The Empty American Street

The Arab Street (this one happens to be in Edinburgh, Scotland) is thriving. The American Street, a right-of-way for righting wrongs and warning of peril? Not so much. (Photo by baaker2009/Flickr)

The Arab Street — a slangy term for popular opinion and activism in that part of the world — is brimming with energy and resolve, it is, as they say, kicking ass and taking names in this amazing Arab spring. The American Street is empty, and it is still winter there. Continue reading

Industrial Food: Hazardous to your Species

Mm, mmm -- wait a minute! That's not just soup. (Photo by turtlemom4bacon/flickr)

It wasn’t a scientific study, just an exercise to test methods for a possible future study, yet its findings were so stunning and conclusive they have become the subject of widespread discussion and a major industrial damage-control effort. The sample, by common research standards, was infinitesimally small: five families, comprising ten adults and ten children. The duration was similarly minute: three days. And the methodology was hardly complex: don’t eat any packaged food. The results were amazing. Continue reading

Poll Vaulting into the Abyss

According to a recent poll, most Americans believe in polls. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Part of the reason that America and the other western democracies are circling the drain with increasing downward velocity is the vicious cycle that has been set up between polls and policy. Aided and abetted by industrial money, this process has done more than any other technique to dumb down the country’s policy discussions and cripple the government’s power to reign in corporate power. Continue reading

Nuclear and Oil: Too Big Not to Fail

This is now a nuclear reactor (Fukushima #2) looks after an event that "no one could have predicted." (Photo by daveeza/Flickr)

Our national subservience to large companies and rich people — our touching (in the sense of pathetic) faith that might makes right — persists in the face of accumulating, dramatic evidence to the contrary, especially with regard to the two worst industrial accidents of the past year, which are among the worst in history. We are like a wife who catches her husband in flagrante delecto and thinks he has a good point when he denies being unfaithful and says, “Who you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Continue reading

California Reaming: Big Ag Trashes Central Valley

First you blame me for global warming cause I get gas. Now you tell me there's crap in your water? (Photo by Gabrielle Gagne)

California’s Central Valley is probably the best example of the past success and imminent failure of industrial agriculture. The signs of the scope and proximity of the failure are accumulating fast, but while the past success has many wealthy fathers, the coming failure is an orphan. Continue reading

The Japan Syndrome: All Radiation, No Light

Entrance to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, now entombed in concrete. Today's Fukushima disaster is not another Chernobyl, but could they together point us to a better way? (Photo by Timm Suess/Flickr)

A plume of radioactive blather has spread around the world from the Japanese nuclear meltdowns, stripped of information and logic (presumably by pre-radiation), seriously affecting the thought processes of millions. The reporting and punditry stimulated by the chaotic failure of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power complex is far more notable for what it does not include that for what it does. And the most astonishing absence of all is the lack of a mention of any rational remedy for the awful risks we have to take to satisfy our insatiable appetite for cheap electricity. I’ll suggest a remedy momentarily, but first a couple of observations about the verbal emissions. And omissions. Continue reading

Come, Apocalypse: Now It’s Peak Coffee

(Photo by Stepheye/Flickr)

Wait a minute. I have accustomed myself to the prospects that, approaching and after the Fall, I will have to give up gasoline, electricity, lettuce in the winter, thermostats, my cell phone, 20-minute showers and even — sob! — the Internet. I can handle that. I can stay home, tend my solar panels, grow my own food and cut wood for heat until I’m too hot and tired to take a shower. But Peak Coffee? It’s too much. Continue reading

Industry: Living off the Low-Fat of the Land

If you eat this you will get fat/atherosclerosis/high cholesterol/diabetes/lockjaw and/or you will die. True or false, and why, and according to whom? (Photo by VirtualEm/Flickr)

A brief excursion into dietary “science” shows us why and how industrial science is destroying our world, with our happy acquiesence. By industrial science I mean “science” conducted by people in the employ of industrialists such as Cargill and the Koch brothers, the handful of giant companies that engineer and market the food-like substances that have turned America into a country whose population is at once overweight and undernourished. Continue reading

From China’s Leaders, Intimations of Mortality

A typical scene along the banks of the Yangtze River as China's growth engine redlines. (Photo by eutrophication&hypoxia/Flickr)

Which prominent American government official said the following this week?

  • “The conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today.”
  • “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening environment have become grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.”
  • “We must not any longer sacrifice the environment for the sake of rapid growth and reckless roll-outs, as that would result in unsustainable growth featuring industrial overcapacity and intensive resource consumption.” Continue reading

Digression: A Modest Budget Proposal

If simplistic nostrums can save our government, why not the American family too?

From the new christian scientists now ascendant in the politics of America (well, they have been ascendant most of the time since 1980, but are currently enjoying a new iteration as tea partiers) comes a new theory of government. Just as the Bible is literally true in every respect, and humans co-existed with dinosaurs, and there are no such things as evolution, or human-caused climate change, or an end to oil, now comes another self-evident principle to guide our nation. (Self-evident because outside the statement itself, there is no existing evidence or even indication of its truth.) Continue reading