Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Peak Oil Roundup, Redux

Since the concept is now on everybody's mind (well, maybe not quite yet, but soon), it's worthwhile to pick through the various outlets and see what's been happening. First off, if you, like Chaos, have become annoyed (or maybe just puzzled) by the constant chantings of Faux News types that the only thing standing in the way of the US becoming oil-independent and driving down those pesky gas prices is the "wacko-environmentalists" who prevent Alaska and off-shore drilling, read this to clarify the fact that there just isn't oil out there in sufficient quantities to make any difference (long and somewhat technical article, but has the virtue of being true).

Next off, in an interesting development, our friend James Howard Kunstler, fresh off completion of his newest (an entertaining work of fiction, entitled World Made By Hand), is featured in an editorial in, of all place, the Washington Post. The point here is not the content of the piece, since Kunstler repeats what most of us have read weekly on his blog, but the fact that it appears in a national newspaper in its unvarnished bluntness. Is the US public finally ready to hear some unpleasant facts? Doubtful, but interesting nonetheless to watch the tone of the discourse change so quickly.

In more doomer news, truckers are going out of business at an alarming rate, and car loans are not much available anymore, adding to the auto industry's woes (which are already considerable). This in addition to the continual downward spiral of the airline industry, which last week decided to add yet another level of annoying surcharges and inconvenience to the passenger experience, clearly aimed at driving more and more people to forsake air travel completely. Chaos should probably have listed more examples of this trend, but it seems too obvious and common to belabor.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Bit of Dietary Advice

You may already know this, but having recently finished Good Calories, Bad Calories, Chaos has just this to say: high fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous in the US diet, is scandalously harmful and addicting. Avoid it, if you can. It, along with hydrogentated oil, is most likely the major cause of obesity and diabetes in this benighted country, and you consume it at your peril...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just One More Example...

Chaos came across this pair of astounding articles recently, from the nation's premier papers of record (NYTimes, WaPo), concerning the treatment of foreign travelers/illegal immigrants, which, to Chaos' eyes, pretty much settles things as far as remaining a resident of the Empire is concerned (ok, if you absolutely insist on playing this out...how they treat the vulnerable is a preview of how they will treat everybody, or at least, those who have no power...). Hats off the intrepid reporters for the Washington Post, who compiled an outstanding chronicle of how the Department of Homeland Security (or, if you will, Border Guards), when deporting those here without documentation, arbitrarily decides to use anti-psychotic drugs in massive doses to induce docility. The bookend to that article occurs in the New York Times, wherein we find that a completely innocent long distance romance is cut short when the lovely woman's intended is detained at the Empire's border for no other reason than he visits a little too often for the comfort of the agents. After massive intervention by political figures and embarrassing publicity, said gentleman is released back to his own country (a false allegation that the person requested asylum--from Italy!!--is the real topper), while his intended now makes plans to exit the Empire for good, and really, who could blame her? Readers, ask yourselves if you can read of these things and remain the good unconcious consumer (and resident) that the Empire demands.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Devil Weed Update: Geography Changes Perspective

Chaos has, in the last couple of years (ok, maybe one) become interested in the determined efforts of the Empire to prevent its citizens from the beneficial (or not) effects of the cannabis plant. Seems that the government is not above a certain "tunnel vision" when it comes to the real effects on the human body (given the government's track record on other issues, a skeptical attitude might be appropos...), but at any rate, Chaos this morning was struck by the geographical differences between the most benighted state in the Union, where Chaos resides, and California, which can easily be seen in this article. Simply put, it's no big deal to obtain the devil weed quite legally in the most overpopulated but enlightened state. Another read and ponder...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Vision of What Might Have Been

Admittedly, this is a doomer blog...optimism is viewed as unrealistic here, but every so often, one wonders what the Empire and the rest of the world could have done if another direction had been taken. An excerpt from a visionary book, Seven Tomorrows, by Paul Hawken, et al, provides in interesting vision. Try it, it's fun.

The Inevitable Devolution of Air Travel Continues...

Why yes, yes it does...air travel is going the way of the buffalo. If you want some real disorientation, check out some old film from the 40s or 50s where a character walks through the airport and just gets on the plane, without security lines, checkpoints, having to remove heavy parts of luggage and transfer it to a backpack, multiple showings of identification, etc. It's positively astounding to contemporary beings. Well, anyway, here's an article to document these outlandish claims...

Collapse Update: Dmitry Orlov

Our friend, mentioned often here, has a new book on the verge of publication, entitled Reinventing Collapse. A brief excerpt reveals just why our friend is so sought after as a speaker: his wry wit and invaluable insights on the subject of the Empire's imminent collapse are without peer (ok, Kunstler is a close competitor...). Since the book is not yet available, the author has kindly published an excerpt online here. For your enjoyment, and enlightenment....

Reflections On The American "Character"

As regular readers are aware, Chaos believes that there are many and varied technical "solutions" to the current set of converging catastrophes that confront citizens of the planet Earth, but the will to accomplish these is lacking. Further, different geographic regions evince different levels of awareness regarding the said catastrophes; hence, one may reasonably forecast that those who are most aware of the problems and have taken steps to mitigate the same will be the most comfortable in the years ahead. To that end, the continuing study of the character of the citizens of the US has become the primary focus of this blog. The current presidential election provides here a most salient example: two of the three "candidates" for US Emperor have endorsed, enthusiastically, the idea of suspending the miniscule 18 cents/gallon federal gas tax for the summer. It is most essential to note that the success or failure of any such initiative is not at issue here; what is salient is the fact that the majority of those running for the most important office in the nation believe that taking this (completely bogus and counterproductive) position has a reasonable chance of earning votes, which in turn speaks volumes of the American character, which is to say, infantile, ignorant, and completely self-indulgent. Need more? More than several states have taken up the issue; the quote which rings in Chaos' mind is this one from Florida governor Charlie Crist, who, in response to a NY Times reporter's question, answered thus: “I’m supposed to respond to the people and try to make them happy.”

Indeed. Chaos has not much to add, save that it is and will continue to be, quite interesting at the twilight of the Empire...