The Machine Stops


october2011.org/
~

Published: 1909

The Machine Stops is a short science fiction story. It describes a world in which almost all humans have lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual lives in isolation in a ‘cell’, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Most humans welcome this development, as they are skeptical and fearful of first-hand experience. People forget that humans created the Machine, and treat it as a mystical entity whose needs supersede their own. Those who do not accept the deity of the Machine are viewed as ‘unmechanical’ and are threatened with “Homelessness”. Eventually, the Machine apocalyptically collapses, and the civilization of the Machine comes to an end. –Wikipedia

I

THE AIR-SHIP

Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment

Dave Smith: Democracy still works locally


To the Editors:

Democracy still works locally. Thanks to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors for responding to citizens by, hopefully, pounding the final nail in the Monster Mall coffin, and preserving our farm land.

Despite the silliness of some who tried to confuse the issue by misinterpreting the overwhelming vote against the mall, the faithful souls of smart growth and environmental sanity have once again prevailed. Thank you all.

Dave Smith
Ukiah
~

Breaking the Chains Campaign

Breaking the Chains Campaign is focusing consumers’ attention on how each purchasing decision can lead to a safer, greener, and more equitable society. Millions of green minded consumers around the world have broken the chains of corporate control in their own lives, by supporting organic, Fair Made, and locally produced products and businesses.

It is time for these individuals to come together as a single voice to break the influence of big chains, corporate agribusiness, and sweatshop driven economies the world over.

Economics as if Survival Mattered


From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
Excerpts from The Wealth of Nature, 2011

The end of the Information Age

Very few people realize just how extravagant a supply of resources goes to maintain the information economy. The energy cost to run a home computer is modest enough that it’s rarely noticed, for example, that each one of the big server farms that keep today’s social websites up and running use as much electricity as a midsized city. Multiply that by the tens of thousands of server farms that keep today’s online economy going, and the hundreds of other energy-intensive activities that go into maintaining the Internet and manufacturing the equipment it uses, and it may start to become clear how much energy goes into putting pretty pictures and text onto your computer screen…

The gigawatts used by server farms are not the only unnoticed energy that goes into the Internet, though; putting those gigawatts to work requires an electrical grid spanning most of a continent, backed up by the immense inputs of coal and natural gas that put electricity into the wires, and a network of supply chains that stretches from coal mines to power plants to the oil wells that provide diesel fuel for trains and excavation machines…

Origin of ‘Hobbit’


Online Etymology Dictionary

…1937, coined in the fantasy tales of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).

Hobbit  is an invention. In the Westron the word used, when the people was referred to at all, was banakil  ‘halfling.’ But … the folk of the Shire and of Bree used the word kuduk  …. It seems likely that kuduk  was a worn-down form of kûd-dûkan  [=’hole-dweller’]. The latter I have translated … by holbytla  [‘hole-builder’]; and hobbit  provides a word that might well be a worn-down form of holbytla , if the name had occurred in our ancient language.” [Tolkien, “Return of the King,” 1955, p.416]

“On a blank leaf I scrawled: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ I did not and do not know why.” [Tolkien, letter to W.H. Auden, dated 1955]

The word also turns up in a very long list of folkloric supernatural creatures in the writings of Michael Aislabie Denham (d.1859), printed in volume 2 of “The Denham Tracts” [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895], a compilation of Denham’s scattered publications. Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland.

“What a happiness this must have been

Seriously, WTF is Cricket?


From GILES TURNBULL
The Morning News

Question: Seriously what the fuck is cricket? Please ask one of your British correspondents to lay it out.—G.S.

Answer: In order to have a decent game of cricket, you must first ensure that it isn’t raining.

For a game invented in that global capital of rain, that dominion of drizzle, England, this fact alone should give you a sign that cricket is something special.

The English have thousands of words for precipitation, but only one way of calling off a game of cricket because of wet weather: “Rain stopped play.”

Cricket, like photographic film, or Tara Reid, is light-sensitive. A game can be called off simply because it’s getting a tad gloomy. This, from a cold, rainy, overcast, gloomy nation like England seems incongruous. But cricket was invented for a reason. And that reason was sandwiches…

More at The Morning News
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Careful Exegesis and the Au Bleu Ribeye


From JASON PETERS
Front Porch Republic

I have it on good authority—my own—plus that of a few others who know more about these things than I do, including one fellow who “attended the best culinary school in the country” (a claim I take on good faith, not knowing the name of a single culinary school, good or bad), not to mention that stern preceptor, experience (is this sentence going somewhere?)—I have it on good authority, as I say, that there is scarcely a credible reason to order a steak when you dine out.

The reason is that hardly anyone can prepare a steak as well as you can at home, and I’m not talking about doing anything particularly fancy like aging the beef or rubbing it with some mythical magical rub or any of that cowflubdubbery. I’m talking about nothing more than beef to advantage dressed.

So, as Kipling said, hear and listen and attend, O best beloved.

Choose a ribeye. Do not be impressed by the name “New York strip” or “sirloin tip” or anything else that rhymes with “hip.”

Will Parrish: Paul Hobbs & Ken Wilson — Wine Country’s Clearcutting Crooks


Hobbs’ Vineyards

 From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville
TheAVA.com

Paul Hobbs, internationally renowned winemaker with headquarters in Sebastopol, is described in his web site biography as a “trailblazer” and “prospector.” Those are fitting designations, if not always in the ways his publicist intends. Formerly the winemaker at two of the most prestigious wineries in the country, Opus One and Simi, Hobbs currently “crafts” — to use the term of trade — numerous acclaimed vintages under his own self-titled label, also working as a consultant on 30-35 other wines at a given time, in as many as six countries spanning three continents. By advertising Hobbs’ association with their brand, those who hire him automatically see a boost in sales.

Kenneth C. Wilson, real estate capitalist and winemaker with headquarters in Healdsburg, is not the first person wine industry observers would typically associate with Hobbs. Whereas Hobbs is widely regarded for his winemaking artistry, as a veritable winemaker’s winemaker, Wilson

Can I be your friend? [Updated]


~

Update: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange releases video blog of his house


~
Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline

[Recently an acquaintance told me they had signed an anti-corporate petition circulated on Facebook, and the following day they were fired by their two corporate accounts… their main sources of income. Having also learned more about Facebook privacy policies, I have now removed all my “friends” from my Facebook account except for my immediate family. Does not solidarity demand action where such injustice and blatant privacy-invasion occurs, especially as corporate policy?…~DS]

Todd Walton: He Is Us


Photo by Marcia Sloane

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“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


From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
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


From JENNIFER M.
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


From CHRIS BOLGIANO
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



From JANIE SHEPPARD
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


From TRANSITION BOOK GROUP
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

From GENE LOGSDON
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


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
OfTwoMinds
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?


From TRANSITION CULTURE

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!


From ROSALIND PETERSON
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

From JANETTE D. SHERMAN, MD
and JOSEPH MANGANO
Counterpunch

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.

Krugman:

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


From MASHABLE

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 OnlineEducation.net about how the world of online learning has changed and grown over the years.

Infographic here
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Ask me about my agony and despair!


From MARK MORFORD
SFGate

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 MotherJones.com

[…] 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


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

[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.