Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

2008 US election results released early

TOO Damn Funny

Recommend this Post

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is Malthus right yet?

It's amazing how fast this story is becoming main stream, showing the stupidity and evil, unethical and unsustainable move to convert the worlds food surplus(and beyond surplus) into fuel for our cars.

Apparently the Finacial post just picked this story up too.

Just yesterday wheat hit $12 dollars a bushel breaking previous highs all while wheat and corn stockpiles hit 30 and 24 year lows. Food inflation is hitting all areas of the world as corn prices in Mexico has put the tortilla a basic staple 30% more expensive. Bread and flour is under pressure here in Canada and we can expect meat, dairy and eggs to sky rocket too as feed prices soar, suddenly that grass fed organic beef is becoming more price competitive.

The U.N. has said rising grain costs is going to impact the size and cost of it's humanitarian food aid

While economist argue supply will increase to meet demand, rising population, rising Asian affluence, rising energy costs and coming energy shortages all support the possibility that eventually Malthus will be right and we will hit a population wall. Now this wall could be pushed back if we gave up on bio fuel and all became vegans but it's pretty damn obvious that the selfishness of the rich will let millions starve and populations peak before they change their lifestyles. I'm just as guilty being a lacto-ovo,beefo-yeasto vegetarian, meaning I'll eat any vegtable as long as it's covered in a cheese sauce and served with served with prime rib and beer, or in an omelet

In many ways this is so much more important than the intrigues and disagreements between Evil Harper and Chicken Shit Dion, yet the growing media awareness is being ignored by the public and politicos more interested in maintaining the status quo, even at the expense of the worlds poor who with today's food inflation may starve even if there is enough food grown in the next few years.Recommend this Post

Sunday, February 24, 2008

High speed Glacier blows through radar trap!

Studies on a mostly ignored area of Antarctica shows that the glacier movement is accelerating, the Pine Island Glacier which is a couple kilometres thick, 30 km wide and is moving to the sea at a rate of 3.5km/year. That's like an addition 210 square kilometres of ice hitting the ocean each year and this is just one of Antarctica's glaciers, the study shows acceleration in other areas too.

See full article at BBC

Now 210 sq km is really not that big compared to the ocean, but if this study showing acceleration on all glaciers is correct this could multiplied the impact by many times. This is also not a fixed rate but an accelerating rate, next year the ice could be traveling at 4km/year.

I really should get an accurate map and buy property that's only 1 or two metres above the ocean, some day I'll have beach front:) But of course by this time I would probably have been killed by famine or barbecued by rioters. Sucks to be me!Recommend this Post

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shades of Cassandra

Truly if there is one American who “gets” what is going on today it James Howard Kunstler , but does anyone else "get it!"

From Clusterfuck Nation by Jim Kunstler

Behind all the blather and bullshit about the Federal Reserve's rescue gambits and the machinations of the ratings agencies, and the wiles of foreign sovereign wealth, and the incomprehensible mysteries of markets, and the various weather forecasts of a gathering "recession" is the simple fact that the USA is a way poorer nation than we imagined ourselves to be six months ago. The American economy has been running on the fumes of "creatively engineered" finance (i.e. new-and-improved swindling) for years, and now these swindles are unraveling. In their aftermath, they leave empty wallets, drained bank accounts, plundered retirements funds, boiled away capital reserves, worthless stocks, bankrupt companies, vandalized housing tracts, ruined families, and Wall Street executives who are still pulling down multimillion-dollar pay packages despite running their companies into the ground.

We're burning down the house and kidding ourselves that there is a remedy for it. All the rate cuts and loans to big banks and bank-like corporate organisms, and "monoline" bond insurers, and mortgage mills amount to little more than a final desperate shell game to conceal the radioactive pea of aggregate loss. The losses are everywhere, and when you add up seven billion here and eleven billion there they probably amount to something like a trillion dollars in sheer capital evaporation -- not counting the abstract "positions" that the capital was leveraged onto by the playerz and boyz who mistook algorithms for productive activity.

The shell game may run a few more weeks but personally I believe the timbers are burning. The losses are no longer "contained" or concealable. A consensus has now formed that we're in for a "recession." The idea is that, yes, this seems to be the low arc of the business cycle. Fewer Hamptons villas will be redecorated in the interim. We'll gird our loins and get through the bad weather and when the sun shines again, we'll be ready with new algorithms for new sport-with-capital.

Uh-uh. Think again. This is not so much financial bad weather as financial climate change. Something is happenin' Mr Jones, and you don't know what it is, do ya? There has been too much misbehavior and it can no longer be mitigated. We're not heading into a recession but a major depression, worse than the fabled trauma of the 1930s. That one occurred against the background of a society that had plenty of everything except money. Back then, we had plenty of mineral resources, lots of trained-and-regimented manpower, millions of productive family farms, factories that were practically new, and more than 90 percent left of the greatest petroleum reserve anywhere in the world. It took a world war to get all that stuff humming cooperatively again, and once it did, we devoted its productive capacity to building an empire of happy motoring leisure. (Tragic choice there.)

This new depression, which I call The Long Emergency, will play out against the background of a society that has pissed away its oil endowment, bulldozed its factories, arbitraged its productive labor, destroyed both family farms and the commercial infrastructure of main street, and trained its population to become overfed diabetic TV zombie "consumers" of other peoples' productivity, paid for by "money" they haven't earned.

There is a theory (see Nouriel Roubini's blog) that a reform process will now ensue in the financial realm, new regulation and oversight of the same old familiar activities. This too, I'm afraid, will prove to be wishful thinking. The financial system will not be reformed until it lies in smoking wreckage, and when that "re-form" happens the armature of the re-organizing society will barely resemble the one that the previous burnt-down-house was designed to dwell in. Among other things, it will not support capital enterprise at anything like the scale that we became accustomed to lately. Globalism will be over. The great nations of the world will be scrambling desperately for the world's remaining oil supplies. It will not be a friendly contest, and anyone who thinks that current trade relations and capital flows will continue despite that is liable to be disappointed. (Are you reading this Tom Friedman?)

Long before the mathematical projections of oil depletion play out, the oil markets themselves -- and all the complex operations that they comprise, such as drilling and exploration, and the movement of tankers around the planet -- will destabilize and seize up. We will no longer be any oil exporter's "favored customer." Many of the exporters will enjoy watching us suffer. Contrary to the political platitude-du-jour, the USA will never become "energy independent" in the way we currently imagine. Rather we'll become energy independent by being deprived of imported oil, and we'll be thrown back on our own dwindling supplies -- which means that we're not going to run our system of daily life the way it has been set up to run. When Americans can no longer run their cars on a whim, they will simply go apeshit and you can kiss normal politics goodbye.

The financial system that emerges from this cataclysm, and the economy it serves (which is supposed to be the master of its capital deployment "arm," not its servant) will likely be modest to a degree that will shock and embarrass everyone currently connected with what we have lately called finance. If it even trades in paper, that paper will have to stand for something based in reality, either a productive activity or a genuine asset. It may take decades for this society to even regain the confidence necessary to operate such an elementary system -- or it may not come back at all, at least as far as the horizon lies before us. That's how bad the mischief and the damage has been.

It's not hard to understand why the Bernankes, Paulsons, Lawrence Kudlows and other public representatives of capital keep pretending that everything is under control. On the other side of their pretenses lies disorder and hardship. One wonders, of course, what they really see in their private minds' eyes. Do they actually believe that the statistics issued by their serveling agencies amount to a plausible picture of reality? Are they so lost in their fantasies of "management" that they think they're controlling events?

My guess is that their credibility is spent. In the weeks ahead, nobody will know who or what to believe. We may even run out of questions to ask as we just all collectively stand there in a thrall of wonder and nausea, watching the nation's financial house burn down.

I read a lot of this kinda stuff and more and more the words ring true to me. The mainstream media however does its best to minimize any threat to the status quo and politicians talk hope and happy talk without ever touching the real threats. People like Kunstler are like modern day Cassandras destined to never be believed(until too late).Recommend this Post

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Peak Oil equals famine, and soon!

The U.K. Telegraph reports that US investment bank Goldman Sachs believes the advent of peak oil, the diversion of food to fuel, constantly growing population (+70 million people this year alone), and the westernization of the Chinese diet to meat will ensure a crisis in commodities in 12-36 months. Unlike the 60s China has the foreign currency to buy anything it wants on the open market and they will not be denied their chance to become decedent pigs like us.

Something is going to break and the current food inflation sweeping the world is going to become much worse as shortages enter the market. World wheat and corn stockpiles have been shrinking, prices going up and supply will move away from poor countries to the rich, it would appear the 3rd horsemen will soon be upon us.

This would be a good time to remind people to read the book Peak Everything by Richard HeinbergRecommend this Post

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Disney haters adventure to the tragic Kingdom, opps, Magic Kingdom

Before anyone bitches at me I have resigned myself to some form of environmental penance for the carbon food print I must have made in this seven day period, how I will do penance for supporting child labour and sweat shops I do not know.

Now I don’t want to be totally negative so I’ll go through the entire trip and try to be objective.

The airport limo van was quick, efficient, took 5 of us and another couple to the airport in 1 trip. A limo also saved me the risk of leaving my ten year old van that will no longer lock and needs air in the tires weekly at the airport.

Toronto airport had nasty line-ups at check in and then West Jet screwed up by not puttin our 22 month old (who had no seat) on our boarding passes, customs and security were equally slow. They say you should get there 3 hours early and you really do need that much time.

I was quite amazed that my spun stainless steel drink bottle in my knapsack was not hand searched, but of course the security guy was far to busy racially profiling the swarthy fellow in front of me. Had I been profiling I don’t think I would have picked this guy, no accent, a t-shirt with a picture on it, gold ring and chain, designer jeans, and my guess would have placed him as Indian or Guyanese and quite secular.

I would suggest you warn children about the security checks so they don’t flip out when their luggage containing Elmo gets thrown into the x-ray, being asked to take off his shoes was also a bit of an issue for one of my little folks.

The West jet flight was cramped but extremely kid friendly with Tree House available on the seat TVs and they provided juice, cookies, and Bits and Bites in large enough quantities to keep all the wee ones one the plane happy and quiet.

Orlando’s airport was much more efficient than Toronto’s but they certainly start the trip to Disney on the expected consumerism roller coaster by placing shopping conveniently between you and your plane or bus. My first fussing child incident was when the 3 year old would not leave the NASA store because he wanted to visit rover and space man more.

U.S. security people were not at all pleasant like most of the other droids at the airport; also don’t eat in any airport. You are captive and they know it!

The Shuttle bus to Disney was clean and quick and was my first experience with the endless piped in music and non stop Disney Propaganda that I was inundated with for 7 continuous days. The only reasonably nice way of traveling between the resorts and the various parks within Disney was the network of fairies. You get to putt along on a lake, enjoy the scenery, see wildlife and be free from the music. If it had not been for my obligation to help with the kids I could have ridden the boats all day or rented a party barge, anchor in the middle of the lake, read for 7 days, fish and enjoy a few bottles of Samuel Adams.

The Wilderness Lodge was quite nice having pools, beach, gym, nice rooms and even H2O soaps and shampoo, but with most of their accomdations you find yourself 15 minutes away by bus or boat (plus waiting time) from other hotels or parks in Disney. This isolation gives you two choices for eating at your hotel; expensive sit down restaurants or the cafeteria type set up where you can enjoy burgers and chicken fingers for the entire week, yum. Yet again the halls, lobby, elevator etc had endless Disney musak, between the noisey bustle the music and the water features by older boy had a noise tolerance of about 10 minutes in the lobby before he started cowaring and covering his ears.

One thing that bugged me all week was despite the availability of internet access in your room(provided you brought your laptop)there was not a single internet cafe or kiosk anywhere in Disney. After all the kids crashed early and I could only stand so much lou Dobbs so it would have been nice to check my mail and post daily on the nightmare I was living.

We tried to eat most breakfasts and some lunches in our rooms for frugalness sake and just to maintain some sense of normalcy for our kids. It was impossible to do any real food shopping at the hotel store, $4 dollar bread, milk, Rice o’Roni and some other crap that would not enpower you to build a decent balanced meal. Wrong or dishonest instructions led to a 31/2 hour trip for groceries and of course Disney buses will never delivery you anywhere where you might spend some of their rightfully claimed money some place else.

I had a number of issues with the food both at the hotel and in the park.

Price- honestly I don’t need a $20 all you eat buffet for lunch, and I sure as hell don’t expect to pay $11 for the same meal for a 3 year old who will want 5 fries, a pickle, maybe a piece of fruit or cheese. If my kids were really hungry a fully eaten peanut butter and honey sandwich is considered a coup in our house. Fast food was rampant yet decent fast food like burritos, wraps, simple sandwiches were not present.

Selection- with the exception of the sit down places in Epcot the selection sucked. Each area in each park had the same shit at the same outrageous prices.

Nutritional Balance- would it hurt to put some fucking vegetables on the plate. We went to two diner theatre type shows, a Polynesian and a vaudeville/hillbilly kinda show, in both cases 2 meats, 2 starches, and no veggies. While both did have a salad I’m just not use to having the majority of my meals 90% meat and starch and certainly not for a week. They should have had an onsite colonic spa!

Once you get into the various parks you quickly see the quality employment opportunities for seniors who can’t make ends meet, students too stunned to stay in school, glassy eyed people obviously too medicated to realize they are in living hell, and a variety of people who have been kept out of group homes and various other institutions where they could be doing something more productive like weaving baskets.

Yes there was seemingly normal types working for Disney but as one dated anti Disney web site says seems about right

• Young and pretty workers get jobs where they will interact a lot with the customers;
• Older women sell things in the stores;
• Older men work in security;
• Haitian women work in housekeeping;
• Young people from Puerto Rico work in food services and preparation;
• African Americans work as cooks, stewards and in food preparation;
• Anyone who might seem less 'presentable' works on the night shift, from 11pm - 7am.

If the numbers of shambling mouth breathers I saw in the day time were any indication the night crew must be quite something.

Safety. I had to notice that even on crappy carnie rides in Canada they check every single person to make sure they properly secured, belts on , hands in etc. Not at Disney, you loaded yourself, restrained yourself and no one checked. You have to wonder at that point if their maintenance is that shabby?

The People,
It was not just some of the staff that appeared marginally defective; my wife was asked by another guest in the animal park what kind of animal the Gorilla was, she had kids and they did not know either.

We saw one couple planning their Disney wedding who would have been much better served by buying a set of teeth they could have shared.

The number of his and her scooters being used by people who only appeared to be in their forties was bizarre, Yes we saw young men with prosthetics and scooters which we can all understand and sympathize with but the number of people who appeared to have no issues but their weight driving scooters was large.


It’s amazing what they will charge you for in Disney, a 5X7 of your kid with Mickey is $12, to get pictures burned to a CD $150. $10 ballons, T-shirts, Mugs, no matter what you pick are all 2 or 3 times the price of a non branded equivalent outside the parks. I also know an accountant who worked for the copy write police at Disney and they were bastards, but that a different story.

I particularly hated rides that emptied out into yet another gift shop. I have to admit the kids were really quite good and asked for very little. I think they were just too over whelmed with the noise and bustle to even focus on the abundance of crap that was being flogged. I could not believe some of shit people were buying; I mean what grown adult needs Mickey ears, big puffy Mickey hands, a 2 foot tall American flag plush top hat? The assortment was immense and the utility of many of the items was nil.

In the end we got a few shirts for the kids and beach towels/postcards as something they would not grow out of and would be able to keep for years. For me I settled for a piece of pottery shaped like an Olmec head from Epcot Mexico, to go with my collection of Native and fake pre Columbian art.

Would I go again? Not if I could help it

Is Disney the greatest place on Earth? Not even close.

Should an asteroid be nudged into a collision course? Hell yesRecommend this Post

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Once in a while a week comes along where the stars align, and not in a good way, leaving GAB in a major league funk. Since there is nothing I can do to shake this in a timely manner, I may as well embrace it and have a good emotional wallow

That in mind I spend the morning at work, (sshhh, don’t tell) surfing youtube for some old songs, so if anyone is up to indulge, enjoy.

P.S. my selections will most certainly date me and where the hell is all the old Canadiana on youtube.

Recommend this Post

Monday, February 4, 2008

Harper to create new Ministries

While not yet announced, my inside sources (inside my head) tell me that PMSH is on the verge of creating two new ministries to deal with all the confusion over the Afghan prisoners who may or may not be (yeah right) tortured by our Afghan allies, and other issues like those pesky little government climate scientists who think they have the right to speak on science without the permission of John Baird who holds a BA in Political studies.

Of course since the Harper caucus is so thin on talent and the Ministry of cloning Harper has so far failed in creating anything sentient (Garbage in Garbage out) two new Senators have been named and promoted to cabinet in preparation of the two new Ministries.

The portfolios will be called the Ministry of Secrecy headed up by none other than Boris Badenov, who will oversee the collection and destruction of any information the government wants to keep secret


The Ministry of Make Believe run by Barney who will oversee the creation of numerous fantastic songs and stories to cloud the sanity and concentration of rational citizens who might question why our lakes don't freeze anymore. Why we are having summer long droughts? Why Venice, Bangladesh, and Conservative polling results are sinking?

The first action by these new minstries is expected to be an all paid junket for Environment Canada Scientists where they can discuss climate change with the governor of Kandahar. Opposition MPs are also welcome.

In addition to these new Ministries it will also be announce all subsequent Senators will be elected by a highly qualified panel of Oil company executives and Republican Party insiders.

In unrelated news Karl Rove has been granted Canadian citizenship.Recommend this Post

Friday, February 1, 2008

U.S. Droughts proven man made

The New Scientist reports on a new study that shows the recent droughts plaguing the western U.S. cannot be attributed to random weather variations but rather are 60%the result of warming caused by humans.

The study also says this condition can be expected to persist and will continue to impact reservoirs levels like Lake Mead's which is already at a 40 year low.

This is just more proof that action must be taken on global warming but just as importantly action on water conservation must be accelerated considering growing populations and thirsty agriculture in the west.

For Canadians it's another wake up call to protect our water rights and fight any plans for bulk water exports or diversions to the U.S. Under Nafta once we allow it we can never change our minds. Even better let's get the hell out of Nafta so we can keep our water and oil for domestic consumption.Recommend this Post