Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dreamflesh blog (and other news)

My good friend and flat-mate is soon off for a month's carousing on the west coast of America (ostensibly to attend an academic conference and interview some people for a book he's working on... but it's really about the carousing), and has decided to resurrect his blog in honour of this event. I suggest therefore that you shuffle on over to Dreamflesh. I also recommend noting it's presence in my blogroll thingie and clicking it often.

The other recent entry on the blog links is Merrick's mp3 blog, Dust On The Stylus. As well as being one of the most tireless activists around on all manner of groovy issues, Merrick is an enthusiastically opinionated walking music encyclopaedia. There are obviously genres and subcultures in which my historical specialisation trumps Merrick; but as an all-round muso I would have to admit that he probably wins out. Which is a pretty full-on thing to say; even if I do say so myself.

While in the news, all manner of mad shit is happening...


Deep Throat

The identity of Deep Throat (Woodward and Bernstein's informant on the Watergate story) has finally been revealed as Mark Felt.

Unlike - I suspect - most people, I had heard Felt's name before (by virtue of being a bit of a Nixon-buff) but that's about all it amounted to. If you'd asked me; "Who was Mark Felt?" a few days ago, I'd probably have said "wasn't he one of the FBI guys who investigated Watergate?" (he wasn't by the way. At least, not directly).

That said, I noticed one interesting bit of trivia that perhaps others have missed. In one of Nixon's biographies - The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers - Mark Felt is mentioned only once:
Just two weeks after the [Watergate] arrests, again in the Oval Office with the tapes running, Nixon and Colson twice discussed the notion of faking a break-in at his own party headquarters to make people think the Democrats were as guilty as the Republicans of this sort of activity...

No such phony break-in ever took place, but a similar one may have done. Three months later, in an apparent break-in at the office of the president's California physician, Dr. John Lungren, cash was ignored, but a file containing Nixon's patient records left disordered on the floor. Haldeman and an aide then called the FBI at the highest level fifteen times, urging that the bureau issue a press release on the case.

Assistant Director Mark Felt turned down the request, saying it was a matter for the local police. Such was the persistence of Nixon's men, though, that Felt came to suspect someone at the White House..."
That single mention of Felt isn't particularly unusual, except that it just happens to occur on the same page (within a few paragraphs) as this line: "Two young Washington Post reporters named Woodward and Bernstein, however, were already boring towards the truth."

My theory is that Summers knew the identity of Deep Throat but agreed to keep it secret (for one reason or another). However he couldn't resist leaving a tiny pointer in the text of his book. Something that would only ever be noticed by people who already knew. A very very exclusive private joke.


Peak Oil

Also in the news, Exxon Mobil say "Ohhhhhh shit!" with regards to peak oil. Actually, the whole peak oil story flared briefly in the mainstream media recently. Even USA Today had a piece on it. Of course, the story was dead by the following day and most people will forget they ever read it. Especially as it contained this mind-blowing section:
Princeton University geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes predicts "a permanent state of oil shortage."

According to these experts, it will take a decade or more before conservation measures and new technologies can bridge the gap between supply and demand, and even then the situation will be touch and go.

None of this will affect vacation plans this summer - Americans can expect another season of beach weekends and road trips to Graceland relatively unimpeded by the cost of getting there. Though gas prices are up, they are expected to remain below $2.50 a gallon...

And there are many who doubt the doomsday scenario will ever come true...

"This is just silly," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research in Winchester, Mass. "It's not like industrial civilization is going to come crashing down."
I honestly don't know which is more distressing... the onset of the collapse of industrial civilisation or having to read that "Americans can expect another season of beach weekends and road trips to Graceland" in a news item discussing it.


Clash of civilisations

Meanwhile Iraq and Afghanistan continue to see violence on a level that suggests to me at least, that US policy in the region is succeeding perfectly. As soon as the violence dies down, it will be impossible to justify the presence of more than a quarter of a million heavily-armed US troops in a peaceful and stable foreign country.

Hence all the koran-flushing and prisoner-humiliation and Laura Bush's Middle East trip and what have you (incidentally... please read my thoughts on emergent intelligence within institutions prior to criticising this allegation; you will almost certainly continue to disagree with me, but at least then you'll be attacking my real argument and not one you made up). People criticise Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Perle and even Dubya (who shouldn't really be expected to think about such complicated things) because there was no credible "exit strategy". Can't you see them meeting up at the Crawford ranch and laughing long and hard about that? "Exit Strategy!?" squeals Cheney to the others, "For God's sake folks! We've only just arrived!"


Europe

And the French and the Dutch have decided to torpedo the EU constitution. I can hardly blame them to be honest. I mean, when even a pro-European integrationist like me felt decidedly lukewarm towards the document, what hope for convincing entire populations? Especially when those trying to do the convincing are generally the least trusted people within society.

Ah bollocks to it anyways. I see this as potentially being the first serious fracture in the European programme. Frankly I'd rather hoped we'd get a little further down the road before the fragmentation began. Unless something is done fast (and it's by no means too late just yet) the euro could be fatally damaged by this, and that would be a tragedy in my view. The last thing Europe needs to be dealing with right now is a completely artificial financial crisis. There are far more important things to be focussing on.


And you should pop over and read George Monbiot's latest article. I would argue that you should be doing that by default, of course.

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