cartoon by the extraordinary Will McPhail
I love Will McPhail’s work. The mole in this cartoon could represent any of the ‘sides’ or actors in any of the current wars. Of course there are atrocities, and it’s tempting to take sides, or to write off both ‘sides’ as bad actors. But there is always IMO a reason for behaviours, even atrocities, and they are almost never because the perpetrator is ‘pure evil’ or ‘insane’. We are playing out our collective trauma, accumulated, intensified, and kept alive by propaganda, by proxy wars and genocides. We need not condone or condemn it. An atrocity is an atrocity. Trying to understand the horrific trauma and the resultant conditioning that underlies it is, I believe, important. Not to excuse it. Not to pass judgement on it. Just to understand it.
Because, as this trauma plays out, distracting us from the existential crises facing our collapsing systems and our global civilization, and increasing the destruction and damage that has largely precipitated that collapse, the pace of collapse is rapidly increasing, and the risk of a ‘nuclear’ acceleration of that collapse looms ever larger. And the people with the most power to at least decelerate this collapse, are, as a consequence of their own trauma and conditioning, not even trying to understand.
One day we will see all this, and wish we could have done otherwise.
(Thanks as usual to John Whiting for many of the links below.)
so much for limiting global warming to 1.5º…
… and the warming of our oceans is even worse. These charts are both from NOAA as noted.
But it looks good on paper: Tim Morgan explains, again, why ‘renewable’ energy can’t help us, and how ‘financialization’ distorting economic indicators is masking the economic collapse we’re now facing.
Hey I thought hydro power was ‘renewable’: Turns out the ongoing BC drought is reducing the ‘yield’ of hydro dams (perhaps permanently), requiring the import of expensive fossil fuels to make up the difference.
And 2B climate refugees to follow: NPR recaps the pressure cooker at the US’ southern border, and in the streets as more and more immigrants swell the homeless numbers, and as Biden expands border wall construction. This can’t end well. And Canada’s population is soaring, entirely as a result of immigration; conservatives here want it stopped. We don’t deal with the underlying predicaments; we just keep on trying to treat the symptoms.
And the governments and ‘experts’ remain clueless and incompetent: “Something must be done, now”, we keep hearing, as more and more charts like the ones above keep appearing. But it’s starting to dawn on more and more people that nothing is being, or will be, done.
I was quite astonished by this chart from Statista, that shows US users’ time spent/day on various ‘social media’ sites. It seems pretty clear that (1) most people now go online for entertainment, not (mis-)information, (2) more and more people are finding X and FB to be annoyances (“I have to go on FB every day to wish people happy birthday or they’ll feel I’m snubbing them”), and (3) if you exclude ‘idle time’ usage spent while riding in cars, on public transit and in restaurants from the numbers above, Farcebook and X, which do absolutely nothing well, would seem to be pretty much finished. Yay!
More democracy than you might think: In an article from 2020, the Davids of The Dawn of Everything fame argue that the ‘west’ (ie Europeans) didn’t invent democracy, and that it has been around and worked just fine in many cultures throughout the world since there have been cultures.
How to reduce opioid poisonings: How about prescribing more clean opioids?
Tā, thank you very much: A six-second solution to the nonsense about ‘preferred pronouns’.
Hank Green is not optimistic: But he is understanding, and forgiving, and believes we all are, and that we are doing OK under the circumstances.
Barbara Lee is still anti-war: The California congresswoman, opposed to all of the US’ 21st-century wars, continues the good fight. (Paywalled.) Thanks to Gerry Gras for the link.
…and in the good news: Jezebel is back.
POLITICS AND ECONOMICS AS USUAL
Mohammed El-Kurd created this Bullshit Bingo card for the Israeli government’s defence of its genocide of Palestinians at The Hague, and marked the terms he heard in just 20 minutes of their ‘testimony’; from his post on X.
Bringing it all back home: So, let’s bring in enough immigrants that we seem compassionate. But no, we can’t afford to spend money helping them find work and housing here. So they end up abandoned and ignored in hopeless, crime-ridden ghettos. And we wonder why no one’s happy.
About the Resistance movement in the Middle East: A series of hard-to-read (and a bit strident) but important in-depth articles by Indrajit Samarajiva about how the genocide in Palestine is galvanizing resistance across the Middle East:
Corpocracy, Imperialism & Fascism: Short takes:
- How efforts to keep Trump off the ballot could backfire.
- Biden continues the Trump boycott/embargo of Cuba
- Activist faces 20-year sentence for rescuing abused animals
- Even the US, UK and EU draw the line at the abuses committed by Israel’s West Bank ‘settlers’, but not Canada
- Toronto police arrest man waving PFLP flag for “terrorism”
- Some immigrants to Canada are fed up and looking for better treatment in other countries
- Gonzalo Lira, an American citizen, has died in a Ukrainian prison where he was repeatedly tortured for criticizing Zalenskyy. Meanwhile the proxy war grinds on as the country devolves into chaos.
Misinformation and Disinformation: Short takes:
- FAIR defends embattled university leaders from, and castigates the NYT and other mainstream media for false charges of antisemitism (thanks to Gerry Gras for the link)
Exemplary Tales of Incompetence: Short takes:
- BC Coroner quits in protest over government’s inaction on drug poisonings
- Next door in bible-belt Alberta, they just flog privatized “abstinence only” solutions
- Peru and Ecuador want US help to deal with drug cartels (Oh no!)
- Germany’s governing ‘moderate’ coalition supports the US and Israel unequivocally as its own economy collapses
- And CoVid-19 soldiers on, still the 5th leading cause of death in most countries in 2023, as officials pretend it doesn’t exist anymore
FUN AND INSPIRATION
a redwing blackbird protects its territory from a barn owl; photo taken in Florida by Neo Morpheus for the Macaulay Library
Gravity is not a force. Huh?: Sabine explains what tht means. Fascinating, counter-intuitive, and slightly mind-blowing.
Words to avoid in 2024: Lake Superior state U. releases its annual cringe-worthy list of new words we wish we’d never heard. Wait for it. Sadly, most of the 2023 and earlier years’ lists ‘banned’ words are still (over-)used.
All By Myself no more: Critics analyze Rachmaninoff’s little-known fourth piano concerto and argue it’s his best.
Writing music like John Williams: Nahre Sol explores the reasons why the film score writer is so popular.
Got it on the first take: Japan’s First Take is a brilliant series of (hundreds of) unembellished in-studio performances by (mostly) Japanese pop artists. You can really get a sense of the vocal nuance and harmonies in the music from these. Examples: XG’s Shooting Star and Winter Without You.
Remix!: American indie musician Iniko put together a little a cappella rap called Jericho, and then shopped it to musicians of various genres to remix it, with some amazing results. The song is very controversial (there’s a subreddit just for haters), but I’m guessing much of that is because of its swagger (it would have attracted less attention if it came from a male rapper). My favourite remix is a Haitian kompa version with DJ Inno and DJ Chad.
For fans of Radical Non-Duality: A particularly good interview with Kenneth Madden.
That just won’t fly: I wasn’t aware that Indrajit Samarajiva (see links to his other work in earlier section above) is something of an engineering expert, and has written extensively about the design failures of the 737 MAX and what they have wrought. It’s a good case study, he says, in how and why the US got to the point they can no longer manufacture anything competently. Competence — the capacity to produce a high quality, safe product — is apparently not profitable anymore.
Silicon Valley goes woo, again: It would seem that the tech gurus (like some collapnsniks) have abandoned the religion of rationalism and are embracing the kind of wonky ‘spirituality’ that gave rise to dangerous woo-woo cults like EST and Landmark Forum a generation ago. Just what we need, some more “magical thinking”. Thanks to Paul Heft for the link.
The germiest place in your gym: Nope, it’s not the treadmill or the dumbbell, it’s the yoga mat — and the shower.
THOUGHTS OF THE MONTH
photo by Cory Doctorow from Flickr; taken in Hungary; CC BY-SA 2.0
From PS Pirro, from Solstice II:
I worked on letting go of my grievances.
From the Latin, gravare, grave, to make heavy.
Sharing a root with grief,
which is everywhere, in multitudes.
Grievance is a burden.
A grudge against the world,
against what is, after all, just what is.
Lay your burden down,
say all the great spiritual teachers.
Right there would be good. By the curb,
where the trash truck can take it away on Wednesday.
Lots of Wednesdays in a year.
Lots of opportunity to let that shit go.
Last month, over Thanksgiving weekend,
I shuffled the Tarot deck, drew the Three of Cups.
An invitation: celebrate with friends and family.
So I took myself on a walk in the woods.
Today it rained,
and the squirrels chased one another across the roof.
Hello friends. It’s been a while.
From John Muir: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
From actor Katja Herbers, lamenting all the attention the pop superstar and her new NFL football star beau are attracting: “I wish Taylor Swift was in love with a climate scientist.”
From Jonathan Franzen‘s 2011 commencement speech:
Finally, in the mid-1990s, I made a conscious decision to stop worrying about the environment. There was nothing meaningful that I personally could do to save the planet, and I wanted to get on with devoting myself to the things I loved. I still tried to keep my carbon footprint small, but that was as far as I could go without falling back into rage and despair.
BUT then a funny thing happened to me. It’s a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. I did this not without significant resistance, because it’s very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool. But little by little, in spite of myself, I developed this passion, and although one-half of a passion is obsession, the other half is love.
And so, yes, I kept a meticulous list of the birds I’d seen, and, yes, I went to inordinate lengths to see new species. But, no less important, whenever I looked at a bird, any bird, even a pigeon or a robin, I could feel my heart overflow with love. And love, as I’ve been trying to say today, is where our troubles begin.
Because now, not merely liking nature but loving a specific and vital part of it, I had no choice but to start worrying about the environment again. The news on that front was no better than when I’d decided to quit worrying about it — was considerably worse, in fact — but now those threatened forests and wetlands and oceans weren’t just pretty scenes for me to enjoy. They were the home of animals I loved.
And here’s where a curious paradox emerged. My anger and pain and despair about the planet were only increased by my concern for wild birds, and yet, as I began to get involved in bird conservation and learned more about the many threats that birds face, it became easier, not harder, to live with my anger and despair and pain.
How does this happen? I think, for one thing, that my love of birds became a portal to an important, less self-centered part of myself that I’d never even known existed. Instead of continuing to drift forward through my life as a global citizen, liking and disliking and withholding my commitment for some later date, I was forced to confront a self that I had to either straight-up accept or flat-out reject.
Which is what love will do to a person. Because the fundamental fact about all of us is that we’re alive for a while but will die before long. This fact is the real root cause of all our anger and pain and despair. And you can either run from this fact or, by way of love, you can embrace it.
When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.
And who knows what might happen to you then?