The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Con Text Duel.

Microwave Oven
I saw the jet stream in the sky today. A puffy white filigree tracing a path through the air to an invisible destination. Much like wo/mankind itself. Maybe the thought of it being crossed and crisscrossed like apple pie-crust made me wonder how relevant is the constant cross-hatching through the firmament in contributing to, or, more accurately, subtracting from, global warming.

Because since we know that those jettrails are effective in deflecting back the sun's rays,  shouldn't we be increasing our trans-Arctic flights? That would increase the albedo effect as well. Otherwise, as the global economic system continues to cool, people will fly less with the result that the global ecological system will still continue to warm.

That's a reflection of the direct effect of the economic system on the ecosystem, for it effectively puts a net of  sorts over the planet. But there's an invisible net also. And not only the one we refer to as the internet, which, together with cell phones and Satellite TV, and now radio, constantly pulses increasing levels of invisible man-generated energy, bombarding us with an increasing number of frequencies of microwave bandwidth slowly cooking the people of the planet, as their internal organs get zapped, along with their leftovers, but the frogs in the pot don't even notice the difference, basking instead in the spreading warmth caused by their own barbequing organs.

Texting infiltration rises constantly, especially in crowded urban areas where the density and ubiquity of the transmission lines results in increasing numbers of collisions and the concomitant escalating necessity for rebroadcasts. As the level rises to such a pitch, the annoyance begins to impinge on the consciousness of the crowd who start texting their friends to see what's going on. They neglect, of course to confer with one another, so the fact that's it's a purely local phenomenon is never discovered.

On a LAN, such a phenomenon is referred to as a Broadcast Storm, as one datapacket leaves a PC at the same time as another and they end up crashing into one another. They go back to the starting position, and try again: at the same time, so they crash again, soon all the machines on the network are broadcasting packets that never get through. The solution to this was to create an algorithm whereby the machines would wait a different amount of time after the network was quiescent again before attempting to get their respective packets through the net. A net is very interesting: for some, hard to get over, easy to see through, sometimes impossible to get things across, and as hard to get through whether you're inside it or outside it.

However, mathematics is a wicked instrument; it allows mankind to rise above nature, but as payment for releasing its secrets, it makes us the slaves of machines, a growing proliferation of which emit invisible directed radiation to do our bidding. But the web it casts, is ever poised to catch us unawares, even as it did on 9/11. Because it wasn't any terrorist group that built that web. But they used that World Wide Web as an integral instrument of their plan of mayhem. And that web was spun by US.

Friday, November 16, 2012

EIA: Oh, You. Avowal of Energy Independence is Inconsonant With Reality

Fool me once ...

For those who have taken the EIA report of US energy independence by 2020 and renaissance as an oil exporter by 2030, seriously, I would like to introduce you to the 2000 World Energy Outlook that's sitting on the bookshelf in front of me, and was published by that same organization.  I picked it up several years ago at a bookstore for .33 (a 3/$1 sale: I also picked up Pat Choate's "Agents of Influence" (1990) about how Japan's government and corporations hire American lobbyists and PR firms to deflect US criticism about Japan's closed markets. Most of us are unaware of the fact that any foreign-owned company can operate a PAC and make contributions as if they were American Citizens, but more on this very cogent subject, considering this blog's Title, "USA's War Against the Dollar", in a future post).

The reason for my interest in this subject, stems however, not only from the entire economics profession's pretense that oil's just another commodity like corn, let's say, but the more immediate problem of continued escalation of consumption of approximately 1.5%/year in oil imports by the US all through the 90's, even as telecommuting was being hailed as the solution to the pollution of urban air as well as its potential of freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil.

All nonsense, of course. All noise to distract investors and pensioners that their life's savings were being poured into an infrastructure meant to facilitate the movement of industries and their manufacturing capabilities offshore to far-off continents where such trivialities as air to breathe and water to drink were not under the control of rabble-rousing Unions demanding healthcare and pension benefits for their workers. Global Crossing, Enron, Cisco, AT&T, Teledyne, Frontier Communications, ESL and a long list of other companies were raking in outrageous profits as they built companies whose sole purpose was resource extraction. And the resource being extracted was share-holder value going into CEO paychecks and shuffled into off-shore tax-haven accounts with the aid and advise of such companies as Lehman, Bear-Stearn, JPMorgan, Goldman sacks America, Accenture, and Arthur Anderson Accounting, and, of course, Bain Capital.

But in those days so much of the proceeds from these massive operations of fraud and chicanery were still being poured into the pensions funds of that middle class that is now so loudly bemoaning its destruction that they could've cared less for the lives of the working class that the introduction of all this technology was impacting. So listening, during the election campaign, to complaints about the disappearing middle class, left me somewhat bemused, not because there's anything funny about it, but because the silence of that very same middle class as the jobs and livelihood of the working class was being torn out from under them and their skills left to languish, along with their neighborhoods, offspring, and futures, was indicative of the class warfare being waged against them as well. But blinded by greed and convinced of the complete dependence of the so-called "New Paradigm" of a globalized economy on their unassailable skills, the middle class technocrats and quants felt invulnerable to the onslaught the newly-empowered Supra-class was making on their countrymen.

I, however, having been raised in the economic backwater of the once-mighty industrial city of Lowell, in a family of eleven, was not so sanguine about the future being tantalizingly held in front of us. I was, after all, schooled by nuns and a harsh New England Catholic theology, that left me much more cognizant of the stick kept assiduously hidden from all those carrot-chasers.

But, in the words of Lord Overstone, "No amount of warning can save people determined to grow suddenly rich”. So self-scrutiny, the greatest support to minimal good sense, disappeared, as people became further and deeper enslaved to their jobs. Meanwhile, all the ingredients of financial calamity were being swirled in a deadly dance, fueled by a toxic cocktail of new, supremely confident and brilliantly innovative youth, mixed with a speculative euphoria and programmed collapse as the specious association of money with intelligence forged an impenetrable bramble of vested interest in error, even as the grim face of disaster hovered like a Cheshire Cat over the mania engendered by financial innovations that centered on the obfuscation and purposeful hiding and shuffling of Risk.

To this mix we can add the EIA's WEO that sits in front of me predicting that the 1997 world oil supply of 75 mb/d (million barrels per day) would increase such that by 2010, the world would be producing 96 mb/d, and by 2020, 115 mb/day. That world, however, never materialized. Fifteen years after 1997, we sit at the exact same level of oil production, the only means of growth in supply being instead derived from that mysterious concoction referred to as oil liquids. But as the blogspot "Energy Balance" states: "We should not be fooled by estimates of how much "oil" there is in the form of "liquids", the supply of which must inevitably fall. Our best option is to look toward means for reducing the amount of oil that we use, almost certainly by curbing the need for transport", and transport, as became increasingly obvious as I went through the 2000 WEO, was exactly what the report chose to ignore, emphasizing instead electricity, as if its production alone would feed the energy needs of the future.

Nowhere in the report is it projected that Russian oil production would, in 10 years' time, exceed that of the US and Saudi Arabia, making it the #1 producer of not only Natural Gas but oil as well. What they did predict, however, was that by 2020, the price of oil would slowly increase to $28/bbl. The world that such an excess of cheap energy products would have created would be strikingly different from the stark world of strangling austerity we live in today.

The Supra-class, however, that group of narcissists and vanity-driven Superiors amongst whom Climate Change is by no means just a theory, nor a hoax, had access to more and better data, and to the levers of financial manipulation and commodity speculation that were used to drive the price of oil to stratospheric heights and the Global Economy over the cliff, leaving the sovereign nations of Europe bankrupt, their banks insolvent, and their jobless and penniless citizens on the streets, will continue to maintain themselves in a position of ascendancy as they strangle the economic growth of the vast OECD economies and continue the planned blighting of the future prospects of their citizens.

Because unlike the general public, the Supra-class is well aware that the utilization of dwindling amount of oil being used, not for productive, profit-growing activity, but instead for the transportation of a mindless middle class that has no concept that taking the vast amounts of energy  products that industry provides and using them simply to fuel mass daily migrations from suburbs to the jobs that enable their existence, is not just unprofitable: it is senselessly destructive.

So, take the EIA report for what it really is: yet another tool for traders to use to sucker investors into relinquishing the last of their financial resources, as the middle class is too besotted on their own ascendancy to see what's staring them right in the face: the fact that the entire financial industry and Corporate infrastructure, is in bed with their own government, (which is, after all, of the People, for the People, and by the People, my friend, which now, unfortunately, does not include YOU) to wrangle the rest of their savings from their old cold hands.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blockheads on Bloc Heads.

"The only devils in the world are those running around in our own
hearts-that is where the battle should be fought."

-- Mahatma Gandhi

 Paula Broadwell a révélé que l'annexe du consulat était la plus importe base de la CIA en Afrique du Nord et qu'elle servait de prison secrète.

Ordinary Men:

All functionaries in the German Army suspected of being Communist were denied prisoner of war status and executed. Then the "Barbossa decree" was issued, which removed the actions of German soldiers toward Russia civilians from the jurisdiction of military courts and explicitly approved collective reprisal against entire villages (not unlike what GW's regime did in Iraq to Fallujah). It was, in fact, a shooting license against Russian civilians. Major Weis, as documented in Christopher Browning's "Ordinary Men", described it thus : "The War was a war against Bolsheviks and Jews", a reality documented in Upton Sinclair's "World's End" series:

This remarkable series of books, which started espionage as a form of reality-based fiction starring Lanny Budd as the first James Bondish, albeit less adolescent in its prestidigitation. In this series, hailed by both Bertrand Russel and Albert Einstein as the best documentation of the machinations on the State level of the forces that brought us WW2, including the Cliveden group in Britain, and fascist Industrial magnates in the US, including Ford, was sold out on every printing during the war, and now languishes on library shelves, unread and unknown, because it shines a light into the dark heart of capitalism, a heart encrusted with blood and dependent on torture and slavery for its existence.

But the vast majority of Americans don't even know what Bolshevism refers to, the history of pre-WW2 Europe is so assiduously repressed. De Toqueville referred to this form of repression, in his seminal work "Democracy in America" (another tome with which the American public is largely unfamiliar) as "Mild Despotism", an erosion of liberty far more serious than the violent form of despotism characteristic of feudal societies:

It covers (society's) surface with a network of small, complicated painstaking uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not  break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd (the Corporation, the Owner).

I couldn't help but remember this quote, cited in  Toby Young's "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People", while reading Louis Menand's article in the New Yorker on Anne Applebaum's book, "The Crushing of Eastern Europe", in which she states that,  " ... the grant of immunity gave the Soviet Union a free hand to carry out one of the most radical experiments in social engineering in history, whose goal was to remake Eastern Europe from top to bottom to serve a political system ... to forge a new kind of human being who would not need to be forced to serve the system."

The means used to justify this end are what Applebaum's book uses to describe "how the Soviets and their local apparatchiks attempted to build the perfect Socialist world". Describing how Stalin, between 1929 and 1953 sent 18 million  people to labor camps in the soviet Union, she completely dismisses the 18 million Americans living in the American South, some of whom had fought in WW2 also, who were in the same type of terror-driven, one-Party system, called Jim Crow.

Waxing eloquent about the unfortunates "who were caught in the insatiable  maw of Stalinist purgation and arrested, transported, incarcerated, abused, and for the lucky, released", she blithely ignores the plight of America's blacks trapped in the racist south who, during the same time period to which she refers, were also arrested, transported abused and incarcerated, but never truly released, as their release was only into the maw of the Southern lynch mob. And there was no need of a cover of "trying to build a more perfect Union", as the Union was the one thing that most Southerners could attest to most definitely having no desire to be a part of. No. There was no bright future for humanity desired by the Party apparatchiks known as Dixiecrats. There was only continued repression and exploitation of a captured and well-marked, therefore easily identified, population. 

Applebaum further states that "in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union, the agent of transformation was not the state. It was the party." Just as in the US South. "The state, especially the judiciary, was simply the party's bureaucratic dummy."  This was because "the purpose of   totalitarian transformation was not mere efficiency." No. "The purpose was the realization of a law of historical development, the correct understanding of which was a  monpoly of the party. In Hitler's Germany, life was transformed in the name of a single goal: racial purity." The exact same goal as in the American South, where the most important goal for light-skinned Negroes was to "pass" as white, because that meant the difference between relative prosperity and lifelong debenture.

What Applebaum, as so many others, refuses to see, let alone acknowledge, is that what Hitler used as a template for the imposition of total party control was in fact the USA's Southern States: their political structure and the theory of racial superiority which was its foundation. But because, as de Toqueville noted, "I do not know any country where, in general, less independence of mind and genuine freedom of discussion reign than in America",  its citizens refuse to notice a few inconvenient truths:

The technology and mindset on which the entire military-industrial machine depends are all of German, or more specifically, Nazi, origin: from the interstate highway system, to the atomic bomb, to the vehicle of its delivery, the ICBM's rocket technology, right down to that most modern machine of mayhem, the drone vehicles of slaughter. As documented in Sinclair's above-referenced, "World's End" series, Adi Schickelgruber, sitting in his Berchtesgaden retreat, fantasized about the deployment of such smiters of those who dared oppose him.

Next, although it seems, at its least, quaint, at its worse, subversively communistic, it was the people's money and labor that enabled the development of all the items mentioned above as well as the internet, the computer, the banking system, all of which have been not only turned against them, but have been used by the upper class to cement their iron grip on the productivity of labor, funneling it to themselves, proclaiming they are the job creators, even as the destruction of entire industries at their hands continues unabated. As they disdain the 47% for their feeling of entitlement, it is from the rich they get such feelings. The hatred of work and the love of ease is not necessarily an inborn trait. In Hans Fallarans' "Wolf among Wolves", Wolfgang grows up and becomes a man when he moves out of 1923 Berlin to the countryside, where he takes on the responsibility of running an entire farm and forest. It is his work and his growth as a person that that work provides him that is the grist of his mill and the source of his begrudging, but deep, happiness. But, because they do no actual work, the claim of the rich to their "peculiar institution" of Hereditary Entitlement, one as debilitating and brutal as that other well-known one, is much more logically tenuous.

And finally, as made so obvious by Anne Applebaum's article, and remarked upon by Gandhi in the quote that begins this post, the real failing of American Democracy and its Educational Institutions, as well as its religious organizations, is the continued embodiment and enshrining of Evil as something outside of the self that can be personified and consequently, destroyed, so that only the Good people are left. The Good people who will then run the world in a sensible, just, and god-fearing way.

But the point so well made by Browning's "Ordinary Men" is that reality isn't like that. Ordinary men, not just Nazi and Stalin thugs, do evil deeds. You have evil in your heart just as I do, and it can never be expurgated, only controlled and, hopefully, when its worst manifestations are given free rein, its consequences mitigated.

George Bush, in the run-up to the cakewalk that was to be the destruction of Iraq, waxed eloquent about our desire to liberate the Iraqi people. The same people who less than a week later we were referring to as our enemy as we destroyed the last vestige of Iraq as a modern country. Yet they had done nothing to us whatsoever to earn this change of status: we had invaded their country under completely trumped up allegations, so they were now the enemy. And as such they earned our hatred, our wrath, our rain of depleted uranium bombs, economic destruction and wholesale theft of their national treasures.  This is an example of pure evil, but not a word was said; not a tear was shed. So send not to see for whom gapes hell's hole: it gapes for thee.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Let the Games Begin ...

Now that the erection is over and Karl roves the streets in search of pustulating corpses to sink his rabbit teeth into, and Fox Views digest their own excreta only to spew it onto TV screens nationwide while Pat Robertson (the Neo-Christain who, at the height of the Bush regime's so-called War on Terror, called for the Assassination of Chavez, a most blatant terrorist act for which he was never chastened) spews his tele-venom, and Ron Paul holds forth on the dangers of Democracy when the majority is receiving government checks that should only be the province of politicians and, you know, those other "People", the corporations and their CEO's, the rich and the privileged who feel, yes Mitt, entitled, "can  you breathe?", to the millions flowing daily into their ever-swelling off-shore, tax havens, maybe we can, in the interim before the Inauguration of everyone's favorite favorite sun, discuss how we are going to be able to pull the global, or at least our own, economic train wreck back onto a track that doesn't have a brick wall as its looming terminus.

However, judging from the initial reaction from both the Boehner and the Krug, that's not very likely to happen.  The one says "Fuck you", the other replies, maturely, "Oh Yeah? Fuck you back!", as in this morning's NYT editorial, the Nobel-prize winning conscience of a liberal advises The newly re-elected Chief Executive to steer the economy right over that looming fiscal cliff rather than surrender Dorothy to blackmale (no pun intended, we presume) from his orange-faced opponent.

So, instead of getting a discussion about how we can possibly continue stimulating the economy and the world's weather system toward ever-more calamitous outcomes while caring for our sick and tending to our children's needs, or how to go about creating work that doesn't simply have the manufacture of ever more metal-and-glass boxes-on-wheels that spew ever-increasing volumes of poison into the air we try to asthmatically choke down, we stand poised to continue the charade of finger-pointing and chest-beating that has characterized every moment of this New Millennium's political circus.

It certainly is good that "In God we Trust", because reality is simply not something anyone has a stomach for. And yet, for all that, it could be worse ... we could be facing the New Year with the prospect of a Mitt Romney presidency. And for all my hand-wringing, there's a huge sigh or relief I feel entitled, yes Mitt, entitled, to exhale at the wonderful news that the $6 BILLION (equal to the entire national output of the country of Nicaruagua) that was spent on this circus, didn't have the dire outcome so fervently wished for by pretty much half of the voting public.

So now, let the USA's War on the Dollar continue, as we monitor what new forms it will take in the years ahead.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's the Stupid Economic System.

On the Arctic Weather blog's article entitled,"The Tipping Point" , the author, Dorsi, argues that "it's vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious." 

I have extreme reservations about this conclusion. Watching the "International Community" (there's no such thing) tackle the problem of ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) makes me feel like Chief Inspector Dreyfus, Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering boss in the Pink Panther movies.

As the yearly roster of weather events of an extraordinary nature continues to escalate, and calls of alarm go out from the scientific community proclaiming that the pace of change is accelerating beyond their most horrific calculations, while sites such as The Energy Bulletin suggest the self-evident truth that economic growth and mitigating the rate at which climate change is occurring are incompatible, I would take their argument one step further and claim that every single one of the steps that has thus far been taken are, just like in the US, formulated to give the parent country a less rigid dependence on fossil fuels from an unreliable source, and then sold to the public as strategies for reducing the rate at which climate change is occurring, were instead ploys to build a new energy infrastructure, one that, far from slowing down the accumulation of  global-warming gasses in the troposphere, instead accelerated it. 

From Germany's bio-fuel programs to the USA's disastrous ethanol program, they are on such an enormous destructive scale that it could be no other way, even if the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere from their activities were to eventually taper off, which is showing no signs of happening. Let's look at the logic and see how absurdly skewed it is.

Biodiesel is made from palm oil. But there are not enough palm oil trees in the world to economically produce the amount of fuel necessary to feed the voracious appetite for energy of the German's export machine, the size of which rivals China's. The solution, of course, is to mow down thousands and thousands of hectares of Rainforest in Indonesia, that used to act as a carbon sink, to plant palm oil trees, turning those acres into carbon pumps instead. Just as Brazil is doing to the Amazon rainforests, and the US to its Midwest, both to manufacture ethanol, having nothing whatsoever to do with being "green", but marketed as such to the purposely ignorant masses who will believe anything  to be allowed to sit on their ever-expanding posteriors for hours at a time staring dementedly into the space between themselves and the vehicle two feet in front of them.

In other words, creating another CO2 pump from what used to be a CO2 sink.

Alaska's permafrost and Russia's tundra: same dynamic. Even more dangerous, as the gas is methane.

When you span the globe changing what were once carbon sequesters into carbon generators, the rate at which carbon's accumulating in both the atmosphere and the oceans of the world, accelerates at an unforeseen rate, because those rates were calculated with the naive assumption that humankind, once alerted to the danger confronting them, would at least try to slow the rate at which it was filling the troposphere with a gas that displaces the very oxygen it breathes. That instead, they would start to systematically destroy the only natural systems capable of absorbing some of that gas and building instead systems that would pour out even more of it, was simply so absurd, it was not even something that occurred to them to consider.

And yet that its exactly what is happening on an enormous scale. So enormous as to mirror the culprit that's charged with the crime in the first place: the fossil fuel industry.

This dynamic has been repeated over and over again, as Capitalism's true nature cannot be altered. It is akin to a voracious maw that the more you feed it, the more it demands .... needs! Two of the best-known examples, and therefore, least cited by greenies, are the paperless office dreamed up to promulgate computerization in the eighties, which instead increased the amount of paper used in businesses ten-fold, as everyone now had access to a printer; and the tele-commuter fantasy in the nineties that built an information superhighway infrastructure right on top of/alongside the automobile highway system, and thereby INcreased the amount of, not only oil that was being consumed, as its rate of consumption continued to grow unabated (don't need to drive as much? Buy a bigger vehicle!), but also drastically increased the amount of coal burned as it sucked up electricity at an unprecedented rate.

Capitalism isn't going to solve the ACC problem, it IS the ACC problem, and no amount of Jerry-rigging, or pie-in-the-sky fantasies of a clean-coal, solar, wind, bio fill-in-the-blank fuel substitution is ever going to change that. 

Sandy, Katrina, Wilma, these are mind-boggling phenomena, but if you think that they're aberrations, or that your leaders are doing anything to solve the dilemma, thereby substantiating the claim that they were once-in-a-hundred-year storms, you really need to get a grip ... 'cause you're going to need one.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Statute of Inundations Loses to the Implacable Law of the Sea

The Whole Manner of the Sea.

Perhaps the stage is now set for the sea to reclaim the role of the devil it has previously held in the minds of people as it demonstrates the part it plays as the hereditary foe of humanity. The romantic spirit of this age in which ruins, ghosts, lunatics, werewolves, and vampires are dreamed of amidst stormy nights, roiling conflicting passions left moribund by more intellectual pursuits like politics and the dull minutiae of daily existence, could now be dashed against the rocky shores of reality as even the most sanguine individuals awaken to the dangers of the eternal wildness of the coast and the open seas.

Ladies and gentlemen of wealth, whose forebears generations ago abandoned the shade of parks and riparian esplanades, to come and walk upon the bleak shores and watch the untameable waves crash onto vast stretches of unblemished sand and unalterable rock, see their fate intermingled with those whom they deigned unfit to share a sidewalk.

The Jersey shores, named, unknown to most of the population that people them, after one of the Channel Islands about which Victor Hugo wrote in "Toilers of the Sea", sprang up and were inhabited by ladies with small feet and fine cars tolling along sandy roads whose occupants sported veils and chenilles that blew about them in the fresh sea breeze as they alighted in front of little hotels and cottages. Here was a promenade, a club, and a pavilion, the rendezvous in the long evening of many sweet colors and sounds.

Ladies with marriageable daughters, often watched fruitful courtships ripen on the sunny summertime beaches, and modern dandies manage their motors where heretofore steeds had promenaded leaving horseshoe tracks in golden sands.   Old gentlemen argue political and dynastic heredity in the clubs, their glasses of Scotch at their elbows, while their young wives walk, cashmeres on their arms, to a lonely hollow in the dunes, still sun-baked from the long summer-like day, to become one with nature and the dune grass and tarry long enough to become bewitched by the full moon in the pale autumnal sky.

In this atmosphere of harvest-time splendor the more Gothic trapping of windblown leaves turned crimson and orange rattled down from branches to rustle down streets and collect in gutters and yards, while a thing that happens only once in a hundred years was gathering in the mass of ocean to the southeast. A tremendous mass of water was being driven up by a storm whose fury was to break over dikes, causing them to fail as it rushed back to sea, taking with it barriers built to withstand pressure from water pushing inland, but totally incapable of standing against it when being sucked seaward. They gave way and through the opening the sea rushed in.

Structures were downed by the hundreds, as houses and cottages came down like cardboard castles before the advancing waters, and many human lives were lost even as far as Long Island and Connecticut.

 It began with an evening of extraordinary heavenly calm, but of stifling air and a strange, luminous, sulfurous dimness. There was no distinguishable line of division between the sky and the sea, The sun went down in a confusion of light, itself a dull red like a damask cushion sinking behind a divan of watered silk. The waves seemed of a curious substance, like jellyfish washing up on the shore. It was a highly inspiring evening, with many things happening along the entire Eastern Seaboard. That night the people who were not kept awake by the beating of their own hearts woke up, terrified, by a new, swiftly approaching roar. Could this be their same sea singing in this deep, ominous voice?

In the morning the world was changed, but none knew into what. In this noise nobody could talk, or even think. What the sea was saying, you could not tell. Your clothes were already ripped off you before you got in sight of the sand, and the salt foam whirled sky high. Long and towering waves came in behind it, each more powerful than the last. The air was bitter, and full of menace.

 Those who had ignored the order to evacuate pressed their faces against their apartment windows, wild to catch a glimpse of the wild beatings as the everyday was turned freakish by the wind. The less fortunate, swinging their feet out of bed, found them submerged in cold, muddy water. It was salt. It was the same water that had rolled, out to the east, over the island of Haiti, and stripped the sand from the beaches of the Bahamas. The Atlantic Ocean had come to visit them. It was rising quickly. In an hour the movables of the lower houses were floating on the water, knocking against the walls. As the dawn came , the people, from the roofs of their houses, watched the land around them change. Trees and bushes were swaying in a moving gray ground, and thick churning foam was washing over the stretches of everything that had been familiar a scant twelve hours earlier.

Now, as the fear and turbulence of that day subsides, as a normality that whispers it's a new normality in hearts that still quaver from the internal storm still raging, recriminations begin to fly, accusations get hurled and outrages long buried are allowed to surface, like nitrogen bubbles escaping into the blood of a too-rapidly rising deep-ocean diver, they inflict pain and threaten ones very survival.

But there have been such floods before in which people had been snatched from their beds and hurled onto rafts by their pale mothers, from where they saw collapsing houses, struggling cattle go under in high waters, and breadwinners perish as their entire household disappears into the dark waters of a pitiless sea, everything ruined and lost. The ocean does such things from time to time. Still, this storm will live in the memory of coastal dwellers for a long time, as its scoffed-at description of yet another perfect storm, now assumes the character of a terrible, grim joke.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The path to Nowhere that took me Here .

What, me worry?

In a blog a few days ago, in a state of frustration, despair, and pique, I asked the question, "Why Should anyone listen to what I have to say? Who the F*ck am I anyway?" Well, after mulling over that question awhile, I thought maybe I should address it. What does give me the feeling that i have a unique perspective on things? One that's worth heeding, or at least listening to?

After flailing at Holy Cross College, one of my co-workers in the Lincoln school system, which managed the Military's schools on Hanscom Air Force Base (located about 20 miles northwest of Boston), at which I'd found employment as a custodian, doncha know?, told me about some courses he was taking at Harvard's Extension School. I learned from him that by taking courses, some of which you could take via TV, long before any internet courses were available or even dreamed of, that if you liked, you could eventually apply for admission and earn a Harvard degree. All for a fraction of what it'd cost in the day school, albeit over a longer time-frame, as the credit earned for each course, except  summer school courses, which were full credit, was half of the regular daytime courses, necessitating a full year to accumulate a semester's worth of credits. Since I was working full time, though, that was perfect, especially as I could pay as I went.

This worked well for a couple of years, with me in a kind of Academic Nirvana, completely enthralled at how unbelievably lucky I was to have been born in Massachusetts. I mean I could just drive down the road or take the train, or bus from Waverly Sq., right into Harvard Yard, almost literally. So I took everything: Botany, Anatomy and physiology, a course on the Ring of the Nibelung, American Lit,  Indian Studies, Psych, Sociology, Black History, Conversational and literate French: I was like a kid in a candy store. But just like a kid in a candy store, there was no method to my madness, I just grabbed gleefully at whatever was nearest to hand or would bring the attainment of a degree closer. But what I would then be suited for, besides more college, once armed with that degree, was always vague and somehow unimportant.

It was the thrill of being able to take advantage of having the greatest minds and educational resources in the country that drove me. The teachers weren't just from Harvard, either. The way the Extension School worked was that we had profs from Simmons, MIT, Emerson, BU, and many other first rate colleges in the Cambridge/Boston area that came and taught  there. The only proviso was that a certain number of your degree credit classes had to be taught by Harvard Professors.

The glimmering chimera of a Harvard degree was not to be, though ... at least, not for another 30 years (when, in 2003, I received, in abstentia, the Tortoise Award, for having taken the longest amount of time to earn a degree in the Extension School). This was because, as I continued to pile on courses, my impatience with the 8-year time frame growing unbearable, I ended up taking 8 courses in one semester and that broke this camel's back, and so I floundered once again.

The path that would then take me to San Francisco's City College, was twisted and arduous, but after working for a printer in Chinatown, as a teller at Hibernia Bank, and then an account analyst at Industrial Indemnity, taking courses in International Banking and H&R Block's on tax prep along the way, I started taking Electronics and Digital Design, and although I'd sworn I hated computers, and never wanted to have anything more to do with them again, having found FORTRAN a colossal bore, I found that I just loved the hardware of computer design and the science behind the production, distribution and electronic utilization of that most magical of modern forces: electricity.

Next: V = IR.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

As Ben Stein Weighs Changing his Tune, Christie Minstrels.

The enormous  energy extraction from  Africa to the Northeastern US took a rather different form this week. As we struggle to grow an economy in Sandy's oil, and grapple with the impossibility of building a cohesive country around the disintegrating thesis of every man and woman for themselves, under-grid with Family values that emphasize My family over yours, I think of David Frost's 1977 interview with Richard Nixon.

In it, Nixon's response to Frost's question as to why he didn't release the Watergate tapes sooner, was that he had to protect his cronies from prosecution. That answer was to be expected. In fact, it's what we really already knew. No. It was the lack of any  response from his interviewer that I found shocking.

This attitude of carefully not reacting to the interviewee's responses has only gotten worse, as evidenced by the Republican debates, in which Newt Gingrich warned his fellow republicans that the press was trying to "trick" them into publicly arguing with one another. I like to think that had I been the moderator, I would have gently chided Richgringo with the question, "You do realize what is meant by "debate", right?"

But in the case of David Frost in 1977, it was a relatively new phenomena:  Richard Nixon could sit there and tell him that despite his sworn oath to uphold the Constitution, he can unabashedly state that he feels justified in obstructing justice and withholding evidence from a federal investigation because his "friends" might come under closer scrutiny and proven guilty of the crimes they committed on his behalf. But there is no challenge from Frost, no reaction to the fact that the President of the US casually took an oath of office which meant nothing whatsoever to him. Hiding the crimes of his cronies meant more to him than either upholding the Constitution or putting the good of the country ahead of their squalid interests. So lying under oath, a criminal act for the Chief Executive no less than for any other citizen, wasn't even a consideration. Something to be dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders.

This was the beginning of the US showing its true colors to the entire world. Turning its face to the full glare of the TV lights, what lay exposed was a charnel-house, a heap of pus and blood, little more than an unsavory shovelful of putrid flesh. Since then the pustules have infected the entire body politic,  spreading to the whole organism, as one pock touches the next, resulting in a shapeless pulp, leaving us a government whose face is now but a bubbling purulence that looks like a dark, decaying hole.

Onto this withered and sunken garbage heap we've thrown our Family Values to replace the lost integrity of even a pretense that any of our National institutions really stand for what they profess to. But by infecting the entire system with a desperate cynicism not only leads to the abandonment of all the values necessary to nurture and sustain a Democracy, but eases their replacement with the self-destructive mantra of the winner-take-all triumphalism of dog-eat-dog capitalism that tears the throat out of any quaint notions such as compassion and brotherhood. This leaves a self-proclaimed Christian nation that repudiates all the most important values of the very man it professes to believe in.

So now, with the prospect of Christie's chastised visage before us (he told one of the city's in Sandy's path that they were on their own, because not all of its citizens obeyed his order to evacuate), that Section of the country that has championed itself as the avatar of creative destruction, telling the rest of us to shut up and suck it up while they used our retirement funds to close down industry after industry and ship the country's productive capacity an ocean away  to a continent where Wall St. cronies wouldn't have to be bothered by  demands for such niceties as drinkable water, breathable air, medical care, or pensions, now that it is faced with the reality of its own destruction, has all of a sudden changed its tune. Now the rest of the country's expected to come to its rescue (which we will). So-called Society that thinks "There's no such thing as society", and the Community that has ravaged communities for sport and profit, will now avail itself of the humanity of those it heaps derision onto for having any, will be relieved to find that their abandonment of responsibility hasn't led us to the abandonment of ours for them.

May we all enjoy the feeling while it lasts. Because we may just end up faced with the reality that when one small corner of a nation sucks the productivity and resources from the rest of it, the spirit may be willing, but you just can't get blood from a stone ... especially one that's been cracked, smacked and fracked.