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The OWS movement is gaining traction in almost every country save for the usual repressive regimes, and Canada (too damn nice!) I am incredibly encouraged, as you are, about this new kind of revolution and some of us DFH are ecstatic as it reminds us of the long anti-war marches and endless sits-ins of the turbulent Sixties.

Besides a political objective, sitting or occupying for long stretches of time requires not only time, determination and stamina but one needs to be fueled by solids, water and/or caffeinated propellants. Remember the old Napoleon dictum!

I recall of a particularly bitter cold November afternoon in Paris, circa 1969, a few weeks before departing for sunny Sydney: some two hundred of us were sitting & shivering outside the American embassy protesting the Vietnam war. After a few minutes we were told to move on by the policemen patrolling the embassy grounds and warned that the feared CRS special police forces were on the way. The year before that (during the fabled May 1968 students riots) the CRS took to the streets of the Latin Quarter and battled whoever came into their paths with ferocity so it was with trepidation that we listened to the two men who had organized the protest for direction. At that (unforgettable) moment, several women carrying large baskets came out of nowhere and began distributing grilled chicken sandwiches with runny cheese , hot dogs and coffee. Not a word was spoken, a simple handing out, a few smiles and they disappeared as quickly as they came. This was several years before the random acts of kindness movement took hold. Emboldened by this amazing gesture (and a half-full stomach) we decided to stay put and wait it out, the upshot being that no one came to beat us up and having made our point, we left of our own will a few hours later.

And that's where we can help and do our bit for the Occupy movement: organize via social networks, prepare and hand out sandwiches and hot drinks as the winter sets in.

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In today's world, where so many wake up in poverty and go to sleep hungry, each of us should ask: "how can I change this?" It is a sin to waste food while others do not have enough to eat. Every year the food waste in America alone can feed over 50 million people per year. Here's an example: if a farmer grows 100,000 pounds of tomatoes, usually about half of them must be thrown away, 50,000 pounds down the drain. This is because if a tomato is slightly misshapen, discolored, too small (or too big), or blemished in any way, it will not meet the consumer demand for a "perfect" tomato and will therefore be rejected, as will other vegetable produce: this is true for many fruit and vegetable crops. To prevent tons of produce from being rejected by picky customers (and supermarkets buyers), crops are "culled" (hand sorted) after they are picked. So about half goes into the truck on its way to the store and the other half goes into another truck straight to the dump, or destined to be plowed under and sprayed with insecticide.

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As of 2011, 1.3 billion tons of food, about one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually.

As you know the food being thrown away is not rotten or bad in any way and could find its way to needy folks with proper organization and means of distribution. And then we have the huge waste from the supermarkets and to a lesser volume, the restaurants, fast food outlets and just about every eatery in any shape or form.

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Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 04:59 PM PDT

WYFP: False Advertising

by Patric Juillet

We have all fallen prey to false advertising, often buying a product from a reputable company and ending up with a dud. I did just that two months ago: I bought a pair of Reebok "easy tone" and ended up with a particularly sore foot within two weeks while walking my canines. Like everyone, I'm bombarded daily by advertising everywhere I happen to be, from the television ads at home to “sponsored links” in Facebook, slide adverts in banks & shops, on the buses, in trains, even in taxicabs, and if that won't get to you there are publicity campaigns afoot via texts and tons, literally, of flyers clogging up mailboxes with promises of a better life awaiting a single purchase of the most amazing elixir man/woman has ever known ad nauseam, or in my case, a pair of shoes which will, magically, tone up my legs as I take my evening walk and make Hollywood stars tremble with envy.

WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?

Sure, we know that in order to sell their products advertisers strive to make them look as good as possible, using puffery and weasel words like "better", "unbelievable", "finest" et cetera. My dictionary defines “deception” as a form of trickery involving the selling of goods or services to consumers. However puffing and weasel words are generally not considered deceptive in the eyes of the law chiefly because prospective buyers should be savvy enough to avoid being caught. Savvy? Lovely word. Except when one is not. When the major banks & financial institutions call you and sweet talk into remortgaging at an exceptionally low rate the un-savvy (the vulnerable) will fall for their cheap tricks...but that's another post.

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 03:16 PM PDT

Good News, Everyone!

by Patric Juillet

Good news, really? Well, I've been writing so many bleak water diaries for so long (I am sure you are well versed about the current water scarcity, desertification and Climate Change) that I need to cheer myself up (and you) with one  - major - positive development. I have great faith in humanity and this post is dedicated to the good folks out there bursting their synapses coming up with novel ways of making the world less dependent on fossil fuels, fighting for water rights, working out solutions to feed the planet and generally trying to make this earth a better place (if you look at the human brain from say, 150,000 years ago, you will not see much difference when compared with today's brains. Yet the drive to learn, as well as our ability to communicate and work collectively, has lifted our human potential to unimaginable levels.)

For quite some time I have been following the efforts of Ireland-based entrepreneur Pat Farrelly of Aqua-Nu, and his revolutionary water filtration devices. Why is it important? Click on the above link. Mr Farrelly (who, by the way, is completely self-taught in the world of ceramic technology) has come up with a method of filtering water through ceramic which works roughly 700 times faster than anything else currently manufactured.

Note that I have absolutely no financial interest in his company but a huge admiration for what he has achieved.

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KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and/or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be splayed or neutered or sent to Limbo.

Hello everyone. Our friend plf515 quipped that enuresis aka bedwetting may not be a disability. Well, here I am to make a stand for all the bedwetters of the world, young and old: if you think it is a small problem that goes away with time you are misinformed. In fact, it does not always disappear with maturity and is a problem that quite a few adults face. Well, some, not all of us. Bedwetting is rife and leads to emotional turmoil particularly with young people moving into adolescence and beyond. The one thing bedwetters have in common is a mortal fear of being found out, and are horrified when asked to sleep over at friends and/or sleep in a summer camp among other kids for fear of being exposed and made a joke of (see my own story below).

Follow me for my recollection of a young whippersnapper caught in a cavalcade of nocturnal nightmares. I have included a couple of excerpts from my book in which I purposely made light fun of this pesky habit as I am one of those who sees a silver lining in every dark cloud.

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Tue Jul 05, 2011 at 12:19 PM PDT

Banks Driving People to Suicide

by Patric Juillet

Catchy title, eh? Sadly, it's true. In Ireland a study came out and was reported yesterday in the Irish Times as Banks driving people to alcoholism and suicides.

This is not the first article of its kind I have read. In the last 12 months I have noted an increase in alcoholism (ok, the world drinks more, given that it is perhaps the last refuge for the poor and those on the way to poverty) and suicides caused by a chronic lack of money, money to pay rent or a mortgage, money to put food on the table, money to pay the rapacious banks, and when I say rapacious, I mean rapacious: the banks here have upped the mortgage rate by a whopping 1 and a half % in the last 15 months even though the EU Central bank has not. In other words, as the last sentence of the linked article says:

“Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling with debts they can’t sustain while bankers, brokers and solicitors are still partying.”

Note that the first link does not work, I've tried several times. If you Google the Irish Times and insert the title it will come through, somehow.

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 01:52 PM PDT

Good News, Everyone! NOT.

by Patric Juillet

A couple of years ago, under my old AAF handle I did a good news diary:

Being a Futurama fan, I've always wanted to say this but could not find the propitious moment. Writing about water scarcity & food shortages is taxing and angers me at times particularly when I come across disheartening news caused by blatant greed and callous disregard for our planet.
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Well, I wanted to do another one. I searched and searched for some good news on water and became depressed. The water news are grim. Let me show you in a few sentences from around the world how dire the situation is:

Fresh water supplies are going to run out, so what can we do to make the taps keep running?
A fellow environmentalist, Brian Fagan, asked this question and wrote a book, a must read book titled A HUMAN HISTORY OF WATER (Bloomsbury)
A billion of us currently go hungry because there is not enough water to grow food. Much of the world's water is still unpriced, but it is now the most valuable commodity in the world. To compound the problem, 60 per cent of the world's people live in crowded river basins shared by several countries, often with daggers drawn
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Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 12:47 PM PDT

The Seven Billion of Us

by Patric Juillet

Our world will hit 7 billion people by the end of October. Yep, 7 billion living souls! The seven billionth baby is likely to be delivered in India, which accounts for a fifth of all global births, on October 31 (according to the UN's Dr Babatunde Osotimehin).

That means a serious strain on natural resources, like water, to feed agricultural needs at a time when droughts are being felt all over the globe and desertification spreads its scorched tentacles at a rapid pace. To make matters worse, austerity programs among developed nations are likely to cut the meagre funds available that could be used to contribute food to the poorest nations.

According to the most recent "Global Wealth Report" by Credit Suisse, the wealthiest 0.5% control over 35% of the wealth of the world (if you'd like to read about divergence of wealth distribution and bang your collective heads, open up the link, it's a telling pdf)

We could very well take care of ourselves were it not for the lack of vision from ossified politicians and the sclerotic, rapacious greed from the money changers of this world.

If I were President of the world, my first priority would be: education and empowering women. Investing in the rights of women and the health of young people should be main driving force for a sustainable future, not spending more on defense and waging dubious, foreign wars ad nauseam. Climate change is of course intertwined with water scarcity and has been clearly identified - and undeniably - as the premier issue of our time; it has been written about relentlessly, as it should, by prominent posters on these boards, and it's even making inroads on the front page (MB, LL). But this piece is about us, the seven billion of us and the water we're going to have to find as I keep repeating in my water diaries: no water, no life.

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Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 01:07 PM PDT

Memoirs of a Sardine Lover

by Patric Juillet

A small fishing village in the south of France, circa 1963: "Once upon a time there was this precocious kid who, having been abandoned by both his mother and father and hastily parked at a young age at his aunt's seasonal hotel, plotted to have himself (and his faithful bulldog, Youki) adopted by Hugo and Nina, an immensely talented and well known opera singers duo: they would spend six weeks at the Hotel des Anges each summer to rest their voices before their various engagements in European opera houses".

The protagonist of this tale, Fanfan Renaud, almost 13, spends the incoming Provencal summer feverishly scheming, daydreaming, dancing with the Gypsies, eating sardines and anointing his plethora of private goddesses:

I thought of Artemis and Aphrodite a great deal too but my favourite
was Perséphone, the green-eyed Queen of the Nether world. My kind of
Goddess and my guiding light, so to speak. I was seven when I’d decided to
immodestly consecrate myself the supreme ruler of my own universe, with a
brief to enshrine women I liked into my own Parthenon. That way, I was sure to possess an endless supply of Goddesses. That very same day I’d appointed Youki to be my Lord Protector. What good was it to be a young ruler without a Lord Protector?
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Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 11:29 AM PDT

Water News You Could Use

by Patric Juillet

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

So wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his seminal work, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The irony of finding oneself completely surrounded by water unable to partake a drink is not lost on us, and that may be the future as rapidly increasing populations are expected to more than double the need for more water by 2025. What really irks me is the lack of awareness from politicians and people in general: whenever I have a conversation with a friend or a client about water scarcity, I get the same vacant look, eyes roll, and shrugs ensue. I mostly get "but we have had water for millions of years, and surely, the rain replenishes aquifers!" Hum, no. Google aquifers and you will discover an entirely different story. Clean, potable water is finite. The world's apparent warming climate has caused fresh water reserves to fall across the globe. And to make matters worse a well known idiot, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from Orange County, has an idea to battle global warming: "cut off the trees!" My head hurts at such asinine pronouncing.

To most it may seem obtuse to talk of a water crisis when we've had recent floods and deluges in some countries and yet we know water scarcity already affects 45% of the world’s population. The next twenty five years will be crucial for not only governments but food producers worldwide. The message is stark: less water, less food.

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The following linked articles and known facts are causes for concern.

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It's the time of the year when the "Tales from the Larder" series takes a summer break. As we say here in seasonal Dingle, "see you in September." Until then, I leave you with France's most popular dish, the fabled couscous. Its popularity is such that it has become the number one dish served in most regions, and the hidden beauty of it is that it can be prepared as a succulent meat dish, or as a seafood extravaganza or as a sumptuous vegetarian feast, as the pic below attests.

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For me, the traditional Algerian version, the couscous Royale (without cheese!) - with lamb, chicken, merguez, chick peas (garbanzo) and served with a steaming bowl of spicy broth laced with harissa is de rigueur. I had the good fortune of having been raised in a seasonal hotel on the Riviera, and was taught how to prepare the Berber version by one particularly genial Kabyle man, Abel, and I am grateful to this day to have had not only his friendship but also inherited his culinary taste in all things North African.

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During my days as a chef/restaurateur in Sydney I tended to look down on some traditional dishes such as Beef Bourguignon, Coq au Vin and names like Tournedos Rossini, Lobster Thermidor and just about anything with the words Cordon Bleu for good measure. Quite a few of us upcoming young turks & hot headed chefs would sneer at such fuddy daddy fare, and would make loud, derisive noises whenever we came across menus that would have those dinosaurian dishes on offer.

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Then one day, during one of my annual visit to Paris, I stumbled upon this "new" eatery in Montparnasse and ate one of the most memorable meal: a medley of well known and well tried dishes & diehard traditionals, lovingly cooked and presented. Its menu was an exercise in simplicity & brevity: six appetizers, six main courses and six divine desserts. The menu changed every three months, reflecting the seasons and staying perilously close to Escoffier's highly codified French cuisine.

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