I hasten to add that when I use the word "collapse," I am paying un hommage to Joseph Tainter, who, when I think about it, must have been studying at Berkeley at about the same time I was. He went on to write The Collapse of Complex Societies; I went on to write this blog. Oh well.
January 22, 2011
January 20, 2011
I think if Thoreau were suddenly to appear on the scene today, it would take him a while to get his bearings, certainly, but he would get a handle on globalization eventually and would recognize it for what it is: another unsustainable instance of mankind becoming the tool of its tools. He warned against that over and over in Walden. As with so many of the developments in modern civilization, human society has adapted its living arrangements to what is technologically possible. Thus, in the "gee whiz" writing of essentially shallow and unscientific thinkers like Tom Friedman, the circumstance that a technology like fiber optic cables can be used to hook up faraway call centers so that formerly poor peasants in Bangalore can answer your questions about your Dell Computer is something that has to be done because it's possible to do it. First the technological breakthrough, then the adaptation of society.
January 19, 2011
January 17, 2011
I thought he was a great man, one of the most inspiring and courageous in American history. I can't watch his "I Have A Dream" speech without choking up, and I don't know any people of goodwill who can.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation...We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Posted by Waldenswimmer at 4:41:00 PM
January 16, 2011
Paul Krugman, Ace Economist of the New York Times, uses the FRED site for just a whole lotta his research into the vast detail of the American economy. It's maintained by the St. Louis office of the Federal Reserve Bank, and graphs such as those above (click on the graphs and they'll open in a separate window so you can see the whole thing) are available in pretty profusion. They're not too politicized, either, as far as I can tell, although a little of the Administration's propaganda bleeds over into its reporting. For one example, notice that little upward tick at the end of the graph of receipts (taxes, mainly) up above. The Treasury is sticking to that forecast of $2.4 trillion for Fiscal 2011, and I wish them well. Currently, through three months or 1/4th of the year, the total take is about $500 billion, so I'm not sure how that extrapolates to $2.4 trillion, but hey...We Are The Change We've Been Waiting For.