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Why Vegetarianism Will Not Save the World

by Dr. Mercola
Mercola.com
September 28, 2011

Many vegans and vegetarians choose not to eat meat and/or animal products because they believe it is the morally superior, environmentally friendly choice. But this theory is being put to the test by the book The Vegetarian Myth, written by ex-vegan Lierre Keith.

In it she argues that saving the planet and ending the suffering found in factory farms can not be achieved by refusing to eat animals, it can only be achieved by boycotting modern agricultural practices, which Keith calls "the most destructive thing that people have done to the planet."

Have Vegans and Vegetarians Been Led Astray?

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a report in 2006 titled Livestock's Role in Climate Change and Air Pollution. In it, they estimated that 18 percent of the world's man-made greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by livestock. This information was heralded by vegetarians and environmentalists alike as proof that eating meat was bad not only for you, but for the entire planet.

But, it's important to realize that this detrimental effect comes from modern farming practices, not from cows being raised naturally as they were designed to be. The differences between the two are so vast, you're really talking about two different animals, and two separate industries with entirely different farming practices and environmental impact.

Keith states: 'the first mistake is in assuming that factory farming—a practice that is barely fifty years old—is the only way to raise animals. Their [vegetarians'] calculations on energy used, calories consumed, humans unfed, are all based on the notion that animals eat grain.


You can feed grain to animals, but it is not the diet for which they were designed. Grain didn't exist until humans domesticated annual grasses, at most 12,000 years ago, while aurochs, the wild progenitors of the domestic cow, were around for two million years before that. For most of human history, browsers and grazers haven't been in competition with humans. They ate what we couldn't eat—cellulose—and turned it into what we could—protein and fat. Grain will dramatically increase the growth rate of beef cattle (there's a reason for the expression "cornfed") and the milk production of dairy cows. It will also kill them.

The delicate bacterial balance of a cow's rumen will go acid and turn septic. Chickens get fatty liver disease if fed grain exclusively, and they don't need any grain to survive. Sheep and goats, also ruminants, should really never touch the stuff."

The carbon footprint of conventional farming is mainly due to the unnatural feed that these animals are given, which requires lots of fossil fuels. Many don't think about this, but fossil fuels are used in everything from the fertilizers and pesticides that are sprayed onto the crop to the transportation of the feed.

Grass does not require fossil fuels to grow (rotating pastures does the job instead), and other health-harming practices, such as injecting the livestock with hormones and antibiotics, are also not allowed in organic farming. What it boils down to is this: it's easy to argue against factory-farms and other products of the corrupted agricultural system, but the argument becomes much more muddled, incorrect even, when you try to apply it to farming in the traditional sense of the word.

Is Modern Agriculture the Ultimate Animal Abuse?

There are those vegetarians and vegans who are morally opposed to killing animals for food, which appears to be one of the  more regularly used arguments for adopting this lifestyle. However, Keith makes an interesting point, which is that any food that is the product of modern-day farming—even a soy burger—is exacting a toll on life itself, including that of animals.

Keith writes: "Specifically, agriculture is biotic cleansing. It requires taking over entire living communities and clearing them away, then planting the land for just humans. All of that is a long way of saying "extinction." None of us can live without a place to live, without habitat. An activity that has destroyed 98 percent of most animals' habitat can hardly be claimed to be animal-friendly."


And as for the environment, modern-day agriculture—not just the factory farms but also the monocultures of genetically modified corn and soy—is one of the biggest enemies out there, pilfering the land and its resources. But we sit back and accept it because, after all, it's where we get our food. But there is nothing sustainable about vegetarian foods that come from this agricultural system.

As Keith expands: "You take a piece of land and you clear every living thing off it–and I mean down to the bacteria. That's what agriculture is . . Besides the mass extinction, it's inherently unsustainable. When you remove the perennial polyculture—the grassland or the forest—the soil is exposed and it dies. It turns to desert ultimately.


Northern Africa once fed the Roman Empire. Iraq was forests so thick that sunlight never touched the ground—no one in their right mind would call it the "Fertile Crescent" now. The dust storms in China are so bad that the soil is literally blowing across the Pacific Ocean and over the continent until it hits the Rocky Mountains, where it's causing asthma in children in Denver.

The planet has been skinned alive. And the only reason we have not hit complete collapse is because we've been eating fossil fuel since 1950. This is not a plan with a future . . . The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won't save us. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems."

What about the Health Effects? Is Being Vegan or Vegetarian Healthy?


Like many, I tried a mostly vegetarian diet in the mid-80's (based on the theories presented in Fit for Life) because I thought it would improve my health.

Unfortunately it didn't.

After a few weeks of eating fruit for breakfast, as the book advised, I was stunned to discover my fasting triglycerides had skyrocketed from below 100 to nearly 3,000! Clearly this diet was NOT right for me and was rapidly causing damage to my body. So, I had to reevaluate.

From a clinical standpoint, I believe virtually everyone benefits from some animal protein. This doesn't have to be meat, necessarily, as there are other healthy animal proteins like raw organic dairy and organic free-range eggs. The evidence suggests that raw organic milk is actually one of the healthiest options as it has the highest biologic value and utilization of any protein.

Many who hold strict vegetarian views still hold up The China Study as the authoritative "proof" that eating meat is harmful. In case you're not familiar with it, this book makes a radical case against eating animal protein at all, by linking it to all manner of ill health, including cancer.

However, it's important to realize two things:

    1. The China study was an observational study. Correlations deduced from an observational study do not—in fact, cannot—prove causation. All you can really do with data from an observational study is form a hypothesis, which must then be tested in randomized, controlled trials, to ferret out the truth about whether or not x actually causes y.

    2. In many cases, the data (presented in arduous detail in the book Diet, Life-Style and Mortality in China) do not show statistically significant correlations between animal protein consumption and disease such as cancer at all. On the contrary, it would seem that sugar and carbohydrates are correlated with cancer—not animal protein. In addition, the data indicate that fat is negatively correlated with cancer mortality, which again contradicts the claim that meat is harmful.

Another interesting take on whether or not people are meant to eat meat is the Paelo Diet, which is based upon scientific research examining the types and quantities of foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. During the Paleolithic period, which spans to 12,000 years ago, people ate primarily vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat, so the foundation of the Paleo Diet is lean meat, including ostrich and bison as well as organ meats, seafood, fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables—from as close to naturally raised sources as possible.

If you are sincerely objective and honest in seeking to understand what diet is best for you it will be important to trust your body to guide you. It is my recommendation to abandon any previously held convictions you might have about food and instead carefully listen to your body as you experiment with different food ratios and including or excluding animal foods.

If Modern-Day Agriculture Doesn't Work, What Does?

All of the "advances" that modern agriculture has given us have essentially created a food system that is completely unsustainable and dependent on monoculture, or growing very large fields of the same crop. The U.S. government has encouraged this system by subsidizing only certain crops like corn, wheat, rice and soy, while making it much less desirable for farmers to grow vegetables like broccoli or Swiss chard.
While monoculture is efficient and excellent for increasing production, it also depletes the soil and is extremely vulnerable to pests. The only way that monoculture can be successful, in fact, is with the application of large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The end result is cheap calories, and lots of them, but largely in the form of genetically modified corn and soy, and loaded with chemical residues. This, in turn, is fueling a growing number of health epidemics, from obesity and type 2 diabetes to cancer and heart disease. Quite simply, producing food on a massive scale at the lowest price possible has taken precedence over obeying natural laws.

So, in terms of sustainability and saving the world, the real "battle" that needs to be fought is not one of meat-eaters vs. vegetarians, it's one of agriculture as an industry vs. agriculture the way nature intended.

Please understand that industrial agriculture lobbyists wield incredible power in Congress; however they cannot dictate which food you choose to buy for your family. So please do your health and the environment a favor and support the small family farms in your area who are embracing the environment, not destroying it.

If you can, look for farms that use permaculture.

The word itself comes from "permanent agriculture" and "permanent culture," and at its foundation is developing agricultural and other systems that are interconnected and dependent on one another. In other words, they mimic the natural ecologies found in nature. The focus is not on any one element of the system, rather the focus is on the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat —and how to use these relationships to create synergistic, self-supporting ecosystems.

On a small-scale version, if you compost your food waste and use it to fertilize your own vegetable patch, you are engaging in permaculture. On a wide scale, small farmers are increasingly allowing animals to live in their natural habitats, eating their natural diets, thereby raising healthier foods and dramatically reducing their footprint on the environment.

So, whenever possible, support your own health and the livelihood of the farmers out there who are trying to do things the right way. Here are two excellent resources you can use to find them:

    •    Local Harvest
    •    USDA listing of Farmers Markets

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When Miners March: A Review

when miners marchby Theresa L. Burriss

Appalachian Heritage
Summer 2011

The recording and telling of history have proven to be troublesome for the critically-minded as inconsistencies, innocent mistakes, and downright lies plague much of what readers are given as purported fact. Of course as many realize, the “winners” or those in power have traditionally written history and delivered it in a neat, seemingly indisputable package. Fortunately, honest historians do exist and attempt to convey more accurate pictures of historical events, often working from a grassroots or “in the trenches” perspective that provides room for the typically forgotten or intentionally overlooked players.

William C. Blizzard offers readers just such a retelling of history that gets at the truth of the labor struggles leading up to the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia. His work, When Miners March, first titled Struggle and Lose…Struggle and Win!, is well-researched and documented, offering court transcripts, newspaper articles, letters and written testimony from key players in the coalminers’ efforts to unionize West Virginia. The acquisition of the primary documents is due to William C. Blizzard’s familial association with the labor fight, namely his father Bill Blizzard’s role as a union organizer beginning as early as the Paint and Cabin Creek skirmishes in 1912-13.

Offering a comprehensive history of coal in West Virginia, Blizzard starts his work in 1817 with the discovery of coal in the Kanawha Valley and then methodically moves forward, documenting the trials and tribulations of the miners in a year-by-year timeline. He even offers an historical interlude with primary accounts of the Ludlow, Colorado, massacre, where women and children, in addition to miners, were killed indiscriminately. With Blizzard’s meticulous attention to detail, readers come to appreciate the decade’s long oppression exerted by the coal companies and understand how many local law enforcement agencies did the dirty bidding of those companies because they were paid handsomely to do so. Sheriff Don Chafin of Logan County is the most cited due to his ongoing ruthless oppression and often times outright murder of miners and their families. Even West Virginia’s governors were not above bribery and openly worked to suppress the miners through policy and legislation, both at the state and federal levels, more often than not resorting to lies about the miners and their tactics to justify such suppression.

In the telling Blizzard also disputes many formerly accepted “truths” about the labor movement. For example, several other historians have placed C. Frank Keeney, UMWA District 17 President, and Fred Mooney, District 17 Secretary-Treasurer, in the middle of the Battle of Blair Mountain, leading the charge instead of Bill Blizzard, Sr. As son William Blizzard documents, however, the two union leaders were far removed from the site because of fears that they would fall to the same fate as Sid Hatfield and Ed Chambers, who’d been murdered in broad daylight by Baldwin-Felts “detectives” or gun thugs on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse. No one was ever brought to trial over these murders. William Petry, a UMWA organizer, explains, “Keeney and Mooney disappeared. Where they are I don’t know, but I’m assured they are safe from the hired gunmen at present” (308).

I must say that it helps to have a general understanding of the history of coal and labor in Appalachia before diving into this work. In fact, when teaching this work in college classes, I found my students responded to it much better after they read Denise Giardina’s historical fiction on the subject, Storming Heaven, and Diane Gilliam’s poetry companion, Kettle Bottom. The novel and poetry provided an entrée into the grittier details of When Miners March. My students noted that it’s easy to get lost in the dates and lose track of the names without having a previous understanding, and even so, they needed to process everything in class to fully grasp the import of Blizzard’s work. The history made a lasting impression on my students, however, when they visited many of the sites where the miners fought, set up tent colonies, and were buried. This experiential fieldtrip offered a holistic education for my students and I highly recommend it to fellow educators. Indeed, Blizzard’s work came to life as the students made connections between all those historical details and the tangible evidence before them.

For the scholar and labor historian, When Miners March provides incredible insight into one of the most tumultuous times in our nation’s labor history. For anyone who participates in any kind of labor force, the work illustrates how much we owe to the coalminers of Appalachia who lived, and often times died, to secure basic freedoms and rights for all workers in the United States.

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Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture

Truthby John Duerk
Political Media Review
October 21, 2011

Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture, is an important collection of in-depth interviews that prolific author Derrick Jensen conducted with a handful of radical thinkers you should become more familiar with if you’re not already.  All of the “conversations” enlightened me and a number of them prompted me to reconsider what I know about some of the complex subjects that are discussed.

Undoubtedly, the issues and ideas examined within (and across) these interviews are vast.  They range from the effects of violence depicted on television (George Gerbner) and why young urban kids join gangs (Luis Rodriguez) to how we process traumatic experiences as part of the human condition (Judith Herman) and the consequences of objectifying women in pornography (Jane Caputi).  I also found myself fascinated by the interview with Paul Staments who explains the importance of fungi to our environment.

Jensen asks many thoughtful, pointed questions
some of which probe his interviewee’s about their own writing.  Yes, he has done his homework and this is evident throughout.  For example, Jensen pulls a direct quote from Luis Rodriguez’s autobiography to open that interview (77), and then asks a good follow-up question to further explore the marginalization that people have experienced in our society (78).  This kind of approach brings a certain focus by diving into some of the most pressing issues that are central to the reason why Jensen chose to speak with these individuals in the first place.

If I have any criticism, I would say that Jensen should have sought more of a balance between the number of men and women represented here.  I believe that sex and gender inform perspective because the world is socially constructed, and therefore incorporating additional female voices would have strengthened this work.

Also, I have mixed feelings about Jensen divulging his own personal views and stories.  While it is revealing to share details about your own life (such as when he mentions how he associated abuse with water skiing on page 134) and it might build rapport with someone, doing so shifts attention away from the person you’re speaking with.  Furthermore, it has the potential to disrupt the flow of the interview because you never know how someone will respond and you don’t want to influence what he or she has to say.

If there is any word that immediately comes to mind when reflecting on this book, it has to be “possibility” because the content of each interview reminds me that there are always people in the world who are thinking on levels that most others aren’t.  We can’t lose sight of that.  The mere discussion of these issues and ideas means there will always be the chance they can one day spread so as to help transform the way we live.  Yes, Derrick Jensen has accomplished his goal of piecing together some very provocative interviews that will stimulate thought the way I imagine he intended them to.

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Organizing Cools the Planet: A Review on Znet

by Brian Tokar
Znet
October 15, 2011

How do we develop a genuine movement for Climate Justice in the U.S.? Nearly everyone agrees that community-based environmental justice groups – mainly rooted in communities of color – should be in the lead, but this has presented a host of problems in practice. Environmental justice groups are chronically under-resourced, and activists of color can cite numerous experiences to explain their caution toward working in racially-mixed groups. There is wide agreement that more conventional climate activism is often politically shallow, and that a more systemic critique of the roots of the climate crisis is urgently needed. However, we have yet to see the kind of movement in the US that has united people around the world to raise radical, justice-centered demands to confront accelerating global climate disruptions.

Some of the most inspiring efforts to bridge the divides and develop models of real solidarity in climate justice organizing have emerged from a relatively loose alliance known as the Mobilization for Climate Justice West. In the lead-up to the 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen, MCJ-West organized frequent mass actions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many were organized in partnership with the East Bay community of Richmond, the home of one of Chevron’s biggest oil refineries and a host of other toxic industrial facilities. Large, diverse actions at the gates of the Richmond refinery demonstrated region-wide support for local residents, and helped celebrate their recent court victory against Chevron’s plans to expand the facility.

Still, the steady outpouring of people into the streets of both Richmond and San Francisco left many organizers exhausted, and ultimately frayed the bonds of solidarity that had been so carefully nurtured. After Copenhagen, MCJ-West organizers pulled back, restructured their organization, and recommitted themselves to strengthening their working relationships with community-based environmental justice groups throughout the Bay Area. To outsiders, what was most apparent was that there were no longer such frequent mass actions against the corporations that profit from the climate crisis. Behind the scenes, however, there emerged one of the most original and inspired approaches to genuine alliance building—and sustaining activists for the long haul—that has been seen in more than a generation.

Hilary Moore and Joshua Kahn-Russell’s new booklet, Organizing Cools the Planet, recounts those experiences, and offers some of the most engaged and original thinking about the dynamics of social movement organizing that we have seen in a long time. It urges all of us to reach beyond the limitations of often-insular activist networks and create genuinely collaborative relationships across barriers of age, race and class.

In an insightful, but also very accessible and conversational manner, the authors challenge our understanding of alliance-building, collaboration, and our accountability to the communities most affected by environmental problems. They urge us to act, not out of guilt or ideological fervor, but out of genuine solidarity and engaged relationships of trust, and offer numerous helpful tools to encourage our thinking and activist praxis toward that goal. In a short 60 pages, they describe their own experiences, and present a wealth of new organizing theory, much of it developed in collaboration with Bay Area groups such as Movement Generation and the Ruckus Society.

Organizing Cools the Planet urges us to take home some of the most practical, creative, and up-to-date lessons about the ongoing development of social movements, and helps us begin to feel just how these ideas can transform the ways we work and the way we live. The authors challenge and inspire us to be better people, confront our deepest challenges as activists, and also learn to take better care of ourselves. As people around the world are rising up against the elites that have sold out our future, it could not be more timely.

Brian Tokar is the director of the Vermont-based Institute for Social Ecology and the author of Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change (New Compass Press, distributed by AK Press, 2010). His other books include Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal, co-edited with Fred Magdoff (Monthly Review Press, 2010).

Buy book now | Download e-book now | Back to Hilary Moore's Author page
                                                          Back to Joshua Kahn Russell's Author Page




Found In Translation Imprint


logoFound in Translation is the finest way to experience the abundance of riches outside of the English language. 

Found in Translation

 

 

Purchasing Links

Lonely Hearts Killer
Author: Tomoyuki Hoshino
Publisher: PM Press/Found in Translation
ISBN: 978-1-60486-084-9
Published November 2009
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 232 Pages
Subjects: Fiction
$15.95

What happens when a popular and young emperor suddenly dies, and the only person available to succeed him is his sister?  How can people in an island country survive as climate change and martial law are eroding more and more opportunities for local sustainability and mutual aid?  And what can be done to challenge the rise of a new authoritarian political leadership at a time when the general public is obsessed with fears related to personal and national “security”? These and other provocative questions provide the backdrop for this powerhouse novel about young adults embroiled in what appear to be more private matters – friendships, sex, a love suicide, and struggles to cope with grief and work.

Praise:


“A major novel by Tomoyuki Hoshino, one of the most compelling and challenging writers in Japan today, Lonely Hearts Killer deftly weaves a path between geopolitical events and individual experience, forcing a personal confrontation with the political brutality of the postmodern era. Adrienne Hurley's brilliant translation captures the nuance and wit of Hoshino's exploration of depths that rise to the surface in the violent acts of contemporary youth.”
— Thomas LaMarre, William Dawson Professor of East Asian Studies, McGill University

“Since his debut, Hoshino has used as the core of his writing a unique sense of the unreality of things, allowing him to illuminate otherwise hidden realities within Japanese society. And as he continues to write from this tricky position, it goes without saying that he produces work upon work of extraordinary beauty and power.”
—Yuko Tsushima, Award-winning Japanese Novelist

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Tomoyuki Hoshin's Author Page

Calling All Heroes: A Manual for Taking Power
Author: Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Translated by Gregory Nipper
Publisher: PM Press
Published: July 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60486-205-8
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 128
Dimensions: 5 by 8
Subjects: Fiction, Latin America
$12.00

The euphoric idealism of grassroots reform and the tragic reality of revolutionary failure are at the center of this speculative novel that opens with a real historical event. On October 2, 1968, 10 days before the Summer Olympics in Mexico, the Mexican government responds to a student demonstration in Tlatelolco by firing into the crowd, killing more than 200 students and civilians and wounding hundreds more. The massacre of Tlatelolco was erased from the official record as easily as authorities washing the blood from the streets, and no one was ever held accountable.

It is two years later and Nestor, a journalist and participant in the fateful events, lies recovering in the hospital from a knife wound. His fevered imagination leads him in the collection of facts and memories of the movement and its assassination in the company of figures from his childhood. Nestor calls on the heroes of his youth--Sherlock Holmes, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and D'Artagnan among them--to join him in launching a new reform movement conceived by his intensely active imagination.

Reviews:

"Taibo's writing is witty, provocative, finely nuanced and well worth the challenge." --Publishers Weekly

“I am his number one fan…I can always lose myself in one of his novels because of their intelligence and humor. My secret wish is to become one of the characters in his fiction, all of them drawn from the wit and wisdom of popular imagination. Yet make no mistake, Paco Taibo—sociologist and historian—is recovering the political history of Mexico to offer a vital, compelling vision of our reality.” --Laura Esquivel, author of Like Water for Chocolate

“The real enchantment of Mr. Taibo’s storytelling lies in the wild and melancholy tangle of life he sees everywhere.” --New York Times Book Review

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We, the Children of Cats
Author: Tomoyuki Hoshino
Translated by: Brian Bergstrom & Lucy Fraser
Publisher: PM Press/Found in Translation
ISBN: 978-1-60486-591-2
Published August 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 320 Pages
Subjects: Fiction/Literary Collection

$20.00

A man and woman find their genders and sexualities brought radically into question when their bodies sprout new parts, seemingly out of thin air…. A man travels from Japan to Latin America in search of revolutionary purpose and finds much more than he bargains for…. A journalist investigates a poisoning at an elementary school and gets lost in an underworld of buried crimes, secret societies, and haunted forests…. Two young killers, exiled from Japan, find a new beginning as resistance fighters in Peru….

These are but a few of the stories told in We, the Children of Cats, a new collection of provocative early works by Tomoyuki Hoshino, winner of the 2011 Kenzaburo Oe Award in Literature and author of the powerhouse novel Lonely Hearts Killer (PM Press, 2009). Drawing on sources as diverse as Borges, Nabokov, Garcia-Marquez, Kenji Nakagami and traditional Japanese folklore, Hoshino creates a challenging, slyly subversive literary world all his own. By turns teasing and terrifying, laconic and luminous, the stories in this anthology demonstrate Hoshino’s view of literature as “an art that wavers, like a heat shimmer, between joy at the prospect of becoming something else and despair at knowing that such a transformation is ultimately impossible…a novel’s words trace the pattern of scars left by the struggle between these two feelings.” Blending an uncompromising ethical vision with exuberant, free-wheeling imagery and bracing formal experimentation, the five short stories and three novellas included in We, the Children of Cats show the full range and force of Hoshino’s imagination; the anthology also includes an afterword by translator and editor Brian Bergstrom and a new preface by Hoshino himself.

Praise:


“The loosely linked stories collected in We, the Children of Cats home in on everyday events of millennial Japan only to slowly pan out onto alternate realities—voyages, crimes of passion, cultural histories of treason, sudden quarrels and equally sudden truces. Bergstrom and Fraser’s translations brilliantly capture the emotional tones and shape-shifting nature of Hoshino's language. These stories explore the longing to be somewhere, sometime, or even someone else so strongly that reality itself is, before you know it, transfigured.” 
—Anne McKnight, Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at UCLA, author of Nakagami, Japan: Buraku and the Writing of Ethnicity

“I see [in Hoshino] an ability to truly think through fiction that recalls Kobo Abe.  This superlative ability makes even the most fantastical details and developments read as perfectly natural.” 
—Kenzaburō Oe, Nobel Prize winning author of Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids and Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Tomoyuki Hoshin's Author Page




Spectacular Fiction Imprint


logoFrom science to speculation and beyond — Spectacular Fiction! offers the best stimulating writing for this world...and all the others.




1. TVA Baby — Terry Bisson
2. Fire on the Mountain — Terry Bisson
3. Sensation — Nick Mamatas

TVA Baby
Author: Terry Bisson
Publisher: PM Press (Spectacular Fiction Series)
ISBN: 978-1-60486-405-2
Published April 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 192 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction, Short Stories
$14.95

Beginning with a harrowing, high-speed ride through the Upper South (a TVA baby is a good ol’ boy with a Yankee father and a 12-gauge) and ending in a desperate search through New Orleans graveyards for Darwin’s doomsday machine ("Charlie’s Angels"), Terry Bisson’s newest collection of short stories covers all the territory between—from his droll faux-FAQ’s done for Britain’s Science magazine, to the most seductive of his Playboy fantasies ("Private Eye"), to an eerie dreamlike evocation of the 9/11 that might have been ("A Perfect Day"). On the way we meet up with Somali Pirates, a perfect-crime appliance (via Paypal) and a visitor from Atlantis who just wants a burger with fries, please.
 
Readers who like cigarettes, lost continents, cars, lingerie, or the Future will be delighted. For those who don’t, there’s always Reality TV.

Praise:

"Bisson's work is a fresh, imaginative attempt to confront some of the problems of our time. It is the Bissons of the field upon whom the future if science fiction depends.”Washington Post Book World

“With his sharp accuracy and sharp humor, he seems to me the Mark Twain of science fiction." —Kim Stanley Robinson

“Terry Bisson is one of the sharpest short story writers in science fiction today.” Sacramento Book Review

Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Read reviews | Terry Bisson's Page

Fire on the Mountain
Published: Oct. 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60486-087-0
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 208
Dimensions: 8 by 5
Subjects: Fiction

$15.95

It’s 1959 in socialist Virginia. The Deep South is an independent Black nation called Nova Africa. The second Mars expedition is about to touch down on the red planet. And a pregnant scientist is climbing the Blue Ridge in search of her great-great grandfather, a teenage slave who fought with John Brown and Harriet Tubman’s guerrilla army.

Long unavailable in the US, published in France as Nova Africa, Fire on the Mountain is the story of what might have happened if John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry had succeeded—and the Civil War had been started not by the slave owners but the abolitionists.

 Praise:

"History revisioned, turned inside out ... Bisson's wild and wonderful imagination has taken some strange turns to  arrive at such a destination."
--Madison Smartt Bell, Anisfield-Wolf Award winner and author of Devil's Dream.

“You don’t forget Bisson’s characters, even well after you’ve finished his books. His Fire on the Mountain does for the Civil War what Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle did for World War Two.”
--George Alec Effinger, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for Shrödinger’s Kitten, and author of the Marîd Audran trilogy.

“McKinley Cantor and Ward Moore move over! The South has risen again--this time as a brilliantly illuminated black utopia. Terry Bisson’s novel touched my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and kept me thinking about it for days after finishing the book. It’s an astonishing feat of rewriting history into something truly wonderful.”
--Edward Bryant, co-author of Phoenix Without Ashes and winner of two Nebula awards for short stories Stone, and gIANTS.

“Few works have moved me as deeply, as thoroughly, as Terry Bisson’s Fire On The Mountain… With this single poignant story, Bisson molds a world as sweet as banana cream pies, and as briny as hot tears."
--Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row prisoner and author of Live From Death Row, from the Introduction.

Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Read reviews | Terry Bisson's Page

 

Sensation
Author: Nick Mamatas
Publisher: PM Press (Spectacular Fiction Series)
ISBN: 978-1-60486-354-3
Published May 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Length: 208 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction
$14.95

Love. Politics. Parasitic manipulation. Julia Hernandez left her husband, shot a real-estate developer out to gentrify Brooklyn, and then vanished without a trace. Well, perhaps one or two traces were left... With different personal and consumption habits, Julia has slipped out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place between the cracks of our existence from which human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasp and a collective of hyperintelligent spider. When Julia's ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn't usually patronize, he's drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures and Internet organizing looking to overthrow a ruling class it knows nothing about—and Julia is the new media sensation of both this world and the Simulacrum.

Told ultimately from the collective point of view of another species, Sensation plays with the elements of the Simulacrum we all already live in: media reports, businessspeak, blog entries, text messages, psychological evaluation forms, and the always fraught and kindly lies lovers tell one another.

Praise:

“Nick Mamatas continues his reign as the sharpest, funniest, most insightful and political purveyor of post-pulp pleasures going. He is the People's Commissar of Awesome.”—China Miéville, award-winning author of Kraken and The City and the City

"Nick Mamatas’ brilliant comic novel, Sensation, reads like an incantation that both vilifies and celebrates the complex absurdity of the modern world."—Lucius Shepard, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

"The Majestic Plural, or Royal We, is well known—Sensation introduces the Arachnid Plural, the we of spiders, the ones that live inside you. The spiders care about you—deeply—and want to use you in a millennial war against certain parasitic wasps. No, I was wrong. The spiders only want to help. So let them in."—Zachary Mason, the New York Times best-selling author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Read Reviews | Nick Mamatas's Page




The Green Arcade Imprint


logoThe Green Arcade is a curated bookstore in San Francisco that represents challenging ideas and promotes the preservation and fostering of cultures and planet. The Green Arcade: Sustainability in all colors.


1. Low BiteSin Soracco
2. A Moment of Doubt — Jim Nisbet
3. Edge CitySin Soracco
4. Against Architecture — Franco La Cecla
5. Snitch World — Jim Nisbet

 

Low Bite
Author: Sin Soracco
Publisher: PM Press/The Green Arcade
ISBN: 978-1-60486-226-3
Published May 2010 (2nd edition)
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 144 Pages
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Fiction
$14.95

Low Bite: Sin Soracco’s prison novel about survival, dignity, friendship and insubordination. The view from inside a women’s prison isn’t a pretty one, and Morgan, the narrator, knows that as well as anyone. White, female, 26, convicted of night time breaking and entering with force, she works in the prison law library, giving legal counsel of more-or-mostly-less usefulness to other convicts. More useful is the hootch stash she keeps behind the law books.

And she has plenty of enemies--like Johnson, the lesbian-hating warden, and Alex, the “pretty little dude” lawyer who doesn’t like her free legal advice. Then there’s Rosalie and Birdeye--serious rustlers whose loyalty lasts about as long as their cigarettes hold out. And then there’s China: Latina, female, 22, holding US citizenship through marriage, convicted of conspiracy to commit murder--a dangerous woman who is safer in prison than she is on the streets. They’re all trying to get through without getting caught or going straight, but there’s just one catch--a bloodstained bank account that everybody wants, including some players on the outside.

Low Bite: an underground classic reprinted at last and the first title in the new imprint from The Green Arcade.

About the Author:

Sin Soracco, author of Edge City, lives mostly in the Mission District of San Francisco and along the outer edges of madness on the Lower Russian River in Sonoma Country, California.

Praise:

“Vicious, funny, cunning, ruthless, explicit...a tough original look at inside loves and larcenies.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“Tells a gripping story concerning a group of women in a California prison:  their crimes, their relationships, their hopes and dreams.”
--Publisher’s Weekly

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Sin Soracco's Page 

 
 
A Moment of Doubt
Author: Jim Nisbet
Publisher: Green Arcade / PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-307-9
Published: November 2010
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 144
Subjects: Fiction
$13.95

A Moment of Doubt is at turns hilarious, thrilling and obscene. Jim Nisbet’s novella is ripped from the zeitgeist of the 80s, and set in a sex-drenched San Francisco, where the computer becomes the protagonist’s co-conspirator and both writer and machine seem to threaten the written word itself.

The City as whore provides a backdrop oozing with drugs, poets and danger. Nisbet has written a mad-cap meditation on the angst of a writer caught in a world where the rent is due, new technology offers up illicit ways to produce the latest bestseller, and the detective and other characters of the imagination might just sidle up to the bar and buy you a drink in real life. The world of A Moment of Doubt is the world of phone sex, bars and bordellos, AIDS and the lure of hacking. Coming up against the rules of the game--the detective genre itself, has never been such a nasty and gender defying challenge.

Plus: An interview with Jim Nisbet, who is “Still too little read in the United States, it's a joy for us that Nisbet has been recognized here..." Regards: Le Mouvement des Idées

About the Author:

San Francisco writer Jim Nisbet has published eleven novels, including the acclaimed Lethal Injection. He has also published five volumes of poetry. His novel, Dark Companion, was shorted-listed for the 2006 Hammett Prize. Various of his works have been translated into French, German, Japanese, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, Russian and Romanian.  2010 could be named “The Year of Jim Nisbet” as, in addition to the PM/Green Arcade publication of A Moment of Doubt, Jim has a new hardcover, Windward Passage (winner of the San Francisco Book Festival 2010 Award for Best Science Fiction) from Overlook Press, along with two reprints, kicking off Overlook's reissue of Jim's entire backlist, beginning with the long out of print Lethal Injection, and, to finish off an amazing four-novel year, The Damned Don't Die

Praise:

"He is as weird as the world. And for some readers, that's a quality to cherish. It's as if Nisbet inhabited and wrote from a world right next to ours, only weirder."
--Rick Kleffel, bookotron.com

"Missing any book by Nisbet should be considered a crime in all 50 states and maybe against humanity.”
--Bill Ott, Booklist

 

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Jim Nisbit's Page 

 

Against Architecture
By Barry Graham
ISBN: 978-1-60486-451-9
Published July 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5.5
Page count: 172 Pages
Subjects: Fiction

$14.95

First published in 2008, (as Contro l’architettura), Against Architecture has been translated into French and Greek, with editions forthcoming in Polish and Portuguese. The book is a passionate and erudite charge against the celebrities of the current architectural world, the “archistars.” According to Franco La Cecla, architecture has lost its way and its true function, as the archistars use the cityscape to build their brand, putting their stamp on the built environment with no regard for the public good.

More than a diatribe against the trade for which he trained, Franco La Cecla issues a call to rethink urban space, to take our cities back from what he calls Casino Capitalism, which has left a string of failed urban projects, from the Sagrera of Barcelona to the expansion of Columbia University in New York City. He finds hope and some surprising answers in the 2006 uprisings in the Parisian suburbs and in wandering the streets of San Francisco. La Cecla recounts his peregrinations, whether as a consultant to urban planners or as an incorrigible flaneur, all the while giving insights into how we might find a way to resist the tyranny of the planners and find the spirit of place. As he comments throughout on the works of past and present masters of urban and landscape writing, including Robert Byron, Mike Davis, and Rebecca Solnit, Franco La Cecla has given us a book that will take an important place in our public discourse.

About the Author:

Born in Palermo in 1950, Franco La Cecla is a renowned anthropologist and architect. He has taught anthropology in many European and Italian cities such as Palermo, Venice, Verona, Paris, and Barcelona. In 2005 he founded the Architecture Social Impact Assessment, ASIA, an agency that evaluates the social impact of architectural and city planning projects. In addition he has created several documentaries, one of which, In Altro Mare (In Another Sea) won the Best Coastal Culture Film award at the 2010 San Francisco Ocean Film Festival. Franco La Cecla is currently in production with RAI television on a series based on Against Architecture.

Praise:

“To tell the truth, Franco La Cecla is not wrong. There is too much building, sometimes only to put a signature, a stamp on a spot, without any worry about the people who are going to live there. In other situations it is easy to be used by the institutions that support speculation. It is the reason why I refused many projects, because, I am lucky—and I can choose.”  —Renzo Piano in La Repubblica

“La Cecla's book is a delight, in the way that he dismantles the glory of the 'archistar' in their proud myopic grandeur that totally ignores people and their rights to a better urban life.”  —Sebastian Courtois, La Reforme

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Franco La Cecla's Page


Edge City
Author: Sin Soracco
Publisher: PM Press/Green Arcade
ISBN: 978-1-60486-503-5
Published May 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Page count: 240 Pages
Subjects: Fiction
$16.95

Edge City, from the author of Low Bite, takes place in an every-noir-city (a thinly veiled portrait of San Francisco’s North Beach) and its newest resident is Reno, an angry fledgling just hatched out of prison. Getting out is like a weird dream, and the streets of the City are a muddle of sensations pooling around her.
 
First there’s the bustle—everybody busy with mysterious businesses—an amplifying racket of choices. Staggering out onto the late night streets of the City, Reno ends up at the infamous Istanbul Club: dim lights, Arabic music and the sensual Su’ad dancing. Music, booze, babes and drugs: what more could a felonious girl want?

She encounters Huntington, the poisonous charmer who lives above the Club—perverse and powerful in the way only the wealthy can be. Eddie, the underage bartender, is happy to chemically enhance every waking moment. Slowmotion, the sound light technician, huge and darkly mysterious, has connections to people and places that Reno didn’t even know exist. Slowmotion’s elegant friend, Poppy, offers mental transport to realms beyond Xanadu; in her little valise there’s everything necessary for any trip, including the hallucinogenic “Teeth of Idi Amin.”

The owner of the club, handsome gambler Sinclair, hires Reno to waitress. Grumbling, drinking, snarling and swearing, Reno bangs her way through everyone else’s complicated plans, entangling herself in a byzantine labyrinth of betrayal, revenge, general mayhem, and yes, good times.

About the Author:

Sin Soracco, author of Edge City, lives mostly in the Mission District of San Francisco and along the outer edges of madness on the Lower Russian River in Sonoma Country, California.

Praise:

“Brilliant…Edge City is truly an extraordinary book in every way: story, people, atmosphere, writing.”
—Hubert Selby, Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn

“Sin Soracco cooks! Her writing is beyond hip—it struts and whistles down the last dark mile. Edge City, like her Low Bite, is the bad girl’s version of Mean Streets, an unbeatable double-feature for the fearless.”
—Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart

"Dark and sultry . . . an illuminating view of hell as a nightclub that never closes."
New York Times

Snitch World
Author: Jim Nisbet
Publisher: PM Press/Green Arcade
ISBN: 978-1-60486-681-0
Published January 2013
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 192 Pages
Subjects: Fiction
$14.95

“The Miata jumped the curb and sheared off a light pole. The impact deployed the airbags, but Chainbang was ready. He knifed Klinger’s before it was fully inflated and his own before it could crush the glass pipe in his breast pocket. The six-inch blade went through the nylon like a pit bull through a kindergarten.”

So, what kind of world is this Snitch World? In the new novel from noir master Jim Nisbet, it is actually made up of different worlds, some old and some new—with the old-time petty criminals like Chainbang and Klinger, but also with a nouveau femme fatale, whose tools of the criminal trade are from the new economy. Snitch World takes place in a San Francisco of menacing technology, where the old cons come up short and the crimes of the night turn into crimes done in the light of day—or from the glow of a smartphone.

Klinger hangs out at the Hawse Hole Bar and Grille, a pretty bad dive even by Tenderloin standards. All he really wants is enough to have a cup of coffee, buy some cigarettes, make it through the day, and find a warm, dry place to sleep. All accomplished by the next easy grift. Little does Klinger know that the rules of the game have changed, and the stakes are higher than he could ever guess, or even care about. The seemingly simple act of rolling a drunk begins a series of events that get stranger by the moment. Jim Nisbet, with his characteristic humor and brilliant prose, creates a world where to trust is to possibly sacrifice all.

This is Snitch World, where an IPO is as deadly as a night in the sack. Snitch World includes a recent interview with Jim Nisbet, in conversation with Patrick Marks, owner of The Green Arcade, talking about writing, publishing, and technology.

Praise:

""Missing any book by Nisbet should be considered a crime in all 50 states and maybe against humanity.”
—Bill Ott, Booklist

"Jim Nisbet is a poet…[who] resembles no other crime fiction writer. He mixes the irony of Dantesque situations with lyric narration, and achieves a luxuriant cocktail that truly leaves the reader breathless."
Drood's Review of Mysteries

"Jim Nisbet is a lot more than just good...powerful, provocative…Nisbet's style has overtones of Walker Percy's smooth southern satin, but his characters—losers, grifters, con men—hark back to the days of James M. Cain's twisted images of morality."
Toronto Globe-Mail

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Jim Nisbets's Page
 



Progress or Change? Cory Doctorow's The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

By Stefan Raets
Tor.com
November 1, 2011

When we meet Jimmy Yensid, the hero of Cory Doctorow’s new novella The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, he is aboard his giant mecha and hunting down a wumpus in the abandoned city of Detroit, until he comes under attack from a rival group of mechas. The resulting action scene is spectacular—and really made me want to dig out my ancient Mechwarrior games—but as you’d expect from Doctorow, there’s much more going on than meets the eye.


Jimmy is a transhuman boy, genetically engineered to be as close to immortal as you can get. The wumpuses are ravenous mechanical monsters who consume any non-organic matter they find and recycle it into arable soil. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s father is actually trying to preserve Detroit, the last standing city in the United States, as a historical artifact.


The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is the latest installment in the wonderful Outspoken Authors series by PM Press. In addition to the title novella, the book also contains the text of Cory’s “Creativity vs. Copyright” address to the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention, and a scintillating interview conducted by Terry Bisson. I don’t use the word “scintillating” very often: this really is an excellent, informative, fun conversation between two sparkling minds, and its inclusion adds considerable value to the book. The main course, however, is of course the grim but wonderful title novella.


The central theme Doctorow is playing with throughout The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is progress, or maybe more exactly, progress versus change. As Jimmy puts it:

[...] we didn’t have “progress” anymore. We’d outgrown progress. What we had was change. Things changed whenever anyone wanted to change them: design and launch a fleet of wumpuses, or figure out a way to put an emotional antenna in your head, or create a fleet of killer robots, or invent immortality, or gengineer your goats to give silk. Just do it. It’ll catch on, or it won’t. Maybe it’ll catch itself on. Then the world is... different. Then someone else changes it.


The world Jimmy lives in is a dystopian wasteland. Detroit is the last standing city. Jimmy and his dad live in the abandoned Comerica Park baseball stadium. One of their prized possessions is the lovingly restored Carousel of Progress exhibit from Disneyworld. In this future, technology has taken enormous strides, but the result isn’t a streamlined, high-tech world: all we see is an abandoned city, or a cult-like mini-society that monitors and equalizes everyone’s emotions, or a guerrilla movement in the wilderness trying to preserve its last vestiges of functioning technology from the ecological warfare of the rampant wumpuses.

In the world of The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, change doesn’t equal progress.


Likewise our hero Jimmy. His gengineered state causes him to age at an incredibly slow pace. Throughout several decades he stays stuck on the edge of prepubescence, struggling with his urges and dreams and hormonal drives. Much like the animatronic family in the Carousel of Progress, he’s frozen in time. The status quo slowly drives him crazy: he desperately wants to grow up, wants to find a “cure” for his immortality, but will growing up be an improvement? Peter Pan is actually being forced to remain a boy forever, and he wants to grow up. It’s Disney in reverse (notice Jimmy’s last name?) and coming from an author who’s written some excellent YA novels in recent years, it’s really a startling plot device.


The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
is filled with people and factions and groups who try to change the world for the better, often with horrific results, usually aiming for or resulting in a scary status quo that offers peace in the form of perpetual stagnation. Characters like Jimmy and his father struggle to maintain an identity in the constant onslaught of uniformity, whether it’s a cult that turns its members’ personalities into emotional mush or a machine that turns anything artificial into mulch. The title, which refers to a song on the Carousel of Progress soundtrack, has to be one of the most cynical lines in Doctorow’s bibliography. Even though much of this novella is an entertaining read, the end result is as grim as it gets for Doctorow. Don’t get me wrong: I loved The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow and recommend it wholeheartedly, but reading it is a sobering experience if you come into it expecting the exuberant techno-optimism often found in Cory’s fiction and non-fiction.


The only real complaint I have about this novella is simply that it’s, well, a novella. It’s just too short.

There’s more than enough material here for a full length novel. The story is divided in four sections, and the final two are considerably shorter than the first ones. This makes those last two chapters, especially the final one, feel like an extended epilogue, which is a shame because they contain some of the most startling ideas and revelations in the entire book. It’s always a good sign when you want any piece of fiction to be longer than it really is—if anything, it’s an indication that the signal-to-noise ratio is very high—but in this case the transitions between the chapters are a bit abrupt, and the story’s resolution feels almost rushed. I would have happily read another few hundred pages, filling in the gaps and expanding the story and the characters, but much like in the Carousel of Progress, there’s no filler between the brief flashes we’re shown of the characters’ lives.

For fans of Cory Doctorow, reading The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow will be a no-brainer. Grim as it is, it’s also as thought-provoking as anything he’s written. If you’re new to the author, start with the interview in the back of the book to get a taste of the fireworks factory that is Cory Doctorow’s mind, then read the novella for an example of why he’s a cultural force to be reckoned with, and finish up with the “Copyright vs. Creativity” speech to get a quick rundown of some of Cory’s core beliefs. This is a lovely little book in every respect, from its stylish design to its phenomenal content.

Buy book now | Download e-book now | Back to author page




Occupy Oakland KPFA Special Broadcast Audio

Letters and Politics - November 2, 2011 at 10:00am

Click to listen (or download)
 




What Would It Mean to Win? in Social Movement Studies Journal

By Bertie Russell
School of Geography, University of Leeds
Social Movement Studies Journal
April 2011

Published by PM Press in the latter half of 2010, What Would It Mean To Win? contains a provocative set of texts that compel us to ask questions of ourselves and of the movement which we are endlessly producing. The Turbulence Collective have previously produced four publications timed for distribution at moments of "movement visibility," such as the August 2008 UK Camp for Climate Action at Kingsnorth power station and the December 2009 COP15 protests in Denmark.

The stated aim of these publications is to provide a space "in which to think through, debate and articulate the political, social, economic and cultural theories of our movements, as well as the networks of diverse practices and alternatives that surround them" (see http://turbulence.org.uk/). Along with an unpublished interview with two members of the collective and a foreword by John Holloway, Turbulence’s most recent offering brings together two previous publications—What would it mean to win? and Move into the light?—originally published immediately before and after the 2007 anti-G8 protests in Heiligendamm. As such, What Would It Mean To Win? contains contributions from a wide range of participants from social movements in Europe, Latin America, and North America.

To ask why these texts have been republished three years later is to ask what has remained the same (and what is profoundly different) about the movements being critically explored. Far from an attempt to immortalize the texts, or to capture movement knowledge(s) within some abstract yet destructive academic assessment framework, the republication of these texts serves a reminder that we must constantly keep reassessing the efficacy of our politics. Rather than taking refuge in refrains—inhabiting a world of recognition—we must constantly look for those excesses that move us beyond the present. Indeed, it is precisely this ‘moving beyond the present’ that is constitutive of movement.

To read more, please check out Social Movement Studies Journal website or visit your local library.

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