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Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Best Buy That Never Was -- Up now at the deadmalls blog.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

What I Really Need is One More Blog -- I don't know how regularly I'll be contributing, but I've signed onboard The Deadmalls Blog. If you're at all interested in the slow death of American culture, pop on over and have a look.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Kunstler on The Year Ahead -- Here's James Howard Kunstler's predictions for 2009. 2008 was an awful, awful year from the micro to the macro. And it hasn't even started yet.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Bitter End or New Beginning? -- Well, this is it. In a few hours, the citizens of Los Estados Unidos will begin casting their votes, then rigged voting machines will alter the tallies, and then there may be some doubt or even litigation, and within just a few short weeks we may never know who was actually elected president, but we'll know who will occupy the White House beginning on 20 January 2009.

If I sound fed up and cynical, well, I am. Most people with functioning brains and ethical systems are fed up at this point -- a point I reached sometime back in December of 2000, as I never seem to tire of ranting at anyone who will listen. I remember talking to a leftie friend of mine prior to the 2004 election and him, hopeful of a Kerry win (as we now know even Kerry was not), asking me what it would take to turn things around in our country. "Blood in the streets," I said, and sighed, knowing Americans were just too fat and happy to ever get worked up enough to actually resist the ongoing, lawless coup that began in December of 2000 and has resulted in the virtual destruction of our nation's reputation, decency and economy.

Bush and his gang of well-heeled thugs have quite literally brought the United States to the brink of its own end, and tomorrow night we'll see if enough people have seen through their apocalyptic scam or not, and if enough people get out and try to turn things around in numbers so huge that even the widespread attempts at voter suppression will be helpless in the face of the desire for change and a return to the rule of law and respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I would love to never feel the need to write about politics or the economy or any of these subjects again. I really don't know if Barack Obama will have the resources and will to turn this country around and make it great again, but one thing is for certain: If John McCain manages to get into the White House, by means fair or foul (and really, I'm being generous allowing that he could win fair and square), then the endgame of our civilization has begun, and sooner or later there really will be blood in the streets. This is a nation that can stand no further tearing down, and that is what McCain and his imbecile running mate represent. The stain and disgrace of a McCain/Palin win will make our country even more of a disgrace in the eyes of a world that, back on September 12th, 2001, had all the respect and love for us that it ever would have. In the past few years Bush and company have not only squandered the goodwill we bought in blood the day the towers fell, but they have cynically and blatantly defiled the memory of those who died on September 11th, and wantonly and with great contempt for every concept of ethics or morals ever conceived, they have gone on to commit more war crimes and atrocities than almost any other regime in human history. It is staggering to comprehend the murder and chaos of the Bush administration, but even more staggering -- almost impossible to believe, really -- that the people of the United States largely stood by and let it happen.

In less than 48 hours, the United States can send a signal to the world that we have seen the error of our ways and want to once again stand on the world stage with dignity and honour, committed to the justice, freedom and equality we have allowed to be suppressed in our grief and disbelief since 11 September, 2001. If Obama wins, we have sent that signal. If McCain wins, we can still send that signal, but it will take much more work, much more outrage, and it will require every decent human being living in this country to take a stand and say NO MORE.

Have you had enough yet? If not, how much further does your nation need to fall? If so, get out tomorrow and start working to make up for all that we've sat back and allowed to happen. If Barack Obama doesn't take possession of the White House on January 20th, then there really is no hope left for peaceful change in the United States, and nothing left to talk about. We can take action by voting tomorrow, or we can condemn ourselves to a much more violent and lengthy period of change, one from which there never will really be a hope of recovery. I'm hoping we can do it in a day, and my wife and I will be up before dawn to do our part.

How about you?


Friday, October 10, 2008

Dow Jones Flirting with Sub-8000 Numbers -- I'd be surprised if they don't suspend trading before the end of the day. And keep it suspended until after the "world leaders" figure out how to keep this shell game going a little longer...


Monday, September 29, 2008

Ebert on the McCain/Obama Debate -- Roger rarely gets this political, but it's a great piece that thinks a lot more about last week's debate than I bothered to do.

I think McCain's contempt for Obama, and for every unrich and/or nonwhite person in the country is beyond obvious; it is, in fact, the key plank of his platform, and the platform of his party, The Party That Wrecked America. But as I have painfully learned over the last eight years, what is obvious to me is obviously great to millions of people who have supported Bush's violent, cynical destruction of a formerly great nation.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Songs for The End of the World -- Here are the lyrics to U2's The End of the World:
Haven't seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold just passing time
Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world
I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You...you were acting like it was
The end of the world

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You...you said you'd wait
'til the end of the world
And City of Dreams by the Talking Heads:
Here where you are standing
The dinosaurs did a dance
The Indians told a story
Now it has come to pass

The Indians had a legend
The Spaniards lived for gold
The white man came and killed them
But they haven't really gone

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on the highway of fire
Should we awake
And find it gone
Remember this, our favorite town

From Germany and Europe
And southern U.S.A.
They made this little town here
That we live in to this day

The children of the white man
Saw Indians on tv
And heard about the legend
How their city was a dream

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on the highway of fire
Should we awake
And find it gone
Remember this, our favorite town

The Civil War is over
And World War One and Two
If we can live together
The dream it might come true

Underneath the concrete
The dream is still alive
A hundred million lifetimes
A world that never dies

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on the highway of fire
Should we awake
And find it gone
Remember this, our favorite town
And Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street:
Looking down on empty streets, all she can see
Are the dreams all made solid
Are the dreams all made real

All of the buildings, all of those cars
Were once just a dream
In somebody's head

She pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam
She pictures a soul
With no leak at the seam

Let's take the boat out
Wait until darkness
Let's take the boat out
Wait until darkness comes

Nowhere in the corridors of pale green and gray
Nowhere in the suburbs
In the cold light of day

There in the midst of it so alive and alone
Words support like bone

Dreaming of Mercy Street
Wear your inside out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy's arms again
Dreaming of Mercy Street
swear they moved that sign
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy's arms

Pulling out the papers from the drawers that slide smooth
Tugging at the darkness, word upon word

Confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box
To the priest, he's the doctor
He can handle the shocks

Dreaming of the tenderness, the tremble in the hips
Of kissing Mary's lips

Dreaming of Mercy Street
Wear your insides out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy's arms again
Dreaming of Mercy Street
swear they moved that sign
Looking for mercy
In your daddy's arms

Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy
Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy

Anne, with her father is out in the boat
Riding the water
Riding the waves on the sea
These songs would be my soundtrack for the end of the world.


What Comes Next -- Watching the news this morning, I would expect unless some deus ex machina solution to the collapse of the financial system is announced, we'll start seeing runs on the (remaining) banks -- look for ATMs as empty as the gas pumps in the south -- quickly followed by martial law, and the endgame of the Bush nightmare, a suspension of the election (proposed before, in 2004) and an extension of his illegal Presidency, which literally has destroyed the country.

How extraordinary to see longtime Republican shill Ed Rollins totally throw Bush under the bus on CNN this morning, saying his administration is not a "lame duck," but a "dead duck." Will Bush stand by idly while his party blames him for the end of America? Or will he grab all the power he can like the madman he is, and always has been?

I can't tell you how much I wish I felt like writing about funnybooks right now.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ordinary Human Poverty -- Go read this.


Monday, September 22, 2008

America Nationalizes Its Banks and Runs Out of Gas -- Here's a good piece from Time Magazine on the nationalization of the U.S. financial system, and a CNN iReport video on how the country is beginning to run out of gas. And here's Jim Kunstler on the whole sorry catastrophe.

The government's shell game (which cup is our last ten cents under?) is the last gasp of our formerly wealthy nation. Remember The Clinton Era surpluses? I bet you'd allow him all the blowjobs in the world if we could have that cash back now.

My friend Brian asked me the other day what he should do with his 401k. I suggested buying a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and using whatever's left for toilet paper.

Unless McCain or Obama have space aliens hiding in the wings with a way out of this mess, it won't be long before that's all U.S. currency is good for.

The only thing that surprise me now is how quickly this is all happening. I knew Bush and his cronies in the Party That Wrecked America were robbing my children of any hope for the future, but I had at least hoped to not be around to see the abject misery that the entire nation is on the very edge of falling permanently into.

UPDATE: Here's a very good basic primer on what's been happening over the past few weeks. And The Fart Party talks to Douglas Rushkoff about the end of the world.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

This May Be It -- You really have to wonder, when The New York Times even gets it enough to print this quote:
"We’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally."
As Lindsey Buckingham once sang, it's not that funny, is it? The entire must-read article is here.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kunstler on Lehman and Merrill -- Great piece from James Howard Kunstler on yesterday's market-blasting financial news.

Related: Dmitri Orlov on Survival of the Nicest.

Will there be a Christmas, 2009?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Quote of the Day, End of the World Division -- From an unnamed Lehman Bros. executive, quoted at CNN:
"This looks like the end."
If you think he or she is only talking about Lehman Bros., you haven't been paying attention.

Barring an infusion of capital from some other dimension, the ongoing meltdown of the "financial sector" (also known as "the thing that makes it possible for you to feed your family") is one of the most compellingly bleak stories I have ever seen the world turn a blind eye to.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The View from Seven Years -- Today marks the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. I remember vividly, as I am sure you do, where I was and what I was doing seven years ago today. And six years ago today, in 2002, when I wrote the first version of this essay.

At that time I said "my righteous rage at the opportunists that have used September 11th to further their own hidden agenda will do no good. You either realize how vile the people running this country are, or you do not. It's not as if any real effort to disguise their base thuggery is even being attempted. As long as you wrap yourself in the flag, and nude statues in blankets, it seems anything goes, and most of it is being done quite obviously, with a snide contempt for a depressingly compliant populace."

Not much has changed. George W. Bush and his illegal government -- illegally placed into office in late 2000 and raping democracy ever since -- have continued their monstrous misdeeds, unindicted and unpunished. Maybe that will change. I certainly hope so, at this late date. The clock is ticking on the chance to officially censure Bush and Cheney with impeachment; we could do it for Clinton's uncontrolled libido, but not Bush and Cheney's uncontrolled war of lies? A million lives or more have been lost since the illegal and unnecessary Iraq war was launched. Lost not only to combat, but to the poverty and disease and other "unexpected consequences" of the illegal invasion of Iraq. Not that Saddam Hussein was a bad man; he was. But the murder of one monster by another is hardly cause for celebration, particularly when my nation's fate remains in the sweaty, miserable hands of the surviving monster and the smirking, complicit corporate media that have made it all possible, and made a fortune doing so.

I love the U.S. and I realize that it used to be one of the best, most free nations on Earth. Used to be. Therefore I am deeply ashamed that its citizens have continued to tolerate a blatantly illegitimate, democracy-despising and greed-driven junta that has used the awful events of September 11th, 2001 as justification for suspending the civil rights of U.S. citizens, murdering foreigners and lining the pockets of their political and industrial allies. Int he past year it's also become apparent that Bush and his cronies in industry, finance and government have dismantled the economy of the nation and placed us all at the very brink of an economic disaster unlike any the world has ever seen. Untold poverty and misery are breathing down our necks now, with cute names like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The US will keep handing a free pass to these giant cash vampires until there's nothing at all left for the vast, devastated lower and middle class.

If I have one hope left, after over a half-decade of the televised rape of my nation, it is that I live long enough to see the thugs, monsters and bastards that have fucked up my country -- from Bush on down to his sniveling partners in the mass media -- that I live long enough to see them all indicated and brought to justice for their crimes against democracy, decency and humanity. If there's one thing that the 21st Century is crying out for, it is a mammoth market correction in the political arena that ends in Nuremberg-style trials televised across the globe and enforced by an international body empowered to enforce U.S. and international law on this most lawless of regimes. Sadly, here in the year 2008, there doesn't seem to be enough ethics or will left across the planet to ever make it happen in time.

I continue to hope that people will take the time to learn the truth of our world post-September 11th and recognize what Bush and his gang of thugs have been up to ever since. The people who are running the U.S. continue to use ignorance and fear to put forth their own obscene agenda, but as the rats desert the sinking ship and a precious few lawmakers investigate the possibilities of impeachment -- more and more, Dennis Kucinich seems like the Very Last American Hero -- and impeachment being the very minimum acceptable possible response to the past seven years --
I have a fading hope that things will turn around.

But as it stands, seven years on, the evil at home is still strong, and far more damaging than any foreign enemy. The Republican National Convention, a meeting of The Party That Wrecked America, was protected by government-funded, jackbooted stormtroopers that looked and acted as scary as anything in you'd find in fiction. The photos accompanying this article literally make me sick to my stomach. How is it that these officers can justify their actions? How can they go home at night and not throw up from disgust at their complicity and compliance? Is this all we've come to, after over two centuries of struggle for democracy?

I am not unpatriotic. On this of all days, when we remember the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11/01, and the many more hundreds of thousands who have died overseas with the 9/11 murders as obscene, deceitful justification, the best way we can celebrate their memory and respect their sacrifice is to remove the power from those who have committed far worse atrocities against humanity and against our democracy every single day since that awful Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001.

Seven years on, it still, unbelievably, appears that our national will is too weak to do what should and obviously must be done. If Bush and Cheney, and Rove and Rice, and all their allies and co-conspirators are allowed to finish out their illegitimate terms of office and retire to lives of wealth and leisure without punishment, without consequence, and without justice, that will be an obscenity and a crime many times worse than the obscenities and crimes we all watched seven years ago today.

Seven years on, I am angry at our national shame and disgrace at allowing the last seven years to happen without any real opposition or alternative. My nation, which once led the world and at least pretended to aspire to freedom and democracy, is more lost and far from its ideals than it has ever been in its entire history. Barack Obama and Joe Biden strike me as empty, vapid choices offered up in a cynical continuation of the same, gamed system we've been under for years. And yet, they are the only hope we seem to have at all. It's sickening how far we've fallen, how little most people seem to be aware of that fact, and how little time there now remains in which someone, somewhere might somehow begin to restore justice, freedom and democracy to a nation that seems interested in none of those things.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

End of the World Watch: Planning for the Future -- Here's an excellent primer at Casubon's Book on planning for life during The Long Emergency.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Kunstler Reviews The Dark Knight -- And does it really, really well.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Currently Reading -- Top Shelf sent along a preview copy of Veeps. It's not comics, but it's damned funny, and informative as well. I'm only up to the Civil War, and enjoying the hell out of it so far.

In the world of prose non-fiction, I'm about two-thirds of the way through Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World. His assessment of the next few decades seems unaware of Peak Oil and The Long Emergency, or maybe he just thinks iPhones and the Prius will allow the Easy Motoring Utopia to continue, just with the global focus moving to China and India. It's interesting for the many historical observations he makes, but I do doubt the continued growth he sees over a span of the next fifty years or so, unless space aliens show up with a solution for the confluence of problems that are clusterfucking all around us on a now-daily basis.

Did you see The Daily Show the other night, with the compare and contrast segment on simultaneous speeches by Bush and Bernanke? Scary, illuminating and funny as hell. Well, at least we get some yocks on the slow ride to hell...

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Where is the "Liberal Media" as Impeachment Moves Forward? -- Why is it that I can't find the story about a successful vote on impeachment yesterday anywhere at all on CNN's website? Sure, our war criminal faux-president isn't impeached yet, but he's closer to it today than he was 48 hours ago.

What do you think CNN was reporting at this stage of the move toward Bill Clinton's impeachment? I have a feeling they might have at least mentioned it.

There is a liberal media, but it has no voice on TV that I can find.

By the way, I fully endorse impeachment, and hopefully, eventually, war crimes trials at The Hague, or anywhere else they'd care to hold them.

Here is Yahoo News on yesterday's vote, as well as the Associated Press, and Wikipedia's history of the movement to remove Bush from office.


Monday, July 14, 2008

The Monday Briefing -- Well, contrary to the past couple of weeks, I didn't get much writing done over the weekend. In fact, here it is:

* I reviewed the first volume of Warren Ellis's Thunderbolts.

Other than that, I spent a good deal of time with my wife and kids; Saturday we dropped in to Earthworld in Albany, and I picked up some graphic novels, including the aforementioned Thunderbolts, Jack Kirby's OMAC hardcover and an independent comics anthology called Awesome, some profits from which go the benefit the Center for Cartoon Studies, which is a nice idea. The book had three or four entertaining stories but a lot of filler-type material that didn't really register. Roger Langridge has a solidly hilarious piece that seems out of place for its polish and professionalism, never mind its humour and ability to entertain. But, it's money spent and some of it goes to a good cause, so, enough about that.

I had one of the most unusual experiences of my life on Sunday; my wife asked me to go with her to a local gambling establishment because she wanted to pick up a gift card for her aunt, who likes the buffet at this place. We were hungry so we ended up eating there after my wife picked up the gift card, and I really felt immersed in the fin du monde atmosphere of this nightmarish monument to stupidity and greed.

The first thing I noticed was how the deafening cacophony from the thousands and thousands of slot machines almost immediately transports you into a dream-like state of non-reality, like listening to a concert or a marching band as you drown at the bottom of a swimming pool. I noticed the majority of the people playing the slots -- senior citizens literally throwing their futures away -- had proprietary credit cards connected to them by lanyards around their necks, each feeding into an individual slot machine. It was a disturbing visual to say the least.

I noticed that everyone seemed to be evaluating everyone else constantly, as if wondering if every person they saw was somehow stealing their good mojo, or perhaps telling themselves they are luckier and better than the bunch of losers staring for hours at the blinking lights and digital screens before them. And more than anything, once I figured out what it was, I noticed the smell of piss almost everywhere. Do people really pee their pants while playing the slots, afraid if they get up to use the bathroom someone will take their place and usurp the winnings that are obviously theirs and obviously just one more game-play away? Call me crazy, but once I pointed out the smell to my wife, she noticed it too.

I played a dollar at a nickel slot machine just to say I had the experience. It was gone pretty quick. My wife's dollar quickly turned into ten, and she was excited to have won so quickly. I pointed out that the only way to really win at that point was to take her ten bucks and leave, and we did. It was a good two hours before the smells, the sights and especially the dizzying, deliberate orchestra of disorientation finally wore off and I stopped feeling like I was going to throw up.

People seriously go to these places for fun?

I know I'm a downer with all my end of the world-watching and all, but a couple hours in a giant building filled with video gaming terminals and some of the most desperate, loathsome people I've ever seen, and it's hard not to feel that whatever is coming, we're asking for it, we deserve it, and it's long overdue.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Eagle and The Dragon -- If you're not interested in the ongoing discussion here about the breakdown of the American way of life, feel free to skip this post.

On the other hand, if you are interested in current events, Peak Oil and all the other crises facing the United States and the world now and for the next few decades, I have some fantastic reading for you.

On his blog, James Howard Kunstler recently pointed to a series of articles published by the UK Telegraph titled "America and China: The Eagle and The Dragon." Writer Mick Brown and photographer Alec Soth are documenting, in astonishing detail, where the relationship between the two world powers is, and how things are going in each nation. It's scary, but brilliantly written stuff. So far three parts have been posted in the series, with more to come in the weeks ahead. I'll try to update this post as the series progresses, but here's what's available so far:

America and China: The Eagle and The Dragon: Part One

America and China: The Eagle and The Dragon: Part Two

America and China: The Eagle and The Dragon: Part Three

America and China: The Eagle and The Dragon Part Four

There's about forty pages worth of very good reading so far, and I encourage you to check the series out if you have any interest at all in the state of our world, now and in the near future.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Government Hocus-Pocus Staves Off Personal Financial Apocalypse For the Moment -- Reuters has a good analysis piece up on why the economy is going to hell in a handbasket a little slower than expected. Don't worry, though, by the fall we're all pretty much fucked.

One wonders if this is precisely why the stimulus rebate program was conceived in the first place.


Friday, June 27, 2008

New Forum for Kunstler Readers and Listeners -- Check out the new Kunstlercast Forum, a message board to discuss the issues brought up by the writings of James Howard Kunstler. It's an outgrowth of the Kunstlercast, an excellent weekly podcast discussing the emerging Long Emergency hosted by Duncan Crary and featuring James Howard Kunstler.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reinventing Collapse by Dmitry OrlovReinventing Collapse -- My wife doesn't like to hear about the forthcoming end of the world, and I have a couple of otherwise intelligent friends at work who don't like to think about the fact that the American way of life is barreling over a cliff at 90 miles an hour, either. Most of the discussions I've had with them are based on my readings of James Howard Kunstler's work. Kunstler recommended Dmitry Orlov's Reinventing Collapse on his blog recently, and now having read it, I know I probably shouldn't discuss it with my wife or my friends at work, because Orlov's detailed comparisons of the collapse of the Soviet Union with the impending collapse of the United States (the SU and the US, as he symmetrically notes) are far, far scarier than the pictures Kunstler has painted to date.

Orlov was born in the Soviet Union and witnessed its dissolution first hand. He sees both the similarities and differences in the two cultures, and in the way the SU disintegrated and the US is disintegrating. Most impressively, he details how the citizens of the former Soviet Union coped with collapse, and how Americans are likely to respond to similar exigencies: "We should definitely not expect any grand rescue plans, innovative technology programs or miracles of social cohesion," he notes, bluntly.

Orlov speaks in very plain English, with sometimes biting humour, about how the soft, entitled people of the US are unlikely to be able to adjust to a quickly-changing lifestyle. Russians were used to the privations of the Soviet regime, he notes, but most Americans will not know what to do when consumer goods are no longer available, when gasoline is largely or entirely unavailable, or when justice is something that you and your family and community will have to decide for yourselves.

Orlov's book is not meant merely to frighten readers, capture media attention and drive up sales, however. It is essentially a guide that anyone can use to figure out the best way to survive the forthcoming changes the world is facing. Orlov's advice is customizable in the sense that he urges the reader to prioritize for themselves what they need to continue to live when society has broken down and irrevocably changed. It's not a workbook and there are no forms for you to fill out, but you'll be far better prepared for The Long Emergency once you've read Reinventing Collapse. As he points out, the only true necessities in life are air, water and food. Clothing, shelter, companionship, work and other non-necessities are likely to be difficult-to-impossible to come by in the areas hit worst by the collapse of the US society and infrastructure.

And if you're a victim of, as Kunstler calls it, "the psychology of previous investment" -- that is to say, you somehow still believe that gas prices will go back down, we'll always have centrally air-conditioned shopping malls, we're winning the war against Iraq (or at least, might not lose it) and a dollar will always be worth a dollar -- well, Orlov's prose is highly readable and wildly entertaining, so there's no reason not to give Reinventing Collapse a read. If you like to read before bedtime, though, do it now, while you still have lights by which to read.

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End of the Worldwatch: Iran -- Check out this startlingly to-the-point analysis of the likely result of the US waging war against Iran, at globalresearch.ca. A sample:
If the United States attacks Iran either this summer or this fall, the American people had better be prepared for a shock that may perhaps be even greater to the national psyche (and economy) than 9/11. First of all, there will be significant U.S. casualties in the initial invasion. American jets will be shot down and the American pilots who are not killed will be taken prisoner - including female pilots. Iranian Yakhonts 26, Sunburn 22 and Exocet missiles will seek out and strike U.S. naval battle groups bottled up in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf with very deadly results. American sailors will be killed and U.S. ships will be badly damaged and perhaps sunk. We may even witness the first attack on an American Aircraft carrier since World War II.
Ten years ago I believed the US had decades left; for the past few years I've thought it's less than a decade. Now I wonder if society as we know it will be here in a year.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Financial Advice to My Children -- My parents, who were of the World War II generation, were not wise with money. I inherited much of their lack of insight and foresight, but have tried as I grow older to be wiser about how I spend the money I earn. I hope that my children will be even smarter than me. Here's what I think they should do.

1. Don't accept any credit card offers, ever. As I write this in 2008 it seems unlikely that you'll ever receive one, because the credit industry has foolishly extended credit to people it knew it could never pay it back, to the extent that it threatens the economy of the entire United States, if not the world. But if that could change, and you receive offers in the mail of low interest rates or huge rewards for using this or that credit card -- be smart, and throw them away.

2. Save money from every dollar you earn, and live on the rest. If your paycheck is 300 dollars, save 30 for the future in a secure place (at the moment, in 2008, banks don't seem terribly secure to me, but do some research and use your best judgment). Live on the remaining 270 dollars, which means pay the bills you must pay (groceries, rent, phone and other utilities if they still exist), and try to save whatever else is left after that.

3. Spend as little on entertainment as you can. Get books, movies and CDs from the library and use the internet (if it still exists) for other entertainment, communication and research.

4. Don't eat out more than once a month. It will be tempting to save time by spending more money on restaurants and fast food, but that is money you will never see again and could use for far better things. As I write this, you could buy enough groceries to last you a week for the same price as a night out for two at even a decent, never mind fancy, restaurant. Save such expenses for truly special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Learn to cook, it's not as difficult as you might think, and there are few pleasures in life as rewarding as sharing a meal you created with your own hands with people you care about. Try to grow your own food if you can, and eat whole foods largely based on fruits and vegetables. It's cheaper and far better for you than the meat and fat-based "diet" that corporations convinced everyone were "tasty" and "convenient." They were neither.

5. Use mass transit, walk or bike everywhere. The world sent itself to hell largely because of the selfish overuse of the combustion engine. We'd have had oil enough to last for centuries longer if the automobile had been outlawed or better regulated, and the use of buses, trains and streetcars was mandated by law. I expect by the time you are adults driving a car for a trip to the grocery store or a day trip to a city 50 or 100 miles away will be a dimly-remembered dream, but if the average citizen still has access to gas-powered transport, save it for emergencies and learn to walk, bike or take the bus everywhere you go. If you must use a car, try never to use it for single tasks or by yourself -- carpool and do your errands in batches to save on fuel expenses. All this will save you money and help the planet recover from the damage mankind did to it in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

6. Do something you love. You might not get rich doing it, but in the long run, if you truly enjoy your job you will excel at it and hopefully will be rewarded for it. In my professional life I have been in radio since I was a teenager, and I've always enjoyed being on the radio, even if at times I haven't enjoyed being "in radio" per se. I haven't done it for over two decades because of the huge financial rewards (well, except for that brief stint in Public Radio), but because it's something I love and seem to be somewhat good at. And even my most time-consuming hobby, blogging and other writing, mostly about comics, has been done because it's something that I greatly enjoy and that is very important to me. I've been very lucky to pick up some extra cash doing that from time to time, and if you can manage to do that, earn money from doing something you love so much you would have done it without financial reward anyway, well, it's a lot like finding free money.

7. Do spend some money on yourself. Most of my disposable income -- money I can afford to spend any way I want -- has been spent over the years on comics and graphic novels. Now, a majority of that money was probably wasted, because I wasn't paying attention to what books I truly found rewarding versus what books I could just be distracted by for a few minutes. But you can't take it with you, as they say, and you will need to spend some money on something to make you happy from time to time in order not to go insane. Just try to be conscious of how you spend that money, and aim to spend it on things you'll enjoy time and again in the future. Whether it's a much-loved video game, or a book that you can lose yourself in again and again, the more times you can use and enjoy something you spend your money on, the better an investment it is. My generation and the one just before mine wasted huge amounts of money, time and energy on temporary, empty distractions, and again, this is largely how the world found itself in the dire straits it currently faces. Be good to yourself, but be aware of what things cost and whether they are truly worth it to you. Your values will ultimately have to be created and monitored by you, and if you're lucky, anyone you choose to share your life with. Know what is important to you, and never forget to live the way you feel is important, and right, and whenever you can, teach others to do the same.


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Friday, May 23, 2008

Quote of the Day -- Here's Peter Schiff, president of money manager Euro Pacific Capital, on what we have to look forward to in the weeks, months and years ahead.
"Our whole phony standard of living is imploding. We have borrowed and spent ourselves into oblivion."
You can read much more about the price at the pump is just the beginning of the pain in an article at Reuters.com called "Think Oil Prices Hurt Now? Just Wait."


Thursday, May 22, 2008

End of the World Watch, Meet Comics -- Here's Tom Spurgeon on how Peak Oil may affect comics in the next few years.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The New Way of the World -- Here's how you find yourself sliding into the Long Emergency, as seen at CNN: Homeless Mom Living in SUV.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dealing with Bush -- Finally, a reasonable plan to deal with America's ruthless, rogue "president."


A Look at Peak Oil Novels -- Here's a long look at the recent spate of Peak Oil-based novels, including James Howard Kunstler's World Made by Hand. After reading the main article, I was delighted that my most recent interview with Kunstler was referenced in the footnotes. I feel so academic!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kunstler on The Colbert Report -- I'm not one for embedded video files, but what the hell:



Monday, April 07, 2008

End of the World Watch -- Paul Krugman, writing for the New York Times, looks at why food prices are going through the roof. And they likely won't be coming back down.






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