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Yesterday, we drove to Athens to visit an old friend I'd not seen in many years. Lately, it occurred to me how very odd it is that I've lived in Atlanta for more than four years and not once made the hour+ drive east and north to Athens. Yesterday, I found out why. Too many memories there, of one sort or another. A memory minefield, and I absolutely do not need those. As many good memories as bad, but that doesn't make much difference. Ghosts everywhere I look. Francis Phelan coming home to Albany. Every street corner and vacant lot was haunted with significance. But the visit with David was good. These days, he's an NPR dj and writes a very popular political blog as "TRex" over at Fire Dog Lake. That means we had to think about things to talk about that were not politics. He has not yet abandoned hope for this system, and I fear that I have, so political discussions are dicey.

But he played a couple of Tori Amos albums for me. I admit I tuned out after To Venus and Back (1999), so Scarlet's Walk and American Doll Posse were new to me. I was pleased to find that I liked most of what I heard. Oh, and he also introduced us to Télépopmusic, with whom Spooky and I are now smitten. We left Athens at sunset.

Athens hasn't changed a great deal since I moved away in August '97, though a number of my most beloved institutions are deceased (Blue Sky coffee, the original Jittery Joe's location, etc.). But the route to and fro has changed quite a lot. We drove in on 316 and back to Atlanta on 78, and both are now squalid monuments to sprawl and corporate saturation. And crazy Jesus billboards. The crazy Jesus billboards are something else new, and reason enough to stay inside the Perimeter of Atlanta (though I already had lots of good reasons). I should have made a list of all the billboards. I can only recall a few: COMING SOON! JESUS; Stop Hilary Now!; some crazy creationist shit; and so on. And on. And on. Howard Hughes will stay here in her overpriced, godsforsaken, queer-friendly ghetto, thank you and please

We made it home in time for a late dinner (11 p.m.), and then more Planet Earth ("Seasonal Forests" and "Caves"). And then my nightly share of insomnia.

Regarding my Earth Day post, I received these comments:

stephenhsegal wrote:

I will continue to think of myself as an earthling first, a human second, and all other categorizations a distant third. And for what it's worth, I will continue flying James Cadle's flag and trying to live by Fred Rogers' words: "Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel, a facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not."

One problem, of course, is that most humans do pretend they are not and so will not acknowledge that kinship, even among their closest relations — other primates. Or if they do acknowledge a kinship, they see themselves as somehow favoured above all the other inhabitants of the planet, not as fellow travelers but "stewards" or "masters."

This comment from corucia was especially appreciated, though I suspect he's just trying to cheer me up:

Our intelligence has given us the power to ignore the usual boundaries set on other species, boundaries that act to limit the expansion of a species. However, our intelligence hasn't done a single thing to negate the drive to expand that is inherent in all species. It's buried too deep for most people to even comprehend that it is there, let alone do anything constructive about it. Unfortunately for the human species, we didn't eliminate all of the boundaries, merely sidestepped the more common ones. Our drive to expand eventually will cause us to come up against a boundary that we can't think our way around, and our expansion will stop. In all likelihood, that will mean that our population levels will implode, as our current numbers are only supported by expansion, and not by maintenance, as you point out. If model organism population studies actually do provide a reasonable overview of likely outcomes, we could be looking at a drop of more than two to three orders of magnitude, leaving Earth with a human population of five to fifty million, or less. I would expect the technologically based groups to be the most affected. Once again, if model organism studies can be used as an indicator, the rapidity of the descent could be measured in years, not decades. It depends on how far out over the abyss we are when we finally hit the triggering event.

Sorry to be all somber and gloomy, but today is Earth Day, and not Human Day. The good news is that Earth, and life in general, will not have too much problem picking up and continuing, after the humans have effectively killed themselves off.

Also, my thanks to jtglover for the link to this article, which boldly, sensibly states why yesterday should be the last Earth Day. I do not agree with its authors' optimism, but they're dead-on about the corporate co-opting of Earth Day and the irrelevance of individual gestures in the face of environmental collapse. If you're the sort who looks at the two choices now before humanity — a) radical, immediate change or b) business as usual, leading to unspeakable misery and possibly human extinction — and chooses "a," then you should read the article.


Today needs to be spent polishing the "Yellow House" story for Sirenia Digest #17. There's so much else waiting to be done.

This would be a fine day for comments...


( 8 comments — Have your say! )
Apr. 23rd, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
Only because you asked for it...
Also, my thanks to jtglover for the link to this article, which boldly, sensibly states why yesterday should be the last Earth Day.

See, I thought this was a great article, but for me, it really only succeeded in inspiring despair than action. I have a hard enough time applying personal ecological responsibility (recycling, using public transportation, diminishing energy usage), how in the hell am I supposed to take responsibility for the rest of the damn nation (much less the world?). I concur that it is the profit systems which must be reformed in order to allow progress - but how in the lickety fuck is the individual to affect the megalithic structure? Earth Day's slacktivism won't, conscientious consumers won't, advocacy and political action appear gridlocked into impotence, and rhetorical and symbolic manifestos of protest (such as the call to "action" in this article) weigh in so anemically with regard to practical action/effort/work as to be functionally irrelevant. So what the hell is the answer? Is there a roadmap? A plan? An outline? Some notes on a postcard? Anything?

I am an angry, confused talking-monkey. Which, realistically speaking, means I'm walking around with my gob gaping; waiting for the first montebank's hook to come along, ready to be swept up by the first promise of an illusory solution (or better yet, an imaginary scapegoat).
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:26 am (UTC)
Re: Only because you asked for it...

See, I thought this was a great article, but for me, it really only succeeded in inspiring despair than action.

Truthfully, I have passed beyond everything but despair, at this point.

So what the hell is the answer? Is there a roadmap? A plan? An outline? Some notes on a postcard? Anything?

You're asking the wrong nixar. I see the problem, and I at least imagine that I see it clearly, but no solution. No, that's not true. If I had the power the sterilize 99.99% of the human population, I'd do it immediately. But I don't. And I'm not likely to in the future.

Where's Klaatu when you need him...
Apr. 24th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
You're asking the wrong nixar.

I know. I was going to keep my impotent rage to myself, but you did ask for comments. I'm just frustrated by all these calls to action which rarely do more than neutralize the desire to be active. What the green movement or whatever you want to call it really needs, what would really get people up and moving and being active and giving a damn, is a concrete demonstration that all that effort would make a difference. Us monkeys, we like results.

Where's Klaatu when you need him...

Probably in lockdown at Gitmo or some secret CIA/African prison.
Apr. 24th, 2007 01:52 pm (UTC)
f I had the power the sterilize 99.99% of the human population, I'd do it immediately.

Well, if it helps (and it probably doesn't), this breeder male did sterilize himself. 6.5 billion doesn't need my contribution.
Apr. 24th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
Sprawl. *sigh* I'm not sure how to explain that I can actually feel the claustrophobic atmosphere it causes here, as I sit in my house and can't even see it, but I can. I can feel it as if it were so close as to be visible from my window. I am aware that it's out there, just a few blocks over. I can no longer slip out the back entrance and be surrounded by corn. The concrete is here, and it is crushing. Bigboxes filled with crap from China. Chain eateries with lousy food. It all looks the same no matter where you are. I wonder if someone has done a study on how many people go bonkers from too much sprawl-induced stress?

We don't have many crazy Jesus signs. There is one between here and Richmond on I-70 westbound. Maybe they figure the eastbound people are beyond help.
Apr. 24th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
It is almost eerie the way in which bacterial or fungal populations growing in a rich medium resemble current human population growth rates... the more I've thought about it, the more I think that there's some intriguing extrapolations that can be made. Some organisms have some interesting adaptations to changing media conditions - if you're not familiar with some of these data/concepts, I can email you more details - that, when applied to human populations, lead to some rather offbeat possibilities for pre- and post-apocalyptic humanity. Not that I think we're really likely to possess such adaptations, but if present they'd lead to some grand old weirdness - biofilm formation, cellular quiescence, pseudoplasmodium formation, all sorts of funky fun.
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:06 am (UTC)
if you're not familiar with some of these data/concepts, I can email you more details

I'm not, really. Familiar with them, that is. But I would like to be. So yes, please. E-mail them my way. Thanks.
Apr. 24th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
I'll put something together and email it to you...
( 8 comments — Have your say! )

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