Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 15, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 5



Mountain Views News Saturday, September 15, 2012


 Voters who want to be in the know about the 11 propositions on the November ballot can expect lively discussion 
and even debate at a free public forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area. Titled 
“Are You in the Know?” it will be held Oct. 6, 9:30 to noon, at the Women’s City Club, 160 N. Oakland Ave., 

 A team of League members who have studied the measures in depth can help people separate 
fact from fiction regarding the hotly debated, competing tax measures of Gov. Jerry Brown 
and education advocate Molly Munger. Speakers also will analyze and present background 
information and prospective effects on each of the other 10 measures, including a business tax. 
Three other propositions address criminal justice issues: ending the death penalty, tougher penalties for human 
sex trafficking and modifying the three-strikes law. Three affect the legislature: a two-year cycle for the state 
budget, limits in campaign donations, and a challenge to the recently redrawn political boundaries for state senate 
district. Two address consumer issues: genetically altered food and auto insurance.

 As a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government, the 
League invites people at the forum to share information and express divergent views. At this forum the League 
will only analyze the measures. 

 Lunch will follow the program and costs $20, including tax, tip and parking. Information and reservations are 
available by calling 626-798-0965, 10am-1pm M-F. Walk-ins are invited with no cost for admission.

CIVILIZATION By Christoper Nyerges

[Nyerges has led survival skills and wild food classes since 1974, was the editor of Wilderness 
Way magazine, and has written 10 books. He can be heard weekly on Preparedness Radio 
Network. For more information, go to]

It has been a long time 
since I have heard advertisements 
for “survival 
foods” for those 
folks who are worried 
about a world in which 
we descend into chaos 
and anarchy.

 As I listened to an ad 
on the radio recently, it reminded me of my state of 
mind in the late 1960s and 1970s when I first began to 
study ethnobotany and survival skills in general. 

 Back then, I was primarily motivated out of fear, and 
was concerned about my own personal physical survival. 
It has been a long road to today, and though I 
still encourage folks to store “survival foods,” I am no 
longer motivated by fear. Today, I have a completely 
different mindset about the very meaning of “survival.” 

 I know that to some people the word “survival” connotes 
images of some burly guy in a camo outfit and a 
gun who is just out for himself. That’s survival, by the 
lowest definition. But what about your children, your 
family, your pets? What about the survival of your 
community, your environment, your city, your bank, 
your educational system? Real survival is vastly more 
than keeping your own body alive.

 Through the 1980s, I gave a series of lectures about 
the many cultures and civilizations that have entirely 
vanished. Gone. My focus was to look at what causes 
a culture to slip into decline, and even to vanish. Then, 
more importantly, I attempted to see if we today in the 
U.S. are experiencing any of these same causes that lead 
to decline and extinction. Of course, most members of 
my audiences listened politely, but felt that “this would 
never happen to us.” In other words, the predictable 
response was denial. 

 According to Morris Berman in the classic “The Twilight 
of American Culture,” there are four factors that 
define a declining civilization.

 The first is an accelerating social and economic inequality. 
Then there are “declining marginal returns 
with regard to investment in organizational solutions 
to socioeconomic problems.” Another factor is the 
rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding, 
and general intellectual awareness. As an example, 
the author shares with his readers some of the 
responses to questions that Jay Leno received during 
his “Jay Walking” routine. Then, there is something 
called “Spiritual death” - probably a major factor in the 
decline of all civilization. 

 Interestingly, Berman adds that he doesn’t know if 
these four factors are causes, or effects. 


 According to Jane Jacobs in her “Dark Ages Ahead,” 
there are definable reasons 

why civilizations fall. Among her nine major factors, 
she lists resource depletion, catastrophes, insufficient 
response to circumstances, intruders, mismanagement, 
economic issues, and “cult thinking.”

 I believe the last two are particularly relevant to us today, 
but they’re by no means our only concern. As Jacobs 
states, “Civilizations are expensive to keep going 
and require increasing amounts of labor and wealth 
to maintain themselves. As civilizations grow, the upper 
classes grow – and so does their need for surplus 
wealth. The overall costs of supporting the system with 
specialists, servants, soldiers, police, and so on grow 
at an increasing rate. The increasing effort to maintain 
them produce diminishing returns and leads to their 

 As for cult thinking, that permeates each and every 
one of us in every facet of our life. It is not just 
about religious things. Cult thinking occurs whenever 
we blindly believe anyone. This is why I have always 
strongly suggested you read Eric Hoffer’s “True 


 Jane Jacobs suggests that we are following the same 
cultural decline that occurred with the Roman Empire. 
She identifies many of the weak spots in our contemporary 
lifestyle, such as: taxes, family, community, education, 
science, technology, the lack of self-policing, 
and moral/ethical insanity. These weak areas are the 
foundation of all the other often-cited problems, such 
as the environment, crime, and the discrepancy between 
rich and poor. 

 Modern families are “rigged to fail” due to rising 
housing prices, the suburban sprawl (with a reduced 
sense of community), and the automobile. Automobile 
is the chief destroyer of communities, and the idea of 


 The hopeful part of all of this is that dark ages are not 
inevitable. For one thing, we all need to get involved, 
and be a part of the solution. The millions of details of 
a complex, living culture are not transmitted via writing 
or pictorially, but by 1) living examples and 2) by 
word of mouth. We need to think! We need to model 
solutions (that is, given two options, we should choose 
what is “higher and better” in our daily life). And we 
need to teach, to lecture, and to write.

 There is always hope and there are always actions we 
can take. If you’re watching TV, choose an educational 
show, not Family Guy. Constantly learn new skills and 
crafts, things that have intrinsic value, and that you can 
do with others.

 According to Boy Scout leader Francisco Loaiza, 
“Don’t make entertainment such an important thing in 
your life. Spend time with others and do things with 
people. Get away from the TV and get off the internet. 
Get to know other people directly. We may have more 
knowledge today but we’ve become a colder society.” 
He adds that our emotional intelligence has been lowered 
a few notches as well, and he cites as an example 
that when people sneeze today, they rarely say “excuse 

 These are just a few of the many ways in which we 
can become a part of the solution and not be part of the 
decline of civilization. This is why I wrote “Extreme 
Simplicity: Homesteading in the City,” and “How to 
Survive Anywhere.” I include reading lists in those 
books which I feel are good for your physical, mental, 
and spiritual health. 

 Let me know if you have questions, or more 



Songs are written about it, lovers sing of it, but when’s the last time 
you actually looked at a Harvest Moon?

First, what is a “Harvest Moon”? It’s defined as “the Full Moon 
nearest to the September equinox” (the first day of autumn, which 
this year is Saturday, Sept. 22). For everyone the Harvest Moon is 
conspicuous; for farmers in years past it was vital. At the climax of 
harvest they could work late into the night by this autumn Moon’s 
light. It rises due east about the time the Sun is setting due west 
(6:00 p.m.), the Sun and Moon both being roughly on the equator 
at this season. And for a few days, instead of rising its average of 
50 minutes later each day, it rises at nearly the same time for several 
days. This is because the Moon’s orbital path is tilted somewhat 
sideways (horizontally) this time of the year, so that it makes a 
shallow angle relative to the horizon. 

This year, the Harvest Moon will rise at its fullest on Saturday, Sept. 
29, one week after the autumn equinox. And while moon-watching 
is always interesting, it will be especially so a week before the Full 
Moon, on the night of the equinox, Saturday, Sept. 22—which has 
been designated “International Observe the Moon Night.”

You’d be surprised how many lunar features you can see, with even a 
small telescope or binoculars, when the moon is at this phase—with 
only its right half lit, looking like a “D” in the southern sky. 

If you feel like a Saturday-night outing to a local observing event on 
the 22nd, here are some local possibilities:

Pacific Astronomy & Telescope Show (PATS) at the Pasadena 
Convention Center Sept. 22 and 23:

Old Town Sidewalk Astronomers (Friday in Pasadena Old Town, 
Saturday in Monrovia Library park:

Griffith Observatory, free public star party 2:00-9:45 p.m. Sept. 22:

For a directory with links to many L.A. area astronomy-interest 

International Observe the Moon Night is an educational outreach 
event sponsored by multiple NASA and astronomical organizations. 
Some 300 events in over 40 countries are being hosted by universities, 
observatories, NASA agencies, 
high schools, and amateur 
astronomers to observe the Moon 
and share information about it. 
Events are offered both in person 
and via internet streaming video. 
The date was selected during the 
Moon’s waxing gibbous phase, to 
enhance visibility of lunar craters.

For more on International 
Observe the Moon Night:

many Moon-related songs can you 
think of?

Let’s start with the classics: 
Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” 
and Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” 
Then fast-forward to jazz-age and 
swing-era standards like “Shine 
on Harvest Moon,” “Carolina 
Moon,” and “Moon Over Miami.” 
Remember “Moonlight Becomes 
You” from one of those 1940s 
“Road to…” movies with Dorothy 
Lamour, Bob Hope and Bing 
Crosby? From the Big Bands 
there’s “Moonlight Cocktails” 
and Moonlight Serenade.” And 
finally, who could forget Audrey 
Hepburn singing “Moon River” in 
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

And here’s a final idea: Why not 
invite friends in for a backyard 
moonlight barbecue, with or 
without telescope, on either Sept. 
22 or 29? A background of some 
of the above songs, to accompany 
your “moonlight cocktails,” would 
be nice—and that Old Devil Moon overhead is sure to be good 

You can contact Bob Eklund at:

Almost Full Moon sketched live at the telescope with pastels by Deirdre Kelleghan, Bray Co., Wicklow,