If you're unfamiliar

with Pittsburgh, well, it rains here. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes as late as October 17th, which would be today. A number of people on my buddy list have away messages bemoaning this rain, but I keep trying to tell myself that I should be grateful to live in a place where it still does rain. Apparently, drought is going to start killing people in places other than Africa.

Being upbeat about anything has been difficult lately, mostly because it's becoming clearer every day that the world has actually passed the maximum limit of oil production (85 million barrels every day. Visualise that in your mind, then try to understand that we used every drop of it.) I'm almost finished with The Fourth Turning, which was written in 1997 and has made some worryingly accurate predictions about where we are in 2006. Their thesis can be summarised thusly: history repeats itself. That's a bit oversimplified, but based on my own adventures as a history major it's true that certain patterns emerge if you're willing to see them. The authors explore history through the lense of a repeating four-part cycle which lasts between 80-100 years, or a long human life. Each part of this cycle they call a turning, and each one has been repeated in the same order throughout western history with the sole exception of the Civil War, which condensed two turnings into one incredibly violent period.

I find this compelling for two reasons. One, I've always believed that people are more a product of their circumstances than their gifts. And two, we are most definitely reaching the apex of a crisis. These November elections might crystalize the mood of the American public, most particularly if there are widespread allegations of vote tampering and fraud (which is almost a given at this point). Add to the political troubles the above fact (FACT, kids, not theory) that we have passed "peak oil" and are well on our way to cooking half the species right off the planet, and you've got a brew that will test the moxie of the generation just beginning to take power - we 13's, Gen X, the New Lost.

Oh, throw in an increasingly crazy Fundamentalist minority grabbing for power. And North Korea's apparent nuclear test. Hmmm, am I missing anything?

Well, here's a little good news. Casey has a 10-point lead over Santorum, and Rendell leads Swann by over 17. That cheers me a bit.

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