Friday, October 2, 2009

Well worth it

I hate recommending a theater other than our own lovely Salem Cinema, but if you see movies in theaters rather than waiting for DVDs, then you'll find that Michael Moore's latest, "Capitalism, A Love Story" is well worth your time and money. As Wikipedia says:

Capitalism: A Love Story is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Michael Moore. The film centers on the financial crisis of 2007–2009 and the recovery stimulus, while putting forward an indictment of the current economic order in the United States and capitalism in general. Topics covered include everything from Wall Street's "casino mentality," for-profit prisons, Goldman Sachs' influence in Washington, DC, the poverty-level of many airline pilots, the large wave of home foreclosures, and the consequences of "runaway greed."[1]

UPDATE: Simon Johnson's website, Check it out. All the details Michael Moore can't fit into a two-hour movie.

Hopeful sign: work bikes on the rise

Chengdu China working bikeImage by Cheryl & Rich via Flickr


"Clearly it wasn't going to be profitable if we were continuing to drive around town," . . . . [T]he company credits the bike fleet with keeping its operating costs down and helping to attract clients who support environmentally friendly business practices. They also help find workers.

"Janitorial work is not very glamorous, but the letters I get from interested applicants, it makes you feel like people are applying for Nike or something like that," said Hannah Sandmeyer, Q19's manager. . . .

Large distributors that don't like taking their big trucks into the center of the city for a number of small drop-offs contract with B-Line to do their deliveries in the urban core.

"Trucks are often double parked where someone is wheeling five or six cases of something into a cafe, so the size of the vehicle is completely mismatched to the job," said Kathryn Racine-Jones, co-owner with her husband, Franklin, of B-Line.

The company's largest client is Organically Grown, a produce distributor. Since March, B-Line has hauled 100,000 pounds of produce, Racine-Jones said, and they have contracted to have a third delivery bike built locally.
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League of Women Voters meeting on health care issues for action, 10/8

All-Member Meeting: Health Care Issues for Action

What should a health care system in the U.S. look like? In the national debate there has been much misinformation, so the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties (LWVMPC) Health Care interest group has put together a public meeting on the topic to be held on Thursday, October 8, at 7 p.m. in the First Congregational Church, 700 Marion St. NE.

The program will combine education with action, beginning with education.

  • Since the League already has a position in support of health care availability to all U.S. citizens, the program will begin with excerpts of that position from the LWV of the U.S. (LWVUS) Impact on Issues. Hand-out materials will be provided.

  • Two films will offer information about the current way that Americans receive health care: a video of Wendell Potter interviewed by Bill Moyers about why he left Cigna Corporation and Sicko, a documentary by Michael Moore about the variable availability of health care in the U.S. Dr. Andy Harris will answer questions.

The evening will end with action--an explanation of what LWVMPC is doing locally, including plans for a Guest Opinion in the Statesman Journal and possible future forums. This action is based on the LWVUS position in support of a national health care system. Attendees will be encouraged to do individual action, such as contacting their members of Congress and writing personal letters to the editor (letters that do not mention the League, since only the president or her designate can speak for the League).

The Health Care interest group is composed of Anita Owen, Jan Markee, Sandra Gangle, Cindy Burgess, Roz Shirack, Jean Sherbeck, Diana Bodtker, Kathy Pugh, and Rose Lewis.

Speaking of urban hens

Weren't we? Anyway, Sharon Astyk has a great post on a great idea: "Right to Urban Farming" laws. Excerpt:

Now obviously, in city centers, standard right to farm laws can’t be applied wholesale. First of all, most of the farms have been removed - that is, we’re not talking about protecting existing farmers, but enabling new ones so the “sniff before you move” test can’t be applied here. Second of all, I think we can all reasonably agree that some kinds of agricultural and livestock production are probably not appropriate in urban environments, and that living in cities requires a high degree of accomodation of others.

That said, however, 5 of the 6 largest US cities permit chickens in backyards. Many have minimal or no restrictions on urban livestock - there are goats in LA and pigs in Brooklyn, and chickens nearly everywhere, and people manage to get along quite well. A friend of mine has 5 acres in an affluent suburb of Boston (it wasn’t affluent when she bought them), and has horses, goats, a pig, chickens, turkeys and geese. I know another person with three cows inside the city limits of Evanston.

But there are also cities that permit no livestock, not even poultry - as Gene Logsdon has put it, “you can have a barking, crapping dog the size of a pony, but not three quiet hens.” In other cities, there may be elaborate and excessive laws that benefit neither residents nor the city that has to enforce them - for example, in Beverly, MA, where my mother and step-mother keep 4 hens, they were required to get permission from every single one of their abutters, to have their property inspected, and have a yearly inspection by the town vet. Any increase in flock size requires more queries, more permissions, more visits. Meanwhile, the next town over has a “six chickens per household” flat policy - no inspections. Given the cost in time and effort to her city, as well as the barrier having to approach your neighbors offers, this process really ought to be streamlined.