Vonnegut’s Fortune Cookie #3

I can’t seem to stop reading Cat’s Cradle

“Sir, how does a man die when he’s deprived of the consolations of literature?”

“In one of two ways,” he said, “petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system.”

“Neither one very pleasant, I expect,” I suggested.

“No,” said Castle the elder. “For the love of God, both of you, please keep writing!”

– Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

It’s the end of the world as we know it: A follow-up.

On New Year’s Eve I presented a few prophecies for the apocalypse occuring or beginning within 2006. Obviously, although we all love Drosdin’s The Bible Code, it is a completely unreasonable theory — equidistant letter sequences occur everywhere if you look hard enough. The other theories were also crackpot enough to dismiss — I don’t believe in angels — or at least ones that bring about the apocalypse. That said, let’s examine one real-world end times theory: The horrors of Peak Oil.

Peak what? So you’ve been living in apathy the last few years, eh? So has most everyone else. Peak oil is the theory that purports that global oil production operates along a bell curve; that is, that oil production will ‘peak’ and then steadily decline at some unforeseen rate. For more general information on peak oil, please see this very informative Wikipedia article.

So I’ll stop driving. Yeah you will. And you’ll cease being warm. And you’ll have to stop reading this blog. You’ll probably also need to stockpile weapons if you would like to maintain some sense of security because a lot of people will want to drive, be warm, and read my blog (at least I hope). They’ll most likely want to take what you have stockpiled. This site offers a frightening depiction of what may come.

Okay, so what can I do? Well, spread love? It’ll be about the only commodity we have left after our economy is in turmoil. I would suggest stockpiling your preferred intoxicant. I would also suggest some inspirational music, but you sure won’t have any means of playing it.


Today my computer science professor e-mailed me regarding my skrap:pad project. Apparently, several science departments are looking for ways to make their teaching technologies more powerful and he would like to see if what I have been developing could be applied as a solution.

All I know is that if this gets picked up, it could mean a very attractive research project on my resume. Attached is the proposal — I’m all blogged out already, so read it for yourself.

Wiki, supercharged. [pdf]

Everyone has a story.

Sitting here at Stella’s is so gratifying.  It puts one in a position of constant observation, as if I am an anthropologist observing an obscure indigenous tribe.  These are real people with real stories that bear as much significance as any other story.

Perhaps that is what makes life significant — not who you are, but what you are.  Without conversation, we’re drones.

What did you talk about today?

Vonnegut’s Fortune Cookie.

“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

- Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

This week has proven to reinforce this quote many times over.

The Cold War II: A follow-up

Vladimir Putin announced today that Russia would delay its oil export hike on Ukraine three months, giving Kiev a chance to reach compromise. However, if Ukraine does not sign on to the deal, Russia’s oil monopoly Gazprom will cease supplying oil as early as this Sunday. Putin remarked on his decision at a meeting with Gazprom head Alexi Miller:

“I instruct the government and Gazprom to ensure gas deliveries in the first quarter of 2006 with the conditions and rates of 2005, on the condition that before the end of today the Ukrainian partners sign the contract with Gazprom’s offer for switching to market prices in the second quarter,” he said in remarks broadcast by Russian TV. (BBC News)

Although Russia has insisted that the dispute will not affect the European Union’s oil supply, 80% of its exports are sent through Ukraine, forcing many to think otherwise.

This news comes only minutes before this Bloomberg article that puts oil at a two-month high in the states.

It’s going to be a cold, cold winter.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

With the new year mere hours away, there are bound to be eschatologists at work depicting humanity’s final hours as being at the dawn of or during 2006. Since I have a strange fascination with the field of eschatology, I figured I would present some of the theories that are cropping up across the Internet:

  • According to this site, 2006 is the year prophecized by an angel to the prophet Daniel when people’s distress is at its peak.
  • According to Michael Drosdin’s book The Bible Code, an atomic holocaust is set to erupt between 2000 and 2006. These years were encoded with the words “World War” in the Bible as equidistant letter sequences. Creepy.
  • Millenialism is the belief that the world would end in the year 2000. Well, that sure didn’t happen. However, many believe that since theologists could be wrong about the true birthyear of Jesus Christ, the true end of the world would occur within that factor of error. Could it be six years?

All I know is that I’m going to be partying like it’s 1999 tonight. Who knows if we’ll see tomorrow?

And I thought I had seen it all…

Yesterday might have been the most obtuse day I have ever had. Please be aware that although I am about to attempt to convey its events with words, I do not think there is a language that is sufficient to fully express the eccentricity of yesterday’s events. That said, allow me to begin. [Read]

To Ph.D or to not Ph.D…

Looking at graduate programs is making me cringe at the thought of paying another $30,000+ per year for school. I would like to realize my dream of becoming a professor, but at that cost I will be paying for it for life. I suppose the knowledge gained would easily be worth it, but I am already in over my head. So far I have looked at UC Berkeley and Cornell — although, these should probably be considered my “dream” schools.

We shall see soon enough…

The Cold War II — only this time it won’t be a nuclear winter.

Russia today threatened to cut off gas from Ukraine unless they begin paying four-fold what they are currently paying for their gas imports.  It “demanded that Kiev agree to pay $220-$230 (£128-£133) per 1,000 cubic metres, compared with the $50 it had previously paid instead of transit fees for gas heading to Western Europe.” (Page, Times Online).  This could mean a very, very cold winter for not only Ukraine, but also western European countries that depend on Russian oil imports for 80% of their oil consumption.

Some analyists claim that the situation isn’t worth panicking over:

“Germany can be supplied for more than two month from gas storage tanks,” Martin Weyand, head of the Federal Association of German Gas and Water Economy (BGW) pointed out this week. (DW-World.de)

However, with oil prices as high as they are in the states, such developments can make us wonder: is the party over?