Off the keyboard of RE
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So here we are now, on the cusp of another Auld Lang Syne. Pretty much every year since I started Blogging the Collapse in 2007, I have written some sort of paean to the New Year, and this one will be no different. Sometimes I write Prognostications for the Future in such posts, other times I write Nostalgia for the Past. I suspect this one will contain both also.
We got through the big Mayan Date of 12/21/2012 without a Planet Killer sized Asteroid hitting, and without Global thermonuclear Warfare also! So I guess we are SAFE now? Of course not, and pinning your prognostications on any given day is pretty much like picking out the right numers in the Lotto, your chances of being precisely correct here are quite small.
What we do see inexorably are incremental changes in the way we live, and the way our economic system functions, or does not function as the case may be. So this leads many in the Collapse Blogosphere to conclude that our spin down will continue to eb incremental, long term “Boiling Frog” or “Long Emergency” in Jimmy Kunstlers terminology.
At this point, after witnessing 4 years of various Kick the Can methodologies undertaken by the CBs to keep the system floating another day, Iexpect more of same in the coming year, but to ever less success all the time. The “Fiscal Cliff” bullshit playing out over the next week looks likely to give a good Kidney Punch to the Markets, and all the liquidity in the world won’t get commercial banks loaning to credit exhausted customers.
The main CBs of Da Fed, the ECB, the PBoC and the BoJ are basically now in the Bizness of directly funding their respective Goobermints by buying their bonds, since nobody else will. Thus, any outflow of currency to J6P basically has to come from Da Goobermint now, dribbled out in SNAP Cards and SSDI and other Transfer programs. The number of people who can afford to Happy Motor around continues to shrink, with an ever widening gap between Haves and Have Nots here.
Juggernauts don’t stop on a dime of course, and this is a BIG Juggernaut. It remains unlikely the Dollar fails first in the currency warfare, so I don’t think we will see HI this year again in the Dollar, much to the consternation of John Williams of Shadow Stats and Speedy Gonzalo Lira.
I do think some Goobermint over in Eurotrashland will topple this year, repudiate odious debt and try flying their own new currency. The Spanish or Portuguese seem the most likely candidates, more than the Greeks who are just mired in Political Corruption on a vast scale and probably could not even figure out how to issue Drachma and make it work at all at this point. Like Zimbabwe, they are a Failed State now and cannot administer their own currency without it turning instantly worthless right off the Printing Press. Far as International Trade goes, getting Gas to run their cars and trucks and food staples they no longer grow enough of there for the population, the Greeks are basically dependent on the Kindness of Strangers, basically Krauts who historically are none too generous a people. LOL.
Trying to predict the future here even on the short term though is pretty much a losing proposition, we’ve been teetering on the Precipice since 2008, and we could teeter a while longer here. Here in the FSofA, I don’t see Mad Max likely this year or even next now, but I do see ever increasing social disruptions and a Tipping Point will come eventually. We’ll get a Canary in the Coal Mine window on a lot of how it will play out here just by watching Europe and Japan.
In Japan, the Radiation Poisoning around Tokyo is even greater than in Fuk-U-shima itself, and already there are reports of increasing Thyroid Nodules and Cancers occuring. I cannot imagine how any Nipponese with means to get out of Tokyo would not do so at this point. The new Goobermint is talking about restarting their still functional Nukes, as I am sure J6P Salaryman is getting tired of Brownouts and says Fuck IT! Nuke till we die! Kamikaze!
For myself sitting here in my perch on the Last Great Frontier, I can only look back and wonder at the STUPIDITY of all of it now.
I remember back to going to school at Stuyvesant, taking the Number 7 Flushing Line every working morning at Rush Hour. I was fortunate to be at the first stop on the line so could wait for an empty train most of the time and get a seat, but by the time the train left the station, it was already Standing Room Only with every “Strap” hung onto sometimes by more than one person, so you got the grubby cooties of whoever it was hanging on the same strap as you. By the time we got to Junction Boulevard station, there weren’t even straps or poles left to hang onto, but no worries about Falling Down, since everyone was packed shoulder to shoulder inside the Tin Can like Sardines.
This is a way for Human Beings to LIVE? Even if you have a “good job” in the Big Shitty with a decent paycheck that allows you to have a decent apartment in Queens, 3 hours a day every day of your work week you are a Human Sardine.
Not a whole lot better for the next tier up of peoples either, living in McMansions in Nassau and Suffolk counties commuting in their Carz on the Long Island Expressway either. Traffic Jams, your own Flat tires running over a discarded Switchblade, an Accident at least every couple of years driving up you Insurance rates and forcing you onto the LIRR for a week while the car got fixed…etc.
For those at the Very Top though, in Penthouses on Park Avenue, gee it was all WONDERFUL. Doorman greets you with a big smile when you arrive, makes sure none of the Hoi Polloi get thru the door of the building. No Parking Issues, walk out the door of your building and the Limo is there to pick you up and take you down to Wall Street.
These of course are the people who were running the show through it all, going right back to the Robber Barons (and before that!), and they Invested their BORROWED money on building out the system for their own further Comfort and Enjoyment, hell with the fact that somewhere down the line it was polluting Love Canal or setting the Cuyahoga River on fire. Later of course to be moved over to China where now the Rice Paddies in Guanzou Province are irrigated in Sewage.
Going way back to my early years in Brazil, I was always irritated by the vast discrepancy between the people living in the Favelas around Rio and those living inside the “Bubble” on Rua Joachim Nabuco where I lived. Some folks living very well, others in desperate poverty. Why? Made no sense to me as a 7 year old, makes no sense to me today.
Along the way between then and now, I’ve been subject to the same Propaganda everyone else has, that everyone has Opportunity to Bootstrap themselves up and Poor people are Poor because they are Lazy & Stupid. Which in fact many of them are, but so are many Rich people! In fact I think Rich people are Lazier & Stupider on a statistical basis than Poor folks are! As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in the Great Gatsby, “The rich are different from you and I. They have more money.” LOL.
Anyhow, as I have discovered in the interim, the monetary system as it is constructed is a Control Conduit, a mechanism by which the powerful in society stay powerful and subjugate the weaker in the society. Moving between the Castes here was briefly enabled in the FSofA as there was so much resource base to go out and Plunder after the First Nations people were decimated by the Smallpox and Guns, that it created just a ton of Nouveau Riche folks here, particularly in the post WWII era.
The Nature of the Monetary system though is to perpetually sieve wealth back to those who have the POWER to issue credit, and who will issue it to themselves endlessly. They only issue the Credit out to J6P though as long as it behooves them to do so and betters their own lives.
In today’s world as we march forward into 2013, it no longer behooves the elite in society to issue more Credit to J6P, because the resources upon which said credit is based are rapidly diminishing in availability and EROEI. So entire Nation-States like the Greeks and Spaniards are being Triaged off the credit bandwagon to buy the Oil that a very few people hold control over. As they get triaged off, their Jobs disappear, and so do their Pensions. It is happening over there across the Pond already, it will arrive at our shores also in the Bye & Bye.
This has not been a good way for Homo Sapiens to live and inhabit the Planet for a long time now, certainly anyone who was ever packed like a Sardine into a Tin Can subway Car should know that. Anyone who ever sat in a two hour Traffic Jam with their car burning gas at Idle while moving about nowhere should know that. Anybody who ever had a bullshit, go nowhere job (which almost all of them are for the Hoi Polloi) should know that.
Being real smart leveraged some folks out of this during the growth period, anybody who either could figure a way to get others working “for” him or could jump through the University Hoops to get into a Gate Kept profession could make some decent buckolas and become an FSofA member of the Upper Middle Class. Doctors and Lawyers, Insurance Agents, Real Estate Developers and Costruction Contractors, any number of people did this in the Salad Years of Growth of this sort of economy.
It even was possible for some 2nd Generation people in the FSofA to leverage into the Elite of the Society, Billionaires like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates jumped on the bubble of Computers and Information Technology as vast sums of credit were poured in this direction. To this day, Wall Street makes Billionaires out of nerds like Suckerbug from Facepalm. HUGE quantities of debt are issued, a few Banksters and “Entrepreneurs” get filthy rich, then over time it all colllapses because in fact it is not really producing anything at all, merely it is just another way to burn energy.
So now we cross the threshhold into 2013 in the early stages of the vast collapse of all the debt accumulated to drive Industrial and Technological civilization. Nowhere in the Industrialized World does anybody want this to end really, other than a few real Doomers. No Pensioner wants to accept that his Pension is Worthless. Nobody working in any end of the automobile economy wants to accept that people simply cannot afford to Happy Motor about anymore. Nobody who wokrs even as a Starbucks Barrista in a Mall somewhere wants to accept that not enough peole will make it to the mall to buy their overpriced coffee so they can keep their jobs either.
Above all, nobody in the Industrialized world wants to accept Lights OUT. For anybody born inside these cultures in the last 50 years, Electricity at the Flick of a Switch is a God Given RIGHT! To give up Electricity is to give up the GHOST here, the end of the meme of ever improving Techology, the end of the Jetsons and Star Trek Dream.
The Japanese won’t give it up, even in the face of Nuclear Toxins in their environment, they wanna go ahead and restart their Nukes. “If you are Going through Hell, keep Going” as Winston Churchill said. The other side option is a collapse of their economy, and with the 100M plus on those Islands, more will die faster without the electircity than will die from Radiation Poisoning. Cannot STOP till you are DEAD!
So it goes here for the culture at large, but that does not mean as an Individual you cannot seek your way out of the mess. Here on the Diner, we SEEK the ways out the individual can muster up here. None are foolproof, none are perfect. Any one of them though ups your chances of surviving the Zero Point by orders of magnitude. Just UNDERSTANDING what is going on does that.
As we move forward here into 2013, I know it will get worse, perhaps much worse and quickly too. At the same time, I know it is important to reach out to others, deliver the TRUTH, and hunker down to make it through the Zero Point. When Toba went Ballistic, some people made it though that Bottleneck. Some can do it again. Diners.
Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Published on Economic Undertow on December 29, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Table inside the Diner
The universe is a monstrous thing populated by demons, where nothing perishes but everything is perpetually diminished … virtues are deceptions … honesty is a paradox … nothing is what it seems: the human enterprise labors tirelessly at its own extinction in an ironic attempt to ‘improve’ itself. (All of) this is the manifestation of the universe’s malevolent design. Our endeavors are a part of the greater whole, most of which we cannot see or hope to understand. Individuals are blind and dumb … our wit would save us but it vanishes when we need it the most …
America is clinically depressed … the holidays make people crazy. The world is crazy and sad: it is afraid, the way for humans to manage fear has always been to lie to themselves … this is what courage is, a peculiar kind of lie.
The human race is confronted with gigantic resource imbalances and excess consumption: the public ignores the problem or denies it, preferring to watch television. We don’t know how to discuss it so we don’t try:
‘Fairytale of New York’ by Jeremy Finer and Shane MacGowan
It was Christmas eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me: won’t see another one
And then he sang a song
The rare Old Mountain Dew
Honesty is found in a song imagining two pieces of human wreckage wheezing through Christmas in a drunk tank …
I turned my face away and dreamed about you.
Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one …
Nobody earns a living, everyone gambles, just like on Wall Street …
I´ve got a feeling
This year´s for me and you.
So happy Christmas,
I love you baby
I can see a better time
Where all our dreams come true.
Enter the ad men …
They got cars big as bars
They got rivers of gold …
Don’t they always? Here comes the truth …
But the wind goes right through you
It´s no place for the old …
… they end up in the tank!
When you first took my hand on a cold Christmas eve
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me
You were handsome — you were pretty –
Queen of New York City when the band finished playing they yelled out for more,
Sinatra was swinging all the drunks they were singing.
We kissed on a corner,
Then danced through the night. And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day.
So it goes, the improbable chemical-fueled combination of ecstasy and infatuation that lasts for an instant then vanishes forever … as rare in iron-bound Mordor as a diamond necklace in the sewer. Humans turn their entire lives for a chance at these instants, these unforeseen moments … gambling everything in the chase or in fruitless attempts to buy ecstasy in a store. By this process the world is destroyed.
You´re a bum you´re a punk,
– You´re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed …
– You scumbag you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse I pray god it´s our last.
We can’t discuss our self-inflicted misery but we can write songs about it. How the message is delivered matters more than what it is. Shane MacGowan should write about the unraveling of the world, about climate change and Peak Oil, about financial collapse … the rest of us would sing along in bars on St. Patrick’s Day …
John Hussman discusses interest rates, debts and the insanity of it all:
Since 2009, both the stock market and the broad U.S. economy have been dependent on perpetual support from massive federal deficits and unprecedented money creation. Meanwhile, Wall Street is content to ignore the extent of this support, and looks on every movement of the economy as a sign of intrinsic health – which is a lot like admiring the graceful flight of a dead parrot swinging by a string from the ceiling fan.
Our economy is fundamentally string!
A quick look at how the deleveraging of the U.S. economy is going – total credit market debt has now reached $55 trillion, including government, corporate and household sectors, representing 3.5 times GDP (down only slightly from the 3.8 multiple observed at the recession trough of early 2009). To put this in perspective, every 100 basis point change in interest rates on maturing and refinanced debt now implies a redistribution of income between borrowers and lenders on the order of $500 billion annually. The Fed has worked tirelessly to ensure that borrowing is as cheap as possible – the risk being that any departure from that would give every interest rate change of one percent an annual economic effect the same size as the “fiscal cliff.”
Figure 1: total government and private sector debt in credit market @ $55 trillion — this amount does not include off-balance sheet credit, shadow banking or forex/currency claims which are an order of magnitude greater. The Fed offers a willingness to push down credit costs … to do so it must be prepared to lend indefinitely.
This is more madness, the Fed works against itself!
Optimally: the private sector offers unsecured loans to firms as a matter of faith. The expectation is for general increase in the amount of credit/economic growth and serviceable cash flow. Growth’s ‘utility’ is the ability of the firms to borrow over time and to use these loans to refinance prior loans as they become due. Unsecured loans exceed the worth of collateral by ten-times or (much) more. The central bank does little but manage the flows of currency and foreign exchange.
Currently: the private sector has lent stupendous amounts to firms, this represents most of the blue line in the chart. Collateral is worthless or worth very little. Leverage is now 100x or more. The borrowers are unable repay because they do not earn anything and never have. The lenders are over-leveraged/insolvent and borrowers are unable to borrow any longer. There is no more growth, it was all fake anyway.
Remedy: the central bank lends to private sector banks, taking their impaired collateral onto its own balance sheet at ‘face price’ which provides the banks a temporary reprieve from insolvency. The bank bailout is done with a straight face ‘to end unemployment’! There is no economic growth because there is no credit expansion … central banks cannot expand the credit base by offering unsecured loans. This remedy has been applied in Japan since 1990 and has failed. The more central bank credit is offered, the less private sector credit … the central banks’ actions are self-defeating. The Fed lends to push down rates: the lowering of rates reduces private sector profits as well as incentives to lend! As with the petroleum biz … rates that are profitable to the bankers are unaffordable to borrowers.
The ‘More Stupid’ remedy: the central bank targets nominal GDP (NGDP), lending in excess of collateral or accepting fraudulent collateral as security for loans in an attempt to create credit expansion by itself.
Outcome of the ‘More Stupid’ remedy: the offending central bank becomes instantly insolvent just like all the private sector lenders and for the same reason. There is a ‘run on the banks’ as depositors remove deposits: currency is the only real collateral for the Mount Everest of claims laid against it.
Insanity is contagious: watch all the central banks attempt nominal GDP targeting at the same time! No central banker wants to be blamed for a recession: all the bankers are easing as much as possible.
The Federal Reserve under Bernanke is like a bad doctor facing a patient with a broken femur. Being both unable and unwilling to restructure the broken bone, he announces that he will keep shoving aspirin down the patient’s throat until the bone heals. Despite virtually no relationship between the injury and the treatment, that femur might eventually heal enough on its own to allow the patient to hobble out of bed. But by then, the patient will need to be treated for liver failure. What’s even more bizarre is that everybody quietly knows this, but as he shoves another handful of aspirin down the patient’s throat, nobody proposes restructuring the broken bone, and they instead stand around helplessly saying “well, ya gotta do somethin’ don’t ya?” I continue to believe that most of the economic impact of policy changes in the past few years can be traced to a) the abandonment of accounting transparency by changing FASB rules, which allowed banks to suspend mark-to-market accounting and effectively relieved them of capital requirements, and; b) the U.S. guarantee of bad mortgage debt extended by Fannie and Freddie. Both of those policy changes will impose enormous costs over the long-term, but they did allow the financial system to abandon the immediate need to actually restructure bad debts.
He leaves out energy costs, but no matter. The central banks have to cease lending at some point … it’s pointless … the patient is dead … As Hussman suggests, the only workable remedy is for the private sector to delever/write off bad loans.
At the same time, perhaps the establishment can begin allow those at the bottom of the economic food chain to earn. This requires less credit not more. Credit allows those with access to it to pretend to outperform those without … who are consequently exposed to ruinous competition. By borrowing, the government competes with its own citizens: by doing so it gives cause to those who would purposefully become dependent upon the government and thereby destroy it …
Speaking of energy, from the New York Times, Alan Riley counts his natural gas chickens right now!
The shale energy revolution is likely to shift the tectonic plates of global power in ways that are largely beneficial to the West and reinforce U.S. power and influence during the first half of this century. Yet most public discussion of shale’s potential either focuses on the alleged environmental dangers of frakking or on how shale will affect the market price of natural gas. Both discussions blind policy makers to the true scale of the shale revolution. The real impact stems from its effect on the oil market. Shale gas offers the means to vastly increase the supply of fossil fuels for transportation, which will cut into the rising demand for oil — fueled in part by China’s economic growth — that has dominated energy policy making over the last decade.There are two major factors in play here. First, the same shale extraction technology of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing can be employed whether the rocks are oil-bearing or gas-bearing. We have already seen over half a million barrels of oil a day flowing from the Bakken field in North Dakota. The recent Harvard-based Belfer Center report — “Oil: The Next Revolution” — suggests that shale oil could be providing America with as much as 6 million barrels a day by 2020. The United States imported only 11 million barrels of crude oil a day in 2011. Given the potential for offshore and conventional domestic oil production, this would suggest that by 2020 America could be near energy independence in oil.
Then again, perhaps not … Maugeri’s report and others- similar have been holed below the waterline in the NY Times and elsewhere. What isn’t discussed is how broke Americans are to pay for the extra billions of barrels of frakked crude. It sez here — declining real wages — they can’t.
Figure 2: Wages have fallen in real terms for over fifty years! More costly fuel against declining wages = unaffordable. Credit flows toward the fuel extraction- and finance industries away from workers, who cannot buy products … houses, automobiles, service ‘goods’ … or the fuel needed to run them. As business operating margins shrink and the bosses take more for themselves worker pay falls further, impacting sales in a vicious cycle.
As an expedient, the government borrows in the workers’ place. Because the workers are unproductive in the sense they cannot- and will not earn, the government must borrow exponentially greater amounts, and do so indefinitely … None of the energy promoters are able to explain how energy ‘production’ without customers is supposed to work.
The second factor is the potential to use natural gas for transportation. Some analysts suggest that this will only be a realistic prospect for fleet and long-haul road transportation. But they are overlooking the immense advantage that natural gas has as a transportation fuel in America and Europe, which have both developed a natural gas infrastructure in urban areas that takes piped natural gas into homes, offices and supermarkets. Once gas is cheap and widely available, it is possible to consider dealing with the “last mile” problem of providing home refueling kits so consumers can fill up natural-gas powered cars in their own garages.
Riley is a professor of energy law at The City Law School at City University London. Riley sees gas fueling the cars in the immediate future … despite uncertainties about the gas supply. Meanwhile, there is no sign of a generalized shift by the auto industry toward producing natural gas powered vehicles or the means to adapt the current fleet to natural gas use. With more than 270 million vehicles in US service alone, such a switch-over would be very costly and time consuming.
Meanwhile, there are questions about how much gas will be available over time. If fuel is affordable, there are insufficient returns for drillers. A recent New York Times article calls the natural gas frakking enterprise a “Ponzi Scheme”. Drillers cannot earn by selling fuel, they must borrow from Wall Street.
China has even greater incentives to develop its shale gas resources. According to the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, the country’s recoverable resources are larger than those of the United States at 36 trillion cubic meters. The main geostrategic reason for Beijing to develop shale gas for transportation is that the U.S. Navy controls the Pacific and most Chinese oil arrives by tanker. Large scale use of natural gas for transportation would protect China from much of the effect of a U.S. blockade.
It is good to learn from the Times the US is planning to blockade China … The only remedy that will actually work is to get cars off the road. They cost too much. One way or the other the cars are gone, so are the roads. Once gone we will discover we really didn’t need them, that they ruined our lives, instead.
Figure 3, from BP’s 2010 World Energy Outlook with data from the International Energy Agency: the ‘Blue Triangle of Death’, oil fields — presumably large, conventional deposits — that have not been discovered that are needed to make up for declines elsewhere. The shortfall indicated here is about 30 million barrels per day by 2035.
Figure 4, here is the Mother of All Oil Shortfall Graphs by EIA’s Glen Sweetnam (2009) by way of Kurt Cobb. He points out that any gains from tight oil formations will be overtaken by ongoing declines in conventional fields. Sweetnam calls for 40+ million barrel shortfall by 2030.
Figure 5: Petrobras in 2010 calculated a man-sized shortfall in production of sixty to seventy million barrels per day — or more — by 2030! The marginal increases from frakking and even Iraq will not change the outcome significantly. Says Cobb:
… many people will say that we already have a large new resource of tight oil (often mistakenly referred to as shale oil) which can be extracted through hydraulic fracturing or fracking. But even if the optimists are correct — and there can be no guarantee that they will be — this source of oil will only add 3 to 4 million barrels of daily production. What Sweetnam’s chart tells us is that we must find and bring into production the equivalent of five new Saudi Arabias between now and 2030 in order to meet expected demand even if the volume of tight oil reaches its maximum projected output.
Maybe Shane MacGowan can write a song …
“Kelly’s Last Stand” … about delusional central bankers, government officials and fracking shills looking for a miracle.
I could have been someone
– Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you.
– I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own.
Can´t make it out alone
I´ve built my dreams around you … And the boys of the NYPD choir’s still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day.
Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams
Published on Epiphany Now on December 28, 1012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Have A Meaningless Holiday Cheap Plastic Shit On Me.
There was a time, not so long ago, where it seemed the only limiting factor for what you could accomplish was your own laziness. Maybe this idea has always been an illusion, but I don’t think so. A four year college degree doesn’t get you employment now. The only thing you can expect from a four year degree now is a monthly bill that has to be paid. My wife got a four year degree in communications and all it has done has been to generate a $117.63 bill every month which is comparatively low. That’s mostly because she worked and paid $800 a month towards college while she was attending. We have another 10 years to go before her student loan is paid in full. What are we to do now to better our financial situation? What kind of meaningful work is there in our meaningless society? If you were to argue that our civilization has meaning, what kind of meaning would you argue for?
Off the keyboard of Monsta666
Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner.
In the first part of this two part series we discussed how the sheer amount of energy coupled by its cheap cost enabled society to increase the amount of work that could be produced at a much reduced cost. It was this cheap energy subsidy that made the process of arbitrage between human labour and fossil powered capital very profitable as the price difference between hiring labour “energy” and capital “energy” was so vast.
This huge energy subsidy not only provided great wealth to the ruling classes who owned the factories and other capital infrastructure it also enabled the workers to become more materially wealthy as the cost of producing items was reduced drastically. This happened because all work requires energy to transform a basic resource into a commodity that is of economic value. If the energy cost is reduced and the supply of energy is greatly increased then the amount of work that can be achieved by a society will greatly expand and thus the items produced well sell at lower price due to the principles of supply of demand. What is important when discussing these matters of energy availability and will become increasingly important going forward is the concept of net energy. To understand this concept it would be wise to understand the laws of thermodynamics, more precisely the first law of thermodynamics. This law was originally described as:
“In all cases in which work is produced by the agency of heat, a quantity of heat is consumed which is proportional to the work done; and conversely, by the expenditure of an equal quantity of work an equal quantity of heat is produced.” – Rudolf Clausius, 1850
For the mathematically inclined the following
formula captures the law of conservation as
any heat input will equal the work done.
dU = dQ – dW
where U =Internal energy of system, Q = Heat input,
W = work done
To many this statement may seem a little unwieldy and rather abstract but it basically describes the concept that energy cannot be created or destroyed and all energy transactions are merely conversions of one form of energy source to another. This idea is an important one to grasp since we can never actually generate energy; we merely extract it from existing sources.
This statement may seem rather obvious but since terms such as energy production and energy generation are so widespread it is easy to forget this fact. If we were to take such statements as energy production on a literal level they would be a clear violation of the first law of thermodynamics. Perhaps it can be argued this is just an argument over semantics and most people will know you cannot actually create energy but let us not underestimate the power of language and how it can shape conversations and narratives; over time people will believe such statements at face value as true even if they are patently false. This is especially relevant today when we hear so much talk about the US becoming not only energy independence but also becoming the top energy producer in the world.
But I digress, the main thing to take home is no form of energy extraction, be it from coal, nuclear fission (fusion for the optimists) and wind or solar actually generates energy. It just utilises existing energy sources. In the above examples energy is extracted either through nuclear fission/fusion reactions, potential chemical energy in coal/oil/gas or wind and solar energy. Another concept that will come from this basic idea and one that perhaps even more relevant is that it takes energy to get energy. This concept while important is something that rarely (if ever) gets discussed in the mainstream media. Much of the talk about oil, coal or gas “production” only refers to the amount of total energy that can be obtained from burning or utilising a given resource. This amount is merely the gross energy obtained from the ground. If we wish to determine the amount of useful energy available for greater society however we need to subtract the amount of energy used to obtain the resource in the first place. This is because it is only this energy that gets to be used by society for other economy activities. Thus for us to work out net energy we subtract the gross energy by the energy needed to extract the resource as described in the formula.
Gross energy = Total amount of energy obtained from energy source.*
Net energy = Gross energy – Energy required to obtain energy source.
* = Energy maybe expressed in other ways such as barrels of oil or million short tons of coal.
As a note net energy should not be confused with the similar but different term EROEI (Energy Return On Energy Invested) which describes the potential energy return from an energy source. The terms maybe used interchangeably by other commentators in the blogosphere but it would be a mistake to think they are the same thing. The way to calculate EROEI is quite different as demonstrated below:
EROEI =Gross energy / Energy required to obtain energy source.
EROEI = (Net energy/ Energy required to obtain energy source.) + 1
NOTE: Net energy is the energy available to society and thus something greater society would be interested in whereas EROEI is more of a potential concern for the person who wishes to see a return on their investment.
Since it is only net energy that gets used by the greater economy it is this value that we should be interested in knowing about rather than the gross amount. For example it is quite possible for our total gross energy to increase while our total net energy is actually in decline. If this were to happen we could easily see a scenario where we are getting materially poorer even though our total energy output is increasing. This process of increasing gross energy but declining net energy comes about due to the principle of low hanging fruit. That is the easiest and most favourable economic sources of energy – which yield the highest net energy – are extracted first and as those resources are depleted we move onto progressively worse and worse sources. It is this fact that the decline in net energy will be much steeper than gross energy decline.
This trend of declining net energy has likely already past as the newest sources of energy, a lot of which is touted as the energy source that will give the US energy independence actually yield poor amounts of new net energy. This is despite the fact this new energy sources (shale oil/gas) increase the amount of gross energy expended by the economy quite substantially. As a result from an economic standpoint these new sources of energy will deliver less economic benefit to society than would otherwise be believed as the extra net energy available will be more limited. It this reason why we should exercise caution when listening to claims that these sources of energy can offer a panacea to our economic troubles. In fact when hearing such claims it is useful to know the energy returns on energy for various sources as while this is not net energy which is ultimately the most important metric to gauge the EROEI can still provide an insight on how useful these sources will be:
As the graph clearly demonstrates; early sources of energy yielded a very high return of energy on energy invested. These high returns came about because early sources of energy such as shallow coal mines did not need much capital investment to extract the resource furthermore once these resources were obtained they would yield high quality energy such as light sweet oil or in the case of coal high quality anthracite. It is this reason in fact why net energy or EROEI has largely been ignored as historically gross energy for all intents and purposes equalled net energy.
In recent years however this has not been the case and the difference between gross and net energy is sufficiently large to warrant greater attention. Moreover another troubling fact to take note is that once EROEI reaches about 10:1 or lower the graph goes into steep decline. This steep decline means the available net energy that can be used by society will begin dropping at an alarming rate if current trends of extracting lower quality energy sources continue. If we take a recent major discovery of shale oil we discover the EROEI for this resource is 5. In net energy terms this represents 20% of the total gross energy being used to extract the energy source. So from this information we can say that if all existing resources of energy were replaced by sources that were to yield returns equivalent to shale oil then our total net energy available to society would decline by 20%. This assumes there are no efficiency gains in how we utilised this energy and total gross energy remained constant. If that is the case then this would effectively mean we are 20% poorer as less energy would be available for economic transactions.
Off course what is more likely to happen is the EROEI and thus net energy will decline even faster than suggested in the previous paragraph as worse and worse sources of energy come online to replace existing high EROEI resources. As a result we are likely to see a steep decline in net energy available to society and we can say with some certainty that this decline in net energy will be faster than the rate of efficiency gains which has been around 1.7-3.0% per annum since the 1970s. 
What is more due to the rebound effect (see this article for more info) it is likely that any efficiency gains made will need to exceed declines in available net energy by a few percentage points each year if we want sustain economic growth (which is a requirement for the financial system to remain stable). This all seems unlikely particularly if we consider that energy efficiency and conservation strategies will see diminishing rates of return as it becomes harder to increase energy efficiency after each progressing year. After all no economic activity can ever achieve 100% efficiency. Speaking of 100% efficiency this leads on nicely to the second law of thermodynamics which states:
“That the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy.”
Like the first law, this sentence describing the second law can seem a little unwieldy. In fact it is best to breakup this statement into two sentences as the quotation above addresses two very relevant points the first of which is displayed below:
In other words no energy transaction can ever be 100% efficient meaning some energy will always be lost when converting energy into some form of work. This point while blatantly obvious is often overlooked in the contexts of economics and broader society. It is this reason why there will always be a limit to amount of economic growth that can be realised as the planet has a finite number of resources and there are limits to the amount of efficiency that can be achieved. Another major consequence that does derive from the second law of thermodynamics comes from this statement:
While at first glance, the concept of heat transfers may seem a little out there this statement does pertain to one important idea. That is over time all bodies and structures go from a process of order to disorder. For those that are really curious about this process and wish to learn more about the exact mechanics of this process please look up entropy. If this idea still seems a bit out there consider the fact that all structures, be it capital or labour, degrade over time and require maintenance to allow proper functioning. This maintenance always requires energy and thus some resources will always be needed to maintain current capital or labour.
The entropy of a system can be calculated by applying the following formula:
dS = dQ / T
where S = entropy, Q = Heat input, T = Temperature of system.
If we use the formula from the first law of thermodynamics and
rearrange the formula
shown above this statement can be derived:
dU + dW = TdS
*4 basic thermodynamic relationships develop out of this math
Internal Energy dU=TdS-PdV+ΣμdN
Enthalpy (Heat) dH=TdS+Vdp+ΣμdN
Hemholtz Free Energy dF=-TdS-pdV+ΣμdN
Gibbs Free Energy dG=-TdS+Vdp+ΣμdN
If you do a little basic algebra, you get
This equation gives the Free Energy available in a system as a function of the
Heat Content, the Temperature and the Entropy in the system. Only reactions
with positive dG can go forward without Heat Input.
In the case of labour humans need food to stay alive and remain functioning while capital requires some energy inputs to prevent it from degrading and evening breaking down over time. What is more the greater the complexity of a structure the more energy will be required for maintenance. This is because a more complex structure has a greater degree of order and since things naturally go from a state of order to disorder then more energy will be needed to prevent overcome this natural process.
This is another weakness with applying the logic that technology will save the day as increasing the complexity of technology not only increases the existing maintenance cost due to the second laws of thermodynamics; the cost of producing such items increases as more energy per unit weight are needed in the manufacture of the product. To demonstrate this example a car requires something in the region of 12-25 barrels of oil to build a car depending on the weight of the car but a computer – on a weight by weight basis – requires 10 times the amount of energy to manufacture. A similar cost will be borne in maintaining these two pieces of capital. While in theory there can be energy savings on a production basis as less energy will be consumed despite the increased weight for weight costs (we do not need 1000kg+ worth of computers after all) what will increase significantly are maintenance costs of more complex infrastructure. To give a better idea of this concept at work consider healthcare. As the capital becomes increasingly complex capital then the maintenance costs will rise for the reasons described above.
To summarise this article and the one before it; when we wish to engage in a discussion on energy we need to be aware of range of things. First we need to understand the sheer amount of energy fossil fuels provide. It is truly immense and is a miracle resource and there needs to be a greater appreciation just how much energy they can deliver. From this we can truly grasp the scale of the task an energy transition (if it is even possible) will be. It is seems unlikely to me any combination of renewable or nuclear energy can fill the gap left by fossil fuels. That is not to say renewables cannot make life easier, they do have their uses but we would be setting our expectations too high if we expect them to maintain our current industrial lifestyles.
The other important points that need to be considered is the point we should be interested in not only the quantity of energy delivered but also the quality of energy. At the end of the day it is net energy or EROEI we are really interested in as it is this energy that gets used for greater society. Finally we need to be aware that due to the increasingly complexity of society our maintenance costs will rise due to the second law of thermodynamics so these costs need to be accounted for.
 = Clausius, R. (1850). Ueber die bewegende Kraft der Wärme und die Gesetze, welche sich daraus für die Wärmelehre selbst ableiten lassen, Annalen der Physik und Chemie (Poggendorff, Leipzig), 155 (3): 368-394, particularly on page 373, translation here taken from Truesdell, C.A. (1980), pp. 188-189.
Off the keyboard of William Hunter Duncan
Originally published 12/28/12 at Off The Grid In Minneapolis
Discuss this post in Epicurean Delights, in the Forum
Last week, on the Solstice, I wrote about how I’d been fired from big bank for dancing in an orange afro wig at my cubicle/work station. Word came later, which I mentioned in the comments of that post, that a few people had rushed out of the building terrified, one woman was afraid to walk to her car alone after work, and at least one called in sick the next day, saying she was too afraid to come to work. Big bank couldn’t not fire me, and that the police were nearly called, led directly to me cleaning my house top to bottom, which had got kind of grubby, LOL – anticipating as I was a potential visit by the FBI, for having caused such a disturbance at big bank. I haven’t seen them.
Never mind big bank seemed to me to be engaged in massaging loan documents, to pawn off the loan on Fannie and Freddie, i.e. gov. Not altering documents, that I know of, but certainly not including certain documents in the package sent to gov, to make the loan look less distressed. Not necessarily illegal, but then, what is illegal, when you are gov, big bank, corp or fed? Right, freak out about the guy in the orange wig. Suffice to say I am tired of working for shysters and hucksters, no matter how shiny legit they appear parading across the television.
Which, big bank, as I said, has not seen fit to forgive the mortgage on this house, in firing me. Suffice to say too, I was not particularly happy with the $200 each month left over, after I paid the various tributes to exist here (and I don’t own a car), to do their dirty work (a “butt-in-seat, in the morgue/meatlocker/chop shop.”)
Not sure what I’m going to do now, there being so many shysters and hucksters. I was thinking of “bleeding the beast” and applying for unemployment benefits, but for all I know I’m still “employed” by the temp agency I was working for, at the Behemoth in 2008. I never have applied for gov bennies since I accepted a few small, ill-chosen loans in the early nineties, for college. Might apply just to report on what happens – a little cushion would be nice too, though I’m dubious, all around. Meanwhile, I’ll look for a job. Never have made more than $27,000 in any year of my adult life, and the average since I was 22 is probably more like $15,000, or maybe $10,000. I feel like maybe I deserve a good paying job doing something enjoyable and meaningful, not least that I am a hard worker when it means something, not least because of what I would likely do with the money, taking this house off the grid, growing as much food here as possible – but then, if such a job is available to me, I’m not aware of it. (When I was a kid, there was often talk from the media and the schools, that someday soon, technology would eliminate work. Now, it’s all ‘work harder longer for less,’ with no social guarantee eventually. Presumably the uber-rich will be allowed to continue as they are, even until they print their first trillionaire. LOL)
The house itself is in stasis, mostly. The furnace doesn’t work, and it doesn’t appear like temperatures will be above freezing anytime the next ten days. I live mostly in the kitchen and my bedroom, two oil filled electric radiators maintaining a temp somewhere between 50-60F, the kitchen warmer on sunny days. The basement hovers around 38F, because of the water heater. The rest of the house stays around freezing. It’s a pleasant enough place for me; I’ve lived in tents for months at a time. Not very livable though, certainly not for entertaining. LOL
I’d like to continue the work I started here. I imagine an attached greenhouse, fish ponds, hydroponic veggies, cisterns, solar radiant heating, even going underground and growing avocado and citrus. The tribute is high, however, and the resources I’d require, I’ve never had anything like, even though I could do it comparatively moderately, cost-wise. Making this a kind of focal point to help transform the region.
Of course, it’s all madness. Considering this lot, in the midst of the squarest neighborhood in Minneapolis, in the midst of a 3-million metro food desert. I can imagine roving gangs of Somali, Latino, Black, White, Hmong, cop and Christian Fundies, zombie hoards, a vast military machine unleashed in the interior. Two nuclear facilities on the Mississippi, upriver and downriver 35 miles each way, melting down.
I get to thinking like that every time I spend more than a few hours watching teevee, like I did at my parent’s this Christmas. I can’t tell the difference anymore between CNN and FOX, the pandering, the conditioning for war in the Middle East, in Syria and Iran. Americans have seemed to mostly disregard the calls for armed commandos in every school, coming to the conclusion basically that it would be too expensive. I swear, American’s are fatter every time I expose myself to the tube. And meaner, more invested in the status-quo, BAU, extract, acquire, consume.
Meanwhile of course, law enforcement top-to-bottom in this country is becoming little more than a pipeline for a vast penal system public and private, unlike anything the world has ever seen, deeply engrained now in our economy, from cops on the beat to prosecutors to drug testers to the many vendors supplying the many prisons, more military/commando authoritarian in it’s methods every day. We even have public/private internment camps for “alien” Latinos, while middle class liberals consume earnest media retrospectives on internment camps for Japanese, during WWII; local law enforcement flooded with the “decommissioned” weaponry of our un-paid-for adventures in Iran and Afghanistan. Two things we haven’t heard a peep from the media, in the so-called debate about violence following the shooting at Sandy Hook, are: What pharmaceutical anti-psychotic regimen was that young man on; and, this country has been at war for 12 years, our President is a known killer of children by drone, our military and CIA are in perhaps every country of the world, “protecting our interests”, stirring up all kinds of blowback, that we 5% of humans might consume 35% of the worlds resources.
Last week I said too, all I really want to do is dance around the world in the orange afro. Remember that book, Catcher in the Rye? It’s kind of like that. What economic situation we have is akin to coercion, ruled by hard asses, mean bastards and hypocrites. Holden Caulfield was merely an honest one, if he didn’t really know what to do with that. All he wanted was to be a protector of the innocent, a life of purpose not built on lies, on things that cannot be said, on things that cannot be true. I figure I could dance like a dervish in the orange wig, with a tip jar out, making enough money to exist. I also happen to know people all over the world who are planning to build or are building interesting houses and big gardens. I also happen to be a former building contractor, and I have nurtured here a kind of Edenic oasis. That would be about the most honest living I have ever made, bouncing from place to place, helping however I can.
Ideally, I would keep this place too, until I finish the work I imagine here. How ANY of this happens though, I can’t imagine. It seems like dreaming TOO big, based on the life I have lived to this point, considering too the increasing chaos in the world, and the fact that I’ll be out of money again soon. So I guess all I can do is call it out, and let the Goddess sort it out . Otherwise, I don’t see at this point how even to keep the house I seem to be renting from big bank, and a garden I am effectively leasing from the county, at a cost I seem incapable of paying. Not esp. if I would have to otherwise spend a fourth winter in this cold house.
I turn 40 this summer. I’d like to go see my friend Luciddreams, meet his family and help them around the homestead. I’d like to go to Cornwall to help Jason Heppenstall and his family with their homestead. A kind of pilgrimage too, to that Island, from which I presume I have ancestors going way back. I know of another curious project in Tasmania. As long as I’m dreaming, I wouldn’t mind dancing along the Champs-Elysees, and maybe in Africa and Mali particularly, or maybe the Congo, to dance something like this (speaking of ancestors going way back)
To make any of this happen, what I imagine, I’m going to need some help. To that end, I’ve added an email option to the blog, in the right-side column. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on December 25 & 26, 2012
Discuss these articles at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
December 26, 2012 · 8:29 am
Chums Trina and John are great cooks, big drinkers, tremendously appreciative and staggeringly generous. Trina (known usually as Latrine) bought Jon the complete set of ’2012′* DVDs. Without this, we would’ve spent Christmas Day evening staring at the walls, reading books, talking about the meaning of life, and all the other useless things one did as a student.
The telly listings for Christmas evening 2012 were perhaps the best example so far in human history of how more TV channels inexorably mean less quality…or lower quality for the pedants, or good old fashioned plain crap for the reality-lovers among us. Whoever the sad f**ks were responsible for putting these ‘competitive’ schedules together, my God but they should hold their heads in something. As they have no shame, I would suggest boiling oil as the perfect medium. Read the ‘choice’ at this link, and weep with joy or chagrin depending on whether you do or don’t like Eastenders, Coronation Street, Downton Abbey, Alan Carr or Eddie Stobart. Eddie Stobart is, on the other hand, dead……..which made him perfect casting given the company he was in.
Would you want to spend a year with Military Wives (8.45 pm BBC2, a reprise), and hour with Paul O’Grady talking about dogs (6.00 pm ITV1) or even a minute watching Eddie Stobart delivering reindeer for a Christmas parade (7.00 pm Channel 5, another repeat)? Well if you wouldn’t, there was always QI (a repeat) Blackadder (a repeat) Greatest Christmas Moments (a repeat) and Rude Tube on Channel Four (unrepeatable) . As for the films on offer, none of us had the slightest desire to watch Lord of the Rings (5.40 pm Channel 4), which was a shame as it was by far the best movie to be seen – all things being relative: Shrek the Halls, Kung Fu Panda, Carry on Cruising, Carry on Cleo, Carry on Don’t lose your Head, Final Destination 3, and Grease.
Television labouring under the usual ROI, shareholder returns, maximum adspace for minimal expenditure model is a vicious cycle heading inexorably down towards a place where bland copycat lifestyle bollocks and fifth-rate soaps meet ancient B-movies and robotic news. It is the area in commerce above all others where the private sector fails miserably, because it has no interest at all in creative risk, real art, edgy reporting and great drama. Public service television – under pressure from the barbarians – feels forced to chase the same ratings that spell success…and the same formats that become a winning formula. But the trouble with this frenetic search for the instant winning formula is that it only ever leads to the formulaic.
Those who incessantly bash the BBC seem to have little or no foresight about what its destruction would mean, and no recall of just how good it was before half-baked, superficially educated morons went into politics and started bullying it. Over all seven of my decades, it has added immeasurably to my enjoyment and appreciation of worthwhile things. The last decent law passed by Parliament was the Clean Air Act in 1957: fifty-five years of waste, strategic muddle, short-termism, hypocrisy and content-free drivel later, those in Government feel able to criticise an institution that leaves them as intellectual pygmies in its wake. I wonder how they have the gall to do it, but politicians never let their inferiority give them a complex to match. And as long as Britain is full of knee-jerkers gagging to get rid of the Beeb, they will continue on their insouciant, vandalising progress towards the destruction of civilisation.
* ’2012′ was a BBC2 satire-cum-parody about the largely braindead marketing communications people preparing for the London Olympic Games. The people who were actually doing the preparation at the time frequently said the reality was far, far worse than the parody. Anyway, it was and remains wonderful television.
There’s only one Santa
Today is Christmas Day, when every interpretation of anything is possible:
‘Greece should write off part of the
53 billion euros ($70 billion) of outstanding taxes owed to it
as it will only be able to collect up to 20 percent of that
amount, a report by the European Union and International
Monetary Fund showed.’
Secret IMF/Bondholder Report
‘For our part, we see the conflict between different sections of the ruling class and their state apparatus as being part of the break-up of the capitalist order in the face of the developing world socialist revolution. We hope that the different bourgeois factions do the greatest possible damage to each other, and in doing so prepare the way for the successful British socialist revolution, that will completely smash up every part of the British capitalist state, to bring in socialism.’
British Workers Revolutionary Party
“We have identified most of the external details of his cerebral cortex. The complexity and pattern of convolutions on certain parts of Einstein’s cerebral cortex is striking and unusual in comparison to brains from normal individuals. This is especially noticeable in the prefrontal cortex, which is important for advanced cognition, the parietal lobes, which are important for spatial and arithmetic reasoning, and the visual cortex. The primary sensory and motor cortices are also extraordinarily expanded in certain parts.”
Guardian neuroscience blog
‘President Obama said he hoped the holiday would give lawmakers perspective. “Everybody can cool off, everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones,” Mr Obama said.
Financial Times on the fiscal cliff
‘The Health and Safety Executive says it is fed up with being cited as an excuse for preventing people from taking reasonable risks as they go about their lives. The organisation’s chairman Judith Hackett told BBC Breakfast it is time for people to stand up to ‘jobsworths’ who wrongly use the health and safety mantra as a barrier to common sense.’
‘The standard rules of business behavior and management are precisely the opposite of what it takes to build an innovative company. We are told to hire people who will fit in; to train them extensively; and to work to instill a corporate culture in every employee. In fact, in order to foster creativity, we should hire misfits, goad them to fight, and pay them to defy convention and undermine the prevailing culture.’
John I. Dutton
‘Arguing that a belief in Santa Claus injects magic into childhood is, in my view, rather cynical. It tacitly implies that the world by itself is insufficient to inspire a child with awe and delight. That is simply untrue. A child can be astounded by the smallest brush-flick of nature – the spinning sycamore seed, the sea, snow – they don’t need to be lied to. Children are perfectly capable of being happy without their parents recoursing to Santa stories. I think this speaks more about the jadedness of modern adulthood than anything else.’
Daily Telegraph blogger
‘When, as a child, I first encountered the idea that Santa Claus might not be real, I balked. Once infected with doubts, however, they didn’t escape me, and I began to wonder how one soul could possibly stop off at every single house and deliver toys; besides, my house didn’t even have a chimney. With chagrin, I slowly resigned myself to the fact that there was no Santa Claus.’
When one surveys most people’s attitudes to politics, economics, money and investment in the West, you can see how easy it is to persuade children that Father Christmas is for real. With a little more effort, the neocon propagandists could persuade most adults today that Santa Claus married Mary Poppins, and they have six beautiful children called Geithner, Draghi, Merkel, Hunt, Balls and Monti.
So for your delectation this Christmas morn, here are a few of the more risible efforts at Father Christmas is Real from the year just gone:
Off the Keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner
Travelling back in time in Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine, back in the early 80s I got interested in building cheap and affordable shelters for Hunting, which you could use for a whole season or two. Something a bit more sturdy and comfy than a Tent, but not something so Permanent in location as a Log Cabin.
I wanted something I could put up quickly with just the help of a couple of others, and which at the end of the season I could take down and store, and the following year put up again somewhere else. I did a bit of research then (no internet, magazines mostly) and discovered Geodesic Domes.
Geodesic Domes were originally promoted by Buckminster Fuller, and he actually got his name pegged to the Geometry of these structures in the “Fullerene” class of Organic compounds and “Buckyballs”, which assemble up Carbon Atoms in a geodesic type structure.
Buckminster Fuller though was not the first guy to examine this type of solid geometry, it goes at least as far back in time as Plato and Aristotle. There are 5, ond ONLY 5 “perfect” Platonic Solids. They are the Tetrahedron, Four Faces of Equilateral Triangles; the Cube, 6 Faces of Squares; the Octahedron, 8 Faces of Equilateral Triangles; the Dodecahedron, 12 Faces of Regular Pentagons and the Icosahedron, 20 Faces of Equilateral Traingles. No other Regular Polyhedra are Geometrically possible.
It is however possibe to produce virtually infinite other polyhedra by combining various different planar surfaces like Hexagons and Pentagons, and Aristotle came up with a bunch of them. The more of them you put together, the closer to Spherical you can get in your structure, and the Geodesics of Buckminster Fuller can get very close to that.
Why is being close to Spherical important in creating a Shelter? Well, you see the closer you get to spherical, the better the structure will Self-Support without need for interior Walls and supporting columns. In fact MOST of what goes into building a typical McMansion is in these walls, the “Roof” of the structure is just a small part f the total materials involved. In a perfect Geodesic, you need NOTHING besides the “Roof” itself! Perfect enough construction, such a roof can be remarkably thin as well, like an Eggshell and still have structural integrity under great loads. The whole reason an Igloo self supports is because of this.
So again going back to the 80s, I investigated into how to build Geodesics though they never gained much popularity. There were quite a few problems involved in such construction.
First off, working with typical 2X4 construction materials, making the Joints is Miter Box complexity in extremis. So a few companies like Monterey Domes started producing “connectors you could use to bolt together the 2x4s and then once the framework was up slap the rest of the Roof up over it. Overall a good idea, but this stye of building never took hold, and Monterey Domes is long since Outta Biz.
There were numerous problems with such domes, mainly that they Leaked Plenty because there were so many Angles involved and the construction often was not done well by carpenters used to only cutting 90 degree and 45 degree joints.. Also generally speaking the Roundish shape and sloping walls didn’t fit too well with the typical Furniture being produced for housing. Besides all that were various Construction Codes for housing which Geodesics did not fit well under.
Besides those issues though, the Monterey Domes system did not fulfill my objective, which was to have a structure you could not only erect, but ALSO take down and MOVE somewhere else. Once UP, one of these domes was as Fixed in location as any typically built McMansion. You could no mre take it apart and move it than you could a typical McMansion.
At this point, I started experimenting with Models, and I built a Hunting Cabin in Balsa Wood by making a few adaptations, though the big problem always remained of the complex angle connections between main struts. I never got past the Model Stage with this, and I eventually stopped obsessing about Geodesics for a couple of Decades. LOL.
Fast Forward in Mr Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine to a couple of years ago, and I got into discussions of how to build Greenhosuses on the cheap, BIG with limited materials. Geodesics obviously the way to go with this, but all those Angle and Connection problems are still there…or ARE they?
I started working on my own system for connecting PVC Tubing, but then recently I ran across the Sonostar website. Somebody out there actually IS producing Connectors for PVC Tubing now that will enable you to erect the scaffold for a Geodesic in virtually NO TIME at all! Sonostar supplies the connectors for pvc tubing in the 1/2″ diameter size.
Once you have means to erect the Scaffolding, surfacing such a dome is not that hard. You cut the plywood sheeting to size, then bolt together over the scaffold. Several means of doing this. You make your Joints TIGHT between the plywood sheets so the load gets evenly distributed. Then you butress the whole thing afterward so you can take down the original scaffolding, and POOF you can USE IT AGAIN to do precisely the same thing!
Similarly up here where it Snows a LOT. you erect the Geo Scaffold and build your BIG IGLOO around it.. Once the first one is finished, it self supports and you can take down the scaffolding and do it again. You can do it in multiple sizes also, long as you have different size lenghs of rod in the right proportions, and those don’t just need to be made from PVC tubing, you could use sapling trees for that easily. so all you REALLY need are the CONNECTORS!
For the incipient Doomsteader who currently lives in a Big Shity and has a piece of uimproved on hunting land avaialble at around $2000/acre in the Ozarks for instance, you could have a complete set of connectors and tubing ready in Boxes to throw on your Trailer the day TSHTF, head for your property and erect a solid shelter inside a few days really. Initial Surfacing can be done quickly simply draping Parachute Material over the Geodesic Scaffolding. then you can begin the process of cutting out Triangles out of whatever materials you can get hold of. In fact, you could even use Cardboard! The ones pictured here were put up at the Burning Man Project inside a couple of days and are made of Cardboard.
If you want to try a nice little Geodesic Project at home with close to ZERO investment, you could do one of the Newspaper Tube Geo Projects, and with some cardboard surfacing and aluminum flashing, probably built one with a 15′ diameter that would stand up quite well. Of course, if you do that you better fix it to the ground pretty well, since a decent windstorm will pick it up and blow it away on you. LOL.
The structure can of course also use Roll Clear Plastic to cut Triangles out of to make a quick and easy Greenhouse of quite substantial size. It also can have fair insulation value by gluing the Triangles both to the Inside and Outside of the tubing, trapping a layer of air between the two sheets of plastic. In colder climates, even without a heating system inside, this probably extends your Growgin Season a good month to two months on either side of winter. A small Wood Stove or Fireplace inside this structure, and you probably are good for all but 2 or 3 of the coldest months.
Far as deciding whether to go 3 Up, 4UP or 6 UP on the Geo, the more nodes you have the closer it gets to spherical, and the Bigger you can get with typical 4×8 materials for surfacing. Personally though, I don’t think it is worth the time for a 6UP, 4Up is plenty. Connectors for that run around $500 or so.
Once you have the Connectors, you determine the overall Size of the Geo by simply scaling the size of the connecting struts. You can find the formulas for this online, or just use the online Calculators which tell you how long to cut each strut. The Sonostar Calculator automatically deducts the size of the Connectors from the struts
Note: To actually make this calculator work, you have to go to the Sonostar Dome Calculator Web Page.
All the lengths of pipe for the triangles that make up a geodesic dome are not the same. There are trigonometric equations used to calculate the different lengths, but to make it easy, we’ve incorporated all that into the simple calculator on this page. First, on this page, choose the complexity of the dome you want to build. If you don’t know what ‘frequency’ means, or the difference between a ’3V’ and a ’6V’, go to the FAQ’s page and that will explain it. Once you get to the next page, all you do is put the radius of the dome you want to build into the open square, and then hit the orange ‘calculate’ button next to it. Below it, you’ll see all the lengths for any frequency 3, 4, 5, or 6 dome you want to build.
* Please note that in calculating the lengths of the struts, 2.28 inches has ALREADY been deducted to account for the width of the hardcore geohubs.
Length Color # A - Yellow 30 B - Blue 55 C - Red 80 4 Star base hardcore geohub 15 5 Star hardcore geohub 6 6 Star hardcore geohub 40 Diameter -
Dome Calculator for 3V
The obvious reason to choose building a 3V dome is the simplicity of it: there’s only 3 different lengths of pipe, and 3 kinds of hubs. It creates a dome that has good lines, and if you want that angular/polyhedron look, then this is the right way to go. The cost is low, and the time to assemble is the shortest of all. It’s a good first dome to build if you’ve never built one before. A lot of people build these out of steel for climbing, but don’t even think of climbing on a 3V dome made of PVC.
Besides the Hydroponics Growing House pictured at right I lam looking at building this spring,, the quickly erected Geodesic Structure also provides a myriad of possibilitiesfor the Bugout/Doomsteading paradigms, essentially marrying the two together. You can keep your supply of Geodesic connectors in your Bugout Machine, and upon arrival at your Doomstead location have good solid Shelter built quickly.
Assuming Home Depot is still open, you’ll be able to pick up plywood sheeting, pvc tubing etc wherever you go to finish out the structure. My estimates for cost on this for a 25′ diameter Dome are around $5000.
In the future, most of the materials would be acquired by Scavenging from decaying McMansions, Malls and Office Buildings. Wall board, Glass, plywood etc can all be recycled this way, and brought to the new location in manageable sizes, with the triangles around 3-4 ft across. To get larger domes from this size traingle, you will need to go 4-up to 6-up, requiring more connectors than pictured here in the computer model.
Far as the Hydroponics Application goes, as you see inside the dome you can work several tiers, each with their own A-Frames on them Visit the Hydroponics threads inside the Diner for more information on how to set up this type of Food Production facility.
Based on the Square footage Peter has dedicated to his indoor setup and his production results, my estimate for a dome of this size is it could provide most of the Food for 2-3 people.
You don’t even necessarily need to head for the Doomstead just yet if you live in a McMansion with a decent size Backyard. You can erect the Geo in the yard and get started NOW! When TSHTF, you dissassemble everything, pack it up in a Trailer behind the Bugout Machine and Head for the Hills.
If you don’t have property on which to set up something like this, perhaps a friend does. I am intending on doing this cooperatively with a friend up here who does have property, which I won’t own for philosophical reasons. If you don’t have a friend and live in a small apartment, your possibilities are more limited for mass production, but you still can get started learning the basics of Hydroponic Food Production in your Living Room, with just a small starter set up. It won’t produce tons of food, but you’ll learn how to do it and then can scale up later when the time comes, or teach others to do it. Valuable skill to have when we reach TEOTWAWKI.
Off the keyboard of William Hunter Duncan
Originally published at Off The Grid In Minneapolis, Dec 21, 2012
Discuss this post in Epicurean Delights inside the Diner
I got fired from big bank Thursday, Dec 20, 2012.
Fired, for dancing, in my orange wig, on my break, an hour before the end of day at big bank, before a five-day holiday break.
It basically went down like this:
Sometime about Monday, an idea about dancing at my cramped cave-like work station, took hold in my imagination. Like all great ideas, it felt exactly right, until I had a day to think about it, flooded with all the reasons why not to, there being many. Wednesday night though, the vision took hold again, and I pulled out my dusty glitter dancing shoes, the wacky jacket and the wig, the Bose sound system, the iPod and the necessary cords. Thursday morning I packed them up, and off to the bus I went.
On the bus I wavered. Then, listening to my mp3s, I heard the two songs I would dance to and then I knew. Arriving at big bank per-usual twenty minutes early, I walked into the back break room and started preparing. I put on the shoes, the jacket and the wig; when I turned around, ready to dance to my station, there was Bob, the head manager in the department, looking at me, smiling. “Hi Bob!” I said, and he smiled again and walked out of the break room, uninterpretable, but not seeming to mind. I followed him down the aisle about six paces behind, between regular big bank employee cubicles, bouncing around like I do, to the very song that inspired the costume (which only I could hear), which had looped to that point serendipitously. Heads were turning, mouths agape or turned upward with a light in the eye, I sauntered to my station, danced awhile, while I punched in online, talking to a woman seated near me, people laughing and giggling. Then I took the gear off and went to work.
My original intention had been not to pull out the gear again, until the last five minutes of the day. But there was little work to do, people were clearing out early to go home, so I kicked up the timeline to the afternoon break.
In the meantime, I struggled against a cold sweat. Dancing in my chair to stay warm. Serendipitously too, I found this article on the website Zero Hedge, as to whether or not one can remain moral, and continue to work for a big bank. I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusion – I don’t know what a moral is, it sounds to me like a dead fish – but I do consider myself a man of integrity. Then, minutes before I started to prepare for dancing, a guy behind me was reading a loan and he said, “Look at this, this guy is a Pastor of an evangelical church and school, making $20,000 a month. His wife is a teacher at the school and makes $1000. Saving the poor and disfortunate, I guess.”
I put the jacket and the wig on (I wore the funky shoes all day), and at exactly two o’clock, I turned on the music.
The first song, Junek Bug Joe, only 2:18 long, djembe drum and mandolin based without vocals, by my friend Joe Credit, out of Missouri, or wherever he is now. (This link is to Joe’s song about coffee, the only one I could find. Blogspot doesn’t have an audio upload. You’ll get the idea.) LOL. Up tempo, up beat. Nearly every head I could see was facing me, perhaps 70 people, and most of them were smiling.
Before minute one passed, Jeffery, one of the work directors, who has a very genuine heart, leaned over the cubicle wall, and told me I needed to turn it off and take it to the break room. I asked him if I was going to get fired, and he said he didn’t know, and I told him I was going to take that chance. He tried to convince me otherwise, but there seemed in his surprise, a hint of admiration. Work Director Mark, told me to turn it down, which I did, but then I turned it up again, and then Manager Jim told me to turn it down, and I told him I couldn’t, lamely that it was my “dream” – trying to dance all this time. I turned it down, and then back up, and he stomped away angrily, “You’re not going to turn it down then, that’s just great!”
Mind you, it was never anything like so loud, that we couldn’t speak easily to each other from a distance. Some time last week, when I was sitting at a computer out in the middle of the department for a day, all three of these guys had stood around me in my chair, while we discussed, puzzled over and tried to solve a mystery about a loan I was working on. Four adult men putting their heads together to solve a problem – it was quite enjoyable actually, and the first time I felt like I connected with these guys in a very real way. Now, it was all command and control. I heard Jim saying to someone piercingly, “You aren’t taking pictures, are you?”
The first song ended, and there was a spontaneous uproar of cheering, clapping and laughter, MUCH louder than the Bose had ever been. I leaned back, cupped my hands around my mouth and projected out, smiling, “if the apocalypse is indeed upon us…I recommend…Dancing!” and there was another round of laughter.
The second song, G.B.A, by Xavier Rudd, out of Australia, began more ominously, though it basically being about making the world a better place for kids. He cusses twice, but we’re all adults here, yes? Manager Jim had fire just about blasting out from his ears, and work director Mark stalked around giving me a look, ready to pounce. As I danced, periodically berated to turn it down, turning it down, turning it back up, I could feel the vibe darkening, and watched as people disappeared back into their atomized space, fewer and fewer looking at me. Jim finally gave up and stomped back to his desk. I continued to dance, trying to maintain my own joyous vibe, letting go as I could (I could see at least one wild haired woman intent on what I was doing, the very same “true princess“) and when the song ended, there was a depressing, cold silence.
I sat down, took off the wig, jacket and shoes, packed up the gear, and punched out for the day. I saw both Jeffery and Mark standing around Jim’s desk, so I walked there to talk to them.
“What do you need?” said Mark, hostile, ready for a fight.
“I just wanted to let you guys know, It wasn’t my intention to try to show you guys up, at all. I didn’t mean any disrespect. I realize this could get me fired, but even then, no hard feelings. I punched out for the day.”
“You’re leaving for the day?” said Mark, his hostility quite suddenly vanished.
“I think that’s best. And if I don’t hear anything tonight or tomorrow, I’ll just show up next week.” Jeffrey seemed to think that was reasonable. Meanwhile, Jim was seated at his desk on the phone, scowling at me. He got off the phone, I reiterated what I had said, for his benefit, but he scowled some more and got back on the phone without saying a word.
I walked back to the break room, sat down somewhat stunned, and then prepared as if I might have to walk home, as the bus would not arrive for another 90 minutes. Mostly packed, I picked up my long underwear pants, and began walking to the bathroom.
As soon as I walked out of the break room, I saw both work directors walking down the main aisle toward me. Mark said, “hold on right there,” and I stopped, standing there with my long underwear in my hand. They rounded the corner, a woman with them, who I immediately saw by her badge, was none other than the vaunted Sheila, head dept-manager Bob’s boss, the same dragon lady who I have criticized in this blog, who I never have met, who I have been told, “never look her in the eye.”
Looking her in the eye, smiling, all three people before me prepared for a fight, she says to me, quite calmly but with the slightest edge, “Ok, what you did, you disturbed the other staff. Are you waiting for the bus?”
“I was; thinking about walking home maybe too.”
“Well we can escort you out, or I can call security.”
I laughed softly and shook my head and smiled. “That won’t be necessary; but, um, would it be ok if I slip into the bathroom for a second, and put on my long underwear?” which I was holding out in front of me in my hand, and I’m pretty sure all three of them, even dragon lady, giggled.
When I came back, dragon lady was gone, replaced by Lanni, my contact at the temp agency. She got there quick. “Hi Lanni!” I said. “So this is it, my last day at big bank?” Mark pointed at my badge, and I said, “I still need to be able to get out of the building,” and made a gesture smiling, as if to keep it, and it got awkward for a second, though not in any harsh way, Mark almost apologizing at that point. “I tried to do a good job while I was here,” I said, and Jeffery and Lanni esp. seemed to agree that I had. “I just have a very real antipathy toward big bank,” and then I wished them a happy holidays and Dec 21, Solstice, and they walked me to the door. On the way out through the revolving gate, Mark’s goodbye was loudest, out of all proportion.
Outside the gate in the stairwell, Lanni told me she had received a phone call and raced from downtown to protect her employee.
I hypothesized out loud, laughing, faux serious, “There is a lunatic dancing in an orange wig, and he’s yours. Come retrieve him.” She hadn’t heard the actual story, so I explained, briefly.
“Well that’s relieving,” she said. “Usually when people leave like this there is a lot of acrimony, shouting. You just made me laugh. After a pause, “Are you Ok?” She seemed genuinely concerned.
“I’m doing great,” and then I lied a little bit, saying that this work is “not what I am here to do.”
“When you think about it, all I was doing was dancing.” I explained the costume and how I danced outside the Halloween stores I managed. She asked about the songs. She said some people here at big bank are on edge, in lock-down mode, understandably, that she’s noticed that, everywhere she manages temp employees. She said if she hadn’t been able to come down to get me, they were going to call the police. I said thanks for showin up (though that would have been interesting. Hi Guys!), and then we said goodbye.
“Hey, it’s almost the Apocalypse, right?” I said, by way of alluding to the weirdness of it all.
She had a faraway look then, “Oh right, when is that?”
“Tomorrow.” As I started toward the door.
She turned away, but turned back. “You don’t really think the world is going to end, do you.”
“Nope,” I said, smiling, and walked out the door, seven miles home, on the heels of a Midwestern snow storm.
Looking back, my only regret is that I wasn’t singing softly on my way out of the department, the first verse from the Blind Melon song “No Rain”:
All I can say is that my life is pretty plain,
I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain.
And all I can do, is just pour some tea for two
And speak my point of view, cause it’s not sa-aane
It’s not sa-aa-aaa-aane…
That, and I guess, when Sheila walked up, I didn’t say, “Hi Sheila! We finally meet!”
There was video. My sweet friend Shelly, who I have also defended in this blog, like a true champ, pulled up a chair, right up front and got comfortable, with her phone. They chased her back to her seat, by the end of the first song, and I’m not really sure, but she may have been the one Jim interrogated about taking pictures. I called twice and she checked in by email, I asked if it would be ok with her if I posted the video here. She didn’t reply until 3:42 this morning, saying that she learned it was security policy at big bank, no pictures or video, so she deleted it. I’m kind of crushed about that. But it’s ok I guess, and there were a lot of smart phones in that space so perhaps there is a video floating around the internet somewhere. Perhaps I could petition the NSA for a copy. LOL.
Which is funny too, when I first conceived of this idea, about an announcement, it certainly wasn’t then about getting “term’d” by big bank. It was more personal, about how all I really want to do is dance around the world in an orange afro. There’s a lot more to it than that, but no room now to go into it, in this post. I will say, it feels confirmed for me now; not least as I sit here in the sun, drinking coffee, listening to the great advocate of Liberty, Wayne Lapierre of the NRA, like a a true capitalist/militant/fascist gun lobbyist, advocating for moral lock-down, a government database for the “mentally Ill,” and a full frontal, visibly military State even in the schools.
I didn’t anticipate the command and control response I got, in the specifics. I figured there was a strong chance they would fire me. I thought though, they’d just let me do my thing and then fire me. Oh well, I disarmed them, at every turn, except Jim, who is new to the job, neither of his superiors were there, and he’s got two kids, a house and a wife. The “other staff” who were the ones “disturbed,” were the regular big bank employees who could not have seen me dancing unless they came to investigate. That a djembe beat from a pot-loving starry eyed mandolin genius, a digerridoo based song about making the world a better place for kids, and a guy dancing in an orange afro wig, on a day when there had not been any work for most of us to do for several hours, would be mistaken for any of the various horsepersons of the apocalypse, shows IMHO how far gone these folks are. Though I’m sure any of them might see the error in their ways, if they would just lighten up.
To my knowledge, though, big bank has not in firing me, forgiven the mortgage payments I owe it.
So anyway, that’s what I did, at the end of the Mayan Long Count.
Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall
Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on December 25, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
“Everybody thinks of changing the world but nobody thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy.
|A batch of our natural soap, this one made with elderberries|
Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder
Published on Economic Collapse on December 23, 2012
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Agenda 21 Is Being Rammed Down The Throats Of Local Communities All Over America
Have you ever heard of Agenda 21? If not, don’t feel bad, because most Americans haven’t. It is essentially a blueprint for a “sustainable world” that was introduced at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Since then, it has been adopted by more than 200 counties and it has been modified and updated at other UN environmental summits. The philosophy behind Agenda 21 is that our environmental problems are the number one problem that we are facing, and that those problems are being caused by human activity. Therefore, according to Agenda 21 human activity needs to be tightly monitored, regulated and controlled for the greater good. Individual liberties and freedoms must be sacrificed for the good of the planet. If you are thinking that this sounds like it is exactly the opposite of what our founding fathers intended when they established this nation, you would be on the right track. Those that promote the philosophy underlying Agenda 21 believe that human activity must be “managed” and that letting people make their own decisions is “destructive” and “dangerous”. Sadly, the principles behind Agenda 21 are being rammed down the throats of local communities all over America, and most of the people living in those communities don’t even realize it.
So how is this being done? Well, after Agenda 21 was adopted, an international organization known as the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives” (ICLEI) was established to help implement the goals of Agenda 21 in local communities. One thing that they learned very quickly was that the “Agenda 21″ label was a red flag for a lot of people. It tended to create quite a bit of opposition on the local level.
As they try to implement their goals, they very rarely use the term “Agenda 21″ anymore. Instead, they use much more harmless sounding labels such as “smart growth”, “comprehensive land use planning” and especially “sustainable development”.
So just because something does not carry the Agenda 21 label does not mean that it is not promoting the goals of Agenda 21.
The goals of Agenda 21 are not only being implemented in the United States. This is a massive worldwide effort that is being coordinated by the United Nations. An article that was posted on RedState.com discussed some of the history of Agenda 21…
In simplified terms, Agenda 21 is a master blueprint, or guidelines, for constructing “sustainable” communities. Agenda 21 was put forth by the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development, and was adopted by over 200 countries (signed into “soft law” by George Bush Sr.) at the United Nations Rio Conference in 1992. In 1994 the President’s Council for Sustainable Development was created via Executive Order by Bill Clinton to begin coordinating efforts at the Federal level to make the US Agenda 21 compliant.
The same year that Bill Clinton established the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, the International Code Council was also created.
The International Code Council has developed a large number of “international codes” which are intended to replace existing building codes all over the United States. The following is a list of these codes from Wikipedia…
- International Building Code
- International Residential Code
- International Fire Code
- International Plumbing Code
- International Mechanical Code
- International Fuel Gas Code
- International Energy Conservation Code
- ICC Performance Code
- International Wildland Urban Interface Code
- International Existing Building Code
- International Property Maintenance Code
- International Private Sewage Disposal Code
- International Zoning Code
- International Green Construction Code
These codes are very long and exceedingly boring, and those that write them know that hardly anyone will ever read them.
And for the most part, they contain a lot of things that are contained in existing building codes or that are common sense.
But a lot of poison has also been inserted into these codes. If you read them carefully, the influence of Agenda 21 is painfully obvious.
Unfortunately, even most of the local politicians that are adopting these codes don’t take the time to read them. Most of them just assume that they are “updating” their existing building codes.
So what often happens is that there will be fights in local communities between citizens that are concerned about the encroachment of Agenda 21 and local politicians who regard such talk as nonsense. The following is an example of what is happening all over the nation…
Summit Hill Borough Council last night unanimously adopted the “2012 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code,” but not before some audience members expressed vehement opposition to it.
An overflow crowd of 34 people attended the meeting, with some there to specifically voice their displeasure.
Sandy Dellicker, a borough resident, said she was against using an “international” maintenance code, arguing that it falls under the plan of Agenda 21 of the United Nations; an agenda for the 21st Century.
She said, “UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is the action plan to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all information, all energy, and all human beings in the world.”
“This is not a conspiracy theory,” she told the council. “This is for real.”
She said the International Property Maintenance Code had been adopted in Montgomery County, but the county “has already gotten rid of it” because of its dictatorial direction.
“This is not what Summit Hill and the United States is about,” she said.
Council members pooh-poohed her assessment. “In my opinion, the International Property Maintenance Code is to protect citizens,” said Council President Michael Kokinda.
It would be great if these codes were just about public safety. But that is simply not the case. Sadly, these codes are often used to fine or even imprison homeowners that haven’t done anything wrong. Sometimes “code violations” are even used as justification to legally steal property from law-abiding homeowners. A post on the Freedom Reigns Radio blog detailed some of the things that are often done in the name of “code enforcement”…
1) The ‘Code Official’ – anybody the jurisdiction calls – a ‘Code Official’ – is the sole interpreter – no due process – Gestapo!
2) Every day an offense occurs is a separate mandatory misdemeanor – $555/day and/or a month in jail in Charleston, W.Va. They can fine you out of your home and jail you at their whim!
3) Anything the ‘Code Official’ says is not in good working condition – sticky window, dented or plugged gutter, torn window screen – whatever he says is not in good working order – hundreds of dollars of fines per day and/or jail time – usually a month – for every day the offense occurs.
4) Any unsanitary condition – whatever the ‘Code Official’ says is an ‘unsanitary condition’ – empty pop cans – puddles – dog droppings on your property – same deal – same fines and/or jail time – every day.
5) Any plant that the ‘Code Official’ says is a ‘noxious weed’ – same deal – same fines and/or jail time – every day. He can steal raw land.
6) He can fine you out of your home and jail you with no due process. Any court proceedings are window dressing as there is no remedy associated with this ‘code.’
7) It can be ‘adopted’ – just by an ‘administrative decree.’
WITHOUT COURT ACTION OR NOTICE THE CODE OFFICIAL CAN:
1) Enter your house whenever he – the sole interpreter – deems reasonable.
2) Prevent you from entering your house.
3) Tear your house down with your stuff in it.
4) Bill you for the demolition.
5) Place a lien on it for fines and/or demolition charges – steal it.
6) And ‘best’ of all, no insurance I know of will cover your losses.
You’re left w/a house and your ‘stuff’ in a landfill – and any remaining unpaid mortgage, any remaining fines, any remaining taxes, and any remaining demolition charges after they steal your property
These codes restrict what homeowners can do with their own properties in thousands of different ways. If you rebel against one of the codes, the penalties can be extremely harsh.
And there is often “selective enforcement” of these codes. That means that they will leave most people alone but they will come down really hard on people that they do not like. You could even end up with a SWAT team on your doorstep.
Just ask some of the people who have been through this kind of thing.
Even if you have your mortgage completely paid off, that doesn’t mean that you really “own” your property. If you don’t pay your taxes and obey the “codes”, you could lose your property very rapidly.
The philosophy behind all of this is the same philosophy behind Agenda 21. The elite believe that you cannot be trusted to do the “right thing” with your own property and that your activity must be “managed” for the greater good. They believe that by controlling you and restricting your liberties that they are “saving the planet”.
Unfortunately, you can probably expect this to get a whole lot worse in the years ahead. Our society is shifting from one that cherishes individual liberties and freedoms to one that is fully embracing collectivism. So our politicians will likely be making even more of our decisions for us as the years move forward.
Do any of you out there have any “code violation horror stories” to share? If so, please share them with us by posting a comment below…
Off the Keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
T’was the night before Christmas, when across all the seas
Not a Doomer was stirring, not even RE.
The False Flags were in the MSM all over the place,
While Politicians mumbled their words of disgrace.
The Diners were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Mad Max danced in their heads
WHD in his Red Afro Wig, and I in my hat
Had just settled in to watch Civilization go splat.
When out on the internet there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to the Laptop to see what was the matter.
Over to Google I flew like some birds,
To type in Apocalypse and other Keywords.
The news on the net was like new fallen snow,
Flakes of disaster everywhere I would go.
Off with my wandering keyboard fingers I went to visit
Zero Hedge, Survival.com and 8 blowhard Collapse Pundits
The news was so bad I surfed ever faster,
searching wide to find the cause of disaster.
More rapid than Assault Rifle gunfire the news came on in,
Of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and all Human Sins.
Now Kunstler! Now Orlov! Now, McPherson and even Jim Quinn!
On Ruppert! On Gail! On, on Denninger and Steve from Virgin!
To TEOTWAWKI as we head for a mighty big fall!
Now Dash away, Dash Away! Dash away from it all!
As Mall Signs and Rooftops before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
Every keyboard was flying, calls of the end came everywhere
The Doomosphere was just chock full of despair.
And then in a twinkling, I read on the net
Illuminati across the Globe were begining to Sweat.
Bond spreads were wide, Futures were down,
Derivatives and CDOs were beginning to drown.
Gold bugs were Frantic, piles of Maple Leafs high to the sky,
While at Safeway and Walmart not a Twinkie to buy!
Preppers were loading their Glocks full of Lead,
Hoping to be the last of the Doomers left dead.
Permaculture raised beds and hydroponics were secured,
as Industrialization’s Ills could not be cured.
Heirloom Seeds in Nitrogen vaccuum packs were stored,
Ground floor windows were covered with 2×4 boards.
In Central Park all the OWSers set tents on the Grass,
the showdown with the NYPD would now come to pass.
The truckers rolled in and the Hell’s Angels too,
then the Longshoremen came in from out of the blue.
In CONgress the budget went over the Cliff,
while Obama said, “Hey, what’s the diff?
My Man Benny has the Inkjets all ready!”
No worries folks, the economy will stay steady.
In Brussels at the IMF the Eurocrats fumbled,
playing violins as the Euro crumbled.
In Japan the Sushi was glowing,
While Abe made sure those Yen kept on flowing.
In MENA the Drone Aircraft were flying,
with Women and Children doing most of the dying.
In the Straights of Hormuz Mines were placed to counter the Drones,
So all the tankers and carriers would be sent to Davey Jones.
In China the economy was rocking,
Ghost Cities and Bridges to Nowhere filled up their stockings.
Foxconn workers off factory rooftops went jumping,
While the Iphones out of the factory kept pumping.
The situation was dire, the whole world was on fire.
Everyone everywhere all caught in the mire.
The whole human race so utterly lost,
Happy Motoring and Industrialization exacting a terrible cost.
RE sprang to his keyboard to give the Diners some HOPE,
even though the world seems at the end of its rope.
They heard him exclaim, ‘ere the Internet went out of sight,
“Happy christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”
Merry Christmas Diners!
Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams
Published on Epihany Now on December 20, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Before the 9/11 truth movement existed I knew what we were being told was bull shit. I knew that because I was on the vessel that dropped the first bombs on Afghanistan as a result of 9/11. I knew in my bones that the American population, and the world, was being lied to, but I didn’t know the specifics. I wanted out of the navy before 9/11 happened. I had realized that enlisting in the military was a grave mistake for me because I valued self exploration, autonomy, and intellect; none of which the navy provided, gave a shit about, or allowed to occur. I choked down the contracts I had signed until 9/11happened. It was one thing to be slaving away as a nuclear automaton relatively benignly as far as the world was concerned, but it was quite another to be assisting in the killing of invisible innocents. I wanted to know the truth badly.
Off the keyboard of Monsta666
Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner
Energy despite its utmost importance is a topic that doesn’t receive much attention and is a subject that is poorly understood particularly in the mainstream media or even economics. It is curious to think that this is the case especially if we consider that without energy nothing would literally happen. Taken in this context it is easy to see why energy could be regarded as the most critical resource for without it there would be no life on planet Earth.
It seems that one of the major reasons we forget about the importance of energy and take it for granted is the fact energy is ubiquitous in modern day society. If one cares to look outside their window it is likely they will see numerous cars whizzing around at high speeds (they are high if we compared their speeds to humans and animals which was the historic norm before the industrial age). If one thinks about this last point it can be quite an enlightening process; how much energy does it take to cart an object that weighs in excess of 1000kg at around 30MPH? Then think all this energy can be found in a single gallon of gasoline/diesel. And as startling as this thought maybe we can say we consume even more energy in total in our homes and workplaces and that is despite the fact there are over one billion cars – which nearly all run on oil – running across our planet. Quite a thought isn’t it? 
So in short we can say we are addicted to using energy. However this should not come as any surprise because man has always needed SOME energy to ensure his survival. The amount needed for basic survival is relatively modest however since the only real energy source man needed at first was direct consumption through food to stay alive. However through time man found other external inputs of energy that made life easier for him. The heat from fire allowed man to keep warm not to mention allowed him to cook and provide a source of light in the dark. Domesticated animals also reduced the burden of labour in the fields and allowed great productivity not just in hunting but also in managing the fields when man shifted to agriculture.
These external inputs of energy not only allowed man to extend his natural range of environments he could live on but it also spurred growth in population and prosperity as external energy meant more of the burden of labour could be shifted away from man. As time went on the number the external sources of energy increased and so did the amount of energy used by man. It was not until man began harnessing fossil fuels in earnest however that his energy use suddenly exploded. The graph below can clearly attest to this fact.
While this final fact is widely known it is still quite difficult to fully grasp and appreciate how much of a boon these fossil fuels were to mankind. To illustrate just how much energy we can obtain from these fossil fuels I feel it is best to apply a little maths. To make comparisons between different energy sources it is necessary to know what a BTU is. For people unfamiliar with the term a BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and one BTU represents the energy required to heat one pound (454g) of water by one degree Fahrenheit which comes to approximately 1055 joules.  Now if we consider the most expensive fossil fuel, which is oil, then we will find that burning one barrel of oil (42 US gallons or 159 litres) releases 5.8 million BTUs or 6.1 gigajoules of energy.  These large numbers may seem rather abstract and arcane but if we covert this total energy content into man hours then the facts can be more easily absorbed. The energy delivered from 6.1 gigajoules would equate to a man spending 1.45 million kilocalories. If we assume a man consumes somewhere between 100-200 kilocalories an hour then that would mean a barrel of oil produces the equivalent amount of energy as 7,290-14,597 hours of labour depending on how hard the man works. Assuming there are 48 forty hour weeks a year that equates to 3.8-7.6 years of human labour. Armed with this information it makes you wonder how we can ever consider a barrel of oil is overpriced at $90 dollars a barrel when one barrel delivers the equivalent of 3.8-7.6 years labour!
To put this into an even greater context if we decided to pay the man a decent wage of $10 an hour then we would need to pay him anywhere between $73,000-$146,000 to deliver the same amount of work as a barrel of oil. With this perspective it becomes clear what a boon fossil fuels have been proven to be as effectively we have been using these fuels as “energy slaves” due to the fact they produce so much energy at such a low cost. With energy being so cheap it becomes obvious just how profitable the exercise of replacing man and animal labour with capital powered by cheap fossil fuels has been as the price differential between the two markets is simply enormous. And let us not forget in all this that oil is the most expensive fossil fuel in today’s market and its price is abnormally high when compared to historical prices so it was even more economical in the past than it is today.
Saying all that we do need to recognise the flaws in making such comparisons or more generally, using BTUs in general. That is not all work achieved with a certain resource can be easily substituted with another resource for example no amount of men dragging a car would make it travel at 30MPH as could be achieved if the car was powered by oil. Therefore the figures above can only deal with the total energy expenditure and allow comparisons on that end but they say nothing about the quality of the work achieved nor can they describe how easily the work can be substituted with another resource. This is an important concept to grasp as quite often it is stated that we can substitute oil consumption with renewable, nuclear or even coal and gas energy which while such statements are true to a certain extent, not all uses can be substituted for. Coal, renewables and nuclear energy cannot be easily made into a liquid fuel as these energy inputs are primarily used for electrical generation or home heating. It is this lack of fungiblity which results in people often making the distinction between a liquid fuel crisis and an energy crisis as these are two distinct phenomenon as each crisis poses a different set of problems and will therefore require a different set of solutions (assuming solutions even exist) to solve or manage if there are no viable solutions.
Despite these limitations or perhaps because of them we can reach certain conclusions. The increase in the availability and affordability of energy has done more than reduce the cost and amount of work that can be achieved. It has also played a big part in increasing productivity. This increase in productivity comes because, as described in the previous paragraph, there are certain forms of work that can only be utilised with fossil fuels and these activities cannot be done regardless of the amount of men employed in particular tasks. Jobs that are energy intensive such mining, steel production or heavy vehicle transport all require intense and constant inputs of energy. Since they require intense AND constant energy inputs these tasks cannot easily be substituted into labour nor is renewable energy a suitable candidate for substitution due to its intermittent nature. However it cannot be denied all these economic activities contribute to increased productivity as less labour will be needed to be deployed to accomplish these tasks (assuming these tasks could be completed at all without fossil fuels).
Many mining operations such as the tar sands mining operation in Canada would be much harder if not outright impossible without cheap abundant energy inputs provided by fossil fuels.
A more troubling fact does emerge from this however and that is it becomes apparent that our modern industrial society is heavily dependent on not just abundant energy but cheap energy to remain viable. Even today with oil priced at $90 a barrel which is still an excellent deal when taken in the context described above this price is sufficiently high that many developed economies struggle to grow quickly due to the “high” energy costs as we are repeatedly reminded by the media. In fact these high energy costs have resulted in much demand destruction in the major OECD countries for oil that are most sensitive to price changes as demonstrated in graph below.
This demand destruction primarily manifests itself through higher unemployment and reduced oil consumption from remaining employed workers due to a decline in real wages. This high price of oil has not curbed demand in all countries as the developing economies, which are less sensitive to price increases, continue to demand more of the product. This demand increase of the non-OECD countries is roughly equal to the decreased demand in the OCED countries so overall global oil demand has remained constant at around 30 billion barrels per annum.
The more significant trend has not been with changing patterns in oil consumption but with the changing energy mix in which the global economy utilises. Since oil is priced at $90 it is the most expensive fossil fuel in the market. In the US the next most expensive fossil fuel is coal which is priced at $68.15 per short ton. Seeing as one short ton on average releases 19.6 million BTUs of energy which is roughly three times that of a barrel of oil we see that coal is just over 4 times cheaper than oil on BTU basis. In light of this fact it would be natural to think and expect coal consumption to rise rapidly during this period however coal consumption has actually declined in recent years (for the US at least) because the cheapest fuel in recent years has been natural gas which reached levels as low as $1.90 per million BTUs earlier this year. Seeing as coal has been priced generally been priced at around $3 per million BTUs for the last three years it is easy to see how natural gas consumption has surged.
It should be noted however that at this present moment natural gas is currently priced at $3.48 per million BTUs (accurate at time of writing) and seems to be rising in the past few months. If natural gas price rise much further then coal will become the cheapest fossil fuel in the US and demand for this fuel should increase provided the trend of rising natural gas prices continues. If we talk about fuels on a global basis the story is quite different as globally coal is by far the cheapest commodity and it is these cheap prices that have caused global coal demand to surge in recent years. The high price of oil and the fact that main users of coal (Eastern Asia) have seen rapid economic growth in recent years have been other contributing factors in the increase in the amount of coal demanded.
If this trend of growing coal consumption continues it will not be long before coal becomes the top source of energy in the world and this is a fact that is likely to catch many people by surprise. Saying that, one should throw some caution to this current trend of surging coal demand as it is quite likely that growth in the global economy will slow down and may even decline. If that is the case then the rate of increase in demand will decline or demand may even decline entirely should the world enter a global recession.
Another important consideration and one that is almost universally overlooked in the mainstream is the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI). In the second part of this topic I will discuss this concept in more detail and also explore the laws of thermodynamics that is largely neglected in the media and economics in general. Do not worry; it will not be a boring physics session with lots of large scary numbers. In any case I wish all diners a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
 = World Vehicle Population Tops 1 Billion Units (WARDSAUTO)
 = British thermal unit (Btu) (Business Dictionary)
 = Barrel of oil equivalent (Wikipedia)
 = Coal News and Markets (EIA)
 = What is the average heat (Btu) content of U.S. coal? (EIA)
 = Coal News and Markets Archive (EIA)
 = Commodity Prices (CNN Money)
Off the keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Geological & Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner
In about an hour from now Alaska Standard Time, the 24 Hour Clock starts on the BIG DAY Kollapsniks havebeen waiting for, 12/21/2012. The next 24 hours will see if we make it through without a big game changing Black Swan, and I suspect we will.
I started using the 2012 prophesies back in 2008 on Peak Oil, and basically at the time my main goal was to make it through to this date still walking the Earth, as my own health issues made it dicey as to whether I would last so long. I did, and now everything that comes afterward is BONUS TIME for RE!
I’ve never really been convinced of this prophesy, but the graphics for it that came out of Roland “Master of Disaster” Emmerich’s 2012 film have long been a staple metaphor for me to use on the graphical end here. It doesn’t look likely though right now that Los Angeles will go sliding into the Pacific Ocean or Yellowstone will go Ballistic today.
Of course, I can still use these graphics, and I still will, because even if the date wasn’t precisely nailed down here correctly, a major quake WILL hit LA here eventually, and Yellowstone WILL eventually blow its Supervolcanic top. Inevitabilities, just the real timeline isn’t known on them.
Also still avoided as of yet is a Super Carrington Event of a major Solar Flare hitting the Magnetosphere, an Asteroid Collision with a Planet Killer size Rock or the Man Made TEOTWAWKI Event, a Nuclear Winter resultant from Global Thermonuclear War. “Shall we play a GAME?”"
What we do have instead here is a succession of smaller collapses on varying levels of our social structure, from the “Fiscal Cliff” in CONgress to the Postal of Adam Lanza. The ever upward creep of FSofA citizens being issued SNAP Cards for their Daily Bread. The ever widening War in MENA and the ever creeping collapse of Nation-States into Failed States.
As of right now, the Pundits who prophesy a Long Emergency and gradual decay of our Civilization have been correct. so for the moment Mr. Wizard Arch Druid John Michael Greer and Effete Nascar Napalm Artist Jimmy Kunstler can pat themselves on the back for painting an accurate scenario. No amazing Tipping Point has yet hit, and despite all the weak links in the chain that David Korowicz identified which could lead to a Fast Collapse, so far none of those links has so irretreivably failed that we are plunged instantly into anarchy or “Mad Max”.
I still tend to gravitate toward the idea that at some point one of the main Conduits will fail, and there will be an identifiable rapid collapse of systems resultant from that. If it doesn’t hit today on 12/21/2012, perhaps it was just that one of the Mayan Astronomers was a tad dyslexic, and the REAL Date here to look for is 12/21/2021? LOL.
In the meantime, I am suggesting a new National Holiday, 12/21 to be Celebrated Each Year we haven’t had a complete collapse of systems as Mayan TEOTWAWKI Day! Everybody who still has a Job gets the day off from work, and everybody who does NOT have a Job gets to go to Work for a Day!
Although the world at large does not appear at this moment to be on the verge of complete Collapse, for many INDIVIDUALS, 12/21/2012 will be Collapse Day. It’s the day they get their Pink Slip from the Job, or the day they get the Visit from the Sherriff Evicting them from their McMansion or the day their Significant Other or one of their Children commits Suicide. We won’t hear about most of these stories of course, they aren’t Tabloid Enough to make the Grand MSM like Adam Lanza, but there are of course many more of them. In aggregate, they devastate the lives of many more than Adam Lanza did, but nobody really notices it. Well, at least the general public doesn’t notice, but I think the Diners do.
That is why we are here on the Diner of course, to chronicle what really IS occurring now, not the Hopium Spin of “Recovery” pitched out by the MSM and our Faux Leaders. Facing REALITY is Step 1 in dealing with the collapse as it unfolds, and preparing yourself for the eventualities bound to come, even if they do not arrive on your Doorstep TODAY, on 12/21/2012. For Come THEY WILL, there is no stopping this one now, the End of Industrial Civilization is Written on the Subway Walls, and Tenement Halls. It is OVAH.
I was there at that Concert in Central Park in 1981. I won’t ever forget it. Please, “Hear My Words that I might REACH YOU”
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN
You can do no more now.
Off the keyboard of Stucky
Published on The Burning Platform on December 19, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
I won’t be posting a Quinn-like masterpiece with lots of graphs and statistics. First, I don’t have that ability. Second, I am not a statistic. I am a person … so this will be a personal story with anecdotes about my achy-breaky Boomer life. Mostly, I just want to address the following question;
“ARE BOOMERS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING WRONG IN AMERICA TODAY?”
First, let me whine a little. A number of folks here (you know who you are, lol) answer that question with an emphatic “YES!!”. I find it incredulous that otherwise very smart folks can say such things. I don’t know if it’s said just for effect to “piss off” Boomers such as myself, or if you can really attribute this country’s Great Malaise to such a simple theory. It is also rather dismaying that whenever ANYTHING positive is said about the Boomer generation, then that person is accused of being in “denial” or an “apologist”. It’s almost as if the quest for knowledge ceases when it comes to Boomers … a really surprising turn of events considering the large number of INTJs here.
Others will say we Boomers shouldn’t take it “personally” — which, really, is like calling a black person “nigger”, and then exclaiming, “Oh! Please don’t take that personally”. Tough to do! Accuse me of whatever you wish. I simply cannot wrap my tiny mind around the Broad Brush Approach — lumping an entire generation of 76 million people as the cause of Everything Evil is not wise, helpful, applicable, or even possible, imho. You might as well say, “Humans caused all our evils” … which would also be equally correct, and equally useless since the classification is too enormous. But if one is looking for an Easy Unified Theory of Everything Wrong With America … “Boomers Did It” … well, have at it.
I cannot identify with the rich Boomers, because I am not rich. I cannot identify with the rich Greatest Generation , because I am not rich. I cannot identify with the rich of any generation, because I am not rich. Without advocating a class-warfare approach, I must maintain that a far greater divide in America is along Class — not, age. The mega-rich, the mega-powerful, the ultra-elite — yeah, the 1% — as George Carlin says, THEY are your owners! Redirect your anger accordingly.
I am NOT against the younger generation. I love ‘em. I feel I have more in common with my emotionally troubled son than with most Boomers in my life. Unlike what happens to many old farts, he at least he still questions everything, still wonders what this crazy life is all about, still wonders how he “fits in”. Just like I did when I was his age, and actually, still do to some extent. \\end:whining//
STUCKY CONSIDERS HIS PAST WHILE AT A CHRISTMAS CONCERT
A couple Sundays ago I went to my Dad’s Christmas concert. He sings for The Plainfield Gesang & Turn Verein, a German-American heritage club that was founded in 1886. There were about 200 people in attendance. I would say that 90% of demographics were Boomers such as myself and our parents, The Greatest Generation.
I not only listened to the music, but as I watched my dad singing so proudly, and as I glanced at my mom who always gets weepy at this event, my mind also grew nostalgic, as it is prone to do at such holiday occasions.
It is only in the past few years that I have seen my parents as “whole” persons. What I mean by that is that their whole existence on this planet, as far as I was concerned for most of my life, only started around when I was 5 years old … my earliest memories of them. That means about 30 years of their lives — while they did start to tell me bits and pieces once I turned 17 and thereafter — well, for all intents and purposes it simply didn’t exist. What a damn shame, to my own detriment, that I didn’t even care about the great fountain of experience and knowledge I so easily dismissed. The major event that shaped my parent’s lives was WWII. With apologies to all those here who know this story, I shall very briefly summarize it for those who don’t, for context.
My dad was a German living in Romania. One day, when dad was a teenager, the German Army came sweeping into his village, yanked him from his home, told him he was in the German Army, sent him to the Russian front, where he was captured, spent time in a Russian prison camp, and upon release was not allowed to return to Romania and never saw his family again, but was instead sent to England to work in the coal mines for several years – a form of ‘reparation’, before he made his way to a refugee camp in Austria.
My mother was a German living in Yugoslavia. One day, when she was a teenager, the Russian Army came sweeping into her village. They shot a lot of older German men – the young ones were all off to war — on the spot. Virtually all the women in the village were promptly sent to a Russian gulag, where she was raped, saw her mom raped and then murdered in front of her eyes. After the war ended only she and her brother remained alive, they were not allowed to return to their village, and they walked to a refugee camp in Austria.
I don’t relay these events for pity. Screw that. They are just one of millions of German families who suffered in WWII … just as millions of Americans have suffered in WWII, with only the details changing. I just have a story to tell, and my parent’s story is a huge part of my story. Of course I can’t speak for 76 million of us except in a general sense. For example, I graduated from a high school of about 2,000 and I feel comfortable in saying we all share the Same Boomer Story, generally speaking.
THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING BOOMERISM
The point is these are the people who raised my fat Boomer ass … which they did not do in a vacuum, independent of things that shaped their lives. The picture in your mind’s eye of a “Boomer” is quite incomplete if you forget, or misunderstand, our Greatest Generation parents.
So, I’m watching my mother as she watches the concert, I put my hand around her shoulder as I see her eyes well up with tears. What is she thinking? What pains are still so real to her today .. that I can’t help her with? I start thinking about my own 59 years of living … how crystal clear certain events of my own teenage years still are … as if they happened yesterday. And then a feel a certain shame that it took me so long to see my parents as whole persons. I suddenly feel despondent that I so despised several aspects of my upbringing that I couldn’t wait to join the military, even in the midst of the Vietnam war, just to get the fuck out from under my parent’s thumb. Before taking a look at how the Greatest Generation raised us, let’s quickly take a look at another key to understanding Boomers; the world in which we lived
HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY ??
The Gay 20’s really weren’t all that gay, just as the world Boomers inherited wasn’t only the fun, Hippie, pot-smokin’, LSD trippin’, rock’n-roll groovin’, free love image that is remembered today. Two big events and a ton of smaller ones helped turn our once pure souls to the Dark Side.
First Big Event: Da Bomb. Russia. Nukes. Commie bastards. Ka-BAM! All gone. Nuclear winter. Dead. Why??? Nuke drills!! Little Boomer children hiding under desks for protection. Little Boomer children watching gub’mint movies showing homes blasted to smithereens. Little desk hiding Boomers not stupid, “We gonna die under this desk!!” Was I forever traumatized – some prepubescent PTSD – by these drills? No. Did it affect my perception of what the world was about and that just maybe it made no sense at all and that the grownups were idiots and that since tomorrow may never come so I might as well live just for today … even though I was just a kid at the time? You better believe it.
Second Big Event. Vietnam. Dirty, nasty, disgusting, vile war that killed 60,000 of us and maimed hundreds of thousands more. What was it good for? Absolutely nothing. Did it affect my perception of what the world was about and that just maybe it made no sense at all and that the grownups were idiots and that since tomorrow may never come so I might as well live just for today? You better believe it.
Not to mention in no particular order; civil rights ….. riots …. . corrupt government openly lying ….. a disgraced president ….. dead soldiers faces broadcast on TV every night ….. Kent State ….. double-digit unemployment ……. Midnight Cowboy ….. 25% interest rate for a home loan ….. gas lines ….. shitty cars that exploded ….. S&L crisis ….. Bay of Pigs ….. nukes in Cuba!! …. Abortion …. JFK ….. and, MLK …. Jimmie Hendrix and Janis Joplin …. Gloria Steinem and woman’s rights ….. no more prayer in school ….. the Ayatollah ….. Supreme Court turns activist all over the place …… Korea ….. school integration ……………….
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Did we shape the times, or did the times shape us? I think it’s the latter. Simple math.
The first Boomers were born in 1946. How old are the people-in-charge, the leaders, the CEOs, the 535 politicians that rule our lives … i.e., the people who actually make things happen? Let’s be conservative and say that it’s 30 years old. So, the first Boomers with power to affect the status quo arrive on the scene only in 1975. I would say Boomers took the helms of power around daddy Bush’s presidency in 1989 – when the first Boomers were 43 years old.
The “ME Generation” —- A MISNOMER
We are … and you may add the adjective “most” to many of these descriptions; selfish, self-indulgent, unwilling to sacrifice, politically correct, drug addicted, material minded, entitled, liberal or commie shits, bad parents, lazy, humans to ever walk the earth. And to top it all off we invented Afro’s and disco (actually, two legitimate reasons to hate us). Amazingly, we accomplished all this because of the year in which we were born. And because of our sin of ‘The Year Of Our Birth’, you can go to literally hundreds of blogs other than here and find the admonishment that Boomers should “just die already”. The implication being, that once this happens, pretty much everything will return to bliss, prosperity, and overall happiness. I read that we Boomers only cared about only three things; 1) Me, 2) Me, and 3) Me. Just like the “love of money” is the root of evil, our preoccupation with “Me” is the root cause underlying our evilness.
BUT — the ME-Generation was raised by the Greatest Generation.
How would YOU like to be born following that moniker? Imagine you have just one older sibling, and your parents referred to him/her as “The Greatest Kid”. It just might fuck you up! Lol Boomer babies didn’t drop out the shoot and at the moment of birth become The Most Selfish Bastards ever. We did not raise ourselves. Somewhere along the line, some person(s) and some event(s) helped us along into becoming selfish pricks. Cause leads to effect, nature abhors a vacuum.
What do you THINK you know about The Greatest Generation?
Unless you’re a Boomer, what you think you know about the Greatest Generation is likely inaccurate. The people you know as grandparents are NOT the same people who raised us. Some kind of Weird Assed Transformation took place from the time we were born to the people you know. Maybe it has to do with the aging process – whereby one becomes more introspective, soft hearted, and most importantly – accepting of Things As They Are … not, What They Should Be, a mantra us Boomer kids heard a million times if we heard it once. Maybe it was the realization that their own Materialism was a big mistake … and trust me on this, in many ways they were much more materialistic than their boomer children. Maybe they didn’t ‘change’, maybe they just ‘adapted’ – but, the Metamorphosis into A New Life Form –one that is NOW loved and revered – is and was spectacular.
Let’s take a look at what Boomer kids heard growing up
“ I’m not buying you a new pair of Converse sneakers. You think money grows on trees?”
“You’re not going out dressed like that, are you? What will the neighbors think?”
“I slave all day to put food on the table, so you damn well better eat all of it!”
“You don’t know what hardship is all about. WE had it rough.”
“Kids in China are starving. Learn some gratitude, dammit.”
“You see all the stuff we have?. We did all this for you.”
“Turn off the damn lights. You think electricity is free?”
“You don’t know the meaning of sacrifice.”
“Cut your hair! At least look respectable.”
“You don’t know how lucky you are.”
“At least you could show some respect.”
“You don’t know the value of things.”
“Why don’t you appreciate anything?”
“Quit acting like a bum!” KaPow!! (We boomer kids got wacked …. A LOT)
If you don’t see a significant amount of materialism in those statements then, I’m sorry, you’re just not being perceptive enough. Materialism is largely a state of mind. Bertrand Russel said, ——- “It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
HANGING ONTO WHAT YOU GOT LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT
It’s not about how much stuff you own. It’s about the stuff you own that eventually owns you. A middle aged man attempts to reclaim his youth and buys a vintage Harley, just like the one in Easy Rider. He owns the bike. Before you know it he’s spending all weekend polishing every nut and bolt. Then he decides it needs some restoration, and he spends a few grand doing that. Then he spends more and more time away from his family and with his fellow enthusiasts, riding around town, showing off like a peacock. Then one day his teenage son accidently puts a small scratch on the fender. He hurls a string of expletives at his son for committing this unforgiveable sin. The bike now owns HIM.
Although I lacked nothing growing up, my pre-boomer angst was fueled by the ever present possibility that all the blessings bestowed on me could be lost at any time. From scarcity we came, and to scarcity we could return. This pretty much fulfills Bertrand Russels’s materialism “preoccupation” criteria. Our stuff, meager as it might be, owned us. The resultant activity of the scarcity meme, in terms of materialism, is that my Greatest Generation dad worked his ass off to make sure scarcity would never rear its ugly head. This is admirable and not to be condemned. Don’t you, and I, do the very same thing for our children?
But, it did have unintended consequences. Growing up I couldn’t help but feeling that material gain was more important than anything else. Our parents did work their fingers to the bone. But by the time they dragged their tired asses through the door, they were too tired to hug us. They were too tired to have any really meaningful conversations, especially about sex. “Children should be seen, and not heard.” , I swear was God’s eternal truth scripted somewhere in the Gospels. So, we spent a great deal of our time out of our parents’ sight. That was great for both of us … far less arguments.
We even had our own special place to play in the house. The basement. We sure as hell never romped around the main level, especially the living room; “Don’t sit there! That’s GOOD furniture!!”. Our little boomer minds duly noted; ‘furniture more important than us’. Watch reruns of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and Marie’s living room to see the hilarious abortions our parents resorted in order to “save” the good furniture; they covered everything in plastic! Lol All of us immediately identified with the advice Dustin Hoffman received in The Graduate; “Plastics, my boy. Plastics.” Eventually we got the last laugh when all that plastic shit turned a putrid shade of yellow, and the cushions smelled like skunk ass when the plastic was removed. Meanwhile, we were banished to the basement where we could destroy nothing of real value.
FROM DEPRIVATION TO EXCESS TO REBELLION
One of the most common reactions to deprivation is excess. For example, people who have faced starvation will often, once circumstances have changed, become gluttons. This was our parents’ response.
Then, as time passes, a typical reaction to excess is rebellion. This was our response. For example, on a grand scale a Colonist eventually rebels against the excesses of his British masters, and dumps tea in the bay. On an individual scale, children (of any era) eventually rebel against their parents’ excessive rules by doing the exact opposite. The goal of the Rebel, whether a nation or a child, is always to starve the master of their power.
This dynamic plays out predictably well in the Greatest Generation / Boomer relationship. The Greatest Generation faced deprivations in spades; from the Great Depression to Dust Bowls to World War II. The end of the Big War ushers in the greatest economic boom in American history, or something like that. Remembering their deprivations the Greatest Generation becomes as materialistic as any in recent memory. Some of you folks err when you compare that materialism back then with what we have today. You look at countless graphs, data, GDPs, debt, one financial ratio after another … compare the two eras … and somehow conclude that the Greatest Generation were ‘savers’. The “numbers” don’t look so bad back then only because the whole shebang was just getting started. Some shit just takes time to get stinky.
What was this great economic post-war boom about? Was it not the beginning of Consumerism? What do you think this is all about; … getting that little starter house, then upgrading to the bigger house with the nice white picket fence, movin’ on up to a good neighborhood, getting that fifty cent promotion, replacing a literal ice-BOX with a real refrigerator, getting a nice big Dee-troit car or two, the explosion of corporate TV shows like the Colgate Comedy Hour … if not consumer fueled materialism? Excess folks, excess.
“Oh Yeah? Well …. fuck you!!”
The Boomer children, mostly neglected as daddy –and soon, mommy – pursued the Good Life (FOR us, naturally) reacted in a way that shouldn’t be a surprise …. we rebelled against our oppressor for their real or imagined sins. Only we did with much greater aplomb than ever before ; we didn’t fuck around, we were all in.
They had short-haired geeky musicians, we had long-haired hip rockers. They had booze, we had drugs. They had rules – lots of them —, we had none. Free Love, baby! If it feels good, do it. Love the one you’re with. They worked hard, we went to Woodstock. They had a lifeless church, we had the Jesus Movement. They followed the call of Madison Avenue, our hearts hung out at Haight and Ashbury. They liked Ike, we preferred Dylan. They wore penny loafers, we had sandals and a bandana (and other ridicules articles of clothing). And so it went at every turn; right or wrong, a repudiation of ALL that came before. So people look back on this crazy-assed behavior and label us the “ME” generation. I’ll grant you that there is some truth to that. But, it falls far short of what was really going on. It wasn’t “me, me, me” as much as it was; “fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you”.
BTW, isn’t that EXACTLY what the younger generations are saying about us Boomers; “Fuck You!”? History rhyming yet again. Solomon correctly wrote; “Vanity of vanities, there is nothing new under the sun.” I don’t know what dumbass mistakes this younger generation will make — I sometimes feel they think they’ll make none, the first Perfect Generation — but trust me on this one thing oh Young Ones, you too will blow it … and your offspring will mock you as well.
BOOMERS NEVER EARNED ANYTHING — EVERYTHING WAS HANDED TO THEM
Nothing quite baffles me like this accusation. I shake my head wondering exactly what was given to me. I started out getting a fifty-cent allowance, back when fifty cents could still get me into the movies (double feature plus cartoons, a soda, and a popcorn and get a nickel back). It wasn’t “free” either … it came attached to doing chores. Mow the lawn, take out the garbage, do the dishes when asked, and keep my room clean. This our parents called “learning responsibility”. All for 2 bits … good thing we weren’t Unionized.
But for real money to get real stuff — like those Converse sneakers — we had to work. So, I got my first job at around 13 selling subscriptions of the town newspaper door to door on Saturdays. I got a dollar per new subscription. Some Saturdays I’d rack up 20 plus bucks and back then that was living large. My first real job was in high school. I worked in a lasagna factory, stirring lasagna in a huge vat of boiling water … for $1.35 an hour. And I never stopped working since. We worked hard all our lives. My friends all did likewise. So. Pardon me if I am offended at being called “selfish, greedy, and entitled” as I refuse to accept that label.
Speaking of “entitled”, perhaps this is what people mean; all those juicy gub’mint entitlement programs, especially SS and Medicare. First of all, social security was NOT created by the Boomer generation. So, solly. Try the generation before us. Medicare was NOT created by Boomers either. Sure it was enacted in 1965. The oldest of the Boomer generation would have been born in 1943 … making that Boomer just 22 years old in 1965. The voting age was still 21. Please don’t tell me Medicare was voted into being because of then 22 year old Boomers!
I know people just hate it when us old farts “expect” to collect on SS. Can you walk in my shoes for a moment? Let’s say you paid $50,000 into some account set up by the gub’ment. It is money you earned by the sweat of your brow. You didn’t ask the gob’ment to do this for you. They took it by force and promised to give it back to you later. Much later. That “much later” is now here, and some people want to tell us, “Hey, you can’t have the money. The gub’ment spent it and you can’t have it.” We used to have a word for this: Theft. Look, I can understand that I may not be able to collect SS forever until I die. But, can I at least get MY $50,000 dollars back?? You don’t even have to pay any interest, if that makes it better.
I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINS OF MY BRETHREN
I won’t cover any of the other Entitlements / Social Programs. All I can tell you I voted Republican most of my life, and I cannot ever recall voting based on getting free shit. Foreign policy, wars, and character where my usual hot buttons. I don’t know how other Boomers voted. I don’t care.
I don’t care because I don’t believe in the idea of Collective Guilt. Google that term and the first page will show articles on “German collective guilt over Nazis”, so this is a topic I personally know something about. It is a heinous principle first found in the Old Testament that — “The sin of the fathers He punishes on the children to the third and fourth generation.” A monstrous mockery of justice!! Collective guilt refuses to acknowledge the INDIVIDUAL. Evil regimes and their dictators (Stalin, Mao, Marx, etc.) love collective guilt as they collectivize individuals as “the populace” or “the masses” or “the workers” and then enslave or execute them as it suits their purposes. That’s why I have often said here that the demonization of Boomers may one day logically lead to Death Chambers for us old farts.
You, dear reader, don’t believe in collective guilt either. Do you find yourself guilty of the crime of slavery? No. Do you find yourself guilty for the genocide of Native Americans ? No. Do you find yourself guilty for Mai Lai? No. Do you find me guilty for Buchenwald? No. So why do you throw all Boomers in the Collective guilty pot? It is said ‘people get the government they deserve’. If that’s true then I should find YOU guilty for the current mess we’re in. But, don’t worry, I won’t because that entire argument is specious. Here’s one way we should follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Generation; they didn’t blame their own parents for their youthful excesses of the ’20′s which then led to the financial ruin of the Great Depression . They just pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made the best of a bad situation. So should we.
“YOU MADE PROMISES TO US ………. AND YOU LIED!!”
Another common theme amongst disgruntled Utes are the broken promises we Boomers made. When I went to the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in NYC I saw more than a few Utes displaying posters about Education … “$60,000 in Student Loans and No Job”, and several variations thereof, including demands to forgive the debt. For change of pace I will number my responses.
1)— Guess what kids? Your generation isn’t the only one that was lied too. We were lied too, also. So, welcome to the real world.
2)— Guess who told us that education was the path to a better life? That’s right, our Greatest Generation parents. We just passed what we learned in OUR youth, onto you. By and large that’s how parenting works. Again, welcome to the real world.
3)— Our parents valued education because they were mostly blue-collar workers toiling away in factories (remember those?). They saw first-hand that the “higher-ups”, the folks in the office, the guys in white-collars made significantly more loot than they did. So, putting two and two together they came up with the brilliant conclusion that education pays. And that’s why I got my ass kicked whenever I brought home a bad Report Card. The first question at the dinner table was, “Did you wash your hands?”. The second and usually last question was “Did you do your homework?” Study, study, study was drilled into our mush brains until the cows came home. It is really no more complicated than that.
4)— What’s wrong with furthering your education anyway? Did we commit some Mortal Sin in telling you to study? Don’t you know that we “pushed” this Horrible Thought on you for a reason? Don’t you know that with knowledge you’ll learn how to think and analyze. Don’t you know the value of using logic and rational thought, and how that will benefit you throughout your life? Don’t you know we wanted to give you a foundation that would allow you to filter through all the bullshit the world tries to feed you? Apparently, not.
5)— Regarding not paying back your loan. Where did you learn that from? Certainly not from us Boomers when you were young! Again, we taught you what was taught to us. And here’s one thing I can guaran-damn-tee you our parents showed us; paying one’s bills was a Badge of Honor. It wasn’t God, country, and apple pie. It was Pay Your Bills, God, country, and apple pie. My parents would sacrifice a meal in order to pay a bill. We taught you to do the same when you were little.
Here’s what Boomers and the Greatest Generation did wrong.
6) We monetized “value” when talking about “the value of an education”. Did the Greek philosophers value education to make more money? No. Did the great men of the Renaissance era value education to make more money? No. Did our Founding Fathers value education to make more money? No. The “value” of an education is more than exploiting it for financial gain (see #4 above). But, clearly, modern America is all about the Almighty Dollar. So, I went to college pretty much in order to make better money. And I told my kids to go to college to make better money. Guilty as charged. Money, it’s a gas. I suppose what pisses off Utes is that Boomers were actually able to get jobs when they graduated, while they can’t. Which leads me to my final point.
7) Tough shit!! And please don’t tell me us Boomers “guaranteed” you a good job upon getting an education. First of all if you actually believed such a statement you need to recalibrate your Bullshit Detector. They never has been and never will be any guarantees in life, except death, taxes, and obese fat women pictures from our own beloved AWD. Secondly, it’s a lie from hell. Our Greatest Generation parents were keenly aware of the possibility of losing it all … again.
They even coined a unique phrase to drill home the concept of no guarantees; –“you never know”. For example, “Put down that stick! You could poke your sister’s eye out, YOU NEVER KNOW!” (In my childhood there were apparently about 845 ways to poke out my sister’s eye.) Or, “Put on clean underwear before we drive to church. We might have an accident, YOU NEVER KNOW!”. Or, “No, we’re not joining the community swimming pool. We need to save every penny, YOU NEVER KNOW when we’ll need it.”.
Lastly, Utes also blame Boomers that they can’t get married, they have to live with their parents, will never be able to start a family, buy a house, etc. etc. It all boils down to “life isn’t fair”. Well! 1) we Boomers used that phrase on our own parents a million times. Please come up with something new. 2) In what fairy-tale are you living where ‘fairness’ is the rule of the land? 3) Stop emulating Gordon Gecko. Try, Tim the Toolman. 4) My parents taught me this and I pass it along to you. Perhaps the Ten Best Words Of Advice you will ever hear; “Life isn’t fair. Get over it. DO something about it.”
In closing, let me say that I’m not trying to change the real Boomer Haters. It was downright depressing doing some research for this article. I don’t know exactly how widespread this hatred is, but what is out there is savage, vicious, and said with such ferocity that I wonder when, not if, the loathing for my generation turns into violence against us. Every revolution has at least one scapegoat. The “Boomers Suck” meme is paving the way towards acceptance of our destruction, should it go that far. How does one change such a person’s opinion?? But, there are folks out there who have yet to decide if they shout hate/blame Boomers for everything. I hope this article reaches those.
I also hope this does not come across as either making excuses or rationalization. It’s just my story, and I assume it’s similar to millions of others in my age group unfortunate enough to be labeled a Boomer. All I tried to do is tell it as it is … yes, as I see it with my Boomer-tainted goggles … and in the telling I know I barely scratched the surface.
One thing I know is they we are ALL in this together. When I see a homeless man in NYC, he may be a Boomer … or, very well be a more recent generation. I often drop a few dollar bills, but I don’t first verify his age, because I don’t see a GenX or Boomer … I see only a homeless person, a human being who is worthy of compassion because I realize “there but for the grace of God go I”.
I think it’s a fact that most of us Boomers have seen our savings, our assets, our net worth dwindle before our eyes and most of us are not well off. I think it’s a fact that most Boomers still work, and probably will need to work —- either until we die or the ravages of age incapacitate us. And if we are incapacitated … and if the timing is such that all the Free Shit is no longer available … then don’t worry about killing us, as I believe many will commit suicide.
Lastly, I am fully aware I have my own biases, and as we discussed in another thread from last week, “total honesty” in the trillion plus connections organized by our highly fallible brains may not even be possible . Not only might I “not know” the truth, it is conceivable “I don’t even know that I don’t know”. In other words, yeah, I could be full of shit. (If so, I’m sure you will inform me thereof. Lol ) But, I doubt it.
Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Published on Economic Undertow on December 15, 2012
Unknown Photographer, Jacob Farrand house on Woodward Avenue between Sloat and Trinity streets in Detroit (1881). Burton Historical Collection @ University of Michigan Library.
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
People say California is a good model for the rest of the country, it is “The Place Where The Future Happens First!”
Detroit is a much better model than California: it is the place where the future happened a long time ago. Persons seeking that ‘Mad Max’ dystopia — where law and order is very much a sometimes thing, where the house next door is a burnout and the neighbors down the street are dope-addled zombies — need look no further than the ex-Motor City.
How it got this bad in Detroit has become a point of national discussion. Violent crime settled into the city’s bones decades ago, but recently, as the numbers of police officers have plummeted and police response times have remained distressingly high, citizens have taken to dealing with things themselves. In this city of about 700,000 people, the number of cops has steadily fallen, from about 5,000 a decade ago to fewer than 3,000 today. Detroit homicides — the second-highest per capita in the country last year, according to the FBI — rose by 10 percent in 2011 to 344 people.
…Average police response time for priority calls in the city, according to the latest data available, is 24 minutes. In comparable cities across the country, it is well under 10 minutes.The number of justifiable homicides, in which residents use deadly force in self-defense, jumped from 19 in 2010 to 34 last year — a 79 percent rise — according to newly released city data.
The city with the highest murder rate in the US is New Orleans, another post-future model. More information about world homicide rates can be found in the UN Global Study on Homicide in 2011. Places with highest homicide rates are third-world hell-holes such as Venezuela, Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador, districts of northern Mexico adjacent to the US border and south-central Africa. These futures are a step or two down the ladder from Detroit into the energy abyss.
A consistent theme in this letter has been the connections between items that may seem to be far removed from each other but are actually linked at the very core. If you push on one end you get a reaction in what would seem to be the most unlikely spots. Today we explore the connection between the fiscal deficit and energy policy. Everyone in Washington is starting to “get religion” about wanting to fix the deficit, with serious thinkers on all sides acknowledging that there must be reform and a path to a balanced budget. Burgeoning healthcare and Social Security costs are rightly pointed to as the problem, and entitlement reform will soon be front and center. But the fiscal (government) deficit in the US cannot go away unless we also deal with the trade deficit. As we will see, it is a simple accounting issue, and one based on 400 years of accepted accounting principles. And dealing with the trade deficit in the US means working with our energy policy.The trade imbalances among the partners in the eurozone are at the heart of the problems there as well. And while we will get back to Europe in a few weeks (remember when we seemed to be focused on Europe and Greece for months on end?), today we will explore the trade problem from a US perspective. Happily, this problem, while serious, does have a workable solution. And it might even happen in spite of government policy, though if a proactive energy policy were developed, it could ignite a true economic renaissance.
Mauldin carries on telling readers how friendly tycoons are going to save us all with huge reservoirs of crude oil:
I have been wanting to explore the implications of the shale oil revolution. Old oil fields are wearing out, as peak oil advocates point out. Where can we find the huge and cheap-to-exploit oil fields to replace them? Hasn’t all the easy oil already been found?
Because language is infinitely malleable, words can mean or imply anything the utterer wishes them to mean. Hasn’t all the easy oil already been found? What is ‘easy oil’? What does ‘easy’ mean: “Easy for me, hard for you?” Mauldin does not use the word affordable, nor does he mention costs. Over the course of five-thousand two hundred words the consumption side of the energy equation is never discussed … this is surprising/misleading because our crisis is the direct product of consumption. Decades of industrialized, highly-efficient guzzling of the cheapest, easiest fuels have bankrupted us! Because of our incredible ‘success’ we must now deploy unorthodox extraction techniques that might indeed be ‘easy’ but are unaffordably costly. Can anyone see anything wrong with that?
If cheap and easy have bankrupted us … what will expensive and difficult do?
Mauldin invests many words on the US trade imbalance, noting:
Not Everyone Can Run a Surplus … we are spending more for energy even as we use less of it, and that drives up our trade deficit. Let’s see why this matters. As long-time readers know, I have often written about how you cannot balance private and government deficits without a positive trade balance. Let me quickly review.It is the desire of every country to somehow grow its way out of the current mess. And indeed that is the time-honored way for a country to heal itself.
No country has ever ‘grown’ itself out of debt or a debt crisis. Debts have been repudiated or restructured. Countries have abused foreign exchange, waged war and conquered or have been destroyed. Governments have bankrupted creditors or sent them to the gibbet. They have stalled for time until able to take on orders-of-magnitude greater debts from new- or the same creditors … thereby refinancing existing obligations.
In a global economy all the creditors have been tapped. There is no new source of credit except Bankers from Mars.
The increase of debt masquerades as growth. The US appears to grow which allows more debt to be taken on to create the appearance of still more growth which in turn enables additional debt. Right now the Establishment lies about growth in order to take on more debt. This scam of ‘growth-to debt-to growth-to debt’ is all there is to industrial prosperity … along with fuel-wasting garbage that breaks down and is thrown out in a few years. Unlike real output of goods and services which is constrained by thermodynamics, debt has no limits as long as the increases can be supported with good ‘progress’ stories.
Frakking and ‘shale oil’ are part of the narrative that serves to generate loans for energy tycoons. ‘Energy Independence’ is the empty abstraction that is offered as the narrative’s objective. Business customers and ordinary citizens are required to repay the debts … and their children and grandchildren.
But let’s look at an equation that shows why that might not be possible this time. We have here another case of people wanting to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
Good grief … the narrative is complete with Mauldin ‘folksy-isms’.
Let’s divide a country’s economy into three sectors: private, government, and exports. If you play with the variables a little bit, you find that you get the following equation. Keep in mind that this is an accounting identity, not a theory. If it is wrong, then five centuries of double-entry bookkeeping must also be wrong. Domestic Private Sector Financial Balance + Governmental Fiscal Balance – the Current Account Balance (or Trade Deficit/Surplus) = 0.
This is correct but not particularly relevant. America’s current account is not a problem. America creates its own dollars as needed, the oil sheiks recycle their imported US dollars back into the US economy. The imbalance that really matters is at home, at the end of Americans’ driveways:
These machines are not farm tractors or delivery vehicles, they are not used for work, they are luxuries, a drug, a form of crack cocaine. What they earn is zero, their cost must be met with debt, the cost of the fuel they consume is also met with debt, so is the cost of the infrastructure that these machines require. If the individual users are unable to obtain the needed credit then the economy as a whole- and the state must obtain it in the individual’s place. Otherwise, the consumption components of the string economy are deprived of funds. This credit starving process is underway, even as the cost of debt has become unmanageable. While frakking costs are extraordinary, the consumption side debts are galactic! Realistically, nobody/nothing can hope to repay them.
The consumption side is a money-loser. Sez Mauldin: “Play with the variables a little bit, you find that you get the following equation. Keep in mind that this is an accounting identity, not a theory. If it is wrong, then five centuries of double-entry bookkeeping must also be wrong:”
The Cost of Fuel + The Cost of Credit Needed to Pay for Both Fuel and Fuel Use/Waste Infrastructure – Returns on the Use of the Fuel = 0
Right now, returns are juiced with credit otherwise the process would have failed a long time ago. The means to set a price is also the means to meet that price. If a price is bid by access to credit, the consumers must have access to the same credit to meet that price. In model cities such as Detroit where the consumption side started losing purchasing power in 1929 the consequences of rationed credit are obvious: welcome to the death spiral, where costs race ability to meet them into the basement!
The banality of future world: the Woodward Avenue location in 2009. The towers at the rear of the photo are abandoned as are other structures in the area.
The best way to look at the peak oil dilemma is to ignore physical production — which has little to do with anything — and to consider the City of Detroit as the model customer for all of John Mauldin’s newly frakked crude oil. The shattered city filled desperately impoverished people is somehow supposed to afford more costly fuel when it can barely afford what it has now.
Energy products can be obtained but only if someone’s grandmother is gunned down inside her house by a gang of dope-crazed teenaged hoodlums. The reason for the hoodlums has been the success of industries in pauperizing the city. Either consumers must become richer or costs of fuel-plus-credit must decline. Since the trend — as seen in the model city — is for consumers to become impoverished the outcome is for costs to be unmet and the production/credit side to be de-funded …
When customers cannot afford fuel it remains in the ground. Right now, Detroit — that model for America’s future in today’s present — cannot afford cops. It cannot afford firefighters, it cannot afford basic services. It has been bankrupted by the short-term success of its own consumption tycoons … hard to see how it can pay for high cost petroleum!
“We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,” Detroit resident Julia Brown told The Daily. The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity.“I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. “I’m planning on taking one out.”
The Detroit model of house-bursting brigands is scalable: for the country to afford energy products Congress must rob grandmothers in their own houses by absconding with their retirements.
Fuel Costs + Credit Costs – Returns on Fuel Use = 0.
The implications of this little formula are profound. As with current accounts, the sum of costs and real ability to pay are always zero. As returns on fuel use are negligible, fuel and credit costs must decline … and they are. Underway right now is the desperate, last stand pillaging of what remains of the world’s wealth to obtain fuel and credit, every bit wealth is up for grabs. The real cost of fuel and credit must fall to what the fuel and credit users can afford. Looking at Detroit, the affordable amount is very small indeed.
The question is whether there will be any fuel available and the affordable price? Time will tell.
Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder
Published on Economic Collapse on December 16, 2012
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Society Is Crumbling Right In Front Of Our Eyes And Banning Guns Won’t Help
What in the world is happening to America? I have written many articles about how society is crumbling right in front of our eyes, but now it is getting to the point where people are going to be afraid to go to school or go shopping at the mall. Just consider what has happened over the past week. Adam Lanza savagely murdered 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 42-year-old Marcus Gurrola threatened to shoot innocent shoppers and fired off more than 50 rounds in the parking lot of Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach, California. After police apprehended him, he told them that he “was unhappy with life”. Earlier in the week, a crazy man wearing a hockey mask and armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on the second floor of a mall in Happy Valley, Oregon. He killed two people and injured a third. On Saturday morning, a lone gunman walked into a hospital in Alabama and opened fire. He killed one police officer and two hospital employees before being gunned down by another police officer. So have we now reached the point where every school, every mall and every hospital is going to need armed security? How will society function efficiently if everyone is constantly worried about mass murderers?
In response to the horrible tragedy in Connecticut, many in the mainstream media are suggesting that much stricter gun laws are the obvious solution.
After all, if we get rid of all the guns these crazy people won’t be able to commit these kinds of crimes, right?
Unfortunately, that is not how it works. The criminals don’t obey gun control laws. Banning guns will just take them out of the hands of law-abiding American citizens that just want to protect their own families.
Adam Lanza didn’t let the strict gun control laws up in Connecticut stop him from what he wanted to do. Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and Adam Lanza broke at least three of them.
However, if there had been some armed security officers or some armed teachers at that school, they may have had a chance to protect those dear little children from being brutally gunned down.
If gun control was really the solution to our problems, then cities that have implemented strict gun control laws should be some of the safest in the entire country.
But sadly, just the opposite is true.
For example, Chicago has very strict gun laws. But 10 people were shot in the city of Chicago on Friday alone. Chicago is now considered to be “the deadliest global city“, and the murder rate in Chicago is about 25 percent higher than it was last year.
So has gun control turned Chicago into a utopia?
Of course not.
And it won’t solve our problems on a national level either.
You can find more statistics about the futility of gun control right here.
Well, how would things be if we did just the opposite and everyone had a gun?
Would gun crime go through the roof?
That is what liberals were warning of when the city of Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law requiring every home to have a gun. But instead of disaster, the results turned out to be very impressive…
In March 1982, 25 years ago, the small town of Kennesaw – responding to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill. – unanimously passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite dire predictions of “Wild West” showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender.
The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.
Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.
When criminals know that everyone has guns, they are much less likely to try something. And often armed citizens are able to prevent potential mass murderers from doing more damage. You can find several examples of this right here.
But of course most of our politicians are not interested in common sense. Instead, they are obsessed with the idea that gun control will make our country “safe” again.
Senator Diane Feinstein says that she is ready to introduce a strict gun control bill in January that will “ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession” of many types of firearms.
Will such a law keep the criminals from getting guns?
No way. Just look at what is happening with the cartels down in Mexico. The criminals are always able to get guns.
If our “leaders” were really interested in stopping these mass murders, they would take a look at the role that mind-altering pharmaceutical drugs play in these incidents. If you look at the mass murders that have occurred over the past several decades, in the vast majority of them the murderer had been using mind-altering pharmaceutical drugs…
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has raised concerns about severe acts of violence as side effects of anti-psychotic and antidepressant drugs not only on individuals but on society as well.
Just a month ago PRWeb described drug induced violence as “medicine’s best kept secret.”
And the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHRI) is calling for a federal investigation on its web page which links no less than 14 mass killings to the use of psychiatric drugs such as Prozac and Paxil.
And guess what?
According to the Washington Post, one neighbor says that Adam Lanza was “on medication”.
But will our politicians ever consider a law against such drugs?
Of course not. The big corporations that produce those drugs give mountains of money to the campaign funds of our politicians.
So the focus of the debate will remain on guns.
And a lot of liberals would have us believe that our society could be transformed into some type of “utopia” if we could just get rid of all the guns.
Unfortunately, that is simply not true. Our society is in an advanced state of moral decay, and this moral decay is manifesting in our society in thousands of different ways. The corruption runs from the highest levels of society all the way down to the lowest.
For those that believe that gun control would somehow “fix America”, I have some questions for you…
Down in Texas, one set of parents kept their 10-year-old son locked in a bedroom and only fed him bread and water for months. Eventually he died of starvation and they dumped his body in a creek.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
A pastor in north Texas was recently assaulted by an enraged man who beat him to death with an electric guitar.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
Police up in New Jersey say that a man kept his girlfriend padlocked in a bedroom for most of the last 10 years.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
A 31-year-old man up in Canada was found guilty of raping an 8-year-old girl, breaking 16 of her bones and smashing her in the face with a hammer.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
According to the FBI, a New York City police officer is being accused of “planning the kidnap, rape, torture and cannibilization of a number of women”.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
A Secret Service officer that had been assigned to protect Joe Biden’s residence has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
Over in Texas, a very sick 29-year-old man stabbed his girlfriend to death and then burned his one-year-old baby alive because she had gone to court and filed for child support.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
Over in Utah, a 21-year-old man is accused of stabbing his grandmother 111 times and then removing her organs with a knife.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
There are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States every single year.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
An average of five children die as a result of child abuse in the United States every single day.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
The United States has the highest child abuse death rate on the entire globe.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
It is estimated that 500,000 Americans that will be born this year will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
In the United States today, it is estimated that one out of every four girls is sexually abused before they become adults.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
If there was a way to take all of the guns away from all of the criminals, I would be all in favor of it. Unfortunately, no government on the planet has been able to do that.
Instead, we have seen that criminals thrive whenever gun bans are instituted and the guns are taken away from law-abiding citizens.
But the bottom line is that our social decay will not be solved either by more guns or less guns.
Our social decay is the result of decades of bad decisions. We have pushed morality out of our schools, out of government and out of almost every aspect of public life. Now we are experiencing the bitter fruit of those decisions.
And this is not a problem that our government is going to be able to fix. Violent crime increased by 18 percent in 2011, and this is just the beginning.
As our economy gets even worse, the rot and decay that have been eating away the foundations of America are going to become even more evident. The number of Americans living in poverty grows with each passing day, and millions upon millions of people are becoming very desperate.
Desperate people do desperate things, and crime, rioting and looting are going to become commonplace in the United States in the years ahead.
So you can pretend that the government is going to be able to keep our society from crumbling all you want, but that is not going to help you when a gang of desperate criminals has invaded your home and is attacking your family.
We definitely should mourn for the victims in Connecticut. It was a horrible national tragedy.
But this is just the beginning. The fabric of our society is coming apart at the seams. The feeling of safety and security that we all used to take for granted has been shattered, and the streets of America are going to steadily become much more dangerous.
I hope that you are ready.
Off the keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Fifth Horseman Table inside the Diner
I’ll begin this article with a few of the posts I’ve made so far on the Fifth Horseman thread, concerned with the most recent Postal Event of Adam Lanza.
The Amerikan Love Affair with Guns goes back beyond the Constitution and the 2nd Ammendment which Guarantees the Right to Bear Arms, which many Gun Freaks hold up as the primary Legal Justification for Gun availability to the general public.
In fact, in the colonial years, it is unlikely the FSofA could have been settled at all without Guns available to all settlers. While a few dummy Injuns made friends with the Colonists at the beginning, they pretty quickly realized these folks were none to friendly and they were AT WAR with them for the land they lived on.
Though the Smallpox wiped out many, it is still unlikely that without the advantage that Guns gave them, few settlers would have been able to defend their Doomsteads from the Locals they were dispossessing. Besides that, they needed the Guns for Hunting in the early years before major Ranching got up and running. Hunting for Animal Protein was common right through the Civil War really anywhere west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Besides this, as I have noted in some of my monetary threads, the 1800s were quite Wild and Crazy times with many Money Panics, and even once the Injuns were mostly Genocided out, Outlaws were common and “Justice” such as it was was pretty rudimentary. Generally speaking, any community and individual was mainly responsible for protecting themselves. So really in this environment, everybody needed Guns and everybody had guns, outside of a few early Big Shities like NY and Philly and Boston. These places got “Police Forces” fairly early on in the 1800s and Property Protection began to become mainly a Goobermint function.
However, as the Gang Wars during Prohibition in the 20s&30s demonstrate, Guns were still ubiquitous in Big Shities like Chicago right through the 1930s. Really only in the aftermath of WWII did Da Federal Goobermint of the FSofA begin to become powerful enough to begin limiting somewhat individual access to Guns, but eventhere they faced the Gun Lobby of the Sellers of Guns who did not want to lose such a big market for their weapons. Besides, even though nobody really needed to Hunt for food anymore, Hunting was truned into a “Sport” for the Nouveau Riche, as it has been for a long time for the Illuminati. We are all KINGS in this land as the meme goes, and the King’s Fox Hunt was for everyone!
There have been all sorts of compromises and kludges here, you can OWN a Gun, but you can’t CARRY the gun without special permits. Though the technology allows for rapid automatic fire, common weapons only are capable of semi-automatic fire. This BTW is easily overcome by a decent Gunsmith, even at the amateur level.
As our society spins down here, pretty obviously the Pyschos our society creates along with the just plain old PISSED OFF J6Ps are likely to use the MILLIONS of guns floating around the FSofA in various Nefarious ways, of which the CT Shooting is just an example really.
Thisone is sufficiently egregious and arrives at a time the Fascist State really NEEDS to control Guns in the society if they want to retain control overall, but this is an exceedingly hard thing to do at this point. Trying to COLLECT all the guns already out there would cause more than a few Gun Freaks to Go Postal in and of itself. The Gun Lobby STILL doesn’t want to lose the market of all those folks looking to have a Gun for Self Protection and Sport Hunting and Target Shooting, a fabulous WASTE of copious amounts of Ammo. You can get decent good target shooting with an Air Rifle really. Principles are all the same, just you don’t have the range.
Anyhow, no matter how many kids end up as Target Practice for Sociopaths with Asperger, it is very hard for me to imagine how Da Goobermint could get Alaskans to hand over their Rifles and Handguns. Hunting is a way of life up here, many Guides make a living off this. Take away their means of making a living, I GUARANTEE few of them will go Postal, and this is not a bunch you want to see Going Postal, because they HIT what they Shoot at.
I see more restrictions coming down the pipe, more difficulty buying guns and higher prices for ammo, but a Gun Ban is about impossible politically here for many reasons. I for one don’t think such a ban is a good idea anyhow, despite all the Dead Kindergartners. Take away the guns we still have, and ALL Deadly Force is in the hands of Da Goobermint and Criminals, mutually interchangeable entities really.
Far as my Guns are concerned, as the saying goes they will have to pry them from my Cold, Dead Hands. My guns most surely will not stop the Gestapo from taking me out, but long as I got them I got the chance to take a few with me to the Great Beyond. Its about the last vestige of Freedom left. There are sacrifices that are apparent and coming ever more rapidly now for this freedom, but the alternative is WORSE. The alternative is a Boot Stomping on the Face of Humanity FOREVER!
In the aftermath of the Adam Kindergarten Shooting Spree, it is pretty evident that the Pols are making a big PUSH now for an Assault Weapons Ban.
Precisely what will end up being defined as an “Assault Weapon” is pretty hard to determine here, since if you call Semi-Automatics Assault Weapons, that includes nearly all handguns sold. Most people don’t buy Revolvers for personal protection anymore, and Cops don’t carry revolvers anymore either.
Trying to imagine how Da Goobermint could get even just all the legal holders of Semi-Automatic guns to turn them in is impossible. Even if you just kept it to the rifles its pretty hard to imagine. Some Hunters still use Bolt Action rifles, but I don’t think the majority do anymore. In any event, I know plenty of guys with Gun collections in the hundreds, worth of course 10s if not 100s of thousands of dollars. If they turn them in, will Da Goobermint reimburse them?
I imagine a majority of Gun owners would turn them in if faced down with Jail Sentences and so forth for Possession of such a weapon, but I don’t imagine ALL will do that. Some percentage will elect to go down with their guns battling with the Gestapo when they come to take them away. If there is anything that could get a full on Civil War going here in the FSofA, an attempt to confiscate Guns would almost surely do it.
TPTB have to realize this, so they will probably try to make some kind of new laws without going down the road of confiscation. I can imagine Gun Owners being required to drop in at the local Gestapo Headquarters on a weekly basis for a Psychological Test to be deemed Stable Enough to own a Gun. After a few weeks of doing this, the Gun Owner would either get tired of it and hand over the guns, or stop showing up for the testing, in which case of course you get the Gunfight at the OK Corral around his McMansion when the Gestapo show up.
meanwhile of course, in the Drug Gangland community, Guns will continue to flow back and forth across the border with Mejico, and I sure can’t imagine most Texans on the Border will be amenable to handing over their Guns. So this would likely push the Secession Movement in TX which is pretty strong already over the edge.
The Gun Battle Begins.
speculated in a prior post on this topic that Adam Lanza might have been Greenbaumed, and I don’t discount that as a possibility/probability here. However, the revelation that Mom was a DOOMER SURVIVALIST makes some other possibilities more likely now.
Adam Lanza was only 20 when he went Postal. Assume Mom became a Full On Doomer 10 years ago, and began Prepping and talking about Zombie Hordes to her kids. So starting around age 10 Adam is being bombarded by Mom with the End of the World coming in his lifetime. How does this play in the mind of a growing Preteen/Teenager?
Even if he was a fairly “stable” and “normal” kid on the Biochemical level, this would be very depressing to grow up with. Reports are though that Adam had Aspergers Syndrome and wasn’t all that “normal” even had Mom not been a Doomer.
GO made the speculation that perhaps Mom was a Lurking Diner, I suppose it’s possible but not likely. Anyhow, so far the Black Cadillac Escalades have not shown up at the Cabin. Not even an Email from the NSA! We are way down the Alexa list, so we don’t get any attention. lol.
This isn’t the first Doomer to go postal, we had that guy a while back who blew away his wife and daughter before offing himself in his Bunker. And of course legions of other Doomers have gone Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs in other ways, notably Matt Savinar going full tilt Astrology of course.
Obviously, living life as a Doomer is pretty stressful overall, and a percentage of Doomers crack under the pressure. The growing child of a Doomer, particularly one with some genetic/environmental development issues is clearly at high risk for cracking.
If/when a few more Doomers get Trigger Happy, you would have to expect a general backlash against Doomers, something to consider here. In communities chock FULL of Doomers like places in MT and ID, the Doomers start to have to worry about EACH OTHER. Is my Doomstead Neighbor a “Normal” Doomer or is he on the verge of becoming a RAMPAGING Doomer?
All in all, it’s looking more like a “Children of Men” endgame here all the time. Things haven’t even really got that bad yet, the SNAP Cards are still working and the lights are still on in most places most of the time. When TS REALLY HTF, its gonna get mighty ugly out there.
Many issues are rising to the surface with the Adam Lanza Postal, Gun Control being the most clear one on the Political Level. Beyond that though is the clear RAGE bubbling just beneath the surface of our society, acted out in general here at the beginning by people identified as “Psychologically Disturbed” or unstable. Then there is the additional issue that such psychologically disturbed people are being PURPOSEFULLY used to provide grounds for restricting further any Freedoms we still have left here, which are few and far between these days.
The “Gun Battle” on the Political level now will be to escalate the effort to criminalize the possession of guns by the general population. Given that ever more people are likely to “Go Postal” here as time goes by, if you could in fact remove Guns from the society then your average Postal probably could not do so much damage as say an Anders Behring Breivik or Adam Lanza.
Thing is, one group of people and their apparatchiks will NEVER let go of their Guns, that is the Military and Police forces which serve to Enforce the Order of TPTB. Disarm the entire population, the ARMED group has Absolute POWER, and as we all know, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
In any event, disarming the entire population of the FSofA at this point is a logistical nightmare, well more difficult than the confiscation of Gold was in the 1930s. Guns have been manufactured by the millions, they are all over the place here in the FSofA.Gangs have tons of them, and do you think they will show up at the local Gestapo Headquarters to turn in THEIR guns? I highly doubt that.
As I see it, the Gun Battle at the Political level is a reponse to the Gun Battle going on in the streets, Post Offices and now Elementary Schools of our society. Lotta ANGRY, disaffected and now PSYCHOTIC people are out there, making Gun Play more prevalent all the time. How can the average J6P defend himself and his kids from the EVIL out there that HAS Guns, the Military, the Police and the Drug Lords if he gives up his own Guns?
It is of course sad indeed that our “civilization” has spun down to this point already, but you know the invention of the Gun to begin with let the Genie out of the Bottle here. As a Civilization, we used Guns to rid the planet of numerous people who had no Guns to defend themselves. We STILL use superiority in weaponry to enforce our Will over everyone else, that is what the Drone Aircraft do now.
There is no “Safety” in a collapsing civilization, and even though your Neighbor might be the one to Go Postal next, giving up your right to keep and bear arms is about the LAST thing you want to do here. Rather, EVERYBODY needs to be Packing Heat now. Teachers for sure. Even the kids.
Discuss this article in the Epicurean Delights section of the forum
Friday morning I forgot my earbuds at home, and despaired for a moment, that I would have to spend the day foreclosing on houses, without music. The guy next to me borrowed me his. I wandered around youtube awhile, and found Fatoumata Diawara. After a bleak week, I was enchanted, in love and dancing, like I haven’t danced in awhile.
Then came a break, and I opened a new intranet window to this story
Sandy Hook. That was about as bleak as I felt all week.
After work I biked to my sister’s, and hung out with my 9-year-old niece before she went to her dad’s, and chased my 2-year-old (tomorrow!) nephew around the kitchen, and let him chase me, and I let him throw me around for 45 minutes, and put him to bed, holding him a long time and singing, while his dad took a long nap.
If aliens were to stumble upon America, knowing nothing of it, but able to understand the language, in the aftermath of the Massacre at Sandy Hook, what would they make of MSM (Mainstream Media) coverage of the Massacre, with the intermittent breaks for car commercials, et al? Had those Aliens been playing with me and my nephew, they would have witnessed too, a bald shark declare that the meaning of life is MONEY, while visibly, physically repulsed by the living.
There is a thing in mathematics called a fractal, loosely described as the scale of the universe reflected in every part. Think how the structure of the atom with the electrons spinning around the proton, reflects the solar system, and how the solar system reflects the galaxy.
“Fractal is a word invented by Mandelbrot to bring together under one
heading a large class of objects that have [played] … an historical
role … in the development of pure mathematics. A great revolution of
ideas separates the classical mathematics of the 19th century from the
modern mathematics of the 20th… the revolution was forced
by the discovery of mathematical structures that did not fit the
patterns of Euclid and Newton. These new structures were regarded … as
‘pathological,’ … as a ‘gallery of monsters,’ … The mathematicians who created
the monsters regarded them as important in showing that the world of
pure mathematics contains a richness of possibilities going far beyond
the simple structures that they saw in Nature. Twentieth-century
mathematics flowered in the belief that it had transcended completely
the limitations imposed by its natural origins.
Now, as Mandelbrot
points out, … Nature has played a joke on the mathematicians. The
19th-century mathematicians may have been lacking in imagination,
but Nature was not…” – Freeman Dyson
It is easier undrstood in representation
Maybe you don’t know (sorry for you), how we humans tend to deny certain realities, trauma especially, and how denied those things tend to fester inside, and come out uncontrolled in unfortunate ways, “side ways,” warping us in the long term, harming others irrevocably. If the one is reflected in the many, and likewise, then Sandy Hook might be described as a culturally “side ways” event, caused by a release of energy we as a culture have repressed and denied, turned toxic.
Now it is the law of the land, here in America, that the Government can take any American, detain him or her, anywhere in the world, and never tell anyone where you are, or even that you have been taken, as long as you live, and forever after. Our President can offer a tear for the children in Connecticut, but not for the Children who die by his order in other countries. His Brennan gets to kill children and not kill himself, declared instead the pillar of care and concern, the administration’s “conscious”. Nary an American has ever shed a tear for the children killed by our Military Machine, in consort with industrial corporations, withdrawing resources from poor, weak countries and people globally, destabilizing those countries and their people – necessary to maintain school districts like Sandy Hook, to maintain every aspect of what America has become. Notice how we fight to maintain the tax cuts seeded to us by the Bush, who fanned the flames of endless empirical war, low now more than a decade ago.
Religion and the Word separated us from the earth, and Science cut us off from Spirit, and here we are, separate and separated, mourning. Another Sandy said it far more eruditely than I can, about what letting go into the earth and spirit means. A different Sandy ravaged recently the delusions of modernity, East Coast style.
Sandy Hook. I did see on CNN a young woman who knew Adam, whose name was Israel. She said she remembered him from school, like he was a genius, “higher than us,” she said. What is it about America, that we turn our geniuses into evil killers?
Among the mostly clueless things that have been said about Adam Lanza, I didn’t hear anyone tonight say he heard voices. I had a fugitive thought, while I was playing with my nephew, watching the news, that perhaps Adam heard voices, that told him to do what he did, and that is why those children were here, to show us what denial looks like, and that they are well taken care of where they are now, better than any parent could ever hope to. That the parent’s grief is about their loss, not the child’s. And I don’t doubt, wherever the child is, whatever it is now, it feels deeply the grief of the mother, the grief of the father, brother sister family and friend.
We’ve closed off and denied the voices. Geniuses throughout time have spoken of it, including Socrates “The favor of the gods has given me a marvelous gift, which has never left me since my childhood. It is a voice which, when it makes itself heard, deters me from what I am about to do and never urges me on.” Descartes, the godfather of scientific materialism, was visited by a daemon (or an angel) who told him the conquest of nature would come by number and measure. Perhaps it’s time we cherished those who hear voices, and listened to what they have to say, instead of demonizing the messengers, drugging them into silence, caging them institutionally, etc? Perhaps had Adam been free to speak of what was speaking to him, this would not have happened?
“Violence is as American as cherry pie.” –H. Rap Brown
A personal reflection on yesterday’s events by Surly1. Discuss this article here.
This past summer, my daughter came over for dinner one summer night and brought a friend to meet. She made it clear her guest was not “that” sort of friend, but a person of value nonetheless. “Nathan” (not his real name) was a slight young man, with shoulder length hair and a bespectacled, quiet manner.
Nathan and I spent much of the evening in pleasant conversation, albeit I strained to hear much of his part of it. When he spoke, which wasn’t often, you had to listen intently: his words barely reverberated in a quiet room. He was a young man of unfinished dreams. He was interested in ideas. He was intensely curious. He spoke of going to St. John’s College in Annapolis, to pursue a curriculum based on the great books. He was the best man at a wedding that I photographed, for two other friends of my daughters’. Yet whether it was his own struggle with sexual ambiguity, or his relationship with his father, or a lack of the ability to dance to the music of the spheres, we will never know.
Before Thanksgiving of this year, Nathan took his own life.
Last weekend, the neighbor told me about the daughter of neighbors up the street (not known to me) who had likewise committed suicide.
Stories of the suicide of young people are all too frequent, and always deeply troubling. Every community, every news cycle, every day brings us a news about premature death stalks young people. And then, the news of December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut. We’re told that the shooter was intelligent, nerdy, a Goth, remote, autistic. We’re told he had Asberger’s. We’re told he might’ve suffered from a personality disorder. We’re told investigators seek the motives of this young man, who took his own life after shooting 28 people. We sit mesmerized by the blue light of evening talk programs and watch mental health professionals infer motives from the shooter’s reported actions, this in the absence of any other evidence. Sock puppet politicians gravely intone they are “shocked and saddened” by the days events, (a trope which should earn the next utterer a blow to the head with a seven-pound hammer.) We are told by that God did not protect the Connecticut shooting victims because prayer has been banned in schools. (This mouth breathing opportunist apparently went to the “never let a good crisis go to waste” school of public relations.) We are told that we have to have a big, principled discussion about gun control, as if that might actually be permitted to happen by Wayne LaPierre.
We are told repeatedly what to think. Never are we invited to ask questions. We never ask about the quality of life in the schools or in this rapidly declining country. We never discuss the future prospects of a generation. We never challenge our spending priorities. We never debate why we can spend billions overseas, most of it routed to the pockets of transnational corporations, but we can’t afford to build bridges or schools at home. And, most of all, we never discuss the irony of a Nobel Peace Prize winner dealing death from above via drones and a private kill list.
“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.” — D.H. Lawrence
The unwelcome convergence of suicides close to home with yesterday’s news has led some of us who still retain a capacity for outrage to wonder aloud, “what the hell is going on here?”
And then you realize that none of this matters.
Screams over the intercom, 28 dead. Another violent rampage. Dozens of shattered families. This on the heels of another shooting earlier in the week in Oregon, and right before police in Bartlesville, Oklahoma arrested an 18-year-old high school student who was planning a school-shooting massacre plot.
A road man for the Lords of Karma might observe the bitter harvest of a culture steeped and marinated in violence. Others might cite our moral vacuity. Had we any sense of history, or capacity to consider more than the next quarter’s earnings, we would behold a culture which, in the space of a generation, has embraced both torture and drone bombing of civilians as “business as usual.” (All justifiable in the name of the “war on terror”, citizen. Get used to it.) Others will, like clockwork, cite the absence the absence of God and the Bible. Others will cite the need for new gun laws. All will have a point.
None will examine the bloody, beating Heart of Darkness that is this rapacious, flesh eating capitalist monster that devours all in its path. Having taken homeowners’ houses, dreams and lives (Google the story of Norman Rousseau), we have now begun to devour our children. What better symbol for the end game of the financialization of all aspects of human endeavor, in which human beings are turned into “head count” and “human resources,” and hopes and dreams into profits and losses.
Can there be a more to-the-point indictment of the utter soullessness and moral bankruptcy of the American enterprise?
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1 Scene 2
So much search for motive. We will not soon know the motives of this, or any shooter. What far shore of mind must a human being inhabit to take the life of another? And these incidences are happening more frequently. How many data plots do we need on our collective cognitive map to understand that there is something very wrong here, that goes beyond one or two disturbed teens? The rate of people killed by guns in the US is 19.5 times higher than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders. There have been 27 such events–27– since Columbine.
In Virginia, we survived the slaughter at Virginia Tech several years ago. The good citizens of the Commonwealth were left to try to puzzle out that latest act of wanton violence that led to 33 deaths and many more injuries. The ensuing conversations led to a conclusion of mental disturbance on the part of the shooter, a period of solemn mourning, and a good week a discussion of the proper role of guns in the society, after which the issue was shelved, per usual. There was some discussion about the shooter being a “collector of injustices,” an assessment which may have come closer to the truth then the FBI might have realized.
If mass murder and suicide is the symptom, perhaps the disease needs a name. Authors such as Paul Levy and Jack D. Forbes have explored a psychological disease observed by indigenous peoples informing self-destructive behavior on the part of European-based peoples. Some call it wetiko, others “malignant egophrenia.”
Indigenous people have been tracking the same “psychic”virus that I call malignant egophrenia for many centuries and calling it “wetiko,” a Cree term which refers to a diabolically wicked person or spirit who terrorizes others. Professor Forbes, who was one of the founders of the Native American movement during the early sixties, says, “Tragically, the history of the world for the past 2,000 years is, in great part, the story of the epidemiology of the wetiko disease.” Wetiko/malignant egophrenia is a “psychosis” in the true sense of the word as being a “sickness of the soul or spirit.” Though calling it by different names, Forbes and I are both pointing at the same illness of the psyche, soul and spirit that has been at the root of humanity’s inhumanity to itself.
Wetiko/malignant egophrenia is a disease of civilization, or lack thereof. To quote Forbes, “To a considerable degree, the development of the wetiko disease corresponds to the rise of what Europeans choose to call civilization. This is no mere coincidence.”[vi] The unsustainable nature of industrial civilization is based on, and increasingly requires violence to maintain itself. Genuine “civilization,” in essence, means not killing people. Referring to the lack of “civility” in modern society, Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilization and responded by saying, “I think it would be a good idea.” It makes sense that native people would know about malignant egophrenia, as they were both oppressed by, but weren’t, at least initially, under the “curse” of modern civilization. Being under the sway of modern civilization can feel like something foreign to our nature is being imposed upon us, as if we are living in an occupied land. Modern civilization suffers from the overly one-sided dominance of the rational, intellectual mind, a one-sidedness that seemingly dis-connects us from nature, from empathy, and from ourselves. Due to its disassociation from the whole, wetiko is a disturber of the peace of humanity and the natural world, a sickness which spawns aggression and is capable of inciting violence amongst living beings. The wetiko virus is the root cause of the inhumanity in human nature, or shall we say, our seemingly inhuman nature. This “psychic virus,” a “bug” in “the system,” in-forms and animates the madness of so-called civilization, which, in a self-perpetuating feedback loop feeds the madness within ourselves.
Whether new age or old, literature informs us of the danger within. As we wage slaves scrape a living from the gears of the machine, in order to earn the privilege of additional consumption of things we don’t need, we often rub up against that within us that stops us from expressing our full potential and whatever creative genius might lie within. Is that “herd think,” that groupthink that enlists us in endless cooperation, and co-optation, and that leads us to a slaughter? It may be that these shooters are merely a physical manifestation of the psychic horrors that are embedded in our morally bankrupt culture.
“We have a companion for life…We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master.” Don Juan, in Carlos Castaneda
There are echoes of this in the Bible as well. The Gospel of John refers to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (14:30; 16:11), and Paul speaks of Satan as “the god of this world” (Cor. 4:4). The Gnostic Gospel of Phillip, talking about the root of evil that lies within all of us, makes the similar point that unless this evil is recognized, “It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive.” (II, 3, 83.5-30)
Many chafe at the lessons of biblical Christianity. Yes only the blind and deaf could possibly fail to see the existence and the works of capital E Evil in the world. If evil exists, good must logically exist as well. If the devil exists, and his existence can be inferred from his works, then God must exist.
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
— Revelation 6:1-2˄ NIV
So we continue to search for answers. But that search will be in vain as long as we fail to acknowledge the reality and the consequences of this way of life, a dreamscape of horror inseparable from our ego and our own inner being. The wetiko “cannibal” culture is destroying us; as we militarize and financial lives, extract the last drop of oil, poison the aquifers and eat food manufactured by pesticide companies, the wave of suicides and shootings remind us of the culture of death that invests all of us. Our young people are being sacrificed to Mammon at an escalating rate: several dozen this week alone. Mammon is hungry. What we fail to realize is that we are offering our own children up for sacrifice. There is no difference between “theirs” and “mine.”
In Revelation, we are told that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are released after the Lamb of God opens the first four of the seven seals on the scroll in God’s right hand. This action summons forth four beings on white, red, black, and pale horses symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, which visit a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. Perhaps the shooters in these serial killings constitute a Fifth Horseman, a herald of sorts, announcing the coming of the promised Four, and the End of Days.
If wetiko is baked into our beings as a legacy, stemming from the “original sin” of agriculture and “dominion over all things,” then our challenge, and our work, will be to determine what it is that we do about it. Which is hte work of this website. It is quite clear that we are almost out of time.