There’s Always The Brick

Today I am sharing a Guardian article that has at this time achieved almost a quarter of a million shares, indicating that it has hit a nerve somewhere in the popular conciousness.  It is the second article in two days that I have come across which uses terms like ‘horror story’ or ‘horror show’  to describe the events expected to unfold over the next eight months or so, and beyond.

This story was delivered as a speech recently at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney: David Simon: ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’

The Wire creator David Simon in BaltimorePhoto credit: David Simon, creator of The Wire, near his office in Baltimore. Photograph: Stephen Voss/Redux / eyevine

Now, I don’t agree with everything that David Simon said there but the general thrust of the piece is valid.  What didn’t I agree with?  Well, Ok, his insistence that we need a form of capitalism married with a social contract in order to forge our way ahead.  That concept presupposes that we will always have, or indeed need, an economic system at all, or that we will in future maintain social structures which are large enough to require such complex arrangements.  In my view of the future of man, that is not necessarily a given.

One point that he made, which I am entirely in agreement with, is that 1980 was a turning point in our economic history, not only for the points raised in this article but also because that was the time that I started investigating removing myself from what I could see as a crumbling system to some remote but still comfortably furnished, friendly, relatively safe (by its remoteness) and flourishing  part of the world.  Within a short time I found myself in Australia, which matched all of those criteria.  The situation has changed of course over the intervening years and Australia now has become just as much a seething economic melting pot or witches cauldron of political and financial corruption as the rest of the Western world, with a population just as screwed as elsewhere.  Though there is still a vestige of innocence, naivety and charm about my chosen country, which separates or distinguishes it from the crowd.  There is also a level of incredible national stupidity that emerges from time to time, but of course we are not alone in that.

Before I get euphorically carried too far away from the subject that I raised here, what’s all this to do with bricks?

Bricks.  Or rocks.  Or hunks of concrete.  Or whatever is the main ready-to-hand detritus of a crumbling society.  Those metaphoric weapons of choice taken up by a populace downtrodden, ignored and pushed a step too far by a reigning polity, and thrown through the metaphoric plate glass window or at the front line servants of the offending polity.

We have already seen that, time and time again, and not so metaphorically.  Mainly in those regions of the world stirred up and ruined by our own modern weapons of destruction.  Where people with no hope and filled with desperation start to hit back at their oppressors.

But we have also seen the beginnings of such situations within the borders of our own nations.  I fully expect that we will see more to come in the months ahead.  We are mainly at the stage where we rely on mass petitions, grass-roots movements and personal lobbying to achieve our social aims.  There will come a time, and soon, when such diplomacy is seen as ineffective.  Our petitions ignored.  Our people movements subdued.  Our lobbyists incarcerated as troublemakers or bought off to turn against us.

Then is when the boil-over occurs and the not so metaphoric brick comes into play.  Watch for that to come about in the second half of this year.  There are high stakes in that period.  Much depends on the outcome.  People are generally beginning to realise this.  All trust in the system and the so-called democratic process has been shattered and destroyed.  We live in a period where the social tinder is dry and there are political sparks flying everywhere.

Expect unrest.  Plan for confusion and danger.  Be ready for suppression.  Nothing will be normal.  The age of the brick is unfolding.

 

 

 

Those Damned One-Percenters

It has become something of a meme in recent years.  The 99% and the 1%.  Us and them.  The downtrodden, from whom it is being taken what little they have, and those damned filthy rich one-percenters who are taking for themselves all the wealth being stolen from us.

That is how it looks to you and me, citizens of the world, the workers, the wage earners, the salary earners, householders and citizens of the Western developed nations.  Those who have the time, the leisure and the means (a computer or other capable electronic device) to read stuff like this.

But hold on a minute.  Take a break.  Consider this…

Who is that One Percent?  Who are those people?

I learned this today, this evening in fact.  Though in the back  of my mind I already was aware of it.

Speaking globally, anyone who has an income greater than around A$50,000 (US$38,000), is among the top 1% of income earners worldwide.  If you are such, then you are a one-percenter.

Does that place things in a slightly different perspective?  I am sure it does for a great many of us.  Suddenly we see ourselves as being part of the problem.  No longer downtrodden.  Of course, still being fleeced, but still having far more than those poor buggers numbered among the 99%.  Suddenly we can see the scale of who is in the one-percent group.  This revelation leads us to be able to envision the sheer enormity of the mass of the unfortunates whose lot is to make up the 99%.  That recognition has to effect our thinking.

I, unfortunately, am still a 99%er, though I was, until I retired some years ago, numbered among the 0.5%ers (or maybe even some percentage even smaller than that).  Not that that did me any good.   I must say that I was acutely aware of my position of privilege during those years and I suspect that like others in that group, I was determined to enjoy the situation while ever it lasted.  Knowing full well that it was something that would soon reach an end.  Which it did.

My bubble burst, and I became again acutely aware that all such bubbles must eventually burst.  A realisation which brought me to write the sort of stuff that I continue to turn out today …and will continue to do so until it is no longer necessary, or no longer possible.

Hmmm…  I had no intention of writing all of that, and I almost forgot what it was that I wanted to share here today.  The thoughts that started this post came from this weeks edition of The Archdruid Report: Where On The Titanic Would You Like Your Deck Chair, Ma’am?   If you want to know why the usual left and right sides of the political spectrum are both utterly wrong, then you would be hard put to find a clearer exposition than this work.

I will finish with a single quote from the piece, as an appetiser.

This is the magic mountain of our era—a mountain of privilege whose inmates either have no idea that they’re privileged, or have convinced themselves that they deserve whatever they have and that those who don’t have the same things don’t deserve them. Far below the magic mountain, in the rest of the world, things are happening and pressures are building toward an explosion, but most of those up there in the heights haven’t noticed. It does not occur to them that there’s anything unusual about their lives, much less that some sudden turn of events could fling them down from the mountain and into a chaotic future for which most of them have made no preparations at all.

Pressure?   Explosion?  Sudden turn of events?  Chaotic future?  Preparations?

Sounds like anybody who has an opinion on what’s about to happen in our topsy-turvy world is expecting those things to be particularly nasty and distasteful.  I can’t disagree.

 

 

 

Illegal Immigrants/Invaders In Syria

There are the ‘boots’.  We can see them.  They are American boots, with American military feet in them.

There is the ‘ground’.  We can see it.  It is Syrian national ground.

heres-what-us-boots-on-the-ground-in-syria-really-means-1445979177Photo credit:  news.vice.com

So.  American boots on Syrian ground.  Is that not a sufficient and complete definition of ‘boots on the ground’?  In anybody’s language I would say that it is.

So, what are they doing there?  Two hundred and fifty more pairs of boots now, adding to the fifty (officially) pairs of boots that have been there for quite some time now.  Not counting all the clandestine (CIA) and private contractors muddying the waters.

As this RT story shows, they are there illegally: No boots on ground in Syria, but US troops wearing boots & on ground are there ‒ State Dept

If they were there as immigrants, they would still be there illegally unless they claimed refugee status.  But they are an invasion force.  They are not there to aid the Syrian government.  That is not a part of US Foreign Policy.  So, simply put, they are there illegally.

Oh, I do love to see the US State Dept talking heads squirming and struggling with convoluted thought pictures to try to come to terms with reality but avoiding at all costs telling the truth.

My own conclusion on this is that they can see that Syria, with Russian aid, is winning the battle against Islamic State in Syria and the US wants to absorb some of the credit for that, when in fact they have done little to nothing to achieve that result, preferring to make this into a war without end.

Tales of The Upside and The Downside

The Archdruid is back from vacation and hits the road running with an extra long and powerful post titled: The End of Ordinary Politics

It is, as usual, easy to get lost in the flowery prose, but I can summarise the whole with just a few quotes for those who, like me, tire easily from having already spent the day grappling with weighty cerebral matters (though you might miss something juicy if you take the easy way out).

The essence of the piece, for me at least, revolves around the differences between the roles and practices of leadership within civilisations that are on the rise and those that are on the slippery slope to dumpsterland.

It is no longer about Left or Right but about Going Up or Going Down.

On the way up:

The leadership of a rising civilization pays close attention to the outcomes of its policies and discards those that don’t work.

In a rising civilization, … the political elite wins the loyalty and respect of the rest of the population by recognizing problems and then solving them.

On the way down:

The leadership of a falling civilization prefers to redefine “success” as “following the approved policies” rather than “yielding the preferred outcomes,” and concentrates on insulating itself from the consequences of its mistakes rather than recognizing the mistakes and dealing with their consequences.

In a falling civilization, … the political elite forfeits the loyalty and respect of the rest of the population by creating problems and then ignoring them.

If I were to spend all day, every day, for in inordinately long period of time, I would not be able to come up with a better description of how Western governments for many years now, have performed their governmental policy roles than this:  They are entirely focused on “following the approved policies” rather than “yielding the preferred outcomes”.

What does this mean?  Well, if you followed my simplification of the situation above, you would immediately recognise that our civilisation is most definitely ‘on the way down’, or if you live in Australia, with all the benefits of an Australian education – ‘on the way dowen 🙂 ‘.

The eventual result of following such practices for prolonged periods of time (such as we have been doing) is that:

The lessons of failure are never learned, and so the costs of failure mount up until they can no longer be ignored.

…and then what?  Well, in brief, an impasse is reached – something has to give.

…resulting in what?  We-e-e-e-lll…

If a society’s officially sanctioned leaders can’t lead, won’t follow, and aren’t willing to get out of the way, sooner or later people are going to start looking for a way to shove them through history’s exit turnstile, by whatever means turn out to be necessary.

That’s not a recipe for social stability; those who make peaceful change impossible, … make violent change inevitable.

I know that I can’t sum up the situation in this election year, not only in the US but also in Australia, better that JMG does in his final paragraph.  So I will just quote it here, with the admonition – read the whole thing:

No matter how loudly today’s establishment insists that the policies it favors are the only thinkable options, the spiraling failure of those policies, and the appalling costs they impose on people outside the bubble of privilege, guarantee that sooner or later the unthinkable will become the inescapable. That’s the real news of this election season: the end of ordinary politics, and the first stirrings of an era of convulsive change that will leave little of today’s conventional wisdom intact.

I want to be around to witness that.

…and what follows.

 

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Time to take a bite of the elephant.

Which elephant? Let me explain.

It is time for revolutionary politics and social progress, of that there is no doubt. The way we have been living is no way to live. We have allowed a small minority to take most of our wealth and power, to almost literally impoverish and enslave us.  What?  You haven’t noticed?  Unbelievable!  Take it as fact.

So, what is holding us under their thrall, holding us back from taking back what is ours?  It is that we can’t organise ourselves, because we are divided by fear, divided by our petty differences and divided by our fear of the others, the ones different from us.  That is the elephant we need to eat.

Time to take a bite of the elephant.

A quote from the Medium article: I Have Met the Bernie Bro (and He is Us)  which inspired this post:

Nurturing fear of the other, reliably triggers division, keeping us anchored in spiraling powerlessness. The solution is at once individual and essentially collective.

The elephant needs to be eaten before we can move on.  And we don’t have much time.

Quote:

In the blink of time … we won’t solve age-old issues of racism and discrimination. We won’t let go of our resentments, nor completely learn to listen with humility. We will not build Utopia in three months.

Ok, Ok.  I know this is about America  …and goodness knows that nation so desperately needs such a revolution as Bernie Sanders offers.  But isn’t Australia in exactly the same position?  At exactly the same time?  What are we going to do about it?  Where is our Bernie Sanders?  We have our Donald Trump, alias Turnbull.  We have our Hillary Clinton, alias Shorten.  Not close analogies I know, but that is what they represent.  But there is no Bernie.  No inspiring, charismatic, peoples champion candidate.  Left, right or centre.

So, what chance do we have?  Little to none, of avoiding a continuance of mediocrity.  Unless a younger generation of idealists (if such there be) stands up to be counted, like the young folk of the sixties did.

Perhaps the most relevant, if not important, quote from this article, is:

Bernie’s staunch belief in our ability to come together is the truly breathtaking message of his campaign. Far beyond merely challenging us to fund his campaign, or asking us to trust a politician one more time, he calls on us “Black and white, Latino, Asian-American, Native American, gay and straight, male and female, born in this country, and people who have immigrated to America…” to win our equality together — or not at all.

I have no great faith that will happen, there or here.  But I am open to being surprised and amazed.

How about it?

It all depends on mutual respect within the community.  Can we build that in time?  Putting aside our differences?

Quote:

Each of us sees the problem from our own limited vantage, but mutual respect allows us to build a more complete picture.

And, of course, Bernie Sanders, like any other budding Messiah, is only human with human frailties, and all such, in whatever sphere of reference they operate, should be viewed through the spectrum of this quote:

“If while holding a sapling in your hand you are told that the Messiah is about to arrive, first plant the sapling” ~ Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai

Messiahs generally turn out to be great disappointments or even imposters, but they can be instigators of much needed change that long outlives them.

Crapola, Crapola, Crapola

There is so much crap online these days in supposedly ‘Clean, Green, Eco-aware, Environment-Friendly, Forward-Thinking, Concerned, Activist’ sites like The Climate Reality Project, that the situation is unbelievable.  Someone has to be kidding.  That site should be called ‘The Climate Con Project’.

Do I sound like a denialist?  Well, I am not.  Quite the contrary.  I am a realist who knows the dangers that humanity faces from out of control climate change.  I do not subscribe to wishy-washy so-called plans or agreements to stop, slow-down, handle, turn-around, eliminate, mitigate, or in any other way affect climate change.  All such efforts, or at least the ones always put forward, spoken or argued about, are entirely meaningless and ineffective.  They are, in short, a con…

Take for instance one of the latest posts from the Climate Reality Facebook page or go direct to their linked article: What Is Grid Parity and Why Does It Matter?

Tell me, what has anything, anything at all, any little thing, any huge big thing, any aspect whatsoever, concerning the electricity grid got to do with stopping climate change?  Eh?  What?  If you said anything at all, you were wrong, whatever it was you said.  Unless what you said was something like “Nothing at all”.

The electricity grid is all about adding to climate change, no matter how it is powered.  The electricity grid has nothing to do with stopping climate change.  Nothing at all.  To say, or imply, that it has, is the biggest lie that we, the gullible public, are being conned into believing.  It is the big “Renewables Is The Answer” fraud.

Now, if we were to do away with the electricity grid, entirely, altogether, completely, then that might have some effect in slowing down (not stopping) climate change.  But that is not even on the table is it?  We are not being asked to do that at all, are we?

They think we are fools.  Well, they might be right there, generally speaking.  I don’t hear many voices saying what I have just said.  There are a few, but mostly we just suck up whatever people like Climate Reality tell us, if we listen to anything at all or give the matter any thought time.

So, what’s the answer?  Well, shutting down the electricity grid would be a start, but it is only a small aspect of what in total contributes to climate change.  There are a lot of other things that we would need to stop doing in addition to that.  If you think about it.  If you care enough to start to think about it.  That’s the secret, they don’t expect us to think about anything much at all.  We are held in thrall, dummyfied, by the bread and circuses of modern life that have been provided just for that purpose.

Break out!  Live!  Think!  Read!  And don’t be taken in by their distractions.  It will kill you.

…I didn’t finish, as you may have noticed, what I was saying earlier.  So, finally, what do I see as being a solution?  What do I stand for?  Firstly, there are no solutions (so don’t waste your time, energy and money on any such thing).  Secondly, I stand for Adaptation (the preparing for the unknown future as best as can be done, while leaving behind all that has been accumulated in the past, freeing yourself from attachment to the past.  That is where to invest your time, energy and money).

Reward For Effort

It has been over two months since I put some gardening pics up.  A lot has changed in that time.  Summer has been, wreaked havoc, and gone.  A warm and milder Autumn is progressing.  The plants have breathed a sigh of relief and are putting in extra effort to do their thing.  Thankfully.  If only it were forever Autumn or forever Spring.  But no, that wouldn’t do either.  The four seasons are necessary.  Just as long as they don’t become continuous Summer, which for those who haven’t been paying attention, is a distinct possibility.

Since I tend to forget what I have planted and where, as soon as I have done it (don’t have time for labeling), and also because I planted some unusual varieties,  I have had a few pleasant surprises in the past few weeks.  That’s always nice.

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I haven’t grown corn before so I am not sure when to harvest but judging by these ‘ears’, ‘cobs’, or whatever they are called, it is getting somewhere near time to do so.  This is a Balinese variety.

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The  Yacon, with sweet edible tubers, while it isn’t as tall as it should be, looks healthy and I expect to get a good harvest from its tuberous roots before winter sets in.

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Tomatoes are still ripening but mostly finished now.  I expect to replace them with a more seasonal crop soon.  Also, you will notice that I have removed (well, almost finished removing) all traces of grass from the garden, replacing it with straw.  a) that will cut down mowing time, and b) I hope to reduce the amount of mud and dirt that I trail through the house this winter season.  Although that may be a forlorn hope and I may find that I am making trails of  both mud and straw.  Such is life.

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Garden greens and beets.  Plus, because I allowed my ‘Freckles’ lettuce to go to seed, there are lots of little seedlings beginning to appear.  Hopefully they will mature while the weather is still mild.  I must plant some more Asian greens too, since the ones that were there have all been eaten away.  There seems to have been a plague of grasshoppers this year.  I am not sure if that is just in my garden or a more general infestation.

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The cucumbers, while they seemed to be flowering for a very long time without doing anything else much, have recently begun to produce profligate quantities of fruit.  I also planted a variety of Apple Cucumber this year (one of the things I forgot about) and was completely surprised when these round things (pic below) appeared.  They don’t have a strong taste but are very tender and watery (juicy?).  I will definitely be saving seed from these.

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Apple cucumbers invading my Rainbow Chard.

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I have not (successfully) grown Sunflowers previously.  These ones are supposed to have edible seeds in flower heads that can be up to 40cm across.  They were sun-effected or heat-effected while still tenderly young and so have begun to mature quite late in the season I think.  They may not reach their full potential but I remain hopeful to at least obtain some seed for future years planting.

Just on sun and heat effects, I have ordered both sun and frost protection materials, yet to arrive, which I intend to use with framework that I will construct (there’s always something to do to try to make things better) over the next few weeks.  I will report on this some time later, I hope.

Another task yet to be completed is framing up the rest of the garden.  There are large areas that I have not so far been able to utilise due to undefined edges.  Every square inch must become gainfully employed in food production.  So much to do.  So little time and energy (well, energy more than time).

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Look at those beautiful dark green leaves.  Full of nutrition and beneficial substances.

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I know, I know, it’s time I started mowing grass again.  It is not easy to see what is Goji berry bush and what isn’t, here in this pic, but I am so please that it is coming on so strongly.  There are still a few flowers and I was surprised to pick half a dozen fruits earlier this year.  So different fresh than the dried fruits available commercially.  It can only get better.

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I’m cheating a bit here.  This picture was taken in February but I haven’t published it before, so not really cheating.  I was surprised to find a blossom on my Passionfruit or Pomegranite bush (I can never remember which without looking it up).  It fell off in the wind without producing fruit but is a good sign for future years.  I would rather it put its energy into growing big and strong anyway just now.

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More Apple cucumbers in a wicking box.  This is the first time I have grown anything in a wicking box.  They seem to be smaller and the leaves are a lighter green than the ones in the garden but I think they all came from the same seed packet.  Interesting.

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Beginning to look a bit more like a garden now.

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Even the shrub garden, which suffered quite badly through the heat (I think I have lost a few plants), is beginning to show a hint of colour now.

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Some recent produce from the garden.  Forget the beans, they are just there for seed saving, not eating.

Finally a couple of pics from February when the Golden Zucchini were in full production.

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Oh, and below is what the garden looked like in February.  A marked contrast to today.  Satisfactory progress after only two years.

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…and when I think back to when I started…

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