Wednesday, November 30, 2011

don't use food to make fuel

"The amount of corn consumed by the ethanol industry combined with continued demand from overseas has cattle and hog farmers worried that if corn production drops due to drought or another natural disaster, the cost of feed could skyrocket, leaving them little choice but to reduce the size of their herds. A smaller supply could, in turn, mean higher meat prices and less selection at the grocery store.
The ethanol industry argues such scenarios are unlikely, but farmers have the backing of food manufacturers, who also fear that a federal mandate to increase production of ethanol will protect that industry from any kind of rationing amid a corn shortage."

A goal  of the industry has been to use biomass instead of actual grain. A plant in the UK will be built soon to use biomass as fuel.  Research into this is ongoing, such as in Wisconsin.  Biomass can be grown in soil and conditions not good for food crops as well.  It's just that biomass is harder to "digest" in order to get energy out than corn or other grains. Research has been done on how animals process biomass to get energy. 

Biomass is the way to go rather than using our food supply to make fuel.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Remember Iceland

"In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.  Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.
But Icelanders didn't stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.  (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)
To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections."

This is much better than the IMF's destroy-the-economy-to-save-it approach.  I hope Greece, Spain, etc. keep Iceland's approach to mind.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Best professor letter EVAH!

"Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our 'Principles of Community' and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing."

   Woah.  Just woah.  This is how EVERYTHING should be done. Straight talk.  No political mushiness.  Just say what you mean.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Has Occupy Wall Street opened up a new beginngin for the US?

"The historian Crane Brinton in his book “Anatomy of a Revolution” laid out the common route to revolution. The preconditions for successful revolution, Brinton argued, are discontent that affects nearly all social classes, widespread feelings of entrapment and despair, unfulfilled expectations, a unified solidarity in opposition to a tiny power elite, a refusal by scholars and thinkers to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class, an inability of government to respond to the basic needs of citizens, a steady loss of will within the power elite itself and defections from the inner circle, a crippling isolation that leaves the power elite without any allies or outside support and, finally, a financial crisis. Our corporate elite, as far as Brinton was concerned, has amply fulfilled these preconditions. But it is Brinton’s next observation that is most worth remembering. Revolutions always begin, he wrote, by making impossible demands that if the government met would mean the end of the old configurations of power. The second stage, the one we have entered now, is the unsuccessful attempt by the power elite to quell the unrest and discontent through physical acts of repression."

I didn't know much about Christopher Hedges before OWS, but I like him.  He sees that OWS is the start of the regular folks gearing up to change the collapsing system we now have.  It has failed us. It is broken. It is not offering any way out of the mess it itself brought us.  So here we go!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We'll either be serfs or lords in the future

"The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent."

So this is where we are headed. Back to the time when the few rich controlled the lives of the many poor.  I kind of thought that having a middle class was a good idea, but apparently we seem to think that the olden days were great.  I for one am not looking forward to going back.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

this is why people are disgusted with politics

“If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will get a nuclear weapon,” he said. “If we elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not.”

This is the kind of stupidity that is rusting away Americans' opinion of our politics.  Even Romney doesn't believe what he said, but because he thinks this will somehow get him into the White House, he says it.  Never mind that it's an idiotic statement that is impossible for him to live up to.  And it's impossible for him to predict that Obama's administration will see Iran with nuclear weapons.

Why do politicians make idiotic statements like this?  Why do they assume Americans are stupid enough to accept such a statement, let alone endear them enough so people will vote for them?  What is happening when our supposed leaders dumb down the conversation to pre-kindergarten lunacy?  This needs to stop.  I don't know how to stop it except to not vote for idiots who make idiotic statements.

And I'm not just picking on Romney;

Friday, November 11, 2011

will it be a passive or an active future? OWS might help answer this

There is so much good coming. We're moving away from polluting oil.  Computers can do dazzling things never dreamed of. The Internet unites us more and more. 

But at the same time, we seem to be dragging down.  Our economies are crap.  Politicians are stuck in their brainwashed divisive one-way thinking that has screeched our government nearly to a halt.  Corporations, whose sole job is to suck money from society, have gained personhood. Financial institutions are so greedy and broken that they will risk long-term financial meltdown for short-term gain (and thus, our financial meltdown).

This dichotomy really bothers me.  Which will the future succumb to, the cool good stuff or the stifling, destructive bad stuff? 

Occupy Wall Street is that movement that hollers and complains that things, LOTS of things, are going wrong.  OWS says we need to work on this stuff NOW.  We need to work out how to stop the things the are sucking us into oblivion. We need to give those bright lights that shine on a better future the boost they need. 

So OWS does have an agenda. They want politicians to put people and community ahead of ideology and party.  They want corporations to treat employees, customers, and this world as being above the almighty buck.  They want banks to be servants of the community rather than destroyers of lives.   And they want people who think this is all impossible to wake up.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More talk on Moral Economy

"Lidia Canha, from the Portuguese association UMAR, an organisation of women working to end gender- based and domestic violence, stressed that the prioritisation of finance capital over social welfare is detrimental to a country, since it breeds a precarious labour environment and effectively dismantles the public service infrastructure. 
In a huge push against these risks, swathes of civil society are striving to inject their perspectives and demands into the G20 process. "

A moral economy stresses the needs of the people in the community.  Our current economy stresses the health of banks and corporations.  Our current system requires sacrificing the social health of a country to save the economic health of banks and corporations.

Friday, November 4, 2011

DIY tools for civilization

Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters building the Global Village Construction Set -- a modular, DIY, low-cost, open source, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.