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Archive for September, 2010

Nader and Hedges on Corporate Control

Hey There!  It’s Independence Day down here in Costa Rica, I presume from Spain, but look it up if your so interested.  There will be a parade in town with kids in marching bands  (drums, cymbals, vibes) from the various schools around La Fortuna, and floats with little kids on them dressed like old style farmers in white with red and blue scarfs and bandannas and everyone goes and after it’s over everyone goes home.

Chris Hedges has given up on electoral politics:

Investing emotional and intellectual energy in electoral politics is a waste of time. Resistance means a radical break with the formal structures of American society. We must cut as many ties with consumer society and corporations as possible. We must build a new political and economic consciousness centered on the tangible issues of sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and radical environmental reform. The democratic system, and the liberal institutions that once made piecemeal reform possible, is dead. It exists only in name.

And on a day when the tea party is taking over the republican one, there’s this from long-suffering Ralph Nader:

“The corporate state is the ultimate maturation of American-type fascism,” Nader said. “They leave wide areas of personal freedom so that people can confuse personal freedom with civic freedom—the freedom to go where you want, eat where you want, associate with who you want, buy what you want, work where you want, sleep when you want, play when you want. If people have given up on any civic or political role for themselves there is a sufficient amount of elbow room to get through the day. They do not have the freedom to participate in the decisions about war, foreign policy, domestic health and safety issues, taxes or transportation. That is its genius. But one of its Achilles’ heels is that the price of the corporate state is a deteriorating political economy. They can’t stop their greed from getting the next morsel.

The game of electoral politics, which is given legitimacy by the right and the so-called left on the cable news shows, is just that—a game. It diverts us from what should be our daily task—dismantling, piece by piece, the iron grip that corporations hold over our lives. Hope is a word that is applicable only to those who grasp reality, however bleak, and do something meaningful to fight back—which does not include the farce of elections and involvement in mainstream political parties. Hope is about fighting against the real forces of destruction, not chanting “Yes We Can!” in rallies orchestrated by marketing experts, television crews, pollsters and propagandists or begging Obama to be Obama. Hope, in the hands of realists, spreads fear into the black heart of the corporate elite. But hope, real hope, remains thwarted by our collective self-delusion.

So it’s all just a good show, although I’m sure the tea partiers think its real enough.  Let them have their fun.

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Poverty is Relative

Smokey Down the Road

Poverty is up in the US to around 15%, or 45 million people.

In 2008, the poverty level stood at $22,025 for a family of four, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income before tax deductions. It excludes capital gains or accumulated wealth. It does not factor in non cash government aid such as tax credits or food stamps, which have surged to record levels in recent years under the federal stimulus program. (AP)

Now $22,000 doesn’t go far in the US, but here the going wage for a peon is $1.50 an hour, and I think the average monthly income is less than $500.  So, $22,000 would do you pretty good here in Costa Rica if you owned your own house or even if you didn’t.  Of course you’d have to give up life as a consumer supremo because its pretty much just the basics ma’am, down here.

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Weapons for Sale to 3rd World

The New York times reports world weapons sales have dropped 8.5% to $57 billion, $45 billion of that to developing countries. The US signed deals worth $22 billion, $17 billion worth to the poor countries. Brazil was the top buyer in the 3rd world with $7 billion, followed by Venezuela with $6.4 billion and Saudi Arabia with $4.6 billion.

What can we surmise from this information other than the recession caused a drop in sales? Obviously Brazil and Venezuela are wasting a lot of money on guns. Here in Costa Rica, where there is no army, the government is going to need all the money it can save to deal with the floods, landslides and devastation of climate change, around $33 million last year.  And its going to get worse.  And I would imagine the same is true of all developing countries.

And obviously, the $57 billion does not include domestic arms sales, which must dwarf the worldwide figure.

But will climate change force countries to shift their spending priorities, or will resource wars promote even more arms sales?

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Chocolate Gecko

There’s more than one kind of chocolate gecko, but I like this guy, although why he’s a chocolate gecko is kind of hard to understand.  The chocolate in my blog refers to cacao seedlings which we’re starting and growing here because cacao or raw chocolate is an incredible food, and if you don’t know about it look up David Wolfe who (along with Shazzie) wrote a great book called Naked Chocolate, which I haven’t really read, to be honest, but I have it and skimmed it.  The Aztecs used chocolate seeds as money, not gold, which they had plenty of but you can’t eat or grow trees with gold, so what good is it except as decoration?  Those were the days, before the conquerors.  The Guatuso Indians lived up here, hundreds, perhaps thousands, over thousands of years, growing cacao trees which can still be found around their cemeteries.

 

And here’s a cacao tree for those of you who have never seen one. As you see, the fruit hangs low and even from the trunk.  In each fruit pod are from 25 to 50 seeds.   We have 125 of the hardy Indian variety planted around the house, and amongst the fruit trees.

We’ll have more on this topic as we learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Gecko

Growing cacao, herbs, and Goji berries in Zona Norte, Costa Rica.

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Opening morning for the gecko life blog, and it’s a cool and hazy one above the valley here in Zona Norte of Costa Rica, specifically the rolling foothills below the cloud forests, above a small pueblo called San Francisco de las Penas Blancas, and incidentally a perfect habitat for the house gecko.  Gecko life is about adjusting to country living in the wet tropics after living most of my life since 1953 in a concrete desert — Los Angeles, California. It’s also about trying to become as self-sufficient as possible.  This is not a theoretical exploration.  My LA Unified teacher’s pension is tiny by US standards, and in a few years my capital will be exhausted, if not before.  So I have to become self-sufficient to survive, and I don’t have all day.

Chocolate gecko is mostly dedicated to chronicling thoughts and experiences while living and “farming” here in Zona Norte, Costa Rica  I was raised in the city, Los Angeles, California, and I know nothing about farming or gardening here except that I know almost nothing.  Thus, the theme of the versatile and talented gecko, a master of adaptation: 2000 species traveling and living around the world, displacing other species, chirping to his homies, space walking ceilings, hunting with night vision, eating everything and anything, but above all, moving, adapting, and surviving.

 

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Opening Day.

Nine years since the explosions in New York, and after two unjust, idiotic and ruinously expensive wars, and a massive homeland security complex to add to the military industrial one, we find the world altogether a more explosive place.

There was a big natural gas pipe line explosion near San Francisco, 3 dead, a lot burned, 50 houses destroyed.  No pipe lines up here, just water lines, which if they explode don’t do too much damage.  We have individual propane tanks, smaller, cheaper, safer and optional.  One tank for $15 lasts me 6 months or more, but I’m not cooking all day, just once a day to heat up the black beans and toast the tortillas.

Adriana Huffington says the US is becoming a Third World country and that nobody seems to care — there is no sense of urgency or political will as the middle class disappears.  The foreclosures sum up everything. After the banks bankrupted the economy they killed legislation to help homeowners, they sent them to the street.

George Packer:

Nine years later, the main fact of our lives is the overwhelming force of unreason. Evidence, knowledge, argument, proportionality, nuance, complexity, and the other indispensable tools of the liberal mind don’t stand a chance these days against the actual image of a mob burning an effigy, or the imagined image of a man burning a mound of books. Reason tries in its patient, level-headed way to explain, to question, to weigh competing claims, but it can hardly make itself heard and soon gives up. A Florida preacher with a congregation barely twice the number of the September 11th hijackers can rivet the world—will he do it, or won’t he? Where will the first post-Koran-burning terror attack happen, and how many people will die? The media senses a big story and makes him an international figure, with the tautological self-defense that he had become a big story. Halfway around the globe, in Jalalabad, Afghans riot, someone is killed, and Obama is burned in effigy—Obama, whom twenty per cent of Americans believe to be a Muslim, who has used whatever moral authority he has to stop the Florida nut from doing it. One man in Gainesville who represents next to nobody triggers thousands of men around the globe who know next to nothing about it to turn violent, which triggers more violence, which Fox and Al Jazeera air relentlessly, which makes people in front of TVs around the world go crazy.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/09/should-the-dream-ever-sour.html#ixzz0zDyxyjZz

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