Whole Earth Catalog: A roadmap to humanity

I found this volume at a tag sale some years ago and thought it was just a curiosity at the time. I bought it for a few dollars and took it home only to forget about it until recently (moving does that to you sometimes).

After getting another chance to go over everything I’ve been missing, I have to say… This is by far one of the best resources on simple living, sustainability and even our own peculiarities (I.E. there is no censorship). The Whole Earth Catalog should be in everyone’s library. If anything it can really open some eyes that are sewn shut with self-centeredness these days.

It’s one of the more revolutionary publications that will sorely be missed today.

Subtitling this "Access to Tools" has to be one of the biggest understatements in publishing. It's oh-so-much-more

 

The catalog is a year older than me! And it really does cover the Whole Earth!

Published October 1981

 

The map has changed a bit since this edition, but the topics it covers – vast in breadth and depth — goes from “Understanding Whole Systems” which include Laws of form, Space, Eco-ethics, Evolution, Natural history, Plants as well as “Community” which includes Recycling, Rural emergency, Home nursing Women’s health, Childbirth (in graphic detail), Sex (also in “detail” of sorts), Consumer reports and everything in-between. It’s a who’s who and what’s what of basic and enhanced living.

The list of topics covered is copious as it is astoundingly fascinating.

 

While browsing through this time, I came across an article on Sri Lanka! Specifically the concept of “Shramadana” which is a contraction of Sarvodaya Shamadana Movement in Sri Lanka. The article goes into a specific example at work, however considering this was published before the civil war, I don’t know how many of these people are still around. Hopefully many. Their example will be one of the few things that will keep the country going.

"It does not require oil, gas coal or nukes; it empowers people not machines; it is shramadana. Literally meaning the giving (dana) of human energy (shrama)"

 

The concept can best be summarized as using human equity toward completing projects for the community. Anyone can grab a tool and participate provided you’re of able body and sound mind. It doesn’t matter what your social status is; a banker and farmer are equals in terms of what they can contribute in human energy.

Habitat for Humanity is probably the closest Western counterpart

 

What really got me interested are the aspects of environmental consciousness that and examples of “better” and “wiser” living that we could really use right now. It really drives home how much this was ahead of its time as only now are we starting to understand the consequences of our actions.

"The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness" - Brilliant!

 

Then there are the creative aspects of what we can actually do about this. The sustainability pointers in this are, I think, invaluable today more than ever.

Building a house using telephone poles as raw material. How creative is that?

 

The book is full of examples like these for simple, sustainable living as well as creative solutions to real world problems that are oddly still applicable by and large today.

Then there are also aspects of humanity that some of us still wouldn’t dare discuss openly or honestly. It’s amazing testament to how much popular publications censor themselves on real issues while advancing pointless topics. Talk about being hypocritical prudes.

I had to cover the naughty bits. This being a family-friendly blog and all ;)

 

Did I mention there’s no censorship in this book? Can you imagine a popular publication making mention of something like this today?

And that, boys and girls, is why I keep thinking I was born a few decades too late.

Movie of the Week: The Brain that Wouldn’t Die

What happens when a doctor keeps his girlfriend’s accientally severed head alive in desperation and tries to find her replacement bodies? Calamity!

Alive... Without a body... Fed by an unspeakable horror from hell!

The story follows Dr. Bill Cortner (Evers) who has few qualms about radical procedures that at first border on outright human experimentation. We see later how easy it is to cross that line. The movie starts off in the operating room where Dr. Cortner’s dad is the lead surgeon who had just failed to save a patient. The good doctor then takes over from his dad and tries something truly radical “because he’s dead; I can’t do any harm”. It all starts there.

Dr. Cortner’s girlfriend is Jan Compton (Leith), the nurse (naturally) who was present during the “succesful” operation.

The story truly takes a turn for the bizarre when Jan loses her head in horrific car crash and the doctor manages to still keep her head alive, and talking, using a special compound (“Adrenal Serum”) he had invented and other scientific apparatuses. Of course, this still leaves her without a body and the doctor goes body hunting by tracking down attractive women to behead, much to the horror of the Jan-head.

Let me die! Let me die!

Though the film has little gore for the genre, even with a mutated abomination attack, and we’re spared some of the bloody horror. Having said that, there are some interesting dialog in the lab including several memorable lines from Jan’s head juxtaposed with rather amusing pickup lines from the body-shopping doctor.

Released in 1962 (fimed in ’59), the film stars Jason Evers (then going by the name of Herb Evers), Virginia Leith and Leslie Daniel.

Be sure to sidestep the oozing puddles of sexsim even considering the era it was released (like the doctor driving Jan’s car with Jan in the passenger seat) and take it for what it is. Remember this was filmed in the late 50′s.

Watch the trailer

Watch the full movie

This is one of very few older movies that I’ve been able to watch online instead of VHS or DVD due it being in the public domain. Yes, I still keep a VCR, just to watch old movies.

You can also download the whole film at the Web Archive.

Movie of the Week: Gumnaam

There are few things as enjoyable to me as watching old movies and once in a while you get to see adaptations of even older movies in a foreign language; the term is “Gold” ladies and gentlemen.

We’re rekindling the Movie of the Week series with Gumnaam released in 1965. Essentially a Hindi cinema adaptation of the Hollywood film, And Then There Were None (1945 Twentieth Century Fox) which in turn was an adaptation of the book of the same name by Agatha Christie (1939).

Taking that rich line into account, the movie then pours in all of the wacked out Indian goodness all over (including the obligatory music and dance numbers with the 60′s vibe). The interpretation is “unique” to say the least and the beginning features a song and dance routine that is legendary even by Bollywood standards.

The song Jaan Pehechaan Ho, was so popular, it was featured in credits of the movie Ghost World and, more recently, all over the place in Heineken commercials. I have to say the commercial does try to capture the wackiness of the original routine with clever gimmicks, however nothing there really compares to the actual scene in the movie.

The scene features Laxmi Chhaya as the masked front lady. The vocals are by the legendary Mohammad Rafi with lyrics from Anand Bakshi, music by Ted Lyons and His Cubs and the choreography by Herman Benjamin.

Behold, the original…

Believe it or not, this is actually in the thriller genre and the rest of the movie follows quite faithfully to the original 1945 production.

Site of the Week: Not Coming to a Theater Near You

This week’s entry is a real treat for me because I do have a thing for older movies, B-movies and relatively unpopular ones, and a lot of these jems are long out of theaters. Some aren’t even available in widescreen yet.

Not Coming to a Theater Near You

 

Straight from the site :

Not Coming to a Theater Near You’ began as a printed column in 1998, was published in varying capacities, and arrived at its current form as this web site (launched in October 2001). If not discerned in its title, this site assumes a bias towards older, often unpopular, and sometimes unknown films that merit a second look. This site caters specifically to those who find an impotent similarity in the “New Releases” section of a video store and whatever’s “coming to a theater near you.”

That’s right up my alley!

I haven’t been posting the last few days because I’ve been busy with other stuff. My goal was to share something that came to mind at least once every 3-4 days and I do have a few other things lined up.

Sanctity of Marriage and other fallacies

We can either all start considering this as an obsolete institution that doesn’t have anywhere near the clout it once had or stop treating it as something that it isn’t. Perhaps the false impressions that have permeated our society have finally started to crumble and the shock of discovering the double-think is now scaring naive idiots into shouting bloody murder.

Marriage isn't what you think it is.

Let’s break down what really destroys marriage, shall we?

Abuse, destroys the sanctity of marriage

In any relationship, there’s little more as vile as treating your significant other with such contempt as to devalue their very existence. It usually starts when the abusers consider themselves superior to their “loved” ones and what results is a massive imbalance in say as far as the union is concerned.

Abuse is essentially a game of control with lives at stake and it demeans the very union that hides it in public among civilized people. I don’t need to go into details here as to why it’s terrible since any considerate adult would know.

Adultery, destroys the sanctity of marriage

It’s a very callous thing to do to someone who has placed his or her trust in your love. It can be so deeply hurtful that it may even be considered a form of abuse considering the lasting anguish that usually comes of it. While generally still considered morally reprehensible, the most severe, legal, punishment for this is divorce (which we’ll get to later) and possibly alimony.

In some cases the other partner is already aware of the indiscretion and a) usually ends in divorce or b) results in some kind of compromise or c) turns into an “open marriage”.

I’m reminded of an old mob convention regarding the treatment of women. It’s a very complicated arrangement since women aren’t generally accepted into the mob even though they may participate in business to some capacity (this is the mob we’re talking about so keep in mind that extreme chauvinism is to be expected).

Every man needs three women, goes a saying.

  • The wife with whom you go to church with and look respectable with in public. You raise her children out in the open and send them to college.
  • The mistress, who you’re really in love with and may even appear in public with, but isn’t generally talked about in the open. Although the wife probably knows about her, but she doesn’t care because she’s still being taken care of as well as her kids. You should send the mistress’ kids to college too, but don’t admit they’re yours.
  • Then there’s the girlfriend, who’s just around for when you get lonely. Don’t have to do ‘nothin about her kids because they’re probably not yours anyway.

Of course, if a woman did any of these, she’s automatically considered a floozie, but good luck getting them to admit the irony.

Divorce, destroys the sanctity of marriage

So it’s “‘Till death do us part… unless we get sick of each other first.”

Had a divorce? Was it not because of abuse or adultery? If the answer is “yes” then getting an opinion on the sanctity of marriage from you is akin to asking a murderer about the sanctity of life.

You’re agreeing to be in each other’s company and come to accept who they are at the core of their being and yet, when the going gets tough, the impatient start walking. We have an incredibly bizarre double standard when it comes to acceptance of divorce. Any seemingly reasonable person who would abhor abuse and adultery would suddenly find little wrong with divorce as long as there are “difficulties” or “irreconcilable differences”. These are the sort of things you have to sort out before getting married, don’t ya think?

Considering the ridiculously short period of time people are staying married these days (after an apparently longer courtship), I’m forced to wonder; what really was the point of getting married in the first place?

Open Marriages, destroy the sanctity of marriage

This is a relatively new term that’s apparently a step above “swinging” in that relationships outside of marriage are meaningful, have more depth and may also be on par or above that with the married partner. As long as the partner is willing to be honest and forthcoming regarding the other relationship(s) with their married partner, then it’s not really considered to be an indiscretion. In fact it may be openly accepted and perhaps even welcomed.

And this is different from polygamy because…?

An open marriage is essentially a legal loophole to practicing polygamy in that if there’s another “marriage” it isn’t really called that, but it is still an accepted extramarital relationship. Even famous people like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett are doing this and we don’t hear a peep out of the SoM crowd.

“Civil Unions” destroy the sanctity of marriage

If marriage is allowed for heterosexual couples then it certainly should be in the domain of gay couples as well. I’m slightly amused by seemingly intelligent people who don’t see the blatant hypocrisy of allowing “civil unions” for gay people while denying them to the very sanctified right of marriage available for straight couples.

Let’s break down the logic shall we?

Most decent, logical, reasonable people would consider all people are created equal. Yes?

These same decent, logical, reasonable people would consider that marriage is a fundamental right for any man and a woman. Yet, some of these decent, logical, apparently reasonable people would rather gay people have a “civil union” instead so they can avoid the full guilt of suppressing their fundamental right to pursue happiness.

So gay people are equal to straight people and are entitled to the same rights, but they must have a separate institution instead of marriage or are denied unions altogether.

Equal to straight people, but separate unions or none at all.

Separate…

…but equal.

I’ll let you mull over that a bit.

It’s either full marriage or bust people. Have the gall to admit you’re a closeted bigot who doesn’t believe in true equality instead of hiding behind a pseudo moral high ground or, better yet, mind your own business.

Marriage should be no more invalid between gay people than interracial people. They’re all just people in the end.

The sad thing is that aside from abuse, the rest are perfectly legal in Western society (with adultery carrying civil consequences and gay marriage denied in bigot majority states) and the last three are even generally accepted without much brouhaha these days. All of them soundly debase the alleged sanctity of marriage and this is without the cooperation of gay people.