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?

The People’s Bishop


Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard was arrested in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in New York City on Tuesday night as he participated in the May 1 Occupy demonstrations. He and 15 other military veterans were taken into custody after they linked arms to hold the plaza against a police attempt to clear it. There were protesters behind them who, perhaps because of confusion, perhaps because of miscommunication or perhaps they were unwilling to risk arrest, melted into the urban landscape. But those in the thin line from Veterans for Peace, of which the bishop is a member, stood their ground. They were handcuffed, herded into a paddy wagon and taken to jail.

It was Packard’s second arrest as part of the Occupy protests. Last Dec. 17 he was arrested when he leapt over a fence in his flowing bishop’s robe to spearhead an attempt to occupy a vacant lot owned by Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. The December action by the Occupy movement was a response to the New York City Police Department’s storming and eradication of the encampment in Zuccotti Park. Packard will appear in court in June to face the trespassing charge that resulted. Now, because of this second arrest, he faces the possibility of three months in jail.

Packard’s moral and intellectual courage stands in stark contrast with the timidity of nearly all clergy and congregants in all of our major religious institutions. Religious leaders, in churches, synagogues and mosques, at best voice pious and empty platitudes about justice or carry out nominal acts of charity aimed at those bearing the weight of resistance in the streets. And Packard’s arrests serve as a reminder of the price that we—especially those who claim to be informed by the message of the Christian Gospel—must be willing to pay to defy the destruction visited on us all by the corporate state. He is one of the few clergy members who dare to bear a genuine Christian witness in an age that cries out in anguish for moral guidance.

Last Message to the Ecotopians: Survival is a Team Sport…

[This document was found on the computer of Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012) after his death.]

To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support — a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.

As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy, and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times.

How will those who survive manage it? What can we teach our friends, our children, our communities? Although we may not be capable of changing history, how can we equip ourselves to survive it?

I contemplate these questions in the full consciousness of my own mortality. Being offered an actual number of likely months to live, even though the estimate is uncertain, mightily focuses the mind. On personal things, of course, on loved ones and even loved things, but also on the Big Picture.

But let us begin with last things first, for a change. The analysis will come later, for those who wish it.

Hope. Children exude hope, even under the most terrible conditions, and that must inspire us as our conditions get worse. Hopeful patients recover better. Hopeful test candidates score better. Hopeful builders construct better buildings. Hopeful parents produce secure and resilient children. In groups, an atmosphere of hope is essential to shared successful effort: “Yes, we can!” is not an empty slogan, but a mantra for people who intend

Will Parrish: Big Wine’s Hired Gun…


Artesa of Sonoma, a subsidiary of Spanish wine giant Codorniu, has a public image crisis on its hands, and on a scale few wine companies have ever encountered. Last year, the company received a spate of national media coverage concerning its plan to carry out the largest forest-to-vineyard conversion project in California history, on a 324-acre parcel named “Fairfax” just outside of Annapolis, on the northern Sonoma Coast.

The coverage included stories from the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, North Bay Bohemian, and of course several here in the AVA. Most of the stories focused dually on Artesa’s project and that of Premier Pacific Vineyard, which has proposed to clear roughly 1,800 acres of redwoods for wine-grapes on the ridgetops and bluffs of its nearby 20,000 acre “Preservation Ranch” property. Rarely has any North Coast wine industry entity received so much negative attention, this being an industry that carefully identifies itself with the trope of enlightened small farmers in bucolic settings living in harmony with the land.

Yet, i’s easy to see why the “Fairfax” project has raised international alarm. The project would involve clear-cutting mostly second-growth redwood forest across roughly 154 acres of the total 173 acre project site. After chainsawing the trees, the Artesa crews would cleave the redwood and Doug-fir stumps and roots

Todd Walton: Sources of Wonder


“Our soul is cast into a body, where it finds number, time, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature necessity, and can believe nothing else.” Blaise Pascal

Marcia and I watched the movie Source Code last night and I loved it. I very rarely watch American movies and almost never watch films containing more than a suggestion of violence, and this movie was made by Americans and is full of violence; yet I did not feel I was watching a violent movie, nor did the film seem remotely American. I will not spoil the show by telling you the plot, but I will say that for me Source Code beautifully and skillfully explicates the Buddhist notion of karma and how through our actions and intentions we create our future.

I was thinking about Source Code this morning while walking on Big River Beach, amazed by how vivid everything looked and felt to me, as if the movie had somehow altered my perceptions. And then I realized I was in a state of wonder, that my personal cares and woes were no longer holding sway as they so often do these days, and I was inseparable from the wind and the roaring of the waves and the ravens gliding through the air and the sand underfoot. I was only there, it seemed, because all these other things were enlivening me, and in their absence I would disappear.

When I got home from the beach, I sat down at the piano and played with such ease and fluidity I was in heaven, and I knew the movie was working in me

If we had a better story could we tell the truth?…

Violet green swallow playing with a feather; photo by Chris Maynard

How To Save The World

Recently, to my surprise, it’s become more acceptable to tell the grim truth about our civilization. Still not acceptable, mind you, but every once in a while when I do, I’ll notice someone nodding at me, giving me a sad smile, a quiet signal of comprehension and appreciation.

Tree swallows in aerial acrobatics; photo by Richard Seaman

There are three (very large) groups to whom one cannot usefully or comfortably (or sometimes even safely) tell these truths:

  1. The incredulous: Those who either know so little or haven’t had the opportunity to think about what they know, that they find the idea of collapse preposterous, unimaginable, and/or unthinkable.
  2. The hopeful: Those who believe that collapse is not inevitable or can be significantly mitigated, or believe that even if it is inevitable and can’t be significantly mitigated, we should try anyway.
  3. The deniers:

Resisting Financial Feudalism…


It’s comforting to think “I can’t do anything to resist the Central State and its financial Plutocracy,” but it’s not true. There are many of acts of resistance you can pursue in your daily life; here are 12 perfectly legal ones.

That we are powerless is one of the key social control myths constantly promoted by the Status Quo. What better way to keep the serfs passive than to reinforce a belief in their powerlessness against the expansive Central State and its financial feudalism?

But we are not powerless. Our complicity gives the aristocracy its power. Remove our complicity and the aristocracy falls.

The pathway of dissent is to resist financial feudalism and its enforcer, the expansive Central State. Here are twelve paths of resistance any adult can legally pursue in the course of their daily lives:

1. Support the decentralized, non-market economy. The core ideology of consumerism and financialization is that non-market assets and experiences have no status or financial value. This includes social capital, meals with friends, projects done cooperatively with friends, home gardens and thousands of other decentralized activities that cannot be financialized into centralized market transactions. Identity and social status

The illustrated history of you being screwed by people like Mitt Romney…

Daily Kos

Source: TPMDC

Quick and dirty, folks. Basically, the upper line represents the value of your work. The lower line represents what you got paid for it. The empty space in between—the difference between what your work was worth and how much you got for it—represents the money the executives skimmed off the top and kept for themselves.

How did they do it? In part, by so destroying the notion of job security that workers increasingly felt lucky just to be able to live paycheck to paycheck.

But let me switch gears for a second here. Imagine if this chart showed the gross income of the wealthiest 1 percent in the top line, but their income after taxes on the lower line.

“What’s our incentive to keep working hard?” we’d be hearing. “We’re gonna go Galt!”

But that’s not what it is. It’s a chart about working people getting screwed. And as you know, if workers start talking about withholding labor, they’re “thugs.” God forbid mid- and low-level corporate administrative workers say such a thing. That’s actually flat out illegal.

No, seriously. It’s illegal. How do you think we got that rule? One guess.

On Being a Worthy Heir of the Agrarian Contrarians…

Front Porch Republic

There arrived in yesterday’s mail an attractive book, new from Chelsea Green, titled A Sanctuary of Trees. A hand-written note from the director of communications, addressed to me, said “Gene asked me to send you a copy of his latest book.”

“Gene” is Gene Logsdon, a name well-known, I expect, to many denizens of the Front Porch. Gene belongs to that fraternity of older agrarian contrarians that includes, among others, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, David Kline, and the late Maury Telleen.

Gene Logsdon: the Contrary Farmer. His many books include The Contrary Farmer, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, Homesteading: How to Find New Independence on the Land, The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse (reviewed here by yours truly), You Can Go Home Again, and three works of fiction: The Lords of Folly, The Last of the Husbandmen, and Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food, which I hear great things about but haven’t read yet.

I had just enough time between mind-numbing meetings yesterday afternoon to leaf through A Sanctuary of Trees. The early pages have a good bit to say about Logsdon’s early mis-education: a preparatory school for boys who were seminary-bound

Gina Covina: Is anything gained by starting vegetables early?

Apples and pears are blooming – here’s Pink Pearl apple

Laughing Frog Farm

Is anything gained by starting vegetables early? Lucinda set up an experiment to answer this question some forty years ago. She planted seeds of various vegetables at one-week intervals, and charted their performance and yields over the entire season. Results across the board: no advantage in starting early.

“So does that mean you’ve never since tried to get a jump on the season?” I ask her.

“Well, no,” she admits.

I too find premature planting irresistible in spite of all past experience. Last year our sweet peppers, started in early April and transplanted to the hoop house in early May, just sat there dumbfounded in the cold, unable to grow at all. Finally we replaced most of them in early June with younger more vigorous starts that had never known the chill of April. Did we start the peppers later this year? Yes, but only by a week. And I’m moving them to the hoop house tomorrow, when night temperatures rise into the 40s for at least a few days.

We’ve planted out forty tomatoes (half the total), and Lin direct-seeded half the Dark Star zucchini a few days ago. Its sprouts emerged yesterday – that’s a month earlier than I’ve ever planted squash here. We’ll see how Dark Star lives up to its reputation as cold-tolerant.

Rosalind Peterson: Call To Action — Navy Warfare Testing Threatens Marine Mammals and Habitats

Agriculture Defense Coalition 5/1/12
Redwood Valley




USA TODAY revealed bad news for our oceans when they published a news story titled:  “Navy Plans Could Affect More Marine Mammals” on August 5, 2010 [1].  According to USA Today news article, backed up by federal documents from the U.S. Navy and NOAA:   “…The Navy plans to increase ocean warfare exercises, conduct more sonar tests and expand coastal training…activities that could injure hundreds of thousands of marine mammals or disturb their habitats…”

What do your Elected Officials Know

In a letter to NOAA, dated June 19, 2009, several U.S. Senators, including U.S. Senator Feinstein and U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, stated:  “…In many regions, the Navy plans to increase the number of its exercises or expand the areas in which they may occur, and virtually every coastal state will be affected. Some exercises may occur in the nation’s most biologically sensitive marine habitats, including National Marine Sanctuaries and breeding habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. In all, the Navy anticipates more than 2.3 million takes (significant disruptions in marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors) per year, or 11.7 million takes over the course of a five-year permit…” [2]

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The NOAA Definition of “Take”:  “Defined under the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act), as “harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect.”  Defined under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct…”[3]

Gene Logsdon: Writing “A Sanctuary of Trees”

The Contrary Farmer

Writing books is a precarious business. I’ve been foolish enough to do it now about 28 times and I never know what is going to happen. I expected to get scolded for my novels (too irreverent about religion) and for titling a non-fiction book “Holy Shit.” But oddly enough, most readers seemed amused, as I had hoped, rather than irritated in these cases.  Much to my surprise church ministers who responded were especially positive in reaction to my criticisms of institutional religion. Obviously there is a great upheaval bubbling up right below the surface of traditional religious sects of all kinds. A professor of theology and stalwart defender of Christianity at one of our leading universities, after reading my irreverent novel, “Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food,” which he says he enjoyed, now calls me, not altogether jokingly, “one of the good atheists.”  In return I call him “one of the good Christians.”  We get along wonderfully. This is precisely the kind of relationship that I think is becoming more the norm.  You must remember how bad things used to be. When I was a Catholic kid seventy years ago, we were told it was a sin to go to a Protestant church service. Although there is still much conflict between various religious groups, and between religion and non-religion, more and more I see a joining of hands to get to the real work of keeping our civilization plodding along.

So I wrote “A Sanctuary of Trees” and even in such an uncontroversial book (I thought), I am getting scolded more than from previous books. My underlying intention in everything I write is to try to show, in what I hope to be a humorously wry way, the direct connections between agriculture and urban culture as human activity plays itself out in history. In the first part of “A Sanctuary of Trees,” I conjoined silviculture with my early years in a Catholic seminary studying for the priesthood. What I learned from the forests surrounding the several seminary locations I attended influenced me more than what I was hearing in the classroom. What I learned in both places led me eventually to choose the forest and leave the seminary.

Now I am being taken to task for rejecting my “call from God.” I am surprised since I thought this was a minor part of the book. But that’s okay because it is another indication to me of how closely culture and agriculture can be linked

Vote Today and Every Day…


Today, May 1, thousands will take to the streets in a celebration of solidarity with workers, immigrants, students, retirees and unemployed people across the world. Occupied Media has journalists on the ground live-tweeting to The site will be updated by the minute with information on events as they unfold. If you’re not in the streets, check the site frequently for live coverage and frequent updates.

Live Coverage: A Day Without the 99% here and here

To be clear, no one associated with Occupy Wall Street advocates or calls for violence and condemns any criminal activities beyond General Assembly approved direct action civil disobedience techniques. Violent activities will be denounced as the work of Agent Provocateurs…

A deep democratic moment, something most of us have never seen and scarcely imagined, turned a small park near Wall Street into the center of a global storm. Everybody knows the deck is stacked. But it turns out not everybody is willing to put up with it.

Without asking permission, hundreds converged on the financial district to stop the machine. People convened open assemblies to think out loud together. Kitchens were built and volunteers served hundreds of thousands of meals. Books were borrowed and lent at The People’s Library with no need for a card. Nobody did it for money. Occupy Wall Street changed not just what we think is realistic, but what is actually possible.

Then the 1% hit back. “If you want to get arrested, we’ll accommodate you,” is how Mayor Bloomberg announced that the very act of challenging Wall Street would be treated as a crime. “Nobody can hear you when everybody’s yelling and screaming and pushing and shoving.” Funny stuff.

In school, we were taught that we are free to speak and free to assemble. Now we’re told we have “First Amendment Rights Areas” located inside steel barricades. Over the last eight months, nearly 7,000 have been arrested and occupations in dozens of cities have been systematically evicted.

Rosa Luxemburg said, “those who do not move cannot feel their chains.” We moved and we felt them. There’s an old saying: water beats rock. Put another way: you can’t evict an idea whose time has come.

It was never about a park. It’s about power.

Moving your money into credit unions takes power away from banks. Planting a garden in the city takes power from agribusiness. Mutual aid takes power from a culture of greed. Democracy is not simply speaking truth to power. It’s something we do, that we can’t ask for. Something like a rebellion.

The idea is simple and yet it seems far off, like a dream. But this is not a dream. And it’s not far off.


Chomsky: May Day

Zuccotti Park Press

People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That’s because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called “Law Day” — a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labor movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energized by the Occupy movement’s organizing, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.

If you’re a serious revolutionary, then you are not looking for an autocratic revolution, but a popular one which will move towards freedom and democracy. That can take place only if a mass of the population is implementing it, carrying it out, and solving problems. They’re not going to undertake that commitment, understandably, unless they have discovered for themselves that there are limits to reform.

A sensible revolutionary will try to push reform to the limits, for two good reasons. First, because the reforms can be valuable in themselves. People should have an eight-hour day rather than a twelve-hour day. And in general, we should want to act in accord with decent ethical values.

Secondly, on strategic grounds, you have to show that there are limits to reform. Perhaps sometimes the system will accommodate to needed reforms. If so, well and good. But if it won’t, then new questions arise. Perhaps that is a moment when resistance is necessary, steps to overcome the barriers to justified changes. Perhaps the time has come to resort to coercive measures in defense of rights and justice, a form of self-defense. Unless the general population recognizes such measures to be a form of self-defense, they’re not going to take part in them, at least they shouldn’t.

If you get to a point where the existing institutions will not bend to the popular will, you have to eliminate the institutions.

May Day started here, but then became an international day in support of American workers who were being subjected to brutal violence and judicial punishment.

Today, the struggle continues to celebrate May Day not as a “law day” as defined by political leaders, but as a day whose meaning is decided by the people, a day rooted in organizing and working for a better future for the whole of society.

Beyond the free market

To shape a fairer economy, we must reclaim the language of freedom.


The 2012 presidential campaign is shaping up into a clash of economic visions. In response to the escalating GOP criticisms of his fiscal policies, Barack Obama has recently dialed up his own rhetoric, defending programs from financial reform to the auto bailout and the stimulus, and castigating conservatives for their “you’re-on-your-own” economics. In this conservative vision, markets are seen as the best guarantors of freedom, and the most effective means of organizing society.  State interference is deemed corrupt, ineffective and a threat to personal freedom. This framework has driven successive conservative attacks on financial reform, workers’ rights and efforts to expand the social safety net.

Why are we striking?…

…or to put it another way – what’s wrong with the world?


Of course, most of us know what’s wrong with the world. We know about the poverty, war, violence and disease. We’re conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we’ve come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life – prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we’re striking.

Our growing sense of isolation and disconnection, whether from ourselves, from those next door to us, or from those producing our food and products halfway across the globe, is why we’re striking. Our forced support of perpetual war waged for and by the 1% – whether explicitly with speech, or implicitly with inaction and tax dollars – without ever paying mind to the true causes and motives behind it, is why we’re striking. Our failure uptil now to connect the dots and realize that the benefits of a cheap iPod, lovely as it may be, would be far outweighed by the benefits of a truly just world free of exploitation, is why we’re striking.

The fact that most of us are too busy being exploited to realize we’re being exploited – too busy greasing the cogs of our economic system to notice how the fruits of our labor never fail to float up and out of our reach – is why we’re striking, as is the fact that most aren’t able to do anything about this exploitation even when we do notice it. While some of us are lucky enough to have jobs and careers that give real meaning to our lives, allowing us to take full advantage of our talents and fulfill our destiny, most of us have jobs devoid of meaning and dignity, yet full of the feeling that we are fulfilling someone else’s destiny. Our recognition that the ruling class’s seat at the top of the pyramid is prepared and propped up by the working class is why we’re striking. Our knowledge that it’s actually the CEO who is the most dependent among us, and that the ones truly indispensable to our society are not bankers, lobbyists and politicians, but workers, teachers and engineers, is why we’re striking.

Indeed, the fact that we have an economic system which functions in the same manner as a virus is why we’re striking. Just as a virus’s only reason for existence is to expand, without regard or awareness of the effect of its expansion on its host body, our economic system pursues its infinite expansion without regard or awareness of its effect on human welfare or the environment. Though the earth is finite, it is sustainable, so we reject, in the words of Michael Nagler, “the inherent contradiction of an economy based on indefinitely increasing wants – instead of on human needs that the planet has ample resources to fulfill.”

We’re striking because we also reject the notion that selfishness must be the driving force in our world. We believe, contrary to propaganda, that most people in our world are not selfish, and would rather work together than constantly compete against each other. We believe that the only people who really care about things like power, corporate monopolies and global dominance only make up, say, 1% of the population, making it seem only logical that we should have an economic system which reflects the values of the 99%