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Monday, June 29, 2015

Grateful Dead w/ Neil Young - Forever Young - 11/03/91 - Golden Gate Park (OFFICIAL)

As well noted everywhere, The Grateful Dead reunion of sorts runs until July 6.

Apparently the concert was so wondrous, a rainbow materialized as the 1st set ended.

Santa Clara, California
via consequenceofsound.net

So, in celebration of the semi-reunion concerts, video of Neil Young playing "Forever Young" for Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. Recorded Live: 11/3/1991 - Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, CA)

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"Curt of chord and filled with purpose": Neil Young's 'The Monsanto Years' Review

As the reviews of Neil Young's latest album 'The Monsanto Years' -- with Promise Of The Real -- start to roll in, we'll try and highlight a sampling.

From The Guardian | Neil Young: The Monsanto Years review – quasi-punk love songs for the planet by Kitty Empire:
This is Young in quasi-punk mode, curt of chord, brief of noodle, filled with purpose, marshalling tunes – and whistling, and harmonicas – in the service of the singer’s public service. Often, The Monsanto Years hits home squarely. If I Don’t Know, the album closer, is a moving meta-song, in which Young examines his efforts to get people to give a shit, while his guitar gently weeps. “If the melodies stay pretty/And the songs are not too long,” he reasons, he might restore some respect to the Earth.

Country and folk have long tackled injustice. Here, the rambling Workin’ Man tells of farmer Vernon Bowman, sued for taking seed from GMO soy without paying Monsanto a royalty. Young’s issue isn’t with intellectual property rights – musicians like royalties – but with how agriculture has been taken over by corporate McSeed, further impoverishing farmers (a Young concern since Farm Aid). By contrast, you question the lasting artistic merit of ditties such as A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop, which squares up to Monsanto (and Starbucks) with all the elegance of a combine harvester.
From RINF | "Neil Young is Starving the Poor! The Pro-GMO Lobby’s Latest Scapegoat" by Colin Todhunter:

Owen Patterson ludicrously talks about Greenpeace being put on trial for “crimes against humanity” and finishes by saying:

“Instead of bashing companies that are trying to save lives, Neil Young ought to use his star power to convince the NGO community to do the right thing and support giving the developing world the GMO tools it needs to feed its growing, and tragically malnourished, populations.

Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of GM technology, so staunch in fact that fellow Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet.

It comes as no surprise that Paterson would state the things he does. As Environment Minister, his support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see this).

His claims about GMOs have already been demolished and are erroneous, misleading and little more than emotive biotech sector inspired PR (see the twisted world of Mr Paterson and this). And his claims about Golden Rice are not only false or misleading (also see this and this) but seem to be a key part of a PR strategy he thinks should be used to weaken opposition to GMOs.

After attempting to smear and denigrate opponents, let’s take a brief look at Paterson himself. Back in 2010, his wealth was estimated to be £1.5 million (approx. $2.35 million). He was a member of David Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires. Some 23 members of that cabinet were estimated to be worth in total at least £63 million. Just 9% of the population have over £1 million in wealth. In order words, Paterson is a rich man.

He is a rich man who belongs to the right-wing Conservative Party, which is waging an ideological war on working people in the UK in an attempt to justify even more ‘austerity’ measures. And the outcome has been predictable.

See this about rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks in the UK. See this about the five richest families in Britain being worth more than the poorest 20%. See this about one third of Britain’s population being in poverty.

According to this report, almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions; 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities; one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter; and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at 63 to 64 million).

Welfare cuts have pushed hundreds of thousands below the poverty line since 2012, including more than 300,000 children.

Paterson’s pro-privatisation, deregulation, welfare-cutting, pro-big business, anti-union Conservative Party’ policies are driving the statistics mentioned above, which are predicted to get much worse. And it will get much worse because the economic agenda that his party introduced three decades back has been to drive down wages, automate the labour process or offshore it to cheap labour economies and now to impose ‘austerity’ on the millions who have become surplus to requirements and considered a drain.

And so it goes with Neil Young's 'The Monsanto Years'.

Looks like a long, hot summer ahead. Keep cool and stay calm.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Science, GMO's and Our Futures: Why We Need To Heed The Coming of Neil Young's The Monsanto Years

Politicians Discussing Global Warming
Isaac Cordal's Berlin Sculpture

Neil Young's latest album 'The Monsanto Years' -- with Promise Of The Real -- is due to be released next week and already the much anticipated backlash is starting to rev up.

After all, what does Neil Young know about science, public policy and trade regulations? Or as this review in NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | "Neil Young’s ‘The Monsanto Years’ gets one-star. The rock legend shows how not to write a protest song" by Jim Farber questions Neil Young’s credentials on:
• The effects of genetically modified food on human digestion.

• Bread packaging and advertising at Safeway.

• The ingredients used in Starbucks’ coffee.

• Workers rights at WalMart.

• The enforced implementation of artificial seeds on American farmers.

• The Supreme Court's rulings on the character of corporations.

• Battles by the citizens of Vermont against the state government.

• And, most zippy of all, the tactics of the conservative lobbying group Citizens United.
So why should anyone care what some old hippie cowboy stoner sings about anyways? Well, we've been through this exercise before, so here we go again. A little rundown on where we stand here at the crossroads....

Human Experiment is Probably Coming to an End

Posted by Moti Nissani on Dissident Voice on June 26, 2015

Given the many known and unknown threats that humanity already poses to the biosphere, given the likelihood that, thanks to unforeseen technological advances, the number of these threats is sure to grow, and given the fact that humanity is for the most part governed by fools, ignoramuses, swindlers, and irresponsible psychopaths, the probability of human extinction within the next 200 years is worrisomely high. Our only hope is a least-cost revolution aimed at establishing a genuinely democratic political system.


“They’ll talk about change, about politics, about reform, about corruption, but they will never talk about war unless they mean something happening far away. Because to admit the existence of the war waged against us is to admit that we are combatants, and if we see that we are not fighting back, then we would have to admit that we have surrendered. That we have already been defeated.”—The Arctic Circle Collective

“At this point in history the capacity to doubt, to criticize and to disobey may be all that stands between a future for mankind and the end of civilization.”—Erich Fromm

“God offers to everyone his choice between truth and repose. Take which you please—you can never have both”.—Ralph Waldo Emerson



On June 23, 2015, I had the pleasure of exchanging views about the tragic condition of the biosphere with Jeff J. Brown of Radio Sinoland:

Here I plan to highlight and expand upon key points of that interview.

Specialization is often accompanied by Tunnel Vision

One of the saddest aspects of our age, besides the partial awareness of most people, is the ignorance of most specialists. Ortega y Gasset (1932) puts it that way:

“Previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the ignorant, those more or less the one, and those more or less the other. But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these two categories. He is not learned, for he is formally ignorant of all that does not enter into his specialty; but neither is he ignorant, because he is “a scientist,” and “knows” very well his own tiny portion of the universe. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus, which is a very serious matter, as it implies that he is a person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but with all the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line.”

Specialization helps prop up our unjust and suicidal system. At the moment, freedom, equitable distribution of wealth, peace, justice, spirituality, and sustainability are all losing ground. And yet, most specialists, e.g., brilliant nuclear, genetic, or computer engineers, are unaware of, or choose to ignore, the fact that they are playing with fire. Likewise, most citizens are either oblivious to what is going on or only focus on just one breaking point.

Reliable, Evidence-Based, Warnings to Humanity are Increasing in Frequency and Shrillness

Many among us dismiss environmental concerns as a swindle. And yet, the majority of the people who are best qualified to judge the matter—holistic thinkers and scientists—are extremely concerned about the very future of the biosphere. For example, in 1992—when the situation was less desperate than it is now—some 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this “Warning to Humanity:”


Scream of the Earth
(Sculpture in the Carved Forest of El Bolsón, Río Negro, Argentina)

“Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.”

This is echoed in turn by more recent warnings. According to the U.N.’s 2011 World Economic and Social Survey,

“Humanity is on the verge of breaching planetary sustainability boundaries” and heading towards “a major planetary catastrophe.”

A group of leading scientists:

“Transgressing one or more planetary boundaries may be deleterious or even catastrophic due to the risk of crossing thresholds that will trigger non-linear, abrupt environmental change within continental-to-planetary-scale systems. . . . We estimate that humanity has already transgressed three planetary boundaries: for climate change, rate of biodiversity loss, and changes to the global nitrogen cycle. The complexities of interconnected slow and fast processes and feedbacks in the Earth System provide humanity with a challenging paradox. On the one hand, these dynamics underpin the resilience that enables planet Earth to stay within a state conducive to human development. On the other hand, they lull us into a false sense of security because incremental change can lead to the unexpected crossing of thresholds that drive the Earth System, or significant subsystems, abruptly into states deleterious or even catastrophic to human well-being.”

By now, even the head of one of the oldest and richest organizations on earth joined the chorus of doomsayers. Here are a few excerpts from Pope Francis’ June 18, 2015 encyclical:

“Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irre­sponsible use and abuse . . . We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. . . .

“The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty.”

Canaries in the Coalmine

 Such views are reinforced by incontestable facts on the ground. Extreme climate events are on the rise. Familiar species like bees, bats, frogs, monarch butterflies, and elephants are declining. Health problems like autism, cancer, and obesity are nearing epidemic proportions. The polluted oceans and topsoil can support less life forms than they could in the past. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and countless other substances are higher than they had been 10, 100, 1,000, or 10,000 years ago.

So far, these realities have been documented by knowledgeable observers but largely ignored by bribed or intimidated politicians and journalists and by the public at large.

 The Tsiolkosvki (or Fermi) Paradox

 I first encountered the Tsiolkosvki paradox in Isaac Asimov’s New Guide to Science. Astronomy, Asimov notes, strongly suggests that there are at least millions of planets in the universe which should be capable of sustaining life. In some of these planets, technological civilizations must have come into being long before ours. Such alien civilizations ought to have by now solved the problem of intergalactic travel, or at least ought to have developed means of communicating over the vast distances of the cosmos. And yet, as best as we can tell, the universe is silent. Why?

One could come up with any number of solutions to this paradox. The late Isaac Asimov—one of the most accomplished holistic thinkers of the modern age—seems to have favored the following. Could it be, he wondered, that intelligence is a self-limiting property? Could it be, to put it somewhat differently, that extinction is written into the evolutionary history and the genetic code of any technological species?

It could indeed be that

“this is the first moment in the history of our planet when any species, by its own voluntary actions, has become a danger to itself – as well as to vast numbers of others.”

It’s the Multiplicity of Known and yet Unknown Interventions, along with Humanity’s Collective Heartlessness and Irrationality, that Virtually Guarantee Human Extinction

Most pessimistic scholars base their predictions of impending environmental holocaust on a single technology. Some climate disruption experts, for instance, believe that it’s already game over for humanity. Other scholars, looking at the prospects of an all-out nuclear war, are convinced that it is precisely such a war that would spell our doom.

But one can also look at our environmental predicament as a whole. What happens when we combine the probabilities of all potential extinction events? To be sure, the biosphere is extremely complex and hence unpredictable. Still, some tentative order-of-magnitude estimates might be made:


Nuclear power:
There are some 440 existing plants and some 60 are under construction. We had already three major disasters (Kyshtym, Chernobyl, and Fukushima), which would, when everything is said and done, involve permanent loss of previously-habitable lands, increased radiation risks everywhere, and the death of millions, at the very least. We can confidently expect many more disasters because the technology is inherently risky. For instance, at the moment we have no idea where and how to store its ever-growing quantities of waste products. Will we survive Fukushima? Will we survive 10 more Fukushimas? Will we survive 50? Nobody knows. Let us be conservative and arbitrarily assign a 5% probability to human extinction caused by nuclear power catastrophes.

Nuclear war: Humanity has been under the shadow of nuclear war since 1945. How long can this continue before these weapons are unleashed accidentally or on purpose, especially by the madmen who now control Washington and Tel Aviv? Nuclear war, in turn, some experts feel, could spell human extinction. One educated guess of an all-out nuclear war taking place and causing human extinction: 10%

Climate Disruptions: (see here for a holistic review). Besides the devastating but perhaps survivable impact of human tampering with the climate, there is also the risk of a runaway melting of vast amounts of methane—a very powerful greenhouse gas—and the consequent heating of the atmosphere to levels that would even fry our rulers in their underground hideouts. Conservative probability of this extinction event: 20%

Nanotechnology: Our masters and their compartmentalized Drs. Strangeloves are already unleashing all kinds of minute (around a millionth part of a millimeter or less than 10 millionth part of an inch) particles with strange and powerful properties. Like sentient computers and genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology often involves self-replicating entities. No one knows how that experiment is going to end, yet many doomsday scenarios can be imagined. For instance:

“‘Plants’ with ‘leaves’ no more efficient than today’s solar cells could out-compete real plants, crowding the biosphere with inedible foliage. Tough omnivorous “bacteria” could out-compete real enough controlling viruses and fruit flies. They could spread like blowing pollen, replicate swiftly, and reduce the biosphere to dust in a matter of days. Dangerous replicators could easily be too tough, small, and rapidly spreading to stop – at least if we make no preparation. We have trouble enough controlling viruses and fruit flies.”

Such doomsday scenarios could stem from a “simple laboratory accident,” or from intentional malevolence. Let us arbitrarily say that nanotechnology only entails a 1% likelihood of human extinction.

An Awake Computer: According to some experts, we’re nearing the point where a computer or an interconnected computer network could become sentient. Such a remarkable scientific achievement could however be our only lasting legacy. We’re talking here, of course, about a Karel Capek’s R.U.R scenario of revolting self-aware computers. Here, for instance, is Stephen Hawkins:

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded. If a superior alien civilization sent us a message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here—we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not—but this is more or less what is happening with artificial intelligence.”

Let us ignore the Cassandras and assign such an extinction event a mere 3% likelihood.

Chemical contamination: Some parts of the oceans are already dead, at least for a while. The topsoil in most places is not as healthy as it used to be. Our bodies are loaded with a concoction of plentiful poisons–and this is just the beginning. How long till the point of no return? No one knows, but the possibilities are countless, intriguing, and worrisome.


Let me cite just one example: Some of the chemicals in our environment might have already caused a significant reduction in the quality and quantity of human sperm. What’s in store for us if this decline is real and if it reaches one day 10% or 0 or if human sperm is damaged in some other way?

There are numerous untested chemicals out there, and thousands more will find their way to the environment and our bodies without the slightest regard for their potential consequences. Let’s be conservative and say that the probability of chemically-induced extinction is 20%.

Genetically-modified organisms: Some companies are busily creating chimeras that never existed on earth. How long can this go on before they unleash an extinction event?

The transformation of plant genetics is being accelerated from the measured pace of biological evolution to the speed of next quarter’s earnings report. Such haste makes it impossible to foresee and forestall: Unintended consequences appear only later, when they may not be fixable, because novel lifeforms aren’t recallable.”

Let us give a 5% extinction probability caused by existing and yet-to-be-unleashed engineered, self-replicating, life forms.

Species extinctions: Besides busily creating new life forms, we are also destroying old ones. Let us forget aesthetics, morality, and potential future benefits of existing species, and just focus on their potential contribution to our extinction projections. We have no way of knowing whether biodiversity is a precondition of our own survival, and if so, what particular species are critical and what is the biodiversity threshold. So let us give this risk a mere 1% probability of triggering human extinction.

Stratospheric Ozone Layer Depletion: This particular threat is receding, thanks to delayed but meaningful action. But we cannot declare total victory yet: extinction probability of 1%.

Other known risks: The list above is obviously incomplete. Let’s say that all other suspected risks (e.g., ocean acidification), carry a combined human extinction risk of 3%.

New technological breakthroughs. Another grave threat to our existence lies in unforeseen technological breakthroughs and in our propensity to rapidly adopt any profitable technology regardless of risks. Almost all the risks above originated in the last 70 years or so. As long as present trends continue, there is every reason to believe that science will give our corporations many more such potentially destructive gifts. Let’s arbitrarily (but not unreasonably) assign such gifts a 25% collective probability of causing humanity to perish.


Crowding seems to be negatively correlated with freedom, and it leads us to place less value on human life. For this discussion however, it would appear that the more people we have, all things being equal, the graver the dangers posed by some of the environmental problems mentioned above. And yet, for every person alive in 1800, we now have about seven. Every year, the world population grows by about 75 million, thereby aggravating our already severe environmental problems. We have been warned about overpopulation but have failed to take action—with the exception of China and countries that inadvertently have achieved zero or negative population growth. Not only that, most scholars outside the ecological community, and most organized religions, still preach the false doctrine of “be fruitful and multiply.”

It’s extremely difficult to make predictions about a system that is as complex as the biosphere. So all these probabilities convey possibilities, not certainties. Each one of these possibilities could be non-existent, lower, on the mark, or higher. Still, if we settle for the conservative estimates above and sum them up, we arrive at a frightening conclusion: Unless we stop fouling our nest, the probability that human beings (and most other life forms) will vanish from earth within the next couple of centuries or so could be as high as 94%.

Collective Heartlessness and Irrationality

The picture that emerges from our discussion so far is dismal: Sooner or later, an avid Russian roulette player blows his brains out. We can readily however stop crossing the fingers of one hand while using the other hand to fire a partially-loaded revolver at our head.

To begin with, I’m convinced that the free citizens of democratic Athens—without our fancy technology—were on average happier and more curious and literate than we are. More to the point, they led far more meaningful lives. If given a choice, that is certainly the place I would have chosen to be born in (as a free male citizen).WorldsWorstEnemy

But let’s say we buy into the false belief that dishwashers and cell phones make us happier (and I must admit that I enjoy owning a car, and that computers and the internet did enrich my life). Must these technologies spell human extinction? Absolutely not! If we were just ruled by decent people, or, better still, if we were our own rulers, we could have most of these comforts, have more money in the bank, enjoy better health and longer lives, and yet reduce by a wide margin the overall probability of our extinction. It’s that simple.

Here are three examples, all showing that, when it comes to the environment, we can often have our cake and eat it too.

In the long run, nuclear power is probably not a net generator of electricity and it is not, on its own, economically viable (and even if it were, do we really need to split the atom in order to boil water?) It was created thanks to massive government subsidies to begin with. Moreover, it now exists thanks to government largesse (e.g., since no insurance company in its right mind would insure nuclear power reactors, the nuclear industry says it will build them only if the taxpayers underwrite “liability for future accidents.”)


Fukushima-style cucumbers

All this was already absolutely clear by 1977 at the latest. Here are Ralph Nader and John Abbot (The Menace of Atomic Energy):

“What technology has had the potential for both inadvertent and willful mass destruction . . . for wiping out cities and contaminating states after an accident, a natural calamity, or sabotage? What technology has been so unnecessary, so avoidable by simple thrift or by deployment of renewable energy supplies?”

Or take climate disruptions. By the early 1990s, people like Amory Lovins and organizations like the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (both cited here), clearly showed that the USA alone could minimize those threats through conservation. Conservation could in turn save Americans between $56 to 200 billion a year and vastly improve their health and quality of life.

We could, to give just one example of conservation measures, at the very least, triple gas mileage of the global fleet of cars and meaningfully begin to address the problem (as opposed to the Rothschilds’ various scams of making money from climate disruptions by doing . . . less than nothing). So why don’t we do it? Simple, the bankers who own the fossil-fuel companies are not content with the trillions they already have. If we increase gas mileage, oil price would go down to slightly above the cost of production. This would mitigate climate disruptions and save lives and money. But such steps would slow down the process of money accumulation by our rulers. Whenever such conflicts arise, the oligarchs almost always win.

Here is a 1996 academic essay:

“For argument’s sake, a conservative and arbitrary estimate is adopted, assuming that the chances of adverse greenhouse consequences within the next century are 10%; of a cataclysm, 1%. Such chances, this review then conclusively shows, should not be taken, because there is no conceivable reason for taking them: the steps that will eliminate the greenhouse threat will also save money and cut pollution, accrue many other beneficial consequences, and only entail negligible negative consequences. Thus, a holistic review leads to the surprising conclusion that humanity is risking its future for less than nothing. Claims that the greenhouse controversy is legitimate, that it involves hard choices, that it is value-laden, or that it cannot be resolved by disinterested analysis, are tragically mistaken.”


And so it goes, across the board. Genetically-modified crops are unhealthy, they are often soaked with poisons or they themselves produce poisons, they are the cause of many farmer suicides in India, and they pose health and financial risks to growers, consumers, livestock, and wildlife. They are permitted to exist because our political system is putrid.

And what about the potential benefits of such things as computers and nano particles? Well, if we can figure out how to develop such technologies without risking our existence, and if we can create a political system that prohibits the vicious applications of technological advances (e.g., using computers to invade privacy or guide nuclear-tipped missiles), then such technologies could be pursued. If, on the other hand, as seems likely, they are inherently risky, a rational and compassionate species would renounce them.

Parting words

It takes novelists to fully grasp the irony and hopelessness of our plight.

In Karel Capek’s humorously pessimistic War with the Newts, sentient and prolific salamanders are encountered in some far-off bay. At first their discoverers offer them knives and protection from sharks in exchange for pearls. Gradually, however, many of the world’s nations avail themselves of these creatures for other purposes, including war. In a few years, the salamanders run out of living space. To accommodate their growing numbers, they flood countries, one at a time. To do this, they need supplies from other countries and from merchants of the soon-to-be ravaged country itself. Needless to say, the salamanders have no trouble securing everything they need. At the end, humanity is on the verge of sinking and drowning; not so much by the newts, but by its greed, shortsightedness, and colossal stupidity.

A similar conclusion is reached in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle:

“And I remembered the Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled, ‘What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?’”

“It doesn’t take long to read, The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.

“This is it:



More coverage, discussion and analysis tonight on Thrasher's Wheat Radio on Wbkm Dot Org, at 9:00PM ET.

Don't be denied!

Tune in details and podcast info @ Thrashers Wheat Radio Hour.

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peace & love. stay calm. no fear. use discernment. recognize the illusion. be the wheat. prepare for the big shift and keep on rockin' in the free world.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Comment of the Moment: First Listen: Neil Young + Promise Of The Real, 'The Monsanto Years'

The Monsanto Years by Neil Young + Promise Of The Real
Art by Micah Nelson
(Zoom Cover)

The Comment of the Moment is from First Listen: Neil Young + Promise Of The Real, 'The Monsanto Years' by flyingscotzman:
Here are my first impressions.

Firstly, his stance on Monsanto seems justified to me. So that's the first hurdle out the way.

My next observation would be that Neil has got some pretty good ideas for songs here. It's true that the emotional richness and storytelling genius of older songs with a comparable theme (e.g This Old House, Rockin' In The Free World) are largely absent here, at least for the most part: giving the lyrics a sense of numbness that seems in stark constrast to Neil's enthusiasm for the subject matter.

The album is a lot better sonically than it is lyrically. It's more than the sum of it's parts. Neil sounds fully engaged and performs well. If anything, his guitar and vocal presence occasionally gets lost under all the other instruments and voices.

But overall this is a fun, dreamy sounding record; a rich soundscape that marries well with the subject matter, and also helps disguise the flatness of (some of) the lyrics. It's too early for me to judge the quality of the arrangements etc, it takes a few listens for them to sink in.

Also, I'd say that people criticizing Neil for mis-representing the science of GMOs are perhaps correct, but may still be missing the overall point, I think. Neil seems to be attacking Monsanto mainly for the stranglehold they have on farmers, which strikes me as a perfectably reasonable stance. It's as much an "anti-corporate power" and "anti-greed" album as it is an "anti-GMO" album, and therfore one I can get on board with.

...Now all we need to do is convince Neil that his mates high up in the hierarchy of Tyson Foods are just as bad as Monsanto (if not worse), and then we will be getting somewhere.

Thanks flyingscotzman! For us, it takes awhile to form a solid opinion on a Neil Young album. Often the first few impressions are not what we end up with in the long run. Time will always tell... but so far, so good.

More fan reviews and comments on First Listen: Neil Young + Promise Of The Real, 'The Monsanto Years'.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

NPR First Listen: Neil Young + Promise Of The Real, 'The Monsanto Years'

From review on NPR:
"People Want To Hear About Love" is the most artful moment on The Monsanto Years, Young's 36th studio album as a solo artist. Here, we have a series of taut and stone-simple Neil Young songs that fit together under a catchall concept (about companies wielding extraordinary influence over many aspects of our quality of life), each powered by its own supply of righteous fury. Enjoyment of it probably depends less on whether you agree with Young's positions than on how much tolerance you have for a mantra, repeated frequently, using the three syllables that make up the trade name Monsanto. It also helps to like your harangues set to three-chord rock and expressed through triadic melodies. This is not subtle, Harvest Moon Neil, brooding at the piano. This is ornery, snarly Neil. Give him a megaphone and a transcript of these lyrics, put him on a street corner and watch what happens.

At times in the lyrics, there's a sense that Young simply cranked up the Current Events Couplet Generator and let rip about everything that's bothering him. One minute, "Big Box" tackles the corporate bailouts — "Too big to fail / Too rich for jail" — and in the next he's swerved into the campaign-finance quagmire: "They cast their votes and no one gets excited," he shouts, sounding two steps away from meltdown, "because they are Citizens United." Other songs focus more successfully on a single theme: The verses of "A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop" explain Young's dismay over the Vermont GMO-labeling controversy in which Starbucks and Monsanto became allies. And the somber title track breaks down, in simple language, Young's position on Monsanto's unique control over the agriculture industry. "The farmer knows he's got to grow what he can sell ... Every year he buys the patented seeds / Poison-ready, they're what the corporation needs."

Young can be counted on to go big when venting indignation — remember the massive choir he deployed on 2006's Living With War, to help him unfurl a sweeping lament about Iraq? Here, he gets help from Promise Of The Real, a proudly ragged rock band fronted by Micah and Lukas Nelson, sons of Willie Nelson. Though not as loose as Crazy Horse was in its prime, the band understands exactly the guitar punctuation each vocal phrase needs — sometimes that means sinewy overlapping lead lines, and sometimes it means buzzsaw chords pushed to the edge of distortion. At times, Young's tortured diatribes can take up all the air in a mix; the album's strongest moments, including the Stones-esque "Workin' Man," achieve a balance between howling vocal outrage and badass rhythmic stomp. The scruff in the music brings to life his troubling big idea about the rape of the land and its corresponding impact on the soul.

Whatever you think of Young's politics or methods, give him this much: After all this time, after decades spent ranting about nuclear power and corporate malfeasance and the plight of the family farmer, he still sounds like a true believer — and an idealist. He's reached the age where people often become resigned, but chooses, perhaps quixotically, to play the worried town crier. Of course, there's no shortage of material for sequels.
Full review on NPR.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bernie Sanders Takes Back Neil Young’s Song "Rockin’ In The Free World"

U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders today played -- with permission -- Neil Young’s song "Rockin’ In The Free World" at a campaign rally in Denver.

In a statement about the Denver rally, the Sanders campaign noted:
"This is an extraordinary turnout,” Sanders said as he surveyed the crowd after climbing onto the Hamilton Gymnasium stage at the University of Denver. Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” played (with the singer/songwriter manager’s approval) as Sanders was introduced to the standing-room-only crowd that spilled into an atrium and a nearby lacrosse field outside.
This news comes after last week's unauthorized use of Neil Young’s song "Rockin’ In The Free World" by Donald Trump during his U.S. presidential candidate announcement.

More on Neil Young’s song "Rockin’ In The Free World" What the song communicates.

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Happy Father's Day! Neil Young, "Old Man" & The Story Behind The Song + PODCAST: Thrasher's Wheat Radio - 6/20/15

Happy Father's Day!

Neil Young's "Old Man" seems an appropriate song for the day.

From BBC 1971.... back when Neil was a young man ...

look at how time flies past....

i'm a lot like you were...

From his 1972 album Harvest, "Old Man" is definitely one of Mr Young's most enduring songs of all time with brilliant banjo and steel guitar. James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt provide backing vocals.

The song was inspired by the caretaker of the Northern California Broken Arrow Ranch, which Young purchased for $350,000 in 1970 when he was just 25 years old.

The song has themes of loneliness and lost love: "Live alone in a paradise that makes me think of two" recalled with a certain pain "love lost/such a cost/give me things that don't get lost."

Yet Neil searches on for that oh-so elusive heart of gold:

"I need someone to love me the whole day through
Oh one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true."
In the film "Heart of Gold", Young introduces the song as follows:
About that time when I wrote (Heart of Gold), and I was touring, I had also -- just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time -- I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today.

And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avala and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there's this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, 'Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?'

And I said, 'Well, just lucky, Louie, just real lucky.' And he said, 'Well, that's the darndest thing I ever heard.'

And I wrote this song for him.
Although some have serious reservations the song is about a ranch hand and more likely to really be about Neil's own father, Scott Young being the real "old man" behind the song.

The "Old Man" Louis Avala & Neil Young
1970 Dutch documentary film by Wim Van der Linden
So happy father's Dad ... from a not so young man to our old man...

The "Old Man" Louis Avala
YouTube - Neil Young - Old Man - Live at Massey Hall
Also, watch & listen to why Neil Young will never sing "Old Man" with a band again.

And here are a few more appropriate Neil Young Father's Day songs...
(Thanks Ralf B.!)

- "Daddy Went Walking"
- "Far From Home" ("Daddy took an old guitar and sang ...")
- Sixty To Zero (talk to my daddy On the telephone ...")
- Don't Be Denied ("daddy's leavin' home today ...")
- Prairie Wind ("Tryin' to remember what my Daddy said ..."
‎- This Old House ("thinking 'bout daddy, And how he always made things work ...")

A Father, A Son, and A Project

Anders and his Neil Pinewood Derby Entry
(Click photo to enlarge)

Over the past few days -- we and many, many others -- ponder how did we get to this sea of madness?

And where do we go from here?

Well, we certainly don't have any better answers than others or all the "talking head experts" who are so consistently so wrong, about so much, so often.

Which brings us to this touching note (via The Guitar Refinishing and Restoration Forum :: This year's Pinewood Derby Car...), we received awhile back and felt like sharing.

From a father who proudly helped his son, a Boy Scout, complete a Neil-themed pinewood derby car. Anders ( age 11) is with a Cub Scout in Minnesota and is a big Neil Young fan and guitar player. He's also a big fan of Neil's Old Black guitar since he was 5 when he played harmonica for his dad's band on a cover version of "Flags of Freedom" at a benefit gig in Minnesota.

Anders' Pinewood Derby car was pretty slow in competition but he won a trophy in the best Not-a-Car category. As the Father said, "My son continues to Keep Rocking in the Free World."

To which we say, love and only love.

Thanks Ray "Old Black"!

Best of luck.

ps - yes, we've hugged the ones we love today.
Podcast from last night on Thrasher's Wheat Radio on Wbkm Dot Org, with Neil Young coverage, discussion and analysis is now ready for download here.

Don't be denied!

Tune in details and podcast info @ Thrashers Wheat Radio Hour.

Thrasher's Wheat Radio
Tune in on WBKM.org, Saturdays @ 9P EST

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Willie for a Nobel!

Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize
for Farm Aid and his work on
alternative fuels, and world peace initiatives.

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Neil Young FAQ:
Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
"an indispensable reference"

Paul McCartney and Neil Young


"You can make a difference
If you really a try"

John Lennon and Neil Young

"hailed by fans as a wonderful read"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
The Supergroup of the 20th Century

eddie & neil
Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

Revisiting The Significance of
The Buffalo Springfield

"The revolution will not be televised"
... it will be blogged, streamed,
tweeted, shared and liked
The Embarrasment of Mainstream Media

Turn Off Your TV

2014 Neil Young Year in Review:
Yes, Only Love Can Break (& Fix) Your Heart

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain and Neil Young

Neil Young's Feedback:
An Acquired Taste?

Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years
by Rustie Sharry "Keepin' Jive Alive in T.O." Wilson

"the definitive source of Neil Young's formative childhood years in Canada"

neil & joni
Joni Mitchell & Neil Young

europe 1987.jpg

Bob and Neil

So Who Really Was "The Godfather of Grunge"?

Four Dead in Ohio
kent state
So What Really Happened at Kent State?


dissent is not treason
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

Rockin' In The Free World

speak truth to power

Emmylou Harris and Neil Young

Wilco and Neil Young


Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young


Elton John and Neil Young

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young

Neil Young Nation -
"The definitive Neil Young fan book"

What does the song mean?

Random Neil Young Link of the Moment
I'm Proud to Be A Union Man


When Neil Young is Playing,
You Shut the Fuck Up

Class War:
They Started It and We'll Finish It...

A battle raged on the open page...
No Fear, No Surrender. Courage

"What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees?"

"I've Got The Revolution Blues"

Willie Nelson & Neil Young
Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize

John Mellencamp:
Why Willie Deserves a Nobel


Love and Only Love

"Thinking about what friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie"

We're All On
A Journey Through the Past

Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong?
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Occupy the Music

Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?




(Between the lines of age)