I pledge allegiance to the world as it is
Before our eyes and in our nostrils;
To the world as it moves through us
As blood & bone, breath and sensation;
To the wind and sun as they touch our skin,
To the dirt beneath our feet and under our nails;
To the world before we took a-hold of it
With our ideas.
When did telling lies become the norm? And why aren’t more people concerned about how much information spread today is false? Continue reading “Fabricating our future”
It has been a while since Iʻve written anything here and in the meantime Iʻve been elected to serve on our County Council – the local legislative and oversight body for our island of Hawaiʻi.
Yesterday the Council received a presentation by the narcotics unit of our police force on the presence of fentanyl in our communities. It was a grim discussion of course. The lethal dose of fentanyl is so minute that the police fear for their lives simply investigating crime scenes involving drugs of any kind. They asked for better protective gear to wear in such situations – basically hazmat suits.
The police officer in charge of the narcotics unit described how most fentanyl is manufactured in China, then shipped to Mexico to smuggled over the border into the US, and then brought into Hawaiʻi. A lethal doze of fentanyl is 2 milligrams and the amount of fentanyl apprehended by the police in the last year was enough to kill every resident of the island. And that is just what was apprehended.
It is a sad and horrifying situation, but it is also a strange kind of supply chain to contemplate – this axis of China and Mexico in supplying a drug of such potency to illicit drug consumers in the US. (Not all of whom sign on for fentanyl, as it is increasingly used to lace every other “recreational” drug, even relatively innocuous drugs such as marijuana.)
Chemical analysis of seized fentanyl can be linked back to a particular province in China, we were told. This degree of specificity – this tracking back into the Chinese province – makes me think of the Opium War in of the mid 19th century in which England used military force to maintain its market for opium in China, bombing Chinaʻs port cities with warships, seizing Hong Kong, and even attacking the capital city of Beijing , including the desecration and occupation of its imperial palaces. The Chinese government of the time was weak and corrupt. Civil wars in which tens of millions of people perished attempting to overthrow, or defend, the imperial order were happening contemporarily. It was a bad situation, made worse by the English and French military forcing the Chinese to legalize the opium trade.
This is not to justify the manufacture and export of illegal fentanyl in China, but the echoes of history are hard to ignore. It is not impossible, given the deterioration of relations between China and the Us, that the over-production of fentanyl is tacitly condoned. That there is even a bit of fentanyl war being waged. It is a strange world we live in, truly.
The world’s population of humans stands at the edge of rapid change and the future appears unimaginable. The greatest challenge (and danger) we face is climate change. We are faced with the undeniable fact that if we don’t stop adding green house gas emissions to the atmosphere our planet is going to overheat and the consequences are already catastrophic. In order to stop emitting green house gases we need to stop burning fossil fuels, hopefully replacing our energy needs with renewable sources. Continue reading “Standing at the edge of change”
It is revolutionary, intellectually-speaking, to point out that the European Enlightenment – especially the suite of political ideals (liberty, equality, democracy)) that are still aspirational for most societies – was inspired by early European encounters with indigenous/native American thinkers. This is the argument that David Wengrow and the late David Graeber make in the first chapters of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity; tracing Enlightenment ideas about liberty to the interactions of French colonial military commanders with the great Wendat (Huron) leader and thinker Kandiaronk. It is the earth-shaking first chess move in the argument that Graeber and Wengrow build throughout the rest of the book, an argument that aims to show that the conventional Western theories of the “general course of human history”:
1. Simply arenʻt true;
2. Have dire political implications;
3. Make the past needlessly dull. Continue reading “On Kandiaronk (The Rat): A Review of The Dawn of Everything”
Thanksgiving food prices will be higher this year due to supply chain issues, limited trucking, limited labor, and higher costs to food producers. Thanksgiving could be seen as a symbol of the American life style, our tendency to over-consume an abundance of cheap goods. We’ve lived this way for decades, but if we are going to address climate change it’s time for us to recognize that the era of plentiful, cheap goods is over. We will pay more for everything. Continue reading “The Era of Cheap Living is Over”
The problem with the recent IPCC report is that it is still talking about ‘average’ changes over the earth, discussing what might happen decades from now as a result of increased rate of change. Even if the message is labeled “code red” or urgent, it is still understating what is already happening. We continue to flog a dead horse; the ‘dead horse’ being the fact that scientists are still trying to convince people that climate change is happening and our situation is getting worse. People should already accept that this is true. It isn’t the average changes that will happen over the rest of this century that are threatening us. The earth’s climate has already destabilized to the point where abrupt, extreme weather events are already happening. It isn’t my poor diet that will kill me, it’s the heart attack. Continue reading “What the IPCC report should have told us”
No one likes to see prices going up, especially people with little money saved or who live paycheck to paycheck because they rarely have ability to pay more for their basic costs of living (housing, food, utilities, clothing, child care, transportation, and healthcare). Continue reading “Skewered on the Horns of Plenty”
What makes for a healthy rural community? Is there even room for such a thought in this world where it sometimes seems that any truly rural community is by definition under-developed, deficient, abandoned, lacking in dynamism, behind the curve, back-ward, almost horrifying to the sensibilities of the global capitalist elite. Its inhabitants are the subject of barely concealed scorn, or perhaps ambiguously romanticized as throwbacks to a kinder, gentler, less complex time. Either way they are not seen as full citizens and actors in the present political and economic moment, and often rural communities are seen as white savior projects – they must be saved from their truculence by some kind of development or program.
Or, if a rural area is fully integrated into the global economy, this has occurred, all too often, at the cost of its habitability. Giant fields or greenhouses tended by immigrant workers or, increasingly, robotic machinery. No one lives there. Not even the managers of workers or machinery, who commute from a nearby city perhaps. Different kinds of dystopia. Continue reading “Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia”