29 May 2006

(the) GROWTH


Let’s start off traditionally with this tiny iceberg tip of a discussion on growth with a selection from a definition (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition):

growth

3. An increase, as in size, number, value, or strength; extension or expansion.

To our civilization, growth in this sense of the word is something to strive for. Certainly, in terms of our stock portfolios, growth is always looked upon as a fine thing. Our money must grow. Our worth must grow. Our status must grow. Our possessions must grow. Our economy must grow. These are absolute musts in our society. No one wants the economy to stagnate. Share holders of a corporation expect capital growth, and CEOs are hired to make this happen. It is their legal responsibility to do so.

Is it right, though, to expect growth to be something that should last forever? Currently, no corporation in the world would ever be content with zero growth. Negative growth would be a cause for great concern. Perhaps, though, we ought to ask the unspeakable question: Should we allow growth to go unchecked? Any growth?

We certainly have something to say about the growth of animal populations, and we apply “conservation” efforts to keep numbers down when this kind of growth reaches, in our view, an unsustainable level.

Should we not apply that to economic growth, as well?

When we wish to curb animal populations, deer, for example, because they are “too plentiful” or when we allow grizzlies to be hunted again because they are no longer “endangered” in our view, we are applying a cost-benefit analysis to these issues. We are claiming that the burgeoning deer population will affect the environment, at least in our view, in such a way that their population, their growth, must be checked. This is what we call “balance.”

Since we consider balance only when other species or other peoples are concerned, and rarely if ever apply this sort of analysis to our own economic system (and if someone does try to apply it, they are labeled as crackpots and dismissed) it is necessary to spell out the frightfully simple parallels.

When our money grows in, say, a stock fund from Fidelity, we are benefiting directly from the growth of that company. In order for a company to grow, it must increase its revenue. In order to do that, it must use up more of the natural world than it did before it grew. If this kind of growth continues, as our civilization believes it should, all resources will eventually be used up, since all resources are finite.

With me so far?

Before anyone tries to argue that some companies don’t use up more of the natural world to grow, please find evidence of any company that is able to do this. Something must have been stolen or used from somewhere to increase profitability. More oil might have been used to create more plastic or pesticide or to move goods further. Raw materials from somewhere had to be obtained by taking something from land somewhere that was, before, used for something else (such as deer or grizzly habitat, for example). Maybe profits increased by reducing costs of production through cheaper labor. This could be accomplished through slavery of children (and this is especially true of the chocolate industry—so your sweet tooth is most likely assuaged by child slavery) or by forcing indigenous people to work for three cents per hour in a factory in Indian or China or Honduras that was built upon land that was, before, used by them to plant crops. Once the factory or damn or multinational water installation is built, no crops can be grown, so the people there become poor and have to work for slave wages to survive. Any economic growth requires the taking of something from somewhere else. This is just fact. Sorry about that.

Ah, but isn’t all this growth natural? Animals do it. Plants do it. We all must grow. Growth is the stuff of life.

Let’s take a look at that straw man in order to refute it. Let’s liken all this economic growth to the growth our bodies go through as children. Our parents lovingly drew pencil lines on the wood (now PVC) of the door frame in their kitchens every few months to gauge the growth of their offspring. They encouraged their children to eat more and more because they are “growing boys/girls.”

Here’s where it breaks down: this fond memory of growth ended when we matured. I suppose there may still be a few mothers and fathers out there who still measure the growth of their forty year old children, but they would be, of course, insane, and even insane people might stop such irrational behavior once they see that their “little” boy or girl hasn’t grown in the last twenty-two years. In nature, growth ceases upon maturity.

So the obvious question is: when will our civilization mature enough to stop demanding growth of its economy? When the planet is completely depleted of what we so arrogantly call “resources”? What exactly is it we want our economies to grow into, anyway? I am imagining right now a boy growing right through his maturity, getting bigger and bigger, till he can’t fit in his home anymore, till his head reaches up hundreds of feet, eating tons of grain or beef or whatever per day so he can continue growing incessantly, till the very air around his face is too thin to breathe, so he lies down to survive, eating and eating more and more, like the world serpent, eventually nibbling at his own feet as his huge body encircles the planet.

Or perhaps you believe we will all be saved by technology. Unfortunately, that child-like hope dies rather quickly if one spends any time at all pondering what technology has done for us so far. Even ignoring that, the absurdity of this notion becomes laughable as soon as one puts it into actual examples: one day, we will make huge machines that suck all the pollution out of the sky; one day, we will figure out how to transmute seawater into oil through a process that requires no energy to operate it; one day, a man will come who can change water into wine (wait a minute, that one might not be original).

Rather than assuming economic growth is good, I offer another definition of “growth” that seems more appropriate, from the same dictionary:

5. Pathology. An abnormal mass of tissue, such as a tumor, growing in or on a living organism.

That organism is the planet, by the way, and our way of life is the growth. I feel that I must explain everything, is all, because we are so stubbornly resistant (expressed through denial and through lashing out at the messenger) to any suggestion of changing how we live.

So what am I saying? Stop economic growth!? But wouldn’t that lead to a downfall of our civilization? Wouldn’t all life as we know it cease!?

Well, yes, strictly. As we know it.

But another way to look at it is this: would you rather be part of the growth, or part of the organism?

17 April 2006

Kelli Smiling



(photo courtesy Garrett Oie)

Two months ago my friend Kelli Auletta died of cancer. She was 38. She was a caring, effusive, warm, and welcoming woman who befriended nearly everyone she met. She had hundreds, even thousands of friends and acquaintances, yet she made you feel like you were the only one. She liked to live life to the fullest and fortunately, she had the ability and opportunity to do so. For the fifteen years I knew her, she was always present with care and support for me through all circumstances. I can only hope she felt the same from me.

She fought her condition to the end and left with the same stubbornness, tenacity, and sense of humor with which she lived. Many referred to her as “The Social Director.” As she brought endless numbers of people together in life, so she did in her death. She will be terribly missed, having gone far too soon.

Though the circumstances surrounding the loss of someone so young to a “disease” so epidemic are rife for comment, I find no comfort or security in trying to look for understanding or reason where there is none. For now I just want to say I love you, miss you and will think of you often, my friend.

Ciao, bella!

17 February 2006

EPA Creates Face Shooting Standard

Washington D.C. - Spurred by a recent string of cases in which famous or powerful Americans in the upper 0.001% socioeconomic bracket have fired projectiles into the faces of other Americans (famous, powerful, or otherwise), the Environmental Protection Agency has been urged to set safety guidelines for similar future cases so Americans will know precisely how much being-shot-in-the-face is actually safe.

Among the details in the 746 page Countenance Impact Study (CIS) are levels of safe shot size at particular distances given the gauge of the shotgun in question, number of grains of powder per shell, and wind speed at the time of the occurrence. Surprisingly, most buckshot is still considered safe for the being-shot-in-the-face guidelines, as long as the formulas listed even out across all factors.

“Being shot in the face doesn’t have to be unsafe,” says EPA special studies expert Dr. Ralph Remmington. “Even twelve or ten gauge shot guns can have safe distances or powder combinations for being-shot-in-the-face occurrences. The last thing we want is for the public to feel at all threatened by these recent cases. Our very lengthy, detailed, and mathematically and scientifically sound data erases most if not all of the harms that were formerly assumed to accompany being-shot-in-the-face events.”

When asked about the high percentage of deaths among those affected by being-shot-in-the-face cases, Remmington remarked “Given our recent mathematical data, and the data we have been able to assemble through extrapolation from other cases when the very wealthy have shot into the faces of the populace, we have concluded that the deaths of those involved were not necessarily related to the being-shot-in-the-face case in question.”

Asked to remark further on this phenomenon, Remmington said “Other factors could have related to the demise of those shot-in-the-face individuals. For example, some have been shown to have severe heart ailments whose recurrence coincided, at random, with the being-shot-in-the-face event. In even more cases, we believe, the individuals in questions are likely to have suffered from a genetic being-shot-in-the-face condition that lies well outside the bounds of accountability by the shooter.” The EPA’s CIS elaborates on this point, using evidence from some of the nation’s foremost geneticists, stating that Americans have a nearly 100% genetic predisposition to harms resulting from being-shot-in-the-face cases. This alarming finding is no cause for concern, however, according to Remmington.

“Scientists and other people wearing white coats are working around the clock on applications for the now-mapped human genome. The multitude of research based on these findings, done primarily by the nations largest and most important corporations, include all manner of data linking any number of toxins, hazards, syndromes, and even being-shot-in-the-face cases to the internal workings of each of us, ridding our need to blame external sources for society’s problems in the future. It’s only a matter of time before we discover the being-shot-in-the-face gene.”

“It all lies within us,” Remmington concludes. “We must take responsibility for our own genes. Even if it requires us to be shot in the face by rich people without filing a frivolous lawsuit.”

15 February 2006

Top Ten Cultural Lies

10. Growth is good.
9. Globalization helps the poor.
8. Corporations and governments care about people.
7. Scientific progress is beneficial to living things.
6. A degree or diploma confers expertise or wisdom.
5. Money = wealth.
4. There are enough resources to endlessly supply our overconsumptive and wasteful lifestyles.
3. Consumption by the rich does not deprive the poor.
2. Cancer, heart disease, obesity, endocrine syndromes and neurological disorders (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Scleroisis, Autism, et al.) are genetically inherited.
1. There is a level at which toxins are OK for living things.

07 February 2006

Dr Will and The Globalization World Tour - Stop #1


Having liberated most of the developed world with his in-your-face, get-with-the-program therapy, Dr. Will decided to embark upon a quest to offer his unique brand of services to the rest of the globe. He figured that if the North could use his support, the poorer, more desperate South might respond to his aid even more. Dr. Will convinced himself that he was destined to reach all of those in need, considering how well-intended, well-received and well-off he had become in the past few years.

First stop: Honduras.

The setting for Dr. Will’s reception in this country was a newly constructed outdoor amphitheatre build from native old growth trees from the Amazon just for his visit.  Nearly 3000 people turned out for this makeshift, self-help retreat, but the focus of today’s treatment was an 18 year old girl, Rosa, jailed for the past five years and recently released. Rosa’s mother was concerned about her past acts of delinquency and rebellion against the state, and worried about Rosa’s prospects for the future. Hopeful that Dr. Will might set her back upon the right track, Rosa too looked for answers from this guru and sat on a stool on the stage next to her mother and the good doctor, much like on Dr. Will’s widely popular television show.

“Now Rosa, let’s start with explaining to these people,” Will points to the audience, “just how it came about that you got yourself into jail.”

“Well, I was working at the Sean John factory in the maquiladora trying to help my mom pay for my little brother’s school. With my salary of 31 cents an hour, we had enough to afford rice and beans for breakfast and dinner, and still send Jorge to school, but we couldn’t afford water. Since the takeover of the water supply, water cost $12 a week, and that was nearly ¾ of my salary.”

Rosa continued, “I worked 15 hours a day, so by the time I got home at night, it was too late and too dangerous for me to venture down to the river on the other side of town to gather some buckets for our family’s needs. Besides, Juanita was telling me that everyone in town was getting sick from the river water, anyway. It flowed downstream of the Chiquita farm, and the planes come and spray that place nearly every week. Juanita’s brother was born without eyes, and they say it’s from the spray.”

“Rosa, it sounds like Juanita is a fairly negative young woman. You might want to try to get people like that out of your life.” Dr. Will advised.

“Juanita’s my bestest amiga!”

“We can talk about Juanita later, Rosa. Please continue with your story.”

“OK. So anyway, I put our buckets on the roof to collect rainwater so we could drink and clean. Two days later, they came and arrested me.”

“So they put you in jail for collecting the rainwater?” asked Dr. Will, to reiterate the point.

“Yes.”

“And who, by rights of state, owned that rainwater?”

“I don’t know. Bechtel or Vivendi or Coca-Cola or some other --.”

“So you admit that you were being a typical rebellious teen, stealing water that wasn’t your own, breaking the law and expecting to get away with it?”

“What? No ….”

“Rosa, girl! You just can’t do that! You just can’t decide what laws you will and will not obey. Don’t you understand that? With rule-breaking, there are consequences. You do understand this, don’t you?”

The crowd applauds.

“Well, yeah…”

“You don’t want to land in jail again, right?”

“No. But—”

“And you want to really be of help to your family now, right?”

“Yeah. But—”

“So let me tell you what I am gonna do for you, Rosa. I’m gonna set you up with Maria here. She’s a local water counselor here in Honduras. She’s an expert in the field of water preservation and did her PhD studies on water deprivation. She’s able to go for five days at a time with no water whatsoever! Would you be willing to accept Maria’s help?”

“I guess…”

Crowd applauds and cheers again.

“And I’m going to give you a free autographed copy of my new book, Will You Just Behave: Who Made You Think You Know What’s Best for You?

The crowd whoops with approval. Another woman saved. Another country liberated.

30 January 2006

Preying



One of the few creatures we have found in New Zealand is the eel and his cousin, the lamprey. Over the course of my stay here, I’ve run into a practice unique to New Zealand that links the lamprey to human health. People who practice this sort of science, called Preying, use the lamprey to balance nutrients within human blood.

There are a number of blood tests that can be done to determine the optimal levels of all the amino acids and other nutrients needed for good human health (if anyone doubts that I need the Preying procedure, I’d be happy to provide the conclusive evidence born out in these tests). These are not simple blood tests that look for particular flags like in normal blood screening. Rather, these tests reduce the blood into its components. It isn’t at all difficult to determine what these components should be for a healthy person. From there, Preying strives to regulate blood, to remove excess nutrients and leave nutrients that are correctly balanced. In this way, the chemical balance of the blood can be regulated and maintained.

Who even knew that much of what ails us is due to a chemical imbalance of the blood!

Twice per week now, I am visiting the offices of my local Preyer. She has all the certificates and papers needed, so I trust her with my health completely. All I have to do is pay a low fee per visit, NZ$55, and she lays me down, takes her scientific blood tests that determine how healthy I am, and then she attaches one or more of these lampreys to various parts of my body, depending on the areas that produce or concentrate particular nutrients.

It isn’t always comfortable, like last week when she attached a particularly vicious-looking meter-long lamprey to my scrotum, but I think it’s well worth the pain, the cost, and the total abandonment of reason and common sense to provide me with the peace of mind that my health is being taken care of by someone else - anyone but me.

Toward Solutions

Though most people are vaguely aware of the numerous ills that plague the global landscape – poverty, social unrest, disease, metal illness, ecological devastation, climate change – they often complain:

“I’m so tired of hearing about all of the problems. What can I do about them?”

I believe we cannot fully comprehend the severity and enormity of what troubles us without opening up our eyes and minds to grasp the full extent of our predicament. Each and every problem is wholly connected to the other, and to solve them, we need individual and collective systemic change, in behavior and paradigm. I also do not think people will be willing to sacrifice their superficial contentment and comfort without the full knowledge of why it so critical to do so. This blog is devoted to elucidating global truths about our lives and the life of the earth, however painful and negative those truths may seem to be. Writing about them will take volumes and fully comprehending them will take years of reading, learning, understanding, critical thinking, soul searching and surrender.

In any case, for those who want to cut to the chase, here’s a list of things each one of us can personally do to help ourselves, our health, those less powerful or economically wealthy, and the earth:


  • Reduce consumption, thereby reducing waste. When you must buy:
    Buy products that are necessary and useful, and eliminate those that are of no value.

    Buy as many of your products as possible from local producers/manufacturers. If you must buy imports, make sure they are fair trade.

    Do not patronize large corporations. That includes buying products from them, or listening to/reading their biased/polarized media.

    Buy only organic food as directly from the farm as possible.

  • Save energy whenever and wherever you can. This might include canceling long trips by air, using your car far less, using more energy efficient lighting or none at all, eliminating superfluous gadgets and turning off the TV.

  • Do not eat any processed foods. Check your labels. If there are ingredients that don’t look or sound like food, don’t ingest them.

  • Do not buy or use products made with synthetic chemicals.

  • Eat as close to a vegetarian diet as you possibly can and exercise regularly, if that only means taking a walk a few times a week. This will help ….

  • Prevent illness and eliminate your reliance on pharmaceuticals. Talk to your physician and learn about your own illness. You may not need medicine to help yourself heal. In most cases, your body is constructed to do that on its own.

  • Eliminate your ties to jobs that destroy people or the environment.

  • Get to know the other lives that share your community, not simply the human ones.

  • Read.

  • Remember, when all is said and done, you cannot eat or drink money.

This is only a partial list of first steps in helping to heal our lives and our planet. It is not easy to follow them all the time, but the more of us that do, the more society and businesses around us will change to reflect our wishes to have healthier and happier lives. And to protect the lives of the future.

To read more about why these changes are imperative, you may want to reference any one of the following:
Diet for a Dead Planet, Christopher D. Cook

Not on the Label, Felicity Lawrence

Globalization: Take it Personally, Anita Roddick

The Ecology of Commerce, Paul Hawken

The Corporation, Joel Bakan

How We Can Save the Planet, Mayer Hillman

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, Thom Hartman

Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins

Monocultures of the Mind, Vandana Shiva

Welcome to the Machine, Derrick Jensen

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser

Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky

The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn

25 January 2006

Civil Obedience



Civil disobedience in not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.

Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience ...

Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty.

Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty theives, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem.


-- Howard Zinn
(Sometimes when you are at a loss for words, you ought to just defer to the master.)

23 January 2006

Big Foot


I feel I have a moral obligation to leave as little of a footprint on this earth as possible. Though I still use far too many energy sources for far too many gadgets, I have made a concerted effort to cut back over the past dozen years or more, and continually strive to do better. My personal commitment is far from perfect and far from over. This is the only way I can live with myself. I am not a fascist, socialist, communist, or idealist. I am a realist. Life on earth is struggling to survive (for billions of related reasons that can only be covered in many subsequent writings), and since it is quite likely that it’s lifespan may be shortening at a more alarming rate than any of us had imagined, the least I can do is help to extend it’s life expectancy.

To that end, I have only been in a motor vehicle once in the past month and a half. I have been spending all of my time on foot.

Walking is a fine way to get around when you can. Zero-emission, environmentally friendly. Free; no money spent on gasoline/petrol. Side benefits include free workout (saving money on gym memberships), and free psychotherapy (via long thoughts and communing with nature).

I did as much of this as I could when living in D.C. and LA. too, but because of the fewer number of and smaller cars here, New Zealand tends to be a more hospitable pedestrian environment. And being a pedestrian, I tend to be more hospitable to the environment.

14 January 2006

The Conscientious Orc



I’ve been reading about people like Ray Anderson, the carpet manufacturer who is trying to “climb Mt. Sustainability” by making carpets that reuse 100% of their materials, are tracked and reclaimed by the company at the end of the product’s life, are made with solar power rather than being plugged into the grid. The architect William McDonough specializes in making eco-friendly factories for businesses like The Gap and Ford so that the output from those factories produces fewer or no toxins (really?) in the design. He even creates scenarios where river water used by factories is pumped out at the “waste” end with even cleaner water than the river had originally.

Let’s put this in perspective, first of all. These guys are freaks. Regular businesses laugh and point at these guys. Immediate profits are everything to just about every company in the world, and this is even a legal mandate for a corporation, who (yes who, corporations are legal people, remember) cares nothing for you or me or any other creature on the planet.

But beyond the fringe nature of these guys, I can’t help but feel disturbed by what they are doing, because their idea is that we can still turn a profit and run a sustainable enterprise. In fact, as you might well imagine, without this pitch, neither The Gap nor Ford would ever agree to build eco-friendly factories at all, unless it were an isolated publicity stunt to enhance their corporate image (and I’m not convinced, yet, that this isn’t the case).

Can we really maintain a paradigm of economic growth and still be doing no harm in any sense? We need to think beyond being green, here. What about poverty? Should we still be able to horde 4000 pair of shoes in our closets like those idiot women in Sex in the City just because the soles are no longer made of PVC, and just because the factory didn’t pollute the water? Is it OK to remain rabid consumers, which is essential to the growth paradigm, when most of the world suffers as a result of our glut?

It’s just not enough.

An analogy with those evil Orcs from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings amuses me, and sort of makes it easier for me to understand why it feels wrong to be both green and profitable.

So there’s this medium-sized Orc, by the name of Grisly, who is a member of Sauron’s (the Dark Lord’s) army. He and his fellow marauders are currently dismembering Hobbits (you know, like cute little Frodo and Sam) in the Shire, stealing their moderate wealth, then torching the Hobbit’s tiny hovels before moving on to the next village.

One night, around the fire, Grisly confides to his friends that he believes it is wrong to dismember the Hobbits in so painful a way. His buddies point and laugh, slap him around a bit, but eventually they listen to what he has to say. They tell him he can go ahead and use a quick cut to the throat if he wishes, but that he shouldn’t deprive the rest of the band of the joy they receive from torture.

The next evening in the next Hobbit village, Grisly acts on his conscious, and he reduces the suffering of the poor Hobbits by slashing their throats quickly and efficiently. He even is able to sneak up on some of them and kill them before they know what is happening. It is his hope that this practice will spread to his fellow pillagers, but until such a time, he will just have to be content with his new, clean methods of extermination.

After a couple of weeks of this practice, however, a new thought nags at Grisly: Why are we pillaging at all? Yes, we need to ransack and murder for the Dark Lord, but is this the right thing to be doing? Are there not other pursuits besides filling Sauron’s coffers through murder that ought to be considered as primary occupations for one’s life?

“Nah,” says Grisly to himself. “It’s all I know how to do.”

12 January 2006

To Shtup or be a Schmuck


Look, I was no fan of Bill Clinton, but does it not seem absurd that he was impeached for having extra-marital sex while George W. Bush continually commits crimes against his own citizens and the rest of humanity and still rides high, no questions asked? African-Americans all throughout America know that the “justice” system is nothing of the sort, but how can anyone believe in the law after this charade?

I was appalled as I listened to the misogynist words of Samuel A. Alito at his Senate confirmation hearings. But beyond that, he was questioned as to whether he believed that the President was above the law. At which time it occurred to me, does it really matter what anyone believes with regard to this issue? Clearly, the President IS above the law, since he just committed a national crime against Americans’civil liberties. In addition, he has engaged in an illegal war which is violating UN international law and has committed war crimes both directly and indirectly with methods of interrogation and torture utilized at Guantanamo Bay and around the world. This man should be in jail (along with scores of other corporate and political criminals).

Years ago, when I lived in Washington D.C., I was called for jury duty. I was selected for a group that would be whittled down to what they hoped would comprise the actual jury. The judge asked us some general questions as a group, and told us to raise our hands if our response to any of the questions was negative. One question was, “If I told you that X was the law, would any of you have a problem following that?” I raised my hand. After lunch break, anyone who had raised their hand was individually questioned by the judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney. The judge asked me again, “If I told you the law was A-B-C, then you might still see it as D-E-F?” I said that if “D-E-F” were just, then yes, I’d rather have true justice than superficial law. To which the judge looked at the lawyers, and said, “Gentlemen, I think we call that anarchy.” I smiled. Exactly.

08 January 2006

When it’s Time to Change then it’s Time to Change

As a teenager, just getting my footing in regards to socio-political issues, I considered myself a liberal Republican. My knowledge of history and current events was clouded by family tradition, education, and media. Not by an education or media with a dichotomous political bent, mind you. That dichotomy is immaterial compared to the singular world view that actually exists. My knowledge, as everyone’s in the western world, was biased toward a particular way of life: a way of life that is destroying the planet and all of its inhabitants, a way of life that is physically, psychologically, and emotionally fatal, a way of life that is usurping the globe.

I didn't have a single epiphany and suddenly discover I was a Democrat. I had a lifelong learning curve (still in progress) that has led me to understand that the only solution to our problems exists far outside the simple, contented duopoly we have created.

Our model for living is not sustainable for us as individuals and certainly not for future generations. In the words of Bill McDonough and Ray Anderson, it is

intergenerational tyranny, the worst form of remote tyranny, a kind of taxation without representation across the generations, levied by us on those yet unborn


Evidence to this truth exists in abundance. Though it may be negative or depressing, we ought to remove our rose-colored glasses, put away our superficial, insular self-help books, and use the dismal truth to heed the call to action. The reason that the Oprahs and Dr. Phils and gurus of the world, despite their tremendous wealth, power, and influence, have not effected positive lasting change on the planet is because they promote action within the comfortable confines of our current cultural paradigm. A little giving here and a little help there, while still separating the personal from the political and still maintaining a corporate-industrial lifestyle, will not save future generations from definite chaos.

The purpose of this blog is to exchange understandings of truths not always promoted by a corporate-controlled society with a certain financial agenda. We don’t have all of the answers, but we are constantly searching and uncovering more and more questions.

There are two things of note that I encountered this weekend:

In a cafe here in New Zealand, I happened upon a program that originated in the United States, BookCrossing.com. One’s read books are left in any public space, tagged and cataloged via this website, for other people to read and spread along again. Sort of like a global library. Sure, it takes away revenue from the author who might otherwise sell another book. But let’s face it; authors rarely make the money on their publications. The corporate publishing conglomerate reaps nearly all the profits while (under most circumstances) plundering and polluting the earth in the process of production. A free, anonymous exchange of published ideas and information seems a noble notion.

My neighbor/landlord loaned me a book that encompasses a variety of topics, with great research and resources, proclaiming, with more eloquence and consideration than what I write here, the oneness of all of our problems and solutions. I’ve only just begun reading the book, but would like to begin sharing it now, nonetheless:

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann.

It's time to change.

(Note: For now, computers and the Internet {i.e., this blog} enable a fast, free exchange of ideas and information, but that must change too. There should be a time when this technology is obsolete, not because it is replaced with a new model, but because despite some of the positive things it does, it is wreaking mental, social, and environmental havoc on the planet, especially on the poor.)

05 January 2006

Bizarro Robin Hood


The wealthy and the government are at it again, stealing from the poor to give to the rich. As if they don't already do that every year with a thing known as income taxes.

I won't go into the fact that every single human in every industrialized nation, including you and I, owes all that we have to the detriment of others around the world. Yes, we are all guilty by virtue of our collusion with the system (and all of its components) in which we choose to live. But I will have to go into that further at another time with more proof, since it takes mounds of evidence for us all to face clear and common sense facts. We are not absolved because we donate to charity.

Ours is a world where the rich are quenched by the sweat of the poor, confined to slave labor, jail, or death.

Maybe we should start reading to our kids from the Book of Bizarro Fairy Tales, beginning with a story of Bizarro Robin Hood. Perhaps that might prepare them for the real world.

02 January 2006

Energy Free Energy


For those of you in the Midwest and Northern part of America, it is already promising to be a frigid winter. With the rising costs of energy this year due to natural disasters (and, of course, gouging) you might be looking for ways to save. I don't blame you. And your government is certainly not going to help you. If not for Venezuela, the low-income populations in many major cities would probably be falling in droves due to frostbite. Here's one thing we do:

We have a wee washing machine in our wee cottage but not a dryer. Considering that we need to do a wash about every other day, and considering that it has been rainy here for the past week, it has been pretty crowded while the clothes dry on a rack in the house. However, the other day the sun came back out, and we rushed to do all of our laundry. Hanging clothes out on the line is really common here, but the practice seems to be fading in America. We hung stuff out in the morning sun, and our clothes were nearly dry in about 15 minutes. It's amazing! What a tremendous energy source! Why in the hell are we not universally harnessing this free, clean, seemingly endless supply of energy? Enron? GE? Con Ed? Unocal? BP? ExxonMobil? What say you? “Shh. No $$$$S.” (Oh, I forgot.)

Burden in My Hand*: The U.S. Medical Industrial Complex

 Years ago my husband and I were traveling out of town when he noticed a very itchy red blotch growing around his elbow. By dinnertim...