The Brothers Karamazov

"Actually, people sometimes talk about man's 'bestial' cruelty, but that is being terribly unjust and offensive to the beasts..."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cars Or Us

As James H. Kunstler ruefully remarked ,after the greenest of the Green Summits attended by the elite of concerned and knowledgeable citizenry, the plea was the same as everywhere else in the land: Save our Cars! Please!

No matter how informed or determined to find the best solution the folks are, the mind set is the same: Life without cars is unthinkable.

Get over it people. Car Culture must Die! For us to live. And that does NOT mean living all our lives stuck in a village as folks were wont to be in the not so distant past. No, it means heavy electric rail for long treks, light electric rail all around and out to the edge places and something like golf carts (or bikes, or feet) to get home. That is, if we are lucky and don't totally wipe out trying to save the status quo.

What are the odds we crash out trying to keep the cars? I'd give it 60-40 we that we do considering where we are now and how we view things. If we spend trillions of bucks we don't have saving the banks and car companies (unless they become railway car makers they have a short life span ahead) the grand kids will be so broke they won't have a shot at avoiding a meltdown.

Nothing is on the horizon to indicate at this date any other course will be taken. Not in I.O.U.S.A. Maybe elsewhere people will be smarter and not so broke.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

" D" Word, Good..."P!" Word, Bad

We've had them before, plenty of times. They're nothing new. Each totally different-all totally the same. What we have done though is change the name. Made it seem more, you know, smoother, not so shocking. Like a gentle hand molding a babies pillow. Like a dip in a smooth highway. Like a slight depression but not an illness.

So out with the dread "P" word which sent fear throughout the land many times in the past. Oh, so many times. Dare we say it aloud? Yes, call it by its real name for once. All together now> Ok, it's, it's PANIC! There it's out.

What we have now is what we had starting in the golden past as far back as 1819. PANIC! Money PANIC!

Banks stopped lending then to pay off hugh international debts because we spent too much to purchase Lousiana and people all over the place were dunning us for the money. Sound familiar?
A few years later ,1837, banks stopped lending again. Different reasons, sort of, same result. PANIC!

The we got serial PANICS! starting in 1857 when the railroad bubble burst. The folks playing with soapsuds in those dear bygone days, too? And the results, well you know---pop. The railroads did it again in 1873 and again for the grand finale in 1893. Never could make the iron horse pay its way. Still can't. Maybe someday, but we'll save that for now.

Not one of these major devastating events was caused by anything other than the boys with the big dough getting scared silly and sitting on the money. They PANIC!; then the folks panic.

In 1907 a big deal known as the Banker's Panic irrupted. Targeted the source accurately this time for a change,didn't they?. The bankers did it,duh. But they fixed it just fine by leaving us the Federal Reserve as legacy and we thank Grandpa from our bottoms for that one.(not)

That show was followed by a tommy-gun rapid fire series of PANICS! linked together to form what is now known as , softly now, The Great "D" Word. Now it was tiresome to say PANIC! 1930, PANIC! 1931, PANIC! 1933 etc. sounds like financial hiccups So let's nice it up and call it DEPRESSION, so much calmer than that noisy, ugly "P!" word. And if it lasts a decade...GREAT.

So here we are again, folks. It's late in 2008. Banks getting short of dough...PANIC!...won't lend. Sit on it. The the folks will panic, too, next year. What'll we call this one?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Triage 2009

Just a short ride down the National Highway but out of sight to most of us due to a stubborn fog lies a scene reminiscent of M.A.S.H just after the helicopters have landed.

The casualties are laid out under the tents as the surgical teams quickly make the rounds deciding each fate. Among the most severe cases presenting is an old familiar warrior and the team sadly concludes that hope is lost. The C.O., Major General Mo "Big Car" Culture is left behind as terminal and the group moves on hoping to save others. A dreadful loss.

Loosely grouped for lack of space around a snack machine in the corridor is a bevy of cooks, clerks and storekeepers suffering from acute shell shock. They are all from Company C, better known as One Big Red Hole, the Consumer Company ,and are referred on to the Psych Unit but the feeling is they will never be the same. The team moves on feeling despondent about all the waste.

Way back in one tent a nerdy bunch from the Signal Corp lie muttering incoherently in the code of their strange language of bytes, bits and daemons. Unable to determine the degree of distress because of communication failure the surgeons prescribe a greatly reduced level of future assignment.
This produces a temporary shock throughout the group as they lapse briefly into reality and see the Web of their lives in tatters and a future of typewriters and pencils.

At last a hopeful note. These can be saved! The surgeons gear up for action and the area is intense with anticipation for a unit of heavy equipment operators show little damage. The prioritization has paid off. This bunch will be up on the rails again and when the trains leave the station will be headed for some much needed R&R.

Oh, no, another disaster. This is a horrible mess. Blood on the floor, gaping wounds abound. An outfit made up of SeaBees and Army Corp of Engineers were careless and hit a big landmine. They are in terrible shape. These stalwart barracks builders may never build again in the same way. Time will tell but the prognosis is bleak. The senior medics all agree that no time should be wasted on these poor souls and they are abandoned.

With General " Big Car" Culture diagnosed as terminal the boys from the Motor Pool have fallen into despair and languish about. The Chaplains try to raise spirits by counseling good cheer and providing pamphlets on Animal Husbandry and Buggy Construction from a nearby Amish settlement.

Now, in the distance, the sound of incoming choppers is detected. Although exhausted from the recent labors the medical teams summon up reserves to face the future. How many this time? Will we lose more irreplaceable troops? A silent prayer spreads among them that the carnage is near an end and above all, that the paymaster battalion is not aboard.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Death of Hip Hop (R.I.P.)

One of the most striking cultural results of the Obama election will be the gradual demise of the mind set that has produced a really bizarre phenomenon.

No longer facing a future that includes, statistically ,a stretch in state prison, the teenage fondness for beltless, oversize, droopy drawers and tentlike Tees, will come to a resounding end and maybe the "gangsta" era will fold as well.

Another welcome change will be the cessation of "the dozens" tricked up on steroids in our time as rap, but remaining still, the work of our old trickster friend, the "signifying monkey".

Jack Kennedy popularized the tee shirt but also sent a dozen fedora hat manufacturers into terminal decline by appearing hatless at his inauguration. Barack Obama will set the fashion from here on in.

I predict a 180 turn, shortly, to an Abe Lincolnesque , pipe stem lean , very serious demeanor look, throughout the hood.

You heard this first from an old white guy who could be all wet

Quoth the Raving



Julius Caesar

Veni,Vedi,Vici...Sidi ( I stuck around )

Uncle Sam


....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving

All I know, all any of us know, is what we're told.

...Zero Gravitas


Quoth the Raving

If it walks like a depression, talks like a depression, and looks like a depression; it's a recovery.

...Zero Gravitas

Nice paint job

Nice paint job
Watch your step!

Quoth the Raving

Full scale War in Korea; we called it a Police Action
Police Action in Iraq; we call it a War.

...Zero Gravitas


Gene Pool?

Gene Pool?

Quoth the Raving

Ecology is an impending Black Swan quagmire therefore incorporation is anathema to Economists.

...Zero Gravitas


Quoth the Raving

An incoming US President who does not immediately resign his office after having received eyes-only briefings of what's really going on is hopelessly co-opted or delusional.
....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving

We are now a nation of middlemen. What becomes of us if the center cannot hold?

....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving


Why not use some of the red ink to make things Green?

....Zero Gravitas

"Ashes to Ashes"

"Ashes to Ashes"