As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.
Yesterday was National Hanging Out Day - not the kind you do with your friends but what you do - or should be doing - with your clothes.
It appears that the clothesline is making a comeback and, with its green credentials, on its way to becoming cool. Residential developments and subdivisions that currently prohibit the clothesline, usually for "aesthetic' reasons are under pressure to change their ways. It's hard to argue when you hear that the energy involved in drying a load of washing in the clothes dryer is about the same as all the energy used by a family in rural sub-Saharan Africa. And, if you're the more self-involved type, you'd be interested to know that I've calculated the savings for our family of two using our clothesline in the summer months alone at around $50 - much more when you add in the cost of purchasing and maintaining that machine.
We (us relatively affluent first world types) seem to be swallowing the myth that spending money on poor people is bad for business. Canada, for example, has had a very good few years and is much richer than it was. But it's the rich people who are richer.
Most of us want to take care of the less fortunate amongst us: we are our brothers' keepers. If words can make a difference, I think this article by Margaret Legum does a pretty good job.
So, as "they" like to say: read this and sent it to all your friends. It may not bring them luck but perhaps it will inspire one or more of us to unashamedly tell our political representatives that we want more of our money spent on taking care of all of us.
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants
suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature
workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never
found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife
and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when
a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives. - The Independent
There's been a lot of debate about whether cell phones harm people. Now, evidence is gathering that the major disappearance/loss of bees in North America might be caused by cell-phone radiation. Of course this renews concern for people too.
With the loosening of ties to more crudely capitalist societies like the US, many countries in South America are providing interesting examples of fresh thinking for their societies. Latest to come to my attention (initially via Findory) is that after failure of negotiations with advertisers on placement and content, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo has gone billboard free. Of course the advertisers are upset but I'm sure they will find other ways to put their products before the people. Meanwhile, the city transforms visually as it gives people precedence over products - a rare achievement these days.
The initial impression is of something missing, as the bare billboard frames remain but I suspect that the vibrancy of this city will soon assert itself and reveal more of the actual city through the spaces previously covered by billboard "weeds".
Occasionally I include a post with a more local focus - that will also have meaning to those who live elsewhere. This is a good example. Joni Mitchell's lament about "paving paradise to put up a parking lot" is never more apt in these days, when we are so obviously destroying our planet as a home for human beings and so many other life forms.
The British Columbia government with Federal support has grand plans for the fertile lands and communities of the Fraser Valley: add more roads, pave over farmland, do whatever it tales to make the area as global-trade friendly as possible. The local population, having been kept in the dark about most of these implications, is starting to take action. Hopefully it will be in time to stop this visionless plan, with benefits for the usual profiteers. According to Donna Passmore, one of the activists involved in focusing resistance to what is called the Pacific Gateway expansion:
It will destroy more than 1,000 acres (including the Tsawwassen First Nation Treaty which is all about DeltaPort Expansion) of the best farmland we have in this province - and therefore some of the best in the world. It will create a 35% increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will exacerbate global warming, and thereby put additional pressures on farming. And it will almost double the amount of ground level ozone in the Fraser Valley, likely elevating the 25% of crop we are currently losing to air pollution in this region.
Watch this video of a recent rally in the Delta town hall, "citizens from across
the region gather to hear experts and politicians speak out for
sustainable transportation and a better environment."
Your Backyard Farmer will build and manage a vegetable garden in your own back yard. When Robyn Streeter and Donna Smith couldn’t get a farm to start a traditional CSA, they began using people’s backyards in Portland. Their business, Your Backyard Farmer, will farm in back yards in the community. Residents can hire them to farm in their own backyard.
Surveys show that 77% of all persons under 35 defining themselves as
"liberals" say The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is their primary news source. Which probably makes Jon Stewart happy as hell but doesn't bode well for what little remains of our republic.