Tuesday, December 25, 2007

take the 20 minutes

and watch this video:


It's well worth the time spent.

Monday, December 24, 2007

we are not our economy

It so happened that I went to the mall yesterday.

I still shudder to recall it. I'm not a religious man, so I rarely go to church, including the Church of the Almighty Dollar, whose cathedrals are our regional shopping malls (I once went to the Maul of 'merica, but that's another story); but I am a man of a somewhat (and increasingly) spiritual bent, and I gotta say this whole shopmania raises my spiritual hackles.

Granted, it is that time of year; when, with the excuse of cultural (some would say, but I would deny, religious) sanction, we unfetter our already largely unfettered obsession with consumption (how can you unfetter an already headlong, world-consuming pile-drive toward self-annihilation?) and buy ourselves silly.

"Ah, but it's okay," they claim, "I'm buying this for someone else!" and gleefully plunk down plastic, make-believe money for objet de d├ęsir, most of which will end up in a landfill in a matter of months. Soooo, because it's for someone else, that makes it.... less of a problem?

And now for the What if... portion of our program:

What if next year you took the time that you would have spent shopping for gifts (online and live-shopping and travel time), and offered that to the intended recipient(s)? "Dear Mom/Sis/Son/Daughter/Friend: Here is my gift to you: two hours of my time, to do with as you please. With love, Me."

I keep telling myself I'll make gifts each year, and once in a while I do make gifts; but I have to admit that my inner Scrooge comes out at this time of the year, in a fit of defiance against the rampant consumerism, and he tends to dampen whatever giving spirit I may normally have within me. Ask my family and friends: I just don't do the presents thing much, or consistently. In fact, I feel lately as though I'm doing my part by not shopping.

But there I was at the mall, having to pick up one or two necessaries (even that word begs scrutiny), and I found myself amid the hustle-and-bustle of 'mericans, doing what they do best: consuming.

Folks, we will not be buying our way out of this sorry state of affairs.

Friday, December 14, 2007

a headless nation

For anyone with any remaining doubts about whether they should look elsewhere for leadership in difficult times than to our Congress, what should be the ultimate proof took place today in the Senate: they nixed tax credits and a national energy RPS from the latest version of the so-called energy bill.

What more evidence of our need to get off the juice and go renewable do they need on the hill? Than, say, the bottomless cesspool of Iraq involvement, the rapidly rising cost of fossil fuels, the global climate crisis, or the deteriorating global biosphere? Hell, just stop to think about your daily experience in automobile gridlock if you don't want to get into all the reasons "outside" your little world.

Well, I suppose any hope that reason will get through to them is in vain--- since it has much more to do with their lobbyist puppet-masters than reason.

Once again the war-cry: Bring us publicly financed elections!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ain't nobody tellin' US what to do!

In what may well become history's dictionary-definition example of "head in the sand" thinking, the U.S. today continued to oppose global climate treaties mandating reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Or, to be more accurate, the Bush administration continued its opposition, while evidence suggests the nation's people, by and large, do not oppose such treaties. As the United Nations conference on global warming in Bali winds down this week, only a handful of scientists and a whole lot of polar bears seem to have noticed that the ice is melting in the Arctic, a self-accelerating phenomenon that bodes ill for the bears as well as for millions of coastal-dwellings people.

Happy 10th anniversary, Kyoto Protocol!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Congress: out of touch? or just bought and paid for?

The so-called leadership of 'merica continues to be woefully out of touch with reality, as most recently evidenced in the Senate's stunningly short-sighted opposition to the current draft of the energy bill.

The passed (235-181) House version contains the first U.S. auto fleet efficiency standards increase since 1975. Can you believe that? 1975 was the last time we raised fuel efficiency? Despite the U.S. auto industry's continual decline and unerringly incompetent business practices-- or perhaps because of it?-- they still seem to own the Congress, as one can conclude from this latest bizarre vote. Between the auto and oil industry lobbies, how does U.S. energy policy reform (i.e., ditching the fossils) have a chance to succeed? Also in jeopardy in this singularly ludicrous failure of the Senate: extension and expansion of renewable energy incentives and credits. Folks, I don't know if you've noticed, but we're in some deep doo-doo at home and abroad because of our addiction to the juice; we, uh, kinda need to get off the stuff so we can, um, save our lives and the planet, yo.

Since it is patently absurd to expect actual leadership from the nose-ringed money-grubbers in D.C. (lobbyists are pulling the nose-rings, duh), I guess it's up to the people to lead themselves. Let's skip the whining and just do what needs to be done: consume with a thought to the present (death, maiming and destruction in Iraq, global warming, species loss) and the future (the coming geopolitical destabilization inevitable from peak oil). Consider your consumption and find ways to reduce it. Walk, bike, or carpool to work (what a concept!), tune up your engine, inflate your tires properly, use public transportation if you're lucky enough to have it.

In short, BECOME AWARE of how your actions affect the world around you. Yes, you are one among millions; but if we as individuals accept responsibility for our own actions, and avoid the petulant excuse of "I'm not going to do it if no one else does it", we can move mountains--- including the mountain of human waste occupying the nation's Capitol.