After Helga’s Death 5.2.12

Dear Friends, 5.2.12
How Am I Doing? Are you taking care of yourself?
Well, I am doing better than I expected a few days ago. Here’s a quick report from a nice peaceful reflective morning, a therapeutic hypertext with sporadic tangential rants. It’s 5 am and I just got up thirsting to write. The first ideas upon getting up are sometimes just great, certainly there is a clarity upon arising I wish I could get down on paper before the day gets busy and ideas are forgotten. But now I don’t have much to be busy about which is a new experience, another blessing. I get more undisturbed sleep now than anytime in the last 2.5 years, since the stroke. But I am alone now for the first time in 40 or more years, and that is a novelty, though I am without my dear friend. It’s a mixture of sadness if I go there, which I am avoiding. Sometimes it fights its way to my upper brain and then it’s a wallow. Continue Reading →

Genetic Engineering: Safe for Prime Time?

Genetic Engineering: Safe for Prime Time?

Forget this GE engineering as we need to learn more before using this technology so widely. Consider the Monsanto efforts with GMO crops. And now people are working to kill mosquitoes with GMOed mosquitoes.

All new technology is not safe and GE technology is not safe yet, maybe someday it will be, but right now the push to make money dominates safety efforts and regulatory controls.  And when saving lives gets into the argument, many cautions are neglected.  Remember, genetic pollution is forever. Continue Reading →

AT LAST SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF CHRISTIANITY

AT LAST SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF CHRISTIANITY

Labeling GMO’s?

By William Olkowski, PhD

Well, I am clapping for my religious friends and family for a recent report by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), on how to end world hunger.  As part of a broad alliance of world wide Christians some ecological sense may be emerging from a group I have little knowledge of.  The EAA are calling for food and farming systems instead of systems based on pesticides and GE seeds.  Haleluya!!

What’s so funny about that sort of statement is they think its based on the ” Christian values of fairness, care for creation and sustenance for generations. This global network of Christians calls for investment in agroecology. Why? Because it works.”

We should take “Whatever Works”, as Woody Allen recommends, but while keeping an open mind, let’s not let the brains fall out (from my favorite Skeptic), and forget that religions are still the greatest force working to keep us human’s apart.  And as long as we are separated there will be wars over oil, water, land, wildlife and other resources.  But there is common ground hardly explored, food security is one of them.

 

This is a global Week of Food Action, and as part of the push, a broad alliance of Christians from around the world has released a set of recommendations for ending world hunger.

Despite best attempts by the chemical industry to use “feeding the world” as moral justification to sell pesticides and proprietary, genetically engineered (GE) seeds to farmers worldwide, members of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance are calling for investment in agroecology. Why? Because it works.  Read further as there are some good examples which could have wide applicability.  Some few successes amidst so many tragedies, so let’s give the successes some clapping.

http://www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/news/single/article/2012/10/16/press-release-churches-take-action-for-food-justice/

MRSA and GMOs: is There a Connection?

MRSA and GMOs: is There a Connection?

by William Olkowski, PhD

10.13.12

This is a note presenting a hypothesis for further testing and confirmation: that MRSA and GMO’s are linked.

Staphylococcus. aureus is a commensal bacteria found in most people, but with some it gains entry to the blood stream and causes first flu-like symptoms and later full blown fresh eating disease of horrible consequences.  When antibiotics fail to eliminate it the infection it  is called MRSA.  MRSA is short for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus  Aureus (see Wikipedia for history and background).  Although MRSA was first widely connected to hospitals later it was also found in the community.  Which came first is unknown.  See my book review on MRSA on my blog (entomologicalPhilosopher.com).

For background information in addition to Wikepedia, check the online textbook of bacteriology at: http://textbookofbacteriology.net/staph.html.   Each year, some 500,000 patients in American hospitals contract a staphylococcal infection (1).

I think SA  gains entry to the blood stream regularly through the skin, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, and the alimentary tract but in most people, who are healthier,  it is eliminated by their  immune system.  The standard treatment is a short coarse of antibiotics (ABs) but this does not help many people who have long term infections. Others are treated with ABs and eliminate the infection.  When MRSA was found in the US a few years back, in Europe where all people admitted to hospitals are tested the problem was not as severe..  This occurred because the insurance companies in the US did not want to pay for these simple nose swab and culturing tests.  Consequently the problem became prominent and deadly for many people, surely unnecessary.  Hurrah for the almighty buck and our for-profit health care system.

So there might be some basis for the snake oil treatments of all sorts when faced with an incurable MRSA case.  I don’t know and am not pushing any treatments one way or the other.  I am interested in how the bacteria gains entry to the blood stream.  I learned some valuable lessons when caring for my wife Helga who experienced a stroke which eventually killed her.  Stroke victims are universally susceptible to infections.  With her as my patient I learned  that there is something called Leaky Gut. I learned this by reading and by sending saliva samples for antibody analysis.  Lab results come back showing  she was carrying a wide range of anti bodies to most foods.  I did not believe the results at first, but by rotating diet components and repeated saliva samples and other diet changes we got it under better control – meaning fewer and fewer reactive antibodies where previously there was a reaction.  The number of foods she was allergic to went down slowly, but became greatly reduced.

Enter Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Now comes my latest AHA experience.  Since her death I have become very active in passing Proposition 37 here in CA.  My interest was peaked by Jeffrey Smith’s book: Genetic Roulette.  It’s a great book (see book review on blog) summarizing a huge range of studies implicating GMO altered crops in many maladies.  Now I used Bt for many years and know how it kills certain groups of insects: by disruption of the gut walls which allow a bacterial spore to sporulate, and the combination of the proteinaceous toxin and the sporulating microbe kills the bug.  The protein toxin opens the gut so the spore can gain entry to the blood system.  Used an a traditional spray on insecticide it is a superior product because it is highly selective, not killing natural enemies as most other insecticides and  showed no reactions in human feeding tests.  I treated it as virtually harmless solution.  And it was most helpful in reducing unecessary pesticides.

Now that Bt corn has been secretly introduced into the world’s diet by Monsanto et al, blessed by a dysfunctional and compromised regulatory system (gift from Reagan-Bush), we have been eating Bt toxins for many years.  That is if we were eating the altered foods.  And since we don’t know if we are eating them because they are not labeled it is likely to affect most people.

Monsanto is  the same corporation who gave us agent orange, DDT, the herbicide 2,4-D and now the universal contaminant herbicide glyphosate.  All were declared safe and if not banned contaminate all our bodies, air, water, soils and wildlife.  DDT, for example, banned in 1972 still shows up in large samples of human tissues in the US, particularly in umbilicord samples.  Such umbilicord samples mean the embryo, so sacred to our Republican friends, are subject to its carcinogenetic, teratorgenic, mutagenic and hormone disruptors at very low dosages when the new human is just a single cell or just a bunch of cells.  Its better to be borne crippled than to die in utero, right?  Any takers?

Even a few meals of Bt corn, soybeans, sugar (fr. beets), canola oil, and a few other less common foods, can transfer the Bt genes to human gut flora.  Then the gut flora produces Bt toxins on a continuous basis.  This is not the same thing as spraying a Bt insecticide, no way.

An AHA FLASH?

Now comes the flash: Leaky gut in humans may be caused by GMO foods.  If not the principle causes they  can certainly make a bad situation worse.  And that can account for the invasion of a normal commensal,  S. aureus, into the blood stream by gut disruption, the very same method the microbe uses against pest insects.  Most people are healthy enough to regularly round up these critters, but the oldies and compromised don’t have this sort of protection any more.

And the kicker is that we don’t need Bt corn, nor any other GMO foods.  These crops are not higher producers but lead to resistance as pollens carried by the wind distribute them across huge sections of the Biosphere.

Now what do you think of that?  Scares me no end.  We already have many epidemics of flu, other viruses like West Nile Virus,  food borne illness caused by mirobial contamination, neurological problems, the key one of which is electing Reagan, Bush and now Romney is on the way.  I am sad for our country.  And note that 50 other countries have labeling laws and once labeled the foods are not selected and consequently are not grown.  Our agricultural policy goes along with our military policy, and our belief’s in a mythical god who will protect us and save us from ourselves.  I wish it were true.  No wonder much of the world hates us.  Can you connect the dots?

Reference cited:

1)  Bowersox, J.  1999.  “Experimental Staph Vaccine Broadly Protective in Animal Studies”. NIH. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2007. (from wikipedia).

 

 

Is There a Fire in the Theater or is it just Barbecue Smoke?

 

 Is There a Fire in the Theater or Do I just Smell Barbecue Smoke?

 

I am forwarding this sad article below as a thought piece since it hits a recurring theme and fits our times. The article documents a police shooting of a street performer who threatened a whole crowd of heavily armed police with a knife.  He was shot many times as if he was a real threat to a whole wall of armed police in downtown NYCity.  And more amazing the mayor and everybody else thinks this it’s acceptible.  Amazing!
 As a society crumbles one can expect more violence, more police actions, and more religion distractions, all of which is now occurring.  The wealthy can always flee such calamities but many of them will also be engulfed by any crumble.  But they are so insulated they will not see it coming.  Our rulers will be escaping what they have created and we will be left holding the bag.
I say this as someone who read and studied the history of bubonic plague in Europe.  In the 1400’s over 25% of the European society died rather quickly from the Black Death.  The society at that time crumbled and mob action became common, religious crazies and incited mobs ruled.  We are on the verge of such a catastrophe.  The thinking responsible people must step up to the plate and start hitting the ball back.  We need rational discussion not police action.  And our leaders are mouthing such inanities, raiding medicine dispensaries, and shooting demented people, kids kill others in our schools with illegal guns, the NRA wants us all to have automatic rifles by our beds, and our political debate has descended to whether eliminating Medicare and stopping gays from marrying will save us, rather than whether a vast and swift reduction in military spending can be switched to climate control responses.  What flapdoodle!!  When such stupidities become too common we are in big trouble.  And big trouble hits the poor and the middle class the hardest. And I consider myself among these people.  Even enlightened self interest cannot stop religious nuts.  There are always people among us that are crazy, but when they reach for the controls of government big trouble can be expected.  And if they succeed we will see what happens when a civil democracy destroys itself.  Check out the history of 20th century Germany for an unthinkable scenario.
Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it.  And I have no where else to go.  How about you?

America, a Police State?

America, a Police State?

by William Olkowski, PhD, 8.2.12.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/12728-america-the-great-police-state

I found this comment below in response to Gore Vidal’s essay:America the Great …Police State,  at the website indicated above.  It seems to summerize my conception of what is going on.  But Gore Vidal rant on the police state has much truth in it.  Many police beating demonstators with night sticks have been seen repeatedly but I wonder how many are taken off the force as a consequence?  Or how many are tried for attempted manslaughter?  Do you know what kind of damage a nightstick can do to a persons head?  Police salaries are very good so we should demand extraordinary behavior to those we give the right to carry weapons and nightsticks.  So I understand Vidal’s view of police arrogance.  But all police are not beating demonstators, so branding all police with one branding iron sounds like a rant.

The comment below, however is not on the same subject but about the state of the society and its succinctness is clarifying.  Is the connection to police violence a sign of our society crumbling apart?  Watch out, then, for many people suffer when the poor discover that they are poor, without hope, homes or food.  Guns will not be useful for defense against mob rule.

And the more poor we have the greater the risk. Even the rich should worry, but hey they can just go to Europe, Australia, South America, or somewhere else if things get sticky here.

+5# jmac9 2012-08-01 13:26

Republicans destroyed America. 8 years of Bush-Cheney Republicans agenda caused the worldwide economic collapse.

Police State America, the great hypocrite. Preaching freedom and fueling the dictatorships of the world.

Look at American history: 1953 Eisenhower overthrows Iranian government, 1954 Eisenhower overthrows Guatemala government. Eisenhower shackles the US to Vietnam supporting S. Vietnamese dictator Diem.

But hey, look no farther than America itself – Racial segregation, KKK terrorism.

America is the 21st Century Nazi state.

Using the excuse of 9-11 and the fraudulent “war on drugs”, America shreds your civil rights.

America police state legalized by; the Patriot Act, the N.D.A.A., the continued fraud of the DEA.  NSA spying.

Are Americans so dumb as to vote for the Republicans who caused the economic collapse?

Or are they just that racist, that Foxed with brainwashing that they defend their chains, their enslavement to the corporate masters?

===========

A terrific rant!!!!  Certainly the police benefit from violence which explains why they support the NRA’s positions on gun control.  And why they support the DEA with its armed mercenaries raiding marijuana dispensaries.  And if confiscating a drug user’s property is not extraordinary punishment what is it?  I know of no other crime where the perpetrator has to give up his/her property.  Tell me I am wrong, please.

What will a Christian Nation Bring?

What will a Christian Nation Bring?

Selections by William Olkowski, PhD.  Reissued 7.28.12

Consider what this man said, what happen afterward, and who he sounds like today?

“The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests.

It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality.

Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit.

We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press — in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of LIBERAL excess during the past years.”

— Adolf Hitler;

Taken from The Speeches of Adolf
Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1, Michael Hakeem, Ph.D.
(London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pp. 871-872.

==========

 

Other Extracts from http://www.alternet.org/belief/153836/Once_Again%2C_Believers_Have_it_Wrong%3A_Atheists_Don%27t_Just_Want_Sex%2C_Drugs%2C_and_Lack_of_Morality/?page=3

The expansion of rights for women and minorities, the spread of democracy and separation of church and state, the rise of science and the Enlightenment — all these undeniably positive trends occurred in the teeth of fierce resistance from religious defenders of the status quo. Every time, the church authorities warned that changing the way things had always been was in opposition to God’s will and would surely bring disaster. And almost every time, once the change happened anyway and no disaster resulted, those same authorities switched sides and pretended they had been supporters all along.

This proves the point that every moral code, whether theistic or atheistic, changes over time as we gain new knowledge and our perspective widens. Churches and religious apologists don’t like to admit this, since it undermines their claim to be in possession of perfect moral truth from the beginning; which is why they’re usually the staunchest defenders of old and unjust systems and the very last ones to bend to the tide of progress, causing much needless human suffering in the meantime. They’d be much better off if they’d simply admit that there is no non-human moral authority, admit that their holy books and doctrines contain moral errors, and then join the rest of us living in the real world and using conscience to figure out how we can achieve the greatest good.

As sociologist Phil Zuckerman has documented, some of the highest rates of organic atheism in the world can be found in Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. And many of these same countries show up near the top in worldwide rankings of societal health indicators like life expectancy, child welfare, educational attainment, gender equality, and per capita income. As Zuckerman has found in his research, despite still having state-sponsored churches that they belong to for cultural reasons, most Danes and Swedes are completely indifferent to religion. It simply doesn’t play an important role in their daily lives. And far from collapsing into depravity or anarchy, these societies have remained free, secular, prosperous and peaceful.

And the correlation runs in the other direction as well.  Sociologist Mark Regnerus, among others, points out that in America, the highest rates of teen pregnancy, divorce and sexually transmitted diseases are highest in the religious, socially conservative “red” states (in most of which abstinence is taught to the exclusion of all else), while in the more liberal and more secular “blue” states, young people tend to marry later, start families later, and have lower rates of divorce. The conclusion from Regnerus’ research: “religion is a good indicator of attitudes toward sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and… this gap is especially wide among teenagers who identify themselves as evangelical.”

When It Comes to Indiana Creationism Bill, It’s Not Just the Lawmakers Who Are Idiots… It’s the Media, Too!

The miss-education committee of the Indiana legislature recently approved a bill to allow the teaching of creationism in the schools, and now the Indianapolis newspaper approves, with the usual tepid and illegitimate arguments.

Much would depend on how teachers handle the origins of life in a biology or science class.

No, it doesn’t. A bill that inserts garbage into the curriculum is a bill that inserts garbage; it doesn’t matter if you think it could be used to make a lovely collage, or as an exercise in recycling, it’s still garbage. And if you trust teachers to do their job, let them do it without boneheaded cretins in the legislature telling them how.    Read more 

By PZ Myers | Pharyngula
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 07:03 AM

Another Religion Misinformation Campaign

http://www.alternet.org/belief/153909/conservatives_use_creationist_playbook_to_attack_climate_change_education_in_schools

Manning is a member of the National Science Teachers Association. Last year an online poll of its 60,000 members found that 82 percent had faced skepticism about climate change from students and 54 percent had faced skepticism from parents. Some respondents added comments: Students believe whatever it is their parents believe. . . . Administrators roll over when parents object. In a recent survey of about 1,900 current and former teachers by the National Earth Science Teachers Association, 36 percent reported they had been influenced directly or indirectly to teach “both sides” of the issue.

“We have been hearing for several years now that teachers were getting pushback on teaching climate change, and some of the playbook used by those promoting teaching ‘both sides’ was very similar to the attempt to have evolution ‘balanced’ by creationism and intelligent design,” said Mark McCaffrey, who is spearheading the Center’s new initiative. “From my experience working with teachers, it is clear that the so-called ‘controversy’ about climate change science is a major impediment to teachers and the polarized political climate around teaching the topic is a big problem.”

McCaffrey is a pioneer in climate change education. He’s cofounder of the Climate Literacy Network and while at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) helped develop the Essential Principles of Climate Science, endorsed by the federal government’s U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Resources:

http://www.terc.edu/

http://cires.colorado.edu/

The Freedom From Religion Foundation will be suing the U.S. Forest Service over the unconstitutional presence of a Knights of Columbus shrine to Jesus inFlatheadNational ForestinMontana.

Given thatAmericais a Christian nation founded solely on Judeo-Christian principles (a false claim that Christians would have you believe),U.S.presidents have always ended their State of the Union speeches with “God blessAmerica,” right?

Wrong.

As noted by Robert Schlesinger, opinion editor of U.S. News and World Report (and son of historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.), Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution mandates that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

George Washington gave the first address in 1790. Thomas Jefferson thought a speech in person too “kingly” and gave Congress written ones, as did the next 13 presidents until Woodrow Wilson, who revived the oral address. Franklin Roosevelt was the first to call it “The State of theUnion.”

None of them ended their speeches with “God blessAmerica,” nor did any president until Richard Nixon in a non-SOTU address from the Oval Office.

And we all know how great a moral Christian he was.

A great Rant:

But from where I stand these days, the only thing I see religion doing in the public sector is gay bashing and telling women, mostly poor and desperate and in deplorable financial and personal situations, what to do with their bodies.  I see busybodies deciding what drugs they can dispense to which customers, or deciding that they don’t have to issue a marriage license because of some petty deity that I don’t believe in told them to hate their fellow citizens and ignore the law. In a country in dire financial straits but still spending billions and billions of dollars on education, I see religious folks actively and openly working to make our schoolkids dumber.  I see them shooting people who provided a medical procedure, and I see others rummaging through people’s personal lives to find out who hasn’t lived up the word of God.  I see glassy-eyed fools running for President claiming that vaccines that save lives actually cause cancer, or that if you get raped and are pregnant, you should just lie back and think of Jeebus and make the best of a bad situation.  In fact, everywhere you look these days, if Christianity or religion is getting a mention, it means something ugly is happening and someone somewhere is being victimized, marginalized, or otherwise abused.  Go read some of the arguments against integration and you’ll see the same bible verses used today against homosexuals.  Fifty years from now, they’ll be recycling them again to trash someone else they don’t like or who isn’t good enough for them.

From: By John Cole | Balloon Juice
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 @ 02:42 PM

Prayer Breakfast at West Point

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a Jan. 31 letter to the U.S. Military Academy calling for it to do some “soul searching” overWest Point’s annual so-called “National Prayer Breakfast,” after a controversy about Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin’s invitation to speak.

It is appalling, given this history of incendiary and unprofessional comments, that the U.S. Military Academy would honor Boykin by inviting him to provide an address at aWest Pointevent. His views are off-the-wall, conspiratorial, and advance a tired ‘persecuted’ Christian theme that seeks to pit Christians of his persuasion against everyone else,” wrote FFRF.

Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism (often with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism), is a secular philosophy. It embraces humanreasonethics, and justice while specifically rejecting religious dogmasupernaturalismpseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.

From http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

end

 

 

Chaos Gardening.

Chaos Gardening: A New Landscaping Concept, an Alternative to Terrorism?

By W.Olkowski PhD

5.16.12 Part of the Helga Series, 6th.

This thought – about the idea of chaos gardening – may be a response to having a new garden down here in Santa Barbara which is turning out delightful but looks chaotic.  Stuff just comes up here without being planted directly by me.  If I don’t want it I pull it out and have enough carbonaceous material to start another compost pile.  This includes nasturtiums, borage, sweet alyssum, and cow parsley (a weed).  Back in Berkeley I used to let the chard go to seed, at least a portion of the whole crop.  Sometimes this occurred before too long as I used to get sick of chard.  Helga loved it.  I heard that it binds calcium and produces oxalates.  And Helga suffered from oxalate vaginal tissues late in her illness.  Anyway, letting chard go to seed provides an awful number of new chard seedlings.  I pulled it out where I didn’t want it growing up.  But this tactic can be used with other plants.  In fact that’s the chaos in chaos gardening.

People say this area of Southern California is part of paradise, and I have come to believe it is, but you need to train the mind to see beauty even before you can see paradise.  This kind of paradise doesn’t have a bunch of virgins and all the booze I can drink.  That was the story about why those crazies traded their lives to fly planes into the twin towers killing people who never harmed them.  The plane that hit the pentagon was fair game in a war, so warrior to warrior deaths are part of warfare.  War on civilians whether deliberate or as collateral damage is not part of the warrior code.   Yet this aspect of human warfare has been increasing in intensity and horror with successive wars in the 20th century wherever war breaks out.

Paradise and Hate, a Bad Idea Mix

The draw of paradise is not enough alone, hate needs to be combined.  With hate any kind of paradise could be an incentive, make up any story that will do.  The mix can be then a great weapon, as we so have tragically learned.  Then with such a weapon the direction of whole countries can be affected, as we have tragically learned.  Or did we learn anything from this recent set of disasters.  This mix of religious belief focused with hate is a weapon superior to any nuclear missile.  And its vastly cheaper.  More specifically, its cost/effect ratio is low.  Not like million dollar drones, tanks, aircraft and multibillion costs of spying, storing all the emails of all theUScitizens for all the years since Georgie Porgie.  Is email storage another war on civilians?  But who’s the enemy?

Creating Gardening Paradises is the Answer

But gardening does not lead to hate but paradise, and that paradise is here on the earth.  And we can build it ourselves, so if humans survive there will be good stories to share.  The garden is a creative, beautiful thing that returns life from dead plants and waste foods.  It’s the most important food source on the planet.  Participating in the value shift turning waste into the source of life, wow! That’s a high.  Chaos gardening is new because I just made it up as a way to explain what I see in my back yard garden.  Chaos is hip, such a new idea, and combining it with gardening beats even an imagined paradise, certainly one based on hate.  I’ll explain further.

Chaos implies lack of direct manipulation.  I like to think it’s the basis of our universe, behind all the Nature we see, the stuff of energy that runs the earth/sun ecosystem.  Chaos can be seen when  looking at particles seen through a microscope jumping in a drop of water, without on obvious cause.  Chaos is an indicator of the stuff of the Universe.  Chaos like this threatens people who know how the Universe is structured by an omnipresent and omni-beneficient god.  When someone professes special knowledge I want to see the evidence and evaluate where the conclusions made from the evidence is justifiable.  That’s the scientist speaking.  Scientists have never started a war, even though their results are twisted into weapons.  Politicians start wars.

Gardening is Part of The Paradise We Can Create Here

As long as I keep putting compost onto the garden as mulch everything seems to just jump out of the ground down her in the SW US, in Santa Barbara.  This is because we have a mild climate, high levels of sunshine, sandy clay soils, and enough water.  We have a green waste curbside pick up stream and county composting system which makes free mulch available for pick up or delivery (costs).  Watering the garden takes too much water too, even though my plan is to raise the mulch level as high as it will go.  In April we used just over 10,000 gals of city water, cost $80..  That’s over 300 gals per day.  I don’t use toilet water for urine disposal as I poor it into the garden.  Mulches reduce the need for irrigation.  I have seen mulches 6 inches deep with no weeds between planted plants; that’s my goal.  Goals are achievable, ideals always recede, as one approaches them.  So make realistic goals, its more fun.

The deeper the mulch, the greater the insulation against the heat of the sun which would normally dry the bare soil excessively.  The increased evaporation from bare soil robs plants of life stimulating water, which would be conserved with mulches, even at a shallow level.  The soil organisms will take the mulch and chew it up, add their own manures to the soil all feeding the plants via their roots.  The tunnels made by the mites, nematodes, insects and all the others are part of the root respiratory system supporting green plants.  The roots take in oxygen, just like the leaves.  The roots also take in all the nutrients to support their plant lives.  These soil/root tunnels are thus nutrient sources, too.

WATER IS IMPORTANT but Precipitation Patterns are Changing

This water relationship is more accentuated here in SB which is a marginal desert area – with an average of 18 inches of rainfall.  Mediterranean bioclimatic regions have their rainfall in the winter.  This year is very different.  Its now May and expected rainfall is down, which means earlier dry hills than normal.  Its been a dry year all the way to August so far and the threat of fires is high.  Usually the hills dry enough to support a fire by mid June.  By September, certainly by December without rains, massive fast burning fires are more likely.  This is expressible like a mathematical relation: Early dry hills equals early fires.  Early fires are big problems with big costs.  This is especially true for the palace houses on the outskirts of Santa Barbara.  The last big fire here destroyed over 200 Montecito Palaces.  Fewer palace houses would be a benefit.  Insurance rates would be lower.  Mulches help conserve water, the deeper the better.  They may even reduce fire hazards, depending upon their processing and how they are used.

Mesasure Y – A Local Development Issue

Measure Y is now a contentious issue in the local city and county election.  Posters are around on the streets, for and against Y.  I have been asked twice to put up a poster in my front yard.  My place is good for advertising things.  I put stuff out by the curb and it is picked up with in at most 2 days.  I put an old car up for FREE one time and within 20 minutes a homeless guy came and gave me a dollar and drove it away.  There’s more to that story but let’s go back to measure Y and gardening.  I know more about gardening than measure Y, but Y looks like another costly effort to install a few more palaces for our new gazillonaires.

Measure Y will do some good and some bad and that can confuse people, it did me when I first heard about a project to build a bridge over and clean up a creek.  Careful reading also mentions a few high priced homes.  The plot now becomes clear.  We are asked to trade some benefit for somebody to make a million or two, serving the gazillionaires.  We don’t need any more palaces, however.  We need shelters for homeless people.  Can we have both palaces and shelters?  I think yes, but I don’t see the option being developed.

The Weather is Changing but Is it Climate Change?

Gardeners who pay attention know the weather is an indicator of climate conditions.  Things are changing, but don’t worry, paradise waits for you; but not for me.  I don’t want that paradise anyway.  I got one out the back door.

Climate deniers, like the religious crazies talking hate and paradise will kill us all, unless we take the world back and get the hogs out of the creek, like Jim Hightower says.  He says that about the bankers and billionaires who don’t pay their fair share.  The hogs include the public employees who are only working for themselves when they should be working for us.  The hogs in the creek, that’s a legacy from Reagan, maintained by the GOP and the milk toast democrats, ever since Reagan.  He actually removed the solar collectors from the roof of the white house as one of the first acts upon being elected.  What a throwback.  In garden terms, a throw back is what happens in a slow compost pile when hybrid seeds are cross fertilized.  They produce fruit but its useless.

Carter was just too much so had to go, just like the Kennedys had to go.  Once the hogs are out of the creek we may see our democracy work again for all of us, but the hogs will need to be pushed out, nobody gives up power it must be taken from them.  We can take it back with truth and intelligence.  See the talk by Jim Hansen (Ted.com) the early pioneer government scientist who risked his career in the Bush disaster going against their climate change denier policy.  Another scientist who travelled that path decades ago, Rachel Carson, ran the same gambit of lies and even hate.  And there are whistleblowers all over which need help, power does not like the truth.

Making Compost with Horse Manure

The thing about compost is it must be used as a mulch, placed on the surface of the ground.  Unless the soil is really bad, then turning some compost in upper soil levels can help the first time one reclaims a neglected urban lot, for example.  But on the surface is superior. There never seems to be enough compost so the first and primary activity in gardening on any useful scale is making compost.  I am greatly aided by the local horse people.  That’s another way the wealthy can help: keep maintaining horses.  They are marvelous animals, but I am partial to donkeys which I have more experience with.  Maybe someday horses will be part of my life but now it was donkeys.  Horses give horse manure, which has the perfect carbon/nitrogen ration of about 25 or 30/1.  Bedding mixed with manure is better yet as the urine has urea and with local temperatures water is evaporated, then it is just perfect.

The few experiments, just pilot studies, I have done so far here in SB taught me that adding about 10 5 gal buckets of horse manure to the same number of household kitchen wastes just cooks up fine.  The pile I have going now has been at over 150DF for 3 days, after building 5 days ago.  That’s enough to sterilize weed seed, plant pathogens, any developing fly larvae and decompose any proteins (“denatured”) or fats.

My greatest unknown achievement was to compost a dead sheep one time when we ran a farm.  My piles were bigger then what I recommend for household gardens .  The mix was mostly garden debris and horse bedding/manure mix from local horse stables.  With the right amount of water the pile I built around that sheep decomposed the skin, ribs, all the other tissues leaving the big leg bones, and skull.  I still have the skull, I loved my animals and it reminds me of them.  Sheep taught me so much, that’s for another time.

Chaos gardening makes the work of gardening easier since it occupies niches where weed seeds will emerge, so it reduces weeding labor.  It brings up plants with gobs of flowers, adding to the beauty of the garden.  And Chaos is the character of the behavior of the universe so one feels in touch with the cosmos, always a source of wonder and thoughts beyond just humans, thoughts of sources.  That’s my god.

And with that thought I add, gardening is enough, I don’t need to fly planes to kill others.  Building up something is more difficult then destroying.  Any asshole can destroy, it takes intelligence to build.  Let’s build a new world out of those ashes.  That’s what I am doing.

End episode 6 Helga Series