Category Archives: wildlife

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


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


Work, Wealth and The Good Life; Living Earth Connection #8

 

Work, Wealth and The Good Life

us-wealth

Please tune in to The Living Earth Connection, hosted by Amy Gustin, today, Sunday Dec. 29th at 9:30AM on KMUD. The Living Earth Connection is unlike any radio show you’ll hear anywhere. The Living Earth Connection looks beyond politics, philosophy and religion to examine the culture which is foundational to them all, and from which they all spring. The Living Earth Connection airs on the fifth Sunday of the month, and only in months that have five Sundays, in the “Spiritual Perspectives”, Sunday 9:30-10:30AM time-slot on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio, Garberville, CA, and online both streaming and archived at www.kmud.org.

kmud-radio-logo

In this episode of The Living Earth Connection, Amy Gustin examines how we think about “work”, “wealth” and “the good life”. How we think about work, wealth and “the good life” effects how we live in the world, and how we live in the world determines the contents of our lives and our footprint on the planet. These ideas are foundational to our culture, but in fact, most of us work way too hard, far too few of us enjoy the benefits of the “wealth”we create, and sum total of all of our work is killing the planet. The show looks at why this is, and how it can be different.

Workers clean up oil spilled by the refr

Work, Wealth and The Good Life is the eighth episode of The Living Earth Connection. You can download or listen to Work, Wealth and The Good Life, as well as all of the previous episodes of The living Earth Connection at The Living Earth Connection blog.livingearth back cover


Science, the New Religion

 

As an introduction to part two of this Thanksgiving Science Spectacular, ask yourself “Do I trust science, or do I believe in science.?” If you are not quite sure you understand the question, please read on. Even if you are sure that you understand the question, take a few minutes to see if you can digest this turkey of an essay.

 

turkey science

 

Science, the New Religion

 

religion-science

 

I love science; I really do. I never cared much for literature, but I have always loved science. I think we can learn a lot from science, and I think we could learn a lot more from science, were resources in this world allocated differently, but no matter how much we learn from science, we completely fail to learn our lesson.

 

lessons learned

 

The lesson we never seem to learn is: What we are doing is not working. Things are getting worse, not better. We’re failing as a culture, and the consequences of our failure are enormous and life-threatening.

 

Consequences

 

Every year the evidence of this fact grows. We’re wrecking the planet. Our way of life, how we conduct ourselves as human beings, is totally out of sync with the carrying capacity of planet Earth. At this point, the evidence could hardly be more stark.

 

quote-henry-james-sumner-maine-

 

We know there’s hardly any fish left in the sea. You’ve heard the old expression, “There’s plenty of other fish in the sea.” well it ain’t true no more. With the human population topping 7 billion, there’s plenty of other potential mates, if you are a human being. That’s true enough, but for fish, not so much. Science set us straight on that.

 

overfishing 2050

 

Scientists also pointed out the dead zones in the ocean, where algal blooms fueled by agricultural runoff, suck all the oxygen out of the water, so nothing else can survive there. Scientists explained why an island of plastic trash bigger than Texas formed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Scientists found PCBs in the blood of wild arctic polar bears, and told us about the mercury concentrations in fish. Scientists created, and then warned us about, persistent organic pollutants like dioxin, benzene and the whole brave new world of unpronounceable organochlorines like DDT. Scientists have informed us about the ongoing and accelerating acidification of the world’s oceans, and even told us what’s driving it, which seems to be, in fact, global warming.

 

ocean-acidification

 

And how about that global warming. Those scientists had to work overtime to convince us of that, didn’t they, but they finally did. We can now say with confidence that human activity is warming the planet, and changing the makeup of the Earth’s atmosphere in ways likely to negatively effect the health and well-being of damn near every human being on the planet, let alone the wildlife.

 

global_warming_infographic

 

Don’t I wish they would let the wildlife alone, but they don’t. Scientists tell us that the human population continues to explode like bacteria, displacing habitat and driving countless species of plant and animal into extinction. Countless, because scientists don’t even have time to discover and name a lot of these species before they get wiped off of the face of the earth forever, in our never ending quest to replace lush, incomprehensibly complex natural ecosystems with simplified, impoverished, dysfunctional, man-made environments that only function to serve an expanding human population, and poorly at that.

 

dysfunctional man made environment

 

And scientists have informed us that the expanding human population leaves in it’s wake, an ungodly, I mean holy fucking shit you cannot even imagine how much, amount of waste. Toxic waste, bio-accumulative waste, non-biodegradable waste, radioactive waste, carcinogenic waste, mutagenic waste, medical waste, human waste, solid waste, airborne waste, water soluble waste, take your pick. We’ve got it all, and we’re making more every day. In a billion years of life on Earth, there was never a thing called waste, until about 10,000 years ago, when our culture was born. Waste is our invention, and it takes a lot of science to produce the tremendous variety and abundance of waste that we discard each year.

 

trash dump

 

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see it, and in fact, rocket scientists often don’t see it, because they are so damn busy building rockets, but the science is pretty fucking convincing for anyone who wants to look at it. We’re making a terrific mess of things here on planet Earth. Another thing that the science is pretty clear about, is that that we could have never made such a terrific mess of things without the help of an awful lot of scientists.

 

Mars Mission ISRO

 

To be fair, it wasn’t so much science that wrecked the world, there’s nothing wrong with learning about the world. It was that bastard technology. Science is a beautiful woman; technology is her pimp. Technology uses science to turn tricks. That is, technology is always looking for ways to use science to manipulate and exploit the world, for the purpose of making money, winning wars, or both. Yes, science is a whore, and so are most scientists. They work for whoever pays them the most money, and they do what the customer wants. What the customer wants, generally, is to extract more money from the Earth and it’s inhabitants. There’s nothing noble, beautiful or altruistic about that.

 

science whore

 

So, even though we have plenty of scientists telling us that we’re making an enormous mess of things, we have a thousand times more scientists focused on finding new ways to fuck things up even worse. Scientists dreamed-up nuclear power and convinced us it was safe. They did the same thing for deep water oil drilling. Scientists figured out how to get oil and natural gas out of shale, and gave us fracking. Scientists are turning life on Earth into patentable intellectual property by playing Russian roulette with a gene gun, and other scientists are working on new strategies to sell you this stuff, even though it’s killing you. Scientists are doing all kinds of crazy shit, and most of it is not helping the situation one bit, and they are all getting paid to do it.

 

scientist_getting paid

 

Still, we are so infatuated with this beautiful woman we call science, that we hardly notice that she’s robbing us blind, lying to us and stealing our future. Even when science tells us the truth: that we are rapidly replacing our global life support system with poison, we don’t say, “Oh my god, look at what we’ve done.” Instead we say, “Wow, that looks like a serious problem, we had better get some more scientists working to solve it.” That’s what I mean when I say “We fail to learn our lesson from science.”

 

regret1

 

We don’t trust science, or take what it tells us about the world seriously, so we don’t learn anything from science. Instead, we think that no matter how bad things get, science will save us. We don’t believe science, we believe in science, which is a very different thing. Belief in science is not a rational conclusion based in fact, it is a religious belief founded in faith.

 

science-religion

 

Very little evidence supports the idea that science solves problems, but we have plenty of evidence that science has created bigger problems than we know how to deal with. Still, we speak of science with reverence. Science has become our religion. Even people who know nothing about science, believe in science, and think it’s going to save us.

 

science savior

 

Ever since science convinced us that our other religions were just a collection of quaint stories and superstitions, we’ve treated science as our savior. That’s why we throw so much money at science. We don’t want to know more about the world we live in, we want scientists to save us.

 

science saves the day

 

Well there’s your science fix for today. Remember, the truth will set you free, but religion, even the Church of Science, is the opiate of the masses. Happy Thanksgiving!

marx quote

 


Gentrification at the SoHum Community Park

Gentrification at the SoHum Community Park

thanks gentrification

I got a lot of feedback on my most recent letter to the editor regarding the Southern Humboldt Community Park, almost all of it positive, so I decided to “double-dip” on the SoHum Community Park issue this week.

double-dip

I found it especially gratifying that Dennis Huber mentioned my letter on his KMUD radio show, Monday Morning Magazine. I’ve got nothing against Dennis. In fact, I like him, or at least I want to like him, and I enjoy listening to his radio show. I mean, I’ve never met him, and I’m not sure I would recognize him if I saw him, but he does put together a good show, and he obviously puts a lot of work into it.

kmud

I think Monday Morning Magazine is one of the best shows on KMUD, and it provides us with a good example of what community radio should be. I don’t always agree with Dennis, but I know he means well, and that he undertakes his work for the Community Park with the same spirit of generosity and civic duty as he does his radio show. I just think that in this case, his generosity is misplaced.

misplacedgenerosity

On the other hand, my motivations for writing a letter to the editor in defense of wild blackberries at the park are entirely selfish. I love wild blackberries, and I especially love the blackberry patch that is targeted for replacement with AstroTurf ball fields. Those blackberries are especially delicious. They ripen later in the season than other local blackberries, providing an abundant source of sweet fruit well into September. Convenient parking, easy access and a nearby port-a-potty also contribute to making that blackberry patch an especially attractive community asset, and one that I personally utilize quite a bit.

community asset mapping

My self-interest aside, I think the community park board’s alleged concern for the well being of this community’s young people is disingenuous. I think they are using young people as a cover for their plans, just like they used local craft artists as a cover for their plans to move Summer Arts and Music Festival to the park. Moving Summer Arts and Music Festival to the community park won’t help local craft artists at all. It might help the Mateel turn the only decent craft show in SoHum, into a music and marijuana festival subsidized by local craft artists, like they’ve been doing ever since the Reggae Wars, but it won’t help craft artists one bit. The park board would have known this, had they bothered to ask any local craft artists about it.

summer arts and music festival 2012

As I pointed out in my letter, Wilhelm Reich would argue, and I agree, not having a baseball field and not playing Little-League baseball would actually be a blessing to SoHum’s young people. Reich pointed out, I think correctly, that the serious global problems we face, like fascism, technological warfare, slavery, oppression and the environmental crisis, are symptoms of a sick culture, not a flaw in human nature, and that those problems can only be solved by changing our culture, not by the development of new technology, or the expenditure of capital.

create culture change

Thus far, we have completely failed, as a culture, to address the underlying causes of the environmental crisis. If your generation couldn’t stop the conversion of the natural world into garbage, pollution and disease, and instead only accelerated it, what makes you think your kids will be able to solve those problems, especially if you saddle them with the same suicidal culture that you were born into?

culture jam

I know that here in SoHum, we like to pretend that we’re not part of the dominant culture. We think that because we smoke marijuana instead of drinking martinis, and watch John Stewart instead of Bill O’Reilly, we’re part of an “alternative culture”, but those are just two sides of the same coin, minted from the same bankrupt currency. Just because competitive team sports play a big role in the culture that wrecked the natural world, that doesn’t mean that competitive team sports have any role in a culture capable of saving the natural world.

two sides ots coin

When it comes right down to it, all we really have to offer kids is a bad example and a degraded, overpopulated planet. Considering the enormous challenges we have foisted upon the younger generation, not having a baseball field is the least of their problems.

crisis_-what-crisis_

No, people don’t build ball fields to help children. Instead, parents remember ball fields from their childhood, and build them for themselves. Then they teach their kids to play baseball, buy them bats, balls, gloves and uniforms, and drive their kids to Little League, whether they want to go or not, because it makes them feel like superior parents, and gives them the opportunity to live vicariously through their children. Really, in a world dominated by the effects of Global Climate Change, the last thing we need is another excuse for rural parents to drive their kids around.

moms taxi

Besides being culturally regressive, ball fields at the community park would be bad for the environment, bad for kids, and bad for blackberry enthusiasts like me, but who would benefit from developing the park in this way? Obviously, this project would put money in the pockets of contractors, manufacturers of AstroTurf, retailers of sporting goods and uniforms, and big oil companies who will happily sell rural parents even more planet destroying fossil fuels to drive their doomed offspring all over creation. Besides that, plenty of people around here think like big oil companies, and expect to profit from this project in the long run.

greedy_pig

These people don’t care that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. They don’t give a fuck about building a sustainable culture from the ground up, and they don’t care about your kid’s future either. All they care about is money, and getting as much of it out of the land around here as they can. Those are the people who expect to reap the most profits from developing the community park.

southern humboldt community park

Real-estate agents, developers and bankers have plenty of reasons to encourage destructive, unsustainable development in SoHum. Investors and businessmen, like the ones who have denuded our hillsides, diverted our creeks and killed off our wildlife with pesticides for their mega-grows also have plenty of reasons to support expensive, man-made, middle-class amenities at the community park, and all of those reasons contain a dollar sign and a decimal point.

dollar-sign

There’s a name for the kind of development going on at the community park, and it happens all over America. They call it gentrification. Gentrification doesn’t build community, it undermines community. Gentrification doesn’t make a place a better place to live, gentrification makes it a more expensive place to live. Gentrification doesn’t help young people, it makes the place too expensive for young people to afford, and gentrification doesn’t attract artists or cultural creatives, it drives them out. To replace them, gentrification attracts vapid, greedy, status-conscious yuppies who haven’t had an original thought in their entire lives.

gentrification

That’s what the Southern Humboldt Community Park is all about: driving poor people and young people, as well as the last of the artists and cultural creatives, out of the community, and replacing them with stupid, bloodsucking yuppies who will consume what’s left of our natural beauty, leaving nothing but garbage, pollution and ugliness in their wake. Yes, the Southern Humboldt Community Park Board seeks to uproot the thorny, unmanageable, self-reliant, generous and sweet individuals who currently thrive here, and replace them with a phony, toxic, and expensive imitation of suburban middle-class affluence in order to help the richest and greediest among us acquire more money.

gentrification cat


Word Power; Insessorial

wordpower

Word Power;

Building your Vocabulary One Word at a Time

Insessorial

perching

insessorial (in seh ‘sore ee ehl) adj perching, or adapted for perching

crow_02q1

OK, we have a word, a nice adjective that they probably use often in the field of ornithology. I think you might find it useful in other circumstances as well. I don’t think I’ve ever come across it in context before, but when I stumbled across it in my dictionary I thought it noteworthy.

noteworthy

When I looked “insessorial” up online, however, I found this definition which gives us a little more information about the ornithological origins of this word, and provides us with a curious example of the word’s use in literature.

insessorial-definition short

What the fuck was Guy Davenport trying to say in 1974? I mean, I understand that Bruno is not lactating in order to provide nourishment for his coffee. I get the first half of this sentence. Bruno is standing by the fire slowly sipping his coffee, but what the fuck is going on in the last half of that sentence. Unless Bruno has a bantam rooster stuffed in his trousers, the last half of that sentence makes no sense.

man with two cocks

I assume that by “cock” Guy Davenport means “penis”. Then you get to “snub and insessorial” which according to my dictionary must mean “short and perched like a bird”.

bird perched on fist

A penis does not perch like a bird. A penis can dangle, waggle, protrude, penetrate or flop, but it does not perch like a bird.

penis

And where is Bruno’s penis allegedly perched? “…in the codpiece of his curt briefs” Briefs don’t have a “codpiece”. Suits of armor have codpieces. Trousers from the 15th and 16th century had codpieces, but not briefs in 1974. Briefs have a “hammock” or “pouch”, but not a “codpiece”, and they’re “briefs” for god’s sake, no need to tell us they are “curt”, or “short”. Have you ever seen long briefs?

briefs

So Bruno is standing around the fire, sipping coffee in his underwear. Guy Davenport, on the other hand has surrounded Bruno’s dick with flowery, nonsensical language, even though it, and in this case “it” can refer to either the penis or the language, is doing nothing.

Much-Ado-About-Nothing

All of this points to one thing. Someone, perhaps you, needs to find a better use for the word insessorial in writing. dictionary of hard words


It’s All About the Beer

It’s All About the Beer

1larg.beer.quiz

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I am not a big fan of civilization. I don’t think civilization is an advancement, culturally, evolutionarily or technologically. Far from it. I have asserted that civilization has thus far been a 10,000 year wrong turn, and the biggest mistake in the million odd year history of humanity.

civilization is a tragedy

I believe we made that wrong turn, that dreadful detour to which we can trace all of the major crises that threaten our future, like overpopulation, global climate change, habitat loss, mass extinction, overfishing, etc. etc. to a historic period, roughly 10,000 years ago, known as “the agricultural revolution”, a period in which humans began a major shift away from a hunter/gatherer nomadic lifestyle, and towards a farming lifestyle in which people were much more tied to a single piece of land.

ethiopia farmer

I asserted, in the piece titled Hello, My Name is Civilization, and I’m an Alcoholic (worth reading), that the so called “agricultural revolution”, as well as our entire cultural heritage since then, from written language, to the Old and New Testament, to science and mathematics, has been one disastrous 10,000 year drunken bender that resulted from the invention of beer.

notdead

If you thought I was pulling your leg, watch this documentary:

OK, now, the documentary claims that “Beer saved the World”, but while it ignores that disastrous consequences of civilization, like overpopulation, the environmental crisis etc. they point to plenty of evidence that proves my point.

evidence

At the end, you notice that as they look to the future, they discuss the challenges of taking beer into space. They don’t talk about how beer is going to solve global warming, slow down the exponential growth in human population or address the progressive desertification of planet Earth. No, instead they warn us that if we want to escape the hell-hole that our planet has become, we will have to learn to drink flat beer.

flat beer

“Saving The World”, according to this documentary, means drinking flat beer in space. I think that counts as one of those futures where the living envy the dead.

TheLivingWillEnvyTheDead

You be the judge. Do you think, as human beings, we made better decisions before the invention of beer, or afterward?

beer decisions


Take Your Kids to the Beach

Take Your Kids to the Beach

kids to beach

In recent weeks, beach-goers from Santa Barbara to San Diego have discovered over 1,000 dead and dying sea lion pups on the beach. Apparently undernourished from birth, these pups did not put on enough blubber from mother’s milk, and once weaned, failed to find enough to eat on their own.

California sea lion

Without an adequate layer of blubber, sea lions cannot maintain the body temperature that a warm blooded mammal needs to survive in the cold water, so they come up on the beach to sun themselves, and warm up. Unfortunately they don’t find anything to eat on the beach either, and eventually they expire from starvation.

sea lion strandings-2817.jpg.0x545_q100_crop-scale

Wildlife rescuers in Southern CA have been overwhelmed with calls about these poor pups, but there’s little they can do. No one has the facilities to care for hundreds of starving sea lion pups. Everyone equipped to handle sea lions, has their hands full right now. Sometimes they relocate the pups to more secluded beaches, in hopes that they will find more food. Sometimes they euthanize the animals.

sea lion pups

Last year, persistent readers will recall, I wrote about starving pelicans here on the Northern CA coast. Pelicans and sea lions both eat fish, or at least they would, if they could find them. These deaths are not the result of some exotic new disease spreading through the ecosystem. These deaths indicate a precipitous drop in the ocean’s fecundity. It’s a very bad sign. I don’t want to call it a “wake-up call”, because so many so called “wake-up calls” have gone unheeded, so I’ll simply call it another ghastly, heartbreaking consequence of deliberate human indifference to the natural world.

stranding rate

At least people see them. People should have to see this kind of thing. Take your kids to the beach. Show them a dying sea lion pup, starving to death on the sand. Explain to them that because we’ve replaced most of the phytoplankton in the ocean with pulverized plastic from soda bottles, shrink wrap, plastic bags, toys, medical equipment, electronic gadgets, car parts etc etc, the ocean can’t provide enough oxygen or food to support as much life as it did fifty years ago, or even ten years ago.

Rescued Sea Lion Pups At Sea World San Diego

Remember that famous scene in The Graduate, where the older businessman whispers to Dustin Hoffman one word of advice for his future? “Plastics”, he says. Around the same time Andy Warhol predicted “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”. With the ubiquity of plastic today, it’s hard to remember a time when soda came in returnable, not recyclable, glass bottles, when they made car bumpers out of chrome plated steel instead of easily shattered plastic, and when electronic devices had metal or wood cabinets, and lasted for decades.

the-graduate----plastics

Fifty years later, an island the size of Texas, newly recognized by the United Nations as “Garbage Island”, composed almost entirely of plastic, has formed in the Pacific Ocean. Today, plastic has its own homeland, and it grows every day. Every day, tons of plastic debris finds its way into the Pacific Ocean to make the pilgrimage to Garbage Island. Over the course of decades, endless churning, salt water and sunlight slowly pulverize it into microscopic bits.

garbagepile

These microscopic bits of inorganic, non-biodegradable plastic absorb sunlight, preventing it from penetrating the ocean’s depths and choke off phytoplankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain, and the source of most of the world’s atmospheric oxygen. In less than half a century, about half of all the phytoplankton in the Pacific Ocean has been replaced by these microscopic bits of plastic.

floating plastic garbage

Oddly, considering how long plastic lasts, plastic has become the foundation of our disposable economy. Almost nothing lasts longer than plastic, and almost nothing can digest it. Yet, we produce billions of one-time-use products from it, every year. When burned, plastic produces deadly bio-accumulative carcinogenic poison, in landfills it lasts almost forever, and in the ocean, it gets ground into fine floating particles that choke out life.

algalita

No, it’s not a wake-up call. It’s too late for that. Go to the beach. Look those pups in the eye as they die of starvation, and explain to your children what has happened in your lifetime. Tell your kids that fifty years ago, they would have seen thousands of healthy sea lions, as well as seals and otters, and that there was plenty of fish for all of them to eat. Tell them that for every bird they see, there were once twenty or forty, but that they all died so that you could live a high-consumption, middle-class fantasy, and now, even that fantasy is dying.

gut_plastic_ocean_girl_project_hawaii


Growing Marijuana is A Labor of Love in Humboldt County

Growing Marijuana is A Labor of Love in Humboldt County

labor of love

Well Spring is almost here, which means that all over Humboldt County, marijuana farmers are incredibly busy preparing to grow even more marijuana than they did last year. Even as you read this piece, most of them are hard at work building new greenhouses, clearing more forest land, putting in new water tanks and digging gigantic holes all over the countryside.digging_hole

This process involves hundreds of thousands of man-hours of backbreaking labor and requires millions of dollars in capital investment.

 money-tree-

This capital comes almost entirely from the sale of last year’s record setting marijuana harvest. Since most of last year’s marijuana harvest has not sold yet, this investment cuts deeply into the grower’s disposable income. Few feel the pinch however, as they will have little time or energy to do anything else for a few months, but prepare for this year’s grow.

 tired kid

Why do they do it? So they don’t have to get a job, of course. Who wants to work for a living when you can grow marijuana, right? You’d think, but you’d be wrong. In Humboldt County, growing marijuana is a labor of love, crazy love.

 crazy love

Soon thousands of tractor trailers full of potting soil will clog our roads as they make their way into the hills to fill the millions of holes these growers have so diligently dug.

truck clogging dirt road

Every year, Humboldt County’s garden supply stores comb the nation for another sparsely populated and poorly guarded county that they can steal. They then dig up the entire county in the dead of night, pack it into bags labeled “Potting Soil” and smuggle it back to Humboldt County where they quickly sell it off on a strictly cash basis to Humboldt County marijuana farmers.

 sacks of soil

Somewhere in Wyoming, or perhaps North Dakota, one morning soon, the citizens of this unfortunate county will step off their front porch on their way to work, only to fall several feet, smack into the bedrock below. They will look up to see their home delicately balanced on jacks and cinder blocks, and realize that their entire lawn, and the soil which once supported the foundation of their homes, has been stolen overnight while they slept.

 truckload of soil

For them, it will already be too late. Their county has already been sold, distributed, and secreted away behind locked gates, where it will remain, protected by a constitutionally guaranteed right of privacy. Besides, few of them could positively identify the soil from under their own homes, especially now that it has been thoroughly sifted and blended with a myriad of exotic amendments.

 organic soil amendments

If you visit any of Humboldt County’s garden supply stores, you will find an amazing array of colorfully packaged, and even more colorfully named, fertilizers and soil amendments ranging from liquified fish guts from Alaska’s salmon canneries to ancient fossilized bat guano from caves deep within the jungles of Peru. Most Humboldt County garden shops also offer their own brands of fertilizers that they make on site, mostly from composted US currency.

 composted currency

Many of these fertilizers and soil amendments feature cheeky pin-up girls on the labels. This feature, along with the fact that these products sell for more per pound than fresh organic strawberries in January, indicate that these products are intended for use on marijuana plants. Only female marijuana plants produce marijuana, and marijuana growers often refer to their plants as “their ladies”.

 Wet-Betty-Organic-500x500

You’ll often hear marijuana farmers say things like: “My ladies are lookin’ fine.” or “I take care of my ladies, and my ladies take care of me.” or “I need to to get home and hoe my ladies.” This makes them sound more like pimps than farmers, and greatly contributes to the general classiness of Humboldt County.

 pimp1

Can you imagine other kinds of farmers talking this way about their crops? Picture a dairy farmer saying “My ladies give me the sweetest cream.” or a broccoli farmer saying “This heat is gonna make my ladies bolt.” or a cabbage farmer saying “My ladies are full of horn-worms.” Creepy, huh?

 pimp tractor

All of this talk about their “ladies” belies the fact that most marijuana farmers are single and live alone. Growing marijuana in a remote, sparsely populated rural area like Humboldt County is a very lonely and isolating profession that tends to attract social misfits and people with self-alienating personalities.

 social misfit warning

The more lonely and isolated the marijuana farmer becomes, the more they tend to talk to, get naked around, and masturbate in front of, their “ladies”, often while looking at the pictures on boxes of fertilizer. This kind of “intimacy” with “their ladies”, coupled with an otherwise isolated existence builds a special kind of relationship between the cultivator and the cultivated that most other farmers, or sane people would not understand.

mykol blackwell green checco

Original Artwork by Mykol Blackwell

Soon, the marijuana farmer no longer grows marijuana to make money, and instead, makes money to grow marijuana. For these people, nothing is too good for “their ladies”, and they cannot have enough of them. They work harder, and spend more money to pamper “their ladies” than any sane farmer. This is the real reason why Humboldt County marijuana growers produce the best marijuana in the world, and more of it than any place else on Earth.

 local_pot_GALLERY

Over the years, because of their extreme devotion and isolation, many Humboldt County marijuana growers have gone totally bat-shit crazy, and fallen in love with “their ladies” in this way. This is why they work so hard, and spend so much money on, “their ladies”.  Every year, more of them go “over the edge”, and every year this “crazy love” impacts our forest habitat more intensely.

 large humboldt grow

large grows destroy forest

Personally, I enjoy smoking marijuana, and strongly believe it should be legalized, so that sane farmers, with tractors, and flat land to till, can grow it economically.

farmer on tractor

I also know that marijuana provides relief for millions of sick people who should have unfettered access to it, at the lowest price possible, but I also care about this community.

i care

That’s why I feel that something must be done to stop Humboldt County’s marijuana farmers before it’s too late. It has become clear to me, that nothing short of intervention, can save these poor souls, and our natural environment from this serious mental disorder.

gone crazy


Hello, My Name is Civilization, and I’m an Alcoholic

Hello, My Name is Civilization, and I’m an Alcoholic

 aa meeting bad start

OK, I’m going to squeeze an enormous idea into a short, not too boring essay. Try to hang with me on this. Civilization began with something called “the agricultural revolution”. That is, a fundamental shift from a hunting and gathering lifestyle, to a farming lifestyle. This farming lifestyle led to permanent settlements, which then grew into cities, and eventually, into the civilization we know today. The question is: Why did they do it?

 Why

To start, lets take a very long look at human history. According to fossil evidence, people just like us, have inhabited this planet for well over one million years. One million years ago, all humans lived in Africa, and all humans lived very much like the San Bushmen of the Calihari Desert live today.

 gudigwa-bushmen-hunting

The San are a “hunting and gathering” culture. They plant no crops. They tend no livestock. Instead, they hunt wild game and gather wild plants for food. They have no written language, but have a very rich oral tradition. Even though the San have been pushed into some of the most inhospitable land on the African continent, they only work about four hours a day to meet their daily needs. They rarely go hungry, and enjoy better nutrition and more food security than do the farming people who now surround them.

 ethiopia farmer

The San enjoy a lot of leisure time, which they spend telling stories, making music, dancing and playing games, among other things. They have a rich culture, and that culture contains over one million years of accumulated knowledge about how to live on planet Earth. That knowledge allows them to flourish in the middle of a desert, while the farming people around them, who have forcibly taken all of the good land, work long hours, suffer from poor nutrition, and often starve.

 hunger_ethiopia

But one million years ago, there were no farming people. All humans lived a hunting and gathering lifestyle, not unlike the San. Over the course of the last one million years, hunting and gathering humans spread out over Asia and Europe, and eventually even Australia and the Americas. This spread of humanity happened at a glacial pace, but by about 40,000 years ago, damn near every place on Earth that would support human life, was, albeit sparsely, inhabited by humans. This slow spread of hunter-gatherer culture gave rise to the vast diversity of sustainable human cultures around the world, from the Inuit to the Yanomami.

 yanomami tribe

40,000 years ago, humans lived all over the world, quite happily, as hunters and gatherers. I’m not saying that they didn’t have problems, or that they didn’t fight. They had problems, and they fought, but they didn’t destroy the planet. They didn’t overpopulate the planet. They didn’t overheat the planet, and they didn’t work 40-50 hours a week just to get by.

 overworked__1

So, the question is: Why, among the thousands of indigenous cultures around the world, did just one particular culture in the Middle-East, reject the collective knowledge of a million years of culture, and begin farming?

 hunters why

Farming is a lot of work, and not much fun. Compared to hunting and picking berries, plowing a field with a rock tied to a stick must have seemed quite tedious. Why did they do it?

 why farm half

If you’ve got plenty of food, which fossil records tell us they did, why would you plant wheat and barley? Even more perplexing: Why would they sacrifice the habitat of the game animals and wild plants that had sustained them for eons, to clear fields for wheat and barley?

 wheat-and-barley

That is what happened, by the way. One particular culture in the Middle-East took up farming, even though they had plenty of food, and then proceeded to farm so aggressively and so passionately, that they completely destroyed their own habitat. They wiped out all of the game animals and wild plants that they had relied on since the beginning of time. What was their motivation? What madness possessed them? What did they get out of wheat and barley that was worth destroying the world for?

 ur arial shot

The answer of course is BEER. Think about it awhile. Many indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes drink fermented alcoholic beverages on occasion, usually following an abundant fruit harvest, but the founders of civilization, sought to make drunkenness a daily, rather than an annual event.

beermaking

Addiction is a very powerful motivator.

aa_addiction

Yes, all of civilization is a dysfunctional adjustment made to support an alcoholic lifestyle. Don’t you think its time that we faced the fact that we have a problem?

alcoholism


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