Sunday, November 22, 2009

The final episode of "Addicted to Money"

I just watched "Addicted to Money" episode 3 via iView on the ABC's site (scroll the list till you find it — only 11 days to go before it disappears). A tiresome business in South Gippsland where broadband is not much faster than dial-up, so it took me two hours to watch the last half hour of the program. In the end it was an exhortation to be virtuous. I suppose given the shortness of the program and the complexity of the subject multiplied by the contentiousness, it wasn't fair to expect much more. In the end I was surprised by the directness and honesty of the presentation but of course it could only skim the surface, leaving the courses of action to deal with the situation entirely up to us.

Which actions to take? This is where our all-to-human prejudices come into play, and I don't pretend to be free of them. But let me just say that focusing on the shortcomings of others, either at the highest levels of politics or in your own street is not likely to prove a sensible course. Look at what you are doing, and remove the plank from your own eye before you make comments on the speck in other people's. Also avoid the related problem of depending on your so-called betters to solve the problem for you. Forget about electric cars, wind power and all the other fluff. In the end, if you can't build it and fix it locally, preferably yourself, then it will suck all your blood.

What am I doing? In the next few weeks we'll be getting an aquaponics setup going at our nursery. Aquaponics will become a very popular method of growing your own produce, especially in a water-constrained environment. I'll keep posting our progress as it takes place.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our transition meeting

We had our third meeting last night, and we used the Shires "Zing" computer system which allows a large group to get through a lot of business quickly, without being dominated by the loudest voices. There were a few technical problems but they didn't really make any difference. The virtue of the exercise was a credit to Christine Hamilton, one of the Shire's employees, who did a great job of keeping us all moving and shutting the obsessive talkers up.

I'm now waiting for the Shire to email us the results. I've got a reasonable idea of what they are, having read through the whole thing last night while we were doing it, and I think it's fair to say that the results are a reflection of both the wisdom and the folly of the educated and socially concerned citizens in our little neck of the woods. The wisdom comes from recognition of the inexorable grinding power of change, the folly from timidity and a desire to hang on to the known and a lingering belief in a Millennial notion of Progress, where a just and virtuous class of scientifically trained experts will usher in a Golden Age. This belief is really the last bit of social glue that can hold a complex society together and motivate middle-class people, binding them to the necessary life of self-sacrifice demanded by the gods of technocracy. It is a belief that will die hard and cause a lot of pain before it does.

What do I mean by this? Well, it is the idea that lies behind a lot of the rhetoric of both the Left and the Right, which thinks suffering is Someone's or Something's fault, and some fiddling with the social fabric or the silencing, re-education or execution of undesirables will lead us to endless happiness. Or perhaps it's just a matter of replacing all the V-8s with electric vehicles and having solar panels on every roof. Whatever. Perhaps you get my drift, or perhaps not.

Let me lay my cards on the table. Life goes on, according to what Nature allows, which may or may not be in accord with our wishes. During the rise of our technocratic civilisation over the past several hundred years we "won" more often than we "lost", which is why there are now so many of us. During the next several hundred years it will be the other way round. Whatever we do now can't alter that overall fate. Our task is to learn to accept whatever the moment can bring us (because in any case, that's all we have) and do the best we can, without false beliefs in our exceptionalism and other types of pseudo-religious nuttiness that infect our oh-so-secular age. Maybe solar panels will be of some use, but I'm not wasting time on peripheral issues like that. Food, shelter and community are the main requirement. Place is the most important single factor. The rest is up to the Brownian motion of fate, or the will of the gods if you like.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Addicted to Money' again

I watched the second episode of "Addicted to Money" — it really is quite good. It's interesting that a viewpoint is being presented that actually seems to bear some resemblance to reality, when 90% of what one sees or hears these days is either spin, fluff or a combination of the two. For instance our Kev (Australia's Prime Minister) drops in to Afghanistan and lets us know "we're there for the long haul", protecting the corrupt, powerless government of a country which is producing most of the World's opium. Way to go, Kev! And he's a fan of a Big Australia, even though we have no water, bad soil and are pushing our ecological limits over the breaking point.

"Addicted to Money" looked at the real story: the shift of power to China and how the Chinese are in turn caught in the US debt trap. Dear little Australia continues to be a pawn in their game, to be discarded without a thought when our moment comes.

What an amazingly interesting time we live in, with profound change gathering all round us. We are in a period like the "Phony War": the storm clouds are gathering and lots of people all over the world are suddenly unable to keep things going the way they were, yet we're living in a dream that somehow we can keep it like this in Australia forever. Make your changes now, while it's easy! Get out of debt and get in to a way of life that can carry you when the storm breaks!

Next week is the final of "Addicted to Money". Not to be missed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Local Food Map Website

Gordon Rouse has emailed me with his map of locally grown produce. It looks like a great idea. I'll quote from his email…
I wanted to let you know that my wife and I have launched our food map at
The idea of the online map is to have locally grown produce easy to find wherever you are. You can search by keywords on your location, and registered producers will come up as icons on a map.

I am hoping as many food-producers from small vege growers to farms will put their farmgate presence on this map so that we can all find what is growing in abundance in our local area.
The system also allows users to subscribe to farms, which means growers can send out emails to their subscribers to let them know if there is a fresh harvest, or a large animal is being butchered.
I believe that this website could be an invaluable tool in meeting the aims of the Transition Town organisation, in promoting direct farmgate sales and food networks. I hope you can consider registering yourself as both producers and alertees, and maybe even letting your local members know about this through your contacts.
At this stage, there are only a few outlets in Victoria, so if you wish to see a demonstration of this working, I suggest you use "Melbourne Victoria" as your locality.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Addicted to Money": ABC TV nails its colours to the mast!

An interesting documentary, "Addicted to Money", was broadcast on ABC TV last night (Thursday). The Global Financial Crisis is so complex a beast that even those who are riding it for their own gain hardly understand it, so to expect a TV show to lay it all bare is a big ask. Television is a poor medium for intellectual exchange and the endless camera and editing doohickies filling up the space drove me nuts. The heavy-handed drug addiction metaphor irritated too, but there was no doubt of the conviction of the makers, or of their opinions of whose fault the whole debacle has been. Bankers, guard your estates!

Good talking heads interspersed through the show, particularly Elizabeth Warren who saw all this coming.

So it looks like the ABC is coming out of its corner fighting, after the long Howard years of being forced onto the back foot. Good oh! "Addicted to Money" is a series so I guess I'll tune in next week.