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Resistance as commodity: America medicated and enslaved

Mon, May 9, 2011

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by Sandy Krolick, who blogs at kulturCritic

We have all sat enthralled by the recent images dancing across our HD TVs, our PC and Notebook screens, as events have unfolded in the Middle East and Northern Africa over the past few months. From Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, a surge of popular uprisings has appeared before us in brilliant and revolutionary technicolor – the actions themselves having become spectacular commodities for our collective consumption. Better than reality television, we sit engrossed in these unfolding media spectacles.

But that is not all. We have also been quick to adopt as our own the frequent refrains we are fed by our media pundits and political leaders concerning the interpretation of such events. Their drumbeat is incessant: these enslaved masses want freedom! they want choice! they want democracy! they want what we have in America! And we the people dutifully allow such assumptions to go unchecked while their irony escapes us. The facts are that America has long supported those very regimes against which the rebels are now fighting. The uprisings across MENA have become just another gimmick, another prop, another marketing tool for our own elite and their paid propagandists in a bid to suppress domestic unrest and opposition here in the homeland.

But this is not the end of the story. The US and its ad hoc coalition of co-conspirators have now gone further with this charade, claiming the moral high ground and inserting their own military muscle into that civil war in Libya. They have attacked a sovereign nation while the media mythology of a humanitarian mission continues unabated, faithfully echoing the talking points from our beguiling leader: that we are fighting for the liberation of our Muslim brothers and sisters who are longing to join the ranks of the free and reap the benefits of unbridled democratic capitalism. (BTW: It’s a song whose basic theme sounds an awful lot like the Soviet regime not too many years ago claiming to be fighting for the liberation of its brothers in Afghanistan.) And we the people sit guilelessly in the back bleachers listening to the choir and accepting such pabulum as gospel from the church hymnal.

We still remain comfortably entombed, again perched in front of those omnipresent big screens, gawking at the protests in the Wisconsin State House, and other sympathetic rallies that emerged across the U.S.A. We watched the quaint antiwar demonstration in Washington D.C. last December (attended by none other than author, blogger and war correspondent Chris Hedges along with the infamous Daniel Ellsberg). And we are witness to the demonstrations planned for New York’s Union Square, inveighing against the abuses of kleptocrats at Bank of America and other high-rolling, high-riding banksters. But, has the movement of resistance, the very act of defiance, of rebellion, itself not been co-opted in advance by the system that it is aimed at reigning-in or overturning?

As the Soviet émigré Mikhail Epstein pointed out many years ago in Transculture and Society: a society like ours, a culture that commodifies everything it touches, “is able to absorb and assimilate even revolutionary challenges [through] the mechanism of commodification.” In this way, any radical challenge to the system is instantly transformed, “denial itself, turned into another commodity.” Or, as Allan Bloom suggested with a slightly different twist in The Closing Of The American Mind, a liberal democracy is capable of taking even the most countercultural activities and absorbing them into the mainstream, transforming such acts into acceptable cultural practice – with appropriate rules, policies and procedures.

It is not an unreasonable bet that this is what happens time and again to the resistance movement in the United States. It is turned into a commodity to be hawked through new media like Facebook and Twitter, proffered for consumption by the mainstream corporate press, and corralled by the establishment of new political movements like the Tea Party gang. Resistance becomes hoodwinked and then mainstreamed; brought in under the Big Tent. Here we have the taming and suppression of the human spirit. Even in full battle mode, those seeking actual change have simply become a spectacle to be observed, tolerated, enjoyed, even lauded; then clicked off once the next commercial bursts onto our screens. So much for radical politics and real rebellion in America: even our most sacred acts of defiance, of insurgency, are now routinely transformed into objets de art, objets de cultura – commodities to be used for entertainment, distraction and propaganda.

The entire apparatus of our culture – a “culture of make-believe” as Derrick Jensen has dubbed it – may be brought to bear at any moment in defusing resistance, not through authoritarian suppression or banana-republic brutality, but through more subtle means of control, persuasion and marketing: allowing it, praising it, and repackaging it for distribution to the public. This in turn further stabilizes and emboldens the system, reinforcing its faux image of cultural, political or religious openness. As Allan Bloom well noted, openness becomes the enemy of the good; but it also becomes the enemy of any real challenge to the system itself. Openness betrays its true nature, as a core element of that “inverted totalitarianism” that Chris Hedges is so fond of discussing these days.

Ours is a system that gives much lip service to openness, reform, and fairness; but in reality it is one in which real change has become a genuine impossibility. Unfortunately – and what Hedges may have missed in his own acts of resistance – even our best attempts at “disrupting” the State or its mechanisms are easily hijacked by the regime and quickly turned into political treasure. In other words, while the State’s police forces and other Homeland Security thugs gingerly manhandle the rebels themselves (according to more or less agreed upon rules of engagement), the acts of rebellion are commoditized and re-packaged by the media, our politicians, and their puppet masters for general consumption by, and medication of, the populace.

In this way, any legitimate internal threats to the State are effectively disarmed through commodification and effective marketing. And the snake oil works! We demonstrate, we disrupt, we challenge, we take our lumps and go to jail for a night; and we think we are free and have a bona fide voice in how this entire show is produced. But the truth is they have us right where they want us; and us, what do we have? We have nothing but our medications and our enslavement to the State!

But, if you have any doubts about America’s totalitarian allegiances or the commodification of our resistance to it, just look at the arrests in Washington D.C. Sunday, 10 April of those demonstrating against our militarization of Latin America and our material support for totalitarian dictators in MENA and elsewhere around the globe. In that bit of news we were spectators to an “annual event” of self-described “street theatre and artistic expression,” including puppets and performances, as integral parts of the planned “die-in.” If the American resistance movement has not been transformed into just another commodity – another distracting entertainment – of our society of the Spectacle, then I do not know what it has become. I did not see street theatre in demonstrations across Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya. And I do not now see artistic expressions on the streets of Bahrain. We should stop drinking the cool-aid my friends!

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This essay originally appeared at kulturCritic.

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Guy McPherson was interviewed by Adbusters. Transcript is here.

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79 Responses to “Resistance as commodity: America medicated and enslaved”

  1. Brutus Says:

    Thanks for your guest post. The message here is an old one, already told in Commodify Your Dissent, published in 1997. It bears repeating, especially in a quasi-literate era. I’ve seen a variety of terms used to identify the spell cast over the public by mass media and mass culture, but they all refer to the omnipresent, implacable thrust of business into every human transaction and relationship. Depending on whom you read, the underlying forces are either a cabal of corporate and government opportunists and hegemons or a complex of disembodied imperatives to which we have all unwittingly subscribed. I tend to believe it’s both. There are those who know they’re merely cashing in and those who guilelessly follow the established order of things.

    I’m usually content to merely observe the problem, and this case is no different, considering how bringing it to light only makes our awareness of the problem vulnerable to being co-opted and corrupted. (We’ve already witnessed this with numerous folks publishing their dissent and becoming brands unto themselves, as Prof. Guy pointed out a couple weeks ago. Michael Moore is another good example.) Reminds me of the famous lines from Tolkien, with the One Ring substituting for business:

    … One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them …

  2. zubair ahmed Says:

    Well reality and appearence are quite opposite, in order to further the hidden agenda,deception is necesary.

  3. Robin Datta Says:

    Thank you for an insightful post. 

    In this way, any legitimate internal threats to the State are effectively disarmed through commodification and effective marketing.

    It may be a bit difficult to apply those techniques to this:

    Disposing of the infidels.

  4. Kathy Says:

    Sandy, thanks for the essay. We watch Democracy Now but it gets harder to watch. Nothing on Peak Oil, nothing to suggest that the liberal agenda cannot be fulfilled. Piece on Egypt but nothing about how they no longer have oil for export and thus lives will not get better but worse no matter who rules the country. And always the question “what needs to happen” from Amy Goodman. Time to start thinking about what is going to happen no matter what anyone does and how (and for many if) we are going to ride down the far side of Hubbert’s Curve to Richard Duncan’s Olduvai.

    As TVT would say “surreal”.

  5. Librarian Says:

    Guy McPherson, speaking of resistance being commodified and repackaged, an author named Todd Buchholz recently released a book on why you should LOVE the rat race and how competitive it makes us. I think the title is RUSH.

    He basically outlines everything we think is wrong with the current system of endless competition, with its endless attempts to fill a hole that can never be filled, its endless setting us against each other, etc….and then just turns around and says all of this is GOOD for us.

    So bizarrely enough, Buchholz is acutely aware of what this system is doing to us, unlike most businesspeople, but has now written a book on why all of this is a good thing.

    And the worst part is the condescending tone he takes through the book: “Think those vacations are a good thing? Think again!” and a section on “Why you should never let the ninth-place team take home the trophy.”

    I wanted to scream at this man that I have no intention of letting ninth-place finishers take home the trophy; I’d rather get rid of trophies and put the focus back on community rather than endless selfishness and rushing.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    The worst part is I’m one of the lucky ones, because I was born into a family with some amount of money and therefore had the education I needed to get out of that trap.

    I’m more worried about the millions of lower-class people in these kinds of soulless jobs who have never learned not to depend on an expert’s opinion of what they’re thinking; those people will swallow this garbage whole.

    I don’t know, maybe Morris Berman had the right idea when he threw in the towel and moved to Mexico.

    What do you think, Guy McPherson?

  6. Guy R. McPherson Says:

    Librarian, I wish I had your email address, so we could have an extended conversation about this issue. Briefly, though, I think Morris Berman nailed it and — without reading anything by Todd Buchholz, and operating strictly from your description — Buchholz’s premise sounds stupid to me. But I was immersed in the culture and took a route similar to Berman, so maybe my view is tainted by my own actions.

  7. Librarian Says:

    The reason I don’t give out my e-mail address is because I’m afraid someone will trace it back to me.

    I live among very nice people, but the last time I talked about a possible collapse of civilization they thought I was crazy. I’d rather not have someone like The Cosmist call the black helicopters again like he tried to do before.

    Perhaps I could set up a more anonymous account on a different e-mail service, and give that address to you then.

    Would that be acceptable, sir?

  8. Guy R. McPherson Says:

    I understand why you do not reveal your email address, Librarian, and I am not insisting. You can, of course, set up an email account by any means and send me a message. Preferably, that message would include a guest essay from you for this site :)

    I cannot imagine The Cosmist’s black helicopters will find you. They haven’t found me, and I’m not trying to hide. In any event, you can email me at grm@ag.arizona.edu.

  9. kulturcritic Says:

    Kathy – yes; it is unfortunate about our news and media outlets. But it is all to be expected in a world that idolizes manicured edges and lots of profit!

  10. Kathy Says:

    Librarian, I think you will find this quote in one of your books “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

  11. Robin Datta Says:

    Off-topic, but well witinn the grnanal theme of Dr. MsPherson and this blog:
    Paul Nicklen: Tales of ice-bound wonderlands

  12. Kathy Says:

    Robin thanks for the video link. What a pleasure to watch and listen.

  13. navid Says:

    Thank you Sandy/Kritic for your thoughtful essay.

    Unfortunately, there is a PT Barnum born every minute, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

    Consider:

    Is Intelligence a Lethal Mutation?

    “…Carl Sagan, the well-known astrophysicist, and Ernst Mayr, the grand old man of American biology… were debating the possibility of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

    Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth.

    And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation.”

    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-05-08/human-intelligence-and-environment

  14. Robin Datta Says:

    Another off-topic comment, but again within the scope of Dr. McPherson’s concern for disappearing cultures:

    BBC – Men stealing meat from lions

  15. Ed Says:

    And one more off topic:

    http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/tracking/wp201103.html

    Tropical weather season was always at the back of my mind.

    Since Fukishima seems to have disappeared from our MSM, you can check what’s going on at http://enenews.com/

    None of it’s good.

  16. Frank Mezek Says:

    Robin Datta

    What is this “Dr. McPherson ” ??

    Guy has neither a degree in medicine or dentistry.

    Oh, and Robin,in the interest of truth, you are being set up–fair warning.

    Double D

  17. Kathy Says:

    Frank, with a PHD you get the title Dr.

  18. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Frank and Kathy,

    Right you are Kathy that PhD entitles one with “Doctor”. But to Frank’s point, The New York Times style sheet stipulates that only a medical doctor or dentist should be called Dr. in a story, otherwise, it’s Mr., Ms., Miss, etc.

    That being said, I think a person should be called whatever they like. For me, I’ll answer to just about anything (and having been called almost every name in the book, I can state that with some authority); however, my response is often commensurate with the title/name used. :-)

  19. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Sandy,

    Very well written and interesting essay. Your observations are dead-on. However, as our culture is destined for radical change post-collapse, I find it difficult to get very passionate about its poor state currently. Perhaps I’m being naive and will one day regret that I didn’t step up and take action against the corruption and oppression, but at this point, I have to think that it just won’t matter in a few years or so.

  20. Robin Datta Says:

    Oh, and Robin,in the interest of truth, you are being set up–fair warning.

    Set up for what?

    In German universities, doctoral degrees are “Doctor of Science in _” and “Doctor of Arts in _”. The medical degree is a “Doctor of Arts” degree.

    Also, a degree in medicine or dentistry does not always correlate with the title of “Dr”. Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park), Fidel Castro, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and Bashar Assad (President of Syria) come to mind.

    In the English tradition, the Company of Surgeons (later the Royal College of Surgeons) was derived from the company of Barber-Surgeons, and to this day, surgeons of all specialties are referred to as “Mr.” (or “Ms.” etc. as the case may be).

    It is never incorrect to refer to someone who has hade the effort to pile it high and deep as “Dr.”

  21. Frank Mezek Says:

    Robin,Kathy,and the REAL Dr.House,

    Respectfully,you all missed the point about “Doctor”.

    There is a very good reason why Guy and his brother James,who both have
    PHD’s do not broadcast it.

    This issue is part of the pathological syndrome evident in the death stage
    of industrial civilization.Decadence is everywhere,and no more so than
    in the fact that self-conscious parvenus,lacking in self confidence and
    self-esteem invented this new concept of demanding they be called “Doctor” upon attaining their PHD’s.Understand that this is a very recent development.In the decadent,death stage of a civilization
    the worst is condidered normal.And the worst types of people,such as I
    referred to above ,come to the fore.

    And the best,such as my compatriots to whom I addressed this missive,
    blindly accept the abnormal as normal.The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan
    described this phenomenon as “defining deviancy down”.It is the hallmark
    of the end stage of any civilization.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you Robin.

    Double D

  22. Robin Datta Says:

    People with doctoral degrees that I have addressed as “doctor” include nutritionists, clinical psychologists (who saw patients in consultation at the Emergency Department at my request), electronics engineers (I have a cousin with that degree), astrophysicists (I have a cousin-in-law). The first person on my father’s side of the family to earn a doctoral degree was his eldest brother, whose D.Sc. was from London (England) University in 1932 – at a time when the white men were still considered gods in India. I have addressed people as “doctor” long before I came to Nature Bats Last. If I have been set up, it started with the London University in 1932 – well before I was born.

    And in Hinduism, every sentient being is a ray of the Divine Luminance, while in Buddhism, every sentient being has the Buddha-Nature in its fullest measure. That was before there was Christianity. I bow to the Buddha in all beings.

  23. Kathy Says:

    Frank, are you playing games? You made a short statement that was untrue. You state that you are setting up Robin, but for what is not clear. If you had a point why didn’t you make it when you objected to Robin’s use of Dr. in the first place. Is this what we do at the end of our civilization, play word games?

  24. Alpha Omega Says:

    The entity formerly known as “the Cosmist” no longer exists. He has been superceded by the Alpha Omega entity. Rest assured that we know exactly where all of you are at all times, and please remember that resistance is futile. Have a nice day.

  25. Robin Datta Says:

    The entity formerly known as “the Cosmist” no longer exists. He has been superceded by the Alpha Omega entity.
    When superceded, the one that is superceded continues to exist, unless exterminated. Alas, poor Yorick Cosmist, we knew him well….

  26. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    Do these screwballs (Cosmist, Alpha Omega) think they are amusing? They have a screw loose. The nonsense of an 8 year old that plays too many video games.

  27. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    A little comic relief – thanks AO!

    Actually, that comment is somewhat suggestive of the discussion we were having in the last thread concerning mind-altering substances. :-)

  28. Kathy Says:

    In other words as I suspected Alpha is Sean Strange, also known as the Cosmist. Your web site had that familiar look.

  29. Kathy Says:

    Visions of the future (assuming a slow collapse)
    “All the electric gates of modern apartment buildings in Kaifu District of Changsha City are kept wide open. Once closed, they wouldn’t open again because of an ongoing power shortage.

    Such scenarios are not uncommon in central China’s Hunan where people’s lives are being disrupted as the province rations power amid a serious power shortage….

    Water levels of Hunan’s lakes and rivers have hit a record low as the province’s rainfall has dropped by more than 50 percent from previous years.

    The drought has disrupted drinking water supplies to 320,000 people and 260,000 livestock in Hunan, according to the drought relief office of Hunan’s water resources department.

    With the dropping water levels, hydro-power output also shrank rapidly. The province’s hydro-power units are generating only 2.2 million KWH per day, while their designed capacity is 9.4 million KWB per day, according to statistics from the Hunan branch of the State Grid.

    This is a common problem among regions along the Yangtze River in central and eastern China as the river’s water level has dropped sharply since February. It’s middle reaches has reached the lowest level in 50 years.”

    http://english.cri.cn/6909/2011/05/11/1461s636878.htm

  30. Victor Says:

    Thanks, Sandy, for this insightful post. I believe you are correct when you say that the opposition is incorporated into the greater capitalist system now. This shows the incredible power of the global system (not just America!). Further to this, and acting to dilute dissent, are the sports and entertainment industries that suck the passion for change and dissent right out of the general population. Indeed, I suspect there are masses of both left and right pols, environmentalists, peak oil entusiasts, doomers, and many others whose pent-up emotions are soothed and allowed a legitimate outlet by sports and entertainment. As an example, witness the passion of the football fan here in the UK in this article from the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-13368945

    Human emotion is still here. Passion for a cause is still here. Willingness to fight and even kill for that cause is still here. Here are people whose every waking hour outside of work (and even during work) is spent hashing over the latest movie, sports results, soap….. The modern day equivalent (and far more effective!) of the Roman games. I’m sure that if you took a survey, sports and entertainment issues would be right up there with the weather for conversation subjects.

    And then you have Facebook and Twitter….. no need for comment there.

    Thanks again for your post.

  31. Christopher Says:

    Terribly dry here in south Mississippi. I hope June brings more rain than May has so far.

    Checked the NOAA page for Atlantic hurricane activity for the first time this year. Nothing on the radar yet, but it’s early in the season.

    Looks like we’ll find out how well-made the post-Katrina levees in New Orleans are, in short order.

  32. Kathy Says:

    Christopher won’t some of those levees will get tested by the water coming down the Mississippi first?
    “Having already flooded hundreds of thousands of acres in the nation’s midsection, the rain-swollen Mississippi River is now threatening levees in Mississippi and Louisiana. The river’s levels are gradually increasing as workers feverishly seek to reinforce levees to protect riverfront towns.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/us/13floods.html

  33. kulturcritic Says:

    Dr. House – I understand your dispassionate state of mind. I am somewhat similarly predisposed. Not only does it take too much initiative; but the deck is stacked heavily against us. And as Victor has pointed out they have many venues open to them to re-channel that instinctual (and otherwise repressed/forgotten) energy into culturally acceptable dimensions.

    However, while effective political action may be a non-starter, it does not imply that individual (or more properly, personal) recollection of our feral core is either impossible or ineffectual. The change we need to recognize is change in ourselves, one person at a time; and maybe then in community. But the crux of that change is the way we experience ourselves within the world. The chief problem as I see it is how we constitute the world personally and collectively.

    There was a transformation in our natural embeddedness in the world that was the direct result of agriculture, the growth of cities, the constitution of unilinear time, the development of syllogistic reasoning (providing a method to control both nature and other men/women), and institutional hierarchies (from priesthoods, to kings, presidents, and corporate bosses) and their contingent bureaucracies. Our estrangement from the natural world began back then, and it was especially conclusive with the development of the syllogism and (universals and particulars related in a causal nexus over time running from past to future.) Suffice to say, there were several elements that helped to transform our sensorium, and effectively cut-off our senses from the ‘earthly sensuous.’ It is that relation which needs reconstituting, at the personal level.

    Again, Dr. House and Victor, thanks for the comments, sandy krolick, ph.d. LOL

  34. Christopher Says:

    Yeah, Kathy. That’s what I meant. I need to ease up on the stream-of-consciousness in my writing a little bit. :)

  35. Kathy Says:

    Christopher, given that it is dry for you right now in South Miss. I suppose it is hard to think about flooding. We are not too dry yet and Sat. has 70% so I am hoping we keep this somewhat moist spring going for a while.

    Things seem to be sprouting and maturing early. My maypops usually don’t show out of the ground until almost June but they up and some are making flowers already. Blueberries are showing a touch of purple – I don’t have anything written down but I am sure this is at least 2 weeks early. Found a few slugs but none in the garden. Saw two cabbage butterfly a few days ago but haven’t seen them since. That makes for nice kale and broccoli but still I feel things are changing and it is almost eerie.

  36. Kevin Moore Says:

    So, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t assassinated. Whatever it was, it was all perfectly legal because he had ‘killed thousands of innocent people and was an enemy commander’.

    On the other hand, if Obama were to be killed, that would be illegal. [

    ‘The entire apparatus of our culture – a “culture of make-believe” as Derrick Jensen has dubbed it – may be brought to bear at any moment in defusing resistance, not through authoritarian suppression or banana-republic brutality, but through more subtle means of control, persuasion and marketing’.

  37. andy Says:

    stupid warning from the UN.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13376416

    well duh. limits to growth. it seems they havnt yet quite grasped that economic growth is actually the disease, and not the patient, and are worried it is threatened by running out of materials. who would have guessed, when using stuff and turning it into garbage at ever increasing rates was its core principle!

    so..

    “The authors call for resource consumption to be “decoupled” from economic growth, and producers to do “more with less”. ”

    really? it wouldnt be growth then would it. growth without using more stuff. hmmm. no biologists in the UN then, or anybody that actually notices how industry works? do they even know what growth is?

    and i see no mention of energy in there. is this growth really possible? or is the UN making projections that are without foundation. i believe the UN is completely clueless. their pearls of wisdom on population stabilizing at 12 billion or whatever is another sign they just tell the sheep what they want to hear. its a pipedream that assumes the whole world will achieve lowered birthrates like developed countries, when collapse will be impossible to avoid.

    i couldnt think of a much a more inappropriate or apologetic title at this point on growth

  38. Christopher Says:

    So it looks like we may be nearing Peak Coal, as well as Peak Oil. How ironic, that about the time we use up all the easily accessible, better quality oil and coal — within the next decade or so — our burning of said oil and coal will have caused the planet’s climate to accelerate on an unstoppable rate of change that is likely to end with the next great mass extinction that will include humans.

    We’re such clever apes. But clearly, the joke is on us.

  39. Rita Vail Says:

    Kathy – No cabbage butterflies here in Arkansas either. Very strange. Only a couple of bumblebees. No wasps. No mosquitoes. It is true that is has been pretty cool, but not THAT cool.

    No geese fly overs, either.

    I am just talking about my place. I have not asked around.

  40. Kathy Says:

    Rita, just saw a few mosquitoes and some larva in the chicken waterers. They seem late. Our weather here in Alabama has been 10 degrees above normal one week and 10 degrees below normal the next. We are used to some swings in spring fall and winter (summer is just hot) but these seem extreme.

  41. Kathy Says:

    Andy, thanks for that link. Wow. What a disconnect from reality.

  42. the virgin terry Says:

    idiot savant apes, christopher. clever morons. surreal sheople.

  43. Kathy Says:

    http://www.france24.com/en/20110512-fed-warns-politicians-raise-us-debt-ceiling#

    “US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned politicians Thursday to raise the country’s official debt limit soon or risk destabilizing the financial system.

    With the cap expected to be hit Monday and the government still needing to borrow to finance its huge fiscal deficit, Bernanke told a Senate panel that “using the debt limit as a bargaining chip is quite risky.”

    “It is a risky approach not to raise the debt limit in a reasonable time,” the top central banker said.”

    “At minimum the cost will be an increase in interest rates that will actually worsen our deficit,” he said.

    “The worst outcome would be one in which the financial system was again destabilized… which of course would have extremely dire consequences for the US economy.”

  44. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Rita Vail and Kathy, here in northeast Arkansas we’ve had plenty of wasps and spiders, some mosquitos, some bumblebees, and early on (more than a month ago) we had honey bees – haven’t seen any of them lately. I can’t recall seeing any cabbage butterflies but then I wasn’t familiar with that name until I looked it up just now. So it’s possible that I’ve seen some and didn’t realize it. We have had quite a few butterflies around though. Lots of birds in my yard lately – probably eating those butterflies: cardinals, sparrows, some pretty little bluebirds, several yellow birds which I used to know the name for but seem to have lost that little bit of knowledge. I’ve even seen one humming bird so far. So, in all, it seems to be a fairly normal spring here (at least normal when compared to the last few years).

    Since this is my first time to grow a garden formally, I’m keeping a journal of when things sprout and grow, rainfall, etc. I hadn’t thought to record the coming and going of the insects and birds, but I will now.

  45. Rita Vail Says:

    Dr. House – It’s not the cabbage butterflies that I noticed missing, it is the cabbage worms. I couldn’t help but notice that I have no holes in the leaves of the kale and turnip greens. In fact, I don’t grow broccoli anymore because of them. As adults, they look like white moths, but moths are usually night flyers. Anyone know if they are moths?

    Maybe your yellow birds are finches. I have fewer birds this year, too. I can’t talk anyone into keeping their cats indoors. Almost everyone has cats but me. I prefer birds.

  46. Robin Datta Says:

    Something about what’s left of ecosystems:

    <Louisiana animals move as Mississippi River flooding soaks habitat

  47. Kathy Says:

    Rita we see two types of cabbage butterflies and two types of worms from those butterflies. I believe the white cabbage butterfly is what wiki calls the small white and others call the cabbage white and the yellow is called sulphers

    The worms are either green and grow very fast and leave big green poops in their wake or smaller and sort of checkered http://entweb.clemson.edu/cuentres/cesheets/veg/ce113.htm

    We get more of the smaller worm which individually does less damage but come in greater numbers. They often get in the broccoli heads and when you cook it mostly come out the top – you can soak the heads in salt water to get them out before cooking or cut the broccoli up small. In the future no doubt we will eat them as well for the protein. :)

    http://www4.uwm.edu/fieldstation/naturalhistory/bugoftheweek/cabbagewhites.cfm

    They look more like moths as they are small and seem more moth like in how they fly. It looks like there are various varieties of the whites and the sulphurs.

  48. Kathy Says:

    Dr. House – some of the earliest warnings that I read of global warming were the changing behaviors in migrating creatures and changing leafing or flowering times. I always think I will keep a journal and never do. Thus I am unsure if this is really early for blueberries :) or how many times blueberries have come this early.

    We always have plenty of birds in our garden. The mulch is great for bug eaters to scratch in. But they don’t look more populous than usual. It never before has made a dent in the cabbage butterfly population. I have the blood of many caterpillars on my hands tho. :) Maybe last year I was more effective than usual? But I do remember trying to figure out why May Pops are called May pops and deciding that maybe it is not the popping of the ripe fruit but when they finally start poking through the ground. I have therefore noted that even that is just a barely make it in time event, yet this year I had some poking through the ground before May and now many are well up.

  49. Kathy Says:

    Dr House – small yellow bird would most likely be a goldfinch

    http://www.songbirdgarden.com/store/info/infoview.asp?documentid=210

    I plant small seeded sunflowers every year just for them. They will perch in the tall pines back of the garden and swoop in in multiple swoops to land on the sunflowers and take out the seeds. To save seed I have to wrap several layers of onion mesh bags around the maturing seed heads.

    They are a joy.

  50. Kathy Says:

    The great government fire sale is on – but what do they do to meet the budget after they have sold all the assets the citizens bought with tax money? The end is nigh….

    NEW YORK (AP) — As 2010 drew to a close, the mayor of Newark, N.J., was staring into a budget abyss so deep that he sold 16 city buildings to pay the bills. They included the architecturally significant Newark Symphony Hall and the police and fire headquarters.
    In New York, the transit authority may sell its Madison Avenue headquarters, complete with an underground tunnel connected to Grand Central Terminal and air rights to build a skyscraper on top.
    And soon, if state legislators have their way, private investors will be able to buy plenty of other municipal treasures: power plants in Wisconsin, prisons in Louisiana and Ohio and municipal buildings in Boston.
    The Great Government Tag Sale is on. As states and cities struggle with billions of dollars in shortfalls, elected officials are increasingly selling public assets to cover their costs. Sometimes municipalities sell the buildings to pocket a one-time pile of cash and then lease them back so they can continue to use them.NEW YORK (AP) — As 2010 drew to a close, the mayor of Newark, N.J., was staring into a budget abyss so deep that he sold 16 city buildings to pay the bills. They included the architecturally significant Newark Symphony Hall and the police and fire headquarters.
    In New York, the transit authority may sell its Madison Avenue headquarters, complete with an underground tunnel connected to Grand Central Terminal and air rights to build a skyscraper on top.
    And soon, if state legislators have their way, private investors will be able to buy plenty of other municipal treasures: power plants in Wisconsin, prisons in Louisiana and Ohio and municipal buildings in Boston.
    The Great Government Tag Sale is on. As states and cities struggle with billions of dollars in shortfalls, elected officials are increasingly selling public assets to cover their costs. Sometimes municipalities sell the buildings to pocket a one-time pile of cash and then lease them back so they can continue to use them.

    full story at http://finance.yahoo.com/news/The-great-government-fire-apf-1293264663.html;_ylt=AlR0tPVGB4EkLJLRL2Ny0Je7YWsA;_ylu=X3oDMTE2amttbTJiBHBvcwMxMgRzZWMDdG9wU3RvcmllcwRzbGsDdGhlZ3JlYXRnb3Zl?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=9&asset=&ccode=

  51. Kathy Says:

    “The rising floodwaters of the Mississippi River, threatening towns and farms between Memphis and the Gulf of Mexico, may affect 10 percent of Louisiana’s onshore crude oil production.

    A total of 2,264 oil wells are responsible for about 19,000 barrels of crude a day, said Matt Ross, communications director for the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. He said 150 companies are preparing for flooding in a four-parish area in the southern part of the state.

    As much as 252.6 million cubic feet a day of gas may be threatened, said Anna Dearmon, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, along with operations at 10 Louisiana refineries that account for about 14 percent of U.S. operating capacity.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-13/mississippi-flooding-threatens-louisiana-oil-gas-production.html

  52. john rember Says:

    Sandy:

    The ability of the state to turn everything into the coin of the realm can be seen as a sign of cultural health–you may not like the culture, but you have to admire its ability to surmount and survive intellectual challenges to its existence. It’s a little hard for me to imagine Chris Hedges being co-opted, but you make the case that even he can be turned into a brick in the wall that imprisons our consciousness. Maybe Chris could weigh in on the matter.

    A couple of thoughts: much depends on whether the state itself has a death-wish, since its power is likely going to persist and even increase in the face of resource scarcity and climate change that causes worse resource scarcity. The NBL commentariat has, over the past years, given us strong arguments that our commodifying global culture does indeed want to die, and is figuring out ways to make it happen. As one who grew up during the Cold War, this doesn’t really surprise me. Even though the culture wants to die, the individuals within it want to live, and we’ve managed a stalemate for the last sixty or seventy years.

    What is more frightening to me these days is that it takes hard work to create a story, and some terribly shoddy and lazy stories are coming out of the centers of power these days. A small example: ignore for the moment the identity of the body that was buried at sea and called Al-Qaeda’s Number One. My reaction was that even if it really was the guy, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen if the White House had a decent writer-in-residence, one who knew how to unify a national consciousness through narrative. The whole contrived episode seemed to have been lifted from the hokey old British TV series The Prisoner, complete with a search for the new Number One.
    Even the people who want to believe it are going to have trouble.

    When defective stories are foisted off on citizens, it’s an indication that crappy thinking is going on in the centers of power. Too many bright young aides have been raised on Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing plots, and it’s akin to the Roman ruling class drinking their wine from lead vessels and becoming ever more stupid. The people in charge of our cultural story either aren’t very bright or they don’t care any more about keeping their audience’s attention, or both. They’re not worrying about getting it right. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.

  53. navid Says:

    Sandy,

    Dan Bednarz has a good essay on Resistance from within the Medical-Industrial complex.

    ——

    The Modernist episteme’s anthropocentric logic guides the majority of people I’ve spoken with over the past six years. They believe we can use technology to turn any problem –peak oil, climate change, water scarcity, over-consumption of resources in hospitals, waste management- into a profit-and-growth creating opportunity.

    In a concise illustration of this, a few weeks ago I had coffee with a professor of sustainability whose area of expertise is energy. She acknowledges peak oil but offers this anthropocentric solution: “The problem is that the government doesn’t adequately fund alternative energy research. What’s necessary is for the Feds to turn loose entrepreneurs to solve the energy problem.”

    http://energybulletin.net/stories/2011-05-12/health-care-fails-part-i-power-knowledge-and-resistance

  54. Kathy Says:

    John [The people in charge of our cultural story either aren’t very bright or they don’t care any more about keeping their audience’s attention, or both. They’re not worrying about getting it right.]

    I tend to think that way, but then when I see how people keep accepting such crappy stories (that would get accused of plot flaws if they were a movie) I think they don’t worry about getting it right because most everyone just takes the first thing they hear and run with that – Osama is dead, Obama did it. Then with the initial fiction firmly embedded they start bickering about the details. It is like discussing at the end of a movie that leaves things unresolved, what happened. Even my husband and I will do that. Did he survive or did he die etc but it is all a fiction and we are discussing nothing as if it were something. They know it works. Heck they have a wheel fall some 80 stories from the jet that hit one of the towers and it sits on the pavement with nary a scratch. The passport flies out of the terrorist’s pocket and lands barely singed on the ground. The whole in the ground in PA conceals a plane that burrowed entirely into the ground. And the magic bullet did what no other bullet in history has ever done thanks to Arlen Spector. They KNOW they can get away with it. They don’t have to have a coherent story.

  55. john rember Says:

    Kathy:
    Probably Cyril M. Kornbluth had it right when he wrote “The Marching Morons” in 1951.

  56. Michael Irving Says:

    Ooops! Tepco now says, “Well, gee, we guess we have a meltdown after all.” Or at least that is what the English are reporting,

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8509502/Nuclear-meltdown-at-Fukushima-plant.html

    and the Americans,

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-12/japan-suffers-setback-at-fukushima-after-no-1-reactor-s-fuel-rods-exposed.html

  57. Kathy Says:

    Update on the status of the plants by Arnie Gunderson (an energy advisor with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience. A former nuclear industry senior vice president)

    http://fairewinds.com/content/fukushima-one-step-forward-and-four-steps-back-each-unit-challenged-new-problems?

  58. Michael Irving Says:

    Kathy,

    Thanks for the link.

    Michael Irving

  59. kulturcritic Says:

    john rember

    America stands at the end of a long historical tradition (invented long before the Romans in the Colliseum) for creating artificial worlds that distract us from the real world… the world as given. Once your populace has become accustomed to looking at highly stylized and produced “Reality TV” then any story they give us becomes gospel to our ears.

  60. kulturcritic Says:

    Navid – the professor of sustainability (boy is that a joke of the empire!) has a vested interested in seeing this thing continue unabated.

  61. Bernhard Says:

    Dear friends.

    Possibly shouldn’t miss out on this short movie.
    There are always people, standing up. Pity the “crowd” doesn’t
    join, bit this is, as it ever was. What a good person this young lady.
    Be proud of her.

  62. Robin Datta Says:

    Pity the “crowd” doesn’t join

    This line of thinking overlooks the reality. The state farm can function only because the human livestock have been “domenticated” to accept the farmers. They will ignore or even attack any dissenter that threatens their status quo. Without the self-policing by the human livestock the human livestock farmers would not be able to muster the resources to run the state farm.

    And it is to be remembered than when the human livestock seeks change in the state farm, they only seek a change of farmers, not the elimination of the farm.

  63. Kathy Says:

    Rich Russians are building bunkers

    “Terrorism can be good for bunker builders. An apocalypse can be even better for business.

    Danila Andreyev started building “panic rooms” three years ago, when fears of terrorist attacks and commercial disputes turning violent created demand in Russia. Now he’s selling “survival bunkers” for as much as $400,000 each to capitalize on angst over theories the world will end next year.

    “I myself am not a believer in doomsday scenarios,” Andreyev, 31, whose Spetsgeoproekt company is completing 15 bunkers at hidden locations across Russia, said at his office in central Moscow. “But when you start hearing clients talking about the end of the world, it gets you thinking.” ”

    Full story at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-12/apocalypse-angst-adds-to-terrorist-threat-as-rich-russians-acquire-bunkers.html

  64. Kathy Says:

    “A worker at Japan’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant died on Saturday, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said, bringing the death toll at the complex to three since a massive earthquake and tsunami in March.

    Despite the prolonged nuclear crisis, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is set to announce at a G8 summit in France that Japan will keep using nuclear power, the Yomiuri newspaper said.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/third-worker-dies-at-japans-troubled-nuclear-plant/article2022324/

  65. Kathy Says:

    SHIZUOKA — The Hamaoka nuclear plant in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, was completely shut down Saturday following an unprecedented request by the government due to fears of a large earthquake hitting the area.
    Chubu Electric Power Co. said it hopes to fire the plant back up soon after strengthening its tsunami defenses, but Gov. Heita Kawakatsu remains cautious about the idea. The central government said the suspension will last two to three years.
    Chubu Electric finished work at 10:15 a.m. to stop atomic fission at the last active reactor, the No. 5 unit.
    The utility began putting control rods into the reactor’s core earlier in the day.
    The No. 4 reactor, the other unit that was operating, was suspended Friday. The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors were already shut down for decommissioning, while the No. 3 unit was suspended for regular checkups.
    The operator said it would bring the No. 5 reactor to a stable cold shutdown Sunday morning. The No. 4 unit entered a stable condition Friday night.
    Chubu Electric, based in Nagoya, will lose more than 10 percent of its capacity with the shutdown of the 3.6 million kw Hamaoka plant, its only atomic facility. The company said it will reboot its suspended thermal power station to meet the summer peak demand and ask its users to save electricity.
    The Hamaoka complex stands in an area where a magnitude 8 earthquake is projected. The so-called Tokai Earthquake is the only one for which authorities compile top-level prevention measures on the assumption they will be able to predict it.
    Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked Chubu Electric to halt the Hamaoka plant in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear facility.Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked Chubu Electric to halt the Hamaoka plant in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear facility.
    Following the plant’s shutdown, local residents expressed mixed feelings. Some said they were relieved that they didn’t have to worry about radiation anymore. Others said they were worried about how the plant’s closure would affect their jobs.
    “I’m happy the entire plant has been brought to a halt,” said resident Minoru Ito, 69, a long-time opponent of the plant.
    But local restaurant manager Tadao Koka, 69, said he was worried about the future. “I can’t imagine life without the plant,” he said. “Local businesses here totally depend on it.”

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110514x2.html

  66. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    This is off-topic (apologies Sandy and Guy), but I couldn’t resist sharing it since it’s so over the top. I received this earlier today from the writer of a blog where I posted a comment that the blogger didn’t like. Here’s a portion of the email he sent to me:

    “Where do you get your doomer information? Heinberg? He’s second rate. Kuntsler? Second rate again. Who?

    “There are maybe half a dozen people on the “peak oil” side of things who know something about the upstream oil industry (e.g. Skrebowski, Andrews, etc). I am one of them. When I was writing a weekly column for ASPO-USA in 2006-2008, where the fuck were you?

    “You cited the IEA. I was arguing with the IEA in 2005.

    “Can you tell me the major projects coming on-stream? What might happen in Iraq? What might happen in offshore Brazil? Can you tell me about the future of deepwater oil? Future Russian production? Etc. I doubt you can. I’ll wager that everything you know is second-hand and comes from bogus sources. I’ll wager you don’t know diddly-squat about what’s going to happen to the oil supply in the next decade.

    “All you appear to be is an affect-laden doomer with misplaced faith in something you don’t even begin to understand. People like you are a dime-a-dozen.”

    — end of quote —

    Guy, thanks for allowing us to have an open and honest discussion here. We don’t always agree, but there seems to be a general sense of respect for differing opinions.

  67. Alpha Doomer Says:

    The Collapse begins next Thursday. Oil will be $5000/barrel by July. 98% of animal species will be extinct by September. The ice caps will be gone by Thanksgiving. By Christmas we’ll be in the Stone Age. By New Year’s we’ll all be dead. We won’t even make it to 2012.

  68. the virgin terry Says:

    now u’re catching the spirit, a.d.!

  69. Kathy Says:

    Alpha, fusion power is just around the corner, nuclear power will be so cheap we won’t have to charge for it, no plans need to be made for nuclear containment vessels as they are 100% secure, no plans need to be made for multiple plant failures at a nuclear site as we will never have more than one go at a time, when oil reaches $60 a barrel we will have so much oil we will never have to worry about it again…..I’ve decided to stop being a doomer and believe all the pollyanna stuff anyone tells me (next April 1st).

  70. Kathy Says:

    Patients abandoned at a hospital and nursing home in the evacuation zone – 45 died.

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/features/news/20110426p2a00m0na006000c.html

    Sounds a bit like Katrina. Cracks in the edifice of civilization are becoming more common….

  71. sam Says:

    ” The great river wants to carve a new path to the Gulf of Mexico; only the Old River Control Structure it at bay. Failure of the Old River Control Structure would be a severe blow to America’s economy, interrupting a huge portion of our imports and exports that ship along the Mississippi River. Closure of the Mississippi to shipping would cost $295 million per day, said Gary LaGrange, executive director of the Port of New Orleans, during a news conference Thursday. The structure will receive its most severe test in its history in the coming two weeks, as the Mississippi River’s greatest flood on record crests at a level never before seen….

    The flood of 1973: Old River Control Structure almost fails…

    The flood of 2011 is not as large as the maximum 1-in-500 year “Project Flood” that the Old River Control Structure was designed to handle, and the Army Corps of Engineers has expressed confidence that the structure can handle the current flood. However, the system has never been tested in these conditions…

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1801&tstamp=&page=7

  72. Victor Says:

    I have joined the Federation of Planets and will be shipping out on the Starship Enterprise December 22, 2012.

  73. Guy McPherson Says:

    I posted a new essay this morning. Big thanks to Sandy Krolick for his thoughtful contribution (and there is another in the queue).

  74. Kathy Says:

    Sam thanks for the link. This will be interesting to watch.


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