Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Madison, The Fight. The Revoluton

Madison was wild during our visit to the fight. Occupying the Capitol was infectious, uplifting and, I suppose, troubling. It is not difficult to realize that the issues involved go way beyond what is there in front of us. Yes, there is the issue of collective bargaining but there is so much more.

Here and there I saw references to the Citizen United case that went through the Supreme Court that allowed corporations the status of citizens, and the right to completely fund elections without a limit to financial contributions.

At present, it is no secret that our elected officials mostly represent the position of the extremely wealthy and the corporations. All one has to do is look at the inability of congress to regulate the Banksters and other economic terrorist from looting the country--multi-million dollar bonuses? All of the money is going to greedy investors for doing nothing more than touching money and extracting a usury fee.

Citizens United also gave the right to unions to fund elections in an unlimited way. So one does not have to look too far to know why Gov. Walker is out to kill Unions. They are the last organized bastion that can fight the big corporations. If killed, it will be down to unorganized bands to represent themselves in fights with corporations, some larger than most countries.

The take over will be complete and the economics of Milton Friedman will have carried the day as the Shock Doctrine is carried out.

And so goes the revolution. The standard of living continues to drop as workers benefits are cut, wages stagnated and the price of commodities continue to elevate. Oddly enough, it has to happen because resources are finite and the population is growing uncontrolled, but why should the average Joe take the hit while the rich gain more and more?

When will the first brick fly through the windows of Goldman Sachs and the economic terrorist confronted? Will the Hamptons burn? Just keep it up and we will see.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ya Gotta Love Blizzard

It used to be as a kid when these big blows would come, and the snow ran horizontal, we'd put on all manner of winter gear and head out to see if we could stand the test. All bundled like survivors from the Shackleton Expedition, we would trudge out to the backyard fort and prepare to meet the elements as if we were explorers caught out away from civilization. We had no food, but only our own fortitude and determination. We'd huddle in a small steaming mass there in the corner of out crude hut listening for the wolves.
I remember feeling that ten inches of snow push against my thighs. It held me down, keeping me from a waiting wagon, struggling across the great plains in early march. I had seen pictures and knew they struggled. At the same time I had ventured before in this same wilderness and knew survival was always awaiting me even if my dad had to come and fetch us. I do not think we knew the early settlers had died, frozen there, maybe half eaten on Donner Pass. That was not part of my nine year old world view. We loved the struggle and we knew that it was making us stronger. At least, so we said.

It was all good fun then. We would become caked in snow, our cloths even filled with pushed in winter. We laughed, rolled, turned our cheeks red and our hands numb. But the minute death seemed eminent, it was homeward bound, certainly no more than two hundred yards away. It was a struggle mostly fighting off the attacks of brothers who were more determined to survive than me. We crawled. We reached out to be saved only to find there was no help, but hindrance from the savages that were determined to keep me in the cold to perish, whatever that meant.

When the blizzard hit today, I almost found myself wanting to out in it to relive that struggle of youth but I never even asked Ann to go knowing full well she would once again think I was an immature idiot. But then again, we have done it in the past but today the gale was a bit much, and the fire warm. Oh, the aromatic tea so delightful as the smells of dinner wafted through the house.

Out the window the blizzard blew with conviction but only in brief moment did I go out to get more wood and feed the chickens.
I remember now. The cold and the fight, the struggle, the frozen crawling was mostly done to expend energy so we might return to the warm home to feast up on a fresh pan of cookies. That, I can do today, in memory.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Revolution Watch---Disappearing Money

Watching trends globally, nationally, locally and real locally is one way of keeping track of The Revolution to a more sustainable society/world. Through the last couple of years, I have noted a few events that give indication as to the progress of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
I've looked at many national events and conditions, some local, some global but the most interesting still are the ones occurring right here in our backyard--- library hours cut, droughts, floods, firing teachers, neighbors losing their jobs, others losing their benefits, us not travelling, growing more of our own food and picking up road kill (not that I didn't do that before).

A few nights ago I attended a hearing at the local high school and heard a presentation on the need to pass a small bond issue to keep funding operations at a level that would still offer a sound education. It was a great presentation, professional, informative, well intended, all done by what are obviously very good folks. Hell, it is a very good school. I wouldn't expect less.

I doubt if very few of the 160 folks in attendance thought that the bond issue was a bad idea, after all having great schools sets the tone of the community and provides the education that powers a solid democracy.

We learned of funding shortfalls that were about to happen due to the state not having any money, nor the desire to raise taxes to get the money, so it was time to cut and in affect lower the standard of living, both for students and teachers. This is what happens when money disappears. Well, at least sorta. Doesn't mean our lives can't be rich and good, but less money in pockets of employees means less stuff. Less knowledge means less wealth of another sort. I know there are other arguments about spiritual wealth.

But the item that caught my eye was one graph that was not really presented, but one that disclosed a more far reaching indication of things to come.

What this graph shows is anticipated revenues for the school in the next five years---and it is for a stable economy. Keep in mind there is an anticipated decline of students of about 3% total in five years. This would account for some decline of revenues but very little. Also keep in mind that the shape of this graph, with the revenue and expenditures being close, has been the pattern for some time. Starting this year this professional group (Laird) has stated there will be a decline in revenue for five years. This will occur at a time when the cost of doing business of all sorts will be going up, particularly capitol costs and living costs. For instance, wheat has gone up almost 100% in the last year, fuel 30% or more, books a lot, and this list is endless. What we are looking at is a decrease in wages, decrease in benefits, decrease in materials, and that is also it is endless.

It is the revolution. It is less of everything. But then again, is having less of everything probably the only way we will be sustainable? The graph went unnoticed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Missionary Position----The Math Of Egypt

The Relentless Math of Egypt:
#1 Population 1960----27.8 million
#2 Population 20008 ---81.87
#3 Current population growth rate----2%/yr (doubles every 35 yr)
#4 Population projected for 2046----164 million
#5 Average rainfall over entire nation--2 inches/yr
#6 Alexandria rainfall (countries largest)---7.9 inches/yr
#7 Arable land total country--2% all in Nile valley
#8 Imported food 40%
#9 imported grain 60%

#10 Net oil exports: began declining in 1998. None in 2010
#11 cost of Oil increasing rapidly
#12 Cost of food increasing greatly
#13 50% live on less than $2 a day
#14 50% under are of 25
#15 unemployment large for this group

One does not have to be a master mathematician to analyse these number. They can not feed themselves. They are not exporting oil and will import next year (Oil revenues were being used to subsidize food prices, food prices almost doubled in the last 12 months). They have hoards of unemployed young people. Much of the country living in poverty. Does this look like a tinder box, or what? Catch this, their main revenue is exporting natural gas to Israel!

This is not the only country in this area with these statistics. Mexico is very close to the same.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Walk on the Railroad Trail

Two nights ago when the temperature moved up to a cozy 7 degrees, we couldn't help but head out with Chester for an early evening walk on the old railroad right-a-way. The tracks were removed some years ago, maybe about 20 or so. Many folks around here remember the last trains as they plied their trade through these parts. I believe Tony, the engineer, said in the 70s they rolled over the tracks for the last time---just fadded away, not really that long ago.

I like walking on the old berm because there is almost no chance of turning my trashed ankles. The surface has been groomed by snow mobiles, is hard, but yet soft to walk on without dropping into the deep snow that covers the rest of the landscape. It really just isn't much work as the pitch is virtually flat. Sometimes, I am a bit of sissy, but it irks me when I tromp through the deep snow and plop my foot on the edge of a hidden stick and instantly do the dreaded face plant and crunch goes the ankle.

As the railroad slid into obscurity, these roadbeds were, in many places tidied up, the rails removed and recycled, a layer of crushed limestone was placed on the surface and the rails became trails. Originally owned by the various companies the hauled the grain, milk and, at one time, people and other commodities (humans are a commodity? Not now I guess, only slaves.) the right-of-ways fortunately have remained in place to some degree.

As we sauntered down the old berm in the windless evening, the memories of the trains trickled through my brain. I do remember the steam engines, the massive brutes smoking and grinding along the tracks down in Gray's Lake Illinois, home of my grandparents. It wasn't that many years after the war. Then, they were gone and big "Uncle Gus", the fast diesel, came in. What got my attention that night on the trail was the memory of a system of transport that was economical , effective and by the looks of fairly costly to build, particularly in the 1880s.

These days we are hearing more and more about the need to reestablish the rail system in this country because of it's fuel efficiency. In the future our ability transport all our needs by personalized motor craft will not be economical. The fuel used to drive our autos and trucks will be much less available and much more expensive than it is now. The word on the street and in the mouths of most futurist is that the trains will have to come back----and if we are smart, very soon. I don't think we're smart so I reckon we will be walking here for some time, hopefully just for enjoyment.

So as I walked down the trail full of the evening's crisp air, I had to wonder how long it will be before we see a program called Trails to Rails?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Human Hibernation

I have read on numerous occasions that during the foul weather, Native Americans would frequently "sit tight" as a way of conserving energy and probably saving their lives. Having lived in a tepee ( that's ours) on the high plans of the west, one of the things we've noticed is when the wind howls and the temperature drops, being outside does not add all that much to a delightful nature experience.

Even for a white dude, it is easy to figure out that having a toasty fire, a few warm blankets, maybe a book, it isn't really that much of a brain exercise to just act like a sloth in the tent and forget about being brave and manly by going out in search of food. That was all well enough and good for our band of degenerates, because we had along a big supply of food, maybe a nice Merlot and, of course the opportunity to just jump in the old "skunk wagon" and head to town or to go home. Still, there were lessons learned or at least little mental educational indicators for spoiled, rich honkies.

But those youthful experiences and maybe a few outings in really cold weather has always been a reminder of another time, pre-white invasion, when the comfortable options were not always just a motor vehicle away. There are also historical accounts of First Nations folks simply hibernating for extended periods of time. They simply sat in there primitive huts and houses for weeks on end trying not to consume food or energy. It simply did not pay to go out. It was better to starve to death over a long period of time than freeze to death that day, while trying to find a couple of porkupines.

So what does this have to do with me? Well, I am beginning to think maybe this behavior is inherent. That's right, it is in my genes. I go outside the wind is howling, it is overcast, the birds are not even out because they are getting ice on their wings, the Gray Squirrels are hibernating or kicking back in their holes doing a bowl and for me, having my posterior embedded with hoary frost is not appropriate in that I have all ready lost part of my ass to aging. I don't even want to go ice fishing because Joe drove 40 miles, stepped from his car into a 30 mile an hour wind and wanted to cry. He caught one Bluegill.

To top it off my mode of local transportation is buried under the snow, so my means of getting sustenance is limited to walking to the grocery some 400 yards away (I know you are saying, "Oh, you poor baby'.")

The point is, I am finding staying in the house, fiddling, napping, maybe listening to a nice Bach piece or chatting with my girlfriend is like hibernating and feels surprisingly good. In fact, it feels natural, it feels like it is in my bones, given to me by thousands of years of genetically induced behavior, a way to survive. I remember in Alaska when we were camped close to the Beaufort Sea in Sept, one day we did not leave the tent because of intense wind, freezing rain and marauding bears and I personally accounted for 18 hours sleep and it wasn't even difficult, it was natural.

Then again maybe, it is a rationalization for the fact I am not doing much of any real value right now and I need an excuse. No, it is natural. I am saving energy. I am a natural man.