Nov 2007

Back to basics

Here’s a bunch of links to check out while I’m finishing the Schreber essay.

Gyrus emailed me a link to this video at The Onion… Is The Government Spying On Paranoid Schizophrenics Enough? (Warning: Funny bit preceded by annoying commercial).

And while you’re in a video-watching mood, head on over to youtube and check out some of this stuff…

  • Pitch ‘n’ Putt with Beckett ‘n’ Joyce. I’ve linked to this before, but it bears repeat viewing. It vies for place with the very different, but equally wonderful Brokeback To The Future, as the best thing I’ve seen on youtube.
  • “What keeps mankind alive?” asks William Burroughs on September Songs. His answer, hidden amongst the weirdness, successfully sums up ‘the later Freud’ in a single triplet… “Mankind can keep alive thanks to his aptitude for keeping his humanity repressed / And now for once you must try to face the facts / mankind is kept alive by bestial acts”. You can always trust Uncle Bill to get right down to the nitty of the gritty.
  • From the sublime to the ridiculous, and as an antidote to Burroughs’ rather bleak message; Is Chewbacca trapped in my nightstand? It’s 45 seconds long. You only need the first 15. And if that didn’t make you at least smile, then let me do my bit to brighten up your day by pointing you towards Four Hands Guitar. I predict you’ll be grinning within 30 seconds.

Don’t watch. Read. On a screen.

Too much video? Well, there’s some plain old text-on-screen to be had if that’s the bag you’re into. First up, David Byrne explains the sub-prime mortgage crisis. (Is it just me, or is that a weird sentence?)

Next, let me point you at Heathrow: Whose Priorities? and more generally at the smokewriting blog which is a good’un and worthy of a bookmark or an rss grab. It’s not the focus of the blog, but I think Rochenko writes very well on the subject of sustainability. And there’s very few who do.

Climate Change. Oil and gas depletion. One merits capitalisation, the other not just yet

Oh yeah, and on the subject of sustainability and what have you… can I just state for the record that we have almost certainly passed the peak of global oil production. Just thought I’d get that out there. Sleep tight.

I’ve got a really chunky article on climate change and peak oil gestating at the moment, but the last couple of weeks have been all about Schreber, so it’s on the back-burner and will be for a while longer. For those of you who can’t possibly wait “for a while longer” and demand some kind of preview / forewarning, then allow me to condense my recent thinking on these issues down to a single paragraph. Hell, you don’t even need to read the article now that you have this handy “cut-out-and-keep” paragraph to carry around with you and refer to (in particular, at moments of crucial decision-making)*.

Climate change is a very real threat, and although there are collective steps that could be taken to negate some — perhaps much — of the damage, these steps will not be taken. Despite the severity of the threat of Climate Change, however, we face a more immediate threat in the shape of oil and gas depletion. Like Climate Change there are steps we could take to deal with this problem which would result in a minimum of human suffering. Just as with Climate Change, we will not take those steps. We’re a bunch of neurotics living in a psychotic culture built upon an absurd collective delusion. We’re fucked and we’re fucked up.

And now, here’s Tom with the weather…

Paint it white

Actually, just to wrap up the Climate Change theme, I assume you’ve all read Björn Lomborg’s latest piece in The Guardian, Paint it white? He proposes to combat climate change by painting everything white in order to reflect more heat away from the planet. And he backs up his argument (or appears to) through clever selective use of statistics and scientific jargon. It’s a piece of outright genius, and while I don’t have much time for his views, I salute the man for his rhetorical skill. The discussion that follows almost universally takes the piece at face value; there are one or two who see the joke among the 130-odd comments; a testament to his skill as a writer. The piece is actually a parody of the kind of science and environmental writing that appears in newspaper columns, and although the parody is being produced by someone on the other side of the ideological fence to me, it doesn’t stop me appreciating the quite important point it’s making about how almost anything can be dressed up as science in 600 words.

I mean, he’s talking about “white-washing” the cities! And people are taking him at face value.

I’d prefer a Bag of Holding, but this’ll do I suppose

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the world’s first true invisibility cloak — a device able to hide an object in the visible spectrum — has been created by physicists in the US. If ever there was an opening line that made you want to read an article, eh? Sadly the actual technology is a long, long way from where your imagination just leapt to, dear reader. Still, one to watch. Or listen out for.

* I am not responsible for any damage caused to your screen during attempts to “cut-out-and-keep” portions of this website.

Posted in: Opinion