Drug Stores vs. Natural Food Stores

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Book Review: Women Food and God


Today on her show Oprah will announce that she will never diet again. Many of us who embrace a non-diet approach to healthy living are doing the happy dance. We’ve seen Oprah struggle and have been waiting for the day she would learn to eat more intuitively – and use her platform to get the message out.

The person responsible for Oprah’s “aha” moment is Geneen Roth, the author of the new bestseller, Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. Roth has gained and lost 1000 pounds in her lifetime bouncing between anorexia and obesity. When I heard of this book I rushed to the store and devoured it.

And, of course, I had to tell you all about it.

The premise
“No matter how developed you are in any other areas of your life, no matter what you say you believe, no matter how sophisticated or enlightened you think you are, how you eat says it all”

This is the crux of Roth’s message. After years of many highs and lows in both her weight and emotional state, she decided to give up the struggle with food and her body. She not only naturally fell to the right weight for her, she found her true self in the process.

Roth is not new to writing books or helping women conquer their issues with food. But for the first time the mainstream might be ready for what she has to say. Having Oprah’s endorsement is a major plus, but it helps that many women are tiring of the endless quest for the perfect weight, body and diet.

More here

Michael Pollan Immortalized as Heirloom Tomato


Author and food luminary Michael Pollan has been widely praised for his thoughtful inquiries into how our food is produced and what it means for our health and environment. For his work and impact, he was recently named to Time‘s annual Time 100 list of noted figures.

So, it is not surprising that the next logical step in his apotheosis, would, of course, be his immortalization as an heirloom tomato.

According to anniesannuals.com:

‘Michael Pollan’ is an odd shaped mutant! (The tomato that is.) Egg shaped fruits are yellow with green stripes & some have little “nubbins” on the ends. Related to ‘Green Zebra’ but with a milder taste & a good amount of sweetness. Very popular in taste tests. Plus the bloom on this variety is reported to be quite showy. Nice! Named after the amazing author & teacher -whose books we highly recommend.

As esteemed as Pollan — the writer — may be, his tomato self is not immune from the vagaries of agriculture: “‘Michael Pollan’ is possibly susceptible to Blossom End Rot so make sure & water him evenly to prevent this from occurring. The tomato that is!”

Dave Pollard: Integrating Six Models of a Better Way to Live

How To Save The World Blog

Since I’ve retired I’ve been spending more time meeting with people in, and learning more about, six movements that are proposing, and working to implement, models of a better way to live. My motivation for this is simple: I believe our industrial civilization is going to collapse (in cascading spasms) in this century, and I want my grandchildren to have the tools and knowledge to deal with the crash and, if they survive it, to create a more sustainable society in its aftermath.

The six movements are:

  1. The Transition Movement: Originally developed to allow communities to prepare for the End of Oil and make the transition to a low-energy, renewable-energy future, this movement has now expanded its scope to encompass preparations to adapt to the effects of inevitable dramatic climate change in the coming decades.
  2. The Permaculture / Cradle-to-Cradle Sustainability Movements: Although the term “permaculture” is being generalized to include anything and everything related to economic and ecological sustainability, at its core it is about natural, sustainable food production and local food self-sufficiency. The Cradle-to-Cradle movement is the analogous (to permaculture) approach for production of other goods, with everything reused and restorable so there is no waste, no loss of value, ever.
  3. The Intentional Communities Movement: This movement is principally about encouraging cooperative and collective housing, though it extends to helping people find others with common values and helping them build on these values, and deal with the challenges of communal living, such as achieving consensus and resolving conflicts… More here

How Do Christians Become Conservative?

Progressive Strategies

Apparently since “the poor will always be with us”, we can go ahead and screw them. But Jesus making a prediction that there will always be oppressive societies doesn’t mean he wanted us to join the oppressors. By clinging desperately to that one verse in the Bible, and ignoring all the others about the poor and the rich, Christian conservatives show themselves to be hypocrites, plain and simple.

When you are in the political world, you have decisions to make every single day about who you will try to help and who you won’t. In spite of the earnest quest of good technocrats everywhere, the simple fact is that there are only a few win-win solutions. Who you tax, who you give a tax break to, what programs you cut or add to, who you tighten regulations on, and who you loosen them on, what kind of contractors are eligible for government work, which school districts and non-profit groups get federal money, etc: these political decisions are generally not win-win. Instead, they mean that one group of people win, and one group of people loses. It is the nature of politics, and you can’t take the politics out of politics.

The most fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives is that question of which side you are on. Conservatives believe that the rich and powerful got that way because they deserve to be, that society owes its prosperity to the prosperous, and that government’s job when they have to make choices is to side with those businesspeople who are doing well, because all good things trickle down from them. Progressives, on the other hand, believe it is the poor and those who are ill-treated who need the most help from their government, and that prosperity comes from all of us — the worker as well as the employer, the consumer as well as the seller, the struggling entrepreneur trying to make it as well as the wealthy who already have.

The Second Leg of the Great Depression Was Caused by European Defaults


Many Americans know that the Great Depression was started by the bursting of the giant Wall Street bubble of the 1920’s (fueled by the use of bank deposits on speculative gambling, which is why Glass-Steagall was passed) , which in turn caused a run on American banks.

But most Americans don’t know that the second leg of the Depression was caused by European defaults.

As Yves Smith reminds us:

Recall that the Great Depression nadir was the sovereign debt default phase.

The second leg down of the Depression was larger than the first, as shown by this chart of the Dow:

The second leg down was primarily initiated by the failure of the Creditanstalt bank in Austria. Creditanstalt (also spelled Kreditanstalt) declared bankruptcy in May 1931.

As Time Magazine noted on November 2, 1931:

May 14 [1931]: First thunderclap of the present crisis: collapse in Vienna of Kreditanstalt, colossal Rothschild bank, which is taken over by the Austrian Government, shaking confidence in related German banks.

Underwater Oil Volcano: Worst Case Scenario (Updated)


Reports about the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been largely underestimated, according to commentators, including Paul Noel, a Software Engineer for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. He believes that the pocket of oil that’s been hit is so powerful and under so much pressure that it may be virtually impossible to contain it. And Noel is not the only person questioning the scope of this disaster.

A recent story from the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports that many independent scientists believe the leak is spewing far more than the 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, per day being reported by most media sources. They believe the leak could be discharging up to 25,000 barrels (more than one million gallons) of crude oil a day right now.

The riser pipe that was bent and crimped after the oil rig sank is restricting some of the flow from the tapped oil pocket, but as the leaking oil rushes into the well’s riser, it is forcing sand with it at very high speeds and “sand blasting” the pipe (which is quickly eroding its structural integrity).

According to a leaked National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by an Alabama newspaper, if the riser erodes any further and creates more leaks, up to 50,000 barrels, or 2.1 million gallons, per day of crude oil could begin flooding Gulf waters every day.

Real Systemic Risk


[…] The real, the main, the major systemic risk is not in the banking or even the economic system. It’s in the political system. And neither of them can or will eventually be saved.

The real systemic risk lies in the fact that politicians the world around operate on the premise that if they don’t rock the cradle of the banking herd too hard, they’ll survive to receive another round of hand outs and serve another term. And another. That and most of them are absolutely clueless when it comes to the field they’re supposed to oversee and regulate. And the only people who can tell them how and what are the lobbyists who work for the very parties they’re there to regulate.

That is real systemic risk. The kind that would affect you yourself. The political system versus the economic system. And they have become hard to tell apart, because they serve the same purpose.

The link to the oil disaster? Halliburton poured cement into “the hole” based on depth information they received from BP. Turned out, the problem was way deeper, and the pressure, therefore, was way stronger. And then it all blew.

What better metaphor for all of you to understand what’s going on in the marketplace today? The EU pours $1 trillion down the hole, but the hole is far deeper than anyone seems to realize. Perfect metaphor.

The markets in the days to come? Volatility rules. While all the stock exchanges had their lofty gains, the euro was at $1.2752 Friday afternoon, and it’s at $1.2757 right now. Does this require any further explanation? We’re counting down the days, weeks, maybe months.

Volatility, chaos, what’s next? Mayhem?!

Should the Ukiah Valley Become the Killing Fields for the Bay Area?


Factory Farm “sounded like children being tortured. And it didn’t stop.”

Jane Black of the Washington Post interviewed David Kirby, author of ‘Animal Factory’ . This one passage really stuck out.

Q: Of all the shocking statistics and stories in the book, what is the one that affected you most?

A: I visited 20 states. I saw things I never thought I would see. I smelled things I never thought I would smell in my life. But one night, I was at a small family farm in Illinois that raised pigs. Across the street was a pig factory. It was at night. The workers had gone home. And as soon as it got dark, you could hear the screams and the squealing and the crying. It was not like one pig over there. Like hundreds.

Q: Did something happen?

A: No. This was just a night on a factory farm. Because the pigs get bigger and bigger and the pens don’t. And they fight. It sounded like children being tortured. And it didn’t stop. It was the most haunting and most tragic sound I’ve ever heard. And I think it was because it didn’t stop. If there had been a commotion in the barn and they all started making noise, I might have forgotten about it. But this was arresting. That tells me these are really unhealthy animals, that there are too many animals and that they really are stressed out.
See also Again: Slaughter On The Farm With Mobile Units

The Economics of Organic Farming


[“Biodynamic heaven” above from Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, Mendocino County, where I get my weekly basket of dense nutrition. Now recruiting members for this season in Willits, Ukiah, Marin County, and Bay Area. See interview here. -DS]

Growing local organic food may be the best path toward economic recovery.  It may also be key to building stronger and healthier communities.

“Our [struggling] economy is making a compelling case that we shift toward more local food,” said Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis.  “The current system fails on all counts and it’s very efficient at taking wealth out of our communities.”

Meter spoke at the annual conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held recently in La Crosse, Wisc.

The bank bailouts have stabilized the crisis but they haven’t addressed wealth in local communities, he said.  It’s likely that change may come through food because it is the third largest household expense (12.4 percent or $6,133) and $1 trillion nationally.  The average consumer spends $49,638 per year with housing the largest expense (34 percent or $16,900), transportation number three (17.6 percent or $8,753) and insurance number four (10.8 percent or $5,336) (visualeconomics.com).

“Everyone needs to eat and a local food economy forces us to think differently,” said Meter.

Meter shared figures from his study of southwestern Wisconsin where 106,000 residents earn a total income of $2.7 billion.  However, 30 percent of the people live below the poverty line.  Out of 6,804 farms, 586 farmers sell less than $10,000 per year while 11 percent sell more than $100,000.  Only 382 farms sell directly to consumers and 133 farms are organic.  Such disparities result in lop-sided and unfair policies that need to be changed to meet everyone’s needs, Meter pointed out.

Addicted to Permanent Thoughtlessness


[…] We are living through the aftershocks of a world pressed by limits to growth, and – addicted to that condition of permanent thoughtlessness, and having been told that the permanence pf growth was ensured by the solidity of industry and government alike – today demand increasing debt to make up for declining wealth. The worldwide deleveraging that we have sought to forestall by means of “stimuli” and financial chicanery will be all the more painful and dislocating with every day that we put off our reckoning.

The ancient Greeks were the source of a kind of wisdom about self-government that today’s Greeks – and the rest of the world – have forgotten, only after Europeans and Americans (especially) over the past several hundred years explicitly overturned their influence – particularly the legacy of that inheritance in Christendom. Bans against “usury” – now regarded as quaint and incomprehensible – were most fundamentally bans upon current generations stealing from future generations. Limits upon debt were established to prevent people from living beyond their means, to constrain their appetites to what was appropriate within the limits of the world. It is an ancient teaching that we are rediscovering not by dint of wisdom and a habituated capacity to embrace self-rule, but by dint of having no other choice.

Several nights ago, Wendell Berry spoke to a packed – overflowing – auditorium in the Arlington library. Some hope is to be found in the fact that the audience was overwhelmingly composed of young people, wanting to hear from that older man some words about what we are now to do. And he concluded a marvelous evening of reflections and thoughts with a response to a question about Oil and Limits with the reply that he was waiting – as we should all be waiting – for someone to tell us that “we’ve got to use less,” that someone must make a criticism of our “standard of living” and speak in terms of “limits and context.” The context of which he spoke explicitly was that nature was speaking – “very noisily” – to those who would listen, and that the “news from the world” was quite clear that we needed to begin speaking and living under self-imposed limits – or those limits that would be violently imposed upon us.
Original Article Crises here

People’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state


Booze, rage and justice in the participation age

[…] It is now clear to me that the people’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state. Its various channels, eddies and pools, regardless of type, can be directed toward all sorts of mischief and profit. Left or right, the angry throngs on both sides can be managed and directed. They can be sent chasing various injustices, denouncing evil characters on Wall Street, Times Square bombers, BP executives, or whatever, worked up into slobbering outrage over Sarah Palin, and thus kept divided and working against each other for the benefit of last gasp capitalism.

Once outside the furious drek of American political and economic life, and having finished the last book I will ever write, I found myself asking: “Why did the good in the American people not triumph? How can it be that so many progressive, justice-loving citizens failed? Their positions were well reasoned. The facts were indisputably on their side. Obviously, there was, and is, more going on than merely losing battles to demagoguery and meanness. Why do we lose the important fights so consistently? What has kept us from establishing a more just kingdom? Something is missing.

I think it is, in a word, the spiritual. The stuff that sustained Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and gave them the kind of calm deliberate guts we are not seeing today. I am not talking about religion, but the spirit in each of us, that solitary non-material essence, none the less shared by all humans because we are human. When we let our capitalist overlords cast everything in a purely material light — as material gain or loss for one group or another — we played the oppressor’s game.

Noam Chomsky: Rustbelt Rage

In These Times

An acute sense of betrayal comes readily to people who believed they had fulfilled their duty to society in a moral compact with business and government.

On Feb. 18, Joe Stack, a 53-year-old computer engineer, crashed his small plane into a building in Austin, Texas, hitting an IRS office, committing suicide, killing one other person and injuring others.

Stack left an anti-government manifesto explaining his actions. The story begins when he was a teenager living on a pittance in Harrisburg, Pa., near the heart of what was once a great industrial center.

His neighbor, in her ’80s and surviving on cat food, was the “widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement.

“Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was Social Security to live on.”

He could have added that the super-rich and their political allies continue to try to take away Social Security, too.

Stack decided that he couldn’t trust big business and would strike out on his own, only to discover that he also couldn’t trust a government that cared nothing about people like him but only about the rich and privileged; or a legal system in which “there are two `interpretations’ for every law, one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us.”

The government leaves us with “the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies (that) are murdering tens of thousands of people a year,” with care rationed largely by wealth, not need.

A gusher of disaster

Club Orlov (Excerpted)

An American Chernobyl

[This is not a “spill.” The correct term, that has always been used to describe, with glee, the success of an oil find when it blows out is “gusher.” Simple as this: If the ocean dies, we die. This is the end of the petroleum age as we’ve known it. -DS]

The Chernobyl disaster was caused more or less directly by political appointeesm: the people in charge of the reactor control room had no background in nuclear reactor operations or nuclear chemistry, having got their jobs through the Communist Party. They attempted a dangerous experiment, executed it incompetently, and the result was an explosion and a meltdown. The Deepwater Horizon disaster will perhaps be found to have similar causes. BP, the owner of Deepwater Horizon, is chaired by one Carl-Henric Svanberg—a man with no experience in the oil industry. The people who serve on the boards of directors of large companies tend to see management as a sort of free-floating skill, unrelated to any specific field or industry, rather similarly to how the Soviet Communist party thought of and tried to use the talents of its cadres. Allegations are already circulating that BP drilled to a depth of 25000 feet while being licensed to drill up to 18000 feet, that safety reviews of technical documents had been bypassed, and that key pieces of safety equipment were not installed in order to contain costs. It will be interesting to see whether the Deepwater Horizon disaster, like the Chernobyl disaster before it, turns out to be the direct result of management decisions made by technical incompetents…

The political challenges, in both cases, centered on the inability of the political establishment to acquiesce to the fact that a key source of energy (nuclear power or deep-water oil) relied on technology that was unsafe and prone to catastrophic failure. The Chernobyl disaster caused irreparable damage to the reputation of the nuclear industry and foreclosed any further developments in this area. The Deepwater Horizon disaster is likely to do the same for the oil industry, curtailing any possible expansion of drilling in deep water, where much of the remaining oil is to be found,

Don Sanderson: And, My Choice Is ….


The Mendocino County supervisor campaign is hot, campaign literature (interviews, blogs, mailings, affairs, sample ballots, …) is beginning to flood upon us, and voters are excitedly choosing sides in that two hundred and more year old celebration of American representative democracy. The affair is becoming so entrancing that we have nearly forgotten the mistaken choices we made in the last election, and the time before, and the time before that, and onward into dim memories of just how disordered and decrepit the whole process is. Not that we ever had real choices, only us humans with all our many pratfalls. Oh, we are told the system is better than any other, so smile and cast your dice. Does it really matter who wins? Oh, yes, you say; we can’t let “them” win this time. Well, maybe, but ….

We hear rumblings that the world economy is failing, especially that of the U.S., especially that of California. But, as perhaps the most in-your-face example, Goldman-Sachs is reporting amazing profits playing with mortgage securities, the stock market, and the petroleum commodities market among others with that bailout money and government guarantees awarded them by our elected representatives; massive employee bonuses are being rewarded. So, we’re told by our representatives that, though it may not have touched Mendocino County yet, the economy is improving and you should thank them in the next election. Social Darwinist survival of the fittest or greediest, as so well promoted by Ayn Rand, is a, perhaps the, dominant force in this country, this culture, as epitomized by Goldman-Sachs and associates; I read that Rand’s still best-selling books have been found in surveys to be only somewhat less influential than the Bible. When will this bubble, which is being funded by Fed funny money, crash? Like the last, this is not all smoke and mirrors? What might you conclude this can this portend for us here in Mendocino County? I’d say, run for cover.

Rosalind Peterson: Take Action! Stop the Cap and Trade Ponzi Bill

Redwood Valley

Senators Kerry, Lieberman & Graham are pushing hard to introduce and pass a Climate, Energy, Jobs bill which includes a Cap & Trade Ponzi Scheme (PRI) Pollution Reduction Investment and a carbon tax.

The backroom negotiations are now underway and the banks and Wall Street are drooling over the prospect of the taxpayers being charged in order to enrich their coffers one more time…this is why the banks have been written into this new U.S. Senate Bill.

The U.S. monetary printing press is gearing up to print free offsets and offsets that can be given free to some polluters (others will be required to purchase them), in order to offset their pollution.  Thus, corporate polluters will be engaged in buying and selling the right to pollute.

It is no surprise then the corporations and venture capitalists are looking for carbon offsets around the world to purchase for a pittance in order to offset tons of pollution which they will continue to emit – unregulated for at least seven to the next ten years… Senator Kerry’s new bill will then only required a 10% to 17% reduction by 2017or 2020, of 2005 Emission Levels.  It is a great deal…the new Ponzi Scheme that is going to allow polluters to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense.

The American public will be taxed at all levels, hurting the poor and the working poor, along with the middle class while the banks and Wall Street enrich themselves.  And the polluters get off free with their offsets from every imaginable source.   Some of the carbon taxes will go to a private corporation set up under the United Nations… President Obama and Secretary Clinton have agreed to fund this corporation at $100 Billion per year.  The lie about all of this is that the carbon taxes will be returned to the people… no such luck… by the time one reads the bill one will understand that there will be nothing left at the end except a mere pittance.

Transition Towns: Microcosms of Hope


The Earth makes us, she shapes us, and if we make the Earth toxic, the Earth makes our bodies toxic… ~Vandana Shiva

…and watch In Transition movie here

See also: Jason Bradford: Healthy Addictions

Learning Reality The Ram Way

The Contrary Farmer

We generally refer to male sheep as bucks in our neck of the woods, but ram is probably a better term since everyone here thinks bucks are football players at Ohio State. Turn your back on a ram and he will plant his head into the small of your back and send you to the nearest chiropractor for the rest of your life. And don’t think you can teach him a lesson by returning the favor with anything short of lethal force. Rams love getting hit in the head. I think it gives them orgasms. The only way you can get any respect is to rap them sharply on the nose with a short, stout stick that you should carry in your pocket when you are in the barn.

When I hear an animal lover who has never had to take daily care of animals criticize the way we husbandmen treat our livestock, I wish that they had to learn reality the ram way. I look with considerable reservations at all those sweet biblical pictures of “good shepherds” who leave the ninety nine behind to go search for the one that is lost. Why are there no pictures of good shepherds getting nailed in the butt by a ram, a scene a whole lot more common? Sheep are never lost. Shepherds just don’t always know where they are.

For some reason, in agrarian cultures, nothing is as funny as seeing a buck send a farm boy flying into a pile of manure. It has happened to all of us who raise sheep. I don’t care how carefully you keep an eye out, the moment you forget and turn your back, BAM. Most of the time no harm is done which I suppose is why it seems so comical (especially if it happens to Dad after he has scolded you for something your sister did). But ram attacks are not funny. Rams can kill humans. So if you are a shepherd new to the business, I am, right now, going to save your life.

More here

Thom Hartmann: Is European socialism bleeding like a stuck PIG? Uh, no.

Thom’s blog

The conservatives are yelling from the rooftops that we are witnessing the slow death of European Socialism due to massive spending on social programs. They say the countries bleeding the most red ink are Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain or the P.I.G.S. of Europe as they are known in financial circles.

Greece has run out of money and is now using German money to prevent total collapse. Portugal may be next followed very closely by Spain. Yet the European countries with some of the most socialist – that is, strong social safety networks – are Germany and Denmark, two countries where things are going just fine.

In Germany, for example, every corporation in the country is required to have half of the members of their board of directors appointed by the union representing the workers of the company – the most corporate-intrusive system in all of Europe. In Denmark, not only are healthcare and education free, but they even pay students a monthly stipend to cover food, housing, and books – all the time they’re in school all the way up to PhD or MD degrees.

So what differentiates Germany and Denmark from Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain? Germany and Denmark never fully drank the so-called “free trade” kool-aid, and thus both have strong manufacturing sectors. Across America you’ll find German cars and Danish wind turbines, as well as across those nations themselves. But walk into any store in Spain, Greece, Ireland, or Portugal and you’ll find row after row of Chinese-made goods.

Twenty years of insane flat-earth free-trade policies have disemboweled the economies of the United States and numerous European countries. The US, for example, has gone from 20% GDP in manufacturing before the election of Reagan to just 11% now. Countries that don’t make things don’t create real wealth, and thus must turn to Goldman Sachs to help them borrow money.

How the truth can be twisted by those who seek power, and how the weak can be used


The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ

It’s Jesus versus his evil twin (really) in Philip Pullman’s newest.

Philip Pullman is perhaps best known for his trilogy, His Dark Materials, which was written in part to counter the Christian themes in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. (The Golden Compass, the trilogy’s first book, was made into a 2007 film starring Nicole Kidman.) With this new book, Pullman takes on the ultimate icon of Christianity, Jesus Christ himself. In his retelling of the Jesus story, Pullman imagines that twin boys are born to Mary that night in the manger. One, Jesus, goes on to become a challenging and charismatic preacher who attracts the love of his followers and the hatred of the powerful. The other twin, Christ, is a weak and complicated man who ultimately betrays his brother and stages his resurrection. At the behest of a mysterious stranger, Christ also makes a record of what Jesus had done and said, but he embellishes the truth, making Jesus something he is not and interpreting what Jesus means for his future followers — who will become the official church.

At the beginning of this short novel, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, you think you know pretty well where this story is going. Pullman adds some new twists to the well-trod material and you figure that these twins will rather simplistically represent good and bad, darkness and light. But never underestimate the intelligence of Philip Pullman. He is up to something more clever here. He wants to explore how the truth can be twisted by those who seek power, how the weak can be used, how the storyteller can’t help but make a story better, no matter what the consequences. And most of all, this staunch critic of organized religion wants to make a convincing case that a church can be built on lies. It’s an interesting read for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Why the European Way Is the Best Hope for an Insecure Age

on Democracy Now

[…] But what Europe has managed to do is to figure out how do we harness this ability of capitalism to create wealth, because there’s no question that capitalism creates a lot of wealth, but there’s an outstanding question here of what do we do with that wealth. Whose pockets does that money go into? Europe has figured out a way to harness this wealth and create a more broadly shared prosperity that all of their people enjoy, and even in the midst of an economic crisis like this, whereas the United States, we’re still trying to figure it out. We can’t even figure out how to give healthcare to all our people or to get sixty votes in the United States Senate, you know, where the filibuster has gone wild. So, in many, many ways, Europe is doing fine through this crisis, where we in the United States here are really having difficult times….

…they decided that it was time to quit pouring their nations’ wealth into the military machines they had been and to start pouring it into their people. So a movement emerged for what was called then the “social market economy”—in my book, I call it “social capitalism”—to start taking the resources of their free markets and plowing it back into developing their people, giving things like, for example, free or nearly free university education, which Europe still has today…

…one of the ways in which Europe has really—is really leading the way is on its use of environmental technologies, green technologies, green design, conservation technologies and renewable technologies, that are being implemented in a much more widespread fashion in Europe, to the point where they’ve lowered their ecological footprint, as it’s called, to half that of the United States, even though they have the same standard of living… it has robust economies, it’s figured out how to take that wealth and make it a broadly shared distribution, and do it all in a way that’s as environmentally sustainable as possible.

More here

Honeybees may be in terminal decline

From The Observer UK
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

The decline of the country’s estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.

Potential causes range from parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods. The disappearance of so many colonies has also been dubbed “Mary Celeste syndrome” due to the absence of dead bees in many of the empty hives. US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem…

More here
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons


Janie Sheppard: Enough Already

Mendocino County

Following the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the recent underground mine disaster in West Virginia, and yet another mine disaster in Kentucky, it now appears that before we “run out” of fossil fuels we will die trying.  All we need now is another nuclear power plant disaster, and because the existing plants are all “on borrowed time”, that will likely happen in the near future.

Unless we come to grips with the dangers to the environment and ourselves, dangers that are inherent in trying to extract oil in deep water, mining under old mines, and handling nuclear materials, these disasters will become a regular feature of our daily existence, if they aren’t already.

What to do?  Tell the big fossil fuel and nuclear interests to back off.  Instead, adopt an energy policy based on conservation, solar energy, and wind energy where it can be done without killing birds.

Enough already with trying to get the last drop of oil, last lump of coal, and last granule of uranium ore out of Mother Earth.

Roasting Tommy Wayne Kramer


Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives —the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change— truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. —Salman Rushdie

I’m not sure why Tom Hine aka Tommy Wayne Kramer still stirs up so much venomous hostility after writing for several years here in Mendocino County. The complaining letters to the editor get particularly interesting when either someone’s personal ox gets gored, or someone already hates the ox and enjoys the goring. I’ve enjoyed my own goring.

Surely someone else has drawn this comparison, so I may be repeating what has already been offered by others, but the way I interpret Tom’s humor is like celebrity roasts. Most of the celebrity roasters and roastees know and love each other, and the better they know each other, the more they are able to hone in on weak spots and really cut to the bone.

I’ve met Tom, and he seems mild-mannered and friendly enough. Much like Bruce Anderson, Publisher/Editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, harmless in person, wicked with the pen. Unlike some of the silly rantings of our more clueless and humorless wingnuts, these are talents, rare and creative, who know and love our community. Our character and strength may be found in how we respond to them.

May they continue to be goring, and never boring.

Doomer Mania

Thanks to Dave Pollard

Resilience contagion

Recently I wrote about my awakening from doomer porn stupor. This week, I would like to talk about positives in the doomer community. Stuff that keeps me hanging in with this at times panic stricken, over-the-top folk.

There are two good things I can think of off hand. First, the doomer community is past denial and awake. They see the clusterfuck of crises heading our way and don’t flinch. It can be pretty cool to hang out with people who do not require tutoring or persuasion regarding the predicaments we face. I fit well enough with doomer beliefs: that peak oil is pretty much upon us, that there are a number of crises converging upon humanity at the same time, climatic vagaries are in the offing, that human population has reached overshoot and is consuming its children’s tomorrows, that a growth-based economic system is unsustainable and absurd, that industrial agriculture is a ludicrously damaging and inefficient way to eke out our sustenance, and that complex systems eventually reach a point of diminishing returns and must simplify. I don’t see any of this as particularly controversial, and I appreciate being part of a community of people who keep on clarifying and growing in understanding past these basics.

The second good thing is… a lot of doomers are doing something interesting, useful and catching. Whether learning to keep chickens, putting food up, cultivating old timey skills, or starting local currencies and barter, doomers have a lot of nifty projects going, projects that will, in a pinch, come very handy. They are learning and sharing skills and ways of being useful at any time life must pull back and decomplexify… and it looks like that time is now…

more here
See also Lentil As Anything, a chain of restaurants in Australia founded on the principle of generosity, where clientèle pay what they can afford or wish to pay, by making a contribution in a “magic box” after their meal here