Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Introduction To Richard Heinberg: Peak Everything

This man, author of Party's Over and The Oil Depletion Protocol, has a new one out: Peak Everything, wherein apparently the author has discovered (or just read Lester Brown) that most of the planet's "renewable" resources aren't that renewable after all, especially when exponential human economic growth consumes them all. No, seriously, here's a nicely-written introduction to the latest, for those who can't wait to see it at the 1/2-priced bookstore.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Increasing Power of Diminishing Marginal Returns

Chaos likes this post quite a bit: Sharon Astyck of the Energy Bulletin explains why we (the collective "we") don't have the resources (or "money," to be reductionist) to accomplish the tasks we need to in order to address the converging catastrophes that loom in front of us. Anyone who's read Tainter will immediately get it, but the rest of the somnolent public will continue to be clueless. However, a look around will provide ample evidence of the principle of diminishing marginal returns on complexity: freeway building, for one; healthcare, for another. Any others that spring to mind?

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Perspective On Dumpster Diving

Very fine exploration of the art of living without a salary occurs in this article,(registration required) featuring a former Barnes and Noble executive who gave up her expensive (and energy-intensive) lifestyle for something simpler and (vastly) cheaper. Short version: she and other like-minded individuals have learned how to scavenge for food in the wasteful environs of Manhatten (funny also that the article originates in the Los Angeles Times...). Interesting concept of living off the detritus of society...not replicable on a larger scale, of course.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Health Care Update

Well, several months after the truth leaked out about the US healthcare system, in the form of the most excellent film Sicko, have the American people risen up to demand universal, affordable healthcare? They have not, of course, and the dysfunctional system continues to roll on, and roll over its victims (sorry, the people who are forced to use it). Here are the latest figures on the carnage: cost of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums rose 6.1% this year, lower than the actual costs of medical care, reflecting a cutting back of benefits (in other words, less care for the same money...). Average total cost of health insurance premiums for family of four: $12,106. Health insurance costs have risen 78% since 2001. Oh, and the number of uninsured increased by 2 million people. For more, check out this article, while reflecting upon how long one would wish to gamble that health insurance will continue to be available at any price, and if used, will actually cover what ails you...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Bicycling Heaven: Amsterdam

Since the enlightened US city of Portland was featured here last week, Chaos stumbled onto this photo essay on bicycling in Amsterdam. Multiple pleasures here: the everyday nature of the activity is reflected in the dress and mannerisms of the people photographed using their incredibly ordinary and functional vehicles. The US-centric tourist/photographer's somewhat ignorant comments contrast with those who've had actual experience in the country and are entertaining as well. One need not stretch the imagination much to envision a lower energy future, for that exists today in places elsewhere. Unfortunately, this series of photos is as much a reflection of the values of the populace as the mass transit and bike lanes of Portland. Without changing the culture, the infrastructure will not magically appear...

American Culture In A Nutshell

Read this account of something called the "MTV Music Awards" and explain to Chaos why American culture has not become corrosive. Chaos cannot imagine how anyone who is paying attention could rationally choose to raise a child in this sex-crazed, consumption-addled, brainless culture.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Shining City On The Hill

Try to watch this video, if you can without becoming nauseous at how the most advanced and progressive city in the nation emphasizes people over motorized vehicles. The innovations are simply stunning to those who live in asphalt wonderlands such as the miserable locality in which Chaos resides. Also, note that Portland is in fact an anomaly: there is no other city which has demonstrated this degree of progressivity. An interesting phenomenon, simultaneously
giving one hope that at least some people are actually capable of moving in the proper direction, while depressing in its rarity. (repeat after Chaos: it will never happen here...)