Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Meet the New Boss

So, you thought you could do anything you wanted on the Internet and not be watched by the powers that be. Ha.

Here we are some time after the Snowden affair--does anyone thing of Snowden in Catch-22? Am I right about that? It was Snowden who dies in the plane, driving Yossarian crazy, right? Anyway, I digress. Well, it seems that the world's political leaders, i.e. the big ass countries, including the United States, are monitoring every bit of our use of the Internet from email to surfing, and even our snail mail. They listen in on phone calls. They record every juicy bit. They spy on their wives and girl friends, and they assure us that they are doing this to protect us from the big, bad terrorist lurking under your bed. QUICK, the phone call is coming from inside your house!!!

Ironically, it is coming from inside your house. The terrorists want to take away our freedoms according to this and that rabid teapartier or Goper. But we are so much smarter than they are. We are taking away our own freedoms before they do! Take that evildoer! Okay, it takes the intellectual wattage of a fridge light to figure out that there is some serious hypocrisy going on here. Too bad your average American has somewhere less than a tenth that wattage. So, we must ask the question, why are they doing this? Since we are more likely to be hit by lightning shooting from a shark's ass while it rides a unicycle across your lawn than die in a terrorist attack, why do we need all this "protection," this surveillance?

Here are a couple of theories. First, the more they know about you the consumer, the more they can sell you and service you! That's right, it's just basic capitalism working overtime to make sure that the flow of useless crap never stops coming your way. The best way to ensure everyone is on the same page is to make everyone part of the corporation, including the government. What do you think that all these tea party weasels are about? They just want gubbamint off their backs so they can do their god damned best to make a mint selling whatever no matter how much it hurts individuals or the environment. In Kansas, Wisconsin, and North Carolina--as well as other states, the drive is on to remove the voting lever from the hands of the people and put it where it belongs--the fascist state. That's why we need a surveillance state. We can't have terrorists insisting that they have rights! Holy crap.

Theory number two. The government knows that, with the advent of peak oil and the oncoming shitstorm of global warming, chaos is around the corner. The U.S. government is preparing for civil unrest. They have been since 2001. Homeland Security grants to up-armor civilian police departments have created tens of thousands of mini-gestapo units throughout the US. Each podunk Mayberry out there now has a swat team equipped with sniper rifles, military assault weapons, armored personnel carriers, bullet-proof vests, drones, electronic surveillance equipment, and a comprehensive computer network designed to coordinate and thwart any and all protest. The NSA spy network obviously looks in on Americans to prevent any home-grown attempt to throw the bastards out of office.

But there is one problem. When the temperature rises, and crops fail, when oil production begins to plummet, when fracking poisons most of the aquifers, when people are arrested at their state capitals for singing, we will see a deep anger sweep out from the heartland and they will demonize someone like immigrants or people of color or gays or democrats or you and they will come for you and they will torture you and they will put a rough rope around your neck and jerk you up into a tree where you will slowly strangle. Ha. You thought the people would rise up and knock out the fascist bastards!?! WRONG. People are stupid, easily misled herd animals who will gladly jump on the fascism train.

Here is the truly ironic part. When the chaos starts, the governments, local, state and federal, will become increasingly uncoordinated. They bought themselves a high-tech white elephant system of computers, gas and diesel hungry vehicles, and electronic communications dependent on a fragile energy dependent network. While they may have the advantage for a short while, soon the people will catch up. And more importantly, they will be just as susceptible to starvation, heat exhaustion, flooding, superstorms, new and unexpected diseases, and all the other effects of the four horsemen.

So, the bad news is we are just a whisker's breadth away from a nightmare fascist society. The good news is that when the shit hits the fan, it will fail as surely as the rest of the energy dependent society will fail. But that is also the bad news as well. For a good while, your local team of bubbas and thugs will rule, until we kill them off.

So, the die has been cast. The press, which should have been the watchdog during all this, ready to raise the alarm when democracy is threatened, has been captured by the corporations. Now they are the propaganda arm for the fascists. The few remaining journalists left are being hounded by fascist governments. Whistle blowing is now a crime. When a soldier blows the whistle on war crimes, clear and obvious war crimes, that soldier is prosecuted, and the war criminals are let go, ignored, given medals, and generally left to commit additional war crimes.

Not that Americans would have done anything except change the channel if they had been exposed to reporting that was honest, but now, any chance of a press that holds government and business accountable is over, done, shot dead.

Enjoy the show people.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why We Won't be Stopping the Near Term Extinction (NTE): And Why My Students Make Me Want to Cheer on the Big Cull

Each semester, when I teach English 102, my department requires I give a final. I don't like finals. The research paper at the end is final enough. So, I take pains to give them a freebie. That's right. The class before the final, I give them the answers. I write the questions on the board. I then point to the page in the book which contains the exact example I want them to use. I tell them that this is an open notes test. If you copy the examples I point to exactly into your notes and then copy them exactly into the test, you will get a perfect score.

There are nine questions. I've given them the answers. The only other requirement, which I make explicit and write on the board during the test, is that they must write in complete sentences. I feel that is only fair given that this is an English class.

And, every single semester for the past nine years, at least one student fails the final. I mean they show up and fail. Not, I'm hung over and can't give enough of a shit to show up fail, but they show up with notes in hand and fail.

The first time it happened, I was knocked sideways several feet into a new less pleasant dimension. Then it happened again and again. I began to paranoically believe that perhaps they were doing it on purpose, but my colleagues pointed out their thunderous ignorance and stupidity. (I had an entire class of college students who did not know who Hitler was, really.) At times I forget that oh-so-salient point and fall back to a position where I believe that students are in college because they deserve to be, because they are smart or some such nonsense. But reality drags me back.

Anyway, just hours ago, I gave the last final of 102 and just minutes ago finished grading the final. The score. Three failures. Two Ds. I still get the urge to snatch one of the cretins up by the collar and shout, spit flying into their face, "What the fuck are you thinking?"

But, of course, they are not thinking. These are the future nurses, doctors, engineers, and TV producers who will one day, when they are about to be culled for a cannibalistic feast, think to themselves, didn't Mr. Davies say something about this? Actually, no, I didn't. You were, in fact, watching Dawn of the Dead on your phone during class.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Near Term Extinction: More Good News

I've not added to the blog for some time due to increased painting activity on my part--I paint in oils--and due to teaching English to college kids who are somewhat problematic. Also, a few good friends have died, leaving gaping holes in my heart. One other reason lurks and that is depression. I read about many disturbing things on the Internet, including peak oil, climate change, and the most disturbing refinement of climate change, Near Term Extinction (NTE). Those of you not familiar with NTE should watch Guy McPherson's lecture. To nutshell it, according to the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, the northern hemisphere is looking at the extinction of all life, THAT'S RIGHT--ALL LIFE, within eighteen years. The southern hemisphere follows in another ten years or so. Guy points out that this doesn't include the feedback loops that will accelerate this process. We may be wiped out in as little as ten years.

Wow. Ain't that a kick in the head? Of course, what they both don't mention is that the bad times will not occur all at once on some magical date ten or eighteen years in the future, but will manifest themselves relatively slowly (though you must remember that, in geological terms, this transition is an eye blink) then accelerate exponentially. For example, as I explain to my students, this will likely mean that chances are, in five years, no commercial crops will be grown in Kansas. This crop failure pattern will repeat itself all over the world particularly in the interiors of continents where most cereals are grown. (Global warming heats interior areas much more quickly.) These failures mean starvation, riots, war, disease, and chaos. And this comes before the accelerating exponential part.

When I tell this to my students, they, without fail, become bummed out. And so, for my entertainment, and because our youth culture puts youth above all else and nothing motivates the young like getting over on the old, I explain that I'm 54 and I've stupidly and wantonly and out of complete ignorance wallowed in huge towering gouts of energy use for such a very long time that I almost feel sorry for the fact that they will be thrust into an almost unimaginably energy constrained world. HA HA! I got mine!

"Oooo, Mr. Davies," they say, shaking their little fists at me.

At one point I was terribly sad for young people, but I've seen what passes for involvement in them. Ninety-five percent of them could care less. Mainly, they don't believe me. They grew up with the energy cornucopia, as I did, and they cannot see a life without it. Secondarily, they believe that some magical technology will save us, or at least enable them to continue with their lifestyle unabated, to allow them one more round of "Call of Duty," or to upload a video of a dog biting the gym teacher's crotch, or to write tweets about poor service at the coffee shop. The bad times will only come after they have gotten theirs.

So, to get back to my point, insomuch as I have a point, I've started to come out of my depression. I've achieved this by realizing, no, acknowledging, no--still not right--what I mean is, deeply internalizing the stark fact that we all die--some very young like the boy killed by the asshole bombers in Boston and others not so young, you can fill in the blank because death among the old is as common as comma misuse among my students.

I know I cannot stop the coming collapse of human society and its eventual extinction. I've taught about peak oil for eleven years and the NTE for one and half, and I've witnessed the complete lack of desire to change things. No one cares. And here is where I had my epiphany. (FINALLY! He reaches his point. Clearly a professor!) I realized that only one human will witness the extinction of humanity and that person will do so unknowingly. Until that last human dies, there is still a species. But, given the size of the planet, no one human can know that they are the last. Therefore, to most humans, it is inconceivable that extinction can occur. As long as they can wave at a neighbor, they cannot conceive of extinction.

I know what you're thinking: Won't they suspect the truth of extinction when ninety-nine percent of the people around them have died, when no electricity let alone television signals reach their propaganda box, when the radio is dead, when they must chase down rats for food, when the temperature at night is 110 degrees, when water must be collected during the occasional deluge such as to get them through until the next deluge, and when life during the 125 degree days are impossible aboveground. Won't they have an inkling? Let's hope so. Because then, maybe, just maybe, they will do what is necessary to stem this trend...................


As Derrick Jensen asks, "At what point will you act to save the oceans? When nine-seven percent of the fish are gone? Ninety-eight? Ninety-nine?"

At what point will people do the hard revolutionary work needed to stem the tide? We need to shut down the entire industrial economy today. Not a week from now, not a month, but now. Okay, let me ask you, and I want you to really think about this: "Will the people willingly let go of industrial society and all that entails?"

Now, the really hard question: "Will you?"

Saturday, June 9, 2012

We're Losing Altitude

Recent news of dire straits on the environmental front are not news to many, but that it comes from a collection of esteemed scientists makes it something that people pay attention to. What they are pointing to has an analogy that might further illuminate the predicament we are in. Imagine a small plane, the kind with props. It is a commuter that carries maybe eighteen people including crew. It has a maximum takeoff weight. Every passenger is weighed along with their baggage. The baggage is stowed, the workers careful to balance the load. The pilot stares at the manifest and adds up the different weights. The plane is exactly at its maximum payload. The passengers are allowed to cross the tarmac for boarding. The copilot stands at the stairs. Along the tarmac are bars of gold. Each passenger is aware that the plane is at maximum payload, but each one figures that their single bar of gold will not bring the plane down. Surely the engineers built in a margin of safety.

You know the rest of the story. The plane roars down the runway. At that point where it should lift--no-- leap into the air, the wheels seem stuck to the rapidly shortening runway. The pilot panics, throwing the throttles forward, adjusting the flaps for maximum lift and the plane does lift, but shortly thereafter it stalls. The plane slides sideways as its forward momentum carries it towards the trees. In the last seconds, each passenger strokes their bar of gold, fervently believing that they will be the one to survive this crash. But the plane cartwheels into the trees and bursts into flames. All are killed.

We are those passengers with our bars of gold. This gold could be actual gold or a car or a computer much like the one I'm writing this essay on. It could be your tupperware, the air-conditioning in your home, the shopping cart you stole to haul aluminum cans for sale. It could be your Reeboks, your jeans, your eyeglasses, your bread.

In fact, it is everything that oil or any form of modern energy has touched including solar and hydro and geothermal. Anything, everything that is not created by natural processes that you yourself did not pick up and pop into your mouth for sustenance is in fact one of those gold bricks that are bringing down our little commuter planet better know as Earth. And, I think that metaphor of Earth as commuter planet is very apt. We treat it like a vehicle that is transporting us to some wondrous future point where everything will finally be perfect. Someday we will have enough goldbricks that we can finally stop and be perfectly happy. Even as the planet is being destroyed, we pick up gold bricks.

I have news. We arrived 2.5 million years ago. In fact we never left except in our addled minds when we invented agriculture and began the relentless high-speed march of human destruction. For two million years we evolved in place. We were part of the world's largest ongoing recursive breeding/scientific experiment ever. As the environment changed, we changed. But we did not start really destroying the planet in earnest until we invented agriculture. From that point on, our lot was the destruction of our local environment followed by a move to fresh lands which we promptly started destroying. As Derrick Jensen said, "Forests precede us and deserts dog our heels."

Now, many will get all worked up instantly and drag out the tried and true distractors that help keep us ignorant and locked into the destroyer paradigm: "Well, you're writing on a computer using the Internet," "What about medicine?" "You would have us kill billions?""We are too smart for this. We will fix it." "Quit spoiling the party for the rest of us," "I have children," "I recycle," "I ride a bike," "I give money," "I vote," "I" "I" "I"..............................................

Can you hear the flatline? None of these arguments matter. Like the Zen Buddhist master who tries relentlessly to get his student to understand that thoughts are not the thing, I try to do the same. All of your complaints and arguments all ignore the one startling fact. The planet is dying. All the bars of gold in the world will not stop that. In fact, the bars of gold are exactly the problem.

Instead of working to fix that one small patch of ego concern that you are fixated on over all other things, try to see the larger picture. Trying to save the car culture with solar power is insane. To recommend that one use cloth shopping bags instead of plastic is nuts. To continue to advocate for growth to create jobs is bat-shit crazy. To continue teaching young people the horrible, tragic lies of our industrial culture is like putting a shotgun barrel in your mouth and your children's mouths and your children's children's mouths.

We need to reverse population growth aggressively. That means the use of random sterilization of children at birth. That means paying money, lots of it, to people who voluntarily get sterilized. It means emptying the cities. It means localization. It means a national education that teaches the basic principles of a sustainable planet. The details will vary by microclimate, of course, but everyone should know that gold bricks are truly bricks of shit flavored with arsenic. It means we need to let the planet rest from its being raped for 10,000 years.

So, what I'm saying is, you don't have to kill yourself (though, if you are an American, it would be the equivalent of seventy third worlders, I'm just saying.) In other words, do all the small stuff, but whatever you fucking do, do not believe that that absolves you from acting to destroy the planet killer for one second. Shrink your footprint to as close to nothing as possible, then join the revolution. The Earth needs you. And when I say Earth, I mean every last living creature needs you, not some cartoon Madison Avenue image that is easy to dismiss.

Finally, to those of you who might have stumbled on this blog and have read this far and who are now puffing up their manly chests and making ooga, ooga noises while they prepare to tell me that I'm a communist or fag or some such unbelievably stupid shit like that, just stop. Stop. The planet does not give a rat's ass for what you say. If the planet continues on its current trajectory, you and all your small-brained kin will die except you will be too stupid to realize that you did it to yourself. And, I will not get any joy out of the fact because so many lives that are worth two nickels will have been killed because of your evil shit. Get back on your boat and crack a beer. Stop being a dick.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mommy? What's a Fascist?

I have often wondered how people could sit by and watch fascism develop within their country. The Germans did it. The Italians. The Chileans. The Spanish. And, now, the Americans.

When I was a kid, the ultimate enemy, other than the bully down the block, was the Nazi. This cruel and malevolent force filled with cretinous fiends would just as soon toss a baby into the air and catch it on a pitchfork in the name of nationalism as brush their teeth. They were despicable. Despite the desire of many to paint the Germans as a people who were completely deranged, my young mind could not believe that every single German was happy with a regime that was so evil. And, of course, not every German was such a monster. But the victims, many of them, were Germans--Germans who were branded not German, the other, the lower creature. Yet, enough people turned their heads, closed their eyes and often willingly and enthusiastically participated in the mayhem. Why?

Is it simple tribalism? I don't know. I wish I did. The next question is what do we do about this rise of fascism? The progressive left counsels that we not greet violence with violence because we become no better than those who impose violence upon us. I then think back to what ultimately helped destroy fascism in history and I see it is war. It is resistance. Very few, if any, repulsions of fascism occurred with only the voices of the people. World War Two was an orgy of violent action that only came about after Fascist countries had already killed millions through death camps and cleansing operations. While it is clear that the companies which profit from war were clearly behind a great deal of the impetus for war, and it is true that those same companies could care less about the motivations of any of their customers, the fact is, it was violence that destroyed the fascist movements of the mid twentieth century.

One must ask, then, will countering violence with violence in the early stages of fascism hinder it or help it? Unfortunately, I believe that violence to counter fascism will lead to more fascism because fascists have only one tool in their toolbox and that is violence. Like Hitler, they will seize upon any act of violence against their authority as reason to apply more violence. We know this from history. Many of the false flag operations of history were developed to justify a fascist response. Agents provocateur are rife within the Occupy Movement: cops and soldiers and spies who are all throwing brickbats in order to justify escalation of violence across the spectrum of peaceful dissent.

What to do? Now, before some creepy right-wing shitbag grabs what I am about to say and uses it out of context, I will right here say that the following is not a call to suicide-bombing by anyone anywhere. One of our greatest tools is the rise of complete video coverage of every event and the Internet as broadcast medium, as long as it remains open. With constant live-streaming and posting, every time some cop throws a punch at a peaceful protester, a journalist, or a hapless stander by, that video becomes the equivalent of a peaceful suicide bomb. Peaceful protestors and, increasingly, journalists are putting their bodies in the mine-field of the police lines. They trigger the cops who are essentially human suicide bombs. The cops do not die; however, they go on to explode over and over. One never knows when a cop will grab the cord on his suicide vest and explode. Who knows? You may be guilty of the heinous crime of using the sidewalk. Bam, cop explodes wounding three.

If this incident is captured on video, it affects more than those who are hit and those who do the hitting. (Make no mistake, the police suffer psychological injury as well--at least the sane ones do.) It shows people the facts on the ground, much like television did during the Vietnam War, when it was a responsible, fact-oriented enterprise. The government, and that includes the Obama administration which is coordinating this suppression, is hell bent on clearing journalists from the operating area and on conducting operations, where possible, at night to forestall those who might document and post their crimes. They know the power of exposure. They know that when people see the inherent unfairness and cruelty manifest in a fascist government, that the people will rise up and hang them from their heels. But, that may take some time.

The truth is, the majority of Americans are completely out of the loop. They know that things aren't as good as they used to be, but they buy into the propaganda that applying more of the same will somehow make it all better--for now. The news they get is biased and completely untrue, and due to the gutting of the Fairness Doctrine by Raygun, it is likely they will never get the truth from the four to six media conglomerates that control 95% of everything that hits the average American's brain pan. The corporate media that they watch is tilted to the corporation's viewpoint. They watch one station and one only and without the Fairness Doctrine, they will never be in danger of receiving the opposing view. In other words, even though they are fixated on how evil the socialist government is, according to their TV personality, they will support their glorious government when they fight the socialists and anarchists and jihadists on the streets.

But, like Nazi Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Spain's fascist era, these cruel people will continue to apply the only tool they know, violence, and they will eventually affect those brain-dead people who are for now comfortable. As each new group of aggrieved people take to the streets, a new level of violence is enacted to suppress them. This causes collateral damage to friends and relatives and the ranks of the anti-fascists grow.

Now, having said all that, I have bad news. It seems that the fascist impulse is hard to kill. A year or two after WW2, a survey indicated that better than fifty percent of French people felt that violence should not have been used to overthrow Hitler.

Really? It is to weep.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do We Need College?

Do we need college?

I think not. The main purpose of college is not to create large groups of people who are capable of thinking independently, this is disproven on its face by the fact that most people are unaware that industrial civilization's main purpose is the destruction of the planet.


Yes. A simple examination using the basic skills that colleges purport to teach will lead inexorably to this fact. Most of the professions that require a degree are either directly or indirectly involved in the perpetuation of the industrial paradigm. Name a degree that doesn't. Perhaps those few scoffed at degrees such my own, an MFA in creative writing, come to mind. "Do you want fries with that burger" is the usual taunt leveled at me by other minions of the Planet Destroying Machine (PDM). Perhaps those whose degrees are involved with fine arts, dance, etc. may seem to not be supportive of the PDM, but the truth is, they all support the PDM in some fashion or degree.

Next you might challenge the thought of the PDM. Why, I say, I say, without this precious industrialized society, we'd be suffering from bad teeth, poor nutrition, violence, and a lack of stuff. Total horse shit, but that is what is likely to be said. The truth is, the nasty truth that many spend untold hours trying to debunk, is that prior to agriculture the diseases of "civilization" simply did not exist. For further information I highly recommend Lierre Kieth's book "The Vegetarian Myth." Many people cite low average life span as proof of the terrible life that hunter-gatherers endured. This also is fabricated, a matter of statistical prestidigitation. The truth is, when Europeans came to the America's they were short, diseased, and suffering all the diseases of civilization. The natives were tall and healthy, until, of course, they contracted the diseases foisted on them by the Europeans.

Minor digression over. The PDM is easy to spot. Why is it destroying the planet? What makes me think this? Simple. What is the main objective of our industrial economy? Growth. You hear it all the time. "We must grow the economy." "We need more jobs." Next, consider the following statement: WE LIVE ON A SPHERE. This has dramatic repercussions. First, it means that we have finite resources. It means that we can only extract and disperse energy and materials for only so long before it all collapses. This is the easiest truth to apprehend. (Sorry, economists. I did mean to talk over your heads.) So, growth means an ever increasing need for energy and materials. That means ripping it from the Earth, which means the destruction of the planet.

If the goal is to perpetuate the species beyond another hundred years, then the PDM is not the way to go. Industrial society and its corollary of infinite growth will lead to the death of our species and many other innocent species as well. The planet will still go round and round for a very long time, but it may do so without the sound of human laughter.

Do we need college? Not as currently configured. What we need are schools that prepare us for a no- to reverse growth world. Engineers must become de-engineers, trained to help us disassemble the dangerous and poisonous elements of our society such as nuclear facilities, operating and abandoned mines, waste dumps, junkyards, cities, and chemical plants. We need agricultural schools to become permaculture schools. Doctors need to treat the whole person with herbs and natural practices and to, above all, teach people how to avoid contact with industrial civilization. Doctors need to teach how to avoid having children using common herbs. The arts need to tell the truth about planet killing and stop serving as the propaganda arm of the PDM. And, finally, economists need to find a new trade. Their "science" is merely the art of counting the imaginary chits that make the PDM go. In a society without constant growth, there is only one type of economy and that is the gift economy.

How do we escape the grinding wheel of "higher education?" We won't. As long as we live in the expert society driven by people telling us expert lies and us believing those lies because we have been taught to embrace the daddy authority figure for so long that to contradict daddy would cause severe cognitive dissonance. No, the society at large will force march us all to our doom in order to propitiate the PDM. And many of you will feel very smug about the whole thing as you dust your degrees and puff your chests feeling your solidarity with the PDM's expert class. You will engineer the railroad routes, design the cattle cars, study the psychology of frightened masses in order to move them without fear of rebellion, you'll work out superb computer programs to track everyone as they move through the PDM, and you'll design wonderful killing machines and ovens. And, as you pat each other on the back and as the final days of the human species come to pass, you will no doubt write plaintive poetry bemoaning the loss of the golden age of industrial civilization.

I know in many people's eyes, I am a heretic. I've bitten the PDM's all giving hand. What I wish I could do is wrap a massive cord around the PDM's leaden feet and ankles and cause it to trip and crash to the Earth, splintering it into a million pieces. So far, there are few college courses on killing the PDM.

Maybe next semester.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


We are in the land of hair-triggers, walking on tip-toe past a picket of weaponry aimed at our heads and hearts.

One interesting trigger comes in the form of credit crunches in Europe being staved off by creative money creation and bizarre money swaps that seem like a game of musical chairs. This game, however, is rigged in a unique fashion. Instead of someone finding themselves standing without a chair and thus out of the game, the rules have been bent and we now find chairs occupied uncomfortably by several asses. It is only a matter of time before one of the occupants squirms a bit too forcefully and knocks off one of the participants. 

We are on a precipice at the moment regarding Iran--a big trigger. There has not been as substantial a buildup of military might in the region since the invasion of Iraq. Advanced aircraft are being positioned in the United Arab Emirates. Aircraft carriers arrive in the region. Preparations are underway throughout the region. Even news organizations are preparing for war with Iran by deploying into likely hotspots like Israel. But there are hopeful signs such as resumption of talks with Iran seen as having a more serious attitude towards negotiations, no doubt the result of economic sanctions and military pressure. 

The war drums are being beat by the media and the ever present hawks in the government. Nowadays, nearly everyone in the Congress is a hawk by virtue of the sly strategy of placing arms manufacturing plants in as many congressional districts as possible, thus tying local jobs to elections. Let us be absolutely clear: war in the Middle East has nothing to do with terror, real or imagined, patriotism, democracy, freedom or any of the other only too easily mouthed oily boosterism phrases that pass as thinking in this Wall Street captured world. It has to do with the industrial-military complex. It is a money machine. The United States has become so intertwined with this monster, that to remove the cancer would kill the patient. The military employs 2,316,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel. Currently 12.7 million are unemployed--eight percent. To add that 2.3 million of military related jobs to the unemployment roles would be catastrophic because the knock on effect would result in another 3-4 million people losing their jobs in support roles. We have become a military economy. 

Of course, there is the peak oil trigger. I think a better name would be "peak everything" as Richard Heinberg notes in his book of the same name. Oil peaked in 2007 0r 2008 depending upon how you rig the figures. Coal will peak in a few years and perhaps has already peaked in 2011. Metals are peaking and though we have mega tons of scrap lying in trash heaps and landfills, the truth is, with a peak in energy, the ability to refine and smelt and reuse metal will decline along with the raw resources. 

And there is the climate change trigger. This is the wild card. Without a viable planet, how much we consume or don't becomes irrelevant. Many scientists claim that it is too late and that humanity will die out in the next hundred years. Harsh stuff. One particularly downbeat scientist recently recanted and admitted to being too alarmist. However, it is not too hard to find evidence that we are accelerating towards an environmental collapse. I feel this trigger has been pulled and can't be unpulled. 

So, there are a large number of guns on the mantle. And, as Anton Chekov said, if you put a gun on the mantle in the first act, it must be fired by the third. The question is when will one or more of these triggers be pulled and the damage incurred in earnest? As we are not working very hard at mitigating any of the potential triggers, I can only say that we are instead whittling away at the hairs, scraping away bit by bit, and simultaneously tightening the spring on the trigger. The room may not be filled with a cacophony of gunshots this year, but I would say that we are due for one within the five years. 

Interesting times, my friend.