No, really. The International Monetary Fund said so this week (well… not in so many words, but the spirit of the language is really the same). The news actually came to me as something of an unnecessary bummer Thursday when I was trying to enjoy my print edition of the New York Times on my lunch break after being told hours earlier that a personal acquaintance of mine had eaten a gun Wednesday night…
So what had already become a shitty day got a lot worse when I read this headline on page two of the Business section: “Global Economy Called Worst Since 1945” (click here to see the electronic edition of that article). Thank the Great Magnet for sweet chiba. If it wasn’t for that shit, getting two doses of such bad news in the space of just a few hours might stress me out more than I could stand. But even a few safety meetings later I must admit I’m still a bit unnerved by the implications of both situations.
Never mind my private dramas though, dear Constant Reader. Just worry about the half of my shitty day that effects you too: we have managed to fuck up the global economic system so badly that it may not recover fully for years and we don’t even have a global war on which we can place the blame.
Olivier Blanchard of the I.M.F. said Wednesday that the global economy would likely contract by about 1.3 percent in 2009, which was down from their more optimistic projection (issued just this past January) of 0.5 percent growth. While 1.3 percent contraction in an economy as big as our planet’s might not seem like a big fucking deal, it actually is a big fucking deal… a really big fucking deal… because this would be the first year since 1945 that the global economy has contracted at all.
I’ll let that sink in for a minute…
Freaked out yet? Well if so just hold your horses… there’s more… Those numbers above encompass the global economy. Here at home in the United States, generally agreed upon as the center of the whole sad mess, economic contraction is predicted to be even worse: about 2.8 percent contraction in 2009 with no growth whatsoever predicted for the whole of 2010.
In the unemployment department, Blanchard of the I.M.F. predicted that world unemployment would peak at 7 percent this year, while the U.S. unemployment rate would likely rise to at least 10 percent before ever falling again.
Now, with all of these terrible numbers flying at people’s heads like angry birds every day from their favorite news broadcasts, its hard for most people to put it all in perspective. So let me help you with that: we are deep into the shit here, folks. Deep. We are in the middle of the first global recession since World War II, and it wouldn’t take much of a shake-up to turn it into a full-blown global depression: the first since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Hell, Blanchard even said that if it hadn’t been for the ambitious stimulus spending plans of the United States and other developed nations across the world this year, the global contraction would have been even 1.5 to 2 percent worse and, as Blanchard put it, “We would be in the middle of something very close to a depression.”
Tim Geithner perhaps said it best when he commented separately on the results of the I.M.F. report: “Never before in modern times has so much of the world been simultaneously hit by a confluence of economic and financial turmoil such as we are now living through.” Even though globalization helps economic growth in good times, Geithner said, “now we are learning that in times of contraction, globalization transmits trouble with enormous speed and force, affecting economies around the world — the relatively strong as well as the more vulnerable.”
I’m not saying its time to start stockpiling canned goods, but I’m saying you should think about it if things look like they’re getting any worse.
Anyway, I’m going to go and smoke some more herb before I have to read anything else about the Taliban being sixty miles form some nuclear warheads, the swine flu spreading over the planet, or cyberterrorists trying to destroy the U.S. power grid. If you people have any sense, you’ll do the same.
P.S. If the swine flu does explode into a pandemic and destory the human race, I think that Hunter S. Thompson will have missed out on some satisfying cosmic irony. What better disease to wipe out the modern world that was built by the era of greed, excess and rampant deregulation which began in the 1980’s? Thompson described that generation best himself in Generation of Swine: “Huge brains, small necks, weak muscles and fat wallets — these are the dominant physical characteristics of the ’80s… The Generation of Swine.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, friend. Oh and thanks a lot, Ronald Reagan.
Enough politics, I thought as I woke up in a pool of my own vomit under the Christmas tree in my living room this morning. I had been drinking heavily the night before and experimenting with… well… you get the idea. I had been planning on writing something for the blog today before I descended into the annual two days of living hell and oblivion that I call Christmas with my family, but until I woke up under my soiled Christmas tree, I only knew that I needed a break from arguing with retards about political maneuverings.
It was at that moment as I sat gathering my wits beneath the tree’s twinkling lights that I decided I would spend my blog today debunking the myth of Christmas as the birth date of Jesus Christ (pictured at left).
Some of you readers out there may be offended that I would even think of questioning 2,000 years of “beautiful” Christian tradition, but I assure you my assertions about Christ’s actual birth date are grounded in reason and research. I would never even think of debunking a thing like this in a disrespectful manner or without taking special considerations for the feelings of the people it might affect… Wait, yes I would.
You see, I know some things that many of you Christians out there may not know and in this post I’m going to tell you all about them. Yes, I’m going to burst the comfortable little Judeo-Christian bubble you seem to live in. To be honest, I’m amazed that in the wake of a so-called Enlightenment and with today’s technology and scientific reason that people haven’t thought of this sooner. It’s really common sense: how could a baby possibly survive a night of literally freezing temperatures in the middle of a Bethlehem winter in a fucking manger without dying of exposure? Bethlehem can be fucking cold in late December, and they think it used to be even colder back then!
In any case, an Australian astronomer named Dave Reneke (pictured at right) recently asserted that based on the night sky, the activities of people and the weather as described in the Gospels — as well as on advanced astronomical course-charting software of some kind or another — Jesus Christ was actually born on June 17th and not December 25th, as previously surmised by almost everybody. Turns out a couple planets (Venus and Jupiter) appeared very close together as one brilliant object in the night sky around the date of June 17th in the year of Christ’s birth. This is the most likely explanation of what the three wise men were following when they saw the “Star of Bethlehem.”
So why then would the Church have declared so long ago that they knew with certainty the birth date of Jesus Christ was December 25th and that we should celebrate it by throwing crap onto a tree and giving each other material possessions as gifts? (Never mind that Jesus repeatedly denounced material possessions as sinful and encouraged his followers to get rid of them.)
Well, it turns out that for a long time no one knew when Christ was born. It wasn’t even until around 500 C.E. that December 25th became popularized as the birth date of Jesus. The earliest record of a celebration of Christ’s birth actually occurs in Egypt around 200 C.E. when Clement of Alexandria wrote about a group of Egyptian Christians celebrating the birth of their Lord on May 20th (which is actually closer to our Australian astronomer’s date).
In different parts of the Christian world between roughly 400 C.E. and 600 C.E., Christian rulers started to decree that Christ’s birth should be celebrated symbolically by tacking it onto the end of another holiday called Epiphany on January 6th (though that holiday focuses on the baptism of Christ, not his actual birth). Not long after that, Christians started to spread like wildfire through the land, and quite a few heads of state started to become Christian. It was at this point in history that the early Catholic Church decided to use its political power to get rid of so-called “pagan” religions by absorbing their peoples and their holidays into the Christian faith when they were conquered and “converted.”
You see, Germanic pagans used to celebrate this thing they called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (meaning “the birthday of the unconquered Sun”) roughly around the solstice (which they celebrated on the 25th of December). The customs of their celebration — which had been going on traditionally since the late third century — included many traditions we would recognize today long before Christianity ever got its hands on the holiday: the baked ham, the “yule” goat (where else do you think we got that weird ass word “yule”?), stuffing stockings full of trinkets, and the decorating of trees in the center of the village with candles to imitate the image of stars twinkling in the heavens (after all, “the birthday of the unconquered Sun” was a celestial holiday originally).
When Germanic pagans got their asses kicked by Rome and its Church, Catholics decided it was time to make the date official, and they started declaring publicly that crazy new “Biblical research” placed Jesus’ birthday on the 25th of December and we should all start celebrating it formally on that day. History is written by the victors, as they say…
Alright, I guess I’ve shattered the fragile little mental world of enough Christians for one day. It’s time for me to clean up the tree, get a shower, and wrap some more of this cheap shit I bought for my family. Maybe I should think about sprinkling some powdered milk inside this sweater I got for my uncle (seriously, best prank ever; look it up).
Hope you enjoyed this special Christmas edition of The New Apocalypse. Just wait for the special Valentine’s Day edition where I write all about how virgins used to be paraded around ancient Roman towns so single men could fling bloody animal innards at them to bless them for fertility rites during the festival of Lupercalia on February 14th… until Christianity came along to save the day and rewrite history of course. Coincidence? You decide, dear Constant Reader.
But seriously… happy fucking holidays, everybody. I’ll be seeing you in 2009.
And it happens to be twice the size of the continental United States. Pictured at left is some shit they extracted from this waste mass congealing in the Pacific, which they refer to as the “Mega Sludge” or the “Pacific Plastic Soup.”
World, are you serious? How the fuck do we let this happen? Are we such assholes that we want to leave a colossal mass of shit in the Pacific for our children and our children’s children to clean up? I mean, this fucking trash mass stretches from not far off the coast of California (only 500 nautical miles), all the fucking way to the coast of Japan. It’s actually made up of two large masses connected by a weird strand of the shit which rotates around in the North Pacific Gyre (which happens to be centered around Hawaii). Chunks of this shit continent wash up on the beaches of Hawaii regularly.
This thing can’t even be seen from space because it congeals just beneath the surface of the ocean, but you can sure as hell see it from a boat drifting through the shit. What’s scary is that this mass makes up only 2.5 percent of all the plastics that have been manufactured since 1950 worldwide, and the mass is expected to double in the next ten years. About 20 percent of the waste found in the Plastic Soup is estimated to come from marine craft, and the rest comes from beaches, illegal dumping, and God only knows what else.
If this shit gets thick enough, it will start killing off all the plankton in the Pacific, and plankton happens to be the leading manufacturer of oxygen in our atmosphere, which we happen to breathe.
Do the math, assholes.
It is comforting to me that our world leaders have not said a word about this, nor has our national media, despite the fact that this ever-growing Mega Sludge was discovered in 1997. Even I only just found out about it yesterday thanks to the miracle of the internet. I’m thinking thats way too much of a lag and too much of a lack of organization for us to really do anything about it in time.
Let’s face it: we’re probably all going to die in the next fifty years. Never mind global warming. We will probably be effectively suffocated by our own waste byproducts.
Thank you, world. I hate you.