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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

IsaacCordalBerlinSculpture_PoliticiansDiscussingGlobalWarming
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

_______________________

Introduction

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:”

ScreamOfTheEarth

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:

NuclearExplosion

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.

CountYourMoney

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.”)

FukushimaCuke

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.”

Posada

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:

“’Nothing.’”

EdgarMitchell


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

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15 Comments:

At 6/27/2015 09:55:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Thrash,

Not to quibble too much, but Jim Farber in the Daily News didn't question Neil's views or his credentials to voice them. He said that Neil:

"sinks decent riffs and an earnest message in unlistenably didactic lyrics."

That says it better than my recent rants. I don't strongly agree or disagree with Neil's overall message or beliefs here, but the lyrics are simply embarrassing. They aren't song lyrics, they are his literal feelings written down and then forced to be combined with music and voice.

Regarding the interesting environmental, philosophical and scientific thoughts in the post, the genie is definitely out of the bottle. On micro and macro matters, we as individuals, and as a species, and the earth as a whole are all here for a finite period of time. Thankfully though, as a people and a planet, we're still likely to be here for millions or billions of years. After that, it's onto another planet..

To me, our biggest problems (in no particular order) are:

Racism
Sexism/Wage Inequality
Anti-Semitism
Religious Zealots/Terrorism
Ignorance
Poverty
Hunger/Thirst
Infectious Diseases

Global warming is real, but I also feel there's a built in elasticity to it, so it doesn't really cause me any sleepless nights.

Just my opinions--I could be wrong and I could change my mind tomorrow...

 
At 6/28/2015 02:40:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

I don't think Neil has the gravitas for these subjects, demonstrated by the simplicity of the lyrics. It's as if someone had a word in his ear and influenced this record - who could that be? The recent photos of Neil on 'holiday' gives us an insight to this perhaps. At the end of the day I'm sure he feels strongly about these subjects at the moment - but heck the songs are just not good enough.

 
At 6/28/2015 09:38:00 AM, Blogger Art Carey said...

Absolutely agree with TopangaDaze about Farber's review.

 
At 6/28/2015 09:39:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@ TopangaDaze - fair point on Jim Farber in the Daily News. We probably took too much of a shortcut from Farber's laundry list on Monsanto Years to Moti Nissani's article. That said, the point was that here are some rather major threads running through Monsanto Years that many think, awake & conscious folks are concerned about as well.

As for the simple lyrics, Micah Nelson said it best: "The time for subtle lyrics is long past." It's one minute to midnight in the garden of good & evil.

And thanks for your list of concerns. So who do you think is singing finely crafted songs on those topics these days? Serious question.

@Andy - We don't find your point valid. This isn't his latest fashion statement. Neil has been singing about these subjects long before the goldrush...

 
At 6/28/2015 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Perhaps new meaning to the phrase, "just singing a song won't change the world" ... so he's singing a rant :) instead of a "song" ... fits w Micha's comment ... song too subtle to make a difference ... he wants it in people's face ... totally different agenda here, this music is purposely more direct and assertive and will disappoint those who want the present to be like the past ... classic Neil turning the tables and giving us what we think we don't want :) ... the trick will be whether in time as we get more comfortable with it will it age well or not ... seems like this protest trilogy is something like ditch II ... I think that the output over the past 10 years had a fair amount of poetic substance in it (CD II, Le Noise, StoryTone, PP) ... so this literal kick strikes me more as deliberate than washed up ... I'm still betting with time this will all fall nicely into context within the span of his career ... not saying this will be my favorite album (jury still out for me) ... but totally understand all the gripes it just proves Neil is still Neil and over time that's proven to be a good thing ...

 
At 6/28/2015 02:52:00 PM, Blogger nick said...

Thrasher wrote: "As for the simple lyrics, Micah Nelson said it best: "The time for subtle lyrics is long past." It's one minute to midnight in the garden of good & evil."

I respectfully disagree. If Neil spent a little more time crafting his songs, his MESSAGE would resonate with so many more people. Isn't that the point?

No one's suggesting he write lyrics so subtle that no one knows what he's singing about, but surely there's a middle ground where the lyrics are both poetic and political. Judging by many of the recent comments here and some of the reviews of the new album, many people are turned off Neil's new music simply because of the lyrics, despite some catchy melodies and good performances.

The funny thing is: surely Neil must know this. So either he doesn't really want his music to connect with people (unlikely), or he's no longer capable of writing good lyrics (hard to believe), or perhaps he's simply not aware of how trite some of his recent lyrics really are (my guess). If you're a famous rock star surrounded by people who constantly tell you how great you are and how you can do no wrong, after a while you might start to believe it and assume that anything you write must have the mark of genius.

Of course Neil can do whatever he wants, he doesn't owe us anything, but as a fan it's frustrating knowing that if he just spent a little more time working on his songs, especially the lyrics, his message would be heard by so many more people.

 
At 6/28/2015 04:26:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Art - see you on the rail in Camden next month?

@Nick - As always, thanks for the measured rebuttal.

Actually, don't you think that Neil fully addresses this concern in the song " People Want To Hear About Love"?
"People want to hear songs of love
People want to hear about love

Don't talk about the Chevron millions going to the pipeline politicians
People want to hear about love

Don't talk about the beautiful fish in the deep blue sea, dyin'
People want to hear about love

People want to hear about love now
If it will make them feel all right"

Not that this is ever the last word or anything, but haven't we agreed that whenever folks are not pleased with what Neil is doing, it's more a reflection of the critic than Neil? We firmly believe that Neil is doing exactly what he wants. These songs are not the result of being surrounded by adoring groupies. Sure, if Briggs were there he would have chastised Neil about some clumsy rhymes. So be it.

btw, James Taylor just released his 1st album of new songs in over 12 years. That's a very long time. It is a nicely crafted album. Maybe Taylor is giving folks songs About Love, which is great. But he's not challenging his fans and confronting them with the tough question: "Who's gonna stand up?"

And right now, here @ TW, we see some folks sitting on their hands. (No disrespect intended or implied.)

peace

 
At 6/28/2015 04:46:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Dissenting voices are few here...so I guess it's not a forum.

@ TW who are WE?

 
At 6/28/2015 05:50:00 PM, Blogger John EH Connelly said...

Four dead in Ohio , a relevant protest song of it's day .

Safeway bread , Starbucks coffee ........ WOW , what a protest , how relevant to the times .

Nine dead in Charleston ....... where is the relevant protest song Mr Soul ?

Not being an American , I really don't understand ...... what is it ?...... Is Mr Earth having to pander his latest sales to gun toting , getter done Southern boys he has surrounded with of late .
Transparency

 
At 6/28/2015 07:39:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Regrets to be off comment,

short Crosby video on CSNY:

http://videos.huffingtonpost.com/healthy-living/david-crosby-talks-neil-young-i-seriously-doubt-csny-will-ever-reunite-518909173

 
At 6/28/2015 08:57:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Thrash,

I feel that lyrically the two key songs on the album are "People Want to Hear About Love" and "If I didn't Know" to get a sense of what Neil is really thinking and worrying about.

As far as I'm concerned, people don't want to hear about love, they want to hear good songs. (At least I think that applies to most Neil fans.) This could have been a very good song, but instead we get passages where Neil is talk-ranting, not singing, and it's an overall poor mix of vocals and music.

What really stands out to me is the following stanza from "If I Didn't Know":

And if the melodies stay pretty
And the songs are not too long
I'll try to find a way to get them back to you

Unless I'm missing something, it seems to me he's saying that lyrically and musically he's hit a dry patch from which he may not be able to recover. The word "try" is very telling to me--he has his doubts that he'll be able to deliver again. It's certainly an understandable sentiment when combined with his advancing age and the dementia problems his "daddy" experienced.

Again, that's why I really think he needs to work more on his craft until the quality is there. As weak as most of the songs are on this album (to my ears), there are several examples where a little editing and patience would have produced much more meaningful and memorable music. Instead, the "finished" product lacks melody, contains strained vocals beyond what's acceptable (to me), and has several instances where the music completely overwhelms his voice and words (which are supposed to be saying something).

It could have been a good to very good album, but he refused to commit, or committed to intentional sloppiness. Either way, I feel he did a disservice to his music and message.

Tomorrow's another day, and I'll still be listening...

 
At 6/29/2015 01:00:00 AM, Blogger Robert Bard said...

I have this to say about Neil's most recent musical offerings:1-There's been a lot of product from him. 2-I don't believe that any of these offerings have the BOOM ! impact of his best work. 3-If I could have a conversation with Neil,I would say this to him: "Slow down.Edit.Re-edit.Listen with your best ears and with the highest expectations. Release your music when you KNOW it's great.Every song.Every album.The world doesn't need five "OK" Neil Young albums in 3 years.They need one GREAT one.What's your rush---Father Time ? Screw him.Do it the RIGHT WAY irregardless...we're ALL "day to day." Thanks for all the amazing music.Rock on,Neil."

 
At 6/29/2015 02:37:00 AM, Blogger Robert Bard said...

I have this to say about Neil's most recent musical offerings:1-There's been a lot of product from him. 2-I don't believe that any of these offerings have the BOOM ! impact of his best work. 3-If I could have a conversation with Neil,I would say this to him: "Slow down.Edit.Re-edit.Listen with your best ears and with the highest expectations. Release your music when you KNOW it's great.Every song.Every album.The world doesn't need five "OK" Neil Young albums in 3 years.They need one GREAT one.What's your rush---Father Time ? Screw him.Do it the RIGHT WAY irregardless...we're ALL "day to day." Thanks for all the amazing music.Rock on,Neil."

 
At 6/29/2015 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Paul Smith said...

Big corporate medicine had also been tied to the trap of "Specialization is often accompanied by Tunnel Vision" - for example, it had been described in the "science" in favor of mammography where evidence is arbitrarily (=conveniently) used according to whether it supports profitable medical dogmas and ideologies (see "The Mammogram Myth" by Rolf Hefti - more at http://www.supplements-and-health.com/mammograms.html ).

 
At 6/30/2015 09:18:00 AM, Blogger Keith Burris said...

Thank-you, Thrasher for the public service of this post and your hard work putting it together

 

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John Lennon and Neil Young


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The Supergroup of the 20th Century



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So What Really Happened at Kent State?

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"Powderfinger"
What does the song mean?

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Love and Only Love

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The Essence of "The Doubters"



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