Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scoring Some Big Books

Our knowledge of history is under threat in the United States – especially our accurate knowledge of recent history. An accurate knowledge of recent history and of the role the United States has played in that history might well cause a great deal of unease of conscience among the masses of consumatrons who make up the vast majority of native-born Americans. Therefore, powerful institutions are at work to try to make everyone forget. Their efforts seem to be working. As an example, I was talking to a couple of kids a month ago and found out that they knew very little about the origins of the war in Iraq.

Accurate online histories are also under attack, and false histories abound. Even accurate online histories can be subject to sabotage.

So I am happy to report that I scored a big prize today. I finally got my hands on two copies of Fuel On The Fire: Oil And Politics In Occupied Iraq by Greg Muttitt. The book was devilishly hard to get. I wanted to purchase it by a particular method: namely, walking into a bookstore and handing over cash in exchange for the book. I didn't want to order it online or use a credit card or Paypal account to buy it. (Partly, this was because I don't want to let the U.S. Government know what sorts of books I like to read ;) ). It seems that you can only buy this book in person if you go to bookstores in Britain. In the U.S., Borders Books only offers an e-book version. Barnes and Noble doesn't offer it at all. Amazon sells both paperback and e-book versions, but you have to tell them a bit about yourself (things like credit card numbers, for instance). Powell's Books right here in Portland deserves special mention. Powell's will sell you the book, but their website states that the book is “available for shipping only. Not available for In-store Pickup.” (Powell's has made a name for themselves as “progressive” and “locally owned,” but as far as I am concerned they are just as evil and consumerist as Starbucks.)

Anyway, I circumvented a few roadblocks by getting a very small, locally owned bookshop to order me a couple of copies. The bookshop was happy to take my cash in return. These books are thick (as a former boss of mine used to say, “Enough paper to choke a horse), and chock full of U.S. and British government and industry documents obtained from the British government under their version of the Freedom of Information Act, which is a lot freer than the U.S. version of the FOIA has become. Now that I have them, I'll be sharing some highlights from my reading over the next several months, as well as discussing and reviewing a couple of other books that are pertinent to adaptation to economic contraction and energy descent.

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P.S. I am sad to report that Naomi's Organic Farm Supply will be closing soon. Neil and Naomi Montacre are the proprietors of the place, which includes a large organic garden and greenhouse as well as an organic gardening store. They are situated on a plot of land that is owned by Les Schwab's Tire Stores, and Les Schwab wants to build another store on that plot of land. A Les Schwab store seems a very poor substitute for Naomi's. Wherever Neil and Naomi go from here, I am sure they will enrich the place of their sojourning, as they have done up to now.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

How shocking. I had no idea that certain books were so closely monitored as to make them impossible to buy without leaving an electronic trail.

Have you checked out the series "Censored: the most underreported news stories of 20--"?

This is a series published at least since 2004, which carries a synopsis with original reporting of what the editors deem to be the most important, most ignored stories of the year. I just grabbed the '05 version off my shelf (which includes stories from '03 and '04
) and some examples include:

-The Bush administration's censorship of scientists
-Forcing a world market for GMO's
-"Death of a Nation: Conservative Talk Radio's Immigration and Race Curriculum."

So many more - original publications include medium sized newspapers, periodicals such as the Christian Science Monitor, etc. Fascinating books.

But it never occurred to me to hide my purchase of them. I hope things have not gone so far.