The Web

From the editor….

webLast night I was laying in bed with my face buried in a book when I gradually became aware of an insistent and annoying buzzing noise. Kind of like a tiny, far away chain saw, it was over-riding even the sound of the fan turning in my bedroom window.

Summer is here, and it’s fly season again for those big pesky house flies that get trapped inside and then relentlessly buzz and beat their brains out against your windows, walls and lampshades until you put your own self out of misery by executing them.

If you can…. Once they realize they are targeted for murder those big fat flies can become incredibly agile and wily at dodging fly whackers!

I listened to the maddening buzz for some minutes before I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to actually get out of bed, round up a fly whacker and then hunt the little bastard down before I’d be able to go back to peacefully reading my book.

As I launched into action and started out the door, the buzz became much louder. I glanced up into the corner of the room and found the aggravating little noisemaker, and also realized that he was trapped in a dangling thread of a web made by a house spider.

House spiders don’t weave picturesque and impressive orbital webs, they just throw some sticky stuff out there that turns into the cobwebs we all know and love. It’s not art, but it gets the job done.
This was great! The fly was trapped, so if I could just lay my mitts on a weapon in a timely manner I could nail him without exerting myself too much. No such thing as playing fair when it comes to fly control!

But wait… as I watched the fly swinging at the end of the web strand, battling and swirling like a roped steer at the end of a lasso, a wee tiny little house spider suddenly moved out of the corner and down the web. I hadn’t noticed it before because it was so small and my attention had been wholly focused on the fly.

The fly was at least five or six times as big as the spider…. A veritable leviathan by comparison. What an amazing little Wild Kingdom Drama playing out in the corner of the room!

Now I was completely enthralled by this dance of life and death. The fly would buzz and fight, then would go quiet, as if exhausted by the battle. At this point, the little spider would begin advancing down the thread, moving in for the kill.

As soon as the spider would get near the fly, the fly, sensing impending doom, would erupt into action again, buzzing furiously and setting itself to swing in a circle at the end of the thread… Do not go gentle into that dark night! And the spider would hastily retreat.

But what a feast it will have, if and when it finally latches onto its prey, as long as the fly doesn’t manage to escape beforehand. It was fighting valiantly, but my sympathies were totally with the spider, and if the damn fly does indeed manage to get out of the web, I’ll be hunting it down myself.

So I watched this action packed thriller for some minutes. Fly gets quiet, spider advances, fly goes crazy, spider retreats. Finally, I went back to my book. I wanted to see the spider achieve victory, but it was after midnight and my patience ran out.

The buzzing was not so annoying now anyway, now that I knew what was going on, and after a little while the buzzing stopped and when I looked up the fly wasn’t moving at all.

When I checked this morning, the fly is all wrapped up like a mummy and the little spider has drawn the body up into her corner for more convenient feasting. Spider wins!

But on to a different kind of web, the web of lies and deceit that surround us and entrap us and dazzle us, and that most of us simply accept as “Real Life.”

The book I was reading as I witnessed the epic battle up in the corner of my bedroom is from the P-A library and is titled “Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High Finance Carnivores.”

It’s written by an investigative reporter named Greg Palast, who is fiercely independent and utterly contemptuous of the criminal kingpins that are masquerading as the fearless leaders, politicians, bankers and corporate executives of our world.

It’s not like I already didn’t take a pretty dim view of these self-proclaimed masters of the universe who are raping the planet and its people in the name of obtaining even more obscene wealth (I mean, how many billions of dollars does it take for one to feel all comfy and secure?) but, even with my jaded attitude Greg’s book still provides some shockers.

This works dishes the inside scoop on several of the most recent ecological and financial disasters to devastate our planet, beginning with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. That whole “it’s totally the fault of a drunk captain” excuse really didn’t wash back then, but the real story is even more horrifying.

That oil spill, as are nearly all oil spills, leaks and disasters, are the result of corporate disregard for safety measures, controls and checks that they say they perform….but they lie like rugs.

Because hey, it costs billions of dollars ….. That’s billions with a “B”, to actually run a safe operation in which there are regular safety checks, maintenance and up to standard equipment in use.
But if your company doesn’t spend that money, and disaster strikes, it only takes millions ….with an “M”, to pay off the victims. Plus, the locals all get spiffy new jobs cleaning up toxic sludge like they are still doing in Alaska and on the Gulf Coast, to name just two disasters.

This is the operating philosophy of every single fossil fuel corporation. After greasing the palms of the appropriate politicians, they move in and proceed to rip out the resources as cheaply as possible as they whisper sweet nothings to quell the pesky environmentalists and concerned citizens and when disaster comes to town, and it will…well, they have a little slush fund set up to pay off the victims.
Bear this in mind as the efforts to frack NB and run a pipeline ramp up.

Here’s an interesting story from Aristotle, the Philosopher. He was also the first economist to write about the oil industry. (Actually, Aristotle invented the word economics, so that makes him the first economist, eh?)

Anyway, he tells the story of the invention of commodities futures contracts, and the first time the oil market was cornered and monopolized.

The philosopher Thales got an inside tip and so knew there would soon be an oil shortage. He proceeded to buy up all the future oil output of the olive trees in the city of Miles. When the season turned and the oil shortage hit, Thales cranked the oil prices through the roof.
Now, here’s the funny part of this story: The public didn’t get all angry at Thales for skinning them for the oil they desperately need for food and oil lamps. Instead, they lauded him for his genius in making such a fortune!

Thales was furious with the people and told them they were, not to put too fine a point on it, total morons. He said: You despised me when I was a poor philosopher trying to give you invaluable wisdom for nothing. Now you’re praising me for destroying the economy. You think that a good economy is one in which smart people with inside information make money off of money and get richer than their ability to even spend it. But making money from money is against nature!

A successful economy is one in which money and exchange of production results in a Good Life for all.
An economy’s success should not be measured by the accretion of wealth by the already wealthy, but by the ability of the political leaders to ensure the care of the citizens, that all may pursue happiness and attain the Good Life, not just a pile of goods.

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