Genetic Roulette Movie Trailer


Watch Free until Sept.22 here

Are you and your family on the wrong side of a bet?

When the US government ignored repeated warnings by its own scientists and allowed untested genetically modified (GM) crops into our environment and food supply, it was a gamble of unprecedented proportions. The health of all living things and all future generations were put at risk by an infant technology.

After two decades, physicians and scientists have uncovered a grave trend. The same serious health problems found in lab animals, livestock, and pets that have been fed GM foods are now on the rise in the US population. And when people and animals stop eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their health improves.

This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.
~~

Todd Walton: Going (a short story)


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World.” John Lennon

“Things have changed,” says Caroline, thirty-three, tall, slender, beautiful. “Love would be nice, but my window of opportunity is closing fast, so…”

Marjorie, Caroline’s mother, sixty-five and six inches shorter than her lovely daughter, waves for the waiter to bring more coffee. A few pounds heavier than she likes to be, Marjorie is vibrantly healthy, her long brown hair streaked with silver and gray, her green eyes sparkling with life. She wants to say to Caroline, You think I don’t know things have changed? We’re going backwards! The 50’s are here again, the 30’s close behind, then 1900, the Dark Ages, witch-hunts, slavery! But instead she says, “Of course things have changed. Things are always changing. But love is still the reason we’re alive. To love and be loved.”

“Oh, please,” says Caroline, rolling her eyes. “The sixties are over, Mother. Forty years over. Look where love got you”

Marjorie thinks back to a sunny day in 1967 when for the first time in her adult life she wore no bra, her nipples caressed by the thin cotton of her tie-dyed blouse. She was twenty-two, a graduate student at Berkeley, tripping down Telegraph Avenue looking for love—and finding it in the person of Hal, Caroline’s father, playing Frisbee in People’s Park.

“I admire Jeremy,” says Caroline, gazing up at the ceiling as she always does when stretching the truth. “He’s really quite nice and very bright, and he absolutely mints money. He just sold his third start up company for sixty million dollars. He dresses impeccably, knows everything about wine, owns a fabulous house in Hillsborough, a condo in Maui, a vineyard in…”

William Edelen: A Mantis Experience…


From WILLIAM EDELEN
Toward the Mystery

I recently spent two wonderful days at Ojai, California soaking up the spiritual center of the Krishnamurti home, library, and grounds, including the “pink moment” of the Ojai valley are sunset. For those of you who are regular readers of my columns or Symposium news letters known as “E Blasts From Bill,” you are well aware of the details of that remarkable visit. And you may remember what I described as a moment of mystery and magic. When I stepped out of my quarters to return  home, there waiting for me was a Praying Mantis. I have seen very few in my lifetime. My mind immediately went to all that I knew, and had read about this “manifestation of God come to Earth” in the thought and belief system of the African Bushman: A divine messenger.

When I returned home I went to my book shelves and pulled out A Mantis Carol by Sir Laurens van der Post. On the cover of this beautiful book are these words: “If you read no other book this month, this year, this decade, read this one. -The Christian Science Monitor (a paper many times voted one of the most outstanding newspapers in the U.S.) “Mantis” is the Greek word for “prophet” or “seer,” a being with spiritual or mystical powers. The praying Mantis shows the way.

In the Arabic and Turkish cultures a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca, the holiest site in the Islamic world. In Africa it helps find lost sheep and goats. In France, it’s believed that if you are lost the Mantis points the way home. “Follow Mantis” means putting that core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let it direct your intellect and ultimately your life.

“Meet the eye of a mantis and feel the presence of God. God looking at me through the eye of the Mantis.” The Mantis points the way and the path to relieving the “great hunger” in our lives. “The name of this great hunger was the hunger for love and for a way of life lived in love out of love for the love of it alone.” “This love, this calling for wholeness in life. The gratitude to life which comes flooding in over one as one experiences  again how pervasive and always  near is the mystery of love as though it were in the blood and bone of ourselves.”

From Romney’s dog to Ryan’s run, one thing is clear: this election is bullshit…


From OLIVER BURKEMAN
TheGuardian

There’s truth and there are lies – but we need a third category entirely to understand this malodorous presidential campaign…

How did Mitt Romney first find out about the 9/11 attacks? As Buzzfeed notes, he’s told two versions of this tale: in one, he’s giving a radio interview when a host interrupts to tell him the news; in the other, someone rushes into his office to inform him. Just to be explicit: this really doesn’t matter very much. As with so much about Willard, it’s a little weird, since most people can remember exactly where they were. (I was at my desk in London, researching an article about Bob the Builder, since you asked.) But as an example of his complicated relationship with the truth, it was minor, and quickly dwarfed by his campaign’s attempt to argue that a statement issued by the US embassy in Cairo, prior to yesterday’s violence, was actually a response to it.

Still, the 9/11 discrepancy helped clarify something I’d been finding especially aggravating about this election campaign so far. We’ve heard much talk about truth and lies and the “post-truth campaign”, fuelled by the controversial role of fact-checking operations like Politifact and FactCheck.org. (Here on CiF, last week, Bob Garfield argued that the Republicans are increasingly taking refuge in the “medium lie”, too inconsequential to cause a fuss.) But something’s missing from this conversation. What this campaign has been especially full of, so far, is bullshit.

In his 2005 bestseller, On Bullshit, the Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt made a crucial distinction between lies and bullshit. To lie is to intentionally deceive, by saying what you know (or believe) isn’t the truth. Romney does this all the time. To bullshit, though, is to talk without regard for the truth, one way or the other. The liar and the truth-teller, writes Frankfurt, “are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game”; the bullshitter, by contrast, refuses to play. “He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all.”

Frankfurt has much more to say

David Byrne on How Music and Creativity Work…


From MARIA POPOVA
Brainpickings

[How Music Works by David Byrne available at Mulligan Books. -DS]

“Presuming that there is such a thing as ‘progress’ when it comes to music is typical of the high self-regard of those who live in the present. It is a myth. Creativity doesn’t ‘improve.’”

Great times and tall deeds for David Byrne this week: First his fantastic collaborative album with St. Vincent (which made a cameo on Literary Jukebox), and now the release of How Music Works (public library) — a fascinating record of his lifetime of curiosity about and active immersion in music. But rather than an autobiographical work, a prescriptive guide to how to listen, or another neuropsychological account of music, what unfolds is a blend of social science, history, anthropology, and media theory, exploring how context shapes the experience and even the nature of music. Or, as Byrne puts it, “how music might be molded before it gets to us, what determines if it gets to us at all, and what factors external to the music itself can make it resonate for us. Is there a bar near the stage? Can you put it in your pocket? Do girls like it? Is it affordable?”

Among the book’s most fascinating insights is a counterintuitive model for how creativity works, from a chapter titled “Creation in Reverse” — a kind of reformulation of McLuhan’s famous aphorism “the medium is the message” into a somewhat less pedantic but no less purposeful “the medium shapes the message”:

I had an extremely slow-dawning insight about creation. That insight is that context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually the opposite of conventional wisdom

What You Need to Know About a Worldwide Corporate Power Grab…


From LAUREL SUTHERLIN
Rainforest Action Network

The corporate cabal behind a new trade agreement including Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

As international trade negotiators gathered this week at a posh golf resort in rural Virginia to hammer out details of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), they sought to project an image of inclusion and receptivity to public input. In reality, this high-stakes global corporate pact, now in its 14thround of discussions, is heavily guarded by paramilitary teams with machine guns and helicopters as it is developed behind closed doors under a dangerous and unprecedented veil of secrecy.

What the hell is the TPP, you may ask? While it is among the largest and potentially most important ‘free trade’ agreements the world has ever seen, one can hardly be blamed for not being familiar with it yet. The corporate cabal behind it, including names like Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

While 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access and input on the draft texts from the beginning, even high-ranking members of Congress have been denied access to the most basic content of what US negotiators are proposing in our names.

Demand transparency now! Write to US trade representative Ron Kirk and lead Cargil trade lobbyist Devry Boughner to demand they make the text public.

Thankfully, draft texts of the proposal have appeared on Wikileaks and the website of Citizen’s Trade Campaign. It is difficult to overstate the potential implications on the lives of people around the world if anything like the agreement in these leaked documents were to be implemented with the force of law.

The TPP is called a ‘trade agreement,’ but in actuality it is a long-dreamed-of template for implementing a binding system

How Paul Ryan Would Kill the New Deal…


From THE NATION

Republican vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan is widely considered a leading conservative policy intellectual on welfare and entitlement spending. His budget—loosely adopted by the Republican Party platform—calls for a massive reduction in programs that benefit Americans broadly, and the poor specifically, in order to pay for big tax cuts. But his vision goes further, fundamentally altering the way the United States provides for the poor and elderly. Ryan’s plan takes the social insurance promises of the New Deal and the Great Society and turns them into something far riskier and less dependable.

Ryan’s vision for reforming the social safety net can be explained in three verbs: he wants to block grant Medicaid, voucherize Medicare and privatize Social Security. Yes, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would likely still exist, but those changes would mean a profound difference for the average person who receives government benefits over his or her lifetime. Let’s look at what happens to Jessie, a low-income woman living in Pennsylvania who is eligible for all three programs at different periods of her life.

Medicaid

When Jessie is a child, her parents make a combined $30,000 a year. Because their income is under 133 percent of the federal poverty line, Jessie and her brother get health insurance through Medicaid. After Jessie gets older and becomes pregnant, she again enrolls in Medicaid. She and her partner only make $20,000, under the threshold of 133 percent of the federal poverty line for a couple, qualifying her under the federal requirement that pregnant women living at that income be covered. (Medicaid eligibility will expand significantly if the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented—a bill that Ryan, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party vow to repeal.)

Medicaid is a program designed to provide healthcare for people in poverty, an agreement between the federal government and states to jointly finance healthcare benefits. Since it involves cost sharing between federal and state governments, the federal government requires states to adhere to a defined level of benefits and eligibility baselines, which includes pregnant women and children.

Transition: A new way to save the Net from Big Brother…



Want to protect yourself from government spies tracking your activities online?
Download some software and join the movement.

From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

If you’re into “re-skilling” and urban homesteading activities like canning or raising backyard chickens, then you probably think that working outside in the fresh air is better than sitting at a computer and spending time online.

Since you’re reading this, you’re obviously not a total Luddite. But if you spend more than a couple hours online at a time, you may feel a bit guilty about it.

When it seems like the Net is just a time waster at best and a huge, self-deceiving ego-trip at worst (“hey, I got seven new likes on Facebook today!”), it’s easy to forget that the Web is also a powerful tool for truth-telling and political activism.

Whatever the traditional media claim, everybody knows that social media was crucial for the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Ever since, tyrants and paid liars alike have quaked at the power of the Net to expose well crafted deceptions and to quickly mobilize citizens into action.

Just think of the Internet petition that forced Bank of America to withdraw its hated $5 monthly fee on ATM cards.

The Internet is the best place to learn the real extent of the economic crisis and find other news free of the self-censorship practiced by the corporate-controlled media. And the Net allows ordinary citizens to connect across the boundaries of race, class and nationality that governments and rich people use to keep us apart.

Why Net freedom matters

Any threat to a free and open Internet is about more than your ability to rack up points on Farmville. A challenge to Net freedom is a challenge to your ability to connect with people of your choosing, to seek the information you want and to exercise your rights as a free citizen.

So when Orwellian legislation like SOPA and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allow governments to send their spy agencies online to monitor the activity of ordinary people to protect the copyright of big media companies or catch “terrorists,” we should all sit up and take notice.

Gene Logsdon: Veiled Prejudice Against Farmers


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

American society seems to have lost its old prejudices against farmers since the hick and hayseed days and in fact the small, local variety is probably being canonized more than we deserve. But the class conflict between city and country is still around. The whole simplistic political division between so-called red and blue states has its roots in that ancient mistrust and misunderstanding between farm culture and city culture, or what I prefer to call it now, old culture and new culture. The fact that both town and country people live about the same today doesn’t deter the prejudices. Educated people, especially with advanced degrees, still view those who don’t go to college with veiled disdain while the uneducated still strike back and ridicule college graduates for their presumed lack of practical knowledge.

Sometimes however the intellectual snobbery towards farmers gets even more absurd than the blue collar contempt for “egghead” PhDs.  I got a letter recently from a newly-graduated art student who is also a farm girl. She sent along a passage from a book that I am not going to quote directly because what the author says is ridiculous and he may not have meant what it sounds like he meant, or would like to qualify it. The book is about landscape art, and the author says in passing that “agricultural workers” tend not to like art depicting natural settings because they associate the fields with hard work and the seacoasts with the danger of storms. More disturbing, one of the art graduate’s professors said he agreed with the author.

I try to think of an instance where he might be correct. The best I can come up with are migrant workers harvesting tomatoes in the sweltering sun while being referred to as “greasers” by the natives. But no, not even that works very well because I have picked tomatoes in the hot sun, once right along side migrant laborers, and I still love landscape paintings more than any other kind. I am sure that the migrants, being like most other humans, enjoy landscape paintings too if they have any interest in art at all. (One of them I worked with was putting his children through college on money earned picking tomatoes.) In my experience, the people who don’t like landscape paintings are very urban in their backgrounds and prefer abstract art in all its many forms.

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity…


From CARLO M. CIPOLLA
Cantrip.org

The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are one’s estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:

a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.

b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol σ.

THE SECOND BASIC LAW

Cultural trends now fashionable in the West favour an egalitarian approach to life. People like to think of human beings as the output of a perfectly engineered mass production machine. Geneticists and sociologists especially go out of their way to prove, with an impressive apparatus of scientific data and formulations that all men are naturally equal and if some are more equal than others, this is attributable to nurture and not to nature. I take an exception to this general view. It is my firm conviction, supported by years of observation and experimentation, that men are not equal, that some are stupid and others are not, and that the difference is determined by nature and not by cultural forces or factors. One is stupid in the same way one is red-haired; one belongs to the stupid set as one belongs to a blood group. A stupid man is born a stupid man by an act of Providence… Complete article here
~~

The Chicago teachers’ strike is the next chapter in the fight against plutocracy…


From RICK PERLSTEIN
Salon

I was awoken by honking car horns yesterday morning, and couldn’t have been happier for the fact. Chicago’s public schoolteachers are on strike against the city government and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And while no one likes the budget crisis that forms the strike’s fiscal context, nor the fact that 350,000 students aren’t at school, much of Chicago is finding joy in the municipal impasse — which is why, anywhere within earshot of the schools where the Chicago Teachers Union’s 25,500 members are picketing in front of their workplaces, solidarity car horns are blasting away.

Since Rahm Emanuel’s election in the spring of 2011, Chicago’s teachers have been asked to eat shit by a mayor obsessed with displaying to the universe his “toughness” — toughness with the working-class people that make the city tick; toughness with the protesters standing up to say “no”; but never, ever toughness with the vested interests, including anti-union charter school advocates, who poured $12 million into his coffers to elect him mayor (his closet competitor raised $2.5 million). The roots of the strike began when Emanuel announced his signature education initiative: extending Chicago’s school day. Overwhelmingly, Chicago’s teachers support lengthening the day, which is the shortest of any major district in the country. Just not the way Rahm wanted to ram it down their throats: 20 percent more work; 2 percent more pay.

He had already canceled a previously negotiated 4 percent cost-of-living raise, and accused teachers who balked of not caring about their students. The teachers’ response to this abuse is something all of us should be paying attention to. If Chapter 1 of the American people’s modern grass-roots fight against the plutocracy was the demonstrations at the Wisconsin State Capitol in the spring of 2011, and Chapter 2 was the Occupy encampments of that summer, the Chicago Teachers Union’s stand against Emanuel

Young couple eschew tractor for draft horses as they cultivate sustainable practices……


From ANDREA DAMEWOOD
The Columbian

[See also: Visiting Stephen and Gloria Decater, Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, Northern California]

Yacolt, Washington

To see Dan Swansey perched atop a plow working the land, making soft clicking sounds to encourage his two Belgian draft horses, is to immediately be transported to farming’s past.

There’s no tractor, there’s no exhaust. Instead, there’s Bud and Charlie, plodding through the late May fields at Yacolt Mountain Farm and Nursery, preparing for the season’s planting.

The plow is vintage 1930s, and the horses are from Amish country in Iowa.

“It’s bumpy, but it’s fun — we absolutely love it,” Dan Swansey said.

It may seem that an upstart farmer would want to rely on the quick work of John Deere, rather than 16-year-old Bud and 15-year-old Charlie, to get crops planted as soon as possible.

Yet Dan Swansey and his wife, Caroline, at 32 and 29, are also part of a new movement by young growers to embrace what they see as a more natural way of farming — hitching to draft horses to further their organic ideals.

The passion of young farmers in sustainable agriculture for using draft horses is also reviving a largely oral tradition, just in time to hear the wisdom from older generations before it’s lost.

It’s a slower way of life, and one that means the Swanseys may not churn out as much chard right away. It also means that Yacolt Mountain Farm, which is also organic, has to charge more.

Still, Caroline said, there’s more demand from Clark County buyers than they can supply.

They have a Community Supported Agriculture program, sell at the Battle Ground and Camas farmers markets, and at the Vancouver Food Cooperative and Neighbors Market.

Spencer Brewer: Pat Ford and The Ford Blues Band this Saturday 9/15/12 6:00pm…


From SPENCER BREWER
Ukiah

[See my still-unfinished interviews with Ukiah local legend Pat Ford here:
Chapter 1 – The first longhair in town
Chapter 2 – Playing the blues
Chapter 3 – Fighting fire with fire
… and see you at the concert. -Dave Smith]

This Saturday, September 15th Parducci Winery’s Acoustic Café series presents the final concert of the season with the high octane blues heros, The Ford Blues Band. Festivities start around 7:00 with gates opening at 6:00.

General Admission is $12 and tickets are available at Parducci Wine Cellars tasting room, calling 463-5357 or go online at parducci.com/Wine-Store/Event-Tickets. Food will be available with part of the drink proceeds benefiting the Alex Rorabaugh Center (The ARC). Seating fills quickly so be sure to show up early enough to get a seat at 6:00.

For more information, please contact Parducci at 463-5357.

Patrick Ford established himself on the blues scene in the early seventies. Ford had just left a band where he played with his brother Robben to join Charlie Musselwhite. Only a year later the Charles Ford Band was established by all three Ford brothers, Patrick, Robben, and Mark.

Naming the band after their father Charles, was the brothers way of honoring him. The Charles Ford Band were ground breakers in blues, simply one of the most influential West Coast blues bands of that era. This band has also enjoyed significant record sales to date and a loyal cult following. Following the breakup of the CFB Patrick spent years on the road with the likes of Charlie Musselwhite, Fenton Robinson, Luther Tucker, Brownie McGhee, and Lowell Fulson.

After years working as a sideman to many blues greats Patrick decided in 1988 to form a band to record many of his own ideas.

I always drive in the leftmost lane at exactly 9.5 mph over the speed limit…


From DMITRY ORLOV
Club Orlov

Recently circumstances have conspired to make it necessary for me to drive hundreds of miles all over New England. I don’t often drive. The last time I owned a car was over a decade ago, and I haven’t missed it. I bicycle a lot, plus Boston’s public transportation is not too awful. When I do need a car, I either use a Zipcar, or I rent one.

Driving is by far the most dangerous activity I engage in. Both government statistics and ample anecdotal evidence show that bicycling through Boston rush-hour traffic, or sailing off into the stormy North Atlantic on a small sailboat, or flying halfway around the world on a semi-regular basis, or riding buses and trains wherever I go—all of these modes of transportation are much safer than climbing behind the wheel of a car, strapping yourself down, and driving it on the highway. My engineer’s mind rebels against such dangerously inferior technology. It appears that cars are mankind’s second worst invention, after nuclear fission. To drive a car is to acquiesce in the suicidal stupidity of our species.

Never mind all that, I just don’t like to drive. Being trapped for hours on end in a padded sheet metal box rolling through a desolate landscape of tarmac, highway signs and mowed margins is like being trapped inside a sensory deprivation experiment. Operating a car is a menial chore that reduces the mind to that of an insect crawling along single-file with other insects. Why is it that, after some 20 years of formal schooling, perhaps another 10 of self-education, and half a lifetime of valuable experience, I am suddenly being forced to accept the job of a chauffeur—a job comparable to that of a janitor, a landscaper or a security guard, which are all jobs that should not require even a high school diploma?

Before we get too far, I would like to say something to those who drive every day: You are welcome. Yes, I know that I am forced to pay taxes to subsidize your driving even if I don’t drive. I still have to pay for your highways and your fossil fuel subsidies and your military expenditure to secure the oil supplies and your traffic law enforcement.

Growth Is the Problem…


From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

[“Growth” is over and it’s not coming back, and that goes also for so-called “smart growth.” (See The Myth of Smart Growth.) Dumb growth can be felt locally with:  the Ukiah City Council approval of an outside corporation “creatively destroying” (as one council member described it) a locally-owned downtown business, Incognito, that has been a downtown anchor store here for over 19 years; the foregone conclusion that many more locally-owned small businesses will be destroyed when Costco is also approved to open here; and the rumors of developers pushing to expand our town into the western hills.

The cult of endless growth has kept us from seeing clearly the choices in front of us. Freeing ourselves from this unsustainable path opens up a great world of possibilities for us to actually have more enjoyable, more fulfilling lives.

Transition Ukiah Valley will be showing Growthbusters on Tuesday, September 18th at The Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse 6:30 pm. Come early, 6pm, to find out about Transition Ukiah Valley and the Transition Town Movement. -DS]

The ceaseless expansion of economic exploitation, the engine of global capitalism, has come to an end. The futile and myopic effort to resurrect this expansion—a fallacy embraced by most economists—means that we respond to illusion rather than reality. We invest our efforts into bringing back what is gone forever. This strange twilight moment, in which our experts and systems managers squander resources in attempting to re-create an expanding economic system that is moribund, will inevitably lead to systems collapse. The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism. And very few of us are prepared.

“Our solution is our problem,” Richard Heinberg, the author of “The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality,” told me when I reached him by phone in California. “Its name is growth. But growth has become uneconomic.

William Edelen: Proud to be a Humanist…


From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

H. L Mencken, the renowned syndicated columnist for the Baltimore Sun, once wrote that he had no need ever to attend a circus. Why? Because he lived in a society that was a circus, with clowns everywhere. Mark Twain made similar observations. I always remember Mencken’s words when I read the rantings and ravings of those aiming their tirades at some mirage they call “secular humanism.”

I saw a wonderful cartoon recently. The picture is of a man and his wife dressed in puritan “do good” clothing. She is holding a book called The Book Hit List. He reading a newspaper. The man says “Holy Guacamole! Here’s a story about a school system that doesn’t pervert children’s minds with philosophy, literature, social studies, the arts, history and the rest of that secular humanism bunk.” The woman responds, “Hallelujua! Where is it?” The man answers: “Syria.”

How individual members of the fanatical right define “secular humanism” depends on where they are on a scale of 1 to 10 of brain constipation. An example. In a pamphlet entitled Is Humanism Molesting Your Child? a Texas parents group described “secular humanism” in these words: “a belief in the distribution of wealth, control of the environment, control of energy and its limitations, the removal of the free enterprise system, working for disarmament, the creation of world government.”

For some, attacking “secular humanism” means taking great literature out of our schools. It is called “book burning”… which they did in Nazi Germany. It means not exposing our young people to what a small group of parents have described as “obscene.” By their own standards and definitions, they will have to ban the bible from home and school libraries, for the bible is full of every obscenity known to the human race… rape, gang rape, sodomy, adultery, genocide, incest… and all in lurid detail.

Putting Food By: Time to Take Inventory…


From SHARON ASTYK
Casaubon’s Book

End of summer is a really good time to sit down and look at your preparations and your food storage and take inventory. What have you put by? What do you still need more of? What did you use over the last year? What did you have too much of? Whither from here? September is National Emergency Preparedness month, so now is the time to think – am I ready for the next crisis (do you even have to ask whether there will be one?)

If you’ve been working on this, but you don’t feel you are ready, here are some questions to ask yourself, and some possible remedies if things aren’t where you want them to be yet.

1. Do I have staple foods that I can rely on as the basis of my meals? A staple is a nutritious starch that contains some protein as well, and that can meet most of your needs. It could be a grain – many Americans rely on bread for our staple starch. But it can also be oatmeal, corn (if you are primarily relying on corn, it must be corn that is nixtamalized, so that you won’t get a major nutritional deficiency – you only have to worry about this if you are mostly eating corn, not if you eat an occasional meal of tortillas – so if you are storing whole corn, know how to process it, and if you are buying cornmeal, buy masa, not plain corn meal), barley, quinoa – or root crops. You can also rely primarily on potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips and other roots, or a combination of those.

You can order bulk grains online or through a coop or whole foods. This time of year, you can often get a 50lb sack of potatoes or sweet potatoes quite cheaply. Ethnic markets often have good deals on grains as well. Don’t forget popcorn and pasta.

Here are a couple of posts about staple foods:
http://sharonastyk.com/2008/07/17/the-storage-life-of-grains-major-and-minor/

http://sharonastyk.com/2008/03/11/living-the-staple-diet/

Todd Walton: Cheating Heart


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“It’s like deja-vu all over again.” Yogi Berra

My recent essay Cheating elicited several responses from readers wishing to share more examples of cheaters in high places, cheating as an integral part of our economic and political and interweb reality, and tales of people who don’t cheat being routinely victimized by individuals and corporations who do cheat. So the word cheating was on my mind when I remembered…

Long ago in Santa Cruz, circa 1973, I fronted a jazzy folk rock group called Kokomo, and for the better part of a year we were the Friday and Saturday night band at the popular tavern Positively Front Street, a stone’s throw from the municipal pier. One of my favorite things about that gig was emerging from the smoky confines of the pub in the wee hours of morning and filling my beleaguered lungs with cool briny air as sea lions arfed to each other in the near distance and the somnolent fog horn lowed with reassuring regularity—little waves lapping the white sands of the Boardwalk beach.

In the beginning of our entrenchment at Positively Front Street we— sometimes a duo, sometimes a trio, rarely a quartet—played only my original songs, and to this day I am amazed that the owner of that commodious tavern allowed us such artistic freedom, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when the place was packed. On the other hand, he only paid us twenty dollars for four long artistically free sets (us being the entire band), plus complimentary fish and chips and burgers and beer and whatever tips we could entice from the tipsy crowd. Thus if we wanted to make more than five bucks a set it behooved us to play requests, and to that end we learned to play a handful of standards, two of which were Hank Williams songs, far and away the most requested tunes in that blessed watering hole patronized by many men and a much smaller number of brave women.

Transition: ‘Something in your heart knows that this is what life is supposed to be about’…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[Follow up of previous Ukiah Blog posts on Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics here and here… -DS]

About 4 weeks ago, I had the honour of interviewing Charles Eisenstein, author of ‘Sacred Economics’ while he was in the UK visiting Schumacher College to teach a course there for a week.  I had to admit before we began the interview that I have yet to read his book, in spite of the number of people I know who have insisted that I really ought to.  I decided to see this as an opportunity though, given that most people who will be reading this won’t have read it either, thereby sharing my starting point of near-complete ignorance.  I think it kind of works.  He was charming and thoughtful, and you can either hear the podcast of the interview [embedded in original post], or read the transcript…

For people who are unfamiliar with your work on sacred economics, what is it? How would you describe it to people? What’s the main thrust of it?

The book is about how to make money as sacred as everything else in the universe. Some people think, well, everything’s sacred, and it should be, but if there’s one thing that isn’t today it’s money, and we experience that in our daily lives just making personal decisions. Like for me at least, my impulse is for generosity or to follow my passion, or to do something right even though it takes much longer.  Money seems to block these impulses and to reward the things I really don’t want to do, the things that are really hurting the planet, that might be convenient, or the things that my rational mind calculates will be better for my self-interest.

Money is on the side of those things and not on the side of the beautiful things that I want to do. On a social level, too, I look into almost any problem, any terrible thing, like the prison industrial complex or the war on drugs or deforestation and climate change and I say ‘why is that happening?’

New Junk Science Study Dismisses Nutritional Value of Organic Foods…


From ALLIANCE FOR NATURAL HEALTH

 You’d think Stanford would be above such sloppy research. You’d be wrong.

Stanford University researchers conducted a meta-analysis (a selection and summary) of seventeen studies in humans and 230 field studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, chicken, pork, and meat).

The study [1], published yesterday in The Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that “the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

The media, of course, pounced on the first part of the conclusion and reported it with their usual ferocity, but in many instances completely ignored the second part. In fact, their headlines would lead you to believe there is no benefit to organic foods at all: “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubts on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce” (New York Times [2]); “Organic Food is Not Healthier than Conventional Produce” (Huffington Post [3]); “Study Questions How Much Better Organic Food Is” (Houston Chronicle [4]); “Organic, Conventional Foods Similar in Nutrition, Safety, Study Finds” (Washington Post [5]). Even Stanford’s own press release [6] says, “Little Evidence of Health Benefits of Organic Food, Stanford Study Finds.”

What the study actually said was that they didn’t find “significant” or “robust” differences in nutritional content between organic and conventional foods, though they found that organic food had 30% less pesticide residue. Even though the pesticide levels fall within

Farming without water…


From BRIE MAZUREK
The New Farm

This week, as the nation grapples with the worst drought in decades, the USDA added more than 218 counties to its list of natural disaster areas, bringing the total to 1,584—more than half of all US counties. Farmers in the Midwest and Great Plains have been the hardest hit, but the drought is a growing reality for farmers across the country, including California. While the Secretary of Agriculture won’t comment on the drought’s link to climate change, it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and as global warming unfolds, knowledge of dryland agriculture will become increasingly valuable.


David Little of Little Organic Farm has had to adapt to water scarcity in Marin and Sonoma Counties, where most farmers and ranchers rely on their own reservoirs, wells, and springs, making them particularly vulnerable in years with light rainfall. Through a technique known as dry farming, Little’s potatoes and squash receive no irrigation, getting all of their water from the soil.

Mediterranean grape and olive growers have dry-farmed for thousands of years. The practice was common on the California coast from the 1800s through the early 20th century, but it became a lost art during the mid-century. Today, it is experiencing a modest resurgence along the coast, where temperate, foggy summers

Weeds That Like A Sip of Roundup Now and Then


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

First the glorious days of advanced farming brought us corn stalks that eat tractor tires. Now there’s a weed that likes to drink weed killers, especially Roundup. Recently Palmer amaranth “completely overran” most of the soybean test plots at Bayer CropScience’s test plots in Illinois, in the words of DTN/Progressive Farmer editor, Pam Smith, despite having an arsenal of herbicides thrown at it. She describes some of the plots as “forests of pigweed.” I shouldn’t joke about this because it really is a serious problem, but I just can’t help it. At least 20 years ago, in New Farm magazine, a Rodale publication I was working for at the time, we reported weeds becoming immune to herbicides and the herbicide industry hee-hawed us for being organic nitwits. So pardon me while I hee-haw right back.

Palmer amaranth is one of about 60 recognized kinds of pigweed or amaranth (we call it redroot in my neck of the woods). The Palmer type is native to the arid southwest but finds other climates just fine, especially in drought years. First it marched across the southern states and now is invading the Midwest. I have a great hunch that other pigweeds like the kind that plagues my garden will also become glyphosate-resistant if they haven’t already. Ironically, the weedkiller industry is now advocating crop rotation along with their herbicides as the way to control weeds, which of course is what wise farming understood long before Roundup came around.

What makes this situation almost amusing is that Palmer amaranth is at least 8000 years old and makes nutritious food for humans. Amaranth was a staple in the Aztec diet as well as Mississippian Indian cultures of the mound-building era. To this day, the seeds or grains of this “weed” are popped and mixed with honey to make a popular snack in Mexico called alegria. Grain amaranth is still found in seed catalogs (Seeds of Change, for one). Back in the 1970s and 80s, the Rodale Institute, under the aegis of Bob Rodale, began seriously to experiment with pigweed

What the Economic Crisis really means and what we can do about it…


From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH

We were told that the global financial crisis of 2008 happened because irresponsible borrowers couldn’t afford to pay back their loans. This is true, but it was also part of a much deeper problem. The issue is that our economic system is based on the need for continuous, perpetual growth. It’s highly likely that we’re already in the beginnings of something much worse than a depression, even if bankers and governments won’t admit it yet.

Fortunately, we don’t need to hear it from them. We can tell that something is going on, we have the internet and we can share information amongst ourselves. And thankfully, if we try hard enough, we could just end up with something much much better than what we have now. I’m no expert, however I am someone who’s done several years of reading on these topics and I really want everyone else to know what’s going on, and understand the risks and the opportunities. It’s only fair.

So let’s look at how our banking system really works. It’s commonly believed that banks lend out money that they already have from invested savings. That would’ve encouraged a fairly stable system of banking. Instead, we have what’s called a fractional reserve banking system. This means that banks can loan out almost all the money that gets deposited with them. For example, when you put $100 in one bank, they lend $90 of it to someone else, who then puts that $90 in their bank.

Now there’s $190 where there used to be $100. That $90 lent out will also be deposited and $81 lent again. In this way, money ends up being multiplied between ten and a hundred times. Sounds crazy right? Less than 1% of the money in the economy is actual notes and coins, the rest are just numbers on computers, created as debt. This system rapidly increases the amount of money in the economy, which fuels economic growth, allowing most of us the ability to pay back our debts with interest. But only so long as the economy keeps on growing.

In the digital era, you own nothing…


From DAN GILMORE
TheGuardian UK

Whether or not the Bruce Willis story is true, it evokes one of the main dilemmas of the digital age: ownership is disappearing…

Bruce Willis, the movie star, may or may not be amazed that he’s not allowed to bequeath his Apple iTunes music collection to his children. A Daily Mail story alleging this has apparently been disowned by the actor’s wife.

Whether the story is true or not, it nonetheless highlights one of the largely unspoken – and outrageous – realities of the digital age: ownership is disappearing.

Publishers of books, music and movies have always wanted a world in which consumers of these media must pay again and again for the privilege. And as content moves into digital formats, the entertainment is moving within legal if not technical reach of that goal.

The Mail’s story quotes a lawyer making a key point:

Lots of people will be surprised on learning all those tracks and books they have bought over the years don’t actually belong to them. It’s only natural you would want to pass them on to a loved one.

Natural, maybe, but a violation of the onerous terms and conditions that Apple, Amazon and the other “sellers” of digital content impose on their customers. Despite promotional language – in giant letters – with the words “buy” and “purchase”, you are only buying a license to use the material yourself, and legally that’s all. So, who inherits your library, under today’s system? Nobody, and that’s just wrong.

Now, Willis can easily ensure that his MP3s will be usable by his children. All he has to do is move the files onto

Life Is Sacred…


From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

I retreat in the summer to the mountains and coasts of Maine and New Hampshire to sever myself from the intrusion of the industrial world. It is in the woods and along the rugged Atlantic coastline, the surf thundering into the jagged rocks, that I am reminded of our insignificance before the universe and the brevity of human life. The stars, thousands visible in the night canopy above me, mock human pretensions of grandeur. They whisper the biblical reminder that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Love now, they tell us urgently, protect what is sacred, while there is still time. But now I go there also to mourn. I mourn for our future, for the fading majesty of the natural world, for the folly of the human species. The planet is dying. And we will die with it.

The giddy, money-drenched, choreographed carnival in Tampa and the one coming up in Charlotte divert us from the real world—the one steadily collapsing around us. The glitz and propaganda, the ridiculous obsessions imparted by our electronic hallucinations, and the spectacles that pass for political participation mask the deadly ecological assault by the corporate state. The worse it gets, the more we retreat into self-delusion. We convince ourselves that global warming does not exist. Or we concede that it exists but insist that we can adapt. Both responses satisfy our mania for eternal optimism and our reckless pursuit of personal comfort. In America, when reality is distasteful we ignore it. But reality will soon descend like the Furies to shatter our complacency and finally our lives. We, as a species, may be doomed. And this is a bitter, bitter fact for a father to digest.

My family and I hike along the desolate coastline of an island in Maine that is accessible only by boat. We stop in the afternoons on remote inlets and look out across the Atlantic Ocean or toward the shoreline and the faint outline of the Camden hills. My youngest son throws pebbles into the surf. My daughter toddles over the rounded beach stones holding her mother’s hand. The gray and white seagulls chatter loudly overhead.

Let’s replace our fixation on growth with a steady-state economy focusing on lower consumption, leisure and ecological health…


From CHARLES EISENSTEIN
TheGuardian UK

We can’t grow ourselves out of debt, no matter what the Federal Reserve does…

[Upcoming film from Transition Ukiah Valley: GrowthBusters… -DS]

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s pledge at Jackson Hole last Friday to “promote a stronger economic recovery” through “additional policy accommodation” has drawn criticism from economists, liberal and conservative, who question whether the Fed has the wherewithal to stimulate economic growth. What we actually need is more spending, say the liberals. No, less spending, say the conservatives. But underneath these disagreements lies an unexamined agreement, a common assumption that no mainstream economist or policy-maker ever questions: that the purpose of economic policy is to stimulate growth.

So ubiquitous is the equation of growth with prosperity that few people ever pause to consider it. What does economic growth actually mean? It means more consumption – and consumption of a specific kind: more consumption of goods and services that are exchanged for money. That means that if people stop caring for their own children and instead pay for childcare, the economy grows. The same if people stop cooking for themselves and purchase restaurant takeaways instead.

Economists say this is a good thing. After all, you wouldn’t pay for childcare or takeaway food if it weren’t of benefit to you, right? So, the more things people are paying for, the more benefits are being had. Besides, it is more efficient for one daycare centre to handle 30 children than for each family to do it themselves.

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