May 14, 2011
What an interesting news week it’s been. Early in the week, I read a couple of articles about a fungus that infects and takes over the nervous systems of certain ants in the jungles of Brazil and Thailand. The fungus then causes the ant to behave erratically, wandering the jungle for over a week until it finds the “perfect place” on the underside of certain leaves. There, the fungus forces the ant to bite down and latch on to the leaf in a grip its damaged jaw muscles cannot release. Over the next few hours, the fungus bursts out of the ant’s head to form its spore-releasing stalk. The ant dies, but the spores are now positioned to reproduce and infect other ants passing by. Fascinating, in a gruesome sort of way. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2011/05/09/2011-05-09_zombie_ants_bite_back.html and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/05/110511-zombies-ants-fungus-infection-spores-bite-noon-animals-science/)
And over at Energy Bulletin, a group of articles document an increasingly bleak picture of water scarcity and desertification in the American West, http://energybulletin.net/stories/2011-05-13/water-shortages-threaten-american-west-lifestyle the peaking of coal worldwide – sometime right about … NOW, http://energybulletin.net/stories/2011-05-13/peak-coal-year and the possibility that the natural gas industry has been (gasp!) lying to us about production capacity, costs and environmental damage. http://energybulletin.net/stories/2011-05-12/will-natural-gas-fuel-america-21st-century-new-report All of this, on top of peaking oil production and continuing economic woes.
In the meantime, the MENA countries are still aflame. The Republicans threaten to vote against increasing the debt limit if they aren’t allowed to cut the deficit by trillions on the backs of the poor, elderly and disabled. And the Democrats dance around insisting that we actually ask the wealthiest among us to (god forbid) join us prols in the sacrifice by allowing a small tax increase on the kazillions they’ve made off the country’s bounty over the years. In the LA Unified School District, librarians have been rounded up and grilled in a makeshift court, complete with judge, court reporter, attorneys and armed police officers, to ascertain the librarians’ competence to teach other classes in the district rather than be fired, as California joins other states across the nation in the big purge of public workers on behalf of budget cuts. http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-0513-tobar-20110513,0,4556094.column?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+latimes/news+%28L.A.+Times+-+Top+News%29 While, on the political news front, the big questions rage on: Can Mitt Romney distance himself from the fact that Obamacare looks a lot like Romneycare grown up, before the Republican base notices? Will or won’t Mike Huckabee throw his hat in the ring on his Fox News show tonight? And will John McCain beat the crap out of the insufferable Glenn Beck for insulting the Rubinesque Megan McCain over her “almost nude” public service announcement for skin cancer awareness?
We are falling apart, people. The head and heart of the body politic is in full rot. In their desperate attempts to save the crumbling Empire, they sacrifice the nation.
Has any of this filtered down to the collective at the bottom half of that body politic? Probably not. They’ve been engaged by the American media in the really important stories of the day: the discovery of porn on Osama bin Laden’s computers; Austin Kutcher’s invite to take over for the drug-addled Charlie Sheen on “Two And A Half Men” and whether Lady Gaga and Madonna might actually be sisters. (OMG do u thk?)
The mighty Mississippi, swollen with weeks of rain, rages on toward New Orleans – flooding thousands of acres of much needed farmland and swallowing whole towns along its banks. And I, like many others out of the flood zones, but not out of the incessant rains, am still trying to finish turning over my garden plot and plant my increasingly leggy tomato starts before food prices banish me from the consumer society.
The only potential bright spot in this whole morass of news this week was the note in the article on peak coal, that diminishing supplies of coal and coal energy might actually slow the poisoning of the planet from carbon dioxide and methane enough, by mid-century, to temper global climate change.
At the risk of waxing metaphorical here, folks, I do wonder if all this excess moisture in the air has bred a new breed of fungi that – like its jungle cousins with the zombie ants – has attacked the brain and nervous system of the body politic and turned us into zombies, too – latching on to our various ideological leaves in a death grip as the mutant spores burst out of our dying brains to pass the infection along to the next, possibly last, generation.