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Empires, bureaucracies and religion arise from war : Nature News & Comment

25 Sep

War drove the formation of complex social institutions such as religions and bureaucracies, a study suggests. The institutions would have helped to maintain stability in large and ethnically diverse early societies. The study authors, who tested their theories in simulations and compared the results with historical data, found that empires arise in response to the pressure of warfare between small states.

via Empires, bureaucracies and religion arise from war : Nature News & Comment.

Dear Ron and Dennis: For the sake of the planet and your great-grandkids, kiss and make up! Please!

14 Sep

Charlie first wrote this in the Spring of 2012. A year plus later it makes even more sense for liberals and libertarians to make common cause in stopping wars, celebrating self-determination of peoples, and saving the speciation from ongoing destruction and our own.

Dear Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich,

I urge you to put your respective strengths together on a firm foundation built by back-to-basics Austrian and Buddhist economics. A casual reading of G. Bateson, E. F. Schumacher, John Ruskin, anyone who has thought long and hard about the profound evil embodied in “central banking,” war preparations and “Fed manipulations” everywhere, will give you the tools and bricks you need to build a Reform Party and/or an Americans Elect TEAM based on emergent truths and the oldest traditions.

At the Truth & Traditions website you will find arguments, positions, reports, a Declaration of Interdependence, some of what you will need to create a balanced platform and a beyond-bi-partisan Sunshine Cabinet whose members and many surrogates can campaign with you this summer and fall.

The key to this Sunshine Cabinet is the creation of a Peace Department (Kucinich in charge?) and an Ecology Department (Bill McKibben or Andrew Kimbrell in charge?), each department NEVER to exceed a size sustainable by a quarter of one percent of the current Defense Department budget. In truth, each department needs only a few dozen people to gather up the long-term thinking and best practices of diverse Great Transition communities, colleges, universities, institutes, limited and democratic governments around the world that work for the best interests of their peoples. These two very small and extremely cost-effective departments can shape and pass on as many proposals to Congress, Executive and Judicial branches as are needed. Continue reading

The Wrong Lesson From Detroit’s Bankruptcy – NYTimes.com

12 Aug

When I was growing up in Gary, Ind., nearly a quarter of American workers were employed in the manufacturing sector. There were plenty of jobs at the time that paid well enough for a single breadwinner, working one job, to fulfill the American dream for his family of four. He could earn a living on the sweat of his brow, afford to send his children to college and even see them rise to the professional class.

This is important, very important. It SHOULD NOT take 80 hours of work per week (a full-time job for each parent) to support a family. Families need more nurturing, and, frankly, most jobs destroy the soul.

via The Wrong Lesson From Detroit’s Bankruptcy – NYTimes.com.

I Want to Be a Mayor – NYTimes.com

30 Jul

Smaller is better.

In fact, if you want to be an optimist about America today, stand on your head. The country looks so much better from the bottom up — from its major metropolitan areas — than from the top down. Washington is tied in knots by Republican-led hyperpartisanship, lobbyists and budget constraints. Ditto most state legislatures. So the great laboratories and engines of our economy are now our cities. This is the conclusion of an important new book by the Brookings Institution scholars Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, entitled: “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.”

via I Want to Be a Mayor – NYTimes.com.

The Coolest Earth Houses around the World

9 May

An earth house also known as an earth berm or an earth sheltered home is an architectural style characterized by the use of natural terrain to help form the walls of a house. An earth house is usually set partially into the ground and covered with thin growth. Modern earth houses are built with concrete walls and insulation. Earth houses are some of the most energy efficient.

via The Coolest Earth Houses around the World.

The Real Spending Problem – NYTimes.com

19 Mar

Tax breaks favor the rich, and are functionally the equivalent of spending.

Each year, the government doles out tax breaks worth $1.1 trillion. That is more than the cost of Medicare and Medicaid combined. It is more than Social Security. It tops the defense budget, and it tops the budget for nondefense discretionary programs, which include most everything else.Tax breaks work like spending. Giving a deduction for certain activities, like homeownership or retirement savings, is the same as writing a government check to subsidize those activities. Functionally, they mimic entitlements. Like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, they are available, year in and year out, in full, to all who qualify. Yet in budget talks, Republicans ignore tax entitlements, which flow mostly to high-income taxpayers, while pushing to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

via The Real Spending Problem – NYTimes.com.

Right to a Lawyer Often Eludes the Poor – NYTimes.com

16 Mar

According to the World Justice Project, a nonprofit group promoting the rule of law that got its start through the American Bar Association, the United States ranks 66th out of 98 countries in access to and affordability of civil legal services.

“In most countries, equality before the law means equality between those of high and low income,” remarked Earl Johnson Jr., a retired justice of the California Court of Appeal. “In this country for some reason we are concerned more with individuals versus government.”

via Right to a Lawyer Often Eludes the Poor – NYTimes.com.

Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? – NYTimes.com

13 Mar

A group of scientists and energy analysts has laid out a path under which New York State could, in theory, eliminate its use of fossil fuels and nuclear power — including for transportation — by 2050. The graph above charts the contributions played by improved efficiency and adoption of renewable electricity sources as well as hydrogen fuel cells (with the hydrogen generated with renewable energy).

In particular, note this:

Rapid expansion of micro WWS [wind, water, sunlight] generation and associated decentralized infrastructure: rooftop solar, micro-wind, V2G, smart grids. These are mainly upgrades and additions to infrastructure, rather than replacement. And again, the correct evaluation basis is full social cost-benefit analysis over the entire physical lifetime, at near-zero discount rate.

via Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? – NYTimes.com.

Preventing an Arctic Cold War – NYTimes.com

13 Mar

Several countries, along with corporations like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, are preparing to exploit the [Arctic] region’s enormous oil and natural gas reserves. New shipping routes will compete with the Panama and Suez Canals. Vast fisheries are being opened to commercial harvesting, without regulation. Coastal areas that are home to indigenous communities are eroding into the sea. China and the European Union are among non-Arctic governments rushing to assert their interests in the region. Some states have increased military personnel and equipment there.

The most fundamental challenge for the Arctic states is to promote cooperation and prevent conflict. Both are essential, but a forum for achieving those goals does not yet exist.

In 1996, eight countries — the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark (which manages the foreign affairs and defense of Greenland) — and groups representing indigenous peoples established the Arctic Council to chart the region’s future. So far, this high-level forum has identified sustainable development and environmental protection as “common Arctic issues.” But another crucial concern — maintaining the peace — was shelved in the talks that led to the council’s creation. The fear then, as now, was that peace implied demilitarization. It doesn’t.

What’s wrong with demilitarization? I think it’s a great idea. We need more of it.

via Preventing an Arctic Cold War – NYTimes.com.

The REAL Source of Cavities and Gum Disease | Global Research

2 Mar

As NPR reports:

Prehistoric humans didn’t have toothbrushes. They didn’t have floss or toothpaste, and they certainly didn’t have Listerine. Yet somehow, their mouths were a lot healthier than ours are today.

“Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”

And thousands of years later, we’re still waging, and often losing, our war against oral disease.

Our changing diets are largely to blame.

via The REAL Source of Cavities and Gum Disease | Global Research.