I posted a note to the blog here a fairly short time ago, with some items still not fully addressed. Further events add to the pile.
Wednesday, Oct. 22, a check of the news brought the kind of ongoing continuous “BREAKING NEWS” stream you get from TV news, that goes on and on, even as not much new is being reported. The big story, somebody in Ottawa opened fire at a monument, and then there was some sort of police shootout with a gunman in the Canadian parliament building. According to reports, a Canadian soldier was shot dead, at the monument.
I first heard about this ugliness when I listened to a short bit of midday radio news. Among the chatter I heard was something about Canadian military being “anxious” and talking about not wearing their uniforms out in public in civilian zones (not on base). Checking out the droning TV news a little while ago (mid-afternoon), I heard official type characters in a press conference talking about “protecting our soldiers and keeping them safe“.
Does anybody even think about what’s coming out of their mouths?
There was more, there was some other comment about announcing instructions to Canadian military personnel to stay inside and take cover in secure places on lockdown. The military.
It’s bizarre. I mean, this is a kind of thing where a lad almost has to sit there and really focus and do a double-take check… yes, I really did hear that. People really did just say that.
Given what just happened in the Canadian national capitol, somebody will start chattering about “national security” and “terror threat” (as opposed to “terrorist threat”, which gets off into another problem of how badly language is being mangled). Considering that, it’s probably a good place to mention an unfortunate item in TV news a few days ago.
On one of the TV networks (I’ve forgotten which, but that might be a trivial detail at this stage), the talking heads were chattering about a “report” that consisted of saying that government officials were claiming, simplified a bit, that they’ve lost track of all the terrorists, they can’t keep tabs on bunches of them anymore, all because Edward Snowden gave away all their secrets and that let the terrorists know how to give them the slip. So the terrorists are coming to get us and it’s all his fault, is it?
Imagine that. Snowden dares to let the American people know that our government is completely out of control, certainly having tossed out the basic principles of the nation’s founding, and is spying on all of us as much as they possibly can, including all electronic communications they can grab… and the next thing you know, we’re told that the terrorist bogeymen are coming to get us and it’s all because of Snowden!
Feeling played for a fool yet?
I did notice something posted online, by a Canadian, about the noticeable difference in the TV news coverage of the ugliness in the Canadian capital. To put it in short form, the Canadian news coverage was a bit more adult, let’s say, more like actual journalism, where facts were the key thing, without added theatrical drama and filling time endlessly with random characters rambling on and on with vacuous noise.
Thinking more about the assortment of ongoing stories that present some metaphorical items of pink elephants or elephants in the room, I had a thought appear about an old major story.
Somewhere among all the historical accounts I’ve read or heard in some historical documentary in the much bigger and more violent drama that played out at the Navy base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, there was an item that comes to mind. It has been reported that some military lookout post in the islands had looked up at the sky and had seen a large swarm of Japanese military aircraft coming in over the Pacific from the west, and this was called in by telephone line or radio. That was apparently dismissed and ignored as nonsense, a mistake, evidently because somebody up the chain of command thought that this simply could not be right, because that would be extremely unusual, extraordinary, and if this were taken seriously, it would mean bad things, serious trouble, demanding extraordinary things to happen, and this might be terribly inconvenient. My god, that could mess up the plans of senior officers for their golf game that quiet Sunday morning in island paradise, and we can’t have that!
Of course, it turned out to be exactly what was happening, and when things started blowing up in and around Pearl Harbor, dismissing a report of Japanese military attack aircraft became a bit less feasible.
If we take this in and throw it into the exercise of using metaphors and analogies in present circumstances, it might be fair to say that we have a whole host of dramatic and large items where it’s reasonable to describe many things as having been blowing up around us for some time now, and people are still claiming that reports of trouble are just silly mistakes or exaggerations.
An obvious problem on our hands is something I’ve been thinking about, and mentioned before, and that’s as much of an issue as ever. With all the problems and puzzles, and the craziness surrounding them making it more complicated, it’s too easy to find cases of people dismissing everything as tinfoil hat nuttery paranoid delusions or overreactions, or conspiracy theory stuff (whether or not anybody suggests any actual conspiracy). And, with that, an obvious hazard is that when things get weird enough, the actual paranoid delusional nutballs might start feeling validated, if they actually appear to be right. Back to Ed Snowden’s revelations of our government here in “The Land of The Free” spying on everybody everywhere and contemplate all this.
Yes, I’ve written pretty much all this before, so it might seem like I’m just on some compulsive-obsessive endless loop repeat cycle of endless loop repeat cycle redundant redundancy. Sorry. None of that has just gone away, you know? More to the point, as everything of this sort continues to carry on, we’re back to the metaphorical pachyderms and wondering how crammed the surroundings have to become with all the various elephants in the room, a whole herd of the giant bastards, before people start deciding that they simply can’t pretend to ignore them anymore. Even now, you can point things out to people, and many recognize it, although an amazing number still don’t… or at least pretend they don’t. It gets more and more amazing to listen to people sometimes and hear the astonishing absurd bullshit that comes out about all sorts of topics, and acting as if it makes sense (while others listening act as if it makes sense, and maybe contributes their own pile of cattle dung).
The loony world of politics is as full of it as ever, of course. I’ve been watching as Australian friends online have been watching in dread, disgust, and outright horror as things proceed there, often revolving around Tony Abbott. I haven’t been following everything there, as it’s overwhelming to just keep track of the political lunacy here in the good old USA, but it has struck me more than once that the theater there seems to resemble a lot of what’s happening up in Canada with Harper being the Prime Minister, not just in the amazingly awful PM himself, what they do and how their minds seem to work, but the feeling of so many citizens of something like “how in the hell did we end up with this guy?”.
As I get to this portion of the note, it’s getting to be around midday on a Sunday. One thing you will not find me doing, ever, is spending (wasting) any time on what has long been a media tradition here in the US, since the early days of television, of the Sunday politically-based yapfests. It’s fair to argue that these things, these days, are more of a noisy waste of time than ever.
The general simplified essence of the kinds of talk-show yapping theme there is almost invariably some endless bullshit about whether or not people are happy with some incumbent occupant of a government office, and if unhappy, and depending on the political brand of the incumbent, whether people will demand “change” by flipping the switch from Brand R to Brand D or Brand D to Brand R or Brand R to Brand D… off into infinity (and then asking “why isn’t stuff getting better?”).
I read an online article titled 14 Facts About The Obama Presidency That Most People Don’t Know, that was a bit of an unfortunate mix of things, or fortunate, depending on how you look at it. The mix is a bit of a complicated mess that shows a chunk of the twisted mess of mixing truth, deception, messy half-truths, and confusion that we have around us now in the public realm. It combines elements of the way that a kind of mythology has been grown of President Barack Obama as what I’ve been calling the cartoon villain Obama with little or no basis in reality, along with an opposing side kind of mythology of Obama as a wonderful president, with some serious confusion or outright fiction involved, and a variety of public ignorance and misunderstanding of various topics.
Sorting through that is a bit of a task of its own, obviously (I mean, it’s 14 items, and there’s no surprise that in an article of that kind the items involved are going to be large scale). The broad point in considering the thing is the way so much of the American public seems unable to focus clearly on anything with first putting it through some kind of assessment of political “sides” and whether it’s something their “side” wants them to think and believe. We have a pervasive mud bog of this kind of obstacle, whether it’s a starting premise of “Obama bad!” or “Obama good!”.
There are some key items in there, like the widely believed nonsense foisted on people who lap it up and believe “Obama raised my taxes!”, even while the federal government taxation levels are still minimal, especially at upper financial levels, even as the federal government is massively bankrupt, and neglecting so much that a national government should be addressing. On that subject, some people constantly yammer about “Obama massively increasing the deficit”, even as the actual numbers show that the annual budget deficits of the US federal government have been decreasing. That gets into the whole ridiculous ongoing problem of people evidently not understand what a deficit is and the difference between that and the accumulated debt of the government.
That’s a running cloud of alternate reality fiction and confusion among the “Obama bad!” cult. The article goes on with lots for the “Obama good!” crowd with all sorts of nonsense that either requires really selective tailored half-truths or complete nonsense to make it at least seem valid.
The portions of this thing making grand pronouncements about economic recovery and so on are perfect examples of that, very carefully selecting factoids, which are often seriously questionable in themselves, and leaving out an awful lot, and even flying headlong into fiction and delusions. The unemployment statistics are one example, citing official statistics that only count “unemployed” people who are filing ongoing claims for unemployment insurance benefits (if you are completely out of that desperate option, guess what, you’re officially no longer unemployed!).
Proclamations of “record stock market!” ignores any question of what all that is actually all about, as frenzied trading games fuelled by no-interest money loaned into existence for the Wall Street players is regarded as economic wonderstuff. Things are similarly delusional when it comes to ridiculous pronouncements about “financial reform” as a supposed achievement of Obama as president. Found near the end of this thing, there was a statement saying that before Obama became president, “our financial system was in ruins and millions of people were at risk of losing their life savings”, followed by the tragicomedic claim “Now, the financial loopholes have been fixed and we are no longer at risk of another financial collapse.”. I’m not sure what the author is thinking about what “loopholes have been fixed”, but essentially nothing has been done during Obama’s time in the White House to fix anything in the phantasmagoric circus of unreality and fraud in banking and finance and re-establish rule of law and general sanity, and I’m worried that people are going to be horribly surprised about what could be coming. Here we are, still in the world created by what some observers have simply and accurately described as “the financialization of everything”, where people play games of theoretical paper wealth and games of trading and general usury, apart from any real actual value and getting work done.
There’s much more in that article, including often repeated dreamland delusions of the “Saudi America energy independence” sort. Looking at actual data takes a bit more work, and some serious sorting to clarify the picture, but the reality is that here in the US the amount of crude oil still being imported is imported at nearly the same rate as the total oil extraction output within US borders. Part of the cheerleading involves going on about “reduced dependence on foreign oil”, despite the fact just mentioned, and talking about increased oil extraction rates while Obama has been president. This last item is especially troublesome, since looking at a graph of oil extraction rates shows a pretty dramatic upward slope over the past few years, as a result of the adventures in tight-oil extraction from shale rock that’s often called by the misnomer of “shale oil”, which looks very impressive. What isn’t shown is the nature of all that, with wells that rapidly decline after extracting little slurps of oil at great effort and cost, with that last element being especially important. All that is only in action, as I’ve been trying to point out to people, because of high crude oil selling prices. It’s also a story now for the basic reason that we’re so far along into diminishing returns that these deposits, which have been known for a long time, are being extracted because that’s what’s left. It’s pretty literally scraping for the dregs.
One comment in the article I’m talking about actually boasted “Oil production has reached record highs”, and I don’t know how they manage that statement with anything like honesty, unless they’re very carefully fudging about what the “record” might be, like, maybe, a record high within the past X years or something. Even with the impressive upward slope of the oil production graph, we still aren’t up to the all time peak around 1970-1971, or even the smaller mini-peak in the mid-eighties that came from oil from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, the single largest discovery of oil in US territory. As I’ve said already, even if we matched the peak, we would still be far short of supplying US oil consumption.
And, it needs to be said, all this boasting about increasing oil production quietly ignores an obvious point… it means that even though we’re already into the diminishing returns downside of Hubbert’s curve, increasing extraction rates (i.e. “oil production”) means we’re blowing through the depleting amount we have left even faster. Regarding this as a great accomplishment is pretty foolish. It remains to be seen how people will react when the shale adventures in oil extraction start to go into diminishing returns of depletion over the overall region, and that upward spike starts turning back down and revealing the more realistic picture.
What we have not seen from Obama as president is making people realize all this and get focused on a long term program of getting adjusted to what we have to work with.
problematic articles to be taken with large chunks of salt, not to be taken at face value: