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Seeing Stars

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Published : September 12th, 2011
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Category : Editorials





 I don't want to be party pooper, but is it possible that all the 9/11 remembrance hoopla was a kind of weekend refuge from reality for this psychologically spavined nation? Memorializing is easy; acting resolutely in the here-and-now is another matter. To me, the various 9/11 doings that radiated out over the media gave off an indecent odor of triumphalism - a correspondent of mine referred to it as "self-important histrionics." We seem to put on these shows because we don't know what else to do, and because the only truly effective homegrown industry left in the USA is public relations, the business of making your own reality.

The trouble is that reality accepts no substitutes (as the old ad jingle goes). It does its thing regardless of whether you acknowledge it or not. I was in Mexico City mid-week and sojourned behind the Zocolo at the ruins of the Templo Mayor, headquarters of the New World's champion people-eater, Huitzilopochtli, a bad-ass muthafucka of a god if ever there was one. The Aztecs had everything going for them except their reality, at the center of which was this bloodthirsty hallucinated monster demanding fresh beating hearts by the hundred-weight. And so, consumed by this insane myth, a half a million of them allowed themselves to be destroyed by three hundred adventurers from Spain.

Strange to relate, the environs of the ruined pyramid was the most tranquil spot in the entire super-gigantic permanent catastrophe of Mexico City. Old Huitzee would like these times, I thought: a bad moon rising and plenty of fresh meat everywhere. The way the stars were lining up, a pitiless deity could really get his mojo on. It made my skin crawl, I hardly know where to start this week.

I'll yield to the obvious, then, and turn to President Obama's jobs speech. I don't believe for a minute that it added up to much beyond more political game-playing - although there is more than one game being played judging by the knuckleballs and downfield juke-moves displayed by Mr. O. You can throw in some rope-a-dope, too, since the main objective was to make a virtue out of weakness. So, the Republican-dominated congress will pass a few fragments of the proposals (probably some tax cuts and maybe even unemployment extensions) but they'll wrinkle their noses at everything else and the result will barely make a difference - given the nature of this economy, which is having its Thelma and Louise moment. Obama will claim that the nation was gyped, and the Republicans will claim that they were just following the orders of party chairman the Hon. Jesus H. Christ.

None of them has a clue that reality has other plans for the US economy, which is to contract, de-globalize, downscale, and go local. That so-called economy they're trying to bring back? It's gone, baby, gone. I saw the remnants of it in the supermarket yesterday afternoon, endless freezer displays of unbelievable food-like shit such as Fridays © frozen fried cheddar-stuffed jalepeno poppers and something called "Rattlesnake Pasta." What kind of people are we? Is Huitzilopochtli behind all this, fattening us up for the altar? The fact that chili peppers are involved makes me suspicious. Anyway, this trip to the supermarket was like a visit to some unholy museum. A lot of the stuff behind those glass freezer doors I'd never actually noticed before, and surely never imagined in my wildest Iron Chef fantasies. In a few years, when the US public has become accustomed to a diet of cabbage soup and corn-pone, the memory of all that will astonish us.

As to Mr. Obama's delivery, I wish he would give up that little vocal trick he employs of constricting his windpipe so as to sound extra-special sincere. In fact, every time he puts that phony voice on, I discount what he is saying, such as you would if listening to a speech by Pinocchio and seeing his nose grow at every utterance. The non-entity former governor of New York, George Pataki, who mounted a seventeen-minute campaign for president a month or so ago, also favored that speech-delivery trick. All it accomplished was to make him look like he was straining himself to appear authentic. Note that the most self-consciously clueless political podcasters in the whole pod-world, the jokers at The New Yorker Magazine's podcast, gave Obama super props on delivery. For them, it was all about public relations, of course. They have no idea what kind of economy is greeting us in reality. Not your grandpa's Wheel of Fortune Rotary Club extravaganza, I assure you, Rick Hertzberg and Ryan Lizza. They're thrilled that Mr. Obama may finally be getting John Maynard Keynes right. OMG....

The stars are lined up now pointing straight at the tragic heart of Europe. I really don't quite see how the Euro currency gets through to the end of this week. German government officials are making noises about an orderly bankruptcy in Greece. What do they mean by that? Does Greece walk into its lawyer's office with a tidy list of assets for sale? Say, the Parthenon, assorted caryatids, the contents of the Thessalonica Country Club's trophy cabinet, and Uncle Nikos's fabulous stamp collection? I don't think so. More likely, you can expect an unholy shit-storm of credit default swaps setting every bank in the OCED (and few outside it) on fire, and by extension every executive mansion, until you turn around on Saturday morning and the world's currency system looks like an incinerated slice of smoldering wonder bread. It was a wonder that the Euro nations could keep their end of this unholy racket going as long as they did, since their constitution doesn't even allow bail-outs, period. Anyway, it is nowhere recorded in the annals of Bernal Diaz or the Aztec codexes that Huitzilopochtli liked sandwiches. He was a straight-up barbeque deity, though a little molé on the side goes nicely with a plate of human thigh.




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James Howard Kunstler has worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis. His nonfiction book, "The Long Emergency," describes the changes that American society faces in the 21st century. Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food.
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This was pretty bad. Hardly worth my keystrokes to comment. Why does think this worthy of inclusion on their generally fine site? If you want funny, biting, but intelligent commentary on the collapsing economy and actionable advice, try Jim Willy instead.
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I had to laugh when i heard Joe Biden stating that America is a safer and stronger country now as a result of 9/11. More paranoid and financially crippled is closer to the truth..
America's problem is thinks that the sun shines out of its arse and that somehow it can impose its will on other countries/cultures without any regard for the consequences.
Well, their chickens came home to roost 10 years ago and it has cost them dearly in respect and credibility and dollars and jobs and human fodder ( brave souls).
Such hippocrisy from cretinous world improvers like George Bush and Obama make me want to throw up.
Don't they read history?
Don't they have any inkling of how disliked, untrustworthy and foolish most of the rest of the world thinks of their foreign policies, endless belligerence and generally lost wars?
A once great country ,now in serious decline and needs to take a good hard look at itself.
An outsider's opinion.
SW from OZ
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Gosh, we wouldn't want to hurt our enemies, especially not the fundamentalist types akin to Stalin, Osama, or Kunstler's hero; Pol Pot - "World Buried By Shovel" or was that "Built By Hand-Shovel".

Funny, I realize that 'Howy babes' is jealous of the hick mentality he so publicly reviles, damn Nascar.
Some one go get Howy babes a golf cart to visit his, uh, children?

He wants the US to be a hick world, and himself the hick-king, in-breeding as fast as he can produce daughters, (or is that 'sisters' in proper left-wing lingo), in a brain-dead left-wing population he appreciates, hey, they vote for him, and build a world for him, by hand, or by shovel, Howy-Hick by Howy-Hick.

It's okay, no need to say my comments are outrageous or over the top, Howy gutterizes this good site every time he dumps his sewage on us here. Gosh, Howy babes dreams of this stuff every night, he knows, appreciates, and relishes in what I'm talking about. Difference between me and him is, when I think 10-year-old blended, I'm thinking Scotch.

No problems for Howy babes and his blended babes - there's the state-funded-doctor down the street who will clean carpets with his vacuum on his off-hours, yeah, nice and squeaky clean, Howy --- yes I know it must be sad in it's own way Howy, they are the "ones that got away."

Amazed he is allowed to spew such hatred.....but ain't that America?

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Mr. Kunstler says the following re the 10th 9/11 anniversery:

"To me, the various 9/11 doings that radiated out over the media gave off an indecent odor of triumphalism - a correspondent of mine referred to it as "self-important histrionics." "

Naturally, to him, that's what it means which explains it all. His weekly columns are nothing more than to show off a varied vocabulary and non-varying condescending attitude. Yet, given who he is who can blame him?

The environmental movement and its climate warming or change agenda is near collaspe -- done in by facts and fascification of data admitted by the so-called climate scientests themselves. His peak oil rants have been rendered obsolete by new oil discoveres, and the increasing perception that all the oil we need is there but for the want of exploration -- at least long enough for free enterprise (not government spending and not hampered by governement) to discover an alternative.

His usual format itself is failing: comparing some conservatives to a Nazis, lamenting about some dismal trip he took through some more dismal town, throwing in a word or two about the end of oil, and then predicting the culture returning to some kind of hand made world free of industry, antibiotics, and everything else we think we need to live. Oh, and the need to push individuals from their auto into mass transit -- and into the clutches of criminals, unions, and terrorist's attacks. In San Francisco, today, protests (over what I don't know) may well shut BART down for the evening comute, and not for the 1st time this month.

So, on with a world made by machines, technology, and the confident human intellect -- and correcting our errors along the way.
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all right - I agree about climate change. Big lie for money, control, and NWO-ness.
But your peak oil claims have little evidence. I see no evidence that there is plenty of oil left to ramp up production out there, and I have really looked. Sure, oil may be abiotic (and probably is - to wit, hydrocarbons on Titan), but that doesn't prove anything about PEAK oil. The earth's ultimate source of oil is not of direct bearing to our ability to extract it in ever-increasing quantities. It is the accessibility of the oil as supplies decline. And one or two tiny fields replenishing does not prove anything about the rest of the fields, especially the super-giants, in verifiable decline.

I think Kunstler is a class-A buffoon for dismissing 911 Truth, but he's right about Peak Oil. I am open to other arguments, but I have seen nothing that makes a serious refutation of the theory. A few anamolies do not disprove a theory.
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M: The original peak oil calculations were based on then current technology and knowledge of reserves, extrapolated. The subsequent development of horizontal drilling, improved sensors, resource mapping, "fracking," etc, has changed the whole equation. There will be a future "Peak Oil" situation, but further to the right on the chart.
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sure - but my point was that Peak Oil is a reality. The slope/timing may have changed, but you simply say that extraction of known reserves is better. That says nothing about 'new discoveries' which is what I was responding to. Anyway, the right-shifting has already happened - all it did was to drag out the plateau. That's not a good scenario because it makes the decline into a three year cliff instead of a ten-year slope.
Expect pain, fear and chaos.
Then renewal.
You may be assuming that it would merely exploit known resources faster. But everything I mentioned, plus enhanced deep water nmineral recovery, makes it a whole new ball game, with far more resources to draw from than were previously imagined.

Add to that a future solution for the extraction of vast shale oil resources and we're talking centuries more. The U.S. now also has at least a century of natgas reserves. Expect more applications for that to replace liquid fuels. Also, cleaner coal has additional potential. Finally, energy consumption technology will become more and more efficient.

Nuclear power is the most promising bridge strategy. But, that was already in jeopardy and is now worse since the Japan fiasco. Fusion and truly efficient solar power still seem a long way off. I have seen pilot tidal and current power projects, but they haven't gone mainstream yet. Geothermal has great potential, but rather limited locales. Hydropower seems pretty well exploited already and is one of the best options.

All of this is possible and even probable if Kuntsler and Obama types don't prevail, with their downbeat Malthusian theology and Progressive faux "Sustainable " pap.

I think our discussion is a lot better than Howie's.
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I appreciate your optimism, but I must respectfully disagree. Shale oil and shale gas are not really panning out. (I worked in the natural gas industry on a drilling rig, btw). Shale oil has an eroi of just over 1, at best. It uses water supplies at a terrifying rate, and the ramp-up will take decades, if not longer. Some of the heavy oils in the Canadian tar sands are extractable with a slightly better eroi, but not much. And the enviro-destruction there is off the charts - enormous lakes of sludge. Horizontal drilling doesn't extract more of what's there, it just makes it easier to get to. Fracking of shale gas doesn't work that well. Sure you get a very high producing well, but it dies in a about a year. A traditional well (in the sand/silica beds) will produce for 15 or so years.

These technologies are short term, profit points - they bring in money from poorly informed investors. Propaganda about hundreds of years supply is just that. And they probably thought they would work, but they just aren't panning out. I haven't studied deep-water extraction enough to comment on it, but it's clear that they aren't finding any super-giant fields. The fields are less than 1/100th the size of Gawar or Cantrell, both of which are in serious decline.

The wild-card in this LENR technology. see

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I appreciate your optimism, but I must respectfully disagree. Shale oil and shale gas are not really panning out. (I worked in the natural gas industry on a drilling rig, btw). Shale oil has an eroi of just over 1, at best. It uses water supplies at a te  Read more
M. - 9/14/2011 at 11:30 AM GMT
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