Archive for the Environmentalism Category

Commercial Propaganda Exploiting Nature

Posted in Artificial Chemical Products, Commercial Corporations, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2017 by Drogo

Here is a short study of one commercial product whose propaganda greatly affected me as a child. I recall enjoying the deep psychological pleasure that the addition of the bottle (with a small image of a tropical jungle on it) gave me when showering. My mind had been conditioned to imagine spiritually floating through a series of tropical paradise landscapes towards a waterfall for blissful “natural” cleansing. The irony is that no proof is given of the “organic” or “natural” chemicals in the product, and clearly the real under-lying goal is to profit from the economic loss of the consumer (as is the case with typical capitalist corporations).

HERBAL ESSENCE

herbal essence bubbles  1972

herbal_essences_by_emmgoyer7-d563fe7  2015

herbal essence shower

The more recent commercials are extremely sickly POST-MODERN, playing on their own popularity by exaggerating and exploiting the sexual and “natural” aspects to an insane and self-defeating level. Yes the images are very appealing, but the message has become about declaring “yes we are an amoral company that doesn’t really care about the natural environment, or real communal spirit, or native tribes; but buy our product because you are just as selfish as we are, and the commercial is sexy“.

2015 Crass Post-Modern Commercial: “Take Your Hair To Paradise” 

In fairness, SCOD can credit commercial products like this for exposing how propaganda works to encourage people to adjust their behaviors. SCOD Bog Peeps project was based on this premise, of showing beautiful people in natural ‘paradise’ settings. The difference being that SCOD is truly dedicated to helping people to live WITH-IN Nature.

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To The Children of the Future

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Environmentalism, Organic Development, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by Drogo

I am sorry that we of Generation X have not done more to preserve our Nature Environment. Yes we participated in protests, and various activist roles, but we have been largely apathetic as a whole, and the grip that the Baby-Boomer Generation has had on government has not lessened. Their corporate corruption certainly set the stage for Trump and his ilk. There was even talk among our revolutionaries of assassinating all the demagogues, but that did not seem reasonable to do on a weekend.

Instead of acting on our angst and over-throwing the system in order to replace with with real democracy, we instead spent our money (what little we could make in a diminishing economy) on movies and video games, preparing the way for the autism of Millennials. Ass-bergers is not to blame for the pollution of our water, land, and air; no the fault belongs to apathy and ignorance. I honestly thought that Rambo and Commando would solve all our problems through the kicking the ass of every enemy. Well we certainly helped accomplish global destruction of nature, as well as humans, through our aggression and belligerence. The shells of wasted ammo pile high, and the smog from spent fuel hangs heavy in the air. The smell of burning oil wells is our generation’s new ‘napalm in the morning’.

Cities have poisoned their own water supplies, corporations have waged wars on workers, and yet we still allow terrible, evil people to control our lives and ruin your future. I am sorry my children, I would have liked to have more green spaces for you to enjoy for quality of life, and technology for you to use for renewable energy. And yet we are developing every square foot of our country by paving over it, and building wasteful architecture. I have quite serving that system, to the best of my ability, and I fight against it, peacefully as much as I can. For you and me, I pledge I will never stop the struggle to allow us to thrive with nature, responsibly, and most of all for you because I love you.

– Drogo Empedocles

John Muir, Nature’s Visionary

Posted in Book Reports, Nature Studies, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2016 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for SEPT. 2016 by Christine Schoene Maccabee

 

Choked in the sediments of society, so tired of the world, here will your hard doubts disappear…and your soul breathe deep and free in God’s shoreless atmosphere of beauty and love.”

– John Muir, 1903

The above quote was part of John Muir’s impassioned invitation to President Roosevelt and Vice President Howard Taft to join him in Yosemite and camp out under the stars. Together they talked about protecting the giant redwoods from timbering, as well as preserving the ecological wonders only Muir, and the natives who had lived there, knew intimately. Upon returning East the Roosevelt Administration created 5 national parks, 23 national monuments, and added more than 148 million acres of woodland to the national forest system. Muir was also founder of the Sierra Club of which most of us are aware and some of us members.

In my 20’s I knew next to nothing about the person of John Muir until I read a book, Baptized into Wilderness, which is filled with many inspiring writings from his years spent as caretaker in Yosemite. How he managed to brilliantly overcome the trauma of living with his tyrannical father, a Scottish Calvinist Minister of the worst sort who beat him daily, is nothing short of a miracle. As Muir wrote in his autobiography,“by the time I was 11 years of age I had about three-fourths of the Old Testament and all of the New by heart and by sore flesh.”

Fortunate to be nurtured by the love of his mother and sisters, and due to his fascination with nature and inventing, he grew into a strong young man, fully determined to make his own way in life once the family moved from Scotland to Wisconsin. Helping to clear land and create their homestead was no easy life, but in his free time, Muir invented all sorts of crazy things made from scraps of iron and wood. At age 22 he decided to show his inventions at the state fair in Madison and was a smash hit with his “early rising machine” which tipped a person out of bed at an appointed hour. His father accused him of the sin of vanity.

He avoided the Civil War on the grounds of passivism while attending the University of Wisconsin, which he dropped out of after his sophomore year, little knowing that 34 years later he would receive an honorary degree, Dr. of Laws, from that same college. With a beard as bushy and long as any had seen, he headed to Canada on foot, “botanizing” along the way. The things of nature were always his first love.

After loosing his eyesight due to a freak accident at a machinery factory, Muir gasped, “My right eye is gone! Closed forever on all God’s beauty.” His left eye also failed, leaving him blind. However, after endless nightmares and despair while convalescing in a darkened room, his vision slowly returned. Muir proclaimed “Now I have risen from the grave” and he forever shunned the work of factories. Instead, he took to further journeys by foot, with his plant press on his back, heading south to “anywhere in the wilderness” which took him through the Appalachian Mountains and swamps of Georgia . He sketched and journaled and pressed plants along the way.

That first long walk of 1,000 miles took him to Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. However, his longest journey by foot, which he called “my grand sabbath day three years long” drew him West, climbing Mt.Ranier, exploring glaciers in Alaska, and ultimately settling in the California Sierras. It was there that he wrote his most inspiring words describing the beauty and wonder of the plant life, animals, boulders, sequoias, and experiencing ecstatic moments at the top of a tree during a hurricane. Muir proclaimed his reverence for all life forms, becoming a “voice for the voiceless”as he worked to convince others as to the need to preserve as much of the untouched purity of the natural world as possible.

Muir’s invitation to go out and become “steeped in the wonder of creation” was not only for people back then. It is still an invitation to us all today. My own life has been shaped by Muir and many other voices for the voiceless ; that is how I have come to write of my own passion to preserve and enhance wild places, allowing even more habitat on our properties and in our backyards .

Fortunately for us there is a monthly meeting of the Sierra Club at our library in Thurmont ! This month we will meet on Saturday, September 3 from 10-12. Do come join us as we work on a variety of projects to help preserve the goodness of our planet for generations to come.

With John Muir’s Vision as our inspiration we can make progress in spite of adversities. If he did it, so can we !

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Christine is a member of Thurmont’s Green Team and a Master Habitat Naturalist. She would be happy to help you with habitat, particularly plant ID, on your own property and can be reached at songbirdschant@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

GOT THE BLUES ? (butterflies)

Posted in Nature Studies, Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 16, 2016 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for July 2016 by Christine Schoene Maccabee

GOT THE BLUES ?

Blues are little sparkling gems of the butterfly world, belonging to the

family of gossamer wings (Lycaenidae), whose local populations

periodically go extinct.” Butterfly Book by

Donald & Lillian Stokes

When I first saw an eastern tailed blue butterfly I was startled. I stood stock still as it opened and closed its small wings, brown when closed, and when opened, well, words cannot describe the beauty of the blue color flashing before my eyes. It sat on a flower for only a few moments, opening and closing its wings in the sunlight as I stood there in awe. I treasure those few moments as some of the most rewarding in my efforts to create habitat for rare and endangered species, and I hope to see more breathtaking blues this summer.

Many years ago I learned of the problems the blues are having with habitat loss ; the Karner blue in New York and the Xerxes blues in California are both victims of urbanization. So when I moved out here on my 11 acres I was determined to plant as much lupine as I could. The entire life cycle of blue butterflies depends on ample lupine, clover, even vetch and alfalfa, all of which are in the legume family. For awhile, I had an entire bank filled with lovely blue lupine which I grew from seed. However, after several years certain other native plants crowded it out and now I must protect the areas for lupine from them, which can be rather intensive work. The flowers and leaves of lupines are beautiful, so it is well worth the effort !

The good news is, blues can also carry out their entire life cycles on clovers,

even white yard clovers, and clovers grow easily on their own. So now, on my property, in small islands throughout the lawn, I am allowing clovers to grow. They must not be disturbed, as possibly eggs are being laid on them, and larva are feeding on them. As well, tiny ants are protecting them. ANTS ? ! you ask. Yes, ants are critical for their survival. This is another one of those little known essential symbiotic relationships most people are not aware of but which is absolutely fascinating, as most things natural are. Let me explain…

Briefly, the larvae of blues secrete a sweet honeydew from their abdomens to which ants are attracted for feeding. The larvae also have glands all over their bodies which secrete amino acids, a component of protein, which the ants can get simply by stroking the body of the larva with their antennas. Due to this, ants protect this food source by repelling insect predators and parasites which would do harm to the caterpillars. In a study made of this peculiar association it was found that 4 to 10 more caterpillars survive in the presence of ants. Great odds I would say !

So, you who have a terrible aversion to ants, just know that they are one of the most important and amazing eusocial insects in the world and deserve our respect. Even though some are considered agricultural and household pests, in the right place ants “bind together many terrestrial ecosystems”, according to the esteemed Edward Wilson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book ANTS. Personally, I work around ants, and only on a rare occasion might I kill one.

Back to the blues. I do get the blues when I see all the clover mowed down in huge yards where nobody ever walks. Bees love them also for their nectar, so clovers serve multiple purposes. However, here on my property I must deal with the “mower man”, and I do. This summer I am creating “Blue butterfly zones” and am soon to laminate signs with a picture of a blue butterfly on it to be placed on a stake in the middle of its clover habitat. If you have the heart to do this as well, and a mower man who will accommodate your interest, then do it. I suggest having several patches, not just one, and encourage neighbors to do so as well. That way there is not as much habitat fragmentation and the butterflies and bees can easily fly from one patch to another.

On many occasions I have seen the tiny pygmy, or elfin blue butterfly (as I call them), so I suspect it may be fairly common. It is no more than a half inch wide and has powdery blue wings. Insects are quite clever at surviving in spite of habitat loss, and it seems the smaller they are the better. Larger ones, such as the Monarch, have a longer life cycle and since they migrate need lots of habitat. Most blues are usually about the size of a quarter, but are still in need of plenty of clover or lupine to thrive. Perhaps I will grow a patch of alfalfa next summer and see what happens.

Nothing important in life is ever accomplished if we are complacent, or indifferent. We can sit around angry, or depressed, singing the blues all our lives, or we can do our small part to help protect a fragile ecosystem right in front of our eyes. It might not happen overnight, but someday you might be lucky enough to see a gossamer blue butterfly float out of no where and land on a clover in your yard. That moment of pure beauty will confirm for you, as it did for me, the importance of doing something, and never giving up.

Christine is a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist in the Catoctins. She welcomes feedback, so if you see a blue butterfly, or wish to speak with her about your own concerns or interests, do contact her at songbirdschant@gmail.com

Even if you look closely at your clovers, you ay not see these larvae as they are no more than a third of an inch long, but goodluck trying. Perhaps you will find a fourleaf clover.

Commercial Corporate vs Local Community Income

Posted in Economics, Services, Sales or Trade, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2016 by Drogo

As I network locally, nationally, and globally; I feel a need to talk about jobs and how less and less of us have less and less jobs, and the more education we have, the less ethical jobs are available.

Commercial corporate, industrial factory, or other greed and pollution based jobs that I and most other workers have to pay minimum wage bills are not the answer anymore. Based on the economic market since the Great Recession, there will be less of those unethical jobs. Also more of us are becoming educated about the environment, pollution, history, economics, politics, and civil rights; so less of us will want to have those jobs as we know they will affect us adversely psychologically and combined with over-population will continue to destroy our environment. Scientists seem to be saying that humans have been rapidly destroying entire species of life, but civilized people have taken no substantial actions to stop or undo pollution and killing world-wide or at home; as it would mean going to war with greedy powers.

Local community economies must become more substantial. Meetings should be held to discuss which technologies are important to us, and which ones are destroying our ability to sustain ourselves. Income based living is a fairly new concept, in the history of human existence on this planet, and we now can clearly see the out-come of Capitalist based economies: Bernie ‘Made-off’, ‘Greedy’ Greenspan, Dan Ryan, and Donald Trump. Artists and humanitarians of all kinds have been made to suffer, and told we are not worth anything and should not be able to pay our bills doing what we love and do well, which is to be alive by the grace of Nature and allowed to express our talents in the service of ourselves and others. Instead we have been told by the dominant system that only corporate or government slave labor is practical service.

I believe we have been born into a corrupt system that is wrong. I have written, and will be writing more articles about these issues. I invite you to contact SCOD (Sustainable Cooperative for Organic Development), and please express yourself and tell the world that you have a right to live, helping the community as best you can where-ever you are located; whether you are the most energetic and able bodied person; or all you are best at is being able to write, draw, or speak. Human rights should begin with allowing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and to me that means being allowed to live in a home even you cannot earn any money.

The answer as to what kind of economy we need, clearly will be based on what our needs are currently, while planning for the future. Few people think about how things will get worse, and how we can make them better. It begins with finding people locally that you like and have some ability to help you to live better; artists, gardeners, trades-workers, singers, farmers, bakers, or cooks etc… then paying them or trading with them. Next it will take changing our state or national economic system, and making the rich corporate politicians that rape the planet pay for their greedy deeds entirely. Allow the rest of us poor people (that cannot afford our own homes) to live our lives, with an ‘affordable’ living. All people should be given enough to live on by a government, rather than spending the same money on War and Plutocrats. This is sometimes called the ‘basic living wage’ concept; but it goes beyond wages and addresses the ‘right to life’.

More on this later in my books….

  • Drogo

Ending Abuse ASAP

Posted in Psychology, Spiritual, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2016 by Drogo

The Art of Ending War Before It Begins

Law suits and physical fights are reasons why I avoid people that show they want to argue about ‘creative differences’ more than they want to ‘creatively collaborate’. I admit i still like the thrill of battle, but i just know how to win before it begins now. LOL Basically I will always communicate with a partner or client until they start getting nasty (meaning personal insults and not just logic of limits) it took years of practice with clients to understand how to avoid the blame game – and years of realizing it comes down to personality and behavior (psych eval). Offer what you can, and if you or they are not pleased enough over a period of time, realize the cycle of abuse before it goes further, and cut losses. If the fight cannot be avoided, it is preferable to get a seat in the audience. Abuse is the wrong kind of drama for a healthy relationship. Abuse is often determined by one side making demands that the other side views as hurtful or oppressive. However if it will not end, and you have a chance to end it before worse things happen, take it. Often we allow situations to escalate because of kindness, and kindness can get taken advantage of for better or worse.

Cut off all communications with those that are willing to hurt you, and get help to enforce the laws that protect our rights to do so.

The more severe the behaviors (not talking about freedom of speech but actual business or physical moves), the more the need to sever contact ASAP (as soon as possible).

For tips on how to creatively collaborate, rather than quit due to creative differences, read articles on child-like vs child-ish, cooperative creation, and respecting the imagination and limits of others. Make sure that all parties are aware of all the factors and levels of risk before getting too involved, or cutting losses becomes suicide. Within a cooperative you can have committees with leaders, so make sure you understand how project politics work by reading about what has worked in the past. Working partnerships are not less important than friendships, as the level of trust needed often transcends the normal daily challenges of friendship; and because the stakes are greater (even if symbolic of what might happen if there was more at stake), business can often show you who is a loyal friend and wants to support or cooperate with you and how willing they are to do so.

Swallows Are Back!

Posted in Nature Studies, Poems, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 29, 2016 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for June, 2016 by Christine Schoene Maccabee

The Swallows Are Back !

“Birds, the free tenants of land, air, and ocean,

their forms all symmetry, their motions grace…”

James Montgomery, British Poet

I often wonder how many other people feel a thrill when the swallows return to our area in early May. In late April this year I began to watch for them with high expectation. Every year the swallows are drawn back to my home like a magnet, much to my amazement and joy. Their nest of mud and grasses, lined with soft feathers, is perched in a corner of the eaves of my A-frame house. Due to the strength of this nest, and how well it is “glued” to the wood, it has lasted through many a fierce storm. It is the second nest the swallows created there in more than 20 years, the first one falling down just a few years ago. That particular spring, upon their return, they built another strong nest in the very same place, and I expect it to last just as long as the other one.

The first sign of the return of my feathered tenants is their excited chirping, and my day is immediately happier upon hearing them. They sound like they are having a lively conversation, which I guess they are, and my loneliness is displaced by their cheerful company. Since arriving here several days ago, the mated pair has been zooming all day through the skies eating whatever they can find. Every spring and summer they keep my atmosphere completely free of mosquitoes, so no Zika Virus here ! However, due to all the rain and cool weather this spring, the flying bug population is not so great yet. Hopefully the birds had plenty of food while traveling north after wintering somewhere in Mexico or some country in South America. Some swallows winter as far away as Argentina !

I wish I knew my swallows’ entire story, but at least I do know part of their story here in northern Frederick county. I have seen mothers, and fathers, sitting on their nest until the babies hatch. Thereafter the wonderful partnership of the parents continues, taking turns feeding the nestlings, and themselves. It takes a lot of energy zooming around all day. It is a true joy to watch them fly far out over the fields, gathering what they can at lightening speed, and then bringing the food back to their eager nestlings. Usually there are four young ones, and once these fledgelings leave the nest the mother and father occasionally settle down to raising 4 more.

Birds, as we all know, are amazing creatures. We humans are fascinated with both their flight, and their songs, not to forget their amazingly artistic colorations. Many a poet has written eloquently about them and artists such as Audubon have painted detailed representations of them (more than 1,000 to be nearly exact!). Songs like “The Little Red Lark”, an Irish ballad, portray their amazing flights and songs, and airplanes were invented as we grounded humans decided we too had to fly. This idea may or may not have been a good one. After all, birds are following their natural inclinations, whereas humans do not, and we are definitely polluting our planet with all our unnatural contraptions, are we not ?

So, perhaps that is why I am so mesmerized by birds, particularly the swallows. They are so small, seemingly so vulnerable, and yet they can fly such long distances with the greatest of ease. In fact, once here, it is estimated they can fly the equivalent of 600 miles a day in quest of food for their young, according to the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds. So how is that possible ? you ask.

In my research I have learned, as many of you likely already know, that birds are very light (as light as a feather in fact) due to the fact that their bones are hollow and filled with air. Also, according to a book on Natural History by Bertha Parker, connected with a bird’s lungs are tiny air sacs scattered throughout its body. These air sacs act like tiny hot-air balloons ! Therefore a typical swallow weighs far less than a mouse, lizard or frog of the same size. A birds streamlined body is another help in flying. Humans have tried to mimic these qualities, the closest coming to gliders of various types, and hot-air balloons. I will not say anything about all the other larger, costly, heavy planes, especially of war, which have completely digressed from Nature’s perfect plan.

So, back to feathers. Feathers also serve the purpose of protecting birds from rain and cold. They shed rain because they are a little oily and the intricate parts of the feathers are cleverly put together in lovely, serviceable patterns. Feathers also keep the birds body warm, trapping the heat ; think of your down sleeping bag. This winter I remember telling my chickens to huddle close and keep warm, as I closed them up for the night in their unheated coup. I even worried a bit, but they weathered the cold winter beautifully as they are fully and thickly feathered.

I am in total admiration of birds in general, and sometimes I wish I were as free as they are, unfettered by coats and boots and layers of clothing, and independent of automobile expenses. I envy them for their ability to fly and feed themselves without growing their own food or going into a grocery store.

However, as Popeye so wisely said, “I yam what I yam, and tha’s all what I yam”, and there is no escaping that fact ! I do rather like having two strong legs, and arms I can reach to the sky with, giving praise for all the wonders of life. I am also thrilled to have my swallows back here for another season. I will miss them when they gather to go south in August, and I can usually tell when the time is coming by all their excitement as they zoom around my house with their happy, chirping fledgelings, full grown by then, and fully independent. Sigh.

I wish I could fly free as a bird, and be light as a feather !

Christine is a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist and can be reached at songbirdschant@gmail.com with any questions or stories of your own.