Thorium & Small Modular Reactors: Solutions? Not.

One keeps hearing the thorium thing being trotted out. If not that, it’s “small modular reactors.”

Well, I’m no expert on either of these – & am hugely skeptical about nuclear “solutions” that just perpetuate the same decades-old problems.

This posting consists of a list of debunking info items on these two.

Read away!

THORIUM – WHY NOT? Here is why not:


** if you do an Internet search using the phrase “why not thorium?” a TON of stuff comes up. Lots & lots of items as to why not!

Small Modular Reactors: Why not? Here’s why not:


‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Nuclear energy is unnecessary, uninsurable, uneconomic, and most importantly, unsafe. The fact that it continues to exist at all is a result of a ferocious lobby, enlisting the autocratic power of government, that will not admit that its product is unfit for use in the modern world. Let us not allow the lessons of Fukushima to be ignored.” ~ Ralph Nader

 ** tons more great nuke quotes here

** Look up at top of blog under No More Nukes! heading for many nuke-related postings/blog sections


07 2014

Plastic Patrol

Just returned from plastic patrol – aka my daily walk along the boardwalk (our awesome wonderful Beaches boardwalk along Lake Ontario, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

Picked up 10 or 20 bits of plastic garbage along the way & threw them into one of the many many many garbage bins placed all along the length of said boardwalk (i.e., no reason whatsoever for there being all these stray bits of garbage strewn all along the way).

Can’t for the life of me get inside the mind of the sort of person who has the smarts to go to lovely places like beaches & things, but not the smarts to not mess things up while there.




Sitting at my kitchen table yesterday working, & a bird lands in the tree just outside the window. Carrying a very long piece of plastic in its beak.

I ask the bird “WTF? What do you want with THAT??”

The bird does not answer.

I give him/her some unsolicited advice (& I want you to know, I am very, very careful not to give unsolicited advice 99.9% of the time) through the window:

“Hey, Birdie. Ditch the plastic already.”

A few moments later, s/he does! I guess it didn’t turn out to be a tasty morsel of food or any good as nesting material.


Have you seen the plastic garbage gyre in the ocean? Check it out. It’s liable to make you feel sick. (Just Google plastic garbage gyre in ocean.)

How about those damn plastic things six-pack cans of beer come in?

Not good for turtles & other living things.

Okay. Time to get to work.

More “plastic patrol” tomorrow, no doubt!


p.s. I didn’t set out to do this plastic business, you understand. I just can’t stand the thought of all that stuff maybe landing up in the lake….you know??

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “That plastic-lined abomination. That plastic will still be cluttering up the surface of the planet when everyone alive today is dust. Disposable!  They are about as disposable as nuclear waste.” – Author Anne Cameron on disposable diapers in Stubby Amberchuk & the Holy Grail, 1989


07 2014

Garlic Scape Pesto

<from Teske’s Spin Farm>


  • ½ cup garlic scapes (top, flowery part removed), cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. walnuts or nut of your choice (optional) ** I used walnuts
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese (I bought the cheese & grated; no pre-grated for me, thanks!!)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste



  1. Place scapes & nuts in the bowl of a food processor (or hand blender, or blender) & whiz until well combined & somewhat smooth.
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil & process until integrated.
  3. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl & into a mixing bowl.
  4. Add cheese to taste; add salt & pepper (if indeed you remember the pepper; I forgot it!?).

Keeps up to 1 week in fridge, or freeze it.

Wickedly, sinfully delicious!!!


p.s. I bought the garlic scapes at the Deep River farmers’ market when I was up there. Had never bought or used them before, & was thrilled to see the pesto recipe with them. I’m a very un-practiced, unsophisticated cook, pretty new to pesto-making (made my first batch last year with the gobs of fresh basil from a friend’s garden, where I was house-sitting). This pesto is to die for. Thank you thank you thank you, Teske’s Spin Farm!!

p.p.s. I love farmers’ markets!!!!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “No burden is heavy if everyone lifts.” ~ Sy Wise


07 2014

The Dust is EPIC!

& other tales from my dysfunctional apartment

So I need to use my blender … which I have to haul out from its very inconvenient resting spot under the sink, & wash before using; the dust here is epic, shall we just politely say (& not in a nice way)

So I do all that

& now it’s time to plug it in

So I un-plug the fridge

(Yeah, if you leave the fridge plugged in & plug in a “small appliance” like a toaster or coffee grinder or something, you’ll blow a fuse)

Of course I could use the outlet over by the window – but there’s no countertop there to set the blender on

Or, I could use the outlet in the bathroom (which is where I plug in the coffee grinder) but … no counter top

& I just chuckle at it all

‘cos actually I am crazy about this apartment, myriad dysfunctionalities notwithstanding.

& I reflect on my messy (still-couch-less) living room

that in many parts of the world today a room of that size would be used to sleep 10 or 12 people (or more!)

who would be mighty grateful indeed for its comfort & safety

& who would not even notice petty nonsense like dust & half-dysfunctional electrical outlets.

You know what I mean?

Gotta keep things in perspective, hmmm?


Quote of the day’ with this post: “Abundance is not something we acquire. It’s something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

** many wonderful quotations about gratitude here

** tons of inspiring quotations gathered in ‘Quotation Central!’ section



07 2014

Good Habits Are Hard to Break

<March 11/14>

I started using the GO train to get into Toronto from where I lived, out in “the boonies” of Durham Region, east of the city (northeast in my case) & where btw everyone owns a car/van/truck (or three), eons ago. I dunno, 20 years ago anyway.

I did it for environmental reasons (it was actually climate stuff in the news that nudged me into environmental activism way back when … in the late 1980s, in my case). I would be contributing less to greenhouse gas emissions, I figured, if I used the train. For sure it wasn’t because it was economical; it actually costs more to use the GO train than to drive (something that has always rather pi**ed me off, to tell you the truth).

I do still own a car (a small Toyota with great gas mileage), & now I live in the city & barely use it. Right now I’m writing this on the train, heading for an evening thing.

Good habits are hard to break!

I wrote a posting once about how/why I love public transportation.

I used to think if I set a good example with the things I did – practicing the 3R’s (reduction, reuse, recycling; in the correct order of course), composting, consuming less, driving minimally, keeping the house temperature down & using a clotheshorse & clothesline instead of the dryer, not flying – all that kind of stuff, you know – that others would follow my fine upstanding example.

As if, eh??

Well, that obviously bombed. I hardly know another soul who uses the GO system or avoids flying for environmental reasons. Or, well, okay, I know one or two, or maybe even three or four. It’s such an oddball thing to do (the flying thing in particular) that I don’t even talk to anyone about it. They would take me for a moron. A wing-nut. A kook. (Funny that, now that I think of it. Everyone does that anyway!?)

But the thing is, good habits are hard to break.

I now no longer believe that any of my naïve notions about conserving less made, or make, or will ever make a darn bit of difference in the long (or even the short!) run. Pretty sure that ship has sailed, hmmm? I believe all the tipping points the smart folks used to talk about years, decades ago now, for heaven’s sake, have been passed. Or is it past? (Plenty of sobering corroborating info on that here.)

Still, good habits are hard to break.

It’s somehow kind of a comforting thought.


p.s. I could write a little essay called “Car Culture.” I’ve lived both in & outside of it, & had some interesting insights about cars & suburban life, once I got a bit out of the suburban habit. But you know? It doesn’t really matter anyway. Car culture is one of those things that has led/is leading the human race to a gigantic crash-up (as it were) – but it’s too late to do anything about it now. It’s probably been too late for thousands of years! That run-away train called “civilization” simply sped up to hyper-warp speed in our lifetimes (can you say exponential??), & the crash course it’s on has way too much momentum for any of us to halt it now. Me & all my naïve efforts, eh?? Ah well. Still. They always felt good – still do now, mostly, even.

p.p.s. I’ll keep right on using public transportation – the GO train & the TTC streetcars & subways – ‘cos I like public transportation. I enjoy it. It feels good to me to use it.

Good habits are hard to break.

Most people I know? You can’t pry them out of their cars. Car use is so deeply ingrained in our culture, breaking its stranglehold is inconceivable, now.

Bad habits are hard to break, too. I ought to know! I have more than my fair share of those.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: On the dangers of un-guided technology: “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose, looking backward.” – Ralph Lapp, scientist-turned-writer

Others: “The truth is that we never conquered the world, never understood it; we only think we have control. We do not even know why we respond a certain way to other organisms, and need them in diverse ways, so deeply.” – E.O. Wilson

4 Laws of Ecology:     “Everything is connected to everything else

Everything must go somewhere.

Nature knows best.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.” – Barry Commoner

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

“I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a recent interview with Bill Moyer (you really MUST watch this interview!)

“I see my job, Bill, as not helping people to feel that they can be safe – but rather, showing – illuminating for people – where the paths for activism lie.” — from the interview referenced above

** more Sandra Steingraber quotes here

** tons more quotations in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section


07 2014


The usual. Went looking for one thing & found something else altogether.

Here are some great quotations about character:

“Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become character. Character is everything.” – Source unknown (seen on a hospital wall)

“Character is the internalization of responsibility. What we are talking about when we talk about a local food system or CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] is a food system that relies more on character than it does on legal, bureaucratic, or commercial procedures.” ~ Wendell Berry, quoted in “Safe Food News”

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – James D. Miles

“And what I’ve learned is not to believe in magical leaders anymore, that character and compassion are more important than ideology, and that even if it’s absurd to think you can change things, it’s even more absurd to think that it’s foolish and unimportant to try.” – Peter C. Newman

“Character is defined by what you are willing to do when the spotlight has been turned off, the applause has died down, and no one is around to give you credit.” (Source unknown)

“What magnifies a voice is its human character, its compassion, honesty, and intelligence, and against the weight of things as they are the best resource is the imaginative labor of trying to tell the truth.” – Lewis Lapham, Harper’s Magazine

“If you take care of your character, your reputation will take care of itself.” – sign at church

“It’s kinda hard to teach character when you don’t live character.” – George Bush, May 13, 2004. (& he oughta know!!)

“It is possible that the scientific character of mind is by its nature childish, capable through life of a child’s wonder and excitements, but lacking real discernment, lacking sadness, too easily delighted by its own intellect. There are exceptions, of course, the physicist Steven Weinberg, for example, whom I’ve read and who has the moral gravity you would want from a scientist.”E.L. Doctorow in his novel City of God Random House, New York 2000, pg. 12.

7 root causes or “blunders” which lead to violence, passed along by Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi (& sent to Ann Landers):

  • wealth without work
  • pleasure without conscience
  • education without character
  • commerce without morality
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice
  • politics without principle


** tons of other great quotations gathered up here!


07 2014

Life Goals … as of now

On a busy rushy somewhat stressful morning on my way on the streetcar, bus, train & bus to a kind of a challenging event I thought up these goals for life (now):

  • Be comfortable in my own skin
  • Be a good Mom
  • Keep doing good work
  • Never shout at people
  • Always strive for compassion
  • Always be “in the moment”
  • Always smile & be friendly
  • Enjoy the ride!
  • Remember the GO schedule
  • Say thank you constantly
  • Remind myself frequently that not only is everything not about me; actually, nothing is!
  • Always be governed by love, not fear
  • Stay awake stay awake stay awake!



p.s. some of these items take more effort than one might think!

Quote for the day’: “4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results. Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )



“Men honour what lives within their sphere of knowledge, but do not realize how dependent they are on what lies beyond it.” – Chuang-tse (quoted in The Te of Piglet, by Benjamin Hoff)

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein  [more Einstein here

“There is not much truth being told in the world. There never was. This has proven to be a major disappointment to some of us.” – Anne Lamott in the Prelude to Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923)

“Environmentalists have been looked on as the dreamers of the world, when in fact they are the realists.” – Edward O. Wilson, world-renowned entomologist

“When you cut off arterial blood to an organ, the organ dies. When you cut the flow of nature into people’s lives, their spirit dies. It’s as simple as that.” – Unattributed quotation in Adbusters magazine, Jan/Feb 2004.

** Lots more quotations here!




06 2014

My First Feminist

(Or “uppity women” I have known)

<June 12/14>

The first feminist in my life was my mother.

I was born in the early fifties (in Canada), 4th (& youngest) child of a white, middle-class family. With an upwardly-mobile-obsessed father (no amount of money was ever “enough” for him) who was a bully – to his sons (my brothers), especially, & to my mother.

I was afraid of him, & did not love him, & I have compassion for him now, but the man was sure no picnic.

My Mom was ahead of her time. She went “out” to work when no one in her social circle would have considered doing such a thing. Nor, I’m sure, could they grasp (at first) why she was doing such a thing. (Everyone we knew had a big house & a couple of cars & belonged to the Yacht Club & the Golf & Country Club, & since most were Air Canada people, took frequent flying trips here & there around the globe.)

Having a job & an income (luckily, Mom had become a nurse back before World War II, & only had to more or less re-train) was how she got out. Got away.

From my father’s bitterness, anger, sarcasm – & his fists.

For many years I was the only kid I knew whose Mom “worked” & trust me, I did not enjoy feeling like the weird, different kid. I just wanted to be “like everyone else.”

Here’s the point, though: my Mom was a feminist even though she never used the term. I’m not sure when it came into vogue, but for sure some time after my Mom forged her own path.

She just did what she had to do.

She wasn’t perfect (I’ve yet to meet anyone who is), but she had the courage to risk my father’s wrath, her friends’ disapproval, the world’s cold shoulder (for example she could not get “credit” when she went out on her own, because she was … a woman).

She was brave, & feisty, & I am grateful to her for her example as a role model.

& by now, I am so tired of patriarchy, I could scream!

Males by virtue of biology (meaning, what they are born with between their legs) have been wired for thousands of years now to believe they are superior to mere females. Quite clearly, this attitude is a very, very stubborn one indeed. Slight understatement here.

Many patronize, dismiss, limit women in a 100 ways, every day. If not in the home (for there are many non-dinosaur men now), it is deeply embedded in the culture.

Just walk out the door. Read the paper. Listen to the news.

Let’s just say patriarchy has laid such waste to this planet, there is no hope of getting it cleaned up now. And no, I do not “blame men” for all this. I blame the culture. The “system” of patriarchy.

And while I don’t wish to offend friends/family members who are fans of organized religion of one stripe or another, I will just politely say this: I don’t think organized religion has helped much.

This is what I wish:

I wish we would all stop looking for “perfection” in particular deities, genders, people, professions, currencies … things that are always OUTside ourselves – & strive to be the best people we can be, inside ourselves, & in the world.

(& if we are horrendously self-absorbed, selfish & immature, let us hesitate before becoming parents)

& let us all take strength from circular processes, not hierarchies & pyramid structures, that place the intelligence, authority, wisdom, somewhere “up there,” outside ourselves … “away.”

Let us examine our own neuroses & weaknesses, shine a little light on our unconsciously-held privileges & entitlements (whatever these may happen to be; I do believe most of us have them), & work to make this world (for whatever length of time we have left in it) cleaner, safer & more humane – for all creatures.

Finally, let us honour, not despise, the female qualities of nurturing & love & compassion & caring for others – for it is surely not these qualities that have led us to this so-precarious time in the history of our species.


p.s. great discussion about female confidence in this ‘The Current’ interview with Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the book The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know.

p.p.s. it was the recent ‘The Current’ interview with Rebecca Solnit that yet again fired me up about feminism, & also made me remember I am overdue to thank my mother again for the great example she set. Thanks, Mom!!

p.p.p.s. 2 more relevant articles: ‘10 Simple Words Every Girl Should Learn’ & ’35 Practical Steps Men Can Take to Support Feminism.’

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think.” – Rebecca Solnit in the interview referenced above.

A few others:

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, American historian/writer

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

“But matricide also includes within it a kind of patricide as well. The father will become distorted in this process for there is no mother without a father. A distorted fatherhood is what a pathological patriarchy is all about.” – Matthew Fox in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, 1988, HarperSanFrancisco

“Underground nuclear testing, defoliation of the rain forests, toxic waste… Let’s put it this way: if the world were a big apartment, we wouldn’t get our deposit back.” – John Ross

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb quoted by Devra Davis at the ‘Cancer: It’s About Prevention, It’s About Time!’ conference in Ottawa, May 2007.

** tons of great quotes in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of this blog.


06 2014

Bruised & Battered

Feeling sort of bruised & battered today***

For a variety of reasons. Details not terribly important.

(some days are just like that, eh??)

I notice how quickly comes the impulse to give in to anger – strike out, blame others

& I remind myself of my own 2 top bits of advice:

Cut your losses. Go where the energy is.


Stay on the path. Don’t look down.

Have just added a new note to the front of the fridge:

Take the high road.

Hope I will always listen to my own good advice!!


*** only metaphorically, or emotionally, I mean – not physically. Thank Goddess!

‘Quote of the day’: “For every nine people who denounce innovation, only one will encourage it… For every nine people who do things the way they have always been done, only one will ever wonder if there is a better way. For every nine people who stand in line in front of a locked building, only one will ever come around and check the back door. Our progress as a species rests squarely on the shoulders of that tenth person. The nine are satisfied with things they are told are valuable. Person 10 determines for himself what has value.” – Za Rinpoche & Ashley Nebelsieck in The Backdoor to Enlightenment (Three Leaves) – quoted in Oprah Magazine Jan. 2008

Runner- up: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller, *Critical Path*

A few spare gems: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates (quoted in Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny)

“Life is a joyful participation in a world of sorrows.” – Buddhist thought (quoted in The Open Road – The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer)

“When there is a bend in the road, the only ones who crash are those who refuse to change direction.” – Source unknown

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Kahlil Gibran


06 2014

Rebecca Solnit Made My Day! “Mansplaining”

Sooooo, I heard that Rebecca Solnit is going to be on CBC Radio’s ‘The Current’ tomorrow (i.e., Thursday, June 12, 2014). Talking about her new book.

I Googled it & wound up reading all the following.

& it made my day! (Well, that & the word “woof,” but I’d better not go into that.)

Because I have entirely too often been patronized by men who know far less than I do on certain particular topics, who have (to repeat myself) patronized & dismissed & minimized me, & whose overall theme in life might as well be “Don’t confuse me with the facts. Honey.”

& Solnit nails these buggers, & she nails them good.

& by golly, she’s funny all the while she’s doing it!

She made my day.

Check her out!

Guardian article Mansplaining, explained: ‘Just ask an expert. Who is not a lady

The book: Men Explain Things to Me

The source article on Tom Dispatch (& Facts didn’t get in their way)

Solnit on Occupy (“Occupy Your Victories”)

& I love love loved her book A Paradise Built in Hell

& this quote about nukes & climate change:

“Sure, you can say nuclear power is somewhat less carbon-intensive than burning fossil fuels for energy; beating your children to death with a club will prevent them from getting hit by a car. Ravaging the Earth by one irreparable means is not a sensible way to prevent it from being destroyed by another. There are alternatives. We should choose them and use them.” – Rebecca Solnit


p.s. & I still have her interview on CBC’s ‘The Current’ to look forward to! Life is rich, I tellya!!

p.p.s. I’ve met a nuclear industry dude or 3 who has pulled this serious “Don’t confuse me with the facts” stuff on me. It would be funny if they didn’t have their hands on such a bloody dangerous, filthy, life-threatening technology. (Well, it wouldn’t really be funny even then, but I’m trying to be … magnanimous, or … something. Not sure what I’m trying to be. Let’s just stick to the facts, shall we?)

You can read about some of my own experiences with some of that “Don’t confuse me with the facts” nonsense here & here & most recently here.



06 2014

May 2nd: Vote for the Planet!

As surely all adult Canadians know, there’s a federal election coming up on May 2nd.

As surely all conscious Canadians also know, we’ve suffered under a right-wing, corporate agenda-driven federal government for far too long. (& they don’t give a damn about the environment, or about you & me, obviously!?!?!)

It’s a very bad scene here – which might surprise readers from other countries, many of whom often seem to think we Canadians have some kind of corner on caring & democracy. Hah! Not under Harper, we don’t. It’s bad.

It’s long past time for a change, & since we’re stuck with a faulty electoral system that allows a party that receives a tiny per centage of the vote to take power, all of us need to vote so a bad turnout at the polls doesn’t once again lead to a bad government.

Time to boot out Stephen Harper & his cronies!!

Now, I’m a Green Party voter, & have been for years. I’m not even going to pretend I am not a huge Elizabeth May fan – ‘cos I am & am proud to say so. A woman I know who is close to 90 & who, trust me, has never been a “Greenie,” once said to me “Elizabeth May is smarter than all the rest of them put together.” “Bingo,” I replied.

You can check her out here & go under the ‘Platform’ tab to see what the Green Party stands for. This is not a one-issue party!!

But I don’t expect people to just take my word on things, so I’m going to list some options you can check out – with thanks to NOW Magazine‘s April 21-27 issue. NOW is a free weekly Toronto paper that is both left-leaning & hard-hitting.

I’m enjoying its articles about the election.

  • A letter-writer suggested we should not put too much faith in election polling. Apparently most have called land line phones, whereas many young people (who are progressive in their thinking) use cell phones. The letter-writer suggested that this skews results in the (Harper) Conservatives’ favour, & says that polls done by Ekos use more up-to-date technology & put the Conservatives’ #’s lower. Interesting…
  • Speaking of Conservatives, here’s a site to check out! To see what kind of awful stuff our PM has done, & help motivate you to do whatever you can to get him out, check it out!
  • NOW Editor/CEO Alice Klein’s article “Shake off clichés” lists a # of sites & projects to check out.
  • Project Democracy “is a tool to help you determine if there is a way to “amp up” your vote and stop a Harper majority. By using a riding by riding election prediction model based on the most up to date public opinion polls, we can tell you which Party is best positioned to defeat the Conservative in your riding.” (Some neat articles on the site – including the Alice Klein one mentioned above; check it out!!)
  • Lead “is an independent, youth-led advocacy organization that helps Canadians of all generations participate in their democracy. We’re working together to build a stronger democracy that protects our environment, creates economic opportunity while increasing equality, and guarantees that everyone receives the care they need.”
  • Vote Mobs are part of the Lead-Now strategy.
  • Pair Vote “Our goals for this election, based on the interests expressed by pair voters are (in order of priority):
  • Prevent a false majority by the Conservatives by swapping non-Conservative votes in swing ridings where Conservative party may win – this party is the least motivated to reform anything, and the only majority threat.
  • Elect Elizabeth May as first Green Party member of parliament so approximately one million Canadian voters have an official voice.
  • For races mostly irrelevant to these goals (NDP-Liberal, Bloc-Liberal or Bloc-NDP), swap two ineffective votes for two effective votes.
  • Where this is not possible, suggest a swap that makes one vote for an ideologically closely allied party effective against one that is less allied.  (This includes swapping Libertarian and Christian Heritage votes to get effective Conservative votes while preserving the small party vote total).”
  • Weekly NOW Magazine ‘Ecoholic’ columnist Adria Vasil says “It should be logistically impossible to sweep a whole planet under the rug, but politicians are brilliant magicians.” (Black magicians, hmmm?) She suggests donating to the Green Party/Elizabeth May campaign “whether you plan on voting NDP, Green or Lib in your riding” because “without her, green politics will more easily fade to black in the House after the election.”
  • Catch 22 is not mentioned by Ms. Klein. From the site: “The Catch 22 Campaign is a cross-country, grassroots, multi-partisan, pro-democracy, volunteer, campaign which started in January 2010. Our goal is to provide specific voting advice to help anti-Harper voters defeat as many incumbent Conservative MPs as possible. We’ll do this by supporting the opposition candidate with the best chance to win. We have identified a limited number of close ridings where vote splitting has to be overcome. We are now registered as an official Third Party with Elections Canada so that we can advertise during the election. Catch 22 is not affiliated with any political party, candidates or organizations. Based on riding by riding analysis, we are recommending to anti-Harper voters in those target ridings who we think has the best opportunity.”

I am going to check out these initiatives more thoroughly myself. For sure, I will vote Green, though, as I have in several previous elections. Both my heart & head tell me to do so…

Well. All this has put me in the mood for a little humour. I think I’ll go to the “Shit Harper Did” site & have some chuckles. Later in the day I’ll be making phone calls to help the Green Party campaign. I sure do want to see Elizabeth May get a seat in Parliament. That would make not only my day, but my year!!


P.S. Check out the Elizabeth May endorsers’ list here If you scroll down on that page, you’ll find good articles, too. Don’t forget to check out the Green Party platform! (Vision Green covers every issue important to Canadians. Don Drummond, former Chief Economist at TD Bank, gave Vision Green high marks & said no other party has anything like it!)

P.P.S. Good comic-style-type analysis here “Which Canada Will YOU Vote for?”

P.P.P.S. Please, please, please, Canadians of all (voting) ages: Vote! Spend an hour checking out the sites listed here. There is nothing more pressing at this time than working to oust Harper!!!!

P.S. # 4: One excellent possible & relevantQuote of the day: “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958


04 2011

OH, Canada…(take 2)

<Take 1 is here >

Oh dear me.

A Conservative majority.

Canadians have just handed a majority government to Stephen Harper, a Prime Minister recently found in contempt of Parliament. (Great site for seeing lots of truth about the Harper government here)

Two Conservative MPs I particularly wondered about (Cheryl Gallant & Bev Oda) have been re-elected.

Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew County) is such an embarrassment to her own party, they keep her from attending all-candidates’ meetings! She recently insulted East Coast Canadians who’d experienced a personal tragedy in which several people were killed (go here to see the Rick Mercer rant on this). I’ve watched Ms. Gallant in action for several years (she’s a former MP of mine from my Renfrew County days) & have observed that she really only opens her mouth to change feet. She’s a disgrace to all thinking Canadians.

She has been re-elected.

Bev Oda (from Durham Region, east of Toronto) was at the centre of a scandal involving lying to Parliament – repeatedly, if I am not mistaken. (see here)

She too has been re-elected.

Canadians (but only 40% of us; more on that below) have elected a Parliament that will be dominated by a man who reminds many of us of a robot. Who is not even vaguely “democratic” – even within his own party. (As Carl Sagan asked in his book Billions & Billions – Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the New Millenium, what is it Conservatives are conserving??)

Who doesn’t give a damn about the environment, the middle class, the poor, health care…you name it.

And we elected this poor sorry excuse for a “leader.”


I’m feeling a bit sick today.

Here’s the thing: I’m in very good company!!

Only 40% of those who voted actually voted for this excuse of a leader. And since the voter turnout was only 41%, Harper’s party actually was chosen by only 24% of Canada’s registered electors.

More than 70% of Canadian voters did not vote for him.

& this is what we call democracy????

In Canada we do not have proportional representation, which means that a party that receives only 40% of the vote can claim to have a “majority” government.

It will always puzzle me that Canadians turned down the chance to institute proportional representation a few years ago. (I remember the day those results came in. I never got out of my PJ’s, I was so depressed & disgusted. I bet I grumped at the cats, too. Sorry, you guys…)

Sometimes I feel ashamed to be a Canadian. We are so not the fine folks a lot of us think we are. (Not only are a lot of Canadians smug, lots of Americans seem to believe fancy things about us that would lead us to continue being smug. A) Things here are not as good as you think, folks, & B) Let’s stop being smug. It’s bad for our health!!)

But I don’t just feel ashamed to be Canadian. Sometimes I feel ashamed as a human being.

We can be a phenomenally shameful bunch.


I’m a fighter. Not a victim. I’m feisty – & I have a ton of equally feisty friends & colleagues. We are not quitters.

We put oomph in the phrase “Quit bitching. Start a revolution.”

And too, a lot of the people I know – especially some who ran as candidates for the Green Party – have what I think of as palpable integrity.

I will go to my grave wondering how people with such integrity can lose to candidates whose behaviour is virtually criminal. I will also go to my grave (I expect) knowing that power corrupts. (Just recently re-read the section of that fabulous book Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser, in which she points out that even the finest, most “spiritual” people are subject to the “power corrupts” phenomenon, & that we might as well just all know this & count on it. Let’s hope our NDP (New Democratic Party) doesn’t get too silly with this power they have just won…)

& also, that we must be careful what we wish for. (I could say more on that topic, but another day, perhaps.)

Well. I’m off to a corner to lick my wounds. Take a bit of a pause & ponder on how & where to direct my energy in the days ahead.

But not for too long. There’s a hurting world out there to fight for!


P.S. I am, of course, DELIGHTED that Green Party leader Elizabeth May has won a seat in Parliament. Hurray, hurray, hurray!!! Elizabeth May is a blessing to us all…

Quotations Relevant Today

Tommy Douglas on Fascism: “Once more let me remind you what fascism is. It need not wear a brown shirt or a green shirt – it may even wear a dress shirt. Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege.”

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958

“True democracy is only possible when people have effective power over their own affairs, their own goals, and their own resources. The larger the governing unit, the less responsive it is to human needs, the more bureaucratic and inefficient its administration. Government, we must always remind ourselves, is not (or should not be) a professionally organized system to tell people how to run their affairs; it is (or should be) a means whereby people themselves are enabled to resolve matters in their own community.” ~ John Papworth in Putting Power In Its Place

“One of the things I argue in my book [A Journey Through Economic Time] is the extent to which people go to avoid rational decisions – the very large role of mental deficiency in economic history. Generally, people have been very resistant to attributing a causal role in history to stupidity.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” – Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1964), a Nazi victim who was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen & Dachau

“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” – Bertrand De Jouvenel

“Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” – Hannah Arendt

“The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Pg. 115>

Check out ‘Quotation Central!here, for ‘Political’ & ‘Democracy’ quotes (& others!)

Quote for Today w. this post: “Cut your losses. Go where the energy is.” – Janet McNeill


05 2011

Harper Majority (not)

We’ve all heard (Canadian Prime Minister) Stephen Harper making grand claims since the election the other day (on May 2nd) that Canadians have given him a solid mandate to … bleah, bleah, bleah.

Fact is, only 61.4% of registered electors voted.

Conservatives got 54.2% of the seats with 39.6% of the popular vote.

As more mathematically inclined friends have pointed out to me (I am a mathophobe), 39.6% x 61.4% = 24.3%.

(Check it out here folks.)

Harper & his minions have been elected by 24.3% of registered Canadian electors. This is a majority? This is … democracy??

Remember that old saying, we get the government we deserve?

I don’t feel as though I deserve this. Do you?? (You do if you didn’t bother to vote! Apparently this was the 3rd lowest turnout ever. Last time was worse. Don’t even come near me if you are Canadian & a registered voter & didn’t vote. Not exercising your right – & responsibility – to vote is … well, pretty near unforgivable, in my books. If all the laggards who didn’t vote had voted, maybe we would not now be facing 4 more years with a “leader” who has nothing but contempt for average Canadians. You hear what I’m sayin’??)

Go take a look here if you want to see some of what the Harper government has been up to already, in its previous term(s). You can multiply it all by … goodness alone knows what, now that they have a … “majority.”

Heaven help us all!!

(But I am determined not to “let the bastards get me down.” Life must go on! And bless me, with as many good laughs as possible! Next post may be a collection of things that will make us all laugh. We need ‘em right now!!)


‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith


05 2011

Funny Stuff – online

As indicated here, in the post before this one, I’m determined to share some laughs on this blog, since I’m often far too serious. (Just ask my kids!!) Also, lately, I think many of us have low spirits, & low spirits are a bummer, even when they are more or less well-earned.

You know what they say about laughter & the best medicine!

So. Here’s a short list with some good laughs if you follow the links. I’ll add to it when I get new stuff. I’ll post some funny jokes & names of funny books & movies, too.



I’ve recently watched the Naked Gun movies – 3 of them. They’re a hoot!!! I loved the 2 ½ one, made in 1991, & with some great gags on environmental matters. Especially on the energy front! Can’t believe they so clearly understood & articulated so much about the corruption at the heart of the American energy scene way back when! I laughed lots….


P.S. I almost forgot to thank the several friends who have provided the funny stuff!! I sent out a request for some funny items, & several friends came through. Thanks, dudes/dudettes! Please send more!!

P.P.S. In the funny movie dept., I know I used to love, love, love Monty Python films. I think it’s about time to watch some of them again! If you don’t know them, Google ‘em. &/or Google Fawlty Towers. Hilarious skits!!



05 2011

Funny Books / Writers

I read a lot. Lots of serious stuff, of course. Lots of fiction too. When the world is “too much with me,” as they say, I take a break by reading good fiction. (I’m picky. I don’t like junk. But I’ll spare you the names of writers I consider lousy ones. Of course too, even the good ones can be pretty serious…) If you want to see what kind of “serious” stuff I like, check out this list. And then there’s this list.

But for right now, it’s writers who write good funny stuff I’m focusing on.

Kind of sobering times in the world, eh? In a whole bunch of ways. Somehow, we have to keep our spirits up! So for a day or two, I’m focusing on funny (previous post has funny YouTubes & some movie suggestions).

This is a very preliminary list. I’ll add to it as I think of other writers who make me laugh.

Heather MallickCake or Death (for a self-declared depressive, she sure is funny!!) I first mentioned her here

Bill Bryson – anything he writes! (mentioned him in this post about walking)

Dave Barry – ditto. Gotta say, his book about guys (Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys) is absolutely side-splitting! As is I’ll Mature When I’m Dead – Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood. This is one very funny man!! (For a Dave Barry take on the difference between men & women, go here!)

George Carlin – I’m reading his Braindroppings right now. Pretty good!

Nora Ephron‘s book I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is pretty good! She sure does get it about necks…


P.S. a few weeks later:  I believe the ‘Quote of the day‘ I used w. this post was this Woody Allen gem: “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” – Woody Allen


05 2011

Funny Stuff – a few good jokes

** Recently I put out a request to a bunch of friends to send me funny stuff. Here are a few good chuckles!!! (I keep adding to this, btw.) Apologies about formatting … difficulties, shall we say…

Drinking & Driving: I would like to share with you an experience that I recently had regarding drinking and driving. As you would know, most of us have had brushes with the law on our way home before. Well I, for one, have done something about it…the other night I was out for dinner and a few drinks with some friends. Having had a few too many drinks and knowing full well I was struggling, I did something I’ve never done before…I took a bus home. I arrived home safely and without incident, which was a real surprise as I have never driven a bus before.

Another Lawyer Joke: A well-known divorce lawyer died & came before St. Peter. “What exactly have you done to earn eternal happiness?” asked St. Peter.  The lawyer recalled that he had given a bum on the street a quarter just the other day. St. Peter, nodding grimly, looked over to his assistant, Gabriel, & asked “Is that in the records?” Gabriel nodded, but St. Peter told the lawyer it wasn’t enough. “Wait, wait, there’s more,” said the lawyer. He told of tripping over a homeless boy the week before & giving the lad a quarter. Gabriel checked the records & confirmed the story. St. Peter contemplated & then asked Gabriel, “What should we do?” Gabriel glanced at the lawyer disgustedly. “I say we give him back his half a buck & tell him to go to Hell.”

Man: A Woman’s Best Friend

Man is a woman’s best friend.He will reassure her when she feels insecure, & comfort her after a bad day. He will inspire her to do things she never thought she could do; to live without fear & forget regret. He will enable her to express her deepest emotions & give in to her most intimate desires. He will make sure she always feels she’s the most beautiful woman in the room & will enable her to be confident, sexy, seductive & invincible.  ……………….. No, wait…… Sorry……. I’m thinking of tequila. It’s tequila that does all that.  Sorry!

Older Love Making

Maude and Claude, both 91, lived in The Villages, in Florida .
They met at the singles club meeting and discovered
over time that they enjoyed each other’s company.
After several weeks of meeting for coffee, Claude
asked Maude out for dinner and, much to his delight,
she accepted.

They had a lovely evening. They dined at the most
romantic restaurant in town. Despite their ages, they
ended up at his place for an after-dinner drink.

Things continued along a natural course and with
age being no inhibitor, Maude soon joined Claude
for a most enjoyable roll in the hay.

As they were basking in the glow of the magic moments
they’d shared, each was lost for a time in their own thoughts…..

Claude was thinking: ‘If I’d known she was a virgin,
I’d have been gentler.’

Maude was thinking: ‘If I’d known he could still do it,
I’d have taken off my pantyhose.’

The Purina Diet (tks to Straight Goods!)

I have a Golden Retriever, a big dog. I was buying a large bag of Purina at Walmart, and was in line to check out. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog. On impulse, I told her that no, I was starting the Purina Diet again, although I probably shouldn’ t because I’d ended up in the hospital last time, but that I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry, and that the food is nutritionally complete, so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story, particularly a guy who was behind her. Horrified, she asked if I’d ended up in the hospital in that condition because I had been poisoned. I told her no; it was because I ‘d been sitting in the street licking my privates and a car hit me.

I thought one guy was going to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard as he staggered out the door.

Why we love children:

1) I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, “Mom, that lady isn’t wearing a seat belt!”


On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, “The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents.”


A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang, so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. “Mommy can’t come to the phone to talk to you right now. She’s hitting the bottle.”


A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women’s locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels & running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement, then asked, “What’s the matter, haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?”

5) POLICE # 1

While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up & down at my uniform, she asked, “Are you a cop?” “Yes,” I answered, & continued writing the report. “My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?” “Yes, that’s right,” I told her. “Well, then,” she said as she extended her foot toward me, “would you please tie my shoe?”

6) POLICE # 2

It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my canine partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me. “Is that a dog you got back there?” he asked. “It sure is,” I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me & then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, “What’d he do?”


While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers & wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned & whispered, “The tooth fairy will never believe this!”


A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, “Daddy, you shouldn’t wear that suit.”  “And why not, darling?” “You know it always gives you a headache the next morning.”


While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year-old son & his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box & cotton batting, then dug a hole & made ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers & with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: “Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes.” (I want this line used at my funeral!)


A little girl had just finished her first week of school. “I’m just wasting my time,” she said to her mother. “I can’t read, I can’t write, and they won’t let me talk!”


A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. “Mama, look what I found,” the boy called out. “What have you got there, dear?” With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered, “I think it’s Adam’s underwear!”


These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!


ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.


ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?


ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.


ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?


ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he’s twenty.


ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitt’in me?


ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh…. I was gett’in laid!


ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you shitt’in me? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?


ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?


ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?


ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!


ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh….are you qualified to ask that question?


And the best for last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.


Fifty Bucks is Fifty Bucks! Ed & his wife Norma go to the state fair every year. And every year Ed would say, “Norma, I’d like to ride in that helicopter.”
Norma always replied, “I know Ed, but that helicopter ride is fifty bucks. And fifty bucks is fifty bucks!”
One year Ed & Norma went to the fair & Ed said, “Norma, I’m 75 years old. 
If I don’t ride that helicopter, I might never get another chance.”
To which, Norma replied, “Ed, that helicopter ride is fifty bucks, and fifty bucks is fifty bucks.” The pilot overheard the couple & said “Folks I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take the both of you for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride & don’t say a word I won’t charge you a penny! But if you say one word it’s fifty dollars.”

Ed and Norma agreed & up they went. The pilot did all kinds of fancy maneuvers, but not a word was heard. He did his daredevil tricks over & over again. But still not a word… When they landed, the pilot turned to Ed & said “By golly, I did everything I could to get you to yell out, but you didn’t. I’m impressed!” Ed replied, “Well, to tell you the truth,
I almost said something when Norma fell out. But you know, “Fifty bucks is fifty bucks!”

The Haircut (very timely for Canadians, post-federal election!)

One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asks about his bill & the barber replies, “I cannot accept money from you, I’m doing community service this week.” The florist is pleased & leaves the shop.
When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning, there’s a ‘thank you’ card & a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.
Later a cop comes in for a haircut & when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, “I cannot accept money from you, I’m doing community service this week.” The cop is happy & leaves the shop.
Next morning when the barber goes to open up, there’s another ‘thank you’ card & a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.
Then a Member of Parliament comes in for a haircut & when he goes to pay his bill, the barber again replies, “I can not accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.” The MP is very happy & leaves the shop.
The next morning, when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen MPs lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country & the politicians who run it.



While walking down the street one day a “Member of Parliament” is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

‘Welcome to heaven,’ says St. Peter. ‘Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.’

‘No problem, just let me in, ‘says the man.

‘Well, I’d like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven.  Then you can choose where to spend eternity’.

‘Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,’ says the MP.

‘I’m sorry, but we have our rules.’

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.  The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises …

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven, where St. Peter is waiting for  him.

‘Now it’s time to visit heaven.’

So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing.  They have a good time and, before he realises it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

‘Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity’.

The MP reflects for a minute, then he answers: ‘Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell. ‘

So St. Peter escorts him to the lift and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the lift open and he’s in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and rubbish.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more rubbish falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. ‘I don’t understand,’ stammers the MP.  ‘Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there’s just a wasteland full of rubbish and my friends look miserable.  What happened? ‘

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, ‘ Yesterday we were campaigning … Today you voted.’


You Don’t Have To Own A Cat To Appreciate This One!  You don’t even have to like ‘em!

So we’re dressed & ready to go out for the New Year’s Eve Party. We turn on a night light, turn the answering machine on, cover our pet parakeet & put the cat in the backyard.
We phone the local cab company & request a taxi. The taxi arrives & we open the front door to leave the house.
As we walk out the door, the cat we’d put out in the yard scoots back into the house. We don’t want the cat shut in the house because she always tries to eat the bird.
My wife goes on out to the taxi, while I go back inside to get the cat. The cat runs upstairs, with me in hot pursuit.
Waiting in the cab, my wife doesn’t want the driver to know that the house will be empty for the night. So she explains to the taxi driver that I will be out soon. “He’s just going upstairs to say good-bye to my mother.”
A few minutes later, I climb into the cab. “Sorry I took so long,” I say, as we drive away. “That stupid bitch was hiding under the bed. I had to poke her ass with a coat hanger to get her to come out! She tried to take off, so I grabbed her by the neck. Then, I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching me. But it worked! I hauled her fat ass downstairs & threw her out into the back yard! She better not shit in the vegetable garden again!”

The silence in the cab is deafening…


How Children Perceive Their Grandparents

1. She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter, as she’d done many times before. After she applied her lipstick & started to leave, the little one said, “But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!”  I will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye…

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, & I told him, 62. My grandson was quiet for a moment, & then he asked, ”Did you start at 1?”

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changes into old slacks & a droopy blouse & proceeds to wash her hair. As she hears the children getting more & more rambunctious, her patience grows thin. Finally, she throws a towel around her head & storms into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she leaves the room, she hears the three-year-old say with a trembling voice,
”Who was THAT?”

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like.  “We used to skate outside on a pond.  I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.”
The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!”

5.  My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?” I mentally polished my halo & I said, “No, how are we alike?”  “You’re both old,” he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather’s word processor. She told him she was writing a story. ”What’s it about?” he asked. ”I don’t know,” she replied. “I can’t read.”

7. I didn’t know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something & ask what color it was. She would tell me & was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, “Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!”

8. When my grandson Billy & I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in.  Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, “It’s no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights.”

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.”  “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” he advised. “Mine says I’m 4 to 6.”

10. A second grader came home from school & said to her grandmother, “Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting.” she said. ”How do you make babies?”  ”It’s simple,” replied the girl. “You just change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.”

11. Children’s Logic: “Give me a sentence about a public servant,” said a teacher. The small boy wrote:  “The fireman came down the ladder pregnant.”  The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. “Don’t you know what pregnant means?” she asked. “Sure,” said the young boy confidently. ‘It means carrying a child.”

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog’s duties.
”They use him to keep crowds back,” said one child.
”No,” said another. “He’s just for good luck.”
A third child brought the argument to a close. “They use the dogs,” she said firmly, “to find the fire hydrants.”

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. ”Oh,” he said, “she lives at the airport, & when we want her, we just go get her.  Then, when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport.”

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth!  He teaches me good things, but I don’t get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

15. My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over, you hear gas leaks & they blame their dog.


05 2011

Voting Conservative

Once upon a time I had a friend who came out with this startling statement:

“I vote Conservative because my father voted Conservative.”

Yikes! OMG!!

Here are the thoughts that ran through my head:

  1. OMG!
  2. What a moron!
  3. I can’t believe you just said that!!
  4. Not only are you a moron for voting Conservative, you’re a moron for doing it only because your father did, & most especially,
  5. You’re also a moron for admitting this to me!! You could have kept this appalling bit of shameful stupidity under your hat!!!

We have all done (& do) & said (& say) dumb stuff (none more than yours truly, a mistress of the occasional stupid & thoughtless remark/deed).

But OMG people!

Voting for a right-wing political party that doesn’t give a darn about “regular” people – because your father did?

Haven’t we all got more brains than that??



p.s. btw, here in Canada we have two right-wing political parties that don’t really give much of a darn about “average” ordinary people. Our Liberal party is only slightly less right-wing than our Conservative party. They are just wolves in sheep’s clothing – in my opinion. Admittedly, this is just my opinion, it is not the Gospel. (Although I am for sure not alone in believing this!) ** Extraordinary timing!! Friend just sent me this link. Brilliant little YouTube with a parable, using mice, about the so-called “difference” between the 2 main Canadian political parties. At the site you will see various versions of this little gem!

p.p.s. I think my own children know better than to vote for a political party only because their mother or father does so. I sure hope so! We all need to form our own opinions, especially political opinions, because the world of politics is not some big block of stone that just sits there & never changes. There are new parties & new issues & for sure, new urgency about all matters political. Right??? (& presumably, this is true wherever one lives, hmmm?)

p.p.p.s. One of my favourite political quotations is this one: “The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

Here are 2 more from the same man, no political slouch…

“These are the days when men of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek the comfortable and the accepted; when the man of controversy is looked upon as a disturbing influence; when originality is taken to be a mark of instability; and when, in minor modification of the original parable, the bland lead the bland.” – Economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) in The Affluent Society.

“One of the things I argue in my book [A Journey Through Economic Time] is the extent to which people go to avoid rational decisions – the very large role of mental deficiency in economic history.Generally, people have been very resistant to attributing a causal role in history to stupidity.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

p.s. # 4: My other 2011 federal election-related posts can be found here, here & here



05 2011

Epitaphs for Earthlings

<April 11/11>

One day in Toronto recently my spirits were kind of in the toilet, & the idea of “Epitaphs for Earthlings” sprang into my mind. I do try hard to keep my spirits up & not to think deeply despairing thoughts about the fate of the Earth & the fate of us poor dumb humans – but from time to time, I lose the battle, at least temporarily.

This was one of those times.

Anyway, here is my little list of short & snappy possible tombstone words that creatures from outer space might see if, one day, they’re taking a look at our dear (by then irreparably damaged & human-less) planet & wondering what the heck the 2-legged critters did to mess it all up so disastrously.

  • WHAT A WASTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


p.s. Being “down in the dumps” is a bit epidemic right now, I think. There’s no point pretending things aren’t in a horrific mess; they are! But I can’t see much point in wallowing in misery. Hence, my 3 recent postings aimed at generating laughter – here, here & here

Quote of the Dayused with this post: “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair & utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” – Woody Allen


05 2011

Fukushima – Prevent the Next One!

Greenpeace International is asking all human beings who want to help prevent another major nuclear disaster to take action now.

The campaign information about it can be found here

Simple enough to send a letter, hmmm?

Please do!!

& then help out more by spreading the word…okay?


P.S. There are 2 sections on this blog that pertain to nuclear issues. Proposed steam generator shipments from Canada to Sweden. Go here to find a list of postings. And here for postings about the recent Darlington hearings into the possible construction of 4 more reactors at Darlington, on the shores of Lake Ontario (& not very far from Toronto – Canada’s largest city).

But not until after you’ve signed the petition, please!!

P.P.S. An often-visited section of this blog is the ‘Quotation Central one. There is a collection of nuclear-related quotations here.

P.P.P.S. Here is the quotation I was searching for, to use today, but couldn’t find when I wanted it. But I love that Einstein one about evil… This one is a gem too.


This is a story about four people named EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY and NOBODY. There was an important job to be done and EVERYBODY was asked to do it. EVERYBODY was sure SOMEBODY would do it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got angry about that because it was EVERYBODY’s job. EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY wouldn’t do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done.


05 2011

DARLINGTON Hearings: Final Comments by Dr. Edwards

** Posted with Dr. Edwards’ permission. May 17th was the deadline for all who took part in the recent Darlington hearings to send in final comments. ALL Darlington submissions can be found here (doing sorting on columns & using FIND will help you locate exactly what you are looking for). Lots of blog postings about the Darlington hearings here )

NOTE: These comments are a succinct indictment of nuclear energy, written by a man who is not only technically brilliant & totally understands what he is talking about (unlike many of the people who populate the nuclear industry!) but who is also articulate as heck! Highly recommended reading!!

Final Written Comments on Darlington “New Build” Project

By Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President – Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

The Radioactive Nub of the Problem

Every nuclear reactor is not only a machine that produces electricity, but one that mass-produces staggering quantities of highly radioactive and/or highly radiotoxic materials that did not exist in nature in measurable amounts prior to the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938.

The fission products, together with the activation products and the transuranic elements that are created inside every operating nuclear reactor, constitute a unique threat to the environment of living things and – under conditions where these materials are released in significant quantities – have the capacity to poison large land areas and large bodies of water, rendering them unsuitable for human use for very long periods of time.

This being so, there should be no more siting of new nuclear reactors on the shores of the Great Lakes or in the neighbourhood of large population centres.To advocate or authorize the building of new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site in 2011, knowing what has happened at Chernobyl and at Fukushima, is not only unwise but could be seen as a crime against future generations. It is certainly contrary to the precautionary principle.

The review panel cannot in good conscience exempt Ontario Power Generation from the responsibility of characterizing the worst possible accident scenario at the proposed new Darlington reactors – partial or complete core meltdowns coupled with partial or complete loss of containment.

To paraphrase the California Energy Resources and Conservation Development Commission, the belief that nuclear power reactors are acceptably safe is based not so much on scientific evidence as on engineering euphoria.(The Commission made a similar statement with regard to the “safe disposal” of irradiated nuclear fuel.)

Nuclear Power is Inherently Dangerous

Around the world, nuclear regulatory agencies are allied with the nuclear industry to work together in a common effort to make nuclear energy an economically viable and “acceptably” safe energy choice.Although they may try to deny it, the fact of the matter is that there is zero tolerance in these organizations for any anti-nuclear attitudes among staff, while pro-nuclear attitudes are considered normal, healthy, and even desirable.Thus there is a strong inherent bias in both the industry and in the regulatory bodies that nuclear energy is fundamentally desirable and safe.

As the President’s Commission on Three Mile Island concluded, however, the number one cause of the TMI accident was the false belief – prevalent among workers and managers alike – that nuclear energy is inherently safe.According to the Presidential Commission, headed by John Kemeny, there will surely be future meltdowns caused by a combination of human error and equipment failure unless this attitude is fundamentally changed.

Workers and managers must see nuclear power as an inherently dangerous technology.But this flies in the face of the industry PR message – aimed at the general population and their elected representatives — that nuclear energy is safe.This is the exact message emblazoned on the cover of the latest Annual Report from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) where one reads:

FACT: Nuclear in Canada is safe.

Such a message from any nuclear regulatory agency anywhere in the world would indicate that that agency is “unfit to regulate” – a term used by the British Columbia Medical Association in Chapter 22 of its publication, “The Health Hazards of Uranium Mining”.

A regulatory agency that does not even draw a distinction between a “fact” and an “opinion” is not worthy of public trust.Such an agency has chosen to act as a public relations arm of the industry rather than as an agency that seeks to enlighten the public about the very real dangers associated with nuclear power – dangers which make the existence of a federal regulatory agency necessary in the first place.

Meltdowns are Inevitable if Cooling is Inadequate

It is a fact that any nuclear power reactor currently operating will undergo a core meltdown if deprived of adequate cooling for a long enough period of time.The reason for this is that the radioactivity created by the fission process during normal operation generates about seven percent of full-power heat.For a 1000 (electric) megawatt reactor, the heat output is about 3000 (heat) megawatts.Thus, immediately after shutdown, the radioactivity in the core of the reactor continues to generate about 200 megawatts of heat – more than enough to melt the core of the reactor at a temperature of about 2800 degrees Celsius.

The essential point is that this radioactivity cannot be shut off.Thus the “decay heat” produced by the enormous inventory of radioactive poisons in the core of the reactor is literally unstoppable.As more heat is added, the temperature rises higher and higher, and the only way core-damaging temperatures can be prevented is by removing the heat just as rapidly as it is being produced.With a complete loss of on-site and off-site electrical power, thus becomes impossible.Such a circumstance, while unlikely, can be brought about by a variety of abnormal conditions, ranging from natural disaster, to acts of warfare, to deliberate sabotage, to devastating fires in the electrical systems of the reactor, to simple mechanical failures with or without human error.

Even before fuel melting begins, the cladding will begin melting at about 1200 degrees Celsius, as zirconium metal (Zr) combines with steam (H2O) in a strongly exothermic (heat-generating) reaction to produce zirconium oxide (ZrO2) and large quantities of hydrogen gas that can result in powerful explosions.

This is all very basic science, yet none of it is communicated to the public or to their elected representatives by the regulatory agency or by the proponent in language that can be easily understood by the lay person.

To withhold this information is an act of intellectual dishonesty that is unconscionable, and the panel should not accept this as permissible behaviour on the part of the proponent or the regulator.

Misuse of Mathematics Leads to Self-Deception

Nuclear proponents and regulators often rely on a technique called “probabilistic safety analysis” in order to persuade themselves and others that certain accidents — the very accidents that would make nuclear power completely unacceptable – do not need to be considered because they are so unlikely to occur.

While probabilistic safety analysis is a useful technique for comparing competing mechanical or electronic designs, or for assisting engineers to appreciate sequences of events (mechanical failures) that could have major undesirable consequences, it is entirely unscientific and a misuse of mathematics to use this technique to assert that certain types of reactor accidents are so unlikely to occur that their consequences need not be considered.

Anyone who studies probability theory knows that an event that cannot be imagined ahead of time cannot be given any probability at all.Thus the probability of such an event is, to the analyst, “ZERO”.

Probability theory begins by creating a real or imaginary list of all possible outcomes that can be foreseen.This is called the Sample Space.Then the analyst assigns probabilities to each outcome by estimating its expected frequency of occurrence, based on a number of mathematical assumptions that are sometimes (but not always) rooted in experience.

No one denies that this is a useful exercise.However, in actual fact, the probability of almost all nuclear accidents that have so far occurred is in fact ZERO, because none of them were foreseen as possible outcomes by any of the people who carried out the safety analysis initially.

Did anyone foresee the possibility of Fukushima Dai-ichi units 1, 2, and 3, suffering core damage simultaneously?Did anyone foresee the chain of events that led to the fires in the spent fuel bay of unit 4?I think not.

Even if such outcomes had been analyzed in advance, the real probability of that particular outcome is dominated by the probability of the earthquake and tsunami that precipitated the outcome, and that probability is incalculable by any reliable scientific method available to us.

Simple Prudence Dictates….

Arrogance is inappropriate, even criminal, in the face of such incipient dangers.Science and engineering are powerful and useful tools, but they are no substitute for common sense.Just as many people around the world are asking themselves, “Why would the Japanese site nuclear reactors so close to an earthquake zone?”, our grandchildren may well be asking themselves, “Why would our forebears site nuclear reactors so close to the most precious body of freshwater in North America, and perhaps in the entire world?”

Simple prudence, coupled with a sense of responsible humility, should tell us that it is folly to continue to site nuclear reactors which are CAPABLE of undergoing such terrible meltdown scenarios, on the Great Lakes or near large population centres.In fact an enormous portion of the entire North American population lives within the “striking distance” of a potential nuclear catastrophe on either side of the border.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry

We urge the panel to recommend that the government of Canada launch a pan-Canadian Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Nuclear Power in Canada.We urge the panel also to recommend that all licensing of new nuclear reactor facilities be suspended until the Commission has completed its work.We further urge the panel to recommend that no new nuclear reactors be sited on the shores of the Great Lakes unless it can be proven beyond any doubt that a catastrophic release of radioactive fission products is physically impossible.

It is time to stop hiding the truth about the dangers of nuclear power from the Canadian population and from their elected representatives.A Royal Commission of Inquiry will allow the facts to be made public – facts about both the benefits and the hazards of this technology.On the basis of a clear understanding of those facts, Canadian citizens and their elected representatives will be enabled for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age to make an informed choice about the future of this heavily-subsidized energy option.

Note from Janet: Please visit the Web site of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility to find TONS of good information about everything nuclear!



05 2011

Steam Generators: Update!

I haven’t been keeping the blog updated with all the steam generator news; my apologies! (Lots of postings on this topic here)

I think it was back in March that Bruce Power announced it was delaying their plans in order to consult with First Nations groups. Ah yes. Here is the Bruce Power news release about it.

This was a rather amusing claim for them to make, given their very cavalier attitude toward public consultation of ALL kinds as regards this project. (They had to be dragged kicking & screaming into doing any public consultation whatsoever. Their failure to consult with First Nations communities was particularly notable, although also notable was the complete failure to consult with anyone in the province of Quebec – communities, mayors, First Nations or even the entire provincial government!? Of course Ontarians were also similarly ignored, as far as that goes.)

So. I’ve had a good chuckle over their claim that they want to consult with First Nations & Métis groups. A person a little less polite than I might call this nonsense (or use an even less polite word!).


So now, they have withdrawn their application for a permit to the U.S. Department of Transportation. They need this permit since the ship they hope to send with the radioactive steam generators would pass through American territory on its route.

Not sure why it took them quite so many weeks after their decision to do more consultation to withdraw this application. Almost 2 months, by my count.

Frankly, it all smells pretty fishy to me.

But at least the shipment project seems to have lost a little bit of steam.

Heh heh.

(You can go here to see a recent news item about the latest development in this steam generator saga. Here is Bruce Power’s brief statement about it.)

Wish I could believe that this is the end of the road for this horrendously stupid idea. Alas, I fear it is not…


P.S. A day after I posted this, I received an email message that told me what’s REALLY keeping Bruce Power from proceeding full steam ahead (as you might say) on their plans. It’s POLITICS. (I should have known!!) Ontario is only months away from holding a provincial election. It looks very much as though our governing Liberal party (remember: this is Ontario provinical politics I am now talking about) has told Bruce Power to cool their jets on it for the time being. No doubt the governing Liberals (the ones who have promised to spend $36 billion on new nukes) don’t wish to have the proposed steam generator shipment become an election issue. I knew the explanation given publicly by Bruce Power smelled awfully fishy!!


05 2011

Great Lakes Clean Energy Roundtable (May 14/11)

I attended this excellent event last Saturday in Dearborn, Michigan. It was sponsored by Sierra Club – S.E. Michigan Group, Sierra Club of Canada, Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear Issues Committee & Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination

Lots of great speakers!! (Full agenda is below.)

Here are links to YouTubes of 4 of the presentations. These are excellent presentations, btw, & I recommend that anyone who wants to understand the current nuclear scene in North America watch them. The Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents also inevitably come up.

Keynote presentation by Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (touches on all aspects of the nuclear issue: history of the nuclear industry, the difference between radiation & radioactivity, internal vs. external radiation, children in Japan now being exposed to as much radiation as atomic workers in Germany, deliberate obfuscation used by the nuclear industry, “engineering euphoria,” the fact that all discoveries about health impacts come from outside the nuclear industry, etc. etc.)

Presentation by Lynn Ehrle (Chair of the International Science Oversight Board of the Organic Consumers Association) on the new book about the Chernobyl accident. (The book is called Chernobyl – Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko & Alexey V. Nesterenko.) The posting I did on April 26th gives details on how to order the book, & since it costs only $10. per copy,  I recommend it!

Presentation by Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear: Radioactive Roulette on the Great Lakes: Davis-Besse Plant (the nuclear hot spots map to which he refers can be found on the Beyond Nuclear site here )

Presentation by Michael J. Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes – Dangers of Nuclear Energy & the Fermi 3 Plants in Monroe, Michigan.



8:30 - Registration
9:00 – 9:10 - Welcome
9:10 – 9:25 - Lynn Ehrle, Chair of the International Science Oversight Board of the Organic Consumers Association: “A Critical New Book on the Human Health and Environmental Impacts of Chernobyl”
9: 30 – 9:45 - Music – Victor McManemy, Great Lakes Songwriter and Musician
9:50 – 10:40 - Keynote Speaker: Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: “Radioactive Contamination of the Earth – Accidental or Deliberate?”
10:40 – 11:00 -  Break
11:00- 11:40 - Brennain Lloyd, Community Organizer with Northwatch: “A Deep Radioactive Dump Beside Lake Huron?”
11:45 – 12:25 - Kevin Kamps and Gordon Edwards: “Radioactive Wreck: U.S. and Canadian Nuclear Waste Policy”
12:25 – 1:10 - Lunch
1:10 – 1:50 - Michael Keegan, Chair, Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes, “Why We Should Oppose a New Reactor in Monroe, Michigan.”
1:55 – 2:15 - Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Beyond Nuclear “Radioactive Roulette on the shores of the Great Lakes: Davis-Besse”
2:20 – 2:35 - Greg Laskowsky, Lead Instructor, Energy Technology, Energy and Technology Department, Henry Ford Community College: “Henry Ford Community College’s Renewable Energy Program – A History and Introduction.”
2:35- 2:50 – Break
2:50 – 3:30 - Kathleen Law, Former Michigan legislator who introduced the first European-style legislation in North America, since adopted by Ontario: “How to Make Clean Local Energy Accessible”
3:35 – 4:05 - Full Panel on relevant legislation and ways to impact government on energy issues
4:05 – 4:25 - Questions from the audience
4:25 – 4:45 - Closing – followed by music, Victor McManemy
4:45 – 5:00 - Visit with speakers, visit tables


05 2011

Who’s to Blame?

Things seem to be in a mess, don’t they? Environmental disasters. Economic disasters. Wars. You name it. There’s no end to the problems.

It could drive you crazy, thinking constantly about all that’s “wrong” in the world.

It’s easy within our own personal relationships to do a lot of arguing & blaming & fighting, too, I think.

I recently came across a creative & cheeky way to deal with the question, “Whose fault is it?”

In What On Earth Have I Done? Stories, Observations, and Affirmations, author Robert Fulghum (of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten fame) suggests a very fun approach used in his household. Every member of the household (even their housekeeper) has her/his own day of the week to take responsibility for whatever goes wrong. Someone forgot to buy milk? Well – must be my fault; Thursday’s my day to be responsible for whatever goes wrong.

It sounds kind of crazy, I know, but it’s worth a try. It turns out to be fun! I experimented with it last weekend on an adventure-filled road trip with a couple friends, & it gave us lots of laughs.

As Fulghum puts it at the end of his essay (& I highly recommend the book; his essays are always worth reading),

“There are a lot worse ways to live together with other people. I know. I’ve tried them.”

I don’t think we can quite solve all the world’s problems this way. But then, only a naïve person would even believe that all the world’s problems are solvable. (Some of us are terminally naïve, aren’t we??)

In the Fulghum household, apologizing & grovelling a little go along with the taking of responsibility. I think we should all try out this approach!

After all, apologies are pretty magical. (In my books, anything that leads to transformation is magical, & I’ve definitely seen apologies transform situations & relationships. Great quote on apologies: “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” (Margaret Lee Runbeck) Other things that are magical on ‘janet’s planet’ are walks, music/singing, friendship, books/reading, & … well, the mind is blanking right now, but since plenty of things are clearly transformational, you can fill in the blanks for yourself!)

In a whole lot of ways, the human race seems to be crawling around at the bottom of a pretty nasty, murky swamp.

Bitching & carping & blame-laying are not swamp-exiting maneuvers, I think.

Taking responsibility, & apologizing, & humour, & fun &, well, some hard work, too, of course… offer us much greater potential, I think.

What the heck, eh?

Gotta be worth a shot, at least.


p.s. other postings of potential relevance:


p.s. Some possible ‘Quotes for Today’:

“I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.” ~ Robert Fulghum (not sure where I picked this one up. Not in the book under current discussion, though, for sure! Just happened to run across it while trolling through my 88-page ‘Quotations’ document.)

“Saving our civilization is not a spectator sport.” – Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute)

“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“I can’t understand why people are afraid of new ideas, I’m afraid of the old ones.” – John Cage



05 2011


Have you heard about the Awesome Foundation??

I did, a few months ago.

Here is what they say about themselves:

“The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences is an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.

Created in the long hot summer days of 2009 in Boston, the Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is given upfront in cash, check, or gold doubloons by groups of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees,” who form autonomous chapters around geographic areas or topics of interest.

The Foundation provides these grants with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. It is, in the words of one of our trustees, a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.

Since its humble beginnings, many Awesome Foundation chapters have sprung up globally to conserve, sustain, and support the worldwide ecosystem of awesomeness. Projects have included efforts in a wide range of areas including technology, arts, social good, and beyond.

We’re still waiting for something with dinosaurs (hint, hint)”

So. Bottom line is, they have chapters all over the place (Toronto included) & once a month they throw $1000 at ideas they feel are “awesome.”

If you have an awesome idea, check it out, people!!


P.S. ‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “The universe oozes with power, waiting for anyone who wishes to embrace it.” – mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme, author of The Universe is a Green Dragon, quoted in Matthew Fox’s The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance (Pg. 40)


05 2011

Beyond Nuclear (surely it’s time??)

This blog post title has a dual purpose. I want to suggest that surely it’s time we human beings went beyond nuclear??

& it’s the name of a (U.S.-based) group of that name that does tons of work on nuclear issues with tons of good info on its Web site, which I am delighted to promote.

In case you’re not yet convinced it’s time to go beyond nuclear, check out the handy (downloadable) pamphlet 10 Reasons to Say No to Nuclear Power

Many other similarly awesome & useful downloadable pamphlets are found here

Nuclear Reactors – Additional Resources (& tons of ‘em! – including the Nuclear Awareness Project ‘Great Lakes Nuclear Hot Spots’ map & Dr. Gordon Edwards & Robert Del Tredichi’s ‘Nuclear Map of Canada’)


Also, plenty of info about Fukushima on the Beyond Nuclear site

AND, a must-see 3:27 minute video here

I’m sure there are many other excellent Web sites with a ton of good info about all topics nuclear.

2 others that spring immediately to mind are:

There is also a great weekly publication called No Nukes News (you can subscribe; go to the site & find out how)

And lots of very quotable quotes about nukes here


P.S. I’m a relative latecomer to the anti-nuclear scene. Always been anti-nuke, far as I can recall, but only in the past few years actually active on it. The recent Darlington hearings (which got underway a mere 10 days after the nuclear disaster began in Japan) convinced me that all the nuclear industry’s resources need to focus from here on in on proper storage & handling of the already-existing & still-to-be-created nuclear wastes that will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years, & on safe decommissioning of current nuclear facilities. This alone will challenge the nuke industry (& all of humanity) for all the rest of our days. My own presentation at the hearing is here

P.P.S. A selection of items on the topic of nukes & climate change here

P.P.P.S. Quote of the day w. this post: “We know we face extinction if nuclear war ever begins. But we face the same extinction even if the bombs never fall. The production alone of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is initiating the death crisis of our species.” – Dr. Rosalie Bertell



05 2011

Who Knew??

<Jan. 15/11>

Just got the idea to do a bunch of “Who knew??” items. We’ll see where this goes….

  • Who knew I’d develop an addiction to latté – live without it for weeks & weeks at a time while out in the boonies (at “home”), but buy one almost daily while in Toronto? And discover a crazy (& surely unaccountable) price range. The place at the corner of Dundas & McCaul (near the Art Gallery, a handy spot for which I had such high hopes) charged me $5. for one. Sure won’t be darkening their door again!?
  • Who knew that, at the age of 56, I’d sell my dear little house (it really was a dear little house) & become a virtual nomad? Proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that you can indeed teach an old(ish) dog new tricks…
  • Who knew that after more than 20 years as an environmental activist, I’d learn of a new (old) issue & become so fired up about it? (I’m referring of course to the lead issue, my latest issue-to-be-fired up-about.)
  • Who knew that the lead industry would turn out to be as venal & nasty as the nuclear one? & who knew that I spent so many years being so darn naïve that if naivete were an indictable offence, I’d have been thrown in the slammer years ago for my fatal case of it?
  • Who knew that, as it turns out, the lead & nuclear industries have so much in common?
  • Who knew that the wonderful vegetarian restaurant ‘The Commensal’ in Toronto (right near the bus terminal at Bay & Dundas) serves beer?? OMG – I think I’ve died & gone to heaven!!
  • Who knew that microwave popcorn contains a chemical called diacetyl that is used to enhance taste, & that this chemical causes a horrid lung disease to the workers who are exposed to it? Yikes! (Learned this from the book Dodging the Toxic Bullet, mentioned below.)
  • Who could ever have told me that 16 years into a very (perhaps even prize-winningly) civil/civilized divorce, there would still be so darn much pain involved?? Not over the loss of the person so much as over all the other related, inevitable losses, fallout & “collateral damage.” Yikes. Who knew, indeed… (Funny. I wanted to make a joke about this in my remarks at the recent Darlington (new nuclear) hearings. I was tempted to say “We’re talking here about nuclear waste that will be horrifically dangerous/life-threatening for 100s of thousands of years. And I thought the fallout from my divorce was long-lived!?)
  • Who knew how much awesome fun I’d wind up having, & the amazing friendships I’d wind up making, when I began to “follow my bliss” & became an environmental activist & writer?
  • Who knew 20 years ago that “…lake trout in the alpine lakes at Banff National Park in Canada…are loaded with toxic pesticides used in Russia”?? (This from David Suzuki’s foreword to the David R. Boyd book Dodging the Toxic Bullet – How to Protect Yourself from Everyday Environmental Health Hazards.) Yikes. & sheesh, is about all I can say on that score (also, I’m mighty glad about all that work I did as a volunteer to help educate others about pesticide use. That was sure a good call!)
  • Who knew that the author of the Toxic Bullet book just mentioned would wind up with a headache & burning eyes during his “Toxic Tour” of Sarnia, Ontario’s “Chemical Valley”? Again, yikes, & sheesh, & very happy I’m engaged in environmental work. Sure feels a whole lot better than just sitting around expecting it all to stop on its own (or, alternatively, pretending it isn’t happening).
  • Who knew that Canada, so widely regarded as a civilized country (Americans in particular seem to harbour some grand illusion about how good we are up here… & civilized. Ha!), would actually repeatedly earn truly deserved fossil fuel awards. And, like the U.S. & Australia, continue to allow a wildly toxic pesticide (atrazine) to be used (unlike the European Union, which has banned its use). Oh Canada indeed! We of the “corrupt petrostate” designation… The tar sands: our national disgrace & scandal (excellent documentary on it here)
  • Who knew I would come to be sooooooo sadly disillusioned about how “great” Canada is, & how self-interested our governing political party is? (John Kenneth Galbraith’s quote “The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness” springs helpfully to mind here.)
  • Who ever-ever-ever knew that my knee-jerk proclivity to be … natural? … would protect me from so many harms? I’ve never much cared for wearing make-up (turns out most of it is full of toxic stuff) or perfume (chemicals) & have felt like a weirdo anytime I’ve ever put on lipstick. Gave up dry-cleaning eons ago (had heard about perchlorethylene being vastly toxic, not to mention one of the “dirty dozen” we need to studiously avoid); have used clotheslines & a clotheshorse for years (to save money, but it also saves energy & thus helps with the climate change issue) – & it turns out that dryer sheets (which I used to use once upon a time occasionally, but also gave up eons ago when my favourite appliance repairman dude told me they can cause a fire in your dryer) contain dangerous VOCs – volatile organic compounds – & am always too “poor” to spend money on painting & renovations – which, it turns out, can also be a minefield of toxins (go here for how to renovate with care).

Seems as though “modern” life is awfully mighty toxic… so glad I have never felt obliged to “keep up!” (Although of course I do breathe in the same polluted air & drink the same tainted water as everyone else.)


P.S. & finally, who knew that that dysfunctional childhood of mine would wind up giving me so many useful lifelong habits? My not-very-nice father hated the ads on TV with a fierce passion – & was wildly, shall we say frugal – & these influences of his have helped me far more than I can say. Being independent of all those darn ads – & adept at living frugally …well, what can I say? Except a belated thank you to that not-very-nice father for some of his wildly useful & lasting attitudes!!

Quote of the day w. this post: “The single most important contribution any of us can make to the planet is a return to frugality.” – Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations


06 2011

Pema for President! / Pema’s … Pause

<May 21/11>

So, it’s Victoria Day weekend in Canada, as I write this. I have a bit of a history of feeling a wee bit lonely & hard done by on long weekends – imagining, as I am wont to do, everyone else on the planet having an uproariously, raucously wonderful time with dearly beloved friends & family. (Yes, quite the imagination, hmmm? )

For sure, I’ve been here before! My unusual & occasionally muddled-seeming life hasn’t turned out quite the way I’d ever had in mind. Mostly I enjoy my considerable freedom, love my life & think of it as a grand, unpredictable adventure…but “long weekends” generally bring out the maudlin in me…if only ever so briefly.

But hey! I can also be pretty smart! I picked up my new copy of Pema Chödrön’s Taking the Leap Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits & Fears, & started re-reading it. I bought it a few weeks ago, read it in one big gulp (the way I read most things) & laid it aside on my bedside table.

In Chapter 1 of the book, Pema introduces the idea of taking a 3-breath pause several times a day. She suggests that this can get us in touch with our “natural openness, the spaciousness of our skylike minds,” & she also says doing this can help us to stop “strengthening the aggression habit…”

Mmmmmmm. Now that sounds like a pretty fine idea.

For sure, I needed reminding about the pause. I have a pretty busy mind, & pausing to take 3 breaths once in a while really helps bring me back down to Earth.

I’m a big Pema fan. Her words are always gentle, wise, & above all, immensely practical.


Ahhhhhhhhhhh how the moods come & go, hmmmm?

It is very seldom that I feel lonely or hard done by – very seldom indeed.

When one of these feelings does pay a visit, I know enough now to know that they never stick around for very long.

Thanks, Pema, for the pause idea. It really helps!

And thanks too, to Eckhart Tolle, for his simple reminder “This too will pass.”

Hurray for this soooooooooo helpful pair!!


P.S. I wrote about both of these two quite recently – Pema here & Tolle here

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Sanity is permanent; neurosis is temporary.” – Chögyam Trungpa (from Pema Chödrön’s Taking the Leap Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits & Fears)



06 2011

Judging Others…

An elephant asks a camel, “Why are your breasts on your back?”

“Well,” says the camel, “I think that’s an inappropriate question from somebody whose dick is on his face.”




06 2011

Nuclear Accidents List

Just saw this list in an Earth Island Journal post by Gar Smith that you can read here

Please read it!!

This is just the list, lifted from the post & pasted in. But you need to read the whole blog post item, so please do!!

  • United Kingdom (1957): Windscale reactor fire contaminates 35 workers. Radioactive cloud covers Northern Europe and causes at least 200 cases of cancer.
  • Soviet Union (1957): Radioactive explosion at Mayak reprocessing site forces evacuation of 10,000 people. Radiation contributes to deaths of 200.
  • USA (1975): Alabama’s Browns Ferry plant catches fire and burns for seven hours with two reactors running. Meltdown feared as fire destroys controls.
  • USA (1979): Partial core meltdown at Three Mile Island. Radiation released. Thousands evacuated.
  • USA (1981): California’s San Onofre plant closed for 14 months to repair 6,000 leaking steam tubes. During restart, plant catches fire, knocking out one of two back-up generators.
  • United Kingdom (1983): Beaches near Sellafield (formerly Windscale) nuclear processing plant closed due to radiation contamination.
  • Soviet Union (1986): Chernobyl explosion. World’s worst nuclear accident – so far. Estimates of associated deaths run from 9,000 to nearly one million people.
  • Japan (1997): Chain reaction at Tokaimura reprocessing plant exposes 37 workers and surrounding neighborhoods to radiation.
  • Japan (1999): Two workers killed at Tokaimura during unplanned chain reaction.
  • Japan (2004): Steam explosion kills four at Mihama reactor.
  • Sweden (2006): Short circuit disables emergency power at Forsmark reactor. Catastrophic core meltdown barely averted.
  • France (2008): Tricastin nuclear facility accidentally releases 18,000 liters of irradiated water.


As the article/post states, the above list is only a partial one.

Sobering as heck, isn’t it?


Quote of the day with this post: “Is the minor convenience of allowing the present generation the luxury of doubling its energy consumption every 10 years’ worth the major hazard of exposing the next 20,000 generations to this lethal waste?” – David Brower

p.s. Lots of excellent nuke-related quotes here



06 2011

Playing with Plutonium: It’s Bananas!

p.s. on May 15/14: an essay on the banana nonsense here.

Many thanks to Bruce Power & the Canadian Nuclear Association for this latest blog post idea. Thanks a bunch, dudes!!

A recent news item (presumably motivated by a news release sent to the media by the Canadian Nuclear Association) makes the outlandish claim that the quantity of radioactive contaminants in the 16 radioactive & school-bus-sized steam generators that Bruce Power wants to ship from Canada to Sweden (with considerable risk to the Great Lakes, supplier of drinking water to 40 million) is equivalent to the amount of radioactivity in 50 bananas.

What?????? Say again??

(For anyone who has not previously heard about this preposterous nuclear industry plan, please have a look at the post “Recycling: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.”)

This banana business is absurd!! I went on-line to check it out & found a Wikipedia entry here called “Banana Equivalent Dose.”

And I quote: “A banana equivalent dose is a whimsical unit of radiation exposure, informally defined as the additional dose a person will absorb from eating one banana. It may be sometimes abbreviated as BED.

The concept is based on the fact that bananas, like most organic material, naturally contain a certain amount of radioactive isotopes—even in the absence of any artificial pollution or contamination. The banana equivalent dose was meant to express the severity of exposure to radiation, such as resulting from nuclear power, nuclear weapons or medical procedures, in terms that would make sense to most people.”

The entry goes on to state “the validity of the banana equivalent dose concept has been challenged. Critics, including the EPA,[8] pointed out that the amount of potassium (and therefore of 40K) in the human body is fairly constant because of homeostasis,[9] so that any excess absorbed from food is quickly compensated by the elimination of an equal amount.[1][10]

It follows that the additional radiation exposure due to eating a banana last only for a short period after ingestion, not for 30 days (half-life) as implicitly assumed when using the EPA conversion factor.”

& a great deal more. (Check it out!)

What this is really all about is the nuclear industry trying to minimize the danger of their products – & their very, very, very long-lived resulting nuclear wastes. They do this all the time. They try to make those of us who oppose their activities sound like a bunch of irrational wackos.

So their latest gambit is “Shoot! Our 16 radioactive steam generators are as safe as/only as dangerous as 50 bananas!”

Horsefeathers, ladies & gentlemen. To put it very, very politely.

Another recent article reveals that “…radioactive emissions from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the early days of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster might have been more than twice as large as a previous estimate, suggesting the accident was more grave than the government had publicly acknowledged.”

Yikes. Who we gonna trust, eh??? Not the nuclear industry, I’d say (& not government either, but let’s leave that one aside for the moment).

I don’t expect anyone to just trust me, either. Check out some facts (not factoids, which is the best you generally get from the nuclear industry).

Here is a partial list of the radioactive contaminants found inside a used steam generator from one of the Bruce reactors. (Please note that the information comes from Ontario Power Generation, the arm of the Ontario government that is ultimately responsible for nuclear generation & transmission.)

Here is a shorter list that focuses on the plutonium isotopes.

Here are “15 things citizens need to know” about the radioactive steam generators.

& here is an entire Web site section focused on plutonium.

Plutonium is a very, very, very long way from being as innocuous as bananas – no matter what Bruce Power will try to tell you. It’s NASTY. Nasty & dangerous, & integral in the creation of nuclear weapons.

Its dangers & risks should not be minimized. Not if you are being even the slightest bit upfront with people.

So. In response to BP’s latest preposterous claim, apparently aimed at demonizing bananas & whitewashing radioactive wastes, I offer up some new bumper sticker phrases/suggestions:

  • Playing with Plutonium: It’s Bananas!
  • Bananas Are a Bomb! (Not)
  • 50 Bananas: What a Bomb!
  • BP: This Plan is Bananas!
  • Sexually active…or RADIOactive?
  • Is That 1,000 Bananas in Your Pocket…or are you just trying to lie about deadly radiation??
  • Have you ding-dongs forgotten about the Titanic????


p.s. A whip-smart colleague says “Let’s talk about the real numbers – which are that EACH steam generator has a dose rate of about 80-100 microsieverts PER HOUR (100 uSv/ hr) on contact (reference CNSC CMD 10-H19C, page 3, section 4.2.1 which says “Most of the dose rates from the steam generators were less than 100 microsieverts per hour (uSv/hr) on contact.”)

He continues, “We know that these steam generators are not all alike – some are more radioactive than others – “the maximum contact dose rate measured on a small area of one of the steam generators was 740 microsieverts per hour and the maximum dose rate measured AT ONE METER from the surface of the steam generators was 80 uSv/hr”  (reference CNSC CMD 10-H19C  Sept 27,  2010, page 3,  section 4.2.1). Note that this was the revised estimate to be 740 microsieverts per hour.

“It is curious that the Canadian Nuclear Association would chose to use the banana as a dose, which has been discredited on the science of the estimate. It is also curious that even using this ridiculous measure, they got the numbers WRONG! In the popular literature one banana has been equated to a dose of 0.1 microsieverts and we know that the dose rate for most of the steam generators is about 80-100 microsieverts PER HOUR. So if they wanted to use this ridiculous measure, then the correct answer would have been 800 to 1000 bananas PER HOUR for EACH generator – and there are 16 steam generators proposed to be shipped.

This way of expressing risk seems like a lot of bananas!”

p.p.s. Bruce Power (& its backer, the Canadian Nuclear Association) say BP wants to “do the right thing.” The first “right” thing to do would be to stop spewing nonsense & start telling the truth. The second? Get on back to school & brush up on the math, dudes, pullllllese! Third: Put this stupid, preposterous, dangerous, absurd & ill-conceived plan right where it belongs. In the trash can. Bury it… (the plan, not the waste).

p.p.p.s. There are many other postings about the steam generators here

p.s. # 4: & yikes!! Check out a news item here about a small boat hired by Bruce Power that sank in Lake Huron last week. Never mind the Titanic; this was just a tiny boat. Holy moley, dudes. And we’re supposed to just trust you on a plan to put 16 school bus-sized radioactive steam generators on a ship & sail it halfway around the world??? I don’t think so…

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Nuclear power is safe only if no Act of God is permitted.”  – Nobel-prize-winning physicist Hannes Alfven, 1972



06 2011


<May 31/11.>

Been thinking about heroes lately. I guess we all need heroes, eh?

We all need people we can look up to…right?

Actually, we’re pretty much wired to “look up” from the moment we’re born. Our parents are our first heroes. They’re our very gods & goddesses … from Day 1! (I guess that’s why the mistakes they make & our resulting neuroses/psychoses are so stubborn & lifelong, usually. To transcend or transmute them takes work…a heck of a lot of effort & energy & determination & guts & work. No wonder not all of us are up to it!)


What I really want to muse on here is men & their (apparent) need to be heroic.

I do believe men want to be seen as (at least somewhat) heroic to their womenfolk. And that this is utterly natural.

We human beings evolved for a very different world than this one, hmmm? In the old, old, really old days (from today’s vantage point, although not so very long ago, in geological terms), men were the brave hunters, in our tribal gathering/hunting days. (Maybe women have always been considered somewhat … heroic or special? … for our life-giving & nurturing qualities?? Perhaps. Except, of course, when we haven’t been. But I digress.)

Okay. So, I think our men want/need to be heroes.

It doesn’t always work out so well…does it?

I muse on my own relationships with men – & the kind of relationship I still aspire to. The men I’ve loved have been heroic to me – in one major, pivotal way or another. I’ve witnessed the disaster that can result when someone goes crashing off his (or presumably her) pedestal. I’ve also seen how even continued & sincere love, admiration & respect can only take you so far. When they run smack dab into a man’s deep & persistent self-loathing (or a woman’s, as the case may be), it might as well be a lead barrier. Some things even love can’t penetrate…apparently.

No one ever said life was simple, did they??

(& btw, I believe men do have a need to be perceived as heroes, & if we women who love our men treat them with cavalier disregard, or even contempt – as I see some women doing – we can hardly be surprised if their spirits more or less shrivel up. Patriarchy has damaged women for thousands of years. Fact. Turning it around & behaving as though two wrongs are suddenly, miraculously going to make a right, is not going to paint any prettier a picture…hmmm?)

Well. So. Men need to be heroes.

What do women need?

To be beautiful? Rich? Brilliant? Accomplished? Admired?

Well, maybe. Maybe those are some of the things some women need (or think they need).

Mostly, I think what women REALLY want & need, is…

To talk (& be heard).

Talk & talk & talk & talk & then, talk some more.

Since a lot of men seem to be wired to ACT – & even somewhat frequently, perhaps, to act without thoughtfully considering the consequences of their actions (what I refer to as the Ready- FIRE!!-Aim syndrome) you’d think that the marriage of women & men (or female & male qualities) would be one made in heaven, wouldn’t you?

An idea dawns.

People start talking about it.

Discussing it. Weighing the pros & cons.

Conversation… & lots of it.

Then, when lots of good thinking & discussion have taken place… Action!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we humans had always properly valued the unique strengths & contributions of both sexes??

And given simple conversation its rightful due?



p.s. on Oct. 26th, so, 4 months later… I keep musing on things, & the other day I came up with this little addition. Dunno if it’s true or not…you decide! Men want to be heroes. Women want to serve. Hmmm. Maybe what we want is not so very very different…

p.p.s. For an utterly hilarious poke at the way women & men think & talk to one another (& utterly, utterly, utterly fail to communicate), DO read the brilliant Dave Barry essay here

p.p.p.s. Odd coincidence, if you want to call it that.  I wrote down these thoughts about heroism early in the day, & then later in the day watched the documentary film ‘The Battle of Chernobyl.’ Although I’d heard of the Chernobyl “liquidators,” I’d had no idea how many of them there were, or where they came from, or the scope of the work they did, post-Chernobyl accident 25 years ago (April 26, 1986). Now, speaking of heroism… those men were heroes. (You can watch the film on-line here. And I highly recommend that you do, in this post-Fukushima world we now inhabit. I won’t lie & tell you it’s an easy film to watch. It isn’t. But I’d consider watching it anyway. If it does nothing else for us, & does not motivate us into taking any kind of action, at the very least it will surely make those of us who live where there has not been a nuclear accident (yet) feel actively grateful for that fact. And the more gratitude we feel, the better – in my books, anyway!)

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “What we need now is heroes – millions of them. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” – Paul Watson

Runners-up: “Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other, so that the world may come into being. Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.” – P. Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955)

“It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human soul; it is kindness.” – Henri-Dominique Lacordaire

“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman



06 2011

Maude Barlow: Stop radioactive waste shipment!

Press Release………For Immediate Release……………..June 13, 2011.

Maude Barlow urges Swedish Minister of the Environment to stop radioactive waste shipment

In a letter dated June 13, 2011, Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians urges Swedish Minster of the Environment Andreas Carlgren to intervene and revoke Studsvik’s permit to transport the radioactive shipment.

Canadian company Bruce Power plans to ship 16 bus-size radioactive steam generators from the Great Lakes in Canada to Nyköping, Sweden. Bruce Power is contracting Swedish company Studsvik to transport and decontaminate 90% of the steam generators and free release the scrap metal into the consumer market.

Barlow, who was the Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly, warns, “With Studsvik’s plant in Nyköping, the recycling of this radioactive waste will further pollute the waters of the Baltic Sea, which is already known as one of the most radioactive seas in the world… This is the first of several shipments that threaten the North Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, Canadian and US lakes and other bodies of water.”

The shipment of radioactive waste has drawn criticism from city mayors, US senators, environmental organizations and First Nation and other communities. The radioactive levels of the steam generators also exceed legal limits set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material by 50 times. The shipment sets a dangerous precedent. Michael Binder, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, has admitted that there has never been a shipment of this magnitude on the Great Lakes before. Public consultation in Canada, the US and Europe has been inadequate.

In April, 20 European civil society organizations sent a letter to Canadian, US, UK, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish governments demanding a stop to Bruce Power’s plan to ship radioactive waste.

Bruce Power has delayed the shipment to consult with First Nations in Canada. While Bruce withdrew their application to the US Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in May, Bruce Power and Studsvik still have permits with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Swedish Radiation Authority respectively to transport and decontaminate the radioactive waste.


For More Information:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685,, Twitter: @CouncilofCDNs


06 2011

Fukushima: The Big Lies Fly High (Karl Grossman )

A friend sent me this article & link. At this point, I don’t have permission to post it, but I suspect that the author & the keepers of the Web site, like me, just want to keep the important news circulating, so I’m going ahead – giving, of course, full credit to the author & the Web site. (I’m notifying the keepers of the Counterpunch Web site via email that I am posting this.)

The Big Lies Fly High

Fukushima and the Nuclear Establishment


The global nuclear industry and its allies in government are making a desperate effort to cover up the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. “The big lie flies high,” comments Kevin Kamps of the organization Beyond Nuclear.

Not only is this nuclear establishment seeking to make it look like the Fukushima catastrophe has not happened – going so far as to claim that there will be “no health effects” as a result of it – but it is moving forward on a “nuclear renaissance,” its scheme to build more nuclear plants.

Indeed, next week in Washington, a two-day “Special Summit on New Nuclear Energy” will be held involving major manufacturers of nuclear power plants-including General Electric, the manufacturer of the Fukushima plants-and U.S. government officials.

Although since Fukushima, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and other nations have turned away from nuclear power for a commitment instead to safe, clean, renewable energy such as solar and wind, the Obama administration is continuing its insistence on nuclear power.

Will the nuclear establishment be able to get away with telling what, indeed, would be one of the most outrageous Big Lies of all time-that no one will die as a result of Fukushima?

Will it be able to continue its new nuclear push despite the catastrophe?

Nearly 100 days after the Fukushima disaster began, with radiation still streaming from the plants, with its owners, TEPCO, now admitting that meltdowns did occur at its plants, that releases have been twice as much as it announced earlier, with deadly radioactivity from Fukushima spreading worldwide, and with some countries now changing course and saying no to nuclear power, while others stick with it, a nuclear crossroads has arrived.

“No health effects are expected among the Japanese people as a result of the events at Fukushima,” the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry trade group, flatly declared in a statement issued at a press conference in Washington last week.

“They’re lying,” says Dr. Janette Sherman, a toxicologist and contributing editor of the book Chernobyl: The Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009. Using medical data from between 1986 and 2004, its authors, a team of European scientists, determines that 985,000 people died worldwide from the radioactivity discharged from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The Fukushima disaster will have a comparable toll, expects Dr. Sherman, who has conducted research into the consequences of radiation for decades. “People living closest to the plants who receive the biggest doses will get sick sooner. Those who are farther away and receive lesser doses will get sick at a slower rate,” she says.

“We’ve known about radioactive isotopes for decades,” says Dr. Sherman.

“I worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1950s and we knew about the effects then. To ignore the biology is to our peril. This is not new science. Cesium-137 goes to soft tissue. Strontium-90 goes to the bones and teeth. Iodine-131 goes to the thyroid gland.” All have been released in large amounts in the Fukushima disaster since it began on March 11.

There will inevitably be cancer and other illnesses-as well as genetic effects-as a result of the substantial discharges of radioactivity released from Fukushima, says Dr. Sherman. “People in Japan will be the most impacted but the radiation has been spreading worldwide and will impact life worldwide.”

The American Nuclear Society, made up of what its website says are “professionals” in the nuclear field, is also deep in the Fukushima denial camp. “Radiation risks to people living in Japan are very low, and no public ill effects are expected from the Fukushima incident,” it declares on its website. As to the U.S., the Illinois-based organization adds: “There is no health risk of radiation from the Fukushima incident to people in the United States.”

Acknowledging that “radiation from Fukushima has been detected within the United States,” the American Nuclear Society asserts that’s because we are able to detect very small amounts of radiation. Through the use of extremely sensitive equipment, U.S. laboratories have been able to detect very minute quantities of radioactive isotopes in air, precipitation, milk, and drinking water due to the Fukushima incident.The radiation from Fukushima, though detectable, is nowhere near the level of public health concern.”

Says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, “The absurd belief that no one will be harmed by Fukushima is perhaps the strongest evidence of the pattern of deception and denial by nuclear officials in industry and government.”

The World Health Organization has added its voice to the denial group. “For anyone outside Japan there is currently no health risk from radiation leaking from the nuclear power plant,” Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman, has insisted. “We know that there have been measurements in maybe up to about 30 countries [and] these measurements are miniscule, often below levels of background radiation.and they do not constitute a public health risk.”

WHO, not too incidentally, has a formal arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in place since both were established at the UN in the 1950s, to say nothing about issues involving radiation without clearing it with the IAEA, which was set up to specifically promote atomic energy. On Chernobyl, together in an initiative called the “Chernobyl Forum,” they have claimed that “less than 50 deaths have been directly attributed” to that disaster and “a total of up to 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.” That nuclear Big Lie precedes the new nuclear deception involving the impacts of Fukushima.

As to background radiation, Dr. Jeffrey Patterson, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Public Health, says: “We do live with background radiation-but it does cause cancer.” That’s why there is concern, he notes, about radon gas being emitted in homes from a breakdown of uranium in some soils. “That’s background [radiation] but it’s not safe. There are absolutely no safe levels of radiation” and adding more radiation “adds to the health impacts.”

“There has been a cover-up, a minimization of the effects of radioactivity since the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology,” says Dr. Patterson. Meanwhile, with the Fukushima disaster, “large populations of people are being randomly exposed to radiation that they didn’t ask for, they didn’t agree to.”

Dr. Steven Wing, an epidemiologist who has specialized in the effects of radioactivity at the School of Public Health of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, said: “The generally accepted thinking about the safe dose is that, no, there is no safe dose in terms of the cancer or genetic effects of radiation. The assumption of most people is that there’s a linear, no-threshold dose response relationship and that just means that as the dose goes down the risk goes down, but it never disappears.”

Of the claims of “no threat to health” from the radioactivity emitted from Fukushima, that “just flies in the face of all the standard models and all the studies that have been done over a long period of time of radiation and cancer.”

“As the radiation clouds move away from Fukushima and move far away to other continents and around the world, the doses are spread out,” notes Dr. Wing. “But it’s important for people to know that spreading out a given amount of radiation dose among more people, although it reduces each person’s individual risk, it doesn’t reduce the number of cancers that result from that amount of radiation. So having millions and millions of people exposed to a very small dose could produce just as much cancer as a thousand or a few thousand people exposed to that same dose.”

He believes “we should be focusing on putting pressure on people in government and the energy industry to come up with an energy policy that minimizes harm,” is a “sane energy policy.” Those who have “led us into this situation” have caused “big problems.”

And they are still at it-even with radioactivity still coming out at Fukushima and expected to for months. On Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington, the “Special Summit on New Nuclear Energy” will be held, organized by the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council.

Council members include General Electric, since 2006 in partnership in its nuclear plant manufacturing business with the Japanese corporation Hitachi.

Other members of the council, notes its information on the summit, include the Nuclear Energy Institute; Babcock & Wilcox, the manufacturer of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant which underwent a partial meltdown in 1979; Duke Energy, a U.S. utility long a booster of nuclear power; the Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. government-created public power company heavily committed to nuclear power; Uranium Producers of America; and AREVA, the French government-financed nuclear power company that has been moving to expand into the U.S. and worldwide.

Also participating in the summit as speakers will be John Kelly, an Obama administration Department of Energy deputy assistant for nuclear reactor technologies; William Magwood, a nuclear power advocate who is a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Matthew Milazzo representing an entity called the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future set up by the Obama administration; and Congressmen Mike Simpson of Idaho, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee Interior & Environment and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chairman of the House Energy & Power Subcommittee, both staunch nuclear power supporters.

Other participants, according to the program for the event, will be “senior executives and thought leaders from the who’s who of the U.S. new nuclear community.” Bruce Llewelyn, who hosts “White House Chronicle” on PBS television, is listed as the summit’s “moderator.”

There will be programs on the “State of the Renaissance,” “China, India & Emerging Global Nuclear Markets,” “Advancing Nuclear Technology” and “Lessons from Fukushima.”

As the nuclear Pinocchios lie, the nuclear promoters push ahead.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, has focused on investigative reporting on energy and environmental issues for more than 40 years. He is the host of the nationally-aired TV program Enviro Close-Up and the author of numerous books.

Source of this item

P.S. Lots of great nuke-related quotes here


06 2011

Near Life Experience

A friend & I were walking together the other day & the term “near death experience” came up. For some reason the phrase “near life experience” popped right into my head.

And what immediately followed was the thought that I suspect there are people so afraid of living – really, really living, full out – that they might as well be having a near life experience.

Me, I like to think I live full out. Not afraid to die (or not super-afraid, at any rate!), not afraid to live.

(I wonder if the people who hang so tenaciously onto life – fear death & can’t seem to let go – have also for the most part been afraid to live for most of their lives. Afraid to die… because they’ve never really lived.)

Heck, I dunno. Just speculating here.

I do think it’s too bad that so many of us seem to spend so much of our lives being afraid. Afraid to live, afraid to take risks, afraid to make changes, afraid to tell the truth…etc. etc.

But then, the wise folks tell us we’ve been living in a fear-based culture for thousands of years.

Sounds pretty right-on to me!

Here’s to life (Life!) experiences – not sad, pathetic near-life ones!!


P.S. I wrote about a “near death experience” here.

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Safety is the most unsafe spiritual path you can take. Safety keeps you numb and dead. People are caught by surprise when it is time to die. They have allowed themselves to live so little.” – Stephen Levine



06 2011

Fukushima: Worse than you think

Not exactly what you want to hear, I’m sure…but I never said I was running a popularity contest here!

Please take a look at the Web site of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance & consider signing up for the “No Nukes News” (the latest issue of which is where I saw Fukushima being described as worse than you think).

The latest issue (dated June 20th) is dynamite – as are all NNN issues!

It always has great quotations & links to a # of articles on the global nuclear scene.

Current issue has many items relating to the Fukushima disaster, info on the current Nebraska flooding/nuke situation & a link for an article about Canada being poorly prepared for nuclear emergencies.

Sign up!


P.S. There is a petition you can sign here (this info is also from the No Nukes News).

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind” – Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president (lots of other great nuke-related quotes here)


06 2011

Awesome / You Made My Day! (take 2)

Sooooo cool.

Just picked up a copy of The Book of Awesome & want to buy about 100 copies & hand them out to everyone I know – & any sad-eyed strangers I happen to meet.

Such a wonderful idea & book!!

(I hadn’t checked out the 1000 Awesome Things Web site. Though I have my own blog, I’m usually kept pretty busy just writing/working/processing routine emails & things, so I don’t “surf” the Internet, really, at all.)

I happened to be in a bookstore to pick up another book, & spotted The Book of Awesome & couldn’t resist.

The book made me smile – & laugh – & even brought a tear to my eye & … listen!

The world’s in lotsa trouble. Heaven alone knows what’s coming around the next bend. Could get pretty awful! We need to work to keep our spirits up (at least that’s what I think!)

Get yourself a copy of The Book of Awesome &/or borrow a copy from the library &/or from a friend, & … you will not be sorry!


P.S. Just a few awesome things the author enjoys that I do as well:

  1. Popping bubble wrap (page 29)
  2. Bakery air (page 48)
  3. Using hotel lobby bathrooms when you’re out walking around (page 55)
  4. A long hug when you really need it (page 176)
  5. When you hear someone’s smile over the phone (page 260)
  6. The first shower you take after not showering for a really long time (page 325)
  7. Finding money in your old coat pocket (page 365)

Well. I could go on….

Just buy/borrow the book & give yourself a little joy, willya??

P.P.S. ‘You made my day’ take 1 is here & ‘Awesome!’ take 1 is here

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb



06 2011

Letting Go / Hanging On / Zen

Sitting in a hospital Emergency Room recently, I finally read the cute tiny “Zen” book(1) I bought years ago but hadn’t yet read.

It has this version of a ‘Zen story’ I’d heard in a slightly different form:

“A Zen monk and his student approached a wide river. On its bank stood a pitiful beggar. “I must cross, but I am afraid of drowning,” said the beggar.

“I will carry you,” replied the monk. His student did not trust the beggar and followed closely in order to protect his master, but soon the monk delivered the beggar to the far shore.

For one month, the student lamented his master’s lack of caution. Finally, he confronted the monk.

“I carried this man for a brief moment,” the monk laughed. “You have carried him for thirty days.”

Ahhhhhh yes. Letting go, eh??

Soooooo good for our souls…


p.s. Had this funny thought last night, eating my Korean meal with chopsticks: Heck, it’s easy to be Zen while eating with chopsticks. It slows you down so (well, it slows me down anyway; I am not terribly proficient with chopsticks!). The food might make it to one’s mouth on this attempt; it might not. Whatever

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1) Zen, editedby Julie Mars, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2002.


06 2011

Men Don’t Apologize

** p.s. on Jan. 20/14: just saw a neat Harriet Lerner article about apologies. Must-read!!


For some reason this phrase popped into my head this morning. It just seems … true. (Although it ought to go without saying that there are exceptions to every “rule,” & also that there are clearly also some women who don’t apologize…of course!)

A couple of recent experiences have brought this to the fore. Details not the slightest bit important.

Men & the lack of apologies are all tied in with patriarchy (in my opinion).

We’ve lived in a patriarchal culture for 5000 years (according to the “experts”) – & while many, many, many strides have been made by & for women in the past, oh, 40 or 50 years, you don’t wipe out an overwhelming, overarching system like patriarchy in a few short decades. If only!

After being told for generation upon generation that men are better than women – smarter than women – & ought to be & are in charge of everything on Earth – & after untold generations of war & male mistreatment of women & children (still ongoing today, of course, to greater & lesser degrees depending on the geography involved), male privilege & entitlement are very deeply ingrained indeed.

I know men who (still) clearly act as though they know everything about everything…& who are more than ready to pronounce (ostensibly knowledgably) on subjects about which they actually know absolutely nothing. Even when you put inconvenient facts & truths right in front of them, they outright refuse to see the noses right in front of their faces.

It’s pretty astonishing to witness this!

(Now me, of course, I’d have been burned at the stake lickety-split in the old, old days, for being so darn “uppity.” So would many of the women I know & love best. We are a feisty bunch, & feistiness has not always been greatly valued … in women.)

Well. So. Back to apologies, eh?

If you’re from the so-called “superior” sex – & you’re assumed to know absolutely everything about absolutely everything (even though this is quite clearly impossible for ANYone on the planet, whatever one’s gender), & this has been burned into your consciousness from the day you were born (even though you might not be consciously aware of it), I guess it’s pretty darn hard to admit that there is something you don’t know, or might be wrong about, & should perhaps consider apologizing for.

I guess the men who are constitutionally incapable of allowing apologies to cross their lips haven’t ever heard these lovely words from Margaret Lee Runbeck: “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.”


There’s a man (or two) I feel could stand to offer me an apology (or two) for a thing (or two) he/they have done or said (& please know that I am quick to offer apologies myself when I screw up, which happens plenty, or I wouldn’t dare expect others to do so!) – but I’m not exactly holding my breath on hearing those lovely words “I’m sorry for that shitty stuff I did/said” because I know quite well by now that … men don’t apologize!


p.s. Of course, some men DO apologize, & thanks to the Universe for that!!! Some men are big enough to say those important words “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” – thank goodness!! And trust me, I am not remotely interested in seeing men being emasculated. One does not have a ton of respect for men who are doormats. Heck, one doesn’t respect people of either sex who have become doormats. Compassion for them? Sure. But not respect. (Making apologies does not make one less of a man – or woman, for that matter… It makes one more of one.)

p.p.s. Coupla relevant book recommendations that spring to mind: The Chalice and the Blade – Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler. Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn. Even the book I am currently reading, My Life So Far, by Jane Fonda, has a lot of very interesting stuff in it about female/male dynamics & the wheres & whyfors of war & some ways in which some of this old, awful stuff can be laid to rest. Ms. Fonda has had a fascinating (& inspiring!) life…& there are lots of great quotations in her book, too!!

p.p.p.s. Several months after I posted this, I posted an item called ‘Men: 12 Things I’ve Learned.’ [since re-named '12 Things I've Learned About Men.]

p.s. # 4: 6 months after posting this. Well hooey!! One of the men referred to as possibly owing me an apology, actually apologized to me. Change is always possible, isn’t it???

p.s. # 5: (2 years after posting this!?) I’ve recently experienced encounters with an increasing # of women who are not very quick to offer apologies. I guess the sexes are becoming more “equal.” Why is it this particular development (i.e., regarding apologies) is not making me feel happy about so-called “equality”??

p.s. # 6: see the note at top about the Harriet Lerner item. Really worth seeing!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

Runners-up for quote of the day:

“Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst.” – Walter Weckler

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin

“Anger is often more harmful than the injury that caused it.” – English proverb

“Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott in “Crooked Little Heart”



07 2011

Fukushima: The Crisis is NOT Over

I receive a lot of e-mail about nuclear matters. & do fairly frequent postings about nuclear matters, too. It isn’t as though I really want to think about this stuff, it’s rather that I feel compelled to do so. & to pass along some of what I am hearing about.

Here are some recent news item links:

Fukushima: The Crisis is not Over


Fukushima residents urine now radioactive


Radiation in Our Food

The ocean around large areas of Japan has been contaminated by toxic radioactive agents including cesium, iodine, plutonium and strontium. These radioactive agents are accumulating in sea life. Fish, shellfish and sea vegetables are absorbing this radiation, while airborne radioactive particles have contaminated land-based crops in Japan, including spinach and tea grown 200 miles south of the damaged nuclear plants. Meanwhile, on U.S. soil, radiation began to show up in samples of milk tested in California, just one month after the plants were damaged. Radiation tests conducted since the nuclear disaster in Japan have detected radioactive iodine and cesium in milk and vegetables produced in California. According to tests conducted by scientists at the UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering, milk from grass fed cows in Sonoma County was contaminated with cesium 137 and cesium 134. Milk sold in Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Vermont and Washington has also tested positive for radiation since the accident. Additionally, drinking water tested in some U.S. municipalities also shows radioactive contamination. Is the fallout from Fukushima Daichi falling on us? Yes, it is.


Fukushima children test positive for internal radiation exposure

Traces of cesium-134 and 137 isotopes found in urine tests on 10 children in city near stricken nuclear power plant


Dr. Helen Caldicott: Fukushima Meltdown Much Worse Than Chernobyl


Nuclear Power and Women

Decisions on nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear wastes are almost exclusively made by men, yet the brunt of nuclear-caused cancer is suffered by women & children, as is the brunt of nuclear war, & of depleted uranium spread.

Fallout! (do watch this!!) A 13 minute, 60-Minutes video report on Fukushima & Chernobyl

Second Japan Nuke… More Dangerous Than Fukushima? 10 minute video interview with Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear (also a must-see!)

Who Controls the Nuclear Control Agencies? Not as recent an item, but highly relevant still!

Note: Most of these items came from 2 recent issues of the No Nukes News – to which you can subscribe if you wish. Check it out! (& btw, both recent issues have plenty more good items in them!!)

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Anyone who has one iota of a brain or humility could only conclude that nuclear power is insane!” – Anne Hansen


07 2011

Bike Ride (& Life)

So, I set out on this bike ride recently, & it was really windy. I had my heart set on a long ride to a particular destination – but I knew if I biked that long way east, I’d wind up fighting the strong wind my whole way back.

Well, I really wanted that long ride, so away I went. Had the longest bike ride I’d had in years.

Headed back & oh dear, it was a bit of a brute. I thought “Well, I guess it probably makes sense to stay on Lakeshore Road; it will be more direct & straighter than the Waterfront Trail.”

But oh…the traffic lights…the reflected heat off the pavement, & most especially, the stress of watching for cars. The cars, cars, cars, cars.

I thought, “Frig it. I’m going back down to the trail, & the lake, & more direct/faster route be damned.”

So I did.

& back down on the trail, on & near the lake, it was heavenly. Trees, shade, beauty – I barely even noticed the wind!

It could have gone badly, of course. I could have wound up regretting my choice.

But you know?

If I have to tackle a challenging “assignment” – bike ride, Life – I’d sure rather do it the slower, prettier, more fun & more pleasant way. Life’s too darn short to do it the hard, slogging way.

That’s what I think, anyway.


‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” – Victor Frankl


07 2011

Sept. 24: A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels!

“Moving Planet is a worldwide rally to demand solutions to the climate crisis—a single day to move away from fossil fuels. For too long, our leaders have denied and delayed, compromised and caved. That era must come to an end.

Come on bike, on skates, on a board, or just on foot. Come with your neighbors and your friends, your family and your co-workers. Come be part of something huge. It’s time to get moving on the climate crisis.”

Check out the site here for more info!

‘Quote of the day w. this post: “So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kickstart 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!” – Chip Giller, founder of


07 2011

Weeding, Walking & Overthinking

Been doing a little garden weeding lately. One of the thoughts I’ve had while doing so was that I bet the ‘creeping charley’ “weed” in many relationships is probably simple lack of appreciation of one’s partner (or call it “taking one another for granted”; take your pick!). Another thing: sometimes you pull a weed & are taken aback by all the root it brings along with it. So much going on underground, not obvious or even visible to the naked eye. We humans have a lot going on down underground too, don’t we? We are kind of like icebergs. So much going on underneath, at the subterranean level…


Well, on my walk this morning (too hot, too hot!!), my thoughts were all over the map – although admittedly, this is not terribly unusual. What’s unusual is my doing a blog post that is basically a jumble. So shoot me!


One thought was that I feel kind of pulled in two lately. There are things I sort of feel I “should” be doing, given the state of the world (which is, in short, pretty scary! Economic disasters, nuclear disasters, climate change…need I go on??). But my heart seems to be pulling in the opposite direction. What is a person to do??

Well – I usually allow my heart to lead, so I guess I’ll keep right on doing that. One step at a time, one day at a time. As fully “in the moment” as I can be.

Which reminds me of something else that keeps coming into my mind lately.


I suspect most of us overthink. We think we can “control” things – ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, etc. – so we make intricate plans, many of which fall apart spectacularly on a moment’s notice when circumstances (i.e., real life) comes along & says “Oops – sorry! Best change those plans!!”

I’ve learned (the hard way of course, the way I seem to learn all my lessons) that while one does of course have to make plans in this life, there is sure not much point in being overly invested in them!

I sometimes see people building up an elaborate set of interconnected arrangements, all based on one particular assumption that very early in the game proves to be utterly mistaken. Oops! Back to Square 1.

Too many plans/assumptions/expectations/judgments… all keeping us from living “in the moment” (see ‘Zen story,’ below, to get a real pointer to in-the-moment living).


A thought about breaking all the rules also came to mind. I seem to be constitutionally incapable of playing life “by the rules.” It isn’t willfull – it’s just apparently wired very deeply in me, this inability to stay “inside the lines.” I’m very, very poor at conformity. I’ve tried, honest!

I used to feel a little apologetic about this. Not anymore. Turns out quite a few people envy me my life for its freedom. So now, instead of apologizing for my unusual life, I’m doing my best to celebrate it.

It also occurred to me that there are some folks who fault me for not playing “by the rules.” If playing by the rules is what our corrupt governments & corporations are doing routinely (seems to be, eh?), well what can I say?? Doesn’t look so much like it’s working, exactly, from where I sit.


And, since being an anti-nuclear activist is part of my “job description,” as it were, I can’t help but make a segue to the nuclear industry. Now there’s an industry where a little (or a lot) of overthinking might have been a good thing, eh??

Instead of thinking far down the road to the consequences their shenanigans & thoughtlessness/arrogance would lead to, these characters have relied (continue to rely) on what my friend Steve calls “technological optimism.” They are filled with “engineering euphoria” (thanks, Gordon, for that gem). This industry has poisoned our Earth so thoroughly that I am no longer able to even imagine much of a future for the human race (of course, between climate change, nuclear pollution & a devastated ocean/water bodies of all kinds, hope just seems to keep receding & receding, doesn’t it?)

What is a person to do??

I know I did a blog post with that title once upon a time. Maybe I’ll re-read it now, & hope I said something in there insightful enough that it will help me now.

On that note, here ends this jumble of a blog post!


‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “We are not meant to fit in, we’re meant to stand out.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

P.S. Two great authors very worth reading on the subject of living in the moment, with links to posts I’ve written about them:

P.P.S. The ‘Zen story’ I promised: “A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man then saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other…………… How sweet it tasted.”


07 2011

Uranium Mining: Nukes’ Little Secret

The nuclear industry has all sorts of secrets (& lies).

One of the big ones is the nastiness of uranium mining: the environmental damage it causes, the human health impacts, & the messes it leaves behind.

I’m not particularly knowledgeable about it, so I’m not going to say much. Just going to point readers to a few sites where they can learn more.

The U.S.-based Earthworks group has a 2-pager called “Uranium Mining 101.” You can find it here.

Earthworks also has a longer report on uranium mining, called “Nuclear Power’s Other Tragedy - Communities Living with Uranium Mining.”

There is a very powerful & disturbing 12-minute YouTube about uranium mining in Australia here. I want to praise this tiny film for its hard-hitting lessons & world-renowned experts (Dr. Rosalie Bertell & Dr. Helen Caldicott). I also want to warn potential viewers about its very disturbing images of babies born with severe birth defects caused by in-utero exposure to depleted uranium (a man-made substance that personifies evil, in my view). Well worth seeing & sharing around.

The book “This is My Homeland” (edited by Lorraine Rekmans) is about the impacts of uranium mining on the Anishinabe people of the Serpent River watershed, near Elliot Lake, Ontario (Canada). It’s a moving story, well told, in a diversity of voices.

You can also find plenty of information about uranium (& lots of other nuke-related topics) at the Web site of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.


p.s. the 47-minute NFB (National Film Board) documentary “Uranium” is a fabulous resource & introduction to this topic!!! Watch it on-line here

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “You can guarantee that mining uranium will lead to nuclear waste. You can’t guarantee that mining uranium will not lead to nuclear weapons.” Anthony Albanese, Australian Labour Party, quoted in New York Times, Aug. 2, 2006


07 2011

Tar Sands: Civil Disobedience Called For

Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Wendell Berry Call for Civil Disobedience on Tar Sands

From June 23rd, original found here

Today, a group of eleven leading activists and environmentalists released a letter calling for people to join them in Washington DC this August to take part in civil disobedience to help stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Want to join in? You can sign up to take part here.

Dear Friends,

This will be a slightly longer letter than common for the internet age—it’s serious stuff.

The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.

The full version goes like this:

As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.

And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.

These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a  certificate of ‘national interest’ to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.

To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta, disrupting ways of life in indigenous communities—First Nations communities in Canada, and tribes along the pipeline route in the U.S. have demanded the destruction cease. The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art’ technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These  local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.

How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per million.  Even with the new pipeline they won’t be able to burn that much overnight—but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out.  As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In other words, he added, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.” The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of the game. “Unless we get increased market access, like with Keystone XL, we’re going to be stuck,” said Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary, told a Canadian newspaper last week.

Given all that, you’d suspect that there’s no way the Obama administration would ever permit this pipeline. But in the last few months the president has signed pieces of paper opening much of Alaska to oil drilling, and permitting coal-mining on federal land in Wyoming that will produce as much CO2 as 300 power plants operating at full bore.

And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she’s ‘inclined’ to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it’s because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. TransCanada Pipeline, the company behind Keystone, has hired as its chief lobbyist for the project a man named Paul Elliott, who served as deputy national director of Clinton’s presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce—a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined—has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” which is not so surprising—they’ve also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can ‘adapt their physiology’ to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.

So we’re pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington.  A wonderful coalition of environmental groups has built a strong campaign across the continent—from Cree and Dene indigenous leaders to Nebraska farmers, they’ve spoken out strongly against the destruction of their land. We need to join them, and to say even if our own homes won’t be crossed by this pipeline, our joint home—the earth—will be wrecked by the carbon that pours down it.

And we need to say something else, too: it’s time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces.

We don’t have the money to compete with those corporations, but we do have our bodies, and beginning in mid August many of us will use them. We will, each day through Labor Day, march on the White House, risking arrest with our trespass. We will do it in dignified fashion, demonstrating that in this case we are the conservatives, and that our foes—who would change the composition of the atmosphere are dangerous radicals. Come dressed as if for a business meeting—this is, in fact, serious business. And another sartorial tip—if you wore an Obama button during the 2008 campaign, why not wear it again? We very much still want to believe in the promise of that young Senator who told us that with his election the ‘rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet start to heal.’ We don’t understand what combination of bureaucratic obstinacy and insider dealing has derailed those efforts, but we remember his request that his supporters continue on after the election to pressure the government for change. We’ll do what we can.

And one more thing: we don’t want college kids to be the only cannon fodder in this fight. They’ve led the way so far on climate change—10,000 came to DC for the Powershift gathering earlier this spring. They’ve marched this month in West Virginia to protest mountaintop removal; Tim DeChristopher faces sentencing this summer in Utah for his creative protest.  Now it’s time for people who’ve spent their lives pouring carbon into the atmosphere (and whose careers won’t be as damaged by an arrest record) to step up too. Most of us signing this letter are veterans of this work, and we think it’s past time for elders to behave like elders. One thing we don’t want is a smash up: if you can’t control your passions, this action is not for you.

This won’t be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for several weeks, to the date in September when by law the administration can either grant or deny the permit for the pipeline. Not all of us can actually get arrested—half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside Canadian consulates in the U.S., and U.S. consulates in Canada—the decision-makers need to know they’re being watched.

Winning this battle won’t save the climate. But losing it will mean the chances of runaway climate change go way up—that we’ll endure an endless future of the floods and droughts we’ve seen this year. And we’re fighting for the political future too—for the premise that we should make decisions based on science and reason, not political connection.  You have to start somewhere, and this is where we choose to begin.

If you think you might want to be a part of this action, we need you to sign up here. As plans solidify in the next few weeks we’ll be in touch with you to arrange nonviolence training; our colleagues at a variety of environmental and democracy campaigns will be coordinating the actual arrangements.

We know we’re asking a lot. You should think long and hard on it, and pray if you’re the praying type. But to us, it’s as much privilege as burden to get to join this fight in the most serious possible way. We hope you’ll join us.

  • Maude Barlow
  • Wendell Berry
  • Tom Goldtooth
  • Danny Glover
  • James Hansen
  • Wes Jackson
  • Naomi Klein
  • Bill McKibben
  • George Poitras
  • David Suzuki
Gus Speth

p.s.—Please pass this letter on to anyone else you think might be interested. We realize that what we’re asking isn’t easy, and we’re very grateful that you’re willing even to consider it.

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy, it is absolutely essential to it.” Dr. Howard Zinn

P.S. from me: I’ve blogged about the tar sands before. The post here lists some good viewing if you want to learn more about the awfulness of the Alberta tar sands horror.


07 2011

Asbestos: Enough Already!

*** Great 1 1/2 minute Rick Mercer rant on asbestos here!!

I’ve had a # of e-mail messages recently about the Canadian government’s refusal to engage on this issue with any integrity. Our so-called “leader” (Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper) has once again embarrassed Canadians on the world stage.

The Green Party of Canada has been running a “We’re sorry” campaign. From a recent GPC message:

“On Friday, June 24, the Conservative government once again embarrassed our country on the international stage. Canada alone prevented the United Nations from adding chrysotile asbestos to the global list of hazardous substances.

Here in Canada, we won’t allow asbestos in our homes and offices. We are spending millions to remove it from our Parliament buildings. We know asbestos is hazardous.

Yet year after year our government refuses to let the world officially recognize it as hazardous, because they want to continue to export it to developing countries without even a warning label.

Our government has behaved shamefully on this issue.”

The Canadian Nurses Association recently passed a resolution to Ban the Mining, Production, Use and Export of Asbestos and Other Measures to Reduce Loss of Life From Asbestos-Related Disease.

The Prevent Cancer Now group has also been campaigning on this issue. They have plenty of resources on it hereincluding fact sheets, newspaper article links & suggestions for individual & group action.

From the Prevent Cancer Now Web site: “The following Canadian organizations have called for a ban on asbestos:

Prevent Cancer Now, Ban Asbestos Canada, Breast Cancer Action Montreal, Breast Cancer Research Education Fund, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Building Trades Council and all provincial building trades unions (including Quebec), Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Canadian Union of Public Employees, CARWAH (Canadian Association of Researchers in Work and Health), Clean Production Action, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, MiningWatch Canada, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, Ontario College of Family Physicians, Ontario Teachers’ Federation, Prevent Cancer Now, Rideau Institute for International Affairs, Saunders-Matthey Cancer Prevention Coalition, Sierra Club of Canada, Toxic-Free Canada, Women’s Healthy Environments Network.”

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “…we mine asbestos, we ship it, we make money from it, and we’ll use every diplomatic trick in the book to defend this odious practice. We are the Ugly Canadians.” Globe & Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson June 25/11.


07 2011

Honorary Doctorates

<June 3/11>

On today’s glorious bike ride alongside Lake Ontario, it came to me that I’d like to award a series of honorary doctorate degrees to a number of individuals & groups/organizations that are fine upstanding examples of some wonderful (sometimes awful) human qualities/tendencies/achievements.

To the podium, PULLESE!

  • All my women friends – for doctorate degrees in “We sure know how to have fun!!” We have challenging families/lives/partners/jobs/divorces/illnesses/you-name-it – but we sure still know how to laugh & have fun!
  • Failure to thrive awards to a # of people for whom I feel considerable compassion for their persistent failure/refusal to grow & to open themselves up to the great joy & potential that is available to all of us here on Planet Earth – provided we choose to yank our heads out of our own backsides, choose joy, & learn to live in the present moment!
  • Ph.D.’s in Deliberate Obfuscation/Deceit to the nuclear industry in general (geez, probably MOST corporations, as far as that goes) & the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in particular for cloaking their operations in secrecy & deceit & junk science & high-falutin’ pseudo-scientific jargon so “average” citizens will stay away in DROVES – & allow them to keep right on with their planet-destroying, nuclear waste-creating, inevitable nuclear accident-making (& clearly very-very-very profitable) efforts to ruin our beautiful planet forever. Creeps.
  • Ph.D.’s in human excellence to the 10’s & 100’s & 10’s of 1000’s of stubborn, brave, determined souls who do NOT ignore the evidence of our eyes & ears that our wonderful, incomparable, abundant, beautiful planet is being hacked & polluted to bits. We may lose “the war” but we will sure go down trying!!! & caring, & being inspired by one another to keep right on keeping on.
  • Ph.D.’s in Pooh-Poohing to all those people/institutions feeling the need to persistently pooh-pooh (& otherwise block) any signs of growth or inspiration or change among the people/institutions in their lives – & who hang on to their power, such as it is – in their too-often successful attempts to impose their own failure to grow/change/evolve on people & a world they only claim to love & care about. Bums.


‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Don’t fight forces – use them.” – Buckminster Fuller

Runners-up:“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955) & “Life is change…Growth is optional…Choose wisely…” (Karen Kaiser Clark) & “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the one most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” (Charles Darwin)


07 2011

Lead Resolution: Canadian Nurses Association

At their recent Annual General Meeting, the Canadian Nurses Association passed several environmental resolutions.

You can find the resolution about The Prevention of Childhood Lead Poisoning in Canada Occurring from Exposure to Lead-based Paint and Other Domestic Sources of Lead here.

If you are like many people I encounter & understand very little about the lead issue, here are 2 things to know:

  1. You are not alone!
  2. There is plenty of information about lead on this blog. All the posts are listed & linked here. Plenty of useful resources included, from YouTubes to articles & good Web sites.

They say knowledge is power. They also say ignorance is bliss.

I say, what we don’t know can very definitely hurt us!

The lead issue is not a pretty one. But it won’t go away just because we pretend it isn’t there.

When a conservative group such as a national nursing organization endorses a resolution on a health matter like this one, you know it’s time to listen up!


P.S. Great quote about lead: “Lead moves us down the stupid scale and doesn’t let us come back.” - Stephen Collette, environmental building consultant & certified building biologist


08 2011


“Life seldom proceeds in accordance with our careful plans.” So I am wont to pronounce from time to time. An original Janet McNeill quotation!!

Once upon a time, I had a tiny, perfect life – or so I fervently believed at the time. Then, one day, it blew right up in my face.

Marvellous fodder for personal growth, of course. For learning about control, & letting go, & living one day at a time (one moment at a time!) … & all that jazz.

I wrote a little essay once, quite a few years ago now, about how I’d gone to a restaurant for a very late Saturday afternoon lunch, with my heart (well, my stomach) set on having pizza. I wound up eating something else altogether – only because pizza was simply not on the menu. In other words, I really had no choice. It was out of my hands (rather the way my life seemed to have been for some time).

Well. Around the same time I was reading Thomas Moore’s book Care of the Soul(1).

In it he wrote “This … dream reminded me of another I had heard years before, in which a man was in a restaurant and ordered a steak; instead he was served a large platter of beans. That dream sounded like a Zen story to me and led me to reflect for a long time on the value of plain pedestrian food, especially when we consciously order up something more special. Life has a way of plopping extreme ordinariness in front of us when we are entertaining exotic gourmet daydreams.”

I just loved that.

He had utterly nailed something there that sure resonated for me!

So, there you go.


Beans happen!


‘Quote of the day’w. this post: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell, US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 – 1987)

(1) Care of the Soul – A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, Thomas Moore, HarperPerennial, 1994. A review here



08 2011

Nurses on Nukes: No More, thanks!

The Canadian Nurses Association passed 3 environmentally-oriented resolutions at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in June 2011. All the resolutions from the AGM are listed here

Here is the preamble to the one about nuclear energy:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) in collaboration with member associations

· Reaffirm support for the principles of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 specifically the precautionary principle in respect to fuels, air and water pollution

· Promote a moratorium on construction of new nuclear power plants and the phasing out of present nuclear reactors

· Lobby provincial/territorial and federal governments for funding to identify best practices for conserving and reducing energy consumption and for safer alternative energy resources.

You can find the rest of it here


P.S. Plenty of great quotations about nukes here


08 2011

Hiroshima Day: August 6, 2011

66 years ago the world entered a new age. The nuclear age.

The United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki (August 6th & August 9th), & if human beings had ever known innocence, it was surely lost when those bombs were dropped.

Archbishop DESMOND TUTU, Nobel Peace Prize winner, has recently said:


“We must not tolerate a system of nuclear apartheid in which it is considered legitimate for some states to possess nuclear weapons but patently unacceptable for others to seek to acquire them…

“Every dollar invested in bolstering a country’s nuclear arsenal is a diversion of resources from its schools, hospitals and other social services, and a theft from the millions around the globe who go hungry or are denied access to basic medicines…


“In time, every government will ….work to achieve a world in which such weapons are no more – where the rule of law, not the rule of force, reigns supreme………But SUCH A WORLD WILL ONLY BE POSSIBLE IF PEOPLE EVERYWHERE RISE UP AND CHALLENGE THE NUCLEAR MADNESS.”

If you’d like to learn a little more about the myth of the “necessity” of dropping the bombs on Japan to end World War II, you can go here to listen to a radio clip by Gar Alperowitz on Alternative Radio.

You can also read a book called Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial.

I will attend a Hiroshima Day event in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) on Hiroshima Day – my own small way of “rising up and challenging the nuclear madness.”



08 2011

Atomic Accomplice (Canada, that is)

Today, August 9th, 2011 marks the 66th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki (August 6th was the 66th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing).

By coincidence, I’ve recently (finally) been reading the book Atomic Accomplice – How Canada deals in deadly deceit, published in 2009 by award-winning Canadian journalist Paul McKay.

Its revelations are shocking – even to me, an anti-nuclear activist (only relatively recently focused on nuclear issues, mind you, after 20 years focused mostly on other issues).

I’ve written before about the tendency for Canadians to be a tad smug about how “great” we are. Funnily enough, lots of Americans seem to think we are somehow kinda special too. I don’t want to minimize how grateful I am to have been born in this beautiful, safe country. We do have universally accessible health care, & rights to free speech, & we do probably say “please” & “thank you” & “I’m sorry” more than the inhabitants of any other place in the world – but we are all deceived if we think our corporate & political spheres are any less corrupt & self-serving than those south of the border. Just think tar sands & climate change & asbestos, hmmm?

Well, McKay’s book blows us all right out of the water on the nuclear/global arms/nuclear weapons front.

“Canada has been dealing atoms since 1942, when the Mackenzie King war cabinet approved joining the Allied nuclear bomb effort known as the Manhattan Project. It supplied key ingredients to U.S. production plants and weapons laboratories making the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” (Page 15 of Atomic Accomplice.)

And, regarding uranium mining & sales, “With barely a word of international alarm, Saskatchewan has literally staked out and delivered thirty per cent of global uranium production. Rich new reserves promise to keep that market share for decades.” (page 104, Atomic Accomplice.)

There is a review of McKay’s book here

From a different review, though (which has somehow mysteriously disappeared from the Web since I posted this):

“Canada has been dealing atoms since 1942,” he says. “The prevailing myth is that these tragedies [Hiroshima and Nagasaki] ended Canada’s involvement with the military atom. This is false.” For 60 years, he says, Canada has participated in the global dispersal of weapons-related elements, technologies and secrets. Indeed, Canada has helped in the making of nuclear bombs for the United States, Britain, Russia, France, Israel, India and Pakistan and has “dealt atomic supplies and secrets” to Argentina, Taiwan, Romania, South Korea and Communist China.

“Canada now exports 7.3 million kilograms of uranium annually,” he says. “When fissioned in any reactor, this will create 19,000 kilograms of plutonium a year – or enough to make 2,300 warheads annually when extracted from the spent fuel. Canada’s annual exports also contain 52,000 kilograms of fissile uranium-235, enough to make 2,600 atomic bombs each year.

“Because it is essentially immortal, this embedded Canadian plutonium and U-235 will imperil global security for millennia because it will outlast, for all intents and purposes, the rest of human history.” Further: “Plutonium embeds a dimension of destruction that defies the human imagination. A fissioned mass the size of a stick of chewing gum can destroy a city.”

Canada is now the world’s leader in uranium exports and, therefore, the world’s leader in potential plutonium proliferation. These exports generate $1-billion a year in Canadian cash flow but bequeath to the world enough fissile material to make 5,000 nuclear warheads every year. “We are a Boy Scout nation,” Mr. McKay says, “with a very dirty secret.” (Globe & Mail review by Neil Reynolds, January 1, 2010.)

Canadians’ hands are definitively not clean, & the sooner we all get quite clear about that, surely, the better for all of us! As Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.”


‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Paul McKay’s Atomic Accomplice provides the history, science, and economic background of the purveyors of nuclear fuel and reactors, and outlines global future energy options to wean ourselves from non-renewable sources. In the end, he is correct in pointing out that only one nuclear furnace – our Sun – is an energy source that is effectively endless, and can promote both peace and prosperity.” – David Suzuki, scientist & broadcaster

p.s. Tons of good nuke-related quotations here, btw.



08 2011

Nuclear Roulette: let’s stop playing!!

Nuclear Roulette – The Case Against a “Nuclear Renaissance” is an awesome June 2011 publication I cannot recommend highly enough! The report, from the International Forum on Globalization, is # 5 in a series that focuses on “false solutions to the global climate crisis.”(1)

Good full review of it here (ordering info also available there).

So excellent – both the series, & this report on nukes.

The report project was already underway when the Fukushima disaster hit, & there is some excellent commentary about how that disaster fits into the global nuclear picture.

The foreword by Aileen Mioko-Smith of Green Action (Kyoto) lays out a summary of the 30-year history of anti-nuclear activism in Japan. Since the social & political cultures of Japan are quite different from those of North America, it makes for excellent learning. (On the Green Action blog there is a section devoted to Fukushima updates. Also on the Green Action site is a 5-minute YouTube about the August 7th benefit concert by the Musicians United for Safe Energy – MUSE – in Mountain View, California.

From the YouTube site: “On August 7th, musicians held a concert to support Japan disaster relief efforts, and organizations worldwide working to promote safe, alternative, non­-nuclear energy. The bill included Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz, The Doobie Brothers, Tom Morello, John Hall, Kitaro, Jonathan Wilson and Sweet Honey in the Rock.

“The disaster in Fukushima is not only a disaster for Japan. It is a global disaster. We come together now across cultural boundaries, political and generational boundaries, to call for changes in the way we use energy, and in the ways we conduct the search for solutions to the problems facing humanity,” says Jackson Browne. “We join with the people of Japan, and people everywhere who believe in a non-nuclear future.”)

Back to “Nuclear Roulette”…

The review here commentsWith the book’s rousing prologue, I thought it would climax with an appeal for massive civil disobedience. It does not go there all-out, perhaps because a Gandhian protest movement is barely glimpsed even by many activists in the U.S. Gandhi is quoted in Nuclear Roulette to showcase his awareness of resource domination and waste. Activist Mioko-Smith concludes her section wisely with “Should we take to the streets?”

“It’s not as if the problems and crises with nuclear power are new, such that a shocking report could bring about action. It is sad that nuclear’s evil and nasty poison have been on display — though hidden as best the moneyed interests and corporate media could do — for decades. Except for the unpleasant details of the Fukushima catastrophe, nothing new can be said. It is time for action. Yet, more people must become aware and motivated to act.

& adds: “The question, “who is this book written for” may be answered with “those who have an appetite for more information and who are willing to help put a handy new volume (a large, thin paperback booklet of 76 pages) into circulation.” Every home, school, library and workplace should have a copy of Nuclear Roulette for reference.”

My take is, this report packs a very considerable punch! You can learn enough about the global nuclear scene in this book to educate yourself & become part of the movement away from nuclear. Please go for it! (Please also share the report with friends, family, colleagues & neighbours. Why not also donate a copy to your local library? I did.)


P.S. Free download of the book here

‘Quote for the day’ w. this post: “The phrase ’spent fuel’ is one of those misleading terms that the nuclear industry is so fond of.  The “spent fuel” is millions of times more radioactive than fresh fuel.  When first removed from the reactor, a single spent fuel assembly can deliver a lethal dose of radiation in just a few seconds to any unshielded person within a metre or two.  In addition, each spent fuel assembly contains hundreds of different radioactive poisons which do not exist in the fresh fuel, but were created as unwanted byproducts inside the nuclear reactor.” - Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Runner-up Quote: “Nuclear power has died of an incurable attack of market forces and is way beyond any hope of revival, because the competitors are several fold cheaper and are getting rapidly more so. The competitors I mean are not other central power stations (coal or gas-fired, or big hydro); rather, they’re micropower and efficiency—the big market winners, already bigger than nuclear power worldwide in both capacity and output.” - Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

(1) The first 4 are ‘Searching for a Miracle’ (by Richard Heinberg), ‘The Rise and Fall of Global Industrial Agriculture’ (by Debbie Barker), ‘Manifesto on Global Economic Transitions’ (by 25 IFG associates), & ‘The False Promise of Biofuels’ (by Jack Santa Barbara).


08 2011

Cutting the Cord

I was yakking with some women friends recently (one of my very favourite things to do!  ), & the phrase “Cut the cord” came up. Said with considerable emphasis, I might add.

I got wondering if we might all have something we need to “cut the cord” from:

  • Parents who abuse/d us in any one of a myriad possible ways
  • Relationships that have exceeded their shelf life
  • Interfering in-laws, family members, or friends
  • Obsession with memories – both “good” & “bad”
  • Our former lives
  • Wallowing in self-pity & an “I’m a victim” or “Oh poor me” mentality
  • Our many “mistakes” in life
  • Guilt…shame…regrets…resentments
  • Expectations (of others, of ourselves)
  • Bad/unfulfilling jobs
  • Male entitlement / old patriarchal ways
  • Too much judgment about this, that & the other thing

Well, I had no idea where this little essay was going to go when I sat down to write it. All I had was the phrase “Cut the cord” (& a pen & some paper, of course).

& the list of things to cut the cord from just keeps coming out!

  • materialistic lifestyles / obsession with money & things
  • an Everything is all about ME mentality
  • keeping up with the Joneses
  • venal politicians
  • rapacious corporations
  • apathy
  • nuclear energy
  • attitudes of entitlement & privilege
  • complacency & greed
  • women who gossip & whine endlessly    (Oops!! I’m in a coffee place & being forced to hear more of a conversation than I’d really care to.)

Okay, okay, okay.

Of course, it does take energy to “cut the cord.”

Energy & intention.

So. What have you got planned for the rest of your life? Staying stuck in the same darn old swamp??


‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923)

Runners-up: “The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.” – Edith Sodergran, Scandinavian poet

“What distinguishes one life from another is intention, the one thing that we can control. Rosa Parks’s intentions were deep and unswerving, as were King’s, Thoreau’s, and Gandhi’s … While the events of the world were out of their control, their resolve was not. … How do we sow our seeds when large, well-intentioned institutions and intolerant ideologies that purport to be our salvation cause so much damage? One sure way is through smallness, grace, and locality. Individuals start where they stand and, in Antonio Machado’s poetic dictum, make the road by walking. Thoreau insisted in Civil Disobedience that if only one man withdrew his support from an unjust government, it would begin a cycle that would reverberate and grow. For him there were no inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction: “For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.” – Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – poet Mary Oliver


08 2011

Civil Disobedience

I’ve written about civil disobedience before, have taken part in some myself, & the odds are good I’ll take part in more – soon! [p.s. yes! Tar sands protest in Ottawa on Sept. 26th. Find out more here]

But it came to me just now that it would be a good idea to compile a list of quotations about civil disobedience – so I’ve just done that & am adding them in below. I’m also adding them to the ‘Quotations Central’ section of the blog, so you’ll be able to find them easily any time you might want to do that. Feel free to send me other good ones, via a comment to the blog. Good quotes are always welcome!!

More & more public figures are calling for massive civil disobedience in the days ahead, since our governments do not appear at all likely to stop acting like anything more than toadies to the corporate monsters that really run our world.

The recent post ‘Tar Sands – Civil Disobedience Called For’ is as relevant as ever. If you can join the party in Washington, go for it!!

If you’d like to read about my own November ’09 experience with civil disobedience/arrest, go here

& now, for the quotes!

First off, though, a ‘Quote for today’: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968

Quotations about Civil Disobedience

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” – Dr. Howard Zinn

“You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there, obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there, kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” Richard Grossman

“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.” Mohandas Gandhi

“If we want ‘sustainability,’ we too need to start with an inner change like Gandhi did, like Nelson Mandela did, like Martin Luther King did, and we should be able to say and demonstrate that ‘My Life is a Message.’ – Kamla Chowdry, Vikram Sarabhai Foundation, Earth Charter Commissioner

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you sick at heart, that you can’t take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop.” Mario Savio

“Nothing is more irritating, and, in the final analysis, harmful to a government than to have to deal with people who will not bend to its will, whatever the consequences.” Jawaharal Nehru

“If [oppression] is of such a nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.” Henry David Thoreau

“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy, it is absolutely essential to it.” – Dr. Howard Zinn

“We are made aware of the proverbial forks in the road of life from an early age. Whether at commencement or from the pulpit, we are told there is a convenient path, and a less traveled road of integrity. From a Buddhist perspective, the adage is infinitely true. We face such forks a million times a day, even in the space of a breath. Life is permeated with possibility at every instant. What distinguishes one life from another is intention, the one thing that we can control. Rosa Parks’s intentions were deep and unswerving, as were King’s, Thoreau’s, and Gandhi’s; so, too, were Jo Ann Robinson’s and Virginia Durr’s. While the events of the world were out of their control, their resolve was not.

Maybe the best way to understand the future implications of the movement’s daily actions is to remember Emerson’s moral botany: corn seeds produce corn; justice creates justice; and kindness fosters generosity. How do we sow our seeds when large, well-intentioned institutions and intolerant ideologies that purport to be our salvation cause so much damage? One sure way is through smallness, grace, and locality. Individuals start where they stand and, in Antonio Machado’s poetic dictum, make the road by walking. Thoreau insisted in Civil Disobedience that if only one man withdrew his support from an unjust government, it would begin a cycle that would reverberate and grow. For him there were no inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction: ‘for it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.’” Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming <Pg. 84-5>

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)


08 2011

Burning Garbage: It Stinks!

I’ve recently returned to live in Durham Region, east of Toronto, Ontario (Canada). I’ve spent the greater part of my adult life in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), as it happens, but I was (mostly) away for 8 years in there, during which time a big battle on burning garbage has been playing out here.

Turncoat politicians are involved (surprise, surprise! Not). Some were elected on an anti-incineration platform – helped, in some cases, by citizens who’d become involved in their campaigns on that very basis (imagine how angry those citizens are about this!?). There has also been, I am told, intimidation of smaller, less powerful areas of the Region by the head honcho of Durham Region Council (not a popular man, from what I hear, & not elected to this post by the voters of Durham Region).

Gotta say, this is an all-too-familiar kind of scenario.

Big Business has a fancy plan they claim is going to be an “easy” solution to a big environmental issue/problem/crisis.

Highly-paid shills for the particular industry (incinerator, nuclear; take your pick!) appear before the politicians in their expensive suits, deliver their technical & jargon-laden powerpoint presentations, carefully glossing over any inconvenient truths such as health & environmental impacts, & almost invariably snow the bored/unwitting/bought/fill-in-the-blank politicians.

Citizens mobilize. Even medical professionals become involved & protest the plan. (In this case, 75 local doctors signed a petition against the incinerator. You can go here to see some of what the U.S.-based Physicians for Social Responsibility have to say about the risks of incineration.)

But whatever deals went on behind closed doors, took place behind those firmly closed doors.

The deal with Covanta has been struck.

The people it will affect the most – in terms of health impacts that of course are always hard to prove, short of a smoking gun (especially when corrupt boards of health manipulate the statistics in the ways they are so very, very adept at doing; can you say “statistically insignificant”??) will not only be the ones breathing the poisoned air (with no bribes to sweeten our deal) – we get to foot the bill, too!

It’s enough to make you crazy!! (Fortunately, I don’t have far to go! Heh heh. & of course, the inmates are running the asylum anyway, hmm??)

Now, I’m not as “up” on the waste issue (or incineration) as I used to be. I detoured into other areas of activism along the way.

This much I do know:

  1. Burning garbage creates dioxins – vastly carcinogenic & dangerous to all living things.
  2. Poisoned air really gets around. It is no respecter of borders!
  3. What comes out the stack will blow into Lake Ontario, onto farmland & crops downwind, & it will also blow well to the east of Durham Region – so the communities east of this planned nastiness also need to become involved & help put a stop to it!
  4. The ash created when you burn garbage is extremely toxic. It has to go somewhere. Apparently the toxic ash from this (combined York & Durham Regions) monstrosity will be shipped to New York state, U.S.A. Great solution! Not…
  5. Without citizen involvement, & donations toward the lawsuit underway (go to the Durham CLEAR Web site to find out more), we will be dead ducks on this. Please donate! Write a letter! Talk it up with friends, colleagues, neighbours, family. Buy a T-shirt. I am doing all of the above, so am not asking anyone to do anything I am not prepared to do myself.
  6. Not being an “expert”(1) on this topic, I have to rely on the groups that have become the real experts in this issue. Sites I suggest you check out are:

· Durham CLEAR

· Durham Environment Watch

· Prevent Cancer Now

· Resources page here

This issue is like any other, readers – especially fellow residents of Durham Region. If you choose to remain silent about this, your apathy will reap what your inaction inevitably sows. And those consequences will be affecting all of us (including y/our children & grandchildren) for a very long time to come.


P.S. My other incineration-related posts are found here under a new heading.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The latest scheme masquerading as a rational and responsible alternative to landfills is a nationwide – and worldwide – move to drastically increase the use of incineration… The principal consequence of incineration is thus the transporting of the community’s garbage – in gaseous form, through the air – to neighbouring communities, across state lines, and indeed, to the atmosphere of the entire globe, where it will linger for many years to come. In effect, we have discovered yet another group of powerless people upon whom we can dump the consequences of our own waste; those who live in the future and cannot hold us accountable.” Al Gore in Earth In The Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit

Runners-up: “Silence is the voice of complicity.” Source unknown

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” – Edmund Burke

“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.” – Ancient Kenyan Proverb

(1) Jane Jacobs once said “Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.”


08 2011

Well-Informed Futility

I’ve been reading Raising Elijah – Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis. I’ve been a big fan of its author, Dr. Sandra Steingraber for a long while now.

The book is awesome. Steingraber is a fabulous writer & the book is simply a must-read for anyone who is a parent, might be a parent one day, or is an aunt, uncle, sister, brother, grandparent, or prospective parent/grandparent &/or who gives a darn about the human race. (Does this sufficiently take in everybody??)(1)

In Chapter 2, while discussing her experiences learning about the dangers & health risks of arsenic in pressure-treated wood in a playground structure at her daughter’s nursery school, she introduces the phrase “well-informed futility.” As she explains, the phrase was coined by psychologist Gerhart Wiebe in 1973 & “refers to a particular kind of learned helplessness.”(2) The way it goes is that when we get a lot of information about something we feel we cannot control or “fix,” we experience futility. Of course, futility leads to inaction, even though the very thing that is required is action. And, as Steingraber goes on to say, “Just down the street from well-informed futility resides denial.”

I’m pretty familiar with well-informed futility. I’m always dealing with, & writing about, rapacious corporations (not just rapacious but wildly, wildly planet-destroying!), venal politicians & apathetic, deer-in-the-headlights citizenry. I know lots & lots of people who long ago succumbed to well-informed futility & its evil best friends, denial, apathy & inaction.


Tiresome & frustrating, hmmm? Hugely so!

But I ain’t quittin’!

I no longer have faith or hope in the long-term prospects for our species (I’m not even so sure about the short-term ones!?).

But action sure turns my crank a whole lot more than cynicism, futility & apathy do!

Daily contact with Nature (through my daily walk or bike ride), activism & time spent with others who are not just sitting whistling Dixie (as they say) – these miraculously keep me joyful & “in the moment.”

After this morning’s walk, I returned to make myself some breakfast & turned on my beloved CBC Radio. Wow!! 

Fabulous listening on The Sunday Edition! A 1-hour special by former Toronto mayor David Miller called “The Green Streets and Rivers of New York City.”

It’s about “green” initiatives in NYC – & highlights the need for mayors & cities to take action on climate change (& other environmental issues), since, as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg points out, state & federal governments are certainly not doing so.

True story!

Well. As I repeat like a broken record, I may have lost hope – but I do still advocate action!


p.s. Do read Sandra Steingraber! Raising Elijah, Having Faith &/or Living Downstream. All are well worth some of your precious time, I promise you! Ms. Steingraber is a poet, ecologist, cancer survivor, concerned & loving mother, wonderful writer & passionate activist. (See her in the film “Living Downstream” too!)

p.p.s. & listen to the podcast of David Miller’s “The Green Streets and Rivers of New York City.” It’s here (you may have to add the date August 21, 2011 to get to the podcast).

Quote of the day’ with this post: “Ultimately, the environmental crisis is a parenting crisis. It undermines my ability to carry out two fundamental duties: to protect my children from harm and to plan for their future. My responsibility as a mother thus extends beyond push mowers and clotheslines to the transformation of the nation’s energy systems along renewable lines. Fine. With joy and resolve – and accepting the full severity of the situation vis-à-vis the world’s oxygen-making plankton – I hereby devote myself to the task. When I watch my children breathing in their sleep, it doesn’t feel like a choice. Happily, I’m in good company. And I have this quote for inspiration: ‘Recent studies indicate the U.S. and world could rely 100 percent on green energy sources within 20 years if we dedicate ourselves to that course.’” Dr. Sandra Steingraber in Raising Elijah

Runners-up: “A woman’s body is (a human being’s) first environment. Whatever contaminants are in a woman’s body find their way into the next generation. I think there is no better argument for the precautionary principle.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber

“There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation.” – Gaylord Nelson

“You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing.” – Paul Hawken, entrepreneur & author

(1) I particularly enjoyed Chapter 7 – “The Big Talk (and Systems Theory).” This woman is both brilliant & WILDLY articulate…& eminently, eminently readable.

(2) Raising Elijah – Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, Merloyd Lawrence, 2011, page 46.



08 2011

10 Commandments for Changing the World

by Angela Bischoff & Tooker Gomberg

Changing the world is a blast. It’s all the more achievable if you have some basic skills, and lots of chutzpah. With apologies to Moses and God, here are our top ‘Ten Commandments For Changing the World.’ Try them out on your issue. Have fun!

But first, some inspiration from Noam Chomsky: “If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that’s something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can’t live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.”

1. You Gotta Believe.
Have hope, passion and confidence that valuable change can and does happen because individuals take bold initiative.

2. Challenge Authority.
Don’t be afraid to question authority. Authority should be earned, not appointed. The “experts” are often proven wrong (they used to believe that the earth was flat!). You don’t have to be an expert to have a valuable opinion or to speak out on an issue.

3. Know the System. The system perpetuates itself. Use the tools you have – the telephone is the most underrated. The Internet can be of great value for research as well. Learn how decisions are made. How is the bureaucracy structured? Who are the key players? What do they look like? Where do they eat lunch? Go there and talk with them. Get to know their executive assistants. Attend public meetings.

4. Take Action. Do something – anything is better than nothing. Bounce your idea around with friends, and then act. Start small, but think big. Organize public events. Distribute handbills. Involve youth. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact rather than to ask for permission. Just do it! Be flexible. Roll with the punches and allow yourself to change tactics mid-stream. Think laterally. Don’t get hung-up on money matters; some of the best actions have no budget.

5. Use the media. Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper are read by thousands. Stage a dramatic event and invite the media – they love an event that gives them an interesting angle or good photo. Bypass the mainstream media with email and the World Wide Web to get the word out about your issue and to network.

6. Build Alliances. Seek out common allies such as other community associations, seniors, youth groups, labor, businesses, etc. and work with them to establish support. The system wins through Divide and Conquer, so do the opposite! Network ideas, expertise and issues through email lists. Celebrate your successes with others.

7. Apply Constant Pressure. Persevere; it drives those in power crazy. Be as creative as possible in getting your perspective heard. Use the media, phone your politicians, send letters and faxes with graphics and images. Be concise. Bend the Administration’s ear when you attend public meetings. Take notes. Ask specific questions, and give a deadline for when you expect a response. Stay in their faces.

8. Teach Alternatives. Propose and articulate intelligent alternatives to the status quo. Inspire people with well thought out, attractive visions of how things can be better. Use actual examples, what’s been tried, where and how it works. Do your homework, get the word out, create visual representations. Be positive and hopeful.

9. Learn From your Mistakes. You’re gonna make mistakes; we all do. Critique – in a positive way – yourself, the movement, and the opposition. What works, and why? What isn’t working? What do people really enjoy doing, and do more of that.

10. Take Care of Yourself & Each Other. Maintain balance. Eat well and get regular exercise. Avoid burn-out by delegating tasks, sharing responsibility, and maintaining an open process. Be sensitive to your comrades. Have fun. As much as possible, surround yourself with others (both at work and at play) who share your vision so you can build camaraderie, solidarity and support. Enjoy yourself, and nourish your sense of humour. Remember: you’re not alone!

So there you have it. Tools for the Evolution. You can easily join the millions of people around the world working towards ecological health and sustainability just by doing something. With a bit of effort, and some extraordinary luck, a sustainable future may be assured for us and the planet. Go forth and agitate.

Found on-line here

p.s. more great tips here!

‘Quote for the day’: “Science now knows that while still in diapers, virtually all children exhibit altruistic behavior. Concern for the well-being of others is bred in the bone, endemic and hardwired. We became human by working together and helping one another. According to immunologist Gerald Callahan, faith and love are literally buried in our genes and lymphocytes, and what it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who and where they really are.” — Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming


08 2011

Did I Cause World War II??

<July 8/11>

(This title is just silly, OK?)

I was talking to a dear friend recently who was telling me about how her ex-husband blamed the breakdown of their marriage on … well, never mind, details not important, gotta protect identities here, OK?

What he had said was so ridiculous, I laughed right out loud. (This man’s haste to blame everything & everyone while stubbornly refusing to acknowledge his own role in it is… well… absurd!)

2 thoughts here, 1 silly, 1 serious:

  1. Considering what I’ve been blamed for, maybe I’m responsible for causing WWII!
  2. History sure does repeat itself! Not just on the global stage, on the very personal one as well. We replay & replay the dramas of our childhoods. Dad was distant? We find a series of men who are “emotionally unavailable.” Mom was cold? Ditto.

Have we not all been there???

I wrote about this once before, I know. The posting called ‘Cases of Mistaken Identity.’

Well. It’s enough to just about break a person’s heart, isn’t it?

All these broken relationships. All this heartbreak.


It’s a darn good thing I can never really stay “down” for very long! Between personal chaos/unhappiness & global meltdowns of all kinds, a person really could go crazy pretty readily!?!?


Quote of the day w. this post: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner



09 2011

Ground: Zero

As I write this, it’s four days away from September 11, 2011 – 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City (& the Pentagon). It also marks 10 years of a “war on terror.”

On my walk this morning the title of this post came into my head. Ground: zero.

As wise Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön reminds us in her wonderful books, we humans are always trying (unsuccessfully!) to get solid ground beneath us. We think if we just get a new partner, or a new job, or get rich, or thin, or super-organized, or a divorce, or become famous, get that book published, retire, buy a house – whatever – then, finally,  “everything will be alright.”

Such slow learners!!

There is no solid ground – there never will be! As I suspect I’ve said elsewhere, this can either make us crazy – or set us free!

Once we know that all those things we chase will never bring us some kind of magical permanent peace or satisfaction – & that the ground, & our lives, may literally shake & open up beneath us at any moment, we are freed to live in this moment…yes, this one that we are always somehow trying to run away from to that…experience, or relationship, or success, or task or … whatever.

So. No ground. And who would know that better than the people who lost loved ones at Ground Zero in New York City, ten years ago now?

In Taking the Leap – Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, Pema Chödrön says, “How we relate moment by moment to what is happening on the spot is all there really is. We give up all hope of fruition and in the process we just keep learning what it means to appreciate being right here.”

Right here, right now. Ground: zero.


P.S. As for the “war on terror,” well duh…have we still not learned that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword? (Did I already mention that we human beings are awfully slow learners??)

‘Quote of the day’  with this post: “It seems we all have the tendency to move away from the present moment. It’s as if this habit is built into our DNA.” – Pema Chödrön


09 2011

Screwers & Screwees: How things REALLY work

I’ve been reading the marvellous John W. Gofman book Irrevy: An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power (published in 1979 by the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility).

John W. Gofman “(September 21, 1918 – August 15, 2007) was an American scientist and advocate. He was Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California at Berkeley. Some of his early work was on the Manhattan Project” (this snippet from Wikipedia). Later on, Gofman did tons of good stuff, including turning totally away from nuclear energy & advocating passionately against it.

Fascinating book! Illuminating, clever, witty – a must-read for many reasons! (It’s probably “out of print” now, but I’ve managed to get my local small bookseller dude to get me 3 copies for a very reasonable price. Amazing what local small bookseller folks can do for you!!)

The book’s Chapter 4 is called “The Catch-22 Society: Some Thoughts on ‘Civil Disobedience’ and ‘Uncivil Obedience.’”

He starts it off with the wonderful (former slave) Frederick Douglass quotation from August 1857:

“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical. But it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” – Frederick Douglass


Gofman then goes on to paraphrase Douglass:

“There are two fundamental groups in society, the screwers and the screwees. The screwers have all the apparatus of power, the sycophantic henchmen who do their bidding, and they have unflinching devotion to the preservation of their privileges at the expense of the screwees. Further, the screwers have enormous difficulty understanding why the screwees should ever raise any questions about the super-wonderful system which they have in place.

Generally speaking, screwees have never particularly enjoyed being overtly known as such. Therefore, a subterfuge is essential. The subterfuge which has emerged is the myth that the screwees are the ones who are really running the show, and that they do so through a democratic government. The ostensible purpose of government is to protect the rights and security of its citizens. This is done through a system of laws, drafted by hordes of those individuals we call lawyers, such laws being written as to defy comprehension by virtually anyone, but never written so as to be neutral in any conflict between the screwers and the screwees.

There is not necessarily any desire to be evil on the part of the screwers. All they want is an absolute guarantee that they can preserve and extend their privilege at the expense of the screwees. Stated otherwise, they wish to acquire an ever-increasing share of all the means of production and resources of the Earth, so that they can still further increase that share. And to these ends, we have the so-called “economy,” which through ceaseless churning, steadily allows those with power and privilege to increase both. Thus the top 19% of families owns about 76% of all the privately held wealth in the USA, while the bottom 25% has no assets at all (Dr. L.C. Thurow, M.I.T. Department of Economics). The concentration of wealth and power is such that recent estimates are that the top 5% of the American population owns more assets than does the bottom 81% combined (also Thurow).

What is manufactured in this “economy” is really quite irrelevant to the screwer-class. The only criterion is that what is manufactured be saleable at a profit. Hula hoops, arms, oil, cars, cigarettes, nuclear power plants, food, all are viewed through only one lens – can they be sold at a profit. Better still are those products which, through built-in obsolescence, can insure that the purchaser becomes locked into the system of dependence. Best of all are those products which become absolute necessities in the contemporary way of life, and which cannot possibly be made by the screwee himself. Thus, for example, nuclear power plants to create electricity are lovely, whereas small solar systems are a disaster – from the point of view of the screwers.” – John W. Gofman, in Irrevy: An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power.

Sobering take on things, hmmm?

For sure, it sounds 100% bang on to me.

Gofman is brilliant, funny, &, as the book title suggests, very irreverent.

Here’s what he says about when we finally “get” that we are screwees, & what we can do about it:

“But let someone raise the issue that pollution of the environment, poisoning of people, poisoning of other life forms, should be prevented and that the responsibility for such prevention be borne by the screwers, and all hell breaks loose. Or if someone suggests that a particular profitable activity should ever cease entirely because it cannot be made safe, we are in for a battle royal. They tell you that Kepone and dioxin put bread on your table.

Ostensibly, those who are concerned have a marvelous recourse – namely the government of, for, and by the people, which will (of course) be ever watchful of the interests of the people. The Congress will pass the laws necessary, the Executive Branch will set up administrative agencies to flesh out the programs and regulatory agencies to insure that the public is protected from depradations. If the laws don’t seem to be achieving the goals dreamed of by the screwees, they can turn Tweedle-dum out of office and elect Tweedle-dee. When Tweedle-dee turns out to be a carbon copy of Tweedle-dum, then there is always the privilege of electing Tweedle-dum’s cloned brother.” (John W. Gofman in Irrevy: An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power, on page 116).(1)

This made me laugh out loud. So did what he said (on page 126) about the coconut heads at the Atomic Energy Commission (to do with the so-called “safety” of eating coconuts from Bikini Island, where nuclear testing had taken place. Seems like the coconut heads are all over the place!! We have our fair share here in Canada too, for sure!)

Well, I could go on & on here, extolling the virtues of this wonderful book, & odds are good I’ll talk about it some more, maybe soon.

But for now, just mostly wanted to pass on the screwers & screwee description.

We might as well have a realistic grasp on how things work on Planet Earth, don’t you think?

I’m not saying it’s nice, or fun – for sure, it’s … bracing


P.S. John Gofman curriculum vitae here. Interview w. Gofman here

P.P.S. The book is chockfull of brilliant cartoons, btw. Lots of good laughs! Some more quotes here

P.P.P.S. Some of my own Tweedle wisdom here

P.S. # 4: Watch Canadian politician Tommy Douglas on YouTube, talking about “Mouseland.” Same message as the Tweedledum & Tweedledee. Must-see!

‘Quote of the daywith this post: “No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make “safe” and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man. The idea that a civilisation could sustain itself on the basis of such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity. It means conducting the economic affairs of man as if people really did not matter at all.” – E.F. Schumacher, 1911-1977

** Lots of other great nuke-related quotes here

(1) Of particular interest to fellow Ontarians as we contemplate replacing one of our Tweedle-dums with a Tweedle-dee, hmmm? Only two political parties in Ontario are anti-nuclear: Greens & NDP. If we vote Liberal or Conservative, we are voting for more Tweedles … & more nukes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!



09 2011

Irrevy: Gofman Quotes

Yesterday’s post was about “screwers & screwees,” with lengthy explanation from the brilliant John W. Gofman book “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power (published in 1979 by the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility) as to how things really function on our planet.

As I said, it ain’t a pretty picture – but it’s … bracing! (Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on,” & I’m kinda with her on that.)

A few more gems from the book:

“We are treated to a remarkable spectacle. If we don’t like what is being done in our name and with our dollars, we can change things through law, by electing Tweedle-dee instead of Tweedle-dum. If we object to the activities of the Atomic Energy Commission or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, we have the fabulous privilege of “intervening” in license-hearings. Citizens are expected somehow to hire lawyers in such processes, while their tax dollars go to support an army of lawyers at the beck and call of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There has not existed the slightest shred of meaningful evidence that the entire intervention process in nuclear energy is anything more than the most callous of charades and frauds. Short of direct proof that a nuclear reactor is sitting on Mount Vesuvius at the height of its eruption, there is little doubt that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will approve the site. Probably some of the Commissioners would suggest coming back next week … maybe the volcano will quiet down.” <page 125>

(I can say with confidence that this is equally true of nuclear hearings here in Canada, btw. Brilliant & determined activists (some of them scientists themselves) spend many hours doing research & writing wildly intelligent “interventions” for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Almost 80 such submissions were made last Fall in Ottawa on the issue of the preposterous Bruce Power proposal to ship radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes & Atlantic Ocean & Baltic & North Seas to Sweden for “recycling” – yet the CNSC in its infinite wisdom simply ignored all this well-informed testimony & gave its OK to the shipment! (Lots of postings about this issue here on this blog.) Darlington hearings no different (postings here). You can beat your head bloody trying to defeat nuclear proposals, but almost invariably, no one in a position of power is really listening).

More Gofman:

On air shipments of plutonium-oxide into New York City (yikes!?) & how a health physicist for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) argued that the odds were good that a crash would not kill everyone in NYC (good of him, wasn’t it??). Congress wound up stopping the practice (this was back when Gerald Ford was President). Gofman comment: “Occasionally, even Congress comes to life if the idiocy of a situation is sufficient.” <page 46> Ahem.

On nukes, asbestos & lead: “I mentioned earlier that the nuclear power advocates often ask why they are singled out and not allowed to help destroy the planet, since others are permitted to do so. They could point out that lead and asbestos can also irreversibly poison the surface of the planet where life is sustained. In this, they would be correct, for these substances are not bio-degradable, and their half-lives are infinite. Are asbestos and lead indispensable for the good life? I have the distinct impression that we may be able to do without them too.” <pages 172-3>

I could add tons of pithy (& funny!) Gofman gems, but hey! It’s time for a walk – & as my sister says, “If I’m sane at all, it’s because I walk.”


p.s. you can find some more great Gofman quotes in the Nuke Quotes section.


09 2011

Ontario Election: Tweedles (& Mice)

Quel busy Fall!?!?! I’m on overwhelm, pretty much – with activities I’d known were coming, plus several I had not. Bisy, bisy, bisy, as Winnie-the-Pooh would likely say.

Here in Ontario (Canada), it’s provincial election time. The election will be held on October 6th.

I’m an anti-nuker. My more spiritually … savvy??… friends tell me “What we resist, persists.” I’m not sure if they mean I should embrace nuclear energy, & then it will go away??? So I’ll turn it around & put it this way: I’m 100% FOR a nuclear-free Ontario (just as I used to be …well …still am, anti-pesticides & FOR a pesticide-free world).

There are 2 parties in our province that promise to take us in the nuclear-free direction: the Green Party & the NDP (New Democratic Party). So for me, the choice is vastly simplified.

I recently did 2 postings in which I quoted John Gofman extensively – they’re here & here. Gofman is brilliant about nukes, but he’s also spot on about how the world really works & the limitations of so-called democracy (please consider reading those 2 previous postings, so I don’t have to repeat myself here).

It was funny for me to read Gofman’s Tweedledum & Tweedledee thoughts about politicians, since I’d had some mildly amusing ones of my own during this past Spring’s Darlington hearings.(Tweedle posting here )

Tweedledum & Tweedledee, hmmm? Not to mention Tweedledee’s cloned brother. Especially amusing in light of present-day municipal politics in Toronto! Cloned brother indeed…

Telling people how to vote is not very cool, so I won’t.

I’ll just caution readers (everywhere) to be very careful about not exchanging one untrustworthy crowd for another – even, perhaps, for an even more untrustworthy one.

Instead of Tweedledum & Tweedledee (&/or Tweedledum’s cloned brother), let’s be sure to vote for parties & candidates who really give a darn about people (all people, not just the ones who already have most of the power & all kinds of privileges) & the environment…shall we?


P.S. Next post: some good quotations to ponder during this (or any) election campaign.

P.P.S. Yikes! I almost forgot about the mice!! There is a must-see, very “political” YouTube about cats & mice here. Same general idea as Tweedledum & Tweedledee. It would only take you about 5 minutes to watch it. Please do!!!

P.P.P.S. (this P.S. is being reused – it was in the screwer/screwee post.) Only 2 political parties in Ontario are anti-nuclear: Greens & NDP. If we vote Liberal or Conservative, we are voting for more Tweedles … & more nukes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! (visit the Ontario Clean Air Alliance Web site for good info about nukes & this election.)

‘Quote of the day’with this post: “Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.” – Abbie Hoffman



09 2011

Are we having any fun yet??

Sheesh. Yikes, & sheesh.

Off the charts busy & even overwhelmed, spending time in very challenging times, it seems, & wanting to write about 25 things I can’t seem to find the time for, & last night I attended an all-candidates’ meeting at which the performances were quite underwhelming, to say the very least, & this morning I’m working on some stuff that is very hard to keep my head in, & hey! I work for myself, theoretically, & don’t get paid a cent for any of this crazy stuff I do (except for an occasional donation from a friend or other who sends me a buck or two sometimes; bless you!!!) & the phrase came into my mind, are we having any fun yet??

Of course, the answer is Yes! Yes, yes, yes.

As I said to some friends last night, via e-mail after that awful all-candidates’ meeting, doing worthwhile work is of course in & of itself rewarding, but the biggest bonus is hanging out with the coolest people.

Plato said, “Your wealth is where your friends are” & my old boyfriend used to marvel at my amazing friendships & I used to say “Yeah, I sure know how to pick my friends eh??”

So, onward ho during this oh-so-challenging time. Nuclear work, tar sands protest (yes – if you are not yet signed up, please go here & sign up!!), lots of writing projects & other projects I can’t seem to find the time to make happen.

But here’s the thing: I’ve figured out that, basically, I guess, I am a date planter. Sister Miriam MacGillis, a most amazing woman from Genesis Farm in the U.S. & a devotee of the ideas of Thomas Berry, once said on a tape I have of her speaking (the tape is from 1992, is called “The Fate of the Earth” & is awesome!!), that those who plant dates do not live to harvest them. Dates take decades & decades to bear fruit, & the people who planted them are by then long gone.

I hang out with date planters. How cool is that??


p.s. Sister Joan Chittister has said “If you are expecting to see the results of your work, you simply haven’t asked a big enough question.”

p.p.s. I read the novel So Long, See You Tomorrow (by William Maxwell) recently. Really enjoyed it. At one point the main character said “I understood not only how entirely generous they were but also that generosity might be the greatest pleasure there is.” Ah, yes…….


‘Quote of the day’ with this post: Thomas Berry on the environmental crisis: “It is something like being in a lifeboat. There may be problems of distribution of food, there may be people that need medical care, but if something happens to the boat, the boat has to be taken care of immediately or else everything else becomes irrelevant.”



09 2011

Tar Sands Protest in Ottawa (Monday)

& you’re invited!

Go here to learn all about it!

This post has a list of tar sands-related YouTubes you can watch.

See you in Ottawa!!


p.s. Here is Bill McKibben, speaking after his Washington arrest on this issue last month. Go herefor the full blog post (you have to scroll down a bit to get to it):

“Our part in the weekend’s celebration is to act as a kind of living tribute. While people are up on the mall at the monument, we’ll be in the front of the White House, wearing handcuffs, making clear that civil disobedience is not just history in America.

We may not be facing the same dangers Dr. King did, but we’re getting some small sense of the kind of courage he and the rest of the civil rights movement had to display in their day — the courage to put your body where your beliefs are. It feels good.” – Bill McKibben, extraordinary writer/activist/founder of

p.p.s. Quotations about civil disobedience here

p.p.p.s.  As Lester Brown has said, “Saving our civilization is not a spectator sport.” – Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute)

p.s. # 4: The post ‘Protesting, Celebrating…whatever‘ explains how & why some of us actually see “protests” as a form of celebration

p.s. # 5: Another favourite quote: “So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kickstart 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!” – Chip Giller, founder of



09 2011

Tar Sands Action: Informative, Fun, INSPIRING!

** Good article by Stephen Leahy entitled “Jail Before Climate-Wrecking Tar Sands, Canadians say” here

So, I took part in the Tar Sands Action in Ottawa yesterday (September 26th).

Great 10-minute YouTube on it here – includes coverage of the civil disobedience training session & speeches on Parliament Hill. Well done!!

So glad I took part!!

The Non-Violent Civil Disobedience (NVCD) training we received on Sunday was awesome! Well-organized & run, lots of great people involved (both trainers & participants), & super practical (we even got fed!!)

The action on Parliament Hill was fabulous.

First of all, a rousing rally of very inspiring speakers.

A number of native people from affected communities (& oh my, are they affected. Bad water, cancer clusters, young people dying of cancer; this is a huge tragedy & our First Nations people are right on the front lines) who spoke so eloquently & passionately, they brought tears to one’s eyes.

Actress/activist Tantoo Cardinal spoke so inspiringly of the traditional role & value of women in native culture that I had goose bumps. Wow…

Union reps, Council of Canadians, young Bridget who held up the STOP Harper sign in the Senate (speaking of feisty young people!!)

It was a most impressive line-up.

Then, a bunch of us climbed over the fence the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal police force in charge on Parliament Hill) had put up, knowing that a rally & civil disobedience were planned for the day.

In the end I think it was around 200 people who chose to go over the fence & be arrested in order to make a very loud statement to prime minister stephen harper(1) that he was not elected to turn the House of Commons into a House of Corporations (great phrase eh?? Not mine, I’m quoting) & that the horrific environmental & human health disaster that is the Alberta tar sands must be STOPPED.

Then we all sat on the lawn in the very hot sun & were passed water & fruit & granola bars by people standing on the other side of the fence (we’re such dangerous characters, we “protesters,” eh?), & chatted & got to know people we had not met before (there were people from all provinces across Canada & one or two – not sure how many – from the U.S.).

Eventually we were handcuffed & told we’d be charged with Obstruction, then were taken off to a tent that had been erected to process the arrestees, handed over to the Ottawa police, who wrote us out a ticket for having been “Engaged in Prohibited Activity in Premises” (I think that’s what the messy scrawl says).

We are being fined $68 (actually, I can’t read my ticket properly so am not 100% sure of the amount) & told we are to stay off the grounds of Parliament for a year.

What an odd thing to forbid us to do! It’s our Parliament – our House of Commons (isn’t it??) & now we are being told to stay away.

Well. Whatever. Harper & his minions of course don’t want people like me hanging around where he hangs out, I do get that…

I could say lots more (never at a loss for words, eh??) but I gotta get back home & back to work.

Just want y’all to know I couldn’t be more delighted to have taken part in this historic action, protesting the tar sands & being arrested in order to send a strong message to politicians (& everyone!).

I’m also proud of having sat in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office in November 2009 & being arrested there, & of having taken part in 2 protests against clear-cutting in old growth forest in Temagami (Ontario).

& just in case anyone who feels terribly “spiritual” wants to lecture me about being negative & what I resist persisting, please read the post here that explains why I view protesting as a celebration.

I celebrate the strong voices of citizens who know when we’ve had enough.

I celebrate the power of individuals coming together to act like members of a very large & very caring “tribe” (or beehive) who know if we don’t set aside our personal agendas & our personal fears & our personal greed, & begin to venture outside our personal comfort zones, we are doomed as a species (we may be doomed anyway! But taking action is far more empowering than pretending everything is OK & that all I really need to care about is me, me, me).

As my (now two-time fellow arrestee & grassroots climate crusader buddy) Sharon Howarth says, “Speaking up about something that matters is the best recreation ever.”


P.S. the posting here lists/links to several good videos/shows/YouTubes about the tar sands – the single most environmentally destructive project taking place here on Planet Earth today.

P.P.S. Good quotations on civil disobedience here

P.P.P.S. Ontario election time!! Lotsa good quotes on democracy here

P.S. # 4: Other posts about this experience

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “In the long run, the real choice is not jobs or environment – it’s both…or neither. What kind of jobs will be possible in a world of depleted resources, poisoned water and foul air, a world where ozone depletion and greenhouse warming make it difficult even to survive?” ~ United Steelworkers of America, 1993

(1) I don’t feel he deserves to have his name “capitalized” when he is such a woeful “leader” to Canadians & such an utter lackey of the global oil industry.


09 2011

Tar Sands Action: Media Sleaze?

Do you think we can rely on the news media that bring us our daily dose of news?

Don’t be too sure!

I was in Ottawa 2 days ago, on Monday (Sept. 26th) for the fabulous protest on the Alberta tar sands rape. My first posting on it is here (Good site for learning about the tar sands situation here Blog posting with a list of good things to watch about it here)

Yesterday I read the coverage given to the event by Ottawa’s “Metro” paper. Said coverage was short & a little on the deceptive side.

  1. A rally took place before the civil disobedience & the arrests began. The rally lasted around an hour & a half & included short talks by 12 amazing speakers. It was very informative indeed about the realities of the tar sands impacts on indigenous communities – yet the news coverage did not even mention it! Same thing happened on G20 weekend in Toronto in late June 2010. A mind-blower of a collection of speakers took place on the Friday night in Massey Hall – yet the media failed to report on that event. I guess this is convenient for the (mostly corporate-dominated) media & their masters, the corporations that do not want Canadians to hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about their activities (the less we hear, the better, from their standpoint).
  2. The Ottawa Metro front page story states “more than 100 protesters climbed over a fence erected on Parliament Hill yesterday and sat peacefully, waiting to be arrested.” The truth is, more than 200 climbed over that fence – people young & old & even one man in a wheelchair (not quite sure how he got over, as I was by then on the grass, over to the side, & could not see the fence clearly).
  3. The police & media are now able to report a smaller # of arrestees because, due to the unaccountable length of time it took the 2 police forces to do their job (Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP are in charge on Parliament Hill, & they then had to hand arrestees over to the Ottawa city police force), at the end of the day the police released about 60 people, i.e., just let them go without laying the charge that those of us dealt with earlier had received. Looks to me like this serves the agenda of our federal government & the corporate agenda – an agenda about minimizing & dismissing the concerns of those more than 200 individuals willing to be arrested to make a strong statement about the violent rape taking place in the Alberta tar sands.
  4. I’ve heard that our corporate-owned prime minister made some remark about the people rallying & being arrested as protesting “against jobs.” Harper may be an awful man, but he is not stupid. He knows that Conservative politicians win votes by appealing to voters’ baser & most selfish instincts (great quote: “The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith). Our prime minister tries to make us look bad by casting protesters as anti-jobs. Truth is, there are far more jobs to be had in the renewable energy sector than in the dead-end tar sands project. Jobs that do not destroy the land, the people & the communities they live in.

I recall seeing a protest sign a great many years ago that I thought put it rather well.

No jobs on a dead planet.


P.S. I’ve heard there are 250,000 people employed in Germany in the solar & wind industries. 100,000 in the U.S. These are impressive numbers! Tar sands jobs are dirty & unsustainable & the tar sands project is destroying the environment & the people who live downstream. How can Conservative politicians defend this “rape & run” mentality???

P.P.S. As John Gofman points out in his brilliant book “Irrevy – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power,” the corporate bigshots who really run the show on our planet like projects that are BIG – because BIG projects mean BIG profits. Smaller enterprises like alternative energy projects spread the work & the power around. That doesn’t work for the big corporations, who have no desire to share their power & their profits (lots of Gofman gems from “Irrevy” here & here).

P.P.P.S. Good article on the protest called “Jail Before Climate-Wrecking Tar Sands” by Stephen Leahy here Another good one here


09 2011

Tar Sands Action: Random Observations

(My 1st 2 posts on the Sept. 26th tar sands action in Ottawa are here & here – those posts have links to lotsa relevant sites/sources of more info on the tar sands project.)

So, drafted this on the bus on the way back to Toronto after the Monday events (a school bus, btw. Without the “deep pockets” of corporate types, we enviros have to do things on the cheap. We may be cheap, but we sure know how to have fun!! & as a very low-income person, I am grateful for the free bus ride!!!!)

Some random thoughts about the events of the Ottawa tar sands protest:

  1. I was/am super impressed by the fabulously well-coordinated civil disobedience training & overall event coordination of this event. Wonderful collaborative effort among different NGOs (non-governmental organizations) – all or most of the organizers young & wildly capable. Kudos to you all!!
  2. It takes a huge support team to pull off a happening like this! Tons & tons of work “behind the scenes.” So while the public sees 200 people willing to take part in this act of civil disobedience; they don’t see the HUGE amount of effort it took to put it all together. I’m so grateful to all the busy worker bees who pulled this off!!
  3. I was incredibly moved & inspired by the many aboriginal speakers who spoke so passionately & eloquently about the impacts of this horrid tar sands project on their land & their people. Nice to feel those emotions, that we 21st century folks have a tendency to suppress. Good Web source here on the tar sands’ impacts on our indigenous communities.
  4. Motherhood kept coming up! In a discussion about what to wear to the protest, someone said, “Wear something your Mom would approve of” & I thought “Yeah, & behave in a way your mother would be proud of, too.” And then at the rally on Parliament Hill, actress/activist Tantoo Cardinal, who was arrested in the Washington actions on the Keystone XL pipeline spoke of the Iroquois Confederacy, & the native tradition of having grandmothers choose the (male) leaders & placing children in the centre of the circle (& the centre of concern). Got goose bumps thinking of how the wisdom of women used to be honoured!
  5. Dysfunctional family imagery kept coming up for me. Human culture on the planet is something like a great big dysfunctional family. There is all kinds of nonsense going on. Someone has to call it, right?? & not everyone in the family feels real comfortable about that. Yet someone has to do it, or the whole family may be destroyed.
  6. The power of personal convictions…personal conscience. One of the police officers who arrested me commented “You folks sure have a lot of conviction.” Yup! (Norman Cousins said “Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.”)
  7. The naïvete (or perhaps wilful blindness??) of human beings regarding the shocking venality of our governments & corporations. We behave like children – & indeed, have to be taught not to submit to police bullying, & almost browbeaten into insisting on our right, for example, to remain silent. Innocence is touching (& I could go off on a tangent here about why I believe most human beings are indeed touchingly innocent – I’ll save that for another day!). Innocence can also be reckless. Wilful blindness is not an admirable thing, I think…
  8. Ensemble imagery kept coming up for me, from the wonderful choir event I attended in Ottawa on the Saturday evening (several police choirs & the Ottawa Children’s & Canterbury High School Chamber Choirs) to all the activities during the non-violent civil disobedience training & the events on Sept. 26th on Parliament Hill.

Frederick Nietzsche said “Sin is that which separates,” which has long struck me as a profound insight. We human beings have become islands of me-me-me-ness, or, in the words of Sister Joan Chittister, “pathological individualism.” Members of choirs & teams (& activists) presumably “get” this – that we are meant to be members of ensembles, or tribes. Bees in a beehive, working together for the common good. These big “protests” or actions show us how we are meant to be. Check the ego at the door, & do one’s very best for the team (when we do our personal best in these situations, it’s really for the whole team.)

Sooooooo delighted to have taken part in this historic event…


p.s. a few good quotations about civil disobedience here



09 2011

Tar Sands Action: Words, Groups, YouTubes

This is my 4th post related to the tar sands protest held in Ottawa 2 days ago now, on Sept. 26th (previous posts are here, here & here)

Great 10-minute YouTube on it here – includes coverage of the civil disobedience training session & speeches & arrests on Parliament Hill. Really well done!!

Visit here also for lots of great tar sands issue coverage!

Key facts on the Keystone XL Pipeline here

As previously mentioned, there were 12 fantastically inspiring speakers at the Parliament Hill rally on Monday who used some memorable phrases. I’d also recorded some cool things at the non-violent civil disobedience training given the day before the action.

Here are some eminently quotable (reusable!) words / phrases / placard-type sayings:

  • Blinded & deafened by greed
  • Change won’t happen by writing policy reports
  • Community resistance is the cure!
  • Energy policy drives the government, not the other way around
  • House of Commons or House of Corporations?
  • House of Commons: no common sense there!
  • I didn’t mean to be brave, it just happened when I panicked – a quote from Piglet (in Winnie-the-Pooh)
  • If we don’t take care of the land, the land won’t take care of us
  • Psychotic energy policy
  • Separate oil & state
  • Silly adults – the future’s for kids!
  • Stelmach: the best premier oil money can buy(1)
  • Songs are medicine
  • What blooming idiot came up with the idea of ‘ethical oil’?

Canadian groups working on the tar sands:

Tar sands viewing:


P.S. Did you know the Canadian government provides more than $1 billion a year to the oil industry? That would sure build a lot of solar panels & wind turbines, eh?? Imagine providing subsidies to an industry that is so utterly destructive. The mind boggles!

P.P.S. Did you know that when the oil industry visits Fort Chip, a town 100 km downstream from the tar sands, where the water has been fouled & people are sick, the oil bigshots bring their own water with them? Speaking of sleazy… They know damn well what they are doing, they don’t care, & they’re going to keep right on doing it. That is sleazy. & our government supports the oil industry in this. In nice little old Canada. I guess writer George Monbiot is right about us being a corrupt petrostate

(1) Stelmach is premier of Alberta


09 2011

Ontario Election: R we making sense??

Ontario’s provincial election is coming up next Thursday, October 6th.

I’ve told a few people which candidate I’m voting for here in Durham Region, east of Toronto, where I now live. I’m not casting my vote where I’d expected to, & this is the result of having attended the all-candidates’ debate in Courtice on September 20th (many thanks to Libby R. for organizing this event!!).

It’s always important to check out your candidates, hmmm?

Here are some of the things I hear people saying that strike me as a little on the illogical side:

  • I vote Conservative/Liberal/whatever because my parents voted that way. So hey, people, is the world the same place it was when your parents were voting for this party? Did they take environmental & social justice issues into account? Have you learned a little about politics & political parties & the state of the world since your parents voted…whichever way it was they voted? (I sure hope so!!)

  • A woman really took me by surprise when she told me she will vote for our incumbent Conservative old-boy because he has always shown up for meetings in her small community in the 16 years he’s been the MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament). I’m happy he has been helpful, but he (& his party) are pro-nuclear energy & pro-incineration of household garbage. I’m pretty sure this person is personally opposed to these things, yet she will vote for a party she can absolutely count on to keep on doing the same old dumb (or even horrible) stuff. This just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • I hear over & over people saying the same old silly stuff about what Bob Rae did back in … when WAS that?? The early 90’s? As in, almost 20 years ago?? He did something they didn’t like when he was NDP Premier of Ontario, & by golly, they are still holding it against him! Doesn’t matter that the Liberals did stuff yesterday that they don’t like, & the Conservatives did all kinds of awful stuff when they were in power after the NDP & will do even more if elected. We are going to hold onto that ancient, illogical grudge against Bob Rae, & if that means biting off our own noses to spite our faces, well by golly, we’ll do it!!

  • One of my local small town papers has come out endorsing the Conservatives. I guess this should not surprise anyone. Most media outlets are owned by conservative, corporate agenda types. Who else would they endorse?? (See recent blog post called ‘Media Sleaze?’ to see some examples of how the corporate-driven media operate.)

Well, I guess I should not be surprised any more that much of what we human beings do & say is vastly illogical. After all, the inmates are running the asylum, & we elect them to do so. They say we get the government we deserve…but I’m pretty darn sure I deserve better. (You do too!!)


P.S. Lots of great democracy/election-related quotes here

P.P.S. Key favourite quote in my world: “The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Pg. 115>

P.P.P.S. Another election-related post here It’s called ‘Ontario Election: Tweedles (& Mice)’

P.S. # 4: You gotta read what John Gofman says about how the world really works. He’s brilliant – & funny, to boot!! He’s quoted extensively here

P.S. # 5: The tune of the old Beatles song “All we are saying, is give peace a chance” is in my head today. What I am hearing, though, is “All we are saying, is give change a chance.”


10 2011

Ontario Election: a little light humour…

So, there I was, sitting at an all-candidates’ meeting in Courtice the other week (Courtice being in Durham Region, east of Toronto, Ontario (Canada) in the electoral riding of Durham, where 16-year Conservative incumbent John O’Toole is once again running), & I said something to my buddy, who replied “Yeah, you could run a 3-headed pig in this riding & it would win as long as it was wearing Conservative colours,” & I replied “Yeah, & in this riding (home, as it is, to the many nuclear reactors at Pickering & Darlington) a three-headed pig would not be an impossibility!!”

And the next day, when I told another friend about this conversation, he replied (disappointed as he was at the voter apathy that led to such a very poor turnout at the all-candidates’ meeting(1), “If a three-headed pig was running, we’d at least fill the room, even if only with gawkers!”

And you know? You gotta have some laughs in this crazy life, what with the inmates running the asylum & all….


P.S. Great democracy/election-related quotes here & other election posts here & here

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958 (so vote already!! It’s a privilege, & a right – so exercise it, pullese!!)

(1) Many of the local media outlets, almost all of them corporate-owned & not, shall we say, really “independent,” also apparently failed to inform their readers of the event, which obviously didn’t help the turnout too much…


10 2011

Ontario Election: Who Won?

So, the Ontario provincial election happened yesterday. Tiring day for many of us!

Many of us had feared a Conservative win; thank goodness that was avoided! :) We’ve got plenty enough trouble already with our recently-elected federal Conservative majority & a conservative wrecking ball on the loose in Toronto.

The McGuinty liberals are back just shy of a majority government. Both the Conservatives & the NDP made gains. I’m not at all politically savvy, so what this will all mean, I’m not even going to speculate. Time will tell!

Just a few thoughts about who “won” & who “lost” in this process.

Green energy & related jobs “won.” A Conservative government would have trashed the growing green energy movement here in Ontario.(1)

I both “lost” & “won.” The Conservative old boy in my riding of Durham (east of Toronto, in Darlington Nuclear Generating Station territory & upcoming incinerator territory too, actually – planned incinerator right near the nuke plant; fun eh?? Not) was re-elected for a 5th term – but I feel I won, at least, by taking part.

I distributed leaflets about Liberal & Conservative support for nuclear energy (& plans to spend $36 billion on new nukes at Darlington) for both the Ontario Clean Air Alliance & Greenpeace.

I attended an all-candidates’ meeting where I checked out my local candidates & changed my vote (I usually vote Green Party but went NDP this time).

I talked election with lotsa people – all this to say at least I was not apathetic!

(I love this quote: “People will say with pride: ‘I’m not interested in politics.’ They might just as well say, ‘I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.’” – Martha Gellhorn)

On this morning’s lovely fall walk on the trails in the Nonquon outdoor education centre woods north of Port Perry, where I stuck to my usual tendency to not adhere to a plan, or stay on a path, I mused on how “negative” circumstances so often lead to “positive” reactions or outcomes.

In Durham Region, more & more people are cluing in to the utter corruption of our local regional political process & politicians, & the plans to burn garbage (along with millions of taxpayer dollars) in the planned incinerator.

I said to my friend this morning that I’ve often observed that people who seem like “enemies” unwittingly create great openings for neat things to happen. Like the older man in the Ottawa River town I lived in for 6 years who used to write kooky letters to the paper saying things like how DDT should be brought back – giving those of us passionate about creating a pesticide-free town an opening to add more reasoned information to the debate.

The image I came up with was that people like this man (whom I actually saw earlier this week at the Chalk River Laboratories re-licensing hearing, where he told me he is not concerned about the nuclear wastes at that site. Eek!!! I am unable to share his cavalier attitude about radioactive poisons seeping into the Ottawa River, & I expect most folks downriver would be similarly unable to be cavalier about it!!) Well…what people like this are good for is saying & thinking kooky stuff that helps make others come out of the woodwork, sort of the way the rain brings out the earthworms. It’s a bummer (slight understatement here) that our amazing Earth has been hit so hard with our assaults & our ignorance that I have to look upon nuclear boosters & corrupt politicians & planet-destroyers as good for earthworm action – but Hey!! It’s a very beautiful day here in southern Ontario & I am bound & determined to stay upbeat!!

Janet :)

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell, US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 – 1987)

(1) I was told recently that there are 250,000 jobs in Germany in the solar/wind biz. 100,000 in the U.S. Nothing to sneeze at!!


10 2011

Nuclear Free Planet (++ groups list)

** btw, a later post here skips the chat & just lists the groups. As I add in new ones I hear about, I am only adding them into the later post, so please do go there for a more complete list!

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving weekend. We’re having a gorgeous weekend, weather-wise.

I’ll do some family-oriented stuff, & I plan to have a nice long bike ride (or 2) & hit the farmers’ market.

& I’ll do lots of musing about thankfulness – gratitude, which is the force that more or less fuels my life. Maybe I’ll do a blog posting about that too.

For the moment, I am feeling very, very sobered after watching the short video series “Knocking on the Devil’s Door: Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy.” This is in 8 parts & features a variety of experts on all aspects of the nuclear …. hmmm… the nuclear….well, nightmare is really the only word I can accurately use. (Read a review here )

Folks involved include Dr. Chris Busby, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Karl Grossman, Kevin Kamps, Cindy Folkers, Greg Palast, Dr. Janette Sherman, Harvey Wasserman, Aileen Mioko Smith, Dr. Michio Kaku & others I’ve failed to name, for which I apologize.

It covers all aspects of the nuclear business & explains that the only way nuclear power can be called “safe” is when the 2 ends of the fuel chain are conveniently left out – the mining of uranium at the beginning, & the waste at the end. It also explains the utter corruption of the industry & our governments’ utter complicity in that corruption.

Please watch it yourself. (If you are an extremely sensitive person, you may find some scenes in Part 7 very upsetting. Birth defects being caused by depleted uranium. Very difficult to have to face these things that are unfortunately indeed taking place. On our watch.)

Then, please give serious consideration to becoming active for a nuclear-free planet. Lots more help is needed, believe me!


P.S. Lots of sites you can visit to learn more.(I will add to this list as I learn of more groups.)

Many, many groups & information sources to choose from that you can hook yourself up with!!

P.P.S. Good quotations about nukes here (also a growing list of good films about nukes & other odds & ends of info).

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “The problem of nuclear power is it’s not built on concrete, it’s built on lies.” – Greg Palast, author & investigator


10 2011

Ready, FIRE!!!!! Oops. Aim…

<Sept. 23/11>

We know the correct order is Ready, Aim, then, & only then (if necessary), Fire.

But we live in a world/culture in which the appropriate order is very seldom followed. We’re always in such a bloody rush, aren’t we??


I believe I am not alone in observing that, broadly speaking (no pun intended!), men are wired for action.

Women, on the other hand, seem to be heavily wired for, hmmm…relationships & socializing & chat – lots & lots of chat. (Yes, I am painting with a broad brush here. Indulge me.)

I wonder, could we change the way things are done here on Planet Earth, such that women would always have the opportunity to talk something out, six ways to Sunday (then all the way back again), before anyone got too impatient & “fired” before aiming?

(If the men started getting too impatient with all the chat, we could send them out to hunt a mastodon or … dig a hole, put up a fence, build a house, build a barn – something constructive.)

If we had always tried a little harder to look before leaping, maybe our lovely world would not now be rocking & reeling & blanketed with lead & nuclear waste & chemical contamination & … well, I’m sure you get my drift.

I know, I know. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Bit late now, isn’t it?

But as I heard Gordon Pinsent say while reading something-or-other on a CBC Radio show the other week, “No matter how far you’ve gone down a wrong road, turn back.”


P.S. Apologies if I am being a little…hmmm…“politically incorrect?” in the gender … well, the gender whatever-you-call-it. Not wars. The gender…situation. Sometimes I just gotta call ‘em as I see ‘em (& btw too, I do not blame men for everything that has gone wrong on our beautiful planet. Women have made & are making our fair share of mistakes too, no question).



10 2011

Thanksgiving Paradox

Thanksgiving weekend is sure a mixed bag, emotional complexity-wise…for a lot of us… isn’t it?? (Christmas too, of course).

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada (we celebrate it much earlier than the Americans do).

Families get together on this weekend & cook a turkey (assuming they are meat-eaters) & eat mashed potatoes & squash & pumpkin pie. It’s tradition! There is usually a lot of food – & often a lot of people – involved.

This was true for me for many, many years of my life. Decades. Divorce changed all that. I have a tendency to get a little “Oh poor me”-ish most Thanksgiving weekends. (Yes, it’s quite tiresome – even to me.)

The irony or paradox is this: many people apparently don’t really enjoy Thanksgiving weekend – either ‘cos they have to do a s-itload of work, cooking & baking & cleaning, &/or they resent “hosting” the extended family year after year, or their children don’t spend enough time with them, or they hate having to spend time with weird Uncle Bill or Aunt Frieda or… are you getting my drift??

There appears to be an almost infinite # of ways to dread & fail to enjoy Thanksgiving weekend.

Me, I feel a little hard done by because I am no longer an integral member of a large & happy conglomeration of people (more or less) related by blood – & I often get that “left out” feeling. (Last year I wrote about this under the blog posting title ‘Not wanted on the voyage’ )

Yet I think some of my friends envy me because I don’t have to work my butt off, entertain relatives I could quite frankly live nicely without, thank you very much, & I actually have the freedom to enjoy long walks or bike rides, some much-appreciated solitude, & usually still manage to be invited to a lovely gathering of one conglomeration of people or another, to boot!!

Since I’m pretty good at practicing gratitude on a regular basis, I’m actively grateful for a great many things indeed. Maybe I’ll always be a little sorry I’m not part of a semi-tight & semi-decent & semi-normal (whatever that is) “family” – but I am grateful that I seldom have to hang out with folks who really bug me in a big way – & I’m also (now that I think of it) grateful that Thanksgiving only comes around once a year!! Its emotional freight is a little on the exhausting side…you know??


p.s. The post ‘Card Therapy or Families: It’s All Relative‘ covers some ground about all of us & our … dysfunctional families – in this very, very dysfunctional world of ours.

Quote of the day: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, in The Language of Letting Go. (more quotations on gratitude here)



10 2011

Demolition Derby (& Possibility)

<Sept. 4/11.>

So, I worked at the beer tent at the annual local Labour Day fair (yes, I do some funny odds & ends of jobs now & then to earn a buck or two), & there I was, listening to the bizarre sounds of a “demolition derby” (old beat-up cars deliberately crashing into each other; yes!) taking place on the other side of the fence. I couldn’t actually see it from where I was sitting, which was fine with me. I’d never been to one of these events, I guess ‘cos I’ve never had any desire to!

& I listened to the noise & the maybe inevitable thought came to environmental activist me that our planet is currently home to a gigantic demolition derby.

You know??

& most of its occupants appear pretty much oblivious to this hard (& to me unavoidable) truth.

Bang! Crash! Burn up those fossil fuels like they’re going out of style! (Hmmm. They are, they are!!). Fill all the water bodies with toxic gunge – & the air, don’t forget to poison the air!

Ah. It’s a pretty tough spectacle to be having to watch. Especially when, as I was saying to a friend the other day, one is not really permitted to discuss this in “polite company.” (That’s OK. I’ll go right on discussing it in “impolite” company!)

So, I finished my shift at the beer tent – agog for hours at the ferocious quantities of beer being consumed by the (mostly fairly young) people there in droves – & also at the copious amounts of bare female flesh on display, & took myself home for a good night’s sleep.

& woke up the next morning to a completely different theme – the one that presents itself to me most mornings, pretty much.


(I never really thought much about possibility before my Landmark Forum experience. LMF is controversial & my own experience with it somewhat ambivalent. Key elements emphasized are transformation, authenticity, integrity, & possibility. I definitely found the experience inspiring & even a little life-changing. I wrote about it here.)

Focusing on possibility – rather than limitations – is, in my view (& not just mine!) a great way to blow your socks off on a regular basis (in a good way!). Call it possibility, or call it potential, either way, the truth is we human beings are capable of truly amazing feats – provided we don’t box ourselves in like crazy all the time (which we definitely have a tendency to do… See the post here for some interesting comments by a very interesting man about people & boxes in this culture of ours).

Well. So. On Saturday night I felt despondent. The demolition derby gave me the willies, & the demolition derby we are conducting on this planet is wildly sobering & even despair & crazy-making, if you’re that way inclined.

Mostly, I am not that way inclined.

I’d rather dance with possibility than wrestle with despair.

So, yeah, here we humans are, very definitely conducting a very large-scale demolition derby.

I’ll keep right on doing my thing – being a Mom, environmental activist & writer – espousing action (since, although hope has more or less left the building, we have to continue to occupy ourselves in worthwhile fashion with our lives & what remains….do we not?).


p.s. All kinds of things get me feeling opened up to possibility: walking, singing, great conversations with people, “protests” (to me protests are really celebrations), writing, books… Sure, I’m a “weirdo.” But I am never, ever, ever bored, & I do have a lot of fun, & I do meet the most utterly wonderful people!!

p.p.s. 2 more postings about possibility, here & here 

‘Quote of the day’: “What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Runners-up for Q of the day: “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Jackson Brown, Jr., writer

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by sceptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men [people??] who can dream of things that never were.” – John F. Kennedy

“The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous, and enduring, and thus more intelligent, even competitive.” – Paul Hawken

“Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you will not succeed. You have already succeeded if you’re out there representing truth or justice or compassion or fairness or love.” – Doris Haddock (Granny D), who walked across America at the age of 89, to highlight the need for campaign finance reform

“The message, so firmly, is – don’t give up. Don’t hang with the cynics, the angry-hearted, the whiners, the blamers, the negative minded. Hang with those who believe in love, hope, and beauty – and then work with them to make this a reality. This is our planet. This is our time. This is our call to action.” ~ Guy Dauncey, author of The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming



10 2011

Plans = Neat. Life = Messy

This little equation came to me this morning as my carefully-laid out plan for the morning hours went off the rails by 8 AM.

Ask anyone who’s a parent! You can plan ‘till the cows come home about what life with children will be like. How your children (& life) will turn out. Geez, you can plan how the next hour will go, with a toddler (or 2) to look after.

Just don’t count on any of it coming to pass…alright?


p.s. Would someone please tell this to all those nuclear engineers & technicians & nuclear boosters?? Most of us can’t keep our own single lives on track for more than about 20 minutes. Any parent of a toddler can tell you this simple truth even without the benefit of rocket science or an engineering degree. So anyone who thinks s/he/they can safeguard a man-made nuclear plant from “accidents,” or safely contain dangerous nuclear wastes for a million years is just whistling Dixie, as the old expression goes.

Plans are very, very neat & precise.

Life / reality is messy. Very, very messy & unpredictable indeed.

It’s only hubris in the nuclear world that leads its members to think otherwise.

Out with the “engineering euphoria” already – pullese!! & in with some good, solid old-fashioned common sense.

p.p.s. Of course Pema Chödrön is brilliant on the subject of life’s messiness…

Quote of the day: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell, US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 – 1987)


10 2011

Occupy Everywhere!

Hooey, is this international movement exciting!!

Lots of possible sites to visit listed here, thanks to various friends who’ve sent me stuff. Tons more springing up every moment, I’m sure!!

(I came late to this party. Had my head elsewhere, & heard about it finally when someone sent me the first item below. Better late than never, eh? It’s gonna be a very longggggg party – so consider yourself invited!)

The Best Among Us, by Chris Hedges

We Are the 99% – in a diversity of voices, who this movement consists of. Very, very moving.

First ‘Official’ Statement From the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now by Naomi Klein

10 Things to Know About Wall Street’s Rapacious Attack on America

99% vs. 1% — The Latest on Occupy Wall St. Movement: 853 Cities, Occupy Philly Inspires, Media Coverage Improves

1000 cities around the world are participating in the Occupy Movement! To find out about an event near you go here or here Watch live streamsOccupy Streams

Occupy Wall Street FAQ (although this item appears to be Toronto-centred)

The Media Co-op – Local Independent News has launched a platform to cover Occupy actions across Canada. Go here for coverage of the movement across the country & to upload stories & photos from Occupy actions in your own community.

Occupy Together Compilation of short videos/statements on the Occupy Wall Street movement – David Korten, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibbon, Chris Hedges, Michael Moore & more.

Conservatives Trying to Sabotage the 99 Percent Movement Over the weekend, an assistant editor with the right-wing magazine “The American Spectator” bragged that he infiltrated a group of protestors as they marched to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on Saturday and that he was at the forefront of provoking the police to respond violently.  The group was protesting  the museum’s unmanned drone exhibition – and were pepper sprayed after a confrontation with museum security.   Patrick Howley – the right-wing editor whose only intention was – as he put it in an article he published later – “to mock and undermine” the movement, was one of the first to taunt and confront the Museum’s police.

Occupy Toronto Market Exchange

Occupy Toronto

Another Occupy Toronto protest planned for Wednesday


P.S. I’ve been saying for a while now that protests are really celebrations.

P.P.S. Please forgive my Toronto-oriented bias. I just happen to live fairly near that city!!

P.P.P.S. Some good quotations about civil disobedience here


10 2011

Tar Sands Action: Dear Mom

** I wrote this at the same time as my other recent Ottawa tar sands protest blog posts. Just finally posting it now, finally; never mind why, too long to explain, OK? I wrote it as though I was telling my Mom about the protest (not all Moms want their kids taking part in protests & getting arrested…you know?)

Dear Mom:

I wanted to explain to you why I went to Ottawa a few weeks ago with the express purpose of being arrested at the tar sands protest that took place on Parliament Hill on Monday, September 26th.

As you know, civil disobedience has a long & proud history. People like Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks & Nelson Mandela all committed acts of non-violent civil disobedience. The Council of Canadians’ Maude Barlow was arrested on this particular occasion. I’m in mighty fine company!

Dr. Howard Zinn, an American historian, academic, author, playwright & social activist, said “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy, it is absolutely essential to it.” I think he’s nailed something there.

I don’t know if you, or most Canadians, have any idea how ferociously destructive the Alberta tar sands project is. Or how far-reaching its impacts. 85,000 square kilometres – an area larger than Scotland! – is currently leased for tar sands development. Every barrel of oil extracted consumes between 3 & 5 barrels of water, releasing the polluted water into toxic tailings ponds that now stretch over 170 square kilometres. Even if they shut down the tar sands today, those ponds would need to be monitored for 150 years. That is some toxic!!

Our government subsidizes the oil industry to the tune of over $1 billion every year. I’m going to repeat that, to make sure you really take it in: Our government subsidizes the oil industry to the tune of over $1 billion every year. Yes. Our government gives over a billion dollars a year to the richest corporations, while slashing funding for the renewable forms of energy we need to be focusing on from here on in (& a thousand other things Canadians really need – crazy things like clean water…you know??)

And the oil industry – with its more than a billion dollars in gift money (our tax dollars, btw) – treats downriver communities with contempt.

Aboriginal communities downriver now have poisoned water, & their local ecosystems have been destroyed. The industry breaks both treaty agreements (20,000 treaty violations alleged by the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation) & international law.

A couple of years ago, Suncor had a spill. They called other companies in the area right away & advised them not to open up their water intakes. They waited 36 hours to tell the residents of Fort Chipewyan. I call that contempt. When oil company bigshots visit Fort Chip, they bring along their own water. These people know what they are doing. They don’t care about the people in the area, & they don’t care about the rare & aggressive cancers now affecting even the young.

For me, environmental issues are really, at bottom, always about people. When we trash the earth, we are trashing people. As Chief Jackie Thomas (Sai´kuz First Nation) said at the Ottawa protest, “If we don’t take care of the land, the land will not take care of us.”

I didn’t expect to see anyone else from this area at the protest – but I did. I saw three other Durham Region residents who, like me, were arrested because we feel we must stand up & be counted.

We knew that over 1200 people were arrested in Washington in late August to protest the Keystone XL pipeline & the tar sands, & that more civil disobedience will be necessary to force our governments to stop listening to the oil industry, & start listening to regular people (& common sense!).

I once saw a button that said, “Silence is the voice of complicity.” I believe this is true.

I want you to know I’m not at all ashamed of having been arrested (for the second time now). I’m proud of standing up for what I believe in. I hope you’ll be proud of me too!

I think you understand that I’m not doing this for me – I’m doing it for all of us. Especially for the indigenous people of Alberta, who are right on the front lines of this horrible assault – & also for my children & the grandchildren I may have one day.

As a funny placard I saw in Ottawa said, “Silly adults – the future’s for kids!”



p.s. There’s a really good, short (8½ minute) YouTube on the Council of Canadians Web site. It’s called “The Dark Side of the Boom: Canada’s Mordor.”

p.p.s. There’s also a well-done 10 minute YouTube about the protest that includes scenes from our civil disobedience training the day before, & snippets of the speeches at the rally on Parliament Hill. Plus a shot of Maude Barlow & her fellow arrestees. Amazing what’s packed into that 10 minutes!!

p.p.p.s. You might want to check out my 4 other postings about the Ottawa tar sands protest:


p.s. # 4 (Geez; me & my P.S’s, eh??) You might also want to check out the site – & its upcoming November 6th action in Washington!



10 2011

Unattended Sorrow

I’m on a sort of “retreat,” at a friend’s cottage, all by myself. It’s not really time off (I’m working), but time away. It’s absolutely “what the doctor ordered” for me after a ridiculously busy late August & September & early October.

I brought with me the book Unattended Sorrow – Recovery From Loss and Reviving the Heart, by Stephen Levine, & am reading it slowly. (Usually I gobble books.)

What a treasure this book is! Heck, even its title is immediately … evocative.

Do we not all have an “unattended sorrow” – or more likely several? I know I do.

I don’t need to spell them out – the old ones, the more recent ones; the details aren’t the slightest bit important. They all have a similar flavour. Maybe yours do too.

I know I spent a lot of time – decades even? – shoving down the ones from my childhood. They weren’t just “unattended,” their existence was utterly denied. Well, not denied, as that implies that I had some sense they were there. I didn’t!

Though I’ve felt as though I’ve been “handling” the more recent ones “as well as might be expected” – not denying them – I’ve perhaps been doing my usual “I’m tough! It didn’t hurt all that much” schtick. Not “honouring my pain,” in the Joanna Macy phrase.

Well. Levine understands. His words are like a flashlight, illuminating some dark corners I hadn’t even known were hiding there.

Highly recommended reading!!


Quote of the day’: “[T]hose who insist they’ve got their ‘shit together’ are usually standing in it at the time.” Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

p.s. back at home now. Still reading it…slowly, slowly. Just read in Chapter 26, “Breaking the Isolation of Fear,” the most incredibly moving testimony of a woman whose childhood was cold-cold-cold, & how she found her way – through “service work” in a hospice – to occasional moments when “…the love would get so thick I would nearly swoon.” Wow…

p.p.s. Found a collection of Stephen Levine quotes here



10 2011

Why I Love Being an Aries

<April 22/11.>

Aries is the astrological sign of people born between the dates of March 21st & April 19th. (In the Earth Medicine system, Aries corresponds to Falcon.)

Not everyone “believes in” astrology. I didn’t used to either. After reading two Linda Goodman books, Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs & Linda Goodman’s Love Signs, though, & learning the extraordinarily accurate ways in which she describes people & relationships, I signed on! (It’s eerie, even, at times, how much she pegs certain astrological combinations! I also sometimes find Rob Brezsny’s horoscopes eerily prescient – not to mention gorgeously written!!)

Aries people are said to be the “infants of the zodiac.” It’s a rather fun sign to be!

When we are happy, like an infant, we smile. When pricked, we scream. Our moods change quickly, & we’re unable to stay mad for very long. Bad temper is always gone quickly, like a summer storm. (It may be pretty intense – but it passes fast!)

Infants (& Aries people) live in the moment. We don’t spend our time (for the most part) lingering over past events, resentments & hurts. We don’t put off living today because we’re dreaming about some imagined future, good or bad, either.

We are, in general, right here, right now. It isn’t always fun – & it’s often intense – in a good way, I think.

We are very easy to please! (Not always, of course. Like anyone, we can take situations & people “for granted.” But we can also be – like a child – easy to make smile, & laugh. We’re kids! We can fly by the seat of our pants & enjoy the unpredictable ride while we’re at it.)

I’d been considering writing an essay called “Planning Sucks.”

I know (& love) people who spend so much time planning every move from here to next Tuesday, that they fail to notice a beautiful flower, or birdsong, or cloud formation, or a laughing child, or … almost anything, really, they’re so busy making methodical plans for everything they’re going to do today & next week & next year – meanwhile risking pretty much missing out on every moment that is actually taking place here & now. (Well, I’m exaggerating a wee bit, of course. For sure, though, over-thinking does seem to be a fairly widespread disease.)

Now, if you’re an engineer &/or are in the business of building bridges & nuclear plants & such, I definitely definitely DO want to feel certain you are a very good planner!! ‘Cos if you screw up, we won’t all just have a bad day, we could lose our lives or compromise the DNA of millions of people currently alive on the planet (& all future humans, too).

Actually, this is why I do anti-nuclear work. No one has yet figured out a) how to build a nuclear plant that can be absolutely 100% relied upon not to blow up & b) how to keep nuke plants’ deadly wastes safeguarded for a million years.

Since most of us are unable to keep our own lives “on track” for even half an hour (the GO train I’m currently travelling on, as I write these words, could de-rail, the bus I plan to take after the train ride may crash; who really knows what lies ahead???), I am rather grateful to be an Aries person whose very nature seems to consist of being right here, right now – sucking up the good stuff (& the “bad”), & not missing most of it because I’m somewhere else, past or future-surfing.


p.s. Gotta admit, I haven’t always been as good at just letting things happen as I am now! Couple of things have helped. One was having my life pretty much blow up in my face (an unexpected divorce). When you learn that you really don’t run even your very own “show,” new perspective has a miraculous way of dawning. Secondly, a lot of years went by. Nothing like age to soften the edges!!

‘Quote of the day’: “…the goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way – outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing”… because these activities “preclude awareness of the Divine.” – Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in his book I’m God, You’re Not (reviewed in Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011 issue, their 25th anniversary issue!! Theme: ‘Transforming the World’)



10 2011

Living in a Bubble

I always seem to wind up living in communities where I feel as though I’m living in a bubble. I spent 6 years living in a very-very beautiful small town on the Ottawa River northwest of Ottawa (Canada’s capital city) – where most of the residents earn quite generous salaries & lead very comfortable lives indeed. And where, I suspect, it may be a little too easy to shut out the world’s realities & truths, disasters & pain. It felt too claustrophobic. I had to leave.

Now I’m living in another place that feels a little bubble-y.

I dunno why I can’t just drink whatever Kool-Aid it is all these folks are drinking, & enjoy that “bubbly” sensation. Just can’t seem to do it!

Rosalie Bertell once observed that, once you “wake up” to the environmental crisis, you can’t go back to sleep again.

(Dr. Bertell(1) also said “We know we face extinction if nuclear war ever begins. But we face the same extinction even if the bombs never fall. The production alone of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is initiating the death crisis of our species.”)

I don’t kid myself that activism will “save” the world – but it sure feels a whole lot better than doing nothing!!


p.s. I guess to some degree we all do live in a sort of bubble, don’t we?? This “I am separate & Everything is all about ME” bubble. Yup… Lots & lots of little bubbles in this world of pathological individualism (a Sister Joan Chittister phrase).

p.p.s. Of course too, this whole “Occupy” movement is bursting bubbles all over the place!!  

‘Quote of the day’: “If I am practicing spiritual poverty, which says that I own nothing, then the problems aren’t mine and neither are the energy and compassion pouring through my heart to try to solve them. I am just a link in the process. If I don’t take anything personally, then I can do great work without flagging. The Dalai Lama once said, ‘Try with all your might — to work very, very hard — to make the world a better place, and if all your efforts are to no avail . . . no hard feelings!’” Bo Lozoff, quoted in *Utne Reader*


(1) NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service) has recently released a paper about atomic radiation being more harmful to women than to men. You can find a news release about it here



10 2011

Little Me, Big Me

Sometimes I feel sort of little. I’m “the baby” of my family of origin; I have 3 older siblings with whom I was presumably always, as a child, trying to keep up. Always comparing myself, & finding myself wanting.

Now I hang out with a lot of environmental activists, compared to many of whom I feel kinda the same way. They are so smart, so competent, so ballsy. In the anti-nuke biz I am totally blown away by the sort of bigness of my colleagues’ knowledge, technical expertise & years of experience.

I guess I have one or two other reasons for feeling “small.” All of it very personal, I suppose you could say. Family dysfunction stuff…you know.

Yet I strongly suspect my feeling small or not always quite good enough is not a feeling that is at all uncommon. I think a ton of us do.

I think most of us have a lot of … holes in us – from our dysfunctional families/childhoods, & our dysfunctional culture. The “nuclear family” is aptly named, isn’t it?? It doesn’t seem to serve us very well at all. (It’s too darn small!!)

Paradoxically, the times I feel “big” – feel really good about what I’m doing & the ways in which I’m contributing – are when I’m not just thinking about myself. I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing ‘cos it’s good for my kids…or my community…or my family…or the world.

I like to try & keep my ego in check, ‘cos anytime I find myself getting a swelled head, I feel I’m just being that “little” me. I prefer to be the “big” me – the unselfish me, the do-I-really-need-to-be-petty??-no-I-don’t” me. The “what-is-best-for-all-of-us?-I’m-just-one-of-the-worker-bees-in-the-colony” me.

When I’m succeeding at being “big me” instead of “little me,” I feel…useful. Loved. Appreciated. Like one…small…member of a big & wonderful tribe of people.

I may very well go on rassling forever with the old neurosis about not being good enough. (Maybe not, too. That would be cool!!) Meanwhile, I think I’m making pretty good use of myself, & that helps me feel … big… in a good way.


p.s. I’ve been reading Stephen Levine’s wonderful book Unattended Sorrow – Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart. Awesome, generous, compassionate, wise book (& author!). Levine sure “gets” the littleness/bigness stuff. We are all rassling with it…

p.p.s. I spent Saturday hanging out with the Occupy Toronto crowd. Fun, fun, fun!! I think we were probably all feeling both little & BIG. It was an awesome day! 

Quote of the day’: “He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson



10 2011

Occupy Toronto: We.Are.the 99%!!

So, I went down on Saturday (Oct. 22nd) to check out Occupy Toronto. What a blast!! :) :) I’ve previously established that, to me, so-called “protests” are really celebrations – so I knew even before I went that I’d have a good time. What’s not to like about hanging out with ballsy & energetic young people bound & determined to change the world? I mean…??? I think we older activists (& non-activists!) need to salute them like crazy. I know I do!!

Highlights of the day:

  • Awesome short (& powerful) meditation during the noon “general assembly.” Insight shared: feelings come before thoughts. If we can chill out & calm down on a regular basis, our thoughts will become similarly calm, less agitated, less … disturbing & distressing (to ourselves & to others)
  • Donating granola bars & apples at the food tent (quote from the novel So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell: “I understood not only how entirely generous they were but also that generosity might be the greatest pleasure there is.”)
  • Empowering march through the streets to Toronto’s City Hall for a rousing rally involving some really inspiring speakers
  • Fabulous organization: legal tent, library tent, logistics/info tent, safe area for women, safe area for men, school tent, story area, medics on-site, media committee on-site
  • Free Hugs” buttons
  • Great opportunity to wear my own favourite buttons (see below)
  • Hanging out with new friend Karen & her delightful 5-year old (yes; protests are family-friendly!!)
  • Lots of great placards/quotes (see below)
  • No fear
  • Overall great energy at the Occupy Toronto site (King & Church, St. James Park at St. James Cathedral)
  • Solidarity. This movement is for everyone!
  • So many smiling, friendly people!! :)
  • Tasty beans (local ones) offered to me by young fellow (a “stranger”) during the march
  • The energy, smarts, friendliness & overall positivity of the young “occupiers” (these young folks are not angry…but they are determined)

Great placards:

  • 1% – please help us make it 100%!
  • Abandon greed. Kindness is worthwhile!
  • A wise person knows there is something to be learned from everyone
  • Capitalism cannot be reformed
  • Dream big!
  • Justice is what love looks like in public
  • Redefine wealth & success. Strive for good karma, not cash
  • Separate oil & state
  • Silence is LOUD
  • Tax the banks. Bail out people!
  • The ‘evolution will be televised!
  • There is always free cheese in a mousetrap
  • Why do corporations own EVERYthing??
  • Will work for change
  • YOU are the spark

Neat Quotations:

  • Corporations spend $25 billion a year, using nearly 10,000 lobbyists to influence our governments.” – Democracy Watch Canada
  • “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell in 1984
  • “The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life, the more you realize that how you use it is all your responsibility. We face such a big task, so naturally we sit down for a while.” – Kobun Chino (outside a quiet area at the park, used for quiet meditation, e.g.)
  • “When you take non-violent action, at first they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Empowering chants on the march:

  • Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like!
  • The people, united, will never be defeated! The people, united, will never be defeated!
  • WE. ARE. the 99%! WE. ARE. the 99%!
  • Whose streets? OUR streets! Whose streets? OUR streets!

(chanting these over & over in the presence of a ton of other likeminded people is pretty intoxicating!!)

Buttons on my coat:

  • Ban asbestos
  • Bread, not bombs
  • Honour teachers
  • Humans aren’t the only species on Earth; we just act like it!
  • Nuclear Free Ontario
  • Poverty is a Weapon of Mass Destruction
  • Silence is the voice of complicity
  • The world can no longer afford the rich
  • We must BE the change we wish to see in the world

Final comments:

New to protesting? I suspect it’s possible to attend an event or happening like this & find it un-welcoming. You might expect it to feel like you’re in a movie or something, & find it doesn’t feel that way at all. Hollywood, it ain’t. In my experience, if you just kinda slow yourself down, chill out, & don’t have a whole lot of expectations, things will go well. Be friendly. Smile! Ask someone a question, or for help, or directions. You’ll soon find yourself chatting with “strangers,” having a very nice time. Please also know that marching through the streets of a big city like Toronto & chanting along with the crowd is a very empowering feeling! You don’t feel stupid at all (something I know most of us fear terribly); you feel good!!

Regarding the fear of arrest: Off the top, it’s extremely unlikely this will happen. We are allowed to protest! Secondly, being arrested will not necessarily give you a criminal record. I’ve met a practicing lawyer who’s been arrested almost 20 times, who has no criminal record. A practicing lawyer. I’ve been arrested twice so far & do not have a criminal record.

I loved what Toronto writer & long-time feminist Michele Landsberg said in her short speech at the City Hall rally on Saturday. She pointed out that this movement is inter-generational, multi-racial & led by youth. Youth who have, btw, already succeeded in “changing the narrative.”

She said it reminds her of the women’s movement of the 60’s & 70’s, that also did not start out with specific demands, yet led ultimately to the whole darn world being changed. She encourages the Occupy movement to get so big it cannot fail.

I second that emotion!


P.S. As I walked up Bay St. the other day, surrounded by fellow “protesters,” I realized with a start that this is the movement I’ve been waiting for…for 40 years! I was still a teen-ager when I discovered that capitalism really just didn’t/doesn’t turn my crank. I’ve done lots of activist stuff since then, particularly in the past 20 years. But this movement – finally! – is getting at the very root(1) of all the environmental & social justice issues I’ve cared so deeply about for so many years. To me, it’s pretty much the most exciting development I can recall…ever!!! :)

Quote of the day’: “I love humanity. Let’s figure this shit out together.” – Wall St. “protester”

P.P.S. I found a photo of this young man with his awesome placard here, a link sent to me by an acquaintance. I encourage you to check out the site’s amazing photos. You may find the text puzzling, off-putting, weird, or …. whatever. I’m not offering any endorsement or comment on the text – I just want lots of folks to see the photos!!!

(1) Colonialism. Corporate rule. Patriarchy. Hierarchy. Institutionalized greed & power abuse.


10 2011

12+ Things I’ve Learned About Men

<July 19/11.>

I’ve compiled the following list of some major things I think a lot of women have learned (the hard way) about men. Gonna be 100% upfront here though: I compiled this list on my own – just me, myself & I. So I’ll just speak for me, little old me, little old Janet McNeill who has as much potential for being wrong as anyone. This is not The Gospel, only the gospel according to Janet. (For now…)

So, if the list sounds like so much B.S. to you, so be it! Create your own list – & have fun doing it!! 

2 qualifiers right off the top:

  • I suspect the “younger generation” of men (I’ll leave that definition up to the reader) may be somewhat less inclined to exhibit some of these tendencies. Or maybe not. What do I know??
  • Women can be a right pain in the behind sometimes; don’t think for a moment I don’t know this! We can be petty, mean, gossipy, whiney, vindictive – vicious, even. Definitely, far too many of us are control freaks. I do not celebrate women’s unpleasant habits/tendencies/faults in any way, shape or form, trust me! (Nor do I enjoy those women I encounter occasionally who seem to have some kind of princess complex. Yech! )


Now, to the list!

1. Men prefer DOING, or action, to talking. Women know down to our bones (most of us, anyway) that conversation is not just valuable but essential for ironing out knots & gaining insights – about ourselves & each other – & for cutting problems off at the pass. (I know I’ve had many a very wonderful conversation with the men I’ve loved, when they seemed to forget themselves & just talk openly & freely & passionately about something they really, really care(d) about. Those conversations were the best!!!)

2. Men have simply GOT to look. They cannot let a woman walk by without checking her out. Some of them do this in an awful, unsubtle & quite degrading way, while others know how to do it without being the slightest bit obvious. We women know how this subtle form of checking people out works; we do it all the time!

3. Men love, love, love big breasts. Duh. Actually, though, I think men love BIG, period. Big breasts, big projects, big houses, big cars, big decks, big paycheques…big nuclear plants, even. Men just love big stuff. Not gonna try & psychoanalyze this, OK? It just is. (Regarding the big breast thing – I can understand the fascination. Breasts are attractive, arresting objects. But see # 2. Leering is not pretty. Nor is talking to a woman’s chest.)

4. Men don’t apologize. Or explain. Most of them, anyway. Margaret Lee Runbeck said “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” There is a stupid old expression, “Never apologize, never explain.” Look at the world around us. Does this advice seem to have led us anywhere we really wanted to go?? I rest my case.

5. Most or many men have an air of entitlement or superiority that most of them are probably not even remotely aware they have. My take on this is that our experiment with patriarchy is now about 5000 years old, & its tentacles so deeply wired in us, we’re usually not even aware they’re there. I don’t want to ride the patriarchy hobbyhorse too long or too far, though. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

6. Men, in the words of an old friend, are not emotionally “tidy.” I’ve read some interesting commentary on this (e.g., the book Brain Sex(1) & it seems well understood now that truthfully, due to brain wiring/physiology, men do not always easily grasp their own emotions, which (as some writers have pointed out) frequently default straight to anger. It occurs to me now to once again give a plug for the book Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn. A book right at the top of my list of must-reads, for people of both sexes, since it grapples so insightfully with all this stuff I’ve just touched on. Review here

7. Following on # 6, it seems to be the case that, for many men, they need a woman to be their emotional translator, more or less. (One can only assume that women & men are mutually attracted for a variety of reasons, not all of them immediately obvious. Some things just are, aren’t they??)

8. Men aren’t always thinking. When we ask them “What are you thinking?” & they say “Nothing,” they may actually be telling the truth. I know it’s very seldom that I am not thinking, & women friends tell me they are the same. There is no suggestion here that either sex is “right” or “wrong.” Just more of that “Some things just are the way they are.”

9. There seems to be kind of a lot of  “Mine is bigger than yours” thinking among the male of the species. A lot of pissing contests…you know? Competition. War. Women seem to be more wired for cooperation & collaboration. Maybe this is only in my imagination – but I really don’t think so. I’ve worked with women a lot, & our abilities around cooperation & collaboration really stand out. (The talking piece, of course, is HUGE.)

10. There seems to be a tendency toward a fair bit of  “Ready, FIRE!!…Aim among men. Again, perhaps I am just biased toward a bit more talking & putting off the doing until a little more thinking & talking have taken place. Dunno. What do you think??

11. I suspect men are a little more inclined to hold grudges than women are, though I could be wrong about this.

12. Finally, I think men are in general more resistant to change than women are. (I don’t think most recognize this tendency in themselves.)

I once came up with a little equation about men that goes like this:

  • A – Action
  • B – Bigness
  • C – Conservatism (or resistance to change).

Such challenges we human beings face these days, hmmm???? They seem insurmountable – & the frequent inability of women & men to really understand one another, or the other sex’s strengths & weaknesses, sure doesn’t help matters much.

Ah well. Such is life.

Onward ho!


p.s. Almost forgot! I also believe that men need/want to be heroes. I wrote about that a few months ago, here

p.p.s. For a very funny take on men – written by a man – do pick up the book Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys. It’s absolutely side-splitting!! His essay about men, women & horses is also pretty darn amusing!

p.p.p.s. Just found this old post that also has some (somewhat irreverent) comments about the male of the species…

p.s. # 4 on Feb. 16/14. I believe many men have lost their moral compass. & that it is usually women who locate/cement/promote the moral compass. Broad strokes here; always exceptions to every rule, of course.

Quote of the day: “Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men – bring them softness, teach them how to cry.” – Joan Baez, b. 1941, American singer & songwriter

Some other quotations that spring to mind:

  • “Change is a prerequisite for improvement.” – Thomas Guskey
  • “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner
  • “The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” – Audre Lourde
  • “I consider it a privilege to be at the side of an incredible, powerful woman who’s changing the world, while doing the same – without the need to compete, dominate, or submit.” – Avi Lewis, partner of Naomi Klein
  • “The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.” – Carl Jung
  • “When one does not see what one does not see, one does not even see that one is blind.” – Paul Veyne
  • “Sometimes, power is letting go. We must reclaim feminism as that which makes women stronger in ways that each woman is entitled to define for herself. Ironically, this “letting go” of the rigorous litmus tests of feminism will not make us lose the power of consensus that we have, the common insider fear; it will expand and enrich what we have and draw in millions more. A feminism worthy of its name will fit every woman, and every man who cares about women, comfortably.” – Naomi Wolf in ‘Fire with Fire
  • “There is an almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And our collective ability to face painful facts is no greater than our personal one. We tune out, we turn away, we avoid. Finally we forget, and forget we have forgotten.” ~ Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.


(1) Brain Sex – The Real Difference Between Men & Women, by Anne Moir & David Jessel, Mandarin, 1989.



10 2011

Nuclear Waste Conference: Slimed!

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Sept. 21/11.>

Foolish woman that I am, I recently spent 3 full days (Sept. 12-14th) at a nuclear waste conference held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Apparently I am a glutton for punishment???)

The conference was held at Toronto’s downtown Marriott Hotel, & in a perhaps fitting irony, the many small workshops held each afternoon on different aspects of nuclear waste were conducted in a series of small rooms named Trinity 1 through Trinity 5. Trinity was the name given to the U.S. Manhattan Project’s first atom bomb, set off on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert. Ah, life’s odd little ironies, hmmm?

The official conference title was “Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration for Canada’s Nuclear Activities.” It was organized by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) & co-sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, the Argentina Nuclear Technology Association, the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, the Chinese Nuclear Society, the Indian Nuclear Society, the Korean Nuclear Society, the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD & the Romanian Nuclear Energy Association. (Yikes! & you should see the conference sponsors & exhibitors list!? Full program here )

I attended the conference at my own expense, as a retiree. No way do I have the kind of $$ for the regular conference fee they were charging. As pointed out elsewhere on this blog, I’ve been “downwardly socially mobile” all my life & live on peanuts, more or less. (Joyfully, I might add; I’m not complaining! )

The conference was for the nuclear industry, not for members of the public & certainly not for activists…although several of us in the latter category did attend. There were no members of the mainstream press present, & for sure I heard some publicity-worthy remarks made that would have garnered attention had the press been there (it is not an accident that media was/were absent, yes?).

I also spent a half-day the following week at OPG (Ontario Power Generation)’s University & College location in Toronto for a discussion about OPG’s plans to “refurbish” the 4 existing reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station east of Toronto (right on the shores of Lake Ontario), at an estimated cost of $8-14 billion. (Other refurbishments currently underway in Canada, at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick & Bruce Power near Owen Sound are each running $2 billion over budget. Somehow, nuke projects always run late, & over budget, don’t they?? The 2 OPG staff members who gave the presentation about the planned Darlington refurbishment, btw, did not mention the expected price tag, & some of the inconvenient facts that should have come out in response to questions asked, such as, for example, how much waste it will generate, were put off.)

Though not a rocket scientist, I generally manage to learn a thing or two everywhere I go, & these two events proved no exception.

The best way to describe how I felt, though, if I try to articulate what it was like to spend 3 days surrounded by talk of nuclear waste, is … slimed. (1)

Yes, this is a nasty, judgmental & insulting thing to say, & no one knows better than I that the foot soldiers of the nuclear industry (quite a # of whom I know personally) are people too – living, breathing human beings like you & me who care for their families & want to “make a decent living.”

But I’m a truth-teller (it’s right there in my job description!), & the only accurate way to describe how I felt is…slimed.

I’ll be doing several postings about the conference – about things I learned, some things you might want (or more to the point need) to know, & lots of awards for the nuclear industry. I love giving out awards!!  (You can find quite a few here, under the Darlington Hearings heading on this blog).

Nuclear industry types (maybe only the bigshots?? I dunno) are very practiced at speaking out of both sides of their faces. They will say with perfectly straight faces (in this case, to quote Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Prez/CEO Michael Binder) things like “We have a real challenge” (as regards the nuclear operations they oversee) & “We’re not going to tax future generations.”

Say what?????

Nuclear waste by its very definition will tax future generations so far into the future you’d be forgiven for thinking human beings are moral cretins for entertaining for even one moment the notion that creating it is anything less than moronic – perhaps even evil. What kind of human being can utter such things without sprouting an immediate Pinocchio nose on the spot??

There was plenty of this kind of talk during the 3-day conference.

For example, Cameco Corporation’s Karen Chovan said one moment that most of Cameco Corporation’s waste is “low level or even very low level,” yet a moment later spoke of sending their 2010 inventory of depleted uranium (DU) to a recycler in the U.S. You’d have thought she was talking about used diapers, not a horrendous substance being used by the world’s militaries to slice through enemy tanks, leaving its traces inside soldiers’ bodies (& civilian ones, “collateral damage” victims, hmmm?) & causing horrific birth defects &…

Well, my mind boggled. It kept boggling & boggling & boggling.

(More on DU here & here & here)

I heard quite a bit about the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site (very near where I lived for 6 years, btw(2)) – a site generously endowed, shall we say, with “legacy wastes” from the early nuclear years (yes, the Manhattan Project & Cold War era) that leach into the Ottawa River (source of drinking water for the 100s of 1000s of citizens of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, actually), & I also heard about waste sites (so-called “legacy sites”) in Port Hope(2) & Port Granby, Ontario (on the shores of Lake Ontario).

Nuclear industry people will tell you in the first half of a sentence that most of its waste is “low level or even very low level.” Then, in the next breath they will tell you how many millions or billions of dollars (of taxpayers’ money, btw) the Canadian government is giving them to clean up these “legacy” wastes. With – I repeat – straight faces.

A classic example of cognitive dissonance, something I find one encounters quite routinely in the nuclear biz.

“Don’t worry, be happy!! Our wastes are not a problem! It will only cost billions of $$ to clean up our messes!”


I heard enough nuclear bromides in those 3 days to choke a horse. (Then I heard more during the Darlington refurbishment session.)

Let’s get on with it, shall we? On to the other posts…


P.S. On the first day of the conference, there was an explosion at a nuclear facility in the south of France. I only heard about this because one of my colleagues at the conference (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility president Dr. Gordon Edwards) told our group about it. Not one word about this accident came up at the conference. (You can find some info about it hereIf French is not your first language, take advantage of the Google translating option.)

P.P.S. There are 6 posts altogether on this conference. The others are:


P.P.P.S. Very important paper on what the nuke industry is up to in the report ‘Out of Control – on Purpose.”


(1) A dear friend of mine tells me her sister used to say “If you sit on a candle, you’re gonna get your arse burned!” These folks in the nuke biz have to be prepared to stand up to the scrutiny the public is more than entitled to put them under, considering the hard truths about nuclear waste – its price tag in $$$ & in unparalleled risks to our fellow humans – both those living now & future generations.

(2) The Chalk River Labs, a sprawling facility built during the 1940s, are downriver from the community of Deep River, a quite stunningly beautiful small town about halfway between Ottawa & North Bay that was established as a bedroom community for the CRL scientists (Manhattan Project era). It is not, shall we say, by accident that the town of Deep River is located upriver (& mostly upwind) from Chalk River Labs…you hear what I’m saying?

(3) Three books I’m aware of that you can read about the Port Hope scene are Blind Faith, by Penny Sanger & Port Hope – Canada’s Nuclear Wasteland & Nuclear Genocide in Canada by Pat McNamara. You will be shocked & appalled at what you learn. But, as Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said, “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.”



11 2011

NW Conference: Words ‘R Important!

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Sept. 22/11.>

(NW = nuke waste)

I’m a person who’s kind of big on words. Words…phrases…quotations. I came up with a few phrases I wanted to highlight from the nuclear waste conference I attended recently. (My opening, explanatory post about the conference is here.)

The idea of “bumper stickers” came from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Prez/CEO Michael Binder, at the hearings held last year about Bruce Power’s proposed radioactive steam generator shipments through the Great Lakes & Atlantic Ocean for so-called “recycling.”

Bumper Stickers, from the Nuke Industry side:

  • Don’t worry; be happy!     
  • Fukushima was a wake-up call. We hit the Snooze button! (Dr. Binder said the first part; the snooze part is mine).(1) (2)
  • Going forward! (vastly overused phrase; what, did they think we were all going to start going backward???)
  • It’s only ‘legacy’ waste! (see Fancy Language/Creative Use of Jargon award).

Bumper Stickers, from ours:

  • Boys & their toys, eh?
  • Duh!! (in response to so many statements, including CNSC staff person Don Howard’s profound observation that “Even in the design phase you have to plan for minimization” of waste. You’re just getting that now??)
  • Engineering Euphoria Alert!
  • Gotcher Hipwaders On? (Lotta s-it to wade through here!)
  • Hubris Alert!
  • It’s the WASTE, Stupid!
  • Lip Service Only!
  • Nuclear Emperor: Still No Clothes!
  • Told you so!
  • You wanna store it in YOUR basement??

Nuclear Industry Phrases to Watch For (& what they really mean)

  • Benchmarks (we move the bench all the time; whenever we feel like it!)
  • “Characterization” of the waste (meaning, the way we talk about the waste will determine how we dispose of it. If we call it “low level,” we get to throw it in your local landfill site – or burn it. Or add it to the world’s scrap metal supply. Or, hey, we’re creative! Count on it, we’ll think of even more ways to ensure that nuclear waste is everywhere!)
  • Conceptual model (we can’t promise to make things work properly in the REAL world, but we sure LOVE our conceptual models!!)
  • Free-release” (this is what we plan to do, so count on having LOTS of radioactive waste in the air, water, ground, oceans, consumer products…you name it!)
  • Legacy wastes / legacy liabilities (this is humongously dangerous nuclear waste, but if we call it “legacy” it doesn’t sound nearly so nasty, does it??)
  • “Relatively large volumes of low-level radioactive waste” (& low-level means whatever the nuclear industry feels like having it mean, pretty much. So, 2 things here: “Relatively large volumes” is pretty strong language for a nukehead, & low-level does not mean low risk)
  • Robust safety case (if we say it is robust, it must be, eh?? Fukushima was “robust,” but…well, shit happens, eh?)
  • “Significant nuclear legacy liabilities” is how Frank Doyle, President of the Canadian Nuclear Society, spoke of the wide variety of nuclear wastes now needing attention. (This probably constitutes a huge admission from this industry, actually.)
  • The 3 R’s waste hierarchy/reprocessing. If we decide to call it “recycling” you will have to love us for it!! And btw, we don’t want to do it in the right order, namely 1st Reduction, 2nd Reuse & 3rd Recycling, ‘cos then we’d have to actually stop making the waste in the first place.)
  • Unconditional clearance criteria (hmmmm…don’t much like the sound of that!)

Did You Really Just SAY That??

  • “Learning by doing, we create the base for the future.” – Dr. Robert (Bob) Walker, Senior VP at AECL (Atomic Energy Control Limited), Chalk River Labs. (What he was really saying was, we’ve been screwing up like crazy for decades, but we’ve finally caught on that nuke waste is nasty stuff.)
  • “Once you learn to fake sincerity, you can do anything.” – NASA’s Keith Peecook in speaking of the community outreach program regarding the decommissioning of the Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Ohio.I only wish I were making this up. I was stunned to hear him say these words – quickly followed, admittedly, by his comment that you need to be honest with neighbouring members of the public, since they will trust you more & let you off a little more lightly when you tell them about the nearby tritium plume or … whatever – if you have been decently open with them previously. You will have “money in the trust bank.”
  • “Transport risk is quite high.” – Pauline Witzke of the Nuclear Waste Management Office (NWMO = a creation of the nuclear industry), speaking of trekking nuclear wastes around Ontario. (Duh. Duh, duh, duh.)
  • “We are finding things as we go along that we hadn’t quite expected.” – Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada, in speaking of some of the nuclear wastes at Chalk River. (He also said, in reference to uranium tailing waste near Bancroft, Ontario, “There were some areas that had some real activity”(radioactivity, that is to say). He was quite excited about the fact that a fence has since been put up. A fence?? To safeguard uranium waste???? Doh. Too bad birds & other critters don’t respect fences – or read, eh?? (Mr. Corey, btw, receives a Boyish Enthusiasm award.)

Say WHAT???

  • “Do enough monitoring but not too much” – phrase used by M. Rhodes, Canadian Standards Association (who btw wins an Obfuscation award).
  • François Bilodeau from Hydro Québec allowed as how refurbishment activities at the Gentilly-2 plant (the province of Québec’s only nuclear power reactor) – activities projected to cost $2 billion – will generate 5 times the amount of waste that they already have on site. Note: notice how the word “refurbish” has a nice innocuous sound to it, hmm? Here we go again, with nuclear language. Scrape away that pretty-sounding outer shell to discover the real crud underneath…
  • There are things that were “probably thought to be pretty clean in the 1960s that were ‘left in the environment’ for storage.” – Joan Miller, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited staff person, speaking of the Chalk River site northwest of Ottawa. Left in the environment?? Hmmmm…but hey – what’s a little Strontium-90 between friends??(1)
  • “We’ve got to use strategies of minimization – including the use of clearance levels.” – Don Howard, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (In other words, we gotta lower regulatory standards on what can be released into the environment & “free-release” radioactive waste into regular landfills, the air, consumer goods, etc. etc.)
  • This one takes the prize!!! At a small workshop led by Keith Peecook, from NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration), during which he was describing the activities involved in the decommissioning of the NASA Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Ohio, Peecook revealed in response to a question that this facility cost $5 million to build back in 1958. It took 1.68 million “man-hours” to decommission, in 2010 dollars, & cost…wait for it… $250 million.


p.s. Other posts on this conference are


p.p.s. Very important paper on what the nuke industry is up to in the report ‘Out of Control – on Purpose.”


(1) Dr. Binder’s powerpoint presentation from his speech at the conference is on the CNSC Web site here

(2) Article ‘For nuclear, Fukushima was just a bump in the road’ here

(3) Yes, there is Strontium-90 in the Ottawa River at the Chalk River Labs site. There were 3 or 4 workshops on this … “issue.” It doesn’t seem to greatly concern anyone, but…if this is the case, why all the workshops & all the studying that’s being done??? You gotta ask yourself, eh??



11 2011

NW Conference: Kool-Aid & other insights

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Sept. 22/11.>

NW = Nuke waste

Other posts on this conference are

I’ve been to an awful lot of environmental conferences over the past 20+ years – but this was my 1st nuclear industry one ever.

So I learned a few things:

  • Nuclear industry conferences run on time! (There may be tons of completely inappropriate optimism & plans & statements & engineering euphoria & … hmmm, well, deception… but they run ‘em on time!!)
  • Nuke industry events (I guess any industry events) are a heck of a lot more extravagant than the conferences I’m used to! Fancy location, accommodations, meals, you name it (I bet we activists have more fun, though!)
  • Radioactive waste is not defined in the Nuclear Safety & Control Act (so explained Don Howard of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or CNSC). In other words, the nuclear industry gets to play around & fuzzify what is classified as low-level, intermediate level & high-level waste (see ‘Nuclear Industry Phrases to watch for – & what they really mean’ in previous post. (This is a recurring theme in the nuke biz, btw: the way the industry uses loose terms & shifts the goal posts around in the absence of public scrutiny).
  • Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for the costs of dealing with the nuclear wastes left behind in Chalk River & Port Hope & Port Granby (& everywhere else, I guess!).  I haven’t quite figured out how this works. The industry gets the profits, we citizens/taxpayers get the building overrun costs, the refurbishment costs, & the costs of handling the waste. (Geez, lucky us, eh? Not. )
  • The degree of collusion between the nuclear industry & our government is mind-boggling!! Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada, spoke at the opening of the conference. His boyish, golly-gee enthusiasm about nuclear energy was touching, if more than a little misguided. He’s very excited about the tar sands, too. “We’re really lucky in Canada to have it,” he said. (It made me think that the joke-y alternative name for Natural Resources Canada that some friends & I came up with recently must be pretty bang-on: Grab the Resources & Run! Or maybe Exploitation Central.)
  • Very serious boatload of money to be made in this industry!!!! If you have lots of boyish/girlish enthusiasm & a startling lack of interest in connecting the dots, the nuclear industry certainly has a job for you. Not just a job, mind you – a career! Involving hefty pay & benefits packages, too. (Just be sure to leave those moral/ethical sensibilities back in the sandbox where they belong, OK?) If you want to get a sense of what the OPG (Ontario Power Generation) bigshots earn, have a look at this Web site (scroll down to OPG). Wish I had the figures for the AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.) crowd too – I’m sure their bigshots make plenty too.
  • There is something maybe sort of like a “frat boy” dynamic among the engineering-dominated crowd one encounters in the nuclear industry (this industry runs on “engineering euphoria”). Lots of enthusiasm for complicated technologies & machines. Seemingly also a corresponding lack of independent or critical thinking. I guess the money is so good that one does not stop to question the ethics/morality of what one is taking part in.
  • Kool-Aid. I’ve reached the sad conclusion that nuclear industry bigshots (& maybe littleshots, I dunno) have simply swallowed some kind of Kool-Aid that others of us have never found to our liking. The Kool-Aid apparently enables the drinker to deal with the overwhelming cognitive dissonance this industry positively brims with. Nukes are safe! Waste is not a problem! (or, alternatively, it is, but we’ll solve it! It’s been 60 years & we haven’t solved it yet, but Hey! We are “can do” people; keep waiting; we’ll solve it!) It takes millions/billions of $$ to clean up, but…don’t worry; be happy (while we take the money & run!).
  • What does the nuclear industry have in mind for dealing with the planet’s dangerous burden of long-lived nuclear wastes? Looks like there are 3 key strategies:
    • Export (from Canada to the U.S. in some cases & maybe the other way around, I dunno. Not sure what they will do elsewhere. Same kind of thing, very likely.)
    • Incineration e.g., export waste from the Point Lepreau refurbishment project in New Brunswick, Canada to Tennessee in the U.S. – for burning. I wonder how the folks in Tennessee feel about that?? Burning waste from Fukushima; quick 2-minute YouTube about this here
    • Free-release (nuke waste, nuke waste everywhere!!!!!)

Some Stuff You Might Not Know

  • Nuclear energy is very, very good for the economy. Not so good for the environment, mind you, & not so good for the taxpayers who are on the hook for cost overruns & nuke waste clean-ups – & not in the slightest bit good for human health – but it sure does create a lot of jobs & “economic activity”! (Tell that to communities where people are sick from nuclear operations, eh?? They might think it’s time for a new kind of economics & an end to this voodoo kind that doesn’t seem to give a damn about people. Schumacher’s brilliant quotation about this, here, springs to mind.)
  • There seems to be a black hole inside the brains of nuclear promoters where simple common sense does not penetrate. CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) President Michael Binder seems naively puzzled as to why the public is terrified of nuclear energy & nuclear waste. Maybe the big paycheque knocks out brain cells or fries brain circuitry.
  • Lots of fancy language! Some of these dudes can talk for 20 minutes without uttering a single intelligible sentence (& I have a pretty decent grasp of the English language, you know??). See Awards post, Obfuscation award for details on M. Rhodes, Canadian Standards Association dude who could win a contest in how to pepper a talk with acronyms, use enough jargon to choke a horse, & fuzzify a seemingly straightforward conversation such that no one within 10 miles can make sense of a word he says.
  • Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program From the conference program: “In 2006, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and Natural Resources Canada began implementing a $7B CDN, 70-year Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program (NLLP) to deal with legacy decommissioning and environmental issues at AECL nuclear sites.” Etc. Pssst. If you’re a Canadian taxpayer, guess what? You’re paying for it!!
  • Obfuscation: The nuclear industry uses fancy language to make things deliberately obscure so peasants like you & me will just buzz off & leave them alone. One teeny-tiny example: we want to talk about radioactive waste. Radioactivity in the environment. Health impacts from radioactive pollution. They talk about radiation, & how it is everywhere. “There is an unfounded but perceived fear of radiation. Radiation is a natural part of life,” gushes Tom Mitchell, President & CEO of Ontario Power Generation (annual salary: $1,325,119.04) at the nuke waste conference. Typical nuclear industry fuzzifying B.S. (This goes hand-in-hand with complete minimization of health impacts. Don’t worry, be happy!! What’s a little cancer between friends?? Or a little Strontium 90? Or maybe quite a lot of tritium, eh??)
  • We Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for nuclear waste clean-ups in Port Hope, Port Granby, Chalk River & goodness knows where-all else (I suspect there are plenty of locations). One speaker at the conference (Ken Nash from the nuclear industry-created Nuclear Waste Management Office) brightly suggested that those who benefit from nuclear energy have to pay. He meant taxpayers! Yikes! I guess he doesn’t see all those salaries being paid to all those nuclear hotshots & bigshots & littleshots, & the risks entailed as being something the industry itself needs to worry its pretty little head about. It’s up to you & me to pay for all that, & we are paying for it, dear Reader; we are indeed!
  • The nuclear industry appears to finally be admitting – using carefully crafted, understated language – that they have created a very large mess of nuclear waste on this planet. This would be a laudable & welcome development if one sensed that they plan to clean it up, finally, in responsible fashion. What one sees instead (as mentioned above) is that the real plan is to minimize-minimize-minimize. Lower standards & regulations. Call dangerous wastes by another name so they sound sweeter – & release them, release them, release them. This is an industry with a very, very severe hubris problem.
  • Finally, something I had known, but which was strongly reinforced: this is one depressing, difficult & discouraging issue to deal with; not gonna lie to you! It could make you go right cuckoo. But you know what? Ignoring it won’t make it go away. If it weren’t bad enough that the nuclear industry has blanketed the planet in nuclear waste for the past 60+ years, they now plan to add insult to injury by spreading it all over every square inch of our one & only planet, & our lives. More public involvement is needed!!


p.s. Highly recommended viewing for the full A- Z take on the nuclear industry – the 8-part short film “Knocking on the Devil’s Door – Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy.” The posting here also lists a decent # of groups I’m aware of in North America that are active on nuke issues (& they can all use help!!).

p.p.s. ‘Nuclear Roulette: The Case Against the “Nuclear Renaissance‘ is an excellent resource! (I donated a copy to my local library.)

p.p.p.s. Another good read: Killing Our Own – The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation by Harvey Wasserman & Norman Solomon (1982). Sobering, scary, essential reading!

p.s. # 4: Very important paper on what the nuke industry is up to in the report ‘Out of Control – on Purpose.”

p.s. # 5: Fact sheets on nuke waste here (down below the Scream YouTube).

# 6: Plenty of good nuke-related quotations here



11 2011

NW Conference: Awards! (part I)

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Oct. 12/11.>

  • NW = Nuclear/nuke waste
  • AECL = Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
  • CNSC = Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • OPG = Ontario Power Generation


This is my 4th post about the nuclear waste conference I attended in Toronto from September 12-14th. This is the fun one – finally!!   

The others are

I might add that awarding prizes to the nuclear industry is something I’ve done before. Under the heading ‘Darlington Hearings’ you’ll find at least 4 postings listed/linked involving awards for folks in the nuke biz.

Being in the anti-nuke biz can get a person down, you see. It can be pretty overwhelming & discouraging work. You have to make it fun somehow! Giving out awards is a way of introducing a little levity into an otherwise crazy-making preoccupation.

OK, here goes! Some awards are pretty much self-explanatory; no further explanation necessary!

Awards for the Nuclear Industry:

  • Barefaced OUTRAGEOUS Use of Language award: A tie between AECL for daring to use the phrase “Leaving an Honourable Legacy” in the same sentence as Port Hope & Port Granby waste clean-ups, & CNSC head honcho Michael Binder for claiming the nuclear industry (or, oops, I guess he meant the CNSC??) is “not going to tax future generations” with the nuclear waste problem. Right! Sure. Got it.
  • Boyish Enthusiasm award to ADM (Assistant Deputy Minister) Mark Corey, Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada (yeah, a government dude) for his touching enthusiasm about some fences being put up around “some areas [with] real activity” (i.e., radioactivity) in the Bancroft area (post-uranium-mining-related, you understand) & his excitement about the 70-year Nuclear Legacy Liability Program & its $3.2 billion price tag (that is the figure he used, which is not consistent with the $7B figure quoted elsewhere; I guess when you get up into the billions like this, it all gets a little fuzzy??). No matter that nuclear waste will outlive by thousands & 100s of thousands of years any 70-year government program, however excited the not-very-long-term-thinking politicians & bureaucrats may be feeling about it. I betcha Mr. Corey might think twice about buying a cottage or house near those fences he’s so excited about, eh?
  • Buckets & Buckets of Bullshit award – self-explanatory, I’d say…
  • Cognitive Dissonance awards aplenty!! There is so much cognitive dissonance pervading this industry & its various organizations that I honestly have no idea how its foot soldiers are even able to sleep at night. One glaring thing from this conference was the continually repeated claim that the industry is transparent. No one who has paid any attention to the nuclear industry would ever in a million years claim it has even the slightest understanding of the word “transparency.” Come to think of it, there oughta be a Bullshit award! Or even an Outrageous Bullshit of the Century award!!
  • Don’t Worry – Be Happy   !! award to the nuclear industry (in this case, AECL) for basically taking this attitude about the sobering & truly appalling “legacy wastes” in Port Hope & Port Granby. Citizens are supposed to just not worry & be happy because after all, the federal gravy train has come to town & is leaking millions of $$ for a clean-up of all those wastes that are Hey! Not really a problem! Just smile & be happy, everyone!!  
  • Engineering Euphoria / Boys & Their Toys award to the many engineers of the nuclear industry – the profession the nuclear industry rests upon. They’ve always got a way to explain things away, & their boyish enthusiasm for solutions is … well, absurd & foolish, really, let’s just be honest about it, shall we? No solution for nuclear waste 60 years in. No admission that some technologies are just too darn dangerous to stick with. Technological optimism apparently knows no bounds. Even now, post-Fukushima…
  • Fancy Language / Creative Use of Jargon award (weasel words to watch for from the nuclear industry) for their fancy, sneaky use of terms to conceal rather than reveal what they are really up to. Words/phrases to watch for:
    • Below regulatory limits: emissions & spills are always below regulatory limits…have you noticed? They’re always small. Always “not harmful.” Always.
    • Blending: Mixing up different categories of radioactive waste so it can be disposed of in more convenient, less expensive fashion, e.g. into a regular landfill site or an incinerator (yes, burning radioactive materials – quelle idée, huh??)
    • Conceptual model: engineers & their “conceptual models,” eh? Can’t deal with reality, so fire up a conceptual model!
    • Free-release: this is about releasing radioactive materials hither & yon, even into the global scrap metal supply – scroll down to where it says ‘Radioactive Scrap – A Major Environmental Problem’)
    • Legacy wastes: fancy term for the bad old stuff from the good old days, decades ago. Just think, the new waste being created today will one day get to be called “legacy” too!!
    • Refurbish: innocuous-sounding term for spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars to tune up a nuke plant halfway through its operational life (creating a serious shitload of new nuclear waste while they’re at it, btw). See item about refurbishment here
    • Unconditional release: !?!?!?
    • Waste characterization: Fancy term meaning the nuke industry gets to call it whatever level of waste is convenient to them. We all need to remember, though, that “low level” does not mean “low risk.
  • Fox & Henhouse / Lapdog, Not Watchdog award to, of course, our very own dear (not) CNSC. They claim to be Canada’s nuclear regulator, but it’s kind of like leaving the drunk guy at the bar in charge of how much everyone drinks. You know?? The words nuclear & safety don’t belong in the same phrase, for one thing (oxymoron alert!!!), & for another, the CNSC is about as tough on the nuclear industry in Canada as over-permissive parents who permit their bratty offspring to swing from the chandeliers. (I don’t think the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the U.S. is a whole lot different, btw.) Good article Who controls nuclear control agencies?,” written just after the Fukushima accident, about who the nuclear “regulators” are.
  • Golden Handcuffs/ He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune award to OPG head honcho Tom Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell, who earns (well, makes) $1,325,119.04 a year, did a charming imitation of …hmmm…the Mad Hatter maybe?? minimizing the dangers of radioactivity (an “unfounded but perceived fear of radiation”) & making a terribly reassuring pronouncement (not) about safety (“Safety is in fact our foundation”) along with a touchingly (in)sincere statement about how “those who come after us must not be” saddled with the waste problem. (Um, sir, nuke waste will be dangerous for 1 million years! Did they forget to tell you??).
  • How’d They Pull THAT One Off?? award goes to Cameco Corporation. This company (& its predecessor, a Crown Corporation called Eldorado, which is to say our federal government is in this up to its eyeballs & always has been) has created a nasty nuclear disaster in Port Hope (on Lake Ontario), a huge mess now being tackled with public money, & Cameco is selling land to the Port Granby site clean-up folks. They made the waste, made the mess that Canadian taxpayers are paying billions to have cleaned up, reaped huge profits in doing so – & now they sell land for the Port Granby clean-up?? (Am I missing something here??? Guess I should have gone to business school, eh??)
  • Hubris award goes to everyone involved in this secretive, dangerous industry. For lies & deception & the minimization of health & environmental risks from nuclear technologies, & the patronizing of those outside the industry who raise legitimate concerns, & the superior attitudes of industry insiders with their fancy jargon aimed only at shutting down questions & objections. This is an industry with a very seriously dishonest modus operandi (& that is an understatement!).
  • Kool-Aid award for everyone in attendance at the conference (apart from my fellow activist friends) for their brilliant performance of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” – even in the wake of the very recent, unbelievably disastrous Fukushima accident, even in the full awareness of the deeply dangerous nuclear wastes that exist at the Chalk River Labs site, in Port Hope & at Port Granby, & all those sites in the U.S. & Great Britain & the nuclear holocaust that is the ongoing legacy of the Chernobyl accident. Whatever it is that goes into that Kool-Aid, the nuke folks have drunk it down well & deeply. It must be very, very tasty indeed.

Please proceed to NW Conference: Awards! (part II) to finish up with the award ceremony! Next up is the Obfuscation Well Above & Beyond the Call of Duty award…


p.s.  Very important paper on what the nuke industry is up to in the report ‘Out of Control – on Purpose.”


11 2011

NW Conference: Awards! (part II)

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Oct. 12/11.>

  • NW = Nuclear/nuke waste
  • AECL = Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
  • CNSC = Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • OPG = Ontario Power Generation


Other posts about this conference are:



Awards for the Nuclear Industry (continued)

(Part I, A – K, is here)

  • Obfuscation Above & Beyond the Call of Duty award to CSA (Canadian Standards Association) staff person M. Rhodes for a completely & utterly incomprehensible presentation on CSA Guideline N292.5 – a “Guideline for the exemption or clearance from regulatory control of materials that contain, or potentially contain, nuclear substances.” (check it out here! If you’ve got $200, they’ll let you buy a copy!!) More from the conference program: [The guideline] “was recently developed to address a need for guidance on approaches for clearance [italics mine] and of materials from facilities licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) consistent with Canadian and international recommendations. This guideline is also applicable to determining if an activity associated with materials that contain nuclear substances is exempt from requiring a CNSC licence. The guideline summarizes [are you snoring yet?] the regulatory requirements associated with the exemption and clearance [italics mine] of materials and provides a graded approach to designing a survey based on the risk of residual contamination being present.” In layman’s terms, this appears to be about an industry committee having loosened regulations for radioactive materials to be “re-characterized,” & thus released with less (or no) scrutiny or oversight. I think. (Note that this man has won the opposite of a plain speaking award, & that I was completely unable to cut through his incredibly dense jargon-speak.) When asked how the so-called “public consultation” on this took place, Mr. Rhodes replied that it was posted on the CSA Web site. What?? That’s what the nuclear industry/CNSC calls public consultation??? Yikes. (Surely there are rules about public consultation?? As in, um, you have to actually consult the public???)
  • Overused Phrase of the Week award goes to almost every single speaker at this 3-day conference, not one of whom, if I am not mistaken, failed to use the phrase “going forward” – quite as though they were entitled to some kind of prize for … for going forward (instead of backward? Or sideways?? Or, hmm. Maybe down a rabbit hole?? I dunno. I am just sooooooo tired of this hackneyed, overused phrase).
  • Plain Speaking award – 4-way tie here. François Bilodeau from Hydro Québec, who admitted the refurbishment of the Gentilly-2 reactor will create a huge amount of new waste. Adrian Simper from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK, who was upfront about the fact that there is a VERY BIG mess of nuke waste there. (Program reads: “The UK’s nuclear legacy is a major public liability, and arguably represents the largest, most important environmental restoration programme in Europe.” (See article here) Tom Mitchell, OPG Prez & CEO, who admitted, “Nuclear waste is growing” & alluded to the “increased waste from refurbishments.” Finally, CNSC Prez/CEO Michael Binder allowed as how “We have tended to be secretive” & that “most of our conferences are us talking to ourselves” & have not included the public or the press. True story!
  • Pollyanna award – to M. Laraia of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for his skimming-very-much-along-the-surface talk about decommissioning work at Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Plant & various other locations, & his cheerful exhortation to “Be creative!” (Hmmm. Possibly his award should be for “Providing Practically No Details.”)
  • Preposterous Suggestion of the Week award to the man in the audience who suggested that nuclear waste shouldn’t be called waste – as though calling it something else would render it less dangerous. Of course it would also then be less of a concern to all those foolishly misguided members of the public (that’s us, btw) who are scared out of our wits about waste that will require careful handling for, count ‘em, one million years.
  • Refreshing Frankness award to the speaker – Ian Barnes, I believe his name was – who in discussing the decommissioning of a “redundant UK Research Facility” (AWE Aldermaston; he didn’t mention what had gone on there; not sure I want to know!) stated that an aspect of the work was “on program, which is quite unusual with decommissioning” (this right after having stated that building rubble was being released with 95% certainty of the “waste classification.” Only 95% certainty, with radioactive materials?? Yikes).
  • Rocket Science (not) / Doh!! award to many of the speakers at the conference, who seem to think they should get a prize for acknowledging the brilliant insight that, when you are dealing with nuclear projects, you need to “think about waste all the way through, not just at the end.” (Geez, & I thought I’m not a rocket scientist!?)
  • Screw the Taxpayers!! award to the nuclear industry (& our government) for, is it … $16 billion in federal tax $$ to the Nuclear Waste Management Office (NWMO)?? How much to the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program?? $7 billion? How much for Port Hope & Port Granby? Chalk River Labs clean-up & decommissioning costs? Taxpayers’ money, folks!! They make the waste & the profits, we get to own the wastes, & pay the clean-up costs. Quite the deal, eh? Remember that old phrase ‘corporate welfare bums’??
  • Surreal Moments award goes to – the nuclear industry!! For their “Investigation of Tritium in Groundwater” workshop at this conference. I was there! Both at the workshop & at a # of CNSC hearings that have been held regarding this preposterous situation – in the flesh, as it were. I am also intimately aware of the long, sick history of the SRB company in Pembroke, Ontario that makes glow-in-the-dark products from tritium & whose goings-on led to this ever-so-dry workshop at a nuclear industry conference where the hired gun consultant, hired to do a study & later report to this conference, utterly failed to mention how the excessive tritium emissions were discovered at great personal effort & no doubt considerable psychic cost by citizen activists who persistently went to the CNSC over years & years & years & gave about a zillion pounds of their flesh & their time to force this company to at least greatly reduce its tritium-emission-spewing (we wish they’d shut the sucker down, but at least their efforts have resulted in a massive reduction of emissions). Near the end of the workshop, someone asked how the company had managed to reduce its emissions so substantially. Guess who had to answer the question? One of those same citizen activists who has given thousands (or 10’s of thousands) of hours of his personal time over the past 20+ years to protect not only his own children’s health, but that of all the citizens of Pembroke, Ontario. Phew. Yes, I’m a little passionate about this issue, the very one that brought me to awareness of how the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission operates, how very down-the-rabbit-hole/Mad Hatter’s Tea Party the whole nuclear business is. It was surreal to hear this sanitized little workshop – this dry little consultant’s spiel – about a very, very serious situation – & hear no background whatsoever (not one single word) about the citizen activism that led to such big changes at SRB in Pembroke, & also led to the CNSC carrying out the Tritium Studies Project  …which cost Canadian taxpayers who knows how many millions of dollars, & at the public launch event of which I recall CNSC staffer Dr. Patsy Thompson sheepishly admitting that the groundwater plume had not been predicted accurately, based on CNSC’s “computer modelling.” I call it all the Grand Tritium Experiment. The GTE. Citizens of Pembroke, guinea pigs for the Grand Tritium Experiment. Unconscionable.
  • Team Player award to … gosh, let’s just give it to everyone in the nuke industry, shall we? The industry’s many foot soldiers are outstanding in their efforts to prop one another up, even in the face of preposterous lies & secrets, & are experts at not asking one another inconvenient questions that might lead to…actually telling the truth.
  • 3 R’s Waste Reduction Hierarchy Highjacking / We can spin that one! award for disingenuous talk about how the nuclear industry is “doing the right thing” by beginning to talk about “recycling” nuclear waste. The posting ‘Recycling: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly’ delves into this & provides links for further information.
  • Understatement of the Year award – 3-way tie here. Frank Doyle, President of the Canadian Nuclear Society (the organization that put on the conference), who said in his opening address that there is a wide variety of wastes & “significant nuclear legacy liabilities” to deal with (a huge admission from the nuclear industry, actually) & CNSC Prez/CEO Binder for two of his remarks: “Public confidence [about the nuclear industry] is waning” & “The March 11th event in Japan was a wake-up call” & finally, Tom Mitchell, Prez & CEO of OPG, who acknowledged that the accident at Fukushima is “humbling” to the nuclear industry, with its intimation that “the unthinkable might happen.”
  • Utter Obliviousness to Reality award – self-explanatory…no??
  • What a MESS!? award – self-explanatory, yes?
  • Wizard of Oz award – the nuclear genie, the nuclear expert, the nuclear booster – the politicians, the industry people who have shoved & continue to shove nukes down our throats – they are all like the Wizard of Oz. Smoke & mirrors. Sound & fury, signifying nothing. Nothing but destruction, that is. Yours, mine – even their own. They get the prize. (We get the ruined environment, incredibly long-lived waste, & the cancers – & all the heartbreak & pain associated with all those illnesses & deaths & losses).
  • You Want it in YOUR basement?? – self-explanatory, I’d say…

Awards for the Activist Crowd:

  • Can’t believe we stayed through the whole darn thing! award or, alternatively,
  • Didn’t run screaming from the room! award
  • Digging through jargon & bullshit & fancy language award
  • I TOLD YOU SO award for all the truths the environmental community has been telling for years that the nuke industry is finally having to admit to publicly (not that these mild admissions are much comfort, you understand; the waste is still there & it still has to be safely contained for a million years…), or alternatively,
  • It’s the WASTE, Stupid!!just as the environmental community has been saying all along!
  • Telling the Truth award – for telling the simple unvarnished truth, a truth any 6-year old could tell you: no nuclear power is safe.

Awards for the General Public

  • Deer in the headlights / Deeply snowed award for falling prey to nuclear bullshit / bafflegab / snow jobs / jargon. (It’s pretty easy to do!)
  • Deeply puzzled award (Why is it we taxpayers are footing the bill for all this nuke waste clean-up again??)
  • Enemy of the People award (what any person living in a nuclear community would receive for speaking up / truth-telling. See Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People).
  • Innocence & naivete award for finding the secrets, lies, deceptions & nastiness of the nuclear industry simply too much to attempt to fathom or swallow.
  • Quotation of the Year award to Frank Zappa for this gem: “Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.” Hooey!!!


The final post about this conference is here.



11 2011

NW Conference: Final thoughts

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

When I was spending 3 days at the nuke waste conference I’ve been blogging about here

I was feeling repeatedly appalled (& yes, slimed, as I said), & decided I was going to really summon up my courage & get up & say some brave things to the large crowd of nuclear industry people (there were several hundred of them).

I wrote down these notes, & of course, lost my will & courage & decided it was not the right venue for what I’d planned to say. But here it is, just for the record. What the heck, eh??

This what I wanted to say:

Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, once said “Speak your mind, even when your voice shakes.” I hesitate to speak up in this crowd, so I expect my voice is shaking. There are many so-called “experts” here, & that’s intimidating to decidedly un-expert me, but another wise woman (urban life & affairs guru Jane Jacobs) once said, “Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.”

I’ve noticed a few things here, these past few days.

I’ve noticed there is a real “team spirit” that operates among all you nuclear industry folks. A kind of “Let’s not let our buddies down” ethic.

I can’t help but wish we would all share instead a strong call to preserve our planet & all the species here on it (including our own).

Also in the past 3 days, I’ve been learning what the nuclear industry is planning for nuclear waste in the days & years ahead:

I want to ask you all a question. Are you all proud of the work you do?

Would your parents – your ancestors – be proud of the work you do?

Will your children (& grandchildren) be proud of you, & the work you do?

I am proud of the work I do, as an environmental activist. I am very proud of my amazing, smart colleagues who have worked very, very hard to learn how the nuclear industry operates. They blow me away with their courage & their smarts.

My mother, who may have had quite different things in mind for me, did tell me once that she was proud of me for my environmental work. That meant a lot to me.

My children have expressed to me that they are grateful for the work I do, which they understand quite well I do on their behalf.

I do it on behalf of you, & your children as well, actually…& everyone else’s, of course!

So I just want to ask you this: please take my questions away with you, & give them some thought.

& since I’m known for being a big fan of thoughtful & inspiring quotations, let me leave this one with you:

“No matter how far you’ve gone down a wrong road, TURN BACK!” (Source unknown)



It’s now over a month that I’ve been working on these postings. Something about their tone has kept me from posting them sooner.

It’s this: the nuclear industry makes me mad. (I think it ought to make us all furious, actually – so furious we would all rise up & do what needs to be done to put an end to it, once & for all!)

& yet, I know when I’m angry & become rude or sarcastic, it sort of doesn’t make me feel all that good…you know??

I also know that, even if every single human being on the planet did rise up & put an end to the production of nuclear energy (& nuclear arms) right this very minute, we’re still going to be stuck with a ferocious quantity of nuclear waste – for a very, very, very long time indeed.

It’s the same deal with all stubborn issues, you know? Seeing things in simple black & white, “us and them” terms is ultimately not going to bring us any permanent solutions. Any lasting peace.(1)

It’s pretty tempting to demonize those who prop up the nuclear industry. There are no doubt some seriously scuzzy characters involved. (This is a polite understatement, btw. If you’d read Atomic Accomplice – How Canada deals in deadly deceit, you’d understand what I’m saying.)

But the problem of the waste remains.

For the record, I’ve been appealing to the nuclear industry for several years now, in various submissions to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, to recognize that, like it or not, we all share this planet & are simply going to have to work together to clean up the nuclear mess. (My most recent submission, to the Joint Review Panel regarding the proposal to build new reactors at Darlington, is here.)

Not gonna lie to you. I despair at times, particularly over the issue of the genuinely horrific mess the nuclear industry has created on our planet. It is deeply, deeply horrifying, & the more I learn, the more horrified I become. Some days, I wake up tempted to simply stay in bed, covers pulled up around me, & read novels all day. Some days, I do! (No kidding!)

Most days, though, I know that (to quote myself), action is the best possible antidote to despair.

I’m a great admirer of the work of Joanna Macy, who’s done a very great deal of work on the nuclear issue, including pioneering the concept of “nuclear guardianship communities” – a brilliant concept I think we all need to do plenty of talking & thinking & planning & learning about! The sooner, the better…

It all reminds me a little of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which I read about in Antjie Krog’s amazing book, Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa !(2)(I blogged about this amazing book in ‘Courage, Apathy & Evil’).

The old “us & them” mentality never takes us very far. Or, hmmm. I guess it does take us far, but down the wrong road entirely.

To put it another way (this just popped into my head as my pen is racing across the page), it’s unfortunately the case now that Nukes ‘R Us. If we are not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.


P.S. Lots of great nuke-related quotations here

P.P.S. “Nuclear Roulette – The Case Against a “Nuclear Renaissance” is excellent; check it out!

P.P.P.S. Excellent short on-line film called “Knocking on the Devil’s Door – Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy.” The post ‘Nuclear Free Planet’ lists a bunch of groups active on nuclear issues.

P.S. # 4: Another good read: Killing Our Own – The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation, by Harvey Wasserman & Norman Solomon (1982). Sobering, scary, essential reading!

P.S. # 5: On October 29th I attended a powerful workshop, an “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” symposium, at which participants were reminded of the image of a spider web & the inescapable truth that, just as whatever one does to any part of the web affects the entire web, whatever we do to the Earth, we are doing to ourselves. We understand now that there is no “away” for us to send our garbage, waste & nuclear wastes to. Can it be there are still some of us who do not grasp this??

Quote of the day: “The problem of nuclear power is it’s not built on concrete, it’s built on lies.” - Greg Palast, author & investigator


(1) Jane Fonda said in her autobiography My Life So Far “It dawns on me that war is easy. Peace is harder. This sophisticated striving to build bridges is harder.” – Jane Fonda

(2) Times Books/Random House, 1998.



11 2011

Fukushima: Recommended reading/viewing

Funny morning. Had a work task I was supposed to do, but circumstances have prevented me from doing it.

Instead I’ve spent some time reading some messages related to the ongoing nuclear crisis/disaster at Fukushima.

I’d suggest others read these items too – & circulate the links.

The Fourth Reactor and the Destiny of Japan

The Need for Independent Assessment of the Fourth Reactor

Just stay on the blog there & keep reading, folks.

Sobering, sobering, sobering.


P.S. The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility Web site has many items related to nuclear accidents.

P.P.S. More items, added later:

P.P.P.S. There are a # of postings about Fukushima on this blog. Use the Index at the top to find the others. I do particularly recommend the one called ‘Fukushima: The Big Lies Fly High.’


11 2011

Awake! (& very much inspired!!)

On Saturday, Oct. 29th I attended an “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” symposium in Port Perry, Ontario.

So glad I did! Wish everyone would!!

These workshops are a project of the Pachamama Alliance, & are taking place all over the world.

The workshops are run by trained facilitators, using a mixture of powerful video clips & short discussions. The material is organized into the broad categories of

  • Where are we now?
  • How did we get here?
  • Where do we go now?

The video clips feature a veritable Who’s Who of internationally-recognized activists/writers. Very partial list: Vandana Shiva, Thomas Berry, Matthew Fox, Brian Swimme, Maude Barlow, Joanna Macy, Paul Hawken, Van Jones, Sister Miriam MacGillis…& on & on & on!!

All of them very knowledgable & with many insights about how we got here & where we might want to go.

I was alternately knocked on my butt, tearful (the mass extinctions & pollution taking place on our planet are surely enough to make anyone weep) & despairing – then later, wildly inspired by the level of caring, passion & activism taking place on dear old (sadly ailing) Mother Earth.

“Blessed unrest” – if you wanted to read a wonderful book that will devastate you one minute & thrill you the next, Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming (Viking, 2007) is just the ticket! (If you go here, you’ll find a review of it & some memorable quotations also.)

The workshop forces participants to think about our often-unexamined attitudes of privilege & entitlement, question some of our most basic assumptions, & re-think our own unique capacity to “make a difference.” (I like to say we all make a difference, we just have to decide what kind of difference it’s going to be!)

Can we together create a world that is environmentally sustainable, socially just & spiritually fulfilling?

Could there be anything more important to be engaged in, than efforts aimed at doing so??

Martin Luther King once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long – but it bends toward justice.” (He also said “Change is never inevitable, change is always carried in on the shoulders of those who bring change with them.” There is a small list of very inspiring MLK quotations here)

Pachamama Alliance co-founder Lynne Twist points out that each person has her/his unique role to play. One need not agonize or fuss over whether one’s role is small or large; one needs merely to discover what one’s unique role is.

Van Jones, a fabulously inspiring individual, advises us to live from our hearts, not our heads.

Lots of inspiring quotations offered. Inspiring people & sayings & events & poems.

It’s a must-do! Check out the Web site & find out when one of these workshops is coming to a place near you. Get involved! You won’t regret it.

As the poet Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”


p.s. Watch this!! Wombat wisdom (Only 1 minute long.)

p.p.s. & check this out! Drew Dellinger’s ‘Hieroglyphic Stairway’ poem. Brilliant…

p.p.p.s. weeks later…I forgot to mention in this post that a phrase that came up at the symposium was “urgent joy.” We all need a little of this, hmmmm?



11 2011

Pea Soup (a recipe)

Split pea soup, that is.

Yes, I’m sure this seems a little crazy. But I made this soup last week for the first time, from a recipe that’s been in my recipe box for years (probably 15 of them; it was in the Toronto Star EONS ago) & it’s so fast & easy & I love homemade soup, & I just thought why not share the recipe around?? (Well, it is my blog, so I get to put on it whatever I feel like, right? As I’ve also mentioned, I’m an Aries person, & we Aries characters are really just little kids, mostly, so you’ll just have to bear with my childish enthusiasms!)

Okay. Here’s the recipe:

Barb’s Split Pea Soup

Ingredients (I use organic ones):

  • 2 cups dried yellow split peas (about 1 lb./500g), rinsed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder (or the appropriate mix of curry-type spices)
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I use vegetable stock from organic bouillon)
  • ¾ cup diced smoked or cooked ham (I don’t use this)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. In large saucepan, combine peas, onions, carrots, garlic, curry powder, pepper & stock. Bring to boil.
  2. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until peas are tender (40 – 50 minutes).
  3. Puree in batches in food processor (or blender, presumably) until smooth. If you prefer some texture, process only half.
  4. Return to pan, stir in ham (if using; I don’t) &, if mixture is too thick, thin to desired consistency with hot water.
  5. Taste; add salt & pepper & reheat if necessary.
  6. Eat. Enjoy!!

Yield: 8 cups or 4 – 6 servings

Note: When reheating, thin to desired consistency with stock or water. It does become very gloppy, so go crazy with the added water!!


p.s. thanks for the recipe, Barb & the Toronto Star!!

p.p.s. lentil vegetable soup recipe here. Awesome recipe, no kidding!! Now my very very favourite soup… (mind you this leek & potato one is also pretty fine!!)

Quote of the day’: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J.R.R. Tolkien



11 2011

What is Work FOR??

Cheating a little here. Short on time, always long on quotations!

I’ll add to these as time goes on, & will also stash them under the ‘Quotation Central!’ heading.

Meanwhile, here are some inspiring thoughts about our lives & the work we might aspire to do. I don’t know much about the Buddhist concept of “right livelihood,” but I do know the work I do feels like that’s pretty much what it is. Good feeling!!

“This is the true joy in life – the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations.” - George Bernard Shaw

In An Enemy of the People, Ibsen defined work as “the creation of good on earth.”

“Two centuries of philosophers stand in opposition to the modern American recipe for happiness and fulfillment. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t amuse yourself in. You can’t even expect falling in love to deliver you. The most promising way to happiness is, perhaps, through creativity, through literally creating a fulfilling life for yourself by identifying some unique talent or passion and devoting a good part of your energy to it, forever.” ~ Kalle Lasn/Bruce Grierson in Utne Reader

“The return from your work must be the satisfaction that work brings you and the world’s need of that work. With this, life is heaven, or as near heaven as you can get.” – W.E.B. DuBois

“In accumulating property for ourselves or our posterity, in founding a family or a state, or acquiring fame, even, we are mortal; but in dealing with truth we are immortal, and need fear not change or accident.” – Henry David Thoreau

“The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is — it must be something you cannot possibly do.” – Henry Moore, sculptor

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Harold Whitman

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille, from Dance to the Piper – quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Page 9 & in the Notes>

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”  ~ Helen Keller

“Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.” ~ Victor Frankl

“Everyone has the power of greatness; not for fame, but greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – poet Mary Oliver


11 2011

Occupied, Preoccupied

I woke up from a dream in which I was down at Occupy Toronto, so this morning I am preoccupied with thoughts about Occupy.

And my mind is preoccupied with thoughts of all the things I want to do today. It’s Saturday, the first weekend I’ve been at home for three weeks I think & things are a mess here & I want to get sorted out but I think of all those young people down at Occupy Toronto & they’ll be going on another march today & I feel as though I really should be there with them, in solidarity, because I know that all this occupying they’re doing, they’re doing for me too, not just for themselves, that much I know for sure.

And right after I woke up, preoccupied with my dream about Occupy, it came to me how occupied we ALL are, & we’re “occupied” now from the moment of conception.

We’re born occupied – “pre-polluted” (or pre-occupied!) as they say. Toxins in our little bodies from the moment the sperm meets the egg

& we’re born into worlds of privilege or its opposite, & either way, we’re occupied, our minds are occupied

And so many of us are occupied & preoccupied with all our sorrows & our shames, our neuroses & our pain

And we’re born occupied with the idea that we’re “entitled” to this or that (I guess we all wind up feeling entitled one way or another, whether it’s to privilege or to pain) & wouldn’t it be nice if we all just felt entitled to be the very best we can possibly be in a world where the best we can be is the gold standard for every one of us, & the best we can be also miraculously happens to be the very thing that’s best for everyone else in the world too? My best + your best = our best, the world’s best.

Instead of a world in which poverty & greed are always at war, & in which the air is full of poisons, & even the wars being fought somewhere “halfway across the world,” across an ocean, involve the use of sick & evil weaponry that sends its poison floating all over the world & drifting down on (& into) all of us.(1)

Our deeply wonderful beautiful world is occupied with radioactive poisons (chemical poisons too of course) & wastes & our very bodies are under full-time assault & most people don’t even realize this nuclear genie that got out of the bottle is poisoning us all every single day in the form of a cancer epidemic that has occupied us all – we are ALL downstream & not just downstream, we’re awash in it, now that cancer is everywhere & has even become such big business, & I wish to goodness I was making this up!

And who is the more colonized? The colonizer or the colonized?

These 1%-ers. I know they’re very very occupied. They’re occupied with greed & lust for power & feelings of entitlement & superiority.

They think they’re “better” than you or me – but then some of us 99%-ers suffer from some of these same dangerous crazy thoughts that occupy us too.

We are all colonized.

“De-colonize your mind,” said a brilliant young man I heard speak at a rousing Grassy Narrows rally last year at Queen’s Park (the provincial legislature building) in Toronto.

Decolonize your mind & grasp that these young occupiers are just our younger selves – less some of the baggage & mind noise & money & illusions & “stuff” we older, “middle-class” types are occupied with. Bogged down with. Weighted down with. Burdened with.

I salute you, young occupiers everywhere.

You are brilliant.

You are brave.

You are speaking for me…& for all of us.

You are “occupying” for me…& for all of us.

Today I am occupied, & preoccupied, & today I need to be selfish & “do my own thing” – so that tomorrow & next week I can have more energy & brilliance to occupy myself with the things that occupy my life.

But I’ll visit you again soon.

Don’t go away!

Don’t give up!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you… :) :) :)


P.S. my other postings about Occupy are here & here & I will do another shortly ‘cos guess what? I did wind up going down & not letting myself be so preoccupied with organizing my own little life, & went & hung out for a few hours with the Occupy Toronto crowd. More soon.

P.P.S. there seem to be 2 sites for Occupy Toronto, this one & this one. There is probably lots of Facebook stuff too, I just don’t happen to “do” Facebook myself so I don’t know…

(1) Depleted uranium. Read about it herehere & here



11 2011

Occupied: Quotes! Links!

I’ve been collecting some odds & ends of Occupy-related items I’ve been meaning to post since before going down to Occupy Toronto on Saturday (it’s Monday as I write/post this) & before that last post. This post is a collection of some links to things I find relevant & some comments about the Occupy movement from a new friend. Will do a separate post about my Saturday Occupy Toronto experiences.

So, Rami is a new Toronto friend I met in Ottawa at the tar sands protest.

She’s been a keen observer of what’s happening at Occupy Toronto, & I find her very insightful & articulate. Here are some of her observations:

“A few days ago they had 3,000 people signed up for this action [referring to the November 6th action in Washington]. Then suddenly 4,000, then 5,000. Today 12,000 people showed up and circled the White House in one big hug — a symbol of will and attention and motivated action to remind the President of his direct responsibility, and his own promises.

Something pretty spectacular is afoot in this moment in time. The mainstream media is getting some of it, but missing (or misleading about) most. The reality on the ground is very human, varied, organic, strange, brilliant, imperfect: hard to pin down and define because it is in flux and because it is refusing to follow old patterns. Everyone, supporters and opposers alike, are challenged by what is arising in lateral, direct democracy experiments all over the world. How do we understand a movement arising, globally, without leaders? How do we tolerate inclusive, messy, democratic processes when almost everything we know is tied up in hierarchies or dualisms — or both?

I have been spending a lot of time at our local occupation, and each time I am heartened or worried or amazed or disappointed or conflicted or entranced … it is like seeing every aspect of humanity laid bare, the full spectrum, at once in one place. To be wholly in this is jarring when we are used to neat compartments of social relations. In this city, people typically are very closed to one another unless they know each other well. One does not make eye contact with strangers, let alone talk to them. In the park, the default is CONTACT and DISCUSSION — deep, challenging, philosophical, political, ethical discussion. People who are usually hidden away are present and welcome. Idealisms are confronted with actuality, theories with practice. It is unlike anything else, and is also like everything in microcosm.

I read a quote from an early anarchist thinker who wrote that societies are made of social relationships, and that states structuralize and constrain those relationships (and because he was an anarchist he rejected the state’s role as entirely clumsy and destructive). When revolutions happen, the structure may superficially change, but if the underlying social relationships are not addressed, the society really remains the same. A society cannot leave its own legacy behind through revolutionary changes of structure. It is the social relationships themselves that must change in order for a society truly to change. I think we can see this example in the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution…the old order is emulated in the new order, with different flags and rhetoric, but very similar imbalances of power no matter how egalitarian the principles.

It feels to me that the social experiment unfolding in these spontaneous villages-within-cities, arising all over the world, is about taking time to take stock, really look at what we have, get as clear as we possibly can about what IS, and respond with freshness, creativity, resourcefulness, and invention. Nothing is inevitable.”

Later: “I have to admit to feeling concerned about the cold and the pressures against endurance for the physical camps. Already the conversation has changed, already victories have happened — the greatest I believe being the re-charging of dissent!! But much more needs to be done, the momentum needs to keep rolling…and, it’s probably not helpful to cling to one creative form of protest…when this passes, more creativity will arise. The centralized focus of the camps is really helpful as a hub, and I hope it DOES persist, and evolve.

Last night media spoke to the need to connect the off-site community with on-site. There was a privileging of the park, for the first month, and I think that was right. But there is also the real need to be able to work with and draw upon the whole greater community that is NOT at the park. They have made it possible for people to participate more fluidly in committees online, by setting up forums for idea gathering and input, and organizing. So this is very exciting!”

Rami’s blog is here


‘The Story of Broke: This 8-minute film from Annie Leonard – of ‘Story of Stuff’ fame – is utterly relevant to the Occupy movement (& everything else going on in the world!)

Occupy Movement Going Anti-Nuke!

The New Progressive Movement by Jeffrey Sachs

OCCUPY THIS (these next 5 from my favourite astrologer)

Occupy Earth…Naomi Wolf “A world war is underway. It’s unlike any war in history. People around the world are not identifying themselves along national or religious lines, but as a global consciousness: demanding peace, democracy, sustainability, & economic justice. Their enemy is the corporatocracy that has bought governments, created its own armed enforcers, engaged in economic fraud, & plundered treasuries & ecosystems.”

Occupy Your Mind The revolution begins from within.

Occupy Yourself “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi Real change that is sustainable is an inside job.

Zombies Occupy Bank of America in PortlandThe spirit of Abbie Hoffman blesses this action. Put more pranks in your protests, everyone! Time for a Yippie Revival!”

Pirates Occupy Bank of America in New York



11 2011

Occupied: Toronto, on Saturday

** A lot has happened within the Occupy Wall St. movement since I was down at Occupy Toronto this past Saturday (Nov. 12th), & this message may seem obsolete. But I want to record these thoughts anyway. The post here explains my waking thoughts that morning (occupied & preoccupied, I was), & the one here has some interesting commentary & links.

Beautiful day, glad I went! I guess there’s been a march every Saturday – this was just my 2nd (wrote about my first here). Big crowd – the march was in solidarity with indigenous issues (good link about that here).

I guess you could say the reason I was there in the first place is, I’m basically addicted to activism. I’d had that thought on the GO train platform, & started thinking about creating a sort of alphabet of phrases to describe activism & what we need to do, in 26 or so short phrases (I often come up with crazy alphabet schemes – some get written, some don’t!). Didn’t get very far with this one, but these ones came up:

  • Addicted to activism
  • Boycott badness
  • Control is an illusion
  • De-colonize your mind
  • Down with corporate rule!
  • Educate yourself!
  • Fun; have some! (“protesting” is fun!!  )
  • Then I migrated all the way along to “S”
  • Show up! &
  • Solidarity ends separation/alienation

& then I got on the train & my thoughts went galloping off elsewhere.

When I arrived at St. James Park, I took a meander around – saw some familiar faces, more tents than there were on my previous visit, & a crowd gathering in readiness for the upcoming march.

I stood & looked at a collection of placards & saw a # of neat ones. I wound up picking up the one that said, “Only environmental disasters trickle down to the 99%,” since that really resonated for me, & carried it during the march.

Other neat stuff I saw included a stanza from the poem “September 1, 1939” by W.H. Auden:

“All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie,

The romantic lie in the brain

Of the sensual man-in-the-street

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky:

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.” <W.H. Auden>

[I just found the rest here & given how entirely powerful & awesome a poem it is, please-please-please check it out!!]

Ran into Christine, whom I’d met 3 weeks ago at Occupy Toronto. Always nice to see familiar faces! Christine had been to a lie-in the day before (i.e., November 11th, Remembrance Day). What struck me was her saying that the lie-down (to commemorate all the innocent women/children/civilians killed in wars) paradoxically made her feel better than she’d been feeling for a while. I’m a broken record on this: protests are really celebrations! Celebrations of solidarity. Showing your solidarity with other human beings ends that feeling of separateness/separation/alienation we all tend to feel all too often. Solidarity is a wonderful thing! (It was the desire/impulse to show solidarity with some friends several years ago that ultimately led me to anti-nuclear work. Solidarity is very powerful, & one is never quite certain where it may lead. Very likely to adventure of one sort or another!!)

Cool sayings I saw on placards:

  • All the arms we need (picture of 2 stick people w. arms outstretched)
  • Bail out students, not corporations
  • Café Occupy: serving up change 24 hours
  • End Usury
  • Environmental disaster is the only thing that trickles down to the 99%
  • How much is enough?
  • Look out! The meek are about to inherit the Earth!
  • People free to choose will always choose peace
  • Power lies in unity, hope & defiance
  • The beginning is near!
  • The revolution is NOW. Power to the peaceful
  • The best thing about life is it’s never too late to do the right thing
  • We do not own Earth, we only occupy Her

& many, many more…..

There was a good & rousing speech by a woman whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch, who emphasized the need for a diversity of tactics in world-changing (& a diversity of human beings!) & then we were off, marching. I enjoyed the march & the usual chanting, & the drumming, & the running into & chatting with folks I know & others I don’t. The thought that always comes to me, as we chant “THIS is what democracy looks like!” is that democracy is messy & loud & unpredictable & contentious & …… kind of the way any “average” dysfunctional family is. There’s the whole gamut of human emotion & neurosis & pettiness & gossip & brilliance & … you name it! For sure, it isn’t neat, & you can’t predict it, & you can’t wrap it all up like a Christmas package with a nice neat bow.

Okay, okay, enough for now…

Big changes since Saturday. The City of Toronto is apparently determined to end the camp, while the occupiers seem equally determined to stay. A stand-off, for the moment at least. I’ll be watching & listening for developments, for sure!


p.s. Also saw a big placard with the Occupy Wall Street Manifesto – this one I’m pasting in here is from here. Can’t say for 100% sure this is exactly what I saw at St. James Park on Saturday. (I don’t own a camera, or would have taken a photo.) I include it for the benefit of a # of friends who have recently said to me, what is it these people are on about?

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.



11 2011

Placards for Pols

* My other incineration-related posts are found here under a new heading.

So, I attended a Durham Regional Council Health & Social Services & Works committee meeting recently. We have a “burning” issue in Durham Region [east of Toronto, Ontario, Canada] – our politicians have in their infinite wisdom (???) decided to sink close to $300 million dollars into a municipal solid waste incinerator. Oh…politicians. They always like the BIG projects, don’t they?? Big (dumb) projects always seem “sexier” than many small (smart) ones. It makes me so tired.

But I don’t really want to do a lecture on the un-wisdom of politicians – just want to float an idea for some easily portable, inflatable placards to have handy any time one is at a meeting like the one I was at on November 10th & saw Durham’s Regional Council doing their little stupid dance.

Of course I’ve written about the need for placards before – earlier this year, while attending the hearings on the proposal to spend billions of dollars on new reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

There are some definite similarities I’m noticing.

The politicians always act like they’re so smart & really know what they’re talking about, but really they rely totally on their hired guns, the consultants, with their fancy suits & their slick powerpoint presentations, & any citizen with a small amount of understanding of the issue at hand & a slightly discerning ear begins to be able to sniff out the political/industry-inspired bullshit almost before it’s spoken aloud.

Ah. Nuclear plants. Garbage incinerators. Both so very, very yesterday, hmmmm?

Well. I don’t have much time & I gotta get this done, so here goes with my suggestions for phrases to use on placards. Really hope someone comes up with some cleverly engineered portable, inflatable ones. I’m heading to another meeting tomorrow, & I just know the placard sayings I’m going to suggest will be eminently reusable/recyclable then & on many other occasions:

  • Arrogance alert!
  • Back to Math class, please!!
  • Bafflegab!
  • Bozo alert!!
  • Bullshit!
  • Corruption: can you smell it too?
  • Get Durham Region out of my mouth, thanks!(1)
  • Have you forgotten who hired/elected you to DO THIS JOB?????
  • How’s about a little humility?
  • I don’t want to be in your little club thanks but could I please just have a cup of coffee?? (um, since my/our tax dollars are paying for your coffee…)
  • Is there any good old-fashioned integrity in the room???
  • JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION, please! (& spare us the bafflegab/bullshit routine)
  • ‘Not statistically significant’ is a bullshit phrase
  • Please stop treating the public like a bunch of morons
  • Pssst – I think I hear the sound of the gravy train!
  • Rogues!
  • Spare us the fancy language, willya? (or simply, Obfuscation/Fancy Language Alert!!)
  • YOU, Sir (or Madam) really don’t know sh-t from shinola
  • You talk really-really-really fast but it’s all just BULLSHIT!
  • Your so-called science sure isn’t very scientific!
  • We’re paying your salaries…I guess you forgot??
  • Where’s the transparency???

A few more random observations:

  • Civil servants often seem to forget the civil part – as well, of course, as forgetting whom they are hired to serve & who pays their salaries. Ditto for politicians, of course. Not to mention all those corporate pillagers.
  • I am fatally tired of people in fancy suits who think they’re so damn superior to the people – the citizens – the taxpayers – who pay for their fancy suits, & their junkets, & their…well, I could go on, hmmm?
  • We pay their salaries. They get coffee & sandwiches at these awful meetings; we get treated like a mob of unruly peasants; not even a cup of coffee. It’s appalling! (& the public, the so-called “average citizens,” stay away in droves. Death to apathy!!)
  • We get 10 minutes to say our piece to these people we have hired &/or for whom we voted (or didn’t vote) & whose salaries we are paying. They get to act like kings & queens…on our dime. & you thought feudalism was dead???

Finally, a suggestion for the future of politics (& everything else):

  • No more fancy meeting rooms
  • No more fancy suits
  • No more fancy powerpoint presentations that tell everything but the TRUTH

From here on in?

  • Everyone wears jeans & a T-shirt.
  • We all sit in a circle.
  • We all remind ourselves over & over again that we’re all in this mess together. The only way back out of it is also together. (Our politicians & the bureaucrats? They need our intelligence. They just don’t get that yet.)


P.S. I’ve said this before, in a recent post about a nuclear waste conference I attended. It doesn’t really make me feel good to be sarcastic, sardonic, rude. I know down to my bones we all had a hand in making these messes together, & clearly, the only way out of them is also together. Could we please get at it??

P.P.S. In other posts elsewhere I’ve listed some other placards (or bumper sticker wording) I really like, e.g. the ones I’ve seen down at Occupy Toronto (here & here). Also at a Grassy Narrows event I attended in 2010. And, at nuclear-related hearings, here, here & here

P.P.P.S. A person has got to have a little fun, you know?? I guess that’s why I always come up with these crazy placard ideas (or the awards I am always handing out to the nuclear industry). It’s enough to make a person crazy or despairing (or both). Fun is fun, & as they say in the ‘Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dreamsymposium, it’s important in the midst of all these very serious messes that we seek out “urgent joy.” Don’t you just love that advice??

Quote of the day: “One of the things I argue in my book [A Journey Through Economic Time] is the extent to which people go to avoid rational decisions – the very large role of mental deficiency in economic history. Generally, people have been very resistant to attributing a causal role in history to stupidity.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

(1) This in reference to the fluoridation issue, which was also under discussion at the November 10th committee meeting. & don’t get me started on our so-called health units, which like military groups everywhere seem to actually believe it really makes sense to destroy something in order to save it. OMG. The stupidity that takes place routinely in bureaucracies is enough to make a person weep. Of course there are good people at work doing good things in these broken organizations…of course, of course, of course. But the systems they work for are broken; you hear what I’m saying??


11 2011

Quotation of the Month!

Now this one’s a humdinger, & I couldn’t even wait to finish up my next post about incinerator shenanigans before sharing it with you.

Here goes:

“A successful marriage is basically an endless cycle of wrongs committed, apologies offered, and forgiveness granted. All leavened by the occasional orgasm.” – Sex columnist Dan Savage, quoted in September-October 2011 Utne Reader.

Now did I say it’s a humdinger, or didn’t I??


P.S. Lots of great quotations under the blog heading ‘Quotation Central.’ Lots of different categories, tons of quotes. Be sure to check out ‘Quotation of the Year 2010,’ ‘Quotation of the Year 2011‘ & ‘Quotation Find of the Week/Month/Year!!’


11 2011

Burning Durham Region

So, I went to a Durham Regional Council meeting the other day (Nov. 23rd). There were a # of “delegations” from members of the public who are outraged by:

1. Our politicians having voted to go ahead with a $272 million municipal waste incinerator. Outstanding issues? Pollution. Lousy contract. Contractor that seems to get in hot water/deep doo-doo everywhere it operates. Technical issues. Health issues. Cost issues. Legal issues. Zoning issues. Need I go on?? Lots of info about this whole business here:

2. The $75,000 “groundbreaking” party back on August 17th . It was a “high end” affair, you understand. Our prime minister was even invited! (He didn’t come of course; why would he?? He’s got way better things to do; any 3-year old can see that!!)

There’s been tons of press on this – & those of us appalled by our politicians are pleased the Toronto Star & the Orono Times have been pretty hard-hitting on it (the latter paper is not on the Web, so I can’t provide links to its articles. Try them on Facebook though!)

I’m pretty newly back to Durham Region after 8 years away & not as familiar with all the personalities & political shenanigans as I ought to be. Just going to make some short observations under a couple of different headings.

THIS is Democracy?

  • Adversarial atmosphere. Many of our politicians seem to view the public as unwanted intruders. Maybe even more or less as unruly peasants. (We elected them to serve us! We provide the money that pays them. Via our tax dollars. Sheesh!!)
  • A regional chair un-elected by the voters of Durham Region
  • Citizen “delegations” entitled to 10-minute presentations. Doesn’t matter how complex the issue – 10 minutes, chop chop!!
  • Hard-hitting delegations by citizen activists that are chockfull of relevant facts & allegations are followed by … no questions??
  • I’ve seen it in the nuclear biz. Seems always the “proponent” (i.e., the industry that wants to build some fancy nuclear facility, or, in this case, incinerator) gets plenty of time with the politicians, the bureaucrats, Works Dept. types. Taxpaying citizens? Shoo. Just go away, pullese…

This is what we call democracy???


  • Boredom Alert: when the individual members of regional council make announcements about events in their communities; one can easily imagine all the wonderful photo ops our pols are so thrilled to star in. Snore…
  • Business As Usual: One suspects local politicians (like politicians everywhere) may be a little too prone to serving industry before citizens, doing a certain amount of feeding at the trough, being mouthpieces for aforementioned industries & spending taxpayers’ money as though it were their own while simultaneously acting as though “the public” that elected them is dirty, unwashed, ignorant & should just stay out of the way & let them do their business. Business as usual. What can I say?? (This shouldn’t be “news” to us, either. It’s been going on at all levels of government forever…)
  • Irony Alert: raising $$ for cancer (for cancer?? Hmm. Cancer research, I guess) was mentioned. I suspect none of the pols “get” that the very thing we incineration foes are engaged in is trying our damndest to prevent cancer. Duh, eh??
  • It Ain’t Rocket Science! I’m “getting” that not every elected politician is, um…exactly what you might call “the sharpest knife in the drawer.” Many seem to be content to let the hired guns (high-priced consultants of various stripes) rassle with the complex issues – & do what the regional chair tells them to. Only thing is, burning garbage is not wildly complex. It isn’t rocket science – not at all. A single evening spent doing some study & report-reading would make this quite abundantly clear. It’s lovely when human beings “get” that we are “all in this together.” Solidarity is very cool. But not when it’s in the interests of polluting the planet & failing to take responsibility for one’s actions & decisions.
  • Who Knew?? All in attendance at regional council meetings are expected to stand when the boss man (the regional chair), enters the room. Egad! This so-called “leader” is not even elected by the voters of Durham Region, & I’m supposed to stand for him??? It’s bad enough he wears a ridiculous “chain of office” & sits on a chair elevated above his colleagues & is rude to members of the public (sometimes councillors, too); we’re expected to stand for this guy???


  • Carpet-sweeping: those who voted against the McConnell/Neal motion to fully investigate the way this incinerator party came to pass (a party for which there was never any actual budget or financial planning. Apart, that is, apparently, from staff being directed to make it “the best of the best”).
  • Kissing the Chair’s Butt. It appears there are quite a # of Durham Region pols whose chief game, regionally speaking, is keeping their mouths close to… well, we all know the expression about kissing the boss’s a-s… Not naming any names here! Citizens can figure this out for themselves.
  • Let Them Eat Cake! I guess we’ll award this to the woman who, along with her husband, was invited to the $75,000 groundbreaking party (because they are strong supporters of the incinerator project) & who spoke in a very superior tone about those who oppose the incinerator & who were decidedly NOT invited to the groundbreaking party (she actually said she is “excited” about how good this trash burner will be for the local economy. Egad). One could so easily see this woman saying “Off with their heads!” & her little rebuke to a fellow citizen present set us all back on our heels. (I suspect her attitude & comments were a bit over the top even for the Council members!)
  • Old-Style Politics award – 4-way tie! Councillors Drumm, Ballinger, O’Connor & Pidwerbecki all vie for this one. They’re all equally entitled to the Style vs. Substance award as well (see below).
  • Solidarity award – to the 2 regional councillors (Jennifer O’Connell; Pickering & John Neal; Oshawa) who put forward a motion to have the groundbreaking party financial situation properly investigated (the motion was defeated by the Let’s Sweep it Under the Carpet contingent) & also to Nancy Diamond (Oshawa) for her magnanimous question to one of the members of the public who was doing a delegation, to ensure that the high school students present were aware of his educational background (Ph.D. in Physics). This woman has got some serious class, I gotta say…
  • Style over Substance award to Whitby Councillor Joe Drumm, who commented that the groundbreaking party was done “in style,” & who “takes umbrage” at criticisms levelled against staff. (He seemed to be saying it doesn’t matter to him how much $$$ the party cost, as long as it “looked good,” & also that one must never criticize staff…even when they screw up really badly, one assumes. Yikes.)
  • You REALLY JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU?? Tough call on this. For now, we’ll give it to Oshawa councillor Nester Pidwerbecki, who told the crowd present it makes him “emotional” when the “total transparency” of the Council is questioned. (?????) He is also very upset by citizens who oppose the incinerator who somehow (in his view) caused a delay that cost the Region $1 million a month (sorry; I was not living here when this happened; can’t comment on it intelligently). What is it he doesn’t get? Incinerator opponents don’t want the damn incinerator!! No incinerator? No $1 million per month extra costs. No $75,000 groundbreaking party. What part of “We don’t want this damn incinerator thank you very much” is it that you don’t get, Mr. Pidwerbecki??? We too can get a little emotional when we think about the pollutants it will spew (which are being underestimated & will be under-reported & under-monitored & swept under the carpet by the “Health Unit” & the “Ministry of the Environment,” & will be breathed in by our children, grandchildren, ourselves, the food we grow & eat, Lake Ontario, etc. etc. Geez. What is it about this that is so darn hard for you folks to grasp?????)

As a placard I saw earlier this Fall in Ottawa (while attending a tar sands protest on Parliament Hill) said,

Silly adults. The future’s for kids!


P.S. Oshawa Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki commented during the Council meeting that he found himself becoming emotional when discussing the $75,000 groundbreaking party & accusations of wrong-doing. It made me recall 2 trash-related occasions when I became very emotional. The first was when I toured the Brock West Landfill site over 10 years ago & saw the acre after acre after acre monument to human waste. Productive farmland morphed into a wasteland of garbage. I was also powerfully reminded of the time I toured an incinerator in Detroit, Michigan, while down in Windsor (Ontario) for a Recycling Council of Ontario conference. Both these occasions made me cry (& truth to tell, I don’t cry all that readily). To me, sheer over-the-top waste & human-caused pollution can really get me going.

P.P.S. I will do a blog posting soon listing the many habits I practice routinely in order to minimize my own personal contribution to the garbage problem. I’ve been hard at this for 22 years now, so most of it is long since 2nd nature to me. I used to coordinate local Waste Reduction Weeks, give ‘supermarket tours’ pointing out how we can change our shopping habits to minimize waste, write newspaper columns about it, create & share brochures & videos, & so on & so on. Perhaps if we were all really intent on creating a Zero Waste society, we’d soon stop talking about building $300 million monuments to waste, pollution & cancer-creation.

P.P.P.S. My other incineration-related posts are found here under a new heading.

Quote of the day: “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

Runner-up Quotes: “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain

“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.” – Mohandas Gandhi (lots of good quotations about civil disobedience here)

“The hard part about change, is, well…you have to actually change.” – Jon Cooksey, Director of ‘How to Boil a Frog’


11 2011

Gratitude for Grumps

I’ve already written quite a lot about gratitude on this blog. If you go here, you’ll see what I mean.

But I think there may be some tough customers who think they can’t do gratitude. I maintain that gratitude is for everyone, & everyone includes grumps.

So, okay, grumps, unless you are irrevocably wedded to your eternal grumpiness (& I guess some of you are!), read on. You have nothing to lose but your endless grumps, defeatism, lack of joy, frequent frowns, bad moods, wet blanket-ness, black cloud contribution to everyone around you…&… I guess I could go on, but I won’t!

& trust me! Your family, friends, lovers, colleagues, partners, fellow students, neighbours, siblings, children, supermarket checkout ladies – etc. etc. etc. – will be DEE-lighted to notice that your grumpiness got lost or misplaced somewhere along the way.

Now, here’s the funny thing, Reader. I got this far drafting this item back on Oct. 27th, & then got swept away by life & other blog postings, & never got back to this. Until today, Dec. 2nd. & you know what? Truth is, I’ve been feeling a little on the grumpy side myself lately. Fairly unusual for cheery old me, but I think this time of year can be challenging even for those of us who are almost perennially cheery. It’s December, hmm? The days of increasing erosion of sunshine & earlier & earlier arrival of darkness. The days leading up to Christmas, a big material & emotional blow-out for so many of us. In short, a challenging season for a very great many of us. I have long found this season a tough one.

Also, I’m just “getting” that some of us have a person or situation in our lives (or a whole big load of ancient crud we schlep around with us that seems to do major spillover into our daily dealings with people) that we permit to throw a black cloud over our little world – & we use it as a reason (maybe more like an excuse?) for being pretty grumpy, pretty routinely.

I have a very, very dear friend who basically conveyed to me yesterday a message more or less this: why be miserable every Thursday only for the however many hours involved in the weekly task of … bleah bleah bleah, details not important…when I can be miserable about it ALL day – & maybe even let the misery seep into the day before & the day after too?

Ah…how we all sometimes resist happiness or joy, hmmm? And I am spotting this particularly right now because I’ve been doing the same darn thing myself. Guilty!

And now I must admit the truth about this blog posting. If someone really is completely & utterly wedded to her/his deep & eternal grumpiness (for now), blessings on us all, there may in fact be nothing we can do. If you are stuck living with a BG (big grump), I feel for you. Can’t be a lot of fun living with Ms. or Mr. Grump.

& here now, for my own apparently currently necessary reminding, are a few words about gratitude – an attitude I have found literally transformative in my own wee life. Janet: heed thy own wisdom!!

Or, hmmm, maybe I’ll just spend 10 minutes or so re-reading my own old essays about gratitude.

Starting with this one, & then working my way up & down the list until I feel some sort of “click” of recognition or inspiration that will get me off my own butt, December grumpiness-wise.


P.S. We are also blessed – & perhaps more inclined away from grumpiness – if we feel appreciated. And if we are in regular contact with people who love us. I feel very grateful for that, too. I do feel loved, & appreciated, on a regular basis. Living alone can, I know from experience, be quite challenging in these regards. Folks who live alone might want to consider doing some volunteer work on a regular basis. It will almost certainly make them feel better about themselves, & in my experience, I always-always-always get as least as much out of volunteer gigs as I put in – usually, actually, a whole heckuva lot more!!

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy


12 2011

Showing Up (take 2)

& I’m pretty sure I’ve written before about showing up, & while I sat in court today the thought passed through my mind that my life/Life seems to be all about showing up.

& I was showing up today [November 30th], I did show up, it was a court hearing about the proposed York-Durham incinerator being planned for right down on Lake Ontario, just-just-just west of the lovely (not) Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on beautiful Lake Ontario, & a whole bunch of us showed up – we did! –& it all took hours & hours & I had the thought quite a few times during all those hours that old Charles Dickens really got it right when he said the law is an ass.

The law is an ass, in many ways, & I am betting even those who earn their livings from it would agree with the assertion, but that thought will have to wait for me to pursue it another day perhaps…

& we don’t know yet what the learned judge will decide, but by golly he actually came right out & acknowledged & thanked those of us in the “audience” for our participation, at the end of the court session, which went on for 6 hours instead of the 2 we had thought it would take, with expired parking meters & time for lunch (& some wonderful belly laughs, what fun!) in the coffee shop in between

& during the lunch-in-between I’d picked up a copy of a local newspaper ‘cos it happens to have a photo in it that I thought it would be good to have

& I drove back to my small town Durham Region town & even though it wasn’t really “suppertime,” I was ravenous, & I thought wouldn’t a beer & a burger be nice? in spite of the fact that I’m not eating meat anymore, but maybe a burger once in a blue moon won’t kill me or anyone? & besides, there is no law that says I have to kiss & tell, hmmm?

so I went to my decent local restaurant (there aren’t so very many of them in my small town Durham Region town) & ordered a beer & a burger & I looked through the paper that I thought I only bought for the article/photo of the $75,000 incinerator groundbreaking party

& by golly doesn’t it turn out to have an article about the proposed new reactors at Darlington, & the article is so full of bumph & bullshit that I almost lose my appetite

& then I’m looking over the book I happen to have with me Dying from Dioxin by Lois Gibbs of Love Canal fame, & I heard Lois Gibbs speak, once, at an IJC (International Joint Commission) meeting, ½ a lifetime ago, or I guess it only seems like half a lifetime ‘cos OMG such a lot such a lot such a lot has happened since then

& I read how dioxin suppresses the immune system (& simultaneously I’m hearing the song “Mercy, Mercy Me” – things ain’t like they used to be, radiation underground) & I’m thinking

“Holy Geez! I came here to GET AWAY from reality, but it looks like reality has chased me down once again, the Universe doesn’t always have the same plan as the one I have, reality is showing up

& I read about dioxin which is produced by municipal solid waste incinerators, by the way, MSW incinerators like the one the big brains (not) in Durham Region are about to have built, & how dioxin downloads into our babies through our breast milk(1), & our babies wind up with more dioxin than we Moms have (‘cos we download our own lifetime load to our babies)

& I read about how endometriosis is on the increase

& then I remember too that today is 2 years to the day from when I was arrested in the federal finance minister’s office along with 6 other activists, & later we were sentenced in this very-very courthouse I am now sitting in for this hearing about a dioxin-producing incinerator-to-be

& I’m actually wearing the same outfit – it’s my getting arrested outfit, apparently, my black jeans & my white shirt, & then I notice the dudes on TV are talking about “movember” & mustaches

& I think, Shit, yeah, isn’t this about prostate cancer awareness or something? (you see how little I pay attention to the “news,” & what’s on television), & think yes, Dave (who was also arrested in the federal finance minister’s office 2 years ago) is gone now, he died of prostate cancer two months ago, & I am absolutely 100% convinced his cancer was caused by his mother’s exposure to lead as a young woman(1), & now he’s gone, & we really couldn’t afford to spare him, you know? & he was only 56 years old

& then I drink some water (my beer is gone & I’d really love to have another but I know I really mustn’t) & I drink a few sips & I think

Well, at least this water is not fluoridated, & probably doesn’t have a ton of tritium in it,

& I eat my dill pickle, the last thing on my plate, & I remember my pretty amusing dill pickle story that I love to trot out whenever I can, but you know what? let’s leave that one for another day too, shall we?

& I think again

Yeah. Showing up.

It’s all about the showing up, isn’t it??

& I wonder, are we all showing up?

Are enough of us showing up?


p.s. & I think I am showing up, on the whole, & it also sometimes seems when all I really want to do for a few hours is stay away, the Universe seems to have another plan in mind for me

show up…show up…show up…show up…show up…

p.p.s. couple years later I am adding this p.s. — long long after I posted this, I came across this wonderful wonderful item that I now include every week in my e-mails among the “quotes for the week” I try (& sometimes fail) to update weekly:

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )


(1) Sandra Steingraber’s book Having Faith – An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, Perseus Publishing, 2001, discusses dioxin downloading & maternal lead exposure & lead crossing the placenta.



12 2011

Bananas! (take 2)

Meaning, what I don’t mean, is, take 2 bananas. As in, help yourself to 2 bananas.

Meaning, I’ve written about bananas before – it’s here, in a post called ‘Playing with Plutonium: It’s Bananas!’

Poor old bananas. Plutonium, DDT – sheesh!

So, yes, this take on bananas is about DDT. It’s sort of a message to my kids, who as far as I know don’t read this blog.

but they do eat bananas…& not organic ones.

Someone reminded me the other day that bananas (non-organic ones) contain DDT.

I heard this years & years & years ago, when I was still doing a lot of work on the pesticide issue, trying very hard to get people to stop spraying their lawns with dangerous chemicals, & a friend told me “Janet, don’t put banana peels in your compost, ‘cos they have DDT in them.”

I don’t have time to really go into this, OK? I’m otherwise occupied, you might say.

But as I say, it came up again the other day.

It goes like this: DDT is a very dangerous chemical (you could get lost for days in research about DDT & dioxin & cancer & Agent Orange & municipal solid waste (MSW) incinerators; don’t say I didn’t warn you!), & it was banned in North America way back in 1972, but it is still (apparently) manufactured in North America & exported to South America, where it is still being used on bananas.

So, the long & short of this blog post is, if you are going to eat bananas, & if you don’t wish to ingest any more DDT than is really utterly necessary, I’d strongly suggest you buy organic bananas.



p.s. we Moms don’t like to be too heavy-handed, you know. We know our kids don’t always want us giving them advice about things. & besides, it isn’t just my kids who need to know this. We all need to know it!! So, thanks to Robert for reminding me!

p.p.s. the previous blog post is called ‘Showing Up (take 2)‘ & it’s got some good links in it about dioxin & MSW incineration & a book by Sandra Steingraber that has plenty in it about how dioxin downloads from Mom to baby through the breast milk, so if you want to know a little more about incineration & dioxin & all, have a quick read, OK?

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Imagine if, for the last 50 years, we had sprayed the whole earth with a nerve gas. Would you be upset? Would I be upset? Yes! I think people would be screaming in the streets. Well…we’ve done that.We’ve released endocrine disruptors throughout the world that are having fundamental effects on the immune system, on the reproductive system. We have good data that show that wildlife and humans are being affected. Should we be upset? Yes – I think we should be fundamentally upset. I think we should be screaming in the streets!” – Prof Louis Guillette




12 2011


It’s Saturday (for the record, Saturday, December 3rd, 2011) as I write this, & you know what I think about Saturdays?

Saturdays are about possibility.

That’s what they’re about for me, or at least that’s what they’re about when that’s what they’re about, ‘cos of course sometimes they don’t seem to be about possibility at all

But today is about possibility – ‘cos yesterday I had certain plans for today, & then around bedtime last night I changed the plan, ‘cos the day (today) that I’d planned wasn’t looking very much like possibility, it was looking more like too damn busy for one human being to pull off…

So I changed the plan, & then I went to sleep & slept in (I was TIRED), & woke up & did laundry & hung it on the clotheshorse & reorganized my dresser drawers (which were not so much about possibility as about serious disorder, although I suppose serious disorder could also be filled with possibility really, couldn’t it??)

& then I thought,

“Yeah! I DO want to go into Toronto & hang out with the Occupy Toronto solidarity march” (on a day that was a global day of action on climate change)

& because this was/is a Saturday all about possibility, that’s what I’m doing, & I’m writing this on the GO train on my way into the city

& you see it made me remember my old life years & years ago now, when Saturdays used to be about possibility, most especially when my kids were still young… when I was a full-time Mom/homemaker/community volunteer & on Saturdays when my children were young my (former) husband would be home, & sometimes he’d take the kids out with him to do errands, & I’d be so excited about having a few hours to myself that I’d get feeling positively bursting with possibilities,

& I’d think of all the mountains I could get moved on that day filled with possibility, & I’d charge ahead & start on the mountainous to-do list, & maybe by around 3 pm or so it would have become abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to be able to move quite as many mountains as I’d thought…

But still & all, the next Saturday morning I’d get that wonderful Saturday morning optimism feeling again (I didn’t have the phrase ‘possibility’ in my vocabulary at that point)

& possibility is a feeling that excites me still, in spite of all the damn nuke plants (like the one this train just went by) & beautiful Lake Ontario (which we are riding along beside right now) being filled with chemicals & tritium & other nuclear wastes & the sky – the air – being filled with toxins & bad for our health & so many 100s or 1000s of things being “wrong” & messed up on our planet…

because oh, in some way I don’t even understand myself, in some way I can’t explain

the way I live my life, with lots of walking & music/singing & good friends & well-loved family members & work I find very very meaningful indeed – & the Saturdays (& other days) of possibility – let’s not forget those! – some days still feel very very much about possibility…

So you can go right ahead & call me crazy – a self-deluded madwoman – & maybe I am, maybe I am…

But I still say this: all of us self-deluded crazy people who bust our butts trying to change things, make things “better” – “save the world” – just think for a moment how much worse things would be here without us.


& you tell me, do you get feeling charged up with thoughts & feelings of possibility often, & if you don’t, tell me, is that really working for you??

So off I go, to downtown Toronto to help fill Dundas Square with likeminded souls who don’t just give a damn, they are willing to get up off their butts & do something – & say something – & be something, something other than resigned & apathetic

so go ahead & tell me I’m wasting my time.

& you know what? I won’t be listening anyway,

I’ll be chatting & chanting & laughing & marching & feeling very much like a loved & appreciated & fulfilled member of a great big messy (frequently dysfunctional) family/tribe who would rather get together & celebrate what we have in common than hide out in our little (or even big) suburban boxes (& cars) – & we’ll be noisy & it will be FUN, & we will feel charged with possibility – even if only for a few hours – & a few hours of possibility are sure a whole lot better than no possibility at all

At least that’s what I think…


p.s. one of those “landmark” experiences in my life was attending a Landmark Forum weekend, & the concept of possibility is a key one in the LMF vocabulary. You can read about my experience here

p.p.s. a so-so-so-so worthwhile take on the Occupy movement can be found here. You can say you “don’t have time” for it, but if you “have time” for stupid dumb fluffy stuff like you see routinely on television, I’d say take the time, make the time for this quite brilliant discussion involving Michael Moore & Naomi Klein & several others equally brilliant & articulate…because the present & future they are talking about are your present & future too!

p.p.p.s. I always enjoy the chants & placards at gatherings like the one on Saturday. Neat ones I saw this time:


P.S. # 4: 2 more ‘possibility’ posts, here & here


12 2011

Atomic Towns

Holy smokes, it is perhaps entirely fitting that I am thinking about atomic towns today [December 7th, 2011], the 70th anniversary (so I heard it mentioned on the radio) of the bombing of Pearl Harbour during World War II, & thus the entry of the U.S. of A. into the 2nd world war – a war which they (the U.S.A.) concluded (so the story goes) – had to conclude – with the bombing of the 2 Japanese cities of Hiroshima & Nagasaki on August 6th & 9th, 1945.

Of course I no longer buy into this story, having read the book Hiroshima in America – A Half Century of Denial (1), that the bombing of these cities was necessary to end the war; the war was going to end anyway, the Americans knew the Japanese emperor was going to surrender. So the bombings did not in any sense have to take place; not a pretty fact to have to live with, is it, hmmm?(2) One of those really big secrets, I guess, the kind that is bound to get out eventually…

& now 70 years have gone by, since the day the U.S. was humbled & humiliated by the Japanese,

& for me it’s only a day after my extensive tour of an atomic town in southern Ontario – a very very beautiful & charming small town, assuming one can lay aside the unpleasant fact that the town is one of Canada’s nuclear sacrifice zones & contains very considerable quantities of nuclear waste generated by former Crown Corporation (i.e., our federal government is in this up to its eyeballs) Eldorado & now Cameco Corporation & some of that waste (that now sits quietly, I guess ominously quietly, because there it is but it doesn’t declare itself exactly, it just sits there quietly emitting its radiation, quietly but very dangerously), just south of Highway 401, just west of town…

& it’s a town divided by the whole sick nasty evil issue of nuclear energy & nuclear waste – divided even though anyone with any appreciable history in the town knows far too many people, of both sexes & all ages, who suffer or have suffered (or died from) brain cancer or leukemias & various other illnesses & conditions(3), a town where farmhouses quietly disappear (before or after their long or even in some cases short-time residents) die of cancer due to their former close proximity to waste sites old (& upcoming) – waste sites located within spitting (& ball-kicking) distance of soccer-fields-to-be for children who may wind up being exposed to more than just a “healthy” team sports experience when they go out to get their fresh air & exercise so close to a very very dangerous dump site with “historic” wastes dating back to the Manhattan Project era (yes, this town supplied the uranium for the Manhattan Project)

(no wonder some folks don’t want to talk about this….)

but then the Geiger counters on our little tour spiked like crazy at all kinds of locations in the pretty little community of 14,000 – especially right down by the waterfront, where the sand on the beach is recycled nuclear waste, pretty much, & if you hang out for any length of time you will be exposed to a shocking amount of radiation in the area of a certain tree a bunch of us stood under, down near the radioactive beach area, watching the 2 Geiger counters inch inexorably upward & upward to counts of radiation that made us all think suddenly of Chernobyl & Fukushima

as we stood there, mesmerized by the rising Geiger counters (& yes, it all felt quite quite utterly unreal to be in this pretty little town & be surrounded by so much dangerousness) – & maybe we were all hoping the dogs & birds & squirrels & small children in this pretty little town somehow know, do they? & somehow know to stay away?? even though there is no sign & of course small children & birds & dogs & squirrels can’t read anyhow

but how can it be possible that such radiation-spewing (& not just radiation-spewing, btw) is permitted in such a pretty small town on the shores of Lake Ontario, source of drinking water for well over 3 million people?????

& today I think of other “atomic” towns where residents are very-very quiet or perhaps sometimes even literally unaware that their pretty little town is home to quite a lot of nasty secrets (& lies) & radioactive waste & current-day – yes right today & yesterday & tomorrow – yes! – nuclear-related spewing & spilling & leaching & groundwater-assaulting (sometimes Ottawa River-assaulting) tritium (& other) emissions.

& I know not everyone wants to know about this (although if you ask me we all NEED to know, & yes, I know you didn’t ask me but there you go, I’m telling you anyway) & most people apparently don’t want to think about it either, but I just want to say this teeny-tiny little thing, which is that you need to know that when your country’s federal government comes to your town & offers to spend $260 million (or is it billion?? Like so many of us the numbers just kind of begin to boggle my mind when they get that high, my chequebook doesn’t deal in thousands, even, let alone hundreds of thousands or millions or billions) to “remediate” or “clean up” “historic” or “legacy” wastes, this is a very big clue that some exceedingly nasty (or would evil perhaps not be too strong a word for it?) activities have been taking place & maybe – probably – still are taking place, & even if some place (as in down in the old U.S.A.) is declared a “Superfund site“, you need to know that what we don’t know most assuredly CAN hurt us, & even kill us, & beyond that, IS hurting us (has been doing so for a very long time already) & it IS killing us, too, & sweeping it under the carpet is NOT going to make it just magically disappear, magically “go away.”

& if you are a person who makes her or his living helping create these horrid substances & wastes (& you probably make a very good living at it too, that’s part of the problem, isn’t it, golden handcuffs as they say, hmmm???), can’t or shouldn’t we be able to think of new & creative ways to feed our families?????

& I know our governments are probably not going to help us out too much with this, because our governments (at all levels) climbed into bed with these sick-making industries a very very very long time ago, & once you’ve climbed so deeply into bed with this kind of sickness, it is difficult or perhaps even impossible to climb your way back out again,

So I guess it is going to be up to us to do what has to be done, ourselves

I guess we have to grab the reins (& ourselves!) by the scruff of the neck & make change happen

because our governments, at all levels, municipal & provincial & federal, are in so very very deep with all this sick-making & cancer-making

but I think I’m out of breath now so I’m going to stop even though I never actually even named the 3 atomic towns – oops…4 – that are all kind of roiling around inside my head right now

but I will down below list some recommended books & Web sites & groups in case you have a desire to learn a little more about the nuclear nightmare that we have all been trying very-very hard not to wake up from, or … hmmm…. to. The problem with this nightmare is that it won’t go away when we wake up to daylight – I know ‘cos I’m awake – very-very-very wide awake & the nightmare isn’t a dream, it’s real – it’s real it’s real it’s real it’s real it’s real…


p.s. but you know what I kept thinking, & saying, over & over again on the day of our radioactive tour? A person can hardly believe this. You couldn’t make this up if you tried! (Truth truly IS stranger than fiction, it’s true!)

p.p.s. & somehow you have to be willing to know about all this but also somehow not allow it to make you crazy. So I don’t. But I also don’t just ignore it & hope it will magically “go away.” Because you know what? It won’t….

p.p.p.s. & I’m just re-reading Welcome to Shirley – a memoir of an atomic town, & it’s such a good book to read because the author makes the whole story very personal – it is not full of challenging, off-putting jargon, & it isn’t a polemic & it isn’t hysterical (not even remotely) – it’s just a lovely, calm dispassionate telling of the story of the town of Shirley on Long Island, outside New York City, where an awful lot of people have been exposed to radioactive wastes seeping & leaching & spilling out of Brookhaven National Labs, another Manhattan Project-era site, & now officially, since 1989, declared a Superfund site. And the crazy mounting rates of cancer in the area of the BNL, especially some very-very rare ones that became all too familiar to the families whose young children were affected. This story is very calmly told, but it is for sure a sick & tragic one & the parallels between the “atomic” town of Shirley & the town of Port Hope are very strong…  ** p.s. almost a year later: there is film based on this book that is called ‘Atomic States of America.’ You can find a trailer here on the Beyond Nuclear site

I’m thinking of at least 2 places in Ontario that should almost certainly be declared Superfund sites also, only we don’t do that here because, I’m not sure why, because, is it because we Canadians are too polite, or maybe we are too stupid?? I guess we think (somebody thinks, it isn’t me who thinks this) that if we just pat one another on the back & say Now now now, there, there, everything will just be okay, & the radioactive wastes will just, will just, will just… what? Go away?????

p.s. # 4: Article here from when world-renowned activist Dr. Helen Caldicott visited Port Hope

p.s. # 5: I did 6 blog postings after attending a 3-day nuclear waste conference in Toronto 3 months ago now. They start here

p.s. # 6 – a year later (Dec. 20/12): Recent article about Port Hope by a Japanese visitor here.

Quote of the day w. this post: “There’s been new research documenting cancer & other health maladies in people who live near nuclear plants. Nuclear plants need not undergo an accident to kill. They emit “routine releases” of radioactivepoisons including xenon, krypton & tritium because nuclear plants are not sealed. Once, nuclear scientists spoke of a “threshold dose” of radiation & maintained that below that there was no harm. Now it is acknowledged that any amount of radioactivity can lead to illness & death. The Radiation & Public Health Project has documented rates of cancer significantly higher for distances of up to 40 miles around nuclear plants.” – Karl Grossman, in the Preface to his book Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power (available free on-line)

Books (a very very partial list, admittedly!)

Groups/Web sites relevant to the Ontario “atomic towns” scene

  • FARE (Families Against Radiation Exposure)
  • PH HCC (Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee)
  • LOW (Lake Ontario Waterkeeper)
  • TAP (Tritium Awareness Project)
  • Beyond Nuclear

Nuke Quotes / Films / Maps (on this blog)


(1) Mindblower of an article Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years by Daniel Ellsberg; an absolute must-read!!

(2) “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead & you argue about what to do with it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atom bomb.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer (”father of the atomic bomb”)

(3) Read more about health in Part 5 of Nuclear Genocide in Canada



12 2011

Occupied (still)

Just a couple links of cool stuff…

1.  2 hours & SO worth watching!! Where is the movement going? Naomi Klein in conversation w. Michael Moore, William Greider (sp??), Rinku Sen, Patrick Bruner. It will inspire & educate you…show you how the OWS & environmental movements intertwine…explain how & why this movement is for ALL of us…show you Michael Moore “giddy,” as he puts it, about the potential of this movement (I feel the same way!)…tell you about the awesome power of conversation & also of consensus (I’ve had several very powerful experiences around consensus – all in food-related organizations, actually; will never forget them!)

2. 10 Top Must-See Occupy Wall St. videos: Truth? I haven’t watched these, but I flipped thru them, as it were, & it looks like there is some very good stuff in there! You can flip from # 1 to 2 & so on, & see what each one is about & then watch as many or as few as you like.

3. #Occupy Bat Signal for the 99% – 5 minutes. “It is the beginning of the beginning.” “You are part of a global uprising.” “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” Very inspiring!

4. Occupy the Climate with Angela Bischoff. Anti-nuke message loud & clear!

5. Courage in South Africa; file from Durban, the recent climate meetings.

6. The next 10 years will be very unlike the past 10 years – 5 minutes worth spending!!


12 2011

Accidents, nuclear & otherwise…

Having one of “those” days. Not getting done what I’m “supposed” to get done.

So, just going to share a few links w. you.

I’ve both laughed & cried this morning. From the sublime to the ridiculous.

As so often, am focusing on nuclear issues, which are enough to make you crazy (& I didn’t have far to go!?).


Article here is good on the subject of why technology can never “save” us. In light of the disaster that is Fukushima (YouTube about latest big leak here), an “accident” that will be affecting us all …. forever, I guess…. perhaps now is the time for more of us to clue in to this simple truth: accidents happen. They always will. So let’s stop – now – playing with forces that are so clearly beyond our ability to control, shall we?????

Go here for a chuckle about engineer-speak. And bear in mind, it’s engineers who dominate the nuclear industry. And the nuclear lapdog, er, I mean watchdog, agencies. (I really ought to do a post soon on my growing list of engineer WTF stories. The things some of them say!?!?!)

Anyway, I really ought to be doing other stuff, so I’ll leave you with this link. It’s the one that led to a few tears on my part. Only 5 minutes long…


p.s. Here is something I bet you didn’t know. Most folks don’t know it. (There is plenty about the nuke biz most folks don’t know.) But here’s just one teeny-tiny thing (a “small” thing that is really quite a BIG thing) that some of the recent converts to nuclear energy need to know: Way back in 1959, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, which exists to promote nukes) made an agreement with the World Health Organization that prohibits the WHO from doing or publicizing research into the effects of radiation on human populations. This agreement remains in effect. Now what do you make of that, eh?

p.p.s. There is plenty of other stuff the nuke industry doesn’t want you to know. You can read lots about it in the book Cover up: what you are not supposed to know about nuclear power. It’s available on-line, free. Sure hope Mr. George Monbiot (& certain other high profile types who’ve come down in favour of nukes post-Fukushima) downloads & reads it. He’s just plain all mixed up on this subject!! (& all that bullroar about nukes solving the climate issue? Bollocks!)

p.p.p.s. 3 other free-to-download books are


p.s. # 4: Lots of great nuke-related quotes (& maps, & films) listed here



12 2011

Christmas Wish List

These are some items that are not on my own personal wish list, you understand; they’re things I would give with considerable enthusiasm to others – strangers, even! Items I’ve gained much from myself. Some you need actual cash for, others are a little on the intangible side & if I could somehow distill their essence, bottle & sell them, I’d be rich! (Fortunately, I am wealthy already, if not rich, so this doesn’t matter so very very much.)

Except that then I could afford to buy all the other items for friends, family members, rank strangers & in some cases sad or troubled-looking people I see on the street or while riding the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission buses/subway/streetcars). How one wishes sometimes (often) that one had a magic wand, hmmm??

Books I LOVE:

** you gotta know, it’s very hard for extreme reading addict me to have a recommended book list with only 7 titles on it…..



Attendance at an ‘Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream’ symposium

The More Intangibles

  • Ability to live in the moment
  • Ability to have fun!! Laugh…smile lots :) :) …let go…
  • Ability to be like a kid
  • Clear conscience (Filipino proverb “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.”)
  • Frequent sensation of being F2B (full to bursting) with gratitude, joy, the sense of possibility (yeah, I know, I’m a little crazy…)
  • Finding (well, creating) a life of meaning & purpose
  • Good friends (“Your wealth is where your friends are.” – Plato. True story!!)
  • Growth – knowing one is on a life-long path of growth (whether one likes it or not!?)
  • Music – to listen to, sing along with, belt out in the kitchen or shower, be cheered up by
  • Tribe to belong to (& work for, & with)


  • The enormous potential of HBs (human beans, I mean beings)
  • Knowing one is not separate…alone…alien. One is a worker bee in the vast & wonderful human colony
  • Solidarity (see above)
  • Urgent joy

& of course, one wishes for a 100 other qualities to be more manifest on the Earth:

Honesty…Integrity…Compassion…Feistiness…Courage…occasional (or even frequent!) outbreaks of social conscience. One could go on & on….


P.S. Christmas-related posts from previous years:


2009 ‘Christmas Gift Idea: ‘Amchitka’ CD

2008:Transforming Christmas’

‘Quote of the day’: “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” ~ Agnes Repplier


12 2011

Fukushima: 9 months in

A friend just recommended this link for a Fukushima update. (12 minutes.)

So glad she did!

I encourage everyone to watch it, & the 60-minute segment of EcoReview also.

Very useful to hear a nuclear engineer explain things – e.g. about Cesium & Strontium in fish, how citizens need to demand more from politicians & health agencies as regards the radioactive contamination of our food – as it stands now, today, & how it will change over time as the radioactive contaminants from Fukushima continue to disperse across the globe, in air & ocean currents.

This crisis is going to be with us…all of us…well, for a very, very long time.

Best we be informed about it. Since we can’t count on the nuclear industry for that, thank goodness for the Internet & various groups & individuals dedicated to telling us the truth!

(This man, Arnie Gundersen, is a former nuclear industry insider who became a whistleblower. Thankfully!! His actions have been a great benefit to us all!)

Please check him out, & watch his regular updates. Gundersen understands that many of us find nuclear technology daunting, to say the very least, & in the 2 segments I just watched I was grateful to learn some basic facts from his clear low-tech but well-explained demonstrations aimed at making complicated things grasp-able by average citizens.


p.s. not gonna lie to you, Reader. I’ve written about possibility recently, not just once but twice, & even about feeling what I call “F2B” (full to bursting) with things like gratitude – & I don’t make this stuff up, I really feel pretty awesome a lot of the time! I also feel pretty freaked out about all things nuclear, if you want to know the truth. It gives me the willies. It’s madness, it’s a nightmare, I can’t paint a pretty picture of the nuclear scene at all. Having said that, the only cure for me, the only way out of debilitating despair (which is a real energy-zapper, not to mention not a whole lot of fun) is to be ACTIVE, an activist, awake & active. Not closing my eyes & pretending there isn’t, or rather aren’t, an awfully daunting # of problems of all kinds & sorts & varieties facing the human race & our only home, this beautiful Earth. Great thinker Thomas Berry used to say there is always ambivalence. He sure got that right!

p.p.s. thinking about despair reminds me of Joanna Macy & her despair & empowerment workshops. Check it out!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Anyone who has one iota of a brain or humility could only conclude that nuclear power is insane!” – Anne Hansen, painter, photographer & bicycle enthusiast (lots of other great nuke-related quotations here)


12 2011

Good News (for a change!)

Of course there’s lots of bad news, too, always, but Hey! I feel like doing an upbeat post, so…that’s what I’m doin.’ (It’s my blog, after all – I get to do/say whatever I want. Fun, eh??)

Here goes!

German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs! (Got this item from a Rob Brezsny weekly horoscope mailing. Even if you don’t “believe in” astrology, I bet you’d enjoy his weekly messages!! They’re witty, upbeat & very well-written.)

Montreal entrepreneur casts his vote for renewables – Financial Post story about a rich Montreal, Quebec dude who’s investing in renewables. Woo-hoo!!!

Occupy Toledo weighs in on NRC plans for Fermi 3 Reactor (I always say we need a diversity of tactics in our world-changing work. Hurray for the Occupy movement!!)

2 feel great (never mind just good) & very seasonal (Halleluia) musical YouTubes helped make my day, not once but twice!

Finally, as a Christmas present to me, my housemates have committed themselves to turning off lights in rooms no one is in & not leaving lights a-blazing in general, & using a clothesline or clotheshorse(s) to dry their clothes (so our consumption of fossil fuel-based energy can go way down & lead to fewer climate change-induced weather impacts & other climate-change-related disasters & also, of course, lessen our reliance on disaster-prone nuclear power) & drive their cars less (so we can kill tar sands development) & use simple cleaning agents such as vinegar & baking soda instead of toxic cleaners that smell fancy but contain carcinogens that damage the workers who make them, our water supplies, & ourselves. Hooey! (Okay, I made this last one up. But a girl can dream, eh?? A little blue-sky-ing once in a while can be kind of fun.)


Quotation for Today: “I’d rather dance with possibility than wrestle with despair.” – Janet McNeill (am I really allowed to quote myself?? Oh well, looks like I just did…)


“This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek. To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.” – Terry Tempest Williams, naturalist and author (1955- )

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, & it never will.” – Frederick Douglass

“I cannot be an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope.” – Cornel West

“You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents.” – Abbie Hoffman

(these last 5 found on the Occupy Toledo site masthead)


12 2011

Christmas: what works (& doesn’t)

So, it’s 3 days before Christmas 2011 as I write these words. I’m the queen of last-minute Christmas, let me tell you!? So tomorrow I’ll be doing last-minute scrambling (doing some baking & food-in-a-jar things as gifts this year). If I weren’t involved in a family brunch & gift exchange on the 24th, I’d be doing the scramble then!

Christmas is a time of great ambivalence for many of us, hmmm? I’m just noting down some thoughts about what works for me at this time of year, & what doesn’t.

Presents/Shopping: Giving presents (& receiving them) is fun, of course! But I HATE shopping; always have. What I’ve learned to do is keep it simple. I’ve downloaded the stocking gig, now that my children are practically ancient. This year I’m giving the main people on my “list” a selection of home-baked items & some meals in a jar. Well, one friend is also getting a very special book, & another a very special CD. & I came up with this kooky last-minute idea of creating a folder-full of inspirational items I photocopied & threw together – main idea being to cheer folks up & (hopefully!) inspire them a wee bit. Bottom line? The gifts I give are less about money & more about the personal touch. But I’m also all for shrinking one’s list, keeping it simple, & being sure to be charitably generous along the way.

Homemade items/Finding the time: I love gifts that are “homemade” – gifts that showcase an investment of thoughtfulness & time, as opposed to money (of the latter, I do not, shall we say, have scads). My daughters both once “burned” CDs for me, & these delighted me to no end. In “the good old days” I used to make homemade chocolate turtles that knocked everyone’s socks off. Well, no turtles this year! (I did make homemade truffles for a person who always used to really count on the turtles. The truffles are pretty darn tasty too!!) I’m also making chocolate chip cookies for the friend who has always claimed I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world. (Isn’t it lovely to have one’s efforts appreciated??)

Winter activities/Climate change: I grew up in eastern Canada (in the province of Quebec, in a small town west of Montreal), where, when I was a kid, there was always a ton of snow. So I’ve always loved doing outdoorsy stuff on Christmas day. Skating, tobogganing, that kind of thing. But climate change seems to have done in the white Christmases, where I live anyway, so … I will have to content myself with a grand long walk on December 25th. One must be adaptable!!

Family/Family: I guess we could probably all write a book about the many & various & sundry challenges we encounter, dealing with our families at this time of year. Ambivalence, as I said, hmmm?? I’ll spare us all any crazy personal experiences – thus protecting both the guilty & the innocent. Let’s just put it this way: if our own “blood” relatives are more or less impossible to deal with &/or for a variety of reasons we are not from what you might call a “close” family, or divorce has knocked it apart &/or if we’re from a family that is downright bad for our mental health, I say we find/create our very own new conglomeration of people. We’re not born into a tribe, the way we were in the old, old days. So we have to create our own. My Christmases these days are a mixture of friends & family – & it’s working very well.

leading us oh-so-logically to

Traditions/Nostalgia/Flexibility: I can “do” nostalgia as well as anyone. I can wallow in self-pity & lament that “It isn’t the way it used to be” … sniff, sniff. But I’d rather roll with the punches, as they say, & innovate – grow, adapt, change. This ability too I wish for all of us! Things ain’t what they used to be. The only constant is change, hmmm? Buckminster Fuller once said, “Don’t fight forces; use them,” & I think that’s tremendously wise advice.

Best wishes to all of us as we navigate this often-challenging, often-fraught time of the year!!!


p.s. My Christmas wish list is here

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates (quoted in “Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia,” by Rob Brezsny)



12 2011

Fukushima: latest I’ve seen / read

** Note on Jan. 10th: I keep adding more items in toward the bottom of this post.

2 Arnie Gundersen items:

1. Fukushima: Total Cost - 33 minute interview by Warren Pollock with nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen. Chockfull of very, very useful information about the Fukushima accident. Its potential impacts on U.S. health (very minor compared to what the Japanese will suffer, of course). Arnie Gundersen’s theme: we can’t run, we can’t hide. The potential problems with reactors in the U.S. How the political system plays hardball (more like deathball) with our lives. (No different here in Canada than in the U.S., btw.) I did not know that nukes kill more birds than wind turbines – sure hope someone adds this info to the FAQ’s on sees on wind energy!! Includes talk about economic costs of the Fukushima disaster, as well as human costs. Some clarifications re: particulate matter. Very worth seeing & I recommend it highly!! (One insight: if air travel were as risky as nuclear power, nobody would be flying!!)

2.  TEPCO Believes Mission Accomplished & Regulators Allow Radioactive Dumping in Tokyo Bay - Is the Japanese government and the IAEA protecting the nuclear industry and not the people of Japan by claiming that Fukushima is stable when it is not? Fairewinds’ chief engineer Arnie Gundersen outlines major inconsistencies and double-speak by the IAEA, Japanese Government, and TEPCO claiming that the Fukushima accident is over. Dynamic versus static equilibrium, escalated dose exposures to the Japanese children and nuclear workers, and the blending of radioactive materials with non-contaminated material and spreading this contaminated ash throughout Japan are only a small part of this ongoing nuclear tragedy.


Public health fallout from Japanese quake – Canadian Medical Association Journal

Fukushima: Alaska Seal Die-Off

The New Significance – Impressions of Post 3/11 Japan: lengthy & thoughtful piece by Sabu Kohso after a visit home this past summer, post-Fukushima accident. Puts the accident into “the big picture” & covers topics I don’t hear “average” people talking about (how is one to eat or think about gardening, there, now? What is the fate of the workers who are being sent in as basically lambs to the slaughter? Why are men denying the dangers & women the ones who are speaking up, angrily? What is the purpose of demonstrating, & how does all of this relate to the overall global system of capitalism? How are the Japanese to live, post-Fukushima??)

Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately – Catholic Bishops of Japan

‘Radioactive Iodine Blankets Much of Europe – Everyone Points Fingers’

Also watched the Greenpeace short film “From Chernobyl to Fukushima: A Campaigner’s Journey.” 20 minutes. Well-done interviews & photo coverage of Greenpeace Toronto Nuclear Campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil as he travels to Chernobyl & Fukushima &, closer to home, works to oppose new reactors at Darlington. No crazy anti-nuke hysteria at all, folks – just a calm & articulate campaigner telling (& showing) it like it is.


P.S. ++ YouTube here & reflections ++ here

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Sure, you can say nuclear power is somewhat less carbon-intensive than burning fossil fuels for energy; beating your children to death with a club will prevent them from getting hit by a car. Ravaging the Earth by one irreparable means is not a sensible way to prevent it from being destroyed by another. There are alternatives. We should choose them and use them.” – Rebecca Solnit (many other nuke-related quotes & other resources here)


12 2011

Quotations to Go (as it were)

** This list of quotations was created as an accompaniment to the previous post, ‘Christmas Alphabet (for New Year’s.)’

** Please know: & know that I know, some of these quotations don’t really fit with the sense of the word I used in the other blog posting (I picked them ‘cos they’re just all so good!!). Also that, in some cases, I could provide five relevant quotations, never mind one!?Plenty, plenty other good quotations to be found in the various sections under ‘Quotation Central!

Appreciation: “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey (other quotes here)

Apology: “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck

Abundance: “Abundance is not something we acquire. It’s something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

Belonging: “Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healings. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.” ~ Starhawk

Changing the world: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Community: “Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.” ~ Michael Lerner, quoted in The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community, by David Korten

Compassion & Creativity: “Why should we all use our creative power? … Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” – Brenda Ueland (American writer, 1891-1985); “And what I’ve learned is not to believe in magical leaders anymore, that character and compassion are more important than ideology, and that even if it’s absurd to think you can change things, it’s even more absurd to think that it’s foolish and unimportant to try.” – Peter C. Newman

Consciousness: “What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate.” – Carl Jung

Courage: “Be COURAGEOUS!It’s the only place that isn’t crowded.” – Sign in Body Shop “Bored” Room (many more here)

Friends/friendliness: “Your wealth is where your friends are.” – Plato & “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato, Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 B.C. – 347 B.C.)

Freedom:“I think we locate freedom in the wrong place. We say things like, ‘Instead of becoming an engineer, I’m going to become a doctor.’ But freedom is the choice to be aware of the life you’re living and the self that’s living it. And therefore freedom is the act of consciously serving something greater.” – Jacob Needleman (tough call here: I had at least 4 others I could have used.)

Gratitude: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, in The Language of Letting Go (more gratitude quotes here)

Inspiration: “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” – William Arthur Wood

Integrity (& privilege!): “We are privileged, and the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” – John O’Donohue, Irish poet, philosopher and former priest

“Character is defined by what you are willing to do when the spotlight has been turned off, the applause has died down, and no one is around to give you credit.” (source unknown)

Joy:“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator,composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

Little Things: “The best things in life are not things.” – Source unknown

Love: “The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment, you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all humanity.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Letting go: “Some people think it’s holding on that makes one strong. Sometimes it’s letting go.” – Sylvia Robinson

Motherhood:“The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love – and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, ‘I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.’ Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much a part of their being as breathing.” – Amma Chi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – quoted in Utne magazine

Music: “Each time we heard the music we marveled again at the beautiful and often familiar melodies, at the purity of sound, at this miracle that was happening to us amid the cockroaches, the rats, the bedbugs, and the stink of the latrines. The music renewed our sense of human dignity. We had to live under bestial conditions, but, by Jove, we could rise above them! – Helen Colijn, Song of Survival: Women Interned & “Without music, life is a journey through a desert.” – Pat Conroy

Nature: “Though we have caused the earth to be seriously diseased, it is not yet without health… The earth we have before us now is still abounding and beautiful… The health of nature is the primary ground of hope – if we can find the humility and wisdom to accept nature as our teacher.” ~ Wendell Berry, Christian poet, farmer, awesome writer/essayist

Possibility: “Dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson

Potential:“What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Power: “The universe oozes with power, waiting for anyone who wishes to embrace it.” – mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme, author of The Universe is a Green Dragon, quoted in Matthew Fox’s The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance (Pg. 40)

Protesting: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men.” – Abraham Lincoln

Quiet: “He who doesn’t know is an ignoramus. He who knows and keeps quiet is a scoundrel.” – Bertolt Brecht in ‘Galileo’

Reading: “A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka

Showing up: “Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deepest lessons. A certain percentage of those who have survived near-death experiences speak of a common insight which afforded a glimpse of life’s basic lesson plan. We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and by not having, by succeeding or failing. All we need to do is to show up openhearted for class. So fulfilling life’s purpose may depend more on how we play than what we are dealt.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., in Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal

Silence & Solitude: “The demands – heard from pole to pole, for freedom, justice, security, equality, education, a safe environment, and a better life for the world’s children – are all grounded in, and reach downward to, this elemental human need: silence, solitude, and the right to rule one’s own thoughts: the sanity of the inner life.” – Noel Peattie, poet/librarian, Inner Life (quoted in Utne Sept/Oct 2005)

Solar power: “The only nuclear reactor we need is 93 million miles away.” – Source unknown; “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ‘til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” – Thomas Edison (1847–1931)

Transformation: “It is good to realize that falling apart is not such a bad thing. Indeed, it is as essential to evolutionary and psychological transformation as the cracking of outgrown shells.” – Joanna Macy in World as Lover, World as Self Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal

Truth: “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941; “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton; & “Telling the truth is like making oxygen.” – Joanna Macy

Walking: “It is solved by walking.” – St. Augustine; “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (more walking quotes here)

Words: “Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” – Ingrid Bengis (a few more words about words here)



12 2011

Christmas Alphabet (for New Year’s)

** Note: there is a separate post with quotations to accompany this alphabet posting.

I always seem to be cooking up kooky alphabet schemes (yes, I know, I’m a crazy woman!) This one started coming into my mind a week or so ago. Just a bunch of thoughts, using the alphabet as a … starter? Maybe sort of like sourdough starter?? & offer it up now as a belated Christmas present-cum-New Year’s present. Just some thoughts of things to keep in our busy little minds as the long-anticipated year of 2012 whooshes in upon us.

I need to just add that, the way I diagnose “the world’s problems” is that they started a very, very long time ago (around 10,000 years), & can be broadly understood to stem from alienation & separation (separation from Nature, alienation from our most basic nature as humans, a species that evolved to be highly communal). I hope this alphabet collection might give us a few ideas of how to continue tackling these seemingly insurmountable … shall we say challenges. Antidotes to despair& apathy are always good, hmmm?

The Alphabet Scheme, then

A – is for Appreciation, Apologies (quite utterly magical words they are, hmm?) & Abundance. Oh, & Adventure – which I definitely feel life/Life is meant to be!!

B – Bananas! Only organic ones, pullese. (Also, for Belonging.)

C – is for Celebration! What some big thinkers believe is actually the underlying principle of the Universe. It’s also for Community, Conversation, Circles, Compassion, & Changing the World. Oh, & also for Chocolate (preferably organic & fair trade). Hmm. & Courage… (C is one of my favourite letters; I could go on!) Oops. Consciousness; can’t leave that one out!! (Big thinkers say becoming conscious is our real job here. Works for me!!)

D – is for Dancing!! Which I recommend we all do as often as humanly possible (in our own kitchens, if nowhere else!). Along with singing & laughing & walking & hanging with friends.

E – is for Erring on the side of generosity & friendliness (& also for Explaining. As in, never mind that old saw “Never apologize, never explain.” I say, Apologize. Explain.)

F – is for Friendliness & Friends. Where in the world would we be without them?? Also freedom. & flexibility. I’d say there is an equation that goes like this: Flexibility = Freedom. Freedom = Flexibility. Well, it works for me, anyway!

G – is, of course, for Gratitude, about which I write endlessly. Why? Because a friend told me once that “Gratitude is the 1st order of the Universe,” & I do believe she’s right! Also Generosity, of course. Generosity of spirit will take us very, very far.

H – is for Home, & Heart & Honour. (We need to re-discover honour, I think.)

I – is for Inspiration. We all need to be inspired – by words, by books, by ourselves on occasion, by each other. Without inspiration, we dry up inside. That’s what I think, anyway. Oh, & how about Integrity? A little more of that in the world would be cool, hmmmm?

J – is for … hmmm. Joy! “Urgent joy,” perhaps…

K – is for the KISS principle. Keep it simple, Silly. & Keep your eye on the prize!

L – is for Love, Looking for the gift, Looking for the lesson in every experience. & also Letting Go. Hmm. & also for this thing I believe strongly: that the “little things” in life are really the BIG things. “Little” things like special phone calls to people, conversation, acts of compassion & generosity, showing up. Commitment. Yes, the little things really are the big things…

M – is for Mother Earth, mothering & motherhood (i.e., nurturing in general) & also Music, & also Magic. We are surrounded by magic every day – what I call everyday magic, but we need to invoke it, I think. Since what we focus on expands, we need to cultivate it, shall we say. M is also for men, God love ‘em. Great book for both them & us here; a must-read for all!!

N – is for Nature, this stunning, gorgeous, abundant Planet Earth we’ve been gifted with. From which we have become separated & which we are trashing at a truly astounding rate.

O – is for Organic! Buy organic, promote organic, think organic, BE organic! So we can all say with great accuracy, often, “Don’t panic, it’s organic!” Also for Oceans, the planet’s lifeblood, which badly need our attention. &, hmmm, also the Occupy movement! (I love this YouTube)

P – is for Possibility, Planting Seeds, People are the best! & Protesting. (It’s also for saying to oneself from time to time “Petty? Who me?? Nah. I’m too big to be small”) & Purpose: living lives of purpose & potential.

Q – is for Quiet. We all need times of quiet & contemplation & solitude (at least that’s what I think, but I guess I could be wrong, it happened once in 1962, ha ha ha ). It’s also for Quotations that can inspire us & “summon up the blood” as an older woman I once knew used to say.

R – is for Reading!! Geez, folks, break away from that insane TV box a little more often & read! You will learn things, you’ll be inspired, you’ll feel your spirit soar, even. No kidding!! Please, please, please: read! (It will help blast you out of your rigidity!) Heck, even junky reading is better than none. I think…

S – is for remembering to Stay in the Moment. When you stay in the moment more, you find your spirits soaring more frequently, & you also feel much more open to possibility. Also, Showing Up is key, key, key! (activist me says also, don’t forget Solidarity.)

T – is for remembering that Thoughts come before Feelings. So if we learn to transform our thoughts (a regular gratitude practice can do this for us, & so can meditation, I am told), we transform our emotions. They overpower us less. We feel calmer, more centred. More peaceful. More joyful. I guess I also believe pretty big-time in truth, Telling the Truth.

U – is for Understanding ourselves & others. We cannot understand others when we don’t understand ourselves. & we cannot have compassion for others when we have not yet learned to have it for ourselves. (This may sound like a small concept, but it’s pretty darn big!)

V – is for Valuing – everything! This beautiful planet we call home. Ourselves. Others. & for values such as compassion, generosity, truth, wisdom, integrity, courage, honesty.

W – is for Walking, Wisdom, Whistleblowers (this relates to my environmental work & I couldn’t resist!), & the power of Words. Also, for understanding that we all have something to teach, & something to learn.

X – is for …hmmm. X is a tough one, isn’t it?? Still working on X…

Y – is for … Y is a tough one too. Maybe it’s for Yellow, that wonderful vibrant colour that can often make us feel cheerier?? Yellow also represents our utterly miraculous sun, hmmm? That brilliant orb 93 million miles away from Planet Earth that we sometimes forget powers every single thing that happens in & on our home planet. & without which, we’d be toast, & fast! Hurray for solar power! (& Yoga, although admittedly I never seem to do it myself; such a bad example I set; sorry, everyone! )

Z – I was going to say that Zzzzzz is for sleep, as I’m a bit Z-challenged right now. But it occurs to me it also stands for the very opposite of sleep. As in, Zip. Get a little zip in your life, dear Reader. Or even a lot!!

Which I hope you might do as a result of these words, this crazy little alphabet scheme. If not this, then the quotations collection that accompanies it…


‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille, from Dance to the Piper quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken



12 2011

Blog Queries: Funny & Odd

On my blog, I get to look at sort of statistical information about the # of people reading it & what queries put into a search engine led them here. I can also “track” IP addresses (Internet Protocol is what IP stands for, btw). Just to the city &/or state or country of their origin. So I am never able to find out which individuals are reading it, but which country &/or state or province or city they are from. Or in some cases, which government department. (Yeah, there is some of that.) I’m pretty sure most readers are not from Canada, or people I know. Who’d have thunk it, eh??

Some readers seem to have it set up such that every time I do a new posting, they receive a copy of it via e-mail. If I knew how they set this up, I’d suggest others do it too!! Only I don’t. (A question to ask one of my more tech-savvy friends, hmmm? I know I have this set up on some other people’s blogs; I just don’t know how to tell anyone how to do it for mine!?) Sometimes I’m curious as to who these folks are…but I don’t get to find that out. One’s anonymity is utterly protected!

Some people land on my blog after having made some kind of interesting Google queries. Just a few (I wish I’d kept track of more; some of them are sure a hoot!!):

  • Is the whole world dysfunctional? (Uh. Mostly it kind of seems that way, doesn’t it?)
  • Were the mines in Bancroft properly decommissioned? (Um. I really kind of doubt it.)
  • Is it safe to live in Elliot Lake? (Sorry to say, I am not so sure it is.)
  • How do I ship a radioactive bar of steel? (I wish I was making this up.) Sir or madam, in response to your query, shall I just say “I would rather you did NOT.”
  • Do radionuclides suppress the immune system? (Yup; ‘fraid so!)
  • How old is Janet from janet’s planet? (Why would you care??)


I miss 99.9% of all this tracking stuff, ‘cos mostly I am out living my life, not sitting on my blog & watching stats. So I bet I’ve missed scads of other pretty fun queries that have sent people to this blog.

Onward ho! Another busy day ahead…



‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein


02 2012


So, I came out for my walk this morning (I aim to walk an hour every day; it seems to be essential for both body & soul; I’m addicted to my daily walk), & it’s been grand. It’s been snowing here, & I’ll have to go back & shovel the driveway (I’m at a coffee place writing this) but that’s OK, I have an exercise deficit to make up for (missed walking yesterday – it was a “bed day” – worked all day, but didn’t walk).

What came to me this morning as I walked along (once I quickly dispensed with a few petty “she said, he said” kinds of thoughts; got that over with very fast), was that walking un-hinges me – in a good way.

It’s maybe a little as though it acts as a lubricant – it smooths out my mind, my thoughts, & once the surface gets clear, or smooth, some good stuff gets the chance to float up. This takes solitary walking, btw. Like Brenda Ueland, who said in her book If You Want to Write – A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day. I have done this for many years. It is at these times I seem to get re-charged. … My explanation of it is that when I walk in a carefree way, without straining to get to my destination, then I am living in the present. And it is only then that the creative power flourishes,” I advocate walking alone. Daily, if at all possible. (Walking with a friend or partner is wonderful too – I can think of at least one relationship that probably would have survived if we’d kept up the walking habit from our early days – but social walking is a completely different kettle of fish, with quite a different purpose.)

Today a few treasures came up:

Metaphor thoughts about paths, for example – a topic that comes up for me from time to time. I was walking in snow a couple of feet deep – had just the right boots on & was walking across a field & all was well, then along came a snowmobile track, & you might think walking in a previously-formed track would be preferable, but it was actually slippery-er that way, so I stepped back off “the trail” & was reminded of how I’ve had path/trail thoughts before – thoughts about paths & how they diverge, or we stay on them, or we don’t…

& hey! I enjoy metaphors, so that was fun.

& I was reminded of money. I’d woken up thinking that so often we think money will “solve” our problems, & often (in my view) it just muddles things up, & I recalled how & why money has never turned my crank much (short version: my “family of origin” had at least a bit of it, not a ton but a decent amount, but it sure as heck didn’t make us happy! End of story), & money can of course be useful, or even essential (& I myself have to start earning some of it soon, since having the outgoing exceeding the incoming can only work for so long, hmmm? So I will!), but often money just gets in the way. So sayeth I.

& as I walked along I encountered some drivers in big vehicles (lotta big vehicles in this town, hooey!) who were driving too fast & too heedlessly & was once again reminded of a parallel I’ve noticed between drivers of cars & trucks & political leaders or bigshots of any description, I guess: once one gets a little too much “power,” one can quickly lose one’s sense of perspective, hmmm? & behave dangerously. Oh yes.

& other thoughts/metaphors about dancing…& angles…& treasure…but if I’m not careful I could go on with this all day, & I’ve got that driveway to shovel, hmmm? & lots of work to do.

Suffice it to say, walking saves my ass, & I can’t recommend a simple daily habit of it (even 10 minutes is better than nothing!) highly enough.

Happy New Year to us all!!


p.s. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) once said, “Do not follow where the path may lead…go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” (other quotations about walking here)

p.p.s. a couple days later: on this morning’s walk it occurred to me to summarize what I get out of my walks: knots unravel. Inspiration(s) dawn. Solutions to problems present themselves. Challenges get mentally sorted out. I let off steam. I breathe & enjoy Nature – sky, clouds, birds, fields (or if in town, well, whatever…I walk wherever I am, even downtown Toronto; it would be fun to know how many hundreds of miles I’ve clocked there over the years!!). I often think funny thoughts & have a chuckle (mostly at myself). It’s a gold mine!! (Another thing: when I’m out walking, I feel a great sense of possibility. I feel as though I really can achieve all those task I want to get done, write all that stuff I want to write, etc. etc. etc. Feeling open to possibility is a mighty fine feeling! (plus, I can waste hours tizzying over how busy I am & how I can’t get everything done. A walk generally helps me un-tizzy & figure out an actual plan for getting it all done.)

p.p.p.s. many choices as to how you can incorporate a daily walk into your routine. I’ve done it whether “working” or not. Before work, after work, during lunch hour. In the country, in the city. Short walks, medium walks, long walks; you name it. Any walk is always a good walk, & however short, always better than none!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman



01 2012

Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately: Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
 (Nov. 2011)

Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately ~ Facing The Tragedy of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Disaster ~


Accompanying comments

From Sendai 
November 8, 2011

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

To all residents in Japan,

The accident in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant triggered by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake contaminated the ocean and land by radiation, and tragically disrupted the daily life of an enormous number of people. Even now, almost one hundred thousand people are evacuated from the neighboring area of the nuclear plant, and numerous people are forced to live in fear and anxiety.

With regard to the pros and cons of nuclear plants, we, Japanese bishops, expressed in our message “Reverence for Life–A Message for the Twenty-First Century from the Catholic Bishops of Japan” as follows:
“It has provided a totally new source of energy for humanity, but as we can see in the destruction of human life in a moment in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the disaster at Chernobyl and the life-threatening criticality accident at Tokaimura, it also has the potential to pass huge problems on to future generations. To use it effectively, we need the wisdom to know our limits and exercise the greatest care. In order to avoid tragedy, we must develop safe alternative means of producing energy.”(1)

The “tragedy” in this message was brought about by nothing less than the accident in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. This nuclear disaster wiped out the “safety myth”, which was created because people put too much trust in science and technology without having “the wisdom to know our limits”.

In the message “Reverence for Life”, we, Japanese bishops could not go so far as to urge the immediate abolishment of nuclear plants. However, after facing the tragic nuclear disaster in Fukushima, we regretted and reconsidered such attitude. And now, we would like to call for the immediate abolishment of all the power plants in Japan.

With regard to the immediate abolishment of nuclear plants, some people voice concerns about energy shortage. There are also various challenges such as the reduction of carbon dioxide. However, most important of all, we as members of the human race, have responsibilities to protect all life and nature as God’s creation, and to pass on a safer and more secure environment to future generations. In order to protect life, which is so precious, and beautiful nature, we must not focus on economic growth by placing priority on profitability and efficiency, but decide at once to abolish nuclear plants.

Because of the prediction that a new disaster will occur due to another earthquake or tsunami, all the 54 nuclear plants in Japan are at risk of horrific accidents like the latest one. Therefore, in order to prevent human-generated calamities associated with natural disasters as much as possible, it is essential to eliminate nuclear plants.

Although nuclear plants have been supplying energy in the context of “peaceful use” to society until now, they have also released an enormous amount of radioactive waste such as plutonium. We are going to place the custodial responsibility of these dangerous wastes on future generations for centuries to come. We must consider this matter to be an ethical issue.

Nuclear power has been encouraged by national policies up to now. As a result, natural energy has fallen behind in development and popularity. We urge that the national policies be changed to place top priority on development and implementation of natural energy, which will also contribute to reducing carbon dioxide. On the other hand, it takes a long time and enormous labor to decommission a nuclear plant. Therefore, the decommissioning of reactors and the disposal of radioactive waste must be conducted with extreme caution.

Indeed, electricity is essential for our lives today. However, what is important is to amend our ways of general life by changing the lifestyles that excessively depend on electricity.

Japan has its culture, wisdom and tradition that have long co-existed with nature. Religions such as Shinto and Buddhism are also based on the same spirit. Christianity has the spirit of poverty as well. Therefore, Christians have an obligation to bear genuine witness to the Gospel especially through the ways of life expected by God; “simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice”.(2) We should choose anew a simple and plain lifestyle based on the spirit of the Gospel (3), in cases like saving electricity. We live in the hope that science and technology will develop and advance based on the same spirit. These attitudes will surely lead to a safer and more secure life without nuclear plants.

From Sendai
November 8, 2011
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan


(1) Reverence for Life –A Message for the Twenty-First Century from the Catholic Bishops of Japan (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, 2001, p.104~p.105).
Another message on nuc