Seussian Paradigm Shift

Sharon March 2nd, 2009

Today Is Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. Today is the day that anti-coal activists try to shut down the capitol coal plant.  Utility shut offs for those who can’t pay their bills have hit a new high.  Last week New Scientist magazine published its prediction that we would hit four degrees of climate change, and its apocalyptic vision of what that might mean. Friday we learned that economy had contracted nearly twice as much as predicted.  This Friday we can expect to find out that we’ve lost between 3/4 of a million and million jobs.  Somehow, all these things came together in my mind…

I once read an incredibly entertaining literary critical analysis of _The Cat in the Hat_ which began from the premise that all the action in TCITH is an attempt to fill up the overwhelming absence of the mother from the scene.  She has “gone out for the day” leaving her children untended, something she clearly is in the habit of doing, since there’s a sequel with the same issue embedded.  The glimpses we get of “mothers new gown” and her empty bedstead stand in implicit reference to what it might be that mother is out doing, while the The Cat tries desperately to distract the children from thinking about it.

Now whether or not you think this is an excessively close reading, you must admit, it adds a bit of engaging frisson to one’s 87th repetition of the book.  The fun thing about Dr. Seuss is that there’s so much there to play with, even for the grownups.  The books can generally be sung, recited from memory (and how many parents do know a full repetoir of the books perfectly?), sped up to get the kids to bed faster, have the words changed for pornographic or political discussions between exhausted parents desperate for a joke later… or for internet circulation.  My husband and I used to have Fox in Socks speed competitions to the delight and and amusement of my children, who got to declare the winner.  One normally praises Seuss for what he brings to children, but his work is a gift (and occasionally a curse) to adults as well.

I was thinking of Seuss this morning, because my children are anxious to celebrate his birthday (his 105th), but also because it strikes me that the world-turned-upside-down qualities of our present situation are in some ways Seussian.  And how surprising is that, when so many of us were formed by his writing?  I suspect, thinking about Seuss’s endings and stories, that maybe we owe him more than we think – some of our ability to process reality, rather than fantasy, may come precisely from the fantasy creator.

Seuss books almost inevitably follow the pattern of a small, precipitating event (the offer of a snack, rainy day boredom, a horse and wagon on Mulberry Street), and preceed through a frenzy of wild variations on the theme, bringing things to a crisis point.  The horse and wagon becomes a parade, the cat trashes the house, things deteriorate (or progess) into wild chaos.  In some cases, things as basic as language themselves begin to decompensate -  a few words “fox, socks, box, Knox” becomes “When a fox is in the bottle where the tweedle beetles battle with their paddles in a puddle on a poodle eating noodle, THIS is what they call…at tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir.”  And in _The Cat in the Hat Comes Back_ we actually see linguistically multiplying alphabet cats, and something beyond Z that annhilates language and imagination altogether.

Perhaps it is just me, but it does seem to me that (mostly without the funny bits) we’re moving towards a Seussian style crescendo of many different parts.  Whether we like it or not, the events we’re seeing are linked to one another.  The tanking of our economy was helped by oil’s meteoric rise – the destruction of our climate is presently being partly aided by the fact that we’re all distracted by the economy, our oil decline may well be set in stone by the economy because we are not investing in energy infrastructure that would keep our decline rates stable.  All the pieces are interconnected, and as each situation becomes more acute, responses become more scattered in many ways.

Dr. Suess books almost inevitably end in a full stop, another small thing that reshapes the crisis.  Sam I Am takes a bite.  The resentful turtle at the bottom burps.  Horton’s egg hatches.  And in the midst of all that wild language and its even wilder illustrations, things become quiet again – not necessarily because all the internal conflicts are resolved, but because the books reached the point at which there was nowhere else to go in the direction they were facing, and thus, another small precipitating event changes things.  As we see from _The Cat and the Hat Comes Back_ further chaos is likely – but the direction has changed.

I have no crystal ball, but I wonder how much radical shift in direction we’re likely to see in the coming year.  My own sense is that we may well see such a shift – and quite soon – away from our frenzied attempts to prevent the worst, and toward attempts to mitigate what we must now acknowledge as inevitable - the extended Depression, the rising temperatures, the lifelong project of adapting to Depletion.  I do not know for sure by any means, but it strikes me that we are nearing a point at which we will no longer be able to go on as we have been, and the projects we engage in will have to change fundamentally.  We may have to admit that the hope of growing the economy again or rescuing the banks is futile – and turn our efforts, hopefully, towards mitigating suffering.  We may have to conceed that the planet will pass the 2 degree tipping point (and I say this with great pain), and that the best we can hope for is to not add more damage.  We may have to conceed that our children will be dealing with a national infrastructure designed for cheap energy – and without much of the energy, and turn ourselves to the national and world project of adaptation.

My own favorite Seuss book is _I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew_ – in it, a young creature with a constant stream of unbearable troubles finds himself seduced by the promise of a trip to Solla Sollew, “…where they never have troubles, at least very few.”

After an agonizing comic journey, he arrives to discover that Solla Sollew only has one trouble – but it is a trouble that means that no one can get it.  Offered a chance to embark on another journey to “Boola Boo Ball, on the banks of the beautiful river Woo Wall, where they never have troubles! No toubles at all!”  He considers it, and then chooses otherwise.

“I’d have no more troubles…that’s what the man said.  So I started to go. But I didn’t. Instead…I did some quick thinking inside of my head.  Then I started back home to the Valley of Vung.  I know I’ll have troubles.  I’ll maybe, get stung.  I’ll always have troubles.  I’ll maybe get bit, by that green-headed quail on the place that I sit.  But I’ve bought a big bat.  I’m all ready you see.  Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me!”

The acknowledgement that our troubles are not going away, no matter how deeply we care, how much we wish to prevent them, no matter how we try to stop them, seems like a starting point for what we really can hope for – a shift in which we give events we are not fully in control of as much “trouble with us” as possible.  That is, we face what is necessary, stop what harm we can, and set ourselves hard to the project of making sure that we get back some of our own by doing the work of mitigation.  The message is for children, but it is a fundamentally adult one.

In Suessian stories, there are happy endings, of course. These are children’s stories, after all.  Horton, who hatches the elephant bird, the Grinch whose heart grows three sizes just in time.  Because, as Seuss says of Horton’s elephant-bird, “And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that!”

But in the happy endings are also “happy enough endings” that teach children that solutions aren’t always found at the end of the story.  The Onceler can pass on a seed of the last Truffala tree, but he can’t bring back the Lorax.  The Cat in the Hat may have cleaned up his mess, but the children are still faced with the question of whether to lie to their parents about him.  And the boy goes back to the Valley of Vung, this time better prepared, but still expecting to get stung.  Written into the text of Horton and his egg is the fact that the reason things happened the way they did, is because it is a story.  That is, the transformation that made all the problems go away is narrative, something that can happen in stories because “it SHOULD be like that.”  But, in the very transformation he draws, Giesel reminds us that it isn’t – those heavy, repeated “shoulds” force us to think of the ways in which it usually isn’t.

This is a hard lesson for children, but one that it is good to embed early – to clarify the distinction between fiction and reality.  It is one that is clearly hard for many adults to grasp – thus, the fact that we desperately *want* the economy to be restored makes us see signs of restoration where none are.  The fact that we want to address climate change without personal hardship makes us convinced that this is possible, that we want there to be fossil fuels without constraining our consumption means we choose to believe it.  But navigating the fact that happy endings of the “Happy 100 percent” sort are mostly fictive is perhaps the life project for both children and adults. 

And that may be his best gift to the world’s children and grownups – that even as he trained us to see that the stories can end in joy, he also reminds us that sometimes, the best we can hope for is a future in which we give our troubles all the trouble we can.  Let us do so in his memory.

- In Memorium Theodore Seuss Giesel-

 Sharon

31 Responses to “Seussian Paradigm Shift”

  1. grace says:

    Sharon, you are brilliant.

    grace, N Mex

  2. Texicali says:

    Bravo! We did not read much Seuss growing up, but children’s books were a big part of our learning. It is amazing to go back to the children’s books I loved growing up and imagine how the subliminally shaped my world view. Two of my favorites were an old beat up copy of Miss Twiggley’s Tree and Old Hat, New Hat.

    Miss Twiggley was a lady who lived on the outskirts of town with her dog named Puss (He didn’t mind that. “My very best friend,” He said, “is a cat.” She is called a disgrace by the mayor’s wife who is trying to get something done about her, but when a flood comes the whole town comes to live in Miss Twiggley’s Tree. The story is a great lesson on accepting others, and that it is the people who are different that save society when it fails. Highly recommended, it was recently re-released (Which was great! all of us kids spent years looking through old used book stores for our own copies, the eldest got the original, used copies were going for several hundred dollars on amazon).

    Old hat, new hat is all about enjoying what you have. The character has an old beat up hat which he wants to replace. He tries on all kinds of crazy hats, and then decides that the old beat up one fits best. So he doesn’t buy a new hat after all.

    In retrospect the morals were pretty explicit, but we read them because of the rhymes and pictures. But subliminally did they make me want to be like Miss Twiggley? Or be content with what I have? Surely they did.

    If you want something inspirational check out this BBC show:A Farm for the Future. http://www.mininova.org/tor/2313068
    Recently broadcast in the UK, it is amazing how they are discussing things that don’t get much air time here. It is a big file, but if you aren’t being charged by the minute just leave your computer to download it.

  3. Peter D says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Great article – I think the salient point is that in order for us to make the changes we need, and to mitigate the impending collapse, we need to be realistic about the situation. But, as you say, with so many people believing we can consume our way out of this without “personal hardship,” that point may never come. I always go back to Daniel Quinn’s work and “the one right way to live.” The belief in that “one right way” is so strong, that it will take multiple catastrophe’s to shake us from it – people will die peddling the unflyable airplane machine harder and harder. The question is, how do we break them from this belief before it’s too late? How do we get them to be realistic about the situation and quit trying to bail out the dead?

  4. Sarah says:

    You may be amused by this…music here.

    But in the happy endings are also “happy enough endings” that teach children that solutions aren’t always found at the end of the story.

    And there’s always the Butter Battle Book which just doesn’t resolve at all.

    By the way, payment for AIP should be heading your way shortly :-)

  5. Abbie says:

    Very interesting take. I like the idea of giving our troubles trouble. I’ll think of that as I knead bread this afternoon.

  6. Greenpa says:

    You- are hilarious. I’m cracking up envisioning your family and speed contests of Fox in Socks.

    Ah, but you left out Bartholomew Cubbins! Both incomprehensible hat appearances, and ooblick- clearly belong in this melange somewhere… :-)

  7. Gina says:

    Wow, a great analogous look at our present troubles/attitudes and Seuss’ tales (huge fan, I keep a framed photo of a young, handsome Theodore in my office). Brilliant post!

  8. Shirley says:

    A fascinating analysis, Sharon — wonder what Mr. Geisel himself would have had to say. Thanks for an insightful, if yet depressing, commentary.

  9. Michelle says:

    Sharon,

    Most excellent, indeed! My favorite Dr. Seuss Book is The Lorax. Sadly, we face the same end now.

  10. Jim says:

    Hurrah for Dr Seuss. You were talking about Solla Sollew and I could only think of the lovely song from Seussical.

    I have no children, but Miss Twiggly’s Tree is one of my favorite books, ever. I think I might be able to recite it all word for word.

    You don’t think about you

  11. KatJ says:

    I love the way your mind works. My son’s favorite was The Lorax. When he and his wife found out that they were pregnant with their first child, the first thing he did was to go out and buy a Seuss anthology. He read it to her throughout the pregnancy. How romantic is that? And although I have read Seussian tales to my little ones (and their children), he wasn’t really one of my favorite authors as a child. The stories were too chaotic, and mothers who left their children (or eggs) to fend for themselves made me uncomfortable. (Maybe because my mother spent a lot of time in the hospital for ‘nervous’ ailments when I was growing up.) Loved the analogy! Peace! Kat

  12. Henry Warwick says:

    My favourite was The Lorax. My daughter was able to understand Easter Island because of the Lorax, and she now has an idea of what she and her little buddies are up against.

  13. Kristi says:

    ‘”Yes…That’s what I’d do,” said young Gerald McGrew. “I’d make a few changes if I ran the zoo.”‘ Thanks for a brilliant post!

  14. Mavis in Vancouver says:

    That is a wonderful post – and what a legacy Seuss has left us, no?

  15. Michelle says:

    Y’know, I would have sworn that a compelling Peak Oil post could NOT be written using Seuss as a source. And I’d have been dead wrong. I love how your mind leapfrogs to connections, and makes illustrations that make it all a bit easier to understand! Cheers :)

  16. J says:

    Interesting post. You have a flair for literary analysis. I wonder, though, if people during the Great Depression, or in any other downturn for that matter, were entertaining similar thoughts. My point being that sometimes a downturn can seem so severe and so unsettling that it is hard to imagine ever emerging from it. Every time the price of oil spiked in the past century there were people predicting we would run out of oil in 5-10 years. That was it, no way it was just a point in the boom-bust investment cycle that has always characterized the industry, or due to geopolitical factors. It was all downhill from there. But human beings turned out to be more creative and industrious than we thought possible.

    This is a terrifying downturn. It is severe, it came upon us more swiftly than anyone could imagine, and it is global. Still, it is an economically tractable phenomenon with many similarities to previous downturns. The world can seem a bizarre and confusing place at times and seems to conspire to confound our best efforts to understand it. But the effort to do so can be rewarding. It can also be encouraging: there are people who know what they are talking about, this downturn has quantifiable causes and we are not completely in the dark about possible remedies. I would encourage you, Sharon, and all the readers of this blog, to consult the analyses at http://econbrowser.com, http://baselinescenario.com, Paul Krugman’s NY Times column, anything written by Niall Ferguson or Michael Lewis and the NPR “Planet Money” podcasts. Don’t just listen to the self-appointed Cassandras of the world. And if our experts don’t know what they’re talking about, why the hell should I expect people like Kunstler or Heinberg to?

  17. plcdestiny says:

    “Dr. Seuss” was a dear friend of my grandmother’s. I will always remember that whenever I would see him even as a very young child he would always say, “Well…” (as his eyebrow would dance above his big glasses) not as a greeting but rather as an invitation for me to start up with whatever I wanted to talk about.

    I do believe this encouragement of expectation that I would have something important to say was one of my best childhood memories. Singularly he never, ever edited, redirected or proselytized: HE LISTENED with full attention. What a beautiful, precious gift.

    Isn’t that the best way to learn… and share a story?

  18. Rebecca says:

    I never read Dr. Seuss as a child and my parents never read it to me. (We weren’t the reading sort of family; both my parents were barely literate.) Consequently, it was a complete and utter joy to me to discover Dr. Seuss when I was working as a temporary nanny last fall. He was the children’s favorite author, and I must have read the Lorax alone ten times. I’m a fiction writer but there is something special about him. I’m all ready keeping a lookout for copies of his books for when I have children of my own.
    Thanks for another great post, Sharon.

  19. That was a lot of fun!

    Odd irony to report. Dr. Seuss is an alumnus of the same college that Timothy Geithner, Hank Paulson and Laura Ingraham. He graduated in the 1930s (1936, I believe?) from Dartmouth. Also alma mater of Dr. Bob Smith (founder of AA with Bill W.), Dan’l Webster, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mr. Rogers, the fellow who wrote “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer”, the fellow who wrote “Animal House” (and Captain Kangaroo received an honorary degree!), and…

    yours truly. Class of ’86, the year the shanties on the Green were destroyed in the dead of night the Tuesday wee-hours after MLK day that year. (Hm. Kirsten G. was 2 years behind me. Wonder if she was there that delightful winter.)

  20. pat nixon says:

    Sharon, your children are so lucky to have you as their mother.Funny, creative, pragmatic. Do you adopt 50+ somethings?

  21. Sharon says:

    J, thanks for the kind words – I was an English Prof once, so I’m glad I can still do it. That said, however, I’d argue with several of your points. For example, it is, I’m sure, technically true that “every five to ten years” people said we would run out of oil for the entire aggregate of humanity. I’m sure someone said so. But it is not accurate to say that over the longer term that there has been any major emerging scientific consensus on the subject of energy supplies – nor is it primarily human ingenuity that has resulted in not running out – even Hubbert didn’t predict we were running out on a world scale until quite recently. People predicted (accurately) the peak and decline of American oil production in the 1970s and were not clear that foreign sources of oil would be widely available to them – but no one of any great credibility suggested we were running out of oil on a world scale. We knew that there were vast reserves in the Middle East. For that matter, peak oil theory does not imply that we are “running out’ but that we have passed the halfway point in production. That is, there is a qualitative difference in “some random guy has wondered if we were running out since the 1970s” and “major geologists have begun to take seriously the question of whether we have peaked. And Kunstler and Heinberg (and I) are merely popular proponents of the petroleum geologists – that is, we’re journalists and writers describing an idea and its implications, but we didn’t invent it. There are plenty of hard science geology work available, if you’d care to read it – you might start with Colin Campbell and Kenneth Deffeyes to get a sense of the work we’re building on. Meanwhile the IEA agrees that coming depletion rates are likely to be dramatic, the US Army agrees that we are “at or near peak oil” and even the USGS says that peak oil is likely to be a matter of 10-15 years at the outside – but the Department of Energy commissioned Hirsch report suggest that two decades of all-out effort are the minimum required adaptation period.

    I’m familiar with all the materials you list – and I find some of them valuable. That said, however, one establishes credibility and expertise in precisely the measure that people are able to understand their circumstances – and it is fairly clear to me that many of the experts you cite did not understand the implications of economic policies that lead precisely to this scenario. I do not find them thus *more* credible than people who believed that precisely the economic models that claimed they would never again produce a major Depression can be used to get us out of this – credibility matters.

    It is certainly fair to say that sometimes, perhaps even often, things are less dire then they are perceived to be by some people. It is also fair to say that sometimes, and quite often in historical terms, they are more dire – that is, the Jews who said that the Nazis weren’t really that bad were wrong. The people who thought that you could appease the Germans were wrong. The many, many economists who, in 1930, told people that renewed prosperity was right around the corner were wrong. The danger of unfounded optimism and faith in the magic power of human ingenuity is as serious as the danger of taking situations too seriously. Particularly in the case of climate change, I think it is difficult for people who see history in the very short term – as the comparatively short period of American prosperity and ease that dates from the of WWII to the present as our primary history, and thus assumes that bad stuff doesn’t happen to Americans – to recognize that golden periods happen in history – but golden ages don’t last. It is easy to say that we’ve avoided (mostly because of our wealth of resources, now depleting) most of the great horrors that faced people in the short past, and thus, the future will always be like the last 60 years, but I think that’s a misreading of history, as well as physics.

    I appreciate your kindness, but don’t feel that I suffer deeply from confusion. Time, of course, will tell.

    Sharon

  22. Greenpa says:

    J: I was not an English prof. Perhaps that’s why most of my posts are shorter? ;-)

    “This is a terrifying downturn. It is severe, it came upon us more swiftly than anyone could imagine”

    Ok- read that again. It’s not true.

    In science (not economics) the ultimate test of an hypothesis; after the one tailed T, and regression analysis; is: do predictions made using this hypothesis come true?

    In fact there WERE people who saw it all coming; just this swiftly; and said so. They are still virtually totally ignored; because we are all so invested in the idea that “economists” understand economics.

    On the contrary- the entire world, at the moment, is proof- proof! – that “economists” have no intellectual clothes.

    There theories do not work- if they did, we would not be here. And/or, they would be able to get us out. They say they don’t understand, didn’t see it coming, don’t know when or how it will end, and don’t know what to do.

    HINT HINT.

    Who say it? Who blew the whistles, repeatedly?

    Ecologists. “That can’t work”, we said; about “growth”. And oil.

    Etc. Ecologists study the same thing economists pretend to- the flow of resources, over time.

    Cassandra was RIGHT, remember? And people should have listened.

    Ok, I’m delusional about making short posts. :-)

  23. Tony says:

    It is very scary. Our experts are telling us that we are in for a mild, not so mild recession that will be over by Christmas. Yet all I see is companies bunkering down for the long term. With the way we talk about trillions of dollars and trillions more, how long before there are more dollars than grains of sand?

    Ghawar is almost watered out, they use multi lateral, multi nipple wells to stay above the water, inject hydrochloric acid to break down the limestone to pump more water in, surficants to speed flow. 5% of the worlds oil supply, but 50% of oil liquidity because most oil is tied up in long term contracts. What was dismissed as sludge is now a valuable resource.

    The more I learn about climate change the scarier it gets. We are using linear modeling when we know it is a non linear world. We know there are tipping points, we just don’t know where. Conclusion, it will be worse than predicted, maybe a lot worse.

    We need a new paradigm. Continuous exponential growth is unsustainable. We are past the point where transition will be easy, I hope we are not past the point where transition will be possible.

    For all that we are facing a perfect storm of events, perhaps all the problems have the same solution.

  24. I am going to go say a prayer over the seedlings I just planted, and make sure they have enough water and sunlight.

    My ‘practice gardening’ may turn into ‘gardening when it counts’ sooner than I had thought.

    Ah well, that’s why we purposely turned our little ‘acreage’ into a ‘working farm’. A very small farm, and not working very well yet, but … we’re trying to bloom where we are planted. And to encourage every little seedling to do the same!

  25. WNC Observer says:

    Sharon, I’ve been saying that the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving up things. Giving up on the idea of growth, and all of the hopes and dreams that go with it, is going to be a VERY big thing to give up – maybe the biggest. We are seeing right now how hard people both high and low are fighting against giving it up. This isn’t just “denial”, this is full-scale temper-tantrum mode, this is the gambler-addict on a losing streak, continuing to double down and about to go all in as a last gasp effort. What other terms do you use to describe a society that is throwing unimaginable trillions of dollars it doesn’t have at problems it doesn’t understand, with no good reason to believe that any of this will ever actually work?

    However, we already know how the plot line must go. Each and every one of us, probably one-by-one, must go through that painful moment when we must give up the dreams, let go of the hopes, and accept reality. Some of us have already been there and done that. Now, we must watch with that complex mix of amazement, amusement, and empathy as we see everyone around us going through the same thing. It will be quite a show to watch, and we all have front row seats.

  26. LittleMissIndependent says:

    I’m in my forties, indoctrinated in the ’70′s by Dr Seuss and the Lorax as a child. Way back in the days when the grass was still green and the pond was still wet and the clouds were still clean. Somewhere between chasing brown barbaloots, eating green eggs and ham, and being a fish out of water, I struggled through the rampant consumerism of my parents, as they reacted to their frugal wartime upbringing by spending up, biggering and biggering, and filling up landfill and damn the consequences just because they could. In my lifetime they and their generation played out first the Lorax then Joni Mitchell perfectly.. took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum… paved paradise, put up a parking lot. I grew up thinking the Lorax foretold a world that we needed to avoid at all costs; that someday all that would be left ‘neath the bad smelling-sky would be a big empty factory…the Lorax…and I…Today I wonder if we’ve reached the point where the last of the truffala seeds just won’t grow, no matter how much we care for them? Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone. There were other prophets in the 70’s…..I’ve seen the lights go out ….I saw the Empire State laid low…They turned our power down, and drove us underground…I saw the ruins at my feet, You know we almost didn’t notice it- We’d see it all the time on Forty-Second Street. They burned the churches up in Harlem- Like in that Spanish Civil War- The flames were everywhere, But no one really cared- It always burned up there before… I’ve seen the rats lie down on Broadway- I watched the mighty skyline fall. But that was so many years ago…There are not many who remember- They say a handful still survive…To tell the world about… The way the lights went out, And keep the memory alive….

  27. RC says:

    As the oldest of seven siblings born from 1952 to 1964 I very much am under the Seuss spell. More than any other concept for my family, there was something about Oobleck that appealed to us. Often, strange tiny green matter would appear in the backyard sandbox. For us, Oobleck was real, in fact, all of Seuss was real, it wasn’t a story or an allegory or a collection of metaphors. The art was in the rhymes and wordplay and the rhythms and tones of the sing song pressed down into print, but we took the actual events as Bible. Later
    in life my contemporaries discovered Magical
    Realism, supposedly launched by Mario de Andrade, writer of Macunaima, which is very much like a Seuss epic, but for adults, due to some of the erotic content.
    Perhaps Mario got the ball rolling {personally, I would argue that most holy scriptures in the world are magical realism} but Seuss was also a practitioner.

  28. [...] was delighted to read in Sharon Astyk’s  Casaubon’s Book that last Tuesday was the 105th birthday of Dr. [...]

  29. Soi Disant says:

    I fear most people—not the few people here, but the people most resoundingly not here—will simply “refuse delivery of bad news” instead of admitting our troubles.

    Even ‘at the top’ the effort seems to be focused upon restoring the national economy to something like it was just a small handful of years ago.

    The closest thing to admitting the mess _we_are_now_in_ on the part of the present administration of ‘Change’ (and yes, I voted for him, and would again), is that we need to do something about looming energy depletion and global warming, as though these aren’t happening _right_now_, or as though we aren’t in the first years of a profound set of changes familiar to readers of this and similar blogs.

    Denial is still alive and well throughout America, and where the point of crisis is felt, it continues to fix its gaze on the hopeful prospect of sudden and short-term resolution.

    Yes, though I read your postings with interest, my view remains much less optimistic. I’m not one of the dieoff.com mavens, perhaps, but I don’t think we are all going to make it over the bumps in the road ahead intact, not by a long shot, particularly.

    My view won’t tend to change until I see more evidence of the American people waking up to what is happening.

    As to a return to the local, relocalization, that has its shadow side, too, particularly if it happens in the context of large numbers of desperate and panicked people looking for any help they can find. A region ruthlessly ruled by a local warlord with feudalistic pretensions, or a local crime ring is a form of relocalization. There are many others forms of relocalization we would not prefer to live with (or under) also likely to emerge.

    One consideration in all of this, and the individual planning that goes with it, is how many people one wants around where one lives. Some, yes, for we are social beings, but hundreds of thousand? Millions? I’m not so sure.

  30. The initial show of the new series, broadcast on Saturday, featured a kissogram, a naked Physician along with a “sexed up” Tardis.During the special 65-minute episode, The Eleventh Hour, in which Doctor Who had 20 minutes to save Earth from aliens known as the Atraxi, his new companion, Amy Pond, was revealed as a kissogram dressed in a skimpy policeman’s outfit, complete with mini-skirt and handcuffs. In 1 scene, Amy, played by the actress Karen Gillan, told the Doctor that her kissogram repertoire also included nuns and nurses’ outfits. Discover out more at Sci Fi Fan.

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