Fossil Fueled Misery: The Chinese Traffic Jam

A site devoted to OIL FREE FUN has to call humanity out on it's FOSSIL FUELED MISERY.
So here we go...

The Mega Jam, courtesy AP
Right now there is a traffic jam North of Beijing that has lasted over two weeks and is forecasted to persist for at least another three.  The jam stretches over 60 miles and - in the slowest stretches - moves less than a mile every 24 hours.  Some exceptionally-shit-upon individuals have been stuck in the jam for over a week.

Imagine that...

The Chinese are publicly blaming road construction and accidents for the jam, but the real problem is hand-over-fist economic growth throughout China.  The gridlocked road is used to transport coal from mines in Mongolia.  Demand for coal is skyrocketing to fuel growing electricity "needs". Meanwhile, ~2,000 new cars are purchased daily by the people of Beijing.  The existing infrastructure just can't keep up.

A wise professor back at Minnesota's SJU brought this inevitability to my attention a decade ago, and I read a National Geographic article touching on the idea several years ago.  Nothing is new here.  I'm just addressing it in hopes of clueing people in.

Chinese CONSUMERS are buying close to 17 million new automobiles over the course of 2010, a 25% increase over 2009.  In 2009, an even more remarkable 49% increase over 2008 sales took place.  Mind you, this increase is taking place during a global recession when worldwide auto production as a whole is decreasing ~13% annually.

This not just short-sighted but utterly-blind economic trend is GOOD news for the Chinese Economy (aka WAR MACHINE) because it fuels rapid growth and the eventual eclipse of the United States as the world's largest economy.  China recently surpassed Japan, storming into the number two spot.  It is forecasted to become #1 around 2017.

Meanwhile, China's Oil Industry has had some catastrophes of their own, including an exploded pipeline in what was recently voted China's "most livable city".  As firefighters fought the blaze, over 11,000 barrels of crude leaked out into the surrounding waters.  There was so much oil flowing out of control that people were literally drowning in it...

Here in the most wasteful country in the history of the planet, we currently buy ~10 million new cars annually.  This is ~7 million less than the Chinese are currently buying.  If we got our heads out of our asses that number would drop substantially as we made legitimate strides toward sustainability.

Instead, our economic and political "leaders" are fearful of our inability to match China's ecologically-devastating economic growth.  Here in the USA, we're incentivized towards buy new cars.  Here in the USA, it's pretty damn hard to live a "normal" life without owning a car.

Why is this?

Throughout the last 60 years, three of the most powerful economic tools here in the USA have been the single family home, the personal automobile, and the television.

The television rots brains, spreads dogma. and breeds mindless consumerism.

The personal automobile is an expensive, infrastructure-intensive, lifestyle-dictating machine that enables additional consumerism.  Folks would buy a hell of a lot less if they had to carry all that crap home on their backs.

The single family home necessitates automotive transportation systems.  From the shallowest, shiniest (aka deepest, darkest) suburbs you can't get anywhere worth going without a car.  Also, the single family home necessitates endless accessorizing, maintenence, energy consumption, and blah blah blah.

All that building, buying, and burning keeps the masses at work.  The corporations are enriched.  Our government takes a hearty cut off the top and beefs up our collective killing machine.

Perhaps our current Depression is a good thing.  At least it's slowing us down.

New Chinese Suburbs, courtesy National Geographic
If you're wondering what accounts for China's rapid growth recently, the simplest answer is that they've followed our American example.  By enthroning CONSUMERISM where COMMUNISM once reigned, they've self-motivated into a nation fueled by GREED...  and, increasingly, OIL.

China is motivating it's people towards increased productivity with the same false promises we suffer from here.

False promises?  Sure.  The planet can't support even a few hundred million insatiable consumers... let alone several BILLION.  Thus the whole concept of CONSUMERISM is rooted in fantasy.  The economic model of UNLIMITED GROWTH is equally unrealistic.  

About 300 million people live in the USA.  China's population is 1.3 billion.  The Chinese are buying, burning, consuming, and polluting more by the day.  For reasons that should be obvious, this is really BAD news for anything living and breathing on Planet Earth.

How can anyone sane argue otherwise?

In the war for economic (and thus military) superiority our ARTIFICIALLY
 OVERINFLATED "NEEDS" have been the backbone of our strength since the end of WWII.  Now China is mimicking that CONSUMPTIVE LIFESTYLE and is quickly becoming wealthier, stronger, and more detached from sustainable reality than even We.

Many rich, old assholes here in the USA find this future unacceptable.  They'll send plenty of poor folks off to fight to keep China from eating our lunch.   They'll continue trashing the planet in a misguided attempt to retain our global dominance.  They're no righter in the head than the Chinese leaders who've enthroned the automobile at a time when any true human realizes it's an obsolete, polluting, and unsustainable transportation system and economic tool.

When China and the US burst out of their britches,  the grand scheme future won't be pretty.

We're fortunate to live at a time when such interesting and epochal changes are taking place.  The best we can do personally is to embody the change away from wastefulness and consumerism that needs to take hold globally.

Humanity needs to realize it's possible to live OIL FREE: as a species we did fine without fossil fuels for hundreds of thousands of years.  In order for folks to embrace this lifestyle, it has to seem like a lot of FUN.  Hence OILFREEFUN. 

Ohh yeah, and we need to stop intimidating, tricking, swindling, fighting, and killing one other out of FEAR and GREED.  That sort of shit sends our species backwards.

Stop being a greedy little bitch.  Be the change.

Lyric of the Day:  Grateful Dead, Ship of Fools

Went to see the captain
Strangest I could find
Layed my proposition down
Layed it on the line;
I won't slave for beggar's pay
likewise gold and jewels
but I would slave to learn the way
to sink your ship of fools


Saw your first ship sink and drown
from rocking of the boat
and all that could not sink or swim
was just left there to float
I won't leave you drifting down
but woah it makes me wild
with thirty years upon my head
to have you call me child


The bottles stand as empty
as they were filled before
Time there was and plenty
but from that cup no more
Though I could not caution all I yet may warn a few:
Don't lend your hand to raise no flag
atop no ship of fools 

Ship of fools
on a cruel sea
Ship of fools
sail away from me
It was later than I thought
when I first believed you
now I cannot share your laughter
Ship of Fools
No I cannot share your laughter
Ship of Fools


Pure Brilliance...

This one's for guys like Foster Friess.  Clearly, I'm not the only one paying attention...

Generally speaking, I hate Aerosmith.  But even they know too...

Lyric of the Day.  Mainstreamin' it...


So You Wanna Be A Ski Bum?! 10 Things You Need To Know.

For thedeal.cleansnipe.com... check it there for better formatting... if you like it, share it...

             Moments like this make it all worthwhile.

Let me guess.

You just finished school and are deciding what to do next.  For an assortment of good reasons  (but mostly cuz’ no one would  hire you) there’s no mind-sucking corporate job in your immediate future. 


And anyhow, all positions in your particular field have been sent overseas or never existed in the first place.

You’ve contemplated more schooling but want to take a  year or two off first.

Also a great idea!

Worthless diploma in hand, you’re scrambling to decide what comes next.  If your exceptionally dull parents would front you some capital, you’d turn it into real money in, like, two years.  If only they knew that you know everything! Unfortunately, they’re hopelessly stuck in their ways, and moving back in with them would be Hell.

You’re bored and need a change of scenery. The bravest, most adventurous, and least responsible aspects of your being scream out: Take flight!  Run for the hills!  Live the dream!  Go fuck off in a ski town!

And your mind wanders off to the SkiBumLandia of your Dreams.

I can see my own naive version of it now…
It’ll be just like Aspen Extreme – except modern and way radder.  Unlike T.J. Burke, I’ll have the sense to keep bangin’ the wealthy Cougar who immediately drags me back to her den.

I’ll get discovered, sponsored, paid, and fellated once I unleash the snow-slaying demon lurking within: after all, if I ride every day, I’ll get derdonkulously good super quick.

Party every night, ride powder every day, work very little (if at all), travel to exotic places in the off-season, suddenly surf really well, and eventually end up with substantial assets and nothing better to do than slay pow and manage my  clothing line.

Right?!  Only in dreams, my friend.  Only in dreams…

It’s not all powder days, shot skis, and infinite freedoms here in the Land of  Schussing.  Though certainly better than the Real World, the life of a ski bum is far from ideal.  In fact, most people aren’t suited for this world of powerful powders,  perpetual poverty and countless potential pitfalls.

As such, here are ten things you need to know before loading up the car and pointing it West.

1) All but the shittiest jobs are hard to come by. Ski towns are ridiculously expensive, and unless you’re loaded, you’ll need to work quite a bit.  In finding a job, it’s more about who you know than what you know.  In this economy, even finding a shitty $10 an hour daytime gig can be hard.  The coveted $20-30  an hour evening jobs are passed down like family heirlooms.

Unless you’re a golden boy or ridiculously sexy young lady, expect to start at the bottom of the service industry and slowly work your way up.  Scour the internet for listings and arrive a few months before the snow flies to assure you find decent work. Remember, the more folks you’re on friendly terms with, the quicker you’ll advance, but choose  friends wisely because….

2) Many “ski bums” don’t ride very much but most can party with the worst of em’. Alcoholism and drug abuse are widespread and — generally speaking — a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately, maintaining the college lifestyle long term is exhausting and expensive.  Also, it stunts your human development.
Some can afford to live a perpetual party because daddy is  footing the bill. Unless you’re a Trust-Funder yourself, regularly racking up $100 bar tabs and smoking yourself stupid is a great way to get spit right back out of paradise. “Paradise” is an overstatement, however, because…

3) Most ski resorts aren’t that sweet. Four out of five resorts are plagued by shitty snow and mellow terrain.  Many don’t have a very vibrant ski bum subculture either and, arguably, the subculture is the best part.  Choose wisely when selecting a ski town or you’ll end up wondering WTF you threw your life away for anyway.  With modern ski and board technology most resorts are  ridiculously easy to ride and the only real sense of adventure or test of one’s ability is found in the terrain park.  Being a park rat is all fine and dandy, but…

4) You’ll eventually fuck yourself up pretty good. No matter how cautious you are, it’s not a matter of if you get hurt, but when.  Also, Mommy’s not there to take care of you.  In fact, Mommy is probably pissed off that you threw your life away and became a ski bum.

Ride every day — or for the wrong reasons — and you’ll lose stoke except by perpetually upping the ante.  Shred an ACL or snap your back and you’ll find yourself unable to bus tables while facing $15,000 in additional debt.  Health insurance is ridiculously expensive and usually doesn’t cover ski injuries.  If you think you’re gonna get it from an employer, you’re still dreaming.

A good, affordable option is offered by the folks at Adventure Advocates.  Don’t leave home without it.  And when your buddies have the camera out and are coaxing you to go big, just remember…

5) You’re not going to get paid to ski. We’ve all dreamed of becoming pro riders, but unless you’re ridiculously good (and utterly fearless) you’ll never be one.  Many ski instructors claim “pro” status when actually they get paid to herd sheeple and shovel their shit.  Claiming this makes them more pathetic than they already are.

A mere handful of skiers worldwide are making a decent living off of  their radness.  A miniscule few make a long term career out of it.  Generally, 99 of 100 “pro skiers” are regular schmucks who occasionally get a little free gear in exchange for risking life and limb.  Even most of the guys you see in magazines and videos aren’t making squat.

There’s no real money to be made in hucking your meat, so don’t fall into that trap.  If you want to be a pro athlete, spend eight hours a day kicking footballs or something.    If you wanna ski or snowboard, ride for yourself because at the end of the day…

6) No one really cares how rad you are. You may score a couple BJs on the  gondola for getting nasty but beyond that there’s not much benefit to being “the raddest skier on the mountain”.  Unless you’re pushing out the boundaries of the sport itself, don’t expect much recognition beyond that of a small circle of mindless bro bras and clueless pro hos.  These folks will generally spit respect in your face but talk  shit behind your back.

Skiing is meant to be fun, and if you make it a cock-flexing competition it loses much of it’s allure.  Also, recall #4.  Also, know that the true test of legitimacy is for some strange reason linked to longevity and…

You'll see garbage like this everywhere.
7) You won’t be a true “local” for at least five years. Because they’ve got nothing else to be proud of, many folks who were born and raised in a ski town take an enormous amount of pride in being “Born-Here Natives”.  To us transplants this makes little sense, but the mentality trickles down and forms a Hierarchy of Localism that factors greatly into everyday social situations.
The most common questions you’ll encounter are 1) “Where are you from?” and 2) “How long have you been here?”  The best response is always, “I come from the North Country.  My people have hunted these lands since the Great Spirit made us here.”  Regardless of your awesome attempts at humor, rich old ladies will scoff at you for being a “skid” and jaded old ski bums will give you attitude.

Laugh all you want to –  I know I do! — but do so at your own risk.  Like many things in our culture that make no sense, this one can bite you in the ass.  That’s just the way it is, as it is with the…

8 ) SAUSAGEFEST!!! Ladies rejoice: your 1-10 “hotness” rating will bump at least three points the moment you set foot in a ski town.  Men will line up at the bar to buy you drinks and literally fight one another for the honor of dishonoring you.

Gentlemen, good luck.  Though women flock to some ski towns in the summer months, once winter rolls around it gets both cold and lonely.  Expect at least five-to-one odds stacked against you.  If you find a woman who’ll let you in bed, hold on with both hands and hunker down until spring.  At first glance, importing a girlfriend seems reasonable, but she will not enjoy hers,elf and you will not enjoy the perpetual onslaught of would-be suitors.  Your friends and neighbors will justify the assault with the timeless reasoning “She’s NOT your Girlfriend.  It’s just your turn.”  And they’re pretty much right.  Romance isn’t the only challenge, however, as…

9) Staying  financially afloat is the greatest challenge. Everything is expensive in a ski town: food, drink, gas, rent, entertainment, and all that shiny gear you thought you needed.  Debt grows quickly  where many jobs are seasonal and don’t pay enough to cushion existence with more than the bare essentials.
To cut costs, ski bums pack into  skid cribs that make frat houses look clean.  Ski bums camp out over the summer months.  Ski bums scrounge food and other essentials.  A truly savvy ski bum knows every trick in the book for getting by with minimal dependence on “The System”.  Unfortunately, after 40+ years of battling ski bum infestations, mountain town manifestations of The System know what it takes to keep things clean and pleasant for the tourists.  This is because…

10) At the root of every ski town’s economy is a real  estate scheme. Few ski resorts come close to breaking even on lift ticket sales, overpriced food, etc.   The real business plan is to lure tourists — with the scenic and recreational value of the resort community – into buying otherwise worthless high mountain property.  It’s an unsustainable scheme based on infinite growth, just like the rest of our Nation’s economy.

The big money interests in town are bent on making a buck, so the community has to appear pleasant and affluent or potential investors are scared away.  Like Disneyland, at great effort it’s all orchestrated to come off magically quaint and charming.  For this reason, subversive organizations, individuals, and opinions are often squashed.  Point being, it’s still very much the Real World, so if you think you’ll find enlightenment on the slopes of some ski resort, you’re in for a rude awakening.

For glimpses of enlightenment, you’ll have to get way the hell out into the backcountry and have death defying experiences under the influence of powerful hallucinogenics.

I’ll tell you one thing, however.  Ski bumming is about as good as it gets within the cultural constraints of our society.  You can push your own limits and, in doing so, push your awareness away from the wage-slavery and consumerism that defines most Americans' lives.

Opting to ski bum for a while can be the best decision you ever put off making.

Stay healthy and financially afloat and you’ll have a damn good time, whether it’s just for a winter or you decide to make a life of it.

Just be aware, keep a smile on your face, laugh at anyone who appears to be taking it too seriously, and open your mind.  You’re embarking upon a lifestyle with a long tradition or defying convention.

Rip it up!  "It" being all of IT.

Kitesurfing Cabo Verde: Unreal Video.

The real action starts about 5 minutes into this superb 20 minute video.  Before that you get a great glimpse of what life's like on a small island well off the coast of Senegal.  Intriguing stuff...

Not only does F-One make the best kites, but the best videos too.  Near as I can tell, this is as legit as it gets... especially the strapless riding in consequential waves.
 Manera - Waterman experience from BandOriginale on Vimeo.
In february 2010, a massive swell is forecasted in Cabo Verde.

The F One team met Mitu, Djo and Matchu in Sal Island.

Along the sessions, kiteboarding or surfing, you'll discover the story of Mitu and his close friends.

Manera is an immersion in the Cabo Verde's lifestyle.

This movie, filmed with the Red One Camera reflect our desire to share experience and passion for the sea.

Whtebark Pine Mortality: Aerial Survey

If you haven't taken a good look at this map of our area you don't know the full scope of the beetle problem.

This aerial survey was completed by Wally MacFarlane in 2009.  The plague has spread since then.

The areas highlighted RED are almost entirely beetle-killed trees.

Click the map for  hi res copy.

Make sure to check out the East Slope of the Teton Range.  It's certainly worse now than it was then.


Reflections At Blacktail Butte

A friend and I went climbing at Blacktail Butte in Grand Teton National Park this morning.

The routes are very hard there, and I'm only comfortable lead climbing a few of them.  We've all got our limits, and, though its right on the side of the road, Blacktail Butte is capable of showing me mine.

The neat thing about the climbing at Blacktail Butte is that its more an exercise of
and fearlessness
than it is a challenge of brute strength.

Living Human. Dead Tree.
After climbing, my friend and I sat atop the crag and gazed across the valley at the majestic Teton Range.  We pointed out exceptional patches of dying trees to each other.  From the valley floor to high in the peaks, we saw RED.  We also saw a lot of trees that appeared to be turning.

Autumn has apparently arrived in this Land of Evergreens.

Traffic whizzed by loudly down on the highway and up in the sky.  I counted seven private jets descending towards the airport over the course of half an hour.  I counted two dozen opulent land yachts cruising by as well.

Over that half hour of observation, by my ballpark calculations, at least 50 million dollars worth of absurdly frivolous and conspicuous garbage passed right before my eyes.

Who Are These Fools?
What Possesses Them To Consume So Much?
Where Do They Get Their Power?
When Will They Ever Stop?
Why Can't They See Their Hypocrisy?
How Do We Show Them The Proper Way To Live?

Those are some questions that really matter.

Think about it while enjoying the Lyric of the Day from SUBLIME's Bradley Nowell. R.I.P.

Early man walked away as modern man took control.
Their minds were all the same and to conquer was their goal.
So he built his great empire and he slaughtered his own kind.
He died a confused man, killed himself with his own mind.

We're only gonna die from our own arrogance,
that's why we might as well take our time.