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Acorn brings the Party

The sign of a culturally rich community is that there are more things happening than there is time to do them all.  This often happens around evening events and parties at Acorn and Twin Oaks.  And tonight there was a transparency group at Acorn, while there was also a dance party at Twin Oaks.

KeithHaringDanceParty5I

We tried to get out of the transparency group early – but there were all these interesting new people and early became after 9:30 PM.  But a bunch of people still wanted to go, so we hopped into a minivan and a Dharma Bum‘s car.  And walked in and only the DJ was dancing and the dance floor was nearly empty.

Dharma Bums band comes out of the Omega Institute in NY

Dharma Bums band comes out of the Omega Institute in NY

But we brought 13 people and started a bit of dancing.  Half an hour later, Twin Oaks visitors disappointed by the early ending of the original party came back and started dancing, as well as some members who heard rumor of the party restarting.   We had a crowded dance floor and the party was reborn.  Half an hour later the first shuttle went home. By midnight everyone was heading back to Acorn. Report backs were all positive, glad they went, got what they were looking for.

ilovedance

The funological principal here is if you have a dozen of the right/enthusiastic  people that you are adding to an event (even a near dead one), you can control the health of a party.

 

Why the Republicans winning the Senate might be a good thing

i’ve been bumming most of the day.  The election results were pretty terrible.  I voted just so i would not feel as bad about them (tho it turned out to be a good thing because the Warner Senate race was actually close).

Red Tide

Red Tide

Then i read the following piece called Chill Out, Liberals! The Republicans Took The Senate And That’s TERRIBLE…For Them.  I thought it was really clever and i am discount re-blogging it.  The first 2/3rds of the article is below.  All the graphics are my additions.

————————

What? Did you think this would be good news for Republicans? Not a chance!

You see, for the last 6 years, the only thing Republicans have had to do is say “No!” to anything and everything President Obama and the Democrats put forth. That’s easy when your base hates the president so much they would happily light themselves on fire if he said “Third degree burns are bad for you.”

president-obama-Bye-legacy

This rage keeps the right wing voting for Republicans as long as Republicans tell them what they want to hear: Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist Commie Nazi that stole the elections, government is the problem and we’re here to stop Big Gub’mint blablabla…

But now Republicans have to do something they no longer know how to do: Lead.

Shooting spitballs from the back of the class at the smart kids doesn’t require much effort. Standing at the front of the class and solving problems requires both brains and discipline and the GOP is sorely lacking in both.

This is the same Republican Party that forced a government shutdown because the Tea Party caucus blocked their own debt ceiling bill because it wasn’t extreme enough.

This is the same Republican Party that forced Speaker of the House John Boehner to pull his own immigration bill because the Tea Party caucus decided it wasn’t extreme enough.

This is the same Republican Party that has been threatening to impeach President Obama for years. Heck, they came up with a ridiculous lawsuit against the president that no law firm will take because judges keep laughing it out of court.

The Republican Party is controlled by crazed extremists and they will use their new found power to prove just how crazy they are. They can’t help themselves.

Love the Tennis Racket

Love the Tennis Racket

Here’s the next two years:

  • Now that they have the Senate, conservatives will demand that the GOP repeal/defund Obamacare but the ACA is too deeply entrenched now. Attacking people’s healthcare is a sure path to electoral suicide but the base won’t care because they hate Obama with a blind rage. If Republicans don’t try, the base will turn on them and here come the primaries from the far right.

impeach-obama-billboard

  • Impeachment!!!! The base and Fox News want impeachment proceedings so badly they can taste it. The base is dumb enough to think it will work, Fox simply wants the massive ratings the doomed-to-fail impeachment hearings will bring. Republicans in the Senate still remember how much damage their last attempt to impeach a Democratic president did and won’t want to even try. And then here come the primaries from the far right again.
  • The House will pass insane bills and the Senate will try to smooth out the extremism to attract even a handful of Democrats. The House GOP will froth at the mouth and here come those primary challenges.
  • Ted Cruz will be running for president and will take every opportunity to undermine Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. Cruz already has a track record of sabotaging the GOP for his own personal gain. Expect that to get worse.
  • Several other Republicans will be running for president as well and they will be loudly demagoging to the farthest of the far right. Expect normal humans to be nauseated.
  • Mitch McConnell has already said he will be trying to blackmail President Obama at every opportunity with threatened shutdowns. How do you think that’s going to go over with the public?
Where Gridlock Comes From

Where Gridlock Comes From

Sure, the press will mindlessly repeat Republican claims that Obama is responsible for the continued gridlock but the thing about being the one writing the bills to put in front of the president is that your name actually has to be on it. Now Democrats can sit back and point out the GOP’s extremism and even the “liberal” media will have a hard time blaming Democrats for it.

TO finish this article go to AddictingInfo’s Chill Out, Liberals! The Republicans Took The Senate And That’s TERRIBLE…For Them

“There is nothing we can do about it”

There is a news story which is breaking over several media recently.  Wired did a feature on it a bit over a week ago called “The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed”.  This article quotes in-the-know sources who say there are “well over 100K people” working on content moderation world wide, mostly in countries like the Philippines.  The Philippines has cultural ties to the US, has a strong English second language culture and can pay people to do this work between $300 and $500 a month – a tiny fraction of doing the same work in the US.

Pressing this too often can give PTSD like symptoms

Pressing this too often can give PTSD like symptoms

This army cleaning the internet for first worlders is suffering pretty serious casualties.  Understandably, people watching sex all day become desensitized to it.  Most of these workers quit this job between 3 to 5 months after starting.  And the visions haunt many content moderators long after they leave the job.  People using kittens as bait for sharks, people setting animals on fire, child abuse and abusive and violent sex literally flood into various social media platforms, often being posted by proud perpetrators.

But what is disturbing about most of the many recent articles on this topic is that the commentators simply throw up their hands and say there is no other solution than this growing suffering army.  The NPR story especially ended with this hopeless approach. [With the recent Slate article as a notable exception to this trend.]

If verified, they ought to do something more than just pull the image.

If verified, they ought to do something more than just pull the image.

In fact, there are numerous fixes.  Slate recommends law enforcement be called in, but i think there is a better way.  You could simply track the number of flagged posts someone has on their Facebook or other social media site, if they get over 3 deemed inappropriate posts you write them a “Cease and Desist” letter, if they don’t you ban them.

We have a created a system where a misplaced value has been placed “freedom of speech” in the form of you can put up what ever you like.  But then we will review it and pull it down if we don’t like it.  But don’t worry we will not make you in any way responsible for their depraved content you post.  I find this particularly messed up, if you consider that a month back Facebook was demanding members use their birth names.  But it is unwilling to say “you can’t post beheading video’s on this family friendly site”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of the Diamond Album

“The music industry is in free fall” my pop star brother said to me after the last show of his i saw.  And by a collection of measures this appears true.

You have likely heard of gold and platinum records, representing 500K and 1 million albums sold respectively.  But not many people have heard of diamond albums, which represent 10 platinum records or 10 million albums sold.  And you are not likely to hear much about them, because they are almost extinct.

One of my personal favorite diamond album winners.

One of my personal favorite diamond album winners.

In it’s endless listing of things, Wikipedia lists the 115 or so diamond albums of all times.  It reads a bit like a classic rock who’s who.  The Beatles and Led Zepplin and Garth Brooks does quite well. Madonna, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel and the Backstreet Boys all have a couple each.  But the partial proof of my brothers claim is that there is only one diamond album in the last decade, it is Adele’s 21 and it is dead last on the list.

The last diamond album ever?

The last diamond album ever?

But don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about the income of rock stars.  Capitalism takes care of it’s own.  In an article called “Digital music sales are in free fall, as Spotify does to iTunes what iTunes did to CDs”   The article notes:

Good news: The switch from downloading to streaming likely won’t devastate industry revenues like the shift from physical albums to digital downloads did. Despite the accelerating rise of streaming over the past few years, annual US music revenues have held steady at around $7 billion since 2009. That year, traditional purchasing made up 95 percent of total US revenue, compared to only 79 percent last year.

Of course, stopping the bleeding is cold comfort to artists and other industry stakeholders faced with low royalty payments from streaming music services. But while it’s true that the revenue generated from one stream is far lower than the revenue generated by a digital download, that may not matter. Many believe the market for paid music subscriptions is set to explode, particularly on a global scale.

What is really going on here is that services like Spotify and Pandora (and even YouTube) are making it easier to get the music you want by either listening to/viewing ads (which pay artists) or paying the service (which also pay artists) than trying to figure out how to steal it from the labyrinth tubes of the interwebs.

spotify

And while  it is far from played out which type of service will dominate (with social networking solutions like SoundCloud representing a different type of solution) i tend to agree with the upbeat conclusion of the earlier sited article.

So from this perspective, the death of downloads, despite the fact that their payout is higher per-unit than streaming, may not kill the music industry at all. On the contrary, it may resurrect it for the first time in over a decade.

 

 

An opportunity for your dark green friend

Perhaps there is this type of person in your life, they are unusually principled, comfortable with hard work and they likely think most people are not going far enough to personally work on saving the environment.  They might have principal objections to flying, a vegan diet or live off the grid.  People and groups which adopt these reasonable, but oft seen as extreme positions i sometimes refer to as “dark green“.  I worked in a Czech dark green groups office.  It was many floors of steps to walk up, i did not know for 3 years that there was an elevator in the building.   You know the type.

Living Energy Farm is an ambitious and challenging project.  Essentially preparing for a post petroleum world, while it can still be done relatively comfortably.  However they are using a prefigurative approach, in which we model the practices which will be used in the resource-scarce future.  This means lots of things by hands, living closer to the seasons and nightfall, and thinking about how to reduce one’s impact seriously.

Below is Living Energy Farms latest Newsletter.

21st century camp fire

21st century camp fire

Living Energy Farm
July, August, September 2014 Newsletter

Living Energy Farm Needs You!

Have you ever thought about helping Living Energy Farm? Well, now we have a warm, dry place for you to stay. After the relentless cold and wet of last winter, facing the prospect that our project could come to a halt this winter, we worked with our supporters to gain the use of a house in the town of Louisa, one mile from LEF. (We call the house Magnolia, in honor of the massive Magnolia tree in the yard.) This will allow us to keep the project moving through the coming cold months. If you have any carpentry or mechanical skills, that’s great. If not, we can still use your help. Now we can offer you a warm bed. Much better than a tent in winter!

We are, in all honesty, stretched pretty thin right now. With Debbie and Alexis expecting their new baby any time now [Nikita has been born and both mom and kid are healthy - Paxus] we are trying to bring in the harvest, keep construction moving, and take care of the daily necessities of life. In our last newsletter, we put out a call for support. The response was tremendous. We have had numerous people come by and pitch in. That has been a huge help! Now with Magnolia in place, we can support more people through the winter. We have a lot to learn from each other. Consider giving us a visit! If we are slow to communicate, be patient. We have our hands pretty full.

Barn Raising, post petroleum style

Barn Raising, post petroleum style

Earthheart

Our main house at LEF, Earthheart, is coming along. We have it “dried in,” meaning the roof, windows, doors, and sheathing are done, so the building can go through the winter without damage. Thanks to some glorious volunteer crews from our local Louisa Baptist Church and the APO Service Fraternity of UVA, the first coat of exterior stucco is largely done. The interior framing is complete. Most of the wiring for our DC electrical system is done. We still need to do some plumbing, and get the ductwork in place for the solar heating system. Once those utilities are in place, we can put in the ceiling, and the strawbales, then push to completion! We will have a strawbale workshop sometime in the next few months. We will post a note to our lists when that time comes.

Seeds

Our seed harvest is almost finished for the year. This year our crops included corn, okra, watermelons, peppers, squash, and eggplant. We have “contracts” for each of these crops. These contracts are a non-binding agreements we make with the seed companies to produce a certain amount of seed. We will make almost all of our contracts this year, and we will have a significant surplus of some crops/ seeds.

Right livelihood, close to the earth

Right livelihood, close to the earth

This year we also contracted with seed companies to do variety trials of sweet corn and tomatoes. A variety trial consists of growing many different varieties (usually a few dozen) under identical conditions to compare yield, flavor, disease/insect resistance, and other factors. Our trials included many heirloom favorites, a few hybrids, and some new varieties coming from open-pollinated plant breeders across the country. Variety trials are a new and exciting line of work for us. They are the first step in the research and development of the best quality open pollinated varieties for organic conditions in our area. We are excited about pursuing this work in more depth next year, and maybe doing some breeding work as well, in cooperation with our friends at Common Wealth Seed Growers (www.commonwealthseeds.com).

Persimmons
We started picking our first cultivated fruits from trees we grafted on the land just 3 years ago. The photo is of Rosa, our youngest member, holding Yates persimmons. The Ruby persimmons also made a good handful of fruit this year, though they are not ripe yet. Yummy!

People’s Climate March — New York City

Several of us from LEF went to New York City to attend to the People’s Climate March on Sept 21. (Lovely train ride.) We tried to get near the front of the march to hand out flyers and talk to people as they marched by, but we never found the front of the march. After many hours of handing our flyers and talking to people, we never saw the end of the march. Any guesses about number of people attending can only be guesses. Manhattan was swarmed by protesters. One of our supporters in the city made us a beautiful banner and sandwich boards. (I wore one that said “I am Building a Community that Runs Without Fossil Fuel.) A LOT of people were interested in our project. We conducted more than a half dozen interviews with independent film makers, handed our flyers, and spoke to hundreds of people.

PeoplesClimateMarch-balloon.jpg.650x0_q85_crop-smart

The march was huge, diverse, impassioned — a beautiful display of the desire for a better world. As throngs of students, religious groups, and countless organizations chanting slogans about ending fossil fuel dependency passed by, I was deeply struck by how little understanding exists among the public of exactly what that means. After the march, numerous commentators have made the point that while it is was clear what the march was opposed to, it was not clear what it was in favor of. We feel like LEF is a answer to many of the problems caused by fossil fuel, and that is not a small matter. But we cannot expect important truths to magically transmit themselves. Corporations sell their products by communicating in multiple medias at the same time. We have to do something similar — keep talking about our important truths, over and over again. The most important thing you can do is to start taking your own life in the direction of fossil fuel sobriety, and talking to your friends about it. If we can help you do that, let’s see what we can teach each other. Life without fossil fuel is not hard, but we have to show people. We have to convince them. We will have to keep working on that for a long time to come.

Living Energy Farm is a project to build a demonstration farm, community, and education center in Louisa County that uses no fossil fuels. For more information see our website www.livingenergyfarm.org, or contact us at livingenergyfarm@gmail.com. Donations are tax deductible.

Community Matchmaking – Oct 18th Brooklyn

If we are honest with ourselves, we are just guessing.  Guessing what it will take to start new communities and especially what it will take to start new income sharing communities in NYC.  What we do know is that we are making lots of friends and allies and there are a bunch of people who are willing to help, or listen and consider these wild schemes.

We know that there are not many other groups who are doing the community promotional work we are doing, and the handful of events we have organized since the beginning of the year seem to have had a disproportionate effective – jump starting forming communities which were stalled in their launch, recruiting new people to existing NYC communities, deep advising and support for communities which are going through restructuring.

community-services

It is not the work we thought we were going to be doing, but it is quite satisfying and important work.  [The current Point A collective has decided not to chase the much hyped “sharing economy” as our Plan B if we can’t start new communities soon]

What we are guessing this month is Community Matchmaking is the trick.  We have not yet figured out if we are going to do a speed dating-like thing – or just stick to the more conventional “meet the communities” open market place of projects (after each gives a one minute self reflective presentation or some other format).

Speed-dating-night

We are returning to the BUZ on Saturday Oct 18th to network, educate, discuss and debate intentional communities in the New York City metro area.  We are hoping to hit at several different aspects of community life including: children/families. supporting activism, enabling sustainable living, sharing work and living space.

And we are looking for presenters (though we already have some in-city ringers lined up) for workshops.  And of course, we are especially seeking seekers.  People who do not yet have  community but are seeking it are encouraged to attend.

If you think you are going to come then please RSVP on Facebook (if you have not already dropped out of FB).

SONY DSC

The BUZ is a very big space, come share it with us.

Further Event Information:

This is a networking and educational event for people who are looking for intentional community or are forming new ones as well as residential communities seeking new members. People interested in supporting collectives in the city, but not necessarily living at one, are also welcome.

A collection of workshops and interactive events will assist participants in finding allies and guides to living more collectively. We understand how difficult it is to live cooperatively in and around the city. Yet there are important examples and opportunities for people interested in activism, sustainability, collective child care and education and shared living and working spaces.

Current Format

10 to noon Pot Luck Brunch – informal discussion and networking
12:30 to 6PM Workshops, community presentations, structured networking.

This event is hosted by the Point A project (see http://www.FromPointA.org)

Cost: Sliding Scale $5 to $10 – no one refused for lack of funds.

October is Umbrella Revolution

The pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong have been labeled by an excited mainstream media “The Umbrella Revolution”, despite the organizers distaste for the name.  They say they do not want a full revolution and they are a civil disobedience movement.  But as this month may well show, they have every capacity to become a major transformative effect on totalitarian mainland China.

If you have never been to Hong Kong it is a bit hard to describe.  I was there for a week in 1991.  It was the first place i saw someone talking on two cell phones at the same time.  Even over 20 years ago, this model of laissez-faire capitalism was running at 120% of the speed of Manhattan, with neon lights which more than rivaled it.  It is the only developed place that i have been which has virtually no zoning controls.  Sky rises host hair salons beside meat packing facilities beside student hostels.  But for over a century it has been an occupied land, first by the British who installed their provincial governors, then by the Chinese who want to continue to control the slate of candidates for governor in the 2017 elections, the first elections since independence in 1997.

One of many logos for the Umbrella Revolutions

It is called the Umbrella Revolution for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is a collection of groups working together, starting with the Occupy Central with Peace and Love group, which was originally mostly academics and students.  The second is that protesters have been using umbrellas to hold back both the seasonal rains and the pepper spray of the police.

Size matters - transformative protests, their fraction of youth and number

Size matters – transformative protests, their fraction of youth and number

One of the questions that rolls through the minds of some activists is “How powerful is the Occupy name?”  My personal impression is that it is quite valuable, especially if you consider anyone dedicated to non-violence can use it.  Besides the current important protests in Hong Kong (partly organized by Occupy Central) there are numerous other Occupy affiliated groups doing all manner things.  One of my personal favorites is “Strike the Debt” which has purchased at cut rates student loans, which just paid slight me over $100K to cancel over $2 million in US student debt.  I’ve written about the San Francisco’s Occupy Housing which reclaims foreclosed properties for the original tenants.

The mainstream media often dismisses the Occupy movement as failed and chaotic.  What is actually true is that Occupy has inspired actions around the world, some of which are collapsing repressive regimes.  Let’s hope the Umbrella Revolution can wrestle control from the plutocrats in Beijing.

For poor weather and bad police

For poor weather and bad police

Crowds swelled to over 100K people despite the often challenging weather and challenging reprisals.

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