Vinay Gupta Tools To Not Die With: An Interview with Vinay Gupta, creator of the Hexayurt from BoingBoing. An important excerpt to take away:

Let me break that down: you take the sustainable harvest of the earth, and you take the share of that we’re allocating to humans, and then you divide by nine billion. So much carbon, so much steel, so much bamboo. It’s not quite that simple: some places are cold, other places rain a lot, but the basic framework is that we have to share the inputs the world generates nine billion ways. Right now we’re sharing them so badly that a billion of us are regularly hungry to the point where they get hunger diseases. Really that’s not OK. I know we all have our struggles, but this is not OK. So we have to fix this: design a good lifestyle which uses that amount of resources, and then adopt it.



Sandor Ellix Katz’s “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods”

Fermentation is a food preservation technique. Why let your cabbage rot when you can make sauerkraut? Make your own yogurt, kefir or kombucha. Kimchee? It’s in there. Beer, wine, mead? It’s in there.

Professor Niall Ferguson’s “Ascent of Money—A Financial History of the World”

One thing you’re never really quite taught in public schools is how money works. Sure, they might teach you how to use paper money, checkbooks or credit cards, but they won’t really teach you the origins of the paper money, checkbook, credit cards and how much money and finance has changed in history. It changes constantly, and usually to some advantage to the state or corporation. This four-hour long documentary should be required viewing for anyone serious about Occupying Wall Street, for you need to know what schemes “Wall Street” invented to oppress you with.

For the same reason why you can’t forego all social interactions in Into the Wild, you must realize that we cannot do without money because that is the very tool we require for social transactions above the level of barter.

Finally, a note for you Ron Paul-loving gold bugs: Gold is an element, it is not money—anymore. Fwah! 😉

“Into the Wild”: The Folly of Obsessive Individualist/Anarcho-Primitivist Anarchism

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But this movie is a great example of someone who decides that they can do without society and go it alone. Amazon’s review describes it this way:

A superb cast and an even-handed treatment of a true story buoy Into the Wild, Sean Penn’s screen adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s bestselling book. Emile Hirsch stars as Christopher McCandless, scion of a prosperous but troubled family who, after graduating from Atlanta’s Emory University in the early 1990s, decides to chuck it all and become a self-styled “aesthetic voyager” in search of “ultimate freedom.” He certainly doesn’t do it halfway: after donating his substantial savings account to charity and literally torching the rest of his cash, McCandless changes his name (to “Alexander Supertramp”), abandons his family (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden as his bickering, clueless parents and Jena Malone as his baffled but loving sister, who relates much of the backstory in voice-over), and hits the road, bound for the Alaskan bush and determined not to be found. For the next two years he lives the life of a vagabond, working a few odd jobs, kayaking through the Grand Canyon into Mexico, landing on L.A.’s Skid Row, and turning his back on everyone who tried to befriends him (including Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker as two kindly, middle-aged hippies and Hal Holbrook in a deeply affecting performance as an old widower who tries to take “Alex” under his wing). Penn, who directed and wrote the screenplay, alternates these interludes with scenes depicting McCandless’ Alaskan idyll–which soon turns out be not so idyllic after all. Settling into an abandoned school bus, he manages to sustain himself for a while, shooting small game (and one very large moose), reading, and recording his existential musings on paper. But when the harsh realities of life in the wilderness set in, our boy finds himself well out of his depth, not just ill-prepared for the rigors of day to day survival but realizing the importance of the very thing he wanted to escape–namely, human relationships. It’d be easy to either idealize McCandless as a genuinely free spirit, unencumbered by the societal strictures that tie the rest of us down, or else dismiss him as a hopelessly callow naïf, a fool whose disdain for practical realities ultimately doomed him. Into the Wild does neither, for the most part telling the tale with an admirable lack of cheap sentiment and leaving us to decide for ourselves. –Sam Graham

This movie is a grand adventure, and a cautionary tale to any ararcho-primitivist or survivalist who decides that they can do without all human relationships.

Toby Hemenway’s “Gaia’s Garden”

This is the “accessible” guide to Permaculture—a word you’re going to hear a lot of for the next century as resources get more expensive. I call it accessible because the other texts available are not perhaps as well organized for the person just starting out their understanding of these systems. We were cursed with oil, and in the “Green Revolution” we used it for everything in industrial food production: fertilizer, pesticides and automation for planting, spraying and harvesting. Permaculture shows a way to produce food for yourself, your family and your future generations of family without causing more damage to the biosphere’s climate and diversity.

Derrick Jensen’s “Now This War Has Two Sides”

This is two hours long. It’s a lot of talking. You’ll need to listen to it a few times to catch all the nuances. You’ll be able to listen to it over and over again. What is it? It’s Derrick Jensen talking about his premises that civilization is unsustainable and how it’ll never change itself voluntarily. It’s humorous, depressing and hopeful, and I think you’ll enjoy it. For $18 or so, you can download it from Amazon in minutes, what you hear in it will change the way you look at civilization forever.

Edward Burtynsky’s “Manufactured Landscapes”

Are you buying anything Made in China simply because it’s cheaper? This movie may make you rethink what effect that’s been having on the planet. In short, to maximize profit, your jobs are sent overseas where millions of people slave for long hours as meat robots (mӕtbots). Check out Manufactured Landscapes and see the new wastelands we create as we externalize the damages of our consumption at the same time we allow our jobs to be disappeared.