Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I suspect that when Ms. Lappe was discussing experts she meant the ones who have managed to get a degree or some sort of certification that can be presented to prove that they’ve successfully passed the tests to prove that they know what earlier experts knew.

There are other kinds of experts. They don’t have degrees, they haven’t been certified. Their area of expertise may not be very wide. They know a river because they’ve fished it, worked by it, live by it, maybe took a boat down it a time or two.

Dad was a logger and he loved to tell stories about the job. During the late fifties and early sixties trained foresters went around the units telling the loggers to pull all the logs out of the rivers because it was bad for the fish and it was assumed that all the logs in the river were the result of trees being cut and allowed to fall into the streams. They pretty much ignored the guys who told them that some of those logs had been there for years and the best fishing was usually near the fallen logs.

Out came the logs, away went the fish partly because there were no shady places to hide, and no still places for insects to lay their eggs. So a few years later the forest service came back and said to put the logs back in. For the record, I don’t believe in logging next to streams, believe logging should be done very carefully, that a tree that’s allowed to fall on its own and rot is not wasted, and that clear cutting as it’s currently done is an abomination.

We had a nice little dust up last year between a forestry grad student at OSU and about half the faculty of said forestry school. The student was part of a study on recovery after a fire. Hehelped author a report that showed evidence that a forest will recover just about as fast if it’s left alone as it would if salvage logging took place. You would have thought that he was advocating drowning puppies and kittens. See, a lot of funding for the forestry school comes from the logging companies. And logging companies sell logs. That's another funny thing about the experts who get interviewed in the media or act as spokesmen for the status quo. Many were trained at schools funded by industry donations, have tenure on faculties at those schools, or work for think tanks funded by those industries.

I'll be the first to say that we need people with expert knowledge. The current administration is sad proof of what happens when party loyalty is put above needed expertise. We just need to remember that the expert opinion may come with a built in bias and that not all experts have degrees or certificates. Some of them have dirt under their fingernails and callouses on their hands. They may not dress very well and they may not even speak our language. Doesn't mean they don't know what they're talking about if they could just be heard above the din of Fox News, political pundits, and the development at any cost crowd.

And I’ve noticed that the current administration will defer to “expert” opinion only when it agrees with the programs it’s pushing.

Never mind that abstinence only programs don’t work any better than any other sex ed program. Never mind that teaching to the test is geared to turning out good little cogs for the corporate machine. Never mind that people who actually live in other countries don’t really want to shop at WalMart. Never mind that the farmers who actually farm the land in third world countries just might know what grows best on their land. Never mind that these people would just as soon grow the food they eat instead of growing crops for export cash so they can then buy imported food. The list is endless.

One of the events that helped crystallize the Mahatma’s beliefs involved a famine in the Bihar province of India. Haven’t found an exact date but probably the late teen early twenties. Most of farmers were tenant farmers and they were required to plant part of their land in indigo for the dye. It was part of their rent payments. And many of the landlords were British. When chemical dyes came on the market, the market for indigo collapsed and the landlords refused to take the indigo when the rents came due.

Instead they seized the farmers’ food crops and livestock when they didn’t have the money to pay the rent and when there were no more crops or animals to take, the farmers’ seed, tools and other possessions were taken. The situation blew up in the governments' face, Gandhi spent some more time in jail using the time to plan on how to kick the Brits out of India and an agreement was reached to allow the farmers to plant part of their land in crops that couldn’t be taken.

And curiously, India which our elected hired help never really supported because the first government’s policies were a bit too “socialist” for out tastes, is doing fairly well. Well enough to be targeted by WalMart and the big multi national ag comapanies at least. While Pakistan, the result of the partition of the sub continent, has gone from dictatorship to dictatorship usually with US support. The country also appears on the verge of blowing up in our faces. As you sow has never been truer.

From academic experts to indigo, how’d that happen? Except to say that India is the next big market the capitalist experts have in their sights and many of the peasant groups are mobilizing to help each other find another way to go. They are the ones with their sandals on the ground. They are the ones that will get ground under the wheels of the “progress” the academic, European American experts are so “expert” at.

For the record I'd like to say that if India or any other country actually wants the Wal Mart shopping experience they have the right to try it. Personally, I'd rather be smeared with honey and staked out on an anthill, but hey that's just my opinion. But, it should be an Indian company, run by her people, with the profits staying in India. Not a bunch of American carpet baggers pulling everything they can out of another country.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Also starting to reread Frances Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet. She had an interesting take on experts in her introduction. The experts we find quoted in the mainstream is almost automatically a servant of the status quo. That's what he or she is an expert in. It's very hard for them to think outside the definitions they are used to. They aren't likely to look for a new way of doing things because then they wouldn't be an expert anymore. Takes a lot of guts to say "hey, I don't know everything. What can you teach me?"

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Found this in the intro section of Overdo$ed America by Dr. John Abramson.

It is no limitaion upon property rights or freedom of contract to require that when men receive from government the privilege of doing buisness under corporate form....they shall do so upon absolutely truthful representations....Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.

Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I'm assuming that all PBS stations will be carrying this program at 9 tonight. We keep hearing about how Muslims are all fanatics, fundamentalists and generally bad news. And many of them are. Want to know how we ended up with the fundamentalist survivors? Watch the PBS special on the Moorish kingdoms in Spain. Many of these kingdoms were reletively enlightened and fairly tolerant. Especially compared to their Christian counterparts further north. Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in "relative" harmony. At least they were allowed to live together.

The last independent Moorish kingdom was Grenada, and it fell in 1492. The year Columbus sailed for the so called New World Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the last 200,000 Jews from Spain. Many killed by the ships captains who charged rip gut fees for passage, sold into slavery, shipwrecked, or never even got the chance to book passage. They were killed on the way to the ports for the treasure they supposedly were carrying.

Something tells me we've inherited some seriously bad karma. The Moorish citizens of Spain were at least allowed to remain in Spain but were subject to perscution. Moorish converts to Christianity were in constant danger of being denounced to the Inquisition for practicing their old faith. The persecution finally led to a revolt in 1568 during the reign of Phillip II. The last survivors were expelled in the early 1600's. Funny how fanatics breed fanatics like flies hatching out of spoiled fruit.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Got a little start on Twilight of Empire. Got through the intro and the first chapter anyway. Fairly dense prose and a lot of things to chew on. Remember all those color coded security warnings that kept popping up before the 2004 election? Funny how every time Bush was down in the polls Homeland Security upped the security warnings. Anyway, there’s a peace movement named  Code Pink. http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?list=type&type=3As a play on words it’s about as subtle as a sledge hammer. Effective, but so not subtle. But, subtle doesn't get you noticed, so hey go with what works.


Has anyone else heard of this group? If you haven’t, it doesn’t surprise me. The elected hired help and their corporate masters have learned a valuable lesson. You don’t have to go out of your way to censor speech on the local level. All you have to do is make sure it doesn’t make the evening news or the front page of the paper.


While the current head of Homeland Security keeps surfacing periodically with vague warnings of threats from overseas terrorists think about the actual threats we’ve faced the past year or so.


The people who used to live in New Orleans are still waiting for promised help to rebuild their city. Good thing the Caribbean Islands aren't part of the US. They get hit with severe storms far more often than the continental US does. They'd never get rebuilt. Granted they don't have as much to rebuild. But still, after two years.


Recalls of contaminated meat products don’t even make the headlines anymore. And e coli is so common in the beef supply that you’re safer treating any and all vegetables as if you were in a third world country. When in doubt wash it. If not in doubt, wash it anyway.


The FDA has announced that it’s scrapping the closure of several of its labs because of fears over imported food products, wheat gluten with melamine in it for example.


There’s just been a huge recall of commercially canned products processed in the US because of fears of botulism. I’ve never heard of botulism in commercial products (doesn’t mean it never happened, I just never ran across it). Botulism was something that happened with badly processed home canned products.


The latest recalls have parents digging through their kids toy boxes looking for long list of Chinese made toys with lead paint and little tiny easy to remove magnets. Among other problems.


I don’t dismiss the possibility of another attack in the US by overseas terrorists. But, those airplane hijacking psychos weren’t attacking people, they were attacking symbols. I don’t think they even gave the people on the planes or in the twin towers a second thought. The human casualties were a useful bonus. It upped the terror value of the exercise.


 I’m not going to call the people running the businesses responsible for all these recalls psychos, but I don’t think they’re giving the people affected by these problems a second thought either.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Those who are familiar with the Rings movies would recognize Viggo Mortensen as the actor who played Aragorn. He's also something of an artist, photographer, and poet. He has also founded a small publishing house called Perceval Press. Their major output art books, cd's and poetry but they do a small number of politically oriented books. http://www.percevalpress.com/twilight.html?-session=pp_sc:CFC8744413ec7317ECUKs1E905D8

Follow this link to Twilight of Empire:responses to occupation. A collection of essays and photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan. The press just brought out the second edition of this book and believe in it enough to offer it for the cost of shipping. Which is $5.95 or so. I just got our copy today and mom's been leafing through it ever since. For anyone who is interested I just thought I'd provide the link. This is not a book you can read cover to cover in a few sittings. And be sure there's nothing breakable close at hand while you are working on it.

There is also a link under my favorite sites that will take you to their homepage. There are usually links to news stories and articles from US and foreign sources. More than a few are in Spanish. Not suprising when you consider that the founder speaks English, Spanish and Danish. And us stuck with the Current Occupant who has trouble communicating in one language. Have fun and watch out for your blood pressure.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


On the whole a good weekend. Made a bit more progress on getting the yard in shape. One of my nephews lives down her while he’s in school and he put in a couple of good clean up sessions in the yard. He gets a good meal and about ten bucks an hour. He got the patio area around the crawl space in back set up so we can camouflage it. Relocated some of our surplice blocks and bought some landscape timbers to go on top of them. Make a nice set up for pots and garden art. It took some patience and doing one at a time but we got those babies where they needed to be.


Local nursery had a nice sale on their pottery so we were able to pick up some planters for our new creation. And picked up a couple of trellises to match the ones we already have. We’ll set those up on the other side of the house to screen part of that back yard. Honeysuckles or trumpet vines or some darn thing. We’ll worry about that next spring. Just getting them up will be job enough.


NN1 has been doing summer school this summer up in Corvallis. His little brother (who’s taller than him, I know the feeling and who will be known as NN3) came down this weekend to visit and they both came down for dinner. Other grandma lives all of two blocks from us so we had a nice party. Then between errands NN3 called to tell us they were on their way down again. Seems he’d brought graduation pictures to share and forgot to bring them Friday. Apparently he told sis he forgot to bring them and she told him to get them down P D Q. He brought down shots for both families and the grandmas did a good job of divvying up the goodies. He’s finally growing into his ears and hands. All five boys are going to be six foot or better. I feel like such a shrimp sometimes. Oh, and N3 will be going to school in Portland this year so we might actually get to see him more than once a year.


Weather’s great and it looks like it’s going to hold out for the low eighties for next weekend’s Scandinavian Festival. Four days of everybody claiming to be honorary Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and Danes. The Broiler Festival, the Filbert Festival and some of the others have come and gone while this celebration of good food, wonderful crafts, singing, dancing and people watching keeps going strong. Looking forward to it.

Friday, August 3, 2007


You can still find sections of the roads that the Romans built two thousand years ago. Clear away the brush, two thousand years of plant debris, replace a few stones and they could probably be used today. In some old cities you could probably use the old sewers and water systems. For all I know, some of the old towns still are using them.

Over five centuries ago craftsmen built cathedrals to the glory of God and perhaps to their own genius. Most of those cathedrals are still standing. Most of those cathedrals will probably still be standing five hundred years from now. If we don’t blow them up in a frenzy of self destruction or sheer stupidity.

A freeway bridge built forty years ago, pronounced deficient in 1990, collapses “unexpectedly.” The gist of state officials explanations is that “nobody told us it was that bad.” I don’t know what to do first; laugh, cry, scream or pray.

Laugh, because somehow I’m not really that surprised. Cry for the drivers who depended on that bridge and assumed it was safe, scream because I suspect it didn’t have to happen, and pray not only for the families left behind but for ourselves.

If your house has a leaky roof or termites you deal with the problem and repair the damage. Well, this country is our "house." It's time for the government (us) to tell the elected hired help to quit playing idealogical games and for us to get our heads out of the sand. The house is falling down around our ears.