Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 26, 2006

OT 06-121

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 26, 2006 at 15:53 UTC | Permalink


@Cloned Poster - could you pls contact me somehow - thx

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 18:27 utc | 1

And now, for something very Boxing Day:

Very nice discussion at the carpetbaggerreport on "separation of church and state". Don't miss comment #17 on why the Right has it in for France.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 26 2006 19:22 utc | 2

Hmm - western reporting:Russia Threatens Gas Shut - Off in Belarus

(para 1+2) Residents of Belarus' capital stocked up on warm clothes and electric heaters as fears rose Tuesday that Russia is about to cut off the natural gas on which the country depends.

Russia says Belarus must pay more than twice as much for gas next year -- and even more later -- and turn over a half-share in its pipeline system, a major transit route to Europe, if it wants to avoid a New Year's gas shut-off.
(para 16!) Medvedev said Gazprom had scrapped its initial demand that Belarus begin paying $200 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in 2007. Under what he called a final offer, Belarus would pay $105 next year -- well below world market prices, but more than twice the $47 it now pays.

The para's inbetween are all in a form that accuse Russia in one way or another and show "resolve" on the side of the customers.

Given the (currently broken down) price for natural gas on the US spot market is some $226 per 1,000 cubic meter.

The tone of the piece is very anti-Russian - that when Russia is asking for free-market prices for it's product - so what is suddenly so bad with free-markets?

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 20:06 utc | 3


we should've learned from the 1973 oil crisis that "free markets" and natural resources don't mix: a monopoly or cartel can make as much money holding back product and driving up prices as they can selling a maximum amount at a lower margin.

But Western Europe is disconcerted about the way Russia is throwing its weight around in the energy market and fears it could find itself at the thin edge of the wedge some day

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 26 2006 20:09 utc | 4

But Western Europe is disconcerted about the way Russia is throwing its weight around in the energy market and fears it could find itself at the thin edge of the wedge some day

Is it????

I'm not concerned - continental Europe uses Russian gas for decades - the UK had it's own, but that is up now and now they suddenly get concerned and Europe "disconcerted" - Russia needs the Euros and has the gas, continental weatern Europe has the Euros and needs the gas - this is a constant state since the early 1980s - where is the problem?

Well, Exxon and BP are not in that business and that may be a problem for them ...

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 20:56 utc | 5

Hi b, I take it you were wondering about my Lubeck flight. After a family conference, my teenage kids have decided that they want to go to the house in Wexford for the new year. Hope you all have a great time anyways.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 26 2006 22:25 utc | 6

United States Government Accountability Office
Report to Congressional Requesters


Billions Being Invested without Adequate Oversight

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 26 2006 22:26 utc | 7

cp- have a good time with your kids.

sorry you can't join us, but you are probably making the wiser decision.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 27 2006 6:55 utc | 8

Say's a lot:

Iran Is Seeking More Influence in Afghanistan

Last year, the Iranian Embassy opened the Iranian Corner, a room in Kabul University's main library filled with computers, books and magazines from Iran, promoting Iran's ancient culture and modern achievements. Librarians say it is more popular than the adjoining American Corner, sponsored by the United States Embassy, primarily because it has a better Internet connection.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2006 7:06 utc | 9

U.S. Signals Backing for Ethiopian Incursion Into Somalia

The United States on Tuesday signaled its support for the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia, calling it a response to “aggression” by Islamists who have since the summer been consolidating power in the country.
On Tuesday, a day after an Ethiopian jet strafed the airport in Mogadishu, the capital, the State Department issued internal guidance to staff members, instructing officials to play down the invasion in public statements.

“Should the press focus on the role of Ethiopia inside Somalia,” read a copy of the guidelines that was given to The New York Times by an American official here, “emphasize that this is a distraction from the issue of dialogue between the T.F.I.’s and Islamic courts and shift the focus back to the need for dialogue.” T.F.I. is an abbreviation for the weak transitional government in Somalia.

“The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia,” the guidance said.
American intelligence officials theorize that the Islamists, who wrested control of Mogadishu in June from a coalition of warlords supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, have ties to a Qaeda cell based in East Africa that is responsible for the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

This year, the C.I.A. began a covert operation to arm and finance the warlords, who had united under the banner of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. Operated from the intelligence agency’s station in Nairobi, Kenya, the effort involved frequent trips to Mogadishu by case officers from the agency and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the warlords.

The operation backfired. When the payments to the warlords shifted the military balance of the country in their favor, the Islamists started a strike against the American-backed coalition and ran it out of Mogadishu.

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2006 7:27 utc | 10

Fuck Gerald R. Ford , never-elected president, Ford is the guy who pardoned the evil bastard Nixon he was on the Warren Commission, and his administration put Rumsfeld, Cheney and furthered Henry (East Timor.) Kissinger into the top echelons of power. Please take a moment to fall down a flight of stairs in his memory.

Gerald Rudolph Ford 1913-2006

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 27 2006 8:14 utc | 11

sorry you can't join us, but you are probably making the wiser decision.

remorse already?

Posted by: b | Dec 27 2006 8:44 utc | 12


You sound like a pretty nasty bastard yourself!

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 27 2006 8:57 utc | 13

Ford also didn't really understand human gratitude either; barely managed to thank the guy who saved his life from an assassin because he found out that man, Oliver Sipple, was gay.


Posted by: citizen | Dec 27 2006 9:33 utc | 14

grammar correction: Oliver Sipple is the man who saved Ford's life, not the assassin.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 27 2006 9:34 utc | 15

For some reason, every Christmas I end up watching at least a little bit of Frank Capra's It's a wonderful Life.>Jim Kunstler has a pretty good belated and updated review of that film:

      It's a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas card to America, is full of strange and bitter lessons about who we were and who we have become. It also illustrates the perversity of history -- the fact that things sometimes end up the opposite of the way we expect.
[...]Eventually, Mr. Potter gets the better of George, who attempts suicide, but is saved by an avuncular guardian angel named Clarence, who shows George how much worse off his town (and, by extension, the world) would be if George had never been born.
 [...]    Here's the weird part though. The main business of Bailey Building and Loan was financing the first new suburban subdivisions of the automobile age. In one of the movie's major set pieces, George Bailey opens Bailey Park, a tract of car-dependent cookie-cutter bungalows, and turns over the keys to the first house to the Italian immigrant Martini family. Had the story continued beyond 1946 into, say, the 1980s, (with George Bailey now a doddering Florida golfer), we would have seen the American landscape ravaged by suburban development, and the main street towns like Bedford Falls gutted and left for dead. That was the perverse outcome of George Bailey's good intentions. We also would have witnessed the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 1980s, when changes in federal regulation opened the door to an orgy of looting and grift (acted out largely in suburban development scams) so extravagant that a quarter-trillion dollar federal bail-out was eventually required to cauterize the economic infection.
[...] Frank Capra could imagine vibrant small towns turning their vibrancy in the direction of vice -- but he couldn't imagine them forsaken and abandoned, with the shop fronts boarded up and the sidewalks empty, which was the true tragic destiny of all the Bedford Falls in our nation.
     Most ironically, today America's favorite main street town, Las Vegas, is Pottersville writ large, and most Americans see absolutely nothing wrong with it. How wonderful is that?

And, in keeping with this theme, tonights news reported the death of Gerald Ford, listing his ups and downs, but finishing wistfully, saying that most americans will remember Gerald Ford simply as "good ol' Jerry".

Now I dont know where the fuck they get off pulling this plow-boy homespun horseshit outta there ass, because never in my life have I heard anyone ever wistfully tear up and call Gerald Ford "good ol' Jerry", and don't expect expect to, now that he's dead -- except on the news. But in an welcome overdose of sentimental heroine, way too many americans will sit back in their Easy-Boy and sigh silently in acquiessence under their breath, " he put Vietnam behind us, he healed the nation... good ole' Jerry, sure"

And he did it by letting those who committed the worst of those crimes, off scott free. Making nice, the way for the crimes future.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 27 2006 10:46 utc | 16

Why Should Americans Die for America...?

US Military Considers Recruiting Foreigners

Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country. Other analysts voice concern that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize national security or reflect badly on Americans' willingness to serve in uniform.

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

There are so many things wrong with this idea that I can't even begin to count them. But what else should we expect from the administration that has decided to grab the world's energy sources and hold them ad infinitem by force, AND outsourced policy making? This is just the next logical step.

By the time they are through, there won't be an America left.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 27 2006 11:14 utc | 17

Active Duty Soldiers Organize Call for Withdrawal from Iraq

The Appeal for Redress, surfacing only in late October, has taken anti-Iraq War sentiment that's been simmering within the ranks and surfaced it as a mainstream plea backed by the enormous moral authority of active-duty personnel. It's an undeniable barometer of rising military dissent and provides a strong argument that the best way to support the troops is to recognize their demand to be withdrawn from Iraq. While clearly inspired by the GI movement of the Vietnam era, it takes a much different tack. Instead of attacking or confronting the military, as the resistance movement of the 1960s often did, the Appeal works within the military's legal framework....

Therein resides the power of the Appeal for Redress. Its signers don't marginalize themselves as lawbreakers, resisters or deserters. Potential signers have been assured they are sending a communication to Congress protected under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act and will not be subject to reprisal. The result has been electrifying. In the two months since it surfaced, almost three times as many people have signed it as are members of the two-year-old Iraq Veterans Against the War. Almost three-quarters of the signers are active duty (the rest are reserves), and include several dozen officers, of whom a handful are colonels....

The genius of the Appeal resides not only in its simplicity but also in its nonconfrontational tone. "This is not about resistance. This is about working inside the democratic process," says lawyer J.E. McNeil, who helps run the GI Rights Hotline and who has helped advise the Appeal organizers. "This is about being proud of being a soldier, an airman or a marine, about being proud of your duty without giving up your rights as a citizen."....

This Martin Luther King holiday weekend, members of the Appeal will appear on Capitol Hill to formally present the petition to Congress to press their case. For an all-volunteer force, says Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, "it's simply unprecedented."

Posted by: Bea | Dec 27 2006 11:33 utc | 18

Non-Arab Arab on how the Ethiopia/Somalia situation is playing in the Middle East:

The current Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is receiving big attention in the Arab press as has the tension leading up to it. The big two media giants (Jazeera and Arabiya) on their websites are taking predictable angles: Jazeera (Arabic at least) is playing up the fact that the US government is supporting Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia (i.e., "the westerners are ganging up on the Muslims again"), while Arabiya is leading with the Transitional Somali Government's revelations of the dark "secret world" of the Islamic Courts Union (i.e., "yes, we at Arabiya are America's proud propaganda voice in the Middle East yet again since the failure of al-Hurra")....the point is, this is receiving big coverage in the Middle East, most folks in the Arab world are convinced the west is out to get Muslims, and the actions of the US and Ethiopia mean this is yet another story that will play right into that belief regardless of any attempts by US-allied media in the region to say otherwise (i.e., actions still matter more than words)....

...this is going to be yet another Bushie disaster because the important thing in the long run for creating peace, stability, freedom fries (something for American lefties, righties, and realists in there) is to not allow Salafi Jihadists (who have zero chance of ever winning power militarily or at the ballot box) to "win" by letting their "clash of civilizations" worldview become the guiding worldview of the majority of Muslims and Arabs. The actions of the US and its allies in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, etc. all are massive examples of which give credence to this worldview. US support for secular dictators throughout the Islamic world is another. Now it looks like Somalia will be added to the list (and once again, the US public will be sleeping as it happens and left ignorantly pondering "why do they hate us" the next time something nasty happens as a result).

Look at it from the point of view of your average dude on the streets of Cairo, Casablanca, Damascus, Karachi, Jakarta, or wherever else. You don't have to agree with this view (I for one don't), but this is how it looks to them today:

* Shariah is considered a positive ideal for how law and order should be administered.
* Somalia was in anarchy until recently some religious Somalis banded together to implement Shariah. In so doing they brought back peace, stability, and justice where they had power.
* The US saw the rise of "true Muslims" and wouldn't tolerate it.
* The US first tried to stop these Muslims from doing their good by re-arming thugs and warlords, but that failed.
* When that failed, the US turned to Christian foreigners (Ethiopia) and aided them in a war to wipe out the good Muslims who were just trying to bring back peace and justice to their country.
* Bin Laden had been saying for years that the "Crusaders" were out to harm Islam in Somalia, and suddenly it looks like his warning was right all along and coming to open fruition.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 27 2006 11:48 utc | 19

FYI - Shariah is Islamic law.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 27 2006 11:50 utc | 20

Ooops, I forgot to provide a link in my #18. This is from a long story in The Nation called About Face.

b, not sure if you can add this to #18 and then delete this post but if that is possible, it would be much appreciated.


Posted by: Bea | Dec 27 2006 11:56 utc | 21

noam chomsky interviewed by
michael albert: Iraq: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Posted by: b real | Dec 27 2006 17:07 utc | 22

GAS: Those now ex-USSR satellites, Georgia, Belarus, want to conserve the advantages they had and they are kicking hard about being charged more. They chose to leave, didn’t they? Now they can pay the same as everyone else. For Belarus that is still 30% (I read, the number may not be exact) below 'market' prices for the moment. One can’t blame them really for trying to negotiate. As for Russia, it will make everyone pay market price, and why not. They know it is a limited window of opportunity and what is good for the goose is good for the gander, so to speak. (I have goose on my mind - leftovers.)

What I find more worrying is the snide, alarmist, manipulatory, bullying attitude of the EU, as reported in the MSM. Russia using the ‘energy weapon’ - Yikes! The symptoms of the EU playing poodle to the US are dismaying. (See Iran sanctions as well.) Reviving the cold war (if it ever stopped) is practically the stupidest thing the EU could do. Any sane (EU) entity would now that the time to deal with Russia in a straightforward, reasonable, friendly manner is now. I hope those (censored ..) pols get to bite their frozen fingernails.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 27 2006 17:11 utc | 23

Chomsky on 9/11:>YouTube, 4.5 mins

selected quotes:

Secrets are very hard to keep.

If they had, it’s almost certain it would have leaked.

There is a huge internet industry, from the left.

The belief that it could have been done.. is so. err ah.....has such low credibility.

I’m pretty isolated on this in the West.

Even it were true, which is extremely unlikely, who cares.

...the huge energy that is put out on trying to figure out who killed Kennedy, who knows and who cares? ... People get killed all the time. The evidence against that (1*) is overwhelming.

1* - a high level conspiracy.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 27 2006 17:47 utc | 24

You sound like a pretty nasty bastard yourself!

Perhaps, but most who know me, prolly wouldn't say that...

Not sure what brought that about, care to clue me in?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 27 2006 17:59 utc | 25

Posted by: b

sorry you can't join us, but you are probably making the wiser decision.

remorse already?

I just meant to say that you (both) would still be seriously outnumbered. He really had no idea what you were trying to get him into. I suppose we'll see who has remorse after we've come and gone. Don't make me get all Tammy Faye on you, b.

...and now back to our regularly scheduled outrage...

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 27 2006 18:16 utc | 26

mebbe a call to let the corpse cool off before pushing it down the stairs?

However, all I could think of this morning was that I'd love to hear somebody saying this again, and soon (and not Cheney): "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

's like one of those nasty dreams where you think you woke up, but everything just keeps getting weirder again....

Posted by: catlady | Dec 27 2006 18:21 utc | 27

Glenn Greenwald has a great post up on how and why our long national nightmare is very much still playing on in full living technicolor (with "Dolby SurroundSound..."):

A Glorious War Plan for Iran

Posted by: Bea | Dec 27 2006 18:28 utc | 28


The news today is actually encouraging because it lets us know that Bush et al are getting scared.

US tries to reassure allies that extraordinary renditions are over"\

"Mr Bush says he wants to close Guantanamo..."

He has persisted too long in offending everyone. He has less and less baksheesh to offer. Or as Machiavelli puts it:

Some may wonder how it can happen that Agathocles, and his like, after infinite treacheries and cruelties, should not be conspired against by their own citizens. I believe that this follows from cruelty being well or badly used. Cruelty is well used, if one can say 'well' of such evil, when it is applied at one blow when necessary to one's security, and not persisted in afterwards. Cruelty is badly employed when it commences in a small way, to then multiply with time.
Injuries ought to be done all at once, so that, being tasted less, they offend less. Benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.

Book VIII, Squashed Machiavelli: The Prince

What's he still got left to offer the have-mores? Not enough anymore.

Wonder what sort of new world governing arrangements will emerge from the backlash?

Posted by: citizen | Dec 27 2006 18:39 utc | 29

Please take a moment to fall down a flight of stairs in his memory.


bea, excellent #18,21 link.

Frank says he's quite open about his views, and finds overwhelming support for them among his fellow soldiers. "Yes, yes, yes," he says, "My entire team feels the same way I do. And the other battalion [trainers] that I have come across feel that way, including my commanders.... In fact, I have not had one person in the last five months disagree with me. The typical response is, 'I know what you me

this could make a huge impact

Lawyer J.E. McNeil at the GI Rights Hotline is convinced that the benign response from the higher command reflects the level of doubt that currently permeates the military. "There are enough people in the military who agree with these guys is why they are not getting much flak," she says. "I think there's a lot of sympathy among officers. We talk to them all the time. And while a lot of them don't want to stand up publicly, we know they admire those who have signed the Appeal. Admire them and support them."

also, i'm just assuming someone posted about the news settlements in the west bank. just makes my blood boil

Israel is breaking an agreement with the United States by approving a new settlement in the West Bank to house former Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. Israel had promised the US that they would halt the construction of homes in the Palestinian territories.

Posted by: annie | Dec 27 2006 18:44 utc | 30

It's a Blunderful Life

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 27 2006 18:50 utc | 31


When attempting to understand what has happened to the United States over the last six years, the fact that moronic commentary like Herman's was (and largely continues to be) treated as "serious" and "responsible" foreign policy wisdom, while those opposing the commencement of offensive wars were demonized as frivolous radicals, is the necessary starting point. For the same reason, excising people like Herman and his allies from our political dialogue is the highest priority in beginning to repair the destruction they have spawned.

I think Greenwald's on the money here, except he needs reframing. The taboo-ing of dangerously stupid discourse is already beginning to happen, but its been happening worldwide. The U.S. executive and its legislative and judicial enablers have brought the world to the point where it has to stare on and wonder if an unbalanced President won't follow his latest soul-brother Harry S. Truman down a path that says: nuclear attack cities of millions.

It will not be pretty, but I think many of us will see actual world government, not just another League of Nations. Of course, that will only happen once a bunch of countries follow the North Korea tack and tell the crazy imperialists to back the f*** off. But that will be what starts up the new rules.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 27 2006 18:56 utc | 32

chris floyd reminds us that it was ford who catapulted cheney & rumsfailed into power. and don't forget that it was ford who made bushdaddy the face of the cia.

Posted by: b real | Dec 27 2006 19:11 utc | 33

check this out from the forumn the website started by mark dearden from active soldiers Call for Withdrawal.

Notice I never once used the word homeland in any of this. I have a secondary point I want to bring up now. Never once was the term homeland ever used to describe the country of America until Mr. Bush began the department of homeland security after the 9/11 attacks. Taking a 20th century history class will teach us that the most notable countries in the last century that referred to their country in this way were Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Hitler used the term fatherland to drum up support, nationalistic support, for his growing war machine. He used the nationalism he created in the minds of the Germans to justify the sacrifice of their livelihood to build the war machine to get back their power from the oppressive restrictions the English and French had put on them at Versailles. This is the same feeling that has been virulently infecting the American psyche in the last hundred years. This is the same feeling that consoles a mother after her son is killed in an attempt to prosecute an aggressor's war 10,000 miles away. It's also known as Patriotism these days, but I say, "No more." No more nationalistic inanity, no more passing it off as patriotism. Patriotism is learning, and educating oneself to understand what their country really stands for.

Posted by: annie | Dec 27 2006 19:11 utc | 34

The thing that has shocked me the most about reading Derrick Jensen's Endgame is not how radical it is, how dramatic the belief that civilization is inherently bad is, but rather, how common this is. Jensen approaches this generally from an environmental point of view. Civilization is destroying the earth, and all of us with it, and therefore needs to be stopped. This is fair, but I can only understand it intellectually. I am not tied to the earth as much as I should be. City boy and all.

Rather, I have a visceral reaction to the theory from a social point of view. Our state of being, our default modes of existence in city life seem to make us unhappy. Examples of this occur all over the news and popular culture. In 2003, a blackout hit much of the northeast United States, including New York City. Detached from their internet and televisions, people were...happy? They went out and made friends? Hung out at the local watering hole? Dancing with drums deep into the night? These things are documented, and reported about what other websites include as a "disaster" in American history.

I just watched Fight Club last night. I'm not sure how many of the older barflies here have seen this, but I'm not exaggerating much if I describe it as the seminal work of my generation. The movie is themed around the unhappy effects of capitalist materialism, but sometimes, it says more:

In the world I see, you're stalking elk through the damp canyon forest around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty carpool lane of some abandoned superhighway.

This is not a random independent movie, or an unpopular cult hit. It's a major Hollywood movie, starring Brad Pitt, which appears on critical Best-Ofs constantly. These messages are known. They have mass appeal.

It doesn't take a multi-million dollar film or a blackout for people to realize this. Ask people when the happiest times of their life were, and they are generally outside of the comforts of civilization. The dorm life at college, when hundreds of young people are crammed into uncomfortable sardine can buildings, and the normal rules of civilized behavior and ownership are suspended. Military boot camps. The high-level stress of putting on theater performances. Vacations to other places, or camping trips in the outdoors. Why do we not attempt to recreate these things in our current lives to be happy? Why do the people who believe that college was the best time of their lives not try to live in proximity to their closest friends?

Because we're addicts. And here I am, with my family having flown thousands of miles from one city to another city, writing this to people I've never met, on a computer, just as addicted.

Posted by: Rowan | Dec 27 2006 19:21 utc | 35

Rowan, yes, Fight Club is a great movie...funny, sick and also sick.

When it initially came out, some guys I heard talked about it as a movie about "men's oppression" in regard to women...because of Meat Loaf's role and the Tyler's rants. I thought they were stupid. The movie is a hysterically funny critique of current mores...tho not all of it is new.

However, the big issue is the destruction of the powers that keep us all enslaved. (imo, men who put women into this catagory are...well, let's say they have mommie problems.)

The last scene of the movie is both scary and exhilarating, if you are part of modern culture.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 27 2006 19:39 utc | 36

One more post (just one more Rowan, I swear!),

"Inhabited island disappears beneath the ocean waves"

No longer just a gloabal warming prediction. It's already happened now.

Lohachara Island (former pop. appx. 10,000) is down.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 27 2006 19:41 utc | 37

@Rowan, #35:

I disagree almost entirely. And, in fact, the whole thing was driven home to me just yesterday by the visit of some friends I hadn't seen in years. These friends are vegetarians, almost (but not quite) vegans, they grow a lot of their own food, they don't do much work with technology if they can avoid it, they don't do this that or the other. And you know what? They were embarrassingly boring. Within five minutes it became clear that they had no concept of pleasure as you (I presume) or I would understand it, and that their visit, which mercifully was only a few hours long, was going to be horrible for all concerned. One of them whipped out their knitting, and sat with a frown as we attempted and failed to discuss literature, weather, news, anything to stop the awkward silence that constantly threatened to break out. The other got almost theatrically bored.

I saw Fight Club a few years back, and the thing that struck me most was how unrealistic it was. Do you seriously think that Tyler Durden's vision of an agrarian New York would work, let alone make people happy? After much less than a year of tilling the soil, those New Yorkers who survived the initial explosions would be departing for Chicago or London. And that's assuming that the rest of the world didn't come down hard on them for doing what they did. In the meanwhile, suffering and disease would be endemic. We have, after all, only the word of a psychotic with a split personality for the Fight Club having spread beyond the immediate vicinity, and the film doesn't show us any instances of members of the club having to deal with their own mess. A counterculture is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, and then the adults have to come in and clean up the mess. As usual. If anything, the Fight Club is a right-wing idea, if you start to think about it.

There are two notions which come up in this sort of idiotic wishful thinking: the first is the Mennonite Paradox: if technology is the root of all evil, then where do you draw the line? Pull us all back to hunter/gatherers? Let us farm? Do we allow wheels? Motors? Can we keep the germ theory of medicine, or should we go back to thinking of evil spirits? No matter where you draw the line, you will still have to deal with the consequences of the technology you allow, and someone else will draw a different line and argue with you.

The other problem is stability. Unless you can get everyone in the world to agree with you, it is more than likely that someone will keep going with technology, build weapons against which you have no defense, and within a couple of generations your group will either pick up technology again in self-defense or else become slaves to the people who weren't so hasty. How happy will you be after that? Stability doesn't make people smile, it is true, but it is a serious cause of what you might call passive happiness. Why is it wrong to knock out the infrastructure of a nation? I mean, if technology and civilization are so bad, then cutting off the water and sewage and electricity should be hailed as a step forward! Look at all those Iraqis who have been liberated by the United States into a state of agrarian bliss!

As for the blackout: it was a cause of happiness strictly because it was temporary. It was a half-holiday. When the power is out, you can't be blamed for taking the day off to relax. If, instead of a temporary power outage, it had been a permanent cutoff, and you had cut out the other utilities as well (as anti-civilization theorists would urge), there would be nobody who talked about it as a good time.

Remember: every step of the way, the building of civilization has seemed like an acceptable improvement of some kind to the majority of people who experienced it. If that were not the case, civilization would never have been built.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Dec 27 2006 20:14 utc | 38

I will say a few words on behalf of Gerald Ford. First of all, compared to the SOB who is in the White House now, he was a prince. For another thing, the nation was then exhausted after a decade of war, having absorbed very personal losses, with enormous social upheaval. Also the country had gone through a very public constitutional process; and Nixon was the first President in our history to resign office under a cloud of impeachment.

I can only conclude that Uncle $ must be young as hell, and his simplistic view of President Ford, means that for Uncle, the words "Our long national nightmare is over" is only an excerpt from a history book.

I am over 60 now, and I am by all definitions an old coot. But for us at the time it was a miracle, really it seemed like a kind of miracle, that the war was at last ending, that a reprehensible president was forced to resign after an inspirational display of constitutional responsibility, that seemed to lift a whole nation out of despair.

Gerald Ford oversaw the ending of military conscription, which in the context of the Vietnam War was a great evil. Gerald Ford pardoned draft resisters and conscientious objectors, who were in federal prisons at that time. In 1974, I was being held in custody on a draft offense, and I am the possessor of a full and unconditional presidential pardon, signed by that good man.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 27 2006 22:23 utc | 39

Re: The Truth Gets Vicious... #38

Excellent post. So many curse technology (modern civilization) that allows or has allowed their very existence.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 27 2006 22:33 utc | 40

#38 & 40 - spoken like a couple of true technocrats :)

btw, technology is simply the application of knowledge to solve a problem.

Posted by: b real | Dec 27 2006 22:57 utc | 41


I do less and less w/o modern tech in my life but I'm not a Luddite. Obviously, I’m using a high tech tool to communicate with you right now. I'm not a vege, but I rarely eat meat and love browsing on the land for my sustenance. We grow a lot of our own food, the more the better. If I never saw another movie or video or attended another rock concert, I don’t think that would detract from my state of being. I know I would be happy to simplify my life even further but then I’m in my declining years and seeing my coming demise not a bright shining fifty year future.

However, I am sure that if I were to visit you, I would not find the visit nor you boring, nor would I knit and I would give odds that you wouldn’t find me boring. (caveat, imo I do better talking than writing. :-)

Not all those who embrace less technology disdain it. I think I get what you’re saying but I don’t think Rowan’s post is without merit. Addictions come in many wrappings and usually detract from our quality of life. Rowan makes the point that modern tech offers a rich source for new addictions and these addictions do not equate to a higher quality of life. Many of life’s pleasures and sources of enjoyment and even fulfilment are found in very simple things in nature. At least that has been my experience.

Posted by: Juannie | Dec 27 2006 23:18 utc | 42


I was focusing on the social ill-effects of civilization, but the negative environmental effects are more pressing if you aren't swayed by happiness-based arguments.

I was also considering the appeal of such arguments more than the pragmatics. Obviously, a collapse of civilization would be painful, and in a practical sense, impossible to achieve without massive catastrophes. Jensen makes the case in his book that the collapse is already occurring. If nothing else, peak oil (if true) demonstrates the unsustainability of modern civilization. Something's gotta give.

To your specific points:

It's unfortunate that you can't get along with your outside-of-civilization friends, but your explanation - that this is because they are outside of your society - is only skin-deep. If I have a good friend who's a fanatic following the Pittsburgh Steelers. I can't talk to her on that level, just as I can't talk to other friends about knitting. It's not something I'm doing; not a society I'm part of. So perhaps your friends went back to their home and said "Why on earth was this person talking to us about literature and politics? As if some story told by someone they'd never met is more important than the ability to fashion useful items from yarn and sticks? As if the details of whichever capitalist party is currently running the legistlature matters." Your boredom is perfectly understandable, but so is theirs. Which is more valid?

Fight Club is, of course, unrealistic. It's a fantasy; a fictional dream of a madman. Again, I'm interested in the appeal of such ideas. Why do I (and so many others) think it's a great movie? An effective critique of modern society?

There are also unspoken assumptions in saying the blackout was only good because it was temporary. I can't argue with this. My question is, WHY was this temporary lack of power a good thing. Because people get out of work? Why are they working jobs they hate? If television is supposed to bring pleasure, why are they going outside and talking with neighbors instead of curling up in a little ball and crying? Why, if electricity is so good, is it considered a vacation for it to be off for a few hours?

Perhaps one of my personal questions is that I am not certain that comfort, or pleasure, are the same thing as happiness. And I'm almost even beginning to believe that they are opposed to happiness. I can derive pleasure from sitting down for hours and playing the computer game Civilization IV (oh sweet irony), but that amount of pleasure doesn't seem to make me happy. My favorite conversations are not conversations About Things (like literature or the weather) but they are conversations which simply move, on their own.

Your final point - "it seemed like a good idea at the time" - doesn't seem to have too much meaning. I'm sure it felt like an acceptable improvement for the inhabitants of Easter Island to cut down every last tree on their island. I'm sure it felt like an acceptable improvement in the Bush White House to invade Iraq. DDT felt like an acceptable improvement in pesticides.

Anyway. I'm not advocating for an immediate return to agrarian bliss. I'm not equipped to handle such a thing, and the world certainly isn't. I am saying that it's worthwhile examining these ideas and their appeal...especially when peak oil hits.

Posted by: Rowan | Dec 27 2006 23:39 utc | 43


Feminist critique of Fight Club is fairly easy and obviousl. Though I'm quite pro-feminist, I tend to view it as a masculizined response to capitalist materialism, which is not the only response, and not the response I would (or do) take. I certainly don't think it's a blueprint for what should be done, but it is certainly clever.


A simple reminder that while it's easy to get lost in the social, the environmental is impacting people already...and probably will impact me in the very near future, regardless of my happiness or levels of addiction to civilization (and Civilization IV).

Posted by: Rowan | Dec 27 2006 23:44 utc | 44

Rowan- I wasn't critiquing the movie at all...I was critiquing the attitude of "us against them" that included females as "them."

As a female, my entire life has most often consisted of identifying with fictional male characters because the female ones had limited or boring and repetitive stories. Guys rarely make this same that's where I said the "us vs them" was stupid. Of course, now females can have adventures if they look like Angelina Jolie and wear spandex 24/7.

I liked Pinocchio better than Snow White...all she got to do was housework. He got to smoke cigars and go out into the world and make mistakes. I always loved the Wizard of Oz because Dorothy got to have an adventure.

But I saw the entire FC movie as a satire, not as a blueprint for action or a positive thing. When I saw it in the theater when it came out, ppl were laughing out loud. That's part of the generational thing, I suppose. I'm not of Rowan's generation, but I loved it..I laughed out loud. so it's not purely generational, tho I know what he means.

At the end, as the (don't look if you don't wanna know...) citibank bldg was demolished, the loving couple's arms and bodies formed a sort of heart shape...what a sweet romance... a fairy tale, just like the ones I mention above, except it's set in the age of American imperialism laid bare.

It's anarchy...under a powerful leader. LOL. As far as the idea of moving, as truth mentions, I believe that the fight club had gone out to all the major cities to do what Tyler did. but Tyler was a modern version of Bonnie and Clyde...anti-heroes who act out those wishes that we have that we don't do because we know the scary consequences.

but who wouldn't wish that citibank's records would be destroyed so that they couldn't rip off ppl anymore? Credit card cos. are about the most exploitative bizzes around... they can change your interest rate after you purchased something if you were a day late paying a bill for someone else. (this was on tv not too long ago..and about the trap of middle americans who don't realize they should pay off their credit cards rather than have $ in the bank...they end up losing money b/c the interest rates are so uneven.

anyway, I didn't see it as prescriptive, beyond saying...this is where we are...and we hate it, and so why are we doing this? As I've said often, I don't relish the thought of disasters, ecological, financial, military, whatever, because so many ppl suffer...and not generally the ones who benefited before the calamity.

however, I understand the "joy of nihilism" behind the movie very well.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 28 2006 1:24 utc | 45

Addictions come in many wrappings and usually detract from our quality of life. Rowan makes the point that modern tech offers a rich source for new addictions and these addictions do not equate to a higher quality of life. Many of life’s pleasures and sources of enjoyment and even fulfilment are found in very simple things in nature. At least that has been my experience.

i copied that because i like it.

chatting about technology is a luxury we may not be able to afford much longer, as a species that is. hopefully it will be used in the next century to figure out a way to get ourselves out of the mess we have created for the planet. obviously we need to start embracing less as a way of having more. we live in an ownership society, it's addicting and could spell the death of us.

Posted by: annie | Dec 28 2006 1:24 utc | 46

b real,

Perhaps by strict defintion, technology is nothing more than techniques to solve problems - but doesn't the effect of technology do so much more? Technology greatly enhances our living experience as, for example, George Lucas brought us into lightspeed in the first Star War film. Or the soulful experience of sharing art/music. Of course, technology can be a means to destroy lives by improper use such as weapons of war, pollution, etc.

It probably is true that the more knowledgeable a person is, the more interesting that person is. By knowledge, I don't mean formal education or exposure to technology. So often, the educational system makes one dull as is with children/adults who do nothing much more than experience high-technolgy mass media and computer games.

My goal is to become more self-reliant and break away from the "corporate entrapement" as much as possible. Like Juannie (post 42), I believe there is pleasure in a more simple life. However, I have no personal objections to using the benefits of technology where feasible and not just to solve problems, but sometimes for enjoyment.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 28 2006 1:51 utc | 47

seems to me the question is not about choosing between technology & luddism, but distinguishing between wealth and illth. if you measure in $$$, illth does too damn well (DeA had some great posts about that a while back)

Posted by: catlady | Dec 28 2006 2:19 utc | 48>The American Way if War by Gaberiel Kolko, gets into detail what I've been scratching at recently:

The fact is that the immense and costly American military today bears no relationship to politics and reality. It accounts for nearly half of the world's military expenditures but it cannot win its two wars against the most primitive enemies, enemies who exist in multiple factions who often fight each other more than Americans and who could not care less what Washington spends on weaponry and manpower. But America's leaders have always assumed convenient enemies who calculate the way the U.S. wants them to. More important, politics was never complicated; it existed as an afterthought and never interfered with fighting and winning wars the American way. But the Soviet Union and Communism no longer exist, and absolutely nothing has changed in America's behavior and thinking. The Pentagon is superb at spending money but its way of warfare in now in a profound and perhaps terminal crisis. It has lost all its wars against persistent guerillas armed with cheap, light weapons that decentralize and hide.

The military system that Rumsfeld and his precursors created is increasingly dysfunctional and meant only to suit the expensive demands and pretensions of the powerful companies in the military-industrial complex. The emphasis on expensive weaponry is good for the American economy; successful counterinsurgency war costs too little to maintain full employment. It bears scant relationship to the political problems that the U.S. has confronted for decades – and more now than ever.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 28 2006 3:28 utc | 49

And this guy is "in business" again ...

Most challenging of all, as Ford recalled, was Henry A. Kissinger, who was both secretary of state and national security adviser and had what Ford said was "the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew."

"I think he was a super secretary of state," Ford said, "but Henry in his mind never made a mistake, so whatever policies there were that he implemented, in retrospect he would defend."

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2006 4:00 utc | 50

Sounds familar ... like "Mission Accomplished" or such ...

Somalia Government Advances on Capital

Clan leaders considered abandoning Islamic militias who control the Somali capital and throwing their support to government forces, which advanced to within striking distance of this beleaguered city Wednesday.

Islamic courts fighters in Mogadishu, meanwhile, were seen changing out of their uniforms into civilian clothes.
The Islamic movement seemed invincible after capturing the capital, but they are no match for Ethiopia, which has the strongest military in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopian forces crossed the border Sunday to reinforce the internationally recognized Somali government, which was bottled up in the town of Baidoa, 140 miles northwest of Mogadishu.
one Islamic courts official said his forces were preparing for a new phase in their battle.

"Our snakes of defense were let loose, now they are ready to bite the enemy everywhere in Somalia," said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley. He did not elaborate, but some Islamic leaders have threatened guerrilla warfare including suicide bombings in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2006 4:55 utc | 51

good, short segment featuring robert parry on today's democracynow
Investigative Journalist Robert Parry on Gerald Ford's Legacy and the Bush Administration's Roots in the Ford White House

Well, I think Gerald Ford gets a lot of credit because of when he became President and the extraordinary circumstances, in which he became President. He was, of course, the person who followed Richard Nixon, and brought, in a sense, the end to the national nightmare of Watergate. In another sense however, he also marks the beginning of the counter-attack, if you will, against the efforts by Congress, the Press and other Americans to reign in the Imperial Presidency.

You start seeing already, in the early days of the Ford Administration, an effort to strike back against those efforts to limit the Executive Power. We have efforts in the CIA, when he brings in George H.W. Bush, to push back against Congressional oversight. To allow more space for the CIA to operate, to fight against efforts to expose some of the more corrupt CIA actions. And oddly, because of the timing of Ford’s Presidency, that it sort of came after the period, the Church Commission looked at, in terms of CIA abuses, and it came before the beginning of the formal congressional oversight process, the CIA operated during that year with a great deal of freedom. And we know -- we don't know enough about some of the things that were done during that period.

but what was up w/ amy catapulting the propaganda line, 3x no less, that ford was "The only person to become president who was never elected president or vice president"? don't tell me we've already forgotten about 2000 and the guy playing the role of president at this very moment.

Posted by: b real | Dec 28 2006 5:45 utc | 52

Why the U.S. should leave Iraq ...

Still, he said the colonel was one of Iraq’s better army officers.

“When we have his back, he will fight anyone,” said Major Voorhies. “When we don’t, he will cut deals.”

Sectarian Ties Weaken Duty’s Call for Iraq Forces

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2006 6:01 utc | 53

Starting a vivil war in Palestine:
Egypt transfers arms to Fatah with Israeli approval

Egypt transfered a large quantity of arms and ammunition to Palestinian Authority security organizations in the Gaza Strip Wednesday. The move was carried out with Israel's approval and was made in an effort to bolster Fatah affiliated groups, following clashes with Hamas paramilitary organizations.

The shipment included 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 20,000 magazines and two million rounds of ammunition. The arms and ammunition were transfered from Egypt to Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing, in coordination with the Israel Defense Force and with the government's authorization.
The issue of reinforcing the Fatah forces was the subject of discussions among Israeli, Egyptian and American officials. A decision was made during the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2006 6:22 utc | 54

rick- my point is not that "technology" is the root of all evil, or whatever the false absolutism was which truth tendered, but that those most dependent upon it for determining their livelihood - working as an elite cog in the info-tech sector, for instance - are typically the most likely to defend technotopian thinking, almost reflexively. so i was drawing out a broader definition of what the word really means, rather than lending validity to automatic assumptions that technology is synonymous primarily w/ "high tech systems" or, as you equated it - "modern civilization." once we recognize & operate from this broader definition of the concept, then we can better critically evaluate our relationship w/ specific technologies. those whose effects are found to be incompatible w/ sustainability, decentralized control, or diversity should be rejected. where is our (over?) reliance on certain technologies leading us? who benefits most from a specific technology? what are the inherent biases or negative attributes in a particular technology? if we can do that, effectively, then any notion that our modern industrial societies are incrementally evolutionary by design & desire - implying a drive toward perfection - will be seen for the fallacy that it is.

Posted by: b real | Dec 28 2006 6:38 utc | 55

How the IDF won over Peretz

Forces in the nearby Tel Romeida compound also relate to official military orders, in the best cases, as recommendations. They forbid movement of people who are not settlers, in an area much broader than that outlined in the injunction, which states that the closed area begins next to the settlement itself. The street is supposed to be open to pedestrian traffic.

In a letter more than a month ago to the legal adviser of the Judea and Samaria region, ACRI attorney Limor Yehuda wrote that soldiers posted at the site told her when she visited that the brigade war room and company commander had issued an order that "leftists are not permitted to pass through the street." In her presence, they contacted brigade headquarters on their walkie-talkie to ascertain that this was, in fact, the order. Yehuda heard, with her own ears, that Israeli leftists were to be denied entry in the direction of Tel Romeida.

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2006 6:39 utc | 56

@Rowan, #43:

I'd say my boredom is more valid. Well, okay, I would anyway -- there is no verb in any language meaning "to believe falsely" which has a significant first person present indicative. But I believe a convincing case can be built which has nothing to do with the personal angle. These friends were once a pair of brilliant people. One of them was a great conversationalist, and both used to follow politics avidly. Now, it's like they're zombies. They wouldn't even talk about their own interests -- I tried to engage the knitter about knitting (at some point I hope to learn to knit myself, since it's so obviously a useful skill) and conversation died again. If the alternatives are technological over-development or a sort of living brain death, then I'll sign up for cyborg implants, thanks.

Just because the ideas in Fight Club appeal to you, it doesn't make them a good critique of modern society. A substantial number of Americans think society is too secular because it destroys the most obvious justification for declaring war on muslim countries. Doesn't make that a good critique of society, either. Bad ideas often have a fascination. At any given moment, you can be sure there's someone trying to build a perpetual motion machine.

As for why a temporary blackout is good for society: lots of reasons. About the first sixteen of them have to do with sleep. People in modern society constantly get too little sleep (see Counting Sheep by Paul Martin for details). In addition, when you are away from artificial light, your sleep pattern will tend to align itself to daylight, which I recall reading is linked to overall happiness. And when the power is out everywhere, you can't go to work, so you can take a nap/go to bed early/sleep in without worrying about it hurting your career.

Then, television is unhealthy -- there's a lot of material showing that television is just plain bad for you in all sorts of ways -- so a temporary power outage eliminates a major health menace which an overwhelming majority of Americans, at least, are exposed to on a regular basis.

But if you were to eliminate electricity permanently, it would make people unhappy. (And it would kill a lot of people needlessly, too -- think of what would have happened at hospitals if the blackouts had gone on long enough to make the emergency generators run out.)

Continuing: comfort is not the same as pleasure, but discomfort is often the same as displeasure. Playing Civilization IV may not send you into ecstasies, but if you suddenly had no access to a computer, you would notice it. Civilization is at its best when it reduces discomfort; it is usually at its worst when it is used to pursue pleasure. (Hospitals vs. Casinos; Sewers vs. Television Networks; Aspirin vs. Viagra...)

My point with "it seemed like a good idea at the time" was a continuation of "low-tech is unstable". Suppose everyone in the world agreed, say, that cars are a dangerous, polluting technology, and stopped using them. Sooner or later, cars would appear again, because cars make things easier for people. (I don't have one, and don't want one, but I recognize that eliminating them entirely would be problematic, and not just for the usually-cited "American cities are designed for cars so we can't give them up" reason.) The only way a stable low-tech society could be achieved would be to make it a more convenient, happier one, and that won't happen because the technologies being removed cause convenience and enable low-level happiness which you don't think about because you've never been without it.

Derrick Jensen's Endgame, which you accept intellectually, starts with a list of assumptions. These assumptions are not necessarily true, in particular the first one: "Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization". It is true that there has never been a sustainable civilization. But then again: there has never been an interaction (that I know about, at least) between an African civilization and another civilization which did not lead to the African civilization getting the short end of the stick, at least for a while. Does that mean that African civilizations are inherently losing propositions? Of course not. That's stupidity. But it has roughly the same amount of evidence to support it as Jensen's first assumption.

The fact of the matter is that nobody has ever seriously tried to build a sustainable industrial civilization. The attempts which have been made to date are mostly minor, and generally involve taking an explicitly non-sustainable part of the system and swapping out one portion, such as using sustainably-grown wood instead of hardwood. Nobody knows whether a sustainable civilization is possible or not.

As for hoping that an end of civilization will bring about an ecotopia: not likely. Take, for a moment, the U.S.. We actually have a fair chunk of forest. (Some of it on abandoned farmland -- a lot of the forests in the northeast were farms a century or so ago, and you can go in and find ruins of houses with great big trees growing in them.) When the electricity and gas go out, the forests will disappear like water in a frying pan as people cut down the wood to burn for heat in the winter. And the wildlife will vanish, too, for food. (The American landscape doesn't have as many species as it used to, but it's nothing to Europe, which the Romans devastated and which never recovered.) Civilization does not merely exist to let us murmur in chatrooms; the only reason there is an ecology movement at all is because there was sufficient scientific advance to realize that humanity actually interacts with the Earth instead of just using it for a background, which is the religious view which prevailed until the last couple of centuries.

Unless there is a combination of a spate of new discoveries and reform -- and the reform would have to be dependent on the discoveries, so there's nothing which can be willed into being here -- humanity is heading for a major dieoff. If populations were markets, we'd be heading for a "correction", which is the word economists use to make you think it's a good thing that huge numbers of people are reduced to poverty. Even if global warming can be contained and sustainable energy is put in place, the systems used to produce and distribute food and potable water are not sustainable, and are going to fail. Even a graceful failure will mean huge numbers of deaths; a non-graceful failure will mean war as well.

I suggest that if, in 2200, the human population of the Earth is more than a third of what it is now, you can chalk it up as a major win. But here's the thing: abandoning civilization and/or technology is a road which leads to a major loss.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Dec 28 2006 7:59 utc | 57

b real (post 55),

Your points are all valid, especially this one: ” …those most dependent upon it for determining their livelihood - working as an elite cog in the info-tech sector, for instance - are typically the most likely to defend technotopian thinking, almost reflexively.” However, I find such bias to be true in all aspects of life – one “mothers” his/her situation and choices. Personally, although I work quite a bit in the technology field, I do not consider it as worthwhile or satisfying anymore. Perhaps if more people used open source and not depend on the Intel/Windows/Apple Corporations, I would think differently. I need to get off my duff again towards this end. But I am somewhat burned out and not excited about such an effort.
Such Corporatism is often not healthy and has influences not readily seen. For example, who sits on the Intel Board, that Intel is building its most advanced microcomputer processing plant now in Israel, building far advanced 45nm technology chips when competitors are struggling with 65nm technology? The smaller/faster/low-power technology is great and the people of the world, including myself, will use it.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 28 2006 13:59 utc | 58

oops - forgot to close the italics after b real's sentence . This technology stuff is a pain... Need to heed the old Wisdom: "Haste makes waste."!

Sorry, Rick

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 28 2006 14:03 utc | 59

">"> G21 "Bottom Ten" list of individuals for the year

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 28 2006 14:17 utc | 60


Can we say Ouroboros ("tail-devourer")?

U.S. Embassy Is Warning Beijing on Iran Gas Deal

The Bush administration and Congress are warning that a proposed $16 billion deal between a Chinese company and Iran could trigger economic penalties under an American law aimed at starving Iran of funding for terrorism and nuclear weapons.

Officials at the American embassy in China delivered a demarche Saturday in Beijing. They demanded an explanation of the deal from Chinese government officials and warned them that it could trigger a 1996 law, the Iran Libya Sanctions Act. The law prohibits foreign firms that invest more than $10 million in Iran's energy sector from raising capital in American financial markets.

hahaha...Impose sanctions against China??

Then what happens when Bejing starts unloading dollars quickly, "diversifying" their holdings in euros or other currencies?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28 2006 18:19 utc | 61

Jerome has a good one up at Dkos: Thank God (for NATO) - we're at war with Russia

It is ironic that those countries that do have reserves, alternative supply routes and means to fdistribute them in a crisis are presicely those countries that have been importing gas (not just Russian gas) the longest, and have worried about these issues for a long time - and acted accrodingly. But now that suddenly the UK feels itself naked - with its domestic supplies disappearing fast, no storage capacity to speak of, and no long term contracts in place -- it calls for European solidarity - after years of mocking the gas importers for their lack of faith in market solutions.

Posted by: b | Dec 28 2006 22:20 utc | 62

Brand new "revolutionary" weapon system from the masters of death and the boys in the back room: (of course, needless to say, bought with your money)

Some DREAD for the new year - here comes SkyNet

Remote DREAD Centrifuge Gun Pods can be outfitted with heat and motion sensors, and left in unmanned areas. These remote pods can be either human-operated, or pre-programmed with both less-lethal/non-lethal and lethal protocols that will function automatically and not even require human operation. Mobile robotic platforms, including remote-controlled Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicles (UGCV's), could also be outfitted with DREAD systems. And, the list goes on. The technology application possibilities/potential uses are virtually endless.

So, what’s the upshot? It's DefenseReview's opinion that, if the DREAD Weapon System works as advertised, it will have a profound impact on U.S. infantry warfare capabilities. It has the potential to literally change the way we fight on the ground, and perhaps even in the air. No question, it will revolutionize both ground and air vehicular armament and firepower capabilities. The DREAD will have a similarly profound impact on U.S. embassy security and military base perimeter security capabilities. This paradigm shift in firepower isn't limited to the ground and air, either. The DREAD's complete lack of recoil will allow it to be fired from space-based platforms, i.e. satellites, without knocking them off of their respective orbital paths. Zero recoil, plus 8,000 fps projectile speeds, 5,000-120,000 rpm capability, and huge on-board ammunition supplies, equals a viable and relatively inexpensive option for satellite defense (and enemy-satellite neutralization), and possibly even a fast-realizable armament solution/alternative for a U.S. Space-based defense network.

Oh, and while your reading, don't miss da vid, you know, da war porn of it, it's most funny absurd sad sick pathetic pornographic video ive possibly ever seen. Wonder how much it will cost us?

my favorite part is where they show the satellite. hook those babies into GPS on your cell phone and somebody in an office can use Google Maps to fire tiny specialized munitions at you while you sleep.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 29 2006 5:54 utc | 63

@Uncle $cam:

Yes, and as the comments on DefenseReview's page pointed out, that would be an excellent way to lose a satellite. Basic physics would require that deploying a particle of any kind from a satellite would push the satellite out of its orbit. Although you might be able to compensate for that, it wouldn't be reliable or safe.

For that matter, a lot about the writeup sounds fishy. It may be true -- I am not a ballistics fiend, any more than I'm a lawyer -- but I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I will continue to suspect the inventor is after some of that massive budget the Pentagon spreads around every year.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Dec 29 2006 6:52 utc | 64


I do not think we are too far from each other in our beliefs here. I'm just a little more pessimistic at the moment.

You seem to still be more worried about the practicality of eliminating civilization or technology, which is, of course, one that I share. Jensen's answer is not "no, it won't be painful" or "the ends justify the means" but rather, he states it quite clearly in his seventh premise: The longer we wait for civilization to crash - or the longer we wait before we ourselves bring it down - the messier the crash will be, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

This is a very problematic and unprovable statement, but I don't find it more so than its main counter, which is something along the lines of "Humanity/capitalism/science will find a way fix things, it always has." Or "problems? what problems? what environmental collapse?"

I'd also quibble with Jensen on his placing of "we" who bring civilization down as being outside of the crash. I'd say they, or he, or we, would be symptoms of the crash. A revolution is both a cause and effect of the downfall of a regime.

So in terms of practically, I'm not coming at it from the point of view that "Jensen might be wrong, because of this and this and this" but rather "What if Jensen is right?" If civilization is headed for a collapse that destroys the Earth, then something should be done to either make it do as little damage as possible. Your "something" might be different from my "something" or b real's "something" or Derrick Jensen's "something." But those differences shouldn't be our starting point, that something needs to be done is the starting point.

As for sustainability - again, peak oil. There is only so much oil. Therefore any society which uses oil in any amounts (let alone large amounts!) is eventually unsustainable. I'm not sure what industrial civilization you're envisioning that could be potentially sustainable. Oil is hardly the only nonrenewable resource.

And Africa? Adowa is evidence that the western societies don't always win. Just...almost always.

Posted by: Rowan | Dec 30 2006 1:39 utc | 65

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