“This is what we need in this county,” Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tim Tesconi told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “[Marin Sun founder and CEO David Evans] couldn’t open it soon enough as far as we’re concerned,” Jocelyn Brabyn at Salmon Creek Ranch near Bodega added.Read more →
Update, February 28, 2015: Since writing this post, I’ve learned that there is a physical cost to hens when we take their eggs, that they will lay more eggs to replace the ones taken. So the nutrition one obtains from eggs comes at direct cost to the hens that lay them. John Mackey’s position becomes far less tenable in this light.
In the course of an ethics class I took for my Ph.D. program, I grappled with the problem that an absolutist vegan position is untenable. Mostly, I focused on the question of honey, in which we notice the abuses of bees, but not the mass killings of insects that occur whenever we drive a car, or as trucks deliver food to supermarkets. I also pointed out that some insects are a threat to human health or even to our companion animals. Finally, even focusing on bees, many of the crops which vegans eat depend on ‘enslaved’ bee pollination.Read more →
I have numerous objections to what passes for ‘justice’ in the United States. Possibly the most important is that the system strongly favors the wealthy, with the sorts of offenses they more often commit more often treated as ‘civil’ offenses or as misdemeanors, often subject only to fines, while the offenses the poor commit more often are more often treated as felonies, with mandatory prison time. The poor—and especially people of color—are discriminated at every stage of the system, from who is suspected, to who is investigated, to who is arrested, to who is charged, to who is convicted, to who is sentenced how harshly. It seems that police (and college students) “were far more likely to overestimate the ages of young black boys than young white boys; they were also less likely to view black children as innocent.”  In Miami Gardens, police arrested a man for trespassing at his place of employment not once or twice, but sixty-two times. New York City’s ‘Stop and Frisk’ program is blatantly racist and has been found to be so in a court of law. The anecdotal evidence of police shooting or otherwise abusing people of color far exceeds my capacity to accumulate, and I have previously dealt with this issue in a posting on the Trayvon Martin case,, and in a research journal entry about some graffiti I found in Oakland, California. The bulk of my analysis has been in that research journal entry, in which I wrote (with the footnotes integrated with those in this posting): Read more →
William Plummer, a senior Huawei executive in the United States, said the company had no idea it was an N.S.A. target, adding that in his personal opinion, “The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us.”
A few years ago, I attended a presentation at the Sebastopol Veterans Building that featured, among others, two professors from Sonoma State University. Norman Solomon was among them, but I don’t think he was the one who pointed out about globalization that a globalized food system specializes and concentrates food production in particular areas. Read more →
Update, August 28, 2014: Those who have persisted in seeing the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the sole aggressor in Ukraine surely now have some explaining to do as it now appears that Russian troops have invaded. Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not even making a good-faith effort to come up with explanations that anyone in the United States or Europe could believe,” Stephen Long, an international security expert at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told McClatchy News. “No matter what Russia calls it, it’s been obvious for a long time that Russia is actively involved.”
It seems like it’s all over but the shouting. Russia has completed its annexation of Crimea, with President Vladimir Putin claiming he has no interest in annexing the remaining southern and eastern portions of Ukraine, a move Julia Ioffe of the New Republic has deployed maps to argue is inevitable, owing to the lack of any transportation and supply links to Crimea that do not run through the remaining portion of Ukraine. Surrendering in all but name, Ukraine is withdrawing its military and Putin has ordered that a bridge be built between Crimea and Russia.Read more →
One of the themes I’ve been working on as I have gone through the coursework for my Ph.D. program is the issue of sustainability. I had, in fact, originally intended to get a certificate in Building a Sustainable World and a concentration in Social Transformation (these programs have developed and changed names and been re-shuffled since I started at Saybrook University; following the links will lead you to what I think are current incarnations) to go along with the Ph.D. in Human Science.
My argument has been that with the transformation from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic, roughly 5,000 to 10,000 years ago, we as a species took a disastrous turn from living more or less in harmony with nature to an attitude of dominance, both among ourselves as a species, and with respect to animals and with nature, and I have repeatedly tackled the question of what to do about this, and how we should respond to the fact of this profoundly wrong turn. This can be seen as the antithesis to my dissertation topic, which appears likely to analyze conservatism as a form of domination, and it is also where my heart lies. Even so, an xkcd comic (figure 1) is eye-opening.
I’m going to have to trust that Randall Munroe has done this right, that is, that he has correctly interpreted and rendered the information he presents here. This is, after all, a comic, not a scholarly article. But to the extent that he is correct, the notion of an earth ecosystem, at least on land, with which we live in harmony, rather than one which we dominate, seems to be a relic of an ancient imagination. Not shown here, are the corresponding—and one would assume even more extreme—weights in plant life,comparing agriculture both for direct human consumption and for livestock consumption to wilderness and, perhaps generously, park land and various kinds of nature reserves.
Also missing here are the oceans.
All that said, Munroe’s image suggests the extent that we have remade and, really, cut ourselves off from a planetary ecosystem which brought us forth. In a sense, we have cut ourselves off from home, replacing it with a “new” home that seems increasingly inadequate. The spiritual costs, too, of a wild nature annihilated, are incalculable. This suggests that even as we have changed the ecosystem, we have also changed ourselves.
And it is hard to see how this has been for the better.