Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Real Pea-Souper

The plot is getting so thick, it's becoming completely transparent. Further revelations about the American military-industrial complex's involvement in the World Trade Center attacks from former MI5 spy David Shayler, combined with detailed information from former weapons inspector Scott Ritter about the forthcoming US invasion of Iran.

Just when the whole Peak Oil issue is starting to come out in the mainstream media, along with the implications for the global economy. Barely a day goes by without some new revelation about it all.

I suppose a point will come when reading about it all ceases to have any meaning or use, and growing food and chopping firewood will become priorities for the majority. I have a feeling that the next 12 months will see some huge changes in public attitudes around the world - if not downright panic in some quarters.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Shocking

Here are some amazing photographs of the beautiful but terrible phenomena sweeping across Britain in this new climate-changed age . . .

The Harvest of the Earth is Ripe

Well, it looks like it's finally happening. Oil above $60, refineries maxed out because they can't cope with all the low-quality high-sulphur oil coming onto the market as 'light sweet' production capacity is reached, and doubts that we will get through this winter without supply problems.

Rising prices of petrol, heating oil . . . you name it. Peak Oil is here. All the main headlines are energy-related, from British Gas putting up their prices by another 15%, to British Airways slapping more fuel surcharges on flights.

And on it goes . . . electric storms and flash floods after the second heatwave in a fortnight . . . power supplies getting cut off to thousands of homes . . . villages getting swept away now every year on a regular basis . . .

What can it all mean?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On this Day . . .

. . . in 1941, Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, taking Josef Stalin completely by surprise.

Hitler proclaimed that the mobilisation of the German army in "Operation Barbarossa" would be the "greatest the world has ever seen".

But, in the fashion of true megalomania, he underestimated his enemy, and the defeat of his army at Stalingrad marked the beginning of the end of the Third Reich.

To this day, though, the name of Adolf Hitler commands a fascination seldom, if ever, repeated throughout history. Truly one of the great megalomaniacs of all time.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Kill and Cure

On the subject of the misinterpretation of Christianity, and in stark contrast to the article mentioned in my last post, this story on the BBC news site tells of a Romanian nun who died recently during an 'exorcism'.

She was schizophrenic, and apparently the Romanian Orthodox priest decided that she was possessed by the devil, and should undergo exorcism by crucifixion, during which she died.

The priest, apparently, is unrepentant, saying that she has been freed from her ailment, and that his methods are standard practice in Romania.

Odd that religion should get such bad press in the world, isn't it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Power to the People!

I found today on Ran Prieur's excellent blog, a link to a piece about Jesus' 'Third Way' of militant nonviolence.

It's very rare that I find a piece on Jesus so spot-on in its understanding and analysis. Anyone remotely interested in spirituality and the value of human being is highly recommended to read it.

It is sad that there is so much misinterpretation and misunderstanding of Jesus' message today, even (and sometimes especially) amongst self-professed 'Christians'. It is so true that faith denies both knowledge and understanding, and yet sometimes it is all we have to cling to in crises for which we are unprepared.

Of course, it is a faith that knowledge and understanding will come later - even if that should be after death. In reality, knowledge and understanding do come later, as a product of experience in the form of wisdom. There seems to me to be no reason to suppose that the experience of death itself does not bring its own wisdom. Certainly, each of us will experience death in some way or another every day of our lives.

But life still goes on . . .

Monday, June 13, 2005

Inside the Job

Well, well - a former Bush team member, the chief economist in the US Labor Department, has now said that he thinks the World Trade Center attacks of 11th September 2001 were an 'inside job' and controlled demolition.

Attacking your own country from within - that's proper megalomania. Especially when your own country has the largest and most dangerous military establishment in the world . . .

The plot thickens!

Moron Greed

. . . sorry, that should be "More on Greed" - over on the Energy Resources list. The era (error?) of capitalism continues unabated . . .

> If greed is not self interest, consider this. Average
> wages for an American in 2001 where $29,000.
> Obviously, if you make more than this it must be
> greed, right, unless you refuse your pay raise or
> donate it to the government for taxes. (of course, I
> have now idea what you make, but I don't make that
> much). I say greed can make the whole pie bigger by
> creating new products and ideas that improve peoples
> lives.

I make around £12,000 p.a. - not sure what that is in $US. One option you haven't considered is that you accept your pay rise, then reduce your working hours so that you can spend time chopping logs, growing food and looking after your family. Or use the extra money to pay off your mortage and other debts, and then quit your job to do the above.

Wanting to have enough to live on comfortably isn't greed, it's natural. But after a certain point, more material possessions actually begin to reduce the quality of life, rather than improve it - I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of diminishing returns. That's why I work part-time, and spend my spare time on the above activities, rather than earning £24,000, driving a big car, and jetting off around the world three times a year. In the long run, those things turn out to be liabilities rather than assets. Self-interest lies in moderation, not greed.

In reality, the "pie" from which we all must eat is our resource base. I fail to see how greed can increase the size of our resource base. Shortage of supply is the underlying reality behind human economic existence on Earth.

Maybe you can illustrate for us some circumstances in which one person taking part of someone else's slice of the 'pie' has resulted in a product or idea which has improved the lives of people across the globe, irrespective of status, to make your point more clearly.

> It is not greed which has driven our existence on
> earth to the brink of catastrophe, it overpopulation.
> The societies guiltiest of overbreeding are those that
> have the fewest capital resources. Even in the USA,
> it is generally the poorest that have the largest
> families. Is this coincidence.

No - it is no coincidence. Poverty is the flip side of greed. You can see it in the Middle East, where a few greedy people hoard the wealth they accumulate by selling off their country's natural resources, and do not use it to lift their people out of poverty. This means that ordinary people, instead of being able to rely on a health care system, education etc to support them, need to have families as large as possible to support them. Where you find greed, you will find poverty and overpopulation. You need to look at *why* people have a lack of capital resources. Is it because they have been disenfranchised by the greedy? Eskimos don't have many capital resources, yet surely they have one of the most sustainable lifestyles and lowest birth rates around! How do *they* figure in your argument?

I am not a communist, or even a socialist in the traditional sense, but an interesting case in point would be China, a country built on anti-greed,pro-equal distribution of wealth principles. A country which has brought its birth rate right down by introducing state controls on birth. By your reckoning, their policies should result in overpopulation. In fact, those countries with the highest birth rates are those most closely affiliated with capitalism. Greed needs poverty in order to exist, just like murder needs a victim. Excess in a greedy society requires slave labour elsewhere.

Again, Russia, after a century of socialism, has one of the fastest declining birth rates (and indeed populations) in the world - more so than the USA. How do *they* fit into your argument?

> Keith and Mick said "I'm free to do what I want any
> old time." By that definition, greed is not a
> violation of freedom.

By that definition, neither is murder! Do you have a scientific definition of 'freedom' for us here?

>> > Greed is the violation of freedom, and, as the book
> > says, the wages of greed
> > are death - either of the society, or of the
> > individual, or both.
>

> This is Roman 6:23. The correct quote is "For the
> wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal
> life through Jesus Christ our Lord." You should be
> embarrassed when an atheist catches you misquoting the
> book.

I wasn't making a quote, just communicating a truth. It is clear from elsewhere in that book that greed is a 'sin' - i.e. a crime against both one's self and one's neighbour:-

"You shall not covet your neighbour's house. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." - Exodus 20:17

Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." - Luke12:15

I refer to that book as a reference for the truth, not vice versa. The fruits of greed are self-evident on our planet and in our society. Just look at the burden the 'diseases of the rich' put on our otherwise awesomely equipped health care systems.

I read a good quote recently:- "capitalism is a very well-organised system,the purpose of which is to turn natural resources into garbage". And as anyone familiar with systems theory will know, "the purpose of a system is what it *does*".

>> > Thus, self-interest (i.e. life not death) lies in
> > moderation rather than greed.
> >>

> Modern governmental agencies attempted to distribute
> food to famine areas for free. What incentive do they
> have to hurry food to the famine area. I think food
> would arrive much faster in an uninterfered with free
> market. However, the government steps in and
> interfers with the marketplace to appease the people
> who feel they are being cheated. This discourages
> people who would otherwise speed food to the famine
> area. But don't take my word for it. Thomas Sowell,
> Basic Economics, Pg 40.

In your example, what would the starving people pay in exchange for food?

Who are the people you say 'feel they are being cheated'? People who are starving to death?

I haven't read Sowell's "Basic Economics", but I would suggest that basic human decency says that if people are starving to death, you feed them. And then provide them with the means to prevent the situation arising again.Well, as long as that doesn't result in your starving to death yourself, of course. Am I wrong? Who knows - they may even return the favour one day.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Dig for Victory!

For a quick guide to feeding yourself all year 'round from your back garden, have a look at this wartime leaflet from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The parallels between post-cheap-oil Britain and wartime Britain go on and on. We may well resort to coal liquefaction for transport fuels, too.

Maybe a bit of the 'wartime spirit' and healthier, less wasteful lifestyles wouldn't do us any harm at all.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Creed of Greed

I don't know about you, but personally I'm sick to the back teeth of the old capitalist "greed is good for you" argument. Here's what I had to say to someone peddling that garbage over on the "Energy Resources" list:-

> Is self interest a bad thing? Eliminating greed (self
> interest) could in fact resulting in a not caring
> about the self, to the extent that concern about
> continued existance may not matter.
> Do rich industrialists create more good by investing
> in jobs or giving away their resources?
>

This is the confused thinking which typifies the classic capitalist argument. Greed is NOT the same as self-interest.

In times of hardship in a society, the penalty for greed is death. When resources are so scarce that they have to be rationed, and co-operation is the only path to survival, the greedy are normally eliminated by the majority for endangering the viability of the whole. It is greed which has driven our existence on Earth to the brink of catastrophe.

Stafford Beer, the eminent cybernetician and advisor to Salvador Allende of Chile (the former democratically elected president) amongst others, defined freedom as "the maximum autonomy available to an individual without threatening the viability of the system as a whole", where viability means the capability of independent existence.

Greed is the violation of freedom, and, as the book says, the wages of greed are death - either of the society, or of the individual, or both.

Thus, self-interest (i.e. life not death) lies in moderation rather than greed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Mother of all Brick Walls

People accuse me of pessimism on a regular basis. It was therefore a big shock to me to read this thoroughly concise online presentation about Peak Oil, and discover that in fact, in the cold light of day, things are actually quite a lot worse than I had imagined.

Not for the faint-hearted. But I was consoled by the fact that most of the recommendations the author makes are measures that I have already implemented at home.

Sometimes being right is the worst feeling in the world. I suppose that's why politicians are happy to make a career out of being wrong.