During my many years living on the commune, i have never seen a scarecrow, until last week.
So I asked recently while I was hanging out at Acorn about the efficacy of scarecrows. What I did not know was that crows are some of the smartest birds out there, and while scarecrows quite likely will not be fooled by it, other problematic birds quite likely will be.
According to Cracked Magazine (is this a reliable source?) crows have been found to make crude knives from leaves and grass and then use those knives to fashion other tools. National Geographic goes on to discuss crows using vehicles and traffic lights to break nuts and retrieve them safely.
Scarecrows are not scared of a scarecrow as the name leads us to believe, but they are still potentially useful for the much larger number of birds, who are not as smart as crows.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
This is a lovely piece of corporate sponsored good citizenship modeling.
It is somewhat culturally inappropriate for the US in a number of ways. You don’t poke a woman you don’t know on the bus (though you could offer your seat if you felt moved). It is a guy always giving to somehow disempowered women.
And if we can see past these problems and get to the deeper message: generosity – particularly regular small generosity, is a highly desirable cultural attribute.
Curiously with almost 5 million Youtube views of this video, it points to a Thai language dominated and apparently uninteresting website.
On the most disturbing side there is this piece from Syria.
This Save the Children fundraiser has already exceeded it’s $100K goal.
What are the implications of this improving philanthropic art video form? Are our hearts going to more regularly be tugged at or stomped on?
And it begs the question, with the accessible media of video, what are the viral short films we should be making to draw folks our way?
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Mostly real progress is slow. It took decades to end slavery (which gave way to wage slavery in many places). It took longer to get even some of the most basic rights for women in this country. It took a decade of protest to end the Vietnam War. Decades for gay marriage. I am doubtful multi-partner marriages will be legalized in my lifetime.
Early in my clean energy campaigning career (the 1990s), a renewables expert explained that they preferred we not call it “alternative energy” because this was not our long term objective. And for decades we have heard “wind is not ready from prime time” or “solar is too expensive for utility scale application”. But when someone says that to you these days, you should respond with the same incredulity you would if someone suggested we strip women of the right to vote. “Hey, have you been living under a rock?”
The triple meltdown at Fukushima hit the accelerator for clean energy solutions in a number of countries. Perhaps most dramatically in Germany, where parts of this shift have been underway for decades. If you stay closely on top of the German energy transition (called Energiewende) you will have no doubt heard that in the early stage after closing reactors after the Fukushima disaster the country was actually opening more coal fired power stations.
But as the bar chart above shows, the “Fukushima means more coal in Germany” story is old news. These distortions were caused in part by their being a number of incomplete high tech coal plants in the pipeline when Fukushima hit and distortions in the European carbon tariffs which (hopefully temporarily) were favoring coal. As the longer term graph above shows, unlike many countries, Germany is serious about reducing it’s carbon footprint. Central to it’s success is that more than half of the renewable investment in Germany in recent years has been from individuals (including farmers) rather than large utilities or governments.
Japan is arriving later to the party, but is still showing up in significant ways. Most recently there has been an explosion in the number of companies registering to sell electricity. These include Honda Motors, Panisonic, Softbank and some giant Japanese homebuilding companies. This is critical, because unlike Germany, Japan has 10 nuclear power utilities which have had a monopoly on electricity sales. The government for it’s part has (like Germany did) created above market pricing for power which is generated from renewables. Even before the opening of the market, Japan has seen a surge in home/business electric generation for personal/industrial use. The Japanese court just handed anti-nuclear activists a rare victory in stopping the restart of 2 reactors.
Japan, unlike the US, does not have a single authority to restart it’s currently closed 48 reactors. Even the newly restructured safety authority is telling the Abe administration that they need to check with local governments before restarting reactors, even if the safety authority says it is okay. Recently elected anti-nuclear provincial governor Taizo Mikazuki of Shiga prefecture on July 13th, indicates that the Abe governments plans to restart reactors are far from secure. The longer Japan continues to function will all of it’s reactors off and without blackouts, the less plausible the utilities arguments are that they are completely necessary to run the country.
Germany has the solar profile of Alaska. Japan has very few conventional energy resources. Both countries are using tax structures, market mechanisms, feed in tariffs and public education campaigns to change the ways they produce energy. Germany is ahead of schedule to close all it’s reactors by 2022. Japan currently has all its reactors closed. These were the number 3 and number 4 nuclear countries in the world (after the US and France).
It is far form a done deal, but the above graph shows an important trend. It is worth pointing out that at a 25% capacity factor, the installed wind power worldwide represents the equivalent of 35 full size reactors – which is still a long way for replacing the almost 400 operating reactors worldwide, but if you compare it to 6 reactor equivalents in place in 2009, you can see that this real progress in energy is moving right along.
This showed up on the internet the other day and deserves a solid D for it’s propaganda value. Let’s deconstruct for a moment.
Starting at the top. A bit of internet investigation finds that this $178 billion number comes from the US Census Bureau calculates domestic poverty, calculated based on the total number of people who are below the poverty line and by how much. [This is from 9.5 million families and 12.6 million individuals being below the government defined poverty level.]
What is interesting is the federal and state programs designed to elevate poverty actually far exceed this “poverty gap”, coming in at $830 billion (in 2012).
So as an anarchist I am not going to spend a lot of time on the reasons why the government is not a good solution for programs which alleviate poverty and not good value for money.
Under the current system we will never buy our way out of poverty. Not because it is beyond our capacity, but rather it is not really our leaders (both business and political) desire. Poverty has a function.
The Marxist make three arguments for the utility of poverty to capitalism:
- Temporary, dead-end, dirty, dangerous and menial jobs are undertaken by the poor
- It creates jobs for the middle class including policy makers, probation officers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and civil servants.
- Poverty helps to guarantee the status of those who are not poor – “The defenders of the desirability of hard work, thrift, honesty and monogamy need people who can be accused of being lazy, spendthrift, dishonest and promiscuous to justify these norms.”
My analysis is a bit different.
Poverty is hole in the safety net. It is capitalisms long lever in negotiations with unions. It is the economic gravity which pulls down the minimum wage. If there were not poverty in this country, boards should be firing their CEOs because they are not doing their job of maximizing shareholders profits.
Similarly, on the military side – this spending is not designed to solve any domestic problem, so elected (and often bought off) politicians will not move money which is designed to maintain US control of foreign places away from military spending to do anything domestic. A significant reason for the large US military budget is to insure that cheap foreign labor is available for US based multinational corporations.
To summarize: Government anti-poverty programs don’t work. Poverty is a necessary and structural component of the current flavor of industrial capitalism we have. The US maintains a tremendous military to insure it’s imperial foreign policy objectives and thus will not cut it for domestic income redistribution.
The math is not simple and this propaganda is too simplistic.
Ann Coulter is an attention-seeking sociopath who is determined to drag society back to the days when (white) men were men and women were property, also known as a conservative political commentator. She tends to say things that get people upset and get her media attention.
Recently, she has been targeting soccer, in time for the US participation in the World Cup with gems like:
“Any growing interest is soccer is a sign of the nation’s moral decline”
“No American who’s great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer.”
“In soccer, all the blame is dispersed and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self esteem is bruised. There is a reason perpetually alarmed women are called “soccer moms” and not “football moms.”
Let’s deconstruct this a bit. “Moral decline” – this is simply inflammatory and has no substantive logical underpinning. Politicians, clergy, and pearl-clutchers everywhere have been lamenting the moral decline of society for hundreds (even thousands) of years. It’s a vague phrase designed to get people upset and apparently it works.
No great grand sons watching soccer? Well besides it being obvious untrue (I watch a bit, and all 4 of my great grand father were born in the US) it is also racist, or at the very least ugly nationalist.
But it is the last paragraph which is especially interesting to me. The idea that without individual heroes and losers a game is of no value. (For the sake of debate I’ll ignore the fact that football is a team sport in which players with vastly different skill sets, such as linebackers and quarterbacks, work cooperatively to reach a common goal.) I don’t need to waste time on the fact that soccer is filled with heroes and losers, this is just more Coulter nonsense. Coulter simply makes up the sexist definition of soccer mom to suit her purposes. What is important about what she is saying is that cooperative ventures don’t matter. The individual is the source of all greatness.
Presumably some people who read Ann Coulter agree with her. I don’t think it is possible to be a syndicated columnist and a highly paid public speaker if everyone disagrees with you and dislikes you. We know that some significant number of US American’s are racist and sexist and Coulter plays to these interests.
But what is more true about Coulter than perhaps anyone with as high a profile in the popular media today, is that she is safe to ignore. As a couple of web magazines have identified, this is simply a trolling piece. She should be treated like the Colbert Show, where far right views are just refreshingly preposterous.
This article was significantly improved by Angie Tupelo
If you have a Dutch parent, you qualify for the rights of a Dutch citizen. Every 5 years Willow and Hawina and i go to the Dutch Embassy in Death City and get Willow’s passport renewed. Willow is a US citizen, with a US passport, but the Dutch are completely happy to issue an EU one, if the parents apply. This is a no brainer.
The Dutch passport is actually a Schengen Treaty enabled EU passport. You can travel between all the blue areas on the map below by just flashing an EU passport.
There are multiple reasons for having a couple of passports, beyond the above listed convenience. The one most people are familiar with is traveling between hostile or warring countries. Donning a Cuba passport stamp in a US passport can result in a visit from the FBI. Should you wish to travel regularly between the Arab world and Israel, a second passport (even from the same country, which you can get by claiming you lost one) is advised.
But the real reason i want Willow to have a second passport is that if his life is at all like mine, there will be a moment when it is extremely useful. This moment will be when he is traveling and some agent of the state thinks that they control him, because they have taken his passport. Annoyingly confidently they will be leading him off to some undesired destination. Having a second passport gives you the chance to look for an opportunity to depart from the foreign state agent and make a break for it.
Part of our home schooling is learning for when you can successfully make a break for it.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
What do you give to the person who wants nothing (for themself)? Perhaps you would give them an idea. Ideally it would be an idea so novel, funny, daring, newsworthy and crazy enough that it just might work. This is where i need your help.
This Friday is GPaul’s 30th birthday and we will be in NYC continuing with our community building Point A work. I am responsible for his under organized birthday event. Pleasantly, he personally wants little, demonstrated by (among many things) his willingness to stay in a tiny shoe box room in the barn at Acorn for years after he could have moved into a nicer one.
What we want collectively is at the other end of the accessibility spectrum: High visibility, inspiring, urban based, income sharing, intentional communities. And what I am asking from you, even if you can’t join us for this post Pride Friday night party in NYC is exotic memes.
What preposterous yet plausible proposals do you have for how to spark new urban communities? Some examples might help.
Party til Occupation. Both the mainstream media and progressive activists were surprised by Occupy. A call was made for a broad protest, as thousands have in the past, and people showed up in Zuccotti Park and ultimately across the country and started building political community. What had not been expected was that people from different classes and races could work intimately together using consensus to improve the treatment of the poor and the homeless and highlight corruption in banking and politics.
What if (after finding a suitable site) we decided to hold an open ended party. Different collective groups from the city take responsibility for making sure there are people and party goodies for some specific set of days for perhaps the first month or so. Then if it turns out that people are enjoying the party, renew the invitations and simply start pretending that permanent occupation of the site is a desirable and possible outcome.
CommunityCupid.org. Instead of a one on one dating site, this new social network helps people find others to live in community with. This does not need to be a single place based residence, it could be buying clubs and other aggregate discount services. And the structure of the site and the data is such that it is designed to bring people who are looking to spark community into the conversation. A relatively simple solution for starting up such a project might be as a Facebook plug in.
These are two examples of unlikely, but desirable projects. I am hoping you can add your own to be part of the birthday fun.
On Friday we will gather all the cards and all the participants we have and each person attending the party will draw 3 or more cards and choose the one which they think they can defend to the group the best. Then they will present the bold proposal of their selection and the rest of the group will evaluate the proposal to see if it is worthy of pursuing.
If you are in NYC this Friday, then email me and I will tell you where this event is in Brooklyn. If you can’t participate, but would like to submit a preposterous plausible idea you can either email me or leave it in the comment field.