SNOWDEN AND THE FARM, PART TWO

21 05 2014

A remarkable number of people have read my “Edward Snowden and The Farm” post, although there has not been a lot of discussion about it on WordPress.  In a way that’s fine with me, because I have been writing and talking about the topic for decades, and grown weary of repeating myself.  Indeed, the only reason I wrote “Edward Snowden and The Farm” was because IT insisted that I write it down.  The piece was more of a download than an act of conscious creation.

The post did evoke the typical Farm responses in a thread on Facebook.  They came from a guy I’ve known for forty-three years, and I wanted to give him my best response, which turned out to be way longer than would reasonably fit in a Facebook thread.  So, here are his remarks, and my response.

He said: the farm changeover was brought about by a vast majority of people whose material needs were not being met period.

Note  “period,” as in, “end of discussion.”  In my experience, his response was pretty representative of the attitude of current Farm residents. He later wrote this:

we’ll have to agree to disagree martin,family’s got to independently make it’s own decisions about the basics.can’t run around looking for basic footwear forever.it got 2 where the system manipulators thrived.at that point we’re at square 1.people are people no matter what system you’re in,no point tying your hands behind your back.seems like most everyone is happier now.but enough arguing,you feel like your social experiment failed,well it did but the community recovered and became what it needed to become and is thriving.that’s the long answer.

Again, typical. What follows is my long answer to him.

Read the rest of this entry »





HOW WE ARE SURVIVING THE GREAT POLAR VORTEXES OF 2014

30 01 2014

When I was a kid/teenager, growing up in a safe, quiet suburb, I loved adventure novels and movies, stories in which the hero/ine had to deal, not so much with evil people, but with the impartial force and majesty of nature. I loved the histories of South Polar expeditions, Robinson Crusoe and similar novels, and the writings of Jack London.

Then I became a hippie and moved to the country, jumping from a small Vermont college to a series of communes in the California foothills to The Farm in Tennessee, and life became an adventure novel.  Vermont got this city kid out into the country, and acquainted me for the first time with weather that could kill me.  California introduced me to horizons I could scan and find no trace of civilization, and my trajectory at The Farm provided me with a life close to the earth, marrying and raising a family while living in a series of school buses and 16’X32′  army surplus squad tents, far from the normal trappings of American culture.  This was back when Tennessee had serious winters, folks.  There would be snow on the ground for weeks, because the temperature would stay below freezing for weeks, and there was nothing between us and that weather but an inch of school bus roof or a fraction of an inch of canvas.  When the ground wasn’t frozen, it was likely to be very muddy. We chopped lots of wood, hauled lots of water, had two home births in those school buses, and helped turn a couple of square miles of Tennessee back woods into a thriving community, as well.

In fact, the community thrived to the point that the adventure of life was no longer so much about surviving the weather as it was about growing the community.  Our family moved into a real house, with wood floors and walls, insulation, and even running hot water and a shower!  The roof no longer flapped in a strong wind, nor did a heavy rain storm  drip from the ceiling, flood in through the door, or drown out conversation.  That happened around 1975, and, for most of the nearly 40 years since then, my dwelling’s ability to withstand the elements has not been much of an issue.

That changed in the Spring of 2013, when we moved back to Rabbit Hole Hollow after the fire.  During the summer, apart from the occasional rainstorm, it was no big deal.  We did our eating and dish washing outside.  During daylight hours, there was plenty of hot water for showers and kitchen cleanup from the two hundred feet of garden hose we ran up onto the roof of what remained of the house.  As the days grew shorter, the availability of hot water diminished, but we didn’t really think much about winter. The last several winters had been ridiculously mild–we are in the early stages of global warming, after all–hey, some winter soon, it might not even frost!  Ooh, the bugs will be really bad the summer after that happens! Read the rest of this entry »





CLASH OF THE TITANS

13 04 2013

Those of us who recognize the many grave dangers that fracking poses to our environment and social fabric have often felt that we were in a real David vs. Goliath  struggle, but without the benefit of the sling that enabled David to topple the giant.  Recent developments indicate that we may have not one,but two Goliaths entering the fray on our side.

Our two unlikely champions are the insurance providers and the mortgage bankers.

Here’s how Nationwide Mutual Insurance put it in an internal memo:

“After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage.”

This applies to

….landowners who lease land for shale gas drilling and contractors involved in fracking operations, including those who haul water to and from drill sites; pipe and lumber haulers; and operators of bulldozers, dump trucks and other vehicles used in drill site preparation.

Other insurers are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the difficulty of calculating potential damages from fracking, and, while insurance for gas and oil companies is still available, the cost is rising. Read the rest of this entry »





FRACK WHORES, FASCISTS, AND FOOLS

24 03 2013

Mothers of Invention: Brown Shoes Don’t Make It

Mothers of Invention:  Thirteen (from “You Can’t Say That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 6–not available on the net, sorry!)

Mothers of Invention:  Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk (from “Broadway the Hard Way,” ditto)

As I promised a couple of weeks ago, I did indeed turn out for the anti-fracking demonstration, and the accompanying hearing, at Legislative Plaza, last Friday.  The best thing I can say about it is that it was great to see old friends and new, young faces.  It’s good to feel that this movement is being passed on, even if that’s accompanied by the distinct sensation that it’s being pissed on, as well.

Nature

The hearing was definitely a pisser.  Numerous people called the fracking decision into question on all the obvious grounds–conflict of interest, failure to take into account the value of an unspoiled natural environment, and the dubiousness of the alleged benefits that fracking brings to communities.  Channel 5, bless their hearts, did a background investigation that uncovered the fact that making money, not doing studies, is UT’s primary motivation in opening their forest research center to fracking.  It won’t be much good for forestry studies after the frackers are done with it!  Some members of the State Building Commission even raised the all-important question, “what happens if we get a few years into this and discover that it’s a really bad idea?”

“Trust us,” UT’s representative said, just what BP’s people said when they started deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, just like what Exxon’s representatives said before the Exxon Valdez ran aground, just what Shell said when they attempted to moor an offshore drilling rig in the Arctic Ocean last year.

Here’s quotes from some of the emails Channel 5 uncovered: Read the rest of this entry »





O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL

10 03 2013

I have been writing this blog and doing this radio show now for nearly eight years.  I have devoted about a quarter of my time to it every month, and many things around our homestead have not happened because I have been keeping faith with this blog, my radio program, and the Green Party of Tennessee.

More on the Green Party in a little bit.  My blog has had, according to WordPress, nearly 47,000 visitors in these eight years, but, on the other hand, my spam protector tells me that it has protected me from 36,000 spam posts, meaning, as I understand it, that only about a quarter of my readers are actually on site to read, with the balance–that’s fifteen out of an average of twenty a day–only here to peddle fake Viagra, knockoff watches and handbags, and other detritus of our consumer-driven culture.  I don’t understand where the payoff for these people comes from.  Nobody I know takes them seriously.  It would certainly save a lot of human and electric energy, not to mention bandwidth, if such nonsense could be eliminated.   But I digress, as I so often do.  One thought leads to another, in an endless stream.

Here’s the point.  I have spent about as much time as I can trying to wake people and point out to them that the building is burning, and they/we need to either fight the fire or get out of the building, or both.  It’s time for me to quit talking about taking action, and actually take action myself.  Not to follow my instincts on this would be co-dependent, I think.  I have been there, and done that, and don’t care to dwell there any more.

So, I am looking for someone else in the Nashville area who would like to do this show–I’ve had a few nibbles, but no firm bites yet.  John and Beth can’t do it all themselves, and would like to cut back on their involvement as well.  If nobody wants to take it from our hands, “The Green Hour” will slip into the dustbin of radio history.  I am thinking that I may repurpose the “Deep Green Perspective” blog as an autobiography, since I think my whole life has been lived, in effect, from a “deep green perspective,” and I’d like to tell my story while I still remember most of it.  Anyway, if you’d like to play radio host, get in touch. Read the rest of this entry »





THE VICTIM LIKED IT

10 03 2013

A guest post by Derrick Jensen

Published in the March/April 2013 issue of Orion magazine

OCTOBER 2012 was the 323rd consecutive month for which the global temperature was above average. The odds of this happening randomly are literally astronomical: one in ten to the hundredth power. For comparison, there are ten to the eightieth power atoms in the known universe. So if all the atoms in the universe were white, except one was green, your odds of reaching blindly into a bag of all the atoms in the universe and picking out the green one would be greater than that of having 323 consecutive months of above-average temperatures were global warming not happening.

A sane person might think that in the face of this, and with life on earth at stake, the debate over whether global warming is happening would have ended. A sane person might think that in the face of melting glaciers and melting ice caps, we would be desperately discussing how to stop it. A sane person might think that after Hurricane Sandy ripped into New York City (the center of the universe, according to some), the denial would be over.

But this sane person would be wrong. In December of 2012, former head of the EPA and White House “Climate Czar” Carol Browner said, “A majority in our House of Representatives appears to not even think the problem is real. It’s sort of stunning to me because I’ve never seen the breadth of scientific consensus on an environmental issue like there is on this.” The next speaker at the event, a conference about the Clean Air Act, was Joe Barton, chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce who currently sits on the Environment and the Economy subcommittee. As if to prove her point, he stated that atmospheric carbon can’t be dangerous because it’s “a necessity of life.” In fact, he noted, he was exhaling carbon as he spoke! Q.E.D. Besides, he said, greenhouses are good things: “There’s a reason that you build things called greenhouses, and that’s to help things grow.”

It would be easy enough to laugh at his stupidity if he weren’t in a position of power and using that position to help kill what remains of the planet. It would be easy enough to just label his denial “stunning” and move on. But his denial is part of a larger pattern, and articulating patterns is the first step toward changing them….

Reprinted with permission.  You can read the rest of this article here.

music:  Jennifer Berezan, “The Whole World Is Burning

Eliza Gilkyson w/John Doe, “Chimes of Freedom





HAGELIAN LOGIC

23 02 2013

If you want an example of both the short, selective memory of the mainstream media in the U.S., and a mark of how far to the right corporatism has pulled this country, there is no better example than the controversy surrounding Obama’s nomination of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

Hagel was an enlisted man in Vietnam, who rose through the ranks to become a squad leader, making him one of the few upper-level members of our government who has actually been under fire.  I think that is a vital experience for anybody who is going to send others into harm’s way, just as spending at least a week in jail should be required of anybody who is going to pass laws that will put others behind bars.  Hagel hasn’t been there and done that, but pretty much nobody in the law-making business in this country has, so I can’t really hold that lack against him.

I think it’s worth noting that he was well enough regarded by the soldiers under his command that he did not get “fragged,” i.e., killed by his own troops for being an a-hole, which was the fate of at least six hundred and possibly as many as a two thousand U.S. officers in Vietnam.  His mere survival is thus another mark in his favor.  On the other hand, the military’s job is to intimidate or murder people they don’t know personally, and, divorced from the military context, that is a sign of psychopathy.  Mark against. Read the rest of this entry »





COAL KILLS

9 02 2013

CORRECTION:  The opening power point presentation was given by Dodd Galbreath, not “Dodd Lockwood.”  My bad!

On Thursday night, I went to the Sierra Club’s “peoples’ hearing” on TVA’s proposal to spend a billion dollars on scrubbers for the stacks of its Gallatin, Tennessee, coal plant.  The meeting, along with a couple of other recent news items, was a pleasant, uplifting surprise.  All too often, public meetings and the news alike leave me with a hollow feeling closely associated with how it feels to be heading down a roller coaster curve that I know, just know, is going to make me toss my lunch.  But not this time.

First, the facts of the matter, to the best of this admittedly biased reporter’s ability to state them.  TVA’s Gallatin coal plant, just upriver (and usually upwind) from Nashville, is over fifty years old.  It consumes 9 to 12,000 tons of coal a day to supply electricity to 300,000 homes  (that’s 80 pounds of coal per home per day), and emits about 750,000 tons of CO2 per year to do that–that’s two and a half tons of CO2 per household, anda total of about 23,500 tons of sulfur dioxide, as well as large quantities of mercury, lead and other heavy metals and radioactive elements.  The EPA has ruled that all coal plants must install scrubbers to remove the sulfur dioxide, etc., or close down.  The  “coal ash” that results from the scrubbing process will, apparently, be stored in large piles and containment ponds on the banks of the Cumberland River, just like the piles and ponds next to the Clinch River near Kingston Tennessee.   (Remember what happened there?) and at every other coal-fired power plant in the country, because nobody’s figured out any safe use for all this highly toxic material.  (oops, sorry, I’m editorializing! ….well, that  IS the fact of the matter.)   Because these ponds and piles are going to take up a lot of room, TVA will have to close down The Cumberland River Aquatic Center, which specializes in growing endangered mussel species (essential for restoring stream health) as well as gar and sturgeon.  TVA has been strongly resistant to any kind of public input into their decision to do all this. Read the rest of this entry »





TVA WANTS TO MAKE AN ASH OF ITSELF-AGAIN

26 01 2013

In December of 2008, TVA’s Kingston Coal Plant was the site of a disaster, as unusually heavy rains washed away retaining walls and inundated the area downstream from the plant with highly toxic coal ash from “ponds” on the plant site.

Now, TVA wants to set the stage for an even more spectacular disaster.  Instead of polluting the small rural community of Kingston, their new plan puts the city of Nashville at risk.

Their intentions are good–the Gallatin plant they want to “upgrade”  has been listed as one of the most polluting coal plants in the country.  But TVA’s solution–to spend a billion dollars installing “scrubbers” that will remove the pollution from the plant’s exhaust system–will result in tons and tons of toxic waste being stored on the banks of the Cumberland River, upstream from Nashville.  All it will take is a flood like the one we had in 2010, and that coal ash, with its toxic load of mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and more–will be all over Nashville.  Thanks, TVA! Read the rest of this entry »





ANSWERS TO LIFE’S EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS

13 01 2013

music:  James McMurtry, “Outskirts

Kate Wolf, “You’re Not Standing Like You Used To”

Last month, I took the opportunity of the Winter Solstice to reflect on the seemingly Quixotic attempt by the counterculture, which includes the Green Party, to change the course of civilization before we devastate this planet.  It seems I was not the only one working through a dark night of the soul.

Just a few days later, I read Jan Lundberg’s “solstice musings,” entitled “Waiting for Culture Change (or something like it).”  Like me, Jan has spent the last several decades pushing for, well, culture change (the name of his website/movement) and, like me, he is beginning to wonder if he (or anyone) will live to see the promised land, and, like me, beginning to wonder if he has spent most of his adult life in a futile attempt to realize that promised land, that “Earth restored.”  Jan wrote:

…here are a baker’s three-quarter dozen thoughts that came to me in reflecting on my past year, or upon the ending of an age, as we face an ever-dawning world:

• Paradoxically, this is a time of minimized solidarity — when we need it most.• It is undermined by the cherished notion that the world — nature’s womb — is forever our playground for individual gratification.

• Right livelihood — lifestyle change away from consumerism — is unrewarded except perhaps in karma or Gaia’s appreciation, if you will.

• Hitting hard with the truth that one has found is not necessarily appreciated by many people, despite creative efforts coupled with compassion, assuming you can get to them at all.

• The sharp distinction between the Earth-engaged person and the material world-engaged man or woman has not lessened, despite momentous forces and trends becoming more clear. There are the few who, while not being perfect human beings, live for more than just themselves, as they share their vision and go up against corrupt power. But the greater number of citizens just look out for themselves, being taken advantage of by the subset of sociopaths extending institutional conditioning to predation. Read the rest of this entry »








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