Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

August 8, 2012

Escape from Wonderland

Filed under: gardening, Soapbox — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paragardener @ 12:25 am

Today I went to vote and received a sticker claiming that “My vote counted!” I seem to remember a time in the past when you received a sticker that said, “I voted.” Like “I gave blood,” the sticker was a subtle social pressure to get other people doing the same thing. If more people vote, that should tend to make our sham democracy less of a sham.

“My vote counted” means something completely different. It means “I have faith in the electoral system.” Which I don’t… I can’t really say if I fed my ballot today directly into a paper shredder or not. Anyways, the candidates who win are generally those anointed by party machines, which live as a sort of parasite or symbiont on the corporatocracy. By and large, we the people don’t count because we almost¬† always vote as those with advertising dollars tell us (the more educated will listen to the pet journalists of the corporatocracy, who depend on the advertising rather than writing it. Advertising trumps investigation either way).

“My vote counted” is just a little intrusion of the phony propaganda world into my real life. The worst is when I try to find some news of the world and extend my view beyond my narrow little Michigan horizon (although, to be fair to this fine state, I do¬† feel like the trees limiting my line of sight, are at the right height.) The politics is all left-right, while the people at the center of it, never mentioned, suck money and life-blood from all the peoples of the world. The science is all gee-whiz, and an unexpected result in a laboratory game is always hailed as a groundbreaking new insight into the human condition. History only goes back as far as World War II. The United States isn’t an imperial power, we’re the champion of freedom around the world. It makes me want to snort bath salts and run amok, naked and howling.

The Powers That Be have yet to attain total control over our information. In fact, you can frequently hear them wringing their hands over the breakdown of consensus and the rising popularity of alternative, odd, and sometimes unbelievable beliefs. When people have been raised by T.V. and the K-12 system to be non-thinking corporate servitors, and yet they can no longer accept the nonsensical mainstream chorus message, they’re going to invent some funky explanations for the way the world is. As long as they’re not blaring hateful vibes, look at the funky beliefs of (biodynamic gardeners, state militia members, Wilhem Reich followers, the Tea Party…) and try to find the grain of truth that’s driving them.

That said, with the help of friends and family, I have developed some strategies for getting less-warped news of the world.

You can avoid the American corporate media. Read a local paper from Canada, available online (that’s how I discovered that U.S. States were floating bills to ban photography of farms, largely to facilitate horrible conditions for animals). Listen to the BBC, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, or even NPR. I don’t particularly trust these sources as truthful, but they will widen up your field of vision.

There are also independent voices you can hear over the Internet. I really enjoy Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert — they are on Russia Today and an Iranian channel, amongst other outlets, including some truly independent ones. It’s true that the duo won’t slam Russia on RT, but Russia doesn’t loom huge on my list of concerns. Max and Stacy’s job is to expose financial scams, which are plentiful and expensive in this world. Max was once a Wall Street broker and knows first hand what kind of rip-off artists inhabit the circles of high finance. There is no kowtowing to “technocrats” or Too-Big-to-Fail institutions from the mighty Max & Stacy.

Now, I don’t have an endless hunger to hear about financial scandal, but there are often other good news items reposted on maxkeiser.com, or Max will have guests on who you can look up to find out something new. He’s hosted the likes of Dmitry Orlov and James Howard Kunstler, who hold the view that the corporatist economy has grown to its limits and must now crash (credit and investment don’t work so hot in a shrinking economy. And it will be a dark day if the money system becomes so shoddy that, for instance, delivery drivers wake up and decide that it’s no longer worth going to work).

Most recently, I’ve been visiting the Internet home of the Corbett Report, broadcast from “the sunny climes of Western Japan.” Corbett follows the activities of elites to gather “Open Source Intelligence” on them and discover what they are really up to. Hint: the ranks of those with great wealth and power are made up largely of people who crave great wealth and power. Everything Corbett presents is sourced, thus shedding light on many new fields for the Internet-scrounger.

Corbett believes that Peak Oil is a hoax, Orlov believes it’s as certain as gravity. There is no phony consensus outside of propaganda Wonderland, but you can bet that Orlov and Corbett have a reasonable disagreement, and aren’t paid to speak from their particular opposing positions. What kind of person can be paid to hold to a particular line? What kind of credibility should you grant such a person?

It is totally necessary to dig into the dark, hidden side of things, like Smeagol fishing in a dark hole or turning over rocks to find worms and wood lice. If you have no drive to look at the evil, you would totally allow Nazis to take your neighbors away and figure that they were really going to a fun and educational camp. But there is also a wonderful side to life, of volcano-painted sunsets and meteor showers and creative people to appreciate.

Sometimes it’s hard to get out of The Grid, the mile roads and power lines and mowed fields of Southeastern Michigan and ten thousand other metropolitan sprawls around the world. So, I suggest escaping its all-stultifying influence by allowing one corner of your backyard to go wild. You could water it in a drought or cut back a nasty invasive plant, but mainly just support the life there, and don’t try to utilize or prettify it too much. This is a place to forget about the endless echo of human chatter and value judgements and artifice.

Learn from weeds.

June 10, 2012

Ozone Alert: Your neighbors’ lawnmowers are killing you today.

I went to NOAA.gov this morning to check the weather. There was a little note with a hyperlink stuck to my local forecast: “Hazardous Weather Conditions: Ozone Alert.”

THE MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY HAS
DECLARED SUNDAY...JUNE 10TH...TO BE AN ACTION DAY FOR
ELEVATED LEVELS OF OZONE. POLLUTANTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE IN THE
UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS RANGE.

THE ACTION DAY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE FOLLOWING MICHIGAN COUNTIES...

GENESEE...LAPEER...LENAWEE...LIVINGSTON...MACOMB...MONROE...
OAKLAND...SHIAWASSEE...ST CLAIR...WASHTENAW...AND WAYNE COUNTIES.

PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES ARE URGED TO AVOID ACTIVITIES WHICH LEAD
TO OZONE FORMATION. THESE ACTIVITIES INCLUDE...REFUELING VEHICLES
OR TOPPING OFF WHEN REFUELING...USING GASOLINE POWERED LAWN
EQUIPMENT...AND USING CHARCOAL LIGHTER FLUID. POSITIVE ACTIVITIES
INCLUDE...CAR POOLING...BIKING TO WORK...DELAYING OR COMBINING
ERRANDS AND USING WATER BASED PAINTS.

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ACTIVE CHILDREN AND ADULTS...AND PERSONS
WITH RESPIRATORY DISEASES SUCH AS ASTHMA...LIMIT PROLONGED
OUTDOOR EXERTION.

It’s remarkable that the Department of Environmental Quality is not blaming this toxic cloud on industry’s Satanic mills. This pollution is being done neighbor-to-neighbor, through cars, lawnmowers, paint, and grills. Somebody with asthma has to stay inside today for someone else to live the suburban dream of mowing the lawn, driving to the store and barbequing.

For my part, it never occurred to me that lighter fluid was a serious pollutant. I’ll be only too happy to switch to a chimney-style charcoal starter.

Someone gifted me their old gas-powered lawn mower last Fall, and I treated it like crap and it died after about three mowings. To replace it, I got a hand-powered reel mower — American innovation, Chinese manufacture, bought through Amazon.com.

Reel mower with a grass catcher.I can’t wait for the grass to grow! Oh, I shall dance the dance of Green Consumer Superiority the day I get to mow with this! It’s quieter and it doesn’t smell bad, besides requiring no gas and generating no pollutants of any type.

Well, I’m happy to change one practice at a time towards sustainability / not poisoning my neighbors. It’s a long road out of mutually-imposed suburban Hell, but making the trip is better than living and dying this way.

January 12, 2012

RIP, Back Lawn

Filed under: gardening — Tags: , , , , , , , — paragardener @ 5:25 pm

Since moving into my house, the back lawn has been lame. It was spotty and totally non-resilient to dogs running on it. My entire property seems to be low and it drains to a low spot in the street, where there is no storm drain and it just puddles up and spills back onto the side lawn. We planted grass seed in the Spring and the Fall, and watered it fairly appropriately, but grass seedlings just can’t anchor in the runny mud my yard turns into during the Spring and Fall, nor sprout during the heat of high Summer.

I could go nuts trying to farm turf out in the back yard there. I could move in truckloads of soil to raise the land, or dump fertilizer and sprinkle water all Summer to speed the growth of the grass, or redirect the water that spills off of the garage in an effort to impose some order back there. I could lay down sod and keep the dogs out of there for months while it comes together. However, the Lawn Gestapo can’t see into my backyard, so I’m free to say “fuck it!”

“How do you transform your lawn?” asks The Urban Homestead . “You lay down sheet mulch right over it.” Tamara and I went out there one warm January day and lay down a thick layer of straw. Besides our desperate need to contain the mud, laying down some mulch is the basic tactic organic gardeners use to control weeds and build soil fertility. Granted, my mulch could be more creative and use more layers (something nitrogen-rich?), but it represents finally stepping away from the Cult of Turf and into a healthier, life-supporting relationship with the land.

Straw-covered ground, with tree and dog

The Ex-Lawn, and Lawn-Destroying Culprits

Our largest crop in the United States is lawn. Meanwhile, something like 1 in 6 Americans struggles with getting enough to eat, and a vast majority of us eat low-quality, overprocessed food which leads to heart attacks and diabetes. If everyone grew their own veggies or relied on a neighbor, that situation would change in one season. Why sacrifice ourselves to the God of Green Grass?

Meanwhile, the Lawn Gestapo is organizing “block captains” to snitch on lawn heretics all over the neighborhood. Under these circumstances, I’m keeping the front and side lawns, but I’ve found an easy way to care for them. I leave the lawnmower blade set high to ensure that I don’t whack off the entire green part of the grass and end up with short, but brown, stubble. And, I don’t ever fertilize or water, so the grass doesn’t grow very fast!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.