Posts Tagged ‘waste’

42 Reasons Why A Jetpack Won’t Make You Happier

With all the recent internet hoopla surrounding October 21, 2015–a random, then-26-years-in-the-future date from a well-loved film, I thought this new music video was appropriately timely.

While fairly blunt in its execution—they don’t have the poetry or nuance of Neon Bible or Suburbs-era Arcade Fire—I still must say Bravo, YACHT!
As Robin Hilton writes in her introduction to the ‘Future’ video, “Disappointment is part of America’s DNA. It is as though its citizens are born with the desire for something better, fueling much of the country’s entrepreneurial and creative output; but even if everyone had personal jet-packs by now, they’d still be left unsatisfied. And much of what’s produced to fill the void is just ridiculous.”

As usual, I would certainly zoom out for the big picture and revise to say that disappointment isn’t uniquely something American, rather it’s part of civilization’s DNA. DQ sums it up nicely in one of his most exhaustive passages (bear with me, it’s a good one):

“For hundreds of thousands of years, people as smart as you had had a way of life that worked well for them. The descendants of these people can today still be found here and there, and wherever they’re found in an untouched state, they give every evidence of being perfectly content with their way of life. They’re not at war with each other, generation against generation or class against class. They’re not plagued by anguish, anxiety, depression, self-hatred, crime, madness, alcoholism, and drug addiction. They don’t complain of oppression and injustice. They don’t describe their lives as meaningless and empty. They’re not seething with hatred and rage. They don’t look into the sky, yearning for contact with gods and angels and prophets and alien spacemen and spirits of the dead. And they don’t wish someone would come along and tell them how to live. This is because they already know how to live, as ten thousand years ago humans everywhere knew how to live. But knowing how to live was something the people of your culture had to destroy in order to make themselves the rulers of the world.

“They were sure they’d be able to replace what they destroyed with something just as good, and they’ve been at it ever since, trying one thing after another, giving the people anything they can think of that might fill the void. Archaeology and history tell a tale five thousand years long of one Taker society after another groping for something to placate and inspire, something to amuse and distract, something to make people forget a misery that for some strange reason simply will not go away. Festivals, revels, pageants, temple solemnities, pomp and circumstance, bread and circuses, the ever-present hope of attaining power, riches, and luxury, games, dramas, contests, sports, wars, crusades, political intrigue, knightly quests, world exploration, honors, titles, alcohol, drugs, gambling, prostitution, opera, theater, the arts, government, politics, careers, political advantage, mountain climbing, radio, television, movies, show business, video games, computers, the information superhighway, money, pornography, the conquest of space — something here for everyone, surely, something to make life seem worth living, something to fill the vacancy…”

If My Ishmael had been written in our early 21st century instead of the late 20th (or if Quinn ever decides to update it), he could easily add the high-tech gadgetry that YACHT parodies in their video—“social media apps, wearable technology, VR, drones, self-balancing scooters (“hoverboards”), selfie sticks, Soylent, vape pens”—to the end of his list^ of “the endless, sad parade of distraction-enticing creations pawned off as advancements”.

Before it can be challenged, we must recognize the truth that this ‘disappointment’ is not an innate part of human nature, but rather is directly caused by the ‘Great Forgetting’ and the system of oppression and exploitation—civilization itself—that grew out of it.
You are not an app. Regain the human potential that has been taken from us without our consent. Remove these distractions; learn to recognize, combat, and resist the system that continues to dole them out year after year, each one more pointless and destructive than the last.


Kill the K-cup

Single-use products like these need to be taken out back behind the shed, and shot.
Leave it to the Global North to be in such a hurry that it demands a complicated electronic machine to make single servings of coffee, that will likely either break (non-user-repairable) or be replaced (planned obsolescence) in two years, and creates non-recyclable waste with every use.
I signed it. Will you?

This culture of maximum convenience is also the culture of maximum harm.

For the record, the only responsible solution (if you have to drink coffee in the first place) is to head down to your local antique store, pick up a vintage moka pot:
buy organic fair-trade beans, and compost the grounds (roses love them). You may be slightly inconvenienced, but when this is the alternative, suck it up.

Doomsday Preppers: Kevin Poole

The episode’s second profile is of Kevin Poole, whose family lives outside Washington DC, and is using this appearance to pimp his business, Triton Shelter Technologies Bunkers.

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

Hypothetical disaster of choice: EMP.
Preparations: walk-in faraday room; private gun range to protect family (???); “manufacturing facility to produce anything [he] wants or needs”. Well, at least until the EMP goes down, at which point all those fancy machining mills and computerized cutting torches will count for nothing.
Building project: ‘Baby Bunker’.
Because all three of his daughters are—or have recently been—pregnant at the same time:
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

Well, at least two-thirds of the daughters are at least hypothetically on-board with dad’s prepping, and make some dehydrated baby food. Hey, thumbs-up for dehydration; it’s the best.

Anyway, we spend the next 20 minutes watching yet another steel box (closely resembling a trash compactor) being welded together. Ugh. Once again, I completely fail to understand the thinking behind the prevalent idea of bunker-as-survival.
Are these people seriously thinking of living long-term in underground tin cans? Where’s your water going to come from? If you’re going to be relying on electricity for lights/heat/cooking— because nobody concerned about life without Juice ever actually considers living without Juice—how are you going to generate it? Where’s your waste going to go?
On this last point, Kevin at least spends a minute considering it, before adding a ten-foot pipe off the side of the bunker. I’m still not clear if the trash tube is just for household waste (like, food wrappers and papers?) or sewage? Either way, Kevin seems to think it’d be a good place to put a dead body—because suicide rates are really high in bunkers! Wow, can’t say I’m surprised. Huh, in that case, maybe buttoning up underground isn’t such a great idea?

Whatever, I have a feeling the bunker we’re seeing get built is maybe a show model for Kevin’s business. In which case, this segment is really a 20-minute advertisement.

During his closing remarks, Kevin proclaims how, “in America we have a lot of creature comforts that other countries don’t have. If you’re willing to work hard, you can gain anything, do anything you like. Live in any kind of home, drive any type of car, have a swimming pool, whatever you like!”
UGH. People, WAKE UP. That ‘American dream’ lifestyle of creature comforts, convenience, and consumption (and bunker-survival, too, for that matter) can only be possible because of abundant and cheap petroleum. Without the Black Stuff, it’s a dead-fucking-end.
And besides, if people like this continue to affirm that the single best thing about Amerika is the vast array of consumer goods one can purchase (after being coerced into willful slavery—exchanging one’s time for the idea of money—of course), we deserve collapse.

The Suburbs: Sprawl II (the Video!)

Like the other examples of Arcade Fire’s multimedia collaborations with Vincent Morisset, the Sprawl II interactive video is incredible. I absolutely love the idea of using interaction to turn one’s computer into more than just a “black mirror.
However, it’s hard to convey a story or idea when you’re constantly getting stuck in herky-jerky mini-loops while you’re flailing about in front of your webcam.

And so, I’m going to focus on the ‘traditional’ music video.

We open with some long shots of generic dilapidated suburban wasteland, when Reginé Chassagne exits her bungalow, darling as always, even when clad in a cardboard dress and sporting giant vintage headphones—no white earbuds for her! I have to wonder about the paper dress: does Reginé wear it to associate herself and the band with recycling and general eco-ness? Or because it is simply easier to tear off later?
Anyway, we see that this decaying ’burb is also inhabited by anonymous men and women, made faceless by what looks like smears of oil paints. I’m going to go out on a limb and propose that these are the postmodern industrial wage slaves, suburban bluepill zombie captives of the ‘American Dream’. We see a couple dressed for a day at the office (“all those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown”) sit in their driveway, lifeless. Another woman waters her concrete mindlessly; Reginé happens by, singing her line about “just punching the clock”, and the woman begins to scratch at herself. Reginé then curtseys at the man and woman, who also start scratching and begin a rudimentary form of what we will later see as a big synchronized ‘burb-zombie dance.

So, just in this video’s first minute, we see Arcade Fire acting upon ‘burb-dwellers as a catalyst for change and liberation (“kicking up sparks to set the flames free”) against the crippling force of sedentary inertia.

Next we see the paper-mache bobbleheaded versions of Arcade Fire (last seen in these invitations for the Sprawl project) hanging out in an abandoned lot behind an apartment complex. For starters, they’re outside, not indoors where they would be at the mercy of any number of infotoxin-emitting glowing screens. Secondly, what are they doing in the abandoned lot? Playing in the tall weeds with a butterfly net! Exploring and enjoying Nature! Imagine that!

A moment later we see two of the bigheads pushing each other in a shopping cart in an empty carpark—repurposing a machine and using it not as intended (for fun instead of for consumption)!

Unfortunately, it looks like that’s about the extent of the analyzable material, because the rest of the video is all dancing. Nothing wrong with that! I think I do perceive a difference in the dancing styles of Regine and the faceless zombies—Reginé’s is smoother and more free-flowing, while theirs is frankly tortured-looking: much of their dancing looks like they’re trying to tear out of their skin or clothes. And who can blame them? In general, I think it’s safe to say that Reginé’s arm-flailing dancing is the authentic, polar opposite of the too-cool “kids standing with their arms folded tight”.

Doomsday Preppers: Jeremy

Our next featured prepper is Jeremy, from somewhere. That’s right, no last name or location. Which means that so far, he’s either the only one smart enough to not want to broadcast his preparations to the world, or the only one who doesn’t have something to gain from appearing on the show.
This one’s pretty light on content, but hey, I can always find a jumping-off point to chip away at The Mess.
The issue he claims to be preparing for is a collapse of society resulting from peak oil. “When the pumps go dry, people won’t be able to go to work; when that happens, infrastructure starts to fail.” What’s wrong with the scenario Jeremy outlines? Here’s a good place to examine some of the issues (which are all profoundly interrelated, of course) at the heart of modern civilized life.
Because our educational system is essentially based on a prison model, its main motivation is to keep children out of the job market until graduation. Because 95% of the material taught in schools is unnecessary for real life, students graduate with no real survival skills (because when the food is under lock and key at the grocery store, you don’t need to know how to find or grow it, only how to get the green pieces of paper to buy it). If you were to take away people’s jobs—or, in the case of oil shortages, the means to travel to those jobs—they would be unable to provide for themselves, having no skills that would enable them to survive, in a system that requires money to acquire food.
This, I think, is the real motivating fear behind conventional end-of-the-world types: that a disaster will cause modern  infrastructure to collapse, resulting in waves of jobless—and therefore moneyless, homeless, and foodless—people, and the terrifying possibility that they will be among that ravenous, helpless horde would truly be the end of the world for them.
If that scenario scares the shit out of you, you’re probably pretty damn civilized. Because if you described to me someone who had no permanent home, had no money in his pockets, and no discernable occupation, I’d say it sounds a whole lot like a Neanderthal, or a nomadic Amerindian, but that could be a Bushman or a hobo just as easily. Ask a tribesman what he does for a living and he’ll look at you as if you had two heads, because tribal societies don’t differentiate life from occupation, the same way they don’t distinguish life from religion. Life is their occupation, as is their religion. And unfortunately, as the Neolithic lifestyle has continued to snowball for ten thousand years, people of Our culture have assumed that Our way is the One Right Way For People To Live, and anyone doing something different needs to be converted/reeducated/neutralized.
Fuck, man. This stuff is so completely interconnected that I have a degree in it, and I still have trouble breaking it down so that it’s palatable for the masses. Just have an open mind and read the Daniel Quinn books. Please.

Where were we? Right, Jeremy and his wife filter water to make Hot Tub Hot Chocolate, which is sure to be a favorite beverage of the post-apocalyptic world. Mmmmm!
He brings up something I’d never heard of before: getting antibiotics from the pet store for cheaper stockpiling. Apparently fish and people use the same medicines. Huh. Who knew?
Jeremy has also bought an M35 2-½-ton truck for use as a ‘bug-out vehicle’. Drives it around. Woo, burning fossil fuels for entertainment. Also, I would think that driving a big tan army truck to evacuate would just attract unwanted attention.

Something that was did surprise me during this segment: during a commercial break, there was an advert blatantly targeting preppers, for Wise Company food buckets. I’m really surprised it’s taken them until this far into the season to run this kind of ad.

Doomsday Preppers: Mike Mester

Episode six introduces Mike Mester from Georgia. He manages logistics for warehouses at work and at home too it seems, because he claims to have enough food stacked up to feed TEN people for two years.
We’ve got to the point where I could do a ‘prep by numbers’ and it would probably come out pretty similar to the final product. Actually, from here on, I might start a condensed breakdown of these segments.
Mike Mester. ATL. Civil unrest from Global Economic Collapse.
Solution? Type 1, stockpile.
One): son is 250 miles away at college. His bugout kit will last four days. Family plans to come get him once the dust settles, in 30 days. If I were the son, instead of waiting around for mommy and daddy to come rescue me, I’d grab my gear and a buddy or two and start hiking to a halfway point to link up with the family.
Two): Family’s plan to rescue son relies on gas-guzzling SUV. They need to ditch the Merkamobile and get a car with decent fuel economy. 16 mpg might seem okay now, but in the crunch of a post-collapse world it’d be downright horrible (Who am I kidding? It’s horrible now, too). My unassuming nineteen-year-old station wagon gets at least 20, maybe 25 when I’ve got it tuned up.
While he’s filling and cycling through his tanks of stored petrol, he asks, “But what happens when fuel is not available?” Here I expect them to whip like, a sweet folding bike or a solar Segway out of the trunk. But no, just a couple more gas tanks. And what happens when that fuel is gone, Mike? Eventually these supply-hoarding survivalists are going to have to face facts and embrace a sustainable solution.

They do have a pretty cool idea I’d never seen before. They combine leaves and shredded newspaper into a slurry, and then pack it into forms; once dried, these briquettes get burned in a neat little indoor stove. If you live in the suburbs where there there aren’t a lot of options for firewood, it’s really not a bad idea.
Luckily, this seriously Type 1 family redeems themselves at the end, by starting a backyard garden, and by building community by giving extra German Shepherd pups (future attack dogs) to neighbors.

Doomsday Preppers: Kevin O’Brien

This one doesn’t get a picture…because the NatGeo site doesn’t update beyond the premier episodes, and this one’s so boring he doesn’t even show up on a google image search. So…

Kevin O’Brien is a restaurant manager from Florida. He’s concerned about losing his home due to rising sea levels. That’s valid, global warming melting ice caps, sea levels rise, low areas get flooded and so on…oh, what? He’s concerned about rising sea levels due to polar shift? Sorry dude, you just lost me. As I understand it, polar shift has to do with magnetic poles, not with continents drifting around like air-hockey pucks. Florida will not wind up where Alaska is now, or at least not anytime soon.

Anyway (maybe he’s really prepping for something hyperinflation-related like the rest of them, and the producers figured we were starting to get sick of that, and made him pick something else), he has decided to buy property in Tennessee, and move his family there. Funny, I always thought the survivalist heaven was the intermountain West.

Of course, it’s just 130 acres and a barn, so they will have to build their new home when they get there. Wife says she ‘doesn’t want a bunker’. Good. They look at pictures of bottle walls and earthships. Narrator talks as if it’s going to be something actually innovative and unconventional. Kevin says he wants a really solid home…so their new place will likely be made of reinforced concrete. Sorry, sounds like a bunker to me. He wants something that is waterproof, fireproof, earthquakeproof, and bulletproof…clearly, dude hasn’t looked into cob building, not to mention things like strawbale, earth-bermed, cordwood, or the other green building techniques. Which is too bad, because while cob isn’t really bulletproof, you wouldn’t have to worry about being shot at if nobody knows you’re there, and from what they show, a cob cottage with a living roof could totally blend into the rolling landscape of TN.

Like this!

Their energy setup seems pretty nice—TEN big solar cells—plus an array of black plastic water barrels for thermal mass, always a solid plan. They work good for a solar shower tower, too.

His motivation for defense and security is that “people will know we have food”. Dude, if you’re moving out to the country with intent to homestead (because that’s what it sounds like to me), you need to make friends with your neighbors. Too much of this modern survivalist movement is focused on complete self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Like, I’m all about those kind of things, but do it in the context of a community. I see survivalists buying rural property, setting up their little bunker retreats, and then hunkering down. Don’t think your local neighbors don’t know what you’re up to.

He already has hundreds of pounds of dry staples stored in their FL home, in 2-liter soda bottles stacked pretty neat. It’s also good that they intend to grow most of their food, with the rice and dry goods as supplementary to the fresh stuff—so many of the other families on this show focus only on the food hoard of canned goods, and never even mention gardening.

In all, there wasn’t a lot to this one, mostly drama with the kids not wanting to move, and who can blame them? However, I would really like to see them follow up with this family once they get their country place up and running.