Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I stumbled across a delightful blog by a Chinese ex-pat partially educated in and now living/working in the US. Inside-out China is a wonderfully written and diverse blog that I highly suggest to anyone who wants to learn more about this ancient country, which is now rising toward becoming the world's primary super-power, through the mind of a wise daughter of China (and several interesting commenters).
I am making specific mention of her blog today in order to suggest the reading of two recent posts. "Questionable Teachers and Bewildered Parents" and "Run Away Students and Good Old Teachers" are conversations with her nephew, Doggy, and his friend who are 15 year olds still living in China. I think these are insightful conversations which show certain similarities to what is being seen here in North America.
That being said, most every post on this blog is philosophically inspirational, and often highly informative.
Do have a look.
Peace and comfort.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
“There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarians should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays); it is demonstrably inefficient and in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and school teachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific. The old Jesuits’ boast that, if they were given the schooling of the child, they could answer for the man’s religious opinions, was a product of wishful thinking. And the modern pedagogue is probably rather less efficient at conditioning his pupils’ reflexes than were the reverend fathers who educated Voltaire. The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an “iron curtain” between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. But silence is not enough. If persecution, liquidation and the other symptoms of social friction are to be avoided, the positive sides of propaganda must be made as effective as the negative. The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call “the problem of happiness” - in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude. Without economic security, the love of servitude cannot possibly come into existence; for the sake of brevity, I assume that the all-powerful executive and its managers will succeed in solving the problem of permanent security. But security tends very quickly to be taken for granted. Its achievement is merely a superficial, external revolution. The love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies. To bring about that revolution we require, among others, the following discoveries and inventions. First, a greatly improved technique of suggestion - through infant conditioning and, later, with the aid of drugs, such as scopolamine. Second, a fully developed science of human differences, enabling government managers to assign any given individual to his or her proper place in the social and economic hierarchy. (Round pegs in square holes tend to have dangerous thoughts about the social system and to infect others with their discontents.) Third (since reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays), a substitute for alcohol and the other narcotics, something at once less harmful and more pleasure-giving than gin or heroin. And fourth (but this would be a long-term project, which it would take generations of totalitarian control to bring to a successful conclusion) a foolproof system of eugenics, designed to standardize the human product and so to facilitate the task of the managers. In Brave New World this standardization of the human product has been pushed to fantastic, though not perhaps impossible, extremes. Technically and ideologically we are still a long way from bottled babies and Bokanovsky groups of semi-morons. But by A.F. 600, who knows what may not be happening? Meanwhile the other characteristic features of that happier and more stable world - the equivalents of soma and hypnopaedia and the scientific caste system - are probably not more than three or four generations away. Nor does the sexual promiscuity of Brave New World seem so very distant. [Let me remind you this was written in 1946.] There are already certain American cities in which the number of divorces is equal to the number of marriages. In a few years, no doubt, marriage licenses will be sold like dog licenses, good for a period of twelve months, with no law against changing dogs or keeping more than one animal at a time. As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.
“All things considered it looks as though Utopia were far closer to us than anyone, only fifteen years ago, could have imagined. Then, I projected it six hundred years into the future. Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us within a single century. That is, if we refrain from blowing ourselves to smithereens in the interval. Indeed, unless we choose to decentralize and to use applied science, not as the end to which human beings are to be made the means, but as the means to producing a race of free individuals, we have only two alternatives to choose from: either a number of national, militarized totalitarianisms, having as their root the terror of the atomic bomb and as their consequence the destruction of civilization (or, if the warfare is limited, the perpetuation of militarism); or else one supra-national totalitarianism, called into existence by the social chaos resulting from rapid technological progress in general and the atomic revolution in particular, and developing, under the need for efficiency and stability, into the welfare-tyranny of Utopia. You pays your money and you takes your choice.”It seems Mr. Huxley felt as I do regarding the implications of not choosing a life of responsible freedom. Looking around the world today, I maintain that this is the most important decision facing humanity right now.
May we make it wisely.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
During WW1 and 2, many Russian people survived through winter by keeping chickens which were fed carragana peas they had harvested the previous autumn. It turns out carraganas are soil-beneficial too, being a nitrogen fixer. So not only am I looking at integrating it into my orchard shelterbelt, I am now trying to figure out the best way to integrate them into my mom's laying hen operation as well. Obviously we'll look at harvesting the pods for winter feed, but I also hope that planting them wisely in the large coop should allow the birds greater access to the outside in winter.
One of my first summer jobs was actually clearing a thick hedge on some property where the owner was going to build a larger house. I can attest to the fact that this is a HARD job, but it does suggest that the wood has light structural capabilities. I suspect that with some effort, one could grow some lovely fences or chicken coops or whathaveyou. These shrubs have landscaping potential outside of hedging too, since they make great weeping trees. My mom has one in her yard garden and its quite a lovely little thing. The one concern both in hedging and landscaping is that these are a very hardy shrub, quick to grow in marginal soil and with little rain...therefore they spread quite happily if one does not harvest or at least clear pods.
So, if you or someone you know is considering getting rid of their carragana hedge, maybe re-consider or have a conversation with them about doing the same. They're a beneficial little tree, if a bit prickly.
Peace and comfort.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Back then (the early 80's), ecological concerns were still primarily scoffed at so even if my farming family had possessed the time to go looking for local support, it is unlikely there would have been much to find. Those neighbors who were contacted had various reasons for not actively supporting the efforts, but I believe most just didn't see as it affected them so the ramifications did not really sink in...no pun intended. As might be expected, these efforts were for naught and little but lip service was ever paid to the situation. It is my understanding that since then, my family continued to request that water and soil tests be done, as well as voicing concerns about the amount of plastic waste allowed to blow into the lake and onto our land. No tests were ever done.
Just this last winter I took part in a local town hall meeting hosted by the County. At this meeting I asked about any intention the County might have into looking at preventing waste from blowing out of the landfill. The response was too pathetic to be funny. I was told that ever since the province allowed them to build vertically (ie a big garbage and dirt mound) there was no longer anything they could really do to prevent some waste from blowing out. I was then assured that the County periodically sent cleaning crews out to tidy the immediate area. I had not intended to inspire laughter from the rest of the community members when I suggested that they might want to check if these crews ever actually showed up.
Does this look like a site that has been cleared?
But back to the original point of this post...like I said, although requested several times, no soil or water table tests were ever done on our adjacent land nor, to my knowledge, water tests on the marsh-lake itself. Just yesterday however, less than 3 months after finalization of the sale of our land, guess what happens?
You got it, the County was out to do soil tests on our...oh right, I mean their land. We get to farm it for another 3 years so I guess I can be forgiven for still calling it ours.
I'm going to hold back from getting too confrontational about this. For one thing, my energy is better spent elsewhere. There may also be a chance to work with others in the community, and the County itself, to ensure that the land is as naturally used as possible. Perhaps there may even be the chance to continue to lease a portion of it should my hemp dreams become reality.
Given my nature though, I am sure going to have to work hard to hold my tongue.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Luckily I had stumbled across Beekeeping for Beginners page at the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website as I was searching for an Alberta apiary supplier. It was there that I learned of the Alberta Bee Act (insert ominous music here). Nothing too dramatic however. The biggest reason I wanted to mention it here, is to draw attention to two big parts of the Act. The first is that Albertans must obtain permission before importing bees or beekeeping equipment. The second is that ALL Albertan beekeepers must register the land description (title) where any colonies are kept. I`ve not looked into fee structures but I doubt the fees are prohibitive. I would just hate to see someone get fined for not knowing they needed to follow these protocols.
Albertans with interest in beekeeping might also find the Alberta Beekeepers Association to be an important resource.
In order to offer some additional inspiration, I have included a video from the Rawmodel Youtube channel. I think many will find his permaculture video offerings to be very enjoyable viewing...perhaps particularly those readers of a female persuasion. I know I find his energy to be quite contagious. Definitely the sort of person I hope to be able to work with.
In keeping to the theme of Chickens and Bees I thought I would link a video which may be helpful to anyone considering keeping chickens in towns. It`s a nicely designed chicken tractor which allows for moving the chickens from place to place so as to avoid soil damage due to overuse. My one concern is that it remains a wee bit small for more than 4 or 5 chickens, but it could easily be made somewhat longer.
And just in case anyone doesn`t think chickens are awesome...watch this:
Happy Spring everyone.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
So for anyone who has not already had the opportunity to see this, I am suggesting a short video series called Urban Permaculture Strategies. This is a fast but eye opening and educational documentary (in a series which can be seen with many other great presentations at this Youtube channel) by Bill Mollison, whom many call the Father of Permaculture.
There is no embed capability for this video so I could only include the link, but that is just fine as the hosting channel also linked has a plethora of permaculture videos.
Since climate change and freshwater depletion are becoming such dangerous issues, I thought I would link to the Dryland Permaculture Strategies video as well. There is some absolutely astonishing stuff there. I had no idea that part of the New Deal in the 30's were efforts to engineer and activate solutions to the desertification of the western US. I'd like to know why prison inmates aren't engaged in this kind of activity all over the west. Surely this is a good and productive way to pay their debt to society...and learn productive skills.
I believe these videos show that we really can take steps to repair the damage from our misdeeds, including freshwater depletion and any anthropogenic climate change, although it will take time, effort and good local planning.
In this presentation, psychologist Barry Shwartz looks at the importance of balancing intelligence with wisdom. In watching this video, I was struck again and again by the similarities between Shwartz's offering and what I have been attempting to share.
I will be sharing this video with many friends and family, hoping that it helps to explain what I have been ranting about for all these years.
Please do watch and, I hope, enjoy.
Monday, March 16, 2009
"A Farm For the Future" is a 50 minute look at the future of agriculture, primarily in Britain. I found this film to be particularly interesting, as the film-maker reminds me a great deal of myself. She grew up on a very traditional farm, and was encouraged to get an education and move on to a "better" kind of employment...better meaning higher standard of living with less backbreaking labor. She also has come to a point in her life where she realized the quality of life that comes from agrarian life. And she as well has realized that Peak Oil means our Green Revolution style of agriculture, which is completely dependent on fossil fuels, has a very limited future. So this short film documents her first few steps towards finding what, if any, type of agriculture will sustain our population into the future.
I was delighted to see that the solution seems to lie within permaculture, which is the direction I am intent upon with the family farm. The difficulty here is that my location is nowhere near as climate ideal as southern England. Our winters here are much longer, much colder and usually come with several feet of snow. It is my belief, however, that this just means we need to discover a different kind of permaculture. We will need to do far more year-round green-housing, for one thing.
As with all things, I believe the answer lies in balance. We will need to balance our population in general, but more importantly, we will need to find a better balance between urban population and rural. We will need to balance food production between rural and urban settings as well. We need to develop a better mix of human labor, animal labor and fuel-based labor; all this comes down to a better balance between the natural world and technology. We will need to balance our diets. I will not argue for totally vegetarian diets, but the truth is that westerners eat far more meat than is healthy (for the physical labor they do, especially). We would also get better dietary benefit from hemp-seed cereals than from the traditional wheat, oats, barley OR soy with lower ecological impact.
Again, I believe agriculture is going to have to shift from family based, to group or community based. No longer will so many be able to get by on one skill such as truck driving or writing software, for example. Certainly specialized skills or interests will remain important; we will always need teachers, doctors, veterinarians, engineers, etc, but more important will be flexibility and adaptability...and a willingness to help where needed.
I am quite sure than anyone who comes to this site would find this film to be a well-spent hour sure to lead to hours of thought later on.
Peace and comfort to all.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Here is another article on another potentially serious hazard to large-scale industrial agriculture. Seems as though large-scale pig farming may lead to a nasty form of MRSA or "flesh eating bacteria".
Today was the physical release date of Alex Jones' new "shockumentary", The Obama Deception. I had a watch on Google video earlier today, and I am going to embed the video to this post as I think it contains some very important information. I am not going to spend time doing any sort of in-depth review, but I do urge people to spend the couple hours seeing a bit clearer picture of what this guy seems to be about. I will warn everyone that this presentation involves some anthropogenic climate change denial, but that does not discount the damning footage that is contained throughout. I do wish the global warming issues had been presented differently, although I agree that the international banking/carbon tax connection needs to be recognized and discussed. I also wish there had been less Alex Jones in this, but he does include a pretty decent End the Fed speech, and it IS his production. At the end of the day, I do believe this presentation offers significant evidence to be very wary of His presidency...some of which I have mentioned before.
Anyway, here it is:
Here is an interesting summary of a recent academic discussion between ex-VP Walter Mondale, and journalist Seymour Hersh, in which Hersh briefly speaks of his upcoming book which outlines domestic spying and an ongoing covert military operation that he described as an "executive assassination ring". The world's old friend Henry Kissinger comes up in their discussion too. That bugger is all over the place still.
Back to longing for spring.
Peace and comfort to all.
Friday, March 13, 2009
We all know that the world is facing a food crisis and, hopefully, an economic restructuring. Canada has also been trying to deal with several flagging export concerns, one of the largest being the lumber industry. Timber quality has been decreasing as well, since many forests being harvested are now second or third growth on land which has never had a chance to recuperate its nutrients. Thankfully, pulp requirements are decreasing rapidly as well, as paper becomes less and less used.
Since we also know of the plethora of uses for industrial hemp, including seeming to be the most dietary beneficial of grain seeds, it is my suggestion that we should be encouraging lumber workers into industrial hemp-based agri-permaculture. Many areas left open by forestry could have the soil replenished through organic hemp farming. This supply could fuel domestic and export manufacturing of numerous hemp based products, as with the growing Manitoba hemp food industry. Workers now out of work in the oil industry could provide seasonal labor as well, especially with a return to manual labor including draft animals (depletion is likely to make this necessary). Similar undertakings could be made in other areas as well, since hemp is such a resilient organism.
It is my belief that such an impetus might also spawn research (collegiate or localized) into areas such as carbon framed agricultural implements (carbon sequestration for the carbon fad), and small scale biofuel or gas production using any excess waste products. During slave times, for example, some slaves developed technologies which lessened the work required by their fellow slaves, as written about in "Uncle Tom's Cabin". In a free system, this should continue to be the case and is likely to increase, although perhaps in a limited fashion due to depletion.
Is climate change likely to reduce the amount of areas where this kind of agriculture can be accomplished? Perhaps, but there will also be another benefit of this sort of activity. Hemp is a very bushy plant with broad leaves, therefore processing great amounts of carbon dioxide and emitting large amounts of oxygen for us to breathe. If water conservation efforts are undertaken, transpiration can help to regulate rainfall activity as well.
The goal here is not to replace the economic activity of the flagging lumber industries. It is to develop a new kind of economic activity to replace that failing one. It is to develop sustainable industry balanced with life, using responsible planning and wealth/resource distribution. It is not likely remove much of the danger facing our world, but it is a large step in the right direction...one that should have been started 30 years ago. It may mean that more survive the coming struggles, with the proper balanced mindset.
Better late than never.
Blows my mind that it takes Comedy Central to air a show that speaks some fricking common sense reality. AND it's often funny!
Here is the full, uncut interview. ** Warning** Some well used foul language.
Update: No more direct video link, but here is a link to the Comedy Network copy.
Peace and comfort to all, except the greedy power-hungry manipulating bastards.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
This is a quote from Ajay Kanchan, directory of a new documentary "Poison on the Platter". This new doc is a new look at GM foods and their incubation in India, as this article outlines well. I've not had a chance to see the doc yet, but I'll be keeping an eye for it on Google video. Here is a clip:
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The first are some powerful words of wisdom by Theresa of Pondering the Myriad Things. I think people should check out her blog so I am only posting a link here. Please take my word for it and check it out.
Wandering around this evening, I came across something at Matters of Integrity which floored me:
Monday, March 09, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
This article reports the recent General Mills decision to forgo using milk from cows which have received rBGH (rBST), recombinant growth hormone, injections. (Good for them, only took 15 years of knowing how harmful it is.)
The article also details a significant push in the US Health Care industry to utilize natural food products and to support local, organic agriculture. Hmm note to self, I wonder how much quicker some patients would recover with plenty of hempseed derived food in their diets.
On a related note, in trying to determine whether Health Canada still has a ban on rBGH I came across this article from 1999, where it is reported that the Codex Alimentarius Commission "ruled unanimously in favor of the 1993 European moratorium on Monsanto's genetically engineered hormonal milk (rBGH)." So now I am wondering whether this remains the case. Certainly one would hope that a UN entity which claims to have public health as its highest priority would uphold such a ban, but considering the lengths to which some of these companies will go...
Oh well, the Yoplait story is still good news I think.
While I am on this positive-thinking track, here`s another one. Currently, in our concrete jungles, rainforest falls on the concrete, is directed into sewage systems and primarily ends up running straight into rivers and streams. This process increases erosion and loss of top soil. What if rainfall was directed in holding lagoons, designed to allow this water to filter back into the water table and for light irrigation use? Periodically, sediment could be extracted from these lagoons, dried out and reintroduced as top soil where needed. Also, brush which favors wetlands, such as willow, could be grown and harvested for natural gas and hot water production via composting, or for other biomass uses. Sewage systems already in place could be re-directed for this purpose as people shift to compost toilets, removing the solid human waste from the wastewater streams.
Admittedly, its not a new idea, I know it is being used in communities purposely designed for sustainability. However, I am not sure that it is really being looking at by as many existing communities as should be the case, especially in areas of decreasing rainfall. My suggestion is to get neighbours thinking about it and try to build it into a viable local option. As we shift from an economic model of waste and constant growth, this is likely to provide many sustainable business opportunities.
Just a thought.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
However, I am especially recommending this past Friday's show which includes a fantastic interview with the authors of the new book; "Water: The Final Resource". This interview is a scary but eye-opening update about the current freshwater and rainfall situation, as well as an informative climatary discussion. One of the highlights (?) was a forecast of severe water shortages across much of the northern hemisphere, and a massive food crisis settling into place by early 2010.
Also on the climate front, the show's 4th segment includes an interview with leading climatologist, Evelyn Browning Garriss. This guest discusses global climate cycles, freshwater and rain depletion issues, and the significant increase in ice mass in the Arctic last winter. Personally, I think we will see another such increase after this current winter. Unfortunately, frozen at the poles or salty in the oceans, little of this water will be available to drink. Anyway, another fascinating listen.
Friday, March 06, 2009
So I find myself writing a lot more, but I know many posts get somewhat erratic. I hope everyone will bear with me...and check back. I believe self-sufficiency is of significant importance, but I also understand that it is a waste of time without remaining as aware as possible of happenings outside of wherever we happen to be.
On the plate today, it seems that His Presidency has been summoned by Her Highness. It still blows my mind when very intelligent friends and acquaintances argue that the British Royalty no longer holds any real power in the world. I respect their opinions, I am just concerned that sometimes the opinions are not as informed as they really should be. I have commented briefly on this subject before, but I will state a little more firmly now...that I think the time is swiftly approaching when people will realize that this bloodline retains far more than simple figurehead status, and the power accompanying this status. My worry is that it will end up being a very painful and destructive realization.
Since I have been commenting so much on the apparent global control structure being put into place since WWII, but especially over the last 20-30 years, I thought this was a particularly enlightening (and frightening) article to stumble across. The article basically outlines a very serious attempt, by "Elites", to establish a global propaganda network in order to assist in implementing global governance. Thank goodness I had to read "1984" in high school. However, the number of everyday people that I see, who think this kind of thing is just fine, is as astounding to me as the audacity of those trying to implement it. I'm not sure if they just don't see how easily it could go VERY bad, Nazi Germany bad, or if they hope that supporting it will earn them high enough status to not have to worry. Either way, I suppose that it helps to show who to watch out for.
On a lighter note, I am hoping to unveil a new blog (and hopefully, website) very soon. This blog will be following a new business prospect about which I am very excited. I'm holding off with the the new blog mostly just because I don't want to jinx the opportunity. This will be marking quite a different career change for me, which I will explain as part of the unveiling. I will still be posting here at SoapBoxTech, but I will likely have less time for it.
Peace and comfort to all.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I guess this is why FEMA seems to be stockpiling millions of poly (coffin) vaults all over the US:
To me it just looks like a nice step towards acclimating Canadians to troop patrols on our streets. I will be the first to agree that something needs to be done about the growing gang violence in Vancouver, for example, but haven't we yet learned that Drug Wars don't actually accomplish anything other than increasing criminal profit and overall violence? Many of us may have, but for those in control a War on Drugs obviously remains too profitable for both sides, both in terms of money and in terms of control.
I say it again, we HAVE to start waking up and helping to wake up our neighbors. We HAVE to start accepting active, responsible, considerate lives. We have to start rebuilding our local communities, getting to know each other...not to pry and spy on each other but to foster a balance between individualism and community. Only this balance will save us and our world.