In something I was listening to recently, there was a kind of poetic reference to the changes of the onset of the autumn season as the season of fading light. That set me thinking beyond the obvious autumnal items of the weather changing and foliage on the trees turning different colors and preparing to leave the trees and be blown around the scenery.
There is always the element of the whole “back to school” tradition of the period in the air. There’s just that feel to it, as if the shifts in environment trigger some subconscious instinct from past school days that suggests “it’s that time again!”. Even if it has been years since your school days and you have no children heading to school, there is this sense that this time of year means it’s time to get going on new tasks, challenges, new work to do, a time of change and moving forward.
Mix in the changes in weather, and there’s the physical feel and look to things, getting a little more bare and stripped back, a little more stark and sobering.
Some people certainly feel a little down and sad about the whole thing, a bit melancholy and depressed, even a bit grim, seeing it as all gloom and difficulty, but the things of Fall are hardly all bad. It’s a positive, it’s a bit of impetus, a little drive. It can’t be summer party time all the time, it shouldn’t be, and that doesn’t mean things should be miserable suffering, either. It’s a natural cycle.
It would probably be fair to sum up a lot about the Fall season, and skip a general semi-poetic essay on the transition into autumn, to say that it’s a kind of time with a theme that goes something like- it’s time to get serious.
It’s more than being unfortunate that as we get into the autumn season of 2014, we’re in circumstances where it seems like as a whole, we’re a people incapable of telling ourselves the truth, to borrow a neat summary from James Kunstler.
There is obviously an endless problem with this in the realm of politics and governance, and anything under the heading of public issues. It’s also pervasive in business and commerce of all sorts, including the increasingly bizarre distortions and misconduct in banking and financing and trading markets.
I’m thinking of a set of various different problems I’ve encountered, still never actually fixed and resolved by the entities involved.
The second layer of problems, on top of the actual issue, comes from all the dancing around of the business operations involved, in managing to avoid acknowledging and correcting the problem at hand. Instead, they produce an epic of going through ridiculous shows of pretending to deal with problems while avoiding doing anything at all, trying to put on an appearance of doing something.
People will be familiar with lots of this kind of thing in their own experiences, running into their own problems, whether it’s a physical product, some sort of work, service, or even the systems and procedures involved in some corporate operation.
Just a hint of what I’m talking about is familiar to everybody, of attempting spoken communication with someone to sort out a problem. and finding themselves hearing a robotic drone of a recorded human voice, telling them “your call is very important to us”, even as this very situation reveals that your call is so important to them that nobody can be bothered to answer the call and talk to you. If you do get a live human, you might find that that really didn’t improve matters. You might find yourself hearing scripted platitudes, even worse if delivered by some faux hyper-perky enthusiasm, like saying that they apologize for the inconvenience this has caused for you, and thank you for choosing us as a customer, but completely avoiding anything that would qualify as understanding, acknowledging, and correcting the problem at hand.
Aside from all that, there is quite a lot that could be said about the ongoing habit of people being referred to, not as people, but as “consumers”. Just this ubiquitous habit says a lot, by the way it’s so pervasive, it seems like hardly anyone even questions it. Consume, consumers! Fulfill your purpose! Consume! Never mind that going full out consuming everything is destroying us. But that’s part the standard chanting about “the economy”, even while so much work is not getting done, with the corresponding factor, of people not getting paid to get work done.
Back to the malfunctions in business and commerce. There’s another odd little phenomenon that fits right in with what I was referring to earlier, of corporate entities who avoid actually fixing things when there are problems with some product they make (or, more likely, just have some overseas sweatshop make), or work and services they do (or are supposed to do). It apparently is regarded as more “cost effective” or something to put effort into dog and pony shows to make people think they care, even as they avoid, any way possible, actually acknowledging and correcting problems. The thing that goes with that is the noise about “branding” or “the brand“.
It might be a bit of a clue about what things are in a different realm, when you hear somebody talking about either of the two completely dominating political parties in the US in terms of their “brand”.
Give that some thought.
In thinking about it, I definitely find it interesting to notice that, the odd phenomenon of people chattering about “the brand“, and saying “branding“, as a verb, talking about political parties. That says a lot about the organizations and people involved.
The essence of it is playing games of selling some kind of vague impressionistic notions about a “brand”, in terms of selling people on an idea of something and what they’re supposed to think about it, that might not match up at all with the reality of what the stuff represented by the “brand” really is.
It can be a name that gained a positive reputation from past physical products that were good, or work and services, that, now, is just a name, that really has little or no connection to the past enterprise that did good work.
It can be a name that the name’s owners pretend still means what it once did, even though it’s now just an image, a name, maybe an associated logo, stuck on things to make people believe there’s something there resembling past quality and good work. The name and logo of “the brand” might have no relevance to anything good that made “the brand” mean something once upon a time.
The same kind of phenomenon of pretense seems to be in action regarding the two dominating American political parties.
Quick-sampling TV cable news earlier, as a group of talking heads chattered (I ignored them), a text banner on screen said that a new poll found that around 15% of Americans polled described themselves as “closely following” the dog and pony show of the congressional mid-term elections.
That’s a pretty good indicator of things, which I think can be explained by a one of a couple of general factors; people who are just completely ignorant of anything in the domain of governance, and an increasing number of people who are fairly aware of things in that realm, and are aware enough and intelligent enough to realize that the whole thing has become more and more of an empty farce for show, and that they really have no say, no control, of anything about their own government. It’s a farce, with the show of “democracy” featuring the allowance, at least of some people, a side topic of its own, to choose between Brand R or Brand D, Brand D or Brand R, with lots of fanfare and posing, that makes me recall, again, that line from a Shakespeare play, “”it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing“.
At the present moment as I type things are somewhere in the middle of a break of a couple of months of Congress not in session, yes, a couple of months, of Congress being gone, not doing the jobs they were elected to do, to spend this time doing what might realistically be argued as what they regard as their real jobs. This is to simply get themselves elected again, to go back to Washington, and not do their jobs some more, instead focusing on what maneuvering they think they need to do to then repeat the whole thing again in the next “election cycle”.
Meanwhile, as we head into autumn the big running news, the kind of thing that becomes the “one thing happening in the world” item on CNN, is the appearance of cases of people infected by the deadly Ebola virus. Another glance at the TV cable news revealed another text banner on screen reading: “OBAMA: EBOLA IS TOP NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITY”. Really? A possible pandemic of a disease virtually guaranteed to kill people is not a major public health issue of critical importance, but a “national security priority“? That says a lot about the collective mind of Washington. Now, I’m just waiting to hear about the proclamation of a “War on Ebola”.
That gets into the stream of noise in the infotainment pseudo-news along with the preceding “all ISIS, all the time” barrage. There, we continue to have the bizarre farce of a tangled and confused mess of neocon meddling in the world, as the “ISIS threat” narratives continue to ignore reports that this bunch were the product of US support and training to go cause trouble (like overthrowing the Syrian government, because Washington wants “regime change”), then backfiring, like causing trouble in Iraq (a decade after neocon Washington’s “regime change” there).
As that proceeds, little bits sneak out, that are easy to miss except for people really actively looking for real news, that indicate that in the middle of all that the neocons in Washington are still maneuvering for “regime change” in Syria, including what’s presented as airstrike attacks fighting ISIS/ISIL turning out to be things like blowing up Syrian oil refineries (but not Iraqi oil refineries), with this being easy to understand for anybody paying attention and thinking, instead of just thinking what they’re told to think. If Syrian refineries are destroyed, Assad and the Syrian government can’t have those working and in their hands, whereas Iraqi refineries can’t be blown up, because the plan is to try to get those back under at least what the Washington crowd thinks will be their control.
While all that swirls around (again, without Congress at work), the news of the last couple of days included what was reported as a “gaffe”, involving Vice President Biden evidently inadvertently making comments about the tangled mess of the middle east where he actually told some small amount of truth, which, naturally, became seen as an awkward political problem.
Speaking of regime change, you might have noticed how the “Ukraine Crisis” has largely disappeared, as I’ve also mentioned recently. The topic of neocon Washington’s backing of a overthrow of elected government by coup d’etat, to get “regime change” to a more Washington-friendly regime (reported as “the Ukrainian people bravely rising up for freedom and democracy”) is quietly ignored, as it has been. Notice how little you’ve heard about the crash investigation case of Malaysia Airlines MH17, quietly ignored now, as what credible fact has made it out through the propaganda seems to indicate that the most plausible explanation was that the airliner crashed, killing just under 300 people, by being brought down by a combination of an air to air missile and machine gun fire from one or more Ukrainian military aircraft (under the control of the Ukrainian coup government under the control of Washington).
If Ukraine is mentioned at all in the usual US news infotainment, there’s probably standard phrasing about “Russian invasion and seizure/annexation of Crimea”, completely ignoring the actual facts, that Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, evidently most of the people there never regarded it as really part of Ukraine, and, in fact, even as part of Ukraine it was a semi-autonomous region, and that after the coup early this year, an actual democratic vote exercising “self-determination” brought a result of a massive majority of Crimean voters choosing the option to formally ask to rejoin Russia.
There’s still nonsense fed to us about “respect for sovereignty of other nations”, even as the previous matter regarding Syria carries on, and mendacious nonsense about “right to self determination” while turning around and declaring the Crimean referendum with a massive majority vote to rejoin Russia as “illegal” and “Russian illegal annexation of Crimea”.
I could continue on this stuff for a while, but I’ve already said much of it in the recent past, for one thing (although new items keep popping up, or old items keep repeating endlessly, worth mentioning). Maybe the main overall point to take is how much of the activities of governance in Washington are really not about governing the United States of America at all, but are just perpetually increasingly insane and idiotic machinations for worldwide empire domination, which just keep making worse and worse messes; worse for the rest of the world, and worse for us, here in the US.
In the same general theme, another largely forgotten “news” narrative is what was supposed to be another crisis, this one of waves of invading “illegals” across the southern border, which has been perpetually reported using that word, “illegals”, or “illegal immigrants”, when realistically the actual crux of the matter is that it involves people who are refugees trying to get somewhere better from a homeland turned into a hellish place, in this case, Honduras. For a bit of insight, read about former Secretary of State, past and likely future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her involvement in Honduras. You might say this is a pretty classic metaphorical case of “chickens coming home to roost”.
It might be a bit grim to follow the metaphor involving animal life when it comes to facing a report that since 1970, half the world’s wildlife has died off. This is not a good sign. What makes it even worse is how generally oblivious so many people will be to this. Predictably some people will notice and promptly dismiss it as “lefty Liberal eco-whacko tree-hugger bullshit” and carry on, many of them turning their attention back to things they regard as much more important and meaningful, like the state of “their” sports teams and their competitions.
The many stories of assorted denials of reality come together with the changing seasons in what’s facing Europe. As I’ve covered often in this past year, the ongoing foolish hubris of players in Washington of the neocon club have backfired in countless ways including the dramas in Ukraine. There, it’s obvious that the general goal of that bunch of lunatics is a combination of getting another nation on Earth under their domination, and in the process, further their plan of lining the entire European border of Russia with hostile military forces, to send a not so subtle “message” that could be paraphrased as “we rule the world, you stay there in your pen and keep your mouths shut and stay out of getting involved in anything anywhere else in the world (even on your own borders!), or there will be trouble!“.
Among the many consequences and repercussions of that insane hubris and arrogance and meddling, another aspect of reality being badly ignored also comes into play, the depletion and diminishing returns of hydrocarbon resources. These days, Russia, having not yet depleted these to the extent other places have (like the United States), is, for one thing, the highest volume producer of crude oil, the last I checked, and a major supplier of natural gas to the rest of Europe.
A large portion of Europe is already into pretty chilly weather, and given the modern way of things shifting to burning natural gas as a source of heat energy, Europe will very quickly be dealing with the reality of this coupled with the repercussions of obediently following along with the schemes of the neocons in Washington including idiotic “sanctions” on Russia, as they turn to Russia and basically say “right, so you’re bad kids, you will be punished!” (even though the Russians haven’t actually done anything wrong) immediately followed by “now, you’re going to be shuffling all the natural gas we want our way, and selling it to us really cheap, too, right?”. There may be unpleasant surprises in that department.
That subtopic of the messes of international relations created by the lunatics and fools in Washington includes the knot of delusions among politicians about the finite resources of hydrocarbons. Part of the foolish geopolitical scheming has included politicians with no fucking idea of what they’re talking about combining notions that the wonder miracle of fracking has created endless bounties of all the natural gas we could ever want, along with notions that it can be simply shipped over to Europe to act as some sort of “political leverage”. Just this topic alone is a prime demonstration of the idiocy of politicians acting in ways with real effects and repercussions while having no clue of the reality involved.
The reality of natural gas is that the supposed miracles of fracking and natural gas in shale formations are going to be a short-lived blip in human history, and we’re going to be facing the reality of depletion and limits right here in the US, very soon, a fact that seems virtually unknown here except among a small minority of people paying attention and rejecting wishful thinking delusions and focusing on reality and reason. The other part is that even if you ignore that, the practical reality of the stuff is that moving it around is not trivial, and getting it to another continent thousands of miles away across a large ocean requires processes of liquefying the gas, then transferring it in heavily compressed and refrigerated form into specialized ocean-going vessels, with appropriate transfer facilities at each end of the journey.
The short response might be “good luck with that”, and it’s a perfect story of political animals acting foolishly based on little to no understanding of anything involved.
I hoped to keep this short, but there’s more happening. Tuesday, watching the CNBC festival of the market trading day for a minute here and there brought a show of another interesting trading day, with a significant drop in the magic number of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which unavoidably raises the matter of how unreal that whole world is, now. Part of the scene includes the slipping downward of the crude oil benchmark prices for West Texas Intermediate and Brent, still high by historical norms, but slipping downward from what has been a sort of “new normal”. That “new normal” has been so high, in terms of the kind of past prices that were regarded as normal, that economic matters built upon much lower oil prices have been problematic. Now, the Wall Street types chatter about lowering prices all tangled up between the usual anxiety about any market trading price going down and affecting the games of skimming profits, even while acting happy about lower oil prices being good for “the transports” stocks.
Missing completely is any acknowledgement of the reality that the supposed “energy boom” of tight oil deposits like the Bakken formation in North Dakota, the stuff that feeds delusions about “Saudi America” and “energy independence”, is all only in play because high oil prices can cover the much higher costs and diminishing returns of all that.