Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Kurt Vonnegut Essay

  1. #1

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468

    Kurt Vonnegut Essay

    http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0512-13.htm

    I found this essay very interesting. A little rambling, but there's something for everyone (mostly lefties, but he is quite religious, too, so)

    In light of the "Peak Oil" mania now in the media, the last couple of paragraphs are interesting.

    Maybe my favorite part reads:

    "I was born a human being in 1922 A.D. What does “A.D.” signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that.

    Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?

    No problem. That’s entertainment. Ask the devout Roman Catholic Mel Gibson, who, as an act of piety, has just made a fortune with a movie about how Jesus was tortured. Never mind what Jesus said.

    During the reign of King Henry the Eighth, founder of the Church of England, he had a counterfeiter boiled alive in public. Show biz again.

    Mel Gibson’s next movie should be The Counterfeiter. Box office records will again be broken.

    One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us."

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,747
    Vonnegut's always been a great read. Hard to believe he is now 81. He makes some good points in this essay. I especially like his observation that anyone who runs for president has to be a nut-case. Our secretary is a rabid Kerry supporter and I have not yet picked who I will vote for, so we debate this fairly frequently. I do not trust anyone who runs for president. They are all soooo out of touch with the rest of us.

    Thanks for the post. I had missed this when it was published.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Posts
    3,236
    Woah I didn't know that guy was still around.

  4. #4
          freewaytincan's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Richardson | Texas
    Posts
    124
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Woah I didn't know that guy was still around.
    And I didn't know he could be so hateful. I refuse to even click the link, by the way. I have nothing to do with them, either.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,747
    Better to read widely, and disagree, than to refuse to read at all. That's how we learn.

  6. #6
          freewaytincan's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Richardson | Texas
    Posts
    124
    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    Better to read widely, and disagree, than to refuse to read at all. That's how we learn.
    Don't worry; I found it on another site. I hope that I am never that bitter when I am his age (if I make it that far).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,747
    Quote Originally posted by freewaytincan
    Don't worry; I found it on another site. I hope that I am never that bitter when I am his age (if I make it that far).
    You really think he is bitter? I don't know (honestly). Sometimes I think we get more that way with age. Sometimes it's just realism, or the reverse, a closed mind. But always back to perspective. I read that essay as having a heavy load of sarcasm, but of course my perspective comes from my background. You made me look at it a bit differently.

  8. #8

    I'm rambling

    Reading the last sentences again and letting the Cyburbian stream of consciousness take over, I arrive at the debate/question of how much more oil is available?
    If we are not running out of fossil fuels, what do we do?
    If we are running out of fossil fuels, what do we do?
    Who has thought about this world where oil isn't in everything?

    From ABC news
    The days of bicycles dominating the streets of Beijing are long over. Today, cars congest every big city, with 2,700 new vehicles added every day. This is just one more example of modernization that has made China an oil-hungry behemoth.
    The price of oil is bound to get a lot higher than what we see today and China has everything to do with that.Oh and the possibility that production won't keep up with demand
    And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.
    I disagree with Vonnegut. Taking Iraq put us in the position to make sure there is a steady flow of oil into all the highly productive industrial economies. I don't think the government has any use for owning the oil (it's a political thing). Making sure production is stable for the long term is the objective. I'm guessing there is a lot more oil left.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    I disagree with Vonnegut. Taking Iraq put us in the position to make sure there is a steady flow of oil into all the highly productive industrial economies. I don't think the government has any use for owning the oil (it's a political thing). Making sure production is stable for the long term is the objective. I'm guessing there is a lot more oil left.
    You need to look up "The Hubble Oil Peak" (or something like that -- it is late, I am tired and might be mangling it slightly). Hubble did some groundbreaking mathematical predictions concerning some previous important turning point in oil production and cost of oil. Using his methodologies -- which have been proven to be sound because he accurately predicted ....whatever....ahead of time -- they know that we are approaching the 50% mark for total world oil reserves. Even the most wildly optmistic estimates of how oil is in the ground world-wide only add about 10 years to the estimated date of when we will reach that point. But more solid numbers put it a mere 8 to 10 years out from whenever it was that I took that class (probably 3-ish years ago). The first 50% of what you remove from the ground is cheap oil. After that, it gets increasingly expensive to remove it from the ground.

    The Middle East is such a hot bed for the oil controversy in part because most of their oil is in lovely, ideal geological formations such as former coral reefs. They are the equivalent of a rock "sponge" and they hold a lot of oil and pump easily. They are some of the richest and easiest to pump fields of oil on the planet. Therefore, they provide cheap, high-quality oil.

    As oil becomes more expensive and as new techonoligical breakthroughs are made, it becomes economically worthwhile to exploit marginal oil resources which previously were not used -- such as tar sands. But that is only worthwhile if the energy extracted exceeds the energy it takes to extract it.

    At present rates of usage, we have a few decades of oil left. But the end of CHEAP oil may be at hand in a mere 5 years. (I am ever so loathe to buy a car, even though ours is 13 years old and has no hub caps, little in the way of paint, and is increasingly mechanically unsound.) And CHEAP oil is the basis of our present American lifestyle, with two-car families and long commutes and "Road Trip" as an American icon of inexpensive vacations that even starving college students can afford. If you think gas is expensive now, just give it a few years. The price is already going up because we are already past the 50% mark for some oil fields. It isn't going to come down again. It WILL get worse -- much worse.

    The good news is that electric cars and hybrid cars and other alternatives presently are not selling well because they are "too expensive". When the price of gasoline goes high enough, electric vehicles and hybrids and the like will not seem so outrageous.

    But I have said all this on a few other occasions. So I will refrain from droning on with the rest of this repeat performance.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,715
    I believe this what MZ was refering to:

    Global Hubbert Peak
    http://www.hubbertpeak.com/summary.htm
    Last edited by JNA; 20 Jun 2004 at 7:14 AM.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  11. #11

    Seriously, I'm rambling

    But the end of CHEAP oil may be at hand in a mere 5 years.
    I'm shocked oil is still dirt cheap. I've read the Hubbert peak and it seems to make sense.The midpoint for production is somwhere around 2010?? I think forty years of oil is a lot of money and production. I'd like to see our country pull away from hydrocarbons. So I'll ask a question: How do higher oil prices benifit our economy and general way of life?

    Edit: I rephrased the question, it was a bit clumsy.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Downtown Atlanta
    Posts
    894
    I've always wondered what effect the emptying the earth of oil has on geology. Could underground oil be serving another purpose such as working as a shock absorber for tectonic shifts? That's a bit out there but there has to be some sort of side effect from removing all the oil and replacing it with oil or the water/chemical sludge I've heard some companies pump down after a well is exhusted.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Posts
    3,236
    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    I've always wondered what effect the emptying the earth of oil has on geology. Could underground oil be serving another purpose such as working as a shock absorber for tectonic shifts? That's a bit out there but there has to be some sort of side effect from removing all the oil and replacing it with oil or the water/chemical sludge I've heard some companies pump down after a well is exhusted.
    That tetonic stuff is really, really, really doubtful. :-} BUT! pumping oil out has been known to cause sinkholes and subsidence. I recently heard that geologists have linked the increasing subsidence of New Orleans (and the loss of the barrier marsh) to oil pumping in the Gulf of Mexico.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    TIO: As I understand it, gasoline is far cheaper in the U.S. than anywhere else. The price of gasoline is kept artificially low here (again: "as I understand it").

    I don't know about the tectonic stuff as far as removing oil from the ground but I do know that deep well injection as a means to dispose of highly toxic wastes has been linked to earthquakes. The folks doing the deep well injecting don't want to believe that their activities could possibly cause earthquakes. Can you say "denial"??

    And subsidence can be a serious problem. Once an aquifer has been drained to a certain point and subsidence occurs, I believe you experience permanent loss of capacity. Not that it really matters for an aquifer like the Ogalalla because there is no real hope of replenishing it in any kind of span of time which is meaningful in human terms. We have drained it of thousands of years of accumulation of good, clean water. One problem with subsidence is that it can alter the flow of groundwater. In coastal regions this can result in an aquifer becoming contaminated with salt water, which is generally considered to be an irreversal and permanent form of damage. Similarly, contamination of aquifers with pollutants is also nearly impossible to clean up.

    I have seen articles that suggest that the next round of wars will be fought over water. So these aren't trivial issues. The political skirmishes have already begun in some places, such as along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  15. #15
    Member Wulf9's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Near the Geysers
    Posts
    922
    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    So I'll ask a question: How do higher oil prices benifit our economy and general way of life?

    I suppose the answer to that is that the wise use of resources is always wise -- particluarly non-renewable resources. I think we should pass some of those resources on to our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and beyond.

    Higher prices reduce consumption. Of course, we can reduce consumption a huge amount without sacrificing our general way of life. The car example is a good one. Get an efficient car, drive the same amount, use half the gas. The "way of life" is generally intact if you define way of life as getting to your destination. I suppose it is not intact if you define way of life as getting there in a 3-ton pickup truck.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    skating on thin ice
    Posts
    6,958
    I wish I could have responded sooner, but the laefest and work got in the way

    I will preface this by saying that i am a huge vonnegut fan, so much so I don't own a couch or other furniture, but I do own one of his silkscreens.

    From my first, cursory, read of the article, he professes nothing that he has not identified in his other works, and his works are anything but "bitter". In Sirens of Titan he introduces the idea the church of the G*d that does not give a dam, combine that with the whole premise of cats cradle and his hysterical(and I don't mean funny) view of violence towards others and the images, questions and quotes he presents are totally within character and seem to resonate well today. I only wish he would sit down and write a new book.

    I will reread this artice (as I do most things I enjoy) and get further insight into a man I respect and has contributed to my values and ethics.

    thanks BKM
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Admissions essay
    Student Lounge
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 19 Oct 2012, 6:10 AM
  2. Essay Editing Services
    Student Commons
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 21 Nov 2006, 3:24 PM
  3. Question re Essay
    Perry's Cantina (archive)
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 01 Mar 2003, 5:59 PM
  4. New Essay: Prelude to the Fourth
    Perry's Cantina (archive)
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 21 Jul 2002, 11:33 PM