Archive for the ‘General’ Category


a bit of own-trumpet blowing

November 9, 2010

I know I rarely post now but I just had to put up a note about a post I wrote over two years ago, Suburbia DOA. There’s been a bit of noise about Jeff Vail’s article Rescuing Suburbia in which he says much the same things I said in the aforementioned posting (from two years ago, did I say that yet?) albeit with much more detail and a lot less ranting.

Essentially what we are both saying is that a) suburbia is not going to shrivel up and die, b) it has the potential to form the basis of a post-peak society and like, c) where are all those people going to go anyway?

In case you’re wondering if I’m claiming patent on this idea then no, in my posting I reference David Holmgren as just one personwho has long seen the potential of suburbia to supply a lot of it’s own food.  Probably what’s most alarming about this however is how rarely this subject gets discussed.

My posting descended into a bitter rant about the element* of the peak oil crowd which gets a buzz out of shouting that the end is nigh and serves no useful purpose other than to cause panic.  Jeff tended to avoid my approach, probably on account of the fact that he was talking to the very people I was ranting about.

In any case I still feel that the majority of the peak oil movement causes more problems than it solves. Ran Prieur, The Archdruid and Jeff are the few people I can think of who are able to discuss the future without descending into doom mongering. Good on them.

What I suspect will happen, provided panic doesn’t set in, is that suburbia will overhaul itself without anyone having to create a ‘movement’.  For instance it was very noticeable that the first thing that happened when the economic crisis hit was that lots of people started gardening, all without prompting and without even a brief glance at a peak oil preparation website!

I think people will start growing their own stuff and learning new skills in the garage as a matter of course. I think Councils will give up on maintaining parks and the concept of using that land to feed people will suddenly become obvious to millions of people all at the same time.

Too late by then do I hear the doom-mongerers say? Well, there’s not much we can do about it because we can’t force our ideas on everyone else so take your doom elsewhere and drag someone else down. Nothing has happened in quite the rush you promised anyway.

One idea Jeff mentions that is completly knew to me, and one which has far reaching political ramifications is to do with land distribution in suburbs. He says:

Suburbia is unique because it is the most evenly distributed pattern of land ownership and settlement that has ever existed. It is by no means perfect or “pure,” but it is the most egalitarian substrate upon which to build a future civilization of our choosing, rather than as dictated to us, ever.

How Jeff ever hopes to make money being that positive about the future I’ll never know but I’m planning to keep on listening anyway.

*By ‘element’ I actually mean ‘majority’


Whole Foods

October 31, 2008

In the last few years every time I’ve had a cold it’s knocked me down flat – and the kids bring home a lot of colds. Even working in a job where I can cope easily with a cold, all I was really doing was postponing the recovery period until the weekend. For a variety of reasons revolving around health I recently embarked on a diet composed of whole foods. It’s not easy to be 100% with this, all the time (and I haven’t tried) but most days of the week I do manage to eat only whole foods.

Added to this we have a copy of Nourishing Traditions in the house now and Karen, who is a keen cook (just as well because I’m not) has been dipping into it on a daily basis. We’ve been eating broths and a variety of fermented foods, including a crazy relish thing I like, which seems to have two quite different tastes within it. We’ve also been eating sourdough bread regularly and using unprocessed sea salt and sugar substitute rapadura in place of the usual stuff. Because I was eating only whole foods and Karen liked the look of what I was eating, she decided to try it to. There have been a number of interesting results.

The first thing we noticed (after someone gave me a commericially made cake a week into the diet change) was that my problem with blocked sinuses has mostly gone away. It used to be that when the air was cold or it dropped a couple of degrees as it does in the late afternoon, my nose would block up and I’d sound like I had a cold – which I hated. Sometimes in desperation I would turn on a heater and breath in the warm air just to get rid of it.

The next thing we noticed was that Karen, who normally gets a lot of headaches, had stopped getting them. Again we only realised this one day when she ate some white bread and immediately got a headache. She tested it one more time with some pasta before concluding that headaches were a powerful enough motivating force to put her off refined flour for a long time. Recently I also realised I was getting less headaches than normal. Anyway here’s what Walt Stoll has to say about the issue*.

The National Research Council recommended daily allowance of refined carbohydrates (CHO) is zero.

Until 300 years ago, refined CHO did not exist. The human body has had no time to evolve a way to cope with this substance. For the past five million years, whenever we took CHO into our bodies, all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, etc. present in the living food were eaten with the CHO. Now when we eat refnined CHO, our bodies must immediately provide the vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes etc. that manufacturing has removed, in order to digest it. This means we must create a definciency in our bodies of the essential substances – the opposite of nutrion: the more we eat the less nutrition we have.

Refined CHO causes more stress to humans than all the other nutritional stressors put together.

More details on the process behind this available here, and I will add that the fermentation process we are putting our wheat through when we make our sourdough bread deals with the problem of phytates. Phytates are a substance present in wheat and when not fermented (pre-digested) bind with minerals in the stomach thereby preventing them from being taken into the body and further enhancing the nutrition starved state of most everyone in our culture.

We have also read a book on Metabolic Typing, I seem to be a ‘mixed’ type and already eating roughly what I need but Karen has shown that she needs to eat more protein, especially in the morning, and as a consequence now has more energy in the first half of the day – especially when compared to how she was when eating fruit for breakfast.

The latest and best improvement we have found though is in my resistance to colds. As I said at the start I have been incredibly vulnerable to them in the last few years but a month back when one of the kids brought a cold home I discovered that I could keep it at bay simply by getting a good nights sleep – this was a turn for the better! Eventually I got a bad nights sleep and caught the cold but even then the symptoms were so minor as to be almost non existant. Then, a week ago another cold arrived in the house and I caught it before I knew it was around. I woke up one morning feeling rough and thought, “oh well, that’s it I’ve got a proper cold this time” but by mid morning I was completely unaware of any symptoms again and had a great day. The next day started the same way and the day after that it was all over. The worst I could say through the whole experience was that I felt slightly tired.

This is such a stunning reversal of my life over the last few years I can hardly believe it. I’m not sure what improvements we were really expecting but there have been a number of pleasant – and substantial – surprises.


I can’t recommend Nourishing Traditions highly enough. I wasn’t prepared to make a change in my diet unless it could be done with a minimum of fuss.  If I found myself craving any kind of food I knew I would be wasting my time as the use of will-power is never a long term solution. Luckily this book provides healthy substitutes for every food group – including the all important, cakes and delicious slices group.

*This is from a wellness protocol PDF on the site, the exact URL of which I can’t seem to locate anymore, I have a copy  if anyone is intersted though.


1 gone, 1 back and 1 idle

September 16, 2008

I’m the idle one, if you haven’t guessed.

The gone one is Ted from Free Range Organic Human who left this parting message (if you haven’t seen it). I didn’t agree with every single thing Ted wrote but I have alwas admired the way he approached his own journey with such an open mind. I also admire his move to go cold turkey on the internet. I’m not ready to do the same myself but I completely understand where he’s coming from.

UPDATE: I just checked back and Ted has made another posting – from what he says leaving the net behind is obviously not easy. This could be interesting.

The back one is Dan, with a personal rebirth and a site rebirth. Don’t be confused by his new portal, the logo is the button you press to get into the main site (It confused me for no more than a couple of minutes:-). He’s starting off with a blog post about his recent personal changes and also a new essay. Dan is moving so fast down the path of personal exploration that I’m being left in his dust – luckily he’s leaving a great trail to follow and a great list of reading for the rest of us.


The Death of the Free Internet

July 23, 2008

Via Idleworm, The Death of the Free Internet. I remember reading how, with the advent of printing presses, the elite in places like Britian were so incensed that ‘radical leftists’ and the like were printing their own papers (and the common people were being exposed to dangerous political messages) that they passed laws making it harder for non-elite publishers. I’m sorry I can’t recall exactly what these measures were but the main point was that they didn’t work because they were so blatant and heavy handed. In the end the thing that killed the radical papers was the use of advertising.

Naturally there were few advertisers who agreed with the politics of left wing papers and so the establishment papers were able to sell for a substantially lower cost thanks to subsidies from advertisers and eventually came to dominate the market – and so we have the sorry excuse for the media that we all know about today.

It appears from this article that history is about to repeat itself where the internet is concerned. China has tried restricting access to the internet and received a lot of flak for it but now in Canada the subtle approach is about to be tried.

What will the Internet look like in Canada in 2010? I suspect that the ISP’s will provide a “package” program as companies like Cogeco currently do. Customers will pay for a series of websites as they do now for their television stations. Television stations will be available on-line as part of these packages, which will make the networks happy since they have lost much of the younger market which are surfing and chatting on their computers in the evening. However, as is the case with cable television now, if you choose something that is not part of the package, you know what happens. You pay extra.

And this is where the Internet (free) as we know it will suffer almost immediate, economic strangulation. Thousands and thousands of Internet sites will not be part of the package so users will have to pay extra to visit those sites! In just an hour or two it is possible to easily visit 20-30 sites or more while looking for information. Just imagine how high these costs will be.

My only hope is that with the whole decline of civilisation thing, people will be starting to wake up to the nature of the powers-that-be by then and will be more inclined to oppose this move. Although that seems kind of naieve now that I’ve actually written it (but I’ll leave it in anyway). I’ve heard that mainstream people visit mostly commercial sites on the web anyway and was trying to think what they may view that was a bit more off-piste and the only thing I could come up with was blogs. So my other hope is that so many people like blogs that there will be a mass of people upset that they can’t read their favorite blogs or that they have no readers any more and that they will make a difference.

Alternatively it may make not matter anyway. As Kevin has posited, sites like his are great for tracking how much of the population are thought criminals and since his readership only comes from the fringes of society in the first place it may actually be the case that the internet has made no difference to the political landscape anyway. Then on the other hand (my 4th) and to paraphrase Ran’s comments from earlier today, it may be simply that the elite are so mean they’ll just want to crush the free spirited nature of the internet regardless of any strategic considerations.

The only other thing I should mention is that we’ll probably still have email – and email lists, which will still allow for considerable interaction between groups of dangerously like minded people. I wonder how they’ll try to clamp down on those?


EFT and Eyesight

July 19, 2008

Three years ago I was at an Ecoshow talk and the speaker, who was an eco-psychologist of sorts made an aside about how children develop eye problems and start to need glasses at an age when ‘it all becomes too much and the don’t want to see it any more’. The assumption that our children have a hard time in childhood was of course easy for me to handle but I had never heard the idea that eye problems were a symptom of pschological issues.

I think the next reference I saw to this concept was on Ran’s page where he talks about his attempts to regain his eye sight. He refers to the tension in the muscles around the eye that cause the sight problems as being similar Wilhelm Reich’s concept of body armour.

In my last post about EFT I suggested that the concept of body armour and the EFTconcept of trauma being stored in the body’s electrical system were probably closely related and indeed, as Miguel testified in the comments for that posting the proponents of EFT have had some success with improving eye sight.

From the EFT website here is a brief comment from someone who appears to be a Behavioural Optometrist about the connection between emotion and vision.  And here is a quick case study of someone having their eye problems resolved at an emtional level. Note that those unfamiliar with EFT there will be a bit of unfamiliar jargon but that the improvement in sight will be very obvious. It’s also a good example of just how damn quickly EFT can resolve some problems.


THC kills cancer cells

April 24, 2008

The SETH group (Scientists Exploring Truth in Healing) are researching alternative cures for cancer – they seem to have a bit of trouble getting funding (imagine my surprise) but they are making some headway.

Using the same tests used to judge new chemotherapies, the SETH team discovered that this herbal compound kills human brain tumor cells at a concentration that is nontoxic to normal brain cells. A computerized microscope captured images of the cells every 5 minutes to compile the time-lapse videos. After 20 hours of treatment, Δ9-THC kills all cancer cells but leaves normal brain cells alive. Cell death is evidenced by cells shrinking to inanimate white spheres.

Here’s the link to their time lapse video.


Primitivist Theology

February 18, 2008

In my last post I wondered at the lengths Ran went to in his recent essay to deal with issues of ideology and today he posted a comment which answers the question much better than my speculation did.

… the main reason I wrote the essay was to go into theoryland and get primitivists out. If you really feel like going into the woods and living on roots and berries and deer that you kill with a handmade bow, go for it! But that’s not what I see. I see people who feel that this society is deeply wrong, and on top of those valid feelings, they build what I believe is a faulty intellectual framework: that we should go primitive. Then they feel guilty that they don’t really like practicing primitive skills, and that they’d rather eat pizza and go on the internet. I’m not trying to stop anyone from going primitive. I’m trying to stop anyone from forcing anyone else to do it…

Perhaps then, it’s an invitation to come and live in the grey areas between the extremes of modern civilisation and pure primitivism. As I said in my last post if we learn to listen to our inner voice (but not to blindly obey it, of course) then we will hopefully lose the need to rely on pre-conceived ideology to guide our lives and will also feel quite comfortable with imperfectly worked-out grey areas.


Joe Polaischer

February 14, 2008

I’ve just received word via email that Joe Polaischer died yesterday. Joe was a great advocate of Permaculture and preparation for energy descent. Decades before most of us worked out that sustainability was important Joe and his partner Trish were out there showing how it could be done with their work at Rainbow Valley Farm.

He was such a passionate and energetic character I find it hard to believe he could go so suddenly. He will be missed by so many.

I wrote about Joe here and here and in one of my most popular interviews on Raglan Community Radio I discussed all manner of issues relating to living lightly here.

actually, that link goes to his talk from the 2005 Ecoshow that I recorded. The radio interview is here.

The text of the email reads:

We’re sorry to have to let you know that Joe Polaischer of Rainbow
Valley farm died yesterday, at the farm.

Joe’s funeral will be on SATURDAY 16TH FEB at 2.00pm, at the Matakana
Pony Club on Matakana Valley Rd. There will be a gathering after the
burial at the Matakana Hall. Please bring a plate and a bottle.

Rest in peace Joe.


The comedy disguise

January 14, 2008

I don’t know how long this sort of thing will last but besides the Daily Show and a couple of New Zealand shows that none of you will have heard of, Rugged Indoorsman has a video of a discussion about Iraq’s oil presented as comedy. Read the text first and see how it just looks like really good journalism and then watch the clip and see how that text is turned into comedy in order to get it under the radar of TV programmers.

I’m sure there is more stuff akin to this buried in late night British TV, by all means, let me know.


GE Madness

December 18, 2007

Ran has a comment from me about the sheer ineptitude of the science of genetic engineering as it currently stands. It’s bordering on comical but it’s also quite insane. The prize for Monsanto et al.  is total control over world food production but the risks are phenomenal. Here’s a brief description of one example of the sort of scary and quite random side-effect that keeps happening when they conduct their ‘highly accurate’ experiments:

Klebsiella planticola, a common soil bacterium, was genetically engineered by a German research institute to make ethanol for industrial purposes. The inventors had planned a recycling system: farmers would give them agricultural slash, which would be used for the bacterial fermentation; the resulting ethanol would be separated out, and the sludge could be given back to the farmers to spread on their fields as fertilizer. It all sounded very good for the environment, but how much soil ecologists impinged on the planning is unclear.

Dr Elaine Ingham of Oregon State University and her graduate student M.T. Holmes discovered to their alarm that soils containing the engineered organism killed wheat seedlings, most likely through alcohol production in the root system, which kills roots at very low concentrations. Mycorrhizal fungi were also killed.

Had the engineered sludges been returned to farmers, it would have drastically degraded their soil, rendering them unable to grow many or all plants. Since K. planticola is a ubiquitous organism, found in the root systems of plants all over the world, the GM mutant could have spread and made ALL soil unable to support crops! Microorganisms are easily spread on surfaces of insects, on the feet of birds, on people’s feet, etc; this engineered bacterium could have spread world-wide quite rapidly. (source)

What the brief description doesn’t say is that the testing of organism in question was tested in sterile soil which is why they didn’t know there would be a problem. The institue in question took an awful lot of convincing before they would accept there was a problem too.