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Tuesday, March 13

"DUBAI" -- to be included in Evil Paradises: The Dreamworlds of Neo-Liberalism, by Mike Davis, July 2007

As gas prices AGAIN approach $3.00 a gallon, I wonder what it will take for all of us little people around the world to find a way to become less dependent on this black gold. When will we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH??? Are we really that addicted to oil? Of course we are and we all know it. Our First Family reminds us of this frequently. Last year in his SOTUA Mr. Bush declared that: "America is addicted to oil" and vowed to push for alternative energy sources allowing the United States to replace three-quarters of the petroleum now imported from the Middle East by 2025. Presenting his agenda for his sixth year in office, he also vowed to steer more money to scientific research and education while working to reduce health care costs.
Lady Laura also pops up on occasion to remind us of our addition.

How does one overcome an addiction? Well, first one has to be willing to acknowledge this addiction and then secondly, be willing to do something about it -- right? O.K. -- I'll start: "Hi, my name is Jersey Cynic, and I'm addicted to oil" -- WHO'S NEXT.....?

All righty -- I heard you all loud and clear! We're all on the same page here. Now, together we work really hard to find solutions. Right? Hmmmmm....let's see.

Well, the first problem is how do we get to work? We need to constantly fill up the tank to drive umteen miles away because we really fucked up everything with that whole urban sprawl set up and now "We're literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up" - James Howard Kunstler from The End of Suburbia -- HUGE PROBLEM. Does that mean we give up? I'm willing to cut back as I am sure many people are (or are forced to) also. I'm sure there are companies and individual entrepreneurs out there tyring to find alternatives. I just don't know anyone personally involved in this field to get a handle on how much effort is being put forth. Does anyone know anyone who does this for a living? I would think that by now, all of us would know plenty of people employed in this effort, since Mr. Bush has promised to push for alternative energy sources. I guess I just don't get out enough.

Another HUGE PROBLEM is that practically everything we own is made of plastic. How are plastics made? This is a very interesting read.
Did you know "The first synthetic plastic was made from the plant material cellulose. In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt, an American printer and inventor, found that cellulose nitrate could be used as an inexpensive substitute for ivory. The mixture could be plasticized with the addition of camphor. Celluloid, as this new material was called, became the only plastic of commercial importance for 30 years. It was used for eyeglass frames, combs, billiard balls, shirt collars, buttons, dentures, and photographic film."

In 1951, two young research chemists for Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Okla., made discoveries that revolutionized the plastics know the rest.

And the other HUGE PROBLEM is that we use lots of oil to keep warm in our homes, and to heat our water, etc...... I don't know about you, but I haven't come across too many local solar panel shops in my area so I can convert.

So, what will it take to REALLY get us to say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore?" I am an addict. I am crying out for help. I want to quit, but it seems impossible. Oh sure, where there's a will there's a way, blah blah blah, but the odds are really stacked against us here to succeed. Very frustrating - eh?

So, who are these "drug-lords" keeping this addiction so epidemic across the globe? Well, I found them. After spending the last few days exploring this fantasyland called "Dubai" -- you know -- the place where Halliburton is moving its headquarters -- everyone on the face of this planet should be screaming that phrase out their front doors at this very moment.


Maybe when this new book by Mike Davis, et al, comes out in July, the word will get out and piss enough people off to finally say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

"Evil Paradises" is a global guidebook to phantasmagoric but real places—alternate realities being constructed as "utopias" in a capitalist era unfettered by unions and state regulation. These developments—in cities, deserts, and in the middle of the sea—are worlds where consumption and inequality surpass our worst nightmares.

From Amazon:

"Davis and Monk have assembled an extraordinary group of urbanists, architects, historians, and visionary thinkers to reflect upon the trajectory of a civilization whose deepest ethos seems to be to consume all the resources of the earth within a single lifetime."

If you would like to get a jump on the book, TomDispatch ran an article about it back in 2005:
Tomgram: Mike Davis on a Paradise Built on Oil It's an eye-opening read (and has lots of pretty pictures!):

"Moreover, Dubai can count on the peak-oil epoch to cover the costs of these hyperboles. Each time you spent $40 to fill your tank, you are helping to irrigate Sheik Mo's oasis.

Today, Dubai's security is guaranteed by the American nuclear super-carriers usually berthed at the port of Jebel Ali. Indeed, the city-state aggressively promotes itself as the ultimate elite "Green Zone" in an increasingly turbulent and dangerous region.

Sheikh Mo, who fancies himself a prophet of modernization, likes to impress visitors with clever proverbs and heavy aphorisms. A favorite: "Anyone who does not attempt to change the future will stay a captive of the past."

Yet the future that he is building in Dubai -- to the applause of billionaires and transnational corporations everywhere -- looks like nothing so much as a nightmare of the past: Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby."

(Mo pictures here and here)

I won't even get into the contract laborers, "legally bound to a single employer and subject to totalitarian social controls, that make up the great mass of the population. Dubai lifestyles are attended by vast numbers of Filipina, Sri Lankan, and Indian maids, while the building boom is carried on the shoulders of an army of poorly paid Pakistanis and Indians working twelve-hour shifts, six and half days a week, in the blast-furnace desert heat. Human Rights Watch in 2003 accused the Emirates of building prosperity on "forced labor." Indeed, as the British Independent recently emphasized in an exposé on Dubai, "The labour market closely resembles the old indentured labour system brought to Dubai by its former colonial master, the British."

"Like their impoverished forefathers," the paper continued, "today's Asian workers are forced to sign themselves into virtual slavery for years when they arrive in the United Arab Emirates. Their rights disappear at the airport where recruitment agents confiscate their passports and visas to control them"

Oh just wait til you read of all the other atrocities these slaves endure....... (3 year olds forced to be camel jockeys -- UFB)

Newleftreview did a quite an extensive review also:

"Dubai’s philosopher-king (one of the huge offshore island projects will actually spell out an epigram of his in Arabic script) --
Viewed from space, 1060 Water Homes at The Palm, Jebel Ali, will read: ‘Take wisdom from the wise people. Not everyone who rides is a jockey.’

He (Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum/aka Sheikh Mo) is well aware that fear is also the most dynamic component of the oil revenues that turn his sand dunes into malls and skyscrapers. Every time insurgents blow up a pipeline in the Niger Delta, a martyr drives his truck bomb into a Riyadh housing complex, or Washington and Tel Aviv rattle their sabres at Tehran, the price of oil (and thus Dubai’s ultimate income) increases by some increment of anxiety in the all-important futures market. The Gulf economies, in other words, are now capitalized not just on oil production, but also on the fear of its disruption."

"According to a recent survey of experts by Business Week, ‘the world paid the Persian Gulf oil states an extra $120 billion or so last year because of the premium in prices due to fear of unexpected supply disruptions. Some cynics argue that oil producers welcome the fear of disruption because it boosts their revenues’. ‘Fear’, according to one of the senior energy analysts that the magazine consulted, ‘is a gift to oil producers’."

So, will "we the people" stand up and SCREAM (i.e., maybe stage a world-wide "stay home for a week" kind of protest) or do what most American's do best, say screw it -- "I'm going to Disney -- I mean DUBAI" for the week.

If it's the vaca, well, heads up -- you had better start planning WAAAAAY ahead:

crossposted at BigBrassBlog

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