Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All For Naught: Don't Believe the Hype

Y2K. Ah, back when the world was simple and all we had to worry about was catastrophic shutdown of everything on the planet. Or so we were hyped. Then nothing happened. The good old days.

Then came the election of 2000, featuring the contrast of wooden Al Gore versus good ole boy George W. At least that was the hype, that was the coverage. Overlooked was that one candidate had rigorously prepared himself for the office, and as it turns out, was the man most suited to tackle the continuing task of confronting global warming. The other man was George Bush, the most unprepared candidate for office in memory, possibly history.

The election, mired by more problems than any democracy should tolerate, ended in a vote of 5-4 by the Supreme court. Democracy prevailed, or so was the hype. Problems concerning voting machines, voter disenfranchisement and overt political meddling in the process continues even as we assure that we can produce fair elections in other countries.

On his first day in office, George W. Bush was briefed by Richard Clarke that a Islamic jihad group led by Osama bin Laden was a threat to the U.S. The USS Cole suffered an attack with explosives in Yemen.

September 11, 2001 was a day that changed the world. Everyone bought the hype. Nothing had changed, terrorists had already hit in the U.S. and al-Qaeda was already fully operational. It's leader, bin Laden, we were told would be caught, "Dead or Alive". He was on the run, his operation was in shambles. Or so was the hype.

Fear of continuing attacks was fanned. Two wars began in quick succession. Domestic spying, suspension of the very rights of which underpin our country, phone taps, email interceptions, all followed in rapid succession. We began to abandon our own principles, jailing without trial, creating Guantanamo, justifying torture, all in the name of security. Alert levels became the measure of our fear.

Richard Reid made us all take off our shoes every time we fly. The TSA began confiscating nail clippers and key chains. This was supposed to make us safe. The whole security apparatus of the United States was reorganized.

Christmas Day, 2009 a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab, attempted to blow up a flight from Amsterdam as it descended into Detroit. Abdulmuttallab, schooled and radicalized in Britain, had recently traveled to Yemen. His own father, a prominent Nigerian banker, had personally gone to the U.S. embassy and reported that his son had become a radical jihadist.

Muttallab's attack involved the use of an explosive known as PETN, the same as Richard Reid. The new solution has already been proposed - full electronic body scans. Profiling is also being trumpeted as a necessary element in preventing any new attacks. These things will make us safe, we are told.

The last decade has taught us exactly what we should have expected from a decade that began with a zero and an irrational fear of computers crashing: Naught.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. mnn.com. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer