Bruce Melton :
Microsoft on climate: The game changer

Historic climate pollution emissions almost everyone missed.

Dune erosion from sea level rise on South Padre Island wilderness beach, 13 miles beyond the end of pavement. The similarly sloped surf facing dune angles reveal sandbergs calving into the surf. For the last decade or two, sea level rise has been eroding our beaches. Now the beaches have been eroded away and the surf is in the dunes. Next, the surf moves into the coastal plains and resource abandonment becomes critical. Photo by Bruce Melton / The Rag Blog.

By Bruce Melton | The Rag Blog | February 3, 2020

Microsoft going net zero by 2030 is a tremendously insightful action, but what’s truly groundbreaking and ever so much more important today, 30 years after we began trying to solve the climate pollution problem through the extinction of the fossil fuel industry, is that Microsoft is now addressing the most important part of the climate reform equation — historic emissions: the climate pollution that remains in our sky.

This is a first-ever declaration to take responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions in the past and the vast majority of the press totally missed it, except for NPR. The headline with Microsoft should not have been “Microsoft to go Net Zero by 2030,” but the much more profound, “Microsoft to remove all their historic climate pollution from the sky by 2050.”
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Jonah Raskin :
Hail! Hail! John Sinclair

And Rock ‘n’ Roll…

John Sinclair, October 20, 2008. Photo by Wayne Dabney /
Wikimedia Commons.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | December 17, 2019

Forty-eight years ago, John Lennon, with Yoko at his side, sang the words, “They gave him ten for two, what else could Judge Colombo do?”

He sang those words before 15,000 people on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Him” was John Sinclair. “Ten” was the number of years that Judge Robert Colombo sentenced Sinclair to Jackson State Prison, and “two” was the number of joints Sinclair had in his possession when an undercover cop busted him.

On December 1, 2019, Sinclair stood at the head of the line at Arbors Wellness, a brand new licensed cannabis dispensary in Ann Arbor and made a legal purchase of a handful of joints for which he paid in cash $160.35. It was a happy ending for cannabis activists in Michigan, and for the founder of the White Panther Party, who was a poet, a bohemian, and a beatnik before he became a Sixties rebel. 

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Alice Embree :
BOOKS | ‘Odd Birds’

The book is a fictional coming of age story set in San Antonio.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | December 17, 2019

Listen to Thorne Dreyer’s November 25, 2019 Rag Radio interview with Severo Perez about his new book, Odd Birds.

Judge this book by its cover. It is stunning. And Severo Perez’ Odd Birds is a captivating read.

Odd Birds [TCU Press, Fort Worth, 2019] is a fictional coming of age story, the tale of three young library interns, an older displaced artist, and the city of San Antonio.  Set in 1961, in the town where the author was raised, we experience a small town on the cusp of change.

Cosimo Infante Cano, a Cuban artist, has arrived with only a courier bag, his luggage stolen before he boarded the train out of Chicago’s Union Station.  The 70-year-old artist has come to Texas to join the longtime lover he has shared a life with in Paris.  But, he can’t make contact with her.  He can’t access the trunks he shipped to her address.  He has only the clothes he intended to wear on the train — a peasant shirt, beachcomber pants, red sandals, and his weathered courier bag.  He also wears a mysterious watch that was given to him by the woman he is trying to find.
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The Rag Blog :
METRO EVENT | TeXchromosome benefit features live performance by women artists

Event: Fundraiser for TeXchromosome
What: Live music, Funky Fleamarket, Silent Auction
When: Saturday, December 14,1-7 p.m.
Where: Peace House Farm
Address: 709 Emerald Wood Dr., Austin, TX 78745
Music: (In order) Pauline Reese, Emily Grace Clark, Shelley King, Noelle Hampton, Elizabeth Lee, Christina Christian
Admission: Donation at the door supports TeXchromosome

There will be a benefit for TeXchromosome — an organization that empowers women artists by showcasing their talents — at the Peace House Farm, 709 Emerald Wood Dr. in Austin on Saturday, December 14, from 1-7 p.m.
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Alice Embree :
Houston’s historic ‘Space City!’ to get
new life

’60s-’70s underground paper to be digitized, featured in NJP book.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | December 5, 2019

In 1969, Space City News, a newly minted underground newspaper, hit the streets and newsstands of Houston, Texas. The cover featured Pancho Villa who shared the same birthday with the paper, June 5.

On January 17, 1970, the paper’s name changed to Space City!, after a UFO newsletter with the same name threatened to sue. Space City! was published biweekly until April of 1971 when it began as a weekly publication. The final issue was August 3, 1972.
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Jonah Raskin :
Street fighting man

The night New York City cops beat me bloody.

The author after being assaulted by NYPD cops, 1969. Photo: Pacific Street Films / CounterPunch

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | December 2, 2019

I know your eyes are glued to the circus in D.C. and the slaughter that’s taking place in Afghanistan and half-a-dozen other places in a world that’s on fire. I’m paying close attention, too. I’m also paying attention to my strangely electrifying memories of the night I was arrested and beaten by a dozen or so New York City cops until I was black and black, my skull cracked open and bones broken.

There have been worse beating since then, but at the time the ACLU said it was the worst beating in NYC history. Fifty years later, some of my bones haven’t healed; several fingers are crooked and a near-constant reminder of the occasion when my pal, Robert Reilly, and I were detained for hours in two precincts in Manhattan and worked over, so to speak, at the behest of John Finnegan, known informally as “Captain Jack,” the head of the infamous Red Squad, which was the subject, decades ago, of a documentary by Joel Sucher (of Pacific Street Films).
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James Retherford :

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Maxine Phillips :
BOOKS | Love in the twilight of capitalism

The story may be set in Finland, but the
plot is universal.

Cover of Me, Mikko, and Annikki.

By Maxine Phillips | The Rag Blog | September 3, 2019

[Me, Mikko, and Annikki, A Community Love Story in a Finnish City, by Tiitu Takalo, translated by Michael Demson and Helena Halmari, afterword by Paul Buhle, North Atlantic Books, 2019]

A young woman and man lift hammer and paintbrush in (perhaps) unconscious homage to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” or some propaganda poster of socialist realism as they stand in front of their recently renovated home. Behind those triumphant gestures lies the long, intricate love story of the title.

This nonfiction comic from Finland promises two love stories: one personal, one political, and both entwined. The first is between the “Me” and Mikko of the title. The author, a well-known feminist artist, falls for Mikko, an engineering student (horrors!!) who pursues her with a wry doggedness. The second is between the two of them and Annikki, a housing co-op whose history Takalo traces through the Middle Ages, industrialization, and up to the present day.
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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | ‘I am the chosen one!’

Previous installments are archived at
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Ivan Koop Kuper :
A candid portrait of Daniel DeWitt
Thomas, Part 2

The making of the 13th Floor Elevators’ album, ‘Bull of the Woods.’

Danny Thomas.

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | August 21, 2019

HOUSTON — A third studio album followed the 13th Floor Elevators’ groundbreaking psych classic, Easter Everywhere. However, when the time came to begin recording again, the band was in the process of unraveling. With limited input from Tommy Hall and Roky Erickson, the responsibility to complete the new album and to fulfill the band’s contractual obligation with their record label, now lay squarely on the collective shoulders of Stacy Sutherland and Danny Thomas.

The Elevator’s final album, Bull of the Woods, is largely regarded as a Stacy Sutherland solo album with limited songwriting contributions from Erickson, Hall, and even Ronnie Leatherman. By the time production began on what is considered the Elevators’ swan song, bassist Danny Galindo had already resigned from his duties in the band and returned to San Antonio.
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Bruce Melton :
Tree planting: A diminishing part of the climate solution

This article looks at what is called nature-based carbon dioxide removal.

A mountainside killed by native bark beetles in Jasper National Park. Across North America, 96 million acres of forest have been mostly killed by a native bark beetle driven berserk because of warming. This is an area the size of New England, New York and New Jersey combined. U.S Forest Service Data shows that U.S national forests are now dying at a rate that is twice as fast as they are growing. Photo by Bruce Melton / The Rag Blog.

By Bruce Melton | The Rag Blog | August 20, 2019

While tree planting has long been a substantial nature-based part of the climate pollution challenge, increasingly we are finding that both existing and future warming are creating a reality where these long-held forest truths are no longer valid. Not only has current warming reduced the viability of forests to store carbon, future warming on our way to the widely held best-case warming scenario of 1.5 C will further reduce forests’ ability to store carbon.

A recent academic publication suggests planting (about a trillion) trees “remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation.” A recent media push for an organization called Trillion Trees, relies on similar logic. Oh, if this were true. Rebuttals can be found here, here, and here. The bottom line is that the academic work behind the trillion tree solution is far from valid.
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Michael Simmons :
Paul Krassner: Nun smooching in America

Krassner chronicled his satirical pranks in his self-published magazine, The Realist.

Paul Krassner at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, 2009. Photo by Heidi De Vries / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0.

By Michael Simmons | The Rag Blog | August 14, 2019


When I was 12-years old in 1967, my father Matty Simmons published Cheetah — a slick magazine designed for what the press called “hippies.” It was a fine publication — top-shelf scribes like Tom Nolan, Robert Christgau, and Ellen Willis contributed, editor Jules Siegel ran his legendary “Goodbye Surfing, Hello God” profile that announced to the world that Brian Wilson was a mentally ill genius and Mama Cass Elliot doffed her oversized duds and posed nude for a centerfold. But “slick” and “hippies” were oxymoronic and Cheetah tanked at the newsstand, folding in a year.

Though I was but a lad, I was paying attention and there was one contributor whose writings and exploits inspired in me a special delight that appealed to remnants of my mischievous childhood and a more sophisticated analysis of the ever so fucked-up world. That satirical terrorist was Paul Krassner.
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