Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Little Comic Relief With Robin Williams

Scary as things may be with the economy and global politics, it is essential that we not loose our sense of humor. Here is Robin Williams at his funniest and most irreverent. Click below to see the video clip, Robin Williams on Obama’s Election, and a whole lot more here.

Toward Mutual Assistance and a Gift Economy

This comes to me by way of Steve Moyer. Some excellent suggestions for reducing our dependence on conventional money while at the same time making friends and building community. I might add that there are some very good social networks that enable hospitality and accommodations for travelers. I have positive personal experience with I’ve also joined Hospitality Club, but have not made use of it yet. – t.h.g.

37 Ways to Join the Gift Economy

by Beverly Feldman and Charles Gray

You don’t have to participate in a local currency or service exchange to be part of the cooperative gift economy. Any time you do a favor for a family member, neighbor, colleague, or stranger you’re part of it. Here are some ways you can spend time in the gift economy, where you’ll find fun, freedom, and connection.

1. Start a dinner co-op. Rotate among the homes of friends and neighbors for weekly or monthly potlucks.

2. Help a local farmer with the harvest in exchange for some of the crop.

3. Put up a traveler.

4. Hold twice-yearly sport supply exchanges so kids can acquire new skis and baseball mitts and everyone can try out a new sport.

5. Harvest wild or unwanted fruits and vegetables.

6. Grow your own, and give some of it away.

7. Share seeds and clippings from your garden – especially native and “heritage” species. Hold an annual plant exchange.

8. Organize a “non-consumption booth” at a farmers’ market or street fair. At the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, the Environmental Chat Corner hosts discussions of environmental issues, sustainable building and landscaping, ecotourism, and community development.

9. Buy food or supplies in bulk and share with friends.

10. Form a home-repair team to fix your own place and others’.

11. Request help of someone usually regarded as needy.

12. Create your own rainy-day fund with your friends. One group pooled $1,000 each, which they lent to any in the group who needed it. The fund helped members survive a lost job, a stolen bicycle, and a broken arm.

13. Make space available to other people to grow food on your land.

14. Borrow garden space from someone who has extra land; give them, or a food bank, some of the produce.

15. Give co-workers neck and shoulder massages.

16. Offer to mentor a young person.

17. Ask a 12-year-old to show you how to get onto the Worldwide Web.

18. Throw a block party.

19. Show up at a soup kitchen and ask for volunteer help.

20. Rent out extra space to people needing a place to sleep, work, or just to get away, or exchange the space for yard work or baby-sitting.

21. Convert a duplex, apartment building, old nursing home, or seminary into a co-housing community.

22. Convert a barn or warehouse into a space for artists and start-up businesses.

23. Create a space for neighbors to keep and share infrequently used tools and extra garden supplies.

24. Start a baby-sitting or child care co-op.

25. Hold a monthly clean-up of a beach, park, roadway, river bank; get coffee houses to donate goodies.

26. Plant trees. Get the city to select and donate them.

27. Find a person on each block who will help neighbors get assistance when needed – from other neighbors when possible.

28. Share a car.

29. Or start a car co-op with various vehicles for different uses. Share expenses based on mileage.

30. Paint donated bicycles and place them in downtown areas with signs indicating they’re for anyone to use.

31. Become a foster parent, a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister.’ Notice the ways everyone benefits!

32. Exchange lessons, for example, cooking for carpentry.

33. Teach a skill, like carpentry, and ask your students to donate time to others.

34. Adopt a stream or a highway to restore, maintain, and beautify.

35. Work with your neighbors to develop a vision for your neighborhood’s future.

36. Hold talent shows. Give kids lots of recognition, and everyone opportunity to discover their hidden talents.

37. Create your own money. Use ideas from YES! to start a community currency or skills exchange.

Special thanks to Beverly Feldman, Charles Gray, Sandra L. Kettle, Linda Pierce, and Steven Rauchman, for contributions to this section.

Learning Life’s Lessons

Urban legend or true story? I don’t know, but thanks to Virginia and Steve I have this superb life lesson to pass along.

The Dead Cow and Vet School

First-year students at the UC Davis Vet school were receiving their first anatomy class, with a real dead cow.

They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet. The professor started the class by telling them, ‘In Veterinary Medicine it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor: The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the animal body.’ For an example, the Professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the dead cow, withdrew it and stuck his finger in his mouth.

‘Go ahead and do the same thing,’ he told his students. The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the anal opening of the dead cow and sucking on it.

When everyone finished, the Professor looked at them and said, ‘The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger.’ ‘Now learn to pay attention. Life’s tough, it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.

Early December Newsletter

Here is my latest newsletter which went out to my list yesterday. It has elicited a number of good comments which I have asked people to post here, so watch for them to be added. – t.h.g.

What’s Happening

Yup, still on Koh Phangan, but not for long. Many of you are probably wondering about the political turmoil that has been in the news. The trouble seems to have been confined to Bangkok, a long way from here, where things go on as usual. Anyway, it seems all that was resolved yesterday (Wednesday) with the fall of the government and protestors leaving the airports and government buildings they had occupied for some time. Whether trouble might flare up again seems to depend on what kinds of political changes take place over the next couple weeks and who becomes the new prime minister. One must admire the Thais for their restraint in dealing with that crisis. If it had been the U.S. or Europe, or China, or ____, SWAT teams would have been sent in and lots of blood would have spilt in clearing the place out. After all, profits are more important than people. (Don’t call me cynical, you know it’s true).

We had quite a monsoon season. I was stuck inside my house for three nights and two days because of heavy rains and wind. When the rain stopped the roads were impassable in some spots because of flooding and mud slides. There was a two week stretch with no chance to get to the beach or catch some sun. Over the past week the weather has gradually been improving starting with several days of unsettled weather — lots of wind and clouds — to warmer and clearer weather. Today was the first mostly sunny day in a long time. Maybe that signals an end to this year’s monsoon.

All of that was just as well because I’ve had my nose to the keyboard slaving over the second round edits of my book. My editor at Chelsea Green, Jonathan Teller-Ellsberg, finished his developmental edit of my manuscript and returned it to me with some good suggestions for improvement. I’ve been hammering away at it almost continuously since and I’m feeling good about the results. There’s nothing like the assistance of a professional editor to improve one’s writing.

Recent Publication

Daniel Pinchbeck is the publisher of an online magazine, Reality Sandwich. At his request I provided an article titled, Toward a New Economic Order, which was published a few days ago. You might want to have a look. I’ve been asked to provide some additional articles with specific how-to-do-it advice, which I’ll be preparing over the coming weeks. Much of that material will be drawn from my new book. The title of the book? Oh, it’s to be called The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

With the book task competed I got inspired this afternoon to do some maintenance on my website, I had to learn some new tricks to manage it but I’m proud to say the mission has been accomplished. I’ve put up a new “welcome” statement and fixed some links to the Worgl case documents that had been broken.


I recently discovered that Hartley Withers’ classic book, The Meaning of Money, has been republished by Kessinger Publishing, LLC and is available through They might also have cheaper copies available. My copy of the seventh edition, published in 1947, is a treasured part of my personal library. I strongly recommend that any serious student of money and banking should read this book.

On a more general topic, you might want to watch this 16-minute YouTube video by Stefan Molyneux that will coax you further to “take the red pill” and escape the “matrix.” One blogger calls it “the most dangerous video on the internet.” At the conclusion of this polemic against statism, ideology, and religious establishments, Molyneux tells us that it is reason and courage that will set us free. You can find it embedded in this blog below.

Feeling Deprived

While to cost of living here is pretty cheap, imports, as you might expect, are quite expensive, even more costly than the same items are back home. Olive oil, for example, a staple of my diet and necessary ingredient for both salad dressing and cooking, costs almost double what I pay at home; same for blue cheese. And I haven’t had a glass of wine since I left California, 5 months ago. The cheapest bottle of wine here runs about $10. Oh, how I miss Trader Joe’s. I’d gladly pay five dollars even for a bottle of “two buck chuck,” if I could find it.

Sex and Islamic Suicide Terrorism

One of my German correspondents sent me a link to a site called the SexParty. No, it’s not an erotic site filled with porn. It’s a political site. The tag line is “Politics for a sex-positive future.” It’s an analysis of the link between Sex and Islamic Suicide Terrorism, which, I think is absolutely correct. The repression of sexuality that was foisted upon me as I was growing up in Catholic schools provides the background from which my own present understanding stems. The article argues (I’m paraphrasing) that when testosterone-driven young males (who constitute the vast majority of suicide bombers) are prevented from expressing their natural sexual urges, they become enraged, unbalanced and inclined to fight. You can read the whole one-page article here. As the Hippies were wont to say, “Make love, not war.”

Along similar lines, but not specifically related, here’s a mini-lesson in “compassionate communication.”

The basic NVC approach to communicating has these basic components:





This avoids making judgments or demands. The dialog process is:

Describe the situation,

Describe how it makes you feel,

Let the other person know what you need,

Make a request (but be ready to accept “no.”)

You can find good information on the websites I gave in my last newsletter or do a search on “Non-violent Communication.”

Enough for now.


Matrix Realities, Modes of Escape? — New Video Offers Inights

Here is a 16-minute YouTube video by Stefan Molyneux that will coax you further to “take the red pill” and escape the matrix.”