Over The Road V: Internet Beginnings & Collapse Endings
Off the keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner
It’s hard these days to remember “life before the internet”, when if you were in correspondence with anyone, you generally would take weeks between exchanging letters. Now, if I don’t get a response to some email I send out to somebody or some corporation that screwed up on billing me for something by the next day, I figure I am either being ignored or it is a conspiracy or both. LOL.
I used to watch TV in those days though, so that filled the need for constant information input, and I didn’t get the Writing Jones until PCs were well into their development in the early 90s. I started but never finished a couple of Sci Fi novels before that and wrote some Poetry during my College Years, but writing wasn’t a big part of my life until the Laptops showed up and I turned Solitary as an OTR trucker.
The Internet was already in existence by then, although accessing it while OTR was pretty difficult. It was Dial-Up modems in those days, and I had to find access to a phone line with a Local Number I could call in order to stay online for anything more than a few minutes. Typical 800 Number charges were 10 cents/minute, $6/hr to stay online on the times I went that route. So in those days I would often compose as I am doing now in a word processor, copy into the buffer and then briefly sign on at some truckstop and paste my post into one of the yahoo groups I ran at the time, then sign off again. My email POP program would download messages I could read off the computer while not online in a few minutes, so for about $1/day I stayed caught up with my friends and net acquaintances that way.
A couple of years into my OTR driving years, a company called Park-n-View started providing Cable TV, Phone and Internet service to truckers right in your Truck, by connecting up with Phone line and Coaxial Cable to a Port that was installed in each parking spot for the trucks. It was a pretty robust port made out of heavy metal in case the truck tandems ran over it in parking, as they almost always did. It also had to be well shielded from the elements, and remarkably to me these ports worked most of the time. Hadda be hell for the guys driving the Snow Plows in those parking lots though during the Winter. I suspect they kept the Plow Blades up 2″ or so off the ground level to clear the ports. Well built as they were, at right is what they look like today. Nice metaphor for technology in general, and in a sense its just a miniaturized version of Detroit screwed right down into the pavement.
At the very end of my trucking years, rudimentary WiFi began to hit the scene, I got a Sprint Cell Phone I could access a dial up modem with, and had an Unlimited Minutes plan for this. It was mighty slow of course, but in those days it was all just Text, no Pics and certainly no Vids. I was off the road a long time before REAL High Speed WiFi started to be offered in all the Truckstops.
There were of course many hours/days where I had no access to a phone line or even a Park-n-View connection to check in on the net, check my email and so forth, stuck in a Shipper or Receiver waiting for a load or unload. To fill those many lonesome hours in the cabin of my Freightliner, I played on my laptop. I installed graphics programs and publication programs and database programs. I taught myself rudimentary database programming and started creating publications that incorporated pictures into them. I learned the basics of HTML during this time as well, though never have really become a super geek with the uderlying Code that runs websites like the Diner. All of what I did accumulate in knowledge during that time though I now use to make the Diner a lively looking and functional website, though the underlying code comes from Peter, not me.
Most of all though during those lonesome times, I wrote. Not about Doom though in those days, other topics occupied my mind back then. Still in the course of that writing I developed the Gonzo Style and “Atitude” I still use today in my writing, bombastic and over-the-top quite often.
As it progresses here to today, I find some things very interesting in exactly who you find on the Internet to chat with. It is very demographically skewed of course. Despite the prevailing zeitgeist that it is the younger people who are conversant with Computers and the Internet, you wouldn’t know that as you travel around the Collapse Blogosphere, that is for sure. The main Bloggers are just about all 40 & Up, and the older they are, the more Prolific they are in what they write. Likely because once Retired from whatever their normal job was, they have tons of time on their hands to write whatever comes into the Senior Mind. LOL.
Similar demographics in the Commentariat on these Blogs also, heavily weighted toward the aging population of Boomers & Silents. Almost everyone of these folks has developed a “Lifetime Philosophy”, which often breaks down to very conventional Political Classifications of “Socialist” or “Capitalist”. There are of course innumerable variations on these ideas, but basically it seems to me to come down to those who think the Individual is more important versus those who think the whole Community is more important. Individual “Rights” versus Social “Welfare”, that sort of thing.
It is not just in age demographics that you get a skewed perspective, it is also across cultural lines as well. Even though a good part of the “well-educated” of 3rd World countries speak English and can afford a Laptop and Internet connection, I have never had a Native Chinese or Indian or Brazilian or Russian show up on any of my blogs or forums, though I did run into a few Eastern Europeans on Peak Oil in the HOT years from around 2006-2010. Mostly though what you find on the Internet in the Collapse Blogosphere are people from the native English Speaking countries of the FSofA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. So is it just these English-speakers who are concerned with Collapse Issues? The Well-Educated of China and India and Russia have no interest in investigating this stuff and discussing it?
Perhaps on their own local net in their own languages there is something similar going on, but you know I really doubt it. I think the whole “contemplation of collapse” meme is pretty consolidated into a relatively small demographic of Boomers & Silents living in the 1st World English Speaking countries. Why is that?
First off, I think the theories put forth by folks like M. King Hubbert and Richard Duncan have been very poorly disseminated outside the English Speaking world, hell even INSIDE this world said theories are not well known. I think in most countries particularly in the 3rd World that the “Progress Meme” is still being highly promoted amongst the Intelligentsia, and these folks are more concerned with CATCHING UP ot the 1st Worlders than with Reverse Engineering their societies toward a low energy footprint society.
The “progress” or move toward Social Media as a primary function of the Internet is also IMHO in large part responsible for poor information dissemination in this area. The English speaking world got Computers and the internet early enough on in the game that your current 40-70+ year old class of people here have been researching and reading about these things for quite some time, at least the most active of them have been. for the younger folks, the Internet has become more of a Sound Bite medium much like Television, with the Internet mainly used as a Comunications medium between friends, not as a Research medium for Information. If ya can’t consolidate it down to a 3 line Tweet or a 2 minute Vid, you can’t get many people to pay attention to what is presented on the net. I certainly have been criticized ENDLESSLY for the fact most of my Essays and Articles run in the Nabe of 2000-5000 words as being just too LONG for people to read. WTF? How can you detail out any reasonably complex idea in much less than this? Books are much longer…oh but yea people don’t read them anymore either!
The upshot of all of this is that the truth about Collapse is very poorly disseminated information, both Globally across cultures and Demographically across age groups. It is most certainly NOT taught in the Schools ANYWHERE at all. What is taught and promoted is to take out huge loans to get an Engineering Degree which in all likelihood by the time the average 18 YO today graduates will be quite worthless. If even the “well educated” class of people with access to computers and the internet are systematically routed away from exploring these issues, it certainly makes it quite difficult to generate a new consensus. Is that a Purposeful Plan of the Illuminati? If not, then it certainly was a fortuitous outcome for them to have a generation of clueless people distributed around the globe just about everywhere.
Henry Ford remarked once that if J6P understood the Monetary System at all, there would be a Revolution the next day. Ignorance is promoted and promulgated by the Illuminati. Anybody SMART enough to understand any of it is Coopted into the Game, and becomes a Mid-Level “Successful” Apparatchik, and over time develops a Rationale which explains and justifies his “Success” to himself. In justifiying that success, the same person demonizes and denigrates those less successful than himself as simply too stupid or too lazy to be successful. These are the people who make our Enslavement possible, these are the people who have brought us to the Brink of Extinction.
This facet of cultural development represents the “Banality of Evil”. The apparatchiks aren’t the ones truly “running the show”, but they ARE the ones who make the show possible at all. In one respect or another, anyone who participates in the system as a middle level apparatchik ends up functioning to perpetuate the Evil we have before us. You work, you pay your taxes, you vote, all of this serves to perpetuate the system. Dropping OFF this system, or “Dropping Out” really is an extraordinarily difficult thing for most people in Industrial Society to do at all.
If you buy yourself a Doomstead somewhere to set up Permaculture Farming, you are going to have Property Taxes to pay, and it is quite questionable as to whether the farm can both Feed you and Family AND sell the excess produce to increasingly broke populations. Trying to go out Rewilding, you will find that nearly every spot on the Globe is “owned” by somebody, or by Da Goobermint which has restrictions on just what you can Fish or Hunt up and kill. More or less a version of the old “King’s Fox Hunting Ground”, nobody but the King can go there and shoot anything, all the creatures on that plot of land belong to HIM. You gotta go mighty far out in marginal territory to be let alone to hunt & fish and gather as you will, at least for now that is the case.
Here on the Diner, we engage in the process of “Work Arounds” for these many facets of the failing industrial economy and how you might negotiate the shitstorm to come. The FOOD problem remains of paramount concern to most Diners, as we are all aware that the JIT shipping paradigm that utilizes the kind of Big Rig I drove is amongst the most vulnerable of the systems we are dealing with here and if/when it fails can rapidly bring extreme Hunger & Starvation to the most highly populated neighborhoods in the industrialized world, the Big Shities as I refer to them.
Is there ANY reasonable solution which has some CHANCE at success? In fact there is, though hope is slim that it will be implemented on a large scale in a near enough timeline to ameliorate an extreme and rapid Die Off event for Homo Sapiens.
What IS that HOPE? It is Hydroponics, a means of growing vast quantities of food in a Water and Energy conservative manner that can utilize much of the flotsam and jetsam of the Age of Oil ALREADY manufactured to produce vast quantities of food in many locations otherwise unsuitable for typical Ag techniques, including Permaculture. Here on the Diner, you can begin your exploration of Hydroponics in the Hydroponics NOW! thread inside the Diner, along with numerous other threads devoted to this topic.
Is Hydroponics a FOOLPROOF Solution to the Food Problem we will face as the spin down progresses onward here? No it is not, there are many difficulties involved, not so much with the technology or even having available the varous plumbing stuff from the Age of Oil. Even though you can scale down to create a system just big enough to provide for our own needs as the above pictured setup does for Diner Admin Peter, you do face the problem of Have Nots, aka as “Zombies” who in all likelihood will resort to violent tactics to acquire the food you have or are producing. Although more secure than exposed plots of land, not that much more secure.
In more remote areas, you probably can pursue such a technique with reasonable security, but inside a Big Shity or Suburb, even hidden in a basement your neighbors will quickly recognize you are not getting so skinny quite so fast as they are. They will knock on your door to ask for food, and eventually at the Point of a Gun likely ask to search your premises for food.
So even though it is technically feasible to pursue Hydroponics as a Solo Adventure for yourself and family, this really is not the best route to go for most people in most neighborhoods.
Rather, instead of HIDING what you are doing, ADVERTIZE IT! Let as many people as you know in the neighborhood KNOW about it, and TEACH them to do the same thing.
Learning to do anything like this takes Time & Experience, and time you put in now to teaching yourself how it is done makes you a VALUABLE member of your Community. People will Look to YOU to HELP them, and you will have the means to do that. Not with Money, but with that which NEVER can be taken from you by Da Goobermint, what you KNOW HOW TO DO.
Will it be IMPOSSIBLE to do Hydroponics once JIT fails and the Parts you buy now are no longer available from the Big Box Stores by way of Slave Laborers working in China? Not at ALL, because just about ALL of it can be scavenged from the parts used to construct your McMansion and your SUV! What cannot be scavenged this way can be facsimilated from local materials. Even Timers and Pumps can be created locally out of available materials.
If like some of the Diners here you decide to try and build a Hydroponics grwoing facility in your McMansion or Garage or Basement, I urge you not to think of it as just a means to feed self and family, but rather as your autodidactic method of gaining the knowledge necesary to help everyoneelseinyour community do the SAME THING. So you do not need a HUGE setup for this, and a good beginner system can be set up at an affordable price. for all but the totally destitute already.
The Diners are here to help you. We are all in the same mess of course, and this is something you CAN DO. Wherever you live right now, even in a Big Shity it is possible. Perhaps, just PERHAPS it is possible to get enough of your neighbors to WAKE UP in time to stave off the Zombie Apocalypse. Is this the Picture you want for the Future?
Or is it THIS
You can CHOOSE right now to make the second picture the OUTCOME here. Or at least make the EFFORT at it. Even if you FAIL, at least you know when you Buy your Ticket to the Great Beyond, you did NOT quit, you did NOT go down without a fight, and you made your very BEST effort to….wait for it…
Save As Many As You Can