongest, only 2 percent of its members ever picked up weapons. The same is true for the Underground Railroad; Harriet Tubman and others carried guns, but Quakers and other pacifists who ran safe houses were also crucial to that work. What they all held in common was a commitment to their cause, and a willingness to work together in the resistance.

A serious resistance movement also means a commitment to winning, which means figuring out what “winning” means to you. For me, winning means living in a world with more wild salmon every year than the year before, more migratory songbirds, more amphibians, more large fish in the oceans, and for that matter oceans not being murdered. It means less dioxin in every mother’s breast milk. It means living in a world where there are fewer dams each year than the year before. More native forests. More wild wetlands. It means living in a world not being ravaged by the industrial economy. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get there (and if, by the way, you believe that “whatever it takes” is code language for violence, you’re revealing nothing more than your own belief that nonviolence is ineffective).

That’s fine, Derrick, but what do you want me to do?

Fat Nation

Front Porch Republic

Tis the season to be jolly. And the jolliest fellow of all is that rotund elf in the red suit. He’s happy. He’s spry. He binges on cookies and milk. It turns out, though, that if St. Nick put on weight at the rate of the American population, he’d have to add a few reindeer to his team and he would, if he is susceptible to human ailments, be at high risk for cancer, diabetes, and a host of other obesity related diseases.

A study released last month based on research by Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe of Emory University suggests that if we want to control health costs it is imperative that we do something about obesity, “the fastest growing public health challenge the nation has ever faced.”

Indeed, it seems that Americans are doing pretty well if girth is any indication of success. We are heavier than ever before and packing on the pounds at a rate that is staggering. Here are a few of the findings:

  • Obesity is growing faster than any previous public health issue our nation has faced. If current trends continue, 103 million American adults will be considered obese by 2018.
  • The U.S. is expected to spend $344 billion on health care costs attributable to obesity in 2018 if rates continue to increase at their current levels. Obesityrelated direct expenditures are expected to account for more than 21 percent of the nation’s direct health care spending in 2018.
  • If obesity levels were held at their current rates, the U.S. could save an estimated $820 per adult in health care costs by 2018 a savings of almost $200 billion dollars.

What could be causing such an increase? Well, it doesn’t take much of an imagination, but the study lays it out in case anyone is puzzled: “Obesity is attributable to inadequate activity, unhealthy eating habits, and changing food alternatives.” In other words, we Americans are spending more and more time sitting on our ample bums while eating more and more crap. It doesn’t take a researcher to figure out that this is a pretty good recipe for obesity.

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 12/19/09


Farmers’ Marketeers,

No one is asking what makes food better or how to produce food on farms that are ecological and economic profit centers for their communities.  The only consideration is how to grow it faster, cheaper, and bigger. .

Farm friendly producers understand that their lives are bounded by environmental, emotional, and economic factors.  Override those constraints, and farms become liabilities rather than assets.  They become places nobody wants to visit.

– from “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven, The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food,” Chapter 2, by Joel Salatin.  Available at the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market.

Tomorrow will be the last farmers’ market in Ukiah this decade.  We still have lots of great food and locally-crafted gifts.  In case you were not quick enough to pre-order Lovers’ Lane Tamworth pork, you can still get some at tomorrow’s market.   Prices range from $5.5/lb for ground and $6.50/lb for sausage to $12/lb for chops, with lots of options in between.  See if you don’t taste the difference.

How about authentic heirloom Italian Broccoli Rabb for the holiday?  That is just one of the treats that Flowers by the Sea will bring us from Elk in what will be their last appearance at the market for a while.  They also promise red beets, super-sweet Swiss Chard, fresh coast salad mix, baby romaine salad mix, spinach, broccoli, bok choi, arugula, plus several types of potatoes and onions.  No need to shop elsewhere for your holiday meal.

After tomorrow, the Ukiah Farmers’ Market will return January 9, 2010, starting at 9:30 for the rest of the winter season.  Two weeks is a long time to wait for another chance to choose farm friendly food for your family’s table.  So, make tomorrow’s market count.

The Political Ecology of Collapse, Part Two: Weishaupt’s Fallacy

Energy Bulletin
Part One

Nostalgia’s a funny thing; you never know what’s going to fill the place of Proust’s madeleine and catapult you back to memories of some other time. A little over a year ago, I had a reminder of that while visiting the Upland Hills Ecological Awareness Center in Oakland County, Michigan. The path from the parking lot wandered through a lovely autumn woodland, then turned a corner and deposited me back in 1980.

In those days I was passionately interested in the appropriate technology movement, to the extent of spending the better part of three years working part time on an organic farm, learning the uses of cold frames, a solar greenhouse, compost bins, and double-dug garden beds. Every cliché you can imagine about late-70s communes was present and accounted for: wood smoke and mud, naked bodies in a creaky wood-fired sauna, goats and chickens in the pasture, and a handbuilt wind turbine that went whuppeta-whuppeta and churned out a trickle of twelve-volt current whenever the breeze picked up.

The center at Upland Hills was a good deal cleaner, and the goats and the naked bodies were nowhere to be seen, but the esthetic was much the same. Their wind turbine sounded a silky pup-pup-pup atop an honest-to-Fuller octet truss tower, and the center itself was what all of us at the Outback Farm dreamed of inhabiting someday: a big comfortable earth-bermed shelter with passive solar heating and old-fashioned round photovoltaic cells soaking up the sunlight. When we went inside, I half expected to see a circle of scruffy longhairs sitting on pillows around the latest issue of Coevolution Quarterly, excitedly discussing the latest innovations from Zomeworks and the New Alchemy Institute.

Mendocino County Affairs

Redwood Valley

The County teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, yet our Board of Supervisors approaches serious budget cut-backs as if they were virgins considering a serious affair: they flirt with cost cutting notions, they talk these ideas into confusion, and then put off a decision for six months, knowing full well that our local economy is not likely to have some wonderful rebirth in the next year unless the price of pot miraculously soars like a phoenix to $10,000 a pound.

A few examples: At today’s Board of Virgins’ meeting (Dec 15), John McCowen moved to eliminate our two lobbyists in Washington. Dave Colfax, while admitting that the idea had merit, was concerned that McCowen had not been specific about what it was the lobbyists had failed to do in Washington. Supervisor Smith admitted that it was hard to measure their actual performance. McCowen’s motion was defeated 3 to 2. The Supes agreed to think about it again in six months. Next, an apparently sponsor-less proposal to increase the Clerk of the Board’s salary by 35% was removed from the Consent Calendar for further review. The Clerk had already promised to take voluntary time off for, oh yes – the next six months – to avoid overrunning her budget. While the clerk’s supervisor, CEO Mitchell, had placed this item on the Consent Calendar without making the requisite recommendation, he wiggled around quite nicely by saying that her current salary was “in line” with other counties.

We have many county employees that have been voluntarily working less than full time for six months or more to save the county money. If the county hasn’t yet collapsed due to work left undone during this time, then should we conclude that the county government was really over staffed? (I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer – as to whether it has indeed collapsed – from Tom Mitchell.)

Book Review: The Universe in Your Head


Our consciousness plays a key role in how we perceive space and time, biomedical researcher Robert Lanza says in “Biocentrism.”

Biomedical researcher Robert Lanza has been on the frontier of cloning and stem cell studies for more than a decade, so he’s well-acclimated to controversy. But his book “Biocentrism” is generating controversy on a different plane by arguing that our consciousness plays a central role in creating the cosmos.

“By treating space and time as physical things, science picks a completely wrong starting point for understanding the world,” Lanza declares.

Any claim that space and time aren’t cold, hard, physical things has to raise an eyebrow. Some of the reactions to Lanza’s ideas, first set forth two years ago in an essay for The American Scholar, brand them as “pseudo-scientific philosophical claptrap” or “no better than any religion.”

Lanza admits that the reviews haven’t all been glowing, particularly among some physicists. “Their response has been much how you’d expect priests to respond to stem cell research,” he told me Monday.

Other physicists, however, point out that Lanza’s view is fully in line with the perspective from quantum mechanics that the observer plays a huge role in how reality is observed.

“So what Lanza says in this book is not new,” Richard Conn Henry, a physics and astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University, said in a book review. “Then why does Robert have to say it at all? It is because we, the physicists, do not say it – or if we do say it, we only whisper it, and in private – furiously blushing as we mouth the words. True, yes; politically correct, hell no!” Full article here

Is Wal-Mart the future of local food?


One of the most important historic developments in the food economy is embodied in this statistic: in 1900, 40 percent of every dollar spent on food went to the farmer or rancher while the rest was split between inputs and distribution. Now? 7 cents on the dollar goes to the producer and 73 cents goes just to distribution. That’s worth keeping in mind when you read things like this:

… Wal-Mart, now the nation’s largest supermarket chain as well as retailer, has gotten into the local scene, embarking on an effort to procure more of its produce from local growers.

Uh, oh.

Now, there is an intriguing (and concerning) wrinkle to all this. As the St Louis Dispatch piece linked above observes (and as Tom Philpott and I have observed many times before), one of the big obstacles to expanding local food systems is the collapse of local distribution infrastructure. There are often no wholesalers to buy and store, and no delivery infrastructure to move, produce locally. Conveniently, Wal-Mart has its own regional distribution system that rivals anything that ever existed before—why reinvent the wheel (again). So, it’s only natural for them jump in:

[T]he company is considering how its vast networking could lead to better distribution of local food to local consumers.

“If we have a truck coming to our store with a load of goods, does the truck go back to the (distribution center) empty, or is there some useful activity for it?” [Wal-Mart spokesman Bill] Wertz explained.

For Diane and Tim Rice, who farm 300 acres in Brunswick, that question found an answer.

Parsley as a vegetable

Chelsea Green

Parsley is said to be America’s favorite herb, yet it usually appears as a couple of garnish sprigs on the side of a plate. That’s it. Aside from fresh garnishes, a lot of people use the dried/dehydrated/hopefully-not-irradiated form of parsley, which is useful sometimes but basically a shadow of its former self. I never thought much about parsley until we lived near a Middle Eastern restaurant, where tabbouleh was a side dish on every menu item.

Tabbouleh is a bulgur wheat salad, but the grain is not the main ingredient: chopped, flat-leaf parsley has the starring role, supported by chopped mint, tomatoes, green onion, and perhaps cucumber and other vegetables. The dressing is heavy on the lemon juice and salt for a wonderfully sour, salty, mildly minty, and definitely parsley-ey taste. A good tabbouleh will make you believe that parsley should be classified as a vegetable, not an herb.

And why not? Parsley is a green, leafy plant in its own right. We all know it’s edible. It has a mild, fresh flavor that most people like. It is extremely nutritious, complete with vitamin A (from beta carotene), vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin K. It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids and “chemoprotective” volatile oils that can neutralize carcinogens (source: http://www.whfoods.org). It is very high in minerals as well.

In fact, parsley is VERY rich in iron, calcium, and other minerals. The issue with these nutritional tables and online calculators is that most of them have a serving size for parsley that is only 1-2 tablespoons. But if you chop a whole bunch of it into a salad (coarsely chop, the same size as chopped lettuce), you could easily eat a cup of this stuff in a salad (solo or mixed with other greens). Just one cup (60g) of raw parsley delivers the following whopping portions of your RDA of the following (courtesy of http://www.nutritiondata.com): 101% vitamin A,  133% vitamin C, 21% iron, and 8% calcium.

Evilest Corporation Ever Gives Even More Reasons to Grow Your Own

Casaubon’s Book

The seed is starting to take shape as the site and symbol of freedom in the age of manipulation and monopoly of life. The seed is not big and powerful, but can become alive as a sign of resistance and creativity in th smallest of huts or gardens and the poorest of families. In smallness lies power. – Vandana Shiva

There’s an AP investigative report into Monsanto that suggests that the winner of the highly competetive “Evillest Corporation Ever” award has decided to raise the bar on evil further, trying to bring virtually all seed companies together under its own axis of evil.

We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,’ said Neil Harl, agricultural economist at Iowa State University who has studied the seed industry for decades. “The upshot of that is that it’s tightening Monsanto’s control, and makes it possible for them to increase their prices long term. And we’ve seen this happening the last five years, and the end is not in sight.”At issue is how much power one company can have over seeds, the foundation of the world’s food supply. Without stiff competition, Monsanto could raise its seed prices at will, which in turn could raise the cost of everything from animal feed to wheat bread and cookies.

The price of seeds is already rising. Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers.”

Even if Monsanto weren’t evil, no company should be allowed to control 90% of the seed supply for any staple foods, ever, under any circumstances.

Kill Your Kindle

Front Porch Republic

When my mother came to visit last week, she brought a copy of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union with her. Before she departed for the airport this morning, she left the book on my shelf.

And just like that, it was the end of an era.

You see, my mother has announced that she wants a Kindle.

Oh, lots of people have told me about the little advantages of those little gizmos. They are lightweight. They offer instant gratification. They have features that may make reading easier for people with certain disabilities.

For those reasons alone – usually just for the first two reasons – many of the people I know have already purchased electronic book-viewers, or will be purchasing them soon. With both Amazon(maker of the Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (maker of the Nook) making hard pushes on behalf of their respective products this holiday season — “give the gift of reading,” says Amazon’s website — people have been snatching them up. In fact, Barnes and Noble sold out of their holiday-season Nook supply in mid-November. So it’s not hard to foresee a lot of these little guys showing up, wrapped and beribboned, during the next few weeks.

For those of us who are longtime book readers, though, this is the opposite of the gift that keeps on giving. It is the gift that keeps taking away.

First — oh, sadness upon sadness! — electronic reading-devices are going to take away book-sharing, book-trading, and book-lending. You just can’t share your electronic reader like you can share a book.

Tiger Bunnies

Anderson Valley

On this rainy December day, we cannot resist tying together the feeding frenzy on the carcass of the icon known as Tiger Woods, the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, the extensive media attention awarded a woman in Arkansas for giving birth to her nineteenth child, the so-called jobless recovery, the so-called healthcare debate, and our collective denial of what actually going on here on spaceship earth, circa 2010 (Christian calendar).

Ukiah Blog Live, a culling of thought-provoking counter-mass media internet essays provided by the estimable Dave Smith of Mulligan Books, has been rife of late with articles about the impending worse-than-ever economic collapse, vegetarianism versus the eating of mammalian flesh, and our inevitable return (as a species) to a genteel version of the Dark Ages (if we’re lucky) in the aftermath of peak oil and the bursting of various noxious economic bubbles. These reports are countered hourly in mainstream media mouthing government/corporate propaganda with happy news that things in general are getting better even if they seem to be getting worse in the majority of specific cases. The jobless recovery, reports The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, will soon create new jobs because, well, it just will.

The climate talks in Copenhagen have everybody buzzing about the billions of dollars to be earned through not releasing carbon into the atmosphere. That’s right. If you can prove you’re not being bad, Daddy will give you some money. How will you prove you’re not being bad? You will pay some scientists (with bona fide college degrees, mind you) to say you are being good. Won’t that be nice? How about that for some job creation?