Sunday, December 31, 2006

So long 2006, hello New Year!

It's time to reflect upon the passing of time one more time!

The image shown here is part of a drawing I did a long time ago. It pictures a world teeming with humans and on fire with war and other earth-shattering events. I find it utterly mystifying that religious people wish for this to actually happen, convinced they will be spared the flames and the suffering. And with that cheery thought --

Here's my list of memorable events from the year of 2006.

Top music:

Ray Davies' long awaited solo recording is released. Other People's Lives is a masterpiece! No kidding -- I'm not biased, just thrilled to have this new collection of songs to play over and over!

Storm Large dominated Rockstar: Supernova until they could no longer deal with her super talent and vote her off after her brilliant and tear-provoking rendition of Wish You Were Here. She's going into the studio in Jan/Feb to begin work on a new album. Whooo! After watching her on Rockstar, I loaded up on Storm Inc: The Calm Years, Storm and the Balls - Vasectomy and Hanging With the Balls.

Donovan in concert, Mansfield Ohio! Mesmerizing!

Bruce Springsteen's Pete Seeger tribute is fantastic and addictive listening. It's great for singing a long on long road trips.

Neil Young's brilliant Living With War Album was one of two major political-cultural events in 2006.

The Other Noteworthy Political-Cultural Event in 2006

Stephan Colbert's show and his performance at the White House Correspendants' Dinner. The man is an amazing peformer. To keep that character going show after show with never a break and always spot on in the moment, ready to hit an improvised response right out of the ball park -- that is performance art, in its greatest manifestation yet! The White House dinner performance before the Emperor and his wife with all their Poobahs in attendence and Media Toads swarming and ultimately squirming. That performance marked a huge turnabout that ultimately lead to the 2006 fall election results. Great stuff available still for viewing here.

Atheists Leap Out of the Closet and On to the Best Seller Lists:

"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins (I'm just starting this one and it grabs the reader right away!)

"Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris (responding to religionists who objected to his book, The End of Faith.)

"Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
" by Daniel Dennett

And the wonderful video documentary "The God Who Wasn't There."

Green Awareness:

"The Weather Makers" by Tim Flannery puts weather and climate into perspective with the latest scientific findings on planet earth's history of climate change.

"An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore. Whoever gets elected president will want to appoint Al to be Secretary of the Environment.

"The Omnivore's Delight" by Michael Pollan, reviewed here.


On the personal level, this anarchist decided to get political, in a revolutionary act of self-defense! Well, that's how I justify it. I'm still an anarchist at heart and would love nothing better than to be living and participating in an anarcho-syndicalist sustainable-pastoral cooperative. But instead, I'm living in Kenmore, Ohio on a teacher's salary trying to get by and do the right thing.

Having had my gut-wrenched and heart broken in the past over supporting the leftest of the left candidates such as Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, I was utterly shocked that Sherrod Brown won in Ohio this past fall -- despite the fact that I worked as a volunteer on his campaign. Well the times must finally be a chainging! He's got a huge job ahead of him in 2007 and we will be watching and cheering him and his progressive agenda onward.


Here are some things I want to see in 2007:

U$ troops out of Iraq. No surge, no escalation, no more macho posturing. Get some real diplomats on the job and keep Bush pre-occupied with a bunch of hearings on his administrative failures like Katrina and war bunglings.

Universal Health Care -- make it happen. Shaking fist at congress and senate -- get going!

A Public Call to Action on Global Warming. It's time to dig new Victory Gardens for the War on Global Warming. Stop using plastic bags. Avoid buying products in packaging that can't be recycled. Make a list and follow through on daily actions that can cut down carbon release into the atmostphere. Mindfullness is what is needed in the now or there will be no future.

More atheists standing up and calling it like it is. I agree with Sam Harris. It does us no good to pretend religion is harmless. Why waste time on delusional thinking? Don't forget God is for Suckers!

Personal Goals for 2007

My first goal is to finish writing my thesis. It is my winter break task and is going very well, thank you. The first draft in total must be done before going back to school on January 8th.

Continue Blogging. Blogging is not only the daily discipline of writing, it is also the act of reading many other blogs, responding with comments and absorbing new ideas. It is a way of breaking through the ant-heap mentality of life on this earth, reaching out to folks far and near, tuning in and making contact.

Once the thesis is done, I am going to return to my visual art roots and finish a bunch of art works that have accumulated over the years: Unfinished masks, drawings that require coloring, and some new sketches to be made.

Theatrically, I'm very keen on doing some work with Dario Fo and Franca Rame materials and still there is the long held goal of bringing Preservation to a stage in Akron.

So little time to reflect and so much to do! Wishing you all the best for your new year ahead. May you make good progress toward your dreams and deepest ambitions.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sunny Day in Kenmore

Another sunny December day in Kenmore, in the winter that has yet to arrive. Day after day of temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Snow is a distant memory -- we had a slight frosting one day last month. December has been a relief for our heating bills, but January is long and we hope it brings us a proper winter freeze before spring is due to arrive.

It was a good day to avoid television, radio and internet media. I didn't want to read continuing updates on the impending execution of Sadaam Hussein. No matter how you dress 'em up, state executions are just plain gruesome.

Nor am I interested in seeing all the tributes pouring in for Gerald Ford. How low has the status of US president sunk, I ponder, that Ford is suddenly elevated to noble heights for merely being in line to succeed Nixon. I just don't understand why he is now to be praised for pardoning Tricky Dick. My best memories of Gerald Ford are those Saturday Night live sketches with Chevy Chase tripping over whatever was at hand.

Above gulls fly over Summit Lake on a sunny December day.

Below is a close-up of some moss. Nice weather for moss -- it is flourishing all over my garden now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Edwards for President!

John Edwards announced his candidacy for US president in tones that resounded of Sherrod Brown's winning campaign message. It's the new Popuplist Progressive wave that is appealing to so many voters. Health care, end the war, big turn around in energy policies toward sustainability and not relying on middle east oil. Job equity and decent wages.

The Village Green is endorsing anyone who says the above and looks like they have the intelligence and organizational skills to get it done. So far Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards are on message and looking good. I expect more candidates will jump on this progressive trend. People are not just tired of the same old crap, we're ready to pitch in to make good things happen. It's a little glimmer of hope in the usual dark and gloomy world of politics

Edwards has some nifty campaign ideas including getting folks on board who want to work on issues right away instead of waiting for the 2008 election. He's tapping into the DIY activism found in blogs and local progressive grass roots groups. Read more at Buckeye state blog here. Here's a handy link to Edwards' One Corps web portal.

I don't know if Edwards has a MySpace yet, but he got his campaign message out via YouTube.

He's very appealing as are many of the Dems this time around. This is all to our greater good. No matter who ends up winning it, they'll have a very impressive pool to select from to create a new and progressive executive branch. Al Gore should be head of Environmental Challenges, Dennis Kucinich for Secretary of Peace, and put Hilary on as head of Health, Education and Welfare. Obama for vice president or vice versa or any combination of the above mentioned.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

US forced to face effects of global warming

Microdot points out that the White House is going to finally concede that climate change is real. In an AP report today, we find that polar bears are the creatures who reached through the bureaucratic blockade and touched somebody's sensibilites. Maybe one too many pictures of polar bears swimming desperately for solid ice in the middle of a melting polar region?

Face to face with actual evidence, some government workers -- you know, those people we pay with our taxes to take care of our common goods and interests -- have realized that polar bears have to be put on the endangered species list before it is too late. The polar bear population is between 21-25,000 (2001 count) and here is a handy click on map of the polar region, where you can read descriptions of various polar bear populations. For example:

"Kara Sea

This population includes the Kara Sea and overlaps in the west with the Barents Sea population in the area of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya archipelagos. The information for the Kara and Barents Seas, in the vicinity of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, is mainly based on aerial surveys and den counts (Parovshikov 1965, Belikov and Maeteev 1983, Uspenski 1989, Belikov et al. 1991, Belikov and Gorbunov 1991, Belikov 1993). Studies of movements, using telemetry, have been done throughout the area but data to define the eastern boundary are incomplete (Belikov et al. 1998, Mauritzen et al. in press). The population estimate should be regarded as preliminary. Reported harvest activities have been limited to defence kills and an unknown number of illegal kills; these are not thought to be having an impact on the size of the population. However, contaminant levels in rivers flowing into this area and recent information on nuclear and industrial waste disposal raise concerns about the possibility of environmental damage. Recent studies clearly show that polar bears from the Kara Sea have the highest organochlorine pollution levels in the Arctic (Andersen et al. 2001, Lie et al. in press)."

Can we save these beautiful creatures from our own toxic brews and planetary wrecking? Or will polar bears only be viewed in museums?

Photo from: Polar bear diorama at the National Museum of Canada, 1940 (with cubs shot in 1914). Source: Canadian Museum of Nature

Monday, December 25, 2006

Signs of global warming

In the past 24 hours, I've read the following stories:

The growth of holly trees is on the decline.

Brown bears in Spain are no longer hibernating in the winter.

The first inhabited island is now officially under water.

Here by Summit Lake in Akron, Ohio I note that the geese no longer fly south for the winter and that various plants continue to grow in my garden.

Can we even think of saying "Happy" New Year ahead? Perhaps "Get it together in the New Year" might be more appropriate.

James Brown

Gone but always with us courtesy of Youtube:

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A trip to Cleveland's West Side Market

What a great place to shop! Why doesn't Akron have one of these? Seriously, I don't think I can go back to a regular grocery store again. So long Acme. Farewell Giant Eagle. Who needs you and all the petroleum that goes into running your business.

Granted, I'm burning gas to drive to the west side of Cleveland to get to all these goodies, and a great deal of the fruits and veggies on display at the West Side Market come from California and other great distances. However, much as Acme likes to call some of its bigger stores "Fresh Market" Acmes, they'll never be able to equal what I saw today.

The produce aisle formed an exhilerating pallette predominantly composed of greens, yellows, and oranges with browns and creams and reds scattered here and there. Stalls stacked tall with all manner of vegetables, vendors calling out specials and offering samples to prove the quality and freshness of their goods attracted crowds of shoppers.

Signs announced that certain fruits and vegetables were organically grown. One vendor offered me a bag of mixed organic fruit for five dollars. I happily took him up on his offer. I found avacados -- 2 for a dollar. So many lucious items I had to fight my desire to buy more than I needed. Shopping for one is always a striving for economy without waste.

The produce section forms a giant L shape to the rear and side of the market building. In the main shopping market, are a grid of meat markets, bread stalls, dairy and other specialty shops. If I were a meat eater, I would guess this would be the place to find healthy meat. I didn't look too closely, trying to avoid the sight of duck, pheasant and chicken bodies interspersed with hunks of cow and pig flesh. How people can eat sausage is beyond me!

Anyway, I found this very nice UK baked goods shop with a genuine Shephards's Pie for sale. I didn't buy it but I did take a picture of it. I bought a vegetable pastry and a Guiness stout ginger bread.

Another find was a dairy shop that featured local and organic cheeses. I bought some cheddar and pepper jack made in Wisconsin from Grass Point Farms, who use humane animal husbandry and the cattle are grass-fed.

Fresh wild mushroom pasta sounded like a tasty bed to prepare for all those vegetables I'd purchased earlier. One final stop before loading my cloth bags into my vehicle -- to pick up a bunch of flowers.

I'm thinking if we continue to have a globally warmer winter than usual, it might make good sense to shop here twice a month.

Speaking of Shepherd's Pie, what Kinks song has the line:

"What's the point of cracking up all because of Shepherd's pie?"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Night at the Village Green

Winter Break! Two words that gladden my heart! I'm on it -- now! 17 days to de-stress and recharge for the second half of the school year. I don't write about that part of my life here. This blog is a way to put that aside and deal with the rest of the world. An essential mental health activity, perhaps! My work is important and it is all-consuming of time, energy and focus -- I love it very much. But when Winter Break arrives, I am ready for it!

Here's a little tune for the holiday:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma Part 4

The final meal prepared by author Michael Pollan in The Omnivore's Dilemma is hunted and gathered. Upon moving to Northern California, he connects with some folks who still understand the woods and the wild. So Pollan embarks on a pig hunt, becoming the predator in a food chain that starts with oak trees that take energy from the sun to produce acorns which the wild pigs feast upon. He also hunts for mushrooms, adding fungi into the mix.

Pollan gathered cherries in Berkeley and some wild greens from the surrounding hills. He made sourdough bread using yeast from the air itself, which I'd never heard of doing -- simply exposing the dough mixture to air through an open window. The yeast spores are everpresent, apparently.

It was fascinating to contemplate the evolution of the original hunter/gatherer humans, their diets changing as they moved from treetops to savanah and then on to fertile deltas where crops could be grown, and then animals domesticated for consumption. The rise of seed corn as a commodity in the 20th century saw huge increases in the planet's population. By the end of the 20th century, cheap processed food fed the poorest of the poor, while the wealthy began looking for "organics" and "alternative food sources." Pollan hints that of the two species -- corn and homo sapiens, the former may be the real driving force of nature.

One thing is for sure -- there are many more dilemmas involved in eating than one suspects. Most of us engage in rather mindless eating without doing much thinking about the where and the how of the food that is before us. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a must read!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma, Part 3 (the meme)

I've been tagged by Pho, tagged as in "for a meme" a term I had to look up and found that it is something like a chain letter only not linked to any threats of dire fortune if one doesn't keep it going. It's more of a controlled random way of forging blog links, so I don't mind participating one bit -- especially since it turns out to be total serendipity here at the Village Green.

The meme's instructions are:

  1. Grab the book closest to you.
  2. Open to page 123, go down to the 4th sentence.
  3. Post the text of the following 3 sentences on your blog.
  4. Name of the book and the author.
  5. Tag three people of your own.
I'm glad to do this because the book right in front of me is -- as you might expect -- The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It is at hand because I'm about to post my third comment in a row, takin g a look at the Pastoral Grass food chain. Page 123 turns out to be the first page of that section in a chapter called All Flesh is Grass. Here are the three sentences:

"I was tired. I'd spent the afternoon making hay, really just lending a hand to a farmer making hay, and after a few hours in the midday sun hoisting and throwing fifty-pound bales onto a hay wagon, I hurt. We think of grass as soft and hospitable stuff, but once it's been dried in the sun and shredded by machines--once it's become hay--grass is sharp enough to draw blood and dusty enough to thicken lungs." (Omnivore's Dilemma, p 123)

This was my favorite section of the book -- the chapter on Polyface Farm in Virginia. The farm raises chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, rabbits, and pigs, as well as tomatoes, sweet corn, and berries in a unique configuration of animal and crop rotations. This all happens on one hundred acres of pasture plus 450 acres of forest. The guy who runs it calls himself a "grass farmer" and his name is Joe Salatin. A fascinating fellow! But even more so is his way of farming which he deiscribes as a place where animals do most of the work.

Grass farming recognizes that energy comes from the sun and is stored in plant leaves, such as grass, which is consumed by animals who are then consumed by humans. Salatin has observed nature and his farming techniques are like an "intensive rotational dance on the theme of symbiosis. Salatin is the choreographer and the grasses are his verdurous stage."

Basically, he grazes his cows on pasture land then moves them before the cows over graze the grass. Grass will recover its vitality after one clip of cow teeth, but not as well after two or more bites down to the ground. So the cows are constantly moved with portable fencing. After the cows leave one section, a mobile chicken coop is brought in, affectionately known as the "Eggmobile!" Chickens in pens go straight to the cow pies (!) and peck out the grubs and other nasties growing in them. The chicken coops stay for one day and are moved the length of the coop to new ground so that the entire pasture benefits from the chicken manure which supplies the grasses with copious amounts of nitrogen.

The beauty and intricacy of this operation is that it is highly productive without the added costs from antibiotics, wormers, paraciticides, and fertilizers. There is a lot more to it than my brief summation above -- Pollan delves into the nature of grass plants and soil, doing a magnificent job of taking us on a grand tour of the the chain of food and life itself. Pollan spent a week working on the farm, and even participates in the weekly slaughter of chickens for sale. I admire him for his willingness to experience and record things that I could probably never bring myself to do. I know I couldn't kill an animal to eat it, but after reading this chapter -- I began to understand my heritage as a human onmnivore. If I were to become a meat eater once more, I would want link to the chain that had animals who lived their lives on a farm like Polyface.

Oh and tagging this meme far out of the park and on to: Microdot, Nerve Doc, and Kevin.

Joe Finan Dead at 79

I heard this on 1350 Radio Free Ohio on the drive home from work. There's a brief notice on their web page here, which is where I got the picture. They have a gallery of images of Joe broadcasting on his first day. Odd to see a contemporay radio broadcasting booth, as I recall the booth at WCUE-FM back in the good old days of early progressive rock radio in Akron. This new booth looks so sterile and uncluttered.

As for Joe, he only left the air October 26, so that's almost as good as dying with his mic on. There's nothing up at the ABJ yet. While I didn't really care for his show that much, I did listen every day because he was the only local left-wing voice around. I still wish they'd give some air time to someone local, even if it were only a weekend slot or something late at night.

Anyway, sorry to see you go Joe. 79 is pretty young these days.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma, Part 2

Continuing on with Michael Pollan's provocative book about the food chains available to the human species, let's look at what he calls "Big Organic." This food chain markets the word "organic" to consumers with a conscience -- but it is still Agri-biz and monoculture-focused.

An example would be Rose the organic chicken, advertised as free of antibiotics and artificial hormones who are raised with "access to the outdoors," one of federal organic rules. The chickens are raised in long low sheds that have open doors that lead to a grassy yard. The only thing is, the chickens never venture outside even though the doors are open. For their first five weeks, they are kept inside, so they only know being fed and watered indoors. By the time they are five weeks old, their habits are formed and they would be terrified to go out into some strange outdoor environment. And by the way, after 7 weeks -- the chickens are slaughtered. So much for the happy free-range lifestyle for chickens.

Pollan gives us the scoop on the giant organic farm businesses in California, including Earthbound, a brand I used to purchase at the Mustard Seed. I've been very leary though, since the E.coli contaminated spinach was identified as coming from Earthbound. Wild pigs were reported as the E.coli carriers along with

"Samples taken from a wild pig, as well as from stream water and cattle on the ranch, have tested positive for the same strain of E. coli implicated in the outbreak, said Dr. Kevin Reilly of the California Department of Health Services."

It doesn't matter how organic and holistic one's farming practices are -- if the neighboring acreage is supporting unsanitary practices with its animals, the ground water is easily contaminated and wild animals help spread disease as well.

So now I am leary of vegetables grown on monoculture fields whether organic or not! I found an indoor lettuce grower online, but wow -- it is pricey. I'd like to figure out a way to make something out of recycled materials. Anybody have any ideas?

At least I have the egg problem solved. My mom sends along a picture of an actual free roaming and apparently happy chicken from someone who is raising chickens to sell their eggs. I won't be fooled by the organic advertising any more!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma, A Natural History of Four Meals

If we are what we eat, most of us would be comprised of corn with a large side of petroleum. Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, follows the human food chains back to their origins by tracing the paths of all the items in four meals: a fast food meal from McDonald's representing processed food; an Agribiz produced "organic" food meal; a pastoral meal produced on an amazing farm in Virginia where nothing goes to waste and animals lead happy lives and are slaughtered as humanely as possible; and finally, a meal totally gathered and hunted in the woods and wilds of northern California.

Pollan wants us to become mindful of what we are eating and consider the effects of how it is produced upon the planet and upon our own bodies. It puts the human animal in a place she'd rather not be -- face to face with the reality of what it means to live on this planet and recognize that after all, we are but another thing that dies to feed other things.

Those who eat animals and/or their products, would really rather not know about the conditions those animals live in, but Pollan buys a steer calf and follows it through its short miserable life. He goes into great detail explaining how the stomach's of cows are evolved to digest grasses. That is what cows should eat, but now they are penned in CAFOs (Contained Animal Feeding Operations), and fed a corn-based mash. Cows do not digest corn naturally. So that upsets the balance:

"Most of the microbes that reside in the gut of a cow and find their way into our food get killed off by the strong acids in our stomachs, since they evolved to live in the neutral pH environment of the rumen. But the rumen of a corn-fed feedlot steer is nearly as acidic as our own, and in this new, man made environment new acid resistant strains of E.coli, of which 0157:H7, is one, have evolved--yet another creature recruited by nature to absorb the excess biomass coming off the Farm Belt. The problem with these bugs is that they can shake off the acid bath in our stomachs--and then go on to kill us. By acidifying the rumen with corn we've broken down one of our food chain's most important barriers to infection. Yet another solution turned into a problem.." (Omnivore p 82).
Big Agribiz with its monoculture of corn fields and silos that produce and store the kernals that feed the cows on CAFOs burns up enormous amounts of petroleum products to produce its crop of field corn #2, including petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the fuel used to run the massive machines that work over the massive amounts of acres which are "farmed" these days. According to Pollan, one fifth of petroleum consumed in America goes to the production and transportation of food.

Those corn kernals go into just about every processed food humans consume, in the form of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and other fattening engineered food products. We fatten the cows on corn, then proceed to fatten ourselves on HFCS and other corn derivatives.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Pollan's book are the chapters describing the meal at the end of each food chain. In the case of the processed corn chain, it is a chicken McNugget, made from 38 ingredients including TBHQ, or tertiary butylhydroquinone, sprayed on to help preserve the freshness. It is actually a form of butane and extremely toxic if you swallow a gram of it. McDonalds isn't going to put a gram of it on your nuggets, but someone who eats those things a lot might be accumulating that stuff somewhere in their bodies, don't you think?

Yes, this book provokes an awful amount of thinking and I wish everybody I knew would read it ASAP. I will be writing about it all week as there is much to ponder and reflect upon -- especially concerning what I learned about my vegetarian life-style (30+ years now!) and whether after reading the Omniovore's Dilemma I could ever bring myself to eat flesh.

To be continued.....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bits of green along with the brown

With spring-like temperatures today, I was drawn out to the garden. The sky was overcast and dreary, but plant life showed itself here and there along my journey of inspection.

Strawberry plants are staking out their territory in the garden bed. I found a last bit of broccoli that tasted delicious after a nice rinse in cold water.

The chives were down, but not yet dead and some sturdy sprigs of pineapple mint nested in a bed of leaves. The roses are not in winter shock mode yet, and have green growing tips. Spring bulbs were trying to make a stand, but I dumped a thick layer of rotting straw on top of them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Last of the Steam-Powered Trains

I found this on YouTube just now, a juxtaposition of two favorite forms of entertainment -- the Kinks and silent film comedy. Enjoy!

New Develpment in Downtown Akron

Buildings to the north and south of the Akron Civic Theatre will be renovated and dedicated to mix-use retail/entertainment/business and market-rate apartments according to a report in the Akron Beacon Journal. The old Whitelaw building will be saved and not torn down, which had been in the works if a more grandeous scheme had found the financing it needed. I really like the sound of this:

"The demolition will expose a section of the Ohio & Erie Canal for the first time in more than a century; it will be incorporated into the development.

Main Street Partners proposes using the lower levels of the rehabilitated buildings as walk-out areas at the canal level to serve customers at restaurants and clubs, according to the city. The upper levels will have a mix of uses, including office, retail and 33 market-rate apartments."

How cool to see something that had been hidden for 100 years! I remember as a child going in search of the old canal locks with my family. In those days (the 50s and 60s), the locks were hidden in vast overgrowths of weeds and they cotained the most toxic looking brews of green slime and foaming chemicals.

I wonder sometimes if all the canal restoration that has been going on the past couple of decades might well be prescient thinking. In the post-petroleum era, the canal boats might well be running up and down the state once more.

As I posted in the Comments section of the ABJ article, I'd love to live in one of those apartments overlooking the canal. I can picture taking a morning walk down the towpath with an apartment-sized dog, then stopping for coffee and chat with the local downtown workers. The performance art spaces all in walking distance, and the main library's riches right down the street. The only thing missing would be a year-round farmer's market.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The People Have Spoken But The Decider Won't Listen

The Bible-thumpers want to slap you with it but never apply it to their own backsides. A case in point:

Iraq. As in thou shalt not kill. Instead, send over 25,000 more troops to ...? What will they do over there -- lead us to victory or more flag-draped coffins? The Decider has put off his decision until after the holiday glow has receded into 2007. It will be interesting to see this drama play itself out. Some 70% don't want to play Follow the Leader any more. Will the Decider grow unhinged to the point of total scariness? Will his minders step in and prevent him from creating even more harm?

Meanwhile, have you taken a good look at the number of huge military bases the US has built in Iraq? Who will slip into those armed castles once the US finally redeploys? Or is the Bush regime stalling so they can disassemble those camps and send what's inside to another country looking for "democracy" Neo-con style. That could take a long time.

If you feel your anti-war resolve fading away as you face all the hoopla of the holidaze ahead, visit Matt Carter's web site and check out the front line videos. Then think once more on the Great Decider who has decided to postpone his decision on Iraq until the new year, even though he has already made his decision.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Summit Country Trash

Some interesting facts gleaned from an article in Wednesday's Akron Beacon Journal:

Summit county trash is about 453,000 tons per year.

Summit County recently has recycled about 17 percent of residential-commercial garbage and 83 percent of industrial waste.The state requirement is that 25 percent of residential-commercial trash and 50 percent of industrial waste be recycled.

The EPA goal is to make recycling available to 90 percent of residents.

I suppose I shouldn't be shocked at the low figure for residential recycling. When I was growing up, people dumped trash mindlessly without a thought to its eventual effect upon the planet. There are many still with that mindset who simply don't give a damn about trash.

It is disheartening to sort through one's trash and find so many types of plastic that are not recycled in Akron. Pictured above is a pile of plastic ready to be recycled in Austin, TX. You can read about their solid waste program here.

Don't forget to take your cloth bags whenever you go shopping. I have been doing very well with my bags lately. I had been forgetting to take the bags out to my vehicle after emptying them. I'd stop at the store and remember -- oops -- I left my bags at home and now I have to pick paper or plastic. Drat!

So now I always hang my cloth bags on the doorknob after I'm finished unloading. The next time I go out the door, the bags go with me and into my vehicle ready for whatever shopping lies ahead. My personal goal is to cut down on shopping as much as possible and to try to buy items in packaging that can be recycled.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kucinich for President

Throughout the primary in 2004, I had a Dennis Kucinich bumper sticker on my vehicle. Dennis was the only candidate who was unequivocally opposed to the war in Iraq. Dennis was one of the few who voted against it in the first place. Dennis was right and everybody else was wrong. Therefore the Village Green is once again backing him in his quest for president.

I like the idea of a Clinton/Obama ticket just to see anybody other than two white men running for the highest offices in the land. Even though he is white and had once chance already, I'd welcome Gore running with anybody else. So in fact, I've got lots to choose from this early in the running up to 2008. But I'm going to stick with the guy who runs on principle, even thought most people don't give him a snowball's chance in hell. You never know -- I just tried to access his web site and couldn't get on it. Maybe the rest of the world is remembering now that Dennis was indeed the anti-Bush!

Go Dennis! I'm going to get another bumpersticker and put it right next to my Obama/Clinton in 2008 sticker.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gangs for God Pray All Over Akron

I didn't know this was going on, because Sunday mornings are not the time of day you'll see me out and about. But according to an article in the Akron Beacon Journal, "countless" Akron church members formed themselves into "gangs for God" in order to pray away crime and drug use. This is all part of a grand scheme as related by reporter Jewell Cardwell:

"The day of prayer is part of 40 days and 40 nights of prayer against violence, drugs and gangs, called ``Love Akron on the Streets.'' The effort is in response to a call from Akron City Council leaders who asked that civic and religious communities become Davids in this battle against Goliath. "

Scores of church people assembled on Kenmore Blvd to pray against crime, according to the article. How effective was this demonstration? The answer can also be found in today's ABJ here and here.

One of my biggest problems with religion aside from the fact that it is bogus, is the overwhelming tendency toward "holier-than-thou" antics such as this. Yeah, sure -- show us how holy and concerned you are by bowing your head in public and muttering to your made up big daddy in the sky -- that's a great way to avoid making any headway against the forces that propel human beings toward lives of addiction and crime.

Looking on the bright side of things -- at least they weren't lining up all over the city in protest of a woman's right to do what she wishes with her own uterus.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Prince Charles the Green

He's going greener. No more flights on royal airplanes. Charles is gong commercial flights to reduce his own personal carbon footprint. And he's taking other steps to become more environmentally correct on his various properties and in his several industries. Read about it here.

If he really wants to be effective in greenifying his country, he should dismantle the monarchy, turn over the crown assets to the people of Great Britain, and find something useful to do with his life.

Above is a picture of the "Prince Charles" clematis. Wouldn't you rather look at that than the actual prince?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kinks on VH1 Classic

This sounds so good, I have to share it with you:

A classic holiday concert by the Kinks:
Coming up on VH1 Classic:

About: BBC Crown Jewels: The Old Grey Whistle Test: The Kinks Christmas Concert
The Kinks captured live at the Rainbow Theater in London on Christmas Eve 1977. The Kinks tear through many of their classic songs including "Lola," "Sleepwalker," "Life On The Road," "Well Respected Man," "Death Of A Clown," "Sunny Afternoon," "Waterloo Sunset," "All Day And All Of The Night," "Slum Kids," "Celluloid Heroes" and "Get Back In The Line." The group also gives a rousing rendition on their holiday classic "Father Christmas" with Ray Davies' donned as Santa Claus.

Show times:

Thurs. 12/7 - 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Fri. 12/8 - 1 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Sat. 12/9 - 7 p.m.
Sun. 12/10 - 4:30 p.m.
Mon. 12/11 - 2 p.m.

So set your dials and your DVRs. I'm out of here for a weekend of thespian matters. Back bloggin' Sunday.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Where did the day go?

It is now Wednesday and so I've missed a posting day somewhere in the past 24 hours.

We woke up to a thin coating of snow in Akron, and not a salt truck to be seen anywhere. Between my house and work (less than a mile), I saw three crashed cars. It was a grand day for body shop business in our town.

I live in a very hilly district -- kind of like San Francisco, but not nearly as nice! Since none of the streets had been salted by 8 AM, there were cars spun out up and down the hilly streets of Kenmore. One intrepid driver was determined to get down to the bottom of a particularly steep hill, so he had the nose of his car stuck up against the curb and rode it down until arriving at the traffic light.

So why did the salt truck workers sleep in today? Maybe my local paper will inform me today. Fortunately, the weekend ahead looks clear. I will be out of town Friday and Saturday and hoping for good driving weather.

Monday, December 04, 2006

An Invitation from Sherrod Brown

At left, a photo of Sherrod Brown and Harry Reid taken in front of the Science Center last summer. They were promoting the idea of developing new businesses in Ohio focused on renewable energy processes and sources. This was my first Sherrod Brown event! I've been going through Sherrod Brown event withdrawal since the election!

Fortunately, I received this via email today:

Dear Friends,

Please plan to join Connie, our family and me in Washington, D.C. as I am sworn in as Ohio’s junior senator on Thursday, January 4th. As has been my tradition for many years, I invite my friends and supporters to join me in our nation’s capitol for a pre-swearing in dinner on January 3rd.

For those interested, buses will depart from several locations across Ohio. Group accommodations have been reserved at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, D.C. Following dinner, tours of Washington’s monuments will be offered. The next morning, buses will be available to take you and your family to visit sites around the city, returning by noon to view the swearing in by television. After a lunch, the buses will return to Ohio.

We hope you will plan to join us for this celebratory event. Thank you for your support throughout the campaign and I look forward to seeing you in Washington!


Sherrod Brown

Since I have absolutley nothing on my calendar for January 3 & 4, and since I've never experienced access to the halls of power before, I've decided to attend this event. I'm thinking that I should advocate for More Drama in the Classroom. It's the road to creative thinking and positive collaboration! And boy will our leaders of the future need lots of both skills.

Go here to read a very nice letter from Sherrod to his congressional constituents.

Akron Beacon Theatre Coverage update

It turns out that reading the ABJ online has some disadvantages -- the online editors have not been including links to Elaine Guregian's theatre reviews. They have not updated her official title either, as related here.

In an email to me today, Ms Guregian gives a list of recent feature stories she's written about local theatre lately -- none of which were given a link at, the online home of the Akron Beacon Journal. She also tells me that she will advise the person in charge of the online version of the ABJ about these problems.

So now let's see how responsive that person is to the problem. Clicking my stopwatch: tick tick tick....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Remembering Margo

The loss of Margo Prade stunned Akron citizens. This young, beautiful and talented physician was murdered by her police captain husband , Douglas Prade, on Nov. 26, 1997. It left two young girls without parents, as their father was sentened to a life in state prison.

As fate would have it, I had some dealings with both Margo and Douglas through one of their daughters. I had always thought of Margo as a strong woman in control of her life and at the top of her game. As is so often the case, I had no idea there was ongoing marital trouble. Both parents seemed dedicated to their children.

As the investigation disclosed the controlling and abusive relationship that Douglas Prade brought upon his marriage, I felt an even greater connection. I had been in similar circumstances and in fact, fled the west coast to get away from a potentially violent situation.

Now one of Margo's best friends has written a book about the short and inspiring life of Margo Prade. In Remembering Margo, Donzella Malone gives us an intimate portrait of a young African-American determined to make something of herself and in doing so give back to her community.

Donzella first met Margo many years ago when they were on a soft ball team competing for the same left field position. Margo was working her way through school and dating a police officer who was ten years older than she was. In one of life's weird coincidences, Donzella had had an encounter with Douglas Prade when she was still a youngster. Finding herself in a speeding car driven by some wild youths, she was relieved when the car was stopped by a police officer. Leaping out and grateful for rescue, she was stunned by the officer's screaming attack directed toward her. He used vile language, berating this twelve year old girl for something she had not initiated. It was an incident she never forgot, that was instantly recalled the first time she met Douglas as an adult.

Donzella's first hand account takes us through Margo's life, detailing her incredible fortitude in finishing her medical degree and residency, while marrying and giving birth to two girls. She eventually opened her own medical building on Romig Road, which was to become the site of her murder. We are given warm accounts of Margo's positive effects upon those who knew her. Donzella fleshes out and makes human the tragic figure that was soon put on tabloid television display via Hard Copy and other shows of that ilk.

Remembering Margo is published by Vantage Press and is the author's first book. Anyone who remembers the case ought to read it. In one way, it is very inspiring, as we follow along Margo's path to self-determination and career successes. On the other hand, it provides yet another horrifying account of male on female abuse. Douglas Prade was a user and a controller who had to have everything go his way.

I remember after the murder thinking so many if-onlys -- if only Margo had left earlier for her Thanksgiving vacation. If only Margo had moved far from Akron upon divorcing Douglas. If only she had resisted marrying him in the first place.

I found my copy at Barnes and Noble. You can order it online.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Paper or plastic?

Shopping today at a Tops Store, now holding going out of business sales at various locations, I had with me my cloth shopping bags. So when the clerk began to bag up my groceries without asking, "paper or plastic?" -- I stopped her by saying -- "I brought my own bags, I'm trying to save the planet."

She gave me a disgusted look and said, "Lots of luck," then turned her back on me and swaggered away like I was some kind of nut.

Fact is, I have heaps of blue plastic bags at home, waiting to do duty as can/glss/plastics recycling containers. I have another huge sack full of non-blue bags that I resist throwing into the regular trash. Then I have a small stack of paper bags I use for paper recycling.

Which really is better, plastic or paper? Depends upon whether the study is done by proponents of plastic or paper industries. Recycling web sites give you the statistics and facts. Turns out it is a toss up. The best bags remain reusable string or cloth bags, like the one pictured above. (It's available here.)

Here are some interesting facts from the New England EPA:

* Plastic bags were first introduced in 1977 and now account for four out of every five bags handed out at grocery stores.

* Paper sacks generate 70 percent more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.

* Paper bags are made from trees, which are a renewable resource. Most plastic bags are made from polyethylene, which is made from crude oil and natural gas, nonrenewable resources.

* 2000 plastic bags weigh 30 pounds, 2000 paper bags weigh 280 pounds. The latter takes up a lot more landfill space.

* It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper. It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag. Energy to produce the bags (in British thermal units): Safeway plastic bags: 594 BTU; Safeway paper bags: 2511 BTU.

* Paper is accepted in most recycling programs while the recycling rate for plastic bags is very low. Research from 2000 shows 20 percent of paper bags were recycled, while one percent of plastic bags were recycled.

* Current research demonstrates that paper in today's landfills does not degrade or break down at a substantially faster rate than plastic does. In fact, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills due to the lack of water, light, oxygen, and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed.

* Incineration can decrease the quantity of plastic and paper bags. However, incineration causes air pollution and creates ash which has to be landfilled.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Skirting the Storm

Some interesting winds today, along with very dramatic dark clouds racing on and off the horizon. The big storm from the west scooted north right after leaving Chicago so we avoided snow after going through a huge downpour overnight in tepid temps. Since we didn't get that kind of storm, I'm summoning up another one. Enjoy your Friday night, friends!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dennis speaks a few uncomfortable truths

Here's a great interview with Dennis Kucinich about health care for US citizens -- courtesy of Truth Dig and Joshua Scheer. The following really struck me as something all of us have to keep focused on. We can't let the elected officials get away with cheating us of universal health care. I agree with Dennis -- it is simply not humane to continue to make health care a capitalistic commodity, with exclusive clinic's for the wealthy and bankruptcy for the middle class working citizen who doesn't have access to affordable health care.

"I’ve got one more thing to say about it, if I may, and that is—I went to the Democratic platform committee in 2000 with Lila Garrett, Tom Hayden [and Gloria Allred] where I offered a presentation that the Democratic Party take a strong stand on universal healthcare. My proposal, unfortunately, was rejected. I brought the same proposal embodied in the Conyers/Kucinich bill to the Democratic platform committee in 2004. Once again, the plan was rejected. Both times the plan was rejected because of the unfortunate influence of corporate interests upon the Democratic Party hierarchy. And so it is urgent that the American people are aware that our political system has frustrated the emergence of healthcare for all because of the tremendous influence which the insurance companies and the drug companies have on our political process. It doesn’t mean that this influence is fatal, but people need to know that it exists. "

We've got to be ready to bombard that platform committee with outraged pressure to take a stand on health care. It is outrageous that the Democrats have been caving to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

Cartoon via the Grey Panthers. I'm sure I'll be signing up for that organization before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yes, we have no religion

Sam Harris has a new post up on his Huffington Post blog. It is actually an excerpt from an email debate that you can read here. The leading question in the debate is "why are atheists angry?" I posted a comment there:

Why are atheists angry? Maybe because so many religionists really believe we are the spawn of satan and are doomed to burn in hell. I was lucky enough to be born into a godless family, but growing up I had to contend with kids who picked on me because I had no religion and with neighbors who shunned me and wouldn't let me play with their kids because I didn't go to church. The worst ones were those who would invite me over for an over-nighter on Saturday night so that they could hustle me off to their church before taking me home. (I soon learned to avoid Saturday night stay-overs!) I'm 55 years old and I still remember and resent all the prejudicial behavior from my early years.

That's just one very personal reason to be angry. There are plenty more. I really prefer people who keep their religious beliefs to themselves. Frankly, I don't want to know the particulars about anybody's faith-based delusions. I like to think the people I deal with every day are rational beings. When religion pops up, rationality goes out the window.

I am planning to review Sam Harris' new book, Letter to a Christian Nation, but haven't had the time. I expect to get to it over winter break -- just in time for the holiday season!

But in the meantime if you need a good dose of skepticism, I do recommend God Is For Suckers -- they keep tabs on all the religious threats and absurdities.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Out of Iraq

Somebody, please -- get the US forces out of Iraq. The major media have decided to call it a civil war today. Civil war is never civil. It's a bloody disaster whatever you call it.

Bush apears to be delusional with his insistance the violence in Iraq is spurred by Al Qaeda . He's starting to feel the pressure. A federal judge says he does not have the right to designate who is a terrorist because his executive order is too vague. We need a whole lot of people stepping up all at once, surrounding the mad emperor and telling him NO. You can't torture, you can't spy, you can't wage war whenever you choose.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Autum Almanac

Here's a sing a long to go with some images of autumn from Kenmore:

Lovely weather here in Akron over the four days off from work and stress. I did some clean up in my yard. Here's my compost box, all loaded up for the winter, yet room for the weekly coffee grounds and vegetable matter. I set up a plastic bucket off my kitchen where I can toss the compostable items, then carry it out to the compost box a couple of times per week. This box is at least ten years old and was made by Rubbermaid. Very sturdy. I doubt stir it or do anything other than toss stuff in it. Every spring I get a wheelbarrow full of good stuff to mix in with my plantings.

The garden goddess here is not for worship, but to add a little interest to the wooden fence. I like the contrast of weathering clay against the wood, with the feathery annual forming living tresses. This plant has made it through a number of frosty nights already.

I found a hyacinth bulb in a pot from last spring. I'd never stuck it in the ground. It was left loose in its plastic pot and now it is pushing up and forming leaves. So I brought it inside and put it in a nice clay pot to bloom before January, I'm betting.

Here's a glimpse of the blimp seemingly tangled in the maple tree's bare branches.

While I spent the day in the yard, the geese gathered on Summit Lake. They haven't left for the winter in several years. A sign of global warming?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sherrod Brown Is a Player!

From the Loraine Chronicle:

AVON — U.S. Senator-elect Sherrod Brown will continue to work on the issues that matter most to him — health care, trade and education.
Brown was recently assigned to four Senate committees: Agriculture, Banking, Veterans and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, better known as HELP.
“I get to work on everything I campaigned on,” he said.

This is great news! Sherrod is given the opportunity to make a real difference in the areas that matter most to Ohioans.

On CBS Face the Nation this morning, Sherrod appeared with two other new senators -- Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Bob Corker. First topic of discussion -- Iraq. Too much leaning on the Baker Committee's upcoming report by McCaskill and Corker, instead of saying what needs to be done. Everybody's afraid to stick their necks out -- except for Sherrod who stated what he'd said all campaign long -- make immediate plans for a phased pull out to be completed within one and a half to two years, and at the same time work to negotiate settlements among the warring factions and the surrounding countries.

Corker turned into a most agreeable Republican, going along with the spirit of bipartisanship, by announcing his support of an increase in minimum wages, support for exposing the earmark process for funding, and for changes in the way drug prices are obtained for Medicare recipients.

In Washington, the new power grid would appear to favor those who can work across the aisle. Joining with the executive branch is the sure kiss of death for the next two years.

According to yesterday's Washington Post, Lobbyists in key industries are making plans to prepare for business under the next congress. Barbara Boxer replacing James Inhofe as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is huge! Inhofe is the senator who thinks global warming is a big hoax.

Looks like the Dems are ready to get down to business and the business leaders are realizing that it is time to to be grateful for all the extra loot they made in the past few years, because it is now time to pay the piper. We must educate the young to prepare them to face severe environmental problems, and somehow provide a decent end of life quality for those who are retired.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Akron Beacon Journal Ignores Local Theatre

On Day 2 of Buy Nothing Day -- Buy Nothing the Akron Beacon Journal tries to sell you:

In today's ABJ, we have the annual "Black Friday" feel-good-about-shopping story by the retail reporter, Kerry Clawson. Kerry was demoted from the theatre beat to beating the drums for over-consumption in the Akron area. Damn, that has to hurt: removed from writing about one of the most elevating things human beings can do -- creating theatre -- to writing about ant-heap behaviors of the gluttonous. Meanwhile, the theatre beat was compressed into a one-reporter-covers-all-the-arts format.

For a sad visual of what the ABJ's reporting has become, look at this page. Note the empty places in the (Arts &) Entertainment section as opposed to the full box of sports writers. George Thomas is gone and along with him any local perspectives of movies and the film industry. Now we get canned UPI syndicated reviews. "Names in the News" is listed as one of the entertainment columnists! They won't even give us a name for the person assigned to compile snippets of Hollywood gossip from the wire services! (And by the way, Jane Snow's name should no longer be listed under the Living Section columnists. She too has vanished from the ABJ's pages.)

Elaine Guregian was supposed to be elevated to "Culture Beat" reporter, adding theatre to her usual music and dance coverage. Well I defy anyone to find theatre coverage online at the Beacon any more. There is no "theater" added to Guregian's title underneath her phone, and looking at a list of all of her columns, I can see only three related to theatre over the past two months: Spamalot on tour in Cleveland, My Fair Lady at the Cleveland Playhouse and a national tour Man of La Mancha at EJ Thomas of LaMancha. What do all three of these have in common? Yes, they are big splashy musicals, but more importantly -- none of these productions were created in Akron by Akron theatre people. I'm not blaming Guregian -- she has had an enormous amount of work heaped upon her and we will put the blame squarely upon her superiors as to what stories she is allowed to cover. So far, its looking very much like corporate theatre uber alles.

I miss the weekly Theatre Notes column that Kerry Clawson provided for us theatre workers and consumers. The word "theater" or more properly "theatre," is not even granted its own listing on the Entertainment page. And what of the local theatres trying gamely to fill their seats so they can afford to keep producing theatre for our community? How are they managing to succeed with no local coverage? The only way to change things is to keep yammering at them via emails, letters to the editor and so on. Go here to make some noise.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Buy Nothing

Hoping you are enjoying a day full of healthy activities that don't involve driving to a mall or any of those ugly big box stores full of imported Chinese goods.

For a well-written tribute to this day, go here.

I'm spending some time converting from the old Blogger layout template to the new drop and drag. So if you see some changes here, that's why.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

Here's a non-religious message in celebration of the day. Eat vegetarian, live a sustainable lifestyle and try to keep peace with each other.

Giving thanks to Ray Davies and all other muses!

Sing along with this:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Don't forget to Buy Nothing

Buy Nothing Day is Nov 24th and 25th this year. Two great days for not shopping! In honor of that, check out this adbuster promo:

From the Buy Nothing web site:

"Every November, for 24 hours, we remember that no one was born to shop. If you’ve never taken part in Buy Nothing Day, or if you’ve taken part in the past but haven’t really committed to doing it again, consider this: 2006 will go down as the year in which mainstream dialogue about global warming finally reached its critical mass. What better way to bring the Year of Global Warming to a close than to point in the direction of real alternatives to the unbridled consumption that has created this quagmire?"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Acme Responds

I received the following email today:

Good Morning _________:

Thanks for your recent comments
We have passed them on to our buying staff
We appreciate your business
Thanks for shopping at Acme FreshMarket Stores


I had asked why Acme uses brown plastic bags instead of the blue recycle bags that can be used to collect glass, plastic and aluminum recyclables for disposal in Akron's new blue recycle bins.

I also suggested that Acme make a push for re-usable cloth bags and if they won't change to blue bags, consider putting out collection bins for customers to return the plastic ones for recycling.

Rick's response didn't sound very excited by my ideas. He does appreciate my business, so maybe I have to shop elsewhere until Acme wakes up. However, such a tactic will be useless unless I continue to keep the pressure on. And that means asking readers to email Acme to request blue bags and returnable bag options.

Meanwhile, a reader posted a comment steering me to Bring Your Own Bags, a web site with accompanying blog site that contains a heap of information about how important it is for humans to stop using plastic bags.

Here are some statistics snagged from Bring Your Own Bag:
  • 100 million plastic bags a week go to landfill.
  • Plastic bags can take between 15 and 1000 years to break down in the environment.
  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion - 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That translates to over one million per minute.
  • North America goes through 110 billion plastic shopping bags annually.
  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways polluting our soil, rivers, lakes and oceans.
  • Production of plastic bags requires vast amounts of oil.
  • Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
Pity the poor ocean dwellers, not only are they beset by rising temperatures from global warming and acidification from human production of carbon dioxide, they also choke on tons of plastic infesting every body of water on the planet. You can read about the vortex of plastic choking the oceans here.

So everybody -- please Bring Your Own Bags and limit your use of plastics to those that can be recycled. Individually, it seems like such a small action, but collectively it can have enormous positive effects upon this planet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The rise of the slime

No not James Carville who tried and didn't succeed in sliming Howard Dean.

I am referencing an article, The Darkening Sea by Elizabeth Kolbert in the 11/20 The New Yorker. It is a report about ocean acidification brought about by the absorption of human created CO2 into the oceans. Scientists have only recently begun to study the effects of carbon dioxide on ocean water and the ecosystems within it. Turns out that the carbon dioxide begins a string of chemical reactions that result in the ocean water becoming more acid which turns out to be a real killer for calcium-producing critters -- those that live in shells or reefs.

The predictions are dire. It just isn't global warming leading to rising waters -- it is also what is happening to the water itself. What seems likely is that the long food chains from planketon on up through the fish, whales and dophins will be severely disrupted.

Says Thomas Lovejoy "It is going to send all kinds of ripples through marine ecosystems, because of the importantce o f calcium carbonate for so many organisms in the oceans, including those at the base of the food chain....It's a systemic will see shifts in favor of invertebrates, or the reign of jellyfish."

Ulf Riebesell, who works at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences In Kiel had this to say:

"The risk is that at the end we will have the rise of slime."

The Royal Society of London (the Brits are so much more on top of environmental issues than we are) issued a report summed up here:
  • carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the ocean, and makes it acid.
  • This is inevitable with high carbon dioxide, no fancy models are involved.
  • The oceans are already 30% more acid that before fossil fuel burning started
  • Acidification will kill corals, and probably make many other species (like squid) extinct
  • The overall effects are unknown - there has been no period like this in the last 2 Million years
And you can check out some ocean charts with predictions for acidification over the next 100 years here.

In The New Yorker article, one scientist (Ken Caldeira) states that there is no point of stabalization in the process of eliminating carbon dioxide emissions. The target has to be zero emissions. "If you're talking about mugging litle old ladies, you don't say, "what's our target for the rate of mugging little old ladies? You say, 'Mugging little old ladies is bad, and we're going to try to eliminate it. You recognize you might not be a hundred percent successful, but your goal is to eliminate the mugging of little old ladies. And I think we need to eventually come around to looking at carbon dioxide emissions the same way."

Sounds pretty bad and how the heck are we going to stop the human race from firing up the furnace, the auto, the factories producing the latest in fashionable clothing and home furnishings and so on? Ken Caldeira turns out to be some what of an optimist! In this interview he lists some possible alternative energy sources, including harvesting energy from the jet stream (high altitude wind power) as well as putting solar photovoltaics either out in space or on the moon.

But while waiting for science and technology to move forward on those alternative energy sources, the only rational thing to do is to cut down on carbon emissions as much as possible.

So go here and figure out how much carbon YOU are emitting. Then go here to find out how to offset what you emit.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shopping with bags in Akron

Recycling, in order to be effective, has to become an everyday routine. Take shopping, for example. When I remember to return my shopping bags to my vehicle, they are there to be used whenever I stop for groceries or books or any other items I might buy.

When I forget my cloth bags, I lose a nickel per bag off my groceries at The Mustard Seed. I have to make the choice between paper or plastic. I usually take paper, as I've got a huge stock of the ubiquitous blue plastic shopping bags. I use them to recycle my aluminum and plastics in the city's new blue recycle bins.

But when I shop at Acme, I have to take paper as they do not use blue bags. This bothers me, so I looked up Acme online and found an online complaint form. I encourage all who shop in Akron to use the same form and lodge a similar request. Let's see if we can make a small dent in shopping bag excess.

I read an article a few years back in The New Yorker about a group that has as its hobby the risky business of ridding trees of plastic bags. The darn things blow in the wind and lodge themselves in trees all over NYC. This small group of folks couldn't stand looking at them anymore and began removing them. Direct Action at its finest.

So being mindful of plastic bags is something we all can do to help the environment and make Akron a better place to live. Here's what I emailed Acme. I will let my readers know if I get any response.

Dear Acme Corp,

I generally prefer grocery shopping at your stores over the other chains except for one major problem. Your plastic shopping bags are brown instead of blue. Why do you not promote recycling by using blue plastic shopping bags for your customers' convenience?

My overall favorite grocery store is The Mustard Seed in Montrose. Not only do they provide blue plastic bags, they also give a discount of 5 cents per shopping bag to those customers who bring their own bags rather than use store bags.

I have noticed that Acme stores now have more organic and whole food products available and that makes me happy. I want to support my local stores over the big chains. I burn up less carbon by shopping at my local Acme than by driving out to Montrose.

Please consider changing to blue bags and promoting the use of re-usable shopping bags. You could even sell cloth bags with a beautiful Acme logo design on them. If you won't give up the brown plastic bags, at least provide a recycle box for customers. Those bags are not accepted in the Akron trash recycle program.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Media Watching: Conflict Sells

Although I haven't been able to post much this past week, I did keep up on reading and watching the news. The major political story focused on Nancy Pelosi's choice for majority leader pretty much ignoring the caucuses in the senate and within the Republican party.

The media continues to prove that it has no liberal bias. Its ownership is definitely conservative, but the reporters, editors, news directors and programmers are not really interested in taking a side. What they are interested in is presenting a conflict. There can be no drama without conflict, hence no entertainment value in stories that show cooperation and progress.

What I wanted to read this week instead of the conflict involving Murtha vs Hoyer was something informational about party organization. What does a "whip" actually do? How does the majority leader differ from the minority leader? And what about the dynamics of the newly elected house from both perspectives? I didn't find anything on the roles themselves but I did find this article from the SF Chronicle that tells us more about the makeup of the Democratic side of the House.

According to the article there are three major groups of Democrats:

The fiscally conservative Blue Dogs with a membership of 44

The moderate New Democrats grown to 62 members

The Progressives with the largest bloc of representatives at 71 and who will be heading some very important committees.

The story gives us some context from which to view the ensuing congressional season. Three factions give us opportunity for lots of conflict. How will Nancy Pelosi do in her efforts to bring unity to the party to pass legislation that will be opposed by the hapless idiot now occupying the White House?

It appears that post election there will be plenty of opportunites for thoughtful news reporting. The problem will be sifting through the media bias for sensationalism to find out what is really going on.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Investigate first, impeach later

The Dems are smart to step out of the gate saying impeachment is not on the table. What is unspoken is "not yet." I am hearing other more soothing words like "oversight" and "transparency."

There are hundreds of video clips of various members of the Bush administration lying about Iraq. There are heaps of contracts given out to various "friends" of the Bush regime which need to be looked at along with how the money has been spent and to what purpose in Iraq.

I'm looking forward to seeing the evidence revealed and the rats called up to testify and squeal on each other.

Joe Wilson talked about this and more on today's Ed Schultz show. You can listen to it here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Time out for real life

Facing some major deadlines at work this week, so the Village Green will be resting for a few days. Look for more by the weekend at which time I promise the yard signs and links to campaigns will be replaced with more up to date matters.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out Lefty Blogs updates and Pho's Akron Pages for all the latest in local and state politics.