By Juan Wilson on 5 July 2009 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/07/heres-deal.html)
Image above: Darkness falls on the Titanic. Scene from the 1997 movie by James Cameron.
There is no doubt in my mind that President Obama and his advisors know exactly what is going on concerning the availability of energy, food, the effects of climate change, environmental degradation, overpopulation and a host of interrelated elements of our Human Catastrophe. I believe most world leaders, in a variety of fields - with an overview of economic, social and environmental conditions - understand the dilemma we are in.
Why are we relying on just a few renegades, wingnuts, space cadets and internet bloggers to provide us the truth on this subject? For much the same reason as the crew continued to serve champagne as the band played on during the last few hours that the Titanic was afloat. It kept the passengers calm.
On April 14th, 1912, at 11:40 pm the Captain of the Titanic, Edward John Smith, was awakened by the collision with an iceberg and rushed to the bridge. He received the report of the accident from his officers and then made a quick inspection of the ship. A three hundred foot gash along the starboard side of the ship compromised too many bulkheads for continued flotation. Smith knew then what the fate of the Titanic would be.
He immediately ordered the lifeboats prepared but wavered when it came to giving the order to load and lower them. He, of course, knew there were not enough lifeboats for all on board, and that the freezing ocean water was as deadly as fire. His legendary skills of leadership seem to have left him. Smith was curiously indecisive and unusually cautious. He was last seen in the bridge area having given the final order to abandon ship. He appears to have made no attempt to save himself. Two and a half hours after the strike, the Titanic slipped beneath the sea carrying most aboard to the bottom.
The phrase used today about parts of our economy "Too Big to Fail" echoes the reputation of "The Unsinkable Titanic". Obama and Company, as well as the others at the helm of our global human enterprise, know what is going on... and know the general landscape of the future. They are acting much like the crew of the Titanic; managing the remaining resources; planning to evacuate the most privileged first. In the meantime they are keeping us calm with misinformation and satisfied with creature comforts, while manhandling the rowdy and boisterous.
Unfortunately, Obama has kept on the same crew that steered us into the iceberg. But that seems only fair since we all were having such a jolly time as passengers of the good ship Gluttony.
Slow Motion Effect
Many seem oblivious of our current plight. To some degree that is because, relative to an individual's average daily experience, no change is so calamitous as to be a game-ender. It is all happening incrementally, in slo-mo. So what if CitiBank just closed-out your Visa card at 19.99%? You still have $2000 available on that Discovery card for 29.99%. When it gets real is when the Sheriff's department comes to evict you from your home with kevlar vests and their hands touching their 9mms. But even then, it does not seem real. You must have heard at least one eyewitness victim of a hurricane landing or train wreck describe it as "it was just like in the movies", or "It seemed like it was happening to someone else". If you've ever been in a car crash you know that slow-motion mental state. That inevitable instant before contact you mind calmly evaluates where the likely impact will be and considers possible outcomes and injuries. It is like dodging bullets in a Matrix shootout. In a social-historical context things are just ripping along in high gear. In a geological or climatic context we're traveling at warp speed.
Back in the 1980's I was doing some research at the Ford Foundation, in New York, for a disaster movie script. We needed to know about people's psychological state in specific disaster situations. What we found was a series of papers on a condition called the Disaster Syndrome. It is a state where so many things go wrong at the same time that a person cannot make a rational decision as to what to do first or next.
Those afflicted become immobilized, dumbstruck, passive and ineffective. So, for example, after a tornado has left nothing but rubble and a chimney where there was once a home, the emergency workers that arrive at the site find the owner in an almost catatonic state of dazed confusion. (see http://www.semp.us/publications/biot_reader.php?BiotID=420) The United Nations, United States, State of Hawaii, and County of Kauai will not be nimble enough to keep up with the events playing out. Each will go bust in an attempt to keep the old system intact. There won't be enough blankets, cocoa and donuts for them to keep us snug and warm. Katrina was the poster child for this "new" phenomena in America.
But things are not going to go kablooey in an instant. Varying parts of the system will unravel at different times. Collapse will be uneven from country to country and from province to province. For that matter from neighborhood to neighborhood and house to house. Anticipating the unraveling is key. Be saving and investing in the future that is coming while you can.
There may be as long as a few years for us to get off the grid and be on our own. One thing is for sure. It will be mighty inconvenient for us here on an outer island in the middle of the Pacific when a major supplier, like Amazon.com, or a shipper, like Federal Express, say they no longer can afford to deliver products to Kauai as they did in the cheap-old-days. Begin getting what you'll need for your new life now.
Be the Solution
The most important investment you can make at this time is that which leads to you securing food, water and energy. For example, this could mean:
• using a food co-op for buying power; joining a community vegetable garden; putting up your own raised-bed food garden; getting a surf-casting rig for shore fishing; or learning to hunt pig with bow and arrow.
• getting a storage container for a few hundred gallons of fresh water; installing a rain catchment system off your roof; diverting ditch water for crops or digging a water well.
• buying a small electric storage device and inverter for emergency lighting and communication; deploying some solar-voltaic panels; erecting a small electric generating windmill or generating electricity with a washing machine motor off waterwheel.Start now. Ease your way in. Do things incrementally. Find out what works for you. Scale your operations up as you can afford to. After your own food, water and energy are in hand you can go on to secure some education, entertainment and recreation. There are many ways to go... but go you must.
Chronicle of Hawaii's history from Kamehameha
Image above: Detail of "A Gathering of Chiefs" by Herb Kane. From http://herbkaneart.com/commissions.html#chiefs
WHAT: "Conquest of Hawaii" is a documentary produced by the History Channel that details the arrival of the first polynesians who created a bountiful society which was later taken over by western settlers who overthrew the Hawaiian Monarchy and later forced Statehood upon the Native Hawaiians, to Hawaii's present situation and the Sovereignty Movement. There will be talk story and discussion to follow.
Kapaa Neighborhood Center Auditorium, on Kuhio Highway
One of the most remote places on earth, the Hawaiian Islands were thrust into the spotlight of history by Pearl Harbor, and then the Pacific archipelago became America's 50th state in 1959. From the voyages of the ancient Polynesians to the current independence movement, this feature-length special examines America's tropical treasures.
By Mark Lee on 30 June 2009 in Bloomberg News - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=afznMNIlt0XQ
Image above: Chinese using computers to access the internet. From http://chinadigitaltimes.net/china/censorship/
[Editor's Note: Only computers using Microsoft Windows operating system are targeted. Macintosh OSX and Linux systems are not currently affected by Green Dam Youth Escort software.]
China postponed tomorrow’s deadline for personal-computer makers to include a state-backed anti- pornography software on new PCs after U.S. officials and business groups urged it to scrap the rule.
The government is delaying mandatory installation of the Green Dam Youth Escort software after PC makers demanded more time, the Beijing-based Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on its Web site today.
Business groups representing U.S. technology companies including Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Microsoft Corp. told Premier Wen Jiabao last week that Green Dam may undermine computer security. The software, which the Chinese government said is designed to block pornographic sites, also limits access to political content, tightening censorship of the world’s biggest Web market by users, university researchers said.
“The worry is it could compromise the user experience, if it really does create an unstable system, and raise concerns about security,” Bryan Ma, vice-president at research company IDC in Singapore, said before the announcement. “There will be a few hiccups along the way as PC vendors struggle to adjust their logistics and production processes.”
The ministry is soliciting opinions to improve the pre- installation plan, and didn’t say if it had set a new deadline. The ministry will keep providing a free version of the software and install it in PCs in schools and Internet cafes.
‘Barrier to Trade’
The Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft, was among 22 industry groups in North America, Europe and Japan that signed a letter to Wen urging the government to review the software requirement, citing concerns on freedom of information and computer performance.
China should revoke its mandate for the software, which poses a “possible barrier to trade,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said June 24. Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a joint letter to Chinese officials last week the software adoption may violate World Trade Organization rules.
The Green Dam program blocks anti-government Web sites, in addition to pornographic material, and will impair computer performance by making machines more prone to security breaches, according to a June 11 report by researchers at the University of Michigan.
Largest Web Market
Government control of the Internet will be increased through the implementation of Green Dam, a “substandard product” developed by companies with little experience in such software, according to a June 12 report by OpenNet Initiative, which includes researchers at the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and University of Toronto.
The industry ministry said in its statement today that the software is for the public good and doesn’t infringe on trade, technology or privacy issues and complies with WTO regulations. The program doesn’t obstruct the free flow of information, it said.
China, which passed the U.S. last year as the world’s biggest Internet market, had 316 million Web users at the end of March, the state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported in April, citing Xi Guohua, vice minister of industry and information technology.
Lenovo Group Ltd. and Acer Inc. are among vendors which have agreed to ship the software. Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the world’s two biggest PC makers, have said they are reviewing the requirement.
“We’ll continue to advise customers worldwide about widely available Web-filtering software that has been thoroughly tested and we know performs well on Dell computers,” Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said in an e-mailed statement today.
Hewlett-Packard said in an e-mail it is working with the ITI trade group “to seek additional information, clarify open questions and monitor developments on this matter.”