Thursday, March 10

Coexist, But Don't Share the Road

I didn't think it was funny when the Moto-Fascista with the "COEXIST" bumper sticker cut me off turning into the middle school this morning. I guess all religions are accepted in her mind, but not all modes of transportation.

I saw another bike commuter in Denver West this morning which was heartening. I caught him at the same intersection where the boy was almost squished by MFers yesterday. I tried to acknowledge that it was a fine morning for riding but he took off just after I stopped and a few seconds before the green. He seemed like he was in a hurry, but then crawled up the easy grade into NREL as I passed him at my normal pace. I finally did offer a "good morning" as I passed, and he mumbled something through his beard.

Speaking of coexisting...I read an article yesterday about the 2008 presidential campaign and how both major candidates were not emphasizing how important it was and is for Americans to conserve, truly conserve, energy. We consume a hugely disproportionate share of the earth's resources out of selfish national greed, driven primarily by Corporate America and their advertising propagandists. But instead of McCain or Obama telling us the straight truth, much like Carter did in the '70s, they both pandered to our desire to see the American Dream come full circle.

What we DO need in the U.S. are leaders (not politicians, but LEADERS) who will tell us the straight truth and who will get us going down the right path of conservation and sustainability. There is nothing wrong with cutting back on our consumption. Look at us: fattest nation on earth, driving-est MFers on the planet and chugging full steam ahead with no thought for how our children are going to survive the collapse of our fragile framework for economics and politics.

I think of the Flying Party from Douglas' Adams completely misnamed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "Trilogy". In the story there is a large party that had been (that is, the building containing the party had been) fitted with engines to make it fly through the sky over a certain planet. It flew about for generations as the party continued. And so the story goes…

"One of the problems, and it's one which is obviously going to get worse, is that all the people at the party are either the children or the grandchildren or the great-grandchildren of the people who wouldn't leave in the first place, and because of all the business about selective breeding and regressive genes and so on, it means that all the people now at the party are either absolutely fanatical partygoers, or gibbering idiots, or, more and more frequently, both. Either way, it means that, genetically speaking, each succeeding generation is now less likely to leave than the preceding one. So other factors come into operation, like when the drink is going to run out. Now, because of certain things which have happened which seemed like a good idea at the time (and one of the problems with a party which never stops is that all the things which only seem like a good idea at parties continue to seem like good ideas), that point seems still to be a long way off."

And then:

"The transition from full-time cocktail party to part-time raiding party came with ease, and did much to add that extra bit of zest and swing to the whole affair which was badly needed at this point because of the enormous number of times that the band had already played all the numbers it knew over the years. They looted, they raided, they held whole cities for ransom for fresh supplies of cheese crackers, avocado dip, spare ribs and wine and spirits, which would now get piped aboard from floating tankers. The problem of when the drink is going to run out is, however, going to have to be faced one day. The planet over which they are floating is no longer the planet it was when they first started floating over it. It is in bad shape. The party had attacked and raided an awful lot of it, and no one has ever succeeded in hitting it back because of the erratic and unpredictable way in which it lurches round the sky."

And perhaps the most telling point of Adams' story is this one line, predicting the collapse, the end of the party:

"The party was now a mortally wounded party - all the fun had gone out of it, and the longer it avoided the ground, the heavier was going to be the crash when finally it hit it"

How fitting, what a perfect metaphor for modern America. I'm going to leave it at that.


  1. The party is over, agree with that, just do not be one of the last to leave, it will be like getting out of a theater on fire.

  2. I keep thinking about the book I just finished reading: The Party's Over by Richard Heinberg, and Douglas Adams' flying party seems to be a much more perfect analogy to our current situation.