Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: May 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

0% renewable energy loans now available

Occasionally someone gets things right and a new pilot project called the Powerhouse initiative is just such an example. Hydro One has partnered with Mississauga, Brampton and York region to offer 0% loans for homeowners who install renewable energy systems. The Program offers loans from $2,000 up to $50,000 which are repayable in 3-10 years depending on amount.

The program will allow the installation of geothermal, solar hot water, small wind and photovoltics after you registered and take an informational course and undergo a home energy audit. The program even offers the opportunity to form local buying clubs to negotiate lower prices for a group of homes having the same products installed.

This is a great start and a great boon for people in the pilot areas, like me in Newmarket, It’s going to take a little more research to find out if the product list is fixed or if you have a decent amount of choice. I also question that they did not include the installation of a few other technologies like a new brand of high efficiency air source heat pump designed for our crappy cold weather.
Solar pool heaters
or solar air heaters like the solar-max as mentioned in my post IngeNewfity

Damn, I've been had, only parts of York Region are covered by Hydro one and I'm not part of it. For clarification only King Township, East Gwillimbury, Georgina or Whitchurch-Stouffville qualify from York. RRRGGGG!

I’m definitely going to sign up for the informational meeting, check out what they are offering and figure out if its doable for me at this time. Of course if we had a Federal and Provincial governments with any sense they would offer grants or removing the sale tax on this stuff to make sure the program works.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lake Mead 1/2 empty, Peak water hits the U.S.

or is it 1/2 full? maybe the dam is to big!

This will not only kill development and jeopardize the survival of desert cities but will also cripple agriculture in the region, one more piece in the famine puzzle.Recommend this Post

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big leap in Wind Turbine tech ?

A new start up company called FloDesign Wind Turbine has not only won several MIT awards totaling $300k in recent weeks but quite possibly the funding of notable Venture Capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Bayers, apparently represented by Al Gore

The FloDesign wind turbine which looks like the front of a jet engine is claimed to be 3-4 times more efficient than the current exposed blade turbines, operating well in both low and high wind conditions.

These units as proposed can be assembled on site rather than trucked in pieces which will lower shipping costs.

Are much smaller, allowing them to be placed much closer together and allowing greater power generation/area.

I would assume the smaller size should also reduce the amount of resources needed to manufacture the turbines and the masts, it all looks pretty encouraging.

There is a good write up here and another with a decent video here

This definitely just a start up firm, (example: their web site is a just a picture with a contact link),but if they do have funding and can make this work as projected they will be huge. They even have orders pending, provided they meet performance and development goals.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

it's dusk on planet Earth

A interesting article by Bill Mckibben author of Deep Economy and co-founder of Project 350

Civilization's last chance
The planet is nearing a tipping point on climate change, and it gets much worse, fast.
By Bill McKibben

May 11, 2008

Even for Americans -- who are constitutionally convinced that there will always be a second act, and a third, and a do-over after that, and, if necessary, a little public repentance and forgiveness and a Brand New Start -- even for us, the world looks a little terminal right now.

It's not just the economy: We've gone through swoons before. It's that gas at $4 a gallon means we're running out, at least of the cheap stuff that built our sprawling society. It's that when we try to turn corn into gas, it helps send the price of a loaf of bread shooting upward and helps ignite food riots on three continents. It's that everything is so tied together. It's that, all of a sudden, those grim Club of Rome types who, way back in the 1970s, went on and on about the "limits to growth" suddenly seem ... how best to put it, right.

All of a sudden it isn't morning in America, it's dusk on planet Earth.

There's a number -- a new number -- that makes this point most powerfully. It may now be the most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A few weeks ago, NASA's chief climatologist, James Hansen, submitted a paper to Science magazine with several coauthors. The abstract attached to it argued -- and I have never read stronger language in a scientific paper -- that "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm."

Hansen cites six irreversible tipping points -- massive sea level rise and huge changes in rainfall patterns, among them -- that we'll pass if we don't get back down to 350 soon; and the first of them, judging by last summer's insane melt of Arctic ice, may already be behind us.

So it's a tough diagnosis. It's like the doctor telling you that your cholesterol is way too high and, if you don't bring it down right away, you're going to have a stroke. So you take the pill, you swear off the cheese, and, if you're lucky, you get back into the safety zone before the coronary. It's like watching the tachometer edge into the red zone and knowing that you need to take your foot off the gas before you hear that clunk up front.

In this case, though, it's worse than that because we're not taking the pill and we are stomping on the gas -- hard. Instead of slowing down, we're pouring on the coal, quite literally. Two weeks ago came the news that atmospheric carbon dioxide had jumped 2.4 parts per million last year -- two decades ago, it was going up barely half that fast.

And suddenly the news arrives that the amount of methane, another potent greenhouse gas accumulating in the atmosphere, has unexpectedly begun to soar as well. It appears that we've managed to warm the far north enough to start melting huge patches of permafrost, and massive quantities of methane trapped beneath it have begun to bubble forth.

And don't forget: China is building more power plants; India is pioneering the $2,500 car; and Americans are buying TVs the size of windshields, which suck juice ever faster.

Here's the thing. Hansen didn't just say that if we didn't act, there was trouble coming. He didn't just say that if we didn't yet know what was best for us, we'd certainly be better off below 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

His phrase was: "if we wish to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed." A planet with billions of people living near those oh-so-floodable coastlines. A planet with ever-more vulnerable forests. (A beetle, encouraged by warmer temperatures, has already managed to kill 10 times more trees than in any previous infestation across the northern reaches of Canada this year. This means far more carbon heading for the atmosphere and apparently dooms Canada's efforts to comply with the Kyoto protocol, which was already in doubt because of its decision to start producing oil for the U.S. from Alberta's tar sands.)

We're the ones who kicked the warming off; now the planet is starting to take over the job. Melt all that Arctic ice, for instance, and suddenly the nice white shield that reflected 80% of incoming solar radiation back into space has turned to blue water that absorbs 80% of the sun's heat. Such feedbacks are beyond history, though not in the sense that Francis Fukuyama had in mind.

And we have, at best, a few years to short-circuit them -- to reverse course. Here's the Indian scientist and economist Rajendra Pachauri, who accepted the Nobel Prize on behalf of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year (and, by the way, got his job when the Bush administration, at the behest of Exxon Mobil, forced out his predecessor): "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment."

In the next two or three years, the nations of the world are supposed to be negotiating a successor treaty to the Kyoto accord (which, for the record, has never been approved by the United States -- the only industrial nation that has failed to do so). When December 2009 rolls around, heads of state are supposed to converge on Copenhagen to sign a treaty -- a treaty that would go into effect at the last plausible moment to heed the most basic and crucial of limits on atmospheric CO2.

If we did everything right, Hansen says, we could see carbon emissions start to fall fairly rapidly and the oceans begin to pull some of that CO2 out of the atmosphere. Before the century was out, we might even be on track back to 350. We might stop just short of some of those tipping points, like the Road Runner screeching to a halt at the very edge of the cliff.

More likely, though, we're the coyote -- because "doing everything right" means that political systems around the world would have to take enormous and painful steps right away. It means no more new coal-fired power plants anywhere, and plans to quickly close the ones already in operation. (Coal-fired power plants operating the way they're supposed to are, in global warming terms, as dangerous as nuclear plants melting down.) It means making car factories turn out efficient hybrids next year, just the way U.S. automakers made them turn out tanks in six months at the start of World War II. It means making trains an absolute priority and planes a taboo.

It means making every decision wisely because we have so little time and so little money, at least relative to the task at hand. And hardest of all, it means the rich countries of the world sharing resources and technology freely with the poorest ones so that they can develop dignified lives without burning their cheap coal.

It's possible. The United States launched a Marshall Plan once, and could do it again, this time in relation to carbon. But at a time when the president has, once more, urged drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it seems unlikely. At a time when the alluring phrase "gas tax holiday" -- which would actually encourage more driving and more energy consumption -- has danced into our vocabulary, it's hard to see. And if it's hard to imagine sacrifice here, imagine China, where people produce a quarter as much carbon apiece as Americans do.

Still, as long as it's not impossible, we've got a duty to try to push those post-Kyoto negotiations in the direction of reality. In fact, it's about the most obvious duty humans have ever faced.

After all, those talks are our last chance; you just can't do this one lightbulb at a time.

We do have one thing going for us -- the Web -- which at least allows you to imagine something like a grass-roots global effort. If the Internet was built for anything, it was built for sharing this number, for making people understand that "350" stands for a kind of safety, a kind of possibility, a kind of future.

Hansen's words were well-chosen: "a planet similar to that on which civilization developed." People will doubtless survive on a non-350 planet, but those who do will be so preoccupied, coping with the endless unintended consequences of an overheated planet, that civilization may not.

Civilization is what grows up in the margins of leisure and security provided by a workable relationship with the natural world. That margin won't exist, at least not for long, as long as we remain on the wrong side of 350. That's the limit we face.

This is a goal we desperately must meet. To do otherwise have the potential to doom our civilization if not our species. We have to make a choice of changing now and accepting a less energy intensive life on our terms or have control and choice torn away and replaced by collapse and chaos. Check out Project 350Recommend this Post

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Garage sale blogging

The season is upon us!
Unleash the hounds! find those bargains,

For years I just ignored this Saturday ritual of routing through other peoples junk as a waste of time but about three years ago I started going to the ones on my street just to be nosey. I could not justify driving around wasting gas just to hit a large part 40-50 sales that might take place in Newmarket/Aurora on any given weekend but I now plot my morning chores and hit any sales between me and my end goal.

Today was not my best by day, that was the first summer I started scrounging and I only scored 1 item, a $60 Kelly camping kettle for .50 cents. It was something I always wanted in LeeValley Catalogue but could not justify it.

The vast majority of time I come home with nothing or maybe just a few books for the kids but today was one of those days where 40 minutes and 5 close sales brought me a reasonable haul for just a few dollars.

$2 for 2 pair of brand new oven mitts - can't have too many of those

$1 two new but really lame ass warm and fuzzy type books for the kids to give to their grannies- and they'll love it

Free, one ugly strand of brown beads the oldest wanted to buy for his mother.

$2 large unopened Scooby Doo Puzzle- 3 ft long

$4 for 4 Steve Jackson Games, never opened retail $25 each - good power free entertainment for the long emergency- or possible $1 Christmas gifts,

$1 for a full case of small mason jars- we might need to can our neighbours after the shit hits the fan and everything goes Mad Max.

Everyone got something all for $10, Happy days.Recommend this Post

Friday, May 9, 2008

Plague train ?

One death and as many as 10 other people sick from a mystery flu like illness has stranded 280 passangers and crew on a VIA train in scenic Foleyet, Northern Ontario. It's currently believed the sick all got on in Jasper but since there is no clue as to the the cause of the illness, the train has been quarantined.

The 10 sick have been taken to Timmins hospital while the remaining crew and passengers remain on the train.

Scary shit!Recommend this Post

Pass the Taser please and give me one of those little rolled sandwiches

For months Canada has been abuzz over the issue of Taser safety and whether our police forces (supposed trained professionals) should even carry the devices making this story that much more surreal.

Women have gotten together for years to have Tupperware parties, makeup parties, candle, cook ware and even lingerie parities but the new trend in shopping party is one any sane man would avoid crashing, The Taser Party, WTF?

See here

Toy lovers stop drooling, unlike some U.S. states we are not allowed to buy oneRecommend this Post

Thursday, May 8, 2008


A little vid showing a nearly free heat supplement for your home. I have been looking at and lusting at these units for a couple of years but have yet to see any Government or independant review of this or other similar products.

What do you think?, it apparently costs about $2500 + instalation

Recommend this Post

Monday, May 5, 2008

Collapse of civilization, crisis and opportunity

This article from the UK Guardian shows that while the fear of civilization collapsing is growing, the survivalist movement is maturing beyond it's U.S. stereotypical militia image to a more international mainstream viewpoint including an opportunity to make future communities better.

Natural born survivors
Rising oil prices, global food shortages and the economic crisis are proof for many survivalists that society is on the brink of meltdown. But are their predictions all gloom and doom - or a chance to create new communities?

Harriet Green reports

For three years, my husband has talked about taking to the hills. About buying a smallholding on Exmoor where, with our four-year-old daughter, we can safely survive the coming storm - famine, pestilence and a total breakdown of society. I would wait for his lectures to finish, then return to my own interests. I had no time for the end of civilisation. As an editor on a glossy magazine until a few months ago, I was too busy. There was always a new Anya Hindmarch bag to buy, or a George Clooney premiere to attend.

But recently, I've wavered. Much of what he has been predicting has come true: global economic meltdown, looming environmental disaster, a sharp rise in oil and food prices that has already led to the rationing of rice in the US, and riots in dozens of countries worldwide.

This week, the details got scarier. The UN warned of a global food crisis, like a "silent tsunami", while Opec predicts that oil, which broke through $100 (£50) a barrel for the first time a few weeks ago, may soon top $200.

In the course of an idle conversation at work last week, a colleague casually revealed that he keeps a supply of tinned food in his bedroom "just in case". He has done this, apparently, ever since the July 7 bombings in 2005 and the fear of global pandemics such as Sars and bird flu.

And he's not alone. On the internet, you'll find numerous would-be survivalists discussing strategies: where to find a hideout in the UK, what goods to stock up on, and the merits of carrying a 48-hour survival kit. Some are even wondering how to get round the UK's relatively strict laws on the possession of weapons.

If not stockpiling food, many others are growing their own, with Jamie Oliver urging us to turn our gardens over to food production: sales of vegetable seeds are up 60% on last spring. Others still are moving towards taking their homes "off-grid", with rainwater harvesting and solar electricity, and withdrawing their money from pensions to invest in precious metals and other time-honoured securities.

I've started to worry. Is my family prepared for the worst? I'm reasonably nimble at the computer keyboard, and a whiz with the hairdryer, but otherwise pretty useless. I've barely made or mended anything in my life. Thankfully my husband is three years ahead of me, and - with help from the many self-sufficiency manuals he's collected - has evolved (or regressed) into a creature from the past: he's got an allotment, has turned our garden into some kind of nursery for innumerable apple trees grown from pips (farewell, ornamental rose) and recently started knitting. He even has plans for a composting loo, in the event that water supplies fail.

This kind of survivalism is not entirely new. In the 70s, with the threat of nuclear war in the air, government leaflets suggested we stock up on food and drink to last 14 days, and advised how to build our own fallout rooms. Some of my cousins left the UK for a nuke-free life in Australia.

Then there was the oil crisis, with associated blackouts and abbreviated working weeks. In 1975, the BBC reflected the forced move towards self-sufficiency and survivalism in two landmarks series: on a lighter note, Tom and Barbara dug up their back garden in the Good Life while, more apocalyptically, the drama series Survivors imagined that 90% of the world's population had been wiped out by a deadly bacterium in just a few days. The series followed a few disparate survivors as they struggled to form ad-hoc communities, relearning ancient skills in order to survive. The BBC recently announced that it is remaking Survivors to air this autumn. I can't help thinking it's horribly timely.

Survivalists have always seemed quintessentially American; scary, bear-like loners in commando jackets, loaded with ammunition. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, was a survivalist, as were many of the scary characters in Michael Moore's anti-gun film, Bowling for Columbine, including one, with bulging eyes, who kept a loaded firearm under his pillow. But today survivalists include the likes of Barton M Biggs, former chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley, who warns in his new book, Wealth War and Wisdom, that we should accept the possibility of a breakdown of the civilised infrastructure.

"Your safe haven must be self-sufficient," he advises, "and capable of growing some kind of food, should be well stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down."

Aside from climate change, what underpins all this gloom is a belief that we have nearly reached, or already passed, peak oil - the point at which global demand for oil permanently outstrips dwindling supplies, causing prices to shoot up. And not just the price of oil, but the price of virtually everything else too, because our lives depend on ever-increasing amounts of cheap energy and synthetic petroleum byproducts.

Dr Vernon Coleman is a writer and broadcaster who has placed full-page advertisements in national newspapers to promote his new book, Oil Apocalypse. "This isn't a script for a horror movie," the terrifying text declares. "The lorry that collects your rubbish won't be running. Streetlights won't burn. Hospitals will have to close . . . There won't be any more television programmes. You won't be able to charge your mobile telephone. Within a generation, five out of six people on the planet will be dead. I'll repeat, five out of six people on the planet will be dead."

Blimey. How long have we got? Well, at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil in Cork last year, the former US energy secretary, Dr James Schlesinger, said that oil industry executives privately conceded that the world faces an "imminent" oil production peak. And last week it emerged that output in Russia - the world's second-biggest supplier after Saudi Arabia - has peaked already. The Saudis may have peaked, too, but they don't allow outsiders to audit them, so we won't know until it is too late. Brazil announced recently a massive new oilfield, but within a week its own government had urged caution, warning that the claims were premature.

"We've got to start preparing now," says Coleman. "The Saudis historically have always increased oil when there is a need, or if the Americans ask them to. This time they haven't done so. Suddenly they have stopped increasing. All the evidence is there: we've reached peak oil."

Like many others, Coleman suggests that the recent move towards biofuels would not have happened unless conventional oil supplies had become scarce - and that it has been a disaster. "How stupid can you be? If you use land to grow crops that enable Americans to drive 4x4s, of course you're going to reduce the amount of food that people can eat."

After a long period of steadily increasing globalisation, Coleman foresees a future in which everything will shrink back to the local. "You must prepare yourself for a different world. A world in which the rich ride horses, the middle classes use bicycles and the poor walk. If you are planning for the long-term - and in this scenario, five years is long-term - don't buy a house that relies on you having petrol for your car. You want a house in a town with a small garden where you can grow vegetables, and you want to be relatively close to railways, hospitals, shops, and libraries. The government shutting down local post offices is an enormously stupid thing to do." Coleman believes that many big companies will collapse, taking their pension plans with them, and governments will not be able to step in. He's switched his own investments to gold and silver.

Another prominent survivalist is Paul Thompson, a graphic designer living in Reading who also happens to be a modern-day prophet of doom. His website, Wolf at the Door, offers a brilliantly argued lecture on peak oil for the beginner and attracts vast numbers of visitors. In person, however, Thompson is low key. "I'm still pretty cautious. People find the idea that society might fall apart nonsense. I wouldn't bring it up in front of just anyone."

On his website, he takes reasonable account of conflicting arguments about how peak oil and climate change will play out, but overall he remains gloomy. "I'm 50 this year. I've had a good run," he says. "I want to enjoy the next five or 10 years." With that in mind, he's leaving Britain for the Czech Republic, where he will teach English and put into practice the self-sufficiency theory he's absorbed from books.

"I'm pretty depressed about Britain. I think we won't cope well. We are overpopulated, we have poor transport links. In the Czech Republic they still have trams. Eastern Europe is better prepared. They were kept back for so many years, they haven't become so urbanised. It'll be easier to slip back to a more rural lifestyle. We've got to get back to little villages and towns, growing our own food, putting in place micro-generation. You won't be able to rely on the centralised state any more.

"I've got no house, no immediate family. I have tried to make things more flexible in the past few years. I've taken money out of stocks and shares, stopped paying into a personal pension, and put all my money into bank accounts where it's accessible tomorrow if I need it. I've got total flexibility."

Has he put together any kind of emergency kit? "It's probably a good idea, but the problem is you don't know what you need. You can have petrol in your garage, food, candles and water. But you don't know for sure what you're going to be facing."

One of the most gloomy websites that you will ever read is Lifeaftertheoilcrash.org. Set up by an American, Matthew Savinar, it presents the bleakest possible outlook. A lawyer by background, Savinar litters his website with ads for freeze-dried food. There's even a picture of Savinar himself, crouching beside boxes of the stuff in his kitchen. But when asked if the Guardian could reproduce that photo, Savinar declined: "I don't need the marauding hordes descending on me here as my supplies are quite limited."

It is presumably this fear that recently led a British member of the international survivalist community to ask for advice on Survivalblog.com (which attracts 82,000 visitors a week). Noting that the British government has banned samurai swords, he wondered what other weapons might be kept handy. American correspondents replied that he should get out of England soon, while the US and New Zealand were still letting in foreigners.

Having no samurai swords at our house, we have little chance of fighting off the hungry masses when they tear lettuces from our window boxes and scale the fence of our allotment. And the truth is that probably few places in Britain are much safer - not even in the most remote parts of the countryside. Which is why we have put our hopes in a saner band of survivalists, who believe the answer is to work together.

The "transition town" movement was started by an Englishman, Rob Hopkins, after a stint working as a teacher in Kinsale, Ireland. After learning about peak oil, Hopkins and his traumatised students spent several months trying to imagine what Kinsale would be like without oil, some years in the future - then worked backwards to create an "energy descent" plan that, on completion, was unanimously endorsed by the local authorities.

Returning to the UK, Hopkins started something similar in Totnes, Devon, which became the first official transition town. There are now more than 35 of these grassroots initiatives up and running, not only in towns but also cities, villages and entire islands - and more than 500 communities, worldwide, are taking steps to join the Transition Network. Even Ambridge, on The Archers, is weighing it up.

Hopkins recently published a manual, The Transition Handbook, a startlingly cheerful book that gives some idea as to how transition initiatives work - from the very early stages, in which groups raise awareness through film screenings and talks, to the later development of local food networks and even the launch of local currencies.

The movement uses 12 steps, rather like Alcoholics Anonymous, to wean us off our dangerous addiction to oil. This includes honouring elders, Hopkins says. "They have the knowledge of how things were done in the past" - when our lives depended so much less on the black stuff. "We have been doing work with people who remember the 30s and 40s, people who say it would have been insane to eat apples from New Zealand. Back then, all the food came from near the town, but we don't have that resilience any more. In the lorry strike of 2001, we had only three days' worth of food in Totnes."

The key to effecting a smooth transition is rebuilding resilience and self-sufficiency at every scale - from the household to the wider community - all at once. To Hopkins and others, Cuba offers a great example of effective community-based survivalism at the national level. Many transition towns have been launched with screenings of The Power of Community, a short documentary showing what happened to Cuba after the breakdown of the Soviet Union led to oil supplies drying up, and the US embargo stopped many other crucial imports.

Faced with potential starvation or capitulation to the US, the Cubans gradually turned from heavy reliance on carbon-intensive agriculture: all kinds of urban spaces were cultivated, from window boxes to wasteland, and oxen were put back into use as there was no fuel to run tractors. The transition took several years, and for a while Cubans had to forgo the equivalent of a meal a day, but eventually even people in cities were producing half their annual fruit and vegetable needs.

It's films like this that explain why Hopkins remains fundamentally upbeat, and rejects the gloomiest prognoses. "If we didn't do anything," he agrees, "there are all sorts of grim scenarios. But I like to think of those as like Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Future - just one possible scenario."

Thus, when the price of oil rises, Hopkins cheers. "It's like a racehorse owner cheering his horse. The things I want to see happen only happen in times of high oil prices. In the 70s, there was the most incredible flowering of creativity. Solar power, permaculture - they all started in the 70s. Then cheap oil came back, and everything went out of the window. High oil prices will stimulate creativity all over again: the knock-on of rising food prices will make it more cost-effective to grow food here; the higher cost of petrol in your car will make you ask if it's worth making the journey." The bonus is that, as we burn fewer fossil fuels, emissions will be reduced and climate change might be slowed.

Peak oil can, Hopkins accepts, confirm the widespread belief that people are inherently selfish. But the "head for the hills" response, he says, is more typically North American than British. "I wrote a piece on my website, transitionculture.org, called 'Why the survivalists have got it wrong'. That elicited more comments than any previous post. Some came from survivalist websites, and included such gems as 'Which is better, a gun or a club? The answer: You can use a gun as a club but you can't use a club as a gun.'"

Hopkins does possess survival skills, and he thinks they're important. "Bushcraft training is very useful. It's very empowering, learning to eat the things that are around you." But there are other things we need to learn too. Indeed, a key part of the transition-town process is what he calls the "great reskilling". "We no longer have many of the basic skills our grandparents took for granted. One of the most useful things a transition initiative can do is to make training widely available in a range of these skills."

What skills does he have in mind? Bicycle maintenance? Home energy efficiency? Basic food growing? "You need to look at the skills people used to have that might still be appropriate, as well as looking at the skills people have now. Speaking to older people in the area around Totnes, it turns out that, for example, they all knew how to darn their socks. I know very few people my age who know how to do that, and it is a skill that, once we get beyond the throwaway society, we may well need again. Hence the sock-darning workshop we are running."

Sock darning, eh? It's not as glamorous as those George Clooney screenings, and it lacks the superficial appeal of a hoard of rice, or gold coins. But I'm pretty sure my husband hasn't tried it yet, and in the spirit of amiably competitive self-sufficiency that I'm confident will soon become mainstream, I have decided that sock-darning may well be the survival skill for me.
Recommend this Post

Thursday, May 1, 2008

When is a Lesbian not a Lesbian

Just kinda funny from BBC online.

Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term "lesbian".

The islanders say that if they are successful they may then start to fight the word lesbian internationally.

The issue boils down to who has the right to call themselves Lesbians.

Is it gay women, or the 100,000 people living on Greece's third biggest island - plus another 250,000 expatriates who originate from Lesbos?

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world.

He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants.

Injunction sought

In court papers, the plaintiffs allege that the Greek government is so embarrassed by the term Lesbian that it has been forced to rename the island after its capital, Mytilini.

An early court date has now been set for judges to decide whether to grant an injunction against the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece and to order it to change its name.
A spokeswoman for the group has described the case as a groundless violation of freedom of expression, and has pledged to fight it.

The term lesbian originated from the poet Sappho, who was a native of Lesbos.

Sappho expressed her love of other women in poetry written during the 7th Century BC.

But according to Mr Lambrou, new historical research has discovered that Sappho had a family, and committed suicide for the love of a man

So is a Gay Lesbian, a Double Lesbian?

.Recommend this Post

Rice Cartel -Coming to a famine near you

In a new twist to shrinking food supplies and national hoarding 5 Asian countries lead by Thailand and including Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos are considering forming a rice cartel.

These countries represent a a large portion of the rice export market and such a cartel could ensure prices stay high for a long time, in other words they've got the market by the short hairs and don't want to let go.

To be fair, none of these countries are rich and I can see why they would use this opportunity to better their own existence, but it's not a good sign for worlds poorRecommend this Post