Religious Incorrectness…


From digby

This Barna Group study is fascinating, but unsurprising:

The findings of a poll published Wednesday (Jan. 23), reveal a “double standard” among a significant portion of evangelicals on the question of religious liberty, said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, a California think tank that studies American religion and culture.

While these Christians are particularly concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country, “they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture,” said Kinnamon.

“They cannot have it both ways,” he said. “This does not mean putting Judeo-Christian values aside, but it will require a renegotiation of those values in the public square as America increasingly becomes a multi-faith nation.”

Yes, they can have it both ways. They believe the constitution is a Christian tract that requires the American government to follow the Bible. To them “religious freedom” means that Christianity must guide the entire nation. And they have con artists out there “proving” it every day:

Evangelical Fundamentalists and their Delusional Persecution Complex…


This is a picture of Anne Hutchinson being expelled by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Or, for evangelicals, this is a picture of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony being cruelly persecuted by the wicked Anne Hutchinson.


After discussing the limits of the survey research and data supplied by the Barna Group, let’s turn to the merits of it, and what such research can tell us.

Barna surveys may not always help to tell us about how behavior actually corresponds to attitudes or perceptions, but they can be quite helpful in telling us how widespread particular attitudes or perceptions actually are.

For example, a friend of mine dislikes Brussels sprouts and says, “No one likes Brussels sprouts.” That’s quite a sweeping claim, but to what extent is it true? A survey is a useful way of finding out. We can measure what percentage of people share my friend’s dislike,* and thereby see whether her opinion is broadly representative or if she is an outlier — whether she is an exception to the norm or an accurate reflection

Robert Ingersoll: The Great Infidels…


I have sometimes thought that it will not make great and splendid character to rock children in the cradle of hypocrisy. I do not believe that the tendency is to make men and women brave and glorious when you tell them that there are certain ideas upon certain subjects that they must never express; that they must go through life with a pretence as a shield; that their neighbors will think much more of them if they will only keep still; and that above all is a God who despises one who honestly expresses what he believes. For my part, I believe men will be nearer honest in business, in politics, grander in art — in everything that is good and grand and beautiful, if they are taught from the cradle to the coffin to tell their honest opinion.

Neither do I believe thought to be dangerous. It is incredible that only idiots are absolutely sure of salvation. It is incredible that the more brain you have the less your chance is. There can be no danger in honest thought, and if the world ever advances beyond what it is to-day

Colorado Farmers Begin Planting Hemp Under New Legalization. What about Mendo?…

Natural Society

[See also James Lee, Anderson Valley, on Local Hemp below and thanks for video above… DS]

Many farmers in Colorado will be expanding their list of planted crops this Spring after groundbreaking legislation was passed last November that allowed not only for the legalization of marijuana, but hemp as well. Now in case you’re not familiar, hemp is actually a multi-purpose substance that does not produce the high effects of marijuana. In fact, it’s mainly used as a super cheap and highly efficient building material — at least in other nations where ridiculous bans are not enforced on the ‘high-free’ material.

Colorado farmers like Michael Bowman will be planting 100 acres of hemp to be harvested and sold off as not only building material, but a highly nutritious superfood. While marijuana is considerably high in the substance known as THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which of course is the compound that produces the ‘high’ effects, it’s also significantly low in what’s known as CDB (cannabidiol). That’s where hemp comes in. Both THC and CDB are known as cannabinoids, but hemp is particularly high in CDB while lacking in THC.

Gene Logsdon: The Artists In My Barn



Years ago, a popular folk story told of a farmer who went to a museum and discovered abstract art, especially free-form sculptures. Some of the latter looked vaguely familiar to him. Back home, doing chores, he realized why. The salt block his sheep and cows had been licking on looked remarkably like some of the sculptures in the museum. Hmmm. By and by he arranged to get one of his half-eaten salt blocks into an art display. The block, worked on for weeks by dedicated sheepish tongues, had been turned into a glistening white flow of curve and undulation, its evocative indentations and protrusions suggesting the erotic and exotic, a creative energy yearning to break loose from the chains of gross matter, a deft hint of the eternal verities… and all that horse manure that art critics know how to spread so well.

Yes, you guessed it. The sheep-sculpted salt block won first place in the art contest and someone paid a couple thousand dollars to take it home and display it proudly as an example of the grand height to which abstract art had climbed in these oh so modern times.

Never make too much fun of human folly. The craziest stories have a way of coming true. I just learned (a segment on NPR) that out in Oregon

Evo Morales’ Manifesto…


How To Save The World

Evo Morales’ Manifesto: The President of Bolivia made a speech to his people last month that contained the following remarkable statement:

Let us witness the end of this age of violence against human beings and nature and let us move into a new age. An age where human beings and Mother Earth are one, and where all people live in harmony and balance with the entire cosmos… We are the Rainbow Warriors, the Warriors of right living, the rebels of the world. Here we give you ten ways to confront capitalism and start building a culture of life:

  • Rebuild democracy and politics, transferring power to the poor and putting it at the service of the people
  • More social and human rights, not the commodification of human needs
  • Decolonize our peoples and cultures to build a communitarian socialism of well-being
  • A real environmental policy to stand against the environmental colonialism of the ‘green economy’
  • Sovereignty over natural resources as a prerequisite for the emancipation from neocolonial domination and a movement towards integral development of peoples

FDR’s Four Freedoms: Diminished and Defiled…


Common Dreams

 If asked why we live in a great country, an American is likely to respond: “Because we are free.” Fortunately for the respondent, explanation is rarely required. Freedom is difficult to define, and today it seems to exist more in our minds than in reality.

In a 1941 Message to Congress Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to explain what it means to be free. He outlined the “four essential human freedoms”:

The first is freedom of speech and expression…
The second is freedom of every person to worship…
The third is freedom from want…
The fourth is freedom from fear.

The 2013 version shows how our freedoms have been diminished, or corrupted into totally different forms.

Freedom from Want? Poverty Keeps Getting Worse.

William Edelen: Free of the Biblical God…


The Contrary Minister

Blessed are the Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Mystics, Humanists, Free Thinkers, Taoist, Buddhist and all others who do not have an archaic, primitive God in their mind/brains.

Blessed are they for they do not believe that a God is on their side.

Blessed are they for they do not participate in holy wars, Jihads or Crusades.

Blessed are they for they would never be martyrs for the “Glory of God.”

Blessed are they for they do not condemn others as heretics or infidels.

Blessed are they for they do not conduct inquisitions nor slaughter millions of women as “witches.”

Blessed are they who do not participate in sectarian violence, nor harass little Catholic school girls

Game Over…

The Morning News

The NFL is an emperor with no clothes, no morals, and vaults of gold. As we prepare for Super Bowl XLVII, author Dave Zirin explains how greed and corruption have ruined the game, endangered players, and fleeced the public.

Sportswriter Dave Zirin has a new book out, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down. A proud lefty with the attendant bona fides—he writes a column for the Nation, and one of his previous books borrowed its title from a Public Enemy song—Zirin is bold, smart, and occasionally angry.

The new book deals with stuff we don’t tend to think about as we’re settling in for a 1 o’clock kickoff on Sunday afternoon—the problematic relationship between team owners and lawmakers, the hypocrisies of the NCAA, the unlikely influence of the Occupy movement on a handful of outspoken athletes. Zirin has also spent lots of time thinking and writing about the culture of pro football. So with the Super Bowl just ahead, it seemed like a good time to call him up and ask a few questions.

Kevin Canfield: The biggest concern in football today centers on the health of the players. This month we found out that Junior Seau, the great linebacker who played in a Super Bowl just five years ago, had a degenerative brain disease

Todd Walton: My Big Trip, Part One

Under The Table

Part Two  Part Three

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe.” Anatole France

In 1976, when I was twenty-six and working as a landscaper in southern Oregon, my big dream was go to New York and meet my literary agent Dorothy Pittman for the first time, and also say hello to the magazine editors at Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, and Gallery who had bought my short stories; and to rub shoulders, I hoped, with others of my kind. For those of you unfamiliar with Gallery, it was a low rent offshoot of Penthouse with lots of raunchy photos of naked women and quasi-pornographic letters-to-the-editor and the occasional marvelous short story by Todd Walton. I was somewhat embarrassed to have my stories therein, but thrilled to be paid for my writing.

Standing in the way of my dream was lack of cash. When I worked as a landscaper, I made six dollars an hour, which was good pay for physical labor in those days, but the work was sporadic and I often made just enough to cover my rent and groceries. Then one day my boss called to say he’d landed a contract to landscape both sides of a freeway overpass in Medford and would need me fulltime for two months, and since it was a state job

The Corrupt Privatization of our Public Schools…



For all the progressivism of President Obama’s 2nd Inaugural speech, there were still a number of elements of “New Democrat” dreck. Among them was this:

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.

Sounds great in theory, right? Well, here’s what that “school reform” looks like in practice, courtesy of some fantastic investigative reporting by Greg Hinz who does the sort of real journalism the Villagers long since stopped doing:

Here’s a story only a Chicagoan could really appreciate, a story about how one chain of privately operated charter schools recently almost got a whopping $35 million grant — as much as Chicago Public Schools were to get for the entire city — thanks to a well-placed pol or two.

I love Springfield.

I first heard about the story from Parents United for Responsible Education

Rape and Violence Are First of All Male and Authoritarian…



A Rape a Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year 
Hate Crimes in America (and Elsewhere) 

Here in the United States, where there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime, the rape and gruesome murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi on December 16th was treated as an exceptional incident. The story of the alleged rape of an unconscious teenager by members of the Steubenville High School football team was still unfolding, and gang rapes aren’t that unusual here either. Take your pick: some of the 20 men who gang-raped an 11-year-old in Cleveland, Texas, were sentenced in November, while the instigator of the gang rape of a 16-year-old in Richmond, California, was sentenced in October, and four men who gang-raped a 15-year-old near New Orleans were sentenced in April, though the six men who gang-raped a 14-year-old in Chicago last fall are still at large.  Not that I actually went out looking for incidents: they’re everywhere in the news, though no one adds them up and indicates that there might actually be a pattern.

There is, however, a pattern of violence against women that’s broad and deep and horrific and incessantly overlooked. Occasionally

Why Pushing Creationism Is So Important To Wingnuts…



One thing I kind of love, as a lover of dramatic irony going down in real life, is contrasting the inevitable elders squawking “kids these days” with the actual realities of how irritatingly great kids these days often are. Like 19-year-old Zack Kopplin, who is making news going on the rampage against voucher schools that are basically being established with an eye towards using public funding for religious instruction. He has an editorial up at Melissa Harris-Perry’s blog about how serious the problem is of voucher schools replacing science education with creationist religious beliefs.

Here are a few highlights from creationist voucher schools I have identified:

  • The Beverly Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, teaches “Evidence of a Flood,” and “Evidence against Evolution,” and ”The Evolution of Man: A Mistaken Belief.”
  • Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough, Georgia says,“The universe, a direct creation of God, refutes the man-made idea of evolution. Students will be called upon to see the divine order of creation and its implications on other subject areas.
  • Life Christian Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma says their life science class will

Gene Logsdon: January Thaw


The Contrary Farmer

One of my favorite winter pastimes is scouting for the very earliest sign of new plant life as the days begin to lengthen. From other years, I had decided that winter aconites and snowdrops were the champions of the game called First Growth. Especially this year, these flowers bloomed on January 13th, unusual for northern Ohio. But the conditions were right: a rather mild early December and then six inches of snow on top of unfrozen ground. Then came a January thaw and the temperature got up into the 50s, even into the 60s.  The snow melted and voila! The protected yard next to the house suddenly came alive with yellow and white splashes of these two flowers. They were very cagey, however. They did not open the whole way, and so they might be able to withstand considerable cold weather sure to come again.

But, as gratifying as it was to see these early bloomers earlier than ever, they did not win this year’s championship game of New Growth. On the north side of the machinery shed, I was clearing away brush and small trees in December when I noticed lumps of moss in the building’s shade under the brushy growth, dark green from fall growth. But then suddenly in the first days of January, the dark green was suddenly overlain by light green new growth. (You can see it in the photo above. That rounded mound of moss

Better Food Equals Better Climate…


The Atlantic

The National Climate Assessment, released this week, predicted increasingly negative impact of weather extremes on crops. But with industrialized farming as a key player in greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, the vicious cycle needs breaking.

This past year treated us to a climate change preview in spades: crazy heat waves, prolonged drought, and epic storms like Sandy. To help us stabilize the climate, before we reach the point of no return, we must tap the immense potential of our food system.

Since becoming an agrarian society, we’ve known that growing food successfully depends on climate stability. Not enough water, crops wither and die. Too much, they rot. Beyond this, we know that crops have specific climatic requirements. Wheat, for instance, grows best in a dry, mild climate. Stone fruits like cherries need a minimum number of “chill hours” in order to blossom and later fruit. Intense heat disrupts pollination and can even shut down photosynthesis. These are basic parameters. If we continue to disregard them, food will become more scarce over time and we will go hungry. Indeed, as the National Climate Assessment, the government’s 1,146-page report released earlier this week states: “The rising incidence of weather extremes will have increasingly negative impacts on crop and livestock productivity because critical thresholds are already being exceeded.”

Do We Really Want To Live Without The Post Office?



Petition to Save the Post Office Now

The postal service is not a federal agency. It does not cost taxpayers a dollar. It loses money only because Congress mandates that it do so. What it is is a miracle of high technology and human touch. It’s what binds us together as a country.

The letter is mailed from Gold Hill, Oregon.

The eleven hundred residents of this lingering gold-rush town, mostly mechanics and carpenters and retail clerks in other places, wake with the sun and end their day with a walk to the aluminum mailbox bolted to a post at the edge of their yard. In between, Carrie Grabenhorst heads out of town on highway 99, follows the Rogue River, and turns right on Sardine Creek Road. She turns left at a large madrone tree and heads up a quarter mile of dirt road, takes the right fork, goes past the sagging red barn to a white clapboard house with green trim, where she takes a dog biscuit from her pocket and offers it to the large golden retriever. It’s a Monday, about 2:00 p.m. The dog stops barking. This is the usual peace, negotiated after thousands of visits over eighteen years.

Often Grabenhorst’s elderly customers are waiting at the door, or even by the mailbox, for her right-hand-drive Jeep

Gina Covina: First Harvest for Laytonville Seed Growers Co-op


Laughing Frog Farm

Here’s a visual report on the first seed-sharing gathering of the Mendocino Seed Growers Co-op – at this point more accurately called the Laytonville Seed Growers Co-op, as that’s who came to yesterday’s event at the Laytonville Grange. It looked like a small group of gardeners – a baker’s dozen in all – until we got out our seeds. An altogether awesome collection, many with amazing stories and long local histories. By the end of the evening I was overwhelmed by the abundance of valuable genetic material, the breadth and depth of information exchanged, and the commitment to the future of food shown by beginning seed-savers and old-timers alike.

Above are some of the contributions, clockwise starting at the top: Crane melon, Bale bean, Orca bean, San Marzano tomato, hull-less pumpkin, Sweet Meat squash, Principe Borghese tomato, red mustard, Trombetta squash, Cannellini bean, Shintokiwa cucumber, Mache (aka corn salad). And in the center

There’s More to Life Than Being Happy…


The Atlantic

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished — but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, “Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation.” Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, “Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?”

As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing

It’s about time someone injected the word ‘fascism’ back into our political debate…


Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, doesn’t know what a fascist is.

Speaking with NPR last week, multimillionaire Mackey  tried to express how much he hates Obamacare. Back in 2009, he hated Obamacare so much that he called it “socialism.” But now, in 2013, Mackey thinks Obamacare is “fascism.”

“Technically speaking, [Obamacare] is more like fascism,” he said. “Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it, and that’s what’s happening with our healthcare programs and these reforms.”

Mackey has since  walked back this description saying he “regrets using that word now” because there’s “so much baggage attached to it.”

But, whether Mackey meant to or not, it’s about time someone injected the word fascism back into our political debate. Especially now that corporations wield more power today than they have in America since the Robber Baron Era.

Sex Is An Ecological Act…



A lot of readers have emailed to ask why I’m writing a book about sex.  Have I given up writing about energy and environmental issues?  Have I dumped big issues for small ones  – instead of writing about how we should live in this new world, offering suggestions for the best sustainable dildo?  Am I selling out?

To those questions I would answer “1. No.  2. Mostly not and 3. I think you have to get paid a LOT more than I get for a book contract to be accused of selling out.”  Meanwhile I’m taking my larger framework from the simple idea that sex is the starting point of a lot of our larger ecological issues – that sex, as Vandana Shiva has put it, is fundamentally “an ecological act.”

Most people’s minds leap first to population, which is, of course, a consequence of the sexual act.  There is more to it, though, than that.  In the broader definition of sex, we find many of the root causes of our predicament – and a space in which unexamined relationships between sex and energy and sex and environment are likely to produce unintended consequences.  The very fact that we think that sex and environment have little or nothing to do with one another is a sign of what we are missing – and what we put in danger by missing it.

To take one single example

William Edelen: The Ten Commandments — A Cultic Code of Taboos…

The Contrary Minister

No one has so put the Ten Commandments in perspective better than the famous actress Ruth Gordon, probably without even realizing it. she said to an audience: “There is one commandment I have never broken… I can assure you I have never coveted my neighbor’s wife.”

Perhaps few other parts of the bible have been so misused, misinterpreted, misunderstood as have the Ten Commandments. They were a cultic taboo code written by Hebrew men for Hebrew men. Nothing more and nothing less.

Sir James Frazer in his classic The Golden Bough writes: “These commandments of Israel are taboos of a familiar type in primitive religions disguised as commands of the tribal god.” Dr. Ernest Colwell, former Dean of the Theological Seminary, Chicago University, writes: “These were prescriptions written only for the Hebrew cult. They acquired authority due to their association with the rites of the cult.”

All “thou shalt not kill” meant is that thou shall not kill another Hebrew. The giver of the commandment, Moses, quite obviously totally ignored it with everyone except the Hebrews. And all with the jealous tribal God’s blessing.

Good without God…


LA Review of Books (Salon)

IN THE OLD DAYS there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s. —   George Eliot, Silas Marner

A recent sociological study found that atheists are America’s least trusted minority. Americans, the researchers concluded, “construct the atheist as the symbolic representation of one who rejects the basis for moral solidarity.” Most Americans, that is, apparently think of atheists not just as people who don’t share their specific beliefs about the existence of a divine being, but as ethical recusants who cannot be trusted.

This is not an expert view, only a popular one: no preponderance of evidence supports it, and philosophers can readily explain how it is possible to be good without God (some have even argued it is impossible to be good with God). But prejudices are difficult to dislodge, and science and reason often, paradoxically, prove ineffective tools. Even those of us who tend to agree with “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens can find their hectoring tone wearying. Perhaps what is needed

Why I Raise My Children Without God…


CNN iReport

     When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

     For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

     One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.

     And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.

     Here are a few of the reasons why I am raising my children without God.

God is a bad parent and role model.

Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?

Bolivian woman harvesting Quinoa
The Guardian

Ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices

Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it (it’s keen-wa, not qui-no-a), yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fitted in with government healthy eating advice to “base your meals on starchy foods”.

Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Vegans embraced quinoa as a credibly nutritious substitute for meat. Unusual among grains, quinoa has a high protein content (between 14%-18%), and it contains all those pesky, yet essential, amino acids needed for good health that can prove so elusive to vegetarians who prefer not to pop food supplements.

Sales took off. Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the “miracle grain of the Andes”, a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider’s larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn’t feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and “royal” types commanding particularly handsome premiums.

Books: Pot Goes to Florida, and Vice Versa…



New Comic Novels From Dave Barry and Tim Dorsey

[More Carl Hiaasen below… DS]

Dave Barry has written a comic novel that features lost luggage, beaches, hapless tourists from Michigan, exotic animal life, drugs, wild mix-ups, laughable oldsters and the trademarked zaniness of Florida. Not at all coincidentally Tim Dorsey’s new comic novel features these same ingredients, although Mr. Dorsey’s hapless tourists come from Wisconsin.

What is it about journalism in Florida that helped Mr. Barry (The Miami Herald), Carl Hiaasen (also The Herald) and Mr. Dorsey (The Tampa Tribune) segue into writing such funny fiction? And what is it that makes their material so similar? Even if you know exactly which of them wrote “Hurricane Punch,” “Tricky Business” and “Tourist Season” (Mr. Dorsey, Mr. Barry and Mr. Hiaasen), it’s hard to miss the overlaps in their humor. It’s also hard to complain about too much of a good thing.

Mr. Hiaasen, who still writes an opinion column, understandably delivers the most barbed, issue-oriented humor.

Will Parrish: The Insanity Of The Willits Bypass…


As with so many places in the American West that have been struck by the flash-flood of capitalist development since the mid-19th century, that which is most absent from the contemporary landscape of Little Lake Valley — aka the Willits Valley — is encapsulated by its name. It is a valley that once teemed with wetlands, marshy areas that formed when the area’s once-lively streams overflowed their banks and scoured the surrounding meadows with moisture and nutrients. The Central Pomo people knew the area by the evocatively intimate name Mto’m-kai, which closely translates to “Valley of Water Splashing the Toes.”

As Willits’ settlers set about gridding the land and marketing it to cattle ranchers and timber merchants, they rapidly removed the wetlands. They did the same to the Pomo villagers and wildlife — waterfowl, pelicans, vast herds of tule elk and antelope, etc. — that had dwelled among the marshes and springs for so long. The early Euroamerican pioneers incised streambeds, redirected creeks, constructed artificial drainage ditches, and ripped apart the hardpan layers of topsoil that contained the water, allowing it to seep slowly into the ground.

Some of the moisture that time had stored on the land remains, though, most notably within the marshy area on the north end of the valley, extending across Route 101 on the west

Todd Walton: Four Hundred Thousand

I Never Heard The Warning (mixed media on wood) by Nolan Winkler

Under The Table

“I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need, if I die by four o’clock.” Henny Youngman

Do you earn four hundred thousand dollars of taxable income in a year? Have you ever earned four hundred thousand dollars in a single year? Do you have friends who earn or have ever earned four hundred thousand dollars in a year? I thought not; nor do I have friends earning that kind of money, though I do know some certifiably wealthy people. Earning two hundred thousand dollars is a different matter. According to government statistics about 1.5% of American households make two hundred thousand a year, and I can think of three or four couples out of the hundreds of people I know who might earn as much as two hundred thousand dollars in a single year.

So…households earning more than two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year were the lowest income earners President Obama said he was going to tax at a wee bit higher tax rate if only we would re-elect him. So we re-elected him and now he has chosen to go along with the certifiably insane Republicans

Vietnam: The Hidden History of the Soldier’s Revolt…


Thanks to Jamie Lee

Our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near-mutinous Conditions exist among American forces in Vietnam that have only been exceeded in this century by… the collapse of the Tsarist armies in 1916 and 1917. – Armed Forces Journal, June 1971

The most neglected aspect of the Vietnam War is the soldiers’ revolt–the mass upheaval from below that unraveled the American army. It is a great reality check in an era when the U.S. touts itself as an invincible nation. For this reason, the soldiers’ revolt has been written out of official history.

The army revolt pitted enlisted soldiers against officers who viewed them as expendable. Liberal academics have reduced the radicalism of the 1960s to middle-class concerns and activities, while ignoring military rebellion. But the militancy of the 1960s began with the Black liberation struggle, and it reached its climax with the unity of White and Black soldiers.

Let’s Be Clear: The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery…



The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that… and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the “slave patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state.  The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave

How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?



A New Book Transforms Our Understanding of What the Vietnam War Actually Was

For half a century we have been arguing about “the Vietnam War.” Is it possible that we didn’t know what we were talking about? After all that has been written (some 30,000 books and counting), it scarcely seems possible, but such, it turns out, has literally been the case.

Now, in Kill Anything that MovesNick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings disclose an almost unspeakable truth.  Meticulously piecing together newly released classified information, court-martial records, Pentagon reports, and firsthand interviews in Vietnam and the United States, as well as contemporaneous press accounts and secondary literature, Turse discovers that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture once considered isolated atrocities were in fact the norm, adding up to a continuous stream of atrocity, unfolding, year after year, throughout that country.

It has been Turse’s great achievement to see

Herb Ruhs Comments…



Re: Fundamentalism and the Internet are Killing Religion

Granted, most of religion here in the US is just a massive nest of long cons roping in the marks. But so is every other institution society. Competitive and cutthroat is good, docile and agreeable bad (except for the subjugated ones where it is expected). This is the inevitable pattern of dominator culture (see intro to Riane Eisler’s Chalice and the Blade for accurate definition).

The basic frame of dominator culture is that life is a form of combat, in a variety of spheres, for the sake of conquest, subjugation, dispossession and exploitation. These are the ends that justify all the means, like formal religion and the centralized state. The dominator culture frame of reference is so fundamental to our thinking that its values, the tricks it uses to put us continually against each other, and every other smothering aspect of it, that it is invisible to us as we operate within it, like water is invisible to fish.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, societies governed by dominator culture are driven to expand, and in the process, they destroy themselves only to be replaced by another dominator culture society. This process has absorbed or obliterated every cultural frame. The relentless conquest and absorption has resulted now in a near homogeneous global society bent on self destruction for the sake of momentary gain. The future, if there is one for H. sapien, is going to be one where the survivors of the global collapse manage

How power-mad neoliberalism trashed your life, but made the super-rich even richer…

The Guardian

How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the GDP of the United Kingdom.

This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments’ refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.

The policies which made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment and the results are now in. Total failure.

Before I go on

Fundamentalism and the Internet are Killing Religion…



As we head into a new year, the guardians of traditional religion are ramping up efforts to keep their flocks—or, in crass economic terms, to retain market share.  Some Christians have turned to soul searching while others have turned to marketing. Last fall, the LDS church spent millions on billboards, bus banners, and Facebook ads touting “I’m a Mormon.”  In Canada, the Catholic Church has launched a “Come Home” marketing campaign.  The Southern Baptists Convention voted to rebrand themselves. A hipster mega-church in Seattle combines smart advertising with sales force training for members and a strategy the Catholics have emphasized for centuries: competitive breeding.

In October of 2012 the Pew Research Center announced that for the first time ever Protestant Christians had fallen below 50 percent of the American population. Atheists cheered and evangelicals beat their breasts and lamented the end of the world as we know it. Historian of religion, Molly Worthen, has since offered big picture insights that may dampen the most extreme hopes and fears.  Anthropologist Jennifer James, on the other hand, has called fundamentalism the “death rattle” of the Abrahamic traditions.

In all of the frenzy, few seem to give any recognition to the player that I see as the primary hero, or, if you prefer, culprit—and I’m not talking about science populizer and atheist superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson. Then again, maybe I am talking about Tyson in a sense, because in his various viral guises—as a talk show host and tweeter and as the face on scores

Gene Logsdon: My Woodpile Is Bigger Than Your Woodpile…



I tried to pull a sneaky little brag on all of you a few weeks ago when I used a photo of my woodpile on a post. The post wasn’t even about woodpiles exactly and I was, like, you know, uh, well, oh-by-the-way, pretending that I just happened to have this photo lying around and so I might as well use it.

But I did not fool friends, Jan and Andy, who operate a garden farm market in central Ohio. Sure enough, they soon sent me a photo of Andy’s latest woodpile, which is bigger than mine, daggone it anyway. (That’s it, pictured above.) I may have started something among the brotherhood of woodchoppers that I will regret.

Andy splits a whole lot more wood than I do because he and Jan use it not only to keep their house warm, but for boiling down maple syrup to sell at the farmer’s market in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I think of Jan and Andy as Ohio’s successors to New England’s famed Scott and Helen Nearing. Their lifestyles are quite similar. According to what I’ve read, Scott continued to split wood until he was a hundred years old. Then he set the maul down, sat himself down, and announced that he had enough wood split to last him out. What amuses me most about him was how he considered himself something of a socialist, in a philosophical sense anyway, which got him in trouble with some people. But when he and Helen got into the sugar maple business, he turned out to be as consummate a capitalist as anyone you care to name.

The Myth of Human Progress…



Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.

The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on a 500-year-long planetwide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth—as well as killing the indigenous communities that stood in the way. But the game is up. The technical and scientific forces that created a life of unparalleled luxury—as well as unrivaled military and economic power—for the industrial elites are the forces that now doom us. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation

Hands-on training and skill-based education in sustainable agriculture for aspiring farmers and ranchers…



Farms Next is a full season of hands-on training and skill-based education in sustainable agriculture for aspiring farmers and ranchers. Through an innovative and cooperative model, Farms Next combines up to 1500 hours of field training with a mentor farmer, 75 hours of classroom learning with agricultural professionals and expert farmers, 15 tours of local farms, and opportunities for farm-based independent study on a diverse network of commercial family farms in Oregon’s scenic Rogue Valley.

Farms Next provides an intense, supportive experience that will leave students with a deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, a foundation of entrepreneurial skills, and practical knowledge to plan for and start their own farming operation.  Students will live and work full-time on a host farm, receive on-going training, and learn in-depth skills from their mentor farmer.

The companion classroom component, farm tours, discussion circles, and independent study will deepen the experience and expose students to the vast array of knowledge and expertise in our farming community. In addition, students in Farms Next are offered an unparalleled sense of community and social networking