Author Archive | drokhole

The Fiefdom Will Soon Be Complete: Wall Street Buying Up Farmland

PIC: LOC (PD)

PIC: LOC (PD)

Not merely satisfied with purchasing our foreclosed homes en masse and charging us to rent them back (thanks to a crisis they created), Wall Street has set their sights on America’s fertile soils. Sing it with me! This land is their land, this land is their land…

Via Tom Philpott at Mother Jones:

In a couple of posts last fall, I showed that corporations don’t do much actual farming in the United States. True, agrichemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta mint fortunes by selling seeds and chemicals to farmers, and grain processors like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill reap billions from buying crops cheap and turning them into pricey stuff like livestock feed, sweetener, cooking oil, and ethanol. But the great bulk of US farms—enterprises that generally have razor-thin profit margins—are run by independent operators.

That may be on the verge of changing. A recent report by the Oakland Institute documents a fledgling, little-studied trend: Corporations are starting to buy up US farmland, especially in areas dominated by industrial-scale agriculture, like Iowa and California’s Central Valley.

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Reductionist Neurophilosopher Dr. Patricia Churchland Awkwardly Ends Skeptiko Interview After Views Are Challenged

Pic: US Govt. (PD)

Pic: US Govt. (PD)

Was host Alex Tsakiris being too aggressive and disrespectful towards the good doctor? Or was Dr. Patricia Churchland – Oxford educated, MacArthur Fellowship awarded, highly regarded academic and author of recent you-are-your-brain book Touching a Nerve – simply ill-prepared for her long-standing beliefs, rooted in scientific materialism, to be contested?

LISTEN HERE: DIRECT DOWNLOAD

(Interview and transcript also available over at Skeptiko)

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RSA Looks to Elevate the Discussion on Spirituality

PIc: Indrajit Chatterjee (CC)

PIc: Indrajit Chatterjee (CC)

“The capacious term ‘spirituality’ lacks clarity because it is not so much a unitary concept as a signpost for a range of touchstones; our search for meaning, our sense of the sacred, the value of compassion, the experience of transcendence, the hunger for transformation.

There is little doubt that spirituality can be interesting, but what needs to be made clearer by those who take that for granted is why it is also important. To be a fertile idea for those with terrestrial power or for those who seek it, we need a way of speaking of the spiritual that is intellectually robust and politically relevant.” - Jonathan Rowson

Between explaining it away as an artifact of the brain and militant rejection of it as leftover cultural/scientific ignorance, spirituality has long been anathema to academic circles (and many corners of the YAY SCIENCE! internet community).  If it’s discussed at all, it’s from the proposition of wishful fairy stories, peppered with a healthy amount of contempt and ridicule.Read the rest

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Manly P. Hall Reveals the Stories in Our Stars (or, Astrotheology: On the Astronomical Origins of Myths)

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 8.50.31 AMMost people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of “astrology” these days. Mainly because the first things that spring to mind are spirituality-for-entertainment crystal gazers and a list of general-to-the-point-of-meaningless life forecasts next to the Sunday comics (and now, apparently, a divination system to compete with/outperform other scam artists on Wall Street). Manly P Hall isn’t interested in the horoscope-ified version either, but in examining how it was the ancients studied the stars and their locations, the significance of their movements, and mapping them in constellations. Also, how various myths are mapped to celestial (including planetary and solar) motions.

Hall distinguishes it here as “astro-theology,” and, being a more sophisticated take on the subject, I figured it would be appreciated by disinfonauts (and simply deserves a wider audience, as is).  Archetypes, deep symbolism, degrees of consciousness, the Solar Hero Myth (and its many iterations), how these thoughts still effect and pervade our lives – Hall covers a great deal.… Read the rest

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David Foster Wallace Offers a Lesson in Mindfulness to Graduating Class: ‘This Is Water’

“I don’t know who discovered water, but it definitely wasn’t a fish.” – Terence McKenna

Its been well said that familiarity breeds indifference.  It can also breed, or rather lead, to a life lived on auto-pilot.  Enter a helpful reality check from David Foster Wallace:

On a related note, wish I could take credit for the following insight, but it comes from London Real’s Brian Rose after smoking DMT for the first time:

“When we’re in our own consciousness; we don’t know we’re in it – because we’re swimming around in this water all the time.  And when we perturb it, then we get to see the water that we’re in is actually water.  We get to see that what we’re in, what we think is just normal life, is this consciousness.  And it’s nice to perturb it every now and then because it gives you an appreciation of your own consciousness, it allows you to observe yourself outside of your normal day.

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Anti-advertising is the New Advertising

A great essay over at Aeon Magazine reveals how the establishment wants you to know they have gone total anti-establishment and hey, buy our product, we’re on your side!

In 1796, the English physician Edward Jenner injected an eight-year-old boy in Gloucestershire with cowpox. Reasoning that absorbing a small amount of the virus would protect the child from a full-strength attack of smallpox in the future, Jenner’s bold experiment founded the practice of vaccination. Two hundred years later, the marketing industry has cottoned on to Jenner’s insight: a little bit of a disease can be a very useful thing.

If you’re one of the more than 7 million people who have watched the global fast-food chain Chipotle’s latest advertisement, you’ll have experienced this sleight of hand for yourself. The animated short film — accompanied by a smartphone game — depicts a haunting parody of corporate agribusiness: cartoon chickens inflated by robotic antibiotic arms, scarecrow workers displaced by ruthless automata.

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Send in the Cows (or, How to Reverse Desertification, Build Soils, and Sequester Carbon)

In light of last week’s post highlighting our death march towards Peak Soil, it seems appropriate to look at how we can go about building (i.e. adding organic matter to) the damn thing.  Various permacultural methods exist that help build soil and heal the land, but the organic apple of this article’s eye is a technique known as “managed grazing.”  In the words of Joel Salatin, “Nothing builds soil like intensively managed grazing on grasslands.”

As noted, left to its own devices, it takes nature roughly 500 years to build just 2 centimeters (cm) of living soil.  When done properly, grazing – or, more specifically, management-intensive grazing – can more than double that rate in 50 years time.  Meanwhile, Salatin’s farm has been building one inch of topsoil annually (along with increasing their organic matter from 1.5 percent to 8 percent of soil content over the past 50 years).

“The critical thing to understand is that grazing can be done in a way that builds soil and heals the land, or it can be done in a way that destroys the land.

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Useful Work versus Useless Toil

sisyphus130 years.  130 years (roughly), and it’s the same old shit.  William Morris’ lucid commentary on meaningful work is just as relevant today (almost moreso) as it was when he wrote it in 1884.  It’s a long-read, and the beginning bits don’t do it justice, but here’s how the roller-coaster climbs:

Useful work versus useless toil – William Morris

The above title may strike some of my readers as strange. It is assumed by most people nowadays that all work is useful, and by most well-to-do people that all work is desirable. Most people, well-to-do or not, believe that, even when a man is doing work which appears to be useless, he is earning his livelihood by it – he is “employed,” as the phrase goes; and most of those who are well-to-do cheer on the happy worker with congratulations and praises, if he is only “industrious” enough and deprives himself of all pleasure and holidays in the sacred cause of labour.

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Scientists Get a TASTE of the Transcendent

its-full-of-stars“The potential for a mystical experience is the natural birthright of all human beings.” Stanislav Grof

“Man may intellectually argue himself in and out of anything. But he can only defend it as long as he has not experienced the fact that he is wrong. Once he has come to the interior realization that a situation is not right, he cannot rest until he does something about it.”Manly P. Hall

“Its persuasiveness seems to hinge on an experience of this interconnection…”Richard M. Doyle

 

What has been generally termed a “mystical experience” is something that has been reported throughout time and across disparate cultures.  At its core, it’s a direct, non-verbal experience wherein an individual feels an expansion of the self to union with, to borrow a phrase from Alan Watts, “the whole works.”  Themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness are commonly relayed, along with the ultimate ineffability of it all.… Read the rest

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