Archive for June, 2010

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Survival In The Modern World

Are we, in any way built to survive in this world? I would be tempted to state unequivocally that our ability to control our environment in ways unimaginable to our great‐great‐great grandfathers would be proof of a positive supposition in this respect, but I suspect I would be wrong in thinking as much.

Our ability to survive in the environment we’ve created for ourselves is reliant upon factors that if ever put out of balance would ultimately be devastating to populations and cultures.

Consider: greater than 50% of the world’s population is concentrated in urban centers. It takes a great deal of organization and planning to house, feed, protect, and maintain such populations; these urban environments are reliant upon just‐in‐time deliveries of food, utilities, and the organization of police forces to help maintain order.

What if some disaster put the delivery of food out of balance? Being an urban environment, it would be exceedingly difficult for residents to compensate for such food losses with their own provisions through gardening, hunting, or gathering. Residents are reliant upon the type of farming that is most devastating to land: large corporate farms.

Not that this sort of activity is bad. On the contrary it has allowed the world to be fed and fed cheaply, and is certainly a contributing factor in the explosion of population we’ve experienced in the past century; however, this land will not be arable forever and we cannot expect the sort of abundance we’ve grown accustomed to in our supermarkets to last.

If utilities are severely disrupted, we run into similar problems with food, yet in this case perhaps the lack of availability of clean and easily used water is more devastating.

The point is: as a whole our reliance upon the conveniences of modern life have built a situation that could lead to extremely undesirable consequences if any one part of it were to go out balance.

I’m just as vulnerable as anyone else in this. I’m not prepared to grow my own food, identify what sorts of things are safe to eat, build impromptu or semi permanent shelters, and live in a way that should come naturally to us as human beings. The loss of life would be great if the situation were extended to a large swath of the population, i.e. many major urban centers.

I love modern life, but what cost does it have 100 or more years from now?

Why Would I Ever Run?

I’m not a runner–at all. No matter what shape I was in when I made a go at long distance, the results were never satisfactory. By the time I made it to the mile marker my body was telling me to quit. It wasn’t even that I was tired, it was more the laborious nature of running that made me quit each time. It was the fact that I had to keep breathing in a controlled fashion, I had to keep running, and mostly that I was bored out of my mind that always put me over the edge. Running–just to run–has always seemed like a giant time waster to me.

Why would I ever want to run?

The only activities that seemed like a good opportunity for running involved games–e.g. soccer, football, basketball–and had some purpose that kept the activity off of my mind. Strategy does that. I get no runner’s high, but I do get a competitive high. Running can be competitive, but christ, you just run and that is unbelievably worthless to me.

What sucks is that prior to my next surgery about the only real running like activity I can safely do is to jog/run in my neighborhood, on a track, or on a field. And so I’m stuck with the boring ass activity that it is. Wearing a brace that is increasingly uncomfortable for these activities makes me want to shoot my face; I’m pretty much ready to head into surgery and commence with the rehab all ready.

So, why would I ever run? Because the only way for me to safely exercise is to participate in an activity that I hate. The only thing is, it’s put me in a little healthier place. I’ve lost a bit of weight from running, exercising, and eating a little better.

I wasn’t able to reach one of my goals last month, though I made a pretty good go of it, but I still had to run.

On Running For The Republican Precinct Delegate Position

This isn’t something I take lightly. There will be a certain bit of responsibility on my part to try and organize Republican voters to get involved; this is particularly difficult for me simply because the community that I’m a part of tends to vote over 60% Democrat, save for the incumbent state rep, while their interests and beliefs tend to be better represented through other parties these days.

The trouble for me will be in identifying Republican voters and convincing those who vote for other parties that their interests are better served by the ideas of the Republican party in Michigan.

I see their interests being better served by Republicans, particularly if long term community viability is a goal, simply because the ideas being implemented in our community today have created an environment that is no longer sustainable. Which is why I’m so interested in becoming a part of the political process to begin with. My community has seen better days. What was once a major manufacturing and shipping community, has become a center of poverty and depression with little hope of recovering former prestige. The bottom line is, it won’t recover that prestige, but it can gain another kind. It can grow and become a viable community again.

In recent years there has been an active investment in bettering the area, and some new business has made it’s way in, but those businesses have a focus on community consumption rather than production; businesses focused on selling to consumers will never meet the employment needs of the community if certain standards of living are to be met, though it should bring in plenty of tax dollars. What can be done to entice the right kind of business? Offer the right tax and land incentives to the right manufacturer and you’ll have a viable employer and tax base for many years to help sustain the community, bring it growth, and better the conditions of everyone.

Unfortunately, our city has mismanaged its affairs, and we are currently under state control while we get our books in order. While the position I seek can do very little in regards to any of these problems, I can help to get the right folks elected that will foster the environment necessary to bring about the kind of operational changes we need to build a healthy sustainable community. And of course, we need to prepare for the difficult road ahead of us.

It is my hope that in running for this position, and perhaps serving if elected, that I can help to foster some of the change needed to make my city viable again, in addition to getting a better understanding of what the community is looking to accomplish.

Thinking About Protesting At Your Local BP?

You’re not alone. There are–literally–tens of hundreds of you out there right now, plotting ways in which to make your voice heard in regards to the oil spill. You’re mad, and you’re not going to take it anymore. In your mind, the corporate greed of BP was enough to create the massive environmental disaster in the gulf. Their desire to earn, earn, and earn some more took precedence over everything else, including the safety and well‐being of the region. Somebody has to pay! That’s why you’re going down to the local station.

Step 1 There will be cameras. Photographers for sure, but perhaps a local news channel on a slow news day will show up. Find an appropriate outfit for the occasion. Something tasteful perhaps, not too colorful, as the occasion is indeed quite somber. If the weather is warm, a pair of short pants may be the ticket.

Step 2 Come up with a really great slogan to put on your sign. You need to let others know that you’re witty and socially aware when you protest. Something like “BP = Selfish Greed” is the shit…tiest one you could use, mostly because it doesn’t really jive with the whole two letters equals two words beginning with those letters motif. Why not “BP = Barn Poop.” At least that makes a little bit of sense.

Step 3 So, is it time to head on down? Should you really protest?

First off: don’t do it. Your message may be the right one for your cause, but you’re inflicting economic harm on the wrong people in most instances. Owners of gas stations, whether they are BP or Citgo, are not tied to those corporations. They’re more like fast food franchises in that they purchase their fuel from the parent corporation. Essentially, by the time you’re out there protesting, you’re really harming the owner of the station, as well as its employees, more than the parent corporation, which I would hope is not your goal. Hurting local business is really a very negative thing if you’re concerned about the welfare of your community.

Second, if your cause is to make the government move towards asset seizure, then your cause is wrong. Where in the hell do we live? When in history class did you learn that one of our founding principles was the asset seizure of entities that inflicted economic harm from a situation that can only be described as an accident? Just because contingency plans are inadequate does not make the corporation criminally negligent. They may be liable for clean up, which is likely to lead to bankruptcy, but government seizure seems antithetical to our notions of what ‘property rights’ mean. Another topic perhaps?

However, if BP is guilty of skirting the law, we must absolutely prosecute them and all of those involved in said activity, and make decisions on the future of the company in the United States based on the findings of the case rather than a knee jerk reaction to what we might feel in response to the massive disaster we’re experiencing.

Lastly, keep on protesting abusive and illegitimate corporate practices, but learn to recognize what those practices are and what they aren’t. Our government is often in bed with corporate interests that are harmful, simply because of the campaign money that is involved, and so it is difficult to rely on government for proper regulation. Voting with dollars is your best bet. I recognize the hypocrisy of this statement in light of what I’ve written above, but in terms of economic effect, this will have a greater impact if you’re not spending money on the right things.

I also want to address this rather interesting situation we’re experiencing with the six month moratorium on drilling: the current administration is making the claim that BP should be held responsible for the wages that workers affected by the government ordered moratorium have lost. They say BP is at fault for the wages lost during the government imposed work stoppage. I’m not sure that I really understand the logic here.

Blame a corrupt government, a corrupt regulatory process, and a corporation that did not have a proper contingency plan in place, but do not think BP evil for this disaster.

Oh Oil, My Oil! Where Do You Lie?

This is one of those issues I should be commenting on; particularly because I’m such a proponent of the expansion of domestic oil exploration, but this makes me an unpopular man amongst many folks right now. I harbor no ill will towards British Petroleum, which perhaps makes my crimes particularly egregious.

I’m a big believer in harnessing our resources as often as possible in order to maintain our way of life. As a caveat, I’m a proponent of working towards harnessing sources of energy other than fossil fuels. It just makes economic sense. More efficient methods of generating the energy we need exist (or not), but we really need to utilize the sources (nuclear) that all ready offer the promise of efficiency with little to no pollution. Until we do that, we need coal, oil, and natural gas in vast quantities to maintain a certain societal equlibrium.

I’m waiting for an answer on this? What is it about profit that is so evil? Naturally corporations suck when they stifle liberty, but profit isn’t so bad.

What is it that convinces so many that oil companies are hatching nefarious plots in an effort to make a huge, largely evil, profit? The fact that they provide a commodity that happens to be in great demand? That this commodity has largely fueled the emergence of the great industrial empires in the last several hundred years, created a vast network of communication, and essentially built the world of cheap energy within which we live (or once lived, depending on your view of energy’s costs)?

Frankly, without the oil companies you couldn’t run your shitty little Apple iPads (damn’t I want one), drive your Prius, or run any other true electric vehicle that won’t take me to work and back on a single charge. That all requires oil, coal, nuclear, and other forms of energy (this is all in various quantities that is a big fucking mystery to everyone but the power distribution people) that you folks decry as evil. Progressive ideology is more nuanced than this, but it seems that any form of profit is evil, and these companies should just be in the business of providing a product for shits and fun, and to provide jobs to the jobless, and the sun to the sunless, bringing songs of joy to all, and a Ford in every driveway. *Fuck‐it‐all*.

Is my strawman enough for you, or do you require more?

In any event, this whole mess is certainly a tragic accident. Many of the players involved, up to and including government regulators (one could argue the President’s lackadaisical attitude is a result of some very intriguing campaign contributions from folks associated with BP), are at fault. BP should pay for this mess–as indeed, their actions certainly created the problem–while the government should be contracted in, at BP’s expense, to assist them in the cleanup.

But–you knew this was coming, right?–this event should not be taken as an excuse to end off‐shore exploration. These accidents are few and far between and we need these domestic sources of energy.

Whatever the consequences of this are, what say you, fine reader, about the future of off‐shore drilling and this event?