It’s a strange weather day, in a strange weather period, and this works for me both as a simple literal observation and a pretty good metaphor.
The literal weather report is that it’s a very rainy and gloomy looking day, but relatively warm for November around here, and that’s a contrast to just days ago when it was seriously cold deep freeze, a little disturbing as food for thought along the lines of “if this is mid-November, what’s January going to be like?”.
The subject of strange weather is obviously a tricky one, especially in areas where strange weather is not really completely strange. This time of the year usually brings a reminder of what the weather can do in this part of the world, the Great Lakes region, as something will remind me of this time of the year almost 40 years ago now, when an old school pal lost his father when he went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald ore freighter in severe weather on Lake Superior.
On a broader scale, it certainly seems to me, having some decades of experience of living here on planet Earth, that these days the general weather is more volatile and extreme. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, it’s old news and a common story to hear about lake-effect snow dropping a staggering amount of snow on the area around the city of Buffalo, but just recently they got another multi-foot snowfall that even stunned the people in the region who are pretty much assuming that if it snows, chances are good that it will be expressed as a measurement in feet, not inches. News reports say that the weather there has turned fairly warm, and the result is that there is a rapid thawing of the massive piles of snow, shifting their problems into a different set of problems. Part of the reporting is talking about this being unprecedented unknown territory for people around there.
The recurring trouble in this broad subject is the same as many other subjects, which is that, in this case, any serious objectve examination and discussion of the complex phenomena and systems of the Earth of weather and climate gets derailed by all kinds of nonsense based on notions of this being a political topic.
Speaking of political topics, although I really would prefer to not, other news includes the announcement of the resignation of the current Secretary of Defense. In the radio news report, the segment devoted to this almost inevitably filled time with pointless chatter between the show host and some guest whose name I already forgot, asked to yap about their opinions and speculations rather than, you know, reporting confirmed facts. One thing that was noteworthy was comments from the president about this that included something about outgoing Secretary Hagel dealing with the tasks of “the drawdown in Afghnanistan” (where the US military has been, for reasons that are baffling, for 13 years now) and, maybe more significant, “other missions”. That right there is a core item that should be in the spotlight.
What “other missions”? There is the idea that maybe the “Department of Defense” of the United States of America should be to maintain a guard and defense of the United States, and not be on some endless “missions” all over the globe, including the permanent instituion of military bases all over the world, outside the United States, the count being uncertain, as items I’ve read give varying numbers, of at least several hundred, maybe over 1000. This idea seems lost, niot even something that’s worth review in the halls of government, for all sorts of reasons, including the basic question of how the “mission” of guarding and protecting the country is served by having an enormous portion of the people and equipment and resources of the American military outside the country, somewhere else.
Recently I suddenly realized that I could not remember the name of the current Secretary of the Department of Energy. This struck me as pretty odd, considering that the general subject of energy, as a public matter, has had my attention for quite a long time now. It didn’t disturb me as a sign that maybe my memory is going, in middle age. It was clear that the man and his role in government has just been that, shall we say, low-profile. I remember seeing him pop up on C-Span a few months ago, talking to a group in some small conference or banquet room somewhere, and that was it, for any public exposure, or even any mention of the man anywhere. Checking this, I find that he has been in the job around a half year already. Who knew?
Finding Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, on the Department of Energy website, turns up this note to tell you about him-
As United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz is tasked with implementing critical Department of Energy missions in support of President Obama’s goals of growing the economy, enhancing security and protecting the environment.
I offer the observation that it might be something to think about seriously to take note of the fact that among thr president’s cabinet, the Secretary of Defense gets regular, almost constant attention, while the Secretary of Energy is almost completely unknown, even as we’re deep into a period of human history, especially here in the United States, where energy issues are a major, fundamentally important and urgent area. It’s galling to me to read the part of the text about “support of President Obama’s goals of growing the economy, enhancing security and protecting the environment”. “Growing the economy”? How about repairing the economy to at least as much of an extent as is possible by addressing the huge set of problems in banking and finance? More to the immediate point, the subject of energy resources and consumption certainly is tied very directly into just about anything you consider in “the economy”, and vurtually nothing in the realm of government, or “the provate sector”, is even coming close to grazing a hint of some realistic and rational engagement with the reality of anything in this realm.
The War Party politics continues and gets full attention, all the time, even though the US has not been in an actual declared war in any defense of the nation since 1945. Returning to an ongoing ugly subject, a news story from UPI turns up.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) — Ukraine’s military is receiving counter-mortar radar systems from the United States as part of a $118 million equipment and training arrangement.
That takes us right back into the mud bog of the ugliness that has been happening in Ukraine over the past year or so, with the involvement of the US government in an overthrow of a corrupt, but actual democratically elected leader, to be replaced in a coup d’etat by a different corrupt government more compliant to control by the neocons in Washington, while the bunch in Washington bombard people with grotesquely dishonest propaganda to divert attention and convince the public that what’s happening is “Russian aggression” and “Russian invasion” against the hopes and desires for freedom and democracy of the Ukranian people, a towering stack of fiction, just raw bullshit on a massive scale. Gone missing from the government official proclamations and useless news media propaganda operations is that this wire service story is quite simply the bankrupt government putting money into helping an arming a coup government in their operations to wipe out the people in eastern Ukraine who simply refuse to accept the coup/junta government that replaced what they saw as their legitimate elected government, whether this consists of slaughtering all the predominantly Russian–Ukrainian people in the east, or driving them across the border into Russia as refugees.
Incidentally, among other things about this obscene saga, it turns out that the rumors are true about the gold reserves of Ukraine being mysteriously removed from the country to destinations unknown, following the coup that was (and is) supported by the US government. (Note that I say the US government, as distinct from the people of the United States, as we have no say in anything, despite all the righteous posing about “freedom and democracy” here.)
I guess that takes us right back to a novel, or forgotten, idea. How much better might many things be if the only mission of the “Department of Defense” was, you know, defense, to guard and protect the United States against anybody with nasty ideas about attacking another country, instead of only expeditions attacking someplace in the world, or even many places in the world?
After the chaotic wreckage induced by the massive overcomplexity and just plain frauds following on from what some people simply and concisely call “the financialization of everything”, maybe we might have some serious healing resets and get things back on a basis of actual reality and proper sense of value, getting work done and people getting paid for their work, and for things of real value?
We might start getting our senses on where we are in the grand arc of Hubbert’s curve, and get serious about readjusting things to work with the reality of diminishing returns in petroleum (and natural gas), instead of the assorted delusions and modes of wishful thinking that seem to be the norm now. That would, for one thing, realizing that there are no magic wands, and for a start, we are going to have to correct the grand mistake of the post World War II project of, as Steve Ludlum put it, building an environment where everything is 15 miles from everything else.
In all of these things, we’re going to end up there, anyway. Whether it’s the hard way, or a more sensible and positive route, is up to us. Oddly, all of these things seem to be considered extremely unacceptable ideas to a lot of people.
Strange weather we’re having.