Saturday, February 22, 2014

Unrighteous Dumb Minion

 In 1997 my van was new and “cool,” and I would have been labeled a solid middle class citizen. However, in 2014 I am more likely considered an old creepy dude driving a cheap piece of crap. Both assessments are correct.

Driving a nice car doesn’t make you a nice person.
Driving a big strong truck doesn’t make you big and strong.
Driving a beautiful sports car (yes, some machines are beautiful, in their own way,) doesn’t make you beautiful.

Cars don’t change who you are any more than clothes do. A piranha in a tutu is not a ballerina. A rat in a $600 suit is still a rat (even if--especially if--a banker.) You are who you are inside, no matter how you cover up. You may fool me, but you can’t fool you.


Paint Your Car for Eight Bucks!

Everyone likes a shiny car. (Crows, too, like shiny objects. Also, they mate for life, for better or worse.) Old cars can be made more socially acceptable with a gleaming new paint job, no matter how much juice leaks out their guts. We like to pretend there are no class distinctions in Disunited States, but fresh paint makes your car more “classy,” or even “a classic.”

Your options: A glittering high-class paint job from a skilled professional paint-inhaler for, like, $2000. Or, the “budget” version: remember "Earl Scheib" ? In the 1970s, any car, $99.95, one-day service (?!), quality impossible. The way they shellacked their workers was even worse. (In 2010, the company dissolved like cheap varnish in a rainstorm; a true American suck-cess story.)

Or: Do it yourself for an $8 can of Rust-Oleum from Crap-mart! This first-class repainting cost me a little more, ‘cause I paid my son to sand off the rust spots, since he has the height of a small forward (basketball vernacular) and the wingspan of an Andean Condor (almost extinct, btw).

Witness the class-transcending beauty:


The automobile began as our friend and playmate, but has bred an army of robot-monsters now actively working to destroy us. In North Amer’ca, very few folks can go food gathering without a car. Most think they must own one; the alternative is to (shudder) ride a bus with “lower class” humans, or (silently weep) walk with the lowest classes (or, if well-dressed, be labeled a “health nut”). Now the mechanical demons are taking over China, India, and the rest of the world. Our geese are cooked.

Not really the solution.
One horrifying fact is that autos produce deadly farts. Another is that if a person drives to gather food, instead of walking/running/foraging/farming like the prior many thousand years, they often become afflicted with a condition that cuts across all class lines: they get “fat.”

Food/car addiction is far more deadly than all drug addictions put together. Even if your body (or car) is a temple, bigger is not better. (Military recruiters nowadays consider obesity the single biggest problem facing new recruits.) However, the solution is simple: stop eating crap, and start walking everywhere. This may be a pain in your butt, but surely less pain than carrying a hundred extra pounds everywhere for the rest of your life.


Get more mileage out of your pathetic rotting “flip-flops” with a strip of duct tape!

I prob'ly got another week out of 'em, for $0.00037!


Bad news for oil/gas companies, their investors, and their lovers/defenders: global warming is absolute irrefutable fact.

If you are interested in having an opinion based on science, you might try reading this. Bill McKibben’s work has been consistently correct for 25 years. Most of you won’t read a story this long so I will summarize for you: we’re screwed. The oil and stuff that’s already “discovered” and “owned” is, by itself, enough to destroy life as we know it.

We can’t wait for governments to force us to change our ways. If we want to have a world for our great-grandchildren, we absolutely must change right now. Stop driving...stop flying in airplanes (who wants to be groped like a terrorist anyhow?) Walk or bike to “farmers’ markets” for local food (even so-called “organic” is often flown and/or trucked long distances.) Pretend like gasoline is $50 a gallon--because it will be, someday, when its true cost is figured in.

McKibben suggests that we end the rule of Big Energy the same way we, as a world, forced South Africa to end apartheid: sell all stock in these companies. Refuse to do business with them. Cut ‘em off at the wallet. It can work.

We can stop driving today, right now. If we don’t rise up against our mechanical masters and walk, we are all dead!

(Admission of hypocrisy: This was written while seated by a smoky campfire, having driven to a camp site, near the biggest copper mine in North America, where I had a job interview the next day. What a self-righteous ass!

For penance, I mined aluminum nuggets along the highway for a couple hours. Arizona’s draconian “open container” law ensures that every rural road is lined with beer cans, ripe for the harvest.)


Historian Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989):

“…we use incessantly that equally lethal weapon, the automobile, which kills fifty thousand annually in the United States, not counting the thousands maimed—a self-inflicted Hiroshima every year. If one adds to the human casualties the land the automobile has destroyed by highways and parking lots, the pollution of air by its fumes, the horrors perpetrated upon the countryside by its gas stations, the choking of cities by its traffic, it can be reckoned easily the most destructive instrument ever devised by man. Yet at its inception it was a wonderful instrument of freedom that whirled people at exhilarating speeds and opened up new realms of movement and travel. Now it has become a monster of which every person needs one or more, usually twice the size and horsepower necessary for utility. The proliferation and evil effects could be controlled, but are not. Everyone suffers, but no one calls a halt….
   There is a craziness about all this, a sense of forces getting out of control, of the machine running away with man, which is another source of the general uneasiness of this age.”

From Practicing History p.274


Note on the title, in case it makes no sense: I thought "unrighteous dominion" was a Christian phrase, but when I Googly'd it, discovered it is strictly "Mormon." A wacky, wonderful bunch, from which I am descended. The title refers to me.


Redjones said...

Interesting...your suggestion is, if I understand your overall theme, is to restore community. Bring back local farming and light man ufacturing to eliminate the presumed need for uncle Auto. This would also reduce the amount of trash ie containers and plastic packages boxes bundles and bags. If you want Wisconsin cheese, live in Wisconsin.

We have the technology to have 2/3 of the commuting workforce stay home.

Great stuff Cheap Dude

Jeffrey Jones said...

Thanks for reading good sir...and for's inspiring a rant this morning...

My overall theme here is that automobiles are killing us. We spend zillions on gas and cars, yet they kill more of us every year than every terrorist in the last 100 years put together. Instead of making war on the killers, we love and embrace and use them as status objects. We've set up a society where you have to burn gasoline to get food in most cases.

We could choose, or the gob'ment could force us, to drive far more fuel efficient cars, but no. Look how many folks driving down your freeways are driving alone--but it's uncool, and often inconvenient, to ride public transportation.

I am as guilty as anyone...I try to consolidate trips to the grocery and such, but last night when mama wanted a cheeseburger I simply got in the car and went and got her one. (I did make a stop at Home Depeaux for a sack of cement, to save a future trip.) We had food in the house, there was no need for the trip except for our culture of wanting what we want, when we want it. I see little old ladies driving Hummers--who the F needs to drive a Hummer? How many people driving down the road are doing so as a matter of life or death, which is what we are dealing with here? We're driving today to visit our sons...completely unnecessary.

We destroy Iraq, have sanctions on Iran (deadly for its citizens), and are now destabilizing Venezuela, why? They have lots of oil. We are building pipelines, which always leak eventually, destroying watersheds with "fracking" (and wasting natural gas there 'cause we're in such a hurry to get the oil.)

Our massive food production is based on burning oil too. Even if one was to argue that there is still plenty of oil, there is no denying that eventually the world will run out, and the whole shooting match will collapse.

Meanwhile, if you read the McKibben article, we're raising sea levels, cooking the planet, and it's happening faster than even the pessimists predicted.

It doesn't seem realistic to stop driving. But we have no choice. We can do it now and figure out a more sensible way to run the world, or we can sit and watch the wars and droughts and storms, and go lalala, think I'll go get a cheeseburger.

Again, I'm guilty as anyone, even while trying not to be. Our children are going to see a lot of shit go down as the overpopulated world fights more often and more vehemently for resources. Our grandchildren and their children are absolutely fucked.

Eventually all our food and community will be local, post-apocalypse. Or we can try and turn the tide now. I'm just trying to get folks to take another look at it, to produce some sensible propaganda that could save us, instead of the prevailing mindset that is guaranteed to destroy the world.

Thanks again for reading, and thanks especially for commenting. All is you were, soldier.