Aug 2006


It’s been a pretty tough few weeks from a personal point of view. I’ve had to reevaluate some things that I thought I’d already dealt with. Which is always unsettling. What else, one wonders, will leap from the past to mess with head and heart?

Still, at least I’ve got the record collection to deal with it. At times like these, one realises that some friends are definitely for life. So thankyou Nick Drake, Matt Johnson and Tim Buckley… you’re helping a lot. As is me old mate Frederich Nietzsche… “Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent”… ain’t that the truth?*

Anyways, browsing through a well-known online book retailer I espied something that managed to marginally lift my spirits. Check it out. Yes, that’s right, a new novel by Thomas Pynchon… his first in almost a decade! Called “Against The Day” and running to more than a thousand pages, I’m confident that it’ll be the finest novel published in almost a decade. Not due out until December this year, I’ve nonetheless already begun to feel excited at the prospect.

Pynchon is one of those writers that you either get or you don’t. Those who don’t, find him nigh unreadable. For those that do, however, Pynchon is rarely outside their top three novelists. He stretches the imagination to places that didn’t exist before he put pen to paper. He’s funny and wise and somehow manages to illuminate truths about the world we live in despite peppering his work with mechanical ducks, singing dogs, ninja death nuns, godzilla-attacks on Tokyo and rat messiahs.

Or maybe because of that.

Peak Oil is coming to get ya

The United States is on the brink of a major economic slowdown. In fact, it could well be the beginning of the final crash, though it could also be the last dip before that happens. The property market is stagnating as Americans are starting to feel poorer. Cheap oil means cheap everything, and the days of cheap oil are drawing to a close. I saw an interview with Al Gore in which he predicted that Dubya Bush would reverse his stance on climate change and begin the process of scaling back America’s fossil fuel consumption.

I’m not sure he’ll have much of a choice.

China and Venezuela have signed a major oil import-export deal. The government of Chad has just kicked ChevronTexaco out of the country. Officially this is for non-payment of taxes, but it comes just a couple of weeks after a meeting between the government of Chad and a Chinese trade delegation (the first diplomatic contact between the two nations since Chad recognised Taiwan almost a decade ago). Coincidence?

Incidentally, I’m also reading a lot about commodity speculators pumping vast amounts of money into crude oil. If this is true, then there will be a short-lived price crash (possibly down as low as 25 dollars a barrel – my prediction) when the US economy goes south and demand drops dramatically. This would be a good time for poorer nations to buy in enough reserves to fuel a transition to renewables. Not that they will of course. Economists still have too much influence over political decision-making. People who somehow believe that owning a dollar is the same as owning a dollar’s worth of crude oil (that whole “tranformability of units of production” bollocks).

Swiss banking and investment group, UBS, has become the latest major institution to accept that crude oil production is about to peak. Their prediction is that it will occur within 20 years, however they claim it will be mitigated by a switch to “other energy sources, notably natural gas”. Hmmm… someone needs to a have a quiet word in their ear about gas production and how it’s likely to peak around the same time as oil.

In other news

I read that the Vatican may be about to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design. This can only be a bad thing for science education all over the world. The trouble with I.D. as opposed to plain old wacky Creationism is that it’s a religious belief masquerading as a scientific theory, so it may insidiously work its way onto the science curriculum in religious schools. You may as well teach spaghetti monsterism in schools. I mean, if you’re going to fill kids’ heads with absurd nonsense, then at least make it funny nonsense.

By now of course you’ll all have heard the news that Pluto is no longer a planet. Apparently it’s now categorised as a “dwarf planet”. Does this mean that little people aren’t people anymore? I’m not an astronomer, but I did study a little bit of linguistics, and it seems to me that anything called a dwarf planet is clearly a type of planet. Frankly I think the phrase “solar moon” would have been a lot better (as well as being the title of a novel I wrote some years ago and destroyed).

Meanwhile the Irish government have announced that Aer Lingus, the national airline, will be floated on the stock market by the end of September. As I’ve discussed previously, this is an idiotic decision made by greedy politicians who simply don’t understand the concept of public service. Capitalists, fools and self-interested scoundrels to a person. A pox upon them all.

There’s little doubt in my mind that the combination of climate change and peak oil will result in violence erupting in certain places as people turn on the politicians and business leaders who led them to disaster. I wonder will Ireland be one of those places? And I wonder whether Bertie Ahern and his minions are aware that they may well be first against the wall come the crash? And I’m not talking about a metaphorical wall either.

Anyways, hopefully I’ll get myself back on an even keel – emotionally speaking – before too long. Which means I’ll start taking an interest in what’s happening around the world again, and become a half-decent blogger once more. If not though, I’ll track down some music memes. OK?

* Apologies to my female readers. If you have a favourite quote regarding the way men are the death of hope, then feel free to substitute… it’s human emotion that’s really to blame but, being a straight male, in my case it manifests as per Fred’s aphorism.

Posted in: Opinion