Can a Sense of Purpose Slow Alzheimer’s?

The Atlantic

New evidence suggests a sense of meaning in life can mitigate symptoms of the degenerative disease, even when the illness’s harmful plaque has already accumulated in the brain.  

[…] From a neurobiological perspective, two of the biggest markers of Alzheimer’s disease are an accumulation of plaque and what neurologists call “tangles” in the pathways of the brain. The researchers did not find any physical difference in the level of plaque or tangles in the brains of people who rated highly on the purpose of life scale, versus those who did not. (A strong sense of purpose in life does not, in other words, prevent the accumulation of potentially harmful material in the brain.)

But when the Rush researchers looked at participants whose brains, upon autopsy, had identical levels of plaque and tangles, and then correlated that with how those people had rated in terms of both cognitive functioning and a strong purpose of life — controlling for other factors ranging from overall physical health, exercise, education, and IQ to personality traits and inclinations for depression and other psychological issues — the people who rated highly on the purpose of life scale had a 30 percent lower rate of cognitive decline, over the whole study period, than those with low scores on the purpose of life scale.

What that means, according to the researchers, is that a strong sense of purpose in life evidently strengthens or provides a higher level of what’s known as “neural reserve” in the brain.

The Art of Fermentation…

[Just arrived at Mulligan Books & Seeds… -DS]


Fermentation: To Infinity and Beyond!

I get a lot of books for review, and for the most part, they are wonderful surprises. Because I receive and read so many books, I rarely sit around saying “Hey, where’s my review copy of…X?” Generally I’ve got a giant pile of books that I need to get to anyway, so I’m much more likely to say “Oh, I didn’t realize X was out.” So let us first note that I was so anxious for my review copy of Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation that I actually sent emails to beg for a copy – only to find that UPS had stuffed this book and another in a really weird place and it had been waiting for me for weeks.

Katz’s Wild Fermentation has had pride of place on my (ridiculously extensive, remember i wrote a book about food preservation) shelves of books on food preservation and storage. Not only does it sit there, but I pull it out ALL the TIME (which honestly cannot be said about most of my cookbooks) and after years of looking at it, still find new ideas. So to say I was excited to receive The Art of Fermentation, three times the size, hardcover and unbelievably comprehensive was an understatement.

Marx for ‘Bobos’?…


The twilight of protest

Bobos are terribly eager to see themselves as the saviors of the world—that’s the bohemian side—and will do absolutely anything to fulfill this role, so long as it doesn’t require them to give up any of the benefits of their privileged status—that’s the bourgeois side.

Over the last four months or so, as this blog has sketched out the trajectory of empires in general, and then traced the intricate history of America’s empire in particular, I’ve been avoiding a specific issue. That avoidance hasn’t come from any lack of awareness on my part, and if it had been, comments and emails from readers asking when I was going to get around to discussing the issue would have taken care of that in short order. No, it’s simply a natural reluctance to bring up a subject that has to be discussed sooner or later, but is guaranteed to generate far more heat than light.

The subject? The role of protest movements in the decline and fall of the American empire.

That’s an issue sufficiently burdened with tangled emotions and unstated agendas that even finding a good starting place for the discussion is a challenge. Fortunately I have some assistance, courtesy of Owen Lloyd, who is involved with an organization called Deep Green Resistance and recently wrote a review of my book The Blood of the Earth. It’s by no means a bad review. Quite the contrary, Lloyd made a serious effort to grapple with the issues that book tried to raise, and by and large succeeded; where he failed, the misunderstandings

5 Whole Food Meals that are Cheaper and Faster than Fast Food…

Sausage and avocado

Health, Home, and Happiness

When we used to eat fast food, it was no problem for the two of us to spend $20 on a meal, only to have indigestion immediately after and then be hungry again an hour after that.  Whole foods can be just as fast, without the side effects.

There really shouldn’t be side effects to what you consume as food.

These are 5 easy meals that can serve 2 + 2 little eaters for less than $20 and take less time than driving through the local fast food chain. Have you seen the lines at the drive through around meal time?! I’m giving us 30 minutes to get all this done, with minimal dishes, $20 for ingredients, and making the meals somewhat balanced- not perfect, but good enough that we’ll have plenty of energy and not be hungry right away.

1. Kefir Cocoa Almond Butter Smoothie

Why Such A Lack of Common Sense About Dogs?

The Contrary Farmer

I can’t believe what I am seeing in dog food advertisements. Good old Rover is shown licking people on the face, once even licking a child on the lips. This is so disgustingly unhygienic to me that I have to wonder if there is something going on here I don’t know about. Doesn’t the present generation of pet owners understand where else that dog might have been licking moments earlier? Do I have to spell it out?

We all used to know that dogs carry parasites that can be transmitted to humans. By parasites I mean worms. Yes I know that the well-cared for pet dog is routinely wormed and medicated just like children are, but you don’t want any dog licking your child on the lips. The risk is too great. If you don’t believe me, read any straightforward discussion of animal hygiene and note how widespread is the problem of humans getting worms from pets, especially dogs.

I am constantly amazed at people who get so distraught over the idea of using composted dog manure for garden fertilizer but who think it is just so cute when cuddly little Bow-Wow drools all over them. I think the problem traces directly to the lack of experience in husbandry that our present culture suffers from. You can deify or humanize pets if you wish and provide them with luxuries even lots of humans can’t afford, (and then complain about paying taxes to help people on welfare) but in the end, an animal is an animal and it does not think like a human. Dogs have been known to pick up a baby and shake it to death in innocent play.

Christina Aanestad: Love & Thievery in San Francisco…

The Mendocino Country Independent
Anderson Valley

[From one of our county’s heroes… DS]

After a sweet night of lovin with a man of interest, the city I love became cold.

It was a fun night — he treated me well — I’ll spare you the delicious details, besides, all good things must come to an end. By the next day, tho, he was cool, aloof, and then sick… waves of reality put out my passion; so we spent the night laughing instead.  Bitter sweet, as I slept alone, with no touch and woke up twice thinking, ‘I should just leave.’ Spirit was talking but I wasn’t listening.

Unbeknownst to my conscious mind, hoodrats were ramshackling my car outside. They took a small black velvet purse, my favorite these days, and popped the trunk of my car, where they found the gold. I left my black bag tucked away, safely in my trunk, I thought, with my laptop, the only back up to my laptop, all my radio equipment, my digital video camera and photo camera.

Those hood rats landed about $3,000 worth of equipment that night; at least someone scored.

When I stepped out into the sunny streets of San Francisco the next day, I immediately noticed my trunk slightly ajar — thieves.

Just like that–within hours, minutes perhaps, my life’s work was gone. The last 4 years of reporting, the audio, photo and video footage of Ecuador — the stories I reported about

How lyin’ smilin’ Romney destroyed thousands of jobs and lives and stole his millions from common people…


“I never thought of what I do for a living as job creation. … The primary goal of private equity is to create wealth for your investors.” –Marc B. Walpow, former managing partner at Bain Capital

With Dade Behring, Mitt Romney and his investors took over a healthy company and loaded it with debt. Rather than sell the company, they then had Dade take out even more loans to buy out their shares, driving the company into bankruptcy. Nearly 3,000 workers lost their jobs, while Romney and his partners made more than $250 million in profit.

Kansas City’s GST Steel was a successful company that had been making steel rods for 105 years when Mitt Romney and his partners took control in 1993. They cut corners and extracted profit from the business at every turn, placing it deeply in debt. When the company eventually declared bankruptcy, workers were denied their full pensions and health insurance, and the federal government was forced to step in and bail out the pension fund.

In the late 1980s, Mitt Romney and his partners bought up hundreds of successful small clothing stores and combined them to form Stage Stores. Romney and his team loaded up the company with debt, and then, when the company was at its height, sold nearly all their shares at an enormous profit. In less than three years, the stock had collapsed and Stage was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Don Sanderson: A Madness…

Don and Becky


“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”  – Robert F. Kennedy, 1966

Like a Viking berserker, we swing our clubs wildly, determinedly destroying our natural Earth, wracking extinctions beyond the worst recognized to this point, killing the ocean, disrupting the climate, exhausting vital resources, and spreading human poverty and cruelty into every corner without, it appears, a dollop of guilt. This strikes me as symptomatic of madness. So, I went digging for verification beginning with a definition of “mad”, which I summarize from Miriam-Webster:

1 disordered in mind : Crazy, Insane

2 a : completely unrestrained by reason and judgment : utterly foolish : Senseless b : incapable of being explained, interpreted, or accounted for : Illogical

3 carried away by intense anger : Enraged, Furious  b : keenly displeased : Angry, Irked

4 carried away by enthusiasm, infatuation, or desire

5 intensely excited, distraught, or frantic

6 marked by intense and often chaotic activity : Wild, Furious

To which, I compared that for “Sane”:

1 : mentally sound : possessing a rational mind : having the mental faculties in such condition as to anticipate and judge of the effect of one’s actions

2 : proceeding from a sound mind : being without delusions or prejudice

60 Million Cancers From Nuclear Weapons Radiation…


‘We are living through the worst public health scandal in history’ — 60 million developed cancer from nuclear weapons tests and government data backs it up.

In the videos here, acclaimed nuclear industry scientist Dr. Chris Busby says we are living in the worst public health scandal in history proclaiming that 60 million people have developed cancer from radioactive fallout due to nuclear weapons tests.

Busby will surely be attacked for his statements by nuclear apologists but the truth be told the US government’s own data goes a long way toward substantiating Busby’s claims.

To be precise, Busby claims 60 million cancers due to the radiation fallout from nuclear weapons test while US government data shows a slightly lower number of cancers – about 40 million cancers – due to background radiation in the United States. At the same time that same government data shows  132.76 million will get cancer in the United States and nearly 70 million of those people will die.

What is in dispute here is the margin of error between the governments 40 million cancers due to radiation versus Busby’s research showing 60 million and I am inclined to accept Busby’s research over the government’s which is clearly influences by the nuclear industry along with lobbyists from other special interests groups.

But what the government won’t admit is that the so-called “background radiation” is largely the result of nuclear weapons tests and those levels

Making the Internet Safe for Anarchy…


As the electric grid goes down people will cease to be docile and become seriously angry.

Suppose you wanted to achieve some significant political effect; say, prevent or stop an unjust war. You could organize gigantic demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets, shouting slogans and waving anti-war banners. You could write angry editorials in newspapers and on blogs denouncing the falseness of the casus belli. You could write and phone and email your elected and unelected representatives, asking them to put a stop to it, and they would respond that they will of course try, and by the way could you please make a campaign contribution? You could also seethe and steam and lose sleep and appetite over the disgusting thing your country is about to do or is already doing. Would that stop the war? Alas, no. How many people protested the war in Iraq? And what did that achieve? Precisely nothing.

You see, the slogan “speak truth to power” has certain limitations. The trouble with this slogan is that it ignores the fact that power will not listen and the fact that the people already know the truth and even make jokes about it. Those in power may appear to be persuaded or dissuaded, but only if it is to their advantage to do so. They will also sometimes choose to co-opt, and then quietly subvert, popular movements, in order to legitimize themselves in the eyes of those who would otherwise oppose them. But, in general, they cannot be shifted from pursuing a course they see as advantageous by mere rhetoric from those outside their ranks. Some weaker regimes may be sensitive to embarrassment, provided the criticisms are voiced by high-profile individuals in internationally recognized positions of authority, but these same criticisms backfire

Women are better than men…


Women are nicer than men. There are exceptions. Most people of both sexes are probably fairly nice, given the nature of their upbringing and opportunities. But in terms of their lifelong natures, women are kinder, more empathetic, more generous. And the sooner more of them take positions of power, the better our chances as a species.

This occurred to me while watching a forthcoming movie named “Where Do We Go Now?” It could have occurred during dozens or hundreds of movies. It’s set in a tiny village in Lebanon, where Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully side-by-side for generations. Now the local men have become worked up by strife they see on TV, and have decided that even in their village, without any provocation, they need to start hating and fighting each other.

The women are tired of burying their sons and husbands. They conspire to distract the men from their foolish chest-beating. They stage fake miracles. They sneak hashish into their diets. In a bold masterstroke, they import a troupe of exotic Ukrainian dancers who are touring Lebanon.

Enough about the movie, except for this simple mind experiment: Can you imagine a movie in which Muslim and Christian women start fighting with religion as their excuse, and the men band together to import go-go boys? Not easily. The gender roles in the film seem to go without saying.

I’ve been noticing news items lately about how women are gaining in many ways. They now represent a majority of U.S. college students, and 60% of all graduate students. Their income levels are rising, although they still don’t have parity with men. They are far less involved in violent crimes, and crime of all sorts. They are safer drivers. A child in a single-parent home is likely to be better off if the parent is a women. In the U.S. the odds are that 80% of the single parents will be women; having given birth, they stick around to raise children, while men are more likely to be missing.

Are the Elite in Control or Are We in a Driverless Car?


The Descent into Stasis

Last weeks’ post attempted, with the help of the ancient Greek philosopher Polybius, to trace out the trajectory that democracies—and in particular the United States—tend to follow across time. The pattern that Polybius outlined, and that American politics has cycled through three times so far in the course of its history, begins with most of the nation’s political power concentrated in a single person, and follows the diffusion of power to the point that the entire political system settles into a gridlock only a massive crisis can break. Just now, according to that model, we are in the stage of gridlock, and thus of maximum diffusion of power.

Now of course this interpretation flies in the face of the standard narrative that surrounds power in America today. Both sides of the political spectrum these days like to insist that too much power is in the hands of the other side, at least when the other side is in the White House or has a majority in Congress. The further from the mainstream you go, the more strident the voices you’ll hear insisting that some small group or other has seized absolute power over the US political system and is running things for their own advantage. The identity of the small group in question varies wildly—it’s hard to think of anyone who hasn’t been accused, at some point in the last half century or so, of being the secret elite that runs everything—but the theory that some small group or other has all the power that everybody else seems to lack is accepted nearly everywhere. Whether it’s Occupy Wall Street talking about the nefarious 1%, or the Tea Party talking about the equally nefarious liberal elite, the conviction that power has been concentrated in the wrong hands is ubiquitous in today’s America.

It’s an appealing notion, especially if you want to find somebody to blame for the current state of affairs in this country, and of course hunting for scapegoats is a popular sport whenever times are hard. Still, I’d like to suggest

Gina Covina: Laughing Frog Farm News…

Laughing Frog Farm

Days in the 80s, nights above 40. we may after all be heading into that rare season with an early start. If so, we’re ready for those mythical July tomatoes. Just about all our summer crops are planted out, most in the ground a month earlier than ever. I’m still ready to cover everything in a freeze, but I’m beginning to think that may not be necessary.

Once in the ground the plants face new dangers, chief among them – so far this year – gophers. What about our newest hoop house, the one with a hardware-cloth liner for its raised bed, with seams carefully wired together and edges turned to climb the sides? Oh yeah, the “gopher-proof” one. Last week I found a potato plant pulled most of the way underground in that armored bed, only its wilted top showing. A line of dino kale along one side has lost half its number, unnoticed at first because the plants disappear so completely, leaving no trace but a small hole. So much for my vision of the dino kale as a row of miniature palm trees in the hoop house landscape. Not to mention so much for gopher-proofing. (My theory: the young apprentice rodent-hunter cats, playing with a gopher caught outside the hoop house, casually toss it up over the hay bale side, as it squeaks “No, anywhere but there, don’t throw me into that gopherless realm of the most delectable roots.”)

The bonus in all this planting is the simultaneous harvest of winter crops to make room. The glorious nettle plants made the newest 10’ x 10’ compost pile more than a foot taller (nettles make for a fine-textured mineral-rich compost). Kale, spinach, and chard supply us with daily green smoothies, greens for friends and neighbors, and popular chicken feed. Yellow dock and dandelion roots (not purposefully grown as winter crops but encouraged around the edges of the gardens

My drop-out homesteading story…


Ran’s been posting a lot about dropping out recently, so I thought I’d share my own story. I’ve actually been wanting to write something about this for a while, but I have been having trouble organizing my thoughts around what exactly I want to say. As such, this may be a bit long winded and disorganized, but hopefully it’s useful to some on the dropout path.

I won’t go into details about how I got interested in breaking free from the dominant system. I guess I was fortunate enough to read the right things and think critically about my life. In the course of a few years, my whole outlook on life was radically transformed, and there was no going back. Since then, I’ve been working to break free from the oppression of the dominant system.

About a year and a half ago, My wife and I moved to Bellingham, Washington, to a rental house a few miles outside of the city to start our homesteading journey. Our lot was a couple acres, with fruit trees and a grass area around 4000 square feet that we could turn into a garden. When I do something, I tend to go all out, so I decided to have a huge garden that used nearly the whole 4000 square foot area. I was working from home, so I was able to take lots of breaks during the day to work in the garden.

At first, the work was fun. Being outside and using simple tools. Planting and watching things grow. Harvesting and eating the freshest most delicious vegetables I have ever had. And then, it just got old and tiring. Harvesting pounds and pounds of veggies every day. Washing, sorting, freezing, drying, fermenting, cooking. It just became so much work, and I stopped enjoying it for the most part. Not to mention the isolation. We had moved without having jobs in town. Jobs are the main social network for people out of school, so this turned out to make things very difficult. We made a big effort to go to events and meet people

Todd Walton: Laughing


“Humor is just another defense against the universe.” Mel Brooks

Once upon a time, so many years ago it might have been another lifetime, I got two kittens, a boy and girl, and after much thought and research named them Boy and Girl. Boy was an orange tabby, Girl was a gray tabby, and in the hallowed tradition of kittens, they played and slept and mewed and ate and clawed things and were wonderfully cute.

When they were about four months old, Boy and Girl played a particular game that made me laugh until I cried. No matter how many times I watched them play this game, I laughed until I cried. Sometimes other people would watch with me as the kittens played this particular game, and some of these people laughed, too, and a few of them even laughed until they cried; but there were other people who watched the game and did not laugh at all, which was amazing to me, and troubling. Here is the game the kittens played.

A heavy brown ceramic vase about fourteen-inches high, round at the bottom and narrowing somewhat at the top, stood on a brick terrace. Girl would chase Boy onto the terrace and Boy would jump into the vase. Girl would sit next to the vase, listening to Boy inside, and when Boy would pop his head up out of the vase, Girl would leap up and try to catch him, and Boy would drop back down into the vase. Then Girl would stand on her hind legs and reach into the vase with her forepaws and Boy would shoot his paws up to fight Girl’s paws, or Boy might leap out of the vase and the chase would resume. Or Girl would be inside the vase with Boy outside and the vase would tip over in the midst of their roughhousing and out would spill Girl.

Why were their antics so hilarious to me?

Will Parrish: Wine Country’s Dr. Sociopath


To paraphrase Upton Sinclair’s 1923 book The Goose Step: A Study of American Education, some of the greatest sociopaths in this country’s history have affixed their names to university buildings in an effort to burnish their reputations.

Sonoma State University provides a perfect illustration. One of the individuals most criminally culpable for the predatory banking practices that led to the 2008 economic meltdown, former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, donated $12 million to help construct a new music venue on campus. The main concert hall, adjoining lawn, and commons performance venues are now named after Mr. Weill and Mrs. Weill, whose name is Joan.

SSU will go even further in the effort to plaster over Philanthropist-Cum-Banking Crook Weill’s reputation this Saturday when, as part of the university’s annual commencement ceremony, SSU President Ruben Armiñana will bestow him with an honorary doctorate. In other words, a public university is giving an advanced degree to someone on the basis of their making hundreds of millions of dollars engineering mega-scams that have immiserated millions of people around the world, and who subsequently gave a relatively small portion of the loot to one program of the university, which has suffered massive budgets cuts largely due to the political and economic aftermath of same said mega-scams.

Weill’s honorary degree has rightfully aroused strong opposition in Sonoma County, including from many people associated with the Occupy groups in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. They are conducting a protest of the commencement activities. More info is at .

One of the questions worth pondering in all this, however

James Lee: My Response to Movie ‘Thrive’ Review…


[Jamie responds to this post that appeared here yesterday which included my headline and intro… -DS]

Though I have a lot of respect for Rob Hopkins and Dave Smith it pisses me off when we, who do our own deep research, who think our own independent thoughts, who think critically, who come to our own conclusions, who work tirelessly to be the change we must see, get labeled a (pick one or more) libertarian, egalitarian, liberal, conservative, tea party hack, red, blue or ‘jerk’ because of our independently derived beliefs that there really is an Agenda to deceive, control and depopulate the many.

It is accepted fact by many that Nikola Tesla did discover, and was able to create, ‘Free Energy’ in 1905…and then had his lab and his life destroyed by the Robber Baron J.P. Morgan (see J.P. Morgan Bank of today) because the powerful elite at the time would not be able to make money on ‘free’.

It is also fact that our school books teach that Thomas Edison discovered electricity when it is actually the alternating current we use today was of sole the design of Mr. Telsa. In gruesome capitalist fashion, Mr. Edison used to torture and willingly killed puppies and other small animals at World’s Fair’s using Telsa’s AC to discredit him. He also maneuvered to have the first electric chair in prison use AC to show the world how ‘dangerous’ it was.

One should also re-search the work of Eugene Mallove, former MIT Chief Science Writer, who was murdered after he was ridden out of MIT and founded the publication “Infinite Energy” in 1995.

Why the Movie ‘Thrive’ is Just Another Crock of Libertarian Bullshit…

Transition Culture

[This silly magical-thinking propaganda garbage pisses me off because these smooth smirking self-aggrandizing jerks so dishonestly and deliberately prey on those who care… -DS]

What do you do when you are the heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune and you have spent years surrounding yourself with new agey thinking and conspiracy theories? You make a film like ‘Thrive‘, the latest conspiracy theory movie that is popping up all over the place.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me “have you seen ‘Thrive’?” Well I have now, and, to be frank, it’s dangerous tosh which deserves little other than our derision. It is also a very useful opportunity to look at a worldview which, according to Georgia Kelly writing at Huffington Post, masks “a reactionary, libertarian political agenda that stands in jarring contrast with the soothing tone of the presentation”.

Visually the film is like some kind of Star Trek fan movie crossed with a National Geographic wildlife film, and is largely built around Gamble’s own years of ‘research’ into the question of what it is that “stops life on earth from thriving”. A reasonable question to ask, but his approach can hardly be called ‘research’ due to the low standards he accepts as ‘evidence’ and his all-round lack of critical analysis. His research, such as it is, is cherry-picked to deepen and support his established worldview, rather than the worldview being built from a careful analysis of the evidence. As we’ll see, this is a dangerous foundation.

So here’s the film’s argument in a nutshell. Humanity is killing itself and the world around it because free energy sources are being deliberately kept from us, cures for cancer are being kept from us, all because we are controlled by an invisible elite who want to create a ‘new world order’

Here’s Where We Are — The Oil Journey…

Post Carbon Institute Museletter

This month’s newsletter comes in 2 parts. The first part is what I hope you will find a useful and timely FAQ on current issues. It is the culmination of my experience from Q&A sessions during recent lecture tours. It is also a key part of the support kit for budding presenters out there who want to make use of Post Carbon Institute’s new customizable presentation “YOU ARE HERE: The Oil Journey”*. Part 2 is a new essay on gasoline—what it is, and what it means to us.

Top 11 FAQs for “Oil Journey” Presenters

I’ve been giving lectures on Peak Oil for over a decade now, and always look forward to the question period after the main show. It’s an opportunity to interact with the audience, and to see where my presentation may need tweaking or where my thinking may be shallow or incorrect.

Now Post Carbon Institute is offering a tool to help others who wish to give presentations about our global sustainability crisis—a beautiful PowerPoint called “YOU ARE HERE: The Oil Journey,” featuring a script and images that are geared to general audience with little prior understanding of the issue. Presenters of “YOU ARE HERE” are likely to be bombarded with a lot of the same questions I’ve heard over the years, so I thought it might be helpful if I compiled some of those. Other presenters may have answers to these questions different from mine, and that’s of course fair; consider these to be mere examples, suggestions, or conversation openers.

Here are the top 11, along with brief sample replies and some resources for further reading.

1. But what about natural gas? I’ve heard we had a 100 year supply. Can’t we use natural gas

You Probably Don’t ‘Have Time’ for this Maurice Sendak Interview…


Terry Gross of NPR’s “Fresh Air” interviewed Maurice Sendak four times over several decades, the first time in the mid-1980s and most recently several months ago. Her show yesterday was a compilation of all those interviews, a full hour dedicated to Sendak.

Radio is not so fashionable these days, and most of us don’t “have time” to listen to interviews, but I have to say this is the finest work Terry Gross has ever done. You get a real sense of Sendak’s tortured and in the end joyful and completely realized life as an artist and as a human being.

In one of the interviews, Sendak explains to Gross why he stopped doing book signings for children, and why he stopped visiting kids in their classrooms: he realized that he had become one of those frightening and problematic adults that many of his monsters were meant to depict!

One little boy who had been standing in line with his copy of “Where The Wild Things Are” — upon being pushed forward by his father for Sendak’s signature — defiantly and bravely screamed “Don’t crap-up my book!!!”

Sendak loved this kid, and took the father aside to plead mercy for him.

In the course of these four interviews over the years, he developed a trust in Terry Gross and clearly a fondness for her. In the last interview several months ago, Sendak — who had always been obsessed with death (in a good Buddhist way, it seems to me, although he was actually a secular jew and a dedicated atheist) — in the last interview he told Terry “I’ll cry my way to the grave,” and a little later, “I’m not afraid of death” and a little after that “I’ll probably die before you, which is good because I won’t have to cry over you.”

The Real Hunger Games…


The REAL hunger games have begun in the Capitol: This week the House is voting on $36 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance, or SNAP, which would kick 2 million people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), reduce benefits for 44 million more, and drop 280,000 low-income kids from school lunch.

Visit Half in Ten to learn more—and how you can stop the Capitol from winning.

An Austerity Backlash: From Sen. Bernie Sanders’s website…

France handed the presidency on Sunday to François Hollande, who declared that “austerity can no longer be inevitable.”  In Greece, Germany and Italy, parliamentary and local elections Sunday were seen as setbacks for austerity measures. Sen. Bernie Sanders saw a lesson for the United States in the European elections.

“In the United States and around the world, the middle class is in steep decline while the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well. The message sent by voters in France and other European countries, which I believe will be echoed here in the United States, is that the wealthy and large corporations are going to have to experience some austerity also and that that burden cannot solely fall on working families.

In the United States, where corporate profits are soaring and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we must end corporate tax loopholes and start making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. At the same time, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Austerity, yes, but for millionaires and billionaires, not the working families of this country.”

Peak Stupid…

Casaubon’s Book

Finally, we’ve discovered the cause of all our problems….

Isn’t it obvious? We gave women the right to vote. As Raw Story reports:

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist that’s appeared several times on Fox News, and founder of an organization where Sean Hannity serves as an advisory board member, said in a sermon recently published to YouTube that America’s greatest mistake was allowing women the right to vote, adding that back in “the good old days, men knew that women are crazy and they knew how to deal with them.”

I’m completely on Patterson’s side, in fact, I’m sure he agrees with me that the real problems began when we extended the franchise to anyone other than white male landowners over 21. I can see a new movement to cast off the vote arising for the glory of our nation – women, poor folk, non-white folk joining together to reclaim their lost legacy – marital rape, domestic violence, slavery, illiteracy, being 3/5ths of a human being, lacking legal personhood and disenfranchisement. Me, I’m going to work on the law that says my husband can beat me as long as it is with a stick no thicker than his wrist – bring that one back, baby!

I keep hoping that we have achieved peak stupid, but I fear not so far….this might be close, though.

Book Review: Blue Nights — Joan Didion


Somewhere in his published diaries the playwright Alan Bennett observes that when misfortune befalls a writer the effect of it is in a small but significant measure ameliorated by the fact that the experience, no matter how dire, can be turned into material, into something to write about. Thus Joan Didion, after her husband, John Gregory Dunne, died suddenly of a heart attack on Dec. 30, 2003, made out of her bereavement a remarkable book, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which became an international success, speaking directly as it must have not only to those who themselves had been recently bereaved, but to hundreds of thousands of readers wishing to know what it feels like to lose a loved one, and how they might themselves prepare for the inevitable losses that life sooner or later will cause us all to suffer.

Now Didion has written a companion piece to that book. “Blue Nights” is an account of the death, in 2005, of her and Dunne’s adopted daughter, Quintana Roo, and more specifically, of Didion’s struggle, as a mother and a writer, to cope with this second assault upon her emotional and, indeed, physical resources. The new book, no less than its predecessor, is honest, unflinching, necessarily solipsistic and, in the way of these things, self-lacerating: Did she do her duty by her daughter, did she nurture her, protect her, care for her, as a mother should? Did she, in a word, love her enough? These are the kinds of questions a survivor — the relict, as the old word has it — will put to herself, cannot avoid putting to herself; questions all the more terrible in that there is no possibility of finding an answer to them. As Didion says, “What is lost is already behind the locked doors.”

Throughout her career, in her novels and especially in her journalism, Didion has been a connoisseur of catastrophe. Early on she forged — ambiguous word — a style for dealing with the world’s dreads and disasters, a style that has been much admired and much imitated. Her tone, measured yet distraught, is that of a witness who has journeyed, consciously if not willingly, to the heart of private and, more momentously, public horror in order to bring us back the bad news.

Book Review: Some Assembly Required — Anne Lamott


As an about-to-be first-time grandmother myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Anne Lamott’s latest book, knowing I’d be treated to some great laughs delivered with warmth and authenticity by a quirky holy woman who likes to share her wild journey with the rest of us. I was not disappointed.

In her usual reverent but irreverent way, Lamott describes the trials, triumphs and joys of becoming a grandmother. This journal-style memoir includes interviews and emails from new father Sam Lamott, the 20-year-old son she raised alone as a single mother. Many of you may remember that Lamott wrote a rollicking memoir about the first year of Sam’s life, “Operating Instructions,” which became a best-seller in 1993.

Written in much the same tone, “Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son” includes descriptions of grandson Jax that possess a slapstick quality.

But there’s frequently a self-deprecating bite to this humor, a reminder of where Lamott has been: “Jax drinks from his bottle like a wino with a bottle of Night Train. His tongue lolls out when he gets a good hit, and then he starts sucking fiercely again. According to Sam, he’s saying, ‘All I need is one more slug of that, baby. Just to take the edge off.'”

Lamott never seems reticent to admit her own struggles with alcohol and drugs. Sober now for two-and-a-half decades, she still has to work at it, and humor is one of her great tools. But so is faith. A kind of leftist radical born-again Christian, Lamott shares her faith in such a matter-of-fact way that really, I want to kiss her for it. She shows us how she lives in community, how she works at building and keeping the support of her tribal circle of friends, family, priests, advisers and church brethren. She freely expresses her

Book Review: Imagine — How Creativity Works — Jonah Lehrer

Washington Post

Not many writers can make plausible links among musicians Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma and David Byrne, animators at Pixar, neuroscientists at MIT, an amateur bartender in New York, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Israeli army reservists. Not many reporters do research about an expert surfer who has Asperger’s, information theorists, industrial psychologists and artists. But Jonah Lehrer is such a writer-reporter, who weaves compelling and surprising connections based on detailed investigation and deep understanding. He says that working memory is an essential tool of the imagination, and his book is an excellent example of how a dynamic storehouse of captivating information feeds creative thinking and writing.

Lehrer begins with the story of a pop-culture breakthrough, the artistic reinvigoration that Dylan experienced when he wrote “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan was finishing a grueling tour schedule that had left him increasingly dissatisfied with making music. He decided to leave behind the madness of celebrity culture and the repetitive demands of pop performance. But once he was ensconced in Woodstock, N.Y., once he decided to stop trying to write songs, the great song came: “It’s like a ghost is writing a song,” he said. “It gives you the song and it goes away. You don’t know what it means.” Lehrer adds, “Once the ghost arrived, all Dylan wanted to do was get out of the way.”

Many of the stories that Lehrer recounts in the first few chapters stress the benefits of paying attention to internal mental processes that seem to come from out of the blue. We can learn to pay attention to our daydreams, to the thoughts or fantasies that seem nonsensical. Sometimes this attention must be very light, so that the stream of ideas and emotions flows, as when Ma feels his way into a new piece of music. Sometimes the attention must be very great, as when W.H. Auden (assisted by Benzedrine) focused on getting the words in a poem exactly right.

Eight tips for reading with a toddler…


One of my favorite ways to spend time with my grandson is sitting down to read with him and my grandson truly loves the reading experience…

Reading with my grandson has given me the opportunity to observe and participate in the toddler reading experience. Based upon my own personal observations, I thought I would share with you a few helpful tips I have discovered about reading with a toddler…

Read with a toddler tip #1: Choose quality board books

The books that we currently read with my 12 month old grandson are almost all books that come in the form of a board book.  After reading the book at least one time through, my grandson likes to have me read the book again only this time, he wants to turn the pages himself. Because my grandson is still building the necessary fine motor control to grasp objects, the thicker pages of a board book make it much easier for my grandson to grab a hold of each page..

Read with a toddler tip #2: Get the board book “read-ready”

One thing I do to help my grandson turn the pages of a board book is to get the board book “read-ready.” If the board book is new or barely used, it can be stiff and difficult to keep each page in the open position. To help with this, I open each page of the book and bend it backwards to try and stretch out the binding just a little bit. Bending back the pages help them to stay open rather than quickly snapping back closed every time my grandson lets go of a page… Complete article here.

Kellogg’s Kashi Targeted as Web Food Fighting Escalates…


Kellogg’s Kashi natural cereal uses some genetically modified ingredients. That was enough to convince an organic grocer in Portsmouth, Rhode Island to pull the brand from his store’s shelves.

Then, a photo of a sign displayed on one of the empty shelves explaining what had happened quickly went viral, lighting up the Web. Kellogg Co. (K)’s Kashi unit responded last week with a video on Facebook (FB) defending its use of the ingredients. By then, however, the noise level was rising, with some online groups threatening a boycott.

April 4 (Bloomberg) — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad talks about finely textured beef called “pink slime” by critics. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness with Margaret Brennan.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Ground-beef sales, including trimmings, fell 11 percent to 37.7 million pounds in March. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

It was just the latest skirmish in an escalating Internet- based uprising. Facebook, Twitter and petition sites like have birthed a brand of consumer activism that lets people rally supporters under a common cause at breakneck speed. The tactic has caught on in a big way, taking on one company after another, putting practices under a spotlight: bug extracts at Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), livestock antibiotics at Cargill Inc. and the treatment of animals by McDonald’s Corp. (MCD)

“It used to be the most power you had was writing your congressman” and waiting, said Amanda Hitt, director of

Why Is Mainstream Media Now Ignoring Occupy Wall Street?

Protesters march down Broadway toward the financial district in New York, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Hundreds of activists with a variety of causes spread out over New York City on International Workers Day, or May Day, with Occupy Wall Street members leading a charge against financial institutions. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


Was last week’s OWS May Day action successful? If the goal was regaining mainstream media’s attention after a winter hibernation, the answer is a pretty solid no. As Natasha Lennard, Salon‘s Occupy blogger, noted this morning, the lack of stories about Tuesday’s general strike indicates that “the mainstream media’s interest in Occupy Wall Street has waned. It’s a shame because, as a new report indicates, Occupy has been central to driving media stories about income inequality in America.”

That report, compiled by reporter John Knefel for FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), analyzed mainstream media’s coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests and the issues of income inequality and corporate greed over the past six months. According to the research, the heaviest media coverage occurred in October 2011 — then slowed over the winter and nosedived in February.

Chart tracking 'income inequality' mentions in mainstream media

“As mentions of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ or ‘Occupy movement’ waned

Bikes are oil hungry beasts…

Transition Voice

Bicycles came to us with the Age of Oil. Can we keep them once the oil is gone?

I am a keen cyclist. When I lived in Vancouver last year I would cycle the four miles to and from work six days a week during the warmer months. Unfortunately my job here back in New Zealand doesn’t allow for cycling (I spend weeks out at sea on fishing boats) but I still try to get out on my bike as much as possible. Cycling has many advantages over other forms of transport: it’s free exercise, it’s fun, in many cases it’s faster (I could easily beat the bus over my bike commute) and it’s environmentally friendly.

But hang on. Just how environ-mentally friendly is cycling and just how feasible is it in a post-peak world?

It is true that once you buy a bicycle, the day-to-day maintenance is negligible aside from a few subtle tweaks here and there. Fuel costs depend on how and what you decide to eat. But in terms of construction bicycles aren’t quite as green as they first look and it’s certain that at some point in the future modern bicycle production will cease to exist. Steel-alloy frames and rims, rubber tires and tubes, steel wires for brake and gear cables and all the other components are mass produced in factories that consume a huge amount of energy.

Another environmental concern is, where do good bikes go to die?

Rubber tires eventually wear out and are impossible to recycle without huge energy inputs. More than likely they end up in landfills where there is risk of slowly leaching heavy metals and other pollutants into the groundwater. There are no natural organisms that can decompose vulcanized rubber and so it takes centuries for tires to break down due to physical processes. Steel components break down much faster with oxidation but can also leach toxins into the environment.

Environmental concerns aside, where did the modern bicycle come from and where is it heading?