Category Archives: food

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

kmud-logo


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


Pacific Fishers, Owls, and Telepathic Gorillas

Pacific-Fisher horz

This week, two radio programs that I co-produce with my beloved partner Amy Gustin, will air on our beloved community radio station KMUD. First, at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 27, KMUD will air the latest episode of Wildlife Matters. I just put the finishing touches on it this morning. Wildlife Matters #3 will focus on the Pacific Fisher (Martes pennanti) an elusive, formidable, and unbelievably cute forest carnivore.

fisher in tree

Mourad Gabriel, fisher expert, and Executive Director of the Integral Ecology Research Center generously invited us into his home, and allowed Amy to interview him at length.

Mourad_fisher_UCDW-716x1024

He told us everything we needed to know about fishers, and the crisis they face due to extensive use of rat poison by marijuana growers, hiding-out in the fisher’s deep-forest habitat. We spent more than an hour seated around the dining room of his family’s home, while his wife, Greta Wengert, also a Ph.D biologist, attended to their infant child in another room, to give us some quiet time for the interview.

greta wengert

The show came out great! We had more good material than we could fit in one half-hour show, so in next month’s show we will talk more about the problems associated with rat poison. Last Friday, we recorded a presentation by Maggie Rufo, representing two groups: The Hungry Owl Project,

hungry owl project

and RATS (Raptors Are The Solution).

raptors are the solution

Maggie Ruffo came to Arcata to address the Redwood Region Audubon Society, about the impacts of rat poison on owls, hawks, and other raptors, and to advocate for the use of owl boxes, wooden boxes constructed to owl-nest specifications, to attract owls, as part of an integrated pest control program.

owl box

In other words, encourage owls to move in, and they can help solve your rodent problem. Then you don’t need to spend money on rat poison.

owl eating rat

She gave an excellent talk, and as a bonus, the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center brought some of their ambassador birds, so we got to mingle and chit-chat with a live: red-tailed hawk, a great horned owl, and a western screech owl. It was a noisy room, but I think we have enough good material that we can use a little from column A and a little from column B to make another good show about the effects of rat poison on entire ecosystems, and we’ll look at the campaign to ban the sale of dangerous rodenticides in California.

poison eco consequences

The other show of ours to air this week, really deserves it’s own blog post.  Teaser:  It involves an interview with Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael.


Daniel Quinn Talks To Us About His New Book, The Teachings That Came Before and After Ishmael

danielquinn

On Sunday November 30, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, at 9:30 am on KMUD Redwood Community Radio, you can hear my lovely partner, Amy Gustin interview the world-renowned, author and thinker, Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael, My Ishmael, The Story of B, Beyond Civilization and many other books.

cover ishmael-horz-vert

Daniel Quinn has a new book, titled: The Teachings That Came Before and After Ishmael.

cover the teachings

Quinn realized that, while many people have read Ishmael, most people have missed the material he covers in his other books. In The Teachings… Quinn condenses the ideas from all of his other writing into one book, the perfect companion to his central work: Ishmael.

ishmael cover open

If you haven’t read Ishmael yet, you absolutely must read this book. Every responsible adult who can read, owes it to themselves, and to the future of Planet Earth, to read Ishmael. Some people look at the title, and get a load of the zealous people telling them to read it, and think that Ishmael must be some kind of weird religious mumbo-jumbo that brain-washes readers into joining a cult.

ishmael tattoo

True, you’ll find some biblical stuff in there, like a pretty good explanation for the story of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, and after you read it, you may want to join a cult, but there is nothing religious about Ishmael, and it contains absolutely no mumbo-jumbo. Ishmael is a good book to help you understand exactly what went wrong.

ishmael teacher seeks student

If you want to know what caused the environmental crisis, read Ishmael. If you want to understand overpopulation, read Ishmael. If you want to know why you spend so much time at work, and why it sucks so much, read Ishmael. Ishmael can help you understand where you stand. If you understand where you stand, you can figure out what to do. So, before you do anything else, read Ishmael.

read ishmael

…And pick up Quinn’s newest book, The Teachings That Came Before and After Ishmael to go with it. The Teachings… contains condensed versions of The Story of B and My Ishmael, as well as excerpts from Tales of Adam, Beyond Civilization, The Book of the Damned, Providence, The Invisibility of Success, and If They Give You Lined Paper Write Sideways. Even if you can’t read, you can listen to Daniel Quinn himself explain his work to you so you can see for yourself why so many people feel so strongly about a short novel about a talking gorilla.

ishmael gorilla

Please tune in on Sunday November 30 at 9:30 am Pacific Time for a very special episode of The Living Earth Connection featuring a new interview with visionary author, Daniel Quinn recorded just this week…I can’t tell you the details of it because the interview hasn’t happened yet, but we expect to talk to him tomorrow. You can hear the show on the radio, if you live within the KMUD listening area, or you can stream the show live, or at anytime thereafter on the KMUD archive at www.kmud.org

kmud logo

You can also stream or download both Living Earth Connection #12 featuring Daniel Quinn talking about his new book as well as Wildlife Matters #3 featuring Mourad Gabriel on fisher ecology and rat poison at Amy Gustin’s blog The Living Earth Connection.

living earth connection


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