Category Archives: wildlife

A Springy Bass and the Humboldt Horn

big horn

People seemed to like the Harp Project last week, so I thought I’d lay a couple of my other new homemade instruments on you.

homemade creations

I built this electric bass from a hunk of 2×4 I extracted from a shipping pallet, and the cast-aluminum housing from a long-dead car-stereo amplifier.

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This bass uses vibrating springs, salvaged from expandable curtain rods, instead of strings, and additional sympathetic springs, concealed within the body, increase the instrument’s resonance.  More springs attached to the outside of the body increase the instruments sonic potential.

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This bass has two piezoelectric pickups, one designed to pick up vibrations from the long springs stretched over the neck of the instrument, and a second that allows the body of the instrument to be played like a drum. A single potentiometer allows the player to balance between the two.

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It’s really a very crude device. I had a lot of trouble getting decent sound to video, and I’m just beginning to explore what this instrument can do, but compared to, say a washtub bass, I think this instrument has a lot of musical potential.

I feel strongly about working with salvaged junk. I hate to see the natural world sacrificed to produce disposable consumer crap, but one distinguishing characteristic of our time is this abundance of exotic materials that would have been unbelievably rare, or completely non-existent only 100 years ago.

junk

We live in an age rich in garbage. All of the earth’s natural beauty, and life-sustaining abundance, has been ravaged, transformed, consumed, abandoned, and discarded. There it is, our stolen future, on the curb, in the rain, free for a generation of dumpster-divers.

dumpster-dive

Here in Humboldt County, this black poly-pipe waterline grows wild in the woods. I find it everywhere, along with chicken-wire, buckets, flower pots, tarps, water tanks, soil bags and worse.

pot grow garbage 1

These woods are strewn with the detritus of thirty years of guerrilla growing, including enough abandoned poly-pipe waterline to reach a grow on Mars. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Prohibition may soon end, but the miles of black poly-pipe in our forests will last forever.

black poly pipe

“Let it sing.” I say.

singer

I made the Humboldt Horn out of waterline and a flowerpot.

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I cut the mouthpiece off of a cracked and discarded vuvuzela I found while cleaning up a property in Ettersburg. I reinforced it with a bit of electrical tape, and adapted it to fit the horn.  vuvuzela

I can vary the range of the instrument by substituting longer or shorter lengths of waterline. The flowerpot acts as a resonance chamber, and has an omnidirectional microphone mounted inside.

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Because the flowerpot is turned upside down and rests on the ground, the instrument is very quiet, but the microphone inside the flowerpot provides a strong signal to drive amplifiers, effects and/or recording equipment. While not particularly attractive, I find the Humboldt horn both expressive and versatile as a musical instrument. Give it a listen.


A Species in Adolescence

adolescence

In separate interactions with two different liberal lawyers, recently, I heard the same phrase uttered as an excuse for human caused environmental devastation. It sounded all too familiar. It’s a deceptively simple phrase, but it conceals one of the fundamental myths of this new science-based religion called “Secular Humanism.” Both of these gentlemen expressed this phrase as a personal belief. “I just think that we are a species in the midst of adolescence.” or “I believe that we are a species in adolescence,” was more or less how they put it. That’s a strange thing to believe.

strange beliefs

Secular humanists have adopted this strange belief in the adolescence of the human species because of their strange belief in science. Believing in science is pretty weird too, if you ask me. Not that anyone did, but still, it’s one thing to learn about the world using the scientific method, and it’s something else altogether to “believe in” science.

believe in science

Secular humanists think that our objective, scientific understanding of the universe is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They see the emergence of science as a guiding light that will see us through this difficult phase of our evolution, our adolescence, if you will. We must be doing something right, they reason, if we can put a nuclear powered car on Mars, calculate the moment of the Big Bang to the millisecond and find the goddamn Higgs boson, and they assume there is a point to it all. They see the scientific viewpoint as superior. Our best hope for survival, as a species, they will tell you, is more science and technology. That’s what I mean when I say that Secular Humanists “believe in science.”

believe in science nacho

Unfortunately, the facts on the ground tell us that most of today’s really pressing crises originated with some new scientific development, and the technology it inspired. For instance we face Global Warming because of certain developments in chemistry, a few mechanical inventions, and a hell of a lot of marketing. The knowledge that science gives us, has led to horrific disasters and environmental devastation around the globe. From the spectre of nuclear warfare to global climate change, to overpopulation, every new scientific discovery leads to new technology, which creates a new crisis.

crisis_-what-crisis_

We tell ourselves that all of this destruction is part of our “education” as a species. We tell ourselves that we are a good species, and we are on the right track, but we just need a little more time to reach our maturity. If we think about human beings as an “adolescent species” does that also mean that we should also think of the genocide of the American Indians as a college “panty raid,” slavery as a sort of fraternity hazing, and the whole environmental crisis as just a nasty hangover from doing too many Jagger-bombs at that kegger last night? Perhaps we should just say: “boys will be boys.” about these dark chapters in in our history, because these were just the youthful indiscretions of an adolescent species, and someday, we’ll grow out of it, get a job, and settle down.

boys will be boys prank

Of course, if we actually applied what we know about science to this new myth, we’d realize that adolescence happens to individuals, not species. Individuals reach a stage where they no longer need the direct care and supervision of their parents, but have very little experience to draw from in their encounters in the real world. Adolescence never happens to a whole species at once. Every species is fully mature at the moment it evolves into existence. There are no “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” in nature.

not ready for prime time

Species evolve in response to the pressures and limitations placed on them by their environment. If the species survives, it is only because it’s particular adaptations are suited to the challenges of the environment they face at that moment. Species don’t evolve with adaptations suited to some future world, or with adaptations that take a few millennium to refine. The idea of a species in adolescence has no basis in science at all.

creationists

Every generation of every species comes with a fully mature set of time-tested adaptations that prepare it for survival within the limits set by its environment. That’s why you will never hear a biologist say, of an invasive species, for instance: “Well, Zebra mussels are an adolescent species. They want to get out and see the world, but we think that eventually they will return to their home range and settle down as the species matures.”

zebra mussels

…or of an endangered species: “We think that the declining numbers of Northern spotted owls in Northern California forests is the result of the owls engaging in risky behavior. We think the owls are ‘acting out’ in reaction to losing so much of their habitat to logging. Spotted owls are an adolescent species, and we think this is just a temporary phase. We just need to give the owls some space, and let nature take its course.” Nor will you find any such nonsense in biology textbooks.

teenage owl

Why then, do you suppose, has this idea of an adolescent species, homo adolescence, if you will, has become such a widespread belief among Secular Humanists, who, because of their high regard for science, should know better?

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It might be because Secular Humanists, like most people, prefer literary metaphor to real science. It might be because most Secular Humanists just haven’t examined that aspect of their belief system very closely, or it could be because Secular Humanists simply cannot face the fact that we are not looking at the youthful indiscretion of a species nearing maturity, but instead, we are witnessing the collapse of a suicidal culture, that is taking science, democracy, all of our beloved technology, and everything that makes us feel superior to the rest of nature, with it. The real answer, of course, is “all of the above.”

all of the above wtf

In truth, we’re a great species! We’re a mature, time tested species, that has achieved global distribution. There’s nothing wrong with us as a species. As a species, we’ve developed thousands of cultures, suited to life in the place they originated. We just happened to be born into one particularly destructive culture, that has already destroyed an alarming amount of the world’s biologic, as well as human, cultural diversity. There’s nothing wrong with us as people, but the way we live, the way we think, and the way we see ourselves in relationship to the rest of nature couldn’t be more wrong. If we hope to survive, as a species, our culture has got to change.

culture change game changer2


Two SoHums

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The bluffs between Redway and Garberville have been closed for a few weeks now. This two mile stretch of road hugs a sheer cliff of crumbly sandstone which descends precipitously into the churning waters of the Eel River below. With this narrow pass closed to all traffic save kayaks and canoes, these two tiny towns, Redway, and Garberville, which once orbited each other like binary stars, now face separation and isolation.

bluffs closed REDWOOD DRIVE

More than just a major inconvenience for everyone in Southern Humboldt, this severed link may forever mark a division point in SoHum culture. Evolutionary biology and island bio-geography can tell us a lot about what happens to populations and cultures who become isolated from each other. They tell us that subtle differences within connected populations, can lead to marked differences between closely related, but isolated populations.

galapagos finches

Today, the subtle cultural differences between Eastern Southern Humboldt, including Garberville, and everything that drains into it down the Alder Point Rd, and Western Southern Humboldt, including Redway, and whatever hasn’t already fallen into the ocean West of it, seem small. For instance, people from Eastern Southern Humboldt are more likely to push a junk car over a steep cliff, whereas people in Western Southern Humboldt generally set fire to junk cars along the roadside. Over time, however, and in isolation, these minute differences often evolve into distinguishing characteristics. Unless the bluffs are repaired soon, the difference between East and West SoHum may become as stark as the difference between North and South Korea.

North-KOrea-Vs-South-Korea minerals

Today, the differences are subtle, but noticeable. In Garberville, for example, when someone sees someone else passed out on the sidewalk, they call the Sheriff. They say: “There’s someone passed out cold on the sidewalk in Garberville. Isn’t that illegal? Can you come down here and arrest them?”

cop with drunk

Whereas is Redway, if someone comes across the same scene, an unconscious person in the sidewalk, they would call an ambulance and say something like: “Hey man, there’s, like, somebody laying here unconscious on the sidewalk. I just thought that this kinda seems like one of those health-things that you guys help out with.”

ambulance

Over time, these subtle differences may become magnified. In the future, Garberville may get 35% of the electricity it uses from the alcoholics it incinerates, while everyone in Redway will get CPR certified, but hope they never have to use it because they were pretty high when they took the course.

smoke pot

Another subtle difference between G,ville and R,town has to do with self image. Garberville is a much more image conscious town than Redway. I think there are about five guys in Garberville, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses who wear a sport-coat and tie. Karen Miclette and her crew at Karen Miclette Insurance always dress professionally, as do the people at the banks and credit unions. When you add them all up, that’s a whole bunch of people in uncomfortable shoes and stiff scratchy collars, wondering why the rest of us can’t make more of an effort to look presentable when we’re in town.

dress-for-success

Besides the people who “dress for success” around town, there are quite a few people who have an idea about what Garberville, and specifically, people in Garberville should look like, and they put a lot of effort into keeping up appearances.

keeping up appearances

Redway, by contrast, just makes itself comfortable. The polyester uniforms worn by the employees at the Shell station might be the most formal attire you’ll see on your visit to Redway, where most people can’t even keep their ass-crack covered.

ass crack

In the future, Garberville might have hidden cameras all over town, and big screen monitors on the back-side of street signs. When you pass one of them, you will see the least flattering picture they took of you with a caption like, “Do you see what you’d look like on TV?” or “What would your mother say if she saw you dressed like that?”

looking bad in town on tv

Eventually, bouncers will come and escort you to the the edge of town. Meanwhile, Redway will look like a clothing optional retirement community with lots and lots of dogs.

let the dogs out

These are just a few of the ways that long-term closure of the bluffs between Redway and Garberville could negatively effect our unique SoHum culture. We need each other, East and West, to survive, and thrive as one whole community. Redwood Drive must be repaired, now, before it is too late.

redwood drive bluffs loader


This Spring, Just Leave The Dirt Alone for a Change

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Here’s a novel idea for my neighbors in Humboldt County this Spring: It is OK to just leave the dirt on the ground. You don’t need to dig it up. You don’t need to plant anything in it. Something will grow there. You don’t have to worry about what it is. Just leave the fucking dirt alone for a change.

hands off our field

You don’t have to water it. You don’t have to fence it. You don’t have to feed it a special blend of organic nutrients. Just leave it alone. Too much gardening has a dulling effect on the mind. That’s why farmers are so fucking boring. Do something different this year. Cultivate an interesting personality. Cultivate an unusual hobby, like whelk racing, amateur rhinoplasty or squirrel-suit diving,

squirrel suit

or better yet, cultivate an original idea for a change. When was the last time you had one of those? Well here’s one for you: The dirt on the ground is just fine as it is. Leave it alone.

freud quote alone

Don’t get me wrong. I like gardens, if they’re small. I mean real small.

small garden

I have a three foot by four foot cactus garden that I love dearly. I might give it as much as 50 gallons of water in an entire year. It takes up about a half-hour of my time, maybe once a month, but that’s plenty. It never seems like a burden. I get all the benefits of nurturing living plants, and I get to enjoy some exotic greenery around my home. What more can you ask of a garden? Really, there’s more to life than gardening.

theres more to life than eating garbage

Besides, there’s no shortage of greenery around my home. Like most of us here in Humboldt County, I’m surrounded by green. I’m 50ft deep in green. Green I got, and all of it producing food. I get pelted with acorns every Fall, I’ve got more huckleberry bushes than I’ve got time to pick, not to mention madrone berries, manzanita berries and wild raspberries to name a few. Everywhere I look, it’s all green, and it’s all producing food. Why would I want to cut that down, dig it up and replace it with Lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and hours and hours of backbreaking work in the hot sun?

tired of working in the garden

Contrary to popular belief. Gardens are not attractive. I’ve never seen a garden that looked better than anyplace that has been left alone for twenty years. I find vegetable gardens especially ugly. They look like desolate wastelands all winter, and then all Summer they look like a rag-tag army of plants, all lined up in straight rows, and as the season wears on, they start taking casualties, as they get eaten, either by the people who planted them, or by nature’s guerrilla army of insects, rodents, lagomorphs and ungulates in their relentless battle to reclaim the stolen territory. By the end of the season, everything is dead, and the field is full of corpses. Every vegetable garden is just another battle in a long ugly war, and gardeners are not the “good guys” in this war.

ugly garden

That’s why I don’t have a vegetable garden, and that’s why I don’t want to hear about your vegetable garden. I don’t want to know what you do to get rid of Japanese beetles. I don’t want to know what you do to stop gophers.

groundhog

I want Japanese beetles. I want gophers, and deer, and rabbits. If I see an animal in my yard. I want to watch it, maybe take a picture of it, maybe even shoot it and cook it for dinner. The last thing I want to do is chase it away. These animals are my neighbors, and I don’t want to have conflicts with my neighbors over broccoli.

deer eating

If you were smart, you’d plant just enough of a vegetable garden to attract deer, and then, the first time you see a deer in your garden, shoot it, dress it and eat it. You’d get more food out of one deer than you’ll get out of your whole garden. Really, if you subtract all of the calories you burn working in your garden, from the total calories in the food that you eat from your vegetable garden, you’ll be lucky to break even, but if you throw a few seeds on the ground and sit on the front porch with a rifle in your lap all summer, you’ll put some real food on the table with a fraction of the effort.

fat couple with rifles

I realize that here in Humboldt County, gardening has become a cornerstone of our rural lifestyle, and that it won’t be easy to give it up. Around here, if people simply gave up gardening, their lives would revolve entirely around reckless driving, violent crime and drug abuse. People really need to find something better to do with their time.

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That requires imagination, and thought, so dust off your imagination, and tune up your thought process and find something better to do this year. I know that it seems like gardening is the most wholesome thing you do with your time, but in reality, gardening destroys the environment and enslaves humanity. When you work in the garden, you do the devil’s work.

the devils garden 1970

Think about it. Over 100 species of plant and animal go extinct every day. Rhinos, orangutans, manatees, wolves, kit foxes and coho salmon all teeter on the brink of extinction. Who is pushing them over the edge? Farmers and gardeners, that’s who. And what are they replacing all of those wild animals with? Lima beans, or some equally repulsive vegetable like Brussels sprouts.

die sprout die

Who wouldn’t rather eat a big fat rhino steak, which would still be plentiful if farmers hadn’t run them off all of the arable land, rather than a bowl of Lima beans, for dinner. No one in their right mind would ever eat a Lima bean if farmers hadn’t already destroyed most of the world’s natural habitat, and replaced it with their gross and disgusting vegetables.

yuck broccoli

As if digging up Mother Earth weren’t bad enough, gardeners then fill these open wounds with the most foul-smelling stuff they can find. They actually buy the filthy crap they sweep out of commercial chicken coops, and then bury it in the ground. They bring in truckloads of cow manure, boatloads of rotting fish guts and they pay people to go spelunking for 5,000 year old bat shit. Then they expect us to eat the Lima beans they grow in this filth. The next time you bite into a Lima bean, remember that that pasty, nauseating green goo is made of chicken poop, cow pies, and fossilized bat-shit. Mmmm, mmm, no wonder they taste so good. You might as well eat out of the toilet.

toilet dinner

As if Lima beans aren’t bad enough, now they’ve got these new, upscale, yuppie Lima beans. They call them Fava beans. Fava beans taste every bit as disgusting as Lima beans, but they’re even bigger and grosser than regular Limas. As a kid, I was forced to eat Lima beans, against my will. I learned to eat them by swallowing them individually, like pills, with a glass of water. I could not stand to chew them. I still can’t. Fava beans are too big to swallow like pills. You will choke to death on them if you try. Fava beans give you no choice but to chew them, which is sick and cruel.

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Do you remember the scene in Silence of the Lamb where Anthony Hopkins says: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Personally, I like liver. I’ve never eaten a human liver before, but I’d give it a try. I don’t mind a glass of wine on occasion, but the fact that he intentionally ate fava beans, in any context, totally grossed me out. Those beans have forever prejudiced me against psychopathic cannibals.

anthony-hopkins-liver and fava beans

All kidding aside, this issue is serious. 38% of the Earth’s land mass has already been stripped of rhinos and orangutans, and planted in Lima beans. Most of the land that’s left is barren desert, tundra, salt flats, inaccessible mountain peaks, or steep, unstable forest-land situated over major seismic faults. All of the wild animals in the world now have to live in these inhospitable places, because greedy Lima bean farmers have taken over all of the good real-estate.

Helicopter Used to Insecticide and Fertilize Wheat

It’s time to take a stand, and to stand up for wild animals.  You might want to be one yourself someday.

stand tall

Say NO to Lima beans, and leave the fucking dirt alone for a change this year.

leave planet earth alone


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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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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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


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