How to Avoid Being Eaten Alive


SUBHEAD: Translate thoughts into actions and take back the control before it is too late. Don’t put it off - the clock is ticking!

By Jason Heppenstall on 4 December 2013 for 22 Billion Energy Slaves -
(http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-12-05/how-to-avoid-being-eaten-alive)


Image above: The Amazon distribution warehouse just outside Milton Keynes. Amazon hires 15,000 temporary UK workers for Christmas work. From (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/24/amazon-christmas-15000-seasonal-staff-uk).

This last week I have had my eyes and ears assaulted every time I suffered accidental exposure to the mainstream media. It’s easy enough to ignore radio and television, but the internet is a different kettle of fish, and it was mostly via this that I learned about two major new consumer events that we are expected to partake in. The first is Black Friday.

First came the emails telling me that certain bargains could be had on this auspicious date. Then came the overheard snatches of radio, and finally, last Friday, the internet went into fever pitch talking about this ‘Black Friday’.

But what is it? Neither I nor anyone else I spoke to had heard of it before. You probably already know. It’s when Americans, stuffed to the gills with undigested turkey and various chemical pseudo foods, fight one another to buy cheap Chinese junk on credit. People are often injured and sometimes killed in the melees that ensue - and now our political and media overlords would like us to get involved in the action too - cue a million and one ‘Black Friday’ adverts.

As if that weren’t enough, people barely had time to rip through the semi-impenetrable plastic packaging on their junk before Cyber Monday was upon us! Yesterday was the day when we were being urged not to even bother getting off our backsides to fight other consumers - we could do it all online! Cue a million and one Cyber Monday adverts.

Does this all sound just a little bit desperate? If it does then I’m afraid you’re in the minority because the UK is ‘booming’ don’t you know. Personal credit has now expanded to record levels, manufacturing is ‘on track’, the stock market is thrusting through the upper atmosphere and once again people are treating their houses like giant brick boxes that defecate bundles of cash. “Greed is good,” says the mayor of London and “Greens are evil,” says the “environment minister”. It’s like the 1980s all over again but without the shoulder pads.

What’s more, the season of uber Consumption is upon us. One recent newspaper op-ed I spotted opined “Chistmas is that exciting time when everyone gets to find out which new Apple product has been sitting under the tree for the last month.” It wasn’t even said in mirth - it was a serious article.

Really?

Perhaps it’s time for a dose of reality. Here are some random unscientific off-message things I noticed recently:

  • UK personal debt is now so high that if it were £10 notes stapled together end to end they would stretch to the Moon and back 26 times
  • The Nobel winning economist Nouriel Roubini has noticed that big scary housing bubbles are popping up in all the usual places - two years later than practically everyone else whose blogs are listed down the right hand side of this page
  • Our government is selling everything that is not nailed down. To the Chinese. Or anyone with cash, really. They just sold the 500 year-old Royal Mail postal service. Kerching! And the future of our energy supply. Kerching! Today they are selling 40% of their Eurotunnel holding. Kerching! The (amazingly good - for now) National Health Service will be next. Double kerching! They are even selling our pig semen to the Chinese. Kerching!
  • Food poverty has reached a ‘public health emergency’ level. In my area alone a woman has set up a soup kitchen and the soup is made from the leftovers of perfectly good food that has been thrown out by supermarkets
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland has become a predatory asset stripper and is forcing small companies to go bust so that it can liquidise them and sell the assets to prop up its own ailing balance sheets
  • The once-proud Cooperative Bank, admired for its ethics, has been taken over by a couple of US hedge funds. They insist they will still be ‘ethical’ and anyone who believes this is welcome to send me £20 in the (privatised) mail which I promise I will donate to good causes
Just one word floats to the top of my consciousness when I read and hear about these things on a daily basis: cannibalism. Although probably an early non-pc slur on the good character of the Carib people, cannibalism is defined as “The act or practice of other humans eating the flesh or internal organs of other humans.”

Okay, so outside the occasional gruesome story about real-life cannibalism, usually involving mild-mannered basement-owning Belgians, there probably isn’t much actual munching of human flesh going on as we speak. But elements of this human society and economy that we have constructed seem to be doing a very good impression of it. As the ability to make an honest profit out of anything recedes into the rearview mirror, how else can a profit be made? The material limits to growth have been reached and we have done our damnedest to pretend this isn’t so. We have predated upon other continents in the form of invasions and colonisations, predated upon the biosphere of the planet by way of industrialism and consumer culture and various other isms and we have predated upon the next several dozen generations by building up huge financial and ecological debts. Who else is there to predate upon?

Yes, there are still a few resources to plunder that haven’t been converted to cash and toxic waste yet. Just by raising my head I can look out over the bay and see the occasional beam trawler coming back into port after several days at sea catching and killing every life form that happens to have ended up in its nets. And there are still large portions of the rain forests not yet monetised - just as there are still oil wells to exploit and people who have yet to be enslaved by free trade deals.

But the fact of the matter remains, as the tide goes out not all boats fall equally. Those in power - let us call them the core - quite like the position they are in and have no desire to relinquish it. Nothing surprising there given our genetic lineage, you try grabbing a chunk of recently killed meat out of the hands of a wild chimp and see how he reacts. To keep our elite in the manner that they are used to means that, just like the slave traders of yore, they need to figuratively sell us down the river. Which is why the prime minister David Cameron and a bunch of his favourite corporate lobbyists are in China (again).
I don’t know about you but the sight of a bunch of grinning semi-elected toffs, who claim to represent the interests of the British people, shaking hands with Chinese billionaires and gibbering on about nuclear waste and pig spunk has put me right off my breakfast (hold the bacon). And you’d at least think the Chinese would be happy with all this free money and pork juice; maybe they are, but this is what they really think of us, according to the China Global Times:
"The UK is highly replaceable in China's Europe diplomacy. The UK is no longer any so-called 'big country'; it is an old European country suitable for travel and study abroad with a few good football teams.”
Ouch! The truth hurts, doesn’t it? I'm not even sure they are right about the football teams either, because they run on foreign money.

So, selling as much as we can for short term gain but very long-term misery to the currently cash-rich Chinese for a fistful of remninbi is now government policy. But the real pot boiling comes in the form of what they are doing on the three fronts that matter most: energy, food and health. This can be summarised as follows:

Backing the wrong energy horses and hobbling the right ones. The guvmint will only consider energy projects if large sums of money can be made out of them by corporations. The more technical, complex and centralised the better. Hence our ‘new nuclear century’. We will apparently need 30 new nuclear power stations in the next seven years if we are to avoid the lights going off. Of course, this is never going to happen, and given that the prime minister has said he wants to ‘get rid of the green crap’ it’s unlikely that renewable energy is going to be anything other than a punch bag.

Meanwhile, healthcare is being gutted. The NHS is a remarkable system and whenever I encounter it I am always impressed by the dedication of the doctors and nurses - but it’s also a product of the oil age. It’s already creaking and groaning like a geriatric lady who has fallen out of her hospital bed and the last thing it needs is a bunch of idealogical bovver boys putting the boot in as it writhes on the ward floor. What’s more, the NHS is infected with superbugs who suck off the system in the form of huge consultancy fees like some kind of blood sucking parasite. Given a bit more time we might indeed be returning to an earlier form of blood-sucking medicinal practice: leeches.

And food. The conquest of the supermarkets is complete and they have managed to obliterate every last high street (the few shops that survive only do so because of the diehard group of prescient people who refuse to shop in supermarkets) and given everyone the impression that the only way food can be delivered to your plate is in a vast truck that has travelled hundreds if not thousand of miles. The supermarkets are now thankfully cannibalising one another - my local (smallish) town of Penzance now has nine of the beasts. Something’s gotta give.

So what do you do if your government is selling off the state’s assets, building a future famine machine and placing explosive nuclear detonators around your homeland? One option is just to give in. Abandon modern life as a bad idea, take off all your clothes and walk back into the sea like Reginald Perrin (see picture above which Blogger refuses to place in the correct narrative spot).

Admittedly this does hold some appeal, but a far more practical action would be to stop allowing negativity to overwhelm you and get on with creating an alternative reality. I’m a believer that actions speak louder than words. Words, of course, speak louder than thoughts, and thoughts have their uses too - so an ideal approach would involve all three: actions, words and thought.

All of us have some control over our lives. Sometimes it may not feel like it, but it is, in fact, true. Here’s an exercise. Turn off the TV, radio, computer and the microchip implanted in your brain by Google and get a piece of paper and a pencil. At the centre of the piece of paper draw a circle that represents yourself (or a square, if you’re a technologist). Down one side of the page write up a list of

Demons
These are the things that want to put you in their cannibal pot, broil the flesh off your bones and eat you up with a helping of barbecue sauce. They are the negative things in your life and the things that hold you back from the goal of having a positive effect on the world (a goal which also tends to make you a happy, balanced person too). You can be inventive here and your list might look something like this - although it can be as long as you like:

  • The Job Centre staff are always insulting my intelligence
  • I can’t stop smoking
  • I get migraines
  • I have negative thoughts that keep me awake at night
  • The government is trying to destroy everything and it depresses me
  • My unscrupulous landlord is like a toad squatting on my life - he stores broken down washing machines in the bathroom because he can’t be bothered to move them

When you have made a list of Demons, make a list of Angels i.e. things that you are grateful for. This can go down the other side of the page and might include:
 
Angels
  • I love walking in the local woods
  • I’m fascinated by taking things to bits to see how they work
  • My parents are very supportive of me
The memory of watching the sunset in Spain with my ex-girlfriend, drinking a glass of delicious red wine eating some amazing smoked ham still inspires me Now the crucial bit. List the things that you have control over in your life - the things that you can use to better your position and achieve the goal of happiness by integrating the patterns with your life with the natural rhythms of nature. Why integrate with the natural rhythms of nature? - because that's all you can rely on in this life, and it's also hugely satisfying and won't contribute to destroying the ecosystem that surrounds you. You can voluntarily limit the parameters of your physical life to tie in with the solar energy budget that is provided free of charge to every organism on this planet. The cost is very little but the rewards are potentially unlimited.

To start with you might not have a very long list, but write down the factors and objects you have control over and draw a line from the circle at the middle of the page to each one. Here are some examples of things you might have control over:


Control
  • Your health
  • Plenty of free time (you are unemployed because your degree turned out to be worthless)
  • A battered 1986 Ford Fiesta
  • Your desire to lead a better life
  • A box of tools someone is giving away on Freecycle
  • A rented flat in a poor part of Birmingham
  • An Amazon gift voucher from your aunt One could look upon this as a pretty sorry state of affairs, no?
Or, viewed another way, perhaps it is a chance to buy a book on washing machine mechanics, learn how to gut them of electronics and re-tool them to run on lower tech for a salvage industrial future and in the process create a niche career (with great prospects) that will no doubt launch you on a path that may well end up in 20 years’ time with you owning a piece of forest land with a straw bale-built workshop on it where you and your two grateful apprentices, who happen to be your own teenage children, fix up broken consumer era products as large spotted pigs roam around outside (quality, acorn fed smoked ham, produced in mini-smoke houses bodged from some scrap office filing cabinets is one of your several other lines of income) and a small hand-carved wind turbine sits on the roof trickle feeding a battery that you and your lovely wife (who was attracted to you because of your positive attitude to life) use for lights and music in the evenings as you both enjoy a glass of home-brewed elderberry wine and a morsel of your choicest smoked ham.

Which situation would you prefer?

The point of exercises like these are to focus the mind on what, realistically, we are able to control, and what we can do with that to achieve a better life. Anyone who begins to think in this manner stands a much better chance of weathering the substantial chaos heading our way as the financial and ecological screws tighten more and more. At its essence is the recognition that the industrial system that delivers shiny new products to us as if by magic every Black Friday is not going to continue forever. And when it winds down completely the majority of people are going to realise that they have a very long list of Demons down one side of their page, scant few Angels (except, perhaps, fond memories of Cyber Monday 2013) and very few things that they can realistically claim to have control over.

Translate thoughts into actions and take back the control before it is too late. Don’t put it off - the clock is ticking!
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Kenoi signs GMO Bill

SUBHEAD: Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi signed GMO restriction Bill 113 into law.

By Tom Callis on 5 December 2013 for Hawaii Tribune -
(http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/sections/news/local-news/kenoi-signs-gmo-bill.html)


Image above: Video Still of Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi. From (https://vimeo.com/51727652).

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 into law today, his office announced.

The bill restricts the use of genetically modified crops on the Big Island by banning their open-air use and testing.

Existing growers of transgenic crops are exempted but must sign up with a registry.

The bill goes into effect immediately.

Below is the statement Kenoi provided to the County Council.
Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. 
We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. 
It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. 
This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. 
We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. 
This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

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Local storage reduces utility bills

SUBHEAD: Business of selling or leasing electric storage systems threaten conventional electric utilities.

By Christopher Martin on 5 December 2013 for Bloomberg News -
(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-05/solarcity-offering-storage-to-reduce-users-utility-bills.html)


Image above: Modular electric storage developed by Nissan for its Leaf electric vehicle. From (http://www.electric-vehiclenews.com/2013/01/nissan-uk-plant-begins-making-leaf.html).


[IB Publisher's note: It is becoming clear that the utility company model of the Electric Grid and its customers is being redefined in a way that threatens its future. Others companies (including caqr makers) are seeing the viability of fully decentralized modular storage. We agree. KIUC beware, you are not moving quickly enough!]

Solar City Corporation, the second-largest U.S. solar company by market value, is offering power-storage systems to commercial customers that will reduce utility bills and provide electricity during blackouts.

The systems will let retailers, schools and offices in parts of California and New England lower their peak energy consumption from the grid and reduce demand charges from utilities, said Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive.

The storage offering is another way that SolarCity and other companies are providing systems that let consumers and businesses produce and manage their own electricity, threatening utilities’ revenue, he said in an interview yesterday.

“We’re initially targeting markets where the utilities are collecting high demand charges,” Rive said in an interview. “We can reduce those by about 20 percent.”

SolarCity will lease the batteries through 10-year contracts that have no upfront costs. Customers will typically save more on demand charges than they will pay each month for the systems, Rive said.

Demand fees are based on a company’s peak power consumption each month. The batteries store electricity when usage is low, and when customers need a lot of energy they can draw from the batteries to reduce peak demand. The company is using batteries from electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), run by Rive’s cousin and SolarCity’s biggest shareholder, billionaire Elon Musk.

Solar Leases
The DemandLogic battery product is in addition to SolarCity’s main business of offering rooftop solar-power systems. The company is offering storage initially to new commercial solar customers, and Rive estimates that as many as half of them will want to add batteries. The first installations should begin in the next six months, he said.

The batteries are filled from the grid most of the time. During blackouts, the system will automatically switch to electricity produced by the solar panels to ensure that customers continue to have power.

The market for advanced batteries for applications including power back-up, consumer electronics and electric vehicles reached $10.8 billion last year and is expanding rapidly, according to a report released today by Navigant Research.

SolarCity, which has increased more than sixfold since its $8 debut on Dec. 12, climbed 3.3 percent to $53.89 at the close in New York. First Solar Inc. is the biggest U.S. solar company.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: KIUC Special Public Meeting 12/9

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The Pathology of the Rich

SUBHEAD: Interview with Chris Hedges discussing super rich and their and mistaken belief that wealth will insulate them from the coming storms.

By Paul Jay on 5 December 2013 for The Real News -
(http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11150)


Image above: Still frame of a wealthy woman passing a homeless man video below.

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to Reality Asserts Itself.A few weeks ago, we did a series of interviews with Chris Hedges, and one of the things we talked about was the weakness of the left, the weakness of the people's movement, if you will.

Well, we're going to continue that discussion now. And Chris joins us again in the studio. Chris, as everyone probably knows by now, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a senior fellow at the Nation Institute.

Along with Joe Sacco he wrote the New York Times bestseller Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. And he writes a weekly column for Truthdig. Thanks for joining us.

CHRIS HEDGES, JOURNALIST, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE NATION INSTITUTE: Thank you.


Image above: Video of interview by Paul Jay of Chris Hedges. From (http://youtu.be/L6unS2JF8TA). Full transcript is below.

JAY: So last time we talked a lot about something you had said in 2008 and you've written more recently about: one of the greatest weaknesses of the left was not creating a viable vision of what an alternative politics and economy looks like, a viable vision of a socialism.

But you've written more recently about some other weaknesses, you could say, of the people's movement, and here's one. And I'll read it back. This is a piece you wrote called "Let's Get This Class War Started", which I guess is a play on Pink's song, is it? "Let's Get This Party Started".

The quote is: "The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults."

What are you talking about?

HEDGES: Because we don't understand the pathology of the rich. We've been saturated with cultural images and a kind of cultural deification of wealth and those who have wealth. We are being--you know, they present people of immense wealth as somehow leaders--oracles, even.

And we don't grasp internally what it is an oligarchic class is finally about or how venal and morally bankrupt they are. We need to recover the language of class warfare and grasp what is happening to us, and we need to shatter this self-delusion that somehow if, as Obama says, we work hard enough and study hard enough, we can be one of them.

The fact is, the people who created the economic mess that we're in were the best-educated people in the country--Larry Summers, a former president of Harvard, and others. The issue is not education. The issue is greed.

And I, unfortunately, had the experience of being shipped off to a private boarding school at the age of ten as a scholarship student and live--I was one of 16 kids on scholarship, and I lived among the super-rich and I watched them. And I think much of my hatred of authority and my repugnance for the ruling elite comes from having been among them for so long.

JAY: Yeah. People don't understand the elite schools, even at the high school level, that they get--the kids get excellent educations, but they learn the whole culture of hundreds or thousands of years of how to rule.

HEDGES: Right.

JAY: And a deep, rich understanding of it.

HEDGES: Not only that, but they--you know, and George Bush is a perfect example of that.

JAY: Well, not so much an example of deep, rich understanding, but--.

HEDGES: No, but of how--you know, affirmative action for the rich. And I came--certainly my mother's side of the family--from, you know, lower working class. I mean, people--one of my uncles lived in a trailer in Maine, and certainly people with no means. And I would juxtapose the world I was in with that world.

And it was very clear that it wasn't about intelligence or aptitude. The fact is, if you're poor, you only get one chance. If you're wealthy like Bush, you get chance after chance after chance after chance. So you're a C student at Andover, and you go to Yale, and you go to Harvard Business School, and you're AWOL from your National Guard unit, and you're a cokehead, and it doesn't really matter. You don't even really have a job till you're 40 and you become president of the United States.

So that was what was particularly insidious, how those small, tight elite oligarchic circles perpetuated themselves and promoted mediocrity (because many of these people like Bush are very mediocre human beings) at the expense of the rest of us, and how with money they game the system.

And, of course, now we live in an oligarchic state where we've been rendered utterly powerless, and the judiciary, the legislative, the executive branches all subservient to an oligarchic corporate elite.

And the press is owned by an oligarchic corporate elite, which makes sure that any critique of them is never broadcast over the airwaves.

JAY: And it's not some, like, inherent evilness or something, but you are brought up as a super-rich or very rich in a culture, in a school, in a milieu where everyone's there to serve you. It's your right to be served.

HEDGES: Yeah. It's very distasteful to see, because, you know, I would go to the homes of friends of mine and watch--and let's remember they're children, 11, 12 years old, ordering around adults--their servants, their nannies.

And I begin that piece by talking about Fitzgerald, who came from the Midwest to Princeton and went through much of the experience that I went through, and that apocryphal exchange--which didn't take place, but it does represent the difference between Hemingway and Fitzgerald--where Fitzgerald at one point had written--the story is that he said the rich aren't like you and I, and Hemingway is supposed to have quipped, yes, they have more money.

Well, Hemingway, like on many things, was wrong. The rich are different, because when you have that much money, then human beings become disposable. Even friends and family become disposable and are replaced. And when the rich take absolute power, then the citizens become disposable, which is in essence what's happened. There is a very callous indifference.

I mean, these people--and C.Wrights Mills wrote about this in The Power Elite--they're utterly cut off. I mean, the only people they ever meet who are members of the working class are people who work for them--they're gardeners or they're chauffeurs. They live in self-encased bubbles. They have no real contact with reality. I mean, they don't even fly on commercial airlines.

And yet they have absolute power. Now, that becomes very dangerous politically because they're so out of touch and they are able to retreat into their enclaves in the same way that you saw in France under Louis XVI, people retreating to Versailles, or the end of the Chinese dynasty when everybody went to the Forbidden City.

JAY: He said "Après moi, le déluge," does he not?

HEDGES: Yeah. And that's, I think, you know, so that they will extract more and more and more, because they have no self-imposed limits, without understanding the economic, political, and social consequences of what they're doing.

So we have a popular uprising through the Occupy movement where people pour into public spaces to express legitimate grievances--student debt, the next bubble to go down, $1 trillion in debt, which we now saw, courtesy of our Congress, debt rates, you know, interest rates will actually go up in a couple of years, I mean, more than if they'd just taken it from a bank.

It's insane. And meanwhile the Federal Reserve is buying $85 billion a month worth of junk bonds and giving money at virtually zero percent interest to Goldman Sachs. I mean, it's insane.

The failure to address the mortgage and foreclosure crisis, the failure to address the chronic unemployment, underemployment, which--I mean, half of the country now lives in poverty, including the working poor, or near poverty. And what is the response?

The response is to physically shut down the encampments, suspend unemployment benefits, cut food stamps, close things like Head Start. It's crazy. And that's what happens when you have an elite that is that unplugged, and which our elite is. So they will push and push and push myopically out of ignorance until something erupts. And that's exactly where we're headed.

JAY: It's interesting. There are some children of the some of the super-rich--and I think Occupy had something to do with it--who kind of woken up a bit to the situation and don't want to repeat the pattern of their parents, get some of the insanity of it.

HEDGES: I don't know if they're children of the super-rich. I think that Occupy had a lot of children of the middle class.

JAY: No, no, I don't mean the majority of Occupy.

HEDGES: Oh.

JAY: But they'reI actually know who some of these people are. And it's interesting. They're children of very, very wealthy people, and they have decided that, you know, there needs to be more to life than repeating this, living in this bubble.

HEDGES: Well, they may be out there, but I don't think they're a majority.

JAY: They're a very tiny minority.

HEDGES: Most of them get sucked right into that cult of the self, which the super-rich managed to perpetuate at a rather nauseating level.

JAY: We were talking off-camera just before we started how we both knew Gore Vidal, and Vidal used to go on about the total amorality of the super-rich.

HEDGES: Oh, he would know.

JAY: Well, he would know for a lot of reasons, one in terms of his own life, but also in terms of he knew many of these people.

HEDGES: Well, so did I. I mean, and I think that's what I'm getting at, exactly. I mean, you know, I wrote in that column about, you know, being at this boarding school and watching these fathers pull up in their limousines, fathers who had very little contact with their sons, with their personal photographers.

And these were famous, wealthy men. And that picture of them playing with their son, which was total--you know, a fiction, would be disseminated through the press. Yeah, amorality, hedonism, selfishness, callousness.

JAY: And part of it is the total willingness to accept, for example, that ordinary people's families should send their kids off to war to defend the American way of life, which means essentially their way of life, can die for these things. It's almost a kind of racism. I mean, when the British enslaved the Irish--you don't have to be black and of color to be thought of as less than human. And that seems to be what the super-rich think about most other people.

HEDGES: Well, and not just the working class, I mean, the kind of disdain for the working class and also the middle class--I mean, in some way the way that they would speak about the middle class. And, you know, in essence, coming out of the middle class, this was something that struck home to me.

Yeah, they inhabit another world, and they have very sophisticated mechanisms of public relations and well-publicized acts of philanthropy to hide their private faces. But how they act when the doors close and how they act in public is very different.

And having, as Vidal was, as Fitzgerald was, having been behind those closed doors and seen the decadence of the ruling elite, it certainly marked me for the rest of my life and it defined for me at a very early age who my enemies were.JAY: You quote in your article Karl Marx writing, "The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships," Marx wrote, "the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas." Why did that hit you?

HEDGES: Well, because the whole notion of the free market--laissez-faire capitalism, globalization--is a very thin rationale for unmitigated greed by a tiny oligarchic elite. And they have made sure that that ideology is taught in universities across the country.

And people, especially economists, who deviate from that ideology have been pushed aside, have become pariahs. And yet the driving ethos of that ideology is really to justify the hoarding of immense amounts of wealth by a very tiny percentage of, you know, the upper ruling class. That's what it is.

I mean, the whole lie of globalization, perpetuated by people who popularize it, like Tom Friedman, has already been exposed. I mean, the idea that it's going to lift all of us up and create middle-class and, you know, well-compensated working-class families in the Third World, I mean, all of it's been exposed.

JAY: And I think part of it, his point, is that this isn't just some innate ideas that everyone is essentially greedy, these people just happen to be rich, and you're not as lucky you're as smart as they are; it's that it comes from what he calls the material conditions, about, like, how stuff is owned, who has power as a result of concentration of ownership, how things are distributed. It's not that--you know, it doesn't have to be this way. It's a product of how the society is organized.

HEDGES: Right. And so in that sense the ideology serves the system, the intellectual class serves the system. Those economists whose voices are heard, who get tenure, serve the system; and those who don't serve the system don't have a job.

And that's what Marx was getting at. And I think that's extremely true. I mean, we don't live in a free-market society. We live in a society where corporations at will loot the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve and are bailed out by the taxpayer. And yet that fact of kind of corporate socialism for corporations is ignored.

And yet it is--and that's dangerous, because there is an utter disconnect from the language that we use to describe our economic system and the reality of our economic system, which is essentially a system where corporations have become predators on government and taxpayer money. And we're all going to pay for it, because most of this stuff, these bonds that they're buying up, is garbage.

You know, it is things like foreclosed homes that on the books are worth $600,000 but in reality, because the electricity has been turned off, the basement's flooded, you'd have to spend money to raise it to put up anything of any kind of value. And that is going to blow right up in our face.

JAY: And this idea that you're expressing, that the majority of professional paid intellectuals, professors and writers and pundits, the idea that the free market is the fundamental assumption and starting point, to suggest anything else might work is sacrilegious, and then some people say, well, that's 'cause America's always been like this. America's this center-right country.

But it's not true. And, you know, pre-World War II in the 1930s and right after World War II there was a big public debate about what kind of economy, what kind of politics, and there was a real campaign waged to get rid of public intellectuals, get rid of union militants, get rid of actors and directors. Anyone that wanted to have this public discourse was hounded out of office.

HEDGES: Well, I write death of the liberal class is really that story, how all of these people were silenced, pushed to the margins, stripped of employment, including, like, even high school teachers. I mean, Ellen Schrecker, the historian, has done a good job on this.

JAY: Just quickly, for people who don't know what we're talking about, we're talk about the House Un-American Activities, McCarthyism, and a real campaign to try to move anyone with a kind of progressive socialist idea out of anything.

HEDGES: Right. And they were effective, I mean, in a way, far more effective than in Europe. I mean, in Europe, you'll still have a residue. We've been robbed of language by which we can express the reality of what we're undergoing. And that's because, you know, our radical populist dissident movements, those who offered a critique of the power elite, have been banished or silenced.

JAY: Now, you write something here which, you know, if you--you would not be allowed to say on mainstream news anywhere. You write:
"Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown."
There's a massive campaign not even to use the words class warfare. In fact, if you talk class, people accuse you of being essentially anti-American.

HEDGES: I don't think you can understand the nature of capitalism if you don't understand the nature of class warfare. You know, if I was running a Wall Street firm, I'd only hire Marxian economists, because they understand that capitalism is about exploitation. Marx got that right.

And that gets back to the nature of the ruling elite. I mean, we are the most illusioned society on the planet. The airwaves are awash in lies. You know, they very skillfully know how to humanize figures, I mean, even idiots like Donald Trump, to mask what it is they're actually doing to the rest of us.

And I think we have to begin to puncture the very effective mirages that have been created--and corporations, of course, spend billions of dollars to create these mirages--to understand our reality.

I mean, look at BP. You'd think BP was Greenpeace, given the amount of commercials that they're running about how much they care about the Gulf, when in fact they turned the waters of the Gulf into a dead zone and poisoned the shrimp and all the other which they're selling us to eat. And yet we don't have mechanisms by which--or certainly within the mainstream. What major network is going to go do a serious documentary on BP?

You're not going to confront those interests, because at this point, these interests, you know, they own or control the systems of information, as well as the systems of education.

JAY: So your article ends with: "The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt."

HEDGES: Well, because the mechanisms of incremental and piecemeal reform don't work. And you talked about the New Deal. The New Deal was the classic example of that kind of safety valve. And as Roosevelt said, I mean, his greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism.

And in the stupidity of the corporate oligarchic elite, they destroyed the liberal class. I mean, we still have a self-identified liberal class, but they no longer do anything to defend the interests of those they claim to represent, whether that's the working class, the middle class, labor, or anyone else.

And by destroying that safety valve, by destroying that liberal class, those mechanisms that made piecemeal and incremental reform possible, you no longer can adjust the system.

So you can't ameliorate the suffering or the grievances of the underclass. And now we're talking about half the country.

Now, that means that if you want to resist, if you want to create change, you can't do it through political parties, you can't do it through the courts, you can't do it through a corporatized media. You have to step outside the system and create popular mechanisms, mass movements that will begin to put pressure in a cruder way on the centers of power. That is the only hope we have left.

JAY: You say you can't do incremental reform. The elite can't even pass regulations that would serve their own interests, in terms of controlling financial speculation, for example, a simple change in terms of position limits at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, that anyone that wants some kind of functioning capitalist system would want to have this so that you don't have another financial collapse as 2008. They can't even pass that.

HEDGES: But they don't--the people who are running Wall Street don't give a damn about--they know it's going to collapse. And what they're doing is stealing as fast, as much as they can on the way out the door. There's a very deep cynicism

.JAY: Well, they make money--they make money after the collapse as well, 'cause they know the state's there to bail them out.

HEDGES: Right. But, you know, this time around it's going to be a little harder to pilfer state funds. I mean, they'll certainly attempt to do that. But, you know, the goal is so self-centered. You have--I think the head of United Healthcare made $1 billion--I mean, it's insane---last year. I think I have that right. But certainly hundreds of millions of dollars [incompr.]

And it's all about amassing little monuments to themselves, little empires to themselves. You know, I have relatives who work on Wall Street, and their critique is not any different from mine. The difference is they're just grabbing is much as they can on the way out the door. And I think that is always symptomatic of a kind of dying civilization.

JAY: Yeah. Marx was asked once to describe the psychology of a capitalist, and it was what we talked about a little earlier: après moi, le déluge, after me, come the floods. I'll get what I can today, and if the society is toast later, too bad.

HEDGES: And I think they know it's going to be toast. And I think they think that they're going to retreat into their, you know, gated compounds and survive it. And they may survive it longer than the rest of us, but in the end, climate change alone is going to get us.

JAY: So it's up to us. Don't expect anything from the oligarchs.

HEDGES: No. And not only that, they are creating systems in terms of exploitation not only of us but of the ecosystem that, if left unchecked, will ensure the extinction of the human species. It may already be too late, of course. But, you know, allowing the fossil fuel industry or these corporations to determine our relationship to the environment is a form of collective insanity at this point.

JAY: Thanks for joining us.

HEDGES: Thank you.

 • Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig , spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
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An ugly dance - The Asian Pivot

SUBHEAD: The Asian Pivot has so far been a feeble attempt by USA to outplay Asia in the game of who can destroy the planet the fastest. 

By Juan Wilson on 5 December 2013 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/12/an-ugly-dance-asian-pivot.html)

http://www.islandbreath.org/2013Year/12/131205pacificbig.jpg
Image above: Overview of western Pacific showing how distant Pearl Harbor (far right) is from the "action" (far left). It's halfway around the world. From GoogleEarth by Juan Wilson.

Who are the most destructive bastards in the Pacific - WE ARE!

Needless to say, after dropping nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945, we held the lead and kept a lap ahead of the field with our hundreds of a-bomb and h-bomb tests in the 50's. We left Russia and France in the dust (laced with Strontium 90). We followed up with a grinding war against South East Asia through the 60s and 70s. In terms of "big wars" after that America simply coasted through the next couple of decades.

We got a wake-up call on September 11th, 2001. That temporarily diverted our attention from destroying the Pacific Ocean full time. We've spent two decades shredding the Middle East over 911 and Al Qaeda.

Oh sure, we kept up pretenses. We went through the obligatory biennial RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) War Games, but our hearts weren't in it. The Japanese and others were strip-mining the ocean mega-fauna faster than we could kill them with sonar and weapons tests.

It was only when the environmental destructiveness of China's industrial expansion started to eclipse our own that President Obama admitted we we falling behind. Now we had some real competition.

Our response?  - "The Asian Pivot". It was announced on April Fools Day 2009.The idea was that America would turn its strategic might towards the western Pacific and China.

In over our heads
The Asian Pivot has so far been a feeble attempt by USA to outplay Asia in the game of who can destroy the planet the fastest.

We had no idea what we were up against. On March 11th, 2011 An earthquake and tsunami devastated the eastern coast of Japan. Significantly, it destroyed the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and in the process melted down the cores of three boiling water reactors.

This amounted to 350 tons of melted "corium"consisting mostly of uranium and plutonium. Enough for about 50,000 nuclear bombs yielding 40 kilotons of energy each. And this trove didn't include the much vaster amounts of nuclear material in the sites other two reactors and seven "spent" fuel cooling ponds.

Curses, outdone again!
Immediately the Japanese began cooling the ravaged reactors with Pacific Ocean water that, to this day, has been recycled back into the sea at a rate of about 300 to 400 tons a day - this was, of course, along with incalculable amounts of radioactive Cesium 137, Iodine 131 and Strontium 90. Simply stir and serve.

With the entire Pacific threatened the Japanese had moved into first place in planetary destruction.

Certainly China was not to be deterred. The Chinese had their own plans. They announced territorial rights on the entire South China Sea as well its undersea petroleum exploitation rights. Drill baby drill! They have recently extended claims of airspace control of areas hitherto not in their jurisdiction.

America will not to be deterred by these Johny-Come-Latelys. We have been working on our own plans.

A bit of backgound
Our Navy is the most deadly and destructive force in the world. The Pacific Ocean is almost 40% of the Earth's surface. At one time the strategic control of our Navy was centered in San Diego.

America realized, late in the 19th century that if it wanted to dominate the Pacific it would have to take down the Spanish Navy. Before the Spanish American War we overthrew the Hawaiian government and made Pearl Harbor our safe haven in the Pacific.

In 1898 we fought the Spanish over Cuba and the Philippines. Since 1907 United States Pacific Fleet headquarters has been at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii. It has since become the strategic center of operations for the US Navy throughout the Pacific.

http://www.islandbreath.org/2013Year/12/131205pivotbig.jpg
Image above: A closer look at the western Pacific near the South China Sea showing our Strategic Islands, including Guam and the Marianas; Subic Bay, the Philippines; Okinawa, Japan; and Jeju Island, South Korea. Click to enlarge. From GoogleEarth by Juan Wilson.
 
Westward Ho!
With the Pacific Pivot the US Navy strategic center is moving farther West - Or that is East by going over the international dateline. How far are we talking about? Some 5,000 miles. That's about twice the distance from San Diego to Pearl Harbor.

It is my opinion you will see continued pressure on South Korea and Japan to "step-up" and support our saber rattling. There will be pressure on Japan to let our bases on Okinawa not only remain, but get beefed up.

We will likely see renewed some arm twisting of the Philippines. In June 1991, the second largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century took place on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, a mere 55 miles northwest of the capital city Manila. Following their near complete destruction, two of the largest American military bases in the world were abandoned - Clark Air Force Base and the Navy's base in Subic Bay.

Back in 1991 Bill Clinton was president and those distant and our interests were in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We simply abandoned the Philippine bases. In my opinion we will see renewed interest in those bases attached to offers of aide to the Philippine government in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

The costs be damned!
Needless to say, trying to face down China halfway around the world will be hideously expensive. A lot of that cost is the maintenance of about a dozen Carrier Strike Groups (CSG). CSGs comprise the principal element of U.S. power projection capability.They include nuclear aircraft carriers, cruisers; destroyers, submarines and other specialized ships. Weapons platforms include fighter/bomber and anti-tank aircraft; heliccopters; long range sea-to-surfaceguided missiles; air-to-air short range missles; etc. Nuclear weapons are a key element of their armament.

The number of CSGs varies of the years between ten and fifteen. You can bet the CSGs will play a party in the Pacific Pivot on Jeju and Gaum islands in the western Pacific Ocean and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The idea is that you steam one or two CSG anywhere in the world and you establish full-spectrum dominance. 

How will the Pacific Pivot be paid for? Most likely by continued reduction of support for the lower and middle classes. It will take the form of cuts in Social Security payments; reduced unemployment benefits; cuts in food supplements, infrastructure maintenance, disaster relief and anything else you can think of.

The Real Enemies
The sad part is that the Carrier Strike Group is an obsolete system. It was what we successfully fought the Japanese with in WWII, and what could not win the long war in South East Asia or the Middle East. It is likely the defenses of the CSGs will be overcome with a variety of technologies in the next decade or so. That could include electromagnetic pulses; GPS satellite intereference; electronic hacking and other tactics. The CSG are lumbering dinosaurs with no real enemy or mission.

The real enemies today are the spread of radioactive poison throughout the Pacific; climate induced ocean levels rising; acidification, and global warming. The Pacific is also being ravaged by over fishing; gigantic gyres of floating plastic waste; reef dieoff; and, of course, the US Navy's own war games.

Asian Pivot my ass. It's an ugly dance of death!

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Help save Mariana Islands 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Moana Nui Confereence 11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy Next-War-Itis 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii - Start of American Empire 2/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - One 8/31/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Peace for the Blue Continent 8/10/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to Return in 2010 5/2/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Living at the Tip of the Spear 4/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 - Impact on oceani 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 - Whale strandings on Kauai 9/2/04
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 3/15/04


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Off-grid handcrafted life

SUBHEAD: Schulz models much of what he builds on the Japanese aesthetic - make everything in life not just functional, but beautiful.

By Kirsteen Dirksen on 25 November 2013 for Fair Companies -
(http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/off-grid-handcrafted-life-on-oregon-farm-workshop/)


Image above: Front entrance of 200sf structure built from local materials. Still from video below.

Brian is an "obsessive craftsman" who believes he can build most anything in his life. On his Oregon farm he has built, or renovated, five tiny structures. After being told by the county that he couldn't erect a yurt, he built a code-approved main house "to give us a place to legally stay".

Once the main house was built, he created several smaller structures (less than 200 square feet) on the property from 90% local materials.

The farm is completely off the grid and Schulz points out that this doesn't mean they rely on propane or lots of photovoltaics. Nearly all their tools for living have been adapted to fit the off-grid lifestyle.
For his prototype solar-powered bathhouse Schulz used recycled solar hot water panels, salvaged hot water tanks (from the dump), a solar thermal window and a recycled soaking tub.

Indoors, Schulz has adapted a chest freezer to create a low-consuming refrigerator (using a tenth of the electricity of a regular fridge) and a 1940s wood-fired cookstove to cook, heat and as a heat-exchanger, harvesting waste heat and thermo-syphoning water to heat up the home's hot water.

They do have a limited number of photovoltaic panels which produce about 1000 watts of electricity when the sun is shining (for the entire farm), as well as a micro hydro generator in the creek and solar thermal panels.


Image above: Hand-crafted kayak frame on rafter ties below ceiling of structure above. Still from video below. 

Schulz models much of what he builds on the Japanese aesthetic and tries to make everything in his life not just functional, but beautiful (e.g. his bathhouse was designed not just as a shower, but as a way to de-stress).

Schulz is an avid kayaker and for his day job, he builds skin-on-frame kayaks (as well as teach others to build their own).


Video above: Tour of off-grid Oregon organic farm, kayak workshop and home. From (http://youtu.be/7DSQ0W2lwtw).

Cape Falcon Kayak: http://capefalconkayak.com/

More info on original story: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/...


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Man - Conquerer of Nature - Dead

SUBHEAD: The medical examiner’s office confirmed this morning he was 408 and died of a petroleum overdose.

By John Michael Greer on 4 December 2013 for Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/12/man-conqueror-of-nature-dead-at-408.html)


Image above: Detail of painting "Greed" by Jose Brand. From (http://www.josebrand.com/projects/man-vs-nature/).

Man, the conqueror of Nature, died Monday night of a petroleum overdose, the medical examiner’s office confirmed this morning. The abstract representation of the human race was 408 years old.

The official announcement has done nothing to quell the rumors of suicide and substance abuse that have swirled around the death scene since the first announcement yesterday morning, adding new legal wrinkles to the struggle already under way over Man’s inheritance.

Man’s closest associates disagree about what happened. His longtime friend and confidant Technology thinks it was suicide. “Sure, Man liked to have a good time,” he said at a press conference Tuesday evening, “and he was a pretty heavy user, but it wasn’t like he was out of control or anything. No, I’m sure he did it on purpose.

Just a couple of weeks ago we were hanging out at his place, looking up at the moon and talking about the trips we made out there, and he turned to me and said, ‘You know, Tech, that was a good time—a really good time. I wonder if I’ll ever do anything like that again.’

He got into moods like that more and more often in the last few years. I tried to cheer him up, talking about going to Mars or what have you, and he’d go along with it but you could tell his heart wasn’t in it.”

Other witnesses told a different story. “It was terrifying,” said a housekeeper who requested that her name not be given. “He was using more and more of the stuff every day, shooting it up morning, noon and night, and when his connections couldn’t get him as much as he wanted, he’d go nuts. You’d hear him screaming at the top of his lungs and pounding his fists on the walls.

Everybody on the staff would hide whenever that happened, and it happened more and more often—the amount he was using was just unbelievable. Some of his friends tried to talk him into getting help, or even just cutting back a little on his petroleum habit, but he wouldn’t listen.”

The medical examiner’s office and the police are investigating Man’s death right now. Until their report comes out, the tragic end of humanity’s late self-image remains shrouded in mystery and speculation.

A Tumultuous Family Saga

“He was always a rebel,” said Clio, the muse of history, in an exclusive interview in her office on Parnassus this morning. “That was partly his early environment, of course. He was born in the household of Sir Francis Bacon, remember, and brought up by some of the best minds of seventeenth-century Europe; an abstract image of humanity raised by people like that wasn’t likely to sit back and leave things as they were, you know. Still, I think there were strong family influences too. His father was quite the original figure himself, back in the day.”

Though almost forgotten nowadays, Man’s father Everyman, the abstract representation of medieval humanity, was as mediagenic in his own time as his son became later on.

The star of a wildly popular morality play and the subject of countless biographies, Everyman was born in extreme poverty in a hovel in post-Roman Europe, worked his way up to become a wealthy and influential figure in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, then stepped aside from his financial and political affairs to devote his last years to religious concerns.

Savage quarrels between father and son kept the broadsheet and pamphlet press fed with juicy stories all through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and eventually led to their final breach over Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859.

By that time Man was already having problems with substance abuse. “He was just using coal at first,” Technology reminisced;
 “Well, let’s be fair, we both were. That was the hot new drug in those days. It was cheap, you could get it without too much hassle, and everybody on the cutting edge was using it. I remember one trip we took together—it was on one of the early railroads, at thirty miles an hour. We thought that was really fast. Were we innocent back then, or what?”
Clio agreed with that assessment;
“I don’t think Man had any idea what he was getting into, when he started abusing coal. It was an easy habit to fall into, very popular in avant-garde circles just then, and nobody yet knew much about the long term consequences of fossil fuel abuse. Then, of course, he started his campaign to conquer Nature, and he found out very quickly that he couldn’t keep up the pace he’d set for himself without artificial help. That was when the real tragedy began.”
The Conquest of Nature 
It’s an open question when Man first decided to conquer Nature. “The biographers all have their own opinions on that,” Clio explained, gesturing at a shelf loaded with books on Man’s dramatic and controversial career. “Some trace it back to the influence of his foster-father Francis Bacon, or the other mentors and teachers he had in his early days. Others say that the inspiration came from the crowd he ran with when he was coming of age in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

He used to tell interviewers that it was a family thing, that everyone in his family all the way back to the Stone Age had been trying to conquer Nature and he was just the one who finally succeeded, but that won’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny. Examine the career of Everyman, for example, and you’ll find that he wasn’t interested in conquering Nature; he wanted to conquer himself.”

“The business about conquering Nature?” Technology said. “He got into that back when we were running around being young and crazy. I think he got the idea originally from his foster-father or one of the other old guys who taught him when he was a kid, but as far as I know it wasn’t a big deal to him until later.

Now I could be wrong, you know. I didn’t know him that well in those days; I was mostly just doing my thing then, digging mines, building water mills, stuff like that. We didn’t get really close until we both got involved in this complicated coal deal; we were both using, but I was dealing, too, and I could get it cheaper than anybody else—I was using steam, and none of the other dealers knew how to do that.

So we got to be friends and we had some really wild times together, and now and then when we were good and ripped, he’d get to talking about how Nature ought to belong to him and one of these days he was going to hire some soldiers and just take it.

“Me, I couldn’t have cared less, except that Man kept on bringing me these great technical problems, really sweet little puzzles, and I’ve always been a sucker for those. He figured out how I was getting the coal for him so cheap, you see, and guessed that I could take those same tricks and use them for his war against Nature. For me, it was just a game, for Nature, against Nature, I couldn’t care less. Just give me a problem and let me get to work on it, and I’m happy.

“But it wasn’t just a game for him. I think it was 1774 when he really put me to work on it. He’d hired some mercenaries by then, and was raising money and getting all kind of stuff ready for the war. He wanted steam engines so, like the man said, it was steam engine time—I got working on factories, railroads, steamships, all the rest.

He already had some of his people crossing the border into Nature to seize bits of territory before then, but the eighteenth century, that’s when the invasion started for real. I used to stand next to him at the big rallies he liked to hold in those days, with all the soldiers standing in long lines, and he’d go into these wild rants about the glorious future we were going to see once Nature was conquered. The soldiers loved it; they’d cheer and grab their scientific instruments and lab coats and go conquer another province of Nature.”

The Triumphant Years 

 It was in 1859, Technology recalled, that Man first started using petroleum. “He’d just had the big spat with his dad over this Darwin dude: the worst fight they ever had, and in fact Man never spoke to the old man again.

Man was still steaming about the fight for days afterwards, and then we heard that this guy named Edwin Drake over in Pennsylvania could get you something that was an even bigger rush than coal. Of course Man had to have some, and I said to myself, hey, I’ll give it a try—and that was all she wrote, baby. Oh, we kept using coal, and a fair bit of it, but there’s nothing like petroleum.

“What’s more, Man figured out that that’s what he needed to finish his conquest of Nature. His mercs had a good chunk of Nature by then, but not all of it, not even half, and Man was having trouble holding some of the territory he’d taken—there were guerrillas behind his lines, that sort of thing.

He’d pace around at headquarters, snapping at his staff, trying to figure out how to get the edge he needed to beat Nature once and for all. ‘I’ve gotta have it all, Tech,’ he’d say sometimes, when we were flopped on the couch in his private quarters with a couple of needles and a barrel of petroleum, getting really buzzed. ‘I’ve conquered distance, the land, the surface of the sea—it’s not enough. I want it all.’ And you know, he got pretty close.”

Petroleum was the key, Clio explained. “It wasn’t just that Man used petroleum, all his soldiers and his support staff were using it too, and over the short term it’s an incredibly powerful drug; it gives users a rush of energy that has to be seen to be believed. Whole provinces of Nature that resisted every attack in the first part of the war were overrun once Man started shipping petroleum to his forces. By the 1950s, as a result, the conquest of Nature was all but complete.

Nature still had a few divisions holed up in isolated corners where they couldn’t be gotten at by Man’s forces, and partisan units were all over the conquered zone, but those were minor irritations at that point. It was easy enough for Man and his followers to convince themselves that in a little while the last holdouts would be defeated and Nature would be conquered once and for all.

“That’s when reality intervened, though, because all those years of abusing coal, petroleum, and other substances started to catch up with Man. He was in bad shape, and didn’t know it—and then he started having problems feeding his addiction.”

On and Off the Wagon

“I forget exactly how it happened,” Technology recounted. “It was some kind of disagreement with his suppliers—he was getting a lot of his stuff from some Arab guys at that point, and he got into a fight with them over something, and they said, ‘Screw you, man, if you’re going to be like that we’re just not going to do business with you any more.’

So he tried to get the stuff from somebody else, and it turned out the guy from Pennsylvania was out of the business, and the connections he had in Texas and California couldn’t get enough. The Arab guys had a pretty fair corner on the market. So Man went into withdrawal, big time. We got him to the hospital, and the doctor took one look at him and said, ‘You gotta get into rehab, now.’ So me and some of his other friends talked him into it.”

“The records of his stays in rehab are heartbreaking,” Clio said, pulling down a tell-all biography from her shelf. “He’d start getting the drug out of his system, convince himself that he was fine, check himself out, and start using again almost immediately.

Then, after a little while, he’d have problems getting a fix, end up in withdrawal, and find his way back into rehab. Meanwhile the war against Nature was going badly as the other side learned how to fight back effectively. There were rumors of ceasefire negotiations, even a peace treaty between him and Nature.”

“I went to see him in rehab one day,” said Technology. “He looked awful. He looked old—like his old man Everyman. He was depressed, too, talking all the time about this malaise thing. The thing is, I think if he’d stuck with it then he could have gotten off the stuff and straightened his life out. I really think he could have done it, and I tried to help. I brought him some solar panels, earth-sheltered housing, neat stuff like that, to try to get him interested in something besides the war on Nature and his petroleum habit. That seemed to cheer him up, and I think all his friends had high hopes for a while.

“Then the next thing I heard, he was out of rehab. He just couldn’t hack it any longer. I went to his place, and there he was, laughing and slapping everybody’s back and full of big ideas and bigger plans, just like before. That’s what it looked like at first, but the magic was gone. He tried to do a comeback career, but he just couldn’t get it back together, and things went downhill from there.”

The Final Years 

The last years of Man’s career as representation of the human race were troubled. “The war against Nature wasn’t going well by then,” Clio explained. “Man’s forces were holding onto the most important provinces and cities, but insurgencies were springing up all over—drug-resistant microbes here, herbicide-tolerant weeds there.

Morale was faltering, and a growing fraction of Man’s forces in the struggle against Nature no longer believed in what they were doing. They were in it for the money, nothing more, and the money was running out. Between the costs of the war, the costs of Man’s lavish lifestyle, and the rising burden of his substance abuse problem, Man was in deep financial trouble; there’s reason to believe that he may have been engaged in outright fraud to pay his bills during the last few years of his life.”

Meanwhile, Man was becoming increasingly isolated.

“He’d turned his back on most of his friends,” said the anonymous housekeeper quoted earlier. “Art, Literature, Philosophy—he stopped talking to any of them, because they kept telling him to get off the stuff and straighten out his life. I remember the last time Science came to visit—she wanted to talk to Man about the state of the atmosphere, and Man literally threw her out of the house and slammed the door in her face."

She added; " I was working downstairs in the laundry, where you usually can’t hear much, but I could hear Man screaming, ‘I own the atmosphere! I own the planet! I own the solar system! I own the goddam stars! They’re mine, mine, mine—how dare you tell me what to do with my property?’ He went on like that for a while, then collapsed right there in the entry. A couple of us went up, carried him into his bedroom, and got him cleaned up and put to bed. We had to do that pretty often, the last year or so.”

His longtime friend Technology was apparently the last person to see Man alive. “I went over to his place Monday afternoon,” Technology recalled. “I went there pretty often, and we’d do some stuff and hang out, and I’d start rapping about all kinds of crazy stuff, omniscient supercomputers, immortal robot bodies, stuff like that.

I told him, ‘Look, Man, if you want to get into stuff like omniscience and immortality, go talk to Religion. That’s her bag, not mine.’ But he didn’t want to do that; he had some kind of falling out with her a while back, you know, and he wanted to hear it from me, so I talked it up. It got him to mellow out and unwind, and that’s what mattered to me.

“Monday, though, we get to talking, and it turns out that the petroleum he had was from this really dirty underground source in North Dakota. I said to him, ‘Man, what the frack were you thinking?’ He just looked at me and said, ‘I’ve gotta have the stuff, Tech. I’ve gotta have the stuff.’

Then he started blubbering, and I reached out to, like, pat his shoulder—and he just blew up at me. He started yelling about how it was my fault he was hooked on petroleum, my fault the war against Nature wasn’t going well, my fault this and that and blah blah blah. Then he got up and stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

I should have gone after him, I know I should have, but instead I just shook my head and left. Maybe if I’d gone and tried to talk him down, he wouldn’t have done it.”

“Everything was quiet,” the housekeeper said. “Too quiet. Usually we’d hear Man walking around, or he’d put some music on or something, but Monday night, the place might as well have been empty. Around ten o’ clock, we were really starting to wonder if something was wrong, and two of us from the housekeeping staff decided that we really had to go check on Man and make sure he was all right.

We found him in the bathroom, lying on the floor. It was horrible—the room stank of crude oil, and there was the needle and all his other gear scattered around him on the floor. We tried to find a pulse, but he was already cold and stiff; I went and called for an ambulance anyway, and—well, you know the rest.”

The Troubled Aftermath
Man’s death leaves a great many questions unanswered. “By the time Everyman died,” Clio explained, “everyone knew who his heir would be. Man had already taken over his father’s role as humanity’s idealized self-image. That hasn’t happened this time, as you know.

Man didn’t leave a will, and his estate is a mess—it may be years before the lawyers and the accountants finish going through his affairs and figure out whether there’s going to be anything at all for potential heirs to claim.

In the wings there are at least half a dozen contenders for the role of abstract representation of the human race, and none of them is a clear favorite. It may be a long time before all the consequences are sorted out.”

Meanwhile, one of the most important voices in the debate has already registered an opinion.

Following her invariable habit, Gaia refused to grant any personal interviews, but a written statement to the media was delivered by a spokesrabbit on Tuesday evening.
“Please accept My sympathy for the tragic demise of Man, the would-be conqueror of Nature. I hope it will not be out of place, though, to suggest that whomever My human children select as their new self-image might consider being a little less self-centered—not to mention a little less self-destructive.”
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Madness engulfs Japan

SUBHEAD: The tragedy of 3/11/11 and the horrors of Fukushima Daiichi has unhinged the Japanese mind.

By Juan Wilson on 4 December 2013 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/12/madness-engulfs-japan.html)


Image above: Zaha Hadid Architects' proposal for Japan's new national stadium to be built for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. From (http://damoncoulter.photoshelter.com/image/I0000qQkANyZU7NU).

It has been my opinion that the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11/01 that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and seriously damaged the Pentagon drove the United Stated to madness.

The ramifications are still roiling through our bloodstream - an endless war against the Middle East and Fascist security measures at home that include spying on every communication Americans make and a militarization of our police and transportation systems.

Well we are not alone. The tragic events in Japan two-and-one-half years ago have driven Japan into a madness that leads straight to Fascism. Officials will often argue that they are only trying to keep the public calm and avoid panic, but it is more likely officials want to protect themselves (or their handlers) by "saving face".

In Asia the cultural attribute of "saving face" still has a powerful hold. Japan is no exception. With regards to the government and industry handling of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster this is proving to compound the problems.
The Daily Beast: Jake Adelstein, Nov. 29, 2013: [...] even politicians inside the ruling bloc are saying, “It can’t be denied that another purpose is to muzzle the press, shut up whistleblowers, and ensure that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima ceases to be an embarrassment before the Olympics.” [...] And most tellingly, Masako Mori, the Minister of Justice, has declared that nuclear related information will most likely be a designated secret. For the Abe administration this would be fantastic way to deal with the issue of tons of radiated water leaking  [...] There seems to be no end to stopping the toxic waste leaks there but the new legislation would allow the administration to plug the information leaks permanently. As [it] continues to pour into the ocean and our food supply, it is an ominous sign that the Japanese government refuses to disclose information about the levels of pollution [...]  
Bloomberg’s William Pesek, Dec. 2, 2013: The entire process has echoes of George Orwell. [...] if I grab a beer with a bureaucrat and ask the wrong question, could I end up in handcuffs? Ambiguity reigns. Last week, the No. 2 official in [Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, Shigeru Ishiba, issued a dark warning to anyone like me who might dare to question the bill. In a Nov. 29 blog post, the LDP secretary-general likened any such challenge to “an act of terrorism.” He’s since stood by his ominous statement. [Update: Read Ishiba's apology here] [...] “How can the government respond to growing demands for transparency from a public outraged by the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident if it enacts a law that gives it a free hand to classify any information considered too sensitive as a ‘state secret’?” Reporters Without Borders asked in a Nov. 27 statement. Essentially, the group argued, Japan “is making investigative journalism illegal [...]
Japan Times, Dec. 3, 2013: With the contentious state secrets bill slated to clear the Upper House this week, citizens have been holding daily protests in front of the Diet building, denouncing the law as emblematic of the “rise of fascism.” [...] Atsuko Ikegami, 45, also decried what she viewed as the state tightening its grip on citizen access to critical information, including about nuclear crises. [...] “When those (anti-nuclear) rallies happened, I thought, ‘Well, the Japanese people finally learned to stand up and make their voice heard,’ ” Ikegami said. “But the bill could subject these activists to constant spying by the state [...]”
Control of information and spying are only one aspect of the problem. Coverups and denial of the dangers have lead directly harming the public. Reassurances on the safety of food grown and fish caught in areas impacted by radioactive plumes are one aspect. Another are the faked reports of low radiation distribution where topsoil has been removed before testing for radiation. See (http://enenews.com/concerns-japanese-govt-is-manipulating-radiation-readings-levels-much-higher-than-monitoring-stations-indicate). Self-delusion and xenophobia, and paranoia are rampant as well: 
PNAS scientific journal published by Japanese scholars, Oct. 5, 2011: about 20 percent of Japanese land, including Tokyo, is contaminated with highly toxic radiation. It is obvious that agricultural products are also contaminated as the land is polluted with radioactive materials. The contamination on land will last approximately 300 years.
EXSKF, Nov. 28, 2013: The 33rd Ministry of Justice human rights essay contest for junior high school students has been won by a student in Miyagi Prefecture who wrote not buying Fukushima’s peaches because of radiation fear was the same as him being “discriminated” against by his classmate for being a Chinese national. Refusing the Fukushima produce because of radiation fear is tantamount to racial discrimination, according to the student and the Ministry of Justice who selected his essay as the best of the best this year. [...] Not buying Fukushima produce, as the government tells you to? You’re racist [...]
Korea Times, Dec. 2, 2013: More than two and a half years have passed since the “meltdown” at Fukushima nuclear power plant but the exact extent of the damage remains uncertain. Worse, it has been left unrepaired. Thus, experts and citizens worry about the catastrophic impacts on health and safety. [...] Kim Ik-joong, a biology professor from Dongguk University, said that radiation at Fukushima nuclear power plant was at least seven times as much as that at Chernobyl [...]
The Japanese government effort made to presented Tokyo as the best venue in the world to host the 2020 Olympics is one sign of the self-delusion of the country. There is little doubt now that Japan will never return to business as usual. Fuskushima Daiichi is a festering wound that cannot be "healed". It is merely a question of how bad will it be... and that won't be known even by our great-grand-children.

Japan is not alone in its madness. The US government is in denial and obscuring the risks to health of the Pacific Ocean and the West Coast. So is Canada.

Even the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot be trusted. According to itself, the IAEA "serves as the world's central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field." As a referee to protect the public and the environment one has to wonder when it has spent over half a century encouraging the development of the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.

If you want to know how intense the madness can be in Japan see The Cove. It was the winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, The Cove follows a high-tech dive team on a mission to discover the truth about the dolphin trade as practiced in Taiji, Japan. This movie uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide.


Video above: Trailer for "The Cove", 2009. Horrific secret slaughter of dolphins uncovered in Japan. From (http://youtu.be/4KRD8e20fBo).

See also:
Mission Impossible: What future Fukushima? 8/30/13

Japan government engaged in a vast, duplicitous and fruitless campaign to decontaminate Fukushima Prefecture..

The Uprising on Molokai

SUBHEAD: A meeting on What’s Happening to the Health of the People, Keiki and Aina of Molokai?

By Staff on 30 November 2013 for Shaka Movement -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-uprising-on-molokai.html)


Image above: Poster for Ritte meeting and presentation. From (www.SHAKAmovement.org).

WHAT:
A meeting and presentation on Maui to discuss GMOs on Molokai

WHEN:
Wednesday, December 4th 2013 at 7:00pm

WHERE:
Paia Community Center
Maui, Hawaii

Presentation by Walter Ritte and Mercy Ritte

Uncle Walter Ritte will share his wisdom and observations about how Monsanto’s massive GMO seed production on the island of Moloka‘i is affecting the health of its people and its environment.  He speaks from a lifetime of service and activism helping to protect the people and ‘aina of Hawai‘i.

Mercy Ritte, his daughter-in-law, will speak about her organizing other moms and organizations to educate and protect themselves from the chemicals and poisonous fugitive dust issues not only on Moloka‘i but the other islands as well.

A Short General Meeting of Shaka Movement will follow presentation followed by break-out groups into sectors.

Walter Ritte Bio:
  • A leader in banning GMO taro in the state of Hawaii.
  • A leader in stopping the bombing of Kahoolawe.
  • A leader in stopping ramped tourist development on Molokai.
  • A leader in the anti GMO movement in Hawaii.
Mercy Ritte Bio:
  • Founder of “Molokai Mom on a Mission”
  • Founder of “The MOM Hui”
Mercy Ritte, the daughter-in-law of Walter, will speak about her child getting sick from fugitive pesticide dust from GMO fields on the island of Molokai.  Her passion led her to start “Molokai Mom on a Mission” and then later “The MOM Hui”, a support group to empower and encourage other moms to connect with their community and educate others on environmental and human health issues with GMOs/pesticides being the current focus.  There are MOM Hui reps on Kauai, Maui, Oahu and Kona.  We will watch her mini-documentary on what one mom can do to make a difference.

SHAKA message:
Please spread the word about this meeting. There is a lot for all of us to learn about GMO farming practices and their effects on our health, ecosystems and future. There’s a lot to learn about our rights and how we can peacefully and effectively assert them. Coming together on this issue is crucial for success.

In the meantime, please visit www.SHAKAmovement.org and see what peaks your interest. Even if you only have 15 minutes per day, the website is a place for you to be able to educate yourself and your family. Spread the word to friends and community. Ask them to learn about GMOs and show them how they can make a difference. There are many areas and many ways for everyone to plug in.

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