Why We Blog

From Dave Pollard, at How to Save the World:

“Whether our collective resistance makes a difference or not in easing the pain and damage of civilization’s collapse, people millennia hence will at least know that there was resistance. To the extent we shape the myth of civilization as it’s understood by our distant descendants, we just might help them avoid repeating our mistake, and that I think would be the greatest gift we could ever hope to give to this world.”

That about says it.

Read the whole post, a Q&A, here.


Moving the Furniture

The last time I was in Buffalo, New York, was perhaps 15 years ago. It was even then a city in ruins, roads gone unrepaired, the industrial sectors vacant but for the ever-present birds, entire neighborhoods overgrown with crabgrass and Queen Anne lace, dirt lot gaps like missing teeth amid the rows of tumble-down houses.

I met a young man recently who was walking the midwest and lower New England states, not a wanderer, he assured me, but a walker. He had a home on the east coast, money in his pocket, a grey backpack, and a deep tan. He was walking so he could see things. “You don’t see things when you drive,” he told me. “You can’t process the data, it goes by too fast.” I asked him what he was seeing. “Ruins,” he said. “The whole country is in ruins.”

James Howard Kunstler was recently in Buffalo, attending a meeting of the New Urbanists. He writes of an entire section of the city where the human density per acre appears too low even for successful drug-selling.  The man has a way with words.

I’ve been moving the furniture around in my house. Literally, of course, shoving bookcases and rearranging my belongings in the aftermath of a breakup. It’s therapeutic, and necessary. Energies collect like dust bunnies in the corners and need to be swept clean. But as it often happens, the literal transmutes into the figurative, in my effort to find meaning in this reconfiguration. And so from the post on Buffalo I read deeper into JHK’s blog, and found this:

That fading modern world is the house that America built, the great post World War Two McMansion stuffed with dubious luxuries in a Las Vegas of the collective mind. History’s bank has foreclosed on it and all the nations and people of the world have been told to make new arrangements for daily life. The USA wants everybody to stay put and act as if nothing has changed.

Therefore, change will be forced on the USA. It will take the form of things breaking and not getting fixed. Unfortunately, America furnished its part of the house with stapled-together crap designed to look better than it really was. We like to keep the blinds drawn now so as not to see it all coming apart. Barack Obama comes and goes like a pliable butler, doing little more than carrying trays of policy that will be consumed like stale tea cakes — while the wallpaper curls, and the boilers fail down in the basement, and veneers delaminate, and little animals scuttle ominously around in the attic.

I’m tired of stapled-together crap designed to look better than it really is. I recently had the roof of my house repaired to forestall any scuttling little animals. You can read the whole JHK post here.

With All the Thoughtfulness of a Sneeze

Alfie Kohn on the ranking of American students vis a vis the rest of the world:

If our reason for emphasizing students’ relative standing (rather than their absolute achievement) has to do with “competitiveness in the 21st-century global economy” — a phrase that issues from politicians, businesspeople, and journalists with all the thoughtfulness of a sneeze, then we would do well to ask two questions. The first, based on values, is whether we regard educating children as something that’s primarily justified in terms of corporate profits.

The second question, based on facts, is whether the state of a nation’s economy is meaningfully affected by the test scores of students in that nation. Various strands of evidence have converged to suggest that the answer is no.


To focus on rankings is not only irrational but morally offensive. If our goal is for American kids to triumph over those who live elsewhere, then the implication is that we want children who live in other countries to fail, at least in relative terms.  We want them not to learn successfully just because they’re not Americans. That’s built into the notion of “competitiveness” (as opposed to excellence or success), which by definition means that one individual or group can succeed only if others don’t. This is a troubling way to look at any endeavor, but where children are concerned, it’s indefensible.

Read the entire article here.

Weimar America

(T)here really is a difference between a troubled, dysfunctional, and failing representative democracy and a totalitarian state, (and) a movement that promises to overturn a broken status quo, and succeeds in doing so, is perfectly capable of making things much, much worse.

John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report

You Can Keep Your Bunkers

Wilderness-therapy guide, survival school teacher, and naturalist educator Jeriah Bowser on post-apocalyptic bravado and the survivalist meme:

I would much rather live my last days actively doing meaningful work with people I love, creating a more beautiful world than the one we left behind; a world that is based on egalitarianism for all species and types of humans, a world built on cooperation, sustainability, simplicity, and freedom. You can keep your bunkers.

Jeriah Bowser, Defending What’s Mine

via Truthout

Nor for Children or Other Living Things

Newsflash: Capitalism is not good for women.

Capitalism cannot measure or value non-monetized, more human and relational sources of wealth. Were it to attempt to systematically do so by internalizing all costs – not just the costs of pollution, but also including those tasks performed predominantly by women – capitalism wouldn’t come close to being profitable and, hence, would be a nonviable system.

Chris Williams, Capitalism, Ecology & the Official Invisibility of Women

via Truthout.

The Amazon Paradox

Buy local? Support indie biz? Sometimes. Author Todd Walton on why Amazon is not the enemy.

Ironically, local independent bookstores with their extremely limited shelf space carry almost entirely main­stream corporate product (i.e. imitative junk) because that is what most people buy. Amazon, on the other hand, has unlimited shelf space and carries everybody’s books and music, including works by the most esoteric poets and writers and musicians in the world, works no one else will carry.


To sum up a prevalent notion of reality shared by way too many people who should know better: if you can’t get a gigantic corporation to publish your books and spend tons of money getting those books reviewed and advertised and distributed to local indie bookstores, you should just stop writing. And stop recording music, too. Just make a living some other way. Don’t even try to be an artist unless you can be immensely successful and have articles written about you in The New Yorker. To do otherwise is unfair to small businesses. Got it?

Todd Walton, via the Anderson Valley Advertiser