In Defense of Hippies


Progressives and mainstream Democratic pundits disagree with each other about many issues at the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protests, but with few exceptions they are joined in their contempt for drum circles, free hugs, and other behavior in Zuccotti Park that smacks of hippie culture.

In a post for the Daily Beast Michelle Goldberg lamented, “Drum circles and clusters of earnest incense-burning meditators ensure that stereotypes about the hippie left remain alive.” At Esquire, Charles Pierce worried that few could “see past all the dreadlocks and hear… over the drum circles.” Michael Smerconish asked on the MSNBC show Hardball if middle Americans “in their Barcalounger” could relate to drum circles. The New Republic’s Alex Klein chimed in, “In the course of my Friday afternoon occupation, I saw two drum circles, four dogs, two saxophones, three babies….Wall Street survived.” And the host of MSNBC’s Up, Chris Hayes (editor at large of the Nation), recently reassured his guests Naomi Klein and Van Jones that although he supported the political agenda of the protest he wasn’t going to “beat the drum” or “give you a free hug,” to knowing laughter.

Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness (Part 2)


This week we present a timely and important series on debt renunciation and forgiveness by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. Today: Part 2: generational, historical, and psychological drivers of debt.

PART 2: Facing forward: Examining generational, historical, and psychological drivers of debt The demand for credit and debt is driven by generational values, historical habits, and psychological desires. These in turn are premised on evolving notions of the good life. If someone thinks material consumption equates with the good life, then chances are that person will get much farther into debt than another person that values non-material staples as supporting the good life— i.e. family, community, and friendship. Where you put your energy and money communicates something strong about the person you are and the way you will interact with the world.

American baby boomers were born into a world of cheap oil, plentiful jobs, and expansionary foreign policy


The Contrary Farmer

The breathtaking photo accompanying this blog post shows a grove of young black walnut trees growing above a lustrous carpet of wild hyacinths in late spring. But what the picture does not show makes it even more wildly beautiful. I would bet that very few readers can guess, in environmental or geographic terms, where photographer Dennis Barnes found this lovely scene. I would never have recognized the locale myself, even though seventy years ago I played many a day right there in that exact spot. You are not looking at some lush tropical jungle, or wild sanctuary in a national park, or institutional arboretum, or wildlife preserve, or refuge far from the haunts of humans.  The location is a nondescript patch of Ohio farm country only a few yards away from a world of gullied corn fields. Seventy years ago it was open, park-like woodland used as sheep pasture and had been used that way for about another 70 years. The sheep kept new trees from coming in and limited the growth of wildflowers and brush. When the sheep were withdrawn, sure enough new trees and these wild hyacinths, which as children we had never seen, began to return.

At first there was nothing spectacular about this rejuvenating forest, but then Brad and Berny Billock

Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness


This week we present a timely and important series on debt renunciation and forgiveness by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. Today: Part 1.

Given accelerating conditions and trends in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, debt will be renounced, forgiven or written down, and how that process unfolds is now of paramount importance.

Will private entities who dined so gloriously on their profits now eat their losses? Can the public who has seen its fortunes commandeered mount an effective response? Will there be convincing practical alternatives to a rigged world economy based in debt expansion and servitude? The answer is “yes” to all three, contends this five-part series by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. The series offers practical analyses and blueprints for liberating the world from debt and thus freeing its people to pursue greater, more productive purposes.


Undriving — Get Your Undriver’s License


Robyn and I biked with our friend Marita across Seattle to get our Undriver Licenses™ at a Liveable Streets event held at the University of Washington, with lots of groups tabling there, low-cost helmets, and more. We made a beeline for the Undriver Licensing™ station.

We were greeted by Undriving™ founder Julia Field and her team of volunteers. Since we’ll be taping a conversation with Julia, I wanted Robyn to videotape me and others getting our Undriver Licenses™ for that show.

Chelsea took the lead, explaining Undriving’s goal — to reduce car use, mine or others. I filled out a short pledge form for action’s I’d take in the next month. She urged me to do something that was doable but a stretch. Since I’ve already been doing many errands by bike instead of car, I had to dig a bit deeper.

OWS: All the Angry People

The New Yorker

A man out of work finds community at Occupy Wall Street.

[A good long read… -DS]

…The protesters in Zuccotti Park were angry about things that Kachel recognized from his own life: the injustice of an economic system in which the rich and the powerful sucked the life out of the middle class. He had long felt critical of the big banks, the oil companies, the huge corporations that didn’t pay taxes. Fracking, the hydraulic extraction of natural gas, was a particular concern of Kachel’s. He was also an obsessive follower of Rachel Maddow—he loved her wit, her agreeableness—and Occupy Wall Street was starting to come up on her cable news program.

Kachel had four hundred and fifty dollars from the sale of his copy of Final Cut Pro. For two hundred and fifty, you could travel to New York City on a Greyhound bus. He had never been farther east than Dallas, but New York City was so dense and diverse, and so full of ideas and ways to make money, that if he could learn to exist

Working in a Digital Sweatshop

Atlantic Wire

Amid discussions in the tech community over the health of young, overworked engineers, Michael Arrington has written a polarizing post on Uncrunched urging Silicon Valley to, “work more, cry less, and quit all the whining.”

Arrington’s post argues that Silicon Valley workers are going soft in their relatively young age. “Suddenly everyone’s complaining about how unfair things are in Silicon Valley,” Arrington writes. “How hard everyone has to work so darn hard, and how some people don’t get venture capital or a nice sale to Facebook or Google even though lots of other people are getting those things.” But the payoff, according to Arrington, is worth it. “If you work at a startup and you think you’re working too hard and sacrificing too much, find a job somewhere else that will cater to your needs,” he argues.

Arrington uses quotes taken from Jamie Zawinski’s 1994 diary entries about working as an engineer on the Netscape web browser to show that people have been working like this in Silicon Valley for over 17 years. It’s the way things are meant to be! What Arrington doesn’t mention is how Zawinski introduces his stories on his own page as a “cautionary tale”

Book Review: Hedy’s Folly

Cross-Posted at Mendo Books

[Hedy’s Folly available now for rent $2/week at Mulligan Books. -DS]

The Life And Breakthrough Inventions Of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman In The World

Actress Hedy Lamarr invented a form of wireless communication that led to Bluetooth, GPS and more.

At the height of her Hollywood career, actress Hedy Lamarr was known as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” For most of her life, her legacy was her looks.

But in the 1940s — in an attempt to help the war effort — she quietly invented what would become the precursor to many wireless technologies we use today, including Bluetooth, GPS, cellphone networks and more.

An Unlikely Beginning

A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes

Megabanks Could Lose $185 Billion Due to Bank Transfer Day

Crooks and Liars

Is there anything quite as exhilarating as knowing that, despite their posturing to the contrary, Big Banks took a real hit, thanks to a broad-based populist movement? Maybe we can move onto the cable behemoths next: “A Month Without Cable,” where everyone cancels their cable for a month and uses Netflix instead — I can dream, can’t I?

During “Bank Transfer Day” earlier this month, 40,000 Americans moved their money from the nation’s biggest banks to credit unions, voicing their distaste with the action’s of America’s financial behemoths. About 650,000 Americans joined credit unions in October, which is more people than in all of 2010 combined. According to cg42, a consulting firm that does work for the biggest banks, “the nation’s 10 biggest banks could stand to lose as much as $185 billion in deposits in the next year due to customer defections.” Of the banks, “Bank of America is the most vulnerable and could lose up to 10% of its customers and $42 billion in consumer deposits in the next year.”

Plus, you know, a lot less money to buy politicians!