Truth Against the World

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Post Petroleum Human

Our species has entered into a new paradigm. There are very fundamental changes that have already happened and in complete silence. To be fair, these changes have been standing by for a couple of hundreds of years because these changes are really just a return back to normal. A return to human life before the industrial revolution changed the face of the earth to what it is now. Nothing is changing about the truth of human existence and what that existence requires of us. What is changing is that we are going to be required , once again, to tend to those basic human needs that our windfall of fossil fuel energy has made available to us. The reason why this is a paradigm shift is because these particular requirements are not in living memory. There is nothing, at least nothing in the "first world", to compare this to. Yet this shift has happened already, and what's left is for the human race to awaken to these new changes. I'm going to outline the major changes that have occurred in this essay to assist in this shift of consciousness.

What the world is experiencing is not a recession, nor is it a depression. Although it will eventually resemble a depression, it is different because the reasons for it are not the same as the reasons that cause depressions that eventually break to return to business as usual. There is no quick fix for Western Society at this point. We are told that the recession brought on by the real estate bubble collapsing has ended. It did not end. The United States government simple conjured up trillions of digital ones and zeros to distribute to the "too big to fail" financial institutions that created the mess to begin with. It's important to understand that "money" is simply a claim on wealth. So that begs the question, what is wealth? This is very important to understand because without understanding this fact, it is impossible to understand the new requirements of this new paradigm I'm trying to disclose to you.

Wealth is really just an economist's word for natural resources. When people think of wealth in this country they think of a big house, new high end vehicles, an R.V. or camper to vacation in that has all of the amenities of home, a large boat to fish or perhaps ski behind, a vacation home at the beach or in the mountains or perhaps both, and all of that stuffed to the gill with the latest and greatest electronic gizmos. After all, you haven't made it until you have a 110" 3D television hangin' on your wall. And most important is a large bank account with enough money in it so that you and yours never have to work. Success in America is being part of the free money club. The club where the "prosperity machine" just gives you money for free because you have so much of it already. What is behind all of this? In who's world is it fair to expect that the above outlined life style is acceptable with no ethical or moral dilemma's? While you are busy working 80 hours a week chasing down this dream, peasants in third world countries are literally slaving away for just enough money to pay for a subsistence that they provided for themselves before our American Dream showed up and took it from them. Never mind the brutality and cruel inhumanity involved with the production of your tube socks and 3D televisions. What about the destruction of the only thing that keeps us alive?

The Earth is a living organism in which you are just an atom. However our unique importance is that we compose the brains of this organism. We are each an atom with a place in the mind of the planet. We are the Earth's conscious ability and that responsibility needs to be realized before we commit genocide and then suicide. It is time to grow out of the two year old's mentality of "mine" without any understanding beyond that selfishness. The Earth's biosphere is a very complicated living organism. Part of the new paradigm requires us to define wealth differently than we do now. The rules on how to gain wealth need to change to be sustainable for all life on earth.

Real Wealth

So what is wealth in the old paradigm? Wealth comes from the extraction of the Earth's resources. Wealth is fossil fuels, trees, soil, fresh water, sea life, rare earth metals, ores, grains, vegetables, livestock and all of the other substances that nourish our lives that come from the physical world. There is nothing wrong with using these things, but there is something wrong with the way that we use them. The problem, as I see it, is that we use these things to gain something known as profit. We all seek to personally profit by the exploitation of the Earth's resources. 

 Let's look at something as simple as a wooden table to illustrate how this works. Before we can even make the wooden table we have to have the wood to make it, and we get that wood by cutting down a tree. Seems fair enough, we have a need, the tree fills that need, we cut the tree down. But what else was that tree doing before we cut it down? The most important job that the tree was doing was to take carbon dioxide, which we exhale, and turn it into oxygen, which we need to stay alive. What is that worth as a source of wealth? You can't have wealth without sustained life. Another important function of that tree is the amount of rain water that the tree captures and then releases through transpiration. The tree may also be called home by many different species of animals. My point is that a tree is not just a tree, and it's not just a commodity to be exploited, it serves many very important functions for life on Earth. Yet we have needs as a species so there is no inherent problem with cutting down a tree to fill a human need. We are as much a part of the biosphere as the birds are. However that tree represents value which represents wealth. At some point in this chain profit emerges. Unrestrained capitalism simply views that tree as a commodity to be turned into profit. It does not see all of the other necessary functions that the tree performs for life on Earth. This has to change or we will commodify everything and end up on a planet which is inhospitable to human life.

So we cut down the tree to make a table. Once the tree is on the ground it no longer has value as a living being. However it still has value which can be turned into a profit via human ingenuity and labor. This is the stage where value is added. We use tools (made from other natural resources) and energy to craft the tree into a table. The tree has had value added to it through man's labor and ingenuity. In other words the now dead tree is worth more than it was laying on the ground as a dead tree. It has become a useful table. The carpenter is now free to sale this table for money, which is a claim on both the tree and the effort that went into making the tree into a table. The point is that without the tree money becomes nothing more than dead trees. The tree represents the primary economy and man's labor represents the secondary economy. The world of money is the tertiary economy and this is where we arrive at the complicated economical terms that are beyond the scope of this essay. The tertiary economy is also where vast amounts of wealth are stolen.

Money used to be measured by gold, which is a natural and limited resource. That's why gold works as a measure of currency. There is a finite amount of it and so there can only be so much money based on the amount of gold. If you take the gold out of the equation you are left with fiat currency which is unbridled and can theoretically continue exponentially increasing ad infinum. Millions of ones and zeros becomes billions, becomes trillions, becomes gigagagillions, becomes ridiculous, exponential, digital, projectile vomiting. We are in the process of moving into the nausea stage just before the projectile vomiting. Now, add to this idea of unbridled ones and zeroes a method of banking known as fractional reserve banking, and you have a whimsical hallucination. Somebody deposits one hundred dollars of paper money into a bank, and now the bank loans out that money nine more times, or a gigagagillion more times depending on the proximity to the bull shit black hole that the particular bank inhabits. The money is fiat to begin with. It is created from nothing and is multiplied by nothing to finally arrive at, you guessed it, nothing. The only thing that keeps our currency real at this point is our collective agreement that it's worth what we think it should be, and more importantly, our military is forcing everybody to take our money seriously. The irony is that in so doing we are keeping ourselves imprisoned behind placebo bars of our own making. Bars that keep the rich richer and the poor poorer. So our money is fake and that allows the talking heads suspended by strings to spew forth whatever machinations they deem necessary to explain the Dow Jones Industrial Average's nonsensical average of the day. The reality behind these mischievous media poltergeist is something else entirely. Unlike this conjured up digital vomitus, the reality deals with...well, reality. Reality being cut and dried laws such as the laws of physics (of the Newtonian variety that is, not the Einsteinian Quantum "we don't know shit about physics" type).

Growth cares about the laws of thermodynamics, namely the law of entropy. Entropy can be summed up quaintly by the saying "energy follows it's bliss," that is to say that it goes from concentrated to diffuse always. The fossil fuels we have been drunkenly using for the last 200 years are just using us to follow their own bliss. They want to be burned up. We have gladly served their wish, and we have profited by way of increasing our numbers from a billion to nearly 7 billion in approximately fifty years. How do you suppose we did that? We increased our numbers by seven times in just over 50 years. We did that by transforming a dead prehistoric Earth kingdom into various manifestations of corn. By that I mean that we alchemically transformed inedible petroleum into food. There is a law that is helpful in understanding why we have reached, as Richard Heinberg has said, the "End of Growth." That law is one that comes from ecology and it's known as Liebigs Law of the Minimum.

Liebig's law is very simple. It states that the least abundant and necessary element that is required for an organisms growth will be the limiting factor in that organisms growth. In other words, if we don't eat vitamin C we will get scurvy and eventually die. Think of it like this. Say there is only one source of vitamin C and it's an orange tree. Now say that there is only one orange tree in existence. This orange tree would be the limiting factor for human growth. If we want to live long and prosper than we would have to figure out a way to keep our numbers in harmony with the amount of vitamin C this one tree will produce for us. If we grow beyond whatever sustainable number of humans that is, then we will put ourselves in a position where some will get scurvy and die. Naturally this will result in fighting over whatever oil, I mean oranges, are available. Civilization has reached this point. The fictional orange tree, no matter how many chemicals we apply to it, can only physically produce so many oranges and it will limit our growth. Petroleum is our orange tree.

Achilles's Slippery Heal 

This is where an understanding of a concept known as "Peak Oil" needs to be understood for what it is and is not. Unfortunately the concept of peak oil (PO) has been treated as if it is debatable when it is treated at all by MSM. It is not debatable. The United States peaked in 1971, and the world peaked in 2006 according to the International Energy Agency. The U.S. military has already published a report dealing with this and you can be sure that they have already begun making arrangements to deal with the fact of PO. I understand that this is an issue that people will either let in as truth, or not let in as truth. As far as I can tell this is where the rubber meets the road where living in denial or truth is concerned. Those who believe that we will return to business as usual (at least for the past two hundred years) think PO is hogwash if they are even aware of it at all, and those who know the reality of PO are greatly concerned. Those who have studied PO even for a day reside somewhere between freakin' out and gloomily depressed for the future. A growing number seem to have gone through most of the stages of grief and are left wondering what they're going to do about it. Many books have been written about PO ***, and so I'm not going to devote too much space to it here, but I will look at what I believe to be some of the most persuasive stories pertaining to the PO narrative.

First is the fact that the U.S. tapped into the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) in late June of 2011. The reasons given were because they needed to make up for supply loses due to all of the unrest in the middle east. Obama ordered 30 million barrels to be released from the total of 726.5 million barrels held in the reserve. To give you a way to measure these numbers just consider that the U.S. uses 20 million barrels a day and the world uses around 85 million barrels a day (yes, the U.S. uses around 25% of the worlds petroleum production....naw on that for a bit). The last time the SPR was tapped into was in 2005 because of hurricane Katrina and even then only 11 million barrels were released. So that means that events in the world have effected supply in the U.S. worst then hurricane Katrina, which knocked out 95% of the gulf oil production capacity. What is the emergency? Libya? Okay, before Operation Take Over Libya's Oil started Libya was supplying the world with around 1.8 million barrels per day. The world uses 85 million barrels per day. No other OPEC countries could cough up enough production to carry this shortfall. That means that the world is barely keeping up with global demand for petroleum. I'll let you draw your own conclusion from the above presented data.

The other big story is one that looks at recent oil discovery. This is where the PO story is most telling in my opinion. Exxon has recently found the largest gulf oil find in decades. It's an estimated 700 million barrels of oil. At 20 million barrels per day (bpd) that is 35 days of oil supply for the U.S. Now that 700 million figure is an estimate and that means that in the best case there is no way we would retrieve that much oil, we never do. But suffice it to say that this represents a month of supply for the U.S. One month! And this is the best we can do? It get's worse. Remember BP's latest disaster in the gulf? They were drilling in 5000 feet of water and it was at such a depth that humans could not even get to the blowout to fix it, we had to use robots. It was a desperate disaster that wrecked unknown amounts of damage to the ecology of the gulf and was likely the most expensive oil disaster ever. What this should have taught the world is that it's not worth drilling in water that's so deep we can't even get to the well in the event there is a problem. This deep sea oil is simply beyond our responsible reach. This new find, Exxon's baby, it's in 7000 feet of water 250 miles south of New Orleans! This is insanity! Why are we even considering drilling further out than Macondo? If we are not already dealing with the reality of PO then why are we considering drilling 2000 feet deeper than the BP disaster? This well is 1.5 miles under the ocean. If there was a problem at that depth then there would be nothing we could do about it and whatever amount of oil is in that well would end up in the ocean. So we are considering destroying the gulf for a month's worth of oil. Yet PO is nonsense?

In my opinion the fact that the U.S. Army has already validated PO, we've taped into the SPR, and Exxon is trying to drill in 1.5 miles of water 250 miles out to sea barely a year after the BP disaster, all coalesce to create a picture that simply proves that PO is a reality now. Not a conspiracy theory perpetrated by Big Oil as some talking head puppets would have you believe. So what is keeping the population from accepting the fact of PO? It would seem that the U.S. government would have been sounding the alarms about this if it were true. Or would they? Well Carter sounded the alarm about this in 1971 when the U.S. peaked domestically. He put solar hot water heaters on the roof of the white house and told America to turn down the thermostat, put on sweaters, and begin learning how to live without the free energy orgasm of the past. 40 years ago a president attempted to address this issue, and look how time and history has treated president Carter. He's seen as the largest failure as a president the U.S. has ever had. That's a little ironic if you consider the reality of PO now. Back when Carter addressed this issue the world was still rich in petroleum. The middle east was largely an untapped reserve. Now look at it! The middle east can't even make up 1.8 million barrels that disappeared from Libya.

We've been occupying the Middle East for the last 10 years because that's where the lion's share of the worlds oil is located. This is no secret to anybody. This is the case because our government knows that without cheap petroleum our country is doomed. If you don't already know how dependent we are on oil as a nation than there is nothing I can do to convince you how important this is. Petroleum has literally entered into the molecules that compose our bodies. We have turned our world into a petroleum world. Our civilization requires oil as our bodies requires blood. Oil was king in the 20th century. Oil is the story of the 21st century.

Don't Panic and Grow some Taters
What are we to do about this? What type of meaningful action is there for anybody to begin addressing the implications of the decline of oil? The most important thing for anybody to do is to accept that all of this is true and that our leaders and the MSM has been lying through their teeth. Accept that petroleum is on it's way out and begin realizing what this will mean for the future of our race. The party is over and when we wake up we're going to be hung over. The ability to prepare society for the realities of petroleum scarcity has passed already. It's too late to save civilization from the onslaught that will be the next one hundred years. The best you can hope for is to prepare yourself psychologically for the hard reality of the near future. If you are aware of the reality than when the facts turn you into an economic non-person you won't be blind sided by it. Have this conversation with your family to prepare them. There isn't much time to accept what is happening because it's already happening. All of the unrest in the world, below the surface, is caused by our collective knowledge that we're about to drink the last ounce of fresh water that's available in this expansive desert of civilization. Simply put, global panic is starting to set in. Our politicians are not going to inform you about this because it would be political suicide to do so. MSM is not going to inform you because they are controlled by the corporatocracy. America has collectively decided to remain delusional about this. The only way you're going to know the truth is to seek it out on your own.  

To sum up this essay, consider this analogy that Michael Ruppert is so fond of: When you are camping, and a bear decides to raid your camp, you just have to not be the slowest camper. Any edge that you have because you are aware of this reality already makes you not the slowest camper. That's really the most hope I can offer to anybody. The best we can hope for is to internalize all of this and accept it so that we will be psychologically prepared for it when it happens to us.

*** For further reading these are my recommendations:

The Long Emergency, by James Howard Kunstler
Reinventing Collapse, by Dimitri Orlov
Confronting Collapse, by Michael Ruppert
Peak Everything, by Richard Heinberg
The Long Descent, by John Michael Greer
Deer Hunting With Jesus, by the late Joe Bageant 

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Revolutionary Act

I've been thinking about lessening my psychological dependence on the internet lately.  Most of my time online is spent reading news on topics of interest.  That mostly includes news that relates to the collapse of industrial civilization, the global economy, environmental destruction, and peak oil.  A good percentage of that information comes to me by way of a handful of blogs that I follow.  I also spend a good bit of my time on the forum of which I've been a member for about two years now.  I listen to a lot of Pandora and listen to a few podcasts.  All of those things I see as benefiting my life because they allow me to receive news about my world that is not bought and paid for by the Corporatocracy.  Pandora allows me to hear music that I would hear no other way and with no advertisement and that privilege costs me about 40 dollars per year.  Without the internet I would probably not know the specific truths about the world that I know.  I have come to realize that my problem with the internet is social media, namely FaceBook (because it's the only true "social media" that I use on the internet).  So what is my problem with FaceBook?

Mostly it's that I think social media cheapens life rather than enriches it.  It allows for people who would not otherwise keep up with your life to keep up with your life, but in a cheap way.  It has cheapened the word "friend."  It has usurped that word and has changed it's meaning to something more akin to a term that doesn't get used much anymore, acquaintance.  An acquaintance is somebody whom you know due to some social function that you may have from time to time.  It's not somebody with whom you are actively involved.  A friend is somebody with whom you are genuinely involved.  A friend is somebody with whom you will inconvenience yourself for without having to think about it.  A friend is somebody with whom you will go out of your way for and be willing to spend vast amounts of time with, and in person, because you want to.  A friend is somebody whom you genuinely care about.  A FB friend can be that, but mostly your "friends" on FB do not adhere to any of the above qualities.

The question is, if somebody does meet all of those criteria for you, than why is FB needed?  Because it makes it easier for your real friends to keep up with your life?  If somebody is so busy that they have no time for you, than are they really your friend?  I can hear the arguments now.  What about friends who live hundreds or thousands of miles away?  Are we too busy to talk to each other on the phone?  Are we too busy to email each other?  Are we too busy to drop by and say hello every once in a while? The answer to all of those questions is a most certain yes and that is part of my point.  FB enables us to drift apart in reality and yet stay abreast of each other's lives.  You may spend an hour on FB keeping up with 100 friends everyday.  That would be just over 30 seconds per friend.  So you can spend more time with some and less with others.  Yet you are mostly spending time with an echo of that person's life.  We all whisper into the cloud and what's received by everybody else is just an echo of an echo.  What kind of value does this have?  How much time do you spend on FB and Twitter?

I personally spend, on average, 15 minutes a day.  Occasionally I won't even get on.  I have around 100 "friends" on FB.  Around a quarter of that are relatives.  I even have friends on FB whom I have never met in real life, and probably never will meet.  What is the point of that?  If we are to live lives that are that abstract and isolated from each other's physical presence that it's not even required to meet one time in the flesh, then what is the point?  Is physical presence no longer required to be somebodies "friend?"  It's true, physical presence is not required, and in what way is that increasing our humanity?  What is the value in knowing somebody because you have been in their physical presence?  How can you have real feelings about somebody with whom you will never meet?  You are just in relations with their digital avatar, and they yours.  What is the logical conclusion for all of this?

Today I found myself at a crossroads pertaining to these very questions.  My wife's blackberries track ball quit working today, and my blackberry has never worked properly.   These blackberries represent the first smart phones either of us have ever owned, and we got them two years ago.  Our contract with sprint was up and we could go get new phones without paying anything (with rebates that is) and so we decided to go and get new phones.  With my EMS discount our total bill is $130 per month for unlimited data, which isn't bad in comparison to some plans.  If you add our hard line (which my wife needs for her business) and household internet that brings our total communication technology bill up to $230 a month, over half of which is due to internet for the house and phones.  We found a new 4G phone that's one of the latest and greatest pieces of electronic gizmory for $100 each.  It's a $600 dollar phone. That's a good deal in anybodies book.  Of course you had to agree to another two years for that deal.  We decided to go with it and at the last minute, just before it was time to sign the doted line, the salesman says "you know about the new 10 dollar data fee per phone right?"  No, I hadn't heard about that...due tell.  Turns out that the internet's getting used more frequently (nooo, can't be) and so they have to build more towers to accommodate the demands on the system.  That's how Capitalism works.  Infrastructure costs gets passed down to the consumer.  I understand that.

The salesman didn't have to tell me that.  He was just being nice thinking that "surely 20 more dollars a month isn't going to sway them."  I put a stop to the proceedings and told him that I needed to discuss this with my wife first.  It just didn't feel right to me.  I've been thinking about going in the opposite direction.  Less communication technology and internet dependence, not more.  I especially don't want to pay for more smart phone distraction.  We decided to go with non-smart phones, whatever they are called now....dinosaurs?  My plan is going to be $70 dollars less per month now.  That's a weeks worth of groceries for my modest family of three (and that's organic produce).

It feels to me like a revolutionary act.  Society is normalizing the functions of smart phones.  What started as just a phone has become a game of how much distractions can we stuff into one electronic device.  Life is becoming so shitty and depressing that we need electronic refuge to lesson the importance of our physical world.  We need distraction from how dysfunctional our world has become.  Inside that magical device is the answer to all of our problems.  Or so it would seem.  What it really is is something to capture our attention while we allow our beautiful human world to rot away.  We aren't angry about all of the injustices because we are too distracted by techno wizardry to notice.

Ironically these devices are now helping our younger discontented generations to organize themselves into little isolated agents of destruction.  They know that their futures have been sold down the river of our own lack of insight and concern for the future.  They know that they have no place in this consumer economy.  A world where the winners get to buy the latest and greatest at prices that would feed entire villages for a month and even years in some cases.  A world that creates losers who place their hopes in a little piece of shiny and flashy plastic.  Where they can plug their ears into the soundtrack of their own hopeless life and watch youtube and youporn in an attempt to find something worth caring about.  Having not been able to find it they have decided to start rioting, and stealing their own little piece of overpriced designer what-have-you's.  They are becoming little organized capitalists doing what the tenets of capitalism has taught them to do, smash and grab economics.  They have learned this by watching their idols on the idiot box.  You know the idols that make it on shows like American Idol, America's Got Talent, America Can Dance, America is a Delusion, and Jersey Shore.  How is what the flash mobs and rioters in England been doing any different from what the CEO's of our corporations do on a daily basis?  Exploitation is exploitation no matter what side of the law it's on.  The CEO's steal the lives of third world peasants and the natural resources of the commons from lands that are not their own to make the crap that we buy.  The rioters are just stealing a few minutes of those same peasants existence and a small piece of the commons for their plundered loot.

It's not my objective to argue the merits of socialism versus capitalism in this particular blog entry.  The main idea is that I believe we have gone too far with communication technology.  We have crossed the line between enriching and diminishing human life.  I don't know at what point that line is located, but I know that FB is on the diminishing side of it.  It's my intention to continue the momentum of the day.  My next act is to regain some of my humanity.  As simple and superficial as it may sound, I'm going to delete my FB page.  If you say that this is not a revolutionary and truly meaningful and human act, than why not delete your FaceBook page?

South Park episode dealing with FB

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Stolen Blog

This blog was actually intended to be a comment following this blog  which posed the question "A Divine Universe" as it's title.  The name of the blog is "Off the Grid in Minneapolis," which I found by reading the Arch Druid report.  Apparently you can only write 4096 characters on a google blog comment.  I wonder how they arrived at that particular number?  At any rate, I figured I'd just post this as a blog and then link to it under the comment section of William Hunter Duncan's blog. He is an excellent writer, and if you are looking for a thought provoking read I highly recommend you check it out.  His latest blog inspired me to muddle through this rather stolen  

Let me just say that as an EMT I've seen the end result of not wearing a helmet.  In SC, the state I live in, it's legal to ride a motorcycle with flip flops on your feat and no helmet.  The body is resilient, but metal and asphalt win every time.  It's a wise decision that you have made to keep your brains secure in your cranial vault.

I was just commenting on FB about Science's hubris.  A friend of mine posted this ‎"what happens to faith and belief in a fully explained world/universe?"  It was on a show called "curiosity: did God create the universe" on the Discovery channel.  The first thing that comes to mind is the audacity of this thinking.  I've been reading a philosophy 101 book that I kept from one of my many attempts at "higher education".  It's interesting to see how the Empiricist got a foot hold on framing reality.  Philosophy is not a science really, it's sort of a pre-science to my mind.  Every honest scientific venture should have to pass through the filter of philosophy...unfortunately this is not the case.  I think that's where the hubristic thinking comes.  Science has one a place in the collective mind that mostly presupposes that everything is capable of being broken down and explained via science.  But science is just a method for exploring the physical world, and it does have limitations.  Personally I think "sting theory" is rather ridiculous, and I also think that "Quantum Theory" is true and anyone taking science seriously should be forced to reevaluate their scientific presuppositions.  They don't because they have faith in Science just as the religious have faith in their chosen religion.

But they claim logic and reason is on their side.  They claim this while ignoring the philosophy that predated their beloved science.  Socrates's entire point was that he did not know, and neither do you, but contemplating the answer is a worth while endeavor.  In the end one must decide what one believes based on one's own mind.  Ask a scientist what started the big bang to begin with if their so logical.  Explain that logically.  They can't do it.  It's no different than believing in a creator God.  God came from nothing as did the big bang and to my mind it really doesn't matter.  I answer the question of how something came from nothing by saying that there never was a beginning.  Consciousness IS and has always been.  Infinite is a faulty idea because it's a paradox by it's very definition.  Infinity cannot exist because it cannot express itself as finite.  This is an idea I recently came across while watching a documentary titled "The Nature of Existence" (it's available for instant download on netflix if you have it and it's worth the watch).

Yes, that makes sense to me, and it was this particular Rabbi's answer to the question of how an omniscient and omnipresent God can create a finite existence.  Personally I don't believe in God, at least not as God is known to religion.  I believe in the same thing as God but that word has lost it's meaning.  I agree with the Buddha who when asked "does God exist" said "it does not matter."  It really does not matter and at any rate we can't know until we die, and even then we may never know.  Intellectually we are all agnostic whether we choose to accept that or not.

To my mind an intellectual is somebody who exhibits the characteristic employed in Aristotle's words:  "the mark of an educated mind is the ability to entertain a thought without accepting it."  He may very well have said the mark of an intelligent mind.  I'll take it a step further and say that an intellect is somebody who can follow that advice while realizing that in the end one must choose to believe in something.  In fact one has no choice because even a nihilist believes in nothing...which is something, isn't it?  Nothing doesn't exist just like infinity doesn't exist.  Yet in those ideas the infinite is expressed and it's full with it's own emptiness.

Your words were well received by myself.  In a way my idea of spirituality has been expanded by reading them, so thank you for that.  It's quite a feat to get those scientist to explain how something came from nothing.  Personally I won't carry on with them unless they seriously ponder that question with me.  Most want to sweep it under the rug and then go on to claim their intellectual superiority.  I'm with Socrates and I love the Socratic Method.  Wow you're smart, but wait you're an worries, so am I.  Let's see if you and me can put our heads together and come up with something that is not idiotic.  Do you care to be honest with yourself, or do you want to remain with your head in the infinite universe of your ass?  I apologize for the long winded comment, but this is a subject in which I can go on about infinitely.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bele Chere Musings

As I write this blog I'm listening to the music of Sonmi Suite.  My wife and I were pulled into their free show at Bele Chere in Ashville NC on Sunday.  Unfortunately it was at the end of the show and we only saw the last two tracks.  They reminded me of Radiohead's live music, but I have realized that this is only because Radiohead was my only frame of reference.  After doing some looking around I discovered that their particular genre is "Electronic Rock."  Here is a sampling of their music.  And here they are live:

This was one of the tracks I heard performed live and it was an amazing experience:

To my ears, their music is the future of rock music.  I'm very ignorant about their particular genre and of the sound tools that they use.  However, they are unabashedly using computer software in conjunction with actual instruments to create their music.  I'm very pulled to the sound of this music which creates a paradox for me.  The reason for this paradox is because lately I have been thinking about dropping out of the electronic communication world all together.  No more facebook, youtube, blogs, smart phone, netflix, online forums, Pandora, or anything else that uses the internet.  Can you imagine what your life would be like without those things?  A better question would be is it even possible to be a contributing and active member of society without using the internet?  I think the closest one could get to this would be in one's personal life.

I work as an EMT for an EMS agency and a lot of what I do is on a computer and online.  One would think that computers and the internet would have no place for the work of emergency medicine.  I work with the human mind and body in distressed states.  My work is to bring a calm order to the chaos of the human system in distress.  The majority of the physical work that I do does not involve computers, it involves lots of plastic and bodily fluids.  After that work is done, however, is where my computer usage skyrockets.  I have to use a computer and therefore computer software to write a PCR (patient care report) and pretty much all of my interaction with the EMS system, i.e. management, operations, logistics, involves the use of different online software.  The majority of the information I receive from my employer comes via email.  This has reached a point to where if we run out of toilet paper at the base we can't get anymore until we request it on an online work forum.  Where will this stop?  This is just a snap shot of my dilemma where pertains to communication technology.  To get to the heart of this dilemma is to ask this question:  does the internet and communication technology in general make us more or less human?  This question is where my intended rejection of this technology emanates from.

Does all of this technology really contribute in a good way to the human condition?  If I were to use the music of Sonmi Suite and Radiohead as a gauge to answer this question than the answer would be a resounding yes.  What is it about electronic music that so thoroughly draws me into it?  The combination of the Rock and Electronic genres is simply irresistible to me.  In my opinion this is the classical music for the future.  What Mozart and Bach are to us today is what this music will be to the future.  I believe the internet's days are numbered due to the energy constraints that have peaked already for planet Earth.  Take away petroleum and the internet will blink out of existence as quickly as it blinked into it.  Discussing this topic is probably a mute point due to this, but none the less it's here now and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

My thinking on this question of communication technology really ramped up after watching a documentary titled "We Live in Public."  From Wikipedia:

The film details the experiences of "the greatest Internet pioneer you've never heard of,"[1] Josh Harris. The millionaire, the first Internet television network during the infamous tech boom of the late '90s. After achieving prominence amongst the Silicon Valleyset, Harris became interested in controversial human experiments which tested the effects of media and technology on the development of personal identity. Ondi Timoner documented the major business-related moments of Harris's life for more than a decade, setting the tone for her documentary of the virtual world and its supposed control of human lives.[1]Among Harris' experiments touched on in the film is the art project "Quiet: We Live in Public," an OrwellianBig Brother concept developed in the late '90s which placed more than 100 artists in a human terrarium under New York City, with myriad webcams following and capturing every move the artists made.[2] The pièce de résistance was a Japanese-style capsule hoteloutfitted with cameras in every pod, and screens that allowed each occupant to monitor the other pods[3] installed in the basement by artist Jeff Gompertz.[4]The film's website describes how, "With Quiet, Harris proved how, in the not-so-distant future of life online, we will willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire. Through his experiments, including another six-month stint living under 24-hour live surveillance online which led him to mental collapse, he demonstrated the price we will all pay for living in public."
And here is the preview:

I recommend the movie to anybody interested in the question of what the future will look like given the internet does not disappear due to Peak Oil.  As crazy as Josh Harris is, it's probably due mostly to his genius.  The main issue explored in the film is one of privacy.  It's shocking how much information about you is made available on the web just by your active participation in it's use.  Most adds that you see now on sites like google, yahoo, or Facebook are tailored to your particular interest based on what is known about you on the web.  Pay attention to them and you will notice this tailored marketing.  So i started thinking about the question of privacy.  Personally, being a writer, I have never put much stock in privacy.  I simply do not care about everybody knowing what I think.  I suppose physical privacy is important to me, and the privacy of those whom I love.  For instance, I wouldn't want the world to see my wife and I make love, or to know about our private conversations.  I suppose I'm concerned about visual privacy but not mental privacy.  I don't want the world to see me but I do want it to hear me.

Where the internet and communication technology decrease our humanity is by driving a wedge in between the mind and natural things.  I think this is my main source of continued skepticism.  I realize that saying this presupposes a belief that the internet is not a "natural" thing, and I further realize that a good case could be made that the internet is just as natural as the 100 year old Oak that I can see in my yard from where I sit now.  Essentially the argument that the internet is just as natural as the tree goes like this:  we are a product of nature and therefore all of our intellectual creations cannot be separate from nature.  A large part of living in this supposedly civilized, technological, consumerist corporatocracy is collectively forgetting about the natural world.  This has to be the case in order to exploit natural resources at any cost without regret.  Forgetting about nature is what brings you the drive through, fried and fast feeding troughs.  It is not natural to drive a car to a speaker where you order food, swipe a card, and a few quick moments later are handed a bag containing a fully cooked meal.  Along with this meal you are handed what will quickly become just more trash for the landfill which is made of dead trees and petroleum products not much different chemically from the contents those packages contain.  Synthetic crap designed to slowly kill you.  The point is that in order to participate in this travesty you have to agree to forget about nature.

As a society we have forgotten about nature.  The internet (and air conditioning during this miserably hot and humid summer) provides us with the escape we need to seal this deal.  On the internet everything is real in our minds.  The internet is our collective mind, and it provides us with synthetic and electronic life because the world is becoming shittier by the day.  Our non-negotiable way of life has become more important than our humanity.  I believe that being human has a lot to do with inhabiting a body, and this body needs the natural world to fulfill it's human purpose.  The irony is that while we do live in public we are all alone and isolated from one another in the flesh.  How often have you been in a room with friends having pleasant conversation, you blink, look up, and everybody is staring at their smart phones and no longer engaged with the world out here?  This recently happened to me and it gave me pause.  There is nothing wrong with using a smart phone right?

The problem for me is that this technology is so very addicting, and it's very hot and full of mosquitoes outside.  Inside I can be entertained while maintaining a desirable temperature.  Inside the net I can cater to my every desire and I don't have to be reminded of how screwed up the world really is, and I can do it while listening to the inevitable marriage of human artistic expression and electronic virtual reality.  In a way, I think I'm drawn to the likes of Sonmi Suite because they prove me wrong where technology is concerned.  They flip all of this on it's head because here you have technology expressed in human form.  It seems that it should be a problem, but I heard it with my own ears, and I danced with the hippies at Bele Chere in Ashville NC while we all jammed out to the brilliance that is Sonmi Suite.  It felt more human than I have felt in a long time to be at that place in time.  I suppose being human mostly means living in a place of paradox.  I'll leave on this note.  This makes me wonder what is possible for electronic music creation.  This is the future of music.  When combined with traditional instruments it becomes magnificent in a very human way.

multi-touch the storm - interactive sound visuals - subcycle labs from christian bannister on Vimeo.