Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Sermon

. . .taking a deep breath, and attempting to avoid a screaming fit.

Within any sensible moral or ethical system there is a hierarchy of importance: which is to say that in order to be able to claim "goodness"--assuming one can't be "perfect"--one is compelled to right the biggest most important wrongs first and move down the line to the trivial. For example, supposing some screwball murdering pedophile wanted to reform and become a good person, it would be important that the first step would be to remedy one's biggest crime--ie, quit killing kids. If our murdering pedophile decided rather that her first step towards righteousness be to work on clearing up her profanity, even if those efforts were successful, any sensible ethical system would declare those efforts more or less pointless--even inherently bad--as all the efforts achieve, really, is simply perpetrate one's major crimes through self-serving evasion.

We live in a world where 3/4 of the worlds population lives on less than 2 dollars a day, and that fully 1/3 of humanity dies of malnutrition and cruddy water. This is a fact. I believe that this issue will only get worse, as we face climate change and resource depletion, and a perpetual trend towards wealth disparity--we may quibble about those issues, barely. Still the FACT remains that the conditions of life of the vast masses of humanity is miserable in the extreme, and to ignore this, and to evade the notion that one might be culpable in some degree for this condition, to my mind is criminally inhumane.

So then, where the hell do we get the right, we fat and lazy privileged folk, getting all worked up about GMO's, invasive species(though useful and edible), and other bourgeois fetish issues, etc.,--in light of the reality that faces the masses of mankind?

That here in Hawaii we would arbitrarily ban all GMO's, technologies that have the potential to feed the starving--because we somehow have the notion, completely unsupported by any evidence, and GMO's are all bad and unhealthy. I'm certain that one out of 3 people in this world, if you gave them a glow in the dark, semi-poisonous lab grown utterly synthetic blob would eat it eagerly and thank you for it. GMO's? If you could show me one case where you could factually document that any GMO's kills more people than organic peanut butter. . .well, then we have a place to start. Otherwise this is kneejerk fopist ethics.

That here in Hawaii we would get completely bent out of shape about invasive species, unquestionably the most powerful and viable plants on this island, that in many ways act as Gaian scar tissue healing the damage of the sugarcane fields, clear cuts, road cuts, cattle damage and the rest--what would is island look like if these plants were never introduced? I'm in no way arguing for the further introduction of such things--but am simply calling attention to the fact that we ecological progressives have vastly more important things for us to spend our time worrying about. There is a fair chance, that if moderate climate change forecasts are accurate, that the invasive plants will be the ONLY plants on this island that are viable and adaptive enough to survive the next 500 years.

I expect I need to lay off the coffee, but am not done yet.

The difficulties that face us as a world are so massive, and so dire, and the human cost, and the cost to life in general, is going to be so vast--that anybody not pulling to remedy those basic issues is pulling in the opposite direction. To remedy these basic issues is going to require basic sacrifices--large sacrifices--in our current standard of living. Outside of a few radicals, I see next to no meaningful efforts towards constructive change. In fact, I see an entire industry being created, as evil and insincere as any ever created, that generates "products" and "activities" marketed to mostly well meaning informed people, that are designed wholly to satisfy the urges of "good" people to "do something" but actually accomplish nothing whatsoever, and demand no personal sacrifice. As if compact fluorescent bulbs are going to feed anyone. . .

Something, I hope, to think about. Are some of our busy efforts well meaning? Misguided? Insincerely self-indulgent? I think it's important we ask these questions of ourselves, and for many, that in a very sophomoric manner fancy themselves as the vanguard of "change"--I think the answers will be uncomfortable.

Monday, March 24, 2008

AADD Nation

As for diatribes: this will be a diatribe.

First, taxes. It's 10 in the morning, and I'm drunk. I alway get drunk to do taxes, as it's the only way it's sensible and keeps me from having screaming fits. As one who would claim to be a humanitarian, ecologically minded progressive, it fires me in the extreme to be compelled by law to "tithe" to the church of corrupt materialism, and it's certain that my tax dollars I pay go to, solely, undo any good I try to work in the world. It is absolutely measurable to show that of any dollar I pay in taxes, x amount goes to a corrupt kleptocratic banking system, to Haliburton, to bombing people for oil. . .and on down the line. It is pointless for me to protest, ineffectually, that I "don't support the war", when a very factual way I do. This has bothered me enough that for years I lived in a minimalist enough fashion that I paid no taxes--but I got tired of not getting laid so I changed my ways. Even the hippy chicks expect you to keep them fat in organic food(expensive) and weed. Ah well. I sold out and was back in the saddle in about a week.

It's official. I don't call myself an environmentalist anymore--I call myself a survivalist.

Just how fucking stupid are the American people? Seriously, I ask this non-rhetorically. I'm well aware that the vast majority of the US is profoundly screwed up and deliberately capital "F" dumb--like they believe the world is 10000 years old and angels walk the isles of Walmart. . .or that homeopathy is a science. . .but let's ignore that crowd and move towards people who have actually done a bit of education--perhaps we'll look at big buck fund managers--9 out of 10 which, in spite of their high dollar degrees, cannot out perform the indexes, or a team of moneys flicking shit at a wall, and where it sticks BUY. This is no hyperbole, mind you, this is a fact. As well it is a fact, that in spite out how I bitch, I seem incapable of overestimating the tremendous inertial effect of ignorance. In the great greater fools game we call the American Economy, I had begun to believe we are out of fools. Well, we haven't hit "peak fool" yet apparently. Last week, consensus: the financial world is ending. The Fed waves it's magic wand. Monday--all is saved! Seriously, who the hell believes anything has changed? As for myself, any crisis great enough that the central bank feels compelled to more or less give away a HALF TRILLION DOLLARS should scare any sensible person into the hills. But it hasn't. And that should scare you even the more.

So then, my freinds call me and tell me they are worried about their credit rating. I, am with rabid intent perfecting my wood gas generator and learning everything about this lost technology I can. It hasn't been simple. There are loads of information out, and on the net, for free, and all too often you get your money's worth. Yet progress is made, and the system runs, but woe to anyone who tries to undertake this project once the crunch finally hits. Er, you'll run that welder on what? Still, I've learned a bunch, and that's worth while, but gadzooks, what a hassle.

We have no idea what the value of fossil fuels really is. We take that utterly for granted. We seem incapable to relate to a world of unmechanized work, as we've never seen it--but again, the rule of thumb is that if you've got a gallon of gasoline at your disposal, you can get more work done in a day than you can in a month without. At that point, if work needs to be done, there is really no price at which fuel doesn't pay--a hundred dollars a gallon would still be cheap. Unfortunately, much of the "ecological progressive" community works in a world of academics and service, and has no connect whatsoever to reality. If they did, they'd be much more thoughtful. Even of the wilderness community, of those who have spent some time backpacking and understand the natural world to some degree--woodcraft--ie, primitivism and skills, is much lacking. Synthetic tents, clothes, and fossil fuel based cook stoves preparing vacuum packed freeze dehydrated meals. Getting back to nature, eh? Damn--it would be well that a dose of reality would be dumped on everyone. . .but I'd rather it would happen before the game was for keeps.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Drunkenly searching for good news. . .

Well, I'm fucked.

Prophecy. The fed drops rates next week .50. Gold goes to 1015, oil to 116, and the dollar loses two percent against the euro and the yen. Does anybody else read the news?

And by the way, a Holtzman gas generator doesn't work worth a damn on wet wood.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Emerging from the jungle

Here I am in my new little cabin in Hawaii, typing away at a much overdue update. . .

Gosh, have got a lot done in the last few months. I've got a small house, fruit trees, a koi pond, coffee growing in the yard and a bit of time to sit and think. It is interesting, having been removed from the screaming media mostly for most of 4 months, the shift in attitudes towards many issues that may seem incremental to many--but if you take a vacation from the noise it doesn't' seem so.

It's interesting how notions of peak oil, global warming, and the collapse of the US banking system have become mainstream ideas at this point. Talk about boiling frogs! The most alarming thing I find in these issues is exactly that--the more or less total lack of alarm. I'm scared shitless, and better prepared than many to weather this gathering group of storms. Even among those who are relatively educated, informed, and progressive--there is a complete disconnect between their views of the future and their actions. Just as the nice couple the other day who was quizzing me about my small homestead, and how to build--we discussed these issues all in depth. And then, they ask--well, how do you finance your homestead? Uh, of course, you DON'T. You pay for it out of pocket. And you especially pay for it out of pocket in a world with failing banks. And you certainly don't expose yourself to the threat of loosing your little home by lost jobs and missing a payment. You're better off to live in your car, if you are secure there--then take the risk in the forthcoming environment. But the question was telling--they ape the words, they enjoy the culture of apocalypse--but they don't fucking get it. We're talking about the real deal here, where knowledgeable intelligent experts are talking about the end of human civilization--not a recession.

Being counterculture so often is really just being component of the the culture, and the modern green ecologist is certainly THAT. It's Patagonia rather than Bebe, its Land Cruisers rather than Range Rovers--it's flying to Bali rather than Cancun, but it's all the same bullshit American consumerism. It's all about big dogs and babies too, frogs laying eggs in boiling water. Hell, I've got to say that at this point it's all but obvious that GW BUSH is probably the greatest president of all time, as he most accurately and broadly reflects the values of the American people; ie., ignorance, entitlement, and smug self satisfaction. But give it a couple of more months. . .