Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Treason


Somehow I missed Barack Obama signing his executive order for National Defense Resource Preparedness, May 16. Granted, he loves to sign these things late on Friday, when most people are distracted by their plans for the weekend. That smacks of duplicity at least, pissant cowardice maybe, and even despotism. The order is rationalized by the Administration, and most of the political punditry on both sides, as a perfunctory update of a previous executive order, established by Clinton in 1994, as there was in 1994 no Office of Homeland Security; mere governmental busywork, crossing one's T's and dotting the i's. In combination with this President's authorization of the use of the military on American soil, however, and the indefinite incarceration of American citizens without trial, in his National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it begins to feel a lot more like a despot's battle plan, even a tyrant's wet dream - slick bureaucratic concupiscence, to control every last little thing. I think it was right about that time, May 16, that he offered his verbal support for gay marriage – enlivening support at the base, inflaming one's enemies. The act of a cynical scumbag, distracting from his true agenda.

Not that Romney isn't right there with him, even openly supportive of the idea of a surveillance, police state. You think Romney would dismantle that multi-billion dollar NSA facility Obama is building in the Utah (Mormon) desert, designed to spy on domestic - American to American - Internet communications? He practically pioneered the idea in practice, as Governor of Massachusetts. Romney has set himself up as a fixer of problems. By that, I imagine he means, as president, he would root out any dissidents not in line with the military-industrial-financial-technological empire – artists, skeptics, conspiritorialists, and freeloader poor. He probably loves Cass Sunstein, "Mr Sunshine," Obama's Harvard Law buddy, Director of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who we have every reason to suspect, has a whole network of moles, like Jonathan Gruber, feeding information supported by this President. Mr Sunshine would outlaw political speech not in line with Administration policy (like this blog), if he could dispense with the subtlety without coming off like the reincarnation of a Bolshevik or a Nazi.

I love that these guys, Obama and Romney, come off as moderates.

Basically, this Executive Order cedes control of just about everything in America to the President, through the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in the event of a national security emergency. Conservatives, despite acting like Obama is the anti-Christ, hardly squawked at all about it, because the order doesn't specifically cede control of private property to the President – even though it cedes control of all food resources to the Secretary of Agriculture, all water resources to the Secretary of Defense, all energy resources to the Secretary of Energy, (etc), it effectively nullifies all private contracts, and even sets the stage for forced labor and military conscription. Conservatives didn't squawk about it much, because they love the idea of control just as much as Obama and his ilk do, they just want to be the ones who dispense it. Stoopid Americans.

So now, we have on the books, the right of the government to invade it's own country, the right to incarcerate it's own people without trial*, the right to force us into industrial, technical labor, and military service wherever in the world the government has decided there is a national security emergency, and the right to control with military/police force, the domestic resources – food and water - most important to the biological viability (resistance) of it's people. Necessarily, nowhere in this executive order, is there any mention of the health and welfare of the American people. Because this executive order, and the NDAA, are about the maintenance and protection of the power of the State, which is emphatically NOT about the people, as much as it is about those elite who dominate America and the world. Meanwhile, the American people are oblivious, distracted unto blindness by the myriad manifestations of the techno-utopian Spectacle, captive to the constant, overwhelming media flow of manipulated misinformation, most of them perhaps incapable of doing anything meaningful to extricate themselves.

And what really can be done, once one has snapped oneself out of it? Not much. I was struck, recently, reading a website dedicated to the idea of deep green resistance, who's leading light is Derrick Jensen, at the profoundly callous naiveté of the militant green. Really? Are these folks at all familiar with the technical capacity of our American military and police, not to mention all the redneck motorhead yahoos out there, ready to defend their divinely ordained right to fuck the earth, with the barrel of their beloved guns? Maybe we can bring down civilization, if we can convince all those men and women with military and police experience, and all those rednecks like the ones I hung out with when I was young, that that is what is best for America. But as far as I can tell, the VAST majority of Americans think the earth is a place to be plundered of every last one of Her resources, to maintain whatever standard of living any one American has achieved, and desires. Militancy might be a viable and necessary option in the aftermath or process of broad scale social breakdown, to prevent either the government or men like the Koch brothers from hiring goons and thugs to despoil your local ecosystem, and enslaving people outright. But as long as this economy is more or less humming along, there is little meaningful that can be done, but learning the skills that will serve you and yours best, in collapse. That is, mostly, reestablishing a relationship with and concern for the earth, growing and building things, and getting along with people.

I think it is treason, to vote for either Obama or Romney in 2012. Because the Office of the Chief Executive is no longer a President in the model of George Washington, but a manager of corporate, financial, military empire, a director of the police state, with the power and legal framework at his disposal, to take over the country and dispense even with the illusion of democracy. Remember that, the next time someone uses that tired old platitude, “you can't complain if you don't vote,” revealing themselves to be blindly obedient to one or another of two equally potential tyrants. Local elections are something else entirely, where there may be someone running who isn't basically about looting the earth or the treasury, setting up their cronies to control things. Perhaps there is a politician somewhere who has not given him or herself over to the control of the state, who cares about local resilience. Maybe. Even if there is, the gears of governance tend to corrupt absolutely, where ever there is an absence of local oversight. Local oversight being, at it's core, democratic governance of the people, by the people, for the people.


* A federal judge nullified that wording in the NDAA about indefinite detention. That is by no means the last word. It will surely be decided eventually by the Supreme Court. I anticipate that court upholding the indefinite detention of Americans without trial. As far as I know, the right of our government to invade our country has not been legally questioned. All of America's elite are terrified of the American people.





Monday, May 28, 2012

Nightshade


(This post is not for the prudish)

There are three members of the nightshade family growing in my garden, the potato, tomato, and bittersweet nightshade, the Belladonna. Two years ago, I grew about 200 lbs of at least five species of potato. Last year, a combination of weird weather and my treating my veggies like wild plants, led to a push harvest, only as many potatoes coming from the ground as I put in. Two years ago, I harvested as many tomatoes from ten plants, as I did last year with a hundred. If the harvest goes well this year, I expect to harvest about 300-400 lbs of nine species of potato, with two-three times the harvest of tomatoes as I've had the last two years. I will also be experimenting with the belladonna.

If people have a reaction to the word nightshade or belladonna anymore, they probably think – poison. It's true, if you were to ingest the greens of any of the above mentioned plants, you would be very sick, and you might even die. The seeds of the potato and the belladonna are not for ingesting either. The plants, particularly the belladonna, are effective killers. It is said, Duncan I, one of the earliest kings of Scotland, killed an entire army of invading Danes, feeding them, or getting them to drink something, probably mead, with belladonna in it. The use of belladonna is often associated too, with witches, millions of women who died at the hand of the Church and their crazed village believers. In Colombia, an extract of a nightshade, the borrachero, a tree that grows wild all over the cities there – children play with the seeds, which if ingested would kill them – is used as a date rape drug, or a means of thievery. It makes the victim docile and exceptionally compliant. “Why did you let them take all my stuff out of the hotel,” said the distraught visiting American businessman, to the concierge. “Because you told me to.” There are less humorous examples.

The primary active ingredient in the nightshades, is scopolamine. In Ecuador, by contrast to modern Colombian malfeasance, the borrachero has a long history of medicinal and shamanic use, continuing today. Scopolamine is an active ingredient in some pharmaceutical sleeping pills. In Europe, the bittersweet nightshade, along with the mandrake and the henbane, were used medicinally, and psychotropicly, often associated with the sensation of flight. Hence, the association with witches flying – grease the shaft with a salve of belladonna, and ride the broomstick. Sexually aggressive, earth conscious, independent women, living in a culture inclined to grotesque violence, blinded by the spectre of original sin, and the mythology of the terrestrial dominion of Satan.

Reading about it last night in a thunderstorm, I went outside in the rain, spoke to the belladonna where it grows in a prominent spot next to the pond, clipped a leaf, went inside, crushed the leaf in my hand, and jerked off with it, with the help of some canola oil. Curiously, I wasn't imaging a woman at all, but the plant. After, I fed my seed to the plant. The consequent high was not like flying, but it was a 2-3 hour, very subtle, pleasant body high, not dissimilar to ingesting cannabis.

What that did, was remove the fear I had about the plant, that it is poisonous to me in a way that is hostile to my very being. It gave me the freedom to experiment with it more, gradually, eventually making some kind of ointment with the plant's seed. Not with the intent of getting high, but to learn what the plant has to teach.

We have entered a period of existential uncertainty, when even the continued existence of a species called Homo sapien sapien is in self-imposed peril. That has largely to do with our ignorance of nature, our refusal to accept our dependence upon the earth, and a long history of the attempted domination of it. That has hideous implications, and humans are going to need all the help they can get, to survive industrial collapse with any kind of dignity.

I recommend elaborating on our relationship with the nightshade family of the plant kingdom. The potato is a monumental gift to humanity, thousands of different species, growing in all kinds of ecosystems. The tomato gives a zest to life that few plants can match. The Belladonna? Well, there's a dark aspect to everything, isn't there. Plant consciousness isn't human, and any human communicating with and attempting to learn from plants should be wary. People have done and do all kinds of cruel and malicious things with scopolamine. Is that the plant's fault, or is it because we know what the extract is capable of, without having ourselves established a relationship with the plant first, human to plant, plant to human? Who knows what the karmic debt for such a thing could be? All I know is, what I experienced with the belladonna wasn't evil, it was more like a loving embrace. And no doubt, going deeper, I will find something terrible. That may very well be something in the plant, which I can only trust myself not to succumb to, or it could be something inside myself, that the plant is forcing me to look at, in which case I hope I will have the courage to do something about it. I'm guessing though, there is healing there, and I go to find it.

Bella donna. Beautiful woman. I take that to mean, a feminine-like consciousness residing in the plant, that is beautiful. My hope for the next 5,126 years, is a balancing of the feminine and masculine, in the rehabilitation of the biosphere. If there is anything to learn from the belladonna, in balancing those aspects in me, I will report faithfully. Because increasingly, I feel like I am engaged in a great spiritual war, over the fate of the soul of our species. And I will engage any ally in that effort I can, and count among my greatest allies thus far, members of the nightshade family of the plant kingdom. 


NOTE: With more research, I have learned, or I believe relearned, that the plant I said in this post was Belladonna, is not the true belladonna. I WAS WRONG. The plant is in fact, bittersweet nightshade, NOT deadly nightshade. Thus, what I recommended here CANNOT be suggested as useful advice with the true deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna, as I have NO experience with the true plant. I am an ASS, that I did not confirm the plants true identity before I wrote this post. Though, I would run the experiment again, with the true belladonna, should I have that opportunity. Or one similar, anyway. The core idea behind this post still stands.  






Friday, May 25, 2012

Requiem


I've been in the garden every day, the last week, 6-12 hours a day. I needed it. Not only did I spend more time than that every week the three weeks prior, remodeling my house, I've come to a dilemma, again. The last two days especially, I've come to an end of sorts; I see the world more clearly now, and what I see has left me bereft, and all my plans for the future seem as nothing in the face of the enormity of it.

We are seven billion Homo sapien sapien and counting. For a long time now, America and the Western nations have lived a very energy and resource intensive lifestyle, and there are about 2 billion more who are wanting and increasingly able to live like Westerners. At the same time, we have reached a peak of resources in both fossil fuels and water. They say we are going to be 9 billion in 2050, but I no longer believe it. That sounds like propaganda, to keep us thinking growth is inevitable as long as we are alive. I think we're very close to a peak in population as well.

Also, the global economy is showing increasingly profound signs of decay, with an immense amount of debt which anyone not overly invested in the illusion that those debts be paid, can plainly see they won't. As evidence of a collapsing economy, consider the case of Facebook, that rigged 16 billion dollar IPO that no one even pretended would generate a job, that evaporated twice-over in two days time, people perhaps realizing, there was never going to be any more growth for Facebook that could possible be good for a social network.

As for global debt, usury isn't anything at it's core but some people living on the labor of others, with ever increasingly intolerant demands of payment, and ever egregious accumulation at the top. Usury has helped propel us to a view of the material cosmos, but it has led also, in combination with the burning of fossil carbons, to the exponential function as applied to population and what we consume. On top of that, it has all been defined by a patriarchal, command and control doctrine in it's worst familial, empirical, institutional and religious aspects.

And now we have, globally 4** nuclear facilities, all of them on rivers or standing water close to population centers, untold nuclear weapons in scattered placement, and perhaps 10's of thousands of off-shore oil wells. Therein lies the crux of my dilemma. I don't see how we are going to properly shut down and contain most if not all of them. Together, they have the ability to end life as we know it, and leave humanity, if there is any left, in a wasteland of sterility. We have made ourselves profoundly vulnerable, and yet I check my Facebook account, that social network helping unite the consciousness of Homo sapien sapien, and I don't see a glimmer of awareness how.

Leaving aside the possibility of a meteorite or earthquake or volcano initiating tectonic instability globally, or the sun destroying the global electrical grid, or seas rising suddenly 20-30 ft, all known possibilities, we'll simply focus on the economy. As I said in my most recent drunken lament, those nuclear and off-shore oil facilities sustain the economy/the economy sustains them. Our fiat currency has reached it's logical conclusion; there is nothing left but plunder and collapse. Looking at a pdf I found googling off-shore oil facilities, from the oil platform design company KBR, I was astounded at the sheer amount of energy invested in the process of drilling for oil. Where is the energy to come from, to decommission that astounding infrastructure, so that all those holes we punched in high pressure, under water oil reservoirs, don't all eventually bust open and flood the sea with oil?

If the collapse is a free-fall, Seneca-style precipitous drop, as outlined by Ugo Bardi, rather than the posited catabolic, step-down process over centuries, as outlined by John Michael Greer, then just about every one of those facilities will go down with it. That is an extreme scenario, but entirely possible. Even in a step down process, I see a good deal more social pressure to keep aging facilities running, than shutting them down responsibly. To shut any one of them down is to constrict the economy. If the economy is contracting, where do the resources come from to properly shut down facilities that simply aren't needed anymore?

Don't even bother talking to me about free-energy. Aside from the improbability of it, free-energy let loose in this culture could only exacerbate the likelihood of our extinction. And renewables are a fantasy if you aren't also talking about a fundamentally simplified existence for the West, and fundamentally diminished aspirations of extravagance, for everybody.

Weeds increasingly resistant to chemicals, invading industrial agricultural fields; increasingly antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses, poised to exploit the collapse of industrial Health Care; American's current health care demands far out-pacing the willingness of the wealthy to pay for it; harsher, extreme weather causing ever more expensive damage; debt rising faster than economic growth; peaking critical resources.

The more I think about it, the Mayans got it right. I think a 5,126 year cycle comes to an end, this year. 5,126 years of usury, and patriarchal command and control domination, that has led us to the very brink of apocalyptic devastation. 2013 isn't going to be anything like anyone expects, and every year after will feel less and less like the future we imagined. And I don't know that isn't going to mean eventually, a relative handful of homo sapien sapien living a life of meager, ignorant poverty in a sterilized biosphere, for tens of thousands of generations. Homo existentialus.

I hope instead it means a people renewing a relationship with the earth, with plants particularly, letting go of the energy provided by oil and nuclear with dignity, restoring the culture in rhythm with the living earth. It's a choice we all have. What do you want the next 5,126 years to look like? That work starts with you, now, at the core of your being. If this is indeed the requiem for Homo industrial, there is nothing else to be done.

In the interest of the curiously dark trend I would appear to be on, and in respect to the plant kingdom, and how plants might help us through industrial collapse, I'll be profiling the family Nightshade, with the next post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Drunk and High

So it's 3 o'clock in the morning, and I am super drunk and high, having just hung out with my sister and her partner, the Black Rock Star, for his 28th birthday. He and I went to Busters down the street after she went to bed. They have a great selection of beer.

We sat at the bar, watching highlights of the NBA playoffs, Dr Shaq in scubba gear and an immense amount of fine fabric, some goofy skit with someone else on the ESPN stage, fishing, weirdly, while the guy who used to work for the Geek Squad sitting next to us, showed us a video on his phone that had better sound than the TV, of Andy Samberg rapping about a boat, that had about 70 million hits, (about 69,975,000 more than this blog has ever had.)

I found myself tending toward a negative appraisal of just about everything, though I wasn't a total grump. I spoke with the Black Rock Star awhile, talking with him about business finance, as I have managed two and run one. His goal of late is to run a hot dog cart. He is very earnest about it. It is astounding, how earnest, if you are familiar at all with the catalog of his music.

Then I road my bike home, and puked once on the way, and then again on my sidewalk, and then twice, maybe three times in my kitchen compost. And then I puffed, and then I read a criticism of my novel, and then I began to think about the economy, as if I am not always mindful of the economy, and then all the nuclear material scattered everywhere, and all the off-shore oil wells, and I thought, they maintain the economy, but the economy maintains them, and if the economy falters, then what is to maintain those facilities?

I thought about Denmark, with almost no natural resources, evaporating the material of the earth, the wealth of the body that sustains us, how we all churn through it so blindly, everywhere, and I wonder, what is to prevent Humanity, from burning and moldering in massive piles the wealth of the earth, until there can only be but a fraction of the economy? And in doing so, in collapsing, also letting oil facilities cover the seas with oil, in combination with nuclear facilities, killing most of the life on earth?

Sometimes I think there is a demonic energy loose upon the earth, blinding the vast majority of us to the fate that potentially awaits us. Having said all that, I sort of wonder, what is the point of blogging anymore?

I suppose when I sober up, I'll let it go mostly, and go about my life as I do, every day forward.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pictures


A little less than two years ago, I bought a camera. It was a Canon, which I bought from Best Buy for about $120, which I took about 500 pictures with, before the camera lens wouldn't extend – lens error, restarting camera - and the camera quit working. It was replaced by Best Buy, with a similar version, which I paid another $25 for, which took about 400 pictures before the lens extended and wouldn't go back in – lens error, restarting camera – and the camera wouldn't work anymore. Best Buy sent the camera to Canon, but Canon wouldn't fix it, so Best Buy gave me another of the same model, off the shelf – which was priced at $89. I didn't get a refund. The new camera, my third camera, the third of the only three digital cameras I have ever owned, took about a thousand pictures. Then I was about to take a picture of my newly remodeled bathroom, when the thing spun out of my hands, airborne. I reached for it to grab it, and thereby hit it and smashed it into the newly finished hardwoods, lens first, crushing the extended lens at an angle to the camera – lens error, restarting camera.

Which was a bummer, because I had planned a whole series of posts about this house, showcasing the work, and speaking about shelter generally. I was just starting to video myself singing, to hear what I actually sound like (it was duly horrifying). I enjoyed that camera very much, and have taken a number of memorable (to me) pictures, that have brought me joy, and I think in some cases, added texture and context to this blog. I'm not normally clumsy, and it was exceptionally disappointing. Strangely though, I didn't flip out about it when it happened. The next day I couldn't find a tool I needed at the time, and I stomped around the house for thirty minutes, furious at myself that I couldn't find it. Weird. There's an omen there.

Let's think about that series of cameras for a moment. Effectively, I paid about $48, for each of the three. They took exceptional pictures, with all the digital options I could want, and then some. Now consider the thousands of tiny little pieces that were manufactured, to become part of all three cameras, and all the exotic materials required, and all the fossil fuels to run the processes of mining, refining, fabricating, assembling, packaging, shipping, retailing - for $48, for six months of function. This is economical, how? Eco-logical?

But they brought me so such joy! Yes, I say to myself, but that is a very expensive kind of joy, systemically thinking, and we can't possibly expect to continue that kind of joy-facilitation, and still have a planet worth living on, turning so much of what the earth offers freely, into effective garbage.

If I buy another camera, it will be a used one. Unless they start making cameras that are made entirely with recycled materials, energy neutral, and every single piece gets used for some re-purpose when it ceases to be a functioning camera, with not less than seven human generations of function for every single aspect. I recognize there is such a thing as entropy, but I'm sick of buying product of any kind that isn't made with a sense of responsibility beyond the bottom line. Throwaway trash, the vast majority of consumer products, the very foundation of this economy.

What the fuck, America? Americans. Humans. I heard a story from Denmark this week that makes me shiver. Not just dumping it, burning it all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Those who care to be stewards of this great nation, may notice how easily Europeans have reverted to totalitarian edict (and madness), in the face of a threat to the power of the banks. Dare to leave the Union, Greece? We shall ruin you, make an example of you, that no other nation dare step out of economic line. You shall feed the consumer debt machine, or you shall perish. If I were a Greek national, I'd be inclined to grow as much food as I could, tell the Troika to piss off, build a gift economy, restructure local economic communities, and rebuild the nation in defiance of tyranny. It looks like they might opt for civil war instead, and whatever tyrants come out on top in that never ending cycle, apparently. They're going to do what they know, I guess.

If I were dictator of the world, I would be inclined to wipe out all debt, and declare usury punishable by death. It's a good thing I'm not dictator of the world then, and frankly, if I suddenly were dictator of the world by some magical happenstance, I would decline to issue the edict, and abdicate, effective immediately. Because such a thing cannot be anything but a democratic choice, telling banks and the bankers to fuck off, and make 'em start from zero just like everybody else.

But we're too busy bowing at the feet of the money changers. We mock them, but we don't quibble much with the system they manage. Remember how much we thought Greenspan was some kind of Merlin of Finance, (until we were like, wait a minute, you set up the tech and housing bubbles!) Jamie Dimon, “the perfect Treasury Secretary[?]” Bernank, the magic money maker. It's so very lucrative.

I don't know if it was Christ that got it wrong, our his followers claiming power in His name, but the temple is the earth, and it's a combination of usury and fossil fuel consumption that has brought us to this economic predicament, consuming and expanding to the verge of something very like potential apocalyptic mayhem. Picture that.

I don't know what's going to happen to me, and my garden and this house. It is a very uncertain time, for all of us. I do think my house and garden is becoming very much like a kind of eden for someone in love. I think this whole city could be like that. The whole nation, the globe, if that's what we wanted. A beautiful garden in which to build beautiful abodes.

Having lived here, I know that I can heal the soil. That's my magic. And I don't need consumer society, with its usury and insatiability, it's consumer trash, it's systems of debt bondage, it's will to dominate and control, to do it.


Note: I highly appreciate the work of Ashvin Pandurangi, @ The Automatic Earth, of late, starting with FUBAR: Planet Earth. As advertised, not for the faint of heart.




Friday, May 18, 2012

Economic Activity

For the record, I do not know, or necessarily believe, that anyone is spraying aluminum oxide into the atmosphere. I simply know that it is an idea that has been floated, to prevent global warming, and it would be a technically easy thing to do, and also inexpensive. I just really, really hope no one is stupid enough to do it. Otherwise, as my primary measure of the health of my immediate environment is my garden, my garden is thriving and so I have faith that my soil is not full of aluminum oxide.

I printed that post because I wanted a record of what I saw, and it was a convenient way to say a few other things, about conspiracy theories, and the militarization of America. That, and I've heard a few scientists this week who perhaps contributed to some paranoia.

The first scientists were talking about hydraulic fracturing, on NPR, stating pretty much categorically that there simply is no evidence that there is any harm whatever, living in the midst of fracking wells. The story was about a town called DISH, Texas, which apparently is surrounded by wells, in the immediate proximity. It's hard to feel too bad for a town that changed it's name from Clark to DISH (all caps), so they could get ten years of free cable television from Dish Network. My second thought was, if those "scientists" are going to be something other than shills for the gas industry, making such authoritative statements, they should be living in the town.

The second report I heard, came from the potato fields of northern Minnesota. Potatoes, by the way, have no business whatever being a commodity crop - see The Botany of Desire from Michael Pollan. Primarily, because no potatoes can be grown industrially, mono-crop style without applying massive amounts of poison (I grow plenty of potatoes in my yard, without poisons.) One of those poisons, specifically Chlorothalonil, has been drifting on the air into towns, where people are breathing it. From MPR:

"Chlorothalonil is the most commonly used synthetic fungicide in the United States. Chlorothalonil-containing products are sold under several names, including Bravo, Echo, and Daconil....chlorothalonil sales rank just below atrazine, a common corn herbicide." [Atrazine is in the water supply - but I haven't yet heard a scientist say that's a problem, or the bulk of Americans give a shit.]

Here's the kicker - the Dept of Agriculture does not consider a liquid evaporating and becoming airborne, to be drift. If it is a liquid, and it stays a liquid, and the farmer sprays it too close to a stream, that's considered drift. But it's not if it's airborne. Chlorothalonil is a suspected carcinogen. Now imagine the Department of Ag defense. It was exactly as shill as you might expect.

I heard a report too, recently, about asian carp. These are the monsters that leap a dozen feet out of the water when disturbed. They're in southern Minnesota now, less than two decades after they were released into the wild in Mississippi. The thing about this carp is, it's huge, and it pretty much out competes every other species of fish, until it dominates the existing ecosystem. To prevent the fish from reaching the upper Mississippi watershed, would only require the permanent closing of the St Anthony lock and dam, the first in the Army Corp of Engineers' series. To close it would either require a summary decision by the Corp, or more likely, an act of Congress. What do you suppose is the likelihood of this Congress, or any Congress, supporting that? If they don't, in a decade, the lake I grew up on, which is already infested with zebra mussels, will be infested with asian carp, and the species of fish that I grew up with will be mostly gone.

What do these things have in common? They are all the product of economic activity. We won't stop fracking, no matter what it does to the earth or people; we won't stop spraying poisons, no matter how much they drift and poison the air and water; we won't close the lock and dam, no matter what that means for the ecosystem - because to do so would put a damper on economic activity. And what does putting a damper on economic activity mean? Well, among other things, there's another report out, about an increase in cases of whooping cough. Whooping cough. As in, a hundred days of coughing so hard it can break your ribs or burst the vessels in your eyes, if it doesn't kill you. We've been keeping these bugs, and others like them at bay, precisely because economic activity has been so vibrant, for so long. When economic activity slows, bugs make a comeback.

Of course, we could recognize that economic activity as we define it is ravaging the landscape, and realize that there are limits to what the landscape can withstand, and still support people before the ecosystem breaks down and the economy with it, and those bugs rush in like barbarian hordes - and we could stop, remodel, plant gardens everywhere, re-skill and re-define the meaning of wealth and relationships, while prioritizing health and wellness, hygiene and disease control. A few people are doing that, but I don't expect it from the bulk of my fellow Minnesotans, or Americans, who are too invested in the existing order to notice what it is doing to the world, what it has done, what we are doing and have done. If anything, we are clamoring for more of it, getting fatter and more unhealthy every year. Putting off the reckoning, and so exacerbating the threat.

Every time I think about getting a job to save my house and garden, I think about that reckoning to come, and I wonder, what could I possible do, within biking distance of my house, that wouldn't be more of the same economic activity that is destroying the biosphere? All I can think to do is garden, and retro-fit houses for passive solar, but my neighbors don't think either is priority enough, to make that scale economically, for me, in the short term. I expect to be doing a lot of that, gardening, and retro-fitting houses for passive solar, post reckoning though. I rather relish the idea of a salvage economy.

Meanwhile, after three weeks straight, 8-14 hours a day remodeling this house, I am in desperate need of time in the garden. I let the soil get dangerously dry, on my caffeine, pot, beer, mead and cider influenced frenzy, the last four days before my father arrived, to see the progress I've made. I wish I could show you pictures* - I have a new bathroom, and I painted the sun room yellow, refinished the hardwoods, and designed a tile mandala at the front threshold. He, my father, had nothing good to say. He is a good man, with a kind heart, who is weary with trustee concerns, and has no eyes for this garden, or this house. He can't see what I am, he can only see what I'm not. He drives on my landscaping and steps on my raspberry vines, even after I point them out. I should have been more assertive, I guess.

I spent last night after he left in a kind of daze, watering, planting tomatoes, (five varieties - at least - red calabash, Wisconsin 55, Amish paste, sundrop, a mix of heirlooms,) weeding and just sort of renewing my love, for this garden, these plants, this place, this life.

The tomato beds are absolutely full of white pods like a small, mushy potato, with dry skin and white filaments of micorrhizae like roots. Breaking them open, they are like an oyster inside, or like an egg with a partially formed bird, though it smells unmistakably of mushroom. I would be tempted to fry one up and eat it, except they are mushrooms and it's important to be wary, and the thing emerges from the ground bright orange-red, with a rotten looking brown cap, a stinkhorn, I think they're called. So cool. It was only two years ago, that I turned the sod. 

(I feel it important to add, also, that science is important in understanding the material world, and there are good scientists everywhere, studying things like mushrooms and fish and the effects of poisons. There are also many who serve to support activities that are fundamentally hostile to the health and well-being of the earth and people, too deeply engaged in economic activity to have clarity about their motives.)

*I broke the camera. That's a' whole 'nother post.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Curious Sight

I just saw a strange thing, on a break, cleaning my house. In the twilight sky above my house, three contrails extending toward the recently set sun, the full length of the horizon. There are several reasons this is unusual: I live close to the Twin Cities International airport, and I see planes every day, on the west horizon, flying north-south - I don't ever remember seeing a plane from my back step, heading east-west; I don't remember the last time I saw a contrail; it has also been a windy evening - I'd think they'd dissipate. In addition, the contrails, heading sideways south, fairly quickly without dissipating, with the prevailing winds high above, passed through the sun reflecting off Venus.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, considering them mostly a ludicrous collection of fantasies distracting us from the very real economic, ecological peril the species is in - and so preventing us from doing anything meaningful about it. But I do know there is talk about shadowy agencies spraying aluminum oxide into the atmosphere, to reflect sunlight, in an attempt to prevent global warming and the consequent climate change. It would be a very ruinous thing for life, such a thing put into the air settling to the ground, making the soil hostile to many growing things, and could only be the work of a people gone insane. Hard to imagine people could be so stupid, but If there are people spraying aluminum oxide or some other such thing into the sky without telling us, they should be hunted down and made to answer for their crimes as soon as possible. The only thing scarier than climate change is people thinking they can fix it, by some industrial method. There's also the fact that ecological limits are becoming more apparent to more people, and who knows what that is doing to people's thinking, who have the resources, the influence and the arrogance to think they can do something about the effect, while maintaining the cause.

It could also just be military planes on maneuvers of some sort, I suppose, but the militarization of American society is hardly less disturbing than rogue do-gooders of the Marxist sort.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Remodeling

Remodeling your house in anticipation of selling, is a curious thing. Most homeowners fix what needs fixing, maybe paint, clean the place. Some refinish a room, or pay to have it done, or they would, if they still had savings, or they can access credit. Selling a house is always, I suppose, tinged with a bit of sadness; except among those perhaps who have taken the “home” out of house and replaced it with “investment.” I never imagined this house as any kind of investment, except perhaps in me, having a place to call my own, and land to grow food on, to expand and mature my skill set, and to sing as loud as I want, and dance as wildly as I feel like. This house and garden has been a kind of cradle, in which a profound transformation has taken place in me, the last six years. In which I have come to a considerably greater understanding of what and who I am, and the world in which I live. I love the place.

My intention, is to spend less than $3500 dollars, to transform the house in such a way that I would like to live in it, reflecting as much as possible who I am. I am doing all that work, using materials that are provided by others, or that I scavenge. There are three primary areas of transformation, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the sun room, which will receive full to nearly full make-overs. Keep in mind, this is primarily an aesthetic shift. I won't be adding cisterns, or stone bread ovens, or attached greenhouses. I won't be rebuilding the frame to accommodate larger and more south facing windows, or adding passive solar water panels, for hot water and radiant heating, or even insulating more efficiently. There's nothing particularly “peak” conscious about this remodel, but the house will look nice. That's important too, actually. I'll get into more about that in later posts, as the rooms progress.

My old kitchen, gutted. The sink was in front of the tar paper wall, with the stove in front of the pink insulation, in front of the sink. I don't think I ever took a picture of it, it was so ugly. The toilet happens to be there because the bathroom is gutted too.
My new under $500 kitchen, in progress



There has been more joy than sadness, as I've gone about the work of remodeling. Not that I don't want to stay here; I do. But I can't read a piece like this one by Ilargi over at The Automatic Earth, without acknowledging that credit markets are on the verge of epic failure, and mortgage debt starts to look a lot more like potential bondage, in an increasingly literal sense. I don't mind so much, the idea of being free and clear. Camping in the Minnesota Wildlife Refuge this summer and finishing Progress Interrupted doesn't sound like a bad idea at all.

Of course there is the impossible dream of actually living in this house that I am remodeling, and proceeding with all the transformations I envision, and am capable of. But I've been dreaming about that for four years, living in the shame of living on my father's dime, and I'm damn tired of that too. But those of my readers who are at all familiar with what I write about, what I have written about, what I have available free for anyone to read, may imagine that those words have isolated me somewhat, in this culture of epic denial. You think Jill Schmo in human resources at Z industries is not accustomed to googling the name of every potential hire? I did, when I was managing Monster Halloween. Found some astonishing information, on at least one person I didn't end up hiring, when I would have otherwise. What are they going to find when they google William Hunter Duncan? In service to the Goddess, what?

Perhaps it's best, if I just get rid of my cell phone and disappear into the wilderness for awhile. Not that I wouldn't continue blogging. Writing. Dispatches from the end of civilization.

I mean, it's 2012. Lets revisit that again, briefly. I don't believe Mayans ever predicted the end of the world, to come this year. I do think they fixed the winter solstice of 2012 as the end/beginning of their 5,126 year, long count calendar. The global economy appears to be teetering at the edge of collapse, the climate also seems to be spiraling out of control, or at least out of what anyone considers normal, perhaps irrevocably, and we are clearly at a plateau of oil production, and water consumption, which means no more growth, contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy. So you tell me if those Mayans weren't on to something? It also happens that 5,126 years correlates roughly, to the rise of patriarchal, command and control domination as a defining paradigm. What will define the paradigm of the next 5,126 year cycle?

Meanwhile, America is going mad, and about to go batshit insane. Look into this man's eyes. What do you see? I see a ferret's eyes. Now, the ferret is an impressive, noble animal. A fierce fighter. But you wouldn't be wise to put one in charge of the hen house. Indiana has seen fit to make this man their state treasurer, and they are poised to make him one of their Senators. If you think the will to violence to protect ones territory was bred out of Americans with high fructose corn syrup, corn fed beef and 24 hour media, you'd be mistaken. You can be sure, no ferret can have any intention but to loot nest eggs. Men aren't ferrets, of course, but we all model certain kinds of behavior. This man's rhetoric at least, is about eating the poor.

Looting the treasury of the nation, and nature, seems to be the name of the game, just lately. Top to bottom, both sides. Here in Minneapolis, we are in fact about to build a football stadium, with expanded gambling and about 350 million more added to the debt of the city and state. Meanwhile, the baseball team across downtown, with their hundred million dollar payroll, billion dollar owners and their fancy new public-financed grounds, are the worst team in baseball. I predict, Minnesota won't even finish building this new stadium, especially not if the financing falls apart, an unfinished relic to pick apart for scrap, while we're still somehow on the hook for the debt.

Where was I? Oh yes, remodeling. I presume if you read this blog, you are aware the home of Homo sapien sapien is in desperate need of remodeling. You can do the $30,000 kitchen version, with the super fancy appliances and copper this and new stone that, or you can salvage what has already been, and transform, with a close attention to detail, and a care for beauty.

But remodeling doesn't really work if you don't dismantle the existing order. And you have to have skills, to do the job right.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Being Green


On Beltane, after I published my last post, I went to see a friend in downtown Minneapolis. He lives in a condo, a block from the Mississippi. He had moved, only a block away from his old condo, with it's view of the river, Saint Anthony falls, the lock and dam, the stone arch bridge. His new building is certified green, almost new – but his view is of a parking garage and the condo across the street.

As I was waiting for him outside, I saw the one woman I asked out, when I was managing Monster Halloween last fall. I called her twice but she never called me back. I remember her having her hair pulled flat, but stepping out of that building, her black hair was wild like an amazon. She was wearing a short flower-print dress, and she climbed down the stairs and stepped into a Mercedes Benz. The male driver pulled into the underground parking garage. I'm such a rube, I didn't figure it out until later that night when I was home.

My friend and I toured the lobby and courtyard. He extolled the virtue of the interior wall of hanging plants oxygenating the building, facing the courtyard. I didn't say anything, but they were the sorriest, most unhappy plants I've seen in awhile. Sun would never hit those plants except the lowest of them on the wall, around the winter solstice. He said the previous batch died. Nobody knows why, he said. Too bad, I said.

The courtyard had masseuse cabanas, there was a big gas grill and a sink with running water in an island counter top. There was an indoor/outdoor pool, only four feet deep, and not really outdoor because it was surrounded by glass walls - but there was a glass garage door. My friend told me on the weekend, the courtyard was packed with drunks. He said the mortgages in the condo ranged from 1700 – 3000+. My mortgage is $850.

There was also a workout room, as fancy as any professional gym, and the lobby and hallways were – elaborate, shall we say. Every wall, every floor and ceiling in every transition, had a different material facade, various tiles, ceramic and stone, burnished metals, painted metals, cork, etc. This is how the unattached, successful Gen Xrs and Millennials are living, I thought - in the maw of empirical luxury.

My friend's $1700 condo on the north side of the building is comfortable but dark, and smaller than my house by about a quarter, and my house is only 750 sq ft, finished. I also have a basement and a garage, and a big garden. I asked my friend, how are things, really. Despite the hundred thousand+ he makes, that he can walk to work, that he runs his own business, that he has at least five women vying for his attention, he admitted things kind of sucked. He was looking suave, but he's got the buddha belly with only a little of the mirth, and he drinks nearly every night in the bars, with his fellow yuppies and hipsters. We had a nice visit, I left on my bike, trying to beat the rain.

On the way to my friend's condo, my bike, Fudo Myo, had experienced a semi-catastrophic breakdown, the nut holding the pedal to the bike coming loose. I tightened it with my friend's ratchet set, which he said he hadn't used in a decade. I didn't think to ask to borrow it, for the ride home. It's about four miles, and after about two miles, it was clear, I could pedal maybe a hundred yards before the pedal started falling off, and then it was clear that there was more wrong than just the loose nut. So I walked the bike the rest of the way, in the twilight mist, which was fine, because the weather kept the bike path mostly empty, and then I was singing so loud that my voice was reverberating off the houses across the parkway, and I toned it down, the madman walking his run-down bike in the rain, singing in Swahili (I think).

I told my friend that I had never made more than $28,000 in a year, and not more than $20,000 in any but about six or seven years, of the twenty-plus years of my working life, and not more than $14,000 in any of the last four years. I'm on a pace to make about $4000 this year, maybe. That's not enough to pay for this house – the remodeling of which is keeping apace, which I will be profiling in future posts. There's nothing in my make-up, my education, my up-bringing, my communication skills or my appearance, that would prevent me from living in a condo like my friend, in that condo, and paying for it, if that's what I wanted. Which makes me both a financial basket case, and a fool – which is fine. Because one thing I am sure about, however those folks are living in that fancy condo, most of them aren't prepared at all for what is coming.

That Green building is everything but. It is like the environmental movement, the desire to save the planet, as long as we don't have to change anything meaningful about our standard of living, or question in any meaningful way, the arrangement that has allowed Americans and Westerners generally, to live so extravagantly. That weird, amorphous, almost meaningless word, environment. Environment is where ever you happen to be, indoor or out. Environment as proxy for the earth is the children of empire anesthetized to the vibrant, dynamic, manifold reality of existence, patting themselves on the back because their empirical lifestyle is greener than the average yahoo, for whom the earth is a thing to transform into garbage, and otherwise abuse. Except a typical “green” lifestyle isn't intrinsically any less wasteful, and potentially even more extravagant, and one can consume “green” product without having any meaningful connection to the earth, or living systems that aren't human, or pets.

To be truly green, is to be an active agent in the living systems that envelope us, in a way that is healthy for us and the life surrounding and inside us. In that regard, there are a relative few in America who could truly call themselves green. I am just as beholden to most, to the artificial systems that sustain us. That I know what wild plants are edible and medicinal, doesn't mean I could de-couple from the culture entirely and live year-round in the wilderness. Nor is that a necessity, necessarily, to be that green, though those of my readers who have established a relationship with plants, cultivated and wild and illicit, probably have some idea what I'm getting at. And those who get it are probably further along than most, in the awareness that our treatment of the “environment”, as a species, is very likely to have, shall we say, grave ramifications. Inevitably, really.

And it's my plant knowledge, primarily, that is responsible for me not having much anxiety about that. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I went ahead and published the first chapter of my unfinished novel, Progress Interrupted, on my website www.williamhunterduncan.wordpress.com (it is actually WilliamHunterDuncan.com, but wordpress has hijacked my domain name, requiring a $13 fee.) There is no subscription option as yet, because the Wordpress people never did get back to my webmaster, and he hasn't been able to figure it out - so, as yet, I have nothing for sale, and it might just stay that way, I don't know. I intend on publishing the second chapter in three weeks, with or without the subscription option.  

I haven't any interest in self-promotion, outside of my blog and website, and the few comments I leave on other blogs and websites. If you like what you see, consider offering me a gift, and drop a dime, and/or spread the word. Blessings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm a bit remiss too, that I forgot to mention that when I woke up the morning after I published my books, there was a donation waiting. $250. I let the man know, he increased my capital by a full 50%, that he paid for my new countertops, and food and some beer. Thank the Goddess.







Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beltane 2012


Beltane is the ancient Gaelic/Celtic festival of the spring, mythologically, the time of the rebirth of the green man, god of the woods, resurrected by his consort goddess, Brigit. Elsewhere in Europe it is known as Walpurgis night, after the female saint Walpurga, also a festival of the spring - like Beltane, often involving dancing and a bonfire. It is also known as May Day. American Marxists co-opted May Day, calling it International Worker's day, as if they invented it, driving from it any association with the earth. Then Saint Reagan named it Law Day. Law Day. In observance of the Law, I guess. If there is any greater example of the poverty of the conservative mind in modern America, I'm not sure what that is.

This Beltane is a special one for me. I'm announcing the advent of my website, WilliamHunterDuncan.com. There, you will find my first two books, The Dream That Must Be Interpreted, and Green Man, available free for download in PDF format. Not ideal, I know, but the whole project is a work in progress. Hopefully soon I will have both books available in ebook format, for all the primary available ebook readers. You might be able to download the PDF to your ebook reader, if you have one, but it will probably look messy, if it is readable at all. If you print them, print on both side of the pages; or just download them and read them on your computer at your leisure, if you are so inclined. If you should read either book, or both, there is a donate option. If you feel like I should continue writing, I would greatly appreciate any amount.

There is also a third book, Progress Interrupted, the first chapter of which will be available to read at some point soon, the second chapter and the chapters that will appear at three week intervals, available for a subscription. The book is in progress, and will follow the course of 2012, and probably part of 2013, a novel imagining what would happen if the power went out tomorrow, and every day after. No electricity, no phone, no Internet, no more fossil fuels. It's an entirely possible, if not necessarily probable scenario, the novel more an exercise in examining where we are vulnerable to the collapse that is inevitable, though likely to come more gradually. Anyway, as soon as the Wordpress people get back to my webmaster about the subscription option, you should be able to read that first chapter.

It was important to me, to release the books, in whatever form, this Beltane, as it is associated with the Green Man, and I am in the midst of (another) radical transformation. I'm remodeling my house in anticipation of putting it up for sale, as all of my available options for employment have recently come to an end. That, and I can't otherwise seem to find any motivation to find employment for the sake of finding employment. The culture seems more corrupt to me than ever, and myself never more at odds with it. If ego death is a real phenomenon, than I suppose that is what I am going through right now. It is not very pleasant. My ego wants to imagine itself a working writer, et al, but not wanting any of the responsibility required. It wants none of this. It wants to go quietly to sleep, in anonymity. Imagining a life, but not really living.

What I truly want is to stay in this house, and continue the process of transforming the garden and the house into the most resilient model of a house and garden in Minneapolis. I am also ready to let go of the house and garden, and go to live in the Minnesota Wildlife Refuge for the rest of the summer, setting up a writing post, finishing Progress Interrupted, and that other book I was working on, the completion of the intended trilogy of memoir, before Progress Interrupted interrupted it, and the matter of making enough money to continue to pay the bills and continue the remodeling. I seem ready to just let go too, whatever that means, as the culture I live in is clearly beyond redemption, and this earth and this life I love so much, seems sure to be destroyed almost entirely by the insatiable, indifferent, alienated and otherwise lost species of which I am part.

I mean, it's not like the awareness that some radical, fundamental, profound transformation is necessary (and underway), isn't out there. If there is a more vibrant ongoing conversation anywhere on the Internet, than at the Energy Bulletin, I'm not aware of it. By contrast, most of what I read on Huffpost and listen to on Public Radio seems tired, willfully ignorant and deeply delusional. If Paul Krugman is a Nobel Laureate, then Charles Eisenstein is a prophet and the Nobel is no longer of any import. Arianna de huff couldn't fathom posting Charles, or this astute piece about the Goddess (published at Reality Sandwich.) Locally, the MN Dept of Transportation (our unaccountable equivalent to the Army Corp of Engineers) is in the process of deciding to eliminate all community gardens in right-of-ways it controls, while our legislature is maneuvering to build a billion dollar football stadium with public dollars and an expansion of gambling, for a perennial loser of an organization, and there are maybe a dozen people in this entire three million metro area who read my blog.

Which is too bad, because I've been thinking too, that if I had a few ten million readers, I'd plant a cannabis garden and psilocybe mushrooms besides, in the basement, and put it on youtube - like Ghandi making salt, in defiance of the British empire. And if you think one is any more or less important to the species than the other, then you don't know a thing about cannabis or psilocybin. Because if there is a fundamental cultural shift that is necessary right know, it is one of consciousness. An expansion, that is, to draw us out of the stagnation of institutional madness leading us toward economic and ecological oblivion. Empires and institutions persecute that which would destroy them, and they can't distinguish that which would destroy with violence, from that which affirms and rejoices in life, in love. If there is to be salvation, it is in restoring our relationship to the earth, and Her abundance.

So I don't know what will become of this blog. There will be a blog on my website too, though I don't really have a vision for that yet. It is like an egg, hatching (as is my career as a working writer.) I suppose as long as I remain in Minneapolis, I will continue with this blog, perhaps focusing on ecological and economic resiliency, with the political social commentary reserved for WilliamHunterDuncan.com. I don't even have a name for that blog yet, if there is to be one.

Any and all feedback is welcome, if you should go to the trouble of reading my other work. They are peculiar books for sure, as am I, in service to the Goddess, raving about divine beings, and energy, and economy, and plants, and collapse. If you think my stuff is worth reading, spread the word. Blessings, as always. Merry Beltane. This truly is a marvelous, wondrous life, when one remembers to look.