February 27, 2019

Scientists Recommend Cutting Fossil Fuel Consumption Immediately

One way we explore places farther than our property line is by accessing web cams. This photo is a web cam screen shot of a sunrise on Digby Harbour, which is about a 24 km round trip by car from home. Being there in person is nice, but not without negative consequences for the health of the planet. I can ride my bike there, but it is a bit too far to push Linda in her wheelchair.
Since arriving in Nova Scotia in 2014 we haven't done much exploring in our van. 

In keeping with our "minimize driving" philosophy that we pioneered during our 9 years on the west coast, we usually only drive to pick up groceries, or attend the rare appointment. 

Why? Scientists have told us that continued use of fossil fuels endangers all life on Earth, and we are taking that message seriously. 

We are willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of all living things, many of which are faced with imminent extinction.

Another web cam we like to visit is at Belliveau Cove on St. Mary's Bay. It is about a 50 km round trip by car from home. This photo shows a sunset over the Maritime province of New Brunswick, which is on the other side of the Bay of Fundy. 

If the scientists are right, we are implementing the only logical solution, which is cut fossil fuel consumption now. If they are wrong, I guess we save a lot of money and create a cleaner world for nothing.

Either way, we don't worry. We are enjoying getting to know our immediate area well, since there is beauty to be found everywhere on this amazing planet. We are surrounded by it constantly, no matter where we are. 

Cutting out driving does not mean cutting out the enjoyment of place. You can explore your immediate location, whether by looking out the window, sauntering in the yard, or strolling around the neighbourhood. 

If you like to go farther afield, a bicycle is a great no-carbon mode of travel.

You really don't need to go anywhere to see beautiful things. The grass is plenty green right where you are, despite what car manufacturers and the travel industry want you to believe. 

The scientists might be wrong, but what if they are right? 

You can visit Nova Scotia web cams here.

February 25, 2019

Wanted: Alien Abduction

Finally! Abduction. Good-bye Earthlings.

When I read the news these days I find myself dreaming of being abducted by aliens. I would love it if a flying saucer would go all X-Files on me. 

I would be drawn up into their craft in a beam of light, then transported to a far away planet inhabited by a race of beings that lived lives that actually made sense. 

My new friends would be dedicated to reason, logic, and scientific inquiry. 

They would honour the planet they rely on for their sustenance, and treat her with full respect. The alien system would be non-hierarchical, and the accumulation of wealth by single individuals would be seen as the insanity that it is wherever it exists. 

Being intelligent beings, they would have a system based on the abundance of the Universe, as opposed to the scarcity that causes so much grief on our own dismal planet. 

There would be no money.

These aliens would be dedicated to the improvement of their species, and they would build on the knowledge that was hard gained by their ancestors to develop advancements for the good of all. 

No Dark Ages or neo-feudalism here.

All the alien beings would be equals, and they would not discount and denigrate the skills and abilities of 50% of their population based on what kind of genitals they possess.

Their newspapers would be full of news, not weaponized propaganda and outright lies.

Planet Alien would have clean air, land, and water, and anyone that fouled either one would be exiled to Earth where such activities are actively encouraged by eco-cidal maniacs.

They would be loving and compassionate, and they would cherish all little alien children enough to put aside individual greed and selfishness so as to ensure a livable planet in perpetuity.

So, I say to the aliens, wherever they may be, "Abduct me! Please. I won't try to run away, or hide under my bed. I am not afraid."

I would even allow some gentle probing, which would be an major upgrade from taking it up the rear from a bunch of billionaires and their bought and paid for politicians here on my birth planet.

Remember, The Truth is Out There. 

February 22, 2019

Deeply Subversive Documentaries

Gardening is a subversive activity.

I like the sound of anything deeply subversive. 

That is because I am on the side of underdogs, misfits, rebels, and radicals. I am all for freedom, living your passion and your truth, and doing so without hurting any other people or the planet.

If that makes me a subversive, then guilty as charged. I don't mind.

Therefore, today when I came across an Internet resource new to me, I was intrigued and thought I should share my serendipitous discovery.

What caught my attention was the title, "87 Deeply Subversive Documentaries That Challenge The Status Quo". That is totally in my lane.

If you are nurturing your inner rebel, this might be just what you are looking for in order to expand your ideas of what is possible when challenging existing power structures.

Convention, conformity, and state-induced apathy have brought us a global ugliness that we now must confront in order to turn things around. It can't hurt to have a little help from other subversives that might have some good ideas for building a better system. 

Many possible strategies can be found in resources like filmsforaction.org, and more specifically, in their collection of system-challenging documentaries, which can be found here.

My hope is that you can find something of use in this collection specifically, and at the website in general. I consider it to be a celebration of all the non-conforming, post-consumer, simple living, freedom loving rebel types, many of whom frequent my own deeply subversive website. 

The status quo is so, like, yesterday. Today we educate ourselves about alternatives easily and freely, and we are about to change everything. 

The subversives united, will never be divided. 


February 18, 2019

Population Control - Cash Payment For Childless Women At Menopause?

Over 100 years (between 1950 and 2050), the world’s population will have nearly quadrupled (from 2.5 billion to around 9.5 billion). How do we diffuse this population bomb? Or do we really need to?

When I was growing up there was a thing called the "Population Explosion". These days we don't hear too much about overpopulation, I assume because capitalist bosses want as many babies as can be cranked out. More consumers! 

It is not good for business to discourage the births of yet more victims, so full speed ahead. And don't forget, governments love having more tax slaves.

While some have encouraged voluntary efforts to cut family size, others have proposed more coercive methods, like China's One Child Policy (changed to a 2 child policy in 2016)

Cutting subsidies for having more children is another proposed way to reduce population growth. Another idea is paying childless women a bonus when they reach menopause. A one time payment of $50,000 dollars has been proposed by some researchers.

Now I see that Hungary is going the other direction - they are paying Hungarian women to have more babies, ostensibly in order to outpace Third World immigration. 

Any Hungarian mom that has 4 or more children will be exempted from paying income tax. For life. 

They can also apply for a $35,000 dollar loan which will be forgiven if the woman has more children. Interest-free loans will also be available for the family to buy a house and car. It seems outrageous, but it is possible that it may not work anyway.

Birth rates are already dropping in many countries. In parts of Europe and Asia, birth rates are below replacement levels. Germany, Japan, Russia, and Taiwan are a few examples of countries not having enough babies to keep the population stable, whether there is a "cash for babies" program or not.

Canada also has a "baby bonus", but it is intended to reduce child poverty, not stimulate birth rates.

So is there a population explosion, or not? Will we level off at around 8 billion, or will we see an increase, in a worst case scenario, all the way up to 26 billion? 

Some say it doesn't really matter, because we don't have a population problem - we have an overconsumption problem.

The more people on Earth, the less each of us has as our fair share of the resources available. That means as population goes up, all of us will need to live more and more simply.

When it comes down to it, neither big business nor governments will solve this issue. The power to do that lies with one group, and one group only - the women of the world. 

Women ultimately decide how many babies are born, because women are not simply "hosts", and they are not birthing pods. Increasingly, they are choosing to have fewer babies.

The rest of us can do our part by consuming less so that each baby born has enough for a good life, regardless of where it comes into the world.

Actually, we might be better off if we offered incentives to consume less. Imagine that happening!

February 14, 2019

Trapped In A Virtual World

Oliver Sacks, British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author, feared for the future before he died. 

He wasn't so much alarmed at what had come into being. Rather, he was shocked by how much was missing.

“Everything is public now, potentially: one’s thoughts, one’s photos, one’s movements, one’s purchases. 
There is no privacy and apparently little desire for it in a world devoted to non-stop use of social media.  
Every minute, every second, has to be spent with one’s device clutched in one’s hand. Those trapped in this virtual world are never alone, never able to concentrate and appreciate in their own way, silently.  
They have given up, to a great extent, the amenities and achievements of civilization: solitude and leisure, the sanction to be oneself, truly absorbed, whether in contemplating a work of art, a scientific theory, a sunset, or the face of one’s beloved.”
Oliver Sacks died in 2015. Before he passed he wrote, 

"I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself.

Sacks wouldn't have advised looking for such answers, such peace, in a mobile screen. 

We are trapped in a virtual world. I have doubts about it providing us with a "good and worthwhile life". 

February 13, 2019

Homemade Hummus, Baked Pita and Za'atar

A beautiful meal of homemade baked pita, hummus and za'atar spice.
Kalamata olives, dill pickles, and fresh tomato are nice additions.

Linda and I have made lots of homemade baked pita breads over the years. And we are big fans of making our own hummus. But we have never attempted to make our own za'atar spice before yesterday.

The only time I have tasted za'atar spice was when Linda smuggled some street bread out of Palestine, where she spent several seasons on an archaeological dig. One year, just before having to say good-bye to one of her favourite countries, she bought a couple of servings of street cart bread, just for me. 

Of course, the bread came with small folded newspaper envelopes full of za'atar spice, which was meant for the bread to be dipped. It was all she  could do to not eat it all on her flight home.

But she made it all the way back to Canada without enjoying this traditional mid-east treat. Lucky for me.

That was the first time I had ever experienced za'atar spice. I had never eaten anything like it before, or since, until we whipped some up to go with our baked pita and hummus yesterday.

Za'atar spice is used in many middle eastern regions, and can be enjoyed on a variety of dishes. While there is a standard recipe that includes sumac, many families have their own variations that are well guarded.

We decided to make what will surely become our own staple "not-so-secret" recipe. Naturally, we wanted to use only what we already had in the house, so as to not have to buy anything. 

Here is what we threw together (including rough measurements):

The NBA Za'atar Spice Blend

  • 1 tbsp savoury (we used summer savoury that we grew ourselves) 
  • 1 tbsp thyme 
  •  1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds 
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds 
  • 1 tsp salt 

After making our spice blend we wanted to try it right away. As soon as the first baked pita came out of the oven we ripped it open, sprinkled in our za'atar spice generously on the still steaming bread, and bit in. 

Holy middle eastern munchie magic, Breadman! Wow. 

So pleased we were with our spice melange, that we also sprinkled some on our hummus, with great results.

When Linda took her first bite she said that she was instantly transported back. 

"It reminds me", she said, "of the old city in Jerusalem - spicy, exotic, mysterious, and tasty, not to mention hot and dusty". 

"Every time I went there", she remembered, "this is what I had for breakfast. Fresh, warm bread, dipped in a small envelope of za'atar spice, and eaten out on the street next to the cart vendor I bought it from."

It sure was nice of her to bring me back a bit of cuisine from her travels, so many years ago. Now it is even nicer that we can experience a bit of the same right here in our own kitchen in Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Give it a try - it's a taste sensation. Since it is a very flexible recipe, use what you have in your spice drawer to make your own special blend.

February 11, 2019

Manipulative Marketing: Priming You To Buy More

Modern advertisers reach farther and farther into your brain, often without you knowing it.

I would be willing to guess that marketers know more about human motivations than anyone else. Trouble is, they are using this advanced knowledge against us. 

Neuroscientists captured by the marketing industry have gone deeper than ever into our brains, and getting you to consume automatically without thinking is the goal. 

Their tricks appeal to both your conscious and subconscious, so some you may be conscious of, while others remain hidden to your awareness. But knowing about these mind manipulations can help you mount an effective resistance. 

Retail outlets of Big Business all use subtle techniques to get you to buy things you don't need, or according to them, don't yet know you need. 

Let's look at some of the manipulative marketing tools that they use to influence consumer's thoughts and behaviors without conscious reflection or consideration.

1. Smellvertising - smells have a powerful effect on shoppers. Our sense of smell is wired directly to the limbic system, which is associated with memories and emotions, both of which are used against us to trigger subconscious cravings and desires. 

This happens quickly, and we are not even aware of the dopamine rush that leads us to anticipate making a product purchase. 

Some fast food joints blow synthetic burger smells through their vents to trigger memories of comfort food which will lead us to their counter with a serious craving. 

In one study smell researchers found that when a vanilla scent was released in a women's clothing store, sales increased by 50%.


 2. Product Placement - integrating products into movies, plays, video games and tv shows is increasing. At the same time it is becoming more subtle, or you could say, sneaky.

That is because research has shown that consumers are easier to persuade when they have not engaged their conscious decision making faculties. When you are watching something, then, your defences are down, and advertisers are ready to pounce. 

Viewers have no conscious recall of exposure to the products, but when they see them in stores, and other settings, the implicit memory is set loose, and a purchase often results. Note: The effect of product integration is so powerful that since a 1998 agreement, tobacco companies can no longer pay to have their products placed in any programming. 

 3. Packaging Colour - marketing experts believe that the product’s (or its packaging’s) color has a significant—if not the dominant— impact on purchase decisions. 

We can not look at all the information about every product or we would become overwhelmed. Therefore, we rely on snap judgments to help us make decisions quickly and efficiently. This helps us avoid cognitive overload, but opens us up to marketing manipulations, like the colour of a product package, or the colour theme of a store setting. 

Such manipulations affect decision-making by consumers, such as when they associate eco-friendly with the colour green and pictures of trees on packaging, whether the product is good for the environment or not. This association is often subconscious. 

You may have noticed that advertising is increasingly moving away from an informational approach. Very few ads give information about the product, because information can be refuted. What can you say about a bunch of junk that no one actually needs? 

In this case, they want you to bypass the rational mind. If advertisers can appeal to consumers subconsciously, and trigger powerful memory and emotional responses, people will be programmed to create attachments to products that often last for life. 

Eventually, the increased use—or misuse—of neuromarketing and sensory marketing research to influence consumers at a nonconscious level is likely to prompt calls for regulation. But then there is the fact that governments also use manipulative mind control techniques against their populations. 

Perhaps best, is for consumers (and citizens) to know what is going on, and how they are being manipulated to buy things (or ideas) they don't even know they want. Yet.

February 9, 2019

Individual Actions Matter Because Little Things Yield Big Results

A giant sequoia cone and seeds that I collected when we lived in the west coast 
rain forest. Canadian one dollar coin (Loonie) for scale.

Far too often I hear that there is no use what each of us does individually when it comes to tackling the big challenges currently facing us. Forget even trying to live simply and sustainably because it won't make a stitch of difference in making anything better.

I call BS on that.

How many times do we need to be reminded of how little things can yield big results? One more, perhaps, so here I go.

I do believe that all big things first germinated as little ones, as I believe that all the small efforts that we make as individuals can grow into something large and beautiful. 

I was reminded of this fact a few years ago when Linda and I where living in the temperate rain forest of Vancouver Island. Any time we went anywhere we would look for big trees, and there were many. 

The biggest were the giant sequoias. 

One summer day while walking in downtown Victoria, we paused in the shade of one such magnificent tree, and I noticed something I had never seen before - a giant sequoia cone. I took one home.

We were fascinated by how small the cone was, given that the tree it came from was massive. In their native land in the mountains of California, sequoias grow to become the largest trees on Earth. All from a little cone.

When we got home we put the cone on a table. The next morning we saw that a change had occurred overnight. When we brought the cone home it was a tight, smooth bark-like ball. Overnight it had opened up, and what had fallen out? A bunch of impossibly tiny seeds (and we thought the cone was small).

General Sherman Tree - largest tree in the world,
and it started with one of those little seeds.
It boggled the mind. In each of those teeny, tiny, teensy seeds was the potential to grow the largest tree on the planet. Such a tree could live to see 3000 years, and grow to the height of a 26 story building. 

In the beginning, it is all contained in a very small, seemingly insignificant seed.

I can hear the doubters telling an ambitious, but small, sequoia seed not to bother because nothing it could do could possibly amount to anything. 


Tell that to the General Sherman Tree, currently the official largest tree in existence anywhere in the known Universe.

How can we tell how our individual actions will impact the world around us? We can't. 

However, I am not about to let a bunch of downer doubters limit all the possibilities and potentialities down to one possible outcome, that being "nothing will change".

I am convinced that each of our decisions, actions and behaviours is a very little seed that has the potential to grow into something much, much larger. 

I believe that each little thing I do has limitless potential to grow into something huge, because little things yield big results all the time.

February 7, 2019

What I Need Is...

I need lots of things. Air, food, shelter, a creative outlet, and community are among them. As the author of a blog, what I also need, is you. Yes, you. 

A blog without readers is like a restaurant without eaters. In the blog world visitors are gold. Return visitors are platinum. And commenters are divine.

Of course we think that all NBA readers are simply heavenly.

One of the biggest affirmations I have received about the innate goodness of people has been from the readers of this blog. NBA readers are so very, very wonderful, and nothing else on the Internet makes us feel as good as reading comments and emails from readers.

Over the past 10 years readers have been sharing stories and experiences about what has happened to them after taking the red pill. 

"People," one reader observes, "are awakening to is the fact they've been duped into thinking needs and wants are the same thing..." 


Another sums up our simple living philosophy nicely. 

"Less time buying things I don't need means less time working to pay for them, means more time to appreciate life and the things I enjoy." 

That is it, because time is our most precious resource.

Readers also leave incredibly gracious comments that regale us with a humbling amount of praise for bringing our passion for the simple life to the blog world.

Yet another reader commented on one of our posts saying, 

"Thank you so much for writing about your and your wife's lifestyle giving the reader a convincing alternative and example of how it is possible to think and live."

As someone that enjoys writing, it does not get any better than people reading and being affected by your efforts. For me it represents the culmination of a life-long desire to create things that are both beautiful, and useful to others. 

Thank you for visiting, and for providing us with such a wonderful virtual community that is such a joy to host.

We need you. Any you. And you. And you.

February 4, 2019

Giving Is Good

You know you have arrived at a certain stage of humanity when you are mature enough to prefer giving to getting. That is because giving is good.

That it is better to give than receive is common wisdom. It is also commonly ignored, or disparaged during times of selfishness and greed. 

In spite of that, scientists are finding that generosity, giving and helping changes everything - it changes the giver, the receiver, and changes weak communities into ones that are strong. 

Giving our time and assistance to others can have health, as well as social, effects. The act of giving has been found to reduce mortality risk associated with depression and stress in the giver.

One study found that volunteerism provided similar health benefits as exercising 4 times a day, or attending church regularly.

After giving we experience what is known as "giver's glow" or "helpers high". This rush of feel good brain chemicals makes us feel happier and more satisfied with life.

So the other day, when our neighbour dropped by with a homemade pie, it felt great. But it felt even better to give her a jar of our homemade pickled beets when she left.

We have to be careful, however, that giving is not interpreted as an obligation, or the giver's glow could turn into compassion collapse over time.

Therefore, giving should be offered voluntarily and spontaneously to have all those positive effects.

When it is offered freely, the positive effects of giving are spread widely. It does not matter if you are giving money to a charity, helping your aged neighbour shop for groceries, or giving someone something you have in your house but no longer use or need, the beneficial effects are the same. 

It has been shown that just thinking about helping can yield some benefits  as well.

And are there not more opportunities to give and to help now than any other time in human history? There is so much need globally, that there are plenty enough opportunities for every single one of us to become advocates and practitioners of repeated selfless acts towards others (including Mother Earth).

It comes down to a very simple conclusion. Practice giving - be healthier and happier - make your community, and the world, a better place. 

And as a bonus? Live longer. 

It that simple. It works. 

Giving is good.

February 2, 2019

Buying Nothing

This is not a gift for Mother Earth.

This is definitely not what I mean when I say, "buy nothing". 

As a matter of fact, this particular item (found in a dollar store, I think) highlights everything that is wrong with buying stuff just for the sake of buying stuff.

- it's certifiable crap 

- it contains pernicious plastic packaging 

- it takes advantage of people that think they HAVE TO buy people things, even when the recipient has already expressed a lack of desire for anything 

- it might be "fun", but the not-so-fun impact of purchase will extend far past the point of use (which will be measured in seconds, minutes, or at the most until the recipient gets close to the garbage/recycling at home

- it co-opts anti-consumer language for it's own use. If "Less is More", than not buying this gag gift would be even less, which would be even more, which is better. 

Buying nothing means buying nothing. No product, no service, and sorry, no self-gratifying shopping experience that makes the giver feel like they are doing something good. In this case, like so many others, they are not.

Only in a consumer society would it make sense to buy someone you care about a package of waste, pollution, environmental degradation, and a bit of very expensive air.

Is the air inside even clean?

If someone says they want nothing, do them a solid and buy them nothing.

Nothing. No thing. 

Give them a hug. No, don't buy them a huggy body sized pillow. Just give a hug. 

All you need are arms. 

Now you are buying nothing, and it will feel good for both of you.