Dodging the bullet

For those of you not paying attention to the news last week, here’s a quick summary: The United States economy nearly collapsed, taking the world economy with it. Only a quick infusion of cash by the Treasury Department prevented full-scale collapse. The problem: peak oil. The solution, such as it is: print money, sensu Weimer Republic. Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke is living up to his nickname, and he’s getting a loan from Henry Paulson.

Oddly, the near-miss came with oil priced at less than $100 per barrel. But peak oil is the underlying cause, albeit not the proximate trigger, of last week’s event.
The plan to save the economy comes with a few strings attached, as you might expect. The proposed $700 billion bailout will cost every American more than $2,000. The national debt exceeds $10 trillion, or about $40,000 per taxpayer. So, what’s a few thousand more dollars we’ll never pay off? You think your Congressional Representative was surprised when Henry Paulson showed up begging for more money? Every federal politician with the slightest clue about the economy knows paying off the national debt would require lifetime indentured slavery for all future generations. Each politician also knows we’ll never (again) get to the point of nationally sanctioned slavery (well, except for the whole wage-slave thing) because the economy will collapse. The requisite collapse is one cost of trying to grow the economy forever on a planet with finite resources. So Congress will bite the bitter bullet, giving BushCo unlimited authority to print money, thereby “saving” the economy. Sorta like when Congress gave BushCo unlimited authority to “save” us from terrorism.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media is starting to connect the dots, as evidenced by last week’s headlines. The Washington Post claims, “What we are witnessing is the greatest destruction of financial wealth the world has ever seen,” the Economist chimes in with, the greatest finance houses “have splintered into matchwood,” and the Los Angeles Times welcomes Americans to third-world status. Never mind the little ol’ Great Depression. This is the big one.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Russia is calling for a restructuring of the world’s financial system, thereby joining China in this appeal. Seems the U.S. dollar just ain’t what it used to be. China and Russia thinks it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Me, too.
So, is this it? Is this the end of the line, or will TPTB manage to keep the current game going for another few months? We’ll see.
Here’s what an economic collapse looks like, at least the version we’re facing in the very near future. Another huge bank fails, thereby taking all the other banks with it. And I mean all of them. The Federal Reserve Bank — the bank of last resort, the one that provides money for all the other banks — ran out of money last week. Fortunately for those of us who depend on fiat currency, the Treasury Department “solved” the problem by ratcheting up the printing presses. At some point, though, all the banks fail. And when that happens, you can forget about spending that direct-deposited paycheck. I suspect most people will keep the capitalist faith for a while. They’ll buy the pitch about the economy turning around. They’ll believe the power outages are simply isolated events. Eventually, though, they’ll lose faith in large numbers, if only due to the unexpected realization they can no longer make ends meet when they miss two or three paychecks in a row. As if, at that point, money will mean a thing. Even first-responders will stop trying to enforce martial law in a week or two because they’ll be worried about the survival of their own families.
What comes in the wake of this collapse? When the dollar collapses, as it soon will, the financial and political elite class undoubtedly will try to create a new global monetary regime based on tricks that have used to centralize power and concentrate wealth in their own hands for generations. Sorta like the last few thousand years. Another possibility — or maybe it’s just a dream — is the emergence of a decentralized, democratic, just, and sustainable system. Sorta like the Stone Age. Call it the Neo Neolithic, for lack of a better name.
I recognize the ongoing economic collapse is wonderful news for the world’s cultures and species, and I’m certainly willing to die to bring down the empire. On the other hand, I sure as hell wish I had a functional well at the mud hut. I’d like to see it all come down.

Comments 43

  • Guy —
    I wonder what you think of the rumours I have heard in the fairly recent past related to the emerging “North American Union” between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Allegedly this military/economic alliance will abandon the US Dollar altogether and refuse to recognize all debts denominated in dollars, with the kind words “Screw You” to Asian and other counties holding large numbers of dollars. Then, the rumors go, a new currency will be adopted along the lines of the Euro to be used by the three aforementioned nations.
    If this stunt was pulled, would the world immediately quarantine the Western Hemisphere and abandon all trade in oil and other resources and force a totally divided world, or would it spark war or worse?
    Any thoughts by any informed observer along this line or related one would be welcome from my perspective.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Ironically, as a helper for religious education at our church, we covered an interesting point the past week.
    I wondered about it–at first. I was even a little frustrated.
    I think ultimately, though, it provides my response to current events quite completely.
    From Matthew:
    So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10
    Of course, this week I also made some pretty harsh statements (in private) about faith–my own fear that I have copped-out by relying on faith as a crutch, that perhaps prayers were just hopeful chats with an imaginary friend.
    But, despite my sometimes unfaithful faith, and my general tendency to be kind of–for lack of a better terms–an unholy mess–I’m back to where I started.
    Prayer is a meditation, a chance to check in with the divine and a moment to remember this experience is not the proverbial “be-all-end-all”.
    I watched and read and generally fretted away a few days of my week–ones which could have been more productive had I removed my head from a certain orifice and got going again sooner.
    TPTB may do a lot of things, but they can’t kill my soul (unless I allow it). God is here for me and my family (as feckless and inconsistent as I may be at times).
    I was never meant to keep this life, but if it is God’s will, I will be here a little while longer. And hope to do the best I can in the meantime.
    Just wanted to throw that out there–from my own perspective. Others are certainly entitled to differ from me on that point.
    As for the “Amero”…I’ve heard those rumors and rumblings, too. I’ve never been able to tell whether it was a tinfoil hat whispering or a real possibility. Honestly, given the right circumstances, I could easily picture it. But, that doesn’t mean it will happen, either.
    Good question.

  • Interesting point, not sure if it is entirely relevent–sorry if it isn’t.

  • I think the denouement will come from Wall Street.Democrats in congress are demanding a stake in the companies the tax payers are bailing out,as well as limits on CEO compensation.As I’ve mentioned before big business always wants socialism for itself.Fair enough,we’re giving Wall Street a $700 Billion Bailout,so they know we’ll demand socialistic control in return.But Wall Street has a problem–they want to eat their cake and have it too–they want the $700 Billion w/o anything in return.Ain’t gonna happen,and investors are viewing this as the beginning of the end for Wall Street,which is why the stock market is selling off drastically as I write this.

  • And Wall Street knows that no matter who wins the election, there will be very tight controls and regulation,which means the end of all the leverage games that were so profitable in the past.Wall Street compensation will become very tight.The jig is up,and they know it.
    Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary,invented the ruinous speculative business model that is bringing Wall Street down,
    while he was head of Goldman Sachs.Funny.

  • Paulson is asking for a $700 Billion blank check for his Wall Street buddies.Ain’t gonna happen–the fun is just beginning–stay tuned in.

  • Oil is up $25 and the USD is in freefall as I write this.You nailed it Professor Guy.

  • Lower than $100 a barrel?
    Looks too good to be true, smells too good to be true: must be too good to be true.
    Hellooooo $500 a barrel and hyperinflation.
    So, when does Bush declare himself dictator for life?

  • Memo to Charlene:
    Charlene and Frank—what a truly magnificent team we are !!!

  • Stan — I’ve heard rumors about the Super-NAFTA strategy, and some people say a few parallel north-south highways through the nation’s core provide evidence of a grand continental connection. And whereas gossip, rumor, and innuendo represent my usual stock in trade, I don’t have a clue what this really means. Surely TPTB know we won’t be driving much longer, so the parallel highways don’t make much sense (for Matt Simmons’ take on that issue, check out the latest issue of Fortune magazine, which is linked at I suspect paving cropland is viewed as necessary for economic growth, so the plan is to keep the current game going. Given the extreme localization before us, I doubt any national boundaries will mean much by the time the plan, whatever it might be, is completed.
    Charlene — I intend no offense, and I appreciate your thoughtful comments, but you’re quoting from the same book that predicts the end of the world (literally), within Jesus’ generation (Matthew 24:29-35): “Immediately after the suffering of those days, ‘The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken loose.’ Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all ‘the tribes of the land will mourn’ when they see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another.” “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches become tender and it produces leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you will know that the Son of Man is near, right at the door. I tell you with certainty, this generation will not disappear until these things happen. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Notwithstanding my thoughts on the Bible, thanks for pointing out that Jerome Corsi finally noticed BushCo’s power grab (note the irony — Corsi helped engineer BushCo’s successful election via the swift-boat campaign). I’m sorry, and a bit surprised, it took the media so long to get the word out on this issue. Gonzo pointed out the accelerating power grab on this blog back in April.
    All the best,

  • I just received a visit from my parents, who remain Jehovah’s Witnesses. The visit ended badly, with me asking them to leave and us mutually agreeing we would not be in touch in the future. And actually this provides me with a sense of relief, and probably them, too. In the aftermath, though, I finally came to a much better grasp of things that had not made much sense to me in the past. In particular, I used to see books and television specials based on the work of Joseph Campbell on mythology and I could not see how that related to my own life. Now I believe I understand better how the power of religion (mythology) creates belief systems in which people, like my parents, and formerly myself, believe that “God” is in control and will protect them from calamity and civilizational collapse. My parents have a vague familiarity with Peak Oil and pending financial collapse issues, but they think that when the world come to its end, God will save them no matter what they do or how much or little they prepare. I think many of the Etruscans had similar beliefs based on their system of mythology. Even driving around the area for a couple of days with my parents, I could see limits to their perceptions in unmistakable ways in even simple things like navigating unfamiliar territory. I was just flabbergasted at how my folks have become so utterly dependent in computer technology in their Cadillac car that when they are in a rental vehicle without that technology, they have immense difficulty in grasping directions and spacial relations, even after driving on the same simple road pattern several times. (Interestingly, my parents drove their fairly new Cadillac from Texas towards California, but the transmission failed near Flagstaff, Arizona and they were forced to leave their car for repair at a local dealer under warranty and take rental on to California. I think we all agree now that it would have been better if they never started the trip…)
    Anyways, I think I better understand Joseph Campbell on mythology and works by Eric Hoffer on “The True Beleiver” which well apply to the irrational behavior and support of nationalistic and patriotic allegiances. I think religion and patriotism are proving to be key catalysts for the final collapse, though they also were integral to the rise of the same systems that always ultimately fail in human endeavors.
    We are a nation (and nations) of lemmings organized by faith and by dumb allegiance to that flag that Stan Goff told us is ultimately a religious idol.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • I had a great post, but my finger slipped and bumped the back button on our new “fancy” mouse.
    At any rate, no offense taken. I’m not a literalist with regard to religion, so, I hope my words are taken in that light. I was trying to allude to natural moral law and divine providence–in the sense that things tend to be put to right in the grand scheme. Every sparrow of creation is important, and every human being valued to the last strand of hair.
    That isn’t to say that one should abandon reason, but rather that worrying is unproductive.
    I’d love to discuss further the interpretations, but time doesn’t permit. Check the link for Polkinghorne below, he sums up my thoughts much more eloquently (and coherently).
    I’ll just say, I’m not a protestant/evangelical Christian precisely because I consider any adult who believes in talking snakes and/or literal “poofed” into existence gardens (to say nothing of whom Adam’s kids married *shudder*) to be a loonie of the first order.
    My views are more in line with Catholic faith and, I’ve found, well represented also by an Anglican Priest by the name of Polkinghorne. A gentleman, whom I believe, does a great job of harmonizing science and faith without insulting anyone’s intelligence in the process.
    His FAQ can be found here:
    Very interesting man: physicist turned priest.
    Another interesting, thoughtful take on religion which I found palatable was the Language of God by Francis Collins.
    Stan, tough break with the JW’s…no disrespect, but of all the groups out there JW’s and born agains drive me batty. I could go on a bit, but I won’t.
    Also, on the point of religion, I think it is important to differentiate between ignorant superstition and devout spirituality.
    One is false the other is genuine and they are two completely different animals.
    Growing up my father read me Joseph Campbell and Neitzsche as bedtime stories LOL. Certainly worth a read.
    Also, I tend to read the Archdruid Report blog. I really enjoyed his take on the term “myth” and the role it takes in society (hint: it isn’t always a bad thing).
    Re: totalitarian states, marshall law, and other scary things looming in the wings as our currency dies I think Ron Paul’s thoughts on the current situation are interesting.
    Glen Beck gives me hives, but I caught Dr. Paul on there while flipping channels. If I find a youtube of it I’ll post the link.

  • Ya Stan,
    Faith and Flag–God and Country as I got in trouble for saying on a previous blog.You’re correct,and put it delicately.It’s tough to talk about because so many are sensitive about those two subjects.

  • Forgot to add a cyberspace high five to Frank.
    I’m not sure what I’ve done to get the kudos, but it’s always nice to be on a team :)

  • The only god America has openly worshipped in recent times is Mammon.
    And perhaps if they’d listened with regard to usury, we’d be in better shape. :)

  • religion vs spirituality
    I am a spiritual person. I pray as a form of meditation. I think societies get into trouble when spirituality morphs into religion with approved practices and exclusivity and priesthoods and manipulation, etc.
    But humans always seem to fall into that trap and suffer for it. A simple paraphrase from a simple Biblical proverb observes that man has dominated man to his injury. That domination can come from a man with a “holy book” just as readily as a man with a sword or a rifle or in control of an economy, like the scary fellow named Paulson. One essay on one listserver compared Hank Paulson to another Austin Powers character, “Dr. Evil” I got a kick out of the movie character and his mating ritual dance, but Dr. Evil Paulson really gives me the creeps.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Actually, I thought Paulson resembled Nosferatu–the evil bloodsucking undead.
    Right now I’m watching the news with baited breath, waiting for the many “last” shoes to drop.
    As for tools of oppression, I do agree on the point that people will use anything they can to get one up on their fellow man. In fact, we’re such twisted little monkeys that we can turn even good things like spirituality into a tool to harm each other.
    That said, just because a tree branch can be used to bludgeon someone to death, I don’t blame the tree. Although, I understand the temptation.
    Personally, I use involvement in an organized religion to explore spirituality through fellowship with others. Also, it is a great opportunity to volunteer and express it by participation in their Meals on Wheels programs, missions, social justice commities, etc.
    Of course, that doesn’t negate the abuses by some that are inherent to any institution comprised of humans.
    As for prayer, I’m in favor of it as meditation, but I get extremely frustrated when I hear it put across as God’s 24hr Customer Service Request Line curiously manned by saints who have nothing better to do in the afterlife than work a telemarketing job.
    Nope, I have a higher opinion of the Good Lord than that ;)

  • I do believe that spirituality can get intertwined with mythology when one starts to believe that one can obtain either individual or collective special consideration from “God”. The Israelis are dominating the hell out of Palestinians right now, with crimes against humanity in progress every single day because they believe that “God” promised the land of Palestine and so they connive endlessly and commit atrocities nonstop to get final possession of that land and its resources. And they claim to believe in “God” for protection, but use Apache helicopers with Hellfire missiles, tanks, F-16 fighter jets, submarines, and an atomic arsenal in reserve just in case “God” can’t quite get around to protecting them according to their own perceived standards.
    Billy Graham, the “great” evangelist has hardly opposed the American Empire, but provided aid and succor for it on the premise that “God” is on our side. And George W. Bush speaks in derogatory fashion of the “evildoer”, but it is hard to know if he is talking about himself, his V-P, a cabinet member or his preacher.
    On the other hand, Martin Luther King used Christian theology to oppose the Vietnam War, and his friend and biographer and attorney William Pepper believes that King’s pending mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War are what led the U.S. government, and not James Earl Ray to have him assassinated.
    Many people, including my parents, have bought into the mythology that God will rescue and protect them from Peak Oil and its consequences simply because they are baptized and attending church regularly. And they complain about the high cost of the new air conditioning fluid that replaced freon and that people were picking on WalMart when they knew good and well that people working for WalMart were well cared for and WalMart contributed to the national economy and the benefit of the workers.
    My point is that “faith” can override knowledge and blind one to reality if it is the only or the prime basis for one’s perception of reality. And it can lead to mass murder at its worst.
    To me, spirituality at its best is a personal thing, not a group orgy of interpersonal groping for the unseen. Dr. Charles Eastman, a Lakota Indian whose Indian name was Oyihessa, wrote a beautiful book around 1900 called “The Soul of the Indian” and he described the Lakota worldview that nature was their cathedral and greed was evil and the way to celebrate life was to give away one’s possessions and not to accumulate them. But the Lakota warred against other native peoples, so I guess they did not work out possessiveness issues in intertribal relations as well as they did in intratribal relations.
    And I’ve said enough — probably too much (once again).
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Memo to Charlene:
    You have a great mind,and we often agree with each other.I’ve tried mightily to create and encourage and
    promote an INTERNAL dialogue on this site.So far I’ve been able to this with Professor Guy, his Big Brother,Turboguy, and best of all–You.Hope I haven’t left anyone out.It is encouraging that Our Stan has also joined this effort.”We few,we happy few,we band of brothers——“.

  • The stock market was holding in positive territory today until TPTB
    talking heads started moving their lips.The longer they talk,the lower stocks are going.
    What does that tell us Charlene?

  • I wouldn’t even begin to argue that people pervert religion for their own ends (as true of Islamic Jihad as it is of Christian Fundamentalists). Again, people are very adept at using anything and everything under the sun to injure each other. How painfully ironic is it, that religion, meant to promote peace and greater understanding is stripped of its truth and used to harm the very people it meant to teach?
    Re: Israel, an insightful book on the subject, Our Sacred Land by Kenize Mourad, really painted the total picture of the conflict in my mind. It is a total failure of communication between people, a failure to admit fault, and a failure of humans to act humanely.
    I will say, though, in the absence of religion, people find other ideas to pervert and other institutions to back their atrocities. Think of the atheistic communists of the last century and what evil they’ve wrought in the world. If physicalism or materialism or rationalism seek to find a utopia where people are made perfect by their use of intellect and acceptance of atheism, I think they will be sorely disappointed. Utopias cannot exist in this life simply because people are imperfect.
    And they are imperfect to allow free will, which is a basic requirement if the created can have a relationship with the Creator. Again, Polkinghorne and Collins make very good arguments as to why “bad things happen to good people” and why evolution and free will are deeply related.
    People who believe God will save them from X catastrophy ignore their own religion as much as they ignore reality. I would hazard a guess that people prone to this sort of belief would do so with or without religion. As you mentioned, faith in the corporation Walmart illustrates this way of thinking.
    I can sympathize. My mother, aside from being afflicted with a mental illness she refuses to treat, is one of these “God will cover it” types. Ironically, she hates going to church and thinks churchgoers–in general–lack her level of peity. I was screamed at as a child for not welcoming Armaggedon and the wonderful opportunity to meet my savior in person–and openly damned my worldy ten-year-old-at-the-time hide for saying otherwise. The USA was on God’s side, it was God’s country, our founding fathers were Godly…etc…etc…My mother visited Mt. Vernon and described it like a religious experience because Washington was clearly so Holy. Yeah, anyway, I’ve certainly seen that mentality up close and personal. I find it as repellent as anyone possibly could.
    In Quarks Chaos and Christianity I think Polkinghorne made a very good case for a God that does NOT intervene–or at least not in the way that “miracles” and other popularly reported “religious” happenings would suggest.
    If God intervened constantly then the laws of nature would be turned on their eare AND free will (which is a primary issue) could NOT exist.
    As St. Benedict said, (or was it St. Ignatius of Loyola? not sure) “”Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.”
    Which is to say, if you’re not working, you’re doing it the wrong way. :)
    At any rate, bad behavior of religion is the bad behavior linked to being a human in a universe grated free will by its Creator. Taking religion out of the equation doesn’t solve the problem, and may make the problem worse in some cases.
    Speaking of myths, I’m always fascinated by the myth of the Noble Savage. I can’t help falling for it sometimes, myself. It is easy to sit and invision the Native Peoples pre-Europeans running around in the beauty of the country, unmolsted by the corruption of the “civilized” world. But, then, reality sets in when I read some anthropology text or some news item. Fact is, give them more guns and money and they’d be just as rank as the current US Administration. There were even cases where they weren’t so good with environmental management, either.
    No perfection, not in this life, or plane of existence, however you look at it.
    As for communal groping, I had to take Safe Environment Training, and I can assure you, the Diocese of Phoenix and/or the Catholic Church in general has gone to great links to make sure groping (even into the unknown) is a no-no. :)
    Sorry, couldn’t help it.
    Anyhow, there’s no such thing as saying too much. Open but respectful dialogue advances the understanding of the people involved–couldn’t do without it. Honestly, I live for this sort of discussion. I nearly went bonkers in RCIA from the people who thought being a sheep of the fold meant having the same intellectual properties of mutton.
    Thanks again for the compliment.
    I’ve listened to NPR today. I’ve watched the market via the WSJ, etc. I took a peek at Ron Paul’s blog.
    All I can say for certain is that it is hard to tell where reality ends and manipulation begins. My biggest consolations are the knowledge that TPTB cannot keep the game going forever AND the understanding they are in for one big comeuppance.
    Who knows? It may cause people to deal in reality again and bring some of the tiresome BS crashing down–at least, for a little while.

  • …..and it closed off 161 points(Dow),plunging in the last hour,similiar to yesterday.Worst 2 day loss since 2002.
    I got a posting from Turboguy on the previous site-“The Blame Game”.Go back and read it,you’ll want to read what he has to say about his situation.
    Then please come back here for my reply to him, and of course to all of you also.

  • Now back to Turboguy:
    Your location is probably classified,but when you do get back,tell us more,if you can, about where you were and as much as you can tell us about what you were doing.
    Nature is insidious.Your scorpion sounds like the Bark Scorpion we have in Arizona,the most venimous domestic species.It is small,and translucent also.
    And looks totally inocuous.
    The most deadly looking scorpion,is that huge,black,menacing one from Africa which is harmless.Once saw a phony on TV get in a bath tub full of those,supposing to be in danger.
    We must sympathize with Turboguy:200 yards is more than 600 feet,longer than a long city block,and over 1/4 of a mile round trip to shake the dew off his lilly.

  • Isn’t it funny that our illustrious potential Vice-President Palin quoted Lincoln (or someone else — I can’t recall) in saying “it isn’t whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side”. And then she went right over to AIPAC (Zionist lobby) and pledged her support for religion-biased government-implemented evil.
    To me, the mythology of faith and spirituality is that it is usually ultimately self-defined according to some social code and not definable due to empirical reality. It is like the story of the five blind Indians asked to describe an elephant, and each one felt the various parts of the elephant and described it according to their own perceptions and experiences. We are all blind as to what the spiritual world is, if it is real at all, and so we define and describe it according to our own perceptions and experiences and according to those who influence us externally.
    I think it is amazing in today’s world, for instance, that in Islamic society it is perfectly just and good to put criminals to death by beheading, whereas in American culture it is almost taboo to execute even the most vile mass murderers at all and beheading the most vile of crimials would be considered spiritually or ethically obscene and unthinkable. But, in the name of God and country, we can nuke Iran or Japan in order to save American lives or take oil.
    To the persons carrying those beliefs, they are not misusing their religion or spirituality, but invoking “God” and his “righteousness” as they sincerely believe them and believe God to have communicated His/Her standards (in ways only they can understand, perhaps).
    In short, spirituality at its root is primal and human-defined, and thus expressions of spirituality and religion are as diverse as humans themselves are.
    But it is all based on myth because it is not provably real in the way one could “prove” that one’s own life and person is real.
    If God is real, someone like Woody Allen might say, show me his passport. I do recall an old Woody Allen book of essays and observations in which he stated that he was not sure if there was an afterlife, so he would bring along an extra pair of underwear just in case…
    I am spiritual, but not dogmatic. I don’t care what other spiritual people think just because they also claim to be spiritual, but I do care what they do. And I have an internal code of determining what is right or wrong.
    For instance, as a lover of nature and “healthy” land use, I believe strongly in the “Land Ethic” proposed by my hero, Aldo Leopold, who stated it this way: “A thing is right when it tends to promote the stability, beauty and the integrity of the biotic community. A thing is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Leopold observed in his life (he died in 1948) that humans had devised ethics relating to interpersonal or international human relations, but had failed to describe ethics regarding man’s role in relation to the “land”, including the biotic community. Interestingly, religion and spirituality has been invoked in all sorts of contradictory ways, including everything from the Scriptural injunction to “to fill the earth (with humans) and subdue it” to man’s role as custodian to the alleged Native American view that “the Earth is our mother on whose teats we suck every day of our lives”.
    Priests in New England and Eastern Canada as they blessed the fishing fleets as they overharvested the Grand Banks and turned the world’s amazing cod fisheries into codless environments full of atheists who wonder why god abandoned them and the cod.
    And on and on we could go. I say spiritual mythology is only as good as it impact on the world. And the historic impact looks minimal to me, and going downhill almost by the minute. My parents seemed shocked when I told them that I was living in a place that seemed good for survival because, among other things, it was defensible. I am certainly willing to defend my own life, whereas they may pray right up to the last moment that the intruder’s bullet is deflected by the hand of God. Good luck, Dad! Good luck, God!
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Warning: Golgotha is nigh !! Know I’ve said it before,but this time the “proverbial”(delicacy is necessary in our polite
    company)is about to hit the fan.I think the politicians are hearing from their constituents that they are adamantly opposed to giving Wall Street a $700 Billion Baleout.Paulson has painted himself into a corner warning of Ultimate Doom if it fails.Traders are keenly aware of this–so if it does go down we will receive the Revelation of the ultimate divine intent that comes with the Apocalypse.

  • Memo to Stan:
    Not to worry buddy,you’ve got us here to take care of your spiritual and intellectual needs.

  • Yep, this dog ain’t gonna hunt.Just go to
    for all the gory details.
    Seems that if CEO’s are asked to give up just a few of their many millions,they are going to boycot the $700 Billion plan–or so they told Paulson.
    Charlene,what do you think Golgotha will look like?

  • Memo to Frank —
    Oh forget it. Better left unsaid.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, Ca

  • I just received an email from an ornithologist/ecologist friend of mine who shared a thought about how a visit to nature helped heal him of some of his family-related stresses. I have been suffering from similar stresses and my friend’s email reminded me of a wonderful poem by Wendell Berry. I sent the following link to him, and I share it here, and I am sure that nature lovers here will feel as the poet did.
    The link is:
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Memo to Stan:
    Thanks Stan.

  • I just, quite simply, don’t agree with the notion that religion is the root of all the ills in society or that, somehow, rationalism and science will save us all.
    They certainly haven’t yet. Secular humanism hasn’t exactly made in great strides in that arena, either. So, I just can’t see an atheistic utopia springing up out of the ashes of organized religion–much to the chagrin of Dawkins and the like, no doubt.
    Religion may be a stab at understanding the spiritual elements of the universe, but the elephant is still real. That is to say, there is an underlying truth there.
    Especially when you think of care for the sick, the poor, the glimpses of a natural moral law that cut across certain religions.
    The deadly sins, the cardinal virtues, warnings against greed and anger–these are all, in my mind, markers that point to an underlying truth or reality which supersedes dogma.
    I firmly believe there are good Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, and Protestants–I’ve met them. I just don’t think it is fair to malign religion itself based on the failings of people.
    I believe history is littered with accounts of people using good things to do evil.
    If you prefer unaffiliated spirituality–it is perfectly understandable. Still, I want to point out that not all people who follow a particular path are simpering simpletons ripe for the kill :)

  • Yogi Bera?, “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
    That seems to me to be right. Congratulations to all of you for spending the time to figure out what you don’t know! Education, after all is, “a man’s (woman’s) going forth from cocksure ignorance to thoughtful uncertainty”.
    Charlene, you write wonderful things and are very thoughtful, but I’m still stuck on “divine providence–in the sense that things tend to be put to right in the grand scheme. ” I see no evidence fot that.
    In the end, spirituality is the individual’s love of a particular story. A love strong enough (a child, the earth, God) to make life worth living. The problem emerges when stories clash. Our stories, afterall, take on a larger life when we convince (not always pleasantly) more people to believe them. Still, there’s no exisitential threat until a story-telling species grows into a geophysical force. Then story becomes problematic because lurking in the background is the tyranny of physical reality, what we science-types believe to be THE story that all others should be in consilience with. You all know how well that goes over. It is a challenge to free will. It is the universe talking back saying, “sorry, you are not allowed to believe just anything.”
    E.O. Wilson and Thomas Berry want people to believe their stories just as much as any other religous believer wants others to take there story as truth. But there is a difference. E.O. Wilson and Thomas Berry have built their story on hard evidence. And even their story is based on love.

  • “Put to right” on the grand scheme on a geological timescale (sometimes). And in my preferred version of divine providence, it isn’t essential that the great, grand, and wonderful “I” survive what comes down the pike.
    This is evident in the way evolution tends to favor what works over what does not.
    Again, though, I take it as a given that from the day of my birth I was living on borrowed time. All of us are. No one said life would be fair or that we would live forever.
    I know there are those who still think dying is optional, but I’m not one of them :)
    Again, I reference the Anglican priest/former physicist John Polkinghorne…who thought, rightly I think, that the universe is fine-tuned for consciousness but ultimately has free will to be itself so that the creations within it can also be themselves (have free will).
    The universe or empiricism may squash attempts at “gods of the gaps”, literalism, cults, etc. but I don’t think it annihilates belief in anything. On the contrary, I think it inspires belief in a deeper meaning and a greater truth.
    From my, admittedly limited vantage point, I see an amazing creation set in motion by a God (or Force, or Presence if you will) who desires a relationship with it.
    Many great scientists have been deeply religious.
    Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Pascal, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell were all Christians (to my knowledge–if I’m wrong please correct because I have no interest in roaming the internet spouting garbage).
    Newton: “Opposite of godliness is atheism in profession anf idolatry in practice. Atheism is so sensless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors…”
    re:Galileo, the story is much more complex than popular lore. This article covers the topic quite nicely:
    And, not to plug too much for my own team, but, I find this document from Vatican II related to spiritual freedom particularly heartening:
    Personally, taking a quote from the “literature” of the Bible, I think we can only hope this will happen:
    “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
    Just some thoughts, but ultimately it is a personal choice. I only say what say in defence of myself and fellow practitioners of religion.
    We’re not all wild-eyed fanatics out to ruin the world (or sheeps happily trotting off to the slaughter, either) :)

  • Frank, I’m not quite sure what you mean. I’m still in the camp that thinks “the end of the world as we know it” is not the end of the world, just the world we’ve known.

  • Correct Charlene,
    I was writing in a metaphorical and metaphysical vein.

  • I cannot recall saying or even hearing anyone else say that religion is the source of all evil, or anything close to that. I do recall saying that religion and spirituality tends to get people in trouble, just like I said that nationalism and patriotism tend to get people in trouble. And I will go a bit farther in this post in saying in my view the practice of science is nowadays a form of religion for some (too many) practicioners.
    After all, science is not necessarily a search for truth in our modern practice, but is often a structure of thinking that can be agenda-focused and missing truth or reality altogether. I have had very interesting dialogues with great practicioners of statistics-based biological sciences who agree with me that peer review is broken and that the process itself takes priority over the data. To me, that is bass-ackwards.
    To me, the real issue regarding religion in this discussion continues to be missed. My point continues to be that religion is mythology. God is not an elephant that can be measured and defined in real terms by anyone. That is the mystery and the mythology of religion. Like science, religion can be used for good outcomes or it can be used for bad outcomes depending on the motives and the initiative of the practicioner.
    Science can be religion if its empirical basis is violated or if its methods become skewed by “faith” and either fail to find reality or misconstrue it.
    If one reads the work of Drs Anderson, White and Burnham of Colorado State University on the “philosophy of science” particularly as relates to statistical inference, one sees a very good explanation of the potential weaknesses of scientific practice. Some scientists using statistics think they are studying reality through the use of modeling and statistics, which is fundamentally erroneous. At the very core of this sort of science should be the requisite understanding that models and statistics are valuable only in that they approximate reality in the closest sense possible, and the rigor with which those approximations are accepted as valid determines how close to truth one might get. Science involves faith in that respect. Science has become more faith based over time as we have moved from describing and measuring nature (natural history) to modeling, manipulating, and trying to assess relationships.
    And it is fascinating to me that nowadays “natural history” is often rejected as a pure science because it is only empirical and not analytical via human-composed analysis regimes.
    And having said all that, we use science to promote the further depauperization of the planet. We use university science programs to emphasize what results we want to obtain and those we wish to ignore or obfuscate. We prioritize resource extraction to the point of environmental harm and minimalize our efforts to objectively evaluate them.
    Bottom line for me is that religion, science, politics are all HUMAN constructs representing the foibles and failures and (sometimes) grandest nobility and achievement of humans. To the extent that those constructs are beneficial, I welcome them. To the extent they are harmful, I oppose them.
    The labeling process more of less confuses the issue. Humans are what they are and they are complex, sometimes hypocritical, often irrational, and occasionally brilliant.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • I was primarily responding to the following:
    “Then story becomes problematic because lurking in the background is the tyranny of physical reality, what we science-types believe to be THE story that all others should be in consilience with.”
    …”but I’m still stuck on “divine providence–in the sense that things tend to be put to right in the grand scheme. ” I see no evidence fot that.”
    It is a challenge to free will. It is the universe talking back saying, “sorry, you are not allowed to believe just anything.”
    Perhaps root of all evil is too strong, but I did glean from your words that religion is certainly not, in your estimation, a force for good. Instead, it seemed, religion (organized religion at least) was portrayed as the ultimately an idea that had been tried but found wanting:
    “In short, spirituality at its root is primal and human-defined, and thus expressions of spirituality and religion are as diverse as humans themselves are.”
    “I say spiritual mythology is only as good as it impact on the world. And the historic impact looks minimal to me, and going downhill almost by the minute.”
    While I agree people are diverse and infinitely flawed, I would argue that religion has had no small part in the human drama that is history–good and bad.
    Also, while I’m not a unitarian, I still think these mythologies harken to an underlying truth–the elephant in the room, if you will :)
    Campbell’s hero with a thousand faces?
    I don’t know, but I do know I can respect Campbell’s quote:
    ” It was the men who got involved in spinning most of the great myths. The women were too busy; they had too damn much to do to sit around thinking about stories. ”
    Amen to that.
    But, I don’t agree on other points…such as…
    “Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”
    If life were without meaning, and the truth is whatever you like or want to call truth…then no truth would exist at all. You can’t simultaneously have a world where everything is true.
    Say Joe thinks murdering his wife when he’s tired of her is the true way to conduct business. Joe’s wife will seriously have problems with Joe’s true way. Her truth will be completely different. It can’t be both ways and still copasetic with everyone.
    There has to be an underlying, natural, moral law or principle guiding things–an anything goes approach to truth just doesn’t work in philosophy or spirituality any more than it would in a science lab. :)

  • Ewww… Religious discussions never turn out well…
    And Frank, I was posting in that other one because I didn’t want to hijack this thread and talk about my adventures here when there was such a lively debate that was going to get interesting.
    Where I am isn’t technically classified, I’m just not going to take any chances with Operational Security and divulge that info. I’ll be more than happy to talk about it when I’m back home.
    Guy I’m not really into hoping it’s all going to come crashing down. Hoping that quite literally hundreds of millions of people will die starving or violently is not something that’s going to be cool. Talking as if you’re willing to take a bullet to the head, or a starvation/dehydration to the stomach to see poo hit a fan isn’t going to make you seem very mainstream in your beliefs.
    Seeing people starve is no fun (Trust me, I’ve seen it), starving doesn’t seem to be a good time and having to potentially shoot a desperate someone or someones over food just doesn’t sound like a picnic to me.
    I wish you luck in your drilling for water. Eventually you’ll get there.

  • Memo to Professor Guy:
    Can you fill us in on the details of your water well problems? Water supply is a prime problem that we all might have to face sonner or later.
    Thank you.

  • The government is in a no-win,no way out situation.If the $700 billion bailout doesn’t pass the economy tanks.If it does pass,the USD will collapse,and oil prices go thru the roof,and the economy tanks.But then I repeat myself.

  • Sorry…gotcha…shutin’ up. :)
    I agree Frank, I just can’t see how this can work. I actually heard some fellow on NPR saying that we could continue spending beyond our means without any consequences. I was floored.
    I will say, maybe it is better if the economy tanks after the bailout passes–if only for the fact no one will be able to point fingers and blame this or that politician in congress for not moving quickly enough, etc.
    I agree with the Club Orlov post. It’s game over, but no one wants to admit it.

  • Thanks, Turboguy, for seeking pointing out that I need to remind everybody about my premises and goals. It inspired a new entry, which I posted a few minutes ago.
    The problem is not the well, which has been drilled (good news: the water is quite shallow). The mud hut is in a rural area, which comes with its own set of problems. In this case, as in many others, there is a delay in getting the pump into the ground because the pump-installer is busy. Patience is a virtue I lack.
    Thanks to Jaime, friend and student in the Honors College, for posting a comment in response to my recent presentation. I do not want to make people cry. But I do want them to wake up to their future, and ours. If enough of us get there, perhaps we can get through this mess without a massive human die-off.
    That’s what I hope for.

  • How can we react on this issue? We know that our economy is going into a slump. Some political figures are destroying valid financial options like Payday loans that are an essential part of the U.S. financial system. Legislators are targeting this financial system. Some states such as Georgia and North Carolina have even banned the industry all together. Perhaps, banks are trying to take away people financial choices and freedoms so they can have a monopoly on loans.
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