Muddy Metaphors

October 16, 2012

Predicting the future is always hazardous: there are no time-travellers nor Mentats nor psychohistorians on the horizon to offer advice. Malthus was wrong in his predictions by a few centuries but he is casting a long shadow on the fast-approaching rendezvous with new resource limits. We can still beat him if we can harness the sun or its secret, the fusion. But it is a long and squirrely IF.

Humans love muddy metaphors and silly synecdoches to expound their views. Social challenges and problems are a lot more complex, even for a true anarchy that never is. Muddling-through is best humans do. But it is more fruitful if one is well-informed: learn the rule, perhaps, just to figure out how and when it breaks. Building social constructs like capitalism or socialism or survival-ism are such exercises, not an eternal solution – they help focus the on-going tussle between the haves and the have-nots, the masters and the slaves. Remember divine rights of the king?  They are coming back, yes! Complete with knights, castles, and torture chambers. Slum dwellers are suckers for a fairy-tale god, they love famine-induced spiritualism, and live on to procreate farm labor, and the gun fodder for the deadly games that the ordained uber-class plays with things that go swish-bang in the night or day. Beckets always die prematurely, at times gracefully perhaps, defending stupidity.

Production, interest, capital, growth, dollar, ever-higher GDP are words of an era whose end is suddenly upon us. We do not know it yet, like the chicken that runs about without its head, for want of a new vocabulary that fits the inexorable decline. The new catch words will include barter and make-do.

There is a pedagogic use for “He is dead, Jim” doomers. We pick on doomers because they offer a view that clashes strongly with recent history. But wait, Hobbes will reign again because he said, “…life is short, nasty, and brutish.”  Nietzsche and his “God is dead” will fast disappear along with the uppity middle class as absence of religion takes away the last hope from the wretched, the spineless, and the doomed who find it hard to defend their dignity. I will not be surprised to see a sequel to “Return of the Native.”

Worry not, each community will live by its reach to resources. How they organize and live will depend on the wisdom and courage of the people. Sheep shall have a shepherd, lions a pride.

Meanwhile drive your humvee, lust for the pretty face on the TV, and enjoy modern-day Sinai in Las Vegas with its golden calves while Moses is away.


Misery

September 28, 2011

In a different Brane
Out sideward in time
Utopia – pristine, still.

Dwarves discover Earth
Promise of beauty
But misery, they love.

Snow-white is obsessed
Journeys to Hiroshima
Ablates voluntarily.


Perpetual War in Afghanistan

November 14, 2009

Afghanistan is not a country. Never was, never will be. If you are looking for Talibans, they are everywhere and nowhere. What you have is an amorphous collection of tribes roaming their traditional range. Their allegiances changing with the ability of the range to sustain life. Even in the good old days, the reach of King Zahir Shah’s rule was limited to the major cities, with a lot of help from, yes, the Russians, and it diminished exponentially beyond the city walls.

Afghanistan is inhospitable territory, part of a larger desert. The western mind nurtured on the economics of exploitation and exponential growth where every citizen is monetized has a hard time putting its arms around the hard but independent life of the tribes-people in Afghanistan and NW Pakistan.That part of the world has been a “terrorist” factory since the dawn of humanity.

Some 30,000 years ago, the ancient ancestor of the Pashtuns, in the seventh year of the 100-year famine, summoned his 4 sons, and said, “Go west, young man,” just like Horace Greeley or John Soule…but he did not stop there, adding East, North, and South as well, and told them to beat the crap out of anybody they see. A true story, documented better than any story in the bible, and borne out by the genetic evidence of the earliest of human migrations out of Africa. Arnold Toynbee has called this land the “roundabout of the ancient world.” They have followed their ancestor’s advice like clockwork: descending on India in the times of famine, for example, they ruled the country for thousands of years, setting up dynasties after dynasties like the Moguls, by beating the crap out of the local Nabobs and Rajahs at will.

They beat the British, so the Brits, jointly with the Czarist Russia, invented the Durand line. The Durand line was an acceptance of defeat by the British, but not for trying. NW Pakistan is littered with “monuments” to the defeated and dead British soldiers.

They beat the USSR. And now, they are beating the US/NATO. The alien US/NATO cockroach, like the Russian and the British before, has just swallowed Agent K and the world is awaiting for the slimy explosion with abated breath. The Pashtun (Taliban) have all the time in the world.

To put things in perspective, there is a fable about the Pashtun and the Prostitute – When the Prostitute complained that he was not counting correctly to win the bet on his staying power, the Pashtun said, “Verily, I will start counting afresh, one, …” They may not be good at math, but they have the staying power that the US/NATO cannot match. They have that uncouth will to carry on in the face of certain annihilation that the “civilized” west cannot swallow.

While the Waziristan/Swat Emirate and other stories like that make for good copy, they have little significance. Pakistan inherited the NW territory in 1947 from the British with its Pashtun tribes…and the years of uneasy truce followed. The tribal areas within the borders of Pakistan have always been quasi-independent. (Pakistani Pashtun population is significantly larger than the Pashtun population in Afghanistan.) The tribes invoke their Jirga for justice, do not fully recognize laws of Pakistan, and are free to cross the so-called international border to Afghanistan and back at will. History of Pakistani control over these tribal lands (and those in Baluchistan) is full of military action and aerial bombardments whenever the tribal chiefs have tried to mount unruly insurgency to get more power or money.

Pakistani military profits handsomely from the US (and the USSR in the 70s) oil and opium dreams. General Musharraf followed the time tested strategy: it is not the rebels against the USSR when General Zia was in power, it is the Talibans against the US/NATO. Same difference. We still have to deal with the Pakistani military even so the political power is now in the hands of the feudal landlords, who always win in “democratic” elections.

The land of tribes now has a number of US/NATO bases scattered on the proposed oil pipelines from central Asia and Iran. Are they looking for a 6 foot 5 Arab hooked to a portable kidney machine? Chances of Bin Laden being still alive are rather slim. Even if he is still alive, Al-Qaeda has shown time and again it does not need him or Afghanistan to carry on their low level activities. Are we there for oil? We better hurry, since increasingly, Iran and the central Asian dictatorships are entering into bilateral oil contracts with China, the new 800-pound gorilla on the block, or are compelled to deal with Russia at their door-steps. In short, the strategic reason for us to be in Afghanistan is no longer solid! Perhaps, we are there for opium. Enterprising generals can make a quick buck while the industry sells a lot of arms and ammunition to support their enterprise at the expense of the taxpayer.

The upshot of all this is simple: For the rulers in Pakistan, the militants or the Talibans are an essential part of the strategy to scare and contain an impoverished populace, and they are noisy enough for the Pakistanis to collect billions from US taxpayers. For the corporate-military complex here at home, Orwell’s “perpetual war” is of the essence. It keeps the dollars rolling, rolling, rolling. The corporate-military complex is not worried about winning. All they want is their share of the opium trade as there is little chance to snatch central Asian oil away from China.

Perhaps Sarah Palin was the better choice: she could have unwittingly pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan while keeping the corporate-military complex busy drawing up plans to invade Alaska. They have oil, don’t they?


The Pushtun and the Gringo

November 13, 2009

I

The Pushtun and the Gringo went to desert
On a beautiful poppy-red drone,
They took shrapnel, and plenty of powder,
Wrapped up in a five ton bomb.
The Pashtun looked to the stars above,
Singing, he aimed his mortar,
‘O lovely Gringo! O Gringo my love,
What a rounceval Gringo you are,
You are,
You are!
What a rounceval Gringo you are!’

II

Gringo said to the Pushtun, ‘You elegant biped!
How charmingly deadly your outburst!
O give me some oil! and the pretty poppies too!
But what shall we do for a house?’
They droned away, for a decade and a day,
To the rocks where the poppy grows
And there on a wall was Goldman-Sachs
With a loan at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a loan at the end of his nose.

III

‘Dear Gold, are you willing to sell for one dollar
Your ARM?’ Said the Goldie, ‘I will.’
So they bought, and were foreclosed next day
By the Congress who lives on the hill.
They dined on oil, and snorted poppy,
Over a hot runcible spoon, oh my Gott!
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They overdosed by the light of Herr Gott,
Herr Gott,
Herr Gott,
They overdosed by the light of Herr Gott.

<can you hear Edward Lear groans?>


Of Playing Ball

June 18, 2008

I love to see ten gangling gorillas slapping the ball around under bright lights to the roar of fans. I do not much care about the Romans, even though they knew what it was all about: you win, or you dead. Too intense for me. I know more about Kobe, less about the 250 pound marbled Kobe-ushi who lives next door. I know what Phil ate for lunch. Phil, the coach, not Phil, my son. I do not know much about my son, even though I see him almost every day from the corner of my eye while I am watching my game or something. Let me stop for a minute and thank the media for achieving this state of atomicity. Frugal, minimalist, independent. Each individual wired to the signal, now in High Definition.

I play the ponies and politics alike. I toss my coinses and make my choices: heads, Obama, tails, McCain. I want to say the Romans knew how to make a salad of the Caesar they did not like. But it does not make much sense in this ethereal, make-belief world. I want to thank our media keeping me fully informed without being rude. I can watch the floods from my cozy couch. I know all about the real issues: Barack’s pastor, Iran’s weapons of mass destruction, the lying clawing Hillary, gays getting married, kids going to jail for smoking marijuana, abortion, Oprah’s makeup artist, and Britney’s bosom. I stay wired while I get my high fructose corn syrup fix and stuff my face with cheesy chips. See how comfortable I am with their first names: Barack, Hillary, Iran.

The other day someone told me a General Eisenhower joke. The General said in 1956, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

Wanna hear another war joke?

I know illegal Mexicanos dropping in on us is a big problem. They take away cotton-picking jobs at bargain wages that I could do if I wanted. And then they send all the millions they earn to their home in Oaxaca where their farm is dead but the U.S. government subsidized Iowa corn is cheap. May be I can take a vacation there. It will help their local economy, wiping my pale ass. Ha, ha. If they are nice, I will tell them a secret: free markets does not mean free movement of labor. No, I think I will join the war – as a contractor, shoot some Hajis. It seems like a fun thing to do as I watch it on my TV. They say it pays well. And the mothers are crazy about their Marines.

I do not need the money, really. I am on the buddy list. And the buddy-kitty is about 2.5T dollars. Ask IRS. I votes for my Congressman, he votes for me with dollars from the kitty. Perfectly legal like as in a Bill. I scratches his back, he mine. It is a regular church: steal from the poor, distribute to the rich. Why do you think Bill Gates is worth a $100B and the Pope wears Dorothy-red shoes?

Did you know hot air is free? The cool air is not. You pays for it, because my little company smokes coal and belches sulfer dioxide. I have a license to smoke the city brown, the same city that spends the tax money and spins its wheels (pollution?) to show it is on the job cleaning air. Talking about city services, please do separate the garbage into recyclable and not. It helps my buddy corporations make a living. You know corporations are like very rich human beings. Ask the nearest Judge, the corporations live and breathe and can trump your eminent domain any day. Like OJ, they can buy whatever whenever.

Here is another joke, this time about water. A liter of soda is yours for a dollar. The carcinogens and fatteners are free. My buddy HMOs want you fat and marbled. But here is the funny thing. It takes about 7 liters of potable water to make a liter of soda. Seven liters of bottled water can be had for 7 dollars, if you are lucky. I will do the math. Every time you buy a liter of soda, my buddies eat up a loss of 6 or more dollars just to be a good citizen. What a deal.

Okay, okay, I know the math is kind of heavy. So hear this: All over the TV, the rumor has it Winehouse is ill and Britney is gonna climb the Eiffel Tower in the nude for AIDS benefit. Can you beat that?


Population Purge

May 7, 2008

The human population reaches 9 billion around 2042. The non-fossil energy, about the only kind available at that date, may sustain about a billion, about the same as the pre-industrial count. Maybe add a few percent more to account for the wisdom we have gained since the 1800s. But I doubt it.

Prices of everyday goods are rising as the demand for energy soars. Soon Dorothy may have to replace her red shoes with those made of discarded tires from her SUV. No roads of gold, no air travel, and no spin around the block. The little wizard is counting on dirty coal to run his fantasy world a little while longer.

New technology? Yeah, that! Ask the Federal Reserve, Bernanke will print it. Ask the Congress, it will fund technofixes with defunct dollars. The blue collar scientists, however, are looking for a hole to crawl in before it hits the fan. Going from fossil fuels to sustainable energy is like asking a crack baby to get high on plain water! The best of them, wind and solar, are subsidized by oil, utilize high-maintenance technology, and offer miniscule energy-density compared to oil. A whole new infrastructure is needed – about 191 million new vehicles just for the US to carry on with its non-negotiable way of life.

Let us build solar-electric airplanes, now! But wait, GAO says we have this $53 Trillion debt. Double or nothing.

“The only humane approach to the impending comedy,” says Alex the Anatosaurus “is to institute population rationing. I been there. I extinct.” The plutocracy, hankering after the good old feudal days, is against population rationing because, when the oil is gone, they fancy a hundred slaves for target practice. The priest cannot survive without supporting the rich, and, you know, He wants the destitute illiterates to keep buying his keep. The middle class does not have the money to buy a decent brain to think with. The poor and the Armageddonites have their eyes fixed on their just reward – after they are dead – that’s a lot of TNT to clear the deck. In the meantime, do not worry, the soldiers are dying to ensure that SUV tanks are full and the boob-tube is blaring sweet-nothings.

Anyway, here is Mat Noir’s list of population control method.

  • Forget carbon credits. Institute child credits. Reserve 1.6180339887 children for every female for the next 25812.807449 days. (Bernanke must have a couple of brain cells to maintain liquidity in child credits on Chicago Commodity Exchange. If a couple exceeds their credit, cut off the little pinky of the female, and that of the male as well, the one between his bandy legs.)
  • Use a random number generator as in “your number is up.”
  • Treat dementia with an over dose of barbiturates. Like Kurt Vonnegut said the doctors should stop curing pneumonia, “the best friend of old people.”
  • Mandate drinking and driving, encourage drag racing.
  • Fire all firemen.
  • Clone Stalin – the purge expert.
  • Learn from Eating Raoul, the movie
  • Klone Kavorkian.
  • Deny medicine to proselytizing religious kooks. Ask them to pray to their favorite god for good health or go complain in person.

But I hear China is ready to scrap the one-child policy. That’s what happens when you own America and, the nouveau riche Chinois, flush with political power and foresight of a billy goat, shake their Pavlovian penis at the Mandarin communistards.


There was an old empire who swallowed a dove

March 27, 2008

There was an old empire who swallowed a dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a barrel of oil,
She swallowed the oil to fly the bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a bushel of corn,
She swallowed the corn to make the oil,
She swallowed the oil to fly the bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a lake,
She swallowed the lake to water the corn,
She swallowed the corn to make the oil,
She swallowed the oil to fly the bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a bonfire,
She swallowed the fire to boil the lake,
She swallowed the lake to water the corn,
She swallowed the corn to make the oil,
She swallowed the oil to fly the bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a bible,
She swallowed the bible to stoke the fire,
She swallowed the fire to boil the lake,
She swallowed the lake to water the corn,
She swallowed the corn to make the oil,
She swallowed the oil to fly the bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.

There was an old empire who swallowed a Franken-apple,
She swallowed the apple to proof the bible,
She swallowed the bible to stoke the fire,
She swallowed the fire to boil the lake,
She swallowed the lake to water the corn,
She swallowed the corn to make the oil,
She swallowed the oil to fly the bomber,
She swallowed the bomber to bomb the Babylonian,
She swallowed the barbarian to feed the dove,
We do not know why she swallowed the dove,
Perhaps she will make love.