« The Gracious Cynic »

I've already told you what a life I've been leading this last month. But it pales in comparison with everything coming out of Katrina land, which also seems to be bringing peak oil on even faster than welcome. And more revelations of how utterly useless and despicable this administration is, and damn near everyone and everything we've come to rely on is failing us. Even for prophets like me with some disturbing visions, this is scary mainly because it's a lot of crazy scenarios coming true. People who know about my peak oil awareness efforts have been asking me if this is "it." Is this peak oil, they wonder? Yeah, and a whole lot more, it seems. It's just stunning how unrelenting the news has been lately.

Yesterday I met and had dinner with a fellow named Graeme Elliott who is in his mid 70s or so and has been prodding me to do more and more peak oil and post carbon awareness efforts. His encouragement led me to do the EONSNOW site and the movie showings, and anything else I do, like contact some media, or just be a mouthpiece for the various topics that relate. Anyhow, Graeme is a veteran in the progressive causes, with the leading causes being nuke disarmament and freeze in the 80s, and also economic conversion from a military economy to a peace economy. He happened onto peak oil last year, like I did, and we met this April.

We went to an Italian restaurant this time and it occurred to me, and was forceful enough to honor it, that this meal could be among the best I will enjoy before all sorts of uncertainty sweeps across this country and the world as oil and gas go their unpredictable routes as they both deplete and leave us with a huge question mark over our conventional ideas of food production and distribution. One has to wonder how many miles the various items on my plate traveled before they met their fate on my dinner plate. Or how much natural gas and oil went into their production? And the cooking? Is this something that will carry on in this wonderfully consumeristic fashion? Before we got down to eating, I told Graeme, 'I just want to stop and appreciate this meal, while we are still able to eat like kings.' With that, I stopped to marvel at what a task it is to put that food on the plate before me. And I also quivered with a little guilt and fear that I barely know a damn thing about how to put it there if this massive industrial food production apparatus should be crippled and ultimately die. So I gave thanks.

As we sat and ate like kings, neither of us could escape the utter horror that is the fate of the Birthplace of Jazz, now under a few stories of water. For a suburban white boy from the drought-ridden southwest, it's impossible to comprehend a city under water. I've been to New Orleans once in late 1996 when I worked for Mike Keneally's tour. I remember it being a great place laden with REAL funk in every sense of the word. I got there a few weeks after a stop in the other sin city (Las Vegas) and remember N'awlins being vastly more impressive and honest than Vegas which seemed like a big contrived cartoon of a place which had no tradition or soul to it at all but for that of a capitalist. In N'awlins, me and the Keneally/Vai band and crew ran around and shot pool and drank beer till 7:30 in the morning, all in just a couple of places which now I can't remember. I just remember having one of the best times on the tour in N'awlins, with all the fun simply starting AFTER the show ended and was struck. Maybe at midnight or later before we prowled the empty streets in the late autumn. I have some pix of me on Bourbon street and one of Bryan Beller when we traded places (see Bryan Beller's journal of the tour). He and I were eating gumbo at a restaurant when he stopped to leave a phone message for the Keneally fans who were then using the still-new and exciting Keneally presence on the web. My memories of New Orleans are good, and I'm glad I got to see it before it became Atlantis. Like Atlantis, it was a cultured city. I think it was one of only a few American cities that had any genuine culture that set it apart and made it world class. I wonder if the ghosts of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet are going to be wandering around there now.

I read something very disturbing as I waited for Graeme. In Michael Ruppert's book, Crossing the Rubicon, the author makes a somewhat puzzling comment about the current administration's understanding that a post peak oil era will very likely have to have a severe reduction in population back to what the earth could support without the meddling of fossil fuel derived fertilizers, pesticides, and the production machinery to grow and harvest all that food. He says that humans will have to revert somehow to a population of two billion or less. And, this is where it gets scary when I think about it (I've subscribed to the dieoff idea for a year or more now, so that's not a brutal as this new idea of how this dieoff could be brought on by those who don't concern themselves with life). The book says that the administration knows what is going on, and perhaps this awareness informs their decision to let 3000 die on 9/11, or all these war deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or, now that a new crisis is upon us in the southeastern US, is it worth noting that NOT doing much in the way of rescue efforts is sort of a hands off way of letting the population shrink in a "natural disaster"? Pardon the deep cynicism, but I think Ruppert might be onto something here.

Think about it. Everyone knows the usual ways nature can reset itself when a species overshoots the carrying capacity of its host. There are floods, fires, earthquakes, disease, famine, cannibalism, miscarriage (spontaneous abortion), and other things of those sorts that can bring a population into line with reality. Humans have the unique ability to enhance that list to include war and violence, abortion-on-demand, infanticide, euthanasia, and our project for the last century: destroying the natural world segment by segment by turning everything into a commodity or waste dump in the name of profit and power. The fascists in power operate in a perfectly corporate fashion (after all, fascism is just the merger between government and corporation). That is to say, since a corporation relies on externalizing as many costs of doing business ("leave that work/expense for someone or something else outside our company"), who is to say that a hurricane is not a golden opportunity to let someone or something outside the company do a little work that would be rather expensive or too objectionable to the public if the company (government in this case) were to undertake the project itself? A hurricane is not on the payroll, and its effects can be "spun" to appear to be totally unanticipated. Ditto a tsunami.

It is outside of reason to think that a little God-given death would be handy when you are faced with peak oil and its population crash? Is it not within reason to ask why so many "brown people" (as George Carlin would say) are not prioritized in rescue efforts? It might take a lot of money to kill all those brown people with guns, and that might look bad come next election season, but delaying or not sending a competent relief effort or diverting funds from the levee project? What could be better? These fuckheads can appeal to their base by reducing the size of government and not giving "hand outs" for people who should know better than to weather the storm. I have to wonder now. Is the whole "culture of life" line a 100% Orwellian thing? The republo-fascists are the party of death. Start war. Do their best to ignore or downplay the natural tragedies which interestingly take out a good number of poor brown people. These fuckheads don't mind making folks suffer, do they? I just have to wonder how much of a population reduction they would be able to take credit for. After all, somehow, we got four BILLION people to knock off before things can settle down. What new and clever ways of letting people die, or killing them can these assholes come up with?

It all saddens and shocks me to think that now our government has assumed the role of God in deciding who lives and dies. The thing that bends my mind is that they want to preserve life for a generation who would grow up to have only the table scraps of our glory days, but want to look the other way when it comes to the living. If anything, they should be cooking up every way to allow birth control and abortion so that fewer mouths ever come into existence because the last thing humans need is more mouths to feed. I think there should be varied and wonderfully liberal options about end of life matters. Humans need to depopulate with willful intent. War is not good enough. It is not compassionate. Allowing people to die naturally is desperately needed, but neglecting the needs of survivors of a natural disaster is not compassionate. Allowing people to die willfully is desperately needed, but driving them to commit suicide by destroying their friends, family, economy, and hopes is not compassionate.

No one likes to think that their ostensible protector would be responsible for not just failing but abandoning that role, but in this time of Orwell-as-prophet, I don't rule out a lot of crazy scenarios.

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