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Man is what he reads. Joseph Brodsky
Again, I have been spending too much time surfing the net, updating my Facebook account and idling. It makes me so sad, anxious and depressed. I need to find something else to do. Or actually, I have some ideas what to do (write blog, read books, meet friends, go out cycling or visiting the gym, get involved in politics somehow, etc). I just have to avoid my beckoning sofa and temptations of the net. And mostly staying sober. Maybe.
The US government is considering releasing some oil from the strategic reserve. They claim that otherwise the US economy would contract and sink into depression. The Spanish are mandating lower speed limits on highways. It seems that USD 120 per barrel is too much for world economy. It also seems that a) we have passed the peak oil and b) the revolutions in the Middle East and Northern Africa are going to make oil harder to come by and more expensive. Not good at all. And somehow not a topic in the coming parliamentary elections in Finland.
I do not recollect much. I assumed I spent too much time surfing the net. On Friday, we have Sofigate's (my employers) annual spring meeting. It turned out that Sofigate managed to stay profitable and even grow during the (ongoing) recession. Good for me. And many others. On Friday, the monthly sauna event in Kotiharju with ex-workmates from Nokia. Most of them do not believe that the marriage of MS and Nokia will bear fruit. They consider the marriage sterile. On Saturday, walking by the sea side. Very nice afternoon with S. On Sunday, monthly market in Hakaniemi, with excellent fried small fish (muikku) and right wing propaganda. Elections are coming up. Some relatives visited us on Sunday.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett
Last week, I read a new book titled ¿The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It hard to Be Happy¿ by Michael Foley. It is a very interesting books on the postmodern condition. More about that maybe later, now I want to think about one of books main points, namely that one cannot be happy if one is not striving for something. It is an interesting idea; it also may explain why I have been kind of down lately. I have just been coaching along, not really striving for anything and not trying to accomplish anything hard. So, I might do well by striving for something. Material issues do not beckon me that much, so maybe it is time to write a book, start doing a PhD once again, etc. Let us see. Anyway, sun is shining.
I stayed up rather early, until 3 am, then slept until 10am. Afterwards, I worked for a few hours at home, then walked to the Hakaniemi Market hall for a light lunch and continues to the Club. A few hours more work, and at 5.30pm I decided to call it a day and opened a bottle of beer. Now, waiting for the monthly Tuesday meeting to start at 7.30pm.
At the moment, I have subscribe to the following newspapers and magazines, at least.
Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees. Marcel Proust
Riots continue around the world. At the moment, Libyans are getting rid of their beloved dictator Mr. Gaddafi. There are also riots in Mauritania, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, and who knows where. Oils is trading at USD 114 or so, which means that one of the main reasons for riots and revolutions - very expensive food is just getting worse and more acute. As rather well-off Finn, it is quite hard to understand how expensive food really is in the developing world. Here in Finland, food seems the be cheap enough. At least I do not pay any attention to the price of food. But some poorer Finns may pay attention and dearly. Thus, I would not be that surprised if there would be some food related problems in the Future, and especially in poorer European countries this year.
Juan Cole speculates whether Saudi Arabia can pump enough oil to make up the loss of production in Libya and Oman. And maybe elsewhere. It is said that world economy will sink into recession, if not worse, when oil is more expensive than USD 90. We shall see.
I am writing this on my new MacBook Air. Very nice computer. My earlier Mac is an iBook from 2004. New Air is much better and the new OS 10.6 has some nice new features.
This winter has been exceptionally hard for me. It has been too dark, with too much snow and way too cold weather. I have not been able to exercise outside much, not even walk. And the darkness has depressed me, kept me at home. Too depressing. But now it is getting better, we have sunshine and it is not that cold anymore. I may be even be able to commute by bicycle next week. That would cheer me up.
If you keep thinking about what you want to do or what you hope will happen, you don't do it, and it won't happen. Desiderius Erasmus
I tend to agree with Michael Klare's prediction of more riots caused by high prices and lack of availability of food and fuel this year. The revolution in Tunis was partly cause by these two reasons. And prices are likely to rise further. In Iran, prices almost doubled because the government could not longer affort subsidies. Not good for poor Iranians, but likely to be enough to topple the government.
For developments in the Middle East, a good source is Yalibnan.com, an new development in Lebanon. The situation in Lebanon is getting more tense and difficult by the day. Given that it turned out that the Palestinian problem just got harder because of some leaked documents, there may well be some need for the tanks we saw in Beirut a few weeks ago.
Some terrorists just exploded a bomb in the arrivals hall of the main airport in Moscow. I am quite sure that there will be some restrictions on getting to the airport. But at least taxi touts cannot get there anymore. Maybe there will be some decent public transport to all airports in the future. Anyway, more restrictions, more security theater will certainly follow.
At least local hotel owners can decide. They claim that any turbines would spoil the landspace and turn tourists away. Ugly hotels, etc, of course do not turn tourists away. I wonder why it is so hard for the hoteliers etc to understand that there are many tourist would be happy to pay extra for staying in hotels and ski centers powered by wind turbines instead of burning coal and peat.
All kinds of interesting events took place. I visited my new living room, the Kirjaclub many times, both alone and with friends and work mates. The club has turned out to be a very good place for distance working, meetings, and of course relaxing and drinking and discussions. Highly recommended. For those who can afford it.
We had nice dinners in Kruo Thai and the Korean restaurant in Kruunuhaka.
Some exercise by visiting the gym a few times. I am getting stronger or so I hope.
Culture's worth huge, huge risks. Without culture we're all totalitarian beasts. Norman Mailer
I have become addicted to Facebook and internet in general. I have been spending way too much time updating and looking for updates by other and googling this and that etc. It makes me anxious. Now I have decided to cut down the time I spend mindlessly surfing the net. Instead I will write my blog, read more books and meet my friends more often.
Today's Helsingin Sanomat ran an article about an interesting relationship between the price of oil and economic growth (or contraction). According to the article economy will not grow (and we will have a recession or depression) when energy takes more than nice percent of the global GNP. In terms of price of oil, that would be USD 120 per barrel. Now the price is about USD 100.
Given the well known fact of peak oil, we will thus not have dependable economic growth for long. Maybe we should address the problem by cutting down our energy usage. By improving energy efficiency by five percent annually, we could mitigate the worst effects of the coming oil peak. Or not coming: most likely we are at the peak right now.
Related developments: there are rather widespread demonstrations against high food prices in poorer countries, especially in the Middle East. And if not against prices, the againt non-existent economic prospects, unemployment and hopelessness. Something that will only get worse in coming years, for the likelyhood of harvest failures will increase and higher energy prices will also make some marginal agriculture unprofitable.
But I am very happy about the unviolent revolution taking place in Tunisia. Would not mind it spreading to other autocratic countries.
Well, not that much. Worked at home until noon, then took a train to a small town less than 60 minutes from Helsinki, had an interview with a nice expert, took a train back, walked to the Kirjaclub, did some writing and drank coffee, had dinner with S and T in Kruo Thai. A very nice day.