queue of approaching apocalypses
Monday, May 1 2006
As many of you may know, May is "May Awareness Month" as in "CAN I SAY 'MAY' IN THIS CONTEXT?" "YOU MAY SAY 'MAY' IN THIS CONTEXT." Today was the first day of May, and I've always been a bigger fan of May First than I have been of other special firsts of months such as April Fools' Day or The Day of The Dead.
We got a call this morning at 8:00 am from one of Gretchen's colleagues at the local community college wondering whether or not she and Gretchen should actually do their tutoring shifts at the writing center today. It had been declared a "Day Without Immigrants" by various Hispanic immigrant rights groups (in protest of draconian anti-illegal-immigrant legislation passed by the currently-reactionary American House of Representatives). Protocol for such events are very important to someone like Gretchen, who spent years as a labor organizer. But later in the day there were conflicting reports from friends about whether or not gringos had actually been encouraged to join in today's one-day labor walkout.
As for me, at first I had plans to just stay home and work remotely on web projects. But in the end I did go out and even bought something at Bed, Bath & Beyond: a coffee maker to replace the one whose urn was shattered by a houseguest. (For the past few weeks I had been getting by on the $15 Goodwill espresso machine, but it had recently begun smelling like electrical fire.)
I've been tickled pink for the past day or so by reports of Stephen Colbert's performance as host of the weekend's White House Correspondents' Dinner. Remind me, White House correspondents, what exactly do they do for their paychecks? Failures of their reportage are responsible for a respectable fraction of all the shenangigans the Bushies have managed to get away with, beginning with the Florida non-recount. And there was Stephen, completely in character, shitting unmentionables into the Easter basket of conventional White House protocol. It was all there, Guantanamo, secret prisons, state-sanction torture, illegal NSA wiretaps, invading Iraq for no good reason, and even the absurd conflict with reality itself. Presenting these things as though they were praiseworthy gave Stephen license to say anything he wanted, and boy did he ever! Never has George W. Bush received such a humiliating public fuck you in the ass, and right there, only a few feet away! Rarely do our fantasies of vengeance (or even just the mildest forms thereof) ever have a prayer of being realized while the vengeance can still taste sweet. Colbert's performance will go down in history. Many years from now, long after we've had a chance to tally the damage done by Bush and his henchmen, a movie is going to be made about these times and someone will have to play Stephen Colbert giving that performance. Who knows, maybe by then Stephen Colbert will have been significant enough to have a whole movie made about him in the manner of Man on the Moon. He's most of the way there on sheer balls alone.
As satisfying as Colbert's performance was, the resulting reportage filed by White House correspondents was telling. They ignored or marginalized it, playing up a lame skit Bush did with a Bush impersonator instead. They wouldn't know news if it snuck up and popped a hail of caps in their mothers' asses. Most telling of all was the article written by Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. Colbert's performance was such a shock to her sensibilities that she didn't feel the need to make any mention of it whatsoever in our nation's newspaper of record. Colbert was the elephant in the room, the distilled spirit of everything she's been ignoring for the last five point five years. Her article, like a red calf born in Isræl, is a sure sign that history was in the making.
While I'm on the subject of Judgement Day, I'd like to share a thought I had today about Peak Oil and the recent appearance of one of its (currently) least-obfuscatable symptoms, $3/gallon gasoline.1 For those who are kind of foggy about it, Peak Oil basically means The End of Mankind as We Know It, since once we've passed it, global economic growth rapidly becomes impossible. Particularly in the West, human infrastructure and arrangements have come to depend on increasing supplies of abundant easy-to-use energy almost as much as life has come to depend on oxygen. Notice I said increasing supplies of abundant easy-to-use energy, not just energy. This is because our economies depend on continual expansion; anything less is defined as a recession. Without increasing amounts of petroleum, growth depends on difficult-to-use energy sources, sources for which our systems are completely unprepared. I'm not talking about being unprepared to use hippie things like solar, wind, hemp, and vibes, I'm talking about being unprepared to drive coal-powered cars and mow suburban lawns with electric-powered lawn mowers.
Peak Oil is an enviro-secularist's answer to Christian Judgment Day. It comes with its own signs and we enviro-secularists have our own pleasant giddiness as we contemplate the imminent overthrow of the existing irrational order. We see our gas-guzzling neighbors gnashing their teeth and selfishly repenting of their environmental sins, trading in their Hummers for Prii (is that the plural?), if only to put off the eternal damnation of $50 refuelings. Unlike Christians, of course, we have a whole queue of approaching apocalypses lumbering in our direction.
1Of course some day in the near future I will look back at this entry and chuckle about how cheap gas was in May of 2006. My father says gas stations are stocking up on the digit "4." You know what that means.
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