Thinking out loud
Well, it's one of my theories. It goes a bit like this... I was kidnapped by aliens for reasons I cannot yet fathom and whisked across the universe at impossible speeds to a planet almost identical to my own. In fact, it's so much like my old planet that I almost didn't notice anything was different. But then I checked the BBC News website. And although I'd be the first to acknowledge that our political leaders are mad as baked batshit on the planet where I'm from, none of them would propose anything quite as mad as your Charles Clarke did today.
I've decided to start taking screengrabs of BBC news items, rather than link to them. This is purely down to the BBC's policy of re-editing live stories without providing an archive of the previous versions. Twice now I've found myself citing facts reported by the BBC which then just disappeared from the article in question. This obviously makes the BBC next to useless as even a short-term reference source until they sort out this problem.
Of course there's a very serious problem with posting screen-shots of a news story. You have no way of knowing for sure whether or not I've altered the image in some way prior to posting it here. You can check it against the actual story if I provide a link, but if the whole point of my posting a screen-shot is the BBC's tendency to alter their stories on the fly (which I have no problem with) without providing a permanent archive of each published version (which I have a big problem with), then how can you possibly be sure that any discrepancy between my version and the "current version" isn't a result of the BBC's editorial policy?
Naturally this water is further muddied by the fact that I have in the past photoshopped screengrabs for comedy effect and will doubtlessly do so again. It's up to you, dear reader, to distinguish the two.
I have faith that you'll make the right choices.
Which is not something I'd have said about Dubya Bush until recently, and probably still won't, but he made a pretty intriguing announcement yesterday which I believe bears examining (that's a New York Times link by the way, which needs a login)... I'll reproduce the opening paragraphs below and you'll just have to trust me on them, OK?
With fears mounting that high energy costs will crimp economic growth, President Bush called on Americans yesterday to conserve gasoline by driving less. He also issued a directive for all federal agencies to cut their own energy use and to encourage employees to use public transportation.Hmmmm... even though it's couched very much in "temporary / brief time of emergency" terms, Bush's comments seem rather foreboding. For Dubya, of all presidents, to suggest that Americans should begin taking fuel conservation measures is quite startling in my view.
"We can all pitch in," Mr. Bush said. "People just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption," he added, and that if Americans are able to avoid going "on a trip that's not essential, that would be helpful."
Mr. Bush promised to dip further into the government's petroleum reserve, if necessary, and to continue relaxing environmental and transportation rules in an effort to get more gasoline flowing.
- President Calls for Less Driving to Conserve Gas
New York Times (September 27, 2005)
Haaaaang on a second... I really was abducted by aliens, wasn't I? The Dubya Bush on my planet would never say that.
In 2001, [...] Ari Fleischer, then Mr. Bush's press secretary, responded to a question about reducing American energy consumption by saying "that's a big no."Can Katrina and Rita really have dealt such a savage blow to Bush's "American way of life"? I suggest people have a gander at George Monbiot's column in today's Guardian (It's better to cry wolf now than to wait until the oil has run out). To be honest, it covers a lot of the same ground as I covered on this blog and elsewhere (so my loyal regular reader can expect to feel well-informed whilst reading it) but it's written with Monbiot's usual clarity and straight-to-the-pointedness (i.e. you'll not have to deal with quite so many made-up compound words if you get the info from him) and is well worth a read.
"The president believes that it's an American way of life," Mr. Fleischer said.
I've been writing on the subject of peak oil for approaching eight years, and while I can't speak for others like me, I can assure you that I don't feel any great sense of vindication to finally see the issue enter popular consciousness. If anything, the gradual appearance of the phrase "peak oil" in the mainstream media has brought with it an eerie sense of dislocation. Watching people thinking the thoughts that horrified and scared me 6 years ago is unlikely to be a barrel of laughs from my perspective. And the more real the problem becomes, the less I feel like talking about it. It doesn't feel like I'm warning people against a possible future any more, so much as being the bearer of bad news.
Incidentally, my web-stats show a major spike in traffic coming through the article published on Head Heritage over the past couple of days. Has it been referenced somewhere new? I can't help but be a little interested in who chooses to cite me (either as a reference or a cautionary example).
Way back when talk on the internet consisted of Usenet newsgroups, I wrote a piece about drug law reform which took a much more libertarian philosophical stance than I might do today. The piece was then forwarded to a far right newsgroup - perfectly legitimately, I stress (crossposting, particularly without permission, is frowned upon... but it happens an awful lot and is actually one of the dynamics that made Usenet so interesting until it got drowned in spam).
But in this instance I suddenly got a barrage of hatemail from people who clearly sent nasty messages to anyone who might post a prominent article on an extremist newgroup. Interestingly they were all, without exception, profoundly apologetic when I responded and explained the situation, and all admitted to not having read my article.
I've no idea why I wandered into that particular anecdote. Please don't assume that I was making some point about giving articles on extremist rightwing hate sites more consideration than you normally would (though I guess it wouldn't hurt to actually read an article prior to hatemailing the author).
Anyways, given the possibility that western civilisation may not have long left, I'll finish by urging you to check out Serenity sooner rather than later. This film from film-and-TV-making genius Joss Whedon will probably be a bit more enjoyable to fans of his cruelly-cancelled and unfinished Firefly TV series, but I'm confident it'll still rock like a bag of bastids to those of you coming to it new. Go see this film. It'll be great.