Category Archives: food

Make the Connection

the connection

By now you should realize that the 5th Sunday of the month means you should turn your radio on first thing in the morning for a stimulating, thought-provoking, in-depth discussion of the issues that define our times. If you are not already hip to The Living Earth Connection, and you have an IQ just slightly higher than the average garden slug, you owe it to yourself to listen to one of the most interesting hours of radio programming you are likely to hear anywhere at any time.

living earth connection

The Living Earth Connection airs on the fifth Sunday of the month, in those occasional months that have five Sundays, at 9:30 AM on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio. That’s THIS Sunday, March 29 at 9:30 AM Pacific Time. My partner, Amy Gustin, hosts the show. She does an enormous amount of research for her show. She usually reads 20 to 25 books in preparation for each show, and this one is no exception.

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For this upcoming edition of The Living Earth Connection, Amy examines the dynamic relationship between agricultural development and biodiversity. In 2014, the Living Planet Report cited a 52% decline in global biodiversity since 1970. In a discussion that encompasses biology, ecology, and island bio-geography, Amy reveals that the key to our collapsing ecosystems lies in the habitat requirements of certain “keystone species.”

keystone species sea otters

These “keystone species” tend to be relatively small populations of relatively large carnivores. Although few in number, as individuals, these “keystone species” require an enormous “home range,” and much of the biodiversity in their ecosystem depends, in one way or another, on their presence. Developing land for agriculture punches holes in the habitat that these animals need to survive. When development crowds out the “keystone species,” most of the natural biodiversity in the area disappears as well.

keystone species biomass

This is a show about natural science. I know you all like science when you get to watch them put a nuclear powered car on Mars, or when you think it means we understand how the universe works.

biodiversity cities

Are you still interested in science when it tells you that agricultural development is causing mass extinction on a global scale?

biodiversity basics

Does biodiversity matter?

biodiversity loss

Why?

Biodiversity laid off

That’s the topic. Please tune in.

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Star Trek Predicted, Mr. Spock Inspired

StarTrekCast

We all mourn the passing of actor, photographer, and singer, Leonard Nimoy. But let’s face it. Were it not for a single role he played, on a short lived TV show from the ’60s, most of us wouldn’t give a rats ass about Leonard Nimoy.

leonard nimoy piano

Mr. Spock, however, the eminently logical, half-alien, science officer of the Starship Enterprise became a role model for a whole generation of emotionally distant men, and Star Trek’s vision of a bright, high-tech future captured our imagination and defined our aspirations as a culture.

spock live long and prosper

Star trek provided us with a vision of the future that we could look forward to. We had solved all of our Earthly problems, managed to have friendly, cooperative relations with thousands of other civilized high-tech cultures from far-flung galaxies. We had plenty of resources, and the technology, to send 5,000 young people into deep space on a giant spacecraft capable of traveling several times the speed of light, just to see what kind of trouble they could get into.

star trek USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701)

Star Trek showed us that we could go anywhere in the galaxy, at any time of year, and we didn’t even need to bring a sweater.

star trek landing party

Star Trek taught us that the universe was full of intelligent alien species who were, inexplicably, sexually compatible with humans, and spoke English, and Star Trek demonstrated how hairspray had become ubiquitous throughout the cosmos.

star trek alien women-tile

It’s an attractive fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless. Today, in honor of the, by all accounts, warm, loving, and emotionally secure Leonard Nimoy, who, through his timeless portrayal of Mr. Spock, inspired so many naïve young men to become lonely sociopaths, we look back at Star Trek to see just how well it predicted the future. For instance:

spock generation of sociopaths

Star Trek correctly predicted that we would have wireless communication devices that fit in the palm of our hands. They had these devices in Star Trek, yet somehow, they did not play with them all day.

star trek kirk communicator

Star Trek correctly predicted that we would talk to our computers. However, on Star Trek, the computer understands what they say, and responds. We mostly just curse at our machines when they crash.

spocks computer

Star Trek correctly predicted that we would all wear ugly polyester uniforms.

star trek shore-leave

Star Trek could not have predicted how we look in them.

fat person in polyester

Star Trek correctly predicted that we’d always be at work. You never see anyone wearing civies on the Enterprise. They’re always in uniform, and they’re always on duty. Get used to it America.

overworked employee

Star Trek correctly predicted that, women would have to wear mini skirts to work, and take orders from an asshole like William Shatner, if they want to earn a living. Who would have imagined?

star trek kirk uhura

Star Trek correctly predicted that doctors would have better things to do than see patients. Look, doctors are the only people who can afford to do what they want in this society. If you could afford to do whatever you wanted to do, would you choose to preside over an endless parade of sick people complaining about their illnesses. Fuck no! You’d be like, “Gimme a phaser, Jim, and let’s go check out the local action.”

star trek spock mccoy guns

Star Trek correctly predicted that everyone would be single. I believe that Mr. Spock’s parents were the only married couple ever depicted on the show. Other than that, everyone in the show was single. Today, for the first time ever, more American adults are single, than in a committed relationship, yet oddly….

star trek spocks parents

Star Trek correctly predicted that no one would have sex. In Star Trek, it’s like everyone is so impressed with their own intelligence and sense of purpose that they’ve lost all connection with their genitalia. Maybe “getting fixed” is a prerequisite for admission to Starfleet Acadamy, but a crewman on the USS Enterprise is at least 20 times more likely to be killed by hostile aliens than get laid. I’m afraid that’s true of most of my friends as well.

Star-Trek crew

Star Trek correctly predicted that in the future no one would cook. On Star Trek you never see a kitchen. Instead, they take a lump of inedible inorganic material, put it on a plate, and place it inside of a high-tech box for a few seconds.

star trek food synthesizer

Miraculously it comes out looking something like food. Yes, Star Trek predicted Hot Pockets.

star trek hot pockets

As you can plainly see, a lot of things that looked cool on Star Trek, kinda suck in real life. If you think about it, a cheesy sci-fi TV show is a pretty stupid thing to build a cultural mythology around, but its a pretty stupid culture, or as Mr. Spock would say, “Highly illogical.”

spock highly illogical


Wildlife Matters #5 Debuts Today, Thursday, Feb 26 @5pm PST

Sea otters

Today, Thursday, February 26 at 5pm, KMUD Redwood Community Radio will air the latest installment of Wildlife Matters.  On this month’s show Amy Gustin and I will talk about Sea Otters, and the crucial role they play in maintaining healthy coastal ecosystems.

sea otter hurray

We’ll hear from sea otter biologist Dr. Jane Watson

dr jane watson

…and noted ecologist Dr. James Estes.

dr james estes

They talk about sea otters’ peculiar adaptations which allow them to flourish in the chilly waters of the North Pacific.  they’ll teach us about “trophic cascades,” a fancy word to describe the consequences of eating habits on ecosystems, which explains how sea otters can turn a barren sea floor inhabited by nothing but sea urchins, into a lush kelp forest teeming with biodiversity.

sea otter eats urchins

Wildlife Matters airs on the fourth Thursday of the month on KMUD, and is available to all Pacifica Affiliates through audioport.org.  In the future, wildlife Matters will alternate the fourth Thursday at 5pm time-slot with my other new radio show called The Adventurous Ear.

ear to bell

Next month, The Adventurous Ear, a radio show highlighting music of exceptional originality, will bring you the music of Arcata based improvisational ensemble Medicine Baul.  I hope you’ll tune in today at 5pm for Wildlife Matters, and March 26 at 5pm for some wild music on The Adventurous Ear.  Just remember the fourth Thursday at 5pm as the time for something wild on KMUD Redwood Community Radio, or listen online at http://www.kmud.org

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What Can We Learn From 2001 A Space Odyssey in 2015

2001 aso

I recently revisited the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. You remember how it goes: We see a desolate landscape, almost Martian. Some early hominids, actors dressed in Planet of the Apes era costumes, huddle in a dark cave. They look stupid. They grunt like apes, and walk on their knuckles They freak-out at the sight of a monolith in their camp. Then we see one particularly dumb looking hominid pick up a bone. He drops it. Then picks it up again and hits the rest of the skeleton with it. You can almost see the light bulb appear above his head, and he starts excitedly whacking the rock with the bone.

2001 bone whack

Then, the Hollywood hominid throws the bone, and it turns into a space ship, while we hear the opening fanfare from Richard Straus’ Thus Spake Zarathustra. Classic, right? Iconic even. This famous scene has become a part of our cultural mythology, and it tells us a lot about how we think about ourselves.

bone-and-satellite-

I realize that this movie came out in the 1960s and, like almost everything from that era, feels dated when you watch it, but for our culture, this movie encapsulates where we think we came from, and where we think we are going, as a culture. Leave out the mysterious floating slab, and you have the creation myth according to the Church of Popular Science. Sure, it’s a great movie, but we should remember that 2001 A Space Odyssey is also a very dated piece of fiction.

2001-a-space-odyssey-poster-001

Think about it. The world looked very different in the 1960s. Back then, we all thought that space travel lay in our future. We expected to build floating cities in space orbiting the Earth We had plans to colonize the moon, and eventually mars. We had big plans for space, and we spent big money to get there. If you asked a kid from my generation what they wanted to be when they grow up, at least a third of them would have said, “an astronaut.” If you ask the same question of today’s kids, they’ll probably say something like, “professional snowboarder.” Even they know that there’s no future in space travel.

20o1no-more-spaceshuttle

Arthur C Clarke envisioned a future year 2001 in which space travel had become routine, and computers were huge and dangerously intelligent. Today, in the real year 2015, space travel is nothing but a quick roller-coaster ride for the ridiculously rich, and computers are tiny and maddeningly stupid. Clarke could not have been more wrong about the future, and Kubrick’s depiction of our hominid ancestors in 2001 A Space Odyssey couldn’t have been more wrong about the past.

couldnt be more wrong

Our hominid ancestors were not clumsy or stupid. They knew what they were doing. They would not have survived otherwise. Our Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal ancestors were probably smarted than us. We know they had bigger brains. They may have been better conversationalists and had more charming personalities than our contemporaries. We know they had music. Archaeologists have found bone flutes among their remains.

neanderthal flute

They must have walked the surface of the Earth with the easy grace of a lion, or a leopard, or any other top predator. They had keen hunting skills, could read their surroundings, and each other. They knew which plants were good to eat, which were good for medicine, and how to encourage their growth. They laughed and told jokes. They sang and danced. They fell in love, had bitter disputes, and fought, but when they fought, they didn’t fight like the idiots in Kubrick’s film. They had weapons, and they knew how to use them, but they also had strategies to avoid conflict, and to minimize its impact.

neanderthal man

Really, when you think about your hominid ancestors, don’t think about “cave men.” Forget all of those stereotypes. They have no basis in fact. Those ideas come from a cultural mythology that tells us that civilized human beings are more advanced than our “primitive” ancestors. Because of that cultural myth, we always imagine those ancestors to be like us, only dumber. Probably more people now believe the story of the dumb neanderthal, than take the story of Adam and Eve literally, but they’re both wrong. Whether you believe the fundamentalist Christian lie or the fundamentalist Church of Popular Science lie, you’re still wrong.

still wrong

In the middle-ages, Christian people found fossilized ammonites They decided that these fossils must be the devil’s discarded toenails, and sited them as evidence of hell.

ammonite fossil

Modern scientists discovered that our ancestors lived in small groups, and had very few material possessions, and because of their cultural prejudices, leaped to the conclusion that our ancestors must have lacked the intelligence to improve their miserable condition.

dumb cavemen

The evidence tells us they ate well, had nice clothes (real fur is real nice) and didn’t have to work very hard to get by. We assume they didn’t work harder because they didn’t burn with curiosity like us, their more advanced descendants. So, even though they ate well, dressed well, and enjoyed a lot of leisure time, we believe that their primitive brains prevented them from unlocking life’s riddles and finding new ways to work themselves to death in ugly synthetic clothes while getting fat on junk food.

fat guy snacking at work

In the 1960s, when 2001 A Space Odyssey first came out, the future still looked cool, and the prehistoric past looked harsh and brutish. Today, 50 years later, the future looks harsh and brutish, and the lives of our prehistoric ancestors look pretty cool. In other words, watching 2001 A Space Odyssey in 2015 should remind us that it is time to update our cultural mythology.

the astronaut


Daddy, Where Did Alcoholism Come From?

dad-drinks baby serves

Have you ever wondered about that yourself? I mean, we all know someone, if it hasn’t happened to us personally. How many of us have struggled with alcoholism, or even more commonly, just learned to live with it? A lot of our parents drank, and if not our parents, our grandparents, uncles, aunts, family friends etc. We learned more about alcoholism from watching our family than we did about sex, and most of what we learned about alcoholism mirrored what we learned about sex. That is: kids don’t understand the appeal of it, and shouldn’t do it, but adults seem unable to resist its temptations, and it frequently ruins their lives.

Dad-whats-it-like-to-be-drunk

History tells us that, here in the US, the further back you go, the more we drank. In the 1850s, Americans consumed, on average, more than a pint of whiskey every day for every man, woman and child, in the US, including newborns. Did newborn babies drink whiskey in the 1850s? I don’t know, but everyone else sure did. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

ben Franklin_quote

Of course, alcoholism goes back much further than that. The Romans drank. The Greeks drank. Jesus turned water into wine. Only an alcoholic would see that as a miracle. I don’t know if Moses drank, but he hung with Pharaoh, and Pharaoh definitely drank beer. I don’t think Adam and Eve drank, but I’ll bet that Cain and Able both did.

Cain-abel

Think about that. Alcoholism was already well established, common, and endemic to society, well before the earliest written language, and even before the oldest stories recorded in them. For all of that time, alcoholism has remained a fixture in society, and society has dealt with the consequences of alcoholism. Our society does not remember a time before alcoholism, or where alcoholism came from. We know when temperance movements began, and who founded them, but who was the first drunk? Nobody knows. Why don’t we have a story about how or why or when we started drinking so much?

your drunk go home

Our society does not remember a time before alcoholism for the same reason that I don’t remember a time before mom. We don’t remember our origins. We have to put our origin story together from what we can glean second hand, and we may learn that the story our mother tells, may not be the whole story. For instance, here’s one of those persistent questions regarding the origin of our culture, that mom really doesn’t have a good explanation for: Why did some people stop living a hunting and gathering lifestyle, and instead, devoted their time and energy to burning the forests that provided them with wild game, so that they could farm, however inefficiently, barley and wheat.

eaRLY FARMERs

I’ve read a few books on the topic, and they usually offer a few theories, with no definitive answer. They may suggest that people living in the Levant 10,000 years ago decided they needed more food to feed a growing population, but evidence shows that the population only grew after the adoption of an agricultural lifestyle. They may postulate that farming was a technological breakthrough that allowed more leisure time, even though the evidence shows that hunting and gathering cultures enjoy far more leisure time than do their farming counterparts. Some books even suggest that farming provided more nutrition than a hunting and gathering lifestyle, making early agriculturalists stronger than their neighbors. Again, the evidence points in another direction. Human skeletons show that early agriculturalists were on average six inches shorter than their hunting and gathering neighbors, and showed many signs of malnutrition completely absent in their hunting and gathering contemporaries.

body blow for modern humans

So, we don’t know why some humans quit the hunting and gathering lifestyle and started farming, but we assume they had a good reason, because it led to the birth of civilization, and eventually, us. We assume this was a good thing, because it culminates in us, but we should consider the possibility that the switch from a hunting and gathering lifestyle to an agricultural one, may not have been such a great choice, and alcohol may have been involved.

alcohol involved

Clearly alcoholism and agriculture began at about the same time, in roughly the same place, and their histories have been intimately intertwined ever since. Doesn’t it make sense that the two things could be related? You know, the major expansion in the production of barley and wheat, the primary ingredients of beer, might have had something to do with this persistent, pathological thirst for alcohol, that has caused so much suffering for so many people for so many generations that we eventually recognized it as a debilitating disease and called it alcoholism.

day drinking

What else do you think they did with all of that grain? The invention of bread was still centuries away, and bread began as a kind of beer-making kit in loaf form. Do you think people would burn down a productive forest and toil in the hot sun scratching the bare earth with a rock tied to a stick for tabbouleh? Hell no! Now ask yourself, “Would men do that for beer?” You know they would, and all of the evidence supports the claim that they did. Civilization is our mother, but alcoholism is our father.

DRINKING FOR THREE

Let that sink in. In school they teach us that the “agricultural revolution” gave birth to civilization like it was a good thing. They never mention the booze, do they? How do you suppose they could have overlooked that? Damn near every shard of ancient pottery archaeologists unearth shows evidence that it once held beer. These people drank, and they drank habitually. They loved beer. They couldn’t get enough of it, and they sacrificed a lot to satisfy that craving.

99 problems

We’ve all seen what alcoholism can do to a person, and we’ve seen how far people have to go before they hit rock bottom and admit that they have a problem. We’ve all seen how alcoholism destroys families and ruins lives. Now imagine an entire culture based entirely on the endless pathological thirst for alcohol. Surprise! You don’t have to imagine it. Just look around and appreciate it.

alcohol_culture

Look at the toll chronic alcoholism has taken on planet Earth. A third of the Earth’s land mass has been converted to agriculture, not to feed people, but to make booze. The people come along later. Drunk people make poor family planning choices, which leads to overpopulation. Overpopulation leads to a plethora of other problems, which encourages ingenuity. However, ingenuity only mitigates problems, and never solves them because no amount of ingenuity can undo the fundamental imbalance caused by the pathological craving for alcohol.

alcohol kills born

We sure are proud of our ingenuity though. Aren’t we? We think farming was an ingenious innovation over hunting and gathering, and we’ve just been amazingly ingenious ever since. We think that we are smarter, more advanced and have evolved to a higher form of intelligence, because we’ve shown such amazing problem solving skills. We’ve gotten good at solving problems because we’re even better at creating them.

government SOLUTIONS

If you ask most people why they think civilized human beings dominate the planet, they will tell you it is because of our high intelligence and advanced technology. They won’t say, “Because alcohol makes us feel good, and we don’t care about anything but feeling good and we will do anything to anybody who stands between us and feeling good.” but that’s where our ingenuity comes from.

Ginspiration!

Today, through sheer ingenuity and hard work, we’ve engineered an environmental crisis for the ages, and a society of unimaginable cruelty and inequality. Ingenuity and hard work are strategies we employ as a culture, to compensate for the negative effects of our cultural alcoholism. Basically, you can think of all of the time you spend at work, and the time you spend trying to come up with a new business idea, as part of the price you personally pay to participate in an alcoholic culture. I know this sounds weird, but you knew our society was sick, didn’t you? Doesn’t the diagnosis help? Alcoholism is a disease we understand. We can beat alcoholism. We can beat alcoholism, but first we have to admit that we have a problem.

drinking-cat-

I realize that I’ve covered this material here before, but it bears repeating, and is worth considering from a variety of perspectives. It’s a big idea, so I don’t mind slicing it a little finer.

big ideas


An Unexpected Debut

UnexpectedArrival

Today, Thursday, Jan. 22 at 5pm KMUD, Redwood Community Radio will debut a brand new radio show that I produced.  The show is airing today because the hard disc crash that took my computer out of commission, also took out the newest episode of Wildlife Matters, the program scheduled for that time, that my partner Amy Gustin and I produce together.  Wildlife Matters will be back next month, on the fourth Thursday in February at 5:00pm.

wildlife matters

Instead, KMUD will air the first episode of The Adventurous Ear, a show that highlights music of exceptional originality, and profiles the artists who create it.  This debut episode features the music of Willoughby, performing The Sex Life of Mushrooms live at Siren’s Song Tavern in Eureka.

magicmushrooms

The Sex Life of Mushrooms is a musical, mycological excursion into the private lives of our fungal friends.  Willoughby uses many homemade and circuit-bent instruments to create his music, which he records onto cassettes with a 4-track tape recorder.  He then mixes these tracks live, while speaking into a specially wired reishi mushroom.

reishi

Willoughby’s performance blew me away the night I heard him perform, and The Sex Life of Mushrooms is exactly the kind of outside-the-box originality I hope to bring to KMUD’s listeners with this new series.  I had hoped to hype this show a bit more before it aired, but I hope you will tune in today, Jan. 22 at 5:00pm on KMUD.

kmud-logo

If you live outside of the KMUD listening area, or just want to hear the show right now, here’s a link to an mp3 vesion of the show:

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/1vjasa1k04witl9/Adventurous_Ear_1_Willoughby.mp3


Some Unfinished Business From 2014

unfinished business

Last year got so hectic towards the end, that I haven’t gotten around to cleaning house here at LYGSBT until now. This week, I’m clearing out all of the images I’ve collected throughout 2014, in the course of creating for you, the finest possible blogging experience.

blog post with no images

From time to time, I find images that I really like, but don’t quite fit blog the post I’m illustrating at the time. By the end of the year, that folder contains a lot of such pictures, and before I back that folder up and delete it from my hard drive, I share them with you, as an excuse for taking a week off of writing. Here goes:

HereGoesSomethingLet’s start with this one:

why denmarkOK sure, people in Denmark are happy, but you’d think they could find shoes that match.

wrong turnDo you think people in Denmark are happier than this charming, obviously American, couple?

wrong wayIf you plan to fly to Denmark, bring a pillow…

utopolis-cinemas-reality-sucks…but flying has its hazards.

DWRECK_WIW_FRANK151.pngSo, you might as well hang around awhile.

end the violenceSorry, I guess that last image was a bit intense.  I didn’t mean to shock you.

safe bikeI guess you can’t be too careful, and it helps to read the signs, or you might find yourself up…

shit creekwithout a paddle…

no…but it could be worse.  You might find yourself here:

weiner cutoffor here:

Dysfunction-Junction-If so, I hope you know where you’re going.

confused..and that you eventually join us here:

hippy traffic jam1

just look out for:

tripping hippie warningbecause he’s probably on:

lsd

But maybe you just want to get away from it all, and go somewhere more secluded:

private sign

I saw some amazing Halloween costumes this year:

penis vagina costume

tampon  nunchucks

diaper man

mermaid girl

taco cat

…and a few costumes intended for other holidays:

bloody easter bunny I guess the Easter Bunny has been busy.

fuckem easter..and here’s a modern take on a Christmas favorite:

santaatvspeaking on Christmas, we should always remember the “reason for the season”

franken xmasSo, join us in celebrating.

for lease navidad

Of course, if you are on drugs, every day is a holiday.

dali quote

why dog…but where are the drugs?

vaginas arewell break ‘em out!

new-paris-hilton-barbie-dollnow we’re partying!!

panda cat bong

smoking dog

Yes, drugs can be fun, but be careful, or you might start to see some really weird shit. Like this:

picture unrelatedor this:

milk is a natural

or this:

cannibalism-shrink wrapped

or this:

cats have coffee

Take it from me…

ive seen some weird shit

Well… That’s it for 2014.

thanks i guessDid you like it?

free shrugsOh well.   I’ll be back with another post next week.

sametimenextweek


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