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?"