Monthly Archives: May 2007

“Personal Freedom vs. Authority”

From Death By Digitalized Celebrity: The Ghosts of Timothy Leary and Hunter S. Thompson by Joe Bageant:

“Between the end of World War 1946 and 1965,” [Timothy] Leary explains, “my generation produced you, the 75 million babies who wanted everything, the whole world. And we tried to give it to you. I was busy all the time digging retaining walls at the nursery school … And here you are still moving through the American culture like an avalanche of pure appetite. You are the python and American culture is the pig in your belly.

“Your generation is in charge from here on out. Not the government mafia, and all governments are mafias. The American mafia is the best because it gives more for our money, but both political parties are families of that same mafia. On one hand you have the Democrats, who are genuinely stupid. They think America’s problems can all be solved from Washington, DC. At the same time, Democrats tend to be kind of nice people. But the Republicans understand mafia power is about fear. They are a bunch of mean repressive motherfuckers and always have been.

“You are the hottest, sexiest, most empowered generation ever. You’re in charge of your own evolution now that we’ve deciphered the DNA code. The future is going to be different. You can’t be bought off because there are just too many of you. You can make the world into anything you want. Open up the all the world’s future possibilities. So you should go for it!”

Obviously we didn’t. But it was a tall order to start with.

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Where did all the bees go?

bee1.jpgOver the last couple months, the population of honeybees in the US has drastically declined. My neighbor keeps bees and makes honey and he said he’s lost most of his bees. He used to supply a couple of restaurants with honey and he has had to tell them that he can’t do it anymore because he’s lost so much of his colony. You can still get some smaller jars from his porch though–but who knows for how long?

Some facts:

  • 20-40% of the total US bee population is missing. In some states this number is as high as 90%
  • No one really knows why, but several theories have been put forward
  • 1/3 of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and the vast majority of this is bee-pollinated
  • Almonds, blueberries, watermelons, peaches would not be around without the honeybee

This quote from a NY Times article put it succinctly:Even in a high-tech age when the human capacity to improve upon nature seems limitless, there is no satisfactory substitute for the honeybee.

No one really knows how quickly bees are disappearing because the Department of Agriculture doesn’t keep track of it.

No one knows why the bees are disappearing. I’ve read about cell phones, disease, pesticides, protozoa, stress, fungi, and GMO crops. It could be a combination of any of those.

Bees have undergone dramatic population loss in the past, but this is different. Usually bees deposit their dead comrades near the hive, so when there is a disease or other cause of death, there is a visible marker in the form of a bunch of dead bees. Now though, the bees aren’t showing up like that, they’re truly just disappearing. The remaining bees in the hive don’t eat even if food is provided.

Wikipedia has a good article about it, and this blog post does a good job as well. But really there don’t seem to be any answers anywhere. I’m reminded of Silent Spring, the 1962 book that started to make some people in the US think critically about the effects of industry, specifically pesticides, on life on this planet. In that book, it was birds that have mysteriously all died over one winter. Now, it’s the bees that are disappearing.