For Holly and Scott Cratty


Our wonderful Renaissance Market on Clay Street was vandalized twice during the holidays. Windows were smashed and the owners, Scott and Holly Cratty are out hundreds of dollars in insurance deductibles plus the cost they will incur to install security cameras.

Scott and Holly haven’t asked for our help but we are a community and we care deeply about our local businesses and want them to thrive. If you would like to help, there are two things you can do for Renaissance Market: Donate some money towards recovery from their losses and/or shop there often.

If you would like to join other members of your community in giving money to help them out, please bring a donation by February 1 during business hours to Shoefly and Sox at 120 West Standley, Ukiah.

And please pass this on to your friends who might also like to help. Thanks!

Charles Hugh Smith: The Fraud at the Heart of Social Security


To understand the fraud at the heart of the Social Security Trust Fund, we start with a very simple fact: cash can only be spent once.

There are two frauds at the very heart of the Social Security system, and I am going to describe and source them in detail. After spending a number of hours poring over public data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), The U.S. Treasury and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and additional hours searching the Web for other published analyses, I can state with some authority that there are no published analyses or accounts of Social Security which incorporate the actual outlays and receipts from fiscal year 2010 in a context which includes the Social Security Trust Fund.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence

Thanks to Sean Re: The speech they seem to forget, exactly one year before his death (audio)…

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, and some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.

Todd Walton: Whales & Predictions


“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Allan K. Chalmers

Sunday. The second of January 2011. My wife Marcia and I are sitting on a bench overlooking the Pacific Ocean a few miles south of the village of Mendocino, the pale blue sky decorated with flat clouds, grays and whites, the celestial artist in no mood for billowy today. The sea is relatively calm and several pods of whales are passing by close enough for us to see them clearly without binoculars, their impressive water spouts presaging glimpses of their even more impressive enormity, our excitement at seeing them giving way to ongoing joy that the leviathans (my favorite synonym for whales) are right there, sharing the world with us, and saying hello so delightfully.

We have come to this promontory above the deep to give back to the ocean some forty pounds of stones and shells we’ve collected over the last five years for the decoration of windowsills and table tops; and as we throw the pretty gifts into the depths, we send with them our hopes and intentions for the year ahead.

The news of late has been full of predictions by economists and financial prognosticators about what may befall the national and global economies in the coming year,

Stochastic Terrorism

From G2geek

Stochastic Terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity, and others do.  And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.

The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the “missile” set in motion by the stochastic terrorist.  The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those “missiles” in motion.

Here’s the mechanism spelled out concisely:

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may

Let’s Get This Straight: There Is No Progressive Equivalent to the Right’s Violent Rhetoric


“…it’s time for conservatives to pull up their goddamn bootstraps and get to work doing the hard business of self-reflection.”

Both sides are, in fact, not “just as bad,” when it comes to institutionally sanctioned violent and eliminationist rhetoric.

An anonymous commenter at Daily Kos and the last Republican vice presidential nominee are not equivalent, no matter how many ridiculously irresponsible members of the media would have us believe otherwise.

There is, demonstrably, no leftist equivalent to Sarah Palin, former veep candidate and presumed future presidential candidate, who uses gun imagery (rifle sights) and language (“Don’t Retreat, RELOAD”) to exhort her followers to action.

There is no leftist equivalent to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group which was created from the mailing list of the old white supremacist White Citizens Councils and has been noted as becoming increasingly “radical and racist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the CCC as a hate group—and is nonetheless considered an acceptable association by prominent members of the Republican Party, including

Will the Masonite Monster Mall raise its ugly head once more?


The county’s plans for the old Masonite land north of Ukiah include a mixed-use land designation similar to a designation sought by an Ohio firm that tried unsuccessfully to get voters to approve plans to build a mall there.

The designation appears in the Ukiah Valley Area Plan, a 20-year land use planning document recently released for public review. The document includes a map that shows the preferred designation for the 79-acre, abandoned industrial site is “Mixed Use Masonite.”

The proposed use is a change from the site’s current industrial designation, which allows heavy industrial.

The mixed-use designation would allow “mixed development types,” according to a brief description in the UVAP, and is further described in the document’s appendix as allowing retail, light industrial and multi-family residential development, along with recreational areas and open space.

“At least half of it could be retail, and at least half of it could be light industrial, offices and multi-family residential,”…

Complete story here

Proof that bikesharing works in the USA


Via Energy Bulletin

For all those who dismissed bike sharing as a woolly-headed European idea that would never work on the mean streets of U.S. cities, the success of the first season of MinneapolisNice Ride bike program will come as a surprise.

700 public bikes hit the streets in June at 65 stations, and they were taken for more than 100,000 rides until put away for the winter in mid-November. 1300 people signed up for an annual membership and 30,000 signed up for a $5 daily pass with the swipe of a credit card.

But the numbers that may be more significant for the future of bike sharing are three, two and none. That’s the number of bikes vandalized, the number of bikes stolen and the numbers of injuries reported. This conclusively answers numerous skeptics who thought that sharing bikes would never work here in the individualistic, auto-crazed USA.

Nice Ride, the non-profit organization running the Minneapolis bike share program, had budgeted for the loss of 10 percent of its bikes due to theft or vandalism, which is one reason why it wound up in the black in its first year, even while selling fewer annual memberships than anticipated.

Richard Shoemaker: Hey, Press Democrat — Show Us The Money


Recently, the Press Democrat seems to be covering public employment topics with more fervor that anything it has covered since the Obama campaign. That coverage has included some serious individual pay and benefits abuses in the public sector. Most readers agree these need to end. Not covered by those stories are the vast majority of dedicated and hardworking public employees and retirees who aren’t abusing the system.

With the editorial “Issues of Pay” back in November, the editorial board of the Press Democrat has made a decision to promote the ongoing war and latest battle between working Americans. This is a class war propagated by the influence peddlers who control a huge percentage of America’s wealth. The trumped up, public vs. private battles that pit neighbor vs. neighbor keep the attention of too many Americans distracted from the financial draining of America’s public and private wealth.

The PD has not made the effort to compare public and private job descriptions and wages in any meaningful way. Generally, the statistics and numbers thrown out are presented without context making them deceitful. Their readers and public employees are dishonored by this.

On Biking and Beekeeping

From SIMPLY BIKE (photos)
via Neil Davis
Mendo 2 Mile Challenge

When it comes to winter cycling, I’m no trailblazer in my family. My grandfather, who’s 84 years old, cycles year-round come rain or snow. He lives in Romania (where I was born and lived when I was younger) and he has owned the same bike for as far back as I can remember.

Although he owns a car, he uses his bike for everyday errands like grocery shopping, going to the outdoor farmer’s market, paying bills in town, and riding over to visit friends. He drives when needing to go to other cities but prefers to bike when simply going around town. He prefers it to walking because it’s faster and – although he might not admit this – he prefers it to driving because it allows him to hop off and say hi to people every other block. My grandpa is what one would call a ‘social butterfly’ and you can’t walk or ride anywhere with him without stopping every few minutes to greet an acquaintance or talk to a friend.

In his former life, my grandfather was an accountant. Once he retired, he simply couldn’t sit still so he took up beekeeping. He’s been a successful beekeeper for the past twenty-some years and I can only vouch for it: he produces some of the best honey in town. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve being chased by bees and chewing

The Ugly American Lives

MCN Listserv Discussion

Having traveled a great deal in Europe (two weeks last March again) I can tell you that Europe smiles in amusement about our ‘more freedom’. They find it a myth we perpetuate to keep our own citizens asleep and compliant. They see homeland sec as the ‘new Nazis’. I tend to agree. We no longer have sovereign control of our own bodies or can protect our children from groping by any stranger in a uniform- how ‘free’ is that?

As one German lady said to me- “Americans talk about all their freedom, but they can’t go into their own yard and sunbathe topless without getting arrested! In Germany, people go into parks on lovely days during their lunch- carefully remove their tops and stretch out to catch a few rays unharassed unless they’re being lewd. They find our puritanism hilarious.

A Norwegian comment was that for all our freedoms, we can’t even build what we want to build on our own lands. They are much less regulated than we are, although they’re swiftly catching up in the cities.   Norway has a very limited banking system, depending on plastic. You can’t just walk into a bank anywhere but Oslo- they have no checking accounts. Cards or cash only.

In Norway, the farmer is protected through a few regulations- the main one is that sellers

Will Parrish: On Memory & Forgetting in Wine Country


Soon after I became outspoken in my criticism of the regional wine industry, I began having conversations with local people for whom this issue is deeply personal. Across recent decades, the sprawling North Coast booze sector has recklessly reconfigured landbases, sucked waterways dry, killed off scores of wildlife, drenched the land with chemicals, and imposed its particular brand of sterilized country life on previously more vibrant pastoral settlements — all of this on the basis of exploited migrant labor, which comprise the industry’s main contribution to the local job base. Although you would never know it by reading the Santa Rosa Press Democrat or tuning into local TV newscasts, these practices have not actually endeared Big Wine to most people — especially those who have experienced them first-hand. Some North Coast residents refer to the pervasive change from forest and rangeland to vineyards as “grape rape.”

Yet, for all of the deep-seated resentment

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Nine: Put Lou Dobbs Out to Pasture

Article with footnotes here

Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Back in the late 1980s, when I ran an advertising agency in Atlanta, a multinational corporation approached us about producing its internal newsletter, a monthly eight-pager about the company’s goings-on in the United States, Mexico, and Japan. Not surprisingly, they wanted the newsletter produced in English, Spanish, and Japanese.

For our small agency trolling for clients, this corporation was a big fish—it could provide a good shot of cash for what was then a startup business with a half dozen employees—so I put a help-wanted ad in the local daily newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution Journal, for a graphic designer who was also fluent enough in those three languages to know how to set type and where to hyphenate words (the company was providing us with the text in the three languages). It was clearly a search for a needle

Herb Ruhs: We have met the enemy and it is not us, it is our military

Anderson Valley

I am sure I have offended some with my writings by focusing on the reality and techniques of psychological warfare as if I was an expert.  I am not.  I have had a chance to look at some classified psychological warfare manuals of the US Army forty years ago.  That hardly makes me an expert, but why does that impeach what I have to say?  The emotional response of most people is denial when I insist that virtually everything bad we are experiencing in the US comes right out of psychological warfare doctrine and that, from my view, we are an occupied country under stealth military rule where democracy is a sham.  I can understand negative responses to that kind of statement.  If I hadn’t experienced psychological warfare first hand during my work as a civilian in Viet Nam from ’66 to ’70, I would likely have as much trouble understanding and believing what I have to say about the military’s psychological warfare program against the US population as any one else.  But alas, once one has seen the face of this devil, it can not be forgotten or discounted.

Therefore I was delighted this morning to find access to a document from Turkey that outlines their military’s failed psychological warfare plans against the Turkish people. You can view it here.  As you read the document

Michael Laybourn: Keep your filthy hands off our money


I just listened to Ross Murray on KZYX  rake the polititians and media over the coals while explaining why Social Security has nothing to do with the national deficit. Very well done Ross, glad you are in there still getting enraged about the state of American politricks.

The “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”consists of 6 Republicans; 6 Democrats and 3 CEOs …. has been dubbed as the “Catfood Commission” because its goal appears to be cutting benefits so drastically that retirees will only be able to afford to eat pet food.

The “bipartisan” deficit reduction commission — appointed by President Obama and led by millionaires — just made their ideas public recently. With ideas are simply ridiculous.  They recommend to Congress cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age. (Well, naturally, this commission of millionaires didn’t focus on raising taxes on the wealthy or even raising the cap to pay into SSA.) Or getting out of wars we can’t afford.

And …the mainstream media’s is picking the chant up with warnings: Deficit, deficit deficit . CNN, Washington Post, Time Newsweek, Atlantic, Reuters, LA Times, everyone. All of a sudden everyone is talking about the deficit: We need to fix it.

**Greater Ukiah Transition Meeting Tonight 1/11/11 – 5:15pm



The time has come for those of us in the Ukiah area to join together and begin the work of transitioning to a future beyond fossil fuels.  This is a grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.  It empowers people in the community to work together to strengthen it against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more sustainable, equitable and socially connected.  This meeting is for those who would like to learn more about the Transition Movement and who are interested in becoming part of the core group to help lead this effort.

Meeting time, Tuesday, January 11th, 5:15 – 6:45 PM, Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak St., Ukiah.  Optional potluck.

Contact, Debora, 462-9392, if you plan to attend.

Bring your vision, passion, and commitment to help create the change we know is possible.

Ukiah Planning Commission: Should we allow Starbucks and other chain stores and franchises downtown? Wednesday 1/12/11 – 6pm


Smart growth advocates have a chance to support their local businesses’ livelihoods and our local economy this Wednesday January 12 at 6:00 p.m. at the Ukiah Planning Commission meeting, City Council Chambers, Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue. The Commission will have its last review of the the new Downtown Zoning Code, based on the community charrette workshops of a few years ago.

The Commission has voted to support independently-owned business and promote community health and safety by prohibiting new formula (chain) fast food restaurants and fast food drive-thrus in the downtown. However, the definition of formula fast food in the glossary contains exemptions for ice cream shops, coffeehouses, bakeries and hot dog stands, meaning that a new chain coffeehouse could locate downtown under the code.

If you think there should be no exemptions for chain fast food purveyors, or other chains such as Big Box stores, the Planning Commission needs to hear from you.  If you can’t make the meeting, email your comments to Senior Planner Kim Jordan for distribution, at

After Planning Commission review, the Code will go to the City Council, so let them know how you feel as well.

Todd Walton: All Or Nothing


“Every day: meditation, chocolate, a glass of port wine, and flirting with young men.” Beatrice Wood at age 98 on her secret to longevity

“I’m never drinking coffee again,” said my friend, reciting his New Year’s resolutions. “And no more alcohol. And I’m off all sugar. And I’m joining a health club and I’m gonna work out for at least an hour a day, every day. Without fail.”

“Wow,” I said, having heard similar declarations from this fellow before. “Sounds draconian.”

“Look,” he said, piqued by my hint of sarcasm, “it’s all or nothing with me. One cup of coffee, I’m hooked again. One piece of chocolate, I’m a goner.” He glared at his big round tummy. “Moderation doesn’t work for me.”

“There can only be one winner, but isn’t that the American way?” Gig Young

I’ve often thought ALL OR NOTHING could be our national motto, for the concept infects virtually every aspect of our political, economic, social, and emotional lives.

“The only way I can figure out what I really think about anything is to write about it.” Norman Mailer

Throughout the 1990’s I worked with hundreds of writers to help them improve their writing. Some were beginners,

Don Sanderson: The Best of All Possible Worlds


“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” — Voltaire

“Faith is something very different from belief. Belief is the systematic taking of unanalyzed words much too seriously. Paul’s words, Mohammed’s words, Marx’s words, Hitler’s words – people take them too seriously, and what happens? What happens is the senseless ambivalence of history – sadism versus duty, or (incomparably worse) sadism as duty; devotion counterbalanced by organized paranoia; sisters of charity selflessly tending to the victims of their own church’s inquisitors and crusaders. Faith, on the contrary, can never be taken too seriously. For faith is the empirically justified confidence in our capacity to know who in fact we are, to forget the belief-intoxicated Manichee in Good Being. Give us this day our daily Faith, but deliver us, dear God, from Belief.” — Aldous Huxley, “Island”

Voltaire wrote his “Candide” in 1759, a book one reviewer has described as full of laughter, wisdom, comment, satire and bite, an attack on all rigid thinking, on all isms that is still worthwhile reading. In 1956, Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” adaptation was released on Broadway and flopped. He had taken Voltaire’s story and converted it into a musical, or so the public expected, but it was actually a deeply satirical comic opera, which they didn’t understand. Once they did get it, it has been successfully resurrected time after time, the last recently in the Hollywood Bowl. As Bernstein described it, “Voltaire’s satire is international. It throws light on all the dark places, whether European or American. Of course, it’s not an American book, but the matters with which it is concerned are as valid for us as any –  and sometimes I think they are especially valid for us in America. Puritanical snobbery, phony moralism,

The Cloudy Logic of ‘Political’ Shootings

The Atlantic

After this horrible news from Tucson….

… let me amplify something I said half-coherently in a live conversation with Guy Raz on All Things Considered a little while ago. My intended point was:

Shootings of political figures are by definition “political.” That’s how the target came to public notice; it is why we say “assassination” rather than plain murder.

But it is striking how rarely the “politics” of an assassination (or attempt) match up cleanly with the main issues for which a public figure has stood. Some killings reflect “pure” politics: John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln, the German officers who tried to kill Hitler and derail his war plans. We don’t know exactly why James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, but it must have had a lot to do with civil rights.

There is a longer list of odder or murkier motives:
– Leo Ryan, the first (and, we hope, still the only) Representative to be killed in the line of duty, was gunned down in Guyana in 1978 for an investigation of the Jim Jones/Jonestown cult, not any “normal” political issue.

– Sirhan Sirhan horribly transformed American politics by killing Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, but Sirhan’s political causes had little or nothing to do with what RFK stood for to most Americans.

– So too with Arthur Bremer, who tried to kill George C. Wallace in 1972 and left him paralyzed.

– The only known reason for John Hinckley’s shooting of Ronald Reagan involves Jodie Foster.

– It’s not often remembered now, but Manson family member

Hey GOP Hypocrites: Repeal health care? Give up your own first!


For 2 years, GOP leaders in Congress fought tooth and nail to oppose health care reform. They did their best to keep tens of millions without coverage, decrying any effort to help citizens as “socialist,” “fascist” or some other equally baffling “ist.”

And incredibly, now that they are the majority, their first act will be to vote to repeal health care reform that gives affordable care to 32 million Americans.

Yet, when it comes to their own coverage, Republicans in Congress are not only using government-sponsored health care, they even whined about having had to wait for it.

As the Republicans are gearing up to appease Tea Party extremists and vote to repeal health care reform for Americans who need it, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling the GOP on their hypocrisy, and calling on them to give up their government-sponsored health care:

“It was a central value to us when we passed health care, and a central value to the American people, that members of Congress should get the same health care as everyone else. It seems unfair that house Republicans want to deprive middle-class Americans of the same health care as members of Congress but to keep it for themselves.”

“Will Eric Cantor urge every Republican who is going to be for repeal to not take government health care themselves and to drop their existing health care?”

We think he should, and applaud Senator Schumer for his challenge. Write Eric Cantor, and ask him if he will practice what he preaches — and ask other GOP members to do the same.

Sign the petition here
More GOP hypocrisy here

A Human-Scale Economy


It’s getting worse and worse, and the wizards don’t have a clue. They don’t even know the economy is broken-and can’t be fixed. That’s why they keep doing more of the same with the same old solutions and same old people.

Nothing could be more obvious, and I think most sentient people in the land know this in their hearts. And nothing could be more obvious than the need to overhaul that economy entirely-which is indeed the opportunity we have now.

I don’t mean we have to scrap the capitalist system entirely, but we do have to reign it in. We have to fit it in to the limits of the real world. We have to understand that economics is a subsystem of the overall ecosystem. We have to realize that continuing to base it on the concepts of growth and consumption–and encouraging, “stimulating,” more of that–will lead to the collapse not only of the global economy but probably the industrial civilization it serves.

Isn’t it obvious that the Keynesian idea of growth at all costs, particularly growth fostered by large governments that can print money, has failed? Isn’t it clear that we can’t keep on throwing money at this failed economy and that something quite different is needed? The U.S. economy has been devoted exclusively to the idea of perpetual growth since the end of World War II, and it has allowed any number of evils-environmental destruction, greenhouse gases, pollution, resource depletion, military expansion, government inefficiency and corruption, corporate political domination, unregulated financial institutions, immense inequality, a perpetual underclass, the decay of public education, and that’s just for starters-in its pursuit. Isn’t it obvious that it doesn’t work and that the current Great Recession is the proof of that?

Let us posit that the three greatest perils we face are resource depletion (particularly oil, but don’t forget fish and fresh water, for example), global warming and the alteration of habitats and species, and an excessive human impact on the planet at all levels.

This Month’s Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition


This month we’re starting off with Brazil and some very exciting news for the New Year, because, as reported here at Transition Culture yesterday, the first ever Transition favela initiative has just held it’s Unleashing!… Wonderful news indeed! Here are some great pics of the event. The community has been very busy indeed. 85 community members have participated in Transition Training and they’ve implemented all sorts of wonderful activities. Community gardens are being created in seven abandoned spaces, and a ‘Become our own Media’ team has been created which has registered all their events and has just completed a film aimed at reviving the region’s oral tradition, which was screened at the Unleashing.

They’ve held visioning and back-casting exercises, and have seven working groups including Social Enterprises and Local Business, which has a new Community Owned Bakery; Market for Sustainable Health, which is promoting the wellbeing of slum dwellers; and Water & Preservation group. They are care-takers/neighbors of the largest urban forest in the world and one of their first actions is to clean the waterfalls and rivers. They have planted 228 native trees and their intention is to re-forest of 7.7 hectares of the Cantareira Park over the next 2 years. Big targets which we know they’ll achieve! We look forward to seeing and hearing more from Transition Brasilandia…

In Chile, Transition Town El Manzano is building a community centre and a campus to help with the ‘great re-skilling’ and they’ll also implement their ‘permaculture master plan’ and enjoy a summer of ‘bioconstruction’…it all sounds very exciting!…

Full Report Here


Volunteering in Mendo

Together We Can! Mendocino

Happy New Year!!  I’m sure many of you have made a New Year’s resolution to volunteer more, so you will be happy to know that we have quite a few new posted volunteer events.

But first, we have an update for the Trail Work Day on January 22nd.  Once again we will meet at the Shakota trail to build a quarter mile of new trail. The reroute will ensure that we can use the Shakota Trail even when the lake is at its highest. We will meet at the south end of the Shakota Trail at the “Overlook Parking Lot” – take the left turnoff and drive up the hill before you reach the dam. More info and to sign up:  Trail Work Day – January 22nd.

Our first new posted volunteer event is at the Interfaith Peace Gathering on January 15th.  We will be helping with the potluck lunch by assisting in any way needed during the lunch hour.  This event addresses the question: “Is faith a vehicle for eternal peace or the cause of endless war?” Representatives from various faiths will use stories, song, dance and reflection to present the peaceful aspects of their traditions and be available for discussion. The event runs from 9:30AM-3:00PM and is free.  Here are the links to sign up:  Event of the Heart-Set Up & Event of the Heart-Cleanup.

The next two new posted volunteer events are for MCAVHN’s Event of the Heart.  We will be helping with set up in the morning from 9-noon and clean up after the event from 10:30-midnight.  This year’s event is called “Last Tango in Ukiah” and will feature Tango lessons by Eddie Vedolla, Champagne reception by Weible Vineyards, a gourmet dinner with coffee and dessert, live and silent auctions and dancing to the music of Pura Vida. Tickets at Mendocino Book Company and MCAVHN.  Here are the links to sign up:  Event of the Heart-Set Up & Event of the Heart-Cleanup.

We have also added the remaining Trail Work Days through May and Serving Dinner at Plowshares through March.  Sign up for these events here.

Todd Walton: Scholar Jim


“There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind—the humorous.” Mark Twain

I wonder how Mark Twain would feel if he knew his novel Huckleberry Finn has been rewritten in such a way that the meaning of his book is entirely changed, and that such an execrable mutation of his work is about to be afflicted on the next generation of American schoolchildren. I ask because such a crime has just taken place. Yes, it’s true, and I quote from The New York Times:

“Throughout the book [Huckleberry Finn]—219 times in all—the word nigger is replaced by slave, a substitution that was made by NewSouth Books, a publisher based in Alabama, which plans to release the edition in February.

“Alan Gribben, a professor of English and a Twain scholar at Auburn University, approached the publisher with the idea in July. Mr. Gribben said Tuesday that he had been teaching Mark Twain for decades and always hesitated before reading aloud the common racial epithet, which is used liberally in the book, a reflection of social attitudes in the mid-19th century.

“‘I found myself right out of graduate school at Berkeley not wanting to pronounce that word when I was teaching either Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer,’ he said. ‘And I don’t think I’m alone.’

“Mr. Gribben, who combined Huckleberry Finn with Tom Sawyer in a single volume and also supplied an introduction, said he worried that Huckleberry Finn had fallen off reading lists, and wanted to offer an edition that is not for scholars, but for younger people and general readers.

“‘I’m by no means sanitizing Mark Twain,’ Mr. Gribben said. ‘The sharp social critiques are in there. The humor is intact. I just had the idea to get us away from obsessing about this one word, and just let the stories stand alone.’ (The book also substitutes Indian for injun.)”

Jim Houle: Petty Ambition and Small Claims

Redwood Valley

What seemed like a minor skirmish at the inaugural session of the Board of Supervisors on January 4th proves once again that petty ambition is a major motivation at Low Gap House. While Dan Hamburg, newly elected 5th District Supe, was obviously next in line to be Chairperson of the Board in 2012 by any reading of the Board’s own rules of succession, two Supervisors sided with John McCowen’s whining request to ascend to the Chair out of turn but before his 4 year term is over. “I will have served four years without once being Chairman”, he sobbed. The Chairman’s job is not worth, to paraphrase ‘Cactus Jack’ (Vice President under FDR) Garner, “a bucket of warm spit” but it’s obviously a draught thirsted for by our ‘Jack’ McCowen. Dan Hamburg accepted the defeat and the unfairness of it with equanimity but with a wry smile, realizing that such pettiness will likely persist.

At the same time, a few blocks down State Street in Small Claims Court, authority and responsibility were successfully avoided for the fifth time in the infamous case of ‘Queen Kendall’ Smith’s absconding with $3,086 in illicitly-acquired expense account money. Judge Behnke was sure he didn’t have jurisdiction. After the Grand Jury several years in a row embarrassed our former District Attorney Lintott about this petty theft, she finally pushed it over to Controller Meredith Ford and told her to dock the Queen’s pay check. Good Bureaucrat Ford shuffled it off to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel for an opinion. Nadel decided to kick the can all the way down to Santa Rosa but the Sonoma County Counsel opined that what was really needed was a court order. Small Claims Plaintiff Bruce Anderson (infamous editor of the AVA) can now throw this very rotten fish on the lap of our newly-inducted District Attorney Eyster and see whether he will scoop it up and dispose of it in a suitable manner. If that doesn’t get it off the table, I can only suggest we call upon our Garbage Impresario, ‘King of Trash’ Mike Sweeney. He has dodged smelly issues successfully over a long career.

Does America have the right stuff to get off our ass and save the world?

Transition Voice

Is America a nation of selfish jerks or generous sharers?

When you worry about peak oil and climate chaos, it’s easy to get frustrated at the slow pace of change in the world’s biggest polluter and biggest oil user, the United States. For my part, I’d like to see my country start preparing for both of these civilization-shaking challenges yesterday rather than tomorrow. Though I’ll gladly settle for tomorrow if the other choice is “never,” as it often seems to be these days.

But sooner rather than later, we should enact a national energy policy to start radical conservation and ramp up clean energy. We should stop subsidizing roads and air travel, not to mention coal, oil and nukes. We should discourage American companies from offshoring jobs and encourage more Made in the USA. And on and on.

And sometimes when I see very little progress on these issues, or even see the country moving backward, I get frustrated with my fellow citizens.

The American public has had plenty of chances to get global warming since it hit the news in the late 1980s. They’ve had less chance to accept or even hear about peak oil. But the concept of resource depletion is so obvious, you have to wonder if people even really need to be told at all that the oil will run low sometime. You don’t have to be smarter than a fifth grader to get that. Right?

Fat, ignorant and addicted to Xbox

In this kind of mood, it’s easy to agree with pundits who see the American people as one big lumpen proletariat, as James Howard Kunstler does in his forecast for the year ahead:

A Profound and Jarring Disconnect

This Can’t Be Happening Blog

Democracy: de-moc-ra-cy, government by the people; the common people of a community, as distinguished from any privileged class

According to the latest poll conducted by CBS “60 Minutes” and the magazine Vanity Fair, 61 percent of Americans want to raise taxes on the wealthy as the primary way to cut the budget. The same poll finds that the second most popular first choice for cutting the nation’s budget deficit, at 20 percent, is cutting the military budget. That is, 81 percent of us–four out of five–would cut the deficit by taxing the rich and/or slashing military spending.

Only four percent of those polled favored cutting Medicare, the government-run program that provides health care for the elderly and disabled, and only three percent favored cutting Social Security.

President Obama meanwhile, appointed a so-called National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (quickly dubbed the “Catfood Commission” by critics) to come up with proposals to cut the budget deficit. He named as co-chairs former Republican Senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson, a troglodyte sworn enemy of Social Security who publicly declared it to be “a milk cow with 310 million tits,” and Erskine Bowles, a retired investment banker and former chief of staff to President Clinton who says he want to cut spending, not raise taxes, which, when it comes to Social Security, means lower benefits for retirees.

The writing on the wall appears to be that the White House, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress, are looking to raise the retirement age, currently 66, to 68 or 69, to reduce or at least limit the inflation adjustment in Social Security benefits, and perhaps also to increase the payroll tax on current workers. What they want to do is balance the budget by screwing with our retirement. What they do not want to do

Oklahoma Buffalo Chili Recipe


[In honor of Gene Logsdon’s Oh What A Beautiful Morning post, here’s a recipe from the Okie state. My dad grew up in Sapulpa and rode on top of freight trains with his brother to get to California. To localize, organicize, and healthilize this recipe, local buffalo meat is available at the J-Bar-S Bison Ranch just north of Ukiah and at the co-op, along with bulk organic dried beans. Fresh tomatoes are out of season, but organic canned tomatoes would be more “authentic” anyway. Oh, and please use a black iron skillet… -DS]


1 lb. ground buffalo
1 medium onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 16 oz. cans peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a non-stick skillet, saute the Ground Bison and onion until the meat is browned and the onion is tender. (Can also simmer in a pot with 1 cup water – when cooked, drain water, then proceed). Add the pinto beans, tomatoes, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, adding more water if chili becomes too thick. Add chopped cilantro and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Spoon into bowls and garnish with grated cheese or diced jalapeno peppers.

…even Oklahoma is going local…

Welcome to Keep It Local OK

We’re so glad you stopped by! Keep It Local OK is dedicated to promoting the locally owned and independent businesses that make Oklahoma great.

Gene Logsdon: Oh What A Beautiful Morning


It was 50 degrees and the sun shining here on New Year’s Day. That’s a beautiful morning for this time of year in Ohio, not as beautiful as the one in the musical, “Oklahoma!” when “the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and it seems to be climbing right up to the sky,” but beautiful for January. So I went to the barn singing that song, reminding myself once again of why I like it so much. My father used to sing it in the barn where he thought no one could hear him and we used to break up laughing at his performances. He could not carry a tune in a bushel basket and “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” is a difficult song to sing. In the very first line, all sorts of sly half notes and flats and sharps lay waiting to catch the wariest of voices. If you direct church choirs, the perfect way to audition singers is to have them sing that line. Anyone who can do it without accompaniment and nail every note exactly right,  especially on the first syllable of the word ‘morning’, then he or she can sing in anyone’s choir.

But that’s not why this song is so special to me. Its lyrics and that of other songs in “Oklahoma!” are just so very reflective of the farming spirit.  (I write about this at some length in my book, “The Mother of All Arts” if you’re interested.)  In addition to the lines above, there are others just as culturally perfect: “The breeze is so busy, it don’t miss a tree, and that old weepin’ willow is laughing at me.” Even the incorrect grammar is just right. Can you imagine anyone coming up with lyrics like that today?  Especially in the refrain of the song, this line:  “I’ve got a wonderful feelin’, everything’s going my way.”  No one today could write a song that happy. What we hear today mostly in our cowering, fearful environment is: “Uh- uh, baby- baby, eff- word, baby- baby, uh- uh. ”

Whatever happened to joy in this country?

More to the point, how could Oscar Hammerstein II

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Eight: They Will Steal It!

Article with footnotes here

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. – John F. Kennedy

In 1981, in the midst of a wide-ranging conversation during a night flight across the Atlantic, I got one of the biggest foreign policy insights of my life. Ever since I heard it, it’s filtered my observations of the behavior of virtually every country in the world, particularly ours.

I’d gone to Uganda in 1980 to help start a program to feed the tens of thousands of people starving as a result of the 1978–1979 war, started when Uganda’s neighbor to the south, Tanzania, finally said “Enough!” to the atrocities perpetuated by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and invaded the country. They drove Amin out (he went to Libya first, then to Saudi Arabia, where he lived to a ripe old age in a palace, courtesy of the king and our oil dollars), but the Uganda-Tanzania War produced a disaster for the people of Uganda.

Our relief program was up and running, at least in infant form (it’s still there and operating), and African-American comedian and activist Dick Gregory agreed to go to Uganda with me to see it and to help publicize the starvation so we could raise funds in the United States to expand the program. As the two of us crossed the Atlantic, his first trip to the African continent and my third or fourth, we sat in the plane and drank red wine and talked of all sorts of things, including our common opposition to the Vietnam War back in the day.

In the middle of our discussion about the United States and its unfortunate military adventures abroad, Dick dropped on me the most profound comment

Mendo Island Transition: A foundation is already in place


With the new year upon us, and a new Transition Group prepared to tackle truly sustainable living for the Greater Ukiah area, here are some remarkable Mendocino County projects, planned or already in place, to build upon:

Mendocino Coast Transition Group

Local Money

Mendo Time Bank

Together We Can

Mendo Gardens Project

Farmers Markets

Renaissance “Local Food” Market

Food Co-op

Community Supported Farms

Local Power Radio

Mendocino Organic Network (Renegade Local Certifiers)

Local Grain Growing and Flour Grinding

Buy Locally-Owned and Locally-Grown

Growing and Eating Local Apples (Frey Family)

Community Supported Energy (Hamburg/Laybourn)

Mendocino Environmental Center

Trail Group

Creek Group

Mendo 2 Mile Challenge

Willits Economic Localization
I’ve overlooked some others. What are they?

Why Transition? Creating a Brighter Future


We are living in an age of unprecedented change, with a number of crises converging. Climate change, global economic instability, overpopulation, erosion of community, declining biodiversity, and resource wars, have all stemmed from the availability of cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. Global oil, gas and coal production is predicted to irreversibly decline in the next 10 to 20 years, and severe climate changes are already taking effect around the world. The coming shocks are likely to be catastrophic if we do not prepare. As Richard Heinberg states:

Our central survival task for the decades ahead, as individuals and as a species, must be to make a transition away from the use of fossil fuels – and to do this as peacefully, equitably, and intelligently as possible”.

The Transition movement represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people and communities to take the far-reaching actions that are required to mitigate the effects of peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Furthermore, these relocalization efforts are designed to result in a life that is more fulfilling, more socially connected and more equitable than the one we have today.

The Transition model is based on a loose set of real world principles and practices that have been built up over time through experimentation and observation of communities as they drive forward to reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience. Underpinning the model is a recognition of the following:

  • Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Economic Crisis require urgent action
  • Adaptation to a world with less oil is inevitable
  • It is better to plan and be prepared, than be taken by surprise
  • Industrial society has lost the resilience to be able to cope with shocks to its systems

Transition cities: Mission impossible?

Transition Voice

What kind of Transition might be achieved in the City of Angels?

Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. — Lewis Carroll

In 2005, while I was writing a novel which envisioned the transformation of Los Angeles (and while Rob Hopkins was putting the final touches on the world’s first Energy Descent Action Plan with students in Kinsale, Ireland), I attended a Permaculture seminar in Santa Barbara, California.  The Permaculture movement asserts that we could consciously design a more sustainable or permanent human culture.

In a breakout session that day, titled “Urban Permaculture,” one of the participants commented, “This is all great for the rural areas, but what do you do about a big city like Los Angeles?”

The instructor threw up his hands and shrugged. It’s impossible.

Someone laughed uncomfortably. Amid a crowd of what should have been SoCal’s most forward thinking, out-of-the-box designers, there were no answers.

People have said it to me directly over the years, in person and in email: It’s impossible. How can you even think about Transition in LA?  It’s just too big.

But within Transition circles we counsel each other to “start where you are.”  Well, where I am is in the middle of LA, the eleventh largest metropolitan area in the world, with 10 to 12 million people. It’s my home town. This is where we started.

Transition in LA

Sensible people say it’s impossible, but impossible things happen every day.

The Transition movement in LA unfolds today via a series of neighborhood initiatives.

Neil Davis: Justa’ bikin’ in the rain…

Mendo 2 Mile Challenge

Do I look nutty? No wait, don’t answer that!

What is it about bikes that attracts, no I think inspires, so many impassioned nutcases, zealots, and holy roller bike preachers? What is it that makes so many of us feel that we need everyone else to join us? “It’s not enough for me to love this bike riding, I need you to as well”. How do I know when I’ve crossed the line and become a wing nut bicyclist? Are we the nutcases, or is it everyone else? And why don’t more people see the reason behind our passion and join us?I was bundling up to ride home from work the other day – it was pouring down rain. Really wet. I was happy, done with work for the day and getting ready to ride home in the rain. How could I not be happy?

A coworker walked by and offered me a ride home, “really, we can throw your bike in the back of our truck”. I laughed and declined. Another coworker walked by, “I can give you a ride home”. I countered her offer with an offer to give her a ride home on my bike, “You can ride on my back rack”. She laughed and declined.

They think I’m nuts.

I don’t think I am. I know I had more fun on the way home than they did, I can feel it in my bones. They think it was a big ordeal for me, that I went to all kinds of trouble, just to prove a point ( I suppose). I can imagine that it appeared that way. After all, they saw me pulling on my rain gear. They didn’t have to do all that. I suspect they didn’t see that they got as wet dashing to their cars as I did riding home (I arrived with the bottom inch of my left pants leg wet). I’m not sure they appreciated that I only took about 2 minutes to pull my rain pants on, probably roughly the same time it took them to settle into their cars and buckle up etc.

Oh well, they think I’m nuts.

Sharon Astyk: 2011 Predictions — A Savage Place


This year I have a jump on my predictions – as part of my comparatively new role as Editor of the Peak Oil Review Commentary section, I had the fun of asking a whole lot of smart people what they think is going to happen, and thinking about their predictions first.

If you haven’t seen them already, you should definitely check them out! Everyone from Ilargi to Jeff Rubin, The Peak Oil Hausfrau to Richard Heinberg to Tad Patzek kicked in, and realistically, you’ll probably get a lot clearer view of the future through a lot of eyes than just one.

Which leads me to my annual official caveat, which I repeat every year: “I don’t think everything that comes out of my ass is the high truth, and neither should you. Remember what you are paying for this wisdom, and value it accordingly.”

So how did I do with my predictions last year? In 2007 and 2008 I had an extraordinarily good record of predictions, a winning streak broken last year when I jumped the gun. So how were the 2010 predictions? Let’s take a look:

2010 will mark a (probably dramatic) resumption of the economic crisis, which will not be short or pleasant. I keep pointing out that the two most recent deep economic downturns (1971-1982, 1929-1941) both lasted more than a decade, and I think this is most likely a fair translation of the current hype of “jobless recovery” and “low growth rates.” The reality is that we’re not going to experience a major economic recovery anytime soon, and I’d be somewhat surprised if we didn’t see a substantial further downturn…

Called it, although it wasn’t quite as dramatic as all that – the stock markets remain fairly high and there are still some people saying it is over, but the general emerging consensus is that it isn’t over…

Article here