Archive for the ‘Room For Improvement’ Category

Obama Legalizes Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption

30/11/2011

Don't Eat Horses

Obama Legalizes Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption
By Madeline Bernstein

Horse slaughter plants are legal again in the United States. Restrictions on horse meat processing for human consumption have been lifted.  courtesy of Google Images

In a bipartisan effort, the House of Representatives and the United States Senate approved the Conference Committee report on spending bill H2112, which among other things, funds the United States Department of Agriculture.  On November 18th, as the country was celebrating Thanksgiving, President Obama signed a law, allowing Americans to kill and eat horses. Essentially, one turkey was pardoned in the presence of worldwide media while in the shadows, buried under pages of fiscal regulation, millions of horses were sentenced to death.

Horse slaughter has been prohibited in the United States as funding for inspections of horses in transit and at slaughter.. Read the rest of this story..

Gold’s Glitter in Peru

15/08/2011

The surge in the price of gold brings wealth and unrest to Peru.
From Reuters: Katharine Jackson reports

Click Image to see Reuters Video

Also see our earlier post on Barrack Mines in Huaraz, Peru.

Don’t Buy It

17/06/2011

Selling Success Thru Consuming

A recent full page ad on the inside front cover of New Zealand Alpine Club‘s The Climber* Magazine shows a truly burly shot of climber Alex Honnold in Borneo, doing a dyno move on what looks like a long potential fall on a big wall. Granted the sequence is impressive, (let’s be clear, I can’t do that), but the ad states, “ALEX IS DRY, His Meru Goretex Paclite Jacket allows him to focus on the next move.”

OK, ok, stop the music. Does this make we want to rush right out and buy a Meru Paclite Jacket? Not. But if  the Meru Paclite jacket allows him to focus on that dyno, maybe it will allow ME to focus on my next move too, just like the ad in the picture.  My criticism is albeit a cliche, nevertheless, I don’t buy it.

Kiwis are known for being a self-depreciating, humble bunch. They seem to buy used whenever possible, plus it blends into the backcountry better. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t go climbing with someone who has new gear?”  This doesn’t mean to avoid climbing and teaching new to the sport, but more it means watching out for a poser.

The Kiwi quietude is making me, in my conditioned Americanism,  feel downright goofy. I feel I may be tooting my own horn without even knowing . Mind you, I consider myself on the humble side, but New Zealanders make me look like Donald Trump.   I wonder however, how many climbers reading that magazine are taken by the ad. I would suspect a few more of my fellow Yankees stateside might be taken in. What do you think? Comment below.

Don’t buy it – buy used. Even though I’m able to buy on pro-purchase programs, I just bought a pair of Karhu BC skis on Craigslist, and it feels good. Did I even need them in the first place, yes. Maybe a step further, and a pair from the Salvation Army here in Queenstown for $40 would have sufficed. We can always improve.

Buying this Book? Share it.

Nope, I wouldn’t buy a used rope, or even cams,  but buying  most other stuff used just helps the planet, and you look better in a used jacket anyway. It’s another dirtbag move for the planet. Madison Avenue and the big corps who now own The North Face, (and now Karhu) don’t like guys like us. We’re terrible consumers – Have you joined the crowd?

According to a new book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, What’s Mine is Yours, The rise of Collaborative Consumption, the trend is huge – to buy less, buy used and share. I’ll write more about this book after I finish it. So far it’s fascinating.

*This is no way meant to be a slam on The Climber advertising policies, in fact the author encourages readers to support the magazine by supporting its advertisers, appropriately. A tricky one, eh?

By the way, nice move Alex.

Peru: Protests Against Illegal Gold Mining

30/05/2011

Tourists Leave Puno Amid Escalating Protests

By: Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES
More than 200 tourists who were stranded in southern Peru’s Puno department due to protests against mining activities have managed to leave the area, according to the president of the Regional Chamber of Tourism (Caretur), Manuel Quiñones.
The tourists were able to leave the region through the airport at Juliaca, state news agency Andina reported.
“The tourists, mostly Europeans, traveled to Cusco, Lima and others to Arequipa,” Quiñones said.
Many of the tourists, taken out of Puno on the small launches to visit the Uros and Taquile and Amantaní islands, spent a night on the islands and sought other exits from Puno the following day, while others returned to the city of Puno in the evening and went ashore at different hotel piers under dark, a lakefront source told, Read the rest of this story..

Elitism in the Mountains

27/05/2011

By R. Richards

The "Lodge" at Routeburn!

Fellow MSI board member Bob Stremba and I recently decided to spend a  couple of days on New Zealand’s Routeburn walk, one of the famous tracks in the Southern Alps. We did it last week, during the shoulder season so there were only a handful of people on the trail. But I can imagine the numbers grow exorbitantly during the summer months. Fair enough, that’s how New Zealand has decided to funnel foreign hikers, and showcase tourism into a few of the well-known tramps. Milford Sound not far away is another.

Hi There!

All went well, aside from a bit of rain. We met some nice hikers, one from Ireland, Australia, Switzerland and four from Canada. We stayed at the small Routeburn Flats hut, and the next day proceeded to the Routeburn Falls hut for a quick lunch break . That’s when something seemed out of place. First, the size of the Department of Conservation (DOC) hut was quite impressive, equipped to handle large amounts of hikers. I then noticed above me, and pondered what in the world, could the huge building possibly be that stood above the DOC hut? Since it was the off season, this larger upper building was closed, bit we could peek in the windows . As I approached,  a big wooden sign in front of the building called out  the “Routeburn Falls Lodge”.  I saw a smaller sign behind it, mounted on the wall stating: “Strictly Guided Walkers Only” adding “Independent walkers please continue on to the DOC Hut.”

Private Rooms for the Gentry

The irony of first class and coach system arriving in the mountains struck me immediately with the thought that there should be a sign on the DOC hut stating, “Strictly Independent Walkers, Guided hikers should continue on to the nearest Hilton”. Of  course I don’t really feel that way, but it was the first thing that came to mind. Better yet, maybe the cognoscenti should overthrow the highfalutin hut and invite the coach class to join them, (and possibly even have a food fight).

The only site I can remotely remember seeing like this was in the Alps. Of course high living gentiles are still staying in the hotels just below the faces of the Matterhorn and Eiger. The only class arrangement I can remember seeing was in the Alpine Club huts of the Alps where the mountain quide’s quarters, were separated from us chattel climbers. But this, here in New Zealand was a whole other matter. I’m sure Oliver James, author of Affluenza would be proud of most Kiwis who shun this sort of thing in their mountains. I then found my tolerance level further tested with another sign telling “independent hikers” to a) turn around, b)  march their little butts down to where they belong  c) and stay there, all with the Orwellian salutation of “Hi There!”  See the actual text in the image above.

Bob Stremba, overlooking the Backcountry (?)

I hope that “haute couture” in the backcountry stops with this hut. I’m assuming there may be others though.  Even  though this super-duper hut sits in the heart of the Routeburn,  in the real backcountry, we’re still all the same. The problem is, having such a lodge like this goes a long way in destroying the very experience the concession is trying to offer. By its very nature, it removes itself from the backcountry. It brings the virulent virus – the epidemic of affluenza to the doorstep of paradise.  Tell us what you think about allowing such multiple uses on government land such as  luxury lodges (such as this one  run by Ultimate Hikes) Is it a bad idea? Are we missing something about the land use plans of NZ?

If you’re thinking of taking a  guided hike, suggest to your guide that he put you up with the rest of us. You’ll find it much more inspiring. Also suggest that they could change their signs to a less snooty sort.

Obama approves GMO Crops

04/03/2011

The Revolution will begin our food supply
Over the past 12 days, the Obama administration has unbelievably chosen to approve two biotech crops, Roundup Ready genetically modified (GMO) alfalfa and Roundup Ready genetically modified (GMO) sugar beets. Obama’s recent approval of them will allow them to be planted as early as this spring, despite widespread acknowledgment that these crops are certain to contaminate both conventional and organic farmers non-GMO crops. Their approval only benefits one company — Monsanto.

These decisions are a devastating blow to our democracy and the basic rights of farmers to choose how they want to grow food on their land and the rights of consumers who increasingly choose organic and sustainably grown food for its positive health and environmental impacts. Click here to join us in telling President Obama that it’s time to stand up to Monsanto and reject these GMO crops today.

Obama approves GMO Crops

08/02/2011

The Revolution will begin our food supply
Over the past 12 days, the Obama administration has unbelievably chosen to approve two biotech crops, Roundup Ready genetically modified (GMO) alfalfa and Roundup Ready genetically modified (GMO) sugar beets. Obama’s recent approval of them will allow them to be planted as early as this spring, despite widespread acknowledgement that these crops are certain to contaminate both conventional and organic farmers non-GMO crops. Their approval only benefits one company — Monsanto.

These decisions are a devastating blow to our democracy and the basic rights of farmers to choose how they want to grow food on their land and the rights of consumers who increasingly choose organic and sustainably grown food for its positive health and environmental impacts. Click here to join us in telling President Obama that it’s time to stand up to Monsanto and reject these GMO crops today.

U.S. Healthcare: Our Blind Spot

28/01/2011

By R. Richards, Founder,
Mountain Spirit Institute
[Don’t miss the chart at the end of this post]
Once again, I’ve crossed  the  U.S. border, and am back in New Zealand (by way of Australia) experiencing medical system the way it was meant to be – compassionate,  not based on profit over people. My wife is pregnant, and before we left, we decided to have an initial visit with a midwife in New Hampshire. Once in Australia/New Zealand, we planned to have further tests. We were traveling to Australia to be with family Christmas, not to have pre-natal tests.

After the Holidays, we returned to New Zealand and are now here on the South Island.  So, in addition to our holiday trip, we’ve also been on a medical tour, getting a sampling  three different medical systems, starting in the U.S. (more…)

Mt. Washington’s Summit, Ykes!

03/10/2010

As we approached the last few feet of the Tuckerman’s Trail, at the summit of Mt. Washington. we took the last steps… to what? A parking lot filled with camera toting, Lay’s Potato Chip bag eating, heavy handed, and heavy set “summiteers”.

They had just driven up the highest peak in the land.
And they were taking pictures of us, the hikers, as if we were wildlife…maybe we were.

I’m a native of New Hampshire, and after all these years, had forgotten to avoid the White Mountains in the summer. I’ve been living in other parts of the world and usually come back to New Hampshire during the off seasons.  So, when Amanda and I decided to climb to the Northeast’s highest summit on a midweek day last August, I vaguely warned Amanda about a crowded summit. But nothing prepared either of us for the sheer numberof poeple. While I’m the first to share the mountains with others, and gladly give way on the trails, the element of an auto-road raises the stakes of tolerance.

The day started and ended nicely, it was the middle part that was challenging. As we headed up Lion’s Head Trail, we passed a few people here and there.  It was Amanda’s first time on a bigger peak in the Northeastern US,  and she enjoyed getting a sense of the mountain, feeling the “mountain spirit” which each unique to each mountain. The Inca have a word for it, “Los Apus”, the “Mountain Spirits” which reside in and on every mountain, or in essence, are the mountain. Mountains are either maculine or feminine, and have certain traits, such as strength, or flexability or love, or supporting compassion for example.  Amanda was getting a feel for what she felt as the female, but big,  loving energy of Mt. Washington, whose indigenous name is *Agiocochook (or Agiochook), and Waumbeket Methna meaning “The place of the Great Spirit”; “The place of the Concealed One.” (and in one other reference also named, Kodaak wadso).  (*Referred to by Emerson as well, in his journals).

When one quiets the mind, and tunes into the surrounding natural environment, the place and natural features will speak to one. But because of our incessant need for mind chatter, and our worried lives, we rarely tune into the pulse of nature, as exemplified by our summit experience.

The Summiteers

Amanda has been reading Postcards from Ed, a collection of letters and postcards from Edward Abby, which we both highly recommend. Our suggestion, dismantle the road, and the cog railway while they’re at it.

Note: Stay tuned for another post featuring “Ingram’s Law”: A law based on Gresham’s Law of economics, in which Ingram  applied the same principles  to recreational management in our national and state parks and other public lands.

Your Food Supply #1

20/07/2010

The first in a series of video posts about Your Food Supply

#1 The Trip West: An Experiential Rude Awakening
By Randy and Amanda Richards

This was Amanda’s first trip across the U.S., so we thought we’d drive. Destination? Colorado, where we would house-sit for a fellow Mountain Spirit board member. We thought we’d stay off the interstates, instead, crossing rural routes, starting  with Indiana Route 24, then Missouri Route 36 west of Macon.  Shortly after departing we decided to listen to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book on tape by Michael Pollan.

Want to know what's in your food?

As we traveled through Indiana, Missouri, and then Kansas, the book narrated our trip with views of tightly packed cornfields, and more corn, and then more corn. It turns out, about the only thing the U.S. is growing  is corn, at least from what we saw.  Sure there are apples in Washington, and spinach, avocados etc, in California, but in the Midwest, there’s corn, and a lot of it. We did see some soybean fields, but nothing much else than corn.  We certainly didn’t see many pastoral scenes of cows grazing on open pastures. But we did see lots and lots of corn. As we listened to Pollan’s book, we were shocked to learn where all this corn is ending up in the food supply, plus how many bushels per acre of corn the farmers were squeezing out of the land. Read his book for the stark details of our homogenized food supply, and as you do, imagine seeing it in front of your eyes, passing by the window of your car. It was eery for us.  I’ve driven across the U.S. probably over 45 or 50 times, and each time I’ve felt grateful to do so, and very cognizant of my impact by doing so.

I won’t go into detail about all we learned in Pollan’s book. Buy his book. However, one of the major topics he covered was how corn is not only a food, but a commodity, that is in almost all our food in a wide variety of forms. Corn drives the modern industrial food machine, being sent to beef feedlots where cows are forced to eat corn. Grass is their natural diet. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically Modified Corn was another scary thing we learned about, plus how our farmers are forced work for fewer and fewer dollars, while ADM and the other monopolies make the money.

So starts our video series, rows and rows of corn, somewhere in Kansas on Route 36, but it could be anywhere in the Midwest. Stay tuned for Your Food Supply #2,  for a feedlot and processing plant scene west of Dodge City Kansas, which may shock you.