Recreational exercise

Jessie K. at Rurally Screwed had her say on Maria Kang’s promotional photo, showing Maria and her three children, asking why other mothers with young children aren’t also workout-shaped.

The controversy is that a year after the photo hit the internet, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth that accuse Kang, and the photo, of denigrating fat people. I commented at first, that while the Kang in the photo is nicely gym-shaped, she isn’t skinny, and doesn’t imply anything about fat people.

This photo, the entire “fitness” thing, including jogging, seems to be an expression of conspicuous consumption. A declaration that one is wealthy enough to make, or have, the resources to free up the 20 minutes per day, or hours per week, to achieve that kind of image with recreational exercise. This kind of achievement takes time to plan, to manage resources, and the flexibility to juggle their day to include recreational exercise. This is a boast that “I am rich enough to waste hours every week, just to show you how pretty/sexy I am with nothing useful to show for the time and money I spent for gear and clothes.”

Many people might be able to manage that kind of resource. But some may not have the luxury of the support system to discover what their needs are, the time and information to get started, and the money for gear to keep the effort healthy (running/walking shoes, time uninterrupted by family/work, laundry for limited workout gear, etc.).

Being fit for work is one thing, to improve our contribution to family and community. But time is an expensive resource, and many “fit” icons are mere recreational entertainment.

What about people that make time for exercise by shorting themselves of the seven hours minimum/nine hours recommended daily sleep for adults? That makes for a really fruitful use of time. Then there is the annoying research showing that exercise has nothing to do with weight loss, and artificial sweeteners accelerate fat accumulation. Time spent jogging isn’t time spent working with or reading to your family, if you are wealthy enough not to have work time master your entire day.

People that look that kind of size, but through hard work or deprivation, don’t usually look that buff, in expensive designer togs.

What should Transition do?

Rob at Transition Culture asks about important topics for 2013. I had a thought.

Social values.

Our industrialized school systems were instituted to produce factory workers — obedient, understand (read, write, math, social awareness) and follow instructions carefully, respond well to authority, punctual, and trained to work by the clock.

Then, after WWII, the government and big business became invested in scientists and engineers (and universities started receiving all the money, if they would just graduate more students). And elementary and secondary education systems began siphoning off all the “college” prospects, redirecting them from serving their community, to “bettering themselves”, “serving their nation”, or just “because a college education is important“.

Now, as the industrial age comes to a close, how is a resilient community going to take charge of their children’s education. The purpose? First, to assure that the values and experience that nurture and grow the community are indeed passed on to following generations, in such a way that that knowledge base remains reasonably intact despite the opposing needs of competing special interests.

Next, if we worry about local food security, how much more important must it be, for a sustainable answer, to assure a sustainable body of people growing up and investing in the needs of the community, first? How can any social structure survive, without assuring that progeny are educated and raised to serve the community first?

Or should Transition continue to contribute their children to national (special) interests?

Colorado high school dropouts

Billll’s Idle Mind ponders the dropout demographics of Colorado high schools, and appointing a math-challenged representative to head the state house committee on education.

I wonder, what was the charter when high schools were first proposed?

My understanding of the initial charter for compulsory education was to lay the foundation for a population informed enough to vote responsibly — reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies, geography, and how government works, through age 16 or the eighth grade.

If high school is meant for college preparation, I have a problem. College — especially law, business, engineering and sciences — divert people from returning to enrich and nurture their community, to the interests, enrichment, and security of nationa and special interests. So, if high school is intended to siphon (the best?) people from the community, then is a high graduation rate a failure to the state and to the community?

If high school is intended to nurture the community, then is it focused on what is needed in the community? If not, then perhaps those dropping out are seeing the nothingness of the emperor’s new clothes, are seeing that their attendance doesn’t benefit them or their community. When looking at dropout statistics, have we checked to look at how the community has communicated it’s needs to those students? How do horse shoer and diesel mechanic school dropout rates, across demographics, compare to the local high school?

Amongst the demographics of failures, there is another perspective that I think is important. Culture. The values and prejudices, celebrations, and rituals that an individual, family, home, or community lives by, I call “culture”. The Constitution forbids discrimination based on gender and race — cultural differences, though, aren’t intended to be protected beyond the scope of personal liberty. How do the demographics of the cultures of home and community compare to graduation rates?

How do graduation rates play out against various levels of engagement of adults in the household with the larger community? Degrees of family isolation from feelings of contributing to the community to being unwanted or hated by the community might just have an impact on young people, beginning to feel responsible for their choices, choosing to build whatever the heck high schools are building — or looking for an answer that is more in line with their home cultural and participatory orientation.

Then there are the issues of whether schools make choices based on what Federal money they can garner (personal advancement for grant writers/pr kudos for the district), what teacher unions demand, or what the community needs. Because while the “world gets smaller”, those that drop out live in smaller sections of the community. And that is *not* the focus of “modern education”.

Koch as supervillain

Tam at View From the Porch asks in Uh, yes, Mr. Luthor, I’m applying for the position of “supervillain”?, “Why is the supervillain trying to blow up the planet? What do the bad guys stand to gain from that?


I recall reading, back in my college days, a fascinating definition of “good” and “evil”. That was the alignment chart in an appendix to the 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons’ Player’s Manual.

Good — choose to act for the best interest of the (D&D) party, with the assumption that what is best for the party is better for one’s self. Evil — choose to act for the most apparent good for the self, assuming that if one’s self benefits the (D&D) party won’t be harmed much.

A definition of evil from science fiction is that evil cannot accept beauty or value in someone else’s possession, and would choose to destroy anything (coveted) that one cannot possess.

As for someone setting out to poison the atmosphere, that would fall under the evil of genocide, wanting to kill everyone (or maybe just the neighbor’s dog), and be justified under the “destroy it to deny it to someone else” rule, with complete disregard for likely consequences for one’s self. You see this kind of “immediate objective” thinking in those that rob banks, brutalize friends, family, and strangers, and commit other anti-social acts, so scaling it up to deliberate atmospheric destruction is mere, um, hyperbole.

Myself, I think the truth is that, yes, the climate is changing, as it always has. Thirty five years ago scientists of the day proclaimed that the 1950s were the “mildest decade on record” (this after the atmospheric disturbance and carbon consumption of WWII, a definite change from previous decades). It makes sense, to me, that the climate will keep getting “less mild” for several more centuries or millenia.

Making a statement doesn’t make it true. Stating that B. Hussein Obama won more electoral votes in an election with the most voter fraud in history, doesn’t mean that most voter voted for him. Stating that the climate is changing doesn’t mean that burning fossil fuels has anything significant to do with the change, unlike the destruction of old growth forests in Europe, the US east of the Mississippi, the Amazon rain forest, and Asia.

Stating that something makes sense does not make it so. Stating that the climate is changing (it is) doesn’t make anyone’s statement about why the climate is changing de facto truth. “Let’s spend another few hundreds (thousands?) of megawatts of energy to build another new, 3% more “efficient” car, instead of assuring the megawatts already spent to build the cars already on the road continue to function, well, for a few extra years” really should appear absurd to everyone.

The article might as well point out that Cash for Clunkers and other Government Motors programs are generating greenhouse gases merely to enrich labor unions and get B. Hussein Obama re-elected.

Stating that David H. Koch of Koch Industries made his money by polluting the climate is propaganda, slanted and twisted persuasive speech, (evilly) meant to destroy the reputation and prospects of someone that met his community’s needs, employed countless thousands of people, and enabled a *lot* of people to put food on their table.

I didn’t see that the article took any pains to establish whether there would have been more carbon, or less, emitted over the course of Mr. Koch’s career if he had instead become a plumber or college professor. And I still want to see the carbon footprint of money spent on government programs from defense spending to welfare and all the rest.

And, by the way, Koch enabled a lot of investors and wage earners, customers and community members, to breath the air of the climate that is changing for various and sundry reasons including the solar changes that are warming all the planets in the solar system.

Transition careers

Rob at Transition Culture is looking for a few good people. Or ideas for what they should be prepared to do, in 2030.

Here is what I think.

We are no longer protecting Labor Union jobs in factories. 18 as a working age is no longer the threat to livelihoods it once was.

State run and funded schools seem to be intended to divert children from local crafts and labors, and from continuing in family and community traditions and meeting family and community needs. If such funding were to end, or be rejected (as by home schooling, private schools, etc.), then instead of fueling today’s wealth-concentrating economies (which seem to be headed for the trash heap), we would again, as in the past, recognize that about the first eight years of schooling prepare the student in the basics — reading, writing, arithmetic, social order, pertinent (to someone!) local, national, and world history and geography. That is, eighth grade is intended to produce an informed voter, about the age of puberty. I recall reading that in the US colonies, the average age of marriage was 12-13 years.

Apprenticeships started from age 10-13, as I recall reading. Waiting for youngsters to be indoctrinated in someone else’s bought and paid for agenda, to start orienting them toward local needs and resources, seems wasteful.

Robert Heinlein, in “Have Space Suit Will Travel” (science fiction, 1950s, I think) found the hero’s father unmoved by the high school curriculum, and instituted an independent course of study on top of the regular school work. That is certainly doable today, and a pointed criticism of allowing the state to determine whether a student is prepared to serve himself/herself, their family and community.

Frankly, I can foresee that people suited to the elder list (posted, perhaps, humorously) to be quite relevant today. The opportunities for such employment may be lagging what communities need, but the needs for shepherds, for additional helping hands, do indeed exist. And I think the cottage with garden in lieu of the bulk of wages should be an aspect of the future to be hoped for.

As for future occupations — I think wheel wright comes to mind, and someone to make hand carts. In airports and some shopping malls, there are boutique businesses run from carts and from cart replicas. Whether selling fruits and vegetables, piece goods, knickknacks, tools, tool repairs, or the topless hot dog vendors that troubled Florida a couple of years ago, this level of small business will need the carts. Personal use of carts to move goods and belongings may well grow, as the personal auto becomes less common, and probably should be encouraged.

Shopping carts are expensive, and today’s carts won’t last forever. Besides, shopping carts are less useful off the pavement.

Wooden wheels, and steel rimmed wooden wheels, may be needed for lighter use in the future, if petroleum-based tires become less accessible.

In the short term, I think we need trainers. Trainers to get people started farming who don’t have the generations of wisdom and practice of the land that feeds (mostly) today’s world. Trainers to get people started gardening successfully, that may need more knowledge than which Monsanto product to use when. Trainers to help people learn to salvage and re-use materials, rather than burn tax dollars to fuel traditional wealth-gatherers by “recycling”.

We need home builders that build homes that consume less energy. And trainers to help people adjust to an energy-appropriate lifestyle.

A reoriented community school could both demonstrate and support such efforts.

Another science fiction author comes to mind, Leo Frankowski. The first three or four novels of his Conrad Stargard series, beginning with “Crosstime Engineer” deals a lot with appropriate engineering, and introducing productive small scale, community based crafts and industries.

Stanford find “Organic” label doesn’t add value. Huh.

The New York Times carries a story about Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.

Stanford University scientists have weighed in on the “maybe not” side of the debate after an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods.

They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli.

Wow. Getting the USDA to label stuff “organic” doesn’t mean the same thing as what "organic" should mean. The USDA label has been well-leavened by political forces, comments by chemical companies, and other commercial forces. USDA Organic might mean avoiding some commercial chemicals, but it is a commercial label for commercial practices.

And note that the scientists relied completely on published literature to make their findings. They did no research, didn’t define what practices were “organic” or not. But, they did get their work published so they get to keep their jobs (getting work published regularly is a requirement for university professors to keep their jobs).

My understanding is that actually raising food in an organic manner usually trades off quantity of production for quality of product. Which means there is more cost to producing an organic vegetable or cut of meat. The USDA Organic label just means that commercial growers can tack on an extra 10% price just because.

And the story that university scientists discovered that organic stuff isn’t more nutritious made the New York Times. Might as well tell me that changes in the climate conclusively prove that the world will end December 21, 2012. Or that, given all the planets in the solar system are warming, that climate change proves cutting down old-growth forest (Asia, Amazon Rain Forest) changes the climate.

Disney’s Botanicus Interacticus

Aside from the fake latin-like words, this looks like an interesting idea. has an article complete with nifty video demonstrating the simple device.

Of course, watching them generating music by touching the house plants spurs all kinds of thoughts.

Bourne would love it. Wire the shrubs out front of the house. Let the computer figure out if an intruder is the local dog, cat, mouse, bird — or goblin. Heck, wire the lawn (shades of Princess Diaries shouting, “Get off the lawn!”)

Hitch the shrub-watch to lights, sprinklers, and maybe a voice recognition system. Gives you five seconds after the lights come on to shout, “Honey, I’m home!” (or some other catchy phrase) to disable the goblin-detector before it escalates to the sprinklers. Or the twenty second delay before turning loose the crocodiles in the moat, or calling the security company, whatever.

Wire the front yard to tell if the neighbor’s pooch “does his business” on your yard. Or if rain falls. Or if the sprinklers aren’t sprinkling at the expected times, or shutting off when expected.

Heaven forbid we should wire the garden and yard so the computer can tell us we forgot to water the tomatoes and shrubs.

Permaculture aficionados can let the plants tell them what techniques “don’t work.”

And, of course, we can now let the wild wind create stirring rhapsodies and arpeggios of joy, and thundering, majestic sweeps of emotion (kinda like whale songs?) by wiring the dandelions and cypress.

Botanicus Interacticus. It’s not just for houseplants anymore.

Free association, checking at WalMart, and cat poop cookies.

So, there I was, checking (being cashier) at Wal-Mart in the garden center. This family comes through with a bag of kitty litter, a covered litter box and even an odor filter for the box. Being somewhat contrary, and not wanting to sound personal with someone that I don’t know, I commented, “You know, this is the wrong kind of litter pan for cat poop cookies.”

I had to explain the concept to the family (I was shocked this was an unfamiliar topic). Mom was grossed out, and I am not sure she ever really understood that you don’t use cat poop as an ingredient. Dad got it right away, and thought it sounded both fun and something neat to try. Last night I mentioned my surprise to an older couple checking out. They both thought it sounded like fun. My manager hadn’t heard of cat poop cookies. *sigh*

The recipe page has a cute photo. I think it is mis-done, but. . .
Picture of cat poop cookies, presented on Post Grape Nuts, in new and unused cat litter pan

Google, last time I checked, had scads of recipes for cat poop cookies. I found one cat poop cookie recipe on ( features an animal shelter directory, articles, fiction, pet memorials, discussion boards, shopping and more.)

I also tend to ask customers at my register how their Wal-Mart adventure went today.

Google, spying? Accused by the feds?

OK. has their panties in a twist about data collected by specially equipped “Street View” vehicles that Google fielded to collect imagery around towns, cities, and countryside. Well, they wanted to present good imagery for their Google Earth and other products.

What Google appears to have done is stick an antennae on the car, and record whatever they picked up. Unsecured computers and networks, full of data, emails, passwords? Yep.

It occurs to me that this is precisely what the feds have been doing for the last eleven years under the Patriot Act. Only the Feds have set out to collect on targeted individuals, keeping their data secret, and keeping it forever, just in case it can be used in the future.

Sounds exactly like what Google did. Only Google wasn’t targeting anyone. Just randomly sampling what was unsecured, and broadcasted across the landscape as radio signals.

I could make the case that Google, unlike the “secret no-fly list” Feds, were entitled to record and save for whatever purpose, anything they received as radio signals. It used to be called the “fair use” doctrine. This is what allowed millions of Dr. Demento fans to record the good doctor weekly, for years. And listen to radio programs, for that matter.

Now, Google picked up signals from private sources, not professional, licensed organizations regulated and taxed as broadcasting operations. But the FCC has made provisions for ad hoc transmissions (i.e., noise or unintended broadcasts) and micro-power broadcasting.

And I really don’t like the thought of the Feds keeping data they captured secretly, just in case they find a use, someday. Google is pretty low on my “evil” meter, for this one.

I wonder if Google has considered claiming the data collection was under contract to the Feds, as part of routine Patriot Act surveillance of random neighborhoods? How would the Feds prove their secret program that refuses efforts of anyone to verify they obey the law, did not in fact engage with Google to collect stuff?

Obama’s Energy depression

It occurs to me that the 1930s depression is called the “Great Depression”. Will what seems to be coming be called GDII (Great Depression II)?

I think it has started. Wal-Mart here in Ponca City is gearing up the garden center for the spring rush. And there are a few empty shelves, products that were projected but not available. Products that should be in stock, but aren’t here.

Play sand. The bags of natural sand used for sand boxes, mixing with potting soil, making a foundation for laying stepping stones and pavers, or for leveling under a planter or water tank. None. Or the companion Red, Blue, or Purple Crayola sands (at nearly double the price for a slightly smaller bag) — except the red ran out and hasn’t yet been replaced. In a month.

Potting soil? Some is plentiful. But there are a couple of gaps. A couple of gaps in mulches, too. Not many — but it didn’t happen that way last year.

The intermittent outages, I think, are starting to show up at Wal-Mart. The other day they were down to three boxes of Great Value Fudge Brownies. I bought two of them. Where will it end?

I respect the argument that modern wealth is generated initially by applying cheap energy to transform resources into expensive resources. With the rising cost of energy, due to rising oil prices and manipulations by B. Hussein Obama (President of the United States this year), I think the fundamental economic collapse currently under way might be called the “Energy Depression”.

The “leverage” multiplying the dollar values assigned to intangibles today that look somewhat similar, if less tangible, to the root causes of the 1929 stock market crash. All the government tactics and strategies that blew that crash into the Great Depression, and prolonged it a decade longer than necessary, are all very much alive and striving to repeat their historic achievements once again. In some ways, this time around the oncoming debacle could rightly be called the government’s Next Great Depression.

But this time around it is engineered. President Obama is aggressively demolishing the engines of wealth in America. He is undermining the production and value of oil and gas, while colluding with speculators to funnel “green energy” money to friends and allies. He is actively denigrating the US Government, both Congress and the US Supreme Court. This is an intentional disruption of democracy in America, and intended to wrest control away from the nation and into his and his cronies’ hands.

President Obama calls it a “Buffet Rule”, assuring that the wealthy pay high taxes. When Congress has determined, over the years, that certain investments and incomes are worth more to the nation than the tax revenue they would generate — President Obama calls Congress “Stupid” with a capital S, when he instead insists that “they have to pay their fair share”.

Who is next? Will President Obama decide that churches, other religious organization, the Red Cross, are “hoarding” tax dollars? What about corporations that oppose unfair labor practices (by labor unions)? Who would be willing to stand up and shout, “Hey, if the guy ain’t working, his wages shouldn’t make my car more expensive!” At least, no one does today about sweetheart labor deals that idle 4-10% of employees at full (union) pay.

Think of it this way. President Obama does *not* want the truck that brings bread, frozen food, potato chips, and shampoo to your grocery store, to Target or Wal-Mart — he doesn’t want them to be able to run every day.

What will you do, when you need a new laundry basket, and it has been a month since any store in town has had one available?

What will you do, when your grocer gets ice cream enough for a couple of days — once a month?

What will you do, when none of the stores in your town have shoes in your size, for a couple of months at a time?

What will you do, when the gas station doesn’t have enough gas for all customers, most of the time?

I foresee this all coming, the intermittent deflation interruptions made worse by increasingly erratic weather and increasingly erratic regulations and arrogant government.

This coming Energy Depression.

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