3.31.2010

Pelican Bay south of Mulege

On another road trip down the Baja with a buddy named Barry we found a beautiful secluded beach called Pelican Bay. Traveling with Barry through Mexico was very interesting. Barry, may he rest in peace, was a folk singer and guitarist who knew hundreds if not thousands of songs. Everywhere we went Barry broke the ice with the locals by sitting in the parks, bars, palapas, restaurants or just on the beach and playing his music. Mexicans love live music and readily join in. Almost everyday Barry wound up in a group of local musicans passing around the guitar with each playing their songs for the others. These group bi-lingual songfests were often lubricated by tequila and/or cervesa.

One late 70's evening we were camped on Cocos Beach near Mulege with a few other gringo hippy road warriors types. Barry and met a small family heading back north who told us about this magical hidden paradise they called Pelican Bay that they'd found some miles south of Mulege. Maps were drawn by firelight in the sand and the next morning they continued north, we headed south. After stopping in Mulege to stock up Barry and i drove on. We scoured the landscape watching for the half hidden dirt road that led to the bay. We found a couple that looked promising but each led nowhere. We were about to give up and admit that the beer, firelight and maps in the sand weren't the best dead reckoning advice when there to our left was another promising prospect, off we went.

This one was definately headed for a beach, we could smell the ocean, hear the waves and see the pelicans circling overhead. We came to an arroyo and got out to walk the rest of the way. Sure enough the bay was only about 50 yards ahead. We turned and walked back to the old panel truck discussing our options and decieded we could build a bridge outta rocks and mesquite branches then take a run at her [ain't youth grand]. We built our 'bridge', and i, being the old chevy's owner, backed 'er up and gunned it. as i hit the rim of the little dry wash the chevy lurched left, bounced off our pile of rubble and cleared the far bank in midair. It bounced at couple of times and stopped dead.

I tried to re-start 'er, the engine turned fine but wouldn't fire up. We opened the hood and saw that the distributer cap, located up against the firewall, had been smashed. Now what? We decieded we could, by pushing and using the jack, get the 'er last 30 yards down to the beach. We won. There we were setup in paradise.

The next morning we scoured the area back around our 'landing strip' and found what we hoped was every missing piece of the distributor cap lying in the sand. The place was incredible, hundreds of pelicans, transparent water and most incredibly not a speck of garbage anywhere. Many years later Pablo and his family came to visit us up in Roberts Creek and we found out the bay he'd found was miles away from ours.

Getting out was another story. Tomorrow's.

3.30.2010

Viva Chavez!

Hugo Chavez continues to give hope to the downtrodden not just in Venezula, but around the globe. His domestic policies on land reform and nationalization of under utilized industry facilities gives power to the 90% of Venezula who are poor. Unlike Castro in Cuba or Mugabe in Zimbabwe his ability to offer compensation, derived from oil revenues, instead of outright expropriation has allowed his popularity to skyrocket within Venezula’s barrios while providing a moving target for the ultra rich european descendents who so despise him.

Chavez sets an example for other leaders that must be scaring the shit outta the yanquis and others of the neo-con ilk in every corner of the globe. Internationally his energy seems boundless. Chavez has used Venezula’s petro dollars to launch Telesur a pan-Latin American satellite TV Channel meant to counter CNN’s propaganda. Instituted the Petrocaribe agreement as a part of Petroamerica, which includes the Andean countries of Petroandina and the countries of Latin America’s southern cone. Plus ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, as an alternative to the FTAA, the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas.

All this just in Latin America, he has also traveled the world these last few years setting up bi-national trade and security agreements with China, India, Russia, Brazil, and Iran. Yet the Obama administration continues the policies of his predessors in demonizing Venezula and Chavez in an attempt to frame their escalating imperial buildup in Latin America as the 'yanquis vs. the devil' instead of the oil imperialism game plan it actually is.

Hugo Chavez has refused to be a victim of the international corporate terrorists, he examplifies the spirit of infamous hero of the movie Tin Cup, portrayed by Kevin Costner in the 1996 movie who said, "When a defining moment comes along, either you define the moment or the moment defines you."

3.29.2010

The Demonic Oil Cabal

These last few days, after finishing Margolis' American Raj, have been spent researching deeper into the morass of oil imperialism. The 'facts' from the left or the right lead to the same conclusion and it's dark and brutal. We're consuming the future in a glutton fueled blaze. If only i knew how to change things. i try to live low but i know in the future my descendants will live much lower or not at all and it's damn depressing. So here we go with another rap cause words are all i have...

Iraq, Afghanistan, who's next? Looks like Colombia and Venezuela may well be the next Vietnam from the way the oil cabal is building up its imperial armies in the region. Oil is power, without oil the western world's lifestyle collapses overnight.

Just over 100 years ago tiny wildcat wells in N. America created the world's first modern superpower. The stuff oozed from the earth in Pennsylvania so pure people drank it as an elixar. Soon with a few hundred bucks to rent a small drilling rig hundreds of independent dreamers became millionaires as black gold gushed up outta the Texas desert. WW1 sealed to deal, tanks and airplanes overran entrenched armies and the age of oil was upon us.

The quick easy stuff, the low hanging fruit, was consumed first. As Hubbert's curve predicted continental US oil fields started running dry decades ago. By then the west had perfected the drilling technology well enough to exploit the geology anywhere beneath our mother earth and, in the short term, use the millions of years worth of sequestered carbon there to create fortunes and project power. But of course at the exponential rate we clever monkeys expanded our consumption it was soon obvious the world's the liquid gold would one day be gone.

The great game continues to this day. Certain that there's not enough oil to power all of humanity in the future the goal of securing the west's needs becomes paramount. Pentagon planners, with their century long schemes, quickly figured out that in order to be in control of the last oil they'd have to be in control of it all now. The plan was, and still is, to conserve the largest continental storehouse, the oil shale depoits of the N. American continental shield, as far into the future as the rest of the world's resources could be exploited and imported. The next stage of exploitation after liquid oil is bitumen, thick tar like oil suspended in sand, easier to extract than oil shale but not by much.

That's where we are on the supply curve now as is easily seen in Alberta where giant monsters devour the earth by the hour to power our wheeled culture in ever faster, tighter, circles. Where else does bitumen exist in huge enough quantities to keep the uncompromisable US lifestyle spinning? Venezula. The oil cabal is tightening its noose on Latin America everyday. Please use the links below to start your own research. If anyone can comeup with a different set of conclusions i'd love to hear them. In fact i'll offer a reward: one bags of magic beans. Good luck, if there is sucha thing.

U.S.-British Oil Imperialism - Oil imperialism rests on our continued dependence on oil, which not only threatens the future of humanity through prolonged and bloody conflict, but through another even more insidious threat--climate change and ecological collapse.
 
US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America - From the Caribbean to Brazil, political opposition to US plans for 'full-spectrum operations' is escalating rapidly.
 
"If you want to rule the world, you need to control oil. All the oil. Anywhere."
Monopoly, by Michel Collon

3.28.2010

American Raj by Eric Margolis

This past week i finished reading American Raj by Eric Margolis. It is a great read about the history of the mistakes made by our western governments through the last few centuries. My wish is that everyone, especially our political leaders, would read it too.

Margolis is a prolific writer and columnist, his article today on biodiversity, 'Dwindling Food for Thought' is another example of his wide range of interest and his ability to communicate the depth of a difficult problem in an easily readable style.

One day American Raj will be acknowledged as the best work of our time on Middle Eastern history in relation to our Euro-centric imperial attempts to conquer first it in the name of 'our' god, then our race and now our energy gluttony. If we had planned to make a mess of this part of the world, we couldn't have done better job. We have weakened ourselves by our folly. Please read and learn from Margolis' American Raj as an antidote to the propaganda our subservient corporate press serves us day and night.

3.27.2010

Worldwide celebration of Fanatic’s Day

Countless millions of religious morons are spending today chanting, dancing, praying and reveling on this the 62nd annual celebration of ‘Religious Fanatics Day’.

This worldwide holiday is widely seen as unifying all the descendent sects of the Abrahamic tradition with all the other of the wold's religions who teach that humans and humans alone have a special relationship with their god. Each, of course, sees itself as the one true religion, the one and only sect that hears the real god’s words.

One Abrahamic sect believes that heaven and 17 virgins await the suicide bomber [obvious a male fantasy]. One believes god gave them title to the land because they are ‘the chosen people’. A third, and perhaps most deluded of the Abrahamic descendants believe they will be swept up into heaven directly [without having to suffer the indignities of death] by thier god in ‘The Rapture’ any minute now.

For a pagan like me it’s an opportunity to understand just how far people will go to deny their own mortality. To see that the greatest danger to the future of all life on earth isn’t terrorism or drugs or even nuclear weapons, it’s the self-righteous religious bigots who care nothing for anything other than the delusion that their particular deity’s promise that they and only they, the true believers, will be ‘saved’.

It seems only fitting that these fanatics should also have a homeland of their own. A place where thier god can find them amid the teeming masses of non-believers easily. Of course, their mutual distrust of each other would make one geographic area difficult to control so i suggest we give them all the ‘red’ states. Then we surround the area with a security wall 3 times as high as Israel’s, take away all thier weapons and let them fight it out hand to hand to determine just which sect god really loves, eh.

Religious Fanatics, They are Everywhere

3.26.2010

The Servant and the Pole

A farmer's work is never done. The farmer's days start before sunrise and end when darkness makes more work impossible. Nontheless each evening it seems he's fallen a bit more behind, fields, fences, irragating, weeding, planting, culitvating, harvesting, so much to do and only so much time to do it.

One farmer lamented, as his sweat rolled down, "if only by some magic i had help then maybe i could feed my family and have some rest". He looked up and asked the gods to answer his pleas. A few minutes later an old man and his strapping young sidekick came walking down the dusty road beside the farmer's field.

They waved a mutual greeting, then stopped to speak. The farmer told the pair of his pedicament, a large family to feed, never enough time to finish all that needed doing, never enough money to make ends meet let alone hire help. The wise old man spoke softly to his young companion then turned and spoke to the farmer.

"We can offer a solution" the old man said, "but listen carefully and think clearly before you answer. My young friend will agree to live here and be your servant, he'll work very hard everyday to help you and your family but only on one condition. If you run out of work for my young friend to do he'll turn on you and kill you."

The farmer looked around and thought of all the cores, all the maintainnce, all the things he could do if he had such a young, strong servant and answered, "Yes, of course i accept." Immediately he young man went to work by the farmers side. Day by day, week by week, year by year the farmers land prospered and bloomed. His family prospered as wel and the farmer finally found some moments of rest.

As time went by and the farm grew more productive and it became slowly more difficult to find chores that kept his servant constantly busy. Soon the farmer began to worry about the deal he'd made beside the field long ago. Just as the farmer was sitting on his porch without any idea of what to do he looked toward the road and saw the same wise old man walking his way. He ran to the road and begged the old man to take back his servant. "No, said the wise man, "a deal is a deal. But perhaps i can offer you a solution."

The farmer, having run out of chores, lept at the chance to save himself from his servant and the deal he'd struck so long ago. "Have your servant build a pole" the wise man said, "then, whenever you run out of work for your servant, instruct him to climb up and down the pole until you need him again." The farmer lived, and his servant remained busy.

This parable is very old, it came into written form in the Vedas as part of The Mahabharata. It's meant to teach us about ourselves. The farmer is all of us and the servant is our mind. Everyone needs the wonderful tool evolution has given us to solve the many problems our complicated lives encounter, but like the farmer, our tool, if left idle, will turn on us and its endless calculations will rob us of any real peace. Our pole, the ancients taught, is a mantra, a sound to give the mind a chore to occupy it until we need it again.

3.25.2010

Coulter-Levant, Hate Speech not Free Speech

Tonight Ann Coulter is supposed to speak at the University of Calgary. As of this morning's CBC news the venue has been changed to a more easily 'secured' arena. It'll undobtedly turn into a huge media event as satellite units from all over North America are racing to get setup in time.

Ann Coulter's Canadian tour organizer Ezra Levant is already notorious in Canada as a rightwing nutjob. The philosophy and style of Coulter and Levant's speeches center on religious bigotry and racism and thereby fall far outside the lines of freedom of speech. Just imagine what would happen if their hate speech focused on the Jewish community instead of the Muslims. Imagine the reaction our neo-fascist PM Harper and his evangelical followers if Coulter-Levant were bashing The Rapture or Zionism.

The gates of the Canada's visa department swing wide to admit Ann Coulter. But when Dr. Mustafa Barghouti wants to visit, Foreign Affairs mouths some drivel about security and footsies his visa around until he has to cancel.

A hate-filled, void-headed troglodyte who says Muslims should travel by camel and not be allowed to fly? C'mon in, and a warm welcome to Canada. A dignified, well-spoken Nobel Peace Prize nominee who thinks the Palestinians deserve decent treatment? Forget it!

Coulter and Levant are self-styled "free speech" martyrs who cry foul anytime anyone challenges their perspective, but their commitment to free speech is best measured by how they defend it for those whose views they oppose. About Democrats, Coulter has said: "Let's repress them . . . I'm not a big fan of the First Amendment." And Levant backed the Conservatives' ban on U.K. MP George Galloway last year. This has further vindicated the anti-war movement's contention that unjust wars abroad will end up consuming the very liberties that make us who we are. - Common Dreams

3.24.2010

Evo Morales' Bolivia to hold peoples' conference on climate change

Bolivia will host an international meeting on climate change next month because it is not prepared to ‘betray its people’- The Guardian

For Bolivia, the disastrous outcome of Copenhagen was further proof that climate change is not the central issue in negotiations. For rich countries, the key issues in negotiations were finance, carbon markets, competitiveness of countries and corporations, business opportunities along with discussions about the political makeup of the US Senate. There was surprisingly little focus on effective solutions for reducing carbon emissions.

President Evo Morales of Bolivia observed that the best way to put climate change solutions at the heart of the talks was to involve the people. In contrast to much of the official talks, the hundreds of civil society organisations, communities, scientists and faith leaders present in Copenhagen clearly prioritised the search for effective, just solutions to climate change against narrow economic interests.

To advance an agenda based on effective just solutions, Bolivia is therefore hosting a Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on 19-22 April, and inviting everyone to participate. Unlike Copenhagen, there will be no secret discussions behind closed doors. Moreover the debate and proposals will be led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and by organisations and individuals dedicated to tackling the climate crisis. All 192 governments in the UN have also been invited to attend and encouraged to listen to the voices of civil society and together develop common proposals. - Pablo Sol√≥n, Ambassador to the UN for the Plurinational State of Bolivia

World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 19 to 22, 2010

3.23.2010

Baja Oven

Mulege is on the Gulf of Cailfornia side of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. It was for many years a sleepy little town situated in the middle of an area of beautiful beaches, excellant tasting-safe water and carefree Mexican people. Nowadays these beaches are often surrounded by fences and gates designed to protect the mostly yanquis richos from anything and everything that once endeared travelers like me to the area.

We camped along the beaches in the general vacinity of Mulege and used it reprovision ourselves on 3 different trips down the Baja during the mid-70's and early 80's. We lots of neat folks, both Mexican and Gringo on these camping-road trips and stayed in many beautiful spots Over time i'll try to tell a few stories about those people and places here on the blog.

Once upon a time my 10 year old daughter, a good friend Gwen [the baker in the crowd] and i beached ourselves on a bueatiful, secluded Baja beach. The area was 'owned' by a small family farmer-fisherman who's wife worked endlessly, who's children laughed endlessly and who's chickens saw no distincion between indoors and out. Each morning the guy would walk out the couple hundred yards to point on the left side of bay in front of our beached paradise and row his small boat accross the mouth of the bay trailing an old net behind him. As he approached the opposite point he'd turn the boat in towards 'our' beach and land the boat along it. The net he towed ended up forming a small semi-circle maybe 20-30 yards wide in the shallow sandy bay, net on the waterside, beach on the other.He'd get outta the boat with his bucket and spear and walk around harvesting a few of the fish now coralled in his pen. Once he had a few good sized fish in his bucket he'd row back out his original spot at the point, allowing all the other corucopia of fish to escape. Next we'd watch as he walked to his old truck, parked on a bit of a hill for a rolling jump start, and off he'd to the mercado to sell and trade his catch for whatever was needed that day which always included a bottle of tequila. Some hours ater he'd come back, park the jalopy on its perch and stumble back to the hammock in front of the 'house'. Next day, same thing, a truely sustainable lifestyle eh.

One morning our little grngo band of 3 decieded to try to bake bread from scratch. By that evening we had hauled the rock and mud needed to build our oven. We'd let each level of rocks and mud dry a little before the next went on. While one course was drying we'd be out searching for and collecting rocks for the next course. There it was, firebox, chimney.and an oven that worked. Next my daughter and i went a collected fuel while Gwen prepared the dough. The surrounding hillsides had many bits of old dried ironwood, a fantasic fuel once you shook the scorpions off. The sun set, our dinner of fresh scallops and buscuits baked, all was well. They were the best biscuits i've ever tasted.

3.22.2010

Unique Building Projects

Every project has it's constraints, that's the best part. You get to dream up novel solutions, be artist and engineer, see a thing in your mind and make it real. One unique project was the Park Ave. house, my earliest large project and on whose roof ridge i sat in contemplating my meateater status in this blog a couple days ago.

The house was built almost entirely from the trees that grew there. The design came into being after the sawyer got the best out of each log and we saw what lumber there was available. We mined two ancient cadar stumps for all the shake blocks, built concrete forms from the scrap boards, and heated the place for two years from the leftover outside slabs created during the milling process. The alders got milled, stacked and eventually became all the interior paneling. The forest never really left, it just changed form.


Another design essential is fit, as in the 50 Chevy bus conversion my daughter and i lived in for three years. It had a full bath with tile floors,oak barrel tub-shower, and antique fixtures. It had two beds, one king, one single. The counters, cabinets and interior woodwork were made from 100 year old reprocessed cedar barn boards [very lightweight, strong and stable]. It had a full kitchen, great stereo, color tv, wood heat, etc. All put together with local resources, ingenuity, and help from my friends.

It fit my daughter and i like a well taiorled suit, every detail customized to fit our needs and tastes.

It was sad to see her go, but we needed the dough as a down payment on a bit of forest we wanted to buy and turn into a small organic farm. Phil, her new owner, good friend, and the bus's mechanic from day one, loved her too.

3.21.2010

Take from the Needy, Give to the Greedy

Today the US House of Corporate Representatives will vote 'Yes' to the largest transfer of money from the pockets of the needy to the already bulging pockets of the greedy in history. 35 million uninsured Americans will be forced to onto the corporate insurance roles. Most aready can't pay their bills now so the US government has promised to pay this bill for them. The US government gets the money to pay its bills by borrowing from China or taxes.

The rich don't now, and won't in the future, pay anywhere near its fair share of taxes because their lawyers and accounts use massive loopholes in the tax act provided to them by their bribed mouthpieces in all so-called democracies. The poor don't pay taxes  because they have no dough. Who's left paying is the dwinding center, the sorta fortunate folks that have jobs, the manipulated and misnamed middle-class [there's only two classes, the haves and the have-nots].

Right now if poor folks get sick they go to the emergency room for treatment. These costs are born by local US taxpayers. As most local tax revenues are raised through property taxes and property taxes are still somewhat progressive [the more you've got the more you pay] the scenerio ends up with the richest paying for the poorest, downright unamerican eh. After this travesty of a bill passes the cost of subsidizing the millions of poor folks to the tune of billions per year will shift to the regressive national tax laws [the less you have the more you pay] for funding.

The same is true for the money borrowed through the bond markets. The rich have hedge funds and international investments to protect them from the sliding value of a currency whose once high value plunges further everyday as the US government prints more of it and thereby devalues-watersdown its strength.

It's always the same story in our corrupt corporatist western sham democracies, the rich rule and the poor drool. Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows. But one thing is clear, the greedy rich will never give up their power and control voluntarily. Looking up from the mud there seems only two possible solutions: revolutionary political change [hard to imagine in a culture like ours] or collapse. I'm rooting for the latter as it seems far more viable.

3.20.2010

The Silence of the Yams

There's as many reasons to be a non-meater as there are practioners. Mine strarted over 33 years ago while i was building my first house and home for our little family. Back then i usually had a radio playing background music while my hammer and i kept time.

One of those fine days the CBC was carrying an interview with an doctor about the prevalence of colon cancer in N. American men. He said that the putrafication of meat was the main culprit because meat took such a long time to get through the digestive tract. His advice was that every man should take one month a year off meat because in that period of time the digestive track would clean out reslting in plummeting numbers.

It sounded like good advice so that very day i started my month long abstinance. After only a few days i started to feel extra energy and a growing sense of well being sorta similiar to the boost a person feels who's recntly quit smoking feels. As the days turned to weeks i began to remember that as a little kid the biggest aguemnt my mom and i had at mealtime was about the meat. Her common refrain was "Bobby, eat your meat". Guess i was a born non-meateater.

My decision to try this month long colon cleansing recommended by the radio doctor wasn't exactly welcomed with open arm by wife at the time and as we neared the end of the 30 days there was rejoicing and a planned roast beef celebration. On day 31 the roast was being prepared over in the little makeshift kitchen we were using while the larger house was rising around it. i was up top strappin the roof in advance of the slated arrival of a gang of friends the next day to help me start nailing on the cedar shakes i'd produced for the job from a couple of huge cedar snags at the back of the property. Such was the way of things in our community back then, it was all for and one for all, barter, be it in work or goods ruled, profits and money drooled.

As the strapping neared the ridge and the sun's rays dropped behind the forest canopy the powerful aroma of roast beef cooking below filled the air. It smelled good, sorta. i was definately having mixed feelings about the whole situation. i sat up on the roof's ridge wondering atmy next move and, as i've done so many times, i asked for a sign. Right then the damnest thing hapened, a little bird flew up from behind me and landed on my shoulder. He just perched there, i turned my head lowly to look at him/her, it slowly ured its head and looked me straight in the eyes, i amost fell backwards insurprise. Within a few seconds my little friend flew off and i climbed own the ladder and headed for the makeshift shower.

Now i was in big trouble, i knew the little bird's message was, as all 'signs' are, simply a manifestation of a change in my sub-conscious filtering mechanism, that we all see/find what we're looking for. It was an unusually long shower but when i came out it was with the realization that for at least this one more day i was a non-meateater. Evryday since then i've continued to make the same choice.

3.19.2010

Spineless Democrats Roll Over Again

The 'progressives' in the US Congress are rolling over again. Every dog owner knows the signal of submission that rolling over and showing your stomach means in dog language. The same signs mean the same thing in human language. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio was a champion of the powerless and an enemy of the corporate state until his flip-flop and rollover move this past wendsday.


Yesterday's article by Glenn Greenwald is an excellant statement on why and how this rollover by the 'self styled' progressives in Washington means the end of them having any power in any debate for years, perhaps generations, to come.

What's not debatable is that this process highlighted -- and worsened -- the virtually complete powerlessness of the Left and progressives generally in Washington. If you were in Washington negotiating a bill, would you take seriously the threats of progressive House members in the future that they will withhold support for a Party-endorsed bill if their demands for improvements are not met? Of course not. No rational person would.- Glenn Greenwald

Healthcare matters to the millions of working poor, homeless and those with pre-existing conditions [which pretty much is all of us sooner or later]. Having lived in Canada for the last 40 years it's very easy to see how bullshit has baffled brains in this debate, how the pomises have evolved into another massive transfer of wealth from the already beleagured american middle-class to their corporate masters, and why the spineless Democrats will get the ass-kicking they deserve next fall.

Has Rahm's Assumption about Progressives been Vindicated?You betcha!

3.18.2010

Turncoat Dennis Kucinich to Vote 'Yes' on Health Care

Guess i oughtta learn, hope i do some day, never to believe a word any politician says. Kucinich, the darling and hope of idealists everywhere, has flip-flopped. He got on Air Force 1 an opponent of the disasterious health care bill and got off a supporter. Makes a guy wonder what happened during that flight, what stick did the Obomber and his henchmn use on 'poor Dennis'? Or what carrots did they offer? Guess it doesn't really matter. The truth is that yesterday Dennis Kucinich was a hero, today he's just another bum.

I would like to thank Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake for her immediate response and demand of 'poor Dennis' to give back all the dough that was donated to him through her campaign to raise funds for him and his now abandoned campaign of opposition to the multi-billion dollar health care boondoogle.

Finally i'd like apologize to any and everyone who might have followed my own windmill tilting belief that any politicican in any country might ever care more about ideals than expediency. If and when Dennis does vote for what he still says is a terrible bill it'll be the end of him being viewed by me and millions of others as a champion of doing the right thing. To bad, so sad, cause there's damn few left.

"I'm sorry that we have lost someone on whom we thought we could rely to oppose this corrupt bailout for the insurance industry. But rest assured, we have not yet given up this fight."Jane Hamsher, Fire Dog Lake

3.17.2010

Snakes and Saints

St. Patrick is known as a symbol of Ireland, particularly around every March. One of the reasons he's so famous is because he drove the snakes out of Ireland, and was even credited with a miracle for this. What many people don't realize is that the serpent was actually a metaphor for the early Pagan faiths of Ireland. St. Patrick brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle, and did such a good job of it that he practically eliminated Paganism from the country. While it's true that snakes are hard to find in Ireland, this may well be due to the fact that it's an island, and so snakes aren't exactly migrating there in packs.

The Church of Rome used religion as a sword to both slaughter their opponents and hypnotize the peasants. The Emporers of Rome used what worked be it their legions or their escatological lies.

Today, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in many places on March 17, typically with a parade (an oddly American invention) and lots of other festivities. However, some modern Pagans refuse to observe a day which honors the elimination of the old religion in favor of a new one. It's not uncommon to see Pagans and Wiccans wearing some sort of snake symbol on St. Patrick's Day, instead of those green "Kiss Me I'm Irish" badges. If you're not sure about wearing a snake on your lapel, you can always jazz up your front door with a Spring Snake Wreath instead!

3.16.2010

Dennis Kucinich, aka Don Quixote

Stand up for Dennis Kucinich the sole congressperson keeping his promise to oppose any health care bill without a public option.
Donate a few bucks to let Don, oops Dennis, know we appreciate that at least one Democrat keeps his word.

3.15.2010

Cuban Health Care Model

The Cubans seem to have figured out one trick, the ‘Great Health Care’ trick. The 3 articles below are each an indication of the respect the Cuban model has gained throughout Latin America and the rest of the world, discounting countries like the US [Canada soon too, eh] where the ideology of capitialist greed allows for no commie alternatives. But taken together they show not only just how much they are doing, but just how much we are not.

The Cubans are educating thousands of young Latin American doctors on the barter system. They’re trading knowledge for oil, access to classrooms and labratories for food, the Cuban model is dangerous to the corporate health model and they know it.

All of which makes the ridiculous US 'healthcare' debacle even more transparent. Amerika is run by the rich for the rich. American healthcare is the worst in the developed world, the worst in the western hemisphere, the worst in North America. Americans are undereducated about anything and everything concerning events outside the greed paradigm. Americans are the target of history's most elaborate propaganda machine.

To be fair, Canada is about one half step behind on average, certainly Alberta is if anything a half step ahead. The rich control the press, they control the government, if you participate in this collective insanity they control you too. Viva Fidel for showing the courage to stand up to these bullies all these decades.

Medical know-how boosts Cuba's wealth Health ministry officials say Cuba's $1.8bn (£1bn) and growing tourism industry will soon be overtaken as the number one foreign exchange earner by biotechnology joint ventures, vaccine exports and the provision of health services to other countries.

3.14.2010

The Cooperation of the Fittest

Sports have served as stage for cultures to play out their basic mythology for thousands of years, often good versus evil. The underlying symbolism is us against them, with us or against us, winners and losers. Language, an omnipresent veil that forces opposites upon whatever it describes, allows for no existential unity only the endless play of opposites.

When Darwin came up with his 'survival of the fittest' idea it naturally got viewed through the prism of our language [a built-in duality machine]. Our language/culture inputs Darwin’s message, does it’s mastication, and outputs winners/losers, predator/prey, good ‘ol linear biology, a beginning, an end. But other cultures have come up with other, less divided, answers as to the underlying nature of reality.

Our reality stands firming on a lily pad, it’s only stable as long as we accept the whole 'us and them' argument, the second one shifts from that perspective they’re in the drink. Decartes’ logic to justify his existence as separate from his environment was "I think therefore I am". But as Tom Robbins points out he’s actually put de-cart before de-horse, and that "I stink therefore I am" is closer to the truth. Stink of course needing both sides to complete it, both a stinker and a stinkee.

A more unified view of reality is possible. Evolutionary Biologists have bootstrapped their way to the Gaia Principle [see below] and even the reddest of rancher necks around Yellowstone will now grudgingly agree that the wolves have wrought an ecological miracle there. But the wolves are prey themselves, prey to the biological reality of death be it by disease, starvation, grizzly bear, or tiny virus and bacteria. The bacteria feed on the wolf, the plants feed on the bacteria and their breakdown products...etc. Where’s this beginning and end that our logic so covets. Everywhere our science turns it’s gaze acutely it can’t find one, no beginning, no end, no division between ourselves and our environment, no predator/prey, no winners/losers just one life, one undivided energy field filled with flora, fauna, mircobes, minerals, forces, fairies and Gaia herself all participating in the dance of life.

Finally [about time eh!], back to sports and another bit on how and why Steve Nash, alias Captain Canada, is such a potent symbol. Steve’s magic is cooperation not dominance, everybody loves Steve, everybody wants to play with him. Steve is his team and we are too, but Steve knows it, most don’t. Steve’s being called the anti-Kobe in the press today. To bad, cause Steve wouldn’t see it like that i'd betcha, i'd bet Steve sees Kobe as part of himself and everything else. Kids the world around are changing their vision of reality, abandoning i for we, if only for a few seconds on the court, they are the future . The cooperative paradigm, the stinker within us all, is mankind’s hope and Steve is a potent symbol of how cooperation not competition determines Darwinian fittest.

Gaia Theory
Lovelock defined Gaia as: a complex entity involving the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.

3.13.2010

The Dog, the Llama and the Chicken

Once upon a time a neat story happened back when we had Oscar and Cara [Jr. wasn't born yet, but Cara was secretly pregnant] and a buncha chickens. It started with Happy and me in the house, all of a sudden he leapt up and started barking at the kitchen door wanting desperately to get out. i opened the door and he raced out immediately and saw the llamas racing around out behind the garden, Oscar was doing his warning cry and Happy tore out toward them like a rocket. i followed as fast as i could and saw something [probably a coyote] disappear into the woods. as i got closer i saw Happy, now circling with the llamas, out behind the barn. When i got there i found one of the chickens lying down, breathing hard and missing most of its rear end feathers. It was alive, not bleeding but in obvious trouble. i picked it up and carried it back to the chicken shed and put it in the laying nest with a small bowl of water and a little pile of feed. i totally figured i'd find it dead in the morning. after checking all the fences and closing all the other chickens into their run i went back to the house leaving Happy outside to keep watch.

A while later i went back to see how the chicken was doing. Before i got there i noticed somehing very strange. Cara was lying right beside the chicken coop direcly beside and as close as she could get to where the injured chicken was. Weird because i never saw her lying anywhere near the coop before but i shook my head and checked on the chicken who was still lying exactly where i'd put her but was now breathing normally. i went back, Cara hadn't moved.

The next morning i went out to feed them all and Cara was still there and apparenly hadn't moved an inch. The chicken too was unmoved. As i went towards the llama shed to do the daily feeding ritual Cara got up, came over and ate her grain, then immediately returned to her vigil beside the chicken. this went on for 2 days, Cara never moved except to eat in the am. Each day the chicken got a bit stronger and started to eat a bitta her feed and water. On the morning of the 3rd day out into the field wobbled the injured chicken. i happened to be there and as soon as the chicken came out Cara got up and began walking behind it. not normal walking, instead she lowered her head beside and behind the chicken and kept it propped upright as it tried to follow the other chickens and rooster around the field. i watched in amazement as the 7 foot tall llama kept right behind the bird moving her head from side to side to keep the chicken upright. i kept watching on and off all day and Cara never wavered in her attention. When i closed the chickens in that night cara went and laid down in her vigil spot. By the next day the chicken was walking around with her buddies normally and Cara returned to grazing almost as usual, from that day on Cara and her friend were always grazing/scrathing in the same general vacinity. No matter how far away the rooster and the rest of his harem went the once injured chicken stayed near Cara, she'd go into the coop at night and sleep with the other birds but come morning she'd scamper off to find her big best friend. It was amazing to watch and taught me a lesson in how much i didn't know about animals [and undoubtedly a lotta other things].

3.12.2010

The Varroa Mite

In this file photo, two reddish varroa mites appear on this European honeybee in this closeup view made in the laboratory at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

Many blame the varroa mite for this year's colony collapse on southern Vancouver Island. The mites were first discovered on the Island in the mid-90s and they can spread viruses to honeybees. The bees are also under pressure from climate change, the natural range of the different types of bees is on the move away from the equator in each hemisphere. Plus the bee's predators, like the varroa mite, are on the move both traveling with our commerical international bees and on their own in search of new habitat.

Throughout time many different mites and infectious agents were contained by geography and climate. Our capitialist system sets up the ideal conditions for the spread of parasites and is wiping out bees worldwide. We've shortsightedly imported/exported european type bees around the globe often forcing native populations that have co-evolved with the parasites in their locales into small pockets [if we're lucky] or extinction. These native bee populations were seen as inefficient and unruly compared to their distant european cousins, it was mechanize-profitize-exploit, until some inevitable change came along that the european bees wern't ready for and it's oops, sorry, no bees.

Another climate driven factor in bee survival is the changes in flowering times for plants as the climate regions shift. Bee's need certain tempratures before they become active, plants are mostly photoactive meaning they respond to the number of hours of light to cue their growth and flowering cycles. For millenia the bees and the flora in their region have evolved a symbiotic partnership based on the timing of each other's needs.

Bees and their varroa mite parasites have seen their relative populations swing back and forth in a classical predator-prey harmonic for a long time. Hopefully this North American wide slaughter of bees by mites will swing back and the bees strong enough to fight off the viruses visited upon them by the mites will parent new generations of bees both wild and domestic that are resistant to those viruses allowing them to proliferate and overpopulate the mites. What we must resist [Vegas odds are very long] is the agribusiness responses: trying to kill off the varroa mites, who are just doing nautre's work, with pesticides that actually wipe out billions of beneficial mini life forms [kinda like how civilians are collateral damage to drone attacks]. And we've gotta stop the insane global importation/exportation of bees.

3.11.2010

Snow in Vancouver - Time to Dance

A magic morning, another gong by the great clockworks, the first snows of winter and it's mid-March. Snow is a blessing here in BC’s southern coastal rainforest, it’s irregularity and unpredictability somehow add to the excitement.

Maybe it’s just the added shadow, the new outline to every contour. Maybe it’s the quiet. Maybe it’s the rushing back of childhood feelings and memories. Memories of long passed New England winter days, so many of which were filled with the joys of sledding. One of the best parts of growing up back in Adams, Mass was that every winter night a kid could go to sleep secure in the knowledge that school the next morning was far from a sure thing. No matter how unprepared you were for a test, or how undone an assignment was, you slept easy.

It's beautiful right now but it'll all melt by noon probably as it has with each of the last few days flurries. How ironic that under two weeks ago Olympic events were in jeapordy and artificial snow covered hay bales served as standins at Cypress's events. The Special Olympics start tomorrow and hopefully they'll benefit from this late winter blessing.

Truth is we need this blessing, all of BC could use at least a month of snow and cold. We've just come through the warmest and dryest Dec.-Jan.-Feb. on record. One report said our interior and coast range's snowpack is 50% or less than usual. Last summer saw much of BC in flames, we can all help avoid another ugly summer by doing our best rain-snow dance right now.

3.10.2010

Believing is Seeing

In the movie 'The Santa Clause' one of Santa's elves says to Tim Allen "believing is seeing", children know this but forget as they grow older". We often find and collect the pearls of wisdom in the most unexpected places.

A human being is part of the whole we call the universe ... We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest, a delusion. Our view of the big picture is always seen through a veil of beliefs. The veil between us and the big life, that we are but a small part of, is of our own making. We start construction of our worldview with our first breath. Every sensual input must be triaged, each tagged with a value and accepted or rejected, made a bit player or a star in our movie. There are just too many inputs to deal with all at once as they arrive from our senses seeking our attention, we use our blinders defensively.

All this matters. Climate Change is a good example of how our way of seeing events through the veil of our beliefs determine our climate change opinions. Some deny human caused climate change, they believe they have dominion over all 'others'. They see everthing as a gift from the creator for their use, they see themselves as on a higher plane and separate from the mud. Others, equally well meaning, equally sincere in their beliefs, see the same events quite differently. Facts are thought forms not concrete toe stubbing reality, we either rationalize or reject information that doesn't fit our beliefs, we see what we're looking for.

Today the flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces, fairies and Gaia herself are under siege by our desire for more, the delusion of endless growth and the divorce of our modern religious beliefs from their pagan roots.

Every seed is awakened and so is all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our animal neighbours the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land. -Sitting Bull

The Unpersuadables: When Facts Are Not Enough by George Monbiot
There is no simple way to battle public hostility to climate research. As the psychologists show, facts barely sway us anyway.


Belief In Climate Change Hinges On Worldview
Over the past few months, polls show that fewer Americans say they believe humans are making the planet dangerously warmer, despite a raft of scientific reports that say otherwise. This puzzles many climate scientists — but not some social scientists, whose research suggests that facts may not be as important as one's beliefs.

3.09.2010

Psychiatric Hotline

.
  • If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly
  • If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.
  • If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
  • If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
  • If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press
  • If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.
  • If you are anal-retenive, please hold.
  • If you are anxious, just start pressing numbers at random.
  • If you are phobic, don't press anything.

3.08.2010

Gaian Feedback Loops

The concept that the whole earth acts as one giant self-regulating system is called The Gaia Hypothesis and has shown how simple feedback mechanisms can work to control climate. Daisy World is a great example.

There are multiple interwoven feedback loops operating to keep our planet stable enviromentally. Daisy World is a much simplified example of how our planetary enviroment thermo-regulates. The recent stories about the increasing methane emmissions from the quickly melting arctic offer a smoking gun for the 'how and now' questions.

Gaia has in the past heated until it generated enough clouds through evaporation to reflecte enough sunlight [albedo] for cooling to begin. During the heating/albedo building phase more evaporation means more rain in some places deserts in others. Either way it shows how holistic our little blue planet is and how ignorant we are of its methods or its design.

The greenhouse effect is just one of these feedback loops, the ocean's alkalinity may be more important, or the Atlantic Ocean circulation or ? might too. James Lovelock recognized the wonder of Gaia and through Daisy World and his man books he's taught us all to appreciate its wonder.

3.07.2010

Planting By the Phases of the Moon

Planting by the moon is an idea as old as agriculture. The Earth is in a large gravitational field, influenced by both the sun and moon. The tides are highest at the time of the new and the full moon, when sun and moon are lined up with earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it pulls on all water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages growth.

I conducted many experiments in the first few years of having gardens to experiment in. Each year some crops got planted at the right time of the moon and some crops at the wrong time of the moon. The difference was obvious and there for everybody to see. Crops planted according to the lunar cycle do much better.

Now it's your turn. Test the validity of gardening by the moon in your own garden. Plant some crops by the correct moon sign and others by the wrong moon sign. Experiment with above ground and below ground crops.

Above-ground crops are planted during the light of the Moon (new to full); below-ground crops are planted during the dark of the Moon (from the day it is full to the day before it is new again).

So using the Ecuadorian Finger Potatoes as our example again, the best day to plant in March is today. But today is way to early in the year so what we're really looking for is the best days to plant potatoes in the next moon cycle which would be the days around April 6th. Pea wise the best days to plant would be those around March 23rd.

3.06.2010

The Real Cost of Bling

The price of gold keeps soaring in response to widespread jitters about US currency among the traders. But the real cost of gold, if the embedded long term enviormental costs were factored in, is astronomical. To produce a single ounce, miners have to quarry hundreds of tons of rock, which are then doused in a liquid cyanide solution to separate the gold. One ounce of gold creates up to 30 tons of toxic waste that’s dumped into the enviorment, into our commons. Who’s gonna pay the bill to clean it all up someday?

Every item made carries embedded costs, some are reflected in the price of the item but any cost that a producer can avoid paying, or externalize, will be avoided. Corporations are externalizing machines, they serve only the god of increased shareholder wealth, anything is appropriate to serve it. Gold and its bling bling appeal are just one example, another embedded cost we often over look is that cars use up over one third of their total lifetime energy footprint during construction, the rest is fuel.

All stuff, after necessities, is bling. If we paid the full costs of our comsumption instead of passing those costs on to the next generations stuff would get a lot more expensive, bling would look less shiny, and the 'want less' meme more cool.

The Story of Stuff

3.05.2010

Cultural Cognition

The Cultural Cognition Project is a group of scholars interested in studying how cultural values shape public risk perceptions and related policy beliefs. Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact (e.g., whether global warming is a serious threat; whether the death penalty deters murder; whether gun control makes society more safe or less) to values that define their cultural identities.

How do beliefs change? Memes were first introduced by Richard Dawkins in his book 'The Selfish Gene'. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures". Like gravity, memes are so fundamental we forget them consciously while balancing them silently.

Virus like, memes have the potential to be passed on from one mind to another. Climate Change is a concept we all see through our own blinders. Through mine it's obvious that the climate is changing due to human consumption and materialism. How can the millions who share my perspective get our meme, let's call it want less, established in the mainstream worldview?

Business as usual means 'more mall-less small', views must change. The green gang, the scientists, the team from Empirical Logic, needs a hook. Cool could work. If somehow, through the power of peer pressure, it became cool to have less, to comsume the least, then the want less meme and the polar bear might have a chance.

3.04.2010

Time to Plant Open Pollinated Peas

Potatoes lead to peas. After turning the big bed or area and digging in some manure-compost it'd be time to setup the pea trellis. The peas want to be at the north end of whichever bed type they share because they'd block the light of their mates otherwise. My trellis was always fairly funky, just some tall cedar poles driven into the ground in a line a feet apart, a couple others lashed horizonally top and middle, then either netting or chicken wire attached. The end product was a bed dug and ready for the potatoes to go in in a few weeks with a 5-6 ft high trellis along its north edge.

After the trellis it's pea planting time. Same general rule applies, plant peas about and inch deep measuring from the op of the pea to the top of the soil. Plant lots of the suckers but try to plant them twice, plant half your seed now and the other half when you plant the potatoes. It's far better to have the peas maturing over a longer period, way more fun for the kids to run out and pick them in a couple months.

West Coast Seeds offers numerous varities of open pollinated seeds probably one or more of your local garden supply stores do now too. Just like potatoes, all beans, garlic, certain peppers and others i'm forgetting, peas, if open pollinated, can be allowed to fully mature on the plant, then dried fully and saved to be replanted year after year. The, and the others, will evolve slowly through the years to your growing conditions. The plants that do best in your conditions will do best on your trellis, you'll naturally save peas from the best plants to save for next year. You the human choser and your growing conditions, your local enviroment, interact to select the best traits for the succeeding generation for your microclimate.

Peas are a legume, legumes have the magic ability to pull out of the air and make it available to other plants growing next to them. So you end up with the peas feeding the potatoes, the peas feeding the humans, and the seed saving circle doing its little bit to undermine the corporate food paradigm. Peas and potatoes, if you could grow beer it'd be a balanced diet.

3.03.2010

Growing Open Pollinated Finger Potatoes

'Growing Open Pollinated Finger Potatoes' should have been yesterday's title as that's where it went. It started to be about the 'why' and turned into the 'how'. Today it's back to 'why' for a minute.

Potatoes, or any other plants, aren't genetically modified to provide more nutritiion they're modified to resist the effects of agrochemicals, herbicides, pestacides, etc. Then the fields can be even more bombarded by the corporate poisons. Agribusiness thrives on the control and sales of seeds, seed saving by small independent gardeners is a subversive act easily performed, rewarding and beneficial in the present and will be seen as essential after the petrochemical farming era self-destructs.

An excellant source of information on hows and whys of seed saving, the worldwide struggle against corporate control of our foods-our farms-our futures, is at Vandana Shiva's website.

Open pollinated potatoes, a subversive action disguised as a mound in your backyard.

3.02.2010

GMO Potatoes Exactly the Wrong Choice

Open pollinated, heritage, seed saving are the key terms needed. Why would the EU make such a stupid, shortsighted, unpopular decision? Silly question eh. Money, power, selfish greed, profits rule, the commons drool.

On our little farm we grew Ecuadorian finger potatoes for nearly 20 years. They are open pollinated, excellant producers, have very high nutritional numbers and taste fantastic. It's getting to be time to prepare the beds for potato planting. All potatoes want well turned, manured and composted soil. Potatoes don't like lime or woodash. Try to turn the soil about one shovel deep.

Potatoes do equaly well in either a row type setup or in mounds. Ours were in rows as it seemed easier to harvest them that way in the fall. Plant can your potatoes anytime in April in our climate, but anywhere you can plant them once your soil has warmed up a little and isn't at all muddy. Plant them with their eyes up. If you've had to cut your seed potatoes be sure to let them sit out in a dry place and in the air to dry their newly cut areas for at least a day. Like all seed, potatoes want to be planted at about twice the depth that the seed is thick. Finger potatoes are average about a inch so they want to be two inches deep [from the top of the potatoe to the top of the soil. Obviously larger potatoes would be planted deeper.

There's probably going to be one or two light weeding sessions before the potato plants fom a canopy with their leaves, after that just pull anything that grows above the canopy [or not, i pull some highly invasive stuff but mostly not]. Soon the plants are mature and start flowering. During or after flowering my potatoes often got blown over. Once the plants look like they're dying it's time to dig up one easily accessible plant or two and see what's going on. This is often mid-late August here and the finger potatoes you find are still small, white and totally delicious.

Underground the tubers continue to expand and mature, we would just continually harvest them as needed until about mid-October. Then we'd try to get them all out before any sign of real cold, or in our area big rain. We'd lay out our October harvest on newspapers on the veranda, out of the rain but still in the sun and open air. Once the spuds and the dirt on them became totally dry we'd put them in large burlap type bags for winter storage. The cooler, dryer, darker your storage the better. Enjoy your stash through the winter and kinda check through them as the season goes along and throw out into the compost any that get soft and/or wierd.We'd save the hardest most perfectly formed potatoes as next year's seed. Soon spring will creep over the horizon, the robins will be back and it'll be time to prepare your beds again. We rotated our stuff every year so we'd always have a new bed and various volunteers scttered through the other beds. Open pollinated, heritage, seed saving, that's where the miracle is.

EU Authorizes GMO Potatoes
The European Commission on Tuesday approved the cultivation of genetically-modified potatoes, but environmentalists and some European ministers slammed the so-called "frankenfoods".

3.01.2010

The Golden Goal

The roar rumbled from every corner of Canada about 3PM yesterday. Vancouver never looked better, the whole country never looked better. 'Sid the Kid' will live on as man and myth far into the future, if you live in Canada you'll see the goal replayed thousands of times in the media.The game had the largest TV audience in Canadian history. And it was a great hockey game.

Vancouver threw a great party, it'll take a while to come down, clean up, and re-normalize. The thing will have cost a fortune, as always it'll be paid for by those least able to pay, but it a hell of a party, a hell of a show. When the banners come down the homeless will still be homeless, the rich will still be getting richer, but it was a great party.

Fairwell to the Olympic Circus with its elephant sized appetite and sasquatch like footprint