refocus

It is time to refocus my energies on writing. The moose’s extensive daily information trawling, and resultant blogging, will cease for a time, or at the least pull back drastically for a while.

If the world ends, I suspect the rioting mob in the street shall inform me, though it is a very peaceful hillside upon which I look out.

For those who will feel a void, here is a rundown of what I regularly read for news and information in the absence of TV and papers. All are linkied on the sidebar. All reward daily visits.

In no particular order:

Technorati: updated every few hours. The top thirty news stories being linked to by blogs listed on Technorati. American centric but a reasonable snapshot of the zeitgeist.

Cryptogon: regularly updated blog focussing on politics, economics, and how fucked we are. He’s totally outdoing my efforts in this area. Hugely recommended.

Cabal: an RSS catcher for a set of diverse blogs, including Kurzweil AI. Can be hit and miss, but a lot of gold.

Technoccult: for all your high weirdness, the occult, sex, drugs, liberty, mad science, cults, fringe culture needs. Excellent stuff.

Disinformation: long standing countercultural/fringe everything site, now an open source blog. Politics, crazy shit, counterculture, whatever.

What Does It Mean
: The motherlode. If I’m feeling brave I read this daily. Roughly 30 headlines per day for each of USA, Russia, China, England, France, Germany, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Venezuala, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, the UN, Japan, India, Pakistan and Australia. It’s probably best to avoid the articles written by the site, as they seem a bit paranoid/batshit, but as a collection service for world news on one page, it’s pretty extraordinary.

Oh, and through my LJ I get No Right Turn for NZ political stuff and Juan Cole’s Informed Comment for Middle East/US stuff (though to be honest that is mostly too depressing to read.)

Metafilter and Whitechapel if I get bored/have time on my hands.

A lot of the rest of my sidebar are very specific info sources, and while totally awesome, don’t get daily love. And I’m not counting friend’s blogs as news, though they can be.

Kia kaha, kids.

The moose shall return.

content free Sunday

Outside the rain is close to horizontal. Inside my breath is steam clouds.

Yay for alpaca wool cloaks.

Scientists project there will be no ice at the north pole this year

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

link

the way things are going

Someone asked me the other night how long I thought it would be until Things Fell Apart. I replied something like “It is really hard to judge since the situation and system is one of massive interdependence and complexity. Who knows what will turn out to be the crucial link to fail that causes something else to fail that leads to chaos.”

This article – US retailers to close hundreds of stores – is to me a major sign on the way things are going.

HIGH AND RISING world oil and food prices, the implosion of the US housing bubble and the ensuing consumer credit vapour lock have cash-strapped US consumers staying out of retail stores in droves, and this is forcing dozens of US retailers to close hundreds of stores.

Information technology related companies that are closing stores include CompUSA going out of business, Sprint Nextel closing 125 locations, Movie Gallery closing 560 movie rental outlets, and bankrupt Sharper Image shutting down 90 to 180 stores.

Other retailers shutting down shops are: Ann Taylor, 117 stores; Eddie Bauer, 29 stores; Cache, 20 to 23 stores; Lane Bryant, 150 stores; Talbots, 100 stores; Gap, 85 stores; Foot Locker, 140 stores; Wickes going out of business; Levitz going out of business; Zales, 105 stores; Disney, 98 stores; Home Depot, 15 stores; Macy’s, 9 stores; Pep Boys, 33 stores; Ethan Allen, 12 stores; Wilsons, 158 stores; Pacific Sunwear, 228 stores; Bombay Company, 384 stores; KB Toys, 356 stores; and Dillards, six stores. Sheesh kebab!

America is the centre of the global economy. Most of the crap the world makes goes to America to buy. And Americans are stopping buying, and Americans are losing their jobs, so they won’t have any money to buy. This spiral goes down. The rollercoaster is feeling gravity’s pull. Hold on to your hats. Think hard about what you are doing. Make changes.

As we head to global economic chaos, it is worth noting that world conditions in the Great Depression of the 30’s were very different. Then we had massive reserves of cheap energy – now we don’t (or at least, don’t have the infrastructure to use the renewable energies available to us) – with which to rebuild. Then they had a stable climate – now we face the reality of massive disturbances to crops, weather, and sea level. Then they had two billion people. Now we are closing on seven billion. That’s a lot more people to keep provisioned with life sustaining stuff.

I remain optimistic – in the most general sense, we currently have enough resources to make the planet rock for everyone, if only we did things really differently, starting right now – however some days do seem darker than others. And the fact of a fundamentally broken economic system based on illusion, a fundamentally unsustainable approach to resource use and the planet, and an incompetent corporate owned media that will have to face its total failure as a means to inform people in democracy – that these things will collapse in on themselves, while causing a mess, provides us with the opportunity to replace them with better systems. And we are free to do this. In crisis lies opportunity. This is the source of my optimism. For the unfolding crisis is upon us.

The moose has a red wine hangover after a delightfully unexpected reconnection with my favourite Squirrel. Yay for awesome people.

Meanwhile, the world does not stop for the hungover.

Leading climate scientist makes call to put heads of oil companies on trial for crimes against humanity:

James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.
[…]
“When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that’s a crime.”
[…]
“The problem is not political will, it’s the alligator shoes – the lobbyists. It’s the fact that money talks in Washington, and that democracy is not working the way it’s intended to work.”

The moose concurs that deliberately lying, knowingly damaging the planet, and the potential for human survival is a crime. For anyone curious about the anatomy and extent of corporate greenwashing and propaganda in this area, Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism by Sharon Beder remains an excellent account.

This is a pretty interesting interview on the American economy: “The Game Is Over, There Won’t be a Rebound”

In economic terms America today is in as optimum a position as it is can be. That’s actually bad news because an optimum position is, mathematically speaking, one in which you can’t move without making your situation worse. This is the position we’re in now, and it’s already as good as it can get. There’s nowhere to move, at least within the existing structure. The market can’t be stabilized, because it was based on fictitious prices to begin with. It’s hard to impose fiction on reality for very long. The rest of the world has woken up although not Congress, it seems. In times past, bankruptcy would have wiped out the bad debts. The problem with such write-offs is that bad the savings that have been steered into bad loans must follow suit and go by the boards. But today, the very wealthy hold most of the savings, so the government doesn’t want to let them take a loss. It would rather wipe out pensioners, consumers, workers, industrial companies and foreign investors. So debts will be kept on the books and the economy will slowly be strangled by debt deflation. The U.S. can¹t reduce its balance-of-payments deficit without scaling back its military spending.

{moose’s emphasis}

Ten audacious ideas to save the planet, ranging from the smart (Launch giant solar panels into orbit and send limitless clean energy back to Earth) to the bizarre (Capture 90,000 tons of urine every day from the world’s billion pigs and recycle it into plastic plates).

Just how stupid are we?

Juan Cole provides this article about Rick Shenkman‘s book Just How Stupid Are We? Facing The Truth About the American Voter.

Quoting at length:

I do not wish to engage in a debate about the Iraq War. But the thought of planting a largely Christian army in the middle of the Muslim Middle East over the opposition of most countries in the region, when put as I have just put it, sounds daft. Why did it not ring bells of alarm to Americans in 2003 and after, especially as it became clear that our troops would be staying a long time and that no quick victory was possible? It did not because the administration saw to it that the issue was framed differently. We weren’t planting an army. We were spreading God’s miraculous gift of freedom to a benighted people very much in need of America’s missionary help. It was the triumph of myth over logic.

Why were Americans so susceptible to myth? Foreign policy specialists don’t usually spend a lot of time reflecting on this question. They should. It’s the key to what often goes wrong when foreign policy issues become the subject of public debate.

The answer is, I’m afraid, simple. Myths count more than facts in these debates because Americans don’t know many facts and don’t care to take the time to learn them. Unlike subjects with which they have first-hand experience–think gas prices–matters related to foreign countries are both exotic and incomprehensible to most Americans. This leaves them sitting ducks for wily pols who want to take advantage of their ignorance by playing on fear and patriotism.

The extent of Americans’ ignorance is underestimated. Only two in five know we have three branches of government and can name them. Only one in five know there are 100 US senators. And five years into the war in Iraq only one in seven can find Iraq on a map. Someone once said–the author is in dispute–that war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. It’s a great line, but rather optimistic. A majority of Americans still haven’t bothered to take a look at the map of the country where we have been bombing and killing people since 1991.

[…]

To be sure the public eventually turned against Mr. Bush’s war in Iraq. The one thing the public usually gets is success and failure. And Mr. Bush’s war has been a spectacular failure when judged against all of the many measures by which he has asked us to judge it.

As we head into the Fall campaign and listen to the debates about the war we should keep in mind the limits of public opinion. If we don’t begin to address the problem of gross public ignorance there will be more Iraqs.

[moose’s emphasis]

As readers will perhaps be able to deduce, I greatly enjoy the bald stating of things, and tip my hat to Mr Shenkman for having the balls to stand up and say it. Facing how things are is a necessary prerequisite to changing things for the better. He then goes on to analyse the methods of manipulation, and what can be done.

This comes somewhat serendipitiously for me, as one of the recent lyrics I wrote for my solo project is “I can’t believe we’re all gonna die ‘cos Americans are stupid”. 🙂

the moose is back in town

Back in town. Have good space, nice flatmate and cat. Excellent to have space and autonomy again.

[Edit: holy shit, just realised this is my 4th home in 6 months. Has been a strange year.]

An odd long midwinter night. Was good to go dancing. Man, I really ought to go dancing more.

Here are some interesting people’s reading lists, which are full of some interesting books,

one more sleep

until the moose is back in town (more or less).

Farming with dynamite

such fun we shall have.

today's interweb trawl

From the scary

Legal Drugs Kill More Than illegal Drugs

An analysis of autopsies in 2007 released this week by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that the rate of deaths caused by prescription drugs was three times the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined.

Law enforcement officials said that the shift toward prescription-drug abuse, which began here about eight years ago, showed no sign of letting up and that the state must do more to control it.

Funky serendipity here as I was reading (incidentally) about iaotrogenic deaths in a book on epigenetics late last night, and this confirms the claims about numbers… although some question as to underlying causation. Hmm.. typing aloud. Hee hee.

…to the bizarre

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), leading candidate for Republican VP may have participated in exorcism:

We’ve discovered that in an essay Jindal wrote in 1994 for the New Oxford Review, a serious right-wing Catholic journal, Jindal narrated a bizarre story of a personal encounter with a demon, in which he participated in an exorcism with a group of college friends. And not only did they cast out the supernatural spirit that had possessed his friend, Jindal wrote that he believes that their ritual may well have cured her cancer.

You know, that actually may make him more qualified… (His own account of it is here, though you’d have to pay to read all of it…)

… to the beautiful

Pictures of the sky… from higher in the sky. Very pretty and mindboggly.

And the awesome. Free Rice. A game where every time you get a right answer, they donate twenty grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. And the game is about defining words. Perfect for me at least. Though the words get tricky. Whee. Just donated 1000 grains of rice with a best vocab level of 44.

Maybe spread that last one around, people. (Oh yeah, and the hunger site still exists… one click a day gives food to the hungry… probably more relevant than ever.)

I love it when the interweb does stuff like this

Does anyone have a high quality colour printer? I’d quite like this on a t-shirt, or at least as a wee poster…

bucky

(from changethought (who also have an Obama one), via the ever fabulous technoccult)

And hey, while we’re indulging in Bucky love, here’s a quote:

“When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

Which I think says better than I did what I was trying to say the other day/week/whenever, Morgue.

Next Page »