Justice, American style

by Sherry Ackerman

I was summoned to jury selection a few days ago. Now, you have to realize that this is about the fifth time in a year that I’ve been called to come in. I live in Siskiyou County, California — which has a human population density of 7.2 people per square mile. It’s real rural up here (that’s an understatement). So, if one meets the qualifications for jury duty, you get called upon pretty often. I don’t know, though, why they even bother to call me anymore, because it always goes just about the same. I show up, answer (under oath) their questions and, ultimately, get sent home as “unsuitable for jury service.” And, that’s precisely what happened again this time.

I arrived, summons in hand, to the County Courthouse. Yes, that is the same Siskiyou County Courthouse where $3 million dollars worth of historic gold nuggets were heisted last February. So, you can imagine what the security is like there now. After being told that having my sunglasses pushed up on my head constituted a security threat, I got the idea that the whole day might be a little rough.

There had been about 100 people called. Since Siskiyou County covers 6,278 square miles, some of these people had driven 2 or 3 hours to get there. The first order of business was to inform everyone that the County no longer offered a day stipend or mileage for jury selection. And, gasoline costs $4.47 a gallon for regular. These are not wealthy equity refugees, either. Siskiyou County people work — hard — for a per capita income of $28,447 a year. That’s $5,000 above the national poverty level. There are those here that don’t work. But, it’s not because they are financially independent. It’s because the official unemployment rate here is 18.8%.

So, with no day stipend, no mileage reimbursement and no lunch, more than 100 people settled into the task of “doing their civic duty” at their own expense. As it were, I was seated toward the back of the room and got to hear dozens of other people answer these questions before it was my turn. People swore loyalty to The Man by testifying that they would, of course, allow a police officer to stop and search them on the street for no apparent reason. I mean, after all, the police are there to protect us, right? My head was reeling. Really? I knew it wasn’t going to go well if I got asked the same question.

When it was finally my turn to be questioned, they asked me if I had ever had any bad experiences with the “system.” I thought about it for quite a while before answering (under oath) that I actually couldn’t remember any good experiences that I had ever had with the “system”. The judge didn’t look too happy about this answer and asked me to explain. Well, they asked …! So, I told them that I thought that the “system” was broken — profoundly so — and that it couldn’t, by its very design, tender anything recognizable as “justice”. You could have heard a pin drop in that old Courthouse. The bailiff’s back stiffened up and the judge looked stern. I knew that, in actuality, a whole lot of the other jury candidates agreed with me. But, they would sooner have died than admitted it. They were too busy pledging allegiance to The Man to step out on a limb.

The judge, though, wasn’t quite finished. She wanted me to detail a couple of examples of just how the “system” was broken. This was easy. The California prison system holds 143,643 prisoners in state prisons designed to hold 84,130. From 1982 to 2000, California’s prison population increased 500%. The recidivism rate, which has long been among the highest in the country, clocks in at 67.5 percent. This clearly, I responded, was not a “corrections” model, as nothing was being “corrected.” When I reminded her that California is a “three strikes” state that still has a death penalty, she shrugged her shoulders. I, on the other hand, mumbled something about barbarism.

I was just gearing up to pitch my ideas about rehabilitation and vocational training when the judge banged the gavel down and excused me from service. She announced that I might be “lenient” toward the defense and fail to uphold the letter of the law with sufficient rigor. I replied that I would certainly “see the defendant as a human being.” She wasn’t sure where to go with that comment.

I knew where to go with it: out the door. I felt a surge of relief as I left the room. I was working under a whole different operating system than all of those potential jurors who felt that “it was an honor” to serve in the “system”, or who were willing to be searched without cause, or who were OK with eating vending-machine items for lunch. Somehow, I couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm for burning 5 or 6 gallons of petro-fuel to drive to the County seat to hear a case that was already pre-determined in the “systems” mind.

On the way out, I asked the bailiff why pushing my sunglasses up on my head constituted a security threat. He scowled and told me that “hats weren’t allowed in a Courtroom.” Well, of course. And, I left feeling like I had just completed a little romp through Wonderland … because, as the Cheshire Cat so aptly pointed out, “we’re all mad here.”


Sherry Ackerman, Ph.D., author of The Good Life: How to Live a Sustainable and Fulfilling Lifestyle, is a socially engaged philosopher who believes in doing “philosophy on the streets”. For more information, visit her website at www.sherryackerman.com.


The pre-premiere of Mike Sosebee’s film, Somewhere in New Mexico Before the End of Time will be released at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, 17 November 2012 at Vegas Roots Community Garden, 715 North Tonopah Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada. A question and answer period will follow.


Since summer, this website has become an unpleasant place to provide intelligent commentary, and a few who comment here apparently do so only in an attempt to draw others into senseless arguments. In the spirit of starting anew, I am asking for a voluntary return to civility. If civility in this space cannot be achieved voluntarily, some combination of moderation and blocking will be instituted. Comments intended to insult, instead of inform, will not be posted unless they are particularly clever and intended or generated by me. I don’t care who “started it” (to quote the childish line invoked in this space to rationalize continued childish behavior). Please send all hate mail to guy.r.mcpherson@gmail.com.

To clarify, because apparently it’s necessary: Off-topic comments are perfectly fine. Bringing to this arena personal attacks is not fine.

Comments 229

  • It is getting harder and harder to appear in public and to maintain a facade. Just had a big, big football weekend here in this small college town. The delusions will continue, until they can’t, and then they won’t. (James Howard Kunstler paraphrase)

  • Jury Nullification. Stay on the jury, and don’t convict people of victimless crimes. The DA will soon catch drift, especially in a rural district.

    Big cities, not so much.

    “When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.” ~Thomas Jefferson

  • I wish that all people recognized that the system is broken and had the guts to say so.

    I wonder what our world would look like if we all acted on our beliefs on a daily basis.

    Thank you Sherry for standing up and being counted as sane in an insane system.

  • Here is the link on Jury Nullification:

    Fully Informed Jury Association

  • Sherry,

    Excelllent, simply excellent. The only choice now is to resist.


    I supportagree and support your choice. Thanks for all you do.

  • Lets try that again… . . I support and agree with your choice.

  • Sherry, thank you for being so truthful and inspirational.

    I was summoned for jury duty in a federal court recently, which would have involved being on-call for months. There was a questionnaire to determine my suitability for service. I answered all the questions, including one about whether I had any children and their ages. I sent it off, assuming that I would have to go in, and preparing myself to be as honest as possible, very similar to the way you described, and wondering how that was going to pan out. Instead, I got a call from a woman at the courthouse, who wanted to know if I was with my 5-year-old full-time (the answer being, yes) and if she had other full-time caregivers (no). She said that I would be excused from jury duty since it fell under the exclusion that said it would compromise the health and well-being of someone under my care.

    I wish I had said something about how I thought everyone involved in the whole system, top to bottom, should be excused because of their health and well-being being compromised.

  • There’s a hidden injustice in the system far more pervasive than the pressure to eliminate humane jurors described in this excellent essay. That is the oppressive plea bargaining system which forces most defendants to cop a plea instead of exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to a jury trial. It’s a well known fact that sentences following a trial conviction are hugely heavier than sentences after a plea of guilty.

    Five defendants were charged with a series of burglaries in my jurisdiction recently. Four of them entered pleas and received sentences ranging from 4 months to 11 years. The fifth went to trial, and upon conviction was sentenced to 95 years!

    There are studies looking into the question of whether or not this system results in innocent defendants pleading guilty. Hmm. I wonder.

  • another Jean,

    I guess that was a rhetorical question. If it was not, my response would be, “Of course!” That is the nature of the System. If you, for example, are not convinced you can prove you are not guilty, you might have to play the odds, opting for a guaranteed minimal sentence, rather than facing the possibility of being the innocent man convicted of a crime he has not committed (and subject to a much stiffer penalty for bucking the System). In many cases it seems the functionaries of the System could care less, as long as they meet their quota. All of this has nothing to do with the presumption of innocence. As Morocco Bama noted, if you are standing in front of a judge you are presumed to be guilty. It is the job of the citizens (jury) to push back against this foregone conclusion but too often, as Sherry notes, too often the jury is made up of citizens who feel as “…potential jurors … that “it was an honor” to serve in the “system”…”

    Michael Irving

  • Sherry Ackerman,

    I can’t thank you enough for your bravery. Forgive me, but images of Harriet Tubman crossed my mind as I was thinking of you. People like you, walking their talk, are an example for all of us.

    Michael Irving

  • Sherry,

    Interesting article and good for you for maintaining your humanity in an unhumane system. —But, wow, Siskiyou County! I graduated from Yreka Union High School a long time ago, in 1977! Old home town! Your article took me back. So the gold nuggets were stolen. I’ve thought about them on occasion. I was thinking they would have had to move those to a more secure location long ago.
    So thank you for the article and the trip to my my old home town – I now live in N. Wisconsin, on Lake Superior. And in a month I’m leaving to work in Barrow, Alaska – gonna go see how all that methane smells for myself-yikes ;) –I’m a nurse practitioner and will be going up there to work for 13 weeks, come home for a month or so and go back. And continue doing that for who knows how long . . .
    This will be my first time going up there. I leave around Dec 15th. I’m a regular reader here and rare poster, but I’ll drop in once in awhile and let you all know how it’s going up in Barrow.

    As always, Guy, thanks for all you do.
    Dawn L

  • I’ve been practicing as a defense attorney for 26 years in our Kafkaesque court system. One of the reasons for the ever increasing incarceration rates in this country is that the prison-industrial complex has been privatized and is a source of significant profits.

    The 3 strikes laws, which mandate draconian sentences for many nonviolent criminals, is about money and has little to do with public safety. In addition to corporate prisons, even state run prisons purchase huge amounts of materials from companies whose main purpose is to supply the gulags with everything from cots to restraining devices. The warehousing of people is big business and requires more and more bodies to fill the empty cell spaces (which are rented to the state). It costs somewhere between 20 to 30 thousand dollars a year to incarcerate one inmate (the equivalent of college tuition at a good school).

    To make matters even more obscene, by virtue of federal laws that were enacted in 1979, corporations have been allowed to use prisoners as a quasi-slave labor force (the prisoners get paid about 50 cents an hour).

    Over the last 20 years, the court systems (at every level) have been packed with ideologically right wing judges who are happy to crank the wheel of injustice in exchange for nice salaries and good pensions (plus the power trip of the black robe).



  • Good on ya, Sherry! I’m glad you were able to make those statements in open court.

    I’ve noticed I only get called for civil cases now, rather than criminal. And still they don’t find me suitable to serve. Hrmm.

  • Sherry,

    Great essay! I served on a jury waay back in the 80s and it wasn’t too bad of an experience. It was an arson case with a white female defendant.

    I wholeheartedly support jury nullification for any non-violent drug crime, and if I ever get past the voie dire again, would love to monkey wrench a trial.

    Sigh. Probably I would be dismissed, just as you were.

    Good for you.

  • i think i’ve been called to jury duty twice now, and dismissed both times similarly to sherry when questioned during the ‘voir dire’ process. totally fucked up imo. they don’t want anyone with an independent mind on jury duty. don’t want anyone interfering with ‘justice’ by use of such means as jury nullification. oh well, if it’s any consolation, the (in)justice system will die along with civilization. however, as long as it’s in force, i was heartened by the vote to legalize (sort of) cannabis for ‘recreational’ use by adults over the age of 21 in the states of colorado and washington in the election just finished. better late than never, right?

  • Guy,

    I’m glad to see you have decided to keep NBL up. I have been thinking about your comments yesterday. I found it hard to sort it out. More denial, perhaps, or just slow brain. Anyway, these are some of the reasons NBL is important to me and why I’m happy you will continue:

    Information of course; NBL acts as a clearing-house of ideas about AGW and the likely direction we are headed. It opens links to myriad sources, from you and everyone else, that I would likely not have tuned in to on my own. The information forces me to think through the evidence and try tease out the truth of it. The information also grounds me in reality, helping me sort through the constant dissonance set up by smart people who should know better, e.g. (In 2025 the fuel economy standard will be 54.5 mpg for cars and light trucks VS. In 2025 we may all be dead!).

    NBL makes me think. I have to struggle to get ideas organized and down on paper. I have to really struggle to have any chance of communicating with the brain power constantly evidenced here on NBL. I have to research my thoughts to be sure when I say something here it is not just something I made up one morning in the shower. I have to broaden my horizons. All of this just to keep from being too timid to even speak up. Of course all this has unexpected benefits. I have become much more confident in my job, which in turn has had rewards for my local community.

    Finally, NBL gives me a sense of community. I know that when I check the latest post and comments I will find a group of people who are struggling with the same horrible reality I am–we are facing the end of the world as we know it and most people don’t know it/won’t accept it. A sense of community made up of people willing to accept me into the group, to listen to what I have to say, and to offer ideas and advise, and of course question me if they think I’ve gone astray (here in Conservistan it is really hard for me to find people to talk to about anything).

    So that’s my take on it. I think NBL is practice for the times to come. If we can’t figure out a way to cope with the problems resulting from the interaction of conflicting ideas here in the virtual world, how will be ever be able to do it in the physical world? Some opt for just giving up. For the rest of us, we will have to work as hard as we can to make the necessary adjustments if we are to survive. I also recognize that in the end nothing we do will save us, as a species. Individually, as Kathy C often notes, everybody dies, but that’s not reason to give up working toward the survival of the species.

    Michael Irving

  • Sherry, great essay. I tend to think that Civilization is always at the root of the problem with THE MAN. We just aren’t wired by evolution to live in stratified societies, but stratification is always found in Civilizations. We can try reform it, and sometimes some things get better, but in the end the structure that encloses us dictates much of what goes on inside.

    Thanks for your courage in speaking honestly. Perhaps someone heard.

  • I worked with an anthropologist who, when he taught the students about class oppression, just took them on a field trip to the county courthouse to watch the proceedings. He didn’t bother to check what was on the docket that day — since it was the same as any other day — punishing the marginalized, criminalizing the poor, and sinking the hooks of state control more deeply into the flesh of all those misfortunate enough to get swept in. That told half the story. To complete it, he had to talk about why other kinds of persons and other kinds of crimes don’t show up at the county courthouse.

  • Sorry off topic but if I don’t post this now I will forget it later
    Podcast at the link, summary below

    Yet more problems for San Onofre: According to Southern California Edison; a possible case of sabotage at the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is being investigated; Gundersen and Hurley discuss how coolant liquid at the plant may have found its way into an unrelated system and threatened the backup power supply. – San Onofre has a long history of employee concerns, and recent layoffs may have exacerbated their employee problems. – The nation’s oldest running Nuclear Plant, Oyster Creek, may remain shut down for longer than expected following the discovery of a crack in the reactor head. – The NRC to back a new study which will re-evaluate earthquake risks and probabilities at U.S. nuclear plants.

  • “Leading up to Mr. Williams’s trial, federal prosecutors offered him various plea bargains, but he turned them all down. He believed, quixotically enough, that he deserved his day in court. He held this conviction even though prosecutors precluded him from presenting his compliance with state law as a defense to the federal charges. Without this essential context, the jury heard a deeply distorted version of Mr. Williams’s story.

    After Mr. Williams’s conviction, the United States attorney general’s office came back with a new deal. If he waived his right to appeal, they would drop most of the charges so that he would face a minimum of 10 years in prison and pay a $288,000 judgment.

    His response? “This is nothing more than slavery and completely disregards my rights as a citizen of the United States of America. I have declined the offer.”


  • I was selected for jury service once. Great fun! On the first morning even before formalities began it was clear us potential jurors fell into two camps: the office workers, like myself, glad for any excuse to be out of the office, and the self employed bitter that doing their civic duty would come at a personal cost. When it was announced that a big trial was starting that might entail far longer than the usual two weeks service, guess which of the two groups volunteered to a man. Not much source for potential bias there, then.

    I was one of the lucky volunteers who drew the jackpot. The trial turned out to be of two men accused of robbing about a dozen small shops at knifepoint. During the case for the prosecution, witness after witness was produced who described being held up at knifepoint and identified the two defendants as the ones who had done it. The accused had made no effort to conceal their identities apart from using black electrical tape to amateurishly disguise the number plates of their getaway vehicle.

    One juror seemed unable to cope with the pressure. He turned up drunk every day and one time proceedings had to be halted whilst he ran to the bathroom to throw up. I can’t imagine what he found stressful about being a juror because it was one of the least stressful experiences of my life.

    The accused were not in custody and every morning as I arrived they were sat outside smoking on the courtroom steps. They never made eye contact and didn’t look particularly dangerous.

    The prosecution’s case lasted two weeks until the morning of the second Friday. The evidence for the prosecution seemed overwhelming and I couldn’t imagine what the defense lawyers were going to come up with to counter it. I needn’t have worried. Part of the defense was that the two defendants didn’t know each other, but under cross examination the mother of one of the defendants admitted the other one had been round for Christmas dinner. The rest of the defense consisted of asking repeatedly could we be absolutely sure that the defendants had carried out the crime. We could. The whole defense lasted less than an hour which, try as we might to drag it out, was about the same amount of time as it took us to come up with a unanimous guilty verdict. Not that it seemed to matter, because the defendants didn’t turn up to court on the last day of the trial and had run off. Us jury members were more disappointed that we’d be back at work on Monday morning.

    The judge thanked the jury for their service and assured us that the guilty would be brought to justice and we would be informed when this was the case. This has yet to happen, so perhaps the men are still at large fifteen years later.

    I don’t know that it said anything about industrial civilization, but the whole process left me deeply cynical about the justice system. Why the defendants went to trial I have no idea, but the only ones to gain were the judge and lawyers on their fat salaries. The losers were the tax payers.

  • Guilty until proven rich;
    Innocent until proven broke.

  • I admire your courage, Sherry.

    In UK, I have never in my entire life been asked to do jury service. A possible explanation is that I am not on any of their lists. I hope so.

    In my experience, all sub-cultures here, such as bikers, gypsies, hippies, prostitutes, ethnic minorities, the working class in general, loathe, fear and despise the police and the entire legal system, because it is rarely fair and just, and frequently abusive and corrupt.

    This attitude changes as you go up the class structure, to middle and upper-middle class professionals, prosperous business owners, and the elite, who get a very different treatment from police and courts. Of course, many other countries have far worse systems, but basically, as I see it, your experience of the British legal system depends entirely upon how much money you have and what your social status is. Many of the elite and police are Freemasons, which clandestinely look after their own.

    Of course, arbitrary and unjust legal systems have been a feature of repressive governments and rulers forever. I’m reminded of some Russian Tsar who would issue orders for a 100 randomly selected priests to be hanged in towns and villages, merely as a gesture to show who was the boss and keep the population servile and fearful.

    What seems so remarkable in the accounts of modern USA above is the willingness of some to be ‘proud to be doing their civic duty’, which strikes me as collaborating with their own oppression. But there we are. I suppose there’s plenty like that here too.

    I once researched the history of laws in Wales. When William the Bastard conquered England in 1066, he sort of delegated rule of Wales to some of his mercenary Lords, on condition that they sent him lots of cash every year. So these Marcher Lords, in addition to extracting regular taxes, set up legal systems to raise money to pay for armed thugs and magistrates and courts, as a means to raise extra revenue, to pay for their license to rule whatever land they could hold onto, whilst keeping the King, the ultimate self-proclaimed ‘owner’ of Britain, rich and happy.

    So the unfortunate Welsh were constantly fined for breaking laws which were never intended to provide ‘justice’, but only as traps to give the authorities an excuse to extract money. And really, although it was softened and moderated over the centuries, the system is not so very different today. Much like a mafia protection racket, you pay off the right people for permission to do whatever you do to make your living.

  • The law’s both an ass—and a choad—
    Believe me, I’ve been down that road;
    I’d love to join in,
    But if I begin,
    My whole fucking head will explode.

  • @ Michael Irving

    I’m also glad that Guy has decided to keep this site going, at least for the time being, although I don’t see it quite the same why as Michael does.

    I also recognize that in the end nothing we do will save us, as a species. Individually, as Kathy C often notes, everybody dies, but that’s not reason to give up working toward the survival of the species.

    I don’t think that way of looking at it can work. ‘The species’, aka ‘us’, ‘we humans’, are the problem. We are the ones that are causing our own demise, and the demise of most other living things.

    If we wanted to ‘save’ something, then it has to be the biosphere, because without that, there are NO PEOPLE, period.

    But to ‘save’ the biosphere, means saving all of it’s component parts, that is all the ecosystems that sustain/maintain the biosphere.

    Therein lies the problem. There is no chance of doing that. We have already wrecked most of it, climate change and the extra two China’s worth of humans due to arrive over the next few years, will wreck the rest.

    I’m reconciled to this prospect. I don’t feel any need for comfort or community support. I’ve done my grieving and faced the horror of the reality.

    I also notice the daily jarring discordance between what I know to be scientifically established facts, and people who make remarks like ‘Oh, I expect in two hundred years they’ll be….. whatever’

    I think we’ll get a fairly short-lived nightmare fascist dystopia, as the powerful in control try to keep the thing going with war, violence, repression, various insane geo-engineering attempts and Monsanto-esque messing about with genetics and nanotech, all of increasing futility and desperation, and then it’ll all break down into groups scavenging through the detritus, before we all vanish into eternal oblivion…

    I really don’t mind about this anymore. I’ve had decades of grief and heart ache and pain watching the story unfold. Now I believe that the situation is completely irretrievable, the fate, the destiny, is already cooked in and determined and unavoidable.

    Of course, most people hate this and don’t want to hear or accept it. That’s fine too. Please feel free to believe whatever you wish and to try to change the future in any way you wish. But I don’t think it will make any difference to the final outcome.

  • sigh. it’s surreal how unjust our cultures are and have been throughout history. surreal how many sheeple can be brainwashed to support injustice, to believe lies designed to frighten, bullshit like the reefer madness that has ruled american officialdom since at least 1937, when national prohibition was begun.

    pick your poison among many offered by officialdom in the name of ‘justice’. i think anyone who even uses the word now is suspect, since it’s become so tainted. the whole damned system is rigged to persecute opponents, repress the masses, and protect the status quo ‘1%’ system designed to concentrate wealth and power to a very small minority, blind to science and surreality. it takes a surreal police state to concentrate wealth and power such as now exists in the usa. it takes an orwellian sheeple to support such a state of affairs. sheeple who have become so domesticated they’ll believe almost any lie uttered by a charismatic ‘authority’. almost any absurdity. sometimes the absurdities are crazy and cruel to boot, like in the war on ‘drugs’.

    while reading sherry’s essay, i checked out her siskiyou (sic?) county on wikipedia. it’s ‘socially conservative’ and solidly republican, like most the rest of rural america, like the upstate new york county (steuben) i call home without much enthusiasm.

    civilizations are crazy and cruel, imo. i find this to be more psychologically devastating than the threat of collapse and extinction. when i think about how crazy and cruel things like the american ‘justice’ system are, and how many sheeple support crazy and cruel ideas like persecuting ‘drug’ users with punitive legal sanctions or any of the other many many laws which seem to serve no purpose than to persecute some hated minority group, or protect high level grand theft and fraud and environmental rape and… on and on. it makes me think that collapse and perhaps extinction are gaia’s form of justice, a justice i can identify with much more strongly than the injustice that is ingrained in american ‘justice’.

    ‘justice’ is nothing more than an artifice and delusion. it’s a product of civilization, and like civilization, it must die. such must be the fate of all who forget that nature bats last. and as kathy repeatedly reminds us, such is everyone’s fate, regardless. ‘wicked’ and ‘virtuous’ alike. all dead.

    i think it was yorchichan who recently stated that he couldn’t imagine wishing he’d never been born. well, yorchie, i’m one who has often had such a wish. maybe that’s why i can identify so strongly with the unborn who have no say about being born into a crazy, cruel, and dying civilization. it’s hard for me to imagine that most sheeple born today won’t come to rue this birthday. if civilization is crazy and cruel now, can u imagine what’s to come? this is why i think it wise to include suicide considerations among collapse preparations. things are going to get mighty crazy and cruel.

  • ulvfugl Says: I also notice the daily jarring discordance between what I know to be scientifically established facts, and people who make remarks like ‘Oh, I expect in two hundred years they’ll be….. whatever’

    Cognitive Dissonance Reduction

    When folks start to mess with your head
    By talking about [insert number here] years ahead,
    Dissonance goes away
    As soon as you say,
    “In [insert number here] years we’ll be dead.”

  • Personally, I would love to see both Ulvflug and the Virgin Terry’s last comments developed into larger essays. Wonderfully honest and cogent commentary. Both epitomize why I read NBL.

  • Sorry not ulvflug but ulvfugl…….is that spelling designed to confound?

  • Speaking of cognitive dissonance, I just looked at the Archdruid Report. His most recent post is titled “The Post American Future” and, wonder of wonders, it contains no mention of Global Warming (Anthropogenic or any other kind). His assessment is that the US will fail, and gives a number of scenarios, because “history is the primary resource I use to guide what’s posted on this blog” and history tells him that all empires collapse and thus ours will too. Lucky for us apparently there is nothing to worry about regarding climate. Whew, I was really beginning to stress about it. Now I feel much better.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael

    Read MG’s latest as well, and had a similar reaction. While I love this writing and insight, he does seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Climate Change, simply because I think non-linear rates of change, doesn’t fit into his historical comparisons………..at all.

  • Michael Irving, I agree about the Archdruid and cognitive dissonance. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt for a while, but now I think he’s willfully ignoring the evidence for rapid collapse of the biosphere. He’s just not looking at the whole picture; his reliance on recorded human history, even if it encompasses a wide arc of knowledge, does not provide any precedent for what we’re facing.

  • The Virgin Terry

    I’m sorry you have sometimes wished you had never been born. Isn’t there anything you can do to change your situation? My brother announced when he was fifteen that he wasn’t going to school anymore. He spent the next twenty years of his life sat alone in his bedroom playing on the computer. Then one day he told my mother he had met an American girl on the internet and was going to America to marry her. After a year in the US he returned with his new wife (she’s a lawyer, very pretty and very nice) and they are now happily married with three young children. My point is, if he can turn his life around anyone can. But you must try no matter how hopeless it seems.

  • @ Daniel

    Sorry not ulvflug but ulvfugl…….is that spelling designed to confound?

    Hahaha, no apology required, Daniel, my over-developed rhetorical flourishes concerning that word and its spelling meant that the proud owner is, I believe, the very first, and so far only, correspondent here, to have had a comment deleted by the esteemed Dr. McPherson, possibly with justification, I might add, my being fully cognisant of ‘the new rules’, but that’s not for me to adjudicate upon, is it ;-)

    It’s a very easy name for anyone who has an elementary knowledge of European languages and etymology. Ulf is Norwegian for wolf, Fugl is Norwegian for bird, as in German, vogel, and as in English, fowl. Wolfbird being a Scandinavian and Native American name for the raven, from the wonderful book called The Mind of the Raven, by Bernd Heinrich


  • @ Jennifer Hartley and others Michael Irving, I agree about the Archdruid and cognitive dissonance.

    I also agree. JMG said somewhere that he ‘left climate to the climatologists’. I don’t think that will do. He’s very strong on history, peak oil, druidry, sci fi, etc, and hopeless on climate science.

    But then this same criticism can be applied right across the board, to all of the ‘name’ authors on the doomer fringe, Ran Prieur, D. Orlov, Kunstler, Nicole Foss, etc, etc. It’s extremely difficult for one human being to get fully educated on all human knowledge. Everyone seems to have blind spots.

    There are people like Michael Hudson and David Graeber who are amazingly knowledgeable in their areas of economics and the anthropology of money, who appear to have no comprehension of ecology or biology at all. Hudson believes in the abiotic oil theory, e.g., and that there is no limit to supply. Perhaps he’s right, but I don’t believe he has much support.

    This is one of our gravest problems. Almost everyone specialises, and specialists only see the one piece of the jigsaw, rarely the whole picture. Seems to me, it is only when all the pieces get joined up, that one can see the truly shocking and terminal mess that we are in. It’s not easy to face, especially when the subject is so emotive, for many, concerning the children and their futures.

  • Of course, another major dissonance I forgot to mention, is techno-utopianism. So many people worship all these dazzling new scientific inventions that appear in the media on a daily basis and have complete faith that they will ‘solve all our problems’… that’s another difficult area to get one’s head around, for example George Monbiot being a fan of nuclear power, Vinay Gupta having faith that we will colonise Space, etc.

    As I see it, the only way to make sense of the many differing views, is to decide where you, personally, start from, as in a biocentric or ecocentric versus an anthropocentric stance.

  • Yorchichan : But you must try no matter how hopeless it seems.

    Not so sure about that. I wonder how you arrive at that ‘must’ ? Surely, it’s up to the ‘you’ to decide what is right for them. Personally, I think that is the key. IMHO, find out who ‘you’ really are, by following a spiritual path, vision quest, meditation, ayahuasca, or even a more secular path, like Jung’s Individuation. What is my place in the grand scheme of things ? Why do I exist ? Who am I, really ? That kind of stuff, no ? There’s no fixed off-the-shelf answer, if you address those questions at a really serious and profound level. Everyone has to find their own.

  • Regarding JMG, he does end his piece with the statement that environmental concerns are the dominant factor and that the loss of our empire is only a road bump. He likes to tell stories and “We’re Done” kind of puts a damper on the stories…and his income.

  • @ Daniel : …I think non-linear rates of change, doesn’t fit into his historical comparisons………..at all.

    That’s another problem. None of the major belief systems, religious, scientific, cultural, whatever, have ever envisaged an adequate map for near-term extinction ( excluding of course, the perennial Apocalyptica, which JMG derides ).

    I mean, we could, as a species, have all followed the teachings of the Kogi, or the Amish, or the Bishnoi, and have avoided this horrible situation. But that wasn’t what most wanted, certainly not what the dominant capitalist politico-techno-elites wanted, and so now we have Albert Bartlett’s yeast in the bottle exponential disaster scenario, and everybody tries to grab as much of what remains while they can, and rush into the final stage as fast as they can… they simply cannot comprehend the exponential factor, that at one minute to midnight, only half the lake surface is covered with water hyacinth… does not even look like there is a problem…

  • At least the Swiss (114% protected,) Swedes (81%,) and Finns (70%) have dug themselves a chance of surviving a “virtually inevitable” (Dr. Martin Hellman of Stanford U.) event that will end global warming.

    Switzerland is unique in having enough nuclear fallout shelters to accommodate its entire population

  • For those requiring a Leftist perspective on just how “inevitable” nuclear war is:

    “When they launch war, they’re going to launch it there [Mid-East]. It cannot help but be nuclear…A nuclear war is inevitable…”

    “The nuclear winter”
    by Fidel Castro
    Aug. 24, 2010

    For those requiring a Rightist perspective, the Wall Street Journal covered Castro’s viewpoint on nuclear winter.


  • Sherry

    way to go!!

    Judge asked your opinoin and you gave it. Great.

    I find that I have changed in the regard that it is obvious now when rule based people, and I mean those abiding by say a policy of rules in a large organisation, or store, won’t adjust to a request from me that has a reasonable basis. The rules get in the way so often now for small things.

    I do a lot of recycling, and reusing, and now we have a series of rules that requires all businesses, large and small to account for their carbon credits.

    So now all garbage bins and large skips that a business rents are locked. This prevents people recycling items, usually the packaging.

    Not even the local dump will allow me to take a 20 Litre white detergent container home from a bin. The bin i tried to do this to had at least 30 of them. It is all weighed and chocked up to their carbon credits. Can’t even spare one.

    The systems people once used to assist them, eventually get bigger, and more institutionalisd, and grow such that they eventually constrain peoples choices.

    Just an example of how the social and legal order of the day is more intrenched in self serving than truly serving the people.

    Serving the people? , I hear someone laugh.(ulvfugl, is that you?)

    Yeah, I know, silly me.

  • Don’t know anything about this guy Rappoport, but more on that story.


  • MB, Yes, it’s like being on the Titanic but knowing there aren’t ANY lifeboats. What do you do now? What did they do?


  • I can echo the sentiment. A couple years ago I told a judge he didn’t want me on his jury because I was bound to nullify the “buzz driving” charge, as there was no injured party. I could see the defendant’s wife was about to have a baby and I felt the funds could be more well used at home than in the belly of the Beast.

    The Administrator told me Arizona does not recognize Jury Nullification; I sure did, was the retort. Well, I to was excused and have n’ere heard from them since, to the chagrin of my libertarian leaning friends that would have apparently lied at the chance to free a poor drinking soul.

  • Government corruption in the United States is hundreds of times more pervasive and costly than in Afghanistan. Every day American newspapers recount the scandals. One day it involves U.S. Customs officials, the next day it is the Secret Service, then the General Services Administration, then the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Every month there are new scandals involving foreign aid and other funds administered by the U.S. Department of State, the latest involved the waste of billions of dollars in “global warming” funds squandered by Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones and her predecessor, Claudia A. McMurray. Despite the State Department being perhaps worst administered agency in the Federal Government, no one dares utter even a whisper of criticism at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, so the corruption continues.

    While billions of dollars in domestic spending and foreign aid are misappropriated, corruptly awarded and mismanaged each year, that corruption is easier to conceal, because the U.S. is a wealthy country with many distractions. Despite the publicity, few members of the public seem able to grasp the size and scope of the cancer of corruption and nepotism that is eating away at the country.


  • Yorchichan
    you wrote to Virgin Terry “My point is, if he can turn his life around anyone can. But you must try no matter how hopeless it seems.”

    That is actually probably one of the least helpful things one can say to a suicidal person. It in fact suggests that something is wrong with you if you don’t turn your life around, which becomes an added psychic burden. In some different contexts Bright-sided How Positive Thinking is Undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich deals with how the strong urging to positive thinking can in fact for many become just one more burden to bear.

    Further WHY must someone try no matter how hopeless it seems? Should a cancer patient never give up treatment and call in Hospice? Should a paraplegic never decide their life is unbearable – See the movie Sea Inside for the true story of a paraplegic who finally got release from a life that was unbearable for him. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0369702/

    The book The Last Policeman deals with a situation where people on planet earth all know that in 6 mos a asteroid is going to end all life. Many commit suicide, many choose hedonism, others just live as usual. While we don’t have such solid proof that humans are going extinct or as near a time frame, if someone doesn’t care to live in the very hard times that are coming it is their life and their right to make an early exit. The state likes to deprive death row prisoners of this right, because they claim the right to take their life – thus they work to prevent suicides among those they intend to kill. The church attempts to claim your life by telling the suicidal they will go to hell. But whose life is it?

    I note that talk of die off, or worse yet extinction, or even suicide causes people great personal anxiety, perhaps because as a species we have denial of our mortality firmly programmed in our brains.

    On my list of books to read is:
    The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
    by Oliver Burkeman :) That’s my kind of book, Norman Vincent Peale be damned.

  • But whose life is it?

    Good question, Kathy C.

    I loved Ehrenreich’s book “Bright-Sided.” Now I will look up “The Antidote.” Thanks for mentioning it.

    And I’m thankful as always that you don’t shy away from the reality of death.

  • RE: “buzz driving” (i.e., drunk driving)

    The libertarian’s narrow view is that drunk driving is a “victimless crime.” However, it is proven to cause so many victims that the law views it much as a “constructive nuisance.” e.g., you can’t have an unfenced mineshaft by the sidewalk to the elementary school, even if you’re not directly causing harm each minute it remains unfenced.

    But if libertarians want to hold to their narrow view of victimless crimes, fine. Then we can all driving, which we know causes grave harm to individuals via pollution.

    So when do we set up the private defense corporations to arrest all polluters? What, the Koch-funded Cato Institute and Reason magazine don’t see pollution as causing victims?

    Urban Air Pollution Linked To Birth Defects For First Time; Research Links Two Pollutants To Increased Risk Of Heart Defects
    ScienceDaily | Jan. 2, 2002

    Which goes to show that libertarians are extremely selective about their “victimless crime” rhetoric, while totally ignoring proven harm-causing “externalities.”

    RE: “church attempts to claim your life by telling”

    I concur.

  • *we can quit all driving

    I need an editor to proofread before I smack that submit button.

  • Defense attorneys have to face the same judges and district attorneys next week when they are trying to plea-bargain on behalf of their next client. Therefore, they can’t get too aggressive defending any single client; lest all their other clients suffer.

    I know this first hand. The local cops in a small town tried to railroad me for something.

    I informed the DA that he was unaware of all the facts in the case. If he failed to become aware of them, I would leave this meeting and retain council from a large city, today. My council would never have to face him in a plea-bargain. If this went to trial, the big city boy would like nothing more than to notch his belt with some small town DA.

    I told him that I wouldn’t stop with my criminal defense. If I had to retain council at all, I would pursue his bar card and criminal charges for malicious prosecution.

    He would become aware of the facts from me in the case at trial and not before, unless he did something more than read the police report on his own. The choice was his.

    He told me to wait there. I told him I was going to lunch and would be back in half an hour. His demeanor was visibly different when I returned. I suppose he had made a few phone calls while I was gone.

    He said he would drop the charges. I told him I didn’t believe him and that he could always reinstate the charges unless he dismissed them with prejudice in open court. That happened 5 minutes later.

    The cops were truly pissed, but I think the DA had made himself clear. They didn’t harass me again.

    I even went to the bar one night, parked right in front, drank coke for a couple hours and then left, dropping my keys twice on the way to the car and fumbling to get the door unlocked. They followed me home. I weaved from side to side (but never crossing the lines). Even then, they didn’t pull me over.

    After that, all I got was a few dirty looks from them.

  • Jennifer Hartley

    Ah…death! Seems no matter what our angle is in looking at near term extinction, the subtext is always going to be about death, and honestly, how could it be anything else? Either it be the loss of loved ones, the loss of our planet’s biosphere, or our own life, what else is entailed in near term extinction, other than contemplating how we, as well as the rest of life, are going to perish?
    And if current trends continue, as Virgin Terry has eluded, at some point, the stigma of suicide is going to take on an entirely different meaning, if not purpose.

  • Security sources have told Fairfax Media that international connections between anarchist extremists, facilitated by the internet, are ”a matter of legitimate concern” and that ”radicalisation” through contact with overseas extremists is ”something that has to be monitored”.
    Of particular interest is Australian activist engagement in the potential development of ”Deep Green resistance”, inspired by the writings of American ”anarcho-primitivist” theorist Derrick Jensen, including the formation of a militant ”underground” engaged in direct action against economic and energy infrastructure.


  • Kathy C and Ulvfugl

    “My point is, if he can turn his life around anyone can. But you must try no matter how hopeless it seems.”

    Better if I wrote “If you want things to change, you have to make an effort”.


    If you ever want to come to Thailand and you can afford the ticket over here, I’ll put you up and show you around.

    One night in Bangkok

  • Just finished reading Green is the new Red. Book is okay, but I really like the website…he’s keeping up with the bullshit the government is throwing at dissenters, especially on the left. The right wing wackos are somehow never labeled “terrorist”.

    Poor, oppressed and dissenters. Who’s going to be next?

    I would be very surprised if the good old USA wasn’t also keeping a close eye on DGR.

    Anybody here read Glenn Greenwald? Good writer.

  • ‘I’m sorry you have sometimes wished you had never been born. Isn’t there anything you can do to change your situation?’

    i was struggling with my response to your quote above until i read what kathy had to say in response to it. turned out better than what i was trying to express, so i’ll just go with that, with thanks to kathy.

    ‘If you ever want to come to Thailand and you can afford the ticket over here, I’ll put you up and show you around.’ -yorch

    yorchichan, are u a thai citizen? just wondering. i’m not very familiar with thai names, but i recall a professional tennis player from southeastern asia with a similar sounding last name to ‘yorchichan’. anyway, if u are a thai national i’m guessing u’re from a relatively well off family and received a relatively superior education that among other things made u very fluent in english.

    i’m curious about such matters because i’m fascinated by guy’s international appeal, unfortunately as shallow as it is broad. europe, asia, australia, new zealand, north america.

    travelling half way around the world on a whim is not for me, but thanks for the offer. also, thanks to daniel for encouragement.

  • wildwoman, what’s dgr stand for? re. greenwald, i’ve seen him be interviewed by bill moyers a time or 2. like all of moyer’s subjects, he has interesting knowledge and opinions.

  • TFT,

    Ulvfugi mentioned Deep Green Resistence. It’s a book by Aric Mcbay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen on how to build an underground and a supporting network. It has become the beginning of a movement, perhaps.

    If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

  • yorchichan, i’ll add that your response indicates u’re totally not getting what i’m saying. i think a lot of sheeple are quite offensive, quite willing to use force to impose their version of ‘morality’ on others. there’s nothing i can do to change that. what i, or anyone unhappy with life circumstances beyond one’s control, is to choose suicide as a means of escape, for that is something one can control. considering our predicament, opposing any means of voluntary population reduction at this point is absurd.

  • I spend all my spare time puzzling and struggling with the issues the posters of this board wrestle with. Someone might quip that I need to get a life, when that is in fact the nature of this post. . . getting a life.

    As I see it all the political parties and so-called leaders are visioning the past. This includes Green parties, socialist parties, and all the rest. None of them are visioning the future. They wrap up the past in their lifestyle flavor and present it, falsely, as the future.

    I believe a large percentage of the people, our people, have become aware consciously or unconsciously, that their dependence on the current system is lethal. This is evidenced by voter apathy, those who vote while openly admitting that not much is going change regardless of who is elected, the varying social movements and tensions. Very few people will declare that they love their work, their jobs, their bosses, the leaders, their toxin laden food, water, air, even their toxin laden bodies.

    The people are becoming aware that their unquestioning support of the current myth of human progress is increasingly lethal. However, since there is no clearly articulated future vision we are creating a new myth of lock-in. The meme of lock-in is widespread and subtly embedded in much of what we take for granted.

    The cultural experiment called civilizaton has a long history of failure and is the root cause of much of the psychosis, violence, addiction and oppression presently in our lives.

    What has a long history of succes and is proven as a sane and sustainable human organization is society. The current paradigm incorrectly conflates globalized civilization with society. I argue that civilization is only a toxic mimic of a sane and sustainable diverse array of societies each of which are balanced, informed and shaped by its regional ecosystem.

    Along the same line would be the example that the current concepts of what is feminine and masculine as visioned by advertizing, media, hollywood etc.. . . are no more than toxic mimics of what we inherently understand to be healthy men and women.

    The modern method of compulsory education based on the western curriculum, which has now become an embedded global cultural meme, is a toxic mimic of the process of becoming a mature adult through gaining knowledge by direct experience and interaction with a sane and sustainable regional society as we move towards wisdom.

    As more and more people openly acknowledge that their current dependence on global corporate mega-systems is lethal they will need a future vision that articulates their place and their children’s future in a sane and sustainable regional society. A society that works as tirelessly to promote the resiliency and diversity of its ecosystem upon which its very existence depends, as today’s toxic mimic works tirelessly to promote loss of resiliency and diversity through the commodification of the natural world by which corporate profit, power and priviledge depends.

    The toxic mimic of modern privilege is falsely premised on material gain through commodification of the natural world, consolidation and projection of hierarchal power and the belief in linear progress through technlological innovation. Yet where is the priviledge of living on a planet with dying oceans, dying grasslands, dying forests, toxic air, toxic food, and toxic water? Where is the priviledge of living on a planet without passenger pigeons, great Auks, salmon, whales, rhinoceros’, Siberian tigers, polar bears, cod, spring peepers, whipporwills, salamanders, redwoods, ash trees, eastern white pines, western spruce, douglas firs and all the other past and present beings that are either extinct or headed towards extinction. There is no priviledge in participating in extinction.

    There is priviledge, great priviledge for every one of us, to be alive and participating in a diverse complex of regional societies that works tirelessly to support and increase the salmon, siberian tigers, rhino’s , honey bees, polar bears, functional prarrie grasslands, redwood forests, douglas fir forests, great eastern hardwood forests, amphibians, blue fin tuna, herring, krill, phytoplankton.

    In fact it is by each of us clearly understanding the priviledge of living in the sane and sustainable regional society of our choice that we and our children have a future. Working to support and repair natural processes is the only way to drawdown atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfer dioxide and all other atmospheric toxins, remove pollutants from food, water and soil, and detoxify ours and our children’s bodies and minds and allow all the other beings to remove the toxins from their bodies. The process of polluting the air, soil, water and all living beings on the planet is one of the great forms of violence of our time.

    There is no “one size fits all” way to have a future. The people of each regional society will need to create their own unique vision for themselves, since each regional society will be informed by the efforts required to repair and be in balance with the ecoystem in which it is embedded.

    This is a future of process, not progress. It is a future that will be cyclical, not linear. It is a future of participation rather than compulsion.

    It is a vision of a future that has a future.

    The beginning of a very real articulation of a regional society is found in this article:


  • Great piece Anthony. I think the Amish are close to having that society. I sometimes wish I had been born into an Amish family.

    I read the article and watched the TED talk. I agree with every word and concept. He knows soil. He knows that composting is wrong for the soil. Over the past few years I have done what he talks about except I used tractors as part of the proxy for herding animals. We cut our corn acreage down 90% and built up soil organic matter with sod and manure. I plant a small amount of corn just one year in rotation with grass/legumes. Last year, 2011 was a dry summer. Yet our corn yielded 240 bu/A. This year the national average was something like half that. The reason was healthy soil with water holding capacity. Used almost no fertilizer. In other words, I’m trying to do the things Seth talks about while still using machinery. I cheat.

    But, while what he talks about what might work in Africa, to make it work in the USA we need to get rid of all flush toilets and all trucks. People are the invasive species. People must live near where the food and animals are grown; local. The food chain is another, maybe the biggest lie ever promoted. Life is cyclical. I find that TED talkers tend to be overly idealistic. Anyone who tells the truth and all the truch won’t get invited to do a TED talk. There are too many people living in shities attending TED talks.

    To make a system work, all the working parts that contribute to the system must work. All of them or the system will collapse. This is true for a car, a cow, or a bio system. What about radiation? What about the warming that has already taken place? Is it runaway yet? Is it too late? Seth seems to be using willful ignorance regarding the SYSTEM currently in place. The SYSTEM needs to be plowed under to get a fresh start and even then it may take several million years to get going again without radiation and without heating. That’s my opinion. So sad because we could have gone down this road. On the other hand, we couldn’t; we’re just intelligent humans.


  • David, Craig Dilworth has written a book “Too Smart for our Own Good The Ecological Predicament of Humankind.” which poses the theory that where we are now is inevitable.
    Here is a bit of a summary https://guymcpherson.com/2012/11/justice-american-style/
    Whenever humans are faced with shortages, they come up with a new technology. This could be anything from how to start a fire all the way to a modern computer, and everything in between — agriculture, the wheel, and the steam engine. The result of this innovation is that — it works! The shortages are alleviated, new resources are discovered or made available, and in fact a surplus is created. But as a result of this surplus, consumption increases and so does population. Eventually, increased consumption and population catch up with us, and we are faced with shortages all over again, which makes a new technology necessary.

    Dilworth calls this the “vicious circle principle”: we get ourselves out of one fix, only to land in another, depleting resources as we go. It is not our failures that are the problem, but our successes. We are too smart for our own good.

    While I don’t think we have much in the way of free will as individuals it seems we have even less as a species

  • David this is a second post, since if you put more than one link in a post you have to wait for the moderator to approve it and I am not good at waiting :)

    I also don’t know how long you have been reading NBL so you may have already read this https://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/p/global-extinction-within-one-human.html These folks believe that there will be human extinction in as little as 18 years due to the arctic ice melting creating various feed backs including huge methane releases. They don’t think carbon cuts are enough and are unfortunately proposing geo-engineering to prevent extinction. Whether they are right or not has been argued here and a presume elsewhere. 10 years ago when I first began blogging peak oil I thought well prepared people might survive the dieoff, then I lost hope for that and began to think scattered hunter-gatherer tribes might survive die off. Now I think none of us will and think the best strategy is to live for each day, which is probably always the best strategy.

    Quick journey eh. And then on top of an ever worsening climate Fukushima has taught us all what happens when the grid goes down and the cooling pumps fail. 400+ Fukushimas worldwide unless they are decommissioned before the grid fails.

    So it goes…..

    But today is all we ever had regardless of what happens with oil or climate – any of us can be struck down by some accident at any time. Today matters. Hug a cow

  • Oh and David keep your cows away from guns
    Cows with guns – we have been warned

  • Kathy, I do hug my cows.

  • “sustainable…sustainability”

    Last time I used that word, (on Oct. 15th, in reference to “making sustainability sexy”), Guy retorted that “Sustainability is a myth.”

    Is sustainability now not a myth?

  • Government surveillance of citizens’ online lives is rising sharply around the world, according to Google’s latest report on requests to remove content and hand over user data to official agencies.


  • Yeah,

    The “S” word has been coopted to such an extent that it is now a bad word. Open to ideas for a substitution.

  • Dave,

    I hugged my cows too.

  • Kathy, ERT is doing fine and during 2012 so far has 68 posts with Guy’s name included. He has us talking and thinking.

    Anthony, what happened to your cows?


  • David, I hug my chickens (at night when one can handle them of course). I love the smell of chickens. They don’t really like being held, but the do like if you blow warm air (hot in my case) in the feathers on the back of their neck, or rub their bellies. Some like being stroked under the beak or neck or rubbed in the space where the wing joins the body. Depending on the bird some go almost into a trance with one or the other of those actions. Helps to handle and calm down jittery birds.

  • Dave,

    I grew up on a small organic farm on which we raised a good proportion of our food. Milked a couple of cows before and after school. Long ago and far away now.

    Also loved spending time looking at the chickens as they looked at me.

    My parents were friends with Ruth Stout, if that means anything.

  • Two years ago we had a dozen chickens running around the yard. It was my daughter’s project. They were housed at night. Everyone enjoyed having them around watching them work away at what they do…constantly working away at it. Come to think of it, that’s what we do too.

  • Hurrah for Ruth Stout! Creative laziness! Work is a curse. And I milk only once a day here, because the evening milking is the worst interruptor of social activities. (Although the morning milking was useful to get out of Sunday School back in those days. LOL!) Who wants to be riding a motorcycle around the lake on Sunday afternoon with a buxom neighbor girl pressed against your spine—then realize you have to head back to the barn to chore? Unless she offers to come help. ♫ The mid-west farmers’ daughters really make you feel alright.

  • Anthony, how neat that your parents were friends of Ruth Stout. She is my inspiration. I don’t do things exactly her way due to availability of mulch and climate differences, but as soon as I read her I knew her method sounded right. I wouldn’t call it No Work, but rather Less Work and kinder to the critters who live in the soil.

  • ulvfugl,

    The Mind of the Raven, by Bernd Heinrich—–Great Book!

    I live amongst wild ravens. If I listen, hardly a minute goes by during daylight when I cannot hear them. They never cease to amaze me. I go along for awhile thinking, “Well, nothing more could surprise me about these wonderful birds.” Then they always prove me wrong. They go from the mundane to the etherial and back again in a day, or an hour. I love how they can go from solitary and secretive, quietly sneaking through the woods hunting for birds eggs, to being a member of a huge convention of 50 or 60 birds playing on the wind above a ridge-top. If there were angels they would soar like ravens on the wind.

    Michael Irving

  • ulvfugl,

    Re: Tien Shan Fruit Forest

    Stalin vs apple trees
    Hitler vs Jews
    Spanish monarchy vs Americas
    1% vs the world

    “Same as it ever was.” Talking Heads

    Michael Irving

  • Yes, indeed, Michael, aren’t they impressive and fascinating. Never seen 50 or 60 together here, maybe 10 or 12 at most, but I see them everyday. Kinda primaeval. Ancient wisdom.


  • Jesus spins stories that undermine the sanctity of wage-labor (Mat 20:1-16), and that pit rebellious peasants against wealthy landowners (Mk 12:1-10). He advocates the right of the hungry to steal food (Mk 2:23ff) and invokes the cosmology of divine gift: “Consider the RAVENS: They do not sow or reap…yet God feeds them” (Lk 12:24). Despite the captivity of modern Christian theology to the Protestant work ethic, the Bible’s Sabbath ethos (including Paul’s theology of grace) privileges being over doing, celebration over work, and gift over possession—again resonating with indigenous wisdom concerning personal, social and physical ecology.

    ~Ched Myers(2005) The Fall; Bible & Anarcho-Primitivism. Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Continuum, edited by Bron Taylor, Professor of Religion and Nature at The University of Florida.

  • Ravens! How I love them! We have both crows and ravens here and the crows go south for the winter but the ravens stay. When I lived in the far north, I had horses in a barn out of town with a bunch of other folks, a co-op type arrangement out in the muskeg. Every morning I’d drive out there and feed the barn cats because I was often the first one to arrive and get my horses out of their stalls and into the corrals. The ravens would hang around looking to pick oats out of the horse shit. They flew down and sat on fence posts, waiting. I began to bring out some cat food and put a few pieces on top of a fence post. The ravens would sit a few posts away and watch. Then I would talk to them. The First Nations people said the ravens could learn to talk. I love to hear them squawk loudly as they fly low over my house and gardens now, but what they sounded like back then and up close was soft and voice-like. I’d make them talk to me and then back away from the food so they could come and get it. They learned they couldn’t eat the cat food until they talked first. Sorta like magpies that way (I’ve raised baby magpies, but that’s another story). It sounds like words but isn’t. When they are that close you can see how huge they are.

    Some people here in southern Canada don’t even know the difference between crows and ravens because they don’t pay attention. I have these frustrating conversations with the town folks. Rural folks are more likely to pay attention. Crows don’t seem to be self-aware, but ravens definitely are.

    Every spring we trap Richardson’s ground squirrels because they eat every new sprout that pops up in the garden. Every year we put their little dead bodies out in a row on the ground. Every year the pair of bald eagles that have their nest down by the river fly up, land on the ground and walk over to the row of dead ground squirrels. I watch from the house with binoculars. When you see the eagles on the ground, walking like sumo wrestlers as their legs are so far apart, you can see what big birds they are, about three feet tall, because you can see them next to a piece of equipment or a water bucket or something you know is, say, three feet high. They walk back and forth, checking out the offering. They always choose the oldest and most decayed squirrel first. Then they will come back and choose the next oldest, etc., maybe the next day. My husband remarked that we should put little toe tags on the bodies to indicate “worst-before-date” and help the birds choose. There seems to be a never-ending supply of squirrels every year.

    So I ask again, just what was it exactly that was wrong with hunting and gathering? Anyone here ever eaten Saskatoons?

  • “Same as it ever was”…

    So many humans as SO depraved and disgusting, why I chose that name, I wish to disassociate myself in any way I can….

    This inexcusable and violently cruel festival has been taking place in Medinaceli since 1977 and has been accorded special cultural status by the authorities of Castile and Leon in Spain and the municipality of Medinaceli is applying for it to be awarded Intangible Cultural Heritage status by Unesco.


  • BC Prof: “…wrong with hunting and gathering?”

    It was THE TEMPTATION of the euphoria of alcohol—”your eyes shall be opened” (Gen 3:5)—depicted by the fruit in the paleolithic Garden of Eden before Man’s Fall into the curse of laboring “by the sweat of they brow” (Gen 3:9) in agricultural civilization.

    Possibly the euphoria of magic mushrooms (see “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross” by John Marco Allegro) is a factor also, but alcohol was the reason humans started growing grain. And humans grew grain for a long time (1500 years or so) before we made bread.

    Did a thirst for beer spark civilization? | The Independent (UK)

    How Beer Created Civilization | Forbes

    Why Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol: More intelligent people are more likely to binge drink and get drunk | Psychology Today

  • BC nurse what a fine story. No ravens here. I know people who don’t know the difference between a robin and a cardinal or a blue jay and a blue bird. And then one time when I was talking about killing roosters because too many roosters was hard on the hens, a woman I worked with asked if all roosters were male. Ah well………..

    Nothing wrong with being a hunter-gatherer – ever eaten a maypop? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passiflora_incarnata As an oldtimer around here said, looks like snot but tastes sweet and good. Bout right….

  • I have never eaten a maypop! I would if they grew here. Saskatoons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saskatoon_berries are native here, but I bought a hundred seedlings from a place in Alberta that grows the cultivars used by “U-pick” farms there. I have “Northline” and they are delicious. They are like blueberries but better tasting. I tried to make a deal with the local bears – they should eat the wild ones up the hill higher than the house, I get the ones lower than the house, by the road. Didn’t work. Seems they, too, like the fatter and jucier ones.

  • Kathy C: “I don’t think we have much in the way of free will”

    “[I]t is not wrong to think that one can think, that we can mull over arguments, weigh the options, and sometimes come to a conclusion. After all, what are you doing now?”

    Free Will Does Not Exist. So What?
    by Paul Bloom (Yale University)
    The Chronicle of Higher Education | March 18, 2012

  • An intelligent appraisal of chemtrails.

  • MB, the original EPA/USDA forbade eating crow.

    “Ye shall not eat of their flesh…Every raven after his kind.” ~Leviticus 11:11,15

    Interestingly, the anthropologist Marvin Harris has applied his cultural materialism lens to such prohibitions and concludes:

    “[T]he most important food aversions and food preferences of four major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam—are on balance favorable to the nutritional and ecological welfare of their followers.”

    ~Marvin Harris (1987) “The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig: Riddles of Food and Culture.” Simon & Schuster, NY.

  • ‘Ravens generally attack the faces of young livestock, but the more common Raven behavior of scavenging may be misidentified as predation by ranchers.[83]’ -wikipedia raven article (i love wikipedia; so much info at my fingertips!)

    i was enchanted by your comments on ravens and eagles, bc nurse prof (bcnp for short?). i didn’t know ravens were such large, intelligent, interesting birds who can mimic a wide variety of sounds including human language. didn’t know how playful they were. then i came to the wikipedia article quote above, and it connected with my recent observation of culturally ingrained human cruelty. it’s just a part of nature it seems: killing, predation, savagery. perhaps this is why what seems to be crazy and gratuitous cruelty, i.e. bullying, legal persecution of certain minorities and social outcasts, etc., is so common in civilized human cultures. the dark side of existence, an existence of dubious appeal imo. having great intelligence, insight, and empathy, this dark side of nature is troubling, nightmarish. too bad awareness can’t be free of pain and anguish. hmmm. i suppose this is why heaven/nirvana is imagined; an existence that is all light, pure bliss, without predation, bloodshed, savagery, cruelty.

    anyway, to re-emphasize, interesting comment, bcnp. thank u, teacher.

    OR, A Christmas Tale, Told by a School-boy to His Little Brothers and Sisters.
    by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)

    Underneath an old oak tree
    There was of swine a huge company
    That grunted as they crunched the mast:
    For that was ripe, and fell full fast.
    Then they trotted away, for the wind grew high:
    One acorn they left, and no more might you spy.
    Next came a Raven, that liked not such folly:
    He belonged, they did say, to the witch Melancholy!
    Blacker was he than blackest jet,
    Flew low in the rain, and his feathers not wet.
    He picked up the acorn and buried it straight
    By the side of a river both deep and great.

    Where then did the Raven Go?
    He went high and low,
    Over hill, over dale, did the black Raven go.

    Many Autumns, many Springs
    Travelled he with wandering wings:
    Many summers, many Winters–
    I can’t tell half his adventures.

    At length he came back, and with him a She
    And the acorn was grown to a tall oak tree.
    They built them a nest in the topmost bough,
    And young ones they had, and were happy enow.
    But soon came a Woodman in leathern guise,
    His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
    He’d an axe in his hand, not a word he spoke,
    But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,
    At length he brought down the poor Raven’s own oak.
    His young ones were killed; for they could not depart,
    And their mother did die of a broken heart.

    The boughs from the trunk the woodman did sever;
    And they floated it down on the course of the river.
    They sawed it in planks, and its bark they did strip,
    And with this tree and others they made a good ship.
    The ship, it was launched; but in sight of the land
    Such a storm there did rise as no ship would withstand.
    It bulged on a rock, and the waves rush’d in fast;
    Round and round flew the Raven, and cawed to the blast.
    He heard the last shriek of the perishing souls–
    See! see! o’er the topmast the mad water rolls!

    Right glad was the Raven, and off he went fleet,
    And Death riding home on a cloud he did meet,
    And he thank’d him again and again for this treat:
    They had taken his all, and REVENGE IT WAS SWEET!


  • TVT

    I am English and Yorchichan is a made up name. I live in Thailand and the offer is open unless my circumstances change.

    i think a lot of sheeple are quite offensive, quite willing to use force to impose their version of ‘morality’ on others. there’s nothing i can do to change that. what i, or anyone unhappy with life circumstances beyond one’s control, is to choose suicide as a means of escape, for that is something one can control. considering our predicament, opposing any means of voluntary population reduction at this point is absurd.

    Most people who write here can be quite offensive too, including yourself when you use the term “sheeple”. Admittedly, I shouldn’t have written that anybody can turn their life around because there are many people for whom it is not possible. It is more difficult to turn one’s life around in the West at the moment than it has been for a long time due to the collapsing economy. Even in the “good times” for some people change would not have been an option. I don’t know you well enough to know if you want to change or can change. I was only trying to help.

    I am not opposed to suicide but don’t wish to write anything more on my views because if you have suicidal thoughts I don’t want to encourage you. I don’t want to impose my morals on anyone; I’m not even comfortable telling my children to do their homework.

  • u’re still completely missing the point, yo. u write as if there’s nothing wrong with our world, as if anyone extremely unhappy with it is at fault and should want to change themselves in order to be happy. it’s not myself i’m unhappy with, it’s our world. and as for happiness, when collapse hits hard, it will be an increasingly rare commodity. happiness does not exist as an independent entity: it’s a product of one’s environment. this u shall see, if u live long enough.

  • as for taking offense at the term sheeple, i don’t care if it offends. it isn’t meant to offend. it’s simply met to convey the perception/surreality that civilization tames everyone just like livestock. if u’re civilized, u’ve been tamed, your inherent wildness, essence, freedom, have been curtailed. u have become a sherson, part of a herd of sheeple.

  • i tend to think there’s something wrong with anyone who isn’t unhappy with civilization, who doesn’t hate it enough to at least entertain suicidal thoughts sometimes. it’s fucked up, stupid, crazy, and cruel.

  • it’s fucked up, stupid, crazy, and cruel.

    I’m with you, TVT.

    I hear there are people who have never been suicidal even for a moment, but I don’t really understand them.

  • maybe i just hate people/sheeple. i hate being consumed with fear, loathing, loneliness, and despair, day after day after day, every day. for aware, supposedly intelligent beings, sheeple are awfully stupid. i hate belonging to a herd of morons, bringing on our own extinction, powerless as one individual among billions. i hate being powerless. hate fearing death and living like this. hate the absurd pointlessness of it.