Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why should Profit Dictate the Displacement of Elders from Their Homes?

"How can someone be so mean to their elders?" - Anonymous older resident of Sunset Creek Apartments (Quoted in Colo. Springs Gazette, June 24, p. A2)

For literally dozens of elderly citizens residing at the Sunset Creek Apartments in Colorado Springs, they had believed they'd finally found a safe, congenial 'nirvana'.  Many referred to the complex area housing 40 units - almost entirely of seniors -as  "a peaceful little village". The reason? Unlike many habitation circumstances for apartment dwellers in most cities, the elderly here were next door neighbors, literally, and watched out for one another, had each other's back.  The latter is especially critical given many of the residents have health problems and need regular assistance...or someone checking in on them.

So, imagine their pain, confusion and discomfort when notified by the new management (California -based Seagate Properties) that all must be moved  from their current digs by July 15. Reason? The 40 units in which they're now housed are to be refitted and remodeled to become student "apartment' units housing up to four students each (from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs) .  (The apartments being vacated run from $600-800 a month but it isn't clear what the students may be charged, but $1600 per unit is a likely estimate - or twice the maximum rent for each elder unit occupant)

The point is the elder residents have been informed that their 40 units will be converted to "dorm like student apartments" and as many as 160 students will be housed there beginning in August". (Colorado Springs Gazette, 'Urban Renewal Pushes Out Apartment Residents, June 24., p. A1). Those in the middle of their leases have been offered $400 in "moving expenses" but the problem is most either have no where to go or are aghast at the location of the same complex where they're supposed to move. According to the same piece:

"Seven tenants signed a petition telling the management company that a move is not acceptable. The protestors maintain the replacement units they were shown were dirty and in rundown condition in 'the furthest darkest corners of the property'. Some are in a heavily forested area near a creek and public trail that they fear would make units vulnerable to break ins."

Other plucky residents who dug in their heels and vowed not to move come hell or high water were sent a letter from management warning them what they faced when the students arrived. They were informed, for example, that "resident advisers may hold meetings at all hours" keeping them awake, and doors would likely be left open as students shouted, screamed and carried on. As the letter added (ibid.):

"These are all things that are common and appropriate for college life."

At this notification, one resident remarked:

"Students can live anywhere, why do we have to be uprooted?"

Which is a good question! Also, what ever happened to the time-honored principle of "first come, first served." Isn't there anything like "housing seniority" for those seniors at Sunset Creek? While all the 32,000 recent evacuees (including many seniors) from the Waldo Canyon fire are being given terrific treatment, how about these folks?

Specifically, here's a novel thought: Why not move the students to the other end of the property now planned for the elders? If the reason is because a shuttle bus is more convenient to the elders' units location, then how about the students hike maybe ten minutes to get there? Must they have the shuttle stop to get them to the UCCS campus right at their front doors? In my college days - not all that long ago - we relished lugging books across campus without whining about it.

Isn't this the least this kids could do for the older folks? Evidently Seagate considers it a fait accompli so the issue is closed. The elders will have to vacate, move to a remote corner of the complex, or move out. The students will be treated like landed gentry just arrived on new estates. Why, because they will generate a lot more money for Seagate than those elderly curmudgeons!

Once more, my friends, we see "Pareto Efficiency" at work! See, e.g.

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Manifestly Clear Now What Obama & Dems Must Do!

Now that the dust has settled and the media hype died down, somber heads can finally prevail and - based on the Roberts Supreme Court decision yesterday - move forward on a number of fronts, including: (1) selling the benefits of the new health care law, (2) shoring up its funding, including for the critical expansion of Medicaid (to cover 17 million more people) and (3) Using (1) in combination with old Romney speeches on behalf of his "Romney care" in Massachusetts, to do an end run around this asshole's attacks (including reminding the millions of beneficiaries of the new law what they stand to lose if this guy is elected in November and tries to gut the law or repeal it as he vowed yesterday.)

Let's first grasp, as Rachel Maddow observed on her show last night, that the primary reason negative perceptions on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have abounded is because of: 1) the long lead time in getting its provisions implemented, and 2) the lackluster way the Dems have sold it since its passage.

Both of these have forged a vacuum in which the Rightists and their naysayers - whether in the blogosphere or the 24/7 cable media -talk shows, have been able to sow fear and distortions. They have essentially been able to make up virtually anything they want because the other side (that crafted the law) has been so passive in its advocacy.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts (as Maddow noted) 6 years after 'Romney care' was implemented, 98% are insured in that state, the highest proportion in any! One huge reason it succeeded was an advertising blitz campaign (some examples of which Maddow broadcast on her show) and a short lead-in time to implementation, of barely 1 year. Meanwhile, because of the manipulations of jag-off conservative Dems the provisions in Obama's health reform law had to be delayed for 4 years! (That is four years of the other side being enabled to paint it negatively).

These idiot, jag-off fifth columnists (one reason the Dems didn't REALLY have a filibuster proof supermajority despite the Right's claims to the contrary) demanded an artificial ceiling of no more than a trillion dollars to pay for it, leaving the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to be the ultimate arbiter of its costs. Since the CBO -bases its budget ratings on 10-year cycles it meant the costs could only come in under $1 trillion if 4 years of the 10 were 'subtracted". Thus, instead of starting in 2010 the main provisions had to be delayed to 2014. A terrible mistake, and costly, given how the negative PR has been ramped up against it.

Now, to make up for it, the Dems need to get off their asses and at least repeat the positive aspects of the law until blue in the face. Obama gave the model yesterday in his response speech to the Roberts decision. He for once enumerated and expatiated on the benefits, including vulnerable people not being dinged because of exceeding insurance payout limits, or other sickly people being prevented from access because of "pre-existing conditions" or young adults being prevented frmo being covered under their parents' plans. This is good, now Dems overall need to replay it and emulate it....and Obama needs to keep repeating it.

Then there was the critical Medicaid decision, which many liberals have misinterpreted. Not realizing that it was 6-3 against Medicaid expansion but two of the ones in the '6' group were 'liberals'. (Stephen Breyer and Elaine Kagan). Had those two not defected to the side of the 4 conservatives, the Medicaid expansion would have passed. So one is led to inquire why these two would take that position, and the only logical or acceptable conclusion is because they are sending a message that the tax support needs to be increased for all Americans. (See also my previous blog related to the need for higher taxation, including letting ALL the Bush tax cuts expire.)

Lastly, Dems need to wake up and realize if Romney or his jag-offs corporatists get into office the new health law will likely be pecked to death even if Romney fails to repeal it as he vowed, e.g. proclaiming like the school yard, batshit crazy bully he still is:

"I will act to repeal Obamacare from my first day as president of the United States

As blogger Robert Scheer noted, this is "a prescription of destructive gridlock for a program already well under way."  In other words, if Mitt Romney is elected Americans now so tired of gridlock won't see less of it but perhaps five times MORE! This is why I still can't believe the polls showing Romney and Obama in a dead heat. How can so many of the putative "99%" be for this corporate job exterminator, who - as reported recently in a TIME special article - dispatched even more American jobs overseas than first believed. How can any self-respecting, white (or black) working class man or woman seriously vote for this guy who will be guaranteed to make their lives a hundred times worse? It boggles the mind!

Anyway, the way to best and beat Romney when he keeps publicly vowing to end Obama's health care law is to keep showing Mitt's own speeches (avaialble via dozens of news clips from 6 years ago) promoting his own Romney care version in Massachusetts. And then also showing how that program, so reviled during the Repug debates, now features the largest percentage of insured citizens in the nation. So why the fuck is Mitt running from his success?  The only answer is that the man has to posture negative reaction to appease the Tea bagger vote! But if he does that, he's not only a liar but a hypocrite! DO people - voters really want such a guy in the White House?

The way forward for Dem success is clear, and the Roberts court decision 'tea leaves' show the way. What remains is for the Dems to have the balls to use it instead of running from their shadows.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Right Wing Blogosphere Goes Nuts as Roberts Upholds Constitutionality of Health Care Law

"I have a message for Chief Justice Roberts! The power to tax is the power to destroy!" - Dean Clancy of Freedomworks

"It’s a terrible day for the American people! This was an activist court that rewrote the law to make it even more ineffectual, and even more expensive" Michelle Bachmann

Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. " Rep. Rand Paul (TN)

Chief Justice Roberts was the worst part of the Bush legacy,”   Ben Shapiro of

I didn't blog earlier on the Supreme Court decisions to do with "Obamacare" (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)  because obviously there was vast confusion as to what it meant. The pundits as well as legal wizards were still scratching their heads and likely butts. CNN - to its everlasting shame- jumped the gun with the crawl screen: "Individual Mandate Struck Down" - which had the expected response of generating (initially) massive wet dreams for Rush Limbaugh's cheerleaders and Faux News followers.

But not so fast! As time went on a second decision became imminent, and in that key one Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the 4 liberals on the court asserting the individual mandate was: a) constitutional and b) passed muster based on the government's "tax authority:" In other words, if citizens opt not to purchase any insurance, they can certainly be hit with a tax penalty. (Though if I had my 'druthers I'd just increase taxes uniformly, by 5% to pay for the implementation, while also sunsetting the Bush tax cuts. )

Someone has to pay for the wider processing and acceptance, and if it doesn't happen by way of taxes it must unfold some other way. No, you can't make people actually purchase something they don't really want - at a particular time - but in the context of a law which hinges on shared income to achieve its assorted goals, you can resort to the paramount revenue generator which is TAXES!

A lot of this goes back to a subject on which I've blogged before: the American aversion to taxes, specifically any tax increases!

This is also irrational given that tax rates now are their lowest as a percentage of GDP in more than 40 years. But the problem is too many have been misled by anti-tax PR generated by the likes of Gasbag Grover Norquist and dozens of parroting Republican congress critters.

Worse, the party (Democrats)  that ought to be defending taxes as the means by which government can work for all typically punts rather than offering a full -throated defense. Worse, they even choose to side with the enemy on its memetic wicket, by promoting tax cuts (at least for the middle class - but two years ago they helped pass all the Bush tax cuts putting us in another $600 billion hole! )

This (Dem) party knows damned well the perilous impact of deficits on future social benefits, but rather than meet it head on, they yap about possible cuts to "entitlements" - the very thing which makes them merely Republicans Lite and drives people away from voting for them. Instead of simply opting to halt the Bush tax cuts (thereby saving $3.7 trillion over ten years), they emulate crack addicts who can't wait to get another "line" into their snouts - and pass all the tax cuts, instead of explaining to the middle class why it can't have BOTH tax cuts and future benefits.

What exactly is so damned difficult about that?

So, yes, what I liked most about the Roberts' Court decision is the way it stripped away all the subterfuge, crappola and camouflage....basically saying in so many words (in the 5-4 part where Roberts joined the court liberals): "Yes, look.... this law is constitutional but pay for it via revenues. Taxes. Not by forcing purchases. Penalize those who dodge insurance responsibility with taxes but maybe better, increase the tax load overall to pay for the benefits ALL Americans hope to obtain. Not only from this Health care overhaul but Social Security and Medicare, as well as Medicaid too."

Indeed, that paraphrased take was reinforced in a secondary decision that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could not force states to raid already weakened budgets to pay for expanded Medicaid coverage as demanded under the law. (The penalty being that the federal matching Medicaid contribution would be withheld). In other words, the states didn't have to delve into their coffers (which are largely in the red thanks to the continued recessionary environment) to pay to add residents to the Medicaid rolls as demanded under the law.

The solution again? Increase federal taxes to pay for a larger population using Medicaid in the states.

The Roberts Court is basically telling both parties not to tapdance around the central issues, but to be honest and forthright. If people want any kind of benefit - whether health care, or to preserve future Social Security COLAs -   they had better be prepared to pay for it in some way. There's no free ride. You cannot have your cake and eat it!

The government has the power and authority to tax and now it better damned well use it - whether in launching another war (or occupation), expanding a social -medical benefit or paying for infrastructure repair.

Those who go against the proper use of government - which is underscored by the 'general welfare' clause in the Preamble to the Constitution?   Well some would use the term anti-taxers, "Groverites" or naysayers. I have a much simpler one: Domestic Security Traitors! If you recognize the extent to which taxes -enhanced revenue undergirds our domestic security yet choose to do nothing to shore it up, what else can you be?

Can We Finally Agree Mild Winters Are as Welcome as 3-Headed Fetuses?

The question posed isn’t intended to be facetious or absurd. Consider the underlying logic and compare it to the logic desiring more and more mild winters: If one head is terrific and confers terrific thinking-brain power, think of what THREE heads with three brains can do! How can you not gush over a newborn with three heads! I mean, serious prodigy on the way!

If one mild winter is delightful…..glorious….and spares you all those extra heating (gas, electric bills), not to mention busting your butt shoveling snow….good grief…think of what having one every winter would be like! If one mild winter saves you $1,000 in energy bills and 40 hours of back breaking shoveling....then my Gawd! 10 mild winters will save you $10,000 in energy (likely more because of inflation) and 400 hours of shoveling!

Trouble is BOTH are aberrant! Both are abnormal and portend nasty, undesirable consequences. But in this blog I will note again the mild winters every manjack was gushing over 5 months back – see. e.g.

but via fast forwarding to the present.

According to ABC weather guru Sam Champion on the ABC ‘Good Morning America’ show this morning, 1011 heat records have been broken in the the past week, 22 states are currently under heat wave advisory, and 260 fires are raging in the West. Can we now agree that “beautiful, mild winters” are not what we want ….they’re aberrations and about as normal as 3-headed infants? Can we now agree that those “mild winters” ought to have conformed to the normal 20 (or 20 below) depending on where one lives, with lots of snow? Can we agree that when we don’t see those  type of snowy, cold winters bad things occur down the line?

I recall a visit to a local UPS store in early March when the temperature was 72. This was at 8.30 a.m. The lady manning the register cooed how “beautiful” the weather was instead of having the normal 20-30 degrees and snow. I stopped her in her tracks and said ‘don’t be so hasty to laud this weather….it’s not normal…and wait til the summer when we’re boiling with high 90s and 100s!” Regretfully, my forecast turned out to be too true. It’s not even July and Colorado Springs has already had more than a week of 95+ days, and three with temperatures in the low 100s. Moreover this abnormal (up to 15 degrees above avg.) heat has fueled the conditions for the Waldo Canyon fire to erupt.

But why can’t we have nice, pleasant mild winters at least some years?”

Because even more abnormal events occur when the REAL hot season arrives! The abnormality of the climate then leads to abnormalities in the ecologies of locations where natural balance is only upheld by the definitive cold, or definitive differences in seasons. Case in point: the Rocky Mountain West, which now has some 6 billion trees converted into potentially explosive kindling ready to burst into flames because of the mountain pine beetle. The proliferation of the pine beetles led to the death of those billions of trees and their conversion to the approximate equivalent of a latent kerosene –soaked firewood, now dry but still lethal.

The beetles proliferated when the Rocky Mountain region began having too many mild winters instead of the normal 30-40 degrees below zero intervals that would have wiped the critters out. Thus, instead of regular cycles of bug ‘wipeout’ there was only steady population increase, and that meant the food sources had to expand to feed them. The multiplying pine beetles then infested more and more and more trees (already victims to the spruce budworm) with their numbers exploding each summer – having had time to recover and even increase during the winters, and springs.

Clearly, people must grasp that there is payment to be made, or rather steep costs in their lives – to enjoy those nicey, mild winter days. Ask all the thousands now driven from their homes in Colorado Springs, and the hundreds who have lost them. Ask those throughout the West living nearby to one of the two hundred plus monster fires ....whose homes may yet be incinerated. Ask them now, if they had it to do over again, if they'd opt or gush for the mild winter five months back.

For me, I winced with each mild winter day beheld this past season. I thought of the early weeds and insects that would emerge and multiply, including West Nile mosquitoes, and also reasoned that if it was this warm in January or February (when it should have been in the 20s instead of high 60s) what the hell would it be like in June or July. I suspected weeks of high 90s by extrapolation, and that is what we’ve seen in most of Colorado.  My one regret is that when I did a model projection (see image from the first link given above) it was actually much more conservative than what we’re now seeing (scorching smothering heat except for the west coast). The likely reason is using earlier NOAA models as fiducial markers, instead of going with my gut of blistering 90s-100s for most of the nation.

In any case, the constant and severe heat conditions that actually emerged have fed the dry conditions that led to the massive wildfire with 2 mile high flames lapping at our doorstep. The heat has also fed the hundreds of fires throughout the west.

Moral of this story? Don’t pine for any more mild winters! Beg, pray or beseech whatever power or divinity you might believe in to make those damned winters as cold as they ought to be for the specific regions. In other words, placate your deity for the winters of yore to return!

For me, I won’t be beseeching any distant or other entities, only acknowledging that the current CO2 concentration  (395 ppm) is now too high to allow any return to normality. This means ever milder winters and springs, longer summers, and eventually a continual “summer” subsuming all other seasons for most of the planet. Those like me who fondly remember the past and how seasons used to be defined….will now be left only with the dregs of long lost memories… the heat continues to increase year after year.

See also:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Fire Next Time? Is THIS a Glimpse of the Future?

I awakened just after 5 this morning, coughing with my eyes burning from the smoke from the Waldo Canyon wild fire on the west side of Colorado Springs. It took me several minutes to get my breath, and then realize I had to get some respite from the smoke-laden atmosphere of the house. Thus, I went up the road for a lengthy breakfast in an air-conditioned Burger King. (Note: closing the windows is not an option with the repeated 98-99 degree temperatures, and our only source of cooling - an evaporative cooler- depends on at least one window being open to disperse the cool air.)

After moving from Maryland in 2000, we soon realized that unlike that state, air conditioning for homes was a rarity in Colorado. Most residents simply assumed - based on earlier climate patterns - summers would be moderate and light breezes would suffice to cool off open homes. This concept and expectation was in for a wake up call in 2002 when prolonged heat struck most of the state and the Haymans Fire alerted us to the possibility of monster wildfires in our future. But few could believe that such a state with so much scenic beauty (and the mountains were one reason we moved here) could fall repeatedly to such depredations.

But this year's wildfires taking over much of the state - whether through flames or smoke - is an illustration that we were likely wrong. Indeed, an NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration) projection given in 2002 forecast the American West would see extended drought, hotter weather and fire conditions into the near and distant future ...on account of climate change-global warming.

This take was revived in a March 14, 2009, Washington Post article entitled: Pace of Climate Change Exceeds Estimates, wherein one read- quoting Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, addressing the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

"Fires such as the recent deadly blazes in southern Australia have increased in recent years, and that trend is expected to continue. Warmer weather, earlier snowmelt, drought and beetle infestations facilitated by warmer climates are all contributing to the rising number of fires linked to climate change. Across large swaths of the United States and Canada, bark beetles have killed many mature trees, making forests more flammable. And tropical rain forests that were not susceptible to forest fires in the past are likely to become drier as temperatures rise, growing more vulnerable.'

The beetle referenced is the 'mountain pine beetle' a variant of the bark beetle species. What it does is nothing short of horrendous, in converting living plant tissue into highly flammable dead bark for which the slightest spark can start a conflagration. Those readers interested in a detailed account of the trepidations of this pest can get hold of the superb book: The Dying of the Trees.  You can read a shorter account here:

The point is the beetle is a major catalyst for all the ongoing and uncontained Colorado wild fires, including the nearby Waldo Canyon fire which last evening burst back into violence after a thermal current whipped winds to over 65 mph. It then sent flames bursting into the west side Mountain Shadows neighborhood, burning homes and forcing the evacuation of 32, 000.  The thermal currents and winds also dispersed parts of the fire's burgeoning smoke plumes eastward, toward the east side of Colorado Springs where we live. You can see assorted images from last night here:

The combination of culprits cited by Christopher Field above portends many more years of extended heat, and wild fires. Indeed, as global warming ramps up (and bear in mind all these wildfires across the West are also discharging even more megatons of  CO2 into the atmosphere to increase the thermal blanket) we can expect to see prolonged triple digit temperatures (103- 110F) feeding even more violent fires. A fictional book that actually forecast raging fires as an accompaniment of a world in the throes of global warming was Heat.   Other events it forecast were massive red algal blooms (red tides) along the Gulf coast and the death of millions of fish, as well as plagues of exotic, once tropical diseases (e.g. dengue fever) and extended downpours in the east accompanied by bouts of blistering hot days that down power grids .....because of over use.

As I noted to my wife yesterday evening as we watched the news in horror, with motorists trying to escape the monstrous flames towering over the I 25, we have seen the future already and it doesn't look encouraging. (Added to this depressing event and the constant smoke other personal bad news I didn't really need but received yesterday: that a 2nd PSA test actually showed another increase to 6.1 over the 5.6 three months ago. I am now about to take another ('free PSA') test which is a superior discriminator to the absolute test. I will keep readers posted on what transpires...including the nature of any treatments (if any) I need to undergo.

Meanwhile, I am just trying to cope with lots of smoky air!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Springs' Wingnuts Explain Reasons for Requesting Federal Assistance

"more reliance on government means bigger budget deficits" -

Robert Samuelson in The Colorado Springs Gazette, today, p. A13.

Of course, it's always interesting to me - reading Samuelson's opinion - how selective conservos are about how they define "more reliance on government". Ginormous military spending more than the next 25 nations? OKAY! No problemo! Enormous tax cuts mainly weighted to the wealthiest? That's fine too! We don't count it as reliance on government never mind it basically ensures vast taxes on future generations.

This leads into the response of Colorado Springs assorted leading lights to the claim they have now gone against their essential memetic conviction of "No reliance on government" - when they went cap in hand to beg for federal assistance in putting out the Waldo Canyon fire.  In fact, they were incensed the feds didn't act fast enough!  The Colorado Springs Gazette in its op-ed today bleated:

"As the Waldo Canyon fire devastated lives and property west of Colorado Springs, threatening lives and property, the world's finest aerial fire-fighting equipment sat idle in a military base for two days."

Two things:

1) The powers-that -be, including Springs über-Mayor Steven Bach, never requested any assistance through those two days,

2) The law ('Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 2007') clearly stipulates that:  "The intent of the Stafford Act is that Federal assistance be supplemental to local, state, and private relief organizations. Nevertheless, it is not neessary for the community to exhaust its resources before it requests Federal assistance."

SO perhaps, the City Council, the County Commission and Mayor Bach didn't read the law properly. Definitely Rep. Dougie Lamborn (who concocted the 'tarbaby' remark to criticize President Obama's policies) didn't read it. Since Lame-born actually said (ibid.):

"What Congress has decided previously is that in a case like this the private sector has to deplete its resources before federal assets can be brought to bear.", Dougie! Read it again! (Good advice because Lamborn has vouchsafed to return to the bill and "look at potential revisions".)  My question: How can this character even pretend to be a member of the House when he can't even reference laws properly, and can't keep up with the critical provisions for when a community can request assistance in case of emergencies? But this is the guy that employed the 'tarbaby' epithet before being remotely aware of its racist overtones.

Then we come to Mayor Steve Bach who insisted:

"Federal assistance should be quicker as saving lives and property is a legtimate function of government."

Really, Steve-erino? And what about assistance in respect to medical care, access to affordable health care, to save lives not just in the immediate present but over the long term? Does that not count? Is that not a "legitimate function" of government?  Or.....have you not yet read the Preamble to the Constitution where it explicitly states that a prime role of government is "to promote the GENERAL welfare". Get that? The general welfare, which by any logical definition must include affordable health and dental care since without them there can be no other welfare worth discussing.

The bottom line is that all the Springs' conservos whining to the contrary, the Feds did arrive within the scope of the 2007 law, and that was after all the assorted powers-that-be made their needs known.

Maybe the Feds might be quicker to arrive in the near future if you bozos could:

a) Read the damned law properly, and

b) Were more inclined to use other (non-emergency) federal assistance when offered, as opposed to emulating an anti-general welfare douchebag like Robert Samuelson.

Tackling the Core Problem of the Planet & Biosphere

As I 've noted in many previous blogs, e.g.

human population growth is unsustainable and is clearly the core problem facing this planet: the more people the more the drain on limited resources and greater likelihood of conflicts, the more the drain on energy capacity, and the greater the CO2 produced-  which directly fuels global warming. In other words, you attack the problem at its core and you can reduce all the other problems that beset us.

According to the site Global Footpoint Network:

We currently need 1 ½  Earths to regenerate the resources the current lot of humanity consumes in one year. Since this population burden has already increased by 1 billion in just 12 years,  it stands to reason that we either have to: a) find at least one more 'Earth' (or Earthlike planet) to live on, or (b) cut our rate of increase to the bone. Even if the population remained constant at 7.3 billion we're going to be in serious trouble as global warming continues to ramp up and wield extended droughts like in the American West, or drenching crop killing rains -storms elsewhere.

Because humanity has played the ass too long, most of the remaining solutions for population control must be draconian if any life quality is to be possible. China has solved this in its own way, recognizing from 30 years ago it would never be a major player economically on the world stage unless it gots its numbers under control. Hence it instituted its "one child only" policy, which has been a success at least in containing its numbers which otherwise would have surpassed 2.7 billion - leaving it still a peasant nation as it was in Mao Tse-Tung's reign.

One can, of course, quarrel with the morality of the Chinese solution (and we in the West and especially 'Muricans, love to cast stones while not minding our own moral house), but at the end of the day it worked - and we see China now a creditor to the U.S. of A.'s military and tax cut spendthrifts, even as the Chinese rise to super power status.

The inherent problem with the Chinese one child rule is not in the policy per se but in its contradictions. For example, typically couples that violate the policy must cough up a hefty fine but the fines vary from place to place ('The Economist', June 23, p. 49) As The Economist article notes:

" A husband and wife in Shanghai will each pay 110,000 yuan ($17,300) three times the city's average annual post tax income, for a second child. The rich can shell out millions."

In effect, the Chinese one child standards for sanctions can be relatively easy for a rich couple, but brutal for an ordinary couple say in Shanghai or Beijing. Ideally, there ought to be a single and uniform one child policy for all.  Those who flout it are strerilized and the additional child (when of age) is sterilized. There can't be any special appeals, or dispensations. Once people are aware of this, and since there won't be any latitude for gamesmanship, they will shape up. Granted these solutions sound brutal, but the planet is entering brutal times because of  humans recklessly exceeding its population carrying capacity by at least 1.5 times. And the Chinese are merely the main nation trying to do something about it, the U.S. - equally at risk, is not. India had tried, but political pressure forced the old Gandhi gov't to give up its forced sterilization policy.

The pervasive squeamishness of most nations to act boldly on their population problems was first articulated by physicist Albert Bartlett, both in a Physics Today article from July, 2004 ('Thoughts on Long-Term Energy Supplies: Scientists and the Silent Lie’, p. 53  ) and in a book, 'The Essential Exponential: For the Future of Our Planet' (2004), Chapter 3, 'On Population'.. In the former Bartlett wrote, in respect of fellow scientists' chronic failure to name human population growth as a major cause of our energy and resource problems:

"their (scientists’) general reticence stems from the fact that it is politically incorrect or unpopular to argue for stabilization of population – at least in the U.S. Or perhaps scientists are uncomfortable stepping outside their specialized areas of expertise”.

Whatever the reason, Bartlett argues it is equivalent to perpetuating a “silent lie”, a term derived from a Mark Twain quote:

Almost all lies are acts, and speech has no part in them…I am speaking of the lie of silent assertion: we can tell it without saying a word.”

Now, while the Chinese solution to over population is an extreme draconian example, there are increasing efforts to "nibble" away at the core problem. One of the recent ones entailed a major Boulder, CO company donating 500,000 condoms to Haiti in a first effort to assist it to stem its over-abundant humanity. (And let's realize that all the care donations and packages in the world won't help unless the Haitians help themselves and cut their numbers). See, e.g. Boulder firm giving condoms to Haitians.”   

As one Denver Post letter writer put it after applauding Sir Richard's move:

"Am I the only one who has noticed that every time there's  a disaster in a Third World country everyone has at least six or seven kids?.....Wouldn't they be better off with 3 or 4? We can't feed every hungry child in the world and we certainly can't bring them all to the U.S.

Family planning is the answer..we need it there, we need it here, we need it now."

Indeed. But we must be aware of the reactionary forces that dislike the idea, never mind the increased misery and suffering inflicted. (And that suffering will multiply horrendously as more austerity measures are imposed in the West, including the U.S., and giving hits the wall of fatigue and collapses). Even if a person has some disdain for family planning, he or she ought to realize its economic impact: the more people generated ....wherever....the greater the difficulty in obtaining employment...anywhere. As I noted previously, nearly all the U.S. unemployment problem currently is due to population expansion. That's why 140,000 a month of new workers is always written off as merely meeting the "population replacement" level. (E.g. 140,000 is the number of new workers entering the labor force each month).

That number over one year yields 1, 680,000 jobs. Over ten years it amounts to 16, 800,000 or accounting for nearly all the current unemployed. As long as we keep making babies at the rate we are, we will never catch up in terms of employment. Add to that the jobs sent overseas and you have a situation that's even worse. (Which is why the "real" unemployment rate is usually cited as 40-70% higher, see e.g. 'The Judas Economy: The Triumph of Capital and the Betrayal of Work')

If our nation is to improve and its life quality enhanced for all, people need to wake up and recognize where the actual problems inhere. And if I am correct about the central cause, nothing any politician does - whether Romney, Obama or whoever...will work unless population control is first addressed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Want to Get Girls Into Science? Don't Insult Their Intelligence!

When I taught physics at Harrison College in Barbados I generally had at least as many girls as boys numbered in my Advanced -level physics labs, classes. What I noticed year after year is that while the males were always eager to engage in class participation the girls had to be cajoled. Maybe it was a "female" thing, but they generally dreaded being called upon in a class or lab to provide an explanation. (Despite the fact they did as well or better than the boys on homework and tests)

Eventually, I surmounted this barrier by implementing intra-class competitions - boys vs. girls. Also having a prize of some type (usually a book for each) to incite them to action. This did the trick and the girls discovered that when they had a mind to, they could deliver a response as intelligent and coherent as any of their male counterparts.

Now we learn of an apparent initiative (in Europe) to get more females into choosing science, and scientific careers by using a kind of cheap, bimbo-esque PR.  It appears the brain trust that thought of this scheme somehow believed women, girls had to be lured by flashy fashionista-type bollocks into giving science a try.  as one recent report put it: "The European Commission this week decided to trick ladies’ fluffy little brains into believing that stuff like astrophysics and nanotechnology are like, the funnest."

Are you efing kidding me?  Astrophysics certainly can be fun, but it also requires a lot of diligence and hard work! That includes mastering the appropriate vocabulary and also the mathematical apparatus necessary to progress. Readers can get an inkling of what that involves in several earlier "basic" blogs I did on astrophysics topics:

The preceding examples will show that the "fun" to be derived from pursuing astrophysics has nothing in common with superficial bilge:  lipstick, mascara, dancing, high heels or emulating the latest images out of Vogue  or Cosmopolitan. To be truthful, most female astrophysicists share none of that flim-flam as priorities in their life. That doesn't mean they look unfeminine - e.g. with hairy legs and armpits, mustache and no lipstick......only that their preoccupation is with the atmospheres of stars and dynamics of galaxies as opposed to the human "atmosphere" of superficial appearance, fashion and brand names.

Meanwhile, the EC offering emerges as supercilious and stupid at its core. Their video campaign features a trio of high-heeled, miniskirted bimbettes against a pink backdrop,  laughing and tilting their heads to images of test tubes and makeup brushes. The slogan? Science: It’s a Girl Thing!” The letter I in “science,” by the way, is a tube of lipstick. Puh-leeze! 

The defense for this vacuous nonsense? Máire Geoghegan-Quinn of the European Commission explained that the campaign was trying to “overturn clichés and show women and girls (and boys too!) that science is not about old men in white coats.”  (Well, sorry there, Máire, but a lot of it is!   Or at least older men in suits who are the ones most often giving ground- breaking presentations at top scientific conferences.)  Meanwhile, spokesman Michael Jennings added that the clip was “intended to catch the attention of the target audience – 13-to-17-year-old girls,” in a “fun, catchy” attempt to “speak their language to get their attention.” really want to know the best way to get their attention? You detach them from their ipads, iphones, cell phones, and Facebook obsessions then let some intellectual light in. You try to stimulate the radiance of that "light" by encouraging independent inquiry. You don't feed their culturally-biased fantasies with superficial baloney and bunkum. If then these 13-17 year olds want to ultimately have an exceptional place in the world, they must acquire the habit of thinking exceptionally - not like the herd! If they begin to think exceptionally, and that also means critically, they will then begin to pursue exceptional activities.....different from the herd's.

Yes, detachment from the herd's obessions and social networks is painful, or will be, but those who make breakthroughs later give up that chat time or Facebook time to pursue science because it is fun to them - not because it must be made so by a blatant PR campaign that insults and patronizes them. Thus, a girl who detaches herself from her web tribe connections and pursues a scientific interest, say in cancer cell markers, may be the one to find a more efficient way to treat cancers and become an oncologist at the research forefront.

Fortunately, I'm not the only "curmudgeon" who thinks this way! Nature editor Helen Pearson called it “packed with painful patronizing cliché,” while Victoria Herridge, a paleontologist at Britain’s Natural History Museum, declared it “beyond parody… all the things we worry about with gender stereotyping and body image these days.” Meanwhile, University College London social psychologist Petra Boynton succinctly asked, “For the love of all things holy, what is this crap?

What is it indeed? Basically, as most of us see it, a case of the "tail wagging the dog". The demeaning, superficial and lowest common denominator culture attempting to entice young females into the rarefied realm of rigorous appealing to their lowest common denominator social or personal appearance obsessions.

It simply doesn't work that way, and if anyone tells you it does, mark them off as full of shit.

Colo. Springs Comes to Senses: Begs for Federal Help

Colorado Springs is perhaps the most conservative city in the U.S. and that includes its surrounding county, El Paso. This is not surprising if one has lived here any length of time. After all, 'Focus on the Family' is headquarted here, along with some 84 fundamentalist Christian churches. It also has a large military retiree populace, nearly 4 of 5 of whom profess to be diehard Repubs. Further, it is the home to a number of military installations including the well-known Air Force Academy, Peterson AFB, and Fort Carson - now housing 31,000 troops. We also know (from many polls) where most of the military stand in respect to their political persuasion.

The Springs and El Paso County have also in the past four years become fierce braggarts in the realm of proudly denying or dismissing federal aid or money, including for stimulus to get its economy going. (It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at 8.5%). Most recently, when nearly $300,000 was offered to implement three jobs the City Council brashly turned the money down saying: "We ain't takin' no federal dough!"

This is certainly an interesting (and paradoxical) take given they have no qualms about grabbing millions in "federal dough" each year, to support all the military and their bases. And, of course, as I'd blogged about before:

the Springs and El Paso County is currently salivating at the prospect of grabbing nearly a billion to set up a 'combat air brigade'.   The point? They LOVE the feds when the federal tax largesse feathers their own nest (via congressional pork that disadvantages other U.S. towns, regions)  but don't want the feds' help when it entails stimulus money for new jobs for regular citizens, or other assistance. (Little wonder that even as money has poured in to support the military, the city itself has had to close parks, shutter restrooms, and darken street lights to save well as close schools!)

Now, the news that the County has beseeched the federal government for its resources in fighting the Waldo Canyon fire, is a firm reminder that there are definite limits to their "do it ourselves except for military funding" mindset. For those who may not know, the Waldo Canyon fire erupted over Friday- Saturday and quickly metastasized within four hours Saturday night, from 2,500 acres to more than 10,000 acres. The local crews, including from the Colorado Springs Fire Dept. quickly realized they were "out gunned" and - as reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette (today, p. 2A):

"El Paso County officials....pushed for federal fire resources Sunday. County Commissioner Sallie Clarke and her colleagues declared  the Waldo Canyon burn a disaster ...allowing the County to appropriate federal funds, aircraft and crews to join the battle".

Well, frankly, it is at least nice to know Commissioner Sallie Clarke (who spurned any federal stimulus money for the county 3 years ago, despite decaying infrastructure,..roads, bridges, corroded 100-yr. old water mains) now finally acknowledges a point at which she needs the "dastardly"  feds and their $$.

But one is left to wonder if it will ever happen again, and for more normal services and support, apart from sucking on the fed for military goodies!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nun Articulates Sexual Ethics for Vatican's Anti-sexual Fossils

Leave it to a nun, in this case Sister Margaret Farley (of Yale Divinity School) to school the Vatican's ossified, anti-sexual relics in a practical sexual ethics that nearly all normal, non-psychotic people would be able to live by. This she did in her (2006) book, Just Love.   Evidently, this daring and insightful book only got onto the Vatican's radar screen later, after it had taken issue with American nuns standing for reason (and especially the Obama Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - including the revised contraception aspects).

See also my earlier blog:

So, not long after these Theo-fascists grabbed control of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (the main activist outlet for American nuns) Sister Farley's book evidently came onto their radar and all hell broke loose. The aged dinosaurs in Roman collars heaped all sorts of opprobrium and then questioned Sr. Farley's bona fides as a Catholic, or religious. For her part, Sister Farley calmly and briefly replied in one op-ed:

I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.”

Indeed. And that genre is a refreshing liberation of Catholic Sexual ethics from its anti-sexual Manichean roots, as opposed to the deformed hyper-Manichean blunderbust  embodied in the Church’s antiquated Magisterium (Teaching office - and once more, as we were taught at Loyola University in our Ethics classes, NO ONE is obliged to adhere to any injunctions of the Magisterium - they're intended as 'guiding'suggestions' and not predicated on the 'ex cathedra' (infallible) pronouncements). This is also a major reason why young married Catholics have been advised by enlightened priests to "follow their own consciences" in regard to practicing artificial birth control.

This is good because let's face it the common thread thoughout the RC Church's Ethics history is an unhealthy preoccupation and obsession with sexual acts, including condemning a host of natural behaviors such as masturbation, and entertaining sexual fantasies. Indeed it was the last that got the attention of a former priest, Emmet McLoughlin who documented in his book 'Crime and Immorality in the Catholic Church' (Lyle Stuart Books, 1962) how the Church's demonizing (and Hell -sanctioning) of sexual fantasies was responsible for more Catholic committals to insane asylums and psychiatric wards than anything else. 

In one of his chapters ('Let the Statistics Tell Their Tragic Story', pp. 189-214) McLoughlin actually documents the extent to which the RC fossils' proscriptions against sexual fantasizing (especially those instances which produced hard-ons) engendered no end of torment in the most sensitive and earnest Catholic youths. The latter's subsequent preoccupations with the tortures of Hell (e.g. if they died in their sleep after masturbating) then sent them into precarious and unstable mental states that often led to an asylum or hospital psych ward. Those that didn't suffer such an end, often turned into de facto eunuchs.....thereby accomplishing the Church's primary aim of seizing control of its flock's collective gonads. As all power mongers on the planet know: control the gonads of subjects and their brains will (usually) follow!

The question arises:  Why should anyone give a royal crap what this absurd, archaic throwback institution asserts or teaches?  Well if the preceding wasn't enough let me add two more reasons: 1) It lost all moral standing once it opted – at the highest levels of the Vatican (e.g. Ratzinger) to protect priestly pederasts, and 2) its repulsive dogmas, including the ban on artificial contraception, continue to spread destitution and misery globally. (Why the late Arthur C. Clarke dismissed John Paul II's encyclical ‘Veritatis splendor’ as a "crime against humanity")

The fact is the Church has used up its moral capital and doesn’t even know it. The fact they've gone after enlightened nuns like Sister Farley shows they're too damned dumb to recognize when they're out-maneuvered. Meanwhile, recognizing the exhaustion of that capital, Sr. Margaret Farley has advanced a refreshing, realistic sexual ethics predicated on real flesh and blood humans, not glorified angels inhabiting human bodies. For that she is to be commended, and one reason I recommend her book, even to non-Catholics and atheists! The fact is we ALL need the vision provided by a rational sexual ethics devoid of antiquated doggerel, foolish ancient crutches (e.g. "natural law") and absurd encyclicals that look backward instead of forward ....and making the planet better.

In my own book, ‘The Atheist’s Handbook to Modern Materialism’, I included a Chapter (Six: Materialism and Morality) which subsumes sexual ethics. Some of the objections to orthodox Catholic sexual morality I give below, many of which dovetail with Sr. Farley’s reasons for advancing a rational alternative:
- Reducing valid intercourse to the pure animal level by demanding “openness” to conception, while disallowing the variants of human sexplay

- Using invalid ‘natural law’ arguments to reject contraception, masturbation, etc.

- Hyper-emphasis on sexuality and sexual “transgressions” arriving at unbalanced ethical sanctions (e.g. prescribing ‘Hell’ as a punishment for masturbation or artificial contraception and also for a mass murderer that slaughters 44 people with an AK-47). As I noted, this leads to an "upside down" ethics where really evil acts are conflated with insignificant natural ones.

- Violating the ‘genetic fallacy’ to argue against abortion and also being hypocritical (since the Church supported abortion in the first trimester until the infallibility doctrine was introduced in 1859)

- Arguing- a la Aquinas- for a ‘moral perfection of the generative organs” which doesn’t exist in reality. (E.g. By what objective criteria is a moral ‘defect’ measurable? How may we discern it from other defects?)

- Allegiance to Aristotelian modes of thought which fix behaviors within defined limits and hence limit ethical response, intuition, action. (E.g. the Church long held slavery was acceptable under natural law since some men "naturally" needed masters to guide them)

The totality of these disclose that the warp and woof of Catholic sexual ethics is predicated on unrealistic phantasms or hopelessly surreal ideations that have more place in an insane asylum than a supposed institution embodying spiritual righteousness. But this isn’t surprising, because given this sort of inchoate sexual ethics, one can then perceive how and why priestly pederasty and its protection would arise.

Thus, padres, as putative incorporations of the Church’s ‘sublime’ order, are not subject to natural law limits.  (As one priest once told my younger brother after serving a Mass and trying to make a move on him in the sacristy. “Natural law is for you, not for me!” )  In another case in Barbados in 1974, I learned of a priest based at the local Cathedral (St. Patrick’s) who tried to entice an affair with a young 17 year old girl to whom he was giving “lessons” by assuring her that he was the vested vehicle to the Almighty! “I am your channel to God” he once told her. Fortunately by this time she’d become suspicious and left.  Unfortunately the conflict subsequently aroused within her caused her mounting psychological distress culminating with being committed to "Jenkins" - Barbados' Psychiatric Hospital.

Will these cloaked reprobates ever learn? Not bloody likely so long as they can expect so much protection from higher ups and often the same jackals that call down perdition on innocent youths merely becoming acquainted with their own bodies in their own ways. (Which Sr. Farley courageously defends, just as former Surgeon General Joceyln Elders did before being unceremoniously- and cowardly -  ousted by the Clinton admin.)

Thus, the misshapen and imbalanced  doctrines of the church as to sexuality, is what confers the doctrines' very malignancy and the sense of exceptionalism for the hierarchy. They believe they’re entitled to do whatever they want, and to make allowances or worse, escape hatches, to avoid sanctions. And of course there's always "confession" to assuage all their sins or crimes if needed. Then….they have the temerity to pronounce judgment (in confession say) on a youth merely for relieving sexual tensions via self-stimulation!

Sister Margaret Farley's rational proposal of sexual ethics therefore merits serious consideration and kudos for doing her part to sanitize this cancer on the face of the Earth, this spiritual scourge. Yes, there are components of the broader church that are decent, mainly those devoted to charitable work, but let us not mistake them for the vipers that inhabit the Vatican…..or the Vatican Bank….still accumulating wealth over the centuries while so many starve, even in Italy.

Sister Farley, we look forward to your next book (hopefully!) ripping the Vatican Vipers and their apologists to shreds!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Healthy Fruits & Vegetables"? - With Qualifications!

In an earlier blog I highlighted for readers the nature of the Cancer-Industrial Complex in this country and how it operates to place blame for cancers on individuals as opposed to the corporate complex responsible for generating several billion tons of toxic effluent each year. See, e.g.

In addition, I pointed out that many of the biggest cancer (chemo, etc.) drug producers are also among the largest volume chemical dumpers. What's not to love? They get to generate the cancer- causing agents, then get paid for treating them via the "chemo" and other drugs produced! One of the biggest cancer drug producers - Astra Zeneca- also produces acetochlor, one of the most toxic herbicides around. (See also my earlier blog:

Now, we are all informed all the time that we best chuck all those burgers, fries, tacos and Doritos for "healthy fare" - for example getting school lunches to replace their Sloppy Joes and fries with applies, straw berries and celery and the like. These items are supposed to make for less obese, healthier youngsters. But is it so simple?  The recent revelations that a host of fruits and veggies are actually laden with toxic chemicals bids us to reconsider. Not necessarily the consumption of these healthy items, but the particular sources or venues by which they are acquired.

Tests recently done by the Environmental Working Group of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture have actually ranked 53 fruits and vegetables by amount and frequency of pesticide-herbicide contamination. Those who want to avoid cancer - whether of the liver, pancreas, kidneys, colon, breast or prostate - therefore need to pay attention.


Apples : Of every 10 apples sampled by the working group, nine were found to have traces of the fungicide thiabendazole, a known carcinogen. Eight others disclosed the presence of diphenylamine, linked to bladder tumors. The working group also found 40 other carcinogens most from pesticides applied to apples bought at most groceries.  In addition, the working group found: hormone disruptors, neurotoxins and developmental toxins (for more details on their nature, check the previous blog link)

Celery:  An average of 64 pesticides were counted on each celery stalk. The carcinogens included: chlorantranilprole - used to kill moths and caterpillars by causing muscles to contract. Also, Spinosad, a deadly pesticide is used on every celery stalk. 50 % of the samples also were found to contain methoxyfenozide.

Strawberries: One of every two was found to contain the fungicide captan, a probable pancreatic carcinogen. Also, often cited is the fungicide pyraclostrobin.

Peaches: Carry an average of 62 pesticides, including fludioxonil which targets liver and kidneys for cancers. 30% of peach samples tested were also found to contain iprodione (a bowel and liver cancer carcinogen) and phosmet which targets the nervous and reproductive system of humans (as well as insects).

Grapes: Up to 34 pesticides were detected on (Chilean) grapes. Of every 10 tested, 3 were found to harbor the fungicide cyprodinil - while 1 in 5 tested bore the neurotoxin imidacloprid.

Blueberries: Have long been touted as a great source of anti-oxidants and for heart health. But the working group assay found that 3 in 10 contain the fungicides boscalid and pyraclostrobin, as well as 52 other pesticides.

What is a person to do, who wants more than burgers, steaks, mashed potatoes and fries?

If you can afford it, the best option is to purchase all the above organically grown.  This ensures you're not ingesting massive amounts of carcinogens (especially if you eat lots of fruit each day like my sister-in-law Krimhilde) and hence putting yourself at risk for a future bout with chemo, surgery and the well as constant tests to see if your cancer's in remission or not!

The other alternative is to be pro-active, for example, assiduously washing all conventionally grown fruits (e.g. grapes, apples, blueberries) with a solution of 1 part mild liquid dish detergent to 20 parts water - then drying them off with a paper towel. The presence of the detergent breaks up the chemicals and allows them to be more easily removed. In the case of peaches, of course, one can cut off the skin with a knife, but I still tend to wash the outside skin before doing so.

Another option is to select fruits, veggies that are conventionally grown but contain far less pesticides- herbicides. This lot includes:

- Sweet corn

- Avocados

- Asparagus

- Cabbage

- Mangoes

- Eggplant

- Watermelon

The main thing here is to be aware, and not allow yourself to be cancer-toxified unncessarily.

Healthy eating!

More Evidence We're Past Peak Oil: The Desperation of Energy Pursuit

Most astute energy observers, see e.g.  and Matt Savinar in his 'Life After the Oil Crash'

have indicated Peak Oil occurred in 2005, or seven years ago. This despite a certain hardcore enclave of disputers who assert there is no such thing, nor ever will be. We "have more than enough energy sources" - thank you very much, "and we only need to have the will to develop them".  Well what would you expect these elitist interests, many in the corporate media, to say?

Let's be clear that a large component of what I call "implicit governance" occurs via the shaping of public opinion and mass mind manipulation via PR. The classic examples of this were described at length in the book, 'Toxic Sludge is Good For You'. wherein the PR (public relations) industry actually attempted to promote a nasty, crap-laden toxic sludge as being beneficial for agriculture.  The reason? To provide an additional profit outlet for chemical manufacturers, so they didn't have to worry about locating a place to dump their pesticide-laden toxic sludge - they could get stupid farmers or government to subsidize its use for crops!

This is how PR works: either (a) getting people to ignore a significant threat to their economic or political well being , or (b) getting them to believe a publicized threat (say by environmentalists) is merely a bunch of "Cassandras" subjecting citizens to idle "doomsaying".  In either case, the dual modus operandi fulfills the basic reason for PR as first enunciated by Edward Bernays, its founder:

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country."

And here we see for the first time the term 'invisible government'. This is key because it is the invisibility that confers power! Don't let citizens see what's really going on behind the curtain! Deny any evidence for Peak Oil, shut up or dismiss all claims for such. Deny that environmental toxins are the true cause of mounting cancers in our midst, and keep pumping dietary choice as the primo source - to put the blame on individuals instead of chemical corporations.Deny that there are any political ramifications from the (1963) Kennedy assassination. Keep citizens in the dark on how the most liberal administration in a half century was overthrown from within, and blame it all on a lone nut. Reinforce this myth by concealing all the most relevant files until most people living at the time are dead or dying so no one else is interested. THEN release them!
Deny over and over that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) used to engineer GMO-foods have any ill effects on human health. Further, deprive people -citizens of the choice to purchase them or not by refusing to label GMO foods. No wonder then that the market for these aberrations is 70% of all consumer food purchases in the U.S. vs. only 10% in Europe (where strict GMO labelling applies).
Lastly, keep quiet that the worst effects of climate change are barely a decade away. Keep muddling press-media pieces going that "there is still time" so as not to alarm the ordinary citizen. Tell those in Duluth who've just seen their town flooded out that it's merely a "meteorological cycle" - nothing more. Keep on moving, nothing to see here - at least nothing out of the normal. The coming 100 -day heat wave that will likely knock down all our power grids....let's not go there.
Meanwhile, the elites themselves are high -tailing it to their own personal redoubts to fortify them and protect themselves when all hell breaks loose. Fuck the ordinary people! Keep them in the dark, so we can establish our special preserves without them knowing or interfering. The longer they're kept guessing the better for us!
And so it goes.
But I want to confine attention in this blog to the energy issue, that of Peak Oil certainly having passed in 2005, and the further evidence being what I call energy pursuit desperation. Evidence? Since 2005, 680,000 waste and injection wells have been drilled, of which nearly 150,000 have injected millions of liters of toxic industrial fluids below the surface to "frack" natural gas. None of this polluted water can then be incorporated back into the hydrological cycle because of the 190 -odd contaminants (most carcinogenic) that the fracked water contains.
In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” according to Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington. “A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.”
Another aspect to what I call "energy desperation", in the sense of being willing (now) to put aside concerns for life quality to obtain energy: The 2005 Federal Energy Appropriations Bill which exempts the gas industry from compliance with:
- The Clean Water Act
- The Safe Drinking Water Act
- The Clean Air Act
- The Superfund (CERCLA) Act
The last implying they can dump as much toxic crap as they want and there'll be no "toxic release inventory'" to assay it, and hence, no need to ever clean it up. If this isn't desperation, what is? The willingness to put our future health as a nation in dire risk to satisfy immediate energy demands - mainly to dredge whatever low EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) sources from the ground since the high EROEI oil has peaked.
More signs of desperation in the western states, such as Colorado: According to a Denver Post report on the results of an analysis by the Western Resource Associates (WRA), "Colorado's oil and gas drilling consumes enough water to sustain 79,000 households for a year- enough for a medium sized city."
This despite the fact the state has been in the throes of drought for years (though the severity has waxed and waned) and now is as bad as it was in 2002, with wildfires occupying more land than the whole Florida panhandle. But how is our water being used? On oil drilling and fracking!
According to WRA, between 22,100 and 39,500 acre-feet are pumped into the ground each year for drilling wells and hydraulic fracturing to coax out oil and gas. Tens of thousands of wells now dot the Colorado countryside. Meanwhile, farmers in the state barely have sufficient water to bring one crop to market far less all of them.. (As much as 5 million gallons of water can be injected into a single fracking well, of which 200,000 is laden with carcinogenic toxins such as benzene, so the water can't be re-used.)
Pair this with the earlier use of corn (a food crop) for ethanol, and you have the makings of an energy desperation syndrome of epic proportions. But hardly anyone really learns of the extent of it or the harm done. All of which tells me the energy forecasters were correct, and Peak Oil has already occurred, likely in 2005  - the same year the natural gas industry was freed from compliance with basic environmental regs.
But even before these desperate energy pursuit manifestations, those in the know or who followed the critical press issues, weren't fooled. For instance, as early as 2009, T. Boone Pickens, quoted in The Financial Times May 21, (‘Oil Futures Near $140 Amid fears of Shortage’) page 1A, asserted we’re "now at the point where demand for oil is 87 billion barrels a day, while only 85 billion can be produced". This is acknowledging Peak Oil by any other name. Meanwhile, in The Wall Street Journal of May 22, there appeared the article ‘Energy Watchdog Warns of Oil-Production Crunch’ (p. A1)

The piece noted that the world’s “premier energy monitor” was preparing a sharp downward revision of its oil supply forecasts. The full formal report was to be ready by November, but already word was afoot that it will point to global oil supplies plateauing even as demand continues.

The article also noted (p. A12):

A growing number of people in the industry are endorsing a version of the ‘peak oil’ theory: that oil production will plateau in coming years, as suppliers fail to replace depleted fields with enough fresh ones to boost overall output.”

The ironic tragedy in all this: Peak Oil actually likely transpired four years earlier, in 2005. “Peak Oil’  nevertheless, is a somewhat misleading a term, since it suggests a specific date of peak production.  In more practical terms, what it means is that if 2005 was the year of peak oil production then the worldwide oil production in 2025 will be the SAME as in 1985, demanding that Q(net) > 0. (Where Q(net) is the net energy or the rate of energy production minus the rate of energy consumed for its operation and the energy invested for future production and operation. If Q(net) = 0 we only have break even oil, or energy. This is about where we're at with the energy desperation measures of fracking, deep sea drilling.

The problem in a nutshell is not “running out of oil’ but running out of CHEAP oil.  As the years indexed past Peak Oil increase, it means therefore that oil as a commodity will become much much more expensive, irrespective of oil speculators' manipulations but definitely as cheap, high EROEI supplies dwindle and more energy intense user States (like China and India) develop.

Most of us still expect the first signs of admission and media recognition to hit when the price of gas in the U.S. hits $7 a gallon.

Meanwhile, the rest of us know it's already here!

Friday, June 22, 2012

BWAAHAHA! Über- Libertarian Plans to Pack Up Marbles and .....Go Sea-steading!

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.....

Each man's death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

- John Donne

Libertarians, or 'Libbies' as I call them, are a strange breed and when one assesses their doctrines and dogmas (many based on Ayn Rand's 'Virtue of Selfishness' and assorted fiction freak shows, e.g. "Atlas Shrugged") one can grasp why they've remained a minority party never ever seriously competing for votes in major elections.  What would you expect of an odd lot that professes to be ultimate individualists yet on further inspection can't really make a living without being part of the larger society they despise?

The classic twaddle at the core of this misgotten system of thought is perhaps best embodied in Charles Murray's essay ‘What it means to be a Libertarian’ (p. 6):

It is wrong for me to use force against you, because it violates your right to control of your person....I may have the purest motive in the world. I may even have the best idea in the world. But even these give me no right to make you do something just because I think it's a good idea. This truth translates into the first libertarian principle of governance: In a free society individuals may not initiate the use of force against any other individual or group

Of course, this is also undoubtedly where the pet Libertarian canard that “taxes equal theft’ comes from. But looking at it objectively this is illogical.  I mean “libertarian principle of governance”! This is an oxymoron! Governance presumes and demands the non-passive act of governing, which means someone is actively setting standards of expected action, and also providing the means to uphold them. Else, what’s the point? It’s all an exercise in mental masturbation. In other words, unless someone (coercively) possesses the means to enforce governance, it will be meaningless and chaos ensues. Every man makes his own laws and devil take the hindmost. Now, maybe there IS a docile libertarian principle of “governing suggestion”- but this in no way is the same as “governance”.

Anti-statism is a central tenet of libertarianism, but it rests on no foundations, other than the so-called libertarian principles babbled by Murray and others. For example, Frank Chodorov, quoted by David Boaz of CATO Inst. in ‘Libertarianism: A Primer’, goes so far as to write:

"Society is a collective concept and nothing else; it is a convenience for designating a number of people... The concept of Society as a metaphysical concept falls flat when we observe that Society disappears when the component parts disperse

Well, if Society "fails" as a metaphysical (or even, evidently a practical ) concept, no wonder the Über- Libertarians have a Jones to escape it. Case in point, one Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, which purpose (as Thiel explains it, SPLC Intelligent Report, Summer 2012, p. 49) was:

"to create a new world currency, free from all government control and dilution..the end of monetary sovereignty as it were."

Hmmmm.....but looks like the monetary "sovereignty" is still standing, and Paypal kind of remains in the background. So much for that. But Thiel's real hobby horse and issue is the apparent spread of too many social lowlifes dependent on government largesse like food stamps, welfare, or even Social Security. According to Thiel, in a 2009 manifesto published by the Cato Institute:

"I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficaries and the extension of the franchise to women - two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians - have rendered the notion of 'capitalist democracy into an oxymoron."

Okay, so like most libbies, Thiel has major problems with welfare beneficiaries because evidently they're never satisfied and always want more each political cycle. (Never mind, most have been put on 'welfare to work' programs since Neolib Bill Clinton signed the 'Welfare to Work' legislation in 1996, requiring welfare recipients to work for their rates of around $3.15 /hr.  Evidently then, neither Thiel or Clinton got the message that was so well articulated by author Charles Reich ('Opposing the System', 1995, p. 125):

"The claim that government is free to reduce or cut off welfare and other forms of support for people in economic need is totally mistaken. Welfare is not a gift, nor is it, despite frequent assertions, a transfer from those who earn a living to those who are not.  Welfare is rather an obligation from society – and from those who are working- to those who have been deprived of work and the opportunity to earn a living. If we want to speak of transfers, it would be more accurate to say that those with a secure place in the economic system are enjoying a transfer of wealth from those who have been excluded from the economic system. Welfare then is partial compensation for a deprivation of livelihood that allows others to work."

SO, take that Thiel! Now as to women, why does Thiel object so much to their "franchise"? Here's a clue: Ever ponder the origins of the term "Nanny State"?

Thiel then goes on to bemoan (ibid.) that the "smartest libertarians" have been so bummed out by the state of capitalism that "they escaped not only to alcohol but beyond it".  Don't think so! From where I sit and observe, most seem to have escaped to infiltrate the high IQ societies, including Mensa and Intertel. Every issue of their publications (e.g. Mensa Bulletin, Integra:Journal of Intertel) appears to be laden with libertarian piffle whether in letters, articles or editorial opinion. (Integra is especially noted for this, with current Intertel prez Kort Patterson incessantly offering his two-bit libbie  "freedom insights" at the outset of nearly every issue in 'Notes from the President').

So if Thiel is so bummed out by the lack of ideal (e.g. no state interference) capitalism, what does he propose to do about it? Why, set up an independent floating nation as a Sea-steader! Sea-steading (think of all those floating giant platforms in the flick, 'Waterworld') was originally the brainchild of Patri Friedman, a former Google software engineer and grandson of Randian acolyte Milton Friedman - also of the "Chicago School" of Neo-liberals.

As Patri acknowledges "all the land on Earth is already claimed making the oceans humanity's last frontier"

The prototype Sea-stead "nation" was probably 'the Principality of Outer Baldonia' set up off the coast of Nova Scotia some years ago as an independent "micro" nation. It is best known for issuing a 'declaration of independence' that included (ibid.): "the right to lie and be believed, the right of freedom from questioning, nagging, shaving, interruption, women, politics, war and tax". wonders how this micro-nation would continue to exist minus women! Oops! Never mind! It's been defunct for years! Wonder why?

Thiel, of course, has his main objective of escaping taxes. No longer does he wish to support grafters, beggars and lowlifes, or the gazillions of females who insist the weakest need basic security and protection in their "Nanny state". So no surprise Thiel is busy helping to fund his own micro-nation, sea steader kingdom...a floating Utopia to be named "Blueseed". It is to be anchored in international waters twelve miles off the coast of Silicon Valley.

According to the SPLC Intelligence Report (ibid.):

"Blueseed, which plans to launch by early 2014, intends to circumvent U.S. immigration law and be a haven for 'the boldest, brightest and most talented tech entrepeneurs in the world"

A bold and ballsy concept from Thiel to be sure. But one question: when a monster tsunami strikes - whether from a quake off the Alaskan coast or other - can we expect Thiel and his cossetted brainiac brigade to save themselves? Or.....are they going to call on the Society they know, there on the bail their butts out? Enquiring minds want to know!