Verbal Remedy AKA Denise

Verbal Remedy AKA Denise
Del Mar, California, The One That's In A State Of Steep Decline
January 18
Much preferred to the alternative.
Born. Grew up. Kept growing up. Started growing older. Still at both the growing up and growing older. Stay tuned.


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JANUARY 15, 2009 4:38PM

For Rent: One Planet

Rate: 35 Flag

Great neighborhood, near sun! Lots of beachfront property!  


Photo Credit

  • Continents  4, 5, 6, or 7 (depends on who’s counting)
  • Oceans 1, 3, 4, or 5 (depends on who’s counting)
  • Existing Occupants Human: 6.74 billion  (Nov. 2008) [1] (Also some animals, plants, protazoa, bacteria, molds, yeasts, viruses…)
  • Future Human Occupancy 7 billion by 2013; 9.2 billion[2] by 2050
  • Owned By* All habitable units but 1 (in Antarctica) owned and occupied by 201 “countries”

*(Ownership disputes tend to be lengthy and explosive)


I’m sure I’m not the first person to postulate that we, the human race are in fact the worst renters in the known universe. We are those people.

  • The ones who move into a home somebody else owns, who have no particular reason to treat it kindly (or even think about the notion of “treating it kindly"), and so proceed to shred the place.
  • The ones who punch holes in the wall, let the toilet overflow without mopping up, let a loose screw become a broken cabinet, tear up the wallpaper, and spill many kinds of liquids, including bodily fluids, on the carpet. 
  • The ones who think nothing of putting a broken-down car on blocks in the front yard, never mowing the lawn, filling up the porch with bags of rotting garbage (dude, I wasn’t up early enough to haul it to the curb to get collected, man!), having loud drunken parties with their shiftless, filthy friends.
  • The ones who never pick up the dogshit or empty the cat box.


Actually, no—come to think of it, we don’t even pay rent.


We essentially just flopped here, and now we’re chopping up the floor and furniture and the walls to burn those for heat.


We’re Squatters

Here: This is fun. The history of the planet, using a roll of toilet paper as the timeline. 

toiletpaper lasttwosquares  Source:




So, essentially, we humans crawled out of the slime onto dry land a few squares ago. We grew some legs and arms a few squares later. We stood up on those legs (and started using the arms to club each other over the head with sticks and rocks) just a millimeter ago.  


Then, a mere couple hundred years ago (kids, that’s just two or three cotton-soft fibers in toilet-paper time) mechanical super-geniuses invented The Industrial Revolution and modern medicine at the same time!


Since then? Quicker than you can say “The smell of burning fossil fuels must make us wanna reproduce like rabbits,” we started to make a whole lot more of us.  


population explosion 

Looks Like The Stock Market, 2001-Sept. 2008, Doesn't It?

And we all know how that's turned out.

So, here’s where we are, at least as I see it. 

  • Our flophouse is currently in a desperate state of disrepair.
  • The floorboards are mostly gone (we’ve burned them). There aren’t many more where those came from.
  • The walls have just about as many holes as we can make without bringing the roof down on our heads.
  • The water’s about to be shut off.
  • We’re awash in mouths to feed (even though we often don't feed them, and aren't particularly concerned that apparently 64,000 people starve to death every day)
  • Once the remaining mouths grow up, they’re going to start rubbing their naughty bits together and making even more mouths to feed…

And we have nowhere else to go 

(If I were the owner of this property, by the way, I’d be mightily pissed. Would those who believe in The Great Cosmic Property Owner please start working on what exactly we’re going to say if He ever comes around to check up on the place?) 

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, finally, to the big question.





I don’t know about you, but to me, this whole picture looks unsustainable. 

I mean, sure, we can (actually, we must) develop viable renewable options for human energy demands (because, if we don’t, we’re dead. Literally dead. At least, a few tens of millions of us will be). The number of humans on the planet create an unimaginable demand for clean water, nutritious food*, and the minimal protections of clothing and shelter. (That comes way before things like cars, paperclips, iPods, and flat-screen High-Def TVs, mind you).


We need energy for all those things.


Non-Renewable Energy Resources
  • Fossil fuels (mineral oils, burnable minerals, natural gas, nuclear fuel)
Renewable Energy Resources
  • Plant oils
  • Animal fats (I know, eyuwww--but, well, it’s true)
  • Solar energy
  • Wind energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Oceanic wave energy

And yeah, it’d be sort of cool to figure out a way to move ourselves from one place to another (an activity humans seem to do a lot of) in vehicles powered by the sun, or electricity generated by wind farms.  

But it seems to me the problem is still there.


We’re still squatters in a flophouse


Even if we were to be able to wave a magic wand and instantly produce enough clean energy for agriculture and water treatment plants and basic sanitation systems in every area of occupied Earth, we’d still have a problem. 
  • We’re still not paying rent (i.e., engaging in a fair bit of maintenance and upkeep around the place).
  • We’re still treating our only home as something to use up and throw away.
  • We’re still breeding like vermin in a garbage dump.
  • We’re still ripping giant holes in the ground to dig out rocks that we can melt to make into things like cars and iPods and flat-screen LCD TVs.
  • Alternatively, we’re digging out rocks so we can cut them up and polish them to make sparkly things that some of us, for some reason, like to wear.
  • We give and withhold food, water, shelter, and clothing to/from each other based on little bits of paper that used to symbolize some of the rocks dug up from the ground. (Nowadays they symbolize something far less tangible.)
  • The current system by which we give and withhold food, water, shelter, and/or clothing from each other requires us to engage in all of the above, in order to "buy” and “sell.”
  • While I wrote that last sentence, another 20,000 people rubbed their naughty bits together and conceived a new mouth to feed.
  • We tend to kill each other over food, water, shelter, clothing, and arguments about what the Landlord’s name is, what he looked like the last time anybody saw him, and what he said about The Rules. Not that anybody would follow them anyway.

My Disturbing Conclusion: We, the human population of the third planet from the sun in this particular solar system, appear to be, in the long run, catastrophically unsustainable. 



Image Source 

POSTSCRIPT (But Seriously, Folks):  In other words, my short answer to the sponsor's question is, "There is no one issue that is 'most important.' There are a host of interlocking issues that make up "sustainability" and to address them piecemeal = Massive Failure.

Were I to be appointed Sustainability Czar, I would push for three global initiatives to tackle the following issues in tandem: 1) Reneweable energy, 2) Overpropagation, and 3) Carrying Capacity."

Ultimately, though, basing human society on monetized manufacturing and consumption will probably be the death of us, because it incentivizes self-destructive habits in re: our planetary home, rewards selfishness, punishes altruism, and privileges tribalism (which will probably be the other death of us). 

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I don't know why I'm bothering to bump this into the feed. We're screwed.
And the winner is...

And all we do while here on earth is fight over the land that other people inhabit...Lest we forget this.

This is a masterpiece and I dare say will be hard to beat.

Admired, greatly.
Greg, turns out I didn't post it through the official Lexus Thingie with all the terms and conditions, so I'm probably not in the contest anyway.

Which figures.

We're all doomed.
"We’re still squatters in a flophouse"

nicely put....and sadly true. the odds are long at this point for a lot of us on this planet.
That's all right - you didn't want a Lexus anyway. Bumped.
I agree, we are all screwed. That doesn't mean that I won't do my best to help in sustaining the planet, but the realist in me can recognize the impact we have. once the oil is gone, it's gone. Sorry, no more oil for you. We piss away this precious resource killing each other when it need to be reserved for farming etc.

There are just too many people. We can't support the people we have now. Add another 2 billion?! forget about it.
RE-POST IT!!!! For goodness sake!
Verbal, Verbal, Verbal.
Honey, I know it's easy to get confused with all these new fandangled scientific facts to ease Satan's way to your immortal soul, but I'm here to tell you that you don't need to worry about it.
First of all your timing is waaaayyy off. I can see that the problem may be that you're using the double roll, so I'll forgive that.
Second of all, and I know that once you hear this the whole dinosaur thing will make more sense. Lucifer planted those big bones in the dirt so people would believe in them. Why he did it, I'm not exactly sure, but I no god didn't create no dinosaurs.
And third, what do you mean we have nowhere to go. Man inherited the Earth from god and one day if you're good and go to church and get saved and never have an abortion and buy a gun and read the purpose driven life and stay away from those damned homosexuals and vote republican and watch fox news the good lord baby Jesus is gonna destroy this trash heap anyway and make us a whole new world just like in the disney song.

Now stop thinking so much, sweetie. You know it only makes Satan do the happy dance.
Great stuff Verbal. You sound as though you are channeling Malthus in all of this.
Why bother? I think I'll just go lie down, fail to eat for a few months, and wither away in anticipation of the coming apocalypse...

[you're so sweet, Greg. I did go back and correct the tag so I could accept T&Cs]
This is brilliant.
I have this discussion with my non-majors bio students... if we're animals and subject to the same rules of nature as any other animal, why are there so many more of US than there are other animals?
Yes, man has changed the rules... birth control keeps us from having too many babies (but who's to say how many is too many? how do you tell someone NOT to have any more kids?); on the other hand, fertility docs help couples who are challenged in that arena have babies (but maybe they shouldn't? who's to say? should they be denied?); medicine keeps people alive that maybe shouldn't (but who's going to deny grandma her insulin?); cities give us food and clean water and shelter, therefore we don't have to compete for resources (but doesn't that just mean there are other selective pressures working on us?)... doesn't this seem a little messed up?

My conclusion is that nature always wins. Always. When the pendulum swings too far one direction... there has to be a correction. We (humankind) has pushed things WAY too far to one side. There's a big correction due... and it's not going to be nice for us.
I'm not sure whether or not to hope that when the neighbors call the cops, we're not around to take the heat....
Hee! Mungular made me laugh.

Sheldon--you're right. I don't want a Lexus anyway. It'd probably just be big and beautiful and comfortable and not nearly as noisy as my Miata. :-D And I'd feel guilty every time I set foot on its plush carpeting, hypocrite that I am.

Michael R.--have you seen "The Future of Food"? If not, get ready for a whole new cold-water-bath of We'reScrewed-dom.

Geoff: Who's this Malthus person?

SciChick: Exactly.
yeah, we're screwed...time to make Battlestar Galactica real...before the machines turn on us.
Actually, and this probably won't cheer you up much, but I think we'll probably all go out in a big ol' plague.... antibiotic resistant bacteria are gonna kick our asses.
And it also appears here at the end of the role that we have nothing left with which to wipe, which is just a shitty situation all around.
SciChick: I'm laying my bets on pandemic flu. Seems to be nature's very special form of "thinning the herd" every 100-ish years.

If you subscribe to the Gaia hypothesis (that the entire planet/biosphere is one great big organism), we're definitely playing the role of cancer.
Yeah, and I haven't been chosen by the editors yet, so my submission to the l'l Lexus contest has not been noted or posted. You might as well go for and see if you can win the lousy $200 before we perish.
I bet if I read all those words up there they'd make me all anxious. I like your line thingie, it sort of looks like the costume that Brian Boitano wore in '85.
Oh, Freaky! It's not like you to drop by posts that aren't all about YOU YOU YOU!

Question: When we apes are all dead, will Trolls take over what's left??
Verb - trolls have intergalactic space ships to take them away...
Just remember, we don't biodegrade, like, ah.. some of y'all.
Very interesting post, and the combination of ideas, photos, charts, and formatting is a model of how to make a high-quality post.
Funny stuff! I know some ppl who would roast you for even hinting we do wrong, i.e. most ppl. I always loved this line: "When man stops raping his soul, he'll stop raping the land - and not before."

Try watching "Crude Awakening: The Coming Oil Crash". We're way more fucked than anyone thinks. You can read the short version in Matthew, chapter 24 if you want.
But we can have a nice party on the way out! Enjoy yourself! It's later than you think!
Do you believe in the Gaia hypothesis?
I think I'll just go kill myself now...

(Good piece tho..really.)
Verbal, you are too smart. You see things too clearly. You are never going to make it in this town, baby, but I like backing smart underdogs, so you get my vote for sustainability czar.

Love your tags. Let's do lunch.
Wow, this must have been a lot of work! The overpopulation thing is really a key, ain't it! Too many people using up too much nonrenewable stuff and that third thing you said that I was way too tired to read and figure out (the carrying capacity article-took one look and quickly clicked back here - that one look just exhausted me.)

I'm impressed girl!
F--the contest rules. This wins!

This is great work.

The moral of the post actually suits me fine. I will continue doing what I was doing: partying.
Future Human Occupancy 7 billion by 2013; 9.2 billion[2] by 2050

(Zero billion by 2100, perhaps sooner, when we're forceably evicted by the landlord, prematurely terminating our lease, for all the other reasons you mentioned.)
Great piece, deserves nothing less than a cover.

Another bump for the stream.

Thought about this piece for a long time after reading it.

This is a very important message, with a very clever delivery.

Hope it gets lots more attention.
Hyblaean: Not entirely sure about the Gaia hypothesis, obviously, not being a scientist, but if you stand back and take a look at the behavior of known ecosystems, most (not all) seem to behave similarly on the macro level. Extrapolating that out to the entire biosphere makes intuitive sense to me. OTOH, there are a few examples of ecosystems gone haywire that haven't yet self-corrected. I just read a story about an island off Australia; the government removed all the cats to protect the seabirds, and POOF! Bunnies, bunnies everywhere, destroying the very habitat that the seabirds need.

m. a.h., pass a martini this way, please!

Everybody else, thanks for dropping in and commenting. It's not the most chirpy post, so I do appreciate your sticking with it to the end.
VR - Your line: "we, the human race are in fact the worst renters in the known universe" is absolutely perfect. No wonder none of the other planets in our solar system are populated. They all moved to another galaxy. Great post - loved the charts.
A lot to the way..your comment on "kissing"? kills lol
Verbal Remedy.
Do Ya reject old geezers who walk the rural boondocks countryside with salt and pepper shaker, loosened, pilfered ingredients, oh, okay,
Or, so to be asking more honestly, it's stolen seasonings from urban soup line 5-star eateries?
It's loose 'stuff' hid in de sock.
Ya, a photo? I'd stuff it safely?
I'd pickpocket lawyers? Ya photo?
May I cut the photo on OS & save?
The charts sure confuse me. I'll save them for discussion at the next Salon's New Year's eve party. What I failed to remember:`Pete Seeger says:`The Problem are astronomical. Mathematical. Do the simple math.
The world is gonna gasp.
Ugh, good read.
People need to be Be little.
Room is running out. Figure.
Children know. Adults Learn?
No. Possums remain 6-pounds.
Or, People will be creamed spam.
Ugh. Scram & Go.
Go cook a shoo-pie.
Yikes. okay.
Wow! It's Bebop-O! Right here in River City! I am amazed!
Verbal Remedy? Do you know John Baca?
He lives in San Diego. He's the pop flopper.
Honest. He flopped a steel pot on a grenade.
Nixon awarded Baca a Medal of Honor ref:`!
Baca was drafted and I met Baca Pot Flopper?
He from the `Nam & San Diego. Gargle Baca?
He's the salt of the earth, but a bit very looney.
typo. Not pop flopper, but pot flopper.
At former pageant party gala's this week,
No wear a white dress with a baby diaper.
Or, I mean:` A male must not use a diaper.
No use the dirty baby diaper for a kleenex.
pbs did: www.valor/hero-blip:`John Baca.
Verbal: Excellent post...really. I appreciate this so much. And it's hard not to be gloomy isn't it. I agree with Greg--this post will be hard to beat...or argue with.
I got to stay away from this Place. It's more fun than being at a shaggy dog contest?
Or, at a Halloween Party.
It's as fun as kindergarden.
We hold hands with angels.
Or, we choose the monster?
Well. Pretend to walk-hand
in hand, and marathon kiss?
Maybe be safe and chew toe?
Chew? Ya own dirty toe nails.
No use Barack Obama pants.
I mean: No wipe shoes. Dance.
No take diapers to Inaugurals.
Shine shoes? Use dirty tissues.
Carry corncobs to sock hop ball?
Dance on Capital Hill? 'Um hog?
'Um yodel as bad as 'um comment.
No go on a wild duck chase. Ignore.
I agree with everybody. You rock and we're screwed. So if you could only use three things to start civilization over, what would they be? (Well, of course chocolate would be one, so we'll throw that in for free).

Totally. Excellent. Post.
Sally Swift. Yup. Ya make me giggle in my tummy. If it were Valentines Day, I'd send You a empty box of Walt Whitman (The Medic) Heart Candy. The Friday purchase of heart shaped cardboard candy is done devoured.
Who can not resist eating a whole box?
Walt Whitman said:`Chew candy? No?
He was not the medic who was a dentist.
Law Offices ? Worst than a Orthodontist.
Orthodontist call lawyers to borrow a tie.
Then an attorney pretends to act crooked?
No. 'Um crooked and worst than buck tooth.
Lawyers beg for free laundry soap. Use paste.
Lawyer use sperm tooth paste in a diaphragm?
No? Oops. Farmers dog -ear 'Finnegan's Wake.'
No? Oops. Lawyers look in phone book for Shrink.
It's a pun. Go with buns to a parties in a green gown.
Be nice. Adorn a dimple smile. Count all the shrinks.
I love to count the Beautiful Folk Not in yellow pages.
No believe the put-downers. Take with a grain of salt.
Ego vs. altruism. Good Folk. Pot Luck. Yes, Mommas.
I's not being nasty.
Friday is pizza day.
Pie on my pajamas.
Dough for a cleaner?
DoJ' hard evidence?
Laws make shamble?
Manmade law craps?
I'm a positive skeptic.
Poodle wag tail? Bye.
Folks say:`STHU. Ay!
Or, face a sure delete!
Since folk here at the farm yell at me....
I wonder? If grouches shine shoes with?
Use a lawyer
a baby diaper?
Blow nose with a tie?
No. Give to a lawyer?
'Um can chews all day.
Gnaw tie & dirty sock?
Buy condoms to read?
Use baby pacifier too.
Since folk here at the farm yell at me....
I wonder? If grouches shine shoes with?
Use a lawyer
a baby diaper?
Blow nose with a tie?
No. Give to a lawyer?
'Um can chews all day.
Gnaw tie & dirty sock?
Buy condoms to read?
Use baby pacifier too.
Thoughtful and disturbing, but important to hear. Loved your last paragraph - don't think I've ever read a more succinct or accurate critique of our society. Also somehow makes me think of that old George Calin routine, in which he reminds us that the earth will be fine. People are completely screwed, but the earth - after it shakes us off like a bad case of fleas - will be just fine.
Holy cow, Verbal, this is a tour de force of a post. Your last paragraph is the crux, isn't it?

This should win the Lexus prize, which I *would* say should be a Lexus and not $200, but then we have that problem with it requiring nonrenewable energy to run.
I like this, even if I don't agree to the extent we're screwed. I think a lot of people are going to be screwed, but not everybody. Some are going to be just fine, eventually. Once there's no more oil, there will be a big contraction in the population, and then it will be smooth sailing for the survivors, except for occasional pestilences. And intermittent famines. And really, really nasty sunburns.
Great post. It will be interesting to see if Humanity can get off this planet and infect another one, like the plauge we are. Or if we can evolve our relationship with the biosphere into a more mutualistic one. though to be honest I don't expect to be around to find out.
This is an outstanding post. I wish I had gotten here sooner. Interestingly, the planet is agnostic about us humans. It will continue regardless of what form its carbon takes. But the human manifestation of it is not guaranteed to last very long at all. The shame of it is, our carelessness will effect every other manifestation of carbon-based life as well.
This really should have been on the OS cover, btw.
Great, creative approach to this topic! Love all the graphics and interesting analogies to understand the data.
Yes, it is striking that it has only been since the industrial revolution that our planet has become so systemically damaged.

Imagine, in the toilet paper roll of history, TV has only been here for what? 50-60 years? Cars? Around 100?

It's just inconceivable to me that there hasn't been, and probably won't be an awakening of this planet's "collective unconscious", that we might somehow emerge from these dark age's, and enter a new global renaissance.

You're is hopeless.
Clever, deadpan, crunchy writing. Well-done.

But the good news is: one thing leads to another and before you know it we're all dead. Cheers!
Geez I thought I left a comment on this saying Game Over. You Win! All these little marks on the side? Does that mean you won the Lexus?? I hope so. Because this was just masterful. Wonderful piece.
C-Guy, yeah, you did stop by on the 15th! See that up there? But...what little marks on the side are you talking about? (The EP showed up sometime late Sunday or early Monday, I think. I was really surprised to see it. I'd thought this post fell down a black hole.)
(VR asked "What little marks"

Talking bout what I now recognize as the Lexus Technology brand town hall brand . . . .

Showing how badly I pay attention and what a bad capitalist I am. . .no wonder I'm unemployed. . .hmm better write something businessy when the fun stops tomorrow. . .off to watch the parade! fear...all will be...perfectly...well... (fastening virtual reality goggles)