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One of the live oaks that bless my home

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Human Foibles

I am on a short vacation with my wife.  We are staying in my daughter boyfriend's family summer house in Casadero, 9 miles west from Guerneville, CA.  It is a very nice house in the middle of a majestic redwood forest, separated by a long forest driveway from the road.

In the house, I find five white document boxes that hold an archive of old LA Times newspapers.  I open the first box and pick up at random the business section for LA Times dated May 21, 1992.  In it, my eyes lock immediately on a report bemoaning President Bush's handling of the Savings and Loans debacle, and how the government loan pools favor big S&Ls relative to ordinary people.  Then I see an article stating that people will never again look the same at investing into houses. (In May 1992, we were in the second year of a major housing slump.)   Does this sound familiar, or what?   Why have we forgotten?  I take it back: Why have most people forgotten? I have not forgotten, and this is my curse.

We are on the Blind Beach near Jenner.  The wide, dark coarse sand beach is empty, just us and a young family with a small boy and an even smaller girl.  The mother is maybe 25 years old and round.  She is dressed in a white tight tunic with black vertical stripes and tight black pants that make her large belly bulge like a flabby watermelon. The little girl starts running away from the ocean and into the empty beach.  Suddenly, we hear the young mother barking commands military-style: "Not so far, Emily! Stop!  We are going pee, Emily!  Follow me! Not this way!" And so on.  I am thinking: "Here is the second generation of the controlled, chauffeured everywhere, and vastly over-snacked young people.  The mother is brainwashing her daughter to be scared of walking ten feet on the sand and, perhaps, of any other spontaneous activity, just like her parents beat independence out of her."  How can such people think independently, and love and understand nature?
The Blind Beach photographed by me a day earlier from the north side of the Russian River.
On Public TV, Bill Moyers discusses the hollowing out of the middle class in San Jose, a city at the center of the Silicon Valley.  Without a doubt what happens in the Silicon Valley, changes the world and some people get fabulously rich.  But these people no longer manufacture wafers, chips and devices, and do not need highly qualified, well paid factory workers.  Actually they do not need much of any help, but they have so much cash that suddenly San Jose, Cupertino, etc. are too expensive for most people, and many families become homeless just one lost pay check later.  They interview an old, old homeless woman, who says that she is 54 and that she worked in a chip manufacturing factory when chips were still made in America. She is toothless and looks 80 or so.

Why do people believe that modulated electrons - translated into oodles of cash for the modulators - will bring prosperity to all?  How can Facebook enrich masses?  Facebook can make crowds jerk off in public, like in a never-ending high school reunion, but how can these people become rich through narcissistic gossip? Can they still talk to a living person, while gesticulating and maintaining eye contact?

Why can't I be like Amory Lovins, or Julian Simon , or Jeffrey Sachs, or some other politruk?  (In the Soviet nomenclature, "politruk" was an acronym for "political commander.") Why can't I sooth people and assure them of never-ending prosperity and happiness with never-ending population growth and wealth generation? Why can't I assure all that there will be no oil nor gas nor any other peak of anything, because human ingenuity and optimism will always win with nature?  Why do I have to be such a cold, unloving scientist? 

If I were a Julian Simon, some other very distinguished imbecile would write about me:
...The great human adventure has barely begun. The greenest thing we can do is innovate. The most sustainable thing we can do is change. The only limit is knowledge. Thank you Julian Simon for these insights...
Millions of people would read (no, not actively read, but only passively watch) and nod with warm approval.  But, no, I have to insist on the existence of the Second Law, irreversibility, mass conservation, energy conservation, zero net productivity of the Earth, and so many other idiotic things no one believes in anymore.

Instead of praise, I keep on hearing this song:
La, la, la, la!  I do-on't hear you!  La, la, la,la...
And what I hear serves me right.