Making up things to fight, an interesting use of creative energy – if round is what you like. As we go in circles, we should at least tend the energy fires that are burning behind this particular chase.

God love the MBAs ( someone needs to), but every endeavor is not in need of being maximized for profit. Without the need to be philosophically opposed to financial gain, a re-alignment is in order, especially while we still know those words. Maybe a list of activities deserving special dispensation above net yield is in order – or maybe a reconsideration of ‘net’ and ‘yield’. Proposed exemptions:

Fire protection, water, public safety, health care.

But if we blaspheme bracket these, the human and physical infrastructure underlying them quickly follows: transportation, education, housing, food… the entire edifice of maximizing gains begins to crumble as soon as we grant agency to locking down any of its particular aspects. But we should still consider this! Again, while we can. That sounds like a scare tactic but the degree to which we have internalized the corporate ethos of business should terrify us – and does when/if we step back from it.

And again, it need not be the full socialismso, just set some standards and stick to them.

And if we need to do away with the internet because it’s not profitable, that’s fine. Things were okay before, and in terms of ‘net effect’ it’s really not helping.

Just something to consider when the light goes dim for a few minutes on Monday.


I hadn’t checked in with Adbusters in while, and when I did, saw this article on happiness, aka the modern blues:

I don’t get it. I was the first kid on my block to have a Nintendo. I got a car on my 16th birthday. I didn’t have to work a single day in college (unless you count selling homemade bongs at Phish concerts). My grandfather grew up with nothing. He had to drop out of high school during the Depression to help his family get by, earning money shining the shoes of drunks at a local saloon. Why is my generation, one of relative privilege and wealth, experiencing higher rates of depression than any previous generation?

I turned to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard for some illumination on this conundrum. It seems that in the 19th century, for the first time in history, humans began to require observable proof of happiness. According to Baudrillard, happiness became something that had to be measurable in terms of material gain, something that would be evident to the eye. But I’m surrounded by stuff and yet I’m still glum. At my age, my grandfather had fewer possessions and more happiness. So what do you make of that, Mr. Baudrillard?

Nothing shocking here, especially right here. And the I-never-had-to-work-for-anything glumness is a bit self-indulgent. But the point about Baudrillard becoming somewhat passé is a good sign, I think. As this incomplete notion regarding material happiness increasingly slips into the common experience, people moving beyond it becomes more the norm. We’re at a strange stage in this evolution, that will be much clearer to look back on than it is to experience first-hand and make sense of. But corners are being turned, and this isn’t to sound overly hopeful or optimistic – it’s just a consequence of overconsumption. Even our tendency to want/have/own/possess lurches back toward balance. Thank your animal nature for rejecting your bourgeois tendencies.


That’s how it’s pronounced, anyway, this incredible documentary I watched a couple of nights ago.


Not so fantastic: Venice is sinking, faster than previously thought.

State of the Environment

The local environment, in China. You’ve heard about the smog, but just how bad is it?

  • Surface water pollution is “relatively grave,” with 16.7% of rivers failing to meet any sort of grade standard–meaning the water is completely unfit for use (including in agricultural irrigation). And 42.3% of rivers are affected by eutrophication, a process where phytoplankton deplete oxygen from the water.
  • Approximately one in five cities doesn’t meet China’s urban air quality standards, which are lower than those recommended by the World Health Organization. Acid rain was observed in over 50% of the country’s cities.
  • 22% of the country’s 2,588 nature reserves are damaged in some way, mainly because as “economic development and industrialisation have gained momentum, unreasonable activities have weakened the function and value of those reserves.” In other words, the country is just too crowded.
  • Heavy metal pollution is a growing (but still small) problem, with 14 reported cases last year and seven this year.

Something to remember in between all the talk about China being our biggest competitor. Point being: competitor for what?

Another thing, all this is from a report released by the Chinese government. It’s not like they’re being coy about it. Maybe we shouldn’t be, either.


The USGS is a great source for old pictures of a changing world, like this one from Death Valley National Park, California. Fluted badlands in the area of Zabriskie Point. Panamint Mountains in the background. April 1974.

Photo by Harold E. Malde, United States Geological Survey