Hawking Up Hairballs

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Hello, Mr. Orwell

More and more, it's beginning to look like George Orwell wasn't so much wrong about the future. It's just that his time table was off a little bit. Not only do we have the increasing use of doublespeak, and abominations like the Patriot Act, but even more sinister things like the implanted RFID chip. I'm including a link at the bottom of this post. It points to an article about Tommy Thompson, former HEW secretary. He's having an RFID chip inserted under his skin. An RFID chip is a radio frequency chip which contains information about you. Thompson is promoting it as a big benefit for people with health problems. Yeah, right. I've also read articles which suggest implanting these things at birth. Those articles usually take the angle that would appeal to parents, pointing out that, if all children had these chips, the police would be able to track those who were lost or kidnapped. As if kidnappers wouldn't just cut the frigging chip out of a child's skin.

Call me a cynic, but I'm telling you the that notion of RFID chips for people with medical problems is just the foot in the door. Call it step one. Step two would be to implant them in children for the reasons I stated above. Next would come the idea of replacing driver's licenses and Social Security cards with these chips. I suspect that there would be some public resistance to that, but just let a terrorist hit someplace like New York City while the debate was going on. The government would come out saying that everyone had to have the chips so they could be used to hunt down terrorists, and the sheep would all line up to have these little electronic minders inserted.

Of course, if James Howard Kunstler is right in his book The Long Emergency, we won't have to worry about any such thing because we are in the era of peak oil and everything's downhill from here. I don't know about that, and I can't really recommend the book, as such, because it is so poorly organized and, in places, poorly researched. However, he does bring home one point, namely, that as oil becomes more and more scarce, which isn't hundreds of years or even several decades away, our way of life is going to have to change in a very profound manner. All aspects of life in America depends on oil, and in a big way. There's our driving habits and suburban lifestyles, but it goes way beyond that. Our forms of agriculture are incredibly oil-intensive, from the machines used in farming, the fertilizers and such that are all made from oil, to the trucks that are used to ship agricultural products to market. Virtually all of our medical drugs are synthesized from oil products. All plastic is made from oil. You get the picture.

Kunstler looks at the situation in a way that hadn't occurred to me before. Every since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we have been living off of stored sunlight in the form or coal, oil, and natural gas. In the space of a few hundred years, we have consumed millions of years worth of that stored sunlight. When it is gone, that's it. There is no more and there are no viable substitutes for it. I don't want to go into the reasons why. If anyone is interested in the details, I suggest Kunstler's book, even with its flaws. My conclusion after reading the book is that we should all be taking energy consumption much more seriously than we do, and I'm not just thinking in terms of personal consumption, but in terms of changing public policy, and changing it now. Not much chance of that though, not with the corrupt Administration now in power. And so we go, slouching into the darkening future.



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