Sunday, July 25, 2010

Constructive Ideas

I have been thinking in terms of activities that I can do now to lower my carbon footprint (getting off of airplanes was a huge leap in that direction) and improve the quality of my food supply. I am thinking that it will be crucial in any food constrained situation to know how to preserve food that you grow during harvest season. I found this:

NOFA/Mass is a community including farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers working to educate members and the general public about the benefits of local organic systems based on complete cycles, natural materials, and minimal waste for the health of individual beings, communities and the living planet.

So I am going to start incorporating into my schedule efforts to learn real skills that help the environment and help me feel like I am contributing to possible alternatives rather than just being complicit in the problems. Other items on the list: woodworking, sewing and possibly refurbishment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Direction

So I spent a week on a third world beach and came back to my beautiful home, good friends, family and proper soap. I also realized that the daily onslaught of the end is near news is too overwhelming to digest and not really helpful. So for a little while, I am going to try a new direction. I am going to post the best ideas that our out there on how to change the direction we are going. Links to books and articles of people who are thinking through possibilities for the future. I hope you enjoy. Here are some starters.

In effect, deep-down we all want to be told what to do, and to be part of a cause or movement which is greater than ourselves. This could be the Armed Forces, an organized religion, a political party, a global corporation, a Central State or one of its many fiefdoms.

Do we cling so tightly to these ideologically appealing, quasi-religious failed ideas because we fear not having any replacement ideas? Or do we cling to these failed ideas because we fear the decline of the Power Elites and the Empire? Or are we suffering from a grand failure of imagination, as I have suggested here before? Questioning "Progress" and the Poverty of our Imagination (June 11, 2010) .

Points one and three are related (and point two is a product of fatally identifying our well-being with the interests of our oppressors, i.e. Dow Jones = "our economic health"). Our fear of not having replacement ideas (and not knowing how they may work in advance) is cutting off our imagination. Without the fear and with a dose of analysis and creativity, many of the innovative ideas are really pretty obvious. They just require a kind of dynamic work and thinking ethic that most people are not prepared to make at this point (at least until they are forced into it, which is coming soon).

We need to have some guideposts in place about what CANNOT work and what CAN. The "cannot" is taken care of by rigorous observation and effort over mere convenient and lazy wish. The "can" is taken care of by creativity, initiative, and perhaps most importantly a new ethic for living which sees challenge as desirable, spontaneous communal commitment and innovation as fun and fulfilling, and social well-being as the point of individual effort rather than personal aggrandizement.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The system is broken

Sometimes you sit in your house with the electricity running, clean water coming through the pipes, food in the refrigerator and think how fcuked up can it really be? Really fcuked up is the answer.

Berry writes in “The Peace of Wild Things”:

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

You fcuking a**holes


The Dutch fall into the first group. Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. "Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour," Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.

To protect against the possibility that its equipment wouldn't capture all the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch also offered to prepare for the U.S. a contingency plan to protect Louisiana's marshlands with sand barriers. One Dutch research institute specializing in deltas, coastal areas and rivers, in fact, developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks.

The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company's expense. "If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands," says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.

In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with "Thanks but no thanks," remarked Visser, despite BP's desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer --the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment --unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.

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