“When it comes to the exigencies of energy, our rich, high-tech Western societies aren’t any different from poor developing societies or, for that matter, from ancient Rome. All our societies require enormous flows of high-quality energy just to sustain, let alone raise, their complexity and order (to keep themselves, in the clumsy terminology of physics, far from thermodynamic equilibrium). Without constant inputs of high-quality energy, complex societies aren’t resilient to external shock. In fact, they almost certainly can’t endure. These ever present dangers drive societies to relentlessly search for energy sources with the highest possible return on investment (EROI). They also drive societies to aggressively control and organize the territories that supply their energy and to extend their interests, engagements, and often their political and economic domination far beyond their current borders—as we see today with American involvement in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.” – Thomas Homer-Dixon The Upside of Down
Archive for October, 2010
It was a Thursday. The sun broke the horizon at 5:03 am. The sky was clear and bright by seven. The westerly wind outside the Marlborough Hospital was blowing at a calm 8 miles per hour. It was a breeze that could go unnoticed. I would be in the world by 7:28 am.
The doctor in charge was 38-year-old Bahy N. Louca, an Arab immigrant having graduated from Alexandria University, Egypt, twelve years before he was to bring me into this world. He would pass away four days before my 27th birthday. Allah Yarhamak Dr. Louca.
By noon the temperature would reach high 70s. People would be talking about how the Red Sox lost the night before to the Indians 5-7. In the evening the Jewish in town would sit down to eat matzah to celebrate the second Seder of Passover, a recognition of the flight of the Hebrews from Egypt.
Jimmy Carter was running around the country trying to convince voters he should be the next president over incumbent Gerald Ford, who was the first to enter such a position after the resignation of the nortorious Nixon. By November Carter succeeded. Trust of government was thin. Vietnam just ended poorly and the economy had hit the lowest point since the Great Depression.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took five Oscars including Best Film and Best Actor, Jack Nicholson.
The cover story in Newsweek reads “How Safe is Nuclear Energy?” A Chrysler advertisement claims, “Chrysler Sales Have Nearly Doubled. Proof That America Still Cares About Excellence.”
Marlboro Man was selling cigarettes from Marlboro Country and you could smoke on planes and in public buildings.
The People’s Republic of China was forming, Lebanon was breaking out into a civil war, and rumors of Israel aquiring nuclear weapons were spreading.
What was life like the day I was born? This was the question I contemplated. If anyone knows anything more about what it felt like to be alive on April 15, 1976 please share. I really can’t remember.
“Sorry, it’s company policy,” the woman behind the counter recites as she pours a coffee into a styrofoam cup after I plead with her to fill the one I’ve brought. An argument ensues as I explain the savings her company would have on their bottom line if everyone brought their own cup. “Sorry, it’s company policy,” she rewinds and plays back to me. “Do you know where this cup goes next?” I question her. “In the trash,” she proudly answers. Exactly.
My watch broke and I sent it to three different places including the manufacturer. It came back in the mail with an “Unable to be fixed sticker” on its glass face. A new one of “equal value” accompanied it.
There is a tidal force behind the way our society functions that is impossible to swim against. Idealism acquiesces into “choosing battles.” How can one choose to accept something while knowing it to be wrong?
What are my influences? What makes me who I am? What makes me believe what I believe?
I fear water thanks to a movie I watched when I was eight. I lack trust in relationships because of a few gone wrong. I believe the creation of something that cannot naturally be uncreated is fundamentally immoral. Why?
Why is it that I can’t cry?
Why is it that I fear armed robbery?
We look to Thomas Edison as if he were the one who lit the first light and then look for what it were that would influence such a mind. If we can reflect on his brilliance, it should only be that we admire his grasp on the times. The creation of light came well before the patent. He fashioned modern methodology into a convenient version. It’s like celebrating the Edmund Hillarys of the world without a recognition of the Tenzing Norgay.
We strive for an individualism in the face of an overwhelming manifestation of the collective thought. I’m humbled to think I am but a slight murmur in the orchestra of sound emanating from the edges of a galaxy.
“It has been a long road…From a mountain coolie, a bearer of loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about in planes and worries about income tax.”—Tenzing Norgay