Motoring Becomes Electric, Redux

We tend to think of electric cars as futuristic but for our great-great grandparents, they were a thing. Who knew so many of the private automobiles sold up until the 1920s were electric-powered or that they and their styles ranged so far and wide? They were easier to start and maintain than cars propelled by internal combustion engines and had no gears to shift through, noise to suffer through, or smoke to choke through. Motor Magazine’s 218-page catalog of all cars marketed in the US in 1907 featured something like 800 models, including 75 electric vehicles (EVs) from dozens of manufacturers offering buggies for under $1000 to limousines at $4000 or more.[1] Pretty expensive for back then, but gas and steam cars cost a lot too until after 1910 and the Ford Model T. But before that…

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Where the Wild Things Once Were

Life is already too short to waste on speed.
~Edward Abbey

So, what does footloose communing with nature mean for you?

Harper’s Magazine published this bucolic scene of camping in New York’s  Adirondacks by up-and-coming artist Winslow Homer in 1874.  It’s one of many illustrations he turned out in competition with Currier & Ives in the mid-to-late 19th century for magazines and newspapers, most depicting Americans comporting themselves out-of-doors in cities, towns, villages, and beyond, in an age unmarred by automobiles, aircraft, telephones, and digitalia.

But even by then, the accelerating pace of progress had decimated the vast Adirondack region in its voracious demand for lumber, paper, and charcoal. In the mid-1880s, after much environmentalist agitation and corporate opposition, New York’s legislature designated the area as a forest preserve. Ten years hence, after the preserve’s stewards were exposed as corrupt, the state constitution was amended to protect the 6.3M-acre region “forever.” The amendment was all of two sentences, but it did the trick:

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Coming Down with Contactitis

It’s a drag, but can be cured

Every website needs a way for visitors to send a message to its proprietors. Some sites provide an email address, but typically they have a form on a page that tends to be called Contact. That’s what I did when I set up a website for my publishing imprint, Perfidy Press. Having put together several sites already, I should have known better than to set up a contact page that wasn’t protected against robots, but gave it no thought. Naively, I presumed that only people who cared about my content would bother to contact me. That seems to have been the case for the first six months it was online, when one or two responses a week got dumped into my inbox, but in the last two months it’s been more like one or two a day, and they keep getting more bizarre.

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Guest Post: Bernie and the Jets

This post by Jeffrey St Clair, Editor of CounterPunch and author of books on politics and the environment comes from late 2015, when it looked as though Bernie Sanders might win the Democratic nomination. Jeffrey has a way with words, and does not mince any in this takedown of the socialist candidate from the Green Mountain State.

And now, as the silly season for the 2020 vote ramps up, we have 20 or so Democratic candidates, surely with more to come. Trump, however, has but one, ex-Massachusetts Guv’ner Bill Weld, a Republican who in 2016 ran in the Veep slot with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. He’s gonna be pretty lonely.

Speaking of lost causes, though, Bernie’s back and has been the lead contender until… Continue reading “Guest Post: Bernie and the Jets”

Undoing Dystopia

Douglas Rushkoff Wants Us to Rewind

Buy Team Human from an indie bookstore

Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff (W.W. Norton, 2019, 256 p. hardbound), ISBN 987-0-393-65169-0, $23.95. Also available in eBook and audiobook formats.

The entities called computers were originally human beings, people like the accounts clerk Bob Cratchit in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. In the mid-20th century, computers were (mostly) women who worked calculators and slide rules, tasked with tabulating data and solving numerical problems. Nowadays, says Douglas Rushkoff, computers run us as extensions of applications that abuse us for fun and profit. Rushkoff has had it with the soul-sucking “innovation economy”; to retrieve the human agency and dignity that technocracy has usurped, he proposes not a revolution but a renaissance of pre-industrial, even pre-enlightenment, societal values. Rushkoff emerged as an early member of the digerati, but has since been a longstanding critic of those who control digital media and manipulate its users, not to mention capitalism itself. Now a professor of media studies (CUNY Queens), public intellectual, and podcast host, he’s quietly assembling an army of change agents. Their mission is to “challenge the operating system that drives our society” by organizing the (better-educated) masses to throw off their (block) chains by imagining and building human-scale alternatives to giant financial institutions, public corporations, and their enablers. Given how overarching and well-wired global capitalism is, that’s a tall order, but Rushkoff asserts that the battle can be won if we stick together. Continue reading “Undoing Dystopia”

Book Marketing Tips for Radicals

What a debut author can expect

Let’s say you have had your fill of the New World Order and instead of taking up arms you decide to write a book. The book is your first, a novel about political strife from the perspective of left-wing radicals who decide to take matters into their own hands. Your radicals encompass conflicting left-wing ideologies and disagree on which political system is best. But they wholeheartedly agree that the current one must go and decide to take direct action that will inspire revolution. You rub it in by making your main protagonist a Muslim jihadi. Continue reading “Book Marketing Tips for Radicals”

The Daily (or whenever) Eruption


Archive

Full Snack Disclosure Tuesday 10/6/2020

We all have our guilty pleasures. Drugs and drink aside, we secretly enjoy snacks and sweets that we’re told aren’t good for us. Currently mine is an ur-corn-chip, bags of which I’ve long enjoyed but until recently have eschewed. In my dotage, though, I’ve come to my senses: Popcorn, potato chips, and pork rinds are fine, but for me, nothing hits the spot like a fistful or two of Frito-Lay’s Fritos, those little crispy and salty strips of stone-ground goodness.

In the supermarket today, when I decided to replenish my supply, I had choices of BBQ, jalepeno, lime & chile (sic), and more than 20 other varieties bursting with flavor. I chose Original, as I always do, that boasts 160 calories per serving, 13% fat but only 7% of it saturated, 5% of dietary fiber, and only 7% of sodium. The label says ingredients are corn, corn oil, and salt. What’s not to like, save for but a scant 2g of protein?

(Should prefer your chips be made of potatoes, know that nutrition facts for Frito-Lay’s potato chips are almost identical, but somehow they feel a lot greasier.)

But I boycott those other dozen flavors. Lord knows what they put into them, and I am betting most of the extra ingredients are not commonly thought of as food. They also carry more fat, sodium and calories. Call me a purist, but I prefer the real, original indulgence.

Are they non-GMO? I don’t know, and at my age don’t really care what happens to my x-chromosones. You may have to think twice, but never, ever go for snack foods with more than five ingredients unless you know what they are and you’re cool wit that.

Avaaz Me Hearties! Monday 9/27/2020

I know, I know, it’s been a while (like eight months) since this page last erupted. I won’t bore you with excuses, but hope the pandemic has been kind to you and yours. Thanks for hanging in there.

As a veteran petition-signer, letter-writer, and gadfly anti-establishment commentator I’ve  been beseeched by more progressive causes, candidates, initiatives, think tanks, and grass-roots campaigns than I can shake a stick at. All of them, naturally, ask for support or I wouldn’t have heard from them. Almost all have a specific mission and focus, but one in particular that I support tackles a broad range of pressing issues across the globe, from toxic pollution and other environmental threats to the plight of refugees and indigenous peoples to racial and economic inequities. Continue reading “The Daily (or whenever) Eruption”

Guest Post: How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding a Global Information War and Shaping the Media Landscape

 

Through his purchase of influence over the daily flow of information to American media consumers, a dizzying array of connections to the national security state, and a media empire that shields him from critical scrutiny, Pierre Omidyar has become one of the world’s most politically sophisticated data monarchs.


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Talking Trash

Last Year, my town switched vendors to boost garbage collection to new heights of automation. Within a month, its new contractor had distributed two massive two-wheeled receptacles to every household: a black one for non-recyclables, capacity 64 gallons, and a bigger blue-and-green one—96 gallons, large enough to stuff a couple of non-dismembered bodies into — for recyclables. The town instructed residents to wheel out their bins and line them up at the curb on pickup day, front facing the street, with lids closed. As you can see, we dutifully obey, each creating his or her no-parking zone. Continue reading “Talking Trash”