Monday, May 3, 2010

Food for Thought from "Plan B" by Lester Brown

Enjoy your iPhone. Here are the pink elves who assembled it...

If China follows the U.S. trend of having 3 cars for every 4 people then by 2030 China alone will have 1.1 billion cars. That would require 98 million barrels of oil per day so the Chinese can commute to work making Hannah Montana reunion tour memorabilia. That would exceed world oil production. Of course, that's a big "if". The Chinese are the plantation slaves of the west right now and interestingly enough they've been sold into slavery by their own government (there has to be a devious plan behind it all). Offered a chance to make money it turns out if they work a 60 hour week they will save money on only the last few hours. If they ever get sick or hurt the entire plan crumbles and they will be working out of debt for years. If they get sick twice then they're probably reduced to ash. And if everything works out perfectly they basically live on an assembly line like the one above for a few years before they can buy their freedom back. That doesn't really work for me at all. No part of that is acceptable. I'm repulsed by every facet of that production paradigm. Never mind the forced prison labor I just read about. It's absolutely no different than a cotton plantation in 1830.

If this isn't nihilism at work, man as robot, then what is it? And if our purpose on earth is to assemble electronics, reproduce so our children can assemble electronics, die, then please show me the nearest exit. I see all the technology around me and agree that renewing my library books online is an enormous time-saver, a god send, but holy shit! Is it worth shoveling souls into a coal chamber? Or do we have souls? Am I deluded? Are we all Apple employees yet?

Here's a self portrait of my Ego right now:

I've said this before that the most civilized era was 400 B.C. Athens, Greece. Yes, there was war and slavery but holy god they at least made an effort to be individually magnificent.

I'm not even through the preface of Plan B and I'm going mad. I can understand ignorance. I'm dumb most of the time. But when I see a problem I address it. The prevailing political approach to problems has been the opposite of addressing them. At a time when gasoline prices in the States should be around $15 a gallon and rising, the prices go down below $3. How is this possible? Ignorance? No, no, it's willful manipulation of the market using debt as collateral, banking on a collapse of the world economy before we have to pay the money back. The idea is to enable Americans to race NASCAR and drive cars with 6 mpg, cheaply, because once it's gone then it's gone and we might as well be the ones to use it. And once currency has no value then the I.O.Us we gave China can be burned to keep them warm. Lester calls these "Market Distortions"

I've read counterarguments to this and it still all comes down to spirituality. If you are a nihilist/existentialist then yes, a person may spend their lives assembling Xbox joysticks and that's good enough. It doesn't matter because once we die we're dead and the important thing is to live as well as possible today. We may eradicate Arctic wolves and it just proves they weren't fit enough to live. They didn't adapt! It's their fault! They were living on top of oil and we have to have NASCAR! But if you are a hopeless romantic like me then Hell hath been realized.

The silver lining:
The wind farms, electric cars, agricultural innovations and communication methods are almost enough to enable Americans to live as selfishly wasteful as we're accustomed. (I'd really like to see the Latino field workers refuse to work in Arizona just to see what happens but the money there compared to Mexico is irresistible.) Even Plan B is optimistic about the potential based on previous innovations. We're a crafty animal and the tide is turning toward sustainability. It will be too late for some animals and the Arctic wolf might be out of luck but other animals will be spared. It only took 100 years to generate this crisis... I...
I'm losing interest in this essay.

When I was in La Paz playing jazz with a group of retired architects one of the guys had his special song called "Frim Fram Sauce" he was the sax player and he only sang this song. It was his signature tune. Well, I'd never heard this song until I played with that group and I listened to it and thought, "That's a great song."

But what is Frim Fram Sauce or Chafafa, or Auchantay? I figured I was just hopelessly modern and everyone born before 1950 would know what these dishes were. Or maybe they're regional to New Orleans. Well, it turns out they don't exist. The story goes a man brought his date to a nice restaurant and he couldn't afford anything on the menu so he said, "I don't want french fried potatoes, red ripe tomatoes, I'm never satisfied. I want the frim fram sauce..." See?
And the waiter obviously said, "I'm sorry, sir. We don't have that."
And the guy said, "What? You don't have chafafa? No frim fram sauce? What kind of a restaurant is this? Honey, let's go to a more hip locale. Excuse us."
So he could leave with dignity. The singer in La Paz never said the last line of the song which would've explained this. The last line is, "If you don't have it then bring me the check."

That's the story at least and it demonstrates that everything associated with Jazz is classy and rich with humanity and drama. I apologize for the earlier rant. My neck hurts. This is my balm. Tonight I ate a Frim Fram burger with Quinoa.

Fort Stark

Wednesday is Fort Stark volunteer day and unless some miracle happens and I get a job I'll be there in the morning. All are welcome! It's a little strange since I was trying to break into the coast guard station a few days ago and the project they want to work on is trying to blockade the coast guard station from trespassers. So, it's a conflict of interests but maybe I can work on landscaping instead of the fence.

Here's a clever sculpture at Ordione's Point.

I have a few dozen pictures that I want to post as an album. Or should I doll them out one at a time? I have a love affair with this Fort so we'll see. The picture below is something I remember vividly. That gun was still there in 1980.

This picture is for Hobo Joe in S.F. because he loves vintage fonts so much. This is as vintage as it gets, a hand painted label on a storage room door frame calling it a Paint Locker. I'd never seen it before because it is almost pitch black in that hallway and unless you have a flashlight and look at the ceiling then you'll never see this sign.

I'd say the font is from the '50s or '60s but it could be older. The fort didn't really operate after WWII so it could be as early as 1940. Next time I talk to Becky I'll ask her when this place closed down. She's been here since 1960 so she must know all the trivia.

Here's a picture of something you don't see much, a cemetery with only a few residents. It's brand new and located on New Castle at Ordione Point. Kind of a strange location but if you've lived in New Castle then that's where you want to be buried and there's only one other cemetery by the back bay that's got no vacancy. So they landscaped an area near the entrance and are laying to rest the dearly departed.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.