I watched a great documentary about Motown the other night, so please excuse the Marvin Gay reference. There is a lot going on at the moment. Let’s go through some things. Bear with me.

I recently read James Kunstler’s The Long Emergency“, and I’d thoroughly recommend you do too. It’s affecting my long-term goals and aspirations in a big way. To summarize, it’s about the passing of Peak Oil and what is likely to unfold. It makes for some scary reading, but it’s also serving to be inspirational. I might have to expand on this at some point… but not at the moment. More thinking and reading to do.

The USA’s Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden – in Pakistan. That’s a sovereign nation where the US military is not supposed to be operating. According to a spokesman, the US Special Forces currently operate in 75 countries, and that number is set to increase over the next year – to 120. It’s one thing to have a diplomatic presence in a country, but it’s something else to have an active military one – especially when you don’t notify the host government about what you’re up to. Will there be more operations? You betcha. Will that only serve to increase anti-American sentiment, when they should be considering pulling out of these sorts of situations? You can definitely count on that. For example, the USA recently signed a secret pact to stay in Afghanistan until 2024.

The US really should do something about its own record on human rights before tramping around the world telling everyone else they should enact their own human rights laws. But hey, when in the past 60 years hasn’t the US been tramping the world, telling people how they should live?

The unnofficial case against the Western protagonists of the Iraq War continues to build, with MI5 coming out saying they told Tony Blair Iraq was no threat to the West. Also Dick Cheney’s memoirs are out in which he continues to unapologetically defend his actions and policies. Can someone arrest these scumbags ASAP, please? There are more and more officials who would be willing to testify against them. Let’s do it! Oh, wait. Americans are now too distracted, too conditioned and too afraid to do anything. Also, the conservatives are busy setting up a gerrymander to keep as many potential Democrat voters out of the voting booth as they can. Looks like the real terrorists have won…

Alternet is becoming a go-to place for effective analysis of the American Republican Party’s policies and personalities as the 2012 election starts to gear up. Essentially, they’re all lying scumbags, but at least one can have a solid intellectual foundation for explaining why. Obama isn’t any better by the way. Ron Paul isn’t a viable option out of the crazies. If ever there was a time for a solid ‘third-way’ candidate to make a difference, this would be the time. I don’t expect it to happen though.

The new economic reality of America is changing the way people live and work. For example, here is a piece about Workampers. Nothing new, you might say, but it’s happening more and more as the US economy stalls big time. Here’s something else about how car washes are turning into sweatshops, along with chocolate factories, or how students in trouble are turning to that old standby, sex work.

The Eurozone is slowly moving towards a major existential crisis…

The Australian government tried to pass a law enabling them to send refugees arriving by boat to Malaysia for processing. That was shot down by the High Court. This article goes through the situation and some of the implications very nicely. Personally I’m very disappointed that the supposed left-wing Labour Party have ended up following the policies of the deposed conservative Liberal Party, in particular its 90s poster-boy, John Howard. Very disappointed indeed. Looks like the current PM could be headed to the chopping block since her criticisms of the decision have made her looking bitter, or in the words of the High Court, “‘irresponsible … extraordinary, unfair and curious”.

Woolworths and Coles are essentially the Walmart of Australia, with the recent price wars highlighting their dirty campaign to remove other brands from their shelves and replace them with their own ‘home brands’.

They’re talking the high-speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne again, again.

Oh, and quietly, Australia’s internet is now censored.

Moving back home is going to be quite interesting. It’s been ten yen years since I lived in Australia. Australia has always been a culture of haves and have nots – and the haves seem to become a bunch of over-indulged, whiny douchebags. It’ll be entertaining, at least…

But they are doing one thing right though. The Australian Government may soon pass laws that will, in effect, bankrupt the Scientologists. By legally defining the meaning of ‘charity’, they may be able to force the ‘church’ to back pay its workers millions of dollars, as well as the taxes owed on those wages.

An interesting look at the benefits of ‘lazy parenting’. I know it’s ironic that I’m a part of the industry responsible for the over-scheduling of children, depriving them of creative free time and the chance to enjoy their childhoods. However, I do believe that learning English is going to be become indispensable as global communication becomes a key for survival and prosperity in this current world. You can take your abacus-learning, flower-arranging and calligraphy clubs, along with your cram-schools and drown them in the sea for all I care about what good they’ll bring. (They reinforce a lot of negative attitudes that the Japanese have; namely Japanese exceptionalism, the culture of overwork, as well as teaching useless skills.)

With all the media’s attention focussed recently on the riots in London, someone or some group of people have been engaged in a campaign of torching luxury cars across Germany for some time now. Are there still areas of Paris that are set alight every summer, where the police fear to tread? The cities are becoming war zones…

Some more climate changey type things going on. The ice sheet on Greenland is starting to break up, with massive ice islands being calved and glaciers shrinking.

People in Japan always seem surprised when I tell them I hate Disney and everything about the Disney company. This article (and subsequent book) go a along way to explaining why. Essentially, Disney’s business model is based on targetting children – as young as six months old – in order to condition them to a certain world view, based on conformity to stereotypical roles and bland consumerism. If I ever have children, I will actively ban them from exposure to the Disney company, and if any friends give me anything for them from the Disney company, it will be burnt. Joyfully. Sorry.

The James Randi Educational Foundation has had a $1 million challenge for a number of years now. It’s getting pushed again since they’ve challenged some prominent media ‘psychics’ to prove their ‘ powers’ are real. One has made overtures, but we’ll see if any actually take on the skeptics. In her words, she’s the ‘real thing’ so she doesn’t have to worry about taking scientific tests to prove her abilities are real. Huh? I guess we just have to take her words for it. PLEASE don’t give these sorts of scumbags any money!!

As the military are always looking to get their mitts on the latest technology, you can be sure that invisibility cloaks will soon be coming to an army near you.

Lebowski.

Hot on the heels of the last post, here’s another one for you, to keep your brain ticking these long August days – or short August days – we don’t discriminate against hemispheres here!

Japan should lose its reputation for having the oldest people in the world. Sure, the population is ageing, but since the oldest man and woman in the world have recently shown up to be a) dead, b) missing, or c) likely both, then you not only have to call into question the sanity of those involved, but also the method which the government uses to keep track of people, for example the 105 centenarians missing in Kobe.

In Japan, current PM Naoto Kan is now trying to back out of comments he made regarding the raising of the sales tax from 5% to 10%. Despite that it is something that should have been down ten years ago, it is (naturally) unpopular with the electorate and runs the risk of lowering consumer confidence even more.Some good news though; house prices are falling in Japan too. How about looking to immigration to fix the population problem? Don’t count on it…

One of my awesome friends found this story about the shameful state of airport security in the USA. When a journalist can get through airport security onto a plane with a fake boarding pass, fake ID, carrying bottles of liquid, also carrying a Hizbollah flag, while wearing a ‘I ♥ Osama’ t-shirt, it really makes you wonder if anyone really cares or not. As George Carlin once said, airport security is there to give an illusion of safety so that white people can feel safe. I like the phrase the writer uses though; security theater (sic). It makes compelling, if not slightly enraging reading.

The Green Revolution changed the world after the Second World War. As the world seemed to spiral toward a future of over-population and under-nourishment, one man, Norman Boulaug, sought to change that. His three-pronged approach; to create better strains of seed, boost irrigation and develop better chemical fertilizers worked like a charm. The problem now is that we are now running out of fresh water, and to make chemical fertilizer requires oil and natural gas, which we’re also running out of. Borlaug himself saw the Green Revolution as a quick fix, asking governments to come up with longer term solutions, including solving underlying issues of population and poverty. Needless to say, we’re about to reap the reward of doing nothing about them…

Obama is turning into a president even more indecisive than Bush. Just look at his recent non-actions. For example, one promise was to remove combat troops from Iraq by September 2010. He’s now quietly dropped that promise, even renaming the brigades so semantically they aren’t ‘combat’ any more. Politics really is childish sometimes, except when there are nuclear weapons involved. That may be part of something else that Obama is wishing would go away, and that is the thought of Israel attacking Iran, sparking a wider conflict in the Middle East. Then there’s the collapsing economy, destroying the fabric of the USA from within, creating a failed state. There must be something very wrong with your country when you are cutting back public services, changing fundamental laws and basic human rights, inventing new forms of discrimination against black people and the poor, failing to stop the emergence of a right wing religion-fuelled fascist state, allowing a revolving door between government and industry to continue,  ripping up paved roads so you don’t have to maintain them any more, turning off street lights at night to save power, failing to heed your own lessons from history, not taking care of the long term unemployed or the poor, making education optional and closing public libraries, meanwhile pouring billions into fighting unsustainable wars and gutting entire sections of the country as a consequence… Something has got to give. As the man who predicted the Dow Jones’ spectacular rise in the 1980s now is readying himself for a similar spectacular fall. His advice? “Buy a farm you can tend to yourself way out in the boondocks. And protect it with high voltage fences, barbed wire, booby traps, military weapons and Dobermans.”

These were interesting reads on how the USA is completely missing the boat when it comes to “winning hearts and minds” in Afghanistan.

So how’s that 50 year oil spill in the Niger Delta coming along?

In a further nod to sci-fi, those miniature flying drones are coming to a peaceful demonstration near you, and a company is producing drones that can lock together. Minority Report really does have a lot to answer for…

In Japan, Disney stuff is everywhere. It’s nowadays almost synonymous with being Japanese. I’ve seen 70 year old women draped in Disney characters like it’s normal – and it isn’t. But in a way it does make sense. Japanese pop culture celebrates the infant and the infantile. It’s almost like the ultimate person to aspire to being is an 8 year old girl, so in that context, the celebration of all things Disney kinda makes sense. I tell people I don’t like Disney and am always met with gasps of disbelief. I can tell you if I ever do have a child, and anyone gives me anything made by the Walt Disney company, it will end up in the bin. Here’s why.

It is great to see Australia taking the lead on tackling the problem of homelessness.

A giant island of ice has broken off in Greenland, which may be related to global warming, or not, but the injection of enough water to supply the entire USA for 120 days into the ocean is surely going to do something, right? In that vein, at least scientist and religious fundamentalists are starting to agree that the end of the world may be nigh. A growing number of scientists believe the whole road to ruin began with the development of agriculture.