Friday, February 24, 2006

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'

It's beginning to look more and more like unapologetically fascism in Washington these days. ""!984" had nothing on today's factual realities. Controlling the media is the first step to controlling the past, and the future.

A president who has brazenly and openly trashed the Constitution of the United States of America deserves impeachment, far more than one accused of petty sexual impropriety. And yet, the gateway to impeachment is guarded by the foxes and their cousins.

Leona Gulch
Pacific Plate

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Saving Wilderness

The Left Coast of the United States, loosely welded onto the North American continent, for the moment, consists of broad expanses of open beach, isolated permanently, more or less, by ancient eroding cliffs, interrupted with occasional, intensely occupied enclaves of human settlement. Among the crashing green waves along this rumbling shore, seals, sea lions, sea otters, cormorants, sea gulls and assorted piscatorial populations share precious play space with surfers on dagger-sharp surf boards, sailboarders, kite-boarders, boogie-boarders, buzzing "personal watercraft," fishing boats, pleasure boats, sail boats and the occasional incautious tourist caught in the receding rip tide.

Those among the local human inhabitants who desire a respite from urban busyness hie themselves to the few remaining natural areas for what passes as a "wilderness experience" in these waning days of civilization. Crammed into sleek metallic hybrid automobiles, rumbling, high-wheeled mini-trucks, gleaming low-riders with deep bass sound systems set on stun, these nature seekers travel hundreds of miles, over thousands of miles of cement and macadam, on their butts, to commune with nature. They crowd into parking lots, don their colorful nature-industry protective clothing, complete and replete with individually labeled pockets for iPod and headphones, designer sunglasses, electronic computerized camera, cell phone, GPS receiver and wilderness guidebook. Over all, they strap on the latest oil-derived, Sierra Magazine (TM) approved backpack filled with the latest hiking industry products for gustatorial relief and liquid refreshment,.

After a day of wilderness consumption, they all head wearily back to their metal steeds, crawl through the weekend smog of permanent rush hour traffic, back to the solace of HDTV, 6.0 mbps DSL 6.0, semi-reliable cell-phones connections, latt├ęs on demand, and retail opportunities abounding. Life is good.

Unbeknownst, or at least little appreciated by the dedicated wilderness consumer, there's another wilderness that lives just outside the doorway of the average modest 2,000 square foot, million dollar California abode. It's easy and inexpensive to find and experience, requiring only a pair of feet and a willingness to use them, one at a time.

On my daily commute to work and back at our local public radio station, I do something highly unusual and suspect in the United States today... I walk. Twice a day, morning and afternoon, I transport my self independently across the intervening space twixt hither and yon, about a mile and back, setting one foot before the other, tipping myself off balance on one foot in the desired direction of travel and catching myself, every time so far, on the opposite extended pedal appendage. Thus I make my way along 7th Avenue, picking up odd bits of the flotsam and jetsam of civilization tossed carelessly aside by passing motorists, depositing them in conveniently placed wheely bins left along the roadside since the last refuse pickup. The empty sidewalk reels out before me, only rarely hazarding a fellow walker.

Unencumbered by a metal and plastic cocoon, I'm free to watch and listen to the non-human world that exists interposed amid the cacophony of the regular, regulated commuter experience. Crows, mocking birds, starlings, finches, sparrows, pigeons, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, night herons, kingfishers, sea gulls and cormorants fill the air with song and the swish of wing-feathers. Raccoons, opossums, assorted rodents and their feline predators, occupy the ground level, squirrels chatter from trees, slugs, snails and myriad species of crawling and flying insects share the darker and wetter reaches of my route.

Often, my pedestrian travels take me through the small boat harbor, home to, besides the boats and their nautical keepers, flights of sea gulls and terns, majestic, prehistoric soaring great blue herons, who land on the docks and stand on spindly legs, hands in pockets, contemplating deep mysteries of the universe from within their feathered cloaks. Harbor seals float languidly in the cold waters, their heads barely above the surface, looking back at me with wet, puppy eyes. They disappear quietly below the surface when the social moment becomes too intense. Sea lions bark noisily, day and night, and thrash their catch of the day on the water, breaking the still-living salmon into bite-size chunks. Nature red in tooth and fin.

Last week a mob of crows harassed an immature red-tailed hawk, who flew desperately among the eucalyptus branches and the tall masts in the harbor, white bars flashing on his young pumping wings, trying to shake the pursuing pack of black, irresponsible Corvid trouble-makers. The hawk finally gave up and perched on the locked gate to X2 dock, grumbling to himself, as the crows settled in the tall white masts of the sail boats and took turns dive-bombing the disgruntled young raptor. At last, pursued by two persistent harriers, the hawk flew swiftly into a deep screen of dense eucalyptus on the slope above the harbor, there to brood on his wounded pride as the crows flew off, congratulating themselves loudly with a raucous ruckus.

In the ten minutes that I stood and watched the drama unfold, not 50 feet away, no other human noted the experience. Cars drove by, their occupants safely entombed in their metal sarcophagi,, unseeing, unhearing, unaware. Boat owners polished and repaired their costly craft, intent on their work, never looking up. The natural world that surrounded them might as well not have existed for all the notice they took of it.

We hear much talk these days of "saving the wilderness," protecting Nature, even saving the Earth, and yet, for 99 44/100% of the people on this planet, the non-human world exists only on those rare and special occasions when it can be consumed as a commodity, packaged and presented with appropriate and expensive hyperbole and marketing acumen. The signs and signals of a natural world brought to the brink of extinction are screened from human notice by the dollar signs and economic signals of an overweening human social system that places commodity and profit above life and living.

If we are to save the wilderness, if it indeed needs saving, not just leaving alone, we must first save ourselves from the illusion of separatedness from the non-human world, the fantasy of the free lunch, the unthinking expectation of continuing and unlimited economic growth. Human economic growth and development are the opposite of wilderness; the two are mutually incompatible. Wilderness, including the everyday wilderness of 7th Avenue, cannot continue to exist in a world that contains humans intent on more and better. The future, for humans at least, if there are any in it, will be a world of less and sufficient.

Michael A. Lewis
Leona Gulch
Pacific Plate

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

No Bravery

Take a look at this site.

Anyone who isn't in tears doesn't understand what's going on.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Porcupine blog: Why Is US Capitalism So Barbaric?

Capitalism is only as barbaric as the people who participate in it. All human social systems instituted from the top down are barbaric, in that they impose someone else's will over that of the people.

The only legitimate form of social organization is that which arises of itself from the people. In another word, anarchy. Since larger and larger groupings of people have a harder and harder time in deciding just who "the people" are, anarchies must be, of necessity, small societies based on local production for local consumption, within bioregionally defined geographic areas, in which the people can live within the natural biological and geophysical limitations of the bioregions.

This does not preclude large populations from living in anarchies. It merely precludes centralized authoritarian rule over large populations. Viewed through the local end of the telescope, authority rises from the people only to the level at which cirmcumstances require its application, after which authority devolves to the local group.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The True Cost of Oil

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Michael Klare, Just How Addicted to Oil Are We?

"For anyone who slips into the driver's seat of a car -- and except for those who live in cities like New York with full-scale public transport systems, that's most of America most of the time -- life is already a permanent energy crisis."

Hey, Tom! Reality check!

The problem is not all those idiots locked up in their spam cans every morning and evening. The problem is that everytghing, and I mean everything, is mined, transported, refined, transported, manufactured, transported, distributed, shelved, purchased, transported, used, thrown away, transported and dumped or recycled, all using oil.

Everything is going to cost more because the price of oil and gasoline is going to cost more. We're not just transporting human butts from hither to yon. We're transporting everything we depend on with oil!

Personally, I don't care much because I have a good garden here on the central coast of California, I live very simply, I walk to work (don;t ride a bus), to the farmer's market, to the beach. I ride my bicycle downtown to the library for good books to read, for information, for newspapers with real news. When the oil maggots have all dripped dry, my life won't change all that much.

Which is more than can be said for 90% of the rest of the people in this poor myth-begotten country, not to mention the rest of the world, which I won't mention.

Wake up time!


US Plans Massive Data Sweep

US Plans Massive Data Sweep

One of the truisms that's really true is that when you hear about something happening in the security industry, it's already happened and is no longer important.

"Massive data sweeps" have been going on for a long time, coupling telephone, mail, humint (intelligence gathered by people) with newer computer techniques. In fact, almost all computer surveillance is instigated by intelligence gathered from analog (non-computer) sources.

So the above headline tells us that massive data sweeps have been going on for some time and ADVISE has been replaced by something more effective and harder to detect.

I suspect that ADVISE has been replaced by a larger, more comprehensive computer network that incorporates data sources from government, industry and the internet, allowing data sifting to occur on a massive scale not achievable until Homeland Security and the Patriot Act led the way to massive breakdowns in privacy restrictions.

We'll see soon enough.