Archive for December, 2006

Taking the coal out of your Xmas stocking

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Bad children get coal in their stockings. Good children get Xboxes. Green children get carbon offsets. (Of course, 67% of the world isn’t Christian*, and so those children get bupkiss.)

Are those carbon offsets worth the post-consumer recycled tree-free paper they’re printed on? A new report, reported on at WorldChanging, tries to answer that question. Apparently it’s not easy to answer at all.

* Did you know that the third most common major “religion” is “secular/nonreligious/agnostic/atheist”? Wow! I’m a bit shocked myself.

Publishers Weekly: thumbs up for Food Not Lawns

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

PW generally tries to maintain a staid persona, and getting a strictly positive review from them is like trying to get Dick Cheney to smile at Senate hearings on nationalizing the petroleum industry. So Heather Flores must have done something very right in her new book.

FOOD NOT LAWNS: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community
H.C. Flores, forewaord by Toby Hemenway. Chelsea Green, $25 (334p) ISBN 9781933392073

For Flores, “practicing ecological living is a deeply subversive act,” and while most gardening books do not include warnings that COINTELPRO “can and will…rape you,” it is only because most gardening books do not encourage “guerilla gardening” after describing the basics of garden planning and pruning. More advanced topics range from integrating barnyard birds into a garden to getting more mileage out of the home water cycle to the benefits of a balanced insect population. The illustrations are amusing as well as helpful, and though the index is not extensive, the book, overall, is a much better read than the average gardening book, both in terms of range and entertainment value. (Dec.)

Hooray for Diane Wilson, winner of the Blue Planet Award!

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Our heroine Diane Wilson is getting just a smidge of the recognition she deserves, this time from the Foundation for Ethics & Economics in Germany. She is the recipient of this year’s Blue Planet Award, given in recognition of “her twenty-year campaign against the pollution of the Texas Gulf Coast by the chemical industry and her outstanding contribution to protecting the environment.” Diane, you rock!

Econ-Atrocity: Can enlightened capitalism save health care?

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Learn more at the Econ-Atrocity blog.

What’s using power in your home?

Friday, December 1st, 2006

With thanks to Green Arch Design for the tip, Jamais Cascio writes at WorldChanging about a nifty gadget (the “Kill a Watt”) that lets you see exactly how much electricty any individual appliance is using. You can see what’s a total hog and might be worth upgrading. You can also discover your phantom loads–I’m very curious to see what my laptop computer draws when it is on vs. sleeping vs. hibernating vs. fully shut down. I’ve recently gotten into the habit of unplugging phantom draw items where I can easily access the plug (like the computer, and also the microwave which we don’t use that much at home). But some things are plugged-in in awkward places (like my stereo)–how much do I lose to phantom draw on that sucker? Anyway, you get the idea. If you’ve got a bit of nerd in you, this thing looks like it might be fun and useful, especially if you justify it by sharing it with friends, neighbors and coworkers. For example, and I won’t name names, but there are some people here at Chelsea Green — hard as it is to believe — who sometimes leave their computers on over night. It just kills me! Well, this gizmo might help drive the point home that they’ve got to get on the less-slacking bandwagon.

My favorite quote

Friday, December 1st, 2006

“We have changed the world, and we wonder why things won’t stay the same.”
- Les Lanyon

I think that quote pretty much sums up the contemprorary situation as well as any few words could hope to do. Much of humanity is drawn to the new that modern society has to offer: new foods, new styles, new technologies, new habits, new relationships. Meanwhile, it is extremely common to bemoan the loss of old comforts: old foods, old styles, old technologies, old habits, old relationships. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s the inevitable imperfection of being human in a human society. If this quote rings true for you, and if you are interested in economics, I recommend you check out The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi. You’ll also probably like a lot of Chelsea Green’s books as well (surprise, surprise). Full Moon Feast, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, straw bale house construction, organic gardening — all of these books are about topics and by people who are grappelling with the difficulties of combining the new and the old, and doing so in a way that does not involve layers of confusion and ignorance, but greater understanding and knowledge of both new and old and of the relationship between them. Or so it seems to me.

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