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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

* NEWS * The Rural World Has an End

It's kind of scary when the business community is finally waking up to the threats of global warming. The fact companies are finally taking notice is a sign that lifestyles as we know them may start changing soon.

Economics has traditionally considered the environment to be an externality. This means it's a constant variable (never ending) in an equation. What happens when economists realize that variable isn’t constant (the world is reaching it’s natural limits for human consumption)? Well, businesses start to get their panties in a bunch.

Listen to this article from marketplace and see how the Carbon Disclosure Project is a survey of some of the most powerful companies in the world. Four years ago many companies saw this project as another annoying environmental project. Less than half even responded to the survey then. Last year about 3/4 of the companies responded and even more will respond this year. This site is the largest registry of corporate greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

The disturbing thing about all of this is that companies are looking at global warming and trying to figure out how they can profit from it. This makes sense in an economic sense but remember the cost to the environment is ignored in all GDP numbers. This short sightedness must end as the environment has an end and we can't keep consuming it at current levels.

The concept of profiting from global warming may be one of the most disturbing concepts in the world today.

Monday, March 27, 2006

* RURAL CRIME * Drive by Dumping Only Increasing

If you’ve got an old mattress you need to get rid of what do you do? Pay to take it to the dump or drive out to the country and send it flying? The latter option is free and probably more exciting than paying someone to take your trash. Thrill seekers and cheep skates are both dumping their trash at a higher rate as dumping fees keep rising. This has a very negative effect on the environment and can easily be avoided.

Check out freecycle a non-profit group created to bring local areas together to find people who want your trash. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure; free cycle is the best forum for this bit of wisdom. Freecycle has kept the equivalent of Mt. Everest in trash from going to landfills. All you have to do is join a network near you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

* RURAL COOL * Become a Virtual Farmer

Just $50 makes you a North Dakota virtual farmer for one growing season!

Farming by the Yard is a unique concept where you can be a "virtual farmer" of one square yard of North Dakotan land. This concept is similar to other forms of rural tourism with a bit of a reality show twist. The idea is to get you inside the tractor seat virtually.

Some might ask who would pay $50 just to claim a measly square yard of land?

Well, it's a way to live the farm life without all the inconvenient lifestyle issues of actually farming. Think about how romantic it is to tell people you are a virtual farmer. Surely all your friends and neighbors will grow envious. You don't meet many virtual farmers. Though, that may change soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

* RURAL NEWS * Fight back against rapid sub-urbanization with Google Earth!

Google continues to change power & playing fields with its technology. Finally there is the potential for the small guy (rural folk in place or heart) to fight against the ever-invading desires of developers and over indulgent capitalists. Sprol.com is an amazing example of this as the site documents the "Worst Places In The World" via Google Earth.

You can see industrial destruction, strip mining, poisons, and many more enticing atrocities. Using the same concept we did a quick search to find the worst sprawl in America and found the intriguing images you see here. If you want a better way to classify sprawl we recommend
A Field Guide to Sprawl. Go & find land use atrocities near you!

Monday, March 20, 2006

* RURAL COOL * - Nokturnal * Studio

Posts may be a bit sporadic for a while as I'm working on infrastructure for our real website ( www.ruralninja.com ) and Tristan is in need of a new hard drive. In the meantime, it's time to present someone with sweet skills here in preparation for the gallery that may soon include some of you. I saw this poster artist at a show in Seattle featuring many talented artists and his work was really the best that I saw. His poster you see symbolizes an aesthetic admirable to the rural urban divide. Here is some text from his website, enjoy...

"....the artist emerged sometime during the 21st century in the legendary city known as Memphis (see “Cities,” “Extinction,” “Meteor”). Employing the apt moniker Nokturnal. Carpenter transmogrified “old, by-hand art” and “new digital art” to create a unique style that proved visually penetrating to the beholder. "

Thursday, March 16, 2006

* NEWS * Time to Celebrate or Protest? National Agriculture Week!?

Every start of spring Americans might take notice of the backbone of the country’s economy - agriculture. Here at rural ninja we are skeptical of this 33-year-old event. Here is a quote straight from National Ag Day’s website:

“And it's important to remember that American agriculture is not just doing it, but doing it better and more effectively! Consider this:

* Each American farmer feeds about 129 people. America is agriculture's #1 export.


* New technology means farmers are more environmentally friendly than ever before.


That's really what this day is all about . . . recognizing the role of agriculture - and celebrating it. Thank you for joining us today!”


We’re confused how America is an export. We’re also curious who these 129 people are and how much they consume. Is it an average American or an average Cuban?

Maybe, National Agriculture Week shouldn’t be a celebration at all as the people that make agriculture happen keep getting squeezed out of the business. Maybe, we should be throwing pies rather than eating them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

FARMTOWN FLABBERGASTER: High gas prices defeat North and South in Civil War battle

SELMA, Ala. – Both the Grays and the Blues waved the white flag after high fuel prices bested both sides in an annual re-enactment of one of Alabama’s most significant Civil War battles.

Sponsors withdrew support from this year's clash because the number of re-enactors has been falling while fuel prices are rising, the Montgomery Advertiser reported this week. The re-enactment depends on Civil War buffs from as far away as Michigan to fill the Union and Confederate ranks, but long drives have taken a financial toll.

Alabama’s tourism director hopes the battle will rage again as new interest is sparked by the approaching150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The re-enactment has provided a tourism boost for the small town about 40 miles west of Montgomery.

The Battle of Selma took place in April 1865. Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, facing a superior Union force, attempted to defend the arsenal at Selma. While Forrest was defeated, the Union victory was an expensive one, and many Confederates, including Forrest, escaped.

* RURAL NEWS * Crunchy Conservatives - Powerless & Our Only Hope

Finally, there is a voice of reason within the Republican Party. Crunchy conservatives are hopefully the future of the right wing as they may be our only hope to sustain the rural way of life. In this manifesto from Rob Dreher there is hope for us rural folks. The problem…this voice of reason doesn’t equal big $$$ for the powers to be. Make sure you know readers that the current ranks of the Republican Party don’t give a damn about rural ways of life. Here are the points of the manifesto worth noting to you ninjas out there.

2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character. 3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government. 4. Culture is more important than politics and economics. 5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative. 6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract. 7. Beauty is more important than efficiency. 8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.

Monday, March 13, 2006

* RURAL PREDICTION * Rural Culture will soon only be at Disneyland

The death of anything authentically rural is almost here, as farming is becoming a tourist attraction. California is often leading the way in cultural development in the USA and rural tourism is no exception. Just past the busting waistline of the city of Beaumont, California where the endless subdivisions stop subdividing you can find a rare specimen...a farm.

Farmers are desperate enough to start hoping for agro tourism as seen in this article from the courier-journal. The farmers are working to develop "an "ag adventure" map to point out rural attractions in the San Gorgonio Pass, a swath of land between the San Bernardino National Forest and the San Jacinto Mountains. "

Here at rural ninja we're wondering what's next? Will people start traveling some distance to help in the hog lots of the Midwest to finally know where their ribs come from? Or maybe flights to Garden City, Kansas will explode so people can participate in the killing of their own cow in the country's larges cattle slaughtering house. Don't forget, the west wasn't won on salad so go out there and kill yerself a cow or two. It'll make you appreciate a good piece of meat that much more.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

*NEWS* Academy accused of rural discrimination for 'Brokeback' snub

'Brokeback Mountain' co-writer Larry Mcmurty accused the the Academy Awards this week of discriminating against rural stories after his movie lost the top cinematic award to the urban drama 'Crash.'

'Brokeback,' a tale of lovestruck cowboys, earned a sizable pile of Oscars and was considered by many critics a shoo-in for the Best Picture Award. 'Crash,' which is set in Los Angeles, was considered a longshot. But, according to Mcmurty, 'Crash' had the homefield advantage.

"Members of the Academy are mostly urban people," the Texas native said to Hollywood.com. "'Crash' was a hometown move."

Mcmurty has worked on four Oscar-nominated films including 'The Last Picture Show' and 'Terms Of Endearment.'

"The three rural films (I was involved with) lost," he added. "The one urban film, 'Terms Of Endearment,' won."

*NEWS* – Ten best rural places to live

If you’re looking to break free of the rat race, or you’re looking for a good reason why you never entered the race, check out Progressive Farmer magazine’s “Best Places to Live in Rural America.”

The magazine used a formula as well as a general sense of the “intangibles” to craft their 2006 list of the top 200 rural counties. Progressive Farmer’s statistic crunching including cost of living, crime, air quality, access to health care, education and leisure activities.

NUMBER 1 - Ontario County, New York: While this part of western New York state is blessed with an abundance of scenic mountains, lakes and fertile farmland, the editors at Progressive Farmer say it’s “the people and communities” that earned Ontario County the blue ribbon.

“Instead of just relying on what they've been given--a great resource in the land--they have worked together to make the most of it and to preserve it,” according to the magazine.

Agriculture is apparently holding steady against the tide of development spreading from nearby Rochester. Tourists are playing a major role in this, attracted in part by the county’s claim: “Grape Pie Capital of the World.” It’s a title few rivals are likely to challenge. But, apparently, cooking up Concord grape concoctions helps pull in about 100,000 visitors during the month-long grape harvest.

Never one to settle for one title belt, Ontario County also boasts that it is also “Cabbage Capital of the World.” Squash, beans and corn also grow well here, and good wines are easily had.

Progressive Farmer pays particular homage to the county’s smooth-running local governments and political-minded farmers willing to take a stand to preserve their rural lifestyle.

“(F)arms here are still farms,” the magazine states. “They haven't all been divided into 40-acre parcels and then cut into 10-acre plots. Residents place a high priority on keeping their rural roots. Farmers are a big part of the government, and they decided some years ago to limit housing development on good farmland. Yes, most people call it zoning, but it was done by bottom-up planning from local communities, not top-down from county officials.”

NUMBER 2 - Union County, South Dakota: South Dakota in the number two spot? Well, kind of. Union County is so tightly tucked in the Mount Rushmore State’s southeast corner that the magazine should probably give Iowa and Nebraska some credit as positive influences. Progressive Farmer awarded this county the No. 2 spot for its wide horizons, soda fountains, white steeples, soybeans and grazing cattle. Also, its “schools are good, its towns neat and its people friendly.” Still not sold? Well, Union is in close proximity to a number of light manufacturing centers that have “helped create the planned community of Dakota Dunes with its golf course, medical center and shops.”

Ugh. On to number 3….

NUMBER 3 - Oconee County, Georgia: If you lick this north Georgia county you’ll likely not miss its savory “small town flavor.” What’s the recipe? Plenty of rivers, buildings aged to perfection, heaps of brainy youngins’, family farms sprinkled liberally throughout and a few “beatific country homes” to spice it up a bit.

There’s a secret ingredient too: the University of Georgia in Athens is only a river’s width away. Although not noted by the Progressive Farmer, it is here that one can visit Weaver D’s soul food restaurant, where the cookin’ is always “automatic for the people.”



As for the rest:
NUMBER 4 – Grafton County, New Hampshire
NUMBER 5 – Kendall County, Texas
NUMBER 6 – Grundy County, Illinois
NUMBER 7 – Lancaster County, Virginia
NUMBER 8 – Boone County, Indiana
NUMBER 9 – Blaine County, Idaho
NUMBER 10 – Hood River County, Oregon

Progressive Farmer’s website comes with a cool interactive feature where you can find your own ideal rural paradise based on a few quick questions. We here at Rural Ninja took the test and found ourselves with a stunning bit of advice: Move to Texas. We told the Progressive Farmer we didn’t care much about crime rates (because we are tough – you know, like ninjas) and that we cared most about an area’s cost of living (because we are poor). We also mentioned we liked very much to be entertained, liked breathing smog free air and were pretty neutral on schools and how many neighbors we had peering over our fence. We fed these factors into the Progressive Farmer and out it spat a top 10 list containing four Lone Star counties. Try the test for your self, but don’t mess with Texas. We’ve already got the best spots scoped out.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

* RURAL NEWS * China = the bumpkins are just bumpkins, idiot!

Rural folk all over the world keep having to defend against cultural attacks from the cities. In this article from the BBC, the inequality in China is quite clear. People are moving to urban areas in flocks and herds leaving their rural roots behind. Unlike many Americans, it seems the majority of the Chinese bumpkins are happy to have that life behind them. Being rural means your culture is an inferior culture.

Approximately 16 million acres (6,475,000 hectares) of rural land have been converted to cities in the last 20 years. At that rate it’s worth taking note, especially if you want to be a developer. In China there’s potential for big money as the land is owned communally and you can buy land from under a village’s feet. Take that rural bumpkins! Move to the city where yaw all belongs.

We at Rural Ninja wonder just how harsh things really are. What is life in mainland rural China really like?

Monday, March 06, 2006

* Rural News * the Rural Round-house of China

Keep your eyes on China, that’s the news on the farm as the heaviest country in the world continues to explore the powers of modern capitalism. The issues of rural culture and land being consumed by the desires of western lifestyles are becoming very pronounced as farmers are starting to rebel in what has been called the pitchfork revolution.

This article at Time describes it well, "What China has now is the worst of a planned economy and the worst of capitalism," says Christine Wong, a University of Washington professor who studies local governance in China. "The farmers are the ones who are losing out the most."

One could start making comparisons between the warp-speed development in China and rural development in the USA. One could argue that rural farmers in the USA also need a pitchfork revolution as big business farming is taking total advantage of the family farm. In the last 20 years it has been bled, slow enough to keep the pitchforks down, but fast enough to kill the herd one by one. It will take many references to illustrate this. So first let’s go to India.

The Times of India mention how planners continue to develop urbanizing zones of China while the income delta between city folk and country folk continues to spread. Here are the numbers…the average rural income is about $400 annually while the average urban income is more than three times that. The article continues to explain how China’s main massive projects all deal with the consumption of oil. The Chinese will surely be getting fatter. It seems China may have to start the hot new weight loss program, The Low Oil Diet. If only America and China could join together and start sweating to the oldies.

FARMTOWN FLABBERGASTER: Buckshot bellyache

NOME, Alaska – An X-ray of a 73-year-old Inuit woman complaining of mysterious abdominal pains revealed an appendix completely loaded with lead.

As reported in a recent article by the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors in the remote Alaska town were baffled by X-ray negatives that showed the organ swelled and visually highlighted with shotgun pellets.

Northern and western Alaska natives, doctors said, eat so many duck and geese downed by buckshot that some of the lead inadvertently stays in the meat and slips down the gullet.

“Although most of the metal undoubtedly passes through the intestine over time, buckshot in the appendix is commonly seen in Alaskan natives, but usually not to (this) extent,” the Journal reported.

Decades of buckshot-seasoned meals probably resulted in the woman’s large accumulation.

“It is likely that poor dentition [that means teeth] and advanced age are aggravating factors that prevent detection of the lead during mastication [or 'chewing'],” the Journal reported.

The lead-loaded appendix, shown in the X-ray above, is revealed in stark contrast to the rest of her otherwise healthy body.

And the two little white dots drifting to the upper left?

“(P)robably evidence of a recent meal,” according to the Journal.

Note to The Rural Ninja's cannibal readership: steer clear of any vice-presidential hunting buddies.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

*NEWS* Pizza Pope building small town in rural Florida according to ‘God’s will’

Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan is having visions of a condom, porn and abortion-free Catholic utopia on a former tomato farm in Florida. He’s got the $250 million bankroll to do it, but some civil libertarians say this is one prayer that won’t be answered.

Nicknamed the ‘Pizza Pope,’ Monaghan plans to open the town of Ave Maria and Ave Maria University – the first Catholic university to be built in the U.S. in over 40 years – late next year. The town, which Monaghan aims at filling with 25,000 people, is taking shape about 25 miles east of Naples in southwest Florida. The total price tag for Ave Maria’s development looms around $400 million.

Monaghan is calling the construction crusade "God's will." Retailers won't sell pornographic magazines, drug stores and pharmacies won't carry condoms or birth control pills, and cable TV will carry no T & A, he said in a speech last year at a Catholic men's conference in Boston.


"I believe all of history is just one big battle between good and evil. I don't want to be on the sidelines," he reportedly said of his Catholic-themed urban design project.

The pizza mogul stumbled in an earlier attempt to base the town in his home state of Michigan after repeatedly failing to get planning permission.

But many Florida officials are on their knees praising the potential promise land. Some say the town and its 5,000-student university will spark a development and economic boom for the area. Over 7,000 people have reportedly expressed an interest in living high on the holy hog when Ave Maria’s condos sprout up around the town’s central chapel.

London’s Sunday Times quoted the university's president, Nicholas Healy, as saying students will “help rebuild the city of God” in a nation on the verge of a “catastrophic cultural collapse.”

Despite its traditional theological trappings, the town’s design is decidedly future-forward. According to the university’s website, Ave Maria will be crafted as a “compact, walkable, self-sustaining town that reflects the community's rural roots while offering a full range of residential options and commercial services to its residents.”

Nearly half of the town, built on a former 5,000 acre tomato field, will be devoted to lakes and open space while a canal system will surround parts of the core university and commercial area. Resembling an old-style European town, Ave Maria will feature mixed-use buildings with apartments set above shops and offices.
“Commercial centers will provide essential goods and services, entertainment and dining, enabling residents and students alike to live, work and play within the community, often traveling by foot or bicycle,” the university’s website states.

Monaghan’s initial pledge to ban contraceptives and abortion clinics and other free society ‘evils’ were met with a torrent of criticism.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida said it would sue if the proposals were instituted.

The ‘S’ word apparently lit a fire under Monaghan’s lawyers. After a legal review, Monaghan announced last week that he had “misspoke” on a number of his proposed sin bans.

“The town will be open to everybody,” he told the Associated Press on Friday.

A real estate firm partnering with Monaghan also said Friday that they would not ban sex on cable TV nor dissuade homosexuals from moving to Ave Maria.

Monaghan’s partners also backtracked on the contraceptives restriction, saying that the town will merely “suggest” that retailers not carry condoms and other birth-control aids.

But the ACLU’s not buying it. Howard Simon, the organization’s director, told NBC that "it is completely naive to think this first attempt (to restrict access to contraception) will be their last."

Indeed many Florida lawmakers have expressed enthusiastic support for the project.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist told the AP he saw nothing in Monaghan’s proposals that violated state law.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Catholic convert, was the featured guest at the university’s ground breaking in mid-February.

“As a Catholic, I am very proud that students will be able to obtain an education with the highest academic standards and with a firm grounding in religious and moral values," Bush said at the event.

FARMTOWN FLABBERGASTER: Bobcat's lives reduced to eight after arrow-in-head incident

CAMARILLO, Calif. - A tenacious young bobcat wandered around for more than a week with an arrow stuck between its eyes.

The projectile ran through the 8 to 10 month old female bobcat’s skull but managed to miss its brain and other vital organs, California wildlife officials told the Associated Press earlier this week.

"If you're going to get an arrow through the head, that is probably the best place to have it," the director of Camarillo Wildlife Rehabilitation told the AP.

Recovered near Camarillo - about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles - the emaciated bobcat weighed just 8 pounds, which is about half the weight for a cat her age. The bobcat underwent surgery and was showing signs of normal brain function, said a wildlife veterinarian.

The arrow was likely shot by a hunter, said a state Department of Fish and Game warden.

"Either somebody had a very bad shot or a very good shot," the warden told the AP. "It was a one-in-a million shot."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

* Ninja News * Learn to be an Organic Farming Ninja!


Ok, this has nothing to do with Ninjas, but it’s a pretty sweet deal and we here at Rural Ninja highly recommend it as a way to form a better connection to the land, travel the world on a budget, and get to know rural folk all over the planet.

How can I do this you ask? Well go the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms website and choose a country to farm!

What will I do? Well you’ll farm and be provided with basic accommodations. This may mean you need to bring your own tent…varies from farmer to farmer.

What will the organic farmers expect of me? You should plan to do up to 6 hours of work a day for 5.5 days a week. Like most rural work it may be redundant and challenging…a good patience building experience. All Ninjas must know patience.

If you want to find your roots in Europe, consider working hard on an organic farm for a while. We guarantee it will be a very different experience than hopping museums between drinks.

Peas.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

FARMTOWN FLABBERGASTER: Psycho Path earns Michigan town ‘wackiest street name’ distinction

Farfrompoopin Road in Tennessee couldn’t quite squeeze out a victory, plopping into third place behind Divorce Court in Pennsylvania, which obtained custody of the runner-up “wackiest street name” honor.

Call them crazy, but 2,500 respondents to an online poll last week chose Psycho Path in Traverse City, Mich. (pop. 14,500) for the No. 1 spot.

Perhaps respondents didn’t realize the full geographical context of Farfrompoopin Road. Had they known that Farfrompoopin is the only road up Tennessee's Constipation Ridge, the results may have been different.

"Our readers really stepped up with some insane street names," said TheCarConnection.com publisher Paul Eisenstein in a press release. "Our panel had a difficult time narrowing several hundred down to the 10 our readers voted on.

"But we learned a lot about the byways of this country, not to mention the collective sense of humor of city planners everywhere."

TheCarConnection.com, which is owned by Mitsubishi Motors, sponsored the poll during the last week of February. Final results were tallied Friday.

The top 10 list includes:

10. Tater Peeler Road in Lebanon, Texas

9. The intersection of Count and Basie in Richmond, Va.

8. Shades of Death Road in Warren County, N.J.

7. Unexpected Road in Buena, N.J.

6. Bucket of Blood Street in Holbrook, Ariz.

5. The intersection of Clinton and Fidelity in Houston

4. The intersection of Lonesome and Hardup in Albany, Ga.

3. Farfrompoopen Road in Tennessee (the only road up to Constipation Ridge)

2. Divorce Court in Heather Highlands, Pa.

1. Psycho Path in Traverse City, Mich.

*NEWS* High-speed Internet grows in rural areas

High-speed Internet access has more than doubled in rural areas over the last two years, according to a national study released this week.

“The gap between rural and non-rural America in home broadband adoption, though still substantial, is narrowing,” the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported.

LARGE LEAP
About 24 percent of rural Americans were connected at home to broadband Internet service by the end of 2005. In 2003, that number sat at just 9 percent.

Broadband use in cities and suburbs grew by about 17 percent during the same two-year period. Urban use now stands at just under 40 percent, according to the study, which surveyed over 5,000 Americans from September through December last year.

Because many rural areas are expensive to wire for high-speed access, some Internet advocates for rural broadband hope wireless access may provide a less costly solution. However, there is not much evidence wireless service is growing on a widespread basis in rural areas, the report states.

Instead, some rural Internet users have turned to fixed wireless or satellite service for high-speed home access. Use of these connections grew from about 1 percent in 2002 to 5 percent by the end of 2005.

A GAP REMAINS
Many rural residents reported that high speed Internet was not available in their area, or said they were unaware of the types of access at their disposal.

Of the rural dial-up users who responded to the Pew survey, 38 percent said broadband was available, 27 percent said it was not, and 35% didn’t know.

The survey also turned to demographics to explain the high-speed Internet divide.

“Rural Americans are, on average, older, less educated, and with lower incomes than people living in other parts of the United States – all factors associated with lower levels of online use."