Pushing shit uphill gets to you in the end

Jon StewartThe state of “democracy” is so toxic that it’s destroying those who are trying to help us to reclaim it.

The media good guys know that they’re in an echo chamber. They’re preaching to the converted, but gaining little traction with those whom they most need to inform: the naive majority who have no understanding of the problems the world faces.

Dealing with constant bad news, denial, and abuse is a psychological problem and perk of the job for many climate scientists. The effects of researching and presenting constant bad news forced David Roberts of Grist to take a year’s sabbatical, and now it has claimed the best news satirist in the business.

We all lose.

Here’s the real story behind the retirement of the best and most effective communicator in the business:
John Stewart throws in the towel

Inequality hurts the rich too

How economic inequality harms societies

This remarkable TED talk by Richard Wilkinson should be required watching for every person on the planet, it needs to be shown in schools, it should be understood by every voter and particularly by every politician and economist.

Inequality is one of the most important causes of the woes of the 21st century world.

It’s worth noting that in the developed world, the most unequal societies are generally those of the English-speaking world and the most equal and most contented are in Scandinavia.

Dr Richard Wolff on the failure of capitalism

Capitalism created prosperity for me, my children, and most of the developed world. Unfortunately, it has now turned upon 99% of the population and is in the process of destroying its own foundations.

Richard Wolff explains how and why in this excellent interview with Bill Moyers.

You have the power

You are the 99%. You have the vote. What are you going to do about it?

Sayonara Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron97% of scientists: “the Kardashians cause global warming!”

OK, that’s not literally true, scientists haven’t said anything of the kind; but the constant diet of trash peddled by the media distracts us from matters of importance, and those girls rack up a lot of air miles, so there is a kernel of truth.

The Kardashian sisters get 40 times as many news write-ups as ocean acidification, so it’s no surprise that until I chanced upon one of her essays recently, I’d never heard of Nora Ephron. Unbeknown to me, she had made my life a little brighter, and the lives of millions of others, .

If you liked Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, or Sleepless in Seattle, you can thank Nora. She wrote those movies and she wrote, produced and directed many others. She also wrote great serious essays. This one in the New Yorker, “My Life as an Heiress“, was my introduction. Read it, It’s funny and wise. You’ll like it. Really.

Movies like Sleepless in Seattle may be written off as fluff by culture vultures, but as an old sentimentalist I enjoyed it. Entertainment doesn’t have to be profound, sometimes it’s just entertainment.

In 1962, when she was just 21, Nora was working as an intern for JFK; she applied to be a writer at Newsweek. Astonishingly, they had the nerve to tell her “We don’t hire women writers.” Nora didn’t take that too kindly, and participated in a class-action lawsuit against Newsweek for sexual discrimination, which went some way toward changing laws and attitudes.

Over to Nora:

“Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all.”

“In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.”

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”

Goodbye Nora, I should have known you sooner.

Read about her interesting life and work here on Wikipedia.

Negative carbon liquid fuels

In the previous post we saw our civilisation’s quandary in a 5 minute nutshell. Sometimes it seems that the plight of the planet is so dire that we might just as well party up and forget about it. Fortunately for my grandchildren’s future not everyone feels that way. Innovative people are busy developing ways of addressing the problem.

Mike Cheiky is one of those people. He and his team are producing liquid fuels from biomass while simultaneously sequestering carbon and restoring soil fertility. This is not a pie-in-the-sky academic dream. It’s based on solid science and Mr Cheiky has some seriously big time backers.

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It’s rather odd, but I can’t find any opinions on this elsewhere on the web. Something of this magnitude with big backers like Google should have attracted attention. I’d like to know whether or not there are any fishhooks in this process. One area of concern could be the catalysts: are they plentiful, recyclable, and/or reusable?

You can also watch this video here on YouTube.

Playing For Change: “Stand By Me”

There’s too much misery in the world. Here are some nice people doing something about it. From the award-winning documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music”, come the uplifting “Songs around the world” created by many musicians in many nations each adding their unique flavour to the song as it morphs around the globe. This cover of the Ben E. King classic “Stand by Me” started it all.

Does it for me. 🙂

It all started with vocals and guitar recorded in Santa Monica by a street musician called Roger Ridley. The producers then set off around the world with a laptop and some microphones.

Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music… ….musicians from all over the world are brought together to perform benefit concerts that build music and art schools in communities that are in need of inspiration and hope.

Visit their website right here.

Did you enjoy that? Here’s another one.

Swimming against the tide

A thank you noteSir Roger Douglas

Sir Roger Douglas has suffered an astonishing amount of vilification. He’s been unmercifully mocked, and the ill-informed media have made him a scapegoat for every economic woe in the history of mankind.

It’s disgusting.

The economic reforms he ushered in from 1984 saved this country from going into an even steeper economic decline than we’ve experienced in the last quarter-century under the incompetent rule of those who decry him. What’s more, all those lesser mortals from the right and the left—Cullen, Clarke, English, and others—who’ve since sneered at him have left every one of his substantive reforms in place and in some cases extended them. The much-maligned GST, for instance, has been taken from Roger’s 10%, to 12.5% and now to 15%.

  • Who, in their right mind, would scrap GST and increase income tax to compensate?
  • Who wants to go back to a fixed New Zealand dollar exchange rate?
  • Who thinks we should still be dishing out massive subsidies to farmers?
  • Anybody for the 66c in the dollar marginal tax rate that I was paying on a middling income in 1980?
  • How about bringing back import tariffs? Anybody for that?
  • Remember the Post Office and Telecom before corporatisation?
  • How about another taste of near 20% p.a. inflation?

It’s an absolute disgrace that this man has been so shamefully treated. If the vastly over-rated Bigmouth from Mangere (aka David Lange) hadn’t been so gutless he’d have continued the reforms and we’d all be far better off. Lange was cut from the same cloth as Barack Obama seems to be. Talks up a great storm and accomplishes bugger all.

Bias confession

In 2011 I voted Green. I’m not in agreement with all of the Green party’s philosophies—particularly their barely supressed socialist bent—but they’re by far the best of a bad bunch.

I’d been a National voter for almost 50 years. I strayed once (to Social Credit) as a protest against the criminally insane Think Big policies in 1984. Muldoon had totally lost the plot and none of the sycophants surrounding him had the guts to speak up. I switched to Labour in ’87 in support of Roger’s reforms.

Then Lange chickened out, the Labour party turned on Roger Douglas, whose reforms had got them re-elected, and I switched back to National. For most of that time I thought that National seemed to be trying to do the best for this country, although I now realize, with 20/20 hindsight and a lot more knowledge of economics, that they didn’t actually have a clue. In 2008 I held my nose and voted for National again, but only because the alternatives were worse.

When Don Brash took over ACT I saw a glimmer of hope. The good doctor understands the problems and has the economic nous to address them. Unfortunately, Don has as much political nous as my chocolate lab. He hadn’t been in the job 5 minutes and he was off at a tangent making a total fool of himself on matters Maori, on climate change, and on happy baccy. He’s totally lost the plot politically, and even though I’m absolutely in favour of the majority of ACT’s economic policy I can’t see them getting my vote.

They needed Don as finance spokesman but they should have looked elsewhere for a leader.

It’s a tragedy for this country. And Sir Roger must be absolutely disgusted. We’re about to accelerate our decline into the Third world. We need a new Roger Douglas to put a stop to it.

Someone else who understands that it’s not about right and left. It’s about right and wrong.

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From at least one person in this country, thank you Sir Roger. A plague on your detractors. Have a happy and well-deserved retirement. I hope you don’t have to join half a million Kiwis across the ditch to do so.

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If you want to know where and why we’re going down the gurgler check my series starting on this page or watch Dr Sir Paul Callaghan’s Beyond the Farm Gate video here.

Nature in subjection

Where does it all end?

Habitat loss, pollution, desertification, over-population, vanishing topsoil, the resource crunch—it’s not just about climate change…Jonaton Schell

Jonathan Schell is an insightful writer and scholar. A man of many accomplishments. He has elegantly summed up my generation’s legacy to our children’s children in this quote:

“Taken in its entirety, the increase in mankind’s strength has brought about a decisive, many-sided shift in the balance of strength between man and the earth.”
“Nature, once a harsh and feared master, now lies in subjection and needs protection against man’s powers.”
“Yet because man, no matter what intellectual and technical heights he may scale, remains embedded in nature, the balance has shifted against him too, and the threat that he poses to the Earth is a threat to him as well.”

Believe it. Those cupfuls of oil add up. Whether you’re a climate change evangelist, a climate change sceptic or just in denial you can’t escape the fact that we’re fouling our grandchildren’s nest and squandering their heritage. Whether or not you believe that our output of greenhouse gas is contributing to climate change, it’s undeniable that the measures which need to be addressed in order to limit pollution and to husband non-renewable energy sources are the same measures as those which the proponents of anthropogenic climate change promote.

One world, one people, one chance

If nothing else disturbs you, contemplate the source of funding for Al Qaeda, Hamas, Abu Nidal, Islamic Jihad and dozens of other groups. Every time we buy petroleum based fuels we’re contributing to their cause. Those groups obtain most of their funding from oil money: mainly, but not exclusively, from Iran and from the USA’s bosom buddies in Saudi Arabia. We’re funding an openly declared war upon ourselves. A quote from the Middle East Forum in 2003:

“The Saudi government has admitted to spending more than $87 billion over the last decade in an effort to spread Wahhabism. This money has been spent on the creation of Mosques, schools, and other institutions that have constituted the breeding grounds for the foot soldiers of the global Islamic terrorist movement.”

“Political considerations, and oil, have prevented Washington from holding the Saudis accountable for their role in promoting terrorism.
A briefing by Rachel Ehrenfeld September 19, 2003

Eventually, the rising cost of oil is likely to be seen to have been a very good thing in every conceivable way. We only get one bite of the cherry.

Also on mistywindow

See David Roberts from Grist with a convincing climate change update and the resource crunch video:
There’s no tomorrow“,
a half-hour animated documentary about resource depletion, energy and the collision of infinite growth with the brick wall of a finite planet.