By Stephan Messenger on 18 July 2011 for TreeHugger -
Image above: Interior of typical Jet Blue plane with a TV on every seat. From (http://www.aviationexplorer.com/jet_blue_airways.htm).
Carmageddon may have come and gone without causing too much chaos on in car-driven city of Los Angeles, but that's not to say there were no winners resulting from the closing of a busy 10-mile stretch of freeway over the weekend. In response to one airline's offer of ridiculously low fares to fly over LA this weekend, a group of cyclists challenged an airplane to a race to see which vehicle actually offers the better deal. And, perhaps ironically, the best adjective to describe the outcome is to say the zero-emissions travelers handily 'smoked' their polluting competition.
The challengers in the unique race were six bicyclists from the cycling organization Wolfpack Hustle going head to head with a blogger aboard a JetBlue flight to see who could make it from Burbank to Long Beach the quickest. Only somewhat surprisingly, the spry pedal-powered transport beat out the airplane, with more than enough time to spare. The team of cyclists managed to finish the 40 mile journey in just over an hour and a half.
A report from the Los Angeles Times has the details on the cyclists' resounding victory:
The cyclists and a blogger aboard the JetBlue flight left at 10:50 a.m. from the same intersection in North Hollywood -- with the blogger having to drive to the airport, arriving an hour before the 12:20 p.m. flight, then catching a ride to the aquarium in Long Beach, the finish line. The plane had just taken off when the cyclists arrived.
Offering such low a price for intercity airline tickets must have seemed like a great idea for JetBlue's marketing team -- a way to promote their trips in leu of easy road travel -- but in a surprising twist, bikes have proven the better mode of transport. Note: Video below includes advertisement.
Video above: LA 405 closing opportunity for a bike vs plane race. From (http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/07/16/cyclists-in-burbank-beat-jetblue-to-long-beach).
Grains are often called the “staff of life,” having a sort of credibility that is biblical in proportion. So prevalent is the perception that grains make for “good food” that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – which is the United Nation’s international agency for defeating hunger – uses a head of wheat as its emblem, with the Latin Fiat Panis or “Let There Be Bread” as its motto.
Despite the rather lofty secular position a loaf of whole grain bread may hold in the international community, the biblical record actually shows that the first foods mentioned in the Bible were the Herbs and Fruit Trees (Genesis 1:29), and that by punishment for sin God gave man bread:
“…cursed is the ground for thy sake;…In the sweat of thy face shalt though eat bread, till though return unto the ground…” (Genesis 3:17,19).
The inherent wisdom of this biblical message has long been forgotten and today, according to the USDA MyPlate, grains should constitute a sizeable sector of our diet in the form of “bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.” Many of us, whose hyper-agrarian taste buds and gastrointestinal tracts have never once gone a day without some grain-derived morsel of bread or cracker, find ourselves expressing our dependency on these foods in telling, half confessionary phrases like: “I’m starving for a piece of bread,” or “that pizza is to die for,” forgetting that among non-agrarian peoples, grains were universally considered a last resort, or, starvation food only.
In an agrarian society such as our own, we should expect our government to recommend the consumption of grains and our contemporaries to consume grains in plenty. After all, we are no longer hunting and gathering our food. Cereal grasses, in fact, are at the substrate of nearly all modern food production, from the breads we bake, to the milk we drink and to the meats we eat.** With 10% corn ethanol gasoline now a federal mandate, even our vehicles are forced to quench their thirst at the table of the almighty grain.7
And yet despite all of this, economic pressures and cultural preferences can not delete the fact that our bodies did not evolve on a grain-based diet. Grain consumption en masse, in fact, stretches back only 1-500 generations (20-10,000 years)*, depending on how far from the bread basket of civilization, i.e. the Fertile Crescent, one’s ancestors happened to have wandered, or how fortunate they were in fending off invading agrarian societies, such as the Romans, whose moniker as the “Wheat Empire” was earned to it by the fact that that Roman forts were actually granaries, designed to hold a year supply of wheat in case of siege.
Still today, the Irish, Scottish and Finns have some of the world’s highest levels of celiac disease, as their resilient ancestors managed – for the most part – to fend off the Roman invaders, while at the same time preventing them from adapting adequately to the radically different fair of a grain based diet. (Learn more in our article The Dark Side of Wheat)
Historical examples like these provide an interesting window to peer through, but it is to prehistory, as inscribed so perfectly into the very flesh and bone of the human frame, and then even further down to our very DNA, that we must look if we are to perceive with any clarity how alien cereal grass seeds are to our metabolism.
The most obvious physiological representation of this fact is that we are monogastric mammals, and therefore are not equipped with the multitude of forestomachs found in the ruminant animals which enable them to break down these difficult to digest grasses. Even the ruminants have great difficulty with the “seed” form of the grasses, developing metabolic acidosis, infections and other “diseases of affluence” not dissimilar to those that afflict humans who consume grains heavily, especially when fed wheat.
Seeds, after all, are the “babies” of these plants, and are invested with not only the entire hope for continuance of its species, but a vast armory of anti-nutrients to help it accomplish this task: toxic lectins, phytates and oxalates, alpha-amalyase and trypsin inhibitors, and endocrine disrupters. These not so appetizing phytochemicals enable plants to resist predation of their seeds, or at least preventing them from “going out without a punch.” (Learn about the ultimate "invisible thorn" in wheat seeds here)
We are monogastric mammals for a reason. Our gastrointestinal tracts have been intelligently constructed via millions of years of adaptation to environmental determinants, with diet first in order of importance. It is no longer a mystery why we are built the way we are. In fact decades of research in biology, evolution, anthropology and genetics have now brought to light the formative forces behind our present day metabolism and physiology.We Are What We Once Ate Long Ago
A growing body of research has emerged which focuses on the relationship between agrarian or grain-based diets and diseases of affluence, and how increased susceptibility for obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in agrarian societies can be linked to the absence of genetic adaptations to the consumption of grains in our species as a whole. These genetic aberrations can be further broken down, to varying degrees of intensity, in demographically distinct human populations who have had between 1 and 500 generations of biological time to adjust to their consumption. The greater the distance in space and time a human subgroup has spent from grain consumption, the less likely that group will have the genes necessary to handle the metabolism of grains effectively.
That we did not evolve eating cereal grasses was made perfectly clear in the published thesis: “Agrarian diet and disease of affluence – Do evolutionary novel dietary lectins cause leptin resistance?” where a group of European scientists** point out that:
“The grasses emerged between 65 and 55 million years ago. And since the last common ancestor of the humans emerged before this time, some 90 to 65 million years ago, it cannot have had a diet consisting of seeds from grass. Subsequent evolution of our primate ancestors up until 4-8 million years ago is thought to have taken place in the trees, where almost all potential plant food comes from dicotyledonous species and the monocotyledonous grasses are absent.”
At some point 4-8 million years ago our arboreal ancestors descended from their trees taking up a radically different livelihood as ground level foragers, and later as nomadic hunters and gatherers.
The advent of Homo Sapiens 200,000 years ago saw animal foods become increasingly important. As our ancestors moved away from equatorial zones, where vegetarian sources of food were available year round, carnivorous behavior sustained our migrations to less hospitable latitudes.
Carbon isotopic signature analysis of hominin remains from the Upper Paleolithic (28-29K years ago) reveal that these ancient hunters and gatherers were consuming animal protein year-round at a higher trophic level than the arctic fox.**
This is not surprising information, considering that thorough analyses of the data gleaned from the world’s historically studied hunters and gatherers show that 73% of them obtained 50% or more of their subsistence from hunted and fished animal foods.**
Perhaps the strongest case can be made for a grain free diet by looking a certain genetic defects all humans share in their genotype.
1. Humans share several distinctive genetic traits with felines: a) enlarged brain size and reduced gut size, in response to an animal based diet. b) the inability to synthesize taurine, an amino acid found in high levels in animal foods c) the reduced ability to convert 18 carbon omega 3 fatty acids found in grains and seeds, e.g. alpha linolenic acid, into the metabolically essential 20 and 22 carbon fatty acids like EPA/DHA found in animal flesh, e.g. wild fish.
2. Humans are incapable of deactivating the leptin-blocking lectin found in grains, which makes them prone to obesity. The exact gene sequence that deactivates this lectin is found in genetically diverse species such as rodents and birds; a homology, no doubt, which exists because both species have had many thousands of years more time than humans to adjust to grain consumption.
Moreover, different human populations have differing degrees of grain adaptation.
1. Scientists have identified an incomplete Angiotensin Converting Enzyme gene, and an incomplete alipoprotein B gene in groups of humans who have very high rates of cardiovascular disease, and have had little time to adapt to an agrarian diet.
2. Celiac disease afflicts, in greatest number, exactly those human populations that have had the greatest separation in time and space from the agrarian modality. (Learn how 30% of the world's population has the "celiac gene" here).
The story of our intolerance to grains is complex, and involves too many factors to address in this short article. We will briefly list the most dominant problems, which we hope to cover in future analyses:
1. High anti-nutrient content: enzyme inhibitors, mineral binding phytates and oxalates.
2. toxic lectins which increase gut permeability, aggravate distant cell types and organ systems in the body, and stimulate the production of autoantigens. (Learn how wheat lectin relates to potato, rice, barley and tomato lection here).
3. Unbalanced amino acid profiles: low in the essential amino acid lysine, and extremely high in the excitoxic amino acids aspartic and gluamtic acid,
4. DNA sequences in grains, e.g. gliadin in wheat, exhibit similar, if not identical patterns with certain pathogens and human tissue, e.g. pertactin (the immunodominant sequence form pertussis – the pathogen that causes whooping cough) shares the same sequence as the wheat protein known as gliadin. This ‘molecular mimicry’ can cause autoimmune reactions and disease.
5. Certain grains have opiate-like activity in the brain e.g. wheat contains gliadimorphin which activates the endogenous opiate receptors. (Learn more about Gluten exorphins)
6. Grains once processed and cooked have high glycemic ratings, causing the endocrine roller coaster that can lead to both forms of diabetes.
7. 70% of the industrial world’s grain production goes to feeding livestock, poultry and fish.
*It is possible that these estimations need to be revised to 30,000 years ago. Read "Bread was Around 30,000 Years Ago" To Learn More.
** Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Diets for Modern Humans, pg. 367.
By Juan Wilson on 17 July 2011 for Island Breath -
Image above: Another war for "freedom". Burned out cars in Misrata, Libya, in April 2011. One way to de-industrialize. From (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381068/Hundreds-dead-bodies-streets-city-reduced-rubble-Full-horror-Misrata-siege-finally-emerges.html).
The last two articles we have posted on our site tell much of the same story, but from two widely separated angles - in short - that the planet is dying in our hands and needs release from our clutches. One post "End of the lie" was written by a teenage girl discovering herself, and posted on Guy McPherson's website Nature Bats Last.
The other, "You can't kill a planet and live on it too" on Truthout.org, was co-authored by Derrick Jenson - a middle aged man who is in full rejection of industrialism. Needless to say, this is a downer of a subject. People don't want to know this story because it's their story and it will end badly.
We'd rather watch a TV, computer or movie screen. We'd rather eat out than go shop for the groceries and we'd rather do that than grow the food ourselves. We've become that soft and dependent - like babies. We have found that on the TV, computer and movie screen we can be chisel-jawed, ripped and immortal. The poignant fact is we are mortal. We die.
We are probably alone on Earth in our knowledge of this fact. It is a underlying generator of our culture and art. It can also drive us mad. We are apparently so twisted in our heads right now that we have decided to take the planet with us. Not fair to Mother Earth or our own children. Is there a way out for Earth? Funny you asked. There is one coming up immediately. It could happen in a matter of days.
It is letting the full faith and credit of the United States (and ultimately the world) go into default. Could it be that the obscene circus that is Washington politics is pointing into an otherwise unimaginable deadlock that could make the financial heart attack we suffered in 2008 seem like mere indigestion.
The current deadlock between the Republicans and Democrats is at root two paths on way to de-industrialization. The Democratic path leads to maintaining a social safety net that is unaffordable and will have to consume all other activities to provide food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid, resulting in too many who are idle and obese. The Republican path leads to privitization of all of the common and the commercialization of all living resources for the benefit of a few corporate types in bunker like resorts.
Pick a hell - Democratic "Socialism" or Republican "Capitalism". Both need plenty of lethal energy and all the money in the world. But even that won't be enough for either of them. Were their deadlock to take us over the edge of the cliff, what will happen? Chaos, collapse, crime, starvation, war? True. But that's happening already - but not to us.
We live in the gated community called "Western Civilization". Outside the gates it's getting gnarly. As the cheap oil growth model of our economy grinds to a stop the financial order of Europe and the United States ( as well as attendant hangers-on) will fail.
We known this for a long time. The 2007 housing bubble burst and $147/barrel oil spike in 2008 were only Act One of the drama we find ourselves acting in. The intermission is over. Quiet please, Act Two is about to begin.
Do you know your role? Got your lines? The lights are dimming. Whether we have a federal default or just get a little closer to one, we could generate a loss of financial faith that would introduce us to the pain the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) are going through. Palpable impoverishment.
Of course our representatives in DC are likely to try and kick the can down the road one more time and cobble together an accommodation to allow both living hells to stumble on like zombies. Just a little more time - Pleeeaze! As we have urged for several years now; it's time to get your house in order.
There is little chance for high speed rail, alternative energy replacement for oil, or government programs for work (other than war). Get off all the grids on which you find yourself. Build up your local networks. Pray for Mother Earth.
Ea O Ka Aina: Can't have an Earth and eat it too 7/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: End of the lie 7/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Time to stop pretending 4/27/11
Ea O Ka Aina: All Aboard! 12/9/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Here's the Deal 7/5/09
Ea O Ka Aina: The speech Obama needs to give 10/13/09
Island Breath: Our Impending Journey Nears 8/24/07
By Frank Smecker & Derrick Jensen on 16 July 2011 for TruthOut -
Image above: Are we too primitive to control our urges? From (http://jennadesigns.blogspot.com/2011/06/birthday-fun-and-cake-messes.html).
With an entire planet being slaughtered before our eyes, it's terrifying to watch the very culture responsible for this - the culture of industrial civilization, fueled by a finite source of fossil fuels, primarily a dwindling supply of oil - thrust forward wantonly to fuel its insatiable appetite for "growth."
Deluded by myths of progress and suffering from the psychosis of technomania complicated by addiction to depleting oil reserves, industrial society leaves a crescendo of atrocities in its wake.
A very partial list would include the Bhopal chemical disaster, numerous oil spills, the illegal depleted uranium-spewing occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, the nuclear meltdown of Fukushima, the permanent removal of 95 percent of the large fish from the oceans (not to mention full-on systemic collapse of those oceans), indigenous communities replacement by oil wells, the mining of coltan for cell phones and Playstations along the Democratic Republic of the Congo/Rwanda border - resulting in tribal warfare and the near-extinction of the Eastern Lowland gorilla.
As though 200 species going extinct each day were not enough, climate change, a direct result of burning fossil fuels, has proved not only to be as unpredictable as it is real, but as destructive as it is unpredictable. The erratic and lethal characteristics of a changing planet and its shifting atmosphere are becoming the norm of the 21st century, their impact accelerating at an alarming pace, bringing this planet closer, sooner than later, to a point of uninhabitable ghastliness. And yet, collective apathy, ignorance and self-imposed denial in the face of all this sadistic exploitation and violence marches this culture closer to self-annihilation.
Lost in the eerily comforting fantasy of limitless growth, production and consumption, many people cling to things like Facebook, Twitter, "Jersey Shore" and soulless pop music as if their lives depended on it, identifying with a reality that's artificial and constructed, that panders to desire rather than necessity, that delicately conceals the violence at the other end of this economy, a violence so widespread that we're all not only complicit in it to a degree (e.g., if you're a taxpayer, you help subsidize the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction), but victims of it as well. As Chris Hedges admonished in his books, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy" and the "Triumph of Spectacle," any culture that cannot distinguish reality from illusion will kill itself.
Moreover, any culture that cannot distinguish reality from illusion will kill everything and everyone else in its path as well as itself.
As the world burns, as species die off, as mothers breastfeed their children with dioxin-tainted breast milk, as nuclear reactors melt down into the Pacific while the aerial deployment of depleted uranium damages innocent lives, it is perplexing that so few people fight back against a system that has horror as a reality for most living on the planet. And those who fight back, who stand in opposition to the culture behind such wholesale abuse and call it what it is - a genocidal mega-state (especially if you believe that the lives of nonhumans are as important to them as yours is to you and mine is to me) - are met with hostility and hatred, scoffed at, harassed, even tortured. With so much at stake, why aren't more people deafening their ears to the nutcases who preach a future of infinite-growth economies? And why do so many people continue to put "the economy" first, to take industrial capitalism as we know it as a given and not fight back, defend what's left of the natural world?
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"One of the reasons there aren't more people working to take down the system that's killing the planet is because their lives depend on the system," author and environmental activist Derrick Jensen told me from his home in California when I interviewed him on the phone recently. "If your experience is that your food comes from the grocery store and your water comes from the tap, then you are going to defend to the death the system that brings those to you because your life depends on them," Jensen explained. "If your experience, however, is that your food comes from a land base and that your water comes from a stream, well, then you will defend to the death that land base and that stream. So part of the problem is that we have become so dependent upon this system that is killing and exploiting us, it has become almost impossible for us to imagine living outside of it and it's very difficult physically for us to live outside of it.
"The other problem is that fear is the belief we have something left to lose. What I mean by this is that I really like my life right now, as do a lot of people. We have a lot to lose if this culture is to go down. A primary reason so many of us do not want to win this war - or even acknowledge that it's going on - is that we materially benefit from this war's plunder. I'm really unsure how many of us would be willing to give up our automobiles and cell phones, hot showers and electric lights, our grocery and clothing stores. But the truth is, the system that leads to these things, that leads to technological advancement and our identity as civilized beings, are killing us and, more importantly, killing the planet."
Even in the absence of global warming, this culture would still be murdering the planet, bumping off pods of whales and flocks of birds; detonating mountaintops to access strata of coal and bauxite, eliminating entire ecosystems. All this violence inflicted upon an entire planet to run an economy based on the foolish and immoral notion that we can sustain industrial societies, all while trashing the planet's land bases, ecosystems and life. And the fantastic rhetoric those who insist on adapting to these changes promulgate - that technology will find a fix, that we can adapt, that the planet can and will conform to fixes in the market - is dangerous.
"Another part of the problem," Jensen told me, "is the narratives behind this culture's way of living. The premises of these narratives grant us the exclusive rights and privileges of dominion over this planet. Whether you subscribe to the religion of Science or of Christianity, these narratives tell us that our intelligence and abilities permit us exclusive rights and privileges to work our will on the world that is here for us to use. The problem with these stories, whether you believe in them or not, is that they have real effects on the physical world. The stories we're told about the world shape the way we perceive the world and the way we perceive the world shapes the way we behave in the world.
The stories of industrial capitalism - that we can sustain infinite-growth economies - shapes the way this culture behaves in the world. And this behavior is killing the planet. Whether the stories we are told are fantasies or not doesn't matter, what matters is that these narratives are physical: the stories of Christianity may be fantasy - let's pretend for a moment that God doesn't exist - well, the Crusades still happened; the notion of race or gender may be up for debate, but obviously, race and gender does matter and this postmodern attitude drives me crazy because, yeah, race and gender is not an actual thing, but it all has real-world effects - African Americans comprise 58 percent of the prison population and one-third of all black men between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine are under some sort of criminal justice supervision; as for gender, well real males rape females.
"Another example [of how things that truly aren't real still have real-world effects]," Jensen continued, "is there was this serial killer a while back who was killing women in Santa Cruz. Voices in his head were telling him that if he didn't kill these women, then California would slide off into the ocean. It's apparent this guy was delusional, a total nut job and sick in the head, but his delusions still resulted in real-world effects.
Hitler too had the delusion that Jews were poisoning the race. That delusion had real-world effects. And we can sit around and discuss whether Weyerhaeuser truly exists, but forests still get deforested. Or better yet, it's pretty clear that it's silly to really believe that the world won't run out of oil ... and then it's suddenly clear that it's not so silly - there is a physical reality. In the real world, you can't have a nature/culture split, but in this culture you do and it has real effects on the physical world. You can't live on a planet and kill it at the same time."
You find the problem with an industrial production economy when you unpack the word "production." As Jensen makes clear in his book "The Culture of Make Believe," production is essentially the conversion of the living to the dead: animals into cold cuts, mountains and rivers into aluminum beer cans, trees into toilet paper, oil into plastics and computers (one computer uses ten times its own mass in fossil fuels). To go paperless is not to go green, or maybe it is, depending on what shade of Green we're talking about here. Basically, every commodity one comes in contact with is soaked in oil, made from resources, marked by, as Jensen puts it, the turning of the living to the dead: Industrial production.
And with conflicts and wars that are waged or instigated by this culture to access (steal) the resources needed to fuel this economy's colossal machines, this culture winds up butchering entire non-industrialized communities of people ... the elderly, children who cling to their mothers as drones hawk over staggered onlookers ... the innocent and vulnerable written off as "collateral damage." Himmler used a similar epithet for Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Serbs, Belarusians, and other Slavic peoples in a pamphlet he edited and had distributed by the SS Race and Settlement Head Office: "Untermenschen."
This is an acceptable price we must pay it, so we are told.
In the US, more lives are lost weekly from preventable cancers and other illnesses than are lost in ten years from terrorist attacks. And the corporations this culture fights for overseas are the very organizations culpable for these domestic deaths every week.
The list of victims whose lives are subject to violent assault and extinction to feed this culture's "production" is as long and as diverse as you want to make it.
"An infinite-growth economy is not only insane and impossible," remarked Jensen, "it's also abusive, by which I mean that it's based on the same conceit as more personal forms of abuse. It is, in fact, the macroeconomic enshrinement of abusive behavior. The guiding principle of abusive behavior is that the abuser refuses to respect or abide by limits or boundaries put up by the victim. Growth economies are essentially unchecked and will push past any boundaries set up by anyone other than the perpetrators. And a successful abuser will always ensure that there are some 'benefits' for the victim, in this case, e.g., we can watch TV, we can have computer access and play games online - we get 'benefits' that essentially keep us in line.
"Furthermore, according to the stories of industrial capitalism, this economic system must constantly increase production to grow and what, after all, is production? It is indeed the conversion of the living to the dead, the conversion of living forests into two-by-fours, living rivers into stagnant pools for generating hydroelectricity, living fish into fish sticks and ultimately all of these into money. And really, what is gross national product? It's a measure of this conversion of the living to the dead. The more quickly the living world is converted into dead products, the higher the GNP. And these simple equations are complicated by the fact that when GNP goes down, people often lose jobs. No wonder the world is getting killed.
"And if we take global warming into consideration here - oh and I believe the latest study on global warming mentioned something along the lines of the planet now being on track to heat up by 29 degrees in the next eighty years ... if that isn't curtailed immediately, no one will survive that ... And so all the so-called solutions to global warming take industrial capitalism as a given.
And here we see the same old abusive behavior: the narratives are not only created around the perceptions of the perpetrators, i.e. those in power, but are forced upon us by them as well, so we come to believe the narratives and accept them as a given. And, essentially, to take industrial capitalism as a given when it comes to solutions to global warming is absolutely absurd and insane. It's out of touch with physical reality. Yet it has disastrous effects on the real physical world. If you force a planet to conform to ideology you get what you get.
"A while back I had a conversation with an anarchist who was complaining that I was 'too ideological,' and that my ideology was 'the health of the earth.' Well, actually, the earth is not and cannot ever be an ideology. The earth is physical. It is real. And it is primary. Without soil, you don't have a healthy land base and without a healthy land base you don't eat, you die. Without drinkable clean water you die."
And this is one of the problems with our culture: its lack of ability to separate ideology - the kind that accommodates maximizing pleasure and domination - from the needs of the natural world. And, so, if solutions to global warming do not immediately address the basic needs of the planet, well ... we're fucked.
"One has to ask," pressed Jensen, "if hammerhead sharks could provide solutions, if the indigenous could give solutions and if we would listen to the solutions they are already giving, would these solutions take industrial capitalism as a given? The bottom line is that capitalist solutions to global warming are coming from the capitalist boosters, from those in power who are responsible for exploiting and destroying us and more importantly, the planet."
By the 1940s, in Germany, Arthur Nebe's gassing van was in wide use. Those who drove Nebe's death vans never thought of themselves as murderers, just as another somebody getting paid to drive a van, to do a job. Today, those who work for Boeing, Raytheon, Weyerhaeuser, Exxon Mobil, BP, the Pentagon ... will always see themselves as employees, not murderers. They will always see themselves as working a job that needs to be done.
Those members of this culture who blindly go along without interrogating the culture's narratives, who identify with the pathology of this culture, will always see themselves as just other members of society. For these people, the murder of a planet feels like economics; it feels normal after having been pushed out of consciousness by careers, styles and fashions; it may not even feel like anything at all after being psychically numbed by pop radio, sitcoms, smart phones, video games ... But at the other end of all these glittery distractions is an unremitting array of violence, poverty, extinction, environmental degradation.
"I saw this right-wing bumper sticker the other day that read, 'You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers,' but it's not just guns: we're going to have to pry rigid claws off steering wheels, cans of hair spray, TV remote controls and two-liter bottles of Jolt Cola," cautioned Jensen. "Each of these individually and all of these collectively are more important to many people than are lampreys, salmon, spotted owls, sturgeons, tigers, our own lives. And that is a huge part of the problem. So of course we don't want to win. We'd lose our cable TV. But I want to win. With the world being killed, I want to win and will do whatever it takes to win."
When Adolph Eichmann stood before the Jerusalem District Court and was asked why he agreed to the task of deporting Jews to the ghettos and concentration camps, his response was, No one ever told me what I was doing was wrong. Today, 200 species have become extinct; another indigenous community will disappear from this planet forever; an entire forest will be removed; and millions of human lives will be forced to endure the agonies of famine, war, disease, thirst, the loss of their land, their community, their way of life. Not enough people have stepped forward to say that what this culture is doing to the planet is wrong.
Well, here it is folks: What this culture is doing to our very selves, what it's doing to the planet, is wrong. So damn wrong. And the sooner we replace this economy, the sooner we can dissolve these toxic illusions and their formative narratives. Only then, can we begin to live the free lives we were born to live and win the fight..
By Aleigha on 15 July 2011 for Nature Bats Last -
Image above: Teen anime character lies under a tree. From (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/295/suzumiyaharuhinoyuutsues8.jpg).
“… and I can’t take it anymore, Aleigha. That’s why I’m leaving. I’m taking what I can carry on my back and my wife and I’m leaving.”I think this is the first time he’s addressed me by name. There’s a sense of urgency in his voice that I’ve never heard there before; the weariness and loneliness of a big dreamer. My name suddenly sounds important — heroic even. Full of potential. The name of a hero in an epic novel or history book. Important. Powerful.
This is one of those moments isn’t it? The kind that will define you. That shows you how your life could look, if you would dare grow the ovaries to chase something else. One of the moments you can’t back down from.
Mike goes on. He’s really serious. He’s leaving his teaching career to become an organic gardener. He talks about peak oil, WWOOFing, his wife, couch surfing, anthropocentrism and freedom. This is one of those moments. And even though he only talks about how these things have impacted his life, I know that soon, I’ll be as crazy as he is. This is my first lesson in what is said best in a book called Endgame: “You can have the greatest excuse in the world, or you can have the world.” The man in front of me has chosen the former. And me? I’m getting awfully tired of excuses.
This is the first time in my life where a lifestyle in union with the earth seems like a realistic possibility. It is not, however, the first time I’ve considered such a life.
I’ve been a little strange my entire life. To use my father’s words, (and what better way to describe oneself than with the words of thine own creator?) I’ve always a bit of a “hippie.” Not that I was out protesting against big oil at the age of three, but there are dozens of tiny memories of me, hinting at the far left ideologist I would become. Watching Captain Planet, a show about Gaia the environmental super hero and eco-terrorists fighting against companies polluting the planet. Day dreaming of being an anthropologist — although I didn’t know the word yet — taken in by the tribe she was studying.
My first crush and I discussing the horrors of animal abuse during free time in our second grade classroom. My third-grade teacher telling our class that oil was a fossil fuel, explaining that it means that it will eventually run out. Being hopelessly confused about my church being on the side against gay marriage when I was no older than eight or nine. I didn’t talk about these little moments, nor did I bother to explore them too deeply. They were just thoughts, a small part of me no more significant than my love for Disney shows.
And then came high school. Second semester of freshmen year, I would meet Mr. Lance Huffman. He was teaching my Advanced Freshman English class, had an excellent speaking voice and loved to use it. I thought he was the smartest person in the world. He talked about social justice, white privilege, Columbine, the Holocaust, the singularity, and he even occasionally talked about English. Above all things, he taught me to question everything. I never spoke in his class, honestly I found his wisdom a bit intimidating, but he changed me for the better. Put the passing thoughts of my childhood on a more direct course.
Sophomore year I joined our campus’s unity program. My thoughts on the first meeting were literally “I hope they talk about the stuff Huffman used to rant about.” They did. I was still quiet, observing, but I loved every moment.
The club I was in was responsible for a camp called Unitown. It was literally indescribable. I was forced to confront the world as what it was: Terrible and wonderful and complicated. I allowed the movement of social justice to swallow me whole. I met some of the most amazing people I ever have during those few days.
One was a speaker named Calvin Terrell, the camp director who would touch my heart in a way no one else has ever come close to. Sabre, a person who would force me to get over the few bits of remaining Homophobia. But the two that are most relevant to this essay are Mike (we called the teachers by their first names at camp) and Yordano.
So we find ourselves again in our hook. I am a fifteen-year-old questioning my belief in a Christian god — or at least pretending to question my belief in a Christian god. I go to the one adult I know who is an atheist and ask his opinion on the matter –or rather look to him to tell me that it is okay to use my mind in matters of faith. We talk, and somehow reach the topic of Mike’s future. Mike’s got to go home for the day: exit Sliwa.
Enter Yordano. I share with him Mike’s plans, and we relish in the glorious dream of freedom. Over the past year and some months, this young man has become one of the most important in my life. My anam cara, a soul friend capable of awakening the fullness and wonder within me. Mike may have handed me the map to the Rabbit Hole, but Yordano holds me up in Wonderland. Helping me explore this new world as vicariously as a child. Keeping me from imploding on the days where I find my core to be a vacuum, sucking in all of the world pain and certain doom until it begins to suck at my own edges.
The summer between sophomore and junior year and into junior year, I begin to read more than I ever have in my life. Quinn mostly. Ishmael, My Ishmael, The Story of B. Some less radical books on religion, and my first love, social justice. Eventually, after months of pestering from Mike and resistance from me I make my way up to Derrick Jensen. The Culture of Make Believe and Endgame, Volume I.
I find myself in a bit of a slump. The world is a dark and scary place. Our culture is toxic. My family is uninterested in what I have to say on the matter and the only person who’s on my level is two hundred miles away. I’m back in Huffman’s class — I talk now — and I have Mike to combat the feeling of isolation. It helps but it’s not enough.
If I do not find direction soon, I will self destruct. So I look harder than I ever have before and stumble upon something wonderful: Bali’s Green School. I cry at the beauty of the idea, and decide that this is the path I want to take. Until then, college, WWOOFing and a normal teaching career, until I can get away joining the staff in Bali, or somewhere else, at a school for children raised to live in communion with the earth.
It’s a wonderful dream.
But still, I struggle. I am the child of a culture driven by a tendency toward destruction, as is everyone I know and love. I try hating it. I try loving it. I try escaping it. Nothing works. For now, I am stuck here. Here, in this paradox of soft new cloths on a baby, and the enslavement of young women for the sake of affordability. Here in the place between promise of the open road, and the threat of a world inhabitable for my children. Here between the gas tank and the gun.
I love my life. I hate the way I’m living it.
I lay beneath a tree. I do not know its name, so I cannot share it with you. I can tell you though that it is magnificent. I listen as the wind rustles through the leaves. A very beautiful man once told me that this means the tree was whispering.
“Do not deny me, Cousin” I can almost hear. Cousin, if you go back far enough we share a great grandparent somewhere, a simpler plant that would later evolve in one direction toward treedom and animal life in another. “Use me as needed, shelter, paper, company, but do not deny me. Do not deny my right to live upon this earth beside you, Cousin.”
I feel a crawling on my feet. Apparently I am close to some ants. I see this as my cue to stop bothering them. I flick the few that have begun to crawl on me off, remove my sandals and run. Barefoot. Feeling the earth beneath me and wishing it were an accidental clearing rather than a golf course. For now though, it’ll have to do.
I love my life. It’s time to start living better.
• Aleigha is a high-school student by day and radical dreamer by night.
And if you were wondering why the hell Republicans are making so much fuss over a measure that will save Americans loads of money and improve energy efficiency, you're not alone. But know that it's really quite simple: It's a political opportunity for the GOP to play to its Tea Party base on a relatively low-stakes platform. They conjure up the specter of Big Government taking away your freedom to pick a light bulb, spout ideological nonsense, rinse, and repeat.
There's quite simply no reason -- other than politics -- that requiring companies to improve efficiency technology could be seen as a bad idea. Saving energy, saving money, reducing pollution, curbing carbon emissions, creating jobs -- there's little downside. Even the industry itself has already largely accepted the standards.
So allow me to reiterate: This has nothing to do with common sense, and everything to do with ideological manipulation.More on Light Bulbs Light Bulb Ban Would Save Consumers $12.5 Billion by 2020, Eliminate 33 Power Plants .
The rancorous debate over the debt belies a fundamental truth of our economy -- that it is run for the few at the expense of the many, that our entire government has been turned into a machine which takes the wealth of a mass of Americans and accelerates it into the hands of the few. Let me give you some examples.
Take war. War takes the money from the American people and puts it into the hands of arms manufacturers, war profiteers, and private armies. The war in Iraq, based on lies: $3 trillion will be the cost of that war. The war in Afghanistan; based on a misreading of history; half a trillion dollars in expenses already. The war against Libya will be $1 billion by September.
Fifty percent of our discretionary spending goes for the Pentagon. A massive transfer of wealth into the hands of a few while the American people lack sufficient jobs, health care, housing, retirement security.
Our energy policies take the wealth from the American people and put it into the hands of the oil companies. We could be looking at $150 a barrel for oil in the near future.
Our environmental policy takes the wealth of the people -- clean air, clean water -- and puts it in the hands of the polluters. It's a transfer of wealth, not only from the present but from future generations as our environment is ruined.
Insurance companies, what do they do? They take the wealth from the American people in terms of what they charge people for health insurance and they put it into the hands of the few.
We have to realize what this country's economy has become. Our monetary policy, through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, privatized the money supply, gathers the wealth, puts it in the hands of the few while the Federal Reserve can create money out of nothing, give it to banks to park at the Fed while our small businesses are starving for capital.
Mark my words -- Wall Street cashes in whether we have a default or not. And the same type of thinking that created billions in bailouts for Wall Street and more than $1 trillion in giveaways by the Federal Reserve today leaves 26 million Americans either underemployed or unemployed. And nine out of ten Americans over the age of 65 are facing cuts in their Social Security in order to pay for a debt which grew from tax cuts for the rich and for endless wars.
There is a massive transfer of wealth from the American people to the hands of a few and it's going on right now as America's eyes are misdirected to the political theater of these histrionic debt negotiations, threats to shut down the government, and willingness to make the most Americans pay dearly for debts they did not create.These are symptoms of a government which has lost its way, and they are a challenge to the legitimacy of the two-party system. .
It has been called “Carmageddon,” "the nightmare on the 405" and "the mother of all traffic jams." Considering the psyche of drivers in Los Angeles, these sensationalized nicknames for the massive shutdown of the 405 freeway on July 15-18 might not be too far off the mark. We are Angelenos, after all, and if there is one thing we have the right to do, it’s to get behind the wheel of our eco-friendly-sporty-SUV-Lexus-BMW-Toyota-hybrids and drive. Preferably while sipping on a latte, talking on our “hands-free” device and listening to Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” For many of us, getting behind the wheel is a form of meditation. It’s time to blow off some steam, think about work or wonder what that personalized license plate on the car ahead is supposed to mean. The freeway, whether good or bad, has become a venue of release for pent-up rage, stress and frustration. However, I fear that our psyches might not be able to withstand a traffic jam of this magnitude.
Imagine the fictitious river of gooey supernatural liquid flowing below New York City, which was fed by people's rage and hatred in the movie Ghostbusters II. The 405 is very similar. Now picture a dam blocking that flow of rage and frustration, which is essentially what will happen when the 53-hour construction project commences.
In spite of the freedom the 405 provides, it’s also a cesspool of negative emotions so heavy it sucks the light from the casual passer-by, transforming even schoolteachers into homicidal maniacs. If you have never watched the movie Falling Down, I suggest you rent a copy, stock up on supplies and stay home that July weekend. Perhaps California should declare a holiday or a state of emergency not only to commemorate the weekend that the most congested freeway in the world was completely shut off from the city’s traffic flow, but also as a way to offer busy and beleaguered commuters a few days off of work and a few days of freedom from the stress of struggling against Hummers, SUVs and semitrucks to make it on time. But if the powers that be neglect to take advantage of this momentous opportunity for a holiday, at least it’s a good excuse for making it into work late, or not at all.
Officials are expecting traffic conditions on local streets and freeways within L.A. County and beyond to be severe, with multi-hour delays.
Here is some information from officials about alternates routes, closure times and advice about how to get from point A to point B without losing your mind.
The specific freeway closure boundaries are:
• Northbound I-405: 10-mile closure between I-10 and U.S. 101 • Southbound I-405: 4-mile closure between U.S. 101 and Getty Center Drive ramps
Officials are advising motorists who must travel through L.A. to use alternate freeways within the region, including the 5, 15, 23, 55, 57, 101, 118, 126, 210, 605 and 710, to bypass the impacted area.
In addition, officials are urging the use of public transportation such as the Metro Rail service within L.A. County and Metrolink servicing the five county Southern California region.
Additional alternate route information will be made available on the project website at www.metro.net/405.
On Friday, July 15, ramps will begin to be shut down as early as 7 p.m., and closure of freeway lanes will begin at 10 p.m. to ensure full freeway closure by midnight. The closure will continue until 5 a.m. Monday morning, July 18. Ramps and connectors will be reopened by 6 a.m.
Sepulveda Boulevard is intended as an alternate route for local resident access only. Sepulveda will not have the capacity to accommodate both local and diverted freeway traffic. Those using Sepulveda should expect extreme congestion and lengthy delays. Motorists should instead use alternate regional freeway routes to completely bypass the Sepulveda Pass, officials said in a statement.
At a recent bill-signing ceremony, state Sen. Clayton was among several Native Hawaiian lawmakers applauding a new law recognizing Hawaiians as the state's indigenous people.
Act 195 also establishes a roll commission to count qualified Hawaiians as a first step toward government self-determination.
Hee, a Democrat, told the audience gathered July 6 at Washington Place that he feels a direct connection to the 1893 overthrow and the 1898 annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, as his grandparents were born around that time.
The senator continued: "Because no Pacific Island experienced colonization at a greater loss than Hawaii. The loss of the language was the loss of the identity. The loss of the identity was the loss of our dignity."
Is it true? Civil Beat is on it.
OK, here's what we found out.
Terence Wesley-Smith, director of the Center for Pacific Island Studies at UH Manoa, says Hee is "probably correct in a general sense, although obviously it depends on how you understand the process of colonization and how you evaluate its impacts."
Wesley-Smith, who answered Civil Beat's inquiry Wednesday via email, continued:
"Specifically, what does he mean when he talks about loss? I think Hawaii is a strong candidate because:
1) unlike most other Pacific Island places, it was a settler colony and Hawaiians were quickly outnumbered by others;
2) population decline in the first century after colonial contact was extreme by any standards;
3) unlike most other Pacific Islanders, Hawaiians lost control of their land (and therefore their autonomy) early on;
4) Hawaiians remain economically, politically, and culturally marginalized in their own land;
5) unlike most other Pacific Island territories, Hawai`i became incorporated into the colonial power, rather than achieving independence from it."
When asked about other Pacific Islanders who suffered tremendous losses because of colonization, such as the Marshallese, Wesley-Smith said "there may be other island places where some aspects of loss were as extreme or even more so."
"For example, the people of Bikini effectively lost their homeland to nuclear testing, Banabans were relocated to Fiji by the British to make way for phosphate mining, a high proportion of the people of Rapa Nui were captured and forced to work in the mines of Peru, etc.," he said.
"But the scale, intensity, and longevity of the colonial experience in Hawaii tends to set it a part as a special case. Other comparable candidates might be New Caledonia, Guam, and Aotearoa, but in the latter case Maori have managed to retain more of their land and culture, are better represented in the political system, and have some access to redress for historical grievances through the Waitangi Tribunal."
Senate Bill 1520
In one session, the 2011 Hawaii Legislature was able to do what the U.S. Congress has not been able to do in a decade's time: recognize Native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of Hawaii.
Quite possibly, it has also given re-birth to a movement toward self-governance that has been generations in the making and often seemed stymied.
Senate Bill 1520, which Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law Wednesday at Washington Place, will not of itself create a governing entity. That requires federal approval, and the Akaka bill still awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate.
But local leaders gathered in the historic home of Hawaii's last monarch, Liliuokalani, agreed that SB 1520 is landmark legislation that may mark a critical turning point.
As the kia aina (the governor) himself put it, SB 1520 — now Act 195 — is the "first step" to a Native Hawaiian governing entity.
Abercrombie now has 180 days to appoint a five-member Native Hawaiian roll commission to begin a process of counting qualified Hawaiians (as defined by the act) who will form a new government. Four of the members will represent the island counties, while a fifth will be appointed at large.
While there are many unanswered questions about exactly how the governing entity would work — or whether it will work at all — its core mission will be to protect cultural rights, ceded lands and other entitlements. U.S. Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka welcomed Act 195, saying it could help persuade some of their Senate colleagues to finally vote on the federal bill named for Akaka.
But SB 1520's passage through the Senate almost collapsed because of lack of funding for the commission. At the last minute, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs agreed to help with funding. While OHA remains focused on the federal legislation, the semi-autonomous state agency also came to recognize the value of the Hawaii bill.
Chairwoman Colette Machado stressed at the bill signing that OHA would only have an administrative role in Act 195's implementation, but also that it would fund the roll commission's executive director position and help facilitate statewide meetings on the process.
It won't be easy.
With a nod to the (sometimes) loud presence of about two dozen protesters outside the gates of Washington Place, Machado said, "We want to be able to do this in my lifetime, in our lifetime. This is major work, and there are indications from those individuals outside that some are never satisfied. But we must aloha them, because we are all part of the koko."
One of the protesters, Leon Siu of a group calling itself Hawaiian Nationals, handed out fliers that objected to the state's efforts to "jump-start" the Akaka bill.
"The Akaka scheme is a diabolical plan to help the United States avoid the lawful return (to) Hawaii of the Hawaiian Kingdom," the flier stated.
"Hell, no, we won't enroll," read a sign. "Neither would the Queen."
Role of the Hawaiian Caucus
Inside Washington Place, the sentiment was of unity of purpose.
The VIPS included top legislators, former Gov. John Waihee, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaiian legal and business groups and many others. Separate press releases and a compact disc were issued by the administration, the state Senate and OHA, and an event program featured the sad visage of Liliuokalani.
While Abercrombie was the ranking official, Big Island state Sen. Malama Solomon was the emcee. Solomon, who was chiefly responsible for pushing SB 1520 through the Senate, was also one of the featured speakers along with three other Hawaiian lawmakers (like Solomon and Abercrombie, all Democrats): state Sen. Clayton Hee, Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria and state Rep. Faye Hanohano.
In fact, it was the Native Hawaiian Senate caucus that fought most for the bill. Galuteria, who explained that the caucus met weekly in his second-floor office overlooking Iolani Palace, said, "It would have been easy to go our separate ways and fortify the notion that Hawaiians can't work together. We wanted to create the new model."
At one point, Akaka himself visited the caucus, and Galuteria said his colleagues had the odd experience of being thanked by the senior senator for their work toward self-determination.
"There wasn't a dry eye in the room," he said.
Abercrombie, in his remarks, choked up several times as he recalled a visit with his late mother to Waianae, where he was accepted into the family of Aunty Aggie Cope, who sat in the front row of the VIPs.
But the governor largely turned the occasion over to others, and the message was obvious: It was a day for Hawaiians. A pule, oli, hula and music marked the program, and many speakers pointed out that in that very room there were people who are living links to ancestors who lived at the time of the 1893 overthrow and 1898 annexation.
"This brings to a conclusion the long journey that began with Queen Liliuokalani in this home," said Abercrombie.
A conclusion, but also the start of a new, and possible transformative, chapter.
By George Mobus on 7 July 2011 for Question Everything -
Image above: Illustration by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone Magazine. Found at (http://www.infiniteunknown.net/2009/12/12/obamas-big-sellout-rolling-stone-magazine/).
But then he appointed his ‘Chicago School’ contingent as economic advisors and I realized all was lost for even the prospect of reality entering the political discourse of this nation. Even Chu has turned on reality as he continues to voice the politically-expedient party line about clean coal and green energy. I know the man knows the laws of thermodynamics. I know he has some concept of conversion efficiencies. I know he understands the physical limitations of real-time solar energy availability. He's a physicist damn it. He has to know these things.
On top of that he has to have a pretty good idea of the limits of scaling what works in the lab to what works in the field. Surely he comprehends the rates at which large-scale conversion projects are going to be slow given the rate of conventional energy depletion and the limitations on our financial resources. He has to have a pretty good idea about the physical limits of resources needed to build out alternative energy infrastructure. I know, from personal communication with someone who talks to the man, that he definitely knows about peak oil and energy return on energy invested, at least conceptually. So what is going on in Washington that we can't see?
The question that keeps haunting me is this. If Chu knows these things, why doesn't Obama, the president he advises? And more insidious, if Obama has been briefed why does he continue to fail to tell the American people and the world what the real situation is with respect to why the economy is so bad?
I suspect, in my darker thoughts, that he does know. But maybe he also knows how futile all the green talk really is. Maybe he understands the situation far better than I gave him credit for. Maybe the reason he hasn't turned toward some kind of jobs creation program rather than focusing on and giving credence to the Republican myopic focus on debt reduction, is that he knows it is futile. But then I have to wonder. If he does know, why on earth would he want to get re-elected? Does he really want to go down in history (should any history be preserved through the future turmoil) as the president who oversaw the collapse of the American culture/society?
My deepest problem with Obama is that if he knows he should tell the story and help get the people in this country and others around the world ready for the coming collapse. There are things that people can do to ready themselves. It won't be pretty, but it will be gawdawful ugly if people are caught by surprise. People don't react well to losing their beliefs overnight.
Of course, if he doesn't know then perhaps we can be a little lenient in our assessments. But that doesn't help the situation at all. Either way he is proving not to be the leader we need at this juncture of human history.
The Republican Side????This is a joke, right? Are the Republicans serious? These are the candidates they offer?
Honestly I have become mildly convinced that we have been witnessing a case of sympatric speciation as three major ‘races’ of Homo sapiens differentiate. The races? Conservative (with a sub-species called libertarian), liberals (sub-species progressive), and independent (or also known as unable-to-compete). Sympatric speciation takes place without a physical barrier to separate races subsequently allowing them to then diverge independently (allopatric speciation — the form most people know about).
Usually there is some behavioral differentiation, perhaps accompanied by a weak morphological marking, within a single population that causes a rift, followed by strengthening of that rift by a form of sexual selection (assortative mating), and an eventual strong separation between breeding populations even in the same range (for humans that is the whole Earth). The new species, even in incipient form, occupy different econiches. In most cases this has to do with food types that select for differentiation in feeding behaviors. But in humans this appears to be mental attitudes and behaviors such as degree of altruism inherent.
Homo conservatist incipient is certainly a lot less altruistic and seems to build its behaviors around the concept of maximizing personal profit. Right at a time in mankind's history when a maximum of cooperation and sharing might be needed to minimize the damage to the genus, this doesn't seem like a winning strategy. Perhaps in a world that really could provide ever expanding sources of ever higher powered energy that strategy would prove positively selective and that eventual species would rule the world.
It is no wonder that their mantra is “Drill-baby-drill” They need a continually growing supply of energy to further expand the economy, turning nature into human wealth that they can accumulate personally. This regardless of what damage it does to the environment that is the ultimate source of their sustenance!
This is the platform of the political right. The transformation from merely being a political ideology to becoming an embedded way of thinking is nearly complete. We can only wonder in horror at the damage Homo conservatist incipient would do to the world if given any kind of power. Crap! We don't have to imagine it. Look at what is happening in the Congress right now. Look at the Tea Party.
This incipient species depends on instincts more than actual evidence-based reasoning, even as they fool themselves into thinking they are using logic based on not-to-be-questioned axioms. They have a herd mentality approach to survival coupled with a ‘What's mine is mine - go get your own’ mentality. Very dangerous, I think.
The Independents/Third Party Side???As the human mental ecosystem breaks into pieces there are several miscellaneous sub-species that are feeding at the margins but not finding particularly fruitful grounds. Independents are sometimes characterized as unable to make up their minds (undecideds) or look for a middle-of-the-road, or centrist, position (the averagests). Then there are a very small few who base their decisions on the details of the situation or proposition, recognizing that sometimes a problem needs a conservative approach, at other times different problems require a liberal approach, while at yet other times still different problems require a middle approach.
In other words, they like to figure out what needs to be done based on the facts in the case and not some ideological belief that guides all decisions. These latter are, in number, like the tiny insignificant mammals that scurried about at the feet of the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago, just before the comet hit the Yucatan peninsula. Many of this sub-species are correctly altruistic under general circumstances. That is, even if a problem demands a conservative approach the point is that the maximum number of people will benefit from the solution (e.g. as in conserving our park lands — the original meaning of conservative!)
The problem for all in this category is that there isn't enough mental food for them to feed on. These mental econiches are simply not big enough to gain any advantages. So most of these variants are bound to go the way of the Dodo.
This, of course, translates into the fact that no one in this group could hope to gain enough votes in the political battle to get elected (selected for!) And even if that happened, say by a miracle, the electorate is not likely to follow the lead or listen to the story.
The Democrat Side????Homo liberalis incipient is just as fraught with problems in terms of their overall strategy for survival. They are literally too altruistic without actually having the requisite understanding of how to translate their urges into effective actions. They will literally give away the wealth, especially the accumulated wealth of others, without a clue as to where that wealth actually comes from. In fact, their instincts misinform them in that they believe that wealth will always grow greater so that everyone can grow in benefits.
They have a vague notion that some forms of wealth creation, if not properly regulated, are causing damage to the environment and want to stop that. But they honestly believe that wealth growth is inherent in the system and as long as we don't let bad greediness lead to excesses, we should all achieve Nirvana.
So this sub-species is similarly bound to the notion of growth of energy even if they don't understand that that is what they need. They assume that either growth doesn't depend on energy per se, or that all of these so-called green technologies will provide what we need. They suffer from delusional thinking.
Which may bring us back to Mr. Obama, a supposed liberal who may, as it turns out very much be the archetype for this sub-species. I had hoped that Mr. Obama was in that little sub-species that behaved either conservatively or liberally only when appropriate to the nature of the problem. I do think he has basic altruistic motivations. But his approach to governing suggests he may be in the averagist sub-species. Or maybe he really can't make up his own mind and is just taking directions from those who influence him the most (he did come from Chicago after all).
Alternatives?Are there any alternatives? If my only half-serious hypothesis about sympatric evolution having proceeded to the incipient species stage (where separation of mental econiches in nearly complete) then sadly there are not. The left will be represented by Obama seeking a second term. In all likelihood, if he wins, he will continue to fail at truth telling (or even truth knowing). If he loses it will be to a conservative, possibly of the Tea Party ilk. No independent looks even feasible at this point. So it is likely that the leader will not, or cannot tell the people the truth about energy and resource reality.
In all likelihood the entrenched, moneyed interests in this world would snuff any leader that broke the news to the public. The rich, who are members of the Homo conservativist incipient sub-species, are accumulating all the gold they can carry thinking that will save them if worse comes to worst. I believe we are witnessing their hoarding strategy that is motivated by an instinctive sense that what is happening in the world now is prelude to the end. The people who hold the 80% of the virtual wealth (money) in this world are not totally dumb, just terribly unwise. They actually do sense that the end is near and they are turning to the only source of comfort they have ever understood in their lives - more money.
I suspect they imagine they will buy safety in gated communities or hideaways in Honduras. They will be able to buy security in a world gone haywire. So, of course, they contribute disproportionately to making it go even more haywire, or hastening the coming of the end. Wait until they find out just what security money will be able to buy when the poor hoards realize they've been had.
So, here we are. A new grand leader election cycle is upon us. And these are the candidate choices we have to consider. To be very honest, I suspect I will sit this one out. At this stage my only thoughts about joining the electorate would be to vote for a Homo conservativist incipient under the theory that we should just get it over with and such a president would help accelerate that process. Sad thought, huh?
Wednesday's session ended on a tense note with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and President Barack Obama squaring off over the Republican's call for a short-term extension of the federal debt ceiling.
At one point, Obama said the political wrangling confirmed what the public considers to be the worst of Washington, according to Democratic sources familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of not being identified.
Multiple sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama told the gathering that "this could bring my presidency down," referring to his pledge to veto any short-term extension of the debt ceiling. Sources say he vowed, "I will not yield on this."
The seriousness of the situation was reinforced when a major rating agency said Wednesday it would put the sterling bond rating of the United States on review for possible downgrade.
Moody's Investors Services said it had initiated the review because of "the rising possibility" that Congress will fail to raise the debt ceiling in time -- something that could lead to a U.S. default on its debt.
Cantor, R-Virginia, told reporters after Wednesday's meeting that he proposed a short-term agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, a position Obama has previously rejected.
"That's when he got very agitated and said I've sat here long enough -- that no other president -- Ronald Reagan -- would sit here like this -- and that he's reached the point that something's gotta give," Cantor said, adding that Obama called for Republicans to compromise on either their insistence that a debt-ceiling hike must be matched dollar-for-dollar by spending cuts or on their opposition to any kind of tax increase.
"And he said to me, 'Eric, don't call my bluff.' He said 'I'm going to the American people with this,'" Cantor quoted Obama as saying.
"I was somewhat taken aback," Cantor said. When he continued to press the issue, Cantor said, Obama "shoved back from the table, said 'I'll see you tomorrow' and walked out."
The Democratic sources provided a different take on the exchange, saying Obama cut off Cantor at the end after the Virginia Republican changed from a previously held position against a short-term extension of the debt ceiling.
Obama responded that he'd veto such a temporary measure, according to the sources, then went on to say that what was happening in the negotiations confirmed the worst of what the American people think about Washington.
According to the sources, Obama expressed frustration with the unwillingness of congressional Republicans to compromise and called on them to stop posturing and catering to their bases. He then ended the meeting, the Democratic sources said.
Obama has insisted on one deal that will raise the amount of money the government can borrow to sufficient levels to last through 2012 -- after his campaign for re-election. Cantor's call for a short-term agreement also could win the support of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, an aide to Boehner said.
Democrats and Republicans remain at sharp odds over how to proceed. Obama has indicated a preference for a "grand bargain" that would save up to $4 trillion over the next decade through a combination of spending cuts, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and reforming politically popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
GOP leaders remain adamantly opposed to any tax hikes, arguing that increasing the burden on "job creators" now would derail what has already proven to be, at best, a shaky economic recovery.
On Tuesday, Obama said he cannot guarantee that older Americans will receive their Social Security checks next month if a deal is not reached.
"There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," the president told CBS News.
Testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that failure to raise the ceiling would create a "major crisis" and be potentially "catastrophic" for the global economy.
Republicans accused the White House of fear-mongering and failing to negotiate in good faith. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Wednesday morning that the administration is pushing for tax hikes now in exchange for illusory spending cuts later.
Specifically, McConnell claimed an administration official had only been able to identify $2 billion in spending reductions when asked what cuts the White House would agree to next year -- a tiny fraction of roughly $4 trillion in deficit reduction savings Obama has claimed he's interested in generating over the next decade.
"Republicans refuse to be drawn into this legislative trap," McConnell said, adding that the White House is "not serious about cutting spending or debt."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed McConnell's complaint, calling it inaccurate and asserting that the president is willing to make deep spending cuts.
On Tuesday, McConnell unveiled what he characterized as a last-ditch plan to avert a default if negotiators can't reach an agreement. The Republican leader proposed three short-term increases in the amount the government can borrow while at the same time registering the disapproval of Congress for such a move.
McConnell's proposal would give Obama power to raise the debt ceiling by a total of $2.5 trillion, but also would require three congressional votes on the issue before the 2012 general election. The president would be required to identify spending cuts equivalent to each debt ceiling increase, though there would be no guarantee Congress would adopt the proposed cuts.
While some congressional Democrats promised to consider the plan, Obama has made clear his opposition to any short-term extension of the debt ceiling.
However, Cantor's statement Wednesday that no viable proposals have emerged was intended to show the McConnell plan had no chance of winning approval from the House, Republican congressional sources said.
Some conservatives are accusing McConnell of capitulating to the Democrats. The website redstate.com posted a story Tuesday with the headline: "Mitch McConnell Just Proposed the 'Pontius Pilate Pass the Buck Act of 2011.' "
In an interview Wednesday with Mandy Connell of WHAS radio, McConnell said his proposal was necessary because an acceptable deficit reduction deal was proving unattainable and the United States must avoid a default that would be "bad for Republicans."
"Given a choice between a bad deal and avoiding default, I choose to avoid default," McConnell said, adding that "if we were to go into default ... the practical effect of that will be to allow the president to make us co-owners of a bad economy."
He also said defaulting is "completely and totally unacceptable, and it's not going to happen."
After Wednesday's meeting, Cantor told reporters that "no one wants to rattle the markets."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, unveiled an alternative fallback plan Wednesday, introducing legislation designed to ensure members of the military and holders of U.S. debt are paid in the event the debt ceiling isn't raised. Bachmann, a conservative tea party favorite and 2012 presidential contender, accused Obama of "holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage so that he can continue his spending spree."
In response, Carney told reporters that Bachmann's proposal amounts to accepting a U.S. default on its obligations, rather than offering a serious effort to prevent it from happening.
"That's not a Plan B. That's not a solution," Carney said.
For now, it remains unclear at best whether the two sides will be able to reach any agreement.
Cantor said that during Tuesday's negotiating session at the White House, Obama presented more details of his proposed cuts to entitlement programs. Republicans, according to Cantor, supported much of what they heard.
On Wednesday, Cantor reiterated GOP opposition to higher taxes and called on Obama to make public the details of what he is proposing in the negotiations "so that both Republicans and Democrats can make well-informed decisions about something of this magnitude."
Asked about going public with details of entitlement reforms being discussed, Carney told reporters that would run counter to the negotiating process and the principle that "nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to."
At the heart of Obama's call for more tax revenue would be allowing tax cuts from the Bush presidency to expire at the end of 2012 for families making more than $250,000. His plan would keep the lower tax rates for Americans who earn less.
Obama noted earlier this week he is not looking to raise any taxes until 2013 or later. He claimed he has "bent over backward to work with the Republicans" and not force them to vote on any revenue hikes in the short term -- a politically toxic move for the GOP's conservative base.
In exchange, Obama said, he wants to ensure that the current progressive nature of the tax code is maintained, with higher-income Americans assessed higher tax rates.
For his part, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned that time is running out. The secretary said he wants to see a deal to raise the debt limit and cut projected spending by the end of this week -- or next week at the latest -- so that Congress will have enough time to turn the deal into law..