Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Making Other Arrangements


Excerpts therefrom:

There may be other ways of moving things above the ground, for instance balloons, blimps, or zeppelin-type airships. But they will move much more slowly and carry far less cargo and human passengers than the airplanes we've been enjoying for the past sixty years or so. The most likely scenario in the years ahead is that aviation will become an increasingly expensive, elite activity as the oil age dribbles to a close, and then it will not exist at all.

We have to do better. We have to start right away making those other arrangements. We have to begin the transition to some mode of living that will allow us to carry on the project of civilization—and I would argue against the notion advanced by Daniel Quinn and others that civilization itself is our enemy and should not be continued. The agenda for facing our problems squarely can, in fact, be described with some precision. We have to make other arrangements for the basic activities of everyday life.

In general, the circumstances we face with energy and climate change will require us to live much more locally, probably profoundly and intensely so. We have to grow more of our food locally, on a smaller scale than we do now, with fewer artificial "inputs," and probably with more human and animal labor. Farming may come closer to the center of our national economic life than it has been within the memory of anyone alive now. These changes are also likely to revive a menu of social and class conflicts that we also thought we had left behind.

The automobile will be a diminishing presence in our lives and, increasingly, a luxury that will be resented by those who can no longer afford to participate in the "happy motoring" utopia. The interstate highways themselves will require more resources to maintain than we will be able to muster. For many of us, the twenty-first century will be less about incessant mobility than about staying where we are.

We have to inhabit the terrain of North America differently, meaning a return to traditional cities, towns, neighborhoods, and a productive rural landscape that is more than just strictly scenic or recreational. We will probably see a reversal of the two-hundred-year-long trend of people moving from the country and small towns to the big cities. In fact, our big cities will probably contract substantially, even while they re-densify at their centers and along their waterfronts.

It is harder to predict exactly what may happen with education and medicine, except to say that neither can continue to operate as rackets much longer, and that they, like everything else, will have to become smaller in scale and much more local. Our centralized school districts, utterly dependent on the countless daily trips of fleets of yellow buses and oppressive property taxes, have poor prospects for carrying on successfully in an energy-scarce economy. However, we will be a less affluent nation in the post-oil age, and therefore may be hard-pressed to replace them. A new, more locally based education system may arise instead out of home-schooling, as household classes aggregate into new, small, neighborhood schools. College will cease to be a mass-consumer activity, and may only be available to social elites—if it continues to exist at all. Meanwhile, we're in for a pretty stark era of triage as the vast resources of the "medical industry" contract. Even without a global energy crisis bearing down on us, the federal Medicaid and Medicare systems would not survive the future as currently funded.

As a matter of fact, you can state categorically that anything organized on a gigantic scale, whether it is a federal government or the Acme Corporation or the University of Michigan, will probably falter in the energy-scarce future. Therefore, don't pin your hopes on multinational corporations, international NGOs, or any other giant organizations or institutions.

Recent events have caused many of us to fear that we are headed toward a Big Brother kind of governmental tyranny. I think we will be lucky if the federal government can answer the phones, let alone regulate anyone's life, in the post-oil era. As power devolves to the local and regional level, the very purpose of our federal arrangements may come into question. The state governments, with their enormous bureaucracies, may not be better off. Further along in this century, the real political action will likely shift down to the local level, as reconstructed neighborly associations allow people to tackle problems locally with local solutions.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New Found Blogs

Ilind.net today mentions a blog by Oahu-based historian and UH-Manoa professor Dr. Andrew Wertheimer. "Dr. Drew" writes mainly about the histories of libraries and Japanese-Americans. Ilind also points its readers to "SusHI" or Sustainability in Hawai'i, a blog by Ken Stokes.

One key phrase for a journalist: quietly disclosed

Monday, January 08, 2007

Greed:Very Low
Envy:Very Low
Lust:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

Aristotle On Youth

Jimmy Akin quotes Aristotle's commentary on young men.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy New Year, Part One

The first movie I saw this year was Hibari no Hanadata Tantei Gassen (1958). I fell asleep about 10:15 New Year's Eve and woke up about 12:15 a.m. The TV was on NGN3, which plays Japanese movies. It was fifteen minutes into the movie, which played from 12 to 1:35 a.m. (Every New Year's our cable company has a free preview of Nippon Golden Network, which plays over three channels. During this time people can sign up for NGN at a discount, which is what we did this week) I watched about thirty minutes before falling asleep again.

Much later, from 4 to 5:35 p.m., the movie played again. I missed the first ten minutes but watched it until the end.

Also known as Detective Duel, Hibari is both a romantic comedy and mystery about two detectives competing to solve the case of a missing woman. Yukiko (played by Misora Hibari) is a sleuth up against the more experienced gumshoe Mitamura Eiji (Takakura Ken).* They tease each other but soon unite to solve the case of a missing woman, and thwart an intricate plot against her. (*In Japanese custom, surnames are placed before given names; e.g., Takakura Ken.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Kunstler's Predictions

Like Janus, Kunstler simultaneously looks back at 2006 and ahead at 2007. He concludes a lengthy but worthwhile post with this:

To sum it all up, I believe 2007 will be the year that the US finally feels the pain. More disorder will appear in the system. More cries of anguish will be heard throughout the land. More paralysis will set in. The bid for leadership may not follow the current story line -- Barack...Hillary...Edwards...McCain...blah blah blah. Jokers and wild cards could step into the frame. America will be looking for a man on a white horse and instead they'll get Newt Gingrich on an electric Humvee.