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The Path of Totality: The Last Great Adventure

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 12, 2017

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On Wednesday August 16th at 8:00 AM, I am scheduled for the long awaited Hearing with the SSA to try and resolve the dispute on how my SS Bennies were figured after I received my Workman's Compensation Award.  After that I have booked and planned a trip down to the Lower 48 to Witness the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼  at a prime location for this, right on the line of the Path of Totality.  It remains an open question however whether I will achieve either goal.

http://media.spokesman.com/photos/2017/08/04/Eclipse_path_refuges_t810.jpg?043915c051a7e8a61f3dafe8e38e28c2ebfb384b On my own, there is no way I could pull it off.  I have been in bad health for years, but the last few weeks have seen an enormous deterioration.  I am fortunate though that I got a couple of friends who are going to try and help me to make it there for the Last Great Adventure of my life as a Meat Package Walking the Earth.  I don't know if we will be successful with this as of yet.  Every day becomes harder to even get out of my chair, much less go Jet Setting and contributing further to the carbon being excreted into the atmosphere.

I wrote a "Bucket List" article a while back where I made the statement I didn't really have anything left I haven't done that I wanted to do and was still capable of doing.  That was true when I wrote it.  But then I found out about the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ , and I decided I had to try and be there for this event.  They do not happen often, and when they do happen the Path of Totality is very narrow, only around 70 miles wide.  So few people ever get to witness such an event in their lives.  I have never witnessed one to this date.

For me, the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ holds a lot of symbolic meaning.  First off, our Civilization is in Eclipse, it is Going Dark as we speak.  Then my own life is in Eclipse as well, I am truly on my "last legs" and struggle every day to stay above ground.  I kind of hope I will Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond© right during the 2 Minutes or so that the Big Event lasts for.  I want OUT of this Meat Package!  It is just a complete mess, not the great one it once was that anyone would have been proud to wear.  But I am not the suicidal type either, so I don't pull my own plug no matter how awful I feel each day.

Life is a One Way March from Birth to Death for everyone.  I suppose everyone also hopes for a long life in this march, and some folks get long ones and others get short ones.  I got a Medium Long one, which I am happy with.  60 years walking the Earth in one Meat Suit is certainly a lot longer than the statistical average for Homo Sap over the last 70,000 years.  Even today, when you start living to 80 or so even if you were Mr. Healthy your whole life you get Med problems, so living so long is not so great no matter how you look at it.  It's a fabulous drain on the society to have so many OLD people around.  Just about all nations are facing this problem now, from East to West.  China & Japan have it the worst, but the Europeans aren't far behind them and we are not far behind the Europeans for this problem.  The demographics are horrific, and the implications for a monetary system based on perpetual growth are horrific as well. The evidence of how it is breaking down is already well in view.  Both Public & Private retirement systems are collapsing in all these countries, whether they are "socialist" or "capitalist".  There is no way out of this dilemma, and when the collapse comes, the Old Folks around are going to go first here.  I am getting a jump start on this and going to the Great Beyond before this becomes a systemic problem.

There is also no great purpose to living so long for a Homo Sap.  If you Marry at 20, by the time you are 40 your kids are grown.  If you live another 20 years, you can help your kids raise your Grandkids.  What is the purpose here for the time after that?  You're too feeble to be much help raising your Great-Grandkids, and probably have Med issues too. Now you become a burden to your kids.  So for Homo Sap life expectancy and reproduction purposes, I think 60 years Walking the Earth is about right.

Returning to the Last Great Adventure though, logistically this is a tremendous challenge, even if I was healthy.  Actually even getting there and getting out will be difficult.  This event is like Woodstock on Steroids.  There will be a fantastic number of people trying to position themselves along the Path of Totality all at the SAME time, and the road system just isn't designed to handle that.  Think Katrina.  In the words of Arlo Guthrie, "The New York State Thruway is CLOSED man!"

Better get there early and be prepped for a lot of traffic if you don't!  Keep your Gas Tank topped off!  Have enough Food & Water to last you at least a day after the event to wait out the real traffic crush.  If you do not have a Stealth Van or RV, bring a tent for temporary shelter.  In many respects, this is like a mini "Dry Run" for a Bugout.  If we manage to follow through with our plans and I do not croak first, we plan to get to the campsite on the 18th and have enough with us to last a week if necessary.  Hopefully though we only have to wait most a day for the traffic crush to let up.

https://cdn3.cdnme.se/cdn/7-2/300189/images/2010/cloudy_keyart_wallpaper_1024_80342035.jpg Then because I want to record this event in various ways, I have all my cameras to get set up and experiment with in the day or two prior to the Big Event.  I have never tried to shoot anything like this. It takes special filters and the exposure issues are difficult. I'm not sure of the campsite layout either other than I am pretty sure I have my spot guaranteed.  Then I have my own physical disabilities to deal with in this, and dependence on friends who are not as familiar with photography as I am or how my current set of equipment works.  Even *I* am not that familiar with how it all works!  In the digital age, it has become a lot more than just focusing, framing with the Zoom, setting your aperture  and shutter speed and pressing the button.  The cameras have numerous types of settings you can work with.  You can spend a lifetime just figuring out how one of these cameras work, and they all use proprietary software.  So no 2 are alike at all.  Back in the day, there was no real difference between a Canon and a Nikon or even a Hasselblad, other than price of course.  Today, you work through a whole different tree of choices on cameras of a similar price which do similar things.  When you buy one, you gotta figure it all out.  Then before you know it, the camera is obsolete for some reason, and you have to start this process all over again.

Nonetheless, I hope to get SOME good images/vids of some type here if I make it to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.  I have a lot of redundancy.  The "Pro" pics will undoubtably be a lot better, and I have Weather to worry about too.  What if it turns out to be a CLOUDY DAY?!?!?!?!  ACCKKK!!!

Despite the fact the Pro images will be better (not to mention NASA images taken from Satellites) I want to have my own images & videos with my own Copyright © to them as my Intellectual Property.  Beyond the Eclipse itself, I also want to record the EVENT.  This is going to be quite the show, again like Woodstock.  It was only partly about the Musicians up on the stage.  It was really about all the people who came to see the event.  So I want to talk to people and video that action.

http://stumptownblogger.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b86d36970c0133f316507f970b-pi

So, tomorrow is another day and there are 10 more to make it through to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.  T-10 & Counting.  We'll see if I make it.

Campfires in Collapse 1

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 10, 2017

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This is the first video in a series of 4 about how to use a typical campsite fire as a means to warm up your Mobile Domicile, in this case my Stealth Van SaVANnah.  All the same techniques could be used in many other types of mobile dwellings of course, besides such dwellings as Geodesic Domes, Yurts and TeePees.

In the series, we also discuss Cooking Techniques for working over an Open Fire without burning the shit out of your food if you make one big enough to also do the heating task besides the cooking task.  Generally speaking under ideal circumstances, cooking fires should be small ones using small wood, while heating fires should be big ones using big wood.  But when Boondocking, you can't always get both or have the ideal situation.

Your Tools and your Knowledge are the most important things in terms of making the best use of the fire you make, and getting the most out of the Energy that is released in the Combustion process.  Many of these tools will not be available after SHTF Day arrives, so it's a good idea to prep up with them NOW and practice with them.

60: The Life & Times of a Boomer Doomer

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 9, 2017

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My 60th Birth Anniversary Month of August has arrived, and I am getting Prepped for a trip down to the Lower 48 to see the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼   My original plan was to post this Full Biography on August 31st, my Birthday after I get back, but these days I am not sure I will make it through until tomorrow, much less down to Idaho or back up here to the digs after that.  Every day is a challenge staying above ground now.  In the Drafts here on the Diner is my Self-Obituary.  One of the other diner Admins will need to publish that after I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond.

So to tidy up here just in case TONIGHT is the one the Grim Reaper finally arrives, here's the Full Autobiography of RE.  It's only around 13,000 words, so not complete detail here, but it should give the casual reader some of the Flavor of my Life these last 60 years.  There are also many other autobiographical articles of mine posted up here to the DoomsteadDiner.net Blog.

I have enjoyed tremendously being a analyst of Collapse over the last decade.  I made a few friends, and a LOT of enemies in the process.  I continue to alienate people to this day because I am a very uncompromising sort of guy and I never quit on an argument.  Most people just cannot handle the truth of their lives and their beliefs, and if you tell it to them they get angry with you. So it goes.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy the story below of 60 Years Walking the Earth as a Boomer-Doomer.

RE

 

Unbelievably, I (almost) made it to the Big 6-OH, my 60th year walking the Earth as a Homo Sap Meat Package in this iteration of incarnations of my immortal soul.  My last Big Birthday Party on the Diner was 5 years ago when I turned 55. That was when we first launched the Diner, and now it is getting close to 6 years old itself, 10% of my total lifespan.  That's a pretty significant chunk of my life!

Actually, my focus on Doom predates the Diner by quite a bit, I got started down this Rabbit Hole after the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns in early 2008.  Actually a bit before that since I was observing the lead up to this in 2007.  So call it a solid Decade now as a "Kollapsnik".  Given I am now 60 years old, that is 1/6th of my life or 16.66%, even more significant.

I can break up my life into defined segments, each of which almost is a life unto itself.  When I look back on these segments, it's almost like I am looking at another person entirely, they each are so different in their own ways.  But I do know it was always "me" in that body at that time, it just morphed as time went by. To begin this autobiographical post, I'll start with the beginning and work through the stages of my life, to date.  Then maybe some speculation on the future for me, although I don't think I have much of one of those left anymore in this meat package.

As it turns out here after finishing this tome, it came out a lot longer than I figured it would when starting it.  It's LOOOONG, even by my standards.  So rather than waiting until my actual Birthday of August 31st, I'll start publishing installments in EZ to Bite off chunks of my life over the next few months, rather than all at once.  I will publish the whole thing together though on my 60th Birthday, so if you want to wait until then to read the whole thing all together, feel free to skip over these installments.  Feel free also to skip over the complete story too if you aren't curious about how I got to where I am today.  From my POV though, it's a pretty entertaining story! lol.

This has advantages, for both me the writer and you the reader.  For me, first off it gives me a lot more in the way of weekly material to drop on the Diner, rather than slamming it all down in one post.  On a non-fiction level, it's like my serial novel How I Survived Collapse.  Having a lot of material "in the can" takes the pressure off feeling like you have to write something every day, although I just about always do so it's not a problem for me to have material to drop on the Diner each week.  Besides that though, I always feel like I might be dead tomorrow, so getting this stuff out before I actually croak and having a chance to talk about it with friends is a nice bonus before my trip across the Great Divide.

For the reader, the advantage is obvious, it comes in small enough chuncks you can read it over Morning Breakfast on a workday or Sunday Brunch or while on a coffee break at work on your smart phone.  You don't need to dedicate a whole lotta time to reading my life story in any given week and being bored to tears by it. lol.

By itself, it's not a Book-length autobiography, but if you patch it together with all the other autobiograpical stuff I have dropped on over the years like the Over the Road Trucking series, the Pump Up the Volume Pirate Radio adventures and the Excellent Mexican Dental Adventures, along with all the stuff in my Online Diary (Diners Only) about my Health issues and Legal Battles, you could easily get a full length book out of that.  I'll leave it to some historian of the future to put that one together though.

Meanwhile, here is Part 1 of my autobiography…

————————————–

Stage 1- Birth in NY Shity – Age 5

My Birth in NY Shity until Age 5 living in attached type town housing.  Bedrooms were on the second floor, there were 3 of them, my parent's bedroom, my sister's bedroom and my bedroom and the bathroom in which I was toilet trained.  I vaguely remember that.  On the ground floor there was a foyer entry, living room, dining area and kitchen.  Below ground was a basement and garage.  We had a small backyard and I remember a clothesline that my mom would hang the laundry out to dry on, we did not have a dryer in those years.

http://www.remarkablecars.com/for-sale/data/6859/buick-1957-special-269591.jpg We did have a car though, a 1957 Buick Convertible, same year I was born.  It was red, gigantic and had the tailfins on the back.  It was bought used in around 1960 I think by my Dad, who was building his career as a Pigman Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank, now known as JP Morgan Chase after numerous Mergers & Acquisitions.  Manufacturers Hanover Trust and Chemical Bank were both subsumed into Chase Manhattan, then Chase and JP Morgan merged later on.

The Buick lasted almost to when we left for Brazil, and I remember the numerous trips to Rockaway Beach during the summer we took in it.  There  were no seatbelts in the car, and there was a big bump in the road we would always hit and my dad would speed up the car to hit it so we all went flying up out of our seats, singing "Here we go loop-de-loop, Here we go loop-de-lie".  On one of these trips to Rockaway Beach when I was around 3, my dad took me out for a walk on the jetty and made me throw my Baby Bottle into the ocean.  That was my first major contribution to ocean pollution.  He felt I was clinging on to the baby bottle too long and this was a good symbolic way to get me to mature some.  It didn't work, I am still immature. lol.

http://www.screeninsults.com/images/bozo-the-clown2.jpg I have numerous memories from this period, crashing my tricycle into the back wall of our underground garage; locking myself in my parents bedroom while trying to "fix" the latch mechanism; bouncing myself off my bed I was using as a trampoline and smashing my skull open; Bowling with plastic Bowling pins in the upstairs hallway, making popcorn and chocolate cake with vanilla icing with my older sister in the kitchen etc.  I remember watching cartoons on TV and my mom taking me to the filming of the Bozo the Clown show in a NYC Studio, where I was frightened to death by the real life Bozo who looked nothing like the cartoon character, and we never went in to see the show because I was crying.  Waste of money on those tickets.

I remember also the pack up for our move to Brazil, when I was forced to give up my Bunk Beds that I had just got and had coveted for probably a year before I got them.  I cried over that one too, but when we got to Brazil my parents bought me a new Bunk Bed so I was happy again.  Which brings us to Stage 2.

Stage 2 – The Brazil Years

This was an almost idyllic time in my life, because of the difference in Economics between Brazil and the FSoA in the 1960s my dad's salary bought us a much more luxurious life than it did in NY Shity.  We had a full floor luxury apartment, a Maid, a Cook and a Driver.  The apartment was less than a block away from Ipanema Beach, and I spent almost every day after school for a couple of hours at the beach body surfing and building sand castles.

I went to a Private School for brats of the Military, the State Department, the CIA and Bankster Brats, "Escola Americana", chartered by the UN as a "United Nations" school.  My 3 best friends were the kids of the FSoA Ambassador to Brazil, a Military brat and a brat who was son of a man who ostensibly worked for the Fisheries Dept of the UN, but in fact was likely CIA.

http://www.wingclips.com/system/movie-clips/searching-for-bobby-fischer/hate-your-opponent/images/searching-for-bobby-fischer-movie-clip-screenshot-hate-your-opponent_large.jpg I was however blissfully unaware of most of this at the time, and enjoyed my days body surfing at the beach, reading a lot of Sci-Fi in Kid Book form mostly, the Adventures of Tom Swift series and also the Hardy Boys Detective series.  My dad bought me subscriptions to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and Scientific American at this time also as my reading skills and comprehension improved.  He also taught me to play chess around age 6 and we played regularly until I started beating him regularly around age 8. lol.

The first Star Trek episodes came on our Black & White TV in the later years as well, dubbed into Portuguese. I became a big Star Trek fan in those years, in fact what was known after it went off the air as a "Trekkie".  I went to the first Star Trek Convention in NY Shity after I got back to NY, but that is skipping ahead to the next portion of my life.  I identified heavily with the Spock character, and prided myself on being analytical and logical.  I dressed up as Spock for a couple of years for Halloween once returning to the FSoA.

I also got my first witnessing and understanding of class difference as I played futbol (soccer) with the boys from the favelas on the beach and saw the way they lived as opposed to the way I lived.  Mostly we all were friendly, but there was an undercurrent of resentment you could always sense, even at 8 years old.  Similarly, although the servants in our household were always deferential to me, you could sense their resentment as well.

I began to get somewhat politically aware then in my last years in Brazil, as one of my friends (son of the CIA guy) was 3 years older than me and he was very into the music of the era, including a lot of Folk Protest music including the likes of Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and many others.  Upon my return to the FSoA, this political aspect of my life grew quite a bit.

Stage 3 – The Junior High Years

This period actually includes late Elementary school 4-6 grade as well as Junior High 6-9 grade which I actually did in 2 years not 3, courtesy of the "SP" or Special Progress track the NY Shity Public Skules ran at the time for "gifted" students.  So roughly a 5 year portion of my life in the Age of Oil.

It wasn't quite as idyllic as the Brazil period, my parents got divorced and with my mom we took a big hit in lifestyle and economics.  No more maid, cook or driver of course.  More than that, at least in the first couple of years no car either.  Mom did get a small McMansion in Queens out of the divorce settlement though, and overall we were better off than most of the folks in the lower middle class neighborhood of Flushing, Queens this McMansion was located.

It was at this point in my life I got identified as an "IGC", or "Intellectually Gifted Child".  This because on a standardized IOWA test in the 4th grade I scored off the charts with a college level reading ability and math ability. I'm pretty sure I didn't get a single question wrong on that test, as I recall it was fantastically simple and I finished it in about 30 minutes of the 2 hours alloted to the test to fill in the dots with my #2 Pencil.  So began a 4 year episode of meeting with shrinks who were testing me all the time, every Saturday during the school year at a center in Jamaica my mom dutifully brought me to on the subway.  Since the IOWA test wasn't good enough at discrimination, I got my first try at the SAT in the 5th grade.  Then a variety of IQ tests too, and interviews.  I was a fucking lab rat for 4 years.  By year 4 I was sick of it and started puposefully answering questions wrong and being terrifically uncooperative with the Shrinks. I think I was 12 or 13 not sure.  I got let out of the cage at the end of that year. lol.

The other important aspect of my life over those years were the Summers spent at Camps of two varieties.  One was a "Primitive Skills" camp that was all Boys which I attended for 2 of those years, and then a ritzy camp for upper class kids run by a fellow named Werner Rothschild.  Not sure if he was related to the general Rothschild clan, but he probably was.  Camp Merrimac in New Hampshire, near the town of Contocook, pronounced "contokit".  It was mostly populated with Jewish kids, I was I think the only Unitarian at the Camp in those years.  I got my first sexual experiences at this camp, and I also got to watch Neil Armstrong make "One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind" on a TV dragged into the main barn where our Socials and Dances were held every Friday.  Every Friday Night at the end of the Social, I danced with my Amour of the Week to the strains of "Sealed With a Kiss", and then scooted off to behind the Science Cabin for some SEX action, where I normally regularly dissected living frogs knocked out with a little choloroform to attempt Heart Transplants on them.  None of the frogs ever lived through one of those operations. lol.  Me and the girls survived our sex experimentation though, fortunately.

The all Boys primitive skills camp wasn't quite as entertaining on the sexual exploration level since there were no girls around to do this with, although there was a director at the camp who had a fondness for taking photos of me while naked showering and such. LOL.  Other than getting photos of my naked body recorded on film though, I never got molested during this period.

What was real fun about the primitive skills camp though was learning all the techniques for survival in the wilderness, although granted we had nice industrially produced knives and tents and canoes to use in the learning.  The wilderness areas we hit back in the 1970s were still pretty pristine and not over camped, and I remember many occassions filling up my canteen with water straight from a clear running stream, no boiling or water purification tablets.There were frogs everywhere and we often ate frog's legs for breakfast and dinner.

As I moved into my early teens, I became a lot more politically aware and music aware, and my friend Randy from Brasil moved to my neighborhood with his CIA dad when he was transferred to work at the UN Headquarters.  Thus began my Pirate Radio adventures, which I have written about before here in Pump Up the Volume.

Stage 4 – The High School Years

In the middle of my 9th Grade year in JHS, they gave us another standardized test to see if we qualified for any of the Magnet schools that the NY Shity public schools were running at the time, Sutyvesant, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, the High School for Art & Design and the Highs School of the Performing Arts (The FAME School).  As usual I aced this test and had my choice of schools and picked Stuyvesant, because it was a Science & Math skule and I was a nerd.I picked it over Bronx HS of Science and Brooklyn Tech because from where I lived it was much easier to get there by Subway, although still a pretty long trip of around 1.5 hours every day.  For the other two schools, the only way to get there was by buses which weren't all that dependable or EXTREMELY long subway commutes.

Stuyvesant turned out to be a great choice on the academic level. The best teachers vied for positions at Stuy High, and I got some really good ones.  Frank McCourt who went on to write Angela's Ashes was my Journalism teacher and main mentor as in a teacher I went to for advice and just to talk.  Later when I went to college I would meet up with Frank at McSorley' Old Ale House, an Irish bar in downtown Manhattan not far from where Stuy was located.  I had a great Organic Chemistry teacher in Mr. Price (don't remember his first name), and because I had done Orgo already once in HS, it was easy for me to Ace in college while it gives a lot of people fits.  They weren't all stars though, my History teacher Mr. Lowenthal was ANCIENT, probably in his 70s and boring as all hell.

I also had some great classmates.  Eric Lander who sat right in front of me in many classes because of the spelling order of our last names and in gym class was a real genius who won the Westinghouse and eventually went on to founded the Whitehead Institute at MIT and did major work on the Human Genome Project.  In sophomore year, we were partners in biology lab.

Gym and athletics though took a real hit during the HS years, Stuy had a really crappy gym space in the downtown NY Shity building it was housed in, and a school packed with nerds doesn't field very good sports teams. lol.  So I didn't do any organized sports during my HS years.  My main after school clubs were the Chess Club and the Debating Team.  There we were VERY competitive, and the finals for the NYC Public School System nearly always came down to a battle between Stuy, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx HS of Science.

Stuy also was not very good for my incipient love life, as it had only gone co-ed 3 years before I got there, and only with a sprinkling of girls, not 50-50. More like 80-20.  All the new girls were snapped up by the Seniors, leaving not much for Sophomore and Junior boys.  I did manage to get a date for the Prom though at least.

However, I made up for this lack of Amour during the HS years from school in a few ways.  First off, there was summer camp where I met girls who lived in the general NYC broad metro area, and I would take the train to see them for dates once in a while.  Then I also got flown down to Oz twice a year to be with my Dad the Pigman for his court ordered visitation rights, and being an Exotic Amerikan, Aussie girls found me interesting.  Finally, in my local neighborhood of Flushing, there were still girls I knew from Junior High around, so I wasn't totally bereft of female companionship for those years.

The other main aspect of this period of my life was it was the Pirate Radio years with my friend Randy which I wrote about in Pump Up the Volume, so I won't rehash the story again here.  Just to encapsulate though, that period represented my main political awakening period.


The Bacchanalian Years

This was about a 6-7 year Era in my life, which included the College Years at Columbia and the first 3 years after college working on Wall Street.

https://img.memesuper.com/63e4fb8d025d248f8f2a9ba0fc70ab75_july-2010-investing-caffeine-animal-house-toga-meme_420-322.jpeg While studying in school was the ostensible reason for being there, the REAL reason that consumed most of my time was PARTYING!  I got to college at the ripe old age of 16, and even then you weren't supposed to be able to legally drink alcohol until you were 18, but nobody at bars or liquors stores ever checked your ID, and if they did any old ID you whipped up with a fake birthdate would work.  We ran "Happy Hours" in the social room of the Dorm on the ground floor every week, and about every night one floor or another in the dorm would run a "Floor Party".  I remember one floor party where I got the job of rolling joints from a quarter pound of Ganja, which took me quite a few hours during the week to get done.  I got real good at rolling joints though as a result of this.  By the time I was done, they were almost as uniform looking as smokes out of a pack of Camels! lol.

Just as important as Partying though was GETTING LAID, and I bounced through a few one night or one week stands before I finally met my first true love in Sophomore year, who I refer to nowadays as the Illuminati Spawn.  She was a transfer student in Sophomore Year from Bennington College in Vermont to Barnard College, the women's school associated with Columbia before they went Co-Ed, but I think both schools still exist as separate entities to this day even so.  She was a brilliant polyglot, could speak fluently in a good dozen languages and could read Ancient Greek, Latin and Sanskrit.  Her dad was a math professor at MIT, and actually he and I got on better most of the time than I did with his spawn, except when we were fucking.  She was pretty unstable overall, and dishes would fly if she got mad.  lol.  Still we mostly stayed together through Senior year, though with a number of episodes of cheating by both of us.  We broke up on graduation though, when she went to Washington to pursue a career in the State Department and I took my first job on Wall Street at Merrill Lynch, courtesy of connections from Dad the Pigman (a pal of his from the Executive Training Program at Chase in the 1950's had ended up as CEO of Merrill).

In terms of getting laid, this was even better than college!  I was making gobs of money, hitting clubs like CBGBs and Max's Kansas City and fucking half the dancers in the Joffrey Ballet Company!  There were mile long lines of Coke laid out on mirrors at every party and the food wasn't potato chips and dip like in college.  It was caviar, canapes, smoked salmon and fresh sushi and sashimi.  Afternoon lunches were picked up by Merrill Lynch as long as I got myself invited to sit at the table with the big wigs, which I usually was able to do because my dad's buddy who got me the job was the CEO! What's not to like about this life?

The JOB and the people I worked with, that's what was not to like.  A bigger bunch of assholes gathered together in one skyscraper could not be imagined.  Everybody was out to fuck everybody else, especially "low hanging fruit" investors, but also each other as they tried to climb the corporate ladder.  I also couldn't stand dressing up in the Monkey Suit every day, getting my shoes shined and bringing my costume to the Dry Cleaners every week.  So one fine clear September morning I just couldn't walk through the door and into the lobby, and took the subway back home.  Thus ended my short years as a rich and privileged scion destined to someday become a Master of the Universe.

The Medical Technologist, Chef, Part-time Gymnastics Coach & Marriage Years

I did have some savings after the Bachannalian Years, but not much since I spent most of the income on blow and booze at the clubs.  Expenses were pretty high too, it's not cheap to get all your suits dry cleaned and your shirts washed & pressed at the Chinese Laundry every week you know.  I also still had a good 8 years left to go on my college loans.

https://www.stlawrencecollege.ca/-/media/images/programs-and-courses/med-lab/med-lab-2016-5.jpg?mw=960 However, I quickly hooked on as a Medical Techologist in a lab at a Hospital I had done some Research Assistant work in the Cardiology Department as a Work-Study job during the college years, and this met most of the basic bills fairly well.  I had a very interesting schedule of 2 16 hour shifts over the weekend, starting at 4PM on Saturday and 4PM on Sunday, separated out by 8 hours where I caught some sleep.

I also caught a good deal of sleep on the job as well, since my lab was independent and isolated from the rest of the Chemistry Labs in the hospital, it was in the Cardiology Department, closed and locked down for the night other than the Blood Gas lab.During the Midnight-8 shift, few samples came in usually, maybe 5-10 a night on average, and they would take about 5 minutes to run, record in a log and report the results to whoever it was that sent you the sample.  Samples came from the ER, SICU, MICU and NICU.  If you don't know what these medical acronyms mean, look them up on Google. lol.  There were even nights I got no samples at all and could sleep straight through the whole shift and get paid for it!

Although it was paying around enough to cover all my bills, first off I was bored the other 5 days a week and second did not have enough spare income to go out doing too much else.  So I looked around for a 2nd job to take and found a job as a Sous Chef at Capsuto Freres, a very classy restaurant in Chelsea which I had frequented during the Bacchanalian years and knew the Head Chef.

I also used my free time to work out at a Y in Westchester where they had a Trampoline and an incipient Gymnastics Program starting up run by my eventually to become wife and then ex-wife.  I met her initially working out in the weight room pumping iron, getting myself back into shape after years of neglect since High School Daze, and found out she was Head of the Gymnastics Program they were starting up.  She was an ex-Elite gymnast whose dad had been on the Hungarian gymnastics team in the 1940s or 1950s not sure and had trained here under Muriel Grossfeld for a while.  So I asked her if I could use the Tramp while it was set up for practice. The gym at this time was similar to many, a "set-up & take-down" gym that was in the normal Basketball gym space in this Y. This was before there were many dedicated Private Gymnastics Clubs with permanent setups around.  That didn't start exploding until after Mary Lou Retton won the All-Around Gold Medal in 1984 (an Olympics boycotted by the Ruskies).

Like riding a bicycle, once learned gymnastics tricks are not forgotten by your Reptilian Brain.  You may lose the physical ability to do them, but the motor control is with you for most of your life, until the brain itself starts to decay.  So after getting myself back in shape (I was still in my 20s at the time), I was able to throw fulls and double backs on the tramp, and she was impressed!  We became an "item", and she asked me to help her coach tumbling, vault and bars skills, all of which I understood perfectly well even though I had no formal training as a gymnastics coach.  There was in fact no such formal training available in those years, and there still is very little.  It's something you learn as you grow up, from others who tried these things before you.  I had additional background in Physics, Mechanics, Biology and Child Psychology which helped as well on the theoretical end for developing drills for learning the skills, and for training the mind to be fearless enough to try them.

RE with a future National Team member, Age 5

So I left the world of Haute Cuisine and took on as my part-time job coaching gymnastics.  After 3 years of dating and living together, we married. After another 3 years, we divorced.  Why?

Not long after getting married, things started to go south economically.  My Union went on strike for 6 months, and I couldn't meet all the bills we had accumulated.  We took a great and memorable Honeymoon in Europe for 6 weeks, we bought a Condo and the only new car I ever bought in my life, a Chevy Astro Van so we could ship our gymmies around in bulk periodically, sort of like a Soccer Mom & Dad on Steroids.  I also still had college loans to pay off.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/YjZZun16pus/hqdefault.jpg To cover this shortfall, I ran up my credit card bills, paying my Student Loan by taking cash advances on the CCs.  The lack of money put a crimp in the lifestyle both of us liked, which was still a lot of partying.  Arguments over money ensued, wife started cheating on me and I started cheating on her.  We got to where we couldn't stand each other, so finally I left her a note on the Kitchen Table, a Music Mix on a Cassete Tape I recorded of breakup songs, and left her with the condo and took off in the Astro Van, which I lived in for about 6 months before quitting on that lifestyle and moving back in with my mom in the McMansion in Flushing, Queens in NY Shitty.

I got out of the marriage pretty cheap as those things go, we mutually agreed to end it and no lawyers involved.  I filed all the paperwork myself and it was over for about $250 in filing fees.  I agreed to pay my half of the mortgage payment on the condo until we could get it sold, which took about another 6 months.

Once the marriage was over, I found another part-time gym coaching job at a new private gym not far from my mom's house in Flushing, and then my Union finally settled the strike and I was back to full income and able to pay all my regular bills, although the credit card balance I had worked up did not come down very much.  I plodded through another couple of years this way.

Then there was a re-organization in the Hospital, and my lab was moved in to be part of the regular Chemistry Lab.  No more sleeping on the job and getting paid for it!  I determined at this point this was not the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and determined to go back to school to get a Teaching degree.  It was the Reagan Era and they were crying for Science and Math teachers to keep the FSoA "competitive" with the Chinese and other nations who were starting to surpass the education system here even back then.  While I had all the undergrad credit hours in four different HS specialization areas necessary for certification (Math, Chemistry, Biology & Physica), I did not have the Education courses you are required to take for a teaching license.  I also didn't really want to be a HS teacher, I wanted to teach Elementary School.  However, my advisor in the Ed Dept in the Master's program at Queens College advised me that I was way over-qualified to be an Elementary School teacher and should go for a Secondary School license.  Sadly, I followed that advice.  I might have lasted a bit longer teaching elementary school.

The two years it took to get all my coursework and certifications in place were thoroughly exhausting.  I was coaching from 4PM to 9PM at the gym, I was in the Lab from Midnight to 8AM, and then I was in class from around 10AM to 3PM, although not continuously every day.  I got what little sleep I got during this time in the back of the Astro Van, between jobs and between classes.

Once finally fully Certified as a Public Skule Teacher, I made my applications and got a job in the Valley Stream Long Island school system, teaching Junior High through High School Science and Math, in two different schools. Thus ended this period of my life, which was the longest in one general paradigm, about 15 years.

The Public School Teaching Years

This was the shortest era of my life, around 3 years.  Teaching science and math seemed like a good choice in changing careers, teachers of these subjects were in notoriously short supply since anyone really knowledgeable went into private industry where the salaries were higher.  It also matched up well with my Hobby-Job of coaching gymnastics, since Skule finished the day in theory at 3PM, and coaching usually got underway around 4PM.  Except I often had detentions to do after school, so I was often late for practice.

http://weimax.com/images/Buehler_Ben-Stein.jpg The problems I faced during this period were endless.  First off, because I was being sent to two different schools (a Junior High and a High School), I didn't have my own clasroom.  Instead, what I got were two rolling lecterns (one in each school) in which I was supposed to keep all my student records, my lesson plans and graded tests and homework assignements, and roll the lectern around from classroom to classroom that happenned to be empty while the main teacher assigned to that classroom had a prep period.  Needless to say, these lecterns were stuffed full of papers I couldn't find all the time.  I stopped giving homework assignments as a starter to get this under control. lol.

Worse than this were the kids I was trying to teach though.  90% of them in any given class first of all had little interest in learning Physical Science or Math, and their preparation coming out of elementary school was horrendous.  Students in 9th Grade could not solve the Density equation Density=Mass/Volume except if you gave them Mass and Volume and a calculator to do the division.  They couldn't rearrange the equation if you gave them Density and Volume for instance.  So I couldn't really teach the curriculum, I spent much more time doing remedial work that should have been finished 7th Grade the latest.

https://thelittle.org/sites/default/files/imges/film/thebreakfastclub.jpg The problem here now becomes one of Behavior and acting out in the classroom.  If you are going over the heads of the unprepared kids who are also disinterested, they become behavior problems and disrupt the lesson.  They are lost and bored.  If you start teaching down to them and trying to remediate, you lose the few kids who are interested and decently prepared.  There are fewer of them, so you mostly teach down, and then to keep everyone somewhat entertained you do demos like a Thermite reaction, or you make rockets out of plastic soda bottles and rubbing alcohol.  Everybody likes that stuff! lol.  You can't do that every day and actually learn anything though.

Then there were the battles with the Administration, and if your kids were bigger behavior problems than the next teacher, YOU got called on the carpet for this!  It was YOUR fault they weren't interested enough to pay attention!  When a parent came in to complain, the Parent Was Always Right, like customers in a retail store.  It was a total No-Win situation, and the hours turned out to be endless.  Because I taught science, I had labs to prepare and clean up.  I had to get to the skule a full 2 hours at least before class actually began to get labs ready.  Then there were the after skule detentions as mentioned, then after getting home from coaching around 9PM, I usually had a good 2 hours of grading papers and preparing lesson plans.  This went on day in and day out for 3 years, and if I got 6 hours of sleep with no recreation time at all I was doing good.  I turned in my resignation after the 3rd year of this insanity.

http://schooldesigns.com/Portals/0/SD_Images/Projects/138-exterior_aerial-1.jpg After resting up for a month, I forwarded out some resumes to gyms around the country for a full time coaching position, but also a couple to Elite Private Skules for the Rich, specifically, Choate, Phillips Exeter, Phillips Andover and the Horace Mann School.  I got interviews at Choate and Horace Mann, and was offered a job at Horace Mann.  I was shown my Physics Classroom and Lab, which would have been all mine.  Every toy in the catalog was in the cabinets.  Class sizes all 20 or less, averaging around 15. Upper Class kids who were expected to do well in School by their successful parents.  A $35K/year salary, which was competitive at the time with Public Schools as a starting salary.  I turned the job down.  Why?

Mainly because the 3 prior years had thoroughly burned me out, and I supected there would be similar if not worse administrative issues.  Rich parents have tons of clout in a Private Skule, and if their prized little brat complains to them that you're not grading them fairly or teaching them right, they can do more than a Public Skule parent can, they can threaten to take the kid out of your expensive skule and send them to a different one.  You gotta make the customers happy, and these are BIG PAYING customers!  Tuition at Horace Mann even in those years was comparable to Ivy League tuitions.

So came another major crisis in my life, and now I was nearing 40 years old.  Too late now to really go back to grad skule once again for yet another degree and training for some other field.  So I elected to try going out as a Full Time Competive Gymnastics Coach in the growing industry of Private Gyms.  I had the experience and knew many people in the field after years of doing this part time.  I got my first job full time where my sister had moved to and my mom retired to, in Springfield, MO.

The Full Time Gymnastics Years, Round 1

Coaching Gymnastics is tons of fun and very rewarding in a non-monetary way.  You have a very significant impact on the kids you work with, often for several years, much more time than a school teacher does.  It's also very challenging, particularly to teach higher level skills, and it's FUN!  It's not like having to work in a Coal Mine or garb up in a Monkey Suit to cheat pensioners out of their life savings on Wall Street.  Unfortunately, it's also a very low paying profession in general, unless you manage to open your own gym, in which case you can become quite successful.  Unfortunately, I never got together enough money to do that after my early bankstering years.  I was fortunate through most of the time to just keep a roof over my head.

http://c2971522.r22.cf0.rackcdn.com/7XuW9wI1ujOL7HDr2i03.jpg However, I did move my way up pretty quickly to the higher end of a low paid profession as a Head Coach and Program Director at a pretty large gym outside of Chicago, after 2 years coaching as an Assistant Director to the gym owner in Springfield.  It was a decent middle class salary and included medical bennies, which mostly you do not get in these type of jobs.  However, I had disputes with the owner and the owner's daughter who was my assistant coach, and you never win when it's family you are dealing with and they write the paychecks. I quit that job and moved onto another one.

Similar result the next time out, although this time I was fired rather than quit.  I bounced through about 2 more of these jobs in different places before I finally became fed up with both not making much money nor being able to sufficiently control the direction of the program to achieve my goal, which of course was to coach an Olympic level gymnast.  For the second time in my life, unemployed and with little money in the bank and still a good deal of credit card debt overhang I returned to livng with my mom, now retired with a rented 2 bedroom apartment in Springfield MO.

Approaching the age of 40, with an Ivy League education and a Master's Degree, I started sending out the resumes.  Over about 4 months of time, I got exactly one interview for writing technical journals for a pharmaceutical company and did not get the job.  I was starting to feel quite hopeless for my future. Then, perusing through the Help Wanted pages of the Springfield News-Leader (this was before the internet job seeking system with monster.com and other sites got rolling), I spied an Ad for Schneider National Trucking company, recruiting Over the Road Truck Drivers.  I went to the recruitment meeting, held at a Bates Motel in Springfield.  I met the requirements, I had a clean driving record with no DUIs, I had no criminal record, I was a HS graduate and Amerikan Citizen and I could drive a standard transmission car.  All I had to do was get my ass up to Green Bay, WI for FREE training and promise to work for them for a year to pay off that training for the low, low slave driving wage of the era of 21 cents/mile.  So I packed up my 10 year old Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon (a kind of early mini-SUV) and drove from Springfield to Green Bay the following week.  Thus began the next 7 year era of my life ast an OTR Big Rig Driver cruising the Eisenhower Interstate Highways, along with occasional dispatches into Mejico and the Great White North of Canada.

The OTR Trucking Years

I covered this period of my life in extensive detail in my 5 part Over the Road series back in the early years of the Diner.  I won't rehash that stuff here, although there are a few stories I left out.

http://static.wixstatic.com/media/69d8a0_481c7c21f5a64e539bcd3d26894c10f5.jpg_srz_260_158_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz The first is that prior to going out in the truck, after years of headaches with Student Loans and Credit Card bills, I finally got out of debt.  I was completely broke with no assets at all they could take in a bankruptcy.  I only had my 10 year old Toyota, and they can't take your primary transportation.  Besides it was worth almost nothing.  The Student Loans were gone, over the years I had transfered them to the Credit Cards.  So I didn't have the problem of Student Loans not being disharchargeble in a bankruptcy.  If you get a big enough CC limit over the years to do this, I highly recommend the method! lol.  So at the time of the BK, all my debt was in unsecured CC loans, and it wasn't that huge either by today's standards.  Around $7000 at the time as I recall, which is probably around $12K in 2017 dollars.  This may not seem like much, but when you are totally broke and the interest charges and penalties keep piling up, it just gets worse all the time. The Banks did not even bother to show up for this piddling bankruptcy though, and I walked out of the courtroom in 15 minutes, free and clear of debt for the first time in my adult life!  What a load off my shoulders!  I had a clean slate and a new job lined up as an OTR Trucker for Schneider National!  I never went in debt again for anything, and never held a Credit Card since.

Next is how this period which lasted around 7 years changed me psychologically.  Up until that time I had been a fairly gregarious person, enjoyed hanging out with friends, going to parties, etc.  However, when you are trucking you spend all day driving or getting loaded or unloaded for weeks at a time and don't talk to anybody.  In the truckstops where all the truckers congregate, I had nothing in common with them other than the fact we all drove big rigs.  Even if I did have something in common with them, it's a different crew of people every night so it's not like hanging out with friends.  More like going to a bar and talking to whoever sits down next to you.  The only person you might have regular conversations with and get to know some is the Bartender.

http://www.truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com/image-files/park-n-view-terminal-truck-stop-dsc02341.jpg I got used to being alone this way, and actually came to enjoy it over time.  I did have the internet, it was just getting into the Truckstops in the era, before Wi-Fi.  There was a company called Park n View which put little hubs into the asphalt you could get cable TV and a phone line.  It was dial-up modem era, and all text.  However, that was enough for me then, and I ran my Yahoo Groups and Forums in areas of interest to me at the time, primarily Gymnastics.  I maintained contact with coaches who were friends, and parents of some of the gymmies I had coached who kept me updated on their progress.  Three of them went on to become Elite Gymnasts and two made the National Team.

In addition, whenever I made it to Central California, I would take a few days off to go in and guest coach at a friend's tiny gym in the relatively poor Ag land area around Madera.  It was a small gym serving the mostly Mexican community, and she was persistently broke.  Not a super successful gym owner, she wasn't real good at bizness and she set up in the wrong neighborhood to make any money from the sport even as an owner.  She lived in a barn loft with 1 bedroom I think she paid around $300/mo for.  She also was a heavy smoker, and then shortly after I left trucking a couple of years later, she died from an embolism in her brain.  Around 45 years old at the time.

Of all the things I did not cover in the Over the Road series though was that this period featured the last real "relationship" I had with a female, as in something more than just a one night stand or one week stand.  After a year of slaving for Schneider at 21 cents a mile, I turned in my resignation a day after my anniversary, took a month off and then went to work for JB Hunt, first at 48 cents a mile as a company driver, then 2 years later as an Owner-Operator.  JB financed this if you were a clean driver who made his deliveries on time with no accidents, which was me.  In the first couple of years with JB I was already doing quite well and had virtually no expenses besides my truck expenses, and these were all tax deductable.  No rent, no mortgage, no utilities to pay on a McMansion.  No kids to buy clothes for, and the Med Insurance from JB was all paid for by them.  I was still pretty healthy at this time anyhow, and didn't need to see doctors except for my annual driving check up.  My Savings Account was piling up the FRNs.

So one day I hit the Petro in Joplin MO, one of the nicest truckstops out there and a favorite of mine to stop at whenever driving the I-44, which I did often because my terminal was in Kansas City and this route was one of their biggest.  On this day when I rolled in, I went in to hit the Buffet for dinner, and a REALLY cute young waitress came to take my order.  The Old RE came back from the dead and I made some jokes and flirted with her.  She laughed and made some jokes of her own.  I decided not to order the Buffet, but instead order a dish off the menu so that I would see her again.  More flirting when she brought the meal, more when she refilled my water glass and more when she brought me desert which I usually never order but it gave another opportunity to chat.  By this time I had found out she was attending the local community college and had grown up on a small farm outside Joplin.  She was half my age, but when she brought the check I asked her for her phone number and she gave it to me.  Thus began the last romance of my life, which lasted around a year and a half.

To her, I was a successful Trucker, I took her out to nice places and took her on the road with me a few times when she was off from school.  After a few months of this, she started talking about the Big M, Marriage.  I put it off, I said we should be dating at least a year before tying the knot.  I didn't want to dash her hopes entirely, I really enjoyed being with her and talking, she was a great listener although kind of quiet herself most of the time.  The sex also was quite good. lol.  She accepted this idea in her own quiet way and the talk of getting married stopped, until I had almost forgotten about it.  But then almost to the day I first met her the next time I rolled into Joplin up the topic came up again.

"So, it's been a year.  Don't you think we should set a date?"

I almost said "Date for what?", but I knew what she meant.  So I said, "Yes, I suppose we should.  How about when school lets out in May?"

A HUGE smile broke out on her face and she gave me the biggest hug EVAH!  It was only around 4 months away!  We would drive to Vegas and get hitched there.  She was happy, I was happy…for me for about a month.

Then all the old memories came back to me of my first marriage, while I was alone in the truck driving the endless miles of the Eisenhower Interstate.  On top of all those issues I thought about the new ones with this marriage.  As a trucker, I would be away from home most of the time, with a young and attractive wife at home, unless I took her with me on the road, and did I really want to be living inside a Freightliner 24/7 365 with ANYONE?  We would need a McMansion, and there would go all the savings I was piling up.  What if she got Pregnant!  Just like wanting to get married, she surely would start talking about having kids inside a year or two.  These questions all floated through my brain every day, even as we chatted on the cell phone making plans for the Big Trip.  The Butterflies in my stomach flapped their wings harder every day.

The fateful day finally arrived, and as I approached the Joplin Exit on the I-44, I realized I just could not do this, and I drove right by it.  We spoke on the phone and I made an excuse I got delayed and would be there in a couple of days.  I called her a couple of days later and told her the truth.  There were a lot of tears.  We spoke a few more times in the months after that, but the phone calls finally drifted into history.

Athough I often wonder how my life would have gone had I taken that exit off the interstate and it breaks my heart every time I think about it, in the end I think I made the right choice on this one, for her and for me as painful as it was and still is for me at least.  About a year or so later 9-11 went down, and freight dropped off the map for a while.  Income dropped precipitously.  Not as bad a situation as when my Union had gone on strike financially for me during my first marriage since my expenses were so low, but had I been married that would not have been the case.  Besides that, I was quite sick of driving by this time, it's just an endless grind and doing it for the rest of my life was not something I wanted to do anymore than I had wanted to do battle with administrators and recalcitrant, unprepared and unruly students as a teacher for my whole life either.

So out of the Truck I got, and moved on to the next and last period of my Working life, a return to the World of Gymnastics as a Full Time Coach.  It also coincides with the years where I metamorphosed into a Doomer.

The Gymnastics Rerun & Early Doomer Years

After getting out of the truck, I had a nice buffer of savings and took a nice two month break from work while I figured out what to do with the rest of my life.  I finally settled on returning to gymnastics, as even though the pay wasn't great, at least I enjoyed the job and with money in the bank as long as it was enough for my bills, it would be fine.  So once again I called up old coaching friends and lined up a job in WI as Asst Head Coach for Optionals with the Team Director there, who was a friend of my friend.  It was a community owned gym, so she wasn't the Owner, just another employee except she had the right to hire and fire other coaches, with the approval of another employee, the overall Gym Director.  We came to a salary agreement I felt I could make ends meet on, which was hourly but guaranteed me a minimum of 30 hours a week of coaching time.  No medical bennies or retirement account or sick days, no pay for when the gym was closed for holidays, but generally enough to get by on.

This went fairly well for a couple of years, although there was the usual Gym Drama between coaches who all do not usually agree on the best means and methods for developing the gymmies. lol.  Still, our gymmies did pretty well, we took a couple to Nationals at Level 10 and we had a strong Compulsory level program in the younger age groups.

Unfortunately, the area was not doing well economically, it was in the lead-up to the Financial Crisis in 2008, in the years 2005-2007 or so.  Enrollment in the rec & preschool programs were low, and the Gym Director called me in one day and told me she had to cut my hours back to 20/week, just Team.  I told her I couldn't live on that, and she told me there was nothing she could do, they just weren't making enough money.  So I started checking the Ads in USA Gymnastics Magazine (still not fully digital job seeking yet on the internet), and found one for a gym in Alaska looking for a Head Coach.  A week or so later after sending out the resume via Snail Mail I got a call from the owner, and we had several more long phone calls after that discussing philosophy and how to build a good high level gymnastics program.  He then invited me to fly up for a test week, paying for my plane ticket and expenses.  The test week overall went well, he offered me a Salaried Position with bennies and I immediately quit the job in WI on returning and made plans to move to Alaska the following month.

I moved up here with no car, no furniture, just the 5 bags of personal stuff I usually carried with me during my years as an OTR trucker.  It was just before they started dropping charges on checked baggage on the airlines, so the 3 bags that went in the baggage compartment did not cost me any money on that trip.  It was in February of 2007 that I made my migration as a refugee from the lower 48. lol.

Things were not precisely as the owner had made them out to be when I arrived, as I soon found out.  He indicated the old Head Coach who had been with him from the early days of the gym wanted to step back to spend more time with her family, but in fact she did not want to at all and was very resentful of me.   We had a kind of shared Head Coaching responsibility, and we battled often the first year.  We reached a raproachment of sorts in the second year, and the gym began to turn around from perennial loser to State Champion at several levels.  Things were looking OK, but then I got my first real medical issue, Peripheral Artery Disease in my legs.  I had to take time off for a rotor rooter job on the femoral arteries, and in the meantime the Owners Daughter (again!) took over responsibility as Head Coach.  The original HC had by this time quit and gone into teaching PE in the Pulic Schools.  Once I had recuperrated and came back in, things were way worse than they ever were with the original HC, me and the Owner's Daughter were like Oil and Water and just could not mix.

My gymnastics responsibilities were reduced, and my job was redefined to help grow the Private-Homeschool Academic program the Owner had dreams of building, as addition to the Day Care program he already ran that went from Infancy to Pre-K.  I lasted an additional 2 years this way, spending part of the day teaching the Homeschoolers through 3rd through 6th Grade, and the other half teaching developmental gymanstics to pre-team level gymmies.  This kept me and Owner's Daughter from butting heads much over team, although it was distressing for me to watch her eviscerate the program I had been building.

It might have persisted a while longer, except the Homeschool program was losing money. Not enough parents wanted to pay for this service that was supposed to bridge the gap in cost between Public & Private School.  So at the end of the second academic year of this, the Owner gave me my walking papers.

So, now I am past 55, and the likelihood I can find anyone down in the lower 48 to hire me at a decent paying position with bad legs and overall diminished mobility necessary for spotting in gymnastics is quite small.   However, there was a recently opened gym by another former employee, which had grown some and moved into a new facility.  I went over there and talked to the fellow who opened it, a New Owner.  We came to an agreement of my old hourly, but only 20 hours/week to start.  Not enough to cover my bills, but not draining my savings too fast either, so I figured in a couple of years we would grow the program and I would get more hours.

Grow the program we did, and once again the gym went from perrenial loser to State Champion in the 3 years I was there.  Team Doubled in size.  That's a LOT of additional income over that time period.  Did I see any raises or any more hours?  Nope.   Instead in year 3 said owner invested his additional income in expanding the gym and buying tons of expensive new equipment.

In the same year, I took a fall while spotting on the Uneven Bars and injured my neck.  Consequences from this began to crop up, extreme pain for a while, then my right arm became semi-paralyzed, then walking started getting difficult, etc.  I was trying to hang on long enough to take my last bunch of gymmies to State Championships, but then just a couple of weeks before that me and the owner had one more big argument and my career as a gymnastics coach was over.  It would have been over anyhow in a couple of weeks, the doctors told me it was too dangerous to continue, but there was just no way I could go into work the next day after that argument.  Fortunately, the gymmies were well prepped and they all went on to win the State Championships at all 3 levels I had been coaching.

During this whole decade of time, simultaneously I became a Doomer, and that began right after I moved up here.  Even though it occured at the same time, I'll give it a separate category, the Beginning Doomer Years.

The Beginning Doomer Years

Right after I moved up here in 2007, the Investment Bank Bear Stearns began to have serious problems.  I picked up an article on the web about it, don't remember where.  I started following the story, and by June they were in the deep doo-doo.  I began to research the causes for this and eventually came on an article by the notorious Goldbug Antal Fekete, "The Twilight of Irredeemable Debt".  Further Link Surfing brought me to the PeakOil.com forum in late 2007-early 2008, not sure when.  By then I was sure Bear Stearns would fail, and fail they did, and then Lehman Brothers after them.  Then the full blown Financial Crisis of 2008 came around October, and by then I was a full blown Doomer and predicting the Collapse of the Monetary System within a year.  It didn't play out that way of course.

The Smartest Guys in the Room like Henry Paulson, Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke along with pissing in their pants politicians pulled out the Big Bazooka. They conjured up 100s of $Billions$ out of thin air to bail out AIG and other TBTF Banks on the brink of toppling over the cliff like Bear & Lehman did.  They got it patched together and BAU resumed, with one exception.  Instead of each year a few 10s or 100s of $Billions" of debt being added to the system, now every year $Trillions$ were being added.  Along with that, Quadrillions in derivatives bets on the whole House of Cards.  That continues to this day, although it's not doing a  whole hell of a lot to fix the economies of any country in the world at all.  Every last one is in deep debt, and the weakest ones with the least ability to manipulate the credit creation system are being triaged off first, places like Greece and Venezuela.

All of this of course has had increasing Geopolitical consequences and Social consequences as well, with more brush Wars between Proxy Nations of the Big 3 of China, Russia and the FSoA and more Shoot-em-Up Postal events occuring all the time, along with numerous Bankster Suicides and domestic violence and Homelessness increased.  The only question at this point is when the Tipping Point for the whole system will come and what event or events will be to really send things into a tailspin.  Will it come from a failure of one of the TBTF Banks, as it did with the failure of Lehman in 2008?  Will it come from the failure of a major European state like Italy or Spain?  Will it come from a direct military confrontation between the FSoA and Mother Russia over Syria?  China and the FSoA over the Spratly Islands and South China Sea?  A Nuke pitched out by North Korea? There's no good means to predict this, all you can say with assurance is something is gonna give here at some point, and the timeline doesn't look too far into the future.

Anyhow, while I began my Doomer years as a typical commenter on the Peak Oil forum, being very opinionated and often a contrarian to the Group Think there, I eventually got my ass booted off the site, not once but twice.  I began there under the Rogue Economist ID, and after being banned with that one returned a couple of months later under the Reverse Engineer ID, the one I use to this day on all the sites I either run myself or participate in the Commentariat.  Often just using the "RE" initials.

At that time I set up the Yahoo Group Reverse Engineering, where I invited a few friends and maintained off and on from 2009 to 2012 when we opened up the Doomstead Diner for serving Doom up to the World Wide Web on a daily basis. lol.  I also blogged for a while on Jimbo Quinn's blog, The Burning Platform as a counterpoint to the racist, alt-right claptrap he serves up there on a daily basis.  We had numerous arguments and falling outs, and he owned the site, so eventually I got the Permanent Ban, after a few shorter duration ones, and a brief rapproachment after we started the Diner and we cross posted each other's blogs.  When he sticks to economics and CPA style analysis, Jimbo is actually a very good and detailed blogger.  However, his political views are so putrid it overwhelms his accounting analysis overall and his commentariat is a complete sewer of shit throwing monkeys, which he encourages.  That is his own term to describe the participants in the commentariat of TBP.

While the Reverse Engineering Yahoo group was congenial and small, it was a Private Group not open to the general public, and just a few people read it, maybe a dozen or so the most at any given time during it's operation.  Overall I was pretty happy with it though as it gave me a place to write and a few people of similar mindset to discuss ideas with without the discussions turning into Napalm Contests.  I probably would still be there if not for one thing…YAHOO BOTS!

I put up a couple of posts discussing racial inequality and racism in general, and used the word "Nigger" in the posts.  This is in a Private Group mind you, not a generally accessible public forum.  My goal with the posts was to show why one group (the Niggers themselves) can use the word without a taint of racism to it, but a Honky cannot do so.  It was overall a word analysis post.  It never went up.  Then I had a couple of other posts not see the light of day for similar reasons, and I mentioned this to Peter, who I had met on Karl Denninger's Ticker Forum and who was quite the computer wizard, amongst his many other Wizardly skills.  He said he could set up the kind of blog & forum I wanted, with all the bells & whistles I wanted.  I agreed to do this, and the Doomstead Diner was born in February of 2012.

Retirement and and the Recent Doomer Years

I have written any number of blogs about all the nonsense I have been through over the last couple of years with respect to my exit from the working world, my hassles with the medical and insurance industries and all the Goobermint nonsense you need to negotiate your way through to get your bennies.  Crap which I still am dealing with, it's still not done after over 2 years of battling the bureaucracies involved.  Along with my Diner tasks, this also keeps me bizzy.  lol.   Even more on this topic (MUCH MORE!) is written in my Personal Diary Inside the Diner titled "RE is Dying".  It's on a restricted board though, so only visible to mods and long term respected Diner contributors.  So again, I won't rehash that shit in this compilation of autobiographical stories.

For me though, this switchover to the retired life changed my priorities, while still employed the Diner was just my Doom Hobby and not my primary focus.  Nowadays though, it is basically what I LIVE for. If I didn't have the Diner, I would be bored out of my skull as a mostly home-bound cripple with little to do but eat, sleep and excrete.  As it is with the Diner, every day I have something new to ponder on and write about, and I also am always finding new friends to discuss ideas with and new enemies to argue with!  I have tons of tech maintenance issues always to deal with and always getting new BRAINSTORMS on ways to get the message out to more people to fulfill my stated goal of "SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN". These days beside the Diner Blog & Forum itself we have Facebook and Twitter channels, a Reddit Channel, several Paper.li Newz Agreggations and a Soundcloud Channel for Audio Podcasts.  I'm not responsible or Admining all of them though, my partner in crime Surly handles the Facebook, Twitter and main Newz Aggregation curation site of Doomstead Diner Newz.  He is not too pleased with me these daze though. lol

At the same time though, it's not like this is the typical job where I have to get up at any specific time to do Diner tasks; nor am I obligated to a Boss to please him to keep my job and keep my Weekly Paycheck incoming.  I can on any day simply not "show up for work" and it doesn't make that big a difference, although I usually do not do that under normal circumstances.  If I am travelling or other medical shit is going down, those are the only times I won't show up on the Diner to drop in my humble opinions on a given day on EVERYTHING! lol.  So it's really the ideal job for me that I always wanted, just I don't get paid for it and it costs ME money to keep it running!  lol.  However, it's not an onerous amount of money at the moment, and since I spend little in other ways I can afford it even on a Poverty Level income.  I could in fact do it for free for the most part, although it would not be so customizable and I wouldn't have as much control over the data that way.

Besides continuing onward with the Diner as a means to "Save as Many as We Can" (aka inform people of the shit that is coming down the pipe so they can prep for it), the other aspect of these retirement years is the SUN☼ Project, which is a non-profit 501c3  corporation we set up originally back in my Stage 1 Doomer years, but are now trying to lift off the ground and actually get some kind of resiliency system and forming community IRL to combat the problems we see on the horizon.  Not an EZ thing to do for many reasons, $MONEY$ being the #1 obstacle on this one.  I am leaving behind a substantial amount of money to get it off the ground, but I do not know how the other Officers of the Foundation will spend this money after I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond.  Unlike a website to form a virtual community in cybersace which is within reason on a poverty level budget, setting such a thing up IRL on a real piece of land with all the preps you need to give it a reasonable chance of success takes a decent piece of change and I only have enough for a small part of it.  Then there are the number of people you need to bring aboard the project, as I have hammered down on many times the individual Doomstead is a fantasy in terms of its long term sustainability.  Even in Cyberspace we are nowhere near that number of committed Diners, much less getting such a number together IRL, which would be around Dunbar's Number of 150 at minimum.  The Diner has plenty of lurker-readers, but the number who are committed to the SUN☼ Project remains in the single digits.

However, I always council patience on this sort of thing, Rome was not built in a day after all. lol.  As long as the internet remains up and BAU continues, there'sd still opportunity to keep growing the project and getting it to fly.  The Wright Bothers crashed a lot of kites and gliders before they got that first plane to fly at Kitty Hawk you know.

As things progressively deteriorate, if there is not a sudden meltdown and instant fast crash, more and more people will become interested in the ideas we have been cultivating with the SUN☼ Project.  It remains a worthwhile project as far as I am concerned, at the very least like the Diner it keeps me bizzy and thinking aout plausible solutions to the predicament we findourselves in these days.

SUN☼ has already produced significant IRL results, it provided a reason for the first Diner Convocation in April of 2014, where all of us who had never met IRL got together for a week of learning and celebrating our online friendships.  Last year in September of 2016 many of us got together again for a second convocation in conjunction with our first real life sales pitch to the Movers & Shakers of the Inman City Council, which went very well politically speaking even if it did not raise the money we need to get the project off the ground.  Even without the money though, it provides a Foundation to work from and brings more supporters into the project, so that is progress.  Hopefully in this next year we will see more progress, we're working on a Greenhouse project in Inman at the moment.

——————-

PHEW!  After over 13,000 words, this more or less encapulates my life and how I got to this point, still semi-ambulatory and above ground.  I did not cover the many times I should have died before I hit 60 in this autobiography, although I have detailed a few of them Inside the Diner.  Perhaps if I make it to 65 that will be the next autobiographical post.  I have also over the last few weeks thoroughly pissed off and aliented some of the Diners with my opinions.  The basic problem is that generally speaking people cannot handle the TRUTH of their lives.  Because I am on my way out the door, I tell them the truth they do not want to hear.  So I may very well leave this iteration of walking the Earth in a Meat Suit with no friends left.  So it goes.

Where does it go from here?

Given my wide variety of medical issues, I don't give myself many more years walking the earth as a corporeal meat package.  It's a race to see which collapses first, my biological functions or the global industrial economy? lol.  I do HOPE I live long enough to witness the kind of fast collapse of the monetary system that I think will occur at some point in the timeline, and I MIGHT live just about long enough to see that.  If not, I will witness it instead from the Bleacher Seats of the Great Beyond.  The Daily task of walking around inside this decrepit Meat Suit is no fun though.

In the meantime, I have the Diner to write on and a great perch here on the Last Great Frontier to observe the chaos as it spirals out of control through the rest of the world. Here it still is quite peaceful, the shelves are stocked full of food I usually don't have much appetite for but is nice to look at as I cruise around the aisles of 3 Bears on my Ewz.  I am getting better at passing up bargains on sales of Ribeye Steaks and Baby Lamb Chops, I am out of freezer space for more meat and I can never finish a package before it goes bad.

On the uplifting and positive side, the SUN project still slogs onward, and there are new projects to undertake with that to keep me bizzy and my mind occupied.  I have a nice new Dell All-in-One computer with a HUGE monitor screen, the biggest one I ever had in all my years as a computer and electronic gadget junkie.  The internet is now more or less at its Apex, it's getting increasingly more intrusive but you still do have the freedom to write and have others read it.  At least as long as you stay within some boundaries anyhow, you won't last long if you advocate for terrorism for instance.  You can however make analysis of why terrorism exists and what the motivations are for terrorism. Besides the somewhat circumscribed freedom to write, as much as Google is a collector of YOUR information on YOUR life intruding into your personal privacy, it's also a fucking AMAZING search engine.  With a well composed query of a few words, I can get answers to questions I am thinking about in a few seconds, depending how fast my ISP is moving, not how fast Google processes the packets.  Besides that, when composing my material, I am no longer limited to just text, I can also search up and include pics, videos and audio to illustrate the points I am trying to make, and of course if a Picture is worth 1000 words, a Vid clip of just a minute in length is worth 1800 pics at 30 frames/sec, which makes it worth 1.8M words!  It would take me a long time to write that many words! lol.

Seriously though, for all it's faults and problems, the internet is still a pretty decent communication medium, and at least for now I remain reasonably able to communicate with the rest of the world.  The Diner actually is still below the Radar of sites banned in China, we even make it through to there.  It also continues to grow, and ovverall readership at the moment is around 400 users/day, which far as I am concerned is plenty of people to be reaching every day (although I would like more of course!).

If the internet does crap out before I do, I'll have to evacuate my digs here and get together with some of the other Diners in the Lower 48 or I'll go completely stir-crazy (I'm halfway there already).  Hopefully though, the crapout does not occur before I tidy up the last of my legal battles with the bureaucracy, hopefully again by the end of this calendar year.  Then it will be off to another adventure of my life in the Age of Oil, likely the Last Great Adventure.

It's been a blast though, and I was a very lucky individual to be born when I was, where I was and to who I was, along with the gifts given to me by God.  Regrets?  I have a few, but then again, to few to mention.  I did it MY WAY.

Collapse Step by Step, Part 4: Political Positions

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool August 6, 2017

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Adapting to energy decline and economic contraction.

 
Kincardine Yacht Club, Returning from Wednesday Night Race

In my last post I talked about some ways of expressing the nuances of political positions. I started out with the basic left-right spectrum and then moved on to the "Political Compass" , which gives us a two dimensional map of our position, using the left—right axis and the libertarian—authoritarian axis. But without too much sweat I was able to come up with four more axes that, along with those two, define what I think are the most important aspects of a political position.

There are probably more, but in this post I'd like to focus on how a government's position on each of those six axes might determine how successful it is likely to be in adapting to the challenges that face us during the next few decades. Challenges that it seems very likely will lead to the collapse of industrial civilization.

Acknowledge Limits <—> Deny Limits

We are already nicely into a crisis caused by the end of economic growth and the start of economic contraction. If you accept the idea that there are limits to growth, this is not surprising and can be attributed to a reduced amount of surplus energy due to the dwindling supply of high quality, easy to access (high EROEI) fossil fuels. The obvious solution is to prepare for and adapt to a significant decline in energy usage. Yes, we will adopt alternative sources of energy, but they are not capable of supplying us with the copious amounts of surplus energy that we became accustomed to in the twentieth century

Accepting the natural limits built into our finite planet also means accepting that we are using up the sinks that have been absorbing the pollution our civilization creates. In particular, that the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing the climate to change, and in the process making most of our other problems that much worse. Solving this problem will necessitate abandoning the use of fossil fuels, and with that a significant decline in energy usage.

If you are in denial about the limits to growth, then the current situation is probably quite puzzling and you will be casting about, looking for something (or someone) to blame things on and a way to get "business as usual" back on track. That's not going to work, but unfortunately it is likely to be the standard mode of operation for most governments in the immediate future.

In the long run, one would hope that intimate experience with limits will lead most of us to acknowledge them. But I suspect that, even then, there will still be a few enclaves hanging on where people can delude themselves that they are living the dream of progress, blissfully unfettered by any sort of limit.

Socially Inclusive <—> Socially Exclusive

At one end of this axis we have societies who feel a responsibility for the welfare of all their citizens, and to some extent all mankind and all of the other living things on this planet. They do what they can to provide for the poor as well as the rich, including an effort to limit inequality. It also includes a welcoming attitude to immigrants and refugees, and making an effort to be kind to the environment.

When the economy is contracting, the attempt is made to spread the pain around more or less evenly. There is no doubt in my mind that societies like this will do a much better job of coping with the declining circumstances in the years to come than those at the other end of this scale. There is much room for economic contraction in the lifestyles common in the developed nations, room for a lot of decline before we get to the point of not having enough to get by on.

At the other end of this axis we have societies where the rich and powerful make every effort to hang onto their wealth and power no matter what happens, with little or no concern for the poor or even the lower middle class, the bottom 80% economically speaking. As the economy continues to contract and even the rich begin to feel the squeeze, governments in these societies will become more forthright about their attitude toward the lower classes.

Every attempt will be made to replace labour with automation. Policies of "exterminism" will be applied to the poor, jobless and homeless. This term comes from Peter Frase's book Four Futures, and refers to simply getting rid of (exterminating) the "impoverished, economical superfluous rabble". I think it is pretty reasonable to expect a violent backlash from the lower classes in response to such policies. No doubt an attempt will be made to direct the dissatisfaction of the lower classes away from the upper classes using scapegoating and xenophobia, focused on one or more specific groups who are visibly different. In most of the developed world today, Muslims are shaping up to be one of the main targets.

It seems to me that U.S. is positioned at the exclusive end of this scale, with northern European social democracies at the inclusive end, and countries like Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand somewhere in between.

Fiscally Liberal <—> Fiscally Conservative

One hears fiscal conservatives complaining about "tax and spend liberals", implying that increasing taxes will have a negative effect on the economy. Fiscal liberals respond that the economy always performs worse under "borrow and spend conservatives". It seems that the two ends of this political spectrum have the opposite effects from what you might think. The policies usually followed by fiscal conservatives lead to deficits, while fiscal liberals manage to reduce or eliminate deficits.

The things is that when the economy was growing, deficit financing worked well. Government spending increased growth and helped pull the economy out of occasional recessions. And money borrowed one year could be repaid the next year using a smaller slice of a bigger pie. Government spending on infrastructure and social programs benefited everyone, so it was hard to argue with borrowing money to do it. This mode of operation was adopted by many western democracies after WW II, and it worked very well until 70s when economic growth began to falter. It stopped working altogether in the mid 90s when real economic growth came to a halt and was replaced by growing debt and financial bubbles.

Balancing a budget has two aspects: spending and revenue, and progressive taxation is the key to making revenue match spending. The idea that taxation has a negative effect on economic growth is self serving for businesses and the rich, but it doesn't stand up to a close examination.

There are countries at the liberal end of this spectrum where taxes are progressive and quite high. Things seem to be working quite well there—so well that even most of the rich folks who are paying those very high taxes are content with the system.

And of course there are countries like Canada who are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with moderately high taxes and government spending. Our budgets have even been balanced occasionally, though under Stephen Harper's Conservatives, taxes were lowered and deficits went back up. We hope our current government, under young Mr. Trudeau, will have better luck.

Sitting firmly at the conservative end of the spectrum we have the U.S. where taxes are low (and headed lower) and it is political suicide to discuss increasing them. Even poor working people seem to be against the very idea of taxation. I've asked Americans what's up with this and the best answer I've gotten, the one that comes closest to making sense, is that the American government is so corrupt that its citizens just aren't willing to trust it with their money. That may be so, but the American deficit keeps growing, despite numerous efforts to cut spending.

What can we expect to happen as the economy continues to contract? It seems to me that the U.S. deficit will grow until borrowing and printing money leads to a financial disaster that will greatly hasten the collapse of the country, hurting even those in the upper classes. More fiscally liberal countries will suffer less, managing a more graceful downward spiral.

At some point in this process, no matter how well managed, tax revenues will no longer support federal organizations like the UN, Europe, Canada or the US and decentralization will become a well established trend. It can be done the easy way, through negotiation and civilized agreements, or the hard way through secession and armed conflict. No doubt there will be some of both.

Communist <—> Capitalist

It is important to remember that this axis is about economics and not to get it confused with the types of government which are often associated communism or capitalism.

The totalitarian "communist" states of the twentieth century were actually practicing capitalism at the state level. And not very successfully. Most of those countries have since switched over to some more overt form of capitalism. At the same time, democracy has functioned best when restraining and regulating capitalism's excesses.

At the left end of this axis we have Communism. In the sense I am using here, it consists of the people in a group sharing resources and working together for their mutual benefit. The words "sharing", "work" and "benefit" give us the clue that we are talking about economics. Communism works well in small groups (up to 150 or 200 people) and was how we lived for all of our prehistory, more than two million years. And quite successfully, I might add.

At the right end of the axis we have Capitalism. It consists of a small minority of the people (the capitalists) in a group owning the resources and the rest of the people working for them to produce benefits that are enjoyed primarily by the capitalists.

The relationship between the capitalists and their workers may be outright slavery, serfdom or wage slavery. Outright slaves, who by no means have it easy, are at least provided with a minimum of food, clothing and shelter. Serfs in feudal cultures, don't have it easy either, but their lords do have certain obligations to them. Wage slaves, on the other hand, are provided only with a wage. Capitalist have no other responsibilities to them—in particular, when business is slow, capitalists are not responsible to provide jobs for all the workers who need them in order to live. And in modern capitalist societies there really isn't any other way to make a living.

This became particularly significant when we learned to convert heat energy into mechanical work and replace the muscle power of the workers with machinery. Initially, there was concern that many workers would be replaced by machinery and end up jobless. But workers were still needed to build, operate and maintain the machinery and for the last couple of centuries the economy grew fast enough to provide jobs for a growing work force and significantly increased their standard of living.

This is often pointed to as one of the great successes of capitalism, but it should actually be attributed to the increase in productivity made possible by the use of cheap, abundant fossil fuels. Indeed, capitalists did everything they could to improve their profits by reducing the amount of labour needed and the wages paid for that labour. It was only through unions and the support of left leaning democratic governments that labour made the gains it did.

Unfortunately, those days are over and with the slowing of economic growth, capitalists have been forced to try a number of strategies to maintain the viability of their businesses. And there has been a move to the right in many democratic governments which has helped with this.

Globalization, as long as shipping stays cheap, provides cheaper labour and a business environment with fewer safety and environmental regulations. Automation further reduces the number of workers required. And financialization offers a way of making profit by trading "virtual" commodities related to money, instead of real products. All this has been successful to some extent, but has worsened unemployment in the developed countries, and increased economic inequality between the working classes and the rich and powerful. This is a serious problem in consumer economies where the majority of consumers are also workers and need income to function adequately as consumers, in order to support the upper classes.

This and most of the other problems caused by capitalism occur when it is allowed to pursue short term profit (or shareholder value) to the exclusion of all else. As I said earlier, capitalism has worked best when governments have acted to restrain its excesses. Democracies have been particularly effective because with one vote per person the workers have more political power. But during the last few decades there has been a move to the right in most Western democracies and political parties, and power has slipped away from the workers and back to the capitalists.

It seems likely that this trend will continue, in an attempt to compensate for economic contraction. But it will not succeed in rescuing capitalism, which will collapse more quickly where it has the fewest restraints. Those of us with leftist leanings have always assumed that it would take action to end capitalism, but it's starting to appears that capitalism will collapse on its own, without there being anything ready to replace it.

Post collapse, with very much smaller and poorer states, and with capitalism already out of the way, and having acquired a bad reputation in the process, communities may be free to return to a more communistic approach.

Social Progressive <—> Social Conservative

The thing about this axis is that it changes over time as things that were progressive are gradually accepted and become the province of conservatives, while liberals move on to new horizons.

During the latter half of the twentieth century, in the developed world at least, social progressives won victories in gaining equal rights and freedoms for people of different races (particularly blacks in the U.S.) and different religions (particularly Jews, and at least in principle, Muslims), for women and for LGBT people. No doubt there are other similar battles to be won, but given the backlash we are seeing against the gains already made, it may not be time to move on just yet.

There are good reasons to think that society as a whole benefits when equal rights and freedoms are extended to those who have previously been excluded. That exclusion has resulted over the years in the failure to develop a great deal of human potential. Given the challenges we face currently and in the future, we simply cannot afford to do this. Excluding people for traits over which they have no control, which they did not choose, is surely unjust and it should not be necessary to explain why injustice is a bad thing.

Many people feel that as times get harder, socially conservative positions are more adaptive. I think just the opposite, but not surprisingly, that opinion is common among socially conservative kollapsniks, who see collapse as an opportunity to roll back social changes which they are not comfortable with, such as feminism, racial equality, religious freedom, and LGBT rights.

At the same time, I notice a trend for socially progressive people to hold a variety of anti-science positions. It is deeply shocking and abhorrent to me that they have bought into the wrong side of issues that are being pushed by people and companies for profit. The anti-vaccine movement lead by alternative medicine practitioners and the anti-genetic-engineering movement led by organic food producers and distributors are good examples of this, neither of which is supported in the least by the scientific consensus.

Libertarian <—> Authoritarian

It is important to be clear that this axis is about personal freedom, not economics. The libertarian movement and Libertarian political parties seem to be mainly about removing restrictions on the activities of business in order to get rich, with no concern for other people or the environment. I find that sort of activity abhorrent, and it is not the sense in which I mean libertarian at all. Anarchism might be a better term (anarchists being poor libertarians), but this term also has negative connotations for many people.

At any rate, we're talking about politics in Western democracies here, so what we are really looking at is variations in an area around the middle of this axis.

In order to make large countries like the one I live in work, the citizens must be willing to accept a social contract including the rule of law, taxation, regulation of business and the government's monopoly on violence. One receives all kinds of benefits in return, and in a representative democracy you even get to help choose the people who make up your government. This is fine unless the range of parties to choose from is so narrow that it really isn't a choice at all.

I suspect that our immediate future will no doubt see a move toward increasing authoritarianism in states that are nominally democracies. We are already seeing this in the U.S. Being a dictator may seem like a fine thing, until you are confronted with actually solving the sort of thorny problems that face many nations today. It's not as easy as it looks, and more resources are required to enforce this kind of rule than one where the citizens co-operate willingly.

I think the rise of the surveillance state is also something to be worried about. Fear is being used to manipulate public opinion so those in control can get more control. It's clearly a case of exchanging freedom for security, which always turns out to be a poor deal in the long run. The expense of watching over its citizens is something governments will be less able to afford as the economy continues to contract, but I suspect they will be eager to shoulder that expense and expand upon it.

In the long run, as a lack of surplus energy makes large states impractical, we may see a move in the other direction, to less authoritarianism and less surveillance.

And in conclusion…

I guess it's not too hard to tell, from what I've said so far, that I would pick a political party that acknowledges limits, and is inclusive, fiscally liberal, economically leftist, socially liberal but pro-science, and more libertarian than authoritarian. This combination of political positions would, in my opinion, give us the best chance of navigating the collapse of industrial civilization as gracefully as possible.

Unfortunately, due to the realities of modern politics there is no such party and most of the political positions I favour are unlikely to win any elections in the near future. The details of those realities and their consequences will be the subject of my next post.

This Week In Doom August 6, 2017


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 6, 2017

“Negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting."
 ― Donald J. Trump  


It's not a premise particularly new or unique, but I will say with some pride that I had it early.

What Donald Trump wants to do above all else is hold onto his base, meaning a roughly 35 per cent approval rating in public polls. No matter how bigly he or his surrogates want to describe his inauguration crowds or his popular vote victory, he is a minority president opposed by well more than half of the country. In that way, he will retain the loyalty of the Congressional "Freedom Causus" of libertarian-tinged free- market fundamentalists, and ride out any legal unpleasantness that may come his way.

Of all the things Trump may or may not be, Trump is most certainly a TV guy. He pays attention to Nielsen ratings, he knows how to promote, to capture attention with outrage, and how to play the media. He made his bones saying,"you're fired!" By now it's axiomatic that every time #TrumpRussia starts to heat up, the the Donald or someone on his staff will drop some fresh outrage in order to change the subject  with a 5 AM shitter tweet.

With Trump and his people, every day is a scrap to win the news cycle. Team Trump only cares about his controlling the daily narrative, and of late is failing badly. This week the Quinnipiac poll had Trump's overall approval rating at 33%. This is an all-time low, and factors in Scaramucci but does not account for other news items that broke later in the week, including Robert Mueller's Grand Jury announcement and the announcement of the subpoena of documents from the White House.

Not a good week for the Trumpkins.

The best article summarizing this miserable week was penned by notorious Republican Rick Wilson in the Daily Beast:

Even before this devastating news, if you wanted to pick a week where the Trump administration got its ass handed to it at virtually every turn, this would be it. At almost every moment in the news cycle, Team Trump was getting beaten like a rented mule. The fallout of the Anthony Scaramucci firing is barely cool to the touch, and already this week’s pile of steaming radioactive waste from this White House is hip-deep.

In the wake of the health care/tax cut bill foundering in the Senate, Trump tweeted his executive displeasure and insisted the solons frog march back to their chambers and get something done. This was met with a collective yawn as Senators prepped for August recess. And as a parting “fuck you” to the White House, they left the Senate technically in session to preclude an untimely recess appointment of, say, a pliant and unrecused attorney general who could spike Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump was forced into signing the bipartisan Russian sanctions bill. Passed by overwhelming, veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Trump was trapped like a Russian mink in a snare. 

Trump was even trolled on Twitter by Dmitry Medvedev for “total weakness.” In Russia, they murder their opponents and even supporters gone past their sell-by date. Where’s your spine, Donzo? The hits just keep on coming:

Another massive loss for Team Trump: the death of the cruel, phony attempt to frame Hillary Clinton and the Democrats for the murder of Seth Rich. Rich wasn’t killed by the Clintons, but Fox News and the White House were apparently delighted to torture his family. The accusations in a new lawsuit against Fox News and subsequent reporting over the withdrawn story of Seth Rich’s murder have already implicated outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer—who met with the investigator working on behalf of Trump superfan Ed Butowsky—but may reach Donald Trump himself.

As much as the blowhard-in-chief likes to proclaim any non-fawning story as “fake news,” here are allegations of some of the genuine article being made by hand in the West Wing. And apparently this wasn’t the first such manufacture:

“Donald Trump was also revealed to have personally written his namesake son’s deceptive and false statement about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians who came to New York to offer the Trump team compromising information on Hillary Clinton. You could almost hear the howls of laughter from the special prosecutor’s SCIF. “

And then there is the War on Leaks, led by the obsequious and eager to please AG Sessions, with rounds of investigation and recrimination.  Say nothing of the incipient White House Civil War between the Generals and the Alt Reich. COS Kelly ousted unfireable mystery man Ezra Cohen-Watnick, he of the handing raw intel to disgraced Congressional shitheel Devon Nunes. In response the Breitbart wing of the party has come gunning for McMasters. Grab the popcorn, but take the Generals and give the points.

And while on the subject of pointless efforts going nowhere, a promised trade bill and a promised bill to limit legal immigration will give true believers a little gristle, but will pass to a soundless and forgettable death in Congress. Although the immigration bill did provide us the Goebbels-esque spectacle of certified mole-person Stephen Miller referring to CNN's Jim Acosta as “cosmopolitan,” a term used by extremists to tag people suspected of extra-national allegiances or insufficient "assimilated" because of how they look, speak or live. (The history-challenged should read Charlie Pierce on the ignoble history of cosmopolitan-as-epithet here.)

But to return to Quinnipiac and the Holy Cause of winning the news cycle, at which Team Trump went winless last week. Rick Wilson again:

Increasing numbers of Americans say they believe Trump isn’t honest or capable. As his numbers pass some critical support thresholds, the magic of 2016 starts to morph into the fear of 2018 in the minds of many elected officials. The Great Distancing has begun. To top it all off, even Matt Drudge helpfully pointed out that Trump’s number is lower than Obama ever received.

So one wonders why Quinnipiac has Team Trump at 33 per cent when the normally less rabid Gallup poll had him at 38? It may be that the Congressional Rs have decided that Trump is unsalvageable, and are hoping to get away from a sinking Titanic before it can suck under their re-election hopes. Several weeks ago observers noted the creation of several million Twitter bots, an alt-Reich social media army ready to deploy at the twitch of a Mercer, the better to influence which stories "trend" on Twitter. Should Team Trump continue to sink, watch for the deployment of zombie-bots Making America Grate Again.

Let's end with the question posed by Charlie Pierce in his week-ending article:

What's the only thing worse than being the target of a grand jury called by Robert Mueller?

Being the target of two grand juries called by Robert Mueller!


This being about Doom, etc., here are some short pieces that may amuse while you're waiting for the latest methane hydrate explosion.

Is a Coup Inevitable?

 Yale historian Timothy Snyder, author of the new book "On Tyranny" says we may have one year left to save American democracy…

The fact that democracies usually fail is a rule which”… Americans believe…“can’t apply to us…Donald Trump will have his own version of Hitler’s Reichstag fire to expand his power and take full control of the government by declaring a state of emergency…In an authoritarian regime change, at the beginning the individual has a special kind of power because the authoritarian regime depends on a certain kind of consent. Which means that if you are conscious of the moment that you are in, you can find the ways not to express your consent and you can also find the little ways to be a barrier. If enough people do that, it really can make a difference — but again only at the beginning.


Aaahhhhpocalypse Now!: 10 Dark Visions Headed Your Way

For readers of The Doomstead Diner, Apocalyptic visions-R-Us. Alternet recently gathered some of the best—or  worst—apocalyptic thinking in one place. This list contains plenty of bad news on economic, planetary and political fronts, enough to satisfy the doomiest doomer. Here are 10 visions of the apocalypse—coming soon!


This Big Hole in the Sun is Not a Good Thing

And as we gear up for observing the total eclipse of the Sun on August 21, other heliocentric newz is not so good. The sky monster that will eat a hole in the sun on that date has a partner,

 a 75,000-mile-wide hole that’s big enough to be seen from Earth, big enough to be given a name (AR2665), and potentially big enough to produce ‘M-class’ solar flares which can knock out communications satellites, create radiation storms and cause electronic chaos. This is not a good thing.


And at week's end, some proof that yes, there is a God:

Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli is convicted of fraud

NEW YORK, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud by jurors in a U.S. court in Brooklyn on Friday, after a highly publicized, month long trial.

Federal prosecutors had accused the 34-year-old of defrauding investors in his hedge funds and stealing from his old drug company, Retrophin Inc, to pay them back.

Jurors found Shkreli guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy, on the fifth day of deliberations. 

Here's hoping the boys in Cellblock D are preparing Shkreli a special welcome.


We end this week secure in the knowledge that Robert Mueller has two grand juries working overtime on the Trump Family Grift kept afloat with laundered Russian oligarch cash, plus obstruction of justice, if not just overall being a dick. Suffice it to say that we are grateful to not have a phalanx of FBI gumshoes and mean-spirited prosecutors with a thirst for vengeance crawling all up in our bidness.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere, and was active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary and is the proud parent of a recent college graduate. He will have failed if not prominently featured on an enemies list compiled by the current administration.

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier 4

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 6, 2017

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I was going to do all 7 Days of the Last Great Frontier Boondocking Adventure in detail for every day, but I think after 3 days the techniques have been pretty well elucidated.  So I will tidy up this series with a recap of the last 4 days of the adventure.

Day 4– I determined not to spend ANY money, either on food or a campsite.  My choice for this day/night was the Mickey D's which is right across the street from the Wasilla Lake Park.  It was another beautiful day on the Last Great Frontier, and I spent most of it in the Park, scarfing up one of the nicer Picnic Tables for my Outdoor Diner Office and Command & Control Center.  My food for the afternoon was the last 1/3rd of the Subway Spicy Italian Hero I bought at the beginning of the week.  It was a little soggy by this point, you really should try to finish one of these in 2-3 days, not 4.  But it still tasted OK and didn't give me Tomane poisoning.

The park has a bare bones Toilet with no sink, just the Throne.  I used it once during the day.  Otherwise, the afternoon was spent surfing doom on the net, arguing on the Diner and writing for the most part.  Shooting a few pics as well.

One interesting thing was in the middle of the day a Food Truck providing FREE meals for kids showed up.  These charitable sources of food are a BIG help if you are Homeless living in a vehicle with a family to feed.  You can cut a lot out of your daily food budget on the SNAP Card if you use them.  Besides such food trucks, there are also Food Pantries around run by charitable organizations, where usually they give you 1 Food Box a week with size dependent on family size.  I volunteered at one of these in my neighborhood for a while, and the Single person food box was more than I could eat in a week by itself, forget using the SNAP Card if I was low enough income to qualify for one of those.  Choices of foods are not that great, but neither are the choices in the grocery store either for the most part.  If you really wanted to, you could actually hit more than one of these places in a week if you are mobile in a Stealth Van, simply by going to different towns in the area.  Don't do that though to scarf up more free food than you really need this way, leave the stuff for other people who need it more than you.

If you do supplement your weekly food supply this way, then what you do with your SNAP Card is buy long lasting foods like Rice, Dried Beans and Beef Jerky that store well with no refrigeration and keep them in your Storage Unit for hard times when the Food Pantries are out of Food and the Repugnants in CONgress cut or cancel the SNAP Card program.  You should always try to have at least 2-3 months of stored food of some type for temporary disruptions of JIT delivery in your neighborhood.

As dusk fell I headed over to the Alaska Club for a quick sauna & steam and exercised my legs on a couple of the machines.  Then I drove back to the Mickey D's to park for the night.  This McDonalds is 24/7, so there is always somebody parked in the lot and you don't stick out or get noticed unless you do it too often.  My storyline if I ever did get my door knocked on by the Gestapo or Mickey D's employees is that I was just tired after a long drive and catching a nap prior to going in for a McMuffin.  However, as of yet no knocks on the door.

The Mickey D's is great overnight parking because you get FREE Wi-Fi, which you can pick up from the parking lot.  You can increase the sensitivity if you get a USB Antenna for Wi-Fi, but I haven't found this necessary as of yet.  If you do buy one, they are only around $50.  You also of course can use their bathroom overnight if you get the Call of Nature.  Also great for this are 24/7 Convenience Stores & 24/7 Walmarts.  In Convenience Stores though they tend to notice you if you park in the lot too long because the lots are small, so are not good for overnighting.  Small lots are not good Boondocking locations.  You want to look for a Convenience Store that is next to some kind of strip mall to actually park in for the night.  Also scope out the lot you will park in beforehand to see how many carz stay there overnight, the more the better.

Once parked and on the Wi-Fi, I watched a few Music Videos since I wasn't worried about bandwidth, then hit the bunk for a good night's sleep.  Another day of Boondocking tomorrow.

Day 5–  I got up pretty early around 6AM and went into Mickey Ds to wash my face and wake up some, and then bought an Egg McMuffin for $3, not so much because I was hungry or wanted to eat one of these disgusting pieces of shit, more just as gratitude to the McDonald's Corporation for giving me a place to sleep overnight.  I determined to again do another FREE night of parking, this time 1/2 done at the local Hospital/Medical Center and the other half done at a Commuter Parking lot right nearby it.  The hospital has great services, it is open all night, super clean bathrooms and FREE Wi-Fi.  I could stay there all night, but I don't want to push my luck with the hospital and get noticed.  It's too good a parking spot to risk if I don't have to, and I don't.  I don't usually sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch anyhow, so moving parking spots in the middle of the night really isn't too much of a pain in the ass.  Security DOES patrol these parking lots, and staying under the radar is important for Stealth Boondocking.

As opposed to the Hospital, the Commuter Parking lot is as bare bones as you get.  No toilets, no picnic tables, no fire ring and you can't even set up your own stuff in the lot.  It's just park and sleep for the most part in such a lot.  At 2AM though when you arrive, there really isn't much to do anyhow besides sleep, and then you leave by 6AM.  If you do get the Call of Nature during this period, you excrete your waste into the bucket inside the Van without getting out.  I did not have such a call at this time on this night.

Day 6– Leaving the parking lot in the early morning of Day 6, I drove over to another FREE parking spot by the river to make breakfast, again a FREE spot.  Same big breakfast as before, 2 large Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Sausage and Homefries.  While consuming this meal and surfing the net over the 4G network, I decide what I will do with the day.  One task I haven't yet done is go to the Laundromat to do some wash.  I don't really have much wash to do at this point, just some underwear and socks mainly and normally for me when OTR wash day only came every 2 weeks or so.  However, this is a task you have to schedule in when you live OTR, so I felt I should do it at least once during the week.

The Laundromat I choose is in the same general strip mall parking lot that Kahladi Brothers Coffee and Safeway are in, both of which have FREE Wi-Fi.  The laundromat itself also has grid connected electric outlets as well of course, so I can drop a Batt onto one of them for charging while my wash is running.  I still do not really need to do this though, I have been driving around enough to keep everything charged up enough off the van alternator.  I go to another park to hang out for a while, then go over to Lowe's and Home Depot to do some window shopping for preps scooting around on one of their electric shopping carts for Cripples.  I love the hardware stores more than Walmart nowadays for Prep Window shopping.  I don't buy anything though, I just make notes on prices in my head for future purchases while the FRNs still work and the shelves are still stocked.

I have been on an Austerity Budget for the last day and decide to SPLURGE for dinner, and go over to my favorite Asian Cuisine restaraunt in the neighborhood, ordering a small Miso Soup (cheapest thing on the menu at $3) and a Scallops Batayaki appetizer at $10.  I am able to finish the Miso Soup, but only eat half the scallops, the other half go in the cooler for breakfast tomorrow.  I reloaded the cooler with new ice from Safeway earlier in the day.

For tonight's Boondocking, it's back to the FREE spot by the river and I entertain myself for the evening designing and drawing plans for a Geodesic Gazebo to add living space to SaVANnah for longer stays in bucolic locations OTR like the Grand Canyon or Lolo National Forest, site of my Pi-Fi Collapse Novel, How I Survived Collapse.  I make a few posts to the Diner and get back into a long running argument with one of the Diners who lives in the Tropical Rain Forest over whether you should kill or let live Pythons that are crawling about your property.  This remains a disputed question. lol.

Day 7–  This will be my Final Day Boondocking for this trial run.  I am going to finish off IN SPLENDOR, buying a For Pay campsite with electricity, water & sewer at a private campground for $40.  This is a HUGE expenditure and totally unnecessary, but I am doing it just to get some pics of how the "other half" of the Van Dwelling community lives, the RICH ones.  This is relative of course, they may not be rich compared to others of their age group, and they are usually Baby Boomers.  They are the ones who own the Big Ass Diesel Pushers that are the size of Tour Buses or monster 5th Wheel arrangements pulled by monster pickup trucks.  Or in some cases, they actually yank around Tiny Homes.  I have seen rigs being pulled by full blown Kenworths and Freightliners. lol.

I am a dwarf in this crowd of behemoths, and I don't need the sewer hookup at all since SaVANnah doesn't have a plumbing system.  The running water also unnecessary, and in this case the electricity unnecessary also since my batts are all topped off.  If I was actually OTR right now, I NEVER would have bought this campsite.  Total waste of money.  However, I will count it in to my expenses for this week anyway.

When you do buy such a campsite, besides all the hookups you do get other ammenties also.  There is a laundromat on site, so I could have used this laundry instead of the one I used the day before.  There are showers also, and down in the lower 48 such places will have Pools also for the kids to swim in, just like any fairly decent Bates Motel.  Ice making machine to fill your cooler too.  So you do get some value back for this expenditure, but for me it's all a waste of money.

I can never see pulling around a rig this size if you don't have at least 4 people in it.  They seriously limit places you can go because of the turning radius to begin with.  They also hit about ZERO on the stealth scale, and they are whopping good targets for thieves.  Why don't you advertize a little bigger how RICH you are?  Not to mention of course the fuel consumption of such a large rig.  The smaller the rig you can get away with for full-time living, the better.

https://saferide4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/travel-with-kids-rv.jpgWhich brings us round to the BIGGEST controversy this debate engendered on the Diner, which is whether or not you can live the Gypsy lifestyle with KIDS in tow.  Just about everyone agreed it is possible to Van Dwell as a Single Male, and perhaps even as a couple with the gender partner of your choice.  However, opinions were expressed it was IMPOSSIBLE to live this way if you have children, and/or nobody would do it unless absolutely forced to.  Are these postulates true?  IMHO, no they are not true.

https://www.boatsandoutboards.co.uk/upload/sailingyogafamilyfinal.pngFirst of all, Yachties choose this lifestyle on a reasonably regular basis, just they do it over water rather than over land.  A rig arrangement on land is really just a a land yacht.  If you have a family on a Yacht, you're NOT going to be able to get away with a 30 footer.  You're going to need something in the 45' range.  Similarly, on land you are NOT going to be able to bring kids along with just a Van or Pickup Truck/Camper, you're going to need a Trailer for that.

Increasing the size of your rig increases the cost, but of course raising kids always increases cost.  In this case, it still increases costs less than scaling up in McMansion size as you go along that trail.  It also decreases your ability to do Stealth, if you drop in at Mickey D's in the middle of the night with your 4 year old who needs to use the toilet, the staff will probably notice this and call the local Gestapo.  So you're going to have to stick to the FREE Public Use sites for the most part to stay under the radar.

You do have an advantage when working with a Partner, one of you can leave the Boondocking site and get some Gig Work for the day to cover your costs, which you are keeping rock bottom cheap.  You're living even cheaper than the folks who live in Trailer Parks do at this point.  Which of course means you are even below the level of "Trailer Trash" on the economic scale, and most people find being so identified as a mark of failure in their lives.  But is it really?  Again, IMHO, no it is not.

First of all, you are going to be spending a LOT more time out of doors experiencing the Nature we still have left.  Next, you are tons more FREE & MOBILE, to go wherever there is work you can find to support your lifestyle.  In contrast to living with other relatives, you have more independence and freedom from dealing with them.  You are making so little money that you have no TAXES to pay into the Military-Industrial-Complex. So you are making trade-offs here for sure, but it's not impossible and is just a matter of your priorities and whether you can put together enough money to get into a decent size rig for the number of people you are pulling OTR.

I lived a long time OTR, so this type of living is second nature to me, for most people it is not.  Certainly not impossible though, Gypsies have been doing it for centuries.  On land, today, it's going to require you to have enough MONEY to buy the gas to move the rig down the road from place to place.  This however is not a huge amount of money.  My final costs for the week of Boondocking came to $242.  My fuel cost came to $34.  I spent a lot more money than I had to on Premium Campsites, Premium Food and Restaraunts.  Even so, on a wage of just $10/hr, I could have afforded this week working just 25 hours serving up Frappucinos at Starbucks.  The cost for having kids along would not have been much greater, since I could get all the food for them for FREE from the SNAP Card and the Food Pantries.  All the For Pay campsites would have cost exactly the same.  I would just have a larger fuel cost pulling a trailer, perhaps 20-30% more the most depending on the length, weight and type of trailer.  So most this brings up the fuel cost is from $34 to maybe $50/week.

I don't want to try and make the case this form of living is for everyone.  It's not.  You have to have a Nomadic Soul to be happy with it, and you have to be comfortable living in small spaces, although you can creatively increase your living space, which I will be doing on I Spy Doom videos building a Geodesic Gazebo as an Add-On room for SaVANnah when parked for longer periods of Boondocking a given location. You also have to be an unconventional thinker, and not bought into the Matrix Meme of a Double Wide Trailer as your Dream Home.  Most people will buy into this, and become trapped by it.  That is sad, but you cannot help people who are trapped in this mindset.

Next up on the Boondocking Level is the trip down to the Lower 48 for THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼, which I will view from the PATH OF TOTALITY in Idaho in a Rental Stealth Van.  COMING SOON TO A LAPTOP NEAR YOU ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER.

Fake Newz Kills

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on July 19, 2017

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When Fake News Kill. Mata Hari, the Spy Who Never Was

 
 

 

One century after her death, Mata Hari remains for us the prototypical figure of the female spy. An extreme case of “femme fatale”; she is seen as someone who not only seduced men for her lust of money and power, but also for the greater lust of having them killed by the thousands on the battlefield. But she never was what she was said to be. Rather, she was one of the first victims of what we call today "fake news," also known as "propaganda", a set of techniques of mass manipulation being developed at that time and which today have reached near perfection. 

A hundred years ago, on July 24, 1917, Margaretha Gertruida Zelle, known as Mata Hari, was sentenced to death by a military court in Paris on the accusation of being a spy for the Germans. She was said to have passed to them information that caused the death of “maybe fifty thousand French soldiers.”. She was shot a few months later.

 
Today, looking back at the acts of the trial, we can easily see the absurdity and the inconsistency of the accusations. If there ever was an example of a court of Marsupials, that was it. There just was no way that Mata Hari could have done what she was accused to have done. She was, rather, a scapegoat killed in order to distract the public in a moment when the war was going badly for France. Put simply: she was framed. It was one of the first examples of the deadly effects of propaganda (also known today as "fake news) which, at that time, was just starting to become a common feature of our world.

 

The trial was the endpoint of a career of dancer and performer that Margaretha Zelle had started when she came back to Europe from Indonesia, at that time called the "Dutch Indies". She had spent just a few years there as the wife of a Dutch Officer but that was sufficient for her to pick up something of the local culture that allowed her to claim that she was Buddhist. She also learned enough of the local language to be able to choose  "Mata Hari" as her stage name, meaning (it seems) "The Light of Dawn". As a dancer, Mata Hari drew a lot of criticism at her times and it is likely that her dances were little more than strip teases with an Oriental flavor. Yet, she became very popular in Europe after she gave her first performance in Paris, in 1905.

As years went by, Mata Hari gradually gave up with stripping naked in public and she was said to have become a high-rank courtesan, seducing the rich and the famous (that, too, may be clouded by propaganda). During the war, she may have tried her hand at being also a secret agent, but it seems more likely that she was simply framed. In a certain way, the French and the German secret services collaborated in sending her to face the firing squad. The German saw her as a "propaganda point" to show how evil the French were in killing an innocent woman, while the French saw the trial as a way to show how tough they were against traitors (and traitoresses).

The trial and the detention of Mata Hari were a showcase of cruelty and intimidation. The last pictures we have of her show us no more the dancer that she used to be, but a woman physically destroyed by months of life in jail. After the execution, Mata Hari received also the ultimate insult, that of being denied a decent burial, of having her dead body dissected on a hospital table and having the pieces thrown away. They say that her mummified head was kept for some years in the museum of anatomy in Paris, before it was, too, thrown away and lost. She was denied the status of human being and considered rather as a sort of giant insect to be disposed of. The transformation of human beings into insects and their subsequent extermination is something that Kafka had already prophetically described in his story “the metamorphosis”.

In later times the anthropologist Roy Rappaport defined as “diabolical lies” those lies that “tamper with the very fabric of reality”. Today, we call those lies with the more neutral term of "fake news", as if they were just a fad that comes and goes. But fake news can kill and one of their victims was Mata Hari. The deadly mix of nationalism and propaganda that killed her was to continue and to explode in later years with the 2nd world war, leading Europe into the largest exterminations of innocent people that history has (so far) recorded. Mata Hari was among the first to be engulfed by this wave of senseless killing. She was killed in cold blood by people who were, most likely, perfectly aware that she was innocent.

 

It may well be that Mata Hari’s Oriental stance was not just a veneer to ennoble a little her strip teases, but it may also be that she had seriously studied Buddhism and other oriental ways while in the Dutch Indies. Her behavior at her execution, her calm, her evident belief that death was simply a passage, may tell us that her Buddhism was not just a pose but something that she had taken by heart. A hundred years later, we may still learn something from her story.

 

These notes are based mainly on the book by Rusell Warren Howe, "Mata-Hari. The true story". Editions de l'Archipel, Paris 2007, and on the near contemporary report by Emile Massard "Espionnes À Paris" (Gallimard, 1922), but there is lot of material on her story. Whereas earlier on there was still some discussion on whether she could really have been a spy, today the prevalent opinion is that she wasn't. 

 

I Told You Not to Worry About the Climate

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Published on The Daily Impact  June 20, 2017

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“This is the Captain speaking. First, let me make this absolutely clear: there is no reason to worry.”

On a mid-morning in May, the telephone rang in the modest home of the mayor of Tangier, a village of 470 people on tiny Tangier Island, 12 miles off the coast of Maryland in the Chesapeake Bay. It was the president of the United States calling. If you lived there, you would not know which to think more odd; that the president was calling James “Ooker” Eskridge, or that Ooker was in his house to take the call, on a fair-weather weekday, and not on the water crabbing (he had been warned the call was coming).

If you live anywhere else on the planet Earth, you will be hard put to decide which part of the ensuing conversation was the most strange.

The President had seen something on television, which is what stimulates his cumbersome thought processes. The piece on CNN documented the fact that Tangier Island was slowly but inevitably disappearing as the waters of the Bay responded to global climate change. In the mid-1800s, Tangier Island sprawled over 2,000 acres, and was home to watermelon farmers, dairymen and a variety of entrepreneurs other than watermen. By 1997, only 768 acres of land were left, 83 of them habitable. Today, the island is even smaller.

The island is losing ground because it is

  • sinking, in response to the retreat of the glaciers that until 10,000 years ago or so bore down on the crust of New England and bulged up the crust farther south;
  • being subjected to fiercer and more frequent storms;
  • beings immersed by water that is expanding because it is getting warmer every year, and that is being augments by melting glaciers and ice caps around the world. Geologists calculate that until around 1900, sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay rose at an average of three feet per thousand years, and have risen three feet in the one hundred years since. Tangier is now losing nine acres of land a year to erosion and rising tides.

All but the sinking are directly attributable to climate change, a consequence of human pollution. All of this has been known, confirmed and re-checked for many years now, so it is perhaps not surprising that a President who has not shown himself to be especially up-to-date on the problems of the real world would be moved, on learning of the island’s predicament, to reach out. To say what, one wonders. To offer sympathy? Or support? Federal aid for the inevitable migration of the inhabitants of the island to somewhere else?

None of the above. The president called the mayor to say, and I’m quoting here, “Don’t worry about it.” The island has been there for a long time, the President astutely observed, and he expressed his confidence that the island would still be there a long time from now. The mayor should not worry, but be happy.

So the water’s rising a hundred times faster than in previous millennia — don’t worry about it. So the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Tangier Island will be habitable for at most another 50 years, possibly as few as 20. Why would anyone worry?

But what is truly astonishing about this conversation — the part that is breath-stopping, jaw-dropping, vertigo-inducing, stupefying — is not the consummate ignorance of the President, with which we are all now familiar, but of the Mayor, who agrees with Trump that there is nothing to worry about because there is no such thing as climate change, and the consequent rising of the seas. “I’m out there on the water every day,” says Ooker, “and I don’t see it.”

Perhaps he marks the waterline on the outside of his boat every day, and seeing no change from day to day, has concluded that the water cannot be rising.   

By coincidence, in the same week Scientific American published a story about the struggle to save Deal Island, also in the Chesapeake Bay, from an identical onslaught by rising tides, a struggle complicated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Deal Island, just like those who live on Tangier Island — don’t believe in climate change.

It’s as if the captain of the Titanic had assembled the passengers, formed them up on the tilting deck, up to their asses in water on the silent, motionless, burbling ship and said, “Don’t you worry about a thing. This ship brought us here all the way from England and there’s no reason to think she won’t take us the rest of the way.”

Depressing enough. But what makes one truly suicidal is the way the passengers are cheering, and agreeing, and saying to each other, “That’s our kind of captain.”

I Spy Doom Vol 2 Issue 3: Improving Personal Heaters

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 26, 2017

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In our last episode of I Spy Doom, we looked at ways to make a very simple Personal Heater from just a Soup Can, a Rock and a source of heat like a Tea Light Candle or Can of Sterno.  In fact you can use about anything that you can burn as a source of heat in one of these things, from Twigs to Newzpaper.  It's not a huge source of heat, but in a very small space like a 2 man tent or a refrigerator box for the homeless, it will make a decent difference in the overall warmth of your shelter.  You can of course also use more than one of them at a time, just be sure you put it somewhere you are not going to knock it over.  A good way to do that is to hang it from the ridge line or roof of your shelter.  Cut holes in either side of the can and make a hanger from some piano wire.

Generally speaking, overnight while you sleep it's not a good practice to leave your heater burning while you sleep in a tent or cardboard refrigerator box.  It could get windy or a stray dog might come by and jostle the box, starting a fire which you would not be aware of until it was too late.  However, you shouldn't need a fire burning while you are sleeping, your sleeping bag and cold weather clothing should be enough to insulate you through the night, when you wake up you can start them up again and wait for them to take the chill out of the morning air before you crawl out of your bag.  After you extinguish the fire prior to sleeping also, you can take your last couple of Hot Rocks, wrap them in a towel and put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag.  That will keep you warm in even the coldest temperatures!

In today's episode, we're going to improve on our Soup Can/Rock Heater with another cheap addition, an insulator & reflector.  Staying as cheap as possible again to make this Homeless Affordable, we're using just cardboard, aluminum foil and duct tape.  This combination of materials is very useful in a wide variety of applications, and future episodes of I Spy Doom will feature other devices constructed in this way.  We'll also go on to show how they can be improved on with a slightly higher cost from hardware materials you can purchase at Home Depot or Lowe's.

Stay Warm in Collapse!  You don't want to end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska.

Maya Theater States

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Published on Peak Surfer on July 9, 2017

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"What generally occurs when a civilization over-extends is not a complete disappearance but a rapid decline in complexity."

 

Detroit: Theater Ruins
 The collapse of the Classic Maya period, around 900 CE, is an active academic field, with many conflicting theories and a mountain of literature. While traveling in the Yucatán we are reading Arthur Demarest’s Ancient Maya: the Rise and Fall of the Rainforest Civilization (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
 
One of the terms Demarest uses to describe the period is a “theater-state.” The ruling elite, known as the K’uhul Ajaw, or Holy Lords, were relatively hands-off with respect to economics, social welfare and trade but devoted lots of resources to legitimizing their political and religious authority through monumental architecture, art, pageant, sports spectacles and warfare.

 

 

 

This resource misallocation — taking away from the real needs of the populace, especially in times of stress — led to swelling the elite class, enormous diversions to unproductive types of labor, depredations from unnecessary wars, resentment from disenfranchised youth who were relegated to javelin–fodder, and, of course, ecological decay — as previously elegant eco-agriculture microsystems (using 400–500 species of plants) were consolidated into monocultures and overproduced.

 
A question Demarest probes is why, in so many areas, did not Mayan leaders respond with effective corrective measures for the stresses generated by internal and external pressures they could not have failed to notice. We generally think of complex societies as problem-solving machines, in which elaborate chains of central command and control “wire” a nation to meet its goals. Yet beginning around the Eighth Century, the Holy Lords were apparently away from the control room.
 
Demarest thinks the problem was structural. Since the elites of the most classic Maya kingdoms did not farm or manage production of goods, the “real” economy was decentralized to community or family. The role of the Holy Lords was to manage a “false” economy that was derivative, its only marginal utility being that it gave their Kingdoms some sort of patriotic zeal or sense of exceptionalism.
 
When these derivatives eventually began to unravel, the Holy Lords, like mechanics with a limited set of wrenches, did what they knew best — they intensified ritual activities, built taller and more ornate temples and expensive stages, props, and costumes, and scheduled more performance rituals, wars, and feasting. Contrary to earlier results, however, these measures only prolonged or intensified the problems, led to further disenchantment, which eventually brought about whatever cataclysm dethroned them.

 


 

 

Successive rounds of quantitative easing had diminishing returns. The “real” economy suffered a century-long drought punctuated by severe droughts in CE 810, 860 and 910. Even the “false” economy could not help but feel reality intrude.

 

 
Today the theater state is shown in high definition and 3-D, and it resembles in its own way the grand Berlin pageants of Albert Speer as much as the scenes from Apocalypto. Mad-Men have refined the manufacture of consent, to use Chomsky’s phrase, to a fine science, and as in Classic Maya times, military recruitment is viewed as a fortunate outlet for the unemployed.
 
However, a “classic” period, signifying the peak of empire and also a peak in energy, productivity, and population in most cases, is never sustainable, because it is inherently unbalanced.
 
Demarest’s insight here is that we tend to characterize every civilization in terms of “preclassic, classic, and postclassic,” but we might do better to think of it as “stable and expanding,” “unstable,” and “shrinking and reconsolidating.” Preclassic Maya agriculture was exceedingly diverse, with agroforestry, household garden plots, rotational field crops, chinampas and aquaponic systems, and perhaps also novel farming techniques we have yet to learn about. So was the postclassic. We have only just recently begun to appreciate that the “slash and burn” found in many parts of the tropics was once a highly productive and ecologically sustainable biochar amendment system when practiced in the ancient ways.
 
The Mayan preclassic food system was only marginally regional. While trade and tribute brought in salt, chocolate, hardwoods, hard stone, luxuries, textiles, and non-perishable goods, transportation of corn or other staples was largely prohibitive from an energy efficiency standpoint. Moving corn on the back of a man 25 km requires the consumption of 16% of the caloric value of the load. Transport from 100 km would have cost a third of the load in expended caloric energy. Demarest wrote, “Such high transport costs might have been maintained by a few Mayan cities at their peak, but more generally Mayan subsistence economies and markets were probably based on an area of about 20 to 30 km — a day of travel from the major center and its periodic markets.”
 
Joseph Tainter’s famous 1988 analysis of civilizational collapses argues that what generally occurs when a civilization over-extends is not a complete disappearance but a rapid decline in complexity. Axiomatically, it can be said that the instability experienced at the peak of a culture is a function of over-complexity.

 

Pablo Lopez Luz, Mexico City 2017

 

 

While this might be true of the Maya in some ways, in other respects that analysis fails to satisfy. While the theater state of the Holy Lords reached a peak complexity and then declined, a different type of state followed that increased in complexity over what had existed in the classic period. The end of the theater state led to the cessation of monumental architecture and the disappearance of high status exotic goods and ornaments, but good riddance.

 

 
At the same time, although at different times and speeds in different regions, there was a flowering and transformation to the new order. Extensive ecological, archaeological, and settlement pattern studies have found a resurgence of complex agricultural regimes that were well adapted to population levels with no indications of nutritional stress. When the curtains were drawn on the theater state, the health and welfare of the people improved. With the loss of simple monoculture and central authority and the diffusion of complex microfarming diversity and decentralized councils, the new order recaptured stability.
 
What followed in the postclassic period were a diffusion of distinctive new variants of the classic culture, with strange costumes, long hairstyles, experimentation with new legitimating ideologies, and unusual features in buildings, sculpture and ceramics (e.g.: ubiquitous serpents, brightly colored murals, and the psychedelic temple complex of Tulum).

 


 

 

The Maya that flourish in the Guatemalan highlands and Yucatán today are as populous and even more vigorous economically than during the classic theater state, but they do not generate anything like the art and architecture of their predecessors from 1000 years ago. They don’t need to.

 

Demarest observed,

For at least 6000 years, the hallmarks of the Western tradition have been linear concepts of time, monocultural agricultural systems, overproduction and exchange of surplus in full-market economies, technology-driven development, a long history of attempts to separate religious and political authority, and judgmental Gods concerned with individual, personal moral conduct. As we learn from the Maya, none of these traits is universal, none of them was characteristic of classic Maya civilization, and none of them is critical to the fluorescence of high civilization.

***

Too often scholars and the public viewed non-Western societies with an implicit, unconscious condescension. We tend to regard their political and economic systems as incomplete (“less evolved”) versions of our own. Ideology and cosmetology are viewed as detailed esoteric collections of ideas fascinating for scholarly study and public imagination. We also tend to emphasize aspects of ancient religion that attempted control of nature as “primitive science.” In so doing, we ignore the personal and philosophical challenges of experiencing another worldview — an alternative perspective on existence and death.

***

From an openly philosophical, subjective, and postmodern perspective of our society and its science, we are no wiser than the Maya priests and shamans in the face of these mysteries. For that reason we can study the ancient Maya, and other non-Western cultures, as sources of alternative views of reality and of contemplation of our own culturally ingrained worldviews. You can view the classic Maya as a less developed society trying to control the forces of nature and to survive economically. Or instead, they can be regarded as fellow travelers who simply chose a different path through the darkness.

The pre- and postclassic system of mimicking the diversity and dispersion of the forest allowed the Maya to maintain populations in the millions in the Yucatán for over 1500 years without destroying a rich but fragile tropical environment and biodiversity. They are still here — still engaged in that work. That offers hope for us all.
 
 
This is an update of an essay we wrote six years ago from the Fourth World Congress on Ecological Restoration in Mérida, México. It was published as part of the collection Pour Evian on Your Radishes in 2014.

Collapse Step by Step, Part 3: Political Compasses

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 1, 2017

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A couple of years ago I wrote a series of posts titled "A Political Fantasy", in which I talked about what might be accomplished if political realities weren't what they are and it was possible for governments to simply do what is needed to get us through the coming collapse and energy decline with as little grief as possible. I didn't think back then that many of the things I was suggesting were likely to happen and I still don't.

I've been promising to take a look at the other side of this and write about political realities for a while now. In my last post I talked about the likely end points of collapse. The rest of this series will be about how we'll get from here to there. Since politics is going to play a large part in that, this seems like a good time to address the subject.

First we'll talk about politics in the western democracies that I and (I suspect)my readers are ost familiar with. If you are a citizen of a western democracy, your view of politics is largely informed by mass media coverage of party politics in your country. This is significant as much for the issues they ignore as for the ones they focus on. If a political position is not supported by any of the mainstream parties and/or the media are not interested in it, then you'll never hear about it unless you do a lot of digging. These days, our political options are typically seen to be spread along just a single axis ranging from left to right, which is way too restrictive to represent the nuances of the real world.

The Political Compass

If you go to the Political Compass website, you can take a quiz that will attempt to locate your position along two political axes, left—right and totalitarian—libertarian. This results in a two dimensional map of politics, which is indeed capable of representing more subtleties than a single one dimensional axis. But it is, well, "two dimensional" and it omits some other axes which are also important aspects of modern politics.

The left vs. right axis is actually about economics, so we also need to consider a progressive versus conservative axis for social policy.

And even economic policy is too complex to be represented on a single axis. In addition to the spectrum that runs from communism to capitalism (left to right), there is also one that runs from fiscally liberal to fiscally conservative (concerning government spending and debt).

So, even if we are just talking about "business as usual" politics, I can see at least four dimensions that are significant. No doubt there are more. And having accepted that the limits to growth are real and collapse is a possibility, we can come up with a new political compass using a couple of new axes that are more relevant to those realities. It's vital to do this since, without it such a compass, we'll just spend our time working on symptoms without addressing the real underlying problem—like so many well meaning people today.

On one axis I would map the degree of our acceptance or denial of limits. This would run from Limits to Growth folks (like me) on one end to Cornucopians at the other end—people who refuse to admit that we will ever be limited by scarcity at all.

On the other axis I would map how we respond to limits when we inevitably run up against them, even if we don't acknowledge their existence. That response might go along several dimensions, but I'd recommend one that looks at a range from social inclusive to socially exclusive. That is, from people at one end of the axis who want to work together towards a mutual solution to people at the other end who want to save themselves and throw everyone else to the wolves.

But is all this drawing of charts anything more than just a diverting pastime?

I think so, but to understand my take on this we'll need to look at why we should be concerned with politics at all and then why it is vital to consider the limits to growth as part of our politics.

Here in North America there is a great deal of apathy toward the subject of politics. I suspect this is also true to at least some extent in Europe. Part of this is because people feel they are unlikely to have any influence in the political process. One vote counts for very little, but I'd counter that by saying that if enough people feel that way, then we are not talking about one vote, but millions.

Then there is the problem of finding a political party you can feel good about voting for. This is a problem, but remember—politicians like to be at the head of somebody elses parade. If an issue gains enough public support, the politicians will be eager to take credit for the idea.

Some will say that the way our system are set up, politicians are unlikely to fix anything and very likely to make things worse. I agree with that, but we need to do everything we can to minimize the harm they do, if nothing else. Some say that "voting just encourages them". I disagree. They get all the encouragement they need from lobbyists and those who contribute to their campaigns. It's the job of us voters to counteract that, since it is usually a push n the wrong direction.

In order to see if we should be adding the limits to growth to our political discussion, we need to know how those limits are and will continue to affect the world we live in. Our current economic, financial and political systems are based on growth fueled by copious quantities of easily accessible and high quality energy resources—primarily fossil fuels.

We've been able to have fossil fuels for little more than the cost of digging or pumping them out of the ground. That cost has been very low compared to the worth of the energy they provided. The productivity of the industries fueled by them grew dramatically, compared to industries powered by human or animal muscles alone. This is what is meant by the term "surplus energy"—the excess energy that is available for use once we've done whatever it takes to acquire the energy in the first place. A related term is "energy returned on energy invested", EROEI.

In the early twentieth century, when we first started using oil, its EROEI was around 100. But we picked the low hanging "fossil fuel fruit" first and what remains now is either of low quality or more difficult to access, with a much lower EROEI. It is estimated that to maintain a modern industrial society the overall average EROEI must be 15 or greater. The global average EROEI today is around 11.8 and falling.

The first effect of a dropping EROEI is the slowing of economic growth. This is a particular problem because of the way our banking and financial systems are set up to accommodate and encourage growth. New money is created via debt—banks lend out money that didn't previously exist and was created by the act of loaning it. Governments, businesses and individuals borrow this money on the assumption that the economy will continue to grow and they will be able to pay it back in better circumstances, with interest. In order for this to happen, of course, others must borrow more money so the interest on the first lot can be paid back along with the principle. And so on, as long as growth continues. When the economy stops growing, this system quits working. Individuals, businesses and even governments go bankrupt, people lose their jobs and so forth.

Governments have been diddling growth statistics to make things look better than they are for some time now, but in fact there has been very little real economic growth since the 1990s. Since then apparent growth has been financed by ever-growing debt and the inflation and subsequent bursting of various investment bubbles.

Meanwhile we've still been burning fossil fuels and adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and climate change is getting to the point where the problems it causes make our other problems that much worse.

Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of The Limits to Growth, talks about easy problems and hard ones. Easy problems are those where implementing the solution results in immediate and obvious change for the better as soon as you start to implement it. We are good at solving such problems. Hard problems are ones where implementing the solution actually makes things worse for quite a while before they start to get better. Or sometimes things don't get better at all, but the "solution" stops them from getting significantly worse. For the most part, we do a poor job of admitting that such problems even exist. Once they have been identified, we do an even worse job of addressing them.

So it seems fair to say that things aren't going well because of the limits we are encountering. We should be doing something about this. There seems to be good reason to believe that a solution which allows us to continue on as usual isn't possible, so we need to start adapting to the new conditions. And you would think governments should have a role to play in that.

This is where all these charts of political alternatives comes in—some of those alternatives would likely be much more effective in this situation than others. By knowing what they are, we are in a better position to choose the best of them than if we don't even know what alternatives exist.

In my next post I'll have a closer look at what the political alternatives are, and how well each of them is adapted to the challenges we face.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault: Seed Saving-Cum-Taxidermy (part 2/3)

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on July 26th, 2017

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With a bit of ice on the floor depositers could almost ride the seeds right on in
(photo by Global Crop Diversity Trust)

As odd as it sounds, I can't help but think that it's so ridiculously easy to point fingers at the short-sightedness of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault that not only is it also all-too-easy to label it as the "Vault of Doom", but that this can lead one to miss out on the much more dire issue of what the Vault represents in the present.

If we look at the Vault's layout, it turns out that the access tunnel from its main door was designed and built to slope downwards, a rather questionable idea when you think about the effects that gravity tends to have on permafrost and snow when they get above 0℃. Why in the world was the Svalbard Global Seed Vault designed in such a way? As put by Hege Njaa Aschim of the Norwegian government (owner of the Vault),

The construction was planned like that because it was practical as a way to go inside…

In other words, the vault was designed with depositing seeds in mind, not withdrawing them. I'm venturing into the land of absurdity again, because if you know anything about seed saving then you know that it is in fact extremely beneficial to keep seeds stored in complete darkness, although it's also just as true that black holes can be a tad too dark.

Silliness aside, one of the two primary issues regarding the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is that of in-situ seed saving versus not simply ex-situ seed saving but extreme-sport ex-situ seed saving. In-situ seed saving is the practice of constantly growing seeds out every year or every few years, a practice which regenerates the seeds before they die out.

Ex-situ seed saving on the other hand is the process of storing away seeds for extended periods of time, done so in cold, dark conditions so that the seeds go dormant. This approach (sometimes getting rather hi-tech and more energy-intensive with things like stainless-steel liquid-nitrogen storage vats) enables the life span of the seeds to be theoretically extended to decades, possibly even centuries, which is much longer than the handful of years many seeds generally last for.

That all being so, one big problem with the ex-situ method is that the seeds are not only frozen in space but also frozen in time. Because by having their evolution – their continual adaptation – halted, there's the very real possibility that a packet of seeds brought out of their 100-year or so dormancy will lack the characteristics – the genetic capabilities – to fend off a blight or some other scourge that appeared during their "hibernation". As a result, the seeds could be left with virtually no in-built defence and therefore have virtually zero chance for survival.

Conversely, in-situ seed saving is the embodiment of adaptation to place. Try growing out a bunch of seeds from the same packet but in two different locations – locations which would inherently have varying conditions – and what you'll eventually get is a branching lineage whereby the seeds attain different characteristics. This is due to the unique adaptations that occur thanks to the seeds' opportunity to adapt to their locales, not to mention the characteristics that each generation of seeds get selected for by their stewards.

So while one might say that the seeds saved in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are not only the epitome of ex-situ seed saving and the non-existence of adaptation (call it Globalized Seed Saving if you will), but one could also say that the Vault itself couldn't be a greater representation of the dismissal of place and adaptation. For as was explained by Arne Kristoffersen, a former Svalbard coal miner, most coal mines in the area weren't built like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault with their entrance tunnels sloping downwards, but with their entrance tunnels sloping upwards:

For me it is obvious to build an entrance tunnel upwards, so the water can run out. I am really surprised they made such a stupid construction.

Perhaps Kristoffersen has a flair for hyperbole to go along with what appears to be consternation for incompetence, for as he also put it,

[A]s it is today, the whole entrance will be filled up with water and this will freeze and it will be blocked after a few years, so it will not be possible to get into the seed vault. There will be a big iceberg in the tunnel.

Hyperbole aside, one might nonetheless think that the hard-earned knowledge and time-worn practices of the locals would have been given prime attention when designing and constructing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. But don't forget: this is ex-situ seed saving, something in which conditions of the place are specifically dismissed as something that needn't be taken into account. For although Kristoffersen was in fact involved in an initial planning meeting for the vault, he unfortunately wasn't a part of the following development of the plans.

Downwards the tunnel goes!

In effect, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is not only the ex-situ saving of seeds, but the ex-situ saving of seeds in an ex-situ structure. Because while ex-situ seed saving inherently ignores changing conditions of climate and other variables, the designers behind the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are either huge fans of the brilliance of the eminent architect Frank Lloyd Wright, or, and as mentioned in part 1, astoundingly failed to take into consideration – or at least take very seriously – changing conditions due to climate change.

With all these mishaps and dismissals in mind, I think one seriously has to wonder about not only the efficacy of such extreme-sport ex-situ seed saving, but also the motivations behind this globalized approach to the saving of seeds. Because from what I've read there seems to be some rather surreptitious reasoning behind the supposed need for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the first place, one example coming from a recent statement made by the lead partnership coordinator for the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Brian Lainoff. In what I can't help but see as, at best, another attempt at damage control, Lainoff recently stated that

Something as mundane as a poorly functioning freezer can ruin an entire collection, and the loss of a crop variety is as irreversible as the extinction of a dinosaur, animal or any form of life.

Let's put aside the fact that it was discovered on December 16th of 2014 that an electrical connection in the Vault's refrigeration unit had rusted away, got covered in chunks of ice, shut down the cooling system, that there was no back-up, that a technician had to fly in from nearly 1,000 km away the next day, that the part needed – sourced from Italy – wouldn't arrive until after Christmas, and that a temporary fix only managed to be put in place by borrowing a part off a freezer from a nearby supermarket.

Because if you didn't notice, it looks to me like there's a bit of sleight-of-hand that Lainoff is attempting to pull off by trying to equate a loss in a genebank to the complete extinction of a crop variety. This is, however, not what inherently happens at all. While genebanks do preserve the genetic material of such things as wild seeds meticulously gathered from the wild, they also serve as a backup for the seeds actively used by farmers and gardeners. That is, genebanks aren't simply "collections" of seeds for geneticists to work with but, like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, are backups themselves.

But if we take Lainoff at his surreptitious word, what might therefore be inferred is that seeds kept in genebanks are nothing but "collections", "collections" that if lost imply extinction. Moreover, since the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a backup to hundreds of genebanks, this would imply that it is but a "collection" of "collections". Meanwhile, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault's approach to the possible loss of these "collections" (extinction) is not to engender the dispersion of those "collections" amongst actual users of seeds who would provide a decentralized method of preservation, or to even engender a stronger network of backups between genebanks, but to make a centralized "collection" of "collections". Since the ultimate result of "collections" is "ruination" (as can be inferred by Lainoff's fearmongering), one could infer then that the purpose and destiny of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is to become the greatest one-off extinction event of the past 10,000 years. Because are we to believe that of the 1,700+ genebanks out there the only one that can't be decimated is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault? Might it not be even safer to have Elon Musk store a backup to the backup to the backups on Mars?


Can't say Lainoff doesn't have all the talking points down (photo by Global Crop Diversity Trust)

Because yes, disasters of all sorts have decimated, and will continue to decimate, collections of seeds held at genebanks. An earthquake pulverized Nicaragua's national seed bank in 1971, a hurricane flattened Honduras' national seed bank in 1998, a typhoon flooded a Filipino seed bank in 2006, and during the US-led invasion in 2003 it was the looting of Iraq's museums that garnered all the media's attention but the country's national seed bank that got destroyed. However, and using the latter case as an example, the most important seeds had previously been duplicated by Iraqi scientists and were stored away for safekeeping way over in another seed bank in Aleppo, Syria.

This idea then of backing up seeds held in genebanks is by no means a novel idea unique to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Furthermore, to think that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is safe from refrigeration problems (known to not be true), exempt from the ravages of climate change (also known to not be true), or impervious to the ravages of Miss Murphy (who's your ideal blind date?) is not only foolhardy, but megalomaniacal.

But lo and behold, if like me you thought Lainoff could get rather surreptitious, it appears to me that Fowler himself can get downright slimy. For as he stated himself two years ago,

It is out in the real world – that makes it vulnerable because you have typhoons, hurricanes, natural disasters and pests that come along. If you've got a crop, an heirloom variety, a traditional variety, somewhere in Africa, and you say, that's great, it's going to adapt to climate change – well, maybe not. If it doesn't have the right traits, your farmer is going to starve or go out of business long before that crop will naturally adapt through mutation.

Fowler's got a problem with… "the real world"?

Regardless, natural disasters certainly do happen. Moreover, it is absolutely correct that in-situ seed saving by no means inherently implies the adaptation of seeds to the vagaries of climate change. Nonetheless, how is it that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is supposed to ameliorate any of this? If seeds out in "the real world" aren't able to "naturally adapt through mutation", then what chance do seeds frozen away in stasis – which have zero opportunity for adaptation of any sort – have in comparison? And even if some seeds did exist in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault that could assist that oh-so-unfortunate starving-and-on-their-way-to-bankruptcy African farmer, and that such seeds could even be identified, and quickly enough, how are said seeds supposed to help said African farmer when seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are explicitly only allowed to be withdrawn by their depositors (genebanks)? On top of that, there isn't just one starving-and-on-their-way-to-bankruptcy African farmer but dozens, hundreds, thousands of them. Are they all going to get seeds from supplies withdrawn from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, sourced from a genebank which may very well be on a whole other continent?

In other words, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault provides no benefit or viable alternative to the condemnations that Fowler bestows upon in-situ seed saving, his words being more like framed arguments tossed forth in order to suit a particular point of view.

That being so, if it isn't necessarily seeds themselves and the stomachs that need them the most that Fowler and the Global Crop Diversity Trust are out to protect, then what exactly can the underlying motive of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault be?

We'll get to that in the final part of this series.

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier 3

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 30, 2017

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The early part of Day 3 of Boondocking wasn't a whole heck of a lot different than Days 1 & 2, another early trip to the Alaska Club followed by a trip to the Library to do some reading and surf the Doom-o-sphere on their FREE Wi-Fi.  I did dispense with the trip over to Kalahdi Brothers Coffee for one of their expensive Coffee Drinks to save a little money.  I have been spending pretty profligately here over the last couple of days.  I also am planning on spending $15 today on a For Pay campsite, which I really do not have to do but I wanna make some Videos for the I Spy Doom series and this location is a real good spot for making those vids.

http://cdn-tp1.mozu.com/17461-27355/cms/27355/files/a5d90bd6-9530-4375-8361-057286acd1c1?max=650&_mzcb=_1498847188140 I ate a real big breakfast for me of Sausage, Eggs and Homefries, so I am not at all hungry when the afternoon rolls around and really probably could go the whole rest of the day on just that meal, so the remaining 2/3rds of my Subway Spicy Italian Hoagie remains in the cooler for tomorrow.  However, on the drive over to the campground, I go by Matanuska Meats, where not only do they have a fabulous selection of commercially produced meats, they also will prepare any game meat you hunt down as well.  They'll do all the sausages and cut up into nice steaks and roasts as well.  Of course, you pay a price for that and by the time you add in the cost for the hunting trip, it's going to be quite a bit more expensive than just buying a commercial industrially farmed steak, even an organically raised one.  However, you generally can't buy Moose or Caribou off the shelf. Having professionals prepare the meat is far better than doing it yourself, both for the work load involved and the fact they do a far better job and have all the right equipment.

There are some REALLY SUCCULENT looking Aged T-Bone Steaks in the refrigerated display case, and while I KNOW I can't possibly finish one of them, since I am going to a for pay campsite I can do some open fire grilling at, I just HAVE to buy one to have for dinner.  So I go ahead and spend $13 on one of these gorgeous pieces of meat.  That and buying the campsite was all I spent for the day plus the fixed rent cost of $8.50, so all totalled up this was a $36.50 day.  I swear to myself that tomorrow I will not spend so much money!  However, even spending that much, if I had a job at Starbucks as a Barrista and was making just $10/hour, I could have paid for this day with just 4 hours of work serving up the Frappucinos and Espressos.

I arrive at the campsite and drop in at the office to pay for my site and get my parking ticket for the night to drop in my windshield.  I'm not Boondocking now, I have paid RENT for my little patch of the earth for the next 24 hours!  It is MINE, to do with as I please, as long as I obey the park rules anyhow.  Which overall are not too onerous for me, as I don't throw big parties with lots of loud music and I don't leave garbage all over the place.  The only rule which is an issue is NO ALCOHOL, so drinking beer in public in view of others is not such a good idea, although many if not most of the campers do it.  What fun is it to sit around a campfire and shoot the shit with your friends if you can't enjoy a nice Lager or IPA while you do it?  The rule is mostly not enforced, only if you get a real rowdy party going would they probably come down on you for it.  Despite that, I stay pretty stealth with this and mostly drink the occassional beer inside SaVANnah where nobody can see me doing this horrible thing.  I collect the empty cans inside SaVANnah and will dispose of them tomorrow at some dumpster not on this property.

http://www.peakwheels.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Specialized-Mountain-Bike-for-Kids.jpg Once parked, there is a decent amount of action ongoing with kids from other campsites running around and biking the trails, especially for mid-week.  This place is kind of a Paradise for kids, it's quite safe and there are tons of places for them to go exploring and they can even go swim in the river, although you should never let them do that without supervision.  Virtually none of the people here with kids are full time Van Dwellers of course, most of them just do it for a week or two at a time over the summer on vacations.  Some teachers who have the whole summer off will live the life for the whole 2-3 months though.  They go from one park to another, down to Kenai to fish for salmon and so forth.  Up here on the Last Great Frontier it gets a good deal more difficult to live this way around September or so when many places shut down, but it's not impossible.  In any event, when this time of year rolls around, it's time to drive the Al-Can and head for the Florida Keys!  Don't winter in Alaska if you don't have to!  Snowbird it!

If you do have to winter over in Alaska though, it's certainly possible to do it even in your Stealth Van.  Here it depends on your budget mainly in terms of how to do it.

http://kbelectricpa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/spaceheater.jpg As long as you have access to electricity, you can withstand about anything an Alaska winter can throw at you inside a Stealth Van, including temps as low as 30F Below Zero.  This because the volume you need to heat is so small and a typical Space Heater will do the job of warming it up in a jiffy!  Such space heaters come in at the whopping cost of around $50-100.

To be getting electricity completely legal though, you're going to have to buy a campsite that stays open through the winter and pay their monthly fee for the worst months of this, Dec-Feb.  Before and after this you can always get away with other forms of heating not requiring electricity.  You could in fact use other forms of heating even in the worst months, but it would be a bit of a pain in the ass.  I certainly have never tried it, but I think I could make it through as long as I had enough kerosene (maybe 15 gallons, according to my friend Van Dweller who has lived this way for 50 years and spent a few of them in Alaska) or enough wood to burn.  So in your Storage Unit, good idea to keep 15 gallons of Kero in there for the winter that comes when the Lights Go Out and nobody has electricity at all.  You will at least get one more winter to watch the SUN☼ rise before you freeze to death in your Stealth Van.

The thing about buying one of these campsites that both stays open AND provides electricity is you will have to pay around $200/week for it.  For this price, I can rent an off-season Cabin rental for the same price!  So on my budget, I would simply add in the cost of buying a cabin for Dec-Feb and living in splendor and comfort for those three months while the Winter Winds whistle outside the cabin door and I have the wood burning stove fired up with plenty of Wood Pellets purchased at Home Depot.  At least until TSHTF of course.  So this does drop $2500 or so onto my yearly rent bill doing this every year.

Snowbirding it and driving SaVANnah down to the Florida Keys or the Baja Peninsula to over-winter, I would likely spend a similar amount of energy.  Instead of the kero or electricity to heat the van, I would need to buy gas to move it across the Al-Can and then down to southern latitudes.  I think it would be slightly cheaper to do it this way, depends on the relative prices for the energy and the rent.  Going south, you could Boondock a lot more and thus avoid paying rent.  No way to calculate this unless you actually did it over a couple of seasons at least, which I have no intention of doing.  That experiment would take at least 4 years to run, spending 2 up here through the winter and then 2 more Snowbirding to the lower 48.  I would need to keep meticulous records of all expenses to make a comparison.  I'm not going to do that.

Back to present day circumstances however, after picking up the Steak at Matanuska Meats I head over to the campgrounds and set up camp, very Spartan this time as the weather is very good with no chance of rain so even the Big Brolly does not get deployed.  The Outdoor Office and Command Center for the Diner is set up on the Picnic Table inside of 5 minutes, complete with electricity for the day.  Nothing else really needs to be done in terms of setup besides getting ready to COOK!

I have my choices on ways to cook my Juicy and Thick T-Bone steak.  I could sautee it with some garlic, mushrooms, peppers and onions in a pan over my propane stove right on the picnic table while Admining the Diner, but that would be a waste of a great cut of meat like this!  There is NO SUBSTITUTE for grilling meat over an open fire!  Here also I have choices.  The EZ choice is to just use Propane in my portable propane Coleman Grill or a little less EZ Charcoal Briquets in my Cast Iron Lodge Logic Hibachi.  For this occassion though, I choose the toughest of the choices possible, I am going to cook my steak over an Open fire on the Camp Fire Ring with WOOD!

Now, I am not suited to going out into the woods to collect a bunch of wood for this and split it anymore, so instead I go up to the office and get a pile of firewood for FREE sufficient to make a decent Bonfire, which will last for hours to do a lot of heating and cooking tasks.  Normally said pile of wood would cost you around $5, but I know the camp host and for odd shaped pieces he gives them away free.  My objective is not to make it huge however, just to make it right for cooking on.  This means first getting the fire lit and going, then letting it burn down until you have a pile of hot coals burning about the right temp to cook your steak how you like it.  I like mine "Pittsburgh Rare", which means burned on the outside and still Mooing on the inside.

Prior to getting the fire going, I do a dry rub on the steak of a few spices I have in the larder, including Garlic Powder, Coriander and McCormick "Old Monterrey" spicing, and sprinkle on some fresh ground pepper and sea salt as well and let it sit and absorb them for an hour before cooking.  Once that is done and I have checked for new comments on the Diner, it's time to MAKE A FIRE!

http://media.safebee.com/assets/images/2015/5/beach-bonfire.jpg Now, on a lot of Prepper Websites they make a real big deal out of making a fire from primitive means, going down as far as spinning a fire drill between your hands.  I never mastered that one.  Then there are bow drills, fire pistons and flint and steel too!  Or if you have a sunny day you could use a Magnifying Glass.  There are any number of ways to make a fire.  I don't bog down in this sort of shit.  For my forseeable future, I will have the essentials of fire making available, a Bic Lighter and some Lighter Fluid, Kerosene or Gasoline.  Amazing how fast you can get a nice Bonfire going with a Bic & Kero! lol. "Tinder?  We don't NEED no fucking Tinder!" Try not to torch yourself or start a forest fire though when you do it.  Lighter Fluid is safer than Kero or Gas, it has a lower vapor pressure and doesn't light up as fast.  I will have upcoming I Spy Doom videos on making a fire and outdoor grilling.

At the beginning of course when you light it up, this is a TOTALLY unsuitable fire for cooking, and grilling in paticular.  Way too hot at the grill surface, even for Pittsburgh Rare.  You gott wait until the fire burns down some and you get some coals for more even heat distribution.  Usually takes about a half hour if the wood is dry.  You feed in a little wood at a time until you have the heat hitting the grill around a temp you can't put your hand above it for more than a second or so, and this is about right for fast cooking Pittsburgh Rare.  If you like a more medium level and not so blackened on the outside, then either wait a bit or raise your grill surface higher above the the heat.

Once you have your cooking heat adjusted, the next issue is the cooking surface.  Do NOT use the grate provided in a public camground as your cooking surface, and not because it might have Germs on it.  Those have all been sterilized by heat, in fact not just sterilized but incinerated.  It's because these grates are just grossly too large, and stuff will fall into the fire below, even big ass hamburgers you patty up.  If you work with a big enough steak you are pretty safe, but even here I prefer to use an add on like a BBQ basket for the steak.  Makes it simple to flip, and EZ cleanup too.

https://jehingr.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/campfire-hot-dog.jpg For open fire grilling in other forms of meat, you don't need to use a grill at all, sometimes big Forks or Spears work better.  Hot dogs are done easily on a spear, Bratwurst or Italian Sausage also.  You can buy commercial industrially produced ones, or just make one out of a skinny tree branch.

All the rest of open fire cooking besides meat should be done with some surface between the food to be cooked and the fire below.  I will go over that in a future post or video on outdoor cooking, along with demonstrating the techniques on the I Spy Doom videos that I publish in the middle of the week to supplement this series.

Once your cooking and eating tasks are done for the day and you are esconced at a nice campsite, there's not a whole lot to worry about.  You're in a FOR PAY site and have the RIGHT to be there (paid to Da Goobermint), which the little ticket you post in your windshield says.  The local Gestapo do NOT patrol these places.  Actually even the camp host (old retired guys who stay all summer for free and collect parking fees) doesn't patrol them at night, so if you drive in after midnight and leave by around 6AM, you can park it for free.  I do this on the up and up though and pay my $15 when I stay overnight.  Once you start paying, this is not true Boondocking of course, but it is Semi-Boondocking as long as the cost for the nightly fee is less than what you would pay to rent a monthly apartment space in the neighborhood.  So if rents in the area are going for say $900/mo, that is $30/day.  If you can buy a campsite for $15/day, you are 50% Boondocking.  If you only take such For Pay site every other night, then you are up to 75% Boondocking.  For myself going out OTR. I would probably be in the 50% range for Boondocking most of the time. 4 nights in FREE spots, 2 nights in For Pay campsites and 1 night in a Bates Motel room to charge up all my batts and do my laundry, etc.  Assuming the campsites come in at $15/night and the Bates Motel room comes in at $60/night these days, that is $90/week or around $360/mo, approximately half my current rent.  If the budget demanded it, I could cut the Bates Motel room to once every second week.  There is a lot of flexibility here with this style of living.

http://www.overdriveonline.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2013/01/TruckerTim0095-sleeper-sleep.jpg Rent is the NUMERO UNO fixed cost for the Min Wage Worker or an old guy living on Social Security. At Min Wage, Rent in most places is at least 50% of your fixed costs for living. If you can cut your rent down to 1/2 or 1/4 what it costs for a "normal" living arrangement, you can start to save some money.  The main reason I saved money during my trucking years OTR was not because I made so much money, although the income was pretty good prior to 9-11.  The reason was because I had no RENT!  I wasn't paying money to some Scumbag Rentier who owned properties he was renting out to poor people.  I lived basically free in my Freightliner.  Because that was a Bizness, all the fuel was tax deductible too!  In a Van or other rig arrangement not done as a bizness that is not true, but really your fuel costs are not that much right now to do it, maybe $4/day is my estimate, I'll see at the end of the week how much I spent on fuel.  Looks like around $30 right now. If/when the fuel costs go up, this price won't be accurate.  If/when the fuel becomes unavailable, the lifestyle won't be possible at all.  But that is not true RIGHT NOW.  So for today, I go OTR one more day, and enjoy a little bit of nature before it is gone at the End of the Age of Oil.

See you next week for Part 4 of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier, and WATCH YOUR MIRRORS!

Mismodelling Human Beings

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Published on Credo Economics on July 21, 2017

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“rational economic men” in love, politics and everyday life

This chapter explores the assumptions about human nature on which mainstream economics is based. The description of “rational economic man” ignores most psychological and psychotherapy understandings of people.

Key to the conceptual confidence trick are assumptions about what people in general are like. It is all based on an implicit modelling of human beings. Certain types of behaviour (the type that allows economists to model people and markets) are called “rational”. Now, you might think that this description of people is meant by economists to be applicable only to economic and market activities. Certainly this was the point of view of one of the founders of the famous Chicago school of economics, Frank Knight. Although committed to the alleged virtues of the market, Knight was not naive about how far you could take economic analysis. In his book Risk, Uncertainty and Profit he concluded that economics only applied to the satisfaction of wants, and that this business of satisfying wants by no means accounted for all of human activity. Indeed Knight questioned how far one could go with a “scienti c treatment” of human activity and wrote of his own views:

In his views on this subject the writer is very much an irrationalist. In his view the whole interpretation of life as activity directed towards securing anything considered as really wanted, is highly artificial and unreal. (Backhouse, 2002, p. 204)

Some contemporary economists of the Chicago school don’t see it this way. If people are calculating their individual self interest in their economic dealings why should one assume that they do not do the same thing in their political, their social and their interpersonal dealings? Should we not also assume that government ocials are calculating their interests too? At the very least, why should contact between business and government not lead to a cosy relationship, particularly if people can leave government posts and get lucrative jobs with industry? What about bribes and kickbacks from business for special favours?

As I argued earlier, we can take the idea from Anaïs Nin that we do not see things as they are – we see things as we are. There is likely to be a loop in which a theory which describes how people are assumed to be, when powerfully propagated in textbooks as “social science”, will have an influence on how people behave. With economics we have a theory which argues that if people just look after their own interest that’s OK because “an invisible hand” described by wizard intellectuals delivers an approximation to an optimal allocation of resources. Under the influence of a view like this, concern about what is in a wider interest is not likely to blossom. It is unlikely to figure as a motivation or concern. As individualists people will look no further than themselves. They do not need to look further than themselves because the “invisible hand” will do the rest.

It is quite logical to believe that if people are actually like this then their attitude to the community and to the state will be framed in the same terms. Such people, customers of the state, rather than citizens and members of communities, will then have an interest in getting the best deal from the state to pursue their own individual agendas.

the context of Keynesian economics

When I studied economics at the end of the 1960s, the textbooks, for example by Paul A Samuelson, pictured a world where the state was essentially benevolent and independent from business. A democratic process determined what policies the state would adopt and economists were the technical advisers making clear what the policy options were. There was an implied idea that governments, politicians and public offcials would regulate markets without being contaminated by the self-interest motivation of those markets. The idea that the state could be captured by business interests while the majority of the people were effectively excluded from real influence was not expressed in the textbooks.

At that time, at the end of the 1960s, experience of the depression and then of the war had left an effect on public consciousness, including the consciousness of the elite itself – and it left its mark on economics. Fighting the war had been a massive common project which was collectively transforming. The values of British people shifted as a result of the equalising effect of the Second World War – rationing, conscription, the abolition of first class carriages in trains, evacuation and sharing bomb shelters. Military outlays as a per cent of national income in the UK went from 15% of national income in 1939 to 44% in 1940 to 53% in 1941 and as high as 55% in 1943. (Harrison (ed), 1998) After the war, the sense of what could be done when people worked together and decided what was a priority was quite different and there was a collective rejection of the idea of returning to the politics and economics of the 1930s. (Addison, 1975)

This was the context in which the welfare state and Keynesian economics was adopted. The allocation of resources mobilised for, and by, the state was something that a majority of ordinary people believed in. The mood was little different in the United States too, albeit that the US, having won the war, went straight into the cold war, involvement in Korea and the anti-communist hysteria of McCarthyism. Nevertheless there was a different context for textbooks like that of Paul Samuelson.

But by the late 1960s things were beginning to change again. Young people like myself took the welfare state for granted and chafed under the authoritarian paternalism of the elite. These conditions created the basis for a valid questioning of the disinterestedness of the state and its o cials. This idea evolved into “the new left ” but also towards the political right. A very different analysis to that of Samuelson in regard to the relationship between business and the state took hold in economics.

the rise of the chicago school

The idea that the state could be, and was captured by interest groups was valid. The hostility to the communist planned economy, the personal libertarianism born in cynicism about the paternalism and corruption of officials, as well as by backlashes against politicians, officials and the state, led to the growth of fervent market fundamentalism spearheaded by economists at Chicago University. Their ideal was to go all the way and for the state to be driven out of market activity to the maximum extent possible.

Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger welcome the boys to class at the Chicago school of Economics. https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/4396155916/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger welcome the boys to class at the chicago school of Economics.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/4396155916/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

To a new generation of Chicago economists, the rational utility calculating individual was a description that could be applied to the understanding of all human behaviour, not just that in the market place.

For example, to Gary Becker at Chicago, racism is a preference choice of who you want to live near and who an employer might want to employ. Note, Becker did not see himself as endorsing or condemning – he merely saw himself explaining and drawing out the consequences.

The model of “rational economic behaviour” was used by Becker and another theorist, Richard Posner, to explain “love”, marriage and prostitution in a utilitarian framework. Marriage is a relationship involving “reciprocal service provision” which saves on the transaction costs like pricing each “service” that a couple provide for each other, as in removing the need to keep accounts for these services. In this way of thinking prostitution is, by contrast, thought of as a “spot” sexual transaction where it is “more efficient” to pay for the service in money.

The same approach is used by Becker to explain crime. Most people don’t steal because it would not be profitable but in the life circumstances of criminals, the rational maximisation of costs and bene ts of crime does make it pay. This is another form of the redistribution of income in the same broad category as government welfare programmes. (Nelson R. H., 2001, pp. 166-189)

The trouble with this view is that it is at best tautologically true in a sense that is banal. People do things because they want to and thus, they must get satisfaction or utility from doing and deciding what they do. However, it makes little sense of the many actions taken by people where they are con icted; where they act in ways that involve self-sacrifice for moral reasons; where there is genuine anguish about their difficult decisions and where they do things because they think they ought to, not because it gives them any satisfaction at all. They act altruistically, get depressed, act out of compassion, and do crazy things. None of these fit into the model.

a faulty view of humanity

As Kalle Lasn puts it, in the book Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics “Neoclassical economics has achieved its coherence as a science by amputating most of human nature.” (Lasn, 2012)

This amputation is done on the assumption that unless some internal measure of happiness or freedom from pain – utility – acts as a common yardstick, it is not possible for human beings to evaluate between options and make their choices. However, as philosopher Alan Holland points out:

Happiness is not a homogenous item, but a mosaic of heterogeneous elements. There is just no common substance – no utility – by which to compare, for example, the suffering experienced by an experimental animal with the understanding gained by the experiment. Nor is this a point about moral reasons only but about reasons generally. The determined egoist, confronting a chocolate bar that will ruin his or her waistline, will soon find that he or she has to decide between vanity and greed, and will just as surely fail to find an appropriate value in terms of which to compare the alternatives. Self-interest is not such a value as it is as heterogeneous an objective as happiness. (Holland, 2002, p. 27)

As the example of Britain after World War II shows, values shift according to social, economic and political conditions. This alone makes nonsense of the idea that people are driven by personal utility calculations in the manner described by neoclassical economists.

Rather, psychologists have looked at what motivates people all around the world in different cultures and have come up with a more complex picture. Decades of research and hundreds of cross-cultural studies have identified consistently occurring human values which can be grouped into ten broad categories: universalism, benevolence, tradition, conformity, security, power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation and self-direction. (PIRC, 2011, pp. 12-20)

Each of us is motivated by all 10 of the value categories, albeit to varying degrees – and the ten groups of values can be divided along two major axes:

1. Self-enhancement (based on the pursuit of personal status and success) as opposed to self-transcendence (generally concerned with the well-being of others)
2. Openness to change (centred on independence and readiness for change) as opposed to conservation values (not referring to environmental or nature conservation, but to “order, self- restriction, preservation of the past and resistance to change”) (PIRC, 2011, p. 17)

Mainstream economists have identified a part of what motivates people but mislead because they have too narrow a view. The values that economists describe as motivating people are best described as “extrinsic”. Values that are centred on external approval and rewards e.g. wealth, material success, concern about image, social status, prestige, social power and authority. However, people are motivated by intrinsic motivations too. One of the themes of this book is to show that we get a clearer picture of reality when we describe actions and economic consequences arising from different starting motivations – some of which are anti-social and some of which are pro-social.

Q is for Quotidian Fluctuations in a Teacup

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on June 12,  2017

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Here in the UK, things have been a little weird over the past week. People have red rings around their eyes and they get angry at the slightest provocation. You may have heard that there was an election, and that the result was somewhat unexpected and confusing. You may have seen some news about it and experienced a fleeting sense of bewilderment, wondering whether it was relevant in any way to your own life. And then, deciding that it wasn't, you will have instantly forgotten about it. But if you're even a wee bit curious as to what is afoot, here is an explainer of sorts. I will summarise the election twice. The first summary will be incredibly brief. In fact, it will be one sentence. Should your curiosity be piqued, the second summary will be a bit more in depth.

Summary 1

Nobody is in control and the politicians are running around like headless chickens emitting a strange gurgling squawk from their neck holes as they hold up banners saying 'Situation Normal – please carry on shopping'.

Summary 2

Okay, take a deep breath and get ready to shake your head slowly from side to side whilst quietly muttering "And these people once ran a whole empire?" For clarity and understanding I shall proceed in bullet point format.

 

  • So, the prime minister, Theresa May — a vicar's daughter who was never elected to lead the country and only promoted to the position after David Cameron resigned following the Brexit vote — called a snap election a little over a month ago.
  • The prevailing logic was that her party, the Conservatives (Tories), would prevail in a landslide, thus cementing her authority and enabling her to follow through on some of her most favoured pledges, such as breaking up with the European Union (which, ironically, she was opposed to in the vote), bringing back grammar schools, taxing people with dementia so that their homes can be stolen, and re-legalising fox hunting for the 1-percenter chums of her investment banker husband.
  • Political analysts boldly stated the Tories would win a landslide because May's only viable opponent, Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the opposition Labour Party), was completely unelectable, despite being very popular with the non-elite.
  • Corbyn, it was said, was 'completely unelectable' because he was a bearded socialist who rode a bicycle to work and spent his down time growing organic vegetables rather than chasing foxes with dogs and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. In short, he was 'crazy'.
  • Much was made of a statement he made when he said he wouldn't want to start a nuclear war and kill millions of people, which was seen as hopelessly idealistic and weak. What a loser!
  • And the fact that he once spoke with representatives of the IRA (remember them? The Irish Republican Army) to try and get a peace deal. Clearly a friend of terror!
  • A smear campaign was launched by the media, with just about every publication, including so-called progressive outlets, such as The Guardian and the BBC, saying he was not fit for office.
  • Pollsters predicted that the Labour Party would be wiped out — possibly for generations — and we would enjoy a prosperous future governed by the Tories, whose main objective was to privatise everything and share out the spoils among the top 1%.
  • But not everyone loved the Tories. In fact, anyone not under the spell of the media smear campaigns, or under 60, hated them. With bells on.
  • They hated them so much that some of the other progressive parties, such as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, even bowed down and told their supporters to vote for Labour.
  • This made some of their supporters angry. They didn't like the idea of tactical voting. "It will end in tears," they opined.
  • But young people were quite keen on the idea of getting rid of the Tories and electing Jeremy Corbyn. He had promised them a long list of things, such as abolishing tuition fees for students,   halting austerity programmes and taxing the rich more to pay for public services. Oh, and he was not going to privatise the National Health Service, which the Tories wanted to do.
  • Fighting between the two sides was bitter and acrimonious. The media stooped low, very low.
  • And it began to work. People started to call Jeremy Corbyn 'the terrorists' friend', Jezbollah and Red Jezza.
  • As all this squabbling was going on a young Islamic fanatic walked into a pop concert in Manchester filled with teenage girls and children and detonated a suicide bomb, killing 22 innocents.
  • Everyone went quiet for a few days until Theresa May popped up again saying she was the only one who could be trusted to keep Britain safe from terrorists.
  • But then people with a memory longer than the average goldfish remembered that in her previous role she had axed 20,000 police officers as part of an austerity drive. The police themselves said that would probably have caught the terrorist if they hadn't been so underfunded and resourced.
  • Some of the right wing newspapers began to turn on Theresa May, although they made it clear that the still hated Jeremy Corbyn even more because he 'supports terrorism' and doesn't like war.
  • Theresa May, who enjoyed war and said she would be more than happy to nuke entire nations, tried to fight back. But there was a problem. All she could say was "I am strong and stable" over and over, like a robot that had been programmed by a 10-year-old using BASIC and was stuck in a recurring logic loop. People began to call her the 'Maybot'.
  • She came across very badly in media appearances and decided not to turn up to a televised debate for party leaders, which looked bad.
  • Then, for some reason known only to her and her team of advisors, she stated that she was going to confiscate everyone's houses when they got old and infirm. This didn't go down very well with a lot of people.
  • The gap between Labour and the Tories began to narrow as the election approached, sending several newspapers in paroxysms of terror. All the stops were pulled out in smearing Corbyn and his party. 
  • But none was more terrified than The Guardian, which had been knifing Jeremy Corbyn in the front for the past two years and suddenly realised he was in with a chance of winning. The editor decided to completely reverse position on Corbyn, ordering all leader writers to do a U-Turn on the man. Up until then the progressive organ had advocated a Blairite ideology of free market capitalism under the guise of 'socialism lite'. The spectacle of journalistic slithering and backsliding and was enough to upset a delicate stomach.
  • And then three Islamic fanatics attacked central London on a Saturday night, butchering people with kitchen knives and slitting a waitress's throat before they were killed in a hail of bullets by police.
  • Everyone went silent, again. It was only a week before the election. A few liberals could be heard bleating about extending the hand of love to Jihadis, but otherwise it was quiet.
  • In fact, things were pretty quiet right up to the day of the poll, other than a constant low level murmuring on social media about tactical voting.
  • Nobody mentioned the almost £2 trillion (and rising fast) national debt, or the precarious state of energy reserves. These were issues that are not considered important enough compared to, say, Jeremy Corbyn's fondness for growing his own vegetables, or the fact that he once rode around behind the Iron Curtain on a motorbike. 
  • On election day, every online British news site declared that the Tories would win by a substantial margin, meaning that Corbyn supporters might as well just stay at home. A suspicious person would almost think that there was a coordinat … oh, never mind.
  • Polls closed at 10pm and then it was revealed that there was a SHOCK EXIT POLL which showed that Jeremy Corbyn could potentially WIN!
  • How could the opinion pollsters have got it so wrong, gasped the public. I mean, they never get it wrong, do they?
  • Corbyn supporters went wild with excitement for several hours as the results began to come in, most of which showed the Tories being savaged by the electorate, even in supposed 'safe seats'. For the second time in less than a year, it seemed people were lining up to plunge their daggers between the ribs of an out-of-touch government.
  • A Tory bloodbath ensued and by the next morning it looked like the government was DOOMED… 
  • BUT there was a major catch. Something which would take a while to sink in for Corbyn's supporters…
  • The Tories had still WON, albeit by a margin not large enough to mean they could be declared fit to form a government.
  • A HUNG PARLIAMENT was declared.
  • Which does not mean suits dangling on the end of lamp posts (yet) but simply means there was no overall winner and  a caretaker government would have to be put in place until another election could be scheduled (and we're getting pretty sick of elections, I can tell you).
  • But Labour supporters (and many others) STILL saw it as a victory and started drinking beer, even though it was a Friday morning, and they should have been drinking tea instead.
  • And then Theresa May, who should have been dead at this point, TOTALLY KILLED THE PARTY!
  • She went to see the Queen and told her she was forming a new government with the DUP. Queenie said "Okay, Mrs May."
  • "The DU what?" said everyone.
  • The DUP — Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party. They had enough elected Members of Parliament to form a viable majority with the Tories.
  • Everyone frantically Googled the DUP to see who they were and what they stood for. When they found out there was much gnashing of teeth and renting of hair.
  • The DUP, it turns out, are an Irish version of ISIS. As Presbyterian fundamentalists, they define themselves by what they hate, which is Catholics, gays, single mothers, sin, Catholics, modernity and gays. What's more, many of their supporters wear black balaclavas and paint murals on the sides of houses depicting them holding machine guns with words such as "Never Surrender" and lines of scripture.
  • These people were now potentially our government.
  • And Jeremy 'the terrorists' friend' Corbyn was still free to spend plenty of time down at the allotment watering his pumpkins.
  • Progressives fell into a profound pit of despair as something beyond their worst nightmares had come to pass. Their strategic voting hadn't worked, and the smaller parties, such as the Greens, having voluntarily acted as doormats, had lost credibility.
  • But it wasn't all bad news from their perspective, at least now EVERYONE hated Theresa May — including her own party. For she has taken a party that was telling itself to get ready to rule for several decades, if not forever, and brought it to the much reduced point where they had to cosy up to people who wore ski masks in the pub.
  • She'll probably be killed off for good shortly and replaced with Boris 'the buffoon' Johnson.
  • And she didn't even get to re-introduce her favourite blood sport, which must hurt.
  • To further confuse things Scotland voted FOR the Tories, rather than their beloved Scottish Nationalist Party — meaning the Scots wanted to be part of Britain and rejected the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's desire to break away from England BUT surrender to the EU. Confused yet?
  • Meanwhile, the pound fell on all the uncertainty, and the whole process of Brexit has been thrown into confusion. And the EU just sits there, thrumming its fingers on the desk and saying "Well, are you leaving, or aren't you? Make your mind up."
  • But the DUP don't like the idea of Brexit (which must be sinful, in some way) — despite once stating that Europe was run by the Antichrist — and seeing as they have a very big bargaining chip they might insist on either staying in the EU or watering down the terms of leaving it — most probably in the form of keeping the borders open.
  • Meanwhile 'unelectable' Corbyn is down at his vegetable plot fertilising his brassicas, a wry smile on his weathered face. Not only does he now have a large army of fanatical supporters, but he has some major chunks of the media begging for forgiveness. And if another election were called in the next couple of years —which, let's face it, is looking very likely — he'd stand a good chance of winning.
  • So, to recap, the Tories won but they 'lost', Labour lost but they 'won', the Scottish Tories won for Britain but lost for Scotland, the Northern Irish Presbyterians, who could never have dreamed of winning, have won the whole UK, UKIP has disappeared but might appear with a vengeance if Brexit is threatened, the Green party got thrown on the compost heap and the Liberal Democrats simply annoyed everyone — all clear?
  • And still nobody mentions the debt or the energy entropy time bomb …
 
So there you have it. I imagine it looks like a storm in a teacup from an international perspective — but it sure feels uncomfortable when you live in the teacup.
 
And the winner is …

Mining Asteroids

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on July 19, 2017

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Mining the asteroids: how desperate can we become?

 

 

A silly idea that seems to be coming straight from a science fiction story of the 1950s. Mining the asteroids wouldn't just be outrageously expensive; the problem is that there is nothing to mine there. Yet, some people seem to take the idea seriously

It seems that, when we are in trouble, we tend to revert to our childhood memories, seen as happy times that, somehow, could return. That may explain why President Trump is dreaming of an impossible return to coal. He may see the idea through his memories of childhood as a time of happy miners and prosperous families.

Some others, instead, may revert to memories influenced by the science fiction of the 1950s, when the idea of "mining the asteroids" was commonplace. Jerry Pournelle wrote a delightful essay on this genre in 1980 under the title "Those Pesky Belters and Their Torchships". You may also remember the 1981 movie "Outland" starring Sean Connery and taking place in a mine on the moon of Jupiter, Io.

Nice memories, yes, could we ever mine space bodies for real? Well, the science fiction of the 1950s described many innovations that never appeared in the real world and most likely never will. Some because they are too expensive (flying cars) and some because they are contrary to the laws of physics (anti-gravity). Mining the asteroids falls straight into the "impossible" category for two reasons: the first is that it is too expensive and the second that it goes against the laws of geology (if not of physics). It wouldn't be physically impossible to mine the asteroids but there is nothing to mine there.

Let me explain: we can extract minerals on Earth because of the "energy credit" that comes from geological or biological processes (and often both) which have concentrated specific elements in some special regions of the crust. We call these regions "deposits" and we use the term "ores" for those deposits which are concentrated and pure enough that they can generate an economic profit from mining. Only ores are a useful source of minerals. Mining from the undifferentiated crust is simply unthinkable because of the enormous energy it would require (see my book "Extracted").

 
And there lies the snag with asteroids. The physical processes that created ores on our planet can take place only on planets which are both geologically and biologically active. As far as we know, asteroids never were. So, there are no ores on asteroids; nor there are on the moon or other "dead" space bodies. It is not impossible that there could be ores on Mars, which may have been geo-biologically active in a remote past, or perhaps on the moons of Jupiter, maybe geologically active today. But, for what we know, the best place in the solar system where to find ores is our planet, the good, old Earth (and, incidentally, as science fiction goes, the 2011 movie "Cowboys and Aliens" got the geology of the story perfectly right: the aliens come to Earth for its mineral resources). 
 
So, no ores, no mining. And no ores on asteroids means no mining on asteroids (*). Of course, many asteroids are mainly iron, but it makes no sense to go there to mine iron if you consider that there is plenty of iron on Earth and you think of the costs involved with the idea of mining space bodies. It is an idea that just makes no sense.

 

 

 

Yet, we are seeing a spate of news that we could take as if someone really wanted to mine the asteroids. Possibly the most idiotic one appeared on "Futurism.com" with the title mentioning an asteroid "worth 10,000 trillion dollars". It seems that the author simply multiplied the mass of the asteroid, supposed to be all iron, by the current cost of iron per kg, arriving at such a meaningless number.

Other people seem to be peddling space mining and they may ask you money to finance their ideas on the basis of cute drawings which, indeed, remind the fictional spaceships of the 1950s. Others, including the Luxembourg government, seem to be willing to do exactly that: spend money on the idea of mining space, really!  (at least, despite their attempt of selecting the worst possible ideas they couldn't imagine, they don't seem to be planning to invade Iraq).

Some people who should know better seem to have lost track a little of what they are saying. So, the French astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet is reported to have declared that "Asteroids are full of pure and precious metals, such as gold, platinum, cobalt, etc, in quantities ten to a hundred times larger than what we can find in terrestrial mines." (let's just say that we can't pretend that astrophysicists know something of geology).  The idea seems to be diffusing and I reported in a previous post how an acquaintance of mine reacted to my statements that we had resource problems with "but we shall colonize other planets!"

So, what to say? Just that when desperation sets in, idiocy often follows.

(*) commenter Ned noted that some meteorites have a platinum concentration higher than that of terrestrial ores. So, there may be an exception to the rule. Whether these asteroids could be actually mined, it is another question. 

 

 

 

 

 

I Spy Doom Vol 2 Issue 2: Small Scale Heating

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 26, 2017

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In the first episode of Volume 2 of I Spy Doom, we discussed ways to Self-Insulate, so you personally can stay pretty warm even in Freezing temperatures just by conserving body heat.  This is the MOST important thing to do if you live in a cold climate!  Your Preps MUST include good cold weather clothing, in layers you can wrap on as the temps drop, or strip off as they rise.  You NEVER want on so many layers you start to sweat.  That makes you uncomfortable, and makes the clothing start to stink also.  Then you need to wash it more often, which beats it up faster.  Your goal in self-insulation is to stay just warm enough you are comfortable.  As night falls, this usually means adding one or two more layers before you crawl into the sleeping bag.

Here in Episode 2, we discuss the most simple, cheap and "primitive" ways to make personal heaters good for very small spaces like a 2-3 man tent or refrigerator box for a Homeless person.  I went "on location" to do this shoot at one of the nearby State Parks with a nice Lake.  Apologies for the first 3 minutes or so of the Vid, the ICE powered motor boaters showed up to launch off the ramp nearby where I parked and so I had to talk over them.  When I started setting up at a little before 9AM it was nice and quiet.  By 10AM when I was set up and ready to shoot the fishers were launching into the lake.  Anyhow, after the first 3 minutes, most of the background noise of Industrial Civilization fades out.  I won't be using this location again though for vids, and not just because it's too loud.  They fucking charged me $5 just for DAY PARKING over 1/2 hour!  No camping, just sitting at a picnic table!  That is fucking RIDICULOUS!  There are tons of quieter, nicer locations around to park for FREE!  Here's the list of Fees for Alaska State Parks:

In the video opening I SAID it was one of my "favorite" locations.  It USED to be, before I had to pay $5 just to fucking park for the day!  I haven't been there for a few years.  It has now dropped way down on the list.

A "Regular" spot here gets you NADA for $25!  No water, no sewer, no electricity.  At my favorite For Pay campsite not on the State Parks system, I get the same type of site for $15.  For $25, I get electricity too!

Besides the daily camping fee of $25, if you are coming here to fish (why else would you come to a lake for camping?) it's going to cost you another $15 to launch your boat every day you are out there on your holiday.  Now you are up to $40/day!  I asked a couple of boaters dragging their ICE powered water rigs out of the lake how they did for the day with fishing.  One of them got nothing, the other got about 4 puny size lake trout I could buy for less than $20 at 3 Bears, and I don't have to clean them either.  This is NOT a good way to feed yourself on the cheap while BAU is ongoing!  When they stop collecting the fees at the parks, then you might do OK.

In the upcoming episodes of I Spy Doom, we'll be expanding on and refining the basic priciples of heating for your OTR living, and doing some scaling up and measurements as well for efficiency.  Tune in to I Spy Doom here on the Doomstead Diner to get more techniques to keep from ending up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska © ,

Turns Out We Won’t Always Have Paris

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Published on The Daily Impact  June 3, 2017

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Turns Out We Won’t Always Have Paris

 

 

 

In the movie Casablanca, Rick and Ilsa had a great time in Paris, then the world descended into war. In real l;fe, we really aren’t going to have any reason to remember Paris.

 

 

 

Politicians around the world have perfected the art of appearing to do something about a problem, when actually doing something about it would harm the financial interests of their industrial sponsors. This was never better illustrated than by the Paris Climate Accord.

If anyone is paying attention to words any more, please note that the thing is called an “accord,” or “agreement,” not a treaty —  because treaties are binding, and cannot be violated without consequences. An “accord,” on the other hand, is a statement of a wish, as in “wouldn’t it be nice if we had world peace?” A treaty says, “If you attack my friend I will beat you to a bloody pulp,” whereas an accord says, “I really wish you wouldn’t speak harshly to my friend.”

If anyone is paying attention to science (or simply arithmetic) any more, please note that the primary goal of this accord is to limit global warming caused by industrial pollution to two degrees Celsius. So far, since the Industrial Revolution began we have raised the world’s temperature by almost one degree (.8 degree Celsius), so we’re already halfway there, with the rate of warming steadily increasing. Moreover, the warming effects of greenhouse gases have a 40-year cycle, so whatever we do to reduce them now will not have any effect on temperatures until about 2060. There is no possibility that warming will be limited to two degrees by any actions taken now, if in fact anyone ever does take any significant action. 

To master the skill of appearing to do something while not doing anything, one must first become adept at kicking the can down the road. At this, the parent organization of the Paris Accord — the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (or UN-FuCC for short) — excels. The Paris Accord was finalized at the group’s 21st annual meeting on the subject, in 2015. And at that the agreement did not call for any actual activity until 2018, after a lengthy survey of the member countries to determine whether they actually meant to join.

And what was that 2018 activity? Shutting down coal fired power plants? Taxing carbon emissions? Imposing trade sanctions on scoffers? Nothing like that. It was called — I am not making this up — a “stocktake” to be initiated with a “facilitative dialog,” during which each member country was to gaze intently at its navel and decide where it was and what it wanted to do. Because any actual attempts to reduce carbon emissions — that might actually begin sometime around 2020, or so — were entirely voluntary.

 Various requirements were satisfied by November of 2015, and the United States became a participant in the Paris Accord. Nothing was required of it, and less than nothing was done. The Obama administration took credit for a heartening decline in US carbon emissions — from just under 20 metric tons per person per year in 2009, when he took office, to just over 16 metric tons per person in 2013. But that decrease was largely due to the recession that began in 2009, not to any heroic preventive actions by the government.

So what is it about this anemic and ineffective agreement that drives Trump crazy? Why did he feel compelled to announce this week he is taking us out of the Paris Accord? No one knows. And no one is ever going to find out. Those who insist on trying to divine what beliefs drive him, what agenda directs him, are doomed to failure for the simple reason that he has no beliefs and no agenda. He possesses scraps of information clipped from Fox News, half-remembered snippets of conversations with people who appear to believe in something or other, and vague notions of midnight thoughts he was going to Tweet about but forgot.

When called on to make an announcement, he regurgitates a handful or two of mental flotsam for the talking heads to ponder. At some point, someone must have wedged in a persistent thought fragment — “climate agreement bad” — and that’s it. That’s why the United States is turning its back on the entire rest of the world except for two countries, and is walking away from 22 years of hard work.

The climate agreement wasn’t much, but it was all we had. It was toothless, clawless, not even permitted to bark, but it represented the human world reluctantly and slowly awakening to a mortal and imminent threat. Who knows, maybe it would have started to do serious work tomorrow. Now we’ll never know.

At the end of the movie Casablanca, when Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman),  “We’ll always have Paris,” he means they’ll have the memories of a wonderful time to sustain them through the end of the world — aka World War Two. But for us, Paris was not that great, as affairs go. And the aftermath is going to be way, way worse.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault 1

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on July 21st, 2017

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Not the "Doomsday Seed Vault" But Rather the "Vault of Doom" (part 1/3)

 


Well, at least it was made sure that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault looks real pretty
(photo courtesy of Johann Fromont)

The sheer sensationalism of doom-laden Internet headlines doled out by journalists raised on Hollywood disaster movies (and now clickbait) recently reared their ugly head again, this time in regards to the venerated Svalbard Global Seed Vault. I'm no fan of what some have misleadingly nicknamed the "Doomsday Seed Vault", but with journalists narrowly clamouring on about some recent hiccoughs that the Vault experienced does the greater catastrophe that the Vault represents get obfuscated. Those recent hiccoughs are certainly nothing to scoff at (as I'll explain), but by missing out on the greater implications they imply does the fundamental problems of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault get missed, those being that not only is the Vault not a "Doomsday Seed Vault" but, and as I'll explain in part 2, that it transforms seed saving into something akin to the art of taxidermy.

To backtrack a bit, in 2003 Cary Fowler – scientist, conservationist, biodiversity activist, and co-author with Pat Mooney of the excellent 1990 book Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity – had the idea of creating a storage facility that would provide a backup for the seeds currently stored in the world's 1,700 genebanks (and then some). While saving and preserving seeds is currently something that the "average" person tragically generally pays little to no mind to, if there's one thing more crucial and fundamental to our civilization than fossil fuels then that something would be seed saving, a practice which preceded industrial civilization by about 9,800 years or so. That being so, making backups of seeds, and even backups of backups of seeds, might very well be the most wise thing us humans cultivating away on this planet can do.

Unless, that is, one wants to be rather monolithic – perhaps even megalomaniacal – about it all.

While the Vault's construction tab of US$9 million was entirely covered by the Norwegian government (which in turn owns the Svalbard Global Seed Vault), storage of seeds in the vault is entirely free to users thanks to those costs being covered by the Norwegian government as well as an organization called the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The moniker "Doomsday Seed Vault" is an undeserved misnomer though, because as described on the Global Crop Diversity Trust's website, "The purpose of the Vault is to store duplicates (backups) of seed samples from the world’s crop collections". In other words, the purpose of the Vault is emphatically not to be a knight in shining armour that rescues humanity from some Hollywood-esque apocalypse, which in one sense renders the "Doomsday Seed Vault" nickname somewhat verbose.

To facilitate its publicly-stated mission, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located on the remote Norwegian island of Svalbard, and while the Vault itself is located 130 metres above sea level so as to be out of harm's way if even all of the world's icecaps melted, it's also tunnelled more than 100 metres into the side of a mountain, a mountain far from any active fault lines and whose surrounding permafrost can keep the seeds perpetually chilled. The idea, as put by Åsmund Asdal of the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, is that "This is supposed to last for eternity".

That is, that's the idea.


So peaceful, so tranquil (photo by Mari Tefre / Svalbard Globale frøhvelv)

Because when what I presume was some of the world's greatest minds got together to see to it that the seeds of some of the world's most important food crops were saved for posterity, the one calamity that the designers apparently failed to take into account is so absurd that I don't think there's even a witty remark witty enough to describe it. So I'll just go ahead and say it: The one calamity that the designers of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault didn't take into account was… climate change?

Really?

From what I can tell I don't think I'm too far off the mark here. Because to backtrack again, here's what recently happened: First of all, and according to NASA and NOAA, the most recent year (in this case 2016) was once again the warmest on record. Secondly, and according to Ketil Isaksen of Norway's Meteorological Institute, "The Arctic and especially Svalbard warms up faster than the rest of the world" (due to what is known as polar amplification). Thirdly, while permafrost of course has an air of permanence to it, it can nonetheless be damaged and made vulnerable when dug into – like when you dig a 100 metre tunnel into it. Combine those three together and what you get is a lot of white stuff melting. To be a bit more specific, and as the New York Times put it just last week,

[W]ater – torrents of it, rush[ed] into the entrance tunnel of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault… [B]ecause the water had short-circuited the electrical system, the electric pumps on site were useless… Local firefighters helped pump out the tunnel until the temperature dropped and the water froze. Townspeople from the village at the mountain's base then brought their own shovels and axes and broke apart the ice sheet by hand.

How is it possible, you might ask, that such an event could happen to the facility meant to "store duplicates (backups) of seed samples from the world’s crop collections"? Well, as stated by Hege Njaa Aschim of the Norwegian government, it turns out that

It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that.

Come again? "Extreme weather" – climate change – didn't fit into the "plans" that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault designers and caretakers had in mind for how the permafrost was supposed to behave (as other statements by the Norwegian government have reiterated)?

A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in.

Uhh… seriously?


Hey, where'd all the white stuff go? (photo by Ronald Woan)

So although the ice was subsequently "hacked out", this is only the beginning of the absurdity entailed in this story. Because as Aschim also stated – almost giving one the impression that these seed savers of seed savers are holding out for positions in the Donald Trump administration – "The question is whether this is just happening now, or will it escalate?"

Come again and again? The owners of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are questioning whether or not climate change is going to "escalate"? For real?

Putting aside this absurdity beyond all absurdities, the fact remains that none of the seeds were actually lost in the "flood", a "flood" that supposedly wasn't really a flood. Because as Fowler put it himself,

Flooding is probably not quite the right word to use in this case. In my experience, there's been water intrusion at the front of the tunnel every single year.

Damage control? You can decide for yourself. Because as Fowler also stated,

The tunnel was never meant to be water tight at the front, because we didn’t think we would need that. What happens is, in the summer the permafrost melts, and some water comes in, and when it comes in, it freezes. It doesn't typically go very far.

So okay. Is that to say the designers of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault didn't actually mind too much water making its way in through the front door and freezing on the inside, or that they – Fowler included – didn't really anticipate that climate change might have an effect on all that cold white stuff surrounding the Vault? Whichever it actually is, US$1.6 million has now been earmarked for investigations on how to improve the access tunnel (I'll get to that in part 2), the conclusions due in early-2018. In the meantime, US$4.4 million is being spent on constructing such things as a waterproof wall and drainage ditches.

Anyhow, Fowler also stated that

If there was a worst case scenario where there was so much water, or the pumping systems failed, that it made its way uphill to the seed vault, then it would encounter minus 18 [degrees celsius] and freeze again. Then there’s another barrier [the ice] for entry into the seed vault.

In other words, Fowler appears to be stating that not only is he the open-minded kind of guy that likes to go on blind dates, but that he likes to be set up with those who have a penchant for S&M and who go by the name of Miss Murphy. There are of course a lot of Miss Murphys out there who are itching to lay down their unique interpretation of the Law, one of those Laws possibly emanating from Greenland via what is known as glacial isostatic adjustment.

Turns out that the sheer weight of all that ice on neighbouring Greenland has pushed its landmass down by what might be a thousand feet or so, and since the land is "bouncing" back up – and at increasing speeds – due to the melting ice, this could result in "reactivate[d] faults, increase[d] seismic activity, and [increased] pressure on magma chambers that feed volcanoes". In fact, "of particular concern is the continental shelf around Greenland, where a massive melting of the ice sheet might trigger earthquakes strong enough to trigger underwater landslides which in turn could generate tsunamis". Just last month a tsunami did in fact strike the coast of Greenland due to what was believed to be a magnitude four earthquake, and as was stated by a Danish news agency, "for such an earthquake to hit Greenland was 'not normal'". And so while none of this is "normal", it also turns out that "The same process is affecting the islands of Iceland and Svalbard, which also have ice caps", and that "crustal uplift in Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard is accelerating".

Might such a climate change-induced glacial isostatic adjustment cum underwater landslide cum tsunami not only emanate from just the right spot off of Greenland's coast but also make its way through the inlet leading to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault? To make a guess, I'd say probably not. Nonetheless, Miss Murphy's chock-full of interesting tricks up her sleeve, and you never know what her wild imagination will come up with as she goes about laying down the Law with what should probably be known as:

The Vault of Doom!


The location of the scene in the upcoming movie where everybody is gathered around the monitor next to the Vault's doors that won't open, their mouths agape as they watch – thanks to the video feed provided by the Destructo-Cam© – all the seeds getting destroyed (photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins)

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier: Day 2

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 23, 2017

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Day 2 of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier has arrived, and after waking up at the fairly late hour for Boondocking of 9AM in the Walmart parking lot and doing some personal hygiene cleanup in the for Cripples toilet stall in the Men's bathroom, I buy an Egg McMuffin at the Mickey D's inside the Walmart for breakfast for $3.  I am almost able to consume 3/4s of this disgusting but calorie laden food sitting in the driver's seat of SaVANnah, with my Mobile Desk attached to the Steering Wheel to place the McMuffin on and surf the web for Doom Newz while I eat breakfast.  Then I fire up SaVANnah and drive over to the Alaska Club to do some swimming rehab and take a Sauna and Steam Bath again.

My early day tasks now complete, I prep up for today's overnight parking, which will be another FREE spot, this time one of the Public Use camping spots you can find around almost any state, although there are more of them in Alaska then any other state I am pretty sure.  The amount of time you can stay parked in such a spot has some legal limits, around 7-14 days in most of the spots around here. One of the Diners, Azozeo says you can stay up to 90 days in BLM managed land (Goobermint Bureau of Land Management) in the Mojave Desert in AZ. I however would never stay so long in such a location, 1-3 days tops for such a parking spot for me.  This particular stay will only be for the rest of the day and overnight.  The drive to this site is not that far from "civilization", around 10 miles.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/35/2c/e8/352ce8d4a3b98d3a831da6058b2beff0.jpg I will need food for this day, as well as water to drink and BEER & Cancerettes to smoke while camped out!  So I stop first at a Subway to buy a Foot Long Spicy Italian hero, and have it cut into 3 parts. Cost for this food, $7.50.  This is generally will last me 2-3 days, with a couple of eggs thrown in for breakfast and a can of soup for dinner, and the Vitamin pills.  Then I head to Fred Meyer (Kroger chain store in Alaska) and buy a 30 pack case of cheap beer ($15) and a pack of cancerettes in the liquor dept for another $10.  This will last me most of the rest of the week, although I will need to buy another pack of smokes I am pretty sure.  I try to keep the smoking down to 4 cancerettes a day, but not always successful with this.  I load up on potable water for FREE in the Kroger bathroom, filling up two one quart old juice containers with the aqua from the Palmer City water system, which is very nice water and not overloaded with chlorine.  I buy a block of ice for $3 which will last about 4 days in my cooler/refrigerator to keep leftover sandwich parts, my eggs and my drinking water and beers cold.  I buy a dozen of the cheap non-organic eggs for $2.50, about 20 cents an egg.  The Free Range chicken eggs go for $7/dozen, around 60 cents an egg.  I'll deal with the hormones and antibiotics injected into the cheap chickens laying the cheap eggs at this price differential.  I buy 3 cans of Chunky Soup for $6, a half pound of Red Potatoes for $0.60, a white onion for $0.70 and a package of breakfast sausages for $3.50.

Now loaded up with my preps for a few days, I point SaVANnah in the direction of the FREE Public Access point on the Matanuska River which has NO CAMPING FEE associated with it and where I could set up camp and park for a couple of weeks FREE & LEGAL if I wanted to, but I am only going to stay for the night on this trip.  I have a lot of other places to hit during this week of the Great Alaska Boondocking Adventure in order to give a broad overview of your possibilities for Boondocking in your rig.  Also, this site has no FREE Wi-Fi available so I will have to use 4G while parked in this spot.  I have to watch my bandwidth when I do this, although since I usually scarf up FREE Wi-Fi during the day somewhere, it's generally not an issue.

https://newyork-ny-4766.theupsstorelocal.com/Image%20Library/4766/4766.jpg On the way to the river, I make a stop to check mail in my 24/7 Mailbox at the UPS office, where they also will collect packages of Preps I order online from Amazon or Ebay.  Nothing there, because I don't actually use this box currently, I get my mail in the box where I normally live at my digs.  I just have this box as a backup arrangement if I have to actually move out and live full time OTR in SaVANnah.  It's one of my Plan B backups for SHTF Day.  Another Insurance Policy, and at less than $1/day, not too expensive.  I made the stop anyhow even though I knew the mailbox would be empty just to demonstrate how you collect snail mail and package deliveries while homeless.

Leaving the UPS office, I make the 10 mile or so drive to the FREE public access site on the banks of the Matanuska River to set up camp for the night.  This spot is REALLY bare bones, besides no toilets, water, sewer or electricity there are no Fire Rings and no Picnic Tables either.  This is actually Good Newz, because few in the RV crowd will use the spot. It's very quiet, no motor boats or 4-wheelers tooling about. It's a rather lumpy gravel lot I drive slow over while I decide where I will park SaVANnah for the night, and finally back myself in to a fairly shady spot.

With no Picnic Table on the site, to set up my outdoor Diner Control Center I need to pull out two of my Aluminum folding tables to set up as a desk, and my cooler and stadium chair as my seating while at the keyboard.  My Beer is conveniently located right under my ass.  It's a clear day but the SUN☼ is getting low on the horizon and setting up the Big Brolly for shade really isn't necessary.  It's not going to rain tonight either.  Then I take my emergency shit bucket out and put it behind the Van, basically out of site of the other folks camping at the site.  I won't need the piss jar here, when I need to take a leak I'll just fertilize the trees.

So this campsite is real EZ and fast to set up, and also to pack up and leave.  You can setup on dirt in a spot like this, or on asphalt in a Rest Area or parking lot.  No stakes need to be driven into the ground for tents and tarps, and if it looks like it might rain, it only takes another 5 minutes to set up the Big Brolly.  Well, more like 10-15 minutes for me, but for an uncrippled Van Dweller it would only be 5 minutes.

I do have larger setups for places I might park my butt for a week or two at a stretch like say the Grand Canyon including a Big Ass 20'X10' 3 Room Tent and tarps to make awnings with but at the moment I have no plans to make such long stays anywhere.  This week, everything is a one night stand.  When I head down to Kenai for the Dipnetting Adventure, probably only 3 nights and I probably won't do them all in the same spot.  For me alone, it's really hard to justify setting up the tent.  If I was at a convocation of other Van Dwellers and might share my site with others who don't have such a good setup, then it would be worthwhile.

Come to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.and you can take classes and learn plus make many great friends.

If I was living this way with a wife and kids I would need to set up the tent every night.  However, in that case I wouldn't do it with just SaVANnah, I would pull a trailer of some type.  If you are living the Gypsy life Over the Road, you do need to scale up your rig to accomodate more people, you can't do it in just the Van.  The van is only good for up to 2 people, and only if they can stand to be in such close quarters with each other all the time.  I know of few married couples who could do that. lol.  Here's a nice rig setup you probably could pull it off in:

http://roadtreking.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/trailer.jpg

Brand spanking new as this rig setup is, it would be pretty expensive to get into.  That van probably goes for $40-50K and the trailer for another $20-30K.  That is of course still a LOT cheaper than any McMansion you could buy, but by no means is it necessary to spend so much and have this type of arrangement.  SaVANnah cost me $5000, and I can buy a used Camper trailer of this size for around $10K.  I can get cheaper than that if I go with a Cargo trailer and modify it, for that it costs me maybe $3K for the trailer and another $1K in modifications.  Total cost for that rig setup would be $9K.  Instead of a Van, you could drop a camper back onto a pickup truck if you had one of those, then pull a modified cargo trailer with it.  You can get camper backs for pickups on the used market for around $2K.  I prefer Vans to Camper backs on Pickups because I like being able to go straight from the bunk to the driver's seat without going outside, but you have the same size space to work with for living in general.  However, other Van Dwellers prefer Camper backs because you can drop them off at a campsite and then use your pickup truck  for plowing snow or some other means of making some money while you live the life.

With my one-man site all set up and cozy now, I pull out 1/3rd of my Subway Spicy Italian hoagie and a bottle of water from the cooler and fire up the Laptop to surf some Doom by tethering the laptop to my cell phone.  I'm just working off the internal batt of the laptop at this point, it's fully charged and brand spanking new and the batt lasts a good 6 hours.  After I finish my lunch, I'll set up my electrics so I can plug it in and not discharge the batt while doing my daily tasks on the Diner and writing.  For tonight, I expect to use 1 of my 10AH 12V Deep Cycle Batts, maybe have to go into the second one depending how late I work.  Doubt I will need to wire in to my REALLY Big Ass 120AH 12V Deep Cycle Marine Batt, in fact I doubt I will have to do that all week, which is why Solar Panels on the roof of SaVANnah really just aren't necessary, at least until after TSHTF in my neighborhood and I can't get gas or can't afford it.

It probably will get pretty chilly tonight since the sky is so clear, so I'll probably want a little heat inside SaVANnah.  I have a few choices on fuels and methods for heating your rig and staying warm, which I am going over in my Video Series I Spy Doom concurrent with these articles.  They appear in the middle of the week, while these articles appear for Sunday Brunch here at the Doomstead Diner.  For tonight, I think a kerosene lantern should be enough to keep the interior of SaVANnah pleasant inside when I am working at my Inside Office prior to packing it in for the night and crawling into my kick ass sleeping bag good to 40F below 0.  I'll have to leave it unzipped, otherwise at these temps it would be too warm.  So overnight, I won't need to keep the kero lantern burning.

There are the usual lively debates ongoing Inside the Diner on our Forum, and I chip in a few comments, pissing off some Diners as my comments often do.  My opinions are not all that popular all the time on the Diner Forum. lol.  Then I do some surfing of other Doom websites and look for an article from one of our cross posting Bloggers to publish tomorrow.  I find that Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slaves is back to blogging after his hand injury, so I will publish one of them in his current Alphabet Series.  I'll put off formatting it for the Diner until tonight though prior to going to sleep.

As I finish the hoagie, I get the Call of Nature as often occurs soon after finishing a meal.  I make a quick trip behind SaVANnah to my shit bucket and relieve myself of my internal waste.  It goes into a bag lining the bucket, and the bag will be disposed of in some dumpster tomorrow along with the doggie-doo-doo the walkers pick up with their pooper-scoopers.

There is still plenty of daylight left, so I shut down the laptop and stow it inside SaVANnah along with the aluminum tables and cooler, and roll out my Ewz to do some cruising around.  I lock up the gear, although around here it's unlikely it would be stolen even if I left it outside SaVANnah.  I cruise along the river rather slowly because it's pretty bumpy.  The scenery is very nice and I get some nice pictures.  I could go on the road and cruise faster but there is nothing nearby here worth cruising to on the road.  You could do the same type of cruising around on a bicycle of course.  Or if you had good legs you could go do some hiking or running, or even climb one of the mountains overlooking the river.  If you had a kayak on your roof rack, you could paddle out onto the river and do some fishing.  There are a lot of nice ways to spend your day when you park your Van in a spot like this, and it is both FREE & LEGAL.

 

Returning to SaVANnah, it's time for dinner, which is EZ to prepare.  For this one I'm just going to use my propane camping burner and heat up a can of Chunky Clam Chowder.  It takes me most of the rest of the night before I go to sleep to almost finish it, a spoonful every 10 minutes or so.  I dump the remaining chowder in the woods to be eaten by the various bugs inhabiting the forest floor, or perhaps scavenger birds who come to pick off the remaining bits of clam in there.

After heating up the soup, I set up the laptop inside SaVANnah and get to work formatting up Hepp's article and then writing up most of this day's log of the Great Boondocking Adventure on the Last Great Frontier, then I shut it down and headed into the bunk for a night of comfortable shut-eye in a very quiet location.  I did wake up in the middle of the night with the Call of Nature, but this time it was only to piss so I went outside and quickly relieved myself on the base of a nice size Cottonwood tree I am sure was greatful for the nice meal of nitrogen.  Then back inside and back to bed.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4a/d9/05/4ad905d71001d5bd2a9391be04910b22--single-burner-propane-stove-stoves.jpg In the morning upon wakening, I (slowly) got myself dressed and then mozied over to the river to splash some water on my face and wake myself up more.  I could have done a full sponge bath, but I really didn't need one since I just hit the Alaska Club yesterday, and plan to again today after I break camp.  Then back to SaVANnah to cook breakfast.  First I boil one of the red potatoes until it is tender enough to push my fork into but not so soft it will fall apart when I cut it into chunks for Home Fries.  While it is boiling, I cut up about 1/4 of the onion to add to the home fries.  Then I take the potatoes off the burner and sautee up 2 of the breakfast sausages until nice and brown, take them out leaving the residual fat in the pan and add some peanut oil to it from the larder I have in SaVANnah of basics and stir fry up the home fries.  Those go on the plate with the sausages, then I scramble two of the eggs in the remaining oil and add them to the plate.  This takes me an hour to eat after cooking it, during which time I get back on the laptop to surf the latest in Doom.

Cleanup is EZ for this meal, the pot I boiled the potato in needs no cleaning, I just dump the water out.  The pan is a Non-Stick porcelain coated one, and cleans with a fast wipe off in the river, and I ate off a paper plate which will go in the dumpster after I leave.  I clean off my Hobo Knife which has fork, knife and spoon with a quick dunk in the river and another wipe down.

I then load everything back into SaVANnah, saving the shit bucket for last.  I tie off and seal the bag inside, and close the lid over the seat.  Very little smell is coming out, and I will dump the waste a couple of miles up the road at the first dumpster I run into.  It only stays with me inside SaVANnah for around 10 minutes, and then is disposed of, leaving the cabin still smelling fresh and nice.

My total costs for today were fairly expensive, because I bought supplies to last just about the whole week, including the beer and cancerettes.  However, you don't HAVE to have those habits, and I would have them living in a McMansion also.  So besides the Daily Fixed Expense of Rent of $8.50, my only other expense was the food I bought, and that will last a few days.  Total Food cost was $25.  If you add in the Beer and Smokes, another $25.

To finish this episode of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier, I then drive over to the Alaska Club for another nice Sauna and Shower, and plan my Boondocking Day and where I will spend the night.  For tonight, I will buy a For Pay campsite for $15 which has Fire Ring and Picnic Table, but no electricity, water or sewer hookup, although they have a dump station and also a bathroom and showers onsite.  Join me again next week here on the Doomstead Diner for part 3 of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier.  In the mean time…

ENJOY WHAT IS LEFT OF NATURE WHILE YOU STILL CAN, AND WATCH YOUR MIRRORS!

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