Thursday, April 28, 2005

 

Superjumbo Mistake

A superjumbo jet has made its appearance, and the developers are upbeat about selling lots of them. Skeptics claim that the market for such huge passenger planes is too small to make it viable. But there’s a bigger problem: the price of fuel. I predict that this monster will never get off the ground very far because it will prove uneconomical to fuel it. In fact, we will soon be seeing the whole commercial aviation industry on the ropes.

Besides, how smart is it to make something like this, anyway? It just shows that we are still governed by the “bigger is better” mentality, which is killing us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

Bush’s ‘Solution’

Bush’s “solution” to America’s energy problem is so stupid that I will limit my comment to this: Give the drug addict some more drugs.

 

Informant Society

Americans tend to point the finger at countries like North Korea and their informant societies, forgetting that their own government has a bad habit of trying to make Americans do the same thing. Remember J. Edgar Hoover? Remember Operation TIPS? And now we have the Crime Stoppers program, which makes students spy and inform on one another, with enticing monetary rewards, no less.

For example, if a student sees a fellow student with a handgun, the informant is supposed to squeal to the police. While promoters of the program say this justifies the program, this is the wrong approach to the problem. Instead of making people spy on their fellow citizens, we should be asking more basic questions such as “Why does this person have a gun at school?” “Why can this person have a handgun in the first place?” and “Why is American society so violent?” Unfortunately, the solution of the authorities is to create citizen spies by dangling wads of money in front of their eyes, while these urgent and fundamental questions go unanswered.

Finally, why should it be necessary to pay people? If American students are upright citizens, anyway (and I’m sure most of them are), there is no need for monetary enticements and no need for such a program. Law enforcement agencies should be able to give us plenty of examples in which upstanding Americans have gone out of their way to contact the authorities and volunteer information when they thought something was wrong.

Crime Stoppers looks like yet another attempt to control Americans by making them spy and inform on one another.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

Pot and Kettle, Redux

Howard Dean says the Republicans are “evil,” “corrupt,” and “brain-dead.” He is right, of course.

But again, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Democrats too are clearly evil, corrupt, and brain-dead. Democrats have worked together with their Republican blood brothers to lead the US down the path toward ruin, to rip off the Third World, to pollute, promote reckless extravagance, commit mass murder, and exploit. The “American way of life” is a joint Democrat-Republican project.

Howard Dean and the Democratic Party leadership should join the Republicans in wearing sackcloth and ashes.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

 

Pot Calls Kettle Black

Democrats are criticizing Bush’s energy policy for allowing gas prices to rise this high, and for not emphasizing conservation and renewables over more drilling.

First of all, energy prices have always been too cheap in the US. Secondly, Americans don’t realize they are subsidizing cheap prices for resources and energy by supporting military garrisons all over the world.

But what really gets me is that both parties have worked together to build a socioeconomic system that is addicted to cheap resources and energy. Now that the crunch approaches, the Democrats have the gall to criticize the Republicans for getting America into this situation, when it’s just as much their fault.

Stupidity, greed, and myopia. Thank you, Republicrats.

Friday, April 22, 2005

 

Patriotism and Nationalism

It’s interesting the way governments manipulate their populations by appealing to “patriotism,” when actually they are whipping up nationalistic and xenophobic sentiment in a bid to use their people to achieve often unstated and even villainous ends. Such manipulation is quite obvious in the recent “anti-Japanese” riots in China. While the Chinese government does indeed want to make a statement on Japanese nationalism, note that it does so by spurring nationalistic feelings among its own populace. But the bigger and unstated purpose is to give the Chinese people an outlet for their extreme dissatisfaction with their own government.

We’ve heard a lot about how ordinary Chinese called for and organized demonstrations using the internet and cell phones. No doubt this is true to an extent, but it’s a safe bet that some of those “ordinary Chinese” were working for the government.

But I don’t mean to single out the Chinese in particular, except as an example, because all governments do this to one extent or another. In the US, the Bush regime has shown itself to be highly adept at whipping up a nationalistic frenzy and manipulating the population. The distinction between nationalism and patriotism is all but lost in America.

For an excellent discussion of this subject see “The Cult of Patriotism.”

Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Power-Up Dream

They just can’t let go of the power-up dream. President Dubya pushes lawmakers to pass his idiot energy bill, and notes that America’s energy supply is not growing fast enough to satisfy the nation’s burgeoning energy needs. It’s totally unrealistic to believe that energy supply can keep up with infinitely rising demand, but that is what Dubya says he is going to do with his energy bill. And our short-sighted politicos in Congress will no doubt rubber stamp this self-destructive legislation.

You have to laugh at Bush sometimes. “The summer travel season is fast approaching, gas prices on the minds of millions of Americans,” said the prez, in his usual syntax-challenged Dubya-speak. If he were honest, he would tell Americans that in the not-to-distant future they won’t be doing any traveling at all, unless on foot or horseback.

The power-up paradigm has got to go, and in its place we must adopt the power-down model. We might as well do it willingly, because it’s going to happen, anyway.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

How Stupid

Bush’s new energy bill has nothing to do with “re-energizing America” and everything to do with exacerbating the already dire situation. Instead of addressing the over-dependence on fossil fuels, extravagant consumption, and staggering waste, and instead of powering down the economy and investing heavily in renewables, the Bush administration is going to drill, drill, drill. How this will help solve the problem is beyond me. It is like telling a drug addict he will be cured by giving him more of the same drug.

Even sadder is that members of Congress are myopic and reality-challenged enough to even consider such disastrous and idiotic legislation, and that the American public is gullible enough to believe that Bush is trying to help them.

Bush is running America into the ground, and many Americans are cheering him on.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

 

Stuart Brand and the Power-Up Heresy

In “Environmental Heresies,” Stuart Brand tells us that environmentalists are going to change their tune on nuclear power, population growth, urbanization, and GMOs. I won’t comment on everything here, but I would like to touch briefly on a few points.

Let me preface my short critique by saying that here I do not address the question of whether Brand’s predictions on trends will pan out as he says. Here I challenge his underlying assumptions.

Brand’s take on nuclear power falls squarely into the dominant “power-up” paradigm, which holds that modern human society cannot function without all the energy it now uses. In fact, for human society to function efficiently and effectively — and without going all the way back to the Stone Age — we can get by with a lot less energy. Cutting out the waste, extravagance, and idiocy, and redesigning economies under the “power-down” paradigm, will bring us back to planetary scale. Brand says that adding up conservation and all the renewables we can muster will be “still only a fraction of enough,” which is correct under the power-up paradigm, because the oil economy cannot be sustained by renewables. But he would have us keep churning out deadly poisonous nuclear waste in a vain effort to maintain the oil economy. “Enough” to Brand apparently means sustaining the waste and extravagance of the power-up economy.

On population, Brand says, “Although more children are an asset in the countryside, they’re a liability in the city.” This in itself is true if you assume that a small percentage of the population is going to grow the food for the rest. And since mechanized agriculture will become gradually unsustainable as fuel rises in price, a portion of the population will be relocating to the countryside to take up farming. And if those people are expected to grow food for the many city slickers who hunker down in town, they will be obliged to have more children as labor. Brand’s vision of the city as a population sink is untenable because modern cities and their long supply lines are sustained by cheap oil. I predict that over the next decade we will see a reversal of the population migration from the farm to the city. If we want to keep the population down without letting mass starvation do it, and without exploiting farmers, new strategies such as urban community gardening will be needed to keep pressure off professional farmers, and let them make do with small families.

History shows that peasants have been exploited since time immemorial to support the extravagant urban living of the dominant classes. In the Orient the supposed ranking of the social order was (1) scholar-officials, (2) peasants, (3) artisans, and (4) merchants, but just as everywhere else and throughout history, peasants have come dead last, ground under the heels of the other classes (the true order is of course 4-1-3-2). The concept of the city as a “population sink” is merely an extension of this screw-the-farmer mentality, as it assumes that a few peasants will work themselves into the ground supporting a vast elite, no doubt including Mr. Brand. Urban areas could and should be designed as places that mainly support farmers by providing them with complementary services and goods in a fair exchange, but unfortunately their emphasis has always been on exploiting farmers, while at the same time gobbling up farmland and forests like a malignant cancer.

To sum up, the main problems here are the “power-up” paradigm, a profound misunderstanding of what “the city” is, and the “screw-the-farmer” mentality.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 

The New Feudalism

I spotted a new discussion called “Farming’s New Feudalism” on the Worldwatch Institute’s website. It seems this fits right in with the general trend in the US to bring about a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. We can see the same thing happening down on the farm.

Look forward to a feudal future with a handful of super-rich aristocrats who own everything, and a vast pool of soldiers and serfs (that’s us) who will give our lives on the battlefield, in the factories, and on the farms. If you get injured, fall ill, or die, it will mean as much to the aristocrats as the death of a bug. They’ll have plenty more throwaway people.

 

Arms Race

China is beefing up its military capabilities, much to the alarm of the US and Japan, in the race to secure more resources and energy. It seems no one can stop, and and our power-mad leaders are dragging us willy-nilly toward World War III to preserve the “modern way of life.” Fault the Chinese if you like, but their leaders are no worse than those of any other country. The whole of human history has been a mad race for power, domain, resources, energy, slaves, and what have you.

Let me offer you a choice between two alternatives. (1) Go back to a lifestyle like that in the early 20th century, or maybe even the 19th century. (2) Send your children to the battlefield to win resources and energy to support the modern way of life.

I know what my choice is. I love my kids enough to choose (1). And I know that the modern way of life can’t continue for long, anyway.

What’s your choice?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

 

Poor Support the Rich

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The poor carry the rich on their backs. It’s the way it has always been since the dawn of human civilization, and likely the way it will always be. If you want some more corroboration about how this age-old scam is implemented in the modern-day US of A, read this.

Monday, April 11, 2005

 

Top News Stories

I don’t often check the “top” news stories on the mainstream media, but just to keep my finger on the pulse, as it were, I look in on them occasionally. A quick look just now shows that the big story of the day is... drum roll... Michael Jackson!

Well, I should have known. The price of oil is going through the roof, Dubya is bankrupting the country and trying to demolish Social Security, more wars are brewing, shortages are looming, international law has been relegated to the dustbin of history, and all kinds of other horrible things are happening, yet we are supposed to direct our attention to Jacko’s trial, which is arguably of inconsequential significance to our lives.

An unfortunate but true fact is that celebrity scandals are an excellent tool for distracting the attention of the masses. And now you know the true function of the mainstream media.

 

Kangaroo Court

How would you like it if you were accused of some wrongdoing, put on trial, not allowed to see some or all of the “evidence” against you, told that the law doesn’t matter, not given the right to speak, tried on flimsy evidence, or not allowed to present witnesses or evidence in your own defense?

Sound outrageous? Court documents have supplied these and more stories by former Guantanamo detainees.

How can people justify and do horrible things like this? The reason we’re given is that these are dangerous terrorists, but actually it’s the same psychology at work as in those who advocate racial profiling and mass detention, as happened to Japanese-Americans in WWII. Two reasons come to mind. First, advocates think it will never happen to them. They think they will always be on the inside, always have the upper hand, always be a part of the ruling elite. Second is a racist attitude toward the untermenschen (in this case “ragheads”). That’s what allows them to treat other human beings so callously.

The majority of Americans claim to be Christian. Well, what happened to “love your enemy” and the Golden Rule? It would do well for everyone to remember that they could someday be on the other end of the stick.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

 

Watch for Falling America

With all the accidents and crashes (not to mention crimes) that the US military is causing in Okinawa (which accommodates 75% of all US troops deployed in Japan), there is now a project to put up signs — which are a play on the cautionary signs saying “Watch for Falling Rocks” — exhorting people to be careful of US military crashes and accidents.

Even if you don’t read Japanese, access this page, which shows the sign with the caption “Watch for Falling America.”

Saturday, April 09, 2005

 

Oriental Action

Mass anti-Japanese protests erupted in Beijing on Saturday against the latest round of Japanese history textbook revisions and Japan’s attempt to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Says the NYT (emphasis mine):

“Several hundred protesters tried to storm the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Beijing, hurling bottles and rocks into the walled compound before riot police broke up the confrontation, witnesses said.”

These protests happened because the Chinese government let (or made?) them happen. It’s a convenient way of putting strong and indirect pressure on the Japanese government.

True, Japan’s attitude has always contrasted with that of Germany concerning World War II behavior, and other Asian nations have not forgotten this. Every sign of resurgent Japanese nationalism or militarism is met with protest on various levels.

But there’s more than meets the eye here. Since Japan now has more trade with China than with the crumbling US (which will soon sink to quasi-Third World status), it’s not at all in Japan’s interest to irritate China. Or to irritate other next-door neighbors, the Koreans, with the Takeshima issue.

So, who benefits, if not Japan? Why, the US of course. The Americans are no doubt hoping that by whipping up a Japan-China military conflict, they can indirectly take the wind out of China’s sails. Getting Japan to rewrite its constitution and rearm big-time requires that Japanese public opinion be softened to let this happen. Friction with Asian neighbors will put a scare into the Japanese public, and make it amenable to constitutional changes and military buildup. So it’s a safe bet that behind Japan’s recent self-defeating actions, you’ll find the Americans and their plan for global domination.

Friday, April 08, 2005

 

Some Objectivity on the Pope, Please

It’s not a happy day when anyone dies, and of course the same goes for the pope. But please, could we have a little bit more objectivity and balance when discussing his legacy? I knew we could trust the lapdog media to fawn all over him, and broadcast all the spectacular pageantry of the funeral rites with breathless commentators offering pious comments. That’s because they’re not in the journalism business — they’re in the propaganda business.

Thankfully, I knew we could count on a few good sites to carry some objective assessments of John Paul II. Unfortunately, we can also count on the lickspittle mainstream media to say little about the horrible, reactionary, and in my humble opinion, immoral, things this man did. A saint he wasn’t. But a friend to power he was.

One related thing that comes to mind. The Vatican has immense wealth. If the popes — including John Paul II — were really doing the will of Jesus, wouldn’t they sell off a lot of those assets and give the proceeds to the poor? Countless people on this planet live in grinding poverty. Is it enough for wealthy Men of God (not only those in the Catholic church) to mouth phrases like “blessed are the poor” but keep hoarding all that wealth?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

 

Yushenko Licks Bush’s Boots

If you are Bush (or rather the people who pull his puppet strings), everything is going according to plan in Ukraine.

Don’t be fooled by the BS about “widening democracy and freedom,” because the US is there for the oil and gas.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 

Grab that Hoe

Still haven’t planted that kitchen garden? You might want to reorder your priorities and put gardening ahead of your favorite TV shows. Whether real or contrived, tightening oil availability will have a devastating impact on agriculture and the food processing and distribution system, as described in this fine article.

In not too many years, we will see a new situation in which the traditional economy (farming and keeping animals for subsistence and sale/barter) will be propping up the industrial economy, or what’s left of it.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

 

AWOL Recruiters

According to this article, “At least 37 members of the Army Recruiting Command, which oversees enlistment, have gone AWOL since October 2002”! And since this is a New York Times article, I suspect the situation is probably worse. Things are so bad that not only combat soldiers, but even recruiters, are going AWOL.

If the Bush administration is really doing such a great thing in Afghanistan and Iraq, and if Americans really share in that sense of mission, then there should be no shortage of people signing up to make the world a better place, as Dubya claims he is doing.

But actions speak louder than words. The fact is, people are loath to die any time, but especially so when they deem the cause unworthy. Young women and men are indicating their reluctance to die for oil. Add in parental resistance, and you have the current dismal recruitment figures. Even the payment of bonuses and the lowering of standards are not going nearly far enough to bolster sagging enlistment figures.

Look for a draft.

Friday, April 01, 2005

 

Constitution Restoration Act

Heard of this bill? Neither have a lot of other people. But if you are concerned about America going farther down the road to a theocracy where “Christian” mullahs issue edicts, I advise you to acquaint yourself with this proposed legislation.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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