tilted to damnation

not a quote It is because of the body that we can speak of morality. The material body is what we share most significantly. Of course it is true that our needs and sufferings are cultural. But our material bodies are such that they are. It is on this that fellow-feeling is founded and on this dependency on each other. Angels would not be moral beings like we.

terry eagleton via amardeep singh via zo

blarney con

Oh the ‘bizarreries’ of modern America!
The man gets out of jail and arrives on a stump:

For decades, I have been a militant anti-declinist in terms of America’s place in the world. – Conrad Black

I can see it now. Black & Palin 2012. Fuse penitent wealth with folksy anxiety. Something too classical to ignore. Commiserating with the persecuted. Another frame is Mormon & Pentecost. Or is it Baptist & Taliban? White Fright is so hard to follow. I swear I’ve lost track.

anti-declinist
Well maybe that’s a bumper sticker I could use.

what we got, not

The trouble, maybe the premier trouble with the American Dream, is we fail to see it’s not.

It’s not just the unemployed who are hurting.

Workers are barely scraping by on wages. A single person needs about $400/week pretax to pay bills, to eat. Tens of millions of American workers fall short.

Every day is a rainy day.

You’ll find many of them in food prep, where more than 11 million Americans command a median hourly wage of $8.24. There are another 4.5 million workers doing maintenance-related tasks for $10.18 an hour, 3.3 million in “personal care” at $9.50, and 14.5 million in retail jobs that pay $11.41.

 

The Bush Years: Meager wages pushed 6.2 million more Americans into poverty between 2000 and 2007. And that was before the banking industry imploded. More than 28 million people are on food stamps, up from 17 million in 2000. Republicans. Phooey.

how to jostle bananas

I would like to take this opportunity to say a word about the American spirit in this time of trial.

In the most critical periods of our nation’s history, there have always been those fringes of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing slogan, or a convenient scapegoat.

Financial crises could be explained by the presence of too many immigrants or too few greenbacks.

War could be attributed to munitions makers or international bankers.

Peace conferences failed because we were duped by the British or tricked by the French or deceived by the Russians.

It was not the presence of Soviet troops in Eastern Europe that drove it to communism, it was the sell-out at Yalta. It was not a civil war that removed China from the free world, it was treason in high places. At times these fanatics have achieved a temporary success among those who lack the will or the vision to face unpleasant tasks or unsolved problems.

But in time the basic good sense and stability of the great American consensus has always prevailed.

Conspiracy Theories Speech, November 18, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy

asteroid update

When you get a chance, here’s 3 minutes to fundamentally shift your brain, an excellent rendition of what’s following us down our drain to the Sun.

30 years in NASA’s audit of asteroids

Before you travel off to YouTube, these are not new asteroids. It’s an animation of the asteroids we’ve discovered. See? All that ‘stuff’ has been there all along, we just didn’t know it.

sewer spillover

“Plants take up drugs, antibacterials from sludge used as fertilizers… on the basis of this research, we should now consider changing biosolids policy to discourage the use of Class A biosolids by home gardeners on their food crops.” I’ve been following sloppy sludge management for years. Status quo wastewater treatment just cannot continue.

excreta of prosperity

…depressing American roadside detritus: tire stores, auto dealers, fast food restaurants and wholesale outlets all surrounded by asphalt and thousands of parked cars.

Steve from Virginia, Residue Is Our Economy:

It’s interesting to look at the world the way it is designed to be looked at in America, through a windshield. It is hard to escape the conclusion that we have ruined our country completely for the almighty dollar.

The highways themselves are the ‘Big Empty’ crammed with automobiles and semis, all going as fast as possible, all trying to live the ‘possibilities’ that are suggested by advertising. That is, racing down the ‘open road’ to experience the ‘thrill’ of driving for its own sake. The highways are therefore empty of everything other than what is required to focus concentration and reflexes … in order to keep oneself alive.

We are indeed rats in a (linear) maze. Why?

Integral to the highway ‘experience’ is the endless and futile highway repair process. The repairs are needed to keep up with ‘projected’ demand: the need for endless ‘growth’ suggests that the exponential doubling phase is here and now. In order to maintain the level of growth that carried forward up to the middle- aughts a duplication of the current Interstate highway system needs to be built and populated with a number of rolling metal boxes equal to what exists already. This on top of a system that is too large and complex to be properly maintained now.

For what, exactly? Do we exist to ‘serve’ growth or is it something that should serve us?

All that is needed is the escape from the thrall of the advertisers and their government lackeys.


reality is quacks

[who] think with the whole of their bodies?

Ducks flying overhead.
Nuance passing back and forth.
Rhythm and volume testing the wind.

Each voice alters its feel when the speaker is blown off course by gusts, each duck using its quacks to inform the others about the state of the blast just in front, while also apprising, each replying and reassuring the others.

once forever

You never see what I see seeing you. Beauty will not fit twice.

If I could a walk a longer mile,
If I could talk a wider smile,
If I could bring a heavy weight to gravity,
If I could gild a deeper gold,
If I could find a finer bold,
There you’ll be aside of me.

Were I to have your eyes, eyes that swoon the stars to shine,
I’d love me with those eyes, I’d wash me with those eyes,
and bring our gentle manner to its etiquette and grace,
conjure our deepest passions to their potent restraint.
I’d lose my willfulness. I’d lose it in love.

Were I sculpt of your beauty, drawn in liquid color,
I’d pour my dance into my skin, move the world to melody.
I’d lose my fear. I’d lose it in love.

Were I to have your nature, spilled in heart and caved in sugar,
I’d wash you in delight and ravish your footsteps on this earth.
I’d lose my agony. I’d lose it in love.

enter title here

MIT's interview with Bill GatesI first saw this pic and thought, “What does His Wallpaper Lordship wish to say?” His answer in His own words, “When you have billionaires, what are they expected to do?” I suddenly fictioned a million years into the future seeing all of us rich with no better problems. I quickly clicked to MIT’s interview with Bill Gates. A rare piece worthy of clicks.

I think I’m pleased to report other billionaires should do as well. What will you do with yours?

invisible hands

Frank Rich at NYTimes:

Vive la révolution!

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the ‘death panel’ warm-up acts of last summer.

Yasha Levine, “The tea parties are AstroTurf — fake grassroots.”

Tea Party Flacks Are Drill, Baby, Drill Messengers Too
The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement

adventuring corners

I believe that living is not always easy and can be quite painful, yet there is a tremendous capability inside of us to create our human potential.

My Employment Ad

Life long iconoclast seeks engagement.

VP in Charge of Rebellion. Excellent opportunity to stimulate growth. Formal l’agent du change. Facing abyss with capable mystic graciousness. Poet industrialist. Altruistic capitalist. Molecular minuteman. Quantum quarterback. And much, much more. Leap reluctance in a single bound. Mentors, counterparts, swashbucklers, dancing girls included.

My Economy Rant

When the rich steal from the rich, it’s Good Business.
When the rich steal from the rich for the poor, it’s Noblesse Oblige.
When the middle steal from the middle, it’s Corruption.
When the rich and the middle steal from the poor, it’s Fiscal Responsibility.
When the poor steal from the rich and the middle, it’s Crime.
When the poor steal from the poor, it’s Tough Luck.

Caveat

We must be careful not to overstate the case. Let us not forget that in this situation it must be noted: nothing could be further from the truth. Because, as they say, it is the exception that proves the rule. Of course, rules are made to be broken and so, in this case, we must make allowances. For the time being, all we can state with certainty is that, given this set of assumptions, all things will be equal. Context is everything. Thus, this is not the final word on the subject. And yet, because of the foregoing doubts, we must be doubly sure. So, in light of current developments and taking stock of all our cultural preconceptions, the conclusion is neither obvious nor buried.

republic obscura

It is politically unacceptable to make banks… The crisis was a textbook case of looting. The major firms are now more powerful by virtue of being bigger and fewer, and official denials to the contrary, are in a better position to loot than before.

If you know we’ve crashed, you don’t know who did it.

In the stone ages of investment banking, when firms were partnerships, it would have been unheard of to take on a lot of moderately long-dated, risky, illiquid, bespoke, hard to value assets and fund them in short term where they’d be exposed to rollover risks.

Go ahead. Be curious. You can meet the Devil on the path but you don’t have to shake his hand.

science or fiction

The Holocene is then and before. Humans penetrated everywhere.
The Anthropocene is now and now on. The business of Earth and Air.

Aggregate and fiber, binder and solvent. Enough to kill us all. Six billion people using Earth’s water, energy and matter. Our future simply foolish? Or do we account for humanity’s influence?

Humans On Earth

 


fire the entire economy

Umair Haque at Harvard  Business Review:

Dear Big Cheeses Who Run the World,

We regret to inform you that you’re fired.

We’re really, truly sorry about this, but we’re going to have to let you go. It’s time for you to pursue other opportunities.

In case you haven’t noticed times are pretty tough lately, and we’ve got to cut back somewhere.

In fact, that we’re beginning to suspect that maybe, just maybe the entire contract between us, you, and tomorrow … is fatally broken.

Value has simply been extracted — not actually created. Income isn’t translating into outcome and it’s outcomes that count.

Though we got a little bit richer, did we actually realize tangible, enduring benefits that mattered? Or did we just get more insecure, obese, unhappy, and disconnected?

Our economy’s engines and engineers — corporations, CEOs, investors — are uninterested in making stuff that actually makes us better off; they’re just interested in making a quick buck.

Forporations: Consider then, a radical idea: that the corporation as we know it just might be past its sell-by date, an obsolete tool that’s outlived its era.

hostile bombast

“Beck is a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of racial and ethnic confrontation,” says Bob Herbert at the NYTimes.

America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure.

On the anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants — Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more representative of this nation?

Consider a brief sampling of their rhetoric.

Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

King: “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter.”

Beck: “I think the president is a racist.”

John Cole, Lincoln swats Beck

truly really weird

Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic

People are weird…
No No, it’s WEIRD people that are weird…
Yeh that’s what I just said. People are weird…
But I’m saying that it’s WEIRD people that are weird…
I just said that. What were you saying about weird people?
Yo! I said a typical North American is WEIRD. Oh, never mind.

We are the weirdest people in the world.

Growing up in an industrial-era environment with plenty of ’90-degree lines and carpentered edges’ has led WEIRD people to be susceptible to deception.

Dr. Henrich says, “If you’re a Westerner, your intuitions about human psychology are probably wrong or at least there’s good reason to believe they’re wrong.”

If WEIRD people are indeed weird, it is the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution that have made them so.

We live in this world with police and institutions and pre-packaged food, TV, the Internet, watches and clocks and calendars. Our heads are loaded with all this information for navigating those environments. So we should expect our brains to be distorted.

soft class warfare

Comments at Baseline Scenario:

Morgan Stanley yesterday said what we have all known for some time. There will be government defaults of various types on debts which have become unmanageable.

In a story from the UK Telegraph yesterday, a report claims the Tories are placing the greatest pain in managing their budget gaps on the backs of the less well to do, presumably protecting their more well to do constituency. No surprise to anyone if it is true. And yet this may not be enough unless the economy recovers and the great mass of the public can regain some reasonable level of organic economic activity.

In the States, the uber wealthy will be spending large sums to lobby against new taxes, and even removing tax cuts that were known to be untenable, and based on false economic assumptions, at the time they were passed under Bush. Instead they will point to more broadly public and regressive taxes such as VATs, and seek to curtail public programs like Medicare and Social Security, while leaving their own subsidies and welfare, such as those in the financial sector and corporate and dividend tax breaks, sacrosanct.

In the US the broad mass of consumers have been the economy’s golden goose….

More:

“Excessive consumer debt is an outcome of prolonged inequality – in trying to remain middle class, too many people borrowed too much, while unscrupulous lenders were only too willing to take advantage of such people.”

“But there is a striking similarity between the longstanding stated intention to “starve the beast” (meaning press for reduction in government by creating binding constraints, like a perceived crisis) and what we are seeing play out today.”

Prolonged inequality. Creating binding constraints. Perceived crisis. Yes. That’s the whole thing, for decades.

And to sum it up:

This is made needlessly complex, and that obscures the truth.

We are under assault by organized crime, nothing more and nothing less.

Neoliberalism is the ideology of legalized gangsterism, corporate welfare is robbery, the bailout was stepped up robbery, and now the calls for austerity are simply another robbery gambit.

All of this is crime, period. The finance and government elites are criminals, period. We should never let ourselves be distracted from the criminological view of this.

Would you stand and listen to someone literally breaking into your house explain abstruse ideological angles on the event? We the people shouldn’t do that with these equally brazen but infinitely worse robbers.

slogonomics

Robert Rapier:

I am no economist, but bear with me while I try to explain why I think we are in for a very long and difficult economic period.

My thesis for ‘The Long Recession’ goes something like this: Historically, when oil prices rose quickly and remained high the economy struggled. High oil prices lead to recessions and depressions, because they suck so much money out of the economy.

A person whose energy bills go up by $100 or $200 per month has that much less to spend on other things. It is essentially like a tax applied to everyone that uses energy — with a large chunk of the money exiting the U.S. and contributing to our trade deficit.

Historically after a period of high oil prices, people start to modify behaviors, and at the same time producers rush in to take advantage of higher prices. This generally leads to a decline in oil prices and the economy recovers.

But I believe this time is different.

I believe we are looking at an extended period of (at best) no-growth or very little growth.

empire studies

Charles H. Smith:

“Did the Roman Empire have corporations?”

Based on my admittedly incomplete reading of Gibbons and a survey of Pompeii I am currently reading, I believe the answer is no.

Yes, the Republic and later, the Empire, had ruling Elites and politically influential families who controlled immense wealth, but… Did the Empire flourish without accountability and personal responsibility?

In other words, were the Elites which controlled the Empire never held personally accountable? If so then, they may well have functioned as the equivalent of today’s corporations.

What the long history the Roman Empire suggests is that individuals who failed paid a price. In today’s Corporate Empire, the Elite individuals running the corporations can despoil, bribe, embezzle, cheat and collude and they completely evade accountability.

This is yet more evidence that the U.S. is a de facto Corporate State which benefits the Power Elites who have partnered private gain with global reach.

fixing piracy

Dana Blankenhorn:

The President’s biggest mistake in office, by far, is one that is completely hidden from view.

That is, his refusal to directly confront the real enemy. Not just the Koch brothers, but the economic interests they represent. We are still subsidizing coal, and oil, and natural gas. The aid we give green manufacturing pales in comparison.

The question and answer are simple, not complex. Changing our economy’s incentives will unleash a flood of capital and millions of jobs.

We need an industrial recovery, not a consumer one. Why delay?