Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holy Shit! It's Xmas!

Once again, Somafm, coolest station on the planet, has Xmas in Frisco, its irreverent holiday music channel, for your pleasure. Chaos ranted about the relentless commercialism of the most commercial nations on the planet last year, and is not about to do it again. (Ok, a little bit: the crowds are bigger and meaner this year, and there isn't a business establishment which is unwilling to use the holiday to sell whatever--tires, massages, etc. The decorations are more gaudy and ridiculous but the citizens of the Empire are spiritually poorer. $350.00 will get your holiday lighting installed in a 2 story suburban tract home--yes, we are taking in each other's laundry).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Message From The Ghost of Xmas Future

Something about how humans think makes dramatizations more telling than dry recitations of facts. To put it another way, you can learn a lot from fiction, especially well-researched stuff. Case in point is John Michael Greer's latest couple of posts, starting here, depicting Jane Average and her family as they celebrate Xmas in 2050. Read it and the following one for a punch in the gut, and don't neglect the comments at the bottom, where the author explains a bit about the context and why certain elements appear. Even a brief visit with the Averages is enough to make one thankful that a catabolic collapse has not yet occurred.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Endless Growth, Our National Religion

At one point our estimable friend, Dr. Albert Bartlett, in his presentation on Arithmetic, Energy and Population, states that endless exponential growth is our national religion. A startling statement, to be sure, but one which certainly will serve readers of MSM stories in good stead. Like so. To be brief, the semi-arid region in which Chaos currently resides is undergoing explosive growth, and concerns have been raised, as they have for many years, about sufficient water to enable said growth. There is zero recognition in local rag that perhaps there might be, at some point, and hopefully before all the water is gone, an end to growth, or perhaps just a slowing. Chaos would suggest to gentle readers to employ the 'national religion' framework in their daily perusal of news, both local and worldwide; the results are quite interesting. Equally compelling is applying the concept that "overpopulation is the root cause of most human problems" to a few news reports one might encounter. Try it, you'll have fun.
Update: Here's a local letter to the paper that you can contemplate:

"It was a simpler time

Back in the good old days, remember when:

Our flag was respected, both at home and abroad. The government was of the people, by the people and for the people, not of the politicians, by the politicians and for the politicians. Families took care of families, not the government.

Girls in high school did not have children. You felt safe in your own home. Your house was seldom locked or windows closed. The key to the car was kept in the ignition. There was no such term as "drive by shooting." There was no need for a "war on drugs."

Children walked alone safely to and from school. Police and security guards were not needed at schools. Boys gathered at parks, vacant lots, open fields, etc. to play baseball and other sports. There were no knives, no guns and no need for adult supervision. It was a good time to be a boy.

Movies and TV did not rely on sex and violence to entertain; they entertained the old fashioned way. They did it with talent. You had a competent and caring personal doctor, not today's impersonal socialized medicine system. We were paid to work, not to not work. U.S. Grant was a president, not a government handout.

Children were taught manners. Your word was your bond. A person's good reputation was his most prized possession. Defending our country was a man's responsibility. Democrats and Republicans did not hate each other; they were Americans first and foremost. We fought wars for the right reasons and actually fought to win the wars. And on and on.

Today's society has more modern conveniences, but the good old days were truly "the good old days."

Yeah, those wars were pretty good, weren't they? Chaos supposes not so good for those killed in them, but pardon the digression. At any rate, an expanding population will certainly account for the effects mentioned in the letter, and the writer is to be commended for noticing the difference, although seemingly unaware of the reasons for it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Declaration of Dependence

Well, once again, Chaos has very little to add to this...authored by Hans Noeldner, trustee in the village of Oregon, Wisconsin, a bedroom community of Madison in frustration of his struggles with exponential growth.

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for the people to abandon civic spaces in which daily social and commercial Intercourse have, throughout history, bound neighbour with neighbour, customer with merchant, tradesman with client, manufactory with location, and citizen with community; and to indiscriminately pursue unfettered Motion and Isolation in the separate Vehicles to which their incomes entitle them; an unquestioning obeisance to the demands of motorized Movement requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all Motorists are created more equal than non-motorists; that they are endowed by Our Lord Economic Growth with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are the Right to drive wherever, whenever, and as much as they desire; and to do so in whatever size and type motor Vehicle shall please them; and that, moreover, they are entitled to as much Energy and motoring Infrastructure as shall prove needful for these purposes. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among oil Companies, motor vehicle Manufacturers, the highway Lobby, and the land development Cabal, deriving their just Powers from Consumers as evidenced by their vehicle purchases, fuel consumption, and selection of residences that make Driving a "necessity". That whenever any Form of historic municipal arrangement impedes the right to drive and park without limitation, it is the duty of departments of Transportation, acting on behalf of Motorists, to alter or to demolish it, and institute a new Master Plan, laying its foundation on an expansive Network of limited-access Highways, Streets wide enough for two ladder-type fire Trucks to pass with parked vehicles on both sides, turn Lanes, access Roads, drive Aisles, and abundant off-street Parking, as to the Motorists shall seem most likely to effect their Motoring Ease.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that city and village Designs long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that Motorists were sometimes disposed to suffer, while evils were yet sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Delays to which they had become accustomed. But when traffic Bottlenecks persist into the 21st Century, and insufficient free Parking near the front door of their every Destination continues to impede not merely the Motorist but Progress itself, it is the Motorists' right, indeed it is his duty, to condemn and pave over such confined Spaces, and to provide, moreover, abundant Capacity for future traffic Growth."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Enjoy the Fish (While We Can)

Not especially new, but breaking new ground in severity (basically, the story for the past year on species extinction, global heating, etc.), is a new study from the crackpot science journal Science which baldly states that unless drastic measures are taken NOW (wake up, sleepyheads!), there will be nothing left to fish for in the oceans within Chaos' optimistically expected lifetime (2050).

"The way we use the oceans is that we hope and assume there will always be another species to exploit after we've completely gone through the last one," said one of the researchers.

That's right, you can't make this stuff up, it's too depressing. What's even more depressing is the "ho-hum" response this story generated. Chaos noted the riot of exotic fish offered at the local market over the weekend: wild shark steak, Chilean sea bass, tuna, steelhead trout, etc. Oh well.

A Few Choice Words From A.A. Bartlett

Here's another gem from our friend, Dr. Albert Bartlett, the former physics professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in testimony before the US House of Representatives, May 2001. Ok, so a bit dated, but the principles do not change and the man, as always, is exceptionally clear. One could argue that all you need to know about energy and resource depletion is found in Dr. Bartlett's lecture on exponential growth, (if you've seen it, congrats) thus saving countless hours reading mental masturbatory sites like The Oil Drum, where angels dance on pinheads (are we there yet, Daddy? how about now? are we there yet?), one-shot Johnnies tout their pet techno-fixes, and optimists eternally hope for a "soft landing" or "gentle decline."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What About the Weather?

Economists can do some pretty interesting things. A couple recently have studied the effect of weather on various human activities and found some startling "facts." For instance, droughts in Africa are positively correlated (read "cause") with civil wars. Here's another: rain has a strong negative effect on riots. (Makes sense: who wants to riot in the rain?) And finally, the kicker: global warming is predicted to cause mortality rates in the US to rise, at a cost of some $31 billion per year. Some states will do better than others (uhoh). Fun stuff.