Saturday, December 15, 2012

Objectivity vs. Permaculture.

Over the last few years I've found a great deal of hope and solace in studying permaculture and have made quite the progress in building my own ecosystem here in the previously degraded forest. Things look great, and the promises of the joyful danger of "falling food" are in fact real. There is, however, a problem with whole strategy-- "permanent" agriculture has only limited means of remaining viable within a "transient" climate-- sure -- but a couple of years ago to the best of my knowledge I thought I'd be dealing with perhaps 3 degrees centigrade of warming over my lifetime-- dire for certain, but I felt with proper strategic preparations manageable. The problem is that according to the current research, to expect only 3 degrees of warming, say by 2050, is wholly unrealistically optimistic-- we've now lit off several feedback effects that promise to propel us to 16 degrees of warming -- a completely unsurvivable world by any normal means. And this will be fast, too. If this data and these projections prove reliable-- which we should know by seeing continuing heat records set-- more Sandy's and Bophas, immediately-- well, that's tits up folks, and we're headed for a terminal planet by mid century. And a really tough one before that.

Sorry, but no amount of hippy self reliance is going to protect you from this.

Unfortunately for the permaculture vision-- it began to be hipster only about 50 years too late. If we had adopted intelligent strategies a generation back-- when it was first discovered it was important to do so, well, we'd have a chance. Today, not so. No amount of composting will make up the difference. No amount organic this or that. See, we've got much bigger fish to fry-- as CO2 levels continue spinning up and up there comes a point not that far off where the ocean becomes so acidic that all of the phytoplankton dies-- and with it goes 60 percent or so of all the oxygen generated-- it's tough to mulch your way out of that one. Unfortunately as it's shaping up, the whole neo-"back to the land" movement is a complete blind alley-- to have a chance at survival you're not going to need nifty eco-shacks built of bamboo and lots of wheatgrass but rather a titanium bombshelter that can provide you with enough oxygen to breathe, keep you cool enough to not broil, and therein you'll be able to enjoy the various ways you can prepare GMO algae sludge for breakfast. It could probably be done, and there are those with lots of money who are trying. The budget versions of the "survival shell" may be a little grimmer than what the Walton family is working on-- but some of you with the technical skill to try may pull some extra years out. I've been mulling over such strategies for the last couple of weeks but in fact I have a hard time answering the whole "is it worth it?" question.

Sorry, this is pretty grim. I've mixed feelings about even discussing the issue anymore. Here's why I've raised the issue today.

I guess people have a right to know, in the same sense that your doctor has an obligation to tell you that the big blob on your x-ray probably can't and/or shouldn't be operated on. You can get second opinions, of course, and there's always going to be a doctor who is more than willing to take your money to give 'er a go.Or sell you some homeopathic cure. . .or a even a new Prius. What to do in circumstances such as this are among the most difficult-- or easiest -- decisions to make. A lot of it depends on perspective. For many people they'll find this sort of stuff impossibly depressing as the party is over-- and will continue to operate in their default mode of denial. For some of us, however, who have been aware and striving for years at great personal expense for a better world-- well, some of us will feel a bit of relief, in fact, as we're pretty well absolved of our responsibilities now-- really. I guess for us it means the party is just getting started.

What am I going to do? Heck, I don't know. Take up cigarette smoking? Well, considering there can only be a very few years left of relative normalcy I figure I'm going to spend a lot less time mucking around with chicken shit and more time dinking around with big guitar amplifiers. Go MESA. If I were able to get a few bucks ahead and received proper encouragement I might be tempted to weld up some bizarro complex underground bunker just for the hell of it-- the living accommodations would be a great deal like boat living frankly and few have the experience of confined space to make it work. Going outside for a stroll won't be too practical most of the time, so a lot of thought will need to be put into making things comfy and sane there in a dark tube in the dirt. Maybe I'll write a book about it called "bummersteading" or some such. . .In reality I'd encourage people not to do too much-- much drawing  on the "terminal illness"' model as there isn't much one can do-- hang in there, keep as cheerful as possible. . .treasure each remaining day. That won't come easy, and we're not accustomed to doing that-- precisely why we're in this mess-- but as far as I can see, that's all we've got left.

On other notes: see you there!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Years ago  I briefly sailed with a guy on a tall ship-- this fellow follower of Osho-- deadbeat dad with 7 kids which he'd never contributed a dime towards, a completely alienated guy whose divinely enlightened utterly irresponsible selfish behavior had alienated him from nearly everyone he knew. . .and the crew nearly immediately. And boy, he hated being "judged"-- whatever that means, by those behind and below him on his spiritual path. . .I mean if this guy was any more "in touch" with himself he'd be arrested for public indecency.  And boy howdy we didn't get it, as he was convinced he was the Bodhisattva himself where we all thought he was just a garden variety prick-- anyway I was roped into philosophical discussions with him on occasion and the subject of "objectivity vs. subjectivity" came up often. He'd spout a bunch of pithy baloney and when he finally figured out I'd basically heard his party line before and wasn't much interested-- he'd bless me(nice!) and inform me that I had a good soul and somewhere along my journey I'd develop the ability to see the world with "more balance."

And indeed I have, as I wouldn't give him the time of day anymore.

Subjectivity: Balance? Surely we don't have our eyes set so close together in our foreheads not to realize that the nature of human existence is utterly, oppressively, relentlessly subjective? And that in fact our weak attempts to wrestle free of the prison of our own narrow perceptual set-- by a process we call objective thinking-- is in fact the attempt to restore balance? Hey, don't get me wrong-- there's nothing inherently "bad" about subjective experience-- it's just that it's personal, exclusive, and as such divisive-- and without a counterbalancing agent tends to destruction and violence. Currently, in our culture, which, go figure, is a pretty dang destructive and violent one, we disproportionally claim to value subjective experience. Which, ironically, in spite of all the silly books about "living in the now" or whatever-- as if there's an option about that-- we really go completely out of our way to avoid doing. See, most of us really hate subjective experience all the time-- stuff like going to work, worrying about insurance costs, grumpy people, all the rest-- and rather than the balanced strategy of "objectively" attempting to better our "subjective" experience we try to bury one subjective state with another-- but a cool, funky, often intoxicated one. And it works for a bit, subjectively. And that's fine, but not balance, and there's hardly any path to enlightenment in it, and once one figures out that the Ashram is the analog of a hospital. . .well, better to chop wood and carry water.

The purpose of living is really very simple: it's to live a life of purpose. The way to do that is to find something that one finds valuable and objectively measurably enriching and do the hell out of if. Don't be surprised if that thing you find you need to do is pretty uncomfortable. That's probably necessary to make it meaningful. . .Hey, I basically hate sailing, you know. . . it's more important that you find it meaningful. A lot of people aren't up for taking on such a task. We're pretty soft after all-- bummer, as it's the only game in town. Don't miss out: don't be misled by the hucksters selling you an easy way out-- You see, all those folks out there telling you they know what the meaning of life is are really cowards running from what life really means.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big Mitt the Taker

So on the topic of taking. . .

Where "BIG MITT" really pisses me off is the smug, self-righteous way he takes credit. . .

For being born on third base being proud he can hit a single.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Objectivity vs. Mitt Romney

Now, first off, let's be clear: Obama was Goldman-Sachs' pick for president last time-- he's proven to be a fraud, now the big banks are running against his record supporting an even more vile candidate, and it's looking more and more like Romney will win. Watching the debates it's pretty clear why. Both men are running on platforms mostly comprised of fantasy and mythology, and the voters are choosing on the basis of which dream they'd rather dream rather than any basis of choice rooted in objective reality. Of the two delusional visions to choose from I find Romney's much more vile-- and it's worthy to point out some of the reasons his delusions are much more dangerous, at least in the near term.

First-- Romney's claim to fame, his resume, if you will-- is all based on the notion that he's some kind of businessman. He's got the talent for "making money" -- that's American, that's business oriented, that's practical. The fact is, however, he's no talent for making money at all. Now, sure as shit he's got a prime set of sticky fingers and he's pretty fine at taking it. . .but as far as I can see he's never, ever, created any real value on his own. This is an important distinction, and I'm surprised that more "pro-business" folk can't figure that out-- in fact Romney is very anti-business-- at least of the "creating value" kind, which, of course, is the only kind we of average non-richer-that-god sorts have available to us. Leveraged buyouts, offshore accounts, special access to legislators--ability to buy off regulators--key to Mitt's wealth. . .this is exactly the kind of behavior that has crushed small business: it's destroyed the economy, it's destroyed access to credit, it's increased costs of doing business(and promoted regulatory burdens--stuff the Mitts can ignore, but the little guy can't)-- and most dangerously and importantly, it's destroyed to competitive marketplace. You can't compete with Mitt. He's a taker, and he'll pay a buddy to write a law so he can buy you out, saddle you with debt, steal the companies value, bankrupt you, and personally claim the loss against his profits.

Let's be clear-- if you're a creator of value-- you're screwed in this economy-- and while the Mitts run the show(think big grabby hands when you think Mitt, it's a useful image) forget getting ahead. You could do something unbelievable amazing, like create a pill that magical cured cancer, aging, and loss of libido in one shot-- and you still couldn't make the kind of money Mitt's got. Why? 'Cause you're not going to get to go to school to learn the skills unless you pay off Mitt. You'll need to do your research at Mitt's company. Mitt will own the rights to your research anyway--as you're working for him, of course. Even if you could figure a way around that he'll just steal the research from you-- you can't afford to sue against him-- out of luck once again. Even if you got a Lesser Mitt to back you you'll still lose, as you'll pay more taxes, be forced to deal with more oversight, and eventually the Big Mitt will run you underground. No offense, nothin' personal, just business, right? Hardly. . .Mitt's business plan is no more brilliant than that of the average carjacker-- and that's written large in his life and his campaign-- from avoiding military service, to tax evasion and offshore accounts, to his double dipping business practices, his scammy relationship with politics all the way along, his sleazy peer-group--to now how he's run his campaign-- bullshit, deception, and expediency all the way through.

So, with that skillset, how you figure he'll handle the reins of the US economy?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

By the way. . .

So a friend the other day called:

"Hey Jay, enjoy your recent posts, but don't you think you're really being a bit hard and extreme in your judgements about personal culpability? I mean, you're making some pretty heavy comparisons there. . ."

Well, I don't know. Let's look at it:

Frankly, it really doesn't matter a great deal what my judgements are. No one really cares and my opinions don't matter very much-- unless -- unless -- they're in some sense prescient of the attitudes of future generations. Then they may matter a great deal. I think, in fact, they are. Personally, I expect-- looking at the mess we're handing the future that my attitudes are actually pretty moderate and I try to keep a responsible level of objectivity with them. In fact, I'd suggest that forty or so years from now a guy like me struggling to survive in a poisoned, dying, brutal world will have a lot harder time having any sense of justice or moderation in his judgements at all. . .and frankly I anticipate--fear even--simple blind vengeful rage. Those people are going to wonder how the hell, how the hell, we made the choices we did. They're going to wonder where our courage was, and how we allowed events to unfold as they are. Those of us left are mostly going to try to plead ignorance('cept me, nah, it was obvious) but that's going to be a pretty weak defense especially falling on ears listening for a damn good explanation. And it will have to be a good one indeed, as the expectation from the historic evidence will be clear-- we were just too busy feeling smug about ourselves, stuffing our faces, indulging in wishes, and not giving a shit. So yeah, I think there's a very good reason to think about how our actions right now might be judged by future folk. . .

And no, and in that context, I don't think my positions are that radical at all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pants on fire. . .

So, tell me.

When is the last time in a presidential election where the "biggest liar" lost?

Just askin'

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tao of the Ninja Mennonite: VI-- continued.

So, yeah, authenticity. . .

It never ceases to amaze me, looking back, at how much impact my sailing books have had. Hey, they're really shitty books. I didn't really expect anyone to read them. They're self-published, of course, as no nautical publisher would consider having them-- as there's absolutely no commercial appeal-- I wrote them largely for my own benefit as a means of gathering my own thoughts-- and in general they were waaaaay ahead of their time. I promise you, writing about the virtues of engine-less sailing in a world of .80 gasoline in the middle of the boom was lunatic fringe material. "Sailing with Purpose" was written by a 27 year old kid trying to figure out how to live a life of authenticity, full aware that the choice to take on such a project would cost dearly-- and of course it did. I've no regrets, and no apologies for the fact that, well, that's a book written by a kid, in a kinda flip style--albeit a very earnest one-- desperately trying to figure that game out. The others followed in their footsteps in a pretty dang unvarnished, minimally edited representation of my thoughts over that decade and some of sailing. This blog is pretty similar, in fact, as I've come to believe it's vastly more valuable to be real, even if that exposes one's defects-- than slick. It's vastly more persuasive as it's authentic-- or as follows alienating. Which is fine. There are people out there who chose values(or more accurately rejected them) that make them my enemies and they just didn't know it until they read my stuff. May as well make that all clear. In fact now, rather than "sailing"  I feel exactly the same way about my experiments in "sustainability" -- or more precisely our failure as a culture to achieve such in a necessarily timely manner-- I unapologetically intend to bear witness to our utter failure and absolute personal culpability for the destruction of planet earth. . .This also is waaaay ahead of its time-- people are still pretending it hasn't happened-- or are busy capitalizing on selling bogus solutions:  I intend to provide the generations of future with a very precious gift-- perspective. They, those kids of ours, are going to be forced by scarcity to make the most horrible of decisions and I fully intend to declare that they've every right to lay the blame where they need to, squarely on us-- squarely on me. I understand that this "bearing witness" will provide them very little comfort-- only justification for what actions they'll be forced to take. It's the best I can do. It's not enough for our crimes, of course. But it's something, I guess.

Ok, so objectivity-- or the complete lack of it-- and why it was so easy for us to murder our own children.

Just after graduating from college in the early 90's I had the lovely experience of working for the Juvenile Justice system in Boise-- and boy was that informative. I grew up in a reasonably sane, reasonably caring home and I really had no experience of the hell that so many kids start their lives in. I had no idea as to the pervasiveness of child abuse, sexual, physical, or mental-- or the full meal deal often-- but I learned a lot about it pretty quick. There's a lot that can be said about it, but for the purposes of this discussion I'll narrow it down to one hard, shocking, keen observation...

Child abusers "love" their kids.

No shit. They really do. At least from their "subjective" experience they do. They "feel" they do. They "feel" good about it. They very often feel that their abuse is even morally justified, and their abusive behavior in the best interest of the child. The obvious real objective evidence of a busted up kid bears not at all on their "perspective." Why should it? As a culture we value our subjective states of being ahead of our objective experience-- pedophilia and child abuse are just another manifestation of that indulgence. If you feel that that you're behaving in a moral fashion, well that's good enough, right? No reason to investigate the actual real practical ramifications of one's actions-- certainly no reason to hypothesize about the unknowable unintended consequences either. And what you see is what you get-- not just a culture full of child abuse but spousal abuse, abuse in our workplaces, environmental abuse-- exploitation, domination, tyranny in every kind of human relationships, violence everywhere-- notably excepting the kind where you get punched back-- well, of course getting punched back subjectively sucks...

And ultimately you get a dead planet...

You get a miserable one long before that...

Why should we be surprised? Demanding others accept the validity of our subjective experience above the knowable, observable practical reality is violence-- and why there is not, cannot be, and never will be such a thing as a peaceful religion...

Clearly, if we can demand ourselves to be "objective" for a moment, the act of choosing for our own momentary "subjective experience" ahead of the objective, real, measurable greater good always tends to a future of conflict. In a world with more space, and more abundance, the immediate nature of that conflict can seem subjectively remote-- but the trend is relentlessly reinforced. As time progresses, it becomes more difficult, costly, and even fatal for those who value humanity to choose against the societal "suicide pact" as time progresses, many who try fail, and the trend is yet again reinforced. Eventually it's only the most heroic that can stand against such values-- and they are beset even by those who would publicly claim to share their core values-- subjectively, of course, rather than objectively--

This is why it is so critical today to declare-- an action is good if and only if it is in fact good... and this good is always a measurable quantity. 

to be contined as well, as I've wrenches to spin. . .

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tao of the Ninja Mennonite: VI

Obliquely following on the last post-- it's difficult to be currently aware of the unprecedented loss of arctic ice this summer it engendering a certain sense of impending dread. It's difficult locally to be much optimistic about this islands future if one has been paying much attention to the "geothermal" issue and taking note to the blatant lack of integrity shown by both the "for" and "against" camps. There's a lot of stuff in flames around the world this morning and it's obvious that my personal angst is shared by a lot of people.

Yet I can hear it: But hey, don't be so negative, Jay! The new Iphone is available today, that will save us all! Or some such new and shining thing or approach-- maybe not Iphones but new generations of solar panels, or new political moments like Occupy Wallstreet, or new approaches to taxation carbon credits, or any of the rest of it. But none of this "new" stuff really heartens me much, especially some of the touted "new paradigm" airy fairy stuff some spout-- as I know without a doubt the core issues facing humanity and the planet are not "epistemological" in nature-- neither are they ecological, or political, or technological. They are in fact moral issues first and foremost: issues of basic human integrity, honesty, and objectivity. Shallow minds like to shrug off our current woes as some inevitable result of human nature. This a broadly held but remarkably ignorant world view, as it's all but self-evident that if within the human mind there didn't exist the basic capacity for honesty, objectivity, and cooperative benevolence--  humanity would have never survived our pre-historical existence and our species would have been stuffed out as yet another failed evolutionary experiment a million years ago. Bullshit-- it's our obvious and unique innate capacity honest objectivity that makes us human-- this is the core of human nature itself -- not intelligence, nor language, nor thumbs: all of these we share with plenty of our earthly co-inhabitants. No, it's the ability to look at the world objectively(at least as objectively as the physical constraints of the universe allow it to be possible) to grasp the systemic import of that objective knowledge, to manipulate it conceptually, and to act in a manner that has the ability to enhance the global systemic viability-- this makes us human. From that realization of the evolutionary role of the human species--and why it might make sense for such ecological capital to be invested in one species-- it can be seen as core to "human nature" the ability to enhance, consciously, systems that otherwise would be constrained to much slower and perhaps less viable processes. Of course this terminology I use, "larger systemic viability" is me speaking the perspective of a modern, educated, atheist-- observing the emergent phenomenon of evolutionary processes and biological determinants-- paying a certain respect to the appearance of a teleological nature of the whole. Others from other times might be comfortable with simpler concepts of "God's Will" or even the Tao-- but we would hope that as we go along our innate objective "human nature" would guide us to worldviews with ever higher levels--or depths-- of objective understanding. While it may be colloquially cute to speak in these more primitive terms, and while without a doubt there's knowledge to be inherited from such world views-- for a modern mind to hold such concepts as equally as valid as the informed modern secular view, is, well, nothing short of retarded. To deliberately do so in the face of evidence to the contrary is at its core-- inhumane.

And is core to the root of our current moral crisis.

Why? Because if we can accept for the moment my assertion of the innate nature of humanity's capacity for rational objectivity-- it certainly is reasonable to suggest that as with all of our other innate capacities-- the ability for language, or mathematics, or even perhaps music-- our objective nature if not appropriately stimulated, or if deliberately stifled-- may not develop. And this is critical, as objectivity is central to moral behavior. In fact, it's very reasonable to argue that the first and foremost, and most humane moral task of any evolved human being is the utter commitment to be honestly, authentically objective. For without this, whence comes the criteria for any subsequent moral judgement? Moral judgments obviously cannot be made effectively constructively from incomplete or inadequate understandings of reality-- less so from fantasy or delusional word views-- rarely if ever from reality based on the wishing of things being a certain, often purely preferential, way.

To be continued... in the meanwhile

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tao of the Ninja Mennonite: V

Well, it's time someone point out the fact that Mitt Romney is the Antichrist, after all. I mean he really is.

The conversation kinda came up over on the forum(yup, that's the right link, you'll need to roll through it) where the various virtues or lack of our current system, culture, all that were discussed a bit. And the fact that Mitt Romney is the Antichrist has only a bit to do with his fetish for holy underwear, believing God is an alien from Kochab, that he gets not only 70 virgins upon his transmigration but a whole fucking planet to rule--calling his wife from her tomb is purely optional, however-all that horseshit. It has only a bit to do with Mormonism in general, although it's ideal as an unique American kind of religion-- a cross between the weakest feel good version of Christianity, homeopathy, and multi-level marketing. Nah, demonstrating that he's the Antichrist comes down to a very simple observation.

See, the whole Christian tradition--back in the day, was largely a reactionary one against the heavy legalistic nature of Judaism-- and rather than a whole book of rules or books of rules and castes of privileged interpreters of the rules was posited a very simple set of  principles:

1) God has a plan and a "will" to be expressed in Creation.

2) It is man's proper role to fulfill that "will." To choose against God's will is, frankly the definition of a sin.

3) The messianic message was one of demonstrating the Christ-manner of fulfilling God's will. It is, in fact a lifestyle of attempting strive for that fulfillment, which is always the greatest, most important systemic "good"--and in fact often requires personal sacrifice for that "greatest good."  And of course that stunt on the cross a pretty good example of all that, in fact.

3a) For those whose eyes are glazing over already-- hey, I said "GREATER GOOD." The "Christian" lifestyle was one of deliberately manifesting "god's will" by seeking that "greater good."  As if God's will could be anything other than the greater good, right?

3b) And hey, sometimes the "personal good" has to give a bit to serve that greater good, right? Sometimes it's nice to share.

3c) Of course--to deliberately, systemically seek the "personal good" over the greater good of "god's will" is core to the "Christian" definition of evil.

Now you sure as hell wouldn't know this looking at the modern church-- which is pretty damned evil--but from this perspective it's pretty easy to see where early Christian traditions of aiding the poor, vows of poverty, communal-ism came from. And it's also easy to see where tasty biblical zingers like "it's more difficult for a camel to crawl through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven"-- as well, it's pretty tough to amass a big pile of dough seeking the "greater systemic good"(read: utterly impossible.) Or, of course "give on to Caesar what is Caesar's and God what is God's" which, certainly, translates to "Caesar can kiss my ass." There's more; lots more. In fact the whole New Testament is loaded with that kind of stuff and in fact very sparse about telling people what to do with their weenies-- ah, but that's another topic.

So now the Antichrist stuff:  Back in my Bible School days it was often impressed on me by scholars who had some understanding of translation that the "anti" part of "Antichrist" wasn't a very fitting translation, as it suggest an almost Zoroastrian god vs. devil slapdown kind of confrontational character. Not at all, many insisted-- and it would be much more accurately translated as "instead-of" rather than "anti." And indeed, the "Instead-of-Christ" has a very important connotative difference, and in many ways more insidious. And what would that Anti/Instead-of-Christ stand for? Well, of course against or at least as an alternative the the Christ message-- again, man's role is to personally fulfill god's will by aiding all creation find its teleological expression of the greatest good-- the alternative probably would be something very much like "seek the personal good and fuck everyone else." Now let's not be to silly about seeing how this all works out-- as very often such a person wants to fuck over other people and feel good about it(personal good)--even self-righteous and entitled about it-- so it's very nice to wrap the whole thing up in some pseudo-bible-babble where once can pretend to believe that it's actually God's will to give you a whole pile of toys and other people nothing and that's ok because it's in God's plan for some people to go hungry. Never can know god's will really-- pass the steak sauce? Sure, all that sounds very silly and self serving phrased that way-- but hey, that's what makes the modern church go round--sermons based on that kind of language caters to a crowd who can offer up way better tithes that them "smelly serve poor kinds."

So how does this in fact make Mitt Romney the Antichrist? Because I suggest to you that he's taken the "all about me" alternative anti-christ message further, more indulgently, more profoundly, and more successfully than any human being in human history--and if he wins the presidency, he'll effectively taken the "antichrist" gospel to the highest level of success and power possible on planet earth! -- and if that doesn't in fact make him "the man!" I really don't know what rates. And that is, in fact, a little freaky. 

Especially because ol Captain Holy Underwear believes in a literal apocalyptic battle and has the power to initiate it in his hands.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I know, I know. . .Mitt Romney?

Very little around here, for sure, busy, busted finger-- thank a hydraulic ram for that.

Anyway, to my mind, how bas-ackwards is Mitt Romney?

Well, if you look at it, he'd be a conservative, morally, if he were running for Pharaoh.

Ya might want to think about all that. I'm not kidding.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Reminder:

Checking out the news this morning. . ."both" sides. . .

Hey, sticking one's head up one's as so hard and far that it forces a smile isn't optimism.

Friday, April 27, 2012

J. Free Band, May 2

We'll be playing the Black Rock Cafe at 6:30 or so Wednesday, May 2. We're sounding better than ever, have a full show of fun original tunes, look forward to seeing you all there!

Monday, April 23, 2012


So I've been asked about my opinion a lot lately on the whole local "geothermal" thing, so I thought I'd drop a few notes here about the whole deal.

First, my opinion on whether I'd support such or not--which is: "I don't know."

And I think that's a good position for a lot more people to hold, as I find often that those with the strongest views are the least informed. Maybe we could clear up a few misunderstandings here and ask a few intelligent questions.

First, let's be clear. Geothermal is not a renewable energy source. It IS an "alternative" energy source, and an important one. You must drill for heat just like you might oil, and while the "hot spot" under the island will be there for a very long time, the rate of harvest of that heat from the rock surrounding the drill site is much higher than the replenishment rate, and eventually, especially on an industrial scale, you use the viable amount of it up, and you've got to re-drill somewhere else. How fast is and how much you get out is largely speculative until you drill, though good predictions may be made, and other unknowns involve how much erosive and corrosive dilapidation of the well casings will occur, and how fast, and how soon they will need to be replaced. It's not like one sticks a hole in the ground and electricity comes out. But compared to many other alternative energy schemes, especially biomass to energy-- it has the potential to be vastly more effective with vastly lower complications-- and it uses proven, scalable industrial technologies. There's very little pie in the sky on that score.

Second, it's completely unclear about how if at all the local economy will be helped in the slightest by expanding current geothermal capacity. It's not at all like the proposals pledge to delivering megawatts at competitive industrial rates at all, it's not at all like the actual business entities that profit by ownership of the projects will return any of the value to the local economy(a few jobs, sure, but you can say the same about the guys delivering gasoline in trucks.) There is some systemic risk of property damage present, and in fact appears to me that local value, and heritage, is being harvested without due compensation for that risk. A weak pledge of  "lower electrical rates" isn't enough to set those concerns aside. It would help a lot if real numbers were discussed, but of course no one wants to do that because no one really knows whats down there, and it's the fact that we're held hostage by high and rising oil based costs that makes Hawaii as compelling to the geothermal industry as much as the fact that there's heat down there.

Third, comparisons keep getting made to Iceland. These aren't very fair. Iceland is an island, but one pretty close really to industrial centers, it's very far away from China, it has a capable educated workforce, and it has tons of hydro power as well. It has an electrical grid that is capable of supporting industry and a history of it as well. It has serious ports capable of shipping real industrial capacity in and out. It has its own currency and banking system, that it can manipulate for favorable purchasing of raw materials. It has a government that recently went through major upheaval and threw the bums out. Hawaii, and Puna in particular possesses none of those characteristics-- it only has hot rocks. So why on earth would a geothermal company want to drill here if there's no customers doing anything worth purchasing it? Well, it doesn't take much speculation to figure that one out-- but again, not a bit of local benefit for those taking the risk and loss of value. Remember, that heat in the ground is energy just like oil is, it's worth money just like oil is, and nobody has any business taking that resource away from the common state ownership without due compensation for its value. Seriously!

Lastly, without other checks in place, adding geothermal does nothing at all, at all, for the environment. It simply adds capacity to make it easier to consume what we already do and more so. We'll burn both the fuel we currently do and the geothermal electricity as well. That's a net loss for the ecosphere, and there's really no other way to spin it.  I know that's a bummer, and a lot of people can't bang this one through their heads, a fact others exploit-- but "conventional energy" plus "alternative energy" equals more consumption. And sorry to say, but that's bad. If we had caps on consumption in place, by perhaps credits or tax, that might not be the case, but without 'em, well, you just get more dead penguins. So let's drop any pretense of the "green" angle, OK???

So heck, I don't know, but a lot of things would be pretty helpful to clear things up. 1) A pledged rate of delivery per KWH, and numbers at discount for industrial users. Iceland pays 4.3 cents per KWH-- maybe the developers could commit to a contractual obligation to delivery at 10 cents?  2) At least a discussion of something like the oil funded Alaska State Fund or some such, where residents are compensated for the loss of their natural resources. 3) A sensible discussion of the alternatives, even if just to clear the air of misunderstandings about algae based biofuel or other such horseshit. 4) a reasonable discussion of global fossil fuel depletion at the state level, free of baloney, as the whole island economic plan needs to kinda wake up-- seriously, and let's get climate change on the table as part of the discussion as well. Otherwise, we're looking at status quo piecemeal profiteering, and that's not going serve anyone, 'cept a few, at all.

Just my two bits. I do believe that geothermal could be a boon for the Big Island. I also am certain that we must do something, as the status quo of reliance on diesel fuel is extremely dangerous. We are hanging by a thread on that score. It's just important that while we face that urgency we don't sell ourselves out in the rush to do so.

Feedback, of course, is welcome.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day

So a friend ( I use the term loosely, for sure) says. . .

"Hey Jay, saw your last post, how's your Earth Day?"

I respond. "Actually, I've never actually done the Earth Day thing much, and pretty much think it's stupid."

He snickers, "Yeah, but you seem a little down in the dumps about all that. . ."

"Sure," I say, "The big picture is grim indeed."

"Tell me something I don't know," he rolls his eyes. "Told ya so."

"Did you?" I reply. "Must not have been paying much attention."

He grins. "So what you going to do now that you've given up on sustainability?"

"Well," I say, "Let's be clear. Sustainability could have worked. It worked for me. We as a culture simply had to care enough to make the sacrifices to lead the world by example for a future where it worked out for everyone." I pause. "I haven't given up on sustainability at all, it's just that as a concept it's obsolete. Now it's a basic matter of survival."

"Sure," He laughs, "Must get ya down."

I shake my head, "Intellectually, absolutely. But strategically in my personal life it seems things couldn't be better."

"I bet." He replies.

"Look," I say, "I've got 9 acres of mixed forest and koa trees, more food outside the door than I could eat, even if kinda boring. It's paid for.  I've got really no bills to pay at all. I've learned a great deal about sustainability and learned primarily that sustainability was about efficiency, economy, and diligence. About doing the math and being as slick and skillful as possible. That's where your quality of life comes from." I pause. "I've the skills and infrastructure to live on a footprint that isn't even 10% of my peers, and on an income that most would consider dire poverty. It's pretty comfortable really."

"Bullshit" he snorts. "I love the inefficiency of my F250, and I can afford it. I like my big house. I like spending money, even before I made it." He leans in for effect. "I love spotted owl eggs for breakfast."

"Very nice," I reply. "It may be that efficiency is an acquired taste."

There in the air lingers an awkward pause.

"So," he grins, "you still haven't answered my question. What you going to do for your next stunt?"

"Funny you should ask," I reply. "I filed all the paperwork last week. I'll be bidding against you. . ."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I hate losing

Well, it's taxes again and that always puts me in a crappy mood, but I doubt it cheers many. Still, it forces one to take the time to sit down and really sort through the last year and enumerate a lot of things one might often not take the time to put in such detail. For myself, over the last few years with my work in sustainability I've had to put a lot of time in with a calculator in hand--working out in as much detail as I honestly could what it really meant to live a life where the balance of one's activities contribute to an "measureable good" rather than "purely harmful" and I've learned a lot about it. I've learned personally, for sure, that while it takes a serious person sincere effort and significant compromise, it's completely possible and reasonable comfortable to earn an income and live a life confident that one isn't participating in the larger ecocide. I've learned a lot and it's brought me insights and a whole new set of skills-- as well as a vastly more accurate understanding of the dynamics of the systems that we inhabit. It's been a lot of work but also a lot of fun. Nothing, nothing, is more precious than the simple joy of discovery. And while unforgiving of ignorance, ineptitude, or dishonesty, a life of authentic benevolence is pretty rewarding in its own way, if what many might call austere. After a couple of decades of lifestyles that demand such a high level of integrity it simply becomes impossible to kid oneself about stuff anymore, not as a matter of morality but simple fact: one just loses the knack for it.

In that spirit and having set the calculator aside its time to report a important truth. We're fucked.

I mean really fucked.

Now I know I've often been accused of being a doomsdayer, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, I believed that it was going to be difficult indeed to avert the crisis looming from over-population, resource depletion, and climate change-- very difficult in fact, but I hadn't believed it impossible. In fact, I believed that it was possible for courageous individuals to move personally in their own lives towards that goal and in fact set an example that many others, paralyzed in the headlights, might be able to follow. So, that's what I set out to do personally, and that's what I've done now for the last 5 or so years. And in fact my message has been inspirational to many, and convincing as well. But it's been motivational to damned few-- and our culture as a whole has moved even further from solutions to even and ever worse policies-- in fact the rate of destruction has significantly increased. I have been wrong about my fellow man and his grasp on reality and the depth of his love for life and his children. And so, a time comes when it's time to call "abandon ship" -- well, I pride myself on being the kind of sailor(or human being) that would be the first to sound a high water alarm but the last to head for the lifeboats, but that time comes even for me. And, well, fact is, it's here.

So what's that mean? Well, for me personally, different strategies now make sense. Where I had deliberately lived very modestly and frugally I'm force to admit that to do so no longer matters. Whatever I elect to consume will be consumed by the suicidal raving hordes. While I deliberately limited my income to both not contribute to malignant governmental policies and programs and lighten the actual impact of my "earning" to levels I could actually clean up-- I'm forced to admit to do so no longer matters. The hordes will take care of all that too. While I doubt I'll quit planting my trees or stewarding my few acres of forest for whoever or whatever survives this century, I'll do so strictly for and as my own pleasure-- besides, it's now become a habit to think that way and I enjoy the trees. These actions that I had taken in the past are no longer in my mind practical, perhaps not even morally defensible-- as we've entered a world where preservation for much is no longer an option, and we must desperately grasp and protect all of that which we possibly can in whatever manner we might. This is now a triage formula situation. Much must be categorized lost. In this context and again, different strategies are called for--and uncomfortable judgments must be made.

As I see it now, perhaps the most imperiled and endangered parts of the evolutionary wealth of our planet aren't so much rare trees, forests, or ecosystems-- but much to my surprise it is indeed the better and most evolved elements of humanity that is the most threatened. I took for granted that others felt the way I did, and would act how I might see humane. I was wrong about that, and in fact that generosity, honesty, courage, integrity, intelligence-- which might well be claimed to be the highest and most advanced expression of the evolutionary process, and certainly the most precious as it's from here solely comes the valuation of the rest-- it's precisely these elements that are in greatest risk of loss. As we drift further into graver circumstances I see not the best elements of humanity exhibited but more often than not the worst--certainly not noble heroism but rather bestial delusional brutality. Certainly I knew the veneer of civilization was thin, but I did not anticipate it would prove to be so brittle.

So, anyway, stay tuned for the explosion of creative energy that will be my next project, tuned to these necessities, freed of certain constraints. . .

And so sure, there are those who may smugly find themselves satisfied at sneering at my personal admission here, and point to it as a failure. "We knew the ship was lost all along" some might laugh, "there was never any point in even trying to save her." And sure, there may be some slant truth in such a statement, but in fact as we go down together some may discover that my time at work at the pumps and bilges in desperation has conditioned me to be a damn fine swimmer. . .

So I'll chock it up as a personal win, thanks.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

J.Free Band Tonight!

That's us, at PVC in Pahoa, starting 8:30 or so. It should be fun!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


This very well delivered talk worth one's time.


Now? More blather about sustainability?