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The Week in Doom January 26

 

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 26, 2020

"People who claim guns make America safer are currently threatening violence and are openly threatening to use their guns to kill Americans they disagree with and shoot down the democratically elected government. This rally is a perfect example of why these murderous fanatics shouldn't be allowed to have guns, ever, or carry them anywhere near the rest of us." –Jim Wright


The most important doom-related story from my perspective this week was the so-called "gun rally" in Richmond, Virginia on Monday.  Richmond had not seen so many armed men downtown since it fell to Grant in 1865.

Since my daughter lives and works in Richmond, and reported meeting some of the attendees out on the town on Sunday night, I took a more than casual interest in the proceedings. The response of many Richmond natives to the arrival of heavily-armed mob was to close their downtown businesses, including the entirety of Virginia Commonwealth University, which suspended all activities for the day, including internships and clinical placements; a university statement made clear that this was in response to the threat, not the federal holiday. NBC reported that some residents of a historically black neighborhood left town entirely for the day—which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So much for their rights.

And the grievance? After decades of a 20-year Republican choke hold, the Virginia state legislature reverted to Democrat control in the wake of Novembers' elections and were planning to enact common sense gun legislation. Thus the “tyrants” who had earned the rally-goers' opprobrium  had been democratically elected.

One of the major issues that propelled Democrats to victory was the promise of gun-control legislation, particularly after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach left 12 city residents dead and four others wounded in May 2019. For all their loud objection to “tyranny,” the purpose of the armed crowd was to thwart the will of an electorate that had outvoted them. Virginians’ overall enthusiasm for gun control measures has not waned since last year’s election; a poll conducted in December revealed that Virginia voters strongly support requiring background checks on all gun sales, 86% to 13%, and passing a “red flag” law to remove guns from someone who may harm someone, 73% to 23%

Join me in another chorus of, "trying to overturn the results of an election."

Gun enthusiasts and their fellow-traveler race warriors had been planning for their so-called "boogaloo" for MLK Day. Fat Orange did his part by using his stubby fingers to get Uncle Fud to climb off his niece (or his nephew) and come to Richmond for the party.  Trump Times Scare-Mongering Tweet for Maximum Impact as White Supremacists Prep for Richmond Rally. Trump’s social-media eruption warned Virginians that their 2nd Amendment rights are “under attack,” and offered a sarcastic “thank you” to Virginia Democrats who will “take your guns away.”

Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!

169K

5:22 PM – Jan 17, 2020

Twitter Ads info and privacy

Earlier in the week prior to the demonstration, the FBI arrested six alleged members of a white-supremacist group on gun charges, in part out of concern that they planned to attend the Richmond rally and incite violence. 

In the runup to the event, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government far-right organization associated with the militia movement, purportedly published a message, a copy of which came into my hands. (The group describes itself as a non-partisan association of current and former military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police take in order to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." They are immune to irony.) Some excerpts:

We need LEO [law-enforcement officers] and military veterans to volunteer to help us on the ground at the ARMED rally in the streets of Richmond, VA on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 (not in Gov. Northam’s absurd disarmed slave pen – out in the streets with the hardcore patriots who will NOT be disarmed).

You do NOT have to be an Oath Keepers member to help.  Just be a qualified and trained LEO or military veteran who can keep your head and is physically capable of defending others.  If you are in driving range of Richmond, VA, please come help…

Oath Keepers will NOT be entering Northam’s absurd slave pen, and we urge all other patriots to likewise refuse to disarm and go through metal detectors just to attend a “gun rights rally.”  A disarmed gun rights rally in VA is an absurdity and an abomination.  As Patrick Henry would say, “Forbid it almighty God!”  Tens of thousands of American patriots agree, and we will all be outside of Northam’s sheep pen/slave pen in the streets of Richmond, standing in defiance and protest…

Unfortunately, VCDL has chosen to ask that 10,000 gun owners disarm and go inside Northam’s sheep pen/slave pen, with the rest remaining armed out in the streets.  We disagree with this decision.  It sends entirely the wrong message.  It lets Northam and his fellow-traveler oath breaking domestic enemies of the Constitution in the VA legislature know that they CAN disarm at least some Virginians, because they already did on Jan 20, 2020. …

Defiance and refusal, not compliance and submission are the proper responses.  As the founders said, resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

The communication goes on and on in this vein, at absurd length. The point being that any attempt at gun legislation is not only illegitimate but tantamount to fascism, and the only moral choice for patriots is an armed refusal to comply with the proposed laws of a duly-elected legislature. This sounds less like a "well-regulated militia"  than an armed insurrection looking for a command structure via email in the days before it assembles to muster.

So precisely what is the complaint of these heavily-strapped members of the Church of Perpetual Grievance? Was King Northam planning to confiscate their weapons and their hands?  What "tree of liberty" needed watering with the blood of tyrants?

Virginia gun laws have been notoriously lax. Under Republican control, Virginia lawmakers successfully made the commonwealth the place that illegal gun traffickers boasted was the absolute best place for them to do business. Virginia had a law on the books for 19 years limiting gun purchases to one a month, but — despite its success in helping to curtail the illicit gun trade and an appeal from Virginia Tech families — it was repealed in 2012. Efforts to restore the limit, as well as enact other common-sense measures with popular support, such as universal background checks, were killed by a General Assembly captive to the gun lobby. Many of the Dems who won election in November ran on passing common sense gun legislation.

Here are the Draconian measures advanced in the Virginia House of delegates this week:

  • Limiting handgun purchases to once a month
  • Universal background checks on gun purchases
  • Allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas
  • A red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

By any measure, these are pretty anodyne, common sense measures and are popular with upwards of 85 per cent of the electorate. The House did NOT take up an assault weapon ban. In an era when any gun rights legislation is styled as a "power grab" by the vigilantly paranoid, it becomes increasingly difficult to take their arguments seriously.


The good news is that no one died in Richmond. But not for lack of trying. Talia Lavin wrote That Pro-Gun Rally in Virginia Wasn’t Exactly “Peaceful,”  so let her describe the scene:

Fearing a repeat of the deadly violence that had gripped the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, three years earlier, governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and barred weapons from the Capitol grounds. Some 6,000 protesters grumblingly abided. But just outside the legions of police barricades, twice that number of people roamed the streets of Richmond bearing a bristling mass of rifles, from AR-15s to massive Barrett sniper rifles. Some wore skull masks; others waved Confederate flags. Members of hate groups like the League of the South and the American Guard, as well as the Proud Boys, mingled openly; some of the latter were wearing patches that said “RWDS”—an acronym for “Right-Wing Death Squad.” Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones gave a speech from a Terradyne battle tank. Adding to the bellicose mood, some attendees paraded with a massive guillotine as a prop, and others held up an effigy strung on a noose, emblazoned with the slogan, “Thus always to tyrants.”

Earlier the previous week, the FBI detained three members of neo-Nazi terror group The Base, who had planned to attend the Virginia rally, armed with a home-built, functioning fully-automatic rifle capable of firing several rounds at a time, survival gear, and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. They had planned to open fire into the crowd. The threat of violence in Richmond, coupled with the arrest of these neo-Nazis, sent other groups into hiding. Thus,

what abounded, in that armed and insurrectionist sea of humanity, was the promise that bloodshed might happen at any time, should the will of the mob be thwarted. America’s exceptional tolerance towards armed white gunmen—its brooking of gun-toting militias around the country, and the po-faced seriousness with which the media takes claims of “freedom” when it comes to the right to own weapons of mass slaughter—is entirely restricted to this demographic.

Imagine the response if 22,000 heavily armed black Americans descended on, say Atlanta? We've seen this movie before. When Black Panthers started showing up armed and en masse in California on the 1960s, then-Governor Ronald Reagan proposed gun control. 

Any attempt to assert that the presence of 22,000 heavily armed men is NOT an attempt to intimidate is simply laughable. What was it intended to be? A prayer meeting? No, it was a white supremacy cycle jerk and bro-fest. Mission accomplished. And the Democratic-controlled General Assembly disposed of the Republican gun bills the following day via legislative procedure. 


Open-carry cultists notwithstanding, it seems to me that openly brandishing a weapon on, say an early morning convenience store run is just sending a message of intimidation. Unless you are making a night bank deposit from a club, or live in a wilderness area with bears, there is little need to carry a weapon that enables you to injure or end a life on demand. I wrote about this several years ago when my wife went to a convenience store and encountered a male shopper strapped for his shopping occasion.  (The Open-Carry Cargo Cult)

Scaring the shit out of a middle-aged woman trying to buy cigarettes at eight on a Sunday morning is PRECISELY the point of open carry, in the same way as is the presence of 22,000 heavily armed people to protest gun control laws.

So then you start to wonder why; why the need to intimidate? Any amateur psychologist/Monday Morning quarterback can pull together the same half-dozen reasons as I. Refer to the article referenced below for at least one set of reasons: "I have nothing going in my life, few prospects, and less of a future– but I'm filled with rage and I can afford a knockoff AR-15 and a Halloween outfit."

Americans have the right to own guns. And no one– anywhere– is proposing otherwise. But ownership of a gun does not confer permission to intimidate others, overthrow the government whenever you please, or even win all the arguments. The Second Amendment is for defense of the Republic, NOT nullification of democracy. We've already had the "nullification" argument in this country, and the bad guys lost, decisively, first at Gettysburg, and later at Appomattox.

The Second Amendment also calls for "a well-regulated militia." The gathering in Richmond was not a "militia" so much as an armed mob, the purpose of which was to intimidate. What the armed mob either failed to understand or ignored was that if it weren't for their fanatical obsession with guns, their endless threats of violence and their attempts to intimidate, there would be little reason for the very laws they oppose.


“Shit-Life Syndrome,” Trump Voters, and Clueless Dems

Getting rid of Trump means taking seriously “shit-life syndrome”—and its resulting misery, which includes suicide, drug overdose death, and trauma for surviving communities.

Ohio is home to many shit-life syndrome sufferers. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton lost Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to Trump. She got clobbered by over 400,000 votes (more than 8%). She lost 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Trump won rural poorer counties, several by whopping margins. Trump got the shit-life syndrome vote.

Will Hutton in his 2018 Guardian piece, “The Bad News is We’re Dying Early in Britain – and It’s All Down to ‘Shit-Life Syndrome’” describes shit-life syndrome in both Britain and the United States: “Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security.”

When you have little sense of agency in your life, one or several McJobs, and fewer prospects for improvement, walking around with your manhood strapped to your hip or slung over your shoulder, escapism from the realities of day to day life is appealing. For some it's comic books or video games; for others drugs and opiods; and for others, perhaps, guns.


Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight

“It is now 100 seconds to midnight.”  Such was the ominous headline Thursday from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists after moving its Doomsday Clock ahead 20 seconds.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists makes the decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made each year in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

Areas cited by Rachel Bronson, this year's President & CEO,  include: how a retreat from arms control creates a dangerous nuclear reality, an insufficient response to an increasingly threatened climate, increased threat of information warfare and other disruptive technologies, and suggestions for how the world should respond.

"We move the Clock toward midnight because the means by which political leaders had previously managed these potentially civilization-ending dangers are themselves being dismantled or undermined, without a realistic effort to replace them with new or better management regimes. In effect, the international political infrastructure for controlling existential risk is degrading, leaving the world in a situation of high and rising threat."

Like the 15 year old Greta Thunberg who has become a punching bag for superannuated (and superprivileged) old men at Davos this week, I expect nothing.

But Fat Orange still expects his Nobel Peace Prize for not launching a reign of nuclear-tipped terror on Tehran.


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.

 

Henry the 8th: 8 Years of Collapse on the Doomstead Diner

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  January 19, 2020

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Image result for isaac newton Despite the title of this article, it has absolutely ZERO to do with Henry 8th, King of England in the early part of the 16th Century, despite the fact it was a very interesting time period, just predating the real birth of Capitalism which didn't arrive until the 17th Century and the founding of the Bank of England by Master of the Mint at the time, Sir Isaac Newton.  Yes, that is the same Isaac Newton famous for Newtonian Mechanics, his Gravity Equation, the Apple falling on his Head and so forth.  His most significant achievement though was that along with the German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, they simultaneously invented The Calculus.  You know, that Math class most of you never took, or if you did you only did so because it was required and you hated it and only did the first year of it on Differentiation and Integration.  Not so with me, I LOVED mathematics, and took many further courses in Differential Equations (known fondly by Geeks as "DiffEq") and Partial Differential Equations (PDE), Matrix Algebra, Thermodynamics…yada, yada, yada.  It is Leibniz' notation we use today, but all the principles are the same, and in Newton's case, he applied them to the Monetary System of Jolly Old England, way back when.  This maneuver essentially took England off the need to use Gold in transactions, and then enabled the development of Markets using various form of notes to do Bizness.  Along with their powerful Navy of the time, this is what enabled the tiny island of Brittannia to leapfrog themselves over the much larger nation of Spain, which was at the time well ahead in the race for raiding the resources of the "New World", including of course vast quantities of Aztec Gold. In modern market terms,you can think of Isaac as the first "Quant", and the Calculus as the first "Algo".  Anyhow, I will save this history lesson on mathematics, economics and monetary systems for another day.

This week though has many important Collapse Events ongoing which I might have written about or ranted on in a video.  There is Impeachment of course, impending Brexit, Saber-Rattling with Iran & North Korea, Trade nonsense with China, Wildfires in Oz, the cross-country Snowstorm, etc, etc, etc.  All worthy topics which we discuss all the time Inside the Diner.  However, NO, I didn't pick any of those topics to rev myself up to write and rant on, because there is a MUCH more important event impending here IMHO (lol).  In February, we mark the 8th Anniversary of the Founding of the Doomstead Diner by myself, Surly & our tech wizard of the time  Peter Offerman.  It has been an 8 year Roller Coaster ride here of highs & lows, good times & bad times for the Diners.  Somehow though, we made it and we are still here reporting on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  Unbeleivably to me at least, we survived so far for 8 fucking years and we are going stronger than ever, now getting Subscriptions from our numerous Lurkers! 🙂

So today's Doomstead Diner/Collapse Cafe Sunday Brunch Special is an ANNOUNCEMENT of our Anniversary Celebration Week, which will commence February 9th and run until February 16th.  I invite all Diners, Lurkers and Blog contributors to discuss aspects of Collapse with me leading up to this week, with text, audio only or video (if you are comfortable going "on camera").  I explain the details of how to contact me on this if you are not an active member of the Diner Forum in the above video, along with other details of how the celebration week will be run.

LONG LIVE THE DOOMSTEAD DINER!

SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

 

 

Collapse of Global Industrial Civilization is Nigh

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 12, 2019

The Price of Oil

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Collapse is now certain. It has been certain for a long time. But even collapse aware people have a hard time admitting this hard truth. Tipping points are without question crossed. Arctic methane is being released. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is on a fast climb. Perhaps this is not news to you? Perhaps you are a rare individual who knows atmospheric CO2 is now 0.55% more than it was one year ago.

CO2 is rising fast. Half a percent a year now. A rather important thing to know. A fact that should be known by more than a few people. People who don't know what to do with the information once they have it it. Thinkers who do not act. Half a percent a year should be common knowledge and the subject of talk everywhere we go. In another culture it would be. Not in America. This culture prefers to die.

Half a percent a year and increasing with no decrease possible. Atmospheric CO2 concentration does not go down. It can't go down and geoengineering is a child's fantasy. Geoengineering is a dodge to sidestep reality and is an insult to science.

Acting like collapse has not begun has crossed a line in America. From a personal point of view you as an individual may have not crossed the line yet. Individual mileage does vary. We have different lives so we do not all share the same culpability and awareness. But you are reading this so your culpability is increasing. I am sorry about that. Enough evidence is out there now. Ignorance is no longer an excuse for anyone with any smarts. Not being collapse aware is an exercise in irresponsibility now. With abundant facts, not being collapse aware is no longer an exercise in ignorance.

Lines crossed collapse is now certain. It has begun and is underway. But there is something worse than collapse. The certainty of what happens if collapse is ignored. The certainty of our apocalypse. Apocalypse after collapse crosses the tipping point where all social order breaks down. Where the remnants of humanity live out a Mad Max future without relief until everyone dies.

The biosphere is pretty much gone. Everyone alive is too young to remember vast forests and animal herds stretching as far as the eye can see. Nobody appreciates what the Earth has lost. In the last forty years half the insects on the planet have died. Extinctions are now commonplace as the web of life grows ever more fragile. Every generation a few people fought to save a chunk of environment. Every generation their planet eating brethren fought back. Success was never 100% so every generation lost biosphere. None of the loss ever comes back and the possibility of a total biosphere collapse now looms. Like a ratchet on a bolt that only turns a bolt in one direction, we ratchet away the Earth's web of life. Every year there is less forest and more people. The web does not renew. Now there are more people than the planet can support after our energy stores and materials deplete.

Yet so addicted are Americans to their telephones that they don't care if there are no bees anymore. Their phones, now smarter than the phone owners tell stories. Mechanical bee replacement robot stories. A soothing balm of technical porn. Devoid of any reality, this porn returns everyone to their phone addiction.

By weight people outweigh wild animals. By weight livestock outweigh people. Cows, pigs and goats, outweigh people and we outweigh all wild animals put together. Wild animals are now 4% by weight of all animals on Earth. The weight of poultry is three times more than the weight of all wild birds. Oceans have been 90% depleted of fish. Facts undeniably prove human population overshoot. But humans deny such facts. Humans have a special talent for denying facts.

Why people deny facts fascinates me. Social reasons are a huge influence but just being human is enough. Humans focus attention on goals. It is a survival thing. Focus attention on a goal and dismiss facts that are not relevant to your goal. Selective attention. Identify and ignore the trivial. This is part of concentrating on what is important. Two sides of the same coin of selective attention. But what is trivial is not always clear. Looping back to social reasons being a big influence and very nasty feedbacks result. Fantasy eclipses reality. Technical animals like no other human selective attention follows the pied-piper of technology with a blind faith. It takes a special effort to be aware that technology has any downside. Externalities are systemically ignored. Ignored because that is the efficient thing to do for the short term. 'Shit happens' is a common way to push away complicating awareness. Brains are always trying to be efficient. At the level of the human social machine which controls our destiny, systemic drive for efficiency results in inhumanity.

Projections are for a world with 10 billion people soon. I do not see this happening. Die-off will intervene before population grows that much. It would be nice if humans took control of their collective destiny. But that requires a solidarity that Americans do not have. It can't happen here. We are a divided nation unable to solve problems. Unable to solve problems, when resources deplete and the biosphere crashes, our nation will be in ruins.

We have not built community or authentic culture. Purposes we never endorsed suck away our daily energy. This makes for misery. Creating a life that is meaningful is the smart way to prepare for the end of the world. But for most of us this is impossible. Most of us sell our labor to earn enough to survive day to day. Mastery of life in America is imagined as escaping from your life. Vacation, retirement, a state lottery, even death. Happiness always seems to be somewhere else but the place you are at. The reality of the common man is debt and loss of agency. Freedom is only imagined.

Fossil fuels which built our society have failed us and there is no going backwards. Built for fossil fuels only our infrastructure can't be adapted for anything else. There are no substitutes for oil, coal, and gas. American trains unlike trains in Europe cannot be easily electrified. No substitute fuels can feed cloth or shelter the number of people now alive. Climate change, an ancillary but not a root cause of global industrial collapse, will aggravate existing problems.

Failure to prepare for new ways of life will mean no way of life in our future. Localised small scale food production is the best way to grow food. Superior in the absence of fossil fuels it is more efficient. It is more environmentally friendly. But the trend is for ever more steel, glass, concrete, and city. Away from local production.

Fossil fuels caused people to breed like bunnies in a meadow after shooting all the wolves. Now the meadow is full of bunnies. Soon nothing done, the bunnies will start to eat each other. I fear nothing will be done before it is too late.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday: Wildfire & War Edition

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on Sunday, January 5, 2020

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Text synopsis to come…  Right now I am doing heavy lifting for my Clan of Ruskies on Vikings and don't have time to write it up.  LOL….

 

OK!  I got  my Garrisons out working scarfing up Resources for my Clan, plus I took a very necessary NAP because I was up since about 4AM Alaska Time both playing my Game (Vikings: War of Clans) as well as cooking and producing the video at the head of this article.  Very BIZZY early morning for a retired cripple!  lol.

The Diner is really increasing again now in Readership as well as in new Authors for the Blog, and actually it gets kind of hard sometimes to wedge myself in, when I get so much quality material submitted by other Authors.  So these days, I am more of an Editor & Manager than I am Author, although I still produce a good number of my own Videos, which nobody else here at the moment is doing.  I still do write the occassional blog though as well.

This is all GOOD NEWZ!  I have written so much over the years it would take anybody years to read it all anyhow!  It's all in the Archives, and I doubt there exists a Collapse Subject I haven't already written on and analyzed.  There are of course ongoing Collapse Topics & Issues that crop up, but the other Diner Authors often cover them better than I can myself.  So I kick back and relax on this! 🙂  I can pitch in my 2 Cents with my Videos, which as long as my Cameras and fucking Computers are working right are much quicker to do!

Here in today's Sunday Brunch at the Diner video, in addition to the GREAT Brunch I fixed for myself with the bigger than average Bloody Mary (because it was a bigger than average Collapse Week with El Trumpo dropping the DEATH FROM ABOVE on the big swinging dick of the Iranian Military and escalating into WW3  further) and also because I bought a new REALLY BIG Skull shaped mug, ON SALE at Walmart last week! lol

In terms of subject matter for this vid, I discuss mainly the ongoing CATASTROPHY of Wildfires Down Under in Oz, which Diner John of Wallan covered in detail here recently, relating personal experience from BLACK SATURDAY of December 7th, 2009 (December 7th as you may recall was the "Day that will live in infamy as FDR put it, the ATTACK on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese which gave the excuse for the FSoA to enter WW2) when his own neighborhood in Oz was being ATTACKED by the wrath of Mother Nature.  JoW survived that attack, but he faces up to it again now to protect & defend his Doomstead.  All the Diners ship their Mental Energy to JoW to help him survive this one as well.

Then of course I just HAD to put my 2 cents in on the latest military BUFFOONERY by the Clown-in-Chief Donalditry Trumpovetsky who now has been shown with EVIDENCE that he is Vlad the Impaler's cocksucker (the Ruskies backed all his Loans from Deutchbank to launder money), which is how he stays out of Bankruptcy.  It's a MASSIVE Criminal Racket ongoing here as we come to the close of Industrial Civilization and the Age of Oil.

Black Saturday in Oz: December 7th, 2009

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Published originally on the Doomstead Diner January 4, 2019

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Black Saturday: 7th December 2009, Victoria Australia.


180 people died, 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) burnt,7,562 people displaced,Over 3,500 structures destroyed, including over 2,000 houses.

The statistics sound bad enough. They dont tell half the story.

The area:
I live in Wallan Victoria. This is the start of the “high country” 50km dirrectly North of the Melbourne CBD, with Pretty Sally Mountain (Tiny by any other continents standards), being the first major rise you come to. My 2 acre rural/ residential property is about half way up Pretty Sally.

To my North is the town of Kilmore, where one of the main fires started when some overheated power lines failed. East of Kimore is Whittlesea and Kinglake, where I regularly go to cut firewood eith in the local state forest or on a private property. From Kinglake to Marysville further East again is thinly populated mountainous bushland with samll towns and farms all along the outskirts of Melbourne. It had been a place where saw mills popped up in the late 19th century to feed growing melbourne, then migrant workers after WW2 built holiday cabins due to slightly cooler conditions and low prices. Plenty of hippies, loggers, farmers and retirees. Marysville is a tourist town with a small winter sky field nearby on Lake Mountain. Most of Melbourne’s water catchments are in this area due to relatively high rainfall and pristine bushland relatively close to the main population centres.

Image result for black saturday australia 2009 The lead up:
The weeks leading up to Black Saturday had been hot and dry. I was in one of my many “in between jobs” moments, and was driving a semi truck for a local recycling firm taking 40 foot containers to and from the Melbourne docks to pay the bills. Pretty cushy job in hindsight. Spent 8 hours of a 12 hour shift sitting in a plush Volvo cab waiting for containers to be loaded. All week I had been listening to the radio. All week we were told of the expected weather for Saturday to be worse than anything previously seen….. The week was bad enough, Every day over 40 degrees, and I think we had a 45 degree day which broke a record in the previous week.

I can remember looking at the ambient temperature reading on the dashboard of the truck while sitting on the blacktop at the docks in the line waiting to get unlaoded: 52 degrees! I jumped out of the truck to get the paperwork and it hit me like a hot iron. The radiant heat off the road actually burned the skin.

The BOM (Beaurea of Meterology) and the CFA (Country Fire Authority) had looked at the conditions and knew something really bad was coming. The FDI (Fire Danger Index) had literally gone off the scale. We were in uncharted territory. The usual warnings and preparations would be tottaly inadequate, as we all found out in hindsight.

Saturday was forecast for 100km Notherly winds, 45 degrees and very low humidity. The Area was tinder dry due to ongoing drought. In hindsight no one was prepared. Not by half.

The temperature on Saturday eventually hit 46 degrees and set a new record. No matter what you think, I can tell you that is fucking hot. Add 100km/h winds and thats a furnace. (115f and 60mp/h in the old scales).

Image result for black saturday australia 2009 Saturday:
Saturday started out hot and windy, as expected, and got worse as the morning went on. I worked from 6 in the morning and knocked off at lunchtime. I drove an old 1991 4 cylinder Holden Jackaroo 4WD (Isuzu trooper outside Australia. I still use it for firwood collection!), and was driving North along the Hume Highway, struggling to do 80km/h into the 100km/h hot headwind. About 20km from Wallan when I got a call from my wife: “There is a fire Wallan is being evacuated”.

I looked up and saw the relatively thin black plume of smoke from the Kilmore East fire in the distance and told her we are ok. Fire was to the NE and wind was dirrectly from the North. I though it would miss us, but suggested she call her uncle in Kinglake and warn them. More on this call later…

When I got home I started to get the hoses out and ready, fire extinguishers at each door and dressed me and my 2 lads head to toe in long sleeve cotton shirts and pants, boots and hats. I got them both on hoses and told them to walk up and down hosing the hedges around the house and each other, They made a bit of a game of it. In hindsight the lads were too young and we were ill prepared. Luck was with us that day. Other not so much.

It was so hot and the wind was so strong that literally a minute after hosing each other down we were dry. It was like standing in front of a hair drier on the hottest settings. Trees and plants we had watered the day before wilted in the heat despite having wet feet. They could not pump water up to the leaves fast enough. I grew up in the dry hot arid areas of Western NSW, so I was used to the heat. This was like nothing I remembered growing up.

Image result for black saturday australia 2009 The fire came 10km to the NE of our place. Then the wind changed to a Westerly a bit before 4pm from memory, and we watched as the fire went from being 1km wide fire front with 20km long flanks travelling South, pretty well following the Hume Highway to a fire front now 20km long travelling due East uphill into tinder dry thick bushland.

The local police Sergeant at Whittlesea later told us how he was trying to keep ahead of the fire front that day to warn and divert oncoming traffic. He was at Wallan East when the wind changed to a Westerly, and he drove his Ford Territory towards Wittlesea at 160 km/h (100mph) The fire beat him. The fire front was travelling much faster than the winds. The intense heat generated its own weather, with fire tornados and smoke cloud lightning reported.

We watched from my deck as the line of fire went up over the hills towards Kinglake and was gone within an hour. Everything in its path burnt almost instantly. Eucalyptus trees exploded as the heat boiled the oil out of the leaves and burned like a saturn 5 rocket engines with rolling fire balls travelling across the tree tops maybe 200m in front of the main fire front on the ground. This continual spotting way ahead of the fire front meant no fire break was big enough and fire fighters cound not attack the fire front as it soom engulfed them from all sides.

It was not a gentle rolling preductable fire. It was like a fan forced blacksmiths forge, but everywhere across the Eastern horizon. The landscape left behind was like a swept floor. No leaves or even ash. Just dirt and black tree trunks. The fire had burnt everything to fine ashes and the wind had blown it all away. Dense forest was now see through, with only blackened, leaf free trunks.

A mate of mine is a local volunteer CFA Captain. He said that day was the worst he had seen. They could not fight the fire front due to its speed and intensity. His words were; “If I put a crew in front of the fire, I am killing them.” When the wind change came he found himself in front of the fire. He and his crew took shelter in a local petrol station in Wandong of all places. He said the concrete car spaces around the bowsers was the only place that was not on fire! Once the fire front went past they went back to blacking out and mopping up.

Image result for kangaroo fire australia The fire hit Kinglake West where I cut firewood at an uncles place a bit after 4:00pm. The uncle and aunt who we had warned earlier, completely ignored our warning, and did everything wrong. They somehow survived. Many of their neighbours did not. They were all home watching TV, not listening to reports or news or keeping an eye on things, despite a week of warning leading up to the day. They saw the fire and smoke, panicked and jumped in the car and drove through it. At the main road, after an arguament they turned left. They survived when a turf farmer 2km down the road waved them in to his property along with about a dozen other cars and had them in the middle of his Instant turf paddock with the sprinklers going while alll around the fires raged. If they had turned right they probably would have died like so many others did that day. Their house burned down and they lost everything. This house had originally been the old Italian migrant grandfathers hoiliday house he built in the 60’s his son had inherited. It was a besser block walls with tin roof. Pretty fire resistant you would think. It took less than 25 minutes to burn by the owners account. The fire front went through and flattened everything, and was gone. The next door property owned by the Itlian migrant’s Brother, 60m away in a bit of a gully down by a creek survived unharmed. No one was home there. Luck of the draw.

The speed and ferocity of the fire that day is hard to imagine. You can see footage of flames horizontal for 20 or 30 meters, but it is still hard to comprehend. I saw a fire travel up over the horizon in real time in a matter of minutes. It traveled from here to Kinglake quicker than I used to ride it on my old 750 Honda, and we used to run that road pretty damn quick in the days before speed cameras were everywhere. It literally swept the landscape clean. The temperatures melted steel structures which offered little protection. There were no containment lines. The fire just went in the wind dirrection and nothing could stop it. The fire front was so fast it literally blew over some properties and gullies which survived, while all around them the intense heat generated from the winds destroyed everything once it caught alight. We found the ride on lawn mower at Kinglake some weeks later. It was in the middle of a patch of grass. All that was left of the motor was the steel crank sitting straight up in the air. The alloy Briggs & Stratton engine had melted away completely, and the thin metal floor and wheels had oxidised to rust.

I stayed up to midnigt that night keeping watch and listened to the radio broadcasts. Next day I called my parents who live interstate, as I do most Sundays, and without any warning broke down and cried on the phone remembering what I had seen. I still choke up telling the story of that day.

Image result for black saturday australia 2009 The Aftermath:
120 people died in the main Kinglake/ Whitlease/ Kilmore East fire. Around 400 injuries were reported. A lot more were psychologiclly affected. The uncle never recovered and is a shaddow of his former self with major nervous complaints and other health issues which I attribute to that day. A few weeks after the fire I was traveling through town with his son and we turned up the neighbours driveway only to be confronted by the tell tale sign of blue police tape across the drive. The neighbours did not live there any more. Pretty confrontling. We did not say much for the rest of the drive home. The local pre-school at Kinglake lost quite a few children. (Pre-school is usually 3 to 5 year olds) The aunty used to assist there before the fires. The Uncle and Aunt were quite religious before the fires. Now I am not so sure. Pretty well everyone in the area suffers from PTSD in my opinion.

The tourist town of Marysville to the East was the worst hit I saw. It was just wiped off the map. We visited about 12 months after the fires when the clean up crews had already been through and were shocked to see the whole town was just an empty paddocks with a few transportable huts set up where the main street shops were. It looked like a new subdivision had just been put in. Roads, gutters and light posts and no buildings where once had been a shpping strip and residential area. It only had 1 road in and out. There was significant loss of life at Marysville as well as the property damage.

For several years afterwards people were still living in caravans or tents trying to rebuild or just pick up the pieces where they could. The uncle stayed 2 years in the next door house his uncle, (the other brother), had built while his house was rebuilt to comply with new and supposedly better fire regulations.

For at least 12 months I regularly saw cars driving around with melted bumpers or scorched paint. Many people moved out of the area. Many people were not found, or if they were found could not be easily identified.

Image result for black saturday australia 2009 I wish I could say there were some lessons learned from that day. If there was they were very small and certainly not widely adopted. The area has now been rebuilt with more homes than before, and many young families are moving into the area as Melbourne grows, and one of the worlds worst housing bubbles forces people into cheaper areas they can better afford.

I have become very vigilant every summer since that day. I keep an eye on weather forecasts a week in advance and every year I do some basic fire prevention preps around the house. Mow lawns, check pumps, sprinklers and hoses, put extinguishers at doors, clean gutters, etc. Its not enough. Never will be. Only way to guarantee survuival on a day like that is to be not in the area. Every fire season we have local fires, the worst came within 200m of the house a few years back and we had choppers flying overhead bombing the front. I think I posted some photos of this a few years back. I had the sprinklers on and was preparing to defend the property. That day was hot but nothing like the conditions on Black Saturday.

So many people blame others for the shit storm that day. I still have to bite my tongue to not get into arguaments. The uncle and his wife blame everyone for their loss: The police did not warn us. The fire brigade did not warn us or save our house, The government did not allow land clearing. The grrenies would not allow enough back burning operation. I heard it all. It was all baseless bulllshit.

The week leading up to the fires was media saturation on how bad Satuday was going to be. No fire fighter could stop that blaze, and half the state was on fire so no one is going to get a personal warnign call or visit. There is only one answer; You have to help yourselves, and if you cant dont be there.

At least twice since black Saturday I have rung the uncle and warned them of fire in the area. To my amazement both times we got the same response as Black Saturday: We are ok you are panicking for nothing. I will not be calling anyone from now on. I will be busy patroling outside and watching the CFA warnings site. I will no longer concern myself with trying to help those who will not help themselves.

The fires affected me. I am usually pretty level headed and calm in a crisis, and have dealt with stressful and confronting scenarios calmly such as giving first aid to injured people after an accident on several occaisions, or preparign for fires in the area, or putting out a car fire in the city while others panicked! (Fucking heap of shit Landrover. Should have let it burn!)… It usually hits me afterwards. My property was not dirrectly impacted by the fires that day, but I still choke up remembering it or telling a story about it. It also down right makes me angry when people blame others for what happened that day and dont take any personal responsibility.

After the fires the State Governemnt gave a lot of assistance packages to local areas as well as individuals. All those who lost houses got a cheque for $50K to assist rebuilding. This tax payer money was generously given away to make it seem like the Governemnt had done something…. A lot of people did not have proper insurance in the fire area, and the Government sold it as a way of helping them get back on their feet. I have a problem with this. I went without to ensure my property was insured. Others saved on insurance and got $50K. Others had insurance, but still got the $50K.

The fire services introduced a new leel of fire danger in the aftremath of Black Saturday: Catastrophic. It pretty well means if a fire gets away your fucked. Only safe option is to be not in the area. Only safe way to be not in the area is leave the day before. The fires burn so hot and travel so fast that leaving once a fire has started in the area is deemed to be more dangerous than sitting tight. There were a lot of fatalities from people fleeing in cars that day who either crashed due to poor visability or who got caught in the fire storm and the car overheated and they died from the radiant heat.

Interestingly there were fewer major burns injuries after the fires than expected. I remember reading a medical article which said that as a percentage of casualties, major burns was much less than usual for bushfires. The accepted theory is that the speed and ferocity of the fires meant that those caught in the open did not survive. It was just too hot. Those who managed to take shelter survived with usually minor burns.

The Future:
There are fires every year around here. This part of the planet is the bushfire capitol of Australia, if not the world! There will be another Black Saturday soon. A day where any fire is not controlable. Maybe this year, or maybe the next, or the one after that. Climate change is real. Heat waves are becoming more regular and rainfall paterns are changing. We are now getting some 1 in 100 year weather events, either extreme hot or cold, wet or dry every 10 years or so, and every year seesm to be the hottest on record.

Population growth in Australia is still going strong, mainly due to high net migration. It the only way our politicians can engineer ecconomic growth to ensure they get re-elected. Sydney is getting land locked, and prices are rediculous even compared to Melbourne’s rediculous prices. Melbourne is now the fastest growing city in Australia, and it is expected to overtake Sydney in population in a few years. More and more outer suburbs are popping up to cater for the growing population adding to very fast urban sprawl. Low interest rates is causing one of the worlds biggest housing bubbles here in Oz making housing afordablity very low. More and more people are moving out to the mountain areas to take advantage of cheaper housing. More and more areas where we should not be building are getting subdivided and family homes are being built. It is a recipe for disaster.

Insurance companies are starting to wise up about fire insurance in high risk areas. Many companies will not give policies in high risk areas, or have jacked up premiums to be unafordable. As a result the Government is trying to guarantee insurance for areas where no company want to insure against fire, either through incentives or regulation. Either way once again us tax payers will foot the bill for fire damage in a fire zone. If the area is too risky to insure, it is too risky to live in!

When the next fire goes through it will be a another disaster.

This Week in Doom January 3, 2020


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2020

Conrad Brean: "You watched the Gulf War, what do you see day after day? The one smart bomb falling down the chimney. The truth? I was in the building when we shot that shot – we shot in a studio, Falls Church, Virginia. One-tenth scale model of a building."
– Stanley Motss: '"Is that true?"
– Conrad Brean: "How the fuck do we know? You take my point?” 

 ― From Wag the Dog, 1997 film  


On Thursday night, Trump ordered the assassination of Major General Qassim Suleimani, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, without any notification nor authorization from Congress, . The drone strike also killed four others outside Baghdad’s international airport. To attempt to put this in context, imagine China or North Korea assassinating the US Joint Chief of Staff outside the airport in Mexico City. Trump is pushing us to the brink of unnecessary war. When Trump entered office in 2016, he inherited one of the best chances in decades the US has had for peaceful relations with Iran. Three years later, with a cabinet full of ideologues and warmongers, he’s torn up a treaty and is now assassinating Iranian leaders.

To review the bidding: in the last few days, an Iranian-backed militia fired rockets at a base in Kirkuk Province, killing an American contractor and wounding several American servicemembers. The U.S. responded with air strikes that killed about two dozen militia members. Thousands of pro-militia protesters marched on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, trapping diplomats inside, vandalizing the compound, and burning part of it before dispersing. Trump promised Iran would “be held fully responsible” for the attack on the embassy, and made good on Friday.

The irony of an airstrike triggered in itself by another, different US airstrike is lost on everyone, especially in the corporate media. Trumpsuckers and other members of #TeamTreason will call this a defensive action, and will bleat the usual syllables. The idea that this strike will prevent future attacks on Americans and our interests around the world defies any recognizable logic.

If anything, our risk just went up manyfold. Pay attention to your corporate media in the coming days: Watch and listen how the same voices who sold the disastrous Iraq War will squat and squeeze out hot takes about how this was a "critical defensive action." It's such a defensive action that we are drop-shipping another 3500 soldiers to the Middle East: 3,500 additional U.S.. troops headed to Mideast as Iran threatens retaliation.

This is possible because Congress let it happen, because Congress has ceded authority over the military to the Executive Branch over several decades and administrations. Congress needs to reassert its constitutional authority, but is unlikely to do so any time soon..

With nothing more than an empty statement from the Pentagon and a tweet of an American flag, Trump is transparently and unequivocally Wagging the Dog and gambling with the safety of every Americans he pulls us to the brink of war with Iran. Now begins the speculation as to why. For a clue, consider Fat Orange's own body of work:


The strike was a reckless move by Trump — no one is remotely prepared for this kind of escalation with Iran. Fat Orange has unilaterally taken action that will result in war, almost certainly to distract from being impeached. Now Cadet Bone Spurs will anoint himself a "wartime president™." How long before he wears a field marshal's uniform?

As predicted, IN SO MANY WORDS, on the Doomstead Diner blog and forum: The Year in Doom 2019and on GEI, where John Lounsbury had the good sense to break it into two parts: The Great Culling: They Don't Give a Flying Fuck About You

I am among those who think that launching a gratuitous, meat-grinder war in spring of 2020 to self-anoint as a "wartime president™" is completely within Fat Orange's capability. It may already be part of his campaign plan, given the sheer evil of his administration ands the need to change the subject from impeachment.

For me here is the money shot:

If The Donald gets us into a big shooting war over in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the mandatory servitude of conscription will be required. It won’t be a turkey shoot like Iraq or Libya. It will be an existential threat, so all males —criminally inclined or not — between 16 and 45 will be inducted, same as they were after FDR tricked the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, or Johnson said the North Vietnamese attacked our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Who is going to rushing to enlist to fight a war for Iranian oil? Hard to imagine even a generation of red state deplorables tearing themselves away from game consoles and meth pipes to do that.


A brief historical discursion: most of us don't realize (because we weren't taught)  that the Roman Empire continued in force until 1453 via the Eastern Empire at Constantinople. It was the only organized state west of China to survive without interruption from ancient times until the beginning of the modern age. These people, who largely spoke Greek after the seventh century, called themselves "Romans" and called their realm "Romania." For them they were the Roman Empire.

Like most empires, its borders ebbed and flowed depending upon the competence of the emperors, the military, and blind luck. (Plague was always a wild card.)  In the 6th century, Justinian had recovered the west though Italy and North Africa, and east through Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean. Who stopped their expansion eastward? The Persians. 

Likewise, in the 8th century, Islam spread like a wildfire thought the Middle East and Africa. This gave rise to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area. The Ummayads were based in Syria and Damascus was their capital. Know who put the end to their rule in the eighth century? The Persians.

Anyone who thinks that Iran is going to do an "el foldo" like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq is sadly mistaken. Unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together via the Balfour declaration and held together by Saddam's brutality, Iran has a long, continuous history as a people and are not going to be exterminated quietly. Since Iran is surrounded by American bases, the outcome will never be much in doubt, but the costs will be extreme and the fighting scorched earth. Victory will be had, at the cost of your last grandson or granddaughter, so there is little doubt that Uncle Cracker will be looking for fresh meat.

I for one will be delighted to see Donzo Jr, Eric, Jared, Ivanka and Tiffany all leading the assault from the front lines. Let's also recruit the failsons of the One Percent to help lead the charge..


Michael Moore posted this on Facebook:

Hello fellow Americans. Do you know this man? Did you know he was your enemy? What? Never heard of him? By the end of today you will be trained to hate him. You will be glad Trump had him assassinated. You will do as you are told. Sit! Fetch! Jump! Get ready to die on your plane ride back home from the holidays. Get ready to send your sons and daughters to die in a new war. War makes the rich richer. War is good. War is a necessary distraction. War is peace. Trump is our Commander! Happy New Decade. It won’t be long now. Shhhh…sleep…there was no collusion…it was a perfect call…I just shot a man on 5th Avenue just because I can…I’m sorry, but due to this national emergency we’ve had to postpone the election…


As of Friday morning, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promised “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.” What form that takes is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, reports say Iraq descends into chaos. It is possible Iraq could ask the U.S. to withdraw its forces. That would be a setback for both the Trump administration’s effort to pressure Iran militarily, and the continuing effort to contain ISIS. Oh yeah, them. As of right now, given the Trump "administration's" contempt for traditional diplomacy,  no one can predict the broader consequences of a profound escalation in U.S.-Iranian hostilities.



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.

What Keeps You Going?

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 1, 2020

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink Inside the Diner

 

Offline Cam

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What keeps you going?
« on: December 31, 2019, 06:50:22 AM
 

Learning about all this stuff has made me quite a bit less cheery and optimistic than I used to be. That is completely understandable, but I (and my parents) am worried about getting myself into some mental rut where I feel only sad, angry, scared, etc.

All of you have been thinking about and dealing with this stuff for a lot longer than I have, and you all still seem to be doing okay. My question is: When the going gets tough, what keeps you getting out of bed every morning? Do you have hope for humanity, even if it is a tiny sliver of the population? Do you carry hope for life itself? Or do you take some other perspective entirely? Looking forward to your responses.

Happy New Years

Offline Eddie

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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2019, 07:32:42 PM »
 

I think that's a very good question to ask. It was something  that took me a while to process.

Like…..you know you're going to live some approximate amount of time barring an unfortunate illness or some catastrophic accident. You've always known that. Most people live 70-90 years if they're lucky enough to be born with relatively good DNA….but then you die of something. 100% of all of us. No exceptions.

But it's different when you think your entire species might be wiped out…and soon. Do you have children? That's a tough one. I had a family before I knew about collapse.

But we've also had all these wars….innocent kids die every day, and the other kids still play football on the ruined pavement of their bombed-out street the very next day.. The truth is that life is precious and valuable, no matter how short or challenging or unfair, or fucked-up….or whatever, You play the hand you're dealt, and you try to live every day, one day at a time, and you make the best you can out of whatever today gives you.

We used to talk to a group of doomers who were real haters of humanity. They hated all mankind  and especially industrial civilization….for causing the other species to die and the planet to become less livable…they were themselves proud of not having kids….and many of them were extremely suicidal and  crazy as hell. They gravitated to another website RE used to moderate……the Guy McPhersonites. Some of us used to talk to them. Argue with them.

In my view those people are/were pathetic. It's no way to live.

Some people have some kind of spiritual belief system that gives them strength. And I don't knock that. People who believe in science tend to be atheists. But not all. We have had some great threads on this site in years gone by about human consciousness…and whether consciousness is a byproduct of our physical body…or whether what we call life arises out of a pre (and post) existing consciousness. You get to believe what you want…..but nobody, not even the great intellectual thinkers of our time, can prove that consciousness is just a condition of physical existence.

This is THE great mystery.

I see myself living at or near the end of this complex civilization…with all its obvious flaws and overshoots and mismanaged resources and plain short-sightedness and stupidity beyond believe almost.

But its a lofty perch, with a view that can give your intellect and your curiosity a lot to chew on…if you just take it in…and try to learn something from it….not to save the world, but just for yourself…to learn and grow and try to get whatever you can out of whatever comes your way.

Humans have learned so much about the nature of the universe. It's a great paradox. We can understand what is a black hole, but we can't understand that too many cars and coal fired electrical generating plants will kill all the higher animals on the planet including ourselves

You're already a winner. Somebody born the very same day as you…..suffered for years and died young. We all have our karma to fulfill. Do the best you can. If you want to be a prepper, and try to live a low energy sustainable lifestyle, more power to you…but don't expect anyone much to get it. A few people will. Most are firmly in denial.

And remember..the past and the future are illusions. You can worry about the future, but you aren't in it. You live only in this moment…right now. That's reality.

Also remember this….it isn't all about you. In your life you will be given the chance, most likely, to be an important part of the lives of people you love and care about. You will never go wrong just trying to go through life exercising love and kindness and doing small things to help the people that providence or God or the Great Pumpkin put in your path.

For me ,this life is like the coolest ride at the best amusement park in the universe.  Like I bought my ticket before I was born and now I'm taking the wildest rollercoaster ride that ever was……except I'm manifesting it all out of nothingness as I go along.

I have the illusion of being this discrete human weirdo named Eddie, for whom life is just one damn thing after another…..and sometimes things go all wrong and it looks really scary and sometimes I lose people and places and things that meant a great deal to me….but I have to just keep going.

 I have a pretty good idea that my entire perception of what reality consists of…..is completely bogus…and when the ride is over I will once again realize that I always was connected to every other person, place and thing in the galaxy and perhaps a great many other things that exist right now, even though they aren't visible at all.

You are a witness. Keep your eyes and ears open…..and live and love and make the best life you can. Life is binary. You will get to make choices, and how you choose will matter, in my opinion. Your heart is a good guide. Follow it, and if the going gets so tough you feel like you can''t keep keeping on..then ask for help from whatever power you might decide to believe in……God, the great universe that surrounds you, the ghost of Christmas Past, the Easter Bunny…..whatever.

Seek out the wisest council you can find and listen to it..but make up your own mind. Use your brain, your brawn, your ingenuity and…as RE said, keep your sense of humor.

Happy New Year. and good luck to you.

I hope some of this might help.  But if what I said doesn't make sense to you, then just do what seems right, and try not to cause any more harm than you have to.  You'll be fine.

The Year in Doom 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on December 29, 2019

"Violence is as American as cherry pie."  –H. Rap Brown​  


2019 has been a year of notable accomplishments and disasters: China became the first country to gain access to the far side of the moon, thus announcing itself in the space race, the Ebola epidemic continued in the Congo, birds and insects continue to die at alarming rates, upsetting natural ecosystems everywhere, drought continued in southern Africa and, more recently, Australia, in combination with ruinous bush fires. California continue to burn during the autumn months.

War continued in Yemen, with millions on the brink of famine and starvation. Protests swept the world, from Haiti to Hong Kong, also making appearances in Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia. (It seems some folks don’t like neocolonialism as much as the west does.) Migrants continue to flee from the Middle East and Africa, and Central America, to places with more hospitable climate and arable soil; Nationalists shrieked in horror, rushed to build walls and whip up furor against potential newcomers. Brazil’s Boisonaro continued to burn the Amazon rainforest; people around the world wringing their hands. United States declared a trade war with China, beginning with the US charging Huawei with fraud. Suicide attacks sparked Indian conflict with Pakistan, which seems like a headline which could be reported every year. India made bold to enact new nationality laws which would exclude Muslims. Terror attacks continued, As a white nationalist killed 50 in New Zealand in March. The first image of a black hole was created. California had earthquakes. Trump shut the government down in January and reopened it several weeks later.

A man killed 22 people In a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. Enthusiast planned a “raid“ on area 51, which started as a joke but later went viral. It fizzled. Julian Assange was arrested in the UK and held for extradition. Fire broke out at Notre Dame cathedral, A comedian was elected president of Ukraine, and would find that his dealings with United States were anything but funny, and Trump met with Kim Jong-Un after they “fell in love.“ Kim Jong-Un later met with Vladimir Putin, sending a message that he was not prepared to go steady. The US attempted to foment a coup in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro, but failed, but managed to foment one in Bolivia to oust Evo Morales, and succeeded. Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in the Indian general election. Theresa May resigned, unable to wrangle Brexit, but Boris Johnson succeeded her, and won an election with enough of a mandate to put Brexit on a path to becoming reality.

Robert Mueller testified, and was a snooze, but Fiona Hill testified and was riveting.  Millions thought Mueller was going to emerge from his prosecutor's office and slap a pair of cuffs on Trump, but forgot that he reports to Bill Barr, Trumps Roy Cohn, and the most corrupt Attorney General of a lifetime, and this includes John Mitchell. Perhaps the biggest political news was a shifting power dynamic in Washington DC, as the consequences of the 2018 elections came to bear in the house brought articles of impeachment against Fat Orange, and at years end they sat on the edge of Nancy Pelosi‘s desk, awaiting Mitch McConnell‘s next move. Trump‘s approval fell to 39% during January‘s partial government shut down, and support for impeachment and removal rose to 55% at years end.

Just to review the bidding, ​One person compiled a list of 100 impeachable offenses by Trump. Here are the top 50.

The ordeal of Trump and his impeachment has been dealt with to death by other sailors with better maps. So this Year end review will not deal in depth with the many depravities of the Trump Crime Family, or with the cottage industry of racists, opportunists buffoons, failkids and grifters who have seen their profiles undeservedly elevated as a result of the Trump presidency: pardoned war criminal Edward Gallagher, Ben Shapiro, Matt Gaetz, Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk, Milo, Candace Owens, Stephanie Grisham, Jordan Peterson, Diamond and Silk,  Joseph-Goebbels-cosplayer Stephen Miller, Jim Jordan, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that chattering set of dentures Rudy Colludy, Meghan McCain, Scott Baio, and the entire extended Trump family.

There is plenty to consider apart from our politics as we lift our gaze from our black mirrors, blinded by normalcy bias and unable to imagine changing any of our carefully-calibrated plans to consider harbingers of doom and collapse. I have reviewed a year's worth of postings within the Doomstead Diner Forum and the Doomstead Diner Daily to compile the stories that marked our slow and steady descent. One thing is certain: no one will be able to say "they didn't know" as we spin down from a high-energy  post capitalist civilization to an uncertain, uncharted future where there will be less of everything for everyone.

William Kunstler, in a break from his usual obsequious Trumpsucking, paints the picture as well as anyone in, "There Is No Normal."

We landed in the New World five hundred years ago. It was full of good things that human beings had barely begun to exploit, laid out like a banquet. There was plenty of good virgin soil for growing food, the best timber in the world, clean rivers and great lakes, ores full of iron, gold, and silver, and down deep a bonanza of coal and oil to drive the wheel through very flush times. The past century was particularly supercharged, the oil years.

Imagine living through the very start of all that, the blinding, fantastic newness of modernity…An emergent cavalcade of wonders: electricity, telephones, railroads, subways, skyscrapers! And in a few more years movies, cars, airplanes, radio. Even the backstage wonders of the day were astonishments: household plumbing for all, running hot water, municipal water and sewer systems, refrigeration, tractors! It’s hard to conceive how much these developments changed the human experience of daily life.

Even the traumas of the 20th century’s world wars did not crush that sense of amazing progress, at least not in North America, spared the wars’ mighty wreckage. The post-war confidence of American society achieved a level of in-your-face laughable hubris — see the USA in your Chevrolet! — until John Kennedy was shot down, and after that the delirious moonshot euphoria steadily gave way to corrosive skepticism, anxiety, acrimony, and enmity. My generation, booming into adulthood, naively thought they could fix all that with Earth Day, tofu, and computers, and keep the great wheel rolling down into an even more glorious cybernetic nirvana.

Fakeout. That’s not where the wheel is going. We borrowed all we possibly could from the future to pretend that the system was still working, and now the future is at the door like a re-po man come to take away both the car and the house. The financial scene is an excellent analog to our collective psychology. Its workings depend on the simple faith that its workings work. So, it is easy to imagine what happens when that faith wavers.

We’re on the verge of a lot of things coming apart: supply lines, revenue streams, international agreements, political assumptions, promises to do this and that. We have no idea how to keep it together on the downside. We don’t even want to think about it. The best we can do for the moment is pretend that the downside doesn’t exist.

This is where we are. If you are reading this, you know it. The following sections and articles document what's happening to us. Some of the stories have some exposition. Others do not. Follow the link if the headline interests you.


Breaking Apart

Some years ago a Russian, former KGB operative Igor Panarin, predicted that the US would break up into separate countries.  Panarin is a Russian professor and political scientist best known for predicting that the United States would disintegrate within the next few years.

The Wall Street Journal reports: "Panarin is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations."

Lately other writers are expanding on this concept of Balkanization of the US. According to author Colin Woodard, the United States can be divided into 11 distinct sub-nations (see the above map). Woodard takes Panarin's idea to another level, and is far more granular. Panarin posited that parts of the balkanized former US would affiliate with other countries; Woodard does not. 

Woodard defined and illustrated the regions in his 2012 book "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America." Some regions sound familiar, like the "Deep South"; others might surprise, such as the "Midlands" region that stretches from New Jersey to northeastern New Mexico. 

"The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately, including state roles and individual liberty," Woodard, a Maine native, told Business Insider… In order to have any productive conversation on these issues, you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from, it will help move the conversation forward."

Whether fact or metaphor, the image of a country coming apart is useful in order to understand what follows.

Demography is Destiny

In an Atlantic article, How America Ends- A tectonic demographic shift is under way. Can the country hold together? Yoni Applebaum writes,

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Secession notwithstanding, demographic shifts seem to fueling the white rage and nationalism that ignites the pyre of our current politics. ("You…will NOT replace us!") The theme of her article is that moderate Republicans can "save America." The fatal flaw in this argument is that there are no longer any "moderate Republicans," and that the Republican party is the party of Trump, meaning the party of Atwater, Rove, and ascendant white nationalism, who having tasted power are loath to give it up. The Rs have the power to nominate and approve unqualified right wing ideologies to pollute the federal bench for generations, and if they have to resort to right wing paramilitaries to keep it that way, so be it. Stories that moved this year that illustrate this:


The US white majority will soon disappear forever

The relentless factories of hatred, fear and lies: on the ultraconservative and reactionary waves

Yes, America is divided. The real story is how, why, and who benefits

Will America’s billionaires start a second Civil War to protect their wealth and power?

Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds

The ‘Russia Hoax’ Is a Hoax

Donald Trump Is the Mad-King President Our Founders Feared Most

“We’re Americans, And We’re Fascists”: Inside Patriot Front

Top Military Officers Unload on Trump

The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?

This article was timely given Trump's announcement regarding removing American troops from Syria. Since they should not have been there in the first place, this seems a good thing. Except that we left the Kurds (who have fought wars for the Empire in pursuit of their own autonomy and based on American promises) in the lurch and to the tender mercies of Erdogan. I am old enough to remember how the Americans recruited the Hmong in Vietnam and Laos, then abandoned them after their utility in the US's "secret" wars was spent. 

As we speculate on next steps for what the military will do when Trump refuses to leave, I found this article instructive. On the other hand, I wish Mad Dog Mattis were still part of Pud's cabinet, as I deemed him most likely offer him the vigorous backhand of common sense.

If Trump Rage Brings ‘Civil War,’ Where Will Soldiers Stand?

The moment may come when soldiers have to choose between the Constitution and Donald Trump. No doubt most will embrace the Constitution. But some will see that as a tough call.

Trump Is ‘Last Hope for White People,’ Said Police Chief on Trial

Russian Secret Weapon Against U.S. 2020 Election Revealed In New Cyberwarfare Report

You Can Smell the Fear

8chan Is a Normal Part of Mass Shootings Now

Three white-nationalist shooters appear to have posted manifestos on the same troll forum. Here’s how 8chan became a meme-filled refuge for hate.

This Billboard Is a Sign of the Wild and Dangerous Forces Surging Through the Country

Forces that Donald Trump, American president, is actively stoking. Welcome the harvest sown in the wake the USA PATRIOT Act and follow-on legislation, by those who want to offer aid and succor to white supremacists while criminalizing opposition to them. The families of Eric Garner, tamer rice, Sandra Bland, et al were not asked for comment.

Two senators want antifa activists to be labeled ‘domestic terrorists.’ Here’s what that means.

The lack of a central governing system for antifa creates the risk of wrongly applying the label to all counterprotesters of white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that opposes anti-Semitism. This kind of mislabeling, the ADL said, could cause police to violate the civil rights of peaceful activists.

The ADL said antifa activists’ violent tactics are wrong, but that antifa and white supremacists are not equivalent. Far-right extremists have killed hundreds of people in the past decade, the ADL said, while there have been no known antifa-related killings.

Fascist Activists Have Spent The Last Year Trying to Win Over Police

Trump-Drunk Republicans Are Choosing Russia Over the Constitution

If the Republiconfederates thought about it, they would be attempting to insure that this was a nation of laws rather than men so that their descendants would be treated equitably. But no one in this country engages in thinking about anything except making the quarter, so it is probably unfair to single outright wingers for being guilty of short-term thinking. Instead, they line up in unthinking support of El Jefe, because they are terrified of opposing him, and getting primaried from the right. 

The Day People Disappeared and a New Strategy for Stealing Votes

Broken white men and the racist media that fuels their terrorism

America's Cult of Ignorance

More people are better educated than ever before, and knowledge is easier to come by. So why do we so often scorn those who plainly know more than we do? File under, "The Death of Expertise."


Unrest Everywhere

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B Yeats

This oft-quoted poem is a relevant today as it was when written 100 years ago. Protests raging on the streets of cities around the world in the past months have  triggers that vary with the locale. But what fuels them are common themes: stagnating middle classes, stifled democracy, economic inequality and the bone-deep conviction that things can be different – even if the way forward is uncertain.

More than 500,000 people rallied in Barcelona …amid a general strike after Spain sentenced Catalonia’s former separatist leaders to prison.

In Hong Kong, the police fired tear gas and anti-government protesters lit fires as tens of thousands of people marched today despite an official ban and attacks on the march promoters.

Chile declared a state of emergency after a transportation fare increase set off violence and looting. Subway stations, banks, buses and the headquarters of the country’s largest electricity provider were burned. Lebanese protesters enraged by corruption and dysfunction marched in Beirut and other cities, calling for the government’s overthrow.

Knowing about what happened to Allende was one of the ends of my innocence, and one of my way-stations on the road to collapse. Learning this story drove home what US foreign policy REALLY meant to a 23 year old with shit for brains, as well as the important lesson that Henry Kissinger was the spawn of Satan. The US was not going to tolerate a Marxist in Chile; but a fascist was just fine. Pinochet was Nixon's man. So they sponsored a coup.

Pinochet's Chile featured crimes against humanity, persecution of opponents, political repression, and state terrorism for openers. From Wikipedia:

The most prevalent forms of state-sponsored torture that Chilean prisoners endured were electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings, and sexual abuse. Another common mechanism of torture employed was "disappearing" those who were deemed to be potentially subversive because they adhered to leftist political doctrines. The tactic of "disappearing" the enemies of the Pinochet regime was systematically carried out during the first four years of military rule. The "disappeared" were held in secret, subjected to torture and were often never seen again.

We'd later learn that coup plotting, torture and wet work were the curriculum at the School of the Americas (now rebranded a la Blackwater, "The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation." Your tax dollars at work.

And an added bonus, Chile got the classical unrestrained “free market” policies of Milton Friedman, enforced by the military junta, which yielded a bumper crop of  human rights violations, institutionalized brutality, and drastic control and suppression of every form of meaningful dissent. The fact is, the truth of what happened in Chile was not that hard to find inside the US. Another fact is that no one cared.

And Haiti is on the brink of collapse because of a power struggle between its president and a surging opposition movement that has led to weeks of violent demonstrations and left streets across the country barricaded. Related stories from 2019:

Human Rights Watch supports US-backed far-right coup in Bolivia, whitewashes massacre of indigenous protesters

Media Silent as Bolivia's Coup Gov't Massacres Indigenous Protesters

Suppressing Dissent Guarantees Disorder and Collapse

The FBI’s Long History of Treating Political Dissent as Terrorism

Civil Unrest Is The New Normal Out There

A world on fire: Here are all the major protests happening around the globe right now

Tensions High as Far-Right Rally Tied To Threats Hits Portland

FBI Received Reports That Border Militia Was Training to Assassinate Prominent Democrats

Larry Hopkins, the leader of an extremist militia group known as the United Constitutional Patriots was arrested by the FBI in April after videos emerged of the group rounding up and detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. According to the New York Times, the FBI first became aware of Hopkins activities in 2017, when they received reports that his group was “training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa,” according to newly unsealed court documents.

49 killed in terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand suspect inspired by French writer who fears ‘replacement’ by immigrants

Ocasio-Cortez hits NRA after New Zealand shooting: 'What good are your thoughts and prayers?'

As QAnon Goes Mainstream, Trump’s Rallies Are Turning Darker

Under Trump, conspiracy theories and an all out assault on the truth have created a strange new reality.

‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth’ 

A self-proclaimed white nationalist planned a mass terrorist attack, the government says

Imagine what we have to look forward to in an election year.


Environmental Collapse

“A society’s fate lies in its own hands and depends substantially on its own choices.” 
― Jared Diamond

Few know what COP25 stands for (COP means Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.) The 25 stands for the 25th year that such an annual conferences has taken place, each year in different country, a tourist bonanza for the thousands travel but light on results and bereft of action steps.The COP 25 Failure in Madrid this fall encapsulates the impotence of governments around the world to acknowledge there is a problem with climate change, much less summon the will to do anything about it.

It is an illusion to believe that Big Business, Big Industry, Big Finance – and Big Growth-driven Profit – will yield to environmental or climate concerns. In spite of attracting 27,000 attendees, including Time Magazine's Person of the Year Greta Thunberg, the conference achieved alomst nothing.

Ultimately, however, the talks were unable to reach consensus in many areas, pushing decisions into next year under “Rule 16” of the UN climate process. Matters including Article 6, reporting requirements for transparency and “common timeframes” for climate pledges were all punted into 2020, when countries are also due to raise the ambition of their efforts.

UN secretary general António Guterres said he was “disappointed” with the results of COP25 and that “the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

This section has many links. The headlines tell a story of their own, with news that is almost unremittingly bad.

Sea Level Rise

The Arctic Is Undergoing Changes Scientists 'Never Expected Would Happen This Soon'

With Sea Level Rise, We've Already Hurtled Past a Point of No Return

Global Warming Will Drown Bangkok, Shanghai, Mumbai

150 million people are currently living in places that will be below high-tide in 30 years, according to new research

Nine climate tipping points now 'active,' warn scientists

IPCC report: Sea levels could be a metre higher by 2100

Sea Level Rise Maps

Speculative maps showing the changes to our world from an 80m sea level rise. Effectively all ice on earth having melted. Created with a variety of climate science reference, digital elevation models, and Photoshop.

Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History

Big Heat

The hellish future of Las Vegas in the climate crisis: 'a place where we never go outside'

‘Bleak’ U.N. Climate Study: World on Track for Up to 3.9 Degrees Warming by 2100

In Greenland’s Melting Ice, A Warning on Hard Climate Choices

Melting permafrost in the Arctic is unlocking diseases and warping the landscape

A Weather Station Above the Arctic Circle Hit 94.6 Degrees Fahrenheit

Over the past year, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gained increased global attention for her work. From speaking in front of the United Nations to creating Fridays for Future,

Greta Thunberg Speaks the Horrific Truth of Humanity’s Fate

Xraymike returns to the keyboard with another lighthearted frolic.

We'd Better Retreat from the Coasts While We Still Can, Scientists Urge Amid Climate Crisis

Do it now or do it later, with much, much worse outcomes.

Degradation

Soil in the Arctic Is Now Releasing More Carbon Dioxide Than 189 Countries

Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn

Following a Familiar Script, U.S. Withdraws From Paris Climate Pact

Experts declare climate emergency and warn of 'untold human suffering'

EPA to Weaken Public Protections Against Toxic Coal Ash in Water

Insects are going extinct in DROVES, finds new study

Dark money is pouring in to protect the "worst energy policy in the country"

Report Shows 'Stunning and Dramatic' Scenes of Thawing Permafrost in Siberia That 'Leaves Millions on Unstable Ground'

There used to be 4 billion American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared


Goldman Sachs released a 34-page analysis of the impact of climate change. And the results are terrifying.

When the Vampire Squid says it's bad, perhaps even the elites will listen. They won't listen to Greta, but when the Squid speaks…

 

Global Burning

Welcome To The Third World, Part 30: California Burning In The Dark 

We’re About to Become People Fighting Desperately Fighting For Survival on a Dying Planet, and It’s Not Going to Be Pretty

Or, When Self-Preservation Takes Over, It Usually Takes Civilization, Democracy, Decency, and Sanity With It

Experts Brace For An Apocalyptic Future As Earth’s Forests Burn To The Ground

Amazon fires could accelerate global warming and cause lasting harm to a cradle of biodiversity

Amazon on fire: 'The earth isn’t dying. It’s being killed.'

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted

(How) Climate Change is a Hangover of Colonialism, Exploitation, and Slavery

(Why) Climate Change Isn’t About Your Burger — It’s About (Centuries of) 10% of the World Growing Rich by Leaving 90% of the World Poor

Europe is burning just as new research offers a chilling truth about the volatility of climate change

Cooler years mask the underlying behaviour of the system. As natural variations move in the other direction, they can unleash a period of supercharged heating

Satellite Images Show Vast Swaths of the Arctic On Fire

Vast stretches of Earth’s northern latitudes are on fire right now. Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive ones burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.

The New Trail of Tears: How climate change is forcing the relocation of species, including our own

Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

'We are 50 to 100 years ahead of schedule with the slowdown of this ocean circulation pattern,' says climate scientist Michael Mann.

Heatwave: Think It’s Hot in Europe? The Human Body Is Already Close to Thermal Limits Elsewhere

Earth's Ancient Life Forms Are Awakening After 40,000 Years in Permafrost

By 2050, many world cities will have weather like they’ve never seen, new study says

Humans destroyed 10% of wilderness in just 25 years

The poisons released by melting Arctic ice

This remarkable Greenland photo highlights extreme Arctic melting

Report: Prepare for the Climatic Collapse of Civilization

The end of the Arctic as we know it

Arctic Is Thawing So Fast Scientists Are Losing Their Measuring Tools

Previously thought stable permafrost terrain high in Arctic is melting due to increased summer temperatures

Start planning for catastrophes, new EPA document says

Release of a government report means that even the last to know, know. regardless of their public posturing. Research details how human-caused climate change is contributing to record heat, more-intense storms, more-severe flooding and other events.

 

Biodiversity

'What Could Be More Important?': World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

California's monarch butterfly population drops 86% in single year

'Almost certain extinction': 1,200 species under severe threat across world

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation

Science, Sensationalism, and the Lessons of 'Insectageddon'

Humans Are Wiping Out Species So Fast That Evolution Can't Keep Up

Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics

Plants are going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical norm

 

Food and water

Water is a growing source of global conflict. Here’s what we need to do

Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC

Why does Stamford company director say: "We are going to starve to death?"

'Biggest Crisis No One Is Talking About': Quarter of Humanity Faces 'Extremely High Water Stress' Intensified by Climate Emergency

The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it's rapidly disappearing

Ruined crops, salty soil: How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland

Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

Over One-Tenth of Global Population Could Lack Drinking Water by 2030

First global look finds most rivers awash with antibiotics

Almost two-thirds of the rivers studied contained enough antibiotics to contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Expert Says Indians Will Soon Become Water Refugees Heading for Water-Rich Europe

Rajendra Singh, also known as the “Waterman of India”, says over 70 percent of the country has dried up, and this may lead to climatic migration to other countries.


The Great Culling: They Don't Give a Flying Fuck About You

“If people feel lost and alone and helpless and broken and hopeless today, what will it be like if the world really begins to come apart at the hinges?” 
― Brandon Andress​

If you’ve made it this far, you had an opportunity to contemplate the many vectors of environmental ruin headed our way, at a time when collectively we are at one another’s throats with an enthusiasm and sense of purpose rarely seen since the last Civil War.

The current world population is estimated to have reached 7.7 billion people as of April 2019. It took over 200,000 years of human history for the world's population to reach 1 billion; and only 200 years more to reach 7 billion. We are now faced with automation and AI, at a time of profound income (and thus power) inequality. connect the dots to see that robots and algorithms can replace a lot of labor, which is occurring as we speak. And what happens when any private industry takes over a public one? They slash payroll, loot pensions, and rid themselves of "useless eaters," and redistribute the savings to "investors." Wash, rinse, repeat.  Thus, whether by design or default, the Great Culling is Coming To a Theater Near You. "The Great Culling" is not about putting fluoride in your drinking water so much as a plan to reduce earth's population over generations.

RationalWiki calls this a conspiracy theory. And you won't easily find much credibly written on the subject. Yet it is difficult to consider the toxic hellbroth of the rise of ethno-nationalism, climate emergency, the increasingly oppressive tone and tenor of life under increasingly straightened circumstances, the ethics of investment banks and the logic of the spreadsheet, and conclude that such a plan is not in effect as a practical matter. If this hurts, you can always get some Oxycontin from kids at your local middle school. Here are stories that moved in 20019 that illustrate the point.

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows — ProPublica

Opioid epidemic may have cost states at least $130 billion in treatment and related expenses – and that's just the tip of the iceberg

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

Good to know the FSoA can still make something that other people in the world want to buy. Besides arms, that is.

Harvesting the Blood of America's Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism

When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested

Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.

Just 100 Companies Will Sign Humanity’s Death Warrant

Digital dystopia: how algorithms punish the poor

Turkish Scientist Sentenced to Prison for Publishing Paper Linking Pollution to Cancer

The Secretary of Agriculture Just Came Out and Said America Is for Big Business

Interesting tack at a meeting of small farmers who are already in trouble.

How Capitalism Torched the Planet by Imploding Into Fascism

Why Catastrophic Climate Change Is Not A Problem For Fascists — It Is A Solution

Martial law masquerading as law and order: The police state’s language of force

The gloves are off: 'predatory' climate deniers are a threat to our children

"The Public Is Now Aware That the Elites Are Taking Them To Their Death!" Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion

NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It's Not Looking Good for Us

Pentagon Wants 16-Year-Old Kids To Fight The Empire's Wars

I am among those who think that launching a gratuitous, meat-grinder war in spring of 2020 to self-anoint as a "wartime president™" is completely within Fat Orange's capability. It may already be part of his campaign plan, given the sheer evil of his administration.

For me here is the money shot:

If The Donald gets us into a big shooting war over in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the mandatory servitude of conscription will be required. It won’t be a turkey shoot like Iraq or Libya. It will be an existential threat, so all males —criminally inclined or not — between 16 and 45 will be inducted, same as they were after FDR tricked the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, or Johnson said the North Vietnamese attacked our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Anyone who thinks that Iran is going to do an "el foldo" like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq is sadly mistaken. Unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together via the Balfour declaration and held together by Saddam's brutality, Iran has a long, continuous history as a people and are not going to be exterminated quietly. Since Iran is surrounded by American bases, the outcome will never be much in doubt, but the costs will be extreme and the fighting scorched earth. Victory will be had, at the cost of your last grandson or granddaughter, so there is little doubt that Uncle Cracker will be looking for fresh meat.

Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans. 

Everyone’s Got a “Surveillance Score” and It Can Cost You BIG Money

Congress Targets Middle-Class Retirement Savings

A Stealth Levy on IRAs and 401K Plans to Pay for Corporate and 1% Tax Cuts. Because the Waltons Just Don't Have Enough.

Humans consume the equivalent of a credit card worth of plastic every week

Mitch McConnell is Making the 2020 Election Open Season for Hackers

Millennials are ‘canaries in the coalmine’ for toxic economic trends, say Stanford scholars

A new report by Stanford scholars lays out the problems U.S. millennials face as a result of decades-long rising inequality. Problems they experience include rising mortality rates and increased poverty among those without college degrees.

Audit: Pentagon Cannot Account for $6.5 Trillion Dollars in Taxpayer Money

Banned bread: why does the US allow additives that Europe says are unsafe?

U.S. HAS SPENT SIX TRILLION DOLLARS ON WARS THAT KILLED HALF A MILLION PEOPLE SINCE 9/11, REPORT SAYS

From New York’s fake heiress to Donald Trump, we’re living in the age of the scam

Everywhere you look, there are people who have figured out ways to game our shoddy system

List of mass shootings in the United States in 2019

Our Towns: What Happens to Abandoned Malls?

Meet the precariat, the new global class fuelling the rise of populism

Suicide, alcohol, drug deaths reach all-time high

When the Interests of Monopolists and Authoritarians Coalesce 

 The U.S. is funding dangerous experiments it doesn’t want you to know about

No One Trusts the US Government, Not Even the American People – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Crumbling infrastructure is a hidden tax on all Americans

10 Mind-Blowing Pentagon Audit Reports All Americans Need to Know

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman goes viral after challenging Davos panel to talk about taxing the wealthy

Where he said, unforgettably:

I mean, 1,500 private jets flown in to hear David Attenborough speak about how we're wrecking the planet.
"I hear people talking the language of participation and justice and equality and transparency.
"But then almost no-one raises the real issue of tax avoidance, right, and of the rich just not paying their fair share.
"It feels like I'm at a firefighters' conference and no-one's allowed to speak about water."

He made the mistake of telling the truth.

USDA says filler once known as 'pink slime' can be labeled ground beef

E Coli is a vitamin under Trump. 

"Beef trimmings are easily contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, so they need to be sterilized with "a puff" of ammonia…"

Bon appetit.


Lying Corporate Media

"Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

-A. J. Liebling

The news media in this country is under assault both from the political establishment and from the same market and technology forces that have disrupted other business sectors. Newspapers are shrinking, press jobs lost, and many towns are without a daily paper in print. And for those that remain are a hollow, shrunken version of their former selves. Smaller, fewer sections, reliance on wire service content: "yesterday's news tomorrow." Accelerating their demise is their adherence to a radically false doctrine, that of "Both Sides Do It" and thus "both sides" deserve to be treated with fairness and balance. But that doesn't work when one side works in relentless bad faith.

The bad faith works as follows: "We are not bound by what you call facts. We have our own, and we will proceed to put them out regardless of the evidence. We’re not trying to 'win the news cycle,' or curry favor with you. We’re trying to demonstrate independence from and power over you people, and stick your own rules up your nose. Your program is a theater of resentment in which you play a crucial part, and since our base hates your guts, we get to score points with them by displaying our contempt for you."

Here's an excellent analysis of the failures of Chuck Todd (and by extension, the rest of the corporate media opinion-manufacturing industry) by one of the country's best observers of the press, Jay Rosen.

The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd

After the better part of a career of allowing republican politicians to posit falsehoods as divinely-received wisdom, Chuck Todd had an epiphany:

Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of “alternative facts” on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd. Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.

Note that the very guy who has made a living inviting pathological Republican liars to be on his TV show continues to feign shock at the discovery that they pathologically lie when they're on his TV show. Since taking over the Meet the Press chair from David Gregory, Chuck Todd has displayed the sense of "both sides" faux  balance that has made him one of the Republican party's favorite towel boys. This it would be amusing  to see ol' Chuck protesting and trying to push back with his atrophied, baby arms now that the Republican grifters and Trumpsuckers who come on his show for the purpose of extruding the propaganda do so with the same impunity that he has provided them.

Since 2007 Todd has been NBC’s political director, which means he has influence over all coverage the in-house expert and decision-maker. You don’t get to claim you are naive about politics in such a role. Well, that’s the job. The truth is It’s not naiveté. It’s a willful blindness to what the Republican Party has become.

As such Todd provides a template for most the mass media, whose behavior can be observed (and predicted) though the filter of a quote by Noam Chomsky:

The major media-particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow-are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms."

Oc course, none of this is new. It was observed by muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair in The Brass Check, a book few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed it all a century ago and despite being on elf the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

A brass check was the token purchased by a customer in a brothel and given to the woman of his choice. Sinclair implies that, in a similar fashion, the owners of the mass media purchase journalists' services in supporting the owners' political and financial interests.

Sinclair criticizes newspapers and the Associated Press (owned by newspapers) as ultra-conservative and supporting the political and economic powers that be, or as sensational tabloids practicing yellow journalism, such as newspapers run by William Randolph Hearst. In both cases, their purpose is to promote the business interests of the paper's owners, the owner's bankers, and/or the paper's advertisers. Clearly, some things never change.

For his trouble, Sinclair challenged those who charged him with inaccuracy to review his published facts and to sue him for libel if they found him wrong. None did. But because Sinclair was denied access to the mainstream media to refute such charges, they assumed an aura of truth and gave the book a reputation for inaccuracy that have caused it to be largely forgotten.

Those who reviewed the book found The Brass Check's analysis of the media accurate and valuable, "astonishingly prescient in its critique of the coziness of big media and other corporate interests."

The stories:

Newsweek Journo Quits After Editors Kills Report On Syria Chemical Attack Scandal

The Media Yells Cut Whenever Trump Challenges War and Militarism

Who Will Tell the Truth About the Free Press?

The False Balance Between Fascists and Antifascists

Former Israeli Intel Official Claims Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell Worked for Israeli Intel

A former high-ranking official in Israeli military intelligence has claimed that Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual blackmail enterprise was an Israel intelligence operation run for the purpose of entrapping powerful individuals and politicians in the United States and abroad.

The Incredible Belief That Corporate Ownership Does Not Influence Media Content

The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?

The Pentagon is using a moral panic over “fake news” to gain influence over the domestic news landscape

Corporate Media Filled With Nameless Voices Attacking Progressive Democrats

Of Two Minds – It's Not Just the News That's Fake–Everything's Fake

Tiptoeing around Trump’s racism is a betrayal of journalistic truth-telling

Asymmetry between the major parties fries the circuits of the mainstream press – PressThink

Per one source, Russia has seen 42 Journalists killed during Putin's Rule

Trump and Putin Joke About 'Getting Rid of Journalists' on Anniversary of Capital Gazette Shooting

Some Real News About Fake News

It’s not just making people believe false things—a new study suggests it’s also making them less likely to consume or accept information.

Fake Has Become Realer Than Real And The Dogs Of War Are There To Keep It That Way

This is long; you may want to pack a lunch, but it is well reported, and I'll bet you've never heard a bit of it. By design.

 


Economic Fix is In

"The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing."

–Frank Zappa

“If you sit in on a poker game and don’t see a sucker, get up. You’re the sucker.” Crony capitalism that in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. Typical tools include permits, government grants, tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention, especially where the state can confer public goods. Think "looting of the commons."

America's economy was a success in the 19th century due the plunder of a pristine environment and abundant natural resources. Before the frontier was closed, all one had to show up and build wealth using what was at hand. The world wars finished off Europe as an economic dynamo, bankrupted the British empire, and put economic and financial supremacy in Washington’s hands.  The US dollar became the world reserve currency, enabling the US to pay its bills by printing money. And enabling the US to plunder foreign resources the way vanishing American resources had once been plundered. We plunder in a more sophisticated way now; see John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man for how that works.

As it gets harder and harder for corporations to make an honest buck, they have to go "where the money is," much like bank robbers did before credit card fraud. And tht means you: your pension, your Social Security, your 401K. They want it, and they'll get it. Meanwhile, economic life in the "Home of the Brave, Land of the Free" means death by a thousand cuts for too many people. Here are 2019 stories that make the point:

The US Economy Is a System of Plunder

We Can Only Choose One: Our National Economy or Globalization

The world is sitting on a $400 trillion financial time bomb

Why the middle class can’t afford life in America anymore

Fed Ups Its Wall Street Bailout to $690 Billion a Week as Media Snoozes

Connecting the Dots to the Budding Wall Street Crisis

The Dirtiest Secret Capitalism Doesn’t Want You to Know

Have the Slow, Catastrophic Costs of Capitalism Exceeded the Long-Term Benefits? Or, Why Capitalism Failed Spectacularly as a Global Economy

The Repo Loan Crisis, Dead Bankers, and Deutsche Bank: Timeline of Events

This is (just another) absolutely terrific by the Martens. If you read nothing about money, read this.
The timeline is particularly telling, especially this gem:

May 19, 2019: The New York Times’ David Enrich writes the bombshell report describing how a Deutsche Bank whistleblower, Tammy McFadden, and four of her colleagues, had their efforts blocked by the bank when they tried to file suspicious activity reports on bank accounts affiliated with Donald Trump and his son-in-law/advisor Jared Kushner. The suspicious activity reports (SARs) should have been filed with the Federal agency known as FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) but were quashed by a unit of the bank that manages money for the super wealthy. The article appeared in the print edition of the New York Times on Monday, May 20, 2019. The stock closes that day at $7.43.

We're back to counting dead bankers. It may be that having HIV is safer than working for Deutsche Bank

Day After Trump Said 'Inequality Is Down,' Federal Data Shows US Income Inequality Highest Since Census Began Measuring

How Much (Money) Does America Really Have to Invest in its Future? 

The answer, of course, is the triumph of libertarian PR. Every man an individual, in the endless war of all against all. 

America’s Collapse: An Economy Based on Plunder

Noam Chomsky: “Worship of Markets” Is Threatening Human Civilization

Revenge of the Power Grid

The ‘giant sucking sound’ of NAFTA: Ross Perot was ridiculed as alarmist in 1992 but his warning turned out to be prescient

New Survey: 69% Of U.S. CFOs Believe That A Recession Will Start "By The End Of 2020"

The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich

Social Security Benefits Have Lost 33% of Their Buying Power Since 2000 

Economic Hitman John Perkins reveals US-led Blueprint for Acquiring Countries

The Coming Generation War

Russia tops global gold buyers list as it turns away from US dollar

Deep adaptation, post-sustainability and the possibility of societal collapse

The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does

Found this article on Scientific American this morning while compiling the paper. Gives a glimpse at the sort of tools already in use to track us, sift and resell our preferences, for purposes unknown. What could possibly go wrong? The traces we leave on the Web and on our digital devices can give advertisers and others surprising, and sometimes disturbing, insights into our psychology

"Middle Class" Once Meant Stability and Now Means Fragility


What Don't fit

This is a grab-bag where a number of doom- and collapse-related stories of note that don't fit the other categories have gone to die.

The Ultimate Doom Post | Just kidding, it's worse than that.

2019 hasn't been easy and the word of the year proves it

The mainstreaming of Occupy Wall Street: How rethinking American capitalism became the most important debate of the 2010s

Fleecing the Flock: A Snapshot of America's Richest Pastors

Even among people who observe and measure how the wheels are coming off the wagon, plenty of disagreement. An old Diner friend Ugo Bardi makes an appearance in this article.

The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun

Scientists disagree on the timeline of collapse and whether it's imminent. But can we afford to be wrong? And what comes after?

All Great Civilizations Fall. Is America Next?

Read Sacha Baron Cohen's scathing attack on Facebook in full: 'greatest propaganda machine in history'

We're running out of time to stop killer robots

A new report warns that they're coming sooner than you think

CIA, the Real Lords of The Poppy-Fields & Striking White Gold in Afghanistan

‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations

How America Failed to Understand its Own Collapse

Google Is Coming for Your Face

Personal data is routinely harvested from the most vulnerable populations, without transparency, regulation, or principles—and this should concern us all.

Did a large meteorite hit the earth 12,800 years ago? Here’s new evidence

Democracy Is Now a Hindrance to the Imperial State

Democracy is the coat of paint applied for PR purposes to the Imperial State.

White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump

Why “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” Became a Populist Battle Cry

‘This Will Teach You Next Time,’ 911 Dispatcher Told Arkansas Woman Who Later Drowned. 

Debbie Stevens was delivering morning newspapers in her S.U.V. when she was swept away by floodwaters in Fort Smith, Ark.

‘We are moving into a new, controlled society worse than old totalitarianism’ – Zizek on Google leak

Study Finds Rise In 'Doomsday Prepping' Due To Mainstream American 'Culture Of Fear'

The Granddaddy of American Conspiracy Theorists

Decades before QAnon, false flags, “crisis actors” and Alex Jones, there was Milton William Cooper. An exclusive excerpt from ‘Pale Horse Rider’ 
Long before there was a Diner, long before 9-11, there was Milton William Cooper. His book was an underground sensation. The Hour of the Time radio program was also circulated and downloaded long before podcasts existed; I have them all. He was right about so many things, including 9-11, and the fact that he knew that by telling the truth, they would come for him and kill him. Which they did.

First human-monkey chimera raises concern among scientists

Researchers reprogrammed human cells before injecting them in the monkey embryo

This is what algorithms see when they spy on you in public

They see a lot more than you think and can make inferences about everything from personal relationships to life expectancy to “social worth.”
 

Why an “AI Race” Between the U.S. and China Is a Terrible, Terrible Idea

‘Years and Years’ is TV’s most haunting show

Foreskin reclaimers: the ‘intactivists’ fighting infant male circumcision

The U.S. Military Will Have More Robots Than Humans by 2025

We spoke to survivalists prepping for disaster: here’s what we learned about the end of the world

ARE WE LIVING IN THE DAWNING OF ALFONSO CUARÓN'S CHILDREN OF MEN?

The Unimaginable Reality of American Concentration Camps

China forcefully harvests organs from detainees, tribunal concludes

Organ transplant trade is worth $1 billion a year. 

Senators get classified briefing on UFO sightings

Tennessee Pastor Who Repeatedly Raped Daughter, 14, Gets Light Sentence Because Jesus

Was Shakespeare a Woman?

A thousand guns were found in an LA mansion. Then the mystery deepened

Trump Wants to Make It Legal for Debt Collectors to Text You “Where’s the Money, A$$hole?”

Ethiopian Bible is oldest and most complete on earth

Scientists Call for a Moratorium on Editing Inherited Genes

Amid a controversy over gene-edited babies, leading researchers want to call a halt and install a global governance process.

Opium-Addicted Parrots Are Terrorizing Poppy Farms in India

The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse

Medieval Letter Reveals Bawdy Nun Who Faked Her Death to Escape Convent

When the Trucks Stop Delivering, ‘The System’ Will Collapse

And that's a year's worth of doom. As we head into a pivital year of impeachment, elections and the usual schemes, here's hoping we're together back here next year "pretending that the downside doesn’t exist." Enjoy your new year!

 


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.

Christmas Dinner & T’was the Nightmare Before Christmas 2019

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 24, 2018

T'was the Nightmare before Christmas Published originally December 24, 2012

 

Discuss this Video and Article at the Diner Pantry inside the Diner

 

In re-publishing the Diner Christmas Eve Doomer Poem this year, I thought I would go ahead and do a Cooking Zone food video along with it, and prepare for myself a real Amerikan style Conspicuous Consumption FEAST!  Rest of the meal comes tomorrow on Christmas Day, and I hope all the Diners will join me around the Dinner Table here to discuss Doom and probably argue, as all families do when they get together for these things. lol.

For today, were just looking at the preparation of the Main Course, a USDA Prime Ribeye steak.  I'm not doing a whole Prime Rib Roast since I got nobody up here IRL to she it with.  It would be a hhuge waste of food.  However, I am cooking this in a faashion that will make it similar, and in some respects better than a full rib roast.  Watch the video to find out more.

 

T'was the Nightmare before Christmas

T'was the night before Christmas, when across all the  seas
Not a Doomer was stirring, not even RE.
The False Flags were in the MSM all over the place,
While Politicians mumbled their words of disgrace.

The Diners were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Mad Max danced in their heads
WHD in his Red Afro Wig, and I in my hat
Had just settled in to watch Civilization go splat.

When out on the internet there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to the Laptop to see what was the matter.
Over to Google I flew like some birds,
To type in Apocalypse and other Keywords.

The news on the net was like new fallen snow,
Flakes of disaster everywhere I would go.
Off with my wandering keyboard fingers I went to visit
Zero Hedge, Survival.com and 8 blowhard Collapse Pundits

The news was so bad I surfed ever faster,
searching wide to find the cause of disaster.
More rapid than Assault Rifle gunfire the news came on in,
Of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and all Human Sins.

Now Kunstler! Now Orlov! Now, McPherson and even Jim Quinn!
On Ruppert! On Gail! On, on Denninger and Steve from Virgin!
To TEOTWAWKI as we head for a mighty big fall!
Now Dash away, Dash Away! Dash away from it all!

As Mall Signs and Rooftops before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
Every keyboard was flying, calls of the end came everywhere
The Doomosphere was just chock full of despair.

And then in a twinkling, I read on the net
Illuminati across the Globe were begining to Sweat.
Bond spreads were wide, Futures were down,
Derivatives and CDOs were beginning to drown.

Gold bugs were Frantic, piles of Maple Leafs high to the sky,
While at Safeway and Walmart not a Twinkie to buy!
Preppers were loading their Glocks full of Lead,
Hoping to be the last of the Doomers left dead.

Permaculture raised beds and hydroponics were secured,
as Industrialization's Ills could not be cured.
Heirloom Seeds in Nitrogen vaccuum packs were stored,
Ground floor windows were covered with 2×4 boards.

In Central Park all the OWSers set tents on the Grass,
the showdown with the NYPD would now come to pass.
The truckers rolled in and the Hell's Angels too,
then the Longshoremen came in from out of the blue.

In CONgress the budget went over the Cliff,
while Obama said, "Hey, what's the diff?
My Man Benny has the Inkjets all ready!"
No worries folks, the economy will stay steady.

In Brussels at the IMF the Eurocrats fumbled,
playing violins as the Euro crumbled.
In Japan the Sushi was glowing,
While Abe made sure those Yen kept on flowing.

In MENA the Drone Aircraft were flying,
with Women and Children doing most of the dying.
In the Straights of Hormuz Mines were placed to counter the Drones,
So all the tankers and carriers would be sent to Davey Jones.

In China the economy was rocking,
Ghost Cities and Bridges to Nowhere filled up their stockings.
Foxconn workers off factory rooftops went jumping,
While the Iphones out of the factory kept pumping.

The situation was dire, the whole world was on fire.
Everyone everywhere all caught in the mire.
The whole human race so utterly lost,
Happy Motoring and Industrialization exacting a terrible cost.

RE sprang to his keyboard to give the Diners some HOPE,
even though the world seems at the end of its rope.
They heard him exclaim, 'ere the Internet went out of sight,
"Happy christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!"

Merry Christmas Diners!

Dark Days of the Winter Solstice 2019

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Published on The Doomstead Diner December 22, 2019

Discuss this Video at the Collapse Morning Wake-Up Call Table inside the Diner

 

The Winter Solstice has arrived again like the astronomical clock that it is.  With that comes the long dark nights and the bitter cold of deep Winter, particularly up here on the Last Great Frontier of Alaska.  Right now we only get around 6 hours of daylight where I live in the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley, and the outside temperature tonught here is 4F or -16C, whichever scale you prefer it is fucking COLD!

Not so down under in Oz, where they are setting record heat nearing 122F or 50C, and baically the entire province of New South Wales is on FIRE.  NSW is where most of the population of Oz lives, it's where the Sydney Opera House is located.  One of our Diners, John of Wallan lives in the neighboring province of Victoria where the other Oz Big Shity of Melbourne is located, and they are doing a bit better than NSW but the fire danger is still EXTREME.  He lives on a Doomstead outside of Melbourne and is prepping for fighting a fire that thretens his home for as long as he can, in the event one targets him and brings HELL to his doorstep.  Inside the Diner, we all wish him well with this fight and the long HOT summer they are likely to have down there on the bottom portion of the Globe.  Below is a good recap of the state of Emergency now in effect in New South Wales:

These are also metaphorically ver Dark Days on the Political front both here in the Fascist States of Amerika and across the Pond in Jolly Old England as well.  Over here, our Commander-in Corruption Donalditry Tumpovetsky has been Impeached by CONgress, and now this is due to go across the hall in that Sewer to the Senate for a Bogus Trial which everyone already knows what the outcome will be since the Senate is controlled by the Repugnant Party and the Senators are basicallly El Trumpo's lapdogs.

The Demodope Party potential adversaries for Trumpty-Dumpty to knock him down off his Wall have narrowed the field down to four with a reasonable chnce of succes at the Democratic Nationa Convention after the Primaries and Caucuses finish up around June or July I think.  The Top Contenders right now appear to be Uncle Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, slightly to the Left of the Repugnants but still Right of Center on an absolute scale of Left vs Right.  To the left of them but still Right of Center are Bernie Sanders and Liz Wareen, representing the "Liberal-Progressive" wing of the the Demodope Party.  All this sets up for what is likely to be a Brokered Convention at the DNC this year, which is likely to be a real HOOT! lol.  I don't think the Theater can match the action at the DNC in 1968, but it could be close.

All of this is covered in more depth in this weeks Collapse Morning Wake-Up Call Video rant, and I share my Winter Soltice Sunday Brunch selections as well! 🙂  Coming up later in January I will be doing more SNAP Card Gourmet Cooking vids, where I go voer how to eat cheaply and nutritiously on a very low food budget, at least currently here in the FSoA.  coming next week is a recap of the Year in Doom from my partner in Collapse Chronicling Surly.

In the meantie, have a great week and MERRY COLLAPSE CHRISTMAS!  Ho Ho Ho.

Winter Solstice 2019

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Published on the Question Everything on December 21, 2019

Discuss this article at the Collapse Morning Wake-Up Call Table inside the Diner

I hope this finds you well and, at least for now, safe.

When I sat down a few weeks ago to start sketching what I would write about for this post, and after several false starts it dawned on me that there really is nothing much more to say! At least there is nothing really new to say. It seems that all of the kinds of global dangers I have been concerned about for all these years are now sufficiently advanced to be visible to all but the most stubborn willfully ignorant. And there are certainly many of those. Nevertheless, we now have growing movements such as behind Greta and Extinction Rebellion re: climate chaos. There have been a steadily growing number of economists who are starting to question the conventional wisdom regarding capitalism and free markets, if not the conventional theories behind the quasi-science. The public is still being hoodwinked by the oil and gas industries regarding the future of fossil fuel energy production; they have hyped the fracking revolution and American energy independence and the majority of people do not have the physics needed to understand the consequences of fracked well dynamics. So they don't realize that the current abundance of oil and gas is going to be short-lived. But many more people are listening to the experts (some of the same peak oil guys who went underground when fracking started taking hold) and realizing that there are problems afoot. And then there are those who strongly believe that solar and wind are going to save our civilization. If they are willing to look there are a growing number of analyses and reports that provide strong evidence that the economic power production potential for these technologies is just insufficient to run an industrial (even a so-called post-industrial) society that is dependent on the kind of power you get with fossil fuels or nuclear.

Not the kind of person who says 'I told you so, but…' Ok, so I am. But now many-many more voices have been added to the growing cacophony of doomsayers. I expect more people will start taking notice.

Still the majority hold out that some kind of techno-miracle will save our society, pretty much in its current form. Again its a question of pure physics. Stated simply, the kind of society we have right now is not in any way sustainable.

I've just finished a year-long quest for applying systems analysis to a human social system (HSS) design that would be sustainable but organized very differently from what we've grown used to as "normal." The outlines will be the last chapter in my forthcoming book. The last part of the book is devoted to design and engineering of complex adaptive and evolvable systems. So I thought, why not apply it to the HSS? I have written several papers about it for both Russian and Western systems researchers. Guess where the ideas were best relieved.

There is no way we can transition our current society to this more systemic form. We don't have the time even if the general population accepted the idea. So my prediction is still that civilization as we know it will crash (hard). You can already see the dynamics playing out. We're likely just past the peak point in Ugo Bardi's Seneca's Cliff scenario. You know, the Wiley Coyote moment! I hope to get the book out before everything goes to hell, and a few more papers published with the hopes that some remnant of the notion that a systems approach to designing and constructing a viable human society will somehow survive. Some day in the distant future, perhaps a thousand years after the collapse, some survivors in small pockets of relatively stable climate might have the opportunity to do it right the second time around. One thing for sure, they won't be in a position to exploit the kind of power sources we've had. The coal, oil, and natural gas will effectively be gone. And if my theory of evolving sapience holds any water, some of those future beings will be a little bit wiser than the current species.

Enjoy while you can, being mindful to not increase your contributions to the problems (e.g. consumerist living). If you are so inclined (and young enough) join Extinction Rebellion, go out and shut down traffic, get arrested at a protest. It might be fun.

On Greta Thunberg: A Letter to my Non-Western Friends

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on December 12, 2019

Discuss thiss article at the Extinction Rebellion Table inside the Diner

 

On Greta Thunberg: A Letter to my Non-Western Friends

 

Dear non-Western friends,

first of all, let me tell you that I understand your perplexity about Greta Thunberg. I understand how you see this latest stunt of the Western Media of naming her "Person of the Year." From your viewpoint, it looks just like another trick of the West, one among many. And I understand that it makes you even more suspicious that the whole story of climate change is nothing but a hoax created by the Western Empire to maintain its grip on the whole planet.

Yes, I understand. But I would like to ask you to make an effort to understand us, the Westerners. You see, sometimes I have a feeling that one of the characteristics of Hell could be that the people who are in it don't realize that they are in Hell. It would be truly wicked, but it was a Western poet, Baudelaire, who said that the best trick of the devil is to convince you that he doesn't exist. So, if Hell is a place where you are told lies about everything, including that you are not in it, then we Westerners are truly living in Hell, at least a certain kind of hell.

It is not just lies, it is the kind of lies. The Western media have evolved into a machine for manufacturing fear and hatred. Anyone, any group, any belief, can be destroyed by this machine. And you cannot do much to fight back. If you doubt the official narration, you are a conspiracy theorist. If you plead for peace, you are Putin's stooge. If you protest against your government, you are a terrorist. If you deny the role of the West in leading the world, you are a traitor. And, on top of that, most Westerners are convinced that propaganda is a thing of the non-Western world and that their media are free and independent. Indeed, Baudelaire was right.

Of course, don't make me say that the non-Western world is a Paradise of truth. All nations, all states, all cultures, have their biases, their filters, their entrenched beliefs, and, in many cases, their propaganda machines. Every one of us, Westerners and non-Westerners, sees the world through the filters that our culture, our traditions, and our media place in front of us.  But you, non-Westerners, have a possibility that's denied to us, Westerners. You can use English to peer into the Western media without being embedded in it. And, as I said, I understand that often you don't like what you see.

And so, we are back to Greta Thunberg. Of course, I understand that this girl is not a "grassroots" phenomenon as some might want to believe. She is supported by a top-class team of media experts, she couldn't possibly fight the Western Media Behemot alone. And I understand that her message may be misunderstood, mongrelized, and exploited for yet another round of greenwashing. I know that.

But that's not the point. It is how the appearance of Ms. Thunberg has been both amazing and unexpected. If she is a product of propaganda, then it an unusual kind of propaganda. It would be the first time in many decades that our media are presenting to us a message that's not based on the idea of something or someone evil to be destroyed. This girl crashed through all the media barriers with just a simple message: the truth about climate change. She wasn't telling us to kill or hate anyone, she was just telling us to work together to ensure that her generation could have a future. And she carried the message with an inner force, a way of posing herself, a capability of saying things straight that was nearly unbelievable. It is amazing how she attracted upon herself all kinds of insults, abuse, and curses, but nothing really stuck on her. You remember Ronald Reagan's "Teflon presidency"? Well, this girl is not just Teflon coated: she wears a Mythril armor like the heroes of the trilogy of the ring.

I understand that it is possible that this girl will disappear from the mediasphere in a short time, as it happens for most ideas over the Web, nowadays. But she may turn out to be something more, maybe not the specific person of Greta Thunberg, but in the message she represents. A strong message telling humankind to respect the things that make humankind live: our planet and all the living beings in it.

Let me tell you of something I learned not long ago when I was in Iran. It was the time of the Arbaeen, the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali, forty days after the Day of the Ashura. Someone told me (or maybe I read somewhere) that "Imam Husayn is a figure that we Shi'ites offer as a gift to the whole humankind as an example of virtue and of justice." And that struck me as something worth remembering. In all cultures, we have something or someone we revere as a treasure: a person, a poem, a work of art, a way of seeing the world. And these treasures, I think, we should share with the rest of humankind as gifts.

Now, of course, I don't have the authority to say what the entity we call "The West" should or should not do. For sure, we shared with the world plenty of poisoned gifts in the past. But this girl, Greta Thunberg, might be a true treasure, a gift we could offer to the rest of the world. For once, there would come from the West a message of peace and harmony. Could that really happen? Difficult to believe, sure, but it is a great hope.

 

 

Responding to collapse, Part 15: shortages of diesel fuel

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool on November 27 2019

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In part 10 of this series I expressed the opinion that supplies of electrical power, diesel fuel and money will be at the heart of many of the troubles that lie ahead as collapse progresses. Especially for those of us living in small remote towns, as I recommend you do. Over the last few posts I've spent a lot of time considering the gradual breakdown of the power grid, the effects that will have, and how we might prepare for them. Today I'll move on to consider what happens when supplies of diesel fuel become problematical.

For a number of solid technical reasons, diesel engines are preferred to gasoline engines for ships, locomotives, heavy trucks, and agricultural equipment. If, like me, you're living in a small remote town, the latter two are of great importance. Essentially everything that gets here comes in a truck that burns diesel fuel. Much of that stuff falls in the "necessities of life" category. Agriculture is an important industry hereabouts, and whether it's organic or conventional, most of the work is done by machines that burn diesel fuel.

I can highly recommend the book "When Trucks Stop Running" by Alice Friedmann, who is also the author of the Energy Skeptic blog. Alice goes into much detail in this book about energy and transportation and just what will be affected when the trucks stop running.

There are a few particular aspects of the subject that I'd like to focus on in this post without recapitulating that whole book. I think it is useful to be aware of the sort of things that can cause supply problems. This will help us anticipate them, and have some advance warning so as not to be caught completely by surprise. When those problems are happening, when things get chaotic and confusing, it is good to have a little more certainty about what is actually going on so you can proceed with whatever action is required. And of course it is useful to have thought about supply issues, and the problems they will cause, and made some preparations so as to be able to do what needs to be done when the time comes.

But first, let's make one thing really clear. For moving heavy loads long distances there simply isn't any viable alternative to the diesel engine and the concentrated energy of diesel fuel.

Gasoline comes close (having about 77% as much energy per gallon as diesel), but all the problems are going to be just as bad for gasoline as diesel, and gasoline engines aren't as good for hauling heavy loads.

In many ways electric motors are even better than diesel engines, but the problem is getting electricity to a mobile electric motor. Batteries are the obvious solution, but the energy density of batteries is very low compared to diesel fuel. So low that battery powered long distance heavy transport just isn't feasible.

Electrified railways where power is supplied by a third rail fail on account of complexity and the difficulty of getting them set up in a nationwide network than could service all the locations currently serviced by roads.

The day may come when we are forced to use wood burning steam locomotives, but the energy density of wood not as good as diesel fuel. And coal is ruled out by concerns about climate change.

Sailing ships can do the job of diesel powered ships, but not as efficiently and we'll turn to them only when there is no alternative.

So we're going to be using diesel powered transportation as long as we can get diesel fuel. And when it is no longer available, we'll have to adapt by getting by with a lot less shipping and more reliance on locally produced goods. This is likely doable in many rural areas, but megacities appear to be unworkable under such conditions.

What might make the supply of diesel "problematical"? As I see it, this can take two forms: shortages and high prices, which are related in complex ways. There is also the issue of EROEI (energy return on energy invested) which is having negative effects on the economy even now when oil is still flowing.

Shortages

Let's look at what could cause shortages first.

Peak Oil enthusiasts traditionally talked about running out of oil in the absolute sense—when there is just nothing more left to pump out of the ground. But it has become clear that long before that happens we will run into problems because the remaining oil is non-conventional—it is in awkward locations and/or is more difficult to get out of the ground. Despite all the talk about renewable energy taking over from oil, in the fifteen or so years that I've been watching, the worldwide consumption of oil has gone up from 85 million barrels a day to around 100 million barrel a day, with much of the increased supply coming from non-conventional sources, primarily fracking in the case of the U.S. But this is clearly not, in the short term at least, leading to any sort of shortages.

Even with lots of reserves—oil in the ground that has already been found and is accessible using current technology—if the wells don't get drilled and/or the oil doesn't get pumped out of them, this can lead to shortages. Thus far it has definitely led to increased reliance on non-conventional oil.

If demand is high, why would we leave oil in the ground? International sanctions, civil unrest, revolution, war and speculation that development projects will prove unprofitable are a few reasons, currently happening in places like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and Canada's tar sands.

There is a lot of infrastructure between the oil well and the gas/diesel pump. Pipelines, storage facilities, refineries, more pipelines and storage facilities for refined products, railways, tank trucks (which burn diesel fuel themselves) and so forth. Pretty well all of it is quite exposed to both heavy weather and hostile human action.

All that infrastructure needs to be operated and maintained as well, and even if it isn't physically damaged, money and organizational problems in the companies responsible, and things that interfere with the workers getting to work, like strikes, civil unrest or war, can also interrupt oil supplies.

I think we can expect more storms (climate change) and more hostile action (wars, civil unrest, strikes) in the years to come, so it is pretty reasonable to expect that there will be shortages caused by this sort of thing. There is some redundancy in the system, so a single point of failure is unlikely to do much harm, but it pretty realistic that multiple points failures may actually happen. Especially if things get so bad that single point failures aren't attended to in a timely fashion.

Such shortages will be uneven, unsteady and unequal, as I am so fond of saying.

Increasing, and Fluctuating, Fuel Prices

Since almost all shipping is done by companies that are in business to make a profit, the price of fuel can cause supply chain problems just as serious as actual shortages. Prices can be forced up by a number of mechanisms.

The various grades of crude oil yield different proportions of fuel oil (diesel) and gasoline. So the kind of crude that is available can, depending on relative demand for diesel and gasoline, lead to a shortage of one or the other and an increase in its price. Sulfur in diesel fuel causes air pollution and acid rain, and diesel fuel for use on land is required to be low sulfur. Traditionally, marine fuel was allowed to be high sulfur, but regulations are changing shortly and ships will have to start using low sulfur fuel or install filtration equipment on their exhaust stacks. This is likely to cause an increase in the demand for low sulfur diesel fuel and an increase in its price.

The free market is a crude instrument for determining prices and can respond speculatively even to rumours of upcoming shortages.

Again, Peak Oil folks traditionally talked about supply problems causing the price of crude oil to go through the roof, to perhaps several hundred dollar per barrel. Clearly that would have disastrous effects on all industries, causing a classic Peak Oil style economic crash.

They believed this would happen because that the demand for oil is quite inelastic, but it has turned out not to be so. Increasing oil prices have a damping effect on economic activity of most sorts—when the price goes up, it triggers a recession, causing the demand for oil to decrease and preventing the price from increasing as much as it otherwise might. To keep the economy growing nicely, the price of oil needs to stay below about $30 per barrel. For the last few years it has been well above that price, and the economy has had problems. Yes, I know that the financial sector of the economy has continued to grow, but it is not nearly so dependent on energy as the commercial (industrial, wholesale, retail) sector, which has not done nearly so well.

Turning to non-conventional oil to meet demand does hurt the profitability of oil companies. Depending of the particular source, they need to get somewhere between $60 and $100 per barrel to be profitable. There is no such thing anymore as a sweet spot where both the economy and oil companies are happy. I think this will lead to the eventual demise of many oil companies, but in the meantime it leads to volatility of oil prices and discourages oil companies from investing in discovery of new reserves of oil.

EROEI, the energy cost of energy

One characteristic of non-convention al oil is that it takes more energy to get it out of the ground. Its "energy returned on energy invested" (EROEI) is lower. This also applies to many new discoveries of what would still be called conventional oil. In the short term the obvious consequence of this is energy sprawl—fracked wells dotting the countryside, tar sands projects springing up in the bush of northern Alberta, drilling platforms sprouting wherever there is under sea oil and so forth. In the long term, using low EROEI energy sources, be they fossil fuels or renewables, causes a strange malaise in the economy which stifles growth, makes it difficult to raise capital for new projects and eventually even hard to find money to maintain existing infrastructure.

The oil business isn't the only business to be effected by this, but it is certainly one of them.

Problems Caused by Diesel Supply and Price Issues

So there will be shortages and threats of shortages, and increases in the "at the pump" price of diesel fuel. And because capitalistic countries practice rationing by price, the price will be allowed to go up to clamp down on demand.

In Europe and South America this will probably lead to trucking strikes, but here in North America not so much. Instead shipping companies will just become less profitable and eventually go quietly bankrupt, and/or be taken over by other companies who will charge more and provide less in the way of service. Either way, this will lead to temporary interruptions in the supply of many goods, including fuel.

Eventually when the situation becomes serious enough that governments can no longer ignore it or pretend that the market will eventually correct the situation, we may see price controls and real rationing for diesel fuel.

Adapting to Supply Issues

The growth in the practice of "just in time" delivery in recent years leaves us vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. And in less sparsely settled remote areas, which are less profitable for shipping companies to service, such interruptions are even more likely than elsewhere.

The first response must to be abandon just in time delivery and stock locally enough of what is needed to get you through short interruptions. Local distributors will be reluctant to do so because it will hurt their bottom line, so I would suggest that individuals, families, neighbourhoods, group of friends, etc. take the problem in their own hands and stock up on necessities. Stocking up on food is one thing we should be doing right now and I can recommend the book Food Security for the Faint of Heart, by Robin Wheeler, as an excellent primer.

As the situation worsens and some goods become largely unavailable there are basically two ways to adapt: learn to do without, or set up to produce things locally. Which course is taken will be determined by how vital the goods are and how hard they are to produce locally.

I am in a bit of a minority among kollapsniks in that I think the breakdown of supply chains, just like the power grid, will happen gradually, with infrequent, short interruptions at the start, gradually becoming more frequent and longer, until eventually the system can't be relied on at all. And I suspect this will take at the very least a matter of months and more likely quite a few years.

This is fortunate in that it will give people a chance to wake up to the reality of the situation and take steps to adapt before it is too late to do so. Fortunately in areas like the one where I live there is quite a bit of agricultural production that can be diverted for local human use. And when there is no way to ship such goods out of the area, farmers will be more eager to serve local markets. Of course, when diesel fuel is in short supply, they will need help from town folks with harvesting and eventually with planting.

A collapse aware municipal government could be of great help in organizing such things, but unfortunately most local governments are focused on growth and boosting local business, and will be caught by surprise by the sort of thing we are talking about here. This is why I have been urging my readers who live in small towns to develop a network of friends and to make sure it includes some farmers.

Ideally, we'd set up some local co-operative ventures to supply the necessities of life. But things will have to get a fair bit worse than they are right now before there will be much interest in doing so, and before BAU has been weakened enough that is it possible to compete with it.

What follows is my response to a comment on a recent post questioning my idea of a slow collapse.

Fast vs Slow collapse

In the "collapshere" today it seems that the majority of voices are predicting a hard fast collapse and one that is due any day now. That has hardly changed in the last 20 years, and some people, notably KMO of the C-Realm podcast, has thrown up his hands in disgust with the standard Peal Oil narrative.

Of those making strong arguments for a fast collapse, David Korowicz, Ugo Bardi and Gail Tverberg come to mind.

David Korowicz, in his famous essay, talks about a financial crash leading to a supply chain/commercial crash as banks fail and can no longer supply credit. Towards the end of the same essay he acknowledges that there would be different degrees of crash in different countries.

Ugo Bardi talks about the Seneca cliff—how things that take a long time to build fall apart quickly. Fair enough, but the developed world took hundreds of years (from the Renaissance to the present) to build, so a few decades to fall apart seems pretty reasonable to me.

Gail Tverberg talks about the world being so closely networked together, that if one piece quits working, it all will. But she never looks in detail at how this might work, at the real details of how those networks operate.

On the other side of the argument, I favour people like John Michael Greer and Dmitri Orlov. Greer offers the idea that the people who are in power definitely don't want a collapse and have much they can do to prevent or slow down a collapse. Orlov talks about five levels of collapse—financial, commercial, political, social and cultural. And he points out that collapse may stop at any of those levels, there being in many cases nothing to force it all the way to the bottom.

My argument combines both those of Greer and Orlov and adds another element. It isn't just the people in power who don't want a collapse, it's most of the rest of us as well. You might assume that the rest of us have little say in the matter, but I don't believe this is so.

There are a great many people (in infrastructure and supply chain industries, for instance) in positions where they can do something about collapse. Especially if they realize that it is happening and refuse to just let it proceed unimpeded. Much of collapse consists of things that quit working because confidence has been lost in the system.

In many cases they could be kept working if those involved chose to do so. Or failing that, alternatives could be found if people chose to co-operate in doing so.

The availability of credit is a prime example. Currently businesses rely on banks to provide guarantees when they (the businesses) are dealing with people they don't know. But there is no fundamental reason why we have to rely on the existing banks, and no reason businesses couldn't set up alternative arrangements in order to keep functioning.

The thing is to realize what is happening and what can be done to stop it. A lot of people think that managers make things work and working class people are no more than cogs in the machine, but in fact anything a manager "accomplishes" actually gets done by a worker who knows a lot more about what has to be done than his boss.

The other thing is that we are not going into this completely blind. Already there have been financial crashes, large scale grid failures and so forth. I think in the near future we will see partial and temporary supply chain breakdowns and many breakdowns at the retail level of our commercial systems. But people at every level in the system will get wise to these events and skilled at containing the damage and patching things back together again.

Of course the system will get shakier as this goes on and parts of it will be abandoned when they are deemed to be beyond repair. This will lead to areas being cut off from vital supplies and in large population centres there will be no possibility of relying on local supplies. This is as close to a hard fast collapse as I expect to see. But it will still be localized and early in the process there will still be places for those affected to seek refuge and resources to mount relief efforts.

I have already written at length on how this might play out in small towns with the local resources to feed themselves and at a sufficient remove from large centres so as not to be overwhelmed by refugees.

For now that's about all I have to say, although I am sure there will be some comments to spark further thought on my part. Next time we'll talk about money and how we can adapt to the failure of the financial and banking systems.


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

 

A World on Fire

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Published on The Doomstead Diner December 1, 2019

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Working up the energy for a blog for Sunday Collapse Brunch this week has been tough for a few reasons.  Health wise, I am doing crappy again, but this isn't the only problem.  My main computer is also getting close to death, it was crashing on me about every hour for a few days.  Now it seems to be in a sort of remission.and hasn't crashed since late last night.  So I am risking writing an article and hoping I don't lose it before I have a chance to publish.

Beyond the health issues and technical problems there are other deeper ones ongoing here.  As I peruse the headlines on the Google Search Engine each day there is a new riot occurring in a new city.  The entire continent of South America appears to be on fire now.  Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil…you can bring up Videos now on YouTube that are IRL versions of Children of Men every day.  Then there's Hong Kong, Paris, Barcelona and of course Istanbul & Tehran.  Spin the Globe and plop your finger down  any randm spot at all and you can find an ongoing political collapse.

Meanwhile here in the FSoA and across the Pond in Jolly Old England you have the Kabuki Theater productions of Impeachment and Brexit, which is almost not worth commenting on with so much more havoc ongoing in other nations as we speak, where people are literally being mowed down in the streets.  Here exploding in numbers are the number of Homeless in just about every Big Shity from New York to Chicago to Seattle to Los Angeles.  With that exploding population we are seeing Diseases now we haven't seen in such numbers ince the Middle Ages.  Typhus, Typhoid Fever, Cholera, their all making a comeback in ever increasing numbers.

The above video is just one of hundreds you can Google up these days if you are concerned about this ever growing problem.  Cities and towns all across the country are passing laws that essentially criminalize homelessness, so the current  solution seems to be to put them in jail  Can we really build enough jails to give all these folks 3 Hots and a Cot?  It's notoriously expensive to drop people in jail also, it costs nearly double wnat I live on per year these days, but building Affordable Housing isn't being done much.  There aren't the job programs or  jobs to give these folks something productive to do with their lives.  They are of course disproportionately Black, Brown and Hispanic people, but plenty of poor White Trash out there too.

For the real Street level Homeless in a ramshackle tent under an overpass somewhere, they aren't living,they are waiting to die.  There are levels and degrees of homelessness though, there are people couch surfing if they still have friends or relatives who will take them in; there are people living in RVs and Vans in the Walmart parking lots.  Does anyone have a count or keep statistics on how many people are in this situation?  I susspect it is much larger than the numbers out there sleeping rough.

Still, with all this evidence of Collapse overwhelming the Newz Cycle, there is still also a huge cadre of Amerikans who deny it is occurring, still enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner and still shopping till they drop on Black Friday, although they do it mostly Online now so you don't have those ridiulous scenes at Walmart or Best Buy of fistfights betwen shoppers looking for a great deal on an Iphone.  If they still have a job or get enough Mailbox Money to live comfortably, they simply don't notice all the people who have ALREADY fallen off the cliff.  Now the Clown-in-Chief is floating a plan to cut millions off from their SNAP Card allotment of monthly nourishment.  If that flies, things will not end well.  The problems you see today in Santiago or Bogota will migrate quite rapidly north of the border.

There is no question anymore, COLLAPSE HAS ARRIVED.  It can and will get a lot worse of course.  But there is no  more question for a Collapse Writer anymore of "When will SHTF Day arrive?"  It has already come and gone.  For me, it gets harder all the time to write or even just post Newz Links, because Diners have seen it all and heard it all for years now.  There's nothing really NEW here, it's just a steady increase in the frequency and magnitude of the events.

The same advice as always still applies, get out of the Big Shity and go off grid if you can.  If you can't, plan for a Bugout when your neighborhood deteriorates too much. Form COMMUNITY, get together with friends and relatives you know and trust.  Prep up with Food, Fuel, Generators, Fishing Gear, traps and of course the old standby of Guns & Ammo.

I am out of the bizness of making Nostradamus Predictons of when things will thoroughly unravel in any given neighborhood.  I don't know when it will arrive for you if it hasn't happened to you already.  But it's coming, and it's coming fast.  Everybody Knows.

Thanksgiving Pizza

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Published on The Doomstead Diner November 28, 2019

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Thanksgiving 2019 has ARRIVED, and it's time to itemize what we have to be Thankful for this year.  We can be Thankful for the fact many of us are still alive, although according to Statistics, we are dieing faster every day.  We can be Thankful for the fact that FOOD is still available here in the FSoA at mostly affordable prices even on a SNAP Card budget. We can be Thankful that as of this morning, Planet Earth has not collided with a Planet Killer asteroid.

Beyond that though, we have a good deal MORE not to be Thankful for here on the last Thursday of November 2019.  It's not a great day for Happy Motoring to your relatives for your Turkey Dinner, since a Bomb Cyclone has dumped mega tons of snow in many spots acrss the country.  It's not too good for Albanians who lost everything in their latest Earthquake.  Californicators who have been burned out of their McMansions or just had all the meat in their freezers go bad from lack of the Electric Juice aren't too happy either.

Probably worst of all right now here in the FSoA is the fact we still have an Orange topped CRIMINAL and PATHOLOGICAL LIAR as the Clown-in-Chief running the country, and worse still he still (supposedly, according to polls) has half the J6Ps out there supporting him!  It matters not how many people testify to the actions taken to shake down the Ukrainians to smear Uncle Joe Biden, because that half of the population simply does not CARE that this occurred. Political Corruption is an expected and in many cases desired thing.  "Democracy" is a lie which never existed at all, certainly not in my lifetime.

In prior Thaanksgiving articles over the year, I have gone over some Big Buffets I contributed a dish to, Thanksgiving Dinners I had had with a gaggle of drunken relatives and Thanksgiving Dinners which consited of a Swanson Turkey TV Dinner.  This year I had hoped to have a big communal Dinner with some of my fellow residents of my community, but annoying problems like getting sent to jail or moving out of state got in the way of this idea.  Not me yet, I'm still flying under the radar of the Gestapo, but nevertheless it's another Solo Thanksgiving Day for me.  So I decided to change up for this one, and make a PIZZA for Thanksgiving!  It's an Olive-Mushroom-Zucchini augmented Pizza, and it's quite good.  I'll be having it cold for Breakfast on Black Friday as well, while I shop for deals online at Amazon, Walmart & B&H Photo.  If you want the Recipe and want to listen to me Rant on our latest Collapse Newz, you can watch the Video heading this article.

The Economic-Oil Nexus (EON) Part 1: Why have low oil prices and various economic stimuli over the past several years failed to restore global economic growth?

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on November 24, 2019

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By Geoffrey Chia, November 2019

EONpart1flowchart

I recently listened to a podcast from the "Counterpunch" website on oil and the global economy which I found disappointing. https://store.counterpunch.org/jp-sottile-episode-140/ JP Sottile certainly appeared knowledgeable about the geopolitics of oil in the Middle East but exhibited zero understanding of Peak Oil which he therefore declared to be “garbage”. He asserted that the idea of Peak Oil was a ploy to create “artificial scarcity” to prop up oil prices. He subscribed to the common delusion that current low oil prices disprove Peak Oil and indicate that oil must be abundant and will remain so for the foreseeable future, a completely wrong-headed view. http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2017/07/13/the-economics-of-unconventional-oils-externalities-be-damned/

He repeated the mainstream mantra that there is now a “chronic oil glut”, a completely erroneous way of looking at things. Gross liquid hydrocarbon output may have risen since 2006 but net production of true oil has actually been flat or fallen. http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2019/01/02/how-business-as-usual-has-been-pursued-since-2006-by-escalating-fraud-and-environmental-vandalism/#comment-10693

He also repeated the misleading factoid that the largest oil reserves in the world are in Venezuela, a useful meme to imply that Venezuela's current economic problems are entirely due to their own mismanagement. I cannot say often enough that the only economically valuable sources of oil are high EROEI or “easy oil” sources and low EROEI sources such as Venezuela's vast Orinoco heavy oil deposits are of NO economic value, no matter how much technically recoverable oil they are theoretically supposed to have (if harvested, low EROEI sources actually exhibit NEGATIVE value). This is why China has no interest in Venezuela but is deeply interested in Iran, Iraq (which is moving politically closer to Iran), Russia and the Caspian states which, after the Saudi client state of the US, are the locations with the largest remaining reserves of high EROEI oil. There is NO “break-even” price at which unconventional oils become economically worthwhile, using honest accounting. Low EROEI sources only get harvested on the basis of market fraud and government subsidies/tax breaks and NOT because they can ever generate any profit in a sane market.

Sottile also stated that the “end of oil is on the horizon” because we will transition to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy and because we will voluntarily choose to reduce our carbon emissions. His views mirrored commentary from the “Economist” magazine, flagship propaganda rag of the establishment, in their recent issue regarding the IPO of Saudi Aramco https://www.economist.com/printedition/2019-11-02.

Let us be clear: Firstly there is no prospect we will ever be able to transition en mass from oil powered to electric vehicles to enable ongoing pursuit of “business as usual” or anything resembling “usual”. Such views reflect profound ignorance of the physics and chemistry (especially energy densities) of fuels, of thermodynamics, of energy extraction, conversion, storage and distribution issues and of the life cycle embodied energies of vehicles and transport infrastructure and how they are constructed (themselves requiring liquid hydrocarbon fuels in the process). I invoke yet again the incisive and comprehensive quantitative analyses of Alice Friedemann of http://energyskeptic.com/ who has put paid to those mainstream delusions.

Secondly, although we certainly need to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate against the worst possible climate outcomes, the unfortunate reality is that the Military-Industrial-Corporate-State addiction to oil, massively overwhelms any and all good intentions. Addicts do not “choose” to do things, they are compelled to do things because of circumstances forced upon them. We will ultimately be forced to abandon oil due to the depletion of high EROEI petroleum and because of our failure to plan over the past few decades. Energy descent will not happen calmly and systematically. The window for peaceful change has long gone. Reality will relentlessly drag us yelling, kicking and screaming into a harsh future of poverty and deprivation and many will lash out violently in the process. The Hobbesian war of all against all. We are going Cold Turkey, much as Kurt Vonnegut wrote in in his famous essay back in 2004: http://inthesetimes.com/article/cold_turkey What have human beings learned since then? Absolutely nothing.

To be fair, Sottile seemed to be expressing opinions that he held honestly, no matter how wrong-headed. In that respect it may be inappropriate to lump him in the same category as those lying, malicious global warming deniers or deceitful establishment economic prostitutes, many of whom are touted as academic "experts". One big problem of such “experts” is that of tunnel vision within their microscopic field of choice, their inability to see the big picture. Another problem is that many such pseudo-experts are simply bonkers, especially the amoral Neoclassical Neoliberal Austrian/Chicago Economic School sociopaths such as Hayek and Friedman. Such overblown pseudo-experts (who may even have been awarded the Nobel prize for economics – which is not an actual Nobel prize) promote the vested financial interests of the 0.1%. They are immensely useful idiots, the high priests of Capitalism and hence must be lionised and worshipped by the mainstream media. Their reputations have been vastly inflated by the establishment, far above their woefully limited intellectual capacities, not to mention their woeful lack of moral fibre. Profits above people are the only things which matter, except when giving backhanders to your fellow crony capitalists. We should remember that Adam Smith himself wrote “the theory of moral sentiments” before he wrote “the wealth of nations”. Although he was the original “free market” classical economist, Smith was deeply concerned about ethical regulation and governance to reduce human suffering and enhance well being, unlike the Neoclassical conartists.

There are many other overblown and overrated celebrants, proponents and apologists for the Western Industrial Capitalist system pervading the internet, Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker being among the most prominent. But hey, if you can cultivate an impressive shock of white hair, carefully coiffed to resemble that of Einstein, then people gotta believe you are real smart, don't they? Notwithstanding such pulchritudinous follicular triumph, genuinely smart people like Richard Wolff and Noam Chomsky have thoroughly and convincingly demolished the platforms of Peterson and Pinker respectively, showing them up to be the mediocre useful idiots they actually are. The fact that Peterson confessed to be an avid fan of Bjorn Lomborg, another absurd pretender, is proof positive he is a microcephalic scientific ignoramus. On the other hand, Peterson is smart enough to know he ain't that smart. After bombastically issuing a public challenge to all comers, he wisely declined to debate Richard Wolff about Marxist economics, knowing he was out of his depth and would be savaged like a sheep by Wolff.

SP in elegant, pensive pose: Sartorially, a pulchritudinous follicular triumph. Intellectually, a sloppy, cringeworthy embarrassment.

JP pontificating on throne: give due credit that he is smart enough to know he ain't that smart. Also remembers to flush after vacating said throne.

As mentioned above, it is not just one idea but many ideas that we need to juggle in our heads simultaneously to try to achieve a proper understanding of our current circumstances. Mathematically and quantitatively this is an impossible task for any single individual, however the Limits to Growth scientists did an admirable job addressing this difficulty by careful computer modelling conducted more than 45 years ago. Their standard model has held up incredibly well with modern day reality. In an effort to subjectively illustrate the dynamic interaction of multiple contemporary factors within a complex framework, I devised this simple 3 dimensional model as a visual aid to understanding: https://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-seneca-cliff-explained-as-network.html

I am saying nothing new here which I have not already stated before, but will try to summarise the essentials in a cogent manner, hopefully more clearly than I have previously, this time adding flow charts. I will highlight key concepts and omit less important considerations which might detract and distract from those key concepts. It is impossible to be more comprehensive without writing a multitude of more detailed essays employing graphs and diagrams with appended supportive references (which I have already done previously).

Insert EONflowchart.jpg here

This article, “EON Part1” attempts to answer the apparently simple question: "why have low oil prices and various economic stimuli over the past several years failed to restore global economic growth to the way things were before the crash of 2008/9?"

That question is predicated on certain historical observations noted prior to the world reaching the peak/plateau of conventional oil output in 2006: that high oil prices in the past tended to cause inflation and economic recession, and that low oil prices in the past tended to stimulate productivity and economic growth. I will tackle the answer(s) to that two part question in two parts as well.

Answer to part 1 of the question: Low Oil Prices:

The question itself is flawed in the context of our new post Peak Oil situation because it looks at things in a flawed manner. Confusion reigns supreme because we are attempting to see things through the distorted lens of price. Oil price is a flawed derived variable, subject to all sorts of manipulations and distortions, which I assert is unimportant. I will repeat that. Oil price is unimportant. What is important to consumers, to businesses, to enterprises which provide real services and produce real items of real material value in the real world, is oil affordability. It does not matter if oil is "cheap" now. If my business was destroyed by the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 and I have been unable to build things up again, if my income stream is presently a mere trickle, I cannot now afford to buy significant amounts of that "cheap" oil, certainly nowhere near the amount that used to drive my previous profligate middle class lifestyle. I cannot return to those heady pre-2009 high consumption days. Decimation of the high consumption middle classes has caused destruction of demand, a key concept.

At its most basic, price is a reflection of supply versus demand. Pre Peak Oil, low oil prices were largely a reflection of increasing oil supply and did at that time largely reflect affordability. Post Peak Oil, low oil prices are largely an enduring result of demand destruction and are therefore NOT a reflection of affordability, certainly not by the majority of the population.

It is possible to have low oil prices in the presence of declining oil supply, if the demand and supply are both declining in tandem or especially if demand is destroyed at a greater rate than supply.

The first part of the question posed should therefore NOT be "why have current low oil prices failed to restore economic growth?" but should be rephrased as "why is the questioner still trapped in a pre Peak Oil mindset?"

Also confusing the picture is the interplay between economic/financial policies and oil production, which did not unfold in a manner any sane person could have reasonably anticipated prior to the peak of conventional oil. Sane people could never have predicted the whole scale, open slather rape of the environment to harvest unconventional oils, driven by outright fraud and Ponzi madness to fund scams which hopelessly failed to break even financially, much less produce profits. Yes, this insanity did forestall the net decline in oil supply, but at horrific cost. Foolish suckers like BHP Billiton can attest to that.

We need to clarify and better define confusing terminology: low oil prices and cheap oil do not mean the same thing. “Cheap” oil cannot truly be called “cheap” if it is unaffordable by the majority. Just because the oil price is now low compared to historic highs does not mean oil is cheap. Unconventional oils are in reality very expensive to extract and transport (mostly by diesel vehicles, not by pipeline) but they have been rendered “cheap” by the flood of low interest money loaned to suckers who will ultimately lose their shirts when the unconventional oil scams collapse. Unconventional oils have been subsidised by stupidity. Furthermore these low EROEI expensive oils simply cannot be sold in the market unless price matched to higher EROEI conventional oil, which is truly “cheap” to harvest and transport.

Answer to Part 2 of the question: Low Interest Rates:

But what about the current low interest rates? Surely that should stimulate former bankrupted small business owners, previously crushed by the heavy weight of irredeemable debt, to now borrow heaps of fiat money again from those wonderful banks to resurrect their former businesses back to pre 2009 glory? And if they can do that, surely their former customers, also now in financial dire straits, can also access cheap money from the banks to buy more goods and services from those small businesses, all those activities driving up the national GDP? One response to this scenario is the phrase "once bitten, twice shy". There is nothing to prevent the banks from raising their interest rates without warning once they have snared the borrower in debt.

However the main answer here lies in who is actually being offered the cheap loans. Is it the small business battlers who lost all their assets after 2009, who may now be deemed unacceptable credit risks by the banks, or are those cheap loans mainly going to large corporations who claim to have massive assets (e.g. huge coal or oil deposits) in their glossy brochures? Professor Richard Wolff has stated that it is largely the latter being given the cheap money. And what have those corporations done with that cheap money? They have bought back their own publicly listed shares (an act previously deemed illegal but now permitted in the deregulated economy) resulting in inflation of their share prices, without any reinvestment in real infrastructure and without increasing real productivity. This has been demonstrated by the huge increases in price/earnings ratios of many large companies over the past several years. Share price rises have fuelled a monumental Ponzi stock market, while also funding insane negative value scams such as Shale Oil. Why engage in share buyback? Because CEO salary bonuses are tied to the company share prices. Furthermore those CEOs know their particular industries have no future, so reinvestment is pointless and they may as well take the money and run.

What is the consequence of the former middle class small business owners or employees now relegated to slave wages in Walmart or Costco, not having access to cheap money and not being able to bootstrap themselves back to middle class wealth again? It is the enduring phenomenon of demand destruction: those folks still cannot afford to buy much "cheap oil", which keeps the oil demand low and hence oil prices low. How many such people have been affected? Literally hundreds of millions of formerly high consuming people in the so-called first world countries. A huge proportion of the former middle class of the USA has been reduced to penury. We have seen the destruction of the entire middle classes of the European PIIGS countries, even extending to France as evidenced by the “yellow vest” protests. Retail establishments have been closing and businesses failing at rates never seen before which cannot be explained by the rise of online shopping alone but can be explained by consumption destruction and demand destruction. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/retail-apocalypse-start-of-2019-more-store-closures-all-of-2018-2019-4?op=1&r=US&IR=T

Students see poor economic prospects for themselves and increasing swathes of graduates find themselves eking a living out as baristas or waiters or cleaners while simultaneously being saddled with massive student debts they will never be able to repay. Many from southern Europe have left or are leaving their home countries for (illusory) greener pastures overseas, causing their home countries to lose even more of their future tax base and their working populations e.g. Greece and Spain.

The rising middle class within China, although substantial, has done little to offset this phenomenon. Their construction of high speed electric railways and plans to electrify all their road vehicles has helped and will help to reduce their demand for oil and hence blunt rises in the world oil price. However such measures have not and will not eliminate their absolute need for oil for their industrial economy to function.

To summarise: Current low oil prices are largely the result of destruction of oil demand which was the result of the collapse of millions of businesses, investments and retirement funds around the world, which was the result of the default of irredeemable debt imposed on unwary borrowers by predatory lenders.

Debt defaults were accelerated by the Peaking/Plateauing of net oil production. When net oil production becomes flat, real material growth grinds to a halt and ongoing debts become impossible to service.

Debt entrapment had been facilitated by "financial innovations" such as sub-prime lending, bogus derivatives (e.g. collateralised debt obligations) and bogus assurances (e.g. credit default swaps). Those giant scams were facilitated by the deregulation of the banks e.g. Clinton overturning Glass-Steagall in 1999.

A similar mechanism of predatory lending e.g. German banks offering irredeemable debt to Greece was the underlying basis for the eventual Greek economic collapse, causing penury, decimation of their public services and ongoing enforcement of impoverishment to service their ongoing debt (i.e. austerity). This is literally killing many ordinary Greeks.

We may now well see a gradual increase in demand for oil with the current ongoing low oil prices, which may transiently increase economic output, however that “growth” will undoubtedly be destroyed again by the inevitable subsequent rise in oil prices and ongoing relentless decline in high EROEI sources. Fluctuating oil prices overlying a stuttering contraction of the global economy was a solid prediction of Peak Oil theory more than a decade ago. When economic activities eventually contract to the delivery of only bare subsistence goods and services, when consumers no longer have any discretionary expenditure, there will be a final skyrocketing of oil prices causing rampant hyperinflation which will very likely trigger war(s). That will represent the end game for global industrial civilisation.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

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Published on The Doomstead Diner November 17, 2019

Note:  I meant ARTICHOKE HEARTS, not AVOCADO HEARTS! lol

 

Discuss this Video and Article at the Collapse Wake-Up Call Table inside the Diner

 

We have moved into a new and more intensive phase of Collapse, and this week I got myself back into gear to fullfill my Mission from God to chronicle this shit before I buy my ticket to the Great Beyond.

It has been an intense month in the world of Collapse between the Wildfires in Oz and Sunny California, the Brexit Kabuki still ongoing across the Pond, yet another Shoot-em-Up yesterday in a CA High Shool,  Hong Kong Protesters breaking out the Primitive Weapons to fight the Gestapo utilizing Tear Gas and Water Cannons, and of course our own Clown Show here on Live Reality TV from the Hallowed Halls of CONgress.

My tradition has been to produce a Collapse Meal here on the Doomstead Diner for Sunday Brunch, and over the last 7 years I havent missed too many Sundays,  The last few weeks though I have been engaged in another very important pursuit, online Gaming. lol.  I have been at War almost non-stop for about 3 weeks battling other much younger and healthier Gamers in the virtual world as it might be after SHTF Day arrives in earnest.  I will write more about this latest addiction of mine in an upcoming blog.

Image result for spy vs spyAs for the more Topical subject of the current Impeachment Melodrama is concerned, in this weeks' e[isode of the Collapse Morning Wake-Up call, we have two unlikely Heros who testified in fornt of the CONgress Critters on Wednesday, the career "Civil Servants" Bill Taylor & George Kent.  This is said in revered tones, how these men have selflessly dedicated their lives to the Public Good.  Normally though, when you think of Civil Service Workers, you think of the Clerks at the DMV when you go to get your Driver's License renewed.  Or maybe the Sanitation Engineers who come to pick up your Garbage and take it to the Land of Away at the City Dump.  LOL.  Somehow though, it's hard to think of Ambassadors and CIA Apparatchiks as "Civil Service" Workers.  For one thing, their pay scale is a good deal better, not to mention the perks and all those Frequent Flyer Miles they get!

These guys are the SAME dudes who Dealt Death to Vietnamese Villagers back in the day, but now they are HEROS, because they are outing Trumpovetsky as corrupt!  hahahahahahahaha. It's Spy vs Spy, the Corrupt of the MIC vs the corrupt Mob in the White House!  Mad Magazine has come to life!  Alfred E Newman is POTUS too!

While I engage Ghosts & Zombies in Cyberspace though, the real world occassionally intrudes, and I did find it compelling this week to deal with it and comment on it.  But how can you deal with such a Clusterfuck sober?  So for this week's Sunday Brunch, I give you my recipe for one of my KILLER Bloody Marys, along with a dose of Collapse errata.  Definitely try out the recipe, it will really improve your outlook for the day while you digest the insanity in today's newz cycle..

Responding to Collapse, Part 14: adapting to life without the grid

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool on October 29, 2019

Late October Sunset over Lake Huron

Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner

I am still on Hiatus, not so much due to being under the weather as due to my new Gaming habit, playing the online, browser based game of Vikings: War of Clans.  For the Doomer and Collapse Prepper & Planner, it's the best game I have found to date which makes you think about your Resources, plan for Zombie Attacks and secure and build your Doomstead.  I have been engaged in a non-stop series of Battles and Competitions over the last couple of weeks as I learned the features of the Game, of which there are many.  When my addicition finally calms down, I'll get back to work writing about all the IRL DOOM currently facing us, most notably this week the EXTREME fire problem in Oz, where the fires have moved from the Bush to the Big Shity of Sydney in New South Wales.  Before we hear from Irv who is standing in again for me this week, here's one of the current Newz Reports.  This and the major danger day isn't until Tuesday! – RE

 

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By Irv Mills

 

This is the last of 4 posts on coping with the decline and demise of the power grid that I promised in Part 11) of this Responding to Collapse series. Last time, with the help of Joe Clarkson, we looked at a typical off grid solar electric system. I would encourage anyone with sufficient financial resources to set up such a system. But even using the most durable equipment produced by BAU (business as usual), and with lots of spare parts in stock, such a system will eventually come to the point where no more use can be eked out of it using locally available "village" level technology and materials.

Before things come to that point, though, such a system can serve two very import uses:

1) allow us to use electrical power for things like lighting, refrigeration, pumping water, communication and entertainment, which will help reduce the initial shock of adapting to post grid life.

2) allow us to use what modern tools and power equipment we have on hand to facilitate the construction of low tech power systems that don't need things semiconductors or fossil fuels, which will be in short supply.

That second use is what I'll be talking about today.

The Context of Collapse

But first I'd like to review the context in which I believe all this will be happening—it has been a while since I've talked about that.

The majority of people in the "collapse sphere" here on the internet are expecting a hard, fast collapse sometime in the next few years. Many of them have been expecting it to happen next year for 15 or 20 years now and others have begun to chuckle at the long string of failed predictions. But my observation is that collapse started back in the 1970s when conventional oil production peaked in the continental United States. It has progressed since then and I expect it will continue, gradually and bumpily—unevenly (geographically), unsteadily (chronologically) and unequally (socially), until BAU can no longer provide us with the necessities of life.

One popular expectation among kollapsniks is that some trigger event will cause a financial crash and that will lead to a breakdown of supply chains that will leave almost everyone cold, hungry and in the dark. This sort of fast collapse makes for great stories with lots of conflict and drama, but in reality a planet is a big place. I can't imagine the degree of co-ordination it would take to make this happen fast and hard, all at once across the whole world. Especially when many of us will be working together to stop it from happening.

So yes, there will a financial crash or, most likely, several crashes over a period of years, but the damage will not be uniform across the whole system. And yes, in some areas, it will be serious enough that the supply chains supporting human life will start to fail. But not completely and not everywhere at once.

Initially governments will still have the wherewithal to mount relief efforts for the worst hit areas. Probably using the military to move fuel, water, food and medical supplies to affected areas, and to set up refugee camps for those who are forced to leave their homes. But as the economy crumbles it will have a weakening effect on governments and their resources will be stretched thin. Already we are seeing a tendency to blame people for whatever plight they find themselves in and to abandon them to their own devices, cutting back on expensive relief efforts. This will no doubt get worse, especially in right wing countries where the social contract is weak and the upper classes rule solely for their own benefit. That would include the USA, in my opinion.

Things will get pretty grim, especially in those camps. Indeed, I suspect that in areas where no help is forthcoming, the majority of people (maybe as many as 80 to 90 percent) aren't going to make it through. This is certainly nothing to cheer about, but I am afraid it is one of the harsh realities of collapse. Another unpleasant reality is that under such circumstances, there will be large numbers of desperate, hungry refugees walking out of the large population centres where food is no longer to be found.

Because collapse is happening unevenly, when you find yourself in difficult circumstances, you can usually find someplace else where things aren't so bad. I have been talking, throughout this series of posts, about doing just that—setting yourself up in a small remote town with local food and energy resources, far enough from large towns and cities so that the majority of refugees travelling on foot are unlikely to make it to your small town. That way, you'll be able to welcome those who do make it, rather than being swamped by them.

And I've been urging people to make their move while there is still time to build a network of acquaintances and friends who can help you cope with the gradual decline of BAU and adapt to its eventual demise. I am not suggesting that such places will be exempt from collapse, but rather that they have the local resources to adapt in ways that large population centres simply can't. A big part of that preparation will include being ready to switch over to subsistence farming when those supply chains finally let you down. And having sufficient food stored to see you through to your first harvest. All within walking distance of where you live.

That is really a subject for another day, but it does have a connection to the eventual demise of the power grid and our response to that demise. Bumpy collapse is hard on continent spanning structures like the grid and will be one of the causes of its demise, along with the faults built into capitalism. But a gradual bumpy collapse does give people a chance to wake up to what is going on.

Long before there is a massive die-off due to supply chain failure, there will be a period (perhaps it has already started) when things are going badly wrong in enough places that anyone who is paying attention will start to get pretty concerned. We saw this happen during and for the years before and after the Global Financial Crisis (approximately 2006 to 2012)—the idea of collapse gained quite a bit of credibility. But then things settled down and interest in collapse waned. I am now seeing interest starting to grow again and I expect this will continue. So finding people to work with on preparations may well become much easier than it is now.

During that period the resources of BAU will still be more or less available and those wise enough to do so will be able to set up some local structures which can step in to replace BAU when the need arises—community gardens and farms, food storage co-ops, energy co-ops and so forth.

I encourage you to pick a town with farmland, ground water and standing timber in good supply. It would also be useful if there are one or more good hydro power resources nearby. There is falling water in abundance here in southern Ontario. Many small towns were once mill towns and still have the remains of a dam and an abandoned mill or generating station which could be refurbished with much less effort than starting from scratch.

I am convinced that there is no need for collapse to take us all the way back to the stone age or even the middle ages. But I am also sure that material consumption and energy use must fall to a sustainable level that can be supported with local, renewable resources.

To stop a fall all the way back to the stone age, we will need to take advantage of some of the legacies of BAU.

BAU's Legacies

One hears a great deal about the negative legacies that BAU is leaving for future generations—climate change, resource depletion, environmental and social disruption—the list goes on. I don't disagree with any of that, but I'd like to point out that there will also be some positive legacies that many people who are thinking about collapse aren't taking into account.

  • The first of these, in my estimation, is the knowledge that mankind has accumulated up to this point, including the scientific method and the change in attitudes that came with the Enlightenment. Immersed as we are in that knowledge, it is hard to appreciate how difficult it was for people in the past to make the discoveries and developments they did, without knowing in advance what was even possible or how to accomplish it. We have an immense advantage over them, in that we know a great deal about the world around us and how things work.
  • Second, there are alive today many skilled and ingenious people, tradesmen and hobbyists, even engineers, who, after industrial civilization grinds to a halt, will be able to do a great deal with its remnants.
  • Thirdly there will be all those remnants, including:

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • durable equipment and tools that will continue working for years or decades after the factories of BAU have gone dark
    • large scale infrastructure such as roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, communications, power, water and sewage systems, factories, housing and other buildings
    • true, many of these will be left in pretty rough shape, but what can't be used as is will still have a great deal of value for the materials that can be salvaged from it
    • initially there will even be some fossil fuels left in local storage, plus materials and spare parts sitting on shelves ready for us to use

It is to be hoped that some of those skilled people will have set up off-grid power systems and things like tool libraries and workshops (maker spaces as they are called these days). We should encourage and support such efforts in every way we can, since they will be of great importance in facilitating the transition to long term, sustainable systems that can be operated, maintained and replaced when necessary with "village technology", local materials and local sources of energy.

Local energy sources

I think it's worth taking a look at what kinds of energy may be available locally and how can they be harnessed.

Fossil fuels

Fossil fuels will no longer be readily available except in the few areas where there are functional oil/gas wells or coal mines. Sure, thinking of climate change, it would be better to keep that carbon in the ground rather that returning more of it to the atmosphere. Still, I wouldn't discourage anyone from making use of such an energy source if it is close at hand, and you can get it out of the ground and convert it into usable forms. The amount of CO2 involved would be tiny compared to what's going into the atmosphere today.

Nuclear Energy

I live only a few miles from a nuclear plant, and I used to work in the switchyards there. The importance of a reliable tie to the grid was firmly impressed on me—without it, nuclear stations cannot operate safely. So nuclear plants will have to be shut down as the grid becomes unreliable. The employees of those plants, who live nearby, have a large incentive to see them shut down and mothballed safely. They will take this into their own hands, regardless of what company executives might want. And I am sure the employees will have the backing of the local community.

It is important to get that shutdown underway as quickly as possible while we still have the resources to do it. I expect spent fuel will be stored locally in dry flasks, which is considerably safer than leaving it in spent fuel ponds.

This leaves us with renewable energy sources—solar, wind, hydro, tidal, and biomas.

Solar Power

Converting solar energy into electricity takes some pretty high tech equipment. Photovoltaics (solar cells) will almost certainly be beyond our ability to produce locally. It is possible to use solar energy to create steam and drive turbines which power electrical generators. But this is really only slightly lower tech than semiconductor solar panels. And because solar energy is intermittent, we'd need some way of storing it, probably batteries. In the quantity needed, batteries are likely beyond village technology.

That leaves us to use heat from the sun directly for water or space heating, cooking, drying crops, or for process heat in cottage industry situations. And to find a way of doing this where the intermittency is not a problem. Glass is needed to make efficient solar collectors, and all but the simplest passive solar installations need electric motors and fans or pumps to move collected solar energy (hot air or water) to where you need it.

Wind Power

Wind power is also intermittent, and largely unpredictable as well, so either you need some way of storing the power or you need to use it in ways that can manage with an intermittent power source. Pumping water into storage containers at a higher level is one traditional example. Wind power has been used for grinding grain as well.

The towers, blades and gearing required as likely to be within the reach of village technology.

Hydro Power

Hydro power is slightly intermittent, but only on a seasonal basis and it is reasonably predictable. It can even be stored in head ponds to smooth out variations in load. It is doable with nineteenth century technology, and even simpler equipment if you use the mechanical power directly rather than generating electricity.

Tidal Power

There are a few location in the world where high tides can, with clever arrangements of dams, be used to drive water wheels or turbines. Tides are also intermittent, but quite predictable.

Biomass

Where I live, this would consist mainly of firewood, which can also be converted into wood gas or charcoal. It is useful for space heating, water heating, process heat, and can be both produced and used with very simple equipment. Of all these energy sources, biomass is the easiest to harness at the individual and family level, without setting up more complex community projects.

Wood gas can fuel internal combustion engines and firewood can fuel steam engines, both of which can power electrical generators. But this is only practical if there is wood left after vital uses like cooking and heating have been taken care of.

It is also vital to keep in mind that biomass is only a renewable resource if we use it at a rate slower than the rate at which it grows. Fortunately, forestry is a well established science and it can guide us in which trees to cut, how many of them, and how many and what type of new trees to plant.

Biogas

This is methane produced during anaerobic composting of manure and other organic materials. It can be useful in many ways, just like natural gas. But a lot of manure is needed to make useful quantities of biogas.

Muscle Power

For most of our history (and prehistory) energy mainly came from human or animal muscles. This has largely gone out of fashion in the industrial world, but I suspect that as collapse progresses, it will once again become the default where mechanical power is needed and nothing else is available.

Harnessing Local Energy Sources

There is a lot that can be done at the individual/family level to conserve energy, to make use of what's available locally, and to get by without electricity. But once you've decided to harness most of the energy sources above, a community effort will be required, especially if they are going to be used to generate electricity.

When talking about harnessing such energy resources, we must always consider whether the energy gathered will justify the energy and manhours used to build the equipment needed to gather it. Without the legacies I described above, I suspect the answer would more often than not be no, but with them, I think there is much that can be done. Remember that during the initial crisis of adapting to grid and supply chain break down in your area there will likely be some off-grid power systems to draw on.

At any rate, there is always the option of using these energy sources directly as heat or mechanical energy when we don't have electrical generating systems set up yet, or when they have failed beyond our capacity to repair. This also saves the inefficiencies involved in converting energy from one form to another, and the trouble of setting up distribution systems. Flour mills and saw mills are excellent examples.

Yes, at the start, the overpowering need will be for food, water and firewood, and a well organized community would divert available manpower to supplying those needs. But electrical equipment can actually make those tasks easier, replacing manhours with kilowatt hours, and doing some things, like lighting and refrigeration that no amount of manpower can do.

When the initial crisis has been overcome, there will be some spare manhours than can be spent on setting up a sustainable power system. I am terribly tempted to go into some specifics of what might be done, but it would have to get pretty technical and would make this post much longer than it should be.

Using Energy Wisely

In parts 11 and 12 of this series I included a list of important uses for electricity and alternatives to use during outages. But this time we're considering the permanent loss of the grid, and instead of coping temporarily with grid outages, we're talking about adapting to that permanent loss, either by generating our own power, by replacing it with other energy alternatives or practicing conservation—using less energy. We should be aware in advance that this will require some changes in the way we live.

Lights

Conservation is pretty simple here—we can do without lights at night, and set up workshops with windows to let in sunlight. But at higher latitudes, winter nights are long and much could be accomplished during them if we had artificial light.

Without electricity, you burn something to make light. Candle wax, kerosene, naphtha and propane are all based on fossil fuels and will not be available for long. Vegetable oil, animal fat, and alcohol will be locally available, but the source in each case is something that could also be used as food. If food is in short supply, lighting will have to suffer. This is one area where biogas could be quite useful.

My beloved mantle lamps will be hard to produce, as those mantles use salts of various elements that are not likely to be available locally to produce that bright white light.

If electricity is available, converting it to light is a bit of a challenge. We are in a sense spoiled by today's LED lights, which are highly efficient and long lasting. I've been reading recently that when they fail it is usually not the actual diode that fails, so I suspect ways will be found to refurbish them and keep them going for a long time. But the day will come when we have to go back to various sorts of arc lights and carbon filament incandescent bulbs.

Water

Here is Southern Ontario there is no shortage of good ground water, so I suspect wells with hand or wind driven pumps will be the thing. Friends in Australia and Hawaii tell me about their large outdoor water storage tanks. This looked odd to me and at first I wondered why we don't use such things here, but then I realized that they would freeze solid in the winter. In cold countries indoor cisterns are more practical and can be filled using rainwater, or well water pumped when the wind is blowing.

Electrically driven pumps will no doubt be used where power is available—they save a lot of hand pumping and are easy to control.

Sewage

There are many low tech ways of safely handling sewage. But we'll need to recover and use the plant nutrients and organic matter it contains, so I would think composting toilets will be very popular. I can recommend two books on the subject of composting human waste: The Humanure Handbook, by Joe Jenkins, and The Scoop on Poop, by Dan Chiras.

Food

Food is going to stop arriving regularly at the local supermarkets. To me, it seems that the necessary response would be to switch over to using locally grown food and growing much of it yourself, and to have enough food stored to last you through to the next harvest. There is a lot to say about this subject, but since it's not directly connected to electricity, I leave it for another post.

Cooking

Cooking is largely a matter of heating food, so we'll do it by burning biomass. Preferably in a nice indoor wood burning cookstove. I suspect the demand for those will go through the roof when it becomes more clear how things are going. Fortunately there are alternative that can be made by hand from local materials—mud/brick ovens, rocket stoves, etc. Google will lead you to all kinds of information on these.

Refrigeration

Where winter is sufficiently cold, the obvious solution is to use ice, harvested from frozen bodies of water, and to set up a well insulated icehouse to store that ice through the summer.

Ammonia based refrigeration uses heat as its power input, and should be within the reach of village level technology.

The kind of refrigeration we are all used to uses some variation of freon as its working fluid and electric motors to pump that fluid. I expect that once existing refrigeration equipment has worn out, freon will be too big a challenge to make locally and we will abandon the technology.

Heating

For space heating woodstoves are the obvious solution. As with cookstoves, I think at some point there will be a huge demand for heating stoves. Getting set up to heat with wood before you are forced to do so would be a good idea. If electricity is available, fans can be used to move air around the house and heat it more evenly.

Heating your house with wood takes a lot more wood than cooking. It you don't own a wood lot, you should find someone reliable who specializes in cutting, splitting and delivering firewood.

If you do own a woodlot, you'll likely be doing that for yourself. At some point gasoline won't be available to power chainsaws and you'll have to fall back on more traditional methods. Here is a series of posts on this subject by Category 5, another Canadian kollapsnik and blogger.

C5 Gets Wood:

 

Cooling

I covered this in some detail in part 12 of this series, here.

Communications

A small community which is generating its own electricity should be able to get its landline telephone system working again. Setting up a local broadcast radio station also sounds like a good project to foster community solidarity. And ham radio may be one of the few ways of finding out what is going on in the world. When modern solid state equipment wears out, vacuum tubes should be doable with village technology.

Transportation

Fossil fuel powered vehicles will no doubt be used until supplies of those fuels run out. It would be good to ration those fuels and see that they get used for the most critical purposes for as long as possible. It may be possible to convert some internal combustion engines to using wood gas to extend their usefulness.

Bikes are actually pretty high tech, and will eventually wear out beyond local repair, especially those rubber tires.

Horses and other draught animals will become extremely valuable, and we should do what we can in advance to encourage and support horse breeders.

Water transportation, using lakes, rivers, canals and powered by sail or muscles will grow in importance.

But walking will probably be the default mode of transporation, especially within the local area. And most of us will try to avoid having to make long trips.

Cottage Industry

I'm adding a new category here, because without the factories that now make all the goods we use, we will have to return to making them for ourselves. With modern knowledge, tools, equipment and electrical power, there is a great deal than can be done using local and salvaged materials. Acquiring the skills needed is something all of us should be working at. Pick an area that interests you and learn everything you can about it.

I bake bread and know a fair bit about growing grain and milling it. I make cheese and I know how to milk a cow. I weave wicker baskets and harvest willow that grows locally. As well as being an electrician, I am fairly good at carpentry, plumbing and drywall. These skills and a great many others will be needed and can be learned with some effort, if necessary from books and the internet while it lasts, but ideal from people who already know them.

Many years ago I started working on a degree in electrical engineering, but soon dropped out and apprenticed as an electrician instead. So the electrical parts of what I've been talking about here seem fairly straight forward to me. But I've been thinking recently that a degree in chemical engineering would be damn handy, or at least the equivalent knowledge, with a focus on low tech, small scale applications.

In Conclusion

Back in Part 10 of this series I said, "It seems to me that supplies of electrical power, diesel fuel and money will be at the heart of many of the troubles that lie ahead, so I'll concentrate on those areas." I think we've finally reached the end of the discussion on electrical power. Next time I'll talk about diesel fuel and the supply chains that rely on it.

Responding to Collapse, Part 13: Keeping the Lights on When the Grid Goes Down Forever

gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Joe Clarkson

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool on October 16, 2019

Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner

 

Standing in for me this week is Joe Clarkson standing in for Irvine Mills. lol.

Hoping to get some energy back for next Sunday

RE


I'm doing something new this time, which is to publish a post that is almost entirely the work on one of my regular readers and commenters, Joe Clarkson, who lives off-grid on the Big Island of Hawaii. My knowledge of solar electric systems is entirely theoretical and I have always found that in the process of actually building something like this, one learns a great deal that isn't covered in the books. So I am pleased to present this material from someone who can speak with a much greater degree of practical experience than me.

I do have a few comments to make, but I'll save those for the end of the post.

-Irv Mills



Keeping the Lights on When the Grid Goes Down Forever

by Joe Clarkson

As someone who has lived most of my adult life in an off-grid home, I have had a lot of experience in managing the equipment needed to replicate the round-the-clock availability of electricity provided by the grid. That experience has been marked by a few failures but over the long haul our electrical supply has been more reliable than most utilities. That there is far more support available now than there was when I was setting up my first off-grid system back in 1975 (small hydro/diesel) makes living off-grid even easier. And since the rural neighborhood surrounding my home has homes that are all off-grid, I rarely hear the questions that many people asked me in years past, “Why do you live off the grid?” and What’s it like?”

The first question I answered by explaining that land without public utilities, like power and water, is almost always far less expensive than land with them. This is true, but I almost never went on to explain that I didn’t like the feeling of insecurity that came with being dependent on the grid. I have long felt that the grid is vulnerable to any number of disruptions, some of them likely to be permanent, and I wanted to live in a situation where I had more control over my electrical supply. Most people still think that attitude must also come with wearing a tin-foil hat.

The answer to the second question was that living off the grid was mostly like living on it. This is even more true now that solar panels have gotten so inexpensive that it is easy to have an ample supply of electricity. My current house is a sort of “legacy” off-grid home. It started out in 1986 with very little solar capacity (under 800 W), so everything was geared to minimizing the use of electricity. Thirty years ago, our electrical consumption was about 2 kWh per day at most. Now that I have 4 kW of solar PV capacity, we have become more profligate, even with the kids gone, and we use 4-5 kWh per day. A solar installer recently told me that he typically designs off-grid homes for a capacity of 20 kWh per day, just as much as the typical grid-connected home around here uses.

I have lived without electricity during two years serving in the Peace Corps and found it easy to do, albeit on a tropical atoll. This experience gave me a deeper understanding of the place electricity has in the modern world. I won’t be discussing that place here, although that is something that everyone should consider thoroughly before making plans for adapting to collapse. Instead, I will describe my way of replicating a modern household electrical system without the grid and my preparations for keeping it going as long as I can.

I know that if the grid goes down forever and business-as-usual becomes ever-accelerating collapse, it will be impossible to maintain an independent electrical system for the long term. But I would like to keep it going as long as possible, if only to ease the transition from a modern, high-energy life to one that will look a lot like life was here in Hawai‘i before contact with outsiders changed everything. These old bones are not ready for a life of subsistence agriculture and hunting-gathering in service to a feudal lord. That life will eventually come, if not for my wife and me, then for our children and their children, but I hope to make the transition as gradual as possible for all of us. If collapse is rapid, it also just might be the difference between life and death.

Our Home Power System Details

So, what kind of system do we have and how do we intend to keep it going during collapse? Our electrical supply is old-school and typical of many off-grid systems:

  • 4 kW of solar supply (Sixteen 250 W modules with an output of 24 V DC nominal but wired in series-parallel to about 140 V).
  • Two 80-amp MPPT solar charge controllers convert the solar output to 24 VDC for the battery.
  • 900 amp-hour lead-acid battery (12 cells at 2V each)
  • 4 kW inverter (2 Outback FX2024 operating in parallel at 120/240 VAC output)
  • 6 kW Northern Lights diesel generator

 

Inverters with solar charge controllers to the right

 

One half of 4 kW solar PV array.
The other half is on the roof of another building but looks identical.

 

Battery box 
(with concrete block to keep a visiting 4-year-old grandchild out), 
6kW genset, diesel supply in 55-gallon drum.

 

24 V battery
(12 Hawker flooded lead-acid cells, each 900 Ah)

 

24 VDC water pump inside concrete block enclosure

 

Solar hot water system with TV and Ham antennas behind.
80-gallon hot water tank is stainless steel.

 

240 VAC wood splitter runs off the solar electric system.

 

38,000-gallon water tank.
24 feet in diameter X 12 feet high.
Half the tank is underground.

The average solar incidence here in up-country Hamakua is low, only about 2.5 peak sun-hours per day. But with 4 kW of solar array, this is enough to average about 10 kWh per day, more than twice as much as we actually use. This means that we rarely need to use the back-up diesel to charge the batteries. Our average annual use of the generator is about 30-40 hours a year at a maximum charging rate of 2 kW. My estimate is that we use about 10 gallons of diesel a year in the generator.

The appliances serving the home are pretty typical except for refrigeration and water pumping. We have a washer and propane heated dryer, a propane range, propane back up water heater (rarely used since we also have ample solar water heating) the usual compliment of LED lighting and an assortment of communications and entertainment equipment (flat screen TV, a couple of computers, CD player and receiver), clothes iron, vacuum cleaner, bathroom appliances like hair dryer and toothbrushes, all being used at rates that would be typical in a grid connected house. We do power everything from power bars so that we can turn off equipment completely so as to avoid “ghost loads”.

Our refrigeration and water pumping are DC. This was originally for efficiency and power demand reasons, but over the years we have kept these appliances operating directly off the battery as a precaution against inverter failure. If the inverters fail, we can still have water and keep our refrigerator and freezer powered up. We would need to run the generator in the evenings two to three hours for light and for other electrical appliances, but it would save us from having to run the generator more often to keep the fridge cool and to pump water. Now that DC LED light bulbs are available, we may switch back to DC lighting, which would not be too difficult as the lighting load center is separate from the load center for the outlets (our lighting was originally DC).

Our water system is based on two corrugated steel tanks (including metal roofs) with heavy polyethylene liners. A 40,000-gallon main tank is filled with water from our roof and that water is pumped up to a 2,000-gallon tank about 100 feet higher than the house with a 24 VDC Shurflo pump. The little Shurflo pump only moves a couple of gallons per minute, but we only need to turn it on about once or twice a week for a few hours. (We have another piped water system with non-potable water for agriculture and livestock, but a description of that system is outside the scope of this post).

How much of these systems can we keep operating while adapting to collapse? In a collapse situation propane will be impossible to get. The clothes dryer can be abandoned totally to line drying (what we mostly do now), the back-up water heater can be shut down, and the range can be nursed along for a few months to a few years depending on the state of the 125-gallon propane tank at the time of propane delivery failure. For the longer term we have a wood cooking range on a covered lanai. This range would also be a source of hot water once I get the auxiliary water tank installation off my “to do” list.

So, the long-term energy sources for the house and farm are slated to be solar electricity and wood, with solar hot water for as long as the solar hot water modules last (perhaps 15 to 20 years). We have plenty of wood on the property and even have an electric wood splitter powered from the solar system. The wood range has a probable life measured in decades. We have a wood heater for those cool winter days (low 60s), but how to keep the solar system going?

The short answer for most of the power conversion equipment is to have plenty of spares. The inverters can be completely rebuilt with three circuit boards and a cooling fan for each inverter. Those parts are on the shelf. The inverters have been in continuous operation since 2006, so I expect them to need rebuilding in the next few years. The solar charge controllers have an estimated 15 to 20-year life and they are only about 7 years old, so with a spare for each the charge control system can last another 30-35 years. My current crop of solar panels is only about 5 years old, so they should last for a long time yet and I already have their replacements handy, since I bought another set for a second home that probably won’t get built after all. If we do finally build the second home, it will have a duplicate electrical system that can be intertied with our existing system, thereby increasing redundancy.

Here is a table summarizing the power system and the appliances operating from it:

Item

Estimated Life Span (Years)

Method of Repair

If Failure is Unavoidable

Solar PV modules

25-30

Replace with spares

Remove bad modules, rewire and use less electricity

Charge controllers

15-20

Replace with spares

Reconfigure PV to battery charging voltage and manually switch modules on and off (works only with flooded cell batteries)

Inverters

15-20

Rebuild with spare boards

Use DC appliances only or replace with legacy spare inverter (I have a couple of old Trace 2024 inverters in storage)

Battery

Wide variation

Replace with spares? Pick the battery with the longest possible life?

Use no electric equipment except any that can be operated directly off the solar array (DC motors, heaters)

Diesel generator

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

Have plenty of maintenance spares (belts, filters, etc.)

Greatly reduce electricity consumption in cloudy weather

Water pump

10

Replace with spares or rebuild with still-good parts from failed pumps

Haul water with buckets or install eave-level tank or install catchment roof at upper tank.

Corrugated water tanks

30-50

Reinforce weak areas with cables

Use any available vessel for water storage and hand carry water in buckets

Refrigerator

30

None

Evaporative cooling? Night radiation cooling?

Freezer

30

None

No frozen food

Washer

25

None

Hand wash with plunger. Have manual wringer on hand.

Propane dryer

30

None

Line dry everything all the time

Propane range

40

None

Substitute wood and wood range

Solar hot water modules

20

Substitute modules with spares?

Water heating loop in wood range

Stainless steel solar hot water tank

50

Move to wood range location

Batch heat water on stove

Household wiring

50+

Repair with spares

Live without electricity


Battery Considerations

Without an industrial civilization as backstop, the biggest hurdle to keeping a solar system going is the short life of the battery bank. My batteries have been well maintained, but they were three years old when I purchased them 8 years ago. They are nearing the end of their cycle life.

If it cannot be replaced by going to the nearest battery store, the main attribute a battery will need to have is the ability to operate over a large number of daily charge-discharge cycles. There are numerous comparisons of battery cost and cycle life on line. Most of those comparisons result in lithium-ion batteries being the best choice, especially if cost is not a determining factor, just because of their superior cycle life.

 

Many lithium-ion batteries are touted as having up to 10,000 cycles, even with 80% daily discharge. That would result in a life expectancy of 27 years even though they are typically guaranteed for only 10 years. Even though the cell chemistry could last as long as 27 years, my worry is that the sophisticated electronics that manage the charging of each cell in a lithium-ion battery will probably have a life expectancy of less than that.

I have not yet decided on a final battery replacement strategy. Here are some pros and cons for the best main choices (excluding price):

  • Lithium ion: proven long cycle life but delicate to charge and requires sophisticated electronic charge management system.
  • Lead-acid: Very forgiving if well maintained but have the shortest cycle life. It may be possible to store “dry charged” cells for many years before putting them in service.
  • Nickel-iron: Reputed to have a very long life and very forgiving of a simple charging system (similar to lead-acid). Very hard to damage except by using poor water for electrolyte replenishment. I am still not certain that the lifespan of this battery matches its reputation. Manufacturer literature suggests a cycle life between that of a good lead-acid battery and a lithium ion battery.

I am leaning toward lithium ion. I need to confirm the life expectancy of the typical battery management system and any needed protection from a solar charge controller failure.

I am also keeping an eye on the market for flow batteries for the home. These are quite new and have a limited track record, but should have very long life with easily replaceable pumps.

I am also tempted to see if I can craft build a pure-lead-plate battery from roofing lead sheet.

 

Conclusion

This post has covered a lot of expensive equipment, much of which my wife and I have acquired over many years. We feel very fortunate to have been able to do so. When one adds up the cost of a small parcel of decent farmland, a home and the outbuildings and equipment a small farm requires, including the equipment needed to provide electricity, water and heat for the home (including in-ground piping and electrical circuits) and other costs like livestock, fencing, roads, ponds, and land leveling, it becomes obvious that it takes a lot of money to prepare to eventually live without money.

I do know that the one thing that will always have value when adapting to collapse will be the skills it takes to help manage a small off-grid farm. Any person that has the ability to grow and hunt for food, manage livestock, operate energy and water systems and knows which end of a screwdriver to grab, is likely to find a place in a post-industrial-civilization world, even without a lot of money for preparation. I am still learning these skills and I started a long time ago. It’s past time to get started, so I recommend a crash course in practical trade skills to anyone that has few of them. Good luck to us all!



Wind and Hydro Power

Anticipating questions from our readers, I asked Joe about wind and water power. Here is what he had to say, which makes good sense to me. —Irv

I have had a small wind turbine as part of my array of battery charging sources and found it to be more trouble than it was worth. It was a Whisper 1000 and it really needed strong winds to produce much power. It also had a continuing series of mechanical problems, but I kept it going for a couple of years and then threw it away.

I have also had a lot of experience with the larger Bergey 10 kilowatt wind turbine on village power projects. It worked a little better than the Whisper but also required a lot of maintenance. Constant changes of blade leading edge protection tape, furling cable that broke and very high noise levels made it a pain to use. Now that solar modules are so inexpensive, I strongly advise against wind turbines except for large, grid-tied machines for commercial power producers.

Small hydro is another story. If a small stream with a reasonable head is available, small hydro can be a great charging source. I recommend going with a DC alternator to charge batteries and use an inverter for AC power. The small hydro system just substitutes for solar panels as a battery charging source.

If a larger stream is available, enough to generate the maximum power required at the site, then an all AC system can be installed. A load diversion governor is a lot cheaper than a variable geometry turbine. With a load diversion governor, the AC alternator is kept loaded at full output at all times and any unneeded power is electronically shunted to a waste load, typically a water heater element inserted in the penstock or a spa basin.

 

Small hydro is extremely reliable. The only difficult part is getting clean water into the penstock, which means that a lot of attention has to be paid to the intake structure and subsequent settling and screening equipment. Flood conditions put a great deal of force on the intake, so everything in the stream bed has to be very robust. The best small hydro sources are hillside springs, which avoid a lot of the issues with stream sources. Year around streams and springs are relatively rare, but if you have one they are great sources of energy. With enough head, it takes very little water to produce enough energy to power a homestead.

 


Irv again, with thanks to Joe. And now, just a few comments from me.

I agree very strongly with what Joe said in his conclusion about learning practical skills. If your work has you sitting in front of a computer pushing little bits of information around on the screen, and what you do for fun in you off hours never sees you touching a tool, it is time to start learning some of the skills that will be needed when BAU(Business as Usual) is no longer functioning.

Now back to the specifics of off-grid power systems:

One important thing to be clear about is that batteries don't like to be "cycled", that is, to be charged and discharged. Joe touched briefly on this, but I think it is important to emphasize.

Every time a battery is discharged and charged back up (cycled), it wears out a little bit and its capacity to store energy is reduced. The backup batteries that I maintained as an electrician in the power system were kept fully charged and only discharged during outages, and even then not too deeply discharged. They usually lasted for about 15 to 20 years.

In an off grid solar electric system, batteries are cycled fairly deeply on a daily basis. Joe estimates his current batteries will have a lifetime of around 11 years, which sounds about right to me.

The temperature where Joe lives ranges from the 50s to the 70s, Fahrenheit. This is, to say the least, less extreme than the temperatures we experience here in Southern Ontario ( -30° F to around 90° F.) And there are many places not that far north of here that get even colder in the winter. Precipitation around here also comes in various nasty forms in a addition to rain. Such as hail, freezing rain, sleet and snow.

This has some negative effects on solar panels, which are inevitably exposed to the weather, causing them to fail sooner. And of course their output is limited when they are covered in ice or snow.

Batteries function best when their temperature is in the 70s Fahrenheit. That means they need to be in a heated space in the winter. Lead acid and nickel iron batteries also need a well ventilated space due to the hydrogen created during charging and discharging. You probably wouldn't want them in your house due to the fire hazard. Lithium batteries don't given off hydrogen and can withstand more charge/discharge cycles, which is a major plus. But they are more expensive and required more complex charging controls.

I would appreciate hearing from any readers who are running solar electric systems with lead acid or nickel iron batteries in climates with cold winters.

 

I have some experience repairing battery chargers at the component level, but that equipment was built in the 1960s and 70s, used single layer, single sided circuit boards and discreet components rather than integrated circuits. It almost seemed as if it was designed with repair in mind.

 

Joe tells me that more modern equipment is less maintainable at the component level—about the best you can do is change out a whole board or module.

Acknowledging that, it still seems to me that there are quite a few people around who I would call tinkers, but who are currently referred to as "makers", at least some of whom have the knowledge, skills and equipment to salvage and refurbish/repurpose defective equipment when that becomes the only alternative. I think in some cases they will succeed in getting some extra life, maybe a few more decades, out of systems like Joe's. A way to make storage batteries using salvaged materials and a fairly low level of technology would be very helpful.

Finally, as Joe says, a system like his does not come cheap, and I suspect many of my readers will find themselves lacking the financial resources to set up anything close. And yet I've devoted this whole post to the idea, and I would recommend that those who can afford it should go ahead and set up such a system. Why so?

First of all, electricity is very useful and if you could extend it's availability by a few decades, it would be worth quite a bit to do so. In one's own domestic situation electric lighting, refrigeration and water pumping would be worth a lot, along with communications and entertainment.

Secondly, in the years after the grid finally fails us, I would like to think an attempt will be made to switch over to sustainable, "village level" technology and to utilize local energy sources to generate electricity. This transition would be greatly facilitated by off grid power systems of the type Joe describes.

A closer look at this transition and the positive legacies of the industrial world will be the subject of my next post.


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

 
 

This Week In Doom, October 27: “Get Over It”


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 27, 2019

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”  ― Carl Sandburg


Last night, Trump tweeted "…." An ellipsis. Later a message that "Something very big has just happened!" Today, Trump says that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of the Islamic State, has been killed after a U.S. special operations mission targeted him in northwestern Syria. Trump claimed credit, declaring that U.S. forces have brought "the world's No. 1 terrorist leader to justice." 

This latest announcement is part of a diversion to hijack the narrative of the past week, and change the subject from a devastating confirmation of his misdeeds, corruptions and felonies while in office. After several weeks of having both the facts and the law go against #TeamTreason, Trump and his gaggle of dead-enders are reduced to hijacking the narrative, pounding the table and stealing the valor of American servicemen. Because the facts are in, and Trump's impeachment is a certainty.


During this week's closed-door testimony of William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, the so-called “quid pro quo“ was defined point by point. Taylor illustrated how Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in the hope of pressuring president Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into a thoroughly discredited conspiracy theory about the 2016 election, in the hopes of reversing the “Russia did it“ narrative and smearing the candidacy of Joe Biden.  Thus did he effectively bring down the teetering remains of the Trump administration, even though Trumpsuckers and nearly 40% of the population will have never heard of Amb. Taylor or his testimony.

When you can make John Bolton look like the Voice of Restraint, you’ve really gone far afield. Yet here we are. Taylor reported that when Bolton got wind of a meeting with Ukrainian officials at which Gordon Sundland, the US ambassador to the EU, brought up the investigations, he shut it down, and later referred to the scheme as an “drug deal."

The extent to which the House investigation has uncovered one aspect of the criminal Ukraine grift after another stems from actions taken after Trump's first year. When Trump named a government, he put a number of people in place no longer working for a notably high-turnover administration. Names like Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster, even Flynn, Bannon, et all have come and gone. Even the acerbic John Kelly, who replaced the ill-fated Reince Priebus, had to go.  

Trump made repeated attempts to rein in or fire Mueller during the investigation, and was saved from that misconduct only by the refusal of people around him to incriminate themselves (including former  White House counsel Don McGahn; Rob Porter, his staff secretary; and even Corey Lewandowski, who was otherwise eager to punch a female reporter in his zeal to obey Fat Orange. Even Kirstjen Nielsen, executrix of some of the most heinous American human rights violations ever perpetrated on the helpless since the genocide of native peoples, proved neither compliant nor extreme enough.

During the first year to 18 months, rumors leaked to the White House that Trump was chafing at being told "no" so often by his advisers. Reportedly he wanted to “let Trump be Trump,“ and that he was restive at those telling him he couldn’t do something because of the “Law.” Like most petty autocrats, Trump has no use for the law aside from bankruptcy law or stiffing contractors, or for those who traffic in it, (except for pet Attorneys General and hand nominated supreme court judges.)

As a result, during the worst crisis of this “administration,” (which might more properly described as opera bouffe about a bumbling, mid-level mafia crew if the stakes for the rest of us weren't so high) Fat Orange has no staff depth, and makes it up as he goes along.

Trump has run this administration as if it was a reality TV show; this illustrates that he understands the psyche of the average American pretty well, since most people figure if they haven’t seen it on TV, it doesn’t exist. A generation that has either given up on or reading newspapers as they shrink their way to irrelevance, has fewer sources of information. And after three years of multiple-times-a-day confrontation with vulgarity and brazen mendacity, most prefer to tune out rather than have their precious spare time soiled by T-Rex. Yet the law and the courts operate outside of the range of the television cameras and grind away according to the dictates of black letter law. This is where Trump will be up against it, not matter how furiously he pounds his tiny orange fists on the table.

Returning to the testimony of William B. Taylor: NBC News reported Taylor told the committee about the order to withhold military funding to Ukraine:  Taylor said that an unnamed Office of Management and Budget official told him that “the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to OMB.” This makes clear that the order came from Trump himself. This means Trump can’t claim that he didn’t know what Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was doing and can't simply scapegoat Mulvaney or others for the Ukraine quid pro quo, because it’s clear that people within OMB were well aware that the order came from the top.

What you might call a "smoking howitzer."

For all of this, Trump bet the house on getting a CNN soundbite from Zelensky.

These ass hats were concocting a Q Anon-level fiction to prosecute a conspiracy theory which holds that Ukraine hacked Democrats emails and set up Russia to get blamed for it  during 2016. For this, we are all fortunate that Trump has such a fragile ego, and is so desperate for redress and validation. A better politician would’ve told Democrats and critics to go fuck themselves.

Notice how Barr keeps popping up, Zelig like, in many of the stories. First in Ukraine, then in Italy, chasing down various threads intended to go into the conspiracy theory voodoo doll. Taylor also ratified the fact that Bill Barr is up to his beefy jowls in the entire mess, since the Justice Department has tried to keep this entire crockpot buried, by advising the acting director of national intelligence to not transmit the whistleblower complaint sounding the alarm about it to Congress. I’m not an attorney, but that looks like obstruction of justice to me. Barr would do well to measure for curtains in John Mitchell's old cell.

If you look forward to what comes ahead, it’s pretty clear the Trump (and was left of his team) realize that this is all going to play out in a court of public opinion, everything that Trump has done in terms of propagandized ring this, including his execrable “lynching“ tweet several days after the passing of Elijah Cummings, has been about distracting from the evidence emerging from hearing rooms by casting doubt on the process, discrediting the whistleblower, serial tweeting, and so on. Looks very much like when Trump goes down, Barr is going with him.


"Conservatives who for eight years sowed the dragon's teeth of partisan politics are horrified to discover they have grown an actual dragon."       — Stephen King

Why are Ukraine  and Russia story one story? After the Russia-backed government falls in Kiev, Russia invades and annexes Crimea, which had been part of Ukraine. The world community cries foul. The US and others ultimately sanction Russia for the invasion. the sanctions bite. Putin tries to get them lifted. Think back tom 2016, and recall not on ly the trump Tower phone call organized by Fredo Jr. and attended by Kushner and Russian proxies, but also recall that the only point of interest for #TeamTreason in the Republican party platform was the change relative to Ukraine.

In July 2016, WaPo reported:

The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.

Throughout the campaign, Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.

Manafort exited the campaign shortly thereafter, but his work had been done. This change confused many, and was greeted with incongruity by others. But for those who possess memory, the liberal superpower, October, 2019 is when a number of other shoes dropped. 

“All roads lead to Putin.”  ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  

On October 18, Trump met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Dems in a Cabinet meeting, ostensibly to talk about Trump’s widely opposed pullout of U.S. forces from northern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s bloody attack.. The resultant picture was tweeted by Trump as evidence of Pelosi’s weakness. Pelosi posted the image across the top of her Twitter page. It's been downhill for Trump ever since, at least in the court of legitimate public opinion.

The resultant picture (caricaturized at top) has been subject to as many alternative, self-serving, and contradictory interpretations as Rashomon.

The dramatic official White House photograph shows Pelosi standing and pointing at the seated president across the Cabinet Room table. Although the two are separated by only a few feet, the space illustrated a yawning divide and chronicled in a flash the state of a nation convulsed by impeachment, the prominence of women in politics and the 2020 election.

The reaction to the image, from the top down, also reflected the Rohrschach-type reality that even an image can be narrated in vastly different ways…

The photo shows Pelosi standing, finger pointed at Trump, who is saying something back.

“I think I was excusing myself from the room,” Pelosi said. “At that moment I was probably saying, ‘All roads lead to Putin.”


All of which comes after "Get Over It, " in which: Mick Mulvaney admits, then denies, quid pro quo. The acting White House chief of staff said on Thursday last that the U.S. had withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine to further President Trump’s political interests, effectively confirming a key premise of the impeachment inquiry. Mulvaney later tried to reverse his comments, saying that “there was absolutely no quid pro quo.” Read his conflicting statements. By this time the toothpaste had left the tube. A White House spokesman had not made such a public ass of themselves since Ron Ziegler in 1973 saying that"a prior statement was "inoperative."


It's not opera bouffe without elements of farce. Bringing us to Rudy Giuliani.

3 big reasons why Rudy Giuliani is the weakest link in Trump's inner circle as the Ukraine scandal widens

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, were arrested on October 10 trying to board an international flight with one-way tickets at Dulles International. They were headed to Vienna, the home of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who reported ly has been bankrolling their schemes, which include illegal political donations. Parnas and Fruman, have been indicted on campaign finance charges. They were part of the pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rivals, including Joe Biden.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York said. Parnas and. Fruman “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office,” including by making donations to a pro-Trump super PAC. Read the indictment.

The indictment refers to a “Congressman-1” — identified as former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas — who was the lucky beneficiary of approximately $3 million that the super PAC spent during the 2018 cycle. The men sought Sessions’s help in removing the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, “at least in part at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials,” according to the indictment.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records. The men had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.


 

FBI counterintelligence bombshell just landed on Rudy Giuliani’s head

After Rudy announced that he no longer had a lawyer and didn’t need one, yet another person tied to his Ukraine scandal was arrested. This came amid news that Rudy tried to get Donald Trump to take a guy in Pennsylvania and sell him off to Turkey. Now the news has somehow got even worse for Giuliani.

It’s not just that the SDNY is deep into investigating Rudy Giuliani’s criminal finances, which we’ve all known for a few days. It’s that the FBI is also running a counterintelligence probe into Rudy’s international antics, according to a CNN bombshell this afternoon.

This means the Feds aren’t just looking to nail Rudy for having committed financial crimes by taking payoffs from foreign governments and entities. They’re pursuing Rudy for the crimes he committed against the United States, on behalf of the nations that were paying him off.

 

And of course, Trump said he had no idea who Rosencranz and Guildenstern were, nor had he ever met them. Not so much.

Rudy Giuliani was carrying out his Ukraine antics at Trump’s instruction, while Rudy was being bankrolled by Parnas’ hilariously named company Fraud Guarantee. We’re supposed to believe that Trump didn’t know Rudy was relying on Parnas, even though Trump has spent years posing for pictures with Parnas? 

And why Rudy Giuliani and his arrested henchmen were planning to flee to Vienna?

Because that's where the money is. 

Vienna is where wealthy Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash is currently being held under house arrest. Now it all makes perfect sense.

Rudy’s associates weren’t just trying to flee the country because they were trying to avoid arrest. Rudy and his associates were planning to go to Vienna so they could huddle with Firtash, who has long been suspected of being knee deep in the Trump-Rudy criminal conspiracy in Ukraine.

Recently the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, met with a small group of Republicans at Camp David.This after Gen. William McRaven’s Op-Ed:  “Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President”


Had enough yet?

The testimonies of William Taylor, Fiona Hill, and others have confirmed that while official American policy was to encourage democracy in Ukraine to help it fight off Russia, the Trump administration ran a shadow foreign policy team, headed by Rudy Guiliani, and including special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, the Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump did not want "to provide any assistance at all" to Ukraine in its struggle against Russia. Trump personally intervened to withhold money that Congress had appropriated for that struggle until Ukraine leaders promised to state publicly that they were opening an investigation into the company for which Joe Biden's son Hunter worked. 

Trump's position that there was "no quid pro quo" is in the shredder. Taylor kept proof in the form of a paper trail: what the young people call, "the receipts." This. Is. Huge. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tried calling leaks from Taylor's testimony "a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution," but Taylor's statement was explosive even without hearing what he said behind closed doors. 

Note, though, what Taylor said Trump wanted in exchange for the release of military aid. He didn't demand actual dirt on Hunter Biden (again, there is no evidence that Biden did anything illegal), but rather he wanted a public declaration that Ukraine was investigating the company for which Biden worked. This all came down to getting a soundbite on CNN with which he could compromise the candidacy of a political opponent. An announcement that Ukraine was investigating the company, dumped into the media, would swamp Joe Biden's presidential candidacy. 

This is important. Trump understood that the idea that Ukraine was investigating corruption was the story, not that actual corruption existed or could be foujnd, let alone proved. This is 2016 redux with the story of Clinton's emails, which continually dominated 2016 election coverage, and which we now know was a complete non-story. Trump wanted to skew the public narrative before the 2020 election, and he pressured a foreign government to help him do that. Look for the coming impeachment battle to be waged on television.


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.

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