RE

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 16

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 24, 2017

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PM Stream on the Doomstead Diner Forum Private Message Channel (PM) between Kenny & RE


KennyK

Greetings RE!

I have been a lurker on the Diner almost since you began it in 2012.  I am a regular reader, and get many of my ideas from your website.

Currently, together with a friend we have a large property in the lower 48 we would like to get a SUN☼ Community going on when TSHTF.  However, we are highly concerned about security and about simply inviting people to the place now, which would make it too widely known.  We estimate our possible carrying capacity for our land to be about 200 people, although it could be substantially more since the properties are adjacent to a large National Forest.

Do you have any suggestions on how we might find some people, but not necessarily give them the location of the Doomstead at this time?

KennyK


RE

Greetings to you also KK!

5 years is a long time to Lurk!  Better late than never though.

Balancing the need for maintaining security and anonymity while at the same time developing a community is pretty tough nut.  Let me ponder on this for a night.  Right now, how many people know about the property?"


Kenny

Right now just 3 of us.  Me, an older guy and his daughter.  He's a kind of hermit and has been around here since the 70s.  He's a lurker on the Diner also.  Paranoid about security so he doesn't post to websites, just reads them.  I use anonymous proxy servers.  None of us have any real close friends, but both me and Karen do know quite a few people from back in "civilization".  I still work back there, and just come out on the weekends in my Stealth Van & Trailer to prep up my property.  I glommed that idea from the Diner. 🙂


RE

Cool!  I'd love to see some pics of your rig!

What's your money situation like?  Do you have enough to prepare for such a large community when TSHTF?


Kenny

We're pretty OK for money, Karl has more than me but even with that I don't think we could build everything for so many people just on our own.


RE

OK, that's enough for tonight, I'm going to have to ponder on this to work up a plan.  I'll PM you tomorrow.


Kenny

OK, sounds good.

—————

RE

OK, I think I have a plan.

You are going to need 3 Levels for potential community members, with different levels of clearance.

Level 1:  The people you vet and REALLY trust, who you could bring to your doomstead now to help build things before TSHTF.

Level 2:  People who you pretty much trust to at least have your email addy and phone number, and who you can tell that you have a doomstead, and if things get bad they should get in touch with you.

Level 3:  People you trust least, but might be helpful to have, especially if your total numbers in Level 1 and Level 2 are not sufficient to protect and defend your doomstead.  These folks you should have their phone number and in a SHTF scenario send them a text with the lat/lon of a meeting point somewhere away from your property and told to bring an FRS Radio for further information when they get there.  They should have specific times when you will be in range to contact them via the FRS.  You can also set up a website on free WordPress space where they can go for information, with a password to get in to members only area.

Of course, if the internet goes dark before the L3 people are contacted, the website won't work.  However I think in most situations we'll know things are going south with at least a few days before the web is out for good.  L2 people will need the cell phone network still operational, that should last a bit longer.  If it is safe enough and you know their physical location, you might go out looking for them, if you have some means of transportation.


Kenny

That sounds like a pretty good plan RE!  I will run it by Karl and Karen next weekend and see what they think.


RE

Hope it works out OK.  Hey, besides taking some shots of your Stealth Van setup, could you take some pics of your doomstead and what you guys are setting up?  I'd love to blog about it.  You can keep all the location information anonymous and no pictures of your faces or other identifying information.  People should know that there are SUN Communities that are being set up.


Kenny

I'll ask Karl about that too.  As long as there is no identifying information, I don't see why it would be a problem.


RE

Also, we should make some plans for SUN Communities and independent Doomsteads to stay in touch after TSHTF.  I've got a shortwave setup here, do you have shortwave?


Kenny

Karl has a shortwave.  I'll get his call sign and we can decide on frequencies to check.  Also exchange Public Keys for GPG4USB encryption and some verbal passphrases.


RE

Uggh.  I keep screwing up with that.  Don't use my current Public Key.  I need to make a new one.  I will send it to you next time we talk.


Kenny

OK, sounds good, I will contact you again next week after I speak with Karl and Karen.


RE

Great!  Talk to you next week!  Hasta la Pasta!

————–

Kenny copy/pasted the PM chats with RE into an encrypted file on his smart phone, so he could go over the ideas in detail with Karl & Karen the following weekend.

Otherwise, it was back to the grind of mowing lawns on his Zero Turn Mower for the week, finding spots to park the Stealth Van for the night that wouldn't be rousted by the Gestapo, and shopping at Home Depot for all the gear necessary to start construction of the Funicular Railway and Cable System to move gear up the mountain and game meat back down.  It was a long list of stuff, and each time he read through it he realized something was missing.

On Wednesday, his smart phone rang, and he jumped.  His phone almost never rang, only occassional calls from clients with some emergency like a downed tree poking its way through the rooftop of the McMansion.  An evening call after bizness hours almost never came.  It was Kirsten.

"Hi Kenny!  It's Kirsten!  I was wondering if we are still on for going camping and climbing this weekend?  My last class ends at 4 o'clock tomorrow, and I am free after that for the whole weekend.  I have been looking forward to this since we got together last week so I hope you are still up for it!", Kirsten said in her most perky and attractive voice she could muster up.

Hearing her voice and enthusiasm on the smart phone, Kenny's close friend inside his Levi Strauss jeans got uncomfortably active, and there was no way he was going to resist this time.  Besides,he had formulated a plan with Karl to bring Kirsten up to the Lean-To instead of to one of their own Doomsteads, so this aspect was relatively risk-free now.

The bigger risk though is how this would play with Karen, who he also was very attracted to?  He had pulled up on YouTube a music vid of "Do you ever have to make up your mind" by John Sebastian and the Lovin' Spoonful that Karl had referenced in their chat on this issue, and he was stuck in exactly this predicament.  However, there was no course of action on this other than to face down the problem and try to deal with it.  While he felt up to the challenge of dealing with Collapse, he was not so sure he could deal with the challenge of dealing with two attractive women in the same place at the same time.  However, when collapse finally comes, they would both be in the community, so he figured that he might as well work out the problem beforehand if possible.

Thursday afternoon arrived, Kenny finished his last lawn mowing job and headed back for his storage unit to exchange out his Landscaping Gear for his Camping Gear in the enclosed trailer with the heavy duty Master Locks to secure his possessions.  He hit the Fitness club for a workout and showered, and put on fresh clothes for picking up Kirsten at her dorm room on campus.  One of the things he had learned was that generally women were not attracted to stinky guys and it was a good idea to be clean and neat if you wanted to get laid.

As he neared the Missoula campus of Montana State University,  Kenny fired off a text to Kirsten over the SMS network to let Kirsten know he was on the way, and upon arriving found her already out on the sidewalk with her backpack and gear bag, dressed attractively in cut off jean shorts and a halter top, as it was an exceptionally warm spring day for Missoula, with temps in the 80s Farenheit.  April had warmed up considerably over the last few years.

Kenny got out of the van to greet her, and help her get her gear into the trailer.

"Hey Kirsten! Great to see you again." Kenny greeted her with, trying to keep his Johnson from stiffening too much, since driving with a Woody was not very comfortable.  "We can put your gear in the trailer with all my stuff."

"It's great to see you again Kenny!" Kirsten replied enthusiastically and gave Kenny a big hug, her chest pressing up against his chest.  This was unfortunate for Kenny, since now Mr. Johnson was straining the seams on his Levi Strauss Jeans, purchased ON SALE at Walmart for $15 and sewn up by child labor in India, and Kenny was not sure these jeans could take the pressure.  The Zipper could easily give way! Quality Control in Indian clothing factories is not that reliable.  It was a real test of Indian clothing manufacturing. Fortunately, the seams were double stitched and held firm against the pressure and the zipper was a well manufactured one that was imported to India from a top Zipper factory in Brazil.

Kenny opened the rear door of the trailer for Kirsten to throw her bags into, and Kirstens eyes opened wide when she looked inside the trailer.  It was just STACKED with preps, although neatly arranged on shelving purchased at Home Depot and fitted neatly into the trailer.

"Good Grief Kenny!  We're just going for a weekend camping trip!", Kirsten exclaimed as she saw the gobs of preps that Kenny had stacked in the trailer.

Kenny laughed.  "Kirsten, you know I am a Doomer Prepper. I never go anywhere without enough Preps to keep me going for at least a year in case TSHTF while I am on the road.  I don't wanna get caught with my pants down at the critical moment.  I've been at this since I was in Junior High, and I am NOT going to be caught out when TSHTF!  So I am always fully prepped up for the long haul.

Kirsten shook her head.  Kenny was totally serious about his prepping, and it was INCREDIBLE!  But of course, she had only seen the trailer so far.  It was still tough for her to grasp that all of Industrial Civilization was coming to a close.

"Well, at least I know I am going camping with the right guy if Civilization Collapses over the weekend!" Kirsten replied with a giggle.  "So, where are we going?"

"I built a Lean-To in Lolo National Forest.  Well, actually I built it with a friend and fellow Prepper, and he'll probably meet us there.  There's a mountain across from it where Big Horn Sheep cruise, and I'm going to go after one in the next hunting season.  Lots of good spots for some rock climbing there too if you are of a mind to do that.", Kenny replied.

"Oh, that sounds TERRIFIC Kenny!  I can't wait to see the Lean-To!", Kirsten effused.

After getting her gear loaded in the trailer, Kenny fired up the big V-8 motor in the Dodge RAM Van and got rolling on the road to one of the parking lots surrounding Lolo National Forest, and threw on a playlist of some of his favorite tunes stored on his Samsung Galaxy Mega smartphone for music background on the ride.  It was mostly stuff his mom had ‪played over and over in his childhood from the 70s & 80s, from rock bands like Queen, Jethro Tull, Heart and Metallica.

After arriving at the parking lot, Kenny and Kirsten strapped on their backpacks and filled their water bottles for the hike in, which was pretty long from the closest parking lot, about 8 miles.  The last part of it there was no trail for, so had to be guided via GPS.

Kenny was astonished at Kirsten's speed on the trail, he had trouble keeping up with her.  Despite her small size, she was amazingly physically fit and coordinated, and nimbly traversed obstacles on the trail that slowed him down.  Her pack was not as loaded down as his own with gear, but it was still quite substantial in size and from behind her (which he usually was), all you could see was the lower 2/3rds of her legs.  He was disapointed her butt was not visible, it would have made the hike much more enjoyable.

They broke for lunch a little past the halfway point, a meal of Freeze Dried Mountain House Lasagna cooked up quickly with Kenny's Jetboil butane fired lightweight cooking stove, and once reinforced with more good calories, finished the hike off trail and up the mountain to where the Lean-To was located.  Upon arrival, Kirsten was flabberghasted.

"Good grief Kenny, this isn't a 'Lean-To'!  It's a freaking PALACE!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, that's really my friend Karl's work, not mine.  I built a pretty rudimentary one last year, but Karl snuck up here earlier in the spring and spruced it up to his specifications.  Karl goes first class in all his prepping work, if Karl does it, it's the best that can be done.  He's a pretty old guy and has been at this game since the 1970's."

"Wow!  That's a long time to wait for TEOTWAWKI!" Kirsten remarked, using a term she learned from Kenny in their first conversation over dinner.  "When will he get here?"

"Sometime tomorrow I think.  His daughter Karen should be coming also.  She's really nice, I think you'll like her.", Kenny said hopefully.

The mention of another female coming got Kirsten's antennae up.

"Are you friends with Karen too?", she asked.

"Sure, she's really nice!  Pretty new to prepping though.  Karl didn't even know she was his daughter until recently."

Kirsten tried to read Kenny to see if she could discern if there was more to "really nice" than he let on.  It was impossible to determine.

"Well, at least we have the Lean-To to ourselves for tonight.", she said with a sly smile.

The Blame Game

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February19, 2017

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As our economy spins down, our climate deteriorates, our geopolitical system descends into chaos and warfare, placing BLAME for this sad state of affairs is a popular thing to do amongst Bloggers and people who comment on blogs.  This Blame Placing works its way down from the very large to the very small.  In this article, I will cover the way various Pundits and Commenters in the Collapse Blogosphere like to place blame for the ongoing Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

WE ARE ALL TO BLAME

This is the biggest subset, as in all of Humanity.  The reason for our self-destruction is all of us, and Human Nature.  Because "we" are all to blame, we also all deserve to DIE.  As soon as possible too, since if we all die fast enough, maybe some other furry animals and trees will get to live!  This is the argument you get most often on blogs like Nature Bats Last.  It's the Nihilist/Misanthrope argument.

WESTERN WHITE PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME

This reduces the subset to a smaller group of people, those who as gross cultures took the most advantage the earliest from the accessing of the fossil fuel energy resource.  Once that was accomplished, these cultures went on a centuries long tear subjugating other cultures all over the world, from the First Nations people in the FSoA to the Villagers in Me Lai in Vietnam and the residents of Allepo in Syria today.

BOOMERS ARE TO BLAME

This is very popular amongst the Millenial crowd, although there is a lot of self-directed guilt by the Boomers themselves as being responsible for this mess.  The meme here is that Boomers created the wasteful, consumerist culture we live in and today live high on the hog while the younger generation suffers and their future is ruined.

THE BLACKS/LATINOS/NATIVES WELFARE LEECHFUCKS ARE TO BLAME

This is the spin you get on the alt-right type of website, where the population of the underclass is painted as lazy and stupid and sucking wealth from the "good productive" members of the society who still have jobs.  This  remains a popular blaming meme, but is beginning to fail as more of the people who used to blame these folks themselves fall off the economic cliff.  To paraphrase Martin Niemholler, "First they came for the Blacks. I did not speak for them. Then they came for the Mexicans.  I did not speak for them.  Then they came for the Water Protectors trying to stop the Oil Pipeline under the Missouri River.  I did not speak for them.  When they came for me, nobody was left to speak for me".

THE CHINESE/RUSKIES ARE TO BLAME

The argument here is that these nations are the aggressors, while the Western Iluminati counties are just trying to defend "Freedom & Democracy" globally.  Which by any measure is a complete crock of shit.  By no means are the folks running China or Mother Russia very nice, warm and friendly people, but you can't really place the blame on them for this clusterfuck.  Mostly, they have been behind the Eight Ball and just reacting all along the way.  As things really spin up here, Vlad the Impaler is being painted as the Big Bad Guy, but he's just a creation of the whole system, and no different than the people who are running NATO, th EU or the FSoA.  Well, you could make the case he is doing better at it, since his popularity ratings are consistently higher than those of EU heads of state. lol.

THE .01% IS TO BLAME

This blame paradigm puts our problems on the shoulders of those who have reaped the most profit from the system, the .01% of the population that controls the banking system, most means of production and most of the land mass of the earth.  The folks who today fly around in Private Jets to go to conferences at Bilderberg in Switzerland.  AKA, The Masters of the Universe or Illuminati.

THE CENTRAL BANKS ARE TO BLAME

This blame placing goes on the back of Fiat Money, and generally those who do this blaming are Gold Bugs.  The idea being here if we had just stayed on a Gold Standard for money, our economic system would not have run amok.  The CBs are blamed for the problems whether they print money or don't print money.  If they print money, it devalues and you get inflation in something, somewhere.  If they don't print money, you get a loss of "liquidity" and deflation.  Either one screws with the purchasing power of the average J6P.

THE MEDIA IS TO BLAME

In this case, because the MSM has been brainwashing us with Bernay's style Propaganda for so long, people don't know the Truth (with a capital T), and as a result have been hoodwinked by the .01% that controls this media.  So it's a corollary of the Illuminati argument.  The media is also blamed for being "lefty" or "liberal", another popular group to receive blame, particularly from the Alt-Right folks mentioned above.

LEFTIES ARE TO BLAME

A very popular meme amongst the fans of Capitalism as an economic system. Socialism or Communism according to them were big failures, and all the people receiving some sort of social welfare benefit are a drain on the society.  Lefties also like to kill unborn babies and want to steal money from good hard working citizens through taxation and give it to lazy, unproductive citizens.

RIGHTIES ARE TO BLAME

Righties are blamed for being war mongering, selfish and greedy people only looking out for themselves.  By and large, righties have more money than lefties, and the righties feel they deserve their money and the lefties are thieves trying to steal it from them.  Righties also tend to be fairly intolerant of any group other than themselves, mainly White European descendents.  They also tend to believe abortion is murder and women should be forced to have babies they don't want or can't support.  They definitely think LGBTQ people are perverts in need of a shrink at least, if not being jailed for moral turpitude.

CORPORATIONS ARE TO BLAME

Corporatism is a fairly new word, which fans of Capitalism invented to try and make a distinction between the Big Corporations they hate and the Small Bizman they love.  Corporations get blamed from both sides of the Lefty-Righty divide for just about everything, from screwing up our economic system to screwing up the environment to stealing resources from poor people…you name it, if it is Evil the corporations are responsible for it!

RELIGION IS TO BLAME

A very popular meme, as long as it is somebody ELSE'S Religion you are blaming.  Atheists blame all religions for the woes of the world.  Christians blame the Muslims, Muslims blame the Christians, and everybody blames the Jews. lol.  Buddhists don't get much blame, because if a Buddhist falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Druids occassionally get blamed, because they wear silly costumes and have long beards full of yesterday's lunch menu particles. Panentheists like me don't get much blame, because first of all there are vanishingly small number of Panentheists around and just about nobody else even understands what they are and how Panentheism differs from Pantheism.

BIG GOOBERMINT IS TO BLAME

Goobermint is the favorite Blame Punching Bag of the Alt-Right, Tea Party & Libertarian type folks who believe in the "Free Market", "Property Rights", "Deregulation", etc etc etc.  Goobermint is blamed for getting in the way of bizness, encroaching on Freedom and Liberty, waging wars, being inefficient and wasteful of money, being loaded with imbecilic politicians, and most of all, TAXING too much!

———————

OK!  There's a brief rundown of many of the forms of blame you run across around the Collapse Blogosphere. It's not complete, for instance Vegans blame Carnivores for eating meat, and Permaculturists blame Industrial Ag for running an unsustainable food production paradigm.  Pedestrians and Cyclists blame Car drivers for wasting gas and running them off the road. etc, etc, etc.  Everybody's got an axe to grind on someone or something else.

Now, the issue is, what in this litany of things to blame is worthwhile to consider in terms of it being True or not as the underlying cause of the problems we face?  I'm not going to make a Value Judgement on that in this article for the most part (it would take too long and this article is already long enough), if you have read my work for long enough you know where I place most of the blame.

I will take issue with the "Blame Generalists" though, the folks at the top of the list who blame ALL of Humanity for our problems!  That is ridiculous though, because if you blame everyone, you blame no one.  HTF is a Kalahari Bushman responsible for this mess?  He has the same "Human Nature" you do or Lloyd Blankfein does, but he hardly caused the same damage as either you or Lloyd did.  He did cause some of course, but what you have to do is determine LEVELS of blame.  Who caused the MOST damage?  Who was MOST responsible?  Who had the MOST control?  Who was relatively Powerless and who had Power to change the direction of society at any given point in history?

Also pointless is to blame entire generations of people, because all generations have been part of one long continuous slide, basically from the time we invented Agriculture to today.  I never had any say in the choice from moving from Nomadic Hunter-Gatherer living to sedentary Ag livingor Industrial living, so HTF is that MY fault?  I'm not going to take the blame for that.  I'm also not going to take blame for being born a White Male, nor will I take blame for the folks running the country I live in dropping the Death From Above on Syria either.  I DEFINITELY will not take the blame for The Donald being elected POTUS or the fucking stupid Executive Orders he pitches out either.

Then you have the issue of whether it is worthwhile to try and assign blame at all?  Individuals, even entire classes of people get blamed, and often enough that blame is incorrectly applied, so does that mean we stop placing blame entirely because it's "not productive"?  I can't place blame on DAPL for trying to run a pipeine under the Missouri River? I can't blame them for setting Attack Dogs on the Water Protectors?  I can't place blame on Lloyd Blankfein for being a greedy scumbag?  It's unproductive of me to blame The Donald and all the people who voted for him for being idiots?  What?

Basically, somebody has to be held accountable for the actions taken as a society, and saying "We ALL are to Blame" is completely ridiculous, because we are NOT all to blame, at least not in equal amounts anyhow.  The amount of blame you shoulder depends on how much control you had over the direction the society took.  Most of us had virtually ZERO power even just during the time period we were alive, and we certainly had no power whatsoever over what came before the date of your birth.  You're stuck with the society you are born into unless you have enough power to change it, and few do.

However, unless SOMEBODY is held accountable for the poor choices, you can't change the direction of the ship, the Titanic will sail into the Iceberg.  The very FIRST thing you must do to change the direction of the society is get RID of the people in command of the ship who are sending it into the iceberg. To do that, you have to place some BLAME here, and blaming all the passengers on the Titanic for being passengers is just plain stupid.  There IS Blame to be assigned here, it must be assigned and then there must be Punishment assigned as well.  Otherwise, the same shit keeps happening.

Our society in aggregate has become like Parents who never will spank their children or even rebuke them in any significant way.  Kids pick up on this pretty quick, and generally by the time they hit Junior High they feel INVINCIBLE!  The Teachers are POWERLESS to punish them for misbehavior or disrupting the class learning.  In fact, often the TEACHER is blamed for the problem, both by the parents and by the school administrators.  All sorts of totally useless forms of punishment like Detention are dropped on, which actually punishes the teacher as much as the student, since now you have to spend an hour or two extra after the school day is over to monitor this detention, and you have the same behavior problems to deal with in the detention room as you had in the classroom!  So your daily torture as a teacher is just extended here with this method.

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 15

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 16, 2017

 

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Karl woke up early, and set about his usual routine of collecting chicken eggs, milking the goats and watering his raised beds, then headed inside for a shower and to brew the morning coffee.  The sound of the water running in the bathroom and the jostling around in the kitchen awakened Karen, and she followed Karl after he finished the morning cleanup, and took his humanure out to the compost pile, covering it with wood chips, straw and leaves to let it ferment.  Although he had a flush toilet and a septic system installed, he hardly ever used it, not wanting to waste the precious nutrients and fertilizer contained in his own excrement.  He had installed the septic and toilet early on in building the earthship, before he had learned all the techniques of Permaculture and how to compost your own waste to recycle it, but had hardly used it over the last decade.

Karen observed Karl taking out his morning poop and emulated him, shitting into the clean bucket that Karl had left next to the flush toilet after taking his own waste to the compost pile.  The bucket had a nice Camping Toilet seat on it and was quite as comfortable to poop in as a normal toilet.  Actually even more comfortable since the squatting position was closer to the normal position Homo Saps who do not use toilets take in defecating.   Kenny heard Karl and Karen trudging over to the composting area, and took his own bucket of shit from the van, and then walked down to the stream to give the bucket a rinse out before putting it back in the van, in it's storage compartment beneath the bed with his 1 gallon piss jug.  Rather than taking a shower as Karl and Karen had, Kenny took a Sponge Bath utilizing water from one of the two 5 gallon water containers he always kept topped off in the van.  One container held non-potable "grey water" which he usually got from the streams in the area and was used for washing purposes, and the other contained his drinking water, which he generally got from the Missoula City water system, filling Up a gallon jug every so often when using a public bathroom in a convenience store, of at the Fitness Center where he worked out in the mornings.  He also had a water filtration and purifying system, including a small distiller he could use to distill otherwise impotable water if he had to.  That generally had not been necessary so far for him though, through the last winter he simply melted snow for drinking water.  The streams in the area also were generally quite clean and free of pollutants or bacteria, and just boiling some water from them was good enough to make it potable.

Kenny wandered up the hill to the house after getting dressed, and found Karl and Karen busy getting breakfast ready in the Kitchen.  He poured himself a cup of black coffee, nicely brewed from the fresh coffee beans he had brought with him from the gourmet roaster in Missoula.  It was WAY better than Maxwell House!  Kenny was not looking forward to the day when good coffee was no longer available!  How would he manage to get going in the morning?  This aspect of the future was not something he liked to contemplate, it might be better just to be BBQed up by Zombies!

"I've got to head back to my place after breakfast, I have the Sunday afternoon shift at Quinn's." Karen said.

"Why don't you cut back on your hours at Quinn's and spend more time out here?  Karl asked.  He was really enjoying having Karen's company.  "Huckleberry really seems to like the place and all the extra space to roam around, plus she seems to have made friends with Mr. Ed and Quick Draw." he added as an enticement.

Karen frowned, thinking.  "I don't know dad.  I'm not sure I am ready to be a full time doomer yet.  Plus, most of my friends are at Quinn's, and if we are going to get a community together I need to spend time with them."

Karl nodded his head, slightly disappointed.  "Yea, that's true.  Having the condo in Lolo is also good to maintain so probably just a couple of visits a week on days off is the best plan until we have a SHTF scenario."

"I'll make sure to get days off on the weekends so I can be here when Kenny comes." Karen said, smiling at Kenny.

Kenny smiled back, looking forward to getting to know Karen better and working with her.  Her engineering knowledge would come in very handy with many of the projects he was hoping to build.  The only problem was Kirsten, he couldn't stop thinking about her either!  The female companionship thing was getting complicated, and Kenny could almost see why Karl had chosen the life of a Solitary Man.  Almost.  His close companion behind the zipper of his Levi Strauss jeans argued otherwise.

After doing the dishes and getting her bag packed, Karen got Huckleberry into the back seat of the Ford Escort and headed back out to Civilzation in Lolo.  Not that Lolo was much of a town of course, but it still ran on grid electricity and had a local grocery store, and the drive on State Highway 93 wasn't far to the Walmart Supercenter either.  She was still adjusting to the idea that all the conveniences she had taken for granted growing up were going to disappear, although neither Kenny nor Karl could put a precise finger on the date, nor even could RE on the Diner.  The more she read though, the more convinced she became that these folks were right, and things would probably start to deteriorate faster with the election of The Donald as POTUS. She had been a strong Bernie Sanders supporter during the primaries, and was devastated when the nomination was stolen from him by the criminal Clinton Gang.  Besides all the economic and climate problems she was becoming aware of, Global Thermonuclear War seemed a strong possibility also with a clown like Trump in the White House.

Once the goodbyes were said, Kenny and Karl waved to Karen as she headed out the private road and back to civilization and they walked back toward the Earthship to get ready for a day of prepping.

"So, what kind of plans have you got for today Kenny?  We can't really do much more work on getting the Cable System and Funicular Railroad set up until you pick up more hardware next week at Home Depot in Missoula."

"I have a couple of projects to do over on my property I brought some supplies for starting.  I want to put together a picnic table that is more permanent for outdoor eating than the folding table we had breakfast on last week, for one thing."

"That shouldn't take long between the two of us if you have all the materials, maybe a couple of hours." Karl replied.

"Probably not." Kenny agreed.  "Although staining it and coating it with linseed oil and polyurethane will need to be done over the next couple of weekends.  I also have a bigger project to start on, I want to excavate and build a Walipini Greenhouse on the property as well."

"How big a Walipini were you planning on excavating?" Karl inquired.

"I was thinking about 20' by 60' " Kenny replied.

"That is a fucking BIG hole to dig Kenny!" Karl laughed.

"Yea, I figured to dig it out would take me most of the summer, doing a little each weekend."

"Fuck that idea." Karl replied.  "I'll rent a Daiwoo Back Hoe and Front End Loader and we'll get the excavation done in a weekend, no problem.", Karl proposed.

Kenny laughed.  "Yea that certainly would speed things up!  I didn't really consider doing that because first off I didn't want to spend the money on the rental, and second I've never used one of those monster machines."

Karl waved his hand in the air.  "The money is nothing.  A weekend rental for a Back Hoe costs maybe $1000 the most, and I think I can get one maybe for free from a contractor in Lolo who built a lot of the cabins up here.  I own several of them and had them built as rentals and for sale over the years.  He'll probably let me use one for a Moose Roast or some Venison."

"Well as long as you drive it Karl, I'm certainly good with that!", Kenny laughed.

Karl threw a few of his own tools into Kenny's trailer, and they made the drive over to Kenny's property via the logging roads.

"It sure would be nice if we could take a more direct route from your property over to mine." Kenny observed.  "We gotta drive over 20 miles here, but your place is really less than 5 miles away as the crow flies."

"Yea, it would be nice to have such a road, but tough in practice to do. There are 3 other privately owned properties between here and your place, and we would need permission from all of them to build a road, or even just cut a decent trail.  I know the people who own these properties, at least I have talked with them a few times.  They are well to do Dentists and Doctors mostly who would not be amenable to a road being build on "their property".  Isolationists mostly who just like to have their own hunting land and a nice summer cabin to vacation with the family."

Kevin sighed and nodded in acceptance.  "Yes, most of the people who actually still have enough money to make preps and buy land still buy into the old memes, and wish to 'go it alone', not working together with others to 'Build a Better Tomorrow', as RE often says in his Tag Lines.  You and me are rare breeds I think, unfortunately, thinking about the fate of others as we plan for ourselves.  Most people brought up in the acquisition culture of the Industrial Civilization cannot grasp this, and desperately hold onto their meme of Private Ownership of property."

"A direct road isn't really necessary right now though, the surrounding roads are not too bad, although the road up to your property is not being maintained these days.  In the future, after TSHTF, we can maybe build a more direct route. It would be a big project in any event to even make it passable for my Polaris Ranger EV.  We would need to build a couple of bridges and do quite a bit of earth moving too."  Karl concluded.

Construction of the Picnic Table went pretty quickly, just a matter of bolting together the 2X4s for the most part for the table top and benches, just using the stock 8' length for both.  About the only thing the least bit tricky was cutting the 45 degree angles for the X-pattern legs, which just took a quick line from a protractor to do.

After finishing the table, Karl and Kenny took a walk around the property looking for the best spot to excavate the Walipini.  Kenny used the opportunity of the exploration to bring up Kirsten.

"Karl, I have a little problem.  On Friday before I drove up this weekend I met someone who I know from High School.  We are supposed to go camping next weekend together and I am not sure if I should bring her to my property or not. Karen is also supposed to be coming up next weekend and I want to see her too."

Karl let out a belly laugh.  "Did you ever have to make up your mind?", he said, quoting the title of an old song from the Lovin' Spoonful written by John Sebastian Kenny had never heard.  "Man am I glad I left that shit behind, it can drive you insane."

Keny nodded. "No shit.  First in High School I couldn't get a date to save my life, now there seem to be females everywhere.  It's driving me nuts."

"No worries Kenny, you only have about another 40 years or so of being driven crazy by this problem." Karl said with a grin. "Once you hit your 60s it calms down some, although some guys never escape it."

"Only 40 more years to go?  Shit, we'll probably be extinct by then!  I'll never get any peace!" Kenny said semi-sarcastically.

"Life sucks, and then you die.", Karl remarked philosophically.  "Far as it goes, I'd love to see you hook up with Karen, but far be it from me to get in the middle of anyone else's love life, that's even worse than managing your own.  You'll have to figure that one out for yourself."

"Gee, thanks Karl, you're a fountain of wisdom." Kenny remarked sarcastically.  "What about the other problem though, should I bring her up here, or maybe just go over to Lolo National Forest and do some camping there without telling her about the property?"

Karl gave this some thought for a bit as they reached a nice portion of the property that had a slope facing to the south for excavating the Walipini.

"Probably not a good idea yet to bring her over here, until you are more sure of where you are going with it.  You could bring her to the Lean-To though, and Karen and I can meet you there.  Then you can really experience torture trying to make up your mind." Karl remarked.

"Great!  Another fucking pearl of wisdom from the wise Guru! Kenny remarked with an eye roll.

Karl pursed his lips. "Personally, I think it would be rather humorous."

"For YOU maybe!" Kenny replied.

Karl shrugged.  "It's your problem, not my problem.  Now, what do you think of this spot for the Walipini?  Good southern exposure, nice slope to cut into."

Kenny let go of the discussion about the females.  Karl was obvious not going to be of any help, and actually seemed to enjoy his suffering.  He vowed to himself to get revenge on Karl for this someday.  He'd find a female to sic on Karl to invite to the community!  He couldn't be as immune to the attraction as he made himself out to be!  That would serve him right!  Kenny satisfied himself with this nefarious plan and got back to discussing the Walipini.

"Yea, this looks pretty good, although it's a lot of trees to cut down.", Kenny remarked with sadness.

Karl shrugged.  "The trees are no more permanent than you or me, and someday after we're gone new ones will grow in their place, or maybe they won't if the climate change gets bad enough.  Meanwhile, if we're going to grow enough food beyond what we can hunt and gather out of Lolo for a full community of people, we're going to need more than just my raised beds and greenhouse garden."

Kenny nodded in understanding.  "Yea, that's true.  Sure will be plenty of wood for the next couple of years for cooking and heating and campfires.  Lotta wood splitting to do."

"No worries on the splitting Kenny, I have a Champion Hydraulic Wood Splitter for this.  I quit on splitting with an axe and wedges when I hit 60."

Kenny still had trouble believing Karl was 66.  Other than his complaints about arthritis in his knees, he was even bigger and more robust than his daughter, maybe 6'3" and 220 lbs.  He looked to Kenny to be in his mid 50s.

"A hydraulic splitter will certainly make that job easier.", Kenny remarked.  "We'll need to get it over here though to get the job done."

"No problem there, I can drag it over with the pickup, it's on wheels.  Once we cut the trees into sections, Mr Ed and Quick Draw can pull them over to the splitter back in your campsite area."

"That works.", Kenny replied.  It was getting late in the day and the sun was beginning to set, so the two friends walked back to the campsite to get in Kenny's van and head back over to Karl's place for dinner of some Smoked Trout from Karl's freezer, honey glazed peas and carrots from his garden and from his bee hives and butter from the goat's milk.  They spent a couple of hours surfing the internet for Doom Newz, beginining with the Doomstead Diner, where the regulars were all napalming each other as usual.  They spent time together composing up a PM to to send to RE once Kenny got back to Missoula and could use an anonyomous connection to the internet.

"Greetings RE!

I have been a lurker on the Diner almost since you began it in 2012.  I am a regular reader, and get many of my ideas from your website.

Currently, together with a friend we have a large property in the lower 48 we would like to get a SUN☼ Community going on when TSHTF.  However, we are highly concerned about security and about simply inviting people to the place now, which would make it too widely known.  We estimate our possible carrying capacity for our land to be about 200 people, although it could be substantially more since the properties are adjacent to a large National Forest.

Do you have any suggestions on how we might find some people, but not necessarily give them the location of the Doomstead at this time?

KennyK"

Brazil & the Bloodied BRICS

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February 12, 2017

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/BRICS_leaders_meet_on_the_sidelines_of_2016_G20_Summit_in_China.jpg

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Just going back a few years, the "BRICS" were all the rage as the next great Superpower conglomeration.  BRICS stood for Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa.

3 of them Brazil, India and South Africa also fit in the category of "Emerging Markets", and EMs were where all the Hot Money was flowing for investment during the period, seeking high yields and return on investment.

What could be more perfect, right?  Great resource availability and populations willing to work at low wages to supply industrial products to the world!  Not to mention Russia & China as large military powers with the capability of making a good fight with the FSoA if challenged!  Even if they don't have the aircraft carriers the FSoA has, they have Nuke ICBMs, and they have cruise missiles capable of sending any FSoA Carrier Group to the bottom of Davey Jones Locker.  The Chinese field a 1 Million Man Standing Army.  Lotta potential Boots on the Ground there!

So a lot of betting went down that this group of Nation-States was going to make a serious challenge to the European and Anglo-Amerikan hegemony over the industrial economy, not to mention the Bankstering system which runs it. Even to this day, you have some pundits like Pepe Escobar claiming the Chinese are going to build a "New Silk Road" that will bring the BRICS to ascendancy as the inheritors of the failed policies of the Western Europeans and Anglo-Amerikans.

Unfortunately, something went wrong along the way here, and precisely the opposite has occured or is occuring as I write this article.  What fucked up in the BRICS master plan?

To begin with, it was a typical financialized bubble.  Beyond that, you have countries here with Goobermints that are corrupt beyond belief, it's possible they are all more corrupt than the FSoA Goobermint, although of course that is hard to imagine.  To top it all off, you have the issue that even if said countries have energy resources left like Brazil and Russia do, you have populations that cannot afford to buy those energy resources and retire the debts incurred by the extractors of the energy.

http://www.usfunds.com/media/images/frank-talk-images/2016_ft/Jul-Dec/overnight-indian-prime-minister-narendra-modi-killed-90-nations-currency-12-2016.jpg India already jumped off the cliff with the demonetization of the biggest Rupee notes by His Modiness, which sent the entire economy into a tailspin.  Not to mention the fact it further impoverished already impoverished people, and as bad as their farmer suicide problem was before this, one has to figure it has been worse since.  A VAST number of Indians have no bank account, or even Goobermint ID.  For them, it's entirely a Cash Economy, and no Cash, no Economy.

This of course does not even touch on the Climate and Environment problems the Indians have, or their Energy problems or population overshoot problems.  Then they have the constant battle with the Pakistanis, so overall the place is a complete fucking mess.  They may even start exchanging Nukes with the Pakis, since they both got 'em

Moving down to South Africa, they probably have the worst problems with drought of any of the BRICS, although Brazil is not doing too well with this problem either.  Besides that is the perpetual racial divide problem of South Africa and the fact that its entire economy is a mineral resource extraction economy, and globally nobody is paying much for resources, because the Konsumers of the resources are running out of money to buy them with.  Well, except for the filthy rich who are still buying some Diamonds at Tiffany's, but unfortunately there aren't enough filthy rich to fund an entire economy this way.  Tiffany's isn't doing too good either, they just fired their CEO.

Doing slightly better than these two locations are the Middle Kingdom of China and Mother Russia, but not by all that much plus Newz doesn't really escape well from either Nation-State, so you can't be entirely sure of WTF is going on there.  In Mother Russia, one of Vlad the Impaler's political opponents recently went to the Great Beyond, apparently resultant from Poisoning.  Another one, Alexander Navalny who was a Blogger so I like him 🙂 was convicted of some kind of felony so is no longer eligible to run against Vlad to run Mother Russia. He was probably the only opponent of Vlad who stood some chance of beating him, at least in popular voting.  The Ruskies do have some cheap Oil left though, and their population is not too large given the land mass available there.  On the other hand they have NATO troops massing on their borders, not a good sign.

Of all the BRICS, the Chinese have weathered the storm the best so far, but by no means does this presage a rosy future for them.  In fact the Chinese are TOAST, and are in worse shape than everyone in the BRICS except perhaps the Indians.  Reason of course is Population Overshoot, but by no means is that their only problem.  They've blown a Credit Bubble that makes the one Da Fed blew up look like Child's Balloon next to the Hindenburg.  Forget about not drinking the water, half of it is not even fit for human contact!  You can't walk outside in Beijing without at least a surgical mask on, but really you need a full blown activated charcoal gas mask or better yet a SCUBA tank.  This is not a recipe for a bright future for the Chinese.

However, of all the BRICS, the one in the WORST shape right now and is clearly exeriencing a FAST COLLAPSE is Brazil.  Their economy is in complete collapse, corruption is systemic and now they are losing control of the social structure as well.

In the state of Espirito Santo which borders on the state of Rio de Janeiro which is home to the city of Rio, Corcovado (the big Christ statue on the mountain) and numerous Favelas (slums), the Military Police recently went on strike because…they weren't getting PAID!  Big fucking surprise, who is going to work at anything if you don't get your paycheck at the end of the week?

Problem for these cops of course is that just like under Amerikan Law, Strikes of "publicly essential personnel" are ILLEGAL!  So even if you're not getting paid, you're supposed to KEEP WORKING!  Does this sound like SLAVERY to you?  It does to me.

Since these cops are MILITARY cops, one suspects they can't even quit either until whenever their enlistment in the military runs out.  Not that they would quit anyhow, because in all likelihood there are no other jobs for them to take in the neighborhood.  So they got a bit creative here on this one, and instead of the cops themselves not showing up for work, their families went out and blockaded the stations, so the cops could not go out on patrol.  Of course, they had the option of possibly Arresting their own families for "obstruction of justice", but who is going to go out and arrest their own wives, kids, fathers and mothers, or shoot them?  Not gonna happen.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/cee9e57924da473fc287876b61e1fe4a7691ecd1/0_163_5000_3000/master/5000.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=6dca5670e4f694a61b2948765d4f87b9 So in the wake of this absence of cops on the streets of Vitoria (the capital of Espirito Santo), the population at large took the opportunity to go an a rampage of looting, raping and killing.  There is of course a large population of people living the criminal life in Brazil, because there are no opportunties for them in the "legitimate" world.  They deal drugs, they steal, they kill people.  It's like Chicago on Steroids and much larger.  Its not like everyone is a criminal, but without a police presence, it's "Criminals Gone Wild".

So Da Goobernator of Espirito Santo asks for help from Da Federal Gobermint, and they promise to do "watever it takes" to restore order and send in the Military to replace the cops on the streets.  Except how many do they send in?  A Big 200 soldiers to police a city of 2M people!  That is 1 for every 10,000.  Even only 1% of those 10K are criminals, that is still a 100:1 ratio!  However, in this situation it's probably more than 1%, since many normally law abiding type citizens will take the opportunity to go loot the local grocery or Iphone store.

Normally, they put out on the street 1800 cops, so to do the same job you would need around the same number of soldiers.  So now you have to pay the soldiers instead of the cops, and Da Federal Goobermint of Brazil is in no better position to do that than the states are, they are BROKE also!

Even if they could field enough paid soldiers to go in there to restore order, Vitoria and Espirito Santo as a whole is a relatively small state in Brazil.  What happens when the same thing occurs in Rio De Janeiro or Sao Paolo or Brasilia?  Sao Paolo has something like 20M people now, that by itself is an order of magnitude larger than Vitoria.  What is to stop this from spreading to Sao Paolo?  They are broke too, and besides that running short on water and the money to run their sewage treatment plants, garbage collection etc.  It's not just cops not getting their paychecks, just about all the public workers are seeing wages withheld because Da Goobermint doesn't have the money to pay them.

Unlike the FSoA (also broke), the Brazilleiros cannot just issue infinite debt and have it recognized as worth anything.  They have gone through NUMEROUS periods of Hyperinflation, and they are trying to avoid that problem with "austerity", but austerity means people either are paid to little to live on or not paid at all.  Jobs are cut, pensions are cut and you get a downhill spiral as people have no money to spend in the economy.  They can't afford to buy enough food to feed their kids.  At this point, they get desperate, and take desperate measures.  That is what the cops in Espirito Santo are doing.

http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/man-walks-on-dry-cracked-earth-where-water-usually-stands-at-the-picture-id467643149 The problem here of course is that like many other resource based economies, the Brazilleiros are running short on resources people around the globe can afford to buy at the prices they cost to extract.  There are some big oil fields in deep water off the coast of Brazil, but their own state company of Petrobras is broke, and oil majors like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are not going to put up debt money to drill these fields, because there is no profit in it.  These companies are already bleeding red ink on properties they are drilling here in the FSoA, and beyond that there is an oil GLUT due to collapsing demand around the world.  So the Brazilians will not be saved by the Oil underneath the ocean floor surrounding them.

It's only a matter of time before the chaos in Espirito Santo spreads to the rest of Brazil.  How much time?  Then from there it spreads to other SA countries dependent on resource exports, and the chaos grows.  Then it makes it to Mexico, then it migrates across the border to the FSoA.  How long will that take?  Timeline, Timeline, Timeline.  Like Location, Location, Location in the world of Real Estate, that's always the question, not what the final outcome is.

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 14

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 8, 2017

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Waiting for the bus out of town in Portland was nerve racking for Kensoto, but buying the ticket went smoothly and the clerk only glanced at the fake driver's license that Kim had forged, using an Atlanta address and the Georgia format.  The license wouldn't do him any good if he was driving and pulled over by a Trooper and it was checked against the Georgia database, but for typical tasks like buying bus tickets, beer or a cheap motel room, it was just fine.

Once on the bus, he blended in well, most of the other passengers were either Black or Latino, with just a few White Trash sprinkled in.  Bus travel was the main transport for the underclass, particularly for undocumented migrants.  Once in Los Angeles, he once again had a wait for the next bus heading for Denver, and after buying his ticket he elected not to wait in the Bus Station, where he might be accosted by a Gestapo agent.  He left the station and took a local bus over to a movie theater to catch a film, and then to a Wendy's for a meal.  He headed back to the bus station about 20 minutes before the bus was due to depart, and once again had no issues.  Listening to the news reports on the Radio, there was nothing about the shootings in Missoula on the National Newz as of yet, so he began to calm down and was able to get some shut-eye on the bus to Denver.

From there it was on to Indianapolis, then Pittsburgh and finally on to Atlanta.  He was pretty exhausted after all the days of travel trying to sleep in the bus seats, but dragged himself over to a library where he finally turned on his secure smartphone and laptop to get on the internet and fire off an encrypted message to Kim via the Iceland server that he had made it to Atlanta safely.  Kim fired back a message with a couple of names and addresses of relatives that Kensoto's parents had furnished him, and let him know there was ongoing investigation of the shoot-em-up, but so far the Terminators had not been rousted.

Rather than calling his relatives looking like a disheveled mess, even though it was slightly risky Kensoto elected to take a Bates Motel Room in a Motel 6 where Tom Burdett had left the light on for him, and a few cockroaches also.  Still, the bed was fairly comfortable and did not seem to be infested with bed bugs, and he needed a good night's sleep and a shower.  He stopped at Walmart on the way to the motel and bought a couple of changes of clothes and an airline size carry-on Wheely bag to supplement the small Bugout Bag Backpack he had travelled with.

After checking in, Kensoto took a quick shower and changed into one of the fresh sets of clothes purchased at Walmart.  Then over to the Bates Motel laundry to wash the clothes he had been sleeping in for the last week, which were pretty stinky by this point.  While the clothes were in the washer, he took a walk across the street to the Popeye's Fried Chicken and bought a 5 piece Spicy Chicken Tenders dinner with  a side of Red Bean & Rice and 2 Jalapeno Peppers and a large Coke as takeout.  Returning back to the motel and almost getting run over by a bus trying to cross the 4 lane secondary road, he dropped off his food in the room and then went over to the laudry room to shift his clothes into the dryer, depositing another dozen Quarters into the slots to get that running.

Returning back to his room, Kensoto flipped on the TV to see if he could find anything to watch while consuming the Popeye's meal, but after futiley punching through more than 100 channels, the best he could do was an Infomercial on Weight Loss featuring some skinny girls doing Yoga.  So he left it on that while eating, then went back to collect his now industrially cleaned and dried clothing and folded it then packed it into the recently purchased wheely bag from Walmart, so it would be ready to go the following morning.

Morning came and he felt reasonably refreshed after a shower and a couple of cups of pretty thin Motel 6 Coffee.  Prior to Check Out at Noon from the Motel 6, he gave his cousin Mohammed a call, to see if they could get together.

"Mohammed!  Guess who?" Kensoto asked when Mohammed answered the call on his Iphone.  Kensoto hadn't seen Mohammed since grade school in West Africa, so he wasn't entirely sure he would remember him.

"No idea.  Who?", Mohammed inquired suspiciously.  The caller did know his name though, so it probably wasn't a Bot Call.

"It's Kensoto!  Your cousin!  I'm in Atlanta!"

"Kensoto?  Really?  I thought you were in Montana, at least that is what my mom & dad told me."

"It's a long story.  Can you meet me this evening for dinner?"

"Sure!  Why don't you come over to the house?  Mom & Dad would love to see you!"

"Uhhh, no not yet." Kensoto said carefully.  "I have some stuff to talk over with you first."

Mohammed sensed immediately that Kensoto was in some trouble.  "Trouble" was a regular feature of life for everyone in the West African community in Atlanta.

"Oh, OK.  I work in the warehouse district here as a Lumper.  I did 2 years at the Community College to get all my pre-requisites for a major in Nursing Science and maintained a 4.0 average, but there is a 2 year waiting list to matriculate into the Nursing Major.  So I am living at home with my parents for now and just taking what jobs I can get. There's a Bar & Grill near here called Casey's that serves up a decent steak.  Is 6PM OK?  Do you want the address?"

"6 is good.  I will find it on the Internet, I don't need the address.  I'll see you tonight".

"OK, sounds good." Mohammed replied.

Although it would have been easier to just have Mohammed text him the address, Kensoto wanted as little information stored on servers and his smart phone as possible.  Although the audio was likely recorded and stored, it was more difficult to search with bots.  Besides that, as of yet neither he nor Mohammed appeared to be on any Radar over the shootings in Missoula.  So it still seemed pretty safe to communicate this way, although once he got together with Mohammed he would advise him on how to send encrypted mesages over the SMS network using GPG4USB 256 bit encoding.

After checking out of the Bates Motel, Kensoto killed time until dinner by heading over to the Public Library and signing on to their Wi-Fi with his secure laptop.  Searching on Google revealed that Casey's was on the other side of town and would take at least an hour to get there on the bus system.  He still was not too encumbered with gear though, just his Bugout Bag Backpack and the recently purchased Wheely Bag for additional clothing.

Kensoto made it to Casey's just a little late, there had been a considerable amount of traffic and the bus trip went slower than he had expected. He was used to Missoula traffic and distances, and Atlanta was another bear entirely, so his estimates of time were off.  When he finally made it to Casey's around 20 minutes late, Mohammed recognized him immediately and waved him over to his table, where he was passing the time sipping on a 24 oz Sam Adams Boston Lager from the tap and an appetizer of Fried Onion Rings.

"Damn Kensoto, I thought you were NEVER going to get here!  It's great to see you!"

"Great to see you too, Mohammed", Kensoto said with a genuine smile of relief, giving his cousin a big hug.  "It's been a trial.  I could really use a beer here."

The two cousins sat down at the table, and Kensoto ordered a Foster's Lager from the tap, and munched out on one of the Onion Rings on the stand on the table.

"So WTF is going on Kensoto?  Why all the secrecy?

"Big shit went down in my neighborhood, I got caught in the crossfire.  I had to GTFO of Dodge in a hurry.  I just was in the wrong place at the wrong time, on the way to meeting up with my friends.  There was a big shooting match between two gangs and I got hit by a stray bullet.  I'm down here laying low until it hopefully dies down.  I'm not implicated at all as of yet."

"Shit, that is bad." Mohammed nodded.  "How long are you going to stay down here for?"

"Hopefully only a month or two.  I have enough money to get by.  Not sure what I am going to do for housing yet though."

Mohammed pondered for a bit.  "Well, it's probably not a good idea to come stay with us.  If you do get implicated, they'll be checking into all your relatives, and we all came over at the same time."

"Yea, I thought of that.  That's why I didn't want to meet at your parent's place.  My phone is pretty safe, the account is anonymous, but it's still a good idea to use encryption in all communications.  Do you know how to use GPG4USB 256 bit encryption?"

"Uhhh, no.  I've never had anything that serious I was worried about being read."

Kensoto took some time to explain how Public and Private Keys work, and then how to install the software on his computer for encrypting messages.  They ordered a couple of NY Strip Steaks and Potato Skins for dinner while working out their communications protocols.

Finishing off his steak, Mohammed got back to the housing problem.

"It's probably OK for you to come over to stay the night at our place.  If you get implicated later and somebody sees you, we can just say you stopped in but we haven't seen you since.  I'll call some friends tonight to see if I can find someone you can Couch Surf with.  If you can contribute to the rent, it will be easier."

"I can easily contribute $500/mo for a good spot to sleep for at least the next 2 months", Kensoto replied.

"Oh, that's a lot.  I don't think so much will be necessary just for a couch spot.  $200 is probably enough."

"Important here is not to reveal my real identity.  My forged Georgia Driver's License says my name is Ibrahim, not Kensoto.  You should always refer to me as Ibrahim now, not Kensoto with anyone.", Kensoto advised.

"Yes, understood 'Ibrahim'.", Mohammed said with a wink.

With the plans settled for the evening, they ordered desert, Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Kensoto picked up the whole tab courtesy of the cash the Terminators dropped on him to make his escape from Missoula and the clusterfuck of the shootings at the 7-11.

After dinner they headed back to Mohammed's parent's house, where he had set up in the basement and his parents were providing him with free rent.  Upon arriving, Mohammed's mother's eyes lit up in happiness.

"Kensoto!  You made it!  Your mom called me and told us what happened. You are welcome to stay with us as long as you need to."

"No mom, Kensoto and I talked about this already.  It's not safe for him or for us to stay here.  This will be one of the first places the Gestapo come looking for Kensoto if he gets implicated in the shootings.  I am going to find some friends he can couch surf with for the time being."

Adding to this security precaution, Kensoto gave more advice.

"Also, don't talk with my parents anymore on your cell phone.  Let's just communicate through the secure channels that Kim has set up for this.  No emails either."

"OK, I guess that is a good idea." Mohammed's mom replied. "This is so tragic!" she said, bursting into tears.

"Well, hopefully it is temporary and this will blow over in a couple of months." Kensoto replied, felling guilty he had worried her so much.

"Yes, I' sure it will.", she replied without much conviction, but managing a weak smile.  "Meanwhile, are you hungry?", she asked.

"Oh no, Mohammed and I went out to dinner.  I'm stuffed.  Looking forward to a good breakfast though tomorrow morning!  I've eaten enough Egg McMuffins for the last week to last a lifetime!", Kensoto declared with a laugh.

"I will make the best breakfast EVER tomorrow morning Kensoto.", Mohammed's mom promised with a smile.

Kensoto and Mohammed headed downstairs to the basement of the McMansion where Mohammed had his digs, and lit up some Ganga to mellow out.  Then Mohammed began calling friends to find a couch for Kensoto to sleep on, while Kensoto played Grand Theft Auto V on the X-Box on the Big Screen OLED TV Mohammed got hot from one of his lumper friends at the warehouse.  After about the 5th phone call and Kensoto had blown away a few dozen bad guys on GTA5, Mohammed finally located a couch at a reasonable price of $300/mo with 5 other guys in a McHovel across town on the wrong side of the tracks renting out at $1500/mo, less utilities.

"I'm going to need some transportation to get around town, Mohammed.  Can we stop by Walmart tomorrow before you drop me off to pick up a bicycle and bike trailer?" Kensoto asked.

"Yea sure.  We'll need to get up pretty early though, because I need to be on the docks at 8am if I am going to get at least 2 truckloads to unload for the day.  I'll tell mom we'll need breakfast for 6am."

Mohammed headed upstairs to inform his mom on the early wake up call time, and Kensoto rolled one more splif for the night before sack time.  The two cousins shared some memories of childhood in West Africa, and recounted some of their experiences since making the migration to the FSoA, then hit the hay for another sunrise in the morning, and new adventures in their lives.

 

Collapse Days of Our Lives

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February 5, 2017

 

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In my New Year's recap article I covered the recent accomplishments on the Diner in terms of growing the readership base, as well as other notable activities like the SUN Convocation held down in Inman, SC in conjunction with their Harvest Day Festival.

This month marks an even more notable date, it is the 5th Anniversary of the Doomstead Diner Blog & Forum.  Keeping a blog going this long on the topics of collapse and trying to stay fresh with new material every day to read is something of a chore, although for me it has the benefit of keeping me bizzy and keeping my mind active.

Many of the other Bloggers I used to cross post are either not active at all anymore, or they post very rarely.  For instance, the last blog from Tom Lewis of the Daily Impact was in October of 2016.  The last blog Steve Ludlum published on Economic Undertow was a month ago in December 2016 (update: Steve just posted a blog!) and same for Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slaves.  Ugo Bardi of Cassandra's Legacy still publishes regularly at least once a week and so does Albert Bates of Peak Surfer.

I also dropped some folks from the list of those I will cross post, either because of disagreements  with them or simply because their posting has become so repetitive.  The disagreements for the most part come over the question of Near Term Human Extinction, and the degree to which some bloggers have now joined with Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last on the Hopelessness & Despair Bandwagon.  There also are some bloggers as well as people in the commentariat who have become so obsessed with the Climate aspect of collapse it's all they will talk about to the exclusion of all other areas of collapse we have to deal with, most notably Economics, Energy and Geopolitics.

While the climate issue is no doubt quite bad and getting worse, in reality even with very rapid change accelerating up, it's not the proximal problem we have to face.  Our economic system is so unstable at this point it could literally collapse any day, and the length of time it takes for it to go completely down the toilet could be measured in days or even hours.  While climate may certainly be a more serious problem in 5 or 10 years, it's not that way right now.

Similarly, Geopolitical tensions are at an all time high as Nationalist (Fascist) politicians like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and Frauke Petry gain further power, and tensions between NATO and Russia and the FSoA and China become more extreme by the day.  A Global Thermonuclear War is not out of the question as starting up any day either, particularly since there are some neo-con jackasses in the FSoA Goobermint who think such a thing is winnable.  If they start pitching out the Nukes, Sea Level Rise is going to be among the last of your worries.

Looked at as a Health problem, it's like having 3 diseases all at the same time, you have a slowly developing cancer tumor, you have pneumonia and you have a faulty valve in your heart.  The cancer will take a while to kill you, but the pneumonia will get you first if you don't get rid of it, and until you get rid of that you can't go in for the heart valve operation you need to keep your ticker working.  Only once the two proximal problems are resolved is the cancer really an issue.

So here on the Diner in my own blogging, I still mainly focus on the Economic issues which are what brought me into blogging collapse in the first place.  Surly mainly focuses on Geopolitical issues, as you can see in his Yearly recap article this year.  We also have other Native Diner Bloggers such as Eddie, Monsta, Palloy, Geoff Chia and K-dog who have their own issues they focus on, from the Stock Market and Investment to Standing Rock, Cyber Security and Tiny Homes.  In fact the one area we do not cover that regularly on the Blog is the Climate issue, because that issue is being beaten to death on so many other blogs.  That is not to say that Climate is not a regular topic for discussion Inside the Diner on the Forum, it most certainly is.

Another issue with respect to Climate Change is really at this point there is not much the individual can do to prevent it.  In fact it is unlikely even entire Goobermints could prevent it at this point, even if they all worked together in concert, and that's not going to happen.  What the individual CAN DO though is to prepare for Climate Change, in general by moving away from neighborhoods most subject to the worst problems like Drought and regular Flooding events in coastal areas coming from the combination of sea level rise and more active and volatile weather systems.  You can also work on becoming more food self sufficient, using techniques like Hydroponics and Aquaculture which are water and fertilizer conservative and more resistant to climate change than typical outdoor agriculture.

If you are a Religious Believer in Near Term Human Extinction, the tendency is toward inaction, because, why bother?  In your mind, EVERYBODY is gonna DIE anyhow, and doing all these things at best only gets you a couple of extra years, and do you want to live when everyone around you is dieing?

First of all, without a Crystal Ball you can't really make an absolute prediction on how long it will take before the climate is so bad everywhere that ZERO Homo Saps can survive on the Planet.  In the super rapid worst case scenarios of positive feedback loops that Guy McPherson pitches out, he's got everybody dead by 2025 now, which is HIGHLY unlikely.  More reasonable fast extinction scenarios are in the 50-100 year range, and if it takes that long and you want to see a few extra sunrises, it's a wise idea to begin planning for this now.

It's also not guaranteed that NOBODY can survive ANYWHERE, even with a Global Average Temperature rise of 10C, which is about as hot as it ever gets on Earth no matter how much CO2 is up in the atmosphere.  In all the prior 5 Extinction Level Events not ALL forms of life were killed off, if they were we would not be here today and I would not be keyboarding out this blog post. lol.  Who is to say that some Homo Sap cannot survive a higher AGT regime, particularly if they move to higher latitudes and altitudes?  Granted, it may not be many, but it's still not extinction until every last member of the species is DEAD.

On other 5 Year Anniversary topics, the Diner has seen many changes and ups and downs over the years, with the first Peak Readership coming in 2014, but now beginning to grow again.  The membership of regular Diners also fluctuates quite a bit, with various Diners taking periodic "Walkabouts" when they get too fed up with other Diners or discussing Collapse on a daily basis gets too depressing for them.  I don't have the luxury of going Walkabout, since besides blogging I do most of the daily management tasks on the Diner and I also pay the Diner bills.  So when I lose patience with other Diners I basically just gotta deal with it, as long as I want to keep this chronicle of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization going anyhow.

Which leads to the question of DO I want to do that?  There have been a couple of times in the last year I really became completely fed up with nonsense being pitched out across the forum pages and the behavior of some Diners.  I ended up Banning a Diner permanently, something I never hoped I would have to do.  I had other Diners I value as friends both in cyberspace and IRL getting pissed off at ME for stuff I said and opinions I hold.  There's a lot of fatigue involved here, and besides that just about everything has been discussed, analyzed and talked to death over a 5 year timespan.  I have 100s of blogs up and detailed my economic theories at great length.  I can usually still find things to write about though, I started a Collapse Novel How I Survived the Collapse as one means to have more to write each week.  Fiction is inexhaustible, as long as you have a decent imagination anyhow.

A couple of months ago after one disagreement I determined that I would close down the Diner Forum on the 5th Anniversary, and just run the Blog to publish the HISC Novel, and maybe any non-fiction of late breaking Collapse Newz that was big enough to merit attention.  These days, there's only around 10-15 regular Diners posting up on the forum and it's never been that huge, even at the peak of Diner Readership in 2014.  Forums appear to have been supplanted by Social Media like Facepalm and Twitshit as the Go-To places for people to chat with friends and not so friends interested in similar topics to themselves.  I don't like either one of those platforms, so I wouldn't switch over to them in any case.

So if I did shut down the forum, I really would not have any place to go chat about collapse and write my own little diary of stuff that happens to me but really isn't worthy of a full blog.  Like my recent problems with my car batteries and with the heat going out in my digs (although that might actually be worthy of a full blog).  For the Diners who still do participate on the forum also, it becomes kind of habitual to see what's up, and we trade Newz Links all the time on the newz channels, although not nearly as much anymore as we used to when we had some prolific Newz Linkers like Knarf, the Buddhist Monk participating.  Still, the newz articles that are dropped on are usually very well selected and not ones I may have run across during my own web surfing time.  So I get additional information and perspectives on collapse this way.

For Newz Links now I also run the r/globalcollapse Sub-Reddit, and I participate regularly on the larger collapse sub, r/collapse.  However, as discussion platforms go, Reddit isn't much better than Facepalm, and it's definitely no substitute for the kind of intelligent and in depth discussion we still occassionally engage in Inside the Diner on the Forum.

So after considering all of this, I changed my mind and I will keep the Diner Forum running along with the Blog.  For the Diners who still do drop in regularly, it's still a great place to catch up on the latest Collapse Events and to do some bickering. lol.

5 Years is a pretty good run for a blog, especially one where you try to have something new up each day and write yourself at least once a week.  In the old days, TV Series used to have an average lifespan of around 3-5 years, although you got a few like Gunsmoke and MASH that ran for 20 years.  On the Daily level, it's more like a Soap Opera, which had to be a real grind for both the writers and the actors.  Days of Our Lives has run continuously nearly every day since 1965!  That's over a half a century!

The Diner of course is unlikely to last 45 more years.  I definitely won't last 45 more years anyhow, and the Internet itself unlikely to last 45 more years.  In the meantime though, Collapse Days of Our Lives is renewed for another season at the URL DoomsteadDiner.net.

The Diner Show Must Go On!

Thanks again to all the Diners who have helped make the Diner what it is…

#1 for Doom on the Net! 🙂

RE Superstar of Doom

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 13

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Published on The Doomstead Diner February 2, 2017

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Karl & Karen got Mr. Ed and Quick Draw saddled up, and Kenny attached the custom trailer that Karl had built for the ZEV off road scooter, throwing in some supplies and tools he had brought with him in his own trailer.

While he had built the original structure of the Lean-To out of all local and natural materials and stone tools he made himself, Kenny wasn't a slave to being a primitivist rewilder.  Mainly he was just practicing his skills.  He decided he would finish it off with the help of Industrial tools and products, purchased at Home Depot.  As long as the place was there and up and running, it only made CFS (Common Fucking Sense) to use the stuff while he could still get it.  Making lashings out of strips of bark worked fine, but Zip Ties would be a lot faster!  Hacking down a sapling with a stone axe wasn't that hard, but it would go faster, easier and neater using his Li-I battery powered Ryobi Reciprocating Saw, Circular Saw and Drill.  Those went in the trailer too, along with some extra batteries, a few assorted hand tools and some hardware.

Kenny pulled the ZEV up next to the paddock, and Karl and Karen soon joined him mounted on Mr. Ed and Quick Draw.  Both were sturdy quarter horses bred for work and pulling loads rather than great speed.  Huckleberry had been running back and forth between Quick Draw and Mr. Ed the whole time they were saddling up, and the animals had quickly become fast friends.  Huckleberry decided quickly that both horses were clearly friends of Karen, and so needed her protection too. Huckleberry would not let anyone threaten Karen or her friends, if they did, they would see the other side of Huckleberry, the MEAN side that would take no prisoners.  She would protect them as though they were her own puppies, and any assailants would regret the day they were ever born when the jaws of the big Siberian Husky closed around the soft neck and sent them to the Great Beyond.

"OK! Let's get on the Trail!", Karl said gleefully.  He couldn't wait to see Kenny's reaction when he saw the improvements he had made to the Lean-To.  Also, just the experience of being out on a beautiful spring day in the Montana Mountains on Mr. Ed together with his DAUGHTER (he still had trouble believing this) and a Prepper and fellow Diner Lurker was enough to make him positively gleeful.  He could almost forget that Industrial Civilization was collapsing all around them and all days in the future would not be so wonderful as this one.  However, he was alive at this moment, not in the future, and this day was one he would store in his memory bank to help make it through the tough days coming down the pipe.

Kenny pulled out his Magellan GPS to plot out the route to the lean-to, but Karl waved him off.

"No need for the GPS Kenny, I know how to get there from here.  I know that location you pointed out on Google Earth."

Kenny shook his head in disbelief.  Karl knew the territory so well that one look at Google Earth and he knew how to get there, without a GPS or even using a compass?

"You can guide from here to there without a GPS or even a compass Karl?  That's amazing!"

"I've been living up here for 40 years Kenny.  There isn't a square inch of this territory I haven't walked or ridden over at some point, and that spot is a regular one for me.  It's a great position for spotting Big Horn, you chose it well."

Kenny flushed with pride at the compliment from Karl.  He had hiked around quite a while to find that spot, which both had good visibility for around 270 degrees and enough dwarf size trees to give the Lean-to some protection from the wind.  He crossed his fingers that the structure was still up, there had been some decent T-storms since he last visited it, and it would be depressing and a lot of work to reconstruct if it was knocked down.  Not to mention embarassing in front of Karen, who was starting to get his hormones flowing as he looked at her sitting comfortably and in control of Quick Draw.  Quick Draw was a magnificent specimen of the American Quarter Horse breed, standing over 16 hands tall and weighing close to half a ton.  Karen herself was close to 6 feet tall and her years of whitewater kayaking gave her an upper body physique that most men could only dream of having, powerful shoulders and biceps that rippled with the muscle sinew.  While Quick Draw was a great quarter horse though, Karen was even MORE appealing!

Karl had been a little dishonest with Kenny, in reality he probably could not have routed there without GPS or compass had he not spent a few weeks travelling back and forth there every day to spruce up the Lean-To.  But he wanted to surprise Kenny with that, and he also didn't want to waste time with the stupid routing of the GPS, which didn't account for terrain features that the ZEV off road scooter could handle, or even some spots the horses could not traverse.  He had to ride the route several times before he could find a decent enough trail where he could get within 500 vertical feet of the lean-to on Mr. Ed pulling a travois.  Those last 500' were the toughest for Karl, his knees were not too happy about climbing these days.

Karl led the Convoy across the back country, although Huckleberry often went scooting out in front to make sure the trail was clear of other predators, doing Recon for the patrol.  Kenny had some trouble riding the scooter slow enough to stay behind the horses, and occassionally had to drop his feet down and slide them along the dirt and grass to keep balanced.   While the scooter had nice knobby tires that gave good traction, it really wasn't designed or capable of making transitions over big obstacles, high grades or cliff faces or even streams with water depth much over 6".  Like all wheeled vehicles, they are only really functional on flat ground, preferably with Roads designed for their travel.  Thus in really mountainous areas, wheeled vehicles never were developed, even after the development of metallurgy necessary for durable wheels, hubs and axles.

What did strike Kenny as curious was that the trail Karl was guiding them on appeared to be somewhat worn, like it had been travelled somewhat regularly by animals or people.  He periodically checked his GPS, and while it was not on the direct route suggested by the Magellan, it was weaving in and out around it pretty closely.  Why was there such a trail from Karl's Doomstead to the lean-to?  Kenny concluded this must be because Karl himself travelled this route, he had said that he had been to the spot before.

Karl and Karen were able to ride the horses closer than Kenny to the lean to, and Karen was able to make it up there easily before Karl, who trudged up the slope slowly, his knees aching every step of the way.  Kenny had almost a 1/2 mile to traverse on foot after parking the scooter and was well behind them, but almost caught up to Karl on his way up the slope because Karl's progress was so slow on this last stretch up.

Kenny reached the campsite sweating fairly profusely, as he had run most of the last half mile with a 50 lb pack of tools and batteries on his back and then climbed upward as fast as he could to catch up with Karl.  When he reached the campsite, he was SHOCKED.  Not only had his lean to not been knocked down, it wasn't even the lean-to he built!  It had solid posts driven into the ground, and it had a thatched roof impermeable to rain.  The walls had been mudded and were virtually impenetrable to wind.  There was a Wind Shield and Break in front of the fire ring to prevent smoke from blowing into the lean-to.  There were two meat drying racks leaning against the interior wall of the lean-to ready for use by the fire to dry freshly butchered meat!

Kenny was briefly confused, but then it quickly dawned on him.

"Karl!  You did this!  When did you get up here, when did you find it?"

Karl laughed.  "Hell, I watched you build it to begin with!  I was right over there, watching through my Zeiss Binoculars and Nikon Spotting Scope." Karl informed Kenny, pointing across to his own mountain, just a mile away on the back side.  After you packed up your camp earlier this spring, I came up here to spruce it up as a gift."

The gratitude and depth of friendship for Karl he felt on hearing this was enormous, tempered only by the fact it worried him how easily Karl was able to watch him without himself ever knowing of Karl's presence.  While having a friend and fellow Diner around was a big positive, getting used to the fact that trying to stay completely invisible was impossible was a bit difficult.

Kenny inspected the reconstructed lean-to and shrugged his shoulders.  "Well, I guess I pulled all the tools up the hill for nothing.  This fucking thing is solid as a rock."

"Actually no, there is quite a bit more we can do to improve this." Karl replied.  "Getting stuff up and down from this perch is quite the pain in the ass, especially with bad knees. I had a hell of a time getting the bigger posts up here, I had to use some pullies and block and tackle and it was still a hell of a workout.  Packing down a few hundred pounds of meat might be a bit easier, but not much."

"So what are you suggesting dad?" Karen asked, her engineer brain working furiously.

"Well, I thought we might try to construct a more permanent system than the pulleys I used, sort of like a cable car maybe, or a funicular railroad.  Just not sure how to lay it out and hook it up yet, or which would be the better choice.", Karl replied.

Karen's sparkling blue eyes lit up like they were on fire.  "YES!  We could build that" she said eyeing the terrain.  " I think a 2 part system would work.  We can lay some track for a funicular railroad up that stretch over there…" she said, pointing at the steep part from where the horses were, "…then we could run cable back to where Kenny parked the bike."

"What if the Rangers find it?" Kenny brought up.  "This is National Park Land, not our land."

"Highly unlikely the rangers find it, all the public trails they patrol are on the other side of the park.  However, it is possible that some of the other hunters who use this part of the park will run across it, although there are not too many of them and I know most of them."

"We still need to disguise it well though." Karen remarked.

"We should make the arrangement portable and disassemblable." Kenny suggested.  "We can cut saplings to use as rails and stack them along with brush along the route, and place them down when we need them.  We can string the cable only when we are using it, long as we have the attatchment points fixed."

"Yea, that would work." Karen said.  "We just need to clear the route for the funicular railroad and identify the trees we will use to fix attachment points for the cable system."

With a new project to undertake, Karl, Kenny and Karen began to scope out the route and begin the clearing for the railroad.  Karen got the route laid out, and Kenny went down the slope to find decent size saplings to use for rails, cutting them down to uniform 8' lengths and dragging them back up the hill.  Karl busied himself on the bottom part of the slope back to the ZEV to figure out a cable route that would work, which unfortunately had a couple of pretty large Western Red Cedars that would need to be worked around in some fashion.  Either they had to be cut down, or the cable would have to have a couple of joints in it.

"I don't think cutting them down is a good idea at this point Karl.  It would make it too obvious we have disturbed the forest.  Removing the stumps or grinding them down out here would be about impossible." Kenny said once informed of the problem.

"Kenny is right." Karen observed.  "We'll just have to cable in sections and transfer loads across the connections.  It will slow it down some, but still be a hell of a lot faster than packing shit up and down the slope."

By sunset all three were pretty exhausted, and they got back on the trail to Karl's doomstead.  Not much of the railroad and cable system had been constructed, there was still a lot of work to be done there, and a good deal of hardware would be necessary to purchase at Home Depot.  Over dinner of BBQ Moose Ribs and Baked Potatoes from Karl's Potato Towers slathered in Goat Butter and sprinkled with Bear Bacon Bits, they composed a shopping list for hardware that Kenny would purchase at Home Depot the following week.  Kenny would have purchased all the materials himelf with his JP Morgan Chase Debit Card from his bizness account and taken the tax deduction for the pruchases, but Karl would not agree to that and handed Kenny 5 Benjamins from his safe to help with the prepping.  Advantage in going all cash on this was there would be no record of the purchases or who made them.

Karl was most beat after dinner and around 10 pm excused hiself to hit the hay.  Kenny and Karen seemed to like each other too, so maybe there was a romance possible for them, Karl thought?  Best to leave the young folks to themselves to work this stuff out, and step out of the way.

"Damn, that was a hell of a day and a lot of fun!" Karen remarked to Kenny as they sat on the couch in front of the fireplace.  "Doomerism isn't all that depressing when you are working and planning!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea I discovered that when I was in Junior High.  Life goes on, until it doesn't anymore.  That happens to everyone, regardless of a collapse.  You have to live your life for the now, and do the best you can to plan for your future, whatever it might be.  I have no control over what went on here before I was born, and I don't know what will happen after I die either.  For right now though, things are in a pretty pitiful state, so to me the best thing to do is to spend my energy getting ready for worse times to come."

Karen's rapid exposure to the world of doomers between her father, Kenny and the material she had so far read on the Doomstead Diner was pretty overwhelming, and despite her urge to flirt more with Kenny and invite him to sleep with her, she resisted.  She definitely didn't want Karl to think she was a slut who would sleep with any guy she met for sure!

"I'm pretty beat Kenny, and I have to work at Quinn's tomorrow.  I'm going to turn in." Karen said, finishing the last of a Rum and Coke.

"OK Karen, sleep tight.  See you in the morning for breakfast!" Kenny replied.  He was very attracted to Karen and wanted to make a pass at her, but he still was thinking about Kirsten too.  It was so much easier in High School when he barely dated at all, now he had two females bouncing inside his hormone driven brain, and they both seemed lovely and luscious, although in different ways.  It wasn't easy getting too sleep as headed out to the van for the night's rest.  As he drifted off to sleep, his final thoughts were the old saw, "Women.  Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."

The Last Supper

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 29, 2017

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Fast Collapse vs Slow Collapse is always a topic for discussion Inside the Diner.  Which one you believe will occur affects many things in how you prep yourself up to try and survive the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

I myself am in the Fast Collapse Camp, I think at some point we will hit an Inflexion where the problems with the monetary system cannot be papered over, and the TBTF Banks WILL actually FAIL!  I remain amazed how really SMART the smartest guys in the room are here to have kept this system operational from 2008 to this day with such Kludges as Quantitative Easing, Zero Interest (ZIRP), Negative Interest (NIRP) and so forth.  Truly AMAZING smoke & mirrors going on here!  Backed up with a ton of Accounting Fraud, it has served to keep BAU ongoing in at least the central countries such as the FSoA, Germany and China.  Places like Greece and Italy and Spain, not doing so good, but still sorta treading water.  Places like Venezuela and Egypt, already in the Deep Doo-Doo of Collapse.

Unfortunately I can't make a good prediction of when the "Oh Shit!" moment will come for the FSoA, or even more specifically my neighborhood in Alaska.  I'm not even sure if the moment will come before I kick the bucket for more pedestrian reasons of bad health.  But, if I AM still alive the day the ATMs Go Dark or the day a Nuke lights up New York Shity, I decided I should plan for my Last Supper.

I am in no shape to survive in a Post-Collapse world.  While I have plenty of preps to survive for quite some time, once the shit goes down I'll end up giving them away, lest they be taken from me by force.  There will be kids right in my own little complex without food, and I would rather see them eating the preps than eat them myself.  I don't have much of an appetite these days anyhow.

Still, even with an ultra-rapid collapse scenario other than something like an earthquake or eruption of the Mt. Redoubt Volcano taking me out nearly instantaneously, I figure I'll have at least a day or two before everyone is going berzerk and running out of food in their own pantries.  So I am planning for this, with gourmet meals to eat those last couple of days worthy of a Michelin Guide 5 Star restaraunt.  Whether I can actually eat the meals more than a few bites is another question entirely, but I'll enjoy cooking them up anyhow.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/a4/13/57/a41357a27e934ecbb44b32b25e179337.jpg This TEOTWAWKI planning idea is actually pretty old for me, going back to 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed I bought a bottle of 50 Year Old Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which I still have so it is almost 60 years old now!  Cost a fucking fortune. So I have Quality Booze for after dinner, but I never actually drink hard liquor while eating dinner.  So I need to pick up some quality wine for the Last Supper, which I haven't done yet.  One of the Diners recently recommended some wines, I'll have to go look and see if they are available at the local Brown Jug. I'm generally partial to a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet if I drink wine with Dinner, which I don't generally do unless out at a really expensive restaurant like the Crow's Nest which sits atop the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage.  It's about the only really quality restaraunt I've found in Alaska since I moved here a decade ago.  In New York Shity when I lived there, there were many, including the one I was a Sous Chef at for a couple of years, Capsuto Freres.  Capsuto bit the dust after Sandy rolled into town and shut down that neighborhood for several months, close to a full year actually.  Some Asian style restaraunt opened up in the location after the cleanup.  Really top shelf restaraunts are always super expensive, you can't get out of there without spending Triple Digits, especially when you order a bottle of wine with dinner.

I'll also want some real good Clean Spring Water to wash down the food with, so I need to pick up a few bottles of expensive water, not the cheap filtered stuff at $1/Gallon from Walmart. In addition to your Wine, it's always good to have some pure spring water on ice to cleanse the palate for the next bite of some different part of the meal, so the taste sensation is not confused.  I'll have to remember to freeze some ice cubes up from the expensive water as soon as TFHTF so that they'll freeze up within a day and be ready to drop in a fine Glass Tumbler for cooling the Spring Water for the Last Supper.

What got me started thinking about this meal was that about a week ago I was on a Prep Run to 3 Bears, the local Food Warehouse/Grocery store which is less than a half mile from my front door.  They have the best Meat selection of all the large groceries around here at the best prices.  The rest of their stuff is not such good prices, you do much better on canned and frozen foods at Safeway or Kroger, or even Walmart if you wish to sink that low on the food chain.

http://bestfiletmignon.com/cart/image/data/steak03.jpg Walking along the fridge cabinet for Beef, I spied ON SALE Fillet Mignon PRIME beef, beautifully marbled at the astoundingly low price of $6.99/lb!  I don't think I even can REMEMBER the last time I spent less than $10/lb for a Fillet, and usually not Prime but Choice by the USDA rating for this stuff.  I never buy Select meats, its like chewing leather and not enough fat embeded to give a real good flavor.  So I bought a full almost 3 lb package of these fillets for around $18.  Fact of the matter is these days my appetite is so depressed if I can get through even 1/4 lb of meat at a single sitting that is doing good, so this package is probably good for me for at least a full week of eating Fillet Mignon every night the week after TSHTF.

At first I thought I would cook at least one of them immediately, but then I changed my mind and came up with the plan for the Last Supper and vacuum sealed them and wedged them into my already overstuffed and packed freezer to wait for the Judgement Day.  Assuming I have time for more than just one or two Last Suppers, there are also numerous Rib Eye steaks and T-Bones in there to consume as well, but I figure to give most of those away to the kids in the neighborhood now.  If I can even make it through eating the Fillets I'll be doing good.

So I got the Meat part of the Last Supper in the bag here, which is Prime Fillet Mignon.  To go with it, I plan to make a Cabernet Sauce and encrust the steak with peppercorns, and then have fresh sauteed mushrooms in garlic butter with that.  However, I can't buy the fresh mushrooms in advance here not knowing precisely when TS will HTF.  So as with getting the Spring Water Ice into the Freezer on SHTF Day, I'm going to have to go on a Final Prep Run to pick up the fresh ingredients for the Last Supper.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/85/86/b7/8586b7ebd9e8cad9ad43d811cf7be507.jpg One thing I can pick up in advance though is some Shellfish to go with the Fillet for a Surf & Turf.  I had my first Surf & Turf meal at the Palm restaraunt in NY Shity, shortly after returning from Brazil and also shortly after my parents got divorced.  It was I think the one grand fancy meal my Pigman dad treated me to after the divorce, after that he just took me to Tad's Steakhouse for a cheap grilled sirloin.  Besides the Filet the platter had on it a massive Maine Lobster Tail as well, with of course the requisite drawn butter and fresh sliced lemon.  I'm not sure right now if I want to go with Lobster Tails in the freezer or instead Alaska King Crab.  In both cases lately, I haven't been impressed with either the texture or flavor of either of these expensive Shellfish, which are coming in around $20/lb around here these days.  But I have great memories of both Lobster meals and King Crab Meals, many of which came not at real classy restaraunts, but budget places like Red Lobster and also cooking them myself, sometimes at Clambakes by burying them, sometimes at home throwing a LIVE Maine Lobster into the pot and listening to it squeal, which was not actually the lobster making the noise but air escaping from under the shell as it heated up and the lobster turned bright red.  No live Maine lobsters available around here now though, if I go with lobster for the shellfish part of the Surf & Turf it will need to be a Frozen Tail, likely as tasteless as the King Crab legs seem to be these days also.  Tasteless or not though, I will close my eyes and remember back to all those wonderful Surf & Turf meals I had over the years and it will taste just fine.  The main problem at the moment is finding room in my freezer to fit either Lobster Tails OR King Crab Legs.  It's currently stuffed to the MAX!  So they may need to be a last minute purchase on SHTF Day.

With the Fillet and the Shellfish, Wine and Spring Water now in place for the Last Supper, I start to need to think about Side Dishes.  Definitely a last minute item is the Veggie dish to go with the meal, and for this I will go with Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce.  I may keep some frozen asaparagus in the freezer as a backup, if I can find room for that too.  Asparagus was my favorite veggie when I was a kid, and unlike many kids I actually LIKED most veggies.  Out of a can though, most veggies are total crap, including Asparagus.  Too soggy, no real good texture left once canned.  Pees are OK out of a can and Beans also, and corn kernels.  Not too much else though.  

For my carbos, I am torn between doing a twiced baked potato with bacon bits & cheddar cheese and sour cream topper, or Feijon, Rice & Black Beans that was the staple of all meals while I was a kid in Brazil.  If I have two nights of Last Suppers, I'll do one of each.

The Main course should look something like this:

http://cdn3.volusion.com/hfnhm.snnab/v/vspfiles/photos/600124003538-3.jpg?1424256079

Prior to the main meal though, I'm going to need some other courses to really fill this thing out as a grand Last Supper.  I'll need a Salad of course to begin the meal, for this I will go with my favorite Greek Salad with Tomatoes and Olives and lots of Feta Cheese crumbles over it.  I'll need an Antipasto also, with good Italian Hard Salami, Provolone Cheese, Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella balls marinated with Sun Dried Tomatoes.  Then also a Head of fresh garlic roasted in Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well.  I'll also need a bowl of soup, for this I will go with Jewish Penicillin, a nice bowl of Chicken Soup with two big fluffy Matzoh Balls in it, as well as plenty of celery and diced carrots.

For Desert, I'll brew up some fresh Arabica Coffee beans, and add to that some Bailey's Irish Cream, and a slice of NY style Cheesecake, perhaps with some fresh Strawberries.  I'll have to get that at the Bakery though as I am not a terrific Baker, and my cheescake never comes out quite how I like it.  I've never figured out the secret to getting a nice fluffy cheesecake, it always comes out too dense no matter what recipe I use.

Of course to get all these ingredients for the Last Supper on SHTF Day, I'm going to need to get out to the grocery store early with my CASH FRNs from inside the mattress Bank of Sealy, then back to the digs to bolt the front door while I do my cooking to keep the Zombies out until I can at least have a few bites before I buy my ticket to the Great Beyond.

Could I possibly eat such a meal these days, with all those courses and mass quantity of food?  Hell no, I'd be stuffed before I even finished the soup & salad, much less getting to the main course!  But I can fantasize about it, and remember all those great meals I both ate and cooked up in the past.  I can also cook it still, even if I can't manage to eat all of it, and I can put the Leftovers in my fridge for the Zombies to consume the day AFTER TSHTF!

After Dinner and consuming the bottle of Pinot Noir, I'll crack open the 50 year old bottle of Glenlivet and pour it straight over the rocks of the frozen expensive bottled spring water and open up a fresh pack of Cancerettes to go with it. Then I will sit down at my new Dell All-in-One Computer with the Big Screen Monitor, and keyboard out my last post on the Diner.

What is on your SHTF Day, Last Supper, Bucket List Menu?

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 12

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 27, 2017

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Karen's anticipation of spending the day with her biological father at last kept her from getting to sleep the night before, and then she popped out of bed early at 7AM, despite the fact Karl wasn't coming until 10.

There was always a lot of speculation around Quinn's as to what Karl really did for a living, whenever he was asked he would just reply, "I'm a financial advisor".  Karen's mom Maggie had shared the exploits of their trip to Las Vegas and all the money Karl won at the Black Jack tables, so there was a good deal of speculation he was a professional gambler, or had been in the past.  Others speculated he was a Billionaire Recluse like Howard Hughes.  Whatever he was, he never seemed to be short of money to spend at Quinn's, and he always was driving really nice pickup trucks or motorcycles, before he got into the electric scooters.

Karen took her dog Huckleberry out for a run to work out some of the nerves and keep the big Siberian Husky in shape.  Huckleberry was a great dog her mom got her for her 16th birthday, and Maggie looked after her while Karen was in college at UoW.  Now at 7 years old she was in her prime, and gave Maggie a real run for her money when they were out on the trail together.  Huckleberry was faster in a sprint, but Maggie had more endurance and could wear her down on a long enough run.  Huckleberry also wasted a lot of energy, often sprinting ahead then doubling back, or running off trail to investigate whatever seemed interesting to investigate.

Despite the cool weather of an early spring morning in the Montana mountains, by the time they got back to Karen's duplex condo in Lolo that Maggie had left to her, she was covered in sweat and Huckleberry was panting hard.  She took a nice long shower, and then made her usual breakfast of french bread and cheese, two hardboiled eggs and thinly sliced nova scotia smoked salmon with capers on top. Huckleberry got her favorite dog food meal, Taste of the Wild Southwest Prairie, and Karen wondered about whether Karl would want Huckleberry along for the visit?  She had forgetten to mention her, and it was a little late to ask now.  If not, she could leave Huckleberry out in the small yard out behind the duplex in her doghouse.  Huckleberry was used to this, as she often had to spend time alone in the yard by herself, both while Maggie was at work and then now Karen.  Huckleberry had trouble figuring out what happened to Maggie, although she knew that Maggie was sick and had stayed by her bedside until she passed into the Great Beyond.  It was the only death of a loved one Huckleberry had ever seen though, so it was hard to figure out why Maggie wasn't there the next day and never came back.  Karen was very familiar though even though she hadn't seen her too often while in college, but she remembered well playing with her when she was a puppy.  So the adustment wasn't that hard, and after a month or so Huckleberry settled back into her old routines, other than the fact she got a lot more running and exercise in with Karen than she had with Maggie.  That was a lot of fun.

Promptly at 10 AM, Karl pulled up in front of the condo, driving an enormous nearly brand new 2017 Chevy Suburban, loaded with all the latest and greatest electronic gizmos like wi-fi and bluetooth as well as gps and a backing camera system.  Tacked on the front steel protective grate was a 12,000 lb Warn winch and air compressor as well.

"Jeez Karl, that car is a BEAST!" Karen remarked coming out front to greet him.  "I thought you only drive electric vehicles?  I would have figured you for a Tesla."

"Nah,  If you want some real power, you gotta go with an internal combustion engine.  My two wheelers are all electric now and I have some small electric work vehicles, but for carting stuff back and forth to my place I've got this and a Chevy C4500 Kodiak pickup truck.  I figured this would be a nicer ride since the Kodiak is a couple of years old and a little beat up now.  Still smells brand new!" Karl said with a smile.  "So you got any gear you want to bring along."

"Yeah, I have a bag packed with some stuff.  I was wondering though, would it be OK to bring along my dog Huckleberry?  Do you like dogs?" Karen asked.

"Oh sure, I love animals.  I've got chickens and goats and a couple of horses. A couple of outside cats too Felix and Garfield who periodically show up. No dog right now, my Labrador Scooby Doo died a couple of years ago and I haven't got a new one yet.  He was around for 15 years and I haven't been able to replace him yet.  Maybe this year though…"

"Wow Karl, that's quite a menagerie!" Karen exclaimed.  "I'll go in and get my bag and some stuff for Huckleberry.  Be back out in a jiffy!"

Karen returned quickly with a small daypack and Huckleberry who followed along right on her heel with no leash.  Huckleberry eyed the Suburban somewhat suspiciously, it was way bigger than the Ford Escort that Karen drove.  However, when Karen pointed in the back and ordered "IN", Huckleberry made the jump up into the rear compartment.  "Good Grief, this car is even bigger than my doghouse!" Huckleberry though in amazement.

"Do you have a leash for Huckleberry?" Karl asked as they got in the front seat of the Suburban.

"Yea, its in my bag but I don't think I'll need to put it on her.  Shes a good dog and doesn't run off.  Although, she hasn't been around chickens and goats, so no telling there."

"So Karl, when was the last time you had anyone come out to your place?"  Nobody at Quinn's has ever been there, even my mom never got out there.  She said when you guys were together that you either bought a cabin at Quinn's or stayed at her place."

"Oh, it's been a long time Karen, I had a friend with a cabin nearby who came over while he was living near me, but he moved up to Canada after 9-11.  Before that even longer, right after I moved to the property in the 1970s one of my cousins came to visit.  She wasn't too impressed and thought I was off my rocker.", Karl laughed.  "Never came back.  It wasn't as well built up as it is now though.  Hope it doesn't put you off the way it did her."

"Oh, I'm sure it's beautiful Karl.", Karen replied, silently wondering to herself what the place was really like.  Maybe it was some kind of Underground Bunker?  Karl was well known by everyone at Quinn's to be a Doomer preparing for TEOTWAWKI, or "The End of the World as We Know It".

Still, if he had chickens and goats and horses, the whole thing couldn't be underground, Karen reasoned to herself.  Keeping all those animals underground was a mind boggling idea, although the engineer in her started to calculate how much space would be needed and how to power it all up.

"So how big is it Karl?  Like how many acres?"

"Oh, it's pretty big." Karl replied, declining to put numbers to it specifically.

Karen laughed.  "Karl everybody at Quinnl's knows THAT!  Could you be a little more specific?"

Karl smiled.  "You'll see."

pigs

As Karl finally brought the Suburban to a halt, Karen remarked, "You are right Karl.  This would have been tough to find, even with a GPS."

Getting out of the car and looking around, she could see some raised beds and potato towers, and some split rail fencing with a pasture and some goats &  mangalitsa pigs nosing around, but at first did not spy either Karl's house or the barn.  Maybe he did live underground after all?"

"So Karl, where do you actually live?  You got some kind of Bunker or something?"

Karl laughed.  "No not quite, only about half undergound.  It's an Earthship, and its built into the side of the mountain.  You can't really see it from this angle.  Follow me around the fence here.

Walking around the fence line, at first Karen saw nothing, but then focusing her eyes as they came around about 90 degrees from where they parked, she spied it.  Built in to the side of the mountain with all glass facing to the south was what looked to be a Hobbit House on steroids, it appeared to be around 200' long with windows popping out of the ground in various places, and no real idea how deep into the mountainside it had been cut.

"Good grief Karl, that place is HUGE!"

"Oh, it's not that big." Karl replied.  "It only goes in about 30' at the deepest and part of it serves as a barn for the horses and goats and a chicken coop. Then some storage areas for preps."

Karen shook her head in disbelief.  Not only was the Earthip immense despite Karl's downplaying it, looking around the pasture and counting in the driveway, there had to be at least 50 acres, if not 100.

"You must have 50 acres at least here Karl." she said.

"Oh no, more than that." Karl pointed up the mountain behind the Earthship.  "See up there?  That's mine too."

Up the slope of the mountain about 1000 feet Karen could see what he was pointing at.  There was a large solar Array and 4 large commercial grade Wind Turbines on Towers.  Karen's eyes opened wide.

"You own all of that?" she asked incredulously.

"Oh yes, everything on this side of the mountain and down the other too.  It's Karl's Mountain.  At least that's what the property deeds say while BAU holds up and I can pay the taxes on it anyhow."

"So all the folks at Quinn's who speculated you're some kind of eccentric billionaire were right?"

"Oh hell no, not that loaded.  Not sure what the whole portfolio is worth these days, and some of it is not too liquid either, like the land itself.  Maybe $100M."

"Well, that's still fucking rich Karl!".

"Nah, I'm just Upper Middle Class.  You gotta have at least $10B these days to be considered rich."

"Yea, right.", Karen remarked, rolling her eyes.

"Come on inside, lemme show you around the place." Karl said.  He was feeling much better now, since Karen was clearly impressed with the place.  Living the kind of isolated life he did, he didn't really feel all that rich, although he knew by the numbers that he was.  Mainly he just felt like he had done pretty well financially over the years.

Walking inside and looking at the polished wood floors and sparkling clean kitchen all lit up by the big windows, it looked like a showpiece from Better Homes & Gardens.  Karen took pride in keeping her Duplex clean and neat, but this took it to a whole new level.

"You're a great housekeeper Karl!  Not too many single men are so tidy!"

"Uh, yea, sometimes." Karl coughed. His knees were still sore from the hours spent scrubbing the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom.

"Would you like a snack or something to drink?"

"I had a pretty big breakfast this morning, not too hungry yet. A cup of coffee would be nice though if you have some."

"Oh sure, I'll brew some right up.  It's just Maxwell House, I don't get into town much to buy fresh coffe beans."

"Maxwell House is fine Karl, I'm not too picky." Karen laughed.  "Mind if I check out the rest of the house while you make the coffee?"

"Sure." Karl replied.  "Make yourself at home. My home is your home."  The words spilled out of his mouth almost without conscious thought, and the warmth he felt as he said them was something he had never before experienced in his life.

"Uhhh, well, is it OK for me to start calling you "Dad", instead of Karl?" Karen asked nervously.

Karl felt the joy in his heart overflowing, and the tears of that joy followed closely behind.

"Yes Karen, that's OK if you want to.  It's going to take me a while to get used to that though."

 

Bye, Bye Pastrami on Rye

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 22, 2017

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On New Year's Eve of 2016, the Carnegie Delicatessen in NY Shity closed it's doors for the final time.  There will be no more Hot Pastrami sandwiches on Rye Bread served at the Carnegie anymore. 🙁

http://1j0kaab4se21i4i6y1k7omz1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Stages-Deli-Greython-Construction-Foxwoods4-3-300x167.jpg Back in 2012 when the Doomstead Diner first opened its doors, the Stage Delicatessen closed down.  In 2004, the other main iconic Jewish Deli of NY Shity Ratner's on Delancey Street closed its doors.  I frequented all these Jewish Delicatessens in my years living in NY Shity, and the Carnegie closing marks the last of the truly great ones I know of. OK, wait, Katz's is still open for bizness, but their Pastrami was not as good as Carnegie or Stage.

There were many other lesser known ones, in fact right by my old High School of Stuyvesant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan there was a small one I often had lunch at, which served up a GREAT Potato Knish for about 50 cents at the time if I recall.  Their Pastrami wasn't near as good as the Pastrami you got at the Stage or the Carnegie though.

There were many other Jewish Delis sprinkled around NY Shity in those years as well, mainly in the various Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.  There were some good ones in Forest Hills as I recall, though I can't remember their names anymore.  Usually they were just named after the founder of the Deli, like "Feynman's Delicatessen" or "Murray's Delicatessen" etc.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/87/9c/8a/879c8ae18cbcba197cfbc989a864ef16.jpg

My TOP 10 favorite Jewish Foods from the era were: (more or less in order)

1- Hot Pastrami on Rye Bread
2- Matzoh Ball Soup
3- Bagel shmeared with Cream Cheese and Lox
4- Matzoh Meal Latkes (Pancakes)
5- Potato Knish
6- Chicken Liver Pate
7- Beef Tongue Sandwich on Rye
8- Kosher Hot Dog
9- Whole Smoked Whitefish Chubs
10- Potato Latkes (Pancakes)

Fortunately for me since I know how to cook quite well, I can reproduce most of these dishes fairly well to this day, but I don't do it because my appetite is so depressed and you have to make them in large quantities.  To make a good Pastrami, you need to smoke up a full brisket of beef, and I couldn't eat that much meat in a month these days, by which time it goes bad unless frozen, and after freezing a lot of the flavor is lost.  You really want to eat this stuff RIGHT after you finish cooking it, which is why Delis developed to begin with.  While one person or even a small family can't finish a whole beef brisket in one meal (except for total PIGS!), if you have even just 20 or 30 people stop in your Deli for Lunch, you can easily go through a few briskets for the day.  Dropping into a Deli for a Lunch of Matzoh Ball Soup and a Hot Pastrami on Rye was an EXTREME culinary pleasure, and at the time not all that expensive although more expensive than a Slice of Mushroom Pizza at the local Storefront Italian Pizzeria.  There you could get a slice of freshly baked Pizza for around 25 cents and a Minestrone Soup for another 25 cents.  In my neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, during my years there from age 10 to 16 there were 3 main groups of 1st or 2nd generation Immigrants, Italians, Jews and Irish.  The Italians and the Jews served up the FOOD, the Irish ran all the BARS and served up the BOOZE. lol.  In the later years the Chinese and various other Asian groups began arriving, and lots of Chinese Take Out restaraunts popped up.

http://cdn.luxuo.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Smith-and-Wollensky-steak-house.jpg Jewish Delis aren't the only restaraunts I frequented in NY Shity during my salad years there in the 70s and 80s now Outta Biz, even some top end Steakhouses like Smith & Wollensky are gone to the Great Beyond.  They bit the dust in 2016.  This is in NY Shity, home to Wall Street with some traders and executives still taking home outrageous salaries and big bonuses.  Why can't a high end restaraunt like this make a go of it in that market?

Well, you gotta understand the restaurant biz to begin with here, it always depends on VOLUME.  You need to keep all your tables filled all the time, and there also needs to be a quite large difference between the cost of the food you cook up and what you charge to the customers in order to meet all the overhead, which is quite large especially in NY Shity.  The restaurant bizness is extremely labor intensive, and labor costs are high even if you pay all the workers Min Wage.  You can't pay decent chefs Min Wage though, so the better the food, the higher the costs get driven up.

NY Shity commercial rents have shot through the ROOF in the last decade to begin with.  Then the cost of the food ingredients also went up rapidly.  Then, despite the fact there are a FEW Banksters making gobs of money, MOST of the population doesn't have all that much to spend on Lunch.  So the efffect is the restaurant keeps raising it's prices in order to meet the overhead which drives away more of their regular customers then making it uneconomic to cook up a half dozen beef briskets each day to make Pastrami out of.  Not selling enough Pastrami then, said Deli ends up going outta biz.

http://media.olivegarden.com/en_us/images/marketing/italian-family-restaurant-olive-garden-g6-r1x1.jpg The same thing is true for a high end steakhouse like Smith & Wollensky, and really the only types of restaraunts currently surviving are either Fast Food (FF acronym, like the Fossil Fuels they are made from) which operate with low quality food served at high volume and low prices, or medium level chains like say Olive Garden which serve medium quality food at medium prices and ALSO have access to DEBT money to subsidize losing money operations.  Small independents from either end of the spectrum are squashed out because they don't have access to the debt that allows a large chain to keep going even when it also is losing money.

It's a sorry state of affairs of course, and the fact that the typical Lunch menu for a worker has devolved from a nice juicy Hot Pastrami sandwich to a Big Mac is a very depressing state of affairs, although also a good symbol for the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

Great Pastrami came at the PINNACLE of Industrial Civilization, probably around the mid 1960s to 1970s.  There was certainly good pastrami around before that though, going back to the 1920s probably.  The Good Pastrami also lasted until the early 2000s, when it started to disappear.  Fabulous Pastrami at Great Jewish Delis had about an 80 year lifespan available to the average J6P around NY Shity, basically tracing the Age of Oil.

http://www.seriouseats.com/assets_c/2014/05/20140529-pastrami-smoked-meat-11-thumb-610x406-403666.jpg The Death of Great Pastrami came due to the economics of producing it and serving it up in Delis.  At the beginning, the rents in NY Shity were cheap for a small deli operator, but over the years they rose into the stratosphere.  While a few Wall Street Pigmen make gobs of money, except for a very few high end restaurants you can't base your bizness on them.  There's just not enough of them who will buy a Hot Pastrami Sandwich for lunch on a daily basis.

As the rents skyrocketed, so did the cost of buying a Pastrami Sandwich at places like the Stage & Carnegie Delicatessens.  Even when I left NY Shity back in the 90s, a lunch at one of those places was coming in around $10, maybe a bit more.  This was no longer a meal for the average J6P.  I don't know what the Final Price on the menu was for a Pastrami on Rye when the Carnegie Delicatessen closed its doors for the last time on Dec 31st, 2016, but I suspect it was in the $20 range.

With these kind of prices, where the average J6P in NYC goes for lunch is not to a Jewish Deli for Pastrami, but to Mickey D's for a Big Mac, Fries & a Coke, a meal which itself is coming in close to $10 these days!  It also obviously lacks the terrific flavor and texture of well prepared Pastrami, and all the workers in that FF joint are being paid minimum wage.  The whole category of a well paid chef is ELIMINATED!  In fact, the push is on to eliminate even the low paid cooks who dutifully drop the frozen french fries into the deep fryer with robots that can do the job more reliably 24/7 with no coffee breaks!

https://www.mcdonalds.com.ph/userfiles/images/ourfood/main/BigMac435X320%20(1).png Nobody seems to know where the folks who BUY Lunch from the Robots will get the money to do this though, as they are automated out of a job.  There are suggestions out there of a guaranteed "Universal Basic Income", sort of Welfare on Steroids, but nobody knows how to implement such a thing without it destroying incentive to work at all or without creating an endless cycle of price inflation.  The folks who have the monopoly over Money Creation are also unlikely to just give the money away to anybody except other members of their own club as they currently do all the time, so a Universal Basic Income seems an unlikely outcome here.  Whatever that nominal amount of money is, it most certainly would not buy a nice thick and juicy Pastrami on Rye sandwich, and probably not even a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke!  Maybe the money will buy some thin gruel poured over a slice of Wonder Bread?

I will leave you for this episode of Dayz of Our Kollapse Lives with a song parody.  Sing to the Tune of "American Pie" by Don Maclean.

 

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried
When I read the Carnegie Deli died
But something touched me deep inside
The day the Pastrami Died


So bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die


Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now do you believe in latkes and gefilte fish?
Can Bagels save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to eat real slow?

Well, I know that you're in love with Bagels
Cause I saw you eating them at the tables
You shmeared on the creame cheese and lox
and danced on the table in just your socks

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the Pastrami Died

[Chorus:]
I started singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die


Now for 5 years we've been watching doom
Diners observing all the oncoming gloom
But that's not how it used to be
Until JFK rode in the limousine
Next to Jackie the pill cap Queen
Promising the death of the Land of the Free

Oh, and while JFK was looking down
LBJ stole his thorny crown
Vietnam was escalated
While bigger lies were being created

And while Liddy hit the Watergate
Nixon pitched the gold out of the gate
And we sang dirges for our fate
The day the money died

[Chorus:]
We were singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Verse 3]
Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off to a Doomer Shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The Diners tried for a forward pass
With RE on the sidelines in a cast

Now the halftime air was sweet perfume
While the Diners played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

Cause the Diners tried to take the field
The Illuminati refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the Pastrami Died?

[Chorus:]
We started singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Verse 4]
Oh, and there we were all in the Diner
Eating Doom meals that couldn't be finer
With no time left to start again
So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devil's only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that RE spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw RE laughing with delight
The day the Pastrami Died

[Chorus:]
He started singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Outro]
I met a Troll who made page views
And he pitched out all his happy news
But it was bullshit and he was sent away
I went down to the convenience store
Where I bought my gas for years before
But the clerk told me there was no gas left today

And in the streets, the Zombies screamed
The Doomers cried and the Cornucopians dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The internet was all broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the Pastrami Died

[Chorus:]
And they were singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Chorus:]
They were singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
And singin' this'll be the day that I die

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 11

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 19, 2017

Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

The dinner with Kirsten had really thrown Kenny for a loop.  He still couldn't quite believe she wasn't playing a practical joke on him, but when she offered him to come back to her dorm room and kissed him goodnight, he had to start thinking it was for real.  He didn't take her up on the offer, not because he was any kind of prude, and even though he hadn't dated much in High School he did have some experience with sex so it wasn't nervousness.  He first "did it" with one of his cousins on a float trip down the Clark's Fork River when they snuck off to go wild berry picking.  Since taking up the landscaping business, he had "got lucky" with a couple of bored housewife MILFs, so he wasn't doing too bad as a Lothario.

The main reason he turned Kirsten down was because of the plans he had made with Karl for the weekend.  He wasn't 100% certain of her yet, and he thought Karl probably would not be comfortable about him bringing another person to see his doomstead yet, even though they had discussed the need to start developing a group of people to occupy the land after TSHTF.  He needed to brainstorm with Karl how to do this but not have it get out of hand.

Prior to heading out to the doomstead, Kenny stopped in at the coffee roaster and bought 5 lbs of a Costa Rican blend he really liked as a gift for Karl, and gave him a call to see if there was anything else he needed from town.  Karl said he should stop and pick up some Dog Food, which seemed odd because Karl hadn't mentioned having a dog when he told him about the chickens and goats and horses.  Why would he skip over the dog?  He also told Kenny he had some really important news for their plans, which really got his curiousity up.  Karl sent him the GPS coordinates for his place so he could come straight over, and they could use that as Home Base for the weekend and he could park there.

Kenny looked up the location on Google Earth to scope it out for an idea of the layout before the drive in, and from low magnification it pretty much just looked like the rest of Lolo National Forest.  Zooming in though, he found the logging roads and then found what appeared to be a clearing on the beginning slope of one of the smaller mountains, and what appeared to be a fence line.  He couldn't make out a cabin though, but figured Karl probably had it hidden under the trees.  Panning around the area, he spied an array of solar panels and 4 large wind turbines.

Following his usal pre-trip checklist for vehicle inspection, Kenny checked the pressure on all the tires on the van and trailer, checked all the lights and signals and made sure all his supplies of fuels were topped off and all the equipment tied down and secure.  Never know when TSHTF would come, and after so much prepping Kenny didn't want to be caught with his pants down at the wrong moment.

The drive to Karl's place went very smoothly, it was almost the same as the drive to his own place, just a few different turns at the end.  The logging roads into Karl's place were a little wider and in better shape than Kenny's, probably they were still used periodically and maintained by Weyerhauser.  Turning into Karl's own road, compared to Kenny's road in it was practically an interstate highway and quite easy to negotiate.  He finally came up on the clearing, and wedged under the trees were a couple of carports, constructed from full logs with a green roof, and covered by the tree canopy basically invisible from the Google Satellite.  Parked under the larger carport was a HUGE Chevy Pickup, another HUGE Chevy SUV and then a small and old Ford Escort which looked really out of place next to these two monsters which were quite new, although the pickup had a few dents.  There was another couple of open ports where he could fit his Van & Trailer, but before doing that he wanted to check with Karl in case he needed them for some other purpose.

Over in the smaller port were Karl's EVs, two small off road scooters, a larger one that he had been on when he visited Kenny, a really massive one that looked like a road racing bike, an electric trike with a dumping bed on the back and an electric Polaris Ranger with a trailer.  They were all plugged in an charging off the Solar PV panels and Wind Turbines Kenny spied up the mountainside.

Kenny whistled to himself, then said to nobody, "Jeezus, what a setup!"

Karl came walking around the pasture fence and waved.

"Yo Kenny! You made it!"

"Yea, not too hard, I scoped it out on Google Earth before I came.  How did you know I was here?"

"Cameras and Motion detectors" Karl replied, pointing at one of the cameras on the carport roof.  Got em everywhere."

Kenny nodded.  "Yea I just ordered some of those from Alibaba.com.  After you sneaked up on me last week I figured I needed some early warning."

Karl laughed.  "Yah, e-toys are an essential for the paranoid doomer."

"Here, got a present for you." Kenny said opening the back door of the trailer and taking out the bag of Costa Rican coffee beans and handing it to Karl.

"Woa, nice bag!  That should last a few weeks!"

"Also got the Dog Food." Kenny said pointing to two large 50 lb bags.  "You didn't mention having a dog last week."

"That's because last week I didn't have one.  My old Labrador retriever died a couple of years ago.  Just got a new one, sort of anyhow."

"So is that the big new surprise you mentioned?"

"Umm, well part of it.  My daughter is here also.  She's up in the house."

"WHAT?  I though you said you weren't ever married and didn't have any kids!" Kenny exclaimed.

"That's what I thought last week.  I found out about her right after I left your place.  I went over to my favorite hangout Quinn's Lodge.  She's the daughter of a waitress there I used to have a relationship with back in the day, when the hormones were still a driving force."

"You're sure she's really yours?" Kenny asked.

"Oh yea, I'm sure.  I really knew it all along subconsciously, but I wouldn't let myself admit it."

"Well that does make things a little different, that's for sure. " Kenny mused, wondering to himself if he should bring up his meeting with Kirsten.  Since he still wasn't sure of her yet, this probably was not the right time, so he held off.

"What about the Dog Food?  Should I bring a bag up to the house?  Where IS the house anyhow?  I couldn't find it on Google Earth."

"Oh, it's not very visible from the air.  It's an Earthship."

Kevin nodded, he was quite familiar with the technique, it was discussed often on the Doomstead Diner.  He even considered building one of these on his own property, but if he was going to put a permanent structure there, he had decided ona Monolithic Dome instead.

"Earthships are very cool." Kenny said, hoisting one of the dog food bags onto his shoulder.

"Throw the dog food on the trike Kenny.  You can sit on top of it in the bed and I'll drive us up to the house.  Bit of a walk for carrying 50 lbs, even for somebody in your physical condition."

"That sounds good." Kenny replied, throwing both the bags onto the bed of the ZEV Trike.

Karl unplugged the trike and they headed quickly around the pasture and up toward the Earthship.  Kenny thought how good it would be to have one of these on his landscaping jobs.  He could probably pull a 60" mower attachment with it and handle some bigger properties.  They arrived at the front door in about a minute, and Kenny had to whistle again as they came up on the huge expanse of glass and the house embedded carefully in the side of the mountain.

"Holy SHIT Karl!  This place is HUGE!  How long did it take to build?  That's a LOT of excavation work!"

"I built most of it over the first 10 years." Karl replied. "I didn't dig it out by hand, I cheated on that one and used a Caterpillar backhoe and front end loader.  I did a lot of finishing work afterward though, and there's always some new project to undertake.  A prepper's work is never done!" Karl laughed.

Karen came out of the house along with Huckleberry, and Kenny instantly knew that she was in fact Karl's daughter.  She had the same piercing blue eyes and the same high cheekbones and jaw.  About the only thing different was her hair was jet black and Karl's had gone gray, but he surmised that in his youth Karl probably had that same hair color.

"Hi Kenny!" Karen said with a big smile.  "Karl has told me a lot about you!  Seems you turned his whole attitude around and that's what got him over to Quinn's."

Kenny nodded, and kicked the dirt a bit.  "Meeting Karl changed my thinking a lot too.  Seems like things are changing for all of us really fast."

Karen spied the dog food on the bed of the trike, and so did Huckleberry.  "Hey, we better get these bags into the pantry before Huckleberry tears into them!" she exclaimed, easily hoisting one of the bags onto her shoulder.  Karen had the powerful arms and strong shoulders and lats that came from years as a whitewater kayaker.  Kenny was impressed with the ease with which she lifted the uwieldy 50 lb bag, and then himself lifted the other one, trying to make it look as easy.  His work in Landscaping and his daily workouts pumping iron at the Fitness club had built a lot of muscle as well, but Karen had a good 4" in height on him, looking close to 6' tall.  Testosterone made up the difference there though, and they were about equal in strength.

Once the dog food was safely in the pantry and away from Huckleberry's inquisitive nose, Karl set about brewing up some Java in the kitchen and Kenny and Karen sat down in the living room to chat.

"So you're another doomer like my dad, he told me."

"Yea, I've been a doomer since Junior High, when I started reading the Doomstead Diner."

"Dad told me about that blog.  Said I had to read up, so I've been reviewing it the last few days.  What a load of reading material to work through!  There's more in there than my whole college reading list!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, you won't get through it all in a few days, that's for sure."

"What I did read is pretty sobering though.  I mean, I knew we were in bad shape economically and that we elected an imbecile for President, but I had no idea the whole of Industrial Civiliation was teetering on Collapse."

"It's pretty depressing when you first realize it.  Lots of people become very nihilistic and misanthropic once they get it.  Reading RE's philosophy helped me stay out of that trap.  Once I started prepping up, it gave me a purpose and something positive to be doing.  Maybe it's all gonna end, but it won't happen overnight and in the meantime I would like to live a while longer."

Karl came over with the coffee and sat down on the large Italian leather recliner Kenny and Karen had left open for him, sitting themselves on the matching Italian leather couch.  The whole living room set faced the large open fireplace, and above that was a brand new 72" OLED Monitor and TV.  Although Karl spent most of his researching time in his office, often before going to sleep he would sit in the recliner or lay down on the couch and do a little more net surfing, or watch one of his favorite old movies from his DVD collection, like Last of the Mohicans or the Outlaw Josey Wales.

"Yup, even I would like to live a little longer, especially now that you two showed up in my life!  Now we have at least a start on a community!" Karl said, his eyes sparkling with a glow that had not been there the last week when Kenny met him.

"I've been thinking about that all week Karl." Kenny said."There are a couple of folks I landscape for who I think would be good additions, and some people I know from High School also."

Karen chipped in as well.  "I think there are good people at Quinn's too that we could bring in. Big John for one, Roger who runs the rafting adventures and a bunch of the kitchen and wait staff."

Karl mused.  "I'm concerned though about moving too fast on this.  Even if all these people are good people, if we let on too early about our Doomstead, the location will get out to many other people.  This land area can only support so many, 200 or 300 with my land and Kenny's possibly, and more if you count National Forest land.  I don't want to be inundated with 1000s of people showing up when TSHTF."

Kenny shook his head in agreement.  "Yea, I think we only want to tell people we are very sure of right now that we even have a place, and if we bring anyone here, they shouldn't know exactly where it is…"Kenny's mind was racing now, thinking about how to bring Kirsten out to the Doomstead.  "I could bring some people out in the back of my van, it doesn't have windows.  They wouldn't know exactly where it was."

"The problem with that is though, if we don't tell people about it NOW and they don't know how to find where we are when TSHTF, even if they know we want to establish a sustainable community, how will we do it?  They won;t know how to find us or how to contact us." Karen questioned.

"Karen is right about that. We have a Catch-22 problem here.  If we tell too many people about it now, and information spreads via the net and social media, we could be inundated.  If we don't pass out information now and TSHTF, the right people won't be able to find us." Karl added in clarification.

Kenny frowned.  "That problem is a real bear. I'm not sure how to fix that."

A few minutes of silence ensued, and a few refills of coffee were undertaken as Kenny, Karl and Karen contemplated on this problem.  Karen finally spoke up.

"Maybe we should contact RE on the Diner?  Maybe he will have an idea.  From what I have read so far, he thinks outside the box all the time and comes up with some pretty novel ideas to problems like this."

"That's not a bad idea at all Karen. " Karl replied.  "Kenny, do you want to contact RE or should I?  Send him a PM maybe."

"I'm not sure Karl, which way do you think would be more secure?  I can send off an encrypted message and use a public Wi-Fi server in Missoula, and route it through some Proxy Servers.  RE put up his Public Key for GPG4USB 256 bit encryption, I can send him my Public Key and get a communication going." Kenny suggested.

"That sounds better than what I could do from here Kenny.  You should make the contact with RE."

"OK, I'll do that next week." Kenny agreed. "Now, I've got some projects for this weekend.  I want to go up to a Lean-to I built in Lolo National Forest and see how it is doing and get it spruced up for Hunting season.  I want to go for a Big Horn Sheep this year."

"Big Horns are tough to get Kenny, and even tougher to pack out the meat.  Getting it all back to the Doomstead is not a one person job."

"I figured to do the butchering and smoking up at the lean-to, then just pack it down a bit at a time." Kenny replied.

"That might work, but still a lot of trips if you want to get the hide and bones and make the most use of the animal possible.  I'm no good for packing out that much meat, my knees are too messed up.", Karl said.

"I could help pack it out dad." Karen offered.

Karl brightened considerably with this suggestion.  "Yes!  That could work.  I could also ride up about halfway there on Mr. Ed with a travois, so you would only have to pack down to where I can still ride to.  How far do you think it is from where you have the lean to set up to where a horse and travois could make it?", Karl asked, even though he already knew.  He didn't want to let on to Kenny that he had been up to the lean-to and improved on it.  Mr. Ed was able to negotiate the trip there to within 500 feet of the climb up.  The last 500' were tough on Karl's knees, but with some icing each night and some ibuprofen and occassional percocet, not intolerable.

"I'm not sure.", Kenny replied.  "Maybe within 1000' I guess.  I haven't done any horseback riding, so not sure what a horse can negotiate on these slopes."

"I can ride Kenny.  Why don't we take a trip up to it this afternoon to see about planning for this hunt." Karen said.  "Where is it?"

Kenny pulled out his Samsung Galaxy Mega and brought up Google Earth with his encrypted & stored location information for the lean-to, then zoomed out to show where Karl's place was relative to the lean-to.

"Oh, I know that area." Karl said.  "The horses can make it most of the way.  The off road ZEV electric not quite so far up.  Karen can ride Mr. Ed and I will ride Quick Draw.  You can ride my ZEV.  You'll have to foot it a ways longer than us, but not that far, maybe a 1/2 mile.

"AWESOME!" Kenny replied.  "I sure hope it held up since I left it.  I have some sutff in the trailer to do improvements."

Karen was excited about the trip.  Even though she was brand new to doomerism, anything in the outdoors was a great pleasure for her.  Kenny was also really cute and smart, even though he was a few years younger.  Very likable guy, unlike most of the guys she had dated in college.

Karl and Karen went out to the barn and got Mr. Ed and Quick Draw saddled up for the ride, and Kenny got his tools and hardware out of the trailer.  They loaded the stuff onto travois pulled by the two horses and a small trailer that the ZEV could pull along the route.  They also packed along some sandwiches of Goat Cheese and Hardboiled Eggs for lunch while on the mountain, and got underway.

Inside the Diner: Getting a Handle on Wealth

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 15, 2017

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

In response to my recent article The First Law of Wealth, one of the regular Diners JRM began a thread to discuss the nature of Wealth and how we define it.  Below you will find some of the differing perspectives on what Wealth is or is not, and how they define the concept.

Note:  As with all Inside the Diner compilations, the Napalm has been edited out for a smoother read.  Full version is available Inside the Diner for those wearing fireproof BVDs.

———————–

From JRM:

This thread is for discussion of a tangent which appeared recently in RE's thread, The First Law of Wealth. The basic theme was and is the question, What is wealth, really?  I take this to be basically a philosophical question.  My contention has been that Adam Smith's definition of wealth, which has been the accepted mainstay of modern economics, is deeply inadequate and problematic — both formally within the field of economics and less formally in everyday usage outside of this field.

Smith defined wealth as "the annual produce of the land and labour of the society".  The concept is further elucidated by Smith in his writings, of course. The Wikipedia article on Wealth, in attempting to be more specific or clear, states, "This "produce" is, at its simplest, that which satisfies human needs and wants of utility."  The concept has always been a bit contentious, rough and ambiguous.

I have proposed that wealth is better understood as well-being. This concept is also a little vague, but I find it more clear than Smith's.  I proposed that we in the contemporary world should seek to gather together a more thoroughgoing theory of well-beinga General Theory of Well-being derived from various sciences, physical and social, as well as of relevant sub-fields within philosophy such as ethics and aesthetics. 

The notion that wealth is better understood as well-being (synonym: health) occurred to me when I read the etymology of the word, which roots the word "wealth" in the Old English word weal.
 

Quote

weal (n.1)

"well-being," Old English wela "wealth," in late Old English also "welfare, well-being," from West Germanic *welon-, from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (see will (v.)). Related to well (adv.).

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=weal&allowed_in_frame=0

 


The English word "health" has a different Old English root, but the concepts are intertwined. ( http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=health )  I take health to be at least roughly synonymous with well-being, if not a perfect synonym, and treat these as synonymous here.

A General Theory of Well-being (health) can (hypothetically) be derived, with some time and effort, from a study of the application of the concept of health and well-being as it appears in various sciences, be it medicine, biology, ecology, psychology, etc.–, but also in philosophy such as in ethics and aesthetics.  No such General Theory seems yet to exist, and so any progress in defining wealth in these terms may well depend first on such a General Theory.

I believe a very potent key to unfolding this inquiry into a possible General Theory of Well-being, and thus of wealth, may be found in the concept and science of resiliency — which is an important topic in systems science and theory.  Resiliency is a principal concept wherever health and well being are discussed philosophically and scientifically. This is so in psychology, ecology, medicine and so on, and I believe this is hardly a coincidence.  Resiliency and fragility are more than merely philosophical concepts; they are fundamental attributes of all systems.  And systems can be found … nearly everywhere, be they natural systems or artificial ones.

I believe that if a General Theory of Well-being should emerge from its current incipience, not only would this precipitate an inevitable re-framing of economic theory on the level of a paradigm shift in the field, but it would constitute the basis of a re-framing of our entire modern world view as a whole.  This would transform the entire field of education, of commerce, of architecture, of design generally….  The result would be a revolution in nearly all academic disciplines and a return to the unity of knowledge which pre-modern people had always taken for granted.

 

From JRM

Hypothesis:  Resiliency is a concept with applications across many disciplines, scientific and beyond.

Evidence:

http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss1/art23/table1.html

I'll compile a list of online resources which discuss resilience across various disciplines over time, and invite you to add to this list. 

Speculation:

I strongly suspect that when we gather together functional definitions and descriptions of the concept of resiliency in many fields of knowledge, in their simplest terms, we can set these next to one another and discern what is common to each, thus constructing a universal concept of resiliency alongside a general theory of resiliency.  I further speculate that the association of knowledge of resiliency from many fields will result in cross-fertilization between disciplines (subject areas). 

I believe some of the weaknesses of theory in, say, economics (e.g., in economic resiliency theory) may be revealed by association with the concepts and applications of resiliency theory in other disciplines, with psychology and economics, medicine and ethics/aesthetics, politics and history informing and enriching one another via this association and an associated interdisciplinary dialogue.

This is necessarily a critical inquiry, in the sense that a critique of disciplines and their theoretical orientations is likely to emerge with such a rich, interdisciplinary investigation. 

Inevitably, the philosophical concepts of fact and value will come into play here.  These two have been strangely at odds with one another vis-a-vis the fundamental division of the academic realm (education) into "the humanities" on one side (and associated "soft-sciences" such as social science generally …)  with "hard" physical sciences on the other.

Further speculation:

Until recently, most people have been fairly comfortable discussing wealth as "material wealth" (tangible, thus amenable to scientific analysis and with a clear definitional boundary) as if it were wholly "material," and thus a discrete concern in relation to "non-material wealth" (which has oftentimes been treated as an "aside" in economics).  My hunch is that this is largely due to the traditional popularity of a "fact/value" distinction in philosophy.
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact%E2%80%93value_distinction ) This also relates to our cultural habit of assuming that science cannot directly address ethical and aesthetic questions … and that ethical and aesthetic questions ought not be allowed to "muddy" or "muddle up" scientific ones.

(Edit:  In the near future, I hope to demonstrate why it is that material, tangible "wealth" can neither be conceptually, theoretically or practically be sharply segregated from non-material aspects of wealth.  These "two" are interdependent to the core.)

This is all rote habit in the dominant culture, so finding a bridge which all sides would be comfortable with will certainly present a challenge. 

I believe that bridge is near at hand, and not so "impossible" as we tend to suspect.

Doomer Context:

This being the Doomstead Diner, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with Doom or Collapse.

My basic answer is …

(a)  At least some of the challenges and risks in Collapse can be at least partially addressed or ameliorated by altering maladaptive, dysfunctional and inappropriate systems  and habits, before, during and after Collapse.

(b) Doing so will likely require a more thorough comprehension of just what it means for systems and habits to be maladaptive, dysfunctional and inappropriate.

(c) "Prepping" should not be an isolated, purely individualistic (or familial, or tribal…) activity, because…

(d) We're all in this together.

(e) Etc.

 

From JRM

Those with an interest in Collapse should be interested in the complex systems theory concept called "adaptive capacity." Note that in the following definition of that term the principles are applicable across disciplines.
 

Quote

Systems with high adaptive capacity are more able to re-configure without significant changes in crucial functions or declines in ecosystem services. A consequence of a loss of adaptive capacity, is loss of opportunity and constrained options during periods of reorganization and renewal.
Adaptive capacity in ecological systems is related to genetic diversity, biological diversity, and the heterogeneity of landscape mosaics. In social systems, the existence of institutions and networks that learn and store knowledge and experience, create flexibility in problem solving and balance power among interest groups play an important role in adaptive capacity.

http://www.resalliance.org/adaptive-capacity

 

"In social systems, the existence of institutions and networks that learn and store knowledge and experience, create flexibility in problem solving and balance power among interest groups play an important role in adaptive capacity."

These are broad, general terms, of course!  This is just a beginning to understanding how what is true about ecosystems is similarly true about social systems.  What does "learn" mean in this context?  This sounds like a simple question, but its deceptively simple.  Real learning, if you think about it carefully, must necessarily be in accord with the facts, with what is real and true.  Otherwise, it's not really learning at all.

Facilitating real learning (genuine education) has a kind of value which Smith's definition of wealth simply does not take into account.  This is but one of probably thousands of examples in which the richness which is true wealth has no accounting in Smith's definition of wealth.  Only economism is so reductive in this way as to measure "an education" in tuition fees or future earning potential to ascertain its 'value'.  Economism, here, bears similarities with scientism, which is not science but ideology.  Both are illusory ideologies, artifacts of simple-minded reductionism.

It's also worth noting in this context that the essentially economistic modern economic world-system, rooted as it is in a "thin" value reductionism, can readily be shown to shore itself up through a kind of parasitism, or expropriation of "wealth" through the consumptive reduction of values external to itself: e.g., resilient and regenerative systems, genuine education, social well-being, etc.  These are food for the hyperindusrial system. Its waste product is fragility.  You might say it eats good things and poops out shitty things — or fragile, shallow, empty things.  It therefore must reduce real learning to pseudo-learning, real education to a farce.

Thus the popular culture term for it: "death culture".

 

From Ka

I don't think I see the point of this. First, I can't see treating 'health' and 'wealth' synonymously. Suppose you were in solitary confinement, fed three bland but nutritious meals a day, and had an hour a day in the exercise yard, you would be healthy, but would you say you were wealthy?

Secondly, in usual talk, people call people "wealthy" if they have the money to buy the things that (they think) will make them happy, and "poor" if they can't. I take it you want people to stop thinking that way. Well, yes, but rather than go through complexity theory and talk of resiliency, wouldn't it be simpler to just point to the Sermon on the Mount, or the Eightfold Path?

 

From Surly

Ts is a very thought-provoking post. For a good while I've been trying to put together disconnected thoughts about the ideology of "growth" and the morality of the spreadsheet. This kicked some of those ideas good and hard.

I'm gonna need a bigger boat.

From Eddie

I've been reading the thread, and I'll have to admit JRM loses me at times, but I agree that wealth amounts to more than money in the bank, or gold or diamonds.

But I have to distinguish wealth from "well-being"…..wealth implies a store of value, which would include JD's example of a pantry full of homegrown food. It might even include a well-exercised and well fed body that gets adequate sleep, because that prevents illness. But the general idea of physical health? I'm not so sure. It gets complicated.

Some people are born with defects that mean they live their entire lives with diminished health, even though they try hard to be healthy. Some people abuse their bodies terribly, and yet remain generally healthy. That's a karmic thing, in my book.

In any case, health can go from great to really bad, really quickly. Once you're at the age where bodies naturally decline, no amount of good behavior and good diet guarantees health.

There are so many valuable things we put little or no value on in our culture….like the air we breathe, which is literally life  itself, from moment to moment. Don't think so? Try holding your breath for a few minutes.

Time….the wealth of youth. Time to do so many things, yet most of us, me included, waste time like it was unlimited. But once again, karma plays a role in how much time we get in a lifetime. An accident can snuff out the healthiest, youngest person…and they're just….gone. When you get older, you become more appreciative of time, I think. But young people? Not so much.

So, those things are valuable to me. But I've never figured out a way to store time in a bottle. According to some experts I like, like Ugo Bardi, we won't lose air before climate makes it impossible to grow food and live….so I think putting air in a bottle is probably not much of a strategy either.

The greatest wealth of all might be in good DNA. That's intergenerational wealth of the best kind in my book. Whoever it was who decided all men were created equal didn't know much about genetics. But that's a karmic crapshoot too. You get what you get.

Another kind of well-being is self-image. If you are born with DNA that gives you a healthy psyche, and you have the right kind of parenting (like before age four) that shapes you into an individual with good self-esteem. Growing up with a parent or parents who are your strong advocate in the world outside the home. Growing up with happy siblings and parents who love each other gives a child wealth that they will carry with them every day of their life. But you get that or you don't. You can't lose it once you have it, and if you don't get it early, it's damned hard to get at all.

Things that make us physically comfortable and protect us from the weather. Housing, heating and cooling,  a decent mattress to sleep on…all those things contribute to well-being. Whether you can stockpile comfort? Some things maybe.

What I'm getting around to is that I think of wealth as some kind of stored value. And most stored values are physical world values. Values of well-being are largely not amenable to being deliberately stored for future use.

Money, as long as the system functions, is a store of wealth…and then, when the fiat currency dies, it no longer is. So fiat money and digital dollars in an account of some kind are fragile. But they are really convenient in the world that now exists. The problem is the future.

Gold has a host of issues, but it's durable. Silver is too. How to buy metals and store them is a subject for a different thread. They do represent wealth,in my opinion, all arguments to the contrary fly in the face of history.

Food is very storable these days…but the ability to grow food into the future is really valuable too. To me food resilience is real wealth. Stored food, seeds, a place to plant them, food animals…all those things are tangible wealth.

Stored fuel is real wealth, but it's expensive. But a propane refrigerator and a 3000 gallon propane tank will give you refrigeration for more than five years. Fragile? Only if war breaks out.

Solar PV panels are a form of real wealth. You need knowledge about how to use them. There's a lot to know. Fragile? Definitely. But durable too, good for decades if they aren't broken.

Transportation. A sailboat, fully provisioned, could be a ticket out of war zone. We've written a lot about that. Wealth, yes, but a boat consumes wealth too. I wouldn't have one unless it was also my house. Too much ongoing cost and too much maintenance required.

Tiny house, like Dr. Chia, with all its well thought-out systems. Definitely a form of wealth, to me.

 

From JRM

I don't think I see the point of this. First, I can't see treating 'health' and 'wealth' synonymously. Suppose you were in solitary confinement, fed three bland but nutritious meals a day, and had an hour a day in the exercise yard, you would be healthy, but would you say you were wealthy?

 


Let's begin with the simplest Venn diagram.
https://d2gne97vdumgn3.cloudfront.net/api/file/RXqIbx54RTKarFp7Bv4F

In the leftmost circle section write the word health.  In the rightmost circle section, write the word wealth.  In the center section of overlapping circles, write a question mark.  Under that question mark place an H. H, here stands for "hybrid concept".  Cats can't breed with dogs, but take a moment to imaginatively visionalize what the outcome may look like if a rat terrier bred with an abyssinian cat.

Tough, isn't it!

Now imagine that wealth and health have much more in common than this rat terrier and this abyssinian.  (They most certainly do!)  What you're beginning to do here is to re-frame both terms in the middle section of the Venn diagram. The trick here is to allow each term to modify the others a little, to re-contextualize it, to bring it into another meaning which is both health and wealth.

This task is impossible if the concept of wealth you're employing is very shallow, rigid and narrow.  And it's NOT EASY to make something shallow deep, something rigid supple, something narrow wide.  It's an act of imagination — but what we're imagining here is not something like a fiction, a unicorn, say.  We're imagining what's really there in order to see what is really there.

In this context, let's examine the typical bundle of carrots we find in our grocery store today in relation to the typical carrot found in a grocery store in 1950. 
 

Quote

fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/

 


Through profit-driven breeding practices and profit-driven farming practices much of our food has become less beneficial to us, less nutritious. Less "healthy" (conducive to sustaining our well-being, our health).  The soil is less valuable than it once was. The food is less valuable than it once was. 
if "value" in this context is roughly equivalent to wealth, we're all less wealthy than we once were because of these practices meant to produce wealth.

Our pursuit of wealth, more often than not, results in a reduction of wealth.  Once you get that basic concept you can then examine most anything in our society and economy and find out whether and how this same thing is happening in that context.  It will shock your pants off if you look carefully. These are not a few isolated incidents but a whole way of life.  "Death culture".
 

Secondly, in usual talk, people call people "wealthy" if they have the money to buy the things that (they think) will make them happy, and "poor" if they can't. I take it you want people to stop thinking that way.

 


… and talking that way…

Actually, no. Not in everyday, ordinary life.  Not yet.  I think that will come if the paradigm shift continues to unfold and deepen.  In the mean while, just expect that the word "wealth" is much less clear in its meaning than it was yesterday.  Or last year. Or fifty years ago.

What I'm doing here is enriching the concept of wealth by attempting to remove it from its abstract context and to set the concept back down in the actual world in which we live–this concrete world.  A thing is abstract, in the philosophical sense, when it doesn't exist in the world of time and space. It is concrete when it does.  I'm talking about concrete wealth, and that breaks all the unwritten rules about wealth which economists and politicians (etc.) prefer us to utilize.

It's one of the many ironies here that when I speak of concrete wealth, as defined above, I seem to be making something very tangible less tangible!  After all, Adam Smith's "wealth" seems to be as tangible as could be!  No one could doubt that potatoes and barns and houses are both tangible  and of utility (which two components is the essence of Smith's concept of wealth).  But there is a method, and reason, for my madness!  As a careful observer and student of human ecology, ecological philosophy and ecological design over many decades, when I brought (and bring) my conceptual tool kit to things happening in our real, concrete, tangible world I keep seeing the same damn thing wherever I look!  One begins to notice a freaking pattern after a while. And the pattern is this: We modern, contemporary people, caught as we are in the fact and ideology of hyper-capitalism (a.k.a., hyperindustrialism)  have been plundering wealth as well-being like there's no tomorrow.   More often than not, we are reducing the well-being of living systems — personal/individual (our own bodies),
ecosystems (ecological, environmental), social (social health/well-being), emotional, aesthetic, spiritual…. Anything we are apt to call good or valuable is at risk or is being severely eroded in the name of "wealth production" — and it's about time for us to open our eyes and see what the hell is really going on here in the name of creating wealth!

We went so far astray because we have cultural blinders on. It worked out relatively okay for a while to use Smith's version of "wealth" as a guide, but now the consequences are much too severe to be ignored.  Let's stop ignoring it then!   I'm attacking the heart of the matter here. I want to pull those blinders off and show the naked world as it is. After all, we cannot honestly address a problem we cannot comprehend.

When I talk about "the naked world, just as it really is" I am talking not about objects, usually — which are real but only in a secondary sort of way.  I'm asking you to see everything as processes and flows, movement and relation.  Processes and relations.  This is my ontological frame of reference.  For me, processes and relations are primary, central.  Objects are real on in that they are fundamentally a matter of processes and relations.  This is why when I speak  of "the concrete" in relation to "the abstract" I sound a bit mad.   When I look at a thing, I see a flow.  Flows reveal a crucial aspect of relations.  All things are processes and relations.  (Smith, being an Early Modern, would not know what I mean.)

Also, I take disciplinary boundaries in knowledge fields as, at best, a heuristic device.  All useful knowledge, as I see it, is inter- or trans-disciplinary.  The field of knowledge is one.   Nothing so befuddles us as the perverse concept that we should stick to a discipline (subject area, e.g., economics, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, physics).

 

From Eddie

All good things come from Mother Earth, and we treat her rather abysmally. I personally doubt that we humans can collectively get over the extraction economy paradigm. You have to see the big picture, and you have to be interested in something besides how much money you can get from selling scarce resources. You have to look out for the welfare of future generations.

For the most part, the people who do recognize the problem are not the people making decisions on what gets done.

And it's very, very late in the game.

It's the bottom of the ninth, and the bases are loaded with fat cat billionaires.

 

From JRM

Oh, gawd, thank you!  This is precisely why I like dialogue, conversation…. If we stay with it we can, as RE puts it, "drill down".

I want to really drill down on this quote from you, Eddie. 

I've barely begun to give clear shape and specificity to the world-shaking insight which occurred to me when I learned the etymology of the word "wealth," which links wealth to well-being.  My whole view of the world began to dramatically re-orient, because I finally had the key which allowed me to fully see, understand…, comprehend what I'd be learning about since I was a kid. It was the Super Decoder ring that resulted in my own personal paradigm shift.  And there's no better way to give clear shape and specificity to a very complex insight than to write about it.  But I can't write about it meaningfully without a dialogue! It's too lonely an endeavor for me, sitting all day at a desk, thinking and writing all alone.  The writer/philosopher's life is too lonely for a gregarious guy like me.  And, besides, I need to test what I'm thinking about.  I don't want to go down blind alleys and get lost.  You fellas are helping me keep my path lit.  (We have some extraordinary people gathered here!  I feel very blessed by that.)

Anyway, a great place to Drill Down is around the concept of wealth as "stored value".  I love that! It's a very deceptively simple concept, because both terms, unbeknownst to most people, are wildly vague and ambiguous.  I consider this ambiguity to our advantage, here.

The term "value" is ambiguous and vague because when the word sits there all alone it's not qualified or characterized, as it would be if it had the modifier "utility (utilitarian?) value" — though even that is rather vague!  What we see here is that the word "value" has a great deal more dependency on particular context to have any meaning at all.   That said, I'm fully aware that in today's market economy a thing has "value" only in exchange, and the currency of that value is generally money (even gold is purchased with money).

So I've begun to examine the term "value" in "stored value".  Now let's look at "stored".  This term too is wildly context dependent to have much meaning.  As we all know, some "wealth" is "stored" exclusively in digits in a computer somewhere (in the cloud?)…. When that "wealth" suddenly evaporates, it does not evaporate in a literal sense, like water (which can be stored wealth).  Then there is the storage of vegetables, another kind of wealth.  Yes, we can see the vegetables in the pantry jars as wealth, but do we see the soil, air, water … the flows in those jars?  If we do not, we will miss the storage of seeds, the stored up knowledge and skills of the gardener… and we may miss the fact that those veggies were grown by someone who COULD have used those same hours (a form of wealth, hours) to earn thousands and thousands more dollars at another skilled activity.  Industrially grown vegetables are "dirt" cheap. But they do not store the knowledge and skills of growing them, the joy and freedom of doing so… They do not store the seeds of heirloom species. They do not store the social relations value which can only emerge in a community garden. They do not store food security.  They do not store the comfort of knowing that one has food security in a fragile food system (fragile mostly because 
of the fragility of the financial / economic system.)  They do not store the regenerative practice of caring for the soils nutrient value.  And I hope I'm making my point here, because, quite honestly, I could list the things not stored in industrial food until I am blue in the face.

And that's just one tiny fragment of all I have to say about storing wealth.  I'm all for storing wealth!  In fact, that's what this whole topic is about! But we cannot meaningfully discuss the storage of wealth without pointing out the immense gaping hole in our collective storage facility, out of which wealth is gushing much like the oil and gas gushing up out of the ruptured pipe in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon calamity.

But I intend to go several steps beyond familiar ecological economics critiques in my exploration of the gushing waste and destruction of wealth which our society's wealth destroying death culture system is producing.  For when I turn my gaze away from the ecological and environmental ruin, I see also social ruin, emotional ruin, spiritual ruin spewing up out of that rupture. The very same rupture!  I want to stop this madness! Now.

But first we must understand why it is spewing up waste in the pursuit of "wealth".  And we can't do this without taking all forms of wealth into account, and seeing how they are all linked together. 

To do THAT is to usher in a paradigm shift not only in economics, but also in the very worldview which "runs" our world.

 

From Eddie

I see also social ruin, emotional ruin, spiritual ruin spewing up out of that rupture. The very same rupture!  I want to stop this madness! Now.

That would be nice. I do agree with this assessment.

 

From JRM

I don't think I see the point of this. First, I can't see treating 'health' and 'wealth' synonymously. Suppose you were in solitary confinement, fed three bland but nutritious meals a day, and had an hour a day in the exercise yard, you would be healthy, but would you say you were wealthy?

 


Eddie and I have begun to discuss the notion of the storage of wealth, and of wealth as something stored.

Here, Ka, you are in some sense — perhaps unwittingly — addressing this very same topic.  I would suppose that it is for the sake of simplicity that your question was directed at an individual person's wealth.  By starting with simple things, oftentimes, we can acquire a concept which we may later apply to more complex things.  So starting with an individuals wealth seems to make sense.  But this is a problem for us here because the dominant paradigm, which I seek to illustrate an alternative to, is focused on the accumulation (or storage) of wealth (as defined by A. Smith) in units smaller than the whole system.  Focusing on an individual perpetuates this atomistic approch.  Specifically, the focus on the isolated individual, as in your case illustration, seems very likely to be requesting of us to examine wealth in social atomism terms.  Social atomism assigns the individual as the basic unit of analysis for all implications of social life. It's a form of reductionism as applied to social systems.  Our prisoner is himself being "stored" (bound, contained) — but away from various kinds of wealth which are outside of his storage container. 

I'm attempting here to further develop the notion of storage, which I see as containment.  People can be "contained" in relation to — with — wealth, or  away from wealth.  Examples of being contained away from wealth are in prison, outside of a "wealthy" gated community, … or anywhere where food is stored with limited access (e.g., grocery store for those without job/money,  family pantry).  Containers have boundaries.  Boundary is our fundamental concept here.

For you to understand what I'm getting at about the proposed alternative paradigm of wealth, we have got to look at it without a social atomism filter on our goggles. If social atomism assigns the individual as the basic unit of analysis for all implications of social life, what would be the characteristic of it's "opposite" … out on the other end of a spectrum?  I will propose the term "social holism" as the contrast term.

I did not find a good, succinct definition and explanation of social holism on the web right away, so I settled upon offering this explanation of holism versus reductionism insteadhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_kbt7h1YRw  I only watched a few minutes in, so i don't know if it eventually gets into social holism, per se.  But if you grasp the holism / reductionism distinction you should have the basic idea.

The economic paradigm proposal I'm proposing takes a holistic perspective on all things: wealth, health, value, society, individual people — everything — even money.  I have no interest in atomism of any kind other than for the purpose of contextualizing the "atoms" in a holist perspective.

I do not believe in atomistic wealth at all. Nor do I see true wealth as fully containable — because wealth, like all things in the real world, are process, flows and relations.  Even the five gallon bucket of dried pinto beans, to be "wealth" must eventually become unsealed, cooked and served.  And the use of gold for exchange implies and constitutes a flow and a relation.  It is not fully contained.  But neither is a cell, nor an individual — in biological terms.  In the cell, health and function depend upon a semi-permeable membrane.  The same is true of whole organisms, in some sense. And of whole communities…. Even Earth is not a fully closed system.  It requires its relationship to the sun, for example, as a whole living system.

Flow. Process. Relation.               Not static, rigid, fully internalized objects.

 

From RE

When you talk about wealth, you have to first consider the hierarchy of needs.

Before anything else as a Homo Sap, you need Food, Shelter, Water, Breathable Air and Clothing.  These are all material things.  The first 4 are absolutely essential, the last could be optional in a climate warm enough year round.  However, even in quite warm climates with primitive people they don't usually go around buck naked.

In Industrial society, the first 2 always cost money.  Water has in the past been free, but now Water bills if not paid directly are paid with taxation.  Air is still generally free, but in quite a few places is now not fit to breath.  Clothing always costs money.

Now, here in the FSoA, before you can even start to think about Wealth enough to afford Health Care, you have to have enough to cover all those basics, plus a few more now necessary like transportation and communication.  The problem here is that for half the population, they only have enough to cover the basics.  If you don't have enough for food or shelter, you're not going to be very healthy.

Now, once above the median income, you start to have enough money for some Health Care, but depending on what your health issues are, it can get quite expensive to try to stay healthy.  Insurance itself is quite expensive, so you're now moving up the ladder of costs you have to pay out each month before you can even begin to think about saving some material wealth for security, whether that material wealth is measured in canned foods, dollars or gold coins.

Only after you have covered all these material things and health coverage and some savings can you begin to start to look at other sorts of wealth, like spiritual wealth or environmental wealth.  People in India for example are too busy just trying to get enough food to eat each day to be able to do much in the way of enhancing their spiritual wealth or the environmental wealth.

The problem here is that all the essentials of living have been thoroughly monetized.  So the general definition of wealth is how much money you make or have piled up in savings.  Until we can run a society that is free of money, this will continue to be the general definition of wealth.  A lot of money buys you good healthy food to eat, you can afford to shop organic at whole foods.  A lot of money buys you health, you can afford 7 heart transplants like David Rockefeller.  A lot of money buys you a relatively clean local environment to live in, you can build a beautiful McMansion in the Rocky Mountains overlooking a river full of fish with clean air to breathe.  The only form of wealth money does not buy directly would be Spiritual Wealth, but even here having all the other things well covered gives you time to contemplate existential questions.  Not to say you can't do this even if you are materially poor, since it doesn't cost any money to dwell on the nature of existence, but usually if you are worried about where your next meal will come from that is more at the forefront of your thinking.

So anyhow, when I use the word "Wealth", because of the nature of a society that is run on money, I'm talking about monetary wealth, not all the other types of wealth which you might define.  I think most people use this definition when talking about wealth.  If you want to avoid confusion, it would probably be a good idea to create a new term for the other areas.

 

From JRM

I think most people use this definition when talking about wealth.  If you want to avoid confusion, it would probably be a good idea to create a new term for the other areas.

 

 

Quote

"Edward S. Herman, political economist and media analyst, has highlighted some examples of doublespeak and doublethink in modern society. Herman describes in his book, Beyond Hypocrisy the principal characteristics of doublespeak:

What is really important in the world of doublespeak is the ability to lie, whether knowingly or unconsciously, and to get away with it; and the ability to use lies and choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don’t fit an agenda or program."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak#Origins_and_concepts

 


I'm concerning myself here mainly with how the word "wealth" is used in doublespeak, and especially as it is used "unconsciously".  If we do not understand what real wealth is, we are subject to other people's use (and abuse) of the word.

It is good that we keep in mind that "wealth," as the term is now popularly used, is "generated" through the clear-cutting of intact, old growth forests — which are "replanted" as tiny monocrop saplings … and through the dropping of bombs on towns and cities full of innocent non-combatants….  It is "produced" by damming wild rivers, fracking the hell out of oil and gas fields, and blasting the hell out of mountains under which coal can be surface mined.  It is created through the destruction and replacement of locally owned businesses with corporate giants….  And if a child gets asthma from the burning of coal, that creates "wealth" in the hands of those doctors who "treat" the asthma.  (I put "treat" in scare quotes because if a doctor wants to "treat" coal-caused asthma she will seek to shut down the coal burning plants. That will be the principal treatment method.)

Undoubtedly, the world's largest store of "wealth" is in the form of fossil fuels, which, if burned, would surely result in the mass extinction of most currently existing Earth species.

That's doublespeak, and doublethink.  It is, in other words, false.

I will not allow the word wealth to be misapplied for the sake of convenience.

All true wealth must be produced via either sustainable (thus good) or regenerative (better) practices.  Anything else is doublespeak and doublethink. 
And that's just the start, because man cannot live on bread alone.  We have more than merely material needs, such as our need for belonging, connection and community.  It is not enough that we be merely sustainable or regenerative in ecological terms. We must also become sustainable and regenerative in social terms. Etc.

 

From RE

I will not allow the word wealth to be misapplied for the sake of convenience.

 


Your problem here is that you can't communicate with people if your definition of wealth is radically different from theirs.  You have to use commonly accepted definitions of a word to be understood.  For Wealth, according to Merriam-Webster, the definitions are:

Definition of wealth

    1
    obsolete :  weal, welfare

    2
    :  abundance of valuable material possessions or resources

    3
    :  abundant supply :  profusion

    4
    a :  all property that has a money value or an exchangeable value b :  all material objects that have economic utility; especially :  the stock of useful goods having economic value in existence at any one time <national wealth>

It's not a lot different than your beef with the fact the righties have the word "Libertarian" sewn up.  You want to try and "take back" this word from them.  Now you want to redefine what the commonly held notions are of "Wealth", to take that word back.

I don't think you will be too successful with getting back either word.  Define a new one, and you might communicate the ideas better.  Using a word most people use differently than you do just spawns confusion.

 

From JRM

"Your problem here …."

 

No, actually. It's not my problem alone. It's also your problem, and the problem of anyone and everyone subject to the misappropriation of words. 

Curiously enough, your post began with

"1
    obsolete :  weal, welfare" (a.k.a., well-being)

Along come some people who decide to hijack the word wealth removing its original meaning from back when it was "weal" (well-being).  Adam Smith writes a voluminous text with a voluminous title, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" in which he redefines wealth as so much personal, familial or national property-stuff.  He gets folks to buy into his definition, and pretty soon dictionaries are calling the earlier definition "obsolete".  If in twenty, fifty or a hundred years Smith's version is decided to be "obsolete," as well it may, it will begin to look like a tennis match, the ball flying back and forth across the net.  So who's right, then, over the long haul?

I say I am.  So I'll keep the original meaning of the word, thanks.

My argument is much better than Smith's.  He didn't understand complex systems half as well as I do.  I'm standing on the shoulders of giants.

https://youtu.be/kleqF3X1_l4

 

From RE

I suggest using the word Weal then to get back to the original meaning you wish to communicate.


Weal seems to me to be precisely what you are talking about, and it's a word already in the dictionary!  So you don't even have to define a new word here!  You've already GOT one to use!

I could write a whole blog on this with no problem whatsoever.  I'll start a paragraph…

Here on the Diner, we are concerned not so much with the "Wealth" of society as the "Weal" of society.  It's not a word commonly used anymore, but it should be.  The word and concept of Wealth that developed from Weal is destructive to our society and our planet…

 

From Palloy

In English as spoken by the English, "weal" is not obsolete, and is almost always qualified as "the common weal", and hence British Commonwealth, etc., meaning the welfare of the nation/Empire.  I suppose there could also be "the personal weal" and "the family weal".  Since I think you want to compare/contrast "personal weal" with "personal wealth", it would definitely make sense to use another phrase. 

The family weal has implications of giving value to family relationships, which can be paramount in peoples' lives – if you have a good, loving relationship betweens spouses, and between them and their children, poverty of wealth can be endured/overcome.  "When I were a lad, …"

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xe1a1wHxTyo

From Lucid Dreams

Currently I'm reading one of JMG's latest books Dark Age America.  He talks about wealth and money, and he points out that money is not the norm in terms of our species time on Earth.  However, the arrangement without money, from a western POV, seems to be feudalism. 

Another idea that seems to work against money, I don't know too much about, and that is anarchy as a political movement.  I've never read any books on the subject, but I suppose I will soon because I have been growing interested in it lately.  Yet, it seems to me like just another idealistic movement that won't work simply because of it's composition of idealism.  I've learned that too much idealism just equals delusions.  There is maybe room for a smattering of idealism in daily life, but beyond that and you are setting yourself up for agitation, friction, and needless strife.  I'm well qualified as I have spent my entire life wallowing in idealism.  Even now, having identified this problem of mine, I still find it hard to ascend up out of the pit of idealism.  Idealism works in the realm of spirituality, and that is it's proper place it seems to me. 

JRM, this idea of yours is one of idealism.  On the one hand we have the empires practice of Newspeek to deal with.  They take over words all of the time and change their meanings, and they typically change them to their opposite meaning…which is what Newspeek is.  Not just words, but ideas and institutions."  "The Ministry of Health" being the place one would go to get tortured.  "Freedom is Slavery" and the like.  On the other hand, the idea of wealth is central to a corporeal existence, and it's defined as stuff and how much stuff you have, and what that stuff is. 

Yet there is the usage of wealth such as "he has a wealth of knowledge."  That means he has a lot of knowledge and knowledge is not a physical good.  It just means there is a lot of knowledge in his possession.  There is also spiritual wealth.  There are different types of wealth.  The common wealth, however, is money and and the things that money can buy. 

In this case, you cannot claim Newspeek because everybody uses the term "wealth" to mean material abundance.  The definition of the word has not been changed, you, JRM, are trying to change it, and so I agree with RE that you should just use another word.  This is similar to the debate we had about the word "cult."  Here on the Diner I believe the dictionary is judge and jury in these cases.  We rely solely on words to communicate via this forum.  The dictionary's purpose is to define words, and so we must acquiesce to those definitions.  The meaning and usage of words is a very nuanced thing, but in this case it is even less so than with the word "cult." 

There is a world of difference between the ideas of "wealth" and "value."   "Quality" is another word that comes to mind. 

You can't force spiritual ideas onto people.  It just doesn't work that way.  That's why the great spiritual practitioners simply point in the direction that leads to enlightenment.  You have to go their yourself or it doesn't work.  I'm of the opinion that real wealth comes from a spiritual place because in the end we all die and we can't take our "wealth" with us.  Doesn't stop us from trying.  The real wealth we are here for is an intangible wealth that is made of experience and knowledge.  I believe when we die we can take that with us, if only to help navigate our way back to source. 

 

From JRM

The dictionary's purpose is to define words, and so we must acquiesce to those definitions. 

 


Good, comprehensive dictionaries include the usage of the word wealth as I'm using it here.  And words are always changing.  They change when people use them differently.  And there's no reason why a person cannot call for, suggest, a change in usage. 

My purpose here, in part, has been to reveal how the popular use of the word wealth in economics terms is flawed and should be altered.

If what I'm saying here is "idealism," that's fine.  I have often been called an idealist. It's not a word I prefer to use to describe myself, actually.  I see myself as an intelligent person who despises falsity and ignorance being employed in "official" places as part of a system of deception, foolishness, destruction and oppression.   I will not stop sharing my thoughts about such things because it's supposed to be "idealism" which is supposed somehow to be ridiculous, silly or irrelevant.  Of course, if no one here is interested in some part of what I have to say, they can just ignore that part — this thread, for example.  It's not everyone's cup of tea, obviously.  But it matters to me.

 

From Lucid Dreams

The dictionary's purpose is to define words, and so we must acquiesce to those definitions. 

 

 

 

 

Good, comprehensive dictionaries include the usage of the word wealth as I'm using it here.  And words are always changing.  They change when people use them differently.  And there's no reason why a person cannot call for, suggest, a change in usage. 

My purpose here, in part, has been to reveal how the popular use of the word wealth in economics terms is flawed and should be altered.

If what I'm saying here is "idealism," that's fine.  I have often been called an idealist. It's not a word I prefer to use to describe myself, actually.  I see myself as an intelligent person who despises falsity and ignorance being employed in "official" places as part of a system of deception, foolishness, destruction and oppression.   I will not stop sharing my thoughts about such things because it's supposed to be "idealism" which is supposed somehow to be ridiculous, silly or irrelevant.  Of course, if no one here is interested in some part of what I have to say, they can just ignore that part — this thread, for example.  It's not everyone's cup of tea, obviously.  But it matters to me.

 


From one idealist to another, I understand your frustration. 

It's not that your ideas are ridiculous, silly, or irrelevant, it's just that they are ideal.  Economics is a "science" that can never be ideal.  It's made of statistics (lies), propaganda, lies, theories, and finally the reality that results from the combination of all of those things.  The truth is that economics is a lie.  It's just the science by which the men at the top stay at the top.  They are at the top because they want all of the wealth for themselves and they are vile enough to do whatever it takes to ensure it stays that way.  They are perfectly happy with their wealth, and they want the rest of the world to see things exactly the same way that they do.  They want us in competition with one another for wealth. 

No matter how you slice it, corporeal wealth is made up of materials.  Wealth is just having a lot of something desirable. 

I don't know…kinda feels like I'm pissin' in the wind here. 

 

From RE


You're not pissin' in the wind, because the word "wealth" is used commonly to describe the material world, generally speaking.  JRM wants to REDEFINE the word to encompass more than just material things.  As long as $MONEY$ rules the world, this is not going to happen.

Money will rule the world until the Monetary System Collapses, which it will eventually.  They always do collapse.  Neal Stephenson called the monetary system the "System of the World" in his trilogy The Baroque Cycle.  I highly recommend it for a read.

 

For still more on Wealth, including all the Napalm, join us inside the Diner!

How I Survived the Collapse: Chapter 10

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 11, 2017

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Karl was in shock.

A first impulse was to question Karen's declaration, but in his heart he knew it was true.  He had always known it was true, but he had pushed it down and rejected it, as he had rejected Maggie's love for him. He couldn't take responsibility for Karen and live the life of a Solitary Man that he had chosen for himself.  His tears began to flow freely, there was no holding them back now.

"When did you find out?  How long have you known?" Karl finally asked, gathering his composure.

"Mom told me in her last months.  She didn't want to burden you with me and so she married Porter, who I thought was my dad.  Porter turned out to be a philanderer though, always cheating on mom, and she got tired of it.  So she came back to Lolo and back to work at Quinn's.  I never got to know Porter all that well, since I was only 5 or so when they got divorced, and I never saw him afterward.  She never wanted to tell you though, because she knew it would force you into a relationship that wasn't in your nature.  She told me before she died because she thought I should know and make my own decision.  I wasn't sure until I came over to the table I could go through with it, but I had to."

Karl didn't say anything immediately, he was torn with his emotions.  Looking deep inside himself, he cursed himself for his selfishness, and though it was far too late now to make up for it, he was going to do what he could to make it right.

"I am glad you told me Karen.  I believe I knew this, but could never admit it to myself.  We need to talk more.  A LOT more."

"I don't want you to think I expect anything from you.  Mom said it wasn't in your nature to be with others, you mostly like to be alone."

"That was true Karen, and it's how I lived my life, but now I am sorry for it.  I'm not going to live that way anymore.  There are important things happening, and you need to know about them."

"I can't talk now Karl, I have to get back to work."

"When is your next day off?"

Karen pulled out her smart phone to check her calendar.  "mmm, not until Tueday, but I might be able to trade with Theresa and get off Monday."

"See if you can do that." Karl replied.  "let me give you my phone number and email so you can let me know."  Karl wrote down his contact information on a napkin and handed it to Karen.  He couldn't remember the last time he had done that.

"OK." Karen said.  "Here is my contact information."  Karen handed him a business card, titling herself "Engineering Consultant".

Karl smiled.  "Oh that's very professional Karen."

Karen laughed. "Yea.  If I could find somebody to actually consult for, it would be really good!  OK, gotta get back to work.  Emily is covering my tables and I told her I wouldn't be too long."

Karen left the check on the table, which was for a bit over $100, so he left two Ben Franklins on the table, and walked outside to his ZEV, his heart racing.  The night was crisp and clear, but temperatures had dropped so Karl pulled his gloves and windbreaker from the storage compartment under the seat, unplugged from the outlet and flipped on the circuits.

The ride home was smooth and clear with few cars travelling, as it was already close to 9PM and the day travellers had mostly left already, and vacationers at Quinn's were settling into their cabins for the night.  The drive was full of emotions and thoughts, so much to consider.  How could he make up for all the lost years with Karen?  How could he work with Kenny to build a resilient community?  The thoughts were all jumbled, and there was no way to make any sense of them, so he let them go to just enjoy the ride, in the near silence of the ZEV electric motor, humming peacefully as he finished the drive back to his Earthship.

"It will be great to have some visitors finally." Karl thought to himself.  "I'll be able to show them my permaculture garden and my raised beds, and they can meet my goats Keebler & Kookie and my horses Mr. Ed and Pegasus!"

He was feeling great about this until he opened the door and walked inside the Earthship.  The place was a MESS!

Although Karl was quite organized and meticulous with his garden, he wasn't so good about keeping his digs too neat.  Cleaning up could always be left for "tomorrow", although tomorrow didn't come too often for cleanup.  Like many old bachelors, Karl was a slob.

"ACCKKKK!" Karl exclaimed aloud, even though there was no one around to hear him.  "This place is a fucking pig sty!"

Frantically, he started cleaning up, but then realized he was thoroughly exhausted and emotionally drained from the day.  "Tomorrow, I'll clean up tomorrow" he thought to himself.  "I MEAN it this time" he reinforced to himself, and then flopped down on the bed.  His eyes closed and he was off to dreamland in seconds.  As the sleep overtook him, he realized how much his life had changed that day.  He had a new friend in Kenny, another prepper who saw what was coming, although a whole lot younger.  More than that, he had a DAUGHTER!  Everything he had done, all he had built was not for him, it was for HER!  There was only one possible explanation for such improbable events to all happen that day.  It was the Finger of God.  It was his last thought of the night.

—–

Foghorn Leghorn the Rooster awoke him at daybreak, and in half-asleep fashion as usual Karl headed to the coop to see if there were some eggs to collect, and got about a half dozen nice ones.  He dropped them on the counter in the kitchen, got some Maxwell House brewing in the drip coffee maker, then headed on autopilot into the shower to start waking up.  The shower got him about half wakeful, and the Maxwell House did the rest.  He scrambled up 3 eggs with some Moose Sausage and home fries from his potato tower for breakfast, then looked around at the disaster area he had to clean up.  He couldn't remember the last time he had done a full clean up, it had to be at least a decade.  He had two days to get it done!

Well, it wasn't going to get done sitting on his ass, that was for sure.  First up, the Kitchen!  First order of business was his breakfast plate and the skillet he used to cook with, then the stove and oven.  He had all the cleaning supplies needed in his preps, just he never used them. The dust on the can of EZ Off Oven cleaner looked like Pompeii after the ashfall!

Cleaning out the refrigerator was an even more gruesome project.  As he worked toward the back, there were leftovers probably from the Reagan era with entirely new forms of life growing inside.  Well, he thought, at least they will make good compost!  Mopping the floor was another major project to get through the layers of grime to the beautiful terra cotta tiles he had carefully laid down so long ago.  Mopping wasn't enough, he had to get down on his hands and knees to scrub, scrub and scrub some more.  By the end of the morning though, the Kitchen was gleaming like new!

Checking his email over lunch of a salad from his raised beds and a bowl of chicken soup, there was the usual collection of spam and newsletters from stockbrokers, but also a note from Karen.

"It was so great to finally get this off my chest and be able to tell you the truth. You are a sensitive soul, just like mom said.  I spoke with Amelia and she will take my shift on Tuesday?  Where should we meet?"

Karl was tempted to write a long response, but kept it short.  The feelings he had could only be adequately expressed in person, face to face with Karen.

"I also was glad to learn of the truth here Karen.  We have so much to talk about.  I want you to come over to my place on Tuesday, but it is rather hard to find right off, unless you have a good gps.  In any event, I will come to pick you up on Tuesday morning.  Where are you living?  Can you send me the address?"

After deleting the spam and making a couple of minor changes in his portfolio based on the latest and greatest news and recommendations, Karl moved onto the next big project, the bathroom!

The water from his well was rather hard, and the calcification in the toilet was so thick and hard he needed to use a chisel to get it off the porcelain.  Steel wool just wasn't good enough.  The shower curtain had too much mold on it and wasn't worth trying to clean.  It went into his rapidly accumulating bags of garbage to take to the dump, or as he liked to call it, "the land of away".  Despite the fact he had tried to not create a lot of waste of this sort over his life, he still had made his share of it.  All the bubble wrap and blister packaging of items he bought over the years probably would have been a mountain in and of themselves, had he not burned most of that stuff himself.  That contributed still more CO2 to the atmosphere.

How many computers and laptops and peripherals had he gone through since buying his first Radio Shack TRS-80 back in 1977?  It was impossible now to count them all, and each one full of heavy metals and other polluting waste, most of which never really got recycled although he did bring the ones that no longer worked or were obsolete to the recycling center.  How many cars and motorcycles did he go through beginning with his first Ford Mustang Convertible he bought brand spanking new off the showroom floor on credit after getting his first job on Wall Street right after college?  Almost too many of them to count also, although he was pretty sure he remembered them all.  How much gas had he burned in all those vehicles over the years?  That was impossible to calculate.

Karl mused on all of this while scrubbing the toilet and hitting the bathtub and shower and sink with Comet Cleanser, and silently forgave himself for all of it.  He didn't really have much of a choice over all those years, that was the culture and society he was born into, and there wan't really a whole lot of choice along the way.  He couldn't have set up his doomstead without a good deal of money, he couldn't have brought in all the materials he used to build it without a pickup truck, and he couldn't have gone food shopping without a car either!  Although he was probably 50% self sufficient now, even that had taken him years to achieve.  Whether 100% self-sufficiency could be achieved after industrial civilization collapse really took off remained an open question.

Dinner time approached and the bathroom was finally done, sparkling clean now like the kitchen.  He would head into town tomorrow to pick up a new shower curtain, as well as some new bath rugs since the old ones also were beyond salvation.  He made an easy dinner out of a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup, to which he added some frozen tortelloni cheese filled pasta to to fill it out some more, along with sprinkling on top his own goat cheese.

Checking his email once again, there was another message from Karen off her smart phone from work with her address and a query what time he would get there to pick her up?  Karl was eager to get her and easily could have got there by 7AM since Foghorn was crowing usually around 5:30 or so, but he knew she worked pretty late at Quinn's so told her he would pick her up at 10AM, and give her a chance to sleep in a little bit.

Karl worked a little bit more in the evening to get the living room cleaned up.  It wasn't nearly as big a job as the Kitchen and Bathroom had been, but he took time to move furniture around and wax the hardwood floor. Monday's jobs would be his bedroom, office, and the guest bedroom he never used and had become a vast closet of preps.  He would also need to rearrange the garage to fit all those preps, and probably load up a whole lot more garbage to send to the Land of Away at the dump.  He might even have time to wash the windows and spruce up the outside of the earthship, as there were quite a few weeds growing around the place.

With luck, it wouldn't be too embarassing to bring Karen to his place.

Karen.  His daughter.  He shook his head again as the realization once again hit his consciousness.

The First Law of Wealth

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 8, 2017

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The First Law of Thermodynamics:

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, only transformed from one form to another.

 

How is wealth created?  Is it created at all?  An important idea in capitalist epistemology is that the capitalist system creates wealth, and that those who become wealthy within the system do so by creating that wealth.  Do they really?

The issue here is the idea that some people are "Wealth Creators".  Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, they all got incredibly wealthy, right?  So they must have "created" wealth, right?  This concept depends a whole lot on whether you view the idea of "wealth" from the POV of the Individual or from the POV of the System as a whole.  Which lens you use on this microscope on makes a HUGE difference on how you view the distribution of wealth in the society at large.

In order to better elucidate my POV, I am going to use 3 different examples of biznesses that supposedly  "create wealth".  I will look at my own last bizness of the many I have been involved with first, the Gymnastics Bizness.  Then I will look at the Dental Bizness, which is my friend Eddie's type of biz.  Then I will look at Tesla, Elon Musk's really BIG bizness, currently creating tons of wealth for Elon. lol.

The Gymnastics Bizness

Now, in the case of the Gym Biz, what the Gym Owner does is to insert himself in between well to do parents of kids who can afford a pretty high price tag of around $400/mo to be on the Team and coaches who know how to teach gymnastics.  Then there are lots of recreational gymnasts who come for 1 class a week for around $100/mo.  The typical gym has between 500-1000 gymmies running through it at any given time.  Because it is such a pricy sport to be putting your kid into and it is an optional thing to do (you don't absolutely NEED to do gymnastics like you need to have your teeth drilled when you have a toothache), the clientele has a pretty high average income.  Poor people do not send their kids to a gymnastics school.  So I put the average income for the Victims here at around $100K.

Now, if out of the 1000 Gymmies you have 200 on Team, that is $400 X 200 =$80K/mo income, x12 = $960K/year.  Your 800 other Rec gymmies are paying $100/mo for another $80K/mo, another $960K/year.  Total gross income here around $2M for a well organized gymnastics school.

On the outflow end of this conduit, the gym owner has the cost of his facility, equipment, salaries for coaches and the taxes & insurance he has to pay.  Facility costs can vary tremendously from old warehouses to custom buildings.  Equipment also varies from old beat up stuff bought used to brand spanking new stuff from Spieth-Anderson or AAI.  Coaches are almost universally paid low wages, often teenage ex-gymnasts are used as coaches at Min Wage before they even go to college.  You gotta be a really first class coach to get out of this Min Wage level and actually make a living at coaching the sport.  Even so, you never get into 6 figures as a coach unless you own the gym and run the conduit scheme.

Depending on the market they insert themselves into, Gym Owners can both become exceedingly rich or they can fail miserably, I've known both types over the last 30 years.  In neither case though did anyone "create" any wealth.  All they did was sieve wealth from one end, the victims, on the way to it's other end downhill in this process.  The gym owners who got rich were the ones who were best at soaking their victims, but they never created any wealth here.

Where did that wealth come from?  Well, many of the parents here are professional, doctors, dentists, lawyers and so forth.  They in turn were using their own conduit schemes to sieve wealth from their victims.  They have nice big paychecks incoming, so they can afford to pitch $400/mo after tax income to keep gymmie happy.  In fact it costs a good deal more than that when you include all the meet fees, team leos and warmups, private lessons etc.

The Dental Racket

So now let us look at one of the Victims of the Gym Biz, the Dentist with his prized young daughter with this quite rare talent of extreme coordination, strength and flexibility  and also pychological qualities of fearlessness and a drive to succeed, who sees Simone Biles/Mary Lou Retton/Shannon Miller/Shawn Johnson/Nadia Comanice on TV at the Olympics and wants to make her a STAR!  How is he "creating wealth" to do this?

In order to analyze the Dental Biz in detail,, I made a new Infographic to examine how the Dental Conduit Scheme works!

There are 3 basic Nodes here, the Dental Victims, The Dentist and the higher level extractors taking profit from the Dentist, which makes him a second level Victim.

I used some average numbers here, giving the low level Victims an average take home salary of $50K (which is probably a high estimate) and the Dentist an average take home salary of $250K (which is probably a low estimate).  I put the tax bill for the Dentist at a 50% rate, so it costs also $250K in taxes for the dentist every year.

For the wage slaves working for the dentist answering the phones, filling out the medical records and dealing with regulations and insurance companies, I figured 8 employees each making around $60K average, for around a total of $500K.  A dental hygenist might make a bit more, a records clerk less.

The dentist also has to buy a lot of expensive stuff to run his bizness, those gold fillings don't come cheap these days you know!  Nor does the hardware for implants or aything else.  You also gotta upgrade all the time and buy those expensive new Digital X-Ray Cameras, and you gotta fly all the time all over the country to Utah and other spots for getting your continuing education credits to maintain your license.  Then there are the Malpractice Insurance bills.  ::)

So, in order to maintain a $250K/year income here in this Conduit Scheme, the Dentist needs a Gross Income of around $2M before expenses, taxes, insurance, materials etc etc etc.  All of that money has to come from the Victims of the Dentist, each making an average of $50K.

So one way to look at this is how many Victims the Dentist needs to cover $2M in costs, and how much they have to pay him each year?  If the Dentist has 100 Victims, then each Victim would need to pay the Dentist $20,000 every year to keep this conduit scheme going.  Obviously, people making $50K a year cannot afford to pay $20K of that to a Dentist!  So really the Dentist needs more like 1000 Victims to be successful with the conduit scheme.  Now you are down to $2000 per victim, which is a bit more affordable at a $50K salary.  BUT, can a single dentist really drill the teeth of 1000 different people every year? 

I Googled the cost of Dental Fillings in TX.  :icon_sunny:
 

Quote

On average, a silver filling costs between $50 and $150 for one or two dental surfaces. However, the price increases to the $120 to $300 range, if three or more surfaces require a filling. The good news is that dental insurance covers a majority of the cost since a filling is considered a necessary procedure.Sep 20, 2013

Mansfield, TX Dentist Explains the Cost of Dental Fillings | Mansfield, TX
mansfielddental.com/2013/09/the-cost-of-dental-fillings/

 


Call the average cost $200.  To work up a $2000 bill, each patient of the 1000 needs 10 fillings every year.  So the dentist needs to drill 10,000 teeth each year, in 250 working days.  That's 40 a day, 5/hr in an 8 hour day.  So he has to drill & fill a tooth every 10 minutes, with a 10 minute break every hour to check for Doom on the Diner. lol.

Another way to look at it is how much money the Dental Biz needs to bring in each day to cover those $2M in bills.  If you figure the dentist works 5 days a week 50 weeks out of the year, he has 250 days of extracting money from the Victims.  That means that every last day of that 250 days, he has to bring in $8000 from the Victims.  If he is working 8 hour days, that works out to $1000/hr!

Now, since I do not have PRECISE numbers on this to work with, these are all just estimates.  BUT, even if you knocked my numbers down by half, you can see why it is not sustainable.  The folks who pay the bills at the BOTTOM cannot retire the debt and costs that the Dentist has!  They just don't make enough money to do that!  Somebody somewhere is working up a nice debt bill.  No wealth has been created, just an ever increasing pile of debt!

The only way this shit gets paid for these days is through ever increasing debt, and the asset in this example goes on the side of the Dentist and the liability goes on the side of the Victim. That is straight economics.  You cannot make something from nothing.

Clearly here, the Dentist has created no wealth, all he has done is insert himself into a position where he can serve as a conduit between people who have dental pain or issues and those free of dental pain or issues.  Unlike the Gymnastics Biz, it is not optional to visit or not visit a Dentist when you have a bad enough toothache. You have no options here within the borders of the FSoA, you MUST pay whatever the Dentist will charge to relieve your pain.  Unless you cross the border into Mexico, you will bankrupt yourself if you make an average salary trying to pay off the dentists for fixing your teeth.  I have visited at least a dozen different dentists over the course of my life trying to repair teeth here in the FSoA that other dentists in Brazil ruined in my childhood and adolescence.  Every root canal and every cap cost me $thousands$ on a very average salary of median income for the time period. You are talking at least a dozen of these things over the time period.  In the end, all that money went to waste, every single one of those teeth had to be pulled out of my mouth by a Mexican Dentist, who did it at the Bargain Basement price of $25 a tooth, whereas a Dentist here in Alaska would have charged me $300 a tooth to do the same job.  It's a great racket here in the FSoA if you can get licensed to do it.  Every last Dentist that I ever visited owned a Mercedes and had a nice huge McMansion to live in.  I paid for that, along with all the other Dental Victims.

Why can dentists here in the FSoA charge such high prices for these tasks?  Because they run a gated profession with few Dental Schools relative to population size and they make it EXTREMELY difficult for a foreign trained dentist to get licensed to practice dentistry in the FSoA.  So there exist a LARGE pool of victims (basically everyone since everyone has some kind of dental problem at some point), and a relatively SMALL number of dentists licensed to do the job on your teeth that needs to be done.  So they can pretty much set the price as they please, the only constraint on this being what the other local dentist will charge, since most people will not cross the border into Mexico.  As a Dental Pain Sufferer, you are over a barrel if you cannot make the border crossing to Mexico, you MUST pay whatever the Dentist charges or else suffer agonizing pain until you figure out how to yank the offending tooth out of your mouth yourself.  This is called a contract under DURESS, and it is illegal in Tort Law.  In reality, you are not obligated to pay any of these charges by tort law.  In reality, all dental patients shoudl file a Class Action Lawuit against all Dentists and strip them of their criminally stolen money and property.

The Elon Musk Flim-Flam

OK, we have now moved through 2 types of Small Biz, the Gymnastics Biz and the Dental Biz.  To finish off for the day here, let us look at BIG BIZNESS, Elon Musk's Tesla, Gigafactory Battey facility and Rocket Ship Biz.

Not a single one of these biz makes any profit at all, but they have a Market Cap of $BILLIONS$  WTF did all the money come from so Elon could build his toys without making a dime of profit for YEARS?  Can you imagine going for years with a negative net income and still getting credit to keep going?

Like all of the really large corporations and big biz of our society, it is all run on CREDIT, and if you are well enough connected the credit has been quite endless.  The "money" flowing down through the society into all the small biz like Gymnastics Schools and Dental Offices actually begins with these very large corporations and their associated banking industry, they are all created through the massive issuance of debt in the form of corporate bonds.  The other big money creation mechanism is from Goobermint bonds, debt which the population is supposed to retire through paying their taxes.  The debt of corporate bonds is supposed to be retired by profits from the industry, again which the population at large is supposed to provide the money for by buying the products.  In reality, in neither case can the population ever make enough money to retire the debt either created by the corporations or by da goobermint.  This can be masked for a long time, but if you notice just about every large corporate entity eventually goes bankrupt.  The railroads all went bankrupt, the big automotive companies like GM and Chrysler went bankrupt, and the airlines like TWA and PanAm also went bankrupt.  Then new ones pop up with new issuance of debt and reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, but they too will all go BK in the bye and bye.  No wealth was created here in any of these industries, only an ever increasing pile of debt along with a lot of landfill.

Similarly, Da Goobermint never created any wealth either by issuing out its vast quantities of debt.  While certainly Goobermints have built many roads, bridges, tunnels, power plants, sports stadiums etc, the maintenance cost on all of it is always greater than the revenue brought iin through taxation to pay for it.  So the only way to keep going with it is to issue out still more debt. Which they do as long as they can, but eventually smaller countries like Greece get cut off from the bond market, at which time their economy immediately tanks.  Similarly, any large corporation cut of from the corporate bond market immediately goes BK.

The "wealth" Elon creates is simply a bigger pile of debt somewhere else, bur unlike the gym owner or dentist, he has inserted himself into the very TOP of the food chain, getting his debt money directly from the folks in charge of manufacturing money, the TBTF banks.  Elon hardly needs Victims to bilk at all selling Teslas, hell he's only sold around 150,000 of them since 2008!  In the end, he's really bilking the taxpayer, who will end up with all the bad debt he has created on their balance sheet.

Nobody in this whole chain of events ever creates wealth.  They only sieve wealth in various types of schemes and rackets on it's way down the thermodynamic hill.  So where then IS the wealth "created"?

It's not created, it's EXTRACTED.  The wealth is the resources of the earth, and all that debt money that is created are little tickets (or now digibits) which allow you to buy some of the resources, most particularly the energy resource of oil.  Those little tickets trickle down through the rest of the economy, and various types of biznesses and rackets insert themselves along the way as the energy moves its way down the thermodynamic hill.  Who gets the privilege of creating these little debt tickets?  The folks who control the energy of course, which is why the Energy Industry and Bankstering Biz are so closely related.  It's why the Rockefellers who controlled Standard Oil ALSO founded the Chase Manhattan Bank, now JP Morgan Chase.  They issue the credit to buy the Oil, and it gets burned up all the way down the line in various stages as it moves through all the rackets.  The BEST rackets are at the very top of the food chain here, like Elon Musk or Mark Suckerbug's rackets.  Neither one creates any wealth though.

By the time you get down to small time rackets like the Gym Biz and Dental Biz, you're getting close to the end of the line on the way down to the final stop, the end consumer of everything that happened above in the chain.  The end consumer DEFINITELY creates no wealth, but rather destroys what is left of it on its way to its final destination as waste in the landfill or CO2 in the atmosphere.

What wealth there was in the Earth was captured over billions of years by photosynthetic organisms collecting energy from the sun.  Animal life just extracts that energy from the plant, then eventually both die and sequester carbon, and then after that Homo Saps evolve to burn up all that energy, and develop an economic system which does that.  Very rapidly too!

How long does the game last?  Only as long as there is a big enough thermodynamic gradient to support a downhill flow of the energy.  It appears we are getting quite close to the point where no work can be done exploiting the energy flow left.  At least not on the scale globally we have been doing it anyhow.

Inside the Diner: Adults in the Nest

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on Jaanuary 3, 2017

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

Recently one of the regular Diners K-Dog put up a provocative article by Michael Snyder looking at the growing effect of Industrial Civilization Collapse of grown children who continue to live with their parents into adulthood, as well as some adults who return to the nest later on.  There are many facets to this issue, some psychological, some sociological and some economic.  In the usual fashion of Inside the Diner discussion, numerous different perspectives on this were shared, and also as usual not all Diners agree on what is most important about this phenomenon.  Below is a selection of posts from the thread (I cut out the Napalm. lol), for those of you who do not already Lurk inside the Diner where most of our discussion takes place rather than out here on the Word Press blog commentary.  We're always happy to have a new Diner drop in and take a Collapse Meal with us, so don't be shy and come on in!  Just be sure to bring your Fireproof BVDs with you, because it can get HOT in the Diner Kitchen! lol.

From K-Dog

This article does not cut and paste well.  I recommended the original from the Sleuth Journal.

An appropriate choice for Doom Psychology.  For while we are doomed we have this going on:

 

From JRM

Quote

"According to the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of Americans in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket that are currently living with their parents hasn’t been this high in 75 years. "

 


Before we get our panties in a wad about this statistic, we should have a look at what happens — statistically — between age 18 & 19.  I suspect the percentage who are still living under Mom & Dad's roof at 19 is dramatically lower than it is at 18, the traditional age (in recent decades) in which boys and girls are expected to fly out of the "nest".  Then there's age 20 as the next break-off for statistical data. Then 21 … which isn't so damned unreasonable, really.  I mean, c'mon! It's tough out there and … and what's really so WRONG with sharing a house as a family before marrying off or whatever?  Is it really a catastrophe if little Billy lives AS AN ADULT under a common roof with parents who treat little Billy as an adult?

What happened in my house is that I was NOT EVEN CLOSE to being ready for being on my own at age 18, 'cause my ma and pa pretty much ignored (and/or seemed to want to)  the fact of my existence during my late adolescence, and barely cared a shit (or, rather, knew the needs of an adolescent) about me anyway in earlier years. They were too busy thinking about themselves. (They were married as kids (read, pregnant), and soon had kids of their own.) They had just divorced and split and I was popping back and forth after age 16 between the flotsam and jetsam of a broken family, feeling and being wanted or cared for not so much in either household. An unwanted problem, if you will.  I had none of the skills of adulthood at 18, and barely survived my tragic and confused (and long!) transition from adolescence to adulthood.   By the grace of gawd and all that….  Time and distance alone provided perspective on this horrible time in my life.

I left home near the allotted time, anyway. Ill prepared.

I really wish folks would NOT presume frailty and laziness (etc.) toward those who leave the nest past age 18.  This positions responsibility entirely on the kid trying to find his/her way into adulthood.  Maybe we should have a look at the parents? Hmm? What's their f**ing problem? Hmm?   Why do they leave poor Sammy and Sean (Sarah and Samantha) to fend for themselves long before they have any clues about what that may mean?  And where were they when they were supposed to be offering loving support and guidance through such a tumultuous time?  :-\

 

 

From RE

I don't think this has anything to do with the psychological maturity of the current generation of 18 year olds.  It's an economic problem, it COSTS too much to move out from your parent's basement!

As long as you don't have to pay rent, your salary as a Starbucks Barrista is enough to pay for your Iphone and internet connection.  Once you have to pay rent, staying connected becomes too expensive.
 

 

From John of Wallan

You nailed it RE: Costs.
Low pay is only half the equation.

When we first got married we rented modest apartments until we saved up to build a very modest house.
We have since expanded a couple of times and will be looking at downsizing again in the next few years as the cubs get ready to leave the den.

All the new houses I have seen are not what I would have called "First homes" 25 years ago let alone in my parents time.

We but too much shit to impress too many assholes.

I had a cheap $12 watch and a free 10 year old blackberry for work, (I destroy watches and phones, so will never but expensive ones) and I drive a 2nd hand Holden I got gifted for nothing!
A previous work colleague who continually complained about being broke had a $700 watch which he can not afford a battery for, and an $800 i-phone with a broken screen he could not afford to fix, drove a 1 year old VW and his wife drove a 3 year old Land Rover which she wanted updated, but once again could not afford….
I offered him my watch and phone to lend until his were fixed, and he turned his nose up at me! Seems some prefer nothing to being seen with what society dictates is not good enough…. My watch, phone and car all worked!

Unfortunately 18 months later I killed both my blackberry and watch. Car is still going strong with 350,000km on clock! (A bit over 200,000 miles in your pommy imperialist units. I thought you guys fought a war of independence with England?)

I now have a work provided i-phone (With a screen I broke after 2 hours!), and a new $7.50 watch in a $25 protective leather band….

In my spare time I fix things, make things, tend my garden and cut firewood for winter heating. People pay tradesmen to fix things, buy everything new and have gas or electric heating. They then are bored on the weekend and go out and pay money to entertain themselves, usually eating out, and then have to pay to attend gym to keep fit!…..

There is not even a thought of being in any way self sufficient. Its like society is aiming to produce the fat marshmallow people in "Walle". If they could I am sure half the population would get someone else to wipe their bums too!

Their children are snowflakes in training.

 

From K-Dog

Quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

"According to the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of Americans in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket that are currently living with their parents hasn’t been this high in 75 years. "

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


JRM,

You started a ramble about 18 and 19 year olds but the statistic concerns 18 to 34 years of age.  That is a huge difference.

If you have not started living your own life by the age of 30 something is seriously wrong with you despite how 'normal' you may appear to be to everyone else.  The prolonged adolescence of modern American adults leaves next to no time to be a genuine real life adult before old age sets in.  Do the math. 

We now have generations of parasites who suck the life blood from parents and elders like the zombies they are infatuated with.  Life should be about more than seeking endless pleasure, it should also be about creation.  Living in your parents basement living only from one distraction to another is not creating anything.  It is living a wasted life.  It may be that most people are quite content living a wasted life and in the absence of positive role models which show other ways to live; most people are incapable of rising up from sloth on their own because they are not imaginative enough to imagine any other way to live.  Few are above average in this regard.  Most snowflakes would not be able to comprehend the concept that by refusing to get on with their lives they are interfering with and causing trouble in their parents lives.  Their perspective is that parents exist to provide for all their needs, and nothing more.

This situation is indicative of is the disregard for all things 'manly' which happened with the emerging dominance of feminism as our dominant social zeitgeist.  When male values were respected as they once were; being an adult living in your parents basement was viewed as weird or strange.  No such judgment, and it is a very appropriate judgment, exists today.  If you share my disgust you have to keep it to yourself or you will be viewed as the one with a problem.

RE mentioned that a salary as a Starbucks Barrista is not enough to support an independent lifestyle and he is quite right.  What has not been said and what needs to be said is that living in a parents basement makes a Starbucks Barrista salary totally unnecessary because you can live for free and never have to grow up.  Mommy says so!

 

From RE

RE mentioned that a salary as a Starbucks Barrista is not enough to support an independent lifestyle and he is quite right.  What has not been said and what needs to be said is that living in a parents basement makes a Starbucks Barrista salary totally unnecessary because you can live for free and never have to grow up.  Mommy says so!

 


No, because while parents may continue to feed and clothe you and keep a roof over your head, they usually will not pay for your Iphone and internet bill past a certain point.

The statistics are the result of the economics here.

 

From K-Dog

Iphone and internet bills don't amount to much and don't require a steady job to pay for them.  The amounts are low enough so a modest inheritance from a grandparent or access to money from more nefarious sources than a steady job are sufficient to cover those needs and delay maturity for so many years that the years turn into forever.

As far as the Internet goes parents do pay for that.

 

From RE

A new phone every couple of years costs around $600 for a good state of the art one.  A 50 Gig monthly bandwidth on your 4G provider costs  around $70/mo.

This is just a portion of your costs though, you still gotta have some decent clothes to wear on the few occassions you actually interact with people, like while at Starbucks serving up the Java.

You don't get a "modest inheritance" until AFTER your parents are DEAD.  Until then, if they are nice parents and you still get along with them, they wil feed you and keep a roof over your head, but generally speaking the rest is up to you.  A salary as a Starbucks Barrista pays the rest of your daily living tab.

 

From John of Wallan

Parents should be aiming at producing children who can be independent.
I have seen individuals living on modest incomes doing fine.
If the mind set is "You can stay here as long as you want, eating for free and never lifting a finger", they will stay.
If the mind set is 'You can stay as long as needed, but you are either working or studying full time, helping out with chores, such as collecting firewood, and paying board if working", the individual finds a way to move out!
(Yes, that is what I have told my sons.)

Its not cruel. Its building independent, confident individuals.

 

From K-Dog

Grandparents can provide the inheritance and without a job you don't need the decent clothes.  The Barista job can be unnecessary, I have seen that it is with my own eyes.  The pittance for a phone can be earned by buying low on ebay and selling high and there are other ways.

My essential point is that living free and easy for most people is a trap and the trap now has total social acceptability because being a functioning adult is too much work.  It is a lot more work if you have never been one to start with.  Beyond endless pleasure it is the human ability to create which gives meaning to our lives.  Yet given the choice most people will not appreciate this simple fact and will foolishly choose endless pleasure instead of a harder path if they can.  Having a Barista job is good for character and character is not developed living in a basement without the need and consequent desire to ever get a job as the years roll by.

 

From JRM

More important by far than the ACTUAL numbers of people ages 18, 19, 20, 21, 22… which have left the nest in the aforementioned discussion is the possibility that the higher the age number the higher the probability that they've left the nest by that age.   If the spectrum is ages 18-35 and only one person in a thousand have remained "in the nest" between ages 25 – 35, while 99 percent of those still in the nest after age 18 but before the age of 19 or 20… or 23 … well, then, what you said was "impossible" is far more than possible.

You never addressed the actual statistics in this range at all.  Nor did I'  I simply disputed your notion that "it's impossible".

 

From RE:


It is perfectly possible (though certainly not likely) that 100% of people between ages 18-19 have left the nest

 


What is POSSIBLE vs what is PROBABLE are entirely different questions.  Just about anything is possible, but few things are probable once you have some statistics on them.

In this case, in all likelihood most of the folks still living at home are in the younger age range.  However, the Sample taken here is from a fairly broad age range, and the likelihood here is that you're seeing increasing numbers staying at "home" through the whole spectrum.  That only makes CFS based on the current economics.

Reading a lot of psychology into this statistic is IMHO ridiculous.  People don't stay in the nest because they wannabee taken care of.  They stay there because they cannot AFFORD to move out!

 

From RE

That said, I can assure you without a doubt that the older the "child" the more likely that he or she has left the nest.  The younger he or she is over the age of 18, the greater the odds are that he or she is still in the nest.  I would bet my middle pancake that men or women above the age of 25 years are FAR less likely to live with their parents than those between ages 18-20.

 


That is probably true, but it's not the point of the stat, which is a HISTORICAL point.  The issue is whether more young adults of ANY age within the range of the statistic are still in the nest now than they were say 20 years ago?  Based on economics of the cost of housing to become independent, this seems likely to me.

 

From K-Dog

You say: 

"People don't stay in the nest because they wannabee taken care of.  They stay there because they cannot AFFORD to move out!" Before the Waltons, people grew up in Tribes and never left them.

What you see here is a demographic shift based on economics, nothing more.

You can find individuals which make your point and I can find individuals who stay in the nest because they wannabee taken care of and that makes my point.   We are both right but never before in history have so many been content to live in the basement for so long as now.  Knowing what we do about feedback loops this is not a good thing.

 

From RE

Never before in history?  What is the history here?  Basement apartments are only around for the last century or so.

In prior generations, people grew up on the farm and stayed on the farm. See the Waltons.

Before the Waltons, people grew up in Tribes and never left them.

What you see here is a demographic shift based on economics, nothing more.

 

From Eddie:

I think most kids do move out, one way or another, either for school or a job, by age 19-20. In the culture my kids grew up in, 95% attend university. So they move out, even if Mom and Dad are footing all the bills.

Many of them, upon graduating (or not graduating)  find that it's difficult to make ends meet and move back home. Or move back to get assistance with living expenses while they pursue some kind of training aimed at furthering their financial means.

At present I am putting a roof over the heads of a 32 year old…and a 45 year old. The 32 year old has been involved in some kind of college or higher level training since she was 18, with only a few months off here or there. The 45 year old was  a successful actor who can't make it acting here anymore because the economic climate for film-making here has fallen through the floor due to the politics in the State House. He's re-inventing himself as a videographer, and doing okay…but living with me enables the two of them to have some quality of life, as opposed to barely getting by in the cheapest apartment, which btw, is not cheap at all. It's cheaper to live in Chicago than in Austin.

The young people I see doing well financially are all working for some tech start-up running on private cash…companies that mostly aren't even making money, but burning through investor money.

 

From Surly:

A lot more of this than people talk about. Young people who are out of the house at 18-19 are back at 24/25. Or 35.
It's a tougher economy in which to come up and gain your own footing. My own daughter is working plus going to school, plus supporting herself, but her apartment is the size of my desk.
We tend to forget that, in our parent's generation, it was not at all unusual to live three generations to a house. The boomer generation got away from that, but it was not at all uncommon with immigrant families. Plenty of my friends lived that way. And even today, it it not uncommon for sandwich generation types to have mom or dad move into the spare bedroom "so they can keep an eye on him/her."
Less money in the economy, as the .01 per cent keep skimming the cream to invest in bigger yachts.

 

From Roamer:

For what its worth I just turned 34 and my living situation could not be more precarious.  Currently its my truck, my tent, and an odd stint living on an oil rig.

I preemptively collapsed my own life back in 2008 and haven't had a secure career or living situation since.  Its hard to bounce back from that sort of choice when you are a loner by nature and don't have lost connnections and references needed to land a good job.  If the oil market stays OK for even a year I'll finally be able to bootstrap myself into something more secure.

I'd say about half the people near my age I know are in a similar predicament, usually alot worse.  I am mobile with no strings attached and no debt.  I could go to a city and settle for a tread water job and tiny apartment but have instead chosen precarious nomadic-ism.

 

From Lucid Dreams:

KD, with all due respect, this view of yours is complete bullshit.  Sucking the life from the parents like zombies?  What the fuck do you think a pointless job that doesn't pay enough to live is?  You call that creating?  What does creating anything have to do with an underpaid job that services a corporatocracy who's prime directive is profit, in spite of destroying the planet. 

All these kids living at home has more to do with the fact that there is very little worth doing in our society.  There is even less that will actually pay a descent wage you can actually support yourself on.  So you end up living with three other people who are barely scraping by and working in the service industry waiting tables.  I don't know how the fuck people working at gas stations and fast food restaurants get by.  They probably live at home.  You can't even afford rent on a trailer in a trailer park working at McD's. 

So these kids go to college and end up with 30 to 60k worth of debt that our society promised them was a smart move.  Ends up that you have better chances trying to make it rich in Vegas than you do with a worthless four year degree.

I'd say probably 1 out of 10 kids graduating from college end up with a well paid career.  The rest end up fucked and move back in because they can't make ends meet. 

I moved out of the house when I was 18.  I stayed on my own, mostly with roommates because paying rent and a car payment with a stupid job is impossible to do.  I ended up moving in with family at 32 years old and I'm still living with family.  I have a lot of reasons for that, and I'll happily go into those reasons if I need to. 

Let me ask you something KD.  Do you believe the collapse of our society is happening?  Do you believe peak oil is something we should be concerned about because it's reality? 

 

From RE:

I moved back home twice.

First time was after my divorce.  I left the ex-wife with the condo until we could get it sold, and I hadda pay my half of the mortgage even though I wasn't living there.  I took the new Astro Van which I was making the payments on.  I was too proud to move back home at first and lived for almost 6 months in the van.  I finally threw in the towel on that and moved home to the house I lived in from age 10 when we came back from Brazil to age 16 when I went off to Columbia.  I stayed there for about 3 years while I got my Master's.

The second time I didn't really live at home, but did keep most of my stuff there.  It was while I was trucking.  My mom had sold the house and moved to Springfield to be near my sister in her retirement years.  She had a 2 bedroom apartment and I had a bed and computer in one of the bedrooms.  I lived mostly in my truck, but every 2 or 3 months I would take a week or two off and I would usually stay about a week with mom and another week I would travel around and stay in motels visiting friends.

After I quit trucking and went back to coaching gymnastics, my habit was to take a Bates Motel room and pay a monthly rate for a few months until I was pretty sure I would stay at the gym a while.  My experience with gyms was that I would often get pissed off at the owner and I would quit or get fired.  However, during this period I did rent a couple of apartments also.  Lost my security deposit in both cases because I did eventually quit the jobs before the lease was up.

Finally I moved up to the Last Great Frontier, where I also took a Bates Motel room for the first 3 months during the winter.  However in May at the beginning of the tourist season they wouldn't give me a monthly rate, so I finally took an apartment where I stayed for around 5-6 years.  In that case I did get my security deposit back on moving out.  Then I moved into my current digs where I am now.

In both cases where I moved back home, without that fallback position I doubt I would have made it.  This also was in a better economic era than today.  There is simply no way young adults just starting out in typical min wage service industry jobs can live on their own today.  Rents are sky high while wages are basement low.  They either live at home or they triple or quadruple up to live in an apartment with a couple of couch convertible beds in the living room and a bunk bed in the bedroom.  Living at home is usually the better choice, since parents don't usually charge any rent at all so you can actually save a little money if you do this.  If you are apartment sharing, you have some share of the rent, electricity, etc.  In the big cities, even just a 1 bedroom goes for $1600, so split 4 ways that's $400/mo right there.

It's utter and complete nonsense to blame Millenials for staying at home in this economic environment.  It's the only thing that really makes economic sense to do.

 

From K-Dog:


I'm curious why you would ask me if I think the collapse of our society is happening or if peak oil is real.  The answer to both is a resounding yes.  You must be being rhetorical for some reason?

Perhaps you are asking me what collapse means because that is where things get interesting.  Collapse will transform society and almost everybody is going to have to be able to do more with less to maintain any quality of life worth having.  This is a fact, but like ants walking across an empty table all we see is wide open spaces around us.  We like the ants are not aware of the rest of the room.  Only our immediate circumstances define our existence.  We do not see the true situation or the 'bigger' picture of collapse.

I was not trying to piss everyone off and the fact is Ms. Dog and I lived with her mother for a couple of years when we were first married to save money before we got an apartment.  At the time I was in my mid 20's.  Later when we got a house we moved her in with us.  She was a widow and she was no longer safe living where she was living.  The area she is living in is now being gentrified but when we moved her in with us it was getting pretty rough.  Moving her in made my welfare checks miles shorter.

A point in the article was that while people have always combined houses to save money the temporary nature of this arrangement is no longer temporary.  A consequence of the situation no longer being temporary means that people are getting stuck in ruts and not moving forward in life.  To bring this reality out for discussion I advocated that some people are taking advantage of the housing situation and not growing up.  I'm sure this is the case because there are a lot of people who can't get through life without a lot of direction from others.  That is something that is always true for some but not all people.  Unfortunately everybody took my point too personally as a judgment against them when all I was trying to do was identify an intolerable situation.  The intolerable situation being the reduction of opportunity in our lives which in more base terms is the end of the American dream.

I hope my admission that I have needed help and provided help myself helps everyone to understand I make no judgments about anyone's personal situation.  The fact is our society is suffering from lack of direction and some people have false priorities as a result of this lack in direction.  Not everyone does; but in talking about everyone, we must remember that we all lie somewhere on the bell curve and we don't all lie in the same place.  That is the general situation and regarding a lack of affordable housing as our legacy for enriching Wall Street our society is brutalized as a result.

Back when fire was being invented and I was in high school a teacher I had made a point of clarifying the definition of brutalize.  He said the term was meant to describe the process of making someone into a brute and not actually being a brute.  The modern dictionary has both definitions.

1. To make cruel, harsh, or unfeeling.  <-(making someone into a brute)
2. To treat cruelly or harshly.                  <-(being a brute)

I have a genuine interest in looking at social/economic feedbacks and what they mean through a lens of collapse.  Modern life is brutalizing people (by definition 1.) and I am suggesting that the now permanent crisis in affordable housing is a  partial cause of a zeitgeist of denial that prevents our nation from making the right choices concerning our future.

I could cite the election of Trump as proof but that would be a cheap shot.

 

From RE

That was a good explanation of your intentions with the post, but I don't think the living at home is all that brutalizing unless you don't get along with your parents, which is the case for many people as they move through their teens.  Maybe the parent doesn't like them smoking pot or disapproves of them having sex or doesn't like the crowd of people they hang out with.  Then you end up with constant arguments and that is brutalizing.

In my case I got along fine with my mom and she was very tolerant of pot smoking, my bringing girls over, etc.  I also had the whole upstairs to myself as my sister had moved out and it was a nice layour with 2 bedrooms and a living room area and my own bathroom.  Once I got the condo sold I also did pay her some rent money each month, although a good deal less than I would have had to pay for a similar size living area anywhere in NYC.

What is brutalizing for everyone except the tiny percentage of college grads who still get good career track jobs is the realization that there is no real opportunity and no better future coming down the pipe.  So they retreat into the cyber world of texting and playing games and smoking a lot of pot, which they have enough money to buy since they are not paying rent.

Most of these folks are not really collapse aware, they don't understand the reason the society is falling apart and so often also they blame themselves for the failure to get a good job.  Or their parents blame them, which again is brutalizing.  Then you have folks like Moriarty who sneer at them and call them lazy and incompetent.

For those who do become collapse aware, it's no better.  Over on r/collapse the demographic has many more young adults, and regularly one of them will start a thread along the lines of "How do you handle your depression knowing about collapse?".  We're talking 17 year olds not yet out of high school.  On the right menu bar they have links for suicide prevention.

Of course the situation is only going to get worse, not better, and these days will be looked back on as the "good old days".  When we really do get full on collapse here in the FSoA this type of brutalization will seem like a Sunday Picnic..  Right now, a young adult is FORTUNATE if they have parents with a home big enough for them to keep living in.  But many parents themselves are losing their jobs and having their McMansions foreclosed on.  A forty year old GM worker who gets laid off can easily have a 20 year old child, and now everybody is homeless.  I actually had a friend living in Janesville, Wi who was in just this situation after the 2008 crash, although they didn't lose their house.  He did eventually get a new lower paid job, but it was touch and go there for a while.

The road to collapse is not a pleasant one, especially for the young.  If you're old enough, you've already lived most of your life, so if/when it gets bad enough you just can check out or maybe spend some time in a FEMA camp before the hammer finally comes down.  For the young adult though, they didn't get that life that they watched on TV growing up, and now they realize they never will.  That is definitely brutalizing.

From Lucid Dreams

Thanks for that explanation KD.  I was starting to not like you very much.  This is a topic that is EXTREMELY big on my radar of collapse issues for many reasons.  I really should just blog about it, but honestly, these days, I'm some what hesitant to share all of my personal information with the internet (which is in itself a very large collapse issue).  I know that every time I give more personal information it's being collected, and at the very least it's being sold to those fuckers that pay for those god damn advertisements on every website that clog my computer up and make it slow.  That's one of the reasons why I'm so thankful to RE for making this advertisement free virtual space to come and not be hassled by it. 

I don't so much mind telling my personal information, even knowing that it's being collected.  But I have a wife and two kids, and so my personal information is in a large way theirs as well.  GM has a rather large online life with lots of IRL people she knows.  Anytime I blog it's feasible that any of them can check in, and if I'm disclosing things about my personal life it can get rather uncomfortable. 

I suppose I could do like I did with the Whoville Chronicles and just fictionalize the whole thing.  Or just write about it in the Diner forum.  Here, I have at least a tad bit of anonymity, at least with people IRL in my wife's social media circle of influence.  After all, the NSA already knows everything they need to know about me.  I'm sure they've been keeping a close watch since I got myself kicked out of the Navy during wartime for being a conscientious objector, which is a social stigma I have been living with ever since.  I'm a war veteran that is not considered a veteran by the government or the people.  I always find it fascinating when people look down on me because I did not fulfill my "obligation" to continue bombing innocent people back to the stone ages.  During 9/11 those people were here at home shitting themselves with fear, and I was on one of the two carriers that dropped the first U.S. ordinance on Afghanistan, 6 millions pounds of it during a total of 115 days at sea.  Life ain't fair. 

But more to the issue.  I asked you if you believed in collapse and peak oil because I was starting to think you were like Mking.  Reading what you had to say about those poor kids who are fucked by both of those things, what else could I conclude about you?  I was walkabout for a while on the Diner, and I think that's when you joined the party, so I don't know much about you.  But you called those kids zombies, and you did it in such a way that it looked like you were blaming them for the economic situation that collapse is bringing us.  It's close to home for me because I willingly moved in with family.  I gave up a career in EMS to pursue permaculture and moving in with family was the only way I could make it happen.  At least that's what I thought at the time, but it's even more complicated then that.  I burned out of EMS is really the truth.  Not for the reasons one would think either.  I didn't burn out from the tragedy, gore, or dead babies.  I burned out from the new federal government bureaucracy that came in the beginning years of "Obamacare."  I burned out from the administrative and logistical bull shit that comes with EMS.  When I first started working on an ambulance I had the feeling that I had arrived at my career in life.  Finally I found something that I could do, and that I was good at, and that I had no moral complaint with. 

There are still more layers to this story of mine.  I became collapse aware in 2007 after reading JHK's The Long Emergency.    Before then I was stuck in the world of conspiracy theory.  After I got kicked out of the Navy I knew something was up with 9/11.  I smelled a rat while I was at sea bombing Afghanistan.  I think it had to do with the reports that I was receiving, while we were actively bombing, that we were hitting mosques, wedding parties, and red cross centers.  When I got out I went on an expedition to find out what the truth was.  That led me to conspiracy theory, how could it not?  It was the only explanations I could find for why shit was so fucked up.  Then I found peak oil, and then collapse, and then shit started to make sense.  During this time we had our first child.  When I quit my career to pursue permaculture, which was the only answer I could find for how to raise a family in a collapsing world, my first child was a year old.  Just like when I told the Navy to get fucked, it took a lot of god damned intestinal fortitude and courage to quit a pretty collapse proof career to pursue a fringe movement that offered no promises. 

Here I am five years later running a conventional landscaping business after my permaculture efforts have mostly failed.  Although I did manage to get paid pretty good money to design a food forest for a client, which was featured in a local magazine recently.  That's a LOT more success than most people find in the permaculture world.  The design was inside of an uppity McMansionville neighborhood as well, with an HOA that busts balls about mail box color (my clients neighbor got a letter about the color of her mailbox, it was the wrong color teal). 

Even living with family, where I do not have to pay rent, I need a lot of money with a family.  People mostly don't pay for permaculture, or bamboo, but they pay lots of money to have their conventional landscape managed.  It's something that I'm philosophically opposed to, being a permaculturist, but it's something I do because of money.  I make good money at it to, but not good enough yet to support a family of four on if I were to re-enter into the cruel world of rent/mortgage payments.  I had to get a new (used) truck to give myself a bit more resiliency in my business effort, so I took on that payment.  Then I had to finance more equipment to remain competitive.  It's impossible to get a business loan when you are in your first year of business (unless you are Trump that is, then you get 100's of millions of dollars for free to go bankrupt four times). 

I recently tried to consolidate all of this business debt at the bank and they told me to make double payments on my credit cards and come back next year.  Now I'm just not paying most of those credit cards because I have no choice.  Working at McD's or a grocery store ain't gonna happen.  Not after bombing Afghanistan and working 8 years on a meat wagon.  I'll only end up in one of those soul sucking jobs if I have to to keep my kids fed. 

GM wants her own place so bad she can't stand it.  Her family is the most dysfunctional family I've ever heard tale of, and we live with one of them, and she plays out that dysfunction in ways that reminds GM of the dysfunction she was raised in.  It creates a sort of living hell.  But it also provides us with rent free living on almost two acres where I can grow bamboo and practice permaculture.  It also provides me with the place to house my business, and a place to bring biomass back to on occasion.  It's perfect in every way except for the living with family bit.  Our way of life has become so fucked up that family is often times your worst enemy.  I saw it in EMS over and over again.  It's mostly not perfect strangers you have to beware of, it's your family. 

I could go on…but I think this post is long enough.  Like I said, I should probably just blog about it.  It would be a fucking series for sure. 

SNAP Card Gourmet: Soup Ammendation

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 1, 2017

Miso Soup- No Ammedation                     Miso Soup- With Ammendation

Miso-1  Miso-2

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In my last Snap Card Gourmet article, I wrote about Pizza Ammendation, which is the technique of taking a fresh commercially produced Pizza available at the Deli Counters of most major food emporiums, and then adding to it various extra ingredients of your choice to make your own custom pizza, practically as good as the great pizza you remember from the small family owned Italian Pizzerias that were sprinkled around NY Shity in the 1960s & 70s.  My particular favorite from my youth is the Mushroom Pizza, but I have been experimenting with some more exotic ingredients like Hearts of Palm and Smoked Salmon.

http://rmdadvertising.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/RMD-ChampionFoods.jpg

Even including the exotic ingredients, the price of a freshly baked Take n' Bake Pizza meal comes in extremely cheap.  For the Pizza, I buy the "medium" size 8" Pizza which comes in at Walmart at $6.  I divide that into 1/4s which I each bake separately for a Pizza meal, so the basic cost is $1.50.  Additional ingredients can cost as much as $1, for expensive stuff like Hearts of Palm.  1 Can of those, usually imported from Brazil generally goes for around $5, but I get usually at least 5 if not 6 pizza meals out of one can, so slightly less than a dollar there.  So for $2.50 or less, I come in with a scrumptious freshly baked pizza slice, which along with some sausage and eggs for breakfast is usually plenty for me to eat in a day.  I stay well under my SNAP Card budget of $5 for the day.

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpg For the person still with their own roof and fully equipped kitchen, this is excellent, cheap and quickly prepared food.  It has a big problem though as far as a Homeless person is concerned, which is that you need some form of conventional oven (not microwave) to bake it in.  At least a Toaster Oven for this, but they are electric and homeless people don't usually have accss to electricity, nor can they be toting around a toaster oven even if they can pirate electricity somewhere.  Homeless cooking is generally confined either to small camping stoves with a single burner, or to open pit or trash can fires with a cooking grate over it.

If you are just working with a single burner, you are generally limited to two types of cooking, Boiling or Pan Frying/Sauteeing.  The two main foods of the homeless as a result are cans of soup or vegetables which can be boiled, or eggs and bacon or sausage which can be pan fried.  Rice also can be boiled or steamed, Potatoes boiled and chopped up with an onion for home fries in the pan.  A big combined scramble or omellete also possible to do in one pan, although given I have more burners I don't usually do that.  This is really all the cooking a homeless person needs to do, otherwise you mostly eat prepared foods at fast food joints or if you are the more healthy type of homeless person, fruits, nuts and vegetables which can be consumed raw with no cooking at all.

For today's topic and Recipes, we are going to talk about another type of ammendation, Soup Ammendation.  What soup ammendation does is take a comercially produced packet of soup mix or canned soup, and adds to it more ingredients to make it more hearty and robust as a meal.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51pvCUupZVL._AC_UL320_SR240,320_.jpg The main one I will talk about here is Miso Soup, a favorite of mine from the many Japanese restaurants I have frequented over my life, usually for a sashimi lunch.  With the lunch special, you always got a cup or bowl of Miso Soup, which varied from average to excellent, depending on the restaurant.  The main ingredients in a Miso soup are the Miso (a type of fermented bean curd), Tofu, Seaweed and green onions.  In a good Miso soup, there were a decent amount of all the ingredients in there and a rich broth with plenty of Miso added, in the average ones they were thin on the miso and cheap on the amount of tofu in the soup.  Kinda thin and runny.  Rarely though at a restaurant did I get a truly bad Miso Soup.

In trying to make my own Miso Soup at home back in the day, the best I could find was dried package soup sort of like Lipton's Onion Soup, which is still the main one available although there is one other variety I picked up a while back.  Basically the same though.  In both cases, the Miso Soup you get by adding a cup or so of boiling water to the packet is beneath bad, it's awful.

Not that it tastes bad or anything, it does taste like Miso Soup.  However, it is incredibly thin in texture, and the amount of dried tofu and seaweed that reconstitutes is miniscule.  You can pretty much drink it like you would a cup of tea or coffee, or a cup of beef broth.  It's not a real "soup experience".

So, even back then what I did was to buy a Tofu block and cube up some of it to ammend this soup, along with buying a package of dried seaweed and some fresh green onions to slice into thin disks and add to the soup also.  This filled it out nicely, and was a good facsimile of a Japanese Restaurant Miso Soup. The miso broth though was still kind of thin.  Recently though I found full quart size packages of miso paste in the refrigerated section of Carr's, which is the local variant of the Safeway chain.  One tablespoon of this paste thickens up your home brew miso soup and with all the ingredients added, is now BETTER than any miso soup at even the best Japanese restaurant!

At the top of the page you see Before & After photos of Miso made at home in the digs here.  Which one looks more appetizing to you?

https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/house-foods-tofu-firm-101552.jpg In addition to the normal ingredients, I also add some canned mushrooms, which have a great texture and are a terrific addition to the normal recipe.  So, how much does the ammended Miso Soup cost me?

The initial packet of Kikkoman comes in packages of 3 for around $5, so that is $1.66 per serving.

A block of firm tofu comes in around $2.50 average here, and I get about 4 servings from one block when I cube it up.  About $.60 for the tofu.

The seaweed comes in at $1.20 for a small package, which gets about 6 servings. $.20

The Miso Paste comes in at $6 for the quart size, but I get at least 20 servings out of that for $.30.

The green Onion come in at $1 for a bunch of around 6, one per serving for around $.16

Total cost for the Gourmet, Rich and Beefy Miso Soup, slightly under $3.  However, I have now found that I can substitute for the expensive package of dried Miso Soup from Kikkoman the much cheaper generic dried Onion Soup mix similar to Lipton under the store brand.  Utilizing this as base, I take a full dollar off the cost here and the result tastes practically the same and the nutritional value is exactly the same. You get fabulous nutrition out of this soup, tons of protein in the Miso and the Tofu and Vitamins in the seaweed and green onion.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nKFKrsPWL._SY300_.jpg Far as the homeless person is concerned, this is all easy to boil up in one small pot (my next Snap Card article will cover lightweight and portable cooking gear) and very amenable to homeless cooking.  However, it does have the refrigeration problem, both the Tofu and the Miso need to be kept refrigerated until you actually use them.  This problem can however be resolved with a Cooler and Ice, if you have a semi-permanent tent arrangement in a Homeless Encampent, aka Obamaville.  If you dispense with the Miso paste and brew up the soup with just the fresh Tofu, then if you share with 3 other homeless people you go through the whole block in one meal, so no refrigeration necessary.  It's unfortunate Miso Paste isn't available in small packets like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, that would get rid of the storage problem you have for a large quantity of Miso paste.

Miso Soup is not my only Soup Ammendation recipe, I have another big favorite which is Southwest Blackbean soup

Now, if you want to make Miso Soup for yourself at home (or homeless), it's not so EZ as just cracking open a can of Campbells Chunky Soup.  There are no canned Miso Soup varieties available here in the FSoA I have ever been able to locate.  There are any number of quite good canned soups coming from both Campbell's and Progresso, although in both cases I have seen deterioration of the quality and "chunkiness" in both brands of soup.  The Clam Chowder in both cases has taken a really big hit. A lot thinner now and less clams and potatoes.  A lot of ammendation is necessary to get a decent bowl of clam chowder now from either company, but not going to cover that ammendation here today, I'll stick to just the Southwestern Black Bean soup for this article.

https://gianteagleproducts.blob.core.windows.net/images/376/00041196458930-GE-20150804095304.jpg The SBB soup is a very tasty one from the Progresso folks, but like all the Chunky varieties from Campbell's, they aren't so Chunky anymore.  These soups come in around $2/can now up here on the Last Great Frontier, although I usually wait for sales and stock up when they come in at 3 for $5 or so, $1.66 each.  By itself with no ammendation, a single can of this soup is good for 2 meals, in combination with a bagel or a part of a Subway Hero.  Ammendation though makes the soup a meal in itself, and in fact transforms it from a Soup to something more like a Gumbo.

To ammend a can of SBB soup, I usually add 1/2 can of Seasoned Black Beans, which come in at around $1/can.  Then another 1/4 can of sweet corn kernels, coming in around $.90/can.  The soup is now a whole lot thicker and richer, and there is a lot more of it.  I'm not done yet though.

For fresh veggies, I add some chopped up and sauteed green peppers and a diced habanero pepper to make it spicier.  Then I pan fry or BBQ an Italian Sausage or Bratwurst and cut it into thin disks to add to the soup, which adds animal protein and fat to up the calorie content.

The mixture is so thick and rich now that although you can still eat it solo with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top, what I usually will do at this point is steam up some rice and and ladle it over the rice pile.  Now, instead of 2 meals out of the original can of SBB soup, I have more like 4 meals of Gumbo over Rice.

The original can comes in at an average price of $1.75.

1/2 Can of Seasoned Black Beans, $.45.

1/4 Can of Sweet Corn Kernels, $.25

1/4 Green Pepper, $.50

1 Habanero Pepper, $.50

1 Sausage, $1

Total cost for the base Gumbo, $4.45.  Divided by 4 approximate meals (I usually get more though, like 6), that comes to around $1.11/serving.  This gets ladled over the rice, which costs very little, maybe another $.30.  It's a huge, tasty and filling meal for under $1.50.  Adding some cheese and sour cream to it you might drive the total cost up to $1.50, but no more than that.

As with the Miso Soup, the big problem here for the Homeless person is not in the cooking, but in this case the refrigeration of the leftover soup from the initial preparation.  You have a pot of soup you need to keep refrigerated for at least 4 days, which also means eating the same soup for 4 days straight.  As tasty as it is, by day 3 you are ready for a change but the more days you eat something else, the longer it is leftover in the cooler, and by about the 6th or 7th day, your really don't want to eat it.  It might still be OK biologicaly speaking and not make you sick with Tomane Poisoning, but even so week long leftovers are not very appetizing, even if well refrigerated.

So in this case once again you are best off to work in at least a small GROUP or TRIBE of similar Homeless people, and all share the meals and the costs together.  Then the entire preparation can be consumed in one sitting.  A group of 4-6 people is ideal for this, a family or a few refugee buddies.  However, once you start to cook in bulk for more than just yourself, now you start to need some cooking gear beyond a persoal aluminum or stainless steel mess kit that can handle larger cooking taks for more people.

I will cover the nature of such cooking gear and how it should be used in the next installment of the SNAP Card Gourmet.

Cook-kit

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 9

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 28, 2016

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"So WTF happened out there Kensoto?" Kareem asked.

"The Skulls and the Storm troopers got into it.  It was a drive by shooting, but the guy they shot had a friend down the street who took out the driver as they were trying to get away. He was carrying serious heat, a .44 Magnum, blew a hole straight through the front windshield, Dirty Harry style. The guys in the car ran for cover, and I was caught in the crossfire.  I managed to get behind a dumpster, and then both sides must have called for backup because two other cars showed up and a bunch of guys on foot.  Bullets were flying everywhere.  The sirens started coming and everyone started running.  I used the confusion to sneak down the alley and get behind the dumpster where Eagle found me."

"Do you think you got snapped by any security cams?" Eagle asked.  "If you did, they're going to be looking for you."

"No, I don't think so, at least no good shots of my face anyhow.  I had my Hoodie pulled over like always when over in that neighborhood."

"Even so, things are going to be really hot for a while, especially if any cops got shot.", Billy Joe remarked.  "You're going to need to lay low for at least a month until it gets sorted out and your arm heals up.  If they pull you in now with that hole in your arm it will defiitely tie you to the shooting."

"B-J is right." Kim added.  "They're also bound to get here eventually in the investigation, although right now they are focused on Skulls and Storm Troopers according to emails I hacked into from the prosecutors office."

"I can probably go down to Atlanta, there's a community of West Africans there.  I think my dad might have some relatives I could stay with.  I'll need some money though."

"No worries about the money, Kensoto.  Terminators got you covered.", Kareem reassured him. "Kim, get a couple of G's out of the safe, that should cover him for a couple of months."

"Somebody's going to have to drive him down.  He can't take a bus or plane out of here now." Jose reasoned.

"I'll do it." Eagle volunteered.

"OK, you guys leave this afternoon at rush hour.  Less chance of being pulled over with a lot of cars on the road.  Once you're out of Montana, you should be OK overnight on the drive.  Remember though, you have Montana plates and they may be on the lookout for those.  I don't want both of you getting caught.  Stay at the speed limit on all the roads.  Kim, can you route it for him?  How many hours to make it there?" Kareem asked.

"Sure, give me a minute…", Kim replied.  "32 hours, 2100 miles, all interstate".

"Too long, Eagle will miss too many classes.  That will look suspicious.", Billy Joe pointed out.

"I could drive him to Portland and he can get a bus out of there. I can be back by morning", Eagle suggested.

"That's a better suggestion.  You'll also need some fake ID.  Kim, we got some ID's, right?"

"Yup.  I'll need to do some picture substititution though and print out the card.  Should be ready in an hour.  It won't pass muster if they check the Bar Code on it though."

"OK, sounds good.  Kensoto, travel light, one backpack of preps.  Kim, give Kensoto another $1000 for busfare and travel expenses. Kensoto, you can buy what you need in Atlanta.  If you can't find relatives to stay with, find a Tent City and hang with the Homeless. Pick up a tent and sleeping bag at Walmart. No motels, no place you need to show an ID if possible. You know the drill.  Blend in, be a Gray Man.  Stay out of trouble.  If you need to communicate, use encryption.  Your own cell phone should be off and in a faraday cage with the battery out. Eagle, your cell phone also should be secured before leaving HQ.  All communication should be via Kim's secure server in Iceland, and all encrypted.  Kim, give Eagle and Kensoto 2 of the secure laptops to use for communications.", Kareem barked out the orders.

"Will do chief", Kim replied.

"OK, everybody but Kim, Kensoto and Eagle, back out on the street like all is normal.  Hopefully they won't roust us here, too busy trying to round up Skulls and Storm Troopers for a few days at least I think.  Kim, keep monitoring the police scanners.  If it looks like they're gonna hit HQ before 3PM, Eagle and Kensoto gotta get the fuck out of Dodge and take their chances before the cops come for a look see."

Kareem looked at Kensoto seriously.  "Kensoto, remember, 2 months is a best case scenario.  If the cops do put out a warrant for your arrest, you'll either have to face it down or you'll have to go underground on a permanent basis.  That will be your choice.  Terminators will support you either way, we'll get you the best Criminal lawyer around if you face it down.  If you wanna stay uderground, we'll help you get some bizness going in another town outside of Montana where you might be recognized.  Drugs, Prostitution, Fencing stolen merchandise, whatever works."

The hours between the end of the morning meeting and afternoon rush hour were tense, both for the Terminators out on the street and for the ones holed up at HQ.  As Kareem had predicted though, the Gestapo was far too busy trying to round up the usual suspects from the Skulls and the Storm Troopers to bother themselves with the Terminators, known to be a pretty small gang and the drive by wasn't in their territory.  3PM rolled around, and Eagle and Kensoto got on the road in the company Nissan Sentra, their "Gray Car" purchased to blend in with other typical cars on the road.  Eagle took on most of the responsibility for the drive to Portland since Kensoto was injured and had only one good arm to steer with, but Kensoto relieved him for a couple of hours at the end so he could nap before having to make the drive back to Missoula.

The two men hugged outside the car as Kensoto pulled his Bugout Bag from the trunk of the Sentra in front of the Portland Bus Station, not knowing when or if they would ever see each other again.

"I owe you my life, Eagle." Kensoto said.

"You owe me nothing Kensoto." Eagle replied. "You are a Terminator.  The Oath demands we are there for each other when the need arises."

"Yes, I know.  I just hope that someday I can be there for you as well."

"You will be Kensoto.  Now, get tough and get going here!  You got a long bus ride ahead of you.  Send us messages when you can get a connection and it is secure enough.  Wait at least a few days.  We'll send messages to your secure email account when we have a better idea of what is going down."

Eagle and Kensoto clasped hands, and the goodbyes were said.  Kensoto went inside the Bus terminal and bought a ticket on the first bus out of town, heading to Los Angeles.  It wasn't on the direct route, but putting more distance between himself and Missoula as fast as possible was more important than waiting for a later bus going more in the right direction.  He paid for the ticket in cash, sat down in the bus terminal to wait, and then caught a few hours of nap time on the bus to LA.  It was a long road ahead to make it to Atlanta.

Eagle got back in the car for the return trip to Missoula.  They had made good time with only one stop for gas and they bought some sandwiches for Kensoto to bring on the bus ride.  His adrenaline was flowing and the drive back was only about 8 hours, but  he coffeed up at the first convenience store and settled in for the ride, although still concerned for Kensoto.  What if it had been him?  Leaving at such short notice from all your friends, not knowing if you would ever make it back, in trouble with the law?  He admired Kensoto's stoicism in the face of all of that in front of him.

As Eagle made it back into Montana in the wee hours of the morning, the newz was all over the radio about the shooting in Missoula. 3 cops shot, 1 dead, 2 in serious condition.  4 Gang Bangers dead, 6 wounded.  Eagle pulled the car into a Flying J truckstop outside of town and accessed their free Wi-Fi with his Secure Laptop, firing off an encrypted message to Kim.

"Back outside Missoula safe. Kensoto off safe in Portland.  Safe to return to HQ?" Eagle sent in text.

A message came back in a few seconds.  Kim was at his station manning the communications as usual, keeping track of all the police scanners and all the emails he had hacks into.  His night had been close to sleepless also.

"Yes, still safe.  Cops still looking for Skulls and Storm Troopers.  Terminators not on the Radar yet.  Bring it home."

"10-4.  Coming in."

Merry Collapse Christmas 2016

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 25, 2016

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http://upload.smileyswelove.com/uploads/775/smiley-7488.jpgMERRY COLLAPSE CHRISTMAS DINERS!  http://upload.smileyswelove.com/uploads/775/smiley-7488.jpg

Here on the Doomstead Diner, we've been tracking Collapse Issues since February of 2012.  A few of us were members of the Reverse Engineering Yahoo Group which I ran from around 2009 to 2012.  I myself began participating on Collapse oriented forums in late 2007.  There are many others with a much longer history than this, going back to the 1960s even with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/5f/a3/6d/5fa36da2a07877aa8ad5165626158056.jpg The Environmental movement had its heyday back in the 1970s, with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.  This also coincided with the "Back to the Land" Movement, spearheaded by Hippies like Albert Bates, one of the founding members of The Farm, and scientists like Ugo Bardi, one of the researchers of the "Club of Rome" which produced the first "Limits to Growth" Study in 1972.  Both Albert and Ugo are still active as Environmentalists, and I cross post their work regularly on the Diner.

Sadly of course, all those years of environmental activism and scientific research that demonstrates the mess we have been making of the planet has not done a whole lot to stop it, at least globally.  In given locations it was occassionally successful, but generally speaking the problem just moved somewhere else where the local Goobermint was amenable to having the local environment destroyed in the name of PROFIT.  So industry which once polluted places like Love Canal in Amerika moved offshore to places like Guanzou Province in China, polluting the water there instead.

I personally was not a huge Environmentalist in my 60 years walking the earth in terms of any activism.  I was always disgusted by the rape of the earth through the period, but I never really did anything to stop it, and in fact contributed to my share of the destruction by buying all that gas I burned in my motorcyclez and my carz along the way.  I also rode plenty of Subway Trainz in the years before I could afford a car or motorcycle, and they also burned plenty of fossil fuels and fissioned Uranium in Nuke plants to keep electricity flowing along the third rail so the trains would run, and there were many days I forgot to turn off the lights in my room when I went out to play, needlessly burning still MORE juice and putting more carbon into the atmosphere.

Baby_LambThen I also ate lots of Animals, mainly Chickens and Cows and Baby Lambs, who all farted and put methane up in the atmosphere on the way to my dinner table.  After eating them, I also farted putting still more methane up into the atmosphere.  I cannot calculate what my particular contribution was over these last 60 years to total atmospheric carbon or climate change, but I am sure it is greater than most of the people currently living on earth.  These days, I try to reduce it some but since I still live in a 1st world culture and need to get around on Buses, Trains, Planes & Automobiles and I still need to EAT, I continue to be a big ass Carbon Emitter into the atmosphere of the planet.

I came into the World of Collapse not because of Climate Concerns, but because of observations on how the economics of the world were breaking down in the aftermath of first Bear Stearns and then Lehman Brothers during the 2008 financial crisis.  This led me to investigating many things related to that, like Peak Oil and Climate Change and Ecological problems, and as each year has passed since that time, all of those problems have grown larger.  The Climate issue appears to be growing much more rapidly than predicted even back only so far as 2008, and this problem now gets more attention overall than economic issues do, at least on websites besides the Diner that I frequent like r/collapse.  Climate problems are considered an existential problem core to our very EXISTENCE on the planet, whereas Economic issues are considered temporal and mainly a math problem and distribution problem overall.  Long as the planet itself is capable of supporting life, economics seems secondary to people who are climate concerned as a priority.

Finite_Resources_smI do not tend to hold this view, I think climate issues are survivable for at least a portion of the population currently walking the earth, though probably not all that many.  The TIMELINE to a final extinction of the species Homo Sap remains an open question, and is highly disputed, although it is sure to come at some point.  It goes from as short as less than a decade according to Guy McPherson of the Nature Bats Last blog to as long as 300M years when the SUN puts out too much radiation for Eukaryotic organisms to survive on the surface of the Earth.  Well, even longer if you believe that we can migrate off the planet to other star systems with the techno- folks like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, but IMHO that is not gonna happen. We are planted on Planet Earth, this is where we were born and this is where we will die, at some point in the timeline.  Our real near term issues come in how we organize the society and distribute out the resources we still can access economically.  Then we gotta figure out how much we can produce each year and how much that production can support in terms of total population size.  We are time-limited as all living things are including planets.  We just need to figure out how to live just as long as we can in the timespan alloted to us.  Figuring out that question best I can is what I do on my blog here, the Doomstead Diner, and it keeps me very bizzy. LOL.

My opinions on this are not all that popular, I have people from the cornucopian side of things who despise me because I say we have limited resources and too large a human population that needs reduction; and then on the other side I have Extinction Afficionados who think everything is HOPELESS, and NOBODY can survive for even 10 more fucking years! I am too HOPIUM FILLED for these people, and deluded. You can't strike any kind of middle ground with either of these types of ideologues.

goldfallingThere are numerous other issues that are more temporal that cause conflict, like the issues about who our political leaders will be, whether they can make some difference in the collapse trajectory, whether using Gold as Money would make any difference, etc, etc, etc.  If you take a particular stand on some of these issues, it gets you as a Blogger a constituency that supports you.  For me though, I tend to bounce through these issues and have positions that one consitutency or the other does not support, so I NEVER make everyone happy.  "You can make some of the people happy all the time, all of the people happy some of the time, but you can NEVER make all the people happy all the time."  I live that cliche just about every day on the Diner, my home as a blogger and analyst of collapse.  I am also not a real compromising sort of guy, and get in arguments all the time, both with commenters on my blog as well as with other bloggers who treat the subjects of collapse with their own spin on it on other blogs.  I take no prisoners in an argument, I hold grudges a long time, I FIRE BACK in the Chicago Way and I make enemies because of that. So it goes.

Which now brings me to the point of this whole diatribe, which is to look at where the Doomstead Diner is AT after nearly 5 years of operation chronicling the World of Collapse?  We have seen our ups and downs over the years here, and it's always tough to figure out just how well you are doing.  Google Analytics as of 12/4/2016 is up as the Header Graphic for this article, the Daily Users Chart.

Based on records of hits inside the Diner Forum, the Peak of the Diner Popularity came around 2014.  This period was also when the Alexa Ranking for the Diner was at its Peak, we hit around 75,000 Globally at that point.  BUT, Alexa changed their algorithm AND the numbers of hits on the forum are always pretty suspect, because MOST of them are BOTS.  You can get millions of hits (we did), but only a tiny fraction of them are real Human Eyeballs.

Yearly Summary New Topics New Posts New Members Most Online Page views
+ 2016 1814 24042 111 225 6501924
+ 2015 1223 30473 514 166 6725102
+ 2014 704 22376 122 182 9137030
+ 2013 757 25870 486 260 4100268
+ 2012 1075 13992 567 325 1734447
+ 2011 1 1 1 1 0

Diner Forum History

Over time though, you do get a decent idea of how many REAL DOOMERS are out there reading your website.  We have had some up and downs over these years, our Video & Audio material brought in some folks and that was likely responsible for the peak period in 2014 for page hits.

http://www.pastorburnout.com/images/burnout-90345_640.jpg In the last year we suffered a decline in total hits, I attribute that mostly to a lot of Burnout in the Collapse Crowd.  It basically plateaued out at around 320 Users/Day, according to Google Analytics on the Diner Blog anyhow.  But then we have Facepalm users, Twitter Users, YouTube Users, Soundcloud Users and Reddit Users also to try to account for.  Tons of crossover involved here, so tough to determine what the total individual and independent readership is for the Diner.

My BEST GUESS on this is around 1000 Global Diners who hit one of our sites once a week or so.  Maybe 300 who drop on the Diner daily to see what is cooking in Collapse.  Given a Global Population of over 7B people, this is NOT making a huge impact!  LOL.

At the same time though, the Diner DOES do better in terms of daily readership than most other Collapse Blogs out there and stays out of that sub-1M category of personal blogs most of the time on Alexa. The total readership of ALL collape blogs at this point still remains pretty small, my estimate for that is around 50,000 people globally interested in the topics of collapse who regularly surf the web on such topics.  So I am OK with capturing 1000 or so of them each month for a read on the Diner.  I would like more of course, but it's a reasonable number of people to be reaching each month.

If you look at the Google Analytics chart I put up from last week at the top of the article, you'll see that the last 90 days we did see a significant upward bump in users, about a 25-30% increase.  This coincides with a few recent events on the Diner.

underground-home-kirknielsendotcomThe first main one is the beginning of the publication of the Serial Novel, "How I Survived Collapse".  I took myself off of doing Video discussions and Audio Rants to devote myself to this project instead, and apparently Kollapniks like fictional representations of collapse issues, these chapters get a LOT of page hits.  On the downside, the YouTube and Soundcloud Diner channels get fewer hits without steady new material going up.  However, you only have so much creative energy to expend in one day.  You can't just print up creativity every day like you can Fiat Money. lol.

The next reason I perceive as important are political events ongoing that the Diner has focused on, namely the Election of Trumpty-Dumpty and the ongoing protest at the Standing Rock reservation against the DAPL p‬ipeline.  In both cases, the MSM Newz on these events is very poorly covered, and/or full of bullshit.  So people are out there looking for other perspectives and information on these topics, and various Diners are contributing their analysis to the subjects, providing more original material on the Diner.

standing-rock-black-snakeFinally, a main reason for the now again increasing popularity of the Diner is that many of the other bloggers who treat collapse issues have tapered off in how much and how often they will write.  "Collapse Burnout" is a problem for many bloggers who have written on these topics for years, and even if they are producing new material it's mostly rehashing stuff that has been said a million times before and basically beaten to death, unless of course you are a Newbie to the World of Collapse.  If you're not a newbie though, writing and rewriting the concepts you focus on can be tiresome after a while.  I fight this battle against burnout by examining the newz and looking for new insights and changes in the dynamic, which are always occuring even if the underlying principles of collapse don't change all that much.

The fact fewer bloggers are writing now also means I don't Cross Post as much as I used to from other bloggers, but that turns out not to be such a bad thing.  Fact is, people who read the Diner also read the blogs of the other people I cross post.  I cross post to keep the blog fresh each day for newbies, but for long term Kollapsniks they don't come to the Diner to read those blogs, they read them when they originally were published on that blogger's website.  Cross Posting less means I post more Original Diner Material, which apparently is what the readers want.  Of course, producing enough original material up to the High Standards of the Diner for every day publication is somewhat difficult. lol.

All in all, it was a good year for the Diner moving through Collapse.  Hell, at least we are still up and running, right?  The NSA hasn't taken us down yet, and we STILL have not made the list of Fake Newz Websites. 🙁  1000 regular readers who drop by the Diner for a collapse meal a few times a month isn't too bad, although I would like to see more of those people contributing Inside the Diner on our Forum. Hashing out the issues with others is really the best way to get further insights, in fact for myself the reason it took me so long to start a blog was because I like dialogue and argument more than I like expository prose writing, although I can do that most certainly, at great length too! lol  I got more prose up on the web than Shakespeare and Tolstoy combined!  Argue the quality all you want, but in word count this is no contest at all! 🙂  Still, it is much more enlightening to exchange ideas with other people, even if periodically they piss you off a whole lot.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnother significant milestone for the Diner is we held our 2nd Convocation this year at the Inman Harvest Day Festival in South Carolina.  This was in conjunction with trying to get our SUN☼Project off the ground, and we got a great reception from the local movers & shakers there, but NO MONEY! lol.  So SUN☼ is still just an idea, it hasn't yet become a reality and maybe it never will, but that doesn't really matter all that much.  The most important thing is to get the MESSAGE out to people that this style of living we have grown up with just is not destined to last all that much longer.  In the longer term, SUN☼ type communities will evolve if Homo Sap is to survive on the planet a while longer, because we CANNOT survive with the way we are living now.  It would certainly be better if people got started on this shit NOW rather than waiting until after TSHTF, but if you can't get the locals to pony up some money for it, you are just SOL there.  Sadly, I am not a Billionaire who could finance the whole thing himself, I wish I was, but I ain't.  So if the people themselves who would benefit from a more resilient community will not pony up, you're stuck in neutral, which is where SUN☼ is right now.

Hosp_BedOn a personal level as regular Diners know I struggle with deteriorating health issues resulting from my spinal injury, and struggle as well with getting the Title to the Entitlements I was promised when I set out working for 40 years inside the Industrial Economy.  I won some of the battles so far, but the War goes on here on this still.  I didn't end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska as was my fear for the first 7 months of this adventure in my life, at least not yet anyhow. On the upside to it, I did get some time in "Retirement", about a year and a half now so far, and I really like retirement.  I get up in the morning (or afternoon, or evening) when I feel like it,  I spend my day reading and writing on topics that interest me, and I got no Boss I need to keep happy so he writes my paycheck each week.  I got no tests to study for in school and no traffic or stinky subways to ride on to get to work or school.  I do have a crew of somewhat testy Members, Mods & Admins here on the Diner I don't always keep happy and which can be somewhat frustrating, but at least my living does not depend on keeping them happy.  It's also most certainly NOT a "cult", since most of the time nobody agrees with me! lol.

TrumpigAs of now, 2017 looks like it will be a watershed year in the World of Collapse.  The election of Trumpty-Dumpty and his installation of Billionaires, Corporatocracy CEOs and Military Generals as Cabinet members and his Advisory team speaks clearly to exactly what kind of "Populist" this jerk is.  It boggles my mind that people are so foolish as to buy any of the nonsense he spouted out through the campaign. It's a fucking GUARANTEE he will eviscerate civil liberties, curtail free speech & freedom of assembly and increase the power of the Police State, all the stuff Libertarians say they are against!  He's also obviously going to give away the store to fellow plutocrats and .01%ers, he's already stacked the whole fucking cabinet with them! Jamie Dimon and Carl Icahn are his economic advisors here for crying out loud! He's going to shrink the Military?  Are you fucking NUTS?  He's already appointed 3 Generals to his cabinet, one of whom worked for General Dynamics after leaving the military! He's up for a new Nuclear Arms Race!  He's got Jamie fucking Dimon & Carl leveraged buyout Icahn as his leading advisors on the Economy!  Can you get more status quo BAU Military-Industrial-Banking complex than this?  This is "draining the swamp"?  More like "swimming in the swamp".

Besides the mockery of His Trumpness as POTUS, we also have just all sorts of shit going on across the pond in Eurotrashland.  The Italian banks are teetering on collapse and as I write this article, the current plan is for the fucking BROKE Italian Goobermint to Nationalize and Bailout Banca Monte dei Peschi di Siena, because of course it is TBTF.  Precisely where and how the Itie Goobermint will get the money to do this bailout remains unclear at the moment.  Then after the Italian banks, you got the German ones like the Big Kahuna, Deutchbank, also not looking too good on the balance sheet.  However, you tend to suspect that the Goldman-Sachs cavalry will somehow ride in to the Rescue of these Zombies one more time.  Maybe.

http://www.dailystormer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/petry.jpg After that are all the "Populist" (aka Neo-Nazi Right Wing) reactionary parties that have cropped up in Eurotrashland and further elections are sure to result in Goobermints which cannot effectively Goobern anyone.  At least half the population totally despises Da Goobermint even before they actually take office!  It doesn't matter who it is or which side of the lefty-righty divide they come from, they just can't do anything to stop the collapse of their economies.  Various plutocrats from one side or another can be made happy, but this does not create more jobs for J6P and total tax revenues for all the states continues to be eroded.

Then you got my favorite Snake Oil Salesman Elon Musk who continues to sell the fucking stupid idea we are going to replace the entire fleet of ICE carz and truckz with EVs powered by Batts produced in his "Gigafactory", slated to be the largest building on Earth if/when it gets finished.  He's ALSO going to "Go Where No Man Has Gone Before" and set up a fucking colony on Mars!  NASA couldn't do this in the last 50 years, but Elon CAN!  He's a can-do entrepreneur!  What fucking idiot buys this crap?

Meanwhile here on Earth, you got cities from Sao Paolo to La Paz to Johannesburg running short on water and forest fires burning all the time and oil pipelines leaking, suicide and overdose epidemics, a new shoot-em up on a college campus or nightclub once a week, but HEY! don't worry, be HAPPY!  Take another Fukitol Pill, you'll feel better in a jiffy!

http://www.athensvoice.gr/sites/default/files/imagecache/image-477x305/article/52317-115682.jpg I do not have any expectation of having a shortage of collapse topics to write about as we move into 2017, nor do I expect to burnout writing about them either.  I have great stamina for this stuff, I'm going on near a decade now of writing about the topics and I feel like I am just getting my stride! lol.  Collapse is a MARATHON, not a SPRINT!  It may seem slow to you in human years, but in fact it is going quite rapidly not just in Geologic time but in Generational time also.  "Collapse" isn't coming "someday", it is here with us right now and we are all living it in one way or the other, to one extent of knowledge or denial of it or another.

The BIG QUESTION of course everyone always asks me as an Official Collapse Pundit is whether this will be the year THE Collapse occurs, as in the lights all going off, shelves all going empty, ATMs outta cash and Zombie Cannibals roaming the streets eating children for breakfast?  I'll go out on a limb here and say I do not think 2017 will be the year of the Zombie Apocalypse, at least not here in the FSoA.  One thing I have learned in my years writing on this topic is that the "system" or "matrix" (whatever you wish to call it) has a lot of inertia.  It's rolling down a hill, gathering speed, but it's not off the clif quite yet, the Wile E. Coyote Moment has not quite arrived.                                                                 

zombiesI do believe though at some not to distant point in the future of this timeline we will witness a discontinuity, I just hope I am alive long enough to witness that from this side of the Great Divide and write about it.  Not that I really want to see a lot of Death & Destruction before I die, but I do want to see "TEOTWAWKI", or "the end of the world as we know it".  The exercise we have put ourselves through as a species and this planet and other creatures who inhabit it through from the Age of Agriculture through the Age of Industrialization MUST come to an end, regardless of all the pain and suffering that will come along with that.  I believe that some Homo Sap will make it through the Zero Point to the Other Side, and those who are left standing will be better for it, a new species in fact.  I won't be there (at least in this broken down body anyhow, maybe my spirit reborn to a new one), but I will smile from my side of the Great Beyond as a Better Tomorrow emerges.

Anyhow, New Year's Eve approaches now, 2017 is arriving and at least unless Nibiru collides with the Earth in the next few days, we'll have another year in Collapse to observe and record here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner.  I would like to close here with a special note of thanks to my fellow Admins here on the Diner, who tolerate my idiosyncracies and who have proven to be good friends IRL as well as in cyberspace. To Surly, to Eddie, to Monsta, to Lucid Dreams & Gypsy Mama and to Palloy, Auld Lang Syne.  To all the rest of the Diners, I wish you also all the best in collapse in 2017.  Thanks to all for your participation and help in making the Doomstead Diner #1 for Doom on the Net!

Be sure to stop in at the Diner next Sunday for Surly's recap That Was the Year That Was in Doom, and drop in periodically for more Chapters of How I Survived Collapse!

Going Cashless

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 22, 2016

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

One of the hottest topics in Collapse Economics these days is the prospect of the "Cashless" society.  Denmark is flirting with being the first country to go completely cashless, along with the other Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway.

In debates about the future of cash money, Denmark is often cited as the possible World’s first cashless society. Is that true? An investigation on the current state of cash in Denmark. 

Cash is dirty.
Cash is expensive to print.
Cash is for criminals.

Opponents of paper money, such as established economists Bofinger and Haldane, have declared the war on cash. In 2016, this is more apparent than ever before. The European Commission for instance currently assesses a potential ban of the 500 Euro banknote, as “these notes are in high demand among criminal groups.”

More so the finger is often pointed to Scandinavia, to show how some countries are already on the move to become ‘cashless societies’ – to eliminate cash whatsoever. And Denmark could be the World’s first. Hold up – is that true?

http://www.matoska.com/catgraph/3005-001b.jpg Money is symbology for a credit system that allocates the resources available in a society. It can be just about anything, as long as what you choose as the physical symbol is hard to counterfeit.  In Africa for a long time, Cowrie Shells were used as money.  They were relatively rare and about impossible to counterfeit.  Similarly, Gold and Silver have been used as the symbol, the metals themselves are elements and can't be counterfeited.  However, they can be alloyed with other metals, thus debasing the coinage made with them.  This was what the Romans did as their civilization collapsed.  They weren't able to keep bringing in enough gold and silver to keep coining up to have enough money in circulation.

The metals are in relatively short supply for a growing population, and they tend to be hoarded as well taking them out of circulation.  So in the modern era, paper money which was hard to counterfeit was developed as the currency and means of exchange.  The way paper money is traditionally made hard to counterfeit is through fine engraving and special paper and ink.  However, modern scanners made the engraving easy to duplicate, and if you have enough scientific expertiese and a big enough budget, the paper and ink can be duplicated as well.

http://www.accountingformanagement.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/balance-sheet.png Money originates in the banking system as credits and debits on a balance sheet.  Then the bills get printed up, and each one has a Serial Number on it.  At the origin point when it first gets handed out over the counter with fresh bills, the bank has a record of the serial numbers and the person that money was handed to.  After that though, there is no keeping track of where those bills go or to who.  In theory you could track it if in every transaction the serial numbers were recorded, but in practice that is never done, it's too cumbersome.

Because it can't be tracked, cash is very useful in the Black Economy, for things like drug deals and making bribes to politicians.  Its also useful to hide your transactions from the Tax Man.  If you begin to believe your banking system is untrustworthy or unsafe (they always are, but sometimes more than others), people start taking their money out of the banks and stuffing it in mattresses instead.  This can make a bank insolvent, because it needs deposits as part of its capital.  When you deposit your money in the bank, it becomes an unsecured loan to the bank, which they will then use as the basis for making other loans.  Making loans and originating money is how banks MAKE MONEY.

So, as far as Da Goobermint and the Banksters are concerned, paper money is not very good.  Da Goobermint wants to be able to track all transactions so they can be taxed and the Banksters want your money in the bank as much of the time as possible so they can use it for more lending. How can we solve these problems, they wonder?

https://historyinlivingcolor.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/westernunion803kanawhastreetcharkanawhablv_edited-1.jpg?w=670 Well, until the advent of the modern computer and the internet, it was basically an insoluble problem.  However, once the communications systems were in place and enough places where transactions take place were wired into it, the possibility of being all electronic balance sheet transfers became possible.  It goes back as far as the Telegraph and Western Union and the ability to "Wire Money".  It further expanded with the Telephone, which made Credit Cards possible.  If you remember back to the early days of American Express, if you used your card at a restaraunt they would call AMEX to get a verification, and once verified the transaction was cashless, going from your credit line over to the restaraunt's bank account.

At first, these credit cards were available only to the very rich, and few people used them.  The verifications were done manually and when the restaraunt called for verification, there was a live person on the other end of the line who did the verification of your account, on a big old clunky IBM Mainframe at the Amex Headquarters.  However, as the computer systems and communications systems improved and you could put Point of Sale (POS) terminals in stores, it became possible to issue Credit Cards to many more people.  Thus Master Card and Visa were born, and banks began issuing out Debit cards as well.

http://blog.couponrani.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/creditcard.jpg This brings us up to today, where at least in the FSoA pretty much everybody has Plastic of some kind, and over 90% of all transactions are done this way, so cash has become unecessary, at least as far as the Banks & Goobermint are concerned anyhow.  They would like to see cash eliminated entirely, because this is good for them.  Not so good for the average J6P though who is worried his money isn't safe in the bank and one day it will just be…GONE!  Also not good if he currently runs some type of cash bizness and wants to hide some of the income from the tax man.

What's the PROBLEM with taking cash out of the system entirely then?  Well, as long as you have complete faith that your computer systems will be up and running 100% of the time, communications up 100% of the time in 100% of locations and the system won't be hacked, there is no problem.  Unfortunately, none of those conditions are true even in the 1st World countries, and definitely not true in 3rd World countries.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/news/2016/11/13/113589873RupeesNEWS-small.jpg In places like India, vast areas of the country aren't even wired for electricity, much less have full internet coverage available 24/7.  Many in the population don't even have bank accounts or ID.  The only way they function in the society is with cash.  They get paid in cash, they buy their groceries with cash, they pay their rent with cash.  When India recently took its two largest denomination bills out of circulation, it created instant HAVOC, and is still causing havoc.  They may very well never recover from this poorly planned and executed monetary experiment.  It's already created a massive deflation in their housing market, as people simply don't have working money to pay the rent with.  Getting replacement bills out into circulation also has been a clusterfuck and goods are becoming hard to come by whether you have working money or not, because the supply chains are breaking down.

Now, in a place like Denmark where just about every square inch of the country is wired up, you wouldn't have this same kind of problem if you went cashless, although even in Denmark there are people who live off the official economy and depend on Cash to work.  Besides that though, you run into all sorts of problems on occassions where you have a power outage or communications outage or the computers with all the account information go down, even for short periods of time.  All of a sudden, everyone in the checkout line at the grocery store can't pay for their food.  Everyone commuting home from work can't pay the fare on the light rail.  Everyone whose gas gauge is on empty can't fill up on gas at the pump.  etc, etc, etc.  Anyplace that does go 100% cashless is going to run into these problems, and I think TPTB have to know this.

Even though I use Plastic almost all the time myself, I always do carry enough cash to buy groceries or buy gas if the debit card doesn't work.  At my local grocery store this has occurred twice due to the system being down itself, and then a couple of other times because my account at the bank was "frozen" due to suspicious charges being dropped on the card number.

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/02/09/500%20euro_0.jpg What is more likely than 100% cashless is that just the large bills will be taken out of circulation, but how large is large?  In Europe, they have a €500 note, that one is just about certain to go the way of the Dinosaur.  Here in the FSoA, the largest note is a $100 Ben Franklin.  This would be harder to get rid of, because even just for buying groceries a family can spend $300 in the checkout line, I see that all the time with overflowing baskets of food.  You would need 15 Andrew Jackson's or Harriet Tubman $20s to cover this, which makes your wallet uncomfortably thick.

What you may have noticed however is that recently, in about the last year a new $100 note on new paper with more "security" devices has been substituted for the old $100 note.  My suspicion is these notes can be run through a reader and their serial numbers tracked.  All stores will be required to have the readers, which will probably be part of the POS terminal, and anytime you use such a bill, it will be recorded in the transaction.  You'll need your Goobermint ID to spend the bill.  So, similar to plastic transactions, the bill can be traced back to you.

http://www.usagold.com/images/coinstack.gif In the Black economy what may occur to circumvent this problem is a system of Barter may arise, and for this purpose such as large Drug Deals, Gold WOULD be very useful.  After the large exchange is done this way, then the street level exchanges are all done with the small bills still in circulation.  However, then when the drug dealer spends his money, he has to account for where he got it.  If he can't account for it, it's a criminal offense.

Because Gold and to a lesser extent Silver could be used in the black economy and to try and store wealth outside the Banking system, it will either be made illegal and confiscated, or any official transactions done with it heavily taxed.  So if you went to the Coin Dealer to exchange it for some of the paper currency, there might be a 50% tax on that transaction.  In the case of the Great Depression, Gold ownership was made illegal and the Gold confiscated and then revalued.  No reason to believe that would not occur again here as things further spin down in the Bankstering system.

http://www.knology.net/~bilrum/goldverbot-4128.jpg What you have to remember here is that "your money" doesn't belong to you, it's part of a very large and complex system of credit that has been evolving in this iteration since the Medici Banking era.  That system gradually spread its tentacles around the entire globe, and now most of the 1st World countries at least are fully wired up with the communication system necessary for all electronic transactions, fully recorded with everything bought and sold and by who to who.  It's the ultimate means of control over everything that goes on in the society, and as long as these systems are up and running, TPTB that run the system are going to use every means possible to maintain this control.  Even if a 100% Cashless society is not achieved, in the 1st World countries it will reach close to that goal before the system crashes in it's entirety.

The reasons it will crash in its entirety are many.  First of all, whether the money being moved around here is cash or digibit, the entire system is horrifically insolvent, and even if ovenight 100% of all depositors money was confiscated to recapitalize the banks, it still would be insolvent.  There's more debt out there than there are credits to balance it, because of the interest charges on all the loans.  On top of that you have trillions to quadrillions in derivative bets which can't be paid off.  Then you have the problem that either cash or digibit, money is not flowing through the system to the end consumer to buy the products of industrialization. Some still have access to the credit, but fewer all the time as people drop out of the work force.  Finally, what the money actually REPRESENTS, the resources available to the society are depleting, especially measured against the increasing global population size.  So you can't make it work long term no matter what you use for money.

What the conversion to (mostly) cashless can do is stretch out the Extend & Pretend a while longer, so it's likely to be undertaken in 1st World countries, at least if the monetary system doesn't reach critical mass and crash before a further changeover can be implemented.  The possibility such a system could be implemented in India or other 3rd World countries is exceedingly small, thus the reason they attempted to exchange one paper bill for another, and in the process took themselves one step closer to complete collapse.

The mostly unanswerable question is just how long the the Extend & Pretend game can be extended out here?  All you can say for sure is that it will crash at some point in the future, but pegging a date to it is quite difficult, if not impossible.  You have another variable in the equation, which is the political instability that arises as more people lose more purchasing power, whatever the money is that is being used.  You also have the geopolitical instability as different countries jockey for position trying to control what is left of global resources, mainly China, Russia and the FSoA there.  There are inumerable possible Trigger Events that could set off a cascade failure at any time, so any kind of mathematical prediction is useless because of a discontinuity in the function.  WAG though, it's hard to see how it holds together more than another 5 years, but it's just a guess.

So, even if the Banksters and Da Goobermint get their wish and convert to all digimoney, don't sweat it too much because it won't last all that long.  When it does crash, you'll have much bigger problems than trying to hide income from the Tax Man or keep your wealth safe from thieving Banksters.

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Blog Cults

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 21, 2016

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

Further examining the Cult issue, another question which popped up is whether Blogs are cults and the Bloggers Cult Leaders?  For this, we need to return to the definitions from our friends at Merriam-Webster.

Definition of cult

    1
    :  formal religious veneration :  worship

    2
    :  a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also :  its body of adherents

    3
    :  a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also :  its body of adherents

    4
    :  a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>

    5
    a :  great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially :  such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b :  the object of such devotion c :  a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

cultic play \ˈkəl-tik\ adjective
cultish play \-tish\ adjective
cultishly play \-lē\ adverb
cultishness play \-nəs\ noun
cultism play \ˈkəl-ˌti-zəm\ noun
cultist play \ˈkəl-tist\ noun
cultlike play \-ˌlīk\ adjective


Officially, you need to be some type of Religion to fit the cult definitions, but I did mention Capitalism as a form of religion even though it is not officially recognized as such, and so fits many of the cult definitions.  I also mentioned cults that form up around Rock bands and celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

If the blog is espousing a particular belief system, like say belief in Peak Oil or belief in Near Term Human Extinction or belief in Techno-Conucopianism, then this can take on a Religious Fervor to it.  People who believe in NTHE are VERY firm in that belief; people who believe in Renewable Energy also very firm.  So I think it is fair to apply the definitions from the dictionary to blogs and bloggers.

To become Cultish though, you need more than just the general spin of the blog to define it as a cult.  The main thing additionally necessary is that there must be Uniformity of Belief among the readers of the blog, and fealty to the Blogger who serves as the Cult Leader.  Beyond that, no DISSENT can be permitted in the blog commentariat if it is going to be a Cult.  So if ONLY posts which support the dogma espoused by the Blogger are approved, you're starting to get quite cultish.

Now, virtually no blog has any kind of formal worship ongoing and no rituals, so you have to go NO CHECK on #1 & #2, although you do find some slavishly syncophantic posting on some blogs as the readers kiss the ass of the blogger and tell him how great he is.  That is a form of Worship.  If other posters are allowed to tell the blogger he's wrong though, then you no longer have a cult because dissention is being allowed.

If you do accept the idea that belief in stuff like Near Term Human Extinction or Techno-Cornucopianism takes on a Religious quality to it, then it is CHECK #3.  Both beliefs are unorthodox, and it just depends who you talk to as to whether they are viewed as spurious or not.  The Body of Adherents tends to gravitate toward the Blog and Blogger that come closest to their own viewpoint, so uniformity of opinion and Group Think tends to develop from that organically.

Enforcement of Group Think on a given blog commentariat comes in two ways mainly.  First is if the Blogger only approves comments which are in agreement with his POV.  That's a very EZ way to maintain uniformity within the blog-cult.  The second way is to have ENFORCERS of the group think who drop in and ATTACK anyone who is not sticking to the party line.  Ulfulgi on Nature Bats Last and Fast Eddy on Our Finite World are typical examples of Enforcers in a blog commentariat.

Far as the Doomstead Diner goes, it doesn't fit Cult Definitions from Merriam-Webster at all.  Nobody agrees on EVERYTHING we discuss daily Inside the Diner, in fact it's one very long, non-stop ARGUMENT on numerous topics. There is no Central Ideology to the Diner, other than we all agree to argue the issues, hopefully politely with respect for other Diners.  As the main Blogger on the site, my ideas are attacked all the time, and I get personally attacked Ad Hom all the time too!  I have a very thick skin from years of moderating forums, going back to the Wild West days on AOL. It's all Water Off a Duck's Back for me most of the time. For the most part I let all the posting go up, although you can go too far in attacking me personally, as one of our more insulting members found out recently.  While I like Free Speech, if somebody refuses to be respectful and polite to myself and other Diners, I WILL drop down the Ban Hammer.  It just gets too disruptive after a while when Trolls do this.  When you cannot get a troll to grasp this simple fact of life, it becomes a FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE.

Even if a given Blog and Blogger do fit Definition #3 of Cults from Merriam-Webster though, I don't consider them to likely end up in a Jonestown or Waco or Haley-Bopp Mass Death endgame.  Because these cults are in Virtual Space and all the cult members are not gathered together in one compound, getting them all to Drink the Kool Aid at the same time would be a highly unlikely scenario.  The FBI would also have a hard time hitting everyone at the same time, other than shutting down their internet access, which would be quite EZ.  That would be the Virtual Death of the Cult, but the Meat Packages would still be walking around for a while.

Some folks like to be together only with people who believe EXACTLY as they do, and are not comfortable with the daily dissention you get when you all do NOT subscribe to precisely the same belief structure.  I personally am not that way, in fact I am exactly opposite to that, I love to argue, I love the interplay of ideas between people with different belief structures. Much new knowledge can be elucidated this way.  The main thing I do NOT like is when people cannot argue to topic and start insulting each other as dim or imbeciles etc, and I WILL also retaliate for that kind of behavior in kind, before I send you to the Cooler or Ban your ass permanently.  It's the CHICAGO WAY.

I can pitch out insults as well as anyone on the net, I spent over a year trading them with one of the best Net Insulters ever to grace the Internet, Smokey from The Burning Platform.  But ya know, this gets old, even if it is done with someone as creatively scatological as Smokey was.  Calling people names elucidates NOTHING.  Argue to topic.

OK, I think I beat to death the topic of Cults here over the last 3 days, so now we will get back to our regularly scheduled Diner Arguments. 🙂

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