the desperate do not easily forgive

(for Katrina)

Now the sun burns the waters
clears the shredded sky
and peels back the skin
of the exposed.
You are undone, O Great One
Master of the West
your time has come.

When your black blood clots
and your limbs stiffen
who will come to your aid?
What friend have you, tyrant, in this hour of need?
Who will approach,
but to crush a boot against
your swollen neck?

Maunder Minimum

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break,
When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay.
— Led Zeppelin

Another day of horror as History contorts and folds in on itself. We watch in realtime the economic and human ripples spreading out from a disaster which we all saw approaching. For those caught in the middle of it — mostly the poor, who couldn’t escape — the experience is worlds apart from the mediated petri dish you and I enjoy. I watch the weather radar as the giant spider crawls up east and dies in Canada.

What is the point of talking about it? These are just words. But by commanding words I manipulate your mind. Do I use them responsibly? Like CNN does, pretending to be the Id of the nation? 55 KILLED IN MISSISSIPPI scream the headlines. And you watch those reporters. Man they’re having the time of their life. Wading through the sewage, recording the screams. Oh, the humanity, etc. Thanks Katrina, thanks for boosting my career. Thanks 9/11. Thanks Geraldo. You fat FUCKS.

I am inexplicably angry after soaking up coverage today from multiple sources. I hate "coverage" — always have — so I shouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, could I do any better? It’s hard being out there in the field, especially with communications so disrupted, and the sewage and all; so whatever. Cut a poor reporter some slack. Just givin’ the people what they want.

And I am one of those people. Maybe my anger stems from guilt at being attracted to the most gruesome tidbits the news has to offer. Cemetary flooded! Caskets everywhere! Trapped in their attics! I can only imagine. But I haven’t really tried. Why bother, when I can read about it from the safety of my shell, getting off on the novelty of horror?

It is fascinating, though, to watch the mobilization of so many resources to respond to the disaster. The national guard, FEMA, CDC and other persons responding as professionals don’t merit the same condemnation I’m leveling at our corrupt journalists. Hell, if the shit went down here, I’d be one of the schmucks stuck up on their roof (hopefully not in the attic), waiting for the Grid to rescue me, and I’d have nothing but gratitude for that helping hand.

So, tomorrow morning should reveal the fresh extent of the disaster, cause tonight’s going to be bad. Really, really bad.

Planet under pressure

BBC does it again! Check out their excellent series “Planet Under Pressure”.

An excerpt from the introduction;

Planet under pressure is more about questions than answers. What sort of lifestyle can the Earth sustain?

How many of us can live at northern consumption levels, and what level should everyone else be expected to settle for?

How can we expect poor people to respect the environment when they need to use it to survive?

Are eco-friendly lives a luxury for the rich or a necessity for everyone?

And how can we act when sizeable and sincere parts of society say we are already overcoming the problems, not being overwhelmed by them?

The Oil Endgame

A friend turned me on to The Oil Endgame. You can download the full PDF for free.

I’ve only read the introductory quotes and Executive Summary so far, but this has proven an antidote to my stewing anxiety and anger over what I presumed was a thoroughly-entrenched cultural and economic addiction to oil. The truth is, the economy seeks profit and growth, and the “captains of industry” know better than anyone that oil will increasingly be a losing proposition. Shell and BP may not be pushing energy alternatives out of a deepfelt connection with the planet — but they don't have to. All they have to do is recognize that the successful energy company of the future will manage a diversity of hydrocarbon and increasingly non-hydrocarbon supply chains.

Look, no one is in business in order to pollute; it's just been cheaper historically not to worry about it. No one in the oil business believes oil will last forever; they’re not in denial. The question is who will successfully combine leading-edge technologies with a functional business model, in order to grow themselves out of the oil well?

I don’t believe the transition will be smooth and pretty. But I have full conviction that we’re not going to just watch the oil drain away until the lights go out and society collapses. There are alternatives now and they will have their day, less or more bloodshed later.

The Extropian in me says “Hi”

But maybe the goal of “sustainability” is misleading — methadone for an oil-addicted world. “Sustainability” in the context of energy means we don’t eat ourselves out of existence, but as a vision for a future humanity it has the suggestion of a plateau, stability, leveling off, maintenance.

As essential as it is for our species to survive the end of oil, the human future — at least on this planet — is not a descent into well-mannered predictability. We are riding the lightning bolt of evolution, and we are neither its final culmination nor a done deal. We point the way, and as History accelerates, more and more of the creative energy of the universe is being focused on this planet. There will be no plateau, no Millennium of peace, as long as Humanity occupies this planet.

These musings (by no means new to me) force me to consider that this planet and even the human body are transitional artifacts. Like the placental sac discarded or consumed at birth, perhaps gross animal nature is the nutritive husk to be cast off by the children of Humanity as they expand into the cosmos.

Part of me rejects this vision. The earth is the Mother, the body the Temple, to be cherished and respected. Yes. And I don’t posit their obsolescence as a condemnation or dismissal. The question is, how much are we willing to give up? Not for economic or political gain, but to realize the full creative potential of the Cosmos?

  • Your body is a boat to lay aside when you reach the far shore.
    Or sell it if you can find a fool, it’s full of holes, it’s full of holes.

    –William Burroughs, The Western Lands

Chicken Little whispered this in my ear

An oft-quoted Saudi proverb haunts me: “My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son rides in a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel.”

Underneath the clicks and squeaks of everyday life a drum is pounding, deep and relentless. I've always had an ear for the apocalyptic, but lately the beat seems louder, the rhythm more defined. Global warming, peak oil, the end of the American Century… Sure, it’s probably amplified by seeing War of the Worlds tonight — a masterpiece of apocalyptic horror — but we are naive if we think the world is not undergoing radical and accelerating change.

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