Terrible things are happening faster than we can keep up with them. Monsanto, widely regarded as a criminal enterprise, is expanding its monopoly over seeds and food production into Chile and Latin America. Monsanto has given up for now on monopolizing Europe's agriculture, but has brought the EU around to allowing it to market GMO food products.
Money speaks, which perhaps is the reason that Chile's former president, Michelle Bachelet, introduced the pro-Monsanto legislation that one of the legislative chambers has passed. There are mass demonstrations in Chile against the legislation that destroys Chile's sovereignty over its food production, but just as Monsanto can purchase the US government, it also can purchase the Chilean government. In our day and time, governments are just another commodity to be bought and sold by powerful corporations.
And then there is Fukushima. Media have led us to think that this nuclear crisis is over, but it appears that it is only just beginning. The risk of apocalypse is high. You can read here one assessment of the risks to all of us. Here is another. And here is another. And another. And here is yet another.
As soon as Egypt gets a democracy with an elected president, Washington has the military -- which is dependent on Washington for money and equipment -- to overthrow the democracy, just as Washington does in Honduras and elsewhere. The Egyptian government that democracy produced was Islamist. The Muslim Brotherhood is moderate, not radical, but the moderate Islamists showed lack of enthusiasm for supporting the Washington-Israeli policy of genocide for Palestine. Washington finds "freedom and democracy" unacceptable when it does not support Washington's foreign policy.
This fall Congress will again be confronted with the debt ceiling limit. To keep this specter at bay, the US Treasury has been employing questionable means. The crisis that has been kicked down the road is likely to worsen, because the economy is likely to renew its decline in ways that cannot be disguised by manipulated statistics. Sooner or later the world will realize that the US cannot pay its bills and that the world's reserve currency is being ruthlessly printed in order to prop up busted banks and the US Treasury. The house of cards that US economic policy has constructed in the 21st century can collapse at any time.
Since so much that is distressing awaits us, I propose a bit of respite and, in this column, take us back to happier times...
Growing Up In America -- Cars Make A Difference
It was 1955 when I came of driving age. What a glorious year on the automotive scene. The first V-8-engined Chevrolet appeared in the striking art work of the 1955 Bel Air hard-top coupe. Often two-toned, usually pastels, this car, stock from the dealer, had the acceleration to match the souped up flathead V-8 Ford engines that were ensconced in the hot rods of the day.
The small block V-8 found its way into the Corvette, saving the Corvette from extinction.
Ford came out with its new overhead valve V-8, installed in the 1955 Thunderbird, still a show-stopper today. The Thunderbird existed as a two-seater for three years. The 1955 and 1956 Ford Fairlane hard-top coup looked like it was doing 60 sitting still.
The dramatic styling and energetic engines appeared everywhere in Detroit's lineup -- in the Mercury, the Pontiac, Oldsmobile, the Buick Century. So many two-tones, acceleration times cut in half. Life was good.
Not to be outdone, Chrysler produced the 1955 Chrysler 300 with a 300 horsepower Hemi engine. This car was the high-speed king, reaching 130 mph. In 1956, the 300 Hemi delivered 355 horsepower capable of 140 mph. By 1957 the 300 Hemi produced 390 horsepower, outrunning the Ferraris of the day.
Every style of every marque was distinctive. There was no mistaking one model for another. Driving on city streets and country highways was a feast for the eyes. Style and color were everywhere.
Even in those days driving occupied much of a person's time. To be among striking designs and color combinations that excited the imagination was good for the psyche. We were a different people.
Decades ago a rare piece of fiction in Road & Track resulted in a premonition of the brutal and indistinguishable appearance of today's SUVs and oversized pickup trucks.
It was the only piece of fiction, aside from a cartoon strip feature, that I recall ever appearing in R&T. The magazine is about road tests, car reports, and race results.