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TEOTWAWKI ARRIVES!

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 29, 2020

 

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No intro article yet.  I am neck deep in video editing.  Maybe later today  For now, you just gotta watch the vid.

What Can Collapsologists Learn From the Coronavirus Disaster?

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Guest Article by Herbert Krill

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Published originally on Cassandra's Legacy on March 27, 2020

 

——————  This time, it is for real!  ——————–

Coming this Sunday to a Laptop Near You

A Doomstead Diner Double Feature

 

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What Can Collapsologists Learn From the Coronavirus Disaster?

 
Guest post by Herbert Krill
March 23, 2020
 
 
These are interesting times for collapsologists and for anyone interested in collapse. For many years, we all studied the past, historic collapses like the Fall of Ancient Rome, and speculated about future collapses. We studied Joseph Tainter, Jared Diamond, read the Blogs of Dmitry Orlov and James Howard Kunstler, re-read "The Limits to Growth" and "Overshoot", enjoyed "The Long Descent" and so on … But now, something that could end in collapse is really here. There is a very fast decline of things as we speak, a "cliff" just as Seneca and Ugo Bardi and others have described.
Is the Coronavirus disaster our collapse? Is that "it"?
 
It might not "the Big One". But it's a big, fat Black Swan. And big enough to learn a lot from it.  Like one learns from a quake, even if it's not the Big One.
 
What is it that we have learned so far?
 
 
All the big systems need redundancy
 
Next time we will have to be better prepared. All this "slowdown", this trying to "flatten the curve" that's happening now (and disturbing the economy and the people themselves, although there are also positive sides to it, see below) could have been mitigated if a better health infrastructure would have been in place. The thing is, you have to build redundancy into the system, some overcapacity.
 
If you have capacity, then you don't have to slow down things so much. Think of fire-fighting. Fires are quick, they need to be attacked quickly. You have to have overcapacity. Fire engines sitting around idly, seemingly uselessly, until the call comes. Firefighters being bored, playing cards (or, rather, playing their smartphones). But no-one will say, "We don't need so many of them if they don't actually work." At some point, they will be needed, in a flash.
 
And that goes for the health care system as well. There should have been many more hospital beds available (even if empty most of the time), more respirators, protective suits, and so forth. If you don't have that infrastructure, you will have to build it quickly, like you do in a war.  It was funny to see those pictures of dozens of caterpillars digging the foundations of emergency hospitals in China, but a week later, those hospitals were actually ready. America did that sort of thing in World War II, regular factories were converted into producing arms, planes, ships, at an incredible rate. But for that to happen you need leadership. There was a Franklin D. Roosevelt then, not a Trump.
 
And the rest of the infrastructure?
 
For collapsologists, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the infrastructure holds together. Here in California, the Internet works (thank God), electricity flows, the mailperson makes his or her rounds, and amazon deliveries are still happening, albeit a bit delayed already. Even though there are lines in front of the supermarkets (people spaced two meters apart), there are not real food shortages. But will it stay that way?
 
The other day, I was reassured by reading an article in the L.A. Times about electricity distribution in  California. "Say what you will about the utility industry – they’re pretty good about contingency planning," Stephen Berberich, president of the California Independent System Operator, which manages the electric grid for most of the state, was quoted. The big electric grids, though sometimes weak, are systems that have always planned for disaster. They might be more vulnerable by a computer virus than a biological one.
 
But still, things can get stressed way too much. What if an earthquake decides to strike us right now? For example, a major rupture of the Hayward Fault, running through Oakland and Berkeley, about 10 km from where I live, is way overdue. Kamala Harris, California senator and recently a presidential candidate, worried aloud about this. It's not just a fantasy. Just a couple of days ago, there was a mid-size earthquake outside Zagreb. People running out on the street and congregating, instead of staying inside, as per official Coronavirus mitigation strategy.
 
A cure worse than the disease?
 
Isn't the current cure what's causing the "slow collapse"? That's probably what President Trump and his people think. They don't want the economy fall to pieces. "The U.S. was not built to be shut down," he said today.  He wants to get things running soon again. But what's more important, the economy or the people? Or are they one and the same?
 
It's a big, bold and perhaps desperate experiment, all this shutting down of everything, of "non-essential businesses", of more activities day by day, including most transportation and especially flying. There is certainly a danger that the whole economic edifice, or house of cards, depending on your point of view, could yet fall down. So interesting to watch this in real time! But just let's not be caught underneath the rubble.
 
Gail Tverberg (students of collapsology will know her) wrote recently on her blog: "Human beings cannot stop eating and breathing for a month. They cannot have sleep apnea for an hour at a time, and function afterward. Economies cannot stop functioning for a month and afterward resume operations at their previous level. Too many people will have lost their jobs; too many businesses will have failed in the meantime."
 
There is already talk of "cascading effects" in the mainstream press. And today, on Bloomberg, the word "domino effect": "Real estate investor Tom Barrack said the U.S. commercial-mortgage market is on the brink of collapse and predicted a domino effect of catastrophic economic consequences if …". This is classical collapsology.
 
The psychological impact
 
You cannot tell people just to stay at home, not to do anything, for a long time. It's bad for their mental health. Many will become slightly unhinged. The "Guardian" just had an article about domestic violence increasing, in China in February and now in the U.S. as well: "A domestic violence hotline in Portland, Oregon, says calls doubled last week." And "The New Yorker" came out with this story: "How Loneliness from Coronavirus Isolation Takes Its Toll".
 
The "shelter in place" policy actually exacerbates the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. You were lucky if you had booked a suite with a balcony on the "Diamond Princess" cruise ship when you had to wait out fourteen days of quarantine, instead of an interior room without any windows at all. The same goes for small apartments in a crowded city.
 
Stay-at-home and creative types like writers can cope with this, but most people are dependent on going out, having a drink at a bar, going to the movies, be part of a crowd. It's bad for the average guy, for the working classes, to be cooped up like that.
 
Positive sides, unintended
 
If you are not too stressed out, it's a time for reflection. Cherishing nature, family, or even thinking of death, it's good for you. Strangely enough, most churches are closed, as well. It will be a most unusual Easter this year.
 
Less greenhouse gases getting released, the air becomes clean again, for example in China. Time slows down, becomes available again. It's a period of deceleration. And by and by it starts to resemble a "World Made by Hand", the title of a novel by James Howard Kunstler, in which the post-collapse world was not a bad one indeed.
 
And despite of the new etiquette of "social distancing" (a brand-new expression, only ten days old or so) there is more face-to-face friendliness. And people are more in touch with each other via telephone, email, Facebook and such.
 
Just a dress rehearsal?
 
It's a big moment in history and therefore exciting. There is a "global feeling". Awaiting the coming days, weeks, and months. I communicate with my friends in Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic as much as I can. Everyone does this now. When will we see each other again? We are united in isolation. And it's a global unity against an unseen, common enemy.
 
But perhaps this is just a fire drill, a dress rehearsal. The real thing, a much worse pandemic, might come later. A more contagious, and/or more deadly virus could emerge. Peter Daszak, a well-known "disease ecologist", thinks the current crisis will prove to be manageable, noting that the mortality rate of Covid-19 isn’t as great as SARS and the spread isn’t rampant. "I’m not hiding in my bunker right now," he told the "Wall Street Journal" at the beginning of the month. "We’re going to get hit by a much bigger one sometime in the next 10 years." Really?
 
 
So we collapsologists may get our "Big One" after all. We may even die from it.
Up to now, we were more or less theoreticians. Now it gets far more real. We were Cassandras, collapse aficionados, we kind of enjoyed our post-apocalyptic visions.
 
But who would have thought that we would really experience something like this?
Now we should stop speculating and start analyzing this event, the Coronavirus Crisis of 2020 or whatever it will be called. Create a framework, set rules, detect mechanisms, make Collapsology a real science.
 
 
Herbert Krill is an Austrian documentary filmmaker currently working in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2012, he directed "American Collapse", a 45-minute documentary for the German-language Public TV network 3SAT.

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus Sets the Sun on the British Empire

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 24, 2020

 

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Today's installment of the CoroNewz Reports features more input from the Diner International  Correspondents, in this case Jason Heppenstall (Hepp) of 22 Billion Energy Slaves based in Cornwall, England & Monsta666, aonther Admin on the Diner based in London, England who also works in the Bankstering Industry.

Before I get into a synopsis of what we discussed in this chat, I want to adress a criticism I got inside the Diner on our Forum regarding the FOOD intros I do in all our Broadcasts now.  The critic was too "impatient" to watch the 7 minutes or so I spend going over the meal of the day, where it was grown or sourced, how it was prepared and how much it costs.  To me, these are among the most important questions we must deal with as we move inexorably into the next stage of Collapse.  The fact of the matter is despite the fact I often cook Premium Meals, I NEVER exceed the SNAP Card budget of ~$150/month for my food purchases.  In fact I generally only spend half of that.  I don't receive a SNAP Card although I DO qualify for one because I am at the Poverty Level.  I don't need it.  If more people knew how to Cook and shop for FOOD like I do, we could probably eliminate the SNAP Cards all together.  So I try in addition to reporting on the Collapse Calamity of the Day to teach people how to do this, in the first ~7 minutes of each broadcast.  I am a DOER, not just a Talker.  I Walk the Walk, I don't just Talk the Talk.  I follow the Principles I write about here on the Doomstead Diner; watch my Potlatch Parking Lot Videos where I give away free FOOD to the other Old Folks, Poor People and Cripples like me who live in my community.

Besides the importance of this information is the simple fact if it doesn't interest you, you can simply Fast Forward the Video through it using the Slider on your Utoob screen to get to the Discussion of the Day.  The whole criticism was completely invalid.

Now insofar as today's discussion goes, I got together with Hepp & Monsta to discuss how the Coronavirus Pandemic is playing out in Jolly Old England.  We discuss maany facets of the crisis as it is playing out over there, which is not dissimilar from how it is playingout here in the FSoA.  The Health issues, Economic issues and Political issues are all covered.

So, crack open a Corona Beer or mix a Bloody Mary or brew a cup of Java if you are a Tea-Totaller and get your Daily Dose of Doomstead Diner Collapse Analysis this morning. 🙂

Responding to Collapse, Part 15—Addendum

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool on December 21 2019

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At the end of my last post I said something to the effect that while I had just said pretty much all I had to say on the subject of diesel fuel, comments from my readers might spark something further. Indeed they have, and at least two of those ideas from the comments section are worth sharing here with the rest of my readers.

 

 

 

Battery Powered Tractor Trailers (EV Semis)

There has been a lot in the news lately about battery powered electric trucks suitable for long distance hauling of heavy loads, following the release of Tesla's prototypes of such a vehicle.

One reader on Facebook was outraged that I wasn't sufficiently impressed by Tesla's "achievement", but in the context of this blog whether disruptions in cargo transport are caused by problems with the supply of diesel fuel or problems with the supply of electricity (needed to charge batteries for electric trucks) is of little importance. We are going to experience both those problems, in any case, as collapse progresses.

Concerns about climate change, more than shortages of diesel fuel, are probably the driving force behind the interest in battery powered transport technology. In order to do something about climate change we do need to stop burning fossil fuels. The alternatives to fossil fuels—nuclear, wind, solar, etc.—all produce energy in the form of electricity, but electricity only accounts for about 20% of the energy we use. We need to find ways to use electricity where we now use coal, oil or natural gas. In the U.S., the trucking industry alone contributes about 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions, so it would seem that switching to electric trucks would make a big difference.

I am not at all convinced that this is even possible, or that it is such a good idea in any case. But I must admit that I just can't resist talking a little more about whether or not battery powered semi trucks are feasible and/or economically viable. Specifically, can Tesla battery powered truck do what they claims, or are they just more of the sort of marketing hype we've grown used to seeing from Elon Musk.

In an effort to become more informed on this subject, I did some googling and read a few articles, which I've listed below, along with the size of battery that each is guessing at for the Tesla trucks:

There certainly isn't a lot of agreement among these people. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they are all talking about slightly different things and making somewhat different assumptions. Picking and choosing what seems to make sense from among these different analyses, here's what seems reasonable to me:

The kind of truck we're talking about is a "semi truck", "eighteen wheeler" or where I grew up a "tractor-trailer". Regulation wise this is a class 8 truck, and it can have a maximum weight, including payload, of up to 80,000 lbs.

Diesel trucks have an empty weight of 31,000 to 37,000 lbs, including the tractor with engine and fuel, and the trailer, leaving a payload weight of 43,000 lbs to 49,000 lbs. These trucks carry as much as 300 gallons of fuel, for a range of over 2000 miles. Regulations limit how long truck drivers can work in one stretch, so the argument is made that an electric truck with a range of 500 miles and a quick charge capability could compete with diesel trucks. I don't know about that—many of the truck drivers I know work in teams and have a sleeper cab so they can cover a lot more than 500 miles without making lengthy stops.

Diesel trucks consume 3.5 to 5.3 kWh per mile, while Tesla claims their semi will consume under 2 kWh per mile. While some of this phenomenal performance can be chalked up to reductions in drag, I suspect some of it may also be attributed to optimism and marketing hype.

That's about all Tesla is saying. They aren't telling us what the truck weights empty or what the battery weighs. We can make some intelligent guesses, though.

Using Tesla's optimistic numbers, and accepting that a 500 miles range is sufficient, at 2 kWh per mile, you need a 1000 kWh battery. Lithium ion batteries have an energy density from 100 to 265 Wh/kg. I think it's fair to assume that Tesla is using a battery at the upper end of that range. So a 1000 kWh battery would weight at least 8300 lbs.

What might their empty truck weigh? Take the lower end of the weight range for diesel powered semis (31,000 lbs.), subtract 4000 lbs for the engine and 2000 lb. for the diesel fuel, and you get 25,000 lbs. Add in the 8300 lb battery, and this gives them a total empty weight of 33,3000 lbs and a payload of 46,700 lbs.

Using a more healthy skepticism, we can estimate a 30,000 lb. battery and 30,000 lb. for the truck and trailer. That leaves us with only 20,000 lbs of payload. I expect the truth will turn out to be somewhere between those extremes.

In and of itself the Tesla truck appears to be technically feasible for runs of 500 miles or less. But just because something is technologically feasible doesn't mean it's economically practical, or even a good idea in any number of other ways.

All these calculations are based on trucks running on level roads. Hilly roads can use up quite a bit more power, even using regenerative braking when going downhill. The same can be said of stop and go traffic in cities. And these are conditions that real trucks have to cope with.

If we widen our horizon on the technical front just a bit, we can see another problem. Tesla says they'll be setting up a network of "super" charging stations which can charge a flat battery up to 80% charge in 30 minutes. It's pretty easy to see that there is a problem with this. It takes over two megawatts of power to charge a battery at that rate and a truck stop would probably need several such chargers. Current truck stops aren't equipped with anything like that heavy duty a power supply, and the power company would have to install new lines and substations to supply this load. While that is technically possible (though expensive) it would certainly add an additional source of stress to an already shaky power grid.

It's also important to remember that electric vehicles only reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the power used to charge those batteries is in itself "green". Currently, in many areas where power is generated using fossil fuels, this is just not the case. And as things stand at the moment we are adding renewables to the generation mix at a very low rate.

What about the economic outlook?

all link to last post

A new diesel tractor usually ranges from $130,000 to $180,000. New trailers usually range from $30,000 to $80,000. Tesla quotes a base price $180,000 and a "Founders Series price" of $200,000. It is unclear if they are talking about just the tractor, or the combined unit of tractor and trailer. If it is the former, then they are well beyond the upper end of the cost range for a diesel truck. If it's the latter, then their price is more competitive. But batteries aren't cheap even if, like Tesla, you make your own. I can't help wondering what their profit (or perhaps loss) margin really is. At some point Tesla is going to have to start making money, or go out of business.

They also claim payback in two years based on the diesel fuel you wouldn't be buying, and a price for electricity at their charging stations of 7 cents per kWh. That's less than power costs in most areas, so once again I am left wondering how this can be a viable business proposition for Tesla.

Battery longevity is always a concern for electric vehicles. As batteries age, they can store less power, shortening the range of the vehicle. And if you have to replace the battery before the truck is worn out, it would add significantly to the lifetime cost.

All this analysis leaves me uncertain about the viability of battery powered trucks, and that takes me back to my original observation: it doesn't really matter much whether shipping is interrupted by shortages in diesel fuel or by interruptions to the power grid. In either case, the results will be similar. And it's those results that we need to be prepared for.

Horses vs Bio-Diesel

I put a link on the Collapse sub-Reddit to my recent blog post "Responding to Collapse Part 15: shortages of diesel fuel". This sparked a discussion on the merits of bio-diesel, and a much higher quality discussion than I have come to expect on Reddit.

I have no doubt that powering the currently existing fleet of diesel trucks, locomotives and ships with biodiesel in order to continue on with BAU (business as usual) would not be feasible. It would take up so much of the available agricultural land to produce the vegetable oil to be converted to bio-diesel that while the vehicles might be happy, the human race would be left starving. The EROEI of bio-diesel is, after all, only around 5.

Even using biodiesel just to power agricultural equipment in an attempt to feed 7 billion plus people wouldn't be feasible for the same reason—just too much land would have to be planted to oil seed instead of food for people. But I think there is something to be said for the idea of growing oil seed to make biodiesel to power agricultural equipment in the areas surrounding the small remote towns I have been talking about throughout this series of posts. The population density of such areas is much lower and there is more land to go around.

The real question is which is more feasible: tractors powered by bio-diesel or horses (and other draught animals) powered by hay and grain.

I did some googling and found a good article in Low tech Magazine discussing that very issue. The author reckons that on a farm worked with horses about 11 percent of the acreage would have to be used for growing the crops used to feed the horses. A farm worked with tractors burning bio-diesel would have to set aside about 26 percent of its area to grow oilseeds to be converted to bio-diesel for the tractors.

Not surprisingly, this would seem to indicate that farms powered by diesel fuel use about 2.5 times as much energy as farms powered by horses. When cheap diesel fuel refined from petroleum is available, this extra energy provides a couple of benefits. One, the land used to grow horse feed is freed up to grow other crops. Two, the powered equipment reduces the amount of human labour required. Much of the success of modern farms, be it conventional or organic, is based on this.

In a post fossil fuel, post collapse world, where the energy used to power machinery has to be produced on the farm or at least in the local area, those advantages disappear. Initially, though, I think bio-diesel does have some merit. The thing is that there aren't very many draft horses around today and it will take some years to breed up and train the population of horses that will be required. The diesel burning equipment, however, already exists and the main thing needed to keep it running is to grow the oil seed (probably canola in the area where I live) and set up the equipment required to press the oil from the oilseed and convert it to bio-diesel.

Eventually, of course, the existing diesel powered equipment will wear out beyond the ability of the local foundry/forge/machine shop to repair it, and it will have to be replaced by horses.

A breeding program for draft horses seems quite doable, as does a development program for horse drawn/powered equipment using existing equipment adapted for horses or new equipment built with village level technology using scrap metal and locally sourced wood.

The bio-diesel enthusiasts make producing bio-diesel sound fairly easy, but they are thinking in terms of ordering whatever they need from BAU supply chains. Making everything required from locally available materials using village level technology will be more of a challenge. Still, with some advance preparation while the supply chains are still running, it should be doable. Such a biodiesel program doesn't need to be long term sustainable—it only has to work for a few years until the horses are ready.

Existing diesel engines can't use straight vegetable oil (SVO), so some processing is required to turn SVO into bio-diesel. Here a rough list of what is needed:

  • seed for the first crop of oilseed
  • planting and harvesting equipment
  • mechanical presses to get the oil out of the oil seed
  • the chemicals required in the process to turn the vegetable oil into biodiesel:

     

     

     

     

    • a caustic (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide)
    • an alcohol (methanol or ethanol),
      (there are reasonably low tech processes to produce these from locally available materials, although it would sure help to have someone involved who has studied up on the relevant chemistry)
  • the vessels, piping, valves, pumps, instrumentation and so forth needed to do the processing

The alternative to bio-diesel would be to use a lot more human muscle power in local agriculture until it can be replaced, or at least augmented, by horses. This should provide incentive to get a bio-diesel program set up in advance.

Here are some sources of information on bio-diesel:

Well, I think that's really it now for my discussion of diesel fuel. After the new year, my next post will finish off this series with a look at coping with shortages of money.


Links to the rest of this series of posts, Preparing for (Responding to) Collapse:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Pox Upon Us


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 22, 2020

“Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves” 
― Albert Camus, The Plague 


During the incursions of the Black Death, the bubonic plague that attacked Europe in waves during the 14th and 16th centuries, the rich have always taken pains to insure that sickness remains the province of the poor. Some things never change.

Plague doctors wore a beaked mask and carried a stick. During the 16th century, French royal physician Charles de Lorme is credited with having invented the bird-beak plague mask. The long, beaked mask was typically filled with sweet or strong-smelling herbs, such as wormwood, the main ingredient in absinthe, which were believed to filter out miasma, or bad air, thought at the time to spread plague.

 As Jezebel reminds us, Rich People Have Always Been Assholes During Plagues​. In the 14th century Black Death, which wiped out somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of Europe’s population, those who could afford were told “cito, longe, tarde:”  “flee soon, go far, come back late.” As servants were left behind to clean the houses of an absent aristocracy, the swells and grandees got the hell out of town. Reports abound of those left in cities screaming while being enclosed alive in body bags bound for the plague pits.

The 21st century version of retreating to one’s Italian villa seems to be barricading oneself in a Hamptons mansion. The new court physician is the concierge doctor, and the new plague mask is the high-end, sold-out Urban Air Mask 2.0, miasma-blocking herbs replaced by “cutting-edge filter technology with timeless Scandinavian design,” the company’s website reads Gwenyth Paltrow recently posted a selfie wearing the $65 modern-day plague mask en route to Paris, though doctors say they’re likely ineffective, as the masks are intended to prevent sick people from spreading coronavirus, not protect well people from catching it.

Our own rich are following the advice to flee and stay away, hiring private planes to avoid the miasma emanating from those who fly coach. The Rich Are Scrambling To Escape COVID-19 On Private Jets. And money is often no object.

The most wealthy among us are trying to get around flight bans with private jet flights as they are desperate to get into or home from Caribbean countries, many of which have partial or full international travel bans. .. These countries are home to many affluent expatriates. The money some of them spend on private jet flights is staggering. One round trip to Europe in a Gulfstream 550 jet from the United States with five passengers can easily cost the client six figures.

With the world being crippled in many ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ultra-wealthy still have places to be and airline options are not only becoming restrictive, they are dwindling. Rumors currently abound of private jet pilots, both from charter operations and private flight departments, being offered large bonuses to get into and out of Caribbean resort countries undetected and bypassing customs and port of entry requirements.

Yes, I know you have your so-called "rules," but this is ME we're talking about. And I'll pay you handsomely.

And you might wonder: Why are the rich and famous getting coronavirus tests while we aren't? It occurs to a couch-surfing peasant to wonder how elite athletes on NBA teams, rich actors and well-connected swells can get tested, when first responders and many presenting with obvious symptoms have been turned away.

Just kidding.

While the evasions and lubrications by the rich may stink as much as the flesh of rotting buboes, we'll need a plague mask to mask the stench of corruption emanating from Washington, DC this week.


Virus Vultures

On Thursday, Senators faced a massive scandal after multiple members revealed in public filings that they had sold large stock holdings after private briefings on the coronavirus outbreak.  Senator Richard Burr Sold a Fortune in Stocks as G.O.P. Played Down Coronavirus Threat to the mere public. And Sen. Kelly Loeffler, she of the half-billion dollar net worth (the richest member of Congress), sold off seven figures worth of stock holdings  after the same, private, all-senators meeting as Burr. Then, she bought stock in a telework software company. Later, as March unfolded, fear of the virus hammered U.S. equities for its largest loss in decades.

After they were briefed that the coronavirus crisis would be far worse than was publicly known, they dumped their personal stock market holdings while publicly insisting that things would be fine. Even while privately telling wealthyt constituents that it was going to be ugly.  From the Times:

Senator Richard M. Burr sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in major companies last month, as President Trump and others in his party were still playing down the threat presented by the coronavirus outbreak and before the stock market’s precipitous plunge.

The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time, disclosure records show.

No less a noted socialist than Fox News host Tucker Carlson, called for Burr’s resignation.

“He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money, and then he stayed silent,” Mr. Carlson said during his show on Thursday night. “Maybe there is an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”

Three other senators also sold major holdings around the same time.

It makes perfect sense to believe, does it not, that the richest single member of Congress, a former investment banker CEO worth $500M and married to the NY stock exchange president, a Senator with inside knowledge and ability to manipulate markets,  has no idea what her portfolio is doing. 

These moves place Burr and Loeffler in direct violation of the STOCK Act of 2012, which specifically made it illegal for members of Congress to trade equities based on any secret information received as part of their jobs.

For their parts, Burr and Loeffler have asked for Ethics Committee investigations to, wait for it, "clear their names." Which, since the secretive committee meets behind closed doors, means waiting until the shitmist from the scandal settles and it's time to start pounding the phones to raise money for re-election.

No idea at all. Baseless attack.

The Times article continues:

In a series of posts on Twitter, Mr. Burr accused NPR of twisting his comments into a “tabloid-style hit piece.” He argued that the report made him look duplicitous for sharing information at a publicly advertised event that was consistent with the message members of the Trump administration were then trying to promulgate. He did not address his stock sales.

Of course he didn't.


You Can't Have One.

This is the above-referenced selfie of Gwyneth Paltrow, actress-cum-celebrity goopifier, who has built a second career positing that illness can be prevented by cold baths, energy healing and making better lifestyle choices, wearing a ventilator. And not just any ventilator. From the looks of it, an Airnum in Onyx Black. And don't ask, peasant: sold out.

Remember that we pissed away two months of lead time because Trump didn't want "the numbers" to harsh the stock market and thus his re-election chances. For months, Trump has his band of grifters and right wing media enablers have said that it was nothing to worry about, and they had it contained.

Pete Hegseth said “the more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about.” Jeanine Pirro asserted that mainstream-media coverage “doesn’t reflect reality.”  Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham accused the non-cult press as “panic pushers” stirring up “mass hysteria.” And Trish Regan at Fox Business accused the “liberal media” of using the coronavirus “to impeach the president. That last outburst was apparently bad enough to rouse Rupert Murdoch from his crypt to take her off the air.

What a difference a few days, and a few thousand active coronavirus cases in the U.S., can make. Both Trump and FNC have changed their tune regarding the significance of the virus. And Trump, prevented from staging his Nuremberg rallies to bathe in the adulation of his cult, has taken his act of vindictiveness, press attacks, and racism to the White House briefing room. It is a failing of the corporate media that they continue to live broadcast these exercises in propaganda. During a pandemic, disinformation costs lives.

 It’s certainly true that health workers and those who have already contracted the virus should be getting masks before celebrities, considering we’re entering into global mask shortage that will make it even more difficult to contain a rapidly spreading public health crisis.

But Paltrow isn’t modeling a mask out of deep concern for public health; she’s posting because she’s beginning to panic. Covid-19 definitely isn’t the end times, but it’s a useful indication of what end times might look like: All our favorite celebrities, like the rest of the idle rich, tossing away their public postures and scrambling to spend as much money as necessary to make sure that they stay safe.


Latebreaking News:

Coronavirus updates: Angela Merkel quarantined, Rand Paul tests positive, Ohio on lockdown

Germany is banning gatherings of 2 or more people to slow coronavirus outbreak

US states report price gouging

A top New York surgeon warns that the coronavirus has 'breached' hospital walls and infections could peak in 22 to 32 days

Italy Tightens Quarantine as It Battles World’s Deadliest Coronavirus Outbreak

In strategic shift, doctors in America's two largest cities are told to skip some coronavirus testing​.


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. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Coronavirus Money for Nothing and your Checks for Free

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 22, 2020

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Another day, another Calamity in the Coronavirus Pandemic.  It's really hard to keep up with this, it is spinning out of control so fast.  A puny Homo Sap cannot keep pace with the Exponential Function.  Perhaps this explains why so many Homo Saps have trouble even grasping the concept.

Today's CoroNewz Special Sunday Brunch Report features an analysis of the "Stimulus" package being concocted up in CONgress which has now balloned up to $2.5T!!!  Gotta keep that Konsumer Ecoomy going even if it means handing out FREE Helicopter money to J6P!

This isn't really about bailing out J6P, it's about bailing out Amerikan Bizness, particularly the bizness of Donalditry Trumpovetsky.  Isn't it amazing how they can find an infinite supply of money when they want to, but during BAU theres never enough for Food Stamps or Medicare?

Mnuchin: Tentative coronavirus package will include average of $3,000 to a family of four

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that a tentative stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak will include two weeks of loans to small businesses and an average payment of $3,000 to a family of four.

On the Medical front, it appears now that the FSoA in general and NYC in particular are onn the sae trajectory as Italy, just 2-3 weeks behind them.  Here's a good comparison of the Exponential Growth curves:

As you can see, due to the much larger population in the FSoA, as things progress here the problem is likely to get WORSE than the Italian problem starting about…NOW.

On the economic front, we discuss the various facets of the impact on the financial sector, as well as the impact directly on J6P.  Then there is the Blame Game ongoing between the Clown-in-Chief and the Gubernators of the various hard hit state.  Also talk of Military Deployment of the National Guard, and the amount of miltary resources and how this whole clusterfuck will affect the POTUS election in November, because count on it, Coronavirus will NOT be history by November.  It may be somewhat more under control by then, but the lasting repercussions will still be with us and there will still be the virus circulating around and likely Mutating, bringing 2nd & 3rd Waves around the Globe as we move along here.

Coming up soon here on the Diner, we also have another conversation with our friends across the Pond, this time from Jolly Old England.  Don't miss it!

 

COMING SOON TO A LAPTOP NEAR YOU…

CORONAVIRUS SETS THE SUN ON THE BRITISH EMPIRE

Corned Beef, Cabbage, Coronavirus & Collapse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 20, 2020

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St. Paddy's Day has come and gone, but this year the Hangover afterward is exceptionally bad, and nobody even went out drinking!  Although I suspect the Stay-at-Home Boozing was even more over-the-top than usual.

Image result for alaska grown logo In this video, I focus on Local Food Production, with the main Produce we grow up here on the Last Great Frontier, namely Alaska Grown Carrots and Potatoes.  Alaska is best know for its Fish production of course, with probably the best remaining good fisherie in the world and a huge export market for that fish, both in the lower 48 as well as in Asia.  Well known also for our Game Meat Hunting of Moose, Caribou, Bear and Big Horn Sheep as well.  There are also numerous small farms raising cattle, and at 3 Bears you can always choose to buy the local meats, although they come at a Premium Price, about 25% higher than the commercial beef from the Lower 48.

Discussed also in this video is the Ethnic Divide that existed between the Irish and Italians in New York Shity in the 1960s-70s and the changing ethnic character of my old neighborhood of Flushing Queens as the global migration pattern shifted from the post-WWII European migration to the migration from Asia during and after the Korean & Vietnam Wars.

Much also discussed in the 2nd half of the video when we get to Coronavirus itself, particularly the annoucement by D Gubernator of California Gavin Newsome that he doesn't think CA schools will reopen this year ad the closure will continue right into the summer break.  One really has to mull over the various ramifications of this, both on the social and economic levels.  It's quite hard to imagine how CA or really any state t all can function without the schools open to warehouse the kids while the parents work.  Currently of course about NOBODY is working,but how long can that last for?

Coming soon to the Collapse Cafe is another Global conversation with a couple of our Brit regulars, Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slave and Monsta666, my former Co-Host on the original Collapse Cafe.

The Coronavirus Hits just keep on coming here on the Doomstead Diner.

Happy Vernal Equinox – 2020: A Black Swan Trigger for the Collapse

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Published on the Question Everything on March 19, 2020

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Happy Vernal Equinox – 2020: A Black Swan Trigger for the Collapse

Might the SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus be the black swan event that puts us past the tipping point? The virus itself, and the disease it causes, Covid-19, is certainly dangerous in its own right (though the actual death rate is not really known because we don't have accurate data on the actual number of cases) I wouldn't worry about it decimating the population. Rather what concerns me is the so-called 'knock-on' effects or the cascade of disruptions to our very brittle economic (and political) systems. Yesterday I went to Costco for some supplies (not toilet paper thank you) and was a little taken aback at the empty shelves where some of my favorite items could generally be found. Our global economy and distributed production/supply chains are vulnerable to disruptions. Like people not working in order to avoid contacting those with the virus. As we have seen over the past week, whole countries and most of the states in the US are ordering lock-downs and self-isolation to "flatten the curve", i.e. prevent the kind of spikes seen in China and now Italy. If people don't work, the work doesn't get done. If the work doesn't get done many people don't get paid, and then they don't buy stuff or pay their rents. The economy comes to a grinding halt.

Unfortunately the way our global means of production and distribution are so strongly interdependent, and thus brittle, if you break anything you break everything. Once this virus begins to subside you cannot just restart everything. We will be lucky if this ends in a 'simple' depression.  But I really don't think that is going to be the playbook. The Great Depression was ended not so much by the onset of WWII but by the fact that we had access to cheap oil and coal to power the reconstruction of industry. WWII just provided the impetus to reconstruct industry rapidly and at the scale that took place. We do not have the luxury of having access to cheap energy now.

Watching Evolution in Real-time

Humans have, for a very long time, been able to subvert the processes of natural selection that have keep all prior animal populations in check. We have occasionally met with a plague disease that had a temporary impact on the population counts but all of these experiences occurred when populations were separated by distances that kept the diseases from spreading as a global pandemic. Today, globalization and extreme personal mobility has eliminated that checkpoint. We're now learning that the coronavirus is likely to have been transmitted widely before the outbreak in Wuhan, China. The virus has been incubating for a time longer than usual for the flu. And the symptoms of Covid-19 for most people look like colds of mild flu. Thus even when it was starting to show itself we were already behind the eight-ball. The experts are still trying to understand the epidemiological dynamics but one thing is clear, it will take extreme measures to get people to change their behaviors to provide the needed isolation. Just this morning Governor Jay Inslee announced restrictions on large assemblies which will kill a lot of concerts, ComiCon, and other events.

Which leads to another, even less well understood, phenomena that will put severe pressure on even the uninfected. The response to coronavirus is almost certainly going to drag the economic system into depression as mentioned. There is likely to be a complete collapse of the financial system since most businesses as well as most households, and the governments of the world are now deeply in unsustainable debt. Capitalism, even the Chinese version, cannot survive for long without the artificial monetary support having been given by the credit markets. Look at what has been happening to the smaller oil and gas fracking operators who have been depending on debt to keep going. Many (and by the time this is published, perhaps most) will fold for lack of cash. Their operating costs far exceed the price they get for the oil they pump. Say goodbye to the American energy self-sufficiency.

The global, capitalistic economy is an entangled mess of supply chains and labor services. As such it is primed for a domino take-down. It is brittle and resilience or adaptation to the new economic realities would come at a great price for energy, just when we have entered the peak of global production.

And then, on a slightly longer time scale (but within the lifetime of young adults living now) there is the spectre of radical climate chaos. Note that in spite of all of the talk of the last two decades, the greens claiming the potential of transitioning to renewable energy, and the UN insisting that all we need to do is reduce our carbon emissions, neither the energy production of so-called renewables, nor the reductions in carbon emissions have even begun to meet the promise.

These three forces, along with a host of consequent sub-forces will provide the selection that will check human growth and consumption. And that is a good thing in my opinion.

It looks like humanity might have reached the point at which the Earth will finally reign us in.

Human Nature

I must confess I have been very disappointed in Homo sapiens. We don't deserve the species name, sapiens. We are not very sapient [A Theory of Sapience] (perhaps we should have the species name, 'pre-sapiens' or even 'pseudo-sapiens'). Except for a very few people we could consider as 'wise,' the vast majority of human beings have proven to be quite foolish, and there is evidence that human intelligence and ability to learn and reason about complex issues has actually declined over the past 5,000 to 10,000 years (average braincase sizes have declined by several hundred cubic centimeters – our brains are smaller than our ancestors'). The choices we make on average have been inexorably leading us collectively down a path of increasing over complexity and increasing dysfunction in all of our major (and many minor) institutions.

We are now witness to the rise of truly massive selection forces and seeing natural selection in real-time.

I don't hate humanity. The species evolved as circumstances dictated. We became sentient, then established a foothold on the shore of sapience. We evolved tremendous intelligence and creativity. But we failed to evolve the full promise of sapience which would have provided a self-monitoring (for individuals and societies) and regulating capabilities to keep us from making the choices that led to over-consumption and unrestricted growth. While there have always been a few wise people who have observed and warned us of the dangers of our hubris, since the vast majority of humans were not sufficiently minimally sapient they did not pay attention or heed the warning. And here we are today.

Consequences

I still won't try to predict what will happen exactly; after all a black swan, by definition, is unpredictable. But, I am confident this doesn't end well for most of us. Some of us, including me likely at this point, in the pandemic. But many more are going to face conflict, expulsion from homelands due to climate changes, starvation (same cause), increasingly destructive weather events, and the list goes on. In the end, only a small population of either lucky or wise enough humans will survive. There is still the full cataclysmic scenario of complete extinction, say if the methane bomb goes off (or nuclear bombs). I still don't think it will get to that. My sense of timing tells me that this coronavirus and its demolition of the global capitalist, consumerist economy has come just in time to provide the necessary negative feedback to prevent a full on cataclysm. Of course, for those of us who will face which ever scenario it will certainly seem cataclysmic. But, this is just nature restoring balance so life can get a fresh start, with or without a species of Homo.

In the meantime, try to enjoy the springing forth of life this Vernal Equinox. What else is there to do?

I appeared on a couple of podcasts on this particular subject this last week: Collapse Chronicles at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXUgegZkI-0 and the Doomstead Dinner at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JtSyT2Zhxo

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Panic

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 17, 2020

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Image result for leprechaun St. Paddy's Day has arrived and it's time for some Corned Beef & Cabbage and plenty of Booze today! 🙂  But first of course I had to go out and do some FOOD Shopping for a few items, fresh veggies mostly, I have everything else in my Preps.  I'm good on the Corned Beef for I think 5 St. Paddy's Days into the future, I think I have 5 Briskets in the chest freezer.

It's not a Happy St. Paddy's day this year either for the Leprechauns or the Irish-Amerikan Cops who still run the NYPD and march every year down 5th Avenue then go out and get shit-faced drunk at various Irish bars in Brooklyn & Queens.  No parade this year in NY Shity, and none across the Pond on the Emerald Isle either.  Coronavirus has dealt the ultimate blow to the Irish this year.

Anyhow, Surly wrote yesterday about his terrifying shopping expedition to COSTCO, but I figured on leaving my digs with my Cripple Helper that things shouldn't be too bad in the Food Superstore of 3 Bears.  After all, as of now we have all of ONE COVID-19 case here on the Last Great Frontier, and he is supposedly self-sequestering.  So the threat to anyone here right now is pretty close to zero.  Boy, was I wrong.

I have NEVER seen the shelves so EMPTY in 3 Bears.  Canned Soup…all gone.  Frozen Pizza…almost all gone.  Toilet Paper…ALL GONE!!!  Interesting what the Zombies out there find important to buy when doing last minute prepping.

I thought this might only be true at 3 Bears, so the next day I got my Cripple Helper to go over to Walmart with me off the Agency Dime and I bought her Lunch for her trouble, plus a gallon of Milk, which they actually did have at Walmart, though according to her mom not available at Fred Meyer.  Missing from the shelves at Wally World though were the same items missing at 3 Bears, Paper Goods, Canned Soups and Frozen Pizzas.

So what is going on here?  Is this a failure of JIT Delivery?  Are the Supply Chains breaking down already?  Of course not.  It's Herd Behavior and PANIC driiving this among the majority of Meat Packages who have had their heads buried in the sand and believe every lie that pops out of Donalditry Trumpovetsky's mouth, or off the virtual keyboard on his Smart Phone in his latest Tweetstorm.  SURPRISE!  You can't lie a Pandemic out of existence.

Anyhow, I cover all this and more in the video heading this article.  Yesterday's food was good too, I did Japanese to lead up to today's Irish cuisine. 🙂

Panic at the Costco


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 15, 2020

 “Who needs four horsemen when one will do just fine?”  ― Charlotte Hale, Westworld  

 


There are two schools of thought as to the consequences of the current coronavirus pandemic:

1) This is the BIG ONE.  The US is still in "no data, no problem" mode. Ten days behind Italy. Watch for a near-vertical spike when testing begins and denial ends.

2) This is NOT the BIG ONE. While the "infectabliity" factor oif the disease is ten times greater than the flu, its lethality is relatively low, aside from the elderly, the sicks, and the poors. Making the disease a gift to the capitalists by way of reducing overhead. "Buy the fucking dip, 'cuz nothing matters."

Most of us who frequents sites like Doomstead Diner would agree that whether you’ve been personally touched by coronavirus or not, one is well-advised to  be prepared with essentials to weather an interruption of several weeks in business-as-usual (BAU.) But many people do not, and have neither the interest nor means to prepare for much except tomorrow.. Homeland Security’s emergency and disaster prep site, ready.gov, suggests: “Store a two-week supply of water and food,”  Prepper types think in terms of months– two, six, 12 months. The site also advises checks of any prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply and a refill of nonprescription drugs, which is Prepping 101.

So with my son-in-law arriving and our household down to its last sixpack of TP, I decided to make a Costco run– one of the most desperate actions of my life. It was absolutely shithook berserkers. I had no idea I was about to take my life in my hands until an overweight woman on a motorized shopping cart decided that I was an unnecessary obstacle between her and the tinned chicken. I escaped with my skin intact, but a couple of old folks left in my wake may have be hurt.

I didn't look back.

When people fail to develop a plan about what they actually need in advance, a natural response is to snap up things they don’t need and will never use as a hedge against future uncertainty. So there is a great deal of unplanned panic buying.  Costco is crowded on weekends, and I had been there amidst crowds, but had never seen it as crowded as March 13. Many cleaning supplies were also completely plundered and not on offer. There is also sheer price gouging opportunism, as you'll see below.

Now I have a better idea why.

After six weeks of denial, dithering and deception, Fat Orange has found that you can't bully, intimidate or gull a novel coronavirus as easily as, say, a US Senator.

In the absence of clear leadership frorm an administration who views the pandemic as a distraction from its re-election marketing message, the states have taken the lead. We've decided to Cancel Everything. The effort is to limit exposures, meaning avoiding crowds and preventing the sort of spike in exposures and sicknesses that overwhelms hospitals and health care systems, as in Italy. "Social distancing" is the new watchword, and it overlays perfectly with my preferred lifestyle, which is heavy on "leave me the fuck alone."

Here's a reasonably complete list of Coronavirus closures: List of events, sports, and more canceled amid COVID-19 fears. Even NASCAR postponed a couple of events, which may sink in with the doorknob-lickers.

Covid-19 is everywhere. It will be everywhere it has not yet reached. As a "novel" virus, we have no built-in "herd immunity." And it will change our lives in ways we cannot predict.


How did it come to this?

The approach of the Trump regime to date has been, "no data, no problem." Trump's approach from jump has been to minimize the problem, mock the sufferers, game the numbers, and blame Obama. (If you'd like to check that assertion, someone already has: A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus. You're welcome.) You are quite correct to note that any lead time the US may have had has been squandered in fecklessness. Countries from Singapore to South Korea are managing to test large portions of their populations, but in the US we've administered 11,000+ and turned away God knows how many more.


The other day, I heard the governor of Ohio say they probably had 100,000 active cases working in that state alone. Today, the Ohio Department of Health believes 100,000 Ohioans are carrying coronavirus, confirmeing that. In Virginia, within a week we've gone from two reported cases to 45 reported cases and one death.  There is even a case now in RE's Alaska, The Last Great Frontier.

For his part, Trump tells a nation terrified of coronavirus that none of this is his fault. At a news conference last week, Trump lied, insulted reporters, and explicitly refused to take responsibility for his own actions when directly asked.

.At one point, Trump was asked about the admission of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that our lag in testing was “a failing.” And he was asked if he takes responsibility for this failure.

Trump’s response: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

The president claimed that “we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules and regulations and specifications from a different time,” and this existing legal infrastructure “wasn’t meant for this kind of event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about.”

It’s an astonishing claim, and it’s astonishing because Trump has spent the better part of his term dismantling the federal government’s pandemic fighting infrastructure.


And why can't you find your bleach, wipes, and cleaning supplies? The Hand Sanitizer You Can't Find Is In This Putz's Garage. Because someone decided to make a market out of your misery.  "Retail arbitrage" has created individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming real jerks, inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The current pandemic isn’t one specific person’s fault, but there are individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming a real jerk.

Chief among them is Tennessee’s Matt Colvin who, with the aid of his brother Noah, was inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The retired Air Force technical sergeant is the new face of price gouging, thanks to a profile in Saturday’s New York Times. Beginning March 1st, Colvin, whose primary income is reselling collected goods on sites like Amazon, hit the road and bought as much hand sanitizer as he could find. For a while, the money was rolling in. But when his prices soared, Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces rightly shut him and his fellow panic profiteers down. He estimates he now has 17,700 bottles of the virus-killing ooze, as well as hand wipes and all the other highly sought after materials you can’t find in a store right now. The cleaning products are collecting dust.

This is the kind of behavior you get when so-called "conventional morality" is replaced by worship of the free market. "Retail arbitrage" sounds so much classier than "rapacious price gouging" and "disaster capitalism."

Karma, your table is ready. 


#StayTheFuckHome
A Movement to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic

The absence of Federal leadership and the resultant blamestorming has failed us in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Slow reactions, public appeasement policies, and an urge to stabilize the economy to preserve re-election prospects (to say nothing of the need to impose "message discipline" via Mike Pence on the experts) are keeping them from taking the measures it takes to protect millions from this disease. It is time for us, and up to us, as citizens to take action now and do our part to "flatten the curve" and fight COVID-19.

Putting it bluntly: #Stay The Fuck Home! Wash your hands frequently! And stay away from Costco.

Stay safe.


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. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 16, 2020

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"Two Professors, an IT Engineer & a Crippled Cook walk into an Italian Restaurant during the Coronavirus Pandemic…"

 

Two days ago on Friday the 13th, I got together around the Diner Table with 3 other Collapse Bloggers and long time friends, Ugo Bardi of Cassandra's Legacy, George Mobus of Question Everything and K-Dog of Chasing the Squirrel.  Originally I had intended to work on the editing of the videos through the week and Premier the Broadcast on the Vernal Equinox coming on March 19th for a couple of reasons.

For one, I just Premiered yesterday a video, A Millenial's Eye View of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  It is my general practice to give any  major Videos or Blogs at least 2 days in the Feature Spot at the top of the Diner Blog Homepage.  The 2nd reason is because the Solstices and Equinoxes are important dates for at least two of us.  For George, he publishes his QuadAnnual Blog on these dates now each year; he has reduced his Blogging to 4 times a year so those are the only times you will get some of George's latest thinking and insights into Collapse, unless of course you read one of the endless stream of books he is always writing. lol.  For me, these astronomical dates marking the significant points in the Earth's orbit around the Sun are important, because our 501c3 Non-Profit is the SUN☼ Foundation, acronym for Sustaing Universal Needs.  They also mark the beginning dates of the 4 Seasons, with the Vernal Equinox marking the beginning of Spring.  Although it doesn't feel much like Spring up here today, the temps were about 9F/-13C.

I was forced to change this schedule of Broadcast because of rapidly changing dynamics in the Coronavirus Pandemic.  Many things true 2 days ago are no longer true.  For instance, when we recorded the discussion, Alaska still had no COVID-19 cases recorded.  As of this morning, there was at least one, someone who flew up from the Lower 48 on a Transport.  He is supposedly currently self-quarantining.

Two days ago, Seatlle was still mostly under voluntary restrictions to travel and congregate in large groups.  Today, these restricitions are mandatory, Seattle will be closing its Public Schools and there is rumor that the Gubernator will close the WA State Borders.

On Friday the 13th,  Seattle was the leading Big Shity in the FSoA in COVID-19 cases & deaths.  Not so 2 days later.  NY Shity has grabbed the lead from Seattle, and with much larger population numbers is likely to quickly leave the West Coast city in the dust.  Pretty much only LA on the Left Coast can compete with NYC for total numbers when (not if) this thing really gets rolling. Mayor DiBlasio has finally capitulated and will close the NYC Public Schools, the largest such system in the country.  NYC has also shut down Broadway, Radio City and numerous Sports Venues.

Over on the Emerald Isle across the Pond, the Leprechauns are not smiling.  St. Paddy's Day Parades have been cancelled there, as well as here in the FSoA in Big Shitys such as NYC which have large populationsof Irish immigrants, from numerous waves of imigration beginning in the 1800s.  For many years, practically the entire NYPD was Irish Cops, and today the upper level is still basically Irish-Amerikan.

No St. Paddy's Day Parades and no open Bars means no Corned Beef and Cabbage for many folks who can't do anything more than Boil an Egg or Microwave a Frozen Dinner.  Here in the Diner Kitchen though, I'll be cooking RE's Famous Corned Beef and Cabbage to serve up tomorrow on March 17th for all the Diners to at least look at.  lol.  I'll let you know how this year's version turns out, I am going to change up the Recipe from last year's, even though the rule in cooking like most things is "don't mess with success".  lol.

Anyhow the situation remains extremely fluid and is rapidly getting worse, so I put my Editing Engine on Overdrive to get this ready for today, before it gets overwhemed with still WORSE Newz I need to cover.  The discussion above covers many aspects of this problem not being covered well in the MSM, such as the economics, the politics and systemic breakdown we are likely to see in fairly short order.  Mr. Wizard John Michael Greer can kiss his "Slow Catabolic Collapse" theory goodbye now… there is an EPIC FAILURE of Nostradamus punditry if ever there was one.

I hope all the Diners are doing their best to stay out of range of this pandemic and remain healthy to date.  Take your Vitamins and eat Healthy!

SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

A Millenial’s Eye View of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 15, 2020

The Ides of March

 

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Available Streaming over the web or by Download on Diner Soundcloud

Note:  Due to problems with the Video & Audio capture software I have been using with Skype, portions of the Video have somewhat out-of-sync A&V along with dropouts.  I am going to change platforms due to this problem for the next interview show (after the one with Ugo Bardi, George Mobus & K-Dog coming on Thursday, already recorded).  In this case, if you turn off the YouTube sound and turn on the Soundcloud sound, you will get clear audio all the way through.

Discuss this Video & Article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

A discussion held this week with a true Millenial Generation (Born 1998, Age 21) young man from northern Ontario Canada, who recently became aware the Civilization he lives in is undergoing Collapse. He joined our intrepid Clan of Kollapsniks on the Doomstead Diner after becoming "Collapse Aware" in September of 2019 and happening on George Mobus' Blog, Question Everything.  On a websitejab packed with Old White Men from the Boomer Generation, I for one am extremely glad to have our first Millenial Diner as part of our crew of Collapse Observers, Analysts and DOERS, who are making the best attempt we can to (as our Motto says) "SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN".

For myself as a Veteran Boomer Doomer with one foot in the Grave already, I have become comfortable with what is bound to occur here as time goes by, and I will die in the reasonably near term regardless of what goes down.  I am also comfortable with that, all living things die at some point, I led a particularly interesting life and was very lucky along the way through it.  Harder to fathom of course is how such a young man can deal with this, with his whole life still ahead of him, one bound to become ever more difficult to negotiate and to simply STAY ALIVE as long as he can, which is the main job of all living things.  Diner Cam shows all the attributes necessary for survival in the world to come, intelligence, adaptability, good physical health and the desire to… Keep on Truckin'

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I highly recommend you listen to this young man, who is wise beyond his years.  As George Mobus often points out, it is one thing to be Intelligent, but Wisdom is often lacking in even the greatest Geniuses.  Along with just about ANYONE currently in Political Power, anywhere on the Globe.

Coming on the Vernal Equinox, Thursday March 19th we will present another Round Table discussion in our Collapse Cafe of the Doomstead Diner, featuring George Mobus, Ugo Bardi, K-Dog and myself discussing the ramifications for Industrial Civilization of the currently Exponentially Growing Coronavirus.  Join us for that one as well, it was a hell of a chat.

 

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 14, 2020

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You've heard the joke before I am sure…

"Two Professors, an Engineer and a Crippled Cook walk into an Italian Restaurant during the Coronavirus Pandemic…"

Full length Feature Film coming to a Laptop near you on the Vernal Equinox of 2020.  That's Thursday, March 19th, 2020 for those of you unfamiliar with important Astronomical dates on the Calendar.

Coronavirus & the Oil Market

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 13, 2020

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IT'S FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!

 

No accompanying article for this vid as of yet.  You will have to watch the vid to find out what it's about.  I am overloaded right now with vids to edit and no time to write.  Another discussion set for tomorrow.with George Mobus, Ugo Bardi and K-Dog.  SHTF Day HAS ARRIVED.  Now I gotta REALLY work to keep up with Collapse!

Image result for corona virus oil prices 

 

Prepping for Coronavirus

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 11, 2020

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Image result for coronavirus map gif  How do the Fashion Conscious dress for a trip to the Food Superstore in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic (now Certified Officially by the WHO)?  Would you want to be seen outside your McMansion wearing one of those ugly Surgical Masks?  I wouldn't DREAM of going out in public looking like that!

Then there is the question of just HOW EFFECTIVE are these preventative measures?  Will these masks really protect you from COV-19?  Do you really want to sacrifice your Fashion Sense on the theory that this will keep you safe, and you can go to the local Bar or Dance Club and Part all night free of worry that you will not only DIE, but probably spread the bug to everyone in your family too?  Before you even know you got it?

How many of these masks (even the ugly ones) are produced each year?  There is speculation that this virus is contagious enough to eventually infect every last one of the Homo Saps currently walking the earth.  Call this 7.5 BILLION possible "Typhoid Marys". Figuring you gotta wear a new mask at least once a week (although surgeons wear a new one for every operation),multiply 7.5B X 52.  That's 365 BILLION masks needed every year!  Do we have the production capability for producing that many masks?  How many trees will have to be cut down to produce the Filter Inserts for the masks?  You think there will be many masks available at the corner drugstore in Somalia?  In Turkey?  You think all these folks could BUY the masks when they can't even afford food to eat?

Across the Pond in Italy, they are already grappling with this problem, as well as here in the FSoA in Seattle, the Epicenter of the viral contagion and outbreak here.  Italy is currently on a mandatory LOCKDOWN, with highly restrictive measures on travel and on congregating together in any sort of groups, from Football Games to Church Services.  The tourist industry in Italy is already decimated after just 2 days, and this Lockdown is supposed to go until Apil 3rd, minimum.  How are these folks supposed to make a living and pay the rent?

The problem is less sever (at the moment) in Seattle than in Italy or China, but already people are going into Voluntary Sequestering, staying at home to avoid the virus.  This is somewhat possible for retired folks and folks without a job, much less so for the vast number of people who have to go to work every day.

Later in the week we will be speaking with Ugo Bardi, Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Firenza in Italy and author of the Question Everything Blog, and George Mobus, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of the Cassandra's Legacy Blog.  Co-Hosting this Broadcast with me will be K-Dog, IT Engineer based in Seattle and author of the Chasing the Squirrel Blog as well as being one of the Diner Admins.

In addition to this, we will many more videos upcoming treating the current crisis in as much detail as we can muster up here on the Doomstead Diner Blog & Forum and the CollapseCafe.com You Tube Channel.  Check in daily here to get the latest in breaking news and analysis of the Pandemic.

In the meantime, today's video will answer some of the questions regarding the effectiveness of the preventative measure that are being underten, which generally are too little, too late.  The Cat is out of the Bag and the Horses have left the Barn.  There is no stopping this virus now, and the only question that really remains is just how many people it will send to the Great Beyond before an effective treatment regime and vaccine are developed, and then globally distributed.  With what is currently obviously an EXPONENTIAL GROWTH RATE, that holds the potential to be a whole lot of Meat Packages pushing up daisies.

Florence Hit by the Coronavirus: The Curse of Hyperspecialization

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on March 9, 2020

Coming this week to a Laptop Near You

Coronavirus from the Front Lines with Professors Ugo Bardi & George Mobus &

Collapse Bloggers K-Dog & RE

 

Like the Giant Panda, the economy of Florence is at risk of extinction. 
                                                                    

 

Florence is like the Chinese Panda: a creature highly specialized in the resources it exploits. The pandas need bamboo, Florence needs tourists. No bamboo, the pandas die. No tourists, well….
 
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These days, walking in downtown Florence reminds me of my childhood, when Florence was not packed full of tourists. It is a ghostly experience: there is almost nobody around. The few Florentines walking in the streets look perplexed, as if asking each other "and now what?" All Italy is like that, frozen: schools and universities are closed, most restaurants have closed and the trains and the buses run nearly empty.

Right now, the number of victims caused by the coronavirus is relatively small. It will not be a new black death. But the epidemics illustrates the fragility of our economic system: it is being disrupted not because people are killed by the virus, but because it lacks resilience. It is subjected to that deadly phenomenon called "enhancing feedback" — the loss of an element of the network can destroy the whole system.

This fragility is especially visible in some highly specialized economies: the city of Florence is a case in point. I already discussed how Florence evolved over the past two centuries or so from a purely agricultural economy to one centered on tourism. You might see it as a parasitic economy, or maybe a scavenging economy. Modern Florentines have been living on the work of their ancestors, hundreds of years ago, in the form of art masterpieces and spectacular buildings.

The problem is not how you define the Florentine economy. The real problem is another. It was known but carefully ignored: it is that this economy is fragile. Tourism is highly sensitive to economic shocks: in difficult times, the first thing that people stop spending money on are expensive trips abroad. And this is exactly what's happening: with the rampaging coronavirus, people all over the world have canceled their trips and they are staying home. And Florence is empty.

In a way, it was expected: it is what I call the "Seneca Collapse." It is something typical of complex systems. Normally, they can absorb external shocks and adapt. But when they are under stress, it may happen that a small shock unbalances the whole system and causes it to collapse. Here is how the Seneca curve looks like: it is inspired by something that the Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca said: "Growth is sluggish, but ruin is rapid."
 

It is nothing more than the old story of the straw that broke the camel's back. It was not a fault of the straw, but of the camel having been overloaded. Seen in retrospect, it was not a good idea to overload the Florentine economy with infrastructures that brought more and more tourists to the town and that required more and more tourists to provide the resources needed for their maintenance. More hotels, more restaurants, more shops, more events, more roads, and so on. Even a bigger airport was in the plans but that, fortunately, may never materialize. 

A lot of people in Florence are complaining because they are losing money from their investments in bonds and stocks. But the real problem is with the people whose living directly depends on tourism. The people who clean the rooms of hotels and of airb&b's, who serve in restaurants, who drive taxis, who sell trinkets in the squares, who take tourists on tour in groups, and so on. Right now, they are on the edge of panic. Typically, they have no financial reserves and they are often indebted to the banks. But they have to pay their rent and to buy groceries for their families. And they are running out of money.

Image result for florence coronavirus There are further stacked layers of people who indirectly benefit from tourism. For instance, a friend of mine makes a living out of giving private English lessons. In turn, people in Florence take English lessons mainly because it is a skill useful to deal with foreign tourists. But the virus has scared her students and, in any case, in this uncertain situation, most of them thought it was better to skip the cost of English lessons, it is one of those luxuries that can be postponed for better times. My friend's income has dwindled to zero in a couple of weeks. And she has to pay the rent for her home and buy food for her family.

Let's see things a little more in perspective. According to Statista,  "In 2019, the contribution of travel and tourism to the Italian gross domestic product amounted to 237.8 billion euros. The industry, which is one of the most important ones for the country’s economy, constituted about 13.3 percent of the Italian GDP."

Can the Italian economy survive the loss of 13% of the GDP? Probably yes, just as you can survive being run over a truck. But that doesn't mean it is a pleasant experience, nor a painless one.

Then, how about Florence? There are no data about such thing as a "Gross Town Product" for Florence, but some rough estimates of mine indicate that the fraction of the Florentine economic machine that runs on tourism could be around 30%, and perhaps even more. Now, imagine that international tourism vanishes for an extended period of time. . .  Ow. . . No more bamboo shoots for those poor pandas.

With a bit of luck, the virus will go away in a month or two, leaving an Italy battered but still there. Italians have shown great resilience in the past, think of when they rebuilt the country after the disaster of the second world war. Can they do that one more time?

In principle, yes. But it would take a serious rethinking on the part of a political class that so far has placed all bets into expanding tourism as much as possible, beyond all reasonable limits, all in the name of growth for the sake of growth. For once, they might learn something from this experience.

Unfortunately, right now, the first impression is not good, with noises recently heard from the government about the need to provide economic stimuli for people to buy new cars in order to "restart growth." People never change their minds, just like pandas never change their diet. And, as usual, we march into the future while looking backward.

Life After Oil

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 9, 2020

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Life After Oil

France has collapsologues and Pablo Servigne is one. Pablo is an agricultural engineer with a Doctorate in Science. For the past decade Pablo has worked with Barricade in Liège Belgium. Leaving academics to do what he can Pablo is facilitating the transition away from oil. Barricade is about a new way forward. Pablo knows academics by itself can’t make the new world. Nothing by itself can.

In this video Pablo talks about the end of oil and European agriculture.  I discovered Pablo by exploring what is happening with collapse in France.  The video is in French which I don't understand  but I do have enough familiarity with the language so that with the help of Google Translate I was able to summarize Pablo's talk for you.  It is a very good talk much like a TED talk or a good interview by Sam Mitchell.  I wanted to know if there were any perspectives I was not aware of in the French collapse tribe.  I'm glad I watched it for I did learn a thing or two.  The visuals in Pablo's talk are very good and I enjoyed watching them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I viewed the barricade website through Google Translate to read it. Without translate all I’d get are pings of understanding with big gaps in between. Looking at the webpage I forget for a minute the translation step and I ponder the twisted grammar thinking I’m reading bad writing. Then I remember in French the writing is likely pretty good. I fix the English.

"Developing as a place of collective emancipation and alternatives since 1976 in the Pierreuse district of Liège Belgium. Barricade is a synthesis of a variety of social cultural and economic experiments. Lying at an intersection of social economy and education Barricade demands self management which values cultural and social purpose over profit."

I made it better but the automatic translation is not so horrible. I encourage you to visit barricade. Open both links, Google Translate and Barricade. Select the French to English translation in Google.  After you make your selection. cut and paste the url from the address bar of Barricade into the (from) side of Google Translate. Then click the url shown in the right panel, the (to) side. You should then see barricade translated to English.

Now that you can explore barricade on your own I’ll return to Pablo and his hour long video. I watched the whole thing and after I was done I put the French transcript through google translate. The resulting English transcript unlike the clean barricade translation was not bad writing. It was horrible writing. But a good student of collapse I am and I was able to make sense of things.

I could with hours of effort make a good accurate translation. Already two hours into the effort I know I don’t want to do it. I might if it were paid work but I don’t have a feeding bowl in my sidebar that people can send me dog biscuits in.  A days work making an accurate translation I can't do.

Instead I will describe the video and encourage you to watch it.  It may be the same effort, but for me , more enjoyable.

The video starts out with Pablo explaining he was an ethnologist studying ants but that he has become instead an advocate for the transition movement.

Pablo is on a mission to explain the fast dance of science to everybody and Pablo wants the public to prepare for a future without oil. Fast dance was probably a Google translation artifact but I’ll keep the cybernetic contribution. I like it. Pablo is the name and education is his game.

Pablo became interested in what agriculture would be like post peroleum compared to what agriculture is like now. Just the sort of thing an agricultural engineer would think of, and a valuable perspective as we will soon be expecting the earth to feed ten billion people.

Knowing that crop yields depended on oil based pesticides and modern agricultural machinery uses copious amounts of oil with which to operate, Pablo became aware of of Wes Jackson at the Land Institute about 2008 and in 2013 Yves Cochet introduced a important report to the European Parliament concerning catastrophe and resilience.

Resilience is related to sustainability but it is not the same thing. Sustainability is resistance to change. Asking how well a society can respond to change is a different question than asking how well a society can resist change. Resilience is a refinement of the sustainability concept.

Establishing himself as knowledgeable, Pablo shows us pictures of families. Mali or Chad, Bolivia, Mexico Germany and the US. In front of these families a weeks worth of food is shown. The difference between the photos is striking. The industrialized countries have food which is produced industrially and the less industrialized countries all have food that is locally sourced. Americans at the apex of the industrial food pyramid use huge amounts of petroleum to grow, process package and transport food over large distances. American food cannot exist without large quantities of plastic used for single use packaging.  With a loss of fossil fuels industrial countries have little food security and Americans have none.  The point of the photo montage is to show that less industrialized countries produce food without using oil.

A series of slides then shows industrial agriculture and the energy intensive distribution system need to move industrial products. To make industrial distribution work huge amount of petroleum natural gas and electricity must be used. Petroleum is a very dense way to store energy and Pablo asserts that a human would have to work four years to produce the same energy provided by one tank of gas in a car. A barrel of oil has the equivalent of 12 and one half years of human work. 500 slaves would be needed to produce the energy equivalent that a single person uses in an industrial society every day.

The 500 slave analogy goes back to the Post Carbon Institute and Richard Heinberg. It is a common comparison and it makes a valid and important point. Oil was allowed to create and fill an irreplaceable human environmental niche and nothing can substitute for oil when oil is gone. Oil has become a part of every aspect of modern life. Plastics medicine textiles, every aspect of modern life uses oil.  As the price of oil changes the price of food in an industrial society changes with it.

Pablo shows a set of graphs that have curves which show oil discoveries, projected discoveries anticipated demand, and anticipated oil production. The graphs clearly show production of oil will not meet demand in a few years and also that if oil could be supplied to meet demand an environmental catastrophe is certain. Oil reserves are enough to provide ten degrees worth of global warming. The energy needed to acquire and process oil always increases because easy to get at oil is pumped out first. As time goes by oil becomes more and more of a geologic challenge to acquire and becomes scarce. The amount of energy used to get the same amount of oil increases along with the geologic challenge. The Energy Returned On Energy Invested or EROEI goes down as time passes and oil is used up.

When oil was first pumped the EROEI was about 100 to one. As easy to get at oil was used up EROI dropped and a EROEI of thirty to one became common. Falling EROEI becomes important when EROEI falls below twenty as fracked oil will do. The ratio becomes important when a significant part of acquired energy must be used up just to get the energy.

Substitutes for oil where it can be replaced by by electricity means windmills or solar panels.  Hydro power by itself can’t provide enough energy. Both solar panels and windmills require raw materials which are difficult to find in needed quantities. Current windmill technology uses rare earth metals to make magnets strong enough for electric generators. Without rare earth metals the cost and complexity of windmills would increase. The supply of rare earth elements is not big enough to make as many windmills as the world needs to replace petroleum.

To keep global warming below two degrees we need 15 times the concrete that we have for windmills and 90 times the aluminum that we have. Finding the right kind of sand to make concrete with is already a problem. To keep the probability of a 2 degree C temperature rise below 50%, forty times the number of windmills we now have should be built before 2028. One decade to produce forty times the windmills we have now is difficult.

Renewable energy can’t scale up to replace oil and the industrial food system of Europe could begin to fail in ten or 15 years when there won't be enough cheap oil to maintain food production. Not paying attention to this issue is crazy stupid because it takes time and effort to transition food production from oil to a resilient system.  It is not an easy thing to do.

The 2013 report and trans-disciplinary discussions with experts resulted in Pablo writing a book about transitioning European food production away from oil. The European food system depends on oil and there will be an end to it. This will result in the end of the European food system unless it is changed.

For 10 or 12 thousand years the earth had an unusually stable climate. Temperature varied not so much allowing sedentary agriculture to develop. Analysis of previous climates in the fossil record shows temperature stability for so long a period has been very unusual.

The anthropocene moving temperature out of a stable range is like Europe driving to the supermarket in a car that has an an empty gas tank and then crashing into the wall of the supermarket when brakes fail.  Brakes failing because atmospheric CO2 and methane are on a fast rise. All the air in the atmosphere put together in a sphere would make a ball only about 800 miles wide. All the oceans put together in a ball would make an even smaller ball only a little more than half as wide as what the atmosphere ball is. There is not a lot of air and water to pollute and billions of people share the work of polluting the air and water.  The job is getting done.

Extending a car analogy the steering wheel can’t turn. The decision was made to adapt the internal combustion engine to provide all of societies needs. Everything was set up to support that decision. Manufacturing and finance evolved to support internal combustion and now changing manufacturing and finance systems to support new ways of food production is difficult. People who benefit from the existing system as it is resist it being changed at all. Politics resist the change.

Pablo shows a slide of his book ‘Comment Tout Peut S'effondrer’ (How everything can fall apart).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collapse will happen when basic needs can’t be provided to a majority of people at reasonable cost. In the French media and intellectual space collapse is not seriously considered. Pablo’s book shows everything is connected. It is a multidisciplinary study of collapse.

 

Everything is connected and a shortage of just about everything will soon be our reality. A slide with 36 graphs which show that the extraction rate of all kinds of raw materials has resulted in ‘La grande acceleration’. Oil facilitated extraction and use of just about everything  causing exponential rates of extraction that can’t be sustained. Everything is connected and being depleted. Modern life consist of complex interconnected systems and study of these systems shows the more interconnected systems are the more catastrophic are their failures. Initially interconnected systems stand up to external disturbance well but the same interconnections which make them initially stable accelerate collapse when tipping points are crossed. (The Seneca cliff failure mode described by Ugo Bardi) Less interconnected systems resist initial disturbance less well but as they fail, they fail more gracefully. Our systems are highly interconnected becoming more interconnected all the time. When our systems fail they will fail with a domino effect.  One failure leading to another. A cascade of system failure.

The Meadows report to the club of Rome in 1972 was a first attempt at predicting our future using numerical analysis computers and systems theory. It predicted system collapse in the first part of the 21st century. Since the report was released history has bore out the model predictions. Agreement on how well is moot.  The model predicts a collapse at about 2030. Once that collapse starts how well data tracked getting up to the collapse won’t matter. Feedbacks will dictate the particular ways collapse manifests once it starts.

Meadows and the club of Rome considered alternate scenarios. Birth control, energy efficient technologies, increases in food production, etc. Many possible future were tested and in only one case was a resilient scenario realized.

By employing all possible know solutions to the exponential growth problem; collapse is avoided if changes begin soon enough. In the model changes had to have already been started by now. The Meadows model that succeeded had changes which began in the 1970’s and 80’s.

When existing arrangements fail and collapse happens new stability with a lower quality of life may result. Arrangements made to prevent collapse could help return to a higher quality of life but unless some such arrangements are made now a rise to a higher basin of stability can’t happen.There is a strong mathematical basis for this conclusion. BAU or business as usual will not allow a possibility of recovery.

Pollution, deforestation and the elimination of the biosphere is an accelerating process. A point approaches where thresholds could be crossed resulting in rapid system collapse. If trends continue the biosphere will lose its ability to feed humans and the Earth will enter a new phase of mass extinction. All life on Earth will effectively die. People as well, in a complete or near complete extinction event. Feedbacks like methane release in the arctic will accelerate global warming acceleration if tipping points are crossed.

The earth oscillated between inter-glacial and glacial periods during the Holocene. Under those conditions humans evolved. Emissions from fossil fuels are now making a hothouse earth on which humans can’t live. If emissions from fossil fuels are not curtailed there will be areas of the earth that will become fatal for people to live on. Areas where hot humid tropical air will actually kill you. A planetary threshold could be crossed and the whole earth becomes too hot for people for thousands of years. If melting permafrost leads to a feedback loop of ever released methane, a methane bomb of feedback could explode.

Besides the methane bomb 15 other positive feedbacks have been identified that cause the earth to warm faster as the earth warms because they feed on themselves. Two or three of these feedbacks are easily triggered. Our situation is like a person in a canoe heading for the edge of a waterfall and we only have so much time to start paddling to the shore and safety or we go over the edge falling to ruin. 2 degrees C of temperature rise has been identified as a critical temperature. Crossing it may cause global warming to spike in uncontrollable intensity.

Collapse can come in two forms. Collapse of the biosphere where all life on earth dies is a more serious collapse than the collapse of hyper-complex industrial economy by itself. We are not in a situation we can ask engineers to fix. Solutions must be all encompassing.  Our existence is threatened. We don’t have a problem to solve, we have an existential threat to deal with. Positive outcomes are possible.  Mitigation of bad outcomes is better than thinking nothing can be done and doing nothing at all.

Actions can be taken. Stopping eating of meat has a huge impact in mitigating our predicament. There is a history of people concerned with existential threats like those we now face. We can use their knowledge.  In the 60’s and 70’s concern about nuclear war caused some people to find ways to become self sufficient.  Leaving the industrial agricultural system to feed themselves. The gas crisis of 1973 caused people to explore ways to live without oil.

At the end of the cold war Cuba lost the oil that had been provided by the Soviet Union. The United States prevented easy oil imports so Cuba experienced a collapse similar to what the world is about to face collectively. Cubans responded and found creative ways to survive by using small amounts of oil. Special buses that could be pulled by diesel trucks filled a mass transit need. Urban farming allowed food to be grown without any need for transport.

Australia contributed permaculture which allows people to transition from being dependent consumers into food producers. People have stepped up to the need. The United States forced Cuba to step up to their oil crisis just as the United States itself had stepped up to the crisis of 1942 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and America entered WWII. Victory gardens across America contributed to the war effort which had caused farmers to stop farming to go and fight in foreign lands. Within a year 60% of vegetables were being produced in victory gardens on municipal lawns.

People come together in crisis. Pablo has worked with his friend Gauthier Chapelle in Belgium. They have co-authored a book L’etraide L’Autre Loi De La Jungle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently there is no scarcity in our culture and little need for cooperation. But in harsh conditions group cooperation will emerge. Penguins are a great example. They huddle together for warmth taking turns facing a freezing cold wind on the outside of their huddle. All penguins stay warm enough with each getting a turn in the middle of the huddle where it is warmer all around.

In our culture with 500 energy slaves apiece it becomes easy to decide that you don’t need your neighbor. Relationships suffer. Greed and selfishness prevail and in a disaster situation greed and selfishness is absolutely not wanted. Instead the natural reaction at the epicenter of a disaster phenomena is to self-organize and become selfless. This is where our stories of selfless human sacrifice come from.  Evolution prepared us to act that way.  Early reports of mayhem and lawlessness in the Katrina tragedy were false. Instead cooperation prevailed. In the World Trade Center collapse people helped each other knowing that they were going to die. Panic and selfishness are both myths of western culture. Empathy and cooperation are natural.  The myth of the law of the Jungle is a western cultural creation.

Our culture allowed the ridiculous belief that the law of the strongest was the only law of the jungle to become popular. In fact life on Earth is the result of 3.8 billion years of evolution and in that time nature tried many experiments with success. The western law of the jungle belief is false. Even bacteria and fungi under certain conditions will appear to act selfless. Permaculture has twelve design principles and three ethical principles. The foundation of western civilization in contrast is not well grounded.

Gauthier Chapelle and Michèle Decoust in ‘Le Vivant comme modèle‘ decribe nature as a gigantic laboratory, several billion years old, rich with many solutions.

Permaculture produces resilient abundance by not fighting against nature. It sequesters carbon and restores biodiversity by avoiding chemicals. It requires knowledge and is labor intensive but so is the industrial food system which is highly complex and dispersed over large areas. Permaculture is local. Elliot Coleman wrote the winter harvest handbook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book has been translated into several languages. Elliot is considered a premiere market gardener.  Permaculture and techniques used by Parisian market gardeners of the 19th century combine to create a new resilient system.

 

The foundation of permaculture is deep knowledge with labor replacing chemicals and energy inputs. It is resilient and local and it is what we must do to survive.

It is not a puzzle we want to solve or an alternative lifestyle we want to consider. It is what we will have to do to survive. There is no luxury in the equation.  Climate change and resource depletion leave us no other choices. We have the challenge to produce food, repair ecosystems and produce energy in the absence of oil and in a new unstable climate. A new generation of peasants must provide the 12 and a half years of equivalent labor a barrel of oil can no longer provide.

Looking at what Cuba had to do when its oil supply was cut off leads to the conclusion that 120 million new cultivators will be needed as the age of oil ends in Europe. The first of these cultivators are already born but they do not yet know they will become cultivators. Forest agriculture must also be valued in a new ecological awareness.

Changes will be difficult. Power for the transition must come from the bottom up. Grassroots power with guidance from above and it will not be easy. The changes can be overwhelming and people should not contemplate our future alone. Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified stages that a person goes through in accepting death. Thinking about these stages helps to understand collapse for it too is something we would avoid if we could and a truth that we would prefer not to accept.

Reaction to collapse can take many forms. We will be living in a new and different post-petroleum world than the world we have know as we descend down the peak oil slope. Collapse can be greeted with anger.  Anger at the many who ignored collapse saying all was well. Even now most people are lost in denial. Collapse is an emotional roller-coaster and anger can lead to despair.

I’m close to the end now. The last part of the video is difficult to summarize. Pablo explains his perspective on what collapse means to him and how he views it. He ends with a cartoon popular in collapse community culture. ‘We destroyed the Planet but for a little while while we created a lot of value for shareholders’.

I agree with Pablo’s attitude but I want to add something Pablo left out. Industrial life pretends it offers freedom but in truth is it takes away freedom. New ways of living will not be all bad. You might not have 500 energy slaves at your beck and call, but you will have better friends and you won’t be as lonely and isolated as you are now.

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Corona Virus & the Death of the Left

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 8, 2020

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It has been another Banner Week in the world of Collapse, on the Political, Economic and Medical fronts of the ongoing Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  It is becoming far too easy these days to find Collapse Topics to write on.  It's not even a challenge anymore.  🙁

Starting with Politics, the Race for POTUS saw a huge collapse in the size of the Democratic candidates who may face down Donalditry Tumpovetsky in the election, if there is one.  Falling by the wayside this week vere Tom Steyer, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and most significant of all IMHO, Liz Warren.  She was the only one besides B & B, Biden and Bernie who was pulling down double digits in the Polling.  So the race has now boiled down to one between the "Progressive" end of the Demodope Party and the "Corporate Sellout" end.

Common Wisdom among Diners is that in NO WAY will the Democratic Party hacks allow Bernie to get the nomination, and he will get screwed one way or the other, as he was in 2016 by Killary "It's My Turn" Klinton.  We'll just have to see how that one goes here over the next few months.

On the economic end,  the Stock Market remains basically in Free Fall, blamed mostly on Corona Virus but in fact attributable to many other things, not the least of which is the whole fucking economy is based on Funny Money in a huge House of Cards.  All it really needed was something to tip it over the edge, and COV-19 was more than enough to do that.

The vidus itself, beyond the monetary consequences is having a HUGE impact all over the globe at this point, and really it has only JUST BEGUN.  A Princess Cruise ship has been refused docKing privileges and MILLIONS of Italians have been QUARANTINED.  The virus is still exhibiting EXPONENTIAL GROWTH, and a vaccine and other treatments do not come online fairly soon, we will have a BIG FUCKING PROBLEM to deal with here.  Only time will tell on that one also.

As of today, so far no reported cases of COV-19 here on the Last Great Frontier of Alaska.  One of the many advantages of living in a low population zone not too many people visit, especially during the Winter, which is not to healthy an environment for viruses either.  They don't have Winter Clothing, and you get down to -20F and they don't live too long.  That is FUCKING COLD!

The Collapse Cardiologist from Oz Daily Double

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 7, 2020

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by Geoffrey Chia, March 2020

 

  

MY “IDEAL” SMALL OCEAN-CAPABLE CATAMARAN / SEASTEAD

Buying a luxury yacht for recreation or as a status symbol while still living ashore may be viewed as an act of vanity and profligacy, particularly if the boat is seldom used. Buying a seaworthy boat to live aboard full time and achieve independence from the coal fired power grid and reduce your overall resource consumption (and eliminate all land dwelling expenses) is another matter however. Yachties tend to be incredibly parsimonious with their use of power and fresh water. Depending on your circumstances, an offgrid lifestyle in your “floating tiny house” may be cheaper than living ashore and can dramatically reduce your ecological footprint. “Doomers” may consider it the ultimate “bug out” vehicle.

For monohull fans, the best small oceangoing liveaboard sailboat is the Sirius 35DS. Hands down. End of discussion.

For catamaran fans the debate rages on.

I live aboard a FP Mahe 36 evolution catamaran which, for my particular purposes, was the best (and smallest) ocean capable liveaboard cat available at the time of purchase. https://www.jstor.org/stable/renetechsustfutu.120.40?seq=1

I requested some modifications from the Oz agent, Multihull Solutions, which were: a stainless steel bracket behind the hard top bimini to mount 400W of solar panels (the best location possible, not shaded by the sails and boom most of the time), removal of one marine toilet to be replaced by a Nature's Head self contained urine separating composting toilet (obviating the need for a heavy, smelly holding tank and keeping sewage management simple yet still safe), a solar hot water heating system (Heliatos flat panels) and the installation of a small 2.2kg capacity washing machine in the port head, which I use as a laundry room where I have installed drying lines for clothes. That port head still retains its original marine toilet. All have worked well although the composting toilet does need particular “delicate” management.

I have a basic sloop rig, no bowsprit and two 30HP diesel saildrives.

In light of what is available today and personal experiences, I have updated my thoughts regarding the “ideal” liveaboard oceangoing sailing cat. Of course there is no such thing as an ideal cat, only one's personal view as to what represents the optimal combination of inevitable design compromises.

If I could option a catamaran from scratch now, I would consider the Seawind 1160 lite (1160cm = 38 feet) as a rough template because I like the idea of two retractable outboards in wells. I would modify the configuration significantly however.

SIZE: A 38 foot cat is large enough for safe ocean passages, however boats any larger usually need electric or hydraulic assist devices (power winches etc,) due to the huge forces on the lines. As it is, I already need the help of another person to haul in the furling line of my (smallish) jib when sailing downwind in a stiff breeze on my 36 foot cat. I prefer to minimise dependency on complex machinery. Thirty eight feet is a suitable size for 1 to 4 permanent liveaboards (assuming 2 double cabins) and to also temporarily host 2 guests in the bridgedeck area (with a drop down table which converts to double berth).

INBOARD OUTBOARDS: Having outboards in wells which can be tilted out of the water when not in use offers a multitude of advantages. Each time I hauled out my boat I found the rubber seals around the shafts of my saildrives were peeling off and needed replacing. Until Propspeed became easily available (which needs to be professionally applied and is expensive) I had problems with growth on the props. I recently had to change the sacrificial anodes and will need to replace the aluminium props themselves soon due to electrolytic pitting. Also there is the annoying vibration of the props freewheeling when under sail when the engine is off (eliminated by putting the gears in reverse which however is not recommended by FP). If confronted with a rope-round-prop scenario, if you have a fixed engine, the only way to clear the prop (if it cannot be freed by reversing the engine) is to dive down and do the deed, a horrible task in the dirty opaque Brisbane river and rather unnerving if out in the wide ocean, especially at night when you cannot see what denizens of the deep are lurking beneath you (I speak from experience regarding the latter, but thankfully still have all my limbs intact). What if you are motoring in a storm under bare poles near a lee shore and have snagged a rogue net or rope in your prop? If you can tilt the engine up and clear the prop from inside your cockpit, that would be sheer bliss..

There are several outboard engine possibilities:

  1. The default existing option is petrol outboards which are cheap and light and easily replaced. With their high power to weight ratios and high RPMs, petrol outboards are mainly designed to push light planing vessels around at high speed. When used for displacement or multihull boats at slow cruising speeds, they are woefully inefficient compared with diesel inboards. I also have an aversion to keeping volatile petrol aboard (I mostly paddle my dinghy tender but do have an electric mini-outboard if I get lazy)

  2. Much better would be 27HP Yanmar diesel outboards which unfortunately have been out of production for many years now. They were excellent engines but had a very small market, hence were not profitable. Recently however it appears other firms have begun to make small diesel outboards: https://www.klaxondieseloutboards.com/the-features/

https://hongjunst.en.made-in-china.com/product/uyPJgLOVAzcF/China-Diesel-Engine-Boat-Motor-4-Stroke-Outboard-Motor-30HP-for-Vessel.html

Whether they prove to be of similar quality is yet to be seen. With a limited market however, after sales service and spare parts could be an issue. Diesel engines with high thrust at lowish RPMs use perhaps 40% less fuel than equivalent horsepower rated petrol engines, hence offer a much greater range with much less emissions (and are also more durable). The Oxe and Cox diesel outboards, being 150HP or larger are not relevant to our considerations.

  1. What about two electric outboards powered by one or two generator sets? My preference would be a single diesel generator that can continuously power two electric outboards equivalent to, say 20+HP each, say around 17kW each. There is perhaps 10% energy loss when converting electricity to motive power in the electric motors but my understanding is that this is made up for by other efficiency gains. Electric motors provide the highest torque and thrust at low RPMs (given suitable prop design). Electric outboards in theory should require almost no servicing and last forever. A big advantage is that being electrically controlled, it should be easy to install multiple engine control panels: one at the port helm, one at the starboard helm and another at the internal helm within the bridgedeck. Duplicating helm controls for throttle control of internal combustion engines in small craft usually requires long mechanical cables (and I have never seen them triplicated).

I know that FP working with Volvo Penta have built a hybrid electric Lucia 40 https://plugboats.com/volvo-penta-unveils-all-electric-saildrive-at-cannes/ , but from what I can gather their setup is very complicated and proprietary to their brands. Furthermore it does not seem designed to power long distances. My philosophy is to adhere to the KISS principle as far as possible and be flexible with components, not to be bound to specific brands or models (apart from the hull and rig templates). If a component fails you can replace it yourself, not depend on the original vendor to send you their proprietary replacement from Europe at great expense which may need professional installation and software reconfiguration. Hence the idea is to use any brand of electric outboard https://plugboats.com/electric-outboards-more-than-5kw/ and any brand of marine genset, so long as items have the right specifications. Each electric outboard will weigh about 60kg and need water cooling. When I attended this meeting https://renew.org.au/events/brisbane-branch/going-electric-with-boats-to-ships/ I got the impression that a diesel genset weighing less than 200kg was available with suitable output for both outboards, but subsequently I could not personally find that from a websearch. For example this 34kW genset weighs more than 550kg! https://www.phasormarine.com/k4-34-0kw.htm Dedicating 670kg of machinery to auxiliary motive power on a cat is a deal breaker. By comparison each 30HP diesel saildrive on my Mahe weighs about 160kg and the old 27HP Yanmar diesel outboard models each weighed about 120kg. If a 34kW diesel genset weighing 200kg or under can be sourced then that would be ideal (200+60+60 = total of 320kg of motive machinery). The genset will have to be placed low in one hull (for the water cooling and weight distribution considerations) and near one electric outboard, with a heavy duty electrical cable leading to the outboard in the opposite hull.

  1. What about two electric outboards powered by petrol genset(s)? I could not find on websearch any petrol genset with higher than 16kVA output. What about one 16kVA petrol genset in each hull powering the adjacent electric engine? Apart from the inadequate output of each genset, my search showed they would weigh about 150kg each. https://www.mygenerator.com.au/large-3-phase-petrol-generators.html Such weight penalty is again a dealbreaker. Furthermore they are made for use on land and are air cooled, hence not suitable for a marine environment nor using more efficient water cooling.

  2. Another consideration may be a single 50HP diesel outboard (now being made by Yanmar) in one hull which powers a heavy duty alternator which sends juice to an electric outboard in the opposite hull. It will however be tricky marrying the thrust characteristics of such different engines with their different props at different RPMs (not to mention the asymmetric weighting of the hulls).

BATTERIES: The dual electric outboard + puny genset configuration on the hybrid Lucia 40 utilises a huge 40kWh worth of lithium batteries, which alone probably costs around $50,000 and the batteries will need replacement after perhaps 8 years and it all requires very complicated electronic battery management systems. There is no value in being able to run the electric engines silently for, say 6 hours, only to have to charge the batteries up again after that with the gensets (solar panels alone, depending on capacity and available sunshine may well take weeks to recharge it). Much better to run the genset(s) at the same time the electric engines are being run, negating the need for massive battery storage. Unfortunately the hybrid Lucia gensets are grossly underpowered (5kW each) to meet the continuous demands of each electric engine (15kW each), hence their “need” for huge battery storage. If adequate genset capacity without excessive weight penalty were possible, huge battery storage would no longer be necessary and even good old lead-acid with a modest capacity will be sufficient. What if your lithium system with complex electronics fail in the remote Pacific? You can get lead-acid batteries with associated charge controllers off the shelf anywhere and nowadays you can buy 600Ah of deep cycle AGM batteries for just over $1000. That's 40 times cheaper than the hybrid Lucia option, and if you carefully manage your lead-acids with no more than perhaps 30% DOD each time, they may last you eight years. Another possibility is Nickel Iron batteries which are not damaged by 100% discharge, may last 50 years or more but need frequent distilled water top ups and, every 7 years, total electrolyte replacement. Also from what I understand they hold their charge poorly compared with lead-acid or lithium. I think, having adequate gensets, all you need (for a 12V lead-acid system) is 600Ah of deep cycle house batteries and an 80Ah (with suitable cold cranking Amp capacity) dedicated starter battery for the gensets (overall representing about 4kWh of usable stored energy assuming 50% DOD for lead acid). Of course you also need enough solar panels (500W in the Queensland sun is more than enough) to keep the batteries topped up and running your fridge/freezer (and all other electrics apart from washing machine) >90% of the time, before ever needing to fire up the generator. As for airconditioning, I advise avoiding it like the plague unless connected to mains power at the dock. Most anchorages will have enough cooling breezes, assuming your boat design enables good ventilation through large opening portholes, an absolute must.

TOPSIDE CONFIGURATION:

a) Bridgedeck cabin: One of the most annoying aspects of the seawind 1160 design is the slope of the windows in the bridgedeck cabin (which hugely increase the greenhouse heating effect). Those windows in my ideal boat would be more vertical, like a Lagoon or FP, with small eaves above. Such features will also discourage the accumulation of grime and bird poop. I do like the Seawind trifold cockpit door concept. Having a dedicated forward facing internal navigation station (where all displays such as radar, chartplotter, AIS, depthsounder etc are repeated, as well as duplicate autopilot and engine controls and aerial socket for your portable VHF transceiver) is essential for any ocean going craft. When not underway it will be your mini-office where you work on your laptop and keep your stationery.

b) Helms: Twin helms in the cockpit have many advantages over a single raised helm offset to one side. A single raised helm offers good visibility to one side but poor visibility to the other which can make approaching a pontoon on the “blind” side difficult. Under sail, the jib obstructs visibility on the opposite side and because the helm is high, it is not possible to see under the foot of the jib (unlike sailing dinghies, most cruising yachts do not have transparent windows in their jibs). A high helm is also very exposed to the elements unless a bimini top and front and side enclosures are added, which add significantly to the windage of the topsides. A soft bimini top and plastic clears are not durable (and plastic “clears” are not very clear) and I have already had to replace mine (shredded by a hailstorm) which was not cheap. Twin helms in the cockpit sheltered by a hard top overcome those problems, although not without some caveats. To ensure good visibility forward through the cabin windows (which should enable you to see under the foot of the jib), it is best to have large bridgedeck cabin windows. Also best to have drop down rear windows directly in front of each helm to minimise the number of windows you need to look through when underway.

GALLEY:

a) Galley down configuration: For some, having the galley down is a deal breaker because the cook cannot easily interact socially with the crew when preparing meals. It has many advantages though, apart from keeping weight and CG low and freeing up a huge amount of space in the bridgedeck. Not having a galley up enables clear visibility from the cockpit helms forward through the cabin (with no cook blocking your view).

b) Fridge/freezer system: My main regret was installing a cavernous front opening freezer (in addition to the fridge) to my galley, which I hardly use because I seldom buy frozen food and is a huge drain on the batteries when used (It is my preference to run all the electrical appliances on my existing 400W of solar panels and 480Ah of batteries more than 90% of the time, without needing to charge the system by the engine driven alternator). I would prefer a top opening chest fridge-freezer due to the greater efficiency, despite the hassle. In the daytime my bridgedeck cabin is always much hotter than the hulls due to the greenhouse effect (even though I have vertical windows), causing the fridge-freezer in my galley-up configuration to struggle. Therefore locating the fridge-freezer down in one cool hull would substantially improve efficiency. For maximum choice and greater affordability, given the wide availability of robust portable RV/camping type DC chest fridge-freezers these days, I would like the option of a simple low shelf on which to place that chest, with a high current 12V DC socket adjacent (supplied by heavy gauge wire). My preference would be an 80 to 100 litre chest with separate fridge and freezer top lids.

HULL ACCOMMODATION: My Mahe has, in each hull, a queen berth in the rear and a head at the front, mirrored port and starboard. Saildrive engines with vertical legs take up much less horizontal space than conventional inboards with oblique prop shafts. This enables the saildrives to be located far back at the stern, freeing up more space in each hull. Having rear cabins directly adjacent to the engine compartments renders it impossible to rest easy in a cabin when the engines are running, unless you are not bothered by the fillings being shaken out of your teeth. What about the dual electric engine + genset combination? Electric engines are near silent but gensets are not. My preferred location for each double cabin will therefore be further forward but not near the bow where there is maximum pitching motion. Pitching is least amidships, near the “pivot point”. The “island cabin” configuration for a double or queen berth is best because of easy access on either side and ease of bed-making. The long axis of the island bed is best athwart rather than parallel to the long axis of the hull because the latter will require a broader hull beam, resulting in a slower cat. The heads are best in the rear rather than up front because the latter will, when the door to the double berth is closed, prevent those outside the berth from accessing that head. The accompanying diagram shows my personal view of optimal internal hull configuration.

DAGGER BOARDS: I can understand why some folks like daggerboards, but this is a topic I choose not to get into here and will stick with minikeels for the time being. An old salt once said to me, “a gentleman does not sail to windward”.

MOVIE THEATRE: One sad genetic predisposition of the pathetic male of the species is an unhealthy obsession with big screen TVs or home movie theatres. In a small boat, a big screen TV is out of the question, hence the solution is a movie projector. But which projector and where to place it and the screen? Combining my obsessions of low power consumption, true HD resolution and high contrast ratio, I chose the LG PF1500 LED projector which I mounted on a bracket which I bolted to the bridgedeck cabin ceiling. The LEDs are supposed to last more than 30,000 hours. A newer, lighter, cheaper, lower powered model is the PF50K. The distance to the screen had to be worked out exactly as that projector has limited zoom ability. I use a retractable screen, which in the daytime is stored in a box under the table, with a nominal 72 inch diagonal size (16:9 aspect ratio), which I place against the entrance door and pull up (rather than down), fastening the loop to a hook installed above the door. Combined with a stereo bluetooth portable speaker arrangement, a high quality immersive theatre experience is achieved. I just need to keep the volume low so as not to rattle the neighbours' windows. As the projector and bluray player require AC current, when away from dock so as not to drain the house batteries for this frivolous use, I use a rechargeable 12V, 100Ah lithium battery housed in a portable power box which I connect to a pure sine wave inverter for the home theatre system. I recharge this portable battery from flexi PV panels I installed on the coach roof (not the main crystalline PV panels behind the hard bimini top which are dedicated to the house and starter batteries). This particular theatre configuration is impossible in a narrow beam monohull.

CONCLUSION: My “ideal” cat does not exist at this time, but if I can interest the Seawind designers in these modifications, who knows…

  • For auxiliary engines, my preferred arrangement is two 27HP diesel outboards in wells that can be tilted out of the water when not in use. Availability of these items and after sales parts and service however are unknown quantities at this time.

  • The existing default option of two petrol outboards has the disadvantages of poor efficiency (hence poor range) and the need to store volatile petrol. Furthermore, alternators powered by petrol outboards tend to have puny output compared with diesel engines. Up front however this is the cheapest option. If however due to Peak Oil, diesel in future becomes scarcer than petrol, this could be a “better” option.

  • At first glance the idea of two electric outboards powered by one or two diesel or petrol generators seems appealing but, based on existing gensets available, the weight penalties are too high if the system is to be used for long distance powering.

  • The Hybrid Lucia 40, having underpowered gensets, is not suitable for long distance powering, and the cost of their lithium batteries alone is prohibitive.

Hence for now, based on what is actually available at this time, my view is that for ocean going sailing cats, the best (or least bad) auxiliary engine arrangement remains fixed diesel saildrives. Can diesel saildrives be configured to be housed in wells and tilted out of the water? I think only engine and boat designers working together can answer that question.

G. Chia March 2020

 

Addendum: Economical cabin heating with diesel:

My friend Richard brought my attention to this extremely low power consumption diesel heating system designed for caravans which uses only a few litres of diesel over an entire winter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmENqukmrTc It can be configured to source oxygen from outside the dwelling (and of course expels fumes externally). Richard, his wife and daughter have used that system in a caravan over winter in Tasmania and found it to be excellent. It appears to be ideal for boat use as well and should also work with kerosene.

 

The Economic-Oil Nexus (EON) part 2: or Fuck the Neoliberal, Neoclassical Economists

By Geoffrey Chia, February 2020

"I'm tired of hillbillies bashing Socialism as if they knew what it was. But, damn it, they love being reamed by Capitalism because of the lies we're told every day. And yet, they love them some Communist Jesus!"

– Oblio's Cap, commenting on: https://www.wonkette.com/europeans-appear-unimpressed-with-our-beautiful-american-health-care-choices

 

Readers will recall that in Davos earlier this year, Steven Mnuchin, a pompous, overblown high voodoo priest of neoliberal economics, suggested that Greta Thunberg needed to study economics in college before lecturing the U.S. on fossil fuel investments. Greta's response was, in my view, highly restrained. My response to Mnuchin is this: You, Sir, have shit for brains and need to go back to elementary school to learn basic arithmetic then to high school to learn basic physics then to college to learn basic climate science before lecturing Greta on fossil fuels. Failing that you need to shut the fuck up.

 If I was asked to define neoliberal neoclassical economics in a nutshell, it would be this: privatisation of profits and socialisation of losses.  Or perhaps we should adopt Al Capone's definition of capitalism being the legitimate racket of the ruling class.

This article, part 2 of the Economic Oil Nexus, delineates exactly how insane and amoral the neoliberal, neoclassical, neocolonial, neoconartist economists or N4Cons are. EONflowchart2 shows how the peaking of conventional oil led to the frenzied extraction of unconventional (UC) oils in a desperate attempt to keep businesses as usual, a dying animal, on terminal life support. The high energy (= high monetary) costs of UC oil extraction, transportation and processing ensured from the get go that UC projects could never be profitable, hence perverse incentives were employed to facilitate such madness. There was no clear evidence of planned collusion between the UC oily fraudsters and their equally fraudulent financiers (unlike the invasion of Iraq where there was clear collusion between the corporations, especially Halliburton, the politicians – who were in fact revolving door corporatists – and the commercial media, to perpetrate that war crime). Nevertheless the fortuitous unholy convergence of economic “stimuli” such as quantitative easing, ZIRP and NIRP magically conjured up enormous liquidity, which was eagerly gobbled up by big business borrowers to be defecated down the black toilet of UC oil extraction. This has indeed forestalled the decline of global net oil availability (with horrific emissions and environmental consequences) but has also ensured that global economic collapse, when it does occur, will be much more abrupt and catastrophic than otherwise. Collapse has merely been postponed for now, but is certain to occur when the EROEI of conventional oil inevitably falls off a cliff (if not sooner due to the bursting of monumental financial bubbles).

Other socio political issues aggravated by the N4Con agenda are also summarised on that chart. The rise of fascist, racist, right wing extremists is a predictable result of the resource constraints resulting from Peak Oil which manifest in the form of economic hardships, which the N4Cons have inflicted entirely on the poor and middle classes. However resource curtailment/destruction is also being exacerbated by worsening climate chaos which has caused the loss of houses and businesses, food and water disruptions, warfare and refugee outflows from the most vulnerable locations.

To understand our present precarity and worsening inequality we need to understand the dictums of Neoliberal Economics which have been imposed on the world by the USA (along with their partners-in-crime the AngloZionists) ever since WW2 by various mechanisms: the bribery of banana republic dictators or the imposition of regime change on targeted countries via CIA engineered assassinations or astroturf revolutions or US military bombings or invasions (in order to install US compliant puppets). John Perkins outlined those tactics in detail in his New Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

The prevailing establishment (viz the World Bank, IMF, WTO, all Western industrial economies and universities, the stooge media etc) have declared "TINA!" (There Is No Alternative!), thus shutting down any possible debate.

In part one I stated that the N4Cons are bonkers. Here are my justifications for that assertion:

N4Con artistry is predicated on these delusions, lies and deceptions:

  1. Infinite growth is an indisputable, absolute, endless requirement and can never be argued against (those preposterous claims by radical Greenies that our planet is finite must be seen for the reckless, left wing, inner-city, latte sipping, raving lunacy that it is)

  2. Externalities (pollution, ecosystem destruction, global warming, genocide of native peoples, etc.) are to be ignored. They do not affect me (the privileged rule-making 0.1%) here and now, hence they do not exist. If we are ultimately forced to acknowledge them, we must find some way to commoditise, monetise or financialise them e.g. cap and trade of carbon emissions, carbon offsetting, patenting the genomes of native plants and peoples etc.

  3. Money can be created out of nothing by governments (by issuing bonds) and banks (the fractional reserve system of homoeopathic money) which can then be loaned out as debt.

  4. Debt makes up the majority of money and money drives all incentives. No other human motivations exist: people are driven by money, money, money only and by nothing else.

  5. Interest charged on debt forces indebted businesses (essentially all businesses) to grow, which therefore drives growth of the national GDP, which is the indisputable sole arbiter of success, the holy grail which must be pursued at all costs.

  6. Natural disasters or war require rebuilding and repair of infrastructure which drive up GDP, a good thing. Funeral expenses also contribute to the GDP. Those ungrateful Iraqis should thus thank us for destroying their infrastructure and killing their people. The invasion in 2003 was certainly a good thing for Halliburton, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin &c. According to US law, corporations are people and you need to be aware that people have feelings, so please do not criticise Halliburton &c because that will hurt their feelings. As for the Iraqis, they are subhuman towel-heads, so fuck them.

  7. Energy is merely a commodity which can be created out of nothing. Given the proper monetary incentives to stimulate innovation, anything and everything is possible!

  8. Therefore energy considerations are subservient to and indeed are irrelevant to economic considerations

  9. All economic participants operate on the basis of perfect information, perfect rational self interest and perfect competition. By definition they can never do anything to harm their own self interests.

  10. A market entirely free of regulation therefore ensures optimality. We have proven this by using elegant mathematical formulae using assumed inputs from axiom number 9 above.

  11. Asbestos does not cause cancer, people cause cancer.

  12. Reducing taxes on the rich, who are the source of all wealth creation, encourages them to consume more and to create more jobs and hence increases national wealth. Hence everyone must repeat these religious mantras, "the poor must feed off the table scraps of the rich" and "a rising tide lifts all boats".

  13. The physical laws of Nature (such as the first and second laws of thermodynamics) do not apply to Economics. Economists know everything about everything (having fabricated really impressive theoretical mathematical models which are internally beautifully consistent) far better than any Scientists. Those pathetic Scientists depend on real world observations before devising their mathematical models1, which they capriciously abandon or modify should such models fail to predict real world outcomes. Scientists only accept paradigms which are both internally and externally consistent with Reality, which makes them weak. Strong Economists unburdened by Reality should therefore determine National and International policies, not pathetic weak Scientists.

  14. It is easier to imagine the Extinction of Humanity than the end of Neoliberal, Neoclassical Economics, hence the former is preferable. (I actually paraphrased the popular quote which is: It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism which was attributed to both Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek. Nevertheless we need to sharpen our focus and be absolutely clear: predatory industrial capitalism is relentlessly driving humanity towards extinction.)

If you are incredulous that such insane, amoral "axioms" could possibly form the belief system of the N4Cons, then you surely are a sensible person, however you do not fully realise how utterly crazed their ideology is. OK, I made up item number 11 myself, but it is not far from the truth. Unchecked, unregulated “free” market ideologies enable unbridled access of hazardous items, including military assault rifles, to the lowest common denominators of society in the name of “choice” and “freedom” (translation: choice and freedom for predatory capitalists to profit from the death and misery of ordinary people)

Please note that I do not advocate the abandonment of the discipline of Economics (which however needs to be more disciplined to be called a discipline). An understanding of real world Economics is vital to facilitate material well-being. But I do assert we need to abandon N4Con artistry which is quite simply institutionalised amoral fraud designed to funnel wealth from the poor to the rich and is also relentlessly driving us towards Extinction.

Here is a summary of the 5 biggest lies of global capitalism: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/lies-of-global-capitalism-guy-standing/

Here is proof that the N4Con ideologies violate scientific realities and hence are, not to put too fine a point on it, off-the-wall, loony tunes garbage: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-economics-violate-th/

For those N4Cons who scream “TINA!” I suggest they take off their blinders and look at the Scandinavian high taxing yet highly competitive socialist / regulated capitalist systems which have delivered the highest standards of living and highest levels of happiness to their populations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report#2019_report

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/sanna-marin-finland-nordic-model-does-american-dream-better-wapo-2020-2?op=1&r=US&IR=T

Yes Virginia, successful mixtures of socialism and regulated capitalism do exist, not only in Scandinavia but also in France, Germany, Canada, Australia and NZ which provide universal health care irrespective of any citizen's ability to pay. And here is the biggest mammoth in the room, a highly regulated ginormous system which has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and single handedly propped up the world economy after the GFC of 2009, a system that the N4Cons have no idea what to make of and therefore choose to denigrate at every turn: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/neoliberalism-has-met-its-match-in-china/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/china-overtakes-us-for-healthy-lifespan-who-data/ar-AAy0Vhd

Some rightwingnut Troll looking to find fault with this article will probably bring up the irrelevant issue of COVID19, a big problem no doubt, but one which will inevitably be overcome in time. Are there any other countries out there that can build a brand new, fully functioning 800 bed hospital within 10 days? Meanwhile Trump continues to undermine the funding of the CDC, of scientists and of clinical research. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/31/us-coronavirus-budget-cuts-trump-underprepared

The prostitute talking heads of the establishment condemn Bernie Sanders because they say he will bankrupt America from his reforms such as healthcare for all. All I can say about those useful idiots is that their pants on fire and they have no regard for facts, reality or rigorous analysis:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)33019-3/fulltext

https://www.mintpressnews.com/91-percent-scientific-papers-medicare-for-all-save-money/264189/

So wake up you shit-for-brains N4Con jackasses! You Chicago and Austrian school dickheads! There ARE alternatives which DO EXIST in the REAL WORLD and WORK far far better than your corrupt, duplicitous, parasitic, genocidal, exploitative and self serving conartistry.

Of all the sins of the N4Cons, quite apart from the war they are waging against Life itself on this planet http://triplecrisis.com/neoliberalism-and-climate-change/ , there is one sin which is, right here, right now, undermining their own Capitalist foundation. The N4Cons in their syphilitic Trumpian mindsets, dazzled by their own self proclaimed brilliance as stable geniuses, have failed or refused to acknowledge the very source of their wealth: namely the working class producers who are in fact also the most important consumers. The N4Con strategy of funnelling wealth to the parasitic rich from the hard working producers (who are simultaneously being crushed by harsh austerity, thus destroying their ability to consume), bears the seeds of the system's own destruction. What is the point of generating products and services if nobody can afford to buy those products and services? The Cambridge economist, Ha-Joon Chang (not a N4Con) wrote that austerity has never worked: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/04/austerity-policy-eurozone-crisis

Henry Ford understood way back in the days of the Model T that to stimulate the sales of his cars he needed to ensure there were customers who could afford to buy it. That was why he paid his workers salaries well above the population average, so they could buy those Model Ts while still enabling Ford to make a profit. Ford became a multimillionaire by caring for and nurturing his golden goose2, his workers.

Modern day Robber Barons not only lack any empathy for their workers, they are actively killing their golden goose by destroying collective bargaining, destroying employment benefits such as health insurance, destroying job security (the new “gig” economy) and by keeping pay packets below a living wage, forcing the working poor to take on multiple jobs to the detriment of their family lives, thus producing a new generation of neglected, angry, resentful, impoverished, malnourished offspring with no options, who are often forced to resort to crime. All justified by the dictums of the N4Cons. Never was there a more perfect example of a parasite actively working to kill its host.

This article is not a polemic against all economists, only the N4Cons. We need economics as a discipline but it needs to be properly grounded in Reality to be considered even a “soft” science. Hard scientific principles of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and yes, even the “soft” sciences of Sociology and Psychology, not hypothetical mathematical assumptions, must form the bedrock foundation of any economic theory if it has any hope at all of being relevant to the real world. The profit motive, competition and monetary rewards for innovation and creativity all have their place in an economy. However taken to extremes and hijacked by unproductive, self-serving parasites, the system becomes toxic and needs to be regulated by ethical, social and environmental concerns.

Thankfully, the world is finally waking up to the fraud of the N4Cons:

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/15/so-many-more-people-understand-meaning-neoliberalism-today-and-thats-huge-thing

https://countercurrents.org/2019/12/the-2019-nobel-prize-shows-why-we-need-to-dump-conventional-economics

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/09/survive-crushing-neoliberalism-world-needs-intersectional-solidarity

https://theconversation.com/neoliberalism-has-led-to-a-crisis-in-care-and-we-urgently-need-to-solve-it-107920

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/mexico-is-showing-the-world-how-to-defeat-neoliberalism/

There are many economists I do respect, to name a few: Richard Wolff, Michael Hudson, Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Stiglitz, Steve Keen, Yanis Varoufakis, Richard Deniss and of course Herman Daly. They are all advocates for environmental protection and the fairer distribution of wealth in societies. Unfortunately apart perhaps from Daly, most do not adequately take into account energy considerations and resource and waste constraints when working out economic theory. That is why, although I have great admiration for Varoufakis who is a masterful orator (and I do believe his policies, if implemented, would help mitigate much of the horrific suffering that millions of ordinary people will face on this downslope of the Hubbert curve), his green new deal is doomed to failure if it is predicated entirely on large scale centrally controlled so-called renewable energy production and distribution, and if it ignores the depletion of high EROEI energy sources.

The first five principles underlying the transition to renewable energy must be:

  1. Reduce consumption and increase efficiency

  2. Reduce consumption and increase efficiency

  3. Reduce consumption and increase efficiency

  4. Reduce consumption and increase efficiency

  5. Reduce consumption and increase efficiency

The best way to achieve that is by decentralised, locally generated renewable energy with the shortest possible transmission distance eg from solar panels on a roof to the electrical sockets of that very same house (via battery), which will also render you immune to grid interruptions caused by climate chaos. Equally important is the local production of food. Above all however, we need to pare down this bloated monstrosity called the Economy and pursue degrowth: http://www.feasta.org/2019/10/03/the-school-of-economics-as-a-suicide-academy/ to try to live within the limits of Nature.

Taking a step back from those specific recommendations however, what principles should we base real world Economics on, which all scientists can agree about and which would confer at least a modicum of credibility to Economics?

Using the definition of Material Wealth as having easy access to a wide variety of high quality goods and services, I assert, based on actual world realities, that:

  1. The production of all material goods and the delivery of all real services require the input of energy

  2. Energy sources and flows follow the physical laws of thermodynamics which are absolutely indisputable and inviolable

  3. Material goods are all derived from natural resources which are all derived from the environment.

  4. If we fuck up our environment we will fuck up ourselves

  5. Therefore preservation of the environment (which includes having a stable climate, which was the basis of the Holocene and enabled humans to pursue agriculture) MUST be a keystone principle of Economics

  6. Endless growth on a finite planet is impossible, hence steady state Economics (eg transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, transition from mining to 100% recycling, in general the adoption of closed loop systems) should have been employed well before overshoot in order to avoid disaster. Key principles would in particular have been to limit population and limit consumption and waste production to well within the carrying capacity of our finite planet.

    There is nothing new about the above and principle number 6 was clearly expounded to us way back in 1972 with the publication of “The Limits to Growth”, which was viciously pilloried by the mainstream economists3. As we are now far past overshoot by all parameters worth measuring, disaster is absolutely inevitable. Hence those smug N4Cons can pat themselves on the back that they have won a conclusive victory and their prize is the guaranteed die-off of billions of people this century and possible near term human extinction.

CONCLUSION: Yet again I can only exhort the reader, if you are able, to set up or join a remote off-grid community in a climate resilient location and to grow as much food for yourselves as you can. Trying will not guarantee success but not trying will guarantee failure.

G. Chia, Feb 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Scientific models do require certain underlying assumptions to be made, however unlike economic models, scientific axioms must be based on the physical realities of the real world. For example, the Limits to Growth scientists made the assumption that it is impossible to have infinite growth in a finite system (our planet), an axiom shown to be inviolable in reality whether considering bacteria in a petri dish, yeast in a vat, reindeer on St Matthew Island or cancer in a human body. Neoliberal economists however saw fit to dispute this reality, based on the fact that the N4Cons have shit for brains. Other indisputable scientific axioms are the laws of thermodynamics, which cannot be violated*. All real world economic activities require energy inputs and when total net energy availability plateaus, further real economic growth becomes IMPOSSIBLE. Oil is the keystone energy commodity, required to manufacture and produce all other types of energy generation (whether nuclear power stations, hydroelectric dams, wind farms, solar panels, mining of coal, extraction of gas and indeed the pursuit of more oil itself). UC oils provide a pittance of energy compared with conventional oil, at huge energy cost. This is why we will NEVER see a return to growth and why economic contraction and eventual collapse are guaranteed as the EROEI of conventional oil declines. This is a fact the N4Cons refuse to acknowledge or accept because they have shit for brains.

    *Disingenuous nitpickers may argue that some physical principles can theoretically be violated in the quantum realm or at relativistic extremes eg near light speed or near black hole gravitation. Such theoretical exceptions are completely irrelevant to the non-quantum, non-relativistic scale we live in.

  2. More precisely, golden goose refers to the goose which lays the golden eggs, not a goose made of gold, but you know what I mean.

  3. Did I mention that the N4Cons have shit for brains?

 

References for EON part1:

Debunking Steven Pinker:

Exposing Jordan Peterson:

A Diner Exercises his Voting Franchise

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Voting by K-Dog

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  March 1, 2020

Discuss this Video and Article at the Election Errata Table inside the Diner

 

Diner Admin and Author of the Chasing the Squirrel Blog K-Dog who lives in thr Super Tuesday staate of Washington cast his Ballot today in one of the Ballot Boxes sprinkled around the city of Renton, which is one of the Seattle Suburbs.  Nowadays there is no more going to the local Elementary School and going inside a Drape Covered Booth and pulling a lever.  First they went to Postal Mail voting, then when that turned out to have a lot of problems (not to mention election fraud), they started dropping down these boxes around town where you go to drop down your vote anytime after you get your Ballot in the mail.  Obviously there still can be Fraud with this system also, but hopefully it is slightly less.

Here on the Diner mosst of us make no secret of who we support in an election, and Diner Support leans heavily toward Bernie Sanders & Liz Warren.  A couple of Bloomberg Supporters sprinkled in also.  About nobody supprts Uncle Joe Biden, and DEFINITELY there are no Diners who support Trumpovetsky.  lol.  Or at least they won't admit it publicly.

Mayor Pete Buttegieg also quit the race today, cutting down the number of so-called "moderate" Democrats (really corporate sellouts), which should help Uncle Joe at the DNC, but a Brokered Convention still looms as a possibility.  In that sort of scenario, the "Super Delegates" become very critical.  A Unified Ticket of Bernie & Liz also is a possibility., with the one with the higher number of delegates taking the POTUS spot, and the other one as Veep.

As for me, although I support both Bernie & Liz, regular Diners know I don't vote.  I never have.  At the age of 11 years sold right after returning from Brazil, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.  At that moment, I lost hope that the Amerikan political process would ever be fair and I decided not to participate in it that way.  I do however make my voice heard, and have done so since my teenage years as a Pirate Radio Talk Jockey when I excoriated Tricky Dick Nixon on my show every saturday night after midnight, when we fired up the Transmitter.  We only reached Queens and Long Island motly, although we could reach Manhattan if we turned the antenna around.

Today with the internet, the potential is there to reach many more people than that.  Thus I run the Doomstead Diner.

 

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