Archive for March, 2014

We Don’t Want to Know

March 20, 2014

Yesterday I was returning home on my bicycle from an anti-growth rally, rolling quickly downhill, when a runner suddenly burst out into the street from between two parked cars. She was simultaneously running and talking on her cell phone and didn’t see me. I came very close to hitting her. It strikes me as a near perfect image of something I see happening.

I believe we’re heading for catastrophe. Not just America, but this whole global system that we’ve promulgated — insisted upon, really. Everyone’s hooked now. They talk about revolutions in communication, finance, energy, education, entertainment, and blah blah blah. Everything is happening very, very quickly. We’re making all these changes without carefully considering them. Anyone who would suggest that we slow it down and think it over first is a Luddite. It’s inevitable that one of these so-called revolutions is going to get us. You can’t keep running forward blindly, obsessed with your gadget, and not have a big accident at some point. For example, if cell phones do cause brain cancer, it’s not something most users — let alone manufacturers — want to know. Most people dismiss any evidence that suggests this is happening without even looking at it. This is what always happens before a catastrophe: People become deaf to warnings. This is happening with climate change, the weirdness of the financial world, energy usage, as well as our addiction to technology. I don’t know where it will come from, but something is going to get us.

How Dark Can It Get?

March 11, 2014

I saw this startling comment attached to an article about America’s secret courts and the “War On Terror” in today’s New York Times.

First, frighten the population into thinking that another attack is imminent.
Formalize the process, calling it The War On Terror. This ensures that it’s a never ending open ended conflict, as it’s a war not against an enemy, but against an idea. You can’t destroy an idea, and so the war can go on forever.
Then, tell the people you need more power and control to keep them safe. Reassure them with the lie that it’s temporary.
Issue secret orders allowing spy agencies specifically forbidden to operate on domestic soil to operate on domestic soil.
Sign into a law a decree allowing the leader to have citizens suspected of terrorism to be arrested and detained forever without benefit of counsel, or failing that, to be assassinated.
If they complain, point out that if they haven’t done anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about.
Set up secret courts that make secret laws that make the illegal things you’re doing legal.
Stonewall any attempts to rein in the military/spy axis. Give them all the money they want with weak or no oversight. Let them grow sufficiently powerful that they answer to no one.
I grew up under a totalitarian Eastern European regime, and can see very little difference between how that was run, and where we’re headed. Very little.
This was not the America, the beacon of freedom, I signed up for when I studied to become a citizen. As soon as I retire, I’m gone. There will be blood in the streets here in less than a decade.

Progress Report #92

March 1, 2014

There’s been a big change in my book project—one that’s been a long time coming.

I’ve always described  Street Song as the story of my fifteen years living on the street. I thought that sounded intriguing. And it really did happen. But my actual work has always pushed, on its own, in a slightly different direction. The focus has been on the chain of events that led me to the street and then my first year and a half there. That was the most eventful period. Those last thirteen and a half years would read more like Waiting for Godot. Because of my persistent description of the story as those fifteen years, I’ve been struggling to figure out how the hell I was going to compress events enough to write this book without it taking up the rest of my life. A week ago, the solution finally stepped forward: Stop after that first year and a half on the street and cover the other thirteen years and a half in a single chapter. There was no struggle. It was clearly the correct solution. The change lightens my load considerably and it makes the book much tighter. I’ve done all the research, so if Street Song did well enough that there was real interest in those thirteen years of quiet observation and waiting, I could still write that book. But not now.

I’m still putting together the package (sample chapters, outline, and other material) that my agent will be taking around to publishers in search of a contract. I’m two-thirds of the way through the outline and have one more sample chapter to finish. Deadline: April 1st. I’m quite exhausted, dreadfully exhausted, but I see what needs to be done. And it will get done.