Category Archives: strife

Reaping a whirlwind of trouble, and why smuggling is the new boom industry

This Financial Times blog outlies the reasons why Gordon Brown’s British Jobs for British Workers probably qualifies as the most stupid thing one could promise, especially when there was a financial downturn on the cards.  To whit:

In the UK, prime minister Gordon Brown is reaping the protectionist storm he sowed with his infamous protectionist and xenophobic call for “British jobs for British workers”.  What was he thinking?  Follow the logic: ‘British jobs for British workers’,’Scottish jobs for Scottish workers’ (along with ‘It’s Scotland’s oil’), ‘Welsh jobs for Welsh workers’ and ‘English jobs for English workers’.  Why not London jobs for London Workers, or London jobs for native-born London workers, or even London jobs for white Christian native-born London workers?

How divisive can you get?  British workers are demonstrating against workers from elsewhere in the EU – Italian and Portuguese workers are currently at the centre of a rather disgusting series of altercations at UK oil refineries, gas terminals and power stations, following a dispute at Total’s oil refinery at Killinghome in Lincolnshire, where an Italian engineering company was bringing its own staff from Portugal and Italy for a egnineering construction project.

This is already being exploited by fascist organizations such as the BNP, notably through their front organization British Wildcats – if you doubt this is the case then the Ministry of Truth details the evidence.

In addition to providing propaganda to fascists, gratis no less, the other main beneficiary of protectionism will be those operating in the black market.  John Robb outlines the details, basically stating that it just increases the range of goods such groups can provide and thus improving their economic standing.  Or, if you like, the Law of Eristic Calculation.  Not to mention that stoking such nationalism, at the expense of foreign countries, will only hamper efforts to cut down on such markets.

So yeah, nice going Gordo.  I’ve always wanted to live in a third world country, complete with pointless ethnic strife, a booming illegal industry, corruption, a lowered standard of living and de facto IMF control via “economic structural adjustments”.  No, really.

I coulda cleaned up on this…if I had any money to bet

Iceland’s coalition government just fell into squabbling over…well, pretty much everything, it seems, but mostly whose economic policy sucks more and who should really run the country.

That sounds so familiar.

Anyway, yes.  This has been in the works for a while now.  The collapse of the Icelandic government should come as no surprise.  When 10% of your GDP gets wiped off, people get pissed.  There is a lesson in that, I think.

Keep an eye on the Baltic states and Hungary too.  Oh, and Italy.  The Italian government is pretty brutal, for a democracy, but all that means is that people are going to be even more pissed off and violent when they finally decide to act.

The War on Discord

Millions of people today are still celebrating the swearing in of President Obama and some are saying that his inauguration speech many go down as one of the best in history. However, the Discordian community sees it differently. With one short sentence Pres. Obama has declared War on Discord:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

Many groups see this statement as both offensive and un-American. The Reverend Jim Reinard of America’s United for Discord is quoted as saying:

This is a complete outrage. Apparently Mr. Obama has forgotten his history books. This nation was founded on Discordian principles. Would there have been a Declaration of Independence without discord? Would we have had a Revolutionary War without strife? And where would the Constitution have been if our Founding Fathers hadn’t conflicted over the Articles of Confederation? I expect a full retraction from Pres. Obama in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Elaine Whipspittle president of the Discordian Alliance of Mothers has written a press release stating:

We at the Discordian Alliance of Mothers are appalled at Obama’s resolve to strip our children of their fundamental right to be raised in the faith of their parents. Our religion is not “an introduction to terrorism”, as Mr. Obama portrays it; to see how wrong he is you would only have to see the joyous look on a child’s face as she places memebomb stickers on public property.

Not everyone is opposed to Obama’s new front on conflict though. Central Scrutinizer of the Concordian Movement was quoted as saying:

Success on all fronts! At last someone has awoken to the insidious international threat of DISCORD and has dedicated money, manpower, and bureaucracy to combat this extremely precise problem!

The Obama administration was unable to be reached for comment at this time.

(thanks to Nigel and Hoopla for their help)

Attention: Revolutionaries

Capitalism hasn’t failed. The people who run it have. While at a basic level, Capitalism comes down to “I have greed, and you have need. Let’s do a deal!”, we all know there is much more to it than that. Otherwise none of us would get worked up over Globalisation(tm)and workers rights and the like. There is obviously a social element to Capitalism, both from “our” point of view, and also “theirs”.

Given this very human element, there comes a time where dead wood needs to be cut out of the system – for it to run at maximum wealth-creating efficiency. We normally call these recessions. The weak fall, the strong and the innovative survive. When you postpone a recession with massive public borrowing, that’s all you are doing – postponing it. Artificially propping up the weak can only last for so long before they fall off, like balancing a ball on a very thin stick.

When you get a recession, every weak element in the system will be tested. If you’ve postponed it, they’ll be tested massively. And they’ll fail, epically.

So, I state again, the reason why everything is completely fucked now isn’t so much the system (as flawed and distasteful as it may be), but the people who have allowed 2 or 3 recessions to hit us at the same time. Any system you replace Capitalism with will still be run by pretty much the same people. Even if they have different faces, they’ll still have the same flawed ideas. And we’ll be fucked again.

Change the ideas, THEN the system, and you may be onto something.

The Great Unfolding

Only time will tell…

If you believe what you see on TV, then you are expecting a great New Dawn to occur around noon EST next Tuesday.  Of course, I imagine most of us HERE know better than that. 

The Republicans ridiculed the Hope and Change message from soon-to-be President Barack Obama.  It was endlessly lampooned and satirized.  But they attacked it from the COMPLETELY WRONG angle.  They framed it as an empty message.  A skeleton of an outline and a no-logic model.  Anyone who was paying attention clearly understands that Obama DID have a plan behind his message of “Hope and Change”.  His campaign website had pages, and pages of plans and initiatives.  So the Republicans totally screwed the pooch and really should’ve looked at it from a more pragmatic perspective.

That perspective being, “Do you really think you can do all this shit?”  Oh sure, a couple of the Conservatives tried it, but after George F. Will and the other Republican egg-heads dissed Palin, the rest of the movement ignored anything they said.  And this is the question Obama and the rest of us have to wake up to every morning.  I’m not naive enough to think that he is naive enough to think he can actually do EVERYTHING he promised on the campaign trail, much less what was on his campaign website.  Obviously, there isn’t a politician that has ever lived that has carried out all of their promises.  Okay, well maybe Hitler and Milosevic did, but I digress…

Now, we know how a large chunk of our compatriots operate.  We especially understand how they react to messages that come from the television and other “news” media outlets.  And as technology has advanced, every other Joe on the block has a “news” blog.  Yes, even THAT Joe.  I’m sure we all have also witnessed how the pending Obama Presidency has been sold by many of the “news” media outlets.  I think there is an expectation among many akin to that scene in The Two Towers, when it looked like Saruman’s hordes were about to totally obliterate the Rohirim at Helm’s Deep.  But lo, the sun breaks and there is Gandalf with some huge army he’s conjured up from the wastes.  Switch Gandalf with Obama and the army with economists and you have the expectations for what will happen on January 20th. 

And it’s hard not to empathize with that sentiment.  Desperation will cause a person to latch on to any glimmer of hope that may present itself.  It is human nature.  And it can seem cruel to temper that enthusiasm.  But one also doesn’t want to succumb to reverse paranoia, the idea that someone out there is going to save you from your economic ruin.  Or, that if it does happen, it’s going to happen next week, when in reality, we’re probably looking at the next decade. 

Indeed, only time will tell how successful President Obama is able to channel that Hope and process it into Change in the people’s pockets and Change in the people’s prospects.  The past has demonstrated that these troubled times do come to an end.  The question on the table is if it will happen WITH Obama’s interventions, or in spite of. 

Or at least, that’s how I see it.
-Reverend What’s-His-Name?

More on the Watchmen state of affairs

Reading this open letter from the producers, its looking like the Fox case against Warner, whatever the legal validity, is little more than the result of sour apples.  That Warner have taken the risks, put in the work and invested the money, only for the result to be that Fox, who refused to do any of that when given the chance, is nothing short of unbelievable.

Thanks to P3nt on the forums for the link.

The Death of Small Town America

It’s happening all across the United States, I get to see it up close and personal in my own hometown where I grew up. 

So, this past weekend I was up in the WHN homeland.  Aroostook County Maine.  The northern most county of Maine, and actually one of the largest counties (in land mass) in the United States.  Anyhoo, my home town has this yearly festival.  There’s a parade, music, vendors, you know, the usual thing.  It’s just a scant little town of probably just over 1000 people.  If you blinked while you were driving through it, you’d miss it.  Anyway, this event is one that everyone always looks forward to and has been a tradition for years.  It’s when people like myself who’ve grown up and away from the County come back with their kids to visit.  It is the one time a year this sleepy little town comes alive.

But, this was probably the last year.  The budget for the event has pretty much dried up as the economic slowdown and rising gas prices have eaten into the budget.  And, I’m quite sure this scenario is playing out in little towns all across America.  Little traditions like this in jeopardy as revenues evaporate.  The problem is, these sorts of events serve as a vital part of a small town’s identity.  When you take these celebrations away, a certain amount of town pride is lost, and so the town suffers. 

It’s bad enough that many families in these towns are on a knife’s edge.  They are all a pink slip away from ruin.  And now for them to lose this one little distraction that they can look forward to each year, it’s sort of like someone taking the knife that is sticking in their gut, and giving it a quick twist.  Now, my town is taking up a collection.  Asking for donations so that the August Festival may continue, but how many will be able to give?  And will it be enough?  And how long can it be sustained?

Of course no one really knows.  No one seems to really know what’s going to happen.  And for sure, people in Big City America are struggling as well.  But in Big City America, you have more resources, more opportunities within a more concentrated area.  In Small Town America, it is more difficult, especially if your Small Town is in an isolated, far removed corner of the nation.  There are few options to take, few routes to travel.  Despair can set in quickly, and it can suffocate. 

With any luck, this economic slowdown will do a 180 and start heading for calmer waters.  And with any luck, its wake will send ripples of prosperity back into these little towns, as often they are the last to benefit from economic turnarounds.  And with any luck, my little town’s festival, and all like it, will find a way to survive.  So while the bills come in, the bill collectors call, and the stress builds, there will at least be that one little thing to look forward to each year.  Everyone needs something to look forward to. 

Honor in Humility

We can never see eye to eye if we never admit to ourselves that our visions contain blind spots. 

We each can see pieces of truth.
Pieces we accumulate as we navigate our Paths, in our Sphere of Possbility. 
As we pursue the honorable pursuit of living life to its fullest.

Where things get fucked up is when we take our pieces and hammer them together to form The Picture. 
Not taking into consideration that our blind spots have missed pieces along the way.
Pieces that others may have been able to see, and picked up along their Path. 

We know that our Paths intersect and merge in various locations. 
It is at these meeting places where we can pick up additional navigational coordinates.
By simply asking to see the others’ pieces of truth.
To have the humility to recognize that a collective pursuit of progress requires partnerships. 
And that we each will have different clues for the course. 

Far too often, however…

…we ignore…

and so…we diverge from a useful unity tackling the unknown…

…and carry on to what certainly will be dead ends.

“I don’t know” is a statement of strength, not weakness.
It is an acknowledgement of needing more input.  The weakness would be ignoring other insights for further information.
We should always want to know more, about that which surrounds us.  And about where it is we are going. 

There is Honor in Humility.  For in the end, it will help us on our way. 

Tears in the Trail

untitled.bmpIt can be difficult to want to move forward, when all you see are potholes and tears in the trail ahead.  No not tears, tears, rips, chasms, breaks.  There is no crying in abject uncertainty. 

I think many have been feeling this, for the past 7 years or so.  Quite a few give voice to their fears and apprehension about the future.  But even more have swallowed it in the name of ideological loyalty or just not wanting to be labeled a heretic, or worse, a terrorist.  And no, it’s not just The War, it’s more than that.  The happy times of joy and surplus of the 90s seem so far away now.  It’s kind of like we were having this 8 year party, we drank a bit too much, and passed out.  So now, in 2008 many are finally sobering up and realizing what’s been transpiring during this 7 year hangover. 

The regret is starting to sink in.  The  “Oh My God, what the fuck did I do last night?” questions are emerging.  And it isn’t just the mortgage brokers and the over-extended home owners.  It’s pretty much, to a man, everyone.  Those who aren’t questioning are certainly delusional and should be checked into an institution.  They will be the lucky ones, along with, perhaps, the dead.

But will the future really be that bad?  It’s hard to tell for sure.  But at this current juncture, viewing the different paths before us, as a collective of humanity, there certainly doesn’t appear to be any easy road to travel.  There seemingly are choices between physical safety and financial ruin, between global strife and a flourishing currency, between cheap energy and Ocean Front property in Vermont. 

And so we are in this time of confounding confusion and uncertainty.  What steps do we take next?  Who do we appoint to lead the way?  How much do we surrender to our leaders to lead?  And perhaps the most important, what can and will we do to master our own individual destinies?  Because, in my estimation, how that last question is answered in the years to come, will be the actual determination of where we end up.