Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The G of F at play

I find it odd that there has been absolutely no mention of the upcoming Exercise Vigilant Shield 08 and Topoff 4 terrorist exercises in the mainstream press. Usually the administration sends out a trial balloon on these things and then, when they get negative publicity, they tone it down and downgrade the whole thing, or get rid of it altogether. It sounds like this one is going on as planned, on the quiet.

Which is more worrying than if they announced it with full fanfare and four part harmony.

I'd be surprised if they pulled the same scenario as 9/11, just for the sheer sensitivity of it all. But then, they don't live in the same "reality-based world" as 10% of the uS population. They create their own reality as they go along and live within it as if it were real.

So maybe they will.

They certainly are yearning for an excuse to declare martial law before the next election and establish a dejure dictatorship, in place of the defacto dictorship that rules now. Once the Oval One is fully installed as Emperor, there will be no reason to dissemble on any issue, just make a proclamation and let them eat cake.

The Gang of Five has certainly been preparing the ground for something; I suspect that something may be coming to fruition very soon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Just a heads up...

I'm not an alarmist. Most scare stories I take with a large grain of salt. I just want to record some observations here, just in case.

From October 15 through the 20th the United States military, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, will be conducting exercises in the US and on Guam, called Exercise Vigilant Shield 08 and Topoff 4. The scenario will involve the simulated (in computers) detonation by terrorists of a dirty bomb on Guam, in Portland, Oregon and Phoenix, Arizona, allegedly to test our capabilities to respond to multiple terrorist incidents across the US. These exercises will involve military, civilian security and police and "private interests" (read Blackwater and other security for hire companies).

In addition, military bases across the US will be engaged in a "lockdown" exercise during this time, requiring increased security to gain access to military bases, in at least some locations in the US.

We've read increasing attempts to explain away the presence of six armed and ready nuclear missiles transported across the US on the wings of a military plane. "Oops, sorry, we grabbed the wrong bombs."

Pressure is increasing from Neocons to attack Iran to destroy nuclear production and research facilities, as well as their elite military units.

When the Arabs attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the US military was going through just such an exercise, resulting in military defense aircraft being removed from the New York City and Washington, DC areas. Military bases were locked down since September 5, 2001. Some say this was a false flag operation, used as an excuse to go to war with Iraq. Who knows?

It will be interesting to see where the world is on October 20th, 2007. All in all, it might be wise to lay low and keep a sharp eye out come mid-October. Stock up on Deaf Smith County peanut butter, gold coins, your favorite malted beverages and anything that might seem handy for true homeland defense.

I'm not afraid you understand, just interested.

You never know.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Changing the way we are

I share David Orr's optimism about the future, but mine comes from a different direction.

David says "we" must reduce our carbon footprints, individually and collectively, we must stop buying unnecessary stuff, stop traveling so much, stop buying huge vehicles for personal transportation, stop leaving the lights on when we leave the room, stop eating meat, stop being so destructive in our personal and societal choices.

Good idea.

The problem is "we" will never stop until forced to do so. I put the "we" in quotes, because my wife and I already live a frugal lifestyle that is ten times less productive of atmospheric carbon than most everyone else. We do it because we enjoy living this way, not to "save the environment." The other 90% of the people in the uS live so extravagantly, they consume far more than most of the rest of the world combined.

And they won't stop until they are physically forced to change.

Fortunately, force, in the guise of climate change and Peak Oil, is on the way. These two forces will bring about the collapse of Western Civilization, if that's what it is, and will cause the abrupt decline of American consumerism, if not wipe it out entirely. Less fortunately, it will cause untold misery elsewhere around the world where people are starting off with less material resources that we have in the United States, or more accurately, that the United States government has stolen from others.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq is just the beginning of the global insanity. Iran is obviously next, no matter who is "elected" as Resident in the next spasm of our perverted brand of "democracy," if that's what it is. (It's not.)

A hundred years from now, the uS will be in severe material decline, following hard on the heals of its present ideological and spiritual decline. "The Great Depression" will be a mild historical memory compared to the inevitable world depression on the horizon.

However, many will survive and thrive through the coming changes, especially those who learned from the few living who now practice a sane, modest and frugal life style. The Irish monks among us will keep the flame alive for our descendants, assuming we have any. Some one's descendants at least. Time to drag out "Canticle for Leibowitz" for a view of the future.

Good luck to you all. Best to start winding down now and avoid the rush. My wife and I lowered our standard of living and raised our quality of life. It's easy, it's fun, it's the wave of the future.

Podcasting, broadcasting and casting about for meaning

I find myself astraddle the KUSP of a changing world. I'm a reader of books and articles, an occasional writer, too easily distracted by life. I enjoy sitting in a comfortable chair, holding a book in my hands, following the words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters in a linear fashion, one thought at a time.

My approach to radio is essentially through writing, being responsible for promotional announcements, grant announcements, various verbal components of the radio station that exist as the written word before they are spoken over the air.

Radio has always been an ephemeral phenomenon, available when you tune your radio to a specific frequency at a specific time. You know the time when you want to hear a specific piece and you make yourself available to a radio at the agreed upon time.

This is changing now, in these days of computers, iPods, podcasting and content-on-demand. One can now have the desired content downloaded to one's computer, downloaded to one's iPod and consumed at leisure, while walking, jogging bicycling (Heaven forbid) or just mucking about.

This doesn't change the ephemeral basis of the experience, however, and I submit that modern methods of listening to radio content are just as ephemeral, if not even more so. Both streams of information pass by in their own time, even though an iPod (I think, not being an iPod owner or user) can be "rewound" and played over again, which radio can not.

The question is: where is our society headed vis-a-vis literacy? More and more young people listen to stream of information rather than reading. I'm constantly irritated by links to audio files rather than text based information. I don't want to listen to a speech, I want to read the text, so I can reflect on it, analyze it, save it for later referral. With a recorded talk, I can't go back and find a specific passage for easy referral, plus it is recorded, not written, so it is more difficult to access and otherwise process.

Is our society becoming illiterate, or non-literate? What does it mean when a society deliberately abandons the written word? Are we changing back to an oral history society from a literate society? Is this bad? Or is this a good move away from the dominance of the written word.

I don't know and I'm worried about it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life in the Dying Embers of Empire

We're just going to have to turn loose of the idea that we live in a free country, here in the united States. The evidence is overwhelming that we not only live in a police state, but a stealthily oppressive police state as well.

Who has not been selected for "special treatment" at airport check-in security (or is it just me?)? Each time we acquiesce to "special treatment," we become innured to the reality of the police state, we facilitate the regime by voluntarily giving up our civil rights, we get used to being challenged by authority at every turn and we accept that authority as legitimate.

The recent arrest and thuggish leg-breaking of a minister standing in line to attend the Patreaus hearings underscores the radicalization of the police state. The police used to be our friends, the friendly cop on the beat leaning down to talk to the wee lad, helping the old lady across the steet, polishing an apple while swinging his seldom used billy club on the street corner.

No more. The constabulary is now the Darth Vader figure in black-padded storm trooper costume, spraying clouds of pepper spray indiscriminatly, firing rubber bullets at the young and weak, tieing the threatening hands of elderly ladies in pink behind their backs with anonymous plastic restraints.

And behind them, whispering into their lapels, punching buttons on their cell phones, the Men in Black, the "anonymous" organizers of the police state, the middle managers of official mayhem.

Outrage becomes normality, another sound byte on the TeeVee screen of life in the urban jungle, sacrifical citizens in the panoply of empire.

Ours is the finest democracy money can buy, the unctuous police state that simulates the comfortable illusion of choice, oozing the slimey lie of democracy under the door of popular perception. Still allowed to vote, as long as it doesn't count, we are, by and large, restricted from access to the information necesssary to make intelligent choices. Dumbed down through mandatory state indoctrination, distracted by a Universe of mindless entertainment, bewildered by sensory overload, the citizenry, if that's what it is, of the dying empire becomes mere hanging chads to be manipulated as needed by the management elite.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Dylan Thomas

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everyone

Complex historical phenomena, such as the "fall of Rome" and the decline and ultimate failure of the United States Empire, can never be attributed to a simple cause. If we've learned anything from complexity and chaos theory, it's that complex systems are non-linear in cause and effect and can rarely be predicted with any degree of useful accuracy.

What we can do is catalog the characteristics of complex social systems during their various phases of birth, development, decline and death an compare these characteristics to search for commonalities across the cultural landscape and through time. Such an exercise, in these days in the waning of the American Empire can be sobering indeed.

We see many of the characteristics today observed historically in, to take the most popular example, the Roman Empire. Of course, different is never the same, one compares historical periods with some risk of irrelevancy. Nevertheless, the parallels are striking.

Rome found itself on the long end of a very large Empire unable to produce a sufficient Gross National Product to support vast armies spread across what was then the known world. A tiny elite minority monopolized the Empires wealth, almost all of which was sunk into unproductive military adventures that were no longer able to return their own keep. With so much resources committed abroad, Rome was unable to manage its own local economy, and, as they say, the center cannot hold, the Empire spun centrifugally to its doom.

Today, the United States finds itself in a similar, albeit totally different situation, strung out in foreign, imperialist misadventures attempting to consolidate and control enough energy resources to keep itself afloat another few decades, if that. At home, our education system is collapsing in on itself, mired in a post-modern quagmire, unable to recover the intellectual legacy of the Enlightenment that once made it great. Our youth eschew intellectualism in favor of empty images, mind-numbing technology and meaningless entertainment. Civil discourse disappears as neighborhoods fragment into tiny isolated microcosms of individualized consumer units, permanently plugged in, assiduously warding off the silence lest a single thought steal in unchallenged. Silence leads to thought, thought leads to questions, questions lead to dissent.

We will prepare the monasteries, though not the uncomprehending scriptoria of the Irish Dark Ages, but candles of light to show the way in the darkness. It is not only knowledge that is at stake, but rational thought, intellectual discourse, meaningful comprehension and creative interpretation. Just as the wilderness is a seedbed of biological diversity, so the wilderness of the human mind is a seedbed of cultural diversity. All must be preserved and fostered.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Progress as if Life really mattered

I've been wondering for some time about the juxtaposition of Peak Oil and climate change that is threatening to, and will, bring down Western "Civilization," if that's what it is, in this century. I'm beginning to think it's not so much a coincidence as an inevitability.

Peak Oil and climate change are symptoms of two negative aspects of capitalism: 1) inevitable resource depletion as a result of commodification of scarce resources, and 2) destruction of the natural environment as a result of producing wastes faster than they can be dispersed by natural cycles, an inevitable outcome of the externalization of the environmental costs of industrial production.

Peak Oil, as expected, is resulting in desperate imperialist adventures in resource rich country (invasion and occupation), in a last minute attempt to consolidate and secure the last remaining fossil fuel reserves. The US economy is being squandered on a militaristic fascist state at a time when it should be focused on developing renewable resources and conservation policies and procedures. The US will go down hard and it will go down fighting, thus aiding accommodation to the new environmental reality by reducing the surplus human population.

There doesn't seem to be much of anything we can do about it at this point, as individuals, at least, other than prepare for the inevitable. There is no political will to change the course of the United States government, and the political system effectively blocks public participation in the decision-making process. Those of us who are aware have so little influence on politicians and the process of making decisions about our energy future, we may as well take care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors and forget about the greed and power-mongering in the centers of power.

The best we can do is turn our backs on the central government and work locally to build an alternative political structure based on local, bioregional organization, mutual aid and anarchist decision-making. This means supporting local production for local consumption, local social structures for child care, health care, food and shelter. As the national government expends its resources in more and more outrageous wars and invasions, there will be less and less resources available to support the people at the local level. It will be up to us to support ourselves and our fellow community members.

This is a good thing. Perhaps when the central government completely and ultimately collapses, after expending all their centrally controlled energy resources, we'll be forced to take care of ourselves, produce our own food and energy and forget about all this imperialist, global economy stuff that economists keep waxing spasmodic about. Then we can get back to the task of local, anarchist, bioregional organization, aka Real Democracy, and consign the Growth Maniacs to the padded rooms where they belong.

So, it's not a matter of just gynning up the right technology to "solve" climate change and find a substitute for cheap oil to power our borge-mobiles. There is no quick fix. The central problem is not climate change or peak oil, it is capitalism. We don't seem to be able to find a 12 Step program to get off capitalism, so we'll just have to follow Marx and let the whole thing collapse as a bad idea that never got better.

That's just the way it is.