Saving the World

I was born in 1940. About fifteen years later, my eyes opened to the world, and I didn’t like what I saw. The Cold War was upon us, and we were drilled at school to get under our desks in the event of an attack. The world came close to an exchange of nuclear weapons.

Sometime after, I came to the conclusion that I could save the world. I was smart enough to figure out what was needed, after all. My efforts to properly inform myself began with two years of undergraduate study at the University of Chicago, which didn’t go well. I was 17 when I started. Next came the University of California-Berkeley, but I lasted only a half-semester, leaving with a girlfriend to ski-bum in Colorado. Ski-bumming in the winter and mountaineering in the summer consumed the next few years, and included two years of world travel. I was then (as now) a socialist in my thinking, and spent a few months on a kibbutz in Israel, to see how a functioning socialist society worked. It worked well, in my opinion, and I could have stayed indefinitely, but my next objective was to check out eastern mysticism in India. Before searching out an ashram, however, I did some mountaineering in the Indian Himalaya, and it was there that I came down with hepatitis. This was the result of having been inoculated for yellow fever, six weeks before, with an unsterilized needle, while preparing to leave Tehran (where I had worked for the summer) for India. So … no mysticism. I recovered in the US, ski-bummed that winter, got married to Karen and re-enrolled at Berkeley. I was then 26. At Berkeley, I invented an individual major which I named Human Ecology. I wanted to know what made humans tick, and what was our obligate relationship to the environment. This major led to Anthropology in grad school, first at Berkeley and then at Harvard. As a PhD candidate in a branch of anthropology best described as human evolutionary biology, I attended the highest level seminar in evolutionary biology, taught by a German emigre who was, at the time, considered the world’s leading authority on the subject. The thesis topic he assigned me was to document his belief that black Americans were out-reproducing white Americans. He thought this was a bad thing, since he was of the opinion that blacks were less intelligent than whites, and, if whites were being out-bred, this would lead to a lowering of the average IQ of the American populace. I subsequently came across these thoughts of his, in the final chapter of his tome: Animal Species and Evolution. For humans, intelligence was everything, as far as he was concerned. But, at the same time, I was becoming convinced that it was the product of our intelligence – technology – that would soon do us in.

Did I do as he had asked? Of course not. So what did I write about, in my thesis? I argued that, since it was, for me, a foregone conclusion that humanity would cause its own extinction, this made our great specialization – intelligence – an “over-specialization”. Very simply, a species is judged as having been over-specialized when its specialization leads to its extinction, usually because the specialized species cannot adapt to a changed environment. Humans were doubly damned in this regard, since it was we who would cause the environmental change that we could not adapt to, that change being in the form of nuclear radiation and/or pollution and/or over-population and resource depletion and so on (climate disruption via greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere wasn’t even on the radar yet). The Professor and his minions did not take kindly to my thesis, and I barely escaped his classroom with my life. This event marked the beginning of the end of my graduate studies. They definitively ended when I accepted a job in my alternate profession of designing Outward Bound-type outdoor programs And, later, Harvard awarded me a Masters Degree.

Soon to leave Massachusetts for the wilds of southern New Mexico, I wrote and distributed the following poem:

Parting Shot

My friends
I would like to have stayed
and played
for Truth, the Knowledge
that shall set you free
the game of reasoned discourse
but, you see
soon will be the shitstorm

Now, far be it from me
to tell you
what to do
but, by the same token
don’t tell me
I need the Ph.D
to know enough
to say “stuff it”

If it’s games you’d play
take a tip from poker
and drop out
when the odds are against you

I know how that goes
against your grain
to think in probablistic terms
in terms of loss and gain
I’m sure the world could
be saved, but will it?

Yes, will it
Will it with all your might
but that won’t do the job
as long as you’re a job-holder
something bolder is called for

Can you go away?
Not as a strategy to save the world
but as a strategy to save
your own ass,
there’s no mass solutions
because there’s too much mass

When they all start running
I don’t want to be over-run
and there’s still a chance
to have some fun

You say you want to stay in the city?
You don’t like the woods?
Pity

But, I was still committed to saving the world! I did not stop thinking about, or lecturing my friends and acquaintances, on the central issue of humanity’s collective folly. What is that folly?  It is humanity’s attempt to control Nature. I delivered my “hunter-gatherer” speech time and again. It goes like this: For as long as we’ve been Homo sapiens, up to the time that we invented agriculture and animal husbandry (i.e. “civilization”), about 10,000 years ago, human society was relatively peaceable and egalitarian, we lived long and disease-free lives  and were sufficiently well-fed. But the adoption of agriculture, in particular, changed everything. Humans became settled into towns and populations soared, as we began to accumulate stored food stuffs. Stored food became the first wealth, which, of course, became unequally divided. This led to class society, which consisted of an elite that ruled over impoverished masses, conscription and wars of conquest and large-scale slavery. Empires flourished and then collapsed as their soils became exhausted or other resources ran out. Absolute control of nature was never possible. This state of affairs continued unabated to the present day (with the exception, perhaps, of the middle class that existed, here and elsewhere, for a short while).

Following my presentations, the usual response was: “So, then, what are we supposed to do?”.  Most often, my answer to that question was considered to be of no help at all. I said then, and say now, that we must disassemble, and return to small and politically-autonomous self-sufficient communities, along with reducing the population of the world. Only in small-scale democratic communities can we regain equality with one another, while farming in ways that limit damage to the environment. A kibbutz in Israel is the best model I’ve yet encountered for that. “Well, that’s impossible. We can’t go back.” was the refrain I would usually receive in return. But not so usual nowadays. In the 50 or so years since I came to these realizations, others have too, and it is now more common to see these ideas in print. Perhaps it’s because we see an unpleasant future looming. In that regard, many authors are now stating that disastrous climate disruption and the ensuing collapse of modern society is inevitable.

But that doesn’t stop individuals from coming together, looking to create “intentional communities” outside of the cities. Though I have failed to save the world (I guess that I didn’t try hard enough!), some of you may be able to save your own asses. To those who say that we can’t go back, we answer that we can no longer go forward with a technocratic order that lays waste to the world. For those who love the world, and wish to live out their lives in Nature, there is now little choice in the matter.

And here, published on the same day that I wrote this post, is another example of a small intentional community:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Politics/Economics | 2 Comments

How Do You Deal with Chicken Lice?

It was a long time ago – back in the 70s. Kathy and I had been invited to take a look at a commune of sorts, located at a hot springs in southern New Mexico. We had a number of Santa Fe hippy-ish friends who had joined. The main building, having been converted from chicken coops, served as a dining hall. As we sat down to dinner, we were warned that ravenous chicken lice would soon appear, to dine on us. They were very fast, it seemed, making it very hard to avoid getting bitten.

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Chicken louse

The residents were resistant to the idea of fumigating the place. Some were fasting, to avoid use of the building. I got the impression that some believed that “thinking good thoughts” was the best means by which to protect themselves. Kathy and I soon left. My opinion was that the best way to deal with chicken lice is to kill them.

Nowadays, we in the US are dealing with the human equivalent of chicken lice, starting with the President of the United States and going on down from there – through the likes of Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner, Mike Pence, Paul Manafort and all the other lesser criminals that use this administration as a means to enrich themselves and their corporate sponsors.

But what responses are we seeing to these outright provocations?  A friend counsels that we should think good thoughts, as did the membership of the commune at the hot springs. An esteemed author says that we should “practice small acts of anonymous mercy” and quotes another as saying that: ” … 80,000 people all believing only in love will be enough to change the planetary reality”. Yeah, tell that to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, or the multitudes of despised people around the world, who are, right now, getting their asses kicked. I don’t need to provide examples, do I?

We Americans have had it easy – so easy that we suppose that magical thinking will get us out of this one. It won’t. We are now reluctant witnesses to the beginning of both serious climate disruption and the unraveling of western civilization. Worsening climate mayhem will only cause modern society to fall apart that much faster.

What to do? What will it take to defeat the human chicken lice of the world? Well … here’s one thing for sure – thinking good thoughts will not suffice.

 

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Rio Santa Barbara, 9-11-18

Trying to make a living on the river, during the worst drought on record, conspired to keep Kathy and me out of the mountains all summer. But September finally arrived, and we closed up shop after the conclusion of the Labor Day weekend.

From where we live, in Embudo (NM), the closest access to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the Rio Santa Barbara, which drains to the north off the slopes of North Truchas and Chimayosos Peaks, in the Pecos Wilderness. A short hike (3 miles round-trip) goes to a bridge. On this particular walk, we carried binocs and camera, but no fishing rods.

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Plank bridge over a very small creek

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Geranium

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Harebell

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?

One comes to a good-sized pool, at the point where the trail begins to closely follow the creek. In the pool were some brown trout:

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Brown trout holds in a slow current, looking up for passing food items

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Brown trout rises to intercept food

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Got it!

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The so-called “ring of the rise”. In this case, it looks like the trout rose to investigate a floating item, and then turned away, in what fly fishers call a “refusal”.

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The brown trout was holding in the small pool seen left of center

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The head of the larger pool

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One has to hike a considerable distance upstream from this sign to find Rio Grande Cutthroats

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Kathy, at the bridge

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A gorgeous Rio Grande Cutthroat, caught and released by Kathy on a prior visit to the upper reaches of the Rio Santa Barbara

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Miscegenation

Miscegenation is a term not often encountered nowadays. A contemporary definition is: “the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types” (Mac Dictionary). While this definition attempts to be value-neutral, the initial syllable of the word: “Mis-” informs us that this interbreeding is considered to have negative consequences. Two definitions of “mis-” are: “mis-1 | mɪs | prefix (added to verbs and their derivatives) wrongly: misapply. badly: mismanage. unsuitably: misname. and,  mis-2 | mɪs | prefix occurring in a few words adopted from French expressing a sense with negative force: misadventure | mischief (Mac Dictionary). Thus, the prefix “mis-” is defined as implying: wrongly, badly, unsuitably, having a negative result.

The belief system of slavery remains rooted in American society. Most simply put, it is the conviction, on the part of some white people, that they are inherently (i.e. genetically) better than black people. So, in this context, the word miscegenation was used to mean the undesirable interbreeding of white people with black people. Why undesirable in particular? Because it would result in a class of inferior people, which people would breed back with and contaminate the “white race”. This fear led to the “one-drop rule”:

“The one-drop rule is a social and legal principle of racial classification that was historically prominent in the United States asserting that any person with even one ancestor of sub-Saharan African ancestry (“one drop” of black blood) is considered black (Negro in historical terms), its implications of racial purity being that anyone unable to pass for white in the context of the US racial hierarchy is assigned the lower status of being non-white or colored.

This concept evolved over the course of the 19th century and became codified into the law of some states in the early 20th century. It was associated with the principle of “invisible blackness” and is an example of hypodescent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between different socioeconomic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status.” (Wikipedia)

Miscegenation remains the greatest fear of the American male white racist. Its most dreaded form is that of a black male having relations with a white woman – the mere accusation of which got many a black man lynched in the South. And where are we now, with respect to this phenomenon? In our political and social life, we are now seeing the reaction to the 8-year Presidency of Barack Obama – a vicious swing to the right, with racism at its core. A black man, Barack Obama took to the stage as an articulate, intelligent, witty, handsome and thoroughly likable individual. But, despite his many attributes, he is black, and this drove an unfortunately large sector of the American electorate stark, raving mad. “8 years of Obama!”, they cry, while being usually incapable of citing what he did that they found so excruciatingly hard to bear. What was it really? It was that he is black, pure and simple.

Now, add to that the ascendancy of mixed-race people in our public life. In sports, advertising, entertainment, politics … everywhere. Good-looking and talented mixed-race people showing up all over the place. Which just brings more and more discomfit to the racists amongst us. Their worst dreams are coming true … and truer, as we mix and mix some more. And, add, on top of that, the notion of “hybrid vigor”. While all humans constitute a single species, geographically-separated human groups differ in a variety of ways, one from the other. And, to the degree that humans differ, the offspring of differing persons may benefit from the mixing of dissimilar genes. This phenomenon is now called heterosis: “Heterosishybrid vigor, or outbreeding enhancement, is the improved or increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring. ” (Wikipedia).

The idea that the children of black/white unions may, in general, be genetically superior to white persons is certainly the last thing a white racist wants to hear. That Barack Obama, when compared, for instance, to an inbred Southern cracker, may be a genetically superior person, would be the cruelest blow. Miscegenation never was.

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9/11. It’s Not Going Away …

As though we don’t have enough to worry about, what with the Mad King enthroned in the West Wing. Don’t we have, at the moment, quite enough on our plates, without being asked to think about 9/11?

Followers of this blog may remember prior posts on the subject of 9/11. If you wish to review them, here are the links: wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/767; wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/866; wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/8307.

Why am I returning to this subject again, and now? It is because that, quite by chance, I last night happened upon two films that advance the effort to inform the public on the unresolved questions surrounding 9/11.

The first film is entitled : “Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup”.

The second film is by the group that has led the effort to demonstrate that the official version of how three building were brought down by two planes is false – Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) – and is entitled: “9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out”.

Here is the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddz2mw2vaEg.

… and a note from AE911Truth: This is the 1-hour version of our 1 ½ hour groundbreaking documentary 9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out which is available for purchase as a DVD in our online store at http://shop.ae911truth.org/DVD-Cased-… or as a download at http://www.911ExpertsSpeakOut.com.”

As I’ve said before,  the official explanation of 9/11 is a mind-fuck. It demands that we discredit the evidence of our senses – that we are not seeing the controlled demolition of three buildings.  Or, that the Emperor is not naked. In the above movie, this mind-fuck is called “cognitive dissonance”, which is a fancy way of saying that things just do not add up.

So …  I agree that it is very hard to believe that a conspiracy did exist within this country, that would, for political purposes, take so many Americans lives (and property). But, so hard as it is to believe that, it is, for me, yet harder to believe that we have been told the truth. As an American citizen, you owe it to our country to listen to the theories and evidence that is presented in these movies. And, if you do find them convincing, speak out.

 

 

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Natural Happenings #5, Early Sept. 2018

Making apple juice! And, yes, I did my share at the press wheel.

 

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Storm light on an un-named basalt mini-mesa, to the east

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And, to the west

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House finch

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Baby Pine siskin

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Natural Happenings #4, Summer’s End, 2018

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Wilson’s warbler, in the willows beside the Rio Grande

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same

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same

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same

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Vesper sparrow

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Merganser, female

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Grapes, on the pergola

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Reflection, Rio Grande at Millers’ Landing

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First acorns on oak planted by Kathy, on the Lower Forty

The summer of little water has come to an end. Now, birds are migrating south and the apple harvest has begun. What else? Pray for snow … and vote Blue in November!! We must rid ourselves of this anti-environment administration!

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