Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Through Thick and Thin

with 11 comments

Another week. The Obama vs Clinton deathmatch goes into extra innings. Civil war is breaking out in Lebanon again. I managed to write three posts this week about men behaving badly, a topic for which there is infinite amounts of source material. Even my own mother called me up to inform me that Josef Fritzl is indeed a monster. Exactly, but by extension that means there’s a monster in all men. I knew that. I used to play a little game, when I met a man for the first time I would see how long it would take me to get him to say something really racist, misogynistic, or genocidal. I had to stop because it was too depressing, I don’t think I ever failed.

Moving right along. Well, yes, Hezbollah claims that the government of Lebanon has declared war on it. What a mess, is another Lebanese Civil War in the offing? Lebanon is the perfect example of how colonialism never ended and is still wreaking havoc in the world at large. The colonial mind set is more what I mean. At least the colonial powers of the 19th century were honest about what they were doing, we have inherited their mind set but forgotten what’s really going on. “The map is not the territory.” Oh well, I’ll try to explain this idea more next week.

There’s been a terrible cyclone to hit Myanmar (previously known as Burma.) A cyclone is the Asian word for hurricane. As many as a hundred thousand people may be dead. That’s, like, really bad. The government of Myanmar is not exacting cooperating with efforts to get aid to their stricken country. Though again, the classic colonial mind set is being illustrated here. IE the west knows what’s best Myanmar and if the government of Myanmar doesn’t like it, why, there must be something wrong with them. Can anyone spell patronizing and paternalistic? And the Myanmar government knows that letting in westerners means letting in spies and support for their dissidents, from their position keeping aid out is the lesser of two evils.

The price of oil hit a new record, $126 a barrel. People are actually starting to drive less, in fact it’s really helped the congestion in Berkeley. Less traffic, less pollution…I can live with that. Even on the way back cross country I noticed the used car lots were filled with big pickup trucks and SUVs. More proof of how short sighted and clueless many Americans are, gas is still a minor part of the cost of operating a vehicle and certainly not worth the money they would lose selling a vehicle and buying a new one. And of course two of the candidates for the White House (Obama being the sane exception) are pandering to these misunderstandings by saying they will repeal the gas tax to give American’s “relief.” Saving 18 cents a gallon will be a trivial amount of relief, but will further strip our nation’s highways of already critically underfunded repair funds. And when maintenance is deferred, it just costs more down the road. Yeah, that’d a good idea, pass more costs on to our grandchildren. In other words, repealing the gas tax is just more “borrow and spend.” It does seem to be the American way these days.

Speaking of gasoline, I heard that even if all of America’s farmland were switched to producing biofuel it still wouldn’t meet our fuel needs. Basically biofuel is another scam, it will make the rich richer, the poor poorer…all while claiming to be “green” energy. The other nightmare being resurrected as “green” energy is the nuclear industry. Power so mind numbingly expensive that investors refuse to fund the construction of nuclear power plants since they invariably lose money. So now we will be building them with government picking up the tab (IE you and me and our grandchildren) all the while claiming that this is good for the country and the environment. Sigh. Yes, I should write more about this some day.

There was a rumour that the leader of Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq was captured, sleeping on a mattress in an ally. Sounded pretty fishy to me, and turned out it was. Didn’t stop people from declaring what a wonderful victory this was. Of course if killing insurgent leaders actually did anything, insurgencies would be easy to stop. No, insurgencies have very distributed command and control structures, they have to be in order to survive. So killing their leaders basically does nothing except make them even more careful to keep their command and control structures distributed. And usually makes them and their movements more popular as well.

Lastly, I did a little research on the “End Times.” A lot of people are claiming that the end is nigh. Turns out that this has happened before. Hundreds of times going back to 3800 BC. And yet somehow the End Times never arrive and humanity is left to muddle through somehow. I particularly liked this one from 1694:

“Drawing from theology and astrology, German prophet Johann Jacob Zimmerman determined that the world would end in the fall of 1694. Zimmerman gathered a group of pilgrims and made plans to go to America to welcome Jesus back to Earth. However, he died in February of that year, on the very day of departure. Johannes Kelpius took over leadership of the cult, which was known as Woman in the Wilderness, and they completed their journey to the New World. Fall came and went and, needless to say, the cultists were profoundly disappointed at having travelled all the way across the Atlantic just to be stood up by Jesus.” (Cohen p.19-20)

Well, yes, that would be annoying. Read about the rest of these false prophecies here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is a low resolution copy of the original, it is not being used for profit, and its use here does not in any way hinder the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image, arguably the opposite. It’s a painting titled “Landscape with Grenade” by Cliff McReynolds. Credit & © Copyright Cliff McReynolds. I really like his art, and thought that painting in particular illustrated the times we are living in. End Times, no…interesting times, yes.)

Written by unitedcats

May 9, 2008 at 7:08 am

Posted in Business, History, War, World

11 Responses

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  1. I feel it necessary to point out that Senator Obama was the only major candidate running who had the guts (yes… speaking truth in politics takes real balls in this country) to take a stand against the ridiculous reduction in gas tax. His tendency to articulately convey his grasp of what lies at the root of problems will probably be his downfall. It seems the majority of Americans prefer to be lied and pandered to (anyone remember that last election?) Republicans are MASTERS of the patriotic completely nonsensical soundbite, I fear that Obama will make the same mistake as Kerry and try to appeal to people’s common sense.


    May 9, 2008 at 8:36 am

  2. Second, I respectfully disagree with your statement “gas is still a minor part of the cost of operating a vehicle”. I currently spend $120 to $150 a week on gas. At an average of $540 / month, this outlay exceeds both my car loan payment and insurance combined. If you factor in depreciation as an expense, gas may dip below the 50% mark as far as my total monthly car expense… but I would hardly consider 50% of the total a “minor” expense.

    Would it be worthwhile to downgrade to a more fuel efficient vehicle? Well, my car gets decent gas mileage, so if I had an SUV and was currently paying $1080 / month for gas, then yes… selling
    the gas guzzler and switching up for a more efficient car would make sense in my books.

    If your information runs counter to this, I would be interested to see what formula is used.


    May 9, 2008 at 8:44 am

  3. With a world that already does not have enough food it is inhuman to BURN FOOD to power a car.

    Bush pushing biofuels is just another form of corporate welfare for his contributors like ADM and Cargyle, all under the “green” moniker.

    Wake up America!


    May 9, 2008 at 9:08 am

  4. Hey everybody, get back on a bike and loose that lard on your hind end! Gas at $8 a gallon will make it ESSENTIAL.

    $8 a gallon is on its way! Goodbye Hummers, F400’s, and all of that useless crap.


    May 9, 2008 at 9:11 am

  5. $8 gas will make far away suburbs GHOST TOWNS.

    Its the perfect storm.. many of these suburbs in California (like Westin Ranch in Stockton CA) are already DEAD due to the greed of Bankers. $8 will make sure these kinds of subdivisions NEVER recover. But hey, that means the Bankers are F’d LOL! Thank the chimp in the whitehouse!


    May 9, 2008 at 9:15 am

  6. I was not referring to people who use their vehicles extensively or professionally. A typical medium car (say a Camry) costs the typical about about $1.12 a mile to operate before prices rose, now it would be about $1.32 a mile and gas is still less than 25% of the operating cost. Someone however who drives their vehicle far more than the typical vehicle owner is going to be hurting though, and I should have made that clear.

    Vehicle Operating Costs


    May 9, 2008 at 10:10 am

  7. ET, I think you need to consider that not everyone can ride a bike all the time. I ride mine every day, but I’m in a prime location to do so, I’m healthy, young, and live in a place that is bike-friendly with good weather. Blaming high gas prices totally on Bush is stupid. SUV’s are easy targets but our real concern should be trains, planes, and 18 wheelers. The price of gas is a major problem and scoffing at soccer moms driving SUV’s is like attempting to cure cancer with neosporin.


    May 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  8. The world has plenty of food, ET. It’s just that a lot of it is rotting in storehouses in the good ol’ U.S. of A.–or ends up thrown in the trash, again, in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Unfortunately, when it comes to food, we are not one world. We are “this country has this much, that country has that much, and if that other country over there doesn’t have enough, while we have too much, oh well.” Ugly, but there it is, along with our ever-increasing waistlines.


    May 9, 2008 at 3:56 pm

  9. Bill, Bush has destroyed the dollar with his policies, so it is totally appropriate to blame him.

    – endless wars funded by borrowing
    – no bid contracts to the VPs “ex” company Halliburton
    – 9 BILLION IN CASH MISSING IN IRAQ (but who is counting Bill?)
    – Directing the Fed to lend like drunk sailors to UNQUALIFIED borrowers..
    – the “Great Recession” we are in but the Chimp says is a ‘soft-patch’ LOL!
    – a DOUBLING of the deficit under the Bush years
    – I can go on..

    we are majorly F’d due to the last 8 years of Bush’s Disneyland.

    I can go on Bill if the picture is not clearing up for you.

    Start you Victory garden cause you are going to need it.


    May 10, 2008 at 7:48 am

  10. Terri, I agree there is plenty of SOME food types here in the USA.
    Bush’s ‘corn fuel’ welfare handouts to ‘farmers’ (MAJOR AGRIBUSINESS) has distorted the market of what is planted. Have you checked the price of wheat?

    We have the illusion of plenty, there really isnt.
    Please read up on our grain supplies (excluding corn).

    Burning food makes no sense unless you are on the receiving end of a government handout (borrowed money BTW). Accepting the handout is as criminal as offering it.

    The US should be in major big S**T by late fall. The illusionists are assisted by a populous who dont want the truth. That will only work so long…

    America is BROKE(n)


    May 10, 2008 at 8:00 am

  11. About Soccer Moms,

    They will just have to cut back eventually.

    As a kid, I do not recall the kind of sports/traveling fervor there is today. Driving all over creation to “beat” other teams is kinda creepy to me personally. These are not the mothers of 30 years ago.

    So they will just HAVE to change BACK to being closer to home on the weekends instead of driving from Redding to Fresno in a weekend to ‘beat’ a team.

    Its called living within your means, Yes they deserve the blame if they are sitting behind the wheel !


    May 10, 2008 at 8:11 am

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