Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Career Services Office is Open

The National Organic Program administers the O...Image via WikipediaI have many time repeated ["Everything!" my bride says quietly enough for all to hear loudly] that the best advice for young people today is to "Know how to grow your own food or to be useful to those who do."

Looks like I'm on to something. A scholarly LOVESalem correspondent/friend sends:

I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but the cover story in the Fall 2010 issues of OOQ is about "careers in organic food production."

[OOQ is "Occupational Outlook Quarterly."]
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Mother Earth News Garden Planner

A while ago I participated in a survey with Mother Earth News on garden planners and I was fantasizing about a system that would keep track not only of your climate but also your garden history so that it would warn you when you were thinking of planting things from the same families in the same places (which encourages diseases and reduces yields) . . .

Lo and behold, they must have listened, because they have come up with an awesome web-based garden planner application. I'm going to play with the free trial all through December and then join after January 1 ($25/yr). I can't wait! LOVESalem HQ really needs this.

More like this, please! Tax-foreclosed lots to urban garden space

Sauvie Island School near Riverview, Multnomah...Image via WikipediaHat tip to Portland Mercury and Sightline Institute for noticing this, a great idea that could easily be replicated in Marion County:
Gone to seed

Scattered around Multnomah County are 384 vacant lots that stick out like little scars of a lousy economy. For years, the county has been trying to figure out what to do with these lots - empty land seized through property tax foreclosure. But now the county has finally hit on a new idea to bring life to the abandoned lots: turning them into urban gardens. Portland Mercury 11/28/2010
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday shopping, done.

For locals, especially those enjoying the fabulous "Movie a Week" habit at Salem Cinema:
Cinebucks are back starting tomorrow, "Black Friday," and running to New Year's: Get $30 Cinebucks for great movies and tasty treats at Salem Cinema or High Street Cinema for only $25.
In their own words:
You can buy an entire year's worth of great movie entertainment for a lot less.

Our special annual holiday savings offer is back!

Beginning Friday and running through the end of December, you can purchase $30 worth of our CineBucks for only $25, $60 worth for only $50, $90 worth for only $75, $120 worth for only $100!

Pick some up for friends, co-workers, teachers and relatives . . . and even pocket a few for yourself! CineBucks come in $5 increments and work just like cash at our box office or concession stand.
Outstanding gifts for loved ones far away -- no shipping costs, no needless junk, always fits right.

Today also offers us a chance to be thankful for the many fine locally owned businesses that we enjoy.

I'm thankful for these places because their owners live and work here, care for our concerns, and plan to stay in the community. These are the people who, when they say, "business community," you don't feel like vomiting.

And it's not just the wonderful Salem Cinema, but it's also places like Bike Peddler and Santiam Bicycle, Cooke Stationery, Cascade Baking Company, Saffron Supply Company (so old school there's no website!), LifeSource Natural Foods, One Fair World, Clydes Lock and Key (also old school), Church Street Pizza, La Margarita Express, Willamette Noodle Company, Marco Polo . . .

(Note -- all mentions above unsolicited and unpaid.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In other news, water is wet

New York Stock ExchangeImage by Bert van Dijk via Flickr
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WORD: Chris Hedges

As Orwell noted, the hallmark of totalitarian power is the ability to call black white and have throngs of apparachiks dutifully nod and say "Yes, black is white."

So with "health care reform," a massive attempt to cement the corporate takeover of health care into place forever, especially with its absurd individual mandate, an order from the mob bosses to buy their "protection" or pay a penalty to their enforcer, the thug they hire to do their collections.

In true Orwellian fashion, Palintards and the Faux News crowd endlessly shriek about the "government takeover of health care" -- the point being to call black white and keep people from noticing that "Obamacare" is nothing more than a more expensive, more profitable, more totalitarian version of what we have now: health care rationing by wealth, with a collapsing public health system cheek-by-jowl with ultra-high-tech care for the apparachiks who please the mob bosses.

We have much to be thankful for this November, but much to be dismayed about. People like Chris Hedges are among the former. Some excerpts from his latest blast:
Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion
Monday 22 November 2010
by: Chris Hedges | Truthdig | Op-Ed

. . . Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician from Maryland who volunteers for Physicians for a National Health Program, knows what it is like to challenge the corporate leviathan. She was blacklisted by the corporate media. She was locked out of the debate on health care reform by the Democratic Party and liberal organizations such as MoveOn. She was abandoned by those in Congress who had once backed calls for a rational health care policy. And when she and seven other activists demanded that the argument for universal health care be considered at the hearings held by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, they were forcibly removed from the hearing room.

"The reform process exposed how broken our system is," Flowers said when we spoke a few days ago. "The health reform debate was never an actual debate. Those in power were very reluctant to have single-payer advocates testify or come to the table. They would not seriously consider our proposal because it was based on evidence of what works. And they did not want this evidence placed before the public. They needed the reform to be based on what they thought was politically feasible and acceptable to the industries that fund their campaigns." . . .

“You can't effect change from the inside,” she has concluded. “We have a huge imbalance of power. Until we have a shift in power we won't get effective change in any area, whether financial, climate, you name it. With the wealth inequalities, with the road we are headed down, we face serious problems. Those who work and advocate for social and economic justice have to now join together. We have to be independent of political parties and the major funders. The revolution will not be funded. This is very true.”

“Those who are working for effective change are not going to get foundation dollars,” she stated. “Once a foundation or a wealthy individual agrees to give money they control how that money is used. You have to report to them how you spend that money. They control what you can and cannot do. Robert Wood Johnson [the foundation], for example, funds many public health departments. They fund groups that advocate for health care reform, but those groups are not allowed to pursue or talk about single-payer. Robert Wood Johnson only supports work that is done to create what they call public/private partnership. And we know this is totally ineffective. We tried this before. It is allowing private insurers to exist but developing programs to fill the gaps. Robert Wood Johnson actually works against a single-payer health care system. The Health Care for America Now coalition was another example. It only supported what the Democrats supported.

There are a lot of activist groups controlled by the Democratic Party, including Families USA and MoveOn. MoveOn is a very good example. If you look at polls of Democrats on single-payer, about 80 percent support it. But at MoveOn meetings, which is made up mostly of Democrats, when people raised the idea of working for single-payer they were told by MoveOn leaders that the organization was not doing that. And this took place while the Democrats were busy selling out women's rights, immigrant rights to health care and abandoning the public option. Yet all these groups continued to work for the bill. They argued, in the end, that the health care bill had to be supported because it was not really about health care. It was about the viability of President Obama and the Democratic Party. This is why, in the end, we had to pass it.”

“The Democrats and the Republicans give the illusion that there are differences between them,” said Dr. Flowers. “This keeps the public divided. It weakens opposition. We fight over whether a Democrat will get elected or a Republican will get elected. We vote for the lesser evil, but meanwhile the policies the two parties enact are not significantly different. There were no Democrats willing to hold the line on single-payer. Not one. I don't see this changing until we radically shift the balance of power by creating a larger and broader social movement.”

The corporate control of every aspect of American life is mirrored in the corporate control of health care. And there are no barriers to prevent corporate domination of every sector of our lives.

“We are at a crisis,” Flowers said. “Health care providers, particularly those in primary care, are finding it very difficult to sustain an independent practice. We are seeing greater and greater corporatization of our health care. Practices are being taken over by these large corporations. You have absolutely no voice when it comes to dealing with the insurance company. They tell you what your reimbursements will be. They make it incredibly difficult and complex to get reimbursed. The rules are arbitrary and change frequently.”

“This new legislation [passed earlier this year] does not change any of that,” she said. “It does not make it easier for doctors. It adds more administrative complexity. We are going to continue to have a shortage of doctors. As the new law rolls out they are giving waivers as the provisions kick in because corporations like McDonald's say they can't comply. Insurance companies such as WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Cigna and Humana that were mandated to sell new policies to children with pre-existing conditions announced they were not going to do it. They said they were going to stop selling new policies to children. So they got waivers from the Obama administration allowing them to charge higher premiums. Health care costs are going to rise faster.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that after the legislation passed, our health care costs would rise more steeply than if we had done nothing. The Census Bureau reports that the number of uninsured in the U.S. jumped 10 percent to 51 million people in 2009. About 5.8 million were able to go on public programs, but a third of our population under the age of 65 was uninsured for some portion of 2009. The National Health Insurance Survey estimates that we now have 58 or 59 million uninsured. And the trend is toward underinsurance. These faulty insurance products leave people financially vulnerable if they have a serious accident or illness. They also have financial barriers to care. Co-pays and deductibles cause people to delay or avoid getting the care they need. And all these trends will worsen.” . . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Even when the buildings don't actually fall down, LEED is questionable

Turns out that, like so many other things in America since R. Reagan told Americans that the only thing they needed was a sunny optimism, LEED is a lot more about marketing than engineering.

As the proud owners of a $34 million "LEED-Certified" disaster, people in Salem and Marion County should probably be open to the message that it's time to rethink our certifications. Unless builders and architects are willing to offer performance guarantees for how the building will work in practice, any money spent on certifications might just as well be spent on building a corral for the Magic Unicorn that they promised you too.

(I think of this video every day when I see the "LEED" plaque on Courthouse Square -- no doubt the LEED salesmen are insisting that it's a chance in a million for gravity to pull down a building.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

As we contemplate our diminished circumstances

Professor Butts and the Self-Operating NapkinThis makes more sense than ethanol does. Image via WikipediaWe should never forget that Oregon and the US Government continue to shovel billions of dollars into a Rube-Goldberg scam called ethanol -- which is, at bottom, nothing but a way to launder fossil fuels into a so-called "renewable" fuel.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Littering: It's OK if you bully City Hall enough

The Gannett chain, owners of the Salem Statesman-Journal, are really throwing their weight around and doing their best to intimidate Salem's City Council by threatening legal action against the city if it takes any action against the weekly dumping of tons of unwanted waste paper and plastic bags on Salem's streets -- with costs of cleanup all billed to us, with all profits from the unwanted junk going to Gannett.

The photo shows just one of countless examples of Gannett's narcissistic, socially destructive behavior -- that's 15th St. NE, not too far from the Statesman-Journal presses. Four, count 'em four dumped advertising junk bags left foul the streets and block proper drainage.

The legal issues are interesting, because it shows bullying at its finest. Gannett has no legal leg to stand on if Salem passes a content-neutral ordinance that requires anyone who distributes unrequested commercial materials to collect any remaining outside a day or two after they are first dumped. That would simply be an ordinance for the public health and safety, what the legal types call an exercise of the city's police powers.

But after learning that Gannett has been threatening to throw its weight around over the issue, I realized that we can even do it better with an even more untouchable ordinance that Gannett would like even less: Require anyone distributing unrequested commercial flyers or other dropoff materials to register the dropoff with the city, provide a toll-free collection number, and to post a bond to ensure proper collection of unwanted copies -- say, a nickel for each copy to be distributed. There'd be no opportunity for censorship or government meddling: the city could not stop or hinder the dropoff. The only thing the registration would do is establish the dates where the dropoff was going to occur and the number of copies (to set the bond amount). Then, after each dropoff, anyone who didn't want the junk would call the toll-free number provided by the distributor, give their address, and the distributor would have to collect the material within 24 hours.

Any copies that remain on the street 48 hours after distribution are charged against the distributor's deposit at the rate of 50 cents each. City Neighborhood Enhancement Services staff collect the dumped-and-forgotten copies and keep the 50 cents to improve Neighborhood Services throughout the city.

Or, I suppose, Gannett could stop dumping garbage on Salem streets and making us pay for cleaning it up.

WORD: America just going through the motions on reforms

DIY Fake Ice CubesFake ice is just as real as our commitment to dealing with reality. Image by Kyle May via FlickrSad but true.
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Spotted: An extremely sane Republican . . . lost in a primary of course . . .

Amazing - a Republican from South Carolina no less.


Local Heroes: Salem's coolest new nonprofit's cool new newsletter

Local Harvest, which is about a year old right about now, having just gotten started last year, is still in the lead for Salem's coolest nonprofit for 2010. Now they've gone and got a newsletter even (pdf), so you can see some of what you missed if you didn't sign up to help out.
Thanks so much for your support of Neighborhood Harvest. Almost 800 community volunteers picked more than 50,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables this season, with half donated to the Marion-Polk Food Share. We wanted to send a link to our first newsletter, and invite you to join us again next year.

Best wishes!

Steering Committee Members
Neighborhood Harvest of Salem
And don't forget to thank these local heroes for supporting Local Harvest:
Thanks to our supporters!
$1,000 or above
Shannon Blake
Renato and Maria Labate
Lake Labish Farms
The Marble Center
Molly Pearmine McCargar
Norman and Kay McDonald of McDonald Family Farms
Karen and Steve Weiss
Dick Yates and Nadene LeCheminant
Mike and Lisa Zwart
Nathan and Alicia Bay
John Savage
Matthew and Kimberly Boles
Lisa Clark-Burnell and Kelly Burnell
Jeffrey Egan, in memory of Diana Egan
Roz Shirack
NEIGHBORHOOD HARVEST OF SALEM was established in January 2010. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is a project of Friends of Salem Saturday Market and supports Marion-Polk Food Share through donations of produce. Our mission is to build community, alleviate hunger, preserve our heritage and promote simple, sustainable lifestyles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Best Short YouTube of the Year, 2010 Winner

Double-click for full-screen version.

On the folly of hoping for A while rewarding B

Mayor Janet Taylor pens on op-ed piece calling for high-speed rail in the Willamette Valley. While she is also pushing to blow hundreds of millions on a new auto bridge to speed commuters up and down I-5 and blowing millions on an airport that will probably never have scheduled air service again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Do not miss "INSIDE JOB" at Salem Cinema

The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showin...Image via WikipediaWall Street, all Republicans and the vast majority of elected Democrats, caught in their permanent cringe, all hope that you will NOT go to Salem Cinema at Broadway & Market to see "INSIDE JOB." Reason enough for you to go.

But there's also that the movie does a good job explaining why Salem is hurting so badly now -- thanks to the bipartisan alliance of thugs who waltz between Wall St. and "regulatory" jobs in Washington, people throughout the mid-Valley are being laid off, laid bare, laid out, and laid six feet under, all for the greater glory and profit of those thugs -- not a single one of whom Obama has even spoken harshly to, much less jailed.

Do not miss it.

UPDATE: The movie does a great job unmasking the thugs, the same crowd that Krugman, the Nobelist who should also win a Pulitzer, skewers here.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A kind word for Obama: At least he's not insane

WWI amputee at Walter ReedImage by yksin via FlickrBarry O. has been a terrible disappointment, a man who never went into a negotiation without first giving his opponent all his bargaining chips.

UPDATE: Alas, it is true that he has a spine of overcooked pasta. He doesn't even know how to turn aggressive overreaching by his opponents to his advantage. Pitiful.
But then you read something like this and you realize how lucky we are that John McCain and Sarah Palin aren't in charge.

An Unknown Soldier

. . . Several U.S. senators had gathered at the Halifax International Security Forum, an annual gathering that is the brainchild of Peter MacKay, Canada's defense minister. One of them, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, immediately put President Obama on notice.

Resurgent Republicans would be looking for him to "be tough with Iran beyond sanctions." If it came to war, the United States should "sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime."

Sure, Graham conceded, "you can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose." Another war is the "last thing America wants." But a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable and containment "off the table."

This is dangerous talk from an influential Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee. The United States, in its current depleted state, cannot afford another war in a Muslim country. It cannot find itself fighting across a 2,000-mile front stretching through Arab, Persian and Central Asian worlds. You could forget about the tenuous progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Iran can flick switches. From Lebanon to Gaza, on Israel's borders, tensions would boil.

But Graham's words were instructive. The pressure on Obama from Congress is going to grow. David Broder of the Washington Post even suggested recently that a war in Iran might spur the U.S. economy, just as World War II did.

The United States does not need the stimulus package from hell. This is a moment of great American uncertainty, a volatile passage. Sunni Pakistan has nukes and Al Qaeda. Shiite Iran has neither. It would be tragic to ignore the lessons of Iraq, stumble onto a war train armed with flimsy evidence, and imagine Iran is close to a bomb when there's no conclusive evidence it's made the decision to build one. Remember, the mullahs love ambiguity. It's their element, along with maddening inertia. To risk "breakout" is to risk the Islamic Republic. Hence the waiting-for-Godot aspects of their nuclear zigzag.

When I heard those words — "neuter that regime" — what I saw was a shattered body in Tampa. A third U.S war is inconceivable.

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WORD: But no cop, DA, or judge will be jailed or even fined over this

Map of Death Penalty State statutes in the Uni...Image via Wikipedia

Death for the death penalty

By Leonard Pitts Jr.
. . . Graves' release came after his story appeared in Texas Monthly magazine (www.texasmonthly.com). The article by Pamela Colloff detailed how he was convicted even though no physical evidence tied him to the crime, even though he had no motive to kill six strangers, even though three witnesses testified he was home at the time of the slaughter.

The case against Graves rested entirely upon jailhouse denizens who claimed they'd heard him confess and upon one Robert Carter, who admitted committing the crime, but initially blamed Graves. Carter, executed in 2000, recanted that claim repeatedly, most notably to District Attorney Charles Sebesta the day before Sebesta put him on the stand to testify against Graves. Defense attorneys say Sebesta never shared that exculpatory tidbit with them, even though he was required to do so. . . .
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Will Rogers's ghost writes from the present about the GOP takeover

Will RogersImage via WikipediaKenneth Chapman
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

WORD: our banana republic

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Oregonian Nick Kristof, with his mokita (New Guinean word for the truth that everyone knows but no one admits).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grandpa, do you know who I am?

Drawing comparing how a brain of an Alzheimer ...Image via WikipediaAn important subject at Salem Public Library:
The Alzheimer’s Network of Oregon presents

Grandpa Do You Know Who I Am?

6 p.m. Wednesday, November 17
Loucks Auditorium, Main Library, Salem

Grandpa Do You Know Who I Am is an HBO Project Alzheimer’s DVD presentation featuring Maria Shriver and focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and the family, especially grandchildren. Following the presentation of this DVD there will be a question and answer session with a panel of children and professionals.

Grandparents, grandchildren, and families are encouraged to attend. This program is presented by the Alzheimer’s Network, a non-profit organization serving those dealing with Alzheimer’s in Benton, Linn, Marion and Polk counties, with sponsorship from the Cedar Village Memory Care Community.

This presentation is free and open to the public. More information about the program and the Alzheimer’s Network is available at 503-364-8100 or 1-866-425-9638 or www.alznet.org.
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Probably last chance to tell DEQ to stop climate destabilization at Boardman

Boardman needs to get off coal sooner, not later.

WORD: Our winner-take-all economy is rooted in our winner-take-all politics

Important event in Portland at the end of the month:
Winner-Take-all Politics w/Paul Pierson

1st Unitarian Church, SW 12th and Salmon, Portland OR
November 30, 2010, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Sponsored by Alliance for Democracy - Portland

Winner-Take-All Politics, How Washington Made the Rich Richer - and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, with co-author Paul Pierson

A groundbreaking work that identifies the real culprit behind one of the greatest economic crimes of our time - the growing inequality of incomes between the vast majority of Americans and the richest of the rich.

Paul Pierson and his co-author, Jacob Hacker, demonstrate convincingly that the usual suspects - foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top - are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect - American politics. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics.

Sponsored by Alliance for Democracy, Economic Justice Action Group of the First Unitarian Church and KBOO - Community supported radio

Cost: $5 - 20 sliding scale, no one turned away. More information: David Delk,, Alliance for Democracy. 503.232.5495

From Salem to Harpers

Now that's marketing. The famous "Index" feature in the November 2010 Harper's magazine has this as the first entry:
Date that Tea Party Bookshop of Salem, Oregon, changed its name to Tigress Books: 8/24/10

Alas, Tigress Books has decamped to Monmouth and we're the worse for it. Best wishes to JoAnne there.