Archive for July, 2009

Geezers Rock!!

Had a great time last night at Citizens Bank Park enjoying Elton John and Billy Joel in concert. Wish you’d been there!


p.s. Got fantastic seats yesterday for an E & K October birthday special concert: Springsteen at the Spectrum!

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Happy Birthday, JD…wherever you are.

Jacques Derrida would have been 79 years old today.


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Off to Phoenix for Metanexus Conference


Check here for details.

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If a Brother Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things…

CHAPTER LXVIII of the Rule of St. Benedict

If a Brother Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

If, perchance, any difficult or impossible tasks be enjoined on a brother, let him nevertheless receive the order of him who commandeth with all meekness and obedience. If, however, he see that the gravity of the task is altogether beyond his strength, let him quietly and seasonably submit the reasons for his inability to his Superior, without pride, protest, or dissent. If, however, after his explanation the Superior still insisteth on his command, let the younger be convinced that so it is good for him; and let him obey from love, relying on the help of God.


Today is July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict.

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Here’s one of those things….

One of those things that makes you scratch your head: is giving away “free” stickers promoting clean energy for America. It is a very attractive sticker, designed by the same person who did the Obama “hope” poster.  The website notes:  “Stickers are 4″ by 5.125” (about the size of a postcard) and will take 5-7 weeks to arrive.”  If you would like more than one sticker, you will have to make a small donation; but the first one is “free.”

There is a nifty gadget on the site that gives you an up-to-the-minute count of how many stickers have been given away “free.”

As I write this (1:50 pm on 7/11), 203,678 stickers have been given away free.

In the time it took me to type these letters, the number has grown to 203,707.  At the current clip, I’d say about 25 stickers are being given away every minute for “free.”

So, the head-scratching: What is the carbon footprint of this promotion?  The 203,707 “free” stickers will be made out of 29,000 square feet of some kind of paper/plastic material, will be produced on machines (running on coal-generated electricity, most likely at this point in time), and will use some sorts of interesting chemicals for the inks and stickum.  The 203,707 “free” stickers will have, backing paper you have to peel off,  I’m guessing.  That’s 29,000 square feet of waste backing paper that will end up in the landfill.  Each one of these “free” stickers will be mailed–i.e., sent on trucks and planes (mostly not using green technology)–to their recipients.  The recipients will stick them, I’m guessing, on their automobiles (even the best of which burn fossil fuel).  Or on their laptop cases, which use (probably) coal-generated electricity as well.

I’m just asking….

But at least we’ll be able to prove we are green.  We have a sticker.  And it was free!

2:13 pm…204,685…Current rate now looks like 44 stickers per minute…..


"Free" green sticker. Note (and I swear I am not making this up): the filename for this graphic is "pu_sticker." Perhaps they meant "stinker"...?

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Food, Inc.


We saw Food, Inc. yesterday at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (one of our local treasures!).  Director Robert Kenner made this documentary not only informative but also beautiful…even though what it has to report is ugly and mean.  If you have read Eric Schlosser‘s Fast Food Nation or Michael Pollan‘s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you already know about the issues raised in this film, and both writers play a big role in the documentary.  Another important voice (of reason) is that of Joel Salatin, whose Polyface Farms happened to be featured last night on ABC news as being the supplier of “happy hogs” for the Chipotle restaurant chain.  Gary Hirshberg, Chairman and “CE-Yo” of Stoneyfield Farms made a very persuasive case in the film in favor of working with Wal-Mart (hardly the run-of-the-mill activist’s favorite company) on the distribution of non-GMO/organic foods.  He believes that Wal-Mart’s decision not to use rBST intheir milk may signal the demise of this growth hormone (due to the chain’s massive buying power).

But these are all the good guys.

There are plenty of bad guys, the baddest of whom is Monsanto, which, according to the film, bullies farmers into using their “patented” seeds (but they’ve offered rebuttal).  But did you know that in some states you are NOT ALLOWED TO SAY BAD THINGS about Monsanto and other food producers?  By LAW!  Did you know that?  Remember when Oprah bad-mouthed hamburger because she didn’t think it was safe to eat?  She was sued by the beef industry for the loss of business that her comments allegedly caused.  She won the case, in the end, but it cost money. Monsanto does that to people who don’t like their seeds.   (See here, here, and here for examples.)  So in this great land of ours, you can no longer say out loud that you don’t like something or that you don’t trust it.  I understand that spreading malicious misinformation about someone or some business can be ruinous to that person or business.  But on this reasoning, there’d be no restaurant, movie, or film critics.  There’d be no campaign debates (my pointing out the weaknesses of a candidate may cause him to lose an election, political power, and money).  And what is really troubling about this blatant assault on free speech is that the information being put forth about the agribusiness is frequently true.  Could the tobacco companies sue anti-smoking campaigners because they said that smoking will kill you?

Monsanto–the people who brought you Agent Orange (check this out)–is also lobbying your elected representatives to make sure they are not forced to label their products as being GM.  They are afraid we’ll all be too stupid about genetically modified foods and therefore “needlessly alarmed” by the label.  So we get either the nanny state or the nanny corporations.  Terrific.   Everybody’s looking out for us.  Readers of this blog should know that I don’t suffer junk science gladly.  Have GM foods been proven bad for us?  Do we really know what causes climate change?  My point is simply that in a democratic society we have the right to the facts, to the theories, to the worries, to the counterclaims, etc., and I object to government or corporate sponsored efforts to withhold information.

And then, in the film, there is the really bad stuff:  death, despair, despoliation, destruction.  I wouldn’t want to ruin that for you by going into detail.

You should check out Food, Inc.  Like Michael Moore’s Sicko, it’ll get you thinking about how way wrong things are.  And you can read up on this stuff.  This handy list should help.

Here’s another of Peter Maurin’s Easy Essays to get you started:

Regard For The Soil
1. Andrew Nelson Lytle says:
The escape from industrialism
is not in socialism
or in sovietism.
2. The answer lies
in a return to a society
where agriculture is practised
by most of the people.
3. It is in fact impossible
for any culture
to be sound and healthy
without a proper regard
for the soil,
no matter
how many urban dwellers
think that their food
comes from groceries
and delicatessens
or their milk from tin cans.
4. This ignorance
does not release them
from a final dependence
upon the farm.

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Peter Maurin’s “Easy Essays”

Some wisdom from Peter Maurin’s Easy Essays:

The Duty of Hospitality

1. People who are in need
and are not afraid to beg
give to people not in need
the occasion to do good
for goodness’sake.
2. Modern society calls the beggar
bum and panhandler
and gives him the bum’s rush.
But the Greeks used to say
that people in need
are the ambassadors of the gods.
3. Although you may be called
bums and panhandlers
you are in fact
the Ambassadors of God.
4. As God’s Ambassadors
you should be given food,
clothing and shelter
by those who are able to give it.
5. Mahometan teachers tell us
that God commands hospitality,
and hospitality is still practiced
in Mahometan countries.
6. But the duty of hospitality
is neither taught nor practiced
in Christian countries.

Feeding the Poor at a Sacrifice

1. In the first centuries
of Christianity
the hungry were fed
at a personal sacrifice,
the naked were clothed
at a personal sacrifice,
the homeless were sheltered
at personal sacrifice.
2. And because the poor
were fed, clothed and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice,
the pagans used to say
about the Christians
“See how they love each other.”
3. In our own day
the poor are no longer
fed, clothed, sheltered
at a personal sacrifice,
but at the expense
of the taxpayers.
4. And because the poor
are no longer
fed, clothed and sheltered
the pagans say about the Christians
“See how they pass the buck.”

What Makes Man Human

1. To give and not to take
that is what makes man human.
2. To serve and not to rule
that is what makes man human.
3. To help and not to crush
that is what makes man human.
4. To nourish and not to devour
that is what makes man human.
5. And if need be
to die and not to live
that is what makes man human.
6. Ideals and not deals
that is what makes man human.
7. Creed and not greed
that is what makes man human.

Better Or Better Off

1. The world would be better off,
if people tried
to become better.
2. And people would
become better
if they stopped trying
to be better off.
3. For when everybody tries
to become better off,
nobody is better off.
4. But when everybody tries
to become better,
everybody is better off.
5. Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried
to be richer.
6. And nobody would be poor
if everybody tried
to be the poorest.
7. And everybody would be
what he ought to be
if everybody tried to be
what he wants
the other fellow to be.

You can read more of Peter Maurin’s Easy Essays here.

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