Almost as If

Dr. K brings the medium, sensible heat today regarding Russian failures in Ukraine. It’s a good explainer without the jingoism, importantly including the economic offensives alongside the military ones that have been less than dispositive, or perhaps more so depending on your rooting interest.

But the kudos to Europe for not only resisting energy blackmail but in so doing, also for revealing that the planning and execution of the energy transition are well under way:

So what can we learn from the failure of Russia’s energy offensive?

First, Russia looks more than ever like a Potemkin superpower, with little behind its impressive facade. Its much vaunted military is far less effective than advertised; now its role as an energy supplier is proving much harder to weaponize than many imagined.

Second, democracies are showing, as they have many times in the past, that they are much tougher, much harder to intimidate, than they look.

Finally, modern economies are far more flexible, far more able to cope with change, than some vested interests would have us believe.

For as long as I can remember, fossil-fuel lobbyists and their political supporters have insisted that any attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be disastrous for jobs and economic growth. But what we’re seeing now is Europe making an energy transition under the worst possible circumstances — sudden, unexpected and drastic — and handling it pretty well. This suggests that a gradual, planned green energy transition would be far easier than pessimists imagine.

Read or listen to (not recommended!) the business news any day of the week and everything any normal person would consider good news – strong jobs report, tight labor market, increased consumer protections, penalizing reckless banking and investment behavior – is all cast in terms of doom and gloom. The sky is always falling and we can’t do this or have that and so stop wanting it and vote for more oppression of the powerless. Kick down, pull up the ladders, that’s all we can do.

What if – and yes, caution, slight optimism ahead – all of that is itself just a form of corruption? The fossil fuel industry, just as an obvious example, has been assuring us since the 1970s that it just can’t be done, there is no way to replace coal as our primary energy source, so stop trying. Wind stops blowing. Solar? Have you heard of nighttime? It’s too expensive, too impractical, is itself bad for the environment. Birds! Plus, people hate to see windmills. They don’t want electric cars. Meanwhile what has happened? What is happening?

What if we decided to get even more bold, rather than cowering in fear about what we’re afraid to do, that we are reminded we can’t do? What other issues out there might not be so inviolate?


Ringing the Ball with the Basket

This is kind of funny, in that name-a-venture-with-a-word-for-something-that-needs-a new-name kind of way:

At, you will find thought-provoking progressive ideas on diverse topics that intersect with technology, business, and life, and matter to the world at large. Whether you are making technology decisions for your business, or eco-conscious decisions for your home, will give you the 360° coverage you need to feel informed and connected to the news and information that matters to you.

via. So maybe we’re past green, or at least that’s what CBS interactive intends. A bit amazing they use the word ‘progressive,’ but at this point it’s pretty bankable that no one remembers Eugene Debs. Which is too bad. But whatever we call it, the self-preservation impulse remains and we’re marooned among our choices. Watching whatever passes for Madison Avenue these days try to get past that (Think: the 2009 IBM campaigns) could be amusing, but for the fact that the joke’s likely on us – as that kind of innovation is what passes for innovation at present. Well, that and Avatar.

Kinda reminds me of a book I once found at a third-hand store. It had been re-covered by a library somewhere at some point, like they do with trade paperbacks, and on the binding instead of the title was just the word TITLE.

Yes, it’s sitting in my house, on board un-labeled SHELF.

Damn you, Gabriel Garcia.

Sliced and Diced by the Cutting Edge

What else would it be for?

Now that scientists have disproved the theory that fingerprints serve to improve the grip between people’s hands and the surface they are holding, they are wondering just what fingerprints are for. Really. We get all CSI about everything just as we realize several of our grand strategies are failing at once, and of course the goal of evading responsibility becomes key. This sort of all just happened to us – the auto-realized logic of self-justifying greed – and now we’re mostly wet-behind-the-ears again/still. And we don’t know what fingerprints are for.

There a section in One Hundred Years of Solitude when an insomnia plague causes the people of Macondo to lose their memories and forget even the names of commonplace objects, such that they have to label even chairs and clocks. They even hang a sign on a cow:

This is the cow. She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk, and the milk must be boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk.

Kunstler writes that we’re just too stupid to survive, and he’s right that we tend to get hypnotized by the (:our) glimmering reflection in the cutting edge, never imagining that it has perhaps been sharpened to come down someplace/anyplace that could well be our own tender nape. We’ve grown tepid even about the possibility that technology will save us. But as that enthusiasm wanes, what do we fall back on? God? guns?

All of this is about a re-visualized self-realization, to sound perfectly po-po-mo about it. Inner freedom, as some have distinguished it – but to discover this requires a great amount of self-knowledge, which itself is predicated on getting to know as much as about what we’ve done to ourselves and our world as possible. And all of this in the very short time that is the average lifespan. Not after work – it is your work. And your only pay is the world you help create and make free. It’s only called a civilization as long as it flies along a soaring arc, right? It’s not as though comets struck our grade schools or made our universities into banal, value-added credential mills and started us down this road.

Maybe we should label our fingerprints.