this is not a test

Saturday 2012.08.11

This is not a false alarm. This is not a test.

You can tell people. You can show them. You can explain it. You can do it all again. Will they even notice?

It can happen. It can hit people over the head and smack them in the face. You can tell them what happened and give them relevant background. You can explain it. Will they ignore all that and pay attention instead to all the wrong things?

“People cannot stand too much reality” Dr. Carl Jung

Jung hit it on target.

How much gets through when an overwhelming majority of people pretty clearly seem to just not want to know? That kind of macro-level problem, or meta-problem, is one that I’ve been thinking and writing about as a thing of its own. Everything keeps running smack into that.

I’ve said, repeatedly; we have a set of serious issues to face and deal with, in the larger categories of energy, economy, and Earth. The EEE cluster. A batch of major items fill all three and interact across the categories, and over it all, a general kind of climate of really serious failures among political leaders and what we have today as “the press” to actually address reality honestly and intelligently.

Every now and then, I vaguely recall some conversation, years ago, where a passing bit of it stuck with me. I’ve completely forgotten everything else about the rest of the conversation. Basically, somewhere in some forgotten chat, some friend and I came to a point of agreement that our favorite kind of people were aware, informed, thinking, honest people of goodwill. I seem to remember that there was a bit of a laugh about it, simply because it was such a simple and ridiculously obvious idea, a real kind of “well, duh!” moment.

I think the reason why that little moment from long ago comes back to mind now and then is that I keep finding myself thinking about how many people would not only not quite get the importance of that simple little idea of quality of human being, but might even think there is something wrong with that.

Recent days brought us the horror show of somebody grabbing a gun, going into a Sihk temple, and killing people, for no apparent reason than that they were a little different from him. There those people were, in their temple, and in comes some Neo-Nazi firing at them.

This is what you get as the end result of people reacting to difficult times by going simplistic, defining people as some form of enemy Others, and defining their world as Us versus Them. Eventually somebody is going off to kill some of “Them”, people who have never done them any harm.

That came only, what, within a couple of weeks of another malevolent lunatic loading up with weapons and ammo, dressing in full ballistic body armor, and shooting dozens of people in a packed movie theater. It’s still unknown why he did this, other than general madness. A dozen people are dead there.

The extra twist that merits a little quiet reflection is that this event happened in a time and place where people filled a movie theater, for a screening of a movie at midnight, because they apparently just could not wait until a normal Friday evening showing, when new films normally open a run. The audience evidently included small children who had been brought along, for what (I surmise from available information, not having seen it) seems to be a pretty dark and grim and very violent movie, and even at least one baby.

In my book, this was already a pretty twisted event, even before a lunatic with orange dyed hair walked in and opened fire at the crowd.

The terrible irony of the story is pretty stark. Here was a theater apparently full, or close to full, of people who went to a film screening starting at midnight, just to get to see a movie less than a day earlier than the normal Friday movie run start. The movie they just had to see as soon as possible was dark grim madness, evil, and violence, as fantasy entertainment. In a space of a few moments, suddenly they had all that as actual reality, and it turns out there’s nothing entertaining about that.

The story of the killer in Wisconsin centers on a different kind of madness. There, it appears to be something more long running, a larger group insanity. History has lessons and warnings for us from the past. In this case, the lessons and warnings that a particular subculture ignores come from the history of Europe between around 1930 to 1945.

But, then, one question is, how many people know that history? I don’t mean the idiot babbling about that place and era you get from somebody like Glenn Beck presenting entertainment for fools as “information”.

There have been all sorts of people spewing piles of commentary about these grim events, and it’s questionable as to how much of that has any real worth and insight, with one consequence being that any discussion of these events, like many other subjects, runs into the substantial problem of the probability of just being ignored as more noise.

There has been plenty of commentary about the subject of guns following these two incidents, which is valid and important, but firearms have been a part of the society throughout the entire history of the United States. So how do we have a state of affairs where some lunatics grab guns and ammo and go off to some place and start shooting large numbers of random people, and everybody just kind of says “oh, again?”. Then there’s a lot of chatter and general soound and fury meaning nothing, and eventually it’s on to the next Big News infotainment event.

I can only speculate and guess about what twisted malevolent lunacy was swirling around the heads of the two goons in these events.

Looking at the orange haired psycho who shot 70 people and killed, what, 11 of them (from memory), it has to be considered: how much of this madman’s mind was saturated with years of movie and video game entertainment amusement that was essentially no different in character than the horrific evil he acted out himself, except that now, this was reality?

The goon shooting up a Sihk temple in Wisconsin was a slightly different madness, something of a much older destructive theme, of people filling their minds with delusions of what seems to them like easy answers to difficulty, the idea that somehow life will be just so much simpler and clearer and just plain grand and glorious if they band together in an exclusive tribe of people, that they suppose, at least, are just like them, and declare anybody outside the club as enemy Others who are a threat to be destroyed.

But then some obscenely malevolent event happens like these attacks on some group of strangers, and there’s a great public display of people acting out shocked astonishment: how could this have happened? Is there some way we could have seen this coming?

Along with that inevitably comes some quotations in news reports from somebody who knew, or at least occasionally encountered the armed lunatic of the moment, expressing their shocked bafflement about it all.

There’s a whole world of chatter in this realm, and you get count on all kinds of assorted yapping from various designated expert authority persons (however questionable or valid or even relevant the “expertise” might be, just as long as they fill air time), with platitudes and pontification including phrases about “warning signs” and “red flags”, maybe even some sort of official formal bureaucracy in the case of the orange haired pyscho, him being a graduate student at a university.

Much more to the point is a generally much simpler overall observation. Here in America, we have generally become a society where far too many have lost, simply buried, any capacity for honest self examination, either of ourselves as individuals, or as a more collective group and set of institutions.

Things can seem awfully puzzling when you combine complex circumstances and difficulties with avoidance of reality. It has become completely normal for people to lie to themselves, and each other, about all kinds of things. When reality breaks through the illusions and pretense, yes, that can be puzzling if you’ve been operating on the basis of illusions and pretenses.

We have become like the latter-day Romans. We worship the gladiators and we have forgotten the architects and the philosophers – Dean Kamen

Part of the reality avoidance, in the news, U.S. Won’t Prosecute Goldman Sachs, Employees Over CDO Deals. Here this is staring us in the face, while the political dog and pony show pretends that the United States government is not a wholly owned plutocracy.

While things like that are happening, people completely hypnotized and deluded by the continuous propaganda operations of Fox News and all their brethren in deception and confusion are convinced by all that nonsense that Barack Obama is some kind of left wing radical socialist or something, while the reality of three and a half years so far of his term have found Barack Obama as president about as much of a left wing radical socialist as Richard Nixon.

You can address one of the most basic, fundamental, and universally relevant subjects we have, what’s happening to the Earth’s climate, and even getting into the matter runs into unbelievable difficulties. Either people go into determined denial, or maybe slink away from even addressing the subject because this would be something “politically controversial”. This is “politically controversial” in much the same way as it was once “politically controversial” for Copernicus or Gallileo trying to get people to understand that the Earth is a sphere orbiting around the sun. In other words, in reality, it has no relation to politics.

James Hansen of NASA has been trying his best to sound warnings about the state of the Earth’s climate, for years. He contributed a piece in the Washington Post a few days ago, Climate change is here — and worse than we thought. The closing line: “The future is now. And it is hot.“.

Terrifying Study of Planetary Collapse, on The Automatic Earth, takes a good look at recent work about how deep the trouble might be.

The article Searching for Clues to Calamity in the New York Times also examines how precarious our situation might be in this.

We are in deep shit in this department, and the only doubt and uncertainty about it at this point is in not really knowing how the complex interactive systems of the Earth might destabilize and lead to results we couldn’t forecast.

The denial and deliberate evasion about all this is astonishing, just incomprehensible. In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy stories, you find the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, a monster that is both extremely dangerous and vicious, and unbelievably stupid. If you encounter one, a defense against it is to quickly cover your head with a towel, because the beast is so massively stupid that it thinks if you can’t see it, it can’t see you. There’s some sort of parallel here.

Arthur Berman examines the world of shale natural gas resources a bit more realistically than the usual popular hype, in Shale gas—Abundance or mirage? Why the Marcellus Shale will disappoint expectations.

From President Obama to resurrected gasbag Newt Gingrich, political activity regarding matters of “energy policy” have been including the spread of the PR narrative that says we have more than a century’s worth of natural gas in the United States, thanks, supposedly, to the wonders of fracking. The actual reality looks to be nowhere near what the currently popular spiels tell us.

I’ve already been over the petroleum situation many times, and I’ve seen little to no indication that people are really getting a grip on where we are. At the same time, a steady bombardment of reality distortion of various kinds have been continuing to confuse and mislead people, as I’ve been pointing out, repeatedly, as every time I sit down to write something, many more of those kinds of pieces have appeared since the last note.

It doesn’t help matters when even the New York Times helps to propagate deluded nonsense and fantasy, repeating a piece from a Reuters editor claiming that we have some sort of coming oil boom in the works, based on a recently publicized study from Leonardo Maugeri published in a report by the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, which, naturally, is going to be taken seriously by people, even though that piece of work has serious problems, a subject that has been addressed elsewhere.

People read things like that, or the oil business propaganda from Daniel Yergin, for another example, and think to themselves, great, serious researchers say we have no problem, and most people get further and further away from understanding the situation and how immediate our petroleum problems are. A dominant portion of people only want to hear that we don’t have a problem. For them, anything telling them the reality of where we are is rejected outright, or at least most dismissed and downplayed, because they don’t like that news. So either out it goes, rejected outright, completely, or a milder form of evasion.

In that, somebody might be willing to accept an idea that there is a depletion problem, but refuse to really understand the facts of the matter in any detail, and are likely to grasp at one form or another of wishful thinking magic wands.

Then, today, Willard Romney announced his choice for running mate for the presidential election, with big fanfare and theater staged at a US naval vessel (which takes us into a whole other subject, this jingoistic staging). In one speech, Romney, with new boy Paul Ryan standing by, Romney announced to a cheering crowd that he had a big five-point plan, all vague platitudes. Item number one? Announcing that the first item was to exploit American’s own oil and natural gas resources and make the country “energy independent”.

This is delusional.

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