Worth A Look: Christopher Ketcham Writ Large

Collective Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence
Christopher Ketcham

The article I wrote on Google was killed by Rolling Stone, but I’m now publishing it at CounterPunch.org, with help from the Nation Institute Investigative Fund.

Still on the secession book.  About halfway done.   Concentrating on the Vermonter secessionists, whose credo is Food-Fuel-Finance Sovereignty.

Orion MagazineThe Curse of Bigness,” is about human scale in government and business and social groups…the kind of human scale that corporatist America is doing everything to eradicate.

For those who missed the investigation in GQ about how cell phone radiation is burning out our brains and bodies – and how the telecom industry and the US military have together covered up the science showing a risk – see this op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, which gives the short answer to the question: Should I smash my cell phone with a hammer today, or should I wait a day?

Three pieces in CounterPunch touching on similar themes:

— an article about the disease of technophilia and our mind-destroying obsession with digital gadgetry.

— an article about Joe Stack, the Texas suicide-terrorist pilot who last month crashed his plane into the IRS building in Austin.  He left behind a manifesto of sorts that makes wonderful sense…except for the part where he goes crazy and flies his plane into the IRS building.

— a piece titled “Freedom of Speech for a Fiction,” about the curse of corporate personhood and the recent Supreme Court decision freeing up these sociopathic “persons” to pollute electoral politics with ever more money.

Finally, for those readers/fans of Harper’s, keep an eye out for a piece of mine coming out in the May issue.  It’s about how New York State government perfects what political scientist Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” where the forms of democracy are preserved with none of the substance.   Leave it to the “progressive” Empire State to show the way to ruin…

Journal: Vermont Takes First Step Toward Secession

Cultural Intelligence

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The Secessionist Campaign for the Republic of Vermont

By Christopher Ketacham, 31 January 2010

The President on Wednesday may have reassured Americans that the state of the Union is “strong,” but, just the week before, a group of Vermont secessionists declared their intention to seek political power in a quest to get their state to quit the Union altogether. On Jan. 15, in the state capital of Montpelier, nine candidates for statewide office gathered in a tiny room at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, to announce they wanted a divorce from the United States of America. “For the first time in over 150 years, secession and political independence from the U.S. will be front and center in a statewide New England political campaign,” said Thomas Naylor, 73, one of the leaders of the campaign.

A former Duke University economics professor, Naylor heads up the Second Vermont Republic, which he describes as “left-libertarian, anti-big government, anti-empire, antiwar, with small is beautiful as our guiding philosophy.”

Second Vermont Republic’s gubernatorial candidate is Dennis Steele, 42, a hulking Carhartt-clad fifth generation Vermonter and entrepreneur. He owns Radio Free Vermont, an Internet radio station, and honchos an online venture called ChessManiac.com. Steele says that, if elected, his first act in office would be to bring home Vermont’s National Guard from overseas deployments.

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Journal: Cellphones, Your Brain, and Spectrum

Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Ethics, Government, Technologies, Tools
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Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health (GQ)

Christopher Ketcham
Ever worry that that gadget you spend hours holding next to your head might be damaging your brain? Well, the evidence is starting to pour in, and it’s not pretty. So why isn’t anyone in America doing anything about it?

Phi Beta Iota: This is “old” news that is still news because neither the government nor the public actually pay attention.  We’ve known since the 1980’s that Soviet emission controls were ten times tougher than ours, and now in Afghanistan as we find UAVs and all other devices conflicting with each other across old “dumb” (assigned) spectrum, we are learning, AGAIN, why spectrum consciousness matters.  Open Spectrum and smart devices are the way to go, along with public truth-telling about electromagnetic emissions as part of the “true cost” of all devices.

Journal: Christopher Ketcham Reflections…

Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Ethics
Christopher Ketcham Home
Christopher Ketcham Home

Christopher Ketcham has written for Vanity Fair, Harper’s, GQ, the Nation, Salon, Mother Jones, Men’s Journal, Good Magazine, Radar, National Geographic, Hustler, Penthouse, Maxim, FHM and many other magazines, newspapers and websites. He divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Moab, Utah, where he writes more poetry than is publishable or readable. In 2002, he was selected as a Livingston Awards finalist for his Salon.com coverage of the 9/11 attacks in New York. In 2004, he published a book of poetry about September 11, which Norman Mailer declared “the best book I never got. Can you re-send?” A 2006 article in New York Press, “The Dogs of Gowanus,” has recently been optioned for a feature film.

1)      Time Magazine recently ran a profile on the 2nd Maine Militia, which is headed up by the wonderful novelist (and all-around sweet-hearted lady) Carolyn Chute (check out her most recent book, The School on Heart’s Content Road).  Choice line from one of the 2nd Mainers at their annual meeting: “Fuck America.  What have they done for us lately?  Let’s cut the United States loose and let it drift downstream.” Indeed.

2)      For those of you dosing on the swine flu vaccine, see “Swine Fools” in CounterPunch.

3)      CounterPunch also found the space to publish my profile of ex-CIA operative Bob Baer, the veteran Middle East case officer and author whose books became the basis of the film Syriana.  See “Unlearning the CIA”.  A sample:

Continue reading “Journal: Christopher Ketcham Reflections…”

Journal: Is Money Evil? Who Decided Gold Was Valuable?

Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Earth Intelligence, Gift Intelligence

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COULD YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT MONEY?
MEET THE GUY WHO DOES

In Utah, a modern-day caveman has lived for the better part of a decade on zero dollars a day. People used to think he was crazy

By Christopher Ketcham; Photograph by Mark Heithoff

DANIEL SUELO LIVES IN A CAVE. UNLIKE THE average American—wallowing in credit-card debt, clinging to a mortgage, terrified of the next downsizing at the office—he isn’t worried about the economic crisis. That’s because he figured out that the best way to stay solvent is to never be solvent in the first place. Nine years ago, in the autumn of 2000, Suelo decided to stop using money. He just quit it, like a bad drug habit.

. . . . . . .

“Giving up possessions, living beyond credit and debt,” Suelo explains on his blog, “freely giving and freely taking, forgiving all debts, owing nobody a thing, living and walking without guilt . . . grudge [or] judgment.” If grace was the goal, Suelo told himself, then it had to be grace in the classical sense, from the Latin gratia, meaning favor—and also, free.

. . . . . . .

Suelo considers the riches of our own forage. “What if we saw gold for what it is?” he says meditatively. “Gold is pretty but virtually useless. Somebody decided it has worth, and everybody accepted this decision. The natives in the Americas thought Europeans were insane because of their lust for such a useless yellow substance.”

. . . . . . .

HE WASN’T ALWAYS THIS WAY. SUELO graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in anthropology, he thought about becoming a doctor, he held jobs, he had cash and a bank account. In 1987, after several years as an assistant lab technician in Colorado hospitals, he joined the Peace Corps and was posted to an Ecuadoran village high in the Andes. He was charged with monitoring the health of tribespeople in the area, teaching first aid and nutrition, and handing out medicine where needed; his proudest achievement was delivering three babies. The tribe had been getting richer for a decade, and during the two years he was there he watched as the villagers began to adopt the economics of modernity. They sold the food from their fields—quinoa, potatoes, corn, lentils—for cash, which they used to purchase things they didn’t need, as Suelo describes it. They bought soda and white flour and refined sugar and noodles and big bags of MSG to flavor the starchy meals. They bought TVs. The more they spent, says Suelo, the more their health declined. He could measure the deterioration on his charts. “It looked,” he says, “like money was impoverishing them.”  The experience was transformative….

+++++++Phi Beta Iota Editorial Comment+++++++

There is a rich literature that decries “Rule by Secrecy” and “Rule by Scarcity.”  There is an emerging literature on the importance of Open Money and the implications of recalculating wealth in time-energy (Buckminster Fuller’s notion), in terms of “true cost” to future generations, and in terms of humanity–feelings, emotions, the articulation and expression of beauty, instead of materialistic excess.

The Digital Natives now reaching adulthood coiuld well be the Cultural Creatives on steroids, armed with hand-held devices more powerful that repressive weapons, armed with notions that would resonate with the Love generation of the 1960’s, but also with those of the Mayans who worked only 60 days out of the year to maintain family, community, and civilization.

There is more than enough wealth to allow every person on the planet a good life with food, shelter, and the instruments for thinking.  Our challenge is to use public intelligence in the public interest, to overcome the information asymmetries and the data pathologies that are endemic in the Weberian system of bureaucracy as a means of hoarding knowledge and controlling behavior.

The best behavior comes from shared values within shared wealth.  It’s time we inherited the Earth and fulfilled humanity’s promise, to be the connector of dots to dots, dots to people, and people to people, here on Earth and beyond–with 100 million galaxies, we are quite certain there at least ten, if not more, planets with intelligent life on them.  We will not go so far as to suggest that they are watching us and that we scare them for our war-mongering, thoughtless misbehavior that impoverishes the many for the benefit of a few, but we should live each day as if we were indeed being judged by a larger force.

Is our government acting in the public interest?  Are banks allowed to charge 29.9% interest, banks that exist because they are chartered by our government, in the public interest?

Our national intelligence is lacking.  Public intelligence must make up the deficit.