Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

September 26, 2011

It’s a Circle of Cheap Plastic Crap

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — paragardener @ 4:58 pm

I came across some film documenting “planned obsolescence,” a scheme to keep us buying products by having them break quickly and be impossible to fix. Buying a new microwave every five years means employing the people who make microwaves, not to mention profits for the investors… and so the cheaper the plastic crap is, the more it grows the economy! Waste is wealth, as George Orwell might say.

For some reason, this documentary wasn’t easy to navigate on Youtube, so here are links to the four parts in order:
(It’s about an hour long, altogether)

1

2

3

4

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September 18, 2011

Alien Invaders

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — paragardener @ 6:40 pm

One random day, a swirly green wormhole opened in the vicinity of Earth’s moon. Hundreds of shining metal spacecraft popped out of the hole and took up wide orbits of Earth. They were of all sizes, from tiny robotic drones to Manhattan on rockets. The military and astronomy communities went on high alert and followed the action with their instruments and global networks, but many ordinary people were startled at the appearance of new constellations in the sky — and especially that weird green star up there.

After we watched each other for a few days, the aliens gave a T.V. and radio address to the people of Earth. A mass of green tentacles with one big eye in the middle looked straight into the camera. It spoke, and the tentacles wriggled. “Hail, Earthlings. We are a diverse group of civilized entities, traveling the stars and representing the Galactic League. We are a peaceful band, coming to you in peace with wishes of brotherhood. It is our intention to open trade with your planet, so that you can reap the massive social and technological benefits of membership in the League.”

Many said that the aliens had no good in mind for us, while others said that we would finally know world peace. The aliens’ plan came down to this: they wanted the genomes of all of Earth’s creatures, from viruses and goo to plants and animals. They would sell us superior alien genome sequencers for Galactic Credits. We could get Galactic Credits by borrowing them, or by selling genomes. So anyone could take out a loan, buy a sequencer, take some samples, and turn a tidy profit in credits by selling genomic data back to the guys in orbit.

People rushed onto alientrade.com to get started: once you had some Galactic Credits, everything would be gravy and flying cars. The alien technology fulfilled a science fiction wishlist: antigravity, free energy, teleportation and tourism on far-off worlds. A few people worried about the amount we were borrowing from the League. They said that our growing debt to the League was dangerous, that we would inevitably pay for it later. Most people were reassured that as Earth’s debt in credits grew, the number of credits circulating on Earth was growing as well.

Then, one seemingly random day, the ships in the sky began winking out. On the same day, the alien gene buyers started writing rejection letters. Billions of people found that they, or their corporations, were sitting on genomes they couldn’t sell. The tentacle-eye came out on television a week later, to explain: “People of Earth, we have enjoyed this time of trade and mutual enrichment. Unfortunately, we now possess genome maps to almost all of Earth’s creatures. We hope that you can now turn your economy to something more marketable, such as flying car production. Thank you, and goodnight.”

No one had much to sell for Galactic Credits, once Earth’s genetics had been completely shared. A lot of people and a lot of companies owed credits to the aliens, though. Shadowy, spidery repo men landed in flying saucers and space planes and handed out letters in the middle of the night. You could avoid repossession, if you submitted to the League’s Responsibility Policy.

People still got up and went to work. Nowadays, though, the boss was following orders from the Galactic League — those damned Responsibility Policies. Everyone worked harder to get less. The oceans and lands were ruined by giant metal tubeworms we installed in the crust of the Earth, to extract rare elements to trade for a few more credits (allowing, let’s say, General Electric or Cuba to make interest payments for a few more months). The sky assumed a permanent overcast.

 

Will the people of Earth default and demand debt forgiveness? Or will the Earth be broken down into its component elements?

Our history of dealing with globalist banks and other corporations suggests that we won’t wake up until we’re as depleted as Somalia, and we have to seize some spaceships and go pirate on the wormhole traffic just to feed ourselves. (That would make a bad-ass movie.)

Good luck, Earth!

September 16, 2011

Happy 86th, B.B.!

Filed under: music — Tags: , , — paragardener @ 5:44 pm

B.B. King, Ambassador of the Blues, turns 86 today. After completing his Farewell Tour in 2006, he’s just continued touring and is touring the United States currently — you can check it out on his official website. He gave a guest performance on an album just released in August. How many blues stars from “the glory days” are still alive at all?

My favorite B.B. song is “Everyday I Have the Blues,” because I do. Most of the versions on Youtube are too fast or have too much cheesy pop orchestration, so I had to settle for this one with no video:

I think that BB survived so many of his cohort because he takes it easy much of the time. He plays relaxed, sings relaxed, he seems to stay out of thickets like hard drinking and violence, and he’s nice to people. Happy birthday, BB!

September 11, 2011

Resist with Silence

Filed under: Soapbox — Tags: , , , , , — paragardener @ 5:56 pm

If you are arrested, you know that you have the right to silence, and for gods’ sake use it — keep your mouth shut! Anything you do or say can and will be twisted and used against you. Anyone who likes the Bill of Rights needs to know how to actually use their rights, since police generally try to get suspects to waive all of their pesky rights. It creates an atmosphere where our rights really don’t matter, and those who want to keep their rights are seen as criminals hiding something. Let’s all train to use our rights and perhaps we can become a free people. Check out Flex Your Rights for starters.

If a possible debt collector calls, don’t admit that it’s you on the phone! Debt collectors don’t serve much of a purpose, since they don’t really send paid-off debt money back to the creditors. When you pay them, as is sometimes necessary, you are only encouraging their harassing and parasitic ways. So, give them no information about yourself. Ask them who is calling, on behalf of what debt collector, what is their address, and how much do they claim you owe to whom? Ask them to send you a written letter, and assume that a legit debt collector already has your address. “Thank you kindly, ma’am, –click-.” Then learn what to do next from more authoritative sources.

So resist debt collectors and cops with silence. The most fun in resistance, though, comes from outrageous lying. When you answer a marketing poll, you are spilling insights about your psychology to people who only want to exploit your weaknesses to sell you things that won’t really improve your way of living. So lie about who you are (I’m usually an aeronautics executive making over $500,000 a year), and what you think of their product (I would use Fabreeze on my pet monkey).

Once upon a time, I went with my high school buddies to focus-group a new pilot show coming out… the show was clearly a relic of the early 1980’s, but there were some exciting ads for sandwich-sized cheese slices and, yes, Fabreeze, which no one had yet seen! We chuckled throughout, trying not to offend the very old people in the audience who were actually moved by Michael Landon’s old failure of a half-hour drama. We all wrote down sarcastic answers to the poll questions, yet, a month later, we all got calls back regarding our opinions of those ads! This suggests that the marketing pollsters have no way of sorting out the outrageous responses. Lie to marketers, spread the idea of lying to marketers, and we should get to see some pretty interesting ads in the future!

The predators in society use your information to better exploit you, so resist them with silence and misdirection.

September 8, 2011

Flower-child Obama Overturns Civilization

I usually think of Obama as a middle-of-the-road, posable figurine of a President. Although he won a Nobel Peace Prize for being polite at least, he continues W Bush’s paranoid policies of kidnapping, torture, war and assassination. Lately he wants to talk about cutting social spending, Republican style. Washington Times columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner opened my eyes, though, to Obama’s secret plan to sweep away Judeo-Christian civilization and replace it with some kind of hypersexual utopia. Seriously! It all starts with birth control:

The administration is now contemplating forcing health insurance companies to provide free birth control – including the “morning-after” pill – as part of Obamacare. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seriously considering adding contraception to the list of services that must be fully covered by insurers without charging co-payments. HHS is expected to make its final decision before Aug. 1. In other words, Mr. Obama’s government-run health care system may easily include another monstrosity: mandating that taxpayers subsidize the “morning-after” pill.

Birth control for all? Morning-after pills available even when cash isn’t? Okay, so far, so good. (Btw, HHS indeed decided for free contraception. And as you can plainly see, my news-reading is way out of date.) Next, Kuhner explains how free birth control inevitably leads to hippie paradise:

Free birth control has nothing to do with “protecting women’s health.” Rather, it is about consolidating the sexual revolution. The post-1960s left has been at war with Christianity. Its aim is to erect a utopian socialist state – one built upon the rubble of Judeo-Christian civilization. In short, liberals want to create a world without God and sexual permissiveness is their battering ram. Promoting widespread contraception is essential to forging a pagan society based on consequence-free sex.

Far out, man! Who knew that Obama was trying to forge a Pagan-Socialist utopia? Ending Judeo-Christian civilization is quite the project, and who knew that it would be so easy? Free birth control –> lots of sex = utopia! In this brave new Pagan-Socialist world, not beholden to the patriarchal God, women would never be reduced to the role of baby-incubator-on-legs, so there might actually be some fringe benefits to women’s health. Free birth control is really the tipping point, though, that will wipe out 4,000 years of cultural baggage and allow a pure New Age to dawn:

The modern left understands one fundamental reality: Destroying Christianity destroys the culture and civilization it spawned. They are inextricably linked. This is why socialists, such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Saul Alinsky and George Soros, have championed militant anti-Christianity, free love, contraception and abortion. Smash the family and traditional morality and the economic system they gave birth to – capitalism – will come crashing down. This is the Marxist project: Sweep the Christian West into the dustbin of history.

So there you have it: from free family planning to ending the repressive moral codes of the Christian Right, to curbing to the swelling of humankind’s population, to ending the capitalist system of exploitation, and finally realizing Karl Marx’s dream of Pagan love-ins! Or something like that. Go Obama!

September 6, 2011

Child of Decline

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paragardener @ 2:12 am

I was born near Detroit in 1979, the year U.S. manufacturing peaked. The Motor City and Flint in particular declined before my eyes, as the Big Three car companies were hurt by foreign competition and simultaneously outsourced their manufacturing to countries with crappy union rights. 1979 was also nine years after the first Earth Day, and seven years after “Limits to Growth” was published, warning that the physical resources allowing for economic growth were limited. So I have always lived with the story that human activity is threatening the planet’s systems, from the ozone layer to the local food web.

The old Packard Plant, shattered and graffitied.

Packard Plant by Яick Harris, share and share alike, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickharris/

I’d like to rewind history to 1980 and change the things that went on in my lifetime. We needed to invest in studying and protecting the ecology. We needed to find some means of manufacturing and transportation that created less smoke and garbage. We especially needed new sources of energy. I have the feeling that, had we seriously invested then, by now we’d all have cheap solar panels powering our houses, and maybe charging the car up, to boot.

Instead, we acted like a smoker whose doctor tells them that cigarettes are bad for you. Hmm, quitting is hard. Maybe I could switch to ultra-lights?  Wrapping every object sold at the store in a plastic casket is an abuse of abundance — but it’s slightly difficult to imagine sales working in any other way. So we pushed recycling, which still comes at a whopping energy cost, and doesn’t really fix the problems, but which allowed everybody to keep on with minimal disruption to their lifestyle. We don’t like to hear that adjustments might have to be made — as when Jimmy Carter asked the nation to please turn the thermostat down, and the American people answered by making a one-term President of him.

Also during my lifetime, America exported almost all of its capacity to manufacture goods. Some of our rivers are now cleaner thanks to the shutdown of all the factories on them. It’s hard to find clothes, umbrellas, purses, shoes and so on that are made in this land (I miss you, patriotic Converse All-Stars!). Even our brain capacity is in doubt, with Americans falling behind in math and science. How much easier is it to just hire an Indian or Chinese engineer and work with them online?

Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station standing there like a mighty, but dead, tree. By motionblur, share and share alike! http://www.flickr.com/photos/motionblur/

With no manufacturing, mediocre brainpower, a bunch of fakes running government, and depleted natural resources, how are we going to build a bigger and better future? Oil production, the lynchpin of our economy, has peaked. GDP peaked at about the same time, in late 2007. There is no “building our way out” of our economic troubles, because we have nothing to build with. It’s kind of irrelevant to discuss a liberal or conservative economic policy for the future, because politicians of all stripes have to smile and promise the impossible re-start of growth — working from the real situation is political suicide. We should’ve taken the physical reality of life and economics on this planet more seriously, while we had the chance. Now we’re fucked, as people have been warning about for my entire life. We’re too far down this path to ever get to the future where we all have a green home, an electric car and windmill-driven electricity. To put it in economic terms, there is not enough capital out there to transition to new, sustainable technologies before a rising cost of energy and resources causes an economic collapse and we auction the country off in an attempt to keep going and paying our debts. I might be beating a dead horse with my projections of doom, but I guess I just feel like I have to speak up when many folks always hear that growth and prosperity are just around the corner. The talking heads told the Soviets the same thing in their day, no? Be prepared for things to not get any better. Check out how people have survived, sometimes thrived, in the former Soviet Union, or Detroit, or Flint, or Gary, Indiana.

The Rust Belt I live in is named for decline, and decline makes me feel at home: I think a building is never more beautiful than when it is well into its death, waiting to be torn down. Paint peels off the walls and is replaced by tag art. Plaster crumbles and reveals, by pieces, the grace of a building’s long-hidden skeleton. I like to watch the succession of plants that colonizes an abandoned area. I like living in rotten old Detroit, with neighbors who’ve often given up on having a middle-class career and instead work in the neighborhood to get by with one hustle and another. There is a mile-long stretch of 8 Mile Road that is all pawn shops, used cars, junkyards, restored furniture shops and so on. And I like an object with history, you know?

No one can predict the future with certainty. Maybe cold fusion will come into commercial production sometime in the next couple of years and save us all. Maybe aliens will invade and enslave us all. Until then, look for used-good stores, scrappers and hustlers coming to a neighborhood near you! Detroit survives by recycling itself towards oblivion, without ever getting there: that’s a much more likely future for every American town, than abundant green jobs and a hydrogen-filling station by every freeway exit. The big call for optimism is that you can live in a place like Detroit and still have a decent life. Children of decline, for better or for worse, the future is ours!

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