Monday, May 30, 2011

The Riderless Horse...
According to Army tradition, a ceremonial horse is led by a "cap walker." in a procession with boots set backward in the saddle's stirrups. In addition to high-ranking government officials such as the president, the cap horse honor is reserved for officers of the rank of colonel or above, and stands as a powerful military symbol that stands among the highest honors for the fallen.

Happy Memorial Day! Honor and Remember those who have served!...

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, which was first recorded to have been observed by Freedmen (freed enslaved southern blacks) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, at the Washington Race Course, to remember the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. Today, what is now known as Memorial Day, is a day of reflection and recognition of ordinary people who sometimes visit cemeteries and graves to honor their deceased relatives while also commemorating all U.S. Service Members who died while in military service. The recognition of the fallen victims was then enacted under the name Memorial Day by an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Over time, it was extended after World War I to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

Friday, May 27, 2011

This evening was the 2nd Annual Bike the Bricks race in McKinney.  Proceeds from Bike the Bricks will benefit two area charities with goals that match ours: McKinney Education Foundation and Spokes 4 Hope

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remember that Bike the Bricks is this weekend...
Its a great time!...

One of our nice homes here in the Historic District...

Get Real

     Americans gathered around the hearth of CBS's 60 Minutes must have been bemused to hear reporter Scott Pelley announce self-importantly that the US Department of Justice is investigating Lance Armstrong's bicycling team for performance-enhancing drug use. Does it really matter if any pro athlete takes drugs? Why not throw Babe Ruth out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for drinking sixteen beers the night before a World Series opener? Or Ditto Mickey Mantle for that, plus smoking two packs of Marlboros in the dugout during every game. 
     Notice that Scott Pelley did not announce that the US DOJ is investigating Goldman Sachs, or Citi, or Merrill Lynch, or Bank of America or several other so-called banks for looting the American public and influence-peddling in the halls of government. Or the SEC and the CFTC for failing to regulate the trade in frauds and swindles. The window for that sort of action is closing, and with it the reasonable hopes of citizens in the legitimacy of institutions that manage things.
      The failures in journalism are now so stupendous that there are only a few possible explanations.
1. The major media, hard pressed by declining revenues and the extremes of competition on cable TV and the Internet, are in thrall to corporate advertisers who expect cheerleading for the status quo in return.
2. Major media editors and producers - the officer corps of journalism - are not smart enough to tell the difference between what's important and what's not and can't run their newsrooms.
3. Mainstream media only reflects the cognitive dissonance that pervades the collective imagination of a culture - too much noise to think coherently.
4. We really don't want to know what's going on - it's too scary.
5.     Sometimes a generation of leaders just fails.

For those of you interested in a digest of reality, here's what's going on:

The global energy predicament really is a crisis, even though nobody is currently lining up at the gasoline pumps. It's a crisis because peak oil is for real and oil is the primary resource of advanced economies, and there are no miracle rescue remedies ("drill, drill, drill," shale oil, shale gas). Peak oil means that we can't increase supply in relation to still-growing demand, which creates disturbances in the energy markets. Peak oil also leads directly to a crisis of capital (money), because a nation (an economy) that can't get increasing energy "inputs," can't create more wealth, can't generate more loans (debt), and most importantly can't expect what we've come to think of as normal economic growth. This creates further disturbances and distortions in financial markets.

Without that sort of growth you get stagnation and then contraction. We're probably past the stagnation phase and into contraction. We tried to compensate for stagnation (and conceal it) by allowing the financial part of the economy grow from 5 percent of all activity to over 40 percent of all activity. In the process, banking changed from a boring utility aimed at directing capital into legitimate investment (highly regulated) to a swashbuckling realm of unregulated swindles having nothing to do with real capital allocation but rather aimed at the sales of worthless "innovative products" (CDOs, et cetera), the creaming off of huge transaction fees, the use of computers to game exchanges, colossal carry trades between banks and public treasuries (you borrow money at zero percent - for free! - and invest it in paper that pays, say, 2.5 percent and keep rolling it over), and let's not forget pervasive accounting fraud practiced by government and private business to the degree that money matters are now completely opaque and dishonesty can run rampant. After a while, nobody can have faith in the way things work, and that is a dangerous situation because it leads to political problems. The ultimate question is: how does a society manage contraction? 

One way to think about it is to stop using the word "growth" and substitute the term "economic activity." There are lots of useful things we can do to rearrange daily life in the USA that would put people to work, but they would tend to defy the status quo. We could recognize that peak oil means that we have to grow our food differently and make local agriculture a more up-front piece of the economy. We could rebuild the railroads so that people don't have to drive everywhere. We could rebuild our inland ports to move more bulk freight on boats. Notice these are very straightforward activities, unlike the manipulation of financial paper and markets. We're not interested in focusing on agriculture and transport reform. Business and political interests are arrayed against changing anything.  Something's got to give.

Political problems arise when many people in a society lose faith that their institutions are competent, trustworthy, and fair, and seek ways to bring them down. We're in a political crisis and we don't know it. Other parts of the world know it, and more of them are finding out every day. Yesterday was Spain's turn, as the governing party took a beating in local elections and unemployed young people moiled in the city squares. Many of them probably expected to work in corporate jobs. They may end up back on the farm or in the cork orchards. The rest of Europe has a lot to sort out, too, and after a half-century of being the world's fairly-tale theme park, the terms of daily life have suddenly changed. The tensions between the requirement to adjust to change and the resistance to change will produce all kinds of disorder within and between the different nations of Europe. It will be hard to believe as it occurs, but essentially each nation, or region, will be thrown back on whatever resources it can muster, and that will be very difficult.

The trouble in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is probably not so much over abstract ideas about "freedom" and "democracy" (we flatter ourselves to think so) as food scarcity and the pressures of exploding populations. The OCED nations might not care so much if this region didn't produce so much of the world's precious oil - but it does, of course, so we can't help but meddle in the politics there. I would not bet on continued stability of the type that has prevailed for decades, and by that I just mean the expectation that regular supplies of oil will get to the market. The USA is pissing away vast money resources to keep these supply lines open. We've made an enemy of Persia (Iran) and they want to rule the region, so we are trying to make a baloney sandwich out of them with garrisons east and west in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's not working so well. Now, Persia is making noises about establishing missile bases in Venezuela. They may overstep on that one. Pay attention. China has a deep interest in keeping the oil supply lines open, and it's possible, if the wells, pipelines, and terminals are not wrecked by whatever happens next in MENA, that China will get some oil even if we don't. They offer engineering aid; we just send guys in desert camo with night-vision goggles and guns. Japan, you can possibly forget about. I maintain that they will be going medieval, especially now that they've foresworn further nuclear power development.

If the US is politically nervous, it is not showing a whole lot at the moment, but there is so much potential for financial havoc and economic hardship that I have a hard time imagining the 2012 election will play out as many suppose - another red-blue pie-eating contest bought-and-paid-for by Wall Street. We're cruising straight into some kind of money crisis that is going to spin heads. This isn't the first time I've said we could wake up one morning and find a Pentagon general in charge of things. If US economic history is any rule, Barack Obama would just be plain un-reelectable. But would anybody really vote for such a bumbling, glad-handing Babbitt non-entity as Tim Pawlenty? The things that really could tip the USA over are boring issues like interest rates and currency values - and the rule of law in money matters. They can't compete for sex appeal with Lance Armstrong and whoever the latest incarnation of Lindsay Lohan is these days.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lake Lavon at twilight tonight...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Up near the Panhandle...

A Flea In His Ear

     Imagine the fright mask that the Sofitel Hotel maid's face turned into when a black swan in the form of an international banking poobah waddled out of the suite's bathroom with wings rampant. Black swans appear now in the unlikeliest places. I bet you a million Euros that Dominque Strauss-Kahn's lawyer will say that his client was driven mad by relentless, revolving, unresolvable thoughts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain, and that he mistook the hotel maid for Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou. Wasn't it poor Karl Marx, driven mad first by capital and then by boils, who said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce." 
     Conveniently, the bedroom farce is something at which the French excel. So much dignity, so little impulse control.  Not to go overboard with quotations right off top, but cuddly ole T.S. Eliot famously informed us that "...this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper."  I suspect the whimper was emitted by DSK in his Harlem jail cell when he discovered that the standard Sunday morning breakfast issued by the New York City Department of Corrections is a baloney sandwich. Quelle horreur! A French convict serving thirty years for tunneling into a Toulon bank gets a brioche, at least!
      The question all this raises is: can you think of any other high-up officials, say in American finance or banking, who have tried to jam their generative member someplace it was not exactly invited? I can think of a few, starting with, oh, Hank Paulson. He stuck it to a couple hundred million US taxpayers and is now scott-free in the marshes of Maryland pursuing his beloved wild birds with the Swarovski EL 8x32 binoculars ($1,879.00, retail w/discount) and the excellent Sibley field guide. Only a week or so ago Senator Carl Levin's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations sent a bill of particulars to the US Department of Justice outlining the spectacular misdeeds of Goldman Sachs executives Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks, et. al, alleged to have performed a kind anal rape on customers who did not have that kind of "yield" in mind when they came through the door at 200 West Street. Sources tell me that Attorney General Eric Holder has been using the report as a cocktail coaster.
     One poor slob, Raj Rajaratnam of the Galleon Group hedge fund was convicted in a federal court last week for plain old insider trading, something a child of seven could understand. With a little luck, Raj will join Bernie Madoff's round-robin ping-pong caucus at the federal penitentiary in Butner, NC, and the days will seem to fly by. Apparently the scams that went down at Goldman Sachs and lots of other so-called banks were too complex for rafts of regulators and federal attorneys to figure out. But you never know. If DSK was too dim to hire a nice discreet $1500-an-hour hooker prior to his unspeakably tedious business-class flight back to Paris, then maybe Lloyd Blankfein will fly out of a broom closet in Jackson Hole this summer dressed like Norman Bates's mother and commence to paddle Ben Bernanke with a 10-inch chef's knife. One can only hope.
     You can't blame regular folks for not knowing what the heck to pay attention to these days. Most of the US public is not preoccupied with the doings of the Greek finance ministry, the IMF, foreign bond spreads, CDS ratios, and the spooky action in the commodities pits. Especially not with Big Muddy rising and all those oil refineries waiting downstream like so many cypress stumps, not to mention two nuke plants at River Bend and Waterford, Louisiana. Wouldn't that make some hot gumbo?
     While I feel for the people fleeing their homes down there, I have a feeling that this week's action will be set in the more abstruse precincts around European finance. With DSK on ice in Harlem, who will coordinate the beating out of brushfires that could burn down the European banking system? Remember, it's not about the countries. They'll still be there. The goats will still be grazing in wild thyme on the Greek hillsides no matter what happens in some Frankfurt board room. The layabouts will still be at their tables in the Lisbon café. But the Société Générale and Commerzbank AG could go up in a vapor faster than you can say Dominque Strauss-Kahn. The great rattling fear that lives within European business minds is that the whole bloody system is flat broke and any interruption to the daisy-chain of revolving obligations will reveal the awful naked truth - perhaps like seeing DSK fly out of the hotel bathroom with his florid organ aloft and a wicked gleam in his eyes. 
     Anyway you cut it, it can't be a good week for the Euro. But with all currencies spiraling towards worthlessness, and even gold and silver hemorrhaging value, what is the world of money coming to? Maybe the stuff is obsolete. If you wait three weeks, you'll be able to walk into any Wal-Mart and just pick up the stuff you want for free. Until it's all gone.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pernie Fallon alongside of of her paintings at the “Into the Unseen” show at Laura Moore’s gallery last night night. For me this show was a visual feast, with Guy’s photographs complementing Pernie’s paintings exceptionally well, each with different vision, showcasing an area of the country that many of us would never think about exploring. Its now another place, on my long list of places, to visit and photograph in the future…

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Photographs by Guy Giersch
Paintings by Pernie Fallon

Opening Night
Saturday, May 14th 7-10p

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The City of McKinney, Texas in partnership with McKinney Velo invite you to the second annual Bike the Bricks criterium... in Historic Downtown McKinney on Friday evening, May 27, 2011. Spectators will be inches from the action as bike racers rocket through the downtown McKinney square at speeds in excess of 40 MPH, powered only by their legs, and protected from the pavement only by their skill.

Some will be trying to grab a share of the $20,000 prize money, for others it’s a test of survival.

For the fans it will be a chance to enjoy a premier festival event, featuring a Beer Gardenand Live Entertainment.

Registration opens at 3:30, warm up begins at 4:15 p.m., racing kicks off at 5:00 p.m., and the main event featuring the fittest and fastest racers from Texas and beyond starts at 9:45 under the stars in Historic Downtown McKinney.

The City of McKinney, McKinney Main Street and McKinney Velo value, support, and promote the health, education and welfare of our community’s youth. Proceeds from Bike the Bricks will benefit two area charities with goals that match ours: McKinney Education Foundation and Spokes 4 Hope.
Bike the Bricks in Downtown McKinney on May 27 is an opportunity for racers and fans to make memories while helping McKinney Main Street and McKinney Velo support these worthy causes in our community. On behalf of McKinney Main Street, thank you for your support and acknowledging the importance of education and recreation activities for the youth in McKinney.

Prairie Adventure Camps @ Chestnut Square
coming soon...

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Studio in the early days...

The Song of Spring

     This is a nervous country. I'm not sure that hanging Osama Bin Laden on the White House wall like a coonskin really helps that much. Already, a familiar darkness sets back in, a loss of purpose of the kind that Lindsay Lohan must feel when she gets out of rehab. This is exactly the situation that empty rhetoric was designed for, so we got a week of talk about "bringing our nation together" when the truth is that Fox News would like to send Team Six into the oval office with guns blazing and helmet cams on "record."
     We have no idea what we're going to do as a people and absolutely no credible thought on this emanates from the upper echelons. Leadership is more than telling people what they want to hear. In the middle ranks of society, a sullen docility rules, no matter how many affronts to reality we witness. You ride this wreck until the wheels come off and think of what to do next when you're sitting in the drainage ditch by the side of the road. There's no period in US history that matches this for lassitude.
     I had a strange experience, driving north about fifty miles along Route 22 in eastern upstate New York, from Canaan to Cambridge, a very rural stretch that roughly parallels the Massachusetts and Vermont lines. Aside from a few convenience stores serving up gasoline, slim-jims, and pepsi, there was no visible economic activity in any of the towns along the way. The little town of Berlin, NY, was especially striking. A "for sale" sign stood  forlornly in the parking lot of the lumber yard, the inventory sheds plainly empty of stock. The Seagroatt wholesale flower company - where, years ago, I picked up roses as the delivery guy for a Saratoga retailer - was shut down, with rows of empty greenhouses standing vacantly in the late day spring sunshine. The little downtown on a street one hundred feet off the highway was not only empty of  businesses, but the old wooden buildings themselves had gone lopsided from a lack of regular caretaking, while the paint was all but gone. A number of old houses were still occupied - cars in the driveways - but they looked battered and worn, one bad winter from roof failure, and often with front yards strewn with plastic detritus.
     One thing you didn't see a lot of along Route 22 was farming. Columbia, Rensselaer, and Washington Counties used to be all about farming. For much of the 20th century, it was dairy farming after electric milking machines and bulk refrigeration came in, and you could run larger herds. That's done now, since the giant factory farms in the Midwest and California started up, where the business model is you jam hundreds of cows into a giant steel shed where they stand hock deep in their own wastes all day long, with their necks locked into a stanchion, and it's "economic" to truck their milk back east. Who needs pastures with grass growing in them? Who needs a happy cow? That will change, by the way, yet it is one of the many things we're not having a conversation about in this demoralized land.
I saw teenagers here and there along the way, wherever a convenience store exerted its magnetic pull of sweet and salty snacks, the boys all wearing black outfits, those dumb-looking calf-length baby pants, and death-metal T-shirts. This must be the longest period of history for a particular teen fashion - going on two decades now?  When even teenagers lack the enterprise to think up a new look (that is, to make a fresh statement about who they are), you know you're in a moribund society. I saw some young adults, too. You could tell more or less because they had young women and babies with them, and they were stopping for gas or groceries (if you call a sack full of Froot Loops, jerky, Mountain Dew, and Pringles  "groceries"). Their costume innovation du jour is the cholo hat, a super-deluxe edition of a baseball cap with special embroidered emblems and a completely flat brim -presenting a look of equal parts idiocy and homicidal danger. The day was warm enough for "wife-beater" shirts, all the better for displaying  tattoos, which are now universal among a working class that has no work and no expectation of work, ever. I tried to think of them as the descendants of men who had marched off to Cold Harbor, Virginia, and those who built the great engine that the American economy once was - but it was no go.
     Up the highway, I passed through the classic Main Street town of Hoosick Falls, just outside of which were the haunts of "Grandma" Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses), the painter of rural scenes. Try as you will to find them, there are no characters in her paintings wearing cholo hats and no indication of tattoos under the stiff frock coats and bodices. The little burg's downtown has a quirky main street that doglegs twice in an interesting way that you rarely see in this country. It contained some wonderful old buildings that radiated confidence and noble aspiration from a time that is bygone. We couldn't reproduce one correctly now to save our lives. I don't think there was any business besides a pizza joint and a consignment shop along the whole length of the main street. All was vacancy and desolation in Hometown USA. The victory of the national chain stores is now complete. I hope our citizens are happy with the result. 
     The time will come when that disposition of things will change of course. If that time is at hand, few are aware of it. Perhaps they get an inkling in the moment when they realize that they have no money to spend in the chain store, even if the could buy enough gas to get there. The chain store executives must sense something themselves in those dark moments after closing when they have to send the day's report to Bentonville, Arkansas, over the Internet.
     These are the spring sights one encounters in the background of a time in history when a society slides toward change nobody wants to believe in. Not believing is easy, especially when you don't pay attention. Meanwhile, somewhere off in a European bank, an executive reads a computer screen and gags on his lunch. In Shanghai, a Chinese government banking official wonders what it means when he lends money to an army general to buy an enterprise owned by the government. Down in the heart of Dixieland, Memphis drowns and New Orleans once more looks anxiously to the levees. Who was Osama Bin Laden, anyway?

Photographs by Guy Giersch
Paintings by Pernie Fallon

Opening Night
Saturday, May 14th 7-10p 

Out in the middle of New Mexico's Valley of Shining Stone near Abiquiu, painter Pernie Fallon and photographer Guy Giersch came across a makeshift wood door propped up on a barbed-wire fence. Spray painted on the door was a joke, and on second thought, a dare, a challenge of sorts. It said simply "Door Into the Unseen." As if the area's supernatural scenery was not enough, the curious message on the door inspired the couple's latest body of work.

The door opened the artists' eyes, merging visions of land with perceptive interpretation. Inspired by the beauty of a terrain more suitable for aliens than cowboys, Giersch and Fallon responded with camera and pastel, venturing beyond what existed in the landscape and creating impressions full of mood and intensity.

"Into the Unseen" is an exhibition of visual poetry - a way to explain what is seen, not only on the surface, but beyond the obvious landscape - a look into the unseen.  Step "Into the Unseen" and meet the artists on opening night.
On display through June 8, 2011.   

Laura Moore Fine Art Studios
107 S Tennessee
McKinney, Texas  75069
Gallery Hours:  Mon-Sat 1-5p, 2nd Saturday 1-10p
or by appointment.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Early morning in Caprock Canyon...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Along Hwy 82 eastbound...

Got in a little studio time last night...trying to learn the beauty dish...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Lying Is the New Normal

    Mark these words: within about three hours, the "Birther" faction around America will be asking for Osama Bin Laden's driver's license. What I'd like to know is how come he was "buried at sea," when the operation took place at least a thousand miles from the sea. Did the US Navy Seals transfer his remains from a helicopter to a boat? Or to an airplane? And did they just drop him over the night-darkened Indian Ocean like a sack of lentils? By the time you read this, the whole world will be clamoring for photos of the deceased. Maybe our guys will produce some. Quien Sabe?
     I didn't intend to write about Bin Laden this morning, but rather the nutrient medium of untruth that has come to surround all the tissue of everyday life in the USA. Until the Bin Laden operation went down Sunday, the big news of the week was the release of President Obama's "long-form" birth certificate. A substantial number of Republicans still claim to believe that Obama is not a real American citizen. You may be sure they will persist, no matter what. Goebbels, too, knew the power of sheer repetition. One of the Birther leaders, Orly Taitz, immediately made the claim that the term "African" describing Obama's father's nationality on the document must be a latter-day PC dodge because back then the term-du-jour was "Negro."
     When historians gather around their campfires a half century from now, they will marvel at our idiocy. Among the vital matters we failed to reckon was the diminishing returns of technology as applied to news and information. The slicker our electronic media got, the less sense the public could make of the information stream that they drowned in. How many iPhones and Blackberries are jangling this morning, I wonder, with "news" that Bin Laden was buried at sea because he is Obama's real father? To the Birthers, I'm sure Bin Laden qualified as some sort of "Negro." The story will be on Fox News by suppertime in Atlanta, just watch.
     You had to love the way Donald Trump pretended to be the hero of  the Obama birth certificate story. Has anyone asked for a birth certificate for the creature that is living on Donald Trump's head. I suspect it is a wolverine. Did it come from Michigan or Wisconsin, or possibly Canada? Is it a protected or endangered species? And was it obtained by legal means? (Perhaps he found it in a taxidermy shop.) Is there some way the Navy Seals can drop Donald Trump over the Bermuda Triangle. It would make me proud to be American again.
     Against the background of what comes to look like a thirty-three ring circus in America's affairs is the remarkable stream of lying that emanates even from places previously thought to be mentally normal. I listen to the radio when I linger around the kitchen at suppertime and on Friday evening a NASA official came over the airwaves extolling all the future space exploits of the agency. Mining asteroids for high grade metals! Journeys to Mars and beyond! I thought: is this jaboney out of his skull? We'll be lucky if anyone can drive a powered vehicle from Hackensack to Paramus in ten years. An aerospace scientist ought to know that. If these guys are clueless about the future of travel, imagine how deranged a Tea Party official from Chugwater, Wyoming, must be.
     NPR's Market Place show, about economic and financial matters, is every bit as dishonest as CNBC or Fox. Every night, Market Place issues cheers for a stock market that is rising strictly on the basis of a concerted, wide-open stock pumping scheme operated by the Federal Reserve in partnership with five Wall Street banks and the US Treasury Department. (Why? To maintain an illusion that the economy is in wonderful condition.) As far as I know, not a single on-air economics reporter understands that we are in a contraction phase of history, not a growth phase. Nor that "growth," as commonly defined, is impossible given the primary energy resource constrictions now underway. Something has gone terribly wrong in an education system that produces journalists this badly-informed.
     Has the USA been hijacked by corporations, as some observers allege? Yes, I begin to believe in a stealth takeover - though I still imagine Mr. Obama is something less than a pure stooge and more of a hostage. But the odor of desperation all through our culture and economy is becoming a necrotic stench as we enter the warm seasons and the roadkill turns. Something tragic is going down in this land of ours and powerful people want to pretend powerfully that everything is okay. The public is not off the hook, either. They desperately wish to be gulled, snookered, distracted, played.
     We do not talk, for instance, about the pressing need to discipline the corporations, and the place to start is by re-defining the practical "personhood" of corporations. It was lately expanded by the US Supreme Court to mean that corporations have the right to apply as much money as they like to the election process under the first amendment right to free speech. Interesting proposition they slipped in there: that money is the equivalent of speech. (Well, money does talk.) Of course, it is well-understood that the corporations owe their allegiance not to the country they operate in (you can't say pay taxes in, of course, because many don't), but strictly to their boards of directors representing the shareholders. In other words, corporation have no duties, obligations, or responsibilities to society, unlike human citizens. They are, by nature, sociopathic operations. Therefore, the remedy is a constitutional amendment re-defining corporate personhood as something less than, and apart from, citizenship. Who is the elected official out there who might take up this proposal?
     Notice, by the way, the interesting and important news put out by the government on Friday (the time most favorable for "burying" news due to the TGIF syndrome), that the US Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency (EIA) has de-funded the office that collects data on oil production outside the USA - that is, in places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, et. al., in short, the places where the USA gets more than two-thirds of the oil we use every single day. And the reason for this would be? (choose one): 1.) We don't want to know; 2.) We don't give a shit; 3.) There's four Saudi Arabia's worth of oil under Zap, North Dakota; 4.) We've "innovated" a new technique for making oil out of lawn clippings.
     De-funding the EIA is about the closest thing I've heard so far to the US cutting off its nose to spite its face. Meanwhile, every evening during the news hours, US coal companies are running completely dishonest advertisements - skillfully created like Valentines to the American people - to put over the totally false idea that burning coal can be done cleanly. The truth is that we have no idea yet how to successfully sequester carbon dioxide. Likewise, the gas companies are running warm and cuddly ads to reassure the public that we have a hundred years of methane gas to rely on. Both the coal and gas companies are wholesale liars playing a credulous public like a ten-cent kazoo for the sole purpose of pimping their share prices among the desperate retirees who make up the bulk of the TV news show watchers.
     This morning, Bloomberg is putting out a story that the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped - from $113 to 112 - because Bin Laden was tossed into the sea. How long will that state of affairs last, I wonder. Through eleven o'clock in the morning, Eastern time? Lying is the new normal. Ignorance is one thing, lying to ourselves all the time, about absolutely everything, is something else. The least you can say about it is that it does not help us prepare for the very different everyday reality that we are moving into: a world made by hand.