Todd Walton: He Is Us

Photo by Marcia Sloane


“When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without the proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.” David Hume

I may be wrong. I thought I’d begin with that disclaimer to defuse the notion I think I’m right. What troubles me most about zealots is that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is not only deemed wrong, but bad. Oh, get to the point, Todd. Well, but this is a big part of the point, this trouble I have with people who think they have the one and only true answer, true faith, true way to grow strawberries. There’s no way to have a meaningful discussion with them.

When I had my oh-no-we’re destroying-the-earth-we’d-better-change-our-ways epiphany in 1965 at the tender age of fifteen, even most of my fellow Sierra Club members thought I was either crazy or a dangerous radical. Forty-six years later, my assertion that radically reducing our individual resource consumption can help save the earth is scoffed at and ridiculed by a growing cadre

Home-Scale Energy Now

The Archdruid Report

The logic applied in last week’s post to photovoltaic solar power can be applied more generally to a fairly wide range of technologies that can, under the right circumstances, provide a modest supply of electricity to power those things for which electricity is really the most sensible power source. I want to talk about a couple of those in tthe weeks to come, partly for the sake of completeness, partly because the options I have in mind offer some distinct advantages, and partly because touching on a series of examples will make it easier to grasp certain common themes that aren’t often addressed on those rare occasions when discussions of the future of technology manage to make it out of the realm of popular mythology in the first place.

I don’t mean that last comment as a joke, by the way. If mythology can be defined as the set of stories that people in a given society use to make sense of the universe and themselves, contemporary beliefs about the future of technology in the cultural mainstream of the industrial world fill that role, doubled, tripled, and in spades. Those of my readers who have

Bounty Hunters: A review of two new local-foods cookbooks

The Ethicurean

As the local food movement expands and the numbers of small farms, CSA programs, and farmers markets increase, so grows the crop of cookbooks aimed at helping people make the best use of that seasonal bounty. Following in the path of Deborah Madison’s excellent overview of America’s farmers markets, Local Flavors, two new cookbooks share the joys of regional harvests throughout the year.

The first, Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes, bases its recipes in the old and new traditions of New England agriculture. This collaboration between dietitian Diane Imrie and chef Richard Jarmusz combines a healthy approach to eating with simple preparations that enhance the fresh flavors of local fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats. While many recipes take old favorites and spruce them up for

Home Power Plant Nation

Bay Journal News Service
Via Transition Voice

The old dream of going off-grid has changed into today’s reality of using the grid as your own battery

It’s a gorgeous day full of singing birds and sunlight. Beautiful, streaming sunlight. Soon the photovoltaic system that added some aggression to my passive solar house in the mountains of western Virginia will be one year old, the time of reckoning.

Getting off the grid has always been nirvana for 1970s back-to-the-landers like me. With net-metering – a 21st century update of the dream – I am still connected, selling excess electricity in summer when the sun is high, and buying electricity at night and in winter. The grid has become my battery, although my home system includes batteries for three sunless days of essential services if the grid is knocked out: water pump, stove, freezer, and playing old movies through the storm.

In rural Appalachia, self-sufficiency is the traditional way of doing things.

Janie Sheppard: Looking for Elusive New Deal Art

Mendocino County

Determined to see another example of mural art by Ben Cunningham, the artist who painted the mural in the Ukiah Post Office, I trekked to Coit Tower in San Francisco. There, my Internet research assured me, was another example of Ben’s art, a mural entitled “Outdoor Life.” No mention of the fact on the Internet that the nine by twenty-two foot mural is off limits to the public.

To see a photo of the mural I bought an expensive but beautiful book, Coit Tower San Francisco: Its History and Art, by Masha Zakheim, photos by Don Beatty. Searching the Internet for a good picture of Ben’s mural

Transition and Collapse: Voices from the Margins

Via Energy Bulletin

It was at my suggestion that our Transition Book Group read The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age, by John Michael Greer. Known online for his blog the Archdruid Report (he is a high priest of the Druid Order) Greer belongs to a small group of thinkers that I would call “collapse-theorists” (others might say “doomers”), who dare to describe the future of energy descent, the massive crises of the economy, climate and peak oil. All of the material we read in the book group is difficult. Jokes are made about who we are sending our therapy bills to each month as we gather. Something about Greer proved extra-challenging, and although we all liked the book as much or more than anything else we have read, it brought up the unique grief of contemplating a grim future.

Though gentler, and more rational than many writers of his genre, Greer has a knack for formulating the truth in ways that are hard to dispute.

Gene Logsdon: Stay Home And Make Some Real Money

Walt Curlee Art

The Contrary Farmer

Far be it from me to criticize the American way and it wouldn’t change if I did. But it seems to me that another way of looking at life needs to be presented occasionally. Those of us who choose to live the home-centered garden and farming way have some built in advantages when it comes to profits and losses.

If time is money, I’ve lost thousands of dollars waiting for traffic lights to change or traffic jams to clear up or planes to get back on schedule. The fuel and blood pressure burned up in the process could cost me a whole lot more than four dollar gas. On trips, if you don’t pack some food, a meal on the road is going to average out at about eight dollars a head. If you stay at a motel, deduct another bunch of bucks. But the bedbugs are free. All this is what you get for the thrill of staring at the scenic sides of huge semi-trucks as you roar down the highway always three feet and three seconds away from death.

Our Participation Fuels Financial Tyranny

Mendocino County

Our debt and transactional consumerism fuels the tyranny which oppresses us.

The basic dynamic is profound: the political and financial tyranny of Wall Street and the “too big to fail” banks is fueled by our own participation. “Reformers” both within the Central State and outside its halls of delirium-inducing power, keep hoping that some tweaking of policy or regulations will relax the grip of Wall Street and the big banks on the nation’s throat.

They are willfully blind to the obvious: that with enough money, any rule can be bent or evaded. Just look at the thousands of pages of tax codes which are supposed to impose “fair and equal” taxation on the citizenry. Yet the Power Elites pay less than half (around 18%) of what self-employed entrepreneurs pay (a basic rate of over 40%–15% self-employment tax and 25% Federal tax). For example, Hedge funders pay a mere 15% on their $100 million earnings because they bought a law in Congress which declares their earnings,

What is a Transition Enterprise?


Fiona Ward of Transition Network’s REconomy project has written the following to try and answer the question “what would a social enterprise founded on Transition principles be like?  This posted is intended to stimulate discussion, so do comment below.  Over to Fiona…

Why do we need this definition?

This document defines what is meant by a Transition Enterprise (TE). This definition is useful to the Transition Network because it helps us clarify:

  1. The kind of trading enterprises we would most like to see, as they best support the wider aims of Transition, and
  2. Where we should first direct our limited resources (e.g. via the REconomy project).

Other types of commercial enterprises can also help meet the aims of Transition. In fact, we need a wide range of business models in each local economy to provide the diversity that helps build resilience, including

A Brief History of Attacks on Social Security

social-security-200From TED MARMOR
New Deal 2.0

As Obama’s Fiscal Commission prepares for its June 30 hearing, New Deal 2.0 invited leading thinkers to participate in our Social Security’s Fiscal Fitness series, which examines the soundness of the program, its relationship to the federal deficit, and the vital role it plays in America’s economic future.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform set up by President Obama claims both that reducing the projected federal deficit should be a major national objective and that Social Security should be considered as one potential source of relief either through reducing benefits or enhancing revenues or some of both. That much is simply a fact.

But this commentary is about ideology. It is to remind readers that the same attacks on Social Security have been going on — in different guises — for at least four decades. The stagflation of the 1970s, precipitated by the oil crisis of 1973-74, provided long-term, ideological critics of social insurance an opportunity

Rosalind Peterson: Take Action! Social Security Alert!

Redwood Valley

There are currently seventeen [8], bills pending in either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate that are related to changes in Social Security [1-2].  This staggering number of Social Security bills, now being considered in various committees, where amendments will be added or the bills changed, shows how determined many elected officials are in either privatizing or killing two of the most beneficial programs to protect the public ever created (with the exception of the U.S. EPA and our Clear Air and Water Act Laws).

President Obama and members of the U.S. House and Senate have placed Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block in ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.  In these secret negotiations, far away from public enlightenment or debate, deals are being cooked-up to undermine, cut or privatize these important and highly beneficial programs.

The income cap, for example, in Social Security should be increased so that the rich pay their fair tax share of these costs.  Instead more payroll tax holidays are planned allowing the rich to escalate their riches by paying less in taxes.

Is the Dramatic Increase in West Coast Baby Deaths a Result of Fukushima Fallout?

A 35% Spike in Infant Mortality in Northwest Cities Since Meltdown


U.S. babies are dying at an increased rate… The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:

4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 – 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week)
10 weeks ending May 28, 2011  – 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week)

This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In 2001 the infant mortality was 6.834 per 1000

The Real Cost of Private Insurance vs. Medicare

From digby

And Medicare takes care of the very sickest people in our country.


If Medicare costs had risen as fast as private insurance premiums, it would cost around 40 percent more than it does. If private insurers had done as well as Medicare at controlling costs, insurance would be a lot cheaper.

It’s a mystery why anyone claims that shifting more people into private insurance is a good idea. Actually, no, it isn’t a mystery; it’s an outrage.

Imagine if people over 50 had been allowed to buy into Medicare as was proposed during the Health Care debate. They would have been paying into the system as they already are and also paying for their current insurance. And they would have been getting their care from the less costly system at a time when they are starting to have health problems.

In fact, imagine if everyone were in the less costly system.

The Mood at Culture Jammer HQ

From AdBusters

Alright, you 90 thousand jammers, anarchists, politicos, rabble rousers and do gooders on the other side of this screen, here’s the mood at Culture Jammers HQ right now:

The global situation is deteriorating faster and faster … instabilities, disruptions and singularities are emerging not just in our ecological and financial systems, but now, as the depression epidemic spreads worldwide, in our psychological systems as well. We are racing towards nightfall, a second great dark age.

Apocalyptic foreboding hangs over us, yet on the personal/activist front we feel guardedly optimistic watching the insurrectionaries in Spain, Greece and throughout the Arab world. Intellectually we feel alive like never before. Radical change and potent new ways of strategic thinking are cropping up everywhere. One of the most exciting tracts we’ve come across in awhile is Saul Newman’s The Politics of Postanarchism. Some of it is a bit academic, but he’s got a few killer ideas that just may offer a new paradigm for action. In one inspiring passage he writes:

“The liberal idea

How Online Education Is Changing the Way We Learn


Over the past decade or so, the Internet has become a huge source of information and education, especially for those who might be short on time, money or other resources.

And it’s not just crowdsourced data collections like Wikipedia or single-topic blogs that encourage individual learning; huge corporations and nonprofits are making online education and virtual classrooms a very formal affair these days.

From the first online classes (which were conducted by the University of Phoenix in 1989) to the present day, when online education is a $34 billion industry, more and more students are finding new life and career education opportunities online.

Check out this infographic from about how the world of online learning has changed and grown over the years.

Infographic here

Ask me about my agony and despair!


Often is the question posed to me, maybe over on my Facebook page or via email after someone has made it through the messier parts of my book, but also in sundry sweaty nightclubs or boutique SF coffeeholes and therefore almost always fully clothed but almost never in a state of calm emotional stability: Mark, how the hell do you do it?

How do you avoid becoming horribly soiled and tainted, downtrodden and depressed every single day by the relentless onslaught, the endless horrors and bleakness hurled forth by the blood-soaked and desperately panicky mainstream media, inside of which you apparently still writhe and (mostly, sporadically, drunkenly) thrive?

It’s a common refrain, of course, a question posed to anyone not merely aswim in the MSM, but also to upbeat politicos and yoga teachers, spiritual gurus and organic farmers, smiling scientists and perky baristas — pretty much anyone at all who seems to move through life reasonably free of the bone-crushing angst so delightfully common to our misery addicted species…

Complete article at SFGate

True Patriots?: Millionaires Who Want to be Taxed

From New Deal 2.0
Via Sierra Voices

A group of millionaires have gotten together to create a video about a “mistake” made ten years ago: the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. While they got more money (which has gone to dance floors and yachts), local, state, and federal budgets are facing shortfalls that mean cuts to vital investments. Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson and ND20 contributor Dan Berger joined other wealthy Americans with one simple call: “Tax me.”

So Much More Than Plasma and Poison

From NYT
Thanks to

[…] In the May 10 issue of the journal Current Biology, Dr. Garm and his colleagues describe the astonishing visual system of the box jellyfish, in which an interactive matrix of 24 eyes of four distinct types — two of them very similar to our own eyes — allow the jellies to navigate like seasoned sailors through the mangrove swamps they inhabit…

“The bottom line is, jellyfish do a lot more than people think,” said Dr. Satterlie, “and when college textbooks claim they have no centralized nervous system, that’s flat-out wrong.”…

Dr. Albert discovered that the jellies aren’t passive floaters at all. When the tide starts flowing out, they ride the wave until they hit a gravel bar, and then dive down to reach still waters. They remain in the calm oasis until the tide starts flowing back in, at which point they come up and get swept back into the bay. He also learned that the jellies have salinity meters and in summer avoid the fresh water dumped into the bay from mountain snowmelt, again by diving until they find salt enough to suit their taste. They like to aggregate into schools and through molecular signatures on the outside of their bells can distinguish between a friendly fellow jelly and any predatory species of jellyfish that might eat them…

All jellies are carnivorous, feeding on plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs…

Complete article here

Todd Walton: Something Missing


[The following essay is about interpersonal relationships, though the opening paragraphs may seem to be about disaster, ignorance, greed, and selfishness. ~TW]

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix

International news sources (because American media is mum on the subject) report that a powerful cyclone just blew through the out-of-control and inconceivably deadly Fukushima nuclear power plants, with more such storms on the way. The four nuclear power plants, in the words of the Japanese government, are uncovered, so the ferocious winds of the cyclone picked up and blew tons of radioactive debris all over Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and much of the northern hemisphere. The Japanese government released a statement saying they were sorry they were not able to cover the nuclear power plants before the cyclone hit, but they don’t have the resources or manpower or money to do much of anything about the situation, so… sorry. Meanwhile, the land around those power plants, thousands of square miles, will be essentially uninhabitable for thousands of years; and now a growing number of scientists fear that the megalopolis of Tokyo is doomed.

Am I missing something here? Is this not one of the worst environmental disasters in history?

Imagine a prominent figure was charged, not with raping a hotel maid, but with starving her, and her family, to death

From The Independent

 It’s not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial…

Sometimes, the most revealing aspect of the shrieking babble of the 24/7 news agenda is the silence. Often the most important facts are hiding beneath the noise, unmentioned and undiscussed.

So the fact that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is facing trial for allegedly raping a maid in a New York hotel room is – rightly – big news. But imagine a prominent figure was charged not with raping a maid, but starving her to death, along with her children, her parents, and thousands of other people. That is what the IMF has done to innocent people in the recent past. That is what it will do again, unless we transform it beyond all recognition. But that is left in the silence.

To understand this story, you have to reel back to the birth of the IMF. In 1944, the countries that were poised to win the Second World War gathered in a hotel in rural New Hampshire to divvy up the spoils. With a few honourable exceptions, like the great British economist John Maynard Keynes, the negotiators were determined to do one thing. They wanted to build a global financial system that ensured they received the lion’s share of the planet’s money and resources. They set up a series of institutions designed for that purpose – and so the IMF was delivered into the world.

How Financial Oligarchy Replaces Democracy, and How to Stop it

A World at Financial War


[Thanks to The Automatic Earth: Perhaps when you look at the ways in which the ECB and IMF are planning to drain and sell off Greece, you shouldn’t just shudder, you should also realize that that gravy train will one day make a full stop in your country, city, community, load up all the goodies and leave with them. And why? Because you let them… We’ve handed the financial elites absolute powers over our economies, and thereby our lives and well being, as well as our childrens’ futures. We’ll have to wrestle it back from their cold dead hands. And that’s not going to be an easy one…]

[To really understand what is going on in world economics, this is well worth the time. -DS]

[…] The crisis for Greece – as for Iceland, Ireland and debt-plagued economies capped by the United States – is occurring as bank lobbyists demand that “taxpayers” pay for the bailouts of bad speculations and government debts stemming largely from tax cuts for the rich and for real estate, shifting the fiscal burden as well as the debt burden onto labor and industry. The financial sector’s growing power to achieve this tax favoritism is crippling economies, driving them further into reliance on yet more debt financing to remain solvent. Aid is conditional

Wendell Berry: The Work of Local Culture

Tanya and Wendell Berry Farm in Port Royal, Kentucky

E. F. Schumacher Society

For many years my walks have taken me down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather’s farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and I never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know, the greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth. The old bucket has hung there through many autumns, and the leaves have fallen around it and some have fallen into it. Rain and snow have fallen into it, and the fallen leaves have held the moisture and so have rotted. Nuts have fallen into it, or been carried into it by squirrels; mice and squirrels have eaten the meat of the nuts and left the shells; they and other animals have left their droppings; insects have flown into the bucket and died and decayed; birds have scratched in it and left their droppings or perhaps a feather or two. This slow work of growth and death, gravity and decay, which is the chief work of the world, has by now produced in the bottom of the bucket several inches of black humus. I look into that bucket with fascination because I am a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts, and I recognize there an artistry and a farming far superior to mine, or to that of any human. I have seen the same process at work on the tops of boulders in a forest, and it has been at work immemorially over most of the land-surface of the world. All creatures die into it, and they live by it.

Pasteurization Fetish: The War On Raw Milk

Raw Milk Police Raid, Food Club, Venice CA

Front Porch Republic

Last Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, the city’s Department of Health and Wellness issued a cease-and-desist order to the Whole Life Buying Club, and then placed the organization’s milk cache under quarantine. Since the contraband milk has not been pasteurized – it comes directly from a small farm located outside the city – officials deemed it a potential threat to public health and safety.

In response about 40 members of the club picked up their milk as usual, after having signed the following declaration:

I, the undersigned, hereby declare that I have taken my milk that comes from cows I own via private contract under the protection of the KY constitution (articles 1,2,4,6,10,16,26), and if the county health department would like to speak with me about this matter, I can be reached at the number given below.

As the collective statement of club members indicates, there is a legal twist here, in that nobody can be “guilty” of either selling or buying contraband milk because the milk itself undergoes no transaction – rather, club membership entails purchasing a share in the cattle that supply the club. In other words, the health department was trying to regulate club members’ access to milk from their own cows.

For those who don’t know, raw milk has become

Rise of the Commons — Report from the Future: From ‘Me’ to ‘We’

Privatizing the Police

On The Commons

Rise of commons transforms a rust belt city — Report from the future: South Bend, Indiana, in 2035

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA (USA) As late as the 2010s, the sight of downtown streets in South Bend thronged with shoppers, office workers and entertainment seekers in the evening would have been shocking. Once upon a time you could shoot a cannon down South Bend’s Main Street at 8 p.m. with little risk of casualties. But the area is now bustling with people day and night, many of whom come not to work or shop but simply to be where the action is. “There’s no other place to be,” says Vandana Van der Kamp, who takes the new fast train from Merrillville, Indiana, at least once a week. “The best bands, the best Filipino food, the most fun— it’s all here.”

As much as anywhere in the United States, South Bend has prospered by capitalizing on the promise of the commons — which means assets belonging to all of us, from water and wilderness to the Internet and cultural treasures. The commons also refers to a new ethic of sharing and cooperation that can help solve pressing problems of the 21st century, advocates say. This ethic has come to influence decision making at all levels in South Bend, bringing big changes to city hall, businesses and neighborhoods.

Derrick Jensen: To Live or Not to Live

Orion Magazine

[Dreams — Derrick Jensen’s new book just out: A countercultural masterpiece of environmental philosophy, Dreams is Jensen’s challenge to the view that there is no knowledge outside what can be validated using the tools of science. Dreams draws on the mythologies of ancient cultures and the wide-ranging wisdom of contemporary thinkers as diverse as American Indian writer Jack Forbes, Dakota activist Waziyatawin, mycologist Paul Stamets, and sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, among many others. Their insights join the author’s descriptions of his own life experiences among the birds, frogs, redwoods, and bears of the Pacific Northwest. Jensen invites us to explore the shadow country of dreams and hopes, muses and loves that motivate our actions and imbue our world with meaning. Only when we find the courage to honor the truths hidden in our deepest needs and wildest imaginings, Jensen insists here, will we begin to find the answers to the most urgent questions of our time.]

The danger of the tragic hero mindset

Have you ever noticed how many excuses we all find to not act in defense of the planet? Sure, we all have errands to run and e-mails to answer and we all need down time and the problems are so big and [insert your best excuse here]. But lately I’ve been encountering a particularly frustrating excuse that a lot of people seem to be giving for not acting: they say it’s too late, that various tipping points have been reached in terms of runaway global warming,

Stacy Mitchell: Declarations of Independents

New Rules Project

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago a group of colonists forced their way onto three ships docked in Boston Harbor and dumped more than 90,000 pounds of tea into the sea. This is familiar history to most of us, but what many do not realize is that the colonists’ actions that night were as much a challenge to global corporate power as they were a rebellion against King George III.

The ships were owned by the East India Company, a powerful transnational corporation that had recently suffered losses, in large part because the colonists had boycotted its merchandise. In order to rescue the company and restore its profits, the British parliament passed the Tea Act, which exempted the East India Company from paying taxes on the tea it sold in the colonies. The aim was to enable the company to undercut small local competitors, all of whom were subject to the tax, and drive them out of business.

The British government and the East India Company were counting on the lure of cheap tea to overpower any sense of principle, but they misjudged. The colonists continued to support their independent merchants and boycott East India tea. Their actions in the harbor that night and the British retaliation that followed ultimately led to an organized boycott of all British goods. Homegrown and locally made became the fashion of the day. The Declaration of Independence soon followed; the rest, as they say, is history.

Who Were the Witches?

“Day by day, it’s worse for my people, especially for the women. And that’s why, because of all of these main reasons, we say this is the mockery of democracy and mockery of War on Terror.” – Malalai Joya, Afghan democracy activist

The End of Capitalism

Who Were the Witches? – Patriarchal Terror and the Creation of Capitalism

[…] There is no book I could recommend more highly than Silvia Federici’s brilliant Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia 2004), which tells the dark saga of the Witch Hunt that consumed Europe for more than 200 years. In uncovering this forgotten history, Federici exposes the origins of capitalism in the heightened oppression of workers (represented by Shakespeare’s character Caliban), and most strikingly, in the brutal subjugation of women. She also brings to light the enormous and colorful European peasant movements that fought against the injustices of their time, connecting their defeat to the imposition of a new patriarchal order that divided male from female workers. Today, as more and more people question the usefulness of a capitalist system that has thrown the world into crisis, Caliban and the Witch stands out as essential reading for unmasking the shocking violence and inequality that capitalism has relied upon from its very creation.

Parents putting a pointed hat on their young son or daughter

Call for Climate Direct Action [Updated]


Bill McKibben,
Phil Radford, Greenpeace USA
Becky Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network

Dear friends,

In early March, a jury in Utah found Tim DeChristopher guilty for standing up to the oil and gas companies in an effort to protect our health and our climate.

If the federal government thinks that it’s intimidating people into silence with this kind of prosecution, think again. This is precisely the sort of event that reminds us why we need creative, nonviolent protests and mass mobilizations.

Over the last six months, we’ve witnessed big changes in the world that call out for creative, nonviolent protest, including:

On Belief Systems

Commentaries on Living

One of the things that most of us eagerly accept and take so totally for granted is the concept of “Belief”. I am not attacking beliefs. What we are trying to do is to find out why we accept “belief” and if we can understand the motives, the cause of that acceptance, then perhaps we may be able to understand why we do it, but also be free of it. …

One can see how political, national, cultural and religious beliefs do separate people, do create conflict, confusion and antagonism — this is an obvious fact – yet we are unwilling to give them up.

There is the Hindu belief, the Christian belief, the Muslim belief — innumerable sectarian and various political ideologies, all contending with each other, trying to convert each other. One can see, obviously, that “Belief” is separating people, creating intolerance. Is it possible to just live without belief? One can find that out only if one can study oneself in relation to a ‘belief’. Is it possible to live in this world without a belief – not change belief, not substitute one belief for another, yet be entirely free from all belief? So that one meets life anew each minute?

This, after all, is the truth: to have the capacity of meeting everything anew, from moment to moment, without the conditioning-reaction of the past, so that there is not the accumulative effect which acts as a barrier between oneself and that which is. Can you do it?

Where Food Is God — How fringe religious groups helped launch the healthy eating movement.

Sri Chinmoy

Slate Magazine

Near the buffet at Annam Brahma (Sanskrit for “food is God”), a white-robed Bengali man played the flute on a muted TV. As I sat down to eat vegetarian curries and a fresh, crunchy salad, I noticed his face on the back of my waiter’s white hoodie. Opposite my table, there he was again: hoisting a barbell that was mostly weight and not much bar. The photo’s caption: “Sri Chinmoy lifts 3½ tons with one arm at the age of 55.” A peace-and-love-preaching guru, Chinmoy died in 2007, but virtually every patch of the airy natural-foods restaurant in Queens, N.Y., was covered with his image, his books, or his artwork. There was even a colorful doodle on my mug of chai—along with the words smiles and dreams and his looping signature.

Ann Patchett Journeys To The Amazon With ‘State of Wonder’

From NPR

Novelist Ann Patchet has a knack for taking her readers to completely new places. In 2002’s Bel Canto, she blended terrorism and opera and now — several acclaimed books and almost a decade later — Patchett’s out with a new novel about an Amazonian expedition.

State of Wonder [Available to rent from Mulligan Books: $2/week] follows medical researcher Marina Singh as she joins her former mentor in a search to discover a promising and valuable new drug in the Amazon. Patchett tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden that she spent 10 days in the Amazon to get a feel for the book’s setting.

“For the first three days, I thought it was the most extraordinarily beautiful, fascinating, all-encompass[ingly] gorgeous place

Fukushima and U.S. West Coast: Don’t stir up the dust in your house — The average person breathed in 10 hot radiation particles a day

Thanks to Meca Wawona and Anna Taylor

Some important new information in both parts below. Even if you think you know all the critical information about the initial events of Fukushima nuke disaster, I believe you’ll learn some important new facts in part 1, including what TEPCO and the US NRC knew early on but weren’t revealing. and in part 2, other relevant info like this short excerpt below, along with recommendations of ways to reduce your exposure over the coming months and years.

Arnie Gundersen: Well, I am in touch with some scientists now who have been monitoring the air on the West Coast

In The World After Abundance

Bicycle Washing Machine


Over the past month or so the essays on this blog have veered away from the details of appropriate tech into a discussion of some of the reasons why this kind of tech is, in fact, appropriate as a response to the predicament of industrial society. That was a necessary diversion, since a great many of the narratives that cluster around that crisis just now tend to evade the necessity of change on the level of individual lifestyles. The roots of that evasion had to be explored in order to show that change on that level is exactly what can’t be avoided by any serious response to the crisis of our time.

Still, if it’s going to do any good, that awareness has to be paired with something more than a vague sense that action is necessary. Talk, as Zen masters are fond of saying, does not boil the rice; in the rather more formal language of the traditions

Pedal powered farms and factories: the forgotten future of the stationary bicycle


If we boost the research on pedal powered technology – trying to make up for seven decades of lost opportunities – and steer it in the right direction, pedals and cranks could make an important contribution to running a post-carbon society that maintains many of the comforts of a modern life. The possibilities of pedal power largely exceed the use of the bicycle.

One way to solve the large energy losses of pedal power generators is not to produce electricity at all but power devices mechanically, whenever possible.

We have to break the Chamber of Commerce and the Fossil Fuel Industry, and break them soon

Thank to Don Sanderson

The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out

Forever Blowing Bubbles: R.I.P. Reaganomics Revolution 1981-2011


Like the Roaring Twenties, ending in a crash

The 30-year Reaganomics Revolution will be over soon. Like the Roaring Twenties, ending in the game changing crash. Though more than 80 years apart, they share a common theme song of irrational exuberance: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

Many bubbles, now merging like tornadoes, in a perfect storm, a megabubble itching to blow, signaling the end of the ego-centered Reaganomics Revolution, which must, unfortunately, also take down America’s markets, economy and monetary system.

Yes, folks, that one song captures