Category Archives: Brain Droppings

7/14/12 – Book Haul Update

Just a brief reminder, as much for myself as for you, about the books I’d like to read over the next 6 weeks before summer — sigh — ends.

  1. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Partials by Dan Wells
  3. Seriphina by Rachel Hartman
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
  6. In One Person by John Irving

Check ’em out before I do.

MH

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2012 Half-Way Recap: January – June Blog Review

2012 is almost half over.

I’m scared, too.

But in lieu of our inevitable ends, June marks the six month point, and I invite you to take a look back at the films and books I’ve reviewed thus far. Below is the list of months I recommend opening into new tabs, just to take a peek.

Enjoy:

JanuaryThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Chuck Palahniuk, The Descendants, and more.

FebruaryHugo, the Hunger Games, and more.

March The Fault in Our Stars, The Sense of an Ending, As I Lay Dying, and more.

April – My own novel “The Ghost of Casablanca”, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Blood Red Road, a Green Day analysis, and more.

May – The Avengers Movie, The Glass Castle, Kurt Vonnegut, John Green, The Maze Runner, Clockwork Angel and more.

JuneSnow White and the Huntsman Movie, The Things They Carried, Graceling (coming later this month), and more.

Keep checking in! More movie reviews and book reviews coming soon, including:

  • Prometheus (In theaters June 8th)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (in theaters July 20th)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgensten
  • To the Lighthouse by Viginia Woolf

Absorb everything…. it all has value.

MH

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Brain Droppings: When the Last Page Turns

Books don’t come with one idea, they come with a few.

They are not always designed around one theme or focused on one lesson which everyone should get. Sometimes (often) people take different things away from the same book. Furthermore, sometimes authors approach the art of writing with no intention of preaching any number of ideas or arguments, but are honestly trying to find meaning for a question themselves. They say, “What if this happened to characters like this? What does that say about human nature or just this character or me?”

The point is: post-reading discussions or research sessions can and should be an integral part to deepening a relationship and comprehension of a novel for readers looking for the fullest experience. Too many individulas read books—partially or fully—and never utter a word about the book to anyone. Alone, we are all but one mind. Alone, fun and pleasure stop at the last word of the final sentence. A community never blossoms.

Between reading group participation and utilizing websites dedicated to discussion, review and analysis, there’s no reason to not dig deep into something a reader enjoyed. In our time, right now, we are wholly spoiled with access to information, through each other and the internet, to grow as educated, curious beings, who sometimes naively (but always rightly) believe true personal growth and learning can come from something as insipid and questionable as fiction.

Beautiful.

click and check it out...

I bid you good day, sir.

MH

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A Decade After ENRON and the Minds that Gave Us the Recession: an essay

Unfortunately, the only bad thing to happen ten years ago was not only the attacks on 9/11. The following month, in October 2001, the Enron Scandal exploded in the media. These people are truly the antithesis of integrity, aiming for profits and not watching out for us. Here is an abridged look at Enron and the kinds of people that populate Wall Street. The way the men thought at ENRON has continued with others and has given us the current economic woes we are all feeling today. The past ten years have been almost all decline.

NOTE:

The following essay was something I wrote for a class in 2008. I brushed it up a bit for the 10 year anniversary of what I consider the “beginning.” I mean the beginning of what was to come in NY and Washington leading up to our downfall from 2009-2011. The recession did not come from nowhere, and these are some of the minds responsible. This kind of great-risk-great-profit mindset has sent us into the current recession, and will surely continue into 2012. Remember, Enron are just the ones that got caught. You think it was just them doing shady stuff? This recession has already been longer and more painful than most Americans imagined, and that was because no one was paying attention. After bailouts in 2010 and massive stimulus packages in 2010/2011, the citizenry began to climb but then quickly sputtered and faltered once more when the money ran out, maintaining a 9-10% unemployment. In 2001, that was 4.9% unemployment. But how the home mortgage crisis and the $787 Billion dollar bank bailout were handled are for another paper. We are talking about one of the smoking guns here. One of the starters of it all. The freshmen class of disaster. The people with a lot of money, including access to your money, have a lot of power and have been doing stuff like this for decades. Stay informed. And check out the very detailed timeline link at the bottom of this essay to really see how many years this scandal was in the making.

So… 

Strippers, dirt biking, insider trading, suicide, and forced Californian blackouts. Sound like money and fun, especially the dirt biking. It’s safe to say the actions of a “good ‘ol boys” club like this would not be suited for or allowed in the business world, but for a while, this was exactly what Enron was. There are more people to blame than just those that will be reference here, but I only have time for the arguable key players in this scandal of biblical proportions. Well, at least the biggest in corporate American history. In the end, I hope to prove why the real reason behind Enron’s collapse was not just a couple cocky guys, but rather a broad and general attitude our corporate culture is spiraling into which needs to stop.

Many, many are to blame, the main guys however, were Skilling, Lay, Fastow, and the banks involved.

The first problem was Ken Lay and his power to appoint who he wished to be his CEO. The problem here was that he picked a very ambitious visionary named Jeffery Skilling. This was a man who wanted to reinvent the whole natural gas industry, and even if his intentions were chivalrous at the start, calamity ensued like Wile E. Coyote in a Looney Tunes short. Let us briefly look at the philosophy of these criminals (read: gentlemen). Many of these men, but specifically Jeff Skilling, were very Darwinian in their approach to business. Skilling was someone who wanted instant gratification for his brilliance. Humility? No thank you. This was something many looked up to in the organization and fueled this dog-eat-dog approach. As long as the guys up top were telling the guys down below like the traders that what they were doing was okay, even if the people down below knew otherwise ethically, they would all continue right along in step. It’s called diffusion of responsibility. They teach it in psychology.

Anyway, these acts were manifested in their frequent trips with business partners and investors to remote locations for dirt biking, jeep mud driving, extreme and dangerous hikes and so on. Lou Pai, who I will mention briefly, was an executive who preferred to take his associates to strip clubs. I wonder whose money he used. He later would be one of the few who cashed out millions early enough to get out clean before the implosion, where he then left his wife to marry and run off with his stripper girlfriend who had his baby. Now that’s America’s finest right there.

Now, back to Jeff Skilling: he signed onto Enron but only under the preface that he be allowed to implement his own accounting method called “mark-to-market” accounting. This was from the very beginning something that could never be accurate in the sense that you cannot hypothesize future projections based on an idea as soon as it comes out of your mouth. The really wild thing was that Arthur Andersen signed off on it and the S.E.C. approved it! It was ridiculous, yet no one questioned it from the very beginning because they arguably knew the benefits of never having to document a cash flow sheet, book its debts, or present a balance sheet with earning statements. Being the power house and financial institution they were, they should have absolutely been made to make one. The problem was even if they did, it may have been falsified. The scent of possible profit blinded hundreds of people who should have had stronger oversight principles for people like me and you, but everyone just played along with they’re hands out and eyes closed.

Enter stage left, Andy Fastow. This was the man who put Skilling’s ideas into action. Though they were all losing money year in and year out in 2000 and first half of 2001, it was Andy Fastow’s job to conceal the 30 billion in debt with various trickery. So he created many companies to fraudulently hide the debt. Of course, these companies only dealt with Enron and it was a clever way to lie about the loans and flow of money. It was confusing to many, so no one asked because they just figured it was too complicated to understand. That’s the mind set they wanted us to have. Bravo.

Fastow made 45 million by the way for his own benefit, but he deserved it right? How else are these executives and traders going to retire by the time they reach forty-one years old to their three houses? In selling investors pieces of companies like LJM for example who only buy Enron stock, he’s guaranteeing himself funds. He was working both sides, and was an obvious conflict of interest. Because of these fantastic claims, about 96 banking companies put as much as 25 million in each. Do the math. Yikes.

Then came the deregulation of Californian electricity. Good times there. There free-market idea was a complicated one that I don’t even understand completely, but I do know no one could clearly devise a set of rules for it, which inevitably would lead to foul play – it did.

Enron traders would call the electric plants and tell them to shut off the grid for hours at a time in order to hike up the costs of the utility so they could reach their quarterly goals. That doesn’t really seem ethical. They had more than enough power to run the state by a few dozen gigawatts, I believe. The crazy thing is there are recordings of Enron traders admitting that they shouldn’t be doing what they were doing and that they were making too much money. It made them nervous. Anybody would be. But as long as the guys up top said “carry on, gentlemen, carry on,” they would (see above: diffusion of responsibility reference).

Once these men and women rationalized to themselves that what they were doing was alright, they were a non-stop engine of capital gain, corporate lust, deception, greed, and were just a cheerleader for America’s corporate culture itself. They were not the first company to do this. It’s been going on for a long time—maybe to smaller and less detrimental degrees—but it will continue in America. Boy, has it ever (see current situation, Recession. I saw that one coming).

Who to blame?: Skilling, Lay, the governor of California for not putting his foot down harder, the president and vice president for not helping the millions of their citizens in California, the guy who picked up the phone at the power plant and flicked the switch, Fastow, all the upper level executives, the public (though only slightly) for being so disinterested and indifferent to the world around them, and especially all the banks who put money into Enron and never flinched at the miraculous and continuous climb of profits.

The banks especially knew that the gain occurring couldn’t possibly be real, but as long as they were given money in the end, they were happy and kept their mouths shut. They didn’t want to know, because that would end the ride for them and everyone; which is kind of what happened when Sharron Watkins voiced her concerns and everyone thought she was crazy to take them head on. At least some one did, and David took down Goliath. How could they not “ask why”? I’m not making this up, but that is really the slogan for Enron. “Ask Why.” Ironic as hell.

SO all of them are to blame. This was not the plot of three middle-aged profit mongers, but rather the compliance of HUNDREDS who live with weak ethics, if any at all. They had to pull this off together because it was so elaborate; everyone had to lie as the profits rose. This collapse was the result of a majority of what the American capitalist system has become… and we deserved it.

I’m sad for those who lost jobs and 401K’s, but this is what happens when you sit around eating Big Macs and watching American Idol. Enron simply took it that extra step. They recognized the pre-existing greed on Wall Street and simply took the reigns. Lay, by the way, lied about the stocks going down, all the way to the last day, when he KNEW about the millions in debt. Under oath! Everyone who should have said “no” never did, and many had multiple chances to blow the whistle; including Bush and Cheney who were aware.

Ask Why? Because these big boys with there “smoke-‘em-out, me-or-you, Let’s-get-every-penny-we-can-from-our-own-friends-and-fellow-citizens-then-retire-when-we’re-thirty-five” attitude has the potential to kill us all. Kind of like executive and personal friend to Skilling, J. Cliff Baxter; here was his suicide note when he was found dead on January 25, 2002:                    

 

Carol,

I am so sorry for this. I feel I just can’t go on.

I have always tried to do the right thing, but

where there was once great pride now there

is none. I love you and the children so much.

I just can’t be any good to you or myself. The

pain is overwhelming. Please try to forgive me.                                    

Cliff

At least some one felt bad, because no one else from Enron seemed to take any blame. It’s unfortunate that he had taken his share of the blame and his life. It is tragic. I guess it’s not all bad though; Lou Pai is somewhere with a stripper. Seriously, Ken Lay is dead, and Skilling is in prison right now, but we all know it’s still not enough. We are still living in the wake of their fuck ups, and more people on Wall Street have just made more. It won’t ever be right. Our habits haven’t changed as a people. No amount of legislation on Capitol Hill can fix it. It is us we must fix.

MH

__________________________________

Sources were solely obtained from:

1) My brain, as I personally followed the even for years.

2) ENRON: the smartest guys in the room  (2005)  (DVD film/documentary)

3) Timeline of the Enron Scandal website:

http://www.answers.com/topic/timeline-of-the-enron-scandal

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Society, Suburbanism, Energy, and Sustainability

Brain Droppings — Essay Edition

Traditional Society vs. Modernity: How to Transition from Suburbanism to a More Responsible, Healthier Society  

by: Matthew Hughston Lowder      

Suburbia was initially a fairly innocent attempt to make a bit of money for the few and the powerful, strengthen our economy, keep the unemployment low after World War II when soldiers were looking for jobs, and make life better in America. There was no way of knowing in the 1950s that it would ultimately be self-destructive and tragic. It is best viewed as a short-lived sociological experiment that has not gone quite right, resulting in short-term benefits and long-term destruction (and if not destruction, at least volatile risks). “The living arrangements Americans now think of as normal is bankrupting us economically, socially, ecologically, and spiritually… all reasonable indications suggest we will not be able to continue this pattern of living, whether we like suburbia or not…” (Kunstler, p. 17). Like two sides of the same coin, oil can be credited for most problems but also most advancements—socially, technologically, and environmentally. Oil is deeply integrated in more goods and services than people may know or care to think about, and this relatively new and prosperous way of human growth and operation has only been around for about 100 years. But now that we know that peak oil is here or has already passed and that all things that are produced or transported with the aid of oil are going to continue to increase in price, it is time to change in three main ways: condensing from suburban life back into an urban setting, reduce oil dependency and expand renewable options, and rethink how our education philosophies fundamentally operate to keep the young informed as they grow.

            Oil in 1999 was around $10 per barrel (Owen, p. 50), and today (just twelve years later), it has climbed to just over $100 per barrel. This staggering statistic should nudge the United States and other still growing nations to reassess both short and long-term goals and how they will be attained. One of the several ways to reduce the strain on the human race is to change how and where we live on a very basic level. This means a massive restructuring of—or exodus from—suburbia. This will be one of the biggest challenges for citizens comfortable with modern American society, and will possibly take the longest to alter. However, if the public can change their expectations of their lives for the betterment of man, the long-term benefits will outweigh the drawbacks and we may all gain back some of our long lost senses of community and culture. This may also remind us that most of modern man’s existence was, in fact, in the urban style (and for good reason). We will find a new “normal.”

            It is also worth noting that people saw these issues coming just like people saw so many other man-made disasters coming, but the very powerful or influential or intelligent have decided it is too inconvenient or takes too much talking to bring the public up to speed on the facts that they should know. The result is two worlds; the one the public perceives and the one scientists, biologists, and policy makers see. The danger here is that the national conversation is without the public’s voice or not in our favor. And sometimes the enormity of the challenge faced by those in power makes them silence themselves thinking nothing can be done, and twist the facts to gain certain public approval, or withhold evidence for political or monetary gains. There is a lot of ethical grayness here. There are people who do not think that anyone could understand the complicated nature of these big ideas and so they say nothing, and still others who are purposely trying to keep otherwise intelligent people in the dark in regard to certain facts so that profits of whatever sort will continue to rise for some company. The one thing that cannot be ignored any longer, however, is the utter dependence that we “oil junkies” have developed over the past 50 years, and this is the main issue on which to reflect.

            To live in the suburbs without a car is an economic and social death sentence; many people cannot get to work, to school, to the market, to the pharmacist, or to their families, not to mention the time and money and distance all this entails even with a car. Almost nowhere is easily accessible on foot. This “sprawl” has not always been the case. The structure of the urban landscape and its conventions—including housing, proximity of varied institutions, entertainment, environmental impact, and “class” balance—has in every way been more conducive to a more psychologically, spiritually, and economically responsible and fulfilling populace. The average New Yorker for example generates 7.1 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. That number is 30 percent below the national average of 24.5 metric tons per capita (Owen, p.2-3). It is not unusual to find skeptical people when one says a place like Manhattan is more “green” than beautifully constructed, cookie-cut, suburban housing developments, often named after the environment or the animals it destroyed or displaced (i.e., Shady Oak Trails, or Blue Bird Hills). This occurs by paving a road and fertilizing thousands of square feet of new pre-packaged grass blankets and pest spray. It is a cleverly constructed attempt at creating peace and outdoor beauty which is, in the end, a produced imitation. And all of the steps it takes to create this sight do more harm than good along the way. Even though these housing developments are often advertised with gorgeous homes nestled in green pictures of nature, they are not actually environmentally friendly when you consider all its components. And the same groups and companies do not hold back when vilifying the cities, which are actually better in almost every sense except perhaps personal comfort regarding lots of square footage of living space. The benefits for the whole, however, outweigh the personal desires of the few. When fellow human ecology author Daniel Lazare was interviewed for David Owen’s book Green Metropolis, he said the following about the intended and unintended national antagonism towards urban life placed by the banks, builders, and the government:

“Green ideology is a rural, agrarian ideology. It seeks to integrate man into nature in a very kind of direct simplistic way—scattering people among the squirrels and the trees and the deer. To me, that seems mistaken, and it doesn’t really understand the proper relationship between man and nature. Cities are much more efficient economically, and also much more benign environmentally because when you concentrate human activities in a confined space you reduce the human footprint… the disruption of nature is much less in Manhattan than it is in the suburbs. In order to surround ourselves with nature, we get in cars and drive long distances, and then we build silly pseudo-green houses in the middle of the woods—which are actually extremely disruptive, and very, very wasteful.” (Owen, p.20-21)

This idea of suburban living being very wasteful repeats in almost every sustainability book, documentary, news program, and newspaper one is likely to read on the subject. By living closer together and having less space, people have no choice but to have this reduction reflected in their lives. They must be mindful and thus all the people making up a city drive less, consume less, and produce less waste.

Urban living also offers a closer proximity to all places people need to get to without having a car. They also require people to interact socially and actually know their neighbors (something not everyone in suburbia goes out of their way to do). The majority of citizens would live very close to the hospitals, schools, foods, and clubs/bars (unlike today where only a minority live so close to these places) and they would not require a car or its gas or its insurance or its parking fee. More money is freed to do other things and improve life in other ways. In addition, living so close to one another in large apartment buildings keeps the heating and cooling cost low since the building is heated like a hive and affects all rooms. In suburbia, this cost of energy per person and per house is radically higher since it is only heating itself—costing more money per inhabitant and allowing more heat/AC to escape the walls into the atmosphere.

Oil dependency cannot be solved overnight, and it is true that the modern urban city, while better in many ways than the suburbs, cannot sustain itself for much longer than the suburbs might because we would still be using oil for so many things: foods, packaging, distribution, housing, printing, public transportation, gadgets, and electronics. Therefore, moving from suburban life back to urban life (which has proved to work well for hundreds of years) will only solve some of the problems and slow down some of the challenges on the horizon. The next step would be to take a look at how we are making our energies, how we use them and how often, and then try to discover new alternative fuels, either renewable or non-renewable, to alleviate the pressure on our oil addiction and provide some relief from the fear of a total collapse of society.

Roughly 80 million Americans are too poor, too old, or too young to drive and thus incapacitated to lead a fulfilling day-to-day life (Duany, p. 115). Teenagers are forcing their parents to spend money on driving lessons and licenses and eventually cars just so they can have any form of social life and have a job which is usually not within walking distance. The dependency on the parents is no longer cut at the traditional age of 18 and this is due to our continued sprawl and youth’s demand for mobility. They cannot leave the nest as early as they once did, and are now burdensome into their early twenties—sometimes longer—whether they are in college or not. This is another reason to reduce our dependence and our necessity of having cars and long stretches of roads to get from place to place. It wastes time and oil, adds pollution to the atmosphere, and can be physically and psychologically draining to the frequent commuter. A closer community of various services and shorter distances helps the citizenry in nearly every way—often equal or less travel time, distance traveled, and stress than the suburban setting. Less energy and waste and pollution is attributed to each person this way, and a public transit in very good form always outweighs the single car rider (though strong public transit is more or less extinct and great challenges await us when we decide to refurbish them.)

Besides cars and oil and the social benefits, there is the next challenge of finding new sources of powerful energies. Electricity comes from coal. Nearly all technology relies on oil at some point. To alleviate some of these strains, further research must be put into not just renewable energy sources, but how we will harvest and store these energies as technology recedes into the past where oil and gas was ample, because the world’s structure of what can be made cheaply and what can be produced at all is going to be slightly, if not substantially, different in 50-100 years time. It takes energy to find and use energy, and humanity needs a lot. Remember: in 1970 a barrel of oil was three dollars, climbing to $60 in 2006 (Leeb, p. 119) and as of April 8th, 2011 is at $117 (OPEC). The other problem is that non-renewable energy sources tend to have huge power capacities, and even combining the efforts of ethanol, crop conversions, natural gas, solar power, wind mills, recycling/burning wastes, and water power technology will not reach the energy demands to match the ability of oil. And oil is almost one hundred percent of the time necessary to build the edifices and technologies to harness and store these other energies! This is a stark reality without an answer yet. And nuclear power, with its history of controversy, is even less likely to get unilateral public backing since the recent events of Japan with Fukushima—casting questions and fears, albeit rational and understandable ones. Technology could probably get humanity out of any bind it is likely to face if there was an infinite supply of energy. There would also be far lower prices for everything, many more jobs, and the globe as a whole would certainly experience less war. But this utopia is not reality. The reality is that a national and possible global paradigm shift is taking place in the mind of humanity that may take decades to develop, but when it does, we will take on the world’s problems like never before with a new set of ideals and a new expectation of what life on earth will be like. We can only hope that we have decades to spare of course, and it begins with changing how we live and reducing our footprint here. That means retracting our sprawl and rebuilding our urban settings.

The American people and their lives are dictated by the cost of energy just like the other 7 billion people on this earth and counting. There are limitations. Our modern civilization was built on oil, and as that goes away, our modern way of life will devolve into something more manageable and less turbo-charged; probably into a world that goes a bit slower and is more human labor intensive. It will be a world where all other activities are second to food production, much like the 19th century (Leeb, p.121). Modern agriculture will feed less, the highways will fall into disrepair, middle class professions and jobs will disappear, and the schools educational systems will likely not have so many grades unless near miraculous energies are found and sustained (Leeb, p.121).

A final point can be made about education in America; an often overlooked and crucial part of the solution. Without an up-and-coming intelligent generation to take over the responsibilities and the continuation of our cultures, everything that the current policy makers are working towards in this country will have been in vain. The public must raise its voice and it better know what it is talking about. When the time comes for a new generation to step up to these challenges, they must hit the ground running and have a proverbial arsenal of statistics, plans, and technologies prepared to ease the transition with as little hunger, lawlessness, uprising, and depression as possible. Earth in Mind by David W. Orr contains several chapters  about the connectivity between society, the environment, and education. Orr warns of not the problems within the educational system as we know it—where there are problems of course—but he studies the problems of education itself. Though it sounds bizarre, once given some details, it is actually quite understandable and frightening. It also further underlines this essential idea of a wide-spread paradigm shift taking hold in the very fabrics of our minds about what we expect from our modern societies and how we approach our change.

 “It is time, I believe, for a… general rethinking of the process and substance of education at all levels, beginning with the admission that much of what has gone wrong with the world is the result of education that alienates us from life in the name of human domination, fragments instead of unifies, overemphasizes success and careers, separates feeling from intellect and the practical from the theoretical, and unleashes on the world these minds ignorant of their own ignorance.” (Orr, p.17)

And this much is clearly unintentional but needs to be fixed. This has been the unwritten plan of attack, the featured dogma for our 20th century world and America specifically: fight for success, wealth, and consumption. The world is for us to pillage. It worked in its time when we did not know any better, but this subtextual, ingrained mindset must be changed at the fundamental level for people to be able to think outside of their self-imposed boxes today. Assuming, for a moment, that there were no problems with America’s educational system and we had the best schools on the planet (which is not true) the most daunting task to come would not be making sure the schools operate properly and the kids absorbed the appropriate information, it would be a task of gargantuan proportions regarding what they are absorbing pedagogically, philosophically, and structurally. We are taught to be kind and respect authority and enjoy arts, but are also taught to be lookout for ourselves first and capitalize, rarely being told to care of the interests of one’s neighbor. In the end, it is capitalism and dogs eating dogs, though some call it simply healthy competition. Perhaps some educators, board members, and Congress people believe we would be too young to understand such principles before we were 18 or 21 years old, but that had not stopped them in the past when people in power deemed it necessary to indoctrinate the youth and the ignorant with nationalistic sentiments (including the American dream, “Leave it to Beaver” existences, and SUV power that “you need”). There is great power and capabilities in the minds of all people at all ages. Coast-to-coast involvement and the beginning of a national dialogue and outreach are more important than ever. It has begun over the past 30 years, but has been weak, unfocused, and underfunded, however the past decade has shown an increase of public awareness, and that must increase into the future and into the classrooms—fast.

Traditional society will come back in some form since the modern society has passed its prime. The world that waits before us does not have to be as stark or ugly or hopeless as it may appear when given the facts, opinions, or scientific projections of others. The reality is that we would not have made it to where we are today without being an extraordinarily smart or extraordinarily lucky creature. Our reliance on energies for how we live today directly dictates our path, our wars, our advancements, and our abilities to sustain a certain population number. To co-exist within our biosphere, regardless of the concessions that my reduce our current creativities and artistries, we me ultimately evolve into a species which can continue to experience the better sides of life and proliferate with purpose and meaning—and in a new way. A reduction is inevitable in some sense of the word. When it is all said and done, that is the very reason we care about what happens to our future, a future we may not even get to see, because imbedded deep within every single person is the desire to live and live well, not simply survive. And this emotion makes us human. But doing this by any means necessary has proven very dangerous and we must be cautious and considerate if we wish to continue sharing this planet.

“It may surprise you to learn that I didn’t want to write this… Moreover, I hope the premise and everything I forecast turn out to be dead wrong. Everyone including me will be much better off if that is true. The problem is that all the evidence shows I am right.”                                                      

–          Stephen Leeb, PhD in the “Author’s Note” of his book The Coming Economic Collapse

 Works Cited

 

OPEC statistics. Retrieved April 8th, 2011 from http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/923.htm 

Kunstler, James H. 1996. Home From Nowhere. Simon & Schuster Inc., New York

Owen, David. 2009. Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability. Riverhead Books, New York

Leeb PhD, Stephen. 2007. The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel. Hachette Book Groups USA, New York

Orr, David W. 2004. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Duany, Andres (and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck). 2000. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. North Point Press, New York

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Brain Droppings: Traveling

(Random thoughts on a random day. I quickly typed this and now leave it to your digestion.)

Some people get to see the world. Some people will never leave their town.

Do you actually want to see the world, or do you think you are supposed to because you might be missing out on something? Are you actually interested? Are you content with never leaving your country, your coast, your state? Do you want to leave forever as soon as you can, never to return home? Are you going to end up spending money you don’t have to see places you don’t care about because other people have put the idea in your head that you will die an incomplete being having not seen what they have?

Some people get to see the world. Marvelous and romantic it sounds.

And since life has no restart button, we would all do well to at least consider.

See the world? Yes? No? Why?

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Brain Droppings: To Be a Fringe Thinker

Thinking on the fringe. He’s a real “fringe thinker.”

These thoughts and ideas and philosophies are not “fringe” because they are some distant alternative; some punk rock, far from reality, naïve perspectives. These thoughts dubbed fringe are dubbed so because they are very, very real and because the truth is inconvenient. They are fringe because they are not seen as viable options. It is difficult to hear the truth about the state of things and rightly change our basic expectations of American life—or any societal life on this planet for that matter—because it is increasingly hard.

There have never been more mouths to feed, more buildings standing, more internet used, more cars driving than there are today. Right now. And if you read this again a few months from now, that number will be even higher than when you first read those words in the previous sentence. They have even grown simply between the typing of these words and the time they took to get to you to read them.

To challenge the way we do things as a species, to innovate, to be critical, to ask the hard questions and delve into the scary places of our minds, to theorize and accept the realities of our own biases and mental walls and psychological predispositions, is to be fringe thinker.

They should call us concerned, informed intellects, not thinkers of funny things fringe.

Stay plugged in. Listen to people. Read a book. Philosophize.

Analyze. What are you opinions about… anything?

MH

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