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, March 25, 2010

Nigerian Web Scam or April Fool's Gag?

A large impressive looking letter was received at our house addressed to Resident so naturally being the resident, we knew it was for us. It looked official enough bearing the message "Your Response Is Required By Law", which is what DMV always says. So we opened it.

It purported to be from the U.S. Census Bureau but the instructions, albeit with less garbled syntax, read like a Nigerian internet scam. The cover letter pleaded with us, keep in mind the date being March 15, 2010 to ..."complete and mail back the enclosed census form today". With pen firmly in hand I consulted the packet enclosed ready to begin as instructed.

Question 1. "How many people were living in this house,...on April 1, 2010?

Four pages later. "Thank you for completing your official 2010 Census form"

Needless to say, not being gifted with fore-sight I put down my pen and put aside the material to await April 1.

Well, a week later a postcard arrived. We knew right off we were the residents being sought out. This was from the big guy himself, Robert M. Grove Director U.S. Census Bureau. The director seemed concerned we hadn't as yet returned the completed survey. He said among other things,"If you have not responded, please provide your information as soon as possible". The card was dated March 22, 2010.

Those Nigerians in DC never give up. Their syntax is much improved but they still believe in occult powers apparently. I wonder if before April 1 arrives we'll get a personal visit wondering why our response is tardy?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Even Paul Craig Roberts Has Given Up

Today, his column in the outstanding online political newsletter, CounterPunch, was catalogued with a simple 'Good-bye'. Roberts, after a long career as a journo and in government, apparently gave up trying to caution us as to where we are being inexorably led and wrote in finale,"I am signing off". I use the term 'led 'advisably because it is probable that unconsciously or deliberately the powerful are attempting just that. Ultimately, they are pursuing a foolish course likely to destroy what remains of our way-of-life. Unfortunately, they accomplish this quite easily these days; more so with Roberts silent.

It's baffling to see why this rush to chaos is occurring since if they bring society down the result will not be any more advantageous to the perpetrators than the rest of us. I suspect what is happening is by keeping the power gene pool much too small a kind of mental inbreeding infests the elite particularly as regards ideas having consequences. What may seem a neat idea to an insider group may not play as well in the real world. It may, in fact, backfire and make life just as miserable for the commissars.

Paul Craig Roberts' political and philosophical voice will be missed; indeed, sorely. He has had a distinguished career matched by few others. In addition to having been a Business Week columnist, a former Wall Street Journal editor; he was also Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Until...he dared criticize the establishment at which point the mainstream media deemed him persona non gratis and he was banished off to blogland. The elite cannot abide one of their own getting uppity and spilling the beans, getting anywhere near...the truth. Apostate, begone with ya'!

In Robert's words, "Today I cannot publish in, or appear on, the American “mainstream media.” So after gallantly focusing his long experience, his first hand knowledge, on the shortcomings and venality of what our Nation has become, he is now silent. Perhaps exhausted by preaching solely to a sympathetic and conversant, but wholly powerless audience, he tired of his lonely voice.

Or maybe he realized the internet is simply the modern equivalent of the soapbox and just stepped down.

Note: Sometime after this posting Roberts began publishing again and continues to do so at CounterPunch and elsewhere.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A 'Peculiar Institution' Revisited?

As we rapidly edge toward the end of a surfeit of cheap and plentiful energy based on the consumption of irreplaceable fossil fuel, a bitter ' historical' reality begins to present itself for our consideration.

For three centuries we have developed a growing dependence on highly concentrated forms of what is basically solar energy, sunlight, to ease our burdens and grow our societies. Before the general use of coal and later, petroleum, we were limited to hydro, wind, firewood and, if the hunting was good, whale oil, to help us. But what formed the basis of our walking around energy usage was horse,and human, muscle power.

Human power, beyond the personal and familial, was augmented by hired help and/or owned help. History is rife with doleful accounts of the later. In fact it was only in the 20th century that chattel slavery was finally abolished worldwide. Legal human slavery existed in the lifetime of a few elderly people still alive today.

How fantastic is a scenario predicated on the gradual lead-up to a condition of want and coercion that would lead one or more societies to consider reverting to that 'peculiar institution'? And if conditions had so deteriorated as to make the unthinkable attractive who would take the first step?

This list shows a few of the principal players in the enslavement of humans in modern society and the year that people were finally freed from such bondage. Judging by the dates, this is really not such ancient history after all.

China 1906

Zanzibar 1897

Brazil 1888

Cuba 1886

U.S. 1865

Russia 1861

Romania 1850

French colonies 1848.
British Colonies 1834

Mexico 1829

England and Scotland 1777

Care to make a guess at the year and the place it all begins again?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let's All do as the Romans Did...Nothing!

Nothing at all. The Roman Empire slid into the backwater of history without a whimper. Will we, the 'can do' people, the inventors of damn near everything, the flyers to the moon; will we do the same thing? Very likely. Unless things change in a big hurry, a historical backwater is our likely destination,too.

With even a tiny clear glimpse of our future prospects America could wake out of it's trance and begin to prepare. Slowly, very slowly, in all probability. Committees, of course, endless committees, but that's okay. As long as they are realistic and not simply bent on returning to what cannot be sustained any longer. Hopefully the message that emerges from all this collective wisdom will be...

Stop! Stop everything!

We're broke. We're losing irreplaceable energy supplies rapidly. We're despised globally for bringing it all down on everybody's head by sheer hubris, endless war, and willful interference on a massive, Roman like, scale for a century or so. It's up to us, alone, if we intend to survive as a viable entity.

Where to start? Sensible priorities might help. The time has come for National Triage. It can't all be saved. So what's important? Food, clothing, shelter, fuel and transportation. What? That old stuff? Yep, exactly. That's were it's at.

Well, we can handle all that, we already do. Sure, but on credit, yours, mine and the government's; at the sufferance of others. Those days are ending rapidly. As a debtor nation and debtor society the barbarians can arrive at the gates any day in the form of creditors demanding payback. On that day it's all over. Backwater time for sure.

How do we keep those hordes at bay? Maybe by living for the future for a change. The future to a farmer means planting now for harvest later. It doesn't mean waiting by the dock for dinner to arrive from farmers thousands of miles away. It also means less crop planting dedicated to cow and hog (and automobile) gullets while planting more stuff that goes straight to human nourishment.

The future also would appreciate us saving a little something prior to its arrival. Like fossil fuel? If we made our own jeans, bath towels, footwear, etc.etc. ourselves (we did once, remember?) we could save a little petro for the future. Might come in handy, who knows? We could use what we manage to save now to keep the lights on, the food cold and the house warm, down the road. And put a little aside to carry us comfortably around instead of needing to walk everywhere.

But I have my car, you say. Sorry. It didn't make the cut. Fortunately we had the foresight to provide a world class public transportation network that provides trains, trolleys and busses everywhere imaginable. The future is secure. Empire is no more but the country continues onward; sort of.

If we don't make the call and plan ahead; if we continue with the nonsense that it's going to be alright, that somebody will come up with a fix, fuggedabout us. Backwater! Freezing in the dark and puzzled along with the rest of the Western world. The East? Well, what happened the last time it all fell apart in the West?

Monday, March 8, 2010

After the Deluge: One Nation Divisable

A doomsday global warming scenario such as is being wafted about currently
would forever change the parameters of our country if accurate. With predictions of a sea rise of up to 15 meters we could expect to find ALL of our coastal habitations and a great many interior areas that adjoin rivers rendered uninhabitable.

If a significant area of the Greenland Ice Sheet or the Antarctic Ice Cap were to dislodge into the sea the rise of sea level would be catastrophic. In addition to the necessity of millions to seek higher ground almost all of our refineries, fuel storage, power transmission facilities and seaports, would be lost. A way of life would vanish permanently.

This is what we have long considered a familiar and comfortable picture of our homeland, from sea to shining sea.:

With all of our coastline and the Mississippi River Basin uninhabitable or only marginally livable we would have to be content with the landlocked or higher altitude areas shown below. The new United States of America would be united by boat only, except Hawaii, which would no longer exist.

USA West USA East

maps by Google

With access to portable fossil fuels, petroleum and natural gas, and, of course, living space, gone with the waves, countless displaced denizens of the former continent- sized nation will roam about seeking residence and succor. Relocation of the seats of power and culture will be of primary importance only to the suddenly displaced elites.

Our candidate for the site of the de facto US government in exile is chosen because of its reasonably secure location. If the Treasury Dept. is underwater and the Fed. gone forever, no way will exist to maintain security except by, eureka, ...the Mormons! A glance at 19th century history will remind the elites that only the Latter Day Saints can provide the muscle and will to keep the hordes out of Deseret, the future US Capitol city.

Without fuel our car culture era will be over and the hot new industry will be horse and mule breeding and training. These activities have been, of course, long abandoned generally except by a certain few, among these the horse-and-buggy Amish, who will be the men-of-the hour.

Post deluge, the new US Capitol site could well be Salt Lake City, Utah, where militant Mormons will protect and nourish gentle Amish farmers and keep out undesirables:

photos by Panoramio by


OK, Government is now ensconced in the former Beehive State ( which it might come to resemble despite all efforts). Since culture and power were never known to exist together in the 'old" Federal District, we will separate them now in advance of the need. The question asked is:

Denver, Colorado. Is the 'mile high city' destined to
become the new Big Apple?

photos by Panoramio

Note: The railroad platform shown deserted above is expected to remain this way in our brave new, but necessarily Spartan, center of high culture.

Note: In the event the sudden onrush of fresh water released by the icecap melt is sufficient to stifle the flow of either or both the Gulf Stream and Japan Current the above choices are withdrawn. If this occurs the ice age sure to follow necessitates moving both centers much further South.

The State of Zacatecas, Mexico has been suggested. Any further recommendations?


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"