Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Warning to Government: Peak Oil is Coming!

This report, prepared for the US Department of Energy by Science Applications International Corporation and authored by Robert Hirsch, should be required reading for all citizens of the Imperial Republic. (Oh wait, most of them can't or won't read and nobody wants to hear about this). For those with limited time or attention spans, try the executive summary instead, although the tone of alarm is significantly muted. Suffice to say: peak oil is coming (it may already be here right now), preparations for it need to start ASAP (or perhaps 10-20 years before), and the longer the wait before doing anything, the worse it will be. "Dealing with world oil production peaking will be extremely complex, involve literally trillions of dollars and require many years of intense effort."

In past posts, Chaos has noted how the facts of peak oil have recently been slipping into news media and government hearings. It is now time to wonder why the Imperial government continues to remain silent, since waiting to educate its citizens and initiate action is clearly deterimental to dealing with the problem. Or, is the government's response to this issue more resource wars in the Middle East and other places around the world? Clearly, competition for energy among nations will be the next wave of international politics, but this only amounts to a short term rearranging of the chairs on the Titanic. Sadly, Chaos believes that the government's lack of response speaks volumes, and requires citizens to make their own preparations for the inevitable end of oil. For further exploration: Sustainable Living Forum ( registration required to view articles), Peak Oil Forums (try Planning For the Future).

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Two Faces of Immigration: Xenophobes and Heroes

Here it is, the two extremes of illegal Mexican immigration, the issue that, as Chaos has noted in the past, has the potential to split the Republican party in two. On the xenophobic end, we have the profile of CO Rep. Tom Tancredo, a "lonely figure who rails against immigration and battles his own president and party." At least, up to now, when anger over immigration has propelled this reactionary to prominence, with such incendiary ideas as fences at the border, denying citizenship to residents born here, and felonizing the mere presence of illegal immigrants in the US. Not all of these will come to pass, immigration being one of the few issues that George Bush thinks he knows something about (he technically was the governor of Texas for a brief time), and opposes, but the "catching up" with Tancredo reflects a deep xenophobia among many citizens of the Empire. On the other hand comes this illustration of how deeply important to Mexico and its economy are these illegal immigrants, such that a parade is held in some Mexican towns for the returning workers, who are hailed as heroes for their financial contributions to local coffers. "People waved and shouted as a line of 51 vehicles, driven by returning immigrants as part of a parade and car concert, made its way through the streets of this town (Rio Verde) of 88,000." Mexican immigrants are apparently responsible for about $1 billion per year repatriating back to Mexico, explaining why the government passively encourages the practice. Chaos observes further that Mexican immigrants have spread to the four corners of the US, which also explains the spread of xenophobia. Hang on, this can only get worse (yes, more entropy).

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Stupids Take Over the Holidays

Of all the ridiculous things to come to pass this year, nothing lowered the level of discourse more than Faux News and it's 580+ segments on the "War on Christmas." The manufacture and flogging of a completely vacuous, bogus issue designed specifically to appeal to willfully ignorant fundies has to be the so-called "fair and balanced" news channel's finest moment in recent memory, and an excellent example of how far the Empire is deteriorating. For a bracing antidote to the silliness, see this outstanding piece by Christopher Hitchens on how utterly stupid these people really are. Money quote:

"The Fox News campaign against Wal-Mart and other outlets—whose observance of the official feast-day is otherwise fanatical and punctilious to a degree, but a degree that falls short of unswerving orthodoxy—is one of the most sinister as well as one of the most laughable campaigns on record. If these dolts knew anything about the real Protestant tradition, they would know that it was exactly this paganism and corruption that led Oliver Cromwell—my own favorite Protestant fundamentalist—to ban the celebration of Christmas altogether.

No believer in the First Amendment could go that far. But there are millions of well-appointed buildings all across the United States, most of them tax-exempt and some of them receiving state subventions, where anyone can go at any time and celebrate miraculous births and pregnant virgins all day and all night if they so desire. These places are known as "churches," and they can also force passersby to look at the displays and billboards they erect and to give ear to the bells that they ring. In addition, they can count on numberless radio and TV stations to beam their stuff all through the ether. If this is not sufficient, then god damn them. God damn them everyone."

Amen, and happy solstice.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Watch This Movie! Or We'll Shoot This Dog!

Ok, seriously, if you ever wondered why ugly, dysfunctional suburban sprawl came to be that way, and what will happen to it in a future without endless, cheap energy (yes, it's called Peak Oil), you owe it to yourself to watch this 78 minute video. Featuring such luminaries as James Howard Kunstler, Matthew Simmons, and Richard Heinberg, this documentary also serves as a useful introduction to Peak Oil. Hearing Kunstler describe suburbia as "the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world" is priceless.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Your Government is Watching (or at least listening)

The story of the week, despite what Bush claims, isn't the Iraqi election. It's this one on how the NSA has been eavesdropping on American phone conversations since 2002. The Emperor signed a secret order allowing the unprecendented actions, but the NSA had already started its nefarious activities even before the order took effect (just couldn't wait). In the country Chaos grew up in, the NSA wasn't allowed to spy on Americans at all, just foreigners. Chaos wonders what other secret orders were signed and what agencies are now spying on citizens of the Empire...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Peak Oil Hits Congress, Guess What Happens?

Chaos never thought to see the day when the concept of Peak Oil would finally bubble out of obscurity and come to the attention of the evil, corrupt Imperial House of Representatives, but it did, about a week ago. Read Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's testimony (among others) to get the full flavor.

By the way, if you said "the House embarked on a crash course to assure the U.S. has sufficient alternatives to oil in the future," sorry. Nothing will happen, is Chaos' prediction.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Blah, Blah, Blah

As the United States embarasses itself at the UN conference on global warming at Montreal (it took most of the two week long conference to even agree to engage in nonbinding talks), Rome--and the rest of the globe--continue burning. Specifically, the Amazon river basin, the world's largest rain forest, is undergoing an unprecedented and devastating drought. The worst in recorded history (in this case, the past 100 years), the drought is thought to be caused by the same global warming that caused a little bit of weather this summer in the New Orleans area. A being as devoted to entropy as Chaos can only wonder at the coming possibilities.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Decline of the American Empire, Part XIV: Video Game Outsourcing

Yes, it's true: gamers are now outsourcing the boring beginnings of video games to the Chinese. And why not? The Imperial Empire has outsourced pretty nearly everything else to the rest of the world.

Here's another gamer item that illustrates the unreality of life in the Empire today: adult gamers are devastated by Sony's decision to revamp their favorite online game into a juvenile first person shooter. Says one gamer," ...for many people it's much more than a game. It is a part of their lives where they have invested huge amounts of time building a community."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We're Running Out of Food, Worldwide

Think not? Read this.
We've used up about 40% 0f the planet for growing crops or raising livestock, leaving little left for more expansion. The United States became a net importer of food for the first time recently. Try, if you can, to square this with ever increasing populations of hungry or greedy people.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Trouble With Boys

An article this week in the Washington Post reiterated some familiar concepts and statistics concerning a growing problem: boys (and men) are falling behind, first at school and then (naturally) in work and life. Some grim statistics: men are no more than 43% of the population of university students and boys and young men are 80% of high school dropouts. Some possible reasons for the decline include an emphasis on girls' success, a style of learning in school that's ill-suited to the way boys actually learn (it turns out that boys' and girls' brains are actually different when viewed by a brain scan), and a lack of active father roles. Much of these problems and some solutions are discussed in Real Boys. Having parented a boy for lo these many years, Chaos highly recommends this book for fellow travelers. A stoutly written work, the author nonetheless has deep empathy for boys and many useful suggestions for raising and teaching successful happy boys.

Friday, December 02, 2005

New Scary Climate Change Stuff

The two latest developments in the gradual (but increasing quickly) disintegration of the planet's climate, courtesy of insatiable human consumption of fossil fuels and exponential growth: core ice samples taken from Antarctica's ice cap indicate that current levels of carbon dioxide and methane are at their highest levels in the last 650,000 years. Researchers could not drill any deeper because of technological limits, so the issue may not be settled, but preliminary findings are disturbing at least. In another finding, it seems that sea levels have risen twice as much during the current century as in previous times.

Second finding: The Atlantic Conveyer, also known as the Gulf Stream, responsible for bringing warm water to Northern Europe, has been discovered to be slowing. This is in line with previous computer modeling predicting that the current may collapse from global warming, paradoxically causing the climate in Europe to cool substantially. This recent data clearly needs more study and corroboration, but as a confirmation of previously offered theories, it's an important piece in the puzzle. Of course, humans need a crisis to wake up from holiday shopping and pay attention, so the steady drip of bad news will have no effect on nonnegotiable lifestyles. Chaos wishes readers a happy weekend, unencumbered by entropy.