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.

Wendell Berry and the Great Economy

Place. Limits. Liberty.

[…] Berry is right to use soil as the example, since peak soil rather than peak oil may turn out to be our greatest problem. We can learn to do without oil, but not without soil. Topsoil is disappearing at an alarming rate, and not being replaced; the law of return is being violated. Further, the soil that remains is being poisoned with toxic chemicals, which then leach into the groundwater. Indeed, some forms of industrial farming use soil only as something to hold the roots and not as a real source of life or nutrients; they would replace it with styrofoam or some other dead substance if they could. This violation of the law of return means that “[t]he industrial economy is based on invasion and pillage of the Great Economy.”

This pillage reduces the Great Economy to “raw materials” which have only a price, not a principle that needs to be conserved. The price is set by the cult of competition, whose main sentimental tenet is

Deflation and You: A Guide to Understanding this Peculiar Economic Model


I just wanted to share a little bit about deflation. Deflation is when the combined amount of money and credit in an economic system is shrinking, and the velocity of money is stagnant or drops.

Once deflation begins, it is self reinforcing. To see how this works, first think of your own recent spending decisions.

If you are like me, your spending behavior and patterns have probably changed quite a bit since the housing bubble started to bust, and especially since the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its all time high on October 11, 2007 and then started its wild ride down.

Before you begin to think about your spending behavior, though, one thing must be understood: Money is created by people when they take out loans. People offer up an asset or a promise, which the bank takes and files, and then the bank simply increases the number in their account. That is all there is to it. This might be hard to accept at first, but this is simply how it works in this economic model.

The amount of coins and dollar bills in the economy are a very, very small fraction of the total amount of money out there.

Stop the BS! Garbage Privitizing Will Pick Our Pockets For Years To Come

Public Letter from Supes Colfax and Smith

[Pure and simple. If a private company says they can do it cheaper and better than the county, then they are either lying, or we have a failure of county government. -DS]

In summary, we urge the public to insist on a cost benefit analysis of this contract, including the need for a 14 year extension to three hauling contracts. Privatization at any cost is not in the public interest, does not provide consumer protection and will cost residents needlessly for years to come.

On August 17, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will vote to turn five county transfer stations over to a private company. If this contract is approved many county residents will pay more for curbside collection and all residents will see self-haul rates rise at five previously operated county sites. This proposal is harmful, unnecessary and will permanently dismantle a network of transfer stations available to County residents for decades. We feel compelled to alert the public to how their pockets are about to be picked.

We have no philosophical objection to privatization of government work if it can be proven that it saves money

Book Excerpt: The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler

Author, The Long Emergency

The Witch of Hebron
is the sequel to World Made By Hand, a story of the post-oil American future. It is set in and around the town of Union Grove, Washington County, New York. The time is several months after the action in the first book, the week before Halloween.

This excerpt concerns Stephen Bullock, the wealthy landowner whose plantation is home to dozens of people whose lives and livelihoods had gone adrift in the collapse of the American economy.

Mr. Bullock Meets the Enemy

The last thing Stephen Bullock did before bedtime, in his capacity as town magistrate, was to sign a warrant directing Doctor Jeremy Copeland to exhume and examine the body of Shawn Watling and report his findings, costs of which, labor included, were to be billed to the town of Union Grove, repayable in up to four dollars silver coin. He gave the folded and sealed document to his chore-man, Roger Lippy, for delivery in person the following morning…

more here

Hey Media! Social Security IS NOT an ‘ENTITLEMENT’ program! Stop calling it one!

From around the web

An entitlement is defined by Websters as:

  1. the state or condition of being entitled, a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
  2. a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also, funds supporting or distributed by such a program
  3. belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

But, does this definition apply to social security? For your whole work life you are required to pay in 6.2% of your gross income into social security. Your employer is required to match that amount. So 12.2% of your gross income is put away for your retirement (kind of).

Getting your own money back does not seem like an entitlement program to me by Websters definition. Also, aside from federal employees we are all required to pay into the system, making the “specified group” quite large indeed.

Lately there isn’t a month that goes by without hearing something bad about Social Security. We’ve all heard the bad news… “It’s going bankrupt”…It’s going to bankrupt the country”…”It should be privatized” …and the worst of all…It’s an entitlement program”. Well, it’s high time to set the record straight on one count anyway!

Todd Walton: Getting Well

Anderson Valley

“Programming our intelligence with illusion and fantasy of there’s something wrong with us and enough isn’t enough and too much isn’t too much then turning us loose on ourselves and the world.” John Trudell

My folks are no longer alive, but the shame I feel for doing what I love still surfaces now and then to remind me of how terribly jealous my father was of his own children and how angry my mother was about having her creative ambitions so painfully thwarted. The famous quote by Carl Jung, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on children than the unlived life of the parent,” elucidates a big part of my mother’s influence on me, while Jennifer James sums up my father with, “Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value.”

My parents were relentlessly verbally abusive of me, and on a few terrible occasions my alcoholic father resorted to physical violence that severely injured me. When I was eleven years old, he nearly killed me. I blocked all memory of this most vicious assault until my fortieth year when a vivid movie of the attack emerged from the archives of my memory. Watching that old footage sent me racing into therapy


Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers (1994)

What are the lessons of the universe?

Truth comes from the observation of nature. The Japanese have tried to control nature where they could, as best they could, within the limits of available technology. But there was little they could do about the weather — hot and humid summers, cold and dry winters, and rain on the average of one out of every three days throughout the year, except during the rainy season in early summer when everything is engulfed in a fine wet mist for six to eight weeks. And there was little they could do about the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, fires, and tidal waves that periodically and unpredictably visited their land. The Japanese didn’t particularly trust nature, but they learned from it. Three of the most obvious lessons gleaned from millennia of contact with nature (and leavened with Taosit thought) were incorporated into the wisdom of wabi-sabi.

1. All things are impermanent. The inclination toward nothingness is unrelenting and universal. Even things that have all the earmarks of substance — things that are hard, inert, solid — present nothing more than the illusion of permanence. We may wear blinders, use ruses to forget, ignore, or pretend otherwise — but all comes to nothing in the end.

The rich are different from you and me…

…they are more selfish.
(also see chart at the end of article)

Thanks to Ron Epstein

Life at the bottom is nasty, brutish and short. For this reason, heartless folk might assume that people in the lower social classes will be more self-interested and less inclined to consider the welfare of others than upper-class individuals, who can afford a certain noblesse oblige. A recent study, however, challenges this idea. Experiments by Paul Piff and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, reported this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest precisely the opposite. It is the poor, not the rich, who are inclined to charity.

In their first experiment, Dr Piff and his team recruited 115 people. To start with, these volunteers were asked to engage in a series of bogus activities, in order to create a misleading impression of the purpose of the research. Eventually, each was told he had been paired with an anonymous partner seated in a different room. Participants were given ten credits and advised that their task was to decide how many of these credits they wanted to keep for themselves and how many (if any) they wished to transfer to their partner. They were also told that the credits they had

Vegetarian Corn Chowder


In late June, just as fresh sweet corn was coming into season, Patricia Williams, the 57-year-old executive chef at New York’s Smoke Jazz & Supper Club-Lounge, created a light, delicious corn chowder that is very simple to make. “I go by the season first, start with one ingredient, and then build up the flavor,” she said.

The base of the soup is a naturally sweet, thin corn stock, made from the cob and one, diced onion. While the stock simmers, she slowly sautées a second diced onion, so as not to take on any color. Then she sautées the kernels, adds the strained broth and cream, and simmers the soup. Toward the end, she pours half the soup in a blender, then returns it to the pot for a final minute of reheating. The pale soup, speckled by the whole corn kernels, is deceptive. It is thin, yet deeply flavored. It is a soup to be made now, while corn is at its sweetest.

Recipe here.

See also Corn Muffins

Mendocino County: Take Action! Stop The Garbage Grab! It’s A Stinker!

Potter Valley

[Despite the light-hearted image above, this is very serious business. Instead of doing the job they were elected to do — overseeing and controlling basic public services in an efficient and cost-conscious manner — a majority of the Board of Supervisors, taking the lazy way out, is giving the job away to profiteers, guaranteeing higher rates, lower quality of service, and loss of democratic control. This is rank betrayal of the public trust which must be stopped dead in its tracks. -DS]

The emerging three vote majority of the Board of Supervisors, acting like a bunch of Tea Party fanatics, are rushing ahead to hand over 5 of the county’s solid waste transfer stations to a private corporation in a no-bid 14-year contract.

The dirty deal is set for a vote on August 17.

The right-wing majority — John Pinches, Carre Brown, and John McCowen — are willing to give almost anything that’s demanded by Solid Wastes of Willits, a corporation that was recently caught violating its existing franchise contracts with Mendocino County and overcharging customers by about $60,000.

Rosalind Peterson: Defending Our Agriculture

Redwood Valley

In 2006, an organization called the Agriculture Defense Coalition was founded in order to bring many current issues and legislation to public attention. It has taken two years of hard work to create this website and categorize the data you will find on a wide variety of subjects.

The Agriculture Defense Coalition is dedicated to protecting agriculture, our water supplies, trees, and pollinators from a wide variety of experimental weather modification and atmospheric testing programs and experiments.

These experimental programs will cause a decline in agriculture crop production, exacerbate declines in tree health, and add toxic chemicals to our water supplies and soils. The results of many of these experiments will be long-lasting and will affect trees, birds, mammals, fish, watersheds, pollinators, crop production, rivers and streams.

In the United States anyone may modify or mitigate your weather or climate without your consent. Any government agency, the military, state, county, city, private corporation, weather modification company or individual can modify your weather at any time. No public notification is required other than to report these programs to the United States Interior Department, NOAA. However, it has been learned that many programs are not reported to NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration).

Winterizing: 19 Ways To Make Your Home Feel Warmer Without Turning Up The Heat


Winterize your home on the cheap (and get $1,500 from the government to help) with these simple tips

See slide show with explanations here

1. Dodge the drafts
2. Change furnace filters
3. Run fans in reverse
4. Winterize your A/C and water lines
5. Turn down your water heater
6. Install storm doors and windows
7. Give your heating system a tune-up
8. Mind that thermostat
9. Put up some plastic
10. Use an energy monitor
11. Use caulking and weatherstripping
12. Put on a sweater
13. Boost insulation
14. Insulate your pipes
15. Seal those ducts
16. Take advantage of tax credits
17. Choose the right contractor
18. Get creative and go alternative
19. Upgrade to an efficient furnace


Seth Godin: New times demand new words, because the old words don’t help us see the world differently


[This is current “marketing-speak” if that’s your thing… -DS]

[…] Here, with plenty of links, are 26 of my favorite neologisms… a post-industrial A to Z:

A is for Artist: An artist is someone who brings humanity to a problem, who changes someone else for the better, who does work that can’t be written down in a manual. Art is not about oil painting, it’s about bringing creativity and insight to work, instead of choosing to be a compliant cog. (from Linchpin).

B is for Bootstrapper: A bootstrapper is someone who starts a business with no money and funds growth through growth. The internet has made bootstrapping much easier than ever, because the costs of creating and marketing remarkable things are cheaper than ever. It’s really important not to act like you’re well-funded if you’re intent on bootstrapping (and vice versa). You can read the Bootstrapper’s Bible for free.

C is for Choice: I didn’t coin the term the Long Tail, but I wish I had. It describes a simple law: given the choice, people will take the choice. That means that digital commerce enables niches. Aggregating and enabling the long tail accounts for the success of eBay, iTunes, Amazon, Craigslist, Google and even match.com.

D is for Darwin: Things evolve. But evolution is speeding up (and yes, evolving)…

More here.

David Mas Masumoto: Wisdom of the Last Farmer (Video)


Hailed by The New York Times as “A poet of farming” and the Los Angeles Times as the “Rockstar Farmer” who “uses his farm as Thoreau did his Walden Pond,” David Mas Masumoto weaves together stories of family and farming, life and death to reveal age-old wisdom that is fast disappearing—and urgently needed.

When Slow Food activist David Mas Masumoto’s father has a stroke in the sprawling fields of their farm, the reality of his father’s mortality drives Masumoto to reevaluate the significance and meaning of farming in an information-driven, modern world. As Masumoto nurses his father back to health, and becomes a teacher to the master who had once schooled him, he reclaims the practical and emotional wisdom that they and their ancestors had learned from working the land. Realizing that he himself needs to pass on a wealth of knowledge to the next generation, he writes this impassioned narrative—part memoir, part life instruction—about re-connecting to the land.

GOP Wants Tax Cuts for Wealthy While Localities Drown In Red Ink


Wing-Nut Scapegoating

Lake County

Below article is well worth taking 10 minutes to read.  Good historic perspective (did you know the Texas revolt was instigated to protect New Orleans?).

Can help explain why we are so stymied on the US-Mexico border immigration issue.  Borderlands are not like other areas, and immigration in borderland territory has historically been a de-stabilizing influence to nations since the beginning of nation-states.  Like any nation that has stolen land fair and square, we resent it when folks from the losing side return to the land of their ancestors.

Among the points the below article does not explore:  cynical opportunistic politicians, pundits and talk radio hosts who exploit the issue for personal gain to get into elected office, manipulate markets, or to generate higher ratings which in turn create larger incomes for said radio talk show hosts.

Not to mention that whole scape-goat thing.

Neither Mexico nor Mexican immigrants caused most of the really damaging wounds that have hemorrhaged away America’s economic lifeblood in the past few decades.

  1. Neither Mexico nor Mexican immigrants created the tax breaks for the uber-wealthy, a con-job sold to the American people as “trickle down theory” — most of that wealth went straight into Swiss bank accounts, never to benefit the American economy (but the amount of money those tax breaks gave the uber-wealthy comes close to equaling our current national debt).

Securing Social Security While Increasing Benefits


TAP talks with Rep. Ted Deutch about his plan to save Social Security

Yesterday, the Social Security trustees released their annual report. Though they announced the program will be able to pay full benefits through 2037 (and 75 percent of benefits through 2084), critics immediately tried to spin it as evidence of the program’s failures. “The reports released today again sound the alarm that spending on Social Security and Medicare is on an unsustainable path,” Republican Rep. Dave Camp said. While progressives are reluctant to privatize or support benefit cuts, protecting Social Security over the long term will require them to propose other solutions.

Yesterday, TAP caught up with Rep. Ted Deutch, a newly elected Democrat from Florida who has recently introduced legislation that creates a new measurement of inflation that more accurately reflects seniors’ cost of living and guarantees a $250 dollar payment to Social Security recipients if there is no upward cost-of-living adjustment. Perhaps most controversial, it gradually makes the Social Security tax apply to all wages — currently, any wages above $106,800 are exempted from taxation. While experts I spoke to suggest that this package would ensure long-term solvency, the political viability of the plan is a different question.



Weed Goes Mainstream


John Wade, 43, a San Francisco commercial lighting specialist, takes a quick hit from a marijuana cigarette on the golf course to steady himself before putting.

Sarika Simmons, 35, of San Diego County, sometimes unwinds after the kids are asleep with tokes from a fruit-flavored cigar filled with pot.

And retiree Robert Girvetz, 78, of San Juan Capistrano, recently started anew – replacing his occasional martini with marijuana.

“It’s a little different than I remember,” he says. “A couple of hits – and wooooo. … “

As California voters prepare to decide in November whether to become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a new Field Poll conducted for The Sacramento Bee reveals that weed already is deeply woven into society.

Those who use the drug, and their reasons for doing it, may be as diverse as the state itself.

Forty-two percent of adults who described themselves as current users in the July poll said they smoke pot to relieve pain or treat a health condition. Thirty-nine percent use it recreationally, to socialize or have fun with friends…

Article here.

Book Review: The World is Blue — How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One


By my estimation, seventy-five-year-old author Dr. Sylvia Earle has spent more than 1% of her life underwater. If her dives were connected in time, it would be as if she slipped into the ocean on New Year’s Day and did not re-emerge until some time after Labor Day.

Her book chronicles her experiences as a 1960s pioneer in underwater exploration, with stirring accounts of the inquisitive fish and mammals she met in the deep blue. Anthropomorphizing these animals would be an insult, given all the trouble humans have caused by overfishing, pollution, and acidification of the oceans. With these issues, she deftly takes an animal’s perspective in deconstructing our troubled oceans.

I once found an enterprising hermit crab with its vulnerable posterior neatly tucked into a discarded Bayer aspirin bottle, a modern, lightweight, durable substitute for a traditional snail shell. A decorator crab on a nearby reef had artfully placed a disposable fast-food ketchup envelope on its back along with bits of algae, hydroids and normal camouflaging elements. The ketchup container actually helped the crab blend in with other trash…

Article here.

The last tuna nigiri on Earth


I call it a “Republican moment,” one of those surreal and disturbing thoughts that sneaks into my soul every now and then like an unwelcome but insistent visitor, a nasty little thought made of equal parts greed and unchecked entitlement, all overlaced with a sort of willful ignorance that entirely blocks out that dangerous beast of burden known as “conscience.”

The moment came as I was reading the horrifying and deeply sad piece in the NYT Magazine about the plight of the wild bluefin tuna, the world’s most overexploited game fish, a top ocean predator and a totem animal like few others, an undeniably magnificent creature that is rapidly nearing extinction due to gluttonous overfishing and unchecked international greed.

It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking tale spanning generations, cultures and clashing beliefs of how we treat the earth. There are fascinating subtexts, politics, food history (the article is part of a larger book on the subject, Paul Greenberg’s “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food”). But the grand upshot was simple enough: We are quickly destroying the last of humanity’s great food stocks, a truly marvelous, powerful and even mystical creature unlike any other. And very soon, there will be no turning back.

The facts are brutal. Simply put, we are gorging our way to the bluefin’s oblivion. Stocks in the Gulf of Mexico are now considered to be in full collapse with maybe 9,000 total fish left, all suddenly made far more dire and irreversible by the BP spill,

Charles Dickens: Ink-Stained Genius

Via Andrew Sullivan

A review of Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing, by Michael Slater

[…] Yet what I am calling a weakness in Slater’s book might also be regarded as its great strength—his willingness to survey everything Dickens wrote, not just the familiar highlights. It is easy to be overwhelmed just by Dickens’s titanic output as a novelist. But Slater usefully calls our attention to the fact that Dickens was much more than a novelist. He was a journalist, playwright, essayist, short-story writer, travel writer, children’s book writer, editor, and publisher, and in his private life he was a prolific and—not surprisingly—remarkably entertaining letter writer. Slater has evidently read just about everything Dickens ever wrote, and offers us the first systematic, thorough account of his literary career (some of the material, such as the journalism and letters, has only recently become readily accessible).

For the majority of us, who will never read more than a fraction of Dickens’s total output, Slater’s book provides a welcome opportunity to get a sense of how truly vast and varied his work was. For example, how many people are aware that, together with his protégé Wilkie Collins, Dickens wrote a play called The Frozen Deep, a response to the ill-fated Franklin Expedition to discover a Northwest Passage in the arctic wastes of Canada? Or that later Dickens and Collins, this time responding to the 1857 Indian Mutiny that shook the British Empire to its foundations,

The Dark Side of Vitaminwater

Author of Diet For A New America

Now here’s something you wouldn’t expect. Coca-Cola is being sued by a non-profit public interest group, on the grounds that the company’s vitaminwater products make unwarranted health claims. No surprise there. But how do you think the company is defending itself?

In a staggering feat of twisted logic, lawyers for Coca-Cola are defending the lawsuit by asserting that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.”

Does this mean that you’d have to be an unreasonable person to think that a product named “vitaminwater,” a product that has been heavily and aggressively marketed as a healthy beverage, actually had health benefits?

Or does it mean that it’s okay for a corporation to lie about its products, as long as they can then turn around and claim that no one actually believes their lies?

In fact, the product is basically sugar-water, to which about a penny’s worth of synthetic vitamins have been added. And the amount of sugar is not trivial. A bottle of vitaminwater contains 33 grams of sugar, making it more akin to a soft drink than to a healthy beverage.

Is any harm being done by this marketing ploy? After all, some might say consumers are at least getting some vitamins, and there isn’t as much sugar in vitaminwater as there is in regular Coke…

Full article here.
See also Vitaminwater: Marketing a Myth