h1

Just coming in for a short look

June 23, 2013

Just coming in from the garden for a short look and trashing 600 emails. I was away from the computer for nine days and I didn’t write anything for three weeks. This is my longest pause since two years. 

I read some of the emails before trashing them — how reassuring to see, that the world goes on without me. A few links seem worth publishing:

Agroecelogy in Cuba, another example that the people are often (most times?) smarter than their leaders.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/07/cubas-other-revolution/

What else caught my eye:

NSA snooping (yawn). What’s the buzz? Be glad that somebody cares about you!

Be glad, that somebody cares about you. You will never again feel alone and forsaken. In an individualistic, fragmented, atomized society where personal contacts have been replaced by GUI (Graphic User Interface) contacts, where reality is channelled via screens of various sizes (movie, TV, computer, smartphone), where family life and friendships wither away, your social bond to the Big Brother will keep you going.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/07/google-facebook-prism-surveillance-program
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/07/prism-tech-giants-shock-nsa-data-mining
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/19/fisa-court-oversight-process-secrecy
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324299104578529112289298922.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/washington-post-prism-guardian_n_3402883.html
US “Alternative Media” channels had a field day. This was a god given chance to finally prove that they are true liberals or progressives or center left or anti-establishment or whatever else without stepping on the toes of their readership and alienating their donors.

The only surprising thing in this story is that so many progressive figureheads pretended to be surprised and so many of their followers believed them.

data mining

Revealing open secrets and disclosing what we already knew since a long time will not change anything. This is exasperation and exacerbation, this is virtual turbulence and mayhem, this is another welcome shot for adrenaline junkies. US citizens don’t have to go to horror movies, they don’t have to buy dystopian novels, they are privileged as they are enjoying a reality horror show with a constant stream of revelations sending shivers up and down their spines.

This may be Orwellian, Kafkaesque, surreal, creepy, but it nevertheless only marginally affects the daily routines and the basic perspective of the average western consumer. The doesn’t touch the core of their lives, it only goes skin deep. 

This doesn’t strike home, what else would?

Lets try to find something. (….) Could it be for example: Telling the readers and listeners, that they are selfish, irresponsible, ignorant bastards? Telling them that their life style is wasteful and unsustainable? Telling them that their fancy technical toys, their fashion cloth, cosmetics, new furniture, personal cars, holiday travels, are unnecessary? Telling them that they live on the costs of future generations?

If that would be the main content of a concerted media campaign led by Mother Jones, Common Dreams, Democracy Now, Alternet, Huffington Post, Salon, etc. it would strike home indeed.

Bless Us O Lord

Well, let’s get real again. For the alternative press the revelation of government improprieties is a winner, criticizing or even cautiously questioning the readers life style a loser.

For the alternative press the revelation of government improprieties is also by far less risky than discussing the possibility of or making discreet suggestions for:

Dropping out of the consumerism society,
adapting an ecological conscious (= sustainable) lifestyle,
fighting with civil disobedience and sabotage against the various imperial wars and the militarization of US society.

(I didn’t include the complex predicate “boldly calling for” because this would constitute “material support for terrorists”.)

The traditional “liberal press,” in this case represented by the Washington Post and The Guardian, also could score important points in a tight race to publish a leaked PowerPoint presentation about the NSA data mining scheme PRISM. The Gray Lady (the New York Times) was not in the race, because fishing for disgruntled liberals is not anymore their business model.

For a paper that has more and more become the mouthpiece of the establishment and is rather competing with The Wall Street Journal (where New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson learned her trade) and USA Today, investigative journalism only goes that far. It will come out, if resting on the laurels of 112 Pulitzer Prizes (with another four just recently added) and high quality writing about nothing important will be enough to keep the readership and owner Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. happy .

Following the motto “All the News We Fit to Print” (or something like that).
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/new-york-times-turbulence-90544.html

Just mentioning: Big Brother has a little brother in Germany
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/berlin-profits-from-us-spying-program-and-is-planning-its-own-a-906129.html
and surely many other larger or smaller brothers around the world.

George Orwell

What else is worth mentioning from the “leader of the free world,” the “shining city on the hill,” the “land of unlimited opportunities”?

30 million will remain uninsured under Obamacare:
http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2013/06/06/the-uninsured-after-implementation-of-the-affordable-care-act-a-demographic-and-geographic-analysis/

To the valued US readers of the blog: Be glad that somebody cares about you, but don’t feel privileged. The NSA doesn’t only spy on US citizens, its TAO unit gathers information from around the world
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/10/inside_the_nsa_s_ultra_secret_china_hacking_group

The main target seems to be China, which is together with Russia the main antipode to the West and the biggest obstacle to NATO’s strategic planning. Full-spectrum dominance is the goal, and China plus Russia are in the way.

China pollution 2

Pepe Escobar wrote an intelligent article about China http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175715/, which correctly concludes that the massive and relentless urbanization will destabilize Chinese society and wreck the environment. The piece only fails to point out that in the end Chinese and US leaders are sitting in the same boat and are united by the common goal to preserve their power.

China and Russia could destroy the global financial system in a few weeks. As mentioned here in several earlier blog posts, the USA is bankrupt and only able to create money out of thin air because the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency. But this is changing. China has already bypassed the US$ in bilateral trade with Russia, India, Iran, Brazil, and Japan. China and Britain have established a currency swap line and France plans to follow.
http://www.capitolhilldaily.com/2013/06/dollar-fiat-currency/

The consequences of a global financial crash will be severe and no stone will be unturned. Chinese and Russian leaders shy back from ditching the US dollar and crashing the global financial system and with it the US economy because consequently their own economic plans would be null and void too.

Putin holds a gold ignot

So everybody is just stumbling and limping along and trying to muddle through with temporary fixes and policies that work for now but are completely unsustainable.

Policies like the mentioned hardcore urbanization in China, which causes the depletion of resources and water supplies, the occupation of wide areas that previously produced food crops, massive environmental pollution, and overwhelming traffic congestion.

About imperial conquest news:

FSA rebels in Aleppo just received 250 9M113M Konkurs anti-tank missiles
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10131063/Syrian-rebels-get-first-heavy-weapons-on-the-front-line-of-Aleppo.html.
If true, the Telegraph report would also confirm earlier infos that the USA has ditched Qatar for Saudi Arabia which is now the main intermediary to the islamic fighters.

The US government insists on having absolute proof that Syria used chemical weapons against islamic fighters. This is probably only a tactical move to gain points in the ongoing diplomatic battle but it could as well be the pretext for a full scale (humanitarian) intervention.

US soldier Intervention

While there are renewed attempts to start a political process aiming at the installation of a no-fly-zone (meaning a NATO bombing campaign similar to Yugoslavia and Libya), there are also discussions about a “Marshall plan for Syria” to rebuild the country after a possible negotiated settlement.

The currently discussed plan would be just another attempt to subdue Syria by controlling its economy via contracts for rebuilding the country and lending the hoped for post-Assad Syrian government as much as 300 billion US$ to be secured by Syrian assets (which means, that creditors could easily take control of the public sector). The buyers of the debt would be largely US banks together with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf monarchies.

IMF officials estimate that the value of the public sector in Syria exceeds half a trillion US$.

FSA 05 2013 13

According to the SCPR, the losses inflicted on the Syrian economy until the first quarter of this year amount to 84.4 billion US$. The losses include: 8 billion US$ in lost GDP, 13 billion US$ in lost capital and around 7 billion US$ in military expenditures.

The general internal and external debt to GDP ratio increased from 48 percent in 2012 to 65 percent during the first quarter of this year. The external debt constituted around 49 percent of the GDP during the first four months of this year.

The SCPR report, titled “Socioeconomic Roots and Impact of the Syrian Crisis,” estimated that 12 percent of Syrians live under the poverty line, while around 33.6 percent are threatened by poverty. The number of poor people has increased by 3.1 million and poverty is (unsurprisingly) more concentrated in rural areas.

From a business point of view it makes perfect sense to send more and more advanced weapons to the islamic fighters because the more assets they are able to destroy, the more lucrative the rebuilding contracts will be.

destruction Syria 06 2013

The most puzzling news bit came from the Israeli news (and disinformation) agency DEBKAfile. According to DEBKAfile Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan decided to close the corridor through Turkey, that US-NATO used to transfer arms and rebel fighters. Erdogan is reportedly afraid of Russian retribution.
http://www.debka.com/article/23066/US-troop-buildup-in-Jordan-after-Turkey-shuts-US-NATO-arms-corridor-to-Syrian-rebels

If true, this about-turn would be a strategic earthquake, leaving the rebels, who occupy parts of Aleppo, in a hopeless situation. Without the supply lines to the Turkish boarder, which is only 40 km away, they would be crashed within a few weeks.

But why does an Israeli news agency publish this information? Shall it signal increased Israeli involvement in accordance with stepped up US-NATO activities in Jordan? King Abdullah II already allows Israel to use Jordan’s airspace.
http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/04/22/299641/jordan-allows-israel-drone-attack-on-syria/

Rosy computer DSCN0636

What did I personally do in the meantime?

I built a second greenhouse and I’m working like a dog to keep the garden in order: watering, weeding, planting and transplanting, fighting slugs, woodlice, caterpillars, beetles, putting up traps for all these pests, removing fungi infected leaves, and finally: Harvesting.

strawberry harvest DSCN0662

Greenhouses are a wonderful invention, they protect vulnerable plants from bad weather and from pests, they provide a simplified and therefore easier manageable biosphere. I could write a praise of the greenhouse, but other and more qualified people have done that before me, one has only to search-engine.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_advantages_of_greenhouse_technology

I understand now, why IAF pilots are so keen on bombing the greenhouses in Gaza.

My second greenhouse is only half the size of the old one, but it is more stable, easier to clean, maintain, and repair, and I was able set it up without needing any help.

Greenhouse 1 DSCN0643

The greenhouse was a kit packed in three parcels, just compact enough that I could transport them in my car. The kit included aluminum profiles, a steel base, polycarbonate panels and the necessary steel clips to keep them in place, bolts and nuts, and a few other small parts. The dimensions are 193 centimeters (6 feet 4 inch) width and height, 254 centimeters (8 feet 4 inch) length.

This is a clever designed and mature product. Similar kits are sold all over the world with nearly identical dimensions and only slight variations in insignificant details. I don’t know if the design is licensed or if just everybody rushed in to copy a superb product.

Greenhouse 2 DSCN0647

The online store Menards writes that this hobby greenhouse can usually be assembled by two or more people in a single day. I did it alone, so I needed two days, four hours alone to dig the trenches for the steel base profiles and the holes for the anchors of the steel base plus one hour to remove the grass layer.

Everything fitted perfectly, only one panel was 0.7 centimeters too long and I had to cut it with a saw. Applying the steel clips was a bit tricky and I needed to try various methods till I found out how to do it best.

The greenhouse is already populated by 12 tomato plants and I will start various experiments to find out how to use the space best.

Greenhouse 3 DSCN0652

As I wrote at the start, people are often (most times?) smarter than their leaders. Gardening is in and all the hardware shops, DIY stores, even normal supermarkets are full of gardening tools, seed packets, seedlings, potting soil, and other gardening materials. It appears that nearly everybody tries to cultivate the backyard at home or at least convert a part of the lawn to grow her/his own food.

Is this the solution to the menacing ecological disaster? Will permaculture, subsistence farming and gardening, urban gardening, vertical farming and gardening, indoor farms and gardens produce enough food to reduce industrial agriculture to a bearable (bearable for nature) level?

Don’t trust the prophets of a new age of green living, of permaculture, of self sufficiency. They may be well-intentioned, benevolent, altruistic, but they know nothing. They know nothing and they have no idea about what they are talking. A change will come one way or the other, that is for sure, yet it will not be as easy as the cocky prophets and their blue eyed followers want to make us believe.

Greenhouse 4 DSCN0655

I was furious some years ago when I read Lester Brown’s gloating description of Illinois as the worlds bread basket and I considered him since then as just another camouflaged lobbyist for ago business. He changed his position in the meantime and I also have now a better understanding of his reasoning at the time when he made this statement. Of course, he studied agricultural science at Rutgers University, this are his roots.

Nobody can deny that industrial farming (using machines, automated large scale processes, inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation) has freed millions of people from back-breaking, exhausting work. Nobody can deny that millions of brains were freed from the arduous and strenuous job of growing food, making it possible to use the combined intelligence of many generations for unprecedented scientific and technological advances.

But:

Industrial farming uses up scarce water resources and the runoff pollutes creeks and rivers, lakes and seas. Industrial farming uses gigantic amounts of fossil fuels for powering the machines and for producing the fertilizers and pesticides. Phosphorus and potassium cannot be synthesized and will run out eventually, nitrogen synthesis is energy intensive. Pesticides are poisoning all creatures indiscriminately and the conversion of pristine nature to farm fields destroys the habitat of rare species.

Industrial agriculture worked well for a few generations and it is still working fairly well with some hiccups here and there, but it is an ecological catastrophe, it is destroying the future of all generations to come.

Our descendants (if there are any) will hate us!

If one is addicted to and comfortable with consumerism, if one doesn’t want to leave the party despite the inevitability of a terrible hangover, if one ignores the writing on the wall, if one couldn’t care less about the children’s future: Right on, right on, full speed.

Let the economies grow forever!

BASF plants 1

Lester Brown has changed his position about industrial farming and today he would also not be able to paint Illinois’ agriculture in such a glowing light as he did then: At first farmers in Illinois experienced significant losses due to an unprecedented, statewide heat and drought, now their crops are ruined by torrential rains, devastating floods, and heavy storms. As one farmer reportedly said: “This is the worst spring I can remember in my 30 years of farming,”

The organic lentils from farms in my country that I bought until now are at present not available because of crop failure.

Nature is self-regulating.

A change will come one way or the other, but the transition to a sustainable society will not be as easy as the permaculture prophets want to make us believe. Predictions seldom come true, but one thing is for sure and brazenly evident, if one wakes up, looks around, and uses common sense: The times of plenty, of affluence, of leisure and joyous laziness, of musing and creative reflection, will be over soon — at least for the most of us.

Permaculture works well in theory. But in real life, you could hit a snag soon. In ideal situations, when everything runs smoothly, you will grow your food and have some time to do what you please.

blueberry bush

But there is adverse weather (drought, torrential rains, hail, storms), there are pests, there are fungal and bacterial epidemics.

You will have to work like a dog, you will have to work till every bone aches. Eight hours a day may not be enough, you will have to work twelve hours a day or more. You will live from day to day, from hand to mouth.

Billions of people live like that right now.

Indias poor 1

Billions of people work as hard as they can, only to see their fields dried up by drought or swept away by floods.

A few hundred millions of people in the affluent countries of the Western Hemisphere still have a party. And it is early in the morning.

Waiting for the sunrise and a new day.

sunrise hills

 

4 comments

  1. i am glad you came in :)
    i trashed over 800 kept maybe 100, i can not keep up

    Like


  2. Hello and thank you for your interesting blog. I have an unusual inquiry. I am writing a book on Syria and searching for an appropriate cover image. The image in your blog of the woman in the destroyed city is very striking. Would you by any chance direct me to who ever I would need to speak to to use that image? I hate to be so forward about it but I would love to use that photo.

    Best Regards. Bruce McLaren.

    Like


    • I have no idea who made this picture or who may have intellectual property rights. I usually clear all metadata and modify the pictures so that the origin can not be traced back too easily. Pictures from SANA are for sure free to use.

      Like


  3. Thanks for the article on Agroecelogy in Cuba, it was really interesting – as was everything else.

    Like



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: