Archive for September, 2009

Stiletto Stoners: The Female Face of Pot Smokers?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

We are clearly deep in the throes of a national conversation that posits whether or not marijuana is safer than alcohol, and whether or not the former should be legalized. But this time, fashion magazine Marie Claire wonders: what is the changing face of a pot smoker?

Turns out…it’s women.

Not that women haven’t been smoking pot for decades. Not that all women wear stilettos or even read Marie Claire. But these are the women deemed “successful” and powerful in society as of late–these Stiletto Stoners. But power to them, who better to make the case?

According to an interview on The Today Show with Mat Lauer, magazine editor-in-chief Joana Coles, a successful 30-something book editor (who remains anonymous), and a NYU Psychiatrist, it seems weed is completely misunderstood. As a matter of fact, this year, eight million women smoked pot. But these smokers aren’t your stereotypical Judd Apatow-slackers, or someone who’s “sleeping on a bench” as Coles puts it. These are educated, career-minded professional women who just “want a way to unwind” and have found that marijuana “has less impact on them when they go to work the next morning.”  She adds that these women “didn’t want to drink” and that marijuana is “cheaper” than alcohol. And since these are hard times, women see weed as their glass of wine, their bubble bath. Their (somewhat) guilty pleasure, in other words. But should they feel guilty?

Verdict says: No. Not guilty. Legit.


LISTEN: Permaculture on Your Balcony: Writer’s Voice Interviews Toby Hemenway

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

The word “permaculture,” a portmanteau (yes, I just learned this word) of “permanent” and “agriculture,” basically means gardening in cooperation with nature; looking at how natural systems work and creating your own self-sustaining closed-loop system.

In this interview with Writer’s Voice, permaculture guru Toby Hemenway revisits his classic book Gaia’s Garden, now in a revised second edition, and gives his own organic gardening tips.

“…and these were ladybug larvae that were there in response to the aphids, and they were just gobbling up the aphids by the thousands. It was incredible. And just by waiting a few days and realizing, oh, nature’s already spotted the aphid problem: it’s a food source for these ladybug larvae, and there they are—within a few days, the aphid problem was completely gone.”

Listen Now

Watada Discharged

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who was forced by the Army into a three-year legal battle for refusing deployment to Iraq, this week won his fight.

Recognizing that the Iraq War was an illegal war no matter what the rah-rah traditional media said, Watada followed his conscience. He’s now been vindicated by the court, if not by the military, who I doubt will be issuing an apology any time soon.

First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned military officer to refuse deployment to Iraq because he believed it was an illegal war, has won his three-year legal battle with the Army.

With little fanfare the Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., accepted the resignation of the 1996 Kalani High School graduate, and he will be discharged the first week in October.

Rather than seek a second court-martial against the artillery officer, the Army will grant Watada a discharge under “other than honorable conditions.”

Joseph J. Piek, Fort Lewis spokesman, said, “This is an administrative discharge, and the characterization of Lt. Watada’s discharge is not releasable under the privacy act.”

Read the whole article here.


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Michael Moore Talks Capitalism on Countdown

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

There’s no doubt that Michael Moore’s last film, an excellent documentary called Sicko, had a lot to do with health care reform moving to the forefront of the political debate this past year or so. We may even get a few steps closer to actual reform soon, provided the Democrats in Congress remember they work for the American people and not the corporate lobbyists and donors. If Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story does for corporations what his last one did for the health care crisis, we may even have a shot of changing corporations’ protected “person” status. Riki Ott’s proposed 28th Amendment stripping corporations of “personhood” could actually become law (although the makeup of the conservative SCOTUS would likely have to tilt the other way first).

In this clip, Moore talks about Wall Street and the greed culture in terms that would make Les Leopold (The Looting of America) proud. They brought down the economy through clever gambling schemes that turned investors’ and homeowners’ money into their own personal low-risk high-gain casino. They frightened Congress into passing a massive bailout with no oversight or new regulations. Once again, the rich got richer, the too-big-to-fail got bigger, and the working schmoe got the shaft.

Watch the whole 9-minute segment. It’s worth your time.


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Gooseberry Pie

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Have you ever tasted a gooseberry?

These unique, tangy fruits are related to currants, but have a flavor all their own. Let Joan Dye Gussow–radical homemaker, confessional homesteader–take you on a hopeful and arresting journey into the suburban frontier…

The following is an excerpt from This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow:

Since man (or woman) does not live by vegetables alone, one of our goals over the years was to produce our own fruit. Thus it was that when we finally sold the great Victorian house that held thirty-six years of my life, the only things I regretted leaving were the vegetable garden with its deeply mellow soil and some of the perennial fruitbearers that had put their roots down around the yard. The new soil could and would be improved, but if we wanted a crop of fruit in our first year in the new house, the perennials would need to be moved in early spring, almost a year before we intended to transplant ourselves. We wanted to make a fresh start with raspberries—the canes tend to get infected with virus after a time—and the grapes were immovable. So, we learned, was our hardy kiwi. The morning we went out to dig it up and traced one sturdy root to a spot twenty feet north of the trunk, we decided to leave it where it was. As it turned out, the younger of our two apricot trees, a highbush cranberry, and two small hybrid blueberries that never produced much anyway got moved in spring, just before we began what we assumed was to be the renovation of our Oddfellows hall.

Two obstacles prevented a spring transplanting of the towering blueberry bushes that remained. First, it was not at all certain that these giants could be wrenched from the ground. Second, we didn’t want to lose a single year of the tremendous crop of fruit they reliablyproduced. To get any berries, we had to net the bushes and check the nets regularly for trapped blue jays and other fruit lovers, since ravenous birds had proved capable of penetrating the most formidable defenses. Modern science had given us bird-proof netting, but vigilance was also essential. When the berries began to ripen in June, we wouldn’t be living in Piermont; at this point, we didn’t even have planning board approval for renovation of the house there. Excluding birds from blueberries was no task for absentee owners.

So the big blueberry bushes stayed put through the summer of 1994—the summer we learned that the battered house we intended to renovate had to be razed. In July, we tore down the house. In August, we dug and poured the footing and laid out and poured the foundation. In September, we began to build, from scratch. By October, when the framing for the new house was just going up, we had committed to being out of the old house by January. Our lives had become sufficiently dominated by the combined tasks of general contracting the new house and accumulation-reduction at the old one that plants should have been the furthest thing from our minds.

Nevertheless, when the blueberries lost their leaves in late October, Alan managed to drag two of the largest and most fruitful of them to Piermont. The remainder stayed in Congers, as did twenty-odd gooseberry bushes that grew in the fertile but shady spot where our first vegetable garden had been. So when the sales contract was drawn up, we wrote into it a clause guaranteeing us the right to come back the following spring and remove a number of plants, including several gooseberry bushes.

Gooseberries have always had special meaning for me. When I was a child, our guests at every Christmas dinner were a family from my parents’ home state of Iowa, a mother with two unmarried daughters who had descended on Mom years earlier with an introduction from a remote cousin. The daughters were not much younger than my mother and, though both were childless, they were confident that they knew better than my mother how children ought to be raised. My sister and I were required to endure in silence their frequent critiques of our manners. What made the holiday dinner tolerable was that the mother of the family always arrived bearing German anise picture cookies and gooseberry pie.

Nothing I know of tastes anything like gooseberry pie. My first Christmas away from home, in 1950, with my whole family across the continent in California, I tried all over Manhattan to get fresh gooseberries. Finally, in the German section, I got two cans of gooseberries for a price which was, then, about 20 percent of a week’s salary. Well worth it. My recipe calls for fresh ones.

Gooseberry Pie

Preheat oven to 450° F.
Pick over and wash:

1 quart gooseberries, discarding soft ones and removing stems and tails.


3/4 cup sugar
41/2 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoons salt
Sprinkle mixture over berries, stirring to distribute.

Turn berries into:

8-inch pie crust, unbaked

Dot top with:

2 tablespoons butter

Roll pastry for top crust, and cut a design for steam vents. Brush edge of pastry with water. Lay pastry over pie. Press edge together; trim. Let rest 10 minutes, and flute the edge. Bake in a 450° oven for 15 minutes or until crust is delicately browned. Then reduce heat to 325° and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes, or until berries are tender.

Note that I give no instructions for pie crust. Do what you want. Whenever I threatened to make a pie, my sons ran out of the kitchen screaming, “Watch out! Mom’s making a pie crust!” It remains a trying experience.

As I copied down this recipe, I remembered why people don’t use gooseberries. You have to have a strong taste-memory for the end result to be willing to sit around stemming and tailing them. And because the best kind of gooseberries for pie are green and sour to bland, you can’t snack as you go, as you can while taking the little green caps off strawberries. The end product is worth the work, though, and you can always clean gooseberries while listening to All Things Considered on National Public Radio.

But back to the gooseberries in our house contract. The first months after Alan and I finally landed in Piermont were incredibly hectic; the house we had moved into was unfinished for months. The first night we slept there, only the bathroom shower had running water. Getting a drink in the middle of the night meant holding a glass to the shower head and turning on the faucet very, very carefully.

And in the garden, that spring was D-day. The year’s crops had to be planted or we wouldn’t eat. So we didn’t pull off the gooseberry transfer that spring as our contract specified. By the following spring, we were a year more organized. The new garden was productive beyond our wildest dreams, and we had picked the perfect spot for the gooseberries.

That’s when we got the call from the FBI.


Announcing The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

There are plenty of books out there on organic farming. (It’s true—just check out our bookstore!) But there aren’t a lot of books on the actual nuts-and-bolts business of organic farming. Author Richard Wiswall is changing that.

This Thursday, October 1, you can get your hands on what’s sure to become the new bible of the business of organic farming: The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit.

In this comprehensive business kit, Wiswall covers:

  • Step-by-step procedures to make your crop production more efficient
  • Advice on managing employees, farm operations, and office systems
  • Novel marketing strategies
  • What to do with your profits: business spending, investing, and planning for retirement

AND…A companion CD offers valuable business tools, including easy-to-use spreadsheets for projecting cash flow, a payroll calculator, comprehensive crop budgets for forty different crops, and tax planners.

Watch a short (4-minute) video introduction to the book:

Watch the 30-minute version:

You can pre-order your copy in our bookstore now.

Photo courtesy of Seven Days.

Did Apple Delay Chelsea Green’s iPhone App for Political Reasons?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

It’s just come to our attention that the Apple Store decided to reject an iPhone application called “iSinglePayer” because they deemed it too “politically charged.”

Recently, your humble Chelsea Green Publishing was caught in the iPhone App approval process rigamarole when we tried to launch the Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform app simultaneously with the release of the book. The application was delayed for two months with no explanation.

We may have found our explanation.

From Jerome Armstrong of MyDD:

Wow, Apple has thin skin:

Apple Imposes NDA For App Store Rejections

If you’re a developer and Apple rejects your iPhone application from its App Store, the company wants you to shut up and get over it.

Apple’s serious about it: The company has extended the iPhone non-disclosure agreement, which prohibits application developers from discussing programming tips, to include rejection letters as well. Some developers in the past have shared their rejection letters on the web, but now, according to MacRumors, rejection letters include a clause that reads, “THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE.”

I just went through about as terrible a process as you I could have imagined with the Apple iphone app store. It sucked, with their non-co-opoeration, multi-month delays, and inability to even update the situation for weeks at a time. So sue me.

WSG worked with Chelsea Green through a developer to bring Howard Dean’s book on healthcare reform to the iPhone app store. The app is not just a book, but also an action kit– the sort of ground-breaking thing that Howard Dean is so well known for letting his internet team run with innovating.

Unfortunately, Apple just squashed our roll-out plans. I have thought it was just plain incompetence of Apple that Howard Dean’s iphone app (the book and Action kit) was being delayed for more than two months (with no reason why given). I resisted the thought that it was some sort of political delay by Apple. Well, now I have to wonder, check this out:

Apple Denied Health Care App for Political Reasons

Apple rejected a free iPhone application that advocated a single-payer health system, calling the application “politically charged,” according to the app’s developer.

Red Daly, a 22 year-old computer science grad student at Stanford, submitted his iSinglePayer iPhone app for Apple’s approval on Aug. 21. A little more than a month later Apple rejected it on the grounds of its content, Daly told

This really makes me wonder what is going on with Apple and this sort of censorship.

Read the whole article here.


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Wooden Hill Farm Shares the Harvest

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Stefanie Zaitz left New York City for her family farm in Pennsylvania to try to continue her family’s two-century-old agricultural tradition. She decided to turn the farm into a certified-organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The CSA concept connects farmer to consumer by providing the farmer with money at the start of the growing season, when they need it most, providing the freshest possible food, and strengthening the local community.

Stefanie and her partners started with a single investor and a vegetable stand by the side of the road. Now, they’ve lined up at least ten investors for the next growing season: you could say they’re growing organically.

California Considers Legislation to Legalize Marijuana

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana. Since then, 12 more states have followed their lead. And society hasn’t collapsed.

Today, it’s clear that the War on Drugs is a massive failure and the tide of public opinion is turning. Now, California could be poised to become the first state to legalize, tax, and regulate the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for recreational use.

From BBC News:

In 1996, voters in California approved a referendum that made it legal for the first time in decades in the US for people to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes.

More than a dozen states have followed suit since and several others – the most recent of which is Massachusetts – have approved laws decriminalising the possession of small amounts of the drug.

Now, there are moves afoot in California to go further to fully legalise marijuana.

Evidence of the impact that the approval of medicinal marijuana has had on some areas of California is clear in Oakland.

Across the bay from San Francisco, it has come to be known as Oaksterdam, in a nod to the symbolic global capital of marijuana deregulation, Amsterdam.

The relaxed approach to marijuana use in this part of Oakland has led to the opening of several marijuana dispensaries.

They are establishments in this once deprived area of town which sell a broad array of cannabis related products, from food products such as brownies and cereal bars laced with cannabis to traditional marijuana for smoking.

Read the whole article here.

Photo courtesy RKT Vision.


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I Love My Socialist Kidney: Proof that a Public Option Works

Monday, September 28th, 2009

What happened to the Republican party?

In the 1970s, Richard Nixon wanted to pass some form of universal health care. Republicans voted to help pass an expansion of Medicare that essentially created a public option for certain life-endangering conditions.

Today, the Republican party wants to kill any and all health care reform just to score political points. It’s an indefensible shift that shows just how out of touch they’ve become.

Sept. 28, 2009 | The day after this country elected Barack Obama its 44th president, a doctor told me I’d inherited from my father a rare form of cystic kidney disease and that I was already in renal failure. Beyond the devastation I felt on hearing this news, and despite having health insurance, my greatest fear in those first, foggy days was one that haunts millions of Americans. I was more terrified of being dropped or denied treatment by my insurer over some minuscule technicality than I was of facing the disease. After four years of progressive activism, delivery of Obama’s campaign promise of universal healthcare suddenly became very personal and urgent rather than simply a political goal for me.

A few weeks into my ordeal, however, I learned that my diagnosis qualified me for a little-known existing “public option,” or government health insurance plan. The same program had saved my father’s life, but I was frankly surprised to learn it still existed despite numerous legislative changes through the decades. Today, almost a year after my diagnosis and amid the disheartening acrimony and willful misinformation pervading our healthcare debate, I can bear witness to what constitutes “socialized medicine” in the United States.

My family’s 36-year journey with end-stage renal disease — the only long-term, chronic disease classification for which the U.S. government provides insurance coverage, regardless of age or income — offers a telling case study into what once met Congress’ standard of an unequivocal, moral imperative to provide public-financed health insurance. My family history mirrors exactly the period from 1973 to 2009, during which this entitlement program has allowed access to life-saving dialysis and kidney transplants, treatments previously denied to all but a very privileged few.

The story of the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Program is illustrative of a government plan compelling private insurers to cover more Americans than they ever did when induced solely by market forces or their own good intentions. In today’s political parlance, as the president put it in his Sept. 9 address to a joint session of Congress, this translates to a public option that will “keep [private] insurance companies honest.” This history also presents a cautionary tale of how profit-driven forces chipped away at Medicare ESRD’s effectiveness, resulting in higher treatment costs and worse patient outcomes (compared with those of other industrial nations) for the 506,000 ESRD patients in the U.S. today.

Read the whole article here.


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