All posts by mrchumpy

Chicken Fortress, Hay Igloo

These days it’s fashionable to throw around WINTER IS COMING, as Game of Thrones lumbers bloodily forward and its enthusiasts meme it out on to every ironic doom scenario under the sun. But here in New England, that feeling is very real, each and every year around this time. Sarah and make our list, as the house and grounds need to be prepared before the first snowstorm flash freezes everything in to place. Gaps must be filled, insulation rammed, and the whole house must shimmer in a fresh layer of caulk that forever entombs untold numbers of insects within the walls.

Of course, that’s all for the humans. For the chickens (our darling girls Shirley, Shirley, Red, and The Other One) winter means irritable molting and retiring from the open field to an enclosed run.  This will be especially loathsome to Shirley #1, who has recently taken to escaping the fence to follow us around the yard like a pet.

shirley Continue reading Chicken Fortress, Hay Igloo

Universal Goods

I’m sitting in the middle of a field, alone but for a Ford F150 hitched to a cart holding 200 neatly stacked bales of hay. Rolf had finally rolled his ancient tractor out of earshot down the hill and the field fell silent.

For most of the afternoon, the sounds of the field had been overwhelmed by the grunting of that tractor, the irregular clanking of the baling machine, and the squeaking of the laden hay cart I sat atop. But now the wind’s rustle returned, and crows argued at the treeline beyond the rock wall. The hum of insects.

In that moment, with grimy forehead and muscles sore from the repeated impact of airborne hay bales, it hit me just how different my life had become. I came to help with haying as a favor to a friend of mine on the hill. That commitment was stealing time from my construction of a DIY solar dehydrator to help us process the neverending apples falling off our trees. Earlier I set up a crude roadside table from which to sell those apples, five for $1.

I mean, whose life is this?

It was all enough to jolt me a little bit, to realize that things really are changing. Wars are escalating. Weather is killing people. And in what seems like the blink of an eye my cubicle-inhabiting city kid existence has been transformed into a symphony of rural life.

That’s significant, because if I want to effect any change of my own in this world, it has to be with that life. I have to remind myself that no one gives a shit about what I have to say on Greece, #BlackLivesMatter, or all the rest. What people give a shit about is the kids, the chickens, and if I’m lucky, what’s growing in the backyard. It’s those things that matter, those things of universal good in my life that I need to amplify. And that amplification only happens when I roll out of my rut and start documenting this new life I’ve started.

The Hero With A Billion Faces

The Hero With A Billion Faces

Two years ago, I quit a good job for a strange reason: climate change.

Concerned that we are leaving a ruined, hostile planet for future generations, I began writing about the climate and hosting dinners with friends and family to talk about what climate change means for everyday people. And while this article goes out to the world (thanks, internet!), its main target is still those same friends and family, who I care deeply about and want to be ready for what’s coming.

Read Full Essay

I like how they call me “Consumer”

 

DoNotReply@fcc.gov
<OpenInternet@fcc.gov> 11:16PM (11 hours ago)
to me

 

Dear Consumer,

Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.

I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.

Tom Wheeler
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission

——-  Original Message  ——-
From:      erickrasnauskas@gmail.com
Subject:   restore net neutrality

Net neutrality needs to be enshrined and upheld, please do so.  Attempts to remove it are driven by nothing more than short-sighted greed and will foster inequality and impoverishment the world over.

Thank in advance for your staunch support of net neutrality,

-Eric Krasnauskas

One Year Anniversary

It’s been one year since I started this site, and without a doubt it’s changed me and my approach to the world. I went from someone who wasn’t much of a reader to gulping down books in twos and threes. I didn’t really have much direction in life, and now I’ve found purpose and a radically different worldview. I witnessed the strange comedy of pregnancy and extended my sense of self to include my two beautiful newborns. It’s been quite a year, one that’s made me feel rich and fulfilled in ways I’ve never been before.

Best anniversary gift ever!
Best anniversary gift ever!

Continue reading One Year Anniversary

“Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

 

More good stuff from Gavin over at Zen Pencils. Though things may seem chaotic and divided right now, humanity is slowly developing this kind of global consciousness, and the internet has a lot to do with that. Now it’s just a race against time…will we realize our interconnectedness and act together in self-defense before our systemic problems overtake us?

2012-04-04-edgar-mitchell

 

The rise of telepathic rats

Gee Brain, whadda ya wanna
do tonight?

Same thing we do every night, Pinky…try to take over the world!

In a move that will excite science fiction enthusiasts and send sufferers of musophobia screaming for the hills, researchers at Duke University have taken the first steps toward bringing brain-to-brain communication into reality by electronically connecting rats’ brains.

I, for one, welcome our new rodent overlords.

Here’s what happened: two rats had their brains wired up with electrodes. One of them was shown a signal to push a particular lever to receive a reward. Then, the brain waves from this rat were transmitted to the second rat in a separate cage, and even without the original signal the second rat immediately knew the correct lever to push to get the reward. The “receiver” rat got this test right a monstrous 85% of the time, and it didn’t matter if it was in the same lab or thousands of miles away! For more of the specific details, I recommend reading the article in Popular Mechanics.

The implications of this are mind-blowing, and the stuff of much exploration by sci-fi writers like Arthur C. Clarke and others over the years. It’s little wonder, since humans have understood for some time the electrical similarities between brains and computers…so why not introduce computers to help amplify and transmit brain signals? In Clarke’s book Childhood’s End, a generation of telepathic children think and act as one all-knowing organism. If that concept isn’t strange enough for you, imagine these scenarios:

  • Memories are recorded and sold as consumer products, like in the movie Strange Days
  • Humanity becomes universally empathic because we’re constantly seeing the world from other people’s perspectives
  • Police officers interrogate criminals from inside their own minds
  • Instant learning, a la The Matrix

Continue reading The rise of telepathic rats

Why no climate talks?

I wanted to talk for just a second about why there haven’t been any climate talks posted in the last few months. After all, I’ve had the time, and I’ve mostly had the opportunity (though a few rejections did bum me out).

Really what I’ve been lacking is certainty of purpose, because the script for the talk has been in a state of flux. I wrote the original script about a year ago, but in the last couple of months it’s morphed to be less about what climate change is and more about what it means. When this transition is complete the talk is going to be a lot more personal and as a result (I hope) a lot more impactful.

emotionThe talk is also getting a lot more pessimistic, though not in terms of the power of science, compassion, and human ingenuity to pull us out of this mess. The pessimism stems from recent climate disasters and economic turmoil — and manifests in presenting things getting much worse much sooner than previously predicted. “Climate Talk 2.0” is hardly even about the climate at all anymore, it’s more about economic collapse and understanding exponential growth. It’s about fear for the future, and love for my family.

And when I say that there haven’t been any climate talks for a while, that’s not entirely true…I’ve been giving them here or there, I just haven’t been filming them. As things get more personal, more about the here and now, it’s taking me some time to adjust to the idea of sharing those personal moments with the world. But we’ll get there. I’ll have another climate talk (recorded back in April) up next week, and “Climate Talk 2.0” videos will follow soon after. Thanks for sticking with me.

 

The economy isn’t coming back

Presently Americans wait with bated breath, watching sales numbers and unemployment statistics, grasping for signs that an economic recovery is underway. We search for signals that indicate we’re growing, that there will be a job for everyone who wants one, and that the United States will resume the prosperity and standing in the world it once had.

We wait in vain.

Sometimes it takes a cartoon character to show the absurdity of our global economic system
(click to play video)

The economy isn’t coming back. On the contrary, it’s a patched-together mess on its way to the crapper. Though the Obama administration might crow about a tepid recovery, even today’s insufficient economy is itself a lie, propped up by governments printing money to buy their own bonds and simulate growth. The Dow ascends to ever more lofty heights, and yet few believe it’s tied to improving conditions for regular people. China, the economic engine of the world, is now slowing precipitously, and experiencing serious market declines and confidence problems. Europe is an economic mess, and when the EU eventually implodes (it really is a when and not an if), it will send shocks through the rest of our globalized world.

Continue reading The economy isn’t coming back