Collapse (The Movie)


A couple of nights ago I took advantage of Seattle’s art-house film scene to see Collapse, the movie featuring peak-oil doomsday-theorist Michael Ruppert. The film itself is pretty cheesy, constantly cutting away from the interview to use somewhat inappropriate stock footage to illustrate Ruppert’s points. For instance, Ruppert suggests that people all over the world have already started to riot in response to the recent economic difficulties (the film was made in March 2009), but it’s pretty clear that the riot footage is pulled from a wide variety of sources, many having nothing to do with those difficulties. There’s also a rather huge leap of logic connecting the real estate and derivatives bubble with peak oil concerns. While there may be evidence somewhere of such a connection, it is not presented in the film. Finally, Ruppert’s fundamental view of the economy-as-pyramid-scheme seems to overlook the obvious fact that the economy is not a closed system, but rather allows for new inputs from improved technology and – perhaps most importantly – social innovation. (As a side note, it also never fails to amaze me that folks who downgrade paper money as ultimately worthless nevertheless upgrade gold to the status of God Almighty, as if a relatively rare metal were somehow inherently valuable… my point being that all economic value is either directly related to satisfying biological needs, or else is a matter of mere convention).

But while it is easy to write Ruppert off as a paranoid conspiracy theorist, partly because he focuses so selectively on data that support the worst case scenarios for the near future, and partly because he self-servingly refuses to debate those at least as well-informed as he is, it’s hard to simply dismiss his impassioned insistence that we should work much more urgently to develop plausible alternatives to oil for energy production. The correlation between the onset of the petroleum economy and the 20th-century population explosion is enough to make you think quite seriously about the consequences of an inevitable future decline in oil production, with its apparently unavoidable effects on agriculture and transportation.

Here’s the trailer for Collapse-

Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas.

The Senate As A Practical Joke


As Health (Insurance? Care?) reform (?) lurches forward like a headless chicken being shoved this way and that by a few senators from states with hardly any population (yeah, I’m talking ’bout you, Joe, and you, Ben), I’ve come to the conclusion that the Founders designed our system of government – or at least the Senate – as a sort of huge practical joke. What other explanation can there be?

Oh well. As our recent Defense Secretary Rumsfeld – himself quite an entertainer – might have put it, “You go to legislate with the Congress you have… not the Congress you might want or wish you had…”

Rubbing It In



There seems to be a vengeful ghost in my Yahoo! Weather widget (which I keep on my “My Yahoo” home page). It keeps showing me the weather in Sundsvall Sweden and Sunnyvale CA in addition to Oshkosh. When I delete these locations, they arise from the dead next time I log in. This wouldn’t be so annoying, except for the fact that the weather in Oshkosh is invariably colder than the weather in Sweden, and of course MUCH colder than Sunnyvale. And to add injury to insult, we’re expecting 8-12 inches of snow in the next 36 hours.

Oh Ullr, why dost thou taunt me so?

First Snow



Notice how green the grass still is… and this is December in central Wisconsin.

Amazingly, we managed to get through November without any measurable snow. Then it turned into December, and like clockwork, the temperature dipped into the low 20s and we got dusted. More is on its way.

Please note: we accept sympathy and even prayers (not to mention money for heating fuel). If you need a god to pray to, for this purpose I suggest Ullr – Norse God of Snow. However, my guess is that he’s more put upon by skiers praying for snow. I suppose that means you will have to pray with great fervor. Then at least you’ll be warm…