Return to the Welcome Page

Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy



Return to Update Page


Link here
 to a list of 
sustainable uses of key symbols - including

energy energy efficiency
global warming

Peak Oil
exponential growth







 The One AnOther
Bonus Joules finds One in the Other in the Land of the Other.


Click on any cartoon

Chapter Five - Land of the Other- The One AnOther.

JOURNEY Index                                                               


Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy: All content on this site is copyright 2001 and you are free to use it with care. 


Blog by Dave McArthur  6 October 2008 

Well the votes have been cast in New Zealand and the USA and people are about to experience what they voted for. Many other innocent folk around the world will suffer with us. 

Sure people in our nations still have to go through the motions of voting at the ballot box in November but that can make little difference to the impact of our crucial votes. We have got what we voted for -Sarah Palin in the USA and John Key in New Zealand and all that goes with them. The non-conservatives have triumphed. 

When Sarah was chosen to run as the Republican vice presidential candidate George Lakoff, the prominent cognitive linguist, wrote a reflective article:

Lakoff: Palin Appeals to Voter Emotions -- Dems Beware

By George Lakoff, AlterNet. Posted September 1, 2008. 

George explained the importance of framing issues effectively and argued that the Democrat doesn’t fully appreciate the power of symbolism. 
George is correct about the power of symbols. We are our symbols. Without them there is no civilisation. We employ unsustaining symbols at our peril.

However then George went on to frame his whole discussion in nonsense (or non-science, if you like). He described Sarah as a “conservative” and all the views she reflects as “conservative” also.

Now this might be OK if the central issue is about simple tradition and belief structures, particularly political constructs. However the central issue is actually physics. 

I guess it is very easy for George to adopt this narrow framing of the meaning of “conservative”. Check out the Princeton definition of the symbol. Almost all the definitions are variations on:

“conservative, conservativist (a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas)”.

The FreeOnlineDictionary offers similar framing of the meaning of the  “conservative” symbol. However it is revealing that it states more or less as a footnote.
Noun 4
Archaic A preservative agent or principle.

Many of the definitions provided are implicitly derogatory of conservatives and these folk are associated with being stick in the mud, stuffy coated, clinging to obsolete ideas, reactionary, backward, redneck, square toes, moss back, diehard, buttoned-down, dull grey, unimaginably conventional, authoritarian, fuddy duddies. You would have to be a bit perverse to wish to have yourself described thus. 

This derogatory framing of the “conservative” symbol is tragic and it reveals how cynical and amoral our society has become. The fact our use of the symbol no longer retains the idea that conserving is about being aware of and caring for the flows and balances of the universe that sustain us does not ode well. This loss of meaning puts each of us at risk of becoming archaic too. 

And those who use the symbol in this derogatory way of others only make fools of themselves. A quick Internet search indicates that young children in the USA join Conservation Clubs in their schools just as New Zealand school children do. There they learn how to care for plants, recycle and reuse materials and in general be good stewards of our planet. And in New Zealand the Government Department charged with caring for our publicly owned parks, forest reserves, lakes, foreshores and ocean reserves is called the Department of Conservation. It is integral to the promotion of New Zealand’s Clean Green Image and is associated with some of our most iconic and pristine images of our land and ocean scapes. 

In this framework it is an extremely perverse act to call non-conservatives such as Sarah Palin and John Key “conservatives” and thus subliminally associate them with images of exquisitely beautiful plants, animals and landscapes. The act simply feeds the delusions of a psychotic society and bestows on these non-conservatives a mantle of stewardship that is most undeserving.  Such perversity enables non-conservatives to flourish. 

Check out the wiki on Conservatism and you will see how if you frame the meaning of the conservative symbol as simply a political argument you can argue its meaning till the cows don’t come home or till the wells run dry – which could well be in the near future.  

You will notice the Wiki article is prefaced with the statement, “The neutrality of this article is disputed.” 

To me this is healthy sign. I believe the conservative symbol is a truly great symbol and if it is used with wisdom and humility it can sustain us on scale. The symbol can never be neutral. We should never stop arguing about its meaning and the day we do then we die with the symbol. Here’s why. 

Readers of my postings over the years will know the great store I set in the Conservation Principle of Energy. I believe it as the closest we have to a natural law. Despite the persistent and sometimes ferocious attempts of humans over millennia to find a flaw in the principle no one has ever succeeded. It encapsulates a brilliant vision of existence in which energy is as bounteous as the universe(s) and in which energy is constantly transformed. We may deny as much as we like its central messages that we are mortal and that we need to conserve sustaining energy forms but the principle remains immutable – such attempts are folly and simply generate misery. 

We have an enormous capacity for denial of this reality and can create very sophisticated rationales to obscure it. The universe(s) is constantly being transformed and so the rationales we can create are as endless as our imagination. That is why we should never stop exploring and arguing how we can conserve balances and be in harmony with the flows of energy. 

In this light a conservative is a person who accepts the Conservation Principle of Energy. They enjoy great compassion for all sentient beings and when they die they bequeath on our children a full inheritance that they were born into themselves. They conserve our children’s options.  

In this light John Key and Sarah Palin are both profound non-conservatives.

For instance, John lives in a huge mansion, jets around the world without thought and happily profits off the destruction of energy efficient rail systems. If everyone adopted his lifestyle then humanity would have collapsed decades ago.

I don’t know much about Sarah Palin’s lifestyle. I do know she has propagated a large number of children and that she models extreme levels of waste of precious resources such as mineral oil and gas. Her language reveals a vast denial of the Conservation Principle as, for instance, her constant use of the equation “Energy = mineral oil”.  

The adoption of this equation is about one of the most fatal flaws any parent can teach their children or any leader can teach their people. This lethal equation confuses energy with one of the very finite forms it can take and it omits the atmosphere from the combustion equation: “Mineral oil plus air = useful energy form”. 

Since my last blog a month ago, a raft of major banks have collapsed and as I write the news is another major bank is collapsing, this time in Germany. All our learned “market” commentators and media gurus of the last decades suddenly look decidedly unlearned. What they have failed to understand is that any economy built on the equation “Energy = mineral oil” is doomed. People are deluded into using the resource as if it is as bounteous as energy.  

This delusion leads them to assume it is sane and normal to value mineral oil at 0.04 cents per man-hour of labour (assuming each 42 gallon barrel of oil contains the equivalent energy of 25000 man-hours of labour.) Now if mineral oil really is as bounteous as energy then it is perfectly sane to expand our credit systems as we have this last generation. The resultant dwelling and transport systems would be quite sustainable. However we have been deluded. We have denied the Conservation Principle of Energy and now we about to learn its truth the hard way with credit failure, escalating inflation and the general collapse of civics. We should have been valuing mineral oil at thousands of dollars a barrel. 

Note how often in the US Vice Presidential debate Sarah constantly evokes this fatally flawed equation. Note how she continually hits the “energy’ button. In doing so she reflects and resonates with the primal responses of all non-conservatives, regardless of their political party, and so the presidency is shaped.   

Here is the comment I posted a month ago in response to George’s article immediately after Sarah’s selection hit our billboards and screens. 

Our walk does the voting

Hi George and all

You wrote “ But the Palin nomination is… about the symbolic mechanisms of the political mind -- the worldviews, frames, metaphors, cultural narratives, and stereotypes.” Correct but your article fails to provide insight. It is our walk, not our talk that matters. The US destroys about 68 barrels of mineral oil a day/1000 people. (My country, New Zealand destroys 38 barrels; most nations destroy 3-4 barrels per 1000 people or less.) Like New Zealand, the US culture and credit system is shaped by our addictive uses of this precious and very finite resource. We fail to conserve it. In this context we are non-conservatives and we live in fear that the object of our addiction will be taken from us. This fear dominates our responses, in the USA case, Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian and Constitutional non-conservative alike. So as mineral oil prices rose and credit systems collapsed this year people responded with unease and Barack Obama’s call for change (any change) resonated. Now mineral oil prices are dropping, credit systems have been temporarily propped up and the addictive behaviour again feels sustainable. All non-conservatives of mineral oil are relieved to have the status quo and we see this in the swings towards John McCain – and Sarah Palin, for she symbolises the “great untapped mineral oil resource of Alaska” in the minds of non-conservatives. She reflects the reality of even those that profess to oppose mining Alaska for she reflects the reality of their addictive use of mineral oil. In this context the McCain-Palin ticket cannot fail because it shapes the reality of whoever becomes president. The majority voted for it at the “gas pump”.


Since posting that a month ago the predictions have been realised: the non-conservatives have triumphed and they have shaped the next presidency. I did not make these predictions using blind guesses. They emerged from the Sustainability Principle of Energy.

Both presidential candidates have since supported further subsidies on top of the already massive subsidies to car manufacturers. They tried to gloss it with “energy efficiency” caveats but the fact remains that the car combustion engine was, is and will always be a vastly wasteful use of this incredible resource that some of us call mineral oil and others like Sarah call energy. The New York Times reported

Federal Aid to Detroit Seems Likely

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN  Published: September 17, 2008 

….But with billions of dollars in financial backing already authorized for Wall Street, and with Election Day fast approaching, Congressional leaders seemed uninterested in denying help to large employers of blue-collar Americans.

Even as lawmakers in both parties unleashed a barrage of questions about the wisdom of a government rescue for the American International Group, support seemed to be growing quickly on Capitol Hill for $25 billion in loan guarantees to assist the ailing auto industry.

Both presidential candidates, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, have voiced support for the loan guarantees — an unsurprising stance given the critical importance of the main auto-producing states, Michigan and Ohio, to the electoral map this fall.

.. “The support that we got was again very encouraging,” said Robert L. Nardelli, the chairman of Chrysler. ..

Alan R. Mulally, the chief executive of Ford, was even more upbeat. “It was a great day,” he said. When a reporter asked what Mr. Mulally might say to people who viewed the loan guarantees as a bailout, he replied in a chipper voice, “I would characterize it as an enabler.” 

I commented at the time on the NZ Sustainable Energy Forum: 

…I suggest that this, when combined with the massive aid packages to the armaments industry, indicates the presidency is being shaped to “enable” a major war as the US credit system implodes.” 

(Quick aside – yes I know, there is no such thing as sustainable energy. Energy by its very nature is sustained as per the Conservation Principle.)  

And now both presidential candidates have used their influence to push a further $NZ trillion dollar subsidy to sustain the activities of the Money Traders. These are the select small group of people who have taken trillions of dollars, leveraged off them and channeled them into unsustainable activities such as property speculation, drug manufacture and trade, wasteful uses of minerals and armaments. A handful of these people have awarded themselves billions of dollars in bonuses for their endeavours. 

Both presidential candidates have endorsed this latest trillion-dollar investment, further “enabling” war and misery. There is no way these funds are going to be used now to sustain education and health systems, intelligent broadband, solar, water and rail systems and all the activities that would tend to reduce the risk of a catastrophic global collapse.  

There is no way that most Americans are ever going to experience the wealth potential of this latest trillion-dollar subsidy to the Money Traders. Where will it go? It will be dissipated into the atmosphere, the streams and oceans of our planet via the exhausts of the jets, military craft, super yachts, ships, cars, furnaces required to provide the air-conditioning for their mansions and all the other machines required to maintain the Money Traders’ current lifestyles. Most of us will only experience the trillion-dollar investment as pollution, as we ingest it in the form of poisoned airs and waters and as we watch the life in our acidified oceans die and as we experience greater hurricanes, floods and droughts. 

Here in New Zealand the people have voted too and the non-conservatives have won a resounding endorsement fro the people. The Government’s new privatised superannuation scheme, Kiwi Saver, is now channeling billions of dollars of subsidies to the Money Traders here. This Government bailout of the NZ stock exchange has prevented it from collapsing and the institution remains in place as a mechanism for transferring the wealth in our remaining community-owned assets into the pockets of a few merchant bankers after our November “elections”.   

This week it was also announced that both the Government Superannuation Fund and the NZ Superannuation Fund took huge hits from their exposure to the activities of the Money Traders. The principle supporters of the schemes rushed to tell us this loss is to be expected as part of normal economic cycles. What they fail to tell us this loss is part of a more epic economic cycle – one that occurs when a species forgets and denies the Conservation Principle. In such cycles the non-conservatives dominate. They destroy the balances and resources that sustain the species and the population implodes. Most New Zealanders will never get a cent back from the Superannuation schemes and again the wealth will be dissipated as pollution. 

Indeed it looks as though New Zealanders have voted for possibly the most sophisticated Enronian state in the world, what with the recent adoption by our Parliament of the amoral Emissions Trading Strategy (see my most recent blogs); the further embedding of the fascist NZ Electricity Industry Reform legislation into our social fabric and technological investment framework; the takeover this  week of the effective ownership of our national electrical grid by CitiGroup Inc from Wachovia Bank in the Enron shuffle on Wall Street dance floor; and the new privatised Superannuation schemes like KiwiSaver. 

It is no mistake our population, especially our media, is fawning over John Key, a man who was one of the leading lights in Currency Trading and Merrill Lynch for many years. At that time Merrill Lynch was deeply involved in Enron at the height of its corruption.

We have become the dream Enron land where everything, including its citizens, is just a tradeable commodity. Perhaps the time as come to call New Zealand Aotearoa by another name.  If the USA is becoming Enron then our name is OnEnergy.

(OnEnergy, New Zealand’s largest Bulk-gen electricity and mineral gas retailer, collapsed within weeks of Enron in 2001 also. There were close links.) 

The cartoon strip that accompanies this was created about five years ago now. It is complete coincidence that it is associated with this particular blog.

 In the previous strip I had explored an Enronian education resource created by one of New Zealand’s Enronian Bulk-generated electricity companies, Genesis Energy. The education resource provides an illustration of a perpetual motion machine and forms possibly the perfect example of the psychotic nature of modern economics that you could imagine. Its creators were dead serious! And the NZ Royal Society, the supposed epitome of science, approved it!! Ken (Kenny Boy) Lay, were he still alive, would love the vision evoked in the education resource of a hydro-electrical plant with an everlasting, undiminishing supply of water. It is not impossible he originally commissioned the concept.

 In this panel I reflect on the bonusjoules-junkjoules concept of energy efficiency. I guess you could say Bonus Joules is the cartoon embodiment of a conservative and Junk Jules the embodiment of a non-conservative.


Return to Update Page

Return to the Welcome Page