Friday, September 29, 2006

The Inauthentic Life: Christy Rodgers, Joe Bageant

We have visited with Christy Rodgers previously in the context of collapse, wherein she took to task three contemporary visions of our future: Diamond, Kunstler, and Lovelock. This entry is more to Chaos' current interest: the national and sociological "character" of the American public, and how it got to this point, perhaps. Rodgers asks, "so what is it that characterizes us most profoundly? Disconnection from place. It creates a distinct set of pathologies." Well-thought out, and disturbing, if you let it simmer a bit.

To the same subject but vastly different results is our recent friend Joe Bageant. Chaos highly recommends all of this scathingly funny writer's essays; they capture profound insights on current life in the Empire one just can't find in the MSM. This one in particular has resonance to the subject at hand. Careful: fine writing ahead. Bageant's perspective is unique, and especially valuable when describing fundamentalists (his brother is a minister, and apparently will not cease trying to convert him) and the unvarnished depiction of the working classes. The unabashed consumption economy is not news to many, but the fresh take on its corrosive effects is worth the read.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

God Bless Texas (Cough, Cough) Again!

Texas is number one in so many ways, it would take Chaos a couple of posts (hey, that's an idea there...) to cover them all. Here's today's though: number one in--wait for it--air pollution! Yes! (Specifically, number one in six outta eight categories and second in another...) The King of the Red States' coal-fired electric plants, for which there is great enthusiasm for more, along with an environmentally backward regulatory system and a populace who truly loves the internal combustion engine, have created the perfect nightmare.

Life in the Bubble

Check out this link to see just how much of a bubble citizens of the Empire find themselves, courtesy of the MSM. Hint: look at the international covers at the left on the page. At the bottom is the one for the Empire. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Health Care in the Empire

We revisit health care today, to find that it has produced the vast majority of new American jobs since 2001. The sector is growing exponentially, which should set off alarm bells, especially since it certainly isn't expanding the number of citizens covered (at last count, more than 45 million citizens of the Empire were not covered by health insurance). In fact, insurers are growing ever more clever in their attempts to eliminate costly claims. Seems that actually attempting to use the insurance one has paid for will now trigger a detailed extensive review of the original application. Any discrepancies, omissions or misunderstandings will result in denial of coverage and to add insult to injury (literally, haha), said insurance company will often attempt to recover funds already expended on the claim. Sounds too outlandish to believe? Kindly peruse this (registration may be required). Those who are receiving their coverage through their employers are considered safe from this dirty practice at the moment, but don't get too comfortable; things like this have a way of expanding.

Another report on American health care finds that the US system is failing: the country has a higher infant mortality rate than that of 24 industrialized countries and the lowest life expectancy of those who have reached age 60. "When graded according to 37 indicators assessing health outcomes, quality, access, equity and efficiency, [the Empire} recieved a score of 66 out of 100, a failing grade." Trends are not favorable here: more expensive and less responsive health care in the future would be Chaos' prediction. The diminishing marginal returns, in Tainter's lexicon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why Do They Hate Us?

Did you ever wonder why the Empire has attracted so much "attention" from the various groups of Islamic freedom fighters? Considering the ridiculous explanations of the current Emperor on the subject, it is no wonder that many remain confused. (Yes, Chaos is feeling polite today...perhaps too much ranting over the past couple of days induces the need for balance...)
At any rate, the very excellent Michael Klare (author of Blood and Oil and sometime contributor to Tomdispatch) provides the befuddled with a brief yet comprehensive view of the role of oil in the history of the Middle East and the Empire's involvement with it. Take the recommendations at the end with a grain of salt (ethanol won't be our saviour in this regard), but the overall thrust of the piece is fine.

BTW, Tomdispatch today features an interesting look at the end of Abu Ghraib and the transfer of prisoners held without charges or trial to other "facilities" in Iraq. "A rose by any other name..."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Easter Islanders Speak

"The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth"
---Easter Islander saying.

Bob Herbert Gets It Wrong

Here again, the New York Times columnist in all his naivete, painful for those who know better, subscribing to the inevitable, essential liberal delusion that the American public is ohsogood, just misguided or fooled by those clever rightwingers, Faux News, or the mainstream media.

In discussing the latest outrage, i.e., the elimination of habeas corpus by the Imperial Legislature, and by way of the 'extraordinary rendition' of Maher Arar, the poor unfortunate Canadian citizen sent to Syria to be tortured (for a year!) by American officials (acting upon the Canadian Mounties' entirely untrue information) Herbert writes, "I can't believe Americans think this is all right." (Full column here.)

Newsflash for Bob: yes, it is 'all right' for a good chunk of the public; the remainder just doesn't give a damn or thinks its just fine. To quote Joe Bageant: "[they have] the meanest kind of white man ignorance, or smug middle class obliviousness, the kind that could care less if all the babies in Iraq were fried on spits in the Green Zone of Baghdad, so long as their nails get done on Saturdays."

Reflect on that, floundering delusional liberals, and despair.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Global Warming Update

Of all the subjects covered here at the Edge, global warming (or "heating," as Lovelock likes to put it) is consistently the most alarming, simply because the rate of change keeps surpassing the best scientific predictions. In part this can be explained by the phenomenon of the "feedback loop," popularly known as the vicious cycle, i.e., once things get going, they continue on their own, regardless of the original stimulus. The heating of the planet is particularly susceptible to a feedback loop. (You did see An Inconvenient Truth, didn't you? If not, perhaps this site will help you...) Today's news is the shocking developments in the Arctic, wherein you could actually this summer sail a boat to the North Pole. Previously, this was thought to be somewhat further in the future, and thus the news is not the phenomenon itself but the speed at which bad news has accelerated. Alarming, yes, and sad too, since it is obvious that any efforts at this point will be mere window dressing, since nobody is about to give up their irresponsible energy-hogging lifestyles, not the overfed mean-spirited inhabitants of the 'richest nation on earth' (hah!) nor the many wannabes around the world. Population control is a nonstarter, and a worldwide ban on carbon usage is a sad delusion.

Reflection on Totalitarianism

Contemporaneous with the debate on Rules for Torture, this morning we consider the irony of a government, a state, which, while reserving the right to spy upon its citizens, imprison them without trial, lawyer, or charges, outsource them to other countries for torture, and sets up its own gulag, holds itself up as the embodiment of individual rights, liberty and freedom. That there is actually a debate on what kinds of torture to allow (admittedly, after the fact , considering that many have already been tortured on the Emperor's orders, in the most despicable manner [note: Chaos implores you not to read the last link, unless your gastronomic constitution is robust]) is almost beyond comprehension to a being of Chaos' age; younger sentients may be more inured to the phenomenon. Chaos can only echo the amazement felt recently, when the Emperor in passing admitted to maintaining "secret CIA prisons", to scant attention in the public arena. Somehow this phrase seems to echo in Chaos' conciousness, along with the inevitable corollary that the overstuffed citizens of this declining state by their silence think that celebrity babies, female news anchors, and the activities of various sports teams are of far greater importance. Not too much of a stretch to conclude that the evil fascists who head the government are merely the authorized reflection of the people who allow them their power.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Try this video and laugh, courtesy of Youtube, Chaos, Darwinian from The Oil Drum, and Gaia...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Would You Like to Know More?

Hey, remember in the film Starship Troopers (you know, the one that combined the biggest bug hunt of all time with a tongue-in-cheek World War II theme) when the recruiting commercials flashed on the "join the military and become a citizen" thingie? Well, Chaos is happy to report that life does imitate art here in the Empire. Seems that the all-volunteer military is having, well, some recruitment problems. Citizens are becoming more reluctant to join up to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and the overstretched military has lowered its standards, taking in high school dropouts, felons, skinheaded racists, gang members and older folks. Imaginative recruiters have now focused on noncitizens, with the predictable reward for enlisting (along with a bucket of cash) easy, no-cost citizenship. The Emperor signed an executive order offering citizenship after one day of military service. Now that's an armed forces citizens of the Empire can be proud of.

Support the troops...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dmitry Orlov Has Some Advice...

Chaos heartily recommended this writer a few months ago, and he has now started a three-parter on Life After The Oil Crash on advice for the collapse-aware resident of the Empire. In Dmitry's inimitable style, these pieces make for entertaining reading, both for the valuable content and the unsparing view of this country from one who has lived in the original Evil Empire and observed its collapse. Part One of this primer is here; Part Two is here, Part Three is here. (You may have to load this up in Internet Explorer if the links don't work well in Firefox...)

The Empire Devolves to Theocracy

If you are at all concerned about how much influence the fundamentalist christians have gained over policy and government the last few years, here's a nice site to check up on those devoted followers of the blood cult. Interesting link on the site leads one to the "Texas GOP Platform," wherein one learns some really scary stuff about what 'real' Republicans believe. (Even scarier if you actually live in the state). It baldly proclaims, for example, that "our party pledges to assert its dispell the 'myth' of separation of church and state." Doesn't get any clearer than that, and as a reflection of what people in this country actually believe, it is simply another day in the Empire as now changed utterly from just a few years ago.

Suggested reading: American Theocracy

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Funniest Dieoff Article Ever!

A special fall treat: how very rare it is that a writer can combine humor and the coming dieoff of humanity in one piece, but here it is, courtesy of the estimable Joe Bageant.
Money quote: "All of which drives me nuts because the nearly visible end of civilization strikes me as worthy of at least modest discussion. You'd think so. But the mention of it causes my wife to go into 'Oh, Joe, can't we talk about something more pleasant?' And talk about causing weird stares and dropped jaws at the office water cooler." Great stuff, and if you like it, try some more of Joe's essays, wherein you may learn that Joe is at least attempting to walk the walk, by adopting a Belizean family and building them a little bed and breakfast (although foresightedly reserving the privelege of staying there on occasion). Funny, funny man.

Global Warming Update: Say Goodbye To The Northern Forests

As forecast in An Inconvenient Truth (and shame on you if you've not seen it), the northern forests of the Pacific Northwest are now succumbing to the ever-increasing human-induced global rising temperatures. As noted, some of these trees have lived successfully for the last one thousand years, but they cannot survive humanity's desire to drive a monster SUV to the grocery store. How oddly the article is titled: "Cascades' Reddened Forests Signal Threat to Humans;" Chaos suggests "Humanity's Growth Signals Threat to the Entire Planet," but perhaps that would understandably irritate the source newspaper's advertisers, wouldn't it? Besides, the sheep do not want to read such provocative stuff...oh well.

Suggested reading:
(basic) The Revenge of Gaia
(advanced) Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Edition: Where Are We Now?

Sadly, many words are currently being wasted on "remembrances" of this event now receding into history. Few (of the words) deserve to live. Clearer voices on this day are provided to us by the estimable Tom Englehardt (whose post today features an article by Ira Chernus, who remarks upon how the event sanctioned the creation of an enemy, which the American nation so desperately needed to reinforce its own identity and had been searching for, if unconciously, since the fall of the Berlin Wall), and Immanuel Wallerstein, who notes that the undeniable fact that Empire has been losing ground (i.e., power and influence) pretty steadily the more force and violence it employs around the world, and speculates upon future adventures, based in part on more desperation (and right wing politics). Chaos would also point to the announced strategy of ubervillian Osama bin Laden, who quite rightly was advised that the Empire would respond to attacks with a "cowboy mentality," and play directly to the Muslim world's preconceptions that Americans would invade their lands and take their oil. For further reading on the weakness of violence and the ability of small groups to defend their own lands, see The Unconquerable World, a stoutly written work of vast explanatory power.