Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Climate change bad for business...

...so the suits are getting worried. The Stern review calls for a new global deal to curb carbon emissions. Funny but as long as global warming was a problem only for anoraks nobody was concerned. With 4x4's all the fashion and cheap flights for all who would care about rising sea levels in Bangladesh or drought in Africa? We are so used to the idea that climate change is going to happen sometime in the future when our children will have to pick up the tab that we fail to realise this is happening right now. This year wheat harvests failed because of drought and prices are expected to rise as a result. So stock up on pasta if you are a hamster. Even the humble global kiwi is guilty of emitting too much carbon on its way to our supermarket shelves. With a possible global economic downturn of 5% to 20% if we do nothing the economic case is now in line with the ecological imperative. So what's stopping us? Maybe we could make a start by flying less.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Earth spirit...

"Navdanya means nine crops that represent India's collective source of food security. The main aim of the Navdanya biodiversity conservation programme is to support local farmers, rescue and conserve crops and plants that are being pushed to extinction and make them available through direct marketing.
Navdanya is actively involved in the rejuvenation of indigenous knowledge and culture. It has created awareness on the hazards of genetic negineering, defended people's knowledge from biopiracy and food rights in the face of globalisation.
It has its own seed bank and organic farm spread over an ares of 20 acres in Uttranchal, north India."
It is modernity that separates spirit and matter to the detriment of the former. When we touch the earth we touch the spirit. Joli weekend, mes amis.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Norwegian railings...

...have now been installed on the tube so maybe the Northern Line will be less tedious as they also answer back when you sit on them.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Got another two planets, mate?...

...As Iraq, Blair and Bush go into meltdown and we all hope the Republicans get their arse whipped in the November elections a report out today shows that Britain will soon need the resources of three planet Earths to maintain its current levels of consumption according to the WWF as "in 2003, the most recent year for which figures were available, demand exceeded supply by about 25%, meaning the Earth took 15 months to produce the resources that had been consumed over 12.
The group warned that the consequences of the accelerating pressure on the Earth's natural systems were "both predictable and dire", and would mean the collapse of ecosystems and the erosion of the Earth's ability to support people." What is more important? Fighting a war that is already lost or trying to change our habits so that future generations have a planet to live on? It is time for Tony Blair to move on. Maybe Arnie can give him a job in California where levels of consumption require five planet Earths. But who should replace him? Gordon Brown sounds just as bad and Cameron has a long way to go to be convincing although he does try at least to make the right noises. No, it is we the people who must decide whether or not we want a future. Each one of us has a responsibility to adopt a sustainable lifestyle so that we leave a minimal environmental footprint as we walk this Earth that is the mother of us all.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Immunology and hallucinogens...

...and the learning curve of delirium were the topic of this night's magic mushroom "trip" or rather lack of a trip. I feel very tired as if I've been fighting something. When I started my research into psychedelics three years ago I was open to whatever the path would show me. Now three years later I reach the sober conclusion that my immune system has adapted to the toxological effects of magic mushrooms. My arthritis has gone. I freak out less. I have the paradoxical reaction of the return of depression after many years absence but also the development of a more refined sensitivity known in French as tristesse that in the classic bipolar way is alternated by statess of bliss that seem to come at random. There is a lack of inner agitation and a feeling of contentment. Yet there is much work to be done. The shadow of tuberculosis has returned to my life as an outbreak in my circle of friends has caused fifteen infections. As of yet we do not know the strain. I can only hope it's not the multiple drug resistant variant. One of my best friends has been coughing up blood and presenting all the classic symptoms. Perhaps it is time to wake up to the silent epidemic on our doorstep. According to the WHO one third of the world's population are infected with TB. I am one of them. At least according to the unreliable Tine test. I hope that my immune system is learning to cope. Joli weekend, mes amis!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quote of the day...

..."Russian is a very complicated language, sometimes it is very sensitive from the point of view of phrasing," said the Kremlin press service as Vladimir Putin said "I never would have expected it of him. He has surprised us all, we all envy him!" on Moshe Katsav, Isreal's president who could be charged with the rape and sexual harassment of several women. Wonder what Rachel thinks of this?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eviction street party in Amsterdam...

...as a number of squats were evicted today by the riot police. The clowns were great but at one point on the Weteringschans the cops lost their sense of humour and decided to arrest them, which seemed a bit silly. I spent my lunch being chased by the riot police with their water cannons. Then we had a picnic by the cops van and watched the whole spectacle. The last action was near the Anne Franck House opposite the Westerkerk. A number of the squatters were arrested so we hope they will be let out ASAP and free the clowns, guys! Where's ya sense of humour?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Kids boogie...

...What does the discerning nine year old boogie to these days? Ray Charles of course, at least in our house. For the past couple of days we've beem treated to a spontaneous surprise dancing show every evening before bedtime, put on by our own trio of dancing girls aged six, seven and nine. Today was Ray Charles' turn to provide the groove. The downside is that I have to get up every morning at seven to take them to school but I guess that's a small price to pay. Sometimes when we are really lucky we get some chocolate with the surprise. It's all part of entering a kids world and it sure keeps me busy and leaves me less time for blogging. Hopefully some routine will set in during the coming weeks. The weather here is still very mild and all the leaves are still on the trees. Saturday is mushroom teatime again and I'm curious to see how my spirit reacts to all the changes that have been taking place. A very good friend of mine called me a romantic the other day. If that means Goethe and Beethoven then I plead guilty as charged. What have we learned stuck here in Plato's cave? Plus ├ža change... That the circle is a spiral dance? That we are all children deep down and the wise are those who own up to their lack of knowledge. Despair is not a sensible option nor is greed or cynicism. Wake up to the child in your eyes. And keep taking the chocolate!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How safe are pesticides?...

...Today in the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam that question was being asked in the context of medical marijuana. Soma's case now hinges on the decision as to whether a patient has the right to alternative medicine that is free of pesticides and the adverse effects of irradiation. This case has wider implications for the organic movement as clear medical evidence was given about the risks involved in inhaling pesticides, as opposed to eating them. People working where pesticides are used could also use this case in an argument about potential risks to health. Put simply the Dutch government was allowing the distribution of medical marijuana that had high traces of pesticides to pharmacies for the use of patients suffering from chronic pain. One of the disadvantages that the grey area of marijuana cultivation presents is the difficulty of quality control. People have a right to have control over what they put in their bodies and a right to know what is in their medicine.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Start eating your planet today...

...somewhat earlier than 19 December which was when the Earth meal began in 1987. The ecological debt day is the measure of our global environmental footprint. Britain's day already fell on 16 April which shows how much the UK is consuming the world's resources. NEF says that "new calculations released today show that from now until the end of the year we will be living beyond our global environmental means. Research by the US-based Global Footprint Network in partnership with nef and Best Foot Forward reveals that as of today, humanity has used up what nature can renew this year and is now eating into its ‘ecological capital’.
Each year, the day that the global economy starts to operate with an ecological deficit is designated as ‘ecological debt day’ (known internationally as ‘overshoot day’). This marks the date that the planet’s environmental resource flow goes into the red and we begin operating on a non-existent environmental overdraft." Bon appetit!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ganja only causes short term memory loss...

...as a new study shows that THC can prevent Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down more effectively than commercially marketed drugs. So skin up senior citizens and enjoy a mellow old age. I find marijuana great for...um what was it?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Organic food standards at risk...

...as the demand for organic food grows and becomes more mainstream. Supermarkets are being accused of putting pressure on organic farmers to cut corners and lower standards and become more "efficient." Organic farming pioneer Lawrence Woodward said examples of "lowering standards" were the large numbers of "derogations", or get-out clauses, allowing farmers to be awarded organic licences even though they do not meet the correct standards. These include the use of conventional feed for poultry, the continued practice of slicing the beaks off chickens to prevent them mutilating each other, and the sale of organic chicken from flocks of 2,000 and more, even though the association recommendation is 500, reports today's Guardian. The Soil Association has confirmed the increase in lobbying by large supermarkets to lower standards. Many people I've spoken to have often said they do not trust the organic labels on supermarket products and feel that shops dedicated to selling only organic are more reliable. Here in Amsterdam we have a farmer's market on a Saturday at the Noordermarkt where it is possible to buy direct from the farmer. For the average consumer trust is a big issue and so it is vital to make sure that organic standards are kept. This particular case involves salmon farming but the principle applies to all foods. BSE was one of the main reasons why many people became vegetarian or decided to go organic and that crisis was a matter of trust and loss of faith. This is not the time to compromise basic principles just for profit.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


...Working with nature instead of against her seems like a good idea. I'm reading a lovely book called Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. The book describes a method of gardening and much more that works with nature and integrates land use by creating stable ecosystems that serve multiple needs such as food, fuel and clean water as well as respecting the part that all of life, including the so called "weeds" and insects or "pests", has to play in a balanced natural environment. What impressed me was the way in which a useless piece of desert was transformed into a living garden producing all the vegetables and fruit one could wish for. ThePermaculture website has some great links and the Permaculture Association is a good source of information on all aspects of this fascinating method of horticulture. This should be the future of gardening and could be one way in which many people could have a positive impact on global warming. Just finding out more about all the different things that a tree does was an eye opener. One of the principles of Hermeticism is that the Earth is alive. We need to learn to think in terms of living systems. All the billions of interconnections are what makes the living universe what it is. That is both science and magic, matter and spirit, in a down to earth practical way. Clean water. Clean air. Good food to eat. And lots of bees and butterflies. Paradise here on earth.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New beginnings...Post 101...

...The last few weeks have been very hectic and intense. For the first time in a few years I've been doing my old job of being a nurse and getting to know the Dutch psychiatric care system. Three emergencies in one week gave me a glimpse into the way things work here. When it comes to emergencies the Dutch can be far less bureaucratic than their reputation. The last mushroom tea was a very sobering and clear experience. I was left with a very deep impression of making a new start after all of my values had been challenged in recent months. I've had the seven year itch and it's left me very stratchy indeed. So what does it all mean. First of all I feel somehow physically very different, healthier and less prone to minor aches and pains. I sleep well and I eat well and get plenty of excercise and I meditate a lot. Never felt better in years. Many people around me seem to be going through intense traumas and crises yet I feel like the eye of the storm. I find myself turning more and more to the Western mystery tradition and its wisdom. The Hermetica and the Neo-Platonists in particular. We also have a great tradition of love for life and wisdom passed down from the days of Pythagoras. Perhaps we now need this wisdom more than ever as we face a global climate and energy crisis. Change begins with small things. I'm living with three young children at the moment. Interacting with them is fun and a great joy and they teach me much each day. I'm beginning to feel like a child again myself. Perhaps that's the secret. Never to grow up but instead remain in the beginner's mind where there are so many possibilities?