Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Six (or Seven) Old Technologies That Peak Oil Will Resurrect, Causing Steam Punks To Cream Their Shorts.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last ten years or so, and considering my imaginary readership, that's not unlikely, you've heard of Peak Oil, or the point when all the gas runs out and society grinds to a shuddering halt, a new Dark Age descends, everything goes straight to fuck and starts to look like a certain Mel Gibson franchise.

Now, aside from the prerequisite survivalists, rich douche-bags with private armies, and “I told you so” eco-crusaders, the only group that should be looking forward to end of oil are, of all people, the steam punks.


Cause the future's so dark you gotta light gas-lights.

That's right, the technological clocks gonna get turned right back to half-past Victorian, only with a few modern twists.

Just like those cosplaying freaks like it.

6: Gasification plants, aka Gas-works:

Back in ye old coal-fired days, nearly every city or sizable town had a “gas-works”. Usually built of brick or stone, with huge cool looking chimneys and a railroad heading straight in. In other words, the sort of place your average steam punk aficionado would risk life and limb to enter, just to pose for pics in front of some eldrich tangle of tubes.

A typical gas-works usually consisted of several “coke ovens” which, sorry hipsters, didn't bake cocaine, but rather smoldered coal, removing impurities and making it burn more efficiently. The gases that this process gave off were called, imaginatively enough, “coal gas”, and were piped through the city to fuel street-lamps, light homes, and power furnaces, and even make you hallucinate and waste away from slow poisoning, like Edgar Allen Poe.

(Ya hear that Goths? That's right, put down that screw-top Chardonnay you keep claiming is blood and just huff some coal fumes! No seriously. Please. Do us all the favor.)

Now, these days you can't even put a lump of coal in your sister's spoiled brat's stocking without some Eco-crusaders smashing your skull in with a sustainably harvested ten-foot chunk of tree, so why the hell would these things be making a comeback?

Because you can get the same sort of gas by smoldering wood, garbage, yard-waste, and agricultural waste, and if you use the resulting charcoal as fertilizer (called “biochar”, 'cause putting “bio” in front of a word gives Capt. Planet a woody) you actually start to reduce and trap carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, causing global warming.

Admittedly, the tweaked out quasi-Waterworld that could result from global warming makes most steam punks squee like Pedobear at a Brazt convention, but that's another article.

Municipalities the world over are starting to look at “Biochar” plants as an inexpensive and possibly profitably green way to reduce waste and energy costs. Hopefully they'll build them out of brick and stone with huge chimneys and a railroad leading in...

5: Gaslights.

“Hang on a tic”, I hear all my imaginary readers remark, “I can get the point of modern day gas-works, but gas-lights? WTF dude, we have electricity!”.

To which I respond smugly, “Yeah, but will you have light-bulbs?”

Gas-lights work by burning gas, either straight out of the pipe, filtered through a wire-mesh mantle (like every camping propane lantern you've ever used) or to heat up lime, which glows super-bright at high temperatures, hence the “lime-light” that ye old thespians bathed in. Gas-lights are simple, easy to manufacture out of metal or ceramics, and work, well, pretty much as long as you have gas.

Insert Fart Joke Here.

You done?


Light-bulbs on the other hand burn out. Even the super-eco-greeny kind filled with healing energy and fairy farts. Oh, they last a long time, but they do burn out. And they aren't easy to recycle, let alone manufacture.

See, in a future without an seemingly endless stream of high-energy fuels, just making the glass for said bulbs would cost a small fortune. Then add all the energy necessary to ship in the materials (including for all you eco-yuppies who want to ban incandescent bulbs, highly toxic heavy metals to make fluorescents) to the factory, and then ship all those easily breakable bulbs out to the consumers during an energy crisis, and a $3 gas-light made in Bob's backyard out of old pipe fixtures that will last about forever suddenly seems like a better option.

Soon enough, we'll all be wiling away the wee hours to sputtering, flickering gaslights, the only lighting to use when creating steam-driven exoskeletons, or...

4:Syngas cars

“Syngas”. Just say it with me now, “syngas”. It even sounds steam-punky.

Syngas (sometimes called, with complete lack of poetry or precision,”woodgas” or “producer gas”) is the technical term for the gas that comes out of gasification plants. In 1901, Thomas Hugh Parker figured out that you can run a car engine on the stuff, and what's more, figured out you could attach a small-scale gasification plant to your car.

During WWII, because of fuel shortages and rationing, nearly every civilian car in Europe ran on syngas. Hell the Germans even had tanks running on the stuff. During the OPEC embargo in the 70's FEMA, in a fit of common sense sadly never again repeated, produced a study of how to quickly and cheaply convert vehicles to run on syngas in case of another oil-shortage.

These days, with oil prices going through the proverbial roof, people have started converting cars and trucks once again. The resulting conversions are usually a mess of strange piping, radiators, flaming vents, smoking metal drums and all the other aesthetic properties known to make steam punks harder than kilned hickory, although nothing this author's seen compares with the coolness of this.

3:Steam engines:

Let's face it, this article had to include steam engines. It just had to. But steam punks aside, there is a very good reason you'll likely be seeing more and more steam-driven vehicles around soon, and why those vehicles will likely look like something you'd imagine China Miéville driving around.

See, steam engines, whether turbine or piston, work by converting heat into expanding gas (water-vapor) and using the resulting energy to do mechanical work. The exhaust gases from whatever you burn to heat the water are simply wasted. Internal combustion engines, whether turbine or piston, convert the force of expanding gas, caused by combustion, into mechanical work. The heat produced is considered a waste-factor.

See where I'm going with this?

Combine the two into a steam-gas hybrid, and you're looking at theoretical increases in efficiency of 35-45% ( but of course, once actual engineering steps in and pisses on physics' parade, its more like 30%, max). As an added bonus, all the parts and materials you need are sitting around in the form of good-ol' fashioned metal, not highly-refined lithium, cadmium, and other cool sounding toxic materials. Lest you think I'm pulling this out of my ass, BMW is already on it.

I mean, sure, you could buy some sissified electric/internal combustion hybrid that looks like something out of an 80's sci-fi series, or you could have a friggin' syngas/steam hybrid monster with friggin' turbines! That runs on garbage! Or the bones of your enemies! And desalinates the water from flooded coastal cities while you're at it!

And speaking of steam and turbines...

2: Ships and Locomotives.

What's cooler than the aforementioned syngas hybrid? Well, how about a syngas-hybrid-clipper ship, cruising the sunken cities of the near future trading in rare technology, spices, and genetically enhanced love-slaves? Or shuddering steel locomotives flaring flame and spouting steam as they hurdle across the bleak windswept ruins of what once was called Wash-Ing-Town?

Thing is, rail and water based transport are about the most efficient technologies for moving large amounts of people or goods that anyone has ever come up with. Cars (even awesome syngas hybrids) don't even come close, and don't get me started on airplanes. What's more, trains and ships can use a wide variety of power-sources that just don't work that well when squeezed into a car frame.

Take electricity, for example. For a car to run on volts, it needs a lot, I mean A LOT, of batteries, and some method to charge them, which is usually too heavy to include in the vehicle in question.

Not so for trains. Because they run on fixed tracks, a third rail or overhead power line are you need to rocket across the wastelands. The same is true for steam/syngas. Trains can carry larger amounts of heavier fuel than can cars, making them the land-transport of choice for our post-oil future commutes to the gasworks. And those fixed tracks they run on are worlds easier and faster to lay down than building roads, using less energy in the process.

As for ships, not very long ago, almost all of the world's trade goods traveled by sea. That's why its called “shipping” after all. Even today, “shipping” is mostly driven by well, ships. Admittedly oil-powered ships, but ships nonetheless, because it's the most efficient way to move large amounts of anything from one place to another. Hell, they used to do it with sails alone! So when the oil runs out, be prepared to see huge tanker-sized clipper ships, complete with solar-panel sails, or huge wind turbines and steam engines plying the seas.

Hopefully fighting off cool pirates and not these a-holes...

And speaking of ships...

1: Airships

Every steam punk worth their bronze-painted Nerf®-gun knows that the ultimate level of steamy coolness is the airship (or “Zeppelin”, but never, ever “blimp”). Why, just imagine sailing the skies in your own air-yacht, spitting your cheroot stubs over the side onto the roofs of the little people, fighting off sky-pirate attacks with your steam powered rotary cannon and general aeronautical badassetry.

The thing is, its not that far off. Modern, and even old-school fixed wing and rotary aircraft burn fuel like a pyromaniac at Burning Man, whereas lighter-than-air-vehicles, (LTAV, or “nambla”) use much less fuel (especially those that use helium/hydrogen/methane/ammonia instead of hot air) than heavier-than-air-vehicles (HTAV, or “nambla”). Add in the fact that they can be sailed with prevailing winds, have large surface areas that could be covered with photo-voltaic panels (PVP's, or...ok, I'll quit), and could be made tough as anything with the use of carbon-fiber, Kevlar, or even genetically engineered spider silk (squee!) and the airship might just come to dominate the skies of our increasingly steam punk future.

Just don't call it a “blimp”.

Seriously dude.

Rotary cannon, remember?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Numbered lists and the difficulty of daily ranting.

So I'm trying to get back on the write-o-cycle, having fallen off roughly two years ago, but it's proving to be more of a challenge than I thought.

For starters, this time around, I'm doing a lot of writing that isn't going up in the form of a daily blog/rant/thingy, and is aimed instead at a slightly more commercial audience. So I'm working on churning out snarky numbered lists for, angry-yet-non-threatening political rant for, and useful and informative how-to articles on

Of course, none of the above have "hired" me, nor do I know exactly how to submit my work to them, but hey, keeps me busy and let's me occasionally convince myself that I might at some point make some money off of it.

Thing is though, that the more I think of writing as a job, the less I want to do it, and the fewer and fewer topics I want to discuss on my blog, as I think "hey, wait a sec, shouldn't share that for free", which then makes me feel like a total money-grubbin' capitalist a-hole.

But every now and again I come up with something that won't fit anywhere but my blog, some short little ditty that just has WRB written all over it.

Like this.

America Explained in 4 Simple (but false) Statements.

4. "The American Dream" aka "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps."

For starters, practically no one in Merka has bootstraps anymore, we all get to wear shitty fall-apart-at-the-sight-of-weather sneakers manufactured in off-shore sweatshops and sold in box stores so huge our fat asses can't make it from one end to another without renting an electric scooter. Aside from that, this statement ignores the reams of data gathered over the last 50 or so years that shows that not only is upward mobility no longer a trend in Merka, but that downward mobility has been the rule for years now, even before the Great Re-possession. The reason Merkans still hold on to this ridiculous belief is based on...

3. "If you're poor, its you're own fault for being lazy/sick/stupid/black/brown/ etc."

Merkans hate poor people. Poor people not only make the whole country look bad, but for some weird reason there are always people in the government trying to take away our money and give it to no good lazy poor people. Oh, we'll happily spend tax money on police and prisons to lock them up, but actually trying to prevent poverty-based crime (and the VAST majority is poverty based) by obtaining some measure of *shudder* "economic equality" is straight out freedom-hating-socialist heresy because...

2. "Competition brings out the best in people".

O rly? So the same thing that induces people already making assloads more than your average working Joe (who does something worthwhile with his labor) to take illegal steroids to further wring cash and endorsements from people stupid enough to believe smacking a globular chunk of leather with a stick makes you a role-model brings out the best in people? The same thing that "forces" companies to lay-off thousands and move their operations abroad to avoid taxes, labor laws, and that pesky lack of slave-labor is a good thing? Really?!?! So a system wherein insurance companies and HMOs compete with each other to screw as much money out of the public while providing as little of that there expensive medical care as possible brings out the best in the assholes? I can only imagine that without competition they morph into some huge encephalitic elder god bent on murdering existence...

1. "There can be no common good without personal greed".

Okay, fine, they don't say it like that. Mainly 'casue they've given up on even the idea of a "common good", but this is what's behind all the "trickle-down" talk, the bullshit about "rising tides lifting all boats". People believing this, and believing that a piece of paper with a government seal justifies it are the reason that fully half the resources of this country, hell, of the world, are owned by a tiny fraction of the population, who don't give a flying fuck about the "common good" and would sooner slit your throat and sell your organs on Ebay than part with even a fraction of their vast wealth.

To summarize:

Most of you reading this are members of the new global underclass (you are just lucky enough to be at the top of that particular shit heap). In all likelihood, no matter how smart you are, how creative, or how hard you work, you will stay a member of the new global underclass. Because like all caste-systems, you are born into it.

The people you work for, who likely pit you against your fellow workers, while pitting the company you work for against other companies in an endless drive to "beat" the "other" "team" are in all likelihood the also the owners of the "other team". They will continue to pit you against other people just like you to force you to accept lower wages, fewer benefits, and eventual indentured slavery because "competition brings out the best in people". These same asshats will then claim that any move made to bring any-level of fairness to this fucked up situation will result in global economic misery (like we don't have that now) because if they are not allowed to make obscene profits off of your hard labor, you won't receive your minimum wage paycheck next week.

Where's that rifle????

PS: Yes I have sources to back this up. No I didn't post them. Why should I go through the trouble, I mean look at the Tea Party, not only did they essentially take over America, they did it without siting any real sources! Mostly they just pulled xenophobic libertarian shit out of their fat ignorant asses and flung it into the public debate like so many masturbating zoo monkeys.

Can't beat 'em...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I had this glorious plan.

I was going to write a scathing denounciation of wealth and the wealthy, to be concluded with a soaring call to arms, for the masses to rise up and smash the egocentric, greedy bitches who are actively destroying their fellow human beings and the very planet that supports us.

I was going to. Totally rip into it. Tear shit right the fuck up.

Then I did a bit of research.

I got depressed.

I laid down and took a friggin' nap, like an over-active toddler.

Shit is worse that most of you think, especially when its worse than I think.

More tomorrow.

Beer now.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Burning Weed

Today at breakfast I picked up a copy of the Little Nickel Classifieds, usually a good place to find jobs, cheap trucks, or adoption-for-hire schemes.

The first ad on the front page was for a tip-line that pays up to $5000 for turning in pot farmers.

Right next to it were a solid dozen ads for "Medical Marijuana" ranging from home-delivery to dubious "Doctors" prepared to write you out a script for $100 bucks a pop.

One of the biggest reasons there is next to no meaningful Left (the Liberal class, the Dems, most of the Progressives, and Greens in the US are "Leftist" in more or less the same way that McDonald's is "food") in the US is pot.

More specifically, the fetishization of pot by a large number of left-leaning people, the continued criminalization of pot by the establishment right, and the division within the would-be Left over pot.

So many of those who hold socialist, anarchist, co-operative, and communalist views are more interested in getting high, and the legalization of their drug of choice then they are in social justice, universal health care, ending poverty (more on that tomorrow), ecological justice, or the end to America's permanent wars on various common nouns.

Except of course the "War on Drugs".

That one they'll fight.

For the record, I support the legalization of pot, not because I smoke it, not because I entertain some rainbow-colored unicorn shit idea that "The world would be better if everyone smoked weed", but because making pot criminal fuels the prison-industrial complex, is used as an excuse for ever-increasing intrusive police state measures, and serves to prevent the adoption of wide-spread agricultural/industrial use of renewable hemp (which the "legalize it" crowd often tries to trot out as the "real" reason for their quest, which would seem a lot more reasonable if they weren't red-eyed and scarfing down White Castle).

But the sheer amount of time, energy, and focus that goes into this one issue is completely out of whack. The US is currently fighting two seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention "police actions" and such in Columbia, Guiana, Belize, most of the 'Stans, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, to name just a few. The last three years have seen the single greatest movement of wealth from the poor to the rich in the history of, well, history. The rich/poor gap has ballooned, the planet is as sick as a chemo-patient, a cabal of trans-national corporations are constantly tightening their grip on the very essentials and building blocks of life (water, food, DNA) and the one thing that gets the vote out, the one thing that stirs the soma-vacationing Left outa it's off-grid cabins is the call to legalize pot?

Which of course hands the Corporatist Right and their butt-kissing Moralist minions enough ammo to blow gaping holes in the credibility of anyone in anyway connected to the legalize-it-left, while those "leftists" who reject pot (and booze, and tobacco, and meat, and sex, and well, most things that make life fun) and tattoo X's into their fists turn on the very people who they claim to share ideals of ecological and social justice with, because unlike the Moralist crowd, the left likes to smoke, drink, and fuck.

Ok, fine, the Moralists like to smoke drink and fuck too, they just won't admit it.

How about we focus on the pressing issues; human rights, social justice, economic equality, the abolition of wealth (more on that tomorrow too), and ecological justice, and leave the legalization of pot (or the criminalization of animal products, stupid vegans) until the current tide of reactionary economic fascism has been beaten back into Mordor and the gates slammed shut?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Burning Bushes

A while ago, having nothing but time on my hands and the overwhelming urge to do something other than housework for a change, I went out and drastically cut back the hedges that blocked nearly all the light from the living room and kitchen windows. It took hours, chopping away with a cane knife, cutting tree-sized limbs with a chainsaw, and trying (but not really succeeding) to finish-cut with an electric hedge trimmer.

By the time I was done, I had light streaming into previously dark rooms, and a pile of hedge-trimmings the size of a Buick.

As I started stuffing said trimmings into the yard-waste can, and then black plastic bags, I started to reminisce about my childhood, when late summer would include at least one big bonfire of collected yard-waste, scrap wood, and (shocking by today's environmental standards) whatever other flammable junk we had to get rid of.

You can't do that most places these days. Here in Port Townsend, you either have to set your yard-waste out for pick up (which you pay for) every-other Thursday, or pack it up and drive it to the dump (where you have to pay).

And there, in the crisp autumn sun, I had my Moses-moment.

First, it dawned on me that these rules do nothing to "help the environment", rather they wrap a green cloak around a government mandated monopoly on waste disposal. Think about it for a minute. You are required to send this material either in your own (gasoline burning) vehicle or the city contractor's (diesel burning) truck to a central location, where it is chopped up and ground down (by a diesel-powered chipper) and placed in a huge pile to compost (where the anaerobic bacteria deep in the pile will leach out large amounts of methane, which does ten to twenty times more greenhouse gas damage than CO2), until it has decomposed enough to be shipped out in container trucks (diesel again) to garden centers to be sold as potting soil, which is then taken home in the back of consumer's cars and trucks, burning fuel all the way.

Whereas if I burned the stuff right here in the garden (its mostly laurel trimmings, which rot very very slowly but burn well, as they are rich in oils) there is a much smaller amount of air pollution (nicer smelling too, laurel makes a sweet smoke), and the ash and charcoal (trapped carbon) can simply be spread back into the soil. To top off the absurdity, our house, and nearly every house on the street has a wood-burning stove, all of which were blazing away.*
*For the record, no, I can "just burn all the trimmings in the wood stove" as they will burn wet and oily, risking a chimney-fire like the one we just had, a result of the previous tenant not being aware of this fact.

It got me thinking of other "greenwashed" practices that we all feel obliged to follow, yet aren't all that ecologically sound.

Take recycling. While you can still get paid for some recyclables in Iceland, very few places in the the Northwest will pay you to do so. That didn't used to be the case. These days, you have to pay someone (either directly, for curbside recycling, or indirectly for the fuel to take it to the dump) to recycle. Not to mention that the city-contractors drive two separate vehicles, one to pick up trash, one for recyclables, doubling the carbon emissions. After which the dump uses petroleum burning vehicles to shred, compact, bale, and ship these materials to distant plants to be recycled into new goods, which are then shipped all the way back here.

It would be one thing if the recycling took place locally. * If waste was recycled into useful products within a hundred mile radius, to be re-sold primarily within that radius, then the net reduction on greenhouse gases, resource depletion, and local unemployment would certainly justify the resultant pollution. But if the purpose is to simply provide a cheaper set of raw materials to distant manufacturers, is it really much "greener" than resource-extraction (mining, logging, etc).

*It may in regard to paper products, as there is a paper mill not a half-mile from the dump. If not, that's just fucking criminal.

Or take electric and electric-petroleum hybrid cars. Is the amount of pollution and resource extraction, not to mention the fuel spent on shipping material and finished products, that goes into manufacturing these vehicles counter-acted by their reduced CO2 emissions? Wouldn't it make more sense to simply (and it is simple) convert existing vehicles to run on renewable fuels (like methane, wood-gas, ethanol, and biodiesel/plant oils, all of which if produced locally for local sale are if not fully carbon-neutral* then at least much less harmful than petroleum fuels) or further convert them into steam/internal combustion hybrids (which do not require any of the scarce, hard to refine chemicals and minerals required by gas/electric hybrids and "cutting edge" electric cars)?

*Depending on how they are produced, some of these fuels actually result in a net reduction in CO2, not just neutrality.

In the end, recycling, hybrid cars, and yard waste disposal are not about "saving the planet" as much as they are about "insuring profits". The garbage company that hauls away my yard clippings and recyclables makes a profit from the monthly charge to our household, and a further profit from the resale of the valuable materials (paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, scrap-metal, wood-chips, compost/potting soil etc) to whoever will pay the highest price, whether near or far, for purposes ecologically sound or not. The car companies that tout their newest "ultra-efficient" hybrid wonder wagons don't tell you about the waste their production causes, nor that you could reduce your bills along with your "carbon footprint"* by simply converting your existing car to run on locally produced renewable fuel. They don't want to talk about those things. They want you to buy their cars.

The irony is, if I wanted to flaunt convention, regulation, and the like, and just set the remaining pile of trimmings alight, I'd likely have to use a either a petroleum-based accelerant to start the fire, or some plant-oil shipped here all the way from California, or paper produced locally, shipped thousands of miles to be printed, then thousands of miles to be filled with product, and then thousands of miles so I could buy it.

You just can't win...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back in the USSA...

So I've been back for about two months now, and life is just speeding along. Like fast, really really fast, and as I'm usually a slow kinda joe, its scary and exhilarating at the same time. Kinda like a roller-coaster.

The only problem I'm having is an old and familiar one. I keep "I should"ing myself to a state of utter panic, instead of, as my rather wise and wonderful Mary says "letting the universe unfold as it should".

This morning, as I was trying to ignore the "I shoulds" by wasting yet more time on Facebook, an old schoolmate contacted me about a class we took together, and long story short, sent me an essay I'd written last year which in a wondrous case of serendipity, reminded me of why I'm happier when I stop shoulding myself all the time.

So instead of continuing to beat myself up about not writing as much as I "should", I'll just repost my old self giving my new self some good advice, and call it good.

(Written for The Ethics of Nature, University of Iceland, Fall 2009)

Running Away From Utopia

I’m a raggedy kind of man.

Like most things about ourselves my raggedness is partly choice, partly upbringing, and partly my “nature” (as slippery and elusive a thing as that is).

I wear second-to-third hand clothes until the holes are too big to ignore. Not as a fashion statement, but because I figure if folks are going to make things disposable, might as well wear them out before we dispose of them. My apartment started out life as a guestroom and storage space, and although I did break down and buy new furniture (for the first time in my life) for the living room, the kitchen and most of the rest is at least 75% recycled, salvaged, or flat out McGyvered.

Every bit of electronics in my place was given to me, either as a gift or a hand-me-down. If people had not seen fit to foist this stuff on me, I would never have a TV, cell phone, or laptop.

(In the interest of honesty, I have since purchased a new cell-phone, as the US uses a different, far inferior system.)

I buy cheap food and do my best to cook it at home. I eat local, because it tastes better, because I was raised that way, and because part of me recoils from the idea of food from thousands of miles away. I dumpster dive on occasion, “liberate” food from work that would otherwise be thrown out, and take advantage of free eats whenever I can, not out of poverty, or even stinginess, but because I hate waste.

On the other hand, I hate having too much stuff around me. Pack-rattishness brings out my mean streak. I cannot for the life of me understand people who horde things useless to themselves instead of letting others who might make use of said stuff do so. Except for books that is. Parting with the written word is like loosing a limb for me.

(Amazingly, I got rid of 80% of all my books when I moved back to 'Merka, still reeling...)

I work, but as little as I can and only at something I feel is worthwhile. As in most cases, this ethical stance results in a certain level of poverty. Not that I mind. I’ve long been of the opinion that wealth is to poverty as obesity is to malnutrition.

So when faced with this particular project, (We were asked to come up with a project that involved out personal relationship with nature and report on our progress) I ran into a bit of a snag. I consume little, I don't own a car (never have, even if I know how to drive), most of the time I avoid even the bus if I can. I toyed with the idea of vegetarianism, but frankly the argument for it doesn’t hold water for me. Besides, I like meat, fish, and cheese. It’s not like I live the life I live to be greener than thou, nor do I live my life the way I do out of some pious sense of “duty”. I live my life the way I do because, by and large, it makes me happy. I like the challenge of living on limited means; I love the creativity and cunning that it takes. But when faced with this assignment, with the idea of essentially experimenting on myself, using reductionism and preconceived goals to measure my relationship with nature, I recoiled. One of my other traits came to the fore, namely a level of rebelliousness that tends to get me in trouble.

I simply didn’t want to force myself into yet another project essentially based on the idea that I should have to constantly strive towards a goal with no way of knowing if it will be of any real benefit to me. Frankly I’m tired of society telling me I’m supposed to be something more, something better, healthier, happier, stronger, better looking, morally superior, more educated, more environmentally and socially responsible than I am.

After all, if ethics is the study of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” the world we live in is a study in “you shoulds” and “you shouldn’ts”.

And therein lays the rub. I’ve grown ever so weary of the proponents of positive social, environmental and political change stating their case in the same sad sorry self-help arguments that religions and moral-majoralists seem so fond of. I’m tired of my life, my body, my society, everything being reduced to one big project, grand glorious goals upon whose altar we sacrifice experience and pleasure in the hope of obtaining some heavenly utopian future. I have no interest in a revolution I can’t dance to, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to die for the cause.

I’d rather live for it. Besides, hair shirts itch.

By framing everything in terms of improvement, goals, progress we fall into the inverse of the trap that we fall into when we discount the welfare of future generations to service our own present greed. Instead of living in the here and near now, learning to live within our means, learning to accept limits, as individuals, societies, and as a species, we sacrifice the possible present happiness (which would likely lead to lives that wouldn’t be based on the poverty of our progeny) for a future utopia which we will never obtain. In the meantime, while we try to perfect ourselves to fit our preconceived ideas of perfection the world rolls merrily along towards oblivion.

A greeny utopia full of beautiful thin healthy people who never get cancer, never get fat, always smell of flowers and live lightly on the earth, happily telecommuting and consuming a never-ending series of earth-friendly products from the cornucopian horn of progress is not the world I want to live in. I long ago realized that utopias are terrible things. No one is free in utopia, because you can’t have a utopia with free will. Utopias are static, unchanging, eternal.

And Nature hates stasis as much as it abhors a vacuum.

And yet I’ve long been guilty of utopian thinking. Hell, we’ve all been. Whether planning your own physical utopia of six-pack abs and breast implants, or commercial utopias of success and acclaim, or political utopias free of pollution, violence, sexism or whatever other sin you despise.

I’d beat myself up for buying too much, for not having a vegetable garden, for eating out, for my rather embarrassingly voluminous beer consumption. I turned bike rides on crisp fall days into mindless calculations of calories burnt, of how much faster I was than a week before.

So I decided to try to not be a utopian for a while. That’s my project. Which is really difficult. It’s a Zen sort of thing. A project that rejects goals, that refuses to measure progress.

I have no idea how I’ve done.

And I think that’s the point.

That said, I can say the experience has been positive. Riding your bike while counting calories is a chore, whereas zipping along, enjoying the cold air pumping through your lungs, feeling the force of your legs powering you along, will put a smile on anyone’s face. Letting go of self-imposed academic standards and just letting yourself learn what you’re interested in is far more satisfying than high grades (although a my internalized ethos of academic over-achievement has made that part of the plan hard to stick to). Being content is far more enlightening, I’ve found, than being ambitious. Better for the planet too.

In letting go of preconceived notions, I’ve gained a level of contentment that I haven’t felt in a long time, which has led to some interesting insights. Content people almost by definition consume less. When you are happy with who you are, what you have, and where you are, you won’t feel compelled to chase after products and services that promise you the contentment you already have. Moreover, content people have the time and energy to think things over, to act in ways that will allow their contentment to continue. By working towards present contentment they avoid the trap of utopianism, because utopias are generally the product of malaise. Content people are hard to sell stuff to, hard to frighten, hard to shame, hard to control.

Happiness is revolutionary.

That being said, there are drawbacks, mainly social. What with the ingrained Protestant work ethic now in a dysfunctional marriage with pop-culture worship of the wealthy, successful, or famous explaining to people that you are purposely living in the moment and intentionally avoiding making long term plans garners a lot of criticism. People will see you as lazy, as “part of the problem”, as a free-loader (even though I owe nothing, pay my taxes, and receive no government support) or they will worry that you are depressed, having a breakdown, or “just trying to put a positive spin on your unfortunate financial situation.” (actual quote from an acquaintance now bankrupt in Iceland)

Then there’s the pressure. Thing is, in the world we live in, striving for future success or achievement is taken as a given. One is told that “resting on your laurels” is a bad thing, rather than an acknowledgement of contentment. This process is so ingrained that I have a really hard time not replacing those preconceived goals I’ve given up (like getting a Master’s Degree, losing ten kilos, finishing my remodel at some predetermined date) with a slew of new preconceived goals.

That being said, the more practice I have recognizing the symptoms of utopianism the easier it is to avoid them, and by avoiding them, I hope to let my life unroll slowly on its own accord, not constantly goading it onward. Every preconceived goal is a paving stone on my own personal primrose path to perdition, and I’ve been on the road crew for far too long.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


We were friends, maybe not the closest friends, but I loved you.

You were kind and generous, and despite all life had thrown at you, downright jolly most of the time.

In every way that counts you were one of the best people I've ever had the pleasure, the joy of knowing.

I'll remember your acid wit, your absurdist humor that more often than not left me clutching my side with tears in my eyes.

I'll remember how you were always ready to help, no matter what the need.

I'll always admire just how much you made of your short life, how many people you helped, how many lives you touched.

I miss you.

When we said goodbye I never thought it would be forever.

Rest in peace my friend.

Or party in paradise.

I think the latter is more likely.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dreaming on s Sunday afternoon...posting on a Monday morning...

Dateline Reykjavik, Sunday May 30th 2010 19:30

Almost twenty-fours hours on and the celebration is slowly waining, though brief flares of revelry still light the crowds like a twinkle in Bacchus' eye. Drink, dance and general debauchery are slowly receding in a tide of hang-over and hunger, a kind of hazy sweet happiness seeps across the gathered crowd here at Húsdýragarður. Long disorderly lines of beer-soaked revelers blend with sun-addled kiddies and tired seniors clucking their tongues like a Greek chorus of unbelieving poultry, waiting for a paper plate full of roasted flesh, the former denizens of the park offered up in joyous sacrifice to feed the teeming masses, served up by the two glowing lights of Iceland's brave new world.

Jón Gnar, honorable mayor of Reykjavik mans the massive grills, bloody knife in hand, slicing slivers of charred flesh, ginger hair askew and war-painted with zinc oxide, while the triumphant Reubenesque nymphs of Hera Björk's Eurovision team shake hands, sign babies, and serve up the platters, showered in praise, proposals marital or simply carnal, and the incandescent adoration of their ecstatic countrymen.

No one really believed it would happen. Despite Iceland's long-running and nigh-religious devotion to the Eurovision song contest, despite the polls showing Bestur Flokkurinn with a commanding lead, most seemed resigned to the idea that it would all be for naught on the night, just as the parties that rode regally into power on the crest of Búsahaldsbýltingin ushered in not a glorious renewal but a staggering, plodding, tragicomic continuation of business as usual.

But we doubting Tómasar got our collective asses handed to us by the raging tide of fate. Je ne sais quois thundered across Europe like a conquering army, the 12-points pouring in one after another (save for sour-puss Britain and glowering Holland) in the single biggest win in the history of the contest, making Lordy's Hard Rock Halelluia victory look lukewarm by comparison.

Men wept and women charged into the street, hurling confetti and bearing breasts to the late lingering sun in orgiastic glee. Wild chants of “Best í heimi!” rocked the streets to their very foundations.

Hard on the heels of our stunning artistic victory, Bestur Flokkurinn, a party so dark horse as to be equine obsidian won not a majority, not a pure majority, but every single seat on the city council clearing the decks of decades of political detritus in one fell swoop. In a matter of hours, Reykjavik was free of the four-party yolk.

Every street, every park, parking lot, play-ground, and pub filled to bursting with weeping smiling dancing throngs. “Best í Heimi!” blending with chants of “Lífi Nonní!”. Bonfires were lit in public parks, and employees of the state-run liquor stores pulled keys from their pockets and threw wide the doors to their cornucopian stores, the police wisely staying clear, moving instead to pointlessly protect the homes of four-party hierarchy, ignored by revelers.

The dancing and drinking, the thunderous rolling French choruses that built and crested only to build again continued into the wee hours, and as the sun rose improvised loudspeakers, strapped to buses decorated with the triumphant raised thumb of the our bright new hope chattered out the message.

Húsdýragarður! Koffí og brauð! Tónlist! Grillveislu! Í bóði Bestur Flokkurinn!”

A mass of humanity, marching up Laugarvegur in shameless disregard for the traditional parade trajectory swallowed me up and I swam along the crowd, kissing and kissed, hugged and hugging, more than once groped.

I grab my steaming plate and plastic spork, taking the opportunity to slip a sloppy tongue kiss to one of the blissed out background singers, the blond, and then weave my way through the throng to the now-empty reindeer pen, it former inhabitants like all the edible denizens now turning lazy circles on the spits or flip-flopping on the grills.

I hunker down in a half-circle of rough stone overlooking the park, coping a squat next to a bleary eyed middle-aged gent in a X-Æ T-shirt under a stained and frayed sports jacket. We sit in companionable silence staring down the hill at the five blond beauties (and one random fat guy), naked save rainbow droplets as they perform a impromptu synchronized swimming number in the now empty seal pond.

Popping a bloody piece of seal kidney into my beery mouth I ask my dining partner if he was a supporter or a member of our new glorious vanguard.

Oh, I'm a member alright” he giggles, clearly the worst for drink. “I'm the one whose going to make sure this whole thing pays off.”

Whatdayamean?” slips from my beer-addled lips like an exhausted salmon down a mountain cascade who's figured spawning is just way too much effort.

All very hush shush you know” he slurs, bits of spittle seeping out the sides of his slack lips, “I'm not at library to say really, not save for pubic knowledge”.

Needless to say his stammered collection of málvillur collapsed me into a state of giggles too paralyzing to press the question further.

Regaining my breath with the aid of my last looted lager, I feel a brief chill down my spine at my now-depart meal mate's words, but I shake it off, reminding myself that the undiscovered country is rarely as here-there-be-dragons as we tend to think. My rubbery legs to lead me out the main gate and stagger home.

Catching my breathe after slogging up to Laugavegur, I stare out over the mad victory carnival filling Laugardal and smile. A line of buses, private cars and taxis has lined up, those sober enough to drive offering rides to the car-less and the intoxicated. An elderly woman holds a hand-made sign with “Hlíðum” spelled out in black marker and I stumble over, ask if I can get a ride, and am cheerfully helped into the back seat of a the old Lada, soon sandwiched between a lovely young brunette and a frightfully drunk business type, mumbling something about Ragnarök and pale horses under his breath. We roll down the window and let him ride with his head out, wind in his thinning hair like a follicly challenged bulldog.

The brunette politely turns down my offer (made more out of habit than desire, 24 hours of solid drink and all I want is bed, alone) and I fumble my keys, stagger out of my boots, and collapse grateful and happy into my bed, the sun still shining and hoarse-throated choruses of Je ne sais quois lullabying me to rest.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Party of 9

As I contemplate whether or not to haul my lazy punk ass down to Austurvellir to take part in the concert in support of the Rvk 9, I'm struck by an idea.

Remember when I promised to blog about good ideas.

See, the State is bound and determined to punish nine nigh-randomly chosen individuals in order to stifle future uprising, and though I hope against the odds that the 9 are released, many feel that they will likely be found guilty.

Now, if this happens, I think that in light of the over-crowding and expense currently crippling the Icelandic prison system, these nine should if sentenced at all, be sentenced to community service. To be precise, they should be "sentenced" to serve as replacement MP's for all those named as "culpably incompetent" in the recent government report, with full pay and benefits.

I'd call that justice.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

9 black lambs to the slaughter

As the Revolution bellies up to the table and prepares to eat its young, I once again feel the need to break my already utterly shattered vow of Pollyannahood and let the rant fly.

At one o'clock today, an Icelandic court will hear the case against 9 protesters accused of "attacking the sanctity of Parliament".

9 black lambs are singled out of a flock of 30 so odd protesters that day, and out of the thousands who were routinely protesting all those long months. Singled out for attempting to walk through an unlocked door into a public building to reach a public seating area where the public has the right to observe its so-called servants work in the public interest. Parliament Security stops them, denies them access, and then attempts to physically block access and expel them. A scuffle breaks out and there are minor injuries on both sides. The police show up in seconds in an overwhelming show of force, one officer gets bitten whilst hurling a protester to the ground to be hogtied and chucked in the back of a paddy wagon. The 9 singled out for sacrifice at the alter of the sacred politic are charged with "attacking the sanctity of Parliament" and face a minimum sentence of 1 year's imprisonment, and a maximum of life (the maximum sentence for rape and murder is 16 years, and has to my knowledge never been imposed on a rapist).

They will likely be found guilty.

The whole situation sickens me, and raises some disturbing questions.

For starters, why these 9? Not one news report I've found has given any reason why only 9 of the 30 odd people involved are charged. While logically the two who managed to get to the viewing area and shout at the MPs to "get the fuck out of here" could be singled out, could it not also be because these 9 were members of the loose-knit black-clad mask-wearing groups who weren't protesting for new elections, weren't tied to existing political clans, and were in fact aiming for an actual revolution, instead of the pathetic coup d'etat we got instead? Why, in the midst of massive and disruptive protest, was the door to the viewing area unlocked? Had the protesters entered in stealth, clad in suits and Sunday best and telling the guards they were there to support the parties then in power, would they have been waved through? Could it be that the police, through whatever combination of incompetence, inexperience, and outright provocation managed to engineer all of the more "violent" incidents, decided to "allow" this protest to proceed in order to sweep in heroically and salvage their faltering support whilst tarring the protesters with the brush of treason? Why has the media, which has delighted in front-page photos of the banksters being arrested at this most conveniently distracting moment, hardly found the time to name the 9 individuals, let alone publish pictures and interviews (so far I've only found one interview, in today's paper, of one of these sacrificial black sheep)? Could it be that the powers that be, who rode into their current positions by latching on to the developing revolution like a tick to the hide, are hoping to appease the reactionary conspiracy theories of the ousted parties and "prove" they had nothing to do with the pot-pounding fire-lighting skril who did the ousting? Or could it be that they are quietly hoping to slip through a precedent that will make it easier to crush future protests?

30 members of the public push their way through a public entrance to a public building to reach the public seating area to give public servants a piece of their minds and they are charged with a serious crime. 60 some odd public servants sit for years in a public building "earning" public money while gifting public resources to political friends and family, lining their pockets with "campaign contributions" and "bullet loans" from bankster cronies, creating a "all animals are equal but some are more equal than others" pension plan, and eventually bankrupting an entire nation through a wicked brew of corruption, incompetence, and selfishness and these 9 black lambs are sent to the block, whilst the Judas goats go about their business, safe in the sacred confines of power, privilege, and ill-gotten wealth?

Where's that sledgehammer and can of gasoline?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Thing is, I've been trying to be positive.

No, Really!

I have!

But to little avail as my ingrained incensed ranting continues to spill out into the interwebs.

Especially two posts that at first I really liked, but am starting to think were cheap shots...

So I'll you quote fellow expat-Cascadian MayFray.

"Can I talk a little bit about how cool Iceland is? First of all, one of the reasons I decided to move here (well, aside from Tumi, obviously) was to go to graduate school. The Environment and Natural Resources program here is taught in English, and because of the overwhelming governmental support for education, tuition for grad school works out to about $600 a year. The one year I worked for Pacific Science Center between undergrad and moving to Iceland earned me a tax return that paid my entire graduate school tuition! In my opinion, this is the way education should be handled all over the world. And then there's healthcare. All of my prenatal care, and delivery, and postnatal care was free....that's right, FREE! We paid about $50 for the ambulance ride to the hospital, and I've paid about $30 for breast feeding advice, but other than that, all of our care was paid for by the government. The midwife COMES TO YOUR HOUSE EVERYDAY for a week after the baby is born to check up on you and answer your questions. Then, a nurse comes to visit every week or so for the first month to weigh the baby and provide even more help. We have an appointment to take Elsa in for her first check up actually IN the clinic in two weeks. I absolutely love this set-up, and when I feel homesick, it helps me to remember the really good things about the place I chose to live; like that the government invests its resources in creating a healthy, well-educated society, which are both goals I can fully support!

People here pay ridiculously high taxes, but that money goes to education, healthcare, social security, and other services the government provides to take care of its people. In America, our tax dollars do go to some support services, but a huge amount also goes to killing people in less fortunate places. All of which begs the question; Why can't Americans take better care of themselves?! We pretend like we're the biggest, strongest, best-est country in the world, but we neglect the poorest of our citizens. Only recently have we started to embrace the idea that adequate health care is a human right! Imagine an America where a university education costed $600 per year....what kind of a country would we be able to make then? Think of all the talent that is going to waste because of the prohibitively expensive price of a college education, and higher taxes to support a 'socialist' state doesn't sound that bad. That's the end of my lil' rant...mostly I feel very lucky to have been given such excellent education and care and support while living here.

Oh, and Tumi gets 6 months PAID PATERNITY LEAVE! Thank you, Iceland!"

'Cause as much as familiarity has bred contempt, one needs reminding from time to time that Iceland can be pretty fucking awesome.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Foot in Mouth

So Iceland's Prez, good ol' Oli Gris, has done it again.

Infamous for his less-then-well-considered faux-pas (as well as his unabashed cheerleading for the pack of banksters responsible for bankrupting the island) like "You ain't seen nothing yet!" and "We will not pay!", Oli has topped himself by scare-mongering about a possible Katla eruption at the absolute worst time to do so.

Now, I for one think he should step down, but then again I think the entire political class in Iceland, left right and center, should just admit they have no idea what they are doing, knew exactly what they were doing, and fuck right the hell off.

However, as there is a longstanding political culture of non-accountability on this blessed rock, I don't see any of that happening.

So what to do about Oli?

Well, while I usually can't stand the tendency of Icelandic institutions to go gonzo protectionist on their language (it is illegal for MPs to address Parliament in anything but Icelandic, and even my work place, which has four non-native workers requires that all meetings and communications from management be made exclusively in Icelandic) in this case I can see a practical use for it.

Pass a law stating that whoever holds the Office of President of Iceland must at all times when addressing anyone in an official capacity speak Icelandic. Then hire a translator who can edit out his more painful attempts to swallow his own ankles...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


We all know that socialized medicine is immoral, un-American, un-Christian, causes homosexuality, pre-mature baldness, hip-hop music, vampirism, and is just one more bar of conveniently dropped soap on the slippery slope down into the pit of demonic progressive tyranny, but few realize just how far down that slope we've already slipped.

But instead of ranting about the current evil socialist programs busily burrowing through the once-hallowed flesh of America like satanic tapeworms bent on redistributing the very life-blood of America to their parasitic brethren, I figured I'd try to catch more flies with honey, and give my reader's (all three of them) a glimpse into what a true Libertarian Conservative future will look like, when we have finally rid ourselves of the Progressive scourge and their evil attempts to socialize our communities ,which they have the gall to call “societies”...we all know what that means Ivan!

Presenting... “Let Free Markets Ring”


“911 Inc. What's your emergency?”

“Oh God! Help us! Our house is on fire!”

“Ok sir, just remain calm. We have you calling from 114 SW James St, is that correct?”

“Yes!...Donna! Get the kid's to the window!!!”

“Can I have your fire insurance carrier and account number please?”


“Do you have fire insurance sir?”


“Sir, are you eligible for Firecaid?”

“Oh god! The flames are climbing the stairs! Please help us!”

“Sir, if you are not insured or covered by Firecaid, there's really nothing we can do.”

“You can't just let us die!”

“That depends sir, do you have life insurance?”

“Yes! With Capital Insurance!”

“What's your account number sir?”

“Cough cough cough...oh god...its 299-15-667!”

“And your policy covers everyone there?”

“cough cough, yes!”

“Ok, I see you're paid up, a rescue crew is on the way, if they get you out there be a $40 co-pay.”

“Thank God! Hey honey, keep the kids by the window, firemen are on the way!”

“I'm sorry sir, but you and your family are only covered for rescue, we'll have to let the house burn.”

“Goddamnit, just get us out of here!”

“There's no reason to be abusive sir, none of this would be necessary if you'd just bought fire insurance.”

“They dropped me! ...cough cough cough...My dad's house burnt down when I was six, so they said I was a preexisting risk!”

“Well sir, that's not my problem. You just hang on, try to breathe out the window, and the rescue crew will be with you shortly. Please have your co-pay ready and thank you for using 911 Inc.”


“911 Inc. What's your emergency?”

“There's someone in the house with a gun.”

“Remain calm, is the gunman in the room with you ma'am?”

“No...I'm hiding in the closet. Please send help!”

“We have you at 24 Western Way, apartment 2, is this correct?”


“Ma'am, I'll need your insurance carrier and account number.”

“Yes...oh god...I've got Crime and Mishap insurance with Freedom Limited, account number 22-45-1987...please, he's coming this way.”

“Try to remain calm, Law Enforcement Inc. is on the way. Do you have life insurance in case the gunman takes you hostage?”

“Its a different company, Western Value, account number 7364-834-253!”

“Alright ma'am. Our records show you'll fully covered, just keep your head down, and officers will be there any second...”

Easter Blog.

Easter Sunday, 2010.

Tonight I was made to feel very, very small.

I stumbled out of Embla's family summer house, too full of whiskey, barely recovered from my traditional Easter Vacation Flu, to smoke an obscenely uncalled for pipe, when I looked up.

Northern Lights.

Not the brightest or most colorful I've ever seen, not by a long shot. Dull enough that the jaded elders at the gathering poo-pooed them and went back inside to argue about what DVD to watch.

Me, I stood there staring. I've seen them before of course, but never so much at once. The whole sky, from horizon to horizon was a subtle, shifting, melding green water-color wash, spiraling above this lonely farmstead in walls a photon wide and a hundred miles tall before racing off at the speed-off-light-deciding-to-notice-magnetism across the sky, careening into itself, rebounding, rolling, waves on a sea that we've forgotten we can sail.

I sat there thinking that there may well come a day when we can all agree what the Northern Lights are, but I hope we never agree what they mean.

Tonight, to me, they meant this.

I'm a tiny little organism, crawling through my whiskey-soaked, tobacco-stained existence. I'm never going to see the Earth from orbit, my feet will never tread lunar soil. With a lifetime to spend and a fortune to propel me I would never glimpse but a fraction of the wonders of this planet, let alone worlds untraveled and unnamed.

But I wish to whatever power you believe in that we'd get off our collective asses and start!

We're better than this people. We are more than our economics and our petty nation-states, our dogmas and our superstitions, our fetishes and idols. Or at least we should be. We, the collective meaningful we, should be out there staring into the furnace of creation, planting fields in alien soil and singing in atmosphere so foreign that our melodies are remade into gravity's songs.

We need something truly heroic in our lives, in the bigger-than-all-of-us-because-it-is-all-of-us sense.

When my parents were children my grandparents generation sent men to the moon.

And then they stopped.

That was the one of the most underrated tragedies of the 20th century. Yes, there was genocide and ecocide and war and pestilence and famine, but frankly that shit had all been done before and has been done since. Lamentable yes, heartrending yes, never fucking again yes, but not specific to the 20th. After finally witnessing its own utter cosmic insignificance, humankind decided to just give up and stay home.

Which brings me around, as it usually does, to me.

Who's going home.

Icelandic has these two words that form a brilliant symmetry; útþrá and heimþrá. Þrá means essentially “desire” or “longing” so heimþrá is the longing to go home, and with that, the love of home, and útþrá is its complementary opposite, the longing to discover, the love and desire for that which is outside of your experience. I'm currently feeling these same things in equal proportion.

And so should we all.

The love of one's home and the desire to explore are not contradictory, they are complimentary.

But people, especially lefty intellectual types and their complementary opposites on the right have long argued that space exploration is a waste of time and money, that we “have problems here on Earth to solve first”.

And they're right. To a point. We do have problems that need solving.

So let's fucking solve them already.

We have the necessary wisdom, knowledge, and will to feed, shelter, clothe, educate, care for, and encourage every single person on this planet. Don't even try to argue with me. We could do it if we wanted to.

We could make our home not a Utopian (nasty things Utopias, always with the fascist nastiness just under the surface) but so much better than it is now that our children's children would hardly believe it. It wouldn't be that hard. We have the technology, we have the systems, we have the theories of ethics, of politics, of economics, etc.

Which leaves me wondering, chicken or egg? Is the fact that we went to the fucking moon with far less computational power than the average IPhone going to wake people up to the fact that solving our earthly woes isn't about finding some new miraculous technology, or is finally getting off our asses and out into the cosmos finally going to convince people that we're all in this together so we might as well fix shit when its broken?

I honestly don't know. I can't tell you.

Because tonight I feel very, very small in the face of existence, and its glorious.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Couldn't help myself...

“Please, where is line for second-class peoples?”


“Where is line for second-class peoples?”

“Talarðu ekki íslensku?”

“I am sorry, I not understand.”

“grrr...Ok, vhat is your question?”

“I am needing food, what line do I stand in please?”

“Vhat is your flokkur, you know, your rating?”


“Your rating, yes, vhat is it?”

“I am sorry, I not know.”

“....útlendingar...OK, I vill explain. That line is for Icelanders, they get served first, don't stand there!”


“The next line is for hálf-útlendingar. People who have Icelandic citizenship, but are not Icelandic. Ewen if they have been living here a long time, ewen if they speak Icelandic, own a home or business in Iceland, are married to an Icelander, and have half-Icelandic children. That is vhat the sign says. Íslenskir ríkisborgarar af erlendum uppruna. See? Not íslendingar.”

“Yes, I see.”

“The next line is for E.U. citizens, or as they are called in Icelandic, erlent vinnuafl. They should go home but some of them don't understand the Icelandic system and stay here. Are you a EU citizen?”

“Sadly no.”

“OK, then you must go in this line, see? It is the line for mostly brown not EU people who come here to steal our jobs, cheat our well-fare system, steal our men, abuse our women, create mafias, destroy our culture, and steal food from the mouths of our starving children.”

“But I am not coming here to do that!”

“Oh good. Ve keep trying to make them go home, but nothing vorks! They have to pay taxes for it, but they can't get bætur, ve can send them home if they don make more than minimum vage, or if they can't afford to pay fines instead of going to jail, and ve have a rule that they can only get a job if no Icelander vants it, and still they keep coming! But if you are not here to do that, vhy are you here?”

“I am coming here to teach dancing.”

“Vhy didn't you say so! See that much nicer line over there? That's the line for exotic foreigners who make Icelanders feel cosmopolitan and culturally hip. You belong in that line!”

“Why is they all so high?”


“I sorry, I mean to say why are they so tall?”

“Oh! Ha ha. Oops. That is also the line for foreign athletes.”

“Oh. I understanding. Thank you. Please can I ask one more questions?”


“The place with leather arm chairs and free champagne, who is that for?”

“Oh, well, that is for íslandsvinir.”

“Um...I am also friend of Iceland. Can I go there?”

“Vait a minute, I thought you don't speak íslenku!”

“I don't but the author does, he just forgot about it 'cause he ain't had enough coffee yet.”

“That would explain vhy all of the sudden your accent vent from generic foreigner to hillbilly Yankee.”

“Please to be regaining plot now?”

“Oh, yeah, sorrí. Anyvay, íslandvinir are rich or famous foreign people who like Iceland, or at least come to wisit once or tvice. Because they are famous, they make us look famous too, so ve give them special treatment.”

“Oh, like what please?”

“Vell, They never have any problem with getting wisas or vork permits, ewen if they are from outside of the EU, the police usually don't bust them for drug use, and if they are famous enough, ve vill grant them asylum or citizenship if some other country vants to charge them vith tax-fraud or something silly like that.”

“Really? Is allowed asylum seeking here?”

“Hahahahahaha. Ó mæ gadd nei! That is vhat that electrified cage ower there in the corner is for! Ha ha ha ha!”

“OK, I think I am understanding. Who is all the peoples in parkas though?”

“Those are tourists. Also the ones in skinny-jeans and ironic T-shirts. Ve like them, they come here and spend lots of money. They even tip! Sometimes they are so stupid they pay for other people's drinks! Best of all, they leave!”

“I see. Thank you so many for helping me. Could I ask one more thing?”

“Sure, vhy not?”

“Where can I be finding list of rooms to let?”


“Yes, am needing to find new place to live.”

“Oh, you mean “rent”, funny how you útlendingar can't even speak correct útlensku. Vhy do you need to find a new place to live?”

“There are homo-faggots living in the house!”

“Hólí sjitt! Ég trúi ekki að þú hafir sagt þetta! Hvað er þetta með ykkur fokking útlendinga! Þið eru öll svo helvíti fórdómafull!”


"Never mind. Here is your order. Do you want kokteilsósa with your fries?"

I know, I know. Mean. Ranty. Negative. Stuff I was gonna stop doing...but c'om! It's funny!