Wendy Roberts – The Company She Keeps*

Mendocino County

5th District Supervisorial Candidate Wendy Roberts often states that she has always been a Democrat  except for a period when she supported Pete McCloskey, a staunch Republican environmentalist who represented Santa Clara county.  I haven’t heard her explain why supporting McCloskey required her to be a Republican.  Many other Democrats who supported McCloskey did not change party to do so.

The company she keeps makes you wonder.  Last week, Roberts visited the neighborhood where my partner, Bill, and I live.  While in the neighborhood she replaced a smaller sign left from the June primary election (having never removed it, in violation of election law) with a bigger sign that is flanked by two Republican candidates, one for state assembly and the other for the seat held by longtime Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson.  At least one of the Republican signs was there when she directed the placement of her new, larger sign.  No, Roberts, you can’t say you didn’t know.

During the same visit she placed a mailer directly into our mailbox.  She could have placed the mailer in one of our three newspaper boxes, but did not, saving postage but violating federal law, which prohibits placing anything other than stamped mail in mailboxes.

Smart cities are (un)paving the way for urban farms


If some sort of natural disaster or terrorist attack were to shut down New York City’s food supply chain, our supermarket shelves would reportedly be picked clean within three days. Other U.S. cities aren’t any better prepared for such emergencies, thanks to our fuelish dependence on a globalized food system.

So my husband Matt keeps a bin filled with tins of sardines under the bed in our sardine tin-sized Manhattan apartment. Plus two cans of organic vegetarian chili, and a Kelp Krunch sesame energy bar. He’s on a self-sufficiency kick, too; makes his own vanilla extract, sauerkraut, duck rillette, and cat food. I guess we’ll be in pretty good shape if calamity comes a-callin’.

But how will our fellow New Yorkers feed themselves? Will they pluck purslane from the sidewalk cracks? Raid Annie Novak’s rooftop farm? Where will the freegans forage when the dumpsters are as empty as a Palin stump speech?

Jim Houle vs. Ron Epstein: Paved with Good Intentions and Response

Redwood Valley

Ron Epstein’s post Why The Harris Quarry Asphalt Plant Is A Bad Idea, also published in the Ukiah Daily Journal, attempts to explain why he thinks the plan for an asphalt hot mix plant at the Harris Quarry site south of Willits is a really bad idea. The proposal is by Northern Aggregates, a small Willits-based firm in the basalt and crushed stone business for over 20 years with less than $3 million in yearly sales and employing 25 people. Their application for a permit was turned down two years back and has now been scaled back to eliminate the companion ready-mix concrete batch plant and by restricting the life of the plant to 30 year life rather than allowing operation the site until the “end of life” of the quarry, which could be 70 years from now. A new EIR will by ready by October and the public will have 45 days to challenge it before submittal to the Board of Supervisors.

Ron Epstein, getting off the first salvo against this yet unpublished plan argues that there are: (1) serious cancer risks from asphalt fumes; (2) That it would seriously pollute the greater Ukiah area with these carcinogens; (3) That while the original EIR concluded that health and odor were insignificant, it did not take into account the volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Why We’re Scared Of Happy Meals


It’s pretty much conventional wisdom that you don’t head to McDonald’s for a healthy treat. And, if you’ve seen Fast Food Nation, you’ll know that the chain’s offerings have got a whole lot of icky ingredients. Though we don’t really like to think about that while munching on a Big Mac, NYC artist Sally Davies did, creating an art project that provides evidence that Mickey D’s food really is the worst shiz you can put in your body. Davies took a Happy Meal sized burger and fries, put it on her living room table, and as Bravo says, decided to “watch what happens.” She photographs said meal every day, and 137 days into the project (with no end in site), the results are remarkable in the fact that they’re really unremarkable. To our eyes, the burger and fries look exactly on the same on day 1 as on day 137. Hungry yet?

Slideshow here

Money vs fossil energy: the battle for control of the world

Co-Originator, Permaculture
Thanks to Bart Anderson, Energy Bulletin

This essay provides a framework for understanding the ideological roots of the current global crisis that I believe is more useful than the now tired Left Right political spectrum. I use this framework to provide a commentary on current political machinations around Climate Change and Peak Oil. Building from the same energetic literacy that informs Permaculture and Future Scenarios, it challenges much of the strategic logic behind current mainstream climate change activism. Like the Future Scenarios work, this essay is intended to help environmental and social activists better avoid the obstacles to effective action in a chaotic age.

David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of the permaculture concept. He lives with his partner Su Dennett at Melliodora, a permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn, Central Victoria.

The unfolding climate/energy/economic crisis is heating up a very old rift in global industrial politics. This rift derives from two core beliefs on what constitutes the source of wealth. Does wealth come from human creativity and innovation or is it found in the natural world? Is human capacity the source or a by-product of real power?

I believe two alternative (and mostly complementary) paradigms that are implied by these questions, have shaped the history of the modern world perhaps more so than the Left-Right political ideologies.

Abe Lincoln and Dr. King could only look on aghast at this clown


America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure. On the anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants — Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more representative of this nation?

Consider a brief sampling of their rhetoric.

Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

King: “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter.”

Beck: “I think the president is a racist.”

Washington was on edge on the morning of Aug. 28, 1963. The day was sunny and very warm and Negroes, as we were called in those days, were coming into town by the tens of thousands. The sale of liquor was banned. Troops stood by to restore order if matters got out of control. President John F. Kennedy waited anxiously in the White House to see how the day would unfold.

It unfolded splendidly. The crowd for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” grew to some 250,000. Nearly a quarter of the marchers were white. They gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where they were enthralled by the singing of Mahalia Jackson and Joan Baez.

Mendocino County Supervisor Election: The crucial differences between Dan Hamburg and Wendy Roberts

Vote Hamburg District 5 Supervisor

In the aftermath of my debate with Wendy Roberts for Ukiah Valley TV (to be broadcast on MCTV), I want to describe what I see as the difference between your two candidates for supervisor.  Wendy is a self-described “Stanford liberal.”  As such, she doesn’t deeply question corporate prerogatives, often repeating the contention that “they’re all good people.”  She describes the MLPAI in this vein, insisting that the Resources Legacy Foundation Fund (funded by the family charities of Intel, Getty, Packard, etc.) has no particular agenda when it comes to the disposition of our coast.  She believes that the placement of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, chief operating officer and chief of staff for the Western States Petroleum Association, on the Task Force making decisions for us raises no particular concern.  On other issues–from the privatization of county solid waste disposal to the increasing loss of agricultural land to outside real estate investment trusts–she voices support or raises no loud objection.

Todd Walton: Revenooers


“What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.” Thomas Paine

A mile inland from Highway One, the Comptche-Ukiah Road becomes a two-mile straightaway traversing rolling hills of pine and huckleberry and manzanita. There are no speed limit signs on this straightaway, no reminders of the legal maximum, and this absence of warnings combined with the sudden end to constrictive curves at either end of the straightaway tempts many a driver to go really fast.

The house we rent is set back a hundred yards from the straightaway, the sounds of passing cars and motorcycles muffled by intervening trees, with traffic after midnight rare. Of late, the California Highway Patrol has been a daily presence on the straightaway, the rise and fall of the road over hill and dale creating a perfect spot mid-straightaway for a CHP vehicle to sit by the side of the road and snag the unwary zoomster. This turnout is invisible from either direction until just before you come upon the gravel outlay, and by then there is simply no denying how fast you’re going.

Support Local Raw Milk


[I’ve been drinking raw milk regularly since childhood, and raised my kids on it. I’m a dedicated imbiber of local, non-pasteurized, raw goat’s milk. Please support your own health, and our local, mom-and-pop, raw dairies. Ain’t nobody’s business if you do. -DS]

What a surprise! “Pseudo” farm organizations like Farm Bureau — an oxymoron — now support Wisconsin Governor Doyle’s veto of a proud bill to legalize raw milk in the Dairy State, all in the name of protecting everyone from … what? The existing centralized, monopolized, industrialized food system is literally owned and operated by a handful of dominating cartels, who in turn, are in bed with agencies such as the FDA. According to the centers for Disease Control, this well-subsidized inner sanctum of a corporate-state food alliance kills 5,000 Americans annually, hospitalizes over 300,000 every year, and sickens at home an estimated millions more.

Take Action, Ukiah: The hidden costs of Wal-Mart’s plans for expansion

Guest Opinion: Robert Eyler

[The Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park wants to expand by 35,000 square feet primarily for the purpose of selling groceries. On April 22, the plan was rejected by the Planning Commission on a 4-0 vote.]

On the surface, the expansion of Rohnert Park’s Wal-Mart into a supercenter is alluring.

This expansion adds a grocery component, and the Rohnert Park’s City Council, which will soon review the plan, will likely focus on the assumed sales tax generation and job creation such an expansion will provide.

It is important to recognize that an expansion of mainly grocery items will not generate a large amount of additional sales tax revenue, and the assumed loss of Pacific Market could lead to fewer jobs, reduced tax revenues, less consumer choice and create a significant vacancy problem at Mountain Shadows Plaza.

The issue for Rohnert Park decision makers is whether the environmental impact report has adequately assessed the cost/benefits of this expansion. Our evaluation shows there will be many hidden costs.

A New Deal for Local Economies: The Good News

Story here

A New Deal for Local Economies: II. The Birth of Corporations
A New Deal for Local Economies: III. Bigger Is Not Better
A New Deal for Local Economies: IV. The Value of Community
A New Deal for Local Economies: V. Keeping Money Local

Let me begin by sharing some good news. Scattered here and there, in my country and in yours, the seeds of a new, more local and durable economy are taking root.

Locally grown food has soared in popularity. There are now 5,274 active farmers markets in the United States. Remarkably, almost one of every two of these markets was started within the last decade.(1)  Food co-ops and neighborhood greengrocers are likewise on the rise.

Some 400 new independent bookstores have opened in the last four years.(2) Neighborhood hardware stores are making a comeback in some cities. More students graduating from pharmacy school report that they would rather open their own drugstore than work for chain. In April, even as Virgin Megastores prepared to shutter its last U.S. record emporium, more than a thousand independent music stores were mobbed for the second annual Record Store Day.

Small Business News from the New Rules Project


Misrepresenting Small Business
In this commentary for Business Week, the New Rules Project’s Stacy Mitchell argues that the two groups that have traditionally spoken for small business in Washington often push an agenda that only big business could love . READ MORE

Grassroots Financing is Underwriting a New Crop of Neighborhood Businesses
Securing a loan to open a new independent bookstore in Brooklyn looked like a long shot even before the financial crisis. After the meltdown, it seemed downright impossible.

Then business partners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting hit on an idea: they turned to neighbors and future customers to help finance the business, raising $70,000 in small loans in a few months.

Although no hard data exist, the number of businesses relying on their customers and neighbors for financing appears to be on the rise. Just as CSAs have played a key role in the rebirth of small-scale farms, so too may these new community-supported enterprise models help launch a new generation of independent grocers, bookstores, and other neighborhood businesses.   READ MORE

Shut Up and Eat Your Sugar

Story here

Manufacturers of processed and fast food for kids are throwing a fit over stronger industry standards

OK, children, homework time.

Let’s see if we can handle this little lesson in logic. One, America has a rather huge child obesity problem. Two, major food corporations constantly pitch ads to children for such stuff as sugar-saturated breakfast cereals and fat-laden “Happy Meals.” So, how does fact No. 2 relate to fact No. 1? Yes, No. 2 is a cause of No. 1. It’s really not that hard to grasp, is it?

Not unless you’re a lobbyist for a food manufacturer. Last year, Congress directed four federal agencies to work together on new standards for commercials that food giants run on cartoon shows and other TV programs for children. This intervention was necessary, because the industry’s own voluntary program to push healthy choices for kids was, at best, loosey-goosey. For example, such sugar bombs as Kellogg’s Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes were nutritionally A-OK by industry standards–as was a candy named Yogos, the main ingredient of which is sugar.

So, the agencies came up with nutritional requirements that were at least strict enough to prevent the marketing of candy as a healthy food. Ah, progress! But–oh, mercy–the howl of pain from industry lobbyists was piercing. One shrieked that the new proposal “would virtually end all food advertising

Book Review: Star Island, Carl Hiaasen

Review here

An expert fisherman and passionate environmentalist, Hiaasen uses a sunny combination of satire and outrage to expose the greedy, crooked creeps that make Florida such a weird place. He’s been doing it as a reporter and columnist for the Miami Herald for almost 35 years and has brought his wicked wit and true moral compass to a series of popular novels. Success hasn’t softened his sharp eye or caused him to pull his punches (although he did write a humorous golf book). Like John Grisha and Stephen King, Hiaasen uses his fame to speak up for what he believes and supports worthy causes. He is one of the good guys.

He’s also a brand-name author. The golf book and an enthusiastically received trio of young-adult novels have moved Hiaasen from slapsticky, mildly raunchy crime novelist to Big Time Author. Star Island, his new novel, is his first for adults in five years. It has all the usual Hiaasen elements — a sleazy developer, a level-headed heroine, a collection of lowlifes that makes the criminals in an Elmore Leonard novel look brainy, and a contemporary subject (in this case, celebrity culture) ripe for the satirical picking.

Star Island also has two recurring characters who are fan favorites: Skink, the touchy, roadkill-gobbling ex-governor of Florida; and Chemo, a former bouncer in a punk club who had a weed wacker attached to one arm after a too-close encounter with a barracuda in Skin Tight.

What about the founding principles?


To the Editor (UDJ):

Wait a minute, hold on a second here. Last time I got out of bed in the morning I was living in the United States of America, a land that was settled by people seeking freedom from religious persecution. These settlers eventually established a new and independent nation with founding principles stated in a written Constitution, and this written Constitution established religious freedom as its very first principle.

In fact this principle of religious freedom was stated in two different but complementary ways: First, that no religion could ever be established as the government-approved, government-supported faith, and, second, that no one could be restricted in the exercise of and expression of his or her beliefs.

And now all of a sudden it seems that this great principle, this great step in the history of freedom that we Americans were the first to take, this bold stroke that for 200 years and more has earned the esteem of people all over the world has suddenly fallen into disrepute and no longer interests us.

Politicians running for office and preachers who should know better and fops who act the role of journalist on cable TV are telling us

What’s your gut telling you?


Did you know that nine out of every 10 cells in your body are your intestinal bacteria? When they are healthy and happy, you are healthy and happy. And what makes them happy?

Let’s back up a bit and remember the compost pile. Compost is the source and destination of all life. Shakespeare knew that. The Friar in Romeo & Juliet says, “What’s nature’s mother is her tomb/What is her burying grave, that is her womb.” And what is compost? It’s the decomposed remains of what was once living tissue. And who does the decomposition? Soil bacteria, primarily, although other critters get in on the act, too. But it’s the soil bacteria that play the biggest role in actively decomposing organic matter.

Many of the soil bacteria that are the wrecking crew of dead tissue are the same or closely related to the bacteria in our guts. They have the same function–to actively tear apart dead tissue and release its nutrients for those creatures–plants and animals–currently alive. The atoms are eternal, but are endlessly recycled into living beings and then into dead tissue and then into constituent molecules and then back into living beings.

Now, the greater the biodiversity in an ecosystem, the healthier that ecosystem is. In a compost pile, all kinds of bacteria, fungi, worms, and what have you co-exist in a roaring furnace of life.

Seven Tips to Enhance Digestion… And Get the Most Out of the Food You Eat

Story here

[“OMG! Dave is doing blog posts about digestion. He has hit geezer status for sure!”]

In our fast-paced, fast-food society we have totally lost the connection between our health and the foods we eat. My recent conversation with a client is a perfect example of this “disconnect.” With his permission he said I could share his story as long as I didn’t mention his name, so we’ll call him Bob. Like most of us, Bob has a very busy schedule. He works long hours, has three children and is very involved in their sports. In fact, he says he rarely misses a game. Bob skips breakfast or sometimes has a donut and coffee, mostly has fast food for lunch and eats it in the car while rushing back to work, has a snack out of the vending machine at work in the afternoon, and usually grabs a hot dog or something quick at the game for dinner. Bob’s symptoms include indigestion, “acid reflux,” gas, bloating, constipation, and painful hemorrhoids. He says that he practically lives on antacids and even wakes up to take them two or three times during the night. He went to the emergency room on two occasions for severe gallbladder attacks and had his gallbladder removed two years ago. The biggest problem with Bob is that he never made the connection between the foods he was eating,

The Foods You Shouldn’t Touch With a Ten Foot Pole

Story here

[…] the importance of eating a gut-healthy diet cannot be overestimated. Your gut plays a major role in your physical and even mental health, and having a healthy gut entails maintaining a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria – something you simply will not accomplish by eating highly processed, “dead” foods.

Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that your digestive system did much of anything outside of breaking down food, but in recent years scientists have revealed just how inaccurate this thinking was.

For example, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut, so supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your number one defense system against ALL disease.

Therefore, it should come as no major surprise to find out that lack of beneficial bacteria in your intestines will also allow allergies, inflammation and autoimmune diseases to flourish where they might not otherwise.

Common signs and symptoms that you may need to address your intestinal balance include:

Engaging ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids’ Will Help Children Understand the Food They Eat

Review here

Just about everyone has eaten something that comes from a crop doused with pesticides so toxic that no one is allowed in the field for five days after it is sprayed. Or that must be stored for six months after harvest to allow the pesticides to fade.  What crop is it? Learn that and so much more in the Young Readers Edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Dial Books) by Michael Pollan, adapted by Richie Chevat.  Based on Pollan’s adult book of the same title, the new version is simplified and updated, contains informative side notes and visuals and concludes with a new afterward, eating tips, a question and answer section and empowering resources. Though intended for ages 10 and up, Pollan’s detective work, substantive content and eloquent writing will engage readers of all ages interested in food production.

To solve the modern “omnivore’s dilemma” (we can eat anything, but how do we know what to eat?), Pollan investigates four meals representative of four different food chains – the system for growing, making and delivery food. He wants to share with us where our food comes from and what exactly it is we are eating. So, he starts in the farms and fields where our food is grown and personably chronicles its creation and consumption.

First, Pollan documents the “industrial” food chain,

Tea Partiers: Stooges for Oil Billionaires


On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum,

Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran

Redwood Valley

After several years of nuclear weapons-rattling by Israel, threatening Iran with total or at least partial devastation should they move any closer to producing weapons grade or even fuel grade enriched uranium, we may be seeing a pull back by the Netanyahu government. “The Obama Administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran’s nuclear program, is trying to persuade Israel that it would take roughly a year and perhaps longer – for Iran to complete what one senior official called ‘a dash’ for nuclear weapons. “One year is a very long time”, the official, Gary Samore, reassured us (NYTimes 8/17/10).

Anxious to convince America to join in their proposed attack, Israel had planted stories in the Times of London and elsewhere that they already had two nuclear-armed submarines in the Persian Gulf; that they had flight clearance to attack through Saudi Arabia; and were even setting up a resupply and refueling base someplace in the Arabian desert. And then, our former UN Ambassador John Bolton warned just last week that we had only an eight-day window in which to bomb the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant before Iran was capable of recovering plutonium from the spent fuel rods in the two newly commissioned reactors. To bomb Bushehr any later would risk irradiating thousands of innocent civilians, said Bolton, exhibiting what seemed like a new level of humanitarian concern from this normally rabid war monger.

Book Review: ‘Let’s Take the Long Way Home’

The Washington Post
Review here

You can shelve “Let’s Take the Long Way Home,” Gail Caldwell’s beautifully written book about the best friend she lost to cancer in 2002, next to “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Joan Didion’s searing memoir about losing her husband to heart failure. But that’s assuming it makes it to your shelf: This is a book you’ll want to share with your own “necessary pillars of life,” as Caldwell refers to her nearest and dearest.

What’s the draw in reading about “unspeakable sorrow”? Well, despite Caldwell’s assertion that “the only education in grief that any of us ever gets is a crash course,” sensitive portraits of love and loss stir our nobler, empathic feelings, reminding us of our possibilities — and realities — as human beings.

Actually, Caldwell’s book is more heartwarming than devastating. It’s about the joys of friendship as much as the ravages of “intolerable loss.” She evokes the sort of soul mate most of us yearn for. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic for the Boston Globe, Caldwell writes of meeting Caroline Knapp, a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, in the mid-1990s: “Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived.”

They certainly had a lot in common: Both writers were exercise fanatics who were single by choice and temperament and worked at home.

Bruce Patterson: Learning the ropes — Why I quit gambling, part 2

Anderson Valley

[Why I quit Gambling: part 1 here]
When I was a little boy I heard on the radio an Okie ballad I’ll never forget. It was about a no-count hobo who used a dog-eared deck of cards to preach Gospel. A highfalutin sort of numerology, the lyrics were, with Biblical significance attached to 4, 13, 52 and 1 through 10. Add the symbolism of ranks, suits, jacks, queens, kings and, by golly, in a deck of cards you could find Chapter and Verse.

And that goes to show that, if you reach long and hard enough, you can make a finger-painting into a map of the world, a bowl of Cheerios into a star-chart, an array of tossed bleached vertebrae into a crystal ball. The ability to make nonsense of experience, to find chaos in order, impose want and fear on reality and see personal affirmations everywhere—how human is that? Whether the game is checkers or chess, love or war, everything is as deep as you wish to take it. Even though we are suckers for answers, our lives begin, and end, with questions.

Einstein wrote that “a sense of mystery is the source of both science and religion.” The mystery begins at birth and ends in old age, this sense of awe and uneasiness, discovery and exile, being a part and apart, everything and nothing and never finished until, alas, we are: poof.

When I returned from combat I felt like I’d been gutted and that whatever was left of me I’d have to get to re-know.

Why the Harris Quarry Asphalt Plant is a bad idea

Coming Soon to Ukiah: A return engagement of “Breathe If You Dare”
(We’ve seen this movie before…)


The Harris Quarry Asphalt Batch Plant proposal is once again before the Planning Commission, and a new EIR is in the works. The project was a bad idea the first time around, and it is still a bad idea.

I am surprised that the past and recent discussions about Harris Quarry Asphalt Batch Plant proposal have not seriously considered the significant cancer risks involved. Asphalt fumes include known carcinogens. The asphalt plant proposed by Northern Aggregates, which would be located off Black Bart Drive, would seriously pollute the greater Ukiah area, which is downwind, with those carcinogens. Men in this country have a one in two chance of getting cancer during their lifetimes. Women have a one in three chance. About 80% of cancers are environmentally caused. In assessing the danger of the carcinogens from the proposed asphalt plant, we need to remember that the effect of carcinogens on our bodies is cumulative. Even small doses of carcinogens accumulate in our cells and can combine with other carcinogens to create a risk which is greater than the sum of the individual risks. I believe that both our supervisors and the members of the planning commission are all concerned about the health of people in the county. For that reason, they need to be very careful not to approve projects that will cause more cancer deaths in our community.

New in town


I moved into town six weeks ago. My commute to work went from 10 miles to one and I’ve barely driven my car since. Work, groceries, friends…. Everything is less than two miles away and walking or biking is easy. What an incredible blessing.

At eight miles an hour, a very easy pace on a bike, it takes me about 8 minutes to travel the one mile to work. So I might save three minutes by driving my car, but there’s no “joy factor” to the car drive.

On the bike everything seems more to scale. I see friends, smell stuff (not always flowery – but I get to smell), hear the mockingbirds go through their cadenzas and feel the cool breeze in the morning and the dry heat of the sun on the way home. I’ve discovered new (to me) back streets and hidden glimpses of our community that go unnoticed in my car.

My life has slowed, if only for those few minutes of riding my bike to and fro.

On my way to work I’ve had friends drive along beside me to chat or tell me about an upcoming event. I’ve wanted to say (but just hoped they might notice) “wouldn’t this be easier  – and more pleasant – if you were on a bike too?” Can you imagine someone trying to chat with you as you both drove your cars down the road? Too scary.

Cars are dangerous. It’s so obvious and common we don’t notice it much. Pedestrians and bicyclists are hurt on the roads out of proportion to their numbers. Overall, it’s still safe, we just get hurt more than we should –

Todd Walton: Psychic Leeches

Anderson Valley

“The truth is not ashamed of appearing contrived.” Isaac Bashevis Singer

The other night I caught the last twenty minutes of a spiritual talk show. My initial positive reaction to the guest speaker morphed into disaffection when I realized he was one of those guru types who believes he knows everything and nobody else has a clue. He also had zero detectable sense of humor, which always makes me wary, even when someone is talking about the collapse of the global ecosystem, which is what he was talking about, among other things. Then he said something about alien abductions and aliens invading earth disguised as humans in order to take over the planet and wipe out all the Homo sapiens because we’re destroying the earth and these beings from other planets want Earth intact because she’s such a rare and groovy planet in the vastness of space.

Alien takeovers are not my cup of tea, so I turned off the radio. I wanted to dismiss the guy as a wacko, but instead recalled a passage from Carlos Castaneda’s posthumously published book The Active Side of Infinity, which I recommend as a novel if you can’t buy it as a memoir, and who knows, maybe it is the truth. No matter. The passage I recalled was of Don Juan giving Castaneda a glimpse of a huge slug-like alien that had, indeed, invaded the earth and feeds on stress-induced human emotions, notably fear and sorrow and rage and anxiety.

And that reminded me

Don Sanderson: Notice to Democrats


I get a stream of fundraising mailers and requests for support from Democrats. In each return envelope, I’m enclosing the following and only that…

To those Democratic Party organizations seeking my support:
I’m a registered Democrat, mostly it seems because I’m surely not a Republican. However, in the last election, I voted for Ralph Nader. Obama had already demonstrated the way his presidency would behave by selecting a corporate hack for vice president, a Zionist for chief of staff, and an advocate of American power for secretary of state. I’m fed up. I don’t expect to ever, ever, vote for a Democrat again, nor certainly a Republican, until the following steps are taken:

• Give EPA and NOAA strict “clean air act” and other environmental clubs over those industries generating greenhouse gasses. Don’t waste time with cap and trade, which is another way to say bait and switch. Global warming is real and the latest climate statistics are horrendous. There is no time to waste.

• Give EPA and NOAA strict environmental control over oil drilling, coal mining, and the excessive use of agricultural fertilizers. Put a stop this irremediable wasting of the irreplaceable Earth.

UC study links pesticide exposure to ADHD

From Los Angeles Times
Story here

[Is this a problem in Mendocino County? Do we have any data? Is anyone investigating? We need to protect our children. ~Ron Epstein, Ukiah]

A new study from UC Berkeley of children in the Salinas Valley adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that exposure to organophosphate pesticides is a prime cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The study, reported Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, examines the effects of both prenatal and childhood exposure to the pesticides, which are widely used in the United States to control insects on food crops.

UC Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi and her colleagues have been studying more than 300 Mexican American children living in the heavily agricultural Salinas Valley.

Because they live in a farming community, the children are more likely than others to be exposed

Focaccia: Easier than expected, tastier than you knew

Story here

Light-textured, shiny with olive oil, and creamy-flavored, this complex bread only seems complicated to make

OK, so it’s not true that I’ve never baked before. Despite my fears, I’ve tried at various points to exorcise myself of my dough timidity, and once even scaled the Great Focaccia Mountain and turned out a few decent rounds. They had all the things you’d want in focaccia — a tender, light crumb, a thin pliant crust that crisped with a nudge in the toaster, and a rich flavor of olive oil. It was great, exciting and … totally lost to me after I made it, because I only did it once and tried to sneak away while I was batting 1.000.

But in baking school, kneading my way through literally dozens of loaves of bread, I felt myself growing more comfortable with doughs of all sorts, increasing in difficulty from the 1-2-and-done loaves of Irish brown soda bread to the tough-but-fair mass of bagels to incredibly sticky, challenging gloops that wanted to glue themselves to my hands, my workbench, my neighbor’s hair. Midway through Day 3, by the time we got to the school’s quick, straightforward recipe for focaccia, it felt like a vacation. It turns out that my Great Focaccia Mountain is actually more like a quaint little hill, but who says things need to be hard to be great?…

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Dave Smith: Congestion? What congestion?


To the Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal

Referring to your front page article (UDJ 8/19) “Businessmen suggest Brush St. for courthouse”, I smell a rat. Quote: “Two Ukiah businessmen are suggesting a location for the new Mendocino County Courthouse they say would significantly reduce downtown congestion…” Well, one man’s “congestion” is another man’s vital traffic where his business was positioned years ago to take advantage of “location, location, location” as the Real Estate brokers continuously crow.

Our core downtown is a vital part of this community, and much of its survival as a downtown depends on the courthouse. Moving it a couple of blocks away would help maintain our downtown businesses. Moving it to property on Brush Street will help kill the downtown.

Congestion? Take a trip to the Bay Area. That’s congestion! Other than some mild backups in the morning and late afternoon when businesses are opening and closing, there is no congestion to speak of. The noon lunch rush is what we small downtown businesses live on. That’s called livelihood, not congestion.

No, it’s obvious this is about a property owner’s self-interest against the community’s interest in having a vital downtown, and downtown business owners’ self-interests, not about congestion.

And, oh yeah, these two guys, Mayfield and Selzer, pushed the Masonite Mall by talking about how much new business would be brought to downtown Ukiah. Phony balony!

Keep the courthouse near downtown, and brush-off any suggestions that Brush Street might be a better choice.

Sheilah Rogers: Rural Matters

Westside Renaissance Market, Ukiah

Redwood Valley

The Rural Microbusiness Investment Credit has been introduced in the House (H.R.5990) and as an amendment to the U.S. Senate Small Business Jobs Bill and will build on the Rural Entrepreneur Assistance Program in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Microenterprise is always a critical source of employment in most rural areas, but it is especially critical during a recession. During our last recession, between 2000 and 2003, employment grew in microenterprises while growing slowly or falling for larger employers. Nationwide employment grew in microenterprise 9.17% while falling 1.8% in larger firms.

Microbusinesses, particularly under-capitalized rural ventures, have always faced significant barriers securing financing from traditional banks and the increasing competition for limited credit is hitting microentrepreneurs particularly hard. As conventional bank lenders pull back on their small businesses lending entrepreneurs are forced to look for alternative sources of financing.

The Rural Microbusiness Investment Credit (RMIC) is designed to generate investment in both startup and expanding rural microbusinesses by providing a federal tax incentive, in the form of a 35 percent tax credit, to entrepreneurs who invest in their businesses. Beginning farmers and ranchers are also eligible.

Thank God Global Warming is a Hoax


I mean, right? You know? Because gosh Jesus in angry apocalyptic heaven, wouldn’t it be just terrible if it were all true?

Wouldn’t it be horrible if all this stunning, insanely mounting, irrefutable evidence — death, floods, fires, heat waves, the worst this and the most violent that in 1,000 years — were some sort of surefire, cumulative sign that we have, if not directly caused, then wildly accelerated and amplified the imminent implosion of this planet?

But we didn’t! And we haven’t! And we aren’t! I mean, whew.

I am delighted to remember that hardcore science has lied, misguided, misnomered and whatever else weird science does to confuse the world about the real impact humanity has had on global ecosystems. All those thousands of highly trained scientists educated at the finest universities, learning the most difficult and fraught information of our age, all in universal agreement that humankind’s actions directly affect climate change, and they are all totally full of it because they are clearly in cahoots with Nazi Liberal Jesus, the solar panel manufacturers and the hippies who want me to compost my KFC Double Down wrapper.

Gene Logsdon: Throwing Away Billions of Dollars In Pet Manure

Upper Sandusky, Ohio

Not until I was well into writing my new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind, which is about  how to manage manure for soil enrichment, did I realize that cats, dogs and horses are a very significant source of valuable fertilizer that we are mostly throwing away. Or, as our friends’ cat, Django, indicates in the photo above, flushing it down the toilet. Until I got to know Django, my attention was focused on farm animal manure and human manure.  I was really surprised to find out how much feces, urine, and litter that pets were adding to our overflowing waste stream, let alone realize that cats were learning how to use the flush toilet.

Instead of wringing hands over the problems of livestock manure, the non-farm sector of society might first want to take a closer look at its own problem: manure from pet cats, dogs, and recreational horses— animals that have little or nothing to do with putting food on anyone’s table. According to recent statistics, there are 73 million pet cats in the United States in addition to an equal number of feral cats roaming the alleys and fields (and killing millions of songbirds)…

Full story here.

Michael Laybourn: Scientific Establishment Finally Recognizing Organic Farming


Good news for the day. The mainstream’s science experts have once again proved those ‘organic people’ correct.

Take note Mendocino County farmers: many of you are ahead of the game and are doing the right thing. Some are beginning to do the right thing. Organic. Sustainable.

Seed monopolies, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are not good for the earth and not good farming. Industrialized agriculture is the wrong way.

The influential National Research Council’s new report criticizes industrial agriculture’s style of farming, essentially saying farming must get more sustainable. Julia Kornegay, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and professor and head of the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. Noted, “If farmers are going to meet future demands, the U.S. agriculture system has to evolve to become sustainable and think broadly — past the bottom line of producing the most possible.”

The following article by Andrew Gunther on Huffpost show why this is a major step towards good farming:

Book Review: Timely sustainable guidance from Japan’s Edo period

From SFGate
Thanks to Grant Studacker

Some 200 years ago, a community in Japan faced many of the same problems that confront us today – shortages of energy, water, materials and food along with overpopulation. And the thoughtful solutions devised by the 30 million people who lived in what is now the city of Tokyo during the late Edo period (1603-1868) provide practical inspiration for what might be achieved today…

Sustainability lessons

Micro-economies result in better service: Patronize local suppliers, cut out long-distance transport and build relationships within the local economy.

Build homes that are inspirational: Surround yourself with things that remind you of who you are.

Show restraint: Don’t have a house that’s bigger than necessary. Azby Brown recommends reading “The Not so Big House” by Sarah Susanka (Taunton Press; 2001).

Think sustainable: Use natural cooling, renewable and recycled materials, gray-water systems, handcrafted home accessories.

Eat Troll-Caught North Pacific Albacore Tuna


This fish is good for you, plentiful, and delicious

[…] With qualities to win over the health-conscious, the food-loving gourmet types, and the environmentalists, albacore should be more widely eaten. Here’s my list of reasons to put albacore on the menu.

1. Troll-caught albacore are good for your conscience. The Monterey Bay Aquarium rates troll-caught albacore from the U.S. and Canada as a “best choice” for consumers. (Incidentally, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch pocket guide for consumers is now available for iPhones and other smart phones.)

2. Troll-caught albacore are good for your health. In May of this year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium ranked troll-caught albacore from the U.S. and British Columbia as among “the best of the best” on its Super Green List, which evaluates seafood choices according to their omega-3 content and lack of environmental contaminants, including mercury and PCBs. With mercury, the size of the fish matters. Troll-caught albacore is younger and therefore smaller — less than 30 pounds per fish — with resulting lower concentrations of mercury.