Is Cannibalism Right for You?

cannibalism ludacris

The Onion once ran a story about two men who killed and partially ate a coworker while the three of them were stuck in a malfunctioning elevator. The three had been trapped together, without food or water, for nearly half-an-hour. In the story, the men admitted, on reflection, that they may have resorted to cannibalism just a bit prematurely.

cannibalism elevator cartoon

I know how they feel. I don’t really want to be known as the first person in the 21st Century to advocate cannibalism, and I really don’t want to lead a crusade for it. I just want for us to get to the day where eating another human being has become an accepted everyday thing.

cannibalism frowned upon

I know that it’s bound to happen eventually. Whether I want it to happen or not, people have got to realize that the single most abundant source of protein and fat left on Earth is human flesh. I’m not enthusiastic about this fact. I don’t think it anything to celebrate. It’s simply a fact of life. Cannibalism seems inevitable to me at this point, and I think maybe the sooner we get to it, the better.

Cannibalism closest two human beings can get

With over seven billion human beings on the planet, we’ve so outstripped the Earth’s carrying capacity that I just don’t see another way out of this mess. I suppose a global pandemic might do the trick, but it would have to be a doosie, and we shouldn’t just wait around for some hypothetical microbe to solve our problems for us. Like it or not, we humans will probably have to solve the human population problem ourselves, and cannibalism seems like an unavoidable part of the solution.

cannibalism overpopulation1

I realize that most people would rather eat practically anything else, before they would willingly sink their teeth into a “suburban pork” chop. Unfortunately, if we put off the cannibalism option until the last possible moment, we will have already wiped out all of the biodiversity necessary to support those of us who might otherwise survive this grisly phase of human history. It would be like raising a praying mantis, from an egg, in a jar.

praying mantis in a jar

If you start with a praying mantis egg case in a jar, soon, you will have a jar full of baby praying mantises.

praying mantis egg hatch

The praying mantises then begin preying on each other.

praying mantis cannibalism

Eventually, you have a jar with only one praying mantis left in it, and that praying mantis then slowly starves to death. The whole process takes about a semester, which makes it popular with science teachers.

praying mantis face

My point is: if we wait to the last minute before resorting to cannibalism, the survivors have nothing to look forward to, except starving to death on a dead planet. Not much of a future there. You might prefer to become chopped sirloin.

cannibalism choice cuts

The only thing worse than a world in which people hunt each other down for food, is a world where most people wish they were dead, and the rest, don’t have the appetite to eat them. No matter how bad things get, it’s important to have something to look forward to, and if we hold out too long on the cannibalism question, it might cost us the hope of a post-cannibalistic future.

Something To Look Foward to

On the other hand, if we get started eating each other now, while a few fish remain in the sea, before the caribou population collapses, and while some rainforest habitat remains unconverted to palm oil plantations, the few humans that survive these dark days of dietary depravity, might actually look forward to a bright future. As humans became more and more scarce, those few survivors may eventually find that deer, wild boar, and even endangered coho salmon have become more plentiful.

Coho Salmon 2

Having lived, for at least a few generations, on a diet high in human protein, these lucky descendents of ours might find the idea of eating these other species revolting and barbaric. However, as humans became more scarce and widely dispersed, and as they developed more successful strategies to avoid becoming someones lunch, people would, once again, however reluctantly, learn to eat these, newly replenished, wild game animals that once nourished our prehistoric ancestors, and eventually, I’m sure, they would reacquire a taste for them.

acquired taste tori amos

Still, despite the promise of a brighter future, the idea of a world in which cannibalism has become common, widespread, and “the new normal”, seems unthinkably ghastly, but consider the alternative:

foodshopping-consider the alternatives

For many years I ate a vegetarian diet. I had many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, but high among them was this argument: The world can support many more vegetarians than it can meat eaters. Basically, the argument goes that it is much more efficient for a person to eat grain directly, rather than feeding it to livestock first, and then eating the livestock.

cows eating

I bought that argument. I wanted to shrink my carbon footprint and live a lower impact lifestyle, and I thought that eating a vegetarian diet would help me do that.

Istara Bon Gundry, Katrina Lugartos, Ashley Fruno

Today, I’m not so sure. I still want to minimize my carbon footprint, but I’m not so sure that vegetarianism is the answer.

vegetarian-myth-cover

For one, it now seems to me that the biggest problem we face is overpopulation. There are twice as many human beings on the planet now than there were when I was10 years old. 35% of the Earth’s total landmass has been converted to agriculture. The oceans have been mostly fished out and polluted. Even on a vegetarian diet, the Earth’s human population is not sustainable, and agriculture, far more than hunting or other forces, is wiping out wild animal populations by destroying and fragmenting their habitat.

ag land converts

As a result of converting ever larger tracts of land from habitat to agriculture, we get a world populated by more and more humans, and fewer and fewer of every other species.

homeless-lion

Not far down the line in the vegetarian scenario we end up with 30 billion humans on planet Earth, and every square inch of the planet not occupied by human habitation, devoted to agriculture. That just leaves everyone one crop failure away from that whole cannibalistic praying mantis scenario. So, when it comes to eating meat, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, it seems to me.

damned if you dont

My partner Amy finally got me off of the vegetarian bandwagon.

fell off the wagon

She tried to join me in my vegetarian lifestyle, but by about the 600th time we had hummus and corn chips for dinner, she decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

cant take it anymore

We started adding some animal protein to our diet. Amy took more of an interest in food and nutrition, and we started eating better. Every time she read a new book, I’d find some strange new food on my dinner plate, but most of it turned out OK.

strange new food

Last year, for her birthday, Amy asked me if I would go on the Paleo diet with her. That was all she wanted for her birthday, and she agreed to do all of the cooking. I thought, “I can afford that!” So, ever since last May, we’ve eaten Paleo. It took a little getting used to, but now, I really like it.

paleo-diet

Paleo meals are amazingly delicious, satisfying and easy to make, or so it seems, since I never make them, but Amy makes it look easy. We have meat with almost every meal, and meals are simple. Usually, meals have two ingredients, some kind of meat, and some kind of vegetable, usually cooked up in a skillet or dutch oven, maybe with some garlic or ginger. Chicken thighs and carrots, pork chops and beets, ground beef and cabbage, are a few examples of meals I’ve enjoyed over the past year.

paleo easy

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but cooked up together, meat and vegetables taste great together. I’ve never cared much for steamed vegetables, but cooked up in a little bit of pork fat or chicken schmaltz, vegetables taste great. The diet seems to agree with me too. I’ve lost a little weight, without even trying, and my HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio has improved since I started on the so-called “Caveman Diet”.

paleo bone

So, I feel better, my girlfriend is happy, and we both enjoy eating this way. The Paleo diet now feels very natural, like this is how humans were meant to eat. Eating Paleo for a year has convinced me that cavemen lived pretty well.

cavewoman-vertical

Then I think about all of those poor battery chickens, and the factory farms, and the suffering and the cruelty that goes along with them. It’s horrible, I know. I feel awful about it.

lisa_the_vegetarian_4716_616260_answer_1_xlarge

I’d prefer to hunt wild animals, but precious few of them remain, and those that persist need all the help they can get. I don’t want to hunt anything to extinction.

pigs in crates

Really, I can only think of one animal that has become so common that killing them wholesale would actually make the world a better place. Besides their abundance, human beings rate pretty low on the “cute scale”, which would make them even easier to kill.

cute scale

Besides that, even though I’ve never hunted wild game before, I know human beings and their behavior patterns well enough that I think I could hunt them effectively.

hunting-humans

A lot of the humans I see these days look tender and well-marbled. I bet they would taste delicious, and I wouldn’t feel nearly as guilty about eating them, as I do about those poor chickens who never even had a chance to turn around, or see the light of day. Not only that, eating human beings would be a strong positive step in the right direction towards addressing the global overpopulation problem. The cannibalism question seems like a no-brainer to me.

No-Brainer

No, I don’t want to be the first, but I do look forward to the day, soon, hopefully, very soon, when we can move beyond our cultural revulsion at the idea of cannibalism, and that cannibalism will become just another accepted dietary choice, and culinary phenomena. The time has come to let go of our outdated ideas about food. We should accept the fact that cannibalism is good for your health, and good for the planet, and the sooner we learn to accept it, the better the future will be for all of us.

brighter_future_by_bistromatic-d3am5bn


Agribusiness, Genetic Engineering, and Where to Draw the Line

draw the line

When Eric Kirk introduced his most recent talk show on KMUD, he said his goal was to take listeners “outside of their comfort zone”. I have to say that he succeeded in that. Listening to his show made me uncomfortable in the same way that watching a dull-witted kid beat a dog with a stick would make you uncomfortable.

beating dog

Even if you don’t like dogs or kids, a scene like that makes you squirm. You wish you had never seen it. The whole pathetic situation makes you sick to your stomach, but you know that you have to say something.

See-something

In this little metaphor, The show’s host, Eric Kirk, is the kid, our local liberals are the dog, and appearing as the stick, we had Eric’s guest, Saul of Hearts, a young Portland hipster, self-described liberal, and cultivator of a ponytail. I don’t know why these count as credentials in Eric’s book, but apparently they do.

credentials dog

The crux of this guy’s biscuit, was that genetic engineering really doesn’t seem that scary to him, at least compared to some of the diabolical things that scientists have been doing to plants for decades, such as using ionizing radiation and chemicals to induce genetic mutations.

three boobs

The show’s engineer, and local liberal, Michael McKaskil immediately snatched that stick and broke it to pieces, pointing out that genetic engineering was, in fact, qualitatively different than induced mutation. Michael pointed out that because genetic engineering involves adding DNA from completely different organisms, it alters the genetics of plants in ways that mutation never would or could, and of course Michael was right about that.

dog-teeth

Eric’s guest then turned the argument into one of “where do you draw the line?”, pointing out that between mono-cropping, pesticide use, aquifer depletion, chemical fertilizers, habitat loss, global climate change etc, etc, we have bigger problems with agribusiness than genetic engineering. Of course, Eric’s guest is not an agriculture reform activist. In fact, he only mentioned about half of the above, no where near exhaustive, list of ag related crises. Eric’s guest didn’t call for us to get up off of our sofas to do anything about any of these issues. Instead, he simply suggested that liberals are making too big of a fuss about GMOs.

draw the line somewhere

No, he’s not an activist. He’s a liberal blogger, much more concerned with his own career as a writer, than anything else. In other words, he’s a conservative, with a ponytail. Not that I have any great love of liberals, or political activists for that matter, quite the opposite.

quite-the-opposite-quote-by-rachel-miner

I feel the same way about our political system as I do about professional wrestling. It’s obviously fake. It’s embarrassingly stupid to watch, and you know that as long as it remains popular, humanity’s future looks bleak. Still, unless you’ve worked on a citizen’s campaign, you have no idea how much time, money and effort it takes to bring an issue like GMOs to the attention of the general public, not to mention the difficulty of explaining a high-tech problem to a poorly educated populace. That’s part of the reason that democracy has failed.

pro wrestling2

One caller to the show accused him of being an industry shill. I don’t think so. I just think him an opportunist. Right now, a lot of unpaid, volunteer activists are putting in a lot of time and energy to raise the issue of genetic engineering in the eye of the general public. By taking advantage of the fact that most people don’t know very much about big agribusiness, Saul of Hearts found an angle that allowed him to capitalize on the hard work of real activists.

capitalize

So much for the stick, but I must agree with him on one point, and that is: Agriculture is fucked! Agriculture is destroying the world. Even without GMOs, the single biggest reason that this planet is going down the shitter is agriculture. Agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction, both world wide, and locally. Agricultural runoff has created “dead zones” in parts of the ocean that once teemed with life, and agriculture fuels the human population explosion. Agriculture doesn’t make life better; agriculture merely insures that there will be more of us to share the misery of an increasingly impoverished world.

Homeless

Agriculture is bad news! It now covers a third of the Earth’s total land mass, and it continues to grow! Agriculture was undoubtedly the biggest mistake in the history of humanity, and people have known this since the beginning. If you were wondering where to “draw the line”, I think the authors of The Old Testament got it right.

where-does-god-draw-the-line

Agriculture is the “original sin” in the biblical story of Adam and Eve. If you recall the story, God provided everything for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, until they ate the “forbidden fruit”. After that, Adam had to spend the rest of his days toiling in the fields, while Eve had to repeatedly endure the pain of childbirth. In other words, whatever that “forbidden fruit” was, Adam and Eve’s punishment was to live like farmers.

adam tilling2

The writers of the Old Testament make it abundantly clear that God does not like farmers. In the story of Cain and Abel, God shows favoritism towards Abel, the herder, over his brother, Cain, the farmer. This so enraged Cain, that he killed Abel, and watered his fields with his brother’s blood.

cain and abel

Now, I’m not a Christian, or a Jew, and I don’t “believe in” the Bible, but this is what the witnesses of “the agricultural revolution” thought of the world’s first farmers. Thousands of years before the first written language, those ancient people would have known nothing about DNA, germ theory or the scientific method, but they weren’t stupid. Thousands of years ago they recognized farmers as vicious murderous people who were damned by God.

Damned-Nations

They watched those vicious, murderous, damned farmers turn the “Fertile Crescent” into a desert. They watched those damned farmers spread all over the world, systematically wiping out or assimilating every other culture they encountered, claiming new territories, replacing natural habitat with farmland and watering their crops with the blood of their brothers.

brothers_and_sister

Those damned farmers gave us overpopulation, genocide, slavery, and the environmental crisis. They replaced our natural love of nature, and all living things, with “the work ethic”, and lives of endless toil. Farmers have transformed the “Garden of Eden” into hell on Earth, and the destruction continues to this day. Farming destroys the natural environment, and replaces it with an abundance of dull-witted, mean-spirited people who don’t know any other way to live.

Hell+on+earth

Farming is also addictive. The more habitat you destroy, the fewer game animals you leave. The more crops you grow, the faster your population grows. The more we do it, the harder it is to stop. Unless we stop, farming will kill us all. On the other hand if we stopped all agriculture right now, that would kill almost all of us. These are not biblical prophesies. That’s what science tells us, should we ever decide to listen.

listen-to-your-science-teacher-1

The Bible tells us that God punished those damned farmers by sending plagues. Today, we call them pests, and we understand why they continue to plague us. In nature, there is no such thing as a pest species, but when you disturb the natural environment, plow it under, and plant crops, you disrupt the natural balance of life. As a result, populations of some species, like locusts, frogs, vermin and disease causing microbes, explode, while others, like wild game animals, become extinct. What those ancient people saw as “God’s punishment”, we now see as the natural consequences of converting habitat to farmland.

JA1122_locusts

These “plagues” continue to vex farmers to this day, but we still don’t get the message. We still think we can outsmart “God”. We believe the world belongs to us, to remake in our own image. We think we rule the world, and we’re hellbent to prove it. That’s why scientists created GMOs in the first place, but even they know that today’s GMOs won’t be able to suppress God’s wrath for more than a few years, because organisms adapt. Bugs learn to tolerate BT, and weeds learn to drink Round-Up.

BT resistant-bugs

We don’t trust science when it tells us that sacrificing the natural environment for farmland causes insoluble problems. Instead, science has become the false religion of the damned, and genetic engineering, its latest assault on nature. Genetic engineering, like the high-tech organochlorine pesticides of the plastic age that proceeded it, is bound to fail spectacularly, and profitably. So, yes, agriculture is a goddamned sin, and no, genetic engineering is not going to fix it, or make the world a better place to live.

gmo lie

If you’re going to draw a line, you might as well draw it at the place where we made the wrong turn in the first place. It can be very helpful to know where we first went wrong. There’s an old Turkish saying: “If you realize that you’ve made a wrong turn, no matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong road, turn back.” I realize that this whole discussion is a long way from the current political debate, but unless you look at the big picture, you’ll never make sense of the puzzle.

turkish proverb


“Back to the Land” Mythbusting Pt. 2

mythbuster method

Last week’s post inspired more comments than usual, both here and on facebook. Since my audience gave me so much to think about, I thought I might double-dip on the subject of the mythology of the “back to the landers” I realize that my perspective seems blasphemous, and many of you have never heard such heresy before. No surprise there.

no-surprise abuse of power

Boomers, no matter what they do, have always been infatuated with themselves, The local merchants, who overcharge them for everything, just tell them what they want to hear. The non-profits around here are loath to criticize them, dependent as they are on dope yuppies’ donations, likewise with the sharecroppers, trimmers, and working stiffs. These people are so polite that they won’t even ask anyone around here what they do for a living.

too-polite

Even the homeless people around here kiss dope yuppie ass. I can’t believe how many homeless or marginally housed people volunteer lots of hours and devote a tremendous amount of energy to help local organizations that mostly serve dope yuppies. That just seems ass backwards to me. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that the well-to-do should volunteer to help the less fortunate, rather than vice versa.

ViceVersa-Lick-It featuring problem

So, we’ve got dope yuppies, who celebrate themselves shamelessly and relentlessly. Around them, a small army of sycophantic merchants, politicians, administrators, working people and hangers-on compete with each other for the crumbs that fall from the dope yuppies’ table.

Sycophants

Which leaves, basically, me, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the so-called “back to the landers”

You-Cant-Handle-the-Truth

One reader of last week’s post lamented that I hadn’t actually met any “real” back to the landers. I’ve discovered that every dope yuppie in SoHum believes themselves to be a “real” back to the lander, and that they all think of their neighbors as greed-heads, fucked-up drug addicts or both.

greed heads

Even the best of the back to the landers I know, the ones without the crazy collections of vehicles decaying in the yard, and piles of ridiculous useless stuff everywhere. The ones who have a little bit of imagination, build their own home, and do the whole harmonious, permaculture, native plant landscaping, composting toilet, solar electric, blah blah blah, even those people, don’t know when to stop.

know your parasites

As they get better at carpentry, their funky little cabins become elegant chalets, surrounded by effusive gardens. Peacocks roam the grounds, …along with servants. Sure, it’s lovely, but the scale is all wrong. Boomers do everything, too big.

too-big-first-world-problems

They grew up driving big-block V8 muscle cars. They gave us gigantic concerts, like Woodstock and Altamont, where the musicians look like ants, and sound like shit, and the audience amuse themselves with nudity and drug abuse. They couldn’t just drink a “cup ‘o Joe” like their parents, they have to have a double-shot, decaf, low-fat, triple-foam machiato with squirt of hazelnut syrup, and, of course, they don’t make that themselves. Hell no! It’s enough trouble just to order it. They expect us to make it for them, so they can consume our lives, as well as our future. Even cheap Mexican marijuana wasn’t good enough for them. They had to turn it into an expensive luxury product, so that poor kids would turn to cocaine and meth for a high they could afford.

crack cat

A reader suggested that the reason Boomers are so materialistic is that they were raised by depression-era parents, who never let them throw anything away. To make up for it, they gave us a world where everything is disposable, eating utensils, pens, lighters, flashlights, clothes, cameras, phones, furniture, stereos, TVs, computers. Nothing lasts, and nobody knows how to fix anything anymore. Kids today all know that the latest gadget won’t last half as long as a can of Spam, and that nothing in this world matters, except money. That’s the lesson the Boomers teach. It shouldn’t surprise them if the younger generation takes that lesson to heart.

money_matters

One reader commented, “I don’t recall taking a vow of poverty”. Far from it! Boomers spend like there’s no tomorrow, and thanks to them, there isn’t. Now nobody has to take a vow of poverty. We have poverty thrust upon us. The oceans have been fished-out and thoroughly polluted. The oil’s gone. There’s still plenty of natural gas, but they’re fracking the fuck out of our freshwater aquifers to get it. The only resource left to exploit is the lives of the descendants of the Baby Boomers, and the suck is on!

suck job

We look forward to lives of wage slavery lived for the benefit of bloodsucking landlords, and anyone who refuses to to participate in their own oppression can expect to be punished. They can expect to be kicked in the ribs by cops whenever they try to get some sleep, moved along by merchants whenever they sit down, denied access to bathrooms, water, food or shelter, and then made into scapegoats to be reviled and punished further for their poverty, punished until they die in the streets. I hear entirely too many dope yuppies and their suck-ups complaining about “the transient problem”. I see it differently. I think we have a “greedy boomer” problem.

boomers Jake Dimare quote

Another reader told of some back to the landers who were so poor that they could only afford the cheapest piece of land, but they managed to make it work for decades while keeping their “ethics intact”. Sure, …but they didn’t mind breaking a silly little law. They didn’t mind profiting from a really ugly policy. They didn’t mind converting forest to farmland. They didn’t mind moving on to land stolen through violence and genocide, and paying off the violent thugs who run this whole “private property” racket, namely, the county government. In the same sense, I could say that I survived the economic downturn with my investment portfolio “intact”.

ethics no

I’m not saying that the back to the landers are bad people. People do the best that they can for themselves. I’m saying that poor people don’t have the option of buying any land any more.

boomers rise

Things are not the same.

not the same the world

When you leave the world, worse off than you found it, you can’t call yourself a “success”. Yes, things were already going downhill when the Boomers took over, but they didn’t have to press the accelerator so hard, and now that they’ve wrecked the car, no one wants to hear about how well they think they handled that next-to-last turn.

wreck the car

We all inherited a diabolical economic system, a looming environmental crisis, and a culture in collapse. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to realize that, and to know that it was true. They knew the truth about Viet Nam. They read Silent Spring. They saw the Earth from space. They knew. …and collectively, they said, “Let’s do it up!”

Boomers go for bust


The Big Picture; A Unique Musical Performance on KMUD

The Big Picture 6 cov

I’m really excited about my partner, Amy Gustin’s, latest radio show: Episode #9 of The Living Earth Connection, titled The Big Picture. The Big Picture airs Sunday March 30 at 9:30 AM Pacific Time on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio. You can also listen to it online by clicking “listen now” or by searching the archive @ http://www.kmud.org.

kmud-radio-logo

The Big Picture airs during a time-slot known as The Spiritual Perspectives Hour, and Amy’s show, The Living Earth Connection, airs only on the fifth Sunday of the month, and only in those odd three or four months a year that have five Sundays. I know that most religious programming sucks, but I promise you that this show will be unlike anything you have ever heard on the radio before.

nothing you've ever heard before

I’m really excited about this show because it combines Amy’s Animist message with my electric didgeridoo music in a way that took on a life of its own. The resulting one hour-long musical performance, traces the history of life on Earth from its earliest microscopic origins through the evolution of the human brain, and uses science to reveal the ecology of beliefs that underpin the current environmental crisis. That’s why we call this project, “The Big Picture“.

animist vision

The combination of spoken word and didgeridoo in The Big Picture engages the whole brain, synthesizing the rational intellect with the wordless depths of the emotional subconscious in a way you’ll find both entertaining and edifying.  I hope you’ll tune in.

tune in


Mythbusting the “Back to the Land” Movement

Mythbusting the “Back to the Land” Movement

mythbusters

The time has come to set the record straight about one of the most pervasive myths about Humboldt County. I knew I had to take on this subject when I read Kieth Easthouse’s coverage of the recent “Environmental Cannabis Forum” held at the Mateel Community Center recently. At the forum, Tony Silvaggio, an HSU professor with the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, sited, as a factor in the increasing environmental degradation associated with marijuana cultivation…

HiiMR logo

“The children of the back-to-the landers who first started growing pot in Humboldt’s backcountry tend to be more materialistic and consumer-oriented – and less concerned about the environment than their parents.”

old hippies

Yeah, blame it on the kids. Surely, those idealistic “back to the landers” with their tiny, hand built eco-sensitive scrap-wood cabins and their 20 year-old trucks, who grow just enough marijuana each year to pay their property taxes, support their favorite environmental and social justice organizations and maybe, if it’s a good year, put some new tires on their old truck, couldn’t be responsible for destroying our watersheds, could they? No, that kind of “back to the lander” has nothing at all to do with the environmental damage wrought by the marijuana industry, mainly because that kind of “back to the lander” doesn’t exist in Humboldt County. At least I’ve never met one. That kind of “back to the lander” is a mythological beast, like leprechauns, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

bigfoot-kiss

You might think of a “back to the lander” as someone who abandoned the exploding plastic inevitable of American consumerism, for a simple life close to nature, but “back to the lander” means something entirely different in Humboldt County. The reason we call Humboldt’s dope-yuppy Baby Boomers “back to the landers” is because of what they do. They grow marijuana, sell it, use the money to buy stuff, and then they haul that stuff, back to the land.

haul junk

From what I’ve seen, I’m sure a Humboldt edition of the reality TV show Hoarders would shock most American consumers. I’ve seen some really ridiculous stuff in people’s yards around here, like airplanes without wings,

plane in woods

…speedboats without engines,

speedboat

…Italian sports cars overgrown with poison oak,

car sports overgrown

and a seven-foot-tall fiberglass caricature or a dachshund’s head that once festooned the facade of a long defunct fast food franchise.

doggie diner head

I know where there is a padlocked, windowless building, way out in the sticks, packed to the rafters with antique pinball machines that don’t work, celebrity look-alike dolls, still in their original packaging, boxes full of fake vomit and rubber dog poop and 15 cases of 30 year old Harley-Davidson brand wine coolers.

harley davidson wine coolers

Once, while digging in a garden in Humboldt County, my shovel hit something hard. I dug it out, brushed it off, and found myself holding a black statuette of a bird, that I immediately recognized as The Maltese Falcon from the old Humphrey Bogart movie. I kid you not, I dug up The Maltese Fucking Falcon in a Humboldt County garden.

the maltese-falcon

Do you remember The Maltese Falcon? The Maltese Falcon is a movie about an object, so immeasurably valuable in itself, that people willingly sacrifice their lives in order to possess it, only to discover it worthless as it crumbles to pieces in their hands.

Finding The Maltese Falcon, chipped and scratched, in a Humboldt County grow scene seemed appropriate, even perfect for the culture I encountered here. I had no interest in keeping it. I asked my landlord, a gray-haired boomer, of course, about it. Of course, it was his. He told me it was expensive, and that he bought four of them. He told me how much he loved The Maltese Falcon and how inspiring he found the idea of owning an object of immeasurable value. Again, I kid you not. That is a true “back to the lander”.

covetous creatures

I know another “back to the lander” who has at least 20 aquariums, no fish in any of them, but if he finds an aquarium at a good price, or one of unusual shape or size, he will immediately buy it. I know a “back to the land” woman who has at least 50 ornate glass and brass overhead electric lighting fixtures strewn about her land even though her house has no electricity. There are barns, sheds, outbuildings and trailers stuffed to the gills with books, records, clothing, stereo equipment, musical instruments, dishes, pottery, art, antiques, and memorabilia of all kinds, scattered all over Humboldt County, “back to the land” Baby Boomers responsible for all of it.shed

 

Do you ever wonder what happened to all of the bowling balls and pins from all of the bowling alleys that went out of business in the last 20 years? I’ve seen piles of them, big piles of bowling balls and bowling pins, deep in the woods, on a rural parcel in Humboldt County. Don’t ask me why.

Bowling_Balls in the woods

And don’t get me started on the rolling stock. If it has wheels and an engine, some “back to the lander” collects them. They don’t fix them, or restore them, or even try to keep rats from taking up residency in them or forest duff from burying them, but they do collect them. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, go-carts, quads, scooters, vans, Rvs, buses, ambulances, Zambonis, hearses, street-sweepers, cherry-pickers, rock-hoppers, forklifts, bulldozers, backhoes, jeeps, amphibious landing craft, armored personnel carriers, and railroad locomotives, you name it, and some “back to the lander’ bought one, dragged it out into the woods and then lost interest in it.

locomotive

I’ve offered to help some of these people clean their junk up and get it out of the forest, in exchange for allowing me to stay on their property while I did it. They all looked at me like I just offered to help them dispose of a sack of solid gold Krugerrands. They tell me how rare and valuable all of their stuff is, and how much money they paid for it. Then they tell me how much money they want for it, and how much more money I would have to pay every month for the privilege of living in their junkyard. So, mostly, they live alone on 40, 80 or 160 acres, while they bury themselves in, rapidly deteriorating, consumer-grade junk.

HOARDING-path

The Baby Boomers are the most materialistic generation in the history of humanity, and Humboldt’s “back to the lander” Baby Boomers are the most insanely, and I mean pathologically, dysfunctionally, psychotically, coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, insanely materialistic Baby Boomers I have ever met. I find it really hard to imagine how their kids could possibly top them.

coo coo clinton

True, the children of the “back to the landers” do like their pickup trucks, which cruise conspicuously all over town, but I think the younger generation gets a bad rap, because a lot of them would like to own land themselves. In order to do that, they have to buy it from those “back to the landers”. The “back to the landers” have a formula for determing the value of their land. First, they multiply the price they paid for the land originally, by 10 or 15. Then they add up how much they think all of the crap they’ve dragged onto it, would be worth, if there were anyone on Earth stupid enough to buy it. They then double that number, and add it to the asking price.

boomer 2

So, while the “back to the land” Baby Boomers were able to buy land for $20,000-$30,000, and sold the marijuana they grew on it for $3,000-$4,000 a pound, their kids are buying land for $300,000-$5000,000 and selling their pot for $1,000-$2,000 a pound and spending $10 for every 100 pounds of “back to the lander” crap they haul to the transfer station. Yes, the younger generation may be responsible for a lot of enormous water-sucking, forest-clearing mega-grows, because they really need the money, but as far as the materialism goes, their parents, Humboldt’s “back to the land” Baby Boomers still reign supreme.

boomer leeches


Yet Another Letter to the Editor

Yet Another Letter to the Editor

introduction

I wrote the following letter to the Editor of The Independent in response to a letter written by Dr. Jentry Anders, the author of Beyond Counterculture, a book that describes the modest beginnings of the “back to the land” movement in Humboldt County, and reveals, more than anything else, just how infatuated Baby Boomers are with themselves. Beyond Counterculture remains a central text of the “back to the land” mythology even though not that many people have actually read it. More about the myth of the “back to the landers” next week.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Dear editor-

I always enjoy hearing from Dr. Jentry Anders, but I must take exception to her most recent letter to the editor. Her explanation of the concept of carrying capacity, and the ecological function of limiting factors as regulators of population were accurate, succinct, and well supported by scientific evidence. However, her contradicting statement, just a few paragraphs later, “It is far too late to apply the concept of carrying capacity to human behavior in most situations.” has no such basis in fact.

propaganda

Only by the special “magic” of our political and economic system was it possible for some humans, like college professors, politicians, lawyers, judges, cops and drug dealers to temporarily live as though the concept of carrying capacity did not apply to humans, and that limiting factors did not exist for them. The special “magic” of our system comes from the belief that civilized humans are superior to nature, and not bound by its laws. The belief that civilized humans are superior to the rest of nature is a cornerstone of our culture, and it continues to guide and shape our society.

cornerstone-cartoon_larger

This firmly held belief, backed up by systematic, institutionalized violence, justified the extermination of Native Americans, the liquidation of old-growth forests, and the wholesale replacement of natural habitat, at every turn, with simplified man-made environments. This belief continues to appeal to humans, especially those who have come to enjoy having the Earth’s bounty stripped, rendered and served to them on silver platters, and it perpetuates the unmitigated, destruction of nature to serve the whims of some privileged humans.

privilege-350x220

In the process of expressing their perceived superiority, these privileged, civilized people, with their superiority complex, their brutal violence and their insatiable appetites, manufactured an environmental crisis of unparalleled gravity, and dumped it in our laps. Their activity has dramatically reduced the overall carrying capacity of planet Earth for all creatures, and led to an explosion in human population. However, carrying capacity and limiting factors still apply to humans, just as they did to the countless species driven to extinction by the relentless, expropriation of all natural resources for the benefit of some humans. Apparently, Dr. Anders believes it “far too late” to challenge this elitist attitude, regardless of the scientific evidence refuting it.

elitist BW

It’s easy to “have nothing but compassion for individual people who are now suffering because humans had exceeded their carrying capacity, globally.”, if one remains unwilling to challenge the system responsible for this disaster. As long as this system goes unchallenged, more and more people can expect to share that “nothing”, and that “compassion”, for what it is worth, gets spread thinner as well. Personally, I have nothing but contempt for people who have enough education to understand how the system works, yet remain unwilling to challenge it.

Contempt1

Every homeless person understands the concept of limiting factors on a visceral level. Not only do they understand natural limiting factors, they understand artificial, man-made, limiting factors, and they didn’t need a Pell Grant to afford the tuition to learn it. It’s only the privileged class, a small minority, globally, for whom limiting factors have become an alien and repugnant concept, and it was for them that the Earth’s bounty, as well as countless millions of human lives, have already been sacrificed. It is for these privileged few, that our future has been mortgaged, and Dr. Anders suggests, it is for these privileged few that the last remaining natural resources, be more carefully managed.

evict an idea

When Dr. Anders states, “The only thing I can do is crusade for family planning and choose my decision-makers by their willingness to admit that limiting factors for humans exist…”, I’m reminded that the system of empowering privileged “decision-makers”, always backed by soldiers and lawmen with guns, even when guided by the scientific knowledge of college professors, has failed us spectacularly, completely, and irreparably. In addition to our current environmental crisis, privileged people, and their “decision-makers”, gave us genocide, slavery, poverty, and the horrors of technological warfare, among other gems. They also gave us marijuana prohibition, which artificially drives both agricultural and population expansion, locally.

democracy-looks-like…

Not only does our current political and economic system guarantee “the grimmest of futures” for even the privileged, or at least their progeny, this system has already dealt the grimmest of pasts to Native Americans, African slaves, and many millions of others, not to mention most of the non-human creatures with whom we once shared this marvelous blue marble. Today, all you have to do is look around, to see entirely too many people facing a very grim present.

homeless-vote

This crisis won’t be solved by electing the right people, or by enacting thoughtful policy at the national, state and local level. That’s what got us into this mess. As dire as our ecological crisis surely is, we should see it as a symptom of a cultural crisis, a cultural crisis with immeasurable consequences for every living thing on Planet Earth.

culture-in-crisis-banner


A Different 1%

 

A Different 1%

save-the-one-percent-

NPR recently reported on a scientific paper that predicted 1% of girls who live in the area effected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and were one year old at the time of the meltdown, would get cancer from the radiation exposure resulting from the incident. The report concluded that cancers resulting from the Fukushima nuclear disaster would not raise Japan’s cancer rate very much at all, since about half, or 50% of all Japanese people get cancer at some point in their lives already.

fukushimas irradiated children

My brain almost exploded when I heard that report. First, I can scarcely imagine what kind of statistical gymnastics it took for them to jump to that conclusion, especially considering that the disaster continues unabated. I mean, the reactors continue to melt, producing heat, steam and huge quantities of deadly radioactive material, that is by no means contained. This material continues to contaminate soil and groundwater in the area, and few believe that anyone can prevent the heavily contaminated groundwater from flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Clearly, the best is yet to come.

JAPAN-DISASTER-NUCLEAR-POLITICS

Second: Half of all Japanese people can expect to get cancer in their lifetime! That shocked me. Cancer was relatively rare before the Industrial Revolution, which is why they call cancer a “disease of civilization”. Doctors identified the first causes of cancers in the 18th Century, which appeared as rare tumors on the scrota of chimney-sweeps with poor hygiene. 300 years of carcinogenic industrial pollutants later, so many people get cancer that even an ongoing nuclear catastrophe will hardly make a dent in the national cancer rate.

japan radiation

Isn’t that reassuring. Really, why worry about Fukushima? Your dryer sheets will kill you before it does. Your nail polish, oven cleaner, deodorant, air freshener, the smell of your new car, carpet, paint, and furniture will help. Vehicle emissions, industrial incinerators, coal fired power plants, chemical plants and plastics factories provide free carcinogens for people who can’t afford to buy products that contain them. The body burden of pesticides, flame retardants, rocket propellants and a couple hundred other chemicals we inherited from our parents, gave them all a head start. How could one nuclear disaster hope to compete with a full-court press like that.

Dryer-Sheets-toxic

Finally, even assuming this dubious estimate turns out to be accurate, what kind of metric is the estimated number of additional cancers in one year old girls from Fukushima, for measuring the magnitude of the Fukushima disaster? What about two year old girls? What about five year old girls? What about boys? What about adults? What about kids who haven’t been born yet?

pregnant japanese women

How many of those one year old girls will suffer miscarriages, or have children with birth defects because of radiation from Fukushima? What about 15 year old girls, or 25 year old women? How many miscarriages and birth defects have already resulted from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. How many of those babies will develop cancer later in life?

japanese birth manequin

How does 1% sound for a wild ass guess for any and all of the above questions. I’ll bet that’s as accurate of a guess as the study I heard quoted. Does that sound like an acceptable cost? 1% sounds like almost nothing, doesn’t it? That’s probably why they chose that number for their prediction. One bullet, one hundred people, Russian Roulette anyone? This still doesn’t get to the heart of the issue, because Fukushima is the gift that keeps on giving.

gift that keeps on giving

What happens the next time an earthquake triggers a tsunami in the area, and it stirs up all of the radioactive mud just off the coast of the plant, that will probably never be cleaned up, and dumps it all over the countryside? It’s bound to happen, in 50, 100, or 500 yrs or so, and all of that plutonium will be just as fresh and deadly as it is today. What happens in 10,000 yrs when no one there speaks Japanese anymore, or has any idea why this lovely oceanfront real-estate has remained undeveloped? What happens in 10,000,000 yrs, when bipedal felines plant the whole area in catnip? I’ll hazard a guess that 1% of bipedal felines exposed to contaminated catnip develop feline leukemia, using the same math as the researchers quoted on NPR.

bipedal feline1

…And for what? A few fleeting megawatts of electricity, mostly wasted on garish signage, excessive lighting, electronic toilets and Japanese game shows. Unlike the electricity generated at the Fukushima nuclear power station, the Fukushima nuclear disaster will not go away. The deadly impacts of Fukushima will even outlast the fortunes of Tepco’s shareholders, who profited from the massive public investment in, inherently dangerous, uncompetitively expensive, nuclear power.

japanese game show

The lasting radioactive legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will remain a threat, and an impediment to life on Earth until the sun goes super-nova and burns the Earth to a cinder. Radioactivity from Fukushima, and the contaminated area around it, like Chernobyl, not to mention every other nuclear power plant, laboratory, or weapons facility ever built, will continue to take lives, cause sickness and make life harder on Planet Earth until the end of time.

end-of-time

Life on Planet Earth is hard enough, thank you very much, and we really don’t need the additional burden.

burden rock


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