Jim Kunstler: Where’s Rico?


It’s interesting and instructive to read The New York Times‘ lead story this morning, Top Goldman Leaders Said to Have Overseen Mortgage Unit. While it pretends to report all the particulars of the huge scandal growing out of Friday’s SEC action against Goldman Sachs, the story really comes off as an attempt to create an alibi for the so-called “bank.” It pretends that some kind of an intellectual struggle was going on among GS executives as to whether the housing market was doing just fine or poised to tank — therefore muddling the company’s intent in setting up investment deals based on sketchy mortgages designed to blow up so that a favored big customer, John Paulson, could collect on the deal insurance known as credit default swaps.

The truth is that anyone with half a brain could see the securitized mortgage fiasco coming from ten-thousand miles away. I said as much in Chapter Six (“Running on Fumes: the Hallucinated Economy”) of my book The Long Emergency, which was published in 2005 but written well before that in 2002-4. And I had had no work experience whatsoever in banking generally or Wall Street investment banking in particular.

One week before the SEC action against GS, the Pro Publica website published a story about virtually the same kind of mischief being run out of the Chicago-based hedge fund Magnetar led by a clever young fellow named Alec Litowitz. Like Goldman Sachs, Magnetar deliberately constructed investments (bundles of bundled mortgage-backed securities called collateralized debt obligations) that were certain to fail so that Magnetar could collect on credit default swaps that amounted to a bet against products they themselves had participated in creating. There was no question that Litowitz and his employees did this absolutely on purpose. Nor is there any question that they aggressively sold positions in these CDOs to credulous investors like Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and others.

More at CF Nation

Driven to Destruction – The Streetcar Conspiracy


Driven to Destruction is a series outlining how America became so dependent on the personal automobile, and how we must break this dependency if we want to create a sustainable way of life for future generations.

The second installment of Driven to Destruction outlined how advertising trends have created a mystique-based car culture that is very difficult to transform. For 100 years, commercials from auto and oil companies have helped create a national ethos in which the automobile is king. But clever advertising is far from being the only culprit. Our love affair with our cars has also been fueled by the devious actions of a few major corporations – most notably General Motors.

The PBS documentary “Taken For a Ride” describes how the once ubiquitous electric streetcar was driven into the ground by the automobile. It wasn’t a fair fight:

When you’re talking about public transportation in America, for the first part of this century, you’re talking about streetcars. Trolleys ran on most major avenues every few minutes.

In 1922, only one American in ten owned an automobile. Everyone else used rail. At that time Alfred P. Sloan (President, General Motors) said, ‘Wait a minute, this is a great opportunity. We’ve got 90 percent of the market out there that we can somehow turn into automobile users. If we can eliminate the rail alternatives, we will create a new market for our cars. And if we don’t, then General Motors’ sales are just going to remain level.’

Sloan had the idea that he wanted to somehow motorize all the major cities in the country…. More at FireDogLake

An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People From Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military

Thanks to Linda Gray

Iraq veteran Josh Stieber was deployed to Baghdad with Bravo Company 2-16. (Written with Ethan McCord, who pulled injured children from van in Wikileaks ‘Collateral Murder’ video)

Peace be with you.

To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the “Collateral Murder” Wikileaks video→:

We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses. We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize what we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.

We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.

We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and carried out in the name of “god and country”. The soldier in video said that your husband shouldn’t have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.

More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.

Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the value of our nation’s leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won’t lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation’s importance pales in comparison to our common humanity. With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask.

Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.

Solemnly and Sincerely,

Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army

Green Manifesto in UK Adds ‘Radical Change’ to Message of ‘Hope’

The Independent/UK via Common Dreams

‘Robin Hood’ tax policies put redistribution on equal footing with saving planet

… The Green Party launched a manifesto yesterday, openly promising to take quite enormous sums from the rich and hand them over to the poor. [See Thom Hartmann’s The Great Tax Con Job. -DS]

The party that for the past 20 years has put the planet first has found a fierce new focus to sit alongside its environmental concern: social justice and inequality. Yesterday it set out an eye-popping programme of redistributive taxation that would have been considered radical even by Old Labour at its most extreme period in the early Eighties. To pay for a wide range of benefits for people on lower incomes, the Greens in government would seek to raise £73bn in new taxation right away, rising to £112bn in 2013, and increasing the tax take as a share of national income by 25 per cent in just four years. This would come from large hikes in income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, financial transaction tax and a permanent tax on bankers’ bonuses. The Greens would also increase taxes on motoring, flying, cigarettes and alcohol.

However, 87 per cent of the population would be better off under the Green soak-the-rich regime, the party claimed, as in return the public would be offered much higher pensions, higher minimum wages, free home insulation, free social care for the elderly, big tax breaks for people on lower incomes and reopened local post offices – not to mention large-scale improvements in public transport with renationalised railways, the scrapping of the Trident nuclear missile system, and a radical regime for fighting climate change.

Todd Walton: Carma

Anderson Valley

(This article originally appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser: April 2010)

Yesterday a tree fell on our car. Fortunately no one was in the car when the wind snapped the top third off the pine tree and a thousand pounds of soon-to-be firewood fell twenty feet though the crystalline springtime air and smashed the roof, the windshield, and the hood of our dearly beloved cello-toting 1996 Toyota Corolla wagon.

We had just gone for a brief spin in our old pickup truck, eschewing the wagon because she was low on gas, and I had just said to Marcia regarding the formidable westerly winds, “This is a trees-falling-on-power-lines kind of day if I’ve ever seen one.” Upon our return from the spin, there was Zephyr (so named in a fit of poesy when I bought her five years ago) half-buried under the glossy needles and sappy timber of the former upper reaches of a quasi-stunted pine doing his best to survive in that nutrient-stingy soil known hereabouts as Pygmy. The bottom two-thirds of the still-living tree loomed over the wreckage; the scene only lacking a raven perched on the stub cawing, “Nevermore.”

We were in shock. When we got married two plus years ago we not only exchanged rings, we exchanged cars. I needed a pickup for pruning jobs and toting manure, Marcia needed a zippy little car for the aforementioned cello toting and friend toting in all sorts of weather. Now Zephyr was totaled. Marcia immediately called AAA and within the hour we were on our way to Fort Bragg to pick up her rental car so the cello toting could continue unabated. Say what you will about the decline and fall of the American Empire, if one has comprehensive auto insurance, the system will seamlessly keep you rolling along. Now if only health insurance would work so seamlessly when trees, as it were, fall on your health.

ukiaHaiku Festival Tomorrow, Sunday, April 18, Ukiah Civic Center, 1:30-4 p.m.


early spring–
ukiah sprouts
haiku and taiko

Suspense is building with the approach of the Eighth Annual ukiaHaiku Festival and Awards Ceremony. The poems have been written and submitted, the judges have made their decisions, and the best is yet to come: the opportunity for the community to spend an afternoon basking in the haiku form of poetry. The ukiaHaiku festival and Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 18, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue. The thunderous sounds of Yokayo Taiko will drum the festival to life beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the courtyard by the fountain; the indoor ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

Taiko drumming is a poetically perfect way to usher in a haiku festival because both haiku and taiko are art forms that originated in Japan. “Taiko” is actually the Japanese word for drum, but in North America it also refers to ensemble drumming using Japanese drums. The eleven members of the Yokayo Taiko ensemble, directed by Jennifer Ung, will perform “Taiko Train”, “Renshu” (Practice), “Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi and Isamigoma” (Leaping Dragon and Brave Horse), and “Iwai” (Celebration), written by Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan. Poets and audience members are encouraged to arrive early to experience the spine-tingling drumbeats of Yokayo Taiko. (Rain will cancel the drumming because it would damage the drums).

The indoor portion of the program will begin at 2 p.m. with brief remarks by Mayor Benj Thomas and Poet Laureate Theresa Whitehill. Winning poets from age 6 to 66+ will then read their poems aloud to an appreciative audience and receive their awards. A reception with refreshments will follow, during which audience members will have the opportunity to scan many of the fine poems that did not make the final cut and learn more about the Japanese art of origami, or paper folding.

Richard Heinberg: Peak Oil Bombshell

Santa Rosa
Energy Bulletin

According to an article in Le Monde on March 25, the U.S. Department of Energy “admits that ‘a chance exists that we may experience a decline’ of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 ‘if the investment is not there.’” This bombshell emerged in “an exclusive interview with Glen Sweetnam, main official expert on the oil market in the Obama administration.”

The Le Monde article goes on: “The DoE dismisses the ‘peak oil’ theory, which assumes that world crude oil production should irreversibly decrease in a nearby future, in want of sufficient fresh oil reserves yet to be exploited. The Obama administration supports the alternative hypothesis of an ‘undulating plateau.’ Lauren Mayne, responsible for liquid fuel prospects at the DoE, explains : ‘Once maximum world oil production is reached, that level will be approximately maintained for several years thereafter, creating an undulating plateau. After this plateau period, production will experience a decline.‘”

In other words, we don’t believe that world oil production will soon reach a maximum and begin to decline (the “peak oil theory”); instead, we believe that world oil production will reach a maximum, stay there for a few years, and then decline. That decline could commence as soon as next year.

Two comments: First, what’s the difference? Is this just a way to announce Peak Oil without acknowledging it?

Wendell Berry: Home Economics

Exerpts from Home Economics (1987)

The small family farm is one of the last places—where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker—and some farmers still do talk about “making the crops” — is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfillment of physical need…

The family farm is failing because the pattern it belongs to is failing, and the principal reason for this failure is the universal adoption, by our people and our leaders alike, of industrial values, which are based on three assumptions:

1. That value equals price — that the value of a farm, for example, is whatever it would bring on sale, because both a place and its price are “assets.” There is no essential difference between farming and selling a farm.
2. That all relations are mechanical. That a farm, for example, can be used like a factory, because there is no essential difference between a farm and a factory.
3. That the sufficient and definitive human motive is competitiveness — that a community, for example, can be treated like a resource or a market, because there is no difference between a community and a resource or a market…

Tim Stelloh: Unsolved Deaths & Disappearances on the Mendo Coast


Though lightly populated and scenic as a Kinkade painting, the Mendo Coast is–at times, anyway–as sinister, violent and lawless as the rest of this county. Below is an index of the area’s unsolved deaths, attempted murders, disappearances and questionable classifications–along with links to AVA coverage and websites with relevant info.

Jeanne Huckins

Huckins, 63, was found dead in the garage of her Fort Bragg home in January 2010–the victim of a gunshot wound. Though her death was officially labeled suicide, police now say they’re awaiting new evidence from the Department of Justice and that they recently received “good information” from Huckins’ friends, who have doubted the suicide classification.

Click here to read our coverage of her death.

Katlyn Long

Long, 22, died of a methadone overdose in the basement of her parent’s home near Fort Bragg in May 2008. Her ex-boyfriend was with her at the time of her death, but he’s yet to tell detectives what happened. Police forwarded the case to the DA’s office but no one has been charged.

Click here to read our coverage of the case, or here for a website devoted to Long’s memory.

Victoria Horstman

Horstman grew up around Fort Bragg and was heavily involved with the cops’ efforts in the mid-90s to lock up her husband, John Dalton, for growing pot. Her body was found floating in the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana three years ago. There were no signs of injury, and the medical examiner classified her death as “undetermined.”

To read our coverage of Horstman–and John Dalton–click here. More at TheAVA.com

House of Cards: How Money Flows from the Poor to the Rich

From DAVE POLLARD (March 2006)
How To Save The World blog

On a couple of occasions, I’ve tried to explain the vulnerability and unsustainability of our over-leveraged, debt-dependent, consumption-dependent economy.While Jon Husband was visiting with me today, he talked about the power of visualizations, and I decided it might be easier to explain this with a chart… Here’s its explanation:

The economy depends fundamentally on the ‘consumer’ activities of taxpayers, and specifically on the willingness and ability of taxpayers to spend their money on real estate (flow 1), taxes and user fees (2), and the purchase of (now mostly overpriced, imported) products (3). The spending on real estate (1) drives up real estate prices, providing increased collateral to consumer lenders (4), allowing these lenders to loan ever-more money to taxpayers (5). This creates a self-perpetuating Real Estate Cycle (flows 1, 4, 5) that produces the Two Income Trap.

The taxes and user fees paid by ordinary taxpayers (2) fund large tax cuts to rich taxpayers (6) which are rewarded by campaign contributions to ‘friendly’ politicians (7), so that a Campaign Funding Cycle (flows 2, 6, 7) is created.

Keep reading on Pollard’s blog

Interactive Seasonal Ingredient Map


Use the interactive map here to see what’s fresh in your area, plus find ingredient descriptions, shopping guides, recipes, and tips.

Michael Laybourn: An update on PG&E Proposition 16


An update on the Proposition 16 initiative, which PG&E has written and managed to get on the June ballot. The initiative is called “Two-Thirds Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers Act” and is a Constitutional Amendment that thwarts ANY attempts at local public power. Officially the bill is sponsored by “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote”, which labels itself as “A Coalition Of Taxpayers, Environmentalists, Renewable Energy, Business And Labor”.  Which is not true. It is a coalition of one. PG&E has said they are willing to spend 35 – 40 million dollars to pass this law and Proposition 16 is completely self-funded.

PG&E wants to lock its monopoly advantage into the State Constitution, not wanting any competition.

Marin County and San Francisco, both have created public power authorities because they wanted more green power than PG&E was offering, took the case to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) after PG&E illegally threatened not to deliver power to them. Here is what happened:

PG&E must stop threats to public power agencies
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010
California energy regulators delivered a rare rebuke to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Thursday, banning some of the hardball tactics the utility has used in its efforts to derail Marin County’s new public power agency. Although the move by the California Public Utilities Commission didn’t go as far as some PG&E critics wanted, it could have great significance as other communities – most notably, San Francisco – try to enter the electricity business. “It’s really just a slap on the wrist, but it’s a very important slap,” said San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, one of the key proponents of a public power agency in the city.

The Suburbanization of Poverty

From Brookings Institution

An analysis of the location of poverty in America, particularly in the nation’s 95 largest metro areas in 2000, 2007, and 2008 reveals that:

  • By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country. Between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s largest metro areas saw their poor population grow by 25 percent—almost five times faster than primary cities and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities. As a result, by 2008 large suburbs were home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall.
  • Midwestern cities and suburbs experienced by far the largest poverty rate increases over the decade. Led by increasing poverty in auto manufacturing metro areas—like Grand Rapids and Youngstown—Midwestern city and suburban poverty rates climbed 3.0 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively. At the same time, Northeastern metros—led by New York and Worcester— actually saw poverty rates in their primary cities decline, while collectively their suburbs experienced a slight increase.
  • In 2008, 91.6 million people—more than 30 percent of the nation’s population—fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. More individuals lived in families with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of poverty line (52.5 million) than below the poverty line (39.1 million) in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, large suburbs saw the fastest growing low-income populations across community types and the greatest uptick in the share of the population living under 200 percent of poverty.
  • Western cities and Florida suburbs were among the first to see the effects of the “Great Recession” translate into significant increases in poverty between 2007 and 2008.

Organic Farming Opens a Way for Farmers to Return to Their Proper Role as Innovators and Stewards of the Land


“There seems to be three ways for a nation to acquire wealth: the first is by war…this is robbery; the second by commerce, which is generally cheating; the third by agriculture, the only honest way.” Benjamin Franklin

The twenty-first century’s uncertainty about the future abounds with predicaments like climate change, depletion of our water resources, and the end of cheap energy. And farmers are being called upon to assume a new role as innovators and stewards of the land because they know how to produce food.

“Farmers were the true founders of the United States,” said Lisa Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness, “because they went out into the wild and built the first structures and communities that eventually became our cities and the nation.” In 1800, 90 percent of Americans were farmers.

She spoke recently at the 21st Annual Conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held in La Crosse, Wisc.

By 1900 after the frontier closed and the nation moved from an agricultural to an industrial economy, the percentage of farmers dropped to almost 40 percent. That’s also when farmers began to shift in their role from “citizens” to “producers.”

And they have been rebelling ever since over land and crop prices and agricultural policies, said Hamilton.

“They weren’t looking to change the system; they only wanted their fair share of the wealth.”

The Homeless Modern


In 1848 Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of “the approaching irresistible and universal spread of democracy throughout the world.” Since his time the drumbeat has quickened, and with the fall of the Soviet Union the ultimate triumph of democracy seemed inevitable. In his 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argued that liberal democracy really is the final historical step in the development of political thought and practice. The fact that so much of the world today seems either to be embracing democracy outright, or taking faltering steps toward it, or at least paying lip service to it suggests to many that Fukuyama was right, and all that is left is merely a mopping-up operation.

Of course, the smooth highway to universal democracy encountered a serious obstacle on September 11, 2001. It would seem that not all the world shares the same dream. In fact, if the rhetoric is to be believed, the very freedoms that we in the West cherish as essential to a good life are just those that Islamic militants see as the source of Western decadence. With patriotic pride, we instinctively object. But with dispassionate reflection, we can see that the Islamist rhetoric may point to at least a shadow of the truth. If liberty is not directed toward a common good that transcends arbitrary will—even if it is the will of a vast majority—then it eventually descends into a libertinism that is ultimately destructive to society.

This raises important questions: Is it really true that democracy is a stable system that can, on its own terms, perpetuate its freedoms? Is it really true, as the end-of-history theorists claim, that democracy satisfies our basic need for “recognition”? If so, why do so many citizens in the most democratic society in the world behave as if something is amiss? Tocqueville noted the “strange melancholy often haunting” the Americans. This sense of longing is not explicit and generally has no definite object. It is, rather, an underlying dissatisfaction that today manifests itself in a variety of ways: restless mobility, consumerism, frenzied sexuality, substance abuse, therapy, and boredom… Read the rest here (pdf).

A youngster to us geezers: “Take a hike.”

From “VK”
The Automatic Earth

I was thinking of writing something about the age of consequences that we have entered. With the world going all topsy turvy and unending chaos. I wanted to write something about the decline of complexity, an age of payback or blowback but before I do that, I reckon I want to thank the old farts who got us here. I mean the baby boomers -and gen X’ers to some extent-. No really, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart from Gen Y. It is not even conceivable how ridiculously spoilt the boomers and Gen X’ers are.

You had everything, and you give us nothing. Now that’s a gift worth giving isn’t it?

Where to begin on the gifts that just keep taking from us. You saddle us with your debt burdens, your legacy costs. You use our names and paint little bullseyes on our dreams and hopes and shatter them with the gift of debt. Trillions upon trillions you’ve saddled upon us to save your McMansions, your stocks, your portfolios and your yachts. Thanks for that.

Youth unemployment across much of Europe and the US is hovering between 20-25% with Spain at 45%. This doesn’t even count underemployment, where the youth have been even worse hit. Unemployment and underemployment among young people could be as high as 40-50% in much of the world. So you gift us with debt as well as with no jobs and low wages!

Why do I feel like a PhD in Greece who’s serving fat tourists on a beach earning €700 a month, or maybe the Italian kids who can’t afford to buy their own house or maybe the Australian kid who was sold out by his government into buying houses that (s)he can’t even afford, in an effort to prop up ridiculously over-valued home prices. Or maybe it was the American kid who got out of college with a huge debt burden and now can’t find a job or even get a start in life because of your reckless greed and exuberance to party. Thank you, you’re so kind and gentle and giving.

Nine Myths About Socialism In The US


Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires are claiming that the US is hot on the path towards socialism. Part of their claim is that the US is much more generous and supportive of our working and poor people than other countries. People may wish it was so, but it is not.

As Senator Patrick Moynihan used to say “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.”

The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and poor people compared to other countries.

Consider the US in comparison to the rest of the 30 countries that join the US in making up the OECD – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable European countries but also include some struggling countries like Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Turkey. See http://www.oecd.org

When you look at how the US compares to these 30 countries, the hot air myths about the US government going all out towards socialism sort of disappear into thin air. Here are some examples of myths that do not hold up.

Myth #1. The US government is involved in class warfare attacking the rich to lift up the poor.

There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10% in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10% in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries.

Cookbook Review: In The Green Kitchen – Alice Waters

Mendocino County

Friday, Bill and I ventured to Berkeley where we had a lunch reservation at our favorite restaurant, Chez Panisse. I truly love the café, the cheaper alternative to the very posh upstairs restaurant.

Simple is the way it is, but Waters’ version of simple: white tablecloths covered with white butcher paper, flatware that is perfectly weighted so it doesn’t slip out of your hand, simple plates that are always spotless, servers– several who I recognized from previous visits.

The décor is craftsman with a big touch of Frank Lloyd Wright in the fixtures and furniture. The walls have posters of the old Marcel Pagnol movies, Cesar, Fanny and Marius. I have a sentimental nostalgic feeling for a life I did not live in Marseille about 100 years ago so the posters take me there. And I imagine what Cesar, Fanny and Marius ate in their little bistro/bar, anticipating the café food.

Waters’ cookbooks are things of beauty. The best known is probably Chez Panisse Vegetables, published in 1996. The color linocut images are gorgeous. The recipes are arranged alphabetically and according to season so that if you find perfect red and yellow peppers in the fall, you just might want to make pizza with them.

But I digress. In the Green Kitchen goes in a different direction. Thirty cooks contributed recipes that they use in their home cooking. There is no fussy food to be found here. The recipes mostly illustrate basic techniques, but with flair and lots of herbs. Examples of really simple stuff are a Cherry tomato & tofu salad, which, Waters informs us, “applies traditional Asian flavorings and methods to the foods of this continent.”


Anderson Valley

(This memoir first appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser April 2010)

I have read a great deal about dreams and dreaming, and whether you believe dreams are communications from the astral plane or meaningless imagery resulting from cerebral out gassing, they can certainly remind us of people and places and things we have successfully avoided thinking about for the longest time.

I recently dreamt of being in high school again, and of a transformative moment in my less than excellent adventure there. My dream was a fair enactment of the event from my junior year, though the dream ended differently than the so-called real event.

I was a disinterested student suffering from the sudden onset of chronic pain in my lower back that ended my official athletic career in a heartbreaking twinkling. Verbally precocious, I was enrolled in Advanced English wherein my teachers persistently failed to see the genius behind my sloppy prose. In class discussions I invariably scored points with my classmates for wit and irony and double entendre while merely annoying my sadly average instructors on whom subtly and originality were invariably lost. Or so it seemed to my arrogant teenager’s mind.

My English teacher for my third year of incarceration was a very sad woman who never relaxed. Not in our presence. Ever. I will call her Mrs. R. She trembled when she spoke, as if she feared lightning would strike her for pontificating about things she clearly knew nothing about. She was not inherently stupid, but her anxiety rendered her so.

Ike Heinz: Ukiah Landfill biggest air-polluter. Do we want more of it?


A new attempt to rethink Ukiah’s waste stream

In reference to the Ukiah Daily Journal article 3/26 (see article below), the city staff is taking the first steps towards a disaster in planning to open this site again. The Landfill at the present condition has no space to deposit more garbage. Toxic landfill gas is emanating constantly unused into the air with no installation to flare off the gas. 300 cubic feet of landfill gas per minute and neighbors protest.

The State Waste board and water board are not aware of any new applications for reopening the site and outstanding requests are still pending.

All of our good counsel from the Landfill Gas Task Force has fallen so far on blocked ears. This issue was presented to the city council in one form or another since 2001. We produced a feasibility report stating usable gas till 2023. We made a DVD film of Sonoma County’s Central Landfill with city staff visiting this 10 megawatt electric power production site, operating since 1993. Additional gas is used as CNG, fuelling  36 County busses.

In January 2010 we submitted a proposal to the Ukiah City Council and the County sanitation board in regards to available technology, to make use of waste water bio-solids with gasification. Landfill gas could be added at the same time and the proposal received no response.

We are recommending a different approach to the waste stream cost. Neglect to sort will cost you more!

Promote Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.


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