Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quick Update

I just saw that the World Health Organisation has raised the pandemic alert for swine flu to level six - that means its officially a pandeminc. I dont think the death toll from this pandemic will be alarming but the effect on the global economy almost certainly. The effect on international travel alone should give the economy another thumping at the time it can least afford it.

Welcome to the new reality, long term recession, increasing resource scarcity and global instability.

As for me I have been busy, I'm doing a bit of freelance work at the moment but have a huge amount of spare time. So every day I have been working away on practical projects. I'm brewing ciders and beer, I've have greatly improved my baking skills. I've made marmalad and the garden is finally getting into shape after a productive summer.

We set up a fire bath in our yard last week so after a long day working I can take a soak, stare at the sky and drink a bottle of home brew.

I may post more about what I'm up to in future.

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House to Get Organic Garden - WTF

So apparently the white house is going to be getting an organic garden. I'm normally pretty cynical when it comes to things like this for instance I think Obama will be the most hated president in US history. He will preside over period where it becomes clear to the world that the US empire is breaking apart. He will be the one that deploys troops onto the streets of US cities and like Lyndon B Johnson will be seen as betraying a generation of activists hopes.

That said I can' t see much wrong with the white house planting a garden, its a powerful symbolic statement which the world really needs.

From AP spotted on cryptogon

The White House is getting a new garden.First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to break ground Friday on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen.


She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project, including planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year.


Mrs. Obama spent time earlier this week at an exhibit on rooftop gardening.“We’re
going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers

.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Doomers

Over the past couple of years I have spent quite a lot of time on doomer websites learning a whole lexicon of new words. Abbreviations such as TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) and derogatory terms such as sheeple roll off my tongue with the best of them. But first I should explain how I happened to stumble across the doomer community.

Our way of life is completely unsustainable this seems so obvious to me that it barely warrants mentioning. Furthermore I believe that peak oil and climate change mean that we are facing a breakdown of the complex systems we rely upon much faster than most of us realise. So when I worked all this out I started studying organic farming and turning my parents place into a permaculture demonstration site. Next I started looking round for others who were into the same thing. The funny thing was that very few people seemed to be taking food growing seriously. For most people into organic gardening in the west it seems to simply be a hobby. I would go around to the home of a noted organic gardener or permaculturalist and I would see a small garden that would only produce a tiny amount of the food they required.

So after looking for people seriously into creating a different world I stumbled across the doomer and collapse websites. Here was a group of people that take growing food seriously. They also look at the wider picture and openly consider questions such as, if the power goes out how will I get water and how long will the sewerage system keep running. Whilst I don’t believe civilisation will collapse overnight and carry a Bug out Bag with me 24/7 packed with emergency essentials as some of them may I do share a similar outlook about significant disruptions to our society over the few decades.

Of course the doomer community and peak oil nuts such as myself have gotten a tremendous boost from recent geopolitical events. Oil going to $150 a barrel was considered nuts when people like me talked about it in 2005 yet by 2008 it was reality. Talk of tent cities and martial law might have sounded like conspiracy theory a couple of years ago but these sort of things are popping up in the news daily.

Aside from all the other reasons I find doomer sites entertaining and usually a more interesting read than most of the other blogs out there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bloody People

I was wandering round yesterday having quite a good day when I came across this gull with a hook and lure embedded in its beak. It was obviously in pain and constantly trying to dislodge it from its beak. I don't think I need to remind readers about how the worlds oceans are in the process of collapse, how ninety percent of the worlds large fish are gone etc etc. I find any kind of sport hunting sickening and any form of meat consumption in the modern world requires denial about the pain and suffering inherent in the production of flesh.

I spent ages trying to catch it as it appeared dehydrated and wasn't moving too quickly but eventually it flew off.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reflections On Protest

At the protests I go to I rarely take part anymore and instead I usually take photos or talk to people I know. Its not that I doubt the urgency of the causes we fight for, the vital need to take action like never before or the conviction of everyone on the march or picket. Its just I find our actions unbearably depressing, as the world burns all we can do is march down to the US consulate for the tenth time this year. Most of the time even the cops are bored. Members of the self styled riot squad chat amongst themselves and stroll down the street beside the marchers.

While we are getting hot and angry working up a good self righteous sweat most of the public walking down the street are either bemused or confused by our action. Most simply snap a photo on their cellphone to show to the family later and turn to their friends puzzled as they try and work out exactly what we are protesting about. The hundred or so angry people escorted by police move in a revolutionary bubble down queen street leaving little wake behind them and eventually dispersing to the pub to swap stories about that march when the flag got lowered at the US embassy.

Our pickets and smaller protests seem to offer a better chance to engage the public but the story is the same, a small microcosm of misfits amidst a swirl of shoppers. When a member of the public does come over to talk to us most of us tense up expecting a verbal barrage and are shocked when word trickles over that someone actually supports us.

We seem to be stuck repeating these tiresome actions over and over again knowing that the best possible outcome of our march is 40 seconds of critical coverage on the six o clock news and only then if one of us decides to punch a cop. Most of the time we simply go home and check indymedia to see photos of ourselves and to read an over inflated account of our protest.

I know this is a dark picture of our protests that I have portrayed but its only because I feel stuck. I was still a teenager when queen street filled with 30,000 people marching against the release of Genetically Modified organisms into the New Zealand countryside. I remember standing at the top of queen st and looking down to see it completely filled with people literally as far as the eye can see. We had widespread public support across the entire country, this was a domestic issue not some war in a third world nation or some US backed regime massacring an indigenous minority. Despite all this we lost the GE battle, whilst we aren’t yet growing GE crops in Aotearoa field trials of GE crops are becoming widespread. That movement melted away and despite a lot of training and a lot of work most of the people involved seem to have disappeared.

So as the world economic system is crumbling and tent cities are springing up I’m left wracking my brains as to how to make our opposition to the current system felt. And more than making our opposition felt how do we build a counter culture that rejects individualist capitalism. Surely marching and protests should come from a body of people opposed to the current system rather than being our way we try and build and opposition.

I’ve got no answers but this is something I’m interested in so I might try and work out what’s going on in other countries to resist the current recession and how they are building and organising.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Police Target Political Activists

None of what is in the Guardian article comes as any surprise to me, the police in NZ are doing exactly the same thing through both overt and covert surveillance. While not surprising it does make me angry, it also seems completely stupid and unnecessary. I cant come up with any plausible reason why this level of surveillance could possibly be useful. The level of political crime in the UK and NZ is negligible so this surveillance is complete overkill if the justification is crime prevention. It seems instead that western governments view activist movements as a major threat worth investing huge amounts of resources into. While I only really know what is going on in NZ I disagree with the Guardian that there is more of a focus on monitoring the press than activists. Sure journalists get harassed by cops but what they experience is nothing like the intense personal harassment dealt out to known activists.

For a taste of what things are like for activists in Aotearoa this article is illuminating. For an activists perspective of this kind of surveillance Fit Watch is a great read and I really respect the people that run it.

Thanks to cryptogon for spotting it, link to the full article which has video and audio here

Guardian: Police Database on Thousands of Protesters

Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.
Photographs, names and video ­footage of people attending protests are ­routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an "intelligence system".

The ­Metropolitan police, which has ­pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.

Disclosures through the Freedom of Information Act, court testimony, an interview with a senior Met officer and police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian have ­established that ­private information about activists ­gathered through surveillance is being stored without the knowledge of the people monitored.

Police surveillance teams are also ­targeting journalists who cover demonstrations, and are believed to have ­monitored members of the press during at least eight protests over the last year.

Videographer Jason Parkinson and photographer Jess Hurd describe to Paul Lewis how they have been followed by police while covering protests
The Guardian has found:

• Activists "seen on a regular basis" as well as those deemed on the "periphery" of demonstrations are included on the police databases, regardless of whether they have been convicted or arrested.

• Names, political associations and photographs of protesters from across the political spectrum – from campaigners against the third runway at Heathrow to anti-war activists – are catalogued.

• Police forces are exchanging information about pro­testers stored on their intelligence systems, enabling officers from different forces to search which political events an individual has attended.
Lawyers said tonight they expect the Guardian's investigation to form the basis of a legal challenge against the use of police surveillance tactics.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nestle Protest



Today supporters of striking Filipino workers held a protest inside Nestle's New Zealand corporate headquarters. Nestle are an all round evil corporation and every time I went past their building in Auckland I felt guilty for not doing something. Nestle are the most boycotted company in the world and rose to infamy for aggressive of cows milk based baby formula in developing countries as a replacement for breast milk while I support the choice of women to breastfeed or not and realise that for many women this is not an option it is the deceitful aggressive marketing and also the dairy industry which I have a problem with. The list of abuses Nesle is responsible is long with use of slave labour, GM organisms, depletion of groundwater just the beginning.

The protest today was in support of 600 striking workers in the Philippines and to show our anger at the dozens of union members and leaders that have been killed. These killings and anti union activities are an integral part of Nestles attempts to keep wages low in its manufacturing plants. During the protest a union organiser who has visited the factory in question talked of how the factory has become a military controlled zone and the real fear of death that union members have in the Philippines.

Whilst our action today was small and symbolic I am sure it meant a lot to the striking workers. International acts of solidarity should never be underestimated, the protests and actions across the world in support of those arrested in last years terror raids in Aotearoa meant a lot to me and have highlighted to me the importance of showing our support for overseas struggles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Excuses

So I do actually have a lot I want to write about, like the mining of Happy Valley, the battle for female co-leader of the greens, why New Zealanders are responding differently to the financial crisis than other countries etc. And given time I will get round to writing about some of these. In the mean time here are a few more photos I took at the community garden on the weekend.






Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sign of the times

These are some photos I took today in Auckland, I think this was going to be a mall type major development with below ground car parking. I think developers have gone into a receivership and work has definitely halted. It was hard to get good images of the site because of a fence thoroughly surrounding it but I am happy with these.

I love the bomb (graffiti) in the first photo, its kinda hard to make out but says "I wish this was a swimming pool". I really wish I had gotten a better photo of this bomb.
















UK govt scared of possible anti banker backlash

Man these are certainly interesting times. I dont really have much to comment on this story, I would be suprised if rioting got out of control, people still have to much to lose to launch themselves at lines of riot cops or to burn banks. As for political extremists stirring up civil disorder I think thats exactly what activists try and do 24/7 its only when a situation becomes unbearable that people get angry though. Political activists dont have the power to create anti government or anti banker anger at most they have a bit of power to direct anger which already exists but that power is pretty minimal.

Hat tip Cryptogon

From Daily Express:

TOP secret contingency plans have been drawn up to counter the threat posed by a “summer of discontent” in Britain.

The “double-whammy” of the worst economic crisis in living memory and a motley crew of political extremists determined to stir up civil disorder has led to the ­extraordinary step of the Army being put on ­standby.

MI5 and Special Branch are targeting activists they fear could inflame
anger over job losses and payouts to failed bankers.

One of the most notorious anarchist websites, Class War, asks: “How to keep warm ­during the credit crunch? Burn a banker.”

Such remarks have rung alarm bells in Scotland Yard and the Ministry of
Defence.

Intelligence sources said the police, backed by MI5, are determined to stay on top of a situation that could spiral out of control as the recession bites deep.

The chilling prospect of soldiers being drafted on to the streets has not been discounted, although it is regarded as a last resort.

Great Short Film

Great short film about Permablitzing



A couple of us are working on a Permablitz type event in Auckland probably in a month or so, more details to come.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Global Economy Collapses

I have not been posting stories about the current global economic melt down because I figure everyone already knows about it. Since 2005 I have been going round talking about the end of industrial capitalism and the coming crash. At the time I was accused of being nuts and of wanting a pol pot style great leap backwards. Whilst this current crisis could just be a hiccup for global capitalism and could result in global agreements similar to those set up after world war two I think it is more than that.

I think the current economic crises is closely tied to very real limits to growth. I don't think its coincidental that this crises intensified sharply after oil and mineral prices shot up sharply a year ago. I think a rise in the price of raw materials combined with a very shaky economic situation which had been obvious for years was enough to trigger and intensify the current crises.This society is so complex and fragile with supply chains snaking the globe that even relatively minor disruptions such as strikes or shortages of key materials can cause major disruption world wide. Once we really get into this crisis it will be very difficult for the global economy to recover.

On a broader level I think peak oil and a couple of other factors will mean that instead of a temporary hiccup we will be looking at the long term decline of industrial society. Whilst we probably have another few hundred years of industrialised society ahead of us I think our global society has peaked. I believe this because I think we are hitting peak oil right now and I think that from here on in the energy which drives the industrial system will become more expensive and harder to get.

So go outside plant your gardens, talk to your neighbours begin building the new world right fucking now. If you get your hours reduced consider working part time and slashing your expenses. Work out what is really important to you and do it. This is what I am doing and I have never been happier. Even if this crisis is just a hiccup I want to use this chance to begin creating the world as I want to see it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oyster Mushrooms


My friend has been growing/cultivating oyster mushrooms in buckets. He bought the initial spawn to get them going, mixed it with some woodchips and put the mix into buckets, misting the buckets daily to keep moisture and humidity up. These two photos were taken about two days after the first flush of mushrooms appeared.

Oyster mushrooms are remarkably adaptable and a good mushroom for beginners to try. They can be grown on a wide range of substrates including, straw, woodchips, paper, coffee beans etc. If anyone is interested in mushrooms I can highly recommend checking mycelium running out. This book is awesome, it blew my mind and the minds of everyone I know which has read it. Basically Paul Stamets outlines the world beneath our feet and how fungi are crucial to the functioning of ecosystems. He then shows how fungi can be utilised not only to produce food but to heal damaged landscapes. Paul Stamets website is here

Update in response to a question about where to get spawn I would reccomend checking out these two sites for NZ suppliers, Mytopia and Mushroom Gourmet I think my friend got his from one of these but I am not sure which. If I see him soon I will ask him.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Huge Guerrila Garden



We were driving back from the winter gardens last week when my friends mentioned this huge garden they had seen near the motorway. Of course I wanted to go and check it out, as you can see from the pictures the garden is massive. Most of the garden is Kumera but there were also Corn, peppers, tomatoes and a bunch of other plants.

While I'm not sure I think this is a guerrilla garden which makes it all the cooler. The kids at the house next to it ran out when we turned up worried we were going to harvest veges but I asked if I could take some photos and they were ok with that. They were justifiably proud of the garden and gave the kind of ambiguous answer I expected when I asked who's land it was.

Anyway this kind of semi market garden scale growing is awesome. I really wish all permaculturalists and organic gardeners were this serious about growing food. Though given my recent hiatus from serious food growing I am no longer one to preach :) Gardens are becoming increasingly common all over the suburb I live in and I'm sure its the same across Auckland. Its definitely an inspiring time to be growing food. In south Auckland where I grew up there was always some semi-subsistence growing happening but it is becoming far more common with the current recession.



Winter Gardens

Nothing much to say about these photos, I took em at the heated indoor, winter gardens at the Auckland domain last week. I really like the winter gardens, they often have cool tropical fruits and veges growing in them.

The winter gardens are kept warm and humid year round so you can walk out of a grey miserable Auckland winters day into a warm tropical atmosphere.







Friday, February 13, 2009

Acorn Bread

So I have done some pretty depressing posts over the last while but I don't want to give my readers the impression that life is all doom and gloom. Indeed as I sit here drinking wine made out of fruit from a tree I planted a few years ago things seem pretty bright.
Anyway I spent this afternoon making acorn bread. I have been looking forward to making acorn bread for quite a few months and though I had forgotten how much work it is the reward is most definitely worth it. I took photos of much of the process so any avid readers in NZ can go out and make there own acorn bread over the next couple of weeks. Any northern hemisphere readers will need to wait until Autumn and go and find some acorn trees.

For an introduction to how acorns have been used historically and a more exact recipe read the great article my friend wrote last year here



The first step is to collect acorns, get any decent looking brown ones which aren't obviously cracked. You don't have to be very picky as you cull out the bad ones in the next step.


In this step I whack the acorns in the bag with a hammer splitting them, I then pull the husk off and chuck the kernel into the container. This is where you cull out the bad ones, any bits that are black should be removed or the whole kernel discarded. As these acorns were blown down in heavy wind last night all were in good condition and I think I only chucked a couple away.


Here I float off any husks as they aren't very please ant to bite into. Surprisingly I only let a few pieces of husk get through.

Next I boiled the kernels on a low heat for about 90mins or longer changing the water two or three times. This is to get the tannins out of the nut, I will try soaking nuts in water for a couple of days at some point but I didnt have the patience to wait today.


This is what they looked like once boiled, kinda grey and crumbly and edible though strong tasting.

I then mashed these thoroughly and mixed 50/50 with regular white flour, oil, soy milk, golden syrup 5 teaspoons of baking soda and some water. I didn't really follow any recipe I just mixed ingredients until it looked right.

Next I baked it for about 40 mins until it wasn't too moist when I cut a small piece off.

Here is the finished product, two and a half hours later. It tasted great and went very quickly.

This will definitely be the first of many loaves.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Petting Zoo

There was a petting zoo at the Waitangi day event I was at today, I found it pretty depressing. While it can be argued that its good that kids have an oppurtunity to interact with animals I think running round harassing stressed animals isnt the healthiest of interactions. The petting zoo was set up as entertainment which I obviously have a problem with. While I was taking these photos some teenage farm kids were joking about how they treat the animals on the farms they came from. While these kids were joking round the footage and photos stories I have heard and seen mean I know that these kids probably were'nt making it up. After hearing them talk of kicking pregnant ewes in the stomach I walked away sickened.

No suprise that wherever I go I see evidence of the fucked up nature of our culture.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009