Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Illusion of Crisis?

In this morning's Guardian commentary, a rhetorical point is raised;
How come Zimbabwe and Tibet get all the attention?

If a government wants to abuse human rights and rig elections, it needs to have the support of - or be - the western powers.
Nice serendipity given the Engdahl article on Mark Penn's abrupt defection from the Hellury campaign, his history with manipulating elections in client states, and his role in the global illusion making apparatus.
But, on the basis of the scale of violence, repression and election rigging alone, you would be hard put to explain why these conflicts have been singled out for such special attention. In the violence surrounding Zimbabwe's elections, two people are currently reported to have died; in Tibet, numbers estimated to have been killed by protesters and Chinese forces range from 22 to 140. By contrast, in Somalia, where US-backed Ethiopian and Somali troops are fighting forces loyal to the ousted government, several thousand have been killed since the beginning of the year and half the population of the capital, Mogadishu, has been forced to flee the city in what UN officials describe as Africa's worst humanitarian crisis.

When it comes to rigging elections, countries like Jordan and Egypt have been happy to oblige in recent months - in the Egyptian case, jailing hundreds of opposition activists into the bargain - and almost nobody in the west has batted an eyelid. In Saudi Arabia there are no national elections at all, let alone the opposition MPs and newspapers that exist in Zimbabwe. In Africa, Togo has been a more flagrant rigger, while in Cameroon last week the president was given the job for life. And when it comes to separatist and independence movements, the Turkish Kurds have faced far more violence and a tighter cultural clampdown than the Tibetans.

The crucial difference, of course, and the reason why these conflicts and violations don't get the deluxe media and political treatment offered to the Zimbabwean opposition or Tibetan separatists is that the governments involved are all backed by the west...,
In order to get a grip on TEP bidnis and the machinations of its hegemonic illusion apparatus, the subrealist would have to go all bidnis intel and set up a global dashboard on which we could benchmark and track where the most flagrant economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights violations are occurring inclusive of a backgrounder on the historic links between the current oppressive regime and its historic and continuing TEP sponsorship.

The Illusion of Choice?

Hillary Rodham Clinton said emphatically last night that Barack Obama can win the White House this fall, undercutting her efforts to deny him the nomination by suggesting he would lead the party to defeat. What does this mean?

Has Hellury been disavowed?
Mark Penn is exemplary of what US political insiders refer to as a person of the “permanent establishment,” the shadowy institutions and insiders behind the curtains who really determine critical policy issues and shape the choices gullible voters then are given to “democratically choose among.”

It has been referred to by strategists since the time of Edward Bernays as the “illusion of choice.” Penn is above political party, serving the interests of what some call the permanent establishment. As a case in point, he also is CEO of the influential global public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, which includes among clients the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial and Blackwater Inc. the Republican led mercenary security firm that has been accused of repeated killings of innocent Iraqi civilians.

Penn’s firm was to make sure the “image” of such clients remained positive to the US public. Referring to Mark Penn, the influential Washington Post once referred to him as “the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of." According to PSB’s website, Penn helped elect 15 overseas Presidents in the Far East, Latin America, and Europe. Clients include heads of state or opposition politicians in Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Yugoslavia.
With the abrupt departure of Hillary Clinton’s main campaign strategist, Mark Penn, have Hellury's backers decided to fold? If so, will they now shift their interests to Baraka or McCain?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cell Shape and Polarity - "Being" and "Knowing"

The other day I asked you to "consider the possibility that nature isn't opposed to culture, that biochemistry rivals intellect as a survival tool...," I just received an article from The Scientist that provokes a little further speculation along that line;
Jacobs-Wagner's career started off with a bang when, as a graduate student at the University of Li├Ęge in the early 1990s, she discovered that some bacteria can induce the enzyme beta-lactamase when exposed to antibiotics such cephalosporin, rendering them resistant to these drugs. "It's the physiology that interested me, the physiology I really wanted to understand," she says. "How do bacteria know they are under attack, and how are they able to respond by making protein that inactivates the antibiotics?"[...]Her pioneering studies on the molecular mechanisms underlying cell shape and cell polarity in Caulobacter crescentus, says Errington, "have helped change the way people think about bacteria. Now there's a whole new field of people who are working on bacterial cell biology using the same sorts of approaches used to study eukaryotes.
Can bacteria "know" anything? Is this just an instance of bumping up against the descriptive limitations of the language, or as I suspect, does it point to something rather more fundamental about the inseparable nature of "being" and "knowing"?

Fuel, Food, and Fiber

A subrealist is first and foremost dedicated to the implementation of practical and scientific solutions to the problems of the collective that it examines. The energy required to maintain our complex society is fairly easily within our reach. It would necessitate the local reuse/recycling of bulk waste as advocated by our brilliant sister Mahndisa, and, it would involve the industrial scale cultivation of hemp as feedstock for the age-old process of pyrolysis.

Pyrolysis is the technique of applying high heat to biomass, or organic plants and tree matter, with little or no air. Reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants and automobiles can be accomplished by converting biomass to fuel utilizing pyrolysis technology. The process can produce, from cellulosic material (like the stalks of hemp), charcoal, gasoline, ethanol, non-condensable gasses, acetic acid, acetone, methane, and methanol. Process adjustments can be done to favor charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol, with 95.5% fuel-to-feed ratios. Around 68% of the energy of the raw biomass will be contained in the charcoal and fuel oils -- renewable energy generated here at home, instead of overpaying for foreign petroleum.

Pyrolysis facilities can run 3 shifts a day, and since pyrolysis facilities need to be within 50 miles of the energy crop to be cost effective, many new local and rural jobs will be created, not to mention the employment opportunities in trucking and transportation.

Hemp vs. Fossil Fuels

Pyrolysis facilities can use the same technology used now to process fossil fuel oil and coal. Petroleum coal and oil conversion is more efficient in terms of fuel-to-feed ratio, but there are many advantages to conversion by pyrolysis.

1) Biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 BTU/lb, with virtually no ash or sulfur emissions.

2) Ethanol, methanol, methane gas, and gasoline can be derived from biomass at a fraction of the cost of the current cost of oil, coal, or nuclear energy, especially when environmental costs are factored in. Each acre of hemp could yield about 1000 gallons of methanol.

3) When an energy crop is growing, it takes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, and releases an equal amount when it is burned, creating a balanced system, unlike petroleum fuels, which only release CO2. When an energy crop like hemp is grown on a massive scale, it will initially lower the CO2 in the air, and then stabilize it at a level lower than before the planting of the energy crop.

4) Use of biomass would end acid rain, end sulfer-based smog, and reverse the greenhouse effect.

Given the simplicity and obviousness of the solution to the problems we face, can there be any question whatsoever about the precise "nature" of our man-made predicament?

Is anybody holding their breath waiting in anticipation of a presidential candidate who advocates doing the simple, doable, and obvious to get the U.S. up off the energy mat?

The Fury of the Poor


Full article at Der Spiegel online;

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hunger in America

Perched on the edge of a cliff - we're habituated to maintaining the American Way of Life, regardless of the costs (which are as yet insufficiently perceptible here on the liminal fringe of consensus reality).

It is difficult for people to accept that the world as they've always known it is ending. We've recovered from recessions before, so we'll recover from this recession. That's the argument we hear in the commons - and it is, thanks to voodoo economics and ignorance of peak oil - essentially, irrefutable.

We have recovered from recessions before, but this is no ordinary recession. We've even recovered from a great economic depression before, but this is by no means an ordinary economic depression.

The end of the American way of life will come unexpectedly......,

Sorry Out of Gas

Co-Opted Science?

The Identification and Destruction of False Ideas is a pillar of the subrealist ouevre.

The H5N1 virus may have dropped out of the news headlines just now, but it hasn't gone away. Over the past couple weeks, I've come across a veritable tidal wave of pandemic planning and preparedness documentation and emergency management and crisis communications literature addressing this topic.

While it's not as sexy as the UFO preparedness literature, the sheer volume of the stuff makes me wonder to myself, "self, what the hell is going on here? what do these people know that we don't?" Then this morning, I find this article
The ultimate weapon of mass destruction, and a moment of abject lucidity begins to set in;
In Britain and the US, public health studies suggest that a full-blown pandemic of bird flu or something like the respiratory disease SARS could knock out a critical mass of the working population. Some sixty per cent of the nursing and medical services could be out of action within 10 days, according to a study at the Defence Academy of the UK Staff College. This would mean the armed services would have to be called in to help.

The threat to public order - a scenario out of the Day of the Triffids or the Quatermass Experiment - is what really alarms Downing Street. An American study has suggested that in a worst case, half the population would go down with bird flu – roughly the scale of Europe's Black Death of 1348. Half of those would have to go to hospital and millions would die in the first wave.

The government has laid in stocks of 14.6m courses of Tamiflu, one of two known medicines capable of combating H5N1. However, pharmaceutical competitors have claimed that Tamiflu would only be effective for a very short time, and the WHO says the virus appeared to be resistant to Tamiflu in at least two known cases.
It appears that the UK National Security Strategy has pegged pandemics as one of the major threats menacing the civilized world.
The threat to this country from a pandemic caused by bird flu or some such virus is greater than the threat from international terrorism in the view of Gordon Brown and his Downing Street advisors. This is why pandemics are ranked alongside terrorism and other major global ills in the National Security Strategy unveiled last month.
Now where is Gordon Brown getting his information from?
The argument is based on a hypothesis, a short-odds scientific bet. Sir David King, who's just stepped down as the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, puts it like this: "It is more a question of when rather than if the H5N1 virus mutates into a virulent human form. So far we have noted more than 20 mutations of the virus in only a few years."
His view is supported by every public health official or doctor I have met in recent months. Only last week, three former heads of the Defence Ministry and the Joint Intelligence Committee told me without hesitation that they thought the PM was right to flag the potential menace.
Oh Lawd!!!! The sky must indeed be falling, or maybe not. Evidently Sir David King has established track record second only to our own legendary Brownie. According to the warmwell blog, hailed thus; "This website has served as a rapier, puncturing the bladder of Government obfuscation, by publishing a highly informed, topical digest of news..." Sir David King has established a track record of highly dubious provenance and has served as a pseudo-scientific authority co-opted to justify a series of disastrous political agendas, most notably the mass slaughter of British livestock to control an alleged pandemic..

Which brings me back full circle. What's up with the human pandemic preparedness push?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Strange History of Economics

From The Strange History of Economics;
Following WWII, the United States increasingly came to determine (one might say dictate) the shape of economics worldwide, while within the United States the sources of influence became concentrated and circumscribed to an absurd degree. This state of affairs, which persists to the present day, was engineered in significant part by the US Department of Defense, especially its Navy and Air Force. Beginning in the 1950s it lavishly funded university research in mathematical economics. Military planners believed that game theory and linear programming had potential use for national defense. And although now it seems ridiculous, they held out the same hope for mathematical solutions of “general equilibrium”, the theoretical core of Neoclassical economics. In 1954 Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu achieved for this mathematical puzzle a solution of sorts that has been the central show piece of academic economics ever since. Arrow’s early research had been partly, in his words, “carried on at the RAND Corporation, a project of the United States Air Force.” In the 1960s, official publications of the Department of Defense praised the Arrow-Debreu project for its “modeling of conflict and cooperation whether if be [for] combat or procurement contracts or exchange of information among dispersed decision nodes.” In 1965, RAND created a fellowship program for economics graduate students at the Universities of California, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Chicago, Columbia and Princeton, and in addition provided postdoctoral funds for those who best fitted the mold. These seven economics departments along with MIT’s, an institution long regarded by many as a branch of the Pentagon, have come to dominate economics globally to an astonishing extent.
It's a short read. While you're there, check out the post autistic economics network and get a subscription. The price is right, enjoy....,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama Meet Howard Beale...,

Here is a think for yourself moment...

Ridiculous questions are being raised about Obama's comments that voters in rural PA are frustrated and bitter because of how Washington has treated them.

Both Clinton and McCain are making the case that he is some how an elitist and out of touch with voters...or that he talks down to voters.

Take a look at all of what Obama said and then draw your own conclusions....,

Brother Baraka, stop pussyfooting around with these two crusty mediocrities, grow a pair and stuff this latest round of Faux News propaganda down their lying, treacherous pieholes!!!!

Cornification

What if Stephen King is right? What if human consciousness isn't the end-all and be-all of Darwinism? What if we are all just pawns in corn's clever strategy game, the ultimate prize of which is world domination? Author Michael Pollan asks us to see things from a plant's-eye view -- to consider the possibility that nature isn't opposed to culture, that biochemistry rivals intellect as a survival tool. By merely shifting our perspective, he argues, we can heal the Earth. Who's the more sophisticated species now?

Hellury Strikes!!!

The $109 Million dollar woman seizes the tactical moment;
But Clinton struck hard, calling Obama's comments "demeaning." The increased attack showed that Clinton is eager to hold on to her working class support and is looking to open new questions about Obama's judgment that would make voters and Democratic officials reconsider their support for the Illinois senator.

"I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakable faith in America and its policies," she said. "Now, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it's a matter of constitutional right. Americans who believe in God believe it's a matter of personal faith.

"I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith. The people of faith I know don't 'cling' to religion because they're bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich.

"Our faith is the faith of our parents and our grandparents. It is a fundamental expression of who we are and what we believe."
On second thought, Big Don is right, and that folks, the fact that she could even go there with a straight face in light of all the skeleton bones that have come tumbling out of her closet the past couple of weeks, perfectly illustrates why America will get EXACTLY the leadership that it deserves.

Uppity Dr. Baraka

The "condescending, elitist, UPPITY" Dr. Baraka had the audacity to touch and diagnose the angry and cancerous boil accumulating on the atrophying carcass of the American economy;
"But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
I wrote about this a couple years ago at Vision Circle. Baraka has spoken to and will now be compelled to fully engage around one of the most challenging bulwarks of reality evasion in America. Joe Bageant understood it and spoke to it very, very well.
I think working class anger is at a more fundamental level and that it is about this: rank and status as citizens in our society. I think it is about the daily insult working class people suffer from employers, government (national, state and local), and from their more educated fellow Americans, the doctors, lawyers, journalists, academicians, and others who quietly disdain working people and their uncultured ways. And I think working class anger is about some other things too:
Good luck and godspeed. If he can successfully engage these folks, alay their anger and mistrust, he has a better than even chance of becoming president and potentially even functioning as a catalyst for constructive change. This is easily the most interesting moment thus far in the democrat primary.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Road Not Taken....,

Prophecies and warnings regarding fossil fuel depletion. Extracted from the Wikipedia entry on Admiral Hyman Rickover - the visionary "inventor" of compact nuclear reactor technology and the man who handpicked Lt. James Earl Carter to join his superb nuclear naval fleet.
As early as 1957, Admiral Rickover began urging the development of alternate energy consumption paths to that of fossil fuels as their eventual depletion became evident, noting:

"A reduction of per capita energy consumption has always in the past led to a decline in civilization and a reversion to a more primitive way of life...Anyone who has watched a sweating Chinese farm worker strain at his heavily laden wheelbarrow, creaking along a cobblestone road, or who has flinched as he drives past an endless procession of human beasts of burden moving to market in Java - the slender women bent under mountainous loads heaped on their heads - anyone who has seen statistics translated into flesh and bone, realizes the degradation of man's stature when his muscle power becomes the only energy source he can afford. Civilization must wither when human beings are so degraded....High-energy consumption has always been a prerequisite of political power. The tendency is for political power to be concentrated in an ever-smaller number of countries. Ultimately, the nation which controls the largest energy resources will become dominant."
Carter was the only president who attempted to take on the single greatest threat to our survival, and to this day, he remains maligned and ignored despite being a visionary many, many years ahead of his time. Not so far ahead as his mentor Admiral Rickover, who was noted for his intolerance of oxygen thievery;
Moreover, he had "little tolerance for mediocrity, none for stupidity." "If a man is dumb," said a Chicago friend, "Rickover thinks he ought to be dead." Even while a Captain, Rickover did not conceal his opinions, and many of the officers he regarded as dumb eventually rose in rank to be admirals and were assigned to the Pentagon.
Too bad these visionaries weren't able to wake up the masses in their time.

The Face of a Prophet

In today's NYTimes;
“I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime,” Mr. Soros said during an interview Monday in his office overlooking Central Park. A “superbubble” that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said[...]The market theory he has promoted for two decades and espoused most of his life — something he calls “reflexivity” — is still dismissed by many economists. The idea is that people’s biases and actions can affect the direction of the underlying economy, undermining the conventional theory that markets tend toward some sort of equilibrium.

Mr. Soros said all aspects of his life — finance, philanthropy, even politics — are driven by reflexivity, which has to do with the feedback loop between people’s understanding of reality and their own actions. Society as a whole could learn from his theory, he said. “To make a contribution to our understanding of reality would be my greatest accomplishment,” he said.
Soros is correct. "Reality" mirrors the contents of the collective unconscious. To change the former requires autonomous access to and some degree of control over the latter. Human beings have engendered a number of such cultures of psychological competence. The currently dominant dopamine hegemony is not such a culture. Instead, it is a culture in which the tendency toward unconscious behaviour is maximized and ruthlessly and habitually exploited. That's why it works. That's why it's universal, and that's why it will be our undoing.

Peak Oil - The First Shortages?

This sad little nethoax chain letter - urging consumers to boycott Exxon Mobile - is once again making the rounds of the Kwaku Net. Assuming folks deigned to act on what this letter enjoins, their action would prove absolutely meaningless. Instead of engaging in impotent symbolic gestures signifying nothing, the meaningful thing to do is to begin preparing to the best of your ability to hunker down, conserve, and to cooperate with others in your community for the cold, hard rain that is certain to come. This is for your personal and communal benefit no matter what. So do it!

No time like the present. As for trying to auger the timing of the clampdown, here is the one sure indicator by which you can ascertain when things will begin to tighten up in earnest.

Fuel prices alone are unlikely to bring America to its senses.
It clearly will take outright shortages with lines at the pumps, curtailed deliveries and many other misfortunes before serious measures to deal with declining oil supplies –- speed limits, rationing, mandatory car pools, improved mass transit -- are taken. Thus the question becomes: how soon?

Gasoline and diesel are two different animals in America. Most gasoline is used for personal travel and much of that for convenience and, as we shall find out shortly, is not essential to the economy. Diesel in America is, for the most part, an essential fuel in that it is used to perform money-making work or, in its heating oil form, keep us from freezing. If diesel becomes too expensive, and those expenses cannot be passed on, then the consumption of diesel will be cut back. This in fact is already happening -- the government is reporting that distillate consumption of diesel and heating oil currently is down by 3.1 percent as compared to the same four week period last year. This is undoubtedly due to the price of diesel and heating oil which is now around $4 a gallon, an increase of $1.17 a gallon since last year.

The word “distillates” encompasses both diesel and heating oil which are about the same thing; except that the clean air rules in the U.S. require most of the sulfur be removed before burning it in a motor. Currently there is a world-wide shortage of distillates which is most severe in China where long lines of trucks waiting for fuel are appearing across the country.
So watch what's going on in the diesel and distillates market. Diesel is the lifeblood of our current unsustainable level of consumption. As goes the diesel, so goes our way of life.

Floating Arctic Nuclear Power Plants

Rosenergoatom is promoting floating nuclear power plants (NPP) for energy supply for Arctic oil-and gas drilling platforms. Instead of using gas to produce electricity for the platform one floating NPP can ensure needed power supply. A promotion brochure from Rosenergoatom details the plans to use the floating NPPs for offshore oil and gas installations in the remote Arctic oceans.

The general concept of the plan is based on the same technology as the floating nuclear power plant currently under construction at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk region.

The plant will be built as a barge where the core of the nuclear power plant is its KLT-40 reactor. This kind of reactors is similar to the ones onboard Russia’s civilian fleet of nuclear powered icebreakers operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company. Given the speed with which the Artic ice is melting, there won't be much foward-looking use for a fleet of nuclear ice breakers....,

Sevmorput

Murmansk gets the world’s first nuclear-powered oil drilling vessel

The Murmansk Shipping Company will turn the nuclear-powered container carrier “Sevmorput“ into a drilling vessel for the oil industry. The vessel will be ready for drilling operations in the Arctic within 18 months, the company announced this week.

With the transformation, the world will see the first ever nuclear-powered oil and gas service vessel. The place of work for the vessel is likely to be the Arctic, and first of all the Barents Sea.