Monthly Archives: March 2008

The Philosophy of Ambiguity

I don’t know where these originated, but I got them from a friend. They’re worth a quick read to lighten up your day. – t.h.g.


For those who love the philosophy of ambiguity…

 

1. DON’T SWEAT THE PETTY THINGS AND DON’T PET THE SWEATY THINGS.

2. ONE TEQUILA, TWO TEQUILA, THREE TEQUILA, FLOOR…..

3. ATHEISM IS A NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATION.

4. IF MAN EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS AND APES, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?

5. THE MAIN REASON SANTA IS SO JOLLY IS BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHERE ALL THE BAD GIRLS LIVE.

6. I WENT TO A BOOKSTORE AND ASKED THE SALESWOMAN, “WHERE’S THE SELF HELP SECTION?” SHE SAID IF SHE TOLD ME, IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE.

7. WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS?

8. IF A DEAF PERSON SWEARS, DOES HIS MOTHER WASH HIS HANDS WITH SOAP?

9. IF SOMEONE WITH MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES THREATENS TO KILL HIMSELF, IS IT CONSIDERED A HOSTAGE SITUATION?

10. IS THERE ANOTHER WORD FOR SYNONYM?

11. WHERE DO FOREST RANGERS GO TO “GET AWAY FROM IT ALL?”

12. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU SEE AN ENDANGERED ANIMAL EATING AN ENDANGERED PLANT?

13. IF A PARSLEY FARMER IS SUED, CAN THEY GARNISH HIS WAGES?

14. WOULD A FLY WITHOUT WINGS BE CALLED A WALK?

15. WHY DO THEY LOCK GAS STATION BATH ROOMS? ARE THEY AFRAID SOMEONE WILL CLEAN THEM?

16. IF A TURTLE DOESN’T HAVE A SHELL, IS HE HOMELESS OR NAKED?

17. CAN VEGETARIANS EAT ANIMAL CRACKERS?

18. IF THE POLICE ARREST A MIME, DO THEY TELL HIM HE HAS THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT?

19. WHY DO THEY PUT BRAILLE ON THE DRIVE- THROUGH BANK MACHINES?

20. HOW DO THEY GET DEER TO CROSS THE ROAD ONLY AT THOSE YELLOW ROAD SIGNS?

21. WHAT WAS THE BEST THING BEFORE SLICED BREAD?

22. ONE NICE THING ABOUT EGOTISTS: THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.

23. DOES THE LITTLE MERMAID WEAR AN ALGEBRA?

24. DO INFANTS ENJOY INFANCY AS MUCH AS ADULTS ENJOY ADULTERY?

25. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE A CIVIL WAR?

26. IF ONE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER DROWNS, DO THE REST DROWN TOO?

27. IF YOU ATE BOTH PASTA AND ANTIPASTO, WOULD YOU STILL BE HUNGRY?

28. IF YOU TRY TO FAIL, AND SUCCEED, WHICH HAVE YOU DONE?

29. WHOSE CRUEL IDEA WAS IT FOR THE WORD “LISP” TO HAVE “S” IN IT?

30. WHY ARE HEMORRHOIDS CALLED “HEMORRHOIDS” INSTEAD OF “ASSTEROIDS”?

31. WHY IS IT CALLED TOURIST SEASON IF WE CAN’T SHOOT AT THEM?

32. WHY IS THERE AN EXPIRATION DATE ON SOUR CREAM?

33. IF YOU SPIN AN ORIENTAL MAN IN A CIRCLE THREE TIMES DOES HE BECOME DISORIENTED?

34. CAN AN ATHEIST GET INSURANCE AGAINST ACTS OF GOD?

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Debtor Nation – The Hijacking of America’s Economy – An Interview With Dr. Michael Hudson

I know Michael Hudson’s work and have a high regard for his scholarship and candor.

I strongly urge you to read this interview, Debtor Nation – The Hijacking of America’s Economy, that appeared in the January, 2008 issue of ACRES, USA. In it, Hudson has some startling things to say about the American economy, how the United States behaves in the world, and the candidates in the upcoming presidential election.

You can also find some interesting audio files at his website. — t.h.g.

A Curse That Brings Enlightenment?

 Lauren Raine is known for the wonderful masks that she creates, but that is not the end of her creativity. Her poem, The Curse of Morrigan is exquisite in its wisdom. Here it is below, taken from her website with her permission. – t.h.g.

The CURSE OF THE MORRIGAN

You who bring suffering to children:

May you look into the sweetest, most open eyes, and howl the loss of your innocence.

You who ridicule the poor, the grieving, the lost, the fallen, the inarticulate, the wounded children in grown-up bodies:

May you look into each face, and see a mirror. May all your cleverness fall into the abyss of your speechless grief, your secret hunger, may you look into that black hole with no name, and find….the most tender touch in the darkest night, the hand that reaches out. May you take that hand. May you walk all your circles home at last, and coming home, know where you are.

You tree-killers, you wasters:

May you breathe the bitter dust, may you thirst, may you walk hungry in the wastelands, the barren places you have made. And when you cannot walk one step further, may you see at your foot a single blade of grass, green, defiantly green. And may you be remade by it’s generosity.

And those who are greedy in a time of famine:

May you be emptied out, may your hearts break not in half, but wide open in a thousand places, and may the waters of the world pour from each crevice, washing you clean.

Those who mistake power for love:

May you know true loneliness. And when you think your loneliness will drive you mad, when you know you cannot bear it one more hour, may a line be cast to you, one shining, light woven strand of the Great Web glistening in the dark. And may you hold on for dear life.

Those passive ones, those ones who force others to shape them, and then complain if it’s not to your liking:

May you find yourself in the hard place with your back against the wall. And may you rage, rage until you find your will. And may you learn to shape yourself.

And you who delight in exploiting others, imagining that you are better than they are:

May you wake up in a strange land as naked as the day you were born and thrice as raw. May you look into the eyes of any other soul, in your radiant need and terrible vulnerability. May you know yourSelf. And may you be blessed by that communion.

And may you love well, thrice and thrice and thrice, and again and again and again:

May you find your face before you were born.

And may you drink from deep, deep waters.

Are Soy Foods Good or Bad?

There’s more to the soy story than the hype we get from food marketers.

To get the straight scoop, see the article on it by Dr. Mercola.

Here’s his bottom line on it.

And, as a result, most of today’s soy foods are loaded with anti-nutrients and are a nutritional nightmare linked to:

If you would like to know more, Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s groundbreaking book, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food is an excellent place to start. She authored the Weston A. Price Foundation’s FDA petition, and is a definite expert in the field.

But before you swear off all soy foods for good, there is something you should know.

Fermented Soy Foods ARE Healthy

You may recall me talking about the wonderful health benefits of traditionally fermented foods. Well, this is true of ALL varieties, including fermented soy.

After a long fermentation process, the phytate (which blocks your body’s uptake of essential minerals) and antinutrient levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.

So am I opposed to eating soy? Absolutely not — as long as it is in one of the fermented forms that follows:

  • Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor. This one is my favorite, and I personally eat it nearly every day (it has the highest concentration of vitamin k in the human diet) and is also loaded with nattokinase, a very powerful blood thinner.
  • Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
  • Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
  • Soy sauce: traditionally, soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes, however be wary because many varieties on the market are made artificially using a chemical process.

Federal Government Hampers Small Farmers and Local Food Movement

The following op-ed by a Minnesota farmer appeared in the New York Times. It is a prime example of how virtually everything in this country has been politicized and rigged to favor corporate interests. Despite the pervasive “free market” rhetoric, the reality is clear — corporations hate competition and will do most anything to eliminate it. Your health, your food security, and you family finances are all adversely affected by this one. – t.h.g.

My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)

Published: March 1, 2008

IF you’ve stood in line at a farmers´ market recently, you know that the local food movement is thriving, to the point that small farmers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand.

But consumers who would like to be able to buy local fruits and vegetables not just at farmers´ markets, but also in the produce aisle of their supermarket, will be dismayed to learn that the federal government works deliberately and forcefully to prevent the local food movement from expanding. And the barriers that the United States Department of Agriculture has put in place will be extended when the farm bill that House and Senate negotiators are working on now goes into effect.

As a small organic vegetable producer in southern Minnesota, I know this because my efforts to expand production to meet regional demand have been severely hampered by the Agriculture Department´s commodity farm program. As I´ve looked into the politics behind those restrictions, I´ve come to understand that this is precisely the outcome that the program´s backers in California and Florida have in mind: they want to snuff out the local competition before it even gets started.

Last year, knowing that my own 100 acres wouldn´t be enough to meet demand, I rented 25 acres on two nearby corn farms. I plowed under the alfalfa hay that was established there, and planted watermelons, tomatoes and vegetables for natural-food stores and a community-supported agriculture program.

All went well until early July. That´s when the two landowners discovered that there was a problem with the local office of the Farm Service Administration, the Agriculture Department branch that runs the commodity farm program, and it was going to be expensive to fix.

The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on “corn base” acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

I´ve discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables – if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, there´s no problem.)

In my case, that meant I paid my landlords $8,771 – for one season alone! And this was in a year when the high price of grain meant that only one of the government´s three crop-support programs was in effect; the total bill might be much worse in the future.

In addition, the bureaucratic entanglements that these two farmers faced at the Farm Service office were substantial. The federal farm program is making it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to me to grow fresh organic vegetables.

Why? Because national fruit and vegetable growers based in California, Florida and Texas fear competition from regional producers like myself. Through their control of Congressional delegations from those states, they have been able to virtually monopolize the country´s fresh produce markets.

That´s unfortunate, because small producers will have to expand on a significant scale across the nation if local foods are to continue to enter the mainstream as the public demands. My problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

Last year, Midwestern lawmakers proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide some farmers, though only those who supply processors, with some relief from the penalties that I´ve faced – for example, a soybean farmer who wanted to grow tomatoes would give up his usual subsidy on those acres but suffer none of the other penalties. However, the Congressional delegations from the big produce states made the death of what is known as Farm Flex their
highest farm bill priority, and so it appears to be going nowhere, except perhaps as a tiny pilot program.

Who pays the price for this senselessness? Certainly I do, as a Midwestern vegetable farmer. But anyone trying to do what I do on, say, wheat acreage in the Dakotas, or rice acreage in Arkansas would face the same penalties. Local and regional fruit and vegetable production will languish anywhere that the commodity program has influence.

Ultimately of course, it is the consumer who will pay the greatest price for this – whether it is in the form of higher prices I will have to charge to absorb the government´s fines, or in the form of less access to the kind of fresh, local produce that the country is crying out for.

Farmers need the choice of what to plant on their farms, and consumers need more farms like mine producing high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables to meet increasing demand from local markets – without the federal government actively discouraging them.

Jack Hedin is a farmer.